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On the News With Thom Hartmann: The USDA Has Opened a Public Comment Period on GMO Policy, and More

Right now, you can tell the US Department of Agriculture what you think on the so-called “co-existence” of organic, conventional, and genetically engineered crops, and more.

In today’s On the News segment: Right now, you can tell the US Department of Agriculture what you think on the so-called “co-existence” of organic, conventional, and genetically engineered crops; low-water levels are more dangerous for California residents; over-the-counter and prescription drugs from India are a big concern right now; and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of….science & green News…..

You need to know this. Right now, you can tell the U.S. Department of Agriculture what you think on the so-called “co-existence” of organic, conventional, and genetically engineered crops. The USDA has opened a public comment period on this policy, and now’s your chance to weigh in. The USDA has totally missed the mark on this idea, which would allow our organic produce to be contaminated by GMOS. That agency calls for “farmer education,” and the proposed policy would require the victims to insurance against cross-contamination, or contribute to a fund to cover the costs of lost markets and other damages. This is simply unacceptable. Shouldn’t Monsanto and other biotech companies bear the burden of preventing GMO contamination? And, shouldn’t the USDA enforce an immediate moratorium on planting new GMO crops until our organic crops are fully protected? It’s time to tell the USDA to stop “blaming the victims,” and to keep GMOs out of our organic fields. Check out the news section of to find out how you can stop so-called “co-existence.” Click here

With No End In Sight, California’s Drought is not just threatening drinking water – it is now going after our health. Last week officials told Reuters that low-water levels are more dangerous for California residents. Dry and dusty conditions exacerbate asthma and lung problems, and contaminants in the water supply are becoming more concentrated because there’s less water to dilute them. Linda Rudolph, co-director for the Center for Climate Change and Health in Oakland, said,”Many groundwater basins in California are contaminated” with nitrates from fertilizers, chemicals from industrial operations, toxins from fracking and oil drilling, and even naturally occurring chemicals like arsenic. Last year, California identified 183 communities relied on contaminated drinking water, and 22 of them required government help to bring their supplies and infrastructure into compliance with environmental standards. The remaining communities are still in the process of updating their systems. To make matters worse, there’s evidence that increased sea ice melt in the northeastern Pacific is altering climate patterns in such a way that storm systems may not hit California and the west coast, and the region could dry out even further. Experts are saying that this drought will continue through most of the year, which means residents could face even more negative health impacts.

John Olen of is asking the question, “When Will Americans Start Taking the Threat of Toxic Imported Food Seriously?” Olen points out that there have been numerous times that tainted food from China has entered the US food supply. Patty Lovera, the Assistant Director of Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, testified in early February, “Just last week, news reports described a Chinese government campaign to break up a fake meat operation, leading to arrests of more than 900 people accused of passing off more than $1 million of rat meat as mutton.” A few years back the deadly manufactured toxin melamine was added to pet food, killing several hundred dogs. And last year, there were more another round of reported pet deaths from tainted food sent over from China. Olen points out that our legislators do not appear willing to deal with this problem. It’s time for the FDA to step up. We need more food inspectors to keep our families and our pets safe from tainted Chinese food.

Do you have prescriptions that you take daily? Over-the-counter and prescription drugs from India are a big concern right now. Because of growing concern about our prescriptions, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg of the FDA went to India to investigate the safety of medicines arriving here. Apparently some of our medication is completely fake, and others have not passed important quality tests. Considering that India’s pharmaceutical industry supplies 40 percent of over-the-counter and generic prescription drugs consumed in the United States, this is of no small concern to Americans. Lately, there has been more scrutiny and new penalties for drug makers, but is enough being done to protect us? Do we really want out medications and prescriptions outsourced beyond the US borders – and beyond US regulations?

According to, there are major issues at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Energy Department officials continue to claim that the leak poses no threat to human health, but some scientists disagree. Russell Hardy, the director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, said that the levels of americium and plutonium were the highest ever recorded at that site. Dan Hancock, the director of the Nuclear Waste Safety Program in Albuquerque, posed the questions, “Does anybody really know what happened in the underground [site] and how much [radiation] was released or is continuing to be released? And therefore, how much is being captured by the filters and how much is getting into the environment?” In addition, one of RadCast’s contributors reported levels spiking to 108 counts per minute yesterday, despite being 200 miles down-wind of that plant. It appears this leak may be more serious than officials are letting on, and RadCast will continue monitoring this situation closely. You can find more information and all the latest updates on the Carlsbad leak at

And finally… There may be even more important health benefits behind those Munchies. It’s widely known that Marijuana use is medically proven to help with symptoms of glaucoma, chronic pain and cancer. But now, there’s some new evidence to suggest that cannibas may also protect critical immune tissue damaged by HIV. Scientists from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center have discovered that “chronic intake of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can protect critical immune tissue in the gut from the damaging effects of HIV infection.” According to the researchers, gut-associated lymphoid tissue is an important target for HIV. The presence of cannabinoid receptors showed potential for changing the gastrointestinal responses to infection, which could prove to be a defense from HIV. These promising results could provide insight for further studies that focus on the positive effects of medicinal marijuana, especially for cases of HIV.

I’m Thom Hartmann, and that’s your Science & Green News for the week of February 24, 2014.

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