Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Can Organic Grass Fed Beef & Dairy Actually Prevent Cancer?

Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.

Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease
A benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies, these essential fats have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and also kept them from spreading.
Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.

CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA, a mere 0.1 percent of total calories, greatly reduced tumor growth. There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Switching from grain-fed to grassfed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category. - Eat Wild 

The British research showed that healthy volunteers who ate grass-fed meat increased their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and decreased their level of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. These changes are linked with a lower risk of a host of disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, and inflammatory disease. Interestingly, volunteers who consumed conventional, grain-fed meat ended up with lower levels of omega-3s and higher levels of omega-6s than they had at the beginning of the study, suggesting that eating conventional meat had been detrimental to their health. - British Journal Of Nutrition 

The meat and dairy products of animals raised on pasture are higher in omega-3s than animals raised in factory farms. The most abundant omega-3 in pastured products is called “alpha-linoleic acid” or ALA.  A study of breast cancer survivors revealed that the women with the most ALA in their tissues---and therefore the most ALA in their diets, were one fourth as likely to have their cancers return as women with the least amount. - British Journal Of Cancer

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for health, but the amount consumed by most Americans increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Omega-6s are most abundant in vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oils. (Olive oil is low in omega- 6 fatty acids.) Few people realize that grain-fed animals are also a major source of omega-6s. Meat and dairy products from animals fed a high-grain diet, which is the typical feedlot diet, have up to ten times more omega-6s than products from animals raised on their natural diet of pasture. - Journal of Lipid Research 

A high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids has been linked with an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, allergies, depression, obesity, and auto-immune disorders. - The Omega Diet

Two new European studies link a diet high in CLA with a lower risk of breast cancer. In Finland, researchers measured CLA levels in the serum of women with and without breast cancer. Those women with the most CLA had a significantly lower risk of the disease. Meanwhile, French researchers measured CLA levels in the breast tissues of 360 women. Once again, the women with the most CLA had the lowest risk of cancer. In fact, the women with the most CLA had a staggering 74% lower risk of breast cancer than the women with the least CLA. 

To see whether the CLA that occurs naturally in cow's milk has similar cancer-fighting properties, researchers recently compared the two. They fed one group of rats butter that was high in CLA and fed another group of rats an equivalent amount of synthetic CLA. As one would expect, the natural CLA proved to be just as effective in blocking tumor growth as the man-made variety. (In both cases, cancer yield was reduced by about 50 percent.) However, the high CLA butter had an added benefit: the rats eating the butter accumulated even more CLA in their tissues than the rats fed an equivalent amount of synthetic CLA. The reason? Researchers believe that the rats were converting another "good" fat found in the butter, trans-vaccenic acid or TVA, into CLA, giving them a second helping of this cancer-fighting fat. - Eat Wild 

There are 16 different types of CLA, each with a slightly different molecular shape. New research reveals that each type of CLA has a different set of benefits. The type of CLA most abundant in meat and dairy products (referred to by chemists as "cis-9, trans-11, CLA") appears to be the champion cancer fighter. Compared with another common type of CLA (trans 10, cis 12, CLA) it was a third more effective in blocking the growth of human cancer cells. (78% versus 58% reduction) - Special Supplement to Inform  

Organic, grass-fed meat that is humanely raised and butchered is really the only type of meat worth eating, if you want to maintain your good health. - Dr. Mercola 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Chemical Of The Week - Sodium Benzoate

Chemical Information:
Sodium Benzoate has the chemical formula NaC6H5CO2; it is a widely used food preservative, with E number E211. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and exists in this form when dissolved in water. It can be produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid. - Wikipedia, Profile of Sodium Benzoate 

Health Effects: 
Sodium Benzoate are often added to milk and meat products, these preservatives are used in many foods, including drinks, low-sugar products, cereals and meats. Both temporarily inhibit the proper functioning of digestive enzymes and cause headaches, stomach upset, asthma attacks and hyperactivity in children. - 

Sodium Benzoate is a known carcinogenic additive which, when eaten or applied to the skin, gets transported to the liver, where it is supposed to be filtered, and expelled in urine, but the damage gets done before that process is completed. Sodium benzoate chokes out your body's nutrients at the DNA cellular level by depriving mitochondria cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down. Just as humans need oxygen to breathe, cells need oxygen to function properly and to fight off infection, including cancer. - Natural News 

Sodium Benzoate is a commonly found preservative in such food and drink products as fruit juice, soft drinks, coffee flavoring syrups, as well as a variety of condiments. Although the FDA has previously classified sodium benzoate as a safe preservative, this classification is now being questioned. It appears that sodium benzoate forms a chemical known as benzene when in the presence of vitamin C. Benzene not only causes damage to DNA, the genetic material, it’s also a known carcinogen and appears to play a role in a variety of diseases due to it’s DNA damaging capabilities. - 

Sodium Benzoate (aka Benzoic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sorbic Acid or Parahydroxy Benzoate) is used as a preservative. Implicated in a wide variety of health problems including testicular cancer, cell mutation, and other cancers. - 

The Vegetable Of The Week - Collard Greens

Vegetable Information:
Collard greens are various loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group), the same species s cabbage and broccoli. The plant is grown for its large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, southern Croatia, Spain and in Pakistan, as well as in Kashmir region of both India and Pakistan. They are classified in the same cultivar group as kale and spring greens, to which they are genetically similar. The name "collard" is a shortened form of the word "colewort" (cabbage plant).
The plant is also called couve in Brazil, couve-galega in Portugal, kovi or kobi in Cape Verde, berza in Spanish-speaking countries, raštika in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and raštan in Montenegro and Serbia. In Kashmir, it is called haak. In Congo, Tanzania and Kenya (East Africa), the plant is called sukuma wiki. - Wikipedia, Collard Green Profile

Collard Greens originated in the eastern Mediterranean, but it wasn't until the first Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in the early 1600s that America got its first taste of the dark green leafy vegetable. Greens were just one of a few select vegetables African-Americans were allowed to grow and harvest for themselves and their families throughout times of slavery, and so over the years cooked greens developed into a traditional food. Even after the Africans were emancipated in the late 1800s, their love of greens continued, and they kept handing down their well developed repertoire of greens recipes from one generation to the next.

Though Collard Greens did not originate in Africa, the habit of eating greens that have been cooked down into a low gravy, and drinking the juices from the greens (known as "pot likker") is of African origin. - History Of Greens

Health Benefits:
We get unique health benefits from collard greens in the form of cancer protection. The cancer-preventive properties of collard greens may be largely related to 4 specific glucosinolates found in this cruciferous vegetable: glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin. Each of these glucosinolates can be converted into an isothiocyanate (ITC) that helps lower our cancer risk by supporting our detox and anti-inflammatory systems.

Caffeic acid, ferulic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol are among the key antioxidant phytonutrients provided by collard greens. This broad spectrum antioxidant support helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells. Chronic oxidative stress, meaning chronic presence over overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules and cumulative damage to our cells by these molecules is a risk factor for development of most cancer types. - Worlds Healthiest Foods

Collard Greens are rich in invaluable sources of phyto-nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer cell growth inhibition and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

Collard Greens are also an excellent source of folates, provides about 166 mcg or 41.5% of RDA. Folates are important in DNA synthesis and when given during peri-conception period can prevent neural tube defects in the baby. - Nutrition & You

The Fruit Of The Week - Grapefruit

Fruit Information:
One ancestor of the grapefruit was the Jamaican sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), itself an ancient hybrid of Asian origin; the other was the Indonesian pomelo (C. maxima). One story of the fruit's origins is that a certain "Captain Shaddock" brought pomelo seeds to Jamaica and bred the first fruit. However, it probably originated as a naturally-occurring hybrid.
The hybrid fruit was documented in 1750 by a Welshman, Rev. Griffith Hughes, who described specimens from Barbados. Currently, the grapefruit is said to be one of the "Seven Wonders of Barbados." It was brought to Florida by Count Odette Philippe in 1823 in what is now known as Safety Harbor. Further crosses have produced the tangelo (1905), the Minneola tangelo (1931), and the oroblanco (1984).
The grapefruit was known as the shaddock or shattuck until the 19th century. Its current name alludes to clusters of the fruit on the tree, which often appear similar to grapes. Botanically, it was not distinguished from the pomelo until the 1830s, when it was given the name Citrus paradisi. Its true origins were not determined until the 1940s. This led to the official name being altered to Citrus × paradisi, the "×" identifying its hybrid origin.
An early pioneer in the American citrus industry was Kimball Chase Atwood, a wealthy entrepreneur who founded the Atwood Grapefruit Co. in the late 19th century. The Atwood Grove became the largest grapefruit grove in the world, with an annual production of 80,000 boxes of fruit. It was there that pink grapefruit was first discovered in 1906. 
The 1929 Ruby Red patent was associated with real commercial success, which came after the discovery of a red grapefruit growing on a pink variety. Only with the introduction of the Ruby Red did the grapefruit transform into a real agricultural success. The Red grapefruit, starting with the Ruby Red, has even become a symbolic fruit of Texas, where white "inferior" grapefruit were eliminated and only red grapefruit were grown for decades. Using radiation to trigger mutations, new varieties were developed to retain the red tones which typically faded to pink, the Rio Red variety is the current (2007) Texas grapefruit with registered trademarks Rio Star and Ruby-Sweet, also sometimes promoted as "Reddest" and "Texas Choice".
The Florida Department of Citrus states "the primary varieties of Florida grapefruit are Ruby Red, Pink, Thompson, Marsh and Duncan. The fresh grapefruit season typically runs from October through June. - Wikipedia, History Of Grapefruit.

Health Benefits:
Influenza: Grapefruit is a valuable remedy for influenza as it helps to minimize acidity from the system. The bitter properties arising from an essence called 'maringin' in grapefruit tones up the system and the digestive swathe.
Malaria: The juice or the fruit itself consists of valuable and natural 'quinine' which are advantageous for the treatment of malaria. The quinine can be easily extracted from the fruits by boiling a quarter of grapefruit and spraining the pulp.
Acidity: The fresh grapefruit juice has alkaline reaction after digestion. The citric acid of the fruit is tarnished in the human body and thus, increases the effect of the alkalinity reaction after digestion. The juice extracted from the grapefruit is beneficial in preventing the acid formation and many other diseases that arise due to the presence of acidity in the body. - Organic Facts

Grapefruits contains high amounts of a flavanoid called naringenin. - Nutrition & You
Naringenin suppress colon carcinogenesis (colon cancer) through the aberrant crypt stage in azoxymethane-treated rats. -  Leonardi T, Vanamala J, Taddeo SS, Davidson LA, Murphy ME, Patil BS, Wang N, Carroll RJ, Chapkin RS,Lupton JR, Turner ND 
Naringenin reduces lung metastasis in a breast cancer resection model .- Qin L, Jin L, Lu L, Lu X, Zhang C, Zhang F, Liang W

The rich pink and red colors of grapefruit are due to lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient. Lycopene appears to have anti-tumor activity. Among the common dietary carotenoids, lycopene has the highest capacity to help fight oxygen free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells and cause cancer.
Choosing to regularly eat lycopene-rich foods, such as pink grapefruit, and drink green tea may greatly reduce a man's risk of developing prostate cancer - Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 

Phytonutrients in grapefruit called limonoids inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of glutathione-S-transferase, a detoxifying enzyme. This enzyme sparks a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water soluble for excretion from the body. Pulp of citrus fruits like grapefruit contain glucarates, compounds that may help prevent breast cancer.
In animal studies and laboratory tests with human cells, limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. - Worlds Healthiest Foods

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Will Monsanto Sue If The Vermont Agricultural Committee Tries To Pass A "Just Label It" Bill For GMOs? (Zombie Food)

Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes.

The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote. Instead, they’re calling for more public hearings on April 12, in the apparent hope that they can run out the clock until the legislative session ends in early May.

What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont’s “right to know” bill? They lost their nerve and abandoned their principles after Monsanto representative recently threatened a public official that the biotech giant would sue Vermont if they dared to pass the bill. Several legislators have rather unconvincingly argued that the Vermont public has a “low appetite” for any bills, even very popular bills like this one, that might end up in court. Others expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to “go it alone” against Monsanto in court. What it really comes down to this: Elected officials are abandoning the public interest and public will in the face of corporate intimidation.

Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones. When Vermont became the first state in the nation in 1994 to require mandatory labels on milk and dairy products derived from cows injected with the controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, Monsanto’s minions sued in Federal Court and won on a judge’s decision that dairy corporations have the first amendment “right” to remain silent on whether or not they are injecting their cows with rBGH - even though rBGH has been linked to severe health damage in cows and increased cancer risk for humans, and is banned in much of the industrialized world, including Europe and Canada.

Monsanto wields tremendous influence in Washington, DC and most state capitals. The company’s stranglehold over politicians and regulatory officials is what has prompted activists in California to bypass the legislature and collect 850,000 signatures to place a citizens’ Initiative on the ballot in November 2012. The 2012 California Right to Know Act will force mandatory labeling of GMOs and to ban the routine practice of labeling GMO-tainted food as “natural.” All of Monsanto’s fear mongering and intimidation tactics were blatantly on display in the House Agriculture Committee hearings March 15-16.

During the hearings the Vermont legislature was deluged with calls, letters, and e-mails urging passage of a GMO labeling bill - more than on any other bill since the fight over Civil Unions in 1999-2000. The legislature heard from pro-labeling witnesses such as Dr. Michael Hansen, an expert on genetic engineering from the Consumers Union, who shredded industry claims that GMO’s are safe and that consumers don’t need to know if their food is contaminated with them. 

On the other side of the fence, Monsanto’s lobbyist and Vermont mouthpiece, Margaret Laggis employed inaccurate, unsubstantiated, fear-mongering claims to make Monsanto’s case. She warned during the hearings that if this law were passed, there would not be enough corn, canola, and soybean seed for Vermont farmers to plant.

Laggis lied when she said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had done exhaustive feeding tests on genetically modified foods. Hansen corrected her, testifying that all of the GMO feeding tests submitted to the FDA were conducted by Monsanto and other GMO corporations and that the FDA had not done any GMO testing of its own.

Laggis lied again when she claimed that a recent Canadian study showing that more than 90% pregnant women had high levels of a genetically modified bacterial pesticide in their blood resulted from them “eating too much organic food” during pregnancy. Again, Hansen refuted this nonsense by pointing out that the Bacillus thuingensis (Bt) bacterium spray used by organic growers is chemically and materially different from the GMO Bt bacterium which showed up in the pregnant women’s blood and the umbilical cords of their fetuses. Hanson pointed that the high levels of Monsanto’s mutant Bt in the women’s blood was due to the widespread cultivation of GMO corn, cotton, soy, and canola.

The committee heard testimony that European Union studies have been conducted which showed that even short-term feeding studies of GMO crops caused 43.5% of male test animals to suffer kidney abnormalities, and 30.8% of female test animals to suffer liver abnormalities. Studies also have shown that the intestinal lining of animals fed GMO food was thickened compared to the control animals. All of these short-term results could become chronic, and thus precursors to cancer.

Studies like these have prompted 50 nations around the world to pass laws requiring mandatory labels on GMO right foods. In the end, none of the scientific testimony mattered. Monsanto operatives simply reverted to their usual tactics: They openly threatened to sue the state.

Unfortunately in the US, industry and the government continue to side with Monsanto rather than the 90% of consumers who support labeling. Monsanto’s biotech bullying is a classic example of how the 1% control the rest of us, even in Vermont, generally acknowledged as the most progressive state in the nation.

Vermont activists are organizing a protest at the state capital on April 12 to coincide with the next round of hearings on H-722, and are asking residents to write letters, make calls, and e-mail their legislators and the Governor. - Will Allen 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Fruit Of The Week - Grapes

Fruit History: 
The cultivation of the domesticated grape began 6,000-8,000 years ago in the Near East.Yeast is one of the earliest domesticated microorganisms, occurs naturally on the skins of grapes, leading to the innovation of alcoholic drinks such as wine. First traces of red wine are seen in ancient Armenia where apparently, to date, the oldest winery was found, dating to around 4,000 BCE. By the 9th century CE the city of Shiraz was known to produce some of the finest wines in the Middle East. Thus it has been proposed that Syrah red wine is named after Shiraz, a city in Persia where the grape was used to make Shirazi wine. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics record the cultivation of purple grapes, and history attests to the ancient Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans growing purple grapes for both eating and wine production. The growing of grapes would later spread to other regions in Europe, as well as North Africa, and eventually in North America. -  Historical Origins and Genetic Diversity of Wine Grapes

Health Benefits: 
Resveratrol in Grapes reduces stroke risk by altering the molecular mechanisms in the blood vessels. It does so firstly by reducing susceptibility of blood vessels damage through decreased activity of angiotensin (a systemic hormone causing blood vessel constriction that would otherwise elevate blood pressure) and secondly, through increased production of the vasodilator substance, nitric oxide (a beneficial compound that causes relaxation of blood vessels). - Nutrition & You

Through a latest study, it has been discovered that purple colored Concord grape juice helps in preventing breast cancer. Significant reduction in mammary tumor mass of laboratory rats was seen after they were fed the grape juice on the experimental basis. - Organic Facts

An injury to the artery wall begins the process of plaque build-up by forming an obstruction in the blood stream. When the artery wall is attacked by free radicals (oxidized), LDL (also known as bad cholesterol) becomes irritating to the artery wall and can actually wound it.
Catechin in grapes, with its antioxidant effect, fights these free radicals that encourage arterial buildup. On top of that, catechin has more functions, for example, stopping the platelets from forming clots, lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and reducing stress, all of which ensure your heart and cardiovascular system stay healthy. - Health Hokkaido 

The Vegetable Of The Week - Cauliflower

Vegetable History:
The first reliable reference to cauliflower is found in the writings of the Arab Muslim scientists Ibn al-'Awwam and Ibn al-Baitar, which date from the 12th and 13th centuries. - Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition

François Pierre La Varenne employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier françois. They had been introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres' Théâtre de l'agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori "as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy", but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of Louis XIV. - History Of Food

Health Benefits:
Cauliflower contains a phytochemical called Sulforaphane. 

Scientists at the University of East Anglia said in 2010 that initial laboratory tests find sulforaphane blocks the enzymes linked to the joint destruction in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The scientists are undertaking a research project to see if the compound found in broccoli could slow or prevent osteoarthritis development. - Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Research details published in the Molecular Nutrition & Food Research journal explains the potent mechanism exhibited by cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower to ameliorate (attack) developing cancer cells. The active photochemical known as sulforaphane targets prostate and other hormone dependent cancer lines and leaves normal healthy cells unaffected - Natural News

Recent studies have shown that a chemical called Sulforaphane is responsible for triggering proteins in the body that prevent furring of arteries. - Will Apse

A review in the October 2008 issue of "Cancer Letters" notes that several studies have demonstrated that eating cruciferous vegetables (containing sulforaphane) lowers the risk of developing certain cancers, particularly colon and prostate cancer. - Live Strong

Monday, April 2, 2012

Has "Pink Slime" Backlash Caused A Top Meat Processor To Go Bankrupt?

A Pennsylvania-based meat processor filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, saying a national controversy over a common filler for ground beef severely curbed consumer demand for its products.

AFA Foods Inc. has become the latest casualty of the beef additive known as " pink slime" as supermarkets across the country phase out the product in the face of consumer complaints. AFA said ground beef demand has dropped sharply in recent weeks, curbing a rebound in sales the company had been counting on. The company produces ground beef, buying the filler known as finely textured beef and grinding it into its products.

The controversy has "dramatically reduced the demand for all ground-beef products," AFA said in documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. Several major supermarkets announced last month they would no longer offer products with the additive. Also, the government gave schools the option of refusing ground beef that included the additive for school lunches.

Falling demand for the additive caused Beef Products Inc., a key maker of the product, to shut down three of its four plants last week. Cargill Inc., the other dominant producer of finely textured beef, has significantly cut back its production, a spokesman said. Industry officials and governors in states where the filler is produced said finely textured beef is being unfairly maligned. The additive has been used for two decades and declared safe by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Still, Phil Lempert, a food industry consultant and editor of, said "the fight is over" and that the next step for the beef industry is experimentation with other types of filler. Consumers aren't going to accept the product given all the publicity about "pink slime," he added.

"From a PR standpoint, they waited too long," Lempert said.

AFA Foods said it will have to suspend operations at its California facility beginning this week. It has secured $56 million in bankruptcy financing, which it said will allow it to continue the rest of its operations during its Chapter 11 case.

The company had struggled to return to profitability, it said, but had negotiated a debt extension that it said it believed would carry the company through the winter until sales of its products picked up in the spring, when outdoor-grilling season begins. That plan faltered as the "pink slime" controversy erupted, the company said in the bankruptcy court filing. AFA Investments Inc., the parent company of AFA Foods, claimed $219.6 million in assets and $197.3 million in liabilities as of February 2012 and said it had revenue of $958 million in 2011. - Ian Berry, Stephanie Gleason 

Have Scientist Proved If Pesticides Are Causing Harm To Honeybees?

Scientists have discovered ways in which even low doses of widely used pesticides can harm bumblebees and honeybees, interfering with their homing abilities and making them lose their way.

In two studies published in the journal Science, British and French researchers looked at bees and neonicotinoid insecticides, a class introduced in the 1990s now among the most commonly used crop pesticides in the world.

In recent years, bee populations have been dropping rapidly, partly due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists also fear pesticides are destroying bee populations, but it is not clear how they are causing damage. Dave Goulson of Stirling University in Scotland, who led the British study, said some bumblebee species have declined hugely.

"In North America, several bumblebee species which used to be common have more or less disappeared from the entire continent," while in Britain, three species have become extinct, he said in a statement. 

The threat to bee populations also extends to Asia, South America and the Middle East, experts say. Bees are important pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruit and vegetable crops. A 2011 United Nations report estimated that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, beetles or birds do work worth 153 billion euros ($203 billion) a year to the human economy. 

In the first of the Science studies, a University of Stirling team exposed developing colonies of bumblebees to low levels of a neonicotinoid called imidacloprid, and then placed the colonies in an enclosed field site where the bees could fly around collecting pollen under natural conditions for six weeks.

At the beginning and end of the experiment, the researchers weighed each of the bumblebee nests - which included the bees, wax, honey, bee grubs and pollen - to see how much the colony had grown. Compared to control colonies not exposed to imidacloprid, the researchers found the treated colonies gained less weight, suggesting less food was coming in.

The treated colonies were on average eight to 12 percent smaller than the control colonies at the end of the experiment, and also produced about 85 percent fewer queens - a finding that is key because queens produce the next generation of bees.

In the separate study, a team led by Mickael Henry of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Avignon tagged free-ranging honeybees with tiny radio-frequency identification microchips glued to each bee's back. This allowed them to track the bees as they came and went from hives.

The researchers gave some of the bees a low dose of the neonicotinoid pesticide thiamethoxam which they knew would not kill them and compared them to a control group of bees that was not exposed to the pesticide.

The treated bees were about two to three times more likely to die while away from their nests, and the researchers said this was probably because the pesticide interfered with the bees' homing systems, so they couldn't find their way home. Henry said the findings raised important issues about pesticide authorization procedures.

"So far, they (the procedures) mostly require manufacturers to ensure that doses encountered on the field do not kill bees, but they basically ignore the consequences of doses that do not kill them but may cause behavioral difficulties," he said in a statement. - Reuters

Can Organic Farmers & Seed Dealers Win An Appeal Against Monsanto In Federal Court?

A group of U.S. family farmers said on Wednesday it is appealing its lawsuit against Monsanto Co. to challenge the company's patents on technologies for genetically modified seeds. The group of organic farmers and seed dealers says its industry is at risk from Monsanto's growing market dominance.

"Farmers are under threat. Our right to farm the way we choose, and to grow pure organic seed and healthy food on our farms for our families and for our customers is under assault," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, lead plaintiff in the case.

The group sued Monsanto in March 2011. U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald, for the Southern District of New York, threw out the case last month, criticizing the groups for a "transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists." The group of more than 50 organizations filed its notice of appeal on Wednesday, seeking review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The lawsuit challenges the company's patents on its genetically modified seeds and seeks to prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto's patented biotech seed germplasm. Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and a leader in development and marketing of genetically altered soybeans, corn and other crops.

The company has developed a reputation for zealously defending patents on its genetically altered crops, which include patented "Roundup Ready" soybeans, corn and cotton. The crops are favorites of U.S. farmers because of their ability to withstand herbicide treatments. Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required royalties.

Many farmers have said their fields were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto's biotech seeds without their knowledge. The issue has been a topic of concern for not only farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed. The court ruling said there was no likelihood that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement cases against the organic farmers, who have no interest in using the company's patented seed products. - Carey Gillam 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is The FDA Behind The Ball On Banning BPA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that they would not ban the use of a controversial chemical used in food packaging, various media outlets have reported.

According to Bloomberg‘s Jack Kaskey, the FDA rejected a request from environmental advocates seeking the agency to prohibit the use of bisphenol A, also known as BPA, in cans and other forms of packaging. In their ruling, the FDA determined that opponents of BPA, which has been used in epoxy linings for the past 50 years to keep canned foods and beverages fresh longer, “didn’t provide enough data to support a rule change,” he added.

“The information provided in your petition was not sufficient to persuade FDA, at this time, to initiate rulemaking to prohibit the use of BPA in human food and food packaging,” Acting Associate FDA Commissioner David H. Horsey wrote in a letter to, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the New York-based advocacy group that filed the lawsuit in 2008, according to Kaskey.

At least trace amounts of BPA, which Bloomberg said is created by combining phenol and acetone, are present in the systems of a reported 90% of all US citizens. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that the substance could have a negative impact on the brains and prostates of fetuses and young children, and Kaskey added that some scientists believe that BPA can cause adverse effects on the reproductive and nervous systems, especially in infants and small children.
“Scientists are still working to determine what effects BPA, which mimics estrogen in the body, has on human health once ingested,” added Bettina Boxall and Eryn Brown of the Los Angeles Times. “They know that… it has been shown to have negative effects in mice, including developmental and reproductive abnormalities, precancerous changes in the prostate and breasts, and other health problems. In epidemiological studies, researchers have reported correlations between BPA levels in people and higher risk of ailments including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and liver problems.”

Despite rejecting the NRDC’s petition, Boxall and Brown report that they have not completely ruled out regulating the substance in the near future. FDA spokesman Douglas Karas told the Times that the verdict was “not a final safety determination on BPA… There is a commitment to doing a thorough evaluation of the risk of BPA.”

The Associated Press (AP) said that despite the findings regarding BPA in animals, they cannot necessarily be applied to humans, and that research provided by the NRDC were “too small to be conclusive.”

“The FDA is out-of-step with scientific and medical research,” Dr. Sarah Janssen, the NRDC’s senior scientist for public health, told the AP. “This illustrates the need for a major overhaul of how the government protects us against dangerous chemicals.” - Red Orbit 

Can Junk Food Cause Depression?

A new study shows that junk food may have effects beyond expanding your waistline and upping your sodium levels -- it might also be sabotaging your mental health.

A new study in the journal Public Health Nutrition shows that regularly eating commercial baked goods -- including doughnuts and croissants -- as well as fast food -- pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs -- is linked with an increased depression risk.

Researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada found that the people who regularly eat these foods are also more likely to be more sedentary, smoke, eat other not-so-nutritious foods and work 45 or more hours a week.

"Although more studies are necessary, the intake of this type of food should be controlled because of its implications on both health (obesity, cardiovascular diseases) and mental well-being," study researcher Almudena Sánchez-Villegas said in a statement.

The study included 8,964 people who didn't have depression (and weren't taking any antidepressant drugs) at the start of the study. Their depression statuses and diets were tracked for an average of six months. At the end of the study period, 493 people were depressed or were taking antidepressants. The researchers found that the ones who ate the most junk food were 51 percent more likely to develop depression, compared with people who ate the least of these foods.

The Mayo Clinic reported on a previous study also showing a similar link. That study showed that people whose diets are high in fried foods, processed meats, desserts and high-fat dairy had an increased risk of depression symptoms, compared with people who eat lots of fruits, veggies and fish. And earlier this year, a study in the journal PLoS ONE showed that there may be a link between eating trans fats common in a lot of junk foods and being irritable and aggressive.

The researchers of that study, from the University of California, San Diego, found that greater trans fats intake seemed to predict whether a person was more aggressive. The finding held true even after taking into account factors like sex, age and ethnicity. - Amanda L. Chan