Introducing Aggie – The Traveling Agrobacterium™

Aggie is a product of genetic engineering. She is used to insert foreign genes into normal plant cells, which grow into genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for companies such as Monsanto.

This process endangers our food supply and health when these GMOs are allowed to grow in the open field.

This site is dedicated to providing educational material regarding these risks in a simple, easy to understand format. You don’t have to be a molecular biologist to understand the process.


The Adventures of Aggie the Traveling Agrobacterium Trailer


GMO Aggie

On the Airwaves this Sunday – Join Us!

BarbThis Sunday, April 19, 2009, I will be on the air with Dave Hodges. We will be discussing HR 875, Livestock Tracking, Homeland Security’s Stamping Out program, GMO, and Monsanto. You are welcome to join us in what should be a lively discussion. Here is the information: 


The Republic Broadcasting Network

Host(s): Dave Hodges

Call In Number: 800-313-9443

Show Time: Sundays, 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM CST

Live streamed at

Often referred to as Americas most independent talk show host Dave Hodges brings a wealth of professional experience to the RBN airwaves as an award winning psychology, statistics and research professor a college basketball coach a mental health counselor a political activist and writer who has published dozens of editorials and articles in several publications such as The Arizona Republic and Freedoms Phoenix. The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges is a hard-hitting investigative journalism show which features an array of impressive guests coupled with an in-depth analysis of important personal, social and geopolitical issues which are largely unreported in the mainstream media. The wide variety of show topics range from the loss of constitutional liberties, to the subsequent implementation of a police state under world governance, to exploring the limits of human potential. The primary purpose of The Common Sense Show with Dave Hodges is to provide the listening audience with the tools necessary to reclaim both our individual and national sovereignty. Join us every Sunday night as we apply a Founding Fathers Common Sense perspective towards solving the dire threats that confront all Americans in these times of unprecedented challenge.


NAIS Survival Toolkit – Available Now!

NAIS Toolkit

March 7, 2009
Contact: Darol Dickinson, 740 758 5050
Barnesville, Ohio USA


The NAIS SURVIVAL TOOL KIT is on line, and immediately printable in full color. This information is easy to forward, assisting livestock producers world wide to defend their assets and family farms from invasive government enforcements. Michelle Reid sums it up, “We’re out here branding cattle, worrying about our best horse going blind, when all of a sudden the USDA is working at mach speed filling our saddle bags with heavy NAIS rocks.”

The NAIS SURVIVAL TOOL KIT contains quotes and information from trustworthy journalists, real cattle producers, reliable attorneys, and USDA employees. Research starts with the Basics by attorney Judith McGeary, then NAIS Western Horseman polling data, documentation of the USDA conspiracy to “sell” NAIS, and the deceptive international political entanglements. It documents cost analysis, flawed thought that was conceived either from a desire to destroy the livestock industry or just plain ignorance of food production, animal health and food safety. Producers are totally mystified why NAIS is promoted by USDA with proposed budgets up to $400,000,000 to “make every livestock producer comply.”

Print the KIT and be well informed. Inform everyone. Inform government employees who have never considered the pain and distress they will inflict on livestock owners if NAIS is fully enforced. Share the KIT with veterinarians and county extension agents. For printing go to and touch NAIS TOOLKIT. Print PDF and select a 2-sided print text.

A valuable chapter is provided by the Australian Beef Association, chairman Brad Bellinger. It clearly documents the giant $350,000,000 cost of their ID system called NLIS. Five years ago producers were told NLIS would assist Australians in improved export sales, but now, fully operational, NLIS has ABA selling their beef for the second lowest prices of any major export beef country. All globally enforced ID schemes are proving to be profitable only to the governments, and ID equipment providers.

The 14 sheet (front and back) page KIT contains selected articles from Mark this site for 85 published articles equipping producers to protect themselves from a run-away government scheme. NAIS is not fully operational and can be truncated. Once a government enforcement program is fully active, the citizenry can never stop funding it. Use the KIT to protect yourself, your family and your grandchildren from NAIS enforcements, fines and Gestapo penalties.

Bay Area Spraying Stopped, Phony Program Revealed!

The LBAM “infestation” and resultant “emergency situation” is a manufactured “threat” so that the CDFA and pesticide maker can get a whole lotta MONEY.

From The Monterey County Herald

1. The LBAM is not a threat to agricultural products because it has no history of doing extensive crop damage.

2. The only threat to growers is a trade quarantine that exists only because the U.S. Department of Agriculture made poor decisions decades ago and could correct the problem with a policy change.

3. Fear has been falsely planted by Kawamura, causing the Monterey County Farm Bureau and state Chamber of Commerce to act hastily on misinformation. Not only is eradication unnecessary, but some scientists say it is impossible.

Won’t the LBAM damage hundreds of crops? Evidence and some scientists say “No.”

In Santa Cruz County, which has more LBAMs than the rest of the state, zero crop damage has been found.

In New Zealand, the LBAM has become a minor pest. A report by Dr. Daniel Harder, adjunct professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California-Santa Cruz, and Dr. Jim Walker, technical research scientist for Hort Research in New Zealand, said, “Hawkes Bay horticultural researchers report that … if LBAM were controlled,

… the maximum damage caused by LBAM would be 1 percent or less of crops.”Isn’t the quarantine real and valid? It may be real, but not valid.

The USDA protected U.S. growers by incorrectly classifying the LBAM when it was in Australia and New Zealand. Now Canada and Mexico follow the USDA zero-risk trade policy, refusing to buy some U.S. products. The advice of UC-Davis entomology professor James Carey to the California Assembly’s Committee on Agriculture was to “consider more realistic trade policy, consider non-zero risk.”

Fear, in the form of gross exaggeration of the LBAM problem, caused growers to believe the LBAM must be eradicated. Carey is the author of three books on insect demography. In his testimony to the Assembly Ag Committee on March 12, he said, “The population growth model presented by the (state agriculture department) would not be taken seriously by any editor of any entomology or ecology journal in the world.” By the state estimate, Carey said there would already be 50 moths per square inch in Berkeley, a total of two thousand trillion moths. Nevertheless, he said that eradication with or without spraying pheromones is impossible and that ground crews should be used to “control” the LBAM. This is a repeat of what happened in New Zealand, following widespread reaction against the conduct of the aerial spraying plan. We should learn from New Zealand’s experience.

Because the state threat is exaggerated, can be removed by a USDA policy change, and cannot succeed, Californians must demand that the state terminate any plans to spray.   

Evidently, current plans to spray have been stopped thanks to public resistance! Can we say, GOTCHA?

A reader just sent the following compilation, which details the amount of funds the CDFA can access if it “is able to establish and maintain an emergency status and resulting eradication effort for this moth.”    



LBAM Eradication Program – A Fraudulent Program.


1. The Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM) is not a significant pest.

any more than thousands of other insects including 300 moths in California that are routinely monitored, but do not require any treatment, unless some balance goes out of control, generally caused by a pesticide induced kill-off of their predators.  European Union doesn’t even monitor LBAM.  They just live there like ants or crickets live here, and like over 80 other moths in LBAM’s exact family that already live here too.  After 30-50 years we see that LBAM is already well balanced in nature being eaten by the same predators as its cousins: birds, earwigs, spiders, beetles, etc.


2. The Light Brown Apple Moth has been in California about 30-50 years.

Looking at location spread and population density of the LBAM in California and scientifically comparing it to other moth movement and then adjusting for specific LBAM characteristics.


3. LBAM has done NO damage in California

CDFA confirms that, courts have ruled that, no one denies it.


4. LBAM in California requires NO treatment, certainly not eradication.

Based on #3 and #4 above, and so much supporting independent scientific information.



5. If the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is able to establish and maintain an emergency status and resulting eradication effort for this moth, the CDFA will be able to access approximately $500 million of emergency funding over the next five years, increasing its annual budget approximately 40%.  And with control of delivery and monitoring for such a program, they will almost certainly be able to substantiate continuing the program for at least another five years at about another $100 million per year.


6. It is impossible to eradicate the LBAM and there is no reason to.

Maybe, if all the people were moved out of the entire state of California and all remaining life in California was exterminated, that might do it, but even that is not certain as such an experiment has never been performed.  It would be similar to trying to eradicate ants or cockroaches.  It simply cannot be done.


7. The CDFA created a huge charade using science like a shell game.  There is probably not a single independent Entomologist in the state that thinks that LBAM can be eradicated from California.  CDFA handpicked a group of people on their Technical Working Group.  Most are willing to consider only the information that CDFA provides them and many have an interest in the program proceeding.  Independent Scientists with alternate known opinions were intentionally and aggressively left off.  The University of California recently offered a panel of experts to look at the eradication program of LBAM, but CDFA refused. 


8. There is no problem managing LBAM as 100’s of other pests.  New Zealand has shown how successful that is given they are forced to ship their goods to the U.S. with a zero tolerance for LBAM.  They successfully use modern safe integrated pest management techniques, so their methods control LBAM, while they are controlling many other more significant pests.


9. But CDFA needs an “Eradication program to obtain the emergency funding.


a. That included an aerial spray of pesticide over populated areas.

b. CDFA claimed aerial spray as a state of the art technology using pheromones, a less toxic alternative that the people had asked for.

c. True, toxic synthetic pheromone based pesticides are preferred in agriculture fields to the more toxic WWII derivatives, but not sprayed over people and intentionally left to stay time released into the air for 24 hours per day every day until they spray again.

d. Tens of thousands got sick of which over 643 managed to get an illness report filed when no one wanted to accept a report.  An 11-month-old boy, perfectly healthy son of an air force major, went into respiratory arrest following the spray.  He was airlifted out and his life was saved at a Stanford Hospital and he will likely be on steroid cocktails now for the rest of his life to keep his airway clear.

e. CDFA had reports done using only the information that the CDFA gave to the analysts and then the results were manipulated to tell the public that there were no links found between the spray and the illnesses, when in fact, the relationships between the spray and the illnesses could not be disproved by even their own manipulated reports.

f. CDFA claimed that the window for eradication was only months and that they could not wait to do an Environmental Impact Report.

g. CDFA claimed that aerial spray was the ONLY method of eradication.

h. Stewart Resnick had recently purchased the chemical company that won the contract for the aerial spray pesticide.  Resnick, a life long democrat, had given Governor Schwarzenegger $144,600 for his reelection campaign, and Resnick is connected to previous USDA reviews of this same moth that worked in Resnick’s favor.


10. After Santa Cruz and Monterey Superior Courts ruled CDFA had violated the emergency exemption of CEQA law, after 31 cities representing 2.4 million people passed resolutions against the spray, after 90 additional labor unions, school boards and other organizations passed resolutions against the spray, after almost all elected officials in the region took positions against the spray, after bills to stop the spray finally made it through committee, after the governor did a 180 degree turn and requested that they not use the spray, the CDFA created another lie and on June 19 announced: based on a sudden science breakthrough, they were now going to discontinue the aerial spray over populated areas and instead use a release of sterile moths.


a. Up to that moment, only aerial spray was possible to eradicate the LBAM per CDFA.

b. Sterile release of moths has never been successful eradicating a moth on this earth.

c. CDFA announced the sterile release testing will start in 2009 and be fully operational in 2011, but CDFA never mentioned that was inconsistent with their previous information that their window of opportunity to eradicate the moth was just months.

d. Sterile moth release has never eradicated any moth, and for LBAM, there are even further reasons it cannot possibly work:

– LBAM males guard over female pupae and mate when the female matures to a moth.

– LBAM females are promiscuous mating multiple times.

– LBAM females will live longer to successfully mate in order to produce their eggs.

– This method has never been tested.

– To rely on this method, therefore, is beyond absurd in science.

e. Releasing 20 million sterile moths per day could interfere with the natural balance involving predators and ultimately cause serious problems with unlimited numbers of other insects and pests.


11. CDFA needs a full-speed-ahead eradication program to keep the money flowing.


a. CDFA needs lots of activity and hoopla to substantiate just this years approximate $100 million that was already allocated to the LBAM emergency within the aerial program.

b. Previously, every item of CDFA’s fraudulent eradication program that was documented was refuted by qualified independent scientists.

c. Now, after the announcement of the sterile moth scientific breakthrough, and to avoid independent scientist review, CDFA is representing their eradication as a tool box of methods containing many tools that they alone know which one to use under which circumstance, and they are no longer detailing or documenting any of them.  This strategy successfully avoids scientific review, since scientists generally want to review a written document rather than verbal statements made by PR people to the media, etc.

d. At least one tool in their box, splatting, is more toxic than the aerial spray.  Combinations of permethrin and synthetic pheromone attached to 3,000 fixed objects in each square mile of populated areas, such that the chemicals permeate the same air children breath 24 hours per day, and maintained that way with repetitive applications.

e. This means that people will live between 0 and 45 feet away from a poison source 24 hours of their day, whether they are at home, work, school, the park, the playground, the pool, etc.  The air is permeated from these poison sources.  The poison source is cancer causing and a reproductive effector in that it affects the ability to reproduce, and it impacts newborn survivability and impacts pregnancy loss.  It can cause genetic damage as demonstrated in a lab study using human cells and women on farms using permethrin get asthma at higher rates than those not exposed to permethrin; and permethrin is more dangerous for children than adults.  These problems do not include the effects of toxic synthetic pheromone pesticide or the effects of the two in combination, the manner in which they will be deployed.

f. Mobile fogging is totally unknown to the public at this time, but there is no limit that the CDFA will put on themselves, nor is there any amount of dishonesty, intentional deception or harm to children and people generally that they will avoid to accomplish garnering the funds that an emergency eradication can provide them.

g. A proper management program of LBAM and other insects will simply not bring any additional funds to their normal annual budget.  The LBAM “Eradication” represents a potential increase in their annual funding of approximately 40%.


Recent videos relating to the newly packaged fraudulent LBAM eradication program:



1. State Drops Plan For Bay Area Moth Spraying  3 minutes, 1 second June 19, 2008 first video. 

2. Daniel Harder, Ph.D. Executive Director, The Arboretum, University of California at Santa Cruz.  LINK June 23, 2008.  14 minutes, 2 seconds 


$300 Barrel Dead Ahead – Fade to Black: Is This the End of Oil? By Michael Savage

I went to the local gas station/market today, and gas was $5.00 per gallon. We live in a very rural community, so the price of gas in our one-pump town is generally 40-50 cents more per gallon than in the city 50 miles away. As I walked into the store, I heard some people talking about how much the price of gas has gone up in such a short time. Tell me about it. I only go to town when I have to. The days of a spur of the moment trip to town for fun have long gone.

I spoke with the owner of the store, and suggested that she put up a hitching post so that people could ride their horses to town in order to save on gas. She took me around to the side of the store and pointed out a tree and a fence post that would be suitable to tie my horse to. She was all for it. She feels bad about the price of gas, but what can she do?

When I got home, I checked my e-mail and found the following article from Carolyn Baker’s e-mailing. I think I will take this very seriously. Having once been in the truck dispatching business, I know how the cost of fuel affects the price of goods. With truckers looking at $5.00+ per gallon diesel prices, you don’t have to be an economics major to see the end result – exorbitant food prices, not to mention shortages.

Our nation has been led down the garden path of dependency on cheap transportation to deliver food from one side of the country to the other, and from one nation to the other. It has taken many years, but this dependency is now taking its toll. We are reaping what we have sown. Our addiction to oil has brought us to the brink of change, and since we cannot seem to curb this dependency on our own, it looks like nature is going to do it for us whether we like it or not.


Here is the article by Michael Savage:

Article Reprinted from UK INDEPENDENT

Pump Aberdeen heliport is heaving. Dozens of rig men are waiting to board helicopters and begin a two-week stint in the middle of the North Sea. It appears that business out on the rigs, known simply as “the job” in these parts, is booming. Eventually, it’s our turn to board a cramped chopper, shoulder to shoulder with the solidly built workers who sit silently, psyching themselves up for a fortnight surrounded by cold, crashing waves.

Two hours later, we land at a rusting rig named Alwyn, 440 kilometres off the coast of Aberdeen. Ollie Bradshaw, the rig’s burly production supervisor, meets the new arrivals.

“What’s life like offshore? Busy. Very busy,” he says. He’s not joking. As we traipse around the rig’s two platforms, perched 200 feet above the (thankfully) calm waters of the North Sea, we navigate between the numerous piles of scaffolding, timber and new equipment that take up almost every last square inch of space. The on-board population has swollen to 250 people lately. In some cases, three men are having to share a room, while new digs are built next to the rig’s busy helipad, where several flights land and take off each day, delivering a conveyer belt of fresh workers – from painters and decorators to extra scaffolders and, of course, the men whose expertise lies in harvesting fossil fuels from beneath the sea bed.

Even in the common room, no one is standing idle – not around the television, nor the snooker table. The on-board gym is empty. In the canteen, a few men grab bacon rolls before heading off to start their 4pm shift. Those on an earlier shift have just had their lunch – there’s been a run on lemon tart. Yet the hive of activity that Alwyn has become of late is not down to all the oil it is producing. Far from it.

“Alwyn started out as an oil well and platform more than two decades ago. As oil production has fallen, it has been adapted and changed,” says Bradshaw, a man who seems devoted to his life here in the middle of nowhere. The rig’s expanding team is having to work harder than ever to keep it going. A vast network of underground pipes has linked it to new pockets of oil and gas – some of the neighbouring platforms seem like they are just touching distance away. New techniques have been used to boost the quality of the last dregs of oil coming out of the ground. Empty reservoirs are being drained of natural gas. Now, a major discovery of a field of natural gas has meant that, after 21 years of work, Alwyn’s creaking infrastructure is being given a facelift to keep going for another 20 years. But it will also mean its conversion from the oil platform it once was will be complete.

The end of Alwyn’s oil well days is a familiar story in the North Sea. The rig men may be working as hard as ever, but UK oil production has been falling rapidly ever since 1999. In the past, that hasn’t been such a problem – other producers around the world have always been able to produce more of the black stuff to keep the wheels of world industry lubricated. But according to some, that may be about to change. Oil prices are so high – $137 a barrel – and predicted by Alexey Miller, head of Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant, to rise as high as $250 a barrel – that social tensions have begun to emerge, while the world’s leaders have been going cap in hand to oil producers, asking them to squeeze a few more barrels out of their wells. And as prices have kept on breaking records, an ever-growing worry looms in the background, the elephant in the room of the oil price rise: what if they can’t produce any more? What if, this ti me, the oil taps really are running dry?

Worryingly, for a world reliant on the dirt-cheap energy that oil provided throughout the last century, the idea that oil production in all nations may soon start to decline just as in the North Sea has been seeping into the mainstream. The “peak oil” theory – that oil production has reached its maximum and will soon begin its decline, bringing potentially catastrophic consequences to the modern world – no longer just comes from internet crackpots and conspiracy theorists; now geologists, market analysts and oil prospectors believe that this scenario is becoming reality. And within the past year, there have been signs that the major oil companies are admitting this themselves. If they are right, high petrol prices could be the least of the world’s problems.

The idea is simple enough. Those warning against an imminent peak oil crisis – the “peakists” – say that while the world will not totally run out of oil, all of the oil that is easy to reach has been all but used up, meaning that producing enough oil to meet the growing world demand is becoming an ever harder task. Worse, we now stand at the high water mark of oil production. That means that not only will we never be able to produce much more oil than the 87 million barrels a day we now consume, but world oil production will actually begin to fall very soon, causing not only ever higher prices, but also creating the prospect of shortages, industrial upheaval, battles over ever-depleting resources, and even an end to the modern world built upon the assumption of a plentiful supply of cheap oil.

“A lot of people keep talking about ‘this peak oil theory’ – but there’s nothing theoretical about it. It’s just a very obvious fact of nature,” says Colin Campbell, a geologist who searched for oil on behalf of several oil companies, and is the high priest of the peakists. “Oil is formed in the geological past. That means it’s a finite resource. That means production begins and ends, and passes a peak in between. So the fact that there is a peak is beyond dispute. We’ve had the first half of the age of oil, which has changed the world in every conceivable way. We now face a decline.”

Campbell is in no doubt that the world’s oil production is as high as it is ever going to get. “The result of the latest update I made using industry data was that the regular, conventional oil peaked in 2005 and if you put all the other types in – the heavy oils, the gas liquids, the Arctic oil, the deep water projects – I have it this year,” he says, in a softly spoken, matter-of-fact tone. “That’s not cast in stone. It could slip a year or two. But I’m absolutely confident that it’s in the right area.”

Whereas Campbell’s fears once branded him a wacky radical, as the years have gone by he has been joined by a growing band of industry experts who have reached a similarly grim conclusion. One of those was an American investment banker examining “flow rates” – the speed at which oil was being taken out of the ground. After being asked to advise Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush on energy policy during the 2000 election campaign, Matthew Simmons found that more and more oil fields had begun to decline. That was because, though new technology was helping to extract oil faster than ever before, it was also causing the fields to run dry more quickly, too. “All of a sudden there were fields that were declining by as much as 30 per cent per year,” he says. “But I didn’t call it ‘peak oil’ – I didn’t even know what that was back then.”

Simmons came across peak oil in 2002, when he attended the first meeting of a new group founded by Colin Campbell. Only around 45 people showed up to the first meeting of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (Aspo), but since then, its findings have convinced a lot more people around the world. Aspo now has branches in 36 countries, with Kuwait the latest wanting to found one. And some serious analysts have also made the mental journey from dissenters to peak-oil prophets.

“I’ve been on that journey,” says Chris Skrebowski, who spent half his career in the oil industry and now edits the UK oil industry’s publication of record, Petroleum Review. He admits to having been dismissive of the idea that the world’s wells were running dry. It was a visit from Campbell in 1996 that made him change his mind. “I didn’t quite believe him, but I didn’t think he was the average nutter,” he says. Skrebowski began to take a look at the issue himself. The numbers told a clear story. “You can just about struggle through to 2011, if everything goes to plan – which, of course, it won’t – but after that, the numbers don’t add up. And that’s taking a reasonably conservative rate of decline. If you wind it up to a 5 or 6 per cent annual decline, then you are at this peak or plateau now.”

One man who believes that could be the real rate of decline is the archetypal US oilman, T Boone Pickens, otherwise known as the “Oracle of Oil”. Having made a fortune in the oil industry, Pickens now invests heavily in the oil alternatives he believes will be necessary to fill the gap left by falling oil production.

From the window of helicopter, flying above the uninviting waves of the North Sea, it seems hard to believe that the world could really be running low on easy oil. Dozens of rigs pepper the vast expanse of water, their burning flares making them look like floating candles. Spiralling wisps of smoke fill the North Sea sky – a reminder that there is still oil churning around. Despite the pedigree of the peakists, it’s hard not to think we’ve heard it all before, that it’s just the usual doomsayers predicting that the oilfields would run out, and that more will be found somewhere. But for the peakists, the North Sea is a great case study. Its rapid decline has come despite all the advantages the modern world could throw at it.

“The North Sea has the benefit of all the investment anybody could need,” says Campbell. “It’s got the most modern technology, and it’s got a political environment that’s stable. There’s no reason why it would be producing less oil than is possible, yet it has been declining at a rate of 7 per cent a year.” Perhaps even more worryingly, the last year has seen major oil companies begin to make more noises about potential problems ahead. Foremost among them has been head of the French oil company Total, Christophe de Margerie, who has declared that world production will never exceed 100 billion barrels a day, a level of demand expected in less than a decade. “The oil companies are changing their tune,” says Campbell. “They can’t quite say ‘peak’ in so many words. They don’t want to rock the boat.”

Back on dry land, in a seafood restaurant in Aberdeen, a senior oil executive talks freely about a future. “We can try to slow the decline, but we will never stop it,” he says casually, over a plate of scallops. “All we can do is get as much oil out of the ground as possible.” Meanwhile, Colin Campbell is flirting with official approval. He is already advising a Norwegian oil firm, and has recently been invited to give informal presentations to executives from two of the world’s biggest oil companies. A clear momentum has been built up around peak oil fears. For Simmons, it is the peak oil deniers that are now the ones sounding shrill. “I daily read these shrill sounding experts who still believe that oil should be at $40 a barrel,” he says. “It’s just unbelievable. It’s still cheap.”

Not everyone is convinced by the peak oil theory, though. This week, The Independent reported that, according to Richard Pike, a former oil industry man, now chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, there is more than twice as much oil in the ground than producers claim. But the most notable peak oil refusnik is the International Energy Agency (IEA), the oil supply watchdog set up by the world’s richest nations. It has said that not only is the world not running out of oil, but that production will continue to match the 135 million barrels a day that is forecast to be needed by 2050. It says that while conventional sources of oil may only provide around 92 million barrels a day of that, investment in Saudi Arabia’s fields and the growth of new sources of oil will provide the rest.

To the peakists, these standard oil industry ripostes are starting to wear a little thin, and have been damaged by the crashing and burning of some great white hopes. Not a single barrel of commercially viable shale oil, made from oil-rich sedimentary rock, has yet been produced. Oil made from tar sands found in northern Canada is near the top of the list of innovative sources of oil, but even the oil companies themselves admit that the amount of energy currently needed to produce a single barrel of it makes it very inefficient. And while drilling into ever-deeper waters might keep world production on its current plateau, the peakists say the days of “easy oil” are over.

As for the comforting idea that Saudi Arabia could simply turn up its taps and produce far more oil if it felt like it – the preferred belief of President Bush and Gordon Brown – the peakists have some pretty big problems with that, too. “The one thing that made peak oil a bogus issue was the supposedly proven fact that in the Middle East, we had 200 years of oil supply,” says Simmons. “Because of that, we obviously couldn’t have peaked. I’d just assumed it had to be true. Then I started doing my research.” After poring over more than 200 technical papers, he made the grim conclusion that, just like elsewhere, production in Saudi Arabia was either at or very near its peak.

And even the conservative estimates of the IEA have not been unaffected by the spectre of peak oil. It has decided to review how it sources its data on oil reserves, which is widely expected to lead to a lowering of its predictions of future oil supplies when it publishes its overview of the industry in November. If it, too, reveals that the days of free flowing oil could be over, the halls of power might begin to take notice.

None of this will make any difference to life on the Alwyn rig in the near future. For the next 20 years, it will be producing natural gas, and making low-grade oil from some of it. “We’ll be here until every last drop of oil is out of the ground,” Ollie Bradshaw reassures me.

But unlike Alwyn, more rigs will be decommissioned than refurbished if the peak oil theorists turn out to be right – and they warn that the effects on the world could be dramatic.

A world without plentiful oil, as described by the peakists, looks very different from today’s. The peakists are in no doubt about the aspect of modern living that would have to change. With transport soaking up the vast majority of the world’s oil, they maintain that our addiction to the car will have to go. According to Chris Skrebowski, large-scale electrification will be needed in all vehicles, perhaps with pylons placed down motorways to provide power. Diesel-powered public transport needs to be replaced with electric trains, trams, and trolley buses. That would create breathing space to make more profound societal changes, such as a growth of working from home. Matthew Simmons also sees the current global economy soon becoming unsustainable. “Local farms are now coming back,” he says. “We have all the technology in place to do that.”

That’s just for starters. According to Campbell, a wholesale change in the western lifestyle will be needed a little further down the road. “Cities will face massive challenges,” he says. “By the end of the century, when there really isn’t very much oil left, the world will be a very different one – much more rural, probably with fewer people. It’s a sort of doomsday message, but in some ways, it’s just a change from the modern mindset. There are people in the world who live a simple life like that and are very happy.” But that’s nothing compared with what could happen if we attempt to carry on regardless with ever-growing oil consumption. “If we don’t make changes, we’re going to have a resource war and blow ourselves up,” says Simmons. “I think that would be a really inconvenient way to end the world.”

So will the end of the oil age herald in a new dark age? Are we doomed to go back to sheltering in mud huts and living off a diet of turnips and water? Not necessarily. Thankfully, other peakists are optimistic that we can cope with a world without such vast quantities of cheap oil – if we act now. “Humanity is very ingenious,” says Skrebowski. “But at the moment, it doesn’t yet see a crisis. We’re just acting like a spoilt child who has had its lollipop taken away. At some point, some politician has got to come out and state clearly that the world is going to be different. It’s not the end of the world, but we’re all going to have to change the way we do things. And the sooner we get on with it, the better. The anticipation is probably worse than the reality.”

Let’s hope he’s right.

Apathy and Greed Fuel Food Crisis

by Jim Goodman




We seldom think about the availability of food. As a nation we have never been hungry and until recently food shortages always happened somewhere else. Still, we have little connection to the farm, most of us don’t know where our food comes from and we couldn’t care less. Some farmers are still small, growing and selling locally, but the big guys need GPS in the tractor and constant commodity updates as they contemplate planting more soy in Brazil or an investment in a Polish hog factory.

That’s a problem, our food system has gone global. Food is no longer food in the sense of “let’s sit down to supper,” food is an international commodity. It is viewed in strict economic terms both by the shopper looking for bargains at the supermarket and the stock traders who deal in pork bellies, unit trains of corn and cargo ships full of GM soy.

Commodities are fine in the financial world, but they have no place in our bellies. Wall Street couldn’t care less how many varieties of corn are cultivated in Mexico or Guatemala or for how many thousands of years it provided both physical and spiritual sustenance.

The fact that we place little value on our food, or that it no longer gives us the sense of home and community that it once did, goes to the heart of the problem. We have lost control of our food system, as consumers and as farmers. So? Since we still have plenty of food and most of us can still afford it, the current rise in food prices is little more than an inconvenience. Well perhaps, if you have money.

We don’t like to think about the nearly 50,000 people who, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, die every day world-wide from starvation or malnutrition-related diseases. Pictures of emaciated children make us very uncomfortable, but so long as we are not part of those pictures we can pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

But, the problem does exist, people cannot afford to eat. The image of Haitians eating cakes made of oil, sugar and mud in an attempt to stave off hunger pangs has to tell us something is terribly wrong.

Food shortages, high prices, corn ethanol, drought, together creating the “perfect storm”? It’s more than that, this food crisis points to a system in meltdown. In a world controlled by corporations, only one thing matters, profit, not ethics, not the environment, not food sovereignty, not even starvation. If you have money you matter, if you are poor you don’t.

While the price of bread and rice forces the poor to eat mud, could a butter shortage in Japan or a shortage of rye flour in the US, however inconsequential, cause even the rich to ask some questions about their food? Who could pass up beef tenderloin selling for $4.99/lb? A bargain, yet, how can it happen, what’s the hidden cost? Record high feed costs are forcing farmers to sell off their breeding stock, which means cheap tenderloin today and expensive burger tomorrow. We never question bargains, but we should.

Our apathy about our food, where it was grown, who grew it, what’s been added to it, is an open invitation for corporate interests to take control. We handed them the keys to the pantry and told them to make their profits however they wished.

Fuel shortages and high energy prices do not surprise us, why should food shortages and high food prices? The parallels are precise and exact. When we allow corporations to control entire systems they determine the source, supply and price.

It’s time we took control of our food system. Started producing more food locally, planted a garden again. Time we found the nearest Farmers Market. Time we started thinking about food in the big picture rather than whatever happens to be on our plate at the moment. Time we scrapped this corn ethanol nonsense. In sum, we need to reclaim our food system from the speculators, the corporations and the international financial institutions that pressure farmers to grow commodities instead of food.

And, what would it take for us to overcome our apathy towards food? No more pastrami on rye, no more butter? We seem oblivious to the 800 million people at risk of starvation, could a scarcity of our luxuries wake us up? We assume that the food we need and the food we love will always be available but, maybe it won’t.


Copyright 2008, Jim Goodman

Original posting at OpEdNews





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