Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

The precision, complexity, and all-pervasiveness of natural genetic modification leave organisms and ecosystems particularly vulnerable to artificial genetic modification.

by Dr Mae-Wan Ho

Invited lecture at 1st Forum of Development and Environmental Safety, under the theme “Food Safety and Sustainable Agriculture 2014”, 25 – 26 July 2014, Beijing, China.

A fully referenced version of this article is posted on ISIS members website and is otherwise available for download here, or with the accompanying powerpoint presentation here.

The new genetics and natural genetic modification

Genetics has been turned upside down beginning the mid-1970s and especially since the human genome was announced in 2000. The tools of genetic manipulation have been advancing and improving in leaps and bounds. Today, geneticists can dissect and analyse the structure and function of genes and genomes in minute detail down to the base sequence of a nucleic acid in one single cell using ‘next generation deep sequencing’ (see Box 1 reproduced from [1]).

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Posted by & filed under Urban Projects.

All photos © Craig Mackintosh

This is not your usual drinking establishment. There’s no music, no dancing, no lights — not even any discussion. And, as the title of this article suggests, all the guests are — as is sometimes the case in drinking establishments — rather slippery characters. But, despite the general dinginess of the place, there are often even queues to get in!

In this article I want to share some successes with slug beer traps, and tell you how you can easily make a very effective trap — by simply repurposing the plastic 1.5 or 2 litre drink bottles that are always too easy to find.

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Posted by & filed under Urban Projects.

This is the first article I’ve written for PermacultureNews.Org, and I’d like to share some Urban Permaculture experiences from Córdoba, Argentina.

One of the most exciting things about Permaculture design principles is that they invite us to improve our environment no matter where we live. However, up until now, the predominant image of Permaculture in Argentina (possibly in many places) is “the countryside”. When I completed my PDC in a semi-rural location here in Argentina, one of the course instructors told us on our first day that we are all part of an “urban exodus”, a movement of city people back to the land. This was, in my view, a bad message for the first day of the course. Most of the course participants were city dwellers, and if the instructor had asked, he would have found that moving out of (or escaping from) the city was not a priority that everyone shared.

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Posted by & filed under Markets & Outlets, Village Development.

Imagine that your small farm or food hub just hired a new employee. Her name is Susan. But she’s not just any employee, she’s an electronic one.

Susan’s the best you’ve ever hired. She does exactly as instructed. She works 24×7, 365 days a year. She’s never grumpy, never calls in sick and never gets tired. She never takes shortcuts and her wage is only pennies per hour.

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Posted by & filed under General.

Photographer Alexey Kljatov takes incredible close-up photos of snowflakes in his backyard in Moscow.

I capture snowflakes on the open balcony of my house, mostly on glass surface, lighted by an LED flashlight from the opposite side of the glass, and sometimes in natural light, using dark woolen fabrics as background.

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Posted by & filed under Alternatives to Political Systems, Consumerism, Eco-Villages, Economics, People Systems, Society, Village Development.

Not socialism, not capitalism… distributism seeks community power.

by Jay Walljasper, On the Commons

Conservatives, progressives and everyone else
likes farmers’ markets, local food,
mom-and-pop stores and other qualities of a
thriving community. Can they all connect
around the commons? (Photo of the Barberton,
Ohio, Downtown Farmers’ Market by the
Barberton Community Foundation under a
Creative Commons license.)

In the early-to-mid-20th Century the Distributists — led by English authors G.K. Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc — took a dim view of both socialism and corporate capitalism. As conservatives they did, however, believe in private property — so much they thought it should be “distributed” as widely as possible among the whole population.

At its root, the Distributist movement sought a practical, community-oriented alternative to the inequality of capitalism and the bureaucracy of socialism. To fulfill this vision, Distributists advocated for family farms, family-run businesses, a return to craftsmanship and community self-reliance. When large enterprises were inevitable, such as industrial factories, they advocated worker-run cooperatives to give people a greater share of ownership.

Chesterton noted, “There is less difference than many suppose between the ideal socialist system, in which the big businesses are run by the state, and the present capitalist system, in which the state is run by the big businesses. They are much nearer to each other than either is to my own ideal; of breaking up the big businesses into a multitude of small businesses.”

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Posted by & filed under Markets & Outlets, Processing & Food Preservation, Village Development.

After several months of making tofu and soymilk weekly for ourselves and some customers, I thought I would share the process and costs.

We source our soybeans from Slater Farm in Fairy Hill, NSW, Australia. The beans are biodynamic certified which is very important; avoiding biocides, GMOs, hopefully most fossil fuel fertilisers, and are not irrigated. They are semi-local, about 200km from us. We buy at least 200 kg a time so transport costs/impacts are very low. This will be enough for a year and they store very well.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Health & Disease, Medicinal Plants, Society, Village Development.

A mission to revive and promote traditional health care systems — Guni traditions — in India.


Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healthcare known to mankind. Much of the medicinal use of plants developed through observations of wild animals, and by trial and error. As time went on, each tribe added the medicinal power of herbs in their area to its knowledge base. With industrialization and urbanization, this store house of information has depleted considerably. However, certain groups of indigenous people have closely guarded this valuable information. One such group in India is the Guni, or Traditional Health Practitioners, and other such groups scattered in various countries. Rashtriya Guni Mission in its effort towards revitalizing traditional health systems has been identifying these traditional health practitioners (Gunis) in order to re-establish a medical system that is indigenous, easily accessible, effective and affordable.

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Posted by & filed under Urban Projects.

Dear friends, we believe we have an interesting urban gardening story to share.

We are Sandra and Drazen from Zagreb, Croatia. Our permaculture interest began two years ago when I (Sandra) fell and broke a leg during a recreational badminton match. The recovery process took three months, so I had enough time to forget all work-related stresses, to read a lot and search the internet.

One morning I found and those were wow moments — a revelation that there is a genuine way to tackle personal and world problems and that all problems can be solved in the garden. I’ve been reading the site ever since.

My husband shared this enthusiasm, so we started contemplating leaving the city and buying our own piece of land to put our new knowledge into practice — as is probably the case with many who start reading, learning and absorbing permaculture knowledge and expand this to aspects of health/disease, community problems, real food revolution, consumerism, peak oil, agriculture, climate change, politics….

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Posted by & filed under Compost, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition.

by Aaron Jerad

It’s dark. You are surrounded by giant flesh eating amoebas. You can’t move very fast…. Welcome to the world of the bacteria, the smallest but most abundant member of the soil food web. Often feared but essential, whether directly or indirectly, for the survival of almost all other living organisms on earth.

Cover cropping, mulching and composting are three great ways to build soil. In this photo
Lance Swiggert explains his composting system. You can see many stages of the composting
process. In the far back is a rough pile of weeds and dead plants which have been removed
from the garden. In the foreground is a freshly made pile, with layers of old hay, manure and
other organic matter. To the left is a pile that has been turned. Lance is standing by a finished pile
of compost that he has run through a shredder. It is ready to go into the garden.

The Soil

Good soil is alive soil. It’s texture is a balanced mix of clay, silt and sand called loam. It has a high percent of organic material and humus. Not to be mistaken for hummus, the yummy middle eastern chick pea dish, humus is super-food for the soil. It is organic material that can not be broken down any further and can remain stable for many years. Humus is created by composting, the decomposition of organic matter. Good structure, humus, and other organic material allow a soil to soak up and hold moisture, flow oxygen to the roots of plants, and provide a continual and stable supply of nutrients and minerals.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Education Centres, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Markets & Outlets, Medicinal Plants, Processing & Food Preservation, Trees, Village Development.

Special bicycle for shelling coffee beans

It sounds strange to speak of poverty as an exciting opportunity, but many of the projects in Guatemala make me do just that. I’m particularly impressed with those working with trees. Reforestation is often not so simple as just planting trees. Mass agriculture has created a need for serious reforestation efforts, but that need doesn’t override humanitarian concerns like malnutrition and poverty. A largely agricultural workforce still needs crops to sell, and to eat. So what do you do? This challenge has brought about some really innovative ideas. The Maya Nut Institute, De La Gente, Caoba Farms, and Valhalla are four organizations facing this situation creatively, sustainably, and altruistically, using trees to contribute to many a worthy cause.

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