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By Helke Ferrie
For VITALITY Magazine September 2004

Billions of years ago, when the universe was born in unknown millions of galaxies, our planet earth eventually also appeared. The same star dust that became our planet, also created all life and maintains it every second of the day.  Nobel laureate Christian de Duve writes, ?All organic matter can be summarized by the formula CHNOPS, which stands for carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur.? If life was a symphony orchestra in which all instruments are equally important to the musical event, the players being vitamins, enzymes, proteins, hormones, and so on, it would be the minerals assuming the role of the first violinist who presents the correct key-note to enable the conductor to begin.  Everything living and non-living is at every moment literally the earth as well as itself.  

Andre Voisin, a French agricultural biochemist, observed in the 1950?s in his magisterial book Soil, Grass and Cancer: ?We should frequently meditate on the words of Ash Wednesday: Man, remember that you are dust and that you will return to dust.  This great scientific truth should be engraved above the entrance of every faculty of medicine 
 [because] our cells are made up of mineral elements 
 the animal is a product of the soil, the biochemical photograph of the environment in which it lives, particularly of the soil which manufactured the nutrients for it.?  Voisin then outlined the ?principles of protective medicine? which he believes is ?the great medical science of the future? because what protects life is the earth itself.  Minerals are the catalysts of all biological activity during which the boundary between organic and inorganic vanishes. 

The Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund
held its annual conference on May 1 at Brock University in St. Catharines.  Addressing the theme ?Beyond Silent Spring: Striving for Optimal Personal and Environmental Health?, the speakers included Dorothy Goldin-Rosenberg, the co-producer of the internationally famous documentary ?Exposure? on the environmental causes of cancer (available through, renowned activists James Brophy (on occupational links to cancer),  Liz Armstrong (101 preventive measures), and Janet May (on successful actions against cosmetic pesticide use).  I spoke on the politics of cancer.  One of the speakers was Mennonite farmer and homeopath, Murray Bast who runs Bio-AG, a consulting business ?Working with Nature 
 Naturally? through which he offers farmers the biochemical knowledge to ?produce quality crops and healthy livestock?.  Those who get sick from pesticides and herbicides, Murray often cures through homeopathic therapies.

In the late 90?s Murray read a Vitality article of mine on genetic engineering.  He asked me to address the Mennonite farmers most of whom knew nothing about GMO?s  soil-depleting, nutrient-reducing, and disease-promoting properties, nor did they know that pesticides and herbicides cause cancer; having no telephones or a modern scientific education, critical research through journals and internet was not an option.  Following my workshop, many farmers returned to ?working with Nature naturally.?   

Murray spoke about the effects of minerals on health and disease.  When he put up an overhead with the following information, I stopped taking notes and sat through his lecture in a state of shock: in 1920, before the devil?s brew of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, acid rain and groundwater loaded with antibiotics and industrial chemicals,   50 bushels of grain contained the protein that by 1968 required a 100 bushels. The vitamins in found in 50 bushels by 1968 required 250 bushels.  Worst of all, those 50 bushels in 1920 were shock-full of essential minerals which by 1968 were thinned out over 500 bushels. Today it?s even worse.  US Department of Agriculture food tables of March 2001 show that the calcium content in broccoli dropped 50% since 1975, iron in watercress dropped by 88%, and vitamins in cauliflower by 40%.  The vitamin C content in sweet peppers dropped from averages of 128 mg to 89 mg, potassium in all foods is down from 400 mg to 170 mg, and magnesium (the queen of minerals), is down from 57 to 9%.  By the way, if your serum level of magnesium drops on any day by a mere 10%, you may have a heart attack ? the less dramatic, every-day low levels merely set us up for it.  (Full details on
  Conventionally grown potatoes and apples now have very little or no vitamin C or potassium at all (Nature, April 19, 2001). 

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warned in 1999 (L. Chasen-Taber, 70:509-16) that the currently low levels of selenium predispose everybody to cancer.  On July 3 the Toronto Star?s front-page headline read ?Cancer crisis looming in GTA? and reported a 46% predicted increase over the next ten years.  Now, if we paid attention to the causes of cancer ? all of which are known ? we could reduce that incidence by at least that percentage in ten years instead. The cause of all cancers is dead food that is unable to nourish our bodies, such as to make repair possible, and maintain biochemical defenses against carcinogens.  It is at the level of the soil that our food is killed.

Even if you eat your 3 to 5 recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily, you are not getting enough of the most essential nutrients, especially minerals.  The US National Academy of Sciences issued an alert this year, stating that we have to eat twice as many vegetables just to approximate the RDAs ? which are already ridiculously low.  A world survey undertaken by The World Resources Institute in Washington DC, published March 2000, entitled Underfed and Overfed, discussed the  ?global epidemic of malnutrition? showing that the poor do not receive the required nutrients because they lack the calories or food diversity, while the affluent are increasingly obese but are equally deprived of the same nutrients because our plentiful, instantly available and perfect-looking food is mostly dead.  The fabulous documentary ?Supersize Me?, currently running in our theatres, is finally making millions aware of this creeping mass suicide. 

Let?s follow a 300-pounder through a down-town mall as he or she waddles along, huffing, puffing, sweating and depressed as hell.  Maybe she is full of donuts, deep-fried foods, antibiotic-loaded chicken fingers, and a bag of trans-fatty acid laced chips ? or maybe he is desperate and thinks he is doing his best by avoiding sugar and drinking aspartame-sweetened pop instead, but that will really fry his nervous system and set him up for cancer. Or perhaps she is truly eating very little (like a fat friend of mine) and subsisting on bagels (made from dead flour), chicken-breast (loaded with antibiotics the toxicity of which causes the body to retain more and more water in a desperate attempt to stop the toxins from passing through the cell membrane), and some crispy salads laced with herbicides causing the immune system to go even more frantic.  All these toxins, unopposed by mineral-dependent biochemical processes, prevent cell repair and the  proper ratio of muscle to fat.  In addition, these enormous starving bodies probably consume several prescription drugs, all of which further deplete whatever intrepid, lone nutrient might make it into that ground zero of a body.   So, there they drag themselves, full of false food, but really in a state of increasing starvation towards a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis   -  purchased at the local supermarket and supported in an unconscious suicide pact by Medicare.  

So, of what might cause this oxymoronic state of obese starvation?  

Our perfect-looking produce and attractively-packaged supermarket foods likely lack boron (prevents osteoporosis by marinating calcium), calcium (builds bones and teeth), chromium (which regulates insulin and thereby appetite, protects against diabetes and cardiovascular disease), copper (which ensures healthy blood, controls body temperature, fatigue, regulates fertility), iron (required for cell repair, production of neurotransmitters, hormones, and enzymes), magnesium (needed for everything from mental functioning to controlling blood pressure, protection against intestinal diseases and cancer, the metabolization of all foods, and assignment of all nutrients to their proper functions, controls the entire energy system of the body, and enables plants to grow), manganese (ensures corrects cholesterol levels, makes collagen, central for cell repair and more), molybdenum (needed for the liver to do its detoxification job), nickel (ensures proper iron absorption), phosphorus (makes bones rigid and teeth healthy, maintains structure of cell membranes and essential fatty acids, enables DNA and RNA production), potassium (needed for all cellular activity, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and the beating of the heart), selenium (in charge of all detoxification processes and source of all immune functions) silicon (required by bones and cardiovascular system), sulfur (controls structure and function of all proteins), vanadium (prevents diabetes), zinc (vital to proper immune and joint and brain function, integrity of skin, hair, nails,  and menstruation).    

All of these minerals are depleted by synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, acid rain, and agricultural methods that have ceased to be in dialogue with the earth but only consider quantity, efficiency and profit (usually packaged in the beguiling lie that we must feed the world).  The main effect of ignoring the earth is the depletion of those minerals which animals and people need in order to make catalase ? the single most important enzyme needed to prevent incorrect cell duplication, or cancer.  Murray introduced me to Andre Voisin?s 1959 book on soil and cancer.  For anybody interested in nutrition is pretty much the equivalent of a scientific religious experience. Voisin describes biochemical research into infectious disease, infertility, and cancer that appeared in the first half of the 20th century before it was successfully shelved (and almost forgotten) by those forces in society that worship at the altars of greed and efficiency, namely the producers of modern agriculture, drugs, the super market  - bewitching us with the promise of fast-delivery of everything to everybody all the time. An internationally celebrated scientist in his time, Voisin takes the reader through the biological activities of all minerals and shows how they protect, heal and maintain life. Rather than discuss cancer in the usual military terms we are used to, Voisin shows how mineral depletion causes cells to ?adapt? by becoming cancerous, while nutrient replenishment can reverse that state.

Recently, world-wide epidemics such as AIDS and cancer  and the total failure of the high-tech, super-synthetic approach to stem them, are forcing researchers back to examining the discoveries of earlier times.  University of British Colmbia?s medical geographer, Harold Foster is a leader in the field.  In his writings he discusses how, for example, Senegal with its naturally selenium-rich soils has almost no AIDS at all, even though the culture tolerates promiscuity, while certain parts of China are naturally selenium depleted and virtually everybody has it.  In industrialized countries, the AIDS rate is highest where foods are lowest in selenium due to processing and selenium-depleting agricultural methods.  Professor Foster just returned from South Africa where European nutraceutical companies conducted a study with AIDS patients by treating them with selenium and related nutrients ? curing most of them at a fraction of the cost of drugs that merely extend life a little.

But the human mind can learn and indeed it does.  Since January, when the truth about antidepressants hit the fan (see my February article), doctors are faced with patients who ?just say no?.  The Medical Post of July 6 in a front-page article reported that psychiatrists are in a panic because they have been trained as drug pushers and know next to noting about nutritional biochemistry, environmental toxins and how those cause mental illness and depression.  Medical history has always advanced through non-compliant patients or the angry relatives of dead ones, so this will send doctor back to the libraries and the internet.  Similarly, since last year, when the scandal broke about hormone replacement therapy, consumption of those carcinogens is down by more than 60%. Since this March, when the Ontario College of Family Physicians published their report on the health effects of pesticides, insisting they be stopped and urging people to eat organic food, the chemically addicted lawn is rapidly becoming history as people demand by-laws forbidding cosmetic pesticides.  

Humanity evolved over five million years with planet Earth; we will make it ?by the skin of our teeth?, as Thornton Wilder?s famous play on the subject put it.   We can stop Soil-depletion Herbicides Insecticides and Transgenics  (formulate the acronym yourself) and save ourselves.  If we use our brains, the Earth will never forsake us.  

Sources and Resources:

ANAMOL Laboratories, 905-660-1225 or 1-888-254-4840 (for complete hair mineral analysis - ca $ 35)
J. Challem & L. Brown, User?s Guide to Vitamins and Minerals, Basic Health Publications Inc., 2002
C. Dean, The Miracle of Magnesium, Random House, 2003 (also distributed by Kos Inc. 519-927-1049)
C. DeDuve, Vital Dust: Life as A Cosmic Imperative, Basic Books, 1995
H. Foster, What Really Causes AIDS, Trafford, 2001
M. F. Holick, The UV Advantage, ibooks Inc., 2003
World Resources Institute Monograph 150: Underfed and Overfed; The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition, March 2000
R. Pelton & J.B. LaValle, The Nutritional Cost of Prescription Drugs, Morton, 2000 
A. Voisin, Soil Grass and Cancer, Crosby Lockwood Ltd., 1959 (out of print, for facsimile copies for $ 25.00  call Bio-Ag 519-656-2460)
M.R. Werbach, Textbook of Nutritional Medicine, Third Line Press, 1999

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