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We Want To Hear From You

By Jim Turner, Chair of Citizens for Health

Over the next two or three weeks, as Congress begins focusing its attention on several issues that affect natural health and organic food consumers, we at Citizens want to be careful of your time and resources.

We would like to hear from you about how frequently you want to hear from us. If you suffer from TMI (too much information) from us let us know. We’ll cut back on what we send you. In the mean time here are some issues you will be hearing about from us:

• The most sweeping reform of food safety in fifty years is about to hit the Senate floor. Unfortunately it is very likely to pass even though it lacks effective measures to address many serious concerns about food safety such as:

– feeding of slaughter house waste to animals

– the use of antibiotics and hormones in feed to promote animal growth

– the spread of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms in food)

– the presence of pesticide residue in food

– the failure to require labeling of food that use radiation, GMO’s antibiotics, hormones, and pesticide residue in their manufacture.

Each of these failings leaves a serious potential source of food born disease unaddressed. We will inform you as aspects of the food safety debate as this legislation moves through the Senate, the House Senate Conference and toward the President’s signature. Specifically we want to inform you of the efforts of some advocates who are proposing changes to the bill which we support. Here are two of them:

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Food Safety Bill’s Ban on BPA Resisted

By Lyndsey Layton, Washington Post Staff Writer

The food industry and major business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are threatening to withdraw support for a long-pending bill to improve food safety, saying they are upset by a proposed amendment that would ban bisphenol-A, a controversial chemical, from food and beverage containers.

The bill is the Senate version of legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House last year. It is designed to give the Food and Drug Administration vast new regulatory authority over food production and place greater responsibility on manufacturers and farmers to produce food free from contamination. It had broad bipartisan support and backing from the White House, and it was expected to come to the Senate floor before the Memorial Day recess.

But in a letter to Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the chairman and ranking minority member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, the business groups said last week that they oppose an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would ban bisphenol-A, or BPA, from food and beverage containers.

“We will not support food safety legislation that bans or phases out BPA from any food and beverage container,” said Scott Faber, vice president for federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food companies and retailers.

BPA is used in thousands of consumer goods, including compact discs, dental sealants, and credit card and ATM receipts, but health advocates say they are most concerned about BPA’s presence in plastic food containers, bottles and the epoxy linings of metal cans because it can leach into food and beverages. It is found in the urine of more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, according to federal estimates.

More than 200 studies have connected BPA to a range of health concerns, including cancer and developmental and reproductive problems. Some U.S. states and cities have banned its use in certain products, primarily in items for young children that come into contact with food. Many companies have voluntarily removed BPA from their products or required suppliers to provide BPA-free options.

The FDA said in January that it had “some concern” about possible health effects linked to BPA but did not have enough reason to restrict its use and would study the question over 18 to 24 months. The Environmental Protection Agency says that it, too, wants to study the matter. And the National Institutes of Health are spending $30 million over the next two years, also examining whether BPA poses a health risk.

“We trust the FDA to complete a safety assessment for BPA, and we don’t think the Senate should short-circuit and undermine the FDA,” Faber said.

But Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, said: “There’s really no question that BPA is a food safety issue. The food safety bill is absolutely the right place to move this forward.”

Feinstein and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bill last year to ban the chemical from baby bottles, sports water bottles, reusable food containers, infant formula liners and food can liners. Feinstein is using that as a model for an amendment to the food safety bill, her staff said.

“I feel very strongly that the government should protect people from harmful chemicals,” Feinstein said in a statement released by her office. “BPA should be addressed as a part of the food safety overhaul.”

BPA was developed in the 1930s, and commercial uses exploded in the 1950s after scientists discovered its ability to make plastics more durable and shatterproof. A ban would create significant problems for many food manufacturers who do not have BPA-free alternative packaging, Faber said.

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Proposed FDA Food Safety Bill Modified to Protect Natural Supplements

original link: www.examiner.com

According to information reported by the Alliance for Natural Health, a Congressional bill designed to overhaul food safety regulations has been modified to exempt food supplements from regulations included in the bill. The FDA Food Modernization Act (S. 510), which has been a source of concern for supplement sellers and consumers, had included language which implied that U.S. trading partners would have to “harmonize” with Codex Alimentarius. The Codex is an international set of regulations that would affect access to many supplements, as it establishes uniform regulations that would supersede national laws governing foods and supplements. Already, a number of European countries and Canada have enacted regulations that greatly restrict the sale and purchase of herbal and nutritional supplements. Supplements under these provisions are addressed more like pharmaceutical drugs, which require extensive time and enormous expense to get government approval.

Fears that S. 510 would limit access in America to natural supplements led health freedom advocates to lobby Senators such as Orrin Hatch (R) and Tom Harkin (D) to modify the legislation. The new language inserted in the bill states that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the regulation of dietary supplements.” This language is not present in the already passed House of Representatives version of the FDA Food Modernization bill. The final draft of the bill may soon be voted on by the Senate, and although the current version appears to protect dietary supplements there is no guarantee that a final version which integrates the House and Senate versions of the bill would retain this protection.

The Senate bill S. 510 was initially sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D). Natural health advocates have been vocally concerned with this bill as well as a legislation introduced by Senator John McCain (R), which more directly challenged existing limits on the FDA’s regulations covering the natural supplement industry. Although the McCain bill appears to have been dropped from the current legislative agenda, there are concerns that the agenda of imposing tyrannical restrictions on supplements will be renewed or brought forward in more covert ways. Advocates of the new legislations claim that laws are needed to protect the public from product hazards. However, critics counter that sufficient safety regulations already exist and just need to be properly enforced.

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Health Freedom Nation: Consumers Take Control

By James J. Gormley, The Gormley Files

Courtesy of NOW Foods

Consumers and the health-food industry may have stopped S. 3002 in its tracks, but S. 510 and other threats to health freedom remain. Nevertheless, a new slate of bills, along with a re-invigorated health-freedom movement, offer new hope for the future.

Since the health-food movement’s earliest origins in New Hampshire in the 1790s, there have been many champions of health freedom. The one who immediately springs to mind, at least for me, is Frank Murray, who happened to be my first boss before I became editor of Better Nutrition magazine in 1995.

In 2006, Frank was the recipient of the Natural Product Association (NPA) President’s Award for “long-time contributions to the natural products industry.”

He was for many years editor of Health Foods Retailing, the health-food industry’s very first trade publication and the official magazine of the NPA for 50 years, from the late-1930s until the mid-1980s.

More Than One Slingshot
A bestselling health-book author, Frank has been one of the industry’s most articulate, enthusiastic and tireless crusaders, having stood arm-in-arm with Milton Bass, Max Huberman and NPA in successful opposition to the Vitamin Volstead Act from 1966 through 1976, when the Proxmire Vitamin Bill was signed into law.

His book, More Than One Slingshot, which was written for the association, tells the history of the health food industry from its origins in the late 1890s up through the early 1980s.

The book has this great, dated cover that I love, one which depicts David and Goliath, a popular representation of the battle between the health-food industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Today, in early 2010, we face many of the same threats to health freedom even if the names of the bills and the players have changed.

Today’s Threats to Health Freedom
In March of 2009, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that would hand over extensive, unwarranted powers to an agency, the FDA, that has shown that it cannot objectively and properly fulfill its mission regarding dietary supplements since it constantly works to undermine the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) through coordinated suppression of supplement companies and health information regarding products sold by legitimate manufacturers.

As this bill was reviled by consumers and farmers across the country, it appeared to fall by the wayside, that is until Sen. John McCain introduced S. 3002, the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010.

Senate Bill 3002 was said to be about athletics ? trying to protect athletes from spiked or doped supplements (although one would think the athletes would know what they were taking, especially if they themselves ordered these products from shifty chemists and fly-by-night pharmacists), but it included a whole host of anti-supplement provisions that almost made S. 510 pale by comparison.

A firestorm of consumer outrage ensued: many tens of thousands of letters were sent to the Senate thanks to powerful grassroots advocacy campaigns organized by Citizens for Health, the Alliance for Natural Health and the NPA. In early March, Sen. McCain decided to withdraw his support of the bill, with the caveat that certain provisions should be carried over to S. 510, most of which are already in S. 510 as it now stands.

Consumers, and the natural products industry, must be especially vigilant now and throughout 2010 ? regarding S. 510 so that the bad provisions in this bill are dropped or drastically revised, and that nothing even worse from the dry-docked S. 3002 winds up being added to S. 510.

Tomorrow’s Health Freedom Opportunities
As to bills that offer a ray of hope, there are currently three main ones: H.R. 4913, H.R. 3394 and H.R. 3395.

On March 23rd, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced the Free Speech about Science Act (H.R. 4913); since then, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana) has signed on as a co-sponsor. The bill allows producers of healthy foods and dietary supplements to cite legitimate scientific studies on the health benefits of their products.

Rest of article can be read here

Swine Flu Response: Alarmist or Legit?

By Frank Jordans via www.msnbc.com

GENEVA – A group of outside experts will scrutinize the World Health Organization’s response to the swine flu outbreak and likely examine whether the term pandemic was appropriate for what has turned out to be a relatively mild disease, the World Health Organization said Monday.

The review starting later this month will be conducted by around 30 scientists and public health officials, and their initial findings will be presented to member states by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan in May, a senior official told reporters in Geneva.

“The assessment itself is going to address many of the questions which are being raised now,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s top flu official.

WHO’s pandemic alert scale, or “phases,” and the role that disease severity plays in the global body’s assessment of an outbreak are likely to be among the “critical issues” the group will examine, he said.

Several governments urged WHO last year not to declare swine flu a pandemic, saying it could cause unnecessary alarm if the virus turned out to be harmless. The U.N. health agency went ahead anyway, arguing that the term pandemic signifies only that a new strain is circulating worldwide, but says nothing about how dangerous it is.

Fukuda acknowledged Monday that the choice of words may have to be reconsidered in the future, to avoid confusion and anger from people who believe WHO and others overplayed the threat the virus posed.

“If we look back to the beginning of the pandemic there was a lot of discussion about what do you call these things,” he said. “These things affect how people perceive outbreaks and pandemics so I think it’s one of those issues that we have to think about.”

The expert group, which will include “very well-known scientists,” will hold its first meeting April 12-14 and consultations will probably continue over the course of the year, Fukuda said.

A final report will be presented at the WHO’s annual meeting of member states in May 2011, he said. WHO is holding a separate, internal review of its handling of the outbreak.

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9 Reasons S. 3002 Has to Go

By James Gormley, Senior Policy Advisor, Citizens for Health
More Info @ The Gormley Files

1. No phase-in period or “effective date”. Since legitimate dietary supplement companies and health-food stores would not have even one day to come into compliance with the new law, they would effectively be breaking the law the day after S. 3002 is passed.

2. Registration of supplement licensors. S. 3002 would require outfits that license dietary supplements to register their “facilities” under the FDA Food Facility program established by the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. Including these requirements would go against the purposes of the Bioterrorism Act and would serve no useful purpose other than creating more bureaucracy and red tape.

3. Registration of health-food stores. S. 3002 is unclear as to whether the current retailer exception to the Bioterrorism Act registration requirement is intended to be honored for supplement retailers.

4. Product and ingredient registration. The product/ingredient registration process included in S. 3002 is unclear in its use of the terms “ingredients” and “labeling.” As worded, S. 3002 would apparently require duplicate, therefore unnecessary, registration of every product at every point in its distribution! This would be an incredible burden, one that would mandate annual updates, and one that would not protect any proprietary information that is not required on product labels but that that may be required to be submitted in the registration process.

5. Replacement of new dietary ingredient (NDI) requirements with an FDA positive list. FDA received information between 1996 and 1998 from dietary supplement trade associations to record ingredients believed to be marketed in the U.S. prior to the passage of DSHEA. If there is any lack of clarity as to what dietary ingredients are “old,” the agency should initiate rulemaking to formally adopt the ingredients directly submitted by the trade associations.

6. Retailer evidence of compliance. The bill’s proposal to require health-food stores to obtain evidence of compliance with product registration and NDI notifications is would be ridiculously burdensome and something that is not required for other regulated goods.

7. Civil penalties. The bill would establish new, unnecessary civil penalties despite the fact that current law already imposes adequate fines and penalties for violations of the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.

8. Non-serious adverse event reports. The FDA itself has made it clear that it would not be helpful for the agency to receive boatloads of minor or trivial (and probably not substantiated) adverse event reports associated with dietary supplements. Under current law, dietary supplement companies are already required to maintain records of all adverse event reports for 6 years and the FDA has the authority to inspect these records at any time.

9. FDA recall and “cease distribution” authority. S. 3002, as well as other food safety legislation already introduced in the 111th Congress (such as S. 510), would provide FDA with authority to mandate products recalls when health risks are presented by marketed products, which is fine. However, what is not fine is that S. 3002 would obligate the agency to issue a “cease distribution” order for any supplement identified as adulterated or misbranded, even in the absence of any perceived health risk.

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The DEA Should Take Over All Sports Doping Enforcement

By James J. Gormley
original link: The Gormley Files

In February 2010 in New Orleans, three men were charged by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) with drug-trafficking Ecstasy, or MDMA (3-4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine), a synthetic chemical that can be derived from an essential oil of the sassafras tree.

If convicted, the defendants face a possible maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine and at least three years of supervised release for each count.

MDMA is also one of the easiest illegal drugs to obtain. Its effects are similar to those of amphetamines and hallucinogens. First developed as an appetite suppressant in 1912, MDMA was used as a psychotherapeutic tool and also started to become available on the street is the late 1970s and early 1980s. It wasn’t until 1985 that Ecstasy was made illegal. It is classified as a “Schedule 1” controlled substance along with other narcotics like heroin, cocaine and LSD.

One reason Ecstasy can be especially dangerous is the lack of content control. Ingredients are hard to get and manufacturers of the drug often use substitutes, mixing other harmful additives with the already dangerous mix. This practice is so common that “drug test kits” are often sold with the drug so users can test for purity.Because of the uncertainties about the drug sources, pharmacological agents, chemicals used to manufacture them, and possible contaminants, it is difficult to measure the toxicity, consequences and symptoms that might be expected.

Herbal Ecstasy is another form of MDMA that is composed of ephedrine (ma huang) or pseudoephedrine and caffeine from the kola nut. Also sold in tablet form, Herbal Ecstasy can cause permanent brain damage and death. Though not currently classified as a controlled substance, Herbal Ecstasy shares many of the same qualities and effects as MDMA. Also known as Cloud 9, Herbal Bliss, Ritual Spirit, Herbal X, GWM, Rave Energy, Ultimate Xphoria and X.

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetically produced versions of the naturally occurring male hormone, testosterone. Both males and females have testosterone produced in their bodies: males in the testes, and females in the ovaries and other tissues. The full name for this class of drugs is androgenic (promoting masculine characteristics) anabolic (tissue building) steroids (the class of drugs).

Some of the common street names for anabolic steroids include: arnolds, gym candy, pumpers, ‘roids, stackers, weight trainers and juice. Currently, there are more than 100 different types of anabolic steroids that have been developed, and each requires a prescription to be used legally in the U.S.

Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, injected intramuscularly, or rubbed on the skin when in the form of gels or creams. These drugs are often used in patterns called cycling, which involves taking multiple doses of steroids over a specific period of time, stopping for a period, and starting again. Users also frequently combine several different types of steroids in a process known as stacking. By doing this, users, more properly abusers, believe that the different steroids will interact to produce an effect on muscle size that is greater than the effects of using each drug individually.

Another mode of steroid use is called “pyramiding.” With this method abusers slowly escalate steroid use (increasing the number of drugs used at one time and/or the dose and frequency of one or more steroids), reach a peak amount at mid-cycle and gradually taper the dose toward the end of the cycle. The escalation of steroid abuse can vary with different types of training. Bodybuilders and weight lifters tend to escalate their dose to a much higher level than do long distance runners or swimmers.