The 6 Amazing Benefits of Gardening in Your Backyard

Outdoor Happens – by Elle Meager – Posted Oct 21, 2020

Author:

Elle Meager

Jack of all trades, master of some. Precision editor, wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one – although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.

Ah, the reward!

The value that you get from gardening is much more than the vegetables your plot produces. It can be therapeutic, healthy, educational, communal, environmentally friendly, and good exercise. The vegetables you harvest are just the tip of the iceberg, gardening offers us “sow” much more.

It’s true: Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes! Here are 6 amazing benefits of gardening in your backyard.

Table of Contents

1. The Health Benefits of Gardening

Gardening as Exercise

Absorb Some Vitamin D

2. Benefits of Gardening for Kids

Gardening Encourages Picky Eaters to Try More Vegetables

Incorporate Gardening into Your Home School Plan

How to Grow Your Own Food

Where Food Comes From

How Plants GrowBackyard Ecosystems

Woodworking

Physical Literacy

Emotional Maturity

Gardening Decreases Allergies in Children

3. Benefits of Gardening for Mental Health

The Antidepressant Properties of Soil Microbes

The Joys of Harvesting Your Own Food

4. Benefits of Growing a Vegetable Garden

5. Benefits of School and Community Gardens

Community Gardens Build ConnectionDetroit: How Community Gardens Can Transform a City

6. Benefits of Gardening for the Environment

Your Garden Minimizes Your Carbon Footprint

Gardening Saves Bees

Go OrganicMaximize Your Nectar Flow

Make Bee Watering Stations

Designate Space for Native Bees

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Up To Half Of Americans Unwilling To Take Coronavirus Vaccine

Dr. Rath Health Foundation – Sept 24, 2020

“With fears growing that checks on the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines will be rushed through, a new poll by the Pew Research Group has found that half of Americans are unwilling to take them.” [Source: independent.ie]

Comment

Vaccines normally take years, if not decades, to develop. Nevertheless, around the world, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories are working at breakneck speed to produce vaccines against the coronavirus. About 40 such vaccines are already believed to be in clinical trials on humans. Whether any of them will prove to be successful still remains to be seen.

There is particular concern over the development of so-called ‘genetic vaccines’. The active principle behind such vaccines involves introducing genetic material (DNA or RNA) into cells. This technology is still in the experimental stage and is associated with serious side effects. The long-term side effects, due to the introduction of artificial genes into the DNA of human cells, are currently completely uncontrollable.

A mass use of this technology could potentially change the genetic makeup of mankind irreversibly, for generations to come. Despite this, amidst the challenge of the corona pandemic, all concerns about this technology would appear to have been thrown overboard. If pharmaceutical companies and some governments get their way, millions of people will be injected with these high-risk vaccines and essentially treated as human guinea pigs. The sole beneficiaries will be the pharmaceutical ‘business with disease’ and its shareholders.

To read in-depth about our Foundation’s position on vaccines, download a free copy of our brochure, ‘Can we make our vaccines safer?

SOURCE

Gates Foundation Doubles Down on Misinformation Campaign at Cornell as African Leaders Call for Agroecology

Sustainable Pulse – Oct 1, 2020

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded another $10 million last week to the controversial Cornell Alliance for Science, a communications campaign housed at Cornell that trains fellows in Africa and elsewhere to promote and defend genetically engineered foods, crops and agrichemicals. The new grant brings BMGF grants to the group to $22 million, USRTK reported Wednesday.

Source: USRTK

The PR investment comes at a time when the Gates Foundation is under fire for spending billions of dollars on agricultural development schemes in Africa that critics say are entrenching farming methods that benefit corporations over people. 

Faith leaders appeal to Gates Foundation 

On September 10, faith leaders in Africa posted an open letter to the Gates Foundation asking it to reassess its grant-making strategies for Africa. 

“While we are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its commitment to overcoming food insecurity, and acknowledging the humanitarian and infrastructural aid provided to the governments of our continent, we write out of grave concern that the Gates Foundation’s support for the expansion of intensive industrial scale agriculture is deepening the humanitarian crisis,” says the sign-on letter coordinated by the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).  

The letter cites the Gates-led Alliance for a Green Revolution (AGRA) for its “highly problematic” support of commercial seed systems controlled by large companies, its support of restructuring seed laws to protect certified seeds and criminalize non-certified seed, and its support of seed dealers who offer narrow advice about corporate products over much-needed public sector extension services. 

“We appeal to the Gates Foundation and AGRA to stop promoting failed technologies and outdated extension methods and start listening to the farmers who are developing appropriate solutions for their contexts,” the faith leaders said.

Despite billions of dollars spent and 14 years of promises, AGRA has failed to achieve its goals of reducing poverty and raising incomes for small farmers, according to a July report False Promises. The research was conducted by a coalition of African and German groups and includes data from a recent white paper published by Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute. 

The Gates Foundation has not yet responded to requests for comment for this article but said in an earlier email, “We support organisations like AGRA because they partner with countries to help them implement the priorities and policies contained in their national agricultural development strategies.”

READ ON…

Organic Food Is A ‘Human Right’, Says Leading Food Scientist

Dr. Rath Health Foundation – Oct 2, 2020

“A leading food scientist argues that to stamp out pesticides from our fragile food systems is to protect those most prone to ill health.” [Source: newint.org]

Research shows that exposure to commonly used pesticides is linked to an increased mortality risk and the development of cancer and other diseases.

Switching from conventionally grown fruits and vegetables to produce grown organically, even just for a few days, significantly reduces the levels of pesticides in the body. Demonstrating this, a study published in 2015 by researchers in the United States examined 40 children aged between 3 and 6 years old. The results showed that an organic diet quickly lowered levels of several pesticides in the children by between one-quarter and one-half. Consistent with other research reporting similar findings, the study joined a long line of scientific investigations confirming the benefits of organic food.

Nutritionally speaking, the benefits of organic food are now well known. In 2014, in what is arguably the most comprehensive analysis to date, an international team led by Professor Carlo Leifert from Newcastle University in the UK found that it contains up to 69 percent more of key antioxidants than regular food. Based on an analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies from around the world, Leifert’s findings destroyed the myth that organic food is nutritionally indistinguishable from that produced using pesticides.

To learn more about the health benefits of organic food, read this article on our website.

SOURCE

Gene-Silencing Pesticides: Risks and Concerns

Oct 6, 2020 – Friends of the Earth

“Gene-silencing pesticides” now under development pose novel risks to surrounding ecosystems and beneficial insects. This new report, Gene-Silencing Pesticides: Risks and Concerns, summarizes current science and data gaps on risks to human health, the environment and farmers posed by experimental gene-silencing pesticides that biotech and agrichemical corporations are seeking to patent and bring to market as soon as next year.

Read the executive summary
Read the issue brief
Read the press release

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Why is this report urgent?

The report summarizes the latest science on the health, socioeconomic and environmental risks — and the many unknowns — surrounding experimental gene-silencing RNAi pesticide sprays that biotechnology and agrichemical corporations are seeking to patent and bring to market. The first such pesticide is likely to be submitted to the EPA for registration by GreenLight Biosciences by the end of 2020.

What are gene-silencing RNAi pesticides?

Agrichemical corporations such as Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta are using genetic modification techniques to develop pesticides that exploit a cellular process called RNA interference (RNAi), in order to switch off or “silence” genes that are essential for the survival of insects – thus killing them.

For example, RNAi could be applied as a foliar spray on leaves. After the pest eats the leaves, interfering RNA enters the insect’s stomach and silences a gene that is essential for cell division, following which, the pest cannot make functioning new cells and dies.

What is RNA interference?

RNA interference (RNAi) is a naturally occurring cellular process in plants, fungi, and animals, including insects. The RNAi pathway functions to control whether a gene is turned off or not. Genetic engineers are now able to make synthetic interfering RNA molecules in laboratory settings. The resulting RNAi pesticides can kill a pest by triggering a process in the organism that “silences” genes that are essential for survival.

What are potential environmental impacts of RNAi pesticides?

The technology is imprecise. Gene-silencing can occur both in the genome of the target organism as well as in non-target species. Some of these unintended genetic modifications could be inherited and persist in the environment for generations.

Environmental concerns include:

  • Open-air experimentation: Entire agroecosystems could be affected. Genetically modifying organisms in the open environment makes controlling exposure difficult or impossible.
  • Unintended silencing of genes: RNAi technologies are widely associated with off-target activity –the silencing of genes that weren’t intended to be silenced, both within the genome of target organisms as well as in related non-target species.
  • Effects on non-target organisms: RNAi targeting a specific pest’s genes may bind to and shut down genes in other organisms as well. This off-target effect may extend beyond closely related species to potentially thousands of different species. A 2017 meta-analysis indicated that existing interfering RNAs developed for other target species could also directly impact gene activity in honeybees, and a 2019 study showed the uptake and exchange of interfering RNAs within bee colonies across generations. 
  • Entrenching the pesticide treadmill: There is evidence suggesting that, as with other pesticides, targeted pests will rapidly develop resistance to RNAi pesticides.

What are potential health impacts of RNAi pesticides?

Key questions around human health impacts remain completely unstudied and must be fully investigated.

Public health concerns include:

  • Inhalation of synthetic RNAi: Farmers, farmworkers, production workers and rural communities may be exposed to synthetic interfering RNAs via the potential spray drift. The risks pertaining to inhalation exposure are completely unknown.
  • Altering crops’ genetic composition: Unwanted gene silencing could alter crops’ genetic composition in a way that raises safety concerns, such as altering levels of toxins or allergens.
  • Dietary consumption of synthetic RNAi: Preliminary research suggests that naturally occurring interfering RNAs in our diet play a role in regulating physiological or pathological conditions in our bodies. This suggests that synthetic RNAi products may also interfere with human gene regulation, with unforeseen health implications. Further investigation is needed to fully understand the safety implications of consuming synthetic interfering RNAs.

Who owns the crops or insects that are modified by RNAi spray?

Gene-silencing pesticide sprays raise many questions and concerns about patenting and ownership issues.

Corporations developing RNAi pesticides are applying for patents that would give them ownership of exposed organisms and even their offspring, regardless of whether the exposure was intentional. This would result in a massive expansion of property rights over nature, ever more deeply entrenching the power of biotech companies over the food system in ways that would threaten farmers’ rights.

Are government regulations sufficient to ensure health and safety in relation to the environment and people?

RNAi pesticides currently fall outside of existing domestic and international regulatory structures and therefore have yet to be regulated in most parts of the world. Oversight and regulations for interfering RNA applications should include independent, transparent health and environmental assessment, including  examination of potential long-term impacts, before being allowed to enter the market or environment, and products of all genetic modification should be traceable, and labeled as GMOs.

Are gene-silencing pesticides safe for eaters?

RNAi pesticides are being described by developers as “eco-friendly” and “natural” because the active ingredient, the interfering RNA, is a form of genetic material that exists in all organisms. However, equating the safety of naturally occurring interfering RNAs with novel synthetically produced interfering RNAs lacks scientific grounding.

Synthetic interfering RNAs are being developed as insecticides, and it depends on the individual interfering RNAs, and the modified organism, as to whether they are safe for consumption. Further, developers may alter their chemical structure, or add nanoparticles and other synthetic materials to RNAi products to enhance their function — for example, to make them more resistant to degradation. They should thus be judged on a case-by-case basis and not merely assumed to be equivalent to their natural counterparts.

Also, as stated above, preliminary research suggests that naturally occurring interfering RNAs in our diet play a role in regulating physiological or pathological conditions in our bodies. This suggests that synthetic RNAi products may also interfere with human gene regulation, with unforeseen health implications. Further investigation is needed to fully understand the safety implications of consuming synthetic interfering RNAs.

What are sustainable and healthy alternatives?

Based on evidence from scientific assessments available, it is not possible to assure the safe use of RNAi products, designed to induce genetic modifications in organisms in the open environment.

Rather than perpetuating the pesticide treadmill, ecological farming methods that underpin organic and other forms of ecological agriculture, offer a true solution. A growing body of science shows that farmers who rely on ecological methods for pest management instead of pesticides can meet or outperform their conventional counterparts in terms of yield and profits. Ecological farming techniques build healthy soils that confer greater pest immunity to plants and increase biodiversity in farming systems to disrupt the growth of pests and to foster natural predators. This includes crop rotations, cover cropping, composting, reducing tillage, and planting habitat for beneficial insects.

SOURCE

Lawsuit Challenges USDA over Lack of Labeling for GMO Seeds

 Sustainable Pulse – Oct 7 2020

Center for Food Safety (CFS) has filed an amended complaint in their ongoing litigation challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “bioengineered” (more commonly known as “genetically engineered”) food labeling rule, challenging the law’s prohibition on states’ labeling of genetically modified seeds. The new filing adds claims challenging the part of the “bioengineered foods” rule that will leave genetically engineered seeds unlabeled, preventing consumers and farmers from knowing if seeds are genetically modified.

“Consumers have a right to know what’s in their food, including whether it is genetically engineered or not. That’s what this case is fundamentally about: meaningful labeling,” said George Kimbrell, CFS legal director and counsel in the case. “The same goes for seeds. The decision takes away states’ rights to label seeds, while offering absolutely nothing in return.”

CFS filed the 120-page lawsuit in late July 2020. The provisions then-challenged covered the inadequacies of the law as it relates to food labeling; the new amendment adds the seed labeling aspect.

Read on…