Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Conferences, Consumerism, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, GMOs, Health & Disease, Presentations/Demonstrations, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

World famous author and activist Vandana Shiva gave an inspiring speech at the Food Otherwise conference in Wageningen, Netherlands, on 21 February 2014.

"Monopolies, centralization and monocultures go hand and hand and they are the instruments of power. We have to create instruments of democracy, diversity, resilience."

If you prefer, you can read the transcript of the speech here (PDF).

Posted by & filed under Insects.

It seems we are frantically seeking a reason and a solution to the infamous and mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder. Although the news makes you think that it’s a plague affecting all beekeepers, the reality shows otherwise. Organic beekeepers — you know, those who gently collaborate with bees — do not experience the same losses. Have you ever wondered why? Jacqueline Freeman gives you 12 empowering tools to offer the best to your bees. All in all, it is a matter of celebrating their beeness….

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.


Duration: 45 minutes (jump to 03:40 to skip introductions)

Little more than a week ago my brother sent this presentation by Bruce Lipton regarding the new science of epigenetics. As a high school biology teacher who had questioned concepts like genetic determinism and junk DNA I found it fascinating. When my wife, the original sceptic, was spell-bound by Bruce I knew we were on to something.

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Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

A culture of denial over the horizontal spread of genetically modified nucleic acids prevails in the face of direct evidence that it has occurred widely when appropriate methods and molecular probes are used for detection.

by Dr Mae Wan Ho

This article has been sent to Dr Kaare Nielsen in his capacity as a member of the European Food Safety Authority GMO Panel and he is given the right to reply.

A fully illustrated and referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here.

A culture of denial over the horizontal spread of GM nucleic acids

The first genetically modified (GM) crop was commercially approved and released into the environment 20 years ago. From the beginning, some of us have been warning repeatedly of hidden dangers from the unintended horizontal transfer of GM DNA (transgenes). A comprehensive review [1] (Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases, ISIS scientific publication) and successive updates were submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) and regulatory agencies in the US, UK and European Union (see [2] Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Report); all to no avail.

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Posted by & filed under Compost.

I live in an area with a very defined and intense rainy season, and had been wanting to start a compost pile at my house for some time. However, I remembered from having visited a farm in an even wetter region, that their compost piles, which were on the bare ground and without a roof (like I had been intending to do) ended up being, more or less, piles of too-wet sludge.

After some research, I settled on a design that seemed to fit my needs particularly well: a wire-mesh compost. It was small, occupying vertical rather than horizontal space, which was a big plus since I didn’t have a lot of room to devote to composting. It provided exceptional aeration capabilities, since the entire structure is made of mesh and allows for a constant flow of air. It was easy to assemble and move by one person, since the materials used are fairly light. Finally, being an enclosed compost meant that it would be safe from the prying little snouts of my three dogs, who have already ransacked a previous composting endeavor.

I’m sharing my process and some observations in the hopes that somebody else might find this information useful.

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Posted by & filed under Energy Systems.

Professor Reza Alam and his PhD students in Mechanical Engineering Department, University of California, Berkeley, are testing out a prototype of a device which can produce electricity and provide clean drinking water for coastal communities throughout the world.

Called a ‘wave carpet’, it harnesses the predictable wave power to obtain usable energy. As the waves roll through, the carpets motion produces hydraulic pressure energy. This energy can to used to turn turbines and generate electricity or to produce fresh water by reverse osmosis. Pressurised salt water is pushed through the membranes that extract the salt and provide fresh water.

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops, Presentations/Demonstrations.

We are approaching many limits to growth over the next several decades, and are consequently facing many challenges in our immediate future. Finance, energy, environment, resources and climate will all impact on the single-minded, one-dimensional trajectory human society has been on in our era of growth imperative. Our current path is unsustainable. It cannot and will not continue, so we must adapt our societies in order to build a new future.

The first challenges are being presented by the ongoing global financial crisis, which is far closer to its beginning than it end, and by the geopolitics of energy. Events in Europe, particularly in Cyprus, Detroit and latterly the Ukraine, represent a major wake up call that financial crisis is about to resume in earnest and that energy issues are moving towards criticality in many places. We must anticipate and navigate a period of rapid economic contraction and increasing risk of resource conflict, punctuated by the emergence of geopolitical wildcards.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, Economics, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

Regular readers may remember an article I posted back in 2010 — Kings, Conquerors, Capitalism and Resilience Lost — where I covered a little historical ground for one particular former ‘East Bloc’ country; a history shared by several countries in central Europe. The article outlined how previously resilient land-based communities — which had lived and even thrived for centuries in close relation to each other and the land that sustained them — had struggled to cope with an onslaught, a rapid succession, of ideologies that were thrust upon them (Fascism, then Communism, and the final nail in the coffin, Capitalism). The article ended with a glimpse into the lives of some of the land-based people still remaining — stalwart and practical souls who do so little to harm the earth, but whose historical lives are being tragically impacted by political and economic forces outside of their control.

In the video above, John D. Liu covers similar territory — but over a wider geographic. Take a watch.

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Posted by & filed under Animal Forage, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Trees.


Acacia tree

With Autumn in the Southern hemisphere it is an ideal time to plant trees, as the sap of the tree is descending, and especially in hot environments the trees get a chance to acclimatize during the cooler weather and if you are in a winter rainfall area your trees can be well watered in before the hot summer days start again.

In all forests there are the pioneer trees that grow first and are mostly rapid growers. They then provide a canopy of shade and shelter for the slower and hardier trees to grow under. By the time your slow growers are strong and increased in size the pioneer trees are more or less at the end of their cycle and fall down to create space and sunlight for the new generation of large hardwood trees.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

In an extraordinary coup, farmers’ unions and the UK government have torpedoed the European Soil Framework Directive.

“British soils are reaching crisis point”. Don’t take my word for it — this is a quote from a loyal friend of the farming industry, Farmers’ Weekly.

You would expect farmers to try to protect their soils, which are the foundations of their livelihood, and many do. There are some excellent farmers in Britain, careful, well-informed and always thinking of the future. But across large areas of land, short-termism now triumphs over common sense. Farmers are often in debt to the banks, and seek to clear that debt as quickly as they can. Many are growing crops that are simply incompatible with protecting the soil. Some don’t seem to know very much about soil erosion and why it happens. Others — especially contract farmers working on other people’s land — don’t seem to care. Sensible land use is giving way to smash-and-grab exploitation.

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