EPA Weighs In...
behind the FADs are simple: to meet federal Safe Drinking Water Act
requirements for the drinking water of 8 million city dwellers based
on the maintained purity of such water’s source in the Catskills
watershed. as protected by land use regulations and careful stewardship
The basis behind the politics of FAD renewals is equally simple, in
the long run… to utilize the city’s fear of a costly filtration
order to get it to pony up the funds for local economic enhancement
programs, as well as the cost of such source protection means as home
septic and municipal sewer systems, along with a myriad other programs.
After a particularly stressful review and behind-the-scenes negotiating
process that included the involvement of powerful Congressmen and
the state governor’s office, drawn into the fray because of
new threats of development led by Dean Gitter’s long-promised
Belleayre Resort, the EPA finally recently issued a draft FAD for
New York City’s massive and complicated water system on April
12, with surprises for many.
Chief among them was the fact that the EPA, after thorough review
of a revised long-term watershed protection plan that the New York
City Department of Environmental Protection submitted to the feds
last year, decided to extend its usual FAD approval time from five
to ten years.
But also included in the carefully-worded determination was language
that, despite clarifications to the opposite effect released by New
York City since the FAD’s release, seems to indicate that the
DEP will have to pay whatever it takes to ensure the building of municipal
sewer systems in a series of targeted hamlets, Phoenicia and Boiceville
included. As well as renewed commitments towards large infusions of
cash into the region via city land acquisitions ($300 million), pumped-up
educational programs, and a re-invigorated program aimed at renovating
the region’s private septic systems..
At the same time, the draft FAD released by the EPA last week also
includes a construction schedule for the city’s building of
an ultraviolet light (UV) disinfection plant for Catskills water by
August of 2012, as a supplement to its existing chlorine disinfection
In reaction to the draft FAD’s release, reactions have lined
up along two basic camps, based on political party and regional location.
In the former case, State Senators John Bonacic and James Seward and
Assemblymembers Clifford Crouch and Peter Lopez blasted the EPA’s
waiver period extension from five to ten years, sharply characterizing
the move as a means to give license to the DEP “to be a bully
to the people of the Catskills.” As key issues, apart from the
timing, they brought up the City’s reluctance to extend recreational
use of its Upstate lands – meaning hunting, primarily –
as well as create better flood controls through the creation of “voids”
within its upstate reservoirs.
The Republican legislators meanwhile noted how the State Senate had
passed an act seeking to rescind the City’s authority to regulate
its watershed, without mentioining that act’s failure to muster
any support in the state Assembly, and said they would be urging upstate
towns to pass resolutions condemning the EPA’s FAD proposal.
Democrat Assembly members Aileen Gunther and Kevin Cahill simultaneously
released a statement that urged cooperation between Upstate communities
and the city during the FAD’s upcoming review and comment period,
which lasts through May. On a more localized basis, Delaware County
economic/industrial development director Glenn Nealis voiced dissatisfaction
regarding the new FAD from his constituent area, which represents
the largest geographic portion of the watershed. But he also said
the fact of the FAD revealed growing problems within the region’s
ability to function as a viable political entity, as it did when first
fighting New York City regulatory changes a decade ago.
“Delaware County and the rest of the West of Hudson communities
have gotten exactly what we deserve,” Nealis said of the growing
FAD brouhaha. “We spent the whole time bickering among ourselves
over who should be making comments and proposals and nobody got anything
done. The Coalition of Watershed Towns dropped the ball and have been
asleep at the switch.”
Officials and residents in Ulster County, meanwhile, said they saw
the extension to ten years as an admission by all that no new major
regulatory changes would be expected for that period of time. And
they welcomed the new benefits inherent in the EPA’s waiver
So what will the benefits of the proposed new FAD be for local residents?
“The program will continue to support the rehabilitation or
replacement of approximately 300 septic systems per year,” the
FAD says of a popular component of the city’s watershed operations
that have helped thousands fix septic systems already over the last
decade. “A new initiative will evaluate the need for and feasibility
of a septic cluster system program… and funding needs will be
assessed to evaluate whether additional monies are required to address
the identified needs.”
As for the community systems program, which ran into its first big
obstacle this past winter when Phoenicia property owners voted against
a proposed system with $17 million in promised city funding, it seems
New York has been practically ordered to pay whatever it takes to
make local communities offers they can’t refuse.
“NYCDEP will execute contract changes… that include funding
levels sufficient to complete projects,” the FAD says in regards
to Phoenicia, indirectly addressing property owner worries that there
wouldn’t be enough on hand to avoid possible =cost overruns
to be picked up by local communities. Similarly, Operations and Maintenance
costs would also have to be covered.
According to DEP spokesman Ian MIchaels, though, “The new Filtration
Avoidance Determination requires that the City maintain available
funding for a possible infrastructure project in Phoenicia. It does
not require that any such project take place. Participation in the
New Infrastructure Program remains voluntary, and the EPA is fully
aware of Phoenicia’s decision to not participate at this time.”
Talk about splitting hairs…
“While the DEP believes that a new wastewater plant in Phoenicia
would be beneficial both for the town and for water quality, failure
to construct a plant would not jeopardize filtration avoidance,”
Michaels continued. “ Should there come a time when Phoenicia
residents have another opportunity to join the New Infrastructure
Program it would be under the same terms as previously offered.”
Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed Corporation,
reiterated Michaels’ statement in a letter this week... noting
monies refused from one project would be used on another, as if there
were no EPA preference for cleaner downstream reservoirs.
In Boiceville, where a new project is to get voted on by the community
May 8, “NYCDEP will provide sufficient funding to complete”
Apart from the wastewater projects and funding language, other key
new areas in the FAD addressed the city’s need to address the
turbidity, or general muddiness, of waters coming into and out of
the Ashokan reservoir, a problem brought to a head in the past year
via a successful lawsuit from Trout Unlimited and other organizations.
With flooding also a concern, the city will implement a new long term
plan for Stream Management throughout the Catskills, including research
and riparian buffer protection programs to help stabilize streambanks.
Continuing dredging of the Schoharie Reservoir, who had much-discussed
dam repairs started in the last year, and future analysis of new ways
of lowering turbidity levels (and possibly flood problems) at the
Ashokan Reservoir are also expected by next winter.
Finally, a new waterfowl management program involving “avian
population monitoring, avian harassment activities and avian deterrence”
will be implemented over the coming years at various sites throughout
the reservoir system, including the Ashokan.
The last time the EPA issued a FAD was in November, 2002, when deeper
involvement with the city’s upstate monitoring partners, the
Catskill Watershed Corporation and Watershed Agricultural Council
– both set up via the negotiation process between New York and
the CWT in the 1990s – was enhanced, along with added funds
for watershed community wastewater treatment plants.
As part of its consideration for the new FAD, the EPA noted that among
the recent and/or current issues it paid “significant attention”
to were the various opinions within the Upstate community towards
city land acquisition, recreational use of city-owned lands, ongoing
partnership programs with other agencies within the watershed, and
the Belleayre Resort project.
Regarding land acquisitions, acknowledgement was made for the belief
among some that “continuation of the program could impede future
growth,” tempered in the final run by a belief that such opposition
could be softened by working with land trusts and other localized
organizations to better identify possible lands for acquisition and
always ensuring the “willing seller” basis for the program.
As for the Gitter project — which was raised within the FAD
review process last summer when the developer invited EPA Regional
Administrator Alan J. Steinberg to the Catskills to see what he was
proposing, and then accelerated when Steinberg started hosting closed-door
negotiations between Belleayre Resort proponents and opponents throughout
the fall: “Widely divergent recommendations were provided about
To actually see the New York City filtration avoidance determination
in its entirety, visit: www.epa.gov/Region2/water/nycshed/public.htm
Written comments should be sent to New York City Watershed Team EPA
Region 2, 290 Broadway, 28th Floor, New York, NY 10007, or by email
to email@example.com. Comments will be accepted through May 31.
That, in turn, prompted one of the major parties in
the negotiations – the Catskill Preservation Coalition representing
a host of national, state and regional environmental organizations,
to send out a press release noting that talks were continuing and that,
as CPC Spokesperson Tom Alworth put it, “Contrary to rumors, there
is no deal.”
The CPC release further noted that any understanding reached in the
closed-door talks would be open for public review and comment, and that
should an agreement not be reached, “the parties reserve their
right to resume the adjudicatory process.”
The rumors, it turns out, started around the same time that a surprise
statement was released from the usually non-partisan Coalition for Belleayre,
a group of ski area enthusiasts who originally came together in the
1980s to protest and eventually stop a threatened state closing of its
DEC-run Belleayre Ski Resort. They have more recently advocated, supported,
and essentially run the Belleayre Music Festival each summer, as well
as the fundraising Snowball gala each February.
“We strongly support the efforts of Governor Spitzer and Maurice
Hinchey in effecting a timely, positive resolution of the controversy
surrounding the Belleayre Resort Project,” their April 14 release
read. “The solution has to address the needs of the local communities
to have an economy that adds jobs for the present and provides a future
for their children that does not force them to go elsewhere to build
their lives. We understand this solution should include environmental
controls that mitigate the effect of development but it must also provide
the ability for this project to go forward in an economically viable
manner. The time for a solution and for construction to begin is NOW!”
Justifying its movement off the proverbial bench, the Coalition’s
press release noted, “In the past The Coalition for Belleayre
has adopted a neutral stand on The Belleayre Resort Project because
of the divisive nature of dispute.” More recently, the release
went on, that stance was shifted by a downturn in the Catskills economy,
heightened competition between Belleayre and other Northeast ski areas
with greater amenities, and “the introduction of the probable
integration of Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the compromise solutions
for a Belleayre Resort Project being discussed by governmental entities.”
It is that latter statement, sources are now saying, that caused CPC’s
concern since it signaled that someone was letting out information from
the gagged negotiations without authorization.
Did the release mean that the Coalition For Belleayre was backing the
alternative Congressman Maurice Hinchey put forth two years ago, to
forgo any development on the Resort’s eastern half and downscale
its western ambitions, as well?
“We like a lot of what Maurice has said.” Coalition for
Belleayre founder Joe Kelly replied. “Remember, the compromise
has, how do I put this, progressed over the last year. Our position
is to just do it.”
Asked if he had, as Kelly inferred, actually compromised his alternative
to Gitter’s proposal in any way, Hinchey said this week that he
“It hasn’t progressed at all,” he said. “He
doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I feel that any development
on the eastern portion of that ridgeline will have a very serious adverse
impact on the water quality of the New York City reservoir system, which
cannot be gambled with.
Gitter has often derided what the Congressman put forth. But then he
announced his own “compromise,” which effectively kept two
parts to his resort, but only one golf course, last fall. Instead of
the second, he would build a world-class medical spa retreat. And cut
back on a few of the condo rooms.
Meanwhile, reports that a compromise has been discussed that includes
a close tie-in between the resort and state-owned Belleayre Mountain
Ski Center was scoffed at by the heads of other privately-owned ski
centers in the Catskills, who noted that there was already a movement
afoot among Northeast ski businesses to petition the state to get out
of an already highly competitive and endangered industry.
“They try giving themselves even more of an advantage and they’ll
be hearing from lawyers,” said Hunter Mountain owner Orville Slutsky,
known as the grandfather of local skiing. “Enough’s enough…”
According to his wife, Patricia, he also got cancer as a result of
his tour of duty and died In the Margaretville Memorial Hospital on
July 29, 2000, at age 48, after his battle with the illness.
Many Vietnam veterans have succumbed to forms of cancer that many
have attributed to the effects of Agent Orange, the nickname given
to a powerful herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military during
that war. Although lawsuits involving the chemical are still pending
and the U.S. government has never actively acknowledged any culpability
in its effects on soldiers in its employ, the US Department of Veterans
Affairs has listed prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple
myeloma, type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne, porphyria cutanea tarda,
peripheral neuropathy, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed
to Agent Orange as side effects of the herbicide.
On Monday, April 16th, in a service at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
in Washington, D.C., Walley’s name was honored posthumously
during a ceremony to pay tribute to the men and women who died prematurely
from noncombat injuries and emotional suffering caused directly by
the Vietnam War, but who are not eligible to have their names inscribed
on the Memorial, which is dedicated only to those who died in combat.
Patricia was at the ceremony.
“It was so cold, windy and raining, the whole time, but everyone
- hundreds, young and old - braved the weather to honor our loved
ones,” she said. “It was very moving, sad but beautiful
all at the same time. We shed a lot of tears, most froze to our faces,
but we all found some closure knowing our beloved were where they
should be, right there with their buddies on the wall.”
Walley and 76 other casualties were honored as part of the ninth annual
In Memory Day. The event was created by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
“The In Memory program serves to honor the thousands of service
members and civilians who died as a result of the war, but who are
not eligible to have their names inscribed on The Wall,” according
to Jan C. Scruggs, the non-profit organizations founder and president.
“The annual ceremony brings together families and friends who
have lived through similar tragedies, allowing them to share stories
and to start the process of healing.”
During the ceremony, family members read aloud their loved ones’
names in chronological order by date of death. Following the ceremony,
participants laid tributes at the base of The Wall corresponding to
the honorees’ dates of service in Vietnam, so that these Vietnam
veterans come to rest near those comrades with whom they served.
With the addition of Walley and this year’s other honorees,
more than 1,600 individuals are now honored in the In Memory Honor
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial contains the names of 58,253 men and
women who died while serving in the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam
War. The Memorial’s black granite walls have always stood to
remember all of the nearly 3.5 million who participated in the divisive
and controversial conflict.
“The Department of Defense developed very specific parameters
that allow only the names of service members who died of injuries
suffered in combat zones to be inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,”
Scruggs said. “The In Memory program recognizes those men and
women who have died prematurely as a result of the Vietnam War, but
who do not meet the criteria. Many of their deaths are a result of
Agent Orange exposure and emotional wounds that never healed.”
The annual In Memory ceremony is held on the third Monday of April.
That date was chosen specifically to coincide with Patriots Day, which
commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord at the start of
the Revolutionary War—the first time Americans fought for freedom
FOOD AND SECRECY
In retrospect, the mysterious wave of deaths from
acute renal failure and similar illnesses had begun to rise last
year but failed to attract widespread attention until early March.
Kidney failure has, in fact, been a leading cause of pet death for
over a decade but the toll was rising dramatically in 2007. The
first company to issue a recall notice, after it was observed that
"routine" taste tests in February were killing one in
six of their test animals, was the Canadian distributor, Menu Foods,
who initially recalled over 60 million cans of "wet food."
At the time the recall was announced, an employee of the NY State
Health Department confided that a rodent poison named ‘aminopterin’
had been detected in pet food samples by a state lab but, like so
much else in this episode, the idea that folic acid-inhibiting rat
poison (detected in only two samples, according to an early story
on the recall), suggestive of other symptoms which should have been
present but were not, could have contaminated 873 hundred tons of
wheat gluten destined for pet food just didn’t add up even
in a layman’s mind. Cornell University quickly entered the
investigation but, like the FDA, failed to confirm the aminopterin
Toward the end of the month, the new villain was announced to be
the industrial chemical melamine, which was present in the urine
of affected animals but, in none of the readily available studies,
displayed anywhere near the toxicity levels that would account for
the lethal results reported. Again, the idea that a chemical contaminant
could infect so many tons of wheat protein also seemed unlikely,
prompting suspicions that something else was going on.
Locally, the extent of the secrecy became evident last month when
attempts to gauge the impact on pets of the Catskill-Hudson Valley
region of the Food and Drug Administration’s national recall
of some brands of dog and cat food were met with one of two typical
responses from local veterinarians. If no deaths had been reported,
area vets and animal hospitals would announce that they had performed
some "blood work" for concerned pet owners but no fatalities
had been recorded. Responses from other vets when asked about pet
fatalities, however, were more along the lines of an ambiguous "We’re
only dealing with the (pet) food (company) representatives and we
can’t give out that information."
Since Menu Foods, as lawsuits began being filed in late March, announced
that they would be responsible for veterinarian bills proven to
associated with the recall, it would seem apparent that some sort
of secrecy provision was attached these arrangements. Secrecy and
misdirection, in fact, seemed to attend almost every aspect of the
recall to the extent that, for weeks in March and early April, the
FDA website’s recall page, which withheld vital information
about the brand names involved at a critical time, played down the
threat by listing pet fatalities in the teens- a number that was
reflected in major media coverage until the Associated Press released
their first story on the crisis, by Andrew Bridges, on April 9th,
advancing an estimate of 39,000 injured animals.
Meanwhile, as websites maintained by veterinarian associations and
pet-owner groups were posting deaths in the thousands by the end
of March, National Public Radio ran a recall story in early April
citing the FDA figure of 17. On the same day, 3,168 dead pets had
been recorded in a survey by a pet-owner site.
As pet-owners scrambled to keep up with the new names being added
to the recall list of over a hundred brands, some of them checking
Internet listings twice a day because of media sluggishness on the
issue, it was websites like Pet Connection, Itchmo, Howl911 and
others which provided the most valuable insights and updates on
what was really happening. Their message boards flowed with accounts
from bereaved pet-owners- some of whom had just lost the most precious
and dependable presence in their life- carefully detailing exactly
what they had been feeding their pets, which symptoms developed
and what actions they took. It was only by monitoring these heart-rending
accounts that shoppers could anticipate the next brands to be recalled.
In many cases, this saved animal lives.
The webpages of the PET FOOD companies themselves were generally
defensive and, well, corporate- to a point that even the Financial
Times ran a story advising them adopt a more sensitive and tempered
approach. But denial held sway even as reports flooded in and brands
like Alpo, produced by the Swiss corporation Nestlé, remained
on the "safe" list, inflating sales until the company
finally slipped out its recall announcement at a 4 AM weekend "press
While the full scope of this story cannot even be approached in
the space available in these pages, some urgent points still ignored
in major media need to at least be touched upon. The heart of the
story isn’t about PET FOOD companies or supermarkets but rather
about corporate culture and the national news media which has, as
part of that culture, been largely missing in action on these developments-
just as it was on related issues leading up to this point. It is
also about public agencies serving as little more than appendages
of the industries they’re supposedly designed to regulate.
It is also the sorry story of the corporate corruption of science
by CEOs with their heads up their bottom lines.
The missing words in this crisis are ‘genetically modified.’
They are words Cornell, a GM-foods advocate closely associated with
the leading biotech firm Monsanto, kept out of the discourse when
it leaped in to assume its prominent role in the testing. Wheat
gluten has never been demonstrated to be lethally toxic- nor has
melamine. The same can not be said for genetically engineered wheat
and that is the elephant in the room that stands behind the stalling
and cover-up in this case. Aminopterin, an anti-metabolite which,
aside from its brief and aborted career as a rodent toxin and cancer
"drug", is more commonly used as a DNA-marker in genetic
engineering through the bio-resistance it provokes. Melamine may
have been illegally added to boost the protein readings of the product
but that’s a question that avoids the central facts.
In the twists and turns of this saga, a Las Vegas firm called ChemNutra
was named by Menu Foods as the primary supplier of the "contaminated"
wheat gluten. ChemNutra, which according to their own website seems
to qualify for the benefits allotted to a minority or woman-owned
company though it handles tens of millions of dollars in nutraceutival
chemicals a year, pointed the finger at XuZhou Anying Biologic Technology
Development Co Ltd, a Chinese trading firm that, in turn, denied
involvement with the suspect gluten. ChemNutra’s owners, New
York attorney Stephen S. Miller and his wife Sally Qing Miller,
have mixed credentials. Sally has a degree in Food Chemical Engineering
from Hanzhou Institute of Commerce in Hanzhou, China, a nation currently
spending $500 million annually on biotechnical research. Stephen,
who is testifying before Senator Richard Durbin’s Subcommittee
on Agriculture as this is written, worked with the E.F. Hutton Group
in the 1980s when it was led by Scott Pierce (brother-in-law of
then-Vice President George Bush- an association which may help explain
why the FDA delayed naming ChemNutra when it identified XuZhou)
who entered guilty pleas to 2000 criminal counts of fraud as the
brokerage firm disintegrated in the organized crime "Pizza
Connection" drug money laundering scandal. (The firm’s
remains survive under the Smith Barney-Citigroup banner).
During this decade, investment in emerging biotechnology soared
as incentives developed under the administration’s urging
and, by 1992, GM foods had been approved for human consumption by
the FDA’s decision that its content was "substantially
similar" to foods which are not genetically manipulated and,
so, could enter the marketplace without specific safety testing.
Due in large part to intensive lobbying and an aggressive Public
Relations campaign to overcome consumer reluctance by Monsanto and
other industry giants, engineered foods- even vegetables with human
genes inserted did not have to be labeled in the American marketplace.
Bioscientists have recently produced an animal which is 85% sheep
and 15% human. Lambchops, anyone?
The GM food industry seeks to overcome consumer hesitation to eat
produce with cross-species genes by claiming widespread benefits
to farmers and a promise to conquer world hunger. Each of their
claims is countered by groups like the Soil Association (whose 68
page fact book, "Seeds of Doubt," can be downloaded free
from their website), Greenpeace International, Science In Society,
GMWatch, Network of Concerned Farmers and many other citizen and
environmental groups. Those opposing the "GM revolution"
commonly point out the industry’s failure to fulfill their
glowing promises, characterize the introduction of GM crops as premature
at best and projecting irreversible ecological damage and unprecedented
monumental human disaster at worst. Farmers today are faced with
concerns about cross pollination, market rejection and liability
just for starters. New laws in Iraq dictate that farmers there cannot
use their own seeds.The prime beneficiaries in all of this are seen
as the biotech companies themselves, who can patent the lifeforms
they create and profit at every stage of the food chain.
As co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector, Robert
Fraley, proclaimed in 1996, "What you are seeing is not just
a consolidation of seed companies; it’s really a consolidation
of the entire food chain."
The renowned biochemist, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, noted in a talk at the
Franco-British Council Symposium in Paris, France on February 8,
2007: "...manipulation of scientific evidence appears to be
the mainstay of the regulatory process. Both the FSA (Food Safety
Authority) and the ACNFP (Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and
Processes) have been operating on the anti-precautionary principle.
Not only do they require the public and genuinely independent scientists
to prove there is a hazard, they have persistently ignored all evidence
of hazards submitted to them and, instead, continue to misinform
the public by citing highly flawed studies that claim to find no
effect against the latest findings."
The same situation is present in the telecommunications field where
the industry has a tight grip on both the research being conducted
and the regulatory agencies. Despite massive evidence of physical
effects from nonthermal radio frequency electromagnetic waves and
numerous studies linking them to the current rise in maladies from
cancer to chronic fatigue and autism, the billions available to
the wireless industry have kept a lid on the threats to public health.
Studies on the effects of electromagnetic frequencies on bees are
finally gaining a bit of attention as Colony Collapse Disorder wipes
out hives in electropolluted regions around the world. (Pollen from
GM plants is also a suspect in this crisis threatening the food
supply although the EMF factor is a more compelling answer to the
mystery). Like the PET FOOD recall, many are taking the CCD phenomena
as a wake-up call.
Since food industries create the standards for their own testing
under our present system, it should not be surprising that Monsanto’s
studies are favorable to their designs. But when Greenpeace Germany
commissioned an independent study of Monsanto’s data on their
transgenic corn MON863, approved for animal and human consumption
on the basis of methods found wanting by independent scrutiny, the
results were published in the peer-review journal Archives of Environmental
Contamination and Toxicology and a follow-up study was reported
upon by David Gutierrez of the Campaign for Labeling of GM Foods
on April 10, 2007:
"A variety of genetically modified corn that was approved for
human consumption in 2006 caused signs of liver and kidney toxicity
as well as hormonal changes in rats in a study performed by researchers
from the independent Committee for Independent Research and Genetic
Engineering at the University of Caen in France."
The Caen group found damage to the kidneys and livers of test animals
as well as hormonal changes and blood abnormalities, possibly perforation
of blood cells. GM food advocate Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute
responded quickly by pointing out that the "studies have consistently
found the variations occurred randomly," implying that they
should then be of little concern. But while the intricacies of molecular
biology may be complex, the foundation of the viability of GM food
is rather simple and it was demonstrated by Dr. Arpad Pusztai of
the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland in the first
independent, non-industry studies of GM food in 1998 and the very
problem isolated involves "randomness."
When Pusztai spoke publicly of his findings, he was dismissed by
Aberdeen, which was later revealed to have received a $230,000 grant
from Monsanto, and his work fiercely attacked. But when Pusztai
sent the research protocols to 24 independent scientists in different
countries, they verified his conclusions. "The data showed
that rats fed the GE potatoes for 10 days suffered serious damage
to the immune systems and various organs, including the kidney,
stomach, spleen, and brain," wrote Dr. Richard Wolfson in Biotech
News in May 1999.
"GM foods have been introduced on the back of just one published
paper. Just one, in fifteen years of GM," Dr. Pusztai said
in an interview. "It was written by a Monsanto scientist and
published in 1996...I could take it apart in 10 seconds...the main
problem is that the researchers appear to have done their utmost
to find no problem."
The principle which entirely undermines the multi-billion dollar
GM industry and potentially explains why some animals are stricken
by the GM gluten (and not the incidentally present melamine) and
why rice and corn gluten are also suspect is "substantial equivalence."
Dr. Pusztai explains: "We had two transgenic lines of potato
produced from the same gene insertion and the same growing conditions;
we grew them together along with the parent plant. With our two
lines of potato, which should have been substantially equivalent
to each other, we found that one of the lines contained 20% less
protein than the other. So the two lines were not substantially
equivalent to each other. But we also found that these two lines
were not substantially equivalent to their parent. This could not
be predicted. It demonstrates that the unpredictability is inherent
in the GM process on a case by case basis- and also at the level
of every single GM plant created."
Although no one seems to have mentioned it, it would also appear
to raise some questions about the intellectual property rights of
the patent but that, of course, like a considerable weight of other
evidence cannot be considered here.
As it stands, the $38 billion a year PET FOOD industry is dwarfed
by the human market and many people are not aware that over 70%
of processed foods they buy off grocery store shelves contains GM
ingredients. They’d be doubly shocked to learn the percentage
of foods, including frozen vegetables, are produced in China. In
an already shaky economy, it’s small wonder that the FDA and
the other players involved in the recall were determined to avoid
the GM factor.
The PET FOOD crisis is an inevitable result of priorities misplaced
in the corporate mind. They are priorities which will continue to
terrorize shoppers until they are modified by the insertion of human
principle. In the world of corporate think, it is conceivable to
conjure self-justifying thoughts like- "How utterly contemptible
of future generations to threaten this quarter’s profits when
they only exist in theory...."
This story is dedicated to Jizo, who died of renal failure in the
early stages of the recall. We miss you, boy.
Getting A Million?
At press time Tuesday the CWC had plans to authorize a $1 million
grant that evening to enter into a contract with the Catskill Water
Discovery Center, slated for Arkville, to provide the funds over
a four year period to hire an executive director and support staff
to manage, raise funds and eventually construct the building and
enclosed exhibits that will display the wonders of water to those
that visit the facility.
The project is planned to occupy 44 acres of land along the Crossroads
in Arkville be tween Route 28 and Route 30. It started as a New
York City watershed museum funded by one million dollars of New
York City money under the 1997 memorandum of agreement, but most
of that money was lost after organizers failed to build the project
within the agreed time frame. In 2004 it was announced that $5 million
was needed to really do the job right and a major fund raising campaign
But along the way something happened. Funding proved elusive. They
did raise $450,000, according to project spearhead Gary Gailes,
but it was apparent that funding would flow more freely if the plans
“The potential for significant support was identified. However,
it was also clear that our focus—the development of the Catskill/Delaware
Watershed and the issues of potable water—deserved deeper
and broader exploration,” said Gailes at the time.
That exploration revealed startling information. 135 million people
will die within 15 years from disease related to a lack of clean
water. If all the earth’s water could fit into a one gallon
jug, the amount that’s good enough to drink would be about
one tablespoon. Two out of ten people worldwide don’t have
access to any safe drinking water, and 3900 children under age five
die everyday for lack thereof. In some parts of the US serious conflicts
over water rights threaten economic and social disruption and in
other countries armed conflicts over water have already begun.
In contrast, water issues differ locally. There’s so much
of it that many landowners wish it would go away because it keeps
them from using their land. Fresh pure water floods the region several
times each year, wreaking havoc along stream banks. The region’s
pristine supply is so plentiful the City of New York gives local
communities millions annually to siphon it off for half the state’s
population to drink.
When first brought forward, the current Water Discovery Center was
a Watershed Museum proposed by local developer Dean Gitter to be
situated on lands donated by Gailes and located near his proposed
Belleayre resort, which has come under fire from environmentalists
as a threat to New York City’s drinking water supply.
Theproject was later moved to Arkville after Gailes and others complained
that Shandaken was not enthusiastic and supportive enough of the
propsed regional attraction.
To award the $1 million grant Tuesday, the CWC board of Directors
plans to form an alliance with the Water Discovery Center.
CWC’s economic development director, Michael Triolo, explained
that the Alliance was his agency’s idea. Triolo said that
CWC has supported the Museum project ever since it was announced
ten years ago, but at the same time CWC now wanted to be able to
keep watch on it’s investment.
Part of the deal is that CWC now has a seat on the Museums board
of Directors and has veto power over spending.
“It’s one million dollars over four years,” Triolo
said. “We want to watch how it is spent.”