Dr. Huber's letter to the USDA that was leaked was not meant for us to see. We knew he wrote them because we talked to him- and shortly after read it online. We assumed he'd leaked it himself. So did everyone else. But that's not the case. It could have been someone at the USDA for all we know.
We had been talking to the papers about the Supreme Court GM alfalfa decision because our local paper said they just took last year's court decision from 6-21-10 straight from the NYT and LA Times. Now that its clear that the harm that would be done to Organics and all traditional grass- not to mention other grass crops including possibly wheat, we had to make them understand. Last year was not a victory for biotech- it never should have been reported as such (read our summary from 6-21-10 in the archives to the right).
It was during those conversations that we found out Dr. Huber was brought a pathogen by scientists too scared of the career backlash by their university to bring it themselves to the USDA. Dr. Huber was a veteran and already a consultant in the government on pathogens and germ warfare. He was also 78 and his friend who we knew in Iowa- the many-times-referenced-here farmer/scientist- said he was fearless at this point in his career and he'd make them listen or go around them. He'd been asking them multiple times to investigate and when they were going to release the alfalfa without any acknowledgment of his prior correspondence, he had it taken to them by hand.
After they released the GM alfalfa anyway, they acknowledged Dr. Huber and then his letter was leaked and went viral online. We found out from our reporter friend who interviewed him that he was mortified.
We were also already in contact with the Union of Concerned Scientists about the pathogen before the leak hoping they would call him and investigate- and got permission to exchange numbers with Dr. Huber's assistant and one of their senior staff scientists. When the letter leaked there, we told her that it wasn't Dr. Huber. She was still upset his letter was so alarmist, and thought he should have seen the leak coming. She was going to talk to APHIS right away and I begged her to hold on until she talked to Dr. Huber.
She was missing two pieces of the puzzle besides the fact he didn't leak the letter himself. 1. Dr. Huber needed their response now- not after they released the alfalfa and he'd already done as much as he could to get their attention. In the end, it was his letter that probably kicked them into high gear, although they had started to work with him just before that.I told her what I knew second-hand of the danger- and that there was one piece I'm not privy to that was much more serious- the kind of thing you'd keep a tight lid on, and they were. 2. They had been blocked at every door. This woman thought it looked irresponsible- the kind of thing a scientist does when he's desperate for fame and his data may or may not hold up. In the community, going to the press before peer review and publishing is a big no-no. But they were blocked from this protocol.
To understand the extent of the blocks, see our previous updates on Emily Waltz' reporting, and look at the abstract from Scientific American 2009 for the opinion article "A Seedy Practice." (We can arrange to show individuals this article as a loan within the terms of using the subscription to the database, but we can't publish it here and for some reason can't link to the abstract.)
The scientists at universities were reprimanded- some losing their research positions. Those that weren't were not going to come forward any more. The test samples they sent out were blocked- forbidden to be tested by a university under similar threat. Dr. Huber had to take the samples elsewhere. He tried his own university- they said no. The reasons given by both were that they get money from biotech although they won't admit that publicly. They said it. Lots of universities do. Scientists have been threatened and blocked and fired. How many universities does biotech give money to? How many f those universities are silencing scientists and interfering with research? The non-GMO report interviewed one scientist that published a "career destroying" paper (in the words of the "joking" scientist) Which you can read in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2 by Don Lotter in the International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food (IJSAF). This is what happened to Dr. Huber and the scientists he represents.
He told us that the USDA was working hard on it- and you can read below about that. But three weeks have passed since we were told something was going to be made public by USDA so scientists elsewhere could get to work on it and do the kind of broad crop, livestock and human tests that need to be done. Dr. Huber has always told everyone that if they don't deliver, there are numerous scientists determined to go around them who the USDA don't even know about. He's playing hard ball. This pathogen must and, thanks to this large group of scientists, will be investigated.
We were actually referred to a scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists personally by a Scientist that gets money from the USDA and a pretty free reign to research by Monsanto - who although don't always like what he publishes, is himself not concerned by Roundup or GMOs like he used to be. Its been 14 years that they've been used heavily, so his view is that it is fine. I showed him the letter by Dr. Huber that was leaked a month after I'd already tried to tell him about it (I say tried because I was panicked and it was jibberish, although in the end I calmed down enough to stop being a pest and start having a conversation). He said the letter was very interesting and wanted his anti-GMO colleague who was thorough and professional and very intelligent to look it over. If she says its something- its something.
That is where we were left- as far as we knew, the UCS was in the loop with APHIS, a major reporter was on the story- a person we know to be very responsible and still serves the public like the independent press we once knew long ago, and meanwhile Dr. Huber's assistant told us things had gone quiet and that will change in a week (two weeks ago).
Next thing we know, Bev of GMO-Free Tampa Bay (amazing facebook page for news) sends us this link above in the La Vida Locavore website, that shows Dr. Huber is still giving lectures and releasing more information than ever before with success- and no mention of the USDA doing anything to further the study. Are they? Or does Dr. Huber have to do it all himself? The extent of the interference by the universities who get biotech hush money and the negligence of the USDA which has been called a lobbyist with a cabinet seat and is starting to finally go under the microscope, is going to move from magazines like Scientific American to the most widely read newspapers in the country and from there, into every American home and around the world. Both have very little time to shape up before they turn a corner - a corner that has a pit on the other side. Monsanto's reaction to Dr. Huber: slam campaigns in farm trade magazines they control with advertising funding. Universities reaction: slam campaigns on their website and more intimidation and coercion. USDA's reaction: seeming to work on it and dragging their feet on the biggest threat we may have faced as a nation.
If this pathogen (found in humans and tied to miscarriage) that is transferred up the food chain from feed to animals to people (and creates miscarriage in livestock that breeds our next generation of food) is allowed to run rampant while we introduce a huge at-risk crop (GM alfalfa) it will possibly destroy our food. We depend on these GMO Roundup Ready (TM) crops. They are in 80% of our food and feed most of our livestock and a good portion of fish and other seafood sources, make up 1/3 of our farm lands, a vast majority of our soy and corn and have edged out alternative food sources. Not only would we enter into a famine with no alternate food system even started on a scale to feed the nation years later, but the public will go absolutely insane when they uncover the reasons this happened all at once- unlike we who have seen it as it has gotten worse. Who will be blamed? The whole US government. For life-threatening disease that ends human fertility, for famine, and for the tanking of our economy- which begins with embargoes and zero-market, and moves to the depression economy. This is a FEMA and military scenario. Meanwhile, as America goes down in flames, and takes out other Western countries with it, no one will be working on the pathogen to stop it- and no one will be stopping the GMO takeover that has been increasing its rate in the last few years like the exponential curve found in nature. I told Dr. Huber we were working hard on a solution (which we've been tight lipped about so far- but it has to do with alternate crops financial incentive business) because we're worried. He said we were right to be worried.
He had to weigh the risk of speaking openly to groups of people and reporters with doing nothing and letting this scenario happen. He's not going to allow this scenario if he can help it. None of us should. One thing we have a duty to do is make sure we have food. There are some unconstitutional things that happen in some states when you try to do that- gardening or buying clubs or farm-direct shares distribution... but you can start now by experimenting with foods that keep and are easy and nutritious like barley or bulgar wheat if you can tolerate it- and many other sources. The reason this is advised is because the country needs some healthy and fed people if we're faced with a crisis. This is no different than earthquake preparedness- and its everyone's duty that can afford it. Those that call that alarmist maybe haven't realized that 80% of our food, 1/3 of our crop land, all depend on nothing going wrong with a system that is unstable. We have all our eggs in one basket and should be hearing the tic-tic-tic. Blights happen- and it will just take one to do a lot of the bad things we described above to our country- and if it happens to be this pathogen and its as bad as it appears, bad things to the human race.
Thank you Dr. Huber. Thanks for giving public scientists and USDA scientists what they need and making them hear you with every ounce of energy you have. You took a lot of heat and although its uncomfortable, nothing is going to stop you. You have all of our support- a huge community of people that care very deeply that the situation is dealt with. If your colleagues' discovery turns out to be a lesser threat to us, we are very happy. What this is at the very least is a last-minute wake up call.
I'm still personally concerned with Horizontal Gene Transfer as I've always been. I'm waiting to see if GMOs caused this pathogen and are capable in creating one after another like I think they will. But overuse of Roundup is a documented threat that causes 40 plant diseases you have shown in several papers beyond any doubt. Its not just a pathogen- its a pathogen formula we have put in place in identical conditions, with identical seeds and chemicals absolutely everywhere.
And the USDA fully deregulated GM alfalfa in the midst of this which is the worst GMO of the bunch because of the way it spreads. The grass has not yet gone to seed that was planted. The biggest and most uncontrolled contamination has yet to happen- but USDA, you're running out of time. You had better seriously be considering ordering the plants pulled before that. We are in court- represented by the Center for Food Safety (if you haven't donated yet, please consider doing so now). Lets pray they win or you government folks do what you have to do without a court order - especially since you're in the habit of defying court orders and green-lighting illegal plantings making us sue you again. By the way, Congress should be taking care of that- not us. If you break a court order, a.k.a. law, its not our job to sue to make you obey. Its Congress' job to reprimand and force you- or replace you with an agency that does its job and obeys the law. You actually might be guilty of using this tactic- do whatever you want, break the law and get the crops grandfathered in so we are forced to let biotech control our food even more. Since you're standing with Monsanto side by side in court, we're starting to consider you one and the same. You really want to separate yourselves from this joint status now while you can. Our nation's USDA and FDA agencies are known by other countries to be a joke and its starting to be known by the public. After it is, Congress will take action- and this threat of pathogens will definitely do it. Did you read that its going to be in all the papers? I call it Ag-gate 2011. That's your future. Wake up. And Monsanto, you could stop selling the seed at any minute. Farmers, you can take your seed back as long as it hasn't been planted. You all had better do what you need to do right now. Putting all our lives at risk and tearing down our economy and security will not be tolerated and all of you I just named will be the first casualty.
We don't want any of you to go out like that. We want you to straighten up now while you can prevent all of this! We want our farmers protected because they feed us and they deserve our nation's support- not to allowed to go under because of unstable dangerous crops. We don't want Monsanto to go up in flames and tear out our economy and leave our food supply high and dry. We don't want Ag-gate 2011 destroying FDA and USDA while the public is incensed. We want you all to get out of this in tact and to change your ways and help us with this disaster before it happens. Some colleagues of Dr. Huber say its already too late- the avalanche is already proceeding. But it does no good to think that way so we're just going to go on with the rescue with faith that its not futile. You're turning the public against you.
You have a small window of time- the time before the alfalfa goes to seed (which is very soon) to look this straight in the face, deal with the problem by admitting grievous error and get us all behind you when you work in earnest to save us from this terrible scenario we are going to face from one blight or another very soon. Here's a tip: nature, biology, works in exponential curves. Smell the inflection points. We're passing them. Things that appeared to move slow and steady- the increased pathogens, the increased toxicity inside the plants we eat, the increased gene flow- your confidence in thinking you have time because it was somewhat slow is cocky, foolish and uneducated. There are a lot of smart people that aren't getting a voice in the FDA and USDA- and often get fired for telling you this is trouble. Move over and let them lead now if you want to save your own skin. Do you understand that some of you may be facing prison time? This isn't a joke.
I know you don't want to pull the alfalfa and pay the farmers or to tell Monsanto what to do instead of letting them have whatever they want like they're used to, or expose yourself to public scrutiny by admitting a decade of negligence and bad behavior, and I know you don't want to let the public know about this pathogen in the process of getting the world working on the problem in time to save us.... but that is exactly what you have to do. Anything less will not be tolerated, and that window is not years, or months- but weeks. Everyone that works for the FDA, USDA and even Monsanto, and Farmers and scientists that witnessed government or corporation or university illegal actions must right now write to Congress. Write everyone in Congress you can. Fax, email, call, send letters. Blow the whistle. The old boys club is about to be forced to retire.