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Russia Suspends Imports of Genetically Engineered Corn in Wake of Rat Study; France Orders Probe of GMOs

Yes on Proposition 37, California Right to Know
For Immediate Release:  September 25, 2012?
Contact:  Stacy Malkan, 510-542-9224stacy@carighttoknow.org?

Russia today suspended the import and use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn, following a study released last week that found serious health problems in rats fed this corn, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Last week, the French government called for an investigation into GMOs and said it would seek an immediate ban on European Union imports if the findings indicate a detrimental impact on humans. The French agriculture Minister has asked European authorities to abandon the use of GMO crops.

“Across the world, there are heightening concerns about the health risks of eating genetically engineered foods,” said Proposition 37 Campaign Manager Gary Ruskin. “There is a giant question mark hanging over these foods and their health risks.  For those of us in California, the case for labeling of genetically engineered foods has never been stronger.”

The long-term rat study conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini and published in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, looked at the most common type of genetically engineered corn in the American diet in combination with the commonly used herbicide Roundup. The study found serious health problems in the treated rats including mammary tumors, liver and kidney problems and premature death.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not reacted to the study.

California voters will decide this fall whether to require labeling of genetically engineered foods sold in the state – a requirement already in place in 50 other countries.

Monsanto has supported GMO labeling in Europe but is spending millions to defeat it here in California.

For more information about Proposition 37, see www.carighttoknow.org

 

Paid for by Yes on 37 For Your Right to Know if Your Food Has Been Genetically Engineered  Supported by Consumer Advocates Makers of Organic Products and California Farmers, Major funding by Mercola Health Resources LLC and Organic Consumers Fund. 5940 College Ave, Suite F , Oakland, CA 94618, United States

G.M.O.’s: Let’s Label ’Em

September 16, 2012

California’s Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, will require the labeling of genetically modified (GM) and genetically engineered (GE) foods.

The list of those organizations, newspapers and pundits calling for support of Prop 37 continues to grow. The latest voice to join the chorus is Mark Bittman, blogger for the New York Times. Read his editorial from the September 16th edition here.

Will Congress Let Monsanto Write Its Own Rules?

By Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety
Co-Authored by Colin O’Neil, Regulatory Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety
Reprinted by permission of the Center for Food Safety

 

The agricultural biotech industry — well, let’s call it what it really is: the chemical industry — has gone on the offensive as never before with a set of slippery policy riders to the House Farm Bill. It’s a new low even for an industry that has spent years and tens of millions of lobbying dollars trying to dismantle the basic safeguards that stand between a regulated, healthy food supply and the profit margins chemical industry executives pine for. If passed, these riders would undermine the few laws that are currently in place to protect farmers’ rights, our health and our environment from the many adverse impacts of genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Waking to the news this morning that the bill reported out of committee late last night with this suite of riders perfectly intact should give everyone interested in a safer, more secure food supply (and U.S. economy, for that matter) a definite chill, even during these incredibly hot July days. Why? Because one important question has become very real: Will Congress let the chemical industry write its own rules?

Deliberately buried in the House Agriculture Committee’s voluminous discussion draft of the 2012 Farm Bill, these significant changes to the Plant Protection Act (PPA) — one of the few statues that regulate GE crops — will counter the gains that have been made to protect our food supply and the farmers who grow it. The provisions (Sections 10011, 10013 and 10014) would force the rushed commercialization of GE crops, create a backdoor approval for Dow’s “Agent Orange” corn and eliminate any meaningful review of the impacts of these novel crops.

Science and time have shown that GE crops cause significant harm to agriculture and the environment. The overwhelming majority of these novel crops are engineered to be resistant to herbicides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup, and have dramatically increased overall herbicide use by 382 million lbs. This spike has, in turn, caused an epidemic scourge of herbicide-resistant superweeds. And they have caused repeated transgenic contamination of non-biotech crop, costing farmers and businesses billions of dollars, as well as permanent contamination of the wild.

Federal courts have ruled for farmers, businesses and public interest plaintiffs numerous times, holding that USDA had violated federal law when approving GE crops by failing to adequately consider and regulate their harms. But rather than address these continued failures, the chemical industry’s allies in Congress are trying to change the law via the Farm Bill. The logic being: if you can’t win the game, change the rules.

These changes, if allowed to become law, would have numerous negative impacts and outlaw responsible governance. For example, one proposed rider would outlaw any review of GE crops’ impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and other environmental laws. This suite of “biotech riders” would have a devastating impact on our country’s protection of endangered species. It would also outlaw review by any agency other than the USDA. As a result, the potential impacts of GE crops, including increased pesticide use, on endangered species and other wildlife would not be assessed by our expert wildlife agencies, allowing a GE crop approval to go forward, even if it would cause the extinction of a protected species. Such changes in regulation leave our protected wildlife populations in severe jeopardy and undermine the agencies working hard to ensure their survival. Instead, USDA would only be required to perform narrow, newly established cursory environmental analysis. It even goes so far as to prohibit the Department from using any funds to conduct any additional environmental analyses, even if a federal judge deems such analyses necessary.

To make matters worse, the proposed riders include several means for “backdoor” approvals of GE crops. One rider would allow potentially dangerous GE crops to be commercialized without necessary safety assessments by establishing deliberately impossible deadlines for USDA to meet. Under this provision, if USDA fails to review and approve a GE crop within the short agency deadline, an immediate “default” approval and commercialization would be granted. Thus commercialization of novel GE crops could occur without any agency analysis, let alone any approval, taking place. This new one-year deadline to approve or deny an application (with an optional 180-day extension) will put unreasonable pressure on the Department and will undoubtedly impact its willingness to even attempt rigorous risk assessments.

It’s no secret — our federal agencies are underfunded and already swamped with the important task of reviewing and assessing new industry products, including GE crops. To suggest that approval of new crops that are resistant to toxic pesticides — like 2,4-D and Dicamba — should occur “automatically,” without a thorough environmental and economic analysis, is absurd. It flies in the face of farmers’ basic rights to grow their crop of choice, be protected from transgenic contamination and not be subjected to chemical drift from the use of ever-increasingly higher levels of toxic herbicides.

But it doesn’t stop there. The riders also open up a proposed second backdoor approval opportunity for GE crops that have gone through an initial public comment period and are currently under review by the USDA. Under this condition, if USDA is unable to approve or deny a crop application within 90 days of the Farm Bill passage, then the crop would be deemed approved. That’s right. If USDA can’t get through the process on schedule — a schedule created to make sure they won’t — then all the safeguards come down and a new GE crop enters the public sphere without a regulatory roadblock in its way.

And if that doesn’t sound serious enough for you, consider the fact that one of the crops that this could apply to is Dow’s 2,4-D corn. Some know it better as “Agent Orange” corn, a GE crop engineered to withstand exposure to one of the chemicals in the infamous Vietnam-era herbicide. There’s no doubt about it, the deadlines would be impossible to meet given the volume of public and scientific comments the Department receives (the agency received over 350,000 on the proposed Dow corn approval alone) and the number of applications currently being considered.

Conventional (non-biotech) and organic farmers, as well as grain handlers, grain millers and processors have already suffered substantial economic losses in the past due to transgenic contamination from GE crops. If these proposed provisions become law, the Secretary of Agriculture may be unable to prevent costly contamination episodes, like Starlink corn or Liberty Link rice, which result in market rejection, loss of foreign and domestic markets and untold millions of dollars in lost revenue to farmers and the food industry.

But the chemical interests thought of that, too. They’ve inserted a rider that would compel USDA to establish an extremely controversial national policy for the “low-level presence” of GE material in crops, setting for the first time an acceptable level of GE contamination in non-GE crops in the U.S. The disassociation of the chemical industry’s priorities from reality is almost inexplicable. Consumer demand for GE-free foods is higher than ever, both in the U.S. and abroad. Any policy that intentionally allows for GE material in crops and does nothing to prevent contamination of conventional and organic crops poses serious and irreversible economic harm to thousands of farmers, handlers, food processors and manufacturers. And beyond that, this illogical and unreasonable policy would severely impact the capability to export U.S. agricultural products to vital foreign markets that have restrictions on GE material in food.

American agriculture is at a crossroads. The mere fact that these riders are actually under discussion in today’s House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill mark-up session is a testament to the changed reality we are facing. Far from moving closer to a safer, healthier and better regulated food supply, we’re all witness to an attempted shift away from those principles — delivering our regulatory and decision-making powers over U.S. agriculture into the hands of industry. It’s a scary scenario.

So, will Congress let the chemical industry write its own rules? For the sake of all American farmers, consumers and the environment, let’s hope the House Agriculture Committee and other members of Congress will see the true intent of these riders and strike them from the Farm Bill before more damage is done.

 

Please take a moment to send a letter to your Representative, urging him/her to oppose the riders in the FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill – just click here.

The Questions of Fluoridegate

Scandal Widens, Calls for Hearings Grow as New Revelations Highlight Science in Conflict with Officials’ Statements on Water Fluoridation Safety

Part 1 of a Series, By Daniel G. Stockin, MPH

Following the Hurricane Katrina formaldehyde trailers fiasco and the Washington D.C. lead-in-drinking water disclosures, now yet another scandal provides evidence that what is said and done by public health experts may not be as important as the reasons behind what is left unsaid and undone.

Enter Fluoridegate, a multi-faceted scandal unfolding while simultaneously a growing number of cities and water utilities have halted water fluoridation or are considering legislation to end it.

City officials in Milwaukee, New York City and Phoenix have recently discussed ending water fluoridation. Quebec and Calgary in Canada, College Station in Texas, and Pinellas County in Florida have ended it, along with numerous smaller cities and agencies.

“I think there are safety concerns and fiscal concerns causing people to rethink fluoridation,” says Wally Babb, a former Georgia water plant operator reveling in the cities’ actions, since he was fired in 2008 for his stance against fluoridation.

“But I also think prosecutors and investigative bodies are going to be very interested to ask why certain groups and individuals did not share key information about fluoridation risks,” he says.

“If any scandal ever deserved a series of investigative hearings, this is it. This is going to call some very high level people on the carpet.”

Prominent Washington D.C. product safety attorney James S. Turner concurs.

“The evidence is shocking,” he says. “It’s time to put some of the key players under oath in Fluoridegate hearings.”

The developments point to a central question: Did a group of vested interest federal and private sector officials collude to use the public health infrastructure to control what the public hears about fluoridation and divert attention from increasingly bad news about harm from fluorides?

For those still unfamiliar with the developments, here are some of the deeply troubling questions of Fluoridegate.

Controlling the Discussion and Talking Points

Water fluoridation is the long-standing practice of adding fluoride chemicals to drinking water to help prevent cavities. For decades, Americans have been told that the practice is entirely safe, though controversy about fluoridation safety has never completely disappeared.

In 2011 a Freedom of Information Act request asked for the names, titles, and job descriptions of all persons past and present inside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that had input into CDC’s decision to support fluoridation. The request turned up a disturbing fact: CDC’s Oral Health Directors, acting alone within CDC for more than 35 years, had sole input and control in deciding to support fluoridation.

The revelation raised obvious questions. How were CDC’s dental professionals, with expertise in oral health, competent to assess new research and make statements about possible harmful outside-the-mouth effects from fluorides? Why did CDC not seek assistance and input from its own cancer, diabetes, and minority health professionals, and from toxicologists in its sister organization, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry?

Were improper influence and the Oral Health Division’s close ties to the American Dental Association with its long history of denying harm from fluoridation the reasons CDC continued to deny any outside-the-mouth harm?

Interestingly, a letter from ADA had protested that it was “very disturbed” about a proposed reorganization in CDC that would downgrade the status of the Oral Health Division, folding it inside another unit. In explaining that ADA had “come to value its relationship with the (Division of Oral Health)” and describing the two organizations’ “close collaborative relationship,” ADA listed water fluoridation as its number one example of collaborative efforts with the Division.

Was it collaboration…or collusion?

With the information disclosed by the Freedom of Information request, actions by CDC were now seen in a new light. CDC had continued to offer stout assurances that more than 60 years of “extensive research” had proven fluoridation to be safe. But in 2006 the prestigious National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science issued a 507 page report on fluorides that documented a long list of fundamental, basic-in-nature whole-body research that had never been performed.

Had CDC officials been lying in saying that extensive fluoridation safety research had been performed?

CDC had also issued a widely-circulated statement that fluoridation was one of the 10 great public health achievements in the 20th century. But in a 2008 article in Scientific American, John Doull, chairman of the NRC fluoride committee, stated, “…when the U.S. surgeon general comes out and says this is one of the 10 greatest achievements of the 20th century, that’s a hard hurdle to get over. But when we looked at the studies that have been done, we found that many of these questions are unsettled and we have much less information than we should, considering how long this [fluoridation] has been going on.” He also stated, “The thyroid changes do worry me.”

Cleverly calling fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements had worked public relations wonders. It had preemptively diverted many from a deeper investigation of fluorides. But the NRC report and other developments would bring fluorides back under the microscope.

Unnerving Information for HIV, Organ Transplant, Diabetes and Kidney Patients

In addition to dismaying information about thyroid concerns, buried within the voluminous NRC report were other unnerving admissions such as this statement: “More research is needed to clarify fluoride’s biochemical effects on the brain.”

The technical jargon and size of the report are daunting, but readers willing to wade through it learn that consumers are ingesting uncontrolled amounts of fluorides through their water supply without our scientists knowing what this does to our brains.

Because fluorides deposit cumulatively in the bones over time, the report also says it is “paramount” that research be conducted because bone marrow is where immune cells have their genesis. It points out that research could be conducted to determine “what percentage of immunocompromised subjects have adverse reactions” at various levels of fluoride in water.

News of this is understandably alarming to organ transplant patients and persons with HIV/AIDS or congenital immune diseases, but there has been little or no communication of the concerns about fluoride immune system impacts to these groups.

The NRC report also listed diabetics, kidney patients, seniors, children, outdoor workers and other groups as “susceptible subpopulations” that are especially vulnerable to harm from ingested fluorides.

What was done with these startling statements in the report? Had they been quickly acted on and formally distributed by federal officials to affected stakeholder groups such as the National Kidney Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, thyroid health advocates, HIV support groups, child health groups, etc? If so, the groups were uniformly and strangely quiet about receiving it. And why did the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and CDC’s parent health agency take nearly five years, and until EPA was threatened by a fluoride fumigant lawsuit, to issue a tepid recommendation to slightly lower the level of fluorides in drinking water?

Was the fix in because the dental industry, water agencies, and other groups would face tremendous legal liability if fluorides were now admitted to be potentially harmful? And were CDC and other groups working to “spin” the NRC report, to do damage control?

Fluoridation advocates cited statements within the report that its purpose was not a specific assessment of water fluoridation, implying that the process of studying fluorides produced no information useful in assessing fluoridation safety. This tactic backfired because it is akin to saying that efforts to put a man on the moon did not produce information useful for other spaceflight programs. Plus, the report designated certain groups as “susceptible subpopulations” without respect to what concentration of fluoride was in their water.

Again, the question: Did a group of vested interest federal and private sector officials collude to use the public health infrastructure to control what the public hears about fluoridation and divert attention from increasingly bad news about harm from fluorides? This is where Fluoridegate hearings will come in. Both federal and state agencies and attorneys general will find numerous avenues of fertile investigation.

Harm to Minorities: the Issue that “Has the Potential to Gain Traction”

One of the key areas for investigation will focus on fluoridation promoters’ actions concerning disproportionate fluoridation risks and harm for minority groups.

For example, why did CDC fail to openly inform the black community of news that blacks are disproportionately harmed by “dental fluorosis,” a permanent and in many cases disfiguring staining of teeth that indicates childhood overexposure to fluorides? CDC continued to not openly share the information with minority advocacy groups even after The Lillie Center in Georgia presented a detailed fluoridation ethics complaint to CDC citing the omission in 2007.

And the issue of harm to black citizens continues to grow. In an April 2011 letter, leaders of the American Dental Association requested assistance from U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh to help deal with concerns raised by civil rights leaders Ambassador Andrew Young and Rev. Gerald Durley. The two courageous black community leaders had publicly issued letters calling for a halt to fluoridation. In the ADA leaders’ letter to Dr. Koh they explained why they were seeking his assistance to address the concerns Young and Durley had raised about fluoridation safety for minorities.

The letter from ADA leaders stated: “We believe that this issue has the potential to gain traction.”

Gain traction? Fluoridation advocates had long scoffed that fluoridation opponents’ arguments were unfounded. In fact, they said, fluoridation was especially helpful for minority and low income populations, helping eliminate oral health disparities. So what was there about the issue of minorities being harmed by fluoridation that could possibly gain traction?

Could it be that there is substance to the concerns? Does fluoridation in fact disproportionately harm minority populations?

Here we find more grist for Fluoridegate hearings. Studies and other information on fluoride exposure levels and harm had never effectively or formally been presented to minority leaders until recently, by fluoridation opponents.

For example, a fall 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry documented that black children are ingesting significantly more fluorides in water than white children. And CDC released information in 2005 documenting that blacks and hispanics have disproportionately more dental fluorosis than whites. CDC’s statistics were found deeply buried in the very last of 23 dizzying data tables in an article in CDC’s August 26, 2005 “MMWR” publication.

The news spread. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Bernice King spoke out against fluoridation on a radio program. Her cousin, Alveda King, spoke out against fluoridation on her blog. And in the summer of 2011, the League of United Latin American Citizens passed a resolution opposing fluoridation.

Let the Litigation Begin

As part of its efforts to support community water fluoridation programs, the American Dental Association had published a long list, a compendium of organizations that had lent their names as endorsing fluoridation. Dozens of national and international health advocacy, government, and professional organizations were on the seemingly impressive list.

But now it appears that organizations on the list may be named in legal actions. Citizens and decision makers relied on the organizations’ listed names in deciding to buy-in to fluoridation. Very telling will be the groups’ responses to a simple question: Did your group do its own research into potential fluoridation risks prior to allowing your name to be used on ADA’s list, or did you provide a courtesy endorsement of fluoridation without doing your own research?

The list of persons, groups, companies, and agencies that may be sued extends beyond the organizations in ADA’s compendium list. It includes almost anyone that should have warned users of fluoride products of various concerns related to fluorides. Water utilities, bottled water providers, toothpaste sellers, government agencies, nonprofits and industry trade groups, and numerous other individuals and groups may find themselves in the lawsuit cross hairs.

Washington DC toxic tort attorney Chris Nidel said this: “I think when we look back we’ll ask why Fluoridegate didn’t surface earlier. There are serious concerns about possible conflict of interest and heavy editing of information being fed to the public about fluoride risks and impacts.”

Two fluoride-related legal cases were filed in 2011 in Maryland and California courts. Both cases encountered significant, but not unexpected challenges. It’s still early in the process of developing various types of fluoride litigation, but given the now-strongly growing interest in pursuing legal actions, the future looks to hold many fluoridation and fluoride-product-related cases. The sheer number of potentially harmed citizens — persons with dental fluorosis, kidney patients tipped into needing dialysis, diabetics, thyroid patients, etc — numbers in the millions.

Concerning upcoming legal cases and hearings, perhaps most delicious to long-time fluoridation opponents is the prospect that for the first time, key officials in government and private sector agencies can be put on the witness stand and directly questioned about harm from fluorides.

A few interesting questions may be: Why are we warned to spit out pea-sized amounts of fluoridated toothpaste, but we were told we can ingest the same amount of fluoride when it comes in a large glass of fluoridated drinking water? How can it be safe to drink as much fluoridated water as we’d like? And why haven’t Americans been told that fluorides accumulate in the pineal glands in our brains?

In 2008, the National Kidney Foundation’s board of directors quietly issued a new position statement on fluoridation, causing NKF’s name to be removed from the ADA’s compendium list of fluoridation endorsers. But why did NKF not openly announce its new statement? Was it because NKF had been a recipient of grant monies from the CDC and did not wish to risk the ire of CDC officials? Did NKF risk the health of its own constituents, most of who today do not know that the National Research Council has designated kidney patients and diabetics as especially susceptible to harm from ingested fluorides?

Affecting Our Babies and Even Our Pets

Many Americans do not know that for one-time, acute exposures, fluorides are known to be slightly less toxic than arsenic and slightly more toxic than lead. But even with longer-term, lower level chronic exposures, the risks are real, especially for babies and other groups that are particularly vulnerable to harm from fluorides. The NRC report stated that on a body weight basis, infants and young children are ingesting 3-4 times the amount of fluorides as are adults.

On another front, what is fluoridated water doing to our pets and horses? This issue has received little attention until recently, but given Americans’ deep protective instincts for their pets and horses, the issue threatens to become an enormous one in its own right. News of the deaths of the fluoridated water-poisoned horses of Colorado resident Cathy Justus is quickly spreading. A growing number of stunned pet and horse owners are educating themselves further about fluorides before they continue to provide fluoridated water for Fido, the family feline, or a beloved horse.

There are so many facets to the Fluoridegate scandal that it will not be surprising if a number of attorney generals, district attorneys, politicians, investigative journalists, philanthropists, and others make their mark uncovering the harm done and the names of those responsible. Fluorides are an equal opportunity offender, so it is also not surprising that both Democrats and Republicans are joining the calls for Fluoridegate hearings or for a halt to fluoridation.

What are the other key issues? Will there be sacrificial lambs among those subpoenaed for Fluoridegate hearings and court cases? Who will point fingers at each other to try to escape blame?

Part 2 of The Questions of Fluoridegate will delve further into the numerous swirling questions.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Daniel G. Stockin, MPH, is the former manager of the EPA Western Regional Lead Training Center. He is a career public health professional with a background in toxics assessment and hazardous materials management. He is known internationally for his work at The Lillie Center Inc., a Georgia-based firm working to end water fluoridation. He may be reached at: stockin2@yahoo.com

© 2012 The Lillie Center Inc. This article may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without modification.

In A Victory For Consumers, FDA Turns Thumbs Down On “Corn Sugar” Alias For HFCS

Thanks to Linda Bonvie, blogger for the Citizens for Health project Food Identity Theft, for the following post.

For the past several months, we here at Food Identity Theft have urged our readers to submit their comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the Corn Refiners Association’s petition to allow the name “high fructose corn syrup” to be officially changed to “corn sugar.”

The last word on this hot-button issue has just come down from the FDA itself.  And it’s “no.”

The CRA will now have to quit referring to high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, as “corn sugar,” which it has been doing these days at every opportunity, apparently on the assumption that its 2010 petition would ultimately be granted despite the overwhelming opposition of consumers.

But the FDA had other ideas – the main one being that sugar is defined as “a solid, dried, and crystallized food; whereas syrup is an aqueous solution or liquid food.” (Duh!!!) Or so the agency informed CRA President Audrae Erickson in a letter dated May 30 (Wednesday) and signed by Michael M., Landa, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, which also states that “…your petition does not provide sufficient grounds for the agency to authorize ‘corn sugar’ as an alternate common or usual name for HFCS.”

While the Corn Refiners Association had ignored a letter last year from the FDA that asked them to stop using “corn sugar” as a synonym for HFCS, which Erickson did a total of 10 times in two TV interviews last week, the official denial of the name change should now make such substitution verboten in the CRA’s commercials and communications. (In fact, one can’t help but wonder whether her blatant and repeated flouting of the FDA’s directive finally spurred the agency to act on this long-standing petition).

The FDA’s rejection of the proposed name change also quite clearly reaffirms “corn sugar” as a “standard of identity” for dextrose (an ingredient with NO fructose) and declines the CRA’s request that “corn sugar” be eliminated as an alternate name for dextrose.

“We are not persuaded by the arguments in the petition that consumers do not associate ‘corn sugar’ with dextrose,” notes the letter. “The term ‘corn sugar’ has been used to describe dextrose for over 30 years.”  It further points out that “’corn sugar’ has been known to be an allowed ingredient for individuals with hereditary fructose intolerance or fructose malabsorption, who have been advised to avoid ingredients that contain fructose. Because such individuals have associated ‘corn sugar’ to be an acceptable ingredient to their health when ‘high fructose corn syrup’ is not, changing the name for HFCS to ‘corn sugar’ could put these individuals at risk and pose a public health concern.”

The latter concern has been raised in a number of the comments submitted to the FDA by members of the public, which ran against the petition 100 to 1. Most, however, expressed indignation over the idea that an industry group would try to attach a new, innocuous-sounding identity to an increasingly unpopular ingredient that so many consumers have been going out of their way to avoid in an attempt to make it appear to be something it’s not.

So confident were the corn refiners in the pending approval of their petition, that in a press release issued last week they said, “Transitional co-labeling, such as ‘Corn Sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup),’ and CRA’s education campaign will ensure consumers are well informed about the name change.”

While the FDA may well have denied the petition of its own volition, one can’t help but credit the growing public outcry over this deliberate attempt to confuse consumers (which, perversely, has been presented as an attempt to eliminate consumer “confusion”) with having set the stage for this major victory over attempted food identity theft.

To read the entire FDA response to the CRA’s petition, click here.

Record-Breaking One Million Americans Tell FDA: We Have a Right to Know What’s in Our Food

New National Survey Shows Majority of Americans United

on Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food

Media contact:
Sue McGovern
sue@mcgov.com
Direct: 781-648-7157
Cell: 781-315-3400
 

Washington, D.C. (March 27, 2012) – The Just Label It (JLI) Campaign announced today that a record-breaking one million Americans of all political persuasions have called on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. The campaign also announced a new national survey revealing that Americans across the political spectrum stand united in support of labeling food that has been genetically engineered. This is a striking contrast to the partisan divisions plaguing our political system.

“Pink slime, deadly melons, tainted turkeys, and BPA in our soup have put us all on notice that what we eat and feed our families is critically important,” said Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, a JLI partner. “Americans overwhelmingly demand safety, transparency and labeling of genetically engineered foods. It’s time for the FDA to come clean and restore public confidence in our food system.”

Since October, JLI, (www.justlabelit.org), the national campaign to require GE-food labeling and its more than 500 partner organizations have spearheaded an historic number of public comments for a GE-foods labeling petition (Docket #FDA 2011-P-0723-001/CP). March 27 is the date when the FDA is required to respond to the petition.  It took less than 180 days to accumulate the record number of comments.

“In recent years, Americans have shown a real interest in knowing more about our food and now there is a clear mandate for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. This petition asks the FDA to stand up for the rights of average Americans, and not just a handful of powerful chemical companies. It’s time for the FDA to give Americans the same rights held by citizens in forty nations, including all of our major trade partners, to know whether our foods have been genetically modified.  The FDA needs to restore confidence in our food and our right to know about the food we eat and feed our families,” said Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield, a JLI partner.

 

New Survey Results: Motherhood, Apple Pie and GE Food Labeling

Consumer support for GE-foods labeling in the U.S. is nearly unanimous, according to the political opinion survey on GE food labeling conducted by The Mellman Group on behalf of JLI. Explained pollster Mark Mellman, “Few topics other than motherhood and apple pie can muster over 90 percent support, but labeling GE-foods is one of those few views held almost unanimously.”  “The survey found nearly all Democrats (93% favor, 2% oppose), Independents (90% favor, 5% oppose) and Republicans (89% favor, 5% oppose) in favor of labeling. The study also revealed that support for labeling is robust and arguments against it have little sway. (For the survey findings, visit www.justlabelit.org)

Colorado mother and author Robyn O’Brien, who founded the AllergyKids Foundation, a JLI partner, after one of her children had an allergic reaction to breakfast, said:  “Americans are responding to the call for GE foods labeling because they want more information for their families. Like allergen labeling, GE-food labels would provide essential and possibly life-saving information for anyone with a food allergy. Being responsible for the health and safety of my children, I believe it’s my right to know about the food I feed my family…from allergens, to ‘pink slime’ to GE foods.”

###

About Just Label It

JUST LABEL IT (JLI) is a national coalition of 500 diverse organizations dedicated to the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, also referred to as genetically modified, or GMOs.  The Just Label It message is simple: consumers have a right to know about our food so we can make informed choices about what we eat and feed our families. For updated information, visit the Just Label It website, (www.justlabelit.org)

What is a GMO?

“Genetically engineered foods,” “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs, are organisms that have been created through application of transgenic, gene-splicing techniques that are part of biotechnology. This relatively new science allows DNA (genetic material) from one species to be transferred into another species, creating transgenic organisms with combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and even viral gene pools. The mixing of genes from different species that have never shared genes in the past is what makes GMOs and GE crops so unique. It is impossible to create such transgenic organisms through traditional crossbreeding methods.

Citizens for Health Joins “Just Label It” Campaign

Washington, D.C.Citizens for Health is excited to announce we have joined an effort with hundreds of organizations representing millions of Americans called the “Just Label It: We Have A Right to Know” campaign. The core of the campaign is a petition to the FDA that calls for products that use ingredients produced with genetic engineering to disclose this information on the label.

If you agree, as we do, that you have a right to know if the food you are eating has been genetically engineered, join us in this effort. We must make sure the FDA hears loud and clear that Americans want access to truthful, non-misleading information about what we put into our bodies – we want GE foods labeled.

Sign the petition now!

Please share this opportunity for action with any people you know who share your interest in knowing what is in your food.

And take a moment to watch this important video: Just Label It: We Have a Right to Know

Sign the Petition Supporting a Healthier Workplace!

Dear Citizen for Health,

As the Consumer Voice of the Natural Health Community we are committed to preserving and expanding your health freedoms and ensuring that you have access to the resources you need to make informed decisions about maintaining your health and wellness.

It is from that perspective that we bring to your attention this article: The Case for a Four-Day Work Week, by respected technology entrepreneur, Jay Love, based on his personal experience with his company. Hardly a new idea, the “work four 10-hour days with Friday off” model has been implemented in a variety of workplace environments with overwhelmingly positive results.

Workplace stress and dissatisfaction drops while productivity soars; employees have the opportunity each week to deal with domestic responsibilities that couldn’t be addressed during a non-business day; one day less to commute means money and energy saved; and people have three days to spend in the company of family, making it easier to schedule meaningful activities as a group.

Naturally, all these benefits contribute to a happier, more balanced lifestyle and greater overall health.

We at CFH put on our thinking caps and Senior Policy Advisor James Gormley took the idea one step further: “But getting home after dinner and as the children are being put to bed on four days does not compensate for one free day…It should be a 32-hour work-week…It’s all about being rested, having time for family, feeling appreciated, and achieving better work-life balance. A four-day 9-5 (or 10-6) schedule with Friday off would revolutionize the American workplace.”

Indeed it would! That’s why we created a petition to both Congressional Committees on Health Labor and Pensions suggesting a feasibility study by the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO). We’re urging that the GAO, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Labor, work to ascertain the  benefits to American workers that would result from officially creating an alternative definition of the U.S. work week based on four  days and 32 hours – 8 hours a day with time for lunch – in addition to the  current 40-hour, five-day definition.

If you agree with the available data and believe that everyone would benefit from more time with family, more time to tackle personal responsibilities, and more time to rest and rejuvenate for the week ahead, sign our petition now! 

Sincerely,

Frank Herd, Program Coordinator, CFH

Hostile Bedfellows Assail Vitamins

Part 2 of “Media May Kill Vitamins”  – Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 29, 2011

Over-the-counter dietary supplements are endangered as evidenced by ongoing attacks reported in the media. Currently Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Henry Waxman are trying a new tactic to discredit dietary supplements after previous legislative failures by asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review adverse event report data for dietary supplements only, excluding the far more dangerous and numerous adverse event reports for drugs and vaccines. Since the media shapes public opinion, individuals and special interest groups that are hostile to dietary supplements will continue to use the media to discredit them and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now.

Two thirds of Americans take dietary supplements every day. A significant number of physicians take supplements and recommend at least a multi-  vitamin/mineral combination to their patients. Most supplement takers are well educated and have studied how to use good nutrition and dietary supplements to stay well or improve their health. The skilled choose a healthy lifestyle including a good diet, exercise, stress-reduction and targeted dietary supplements as their first line of defense to maintain and regain health, looking to drugs and the rest of the conventional medical model only when necessary.

Many retiring baby boomers are especially interested in longevity medicine — living healthier and longer by nourishing their brains and bodies in well thought out plans using foods and supplements to prevent or postpone dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. It is the do-it-yourselfers that bypass conventional medicine’s “standard of care” as much as possible that are a threat to drug companies and government control.

The not-so-well-informed are easily frightened by the attacks on supplements. Many people are unaware of the behind-the-scene shenanigans by politicians and their alphabet agencies such as the FDA — entities that are supposed to protect the public. Adding to the confusion is media failure to provide the public with balanced information. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions that encourage public fear and corporate greed to dominate the health care landscape.

When one sees an assault on dietary supplements it comes from the conventional arm of medicine – the arm that has established itself as the “standard of care” and the only care that is reimbursed by insurance. Of course, education and discretion in the arena of dietary supplements is necessary. One wouldn’t go into a pharmacy and start taking every drug in sight. The same applies to dietary supplements.  A good multi-vitamin/mineral preparation without iron (look for the GMP seal or its equivalent) is a good place to start while one is learning about the benefits and risks of more sophisticated applications.

When it comes to dietary supplements, a quick way for the public to determine which conflicting medical faction is vying for their allegiance is to look at the rhetoric and source of information. This is important because the media takes all of the health-related information it reports to the public from conventional sources, sources which officially promote that Americans get all of the nutrients they need from a good diet.

The ongoing attack on supplements boils down to money and control issues involving a multifaceted mix of players. In the U.S., the powerful pharmaceutical industry uses its money to influence policy. Politicians need money to fund campaigns for public office. News media, both printed and electronic, accepts advertising dollars from pharmaceutical interests, which makes it easier for media to look the other way instead of reporting on the influence of pharmaceutical dollars as a major source of problems in U.S. health care.

The scenario looks like this:

  • Over-the-counter dietary supplements are the primary source of competition for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Americans spend $27 billion on dietary supplements; pharmaceutical interests want to re-route the money to their bottom line.
  • In order for the federal government and the medical industry to control health care completely, over-the-counter supplements must be banned or reduced to an ineffective dosage.
  • With Medicare spending projected to increase to $900 billion by 2018, the Feds are looking for ways to trim cost and dietary supplements are on the Feds’ radar screen as a cost-cutting measure, thus providing more incentive for pharmaceutical interests to gain control of supplements.
  • DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) presents a problem for conventional medicine. DSHEA gives Americans the right to purchase safe, over-the-counter supplements in useful dosages.
  • The FDA is currently attempting to undermine and re-write DSHEA by re-defining the terms regulating dietary supplements in its new Draft Guidance.  NDI (new dietary ingredients) is a side door which provides an indirect way to decimate the dietary supplement industry by increasing the cost to manufacturers in the name of providing a higher degree of “safety” for products appearing on the market after 1994, resulting in increased seizure of products and driving smaller companies out of business.  The newer products which could disappear include supplements such as the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10, Resveratrol, Grape Seed Extract, Pycnogenol,  Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Green Tea Extract, etc. Details may be found in the FDA’s “Draft Guidance for Industry: Dietary Supplements: New Dietary Ingredients: Notifications and Related Issues.”
  • On the international front, the U.S. signed the World Health Organization’s trade agreement, Codex Alimentarius, which may supersede the laws of the countries signing it. Countries not in compliance are considered holdouts and may not be allowed to trade. Codex has the potential to override our DSHEA if the FDA doesn’t undercut it first.
  • When pharmaceutical interests control the supplement industry, conventional medicine will control health care options.

A take-over of dietary supplements by conventional medicine will destroy the self-care/wellness care industry, reduce the quality of life for many, and result in premature death for people who depend on supplements to survive. This is especially true  where conventional treatments have failed but individuals have found a restorative combination of options beyond standard of care.

In the U.S., conventional medicine’s “standard of care” for health care is based on detecting disease, NOT on preventing it. Conventional doctors are trained to focus on symptoms, identifying and naming the disease, trying to match the drug to the name, and if drugs alone fail, then combinations of surgery, radiation, and drugs may be employed.

In conventional medicine, if there is no insurance code for a health issue, insurance will not pay. Insurance covers very little, other than prescription drugs, surgery and/or radiation, for a recognized health problem. Conventional medicine is a closed system wherein billions of pharmaceutical dollars influence doctors, osteopaths, pharmacists, hospitals, nurses, dietitians, nursing home facilities, insurance companies, research institutions, med school curriculum,  physicians continuing education, Medicare, government regulatory agencies such as the FDA, professional associations such as the AMA, National Cancer Institute, American Heart Association, etc., and politicians who set up the system and allow it to operate in the current manner.

Dietitians also want part of the action. In the state of Texas, registered dietitians (RD’s) petitioned the courts to recognize RD’s as the only legal source for dispensing nutritional information. So far, RD’s have lost their bid for exclusivity but the turf war is also flourishing in the field of nutrition. Fortunately, dietitians are beginning to question the influence of junk food purveyors and the results of overuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals experienced by their clients. You will know dietitians are making progress when foods in hospitals, nursing homes, and public schools are nutritious, delicious, and build health rather than destroy it. Up until recently, dietitians told the public there is no such thing as a bad food, only bad diets.

Quackwatch, an American non-profit organization, has the stated aim of combating health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct, according to Wikipedia. Most alternative treatments, including commonly used dietary supplements, are considered quackery on this site. Google “CanLyme, Quackwatch Founder Loses Major Defamation Trial in Hometown” and “Quackwatch Review” by Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D.

An entrenched medical model built around disease is more profitable for those in control of the system, but it only represents half the deck. Limiting options places a strangle-hold on treatment plans available to the patient, especially in a hospital setting where malnutrition and acquisition of hard-to-treat super bugs like MRSA and C-Diff are common.

Conventional medicine is at its best in acute illness or trauma but doesn’t work well in treating complex, chronic disease because its primary focus is not on understanding the drivers causing the disease and working with reframing how the biology works, using raw materials that build health and removing impediments to good health. However, there are doctors who are becoming more open to modalities outside conventional medicine’s “standard of care” but it may take many years for a discovery to be accepted into clinical practice. People who are seriously ill do not have many years to wait for their physician’s enlightenment or for the system to reinvent itself.

The best health care option is called functional medicine, a patient-centered, science-based health care approach that integrates the best of both traditional Western and alternative or integrative medical practices. Functional and conventional medicine use the same concept of science but the difference is in the details and the application. Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease using the continuum concept. There is a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalance to serious dysfunction to disease. Intervention and reversal of the process can occur anywhere along that continuum, but the sooner it is addressed, the better.

Functional medicine creates a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. In the case of inflammation, conventional medicine would suppress it and functional medicine would focus on finding out why inflammation is happening in the first place and change the trigger causing the problem. For example, if an individual has a problem with gluten, a gluten-free diet would be used.

Practitioners of functional medicine look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal and external factors.

Functional medicine is a whole-system medicine; a GPS system that connects the the patient to the whole story of medical science by looking for and addressing upstream causes of downstream disease processes before they become debilitating or life threatening. Combining everything that works increases the likelihood of optimal patient outcomes at a lower cost to the system and the individual.

No American wants to be without conventional medicine’s crisis intervention in acute, life threatening situations but it shouldn’t be the only choice for chronic health problems that are managed best by an integrative approach.

The media needs to question conventional medicine’s obsession with the risk of taking supplements rather than with the value supplements provide to the knowledgeable consumer. Today, 50,000 Americans have no insurance to pay for U.S. health care, which is the most expensive and fragmented health care in the world. People need access to diverse, not restricted, health care options.

High tech medicine is only about 100 years old. Compare that to other cultures which have thousands of years of historical controls involving the use of diet, plants, and herbs to ameliorate health problems. Conventional U.S. “standard of care” health care is not the repository of all wisdom. For the media to allow itself to be used in the scheme to eventually deny the public access to safe and affordable supplements is a blow to wellness care and freedom of choice.

Media May Kill Vitamins

Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 20, 2011

What happened to the media that investigates and reports both sides of the story? The practice of denigrating dietary supplements and raising public concern over “safety” has been elevated to an art form by the media. Sound bites and articles with such titles as, “Vitamins May Kill Elderly Americans,” ignore the number of documented deaths caused by prescription drugs. Without both sides of the story, media is playing with half a deck – when this happens in oppressed countries, we call it propaganda.

The current rant over the safety of dietary supplements is really not about safety. Lack of “safety” is being touted as the main reason supplements are under siege. However, ignored by the media is the Adverse Events Reporting System (AERS) of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which contains over 4 million adverse events reported from 1969 to the present for FDA approved drugs. From 2000 to 2009, the FDA AERS received 370,056 reports of deaths and 2,345,066 reports of serious patient outcomes from FDA approved drugs, NOT from dietary supplements. Eleven years ago on July 26, 2000, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that behind heart disease and cancer, ­­­­American medicine was the 3rd leading cause of death.

The study inspiring the media to create confusion, “Dietary Supplements and Mortality Rate in Older Women: The Iowa Women’s Health Study,” was observational and not the double-blind placebo gold standard with controls on every test component. Doctors and scientists know that an observational study based on a self-reporting questionnaire does not prove cause and effect – but the reader wouldn’t know that from a flamboyant title that indicates sensationalism is more important than substance. Studies like these look for clues that should then lead to further research. They are not designed to be used to guide clinical medicine or public health recommendations.

The value of using dietary supplements to improve the health of the elderly, as well as the health of other sectors of the population, has been confirmed in published studies. The Lewin Group is a health care consulting firm that does policy research and data analysis on Medicare, etc. In their study, “A Study of the Cost Effects of Daily Multivitamins on Older Adults,” the Lewin Group summarized that “given the available evidence, we conclude that daily multivitamins can be beneficial for older adults. Because suboptimal nutrient intake has been linked to chronic disease, the risk from not taking a multivitamin outweighs the minimal risks of taking one.”

Various think tanks have determined that a significant number of older Americans are deficient in vitamins and trace elements and could benefit from taking a multivitamin. A study entitled, “Effect of Selected Dietary Supplements on Health Care Reduction,” commissioned by the Dietary Supplement Education Alliance and updated in 2007, found that taking four specific supplements could reduce health care cost by over $24 billion.

Reviews supporting the use of nutritional supplements have appeared in both JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine. Some people, due to age, genetic predisposition, environmental insult, lifestyle choices, disability, or disease, have a heightened requirement for dietary supplements.

Media cannot fulfill its obligation to the public when the only source of information considered originates from government, corporations that represent conventional medicine, or sectors that serve both. Media shapes public opinion about dietary supplements with information coming from entities representing only the conventional standard of care model. The Feds, pharmaceutical industry, and media make interesting bedfellows. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions.

The purpose of thorough and unbiased investigational reporting is to empower the public to deal intelligently with information.  Besides knowing where and when a medical study took place, reporters need to ask critical questions and provide the people they serve with answers to the following:

  • Who funded the study?
  • What was the original purpose of the study?
  • What substances were tested (types and dosages)?
  • Did the research involve combinations of nutrients?
  • Was the research on isolated components only?
  • In the case of hormones, were they synthetic or compounded bio-identical hormones?
  • What type of study was it (observational or double-blind placebo)?
  • What was the outcome of the study?
  • Whose health stands to benefit from the outcome?
  • Who stands to profit monetarily from the outcome?
  • Were physician/researchers from ACAM (American College for   Advancement in Medicine) or other scientists without financial ties asked to comment on the study?

To connect the dots, the media has to recognize itself as a significant part of the health care problem in the U.S. Since the media shapes public opinion, special interest groups will continue to use the media to discredit dietary supplements and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now. Does the media want conventional medicine, with its heavy reliance on expensive physician-dispensed prescription drugs, to be the only game in town? Media must not offer a Trojan horse to a public that relies on it to be impartial and knowledgeable enough to report both sides of the story.