Earth Shift Conference 2017! are back at the Miracle Hot Springs in Desert Hot Springs, California to anchor in the light and frequency of an ascended Earth.
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EARTH SHIFT PRESENTERS
MICHAEL TELLINGER ~ NEIL GAUR ~ JULIAN FOREST
DR. DREAM ~ JOAN OF ANGELS ~ CELESTE YARNALL
JONAH BOLT ~ ELIZABETH ENGLAND ~ KEN SHEETZ
MICHELLE GARCIA ~ ANARA WHITEBEAR ~ CHRIS KATSAROPOULOS
MARK AMARA PINKHAM ~ KATHY DAVIDSON ~ ERIC DADMEHR
PETER STERLING ~ ATHENA STARSEED ~ DR. KATHLEEN ROSENBLATT
GENTLE THUNDER ~ MIKE SCHULTZ ~ TYLER HESS
MEAD ROSE ~ CRYSTAL STARRWEAVER ~ DORON KUTASH
JAKE HAKOB TOROSSIAN ~ LARISA STOW/SHAKTI TRIBE ~ DAVID KOBZA
DR. STEPHEN EZRA WEST ~ MARY ELECTRA ~ AUDREY ADDISON WILLIAMS
SILVI LIGHTFEATHER ~ ALORAH INANNA
How Facebook’s tentacles reach further than you think
Facebook’s collection of data makes it one of the most influential organisations in the world. Share Lab wanted to look “under the bonnet” at the tech giant’s algorithms and connections to better understand the social structure and power relations within the company.
A couple of years ago, Vladan Joler and his brainy friends in Belgrade began investigating the inner workings of one of the world’s most powerful corporations.
The team, which includes experts in cyber-forensic analysis and data visualisation, had already looked into what he calls “different forms of invisible infrastructures” behind Serbia’s internet service providers.
But Mr Joler and his friends, now working under a project called Share Lab, had their sights set on a bigger target.
“If Facebook were a country, it would be bigger than China,” says Mr Joler, whose day job is as a professor at Serbia’s Novi Sad University.
He reels off the familiar, but still staggering, numbers: the barely teenage Silicon Valley firm stores some 300 petabytes of data, boasts almost two billion users, and raked in almost $28bn (£22bn) in revenues in 2016 alone.
And yet, Mr Joler argues, we know next to nothing about what goes on under the bonnet – despite the fact that we, as users, are providing most of the fuel – for free.
“All of us, when we are uploading something, when we are tagging people, when we are commenting, we are basically working for Facebook,” he says.
Part of a huge flow chart mapping the influence and connections of Mark Zuckerberg
The data our interactions provide feeds the complex algorithms that power the social media site, where, as Mr Joler puts it, our behaviour is transformed into a product.
Trying to untangle that largely hidden process proved to be a mammoth task.
“We tried to map all the inputs, the fields in which we interact with Facebook, and the outcome,” he says.
“We mapped likes, shares, search, update status, adding photos, friends, names, everything our devices are saying about us, all the permissions we are giving to Facebook via apps, such as phone status, wifi connection and the ability to record audio.”
All of this research provided only a fraction of the full picture. So the team looked into Facebook’s acquisitions, and scoured its myriad patent filings.
The results were astonishing.
Visually arresting flow charts that take hours to absorb fully, but which show how the data we give Facebook is used to calculate our ethnic affinity (Facebook’s term), sexual orientation, political affiliation, social class, travel schedule and much more.
Share Lab presents its information in minutely detailed tables and flow charts
One map shows how everything – from the links we post on Facebook, to the pages we like, to our online behaviour in many other corners of cyber-space that are owned or interact with the company (Instagram, WhatsApp or sites that merely use your Facebook log-in) – could all be entering a giant algorithmic process.
And that process allows Facebook to target users with terrifying accuracy, with the ability to determine whether they like Korean food, the length of their commute to work, or their baby’s age.
Another map details the permissions many of us willingly give Facebook via its many smartphone apps, including the ability to read all text messages, download files without permission, and access our precise location.
Individually, these are powerful tools; combined they amount to a data collection engine that, Mr Joler argues, is ripe for exploitation.
“If you think just about cookies, just about mobile phone permissions, or just about the retention of metadata – each of those things, from the perspective of data analysis, are really intrusive.”
Facebook has for years asserted that data privacy and the security of its operations are paramount. Facebook data, for example, cannot be used by developers to create surveillance tools and the firm says it complies with privacy protection laws in all countries. Thousands of new staff have been recruited to police its content.
Mr Joler, though, while admitting that his research made him a little paranoid about the information that was being harvested, is more worried about the longer term.
The data will remain in the hands of one company. Even if its current leaders are responsible and trustworthy, what about those in charge in 20 years?
Analysts say Share Lab’s work is valuable and impressive. “It’s probably the most comprehensive work mapping Facebook that I’ve ever seen,” says Dr Julia Powles, an expert in technology law and policy at Cornell Tech.
“[The research] shows in cold and calculated terms how much we are giving away for the value of being able to communicate with your mates,” she says.
The scale of Facebook’s reach can be stated in raw numbers – but Share Lab’s maps make it visceral, in a way that drawing parallels cannot.
“We haven’t really got appropriate historical analogies for the tech giants,” explains Dr Powles. Their powers, she continues, extend “far beyond” the likes of the East India Company and monopolies of old, such as Standard Oil.
And while many may consider the objectives of Mark Zuckerberg’s empire to be rather benign, its outcomes are not always so.
Facebook, argues Dr Powles, “plays to our base psychological impulses” by valuing popularity above all else.
Experts say there are no historical analogies for the power that today’s tech giants hold
Not that she expects Share Lab’s research to lead to a mass Facebook exodus, or a dramatic increase in the scrutiny of tech titans.
“What is most striking is the sense of resignation, the impotence of regulation, the lack of options, the public apathy,” says Dr Powles. “What an extraordinary situation for an entity that has power over information – there is no greater power really.”
It is this extraordinary dominance that the Share Lab team set out to illustrate. But Mr Joler is quick to point out that even their grand maps cannot provide an accurate picture of the social media giant’s capabilities.
There is no guarantee, for example, that there are not many other algorithms at work that are still heavily guarded trade secrets.
However, Mr Joler argues, “it is still the one and only map that exists” of one of the greatest forces shaping our world today.
Posted on: Sunday, May 14th 2017 at 5:45 am
Written By: Sayer Ji, Founder
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2017
Air Pollution Linked To Measles Incidence, Proving Immune Status Is Vital In Disease Risk
The idea that measles virus is solely responsible for causing measles infection, and that vaccination alone is the way to prevent it, has been undermined by a new study Chinese air pollution study.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Research reveals that exposure to air pollution is significantly associated with measles incidence in China. This is consistent with the view that infection is not solely determined by exposure to a virus particle but also involves the immune status of the subject which depends on various nutritional and environmental factors, including the immunosuppressive function of air pollution. In other words, it’s not just the “germ” alone but the terrain that determines disease.
In the new study titled, “Is short-term exposure to ambient fine particles associated with measles incidence in China? A multi-city study,” Chinese researchers examined the relationship between short-term exposure to ambient particles with a diameter of less than ≤2.5µm (i.e. 2.5 microns thick) and measles incidence in China. They noted that rapid economic development has resulted in “severe particulate matter (PM) air pollution.”
Their method was to collect data on the daily number of new measles cases and concentrations of ambient particles (≤2.5µm) from 21 cities in China between October 2013 and December 2014 and to analyze data to ascertain the effects at the national scale.
The results demonstrated a statistically significant association between increase in the number of ambient particles and measles incidence, leading them to conclude: “We provide new evidence that measles incidence is associated with exposure to ambient PM2.5 in China. Effective policies to reduce air pollution may also reduce measles incidence.”
As you may know from my previous writings, the concept that the transmissability and pathogenicity of enveloped viruses like measles don’t depend on host factors is untenable when you consider that, as was only just discovered for influenza three years ago, these viruses take from host proteins and lipids their viral particle envelopes. In other words, influenza and measles would not exist and be infective if it were not for them hijacking biosynthetic pathways within host cells and then using materials taken from these host cells to form themselves.
Clearly, therefore, it is not appropriate to envision measles as a “deadly virus,” a singular actor in the drama of infectitious disease, for this reason alone.
Why Is This Study Important?
This study is important for a number of reasons. First, it undermines the narrative maintained by the medical orthodoxy that measles virus alone is capable of inducing disease. By attributing this power to an invisible particle barely detectable by an electron microscope, instead of taking into account the multitude of preventable or mitigable factors linked to nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental exposures, the corollary myth that vaccines alone confer bona fide protection against infection, the agenda of universal vaccination and global eradication programs can continue unabated.
Second, by drawing attention to factors beyond the intrinsic pathogenicity of measles virus itself, it helps to explain why the Chinese measles eradication programs are notoriously ineffective at producing the expected outcome. The Chinese have one of the most vaccination compliant populations in the world due to the fact that it is mandatory there, yet they have had over 700 measles outbreaks from 2009 and 2012 alone. We explored this in greater detail in our article: Why Is China Having Measles Outbreaks When 99% Are Vaccinated?
Clearly, then, if toxicant exposure is identified as a key factor in disease causation, the vaccines themselves become highly suspect as a cause of the very disease they are designed to prevent because they often contain inordinately high amounts of immunosuppressive chemicals and metals. Also, given that there is a possibility that chemical exposure to things like DDT were historically misdiagnosed as caused by viruses, this latest study brings back into awareness the reality that viruses alone can not account for explaining the causality of most diseases which are often mislabled as “vaccine preventable.”
One last thing that should be discussed is the importance of acknowledging that the present-day fear surrounding measles infection is highly irrational. Excluding rare exceptions, measles is not only a benign childhood disease, but its health benefits have been extensively documented in the biomedical literature. And this extends to a wide range of viruses, together which comprise the virome, an integral and health-promoting component of the human microbiome. Moreover, when one considers that the measles vaccine is responsible for at least 100 deaths a year versus the less than 10 deaths caused by measles in the U.S. since 2003, the risk/benefit ratio, therefore, is clearly biased towards not vaccinating.
Vaccines get all the glory, but most plumbers will tell you that it was water infrastructure – sewage systems and clean water – that eradicated disease, and they’re right.
Disease Before Plumbing
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europeans despised all things Roman, including bathing. There was a widespread belief that getting wet caused illness. This contempt and fear of bathing persisted through the Dark Ages.
Some Europeans defied local customs by bathing, but this was usually done over great protest. When Queen Elizabeth bathed, her servants panicked, fearing she would become ill and die.
This resistance to bathing was brought across the Atlantic to America, influencing habits all the way into the 1800s. In 1835, Philadelphia almost passed an ordinance forbidding wintertime bathing. Ten years later, Boston did outlaw bathing, except by medical directive. (Though this law was not widely enforced, it does illustrate the American resistance to bathing as late as the mid 1800s.)
How Plumbing Eradicated Disease
Before plumbing was widely used, indoor facilities consisted of a washstand and a washbowl, a pitcher, and a chamber pot or commode. Human waste was thrown into the street or anywhere convenient.
This total lack of sanitation in urban areas filled with rats and other vermin provided the perfect environment to spread disease. The Black Plague alone killed 75 million – 200 million people – including 1/3 of Europe’s population. Though this disease is not entirely eradicated, human infection has become a rare occurrence. The last plague epidemic in America was in the early 1900’s.
Polio and Plumbing
Polio thrives in fecal matter and is easily transmitted through human waste. Plumbing and water sanitation in India is way behind the rest of the industrialized world. In areas where sanitation and hygiene are good, polio is rare. In areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor, the disease can spread rapidly.
Immunization efforts have received a lot of publicity and have garnered most of the credit for India being declared “polio free” by the World Health Organization. As recently as 2009, India reported 762 cases of polio, and at that time, these numbers made India the polio capital of the world. In 2014, there are currently no “official” documented cases of polio, but without proper sanitation there is no way this can last.
A Polio Breeding Ground
India is the second most populous nation in the world, with an estimated population of 1.2 billion. Currently, 780 million Indians do not have a toilet; 96 million Indians do not have access to clean drinking water. In rural areas, open defecation is still more common than attempting to dispose of human waste in a more sanitary fashion, such as burying it.
There have been some efforts to improve sanitation, but they pale in comparison to the extensive efforts to vaccinate Indians. Over 9 billion has been spent in this vaccination public health campaign. In some parts of India, children have received as many as 30 doses of the oral polio vaccine before their fifth birthday. Bill Gates, the World Health Organization, and GAVI have ardently been pushing vaccines on people who still don’t have access to clean drinking water or the sanitary means to dispose of human waste.
They Say Tomato, I say Tomatoe
The current polio vaccine campaign in India is highly controversial due to the high rate of vaccine injury and death. There were 53,000 cases of NPAFP, a non-polio acute flaccid paralysis, among those vaccinated. NPAFP is a disease that is clinically indistinguishable from polio and twice as deadly that is caused by the live, weakened, polio viruses in the vaccine. Incidences of the disease rose and fell with the number of doses of the vaccine administered. To call this disease anything other than polio is semantic subterfuge, a whitewash for Big Pharma’s image.
In the past 13 months, India has reported 53,563 cases of NPAFP at a national rate of 12 per 100,000 children—way above the global benchmark set by WHO of 2 per 100,000.” – Jan, 13 2014 quote from LiveMint Newpaper, the second largest business newspaper in India.
It would be less expensive in human cost and far more effective to improve India’s water infrastructure, improving India’s sanitation and hygiene.
London England and Cholera
In the 1800’s the European infant mortality rate was very high, from 25% to 70%. In the early-to-mid 1800s, London had little in the way of water infrastructure. The majority of people used town pumps and communal wells to get their drinking water. Waste disposal was far from adequate. Most Londoners dumped raw sewage and animal wastes into open pits known as “cesspools” or directly into the Thames River. Unfortunately, the Thames River was also the source of drinking water for many Londoners.
Cholera spreads easily through contaminated water and food and kills very quickly; it often proves fatal within hours of the first symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea.
In 1854, yet another outbreak struck London, claiming the lives of tens of thousands of Europeans. In Soho, a suburb of London, there were more than 500 fatal cases of cholera in ten days.
Dr. John Snow, who lived near Soho, was able to directly investigate what was causing the outbreak. Five years earlier, Dr. Snow had written an article about what he believed caused cholera. It was in the water, he argued. This idea flew in the face of the “wisdom” of his time. In the 1850s, doctors believed that bad vapors, or a “miasma in the atmosphere” caused disease. Dr. Snow dared to believe something different, to try something different, believing he might see different results.
Dr. John Snow Traced Cholera To Its Source
Dr. Snow traced the cholera outbreak to the Broad Street pump. He persuaded the town officials to remove the pump handle, and the cholera outbreak abruptly ended. Some time later, the outbreak was traced back to a woman cleaning a dirty diaper in the well.
According to Wayne W. LaMorte, MD, PhD, MPH of Boston University School of Public Health, the mother had emptied the baby’s diarrhea into the cesspool next to the well, and the cesspool’s wall was decayed, so the sewage was seeping into the well.” – Thanks Heather!
Though it took some time, Dr. Snow convinced the authorities that fecal matter was contaminating the water supply. Today Dr. John Snow is widely regarded as the father of epidemiology.
Refugee Camps, Dysentery Epidemic, and Poor Sanitation
The Rwandan refugee camps set up in Zaire in 1994 struggled with outbreaks of dysentery. Sanitation was poor; the refugees defecated openly in common areas. Human waste built up in the same areas where the refugees drew water that was used for cooking and drinking. Heavy rain flooded the area and dysentery became epidemic, at its peak it was killing 2,000 people a day.
Refugee camps have always been a haven for diseases related to poor sanitation. Once U.S. and UN officials brought in purified water and encouraged people to use outhouses and latrines for defecation, the incidences of dysentery fell.
Chicago’s Population Grew from 350 in 1835 to More than 60,000 by 1850
The industrial revolution drove rapid population growth. Chicago’s water infrastructure wasn’t designed to handle such a rapid rise in population. Chicago was dealing with many different diseases, but it had especially high rates of typhoid fever. The source of the rapid increase in disease was traced to the city’s water and sanitation.
The majority of the city’s sewage was directed to the Chicago River, which flowed right back into Lake Michigan, which provided the city’s drinking water. This, of course, contaminated Chicago’s drinking water and created a cycle of disease.
It took many years to solve the problem, but in the early 1900s Chicago modernized their water infrastructure. They reversed the flow of several rivers and streams, and as a result, typhoid fever and all other infectious diseases plummeted.
Sanitation prevents disease by removing the cause of disease transmission, but this is not new information. Moses taught sanitation. He made many rules for encampments. The Greeks and the Romans created elaborate systems of aqueducts, baths, and drainage. When the Roman Empire crumbled, sanitation became a lost art. Civilization paid the price: plague after plague struck areas of dense population.
Smallpox continued to infect Europe’s population until plumbing infrastructure became commonplace. Although, sanitation ended this disease, the smallpox vaccine takes the credit.
When most of us think of a conscientious objector, we think of someone who refused military service for moral or religious reasons. In the 1800s, the term came into use for someone who refused vaccinations for their children. There was a great deal of resistance to the smallpox vaccine. Some statistics placed fatalities from the vaccine as high as 1 in 200
In modern times, objections to vaccines are mounting. Refusing to vaccinate is as controversial today as it was when the first vaccines were forced on British citizens almost 200 years ago.
Vaccines often contain toxins like aluminum and mercury, and many vaccines contain aborted fetal tissues. The reality of vaccine injury and death is making the news, though the propaganda and out and out lies from pharmaceutical companies cause a polarized division between those who are pro vaccine and those who are against.
If you are reading this, you probably have access to running water and a working toilet. If you choose to forego vaccines for yourself or your children, bear in mind that you will need additional protection to avoid contracting illnesses. Exercise, sleep, stress management, and a truly healthy diet are all essential for an immune system to work at optimal efficiency.
While the medical professionals and the pharmaceutical companies are quick to take credit for our increased life expectancy, in truth, they are not the heroes. Have you thanked a plumber lately?
If you’re looking to increase your body’s ability to protect itself against disease, check out Make Your Immune System Bulletproof with These Natural Remedies. Also, see How to How to Detoxify from Vaccinations & Heavy Metals.
- How To Detoxify and Heal From Vaccinations – For Adults and Children
- Vaccines, Retroviruses, DNA, and the Discovery That Destroyed Judy Mikovits’ Career
- Influenza Vaccine – A Comprehensive Overview of the Potential Dangers and Effectiveness of the Flu Shot
- The MMR Vaccine – A Comprehensive Overview Of the Potential Dangers and Effectiveness
- Autism and Vaccines: CDC Whistleblower Exposes Vaccine Dangers, Lies, and Cover-ups
- Taps and Toilets Essential to Maintain India’s Polio Free Miracle – The Lancet
- Polio Vaccine Fails in India Due to Polluted Drinking Water – The Refusers
- John Snow and the Broad Street Pump: On the Trail of an Epidemic – UCLA
- Sanitation, Not Vaccination The True Protection Against Small-Pox – William Tebb
- The End of Smallpox – History Today
- 53,000 Paralysis Cases in India From Polio Vaccine In A Year – NPAFP Identical to Polio But Twice as Deadly – Child Health Safety
- Understanding Your Western European Ancestors: Demographics: Death and Illness – Understanding Your Ancestors
Meet One Marine Still Fighting Chronic Pain and the VA
In a column published on the National Pain Report, retired pharmacist Steve Ariens and I posed the question: “Is the Chronic Patient Giving Up?”
Well, you are about to meet (again) one who has not.
51-year old Robert Rose is a retired Marine (medical discharge in 1994) who has been fighting his VA—The Mountain Home VA Center in Johnson City, Tennessee—two doctors (Dr. Edwards and Dr. Vernon) and his Congressional representatives.
His request is simple—treat my pain—pain that was brought on by compressed spinal vertebrae, bad knees, hips and ankles. All the injuries are the result of Rose’s service to the country which ended in 1994 when the Marines medically discharged the man because, well, he was broken.
He has received nothing for his pain since December 29th and takes low level Motrin and Tylenol to address the pain—but they don’t address much, he said.
Because he’s a Marine, he’s a fighter—and has been inundating the VA, the doctors, Congressional representatives and the media with letters about his plight—with little response.
His latest one caught our attention and I asked if he would be ok with republishing it. The self-effacing Rose said it was ok, as long we checked the punctuation.
Deal, we said.
By the way, before we publish the letter, one thing Rose told us was especially troubling. When I explained to him that we were doing this story following our own question about whether the chronic pain patient was giving up—he said that veterans he works with through social media indeed are in tough shape—they don’t feel like anyone is watching out for them and says that he wishes the VA would do a statistical analysis of veterans who are committing suicide.
Here’s his letter written after his last interaction with the VA—an interaction you will read that left him frustrated.
Subject: Still being punished…. LMAO….
RAGE!!! — It is funny but I knew what was going to happen at today’s appointment with my PCP. I even sent him an email requesting the pain management doctor be present if he was going to be unable to proscribe something for pain. That’s the one who promised to take personal interest in my case and see me after the big meeting back in March and I haven’t seen since.
Why was I expecting something for pain? Simple, the PCP had been promising since March 20 that once the MRIs first ordered in October 2016 for my back were accomplished, he would treat the pain. He also has stated it was not in his powers to prescribe pain medications as it had to go through pain management which is hilarious considering a nurse practitioner with no special training other than Family Medicine had been prescribing those pain meds up until October when they adopted the new policy. So she has more power than a full-fledged medical doctor!!! LOL
Anyhow he can’t prescribe anything for my back. The pain management doctor apparently was still too busy to see me. And now, I have to go through additional tests which I have already been through including the nerve conduction tests (the needles are not so bad on the left side which is mostly numb; not as much on the right). I also get another multi-discipline meeting but the good news is going to amaze everyone… I now suffer from fibromyalgia instead of from damage to my spine!!! AND remember the CAT scan in November 2016 revealed damage to T9 in my back – the reason it has been hard to breath and documented since 1991? Well the new MRIs from last week show that it is HEALED!!! I am a walking miracle to modern medicine!!! Everything in the MRIs reveal minor stenosis, minor degenerative disk disease, minor arthritis and oh yeah the bulging disks in the cervical and thoracic are both minor nothing to be concerned about it… SMH… The only thing he did mention I wasn’t expecting is that T-8 is chipped but again it is no big deal which would not cause the problems I am experiencing… LMAO
‘Baby boxes’ shouldn’t be legalized in Russia, says Health Ministry
The Russian Health Ministry will not back the idea of so-called ‘baby boxes,’ special containers installed at hospitals where parents can abandon children anonymously and in relatively safe conditions, a representative has said.
“We have decided not to support this initiative and the Education Ministry, the Labor Ministry and the Ministry of Justice have joined us in this decision,” the director of the Health Ministry’s Department for Children’s health and Childbirth, Elena Baibarina, said at a lower house roundtable session.
Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Tatyana Moskalkova, said on Tuesday however that she was strongly against the ban on baby boxes.
“I think that anything that can potentially save lives or minimize harm connected with the fact that some families or mothers sometimes abandon their children has the right to exist,” she said.
“Baby boxes are a chance to keep babies alive, keep them in good health and maintain a chance of their future adoption,” Moskalkova said.
In March this year, a group of Russian MPs drafted a bill giving regional authorities the power to decide whether baby boxes should be legal. However, the bill also states that the Health Ministry should develop unified requirements for the facilities and the rules of their use. The bill has not yet been considered by the State Duma, but received approval from the Committee on Federation and Local Governance.
Baby boxes appeared in several Russian regions in about 2011. The activists who launched the initiative claimed they were saving infants from health dangers that appear when parents simply leave them in public places or near hospitals and orphanages.
A legislative ban on baby boxes was proposed in August 2015 by lawmakers from the nationalist party LDPR. This draft ordered fines and correctional labor both for those who set up the facilities and for the parents who use them. The sponsors of the bill also explained that, in their view, baby boxes encouraged parents to give up their children by offering a simple and safe way to do so. Senator Elena Mizulina presented a similar motion in mid-2016.
On the other hand, Senator Konstantin Dobrynin from Arkhangelsk Region drafted a bill that would legalize baby boxes and detail state requirements for such facilities and the personnel who run them. He pointed out that wider use of baby boxes could prevent cases in which mothers either kill their unwanted newborns or leave them in the street, potentially leading to their deaths.
Currently baby boxes are banned in nine Russian regions. Two regions have officially recognized the initiative as legal, while in one region they remain in a gray area of the law. Mass media estimate the overall number of baby boxes across the country at about 60.
The first time in a while I am able to refer to the WaPo article as it has documents and sources in it.
The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.
A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation.
The cargo began as ordinary soybeans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Like ordinary soybeans, they were fumigated with a pesticide. They were priced like ordinary soybeans, too.
But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain.
After being contacted by The Post, the broker for the soybeans, Annapolis-based Global Natural, emailed a statement saying it may have been “provided with false certification documents” regarding some grain shipments from Eastern Europe. About 21 million pounds of the soybeans have already been distributed to customers.
The multimillion-dollar metamorphosis of the soybeans, as well as two other similar grain shipments in the past year examined by The Post, demonstrate weaknesses in the way that the United States ensures that what is sold as “USDA Organic” is really organic.
The three shipments, each involving millions of pounds of “organic” corn or soybeans, were large enough to constitute a meaningful proportion of the U.S. supply of those commodities. All three were presented as organic, despite evidence to the contrary. And all three hailed from Turkey, now one of the largest exporters of organic products to the United States, according to Foreign Agricultural Service statistics.
Agriculture Department officials said that they are investigating fraudulent organic grain shipments. But the agency declined to identify any of the firms or shipments involved.
“We are continuing the investigation based on the evidence received,” it said in a statement.
The imported corn and soybean shipments examined by The Post were largely destined to become animal feed and enter the supply chain for some of the largest organic food industries. Organic eggs, organic milk, organic chicken and organic beef are supposed to come from animals that consume organic feed, an added expense for farmers that contributes to the higher consumer prices on those items.
While most food sold as “USDA Organic” is grown in the United States, at least half of some organic commodities — corn, soybeans and coffee — come from overseas, from as many as 100 countries.
USDA officials say that their system for guarding against fraud is robust.
Under USDA rules, a company importing an organic product must verify that it has come from a supplier that has a “USDA Organic” certificate. It must keep receipts and invoices. But it need not trace the product back to the farm. Some importers, aware of the possibility of fraud, request extra documentation. But others do not.
Regardless of where organics come from, critics say, the system suffers from multiple weaknesses in enforcement: Farmers hire their own inspection companies; most inspections are announced days or weeks in advance and lack the element of surprise; and testing for pesticides is the exception rather than the rule.
These vulnerabilities are magnified with imported products, which often involve more middlemen, each of whom could profit by relabeling conventional goods as “organic.” The temptation could be substantial, too: Products with a “USDA Organic” label routinely sell for twice the price of their conventional counterparts.
In recent years, even as the amount of organic corn and soybeans imported to the United States has more than tripled, the USDA has not issued any major sanctions for the import of fraudulent grain, U.S. farmers said.
“The U.S. market is the easiest for potentially fraudulent organic products to penetrate because the chances of getting caught here are not very high,” said John Bobbe, executive director of the Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing, or OFARM, a farmer cooperative. In Europe and Canada, he said, import rules for organics are much stricter.
Moreover, even when the USDA has responded to complaints of questionable imports, action has come too late to prevent the products from reaching consumers.
Four months after the soybeans arrived in California and after The Post began making calls about the shipment, county officials acting on behalf of the USDA showed up at the warehouse where the soybeans were being stored. The officials took samples to test for exposure to pesticides.
By that time, about 21 million pounds of the 36 million-pound shipment had already reached farms and mills. The customers who have purchased the soybeans said they were unaware there may have been a problem until a Post reporter called.
Gauging the extent of fraud in imported organics is difficult because there is little incentive for organic companies to advertise their suspicions about suppliers.
To test USDA claims that organic imports are rigorously monitored, The Post examined pesticide residue testing conducted on organic products in China.
China is the leading source of organic tea and ginger in the United States, and its food exports have drawn repeated scrutiny.
“In China, farmers have trouble following their own laws,” said Chenglin Liu, a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. “ So how can Americans expect Chinese farmers will follow U.S. organic rules?”
As in the United States, farmers in China seeking the “USDA Organic” label hire an inspection agency to certify that they meet the organic rules.
Using public-records laws, The Post obtained the results of pesticide residue tests conducted on farms with USDA organic certification in China. Although pesticide tests are not mandatory, inspection agencies are required to take samples from 5 percent of their clients, and The Post requested the results from the three most active inspection agencies overseeing Chinese farms.
The pesticide results showed very high levels of pesticide residue on some “organic” Chinese products. They also showed that the pesticide residue tests are applied unevenly.
One of the largest inspection agencies, a German company known as Ceres, appears to do rigorous testing.
Ceres conducts most of its tests on plant leaves, rather than on fruits, a method that can be more likely to detect pesticide use.
Their results from China, as a Ceres official said, were “quite shocking.”
Of 232 samples that Ceres tested from the Chinese organic farms, 37 percent showed more than traces of pesticide residue.
“This is the reality we are battling with in China,” said Albrecht Benzing of Ceres.
Some of the problem arises from pesticides from neighboring farms drifting over, experts said, and some is contamination from China’s polluted soil and water.
For example, in Shandong province, the Laiwu Manhing Vegetables Fruits Corp. harvests ginger that has been grown organically. But the water available for washing the ginger is so polluted that it leaves pesticide residue.
“After the ginger is washed, the water leaves behind pesticide residues too high to be considered organic” in the United States, said Li Hongtao, a sales manager at the company. He said the ginger is sold as organic in some countries but not the United States or Europe.
The pesticide residue results that were obtained by The Post also indicate that enforcement of “USDA Organic” rules for pesticides are uneven and possibly arbitrary, with results depending on the inspection agency.
While Ceres found remarkably high levels of pesticide residue, others reported extremely low levels.
For example, Ecocert, a French inspection agency, reported pesticide residue on about 1 percent of 360 samples from China in 2015 — a level of cleanliness remarkable for any country, let alone China and its well-documented pollution.
This wide range of pesticide use detected by organic inspectors in China — nearly 40 percent at one company and 1 percent in another — suggests a variety of methods and standards at work. Ecocert said their results may be low because they chose samples from a large number of farms. Different firms may also use different thresholds for what constitutes a positive result. The next year, Ecocert said, its testing criteria changed slightly, and the percentage of samples with pesticide levels rose to 8 percent.
Critics say the disparity in results shows that certifying agencies can make any farm look organic.
“The certifying agencies can choose who and when they test,” said Mischa Popoff, a former USDA organic inspector turned critic. “That’s why the results they can get are completely arbitrary.”
Each of the questionable organic shipments of corn and soybeans examined by The Post passed through Turkey, a country whose organic exports have provoked criticism from international authorities.
In 2013, for example, a report by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture found that half of European importers and Turkish handlers had detected pesticide residue on organic products from Turkey.
The United States has seen large spikes in the amount of organic corn and soybeans entering from Turkey, according to USDA statistics. Between 2014 and 2016, the amount of organic corn arriving from Turkey rose from 15,000 metric tons to more than 399,000 metric tons; the amount of organic soybeans coming from Turkey rose from 14,000 metric tons to 165,000. (The three shipments examined by The Post represent roughly 7 percent of annual organic corn imports and 4 percent of organic soybean imports.)
Such sudden jumps in organic food production draw scrutiny because the organic transition process is slow — it can take three years for conventional land to be converted into organic farmland.
“Where did all this big production come from? Where are these organic farmers?” Miles McEvoy, chief of the USDA’s organic program, said to a group of U.S. organic farmers earlier this year.
The rise of imports has helped drop prices by more than 25 percent, hurting U.S. organic farmers, many of them small operations.
“My neighbor, small farm, lost $30,000 last year on 100 acres of organic corn,” said OFARM’s Bobbe. “In fact, there’s so much coming in, we’re finding buyers who won’t take any corn.”
To piece together the three questionable shipments, The Post was given records of the transactions by an industry expert who requested anonymity because they may conflict with the mandates of his employer. The documents included company invoices, shipping records and health certificates accompanying the shipments. Warehouse operators, importers, exporters and Ukrainian officials verified key documents and added details.
●The first of the shipments arrived at the port of Wilmington in Delaware a year ago. It consisted of 46 million pounds of “organic” corn.
The Romanian company that provided the corn is not a certified organic company, and receipts show that the corn was initially purchased at the conventional price, not the organic one.
The shipper is listed as Hakan Organics, a Dubai-based company with operations in Turkey.
Hakan Organics is listed as an organic handler in good standing with the USDA.
The first intended customer for the corn, Perdue Agribusiness, asked for additional paperwork and then refused to accept the shipment, because “we could not confirm all the proper documentation” that Perdue requires, a company spokesman said.
The Post could not determine who ended up purchasing the “organic” corn.
Since then, Perdue has not received any shipments from Hakan Organics, a Perdue spokesman said.
Hakan Organics continued to ship agricultural products to the United States.
Hakan Bahceci, the chief executive of Hakan, indicated by email that he would answer questions but then did not respond further.
●The second shipment, the soybeans from Ukraine and Turkey, arrived aboard the Four Diamond at the port of Stockton in December 2016.
A set of health certificates that accompanied the soybeans allowed The Post to trace the soybeans from California back to Turkey and to their origin in Ukraine.
The health certificates and associated receipts indicate that they were not really organic. For one thing, the soybeans were fumigated with tablets of aluminum phosphide, a pesticide prohibited under organic regulations; some of the soybeans originated from ADM Ukraine, a company that does not produce or trade organic soybeans and did not sell or label them as such, a company spokeswoman said; and finally, the soybeans were originally priced at the level of conventional soybeans.
Invoices and other documents for those soybeans showed that they were originally priced at about $360 per ton. By the time they reached the United States, the price reached almost $600 per ton.
Global Natural, the Annapolis-based firm that was marketing the soybeans in the United States, said it has stopped selling “all potentially affected product.” Company officials declined to answer further questions.
The importer of the soybeans is Agropex International.
Ashley Anderson, who is listed as the president of Agropex International, insisted that the soybeans that arrived in Stockton are legitimately organic.
The third shipment involved 46 million pounds of “organic” corn that sailed from Romania to Turkey and then to Baltimore, arriving in March.
The Romanian producers of the corn, a company called Belor, is not a certified organic company and sold the corn at conventional prices, according to receipts. But by the time the corn from Romania reached the United States, it was labeled organic. Its price had risen 72 percent. As with the cargo aboard the Four Diamond, the value of the shipment increased by millions.
Dennis Minnaard of DFI Organics said his company had been set to buy some of the corn but rejected the shipment because the broker did not “take away our doubts” about its authenticity.
Yet that “organic” corn continued to be marketed to other customers, according to industry officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the deals.
With “the complex supply chain of organic grain,” McEvoy, the USDA official, told concerned farmers at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service conference earlier this year, “there are challenges.”
Jonah Bolt, Host and Commentator at Starseed Radio, empowers listeners by sharing ancient knowledge, secret information and technology to sustain the planet. Jonah is heavily involved in community development with organizations, such as Transition Black Mountain, NC & Transition Asheville, NC (transitionasheville.org), Peacetown Asheville, NC (peacetownasheville.org), Evolver (evolver.net) and uses aspects from the “Domain” Eco-Village for the homeless.
He is a Youth NOW campaign activist youth now which reaches out to high school & college students across the globe, partnered & supported by We the World (wetheworld.org). Starseed topics cover the latest in World News, Conscious Living, Health & Wellness, Earth Changes, Global Events, New Technologies, Spirituality, Sustainable Practices, Esoteric Topics, Holistic Practitioners, Healers & Galactic News. He features ground breaking Conscious content, which includes Environmental and Social Change movements, Activism, springing from real change at the community level.