Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) says he is “hugely disappointed” in Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough for ruling that Democrats cannot include their amnesty plan in a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation package.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2021
Readout of President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s Meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres of the United Nations
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. met this evening with Secretary-General António Guterres of the United Nations. They reaffirmed the strong partnership between the United States and the United Nations which, in particular, is based on common values that include respect for universal human rights, fundamental …
With the burgeoning crisis under the so-called ‘migrant bridge’ in Del Rio, Texas, Biden’s DHS Secretary had the gall to claim today that “our borders are not open”: Secretary of Homeland Security . . .
Despite being pardoned by the governor of Missouri, the Missouri Supreme Court has been asked to suspend the McCloskey’s law licenses after they plead guilty earlier this year to misdemeanors related their . . .
An HHS whistleblower has come forward to James O’Keefe at Project Veritas revealing secret recordings of how the US government is said to be hiding adverse reactions to the vaccines, and serious . . .
Genetically engineered (GE) crops, which have been commercially available for 25 years, have been widely misunderstood and under-appreciated, especially by certain news outlets. Arguably, the worst offender among the mainstream media has been the New York Times, whose manifold shortcomings in reportage and commentaries over many years are described here and here.
The U.S. is an agricultural powerhouse, but it is plagued by the eternal menaces to farming…
Perhaps some glimmer of enlightenment toward genetic engineering is belatedly emerging. We were somewhat encouraged recently by “Learning to Love GMOs,” from science writer Jennifer Kahn in the New York Times Magazine in July. (“GMO,” or genetically modified organism, is a rather fluid, meaningless term used to refer to an organism modified with highly precise and predictable molecular techniques.)
At the risk of nitpicking, however, we felt that she over-emphasized the handful of genetically engineered farm products intended to be sold directly to consumers, while omitting the more important but less sexy story: the huge, palpable, proven benefits that GE crops have provided since they first hit the marketplace. Not surprisingly, there was also no mention of her newspaper’s decades-long, ugly history of disparaging and misrepresenting genetic engineering.
The big picture here is important, especially to America’s preeminence in the science, technologies, and application of genetic engineering. The U.S. is an agricultural powerhouse, but it is plagued by the eternal menaces to farming, including drought, floods, weeds, and pestilence—all of which are approachable by GE, in which America leads the world. Moreover, as valuable as GE is to the economic development of advanced countries, it is literally a life-saver to less developed ones. Kahn broaches none of this.
THE GE AGRICULTURE MARKET
Kahn begins with a lively description of plant biologist and British professor Cathie Martin and her fabulous, GE cancer-fighting tomatoes. These fruits, dark purple in color, produce high amounts of anthocyanins, compounds usually associated with blueberries and containing antioxidant activity. Professor Martin was able to demonstrate that cancer-prone mice fed these tomatoes lived 30% longer and were also less susceptible to inflammatory bowel disease than mice fed ordinary, non-engineered tomatoes.
The problem is that Kahn misidentifies the consumers who most need and would benefit from GE advances.
The article discusses other GE specialty fruits, such as virus-resistant Rainbow Papayas (which rescued Hawaii’s papaya industry from oblivion) and non-browning Arctic Apples, which have found valuable niches in today’s market. Kahn also makes honorable mention of other GE fruits and vegetables in development, such as tastier berries and sweeter, kid-friendly kale, among many others.
Readers are left with the impression that such new crop varieties that will tickle consumers’ taste buds and satisfy their nutritional needs are the goal—and the real value—of GE, and that these developments are just around the corner thanks to plant genetic engineering. Could that, Khan speculates, spell the turning point for widespread public acceptance of genetically engineered crops?
The problem is that Khan misidentifies the consumers who most need and would benefit from GE advances. “Since their introduction in the mid-1990s,” she writes, “GMOs have remained wildly unpopular with consumers, who see them as dubious tools of Big Ag, with potentially sinister impacts on both people and the environment.” Kahn frames the problem of GE production as the plight of small, artisanal food growers due to federal regulation that favors “global agricultural conglomerates.” “[J]ust to go through the FDA approval process would cost a million dollars. Adding USDA approval could push that amount even higher,” she writes. The regulatory barriers are, in fact, astronomical: it costs about $136 million to bring a GE crop plant to market. This is the primary reason more than 99% of such crop plants are those that are grown at huge scale. (What makes this absurd is that plants modified with less precise, less predictable, conventional, pre-molecular techniques are virtually unregulated.)
The solution—advances in the development of “small-scale, bespoke GMO produce”—is inviting to Kahn, whose efforts seem directed at convincing “WWWs”:
[Professor] Martin is perhaps onto something when she describes those most opposed to GMOs as ‘the WWWs’: the well, wealthy, and worried, the same cohort of upper-middle-class shoppers who have turned organic food into a multibillion-dollar industry. ‘If you’re a WWW, the calculation is, GMOs seem bad, so I’m just going to avoid them,” she said. ‘I mean, if you think there might be a risk, and there’s no benefit to you, why even consider it?’
Although it’s true that the potential for new, delicious, nutritious GE fruits and vegetables is vast, Kahn ignores the enormous success of genetically engineered crops across much of the world over the past three decades—importantly, for more than just the well, wealthy, and worried. GE crops have in fact made food more affordable and proved to be a vital life-saving source of food and agricultural inputs for much of the developing world. It’s time to set the record straight.
WORLDWIDE IMPACTS OF GE INNOVATION
Kahn laments that much of the effort in plant genetic engineering has been to produce improved varieties of our most commercially important crops, such as pest-resistant corn and cotton, herbicide-tolerant soybeans and canola (in order that weeds can be controlled more safely and effectively than by foliar spraying), and other agronomic traits such as resilience to flooding or drought. Although consumers may be unaware of these achievements, they have been eagerly embraced by farmers and critical to progress in agriculture. The acreage farmed with genetically engineered crops, which reached almost a half-million acres worldwide in 2018, increases every year, particularly in developing countries. (And that figure is only the official acreage; there is a great deal more cultivation with seeds obtained on the black market by farmers in countries where they’re not yet approved.)
Although consumers may be unaware of these achievements, they have been eagerly embraced by farmers and critical to progress in agriculture.
In fact, the economic and environmental impacts of corn, cotton, canola, soybeans, and sugar beets alone have been enormous across the globe. According to economists Brookes and Barfoot (2020), GE insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant crops have reduced pesticide spraying by 775.4 million kg. This, in turn, has resulted in a decrease in the use of fuel and tillage, which is equivalent to a reduction of greenhouse gas release on the order of removing 15.27 million cars from the roads.
Improved environmental impacts coincide with significant economic benefits to farmers in the form of improved yields (72%) and savings in farming costs (28%) resulting from reduced use of agricultural inputs such as chemicals. Financial gains have exceeded $225 billion since genetically engineered crops first became commercially available, with the most gains realized by farmers in developing countries. Brookes and Barfoot estimate that for every dollar invested in the seeds of GE crops, farmers in developed countries received on average $3.24 extra income. This return on investment increased to $4.41 for farmers in developing countries, where such benefits can be the difference between subsistence farming and being able to sell some of their harvests.
It is unfortunate that a technology that has been so beneficial for so many farmers has been vilified since its beginnings (including, early and often, by reporters, columnists, and commentators in the New York Times), and we wish that Kahn’s article had put more emphasis on the extant, significant achievements.
The impressive data collected and reported by Brookes and Barfoot are only the beginning. The opportunities for genetically engineered crops to reduce malnutrition and increase farmers’ profits are endless. Kahn does mention in passing Golden Rice, which produces a precursor of vitamin A and prevents vitamin A deficiency—a scourge of children that causes blindness and death in countries where most of their calories come from rice—which was recently approved for cultivation in the Philippines. (And which has been relentlessly opposed by activists for decades.) But there are many more such examples, including staple engineered crops such as rice biofortified with iron, zinc, and folate.
Besides higher yields and direct economic benefits, the cultivation of insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant crops also has significant collateral effects in developing countries, such as reducing laborious tasks of women and girls in the field, improved children’s literacy, and greater gender equality. These, in turn, foster improved economic growth and quality of life for communities.
In addition, decreased crop losses due to pests lead not only to improved yields and farmers’ incomes, but, especially compared to organic farming, also reduce levels of food waste and lower the risk of cancer, spina bifida in newborns, and other health problems caused by the fungal toxins aflatoxin and fumonisin, respectively, which are less likely to accumulate in crops that are protected from predation by insects. Improved crop quality and yields and lower agronomic inputs also translate into less release of greenhouse gases (and, thus, a lower carbon footprint) and less conversion of land to farming.
Unlike the spraying of chemical pesticides, the cultivation of crops like Bt-cotton and Bt-brinjal (eggplant), which contain a protein (from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis) toxic to certain insects, does not impact non-target insects. They are helpful, therefore, for maintaining and restoring the health of natural ecosystems and the sustainable management of wilderness areas. At the same time, genetic engineering technologies related to biomass production using crops ranging from sugarcane to switchgrass, and even algae, are helping to produce affordable, attainable energy.
Underscoring their significance, particularly for poor farmers in developing countries, many of these improvements fall under the sustainable development goals established by the United Nations.
PUTTING SCIENCE AND INNOVATION FIRST
It seems that American consumers crave technology in every aspect of their lives except in food production. Why is that? We believe it is the result of a multi-decade, multi-national, multi-billion dollar fear-and-smear campaign against GE crops and foods by what amounts to an anti-genetic engineering industry.
If U.S. policymakers fail to seize the day, we will likely be overtaken by China, which is fast becoming a significant player.
Technology has helped to double food production in the last 50 years. We have the cheapest, safest, most abundant food supply in history, but now, those seeking to increase the market for organic/natural products, abetted by the woke media, want to force agricultural science to a more primitive, less productive time by embracing inefficient practices. Although they have been successful in creating a niche for their products, we cannot let this way of thinking stymie or reverse the stunning scientific, economic, and environmental advances that have come from genetic engineering and gene editing technologies, in which the U.S. is preeminent.
Regulators permitting, the next wave of important developments could be in the genetic engineering of animals, in particular the creation of new varieties resistant to devastating, economically crippling diseases. These include pigs resistant to the devastating Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus, the cause of losses to U.S. pig farmers of more than $600 million annually. The foreseeable development of chickens with genetic resistance to avian influenza will be a monumental breakthrough because there is no vaccine against it, and outbreaks result in the culling of tens of millions of birds annually. This field has the potential to create the Next Big Things in agriculture—if only innovation were not strangled by unnecessary, misguided government regulation, abetted by an antagonistic media and highly organized, vocal activists.
Americans are experiencing shocking inflation in food prices, and the wider adoption of innovative GE technologies can help to stem it. Insect predation, weeds, and unpredictable weather events are the perennial enemies of farmers but, as discussed above, GE has already made significant strides to mitigate them. The greater exploitation of drought- and flood-resistant crop plants and the prevention of viral diseases in food animals can also aid food production in the parts of the nation plagued by those natural disruptions.
Putting America first means putting science and innovation first. Billions in potential revenue and life-saving technologies have already been lost to us because of our failure to adopt this attitude. Consider “biopharming”—the once-promising biotechnology area that uses genetic engineering techniques to induce crops such as corn, tomatoes ,and tobacco to produce high concentrations of high-value pharmaceuticals (one of which is the Ebola drug, ZMapp). The entire field is moribund because of the Agriculture Department’s extraordinary regulatory burdens. And thanks to EPA’s policies, which discriminate against organisms modified with the most precise and predictable techniques, the high hopes for genetically engineered “biorational” microbial pesticides and microorganisms to clean up toxic wastes have evaporated.
As a result, the potential for innovation that modern genetic engineering holds for long-term, robust U.S. economic growth and higher living standards has been drastically reduced. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also made this point in the context of developing commercial drones at a conference in 2014. “Technology is not going to be the long pole,” he said. “The long pole is going to be regulatory.” And yet, regulatory agencies seem to be becoming more imperious and politicized. If U.S. policymakers fail to seize the day, we will likely be overtaken by China, which is fast becoming a significant player. As University of Pennsylvania political scientist Scott Moore has written, China’s progress has implications that “span national security, data security, and economic competitiveness.”
None of the big picture appeared on Kahn or the New York Times’s radar screen. We hope, however, to see a follow-up from her that tells the whole story—that over four decades, genetic engineering has delivered myriad critical economic, health, humanitarian, environmental, and scientific benefits. That we need more of it, regulated more rationally. And that its critics, including her colleagues at the Times, are misinformed and misguided.
Hundreds of Navy SEALS are risking being blocked from deployment after failing to get vaccinated, according to a lawyer and pastor counseling them.
As reported by Just the News, the number of SEALS involved in the dispute with the Pentagon amounts to as many as a quarter or more of all active members, a loss that could impact military readiness.
Some SEALS were given a deadline to get the vaccine and have sought a religious exemption.
“My clients include several Navy SEALS who are a small part of a large group of SEALS and other military members who are being asked to choose between their faith and their ability to serve our nation,” R. Davis Younts, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserves and a lawyer representing several of the operators, said. “They have been told that if they seek a religious accommodation, they likely will no longer be able to serve our country as Navy SEALs and have been given an arbitrary deadline to comply with the vaccine mandate.”
“My clients need time, and we are seeking at least a 90-day extension to [the] vaccine mandate compliance deadline they have been given,” he continued.
Similarly, Pastor Jeff Durbin, who has been ministering to the special operators for weeks, said between a quarter to a third of all active-duty SEALS are involved in the dispute with the Pentagon, including some who already have COVID-19 immunity because they recovered from the disease.
“There are hundreds of Navy SEALs who have not been vaccinated, do not want to take the vaccine, or who have had and recovered from COVID and have the benefit of natural immunity,” Durbin told Just the News. “A large number of SEALS that I am speaking on behalf of are facing the very difficult decision that even with a legitimate religious exemption that is based upon their commitments to Christ, the Gospel, God’s Law, and the Constitution, they will no longer be Navy SEALs.”
“They are essentially being asked to make a decision between their commitments to the lordship of Christ and their careers as Navy SEALs,” he continued. “Our country should be very concerned about what this would do to military readiness. Losing hundreds of Navy SEALs because of their legitimate and sincerely held Christian beliefs could be devastating to us as a nation.”
During the Justice For J6 rally in Washington DC an armed masked man posing as a protestor was surrounded by Capitol Police and escorted out of the area upon the discovery that he was actually a federal law enforcement officer. Unlike many individuals jailed on seemingly harmless charges on January 6, the federal officer will not be facing charges for having a gun during the rally.
While some warned of a potential protest sabotage at the hands of undercover federal law enforcement ahead of the Justice For J6 rally in Washington, D.C. after multiple reports surfaced in recent months showcasing evidence of undercover federal involvement on January 6, but the September 18 event went largely without incident. However, in one bizarre instance that has been widely mocked online, a masked man was surrounded by riot gear-clad Capitol Police upon the discovery that he was carrying a firearm on his person, drawing concern from journalists, protesters, and those who were following the protest that day at home.
The entire mood changed when the masked man pulled out his badge – revealing himself to be an undercover federal law enforcement officer, vindicating the initial presumptions of countless Americans across the country. As National File reported, the man identified himself as undercover law enforcement, telling authorities The man replied “I’m just here” when asked if he was an undercover law enforcement when police found his firearm and gun. There is no confirmation that this man was on-duty law enforcement. Capitol Police extracted the masked man from the event without disarming or handcuffing him.
Americans have been consistently mocking the “pathetic” attempt by the government to infiltrate the event with undercover federal law enforcement over the days following the protest. “These guys would be great undercover at a golf course on Martha’s Vineyard,” tweeted Donald Trump Jr. after photos of what appears to be undercover federal law enforcement made waves online. (READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Paul Gosar Tells National File Whitmer Kidnapping Case Is ‘Proof In The Pudding’ Of Fed Infiltration On 1/6)
Fed 1: Definitely not a firearm in my pocket… I’m just happy to see you.
Fed 2: America is a top 10 maybe top 20 country… um, I mean America First… yea that’s it… America First!!!
These guys would be great undercover at a golf course on Martha’s Vineyard. https://t.co/4YEzaDix43
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 18, 2021
Amid fallout from the armed undercover federal law enforcement officer’s incident with Capitol Police, the Associated Press is now reporting that the individual was supposedly working with “US Customs and Border Protection,” and will not face charges for bringing a firearm to the protest.
“A federal law enforcement officer was arrested carrying a gun at Saturday’s rally at the U.S. Capitol billed to support the suspects charged in January’s insurrection but will not be prosecuted.
The 27-year-old New Jersey man is an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He was arrested by Capitol Police for illegally possessing a gun on the grounds of the Capitol after people in the crowd reported seeing him with a handgun and notified nearby officers.”
The AP report also claims that his “arrest and presence at the event were surprising because the rally was billed as an event to support those who have been charged in January’s riot.”
The confirmed presence of federal law enforcement at the Justice For J6 rally in DC comes after National File confirmed the presence of undercover federal law enforcement embedded within the crowd at the January 6 Stop The Steal rally.
Andrew Torba, the CEO of Gab, has declared that he will neither restrict German IP addresses from his accessing his site, nor implement German censorship regulations, following a demand from the country’s government.
In a blog post, Torba, who has been running Gab since its inception in 2016, revealed that the free speech social network had received “a huge packet of documents with fines and legal threats” from German authorities, due to the fact that Gab has never enforced the country’s controversial Network Enforcement Act, known more commonly by the NetzDG acronym.
This act, which came into force in January 2018, gives the German government the power to issue massive fines and sanctions against social networks with a userbase of over 2 million that do not censor what it determines to be “harmful content,” with the focus reportedly meant to be on “fake news” and “misinformation.” These companies then also have to provide detailed reports twice a year, in German, about what they’re doing to enforce the act.
Torba noted that there were three options that Gab therefore had in dealing with the action from the German government. They could enforce the act, do nothing and “pick a fight” with the government, or block German IPs from accessing the site. While many supporters of Torba and Gab, and his legal team, suggested that the third option was the best, Torba said that it “doesn’t sit right” with him, announcing he will be taking a stand against “the entire nation state of Germany,” despite the fact that it would mean he would likely never to be able to leave the US again.
“Why should we block an entire country from accessing Gab because their government is sending us fines we won’t pay and veiled legal threats that mean nothing to Gab as a US corporation?” Torba queried. “The reality is the German government has zero authority or jurisdiction over how we operate Gab… We are Americans… [and] in America you play by our rules, we don’t play by yours,” he added, saying that he has “nothing but love for the German people and they too deserve the fundamental human right to speak freely on the internet.”
Despite the rejection of the enforcement of the NetzDG, Torba confirmed that he was willing to continue working with German police in dealing with “matters pertaining to serious crime,” and will ensure those forces receive “prompt assistance” from him and his team. What we will not do is restrict access to, or remove, content which is legal in the United States on or from servers in the United States,” he confirmed.
Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough on Sunday ruled Democrats cannot include amnesty in their gargantuan reconciliation bill because it not a budget-related matter.
The Democrats are pushing their $3.5 trillion “infrastructure” bill through budget reconciliation to go around Republicans because it will only need a simple majority to pass.
Democrat lawmakers tried to sneak immigration reform in the infrastructure bill because they know it will never pass in a vote that requires at least 60 votes to pass.
The Senate Parliamentarian rejected the Democrats’ effort to give illegals a pathway to citizenship because it would lead to “other, life-changing federal, state and societal benefits.”
But the Democrats are not backing down.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) on Monday said he along with other senators are still working to include amnesty in the reconciliation bill by drafting “alternative proposals.”
“Last night’s ruling was extremely disappointing. It saddened me, it frustrated me, it angered me because so many lives are at stake. But, make no mistake, the fight continues,” Schumer said at a news conference on Puerto Rico recovery.
“Senate Democrats have prepared alternative proposals. We’ll be holding additional meetings with the parliamentarian in the coming days,” he added.
.@SenSchumer on parliamentarian’s ruling: “Last night’s ruling was extremely disappointing. It saddened me, it frustrated me, it angered me ’cause so many lives are at stake. But, make no mistake, the fight continues.” pic.twitter.com/ZzaRkXG4Sa
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 20, 2021