Let’s fact it: we SHOULD have been at the vitally important meeting in South Africa this month when the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Uses (CCNFSDU) met earlier this month. We have worked for years to build a coalition of the unwilling, those countries which do not want GMOs in their food supply, especially unlabeled.
We could not attend because we did not have the money to buy the tickets, pay for the hotel rooms, for meals, etc.
So the world of people who want health (and food) freedom lost a great deal.
Small contributions mount up if there are a lot of them. Big contributions help, of course. But if you are able to give even a dollar a month, you should. Go to our home page and click on the “donate” tab and then either use credit cards, pay pal or send a check. But do it.
Most people (that’s 96% of 186,000+) people do not take this responsibility seriously. They they wonder why we cannot do everything they -and we – think needs to be done. Hmmm. Maybe it is because we are understaffed and severely underfunded while the other side has more money than God to accomplish its tasks.
Do you buy coffee? Buy it from Natural Solutions Foundation. Do you buy vitamins? Buy them from Natural Solutions Foundation. Do you buy magnets? Buy them from the Natural Solutions Foundation. Do you rent movies? Rent them from Natural Solutions Foundation on our Home Page. Do you have small balances left over on your gift cards? Donate those small amounts to the Natural Solutions Foundation.
There is a reason that we ask people to do these things – it is so we can fight the health freedom battle effectively.
Don’t give anything and there won’t be anything to protect your health and your health freedom.
And if you cannot donate or purchase, that’s fine, too, as long as you are organizing your email list and your community.
The information is out there. Each and every one of us has a role to play. Are you playing yours? If you are, congratulations, and thanks.
For donations in multiples of $25, weâ€™ll say â€œThanksâ€ with a 1/2 lb bag of our full bodied Valley of the Moon(TM) Coffee: Shade Grown, GMO and Chemical Free Coffee from the Chiriqui Highlands of Panama, it’s Friendly Food Certified: Friendly to Your Health, Friendly to the Workers and Friendly to the Environmenthttp://drrimatruthreports.com/?page_id=1130
Day 3, April 19, 2008
We landed today in Cotonou, the capital of Benin and the shoving began: African airports are like airports everywhere, but worse. Everyone apparently needs to be first, whether there is any point to being first or not.
I donâ€™t need to be first and neither do General Stubblebine or Tyson, so we were pretty close to last â€“ last off the airplane, last through customs, last to get a baggage cart, last to get our luggage.
Tyson, however, was nearly the first of our party to get vaccinated! I am strongly averse to vaccination and, to my mind, the more you study any one particular vaccine, the more you NEVER want to take that preparation. That is certainly the case with Yellow Fever Vaccine. Although many countries in Africa require proof of vaccination against this devastating disease (unnecessary, really, for people who have access to good health, Vitamin C and silver solutions) for entry. Bert, Tyson and I were able to produce exemption letters for our visas and secured our visas for Benin without any difficulty.
I had forgotten that, once you clear passport control and get your entry stamp in Benin, there are two guys in (what once were) white coats asking to see your Yellow Fever Vaccination card with a valid stamp on it. We speak English. They speak French. The possibility of communication was nill to none. Gen. Stubblebine and I tried the words for â€œExemption letterâ€ in as many ways as we could think of. We failed miserably. Finally, ready to go home, I suppose, since we were close to the last people on the plane, the two vaccine police men gave up in exasperation and waved their hands, shouting, â€œGo! Go!â€ and waving us through the door.
Tyson, however, was separated from us and was not so lucky. Before he knew what had happened, he was sitting in the Health Officer’s Office being asked in French for something (he does not speak French). He, too, kept saying that he had an exemption letter (from me, in fact!) but there seemed to be no uptake on that. He looked up from getting out the letter from his papers and saw that the Health Officer was bending over a refrigerator from which he took a vial and a syringe. “No! NO!” Tyson said and waved his letter of exemption around (probably a little wildly – I know that is the way I would have waved mine!). The man got out a yellow International Vaccination Card, stamped it and said, in perfect English, “Give me 10 Euros [ Approximately $16 US].
Tyson gave him the Euros and the man waved him out of the office WITH a vaccination card but WITHOUT the vaccination!
Once we got through the pushing and shoving at the luggage conveyor, we exited past a Beninese guard who checked every single one of our luggage tags to make sure they matched the numbers on our luggage. With all the people ahead of us, can you imagine how long that took?
Finally we exited the baggage area only to realize that the customs people were opening every suit case of every traveler. I stopped dead and looked around in utter dismay: It was already 9:45 PM and we were clearly going to be here for hours. For some reason (I have no idea what it might have been), the customs official nearest to me looked up, saw me and said, again, “Go! Go!” and we made our way out into the crowd waiting to greet their friends and relatives, associates and colleagues. There was a gentleman in a brilliant and distinctive African suit waving a very welcome “Songhai” sign. We clustered around him and he led us to the van he had brought to pick us up from Songhai.
Because our plane had not come in the night before, his two hour round trip to the airport (and the fuel which is so important in this very poor country) was wasted. He was, however, gracious and helpful nonetheless.
When we got to Songhai Center about an hour later, we were greeted in this oasis of plenty and prosperity in the middle of want and hardship by Father Godfrey Nzamjou, the man whose inspiration lives and breaths in Songhai. Although the restaurant closes at 10, he and his staff had kept it open for us (how different from Paris!) and we had an hour or so to converse and orient ourselves.
We were led to a modern building with suites and bedroom, each with a shower and private bath.
The next day, we toured the compound in the morning and saw the ingenuity, love and tenderness, yes, tenderness with which this land has been turned from a desert into a Garden, perhaps a Garden of Eden. Today, in a world where food riots are becoming more commonplace daily, the fertility which has been coaxed from the land is an urgent lesson for possibilities and a call to action. The Panama Santa Clara Project will follow the Songhai model for farming without waste or pollution. Imagine what we can do with land that is so abundantly fertile!
The heat was truly ferocious and about 11:00AM we retired indoors because anywhere outside was impossibly hot. We had more excellent food, all grown here, and waited for Fr. Godfrey to come back to us for more discussion.
Around 4 PM he arrived and said, “OK. Now you know what we have at Songhai. What are you looking for?” We spoke at depth and at length and videotaped the discussion. I think it is important that you see that and will mount it as soon as we have enough bandwidth to make that possible. It was a wonderful conversation in which we expounded on our dream and Fr. Godfrey said that this was what he had been waiting for.
We agreed that we must support each other’s work and he reaffirmed that he will, without a doubt, come to Panama to set up the design for the zero emissions farm complete with bio-digester and bio-gas for fuel independence as well as power independence. Fr. Godfrey is the proud “papa” of the largest bio-gas facility in Africa. Cheap, easy and clean, bio-gas can heat our water, run our generators, pump our liquids, grind our grains, etc. And we will learn from a master!
But Songhai is much more than just a fuel independent system. Please take a moment when the tape is mounted to watch it and capture the shared dream of this world leader whose Center is a recognized United National Center Excellence in Africa.
After more chat and dinner (outstanding, of course), Tyson, General Bert and I set to working through the immense number of details for our community in Panama, the Santa Clara ARC, with the clear understanding that what we are doing now is highly preliminary since the community will ultimately make these decisions for itself.
That took us late into the night and we fell asleep quite exhausted. Oh, by the way, there was still no internet connection.
Day 4, April 20, 2008
Today was our “BIG DAY” at Songhai Center. Father Godfrey is immensely busy and he agreed to give us most of a full day to discuss our plans and possible working together in considerable detail – that is a large part of why we came.
We began with breakfast at 8 AM in the restaurant which serves about 200 meals per day to visitors. All food served here is grown here or on other Songhai Centers so everything is not only fresh, but free of pesticides and all other types of synthetic, chemical additives. It is wonderful knowing that every bite was grown by the labor of people who love the land and understand how to nurture it so it can nurture them. We are very eager to replicate that loving relationship between our food and our selves as we come to create the farm and farm school which will be a core activity of the Santa Clara ARC.
We took a tour of the facility including the foundry, the kiln, the fields, the food processing areas, the store, the animal sheds, the fish pond, the composing area, the bio gas facility, etc., etc. All of this amazing integrated farming has been created here in the total absence of fertile soil. Fr. Godfrey told us that he had worked 15 years of the 20 that he has been here to create this astonishing fertility. We start in Panama with astonishingly fertile land!
Songhai’s rich productivity daily feeds 1500 people (300 workers and their families, which average 5 people), about 100 students who are in training, typically for 18 months, and the 200 guests who come to the African and Western restaurants. I think it is an easy leap to conclude that our fertile farm will be producing much more than we members of the community, guests and health center clients can consume so it is reasonable to expect that one center of profit for the Santa Clara ARC will be the distribution and sale of outstanding food!
Because of the intense heat, everything stops for several hours during the middle of the day. Everything, that is, except lunch. We wove our way from shade spot to shade spot to the restaurant for lunch and much talk about what we have seen. Tyson is a black smith/iron worker so he was particularly fascinated by learning what he needs to know to make the bio gas apparatus and by the machines which Songhai designs and makes on site.
Later, Fr. Godfrey came to where we are staying, where there is, mercifully, air conditioning and we started to talk together. I asked him how many other groups like ours had come to set up sister facilities as we are doing.
Tyson had the foresight to set up a video camera to film this discussion and it was a great decision. The video is not compatible with my computer so we have to download it to a disc and upload it that way. Clearly we do not have the opportunity here in Songhai, but we will do so shortly.
The upshot of the discussion was that we are what Fr. Godfrey has been waiting for as a partner community! We will bring our experience in order to work toward sister health centers in Parakou, Benin and Santa Clara, Panama. He will use his experience to make Santa Clara a full zero emissions facility farming center and school.
Meanwhile, we had missed our appointment with Col. Mikode, the Codex Contact Point for Benin because we arrived more than a full day late. This delay winds up having significant impact on Codex. Read on.
Dinner, then more intense discussion and off to bed.
Day 5, April 21, 2008
Today we started the day with meeting for about an hour during breakfast with Fr. Godfrey. By the way, Songhai makes its own delicious yogurt. After about an hour, he had other things to do before heading off to Nigeria to meet with government officials there to replicate the Songhai model there. There are also two people from separate projects doing similar things in Nigeria. One is, like Gen. Stubblebine, a General.
Sometime later, Col. Mikode and Pascal, the head of the Benin Horticultural Research Station came to see us. They had good news and bad news for us.
The good news was that they had prepared a budget and program for the agricultural project using magnets to treat the water used to grow plants. Preliminary results suggest significant increases in crop yield, nutrient density, plant vigor and significant decreases in water utilization. Given the rapidly worsening shortage of food in the word due to climate change and diversion of food crop acreage to biofuels (which cost at least 29% more energy than they produce so the bargain is a very, very bad one for the planet, its carbon balance and its people) the ability to increase yield and nutritional value, while eliminating all requirements for pesticides and other chemicals, is a very important asset. Equally important, perhaps, is the reduction in water usage to get stronger and more vigorous plants.
I had been perplexed by the fact that nothing was happening with the agricultural magnet project – nothing. I had designed a simple (and, I hope, elegant) design which would test the hypotheses of increased crop yield, increased nutrient density, increased plant vigor and decreased water usage but they require actually being carried out to show anything. I could not understand it when I got an email saying that the project was postponed until they got the money to carry it out.
When Pascal presented me with the document outlining the costs, I nearly fell off my chair. Instead of 6 test beds, there were 33. Instead of raised beds edged with scrap lumber of corrugated tin or sand bags, they were asking for 4.2 metric tons of concrete, thousands of bricks, etc.
It was clear that we needed to talk!
The next interesting meeting was a telephonic one with Dr. Koura, who was supposed to serve as the Beninese delegate to the Codex Committee On Food Labeling next week in Ottawa. She had informed the Codex Contact Point, Col. Mikode, that she would not be funded by the WHO Trust Fund at 11 PM on Saturday evening but that email was not read until 9 AM Monday morning (yesterday). That means that Benin will not have a voice at this important Codex meeting where the initiative begun by the African nations at the meeting in Ghana in February this year to demand labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms was pushed forward so impressively.
I asked our Natural Solutions Foundation Trustees if we should not host (i.e., pay for) the Beninese delegate to make sure that there was a strong voice from this country at the Codex meeting. We quickly agreed and the next thing we needed to do was convince Dr. Kora and the Beninese government that this was a good idea.
Col. Mikode had no problem with it and said that if Dr. Koura was willing, so was he.
Day 6, April 22, 2008
Early this morning Tyson, General Stubblebine and I set off with a translator to visit Pascal at the Horticultural Research Station to find out what had gone wrong with the Agricultural Magnet project and retrieve 20 pairs for use here at Songhai.
Because we had a translator with us this time, as opposed to the last time we talked with Pascal, we discovered what the problem was: Language difficulties led to Pascal believeing that since we had identified 11 potential crops for the experiment, he would need to conduct the experiment with 3 beds of each crop. The undertaking would be huge and he wanted to build structures to make it possible. I explained that we wanted to choose 2 crops from the 11 and Pascal heaved a huge sigh of relief. We walked out to the fields to see where the projects would take place and Pascal has already applied the magnets to a buried rigid water pipe in preparation for our visit. Once we got the miscommunication out of the way, it became clear that a real project using amaranth and tomatoes would be carried out and carried out well.
We are eager to get those results and the results from the Songhai application. It is our hope that the results are robust enough that we can begin to change agricultural practices in many places in the world. It is essential, the Natural Solutions Foundation believes, to reclaim food production, eliminating pesticides and other dangerous chemicals, and making ti clear that the best crop yield is produced by natural means, not by GM crops. Dr. Koura, on the other hand, when we finally did get together this afternoon, was not so sure it was a good idea. She had “turned off” the process by telling her bosses that she was not, after all, going and was adamantly reluctant to tell them that she could now go under our sponsorship.
We tried every which-a-way to Sunday to persuade her, but she was not movable. We got ready to write to the US and UN Ambassadors from Benin to see if they could provide a person to attend the meetings (it is much easier to get a Canadian visa from the US) when we got a piece of very bad news, indeed.
This information makes us think that we are seeing a pattern: The Ugandan Codex delegate had taken the ball into his own hands and arranged an African strategy session on GM labeling the day before the CCFL meeting was to begin. He is a credentialed delegate from a member nation. Canada denied him a visa twice.
The strategy of the power brokers is clear: fix it so the opposition cannot show up and then claim that the process is legitimate. That is pretty much the same as arresting the opposition and claiming that your election was democratic (or counting the votes on a programmable electronic voting machine with a predetermined outcome, for that matter!)The Codex process is far from legitimate. Our Trustees have just spent an extended period on the phone working out our next strategic moves to deal with this new tactic.