AuthorCitizens For Health

Home/Articles Posted by Citizens For Health

Bonvie Blog: FDA Bans Carcinogenic Additives

FDA bans seven cancer-causing food additives. How many more are out there?

After a 30-year hiatus the Delaney Clause makes a return appearance

By LINDA BONVIE

Late last week the FDA announced the ban of seven food additives known to cause cancer.

These consist of a group of tongue-twisting chemicals such as synthetically derived benzophenone, eugenyl methyl ether and one called pulegone. They’re added to beverages, bakery products, cereals, candy, gum and ice cream for a taste of cinnamon and peppermint, a twist of citrus or even the flavor of roasted onions.

These fake flavorings have been used since the 1960s – and they can still be quite legally added for the next two years. Don’t bother checking labels for them, however, as they all fall under the category of “artificial flavors.”

The FDA’s decision to ban them was due to a petition submitted to the agency – as well as a subsequent lawsuit — from 10 public interest organizations, including the Consumers Union, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

But in a food supply filled to the brim with a mad scientist’s array of extremely dangerous additives (MSG, HFCS and aspartame, to name just three), why was this bunch given the boot? It’s especially intriguing since the FDA said in announcing its decision that the seven “do not pose a risk to public health.”

In an oddly logical turn of regulatory reasoning — despite the agency’s steadfast opinion that these additives are as “low risk” as can be — it said they were being revoked “as a matter of law.”

That law is the Delaney Clause. Added to the Federal Food Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1958, it states that “no additive shall be deemed to be safe if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal…”

If you’re not familiar with Delaney it could be because it hasn’t made an appearance since cell phones were as big as a brick, around the late 1980s. And by applying the literal meaning of the law, instead of brushing it aside with what’s known as the “de minimis exception” (which is described as a “trivial” hazard, a lifetime cancer risk less than one-in-a-million), it appears that seven unnecessary and risky food additives will bite the dust at some point in the future.

Of course, the Delaney Clause has been nitpicked for decades as being overly cautious and outdated. And then there’s the argument that we know so much more about what causes cancer these days than we did back in the 1950s.

But that’s not entirely true.

While our medical knowledge bank may have increased since then, still, no one can say with certainty that there’s a magic level at which a carcinogen is somehow safe to consume – especially where kids are concerned.

And anyone who claims they know otherwise is simply making a wild guess.

Remember, these seven chemicals have been hiding in the food supply for decades under the guise of “flavorings.” And there are untold numbers more.

As the Environmental Working Group’s nutritionist Dawn Undurraga says, while this is a “positive step forward,” until the FDA mandates that manufacturers give consumers complete “ingredient disclosure,” we can’t make our own “fully informed decisions” about the foods we buy.

According to the EWG, one of every seven conventional (not organic) food ingredient labels lists “artificial” flavorings, with “natural” flavors being even more popular. And both names will tell you absolutely nothing about what those ingredients may consist of.

It’s a loophole that food manufacturers love. But as for consumers, the only safeguard we have right now is to reject every single product made with these secret ingredients.


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

Continue Reading

Homeopathy: Preserve Your Health Freedom

It is critical to remain vigilant in order to rebuff efforts to curtail our health freedom. While threats to this freedom are nothing new, we alerted you in June to a very specific threat to homeopathy. The FDA is seeking the authority to ban all homeopathic remedies which are already accepted into the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. CFH is allied with another consumer-based organization, Americans for Homeopathy Choice (AHC), in an effort to respond to the FDA thoughtfully and proactively. We need you, the consumer voice of the natural health movement, to tell the FDA that we want access to homeopathic services and treatments as part of a full slate of options for maintaining health and wellness.  The FDA can be responsive to what consumers demand, so please share this information with clients, friends and fellow health freedom fighters. Read on for more from AHC.

homeopathy

This is a major announcement and we ask everyone to act ASAP. There are 4 very specific things we need you to do:

    1. Read our Citizen Petition here.
    2. Write a comment to the FDA in support of this petition.  It’s better if you do this in your own words, so we have provided you with an outline to carry this out.  If you can’t write your own, we’d still prefer that you submit something, so we did provide a form letter you can copy/paste and make minor edits.
    3. Send your Representative and Senators two separate messages. First, send them a copy of that letter you wrote the FDA. Then send them a second message using our form letter. Double-dipping like this gets more messages to Capitol Hill, and that way we can really get their attention!
    4. Then spread the word far and wide with anyone concerned about limits to health freedom. Please share on Facebook and any other social media platforms you use. Do whatever you can to help inform others about this important issue.

 

The Bonvie Blog: Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially Hydrogenated Oils Are Now Banned, Right?

Well, Yes — Only Not Quite

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

They’re supposed to be history by now. We’re talking about the particularly dangerous class of food additives known as partially hydrogenated oils, or PHOs, which are the result of solidifying a vegetable oil by infusing it with hydrogen gas.

Long used to extend the shelf-life of various processed foods, such as baked goods, PHOs were also cutting short the lives of many of those who regularly consumed them, being the primary source of artery-clogging trans fats in our diet (as chronicled in our 2017 book Badditives!).

That’s why the FDA took the most unusual step of ordering them phased out of the food supply by this past June 18, after acknowledging that they were causing an estimated 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths in this country every year. (And that’s just a fraction of the number claimed by the late Dr. Fred Kummerow, the professor of comparative biosciences wHydrogenatedho spent years petitioning the FDA to ban PHOs and lived long enough – to the age of 102 – to see his efforts rewarded.)

The removal of these ingredients from the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list was quite an achievement in itself – one the FDA noted was a response to both “citizen petitions” and “available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels establishing the health risks associated with the consumption” of trans fats.

And it came only after considerable resistance from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which submitted a petition to the agency in 2015, and an amended version last year, requesting that the food additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of PHOs in certain food applications.

The FDA subsequently denied that petition because it “determined that the petitioner did not provide sufficient information for us to conclude that the requested uses of PHOs are safe.”

But that’s not to say that PHOs are now automatically gone from all the products that line supermarket shelves. Because while turning down that last-ditch attempt to keep PHOs from being consigned to the adulterated ingredient graveyard, the agency did see fit to “allow the food industry sufficient time to identify suitable replacement substances.”

So how much time are we talking about? Well, it seems that some of the uses of these altered oils will be permitted until next June 18. Those are the “petitioned uses” for which the FDA acknowledges “that the food industry needs additional time to identify suitable replacement substances” and for which it “has indicated that 12 months could be a reasonable timeframe for reformulation.”

Others, however, the “non-petitioned” ones, will have even longer – until the first of January, 2020. That’s because “FDA understands additional time is needed for products manufactured (domestically and internationally) before June 18, 2018, to work their way through distribution.”

And since during that period, you might still very well end up consuming them and further endangering your heart health, it remains imperative that you check those ingredient lists before buying any processed food products.

And we would hope that’s something you’ll continue to do, even after the last vestiges of PHOs are gone – because there are a whole lot of other “badditives’ remaining in our food supply. We can also only hope that the pro-industry Trump administration doesn’t find a way to modify or reverse this lifesaving regulation while it has us distracted with other issues.

For more on the denial of the GMA’s petition, see https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/21/2018-10715/grocery-manufacturers-association-denial-of-food-additive-petition

For more on the FDA’s extension of the compliance period, see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-05-21/pdf/2018-10714.pdf (Please note, this prompts download of  PDF.)


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

A Good Night’s Sleep is Good for You

A Good Night’s Sleep and its Impact on Your Health

Many people with busy schedules sacrifice sleep to get more done in their day. Sleep and health, however, go hand in hand. When you’re getting enough sleep, your productivity and sense of well-being improve.

Sleep and Health

Ever pulled an all-nighter and felt out of it the next day? The impact that sleep can have on our health is evident even after just one night of poor sleep. The long-term health effects of good quality sleep, however, cannot be ignored. A pattern of healthy sleeping can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. It can also lessen stress and anxiety while improving focus and memory.

Changing Sleep Needs

As we age, our sleep needs adapt with our changing bodies and minds. School-age children need 9-11 hours a night, while teens need around 8-10 hours. It’s crucial for children to get the recommended amount of sleep to aid in their development. During sleep, neurotransmitters are rebuilt, which improves the brain’s ability to communicate and learn.

In comparison, the average adult requires a little less construction work at night, and only needs 7-9 hours of sleep. During sleep, the adult body rebuilds in response to the activities of the previous day. Growth hormones are released during deep sleep which repair muscular damage and strengthen the body.

Seniors need the least amount of sleep, but not much less than adults: about 7-8 hours. Most older adults struggle to fall asleep because their bodies produce less of the sleep hormone, melatonin. This restorative sleep, however, helps prevent memory loss and improve overall heart and brain health.

How to Improve Sleep

While the benefits of sleep are undeniable, many people still struggle to get the rest that their bodies crave. Introducing some simple lifestyle changes, however, can make a huge difference in sleep quality.

1. Maintain a strict sleep schedule

It’s crucial to keep your body on a rhythm. Keeping a fairly regular sleep routine, even on the weekends, can train your body into recognizing bedtime, and responding accordingly.

2. Relax before bed

Practicing some mental self-care before bed can help you de-stress and sleep better. Journaling, reading, or trying bedtime yoga can all help your brain relax and get into the mindset of sleep.

3. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help decrease stress and anxious thoughts which could keep you up late into the night. It also tires your body out physically, leaving your muscles begging for restorative sleep.

4. Create a soothing bedroom environment

A bedroom environment that’s conducive to sleep can go a long way in preparing your mind and body for successful sleep. The perfect sleeping atmosphere is dark, cool, quiet, and comfortable. Make sure to keep the temperature between 60-68 degrees and use a supportive mattress to get the best night’s sleep possible.

It’s important to take sleep seriously for your overall physical and mental health. Make sure to follow these steps if you want to lead a healthier, happier lifestyle.


Post courtesy of Casper Mattresses

The Gormley Files – Preserving Our Natural Resources Preserves Health

Good news! The bill referred to below passed the Senate on October 10 – thanks to all who sent messages to their Senators! Read more here: https://mast.house.gov/blog?ID=021535EC-B791-4B8E-857F-BEA2B12FAD18

Senate Must Pass The Water Resources Development Act

by James J. Gormley

Fixing our water issues is perhaps the most important priority for the state of Florida, the region and the country.

On September 13th, the House passed a bi-partisan version of the Water Resources Development Act, including a provision that Florida Congressman Brian Mast wrote with Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio to authorize the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir.

The Water Resources Development Act is a biennial bill that authorizes new water infrastructure projects and makes improvements to water programs not just in Florida, but throughout the entire United States.

Tell your Senator to get behind the Water Resources Development Act and send it to the the President’s desk right away.water

The problem: Discharges from Lake Okeechobee are damaging Florida’s Treasure Coast not only because they contain toxic algal blooms but also because the freshwater infusion into a brackish estuary kills plant life, harms animals and destroys the environment. To prevent these discharges, the water must instead be sent south of Lake Okeechobee – mimicking the natural flow.

The solution: In 2017, the State of Florida passed Senate Bill 10, which authorized the construction of a water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to store and treat water, thus limiting these damaging discharges.

The bill was then reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and referred to the U.S. Congress in July for authorization by the federal government, who will share in half of the costs for the project. This bill authorizes the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir so that design and construction can get underway as soon as possible.

Tell your Senator to get behind the Water Resources Development Act today!

This bipartisan bill includes all of Florida’s Treasure Coast priorities from the version passed by the House on June 6th as well as the updated provision that Representative Mast wrote with Senators Rubio and Nelson to authorize the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir. Also in the bill are important provisions that Congress Mast wrote to force the Army Corps to redo the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule that determines when discharges happen, and to develop technology for the large-scale filtration of water, including early detection, prevention and management of harmful algal blooms.

The compromise bill passed the House of Representatives on September 13, 2018 and is expected to be voted on in the Senate this month. We know people are getting sick, animals are dying and our environment is being demolished. We cannot wait any longer to get this bill signed into law.

Ask your Senator to rapidly sign on to and vote to pass this vital bill!

The Bonvie Blog: HFCS

New Study Finds that Fructose Fuels Cancer Cells

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

Canadian Sol Orwell may not be any relation to the late British author George Orwell, but some of the statements made on the website he co-founded seven years ago, Examine.com – an endeavor which he says is intended to rebut “outlandish claims” on topics like health, nutrition and supplements with “evidence-based analysis” – can only be described as, well, Orwellian.

Take the site’s claim, updated in December, that “there are no studies that indicate any long-term health risks from drinking diet soda,” which “is not harmful to health, well-being or body composition.”

Or the latest one that “there is currently no evidence to suggest that HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is any worse than sugar,” that both are “essentially the same,” and that “the difference between them is too small to matter in moderate consumption” (an assertion virtually identical to that made by the Corn Refiners Association, the lobbying group representing the makers of high fructose corn syrup).

So why bother mentioning this kind of processed-food propaganda? Because all too often you’ll find that it winds up as the basis for health and nutrition stories in mainstream media, especially since Examine.com is touted as one of the top 10 innovative companies in fitness.

But unfortunately, anyone who relies on this site (or others like it) to “come to a consensus you can trust” may be putting their health and well-being in real jeopardy, because they’re quite likely to remain blissfully ignorant of the fast-growing volume of research that has come to the opposite conclusion.

One glaring example is a Duke University study published in late April in the journal Cell Metabolism – just a day after Examine.com last updated its assurance that HFCS is essentially the same as sugar.

In essence, what the Duke researchers found that is that fructose can fuel the metastasis of colorectal cancer.

“When cancer cells get to the liver, they’re like a kid in a candy store,” was how it was explained by one of the biomedical engineers involved in the study. “They use this ample new energy supply to create building blocks for growing more cancer cells.”

According to a press release from the university’s Pratt School of Engineering, being inside the liver enables cancer cells to learn how to produce more of an enzyme that breaks down fructose. Once having done that, they proceed to “gorge on the fructose,” allowing them “to proliferate out of control and become unstoppable.”

The thing that the researchers were particularly struck by, the release noted, was that “many Western diets are rich in fructose, which is found in corn syrup and all types of processed foods.” (By “corn syrup,” they were obviously referring to HFCS, since ordinary corn syrup is 100 percent glucose and contains no fructose whatsoever.)

Notice that what did not concern the scientists doing this study was sugar consumption.

Sugar, or sucrose, is made up of equal parts glucose and fructose which are bound together (just as fructose is with the fiber in fruit).

With HFCS, however, as is even acknowledged by the Examine.com website, “both molecules float in solution (as monosaccharides or lone sugar molecules) rather than being bound to each other.”

And that, far from being a difference that’s “too small to matter” is, in reality, huge. Nor is the fact that HFCS is typically 55 percent fructose “practically insignificant,” as the site also claims, since the amount of fructose involved is actually10 percent greater than that in sugar (and can go as high as 90 percent, which the site also acknowledges).

But the findings from this study are yet another of the ways HFCS “does a body bad,” which we detailed in our book Badditives! Beside those we discussed:

  • How it’s clearly linked to obesity and diabetes (both of which have skyrocketed in the decades since this artificial sweetener became a substitute for sugar and began appearing in all manner of processed foods and beverages)
  • Its link to pancreatic cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (“overwhelming your liver’s processing capacity,” in the words of one expert)
  • Its effect on the brain and learning ability, and the ways it has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and asthma…

It now appears to play a significant role in speeding up the spread of cancer.

Actually, it seems that the more we actually “examine” the effects of ingredients like HFCS, the more reasons we find to steer clear of anything that contains them.


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

Online Expert Series Reveals: How to Heal from GMOs and Roundup

As mounting evidence suggests that eating Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) promotes health disorders and diseases, there has been a conspicuous lack of information about how to counteract the damaging impacts—until now. On July 17th, GMO investigator Jeffrey Smith launches a free expert-interview series called “Healing from GMOs and Roundup,” featuring 18 leading scientists, physicians, product formulators, and specialists. Hosted at https://HealingFromGMOs.com, this unique 10-day online conference reviews the serious health consequences from GMOs and Roundup, and introduces practical step-by-step actions that people can take to help reverse those effects.

The leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, Jeffrey Smith was named the 2017 “Person of the Year” by Masters of Health Magazine. For more than two decades, his research has exposed how biotech companies mislead policy makers and the public, and put the health of society and environment at risk.

Roundup is featured in the series because most GMO crops are designed to survive sprays of this toxic herbicide, which then penetrates and lingers in the plants and the food. Roundup is also used on many non-GMO crops as a ripening agent just before harvest, so it is found throughout our food supply. Many experts believe that Roundup, and its active ingredient glyphosate, contribute to numerous chronic diseases that have been rising in parallel with the increased use of the herbicide in the United States.

The Healing from GMOs and Roundup expert series collectively answers a question that Jeffrey Smith has received from audiences all over the world for the past 22 years, “Other than simply avoiding them, how do we help our bodies heal from the damaging impacts of GMOs and Roundup?”GMOs

“What has emerged from these interviews is remarkable,” says Smith. “The experts offer life-changing insights and remedies that can help everyone achieve better health.”

Dr. Zack Bush, for example, discovered that Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate separates the tight junctions between human cells, potentially leading to a permeable gut lining. Such a “leaky gut” condition is correlated with cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autoimmune disease, allergies, inflammation, and autism. In his interview, Dr. Bush describes how a substance isolated from 50 million year old soil can restore the cells’ tight junctions, even in the presence of glyphosate.

David Sandoval developed a product designed to pull glyphosate residues out of the tissues and repair damaged intestines. Pre-clinical trials showed a 74% drop in glyphosate levels in urine.

 Dr. Tom O’Bryan developed a unique product which, according to lab simulations, quickly breaks down most of the toxic insecticide produced from GMO corn. The corn has been equipped with genes from soil bacteria, which produce Bt-toxin. It kills insects by creating holes in their gut walls. Research published in 2012 confirmed that Bt-toxin from GMO corn can also poke holes in human cells—in lab tests using high concentrations.

Widespread Health Impacts

Roundup, and its active toxin glyphosate, threaten our health in many ways. The World Health Organization’s expert committee classifies glyphosate as a “Probable Human Carcinogen.” Glyphosate is patented as a broad spectrum antibiotic, which preferentially kills beneficial life-supporting bacteria in our bodies. Studies suggest that Roundup and glyphosate also

·      promote birth defects,

·      damage the energy centers of our cells (mitochondria),

·      alter hormonal balance,

·      suppress digestion, and

·      block critical pathways and functions needed to support healthy bodies and balanced brain chemistry.

Animal studies on GMOs have revealed organ damage, massive tumors, premature death, immune system problems, and numerous other issues. “The impacts are so extensive and wide-ranging,” says Smith, “it makes sense that in our survey published last year, more than 3,250 people reported improvements in 28 health conditions after reducing or eliminating GMOs from their diet.” Smith maintains that switching to organic food—made without GMOs, Roundup and other synthetic toxins, is critical to restoring health. “The recommendations made in the series are extra steps we can take,” he says.

Detoxing and Repairing Key Systems

During the series, viewers will get more acquainted with vital systems in the body and how to maintain or rebuild health using dietary choices, supplements, procedures, and other recommendations. The steps to heal from GMOs and Roundup overlap with many of the same things that support health generally, including detoxification, tissue repair, a healthy balance of diverse bacteria throughout the body, a strong immune system and digestion, and ample energy.

Interested persons can register for free at https://HealingfromGMOs.com.

Press inquiries Team@HealingFromGMOs.com

The Bonvie Blog: Vanishing Act

‘Disappearance’ of GMOs, Monsanto, Should Be No Cause for Complacency

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

You might think of it as a kind of double disappearing act – a pair of closely related evil entities now on the verge of vanishing before our very eyes.

We’re talking about the man-made mutations commonly known as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs (often referred to in the vernacular as “Frankenfoods”), and the chief creator of these mini-monsters, the Monsanto Corp. of St. Louis.

Only they aren’t really going away. They’re rather resurfacing with altered identities in the hopes that these new incarnations will be less apt to arouse antagonism and stir up controversy.

But before we go into the details of this makeover in the making, a bit of background is in order.

Like the body snatchers of sci-fi fame, GMOs have been steadily transforming such major crops as soy, corn (even sweet corn), canola, cotton, and sugar beets into things that may look exactly like the real McCoy, but have had their DNA doctored.

That might have been bad enough, since these imitations, although grown from patented seeds, were declared to be the “substantial equivalent” of the commodities they replaced with no requirement for safety testing, despite evidence that they could trigger allergic reactions. But what makes them an even bigger health hazard is the main reason that their genes were rewired.

Monsanto has long claimed GMOs are intended to make crops better able to grow under various conditions, and “feed the world.” In reality, however, most of them were created to be “Roundup Ready” – that is, able to withstand the effects of the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup, the world’s most widely used herbicide, which has been identified as a likely carcinogen (now the basis of thousands of consumer-injury lawsuits as well as complaints by consumer advocacy and environmental groups) and destroyer of beneficial gut bacteria.monsanto

In addition to profiting hugely from Roundup sales, the company has also succeeded in making farmers dependent on its genetically modified seeds, and contractually obligated to buy new ones from the company every year (under threat of being sued), rather than saving their seeds as is traditional in agriculture. That has created an epidemic of “superweeds” – and a market for even more pernicious herbicides.

This toxic takeover of much of our food supply may have made Monsanto a ton of money, but has also made it probably the most hated corporation on the planet. Its GMOs have likewise become widely shunned – and despite political resistance to labeling foods containing them as some five dozen other countries do, the non-GMO Project label now appears on thousands of products (which unfortunately is no guarantee that Roundup hasn’t been used on ingredients as a post-harvest drying agent, unless a product is also organic).

Just how much of a problem that’s become for biotechnology companies was reflected in a forum for venture capitalists back in 2015, where a market research firm representative observed that “a big struggle everyone here has is how do you talk about your product without calling it a genetically modified organism.”

Well, it appears that soon they’ll no longer have to.

The ultimate result of a protracted political battle over mandatory GMO labeling was passage of supposed “compromise” legislation in 2016 that overrode state labeling initiatives, including one actually signed into law in Vermont. But it only permits consumers with a smart-phone app to know that a product contains GMOs.

Now, some new “guidelines” created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and due to take effect after the requisite public-comment period ending July 3, would do away entirely with what The New York Times called the “stigmatized terms” GMO and genetically engineered, substituting “bioengineered” or “BE.” While such euphemisms may mean essentially the same thing, they would supposedly not be as readily recognizable – sort of like putting a Groucho Marx disguise on Public Enemy No. 1.

Meanwhile, an even more meaningful, if unrelated, transmogrification is also in the works – the pending purge of the much maligned Monsanto moniker.

And this is no small matter when your realize that the 117-year-old name was retained even when the company morphed from a manufacturer of such chemicals as dioxin (which resulted in a number of health- and pollution-related lawsuits against the company) and PCBs (the careless disposal of which culminated in a $550 million settlement with residents of Anniston, Ala.) into an “agricultural” enterprise back in 2002.

The notoriety that has accompanied the “new” Monsanto’s increasing stranglehold on agriculture, however, is something that even millions of dollars put into corporate consumer-oriented advertising and PR campaigns couldn’t dispel. And that little image problem is something its new owner – the German conglomerate Bayer (perhaps best known for its aspirin) – seems intent on shedding ASAP.

As a result, according to a statement given to media this month, “Monsanto will no longer be a company name. The acquired products will retain their brand names and become part of the Bayer portfolio.”

And while all this won’t quite happen overnight, Bayer’s apparent haste to dispense with the widely detested designation seems to have surprised both business experts and opponents. “The speed at which they’re looking to do away with the Monsanto brand speaks volumes,” was the way one brand-management consultant put it.

To hear Bayer CEO Werner Baumann describe it, what will emerge from this merger will be a kinder, gentler and less aggressive agricultural agenda.

“Of course, there needs to be a lot more engagement,” he declared. “We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground. Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It’s the only way to build bridges.”

Now, all that might be construed as a sign of progress – not only because of its conciliatory tone, but because the toppling of a mercenary monolith as mighty as Monsanto might be considered a testament to the power of informed consumers to effect major change in the marketplace, not unlike the deposing of a dictator.

Just as in the aftermath of many a revolution, however, what follows may merely be a continuation of the same type of tyranny under another regime. Perhaps Monsanto’s often ruthless methods of doing business may be softened somewhat, and U.S. politicians (like former Kansas Representative and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) who once did the company’s bidding may not be as inclined to do likewise for a German conglomerate. But make no mistake – its products and practices aren’t likely to disappear along with the Monsanto name.

Realistically speaking, Bayer didn’t sink $63 billion into this acquisition as an exercise in altruism. Upon its completion, in fact, the company will reportedly control an estimated 29 percent of the world’s seed supply and nearly a quarter of all pesticide production. 

In other words, this is no time to let our guard down, as both the USDA and Bayer seem to hope we’ll do. The threat to the integrity and safety of our food supply posed by GMOs is not about to go away, and could very well continue to expand under the new management, just as it has been doing over the past two decades.

Perhaps when we see Roundup heading for the last roundup – and not being replaced with an even more pernicious chemical concoction – we’ll have real reason to believe we’re finally winning this battle.


Linda and Bill Bonvie are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.

 

The Gormley Files – Escape from the Emergency Room

Escape from the Emergency Room

By James J. Gormley

A few years back, I realized that I had a medical “situation,” a male concern I had wondered about for a couple of months, yet had dealt with by the time-honored male tradition of “avoidance” — if I pretend everything’s okay, the problem will go away — not the best approach.

I sat down with my wife. We resolved to speak with a physician-friend the next day, which I did. l was told: “Get thee to an emergency room” in no uncertain terms.gormley emergency

Wracked with fear, I stepped into an emergency room in the Bronx, and I was shocked. Before me were hundreds of people waiting to be called — victims of a world without a family doctor, statistics at the periphery of an HMO universe.

There was no hope in this room. Only desperation. Only sickness. Only pain. The room was dark and filthy, the staff looked shell-shocked and the triage “window” was a 1-inch-thick bulletproof barrier.

My heart sank. I felt a ball of worry in the pit of my stomach. I telephoned my car-service friend, Marvin, and asked him to pick me up and drive me to a hospital in Manhattan, one regarded as one of the finest medical institutions in the world.

When the cab drove in along the graceful, flower-­lined driveway, I thought that I was pulling up to a Hamptons dinner party, not to a place of X-rays and blood. There were only a couple of people waiting in the immaculate, “elegant” waiting room. I thought “Now I’ll be safe. Now I’m in good hands.”

Or not? The triage nurse ignored most of my questions, and I wound up in a room within the bowels of the E.R. Freezing in a hospital gown, I was examined by a surgeon who was truly compassionate yet overworked. He informed me that I would need ultrasound testing, and that a urologist would have to see me.

After he left, a nurse ordered me to vacate the room, since they needed it for an “eye injury.” I painfully climbed down (without a step-stool) and found myself, ignominiously, having to climb up onto a stretcher in the hallway.

About two hours went by before transporters came to bring me to ultrasound. When I was brought back to the E.R., I was deposited in a wheelchair and forgotten. When my meal arrived (which I had to beg for), the urologist intern showed up — seven hours after I arrived, four hours after the ultrasound. He was very vague, and just didn’t seem to care. He promised to give me the names of three urological surgeons and sent me back to the nurses station, where I waited another hour for my discharge instructions, which I could barely decipher.

When asked by one of the night-shift nurses, “Who was your nurse?,” l told her that I had no idea — that no one (except for the surgeon) had bothered to give me a name, or ask me if I was okay, or if I needed a sip of water — or anything at all.

When I sit back, and try to process what this experience taught me, I’m left with this thought: It represents the very worst and the very best of what’s horribly wrong and terribly right about mainstream medicine today.

It’s high-tech but “low-heart,” the apex of empirical skill yet the nadir of compassionate medicine. In 1975, Ashley Montagu said, “One goes through […] medical school and one’s internship learning little, or nothing, about goodness, but a good deal about success.”

Pity that goodness needs to be taught, and sad that this is a definition of success.

Is it any wonder that holistic medicine holds the key?


James J. Gormley is Vice President and Senior Policy advisor for Citizens for Health. He is an award-winning blogger and author, including Health at Gunpoint: The FDA’s Silent War Against Health Freedom (Square One, 2013).

The Bonvie Blog: A Toxic Topic’s Return

A Lesson from the Past Reminds Us How the Facts Are What Really Matter

By LINDA and BILL BONVIE

It was a bit like a case of déjà vu, only with a new dimension.

That was our reaction upon hearing the news that a Terminix employee had been indicted for illegally applying the highly toxic fumigation gas methyl bromide inside various residences in the U.S. Virgin Islands, including the St. John condominium resort complex where a Delaware family of four nearly died as a result back in March 2015.

As it happens, the use of methyl bromide in residential, structural and agricultural pest control, and its often deadly consequences, was the topic on which we began our writing collaboration (culminating last year in the publication of our book, Badditives!).methyl bromide molecule

Only back when we first broached this particular subject in print, all those uses were still quite legal – and there being no Internet at the time, much of our information came from trade publications and old-fashioned journalistic leg-work.

(At one point, one of us had occasion to meet the late farmworkers-rights crusader Cesar Chavez asking him what he could tell us about methyl bromide, which was being used to fumigate soil. He replied, “What can you tell us about methyl bromide?”)

We subsequently wrote a number of magazine articles on the widespread application of this invisible and odorless killer, which in the early ‘90s had begun to gain notoriety not so much for its lethality but as an ozone depleter. And, yes, they included horror stories, some even worse than the one in the Virgin Islands, such as the case of the little girl who died following a “tent fumigation” of her Savannah, Georgia home, after some of the gas got trapped in her mattress.

But the piece we wrote 25 years ago was the one that proved most memorable — and all on account of its post-script, which can be taken as a kind of object lesson in today’s fractured political climate.

It was done for a slick, glossy, 440-page monthly publication called The World & I, which described itself as “A chronicle of our changing era” — one that was quite comprehensive in its range of subject matter, as well as highly informative. It was also put out by The Washington Times, a paper with a distinctly conservative political slant owned by the Unification Church and founded by its head, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

That’s right — a magazine published by the “Moonies.”

That fact, however, had no bearing whatsoever on the content of our article, “Fallout from a Pending Phaseout,” which was based on some rather time-consuming and scrupulous research.

And one aspect of it had to do with the way methyl bromide was being used in certain large food-storage facilities, including (at the time) the Hershey chocolate plant, which in 1990 alone vented more than 40,000 pounds into the immediate environment, much of it on weekends during the summer when crowds of visitors were enjoying the attractions at nearby Hershey Park.

So were we sure that these were accurate claims, and did we have any proof? Yes, and yes. The figures and dates we cited came directly from the Environmental Protection Agency’s own “toxic release inventory,” and had been provided to the EPA by the industries themselves — statistics that could easily be obtained by a reporter or anyone else who knew of their existence.

But after the article appeared in The World & I (along with a photo of the Hershey plant), it struck us that this was the sort of information that should be of considerable interest to print and broadcast media in the Harrisburg, PA vicinity, where the Hershey Corporation and its famous amusement park are situated. And we got to wondering whether they might pick up on our “scoop.”

That was when Linda got the idea of calling them while posing as a concerned parent about to take her family to Hershey Park and inquiring if they planned to do anything with the story.

And the reactions were somewhat surprising in their skepticism. One of the editors we contacted, for example, asked, “If this is such a big issue, why don’t we already know about it?”

But the really mind-blowing response came from the head of a TV news operation, who asked, “And just where did you read this, ma’am?”

“In a magazine called The World & I.”

“I see. And can you tell me who puts out this magazine?”

“It says it’s a publication of The Washington Times.”

“Oh, really? And do you know who it is that owns The Washington Times?”

When asked who that was, he responded, “Never mind. Just take your kids to Hershey Park and have a good time, and don’t worry about it.”

So, our extra-curricular discovery — that the veracity of a totally accurate article could be automatically dismissed, even by people in the news business who should have known better, due to distrust of the motives of the proprietor of the publication where it appeared — is one that continues to resonate a quarter-century later, perhaps more so than ever.

What our little experiment revealed was an apparent assumption back then that any disclosure contained in a journal whose owner had conservative leanings (and was the founder of a foreign religious cult, no less) was highly suspect, and probably deliberate disinformation. Today, what we keep hearing from a resurgent right, with encouragement from the current occupant of the Oval Office, is a mirror-image message: that the reporting you might read in papers like The Washington Post and The New York Times is not only biased, but actual “fake news” reflecting the supposed political agendas of their owners.

But the truth is that professional journalists, with few exceptions, are simply trying to do their jobs — which means doing their best to uncover facts, not twist them or engage in misleading fabrications in order to further an employer’s perspective.

By that, of course, we mean the kinds of skilled hunter-gatherers of genuine information that reputable news operations usually depend on to stay in business, no matter who owns them.

In our current internet era, however, many people have a regrettable tendency assume that legitimate media whose political leanings they don’t like are trafficking in trickery and deliberate deception, even while they give credibility to websites that make outlandish claims and promote preposterous conspiracy theories for example, school massacres were staged by people trying to turn the public against gun ownership.

And that’s where the business of being able to discern between real and fake news becomes especially tricky. Because often, the ones that are engaging in such unfounded and ridiculous rumor-mongering — an example being Alex Jones’s lunatic-fringe Infowars — will make assertions that are perfectly valid; e.g., mandatory vaccinations and fluoridation may be hazardous to your health.  And when they do so, they tend to actually give ammunition to people whose aim is to shoot down any legitimate doubts about the safety or advisability of such policies.

The point is that, no matter what your political persuasion, when you automatically assume that anything that appears to come from the opposing camp — even if it’s based on totally independent and nonpartisan research — is simply intended to fool you, you could well end up depriving yourself of essential information.

You could even be missing out on a revelation that might potentially spare you from exposure to a life-threatening poison gas on your next vacation.


Linda and Bill Bonvie, freelance writers based in Little Egg Harbor, NJ, are regular bloggers for Citizens for Health and the co-authors of Badditives: The 13 Most Harmful Food Additives in Your Diet – and How to Avoid Them.