Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Chemical Additive Of The Week - Phosphoric Acid

Health Effects: 
Phosphoric acid, used in many soft drinks (primarily cola), has been linked to lower bone density in epidemiological studies. For example, a study using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry rather than a questionnaire about breakage, provides reasonable evidence to support the theory that drinking cola results in lower bone density. This study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A total of 1672 women and 1148 men were studied between 1996 and 2001. Dietary information was collected using a food frequency questionnaire that had specific questions about the number of servings of cola and other carbonated beverages and that also made a differentiation between regular, caffeine-free, and diet drinks. The paper cites significant statistical evidence to show that women who consume cola daily have lower bone density. Total phosphorus intake was not significantly higher in daily cola consumers than in nonconsumers; however, the calcium-to-phosphorus ratios were lower. - The Framingham Osteoporosis Study

In a study published in the journal Epidemiology, the team compared the dietary habits of 465 people with chronic kidney disease and 467 healthy people. After controlling for various factors, the team found that drinking two or more colas a day whether artificially sweetened or regular was linked to a twofold risk of chronic kidney disease. - Anahad O’Connor

Researchers at the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois propose that carbonated beverages may also contribute to the loss of enamel, the hard outermost layer of your teeth. The study, published in 2007 in "General Dentistry," found that cola products containing phosphoric acid elicited an average enamel loss of 3.65 percent. Diet colas, which tend to be less acidic than regular colas, produced a lesser degree of erosion. The percent of erosion was proportional to the length of exposure to the beverage. - Live Strong 

Soft drink consumption in children poses a significant risk factor for impaired calcification of growing bones. - Natural News 

Phosphorus is meant to exist in the body in a 1:1 ratio with calcium. However, large amounts of phosphorus in sodas, specifically colas, throw off the balance in the body, making the ratio 2:1, even 5:1. When these large amounts of acid enter the body, it is quickly goes into the blood stream, lowering the blood’s pH level. The body immediately works to fight this imbalance and may extract minerals from the bones to restore the phosphorus-calcium balance. - Elson M. Haas 

The Fruit Of The Week - Dates

Dates have been a staple food of the Middle East for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated around the Persian Gulf, and have been cultivated since ancient times from Mesopotamia to prehistoric Egypt, possibly as early as 4000 BCE. The Ancient Egyptians used the fruits to be made into date wine, and ate them at harvest. 

There is archaeological evidence of date cultivation in eastern Arabia in 6000 BCE. (Alvarez-Mon 2006). In later times, traders spread dates around South and South West Asia, northern Africa, and Spain and Italy. Dates were introduced into Mexico and California by the Spaniards by 1765, around Mission San Ignacio. - History Of Dates 

Health Benefits:
The nicotinic content that is present in the Dates is said to be beneficial for curing any kinds of intestinal disorders. Continuous intake of dates helps to maintain a check on the growth of the pathological organisms and thus, helps in the rise of friendly bacteria in the intestines. - Organic Facts 

Dates are one of the best natural sources of potassium. Potassium is an essential mineral your body needs to maintain muscle contractions including the vital heart muscle. Potassium is needed to maintain a healthy nervous system and to balance the body’s metabolism as well. - Family Nutrition 

Dates are an excellent source of iron, contains 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. - Nutrition & You 

Sexual stamina is another one of dates health benefits. Some dried fruit soaked overnight in goat’s milk to which honey and cardamom are then added, makes for a great tasting drink that enhances performance for people with weak sexual stamina. - Fruit Health Benefits 

The Vegetable Of The Week - Carrots

The wild ancestors of the carrot are likely to have come from Iran and Afghanistan, which remains the centre of diversity of D. carota, the wild carrot. Selective breeding over the centuries of a naturally occurring subspecies of the wild carrot, Daucus carota subsp. sativus, to reduce bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core, has produced the familiar garden vegetable. - The Wildflower Key 

In early use, carrots were grown for their aromatic leaves and seeds, not their roots. Some relatives of the carrot are still grown for these, such as parsley, fennel, dill and cumin. The first mention of the root in classical sources is in the 1st century. The modern carrot appears to have been introduced to Europe in the 8–10th centuries. The 12th century Arab Andalusian agriculturist, Ibn al-'Awwam, describes both red and yellow carrots; Simeon Seth also mentions both colours in the 11th century. Orange-coloured carrots appeared in the Netherlands in the 17th century. - A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece 

Health Benefits: 
Falcarinol is a phytochemical that protects carrots from different types of fungal diseases. - Carrot Museum 

Falcarinol is thought to reduce the risk of developing cancer, as a research team from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and Danish Universities found in February 2005 in a study on rats. Research by the scientists showed that laboratory rats fed on a diet containing raw carrots or on isolated falcarinol were a third less likely to develop full-scale tumours than those in a control group. - Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Carrots are exceptionally rich source of carotenes and vitamin-A. 100 g fresh carrot contains 8285 mcg of Beta-Carotene and 16706 IU of Vitamin A. - Nutrition & You 

Adequate levels of Vitamin A are required for fertility and reproduction to occur. After conception, vitamin A regulates the timing for embryonic cells to mature, becoming specialized organ cells.- Marni Wolfe 

Beta-carotene consumption has been linked to reduced risk of several cancers, notably lung cancer. British researchers discovered that increasing beta-carotene consumption from 1.7 to 2.7 milligrams a day reduced lung cancer risk more than 40 percent. The average carrot contains about three milligrams of Beta-carotene. - Organic Facts

How GMOs (Zombie Food) Are Made

The general principle of producing a GMO is to add new genetic material into an organism's genome. This is called genetic engineering and was made possible through the discovery of DNA and the creation of the first recombinant bacteria in 1973; an existing bacterium E. coli expressing an exogenic Salmonella gene. This led to concerns in the scientific community about potential risks from genetic engineering, which were first discussed in depth at the Asilomar Conference in 1975. One of the main recommendations from this meeting was that government oversight of recombinant DNA research should be established until the technology was deemed safe. Herbert Boyer then founded the first company to use recombinant DNA technology, Genentech, and in 1978 the company announced creation of an E. coli strain producing the human protein insulin. 

In 1986, field tests of bacteria genetically engineered to protect plants from frost damage (ice-minus bacteria) at a small biotechnology company called Advanced Genetic Sciences of Oakland, California, were repeatedly delayed by opponents of biotechnology. In the same year, a proposed field test of a microbe genetically engineered for a pest resistance protein by Monsanto Company was dropped.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, guidance on assessing the safety of genetically engineered plants and food emerged from organizations including the FAO and WHO. Small-scale experimental plantings of genetically modified (GM) plants began in Canada and the U.S. in the late 1980s. The first approvals for large-scale, commercial cultivation came in the mid 1990s. Since that time, adoption of GM plants by farmers has increased annually. - History Of GMOs 
Creation Process:
To make a genetically modified organism, three main components are required: the gene you want to transfer, the organism you want to put it into (target species), and a vector to carry the gene into the target species cells. The steps in making a GMO are relatively straightforward, but can be technically challenging. The gene to be transfered (trans-gene) must be cut out and isolated from the original organism. This is usually done by restriction enzymes, which are like molecular scissors, that recognize specific sequences in the DNA and cut it at those places. 

A restriction endonuclease is an enzyme that cuts strands of DNA at a specific point. It scans the DNA for a specific target sequence, and when it finds that target sequence it cleaves the DNA. Target sequences are relatively short. For instance, the common restriction enzyme EcoR1 only has a 6 basepair target sequence. To date, thousands of restriction endonucleases (RE) have been isolated, mostly from bacteria. Bacteria use these enzymes as a defense mechanism because the can recognize and cleave foreign (virus) DNA.
Restriction endonucleases can cut double-stranded DNA in a few different ways. Sometimes it cuts both strands at the same position, which causes blunt ends. Other times it cuts each strand at a different point causing overhangs to occur. An overhang means that one strand is longer than the other, and sometimes people refer to this as having sticky ends. See the diagrams below for examples of blunt and sticky ends. 

The trans-gene is then inserted into a vector that is capable of getting inside cells of the target species. To do this a scientist removes the portions of the virus’ genome that cause harm, but leave the genes responsible for getting into the host cells. Then the target gene is inserted into the host cells. Once in the host cell the genes will insert into the host’s genome. After this, every time the genome is replicated and new cells are made the trans-gene will also be found the the DNA of each new cell. - Hudson Alpha Institute Of Biotechnology 

New Efforts To Label GMOs (Zombie Food) At A Federal Level

Critics of genetically modified crops are making new demands for government mandated labeling to identify foods on grocer shelves that contain ingredients from transgenic corn, soybeans and other crops.

Labeling drives are underway on both state and federal levels, and on Tuesday several U.S. consumer groups released a survey and results of a petition drive that they say shows overwhelming consumer support for labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMO).

"People believe they have a right to know what goes into their bodies," said Mark Mellman, a public opinion pollster and consultant.

The Mellman Group survey released Tuesday said based on a polling of 1,000 voters last month, about 91 percent support labeling of GMO foods while 5 percent oppose such a move. Support was nearly equal among Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

The survey was commissioned by a group called "Just Label It" that includes organic farming groups, along with representatives from the medical and retail industries and some faith-based groups. Similar surveys issued recently have also shown widespread support for labeling as consumers express increasing concern about overall food safety. The Just Label It group, which filed its petition with the Food & Drug Administration on October 12, 2011, claims to have more than 1 million signers.

Tuesday marks the end of the 180-day comment period that precedes a formal FDA response. Petitioners say that the petition process allows them to pursue "judicial review" if FDA fails to act. 
"Should it be denied the next step we would consider would be litigation," said environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell who wrote the petition.

"The GMO issue is finally getting traction in the U.S., in the form of an overwhelming preference for labeling among consumers across the political spectrum," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit public health and environment advocacy organization.

FDA declined to discuss the labeling petition, saying that it would respond directly to the petitioner. But a spokeswoman did say that FDA's position on labeling of genetically modified foods is rooted in the premise that there is no "material difference" in foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops and foods made from conventional crops.

"Companies are welcome to label their products on a voluntary basis as long as it's truthful and not misleading, and it doesn't imply that it's somehow better than the conventional counterpart," said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.

Alongside the national push, the GMO labeling debate is also active in California, where a grassroots coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations has submitted what it calls the "California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act" to the state Attorney General.

Backers of the measure must obtain more than 500,000 signatures by April 22 to get it on the November ballot. They say that in addition to giving consumers information about what they are eating, labeling would also allow health professionals to track potential adverse health impacts of GMO foods.

The question of safety is separate, though related, from the issue of labeling, according to Mellman. "Calories aren't unsafe... but people want to know what they're ingesting," he said.

A recent study by the Grocery Manufacturers Association said about 80 percent of packaged foods contain genetically engineered ingredients. Leading biotech crop developer Monsanto Co. and other agricultural biotech seed companies are opposed to labeling, saying it misleads consumers and there is no safety concern with GMOs.

As well, opponents of labeling say mandatory labeling would be costly, increasing food prices for consumers, cost taxpayers for enforcement, and trigger costly litigation. More than 40 countries have some requirements for labeling of genetically engineered foods, with Europe a prominent leader in mistrust of genetic alterations to crops. - Carey Gillam 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Council for Biotechnology Information Children's Book "Look Closer at Biotechnology"

In response to mounting public backlash from the older generation, the biotechnology industry has launched a new propaganda campaign aimed at convincing children that genetically-modified (GM) crops are not only safe, but also an improvement over natural agriculture. Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and five other major biotechnology companies and associations have collectively released the Biotechnology Basics Activity Book, a colourful guide designed to “Re-Educate” children into the false dogma of biotechnology.

The 16-page guide -- which includes word scrambles, fill-in-the-blank puzzles, and matching games -- contains an introductory paragraph that claims biotechnology boosts crop yields, improves environmental conditions, and leads to more nutritious food. Throughout the book, children are told that biotechnology is changing the world for the better, which is a complete contradiction to all available independent science. And yet this guide is reportedly slated for inclusion in some school curriculum.

"This is an activity book for young people like you about biotechnology -- a really neat topic," says the first page of the book. "Why is it such a neat topic? Because biotechnology is helping to improve the health of the Earth and the people who call it home." 

The guide was produced by a group known as the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI), a pro-GMO coalition of the world's largest biotechnology companies and organizations. CBI routinely ignores independent science that shows GMOs and their growing chemicals to be dangerous, and continues to purvey the lie that GMO technologies are not only safe, but that they are superior to conventional and organic growing methods. Independent science has proven GMOs are a human, environmental health hazard
GM crop systems are inherently unsustainable in every way, as they require massive amounts of chemical inputs in order to grow. They have also been shown in numerous scientific studies to cause organ damage, digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases, reproductive problems, and various other conditions. Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, the active ingredient of which is the weedkiller glyphosate, was recently exposed as a destroyer of testosterone and male fertility.

Not only is Roundup responsible for spurring the massive "superweed" epidemic that now plagues millions of acres of American cropland, but the chemical concoction was also recently shown to trigger dozens of plant diseases. Even when diluted by 99.8 percent, the Roundup formula is still toxic to human DNA, having been shown in a recent Archives of Toxicology study to have definitive cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties.

Environmentally, Roundup is highly persistent, and has been found in air, rainwater, and rivers all across the U.S., and particularly in the "bread belt" of the Midwest. As far as GMOs themselves, there have been countless studies and reviews that have revealed serious problems with the way they are digested. A 2004 study published in Nature Biotechnology found that the genetic code of GM soy can actually alter the genetic code of gut microbiota when consumed, which can cause long-term digestive problems.

None of these facts are published in the Biotechnology Basics Activity Book, of course, which makes quite the opposite claims without even a shred of proof to back them. But since young children are the book's target audience, the biotechnology liars behind its publishing apparently hope that colourful pictures and fun word games will be enough to sway the opinion of the next generation. - Natural News 
You can view the entire activity book for yourself at: Whybiotech.com

Will The FDA Revise Drug Laws For Livestock?

In 1977, the Food and Drug Administration proposed banning the use of penicillin and two forms of tetracyline for growth promotion in livestock. FDA feared the overuse of these antibiotics in animal feed could help development of drug-resistant bacteria that can infect people. Since then the agency failed to hold hearings or take any further action. Now, thanks to prompting from several health and consumer advocacy groups, a federal court has ordered the FDA to follow through on a 35-year-old proposal that could lead to a withdrawal of the drugs.

Judge Theodore Katz wrote, – the scientific evidence of the risks to human health from the widespread use of antibiotics in livestock has grown, and there is no evidence the FDA has changed its position that such uses are not shown to be safe. The FDA must now grant the drug makers an opportunity to appear at a hearing and prove that the antibiotics are safe. If the drug sponsors fail to make their point the FDA Commissioner must issue a withdrawal order.

Avinash Kar, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says the court’s decision – affects a far greater share of antibiotic use in animals. Kar says – this is a long overdue step toward preserving life-saving medicines for when we need them. These antibiotics were meant to cure disease, not to fatten up pigs and chickens. - Andy Eubank 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Will Giant Food Stores Label "Pink Slime" In Their Ground Beef Products?

Today, concerned Pennsylvanians are calling on Carlisle-based Giant Food Stores, the state’s largest traditional grocer, to respect consumers’ rights and label which of the ground beef products sold at their Pennsylvania stores contain Finely Textured Beef (FTB), a meat industry term for a filler made from low-grade trimmings.

“I do not care how safe Giant says this product is, it is the sheer fact that if this product is so darn good, why not advertise it? Why not make it public to your consumers?”
The call from consumers comes on the heels of an investigative report earlier this month by ABC News in which Giant Food’s parent company, Netherlands-based multinational Royal Ahold, admitted that the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef containing the controversial filler. The company claims that FTB is “absolutely safe for consumption.”

“What infuriates me the most is that Giant did this without telling its consumers,” said West Chester, Pa. resident and teacher Libby Maxim when she found out about the presence of the filler in the ground beef she has been buying at her local Giant Food store for at least the last three years. “I do not care how safe Giant says this product is, it is the sheer fact that if this product is so darn good, why not advertise it? Why not make it public to your consumers?”

Although Giant Food claims it does not use ammonium hydroxide in the ground beef sold at their stores, the company has yet to disclose which antimicrobial agents go into the processing of the ground beef they carry. According to industry experts, the use of these agents is necessary since the beef trimmings used to make the filler carry an increased risk of containing pathogens like salmonella and E. coli.

Giant Food is the largest traditional grocer in Pennsylvania. The company plays a crucial role in setting standards when it comes to consumers’ rights. The choice to consume products containing the beef filler should rest with the customers, not the company. Giant Food must disclose the agents used in their Finely Textured Beef and clearly label products containing the filler so that consumers can make an informed decision. - Enhanced Online News 

The Chemical Additive Of The Week - Potassium Bromate

Chemical Information: 
Potassium bromate is typically used as a flour improver, strengthening the dough and allowing higher rising. It is an oxidizing agent, and under the right conditions, will be completely used up in the baking bread. However, if too much is added, or if the bread is not baked long enough or not at a high enough temperature, then a residual amount will remain, which may be harmful if consumed. Potassium bromate might also be used in the production of malt barley where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prescribed certain conditions where it may be used safely, which includes labeling standards for the finished malt barley product. -US Code of Federal Regulations 

Potassium Bromate has been banned from use in food products in the EU, Canada, Nigeria, Brazil, Peru and some other countries. It was banned in Sri Lanka in 2001 and China in 2005. In the United States, it has not been banned. The FDA sanctioned the use of bromate before the Delaney clause of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which bans potentially carcinogenic substances went into effect in 1958, so it is more difficult for it to now be banned. Instead, since 1991 the FDA has urged bakers to voluntarily stop using it. In California a warning label is required when bromated flour is used. - Regulation Of Potassium Bromate

Health Effects: 
Potassium Bromate is carcinogenic in rats and nephrotoxic in both man and experimental animals when given orally. It has been demonstrated that Potassium Bromate induces renal cell tumors, mesotheliomas of the peritoneum, and follicular cell tumors of the thyroid. - Y Kurokawa, A Maekawa, M Takahashi, and Y Hayashi 

Potassium Bromate have the ability to cause cancer within your body. These chemical based products usually become metabolized into harmful substances within different organs, and generally target those specific places once produced. In the case of potassium bromate, cancer usually develops in the kidney or thyroid when consumed frequently and in large doses. - 3 Fat Chicks 

 In 1992-93 and again in 1998-99, the FDA tested several dozen baked goods and found that many contained bromate at levels considered unsafe by the agency,” said Darren Mitchell, a CSPI attorney. “One sample tested recently had almost 1,000 times the detection limit. The FDA’s inaction needlessly exposes consumers to this harmful additive. - Center For Science In The Public Interest 

When you ingest or absorb Potassium Bromate, it displaces iodine, and this iodine deficiency leads to an increased risk for cancer of the breast, thyroid gland, ovary and prostate. Cancers that we see at alarmingly high rates today. This phenomenon is significant enough to have been given its own name, the Bromide Dominance Theory. - Dr. Mercola 

The Vegetable Of The Week - Cabbage

Vegetable Information: 
The cultivated cabbage is derived from a leafy plant called the wild mustard plant, native to the Mediterranean region, where it is common along the seacoast, it was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans; Cato the Elder praised this vegetable for its medicinal properties, declaring that "It is the cabbage that surpasses all other vegetables." Cabbage was developed by ongoing selective breeding for suppression of the internode length. The English name derives from the Normanno-Picard caboche (head), perhaps from boche (swelling, bump). Or perhaps from the Latin for "head": Caput. There is an Italian dialect word for head: Capoccia. - Encyclopedia Britannica

Health Benefits: 
Cabbage contains high amounts of Vitamin B1. - Nutrition & You

Vitamin B1 is responsible for converting sugar into energy. The vitamin acts as a co-enzyme in oxidizing sugar to produce energy for the smooth functioning of the body organs, especially the heart, brain, lungs, and kidneys. - Newsmax 

Vitamin B1 helps in the proper development of myelin sheaths around nerves. Deficiency of Vitamin B1, might result in the degeneration of these coverings, which might result in nerve death and damage. - Organic Facts 

Vitamin B1 is responsible for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that relays messages to the muscles and nerves. A deficiency of vitamin B1 leads to a decrease in the neurotransmitter and causes irregular heartbeat. Severe deficiency can cause congestive heart failure. - Newsmax 

Vitamin B1 has an important role in the production of Red Blood Cells, which in turn keeps the person healthy and active. Vitamin B1 can improve your memory and concentration. It is also used in the management of many nervous disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Bell’s palsy among others. Function: Vitamin B1 is better known as "morale vitamin" for its positive impact on the nervous system and a healthy mental attitude. - Organic Facts 

The Fruit Of The Week - Cranberries

Fruit Information: 
The name cranberry derives from "craneberry", first named by early European settlers in America who felt the expanding flower, stem, calyx, and petals resembled the neck, head, and bill of a crane. Another name used in northeastern Canada is mossberry. The traditional English name for Vaccinium oxycoccos, fenberry, originated from plants found growing in fen (marsh) lands. In 17th century New England cranberries were sometimes called "bearberries" as bears were often seen feeding on them.

In North America, Native Americans were the first to use cranberries as food. Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, especially for pemmican, wound medicine and dye. Calling the red berries Sassamanash, natives may have introduced cranberries to starving English settlers in Massachusetts who incorporated the berries into traditional Thanksgiving feasts. American Revolutionary War veteran Henry Hall is credited as first to farm cranberries in the Cape Cod town of Dennis around 1816. In the 1820s cranberries were shipped to Europe. Cranberries became popular for wild harvesting in the Nordic countries and Russia. In Scotland, the berries were originally wild-harvested but with the loss of suitable habitat, the plants have become so scarce that this is no longer done. - History Of Cranberries

Health Benefits: 
Antioxidant compounds in cranberries such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC’s), anthocyanidin flavonoids, cyanidin, peonidin and quercetin may prevent cardiovascular disease by counteracting against cholesterol plaque formation in the heart and blood vessels. Further, these compounds help body lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL-good cholesterol levels in the blood.

Research studies shows that cranberry juice consumption offers protection against gram-negative bacterial infections such as E.coli in the urinary system by inhibiting bacterial attachment to the bladder and urethra.

Consumption of cranberries makes urine acidic. This, along with the bacterial anti-adhesion property of cranberry juice helps prevent formation of alkaline (calcium ammonium phosphate) stones in the urinary tract by working against proteus bacterial infections.

Further, the berries prevent plaque formation on the tooth surface by interfering with the ability of another gram-negative bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, to sticking on the surface. It thus helps prevent development of cavities in a way similar to the action in preventing urinary tract infections. - Nutrition & You 

In some people, regular cranberry juice consumption for months can kill the H. pylori bacteria, which can cause stomach cancer and ulcers. - National Institute Of Health 

Research on pigs with a genetic predisposition to atherosclerosis--narrow, hardened arteries that may lead to heart attack and stroke--found that those fed dried cranberries or juice every day had healthier, more flexible blood vessels. - Whole Food Supplements 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Could What We Eat Now Effect Our Genetic Makeup For The Future?

We all know that our eating habits impact our health.  From the proper functioning of internal organs to the appearance of our skin, in many ways, we truly are what we eat.  But a new study suggests that diet has an even deeper impact upon our bodies.

The Duke University study suggests that what we eat impacts the way our genes are expressed.  In the study, one group of rats was fed a nutritious diet while another was fed a diet lacking in folic acid.  The former group consistently maintained darker hair, while the hair of the latter became blondish in color.  What’s more, the offspring of the latter group and every subsequent generation had blondish hair, as well.

If we are anything like rats, then, what we eat may not only impact us – it may impact the health of our children and grandchildren. The study suggests that diet first impacts the way our genes are expressed in our own bodies.  So eating a poor diet may influence the genes responsible for determining the appearance of skin.  Someone whose diet lacks sufficient nutritional content, therefore, might have older looking skin.  When those genes are passed down, then, that person’s children may be more likely to have skin that ages prematurely, as well.

The study was intended primarily to illuminate ways in which dermatologists could help their patients improve the appearance of their skin.  But the implications of the study are much deeper.  While more research is certainly called for, these findings are not encouraging for a country plagued with obesity.

The typical American diet is much too high in refined carbohydrates, trans fat, saturated fat, and artificial ingredients.  This is the first generation of Americans predicted to die sooner than their parents.  The rate of obesity and diabetes among children continues to skyrocket.  There are a number of disturbing health trends in this country and, if what the Duke study suggests is correct, we might be struggling with these health epidemics for quite some time.

This is why it is so important for USDA and the FDA to be more responsible in deciding how to regulate the corporate food system.  By allowing the widespread consumption of produce sprayed with pesticides and meat and dairy products treated with antibiotics and hormones, we are likely doing damage to our genetic code and the genes of our children.  Not to mention the unknown health effects of genetically modified foods.

Furthermore, increased funding is necessary for organizations that provide low-cost nutrition education and work to redress the occurrence of food deserts.  Our eating habits have already had a significant, negative impact on the current generation of children.  It is imperative that we take action before we doom the next generation, as well. - Sarah Cooke

GMO Corn To Become Illegal In France On March 20th

Amid mass US protests against Monsanto in mid-March, France imposed a temporary moratorium on the planting of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, MON810.

“Due to the proximity of the planting season,” said Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire along with Francois Fillon, Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development, in a press release on Friday, authorities “decided to take a precautionary measure to temporarily prohibit the cultivation of maize MON810 on the national territory to protect the environment.” All prior plantings of MON810, trade name YieldGard, become illegal on March 20.

Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Monsanto announced in January that it would not sell genetically modified corn in France due to public opposition. A growing list of human health and environmental hazards from GM crops has raised concern over bioengineered food and feed, including a literally explosive growth of a “new” microbe on pig manure. 

Likely linked to GM feed served to most livestock in the US, methane-filled “foam” growing on pig manure has resulted in several pig farm explosions since 2001, killing thousands of animals.

“And there’s no stopping it,” reports the Daily Mail, “the foam has now started growing on one in four farms across the Midwest.”  Scientists believe a new type of bacteria may have developed.

This comports with plant pathologist Don Huber’s discovery last year of a new pathogen associated with spontaneous abortions in livestock, which has been linked to the use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Modified with a Bt protein to kill insects, MON810 is losing its efficacy in the US.  The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to the bacterial toxin in eleven states.

In early March, a group of pro-biotech corn entomologists sent a letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency warning that insect resistance to genetically modified corn can be halted by planting non-GMO seed.  The warning will likely go unheeded as the US Dept. of Agriculture announced plans to speed up the process of GM approval by 18 months.

Over the past eight months, the European Commission has approved 11 new transgenic crops.  However, EU nations can independently restrict or prohibit the sales of products under certain conditions.

Also on Friday in the US, GM opponents held a nationwide protest against Monsanto. Dressed in hazmat suits, they targeted Congress for its complicity in allowing the dangerous adulterant in the food and feed supply. 

Protests continue today across the US, and include an action against WalMart for planning to sell Monsanto’s GM corn this year. The move to label GMO foods in the US grew stronger last week when 55 Members of Congress sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Admin demanding the label.

In California, a statewide petition drive is underway to put the labeling initiative on the ballot this November. With six weeks remaining to collect one million registered voter signatures, the Label GMOs group got a welcome boost when Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds designed a special seed packet to be used for the campaign. - Rady Ananda 

Could GMO Corn & Soybeans Effect Reproductive Health?

Genetically Modified Foods Already Linked to Reduced Fertility
Genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy have already been shown to reduce fertility in animals, and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, which is heavily used on GE crops, has also been shown to alter fertility.

For example, female rats fed GE (Roundup Ready) soy for 15 months showed significant changes in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy. According to researchers, if women experience similar changes in the uterus lining and altered hormonal levels, it might increase the risk of retrograde menstruation, in which menstrual discharge travels backwards into your body rather than through your uterus. This can cause a disease known as endometriosis, which may lead to infertility.

The disorder can also produce pelvic and leg pain, gastrointestinal problems, chronic fatigue, and a wide variety of other symptoms. Genetically modified soybeans are called Roundup Ready.

They contain a bacterial gene that allows the plants to survive a normally deadly dose of Roundup herbicide. Although the spray doesn’t kill the plant, its active ingredient, glyphosate, actually accumulates in the beans themselves, which are then consumed by livestock and humans. There is actually so much glyphosate in GE soybeans that when they were introduced, Europe had to increase their allowable residue levels 200-fold! 

Glyphosate Poses Risk to Female Reproductive Health
Although there are only a handful of studies on the safety of GE soybeans, there is considerable evidence that glyphosate—especially in conjunction with the other ingredients in Roundup—wreaks havoc with the endocrine and reproductive systems.

Glyphosate throws off the delicate hormonal balance that governs the whole reproductive cycle. It interferes with aromatase, which produces estrogen, and it’s also highly toxic to the placenta in pregnant women. In a 2009 French study, scientists discovered that glyphosate can kill the cells in the outer layer of the human placenta (the trophoblast membrane), which in turn can kill the placenta. A mere 1/500th the amount needed to kill weeds was able to kill these cells! The amount is so small, according to the study’s authors, that the “residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from Roundup formulation-treated crops” could be enough to “cause cell damage and even [cell] death.” 

If the endocrine function of the placenta is destroyed, then ovarian and endometrial function may also suffer, and the end result could be a miscarriage.

It’s important to remember that glyphosate can accumulate in your body, allowing its toxic effects to grow worse with repeated consumption of foods containing these Roundup Ready crops. Clearly, this may become a serious concern for the next generation, as most young children—girls and boys alike—growing up today are fed processed foods containing GE ingredients on a daily basis, year after year…
Glyphosate Affects Testosterone and Harms Male Reproductive Health Too
Last month, an animal study published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro, found that glyphosate induces necrosis and apoptosis (cell death) in rat testicular cells in vitro, and decreases testosterone production even at low exposure levels. The authors write:

“Roundup is being used increasingly in particular on genetically modified plants grown for food and feed that contain its residues. Here we tested glyphosate and its formulations on mature rat fresh testicular cells from 1 to 10,000 ppm, thus from the range in some human urine and in environment to agricultural levels.

We show that from 1 to 48 hours of Roundup exposure Leydig cells are damages. Within 24-48 hours this formulation is also toxic on the other cells, mainly by necrosis, by contrast to glyphosate alone, which is essentially toxic on Sertoli cells. Later it also induces apoptosis at higher doses in germ cells and in Sertoli/germ cells co-cultures.

At lower non toxic concentrations of Roundup and glyphosate (1ppm), the main endocrine disruption is a testosterone decrease by 35 percent. The pesticide has thus an endocrine impact at very low environmental doses, but only a high contamination appears to provoke an acute rat testicular toxicity. This does not anticipate the chronic toxicity which is insufficiently tested, and only with glyphosate in regulatory tests.” - Dr. Mercola

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scientist Questions Efficacy Of Drought Resistant GMO Corn

Utilizing biotech "drought-tolerant" corn to boost global food production would be a less-effective tactic than planting conventional corn and improving agronomic practices, a veteran plant scientist said on Tuesday.

"The technology has gotten a tremendous amount of attention. We think undue attention," said Doug Gurian-Sherman, a plant pathologist and senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, in an interview at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

"It is a modest benefit and a real benefit and a step forward. But it is really kind of a baby step," Gurian-Sherman, who served on a FDA biotech advisory subcommittee from 2002 to 2005, said of biotech advances in drought tolerance.

He said drought-tolerant corn "is going to be useful for many 15 to 20 percent of the areas where moderate levels of drought are pretty predictable, places like Nebraska and Kansas. It is not likely to be helpful at all with the kinds of severe droughts that we've had in Texas the last couple of years. This crop is going to die just like any other corn crops under those conditions."

Many companies have been racing to roll out drought-tolerant crop technologies. The world's largest seed company, Monsanto Co (MON.N), is conducting on-farm trials of its genetically modified drought-tolerant corn seed this spring.

Monsanto and rival seed companies have been pushing drought tolerance as a means to help increase production of key crops, particularly corn, as climate changes produce drier and warmer conditions in some growing areas.

Drought last year in Texas and parts of the central United States wreaked havoc on many crops. But Gurian-Sherman said the leading drought tolerant corn option -- Monsanto's seed product -- reduces yield loss by just 5 to 6 percent and only in areas of modest drought. He said he analyzed data Monsanto submitted to regulators as part of his research.

Conventional breeding has been improving yields under drought conditions by about 1 percent a year, on average, he said. Taking into account the number of years the biotech options take to develop, the millions of dollars spent on the research and the additional costs farmers pay for transgenic crops, the biotech "drought-tolerant" versions are inferior to conventional offerings, he said.

Gurian-Sherman said there is a dire need for more efficient use of water in agriculture, but the most critical needs are for improved irrigation methods and techniques like mulching of soils to hold in moisture as opposed to using biotech seeds.

Water use efficiency issues are not addressed by drought-tolerant crops, he said. Overall, public policy and research needs to shift direction in a way that promotes sustainable agriculture and allows for more diversity in crop selection, chemical usage and water usage, Gurian-Sherman noted.

"Drought is incredibly important and so going forward we need to think about ways to try to mitigate the losses from drought and prevent them from getting worse," he said. "Biotech certainly has some successes, but if you look at the bigger picture ... breeding and agronomy continue to way outperform biotech." - Carey Gillam 

The Chemical Additive Of The Week - White Flour

Health Effects: 
Flour used to be aged naturally to improve its baking quality. The milling industry now uses a gas known as chlorine oxide as an aging, bleaching, and oxidizing agent. Industry leaders claim that bleaching and oxidizing agents don’t produce harmful residues in flour, but they can’t cite published data or studies to confirm this.
The Environment Protection Agency  warns that chlorine oxide is a dangerous irritant. Chlorine oxide interacts with some of the proteins in the flour and produces alloxan, a product of the decomposition of uric acid. Alloxan is a poison used to produce diabetes in healthy laboratory animals so that researchers can study diabetes “treatments.” Other chemicals used on flour include nitrogen oxide, nitrosyl, and benzoyl peroxide mixed with various chemical salts. - Dr. Mercola 

It has been shown that alloxan is a byproduct of the flour bleaching process, the process they use to make flour look so “clean” and -- well, white. Alloxan, or C4 H2O4N2, is a product of the decomposition of uric acid. It is a poison that is used to produce diabetes in healthy experimental animals (primarily rats and mice), so that researchers can then study diabetes “treatments” in the lab. Alloxan causes diabetes because it spins up enormous amounts of free radicals in pancreatic beta cells, thus destroying them. - Healthier Talk 

Refined white flour contains almost no natural minerals and vitamins. The wheat seeds are treated with fungicide. Once they become wheat, they are sprayed with hormones and pesticides. Even the bins in which the harvested wheat is stored have been coated with insecticides. - Dr. Mercola

Don't be fooled by the term "enriched flour," because only four vitamins and minerals are added back, compared to the 15 lost, along with most of the fiber and other beneficial substances like antioxidants. - Womens Fitness 

The Fruit Of The Week - Cherry

Fruit Information:
The native range of the wild cherry extends through most of Europe, western Asia and parts of northern Africa, and the fruit has been consumed through its range since prehistoric times. A cultivated cherry is recorded as having been brought to Rome by Lucius Licinius Lucullus from northeastern Anatolia, modern day Turkey, also known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC. - Catholic Encyclopedia

Health Benefits: 
Cherry fruits are very rich in stable anti-oxidant melatonin. Melatonin can cross the blood-brain barrier easily and produces soothing effects on the brain neurons, calming down nervous system irritability which helps relieve neurosis, insomnia and headache conditions. - Nutrition & You

The first published evidence that melatonin may be useful in Alzheimer's disease was the demonstration that this neurohormone prevents neuronal death caused by exposure to the amyloid beta protein, a neurotoxic substance that accumulates in the brains of patients with the disorder. - Pappolla M, Bozner P, Soto C

Melatonin also inhibits the aggregation of the amyloid beta protein into neurotoxic microaggregates that, it seems, underlie the neurotoxicity of this protein, causing death of neurons and formation of neurofibrillary tangles, the other neuropathological landmark of Alzheimer's disease. - Wang XC, Zhang J, Yu X

Melatonin is involved in synchronizing the body's hormone secretions, setting the brain's internal clock and generating circadian rhythms (daily biorhythms). Melatonin helps regulate sleep-wake or circadian rhythms. Melatonin is also one of the hormones that controls the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. As a result, melatonin helps determine when menstruation begins, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when menstruation ends (menopause).  - Vitamin Supplements 

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, clinical studies have demonstrated that melatonin is more effective than a placebo treatment when taken over a short period of time to help with insomnia. One study in particular, which was carried out on people aged 55 and over, found that sustained-release melatonin supplements helped to improve the quality of life of insomniacs, in addition to improving the quality of sleep and the ability to sleep. - Natural Health 

The Vegetable Of The Week - Brussel Sprouts

Vegetable Information: 
Forerunners to modern Brussels sprouts were likely cultivated in ancient Rome. Brussels sprouts as we now know them were grown possibly as early as the 13th century in what is now Belgium. The first written reference dates to 1587. During the 16th century, they enjoyed a popularity in the southern Netherlands that eventually spread throughout the cooler parts of Northern Europe. Production of Brussels sprouts in the United States began in the 18th century, when French settlers brought them to Louisiana. Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello. The first plantings in California's Central Coast began in the 1920s, with significant production beginning in the 1940s. - History Of Brussel Sprouts 

Health Benefits: 
Brussel Sprouts contains Diindolylmethane aka DIM. 
When estrogen is broken down in your body, it can either form beneficial or harmful estrogen metabolites, and DIM helps your body to break down estrogen into the beneficial type. The beneficial estrogen metabolites have antioxidant properties and help to protect the heart and brain from free-radical damage. Diindolylmethane also simultaneously reduces the levels of harmful estrogen metabolites, which is beneficial because they are associated with an increased risk for obesity, breast cancer and uterine cancer. Additional problems associated with too many harmful estrogen metabolites include moodiness and breast pain in women and loss of sex drive in men. - Michael Zeligs, Scott Connelly 

DIM has been found to help prevent and treat breast and prostate cancers. Studies done on animals also found DIM to prevent the replication and spreading of cancer cells. Exactly how DIM helps to prevent and treat cancer is unknown; however, DIM inhibits angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. Tumors require the growth of new blood vessels to supply the nourishment that is necessary for tumors to thrive. By preventing the growth of new blood vessels, DIM may therefore help to abolish tumors. Unfortunately, only a few small studies have been done on DIM so far, and more research needs to be done to confirm the usefulness of DIM as an anticancer supplement. - Live Strong 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nestle Removes All The Artificial Ingredients In Their Candies...... In The UK

Nestlé, manufacturer of KitKat, Aero and Smarties, has removed artificial colors, flavors and preservatives from its entire confectionery range. Nestlé Crunch is the last of 79 products to become free of artificial ingredients since the company began to replace more than 80 additives with alternatives six years ago, it said.

The company, which was responding to consumer demand, says it is the first big UK confectioner to remove all artificial products. Concentrates of fruit, vegetables and edible plants such as carrot, hibiscus, radish, safflower and lemon are among ingredients used to provide color. David Rennie, managing director of Nestlé Confectionery UK, described the move as a significant milestone.

"Nestlé is proud to be the only major confectionery company in the UK to announce it is 100% free of artificial preservatives, flavors or colors across its entire portfolio," said Rennie. "To achieve this, Nestlé Confectionery and our suppliers have worked very hard ensuring we don't compromise and we maintain the same quality and taste of all our brands."

The company has already removed all artificial products from all its beverages including Nesquik. The company first began work on achieving artificial-free replacements for ingredients in Smarties and Milky Bar in 2005. The Nestlé Crunch bar is the final product to see natural flavorings replacing artificial ingredients, it said. - Caroline Davies 

Another Reason To #EatOrganic - Antibiotics in Meat

Antibiotics are routinely given to livestock on factory farms to make them gain weight with less feed and keep them from getting sick in confinement conditions. But the daily dosing, at the same time it lowers feed needs, lowers drug effectiveness and produces antibiotic resistant bacteria or super bugs.

In January, researchers found 230 out of 395 raw pork cuts bought in U.S. stores were contaminated with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), the dangerous staph bacterium. While the germs would likely not infect consumers if the meat were cooked, the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the food supply is alarming. Worse--there were "no statistically significant differences" between "conventionally raised swine and swine raised without antibiotics," reported the researchers. So much for buying safely raised meat.

And in December, the FDA scrapped its three-decade long effort to regulate the use of the popular human antibiotics penicillin and tetracycline in livestock, claiming the regulatory fights against Big Meat are too time-consuming and expensive.

By and large, events like these, despite their importance, are hardly noted in the mainstream media. 
 Cynics might have seen the government's concessions to Big Meat coming when a report asserting that MRSA kills more Americans per year than AIDS "disappeared" from the National Agricultural Library website last summer with no explanation, says reporter Tom Philpott.

Of course, MRSA is only one antibiotic resistant germ and not even the one clinicians fear the most anymore. Clinicians also worry about vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), encouraged by the use of the antibiotic virginiamycin in livestock, Clostridium difficile, a serious intestinal bug developing resistance, and resistant Acinetobacter baumannii which has so afflicted US troops in Iraq it has been dubbed "Iraqibacter."

And days after the penicillin announcement, there was another concession to Big Meat. The FDA issued new, watered down rules on the use of cephalosporins in livestock (a different type of antibiotic) after Big Meat muscled down the FDA's original order to prohibit cephalosporins in 2008 (which also disappeared with little explanation.) Cephalosporins are important human antibiotics used for pneumonia, strep throat, salmonella and skin and urinary tract infections. In 2008, the FDA had announced that there was "evidence that extralabel use of these drugs [cephalosporins] in food-producing animals will likely cause an adverse event in humans and, as such, presents a risk to the public health," and called for their prohibition. 

But by the time hearings were held two months later and lobbyists had worked their magic, the "Cephalosporin Order of Prohibition," had somehow become a "Hearing to Review the Advances In Animal Health Within The Livestock Industry." Prohibition--advances, same idea, right?
At the hearings, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Animal Health Institute, a Big Pharma trade group and the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork and cattle industries whined that they could not "farm" without antibiotics because more feed would be required and the animals would get sick from being immobilized over their own manure.

"To raise turkeys without antibiotics would increase the incidence of illness in turkey flocks," sniveled the National Turkey Federation's Michael Rybolt, PhD. Antibiotics "reduce the level of potentially harmful bacteria which result in infections and sickness," sniffed the National Milk Producers Federation Robert D. Byrne, PhD (key word, "potential.") Antibiotics decrease the amount of land needed to raise animals and provide a lower priced "wholesome" product for the public said one farm operator after another.  One even claimed that manure is reduced because animals eat less. Factory farming is green!

After the hearings, W. Ron DeHaven, DVM, who was the USDA's top vet before leaving for industry and helming the AVMA, penned a rambling, almost incoherent 18-page letter with 62 footnotes to the FDA. Cephalosporin resistant "human pathogens" aren't increasing, says the letter, and even if they are, they're not affecting human health and even they're affecting human health, how do you know it's from the livestock drugs and even if it's from the livestock drugs, the FDA has no legal authority to ban cephalosporin. Got that?

Less than a month after the letter was sent, on November 25, the FDA revoked the prohibition yet the press neither reported neither the dilution of the "Order of Prohibition" into a "Hearing to Review the Advances In Animal Health," or the rescinding of the order under industry pressure.

It was no surprise that the AVMA approved of the FDA's new cephalosporin livestock rules. "We thought the original order was too broad and unnecessarily prohibited uses that were not likely to cause problems for human health," said the American Veterinary Medical Association's Dr. Hoang, who testified in 2008 that the reduced feed antibiotics make possible is a "health-promoting" effect and a "therapeutic use," for animals. What?

The FDA's new rules for cephalosporins no longer ban the antibiotic but limit "large and lengthy dosing in cattle and swine," says the New York Times. They also allow uses "the F.D.A. has not specifically approved," and wide use in ducks and rabbits. Yum. In December the FDA also scrapped its three-decade long effort to regulate the use of the popular human antibiotics penicillin and tetracycline in livestock. 

Still, the new rules prohibit one unsavory factory farming practice that few are aware of--the "routine injections of cephalosporins into chicken eggs."

In 2008, while inspecting egg operations, the FDA caught hatcheries injecting cephalosporins directly into chicken eggs, "rather than by the approved method of administering the drug to day-old chicks." The same year, Tyson Foods was caught injecting eggs with a different antibiotic, the human antibiotic gentamicin, linked to serious side effects. 

Several scientific journals report that antibiotics injected into the eggs of layer hens before they hatch produce drug residues in the eggs they lay. The abuse of antibiotics on farms was one of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) last stands. "It seems scarcely believable that these precious medications could be fed by the ton to chickens and pigs," he wrote in a bill called the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2007 (PAMTA) which has yet to pass. "These precious drugs aren't even used to treat sick animals. They are used to fatten pigs and speed the growth of chickens. The result of this rampant overuse is clear: meat contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria sits on supermarket shelves all over America," said Kennedy years before this month's report on MRSA-contaminated pork. The meat industry, "is rampantly misusing antibiotics in an attempt to cover up filthy, unsanitary living conditions among animals," echoed Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-NY), who cosponsored the bill and holds degrees in microbiology and public health.

Over 70 percent of antibiotics go to livestock, not people, says the bill and they are used on over 83 percent of grower-finisher swine farms, cattle feedlots, and sheep farms and found in 48 percent of US streams.

Of course, it's no surprise that Big Meat denies the dangers of antibiotic resistance and/or its part in it and opposes PAMTA. "We don't believe we are the main cause of antibiotic resistance," Dave Warner, the National Pork Producers Council's communications director told Johns Hopkins Magazine. Doctors who overprescribe antibiotics are the culprit, says Warner, since "There are only 67,000 pork producers." Only?

The chicken industry also pleads innocent. "We believe our use is responsible and limited," Richard Lobb, public relations director for the National Chicken Council, told the Hartford Advocate.

What is a surprise is that Big Pharma, supposed medical professionals, is also "flat earth" when it comes to antibiotic resistance. Elanco, the animal division of Eli Lilly, says in an online brochure recently taken don, that "monitoring antibiotic resistance in raw meat products is not an appropriate measure to represent the bacteria that reach the consumer" because cooking destroys these bacteria, and dead bacteria cannot transmit antibiotic resistance. The Animal Health Institute, representing Abbott, Bayer Healthcare, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Elanco/Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer says, "There is no scientific evidence that antibiotics used in food animals have any significant impact on the effectiveness of antibiotics in people," it deadpans in a brochure created specifically to oppose PAMTA.

In fact, antibiotics form such a huge part of Big Pharma revenues, antibiotic resistance literally divides medical professionals along species lines. Many medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association, support PAMTA out of concern for patient infections while big veterinary groups tend to oppose it.

Nor did it help PAMTA's cause that by early 2011 Kennedy had died and Sharfstein had left the FDA abruptly and without comment. Lawmakers have clearly knuckled under to Big Meat at the price of public health. And press reports of the concessions have been almost absent. - Martha Rosenberg 

Scientist Believe Monsanto's Rootworm Resistant Corn Is Losing Its Resistance

A group of U.S. plant scientists is warning federal regulators that action is needed to mitigate a growing problem with biotech corn that is losing its resistance to plant-damaging pests. The stakes are high - U.S. corn production is critical for food, animal feed and ethanol production, and farmers have increasingly been relying on corn that has been genetically modified to be toxic to corn rootworm problem. "This is not something that is a surprise... but it is something that needs to be addressed," said Joseph Spencer, a
corn entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, part of the University of Illinois. Spencer is one of 22 academic corn experts who sent a letter dated March 5 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency telling regulators they are worried about long-term corn production prospects because of the failure of the genetic modifications in corn aimed at protection from rootworm. 

Monsanto introduced its corn rootworm protected products, which contain a protein referred to as "Cry3Bb1," in 2003 and they have proved popular with farmers in key growing areas around the country. Biotech corn sales are a key growth
driver of sales at Monsanto. The corn rootworm product is supposed to reduce the need to put insecticides into the soil, essentially making the corn plants toxic to the worms that try to feed on their roots. But plant scientists have recently found evidence that the genetic modification is losing its effectiveness, making the plants vulnerable to rootworm damage and potentially significant production losses. The scientists said in their letter to EPA that the situation should be acted upon "carefully, but with a sense of some urgency." As concerns have mounted over the last year that Monsanto's rootworm-protected products were losing their effectiveness, Monsanto has said the problem is small and has said the products continue to provide U.S. corn farmers with "strong protection against this damaging pest." 
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, has recommended growers rotate the corn with its biotech soybeans, use another of its biotech corn products and use insecticides to try to address the problem. "Rootworm performance inquiries in 2011 were isolated to less than 0.2 percent of the acres planted with Monsanto rootworm-traited corn hybrids," said Danielle Stuart, a Monsanto spokeswoman. "In all of these cases, Monsanto is working very closely with the farmer and has provided best management practices for the upcoming season on each of these fields. " The problems with insect resistance have been reported in parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Continuing to plant a failing technology only increases the resistance development risk, the scientists said in their letter. Moreover, they say, the rootworm-protected BT corn is being planted in areas that have no need for it, often because there are few alternative seed options. Scarcity of non-BT corn seed is a concern, they said. Using insecticides along with the biotech corn as Monsanto has advised is not a good approach, according to the scientists, because it elevates production costs for farmers and masks the extent and severity of the building insect resistance. 

"Recommendations to apply insecticides to protect transgenic Bt corn rootworm corn strikes us as a clear admission that the Cry3Bb1 toxin is no  longer providing control adequate to protect yield," the scientists wrote. "When insecticides overlay transgenic technology, the economic and environmental advantages of rootworm-protected corn quickly disappear," the scientists wrote. EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Director Steven Bradbury, who the letter was addressed to, could not be reached for
comment. - Carey Gillam