GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

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The Biotech Bully of St. Louis
Coexistence With Monsanto? Hell No!

By RONNIE CUMMINS

After 16 years of non-stop biotech bullying and force-feeding Genetically Engineered or Modified (GE or GM) crops to farm animals and “Frankenfoods” to unwitting consumers, Monsanto has a big problem, or rather several big problems. A growing number of published scientific studies indicate that GE foods pose serious human health threats. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently stated that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM advises consumers to avoid GM foods. Before the FDA arbitrarily decided to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into food products in 1994, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can set off serious, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored.

Federal judges are finally starting to acknowledge what organic farmers and consumers have said all along: uncontrollable and unpredictable GMO crops such as alfalfa and sugar beets spread their mutant genes onto organic farms and into non-GMO varieties and plant relatives, and should be halted.

An appeals court recently ruled that consumers have the right to know whether the dairy products they are purchasing are derived from cows injected with Monsanto’s (now Elanco’s) controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), linked to serious animal health problems and increased cancer risk for humans.

Monsanto’s Roundup, the agro-toxic companion herbicide for millions of acres of GM soybeans, corn, cotton, alfalfa, canola, and sugar beets, is losing market share. Its overuse has spawned a new generation of superweeds that can only be killed with super-toxic herbicides such as 2,4, D and paraquat. Moreover, patented “Roundup Ready” crops require massive amounts of climate destabilizing nitrate fertilizer. Compounding Monsanto’s damage to the environment and climate, rampant Roundup use is literally killing the soil, destroying essential soil microorganisms, degrading the living soil’s ability to capture and sequester CO2, and spreading deadly plant diseases.

In just one year, Monsanto has moved from being Forbes’ “Company of the Year” to the Worst Stock of the Year. The Biotech Bully of St. Louis has become one of the most hated corporations on Earth.

Monsanto and their agro-toxic allies are now turning to Obama’s pro-biotech USDA for assistance. They want the organic community to stop suing them and boycotting their products. They want food activists and the OCA to mute our criticisms and stop tarnishing the image of their brands, their seeds, and companies. They want us to resign ourselves to the fact that one-third of U.S. croplands, and one-tenth of global cultivated acreage, are already contaminated with GMOs. That’s why Monsanto recently hired the notorious mercenary firm, Blackwater, to spy on us. That’s why Monsanto has teamed up with the Gates Foundation to bribe government officials and scientists and spread GMOs throughout Africa and the developing world. That’s why the biotech bullies and the Farm Bureau have joined hands with the Obama Administration to preach their new doctrine of “coexistence.”

“Coexistence” or Cooptation?

The Agriculture Department is dutifully drafting a comprehensive “coexistence policy” that supposedly will diffuse tensions between conventional (chemical but non-GMO), biotech, and organic farmers. Earlier this week industry and Administration officials met in Washington, D.C. to talk about coexistence. Even though the Organic Consumers Association tried to get into the meeting, we were told we weren’t welcome. The powers that be claim that the OCA doesn’t meet their criteria of being “stakeholders.” The unifying theme in these closed-door meetings is apparently that Monsanto and the other biotech companies will set aside a “compensation” fund to reimburse organic farmers whose crops or fields get contaminated. That way we’ll all be happy. Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, and Dupont will continue planting their hazardous crops and force-feeding animals and consumers with GMOs. Organic farmers and companies willing to cooperate will get a little compensation or “hush money.” But of course our response to Monsanto and the USDA’s plan, as you might have guessed, is hell no!

There can be no such thing as “coexistence” with a reckless and monopolistic industry that harms human health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world’s 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. Enough talk of coexistence. We need a new regime that empowers consumers, small farmers, and the organic community. We need a new set of rules, based on “truth-in-labeling” and the “precautionary principle” –- consumer and farmer-friendly regulations that are basically already in place in the European Union—so that “we the people” can regain control over Monsanto, indentured politicians, and the presently out-of-control technology of genetic engineering.

Truth-in-Labeling: Monsanto and the Biotech Industry’s Greatest Fear

In practical terms coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union, the largest agricultural market in the world, is a non-issue. Why? Because there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor consumer food products on supermarket shelves, in the EU, period. And why is this? There are almost no GMOs in Europe, because under EU law, as demanded by consumers, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to consume GMOs, while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are labeled. Of course consumers, for the most part, do not want to consume GM Frankenfoods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the axiom expressed by the Monsanto executive at the beginning of this article: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

The biotech industry and Food Inc. are acutely aware of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don’t want to be part of an involuntary food safety experiment. You don’t want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by profit-at-any-cost chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont—the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress, much less allowing such legislation to be put up for a vote. Obama (and Hilary Clinton) campaign operatives in 2008 claimed that Obama supported mandatory labels for GMOs, but we haven’t heard a word from the White House on this topic since Inauguration Day.

Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) introduces a bill in every Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don’t hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers’ right to know what’s in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called “Citizens United” case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.

Therefore we need to shift our focus and go local. We’ve got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.

Millions Against Monsanto: Launching a Nationwide Truth-in-Labeling Campaign, Starting with Local City Council Ordinances or Ballot Initiatives

Early in 2011 the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, plans to launch a nationwide campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans. Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure retailers to implement “truth-in-labeling” practices; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances or ballot initiatives similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we will gather petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. Stay tuned for details, but please send an email to: information@organicconsumers.org if you’re interesting in helping organize a truth-in-labeling campaign in your local community. Millions Against Monsanto.

Power to the people!

Ronnie Cummins is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association.

http://www.counterpunch.org/cummins12242010.html

Jeffrey Smith

Author and Founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology
Posted: April 20, 2010 12:32 PM

This study was just routine," said Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov, in what could end up as the understatement of this century. Surov and his colleagues set out to discover if Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction. What he discovered may uproot a multi-billion dollar industry.

After feeding hamsters for two years over three generations, those on the GM diet, and especially the group on the maximum GM soy diet, showed devastating results. By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies. They also suffered slower growth, and a high mortality rate among the pups.

And if this isn't shocking enough, some in the third generation even had hair growing inside their mouths—a phenomenon rarely seen, but apparently more prevalent among hamsters eating GM soy.

The study, jointly conducted by Surov's Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security, is expected to be published in three months (July 2010)—so the technical details will have to wait. But Surov sketched out the basic set up for me in an email.

He used Campbell hamsters, with a fast reproduction rate, divided into 4 groups. All were fed a normal diet, but one was without any soy, another had non-GM soy, a third used GM soy, and a fourth contained higher amounts of GM soy. They used 5 pairs of hamsters per group, each of which produced 7-8 litters, totally 140 animals.

Surov told The Voice of Russia,

"Originally, everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs' growth rate was slower and reached their sexual maturity slowly."

He selected new pairs from each group, which generated another 39 litters. There were 52 pups born to the control group and 78 to the non-GM soy group. In the GM soy group, however, only 40 pups were born. And of these, 25% died. This was a fivefold higher death rate than the 5% seen among the controls. Of the hamsters that ate high GM soy content, only a single female hamster gave birth. She had 16 pups; about 20% died.

Surov said "The low numbers in F2 [third generation] showed that many animals were sterile."

The published paper will also include measurements of organ size for the third generation animals, including testes, spleen, uterus, etc. And if the team can raise sufficient funds, they will also analyze hormone levels in collected blood samples.

Hair Growing in the Mouth

Earlier this year, Surov co-authored a paper in Doklady Biological Sciences showing that in rare instances, hair grows inside recessed pouches in the mouths of hamsters.

"Some of these pouches contained single hairs; others, thick bundles of colorless or pigmented hairs reaching as high as the chewing surface of the teeth. Sometimes, the tooth row was surrounded with a regular brush of hair bundles on both sides. The hairs grew vertically and had sharp ends, often covered with lumps of a mucous."

(The photos of these hair bundles are truly disgusting. Trust me, or look for yourself.)

At the conclusion of the study, the authors surmise that such an astounding defect may be due to the diet of hamsters raised in the laboratory. They write, "This pathology may be exacerbated by elements of the food that are absent in natural food, such as genetically modified (GM) ingredients (GM soybean or maize meal) or contaminants (pesticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals, etc.)." Indeed, the number of hairy mouthed hamsters was much higher among the third generation of GM soy fed animals than anywhere Surov had seen before.

Preliminary, but Ominous

Surov warns against jumping to early conclusions. He said, "It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself." Surov wants to make the analysis of the feed components a priority, to discover just what is causing the effect and how.

In addition to the GMOs, it could be contaminants, he said, or higher herbicide residues, such as Roundup. There is in fact much higher levels of Roundup on these beans; they're called "Roundup Ready." Bacterial genes are forced into their DNA so that the plants can tolerate Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Therefore, GM soy always carries the double threat of higher herbicide content, couple with any side effects of genetic engineering.

Years of Reproductive Disorders from GMO-Feed

Surov's hamsters are just the latest animals to suffer from reproductive disorders after consuming GMOs. In 2005, Irina Ermakova, also with the Russian National Academy of Sciences, reported that more than half the babies from mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. This was also five times higher than the 10% death rate of the non-GMO soy group. The babies in the GM group were also smaller (see photo) and could not reproduce.

In a telling coincidence, after Ermakova's feeding trials, her laboratory started feeding all the rats in the facility a commercial rat chow using GM soy. Within two months, the infant mortality facility-wide reached 55%.

When Ermakova fed male rats GM soy, their testicles changed from the normal pink to dark blue! Italian scientists similarly found changes in mice testes (PDF), including damaged young sperm cells. Furthermore, the DNA of embryos from parent mice fed GM soy functioned differently.

An Austrian government study published in November 2008 showed that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer the babies they had (PDF), and the smaller the babies were.

Central Iowa Farmer Jerry Rosman also had trouble with pigs and cows becoming sterile. Some of his pigs even had false pregnancies or gave birth to bags of water. After months of investigations and testing, he finally traced the problem to GM corn feed. Every time a newspaper, magazine, or TV show reported Jerry's problems, he would receive calls from more farmers complaining of livestock sterility on their farm, linked to GM corn.

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine accidentally discovered that rats raised on corncob bedding "neither breed nor exhibit reproductive behavior." Tests on the corn material revealed two compounds that stopped the sexual cycle in females "at concentrations approximately two-hundredfold lower than classical phytoestrogens." One compound also curtailed male sexual behavior and both substances contributed to the growth of breast and prostate cancer cell cultures. Researchers found that the amount of the substances varied with GM corn varieties. The crushed corncob used at Baylor was likely shipped from central Iowa, near the farm of Jerry Rosman and others complaining of sterile livestock.

In Haryana, India, a team of investigating veterinarians report that buffalo consuming GM cottonseed suffer from infertility, as well as frequent abortions, premature deliveries, and prolapsed uteruses. Many adult and young buffalo have also died mysteriously.

Denial, Attack and Canceled Follow-up

Scientists who discover adverse findings from GMOs are regularly attacked, ridiculed, denied funding, and even fired. When Ermakova reported the high infant mortality among GM soy fed offspring, for example, she appealed to the scientific community to repeat and verify her preliminary results. She also sought additional funds to analyze preserved organs. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Samples were stolen from her lab, papers were burnt on her desk, and she said that her boss, under pressure from his boss, told her to stop doing any more GMO research. No one has yet repeated Ermakova's simple, inexpensive studies.

In an attempt to offer her sympathy, one of her colleagues suggested that maybe the GM soy will solve the over population problem!

Surov reports that so far, he has not been under any pressure.

Opting Out of the Massive GMO Feeding Experiment

Without detailed tests, no one can pinpoint exactly what is causing the reproductive travesties in Russian hamsters and rats, Italian and Austrian mice, and livestock in India and America. And we can only speculate about the relationship between the introduction of genetically modified foods in 1996, and the corresponding upsurge in low birth weight babies, infertility, and other problems among the US population. But many scientists, physicians, and concerned citizens don't think that the public should remain the lab animals for the biotech industry's massive uncontrolled experiment.

Alexey Surov says, "We have no right to use GMOs until we understand the possible adverse effects, not only to ourselves but to future generations as well. We definitely need fully detailed studies to clarify this. Any type of contamination has to be tested before we consume it, and GMO is just one of them."

International bestselling author and filmmaker Jeffrey M. Smith is the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. His first book, Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating, is the world's bestselling and #1 rated book on GMOs. His second, Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, documents 65 health risks of the GM foods Americans eat everyday. Both are distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing. To help you choose healthier, non-GMO brands, use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/genetically-modified-soy_b_5...

4 Ways to identify genetically modified fruits and vegetables at the supermarket.

1. Look at the PLU sticker on the food.
• If it has 4 numbers (i.e., 4017), it’s conventional grown.
• If it has 5 numbers starting with a 9, it was organically grown
• and 5 numbers starting with an 8, means GMO (Genetically Modified Organism).

2. Buy local and talk to your farmers. It’s estimated that 85% of prepackaged foods contain GMOs.

3. Avoid the top 4 GMO crops, which are soy, corn, canola, and cotton seed.

4. Encourage your favourite food manufacturers to label their foods GMO free.

An organic farmer on Monsanto, "They have no corporate stewardship. They have no proper regard for their fellow man."

GM Crops Cause Organ Damage.

The shelves of our grocery stores are filled with genetically-modified (GM) vegetables, also known as Frankenfood. But what's scariest about Frankenfood is not simply that scientists are manipulating DNA, but that they are not testing it before the food is sold to the public to be consumed!

Tell the FDA to take GM corn off the market and put safety over profits

As Monsanto prepares to unleash it's latest GM corn supergroup, a recent study in the International Journal of Biological Sciences has shown that the crops caused kidney and liver damage, and some heart, adrenal, spleen and blood damage and rats. Yet the corn has been approved for human consumption in the U.S. Take GM foods off the shelves >>

Several countries in Europe, such as Germany and France, have already banned GM crops. But the U.S. FDA has done us a potential dangerous disservice by simply taking Monsanto's word that their GM crops are safe and not doing any testing!

The FDA is putting the American people at risk. Tell the FDA to take these genetically modified corn varieties off the shelves until a study can determine if they are safe for human consumption

Take action link: http://www.care2.com/go/z/e/AFue4/zkI1/DEVG

The difference between organic eggs and LOCAL organic eggs

Eggs are one of the most beneficial foods you can eat, and it's a shame they've been vilified for so long in the United States. In the U. S., roughly 280 million birds give us about 75 billion eggs per year, which is about 10 percent of the world supply.

But not all eggs are created equal.

Eggs from truly organic, free-range chickens are FAR less likely to contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, and their nutrient content is also much higher than commercially raised eggs.

The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.

If you are eating organically, then you have learned how important the diet and care of an animal is to the quality of its meat, and in this case, their eggs. But have you ever thought about what happens to these eggs AFTER they are collected?

You would think that organic eggs would be your best choice when picking them up at the grocery store. However, most states have laws that make them illegal unless all the eggs that are sold commercially are processed in a way that could damage them.

Some states require that all eggs receive a chlorine bath and mineral oil coating before they are nestled into their cartons.

There are vast differences in how eggs are processed and handled, even under the "certified organic" label.

As it turns out, what happens outside the shell is as important as what happens inside the shell, and that is the focus of this report.

Your Egg's Journey from Hen to Market

Ideally, eggs should be processed the day after they are laid. The USDA requires processing within 30 days of lay. High quality eggs are processed within seven days of lay.

Egg processing involves the following six steps:

1. Egg collecting
2. Cooling
3. Cleaning/Disinfecting
4. Candling (a measure for assessing the interior quality of the eggs whereby eggs are held up in front of a high-intensity light and visually examined; among other problems, cracks can be identified that necessitate disposal of the egg)
5. Grading
6. Packing/Labeling

It is the cleaning process that you as a consumer should be aware of, because in this step, chemicals and contaminants may be introduced that compromise your eggs' quality.

Why Eggshells are Like Your Skin

Did you know that, like your skin, eggshells are actually a porous membrane rather than an impermeable barrier?

An eggshell contains approximately 7,500 pores or openings. The outer surface is covered with a waxy cuticle (called the bloom when on a chicken egg), sealing the egg and helping prevent bacteria from entering.

Gases are transferred and moisture is lost through these pores.

When moisture is lost, carbon dioxide is also lost, speeding up the breakdown of the egg.[i] Loss of carbon dioxide causes the egg's pH to increase, which results in thinning of the albumen.

Why is this important?

Because commercial processing regularly destroys this protective cuticle.

As it turns out, it is standard industry practice to wash chicken eggs. Depending on the method of washing, the cuticle can be easily damaged, which leaves your eggs vulnerable to contamination and faster spoilage. The egg industry knows this, so to replace what Mother Nature put there for good reason, they must coat the egg with something—often mineral oil. It's akin to adding preservatives to processed foods.

Not only is mineral oil a non-natural agent, but it's a petroleum product that was never intended for you to eat.

Some egg producers use vegetable oil as a more natural alternative.

If you are a culinary talent, you might be surprised to hear that using eggs whose shells were oiled will prevent those "stiff peaks" from happening, because some percentage of the oil seeps into the egg white.

Not all eggs undergo oiling, but many larger producers do, particularly if they are preparing their eggs for long-distance shipment and/or storage.

According to the "incredible edible egg[ii]" website, about 10 percent of all eggs are oiled. I could find no statistic about what percentage of eggs are cleaned in a way that their cuticle has been wiped out, but I suspect it is much higher than 10 percent.

Like your skin, what's put ON your egg goes INTO your egg. Meaning, whatever the eggshell comes into contact with can cross over this semi-permeable membrane and end up in your scrambled eggs, from chlorine to mineral oil to dish soap -- to salmonella.

Your Organic Eggs May Be Chlorinated or Rinsed in Lye

According to A Guide to On-Farm Processing for Organic Producers: Table Eggs[iii], detergents and other chemicals used for "wet cleaning" eggs must either be non-synthetic or among the allowed synthetics on the National List of allowed non-agricultural substances (205.603 of the National Organic Standard).

These synthetics include:

* Chlorine (sodium hypochlorate)
* Potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide (lye)
* Sodium carbonate
* Ozone
* Hydrogen peroxide
* Peracetic acid (peroxyacetic acid) -- a mixture of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide

These agents serve mostly as sanitizers, rather than washing agents.

If chlorine is used at levels over 4 ppm, it must be followed with a clean water rinse at no more than 4 ppm residual levels. Chlorine itself is relatively benign and breaks down to chloride in your body -- which is not much different from the chloride ion in table salt.

However, chlorine can interact with organic materials to form highly toxic compounds called DBPs (Disinfection Byproducts), which can be carcinogenic and mutagenic. And eggs are an "organic material," which bears the question of what chemical interactions are occurring in a chlorinated egg that have yet to be discovered?

Instead of harsh chemicals, the guide cited above recommends cleaning eggs with plain vinegar (mixed with 3 parts water) because it is non-synthetic and quite effective at removing both bacteria and stains on the eggshells (which some people find objectionable).

Some farmers report rinsing eggs very quickly in water, just to dislodge any debris, and believe this is adequate. Others use a dry brushing process -- no liquids at all -- just a brush, sandpaper, or a loofah sponge.

This dry brushing technique is highly recommended for small producers.

If eggs are rinsed in water, it is very important that the wash water be about 20 degrees warmer than the eggs, and at least 90 degrees F, but not more than 40 degrees above the eggs' temperature because of the risk of thermal cracking. This proper temperature gradient encourages the contents of the egg to swell and push the dirt out of the pores.

If the water is too cold relative to the egg, the egg can literally "suck in" the washing solution -- along with the bacteria in it. Water exposure should be as brief as possible to minimize the potential for contamination, and the eggs dried immediately.

Mineral oil is not listed in the National List of allowed substances.

I think it is unlikely that an organic farmer would choose to use mineral oil, but the regulations are so variable from state to state, and the national guidelines so nebulous, that there is lots of wiggle room.

Scrambled Federal and State Regulations on Eggs

There are different federal and state regulations for egg farmers, depending on what the eggs are intended for.

Eggs that are going to be used in egg products (i.e., those that will be cracked and emptied) are subjected to one set of regulations, and eggs that are sold as "table eggs" or "shell eggs," which are sold fresh and whole "in the shell," are subject to another set of regulations.

And then there are state regulations, in addition to federal regulations.

In 1970, Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act (administered by the USDA) to ensure that eggs and egg products are safe for consumption. This act imposes specific inspection requirements for both shell eggs and egg products for anyone who sells eggs to retailers (grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, etc.).

In 1972, on-site inspections of all shell egg producers became required quarterly. However, any producer with a flock of less than 3,000 birds is EXEMPT from this act.

Every state has its own specific egg laws, which makes it more complicated to figure out what process your eggs have gone through. Although the USDA does not allow immersion washing (allowing eggs to soak in water), most small producers are not subject to those restrictions.

And most state egg laws do not specify washing methods.

For an extensive list of egg regulatory agencies, you can refer to this USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service "fact sheet."

Egg Cleaners and Sanitizers

According to the USDA's publication "Guidance for Shell Egg Cleaners and Sanitizers"[iv]:

"Compounds used to wash and destain shell eggs are potential food additives. Therefore, they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Unfortunately, FDA does not have any published regulations dealing with shell egg cleaning and destaining compounds."

Leaves it wide open, doesn't it?

The publication goes on to give some guidelines for egg cleaning chemicals, basically instructing farmers to use substances that are "GRAS" (Generally Recognized as Safe), but these substances are not limited in any way.

Since organic egg producers are interested in producing high-quality eggs, many of them—especially small, local farming operations—have implemented gentle washing methods that don't compromise the cuticle.

Interestingly, in Europe, Grade A eggs are not washed. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service[v]:

"This practice is a result of research done in the early 1900s that indicated washing eggs before storage resulted in unpredictable and sometimes deleterious results. However, the length of wash time, cleanliness and temperature of the water and the proper use of sanitizers varied widely in these studies.

Older egg production books do not recommend washing eggs at all. In the past, it was important to protect the cuticle because refrigeration was not always possible."

To Refrigerate or Not to Refrigerate

Despite what you've heard, eggs that are fresh and have an intact cuticle do not need to be refrigerated, as long as you are going to consume them within a relatively short period of time.

In other countries, including most of Europe, eggs are frequently not refrigerated.

In the U.S., refrigeration of eggs became the cultural norm when mass production caused eggs to travel long distances and sit in storage for weeks to months before arriving at your superstore. The general lack of cleanliness of factory farms has increased the likelihood that your eggs have come into contact with pathogens, amplifying the need for disinfection and refrigeration.

Not only that, but as a culture, we are rather "germ phobic" here in the U.S., compared to other countries.

So, IF your eggs are very fresh, and IF their cuticle is intact, you do not have to refrigerate them. According to Hilary Thesmar, director of the American Egg Board's Egg Safety Center[vi]:

"The bottom line is shelf life. The shelf life for an unrefrigerated egg is 7 to 10 days and for refrigerated, it's 30 to 45 days. A good rule of thumb is one day at room temperature is equal to one week under refrigeration."

Eggs purchased from grocery stores are typically already three weeks old, or older. USDA certified eggs must have a pack date on the carton, and a sell-by date. Realize that the eggs were often laid many days prior to the pack date.

For cracking the egg carton dates code, click here.

For more information about how to maximize the health benefits of your eggs, please review my earlier article.

Hello, Big Farma

About 95 percent of the eggs produced in the U.S. come from gigantic egg factories housing millions of hens under one roof.

According to the American Egg Board:

* Prior to World War II, most egg production came from farm flocks of less than 400 hens. By the early 1960s, technological innovations caused a shift from small farms to huge commercial operations.
* There are currently about 245 egg companies with flocks of 75,000 or more.
* Of these 245 companies, 60 have at least one million laying hens, and 12 have more than 5 million hens.

You can only imagine how difficult -- if not impossible -- it is to keep 5 million hens healthy and happy, under one roof... a clucking nightmare!

This is just another reason you should buy from your local organic farmer.

According to Robert Plamondon's Poultry Pages[vii], the most common sources of dirty eggs are the following:

* Hens who sleep and poop in the nest boxes
* Hens who enter the nests with muddy feet
* Broken eggs (from insufficient nest litter, or too many hens jammed together)
* Traffic (too many hens coming and going in a small area)

It is much easier to produce clean eggs than to clean dirty eggs.

Preventing dirty eggs is best done through better management of the hens and their nesting spaces, which greatly reduces the need for egg cleaning in the first place.

As the guide states, "Disease prevention in organic systems starts with clean birds." Your egg farmer should be paying attention to proper nutrition, clean water, adequate housing space, and good ventilation to reduce stress on the hens and support their immunity.

Crowded conditions in factory farms are a major reason why so many commercial eggs have to be bathed in caustic chemicals in order to be "safe" for you to eat!

How Can You Guarantee Clean, Fresh Eggs?

So, how can you tell if your eggs have been washed in chlorine or lye, or in some other chemical, or coated with mineral oil?

You certainly can't tell by looking at them.

The only way to know if your eggs have been washed or oiled (and using what agents) is to ask the producer -- and the only way to do that is to buy from small local farmers you have direct contact with.

It is important to know where your food comes from. And if you don't ask, they won't tell you.

The key here is to buy your eggs locally. About the only time I purchase eggs from the store is when I am travelling or for some reason I miss my local egg pickup.

But finding high quality organic eggs locally is FAR easier than finding raw milk as virtually every rural area has individuals with chickens. If you live in an urban area visiting the local health food stores is typically the quickest route to finding the high quality local egg sources.

Farmers markets are another great way to meet the people who produce your food. With face-to-face contact, you can get your questions answered and know exactly what you're buying. Better yet, visit the farm -- ask for a tour. If they have nothing to hide, they should be eager to show you their operation.

Remember, clean and happy chickens lead to healthy eggs.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/06/08/why-you-do...