Tag Archive | nature

Neuroscience Shows Breastfeeding is not Just Milk*

Neuroscience Shows Breastfeeding is not Just Milk*

By Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Early life experiences set the stage for physical health in later life. Reducing early toxic stress is key to preventing disease in adults (Shonkoff, 2016).

Breastfeeding is one important way to decrease early toxic stress. Recent studies have shown that breastfeeding increases babies’ physical and mental well-being, and these effects go well beyond the composition of the milk. Maternal responsiveness is key to understanding these long-term effects. When mothers consistently respond to their babies’ cues, they set the stage for lifelong resiliency in their offspring. And responsiveness is built into the breastfeeding relationship. We see this reflected in children’s mental health.

In one study of 2,900 mother-infant pairs, breastfeeding for one year was associated with better child mental health at every age up to age 14 (Oddy et al., 2009). Longer duration of breastfeeding was associated with better child mental health at every assessment point.

Maternal depression

Maternal depression has a well-documented negative effect on babies and children. It is harmful because it impairs mothers’ ability to be responsive to their babies. Depressed mothers tend to disengage from their babies, and fail to respond to their cues. Babies experience this as highly stressful, and there can be lifelong effects from being raised by a chronically depressed mother or father (Field, Diego, & Hernandez-Reif, 2009; Kendall-Tackett, 2002, 2010; Weissman, 2006).

Edward Tronick‘s ‘Still-Face Mother’ experiments are an analogue of what happens with maternal depression. You can see the effects of not responding in these compelling videos.

These effects are long lasting. A 20-year follow-up of children of depressed parents compared them with a matched group of adult children whose parents had no psychiatric illness. The adult children of depressed parents had three times the rate of major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse compared to adult children of non-depressed parents.

For many years, feeding method was not included in studies of maternal depression. In fact, for years, professionals who specialized in perinatal mental health believed that breastfeeding was actually a risk factor for postpartum depression. Fortunately, we now have evidence that indicates that exclusively breastfeeding mothers are at lower risk for depression. Indeed, breastfeeding is protective of maternal mental health (Dennis & McQueen, 2009; Groer & Davis, 2006; Kendall-Tackett, Cong, & Hale, 2011).

Sleep

One reason why breastfeeding lowers depression risk is its impact on sleep. On every parameter of sleep, exclusively breastfeeding mothers fare better than their mixed- or formula-feeding counterparts:

  • total length of sleep
  • minutes to get to sleep
  • percentage of slow-wave sleep
  • daytime fatigue
  • perceived physical health

(Blyton, Sullivan, & Edwards, 2002; Doan, Gardiner, Gay, & Lee, 2007; Kendall-Tackett et al., 2011)

Our study of 6,410 mothers indicated that exclusively breastfeeding mothers were significantly better on every sleep measure compared to their mixed- and formula-feeding counterparts. Surprisingly, there was no significant difference between the mixed- and formula-feeding mothers (Kendall-Tackett et al., 2011). In other words, exclusive breastfeeding is a different physiological experience than mixed feeding. When mothers supplement with formula, they lose the physiological benefit of breastfeeding on their sleep.

Protection and responsivity

One study also found that breastfeeding protects babies when their mothers are depressed. This study compared four groups of mothers: mothers who were either depressed (breast or formula-feeding) or non-depressed (breast or formula-feeding). The measure was the babies’ EEG (electroencephalogram) patterns (abnormal patterns were a symptom of depression in the infants). The babies of depressed, breastfeeding mothers had normal EEG patterns compared to the babies of depressed, formula-feeding mothers (Jones, McFall, & Diego, 2004). In other words, breastfeeding protected the babies from the harmful effects of their mothers’ depression. The reason for this finding comes down to maternal responsivity. The researchers discovered that the depressed, breastfeeding mothers did not disengage from their babies. They couldn’t. The breastfeeding mothers looked at, touched, and made eye contact with their babies more than the mothers who were not breastfeeding. And that was enough to make a difference.

Cycle of violence

Mothers with a history of childhood abuse often feel as though they do not have the tools they need to parent their own children successfully. They may wonder whether they will perpetuate the cycle of violence.

Impaired sleep can be an important trigger to the intergenerational transmission of abuse. Babies of mothers with depression or PTSD are more likely to have sleep difficulties, possibly because of their exposure in utero to their mothers’ elevated stress hormones (Field, Diego, & Hernandez-Reif, 2006; Field et al., 2007). And a recent study found that for women with PTSD and a history of childhood abuse, infant sleep difficulties and maternal depression impaired mother-infant bonding and increased the risk of intergenerational transmission of trauma (Hairston et al., 2011). But there’s a different picture if the mother breastfeeds.

In Strathearn et al’s (2009) 15-year longitudinal study of 7,223 Australian mother-infant pairs, breastfeeding substantially lowered the risk of maternal-perpetrated child maltreatment. Non-breastfeeding mothers were 2.6 times more likely to be physically abusive, and 3.8 times more likely to neglect their children compared to breastfeeding mothers.

The results of our 2013 study may help explain why this is so. In our sample of 6,410 new mothers, 994 women reported previous sexual assault. As predicted, sexual assault had a pervasive, negative effect on mothers’ sleep, physical well-being, and mental health. The sexually assaulted mothers’ sleep was poor, they were more tired, they were more anxious and angry, and had more depression. But when we added feeding method to our analyses, we found that breastfeeding attenuated the effects of sexual assault and downregulated the stress response. This effect was only for exclusively breastfeeding women (Kendall-Tackett, Cong, & Hale, 2013). Anger, in particular, was lessened and this might explain Strathearn’s findings cited above. Also, lower rates of depression improve maternal responsiveness, which is protective.

Attachment and long-term health

We can also examine the impact of security of mother-infant attachment and its effects on long-term health. In an article written shortly before the end of their lives, attachment pioneers Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby noted that maternal (or caregiver) responsivity was key to creating a secure attachment in infants. Ainsworth developed the primary measure of attachment in infants: The Strange Situation.

The Strange Situation has been used in thousands of studies all over the world. Secure attachment on this measure is a great predictor of child mental and physical health. And responsiveness is key. When babies are not responded to consistently, they develop insecure attachments, and that has long-term implications for health, as a recent 32-year longitudinal study of 163 people found (Puig, Englund, Simpson, & Collins, 2013). Participants in this study were followed from birth to age 32. At 12 to 18 months, they were assessed via the Strange Situation. Those with insecure attachments had significantly more inflammation-based illnesses at age 32 than those who had secure attachments. These findings are likely due to the chronic activation of the inflammatory response system in those with insecure attachments.

In summary, the results from these studies demonstrate that breastfeeding has a much larger role to play in maintaining physical and mental health than we have previously believed.

Because breastfeeding increases maternal responsivity, it makes the day-to-day experience of mothering more tolerable. And it increases the chances that the babies will be securely attached. Breastfeeding is so much more than just a method of feeding. It’s a way of caring for a baby that will provide a lifetime’s worth of good health because it provides a way for mothers to connect with their babies—even if they did not experience that kind of care themselves.

In short, breastfeeding can make the world a happier and healthier place, one mother and baby at a time. It’s not just the milk.

Source*

Related Topics:

There’s Nothing Superior to Mother’s Milk

The Problem of Buying Milk that’s Actually Good for You

Raw Milk s. Pasteurized Milk: Which Would You Prefer?

Poisoning the Next Generation: Fluoride Plan in School Milk*

South Africa May be the Epicentre of a Geomagnetic Pole Reversal*

South Africa May be the Epicentre of a Geomagnetic Pole Reversal*

By Jessica Hall

Don’t start running around like your hair’s on fire, but this might actually matter.

The Earth’s magnetic field is so discombobulated over South Africa that some scientists believe we’re seeing the opening strains of a planet-wide polarity change.

What have scientists observed?

We already knew that the poles of the Earth’s magnetic field sometimes reverse, which is to say their direction flips from herding particles in to shooing them out, or vice versa.

And the Earth’s magnetic field isn’t perfectly even, either. It’s sort of lumpy and thin in places.

This is because the innards of our planet aren’t perfectly evenly distributed. There’s one particular region of the planet, toward the South Pole, where the liquid iron core meets with a hot, dense patch of the mantle.

Studies of the planet’s magnetic field show that its poles are reversed over that patch.

Above it, that ferromagnetic weirdness results in an overlapping region of weirdness in the planet’s magnetic field called the South Atlantic Anomaly. The protective Van Allen belts there get really weird; they fade in intensity, and they dip way down close to the surface.

That region poses an annoying, but well understood problem for space travel and satellites. Hubble doesn’t take observations when it’s orbiting above the Anomaly. There’s a report that in 2012, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft experienced magnetic interference from the Anomaly and had to reboot systems as a result. The Anomaly may even be responsible for how Hitomi spun itself apart.

Why is all this happening? What’s perturbing the magnetic field?

The core is liquid, it’s moving inside the planet, and it changes the contours of the magnetosphere along with it. Earth’s magnetic field has been weakening sharply over the last 160 years, right over the South Atlantic Anomaly.

Evidence from fired clay from Bantu-speaking civilizations some 5,000 years ago tells us that the planet’s magnetic field was acting just like this, right there over South Africa, back then. Modeling tells us that this magnetic behaviour preceded a planetary-scale flip in geomagnetic alignment that would have resulted in extreme electromagnetic strangeness on the surface. Basically, the Anomaly got big enough that it took over, and flipped the entire planet’s poles inside out.

NASA’s simulation of what Earth’s magnetic fields might look like during a geomagnetic reversal. Yikes.

NASA’s simulation of what Earth’s magnetic fields might look like during a geomagnetic reversal. Yikes.

NASA’s simulation of what Earth’s magnetic fields might look like during a geomagnetic reversal. Yikes.

What does a geomagnetic pole reversal mean for us?

This isn’t going to be one of those end-of-the-world articles. That said, if the poles do flip, we could be in for some electromagnetically interesting times. Magnetic fields deflect electrons, which would change how electricity behaves on a subtle level. The inconsistencies in the planet’s magnetosphere could kneecap satellite observations and act like a poltergeist in computerized systems.

“Such a major change would affect our navigation systems,” according to two geophysicists from the University of Rochester, “as well as the transmission of electricity.

The spectacle of the northern lights might appear at different latitudes. And because more radiation would reach Earth’s surface under very low field strengths during a global reversal, it also might affect rates of cancer.”

Tin foil is electrically conductive, though, so make sure you keep your head well grounded. If you shape the foil right, it’ll act like a Faraday cage around your skull and keep the polarity switch from frying your brain.

Source*

Related Topics:

Earth’s Polarity Has Been Increasing*

The Sun’s Polar Shift has Begun

Sun’s Magnetic Field = Shift in Human Behavior*

Earth Shift: Underwater Landslides Taking Place*

Freaky Weather, Climate Change, Pole Shift, or Signs of a New Era!?

Magnetic North Pole Shift Speeds Up!

A Universal Shift in Reality!

Electro-Smog and the Shift of Ages

Is the Sun and Earth Synchronizing?*

 

GMO Wheat Trials to Begin in Europe*

GMO Wheat Trials to Begin in Europe*

By Paul Fassa

Due to the popularity of gluten-free food items, and the rise of digestive disorders related to wheat allergies, much of the public believes that our modern wheat supplies are grown from genetically modified seeds. But this is not the case. There are currently no approved genetically modified varieties of wheat in the market place.

That may soon be changing in Europe, however, as the Rothamsted Research group working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Essex and Lancaster University has reportedly received approval in the U.K. to begin trials of genetically modified wheat. (Source.)

Peter Melchett of the UK Soil Association that supports organic farming said:

We do not believe that this trial should go ahead. It is vital that the trial crop does not escape from the trial site given the inclusion of antibiotic resistance and herbicide tolerance genes, but that is exactly what has happened on multiple occasions with GM wheat trials elsewhere.

It has been proven that there is gene drift from pollen even from GMO test fields to existing non-GMO and organic field farms. There are also seed mix-ups that can occur within seed storage facilities. Organic and non-GMO farmers have shown evidence that it is impossible to maintain coexistence without contamination from GMO crops. (Source)

For example, Switzerland, international corporate home of Monsanto’s chief GMO rival Syngenta, will not allow open field GMO testing. So Syngenta uses the United States and other areas for their open field trials with empty lots and fields leased locally, and usually unknown to non-GMO farmers in the same area.

GMO Wheat Has a Negative Economic Impact on Wheat Exports out of the U.S.

An Oregon wheat farmer’s unexpected discovery of GMO contamination from what is believed to have been GMO wheat open field testing ten years earlier created a halt of wheat exports from the U.S. to several countries back in 2013, harming U.S. wheat exports that year. (Source.)

Asian and E.U. nations that have zero tolerance for GMO won’t allow GMO traces of grain imports due to their labeling laws, even if only suspected of genetically altered wheat and other grains or crops, which had led to refusing it instead of purchasing it.

In other words, GMO crops have an economic impact on non-GMO and organic crop exporters in the USA, yet GMO seed producers refuse to produce mapping of their testing fields and the federal government protects their secrecy. (Source)

This was a major flop at the time, resulting in lawsuits initiated by conventional and organic farmer groups against Monsanto for damages suffered by GMO grains discovered in their non-GMO exports of wheat that excluded them from exporting their crops. And since there is no commercially offered GMO wheat in the USA yet, these were from field tests only. (Source)

GMO Crops Worldwide: A Serious Health Impact

Despite the mainstream media’s refusal to seriously acknowledge the growing sentiment against GMO agriculture, many unbiased independent scientists attest that GMO agriculture threatens our health and the future of food itself.

It’s not only the dangers of genetic damage to animal and human life, but many GMO crops were created mostly for the purpose of withstanding toxic pesticides and herbicides that the GMO people create themselves. One such herbicide is the world’s top seller, Roundup.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient of Roundup, and as you may now know, it has been declared as a probable carcinogenic by a committee of international independent scientists commissioned by the WHO (World Health Organization).

More on glyphosate.

Is it Just the Gluten, or is There More to Gluten Sensitivity?

There is a growing suspicion that perhaps glyphosate is more responsible for the growing epidemic of gluten sensitivity than simply gluten. Rather than simply blaming gluten for digestive issues and gut inflammation completely and creating a whole new food industry of gluten free products, which can be unhealthy themselves, there is more evidence that the culprit for gut inflammation responses to wheat and grains is largely due to glyphosate and the gluten that’s common in harmfully processed breads and baked goods.

A major reason Monsanto created Roundup Ready GMO crops is to withstand their herbicides without being destroyed themselves. Genetically engineered crops are meant to absorb glyphosate completely in order to prevent Roundup herbicides from killing them while they suffocate weeds, that’s all part of the design.

So those who consume non-organic corn or soy products alone, which are 90 percent plus GMO and are ubiquitous in processed and snack foods, are taking in the bulk of glyphosate herbicide toxicity.

Add factory farming livestock that are used for non-organic milk and dairy and slaughtered for most meat products as glyphosate carriers. They are fed GMO soy and/or corn meal from crops that are filled with glyphosate.

Consider that French molecular biologist Gilles-Éric Seralini and other independent researchers have determined that other adjunct booster chemicals in glyphosate herbicides create an even more toxic synergy than the active ingredient of glyphosate alone. (Study text)

They were able to isolate those other ingredients with state of the art chemical analysis lab equipment. Those ingredients can be protected by so called “Trade Secrets Law.” Roundup’s other ingredients were never divulged to the EPA. So the EPA had allowed glyphosate herbicides claiming glyphosate was actually safe.

A class action suit has been initiated by cancer victims who dealt directly with applying Roundup; they claim glyphosate in that product caused their cancer. From this some evidence that an EPA top official suppressed EPA scientists from disclosing glyphosate dangers has emerged.

A letter from a deceased former EPA official whistleblower has created an attempt by plaintiff lawyers to get more documentation of her claims. Questions about EPA-Monsanto collusion raised in cancer lawsuits:

But wait, the topic is wheat. And wheat is not genetically modified to withstand Roundup or other glyphosate herbicides yet – right?

Commercially Grown Wheat and Other Grains are Desiccated with Roundup

To desiccate means to dry up or completely remove the moisture. A lot of grains, especially wheat and oats grown in the upper Midwestern and Northwest states as well as Canada are confronted with short harvesting times as winter sets in.

A few decades ago grain growers in Scotland discovered they could shorten harvest times by killing and drying the wheat before winter set in to possibly ruin the crop. They used Roundup for desiccating grain crops since so far there are no Roundup Ready GMO grain seeds and those crops do not resist Roundup’s glyphosate. This has become common in North America lately.

Use of Glyphosate Correlates with Rise in Gluten Sensitive Diseases

They say glyphosate binds to gluten in grains, and glyphosate is known to cause intestinal irritation, damage, and gut flora problems. This may be another link to the gluten source of intestinal issues, according to independent scientists.

Above is a timeline of Celiac incidence graphed against incidence of desiccating wheat with glyphosate herbicides. A similar graph exists with glyphosate herbicides and autism.

And now we have trace amounts of glyphosate appearing in organic grains. The amounts are small, but they shouldn’t be there at all. That’s what international importers of our grains declare, and they’re getting stricter about that.

It’s possible that irrigation streams and rainwater may be responsible for spreading elements of glyphosate. Another possibility is spraying from aircraft could be affecting organic farms near GMO areas. Organic barley has been the most affected. This even threatens our domestic organic beer industry. (Source)

Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus, Plant Pathology of Purdue University, has been attacked by GMO industry hacks and academic researchers who depend on GMO industry funding for his critical view of GMOs and glyphosate’s affect on plant foods, the soil they inhabit, and the farm animals fed with GMO corn and soy meal.

Dr. Huber’s open letter appeal to investigate GMO farming further was sent to the USDA head at the time, Tom Vilsack. It was ignored. Then the attacks, even from Purdue University, began. Coincidence?

Dr. Huber told Dr. Joseph Mercola in an interview that while independent testing has confirmed the chronic toxicity of GMOs and Roundup, which the industry denies and decries, they have not provided proof of their long term safety. Dr. Huber stated:

When the EPA employed the term ‘substantially equivalent,’ it gave the chemical companies essentially a waiver on doing any of the safety tests. The only thing that they’ve ever tested for is acute toxicity. Well, we know that glyphosate, for instance, isn’t an acute toxin. It’s a serious chronic toxin. [Emphasis added] That’s been well-established in peer-reviewed scientific articles. We have more of those coming along all the time. There is no question that it’s a chronic toxin. (Source)

Dr. Stephanie Seneff and Dr. Anthony Samsel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have focused on glyphosate’s environmental, animal, and human damage extensively. They have examined several independent lab reports and done epidemiological studies, of which the above graph is one example, with similar graphs for autism rates.

They released a statement that corroborates Dr. Huber’s remarks of chronic toxicity leading to a toxic overload from daily food consumption of glyphosate treated crops, whether GMO or conventional farmers’ desiccating: (Source)

It’s just that you don’t get killed or die today from it; you have to suffer through the process of gluten intolerance, leaky gut, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, or any of those diseases that are related to the health of your gut, which we’re seeing now on an epidemic scale in our society.

Activated charcoal is a possible remedy to detox from glyphosate in the body. Also, this short video is worth viewing for understanding how to employ niacin as part of the detox in lieu of saunas.

How the FDA and USDA Allowed Industry Demands to Ruin Bread and Pasta

Chemically bleaching flour is banned in Europe, where so far nutritional food has some value. There, white flour is created by letting the crushed grains age in the open air and sun for several days. No chemicals are used.

Elsewhere, including here in the USA, even many so-called whole grain breads have some chemically bleached white flour in them. Before it becomes flour, wheat and other non-organic factory farmed grains are treated with fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides from seedling to storage. A really bad start!

Wheat itself was agriculturally hybrid naturally to increase its gluten content, satisfying mass producing bakery demands for an easier, gummier, and more pliable dough to deal with for mass production.

Then the highly nutritious bran and the husk with fiber are removed leaving only the light yellow endosperm, which is virtually all starch with very little nutritional value and a high glycemic index rating.

In order to bypass the aging process, add shelf life, and get that clean white colour, the endosperm is crushed and treated with chlorides to get it white instantly. A byproduct of this process is alloxan, which is used to induce diabetes in lab animals for medical testing!

Never mind looking for that on bread labels. Alloxan is a byproduct of the bleaching process, not an ingredient. To avoid it, simply put any bread back on the shelf that includes white flour unless you’re in Europe or it specifically states unbleached white flour.

And now for the clincher. In order to make the flour dough even easier to use by large scale commercial bakeries, they bromate the flour by adding potassium bromate. In addition to blocking iodine that your thyroid needs to fully function as the control center for your endocrine (hormones) system, potassium bromate is carcinogenic.

Source*

Related Topics:

GM Wheat Trial in U.K. Proves a Failure*

South Korea and Japan Shuts Down U.S. Monsanto Toxic Wheat Imports!

GM Wheat Shutting Us Down!?*

Alarming Amount of Glyphosates in the Foods you Eat*

Glyphosate in your Bread*

Glyphosate has been a Known Carcinogen Since the 1970s*

 

GMO Golden Rice Shows Stunted and Abnormal Growth with Reduced Grain Yield*

GMO Golden Rice Shows Stunted and Abnormal Growth with Reduced Grain Yield*

By Christoph Then

A new publication has reported unintended effects in genetically engineered rice producing precursors of vitamin A, so-called carotenoids. Crossing the manipulated rice with the Indian variety Swarna led to a nasty surprise: The resulting plants showed extensive disturbance in their growth. The researchers identified several reasons for this: The new gene constructs interfere with the plant’s own gene for producing growth hormones, and the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of chlorophyll that is essential for vital functions in the plants.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.

The observed effects are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties. In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

“Instead of helping people to combat malnutrition, these plants, if grown on the fields, might endanger their whole rice harvest,” Christoph Then says for Testbiotech.

“It is worrying that effects that can arise from crossing genetically manipulated plants with other varieties are, as yet, not included in risk assessment.”

It is not the first time that such problems have been reported: Some other ‘Golden Rice’ lines are already known to show irregular patterns of inheritance. Furthermore, there are uncertainties regarding the biological quality and safety of the plants. For example, additional changes in the metabolism of the rice kernels were described in 2016.

So far, there are no varieties available for commercial cultivation. According to the International Rice Research Institute IRRI, the safety and usefulness of the plants for nutrition needs further investigation.

Source*

Related Topics:

India’s Organic Rice Revolution Proves GMOs Are Unnecessary*

Rice from Fukushima to Be Sold in Britain*

Philippine Farmers Uproot Monsanto’s GM Golden Rice*

GMO Arctic Apples to Hit Shelves Without Clear Labeling*

FDA Approves New GM Pineapple*

On the Rights of Nature*

On the Rights of Nature*

On the Rights of Nature*

By Mari Margil

Reading headlines on the environment can be terrifying.

In November, a New York Times headline stated, “Great Barrier Reef Hit by Worst Coral Die-Off on Record, Scientists Say.” In December, USA Today reported “Giraffes face ‘silent extinction’ as population shrinks nearly 40%.” And in January, the Washington Post reported that “U.S. scientists officially declare 2016 the hottest year on record. That makes three in a row.

Environmental degradation is advancing around the world. The United Nations has warned that we are heading toward “major planetary catastrophe.” With this there is a growing recognition of the need for fundamental change in how we, humankind, live on planet.

More than forty years after the passage of the major federal environmental laws in the United States, including the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act – laws which are now mirrored around the world – the earth’s species, waterways, oceans, coral reefs, forests, and other ecosystems are rapidly declining.

These environmental laws, rather than protecting the rights of the environment to exist and thrive, instead regulate its use and exploitation. Thus, environmental laws largely legalize harm – including fracking, mountaintop removal mining, and pipelines – rather than protect against it.

These laws are premised on nature being considered property under the law, and therefore, as right-less. Much like indigenous peoples, slaves, and women have been considered right-less under the law – unable to defend their own basic rights to life and well-being – so today do environmental laws treat nature.

A movement is building to advance a different paradigm, one which is recognizing the inherent rights of nature

Rights of nature laws have now been passed in more than three dozen communities in the United States, as well as codified in Ecuador’s Constitution. These laws recognize the inalienable rights of nature – or Pacha Mama as is stated in Article 71 of the Ecuador Constitution – to exist, thrive, evolve, and be restored. These laws transform nature from being property under the law to being rights-bearing.

While the passage of laws recognizing the rights of nature is new – the first laws in the world were first established within the past decade or so – the idea of nature having rights is not new.

Many have said that the recognition of legal rights of nature is a codification of indigenous culture into law, thus reaching back thousands of years of human history. More recently, though still more than a century ago, environmentalist John Muir wrote that we must respect “the rights of all the rest of creation.” In 2015, Pope Francis called for a new era of environmental protection, stating in a speech before the United Nations, “A true ‘right of the environment’ does exist…”

Much of the more modern day discussion heralds back to Professor Christopher Stone’s 1972 law review article titled “Should Trees Have Standing – Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects” in which he considered why we might want, and what it might mean, to recognize legal rights of nature.

Stone described how under the existing structure of law, nature was considered “right-less” having no legally recognized rights to defend and enforce. Thus, nature – much like slaves once were – was treated by the law as a thing, as property, existing for the use of its owner.

Moving from the idea of rights of nature to the codification of those rights in law first occurred in Tamaqua Borough in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, in 2006. Now communities in a number of states have such laws in place, the largest being Pittsburgh, where the City Council unanimously passed the rights of nature law in 2010. These laws recognize that ecosystems and natural communities have the legal right to exist and flourish, and that residents and their government have the authority to enforce and defend those rights.

There are several cases now in the United States, in which oil and gas companies are challenging laws recognizing the rights of nature. The companies , Pennsylvania General Energy and Seneca Resources, are claiming that these laws – which prohibit fracking related activities as a violation of the rights of nature – violate their corporate constitutional rights. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (for which the author works) is representing ecosystems that are seeking to intervene in the cases to defend their own rights.

In Ecuador, we are also beginning to see the impact of these laws, as indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, communities, and public interest organizations seek to enforce and defend the rights of nature in the face of numerous threats from governmental and corporate actors.

In a 2015 decision related to illegal shrimp farming, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador explained that enshrining the rights of nature in the country’s constitution establishes a “biocentric vision in which nature is prioritized, as opposed to the classical anthropocentric conception in which the human being is the center and measure of all things, whereas nature was considered a mere provider of means.”

The Court ruled that the lower court, which had earlier ruled in the case, had failed to consider the rights of nature in its decision. In not considering these rights, the Court explained, the lower court failed to recognize that the rights of nature are “transversal” such that “all the actions of the State, as well as of individuals, must be in observance…to the rights of nature.”

The Court explained that under Ecuador’s Constitution, nature is now a holder of rights, and that government and the people have a responsibility to uphold and protect those rights. This comes with the recognition that until and unless we establish a harmonious relationship with nature – much different than humankind’s relationship with the natural world today – we will continue to see the decline of ecosystems and species, the very fabric of life.

As communities in the United States advance the rights of nature, and in Ecuador people seek to defend the constitutional rights of nature, peoples in other parts of the world are advancing such rights as well.

In India, for example, the National Ganga River Rights Act is being advanced for consideration by the national Parliament. Half a billion people depend on the river, yet it is an ecosystem in severe decline. The Act would establish rights of the river to exist and flourish, and the right of people of India to water and a healthy, thriving river ecosystem.

In Nepal, a rights of nature constitutional amendment is being considered to address climate change. As one of the world’s most mountainous nations, Nepal is facing the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, which people, species, and ecosystems throughout the country depend on for water. As a Sherpa explained to me, with the melting of ice and snow, “The mountains are turning black.”

The Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin is the first tribal nation in the United States to advance an amendment to their tribal constitution to recognize the rights of nature. In September 2016, the Ho-Chunk General Council voted overwhelmingly in support of the proposed amendment. A vote of the full membership is expected later this year.

The preamble to the proposed Ho-Chunk constitution amendment reads:

Whereas, in the tradition of the Nation’s relationship with Mother Earth, from which we came and upon which we depend…we recognize that to protect Mother Earth, we must place the highest protections on nature, through the recognition of rights in the Nation’s highest law, our Constitution…

As Bill Greendeer of the Ho-Chunk Nation explained,

Passing the Rights of Nature amendment will help us protect our land.

Source*

Related Topics:

Schooled in Nature: There’s a way to Teach Children Without Colonizing Their Minds*

Nature Doesn’t Need People

Do Women Who Surround Themselves With Nature Live Longer?

Has a Foreign Fracking Company Quietly Buys Rights to Botswana Conservation Park?*

****Up Nature: Sex change for Nine-year-olds*

Bolivia: Rights of Mother Earth Becomes Legal*

Law of Mother Earth: Chile Suspends Nature Buster!

Seattle Council Votes to Divest Billions from Wells Fargo over DAPL Support*

Couple Forced to Destroy 40yo Pond on their Own Property because Govt Owns the Rainwater*

Kenya: Rights Of Mother Earth: Maasai Response

City Threatens to Turn Off Flint Residents’ Water*

City Threatens to Turn Off Flint Residents’ Water*

Residents who don’t start paying for their lead-contaminated water will face shut-off notices this spring.

The Last Drop!By Yessenia Funes

Residents in Flint, Michigan, have been dealing with lead-contaminated water for years now—since 2014, to be exact. Many people have responded by refusing to pay their water bills.

Soon, however, those who ignore their bills will have their water turned off. Flint’s chief financial officer, David Sabuda, told the Detroit Free Press on Wednesday (February 15) that the city will begin issuing water shut-off notices in the spring. The move follows Governor Rick Snyder’s February 7 announcement that the state will stop subsidizing the cost of the city’s water by the end of the month.

While the city says water shut-offs aren’t directly linked to the governor’s announcement, the decision shapes how the city will handle future water payments. Per the Free Press:

Sabuda said there isn’t a direct link between the end of the state credits and the resumption of water shutoffs, except that the end of the credits makes it even more important for Flint to collect the water payments businesses and residents owe, while at the same time making it harder for many customers to make those payments.

The city used to threaten shut offs for lack of payment, but that practice ended last year when local and national media, including Slate and CNN, reported that the city was issuing notices to residents and businesses for lead-contaminated water. The Associated Press reports that Snyder originally committed to providing customer credits through March, but the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) January 24 announcement that water lead levels now meet federal limits changed that timeline.

Though the state cites the decrease in lead levels as the reason to end its funding, the water is still not safe right out of the tap. Per the MDEQ: “The state continues its recommendation that residents use filtered water for drinking and cooking for everyone in their household due to the chance for disruption to pipes as the city replaces lead service lines.”

Members of the state’s water advisory committee worry that the declaration is premature, reports MLive.

“We are making a huge mistake by claiming things are getting better and will continue to get better,” said Laura Sullivan, a Kettering University professor and Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee member. Sullivan worries that the state would be “10 steps further back in establishing trust with residents,” if lead levels spike again.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver told The AP that city officials will push the state to continue the assistance until the water is safe to drink. Ending the subsidies would save Michigan more than $2 million a month.

Source*

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Chinese Farmer Studies Law for 16 Years to Sue Chemical Company for Polluting His Land*

Chinese Farmer Studies Law for 16 Years to Sue Chemical Company for Polluting His Land*

By Julia Travers

Chinese farmer Wang Enlin and his neighbours sued Qihua Group, a mineral processing and chemical production company, for polluting their homes and farmland. Wang, who spent 16 years studying law to pursue this goal, and residents of the Yushutun village won an initial judgment against the multi-billion dollar state-run company, the Daily Mail reported.

Wang, who is in his 60s, began to pursue this case after his home and the surrounding farmland were flooded with toxic waste from Qihua in 2001. The 2001 Qiqihar Angang River District Council minutes reveal a mayoral determination that the polluted land could not be used for a “long time,” the People’s Daily said.

The Qihua plant created a “71-acre wasteland with calcium carbide residue and a 478-acre pond with its liquid waste,” according to the Daily Mail. It released 15,000 to 20,000 tons of annual waste.

“I knew I was in the right, but I did not know what law the other party had broken or whether or not there was evidence,” Wang said.

Though Wang had only three years of formal education, he began to read law books with the help of a dictionary. He spent 16 years hand-copying notes out of books he could not afford to buy in a bookstore. He traded the store owner corn for allowing him to use the books. As he learned about Chinese land management law and environmental protection law, Wang began to educate his neighbours on their legal rights as well.

In 2007, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims of the China University of Political Science and Law came to the aid of Wang and his neighbours. Liu Jinmei and other lawyers from the center agreed to help the villagers file their suit against Qihua and the case finally began to be processed in 2015.

Wang and the other residents of the Yushutun village won an initial judgement against Qihua in the Angangxi District Court of Qiqihar. This court awarded the victims financial compensation amounting to about $119,000 and Qihua is appealing the ruling.

“We will certainly win. Even if we lose, we will continue to battle,” said Wang, according to the People’s Daily, which described him as having white hair, “mud-covered rubber shoes” and a faded “old cotton-padded jacket.”

China’s rapid industrialization over several decades has led to widespread land and air pollution issues that the court system has struggled to manage, China Dialogue explained. Very few of the victims the legal aid center helps choose to pursue legal action or persevere for as long as Wang, Liu told the People’s Daily.

Source*

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