SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

June 24, 2010

GMO’s, Gates/USAID, that’s Power!

Gates Foundation’s Rajiv Shah to Head USAID

Shah to Continue Gates-Monsanto Push for GMOs in Poor Countries

Despite the efforts of 5,497 Organic Consumers Association activists who sent letters to their Senators in opposition, the Senate confirmed Rajiv Shah to lead US foreign assistance as director of USAID.

On January 7, 2010, Shah was sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who gave a speech outlining USAID’s priorities. Sec. Clinton emphasized expanding partnerships with the private sector and NGOs and she highlighted the work Shah did with the Gates Foundation. She also referenced Bill Gates by saying that Shah had provided a list of people willing to go to bat for him in the Senate confirmation process that included “giants … in the foundation world.”

In his inaugural speech, Shah echoed Clinton, saying USAID needs “to better coordinate our work … with public, private and multilateral partners. … And we need to develop new capabilities to pursue innovation, science and technology…” Public-private partnerships promoting science and technology were what Shah specialized in when he worked at the Gates Foundation.

In an interview with NPR, Shah referred to his past employer as a future collaborator, saying, “We are also going to do things a little bit differently: bring in outside expertise and become more of a coordinating platform so that we can work with private sector innovators, like the Gates Foundation... so that women farmers trying to make – grow enough food for their family and their community can do that in places like Kenya or Senegal or Rwanda.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of Monsanto’s key non-profit partners, forcing hazardous Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) on farmers and consumers worldwide. The multi-billion dollar Gates Foundation is helping Monsanto infiltrate markets in poor African countries by fraudulently claiming that GMOs can feed the world and reduce rural poverty with high-priced GM seed varieties that supposedly, but in fact do not, increase yields, resist drought and improve nutrition.

In a speech the day before Shah’s swearing-in ceremony, Clinton spoke specifically about biotech crops:

“We are expanding our direct funding of new research, for example, into biofortified sweet potatoes that prevent Vitamin A deficiency in children, and African maize that can be grown in drought conditions.”

Rajiv Shah, USAID director, on tackling global hunger and why women lead the way

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 7, 2010

The number of people suffering from hunger has now topped 1 billion globally — the highest since 1970, according to the United Nations. U.S. foreign-aid director Rajiv Shah, 37, recently presented the Obama administration’s strategy to tackle the food crisis.

“Feed the Future” will focus on improving the agricultural systems of at least 20 countries. It’s part of an international effort that could benefit 40 million poor people over a decade, officials say.

Shah, a medical doctor who heads the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, came to agriculture through a circuitous route. In a former job at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he analyzed high-impact ways to help the poor. That led him to focus on farming. He didn’t just crunch numbers, though; he spent time working on a Montana farm “to get my boots dirty.”

“I fell in love with it,” he said.

Q: What’s the main way in which Feed the Future differs from what the U.S. government did before?

A: Probably the most important is the level of political commitment and engagement across the entire federal government. In the past, we’ve done good projects but often small projects . . . that didn’t really tie together and lead to a real transformation of that country’s agriculture and its situation with respect to hunger.

Can you give an example of a country where you’re introducing this?

I just got back from Bangladesh [where there are] 160 million people . . . about 40 million of whom suffer from chronic hunger. . . . We worked for many months at a high level with their government, civil society and the private sector, as well as international donors and partners who could really help focus on this program. . . . It’s about following the lead of the countries we work in, as opposed to designing solutions from Washington or Rome or New York.

Farming sounds like something the U.S. government did back in the ’60s and ’70s. Why focus on it now?

(While the world is celebrating all this “help” coming to the “under-fed, under-priveledged” of the world, I sit here growing more hopeless of this struggle by the day.   It doesn’t seem possible to expect to sound the alarm and hope that anybody, let alone everybody will listen, take action and get something done to help save the world – – not just feed a few.  What good does it do to feed people with food that is going to mutate their genes, shorten their lives, cost them more while they still live?  Where is doing the right thing?  Letting true science lead the way – not some agribusiness’ bottom line?

It isn’t enough that our government funds (probably with borrowed dollars) this otherwise noble sounding cause – – who wouldn’t want to help the needy, the hungry?  But the Gates Foundation?  Does anyone realize how vast the fortune is of  Bill and Melinda Gates?. . . how deep the commitment of this charitable couple?  All this money and clout uniting with “MONSANTO” to spread the ” glory” of GMO’s to the entire world.

Has everyone gone mad?  Is it just me?   How does a beautiful, intelligent young doctor like Rajiv Shah throw his weight and essence in with a purpose like this?

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!     Jan)


February 21, 2010

GMO’s trump Climate change in our “destruction”

Alliance for Natural Health – Europe

Say NO to GM


Why we need to take a stand on GM

GM represents probably the biggest uncontrolled experiment ever conducted by humans.

Contrary to the PR from the handful of biotech companies that are responsible for producing the genetically modified (GM) foods that can now be found in up to 70% of processed foods in supermarkets in the US—and in increasing amounts in many other countries—the process of ‘engineering’ genes from unrelated species into food crops is far from precise.

Our direct consumption of GM food, but also our indirect consumption of it via animals that have in turn been fed GM feed, poses very serious risks to human health and the environment.

These threats are very real but have been ignored by regulators like the USA’s pro-GM FDA. These regulators have avoided any detailed evaluations of GM safety as they regard it to be unnecessary because GM crops are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM cousins. Unfortunately, this is an assumption that has been proven false many times over and is one that is contested by a large and ever growing group of geneticists and molecular biologists around the world.

What can I do to protect myself, and the environment from GM?

The ANH upholds the view that consumer resistance to purchasing any GM produce, as well as political pressure, is going to be among the most powerful determinants as to whether the rampage of GM on the natural environment, and on our bodies, is going to continue. In a word, it’s really up to you and what you, your friends and your family are going to do. Are you prepared to avoid consuming any GM produce? (Europeans need only read the labels of packaged or processed foods or buy organic foods to avoid GM.)

Consumers in the US—as well as other parts of the world—can learn a lot about the ways of avoiding GM by going to the website of the Institute for Responsible Technology, its Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, its Non-GMO Shopping Guide and its GM-Free Schools Campaign. Also, look out for the No-GMO logo that’s going to be increasingly found on US produce once the initiative is launched later this year. The initiative currently has the support of food businesses with around $12 billion turnover.

What foodstuffs have been subject to genetic engineering?

Biggest targets for GM

  • Soybeans
  • Maize
  • Oilseed rape
  • Cotton ‘Engineered’

but on a much smaller scale

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Alfalfa and a few other crops have also been

The key traits that have been added to commercial GM crops are herbicide tolerance, which allows farmers to spray such GM crops with herbicide (mostly glyphosate or RoundUp®) to kill weeds while not killing the crop itself, and insect resistance, particularly through the expression of Bt-toxin (a toxin produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis). Some crops possess both traits and are referred to as ‘stacked’ transgenics.

Over 110 million hectares of agricultural land is currently cultivated with GM crops, around half of this is in the USA, the single largest GM crop cultivator. The global area given over to GM has doubled in the last 5 years.

The US has also allowed the use of a GM-altered (recombinant) bovine growth hormone (rbGH) intended to increase dairy yields, which most other countries refuse to accept on the grounds of the health risks it presents to consumers of dairy products derived from rbGH injected cows. The EU continues to refuse import of dairy products derived from rbGH-treated cows.

Evidence on how pressure can be imposed on other countries through the World Trade Organization (WTO) is well illustrated by the long-running dispute over growth hormone treated beef. The USA, which routinely uses such hormones to promote rapid growth in beef cattle, together with support from both Canada and Argentina, has forced sanctions on the EU for continuing to refuse the import of hormone-treated beef. Based on the EU-imposed trade barrier, the WTO has allowed the US to impose import duties on EU exports that cost $116.8 million annually. An additional CAN$11.3 million a year is levied by the Canadian government on EU exports to Canada. The EU argues that it is compliant with WTO rules because there is solid scientific evidence that hormone-treated beef may be harmful.

Horse trading is the name of the game when it comes to the global food trade, and there is increasing evidence that the EU is slowly caving to pressure over the commercial cultivation of GM crops, an issue that has been the subject of a long-standing trade dispute ever since the EU imposed a 6-year moratorium on GM crops from 1998. The WTO has ruled that the EU’s moratorium is illegal and it is putting increasing pressure on the EU to stop some of its Member States, notably Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg, imposing unilateral bans on GM imports.

Despite widespread public opposition to GM crops in Europe, GM food and animal feed usage in Europe is continuing to grow. The difference in Europe, compared with many parts of the world, including the US, is that there is compulsory labelling of GM-containing foods (at least those that contain more than 0.9% GM). The trouble is, European consumers clearly don’t study labels that carefully and are consuming ever larger amounts of GM-containing produce, as revealed in a recent EU study involving 6 countries, led by scientists at King’s College London.

GM cotton trial in South Africa

What are some of the names of the companies that produce GM crops?

  • Monsanto
  • Bayer CropSciences
  • BASF
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • Pioneer (DuPont)
  • Syngenta


How are food crops genetically engineered?

The transfer of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)—the two strand spiral of genetic information found in every plant, animal and microorganism cell that controls the development and function of all organisms—from one organism to crop cells is not a clean, surgically-precise procedure. It is a very hit-and-miss process based on faulty foundations.

The genes from the donor organism, or synthetic equivalents, are not neatly spliced into the ‘videotape’ of the recipient’s DNA. They are forced into the DNA using a range of methods, often with very unpredictable consequences.

A common method of genetic engineering used in the development of GM crops involves the use of a ‘gene gun’. Millions of tiny particles of gold or tungsten coated in selected DNA fragments containing the required gene (gene cassettes) of the donor organism are fired with great intensity at recipient plant cells in the laboratory. An antibiotic marker is added so that cells where DNA has been successfully inserted survive following their dousing with antibiotic. A ‘promoter’, usually a part of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S (CaMV35S)—actually the naked virus, the virus without its protein coat—is also included to ensure the gene expression is permanently turned on to maximum. This is something that tends not to happen with many traits in non-GMOs. Any surviving cells will have had the antibiotic resistant marker along with the new gene(s) and DNA of the CaMV35S successfully incorporated and can then be cloned to produce the new-to-nature GM crop plant, complete with its new complement of DNA.

The above method of gene insertion has now been superseded, in many cases, by using a bacterial vector. This approach originates from the work of Professor Marc Van Montagu and colleagues at the University of Gent in Belgium in 1975, and involves using a particular bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefasciens) that induces tumours in plants. Actually only a part of the bacterium’s cells is used—the plasmid—which contains essential elements of its DNA without the tumour-inducing sectors. The bacterium possesses an unusual ability, not unlike that of a virus, to insert some of its own DNA into its host. Genetic engineers are able to insert gene cassettes (containing one or more genes) into the tumour-inducing section of the bacterium’s DNA, which then inserts the new genes into the plant cell.

Contrary to what the biotechnology companies responsible for genetic engineering of crops tell us, there is a very real risk that transgenic DNA might directly transfer into unrelated species, a process known as horizontal gene transfer. Find out more about the science on this in an ISIS article published in March 2008.


Surely no GM crops are released into the environment without thorough evaluation of safety?

Wrong. Owing to the fact that regulators have decided under pressure from biotech companies that there is no need to thoroughly evaluate the health and environmental consequences of GM crops because they are viewed as “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM relatives, safety evaluation has been very limited.

One of the most thorough evaluations to-date involved a GM potato that was engineered to produce a lectin (protein) from the snowdrop that is well known for its selective toxicity to insects. The purpose of the genetic modification was to have a potato that would produce its own insecticide and hence reduce the need for conventional insecticides, while still being safe to humans.

The work was conducted between 1995 and 1998 at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen (Scotland) under the leadership of Dr Arpad Pusztai, one of the world’s leading authorities on lectins and previously a pro-GM proponent.

The research findings, published in the prestigious Lancet journal in 1999, still stand as one of the most thorough investigations of the potential human health risks of GM.

The study involved assessing the effects of GM potatoes which had been engineered to express the lectin on young rats. The lectin, on its own, had been shown to be safe to rats when fed at 800 times the concentration at which it occurred in the GM potatoes. The results showed dramatic and unexpected effects that could not be caused by the lectin and could only be associated with the genetic modification.

The results rocked the shaky foundation of the GM industry. Dr Pusztai faced huge opposition from the Royal Society in London, from pro-GM governments, including the UK government and ended up being unceremoniously forced out of his job at Rowett. As increasing evidence for health and environmental risks continue to accumulate, Dr Pusztai is joined by an ever growing band of leading scientific researchers in the GM field who are adamantly opposed to the outdoor release of GM and its incorporation into human food and animal feed.

Read an article by Dr Pusztai, Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?, which demonstrates the lack of adequate safety evaluation of GM crops. Read an abstract of a recent (2007) review by Dr Joseluis Domingo of the School of Medicine, Rovira I Virgili University, Spain, entitled Toxicity studies of genetically modified plants: a review of the published literature.


What are some of the possible health risks from eating GM-containing foods?

Scientists have revealed a very large number of adverse effects associated with the genetic engineering of crop plants. The following is just a small list of some of the adverse effects that have been documented following exposure findings:

  • reduced organ weight
  • reduced growth
  • reduced fertility
  • compromised immune function
  • inflammation
  • mutations
  • allergic reactions
  • new diseases
  • reduced nutrient content of food
  • cancer
  • premature death

Probably the most complete and accessible compilation of documented health risks of genetically engineered foods has been undertaken by Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception (2004, Green Books, Totnes, UK / Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA), and his latest book Genetic Roulette: The  Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (2007, Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA). We strongly recommend all members of the public, academia and governments with concerns about GM foods to read both these books. They can be readily obtained through Amazon.

Alternatively, click here to discover more about the 65 health risks documented in Jeffery Smith’s book.


What are some the faulty bricks in the shaky foundations of GM?

The continued march of GM into our food supply has occurred only because dozens of errors, misconceptions, misrepresentations and even outright lies have been accepted by regulators, governments and unsuspecting members of the public.   We look here at just five of the most glaring defective bricks in the unsound foundations of genetic engineering:

Misconception 1: The ‘one gene one protein’ hypothesis

George Beadle and Edward Tatum were awarded the Nobel Prize for proposing this hypothesis back in 1958. They proposed that each gene within DNA coded for the production of a single protein or enzyme. The view formed the bedrock for the development of the genetic engineering of crop plants between the 1970s and 1990s. It allowed the scientists to think of strands of DNA, and the genes on them, like videotape or Lego bricks. You could splice or chop and change the DNA of a crop plant to incorporate whatever trait you so desired. Because the resulting GM crop would then be unique, you could also make a lot of money out of it through its patent.

The Human Genome Project which was completed in April 2003—the largest collaborative scientific project ever conducted—eventually proved this hypothesis to be incorrect. In unravelling the human genome, the project showed that there are only around 30,000 genes in the human genome, a much smaller number than was anticipated. Given that we know about the existence of some 200,000 cellular proteins (including enzymes) in the body, it is clear that some genes must code for more than one protein. Since this time, it has been found that most genes code for multiple proteins and only a very few code for a single one.

Therefore by incorporating a gene for a selected trait, it is highly likely that other, unpredictable consequences will arise. An increasing body of research is now beginning to support this view.


Misconception 2: The expression of genes in the crop plant will not be affected by the foreign, inserted gene(s)

This has again been demonstrated to be a completely false assumption. When the foreign gene is ‘spliced’ into the host plant’s DNA, there is no telling exactly where it will be situated and the foreign genes may have a wide range of unpredictable effects on the native genes in the recipient’s cells. The foreign gene and associated DNA may directly or indirectly cause some native genes to stop producing specific proteins or enzymes they are programmed to produce (‘gene silencing’), while it may increase the expression of others, some of which may have been dormant in the DNA for thousands of years. It may also cause some genes to express themselves differently and unpredictably, giving rise, for example, to allergens or toxins.

The documented increase in allergic reactions in countries in which GM crops are consumed and the death of at least 37 people and illness in up to around 10,000 Americans following the consumption of the genetically modified L-tryptophan dietary (food) supplement in the 1980s are examples of this.

No risks obviously apply to good old non-GM L-tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid found in liberal quantities in chicken and other meats.  It acts as a precursor to serotonin, the mood enhancing hormone that prevents so many of us entering states of anxiety and depression and taking SSRI drugs.

L-tryptophan and its intermediate, 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), have been used safely for decades as food supplements and are invaluable to many thousands.  They are a natural part of the food supply and again pose no risk, provided that they are taken in non-GM forms.


Misconception 3: Instability of DNA in genetically modified crops

It was assumed originally by genetic engineers that once the insertion of new genes had taken place and the modified cells had been developed into viable and crop plants, that their DNA would be relatively stable—or at least as stable as non-GM crops. This has been found to not be the case. It seems that the process of genetic engineering—where foreign DNA, often from a completely unrelated species—is forced into the DNA of a plant, making its DNA much less stable. As such, the DNA of

Misconception 4: Genes from GM crops won’t transfer into the environment

For years the biotech industry argued that the movement of transgenic DNA into non-GM crops or weeds or other plant, animal or microorganism species would not occur and could be guarded against by ensuring buffer zones between GM crops and non-GM ones.

It is now almost universally accepted that this is an inevitable consequence of increasing the hectarage of GM. It’s referred to as horizontal gene transfer or outcrossing and its impact could be catastrophic in either the short or the long term.


Misconception 5: Biotechnology is needed to feed the world’s expanding population

This is the big and emotive argument being pushed around by governments. It pulls at our heart strings and we are told that genetic engineering is merely an extension of plant breeding techniques that have been ongoing for centuries. Wrong again. Firstly, plant breeding works within the laws of nature. Nature doesn’t allow you to incorporate DNA from an unrelated species into a crop plant. It doesn’t, for example, allow you to put spider genes into maize plants.  It also has a very specific rule system for allowing recombination of DNA between related species. It is therefore a gradual process and does not involve the forced introduction of foreign DNA, antibiotic marker genes and naked cauliflower mosaic virus into its native DNA.

There’s little evidence that GM crop plants consistently give better yields, or that such yields can be sustained over many generations. There’s also little consistent evidence that GM crops are more nutritious and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that they are less nutritious and pose considerable health and environmental risks.

Then there’s the huge issue of who controls the seed supply. Biotech companies and pro-GM governments tell us that GM is the answer to food shortages in developing countries, as well being the most cost-effective way of producing cheap food for the developed world. But around 2 billion people on the planet today are subsistence farmers who rely on raising their own seed. GM takes this capability away from subsistence farmers and makes them depend on a small handful of biotech companies for their seeds. This concept flies in the face of all that has been learned about re-establishing self-sufficiency in rural communities in developing countries.

Might farmers be handing ownership of their seed to someone else if they accept GM?

The approach favoured by the biotech giants also flies in the face of findings on the state of agriculture made over 4 years of study by a collaboration of 400 scientists from 60 countries, which are detailed in a 2,500 page report—released in April 2008—as part of a UN project, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The executive summary of the report concludes that GM raises numerous contentious issues for developing countries, ranging from gene transfer, contamination of organic crops, undermining of local practices, reduced food security and unpredictable or reduced yields. In short, the scientists are saying that GM—at least in its present form—is not the solution to food shortages in the developing world.

Many developing countries have been at the forefront of resisting the shift to GM. Their governments, which by and large accepted agrochemicals in the past—many of which were banned in the west owing to their excessive health or environmental hazard—have not been so forgiving over GM. They are alive to the huge health and environmental risks. They understand the predicament it puts them in by becoming dependent on patented seeds from western biotech companies.

Large tracts of the Amazon rainforest, one of the most important areas of biodiversity in the world, is presently being flattened to make space for GM soyabeans to feed livestock in the western world. We have no idea what the consequences might be, but the existing evidence would suggest that widespread planting of GM crops poses a catalogue of potentially dire environmental risks.

One of the clearest pieces of evidence demonstrating the risk was a study in the US showing that pollen from GM maize kills Monarch butterflies.

Whatever happened to the precautionary principle that has helped to save many a whale, penguin and polar bear?

Is public opinion going to make GM redundant?

Although more and more countries are resisting increasing cultivation of GM, there is still enormous pressure from biotech companies which is being felt particularly at a governmental level.

The EU as a whole, and even some European countries that have previously supported the EU’s moratorium against further commercialization of GM, are becoming more pro-GM. This is particularly the case with the UK government.

It is clear that the biotech companies and governments are increasingly trying to prepare the public to be more amenable to accepting GM.

Do you know if there’s GMO’s in your food? Did the animal whose meat? you’re eating feed on GM soya or maize?

The World Trade Organization (WTO), the ‘policeman’ of global trade, regards the banning of GM as a barrier to trade and has been engaged in disputes with countries to restrict GM. Given that Europe has historically represented a big export market for agricultural products from the US and Canada, the US and Canadian governments, supported by the Argentinian government initiated a dispute against the European Union which is still ongoing.

Our key concern in Europe is that the European Commission itself is not fundamentally anti-GM. It is the public in Europe that represent the key opposition to GM—not the governments. In fact, although the European Commission doesn’t generally admit it, it is actually pro-GM. There is mounting evidence that the EU will slowly move into line with the US, to increase the number of GM registrations, to increase the land area within Europe given over to GM crop cultivation, and slip ever greater amounts of GM into our food. Leaked documents have revealed secret plans by the European Commission, and representatives of the 27 EU Member States to do just this.

Disconcertingly—as is so often the case in other matters—those at the tough end of the socio-economic scale will pay the highest price in health terms. This group tends to consume the largest amounts of processed foods, the perfect disguise for GM soya and maize products and derivatives.

At a global level, apart from the WTO from its pro-big corporate position as arbitrator over trade disputes, there is also considerable involvement of Codex.  The Codex Committee on Food Labelling, hosted by the pro-GM Canadian government, is providing the key battleground for governments, corporation-sponsored NGOs and consumer advocates to fight out labelling requirements for GM foods. There is a major and growing divide between those countries, headed by the US and Canada, that are pro-GM and opposed to compulsory labelling of GM ingredients in foods, and those, represented by some EU member States, many African and other developing countries, that are adamant that mandatory labelling of packaged foods is essential as a means of offering consumers choice. In other words, they support the fundamental human right—the right to knowledge.

Anything less than compulsory labelling, on the basis of the available evidence and the risks and uncertainty over GMOs is—in our view—criminally negligent.

Say No to GM

Remember: if you support the principles of natural health which serve to offer the body the appropriate internal and external environment to allow the optimal function of self-healing mechanisms within the body, ALWAYS say NO to GM! Anyone passionate about natural health has to say NO to GM.

That means making sure you know what you’re eating and buying, and making sure (as far as you can) that you are not knowingly consuming GM directly in your food or indirectly in meat produced from animals fed GM-soya or GM-maize. Presently buying organically certified food is one of the simplest ways of minimising your intake—but even this doesn’t necessarily eliminate your exposure altogether. It is particularly important for us to work to ensure that all children—who are especially susceptible to GMOs—are not unknowingly exposed to GM.

Help people to understand why we are faced with pro-GM spin from governments, regulatory agencies, international regulatory bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the World Trade Organization.

Work to ensure safety evaluations by regulatory authorities are massively extended and made transparent. Based on the current scientific evidence, no objective safety evaluation could ever approve the use of GM for release into the environment.

And don’t forget to tell as many people as you can—people you know or those you can reach out to—about GM and its very considerable risks.

Copy this link: http://www.anhcampaign.org/campaigns/say-no-to-gm

…and send it by email to the people you care about.

Some online resources relating to the GM controversy

Anti-GM websites

Arpad Pusztai’s Homepage
GM Freeze
GeneWatch?
GM Watch
Greenpeace ?
Friends of the Earth ?
Soil Association ?
Organic Consumers Association ?
Institute for Responsible Technology ?
Non-GM Farmers?
GMO Compass ?
GMO Safety ?
GM Free Ireland ?
GM Free Cymru (Wales)?
Institute of Science in Society?Lobbywatch.org?
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application for Science and Technology (PSRAST)

Pro-GM websites

Monsanto website / “conversations about plant biotechnology”?
European Association of Bioindustries?
Sense About Science / GM and Plant Science page?
Skeptico Blog on Genetic Engineering

In addition, the following links are to profiles created by Lobbywatch.org (UK author and journalist George Monbiot) about organisations that have been staunchly pro-GM:

Institute of Economic Affairs?
European Science and Environment Forum?
International Policy Network?
Sustainable Development Network?
Competitive Enterprise Institute?
American Enterprise Institute

Promoting independent research and public debate on the impacts of biotechnology

Testbiotech Institute for Independent Impact Assessment in Biotechnology

Multimedia

Presentation by Dr Robert Verkerk at Natural Products Europe 2009 in London (5th April 2009) on the risks of GM crops and food now on youtube. Go to news item and links.

Click here for an illuminating exchange between the UK’s minister for agriculture, Hilary Benn, and organic farming proponents, hosted by organic gardener Monty Don. (6th February 2009, London).  Reported by Sam Burcher of the Institute for Science in Society.


Reading

Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestsellers Seeds of Deception (2004, Green Books, Totnes, UK / Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA), and his latest book Genetic Roulette: The  Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (2007, Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA).

We strongly recommend all members of the public, academia and governments with concerns about GM foods to read both these books. They can be readily obtained through Amazon.

Alternatively, click here to discover more about the 65 health risks documented in Jeffery Smith’s book.


December 21, 2009

TOXIC WATERS

Filed under: Dr. Hulda R. Clark,toxic danger — Jan Turner @ 7:24 pm
Tags: , ,

This article from the NEW YORK TIMES is tied in with the previous article regarding Dr. Clark’ s research on Water.
Toxic Waters

That Tap Water Is Legal but May Be Unhealthy

Irfan Khan/The Los Angeles Times, via Associated Press

This Los Angeles reservoir contained chemicals that sunlight converted to compounds associated with cancer. The city used plastic balls to block the sun, but nearby homeowners asked why, if the water didn’t violate the law.

Published: December 16, 2009

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.


Toxic Waters

Outdated Laws: Articles in this series are examining the worsening pollution in American waters, and regulators’ response.

Examine whether contaminants in your water supply met two standards: the legal limits established by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the typically stricter health guidelines.

What’s in Your Water

The data was collected by an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, who shared it with The Times.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.

Other recent studies have found that even some chemicals regulated by that law pose risks at much smaller concentrations than previously known. However, many of the act’s standards for those chemicals have not been updated since the 1980s, and some remain essentially unchanged since the law was passed in 1974.

All told, more than 62 million Americans have been exposed since 2004 to drinking water that did not meet at least one commonly used government health guideline intended to help protect people from cancer or serious disease, according to an analysis by The Times of more than 19 million drinking-water test results from the District of Columbia and the 45 states that made data available.

In some cases, people have been exposed for years to water that did not meet those guidelines.

But because such guidelines were never incorporated into the Safe Drinking Water Act, the vast majority of that water never violated the law.

Some officials overseeing local water systems have tried to go above and beyond what is legally required. But they have encountered resistance, sometimes from the very residents they are trying to protect, who say that if their water is legal it must be safe.

Dr. Pankaj Parekh, director of the water quality division for the City of Los Angeles, has faced such criticism. The water in some city reservoirs has contained contaminants that become likely cancer-causing compounds when exposed to sunlight.

To stop the carcinogens from forming, the city covered the surface of reservoirs, including one in the upscale neighborhood of Silver Lake, with a blanket of black plastic balls that blocked the sun.

Then complaints started from owners of expensive houses around the reservoir. “They supposedly discovered these chemicals, and then they ruined the reservoir by putting black pimples all over it,” said Laurie Pepper, whose home overlooks the manmade lake. “If the water is so dangerous, why can’t they tell us what laws it’s violated?”

Dr. Parekh has struggled to make his case. “People don’t understand that just because water is technically legal, it can still present health risks,” he said. “And so we encounter opposition that can become very personal.”

Some federal regulators have tried to help officials like Dr. Parekh by pushing to tighten drinking water standards for chemicals like industrial solvents, as well as a rocket fuel additive that has polluted drinking water sources in Southern California and elsewhere. But those efforts have often been blocked by industry lobbying.

Drinking water that does not meet a federal health guideline will not necessarily make someone ill. Many contaminants are hazardous only if consumed for years. And some researchers argue that even toxic chemicals, when consumed at extremely low doses over long periods, pose few risks. Others argue that the cost of removing minute concentrations of chemicals from drinking water does not equal the benefits.

Moreover, many of the thousands of chemicals that have not been analyzed may be harmless. And researchers caution that such science is complicated, often based on extrapolations from animal studies, and sometimes hard to apply nationwide, particularly given that more than 57,400 water systems in this country each deliver, essentially, a different glass of water every day.

Government scientists now generally agree, however, that many chemicals commonly found in drinking water pose serious risks at low concentrations.

And independent studies in such journals as Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology; Environmental Health Perspectives; American Journal of Public Health; and Archives of Environmental and Occupational Health, as well as reports published by the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that millions of Americans become sick each year from drinking contaminated water, with maladies from upset stomachs to cancer and birth defects.

July 18, 2009

RFK, Jr – Deadly Immunity

First its my turn to discharge a little energy:

Everyone understands that the reason one gets vaccinations is to prevent a possible future illness.  Unless we have escaped from a padded room – there is no reason other than that.  This premise however, is not disconnected from the main thrust of the following article penned by one of our finest people,  Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  This comes from Salon.com and at the site, is accompanied by several other of his related articles, which I would recommend you   check out.  This is not about a small oversight or the FDA not  knowing what they are doing.  On the contrary, most of us do get it that this has been going on for decades in full awareness and by design to protect their own interests (Corporate) of greed and ascendancy of their power, which then grants them the control of people.

Folks, If we want that control back, it is going to take a major outcry and organized push of our own.  Between the Codex, the World Health Organization and our on-going loss of freedoms to exercise our basic medical choices, I feel we already live in the asylum and I’ll be damned if I can figure out how we let this get so far with millions still in denial.  Our government would NEVER allow that to happen.  Right!  There has been no-one minding the store for a long time now.  It is time to wake up and REALLY smell the coffee.    They have been poisoning our babies and toddlers for a long time.  This must stop.   Autism and other immune disorders are a recent vintage within the last 50 to 70 years and growing worse.  We need to have understanding,  facts (not hype),  common purpose and an intelligent action.  Read on

dividers41Salon.com

Deadly immunity

July 18, 2009

When a study revealed that mercury in childhood vaccines may have caused autism in thousands of kids, the government rushed to conceal the data — and to prevent parents from suing drug companies for their role in the epidemic.

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Jun 16, 2005 | In June 2000, a group of top government scientists and health officials gathered for a meeting at the isolated Simpsonwood conference center in Norcross, Ga. Convened by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the meeting was held at this Methodist retreat center, nestled in wooded farmland next to the Chattahoochee River, to ensure complete secrecy. The agency had issued no public announcement of the session — only private invitations to 52 attendees. There were high-level officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, the top vaccine specialist from the World Health Organization in Geneva, and representatives of every major vaccine manufacturer, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Wyeth and Aventis Pasteur. All of the scientific data under discussion, CDC officials repeatedly reminded the participants, was strictly “embargoed.” There would be no making photocopies of documents, no taking papers with them when they left.

The federal officials and industry representatives had assembled to discuss a disturbing new study that raised alarming questions about the safety of a host of common childhood vaccines administered to infants and young children. According to a CDC epidemiologist named Tom Verstraeten, who had analyzed the agency’s massive database containing the medical records of 100,000 children, a mercury-based preservative in the vaccines — thimerosal — appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in autism and a host of other neurological disorders among children. “I was actually stunned by what I saw,” Verstraeten told those assembled at Simpsonwood, citing the staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. Since 1991, when the CDC and the FDA had recommended that three additional vaccines laced with the preservative be given to extremely young infants — in one case, within hours of birth — the estimated number of cases of autism had increased fifteenfold, from one in every 2,500 children to one in 166 children.

Even for scientists and doctors accustomed to confronting issues of life and death, the findings were frightening. “You can play with this all you want,” Dr. Bill Weil, a consultant for the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the group. The results “are statistically significant.” Dr. Richard Johnston, an immunologist and pediatrician from the University of Colorado whose grandson had been born early on the morning of the meeting’s first day, was even more alarmed. “My gut feeling?” he said. “Forgive this personal comment — I do not want my grandson to get a thimerosal-containing vaccine until we know better what is going on.”

But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the officials and executives at Simpsonwood spent most of the next two days discussing how to cover up the damaging data. According to transcripts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, many at the meeting were concerned about how the damaging revelations about thimerosal would affect the vaccine industry’s bottom line.

“We are in a bad position from the standpoint of defending any lawsuits,” said Dr. Robert Brent, a pediatrician at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware. “This will be a resource to our very busy plaintiff attorneys in this country.” Dr. Bob Chen, head of vaccine safety for the CDC, expressed relief that “given the sensitivity of the information, we have been able to keep it out of the hands of, let’s say, less responsible hands.” Dr. John Clements, vaccines advisor at the World Health Organization, declared that “perhaps this study should not have been done at all.” He added that “the research results have to be handled,” warning that the study “will be taken by others and will be used in other ways beyond the control of this group.”

In fact, the government has proved to be far more adept at handling the damage than at protecting children’s health. The CDC paid the Institute of Medicine to conduct a new study to whitewash the risks of thimerosal, ordering researchers to “rule out” the chemical’s link to autism. It withheld Verstraeten’s findings, even though they had been slated for immediate publication, and told other scientists that his original data had been “lost” and could not be replicated. And to thwart the Freedom of Information Act, it handed its giant database of vaccine records over to a private company, declaring it off-limits to researchers. By the time Verstraeten finally published his study in 2003, he had gone to work for GlaxoSmithKline and reworked his data to bury the link between thimerosal and autism.

Vaccine manufacturers had already begun to phase thimerosal out of injections given to American infants — but they continued to sell off their mercury-based supplies of vaccines until last year. The CDC and FDA gave them a hand, buying up the tainted vaccines for export to developing countries and allowing drug companies to continue using the preservative in some American vaccines — including several pediatric flu shots as well as tetanus boosters routinely given to 11-year-olds.

The drug companies are also getting help from powerful lawmakers in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who has received $873,000 in contributions from the pharmaceutical industry, has been working to immunize vaccine makers from liability in 4,200 lawsuits that have been filed by the parents of injured children. On five separate occasions, Frist has tried to seal all of the government’s vaccine-related documents — including the Simpsonwood transcripts — and shield Eli Lilly, the developer of thimerosal, from subpoenas. In 2002, the day after Frist quietly slipped a rider known as the “Eli Lilly Protection Act” into a homeland security bill, the company contributed $10,000 to his campaign and bought 5,000 copies of his book on bioterrorism. Congress repealed the measure in 2003 — but earlier this year, Frist slipped another provision into an anti-terrorism bill that would deny compensation to children suffering from vaccine-related brain disorders. “The lawsuits are of such magnitude that they could put vaccine producers out of business and limit our capacity to deal with a biological attack by terrorists,” says Dean Rosen, health policy advisor to Frist.

Even many conservatives are shocked by the government’s effort to cover up the dangers of thimerosal. Rep. Dan Burton, a Republican from Indiana, oversaw a three-year investigation of thimerosal after his grandson was diagnosed with autism. “Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is directly related to the autism epidemic,” his House Government Reform Committee concluded in its final report. “This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding a lack of safety data regarding injected thimerosal, a known neurotoxin.” The FDA and other public-health agencies failed to act, the committee added, out of “institutional malfeasance for self protection” and “misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.”

July 1, 2009

Betrayal, Pain and Choice

When Pain Pills don’t help, or even kill us – why take them?

Hopefully, by now, you have come to expect that this is what I do.   It is clear that we are  not all alike,  and that is as it should be.  Maybe I do concern myself  too much about the deterioration of health-care in our country.   But I have been witnessing this for decades now and I see an acceleration of the speed and breadth of the action on higher levels over which we (you and I ) have no control.   Fortunately, our president is inclined to take appropriate action – – however, there is no way one man can do this alone.  He is well motivated and supremely intelligent, but the PUSH and IMPETUS must come from the people – – YOU  and ME.  Do we write our letters and make our phone calls to our congressmen and senators?  People, wake up! We are either “Citizens” of this great  country and willing to stand up and be counted, or we are willing sheep going where told to go.

Below, I start with an extracted blurb from Dr Mercola (7-1-09 newsletter).  He says it well in keeping with the fire I am feeling at the moment.  Then, a front page story from our Columbus Dispatch showing still one more ruse perpetrated on the unsuspecting public regarding the “safe”, highly recommended pain pills – “Tylenol” and/or acetaminophen.  Behind all this of course is the FDA and the obvious way they have run things with lack of ethics, proper testing and the disregard of the very thing they were entrusted to do in the first place – which is PROTECT OUR PEOPLE.  Instead, they have been in cahoots with  big business and corporate interests and betrayed us.  I’m fed up and you should be too.  Let Washington know that you expect better.  Tell them what you want.    We can do this.

Finally, I would suggest that I have already tried to put a bug in everyone’s ear about EFT.  I posted on it several times. This is because I have personally found great relief both physically and emotionally for  problems I seemed unable to cope with alone.  One is 4-13-09 simply called EFT and Tapping;  another is 4-24-09 “Lung Woes? – Check this out”;  Still another was on 5-13-09 – “Special Pain Relief” (my favorite).    In the event that one needs relief from  physiological problems and worry about the trustworthiness of drugs (pills), you might want to check this out as it is free,  non-toxic and can only help – at the very least you won’t be out anything and is won’t hurt you.                    Stay well, be happy with yourself.                     Jan

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Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Today, the battle is no longer for the freedom of the colonies. Instead, we are waging war against the forces that are threatening to take away our good health and well-being:

  • Businesses and media are propagating an unhealthy fast food culture where we see Americans literally stuffing themselves to death.
  • Profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies market dangerous drugs as “medicine.”
  • Self-serving healthcare and regulatory bodies are taking away our right to choose our own methods of healing.

Don’t allow yourself to be oppressed into a state of physical incapacity and depression. It’s time to join the health revolution and take back control of your health!

dividers41

Common painkiller could be reined in

FDA focuses on Tylenol, other drugs with acetaminophen

By Matthew Perrone
ASSOCIATED PRESS


ADELPHI, Md. — Government experts called for sweeping safety restrictions yesterday on the most widely used painkiller, including reducing the maximum dose of Tylenol and eliminating prescription drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet.

The Food and Drug Administration assembled 37 experts to recommend ways to reduce overdoses with acetaminophen, which is the leading cause of liver failure in the
U.S. and sends 56,000 people to the emergency room annually. About 200 die each year.
“We’re here because there are inadvertent overdoses with this drug that are fatal and this is the one opportunity we have to do something that will have a big impact,” said Dr. Judith Kramer of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
But over-the-counter cold medicines —
such as Nyquil and Theraflu — that combine other drugs with acetaminophen can stay on the market, the panel said, rejecting a proposal to take them off store shelves.
The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its panels, though it usually does. The agency gave no indication when it would act.
In a series of votes yesterday, the panel recommended 21-16 to lower the maximum 24-hour dose of over-thecounter acetaminophen from 4 grams, or eight pills, of a medication such as Extra Strength Tylenol. They did not specify how much it should be lowered.
The panel also endorsed limiting the maximum single dose of the drug to 650 milligrams. That would be down
from the 1,000-milligram dose, or two tablets of Extra Strength Tylenol.
A majority of panelists also said the 1,000-milligram dose should only be available by prescription.
The industry group that represents Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth and other companies defended the current
dosing that appears on overthe-counter products.
“I think it’s a very useful dose and one that is needed for treating chronic pain, such as people with chronic osteoarthritis,” said Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
The experts narrowly ruled
that prescription drugs that combine acetaminophen with other painkilling ingredients should be eliminated. They cited FDA data indicating that 60 percent of acetaminophen-related deaths are related to prescription products.
But some on the panel opposed a vast withdrawal of products that are widely used to control severe pain. Prescription acetaminophen combination drugs were prescribed 200 million times in 2008, the FDA said.
“To make this shift without very clear understanding of the implications on the management of pain would be a huge mistake,” said Dr. Robert Kerns of Yale University.
If the drugs stay on the market, they should carry a “black box” warning of serious risk, the panel decided.
“If we don’t eliminate the combination products, we
should at least lower the levels of acetaminophen contained in those medicines,” said Sandra Kewder, the FDA’s deputy director for new drugs.
Percocet and similar treatments combine acetaminophen with more powerful pain-relieving narcotics.
Vicodin is marketed by Abbott Laboratories, which has a strong presence in Columbus, while Percocet is marketed by Endo Pharmaceuticals.
Drug companies avoided the most damaging potential outcome with the defeat of a proposal to pull NyQuil and other over-the-counter cold and cough medicines that combine acetaminophen with other drugs.
These drugs can be dangerous when taken with Tylenol or other drugs containing acetaminophen, according to the FDA.

PAUL SAKUMA ASSOCIATED PRESS
An FDA panel has endorsed lowering the maximum dose of overthe-counter acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol, Excedrin and other drugs.

April 22, 2009

Sierra Nevada – Cut what?

Cut Down

Clearcutting in California’s Sierra Nevada

By Hallie Gardner

Like a giant red beetle, the machine grabs the pine tree with its claw, severs it from the ground in one, quick motion, shears off its branches, drops it to the ground and reaches out to devour the next tree. At a pace of under a tree a minute, one man and one machine rapidly ravage 20 acres of pristine Sierra Nevada forest, leaving a barren wasteland in their path. Timber companies have consumed over 200,000 acres of Sierra forest in this manner in the past 10 years, and the number keeps growing.

© Photos by Julie Ramsey

“People think that deforestation is only a serious problem in far-off places like the rainforests of South America,” says Addie Jacobson, a retiree from Arnold, California. “But it’s going on, on a massive scale, under the radar, right here in California.” Centered between Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, Arnold is a picturesque town in Calaveras County in the Sierra Nevada forests. Scattered houses punctuate the forest and bears, mountain lions and coyotes roam through backyards. Logging has been practiced in Arnold for centuries without protest, but in the summer of 2000, residents noticed an unusual abundance of logging trucks rumbling down Highway 4. Lumber giant Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) had begun clearcutting nearly 1,000 acres of forest next to downtown Arnold—part of their plan to clearcut over one million acres of Sierra forest, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

As opposed to selective timber harvesting, where only the trees used for lumber production are removed, in a clearcut, all of the vegetation is removed—with major repercussions. Native wildlife is endangered, water quality is degraded and extensive soil erosion increases the likelihood of severe forest fires. And studies show that clearcutting releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other forestry disturbance, including fire.

During the summer of 2000, as SPI clearcut the surrounding forest, Arnold residents filled community meetings to protest. Four teenage residents were arrested for chaining themselves together at SPI’s gates to block logging trucks. A group of local women called the Independence Hall Quilters made a quilt with 49 patches representing the land parcels slated for cutting. A black silk ribbon was sewn in an “x” across the patches as each parcel was lost to clearcutting.

That same summer, residents formed Ebbetts Pass Forest Watch (EPFW) to fight increased clearcutting. Jacobson is an active board member who’s developed a reputation among state legislators for her tenacity. “It just drew me in and I felt like it was something that needed to be stopped,” she says.

Witness to Ruin

Ron Szymanksi and Ron Schaner—Arnold area residents and volunteers for EPFW—drive a Jeep out to the clearcuts. Szymanksi, a former electrical engineer and an active member of the Boy Scouts, retired to the region in 2001. “I’m not against logging, only irresponsible logging,” he says. Schaner, a professional musician with salt-and-pepper hair, came to Arnold on a camping trip in 1974, fell in love with the woods and decided to stay. Szymanksi turns the Jeep onto a dusty dirt road that runs through state forest onto SPI’s land.

SPI owns a massive 1.7 million acres of California’s forests—making them the largest private landowners in California and the second-largest private landowners in the U.S. (after media mogul Ted Turner). The company is owned by billionaire timber baron Red Emmerson and is a family-run, non-publicly-held corporation. Most of their land holdings are in the Sierras, where they own three-fourths of all industrial timberland. In Calaveras County they own 74,000 acres of forest—approximately half of the county’s forested land.

Ponderosa pines dominate this landscape—tall, elegant, almost impossibly straight. “Life is all around you here and it’s all interrelated,” Schaner says, stepping from the Jeep onto a carpeting of pine needles. “But we’ve really distanced ourselves from it.” Further down the road is a stand of trees that Szymanksi calls a “beauty strip”—a narrow band of trees left to conceal the damage behind. Beyond the strip, the earth is completely torn up—littered with tree stumps and scarred with tractor tracks. The unprotected soil is parched. A mountainous “slash pile” over 20 feet high is filled with trees, wood debris and animal carcasses of no value to SPI, ready for burning.

After a forest is clearcut, logging companies typically use bulldozing and repeated, intensive herbicide applications to wipe out whatever manages to survive. Then they fertilize the area and replant it with rows of evenly spaced, same-age, same-species pine trees.

Among the herbicides employed on California clearcuts are hexazinone, simazine, atrazine, glyphosate, and 2,4-D—all of which pose hazards to water sources. Hexazinone, simazine and atrazine are banned in Europe due to the threats they pose to human health—including an increased risk of cancer and infectious disease. Glyphosate has been shown to be lethal to frog tadpoles and can cause abnormal behavior in fish. 2,4-D and atrazine have been linked to deformities, reproductive problems and mortalities in birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish. The danger of water contamination is of particular concern in the Sierras—the source of 60% of California’s water supply.

Once trees and other ground cover have been stripped out, their roots no longer hold soil in place. As a result, clearcut sites are vulnerable to rapid erosion after rainstorms. This causes heavy loads of silt and debris to end up in reservoirs, further degrading water quality.

According to Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, a single-species pine plantation contains 90 to 95% fewer species than the forest that preceded it. Clearcuts make it impossible for some species to migrate, find shelter or locate food. Half of California’s plants and animals make their home in the Sierras—including more than 400 species of terrestrial vertebrates and over 320 species of aquatic invertebrates. As tree plantations replace natural forests, much of this diversity is being damaged or destroyed.

SPI’s latest pine plantation looks more like a Christmas tree farm than a forest. The three-foot trees are an unnaturally bright hue of green—likely from the fertilizers, Schaner says. SPI’s plan is to convert 70% of their 1.7 million acres of diverse Sierra Nevada forest into monoculture tree farms like these.

“As far as SPI is concerned, if what they were doing was wrong it would be illegal,” says Szymanski.

Clearcutting has been practiced in California since the 1950s. But since 1994, it’s increased by 225%—in the Sierras (where SPI owns the majority of the landholdings) clearcutting has increased by 2,500%.

Perhaps the most catastrophic impact of clearcutting is its contribution to global warming. Deforestation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, second only to the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists estimate that deforestation is responsible for 25 to 30% of carbon emissions worldwide. Not only is carbon released during a clearcut, but also through subsequent soil erosion, the burning of logging debris and the sped-up decay of that debris due to the lack of canopy cover. Carbon is released into the atmosphere for years after the initial logging. A study in the journal Science found that clearcutting in the Pacific Northwest has resulted in a net increase of over 1.5 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere.

“Given what we know about climate change, what we are allowing to happen to the forests is totally irresponsible,” Schaner says.

Szymanksi says he has to limit his trips to the clearcuts. “Every time I go out here I get worked up,” he says. “It rekindles the sense of futility in me because things aren’t changing.”

Patchwork Below Dr. Rodger Orman, a physician and EPFW volunteer, offers plane rides over the clearcuts in his four-passenger Conna 182. “Driving around, if you don’t hike a lot, you might not notice the extent of the damage that has occurred,” he says. “From the air it’s unavoidable.”

On a clear day, visibility spans over 1,000 miles—from Mt. Diablo to the high Sierras. From this vantage point, Calaveras County looks exceptionally beautiful—green, forested hills interspersed by houses and golden fields. Over the SPI land, a checkerboard pattern of barren and forested land emerges. California state law mandates that a clearcut cannot exceed 40 acres in size and cannot occur on an adjacent parcel of land until a specific amount of regrowth has occurred. SPI defends their practices by pointing to the relatively small size of the sites that they are permitted to clearcut. “In other states they can cut up to 240 acres,” says SPI spokesperson Mark Pawlicki. “There is no state in the union that has more protective environmental standards than California.”

In the nearby town of Avery, Warren Alford lives on about 300 acres of forested land that has been in his family since his grandfather bought it in the 1930s. His property is bordered on two sides by SPI tree plantations. Alford’s family practices selection harvesting, which, if properly managed, can preserve forest ecosystems and produce timber forever. “When the logging is done it’s still a forest—not a tree farm,” he says. Today, Alford and landowners like him have to do costly treatments to defend their property from the hazards created by clearcutting on adjacent lands. In an attempt to mitigate risks like fire, insect infestations and disease, Alford thins out his property’s understory and plans to conduct controlled burns.

While fires are a natural part of forest ecology, tree plantations are far more susceptible to intense, destructive wildfires. The even height and spacing of the trees facilitates crown fires—powerful fires that jump from tree to tree with dangerous speed. And whereas an average of 40% of vegetation will survive natural forest fires, plantation fires usually result in 100% tree mortality.

Outbreaks of insects and disease are also far more likely in tree plantations. Plantations are much simpler ecosystems than old-growth forests, which have evolved over thousands of years to be resistant to pathogens. In the southeastern U.S., pine plantations have led to catastrophic outbreaks of the southern pine beetle.

According to SPI, their intent is to harvest their tree plantations in 50- to 80-year rotations. However, given the long-term disadvantages of clearcutting, Alford doesn’t think they really intend to harvest the plantations. “I think SPI will rezone the land and resell it for its most profitable use, which will likely be development,” he says. “They have a real manifest destiny type of mentality. Whack it, stack it and get out.”

SPI currently gives hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate donations to state, local and federal politicians every election cycle and is one of the top contributors to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. They have a seat on the nine-member board of the governor-appointed California Board of Forestry, a board that’s stacked with pro-industry people. “It’s one of those classic ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ kinds of situations,” says Jacobson.

And taxpayer dollars are helping to fund clearcutting. In the past decade alone, SPI has received tens of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies for logging interests. In its defense, the company alleges that clearcutting helps fight global warming due to the high carbon uptake rate of young, rapidly growing plantation trees—ignoring the fact that the amount of carbon sequestered by plantations is vastly outweighed by the amount of carbon lost when forests are clearcut. They also claim to be restoring wildlife habitat by replacing poor-growing trees with vigorous seedlings—disregarding the diverse habitat requirements of most wildlife.

A Sierra forest is worth much more than the cost of its timber. According to the “Sierra Nevada Wealth Index,” a report by the Sierra Business Council, “What defines the Sierra Nevada, more than any fact or figure, is the dramatic beauty and ecological uniqueness of our landscape…These natural wonders are our treasures; they are to California what the Pyramids are to Egypt, the Louvre to Paris, and the Golden Temple to Kyoto.” No one, in other words, can calculate the real long-term costs of clearcutting a forest.

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April 21, 2009

Toxic Tampons and Pads

GREEN LIVING

Toxic Shock!

How Safe are Feminine Hygiene Products?


by Aisha Ikramuddin

Many people remember the hundreds of tampon-related Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) cases in the early 1980s. Since then, warnings have been inserted in tampon boxes, and the safety of menstrual products has seldom been much of an issue. Yet there are still toxins in tampons and sanitary pads. And some of them, like dioxin and pesticides, may have grave long-term health and environmental consequences. “Most women want to trust that products will come up to some sort of standard, despite past problems,” says Liz Armstrong, author of Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women’s Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers.In 1992, a congressional subcommittee found that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to heed its own scientists’ 1987 recommendations to test the dioxin levels in tampons and sanitary pads after trace levels of dioxin were discovered. Residues of dioxin find their way into menstrual products as a byproduct of the bleaching process. Dioxins, ubiquitous in the environment, are produced through the chlorine bleaching of wood pulp. The chlorine used to produce rayon results in additional dioxin; most manufacturers of feminine hygiene products use rayon in tampons and wood pulp in sanitary pads for absorbency. “What people don’t understand is that it’s not just the product, but the manufacture of the product itself, that is an environmental and health issue,” says Susie Hewson, founder of Natracare, manufacturer of all-cotton tampons and sanitary pads.

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What Women Can Do

To “Stop the Whitewash”

There are an endless number of actions women can take to convince manufacturers to make chlorine-bleached sanitary products, “disposable” diapers and incontinence pads much more environment-friendly.
Here are just a few:

  • Call the toll-free 1-800 number on tampon and sanitary product boxes (in the case of Kimberly-Clark and Playtex, call collect) and demand that manufacturers get the chlorine out of their products
    (ALL the chlorine – chlorine gas, chlorine dioxide and hypochlorite)
    .

Don’t be fooled when tampon makers say they don’t use chlorine in their processes – they may not use chlorine on their own premises, but they do buy rayon (used in most tampon brands) from outside suppliers. Rayon is made in a highly-chlorinated process (although there is some chlorine-free rayon now on the market in Europe).

Don’t be fooled when sanitary napkin producers say that no dioxins and furans (from chlorine bleaching) are detected in their products. “Non-detect” does not mean zero. There are also hundreds of chlorinated compounds which have not yet even been identified in pulp mill effluent. Scientists still don’t know the full impact of these mystery substances on our ecosystems (and our bodies).

Follow up your telephone call with a letter, and insist on a response.

  • Tell the pharmacy or store where you buy sanitary products that you want these products to be totally chlorine-compound free.
  • Also demand that sanitary product manufacturers get the plastic out – eliminate plastic tampon applicators, poly-bagging and individually-wrapped sanitary napkins.
  • Sign and send a card to the Prime Minister or President – demanding better tampon standards, more responsible eco-labelling of products, elimination of chlorine bleaching in sanitary products.
    (In Canada, these cards are available from the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, 73 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario. Phone: 416-922-8744 or call WEED – 416-516-2600).
  • Talk about sanitary products with your friends, family and colleagues. (It’s about time these products – and the whole topic of menstruation – came out of the closet.) Discuss health issues including Toxic Shock Syndrome – which many women wrongly believe is past history – as well as environmental issues such as waste and toxic chemicals.
  • Ask all the major “feminine hygiene” companies to use their savvy to create an effective, REUSABLE product.
  • Try the reusable sanitary products already on the market. Things certainly have changed for the better since our grannies’ day! We now have automatic washers and dryers, for one thing, and the new generation of reusable sanitary products has come an enormously long way from “the rag” of yester-year.
  • Sign up of a diaper service for your baby (and yourself!). Environment Canada says good diaper services are even more ecologically sound than many home-washing methods, and so much less wasteful than “disposables“. Make sure the service you choose DOESN’T use chlorine bleach!
  • Most importantly, work together with other women to press for change. With our massive consumer clout, we can make a huge difference for the better!
    (And don’t forget to put pressure on politicians too…)
  • The WEED Foundation has “Stop the Whitewash” Action Kits for people and groups interested in fighting for a cleaner, less toxic environment. Send $2.50 (to cover postage) to the WEED Foundation, 736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4.

For more information, or to share YOUR ideas for action with US,
call the WEED Foundation in Toronto at (416)516-2600.

Get Your Community Involved Too!

It’s crucial to pass the message about toxic chlorine pollution (and mountains of waste!) along to as many women as possible. So here are a few more ideas:

  • Contact WEED for a speaker or workshop on the issue.
  • Hold your own public meeting. Speak to the PTA, your church/synagogue/temple group, to the Women’s Institute, or groups of friends and\and colleagues.
  • Ask your local libraries to obtain a copy of the HarperCollins book, WHITEWASH, by Liz Armstrong and Adrienne Scott.
  • Insist on unbleached or chlorine-compound-free paper products of all kinds
    (preferably with plenty of recycled content).
  • Organize a walk/rally/information seminar on the issue.
  • Contact your local MP /MPP (or other govt. representative) and tell them how you feel about “getting the chlorine out“.
  • Contact federal and provincial (or State) Environmental ministers.
  • Contact Status of Women ministers with your opinions about paper bleached with any chlorine-based compounds.

The publication of this material was made possible by a grant from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. The view and ideas expressed herein are those of the “Stop the Whitewash” campaign organizers and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

Stop the Whitewash and the Waste” is a project of the WEED Foundation.
To contact them for further information write:
736 Bathurst Street, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2R4 Phone: (416)516-2600 Fax: (416)531-6214.


Whitewash: Exposing the Health and Environmental Dangers of Women’s Sanitary Products and Disposable Diapers – What You Can Do About It” – by Liz Armstrong and Adrienne Scott. (Soft-cover, 196 pages, HarperCollins)
Susie Hewson

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Putting the “Care” into “Personal” Products

by Susie Hewson

Every year, over 45 billion feminine hygiene products are disposed of in the world. These products carry with them a very high plastic load. Because plastic is not biodegradable, it persists in the environment for centuries. The continuous dumping of such a notable amount of these products into landfills translates into 300 square feet every year! Incinerating these products is not a solution because that releases their toxins into our air.

How is it that products designated for “feminine hygiene” are so toxic? It is because about 90% of the materials used to make conventional pads or liners, as well as some marketed as “natural,” are made from crude oil. The production of crude oil-derived plastics, which includes polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyacrylate super absorbents (i.e., the material found in disposable diapers), releases large amounts of pollution like these ozone-depleting gases—nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, and carbon dioxide—into the environment. These toxins lead to cancer and birth defects in humans and cause the acidification of trees.

In addition, many companies claim to manufacture chlorine-free products. However, this chlorine-free claim can only accurately be made for those products bleached using hydrogen peroxide. Another toxic substance usually found in feminine hygiene products that women need to be aware of is dioxin, a by-product of chlorine bleaching. Also, most of today’s tampons contain synthetic materials such as rayon, a substance linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, a condition that associates high-absorbency tampons to strains of toxin-producing bacteria.

During the late 80s, women’s groups voiced their outrage at how feminine hygiene products were manufactured, their negative effects on the environment, and the implications of these on women’s health—a sentiment that resonated with Susie Hewson, the founder of Natracare. Inspired by the possibility of making a difference, Susie envisioned Natracare as a “can do” company, one with an attitude of initiating and facilitating innovation without ecological exploitation. Her vision led to the development of a full range of sanitary pads, liners, and certified-organic cotton tampons that are totally chlorine-free, devoid of crude oil-derived plastics, and made from sustainable and biodegradable materials.

Natracare continues its commitment to the use of organic cotton. The ultra pads and panty liners are manufactured with certified organic 100% cotton covers, and the feminine hygiene wipes are made from 100% organic cotton, plus organic and natural plant extracts for soothing moisture; further reflecting Natracare’s dedication to women’s health and the environment.

Currently under review for an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), the first in the world, Natracare can demonstrate and measure their products’ effects on the environment from raw material to end user. In addition to this EPD review, Natracare was awarded both the prestigious Nordic Eco-Label and a Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) certificate for sustainable and environmentally friendly products. In fact, Natracare greatly surpasses Nordic Eco-label standards and is gynecologist-recommended.

Natracare offers the perfect solution for women who care about their health and the environment.




This article provided compliments of Born to Love



March 14, 2009

Vaccine Injustice

(From Dr. Mercola)

Vaccine Makers Profit from

Government-Granted Immunity

Sources:

vaccine, vaccinationIn a building kitty-corner from the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue is a special “vaccines court” which hears cases brought by parents who claim their children have been harmed by routine vaccinations.

The court buffers makers of childhood-disease vaccines from much of the litigation risk that other drugmakers must face. It is an important reason why the vaccine business has been transformed from a low-profit venture in the 1970’s to one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most attractive product lines today.

The court operates because of a legal shield known as the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which was put into place in 1986 to encourage the development of vaccines. A spate of lawsuits against vaccine makers in the 1970’s and 1980’s had caused dozens of companies to get out of the business. Now, vaccines are big business. They will generate $21.5 billion in annual sales for their makers by 2012.

Critics of the program say a recent vaccine court ruling that routine childhood immunizations aren’t linked to autism underscored the limited recourse families have in claiming injury from vaccines. Many plaintiffs’ lawyers would prefer to take their lawsuits directly to civil court.

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Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
Prior to October 1, 1988, if you or your child were injured by a vaccine you were allowed to file a lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer to receive compensation for harm arising from the vaccine. Since that legislation passed anyone who is now injured  and wishes to receive compensation is required to apply through The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), the so-called “vaccine court,” prior to pursuing a lawsuit.

This program has boosted vaccine sales growth immensely — by 2015 it’s estimated that vaccinations will morph into a $21.5-billion industry — largely because they have ZERO liability for the products they produce.

If a child becomes seriously injured or even dies after receiving a vaccine, the vaccine makers are completely shielded — and IF they are ever awarded compensation through NVICP, it is the taxpayers who pay, not the vaccine makers.

Who is the Vaccine Court Really Looking Out For?

NVICP was “established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines.”

But when you read between the lines, you discover what this really means is that a program has been put into place to protect vaccine manufacturers (i.e. “ensure an adequate supply of vaccines”) and NOT to look out for those injured by vaccines.

According to Barbara Loe Fisher, one of the top vaccine experts in the world, who along with other vaccine-choice advocates is calling on Congress to revamp, and possibly even repeal, this fatally flawed program:

“During its two-decade history, two out of three individuals applying for federal vaccine injury compensation have been turned away empty-handed even though to date $1.8 billion has been awarded to more than 2,200 plaintiffs out of some 12,000 who have applied.”

Meanwhile, close to 5,000 vaccine-injury claims are sitting in limbo because they involve children who suffered brain and immune system dysfunction after vaccination and have been diagnosed with regressive autism.

Well, this is not a “compensable event” according to NVICP, so the children may be out of luck … despite the fact that a study by Harvard professor Michael Ganz found the lifetime cost of caring for a child with autism is more than $3 million.

And there are other problems as well.

Safety Provisions are Not Being Enforced

The Act signed into law in 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, contains strong safety provisions, including:

• First-time mandates for doctors to record and report serious health problems, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths after vaccination
• Mandates that doctors give parents written benefit and risk information before a child is vaccinated

Yet few of the safety provisions are being enforced. As Fisher said:

“There has been a betrayal of the promise that was made to parents about how the compensation program would be implemented.”

Case in point, claims heard by NVICP are supposed to be handled “quickly, easily and with certainty and generosity,” according to a House report accompanying the 1986 legislation, but many claims have taken years — more than 10 years — to be settled. Fisher continues:

“Obtaining compensation has become a highly adversarial, time-consuming, traumatic and expensive process for families of vaccine-injured children, and far too many vaccine victims have been denied compensation.
Meanwhile, vaccine makers and doctors have enjoyed liability protection and dozens of doses of nine new vaccines have been added to the childhood vaccine schedule.”

If a family is finally able to receive compensation through the program, what can they expect? According to the program’s guidelines:

• The system will offer to pay up to $250,000 for a vaccine-associated death.

• The system will offer to pay for all past and future unreimbursed medical expenses, custodial and nursing home care; up to $250,000 pain and suffering; and loss of earned income.

This is clearly inadequate compensation and clearly far too late.

Further, the system is funded by a surcharge on each dose of vaccine sold. The doctors pay the tax initially when they purchase the vaccines, but this is passed right down to the parents of the child. So not only are the vaccine manufacturers shielded from potential lawsuits, they are not even responsible for paying one cent of the claims filed against them — the consumers of their products are

Even the lawyers who fight against the families who have filed claims with the system are full-time government attorneys, employed solely for the purpose of battling to defend the vaccine manufacturers. The vaccine makers don’t even have to pay their own legal defense fees!

Such a sweet deal. Try to find any other business that is insulated from the perverted U.S. legal system and you will likely come up with a blank.

Do You Want to Help Support Vaccine Safety Reform?

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which was co-founded by Barbara Loe Fisher, is the American vaccine safety watchdog. They are currently being flooded with vaccine reaction reports and parents reporting that their vaccine exemptions are being pulled or becoming increasingly difficult to obtain.

I highly recommend you consider supporting the NVIC in their efforts to raise awareness about these vital issues and implement vaccine safety reform.

As I’ve stated before, I’m not anti-vaccine, but rather pro-vaccine safety and choice.

I question vaccines’ compulsory nature along with the very limited recourse parents have if their child is injured. You may also not be aware that if your child is vaccinated according to the CDC’s recommended schedule, by the time your child starts kindergarten he or she will have received 48 doses of 14 vaccines. Of these, 36 doses will be given during the first 18 months of life.

Well, public health officials have NEVER proven that it is indeed safe to inject this number and volume of vaccines into infants. And I believe parents have the right to know such information before making a decision on whether or not to vaccinate.

Related Links:

A Vaccine Form You Can Give to Your Pediatrician

March 10, 2009

The Corn Shame

Conservative George Will does not waste time getting to a point or prettying things up and I was frankly surprised to find him in discussion on this important subject.  (One I have covered and will no doubt, continue to do).  George’s fine intellect and analysis is most generally seen on the Sunday morning political  talk shows.  So it is with pleasure I welcome him to our little corner of the world where we try to help ourselves with ever-increasing awareness of the things which affect our lives so deeply by contributing to our health or states of disease.

Corn-based food system is making U.S. unhealthy

George F. Will writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.

photo

 


Tom Vilsack, Iowa’s former governor, calls his “the most important department in government,” noting that the Agriculture Department serves education through school-nutrition programs and serves diplomacy by trying
to wean Afghanistan from a poppy-based (meaning heroin-based) economy. But Vilsack’s department matters most because of the health costs of the American diet. If Michael Pollan is right, the problem is rooted in politics and, in a sense, Iowa.
Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, says that after World War II the government had a huge surplus of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient of explosives — and fertilizer. Furthermore, pesticides could be made from ingredients of poison gases. Since 1945, the food supply has increased faster than America’s population — faster even than Americans can increase their feasting.


Agricultural commodity prices generally fall. But when a rare surge in food prices gave the Nixon administration a political scare, government policy, expressed in commodity subsidies, has been, Pollan writes, to sell “large quantities of calories as cheaply as possible,” especially calories coming from corn.


“All flesh is grass” says Scripture. Much of the too-ample flesh of Americans (three of five are overweight; one in five is obese) comes from corn, which is a grass. A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain processed corn. Fossil fuels are involved in the planting, fertilizing, harvesting, transporting and processing of the corn. America’s food industry uses about as much petroleum as America’s automobiles do.


During World War II, when meat, dairy products and sugar were scarce, heart disease plummeted. It rebounded when rationing ended. “When you adjust for age,” Pollan writes, “rates of chronic diseases like cancer and Type 2 diabetes are considerably higher today than they were in 1900.” Type 2 diabetes — a strange epidemic: one without a virus, bacteria or other microbe — was called adult-onset diabetes until children began getting it. Now it is a $100 billion-a-year consequence of, among other things, obesity related to a corn-based diet, which is partly because steaks and chops have pushed plants off the plate.


Four of the top 10 causes of American deaths — coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer — have, Pollan says, “well-established links” to diet, particularly through “the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat.” What he calls America’s “national eating disorder” is not just the fact that Americans reportedly eat one in five meals in cars (gasoline stations make more from food and cigarettes than from gasoline) and that one in three children eats fast food every day. He also means the industrialization of agriculture, wherein we developed a food chain that derives too much of its calories — energy — not from the sun through photosynthesis but from fossil fuels.


In 1900, Vilsack says, Iowa’s population was larger than California’s and Florida’s combined. But it is the only state whose population did not double in the 20th century. Yet Iowa’s fewer farmers, planting (as government has exhorted) “fence-row to fence-row” and deploying an arsenal of chemical fertilizers, can tickle five tons of corn from an acre.


Corn, which covers 125,000 square miles of America — about the size of New Mexico — fattens 100 million beef cattle, and at least that many bipeds. Much of the river of cheap corn becomes an ocean of high-fructose corn syrup, which by 1984 was sweetening Coke and Pepsi. Disposing of the corn also requires passing it through animals’ stomachs. Corn, together with pharmaceuticals and other chemicals — a Pollan axiom: “You are what what you eat eats, too” — has made it profitable to fatten cattle on feedlots rather than grass, cutting by up to 75 percent the time from birth to slaughter. Eating corn nourished by petroleum-based fertilizers, a beef cow consumes almost a barrel of oil in its lifetime.


Vilsack’s department is entwined with the food industry that produces a food supply unhealthily simplified by the dominance of a few staples such as corn. This diet, Pollan says, has made many Americans both overfed and undernourished.
Hippocrates enjoined doctors, “Do no harm.” He also said something germane to a nation that is harming itself with its knives and forks: “Let food be thy medicine.” That should be carved in stone over the entrance to Vilsack’s very important department.

March 5, 2009

Vaccine Studies/Pharma bias

. . . . .  .new from Dr. Mercola:


Vaccine Studies: Under the Influence of Pharma

vaccine, NVIC, medical journals, science, studiesBy Barbara Loe Fisher

If you take more than a casual look at the way the mass vaccination system in the U.S. works, you see that pharmaceutical companies marketing vaccines have a lot of clout.

It was the pharmaceutical industry that told Congress in 1982 that they were going to leave the nation without vaccines if they didn’t get liability protection but have opposed making it less difficult for vaccine victims to obtain federal compensation in the U.S. Court of Claims under a 1986 law that gave them liability protection.

It is Pharma lobbyists, who bully the FDA into fast tracking vaccines like Gardasil and who sit at the CDC’s policymaking tables urging that new vaccines be recommended for use by all children so they can persuade state legislators to mandate vaccines like influenza vaccine.

How Big Pharma Influences Medical Journals

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal reveals the clout that Big Pharma has in the world of medicine journal publishing, specifically the publishing of scientific articles about vaccines. In a Cochrane Collaboration review and analysis of published influenza vaccine studies found that influenza vaccine studies sponsored by industry are treated more favorably by medical journals even when the studies are of poor quality.

This analysis confirms that drug companies marketing vaccines have a major influence on what gets published and is said about vaccines in medical journals. It is no wonder that there are almost no studies published in the medical literature that call into question vaccine safety.

The preferential treatment of Pharma-funded studies also explains why the risks of an inappropriately fast-tracked vaccine like Gardasil are underplayed in the medical literature and why a physician like Andrew Wakefield, M.D. who dared to publish a study in 1998 in a medical journal (The Lancet) calling for more scientific investigation into the possible link between MMR vaccine and regressive autism, has been mercilessly persecuted for more than a decade, by both Pharma-funded special interest groups, as well as public health officials maintaining close relationships with vaccine manufacturers.

Study Finds No Correlation Between Quality of Study and Publication

This recent review identified and assessed 274 published studies on influenza vaccines for their methodological quality and found no relationship between study quality, publication in prestige journals or their subsequent citation in other articles.

The researchers also found that most influenza vaccine studies are of poor quality but those with conclusions favorable to influenza vaccinations are of significantly lower methodological quality. The single most important factor determining where the studies were published or how much they were cited was sponsorship, with those partially or wholly funded by the pharmaceutical industry having higher visibility.

The authors commented:

“The study shows that one of the levers for accessing prestige journals is the financial size of your sponsor. Pharma sponsors order many reprints of studies supporting their products, often with in house translations into many languages. They also purchase advertising space in the journal. Many publishers openly advertise these services on their website. It is time journals made a full disclosure of their sources of funding”.

The HPV Vaccine — Just One Example of Inappropriate Influence Endangering Public Health

Last month the National Vaccine Information Center (www.NVIC.org) called on the Obama Administration and Congress to investigate Gardasil vaccine risks. NVIC has long questioned the inappropriate influence of vaccine manufacturers in federal vaccine licensing and policymaking and state vaccine mandates.

In 2006, Merck’s Gardasil vaccine was fast tracked by the FDA at Merck’s request and in 2007 Merck lobbyists mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign to get Gardasil mandated by state legislators for all sixth grade girls, which would have assured the big drug company a predictable market.

The Pharma lobbying effort in 2007 to get all states to mandate Gardasil failed but every other vaccine produced by drug companies and licensed by the FDA in the past quarter century has been mandated. Those new mandates were added to state vaccine laws by legislators and public health officials at the urging of vaccine manufacturer lobbyists and Pharma funded organizations touting vaccine studies published in the medical literature.

Massive Increase in Number of Vaccines Given

In the past three decades, the numbers of doses of government recommended vaccines for children and medical organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics has tripled to 69 doses of 16 vaccines, with 48 doses of 14 vaccines targeted to children under age six.

Pharma lobbyists have persuaded most states to pass laws requiring two to three dozen doses of most of the 16 government recommended vaccines. Last year New Jersey became the first state to mandate influenza vaccine for children attending daycare and school.

In the past few years, Dr. Jefferson has authored several independent reviews of influenza studies published in the medical literature for the Cochrane Collaboration, which have been published in the British Medical Journal, questioning the quality of published scientific evidence for influenza vaccine effectiveness and safety for the elderly as well as children.

Clearly, if the makers and marketers of vaccines can influence the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence published in the medical literature proving that vaccines are safe and effective — evidence that is used by states to mandate vaccines and by the U.S. Court of Claims to deny compensation to vaccine injured children — then Congress was wrong in 1986 to protect the makers and marketers of vaccines from liability for injuries and deaths caused by those vaccines.

Government Vaccine Recommendations Based on Tainted Evidence

The U.S. Court of Claims vaccine injury compensation awards, and state vaccine mandates are justified on the strength of scientific published in medical journals.

It is time for medical journals to disclose all financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. It is time for studies questioning the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to receive a fair hearing in scientific journals rather than editors confining themselves to primarily publishing studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry maintaining that every vaccine is totally safe, effective and necessary.

Kudos to the British Medical Journal for having the integrity to publish  Dr. Jefferson’s comprehensive analysis of pharmaceutical money influence on vaccine studies published in the medical literature. Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the scientific community, Congress and the public to put an end to the undue influence the pharmaceutical industry has on the science and policy of mass vaccination in the U.S.

Dr. Mercola''s Comments Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has hit it on the head with this article. There are many disturbing issues at work behind and beneath the vaccine research that actually ends up seeing the light of day.

For example, the peer review process, which is the basic method for checking medical research to see if it’s fit to publish, is not without serious flaws.

For one, it’s almost impossible to find out what happens in the vetting process as peer reviewers are unpaid, anonymous and unaccountable. And although the system is based on the best of intentions, it lacks consistent standards and the expertise of the reviewers can vary widely from journal to journal.

This leaves the field wide open to reviewers to base their decisions on their own prejudices. And more often than not, there is a distinct tendency to let flawed papers through if their conclusion is favorable for the vaccine.

As Dr. John Ioannidis (see below) has previously stated, there appears to be an underlying assumption that scientific information is a commodity, and hence, scientific journals are a medium for its dissemination and exchange.

When scientific journals function in this manner, it has major consequences for the entire field of science and medicine, and ultimately for you and your family’s health – especially in the case of vaccines, as many wind up being mandated for all children.

While idealists will likely not agree with this viewpoint, realists can acknowledge that journals generate revenue and build careers. Publication is also critical for both drug development and marketing, which are needed to attract venture capital.

So, sad to say, it is ever so clear that the current system is highly susceptible to manipulation of both pocketbooks and ego’s.

Scientific Claims — A 50/50 Chance of Being True

Back in 2005, Dr. John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Ioannina School of Medicine, Greece, showed that there is less than a 50 percent chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper will be true.

Dr. Ioannidis did it again just last year, showing that much of scientific research being published is highly questionable. According to that analysis, the studies most likely to be published are those that oversell dramatic or otherwise considered important results.

Results that oftentimes turn out to be false later on.

Prestigious journals boast that they are very selective, turning down the vast majority of papers that are submitted to them. The assumption is that they therefore publish only the best scientific work.

But Dr. Ioannidis study of 49 papers in leading journals, which had been cited by more than 1,000 other scientists — in other words, well-regarded research — showed that within only a few years, almost a third of the papers had been refuted by other studies.

Making matters worse, the “hotter” the field, the greater the competition, and the more likely that published research in top journals could be wrong.

Who’s Paying for the Science?

One of the simple ways to evaluate how likely any manipulation has occurred is to track down who financed the study. The reason you want to do this is likely very obvious as it’s well known that studies funded by industry or conducted by researchers with industry ties tend to favor corporate interests.

This makes perfect logical sense if you consider that no one in their right mind would pay for a study, and then make sure it gets disseminated it if it turned out the drug or vaccine in question was ineffective, or worse, downright dangerous.

However sometimes this will be difficult to do as the funding is cleverly disguised through benign or even philanthropic-sounding front names.

What Does This Mean to Your Health?

First of all, you need to realize that medical journals have enormous influence on which drugs doctors prescribe, the treatment hospitals provide, and the vaccines that your child will be exposed to.

As Fisher explains above, more and more vaccines are being mandated based on the studies presumably showing them to be “safe and effective.” This is a travesty, and an absolute disaster for our youth.

Here are some other ways this flawed system of publishing industry-tainted science can, and does, influence medicine and your health:

  • Drug prescription deaths accounted for 95 percent of all unintentional and undetermined poisoning deaths in 2004
  • “Preventive” drugs and vaccines for everything from cancer to dental caries are on the rise, which, of course, are prescribed to perfectly healthy people
  • Pharmaceutical companies are also pushing for more and more non-logical uses of their drugs, such as administering the HPV vaccine to young boys, even though they do not have the prerequisite anatomy to contract the disease
  • Death attributed to psychotherapeutic drugs (anti-depressants and sedatives) nearly doubled, from 671 to 1,300 deaths between 1999 and 2004
  • State mandated drugging of children as young as three years old with psychiatric drugs is now on a steady rise
  • In January 2006, the FDA put in place the preemption protection scheme that bans private lawsuits against drug companies and physicians in state courts, once a drug has achieved the FDA’s stamp of approval

What Can You Learn From This?

When evaluating health news, it is wise to be cautious even if it’s published in a scientific journal. You must come to the realization that YOU are responsible for your, and your family’s, health; not me, not your doctor, and certainly not drug companies that try to convince you that your child not only needs every single vaccine mandated — and that every single one is safe — in order to sell their wares.

Remember, medicine is a business. And so are the journals publishing the science used as the basis for medicine and as such they are highly susceptible to major conflicts of interests because of the very large sums of money involved here.

Related Links:

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