Inspiring Ideas

2014 Reflections and the Need to Refinance Food for 2015
Thursday, December 18, 2014

You can't help but reflect as the year winds down, even amidst the craziness of the holidays. 

And this one has been a big one.  

With campaigns to label GMOs running in Colorado and Oregon and growing consumer awareness about these hidden ingredients in our food, Monsanto launched a PR campaign.

In the world of finance, there is a term "capture the regulator."  With the new PR campaign, Monsanto captured the media.  From Oprah to the Supermarket Guru, their logo was everywhere, happily spinning a story to consumers while keeping us in the dark about their business model which is the sale of agricultural chemicals and seeds designed to withstand them.

Needless to say, consumers want these genetically engineered products and the pesticides they carry labeled.  By some estimates, you will hear that it's upward of 90% of Americans that want these products labeled.  If 90% of Americans even knew what GMOs are, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  They'd be out of our food system.  More realistic estimates put the number around 40-50%. 

A food awakening is happening, driven largely by the escalating rates of food allergies, cancer, diabetes and the other chronic conditions and diseases impacting the people that we love.

Many are part of it.  This fall, I had the opportunity to debate lobbyists representing Monsanto and the biotech industry - industry spokesmen.  They claimed that these products are safe, in light of the fact that no long term human health studies exist, no pediatric cancer research, autism research or long-term synergistic toxicity studies to show for it. 

We are that study.  It's brutal to hear, especially as we lose loved ones to food allergic reactions and cancer.

This year, a lot of friends lost loved ones. 

As I reflect back on 2014, a year that started working with two families on food stamps, that included presentations at Bloomberg, Target, some of the world's most powerful food companies and others, films like Fed Up, Food Chains, Food Patriots and others, while watching a friend lose his mom to cancer, too many moms lose their children to food allergic reactions, this I know:

Love is more powerful than fear.  The truth is irrefutable.  It stands strong in the face of industry-funded spokespeople, and as a growing number of us opt out of genetically engineered foods, artificial junk and other non-food ingredients that have been pumped into our daily meals, the food industry is taking notice. 

Monsanto and the biotech industry will tell us that these crops are needed to feed the world, while the USDA and United Nations highlight record food waste.  What if productivity isn't the problem?  What if it's a distribution model?  

Monsanto and the biotech industry will also tell us that these crops have reduced the use of agricultural chemicals being applied to farms.  Their earnings reports tells us the exact opposite: a 23.3% increase in the sales of these chemicals. 


We need smart technology to address the changing landscape of food for our families.  We need to iterate on designs, innovate and create solutions, solutions that are safe for 21st century families dealing with cancer, autism, food allergies and so much more. 

The truth will prevail with the courageous voices of those willing to speak it, both inside the food industry and beyond. 

To protect the health of our families and our children is one of the most patriotic things that we could do.  It is also one of the most important economically, as our health care costs continue to impact us at home, at work and in our economy. 

It can be intimidating to speak out on an issue that can be so loaded, but there is nothing more patriotic that we could be doing. 

Our country was founded by pioneers who believed in a better future for their families.  As we tap into that spirit in 2015, here is to building a food system that works for 21st century families, refinancing and restructuring our existing one, so that a clean and safe food system that is affordable and accessible to all.

#dumpthejunk #realfoodsells 

The $25 Billion Cost of Food Allergies
Thursday, December 18, 2014

A recent New York Times story profiles a lawmaker who "discounted the correlations between the rise in childhood allergies and the consumption of G.M.O.s."

Researchers reporting in the journal Journal of the American Medical Association state that the costs of food allergies, from medical care to food to pharmaceuticals is $4,184 per child per year, costing our economy $25 billion, including lost productivity.

To discount this condition in any way is irresponsible, but it is just one of the conditions that is triggering a food awakening around the country.

In the United States, we are quickly learning that our food supply contains a lot of ingredients that simply did not exist when we were kids, and that our own American corporations don't use these ingredients in the products they sell overseas.

From artificial food dyes created in a laboratory to genetically engineered foods now regulated by the EPA as pesticides, we are finding our food supply increasingly hopped up on new ingredients.  And if the market is any indication, a growing number of consumers don't want it this way.

In the last few months, Target, Chipotle, Kroger, even General Mills and Cheerios have responded to this growing demand in the marketplace.  They see the escalating rates of diseases, they feel the financial impact with their own health care costs, and they hear consumers that are saying they want to eat fewer fake, artificial and genetically engineered ingredients.  While the chemical companies selling these new ingredients say there is no evidence of harm, consumers are saying: there is no evidence since these ingredients were never labeled in the United States.  There are also no long term studies to show us that they are safe.

The potential of genetically engineered foods to cause allergic reactions is a big reason for opposition to these crops.  It is also one of the concerns that led 64 countries around the world to label these foods for their citizens while 27 countries banned them entirely.

Introduced into the US food supply in the mid 1990s without labels, there were protocols put in place to ask questions about the allergy-causing possibilities, but there has been no test that offers definitive answers.

In other words, if you walked into an allergist's office and asked if you were allergic to corn that has been in the food supply for thousands of years or if you are allergic to a new corn product, genetically engineered to produce its own insecticide and introduced into our food and now regulated by the EPA as a pesticide, there would be no test to give you that answer.

With no labels on these ingredients in the US to trace their impact and no test to offer definitive answers, the biotech industry is able to claim that there is not a single documented case of these foods ever causing harm.  Don't ask, don't tell.

But with the widespread introduction of genetically engineered ingredients into the US food supply, a frequently asked question is: Are rates of allergies higher in the United States than they are in other countries?

Previously, it was anyone’s guess.

But a study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says yes, living in the United States increases your risk of allergic diseases……“significantly.”

"Living in the US raises risk of allergies," says the headline.

According to the research, living in the United States for a decade or more may raise the risk of some allergies, reports the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"These data indicate that duration of residence in the United States is a previously unrecognized factor in the epidemiology of atopic disease," it said.

In other words, the longer you live here, the more likely you are to develop some kind of allergy, asthma, eczema or other related condition.

Food allergies have been skyrocketing in the United States in the last fifteen years.  Not only has the CDC reported a 265% increase in the rates of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions in a ten year period, but the sales of EpiPens, a life-saving medical device for those with food allergies, has also seen record sales growth according to the New York Times.

So what’s going on?

The study aimed to find out.  Allergies reported in the survey included asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies.

"Children born outside the United States had significantly lower prevalence of any allergic diseases (20.3%) than those born in the United States (34.5%)," said the study led by Jonathan Silverberg of St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

Let’s restate that:

Children born in the US have more than a 1 in 3 chance of having allergic diseases like food allergies, asthma or eczema, while kids born in other countries around the world had a “significantly lower prevalence” of 1 in 5.

On top of that, “foreign-born Americans develop increased risk for allergic disease with prolonged residence in the United States," it said.

In other words, if you move here, your chances of developing any one or more of these allergic diseases increase.

The study went so far as to say that children born outside of the US who moved here showed “significantly” higher odds of developing these diseases.

What’s driving this?  Is it really Purel and intense handwashing? And the hygiene hypothesis?

And are we allergic to food?  Or what’s been done to it?

Because genetics don’t change that quickly, and the environment does.

"These data indicate that duration of residence in the United States is a previously unrecognized factor in the epidemiology of atopic disease," it said.

This presents a risk not only to these children, but also to our economy, as the financial burden of these conditions and their associated health care costs impact not only families but also our country, our military and our productivity.

So what is triggering this escalating, US allergy epidemic?

According to Reuters report on the study and Dr. Ruchi Gupta, who studies allergies at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago but wasn't involved in the new research, "This is definitely something we see clinically and we're trying to better understand, what is it in our environment that's increasing the risk of allergic disease?" said

"Food allergies have increased tremendously," she told Reuters Health. "We do see people who come from other countries don't tend to have it.”

As discussed in a previous column, allergic reactions occur you’re your body perceives something to be a threat.  They can also be a symptom of a hypersensitive immune system - our bodies armed and ready to launch an attack againstany perceived threat.

A growing number of doctors are also suggesting that food allergies might be a symptom that something is wrong with our food system.  In other words, in light of the sudden explosion in food allergies: are we suddenly allergic to food?  Or what’s been done to it?

Someone with food allergies has an immune system that perceives a food protein to be “foreign”, unidentifiable.   And it launches an inflammatory response to drive out that foreign invader.

Today, we have new, foreign proteins that have never existed in our food supply that have been genetically engineered into our food. These proteins are so new that they have been patented by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and never before existed up until their introduction in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Now correlation is not causation, but the concern over the unknown health impacts of these new proteins in the food supply is in part what led 64 countries around the world to label genetically engineered foods when they were first introduced fifteen years ago and 27 countries to flat out ban them.

According to Science Daily:

Genetically engineered crops are created by inserting a protein from a different organism into the original crop's genome. This is usually done to create a plant that is more resistant to insects or diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organization within the World Health Organization has a structured approach to determining whether genetically engineered foods cause allergies, according to Venu Gangur, MSU assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, who also is a faculty member in the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center. "But it has a major flaw. A critical question in that process asks, 'Does the protein cause an allergic reaction in animals?' The problem is that there has been no good animal model available to test this."

It’s food for thought.

We don’t have labels on these genetically engineered foods in the US, at least not yet.  Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced, and efforts have been made to urge the FDA to take action so that American consumers can enjoy the same freedoms enjoyed by consumers in over 60 countries around the world (including all of the member states of the European Union, Australia, Japan, the UK, Russia, China and India) and have access to whether or not their food and the foods they are feeding their families contain these genetically engineered ingredients.

Do we really want out slogan to be: Come to America, but don’t forget your  asthma enhalers and EpiPens?  We could quickly earn the title of the United States of Allergic Disease.

We are so much more than that.

Since genetically engineered ingredients are not yet labeled here in the United States.  look for “Non-GMO” or “USDA Organic” foods which by law are not allowed to be produced with these new proteins.

These ingredients need to be labled.  European law dictates that any food containing more than 0.9% genetically engineered ingredients be labeled as containing GMOs.  It's a freedom to choose. Clean food is a right that should be afforded to all Americans, not just those who can afford to opt out and purchase foods labeled “non-GMO” or “USDA Organic”.

With mounting scientific evidence pointing to the role that our increasingly re-engineered food supply, hopped up on additives, artificial dyes, artificial growth hormones, record amounts of pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients hardwired to be routinely doused with them, is having on the health of our families, it’s time to clean up our food.

Follow Robyn on Twitter @unhealthytruth and on Facebook.  She is a former financial analyst and author.

How Kids Are Driving the Mainstreaming of Organics
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

If you want to start a mommy war, start calling names.  That happened recently when an article ran titled "The Tyranny of the Organic Mommy Mafia."

It was sensational and missed a fundamental change:

The landscape of childhood has changed. No longer are our children guaranteed a childhood free from diabetes, obesity or food allergies, and parents are standing on the front line.

The escalating rates of childhood cancers, increasing diagnoses for conditions like autism and food allergies, and the rates of obesity and diabetes have earned this generation of children the title of "Generation Rx". They are the first generation of kids expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15. The journal Pediatrics has reported that 15% of American girls are expected to begin puberty by the age of 7 (with the number closer to 25% for African American girls) and a growing number of American children struggle with obesity. On top of that, the rate for having food allergies is 59% higher for obese children, with the Centers for Disease Control reporting a 265% increase in hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions. And while not all of those hospitalizations are for our children, what is becoming increasingly obvious is that the health of our children is under siege.

U.S.-born children have a 34.5 percent chance of developing asthma, hay fever, eczema and food allergies, compared with just 20.3 percent of foreign-born children. In addition, children born outside the U.S. but then moved here were more likely to develop allergies the longer they lived in the country.

When I shared this data with a journalist, she was speechless, and I found myself again wondering: What have our children possibly done to deserve this? And more importantly, what can we do to protect them?

This changing landscape of childhood is changing the face of American families and our economy. We already spend almost 18 cents of every dollar on health care, managing disease. The pharmaceutical companies can't keep up with demand, and now there are shortages for drugs used to treat cancers and ADHD.

But more often than not, the solution is not found in the medicine cabinet, but in the kitchen, and parents are doing everything they can to protect the health of their children.

Writers that are fortunate enough to not be dealing with conditions like autism, food allergies and pediatric cancer have begun to refer to these parents as the "tyranny of the organic mommy mafia." Tyranny is a strong word.  Merriam Webster defines it as "cruel and unfair treatment by people with power over others."

Parents that do unexpectedly find themselves on unfamiliar territory are doing everything they can to protect the health of their children.    There are others who are fortunate to not know what it feels like to watch your son have a blood disease that literally renders him unable to walk or to have a child suddenly stop talking or to have something as simple as a sandwich be so life threatening.  No parent would choose to have these things happen to their child. No parent would choose autism.  No parent would choose food allergies and the burden it places on a family every day.

But too many of us now find ourselves staring down these conditions. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 children in the U.S., autism affects 1 in 68, asthma 1 in 10 children, and cancer is impacting 41% of Americans. The conditions themselves can at times feel cruel and tyrannical.

And as scientific evidence continues to mount, courageously presented by doctors like Mark Hyman, MD, in his groundbreaking book, The Blood Sugar Solution, and pediatric specialists like Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Alan Greene, about the role that diet and nutrition plays in the health of our children, parents are beginning to take notice.  Doctors are taking notice, too. M.D. Anderson researchers have even gone so far as to name it, "the doorknob syndrome."  When patients are standing in their offices, having been diagnosed with cancer and given the details about what lies ahead, as they turn to leave the office, with their hand on the doorknob, will turn back in towards the doctor and ask, "Is there anything that I can be doing differently with what I eat?"

The President's Cancer Panel, formed under the Bush administration and releasing its report under the Obama administration, says yes.  The report, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, encourages Americans to reduce exposure to certain ingredients now being used in and on our food supply and to eat organic when you can, especially if you have children.

And as we introduce new foods that are nutrient-dense ( full of vitamins and minerals) and try to reduce our loved ones' exposure to the foods that are nutrient-void (packing mostly artificial ingredients that have been synthetically engineered in laboratories), we are realizing that we have the power to affect remarkable change in the health of our children and families, so that together, we can stem this tide of children flowing into pediatric hospitals being built across the country.

Diet is a lot like religion, it is not one size fits all.  And learning that our food contains ingredients for which no long term human health studies have been conducted can cause heartache, a heartache deeply felt by a mother of a child with autism or allergies, as these conditions can so dominate the life of a family, impact its freedom and flexibility.

To then learn that other  countries have not allowed these new ingredients, introduced into our food supply in the last ten to twenty years, because of this lack of evidence of safety can then trigger more than just an adjustment in what you put into your shopping cart, it can change how you view our system.

It takes tremendous courage and strength to show up every day when you have a child with autism, allergies or cancer.  It is not something anyone would wish for.  It is something that writers, fortunate enough to not experience these conditions, could not possibly understand.  It is far easier to shoot the messenger.

How do I know?  Because I did the same until the epidemics were too close and too destabilizing to dismiss.

If our current spending on health care and disease management is a leading economic indicator, then exercising precaution, the way we do when we buckle our children into a car seat or strap a helmet on their heads, is one of the most conservative things that we could be doing.

From Kroger to Wal Mart, companies are recognizing this shift in consumer demand and responding to this food awakening.  They are expanding their offerings so that moms in all socioeconomic categories have access to organic food at an affordable price.  They recognize that moms are not trying to create problems, they are simply looking for solutions, standing in the grocery store aisles, holding onto the hand of a child with allergies or autism or diabetes, knowing that they represent the future of our country - our future soldiers, entrepreneurs, educators and innovators.

If you think about it, there is nothing more conservative or patriotic that we could be doing.

Follow Robyn on Twitter @foodawakenings and on Facebook.  She is a former financial analyst and author.



What You Can Do to Address the "Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act"
Monday, December 08, 2014

This week, there will be a hearing of the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” (H.R. 4432).  Introduced by Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas, the bill would block any federal or state action to require labeling of foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

As Monsanto distances itself from GMOs, it would not only tie the hands of the USDA and the FDA to compel companies to disclose these ingredients, it would also tie the hands of state governments and preempt state law.

“From our Nation's founding, the American constitutional order has been a Federal system, ensuring a strong role for both the national Government and the States.The Federal Government's role in promoting the general welfare and guarding individual liberties is critical, but State law and national law often operate concurrently to provide independent safeguards for the public. Throughout our history, State and local governments have frequently protected health, safety, and the environment more aggressively than has the national Government.”

Back in 2009, Obama’s White House issued this memo on the dangers of preempting state law, as it relates to state laws and our health http://wh.gov/lC5J

Why should we label GMOs?

There is no post-market surveillance to study whether or not these ingredients are triggering allergic reactions.

There is no mandatory pre-market safety testing of these ingredients before they are introduced into our food supply.

This bill allows genetically engineered ingredients to be included in products labeled “natural” undermining food companies and consumers’ trust in that growing industry

Compounds consumer confusion in a day and age where life-threatening food allergies are on the rise.  Four lives have been lost in the last month alone.

 Sixty percent of the world's population have been afforded the fundamental human right to know about the ingredients in their food.  Consumers in 64 countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, have the right to know if their food contains GMOs, to conduct post-market surveillance in the absence of any mandatory pre-market safety testing. American families should be afforded the same right. 

The American Medical Association has called for mandatory pre-market safety testing of GMOs.  Current testing is voluntary. 

More than 30 states have introduced or worked on laws to require mandatory labeling of GMOs. 

Connecticut, Maine and Vermont have passed mandatory GMO labeling laws.

As Justice Brandeis explained more than 70 years ago, "[i]t is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

This bill risks a lot. 

Under H.R. 4432, we would lose our fundamental human rights to not only choose the foods that we are feeding our families, but the freedom to enact state laws to protect them.

You can learn more about the bill:

You can learn more about the Supremacy Clause and the doctrine of preemption:

You can comment online:
Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption


Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food

You can click here to learn how to contact your local representative ahead of this week's hearing on Wednesday, December 10th.  Please feel free to use and/or edit the commentary here for your correspondence.  

Thoughts on Justice
Thursday, December 04, 2014

This morning, I woke up to a country that is hard to recognize.  I do not know when we completely lost sight of justice.  When we let it go. 

Social justice, racial justice, sexual justice, food justice. It's not 'for all' anymore.

I have seen it for some time in my work, this work to provide clean and safe food for all families.  It should not be a function of zip code, but more often than not, it is.

Justice for all. 

We learned the words, to not judge men by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, but lost the action. 

And in this world that is all too digitally enhanced, altered and genetically engineered, we have completely lost sight of what is true.  And justice is slipping through our fingers. 

Our founding fathers built this country on the principle that there should be liberty and justice for all.  Some still had slaves at the time, the hypocrisy can not go untouched, but the adage is that once we know better, we do better. 

So why are things getting worse?

In a televised debate earlier this year, my opponent said that those who want clean food can get it if they can afford organic.  In other words: If you can't afford it, tough luck.  It made my entire body shake, and I felt sick.

How there could be such blatant disregard for human life, for liberty?  I do not know.  I have worked with moms on food stamps, single parents supporting asthmatic, allergic little boys.  The color of the skin doesn't matter.  Our hearts all beat the same way for the love of our children. 

What can we do?  How can we heal this, so that our children will live in a just and peaceful society? 

It's a loaded question.  And I am sure that there will be many answers, but for me, for now, I will continue to work so that all children, regardless of race or income or socioeconomic status, will have access to both life-saving medical devices for allergies and asthma and life-saving food.

But it feels too narrow, so this is what I pledge:

To love without hesitation.

To shine light on the good that is happening.

To inspire hope.

To live with kindness.  

To be a mirror so that others can see the gifts they have to offer.

To love so much that it pushes away this darkness.  

I hope that you will join me. 

4 Fears and How to Conquer Them
Tuesday, December 02, 2014

I unplugged over Thanksgiving for the first time since I began this work nine years ago

I suppose I could have done it before, but I was afraid. 

There is an energy in the work.  It propels you every day.  What would happen if I stopped?  What would I feel?

The first four days, I felt nothing.  I was tired.  I hadn’t had time to stop and really process any of it, how someone wired for the financial world had become this.

Just prior to the break, a man that I had worked for on the equity desk died.  It triggered a flood of emotions.  He was the Chief Equity Officer when I worked as a financial analyst on a team that managed billions in both hedge and mutual funds.  He was a father, for sure, doting and caring for all of us as a dad would, but he was also a gamesman, a sharp shooter, angling in with precision.  We worked hard, and we played hard.  It was an amazing time to be in the financial world.  Tech companies were taking off, it was a tsunami of IPOs as too many of them came public.  It was exciting, rewarding, and the guys that I worked with are still friends today. 

Being an analyst was black and white.  We crunched numbers and analyzed data.  There was no heart in it.  No emotion.  My intuition helped me read management teams, but that is about as sentimental as it got.   I had designed my academic career for it, my life. I loved it. 

In that moment, it suddenly contrasted with what my life had become.

The last five years have been a chapter that began with the publication of my book.  Naively, I thought at the time, the book would do the trick and I could go back to the life I’d planned.  “There it is,” I’d thought.  “The research, the data, the work.  It’s bound, backed up and defined for anyone who wants it.  Now I am going to go back to what I’d planned to do…work in the investment world.”

But that didn’t happen.  About 6 months after the launch of the book, a period in which I experienced both more love and more vitriol than we could have ever imagined, we felt the impact.  It was life-changing.  We were not wanted by the chemical industry.  At the same time, we were embraced by so many.  Everything was changing and changing fast, and my instinct was to run away.  It was scary to be responsible for so much.  It was even scarier to feel it.     

So we made plans to do that.  The house sold in three days.  And one day, I was standing outside under a tree and looked ahead to what my life would be if I ran away.  And I turned and went inside to my family and said, “I can’t go.  I have to do this.  I don’t know what will happen, how it will unfold, but if I run….”  What I wanted to say, but the children were too little to hear it, was that it would do something to my soul.  It would die on the inside.

It was  not easy.  Not for anyone that I loved.  The decision was huge. 

Looking back on that now, I realized that what I was running from was fear.  Fear of the unknown, fear of criticism, fear of what might happen.  I could not see what it could become.  There were so few people involved at that point.  But that day, my heart beat louder than the fear that was running through my head, and we stayed. 

I needed a bigger team and decided to use the platform I had to lift up others.  I could not build a movement without a team, and as others began to step forward, I shared their work.  The team grew and so did the movement.

There have been people in this work that have forever changed my life.  Some are academics, some brilliant business men, some funny, genius friends. They make me feel good when I see them. True friends are one of life's greatest blessings.  But perhaps one of the most pivotal is a friend who won the Ironman in Hawaii six times. He was the first inductee into the Ironman Hall of Fame. 

He was an ally in the early years, connecting me with my first academic who had studied agriculture and genetically engineered crops back in 2006.  But more than that, he was a coach.  He had defied odds, eating a plant-based diet while others ridiculed.  He was organic before anyone had a clue what it meant.  And he calculated his food intake with the precision of a mathematician and scientist.  Everything that he put in his body fueled his success.  Each nutrient, protein, fat, carb had a purpose.  It was fascinating to watch.

But what I really came to learn from him was that what you put in your head matters just as much as what you put in your mouth. 

I’ve watched him coach triathletes and recently came upon a piece that he wrote about fear.  As I read it, I thought about all of the fear and hurdles that had been in my head.  How close I had been to talking myself out of this work so many times.  Fear makes those obstacles seem real, insurmountable at times. What I had learned is that love makes them obsolete. 

So in the hopes of inspiring others the way that Dave Scott inspired me, here are his thoughts on fear.  I am tempted to edit it down, replacing the language that he uses about a race with language that applies to this work.  But this work is as tough as any race, so use the lessons, learn them, condition yourself to them as you would any muscle, and put fear in its place. 

The world needs your heart, your love and your courage.  And this is our race to win.

4 Fears (from the article "Mental Preparation: Facing Your Fears")

First off I’d like to talk about the four definable fears that we might all have. We might have one or multiple of these. The first one is the fear of the unknown. The second one is the fear of disappointment. The third is a fear of commitment. And the last one which we can lump together is the fear of failure or success.

1. Fear of the Unknown

The fear of unknown – the unknown part going into a race can be alleviated very, very easily if you do your homework. And what I mean by your homework is to know the race course in advance. Everything is online. You can look at it online, you can look at the course profile, you can get feedback from athletes over the last two, three or ten years depending on the history of the event so you can have a good understanding of that race, the nuances of the race, the hills, the windy sections, the real tough sections and you can ask other athletes they’re experiences. What’s even better is that when you arrive not only do you have this kind of mental road map but you also have the opportunity to actually drive the course or ride the course or pieces of that course, run the course and make sure that you’re doing all the segments of the swim. By doing this, you’ve taken out a huge amount of that unknown. It’s just like being on your home course. Races that I was able to repeat over the years certainly that made it easier. I knew the gearing, I knew there were windy sections in Kona when I was there for the Ironman race, and this allows you to relax, to be calm during the race and certainly to be calm beforehand.

The other thing that will really help is if you take that course and divide it up into segments (those segments may not be equidistant). In other words, on the bike – and I’ll come back to the Ironman in Kona – you would never divide 112 miles up into equal components but there are segments in the race and, for example, the first five miles on the bike has a lot of ups and downs and through the town and it‘s a very non-rhythmic part of the course. I’ve told all my athletes in preparation that rarely would anyone feel good on those sections but you have to control what you can control. So recognizing your plan that you’ve laid out and knowing the segments of the race, you can start breaking it down. Lastly, I’ve never thought of any race that I’ve done and backtracked in the miles. In other words when I raced Kona I didn’t say, “Gee, I’ve got two miles down on the bike, I’ve got a 110 to go.” That would be mental suicide. So again, breaking that course down into segments will really help as you go into the race.

2. Fear of Commitment

The second one is fear of commitment. With the fear of commitment, recognize the training plan that you’ve followed. I’ve never known an athlete who said “Oh I’ve followed my plan 100 percent, it’s been exactly right, I didn’t have any aberrations in there, never got a cold, never had a hamstring issue, or sore back.” We all have issues. There’s not an athlete alive who has not had to overcome obstacles to get where they are right now. When you look at your plan, go back and recognize what you have conquered in your plan. I use the word “conquered” because it’s really important when we look at how we’ve prepared for the race, everyone has these aberrations, everyone has the ups and downs, but we should see a trend where you’re improving and looking specifically at the last week to ten days of the great training days that you’ve had. In the second video I’ll give you an idea on how you can really extract the key elements on your commitment and your plan.

3. Fear of Disapproval

The third one is fear of disapproval and I think disapproval – disapproval of yourself, disapproval that your family is not going to be there for you – I think that’s a bunch of baloney. They’re always going to support you. They’ve supported you in your journey to get to where you are right now. We can be kind of crazy and manic about our training and preparation but they’re always there and they’re not going to let you down. And regardless of how you do they’re still going to be there. So don’t put the disappointment on yourself. I think if you look at the unknowns, you look at the commitment, the fear of disapproval should be erased.

4. Fear of Success or Failure

The last one is fear of success or fear of failure. I find about 70% of the athletes that I have dealt with from amateurs to pros have this real fine line. In other words, we have a short memory on what we’re trying to accomplish on a day-to-day basis. I might have a great ride or run on Sunday but four or five days later, I can be off my game and we think we’ve failed. I always remind them to think about what they have done and what they have accomplished. When we look at the fear of success or fear of failure, it’s important to recognize the stepping stones along the way and in the second video I’m going to suggest that you actually write down these little steps that you’ve recognized and take a look at the last few months. When you look at your training plan and you see these breakthrough days or breakthrough sessions. Part of it is the mental side that says “hey, you know what? I had a great day today.” And some of us share that with our partner or spouse or family and some of us are silent about it. And it really depends upon your wiring. You don’t have to be vociferous about always exclaiming you had the greatest training day in the world. I was quite quiet about it when I would train, but silently I used this as mental ammunition for the race. I recognized those little improvements that I had and was able to say “You know what? Dave, you had a great day today – you’re gonna be able to do this in the race.”


We are running the race of a lifetime.  Fear less, and love more.  It is our race to win.


Does Starbucks Still Want to be part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association?
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rumors are circulating that Starbucks teamed up with Monsanto to sue the state of Vermont over their law to label genetically engineered foods. 

Starbucks obviously felt the heat and issued a statement to the press and said: “Starbucks is not a part of any lawsuit pertaining to GMO labeling nor have we provided funding for any campaign.  And Starbucks is not aligned with Monsanto to stop food labeling or block Vermont State law."

Both companies aren’t named in the lawsuit, but they are both members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a lobbying group that filed the suit.  And the truth is that  Starbucks is part of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association is the voice of more than 300 large food, beverage and consumer product companies.  But as controversy like this grows for its members, will it become a relic of the 20th century?   

A question that it starting to pop up is: Is the Grocery Manufacturers Association still delivering value to its members?  Would members be better served by forming a new organization? What if a new group started?  Let’s just hypothetically call it the Food Production Association, and its mission was to meet the needs of companies in the 21st century?

A look back at the history of the Grocery Manufacturers Association suggests this might be a good idea.

Founded in 1908, the Grocery Manufacturers Association is a self-described, active, vocal advocate for its member companies and a trusted source of information about the industry and the products consumers rely on.

But do 21st century consumers actually turn to this organization today or is it a relic of the 20th century?  And is it an advocate for its members?

The organization’s website goes on to say:

“A vital role of GMA is to serve as a central resource for our members, providing industry model practices and a means for collaboration between members, retailers and service providers on important challenges and opportunities facing the industry."

The organization may have done that twenty years ago, but is it still doing that today?

The landscape of health has changed, and it is changing the landscape of food.  Today, the rates of diabetes is skyrocketing, 1 in 4 children has a chronic condition, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy, 1 in 10 has asthma and 1 in 68 has autism, with cancer now the leading cause of death by disease in American children.  The rates of these conditions are escalating, and parents are reading labels. 

Did any of us expect motherhood or fatherhood to look like this? Not at all.  No one would choose autism, life threatening food allergies or cancer.  No one.  But we find ourselves face to face with these conditions every day.  It is changing so many things in our lives, and it is changing how we approach the grocery store.

Some companies want to spend millions of dollars debating how we got here.  Parents don’t have time.  Their hands are tied managing these health conditions.  CNN/TIME reported that the additional costs of raising a child with food allergies is $4,200/year.  Consumers want transparency and denying them basic information about what is in the food we are feeding our loved ones is out of touch.

Over the last year, more than 60 state laws have been introduced to label genetically engineered ingredients in foods.  Consumers know about it, companies know about it.  Companies inside the Grocery Manufacturers Association are producing product lines without these ingredients, and those product lines are profitable pieces of their portfolio.  One look at the success of Kroger’s Simple Truth, “free-from” line demonstrates what a brand can do when it removes additives, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and more.

Consumers want "free-from" food.  It's not about debating the "how" or the "why" we got here.  It's about meeting her where she stands in the aisle of the grocery store, holding onto a child with diabetes or food allergies, or shopping for parent with cancer.

Everyone is recognizing the need for food free from artificial ingredients.  Panera Bread recently announced that they are pulling these ingredients from their products, Target's Simply Balanced has committed to removing genetically engineered ingredients by the end of 2014, and Kroger is seeing record earnings growth with its Simple Truth product line, free from artificial ingredients and genetically engineered ingredients.  The brand went from $0 to $1 billion in revenue in two years

So if companies that are dumping the junk are being rewarded by both consumers and the stock market, shareholders and stakeholders, what purpose does the Grocery Manufacturers Association serve by getting in the way of that?  Is that in the best interest of its members?

As the Association spends record amounts filing a lawsuit against the state of Vermont which has just taken a big step towards bringing transparency to its food system for its consumers, you have to wonder if this is money well spent for its members.  What if instead, these members decided to leave the organization and start another one, one that truly met their needs in the face of changing consumer demand and the changing health of American consumers.  Or what if some got aggressive and filed a "loss of business" lawsuit against it given the decline that companies like Kellogg’s are seeing in sales and the resulting employee layoffs as they entrench on the GMO labeling issue? 

21st century families want free-from food.  It isn't complicated, and shareholders and stakeholders are rewarding the companies that understand that and are delivering products that meet that need. 

They're not debating the science, they're not filing lawsuits, they are simply meeting us where we stand: in the aisles of the grocery store shopping for the 1 in 3 American children that now has allergies, asthma, ADHD or autism.  They are building a new food economy, becoming icons for the 21st century consumer, making the Grocery Manufacturers Association look like a relic of the 20th century.

The $2.1 trillion food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry employs 14 million U.S. workers.  As consumers opt out of food loaded with artificial ingredients, demand is growing.  From 2013-2018, demand for organic is expected to grow 14%, but in the United States, less than 1% of farmland is under organic farm management which means that we have to turn to countries like China and Romania for non-GMO or organic food.  We are literally outsourcing that entire economic opportunity.  It is not in the interest of our food companies, our families or our farmers.

If the Grocery Manufacturers Association was true to its mission it would meet the 21st century consumer where she stands, and it would be addressing this supply chain issue for its members.  But it’s not. 

As it stands, it is quickly becoming a relic of the 20th century, opening the door for another industry organization to form.

Can you imagine if Kroger, Target and other retailers joined together to form the Food Production Association whose mission was to build out a clean and safe food system and to secure the supply chain for 21st century families? Instead of channeling member dollars into lawsuits, it could grow the base of US farmland under organic management, so that we don't outsource this economic opportunity for our companies, farmers and country to our trading partners.

Cancer, autism, food allergies and other conditions we are seeing in the health of our loved ones are not “trends,” neither is the demand for transparency.  American consumers have a right to know whether the EPA regulates their corn as a pesticide or not.  Sixty percent of the world’s population has been given that right. 

Imagine an organization for the food industry that actually focused on securing a non GMO supply chain for American companies, rather than fight this shift in consumer demand and outsource this economic opportunity to China and Romania.  Here’s what a logo might look like. It's food for thought.




On the Eve of a Vote for a Fundamental Human Right
Monday, November 03, 2014

If someone had ever suggested that this would be my life's work when I was growing up in Texas, I would have laughed.  As a kid, I wanted to be an architect. I was good at math.  Then I went to business school and made plans to enter the finance industry.  I went to work as an equity analyst on an investment team that managed billions in assets.

When our children got sick, none of it mattered, and I threw myself into protecting the health of children.

The early years of this work were so isolating that I can't think of them and not physically remember how hard it was.  It was stripping.  But quitting wasn't an option.  I had learned information about our food that I couldn't unlearn: mainly, that the United States was one of the only developed countries in the world to introduce new ingredients into its food system without informing its citizens.  I also learned that our American food companies were making their products without these controversial new ingredients for families in other countries. 

I could not unlearn that double standard.  It challenged almost everything that I believed in.

It  redefined friendships, and in that space, friends came into my life that I hope to never lose. 

Fast forward, almost nine years later, and here we are on the eve of an election to label genetically engineered ingredients in our food, led by initiatives in Colorado and Oregon.  Twenty eight states have introduced labeling initiatives.  These collective groups have brought the issue to the public.  An extraordinary national team whose talents reach across industries. 

To be part of such a patriotic and historic movement is inspiring.  

I have no idea how tomorrow is going to shake out.  I have entertained the thought: What if we win?  What if a scrappy, love-fueled campaign can defeat an industry-funded $15 million one?  But I truly believe that no matter what the election results are, we have already won.

We changed the conversation.  A scrappy little, passionate campaign of brilliant minds forced multi-billion dollar corporations to change the way they play.  We captured their shenanigans and highlighted their mistruths.   We called them out when they lied, and we held together as they attacked.  And we had fun.  Perhaps that was the reason that so many people around the country asked: Can I vote on this?  They saw what we were doing and wanted to be part of it.

We heard from moms overseas to dads in California.  People sent material to us, cartoons, videos, and invited us to share our work on their sites.  People we had never met from around the country cheered us on every step of the way.

There was a solidarity in it, a revolutionary patriotism that I have never felt before, and it meant a lot to all of us to be part of it. 

As the campaign comes to a close and we head to the polls, it can't pass without saying thank you.  Thank you to those who have gone before us in California, Washington state, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut.  We would not be where we are today without your work.

Thank you to those around the country and around the world that cheered us on.  

To those that are coming after us, stand on our shoulders.  We will lend our talents and expertise to your campaigns. 

And to the food companies, let the chemical industry stand alone.  You already label genetically engineered ingredients or make your products without them overseas.  It will become increasingly hard to justify your position to your shareholders, because your shareholders have family members battling these conditions, too.

Our country is dealing with record rates of chronic conditions like allergies, autism, diabetes and now cancer.  People want to know what they are eating.  

Perhaps that is why it felt so patriotic: we are not one state fighting for the right to know what is in our food, we are one country.  And as we work towards achieving this fundamental human right that has already been afforded to all of our key trading partners by our very own American companies, we will do it ever mindful of our future here. 

Our children's health is the foundation for the health of our country.  It is in our hands to protect it, and love is a rocket fuel. 

There is nothing more beautiful or patriotic that we could be doing. 

Thank you to everyone around the country and around the world who joined us in this effort. 

Yes on 105.

A Former Federal Scientist Sends An Open Letter to the Minister of Health
Sunday, November 02, 2014

Last week, Dr. Thierry Vrain, a former scientist with the federal government in Canada, reached out after watching an interview I did with Dr. Ray Seidler, a former senior scientist at the EPA. 

Dr. Vrain was the designated spokesperson to assure the public of the safety of GMO crops.  He is an unlikely and powerful crusader to be speaking out about the dangers of these crops.

He was concerned that the interview did not address in detail the toxicity of glyphosate, a synthetic and toxic weedkiller used on genetically engineered crops.

In his work today, Dr. Vrain highlights how glyphosate, the chemical applied to genetically engineered crops was first created by Stauffer Chemicals in 1960 to clean industrial pipes.  It was then patented in 1964 by Monsanto, and in 2010 it was patented as an antibiotic because of  it is a biocide, an agent that kills insects, weeds and gut bacteria.  

After speaking with him today, he asked that I share this letter that he wrote to the Canadian Minister of Health  Canada and the United States are two of the only developed countries in the world that fail to label genetically engineered ingredients in their food supplies.  Sixty-four countries around the world label them, in part because no long term human health studies exist. 

Below, please find Dr. Thierry Vrain's full letter. 

Please read and share.   


October 27, 2014


To the Honorable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health


Re:  herbicide pollution and GMO labeling




The confusion about the safety of GMOs is quite simple to address.  The only GMOs in our agriculture are Glyphosate Modified Organisms also known as RoundUp Ready crops and the only GMOs in our food supply are from those crops.   RoundUp Ready crops are engineered to be sprayed with the herbicide RoundUp and this technology has become so successful that RoundUp has become a major pollutant (1).  This chemical pollution is antibiotic, it impacts the microbiome, impairs CYP enzymes, and depletes food of essential mineral micronutrients.  As a background paper for the impact of this pollution I offer my speaking notes to the American College of Nutrition conference last week in San Antonio (Texas).  Most of the studies I cite were published in the last five years.   


Glyphosate is the active ingredient of the herbicide RoundUp, a new molecule created in 1960 by Stauffer Chemicals - a US company with a business of cleaning industrial pipes and boilers of mineral scales.  The mineral deposits (same as in electric kettles) are called scales, and the pipe cleaning chemicals are called descaling agents.  Glyphosate was patented in 1964 in the US as a powerful and very broad spectrum descaling agent (2).   Meaning, it binds to metals indiscriminately and does a great job at “dissolving and preventing minerals from being reactive or bioavailable in solution”.   When the descaling solution was disposed of in nature, it was obvious that it killed plants.  The chemical company Monsanto promptly bought the molecule, patented it as a herbicide in 1969, and got it commercialized in 1974 (3).  This molecule is making history because glyphosate has become the most successful agricultural chemical in North and South America wherever RR seeds are used.   The farmers using this technology get simpler and cheaper weed management and despite higher input bills and sometimes disappointing yields, and with weed resistance spreading fast, they adopted it in troves (4). 


The herbicide RoundUp had a completely novel chemistry for a herbicide in 1969.   It was deemed to kill plants by bonding to only one protein enzyme in the chloroplasts.   Enzymes are metalloproteins with a metal atom as a cofactor at the active site of the molecule.  Bacteria and plants and fungi share a metalloprotein called EPSPS for short and 5-Enol Pyruvyl Shikimate-3 Phosphate Synthase if you want to know what it does.  It works with other metalloproteins to “make” building blocks of proteins, the aromatic amino acids.   These molecules are also building blocks for a large number of aromatic molecules we call secondary compounds.  Glyphosate binds tightly to the manganese atom at the centre of the EPSPS metalloprotein, so tightly that the protein cannot move and do its work making aromatic amino acids.   No protein synthesis means there is no metabolic work possible, a quick death for the plant, or the fungi or the bacteria. 


Because animals lack the shikimate pathway and because of its presumed mode of killing plants, glyphosate was pronounced innocuous to humans and registered as such in 1974 in the USA.  Glyphosate has no acute toxicity, and at the time of registration in the US and Canada, nobody bothered to check for chronic effects.  Considering the chemical properties of this pollution, one would expect long term chronic effects, equivalent to rickets, scurvy, or beriberi, for progressive lack of micronutrients.  The animal feeding studies proving the safety of GMOs do not include testing for the safety of glyphosate.  None of them mentions the residue levels of glyphosate in the feed.  Meanwhile, a fast growing series of independent studies in various countries published in the last 5 years have ascertained the impact of glyphosate on various cellular enzymes and organs of animals and of human cells.


The first RoundUp Ready crops to be commercialized were soy and corn, released in 1996.   Since then, a handful of RR crops have been adopted enthusiastically by farmers, particularly in North and South America.   Today close to 500 million acres of soya and corn, and cotton, canola, and sugar beet, are engineered to be sprayed with RoundUp.  About 40% of  all RR crops are grown in the USA, most of the rest are grown in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and a few other countries.  RR crops are now sprayed with close to two billion lbs of glyphosate every year, and so much of that finds its way into animal feed and processed food, that the EPA had to raise the legal residue limits last year to accommodate a new reality (5).   


Glyphosate is antibiotic, a powerful and broad spectrum antibiotic (6).  The mode of kill is again alleged to be very selective.  The glyphosate molecule impairs the functioning of the shikimate pathway in bacteria in the same manner that it does in plants.  Only one enzyme is affected in a pathway that animals do not possess.   The antibiotic patent describes its effectiveness to kill bacteria at 1 ppm and this was confirmed last year in Germany (7).   At this point I usually spend a minute or two explaining why a low level antibiotic diet is not a good idea.  I describe the recent interest of the medical field in a large joint research project involving many Universities to decipher the huge community of thousands of species of bacteria that call us home.  The Human Microbiome project is the equivalent of the Human Genome project in its scope.   We are vastly outnumbered, roughly ten to one – one hundred trillion bacterial cells call our lower intestine home.  They are forever sending signaling molecules to each other and to all human organs, particularly the brain.  All animals depend on their symbiosis with these bacteria, and humans are no exception.   They are the teachers of our immune system, they make the neurotransmitters for our brain, and have a strong connection to the heart and the whole digestive tract.   They literally feed us all kinds of molecules that we require - we call them essential, like vitamins and such.  They digest and recycle most of our food.   Human organs rely on molecular signals from the microbiome for normal functioning, and as goes the microbiome so does its human shell.  A recent review of the medical literature on celiac and other diseases shows the link to imbalances of the microbiome that are fully explained by the antibiotic properties of glyphosate (8).   


We lack official data on residues of glyphosate in food or in water in Canada – no epidemiological studies of any kind have ever been done.  All we have are the legal maximum residue limits now allowed by the EPA in RoundUp Ready foods, cereals 30 ppm, animal feed 100 ppm, soybean 120 ppm, and everything else in between (5).   Here an inquisitive mind will ask why such a high residue limit for cereals when none of them are engineered to be sprayed with RoundUp.  This is when you learn that RoundUp is sprayed on many non-engineered crops with the intent to kill them right before harvest.  This is done to mature and dry the crops quickly to make them easier and cheaper to harvest.   The RoundUp herbicide has been used as a desiccant for the last 10 years.


There is direct toxicity to animal cells because glyphosate binds to metals indiscriminately, and not just in plant cells.  It binds to metals in solution and to metal co-factors at the centre of metalloproteins anywhere.   For example glyphosate binds to the iron atom at the centre of a large family of protein enzymes called CYP.  There are 57 different CYP enzymes in the human body, and approximately 20,000 in animals, plants, bacteria and fungi.  The CYP enzymes are oxidizers, the first line of digestion and detoxification of most substrates.  David Nelson writes in a review of the CYP enzymes: “The CYP enzymes of humans are essential for our normal physiology and failure of some of these enzymes results in serious illnesses (9).   Samsel and Seneff have published a review of the impact of glyphosate on the CYP enzymes and the microbiome.   They suggest that glyphosate’s suppression of CYP enzymes and its antibiotic effect on the human microbiome are involved in the etiology of the many chronic degenerative and inflammatory diseases that have grown to epidemic levels since the advent of the RoundUp Ready technology (10).


Nancy Swanson has made public her statistical analyses of the US Centre for Disease Control’s statistics about the health status of America when placed next to the statistics of the US Department of Agriculture about the spread of RoundUp Ready soy and corn.  Her correlation analyses show very high coefficient values suggesting strong links between glyphosate residues in RoundUp Ready food and chronic illnesses (11).  


Medical and chemical reviews and peer reviewed studies have explained the mode of action of glyphosate and its impact on many metalloproteins.   Human cell studies have shown acute toxicity (12-15) and animal studies have shown chronic toxicity (16-21).   Glyphosate bio-accumulates in the plants and in animals that eat the plants.   It accumulates in the lungs, the heart, kidneys, intestine, liver, spleen, muscles, and bones … and chronically ill people have higher residues in their urine than healthy people.”(22)



To conclude this presentation of the nutritional status of GMOs, I would say that crops sprayed with RoundUp, whether they are RoundUp Ready or not, contain residues of glyphosate, and that foods made from these crops are depleted of the minerals that are bound to the glyphosate molecules, and chronically toxic (23).   


Minister, your reassuring words have been quoted widely.  “Currently, there is no… scientific evidence, that says genetically modified foods are unhealthy. It is impossible for us to mandate a label, because our labels have to be based on evidence that it is an unhealthy product for Canadians.”  I hope you have found here the scientific evidence you require to act and that you join over 60 governments in the world who have found this evidence compelling enough in the past few years, to legislate some form of labeling or ban RoundUp Ready crops and the herbicide RoundUp.




Dr. Thierry Vrain




Literature cited


1 Battaglin W.A., Meyer M.T., Kuivila K.M., Dietze J.E.  2014. Glyphosate and its degradation product AMPA occur frequently and widely in US soils, surface water, groundwater, and precipitation.  J. Amer. Water Res. Assoc. 50, 275-290.


2 U.S. Patent  3,160,632 Stauffer Chemicals 1964


3 US Patent 3,455,675 Monsanto Chemicals 1969


4 Fernandez-Cornejo J., Wechsler S.J., Livingston M. and Mitchell L.  2014.  Genetically Engineered crops in the United States.  USDA Economic Research Report No. (ERR-162) 60 pp.   http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1282246/err162.pdf


5 EPA 2013 MCL (US Environment Protection Agency legal Maximum Contaminant Levels). http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/pdfs/factsheets/soc/glyphosa.pdf


6 U.S. Patent Number 7,771,736  Monsanto Chemicals 2010.


7 Shehata, A.A., Schrödl, W., Aldin, A.A., Hafez, H.M. and Krüger, M.   2013. The effect of Glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota. Curr. Microbiol. 66:350-358.


8 Samsel, A. and Seneff, S.  2013.  Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II.  Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip. Toxicol. 6: 159-184

9 Nelson, D.  2013. A world of cytochrome P450s. Philo. Transac. Royal Soc. London B 368 No 1612.


10 Samsel, A. and Seneff, S.  2013. Glyphosate’s suppression of cytochrome P450 enzymes and amino acid biosynthesis by the gut microbiome: pathways to modern diseases. Entropy 15: 1416-1463.


11 http://www.examiner.com/gmo-in-seattle/nancy-swanson


12 Gasnier, C., Dumont, C., Benachour, N., Clair, E., Chagnon, M.C. and Séralini, G.E. 2009.  Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines. Toxicology 262: 184-191.


13 Benachour N. and Seralini, G.E.  2009.  Glyphosate induces  apoptosis in human umbilical, embryonic, and placental cells. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 22: 97-105.


14 Koller, V.G., Fürhacker, M., Nersesyan, A., Mišík, M., Eisenbauer, M. and Knasmueller, S.  2012.  Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells. Arch. Toxicol. 86: 805-813.


15 Thongprakaisang, S., Thiantanawat, A., Rangkadilok, N., Suriyo, T. and Satayavivad, J. 2013. Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cell growth via estrogen receptors. Food Chem. Toxicol. 59: 129-136.


16 Senapati ,T., Mukerjee, A.K. and Ghosh, A.R. 2009. Observations on the effect of glyphosate based herbicide on ultrastructure (SEM) and enzymatic activity in different regions of alimentary canal and gill of Channa punctatus (Bloch). J. Crop  Weed 5: 236-245.


17 Paganelli, A.,  Gnazzo, V.,  Acosta, H.,  López, S.L. and Carrasco, A.E. 2010. Glyphosate herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signaling. Chem. Res. Toxicol. 23: 1586-1595.


18 Vecchio, L., Cisterna, B., Malatesta, M., Martin, T.E. and Biggiogera, M. 2004. Ultrastructural analysis of testes from mice fed on genetically modified soybean.  Eur. J. Histochem. 48:448-454.


19 El-Shamei, Z.S.; Gab-Alla, A.A.; Shatta, A.A.; Moussa, E.A.; Rayan, A.M.  2012. Histopathological changes in some organs of male rats fed on genetically modified corn.  J. Am. Sci. 8: 684-696.


20 Séralini, G.E., Clair, E., Mesnage, R., Gress, S., Defarge, N.,  Malatesta, M., Hennequin, D. and de Vendômois, J.S.  2014. Republished study: Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Environ. Sci. Eur. 26:14 


21 Clair. E, Mesnage, R., Travert, C. and Séralini, G.É. 2012. A glyphosate-based herbicide induces necrosis and apoptosis in mature rat testicular cells in vitro, and testosterone decrease at lower levels. Toxicol. in Vitro 26: 269-279.

22 Kruger, M., Schledorn, P., Schrodl, W., Hoppe, H.W., Lutz, W. and Shehata, A.A.  2014. Detection of glyphosate residues in animals and humans. Environ. & Anal. Toxicol. 4:2

23 Zobiole, L.H., Kremer, R.J., de Oliveira, R.S. and Constantin, J. 2012. Glyphosate effects on photosynthesis, nutrient accumulation, and nodulation in glyphosate-resistant soybean.  J. Plant Nutri. Soil Sci. 175: 319






Michael Franti, Food and Love
Thursday, October 30, 2014

This morning, I attended Summit 3.0, a business conference designed to inspire people and organizations to become the best version of themselves that they can be. 

The day started with music.  Michael Franti took the stage. 

It was just Michael and his guitar.  His bare feet resting gently on the stage. "I have a new song," he said.  "It's not on any album...." And he began to sing...

"Everybody ought to hug somebody....at least once a day.  Everybody needs to kiss somebody.....to love somebody at least once a day." 

It was 9am.  No one cared. He had everyone singing.  

Didn't our days start with singing when we were little? It opened people up.

Love is a rocket fuel.  It comes in all shapes and sizes, and the crowd loved it.  I thought about all of the people that I love, and how love has seen so many of us through this work.  His words rang so true.

When he finished, John Mackey, the co-CEO of Whole Foods, was introduced.  It felt full circle. I remember two speakers from business school back in the 1990s: John Mackey and one of the founders of Compaq Computers. 

Mackey's talk was about the evolution of humanity, enlightenment, nothing to do with food. He shared personal anecdotes and a story about how his mother told him back in 1987 when she was dying that she wish he'd go back to school and get his college degree.  He never did.  She died never knowing the contribution he made to the world, to clean food, to the conversations we now have today.   "She died thinking I was a failure," he said. 

And he spoke about the types of mindsets, people, "memes" was the word that he used.

I thought about how our lives unfold in chapters.  We are such creative designs ourselves, each a very unique work of art in progress.

Mackey's talk began with Maslow's hierarchy of needs: food, water, shelter, intimacy, and he took it up the pyramid from there.  Each stage or "wave" of this evolution had a color to it.....blue, purple, orange, green.  What he got to was that in the end, there is no judgement of where anyone is in the process.  There is just love-inspired work driving us to solutions that will serve humanity.  Conscious integration. 

It was big stuff, and I then I thought: How many people think about this?  We get so busy, so caught up.  The burden can be heavy.  Maybe it's self-imposed in some cases, the treadmill we put ourselves on because we think we don't have the right house, car, clothes, that we are not "enough."  But in some cases, the burden is heavy just because it's the hand we've been dealt. And if these anchors are tied around our feet, anchors like disease, joblessness, heartache, can we reach for the stars?

And I thought about the work we do every day to help people believe in their own unique abilities to create change.  We are here because we are a unique design.  No one else on the planet has the combination or heart, mind and skills that each one of us possess.  No one else has our story.  "What if we are not enough?" we think. 

But what if, together, we are?

Towards his conclusion, Mackey said, "When fear leaves, love takes its place." It hung in the air. I wrote it down. 

I wish Franti would have taken the stage again. 

Fear and love. It keeps coming back in my life, like a rhythm. 

They don't mix.  Like oil and water.  They don't co-exist.  And I thought about the struggles that we've seen, the fears, the "what-ifs".  I thought about the fear I felt, the intimidation, the hurdles.

In the end, I couldn't wait for the fear to leave. There wasn't time. So I chose to love.  I was afraid that it would hurt, but love is more powerful than fear.   

And when you love without hesitation, you will find that that is where your strength lies, and together, we will change the world.

Love is a rocket fuel, and it is time to rise up.