Thursday, July 10, 2014

RNAi Ebola FDA Clinical Hold

...a leading developer of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics, today announced that the Company has received verbal notice from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the TKM-Ebola Phase I healthy volunteer clinical study has been placed on clinical hold. This notice applies only to this study.

Joint Project Manager Medical Countermeasure Systems (JPM-MCS) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
In 2010, Tekmira signed a $140-million contract with the DoD to advance an RNAi therapeutic, which utilized our LNP technology, to treat Ebola virus infection. In 2013, the collaboration was expanded to include significant advances in LNP formulation technology, including a new LNP formulation that was more potent, the ability to be able to lyophilize (freeze-dry) LNP formulations and an LNP formulation that can be administered subcutaneously. In January 2014, Tekmira commenced TKM-Ebola Phase I clinical trial. JPM-MCS, a component of the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, aims to provide U.S. military forces and the nation with safe, effective, and innovative medical solutions to counter chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. JPM-MCS facilitates the advanced development and acquisition of medical countermeasures and systems to enhance U.S. biodefense response capability. For more information, visit Read more about TKM-Ebola here.

Monsanto Company

In 2014, Tekmira signed an Option Agreement with Monsanto, permitting Monsanto to obtain a license to use Tekmira's proprietary delivery technology. The companies' agreement and research collaboration will focus on the development of new innovative biological solutions for farmers, which have the potential to provide new options for sustainable pest, virus and weed control. The potential value of the transaction could reach up to $86.2 million following the successful completion of milestones.

Monsanto (MON) pays Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) $1.5M for a milestone related to the research program under the Option Agreement the two companies signed in January covering Tekmira's proprietary delivery technology and IP for use in agricultural applications. The potential value of the agreement could be as high as $86.2M if all program milestones are met.

Bristol-Myers Squibb

In 2010, Tekmira entered into a multi-year, target validation agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Tekmira will supply LNP formulations of siRNA provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb to silence target genes of interest. Bristol-Myers paid Tekmira $3-million concurrent with the signing of the agreement. Tekmira announced a further expansion of the collaboration to include broader applications of its LNP technology and additional target validation work.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY)

Tekmira has granted a license to Alnylam to use Tekmira's LNP technology to enable RNAi therapeutic products. Tekmira will receive milestone and royalty payments as these LNP-enabled products are developed and commercialized. Alnylam currently has three LNP-enabled products in human clinical trials: ALN-TTR02, ALN-VSP, and ALN-PCS02. Read more about Tekmira’s Partnered Products here.

About Small interfering RNA

Small interfering RNA (siRNA) are synthetic RNA molecules designed to suppress the production of proteins through RNA interference (RNAi). Sequencing of the human genome has provided the information needed to design siRNA therapeutics to target a wide range of disease-causing proteins. In fact, a siRNA therapeutic can be designed in a shorter time frame than synthesizing and screening conventional small molecule drugs. Further, siRNA-based therapeutics can bind to a target protein mRNA with great specificity. When siRNA are introduced into the cell cytoplasm, they are rapidly incorporated into an RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) and guided to the target mRNA. The RISC cuts and destroys the target mRNA, preventing the subsequent production of this specific protein. The RISC can remain stable inside the cell for weeks, destroying many more copies of the target mRNA and suppressing this specific protein for long periods of time.

Tekmira has a worldwide license for the discovery, development and commercialization of RNAi products using siRNA directed to 13 gene targets.

Implications of Ebola data for Tekmira HBV Program

Like it or not, it is the HBV program that is driving the interest in Tekmira, at least in the near-term.  Therefore, the 15% sell-off in the stock yesterday following the Clinical Hold imposed by the FDA can be interpreted to be due to the uncertainty of what it means for the HBV program.

It is my working hypothesis that for the treatment of HBV via the immune reactivation pathway, the use of even transient immune suppression is to be avoided.  On the other hand, the recent Ebola clinical results by Tekmira suggest that transient immune suppression may also be desirable for 3rd gen SNALP delivery.  As TKM-HBV is expected to utilize '3rd gen' SNALP delivery, too, the Ebola results with immune activation seem like a bad omen.

While this cannot be ignored, there are a few reasons to believe that this might be too simplistic.

1.       Difference in dose

Although there was an apparent tendency for immune stimulation throughout the dose escalation with TKM-EBOLA, it was only at the high dose of 0.5mg/kg where a dose-limiting toxicity was observed. And according the yesterday's press release on the Clinical Hold, it is in particular cytokine elevations that were observed at 'higher doses' that are the issue.  

 Since unlike Ebola, HBV only replicates in hepatocytes, and because SNALP potency is highest in hepatocytes, the efficacious dose for HBV may be well below 0.5mg/kg with 3rd gen formulations.  Of note, even 2nd gen SNALPs are highly effective at 0.3mg/kg based on the Tekmira-enabled ALN-TTR02 candidate now in phase III.

2.       Different sequence, different immune stimulation

It is known (e.g. Judge et al. 2005Sequence-dependent immune stimulation of the mammalian innate immune response by synthetic siRNAs) that immune stimulation by RNAi, especially when liposomally formulated, is highly dependent on the actual sequence and modification pattern of the RNAi trigger.  Since TKM-EBOLA and TKM-HBV are different in that regard, it is well possible that while one 3rd gen formulation is immunostimulatory, the other is not.

3.       Immunostimulatory by design/by screen

Scientifically, I was most disappointed by the Ebola immune stimulations as Tekmira made a big deal in the wake of similar observation in 2010 with TKM-ApoB that with improved, more predictive immune stimulation assays, they would now be able to screen out the immunostimulatory formulations.  In a black-and-white world you would conclude ‘obviously not!’.

In a world of shades of grey, I can imagine that TKM-EBOLA might have happened to slip through this part of the screening process.  The reason is that since Ebola infects a number of cell types besides hepatocytes (endothelial cells, phagocytes etc), the impressive efficacy of TKM-EBOLA always stood out as something quite unusual.  So while containing the spread of the virus by hitting it particularly hard in the liver might be part of the mechanism, I am quite receptive to the notion that the scientists did not mind all that much some immune stimulation when the RNAi formulation had so much efficacy.
With HBV, however, the company might be much more careful in screening out immunostimulatory potential.

I can now hear Sarepta investors yell ‘it’s an artefact’, but I would caution them that Sarepta and the morpholino field at large is proposing morpholinos with cationic appendices for infectious diseases while these are not really considered for genetic diseases.  What I don’t understand is that why a modification that is supposed to be helpful in e.g. suppressing viral gene expression should not likewise be useful for suppressing human gene expression.  So maybe the value of these modifications is in tickling the immune system?

Seralini Study Restored to Academia

...restores the study to the peer-reviewed literature so that it can be consulted and built upon by other scientists.

The study found severe liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats fed the GM maize and low levels of Roundup that are below those permitted in drinking water in the EU. Toxic effects were found from the GM maize tested alone, as well as from Roundup tested alone and together with the maize. Additional unexpected findings were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups.

The study was first published in Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) in September 2012[1] but was retracted by the editor-in-chief in November 2013 after a sustained campaign of criticism and defamation by pro-GMO scientists.[2]

Now the study has been republished by Environmental Sciences Europe. The republished version contains extra material addressing criticisms of the original publication. The raw data underlying the study’s findings are also published – unlike the raw data for the industry studies that underlie regulatory approvals of Roundup, which are kept secret. However, the new paper presents the same results as before and the conclusions are unchanged.

Comments from scientists

Dr Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist based in London, commented, “Few studies would survive such intensive scrutiny by fellow scientists. The republication of the study after three expert reviews is a testament to its rigour, as well as to the integrity of the researchers.

“If anyone still doubts the quality of this study, they should simply read the republished paper. The science speaks for itself.

“If even then they refuse to accept the results, they should launch their own research study on these two toxic products that have now been in the human food and animal feed chain for many years.”

The Glyphosate Aluminum Cage

Glyphosate cages all kinds of things. One of the things it does in the gut is it cages all the minerals, like iron and manganese and even sulfur, so it prevents the gut bacteria from gaining access to really important micronutrients.  Even things like molybdenum which we only need in small amounts, and we need these minerals for certain enzymes.  Glyphosate builds a cage around them and it builds a cage around aluminum as well.
...The aluminum ends up accumulating, getting trapped with the glyphosate, and then the aluminum ends up in the pineal gland, and messes up sleep, and causes a whole cascade of problems in the brain. The glyphosate and aluminum are working together to be much more toxic than they would be, acting alone.
Kidney failure
...sugarcane fields in Sri Lanka and in El Salvador are sprayed with glyphosate right before the harvest just as wheat is and the workers are dying at a young age from kidney failure. People with Celiac disease are at a high risk of kidney failure and Seneff can see how glyphosate would kill the kidney, because you get into an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria that produces p-cresol, which is very toxic to the kidney.
Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
...glyphosate binds to the gluten. Gluten usually forms cross-mesh connections between different amino acids, and glyphosate would disrupt that because it would prevent the cross-mesh by binding to the gluten and causing the gluten to stay in the form that is known to be more allergenic. So she believes that glyphosate causes the gluten to assume the form that is more allergenic and this applies to both Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
MIT senior research scientist, Stephanie Seneff

Safer Than Ever EU/Monsanto Glyphosate Re-assessment

 "Monsanto and a consortium of European chemical companies that performed the risk assessment for the re-approval of glyphosate....
...glyphosate poses no unacceptable risks. Glyphosate is not metabolized or accumulated in the body, not genotoxic, not carcinogenic, not endocrine disrupting, and not considered persistent or bioaccumulative; it has no reproductive toxicity, no toxic effects on hormone-producing or hormone-dependent organs, and no unacceptable effect on bees. Therefore any risks are within acceptable standards.  The only risks noted were that glyphosate is a severe eye irritant and is persistent in soil.
Issues that could not be finalized in the assessment were: relevance of impurities, effects on microorganisms, effects on non-targeted plants, and indirect effects on biodiversity - non-targeted organisms, particularly birds.
The Proposed Decision at the end of Vol. 1 is completely blacked out.
...How did they arrive at such a preposterous conclusion when the evidence for glyphosate herbicides toxicity has accumulated worldwide to such an extent that a number of countries are already banning its use?
...Denmark took the lead to ban the herbicide back in 2003 [2] The Dutch Parliament banned it in April 2014 for non-commercial use [3], to take effect by the end of 2015; France is set to follow. Brazil, one of the largest growers of glyphosate-tolerant genetically modified (GM) crops has now filed a law suit by Federal Prosecutors to ban glyphosate along with 8 other dangerous pesticides [4]. El Salvador imposed a complete ban in February 2013, linking glyphosate herbicides to an epidemic of chronic kidney disease that has struck the region [5]. Sri Lanka’s scientists have provided evidence for glyphosate accumulation in the body especially in the presence of hard water. Its ability to capture and retain arsenic and nephrotoxic metals enables it to act as a carrier to deliver the toxins to the kidney [6] (see [7] Sri Lanka Partially Bans Glyphosate for Deadly Kidney Disease Epidemic, SiS 62). The Sri Lankan government initially instituted a ban, but reneged under pressure from industry [8]. 
Glyphosate has also been linked to many other health problems including cancers (see [9] Glyphosate and CancerSiS 62), infertility (see [10] Glyphosate/Roundup & Human Male InfertilitySiS 62), along with neurotoxicity, reproductive problems, birth defects, genotoxicity, and other human health problems as well as ecotoxicity (see [11] Ban GMOs Now, special ISIS report), and many have considered a world-wide ban long overdue.

Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) [19].   And the GTF consists of Monsanto and a consortium of chemical companies all over Europe, including Syngenta UK and Dow Italy, with an odd one from Taiwan thrown in for good measure (see pp. 9-13 of Vol. 1 of the RAR [13]). Although the BfR added comments here and there, all the assessments of the toxicological studies were from the GTF. Hence Monsanto and other companies who stood to gain from selling glyphosate herbicides were given free rein to pronounce glyphosate effectively even safer than before, hence the increase in ADI.
Let us be clear: even the industry’s studies found toxic effects for acute (single dose), subchronic (short-term) and chronic (long-term) exposures at some dosage. The way the game is played is to vary the dose and find the maximum dose where no adverse effects are observed (NOAL). Then divide that by 100 to obtain the ADI and declare the substance “safe”. The chemical industries already knowthat glyphosate is toxic and can cause a host of physical problems.

...The entire process of risk assessment for re-approval was flawed and corrupt to the core. It is rife with conflict of interest, non-transparent and heavily biased towards unpublished, non-peer reviewed studies from industry. The RAR is worse than useless, and should be rejected outright.  All available evidence including studies on commercial formulations of glyphosate herbicides should be seriously considered in any risk assessment, and by a truly independent, unbiased panel free from any conflict of interest."

Science, Society, Sustainability

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

EPA is Sued Cyantraniliprole Approval Farce

"Despite specific comments urging EPA to consult and EPA's conclusions in the Risk Assessment that additional analyses and cooperation with the Services were necessary, EPA finalized its CTP Registration Decision without consulting with NMFS or FWS as required by Section 7 of the ESA [Endangered Species Act]," states the complaint.
The groups say the government's authorization of the pesticide violates the Endangered Species Act. They want a court order vacating the EPA authorization of CTP use.
The groups' lead counsel is Patti Goldman, with Earthjustice, of Seattle.

The EPA registered the pesticide in January, including product mixtures containing other pesticides such as thiamethoxam.
Photo: Summer Solstice comes at the precise moment when the sun’s power is at its peak. Solstice means ‘sun stands still’ because the sun rises and sets in the same spot for a few days. Here in the northern hemisphere, this is the longest day and shortest night of the year. From then on, the days will get shorter. This phenomenon is a direct result of the Earth-Sun relationship. After peaking, the Sun begins to wane, and the journey into the harvest season begins. 

It has always been an important solar event throughout the evolution of humankind. The axis of Stonehenge and the Temple of the Sun in Mexico are both oriented in the direction of the Midsummer sunrise.

Astrologically the Summer Solstice corresponds to the entry of the Sun into Cancer, interestingly a water sign governed by the moon. Cancer symbolizes the moving waters of our inner life, our moods and cycles, our instincts, intuition, 
our juiciness. It is the force & power of our imagination, our emotions, our roots. A reflective, passive, cyclic force, this sign marks the intimate inner world, personal & family bonds, as well as our larger collective family, with an accent on the tribe, the clan, and a sense of belonging. 

The Festival of Summer Solstice is sometimes called Midsummer’s Eve or St. John’s, and it is celebrated like other ‘holy days’ on the Eve, starting at twilight, when the power is most concentrated. 

Midsummer’s Eve is a magical time to communicate with the plant & fairy spirits, as it is the time of the herb harvest. All plants gathered this night are considered exceptionally potent for healing and ritual purposes.

St. John’s Wort & other healing herbs are placed around the home for protection as they dry. They are also thrown into the Midsummer bonfire, and when the coals have cooled down the ashes are mixed with water and sprinkled on the fields, the 4 corners of the home, and the on the head or feet of the children. 

Royal fern seeds gathered at midnight on the eve are said to make you invisible; rub the blossoms on your eyelids to see the wee folk, which will also make you wealthy and wise, but be sure to carry a bit of rue in your pocket or you might be ‘pixie-led’. Can’t find the rue, then turn your jacket inside out and follow the old ‘Ley-Lines’, which will keep you from getting lost in fairy land. 
Divination on matters of love are especially powerful on Midsummer’s Eve. Young women place yarrow or other herbs and flowers native to their part of the world peaking at this time, under their pillows, to dream of their future mates. 

Called St. John’s Eve by the church, this is traditionally the time when the herb St. John’ Wort reaches its full potency. Since it is a solar herb, it is used to bring the power of the sun to people who suffer from depression.      

The ancient Druids celebrated the Summer Solstice as the Wedding of Heaven and Earth. The Goddess manifests as Mother Earth & the God as the Sun King.

In even earlier times, the sun was perceived in its shinning prime and glory –
giver of light and heat and life, as the effulgent force of the Feminine - 
a passionate aspect of the versatile Great Mother, who issues forth & supports all life. 

The Solar Goddess was known in many ancient cultures and Her Priestess’ were highly regarded as healers and Psychopomps - Spiritual guides, initiating supplicants into the mysteries hidden behind the blinding light and fire of the solar disk. They used the 1st mirrors or lenses to harness the sun, to start the altar fires and to cauterize wounds for healing.

During the time of the ancient Egyptians, Sirius, the Dog Star rose on the Summer Solstice, heralding the beginning of their new year, just before the season of the Nile’s flooding.

The sun itself was deemed to be the all-seeing, all knowing, all powerful eye; but It was also known to be the “scorching eye of Ra” burning away the shadows, like a laser in the hands of a surgeon, cutting away disease, a power not to be taken (pardon the pun) lightly. 

Probably the most ancient source of the Solar Force known to humanity is an Egyptian lion-headed Goddess called Sekhmet. She displays all the passion of the noonday-sun at its peak, burning away all that does not serve, rousing us to dance our true power, in the magic ritual of our transformation.

Solar energy & its radiations are said to be the cause of evolution itself, reminding us that we can take an active role in our evolutionary process by aligning ourselves with this Solar Power, plugging in directly to the source of ourselves, to the source of action and passion.

But remember, at this time of the zenith, the brightest light, casts the deepest shadow. 

~Hazel Archer Ginsberg, Festivals Coordinator & Council Member of the Chicago Rudolf Steiner Branch

Cyantraniliprole; Pesticide Tolerances
This is how it works...I took the time to find out...Even read the entire paper!
ACTION...Final Rule.
SUMMARY...This regulation establishes tolerances for residues of cyantraniliprole in or on multiple commodities that are identified and discussed later in this document. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company (DuPont) requested these tolerances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).

ϟ ...a quantitative acute dietary exposure assessment is unnecessary.

ϟ ...dietary exposure assessment for the purpose of assessing cancer risk is unnecessary

ϟ be provided 5 years after the tolerance is established,

ϟ ...An acute dietary risk assessment was not conducted

ϟ ...intermediate-term exposures are not likely because of the intermittent nature of applications by homeowners.

ϟ ...In addition, the submitted data support the conclusion that the effects on the thyroid are secondary to effects on the liver.

ϟ ...Post-application incidental oral exposures for children may occur for short- and intermediate-term durations due to the persistence of cyantraniliprole. Further information regarding EPA standard assumptions and generic inputs for residential exposures may be found at EPA.

ϟ ...EPA has assumed that cyantraniliprole does not have a common mechanism of toxicity with other substances.

ϟ need for a developmental neurotoxicity study or additional UFs to account for neurotoxicity.

ϟ ...No adverse effect resulting from a single oral exposure was identified and no acute dietary endpoint was selected. Therefore, cyantraniliprole is not expected to pose an acute risk.

ϟ ...2. Chronic risk. Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for chronic exposure, EPA has concluded that chronic exposure to cyantraniliprole from food and water will utilize 50% of the cPAD for children 1-2 years old (the population group receiving the greatest exposure) and 22% of the general U.S. population.

ϟ ...Determination of safety. Based on these risk assessments, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to cyantraniliprole residues.

ϟ ...In making its tolerance decisions, EPA seeks to harmonize U.S. tolerances with international standards whenever possible, consistent with U.S. food safety standards and agricultural practices. EPA considers the international maximum residue limits (MRLs) established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(4). The Codex Alimentarius is a joint United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization food standards program, and it is recognized as an international food safety standards-setting organization in trade agreements to which the United States is a party. EPA may establish a tolerance that is different from a Codex MRL; however, FFDCA section 408(b)(4) requires that EPA explain the reasons for departing from the Codex level. Currently there are no Codex MRLs for cyantraniliprole.

ϟ ...Therefore, tolerances are established for residues of cyantraniliprole, 3-bromo-1-(3-chloro-2-pyridinyl)-N-[4-cyano-2-methyl-6-[(methylamino)carbonyl]phenyl]-1 H-pyrazole-5-carboxamide, including its metabolites and degradates, in or on....

Insulin GMO Creates Type I in Type II Diabetes Simultaneously

"A groundbreaking new study finds synthetic (GMO) insulin is capable of rapidly producing type 1 diabetes in type 2 diabetics."
Here are some clues deep within our DNA/RNA/ATP/ADP that show why this happens...

The repressor protein is produced by a regulator gene. The region of DNA where the repressor protein binds is the operator site. The promoter site is a region of DNA where RNA polymerase can bind. The entire unit (promoter, operator, and genes) is an operon.
The operator acts like a switch that can turn several genes on or off at the same time.
The lac operon is an inducible operon that uses negative control. It is inducible because the structural genes are normally inactive but the presence of lactose induces them to become active. It is negative control because an active repressor prevents transcription.

ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) 

You can learn all about ATP/ADP here on my blog.
The energy in one glucose molecule is used to produce 36 ATP.  ATP has approximately the right amount of energy for most cellular reactions.
ATP is produced and used continuously. The entire amount of ATP in an organism is recycled once per minute. Most cells maintain only a few seconds supply of ATP.
Transcription of the structural genes of the lac operon also requires reduced levels of glucose. The role of glucose in promoting transcription is discussed later (see Positive and Negative Control of the Lac Operon below).

Positive and Negative Control of the Lac Operon

The lac operon discussed earlier as an example of negative control is also an example of positive control. The cell normally uses glucose as a carbon source. When the level of glucose declines, the level of a signaling molecule called cyclic AMP (cAMP)  increases. Cyclic AMP binds to a protein called CAP (catabolic activator protein) which then binds to the promoter region, causing transcription to occur. Reduced glucose, therefore, promotes the transcription of the lac Z, Y, and A genes. However, because the lac operon is inducible, lactose must be present.
By having both positive and negative control operating at the same time, the structural genes in the lac operon are not active unless the level of glucose is reduced and lactose is available.

Protein Activation

Some proteins are not active when they are first formed. They must undergo modification such as folding, enzymatic cleavage, or bond formation.
Example: Proinsulin is a precursor to the hormone insulin. It must be cleaved into 2 polypeptide chains and then some amino acids must be removed to form insulin.
Many proteins are activated by adding phosphate groups. They can be inactivated by removing phosphate groups. For example, kinases activate by adding phosphate groups and phosphodiesterase inactivates by removing the phosphate groups.

Feedback Control

Some enzymes in a metabolic pathway may be negatively inhibited by products of the pathway.
  In oxidation-reduction reactions, coenzymes often remove electrons from the substrate and pass them to other molecules. Often the electron is added to a proton to form a hydrogen atom before it is passed. In this way, coenzymes serve to carry energy in the form of electrons (or hydrogen atoms) from one compound to another.

Vitamins are small organic molecules required in trace amounts. They usually act as coenzymes or precursors to coenzymes.

"After recombinant (GMO) insulin administration their blood glucose control deteriorated, and their own insulin producing beta cells – as measured by declining C-peptide levels (a marker for the production of natural insulin) – decreased insulin production to a deficiency levels commonly found in type 1 diabetes patients. The average time it took for the patients to develop full blown type 1 diabetes was 7.7 months, with one patient developing the condition within 1.1 months....
Last year, we reported on the dangers of insulin therapy for type 2 diabetics, following the publication of a study comprised of almost 85,000 type 2 diabetic patients that found insulin monotherapy doubled their risk of all-cause mortality, in addition to significantly increasing their risk for diabetes-related complications and cancer. Insulin monotherapy resulted in:
  • 2.0 times more myocardial infarctions.
  • 1.7 time more major adverse cardiac events
  • 1.4 time more strokes
  • 3.5 times more renal complications
  • 2.1 time more neuropathy
  • 1.2 times more eye complications
  • 1.4 times more cancer
  • 2.2 times more deaths
Now, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism titled, "Insulin administration may trigger type 1 diabetes in Japanese type 2 diabetes patients with type 1 diabetes high-risk HLA class II and the insulin gene VNTR genotype," is shedding light on a possible explanation for why insulin treatment may accelerate morbidity and mortality in type 2 diabetics. The study revealed that giving genetically susceptible type 2 diabetes patients recombinant insulin can trigger their bodies to target their own insulin producing cells for autoimmune destruction, effectively producing 'double diabetes': type 1 and type 2, as a result."

USDA MUM Bee Killing Parasites Rampant ZOMBEE

Queen starves due to lack of workers in the hive...
ZomBee Watch is a citizen science project sponsored by the San Francisco State University Department of Biology, the San Francisco State University Center for Computing for Life Sciences and the Natural History Museum of LA County. ZomBee Watch was initiated as a follow-up to the discovery that the Zombie Fly Apocephalus borealis is parasitizing honey bees in California and possibly other areas of North America. You can read or download a copy of our original scientific paper, A New Threat to Honey Bees, the Parasitic Phorid Fly Apocephalus borealis, for free from PLoS One.

Honey bees infected by the Zombie Fly leave their hives at night and are attracted to nearby lights where they become stranded and eventually die. The presence of fly larvae in up to 18% of active foragers in some California honey bee hives makes the Zombie Fly a potential contributor to hive declines. This would be especially likely if Zombie Fly infection is widespread and higher in areas that are experiencing hive declines. We founded ZomBee Watch to find out how widespread Zombie Fly parasitism is and to learn how often unparasitized honey bees are attracted to lights at night for other reasons.

ZomBee Watch has three main goals.

To determine where in North America the Zombie Fly Apocephalus borealis is parasitizing honey bees.

To determine how often honey bees leave their hives at night, even if they are not parasitized by the Zombie Fly.

To engage citizen scientists in making a significant contribution to knowledge about honey bees and to become better observers of nature.
There are many ways you can get involved. It can be as easy as collecting honey bees that are under your porch light in the morning, under a street light or stranded on sidewalks. If you are a beekeeper, setting up a light trap near one of your hives is the most effective way to detect ZomBees. It's easy to make a simple, inexpensive light trap from materials available at your local hardware store. To test for the presence of Zombie Fly infection all you need to do is put honey bees you collect in a container and observe them periodically. Infected honey bees give rise to brown pill-like fly pupae in about a week and to adult flies a few weeks later. View the tutorial.

In California, parasitism begins to increase in early June and peaks in the fall and early winter months. Most records of the fly from other parts of North America (such as the Midwest and Northeast) are from late May to September, which is the most likely time that parasitism will be observed by citizen scientists in those areas.

Not all honey bees attracted to light produce Zombie Fly pupae. Whether or not you find parasitized bees, we are interested in your records.

I can totally understand this in Hawai'i around 2005 we were invaded by an invasive species. A wasp from Africa that laid their eggs in the Wiliwili Tree...In less then 6 months almost every tree was dead!
Every April they used to show their orange blooms. Hawaiians said when the tree blooms it's the time to watch for sharks in the ocean.

Natural Pesticides Help | Synthetics Harm 1990 Study False Foundations

Disclaimer: When conducting and even reading scientific research, it’s important to do so removed of pre-conceived social and political biases - take the science at face value.

Research on the psychoactive drug, cannabis, or marijuana, has been ablaze for some time. An article published by Robert Melamedeon the online Harm Reduction Journal draws the distinction between tobacco smoke (that contains the highly addictive compound, nicotine), and cannabis smoke (which contains the psychoactive, THC). At this point in time, it’s medically established that marijuana, even when smoked, has less severe adverse effects on the human body than tobacco. Yet the question remains - what are the degree of the detrimental effects that cannabis does have, and are there any medically beneficial effects?

Some research points to cannabis killing a variety of cancer types, including lung, breast and prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, skin, and glioma cancers. At the same time, however, a German study found that low THC doses encouraged lung cancer in in-vitro cells. Seemingly contradicting results, no? Just keep in mind that while nicotine and THC are chemically similar, their actual receptors in the human body vary in cell type distribution, which is what ultimately determines the effects on the human body.

… cannabis typically down-regulates immunologically-generated free radical production by promoting a Th2 immune cytokine profile. Furthermore, THC inhibits the enzyme necessary to activate some of the carcinogens found in smoke. In contrast, tobacco smoke increases the likelihood of carcinogenesis by overcoming normal cellular checkpoint protective mechanisms through the activity of respiratory epithelial cell nicotine receptors. Cannabinoids receptors have not been reported in respiratory epithelial cells (in skin they prevent cancer), and hence the DNA damage checkpoint mechanism should remain intact after prolonged cannabis exposure.

I highly recommend this article, which you can read fully here. It gives great insights into cell biology within a biomedical context.

Image: Courtesy of David Scharf, via The Scientist

Article: Melamede, Robert. “Cannabis and tobacco smoke are not equally carcinogenic.”
Above is an electron micrograph of a cannabis sativa leaf.

Here’s What Marijuana Looks Like Under The Microscope [Photos]

... resinous outgrowths known as trichomes. You may have also read that the sticky coating of trichomes is home to the active ingredients in cannabis – the stuff that gets you high and has all the medical benefits – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids. But have you ever wondered exactly what the trichomes do for the cannabis plant, or what biological purpose they serve?
Sticky resinous growths knows as trichomes are home to the active ingredients in cannabis. (Click picture to enlarge)Sticky resinous growths knows as trichomes are home to the active ingredients in cannabis. (Click picture to enlarge)Evolution of Trichomes
In nature, only the strong survive, and it is hypothesized by biologists that trichomes evolved as a defense mechanism of the cannabis plant against a range of potential enemies (1). Trichomes, from the Greek meaning ‘growth of hair,’ act as an evolutionary shield, protecting the plant and its seeds from the dangers of its environment, allowing it to reproduce. These adhesive sprouts form a protective layer against offensive insects, preventing them from reaching the surface of the plant. The chemicals in the trichomes make cannabis less palatable to hungry animals and can inhibit the growth of some types of fungus. The resin also helps to insulate the plant from high wind and low humidity, and acts as a natural ‘sun-screen’ in protecting against UV-B light rays. But since trichomes contain euphoric properties attractive to humans, it may be man who has had the most influence on the plants’ development through many years of favoring strains that consistently produce more of these gooey resin heads.

Dietary pesticides (99.99% all natural).
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Oct 1990; 87(19): 7777–7781.


B N AmesM Profet, and L S Gold
Author information ► Copyright and License information ►

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.


The toxicological significance of exposures to synthetic chemicals is examined in the context of exposures to naturally occurring chemicals. We calculate that 99.99% (by weight) of the pesticides in the American diet are chemicals that plants produce to defend themselves. Only 52 natural pesticides have been tested in high-dose animal cancer tests, and about half (27) are rodent carcinogens; these 27 are shown to be present in many common foods. We conclude that natural and synthetic chemicals are equally likely to be positive in animal cancer tests. 
We also conclude that at the low doses of most human exposures the comparative hazards of synthetic pesticide residues are insignificant.
Full text
Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.1M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

I would stay away from synthetic chemically prepared THC pills too...

Strike 3 DNA/RNA GMO Science False

A revolutionary new study reveals that the core tenet of classical genetics is patently false, and by implication: what we do in this life -- our diet, our mindset, our chemical exposures -- can directly impact the DNA and health of future generations.

A paradigm shifting new study titled, "Soma-to-Germline Transmission of RNA in Mice Xenografted with Human Tumour Cells: Possible Transport by Exosomes," promises to overturn 
several core tenets of classical genetics
including collapsing the timescale necessary for the transfer of genetic information
through the germline of a species (e.g. sperm) 
from hundreds of thousands of years to what amounts to 'real time' changes in biological systems.

...In classical genetics, Mendelian laws specify that the inheritance of traits passed from one generation to the next can only occur through sexual reproduction as information is passed down through the chromosomes of a species' germline cells (egg and sperm), and never through somatic (bodily) cells.  Genetic change, according to this deeply entrenched view, can take hundreds, thousands and even millions of generations to manifest.
The new study, however, has uncovered a novel mechanism through which somatic-to-germline transmission of genetic information is made possible.  Mice grafted with human melanoma tumor cells genetically manipulated to express genes for a fluorescent tracer enzyme (EGFP-encoding plasmid) were found to release information-containing molecules containing the EGFP tracer into the animals' blood; since EGFP is a non-human and non-murine expressed tracer, there was little doubt that the observed phenomenon was real.
...The implications of research on exosome-mediated information transfer are wide ranging. First, if your somatic cells, which are continually affected by your nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and even mind-body processes, can transfer genetic information through exosomes to the DNA within your germline cells, then your moment-to-moment decisions, behaviors, experiences, toxin and toxicant exposures, could theoretically affect the biological 'destinies' of your offspring, and their offspring, stretching on into the distant future. 
Exosome research also opens up promising possibilities in the realm of nutrigenomics and 'food as medicine.' A recent study found common plant foods, e.g. ginger, grapefruit, grapes, produce exosomes that, following digestion, enter human blood undegraded and subsequently down-regulate inflammatory pathways in the human body in a manner confirming some of their traditional folkloric medicinal uses.  If the somatic cells within our body are capable through extrachromosomal processes of modulating fundamental genetic processes within the germline cells, or, furthermore, if foods that we eat are also capable of acting as vectors of gene-regulatory information, truly the old reductionist, mechanistic, unilinear models of genetics must be abandoned in favor of a view that accounts for the vital importance of all our decisions, nutritional factors, environmental exposures, etc., in determining the course, not only of our bodily health, but the health of countless future generations as well.

Photo: Agree? Disagree?
You tell us!

RNA Interference Ridiculousness Alarming Boom is Over is Bust Soon

RNA interference (RNAi) is a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression, typically by causing the destruction of specific mRNA molecules
. . . The pathway is also used as a practical tool in biotechnology, medicine and insecticides.[1]
. . . It is becoming increasingly clear that RNA binding proteins regulate posttranscriptional gene expression and play a critical role in RNA stability and translation.
. . . micronucleus test was performed to detect chromosomal damage...from spleen of rats... rats fed GM soyabean alone revealed a significant decrease in the amount of DNA...
. . . the activator binds to DNA and enables the binding of RNA polymerase.
. . . The mechanism for the decrease in the amount of DNA was discussed by Zhou et al. [27] who reported on hepatocellular degeneration, necrosis, DNA damage and the lesions of the extracellular matrix...could cause liver toxicity due to DNA strand breaks in hepatocytes.
. . . The binding of an inhibitor...alters the shape of the enzyme, resulting in a distorted active site that does not function properly.
. . . Poisons are inhibitors that bind irreversibly.

Historically, it was known by other names, including co-suppression, post transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), and quelling. Only after these apparently unrelated processes were fully understood did it become clear that they all described the RNAi phenomenon.

USDA: RNA-interference Pesticides Will Need Special Safety Testing

The Effect of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Soybean on DNA, Cytogenicity and Some Antioxidant Enzymes in Rats

Photo: RNA interference (RNAi) is a biological process in which RNA molecules inhibit gene expression, typically by causing the destruction of specific mRNA molecules
. . . The pathway is also used as a practical tool in biotechnology, medicine and insecticides.[1] 
. . .  It is becoming increasingly clear that RNA binding proteins regulate posttranscriptional gene expression and play a critical role in RNA stability and translation. 
. . .  micronucleus test was performed to detect chromosomal damage...from spleen of rats... rats fed GM soyabean alone revealed a significant decrease in the amount of DNA...
. . . the activator binds to DNA and enables the binding of RNA polymerase.   
. . . The mechanism for the decrease in the amount of DNA was discussed by Zhou et al. [27] who reported on hepatocellular degeneration, necrosis, DNA damage and the lesions of the extracellular matrix...could cause liver toxicity due to DNA strand breaks in hepatocytes. 
. . . The binding of an inhibitor...alters the shape of the enzyme, resulting in a distorted active site that does not function properly.
. . .  Poisons are inhibitors that bind irreversibly.

Historically, it was known by other names, including co-suppression, post transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS), and quelling. Only after these apparently unrelated processes were fully understood did it become clear that they all described the RNAi phenomenon.


USDA: RNA-interference Pesticides Will Need Special Safety Testing

The Effect of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Soybean on DNA, Cytogenicity and Some Antioxidant Enzymes in Rats

The elephant is in the room.
We will all be squished... feeding as a dietary component.
Feasibility, limitation and possible solutions of RNAi-based technology for insect pest control.

"Numerous studies indicate that target gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi) could lead to insect death. This phenomenon has been considered as a potential strategy for insect pest control, and it is termed RNAi-mediated crop protection. However, there are many limitations using RNAi-based technology for pest control, with the effectiveness target gene selection and reliable double-strand RNA (dsRNA) delivery being two of the major challenges. With respect to target gene selection, at present, the use of homologous genes and genome-scale high-throughput screening are the main strategies adopted by researchers. Once the target gene is identified, dsRNA can be delivered by micro-injection or by feeding as a dietary component."

very specific ?
...for use in potential plant-based RNAi control strategies. Delivery of dsRNA expressed by genetically modified crops to the midgut of phytophagous insects is under investigation as a new tool for very specific protection of plants from insect pest species. The T. castaneum screening platform offers a system for discovery of candidate genes with high potential benefit.


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Spray Drift and Volatilization Agent Orange with RoundUp Enlist Duo Harming Kids!

"We are pleased to see that EPA is finally taking steps to consider volatilization drift. This important source of pesticide exposure has been overlooked for too long in the agency’s assessment of pesticide risk.

Data from the Pesticide Action Network’s Drift Catcher and state agency monitoring in several states clearly show that volatilization drift is affecting communities across the country. Many of the chemicals measured in on-the-ground tests are known to harm human health, and children are especially at risk.

The fact that 68 pesticides failed the screening test underscores the importance of this evaluation. Many of these chemicals — including the insecticide chlorpyrifos and the herbicide atrazine — are in widespread use and have been clearly linked to a range of health harms.

We urge EPA to finalize the volatilization screening tool, move quickly to implement the assessments and take effective and timely action on the results. Children and families in rural areas deserve no less." 

After years of pressure, EPA is poised to take action on the "other" kind of pesticide drift: volatilization. This kind of drift happens hours or even days after spraying. Pesticides that settle on soil or plants can become vapor and “re-drift,” spreading far and wide.

EPA has finally developed a new tool that measures whether a pesticide is likely to vaporize and re-drift. The agency needs to hear that we like this idea, and want them to take meaningful action on the results — and soon.

Please sign on to the petition below by this Friday, July 11, to urge EPA to protect children and families in rural areas from all kinds of pesticide drift.

{I can understand this because when my yard was at it's worst from being pesticided I would just stick my head out the back door, and start to get dizzy from the fumes.}

5,609 schools within 200 feet of farm fields may soon be blanketed with massive amounts of a toxic defoliant linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive and immune system problems. That’s the finding of a new Environmental Working Group analysis that shows that hundreds of thousands of children across the country will be at risk of increased exposure to the harmful chemical compound 2,4-D if the U.S. EPA approves a new weed killer mixture called “Enlist Duo” created by Dow AgroSciences. When it comes to dousing crops with noxious chemicals, the EPA focused on buffer zones for plants, not people, according to the agency’s recent risk analysis of Enlist Duo, which is a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate. WTF?


Did you know that lichen can be a sign of good air quality?
Small areas with many types of lichen have especially good quality air.
Photo: Did you know that lichen can be a sign of good air quality? Small areas with many types of lichen have especially good quality air. 

Photo: Lichen courtesy of Jim McCulloch/Creative Commons.
Photo: Lichen courtesy of Jim McCulloch/Creative Commons.

Collapse of Shipping Industry by DNA/RNA/GMO/Pesticide Patent Greed

Falling like dominoes...
The system of capitalism and patent greed is taking it's toll; even if it seems subtle.
"...increase in the average aflatoxin in corn.
Many states in the United States reported an increase in the level of contamination of fungal infection of the corn crop in 2012, compared with what it was in 2011. For example, in Missouri for more than 50% of the corn, harvested in October, was contaminated by a fungus Aspergillus flavus (In 2011 this figure was 8%).
Last year, drought conditions contributed to the spread of the fungus Aspergillus (Aspergillus flavus) — a pathogen that leads to the accumulation of toxins that can cause the death of livestock and pets.

He makes much of the harvest in 2012 could not be used for food and feed purposes..."

Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (NASDAQ:EGLE) suffered new low after a Seeking Alpha blog post was bearish on the stock, claiming Eagle is insolvent just like Genco. Verge Of Bankruptcy said “in its last quarterly filling, Genco listed assets of $2.9B. Turns out the bankruptcy court ruled their NAV was only $1.4B, well shy of the nearly $1.6B in debt it owed. Outcome: Genco shareholders are entitled to no recovery whatsoever. Now with Eagle, their balance sheet lists $1.7B in assets. Since the company has $1.2B in debt, it would appear on the surface that there’s plenty of money left over for shareholders. Well, that’s obviously not the case! Remember in the case of Genco, the judge agreed with the $1.4B valuation of the company, which is about 50 cents on the dollar. Using a similar ratio for Eagle gets you at a valuation of $0.8B or so. So shareholders are about $500M away from seeing a single penny!”

Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (NASDAQ:EGLE) Tumbles Amid Continued Scrutiny of SEC Filing
Shares in Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (NASDAQ:EGLE)
fell sharply on Tuesday, down some 34%,
and at their lowest since January 2013 in what looks to be a continued selloff six days after the company filed with the SEC its entry into a material definitive agreement.

egle stock name

Eagle Bulk Ships
Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. is the largest US-based owner of Handymax dry bulk vessels. This modern fleet is comprised principally of Supramax class vessels, ...

Eagle Bulk Ships | Eagle Bulk Ships
Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. is the largest US-based owner of Handymax dry bulk vessels. This modern fleet is comprised principally of Supramax class vessels, a larger and more efficient Handymax design that enjoys strong demand from customers around the world.

Genco, which owns or operates vessels that transport iron ore, coal, grain, steel and other products worldwide, listed assets of $2.4 billion and debt of $1.5 billion in its Chapter 11 petition, saying weakness in charter rates made it difficult for the company to pay creditors.
Default Waived
Before the filing, Genco hired Blackstone to explore a debt restructuring. Lenders agreed to waive default after Genco missed a $3.1 million interest payment on its convertible bond, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Genco made the payment on March 20.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Restricted Use Pesticide Texas 20,000 to 50,000 lbs. in 2010 and 2011 to 280,000 pounds per year

TEXAS Stop the Super Weed/Monsanto Attack Last Day to Comment...
What’s Happening Right Now in Texas is Utterly Destroying Monsanto’s “Sustainable” Farming Claims
While the agrochemical and GMO giant Monsanto claims to be a “sustainable” company on its web page, the ongoing, persistent and potentially devastating problem of superweeds is just one of many reasons why its claims do not appear to hold water, as many grassroots activists have noted in light of recent events. In Texas, for example, millions of acres of genetically modified cotton are now at risk of being lost, with the use of heavy, harsh chemicals the only proposed solution yet again.
A petition was filed by the Texas Department of Agriculture with the EPA recently to allow the emergency use of the toxic herbicide propazine in order to save one of its major crops: genetically modified cotton, from the emerging growth of the farm chemical-resistant weeds, making life difficult for the state’s many farmers.
The request, which was filed on June 18, is now open for public comments until July 3, which the EPA says it will consider before making the decision of whether to grant the request.
According to the Center for Food Safety, Texas’ GMO cotton is under attack by a familiar foe that has been ravaging genetically modified crops in various spots across the country: a glyphosate-resistant type of Palmer amaranth, aka the pigweed, which is popping up across GMO fields en masse and forcing many to hire workers to chop them down by hand.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s ubiquitous Roundup herbicide; thus far, 14 different glyphosate resistant “superweeds” have been documented in GMO fields.
Ironically, the hearty, persistent “weed” is actually more nutritious than the GMO crops it has been infesting, including in the Midwest where a potentially “devastating” infestation is threatening genetically modified corn and soy.
Three Million Acres of Poison” in Texas?
The Texas Department of Agriculture is requesting what would amount to a 10-fold increase in the use of the banned chemical (since 2010) according to the Center for Food Safety, “from just 20,000 to 50,000 lbs. in 2010 and 2011  to 280,000 pounds per year.”
“Herbicide-resistant crops lead to increased herbicide use and this is just the beginning,” said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety.
“Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and the other pesticide-seed giants have developed a host of genetically engineered crops that will trigger a huge spike in the use of toxic weed-killers. This is hazardous to farmers, to consumers and to the environment.”
Texas hopes to use the toxic chemical on up to three million acres of cotton, the vast majority of which is GMO, which amounts to “hundreds of thousands of pounds of the pesticide, a chemical solution that has been banned due to its toxicity by the European Union.
In the U.S., propazine is considered a “possible human carcinogen,” a category the EPA uses for particularly hazardous farming chemicals. It’s considered an endocrine disruptor that disrupts the hormonal system, much like the infamous chemical atrazine, and one that causes birth defects when fed to pregnant rats according to the Center for Food Safety.
Propazine also takes years to break down, and has been found in both ground and surface water samples.
The proposed amount of three million acres to be sprayed with the banned chemical represents about ¼ of the U.S.’ annual production of cotton, and about 90 percent of all U.S. cotton is GMO, although the number has been dropping.
Freese continued, calling on major governmental organizations to curb the use of agricultural poisons.
“USDA and EPA need to do their job of protecting American citizens and agriculture by rejecting this request. They should also stop these companies’ from introducing more pesticide-promoting, genetically engineered crops,” he said.
“This request clearly demonstrates that herbicide-resistant crops – by generating an epidemic of resistant weeds – lead directly to increased use of hazardous chemicals,” “EPA should reject this request.” ?

Roundup in Texas: Spray Drift Showdown in the GM Cotton Fields

Eric Herm and his father farm over 6000 organic acres in Texas. He is the fourth generation of his family to run his farm. And now he is conflict with the neighbours he has known all his life because they are all GM farmers and their spraying is killing his crops. This is his story:

"I can't tackle Monsanto in court. But I will not hesitate to sue my neighbours if roundup spraying continues to damage our farming."
As an organic and non-GMO cotton farmer, I wake up each and every morning to an uneasy notion: We are surrounded and heavily outnumbered.
 Over 100,000 acres of cotton is planted in my home county (Howard) here in West Texas. More than 90 percent of that is genetically modified cotton these days.
 Every field on our farm either borders or is within one mile of fields where Roundup Ready cotton is planted year after year. On a 20-mile stretch of road between my house and our farthest field, we're the only family farm remaining that is not planting GMO crops.
 Still, it's not about the odds. It's about what is right. It's about creating more life, not vanquishing it.
 Poisoned and invaded
 Each spring, neighbours begin firing up their 100-foot, $200,000 spray rigs, pumping out gallon after gallon of Roundup, filling our environment with hundreds of millions of gallons of the nation's highest-selling herbicide.
 Some spray in 20 mph+ winds, which happen almost daily here from February to July. It's as if climbing on board one of these menacing spray rigs convinces some people the laws of physics do not apply. Not only can technology make us apathetic and arrogant, it can also make us ignorant.
 Some neighbours assure me, "I'd never intentionally drift on you." Or my personal favourite, "I'm only putting out ten pounds of pressure. It won't drift."  Really? Ever heard of parts per million?
 One neighbour sprayed in 30mph winds blowing straight toward my 250 acres of organic cotton. My plants had just reached the surface, knowing sunlight for almost 48 hours before he blasted away like a machine-gun sniper, picking off millions of baby plants in a matter of minutes. The front 50 acres looks like a bomb went off on the surface.
 Often, Roundup will not kill the plants. They merely suffocate, struggling to survive until they process the poison out of their system. This often takes up to three weeks, stunting the crops. They're unable to grow or mature during this time-frame. All of their energy goes into surviving. This impacts the yield and overall vitality of the crop.
 The real "tattle-tales" in nature are the Roundup Ready cotton plants I find sporadically in my field. They represent one to two percent of the total population, but when a completely healthy plant stands six inches taller than the rest, you know what it is and how real the seed contamination risks are in our business.
 To date this season, we've had more than 300 acres damaged by Roundup drift. I've turned in four cases to the TDA (Texas Department of Agriculture). The crops won't recover this season. Neither will my blood pressure.
 Taking a stand and fighting back
 We're not the only farmers experiencing this. Every organic cotton farmer I know goes through this every spring. And it's getting worse. Each season, some GMO farmers get more and more careless in the conditions in which they spray, affecting all those around them.
 Some non-GMO farmers are giving up and planting GM seeds rather than cause problems with neighbours or standing up in this fight. This worries me. Why are not more farmers willing to make a stand? What are we afraid of? If we don't make the stand, who will?
 Of the 12 million plus acres of cotton planted each year in the U.S., more than 90 percent are GMOs. Less than 14,000 acres are organic. Farmers as a whole are an endangered species since we represent about one percent of the U.S. population, but organic and non-GMO farmers are becoming as scarce as a Mexican spotted owl in the wild.
 If we stay silent in these times; then shame on us. If we continue to take the beatings of chemical drift, and GMO contamination from cross-pollination, without fighting back, then how do expect to ever survive this invasion of our rights to farm in a healthier manner?
 How do we expect organic and non-GMO agriculture to survive for future generations?  We need more education and awareness spread in our farming communities on herbicide drift problems, but that won't happen if we remain silent. It won't happen unless we are willing to stand up and fight.
 Neighbours becoming enemies
 Out of 25 potential neighbours, we only have one who calls us to let us know he is spraying. Just one. Being a "neighbourly" farmer has taken on a new look in the 21st century for most.
Speaking with one neighbour (who farms close to 10,000 acres of GM cotton) I've known my entire life on the phone, he stated, "I just hate to see you make enemies." My response was, "Making enemies is not my intention. Getting their attention is."
 And with Monsanto's future line of 2-4,D resistant GM seeds. I've made a decision. No more neighbourly discounts. I don't care if it is my cousin, best friend, or anyone else, but any and every time I suspect Roundup drift, I'm dealing with the TDA.
 At least they provide free testing on tissue analysis for glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup.) Plus, my neighbours have to provide spraying data sheet information, as well as uncomfortable interviews and investigations from the TDA. Fines and fees may be assessed. This summer alone, more than a dozen different neighbours have had to submit spray logs and conduct interviews with a TDA agent. They can count on more of the same in the future.
 Fighting for our future and for agriculture and healthy food
 I stay vigilant, monitoring every section of our fields. I'm constantly reminding our neighbors to please not spray in high winds. There is very little education and awareness when it comes to herbicide drift. Most farmers don't believe these chemicals will drift more than 100 yards. I've seen them drift up to one mile. Most farmers think simply because winds are below 10mph, these chemicals won't drift. Many biological factors come into play such as humidity, inversion, soil and moisture conditions.
 Most likely, I can't tackle Monsanto in the court of law. But I will not hesitate to sue my own neighbours if this recklessness continues to damage our farming operation and abilities to grow non-GMO plants each and every season. That's a fair fight. It is an unfortunate one. But at least it is fair. I don't know any billionaire farmers.
 Am I popular right now in my farming community? Not at all. But at least my neighbours now know what I'm willing to do to protect our crops. Is this the end-all of my predicament? Hardly. But I am able and willing to fire back.
 As organic and non-GMO farmers, we're expected to always be defensive because we're in the minority these days. Playing offense is the only way we can expect to protect the health of our own crops and land, as well as agriculture's future. We must be determined to stand up against the invasion of destructive chemicals even if that means standing up against our own neighbours.
 Visit Eric Herm’s website at for more information.