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Troubled by wrinkles around your eyes? Worried that your skin is sagging, or those gray hairs are making you look your age?
So have sex.

Making love three times a week can make you look 10 years younger, claims a Scottish researcher.

"It's good for you to have good sex," says David Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, whose study on the effects of sex on aging appears in his book, Secrets of the Superyoung.

Over the last 10 years, Weeks and his colleagues interviewed 3,500 European and American men and women on a variety of lifestyle topics. Participants ranged in age from 20 to 104, but most were 45 to 55 years old.

The thing they had in common: They looked young for their age. That's what a six-judge panel decided after watching the interviewees through a one-way mirror. The volunteer judges guessed the participants' ages from seven to 12 years younger than their actual ages, Weeks says.

Interview topics ranged from how they deal with stress within relationships, how they get along with their parents and high and low points of their lives, to prior sexual experiences, how often they had sex and whether they enjoyed it.

A vigorous sex life, Weeks says, was the second-most important determinant of how young a person looked. Only physical activity proved more important than sex in keeping aging at bay, he says.

Other major influences on keeping a person young-looking included socializing with people of all ages, being married to or in a relationship with someone younger and, for women, taking hormone replacement therapy during menopause, Weeks says.

So, how often should you do it?

The young-looking participants had sex an average of three times a week, Weeks says. By comparison, a group of men and women in the same age bracket and from similar neighborhoods reported having sex an average of twice a week, he says.

More frequent sex -- more than three times a week -- didn't seem to produce any added benefits, Weeks says.

Casual sex doesn't count

And casual sex with different partners, or cheating, did not slow the aging process, the researchers say. In fact, Weeks says, it may cause premature aging from worry and stress.

"The sex doesn't work without a good relationship," Weeks says. "It works via a relationship that is very supportive and emphatic, in which both people are physically and emotionally compatible."

Others agree that sex can be good for your health.

"It's extremely important to your health," says Dr. Barbara Bartlik, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. "It promotes marital harmony. The stresses and strains become more manageable when a couple is having sex regularly."

And Carol Ellison, a California psychologist and author of Generations of Women Share: Intimate Secrets of Sexual Self-Acceptance, says previous research has shown other physiological benefits to sex as well.

Sex can burn fat and cause the brain to release endorphins, naturally occurring chemicals that act as painkillers and reduce anxiety, she says. In men, sex seems to stimulate the release of growth hormones and testosterone, which strengthens bones and muscles. In both men and women, research has shown, sex also seems to prompt the release of substances that bolster the immune system.

And people who have lots of sex, Ellison says, tend to eat better and exercise more.

But three times a week may not be optimal for everyone, she says. People who are healthier and feel younger, for instance, may want more frequent sex.

Plus, she adds, sex means different things to different people.

To Weeks, sex and orgasms are one and the same. In his study, the researchers assumed that people who said they had sex three times a week also had orgasms three times a week.

"Sex is the most pleasurable activity people take part in, and because the orgasm is the most pleasurable of that, it's hard to separate it out," Weeks says. "It's hard to say if it accounts for 50 percent or 75 percent" of the beneficial effects.

Does sex = orgasm?

But Ellison believes good sex can take many forms.

"We're caught up in this idea that sex equals orgasm," Ellison says. "You don't have to put on a performance when you have sex. You don't even have to have intercourse."

Preoccupation with orgasm, especially among women, can make them feel like a failure in bed when it doesn't happen, she says.

"The key is not, 'How am I doing? Am I getting turned on fast enough? Is this going to happen?' " she says. "The key is, 'Am I enjoying what is happening at this moment?' "

How often those moments occur seems to depend on where in the world you live.

Americans had the most sex in 1999, according to a recent survey of 18,000 men and women between 16 and 25 years of age conducted by SSL International, the British manufacturer of Durex condoms.

The worldwide average was 96 times a year, but Americans claimed to have had sex 132 times a year, followed by the Russians (122), French (121) and Greeks (115). Young Japanese made love the least often (32 times a year), the survey says.

Americans also seem to be getting a head start on people from other countries, reporting the earliest average age at which they started having sex. Americans lost their virginity at an average age of 16.4 years, followed by Brazilians at age 16.5 and the French at 16.8, the survey says.

The French had the most sexual partners, claiming an average of 16.7 each. Greeks were second with 15 partners each, followed by Brazilians with 12.5 and Americans with 11.8. Residents of India were the most faithful to their partners, with 82 percent saying they had sex with just one person.

But Bartlik says it's best to take the survey with a grain of salt. Researching sexual behavior is difficult, she says, because it's hard to get truthful answers. Some people inflate their answers on purpose, and for many questions it's difficult to give precise responses unless you've kept a weekly chart of sexual activity, she says.

"Perception is everything," Bartlik says. "Just look at the Woody Allen movie [Annie Hall]. He says, 'We never have sex.' She says, 'We're having sex all the time.' "

For information on other recent studies on sexuality, check out the Web site of the Kinsey Institute.


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Che il "pensare positivo" sia di aiuto a sentirsi meglio lo capiscono già i bambini della scuola materna, e questo può non stupire. Ciò che è meno ovvio è che a dettare la capacità del bambino di assumere un atteggiamento positivo anche nelle situazioni difficili sia, più che la sua indole, l'atteggiamento verso la vita e la capacità di pensare positivo dei suoi genitori.

Ad appurarlo è stato uno studio condotto da ricercatori della Jacksonville University e dell'Università della California a Davis, che lo illustrano in un articolo pubblicato su "Child Development".

Nello studio, i ricercatori hanno esaminato 90 bambini di età compresa fra i 5 e i 10 anni. I bambini ascoltavano sei storie in cui due personaggi provavano un'emozione dopo aver sperimentato qualcosa di positivo (ricevere in regalo un cucciolo), negativo (rovesciare il bricco del latte), o ambiguo (l'arrivo di un nuovo insegnante). Dopo ciascuna esperienza, un personaggio aveva un pensiero ottimista, inquadrando l'evento in una luce positiva, mentre l'altro aveva un pensiero pessimista, mettendo l'evento in una luce negativa. I ricercatori a questo punto chiedevano ai bambini di giudicare le emozioni di ogni personaggio e di fornire una spiegazione per quelle emozioni. In colloqui precedenti, i ricercatori avevano accuratamente valutato il livello di ottimismo e speranza di ogni bambino e dei suoi genitori.

Già dai 5 anni i bambini capiscono che le persone si sentono meglio dopo aver avuto pensieri positivi che non dopo aver avuto pensieri negativi, e dimostrano pure di comprendere l'importanza di avere pensieri positivi in situazioni ambigue, una comprensione quest'ultima che diventa più profonda con l'aumentare dell'età.

I bambini mostrano invece una maggiore difficoltà a comprendere come il pensiero positivo possa risollevare l'animo di qualcuno che sia coinvolto in situazioni negative, come per esempio cadere e farsi male. In queste situazioni, il livello di ottimismo e di speranza del bambino ha un ruolo significativo nella capacità di comprendere il potere del pensiero positivo, ma decisamente più grande lo ha l'atteggiamento dei genitori.

"Oltre all'età, il più forte predittore della comprensione da parte dei bambini dei benefici del pensiero positivo, non è il livello di speranza e di ottimismo del bambino stesso, ma quello dei suoi genitori", spiega Christi Bamford, che ha condotto lo studio.

I risultati, osserva la Bamford, sottolineano il ruolo dei genitori nell'aiutare i bambini a imparare a sfruttare il pensiero positivo per sentirsi meglio quando le cose si fanno difficili.


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Stressed, burdened with life's difficult problems and fear that your health is declining? Then sex is the answer to happiness, longevity and a healthy body. You don't agree? Well, here is a list of the health benefits of sex, so do it daily to experience complete pleasure. These are 16 reasons to have sex today!

1. De-stress
Sex helps you reduce stress. When deep breathing exercises fail to de-stress you, sex will do the needful.

During sex your body produces dopamine, a substance that fights stress hormones, endorphins, aka "happiness hormones" and oxytocin, a desire-enhancing hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.
In a study, published in the Public Library of Science journal, three neuroscience researchers conducted a test on male rats and found that the sexually active rats were less anxious than rats with no sexual activity.

2. Great Form of Exercise
Making love is a form of physical activity. During intercourse, the physiological changes in your body are consistent with a workout. You must have noticed that the respiratory rate rises, which means you get tired. Hence, you burn calories. If you have sex three times a week for 15 minutes (but we know you can do better than that) you'll burn about 7.500 calories in a year. That's the equivalent of jogging 75 miles! Heavy breathing raises the amount of oxygen in your cells, and the testosterone produced during sex keeps your bones and muscles strong.

3. Lowers high blood pressure
Hugs and sex can improve your blood pressure. Sex reduces diastolic blood pressure, that is, the bottom number while reading blood pressure.

Researchers with the University of Paisley conducted an experiment on the same. They concluded that sex improves blood pressure.

4. Builds your immunity
Trying to fight the sniffles? Sex is the answer to fight cold and other health problems; sex can boost your immunity.

Immunoglobulin A, an antigen that fights the flu increases when the frequency of sex increases.

5. Makes You Look Younger
Making love three times a week can make you look 10 years younger, claims a Scottish researcher. "It's good for you to have good sex," says David Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, whose study on the effects of sex on aging appears in his book, Secrets of the Superyoung.

6. Healthy heart
Sex helps you burn calories but it can also improve your heart. Sex will take care of stroke and heart attacks, you just have to enjoy the moment.

Scientists with New England Research Institute examined the effect of sex on the heart. The study concluded that men are 45 percent less likely to experience cardiovascular diseases. But the study fails to study the effect of sex on a woman's heart.

7. Pain relief
Pleasure is the measure to beat out the pain. Do you experience migraines and body pain? Well sex is the answer. But if you experience back pain, it is best to consult a doctor.

Dr. George E. Erlich, an arthritis specialist from Philadelphia conducted a study on the link between arthritis and sex. He narrows down that patients who engaged in sex experienced less pain.

8. Builds trust and intimacy
The act of sex spikes the hormone oxytocin; this hormone is responsible for your happiness and love. If your feel your relationship is falling out, there is trust or you're worried that your partner will stray away, then sex will dispel these doubts. The hormone oxytocin builds trust and brings couples closer, and cupid too.

9. Less chances of cancer
Regular ejaculation reduces your chances of developing prostate cancer. In an Australian study men who ejaculated 21 times a month were least likely to develop cancer. It is further supported by other researches that sexual intercourse reduces the risk of prostrate cancer.

10. Stronger pelvic muscles
Sex involves the use of several muscles; hence regular sexual intercourse can help you develop stronger pelvic muscles. Further, since the act of sex involves a range of muscles, it also helps strengthen these muscles - for ex: quads, your core, and the upper back. Through regular sex, you can also maintain a strong bladder and bowel function.

Strong muscles, calorie burner, improves heart health - sex seems to take care of you.

11. Prostate Protection
Most of the fluid you ejaculate is secreted by the prostate gland. If you stop ejaculating, the fluid stays in the gland, which tends to swell, causing lots of problems. Regular ejaculation will wash those fluids out and ensure the well being of your prostate until old age. Problems may also occur when you suddenly change the frequency of ejaculations.

12. Induces sleep
After that great, lovely workout you are bound to get good sleep. But guess what? Sex works the same way as exercise. The increased heart rate leads to increased post-coital relaxation. Sex could be the next thing for insomniacs! So what really happens:
- Sex can relax you, hence if you are already tired, the act of sex will induce sleep.
- When men ejaculate they become lethargic, this can make them sleepy.

13. Regular periods
Apparently sex can improve your menstrual cycle. Sex regulates hormones, which in turn regulate the menstrual cycle. Sex reduces stress, which is one of the reasons women miss their periods. Sex seems like a better option than pills.

14. Prevents Erectile Dysfunctions
Fifty per cent of men older than 40 suffer from erectile dysfunctions and all young men fear the moment when they won't be able to get it up any more. The best medicine against impotence An erection keeps the blood flowing through your penile arteries, so the tissue stays healthy. Plus, doctors compare an erection to an athletic reflex: the more you train the more capable you are to perform.

15. Live longer
A healthy heart, stronger muscles, increased circulation of oxygen and happiness are some of the factors that add life to the years and as a result - years to your life.

A study published in the British Medical Journal reveals that men who engaged in sex often live twice as those who rarely had any action.

16. Healthier semen
If you're trying to conceive, you increase the volume of semen if you have sex regularly. Regular sex replaces old sperms from the testicles. If there is a natural build of sperms it can lead to DNA damage.


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Quando si tratta di prendere decisioni con rapidità, il cervello passa a una modalità di funzionamento diversa rispetto a quella all'opera nel caso di decisioni ponderate e accurate. Lo hanno dimostrato Richard Heitz e Jeffrey Schall della Vanderbilt University con una ricerca pubblicata su "Neuron", che smentisce il modello di riferimento attuale dell'attività del cervello in questo tipo di processo decisionale.

Il compromesso tra velocità e accuratezza è un problema essenziale per la capacità di prendere decisioni ed è stato studiato sia nel campo del comportamento sia in termini di funzionamento cerebrale, fino all'elaborazione di un semplice modello, secondo il quale il cervello usa essenzialmente la stessa modalità per decidere in modo ponderato oppure in modo rapido. Secondo questo modello, per ridurre il tempo dedicato a un processo decisionale semplicemente il cervello riduce l'attività neuronale richiesta prima di prendere una decisione. Questo implica che nel caso di scelte istantanee il cervello si basi su una quantità di informazione minore rispetto a quella che entra in gioco nelle scelte più ponderate e accurate. Come conseguenza, quindi, aumenta la probabilità di commettere un errore.


Tuttavia, prima dello studio di Heitz e Schall, l'analisi del processo decisionale non è era mai arrivati a livello di singoli neuroni. Infatti, sebbene siano disponibili test con cui indurre in soggetti il passaggio da una modalità di funzionamento all'altra, i metodi di misurazione dell'attività cerebrale umana non hanno la velocità o la risoluzione necessaria. Nel caso delle scimmie, invece, sono disponibili adeguate tecniche di misurazione, ma non era noto un metodo con cui far cambiare agli animali la velocità di una decisione.

La svolta è arrivata con lo sviluppo, da parte di Heitz e Schall, di un metodo con cui addestrare le scimmie a passare da una decisione lenta e accurata a una rapida, scegliendo uno degli oggetti di un gruppo visualizzati al computer. In una condizione sperimentale, le scimmie hanno imparato che solo una decisione ponderata sarebbe stata ricompensata. In un'altra, hanno imparato che la decisione andava presa in fretta, anche commettendo qualche errore. In entrambi i casi, i ricercatori hanno monitorato l'attività di singoli neuroni nella corteccia prefrontale, l'area cerebrale deputata ai processi cognitivi di ordine superiore.

Dai dati è emerso che in tutte e due le condizioni sperimentali inizialmente l'attività della corteccia prefrontale aumentava mentre la scimmia decideva come rispondere, ovvero subito dopo la visualizzazione degli oggetti su uno schermo. Le differenze emergevano successivamente: quando l'animale era sottoposto a uno “stress di rapidità", l'attività neurale era amplificata; quando invece le condizioni erano di “stress di accuratezza”, la stessa attività era soppressa. Tutto questo ha permesso di concludere che “una stessa informazione è stata analizzata dal cervello in modi differenti nelle due situazioni di stress”, ha sottolineato Schall.

Si tratta di un risultato inatteso, che smentisce l'attuale modello dei processi decisionali, usato anche nella descrizione di disturbi psichiatrici e neurologici. Si apre quindi un conflitto tra differenti modelli di funzionamento cerebrale che potrà essere risolto solo con successive ricerche.


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This is the vision of futurist Ray Kurzweil and nutritionist Terry Grossman, M.D., in their popular book, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever. In the coming decades, the authors claim, “We will be able to reengineer the way we provide nutrients to our trillions of cells.”

Current method of extracting nutrients from food is not working very well. Nearly two thirds of Americans are overweight and it has become extremely difficult for most people to achieve proper nutrition as we trek through our 21st century maze of confusing health options.

However, by mid-2030s, nutritional needs tailored exclusively to meet each person’s requirements will be more clearly understood. The exact required nutrients could then be provided inexpensively by a nano-replicator and delivered directly into each cell by nanobots; thus eliminating the need to eat food.

Americans love to improve their bodies. We take drugs and vitamins to enhance performance; replace joints, teeth, skin, arteries, and veins as needed. We dream of new hearts, livers, pancreas, and brains, expected from new biotech advances. Now we can add a revolutionary new digestive system to the mix.

To implement this futuristic technology, we would wear a special “nutrient belt” loaded with billions of nutrient-bearing nanobots, which would enter and leave the body through our skin.

However, this concept may not be accepted easily. Many will want to hang on to their food-eating pleasures, so scientists propose an innovative solution; create a special digestive tract to receive real food, but bar those nutrients from entering the blood stream. Nanobots would convert this food into molecules and route it back to the “nutrient belt,” which would be replaced periodically with a fresh one.

Will humanity ever shed its dependency on food? Though this concept sounds extreme, it boasts many advantages. It would slash food budgets by producing inexpensive nutrients with nano-replicators; end concerns over starving populations; improve the ecosphere by reducing agricultural activities; and most important, every human being would live in a forever-healthy non-obese body. Comments welcome.

Source: - Author: Dick Pelletier; he is a weekly columnist who writes about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He's also appeared on various TV shows, and he blogs at Positive Futurist.

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"Siamo quello che mangiamo e che beviamo, e tutto ciò resta registrato nei nostri capelli" dice Thure Cerling, geochimico dell'Università dello Utah, che ha condotto una ricerca in proposito insieme a Jim Ehleringer, riferendone i risultati sull'ultimo numero dei  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"Abbiamo trovato significative variazioni negli isotopi di idrogeno e ossigeno nei capelli e nell'acqua, tali da permettere di identificare una relazione con i posti dove uno ha vissuto negli Stati Uniti", spiega Ehleringer. "La polizia sta già usando queste metodologie per ricostruire le possibili origini delle vittime di omicidi non identificate."

Ehleringer in precedenza aveva già sviluppato un metodo per identificare i siti di produzione di partite di eroina e cocaina sulla base degli isotopi di carbonio, azoto, ossigeno e idrogeno assorbiti dalle piante dal terreno. La nuova tecnica analizza gli isotopi stabili dell'idrogeno (l'idrogeno-2, più raro, e l'idrogeno-1) e di ossigeno (il più raro ossigeno-18 e il più comune ossigeno-16) ricavati da ciò che si mangia, si beve e dall'aria che si respira.

Il rapporto fra ossigeno-18 e ossigeno-16 nell'aria è sostanzialmente identico in tutte le località degli Stati Uniti, e lo stesso vale in realtà sia per gli isotopi dell'ossigeno e dell'idrogeno assorbiti per via alimentare, e questo perché, osservano i ricercatori, la dieta degli americani appare standardizzata in misura notevolissima.Per contro, lo studio ha rivelato una notevole correlazione fra i diversi livelli dei quattro isotopi nei capelli e nell'acqua delle località in cui ha prevalentemente vissuto la persona. All'acqua sarebbe imputabile addirittura l'85 per cento delle variazioni nei livelli di quegli isotopi.

Un singolo capello può dunque rivelare dove ha soggiornato una persona in un periodo variabile fra alcune settimane e alcuni anni, a seconda della lunghezza del capello. Per arrivare a questa conclusione gli scienziati hanno approntato due mappe degli Stati Uniti collezionando un numero enorme di campioni di acqua e (con la collaborazione di associazioni di barbieri) di capelli provenienti delle diverse regioni del paese. Con queste mappa non è possibile definire la località esatta di soggiorno di una persona, ammettono i ricercatori, ma le differenze tra stati sono ben identificabili.


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About this video:

Originally this video was live feedback for rear screen projection behind Terence McKenna in the Seattle nightclub where McKenna gave this, his final talk. At the time no one knew that McKenna was soon to become seriously ill, and that this would be his last public appearence. He passed away a year later on April 3, 2000, at the age of 53, with his loved ones at his bedside.

There was no intention at the time to make this recording available to the public. This edit is made from several cameras and the live video mixing board for the rear screen. This is a new, cleaned-up copy that is clear video footage of Terence McKenna without the additional computer graphics from the 1999 DVD, Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines. This is availabe on DVD by contacting Dr. Jon via

Date: Recorded Live in Seattle, April 22nd 1999
Produced by: HPX Media, 2004
Cameras: Jason Dix, Rod Hatfield
Digital Salvage: Kurt Elzner
Starring: Terence McKenna
External link:

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In entrambi i casi, ci vuole anche una discreta carenza del comune senso del pudore.

"Uno può anche non sapere tutto. Però almeno di quello di cui si occupa dovrebbe essere informato. Aldo Cazzullo si occupa di politica, visto che fa editoriali sulla prima pagina del Corriere della Sera. Oggi scrive un pezzo, dal titolo "La scomparsa degli ecologisti", in cui lamenta il fatto che l'Italia è l'unico posto dove gli ambientalisti sono completamente scomparsi e dove, in tutti i programmi politici, "la tutela del territorio, l’inquinamento delle città, persino le energie alternative passano in secondo piano.". Cazzullo a casa a studiare! Magari con una bella connessione a internet, così da potersi leggere il Programma di un MoVimento politico cui i sondaggi attribuiscono un consenso a due cifre. Qui rasentiamo i limiti del paradosso.

Il MoVimento 5 Stelle, è il punto di riferimento per le politiche ambientali in Italia. Ha sempre dato battaglia all'inquinamento. Ha sempre cercato di ostacolare la costruzione di inceneritori. Ha sempre perseguito politiche di decrescita, di riutilizzo e differenziazione dei rifiuti. Ha sempre criticato il modello produttivo che vende a Milano l'acqua che sgorga in Sicilia e viceversa, in favore di un circuito locale, il cosiddetto Km 0, che permetta di risparmiare soldi e di risparmiare l'ambiente; ha sempre combattuto per uno stile di vita più sano, facendo pressione nelle amministrazioni locali per la dismissione dell'utilizzo delle automobili e per la costruzione di piste ciclabili; ha sempre incentivato l'utilizzo di fonti di energia rinnovabile; ha sempre contribuito a far crescere politiche energetiche davvero rivoluzionarie, come la costruzione di edifici intelligenti, in grado di ridurre i consumi e massimizzare l'efficienza energetica. E tanto, tanto altro che chiunque può verificare. Non è possibile scrivere una colossale falsificazione dello scenario politico italiano come quella scritta da Cazzullo sul principale quotidiano nazionale, senza essere alternativamente o in malafede o totalmente disinformati dell'argomento di cui si parla."

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The world’s largest producer of genetically engineered seeds has been selling genetically modified (GM) in India for the last decade to benefit the Indian farmers – or so the company claims.

In a country of more than 550 million farmers who are largely poor and uneducated and the agriculture market rife with inefficient business practices, the Indian government sought to reform the market by eliminating subsidies and loans to the farmers.

The government reform did not help the farmers. With pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Indian government has “forced market liberalization on India which means the elimination of government subsidies and government-backed loans to farmers.”

Enter Monsanto with its “magic” GM seeds to transform the lives of the poor Indian farmers.

The U.S. agri-business giant took full advantage of its entry into the Indian market. It entered into an agreement with state governments including Rajasthan and Andhara Pradesh to introduce a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that dictated the terms of disseminating the GM technology in Indian market.

For Monsanto, it is one thing to convince farmers to use artificial seeds for the purposes of enriching their lives, it is quite another to manipulate nature and technology to profit from them.

Killer Seeds

The irony is GM seeds have not been effective in India and the consequences are not as rosy as what Monsanto had promised to deliver. Scathing reports of mass suicides of  Indian farmers broke out as recently as three years ago when scores of farmers took their own lives in order to escape the burden of high prices and failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds.

Monsanto offered its GM seeds to the farmers of India with hopes of reaping plentiful crops. Plain and mostly uneducated farmers thought Monsanto had come to provide a “magic” formula that would transform their lives. They had no idea what was coming.

Monsanto’s seeds in India did not produce what the company had promised and farmers hoped. The expensive seeds piled up debts and destroyed farming fields. In many instances, the crops simply failed to materialize. The farmers were not aware that the GM seeds required more water than the traditional seeds. And lack of rain in many parts of India exacerbated the crop failure.

With no harvest, the farmers could not pay back the lenders. Burdened with debts and humiliation, the farmers simply took their own lives, some by swallowing poisonous pesticides in front of their families. To date, an estimated 200,000 farmers have committed suicide all over India.

To add to the misery, wives inherited the debts along with the fear of losing their homes and lands. With no money coming in, they also had to pull their kids from the schools. The mass suicide among the Indian farmers is known as the “GM genocide.”

In its company website Monsanto declares that its pledge is “our commitment to how we do business.” And then there are the business philosophies with virtuous words like “integrity” and “transparency.”

Monsanto’s business practices in India quite remarkably live up to the company’s motto. It purposefully leverages its power and influence in government to penetrate farming markets with motive but without morale.

Market Power

Using its colossal market power, Monsanto craftily penetrated into the Indian markets.

Monsanto convinced the Indian government that its GM seeds would produce better crops. According to a report by Farm Wars, one former Managing Director of Monsanto claimed that Monsanto manipulated research data “to get commercial approvals for its products in India.”

Indian regulatory agencies, instead of verifying the data, simply remained compliant with the findings of what Monsanto presented. “They did not even have a test tube to validate the data and, at times, the data itself was faked,” the Farm Wars report says.

Government regulations worked in favor of Monsanto to monopolize the Indian seed market. For example, “Prime Minsiter’s Office” in India pressured various state governments to sign MOUs with Monsanto to privatize the seed market.

Through these “vested interests” with the Indian government, Monsanto eventually has monopolized the GM seed market for more than a decade.

Unable to purchase traditional seeds, the farmers had to pay a hefty price for the expensive GM seeds. Many farmers had to borrow money from the local lenders to buy Monsanto’s seeds. To cite an example of how expensive the GM seeds are, 100 grams of GM cost $15 to the farmers compared with $15 for 1000 grams of traditional seeds.

Vandana Shiva, a renowned scientist and activist in India, wrote that Monsanto had also planned to control water in India. Its aim was to control water supply through privatization. In other words, Monsanto sought to profit from water, a lifeline of Indian livelihood. By seeking control of water, Monsanto also seized the opportunity to benefit from the scarce water supply that plagues communities throughout India.

Manipulation and Misinformation

The failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds was palpable. The farmers held onto their hopes for better crops after they had planted the “magic” seeds. Their crops never came. Throughout the villages in India the harvest from the GM seeds failed. The parasites destroyed the so-called “pest-proof” GM seeds.

Monsanto uses methods of manipulation and misinformation to reap their own benefits and profits at the cost of the farmers who rely on organic methods to grow their crops and animals, a tradition that existed in India for centuries.

By a contractual clause, the farmers could not save Monsanto’s GM seeds for reuse after the first season.

Whether or not the farmers understood this legal binding would merit an examination to underscore the extent of Monsanto’s market power and conniving business practices. Misleading and forcing farmers to buy the GM seeds through government policy and market monopoly must be purged as part of reforming the Indian agricultural market.

Action Against GM seeds

Prince Charles does not like what Monsanto is doing or causing to the lives of  farmers in India. He has expressed his contempt for the “bio-tech leaders” and “politicians” who have caused suicides among Indian farmers. His charity organization promotes “long-term benefits of sustainable agriculture” that would provide “decent returns” to the farmers.

Facing pressure from the anti-GM seed activists, NGOs, and local communities, the Indian government gave in. In 2010, Indian Environment Minister issued a temporary “moratorium” on Monsanto to introduce genetically engineered egg plant seeds in India. Only time will tell how long this policy effects will last.

In a country where money, politics, and business often go hand in hand, the farmers are at the mercy of their own fate.

Source: - Author: Iqbal Ahmed; he is a public policy graduate student at George Mason University, Arlington, VA. He completed a study abroad program at Oxford University, UK in summer 2011 on European Union (EU) policies. He has written for Foreign Policy Journal, Journal of Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy in Focus, Global Politician, Eurasia Review, and NPR’s “This I believe.”

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Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital, on the corner of St James's Square and Pall Mall.

But these office blocks in one of London's most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.

Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church's international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.

Since then the international value of Mussolini's nest-egg has mounted until it now exceeds £500m. In 2006, at the height of the recent property bubble, the Vatican spent £15m of those funds to buy 30 St James's Square. Other UK properties are at 168 New Bond Street and in the city of Coventry. It also owns blocks of flats in Paris and Switzerland.

The surprising aspect for some will be the lengths to which the Vatican has gone to preserve secrecy about the Mussolini millions. The St James's Square office block was bought by a company called British Grolux Investments Ltd, which also holds the other UK properties. Published registers at Companies House do not disclose the company's true ownership, nor make any mention of the Vatican.

Instead, they list two nominee shareholders, both prominent Catholic bankers: John Varley, recently chief executive of Barclays Bank, and Robin Herbert, formerly of the Leopold Joseph merchant bank. Letters were sent from the Guardian to each of them asking whom they act for. They went unanswered. British company law allows the true beneficial ownership of companies to be concealed behind nominees in this way.

The company secretary, John Jenkins, a Reading accountant, was equally uninformative. He told us the firm was owned by a trust but refused to identify it on grounds of confidentiality. He told us after taking instructions: "I confirm that I am not authorised by my client to provide any information."

Research in old archives, however, reveals more of the truth. Companies House files disclose that British Grolux Investments inherited its entire property portfolio after a reorganisation in 1999 from two predecessor companies called British Grolux Ltd and Cheylesmore Estates. The shares of those firms were in turn held by a company based at the address of the JP Morgan bank in New York. Ultimate control is recorded as being exercised by a Swiss company, Profima SA.

British wartime records from the National Archives in Kew complete the picture. They confirm Profima SA as the Vatican's own holding company, accused at the time of "engaging in activities contrary to Allied interests". Files from officials at Britain's Ministry of Economic Warfare at the end of the war criticised the pope's financier, Bernardino Nogara, who controlled the investment of more than £50m cash from the Mussolini windfall.

Nogara's "shady activities" were detailed in intercepted 1945 cable traffic from the Vatican to a contact in Geneva, according to the British, who discussed whether to blacklist Profima as a result. "Nogara, a Roman lawyer, is the Vatican financial agent and Profima SA in Lausanne is the Swiss holding company for certain Vatican interests." They believed Nogara was trying to transfer shares of two Vatican-owned French property firms to the Swiss company, to prevent the French government blacklisting them as enemy assets.

Earlier in the war, in 1943, the British accused Nogara of similar "dirty work", by shifting Italian bank shares into Profima's hands in order to "whitewash" them and present the bank as being controlled by Swiss neutrals. This was described as "manipulation" of Vatican finances to serve "extraneous political ends".

The Mussolini money was dramatically important to the Vatican's finances. John Pollard, a Cambridge historian, says in Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: "The papacy was now financially secure. It would never be poor again."

From the outset, Nogara was innovative in investing the cash. In 1931 records show he founded an offshore company in Luxembourg to hold the continental European property assets he was buying. It was called Groupement Financier Luxembourgeois, hence Grolux. Luxembourg was one of the first countries to set up tax-haven company structures in 1929. The UK end, called British Grolux, was incorporated the following year.

When war broke out, with the prospect of a German invasion, the Luxembourg operation and ostensible control of the British Grolux operation were moved to the US and to neutral Switzerland.

The Mussolini investments in Britain are currently controlled, along with its other European holdings and a currency trading arm, by a papal official in Rome, Paolo Mennini, who is in effect the pope's merchant banker. Mennini heads a special unit inside the Vatican called the extraordinary division of APSA – Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica – which handles the so-called "patrimony of the Holy See".

According to a report last year from the Council of Europe, which surveyed the Vatican's financial controls, the assets of Mennini's special unit now exceed €680m (£570m).

While secrecy about the Fascist origins of the papacy's wealth might have been understandable in wartime, what is less clear is why the Vatican subsequently continued to maintain secrecy about its holdings in Britain, even after its financial structure was reorganised in 1999.

The Guardian asked the Vatican's representative in London, the papal nuncio, archbishop Antonio Mennini, why the papacy continued with such secrecy over the identity of its property investments in London. We also asked what the pope spent the income on. True to its tradition of silence on the subject, the Roman Catholic church's spokesman said that the nuncio had no comment.

Authors: David Leigh, Jean François Tanda and Jessica Benhamou - Source:

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