Native American Church members fight harassment by authorities


“Peyote Drummer,” photogravure, Edward Sheriff Curtis, 1927.

Editor's note: The Oklevueha Native American Church, or ONAC, is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legal freedom to observe Native American spiritual traditions. Some of these involve sacramental or medicinal use of various plants: Peyote, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Cannabis, Mushrooms and others. I am an ONAC member. While law varies state by state, those who grow or use these plants--Native Americans, or otherwise--risk arrest, property confiscation, legal harassment, and police abuse. One of ONAC's members in California was recently arrested, and his property confiscated, shortly after local law enforcement were notified they have no right to do these things. ONAC is holding a press conference today to announce their response. —Xeni Jardin

There will be a press conference today, 2 PM at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel in Santa Rosa California, at 170 Railroad Street.

Noted Constitutional and Civil Rights Lawyer Matt Pappas will be announcing lawsuits and other legal actions against a number of Law Enforcement and County officials and entities.

These legal actions have become necessary because of repeated abuses of power and evidence of collusion by these groups to deprive members of the Native American Church of their Native Ceremonies and Sacraments by raiding their sacred grounds, confiscating their objects of worship and destroying the sacraments and medicines.

All of these items are protected under the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. These protections have repeatedly been upheld by numerous court cases around the country including the US Supreme Court, US District Courts and State Supreme Courts. Read the rest

3D printed chess set where each piece holds a tiny plant


After this Bauhaus-inspired pattern from XYZ Workshop is downloaded and printed, each chess piece is designed as a mini-planter. Read the rest

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Deformed mutant daisies photographed near Fukushima nuclear disaster site in Japan

Photo: @san_kaido
Just when you'd forgotten about all that leaked radiation.

Watch these plants explode


Violets, touch me nots, and squirting cucumbers employ an impressive ballistic seed dispersal mechanism. (Smithsonian)

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DIY: 20 easy ways to hack and improve your garden


Use a punctured water bottle to hydrate plants more efficiently. Turn a kids toy truck into a succulent planter. Spray paint chicken wire and then mold it into striking backyard decorations. With summer just weeks away, here are 20 visual ideas that will get you outdoors this weekend while creating a more efficient and beautiful garden. Read the rest

How caffeine evolved

At the New York Times, Carl Zimmer examines new research on the genomics of the Coffea canephora plant and the evolution of caffeine: Read the rest

Timelapse: Reviving Rose of Jericho plants

Beautiful video of Selaginella lepidophylla resurrected with water. (via Colossal) Read the rest

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Activists destroy GMO test plot

Golden Rice is a strain of rice genetically engineered to produce extra beta-carotene, part of a humanitarian effort to get more Vitamin A into the diets of people who subsist primarily on rice. The genes that produce the beta-carotene come from corn and a soil bacterium. On the legal end, the rice was developed using free technology licenses that allow the International Rice Research Institute to hand the rice out for free to subsistence farmers, and allow those farmers to save seeds and replant in subsequent years. Last week, anti-GMO activists destroyed a test plot of Golden Rice in the Philippines. Read the rest

After two months of investigation, GMO wheat mystery even more mysterious than before

Two months ago, news outlets reported that an Oregon farmer had found Roundup herbicide-resistant wheat growing in his field. He hadn't planted it. In fact, nobody sells it — Monsanto tested such wheat eight years ago, but never sought federal approval for it. So what happened? After two months of investigation, here's what we do know: It doesn't seem like GMO wheat is invading the US. Testing has yet to turn up evidence of this wheat anywhere else in the country. What we don't know: Why a research plant that never went to market would pop up in a single, unrelated field almost a decade later. Experts' best guess is some kind of mix-up, where a small amount of research seed got mislabeled and later sold. Meanwhile, Monsanto is suggesting deliberate sabotage. Read the rest

Stuff you absolutely need to know about the GMO debate

I lovelovelovelovelove this Grist series on the nuances, contradictions, and confusions surrounding the public debate over genetically modified foods. Nathaniel Johnson has done some really fantastic reporting, challenging distortions from both sides and getting you (the person might actually be buying and eating this stuff) closer to the truth than just about any other journalist I've seen. Two parts of the series you absolutely must read: A complex look at whether or not there are safety regulations for GMO foods, and an exploration of plant breeding and the differences between "natural" genetic modification and the kind that happens in a laboratory. Read the rest

The case for flowers on the farm

South African mango farms that added patches of native, flowering plants not only attracted more pollinators than traditional, monoculture mango farms — they also produced more mangoes.

Image: Flowers Under Attack, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from suckamc's photostream

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The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek

What made Star Trek's original tricorder a great piece of fictional technology, writes Maggie Koerth-Baker, wasn't its sci-fi looks. It was what it did.

A spaceship that tastes like Grape-Nuts

This morning, Marketplace Tech Report had a story on a new cellulose-based building material that could be made by genetically engineered bacteria — altered versions of the bacteria that naturally make stuff like kombucha. This tech sounds like it's got a long way to go from laboratory to the real world, but if they can perfect the process and make it large enough quantities, what you'd end up with a strong, inexpensive goop that could be used to build everything from medical dressings, to digital paper, to spaceships. Yes, you could theoretically use this stuff to make rocket casings, according to R. Malcolm Brown, Jr., a professor of cell biology at UT Austin. And if you can build a rocket from this stuff, you could also break the same material back down into an edible, high-fiber foodstuff. Read the rest

World's Strangest Flowers

Sierra magazine selected "7 of the World's Strangest Flowers." Here is a video of the Touch-Me-Not.

Secrets of the world's most successful tumbleweed farm

Tumbleweeds aren't a type of plant. It's more of a description — the thing that happens when the bushy above-ground parts of lots of different types of plants dry, die, and disconnect from the healthy root system below. It is then free to blow wherever the wind takes it. That's your basic free-range tumbleweed. At Prairie Tumbleweed Farms, the weeds are a bit more constrained and they're shipped, rather than blown, to customers all around the world. This podcast by Rose Eveleth is a cute, quirky piece, but you MUST listen to the whole thing. Because the backstory of Prairie Tumbleweed Farms is what makes this truly worthy of BoingBoing. Read the rest

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