Editorial: Agent Orange still poisons many Vietnam War veterans

For many Americans, the enduring memory of the Vietnam War is of the protests that defined a generation and shattered the illusion of America’s purity on the world stage. But for the 3 million men and women who served in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and early 1970s, the memories are more visceral: the fog of combat, the stench of death, the sting of returning to a seemingly ungrateful nation.

For some veterans, there’s something else, and it’s no memory. Exposed to the toxin-laced Agent Orange a half-century ago, they are now suffering long-term effects including heart disease, Parkinson’s, type II diabetes, immune system disruption, and a variety of potentially lethal cancers. The time has come for them to get the moral and financial support that are our nation’s debt.

Robert Schmid of Leverett is one of those Vietnam vets. Schmid was a soldier on the ground when planes overhead showered down herbicide to kill jungle foliage and reveal enemy troops. Amid the gunfire, he paid it little heed. “There is so much activity,” he told reporter Lisa Spear, “that it is just another thing happening.”

Now 72, Schmid has suffered a heart attack and attributes his coronary heart disease to his time in-country. Donald F. Moulton, another Vietnam veteran, suffers from an aggressive form of leukemia. He told fellow veteran John Paradis that he was exposed to Agent Orange while a Navy Seabee clearing vegetation to build bases, hospitals and schools.

“We weren’t even using the words Agent Orange then and we just took it for granted,” Moulton said. “I can tell you this, we weren’t pulling any weeds over there — that stuff pretty much took care of everything.”

And no wonder. Agent Orange contained toxins including the now-infamous dioxin, and the U.S. military sprayed close to 11 million gallons of it in Vietnam. In the decades since, scientists have concluded beyond a doubt that the herbicide is to blame for health problems including the ones suffered by Schmid and Moulton — and the government has begun paying benefits to veterans who grapple with those issues.

Veterans collect monthly benefits ranging from modest to more substantial; veterans interviewed by Spear reported payments between $300 and $3,000 a month, depending on their debilitation. But many of those afflicted don’t know that they and their spouses are entitled to the help, despite the pain and expense associated with long-term ailments.

Too many veterans remain unaware of the benefits they might collect, says Timothy Niejadlik, director of the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans’ Services office in Greenfield. To help spread the word, his organization recently held a town hall meeting at Greenfield Community College to provide information, health screenings and help in filing claims.

“A lot of these diseases are equated to age, so (veterans) are just thinking that it’s part of their natural aging process,” said Niejadlik.

Says Schmid: “There are a lot of vets who don’t take advantage; either they don’t know about it or they are shy about asking for it — and I was like that, too.”

Happily, Schmid did ask and now receives a $300 monthly benefit that not only helps with his health-related expenses but also signals a recognition — long overdue — of the sacrifices he made in that distant land. Other vets deserve that same recognition and our nation’s thanks.



COEUR d’ALENE — The effects of war are far and wide. For veterans, that includes PTSD, depression, unemployment, and homelessness to name a few.

But one lasting effect is not so well-known, because, according to Richard Phenneger, the government doesn’t want it to be known.

Agent Orange, a dioxin chemical used in the Vietnam War, has been linked to the deformation of the children and grandchildren of those exposed to it.

“Our government has refused to acknowledge studies by independent scientists that say this is a problem,” Phenneger said. “Once someone is exposed to Agent Orange, there’s a very good chance it attaches to the DNA, which is then passed on to future generations.”

During North Idaho College’s recent Veterans Appreciation Week, Phenneger gave a presentation about his nonprofit, Orange Heart, and how Agent Orange affects Vietnam veterans and their families.

Phenneger, the founder and president of Veteran Services Transparency, told how he stumbled upon a study about the adverse effects of Agent Orange while he was doing another study about veterans coming back from the Gulf War.

The study he found struck a nerve in him, so he decided to do more digging. He said he found evidence the U.S. government knew that Agent Orange was harmful to humans and decided to spray it in Vietnam anyway.

To get an idea of how many veterans and veteran families Agent Orange affected, he conducted a survey with the help of some researchers who found his cause worthwhile.

Of the 119 Vietnam War veterans in Kootenai County that took Phenneger’s survey, 20 percent had deformed children.

“You’d be surprised at the emotion that came out of that,” Phenneger said. “It took me a while to absorb it.”

During the presentation, Veteran Services Transparency board member Amina Fields spoke about her experiences regarding the issue.

The Vietnam refugee and American veteran echoed the idea that more studies need to be done regarding the effects of Agent Orange. She said the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs does give out compensation for certain disabilities and health issues suffered by veterans and their families because of Agent Orange, but only for certain types of disabilities.

“We believe there are more disabilities and health issues than identified by the VA,” she said. “UNICEF did a study in 2008 that found that out of the 30.5 million children under 18 in Vietnam, 1.2 million have disabilities, and that is considered a disproportionately large amount.”

Lori Adler, a student at the Lewis Clark State College satellite campus and volunteer with the NIC Veterans Resource Center, attended the presentation and was surprised at how big of an issue Agent Orange still is.

“I came to get more education and I have a friend who served in Vietnam who is affected by Agent Orange,” she said. “I’ve been planning on talking with a senator, and now that I have found this horrific information, I’m going to bring this to him and hopefully get a change.”

Moving forward, Orange Heart and Veteran Services Transparency’s goals are to continue to bring awareness to what has been happening and continue researching.

The group wants to raise money to conduct surveys in Vietnam to show the effects of Agent Orange there, where more people were exposed to it. Phenneger guesses the organization will need to raise about $10 million to do this.

“I am confident we will be able to fix the problem,” he said.


Vietnam veterans speak about effects of Agent Orange

KENILWORTH, NJ — The New Jersey State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America met on Sunday, Sept. 18 at Kenilworth Veterans Center to raise awareness about the long-lasting impact of toxic exposure. The focus was on the effects that chemicals have had on veterans’ offspring and the illnesses and defects that many have endured. This was the sixth meeting held concentrating on this topic.

This presentation was called “The Faces of Agent Orange and Our Toxicity Legacy.” Members of Vietnam Veterans of America spoke about their experiences during a panel discussion, which included a question and answer session. An introduction was given by past State Council President of Vietnam Veterans of America John LeGates.

“The VA stands for ‘Veteran’s Adversary,’” LeGates said. “They’re not your friend.”

Veterans have submitted claims reporting medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer, all which can be traced to exposure to dioxins, particularly Agent Orange. Many claims are completely dismissed. However, the effects of this chemical continue to affect generations even today.

“Herbicide orange is used by the United States military as part of the herbicidal warfare program,” Dioxin Committee Chairman Mike Eckstein told LocalSource. “The United States sprayed 20 million-plus gallons of herbicides and dioxins during Vietnam.”

A veteran from Pennsylvania spoke about his experience with cancer that resulted from exposure to the toxin. When his left leg swelled twice its normal size, his doctor discovered that he had a tumor in his abdomen. There was no genetic predisposition to cancer in his family, and the only cause found was exposure to Agent Orange. His daughter is afraid to marry and have a family due to the fear that this chemical will have an impact on her unborn fetus. The veteran’s grandson was born with attention deficit disorder and anger management issues. The VVA’s goal is to pass a bill that would ban the government from using this lethal chemical.

“The chemical was sprayed along mangroves to open the field of fire in order to discover where the enemy was hiding,” Eckstein told LocalSource.

Paul Sutton, of the Dioxin Committee, further explained the history of Agent Orange. It was invented in 1922 and sprayed on the ground and in the air from 1961 to1971. Three billion veterans in Vietnam were exposed to it, as well as the civilian population.

“The chemical was tested between 1940 to 1960,” Sutton said. “The government wanted a certain amount of it sprayed in San Francisco and heated up the process to meet the requirements. This was when the chemical became its most lethal. People could be exposed just by spending time in an area where it was once sprayed. Twelve to fourteen different dioxins can be found in industrial areas such as New Jersey. Years after being exposed, it can still be detected in the blood stream.”

Sutton conducted a question-and-answer session, which included questions about the Blue Water Navy and their exposure to the chemical. There was also information given about how to submit a claim regarding medical issues related to exposure.

“It’s important to make sure that anyone who sees a doctor for an illness related to exposure of this dioxin tell the doctor to make note of it,” said State Service Officer Margaret Wojciechowicz. “This note can then be submitted to the government by a state service officer such as myself,”


VA benefits available for those impacted by Agent Orange

When Bob Blower was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001, he underwent successful surgery and moved on.

A year later, when his friend Vince Kilmartin was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Blower helped guide him through the treatment. Kilmartin also underwent successful surgery to treat the disease.

Six years later, in 2008, Kilmartin happened to see in a newspaper article that a Veterans Administration study found a link between exposure to Agent Orange, the anti-defoliant used in Vietnam, and prostate cancer.

When he spoke to someone in the Oakland VA office, Kilmartin learned that not only was he eligible for benefits related to his treatment for prostate cancer, but also for the two heart procedures he’d had to put stents in because of blocked arteries.

Prostate cancer and blocked arteries are just two medical conditions the Veterans Administration links to exposure to Agent Orange. Although the VA doesn’t contact veterans about potential benefits they may be due, it does have a wealth of information on its website ( va.gov, under benefits, special groups, Vietnam veterans). Veterans have to take the initiative, though.

Kilmartin received his benefits in 2008, but the veteran with 20 years of active duty — five in the U.S. Navy and 15 more in the U.S. Coast guard after a career in education — didn’t give it much thought afterward.

But last fall when he and Blower were playing a round of golf, their having had prostate cancer came up in conversation.

“I said, ‘Bob, did you ever apply for VA benefits?’” Kilmartin remembered. “He said, ‘No, how would I know that?’”

Blower spent five years in the Navy, including a year aboard the USS Magoffin, a TAC Transport, which was docked in Danang in 1966. He left the military after five years in the naval reserves, and moved onto his civilian life, becoming a Realtor and raising a family.

When he was diagnosed with cancer, his past military service never entered his mind, but Kilmartin knew better.

“He mentored me,” Blower said. “He told me you have to get all your medical records, your military records and where your ship was.”

The two met with Jerry Jolly at the San Joaquin County Veterans Services office and provided Blower’s discharge papers, the name of his ship and the medical records that proved he’d had prostate cancer. Blower is now awaiting his benefits.

“We started thinking there are probably a lot of guys like me who didn’t know they were eligible,” Blower said.

Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to a 52 percent overall increased risk of prostate cancer in Vietnam vets, according to an analysis published in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer. Spreading the word about the connection, and the benefits available, has become the mission of Kilmartin and Blower.

It’s been one of Tino Adame’s jobs for a long time as the American Legion’s state chairman of veteran affairs and rehabilitation.

“My job is to get the word out to veterans through the American Legion or any other veterans organization, any way I can,” Adame said. “I need to get veterans informed about Agent Orange, what’s covered. “

It’s important work for Adame, a U.S. Marine who served in Vietnam in 1966. He’s devoted to veterans and was long involved with Stockton’s Karl Ross American Legion post before working at the state level.

Adame was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 and received VA benefits.

He is now undergoing chemotherapy for tumors on his kidneys, but that cancer is not linked to Agent Orange at this time.

The U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of herbicides on South Vietnam and parts of Laos and Cambodia from 1962 to 1971 to defoliate the jungle cover of enemy soldiers and to destroy their food source. Veterans exposed to the chemicals, in particular dioxin, began experiencing illnesses as early as the 1970s. The U.S. government initially resisted an admission that Agent Orange had caused health problems, but has since expanded its list of illnesses “associated” with exposure. That list now includes numerous cancers (prostate, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s Disease among them), Parkinson’s disease and certain heart conditions. More studies are ongoing, Adame said.

“It stirs a lot of memories,” Adame said. “Talking to other vets, we could all see it (when it was sprayed). I was a squad leader and I’d radio the helicopter and tell them we were under them and they’d say, ‘sorry, we’re ordered to spray here. Get under a poncho.’”

Kilmartin, too, remembers the spraying.

“When we flew into Danang, you got off the plane and you could see the stuff,” Kilmartin said. “They’d be spraying in areas where the fighting was going on, where the Marines were out in the field. They’d start flying and the Agent Orange would be sprayed everywhere, and the wind would blow it back.”

Most veterans who served time in country during the Vietnam War were exposed to the toxic chemical.

If little consideration was given to troops at the time of the spraying, the U.S. government is now making amends. Veterans, though, need to ask for help.


Monsanto’s Deep Legacy Of Corruption And Cover-Up

The History of a chemical company

Monsanto is now instantly recognized as the company dominating the global food supply with its more than 7000  current worldwide patents. But today’s Monsanto is not a corporate newcomer. Although its literature heralds the company as having a clear and principled code of conduct and a pledge to demonstrate integrity, respect, ethical behavior, and honesty in everything they do, the truth is that this company has a legacy of contamination and cover-up that dates back more than a century.

The Rise of  one of ‘The Worst Corporations in the World’

At the turn of the 19th century, John Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works to produce such nefarious products as saccharin, synthetic vanillin, and laxative and sedative drugs. The company was well positioned as a leading force in the dawning American chemical industry.

From the 1920’s until the late 1960’s, Queeny’s son, Edgar Monsanto Queeny, expanded the company into a global franchise, and changed its name to Monsanto Chemical Company in 1933. He added sulfuric acid, PCBs, DDT, synthetic fibers, and an array of plastics that included polystyrene to the product line.

During this time, Monsanto also created Agent Orange, one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.

Agent Orange was a combination of equal parts of two herbicides, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D. The 2,4,5-T used to produce Agent Orange threw off dioxin as a byproduct, a compound the World Health Organization classes as highly toxic. Dioxin can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, hormone disruption, and the initiation of cancer. Dioxin persists in the environment and accumulates in the body, even at minimal exposure.

In areas where Agent Orange was used, the concentration of dioxin was hundreds of times greater than the levels considered safe by the Environmental Protective Agency (EPA). This resulted in a host of terrible health consequences for anyone exposed. and led to decades of litigation during which Monsanto fought tooth and nail to avoid paying for the horrific damage military personnel suffered from. The class action case that followed was settled out of court in 1984 for $180 million, reportedly the latest settlement of its kind at the time.

Read: Sorry Monsanto – Organic Food Demand is Exploding

More than 60 years of Contamination and Cover Up

Dioxin Leak at Nitro – $93 Million Settlement

From 1929 until 1995, Monsanto operated a chemical plant in the small town of Nitro, West Virginia, where it manufactured Agent Orange. In 1949, a pressure valve blew on a tank of the herbicide, sending plumes of smoke and vapors containing dioxin throughout the town, coating residents and the homes they lived in with powdery residue.

In a short time, some people developed skin eruptions and were diagnosed with an enduring and disfiguring condition known as chloracne. Others had prolonged pain extending from their chest to their feet. According to a medical report following the explosion, “It caused a systemic intoxication in the workers involving most major organ systems.”

Monsanto’s reaction? The company down-played it, claiming the chemical was slow-acting and just a minor irritant.

To get rid of the dioxin, the company dumped it into storm drains, streams and sewers, and stored it in landfills. Dioxin persisted in waterways and in the fish that lived in them. When residents sued for damages, they were told by Monsanto that their allegations had no merit and that the company would defend itself vigorously.

The residents of Nitro or their descendants finally received $93 million from Monsanto in 2012.

PCBs Contaminate the Town of Anniston, Alabama

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are used in many industries as hydraulic fluids, sealants, and lubricants. These chemicals have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.

Monsanto’s plant in Anniston, Alabama produced PCBs from 1929 to 1971. Since then, tons of contaminated soil have been hauled away from the plant, but the site continues to be one of the most highly polluted areas in the country.

Why was it such a mess? During its production years, waste PCBs were dumped  into a nearby open landfill, poured into a creek that ran alongside the plant,  or just allowed to run off the property during storms. During those years, the townspeople drank from their wells, ate fish they caught, and swam in the creeks, oblivious of the PCBs. When public awareness began to mount, authorities found high levels of PCBs all over the place, and in the bodies of those people, where it will remain forever.

In 1966, a Monsanto biologist testing waterways near the Anniston plant found that when live fish were added to the water, “All 25 fish lost equilibrium and turned on their sides in 10 seconds and all were dead in 3 1/2 minutes.”

In 1970, the FDA found high levels of PCBs in fish near the Anniston plant, and Monsanto jumped into cover-up mode. A leaked internal memo from a company official outlined steps for the company to take to limit disclosure. The strategy called for engaging public officials to fight the battle for them. “Joe Crockett, Secretary of the Alabama Water Improvement Commission will try to handle the problem quietly without release of the information to the public at this time,” the memo promised.

A statement eventually released from Monsanto’s world headquarters in St. Louis stated, “Quoting both plant management and the Alabama Water Improvement Commission, the PCB problem was relatively new, was being solved by Monsanto and, at this point, was no cause for public alarm.”

The class action suit for Anniston was finally settled  in 2003, when Monsanto was forced to pay $700 million.

More PCBs Dumped into the Environment

In 1977, Monsanto closed its PCB plant in Whales, but not before dumping thousands of tons of waste into the quarry of the town of Groesfaen. Authorities there say the site is still one of the most contaminated in Britain.

Internal papers indicate that Monsanto knew about the PCB dangers as early as 1953, when toxicity tests on the effects of PCBs killed more than 50% of the lab rats subjected to them. In 2011, Monsanto reluctantly agreed to help in the clean up after an environmental agency found 67 chemicals at the quarry site that were exclusively manufactured by Monsanto. Yet that effort remained underfunded and the quarry remains contaminated.

The Guardian reported that Monsanto wrote an abatement plan in 1969 which admitted “the problem involves the entire United States, Canada, and sections of Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.”

Navy Rejects Monsanto Product Because it was ‘Too Toxic’

Monsanto tried to sell its hydraulic fluid, known as Pydraul 150, to the navy in 1956, and supplied test results in their sales pitch. But the navy decided to do its own testing, and the company was informed that there would be no sale because the product proved to be too toxic. In an internal memo divulged during a court proceeding, Monsanto’s medical director stated that“no matter how we discussed the situation, it was impossible to change their thinking that Pydraul 150 is just too toxic for use in submarines.”

Monsanto Moves into Food, Biotechnology

Monsanto’s move into biotech began in the 1970’s, and in 1983 the first genetic modification of a plant cell had been achieved. Synthetic bovine growth hormone (rBST) was on the horizon. Monsanto’s public relations department portrayed GM seeds as a panacea for alleviating poverty and feeding the hungry. In 1985, the company bought NutraSweet artificial sweetener, a branded version of aspartame – the compound responsible for 75% of the complaints reported to the FDA’s adverse reaction monitoring system.

Monsanto Seeks Clean Image, Creates Solutia

In the late 1990’s, Monsanto created a new company known as Solutia, and off-loaded its chemical and fiber businesses. L. Bartlett and James B. Steele, chronicling the rise of Monsanto for Vanity Fair magazine, noted the reason for the spinoff was to channel the bulk of Monsanto’s mounting chemical lawsuits and liabilities into the spun-off company, thereby creating a clean image for Monsanto. Solutia became Monsanto’s solution!

As the company, now known simply as Monsanto, moves through the 21st century, it has a ‘new cleaned-up image,’ and a fine sounding mission statement. It refers to itself as a relatively new company that promotes sustainable agriculture and delivering products that support farmers around the world.

Except Monsanto is the 3rd most hated company in the world.

Monsanto’s legacy of contamination and cover-up should be a wake up call for you to run from the GMOs they have spawned. Remember the old adage that says leopards can’t change their spots?

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Veteran Fights for $250K in Benefits for Agent Orange-Caused Condition

Don Rabush says he is owed more than $250,000 in retroactive benefits from the VA

Frustrated and fed-up, Vietnam veteran Don Rabush calls his fight to get Veterans Affairs benefits for an ailment caused by Agent Orange one of the worth battles he’s ever faced.

The Army second lieutenant has been working to get nearly 40 years of retroactive benefits after suffering a heart attack in 1974.

Though a doctor at the time told him the attack was not war-related, the decision was reversed in 2010 when doctors discovered Rabush suffered a heart condition from contact with Agent Orange. He encountered the chemical during his five and a half years of service.

“In Vietnam, I was fighting the Viet Cong. This is a more vicious enemy. These are people who hide behind bureaucracy not to serve veterans,” Rabush told NBC 7 Tuesday.

When Rabush filed for benefits in 2010, the VA granted them. Officials are not disputing Rabush’s ailments or their cause, but when the benefits should start.
Rabush said he should get them retroactively to 1974, but the VA says they should start in 2010 when he filed his new claim.

At issue, says VA Pension Management Center Manager Gary Chesterton, is a form Rabush submitted in 1974, which the VA says was a procedural form, not a claim form.

Disabled American Veterans representative Guy Anastasia told NBC 7 Rabush’s checks say otherwise.

“I did research. I went to the legal staff here and in D.C. to verify it can be used for adjudication purposes. It can be,” Anastasia said.

VA officials say it could be months before a decision is made in Rabush’s case.

The veteran said the fight isn’t about the more than $250,000 he stands to get if he wins. Instead, Rabush said it’s more about making sure he and other veterans who risked life and limb get the benefits they need to lead a healthy life.
“It’s common knowledge that VA claims their motto is — for those that are veterans — is ‘Delay, deny until they die.’ And believe me, I’ve felt all of that,” said Rabush.

Chesterton said 87 percent of the people who work in the office are veterans, and they grant benefits as the law allows.

The Disabled American Veterans office is working with congressional leaders to craft legislation to prevent similar issues in the future.


‘No Bugs, More Food?’ Parent Finds GMO Propaganda In Common Core Science Book

Over the last couple of years, some parents have become cautious of what foods to feed their children, especially with the discovery that genetically modified (GM) foods may be hazardous to a child’s health. The Inquisitr has assisted these parents by reporting on the latest pertaining to GM foods, which could start as early as infancy with GM baby formula and continuing to elementary school with lunch milk containing GM bovine growth hormone (rBGH).

As a result, cautious parents are reporting pros with their children on GM-free diets, and no-GM product businesses, such as Chick-fil-A and Chipotle, are prospering.

However, parents aren’t the only ones who assist in a child’s upbringing, though they should be the most important. Following the old phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child,” teachers accompany in a child’s development, eight hours a day, five days a week, on average. Sometimes, what they teach is in defiance to a parent’s lessons. In this case, a parent is upset that children are being taught genetically modified organism (GMO) propaganda in sixth grade.

According to AltHealth Works, Dawn Jordan, a parent in Missouri (Monsanto’s home state), was shocked to find a section in her niece’s science book, Science: A Closer Look, dedicated to GMOs, specifically GM crops. The section touted four positive bullet points about GMOs which are listed below.

*GMOs can produce more food.
*GMOs have more nutrients.
*GMOs fight disease and insects.
*GMOs need fewer chemical pesticides.

Of course, none of the negatives discovered through scientific testing and research have been included in the textbook. Also, the teacher assisted in the GMO agenda by writing in an answer for one of the questions that asked children to list three ways GMOs could be helpful to humans. Dawn Jordan provides a statement on the teacher’s assistance in promoting GMOs.

“When my niece sent me her homework, I noticed her teacher wrote ‘no bugs, more food’ as a suggestion to her as to what to write about… which disgusts me that a teacher in a public school system has no knowledge whatsoever on the actual truth about GMOs and is merely doing what she is told, without proper research first.”

In a follow-up article by Buy Non-GMO Seeds, it reports that the textbook is published by McGraw-Hill, and is being distributed to schools across the country. It is unknown how many of the books were actually distributed.

This is not the first time Monsanto or another pro-GMO organization or entity has influenced the children of America to support their agenda. Monsanto funded the production of a coloring book titled Look Closer to Biotechnology that was riddled with pro-GMO propaganda. A heavily-biased activity book that listed alleged positives of GMOs but none of the negatives would have been distributed among the public if it weren’t for activists. Summarized, this isn’t the first time Monsanto has attempted to manipulate the minds of children in their favor, and it won’t be the last.

To all you parents out there, now that you’ve read of Monsanto’s agenda of teaching your children about GMOs in their favor, what are your views? Do you find Monsanto and GMOs to be an issue best stopped through education, or are activists just paranoid?


5 Shocking Facts About GMOs

One alarming aspect of the whole GMO debate is the fact that so many Americans are going about their daily lives completely unaware that they are consuming genetically modified organisms at just about every meal. The reason I know this is because I used to be one of them.

So what are GMOs and why should we be concerned about them?

A GMO or genetically modified organism is created by merging the DNA from different species to create an organism; plant, animal, bacteria or virus which cannot be produced in nature or through traditional crossbreeding. It can bring about the production of foods that taste better, have longer shelf lives, or withstand harsh growing conditions.

Sounds harmless enough right? And even a good idea. But this isn’t the whole story, much as big food companies would like you to think it is. There are reasons why we should be extremely wary of consuming any food that has been genetically altered. Here are five of them:

1 GMOs are unhealthy: Since the introduction of GMOs in the mid-1990s, the number of food allergies has sky-rocketed, and health issues such as autism, digestive problems and reproductive disorders are on the rise. Animal testing with GMOs has resulted in cases of organ failure, digestive disorders, infertility and accelerated aging. Despite an announcement in 2012 by the American Medical Association stating they saw no reason for labeling genetically modified foods, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for their patients.

2 They increase herbicide use: When Monsanto came up with the idea for Round-up Ready crops, the theory was to make the crops resistant to the pesticide that would normally kill them. This meant the farmers could spray the crops, killing the surrounding weeds and pests without doing any harm to the crops themselves. However, after a number of years have passed, many weeds and pests have themselves become resistant to the spray, and herbicide-use increased (both in amount and strength) by 11% between 1996 and 2011. Which translates to – lots more pesticide residue in our foods – yum!

3 They are everywhere! GMOs make up about 70-80% of our foods in the United States. Most foods that contain GMOs are processed foods. But they also exist in the form of fresh vegetables such as corn on the cob, papaya and squash. The prize for the top two most genetically modified crops in the United States goes to corn and soy. Think about how many foods in your pantry or refrigerator contain corn or its byproducts (high fructose corn syrup) or soy and its byproducts (partially hydrogenated soybean oil).

4 GM crops don’t ensure larger harvests. As it turns out, GMO crop yields are not as promising as some projections implied. In fact, in some instances, they have been out-yielded by their non-GMO counterparts. This conclusion was reached in a 20 year study carried out by the University of Wisconsin and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thus negating one of the main arguments in favor of GMOs.

5 U.S. Labeling suppression: Many of the companies who have an interest in keeping GMOs on the market don’t want you to know which foods contain them. For this reason, they have suppressed recent attempts by states such as California and Washington to require labeling of GMO products. And since they have deep pockets, they were successful – for now. The companies who spent the most on these campaigns are Monsanto (who produces the GMO seeds), and Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nestle and General Mills, who produce some of the most processed foods in existence. Incidentally, most other developed countries such as the nations of the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and China have mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. Food for thought!

So, if you don’t wish to partake of GMO foods, what can you do? First and foremost, buy organic. The USDA has strict guidelines for producers of organic foods which restrict them from using any GMO products in their foods.

If a food is not organically grown, look for a Non-GMO Project Label which certifies that it has been tested and found to have less than 0.9% GMO-contamination.

At Viance, we are convinced that eating a clean, contaminant-free diet is essential in achieving good health and vibrancy. That is why we do not allow any genetically modified organisms in any of our products.


Service-Connected Disability Compensation For Exposure To Agent Orange for Veterans and Their Families

Agent Orange is a highly toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military during the
Vietnam War to defoliate hiding places used by the Viet Cong, rice paddies
and fields that provided them with food, and to clear the perimeters of military
bases to give service members a clear line of fire. Although colorless, it is
known as “Agent Orange” because of an orange band painted on the drums
used to store and transport it.

After years of advocacy led by VVA, Congress enacted into law the Agent
Orange Act of 1991. This legislation empowered the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs to declare certain maladies “presumptive” to exposure to Agent Orange/
dioxin and enable Vietnam veterans, as well as some veterans who served along
the demilitarized zone in Korea in the late 1960s, to receive treatment and
compensation for these health conditions. Service-connected benefits, however,
also may be granted for other maladies not recognized as presumptive health

John Rowan
National President
Vietnam Veterans of America

Guide Here PDF