The Critical Role of Soil Demineralization in Disease

Billions of years ago, when the universe was born in unknown millions of galaxies, our planet eventually also appeared. The same star dust that became Earth, 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 1950s 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.” Murray often cures through homeopathic therapies those who get sick from pesticides and herbicides.

In the late 90s 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, 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 found in 50 bushels then, by 1968 required 250 bushels. Worst of all, those 50 bushels in 1920 were chock-full of essential minerals, but by 1968 it required 500 bushels for the same amount of minerals. Today it’s even worse. U.S. Department of Agriculture food tables of March 2001 show that the calcium content in broccoli dropped 50% since 1975, iron in watercress is down 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, everyday low levels merely set us up for one. (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 10 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 10 years instead. A major cause of cancer 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 three to five recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily, you are not getting enough of the most essential nutrients, especially minerals. The U.S. 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-pound person through a downtown mall as he or she waddles along, huffing, puffing, sweating, depressed as hell. Maybe she is full of doughnuts, deep-fried foods, antibiotic-loaded chicken fingers, and a bag of trans-fatty acid laced chips — or maybe he 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 (Ed: Aspartame is a known neurotoxin). 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 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 shut down. 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 prescription drugs 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.

What might cause this oxymoronic state of obese starvation? Our perfect-looking produce and attractively-packaged supermarket foods likely lack all or most of the following:

boron (prevents osteoporosis by maintaining 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 food metabolism, 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 by 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 immune functions)

silicon (required by bones and cardiovascular system)

sulfur (controls structure and function of all proteins)

vanadium (helps to prevent diabetes)

zinc (vital to proper immune, joint, and brain function, integrity of skin, hair, nails, and menstruation). For complete information on all minerals and vitamins with their current scientific literature sources go to and download for free.

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. 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 it 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 and drugs — 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, worldwide 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 Victoria’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, doctors are faced with patients who “just say no.” The Medical Post of July 6 reported in a front-page article that psychiatrists are in a panic because they have been trained as drug pushers and know next to nothing 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 doctors back to the libraries and the Internet. Similarly, since last year, when the scandal broke about HRT, consumption of those carcinogens is down by more than 60%. Since 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 bylaws forbidding cosmetic pesticides. Soil rehabilitation projects are going on everywhere, with Prince Charles being the most prominent leader, and the organic food movement is curing the Earth and protecting us from degenerative disease at the same time.

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 (figure out the acronym yourself) and save ourselves. If we use our brains, the Earth will never forsake us.


• ANAMOL Laboratories, (905) 660-1225 or 1-888-254-4840 (for complete hair mineral analysis — $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 call Bio-Ag (519) 656-2460)
• M.R. Werbach, Textbook of Nutritional Medicine, Third Line Press, 1999

Helke Ferrie is a medical science writer with a master's degree in physical anthropology. Her specialty lies in investigative research into ethical issues in medicine and the politics of health. She started her investigative journalism career in the mid-1990s, looking at issues of medicine and environment. She has been a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine ever since. Helke has also authored several books on various subjects including: "Ending Denial: The Lyme Disease Epidemic", "What Part of No! Don't They Understand: Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse", and "The Earth's Gift to Medicine". Read her article: When governments abandon the public interest — look out for your own health Find her book -What Part of No! Don't They Understand Helke has also been a regular contributor for the Vitality Magazine. Links to few of her articles: The Tyranny of Government Protection Success Story - How I Recovered from Lyme Disease IN THE NEWS: Fluoride Dangers; Roundup Lawsuits; Lyme Disease Epidemic Helke Ferrie now lives a retired life and can be reached at

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