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750 Million GMO Mosquitoes approved for Release in Florida Keys

gmo mosquitoes Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

750 million genetically engineered mosquitoes approved for release in Florida Keys

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Updated 2:44 PM ET, Thu August 20, 2020

(CNN)A plan to release over 750 million genetically modified mosquitoes into the Florida Keys in 2021 and 2022 received final approval from local authorities, against the objection of many local residents and a coalition of environmental advocacy groups. The proposal had already won state and federal approval.”With all the urgent crises facing our nation and the State of Florida — the Covid-19 pandemic, racial injustice, climate change — the administration has used tax dollars and government resources for a Jurassic Park experiment,” said Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, in a statement released Wednesday.“Now the Monroe County Mosquito Control District has given the final permission needed. What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know, because EPA unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks, now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed,” she added.

Stopping Zika: The GMO mosquito that kills his own offspring.

Approved by the Environment Protection Agency in May, the pilot project is designed to test if a genetically modified mosquito is a viable alternative to spraying insecticides to control the Aedes aegypti. It’s a species of mosquito that carries several deadly diseases, such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.The mosquito, named OX5034, has been altered to produce female offspring that die in the larval stage, well before hatching and growing large enough to bite and spread disease. Only the female mosquito bites for blood, which she needs to mature her eggs. Males feed only on nectar, and are thus not a carrier for disease.The mosquito also won federal approval to be released into Harris County, Texas, beginning in 2021, according to Oxitec, the US-owned, British-based company that developed the genetically modified organism (GMO).The Environmental Protection Agency granted Oxitec’s request after years of investigating the impact of the genetically altered mosquito on human and environmental health.”This is an exciting development because it represents the ground-breaking work of hundreds of passionate people over more than a decade in multiple countries, all of whom want to protect communities from dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and other vector-borne diseases,” Oxitec CEO Grey Frandsen said in a statement at the time.However, state and local approval for the Texas release has not been granted, said Sam Bissett, a communication specialist with Harris County Public Health.”Local health officials confirm that there is no agreement in place or plans to move forward with the project at this time,” Bissett told CNN. “Our focus is on our efforts with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

A long fight in Florida

In June the state of Florida issued an Experimental Use Permit after seven state agencies unanimously approved the project. But it’s taken over a decade to obtain that approval.

FDA approves Zika-fighting genetically modified mosquito.

In 2009 and 2010, local outbreaks of dengue fever, which is spread by the Aedes aegypti, left the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District desperate for new options. Despite an avalanche of effort — from aerial, truck and backpack spraying to the use of mosquito-eating fish — local control efforts to contain the Aedes aegypti with larvicide and pesticide had been largely ineffective.And costly, too. Even though Aedes aegypti is only 1% of its mosquito population, Florida Keys Mosquito Control typically budgets more than $1 million a year, a full tenth of its total funding, to fighting it.In 2012, the district reached out to Oxitec for help. The company had developed a male mosquito named OX513A, programmed to die before adulthood unless it was grown in water that contained the antibiotic tetracycline.Batches of the sterile OX513A would be allowed to live and mate with females; however, their male and female offspring would inherit the “kill” programming and die, thus limiting population growth.OX513A had been field tested in the Cayman Islands, Panama and Brazil, with Oxitec reporting a large success rate with each release. For example, a trial in an urban area of Brazil reduced the Aedes aegypti by 95%.

Florida releases experimental mosquitoes to fight Zika.

But when word spread in the Florida Keys that the mosquito was on the way, public backlash was swift: More than 100,000 people signed a petition against the proposal; that number has grown to more than 242,000 today. Public relations campaigns reminding Floridians that the GMO mosquito doesn’t bite because he’s male didn’t completely solve the problem. Media reports quoted angry residents refusing to be treated as “guinea pigs” for the “superbug” or “Robo-Frankenstein” mosquito.The EPA spent years investigating the mosquito’s impact on both human health and the environment, allowing time for public input. But in the midst of the evaluation, Oxitec developed a second-generation “Friendly Mosquito” technology and withdrew the application for the first.The new male mosquito, OX5034, is programmed to kill only female mosquitoes, with males surviving for multiple generations and passing along the modified genes to subsequent male offspring.

Genetically engineered moths have been released into the wild to wipe out pests.

The EPA permit requires Oxitec to notify state officials 72 hours before releasing the mosquitoes and conduct ongoing tests for at least 10 weeks to ensure none of the female mosquitoes reach adulthood. However, environmental groups worry that the spread of the genetically modified male genes into the wild population could potentially harm threatened and endangered species of birds, insects and mammals that feed on the mosquitoes.”The release of genetically engineered mosquitoes will needlessly put Floridians, the environment and endangered species at risk in the midst of a pandemic,” said Dana Perls, food and technology program manager at Friends of the Earth, in Wednesday’s statement.

Florida is one of the states that has seen spikes of COVID 19 cases. Given the fact that they have seen spikes and this is the middle of pandemic, do you think this is the best time to release GMO mosquitoes into the public? How would you feel about another country releasing GMO organisms into the public that can cross boarders? How do you feel about GMO insects that can not be contained nor have been designed to be contained? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Factory Farming

Using the legal system to fight factory farms | Michele Merkel | TEDxManhattan

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Factory Farms, Michele Merkel
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Do you know the sources of your foods? Should the sources of your food be on your labels? Should labels and food production be more transparent? How are you an informed consumer of the number one thing you put into your body everyday? Share your comments with the community by positing them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Food & Science

What Does "Organic" Mean, and Should You Buy Organic Foods?

Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook
Food and Science
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Is it okay to eat foods that have GMO (genetically modified food), pesticides and irradiation if we do not know the health effects? Should we be test subjects without knowing? Should food be a matter of science or biology? Eliot Coleman believes food should be more a function of biology. Do you think health producers should be responsible for any health problems you have if you get sick from foods they said were okay to eat? Is producing ‘more’ food more important than your health? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Stay healthy.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Professor Plant

Benefits of House Plant

Learning something is perhaps one of the most humbling things you can do. Learning from a child can also be humbling. However, if you allow the learning experience to happen to you and you embrace it, you will learn something new. Depending on what you learn, learning can be profound. I learn something new every day in the garden. One of the things that struck me is how caring for and observing the plants has improved how I care for myself health wise. These little plants and seedling have taught me a lot. God is awesome in that his lessons, principles, parables and teachings are often transferable to other areas of our lives. Observing nature is no different. Having and caring for plants is observing nature.

I did expect to eat the plants and receive health benefits from that process. However, the other thing I noticed is that I have begun to recover from illness sooner than I had previously. I had a sneeze and mucus associated with the sneeze that just would not go away. In this current Corona client, as we know, being healthy is the new normal. One thing we have learned from Corona statistics is that those who already had underlining health concerned were hit the hardest. This showed up in nursing homes amongst the elderly and in African American communities.

I never took any medications to improve my sneeze. However, what I did do was take some natural (food) remedies know to boost the immune system, such as vitamin C, honey and ginger. I drank apple juice fortified with vitamin C and made a honey, ginger and turmeric tea. All of which I am sure contributed to my improved health. I also found that for some reason I was always cleaning my eyes. And suddenly the skin around my eyes was less agitated and moist. I stopped rubbing my eyes and the skin around my eyes became more soft and supple like the rest of my skin and the soreness in my throat begin to alleviate.

That I did not expect. What I did expect was to learn more about gardening and becoming a better gardener. What you can read in our May 31, 2020 article “Infectious Disease” is how we have been identifying plant disease and addressing it quickly. We do not have all the answers yet but we will keep close observation and let you know what we learn. What we do learn from WebMD is that house plants have the following benefits:

  • Allergy Relief
  • Lifts your Mood
  • Adds Moisture to the Air
  • Purifies the Air
  • Improves Digestion (Mint and other foods as well as herbs)
  • Relaxing (such as the Lavender & Chamomile MiMi and Mom have)
  • Good for First Aid (Aloe)
  • Produces Oxygen through photosynthesis
  • Relieves Stress
  • Faster Healing
  • Better Mental & Emotional Health

Click WebMD to read this article and learn more about the benefits of house plants. For those who choose to keep their gardens indoors or to have kitchen gardens, having your plants around maybe more beneficial than you knew. Do you have any house plants? Why do you have them? What do you like about having them around? What observations have you made? As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing?

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Good Garden Bugs

Being on an Organic Journey there are many organizations that you come to like such as the USDA Organic Certification Program. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is one of them. Our government does not do everything right but the EPA is definitely a move in the right direction. We have found them to be a great resource of information. They have compiled a book to help us identify garden bugs, so we know which ones are good and which ones are ‘not helpful’ and how we can address these pests in an Organic manner. Click EPA to get this booklet.

Our transplanted Cabbage and Brussels Sprouts (learn more about effective ways to transplant by reading our May 2, 2020 article “True to Transplanting”) from the garden center, that came to us as small plants, have faced one pest after the other. Just when we got rid of one here came another. They ate both plants before we even had a chance to say harvest. Now we have found that what we believed to have been spider webs was actually larva, big lesson, and they hatched and became what we believe to be slugs. We are pretty certain since we have snails on the garage door and found some on the plants. First, the best thing to do is to remove the larva before they hatch. Just when we reduced the number of ants then came the flies. They were munching on the plants and we did not know. Then came the snails who laid their eggs and now we have slugs.

Plant shock threw these plants into one predator issue to another. The good news is that the EPA has an Organic Remedy to these bugs. We will be employing some of these remedies and will let you know what we discover. The Mole Max (uses sound) has thus far proven to be very useful in resolving our Vole issue. We believe, we never saw it, that a Vole was eating our plants from underneath the ground. This also caused a lot of stress and probably root problems for our plants. Our plants have been through a lot. Nonetheless, the Organic Remedies are plentiful and we believe one is bound to work. FYI: Lady Bugs are Good Bugs.

What are some other tools you can use to help identify the issue(s) your plants are having when they get in trouble? What are some other organizations that provide helpful information for Organic Consuming? What is important to you as an Organic Consumer? As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Neem Oil

When our Cabbage & Brussel Sprouts leaves were being eaten up, we went in search for an Organic Remedy. Most organic gardeners and farmers will tell you the best remedy is plant health. Those plants that come under attack are typically not in good health. Although the vole might be putting them under stress. We found that the plants coming under attack were perfectly healthy plants but young and tender. Some of them were going through the transplant process and experiencing some stress and shock. All things we think the plants could bounce back from without problem. So, we have decided to give our plantings a little Organic help to promote growth and health while we get our garden off the ground.

Our search produced a recommendation to use Neem Oil. We found a product that left us with a little more questions than answers because it did not fully disclose all of its ingredients. We discovered that Neem Oil is often mixed with dish detergent and water. The emulsifier in the dish detergent helps break down the oil and give it a little structure. Naturally the oil will loosen up if heated but that is not a good application method for your plants. Once the detergent, water and neem oil mixture is made it must be used otherwise it will break down and become unusable. Well we want to know what we are putting on our food so, we found 100% cold pressed neem oil. We will add our own water. If you decided to use detergent, we recommend Castile soap, which is a natural (and can be organic) soap with no chemicals. You can find this soap at your local store or order it online. We found our Neem Oil online for about $5 per 8 ounces plus shipping. We decided to buy in bulk so we got 32 ounces for that price (per 8 ounces).

Although we think it is still to early to tell, the results thus far have been very positive. We have seen a noticeable difference in the amount of flies. They have decreased in number and have become more clandestine. Just because they get clandestine does not mean they are gone. Remember to keep up your Organic Remedy Regimen for at least 2 – 4 weeks. It is recommended to keep treating plants 2 weeks after desired results are achieved. Click here to learn more about Neem Oil from the Smiling Gardener. We did not buy our Neem Oil from this supplier, but found them to have a great deal of knowledge regarding Neem Oil as it relates to gardening and farming.

This Organic Remedy should allow our plants time to get over any shock or stress. We also dug new ground and are always learning what works best. So, there are a lot of factors to consider. We wanted a product whose ingredients we knew. Also, we are always looking for a good deal. We don’t mind mixing up our own Neem Oil solution in order to get these things. We believe you should know what is on and in your food. So, we decided to go with a small business owner supplier who provided unfiltered and cold pressed Neem Oil.

We have high hopes for our garden once these seedlings have an opportunity to flourish. They are on average very healthy and strong. The introduction of Soil Blocks and other methods that discourage disease have significantly improved our sowing success, it is on track to be 100% of seeds sown sprout into healthy plants. The transplanting process has been improved. And we are in the process of helping them catch root quicker. Discouraging voles and other mole like animals should also keep the plants from being uprooted once successfully transplanted. What we believe is a vole could have also been preventing our plantings from developing healthy root systems as well as taking root sooner and completing the transplant process. We will be observing if these pest remedies shorten the transplant process.

We believe the Neem Oil will help keep pests at bay and give these plants a chance to recover from any stress or shock. When reading packages they often make EPA, USDA and other certifications. Do you know what these standards are and are these standards acceptable to you? Do you think manufacturers should release all ingredients despite their desire to protect trade secrets? How can you help influence EPA & USDA standards that are more transparent and acceptable to your own personal standards? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.