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Aug 08, 2014 - 0 comments

Despite its own admission that it will cause an up to 7-fold increase in chemical pesticide use, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is poised to approve a new type of genetically engineered seed built to resist one of the most toxic weedkillers on the market.

Now, total approval hinges on the Environmental Protection Agency. If that federal body approves the new GMO, farmers will be free to plant corn and soy seeds genetically manipulated to live through sprayings of Dow's Enlist Duo, a chemical cocktail containing both glyphosate and the antiquated, toxic chemical 2,4-D. Ironically, chemical companies said the development of GMOs in the 90s would eliminate to need to use older, more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. But as GMO use ramped up over the last few decades, chemical use increased, and many weeds are no longer responding to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, and the current chemical of choice for GMO farmer. This has created a "superweed" crisis, creating millions of acres of U.S. fields infested with hard-to-kill weeds.

With this week's USDA final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) suggesting approval of the new GMO, many public food and safety experts say the American public faces unprecedented risks. After all, current chemical use is so high that foods now actually contain concerning levels of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. Because it's systemic, it actually winds up inside of food. Adding 2,4-D to the mix is even more concerning, given it's ties to cancer.

"USDA's announcement is an outrageous abdication of USDA’s responsibility to protect our health and our food supply. The Obama Administration has ignored the interests and demands of millions of Americans, Members of Congress, and scientists, farmers and health professionals,” says Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety.

The approval comes despite USDA’s acknowledgment that Dow's crops will trigger a three- to seven-fold increase in agricultural use of 2,4-D, foster 2,4-D resistance in weeds, and inhibit farmers' use of non-chemical weed control methods. "USDA's decision represents a huge setback for farmers and sustainable agriculture. Independent scientists have linked 2,4-D to cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other maladies. Introduction of 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans will dramatically increase use of this toxic herbicide, leading to more disease, environmental harm, and increasingly intractable weeds for farmers," says Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety.

The adoption of this new generation of GMOs also threatens farmer's market favorites like tomatoes, peppers, grapes (and wine!), and potaotes. Any 2,4-D drift could cause these crops to become mangled and deformed, or even outright kill them.

Homemade energy bars

Aug 05, 2014 - 0 comments

  Homemade energy bars

Raw Lemon-Coconut Bars
These tasty bars are similar to Lärabars, but contain no added sweetener and are
12 bars
¾ cup plus 1 Tablespoon almond meal OR 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1½ cups pitted dates or 1¼ cups chopped dates or raisins
1 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
Zest of 1 organic lemon
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
If using chopped dates, cover them with warm water, let them soak for about 5 minutes, and drain. If using sliced or slivered almonds, put them in your food processor and whir them into meal.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of almond meal evenly over the bottom of an 8-inch-square baking pan. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and whir until well mixed. Press into prepared pan. Chill for a couple of hours until firm, then cut into 12 squares, and wrap each in wax paper or store in an airtight container. These will keep at room temperature for a month…if you can resist them for that long.
Variations: Don't like lemon? You can substitute any nut, seed, or dried fruit in this recipe and change the seasonings to reproduce just about any bar out there. Here are a few tasty alternatives.
Cherry Pie Bars: Substitute 1 cup of dried cherries or cranberries for the coconut.
Apple Pie Bars: Substitute 1 cup of diced, dried apples for the coconut, omit the lemon zest and juice, and add 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon.
Chocolate-Cashew Cookie Bars: Use 2 cups of cashews instead of the almonds and coconut, omit the lemon zest and juice, and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add ¼ cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips once everything else is well blended.
PB & J Bars: Use peanuts (or shelled sunflower seeds) instead of almonds, substitute 1 cup of dried cherries or cranberries for the coconut, and omit the lemon zest and juice.
Mostly Raw Oatmeal Energy Bars
The only cooking involved is heating the wet ingredients to make them smoother and easier to blend with the dry ingredients. The end result is similar to Clif Bars.
12 bars
2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
¼ cup flaxseed meal
1 cup total dried fruit (coarsely chopped), chopped nuts, and/or semisweet chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup natural nut or seed butter (peanut, sunflower, cashew, almond, tahini)
½ cup brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put the nut or seed butter and the syrup in a saucepan and heat slowly, stirring until the mixture is hot and well blended; then add the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir until well mixed (you may need to use your hand). Pack firmly into a greased 9-x-9-inch baking pan. Chill for a couple of hours until firm, then cut into 12 squares, and wrap each bar in wax paper. Stored in an airtight container, these will keep at room temperature for a month.
ChocoBean Power Bars
The cooked beans in this recipe add lots of protein and fiber without overpowering the banana and chocolate flavors. If you buy canned beans, there is no cooking involved. Just buy Eden Organic brand, which uses cans that aren't lined with the toxic chemical bisphenol A.
Makes 12 bars
1½ cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (one 15-ounce can)
¾ cup dried banana slices
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup (packed) raisins or dried cranberries
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup oatmeal, whirred in the blender until very fine
¼ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips (optional)
2 Tablespoons almond meal
Whir the beans, banana, cocoa powder, raisins, vanilla, and syrup in a food processor until very smooth. Add the oatmeal and flaxseed (and chocolate chips if using). Pulse until mixture is well blended and forms a dough. Sprinkle almond meal over the bottom of a 9-x-9-inch cake pan. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Chill for a couple hours until firm then cut into 12 squares. Wrap each in wax paper and refrigerate in a closed container for up to four days, or freeze for up to a month.
Variations: Add 2 tablespoons of dry instant coffee for chocolate-mocha bars, or add ½ teaspoon ground hot pepper to give bars a Mexican kick. These are also tasty with pureed overripe banana (or pumpkin puree, prune puree, or even apple butter) instead of the dry bananas; you just need to replace the brown rice syrup with a dry sweetener, such as raw sugar or powdered stevia, to add sweetness while keeping the dough dry enough to form into bars.
Think Outside the Bar
While bars suit the packaging needs of commercial manufacturers, there's no reason you have to get your energy boosts in slabs. Make "energy balls" from any of these recipes by sprinkling almond or other nut meal (or even shredded coconut or unsweetened cocoa powder) on a plate, dropping spoonfuls of dough onto it, and rolling them around with your fingers to shape and coat them. Balls one-inch or smaller are perfect for popping into your mouth whole and make a great substitute for candy if the kids clamor for it.

Ebola Crisis Grows: What You Need to Know

Aug 03, 2014 - 0 comments

Schools have closed, there are house-to-house searches for the sick, and the death toll continues to rise from the Ebola epidemic sweeping West Africa. In Sierra Leone, the president has declared a state of emergency over the disease, which is up to 90 percent fatal.

Here in the U.S. there is growing concern about the threat in the wake of reports that a man with the virus nearly boarded a plane bound for Minneapolis, potentially carrying the disease to America.

The U.S. Peace Corps has evacuated hundreds of its volunteers from affected countries after two of its workers had contact with an Ebola victim who died. The workers are now under isolation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a travel advisory Thursday warning Americans not to travel to the three countries stricken with Ebola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.

Newsmax Health asked Michael Zimring, M.D., director of the Center for Wilderness and Travel Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, to answer common questions about deepening crisis, which has so far claimed more than 700 lives.

Q: Describe the course of Ebola. What are the early symptoms and how does it kill?

A: The early symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue. and low blood pressure. The virus destroys the immune system. It also makes capillaries (the smallest of the body’s blood vessels) permeable, allowing fluid in. As a result, blood pressure drops and the body begins leaking fluid. The person goes into shock, their organs fail, and they die.

Q: What can doctors do for someone with Ebola?
A: There is no cure and therefore only supportive care can be offered. In other words, doctors try to keep the blood pressure up, give the person fluids, and do all they can to make sure the organs don’t fail.

Q: How contagious is Ebola?
A: It is contagious by transmission of body fluid. If someone eats a monkey that was infected, and they share it with others, everyone gets sick and dies. This disease is very dangerous to doctors because they can get it if they are in contact with a sick person and the virus gets in through broken skin, for instance. But you can’t get it from air contact. If you’re caring for someone who has the disease, or taking care of the body of someone who has died from it, you can contract it. It is so dangerous because there’s no cure for it. The virus works very fast.

Q: If you sat next to someone on a plane with Ebola, could you catch it?
A: You cannot really catch it by sitting next to someone. But if you make contact with them at all, and bodily fluids are exchanged, then you can contract it. For example, if they spit and you come into contact with it, you can get it.

Q: Can you catch it from a mosquito bite?
A: Not so far as we know.

Q: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have downplayed the threat of Ebola spreading inside the U.S. Why can’t the illness spread in the U.S. the same way it has in West Africa?

A: I agree with the CDC that the chances are very slim because by the time the person gets on the plane, they might be dead before they reach the U.S.

Q: What’s your view of the latest government travel advisory, which warns people not to go to these affected countries unless it is absolutely essential?

A: I think the government is absolutely right. This is a dangerous disease which is 80 to 90 percent fatal.

Q: If someone were planning a trip to an area in Africa where there is no Ebola, would you advise that they go ahead with it?

A: I would say they should wait. This outbreak is the largest in Africa ever, so I would not travel anywhere there at this point.

Q: What’s the most important thing Americans need to know about the Ebola epidemic?

A: I think people should be aware of the disease, but there is no reason to panic. I also think that people shouldn’t volunteer to go to West Africa to try to help. If you do go, you need to have the right isolation suits, isolation facilities, and protocol. It’s not worth the danger right now.

Source: Charlotte Libov

Targeting Depression Deep Inside the Brain

Aug 02, 2014 - 0 comments

Helen Mayberg, MD, a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, takes the patients no one else can help. The severely depressed people who enroll in her trials have not responded to medication, to talk therapy, or even to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), in which voltage is applied to the temples of a sedated patient to induce a seizure.

She is achieving astonishing results: 75% of her patients get better and stay better.