Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thank You Boehner

Susan Brannon
23 July 2011
Houston, we've got a problem.  Those were the days when we were mainly concerned about the space shuttles going into space.  Today is a different story.  The attempt to come to an agreement over the U.S. debt falls into the gutter.  Republicans blame the Democrats and the Democrats blame the Republicans.  Following the news of the collapse, the FAA is wiping 4,000 people from their books,  Walter Reed Medical Hospital is closing its door while wall street and major corporations prepare for a possibility of default. Murdoch's reign collapses while scandals grow from sea to shining sea.  No one is going to Hampton this summer.

Shuffling through all the headlines it is difficult to find out who, what, where and when.  The most important words in journalism.  There are threats of cutting down with Social Security and Medicare over the course of 10 years. 1 trillion in savings that would come from the "draw-down" in the wars, in the next ten years.  I thought Obama said that he would withdrawal the troops by October of 2010? 

The Republicans want to cut Medicaid, but Obama was not comfortable with that idea. The idea of taking from those who do not have anything is a bit impossible.  If anything, if we cut down on Social Security and Medicare, we will gain in our costs of health care due to the lack of preventive care for the elderly.  Did not the elderly build our country?  Did not the elderly pay taxes and pensions all of their lives? 

They could gain 800 Billion in revenue if they eliminated the top-end-Bush tax cuts.  The Republicans did not go for that idea.  We are not left with much of a choice, but to raise the debt limit without Congress and call for a 1.5 trillion in cuts.  The Gang of Six wanted to slash 3.7 trillion over ten years, and gain 1 trillion through tax code reform.

It looks like Obama will have a difficult time getting re-elected next term, for it seems that he has been put between a rock and a hard place.

Here is the list of Public Debt by recent administrations...
Regan (1981-1988) - 1.26 trillion added to the debt (8 years)
BushSr (1989-1992) -0.81 trillion (4 years)
Bill Clinton (1993-2000) 0.13 Trillion (8 years)
GWBush - (2001-2008)- 2.48 trillion (8 years)
Obama (2009-2011)- 4.35 trillion (3 years)

The numbers for Obama do not look good here. He spent more money in the attempt to create more jobs by developing a stimulus plan.  That did not work.  Our wars continue, and the debt increases.  Our Social Security debt is the same as our war debt at 701,893,976 and adding by the minute.

However, there are some different numbers since Obama's administration:
The total federal outlays for the fiscal year 2010 was 3.456 trillion, was down 64 billion from a year earlier.
Incomes were up by 58 billion, to 2.162 trillion.
The budget gap was 177 billion less than the previous estimates in July, due to lower than forecast spending and higher than expected tax collections.

Yet, the Federal Reserve attempts to support the economy more than doubles its profits to...get this...75.8 billion.  The increase reflects income from its purchases of more than 1.75 trillion in Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities.

Who has been benefiting from our spending and debt?  Why the Federal Reserve of course, not to mention a few defense contractors "repairing" the war damage and feeding the troops.  Oh, I forgot to mention the banks, and GE who profited from the bailouts to begin with.  GE now holds 91 billion in cash, 40 billion in short term debt, compared with 16 billion in cash and 90 billion in short term debt three years ago.

Thank you Boehner for letting America down by walking out of the meeting and not solving any problems.
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Required Labeling for Organic Foods

Susan Brannon
23 July 2011

If we want to stay away from GMO food products and ban GMO food brands, it is a good idea to understand the requirements for the labeling of organic foods.  Legalities, food, food safety and labeling can be confusing.  Some items on the shelf can give the impression that a product is organic, but it is not.  The label can say, "All Natural"  and the word natural does not mean organic.  The same goes for cosmetics and shampoos.  A person must take their time while shopping and learn the marketing strategies that the companies use to sell their products.  Read the ingredients.

Someone once told me, if you can't pronounce it, then don't buy it!  As of this day, I use this as a rule of thumb.  (Thank God for iphones, now I can look up an ingredient on the spot!)
The labeling of organic foods is very costly for the companies and I have noticed that many chains now stay away from the legal requirement of labeling, and instead say that "blaugh blaugh blaugh stands by this product as organic" Again, we become at the mercy of trusting the company that produces the products that we put into our bodies.

  • A truly certified organic product must first have the USDA organic seal.
  • It should wear the label "100% organic"
To acquire the label  the following standards must be met:
  • Organic meats must come from animals who have not been given hormones or antibiotics.
  • Organic foods cannot be grown or produced with the use of conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, or radiation.
  • Organic eggs, poultry, cheeses and other dairy products must come from animals given no hormones or antibiotics and must be produced without pesticides.
  • Produced by farmers and/or companies that practice, or highly emphasize, renewable resources and water and soil conservation.
  • A government-approved certifier visits where the food is being processed or grown to ensure that all standards are being met before a food item can be labeled "organic." 
The company that uses the USDA Organic label can be fined  up to $11,000 per violation.

There are two things to keep in mind:
  • Food companies and farms selling under $5,000 a year worth of food items are not allowed to use the organic label because they're exempt.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture places no restrictions on other labeling claims such as free-range, sustainable harvest, or no growth hormones.
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 For more reading go to the USDA Organic website

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reading the ingredients

Susan Brannon
 22 July 2011
I started a petition asking for the labeling of GMO food products and I need thousands of signatures.  In the meantime, we can know the brands that have GMO ingredients, we can buy products labeled Non-GMO, and purchase 100% organic, or, grow our own food.
As it stands, the FDA is governed by the Food, Drug and  Cosmetic Act which is only concerned with food "additives" or food products that are considered "GRAS" meaning, generally recognized as safe.
The FDA believes that non GMO foods and GMO food products are equal and not subject to labeling.  I understand that the cost of labeling and creating a new "regulation" to do such would require some Federal funding.  However, our health is important as well, or shall I say our nations health.
Yet, in 2000 an international trade agreement was established and more than 130 countries signed for the labeling of GMO food products. That was 10 years ago and counting.  This agreement gives the countries the right to decide for themselves and the risks involved to reject GMO foods.  So far, Europe has followed in the embargo of GM foods, but the citizens continue to fight when a threat of allowing production in Europe arises.
In the end, it is us, the consumer, that will be the final voice.  We must chose to purchase only non GMO foods, ban the brands that use GM ingredients, and through the pocket our voice will be strong and clear.  It is call consumer demand.
Remember, when the consumers started to demand organic foods?  It was difficult to find the foods and much more expensive.  You had to go to specialty stores and read the labels very carefully.  I now see organic foods in the grocery store chains, not a lot but some.  The demand for healthier foods is getting stronger and the result is that the producers will need to meet those demands if they want to stay in business.
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

How can I avoid GMO Food Products?

If GMO Food products are everywhere, then how can anyone avoid them?
The only way is to buy 100% organic foods that are specifically labeled Non-GMO.

Most of the produce in the grocery store is non GMO.  Except for a few:
Hawaiian grown pineapples and papayas.

Most of the GMO foods will be in products of highly processed foods.
There are not many choices at the moment.  All we can do is to encourage those who do not make GMO food products is to label them as such.

See the list of companies that have GMO ingredients.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Common GMO Food Products

Susan Brannon
17 July 2011

  • Rapeseed - Resistance to certain pesticides and improved rapeseed cultivars to be free of erucic acid and glucosinolates. Gluconsinolates, which were found in rapeseed meal leftover from pressing, are toxic and had prevented the use of the meal in animal feed. In Canada, where "double-zero" rapeseed was developed, the crop was renamed "canola" (Canadian oil) to differentiate it from non-edible rapeseed.

  • Honey - Honey can be produced from GM crops. Some Canadian honey comes from bees collecting nectar from GM canola plants. This has shut down exports of Canadian honey to Europe.

  • Cotton - Resistant to certain pesticides - considered a food because the oil can be consumed. The introduction of genetically engineered cotton plants has had an unexpectedly effect on Chinese agriculture. The so-called Bt cotton plants that produce a chemical that kills the cotton bollworm have not only reduced the incidence of the pest in cotton fields, but also in neighboring fields of corn, soybeans, and other crops.

  • Rice - Genetically modified to contain high amounts of Vitamin A. Rice containing human genes is to be grown in the US. Rather than end up on dinner plates, the rice will make human proteins useful for treating infant diarrhea in the developing world.

  • Soybean - Genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides - Soy foods including, soy beverages, tofu, soy oil, soy flour, lecithin. Other products may include breads, pastries, snack foods, baked products, fried products, edible oil products and special purpose foods.

  • Sugar cane - Made resistant to certain pesticides. A large percentage of sweeteners used in processed food actually comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets. Genetically modified sugar cane is regarded so badly by consumers at the present time that it could not be marketed successfully.

  • Tomatoes - Made for a longer shelf life and to prevent a substance that causes tomatoes to rot and degrade.

  • Corn - Resistant to certain pesticides - Corn oil, flour, sugar or syrup. May include snack foods, baked goods, fried foods, edible oil products, confectionery, special purpose foods, and soft drinks.

  • Sweet corn - genetically modified to produces its own insecticide. Officials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said that  thousands of tonnes of genetically engineered sweetcorn have made their way into the human food supply chain, even though the produce has been approved only for use in animal feed. Recently Monsanto, a biotechnology food producer, said that about half of the USA's sweetcorn acreage has been planted with genetically modified seed this year.

  • Canola - Canola oil. May include edible oil products, fried foods, and baked products, snack foods.

  • Potatoes - (Atlantic, Russett Burbank, Russet Norkatah, and Shepody) - May include snack foods, processed potato products and other processed foods containing potatoes.

  • Flax - More and more food products contain flax oil and seed because of their excellent nutritional properties. No genetically modified flax is currently grown. An herbicide-resistant GM flax was introduced in 2001, but was soon taken off the market because European importers refused to buy it.

  • Papaya - The first virus resistant papayas were commercially grown in Hawaii in 1999. Transgenic papayas now cover about one thousand hectares, or three quarters of the total Hawaiian papaya crop. Monsanto, donated technology to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, for developing a papaya resistant to the ringspot virus in India.

  • Squash - (yellow crookneck) - Some zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are also GM but they are not popular with farmers.

  • Red-hearted chicory - (radicchio) - Chicory (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum) is popular in some regions as a salad green, especially in France and Belgium. Scientists developed a genetically modified line of chicory containing a gene that makes it male sterile, simply facilitating the production of hybrid cultivars. Today there is no genetically modified chicory on the market.

  • Cotton seed oil - Cottonseed oil and linters. Products may include blended vegetable oils, fried foods, baked foods, snack foods, edible oil products, and small goods casings.

  • Tobacco -The company Vector has a GMO tobacco being sold under the brand of Quest® cigarettes in the U.S. It is engineered to produce low or no nicotine.

  • Meat - Meat and dairy products usually come from animals that have eaten GM feed.

  • Peas - Genetically modified (GM) peas created immune responses in mice, suggesting that they may also create serious allergic reactions in people. The peas had been inserted with a gene from kidney beans, which creates a protein that acts as a pesticide.

  • Vegetable Oil - Most generic vegetable oils and margarines used in restaurants and in processed foods in North America are made from soy, corn, canola, or cottonseed. Unless these oils specifically say "Non-GMO" or "Organic," it is probably genetically modified.

  • Sugarbeets - May include any processed foods containing sugar.

  • Dairy Products - About 22 percent of cows in the U.S. are injected with recombinant (genetically modified) bovine growth hormone (rbGH).

  • Vitamins - Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is often made from corn, vitamin E is usually made from soy. Vitamins A, B2, B6, and B12 may be derived from GMOs as well as vitamin D and vitamin K may have "carriers" derived from GM corn sources, such as starch, glucose, and maltodextrin.
  • True Food - has a great list for non GMO foods, taking action with letters to government.

It’s virtually impossible to provide a complete list of genetically modified food (GM food) in the United States because there aren’t any laws for genetically modified crops!
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