Category : Family Health

Home/Archive by Category" Family Health" (Page 9)

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.

Curb Carb Cravings to Reduce Health Risks

By Julian Whitaker MD

Do you get intense carbohydrate cravings? Are there times when you just have to have a snack or can’t resist a cookie? These cravings are not just a road to an expanding waistline – they are also a warning sign. Carbohydrate cravings are often associated with insulin resistance, which in turn is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

In individuals who have insulin resistance, the beta cells in the pancreas make plenty of insulin – the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the cells – but the cells are unresponsive to insulin’s actions, leading to a rise in blood sugar. The pancreas responds by churning out more insulin, but it may overshoot the mark, driving blood sugar too low and creating an immediate demand for more glucose. This often manifests as carbohydrate cravings.

Unfortunately, when you heed the call, a vicious cycle is set into motion. More glucose demands more insulin, and over time, your body’s blood sugar-regulating mechanisms cannot keep up and signs of insulin resistance become more prominent.

Part of the problem is that chronically elevated levels of insulin, which are characteristic of insulin resistance, promote weight gain. That’s because insulin is the body’s primary fat-storage hormone – it ushers fat as well as glucose into the cells. So the higher your insulin level, the greater your potential weight gain.

To make matters worse, obesity throws fuel on the fire. Adipose tissue (fat), especially in the abdominal area, releases fatty acids that impair beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity, as well as immune cells that lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, increases insulin resistance and risk of diabetes.

The answer to the problem is to interrupt this insidious cycle as early as possible. Start with your diet. Sweets, potatoes, bread, pasta, and most everything made with sugar or refined grains – think white foods – have a high glycemic index and load. This means they rapidly drive up blood glucose but may be followed a couple of hours later by reactive hypoglycemia, a compensatory blood sugar dive that makes you tired, sluggish, and so hungry you feel like you could eat anything in sight.

To avoid this very common phenomenon, eat more fiber-rich vegetables and beans and include some protein with every meal. These foods are not only bulky, filling, and lower in calories, but because they cause a gradual rise in blood sugar, they’ll keep you going longer and are less apt to stimulate food cravings.

There are also some interesting supplements that can help control cravings. One of them is saffron, a bright yellow culinary spice that has been used in traditional medicine to tame inflammation and ease digestive woes. Saffron helps raise levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood, influences hunger and satiety, and helps put the brakes on food cravings – especially for carbohydrates. This makes saffron a real boon for people trying to lose weight.

Look for saffron supplements in your health food store. You can also purchase my Saffron Snack Stopper by visiting www.drwhitaker.com or by calling 800-722-8008. Aim for the study dosage of 90 mg twice a day with meals. Note: It can take up to four weeks to see results, so be patient.

Another supplement for carb cravings is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). A direct precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP boosts levels of this important neurotransmitter and helps curb carb cravings. This supplement is particularly helpful for people with hormonal imbalances and those eating low-calorie diets, particularly low-protein diets, which may not provide enough of the amino acids required for serotonin production. The suggested dose is 50 to 100 mg, taken between meals. Do not take 5-HTP if you are on an SSRI antidepressant.

The most important tool for reversing insulin resistance (and potential diabetes) is weight loss, and reducing cravings is an important step toward that end. So stock up on fiber-rich foods, eat protein at every meal, and try supplemental saffron and 5-HTP, and you just may be able to keep carbohydrate binges at bay.

About Dr. Whitaker. Dr. Whitaker is Director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute and Editor of Health and Healing newsletter that provides important health advice for more than 500,000 people nationwide. Dr. Whitaker graduated from Dartmouth College in 1966 and received his MD in 1970 from Emory University Medical School. He completed his surgical internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in 1971, and continued at the University of California in San Francisco in orthopedic surgery. In 1974, Dr. Whitaker founded the California Orthomolecular Medical Society, along with four other physicians and the Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Linus Pauling. Dr. Whitaker is the author of several books including the best-selling Shed 10 Years in 10 Weeks.

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

You Did It!!!!!

Citizens for Health supporters made grassroots history last week by joining forces to amass over 12,000 “Withdraw the NDI Petition” signatures in 10 days! Here is a Thank You video tweaked by Australian truth rapper-activist, Jody Lloyd (aka “Trillion”):

Since over 12,000 of you made a commitment to health freedom and Citizens for Health (CFH) by signing your name to this critical petition to stop this FDA over-reach (!!!), we at CFH (Jim Turner and James Gormley) honored that commitment this past Friday by meeting with top aides from 11 key U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate offices, where we dropped off the petition along with the 12,686 signatures from all of you!

While we received the warmest reception at the offices of Congressman Darrell Issa (CA) and Congressman Ron Paul MD (TX) — thank you Congressmen and your aides! — we look forward to working with a number of Congressional movers-and-shakers to push for a withdrawal of this misguided Guidance.

We at CFH have been calling for the withdrawal of this Guidance since September 13th, and we are pleased that the health-food industry associations are now calling for the Guidance withdrawal as well.

With signatures now approaching 15,000 even though the official comment period is over, we are going to continue to collect petition signatures and pass them along (in batches) to Congress and the FDA.

In the days ahead, we will be following up with the 11 legislators whose offices we visited in order to ask for their support in calling on the FDA to withdraw the Guidance and to hold a public hearing if it is not immediately withdrawn.

You can rest assured that your having made history with this petition will not be forgotten, and we use the power of your signatures, and your commitment, to achieve continued consumer health-freedom victories!

10,000 Signatures in 10 Days; We Can Do It!

By James J. Gormley

With Citizens for Health supporters already having generated over 11,000 letters to Congress demanding that the FDA’s NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) Draft Guidance be withdrawn, the organization is now on a mission to collect 10,000 petition signatures in 10 days calling for Congress to withhold FDA appropriations until this unaccountable agency is held to account: by adjuring the FDA to withdraw the supplement-killing NDI Guidance and to cease and desist from reviewing and enforcing against dietary supplements and nutritional ingredients according to its willfully adversarial re-interpretation of the laws governing dietary supplements.

To help us in this effort, Australian truth rapper and activist Jody Lloyd, aka Trillion, has re-mastered CFH’s “10,000 Signatures” video to make our call-to-arms that much more impactful!

Please sign the petition today and send out the link (and video!) to all of your contacts, friends and family, work colleagues, in short, everyone in your personal universe who cares about their rights to high-quality, innovative dietary supplements!

Petition Demanding that the FDA Withdraws the NDI Draft Guidance!!

We call on Congress to demand that the FDA summarily withdraws the NDI Draft Guidance and goes on the record stating that the agency will not, now or ever, review, consider, surveil or engage in enforcement activities according to the re-interpretation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) evident in its Guidance document but, instead, will honor the law that the American people gave to the FDA (via Congress) to uphold via regulation according to both the spirit, letter, and plain and intended meaning of DSHEA.

That’s why we created a petition to The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate and President Barack Obama, which says:

“I hereby join with Citizens for Health (CFH) and its over 100,000 citizen supporters in calling on Congress to withhold funding appropriations for the FDA until the agency summarily withdraws its NDI Draft Guidance and goes on the record stating that the agency will not, now or ever, review, consider, surveil or engage in enforcement activities according to the re-interpretation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) evident in the NDI Draft Guidance, but, instead, will honor the law that the American people gave to that agency to uphold via regulation according to both the spirit and letter of DSHEA.”

Will you sign this petition? Click below:

Sign the petition now!

Thanks!