Reasons for Hope
Supporting dramatically reduced health and environmental harm through ongoing information and inspiration. Encouraging increased understanding of and delight in nature's gifts and wisdom in all areas of our lives. Your input on this exploration is most welcome!

Reasons for Hope

By Patricia Dines
Sonoma County Environmental Impact Reporter, Dec. 1998, p. 4
(c) Patricia Dines, 1998. All rights reserved.
In the movie "The Sound of Music," Julie Andrews' character cured her sadness and calamities by singing about a few of her "fave-ohr-rite things" -- so then she wouldn't feel "sooooo bad!"
As the darkness of winter moves in, I feel like doing some of the same. An environmentalist's equivalent of "warm woolen mittens."
Most of us are all too aware of the many challenges that now threaten this planet and its inhabitants, including those discussed in previous columns and elsewhere in this newspaper. And, indeed, if we want this harm to stop, we must face the truth of things directly.
But seeing the truth means seeing the whole truth -- including the positive aspects!
So today, in the attached box, I'm highlighting some events held locally in the last few months that showed me the wonderful people who are caring and acting about some of the issues that I feel are most vital to our well-being.
I share these events with you not to encourage complacency, for there's still much that requires each person's unique wisdom, skills, and attention.
Rather, I share them to give you the encouragement of seeing positive activities being done, and to let you know some of the area groups and activities that you might want to join and support.
Some people might think it's hard to come together to learn about what threatens us, and to discuss how we might find a healthier, happier, more-nurturing path instead.
But I find a real joyfulness in the gathering -- to turn and take on that which would harm us -- together! And, perhaps surprisingly, I find that taking on our shared issues can help us with our personal struggles and goals as well -- for often we discover that we're not alone in them, and that joining together is really the best solution -- for everyone concerned.
I hope you enjoy seeing these examples of our local healing activities, and that it cheers on your own efforts to do the same.
And, to the folks mentioned here, and to everyone who's acting to make a better world for all, I want to say "Thank you!" It really does make a difference!
(c) Patricia Dines, 1998. All rights reserved.
Patricia Dines has been a writer and educator for 15 years. She is currently founder and president of Community Action Publications (CAP), a volunteer, community-supported organization that supports constructive action towards a healthier, less-toxic, more democratic world for all. CAP has information available on a variety of topics, including "The Organic Traveler's Guide to the Wine Country." She can be reached at (707) 829-2999 or

Here are some recent local gatherings of people exploring genetic engineering, organics, democracy, nature, and true healing.
* "Community Forum on Genetic Engineering." On August 22, Santa Rosa's Community Market held this Community Forum, offering free non-genetically-engineered food and presenting information and speakers about the real reasons for concern about the genetic engineering (GE) of the DNA basis of life on this planet. The day was sunny, the information good, and the audience rapt - a nourishing day for all. Acknowledgements to Community Market for their ongoing work on the GE issue, including seeking to label non-GE food on their shelves. (707) 546-1800
* "The Genetic Engineering of Life: Panacea or Global Calamity?" On November 5 in Santa Rosa, the Peace and Justice Center's ongoing Thursday night series also presented information about the problems with genetic engineering to a curious audience. How great that people want to discuss this topic so vital to our well-being! (707) 575-8902
* "Do you like to eat...? You might not like what's on the menu!" On October 11, Santa Rosa's Alliance for Democracy (AfD) brought some top speakers together to discuss what corporations are doing to our food and agriculture system (including genetic engineering) and why we aren't hearing about it on the evening news. Speakers included Ronnie Dugger, founder of the national AfD -- Al Krebs, author of "The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness" - Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, the two Florida reporters who refused to suppress the information they discovered about the genetically-engineered rBGH (cow growth hormone) -- and David Letourneau, on the Board of Directors of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). How exciting to have this combination of perspectives exploring the real forces impacting our food today. (707) 575-9311. <>
* Sonoma County Herb Festival. On October 17, the new Sonoma County Herbal Association, freshly merged with the Organic Garden Club, created an outdoor festival at the Santa Rosa JC, celebrating the way herbs (especially organically-grown ones) can support both the healing of our bodies and of our relationship to the earth. Another fun, sunny day! (707) 585-8575
* Bioneers Conference. This conference was a real topper for me. Held October 23-25, it brought together in San Francisco some of the top people exploring both the dark and the light of what I see as the core topics of our times. Speakers included Jerry Mander (who's compiled the excellent book, "The Case Against Globalization") -- Caroline Casey (visionary activist, humorist, and profound inspiration) -- Starhawk (eco-feminist and more) -- Donna Read (creator of the film trilogy on the Goddess which included "The Burning Times") -- Rosemary Gladstar (famed herbalist, now living on the east coast, but known locally for her wise woman ways, including as founder of Rosemary's Garden) -- and many more!
Many voices were heard, both on and off the stage, speaking different variations of the same themes -- how current and past native peoples (which is all of us) have been taken from their lands and their social structures broken - how we can face and understand the mentality that would do that, both inside and outside of ourselves - and how we can act to restore to ourselves and our societies healthy ways to relate to the land and each other, to support the deep healing and joy of us all.
The voices at this event spoke in logic and heart, in facts and music and dance. What a well-rounded delight! Rumor was that one thousand people attended this gathering. If that's not a reason for hope, I don't know what is! (877) BIONEERS (toll free). <>
(c) Patricia Dines, 1998. All rights reserved


Some Key Reasons for Concern about Genetically-Engineered (GE) Food

By Patricia Dines
For the past few years, corporate scientists have been creating new foods (nicknamed "Frankenfoods") by combining pieces of DNA from different species. Large quantities of this experimental food is now in our food supply, unlabelled. Should you be concerned? Here are some reasons experts think you should be!
* LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. We don't understand what most of the DNA structure does and how it operates -- the DNA that creates all life on this planet. Therefore, top experts feel that it's reckless for corporate scientists to blindly mix-and-match DNA parts from different species and put the resulting organisms in our food, bodies, and environment, where they'll continue to combine, join, change, and evolve with global ecosystems, in hugely unpredictable ways.
* LACK OF TESTING. There's been almost no testing of GE food's effect on humans or the environment. What has been done shows real reasons for serious concern about GE's likely impact on our health and our ecosphere.
* ERRORS, ESCAPES, AND UNEXPECTED COMBINATIONS. If nothing else, nuclear energy should teach of us that humans and technology aren't perfect. Already, errors have been made in commercially-produced GE crops; GE crops have been shown to merge with wild plants and neighboring crops, and to kill pollinators; and people have been harmed, such as the thousands seriously hurt in 1989 by the GE'd supplement trytophan. Without testing, corporate scientists are essentially playing dice with our DNA heritage and sustenance. Without labelling of GE food, doctors will be trying to solve health disorders without key vital information. (Expect an increase in mysterious health problems!)
* CROSSING THE SPECIES BARRIER. The species barrier protects us from diseases against which we have no immunity. The few times that diseases has crossed this barrier have led to large numbers of deaths, such as the pig flu in 1918 which killed 20 million people worldwide. GE manipulators regularly cross the species barrier, combining DNA from species that would never ordinarily mate, such as fish and tomatoes, and using harmful viruses and poisons to build a superhighway across this protective barrier.
* RAPID DEPLOYMENT. GE food is already being rapidly put into our food, agriculture, and ecosystems -- making this an involuntary mass experiment of huge proportions.
* WORSENING OF WORLD PROBLEMS. Proponents say GE is necessary to feed the world's hungry and reduce pesticide use, but any decent analysis shows that the opposite will be the result. Giving corporations ownership of our community's food seeds, where they then forbid seed-saving, greatly increases farmers' costs and further centralizes power -- two key causes of hunger made worse. Moreover, worldwide GE monoculture increases vulnerability to mass crop failures and starvation (a la the Irish Potato Famine). Even the "decreased pesticide use" argument is discredited by the fact that many crops are being GE'd to allow increased herbicide use!
* IRREVERSIBLE HARM. Once our world's precious DNA is changed by this reckless experiment with our world, health, and food, there's no going back. This experiment cannot be recalled!
* TAKES ATTENTION AND RESOURCES FROM THE REAL SOLUTIONS. The real solutions are sustainable agriculture and community empowerment. Let's put our resources into strengthening not weakening these!
>> WHAT CAN WE DO? Only citizen action can prevent these disasters in the making, and steer us on a healthier, more sane course. Any effort now will be a lot easier and more effective than after the predictable problems increasingly spread. People are taking action on this locally, nationally, and around the world. Join and support them! (See the folks in the events box; contact us for more information.)
(c) Patricia Dines, 1998. All rights reserved.

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