Tag Archives: gardening

Community Agriculture Done Well

This is a great post to show how quickly individuals can produce quality food for many people.




I created a new brochure while in school and transitioned it for this site.  I hope that you enjoy it.  It is monochrome so that it is inexpensive to reproduce and it is paired down as much as possible.  Lets all print a bunch of these out and distribute them all over.  It could be an easy way to spread the message.

New version

Brochure technical writing.pdf

Old version

Natural Advantage Brochure version 3 pdf.pdf

The Dangers of Conventional Seeds

This is the seed that I was recently given by a friend to plant.  This is the seed that was suggested to him to plant in central Texas.  Glad I saw this warning.  Isn’t modern agriculture fantastic.  I’ll definitely be sticking with organic and heirloom seeds.  I suggest you do as well.  Nothing like a warning label on a seed package.

If you reap what you sow, why would we sow these seeds?

IMG 6547

Highlighted warning states:

DANGER:  Treated with Apron XL, Dividend Extreme, Polymer, Cruiser 5FS, Vitavax 34, Thiram 42-S, and Captan 4F at mtgs’ rec. rate.  DO NOT USE SEED FOR FOOD, FEED OR OIL.

Sounds tempting doesn’t it.

Lets briefly break each of these items down.

Apron XL

According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that can be found here, the following are concerns with this product.

– Harmful is swallowed or inhaled.  May be harmful in contact with skin. Causes eye and skin irritation.

Dividend Extreme

MSDS concerns:

– Harmful if inhaled. Causes mild eye irritation.


MSDS sheet:

– Not hazardous according to Directive 67/548EEC

Cruiser 5FS

MSDS sheet:

– Presents a low hazard during normal handling.

Vitavax 34

MSDS sheet:

– Harmful by inhalation.

Thiram 42-S

MSDS sheet:

– Immediate effects –

Causes eye irritation. Do not get in eyes .Causes skin irritation. Prolonged or frequently repeated skin contact may cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Harmful if absorbed through skin. Do not get in eyes, on skin, or on clothing. Use of alcoholic beverages may enhance toxic effects. Harmful if swallowed. Do not take internally.May cause irritation of the mucous membranes. May cause respiratory tract irritation. Avoid breathing spray mist.

Chronic or Delayed Long-term effects –

This product or its components may have target organ effects. This product or its components may have long term (chronic) health effects. 

Captan 4F

MSDS sheet:

Causes irritation of skin, diarrhea, and difficulty in breathing. Avoid ingestion.

The best part of all of this is the statement: DO NOT USE SEED FOR FOOD, FEED AND OIL.

Nothing like a seed that you can’t use for food and feed.  Much less for oil.



1 French food: nourishment, sustenance, nutriment, fare; bread, daily bread; cooking, cuisine; foodstuffs, edibles, provender, refreshments, meals, provisions, rations; solids; informal eats, eatables, nosh, grub, chow, nom noms; formal comestibles; literary viands; dated victuals; archaic commons, meat, aliment.

2 food for the cattle: fodder, feed, provender, forage.



1 I’ve got three kids to feed: give food to, provide (food) for, cater for, cook for.

2 the baby will feed according to her needs: nurse, breastfeed, suckle; bottle-feed.

3 too many cows feeding in a small area: graze, browse, crop, pasture; eat, consume food, chow down.

4 the birds feed on a varied diet: live on/off, exist on, subsist on, eat, consume.

5 this series of victories fed his growing sense of invincibility: strengthen, fortify, support, bolster, reinforce, boost, fuel, encourage.

6 he regularly fed information to the police: supply, provide, give, deliver, furnish, issue, pass on.


Feed for goats and sheep: fodder, food, forage, pasturage, herbage, provender; formal comestibles.



1 make sure the car has enough oil | we heat our house with oil: lubricant, lubrication, grease; crude, crude oil, fuel oil, petroleum; informal black gold; humorous Texas tea.

2 brown the beef in hot oil: cooking oil, vegetable oil; corn oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, peanut oil.

3 add some oil to the bath water: bath oil, essential oil, baby oil, scented oil, suntan oil.


I’ll oil that gate for you: lubricate, grease, smear/cover/rub with oil; informal lube.


Food, feed and oil as defined by the stock dictionary on my Macbook.

Genetically Modified Organisms: An Agricultural Students Perspective (part 4 of 4)

Two major alternatives to GMO’s are conventional agriculture and organic agriculture.  Many of the dangers associated with GMO’s are associated with conventional agriculture, such as: pesticide runoff, potential monoculture failure, and topsoil erosion.  These concerns are unacceptable as well.  The successes of organic agriculture in terms of yield and soil are clear. (Kremer, 2012)  The current successes of bio intensive agricultural techniques are intriguing as well.  I suggest the reemphasis of local agricultural communities reminiscent to the victory gardens of World War II.  I insist that individuals grow gardens for themselves and their community.  A shift toward the localization of agriculture would be beneficial on many levels. 

These levels include:

1.Healthier food choices through the decrease of mass-produced empty calories.

2.Increases in topsoil quality and decreases in erosion.

3.Increased food security through greater biodiversity of fruit and vegetable crops in the United States.

4.Greater national security through decreased dependence on petroleum products.  Agriculturalists can achieve this through decreased shipping distances of food as well as decreased pesticide use through organic pest management practices.

5.A general decline of chronic disease in the individual and a healthier medical system due to a healthier environment.

6.Localization would encourage decreases in farm size, which would lead to an opportunity for greater agricultural entrepreneurship.

The debate over the benefits of GMO’s will continue for some time.  The mainstream peer reviewed evidence itself has difficulty demonstrating the safety of GMO’s. Government economists refuse to state health benefits of GMO’s.  In contrast, there is evidence of side effects and harm to the environment.  The lax regulation of GMO’s in concert with the collusion of the leaders of industry and members of government allow speculation of the motives of those individuals involved.  Furthermore, there is strong evidence against any benefit of GMO’s in terms of crop yields. It is clear that GMO’s have yet to be studied thoroughly enough to quiet the concerns of the public. Therefore, for the health of this world, I believe in the removal of transgenic GMO’s from production pending further investigation. 

End of 4 of 4: References posted at end of 1 of 4

UPDATE: Since the writing of this paper I have discovered that Pamela Ronald (cited in the above paper) retracted two of her pro-GMO studies that have been cited by more than 120 other paper.  The article where I discovered this is here.

Genetically Modified Organisms: An Agricultural Students Perspective (part 3 or 4)

It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not and does not require safety testing of transgenic GMO crops.  The government simply requires a voluntary consultation process.  The FDA never required safety tests of GMO’s prior to the use of GMO’s.  The FDA’s view of transgenic GMO crops is that the crops are safe unless evidence to the contrary exists.  Without prior safety tests there never was any evidence to the contrary.  Mike Livingston, a government economist, recently stated in a Reuter’s article “We are not characterizing them (GMO crops) as bad or good.  We are just providing information” when discussing a recent report that he coauthored. (Gillam, 2014)  The inability to confidently state the safety of GMO’s is particularly worrisome due to the wide spread use of GMO’s and the collusion that exists between major seed companies, such as Monsanto and the regulatory committees that oversee them.  (Refer to image 2)

A lack of long-term safety testing of these crops prior to release is a major concern for consumers.  The public is essentially the testing ground for these crops.  The Institute for Responsible Technology lists ten reasons to avoid GMO’s.  These reasons are as follows:

1.GMO’s are unhealthy.  

2.GMO’s contaminate – forever.  

3.GMO’s increase herbicide use.  

4.Genetic engineering creates dangerous side effects.  

5.Government oversight is dangerously lax.  

6.The biotech industry uses “tobacco science” to claim product safety.

7.Independent research and reporting is attacked and suppressed.  

8.GMO’s harm the environment.  

9.GMO’s do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. 

10.By avoiding GMO’s you can contribute to the coming tipping point of consumer rejection, forcing them out of our food supply. (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO; 10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)

There are concerns for human health and the environment.  The Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) cites animal studies showing damage to the multiple organ systems, fertility and aging.  The DNA of GMO’s may cross-pollinate indefinitely through natural processes of plant propagation.  The natural selection of weeds requires the agricultural industry to use increased amounts of herbicide in order to achieve the same amount of weed suppression.  Furthermore, GMO’s potentially have many unknown side effects.  So far, researchers know that transgenic GMO crops have harmed the animal kingdom and soil organisms.  Monarch butterflies populations have decreased 50%.  (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)  Honeybee populations have suffered colony collapses in recent years as well. 

In addition, “The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report…stated that GM crop yields were “highly variable” and in some cases, “yields declined”… “Assessment of the technology lags behind its development, information is anecdotal and contradictory, and uncertainty about possible benefits and damage is unavoidable.” They determined that the current GMOs have nothing to offer the goals of reducing hunger and poverty, improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods, and facilitating social and environmental sustainability.”  (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)

The close ties of the US government regulatory organizations and Monsanto call into question the ability of the regulatory organizations to faithfully monitor certain corporate food companies.  Additionally, industry purposefully funds research to avoid demonstrating the dangers of GMO’s.  In addition, because of independent research, independent researchers receive threats of gag orders, having funding pulled, and attacks of character and ability.  After several years of widespread use, the discovery of once unknown dangers of GMO’s may now be upon us. (10 Reasons to Avoid GMO)

In 2012, a French study concluded that transgenic GMO’s caused cancer.  The retraction of this study validates the safety of transgenic GMO’s to many.  The study is similar to a previous study, in number of and type of rats, published year’s prior.  (Times, 2013)  The same journal published both studies.  However, the previous study, performed by Monsanto lasted 90 days.  The Monsanto study did not reveal any problems with transgenic GMO’s.  In contrast, the retracted study was for two years.  Therefore, the only difference between the studies was the length of the study.  It is curious that the only study retracted by the journal was the study that portrayed GMO’s as negative. (Hansen, 2013)

End of 3 of 4: References posted at end of 1 of 4

UPDATE: Since the writing of this paper I have discovered that Pamela Ronald (cited in the above paper) retracted two of her pro-GMO studies that have been cited by more than 120 other paper.  The article where I discovered this is here.



Genetically Modified Organisms: An Agricultural Students Perspective (part 2 of 4)

The use of genetically modified crops has increased dramatically since the adoption of the genetically modified seed.  The reasons for this seem clear to Pamela Ronald.  In a paper titled “The Truth about GMO’s” Ronald states, “Yet one need only observe the overwhelming farmer adoption of GE crops in the United States and elsewhere to conclude that the GE crop varieties on the market are useful to farmers.  It is unlikely that experienced and skilled farmers would buy GE seeds if their farm operations did not benefit economically.”  (refer to image 1)  Three major genetically modified crops in the United States are soybeans, cotton and corn.  Specifically they are herbicide tolerant (Ht) Soybeans, (Ht) Cotton, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Cotton, Bt Corn and Ht Corn. (Rezbova, 2012)  From a large farm perspective, the benefits of GMO crops, appears to be clear. (Ronald, 2013) 

Agriculturalists have made it their goal to feed the world.  Transgenic GMO’s are in demand because the world is unable to increase the amount of acreage under cultivation.  Environmental concerns, energy concerns, and population growth are the cause of this.  Due to this goal, humans must increase the yield of crops in order to meet the nutritional demands of the species worldwide.  Genetically modified crops supply feed for animals (typically in feed yards) as well as fiber and alternative fuels. (Rezbova, 2012)  Additionally, nearly every processed food in the United States contains transgenic GMO’s.

Misconceptions among non-agriculturalists concerning arable land and pastureland lead to differences of opinion on the ability to increase crop yields.  Some individuals believe that agriculturalists should decrease animal production in favor of fruit and vegetable crop production.  Fruits and vegetables are only capable of growing in certain environments.  Pastureland will not support typical fruit and vegetable crop production.  The grasses of pastureland are inedible to humans.  Therefore, agriculturalists produce livestock on pasture.  Agriculturalists use the pastureland to start livestock and then agriculturalists typically finish the livestock in feed yards.  This allows the agriculturalist to convert the inedible pasture crops into high quality meat and milk for human consumption.  Changing cropping systems would endanger the soil.  In addition, maintaining the pasture decreases erosion that would exist in the event of a change in cropping practices. (Technolgy)  The remnants of the food produced for human consumption are recycled as a part of the feed for the livestock.  The deployment of transgenic GMO’s as food, fiber, and fuel have increased with little mainstream scientific dispute to individual health or damage to the environment. (Technolgy)

The intention of Bt enhanced crops that produce their own pesticide is to allow the farmer to decrease pesticide use.  The farmer must however plant a second field as a “refuge strategy” in order to decrease the incidence of insect resistance to the crop. (Ronald, 2013)  Traditional research shows the use of Ht crops allows the farmer to treat for weeds with greater success and less harm to the farmer’s crop.  Both of these are great benefits in terms of time-spent.  The saved time allows the farmer to focus on other aspects of the business.  This allows the farmer to increase the yield and decrease the cost of the product.

However, controversy about transgenic GMO’s is abundant in spite of mainstream successes.  There are strong reservations about the ethics of patenting seed, developing terminator technology, and the interrelationship of governmental agencies and agricultural companies.  In addition, some believe the safety of transgenic GMO’s is unproven.  Fears persist that transgenic GMO’s are the cause of harm to unwitting consumers.  It is difficult to determine the presence of transgenic GMO’s in the food supply because there is no legal requirement to label them in the United States.

End of 2 of 4: References posted at end of 1 of 4

UPDATE: Since the writing of this paper I have discovered that Pamela Ronald (cited in the above paper) retracted two of her pro-GMO studies that have been cited by more than 120 other paper.  The article where I discovered this is here.  


Genetically Modified Organisms: An Agricultural Students Perspective (part 1 of 4)

The use of genetically engineered crops, often called transgenic genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), in the United States has been prevalent since the introduction of the FlavrSavr transgenic tomato in 1994. (A Brief History of Genetic Modification, unknown)  Since the introduction of this crop, there has been widespread disagreement about the efficacy and ethics of using genetically engineered foods in agricultural cropping systems.  The producers of these crops hold them in high regard.  Many environmentalists and health advocates fear these crops as potentially dangerous to the human body as well as the environment. 

The history of genetically modified crops is as long as the history of agricultural systems.  Cultivating crops has always been a sort of genetic engineering.  The process of taking two crops to produce an improved seed from those crops is a form of genetic engineering.  Organic seed saving alters the species.  The organic seed in use today is significantly different from those of prior generations.  Seed saving has allowed the farmer to develop crops with higher yields and greater resistance to climate, disease, and insects.  Seed saving allows the farmer, without the use of genetic engineering, the ability to select the genetically superior seeds through the natural reproductive cycle of crops.  The current technology of transgenic crops is one of artificially taking DNA from one species and adding it to the DNA of another species.  

The current definition of a transgenic genetically modified crop is a crop that has had the genetic material (DNA) artificially modified through genetic engineering.  This process introduces a trait into a species through genetic manipulation.  The scientist selects for, and then changes, the function and growing ability of the crop.  Genetically engineering crops allows the scientist to produce a crop that is resistant to certain environmental factors such as climate, pests, and/or herbicides.  By genetically modifying a crops DNA the seed developer is able to express a trait of his/her choosing.  The seed developer’s process is swifter than otherwise possible.  The intent of the crop developer is to produce a higher yield, allowing the farmer to increase crop density with less pesticide use. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations describes the process of genetically engineering a crop as follows.

1. Identification of the gene interest;

2. Isolation of the gene of interest;

3. Amplifying the gene to produce many copies;

4. Associating the gene with an appropriate promoter and poly A sequence and insertion into plasmids;

5. Multiplying the plasmid in bacteria and recovering the cloned construct for injection;

6. Transference of the construct into the recipient tissue, usually fertilized eggs;

7. Integration of gene into recipient genome;

8. Expression of gene in recipient genome; and

9. Inheritance of gene through further generations. (Beardmore, 2003)

The first transgenic genetically modified crops occurred in 1983.  China was the first nation to sell genetically engineered tobacco and tomatoes.  1988 saw the development of the first genetically engineered plant for pharmaceutical use.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the insertion of Bovine Somatotropin (bST) into cows in the year 1993.  The insertion of bST increased the milk production in cows.  In 1993, scientists used in vitro fertilization successfully for the first time in plants.  1994 began the widespread use of genetically engineered crops in the United States with the above-mentioned FlavrSavr. (A Brief History of Genetic Modification, unknown)

The environmental protection agency (EPA) approved the sale of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) potato making it the first crop that produced pesticides on its own.  Soon thereafter, Roundup ready soybeans were produced which gave the soybeans resistance to the glyphosate herbicide.  Agricultural companies then introduced terminator technology in 1998.  2002 saw the introduction of a patent law allowing seed companies to patent their seeds in order to protect “intellectual property.” (A Brief History of Genetic Modification, unknown)

The above innovations produced seeds with specific traits.  The introduction of Bt corn gave the GMO corn resistance to insects.  Roundup ready soybeans allowed the liberal use of glyphosate herbicide without the failure of the soybean crop.  Terminator technology created a crop that did not produce a viable seed for seed saving or replanting.

End of 1 of 4: References for all 4 parts posted below:

UPDATE: Since the writing of this paper I have discovered that Pamela Ronald (cited in the above paper) retracted two of her pro-GMO studies that have been cited by more than 120 other paper.  The article where I discovered this is here.  


A Brief History of Genetic Modification. (unknown, unknown unknown). Retrieved February27, 201427, 2014, from gmeducation.org: gmeducation.org

Gillam, C. (2014, February 24). Reuters. Retrieved February 27, 2014, fromwww.reuters.com 

Hansen, M. (2013, Dec 6th). GMO Study Retracted Cencorship of Caution? (S. Curwood,Interviewer)

John A Beardmore, J. S. (2003). Genetically Modified Organisms and Aquaculture. Rome,Italy.

Rezbova, H. S. (2012, June). The Role of Trangenic Crops. 4(2). Czech Republic.

Robert J Kremer, L. F. (2012, May 16). Soil Quality Improvement Under an EcologicallyBased Farming System in Northwest Missouri. Columbia, Missouri, USA.

Ronald, P. (2013, Oct). The Truth About GMO’s. 38 . Boston Review.Technolgy, C. f. (n.d.). Animal Feed Vs Human Food. 

10 Reasons to Avoid GMO. (n.d.). Retrieved February 27, 2014, from Institute for Responsible Technology: http://www.responsibletechnology.org

Times, L. A. (2013, November 30). Controversial GMO Study is Retracted. The WashingtonPost .