UK Ministers keen to fast-track fracking

Whitehall sources have confirmed that UK Ministers want to allow gas companies to run shale gas pipelines under privately owned land in order to boost fracking. The companies will still need planning permission but, as part of an Infrastructure Bill, will not be breaking any trespass laws by installing pipes. The prime minister's official spokesman has said, "Fracking is something that is very new, certainly in this country, which is why we are looking to see whether there are particular obstacles to the test drilling." They are eager to remove these obstacles, and safeguard test-drilling for fracking from "an overburden of red tape and regulation". The Infrastructure Bill will give landowners the right to compensation, and the gas corporates free slather without the burden of red tape or obstruction from citizens concerned about the cost to the planet and everything on it.

Pharma giants in multi billion dollar drug deals 

In a complicated three-way deal, pharmaceutical giants Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Eli Lilly have traded more than £15bn of drug assets in order to “….improve [their] financial strength” and “add to [their] growth rates and margins immediately.” Novartis is to acquire GlaxoSmithKline’s cancer drugs, GSK is buying up Novartis’ vaccines division, excluding the flu unit, and Novartis is selling its animal health division to Eli Lilly. The downplayed deal involved 500 lawyers and many financial advisors and it’s believed will “reshape the Mergers and Acquisitions market.” With these initial deals paving the way, we can expect more asset swaps on the cards for discussion behind closed boardroom doors.

Ginseng extract might help fight flu

New research shows that consumption of Ginseng, or more specifically Panax Korean red ginseng extract, might help prevent influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Given the traditional history of use for the herb, ginseng, as an anticancer, anti-inflammatory and immune modifier, Sang-Moo Kang, Associate Professor at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, investigated whether red ginseng extract is effective at preventing influenza A virus infection. The study concluded that ginseng may have potential beneficial effects by acting on the immune system in multiple ways; reducing the expression of pro-inflammatory genes, stimulating anti-viral protein production after flu virus infection, inhibiting the infiltration of inflammatory cells into the lungs, and improving the survival of human lung epithelial cells.

Fruit in Europe is safer

The US Environmental Working Group (EWG) are becoming increasingly concerned about a plant growth regulator called DPA (diphenylamine) used to preserve apples. A European ban from 2012 took effect last month, and the allowable levels of DPA on imports has been reduced to 0.1ppm. This follows findings from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) saying that carcinogenic compounds can form if DPA is combined with a source of nitrogen—which is very possible during storage or when the fruit is processed. Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior scientist, said “The question we have is 'is this safe? When the EU took another look at DPA, they realized they couldn’t ensure that consumers would be completely protected from risk, and in this case, it’s cancer. Europe has stepped away from this chemical completely.” The US Apple Association declare DPA is extremely safe, but it’s estimated that the EU’s move could cost US apple growers $20 million in exports.

Congress ratchets up the stakes in US GM labelling war

The US Chamber of Congress has waded into the genetically modified (GM) food-labelling fray as they prepare to consider a bill that would ban US states from passing food labelling laws. If passed, the bill would mean that the law regarding the labelling of GM foods that was passed in Vermont this month, would be invalid. The National Grocers Association is considering suing Vermont for an unconstitutional infringement of food companies' free speech, and Louis Finkel, the vice president of government affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, has commented “When the government mandates labeling, it is trying to convey information about health, safety and nutrition. Mandatory labeling for GMOs [genetically modified organisms] is not justified and would be misleading.”  A view that can only be held if one ignores the potential health risk posed from consuming GM foods. Speaking as an advocate for concerned consumers, Mr Faber, counters by saying, “The struggle over food labeling is a referendum on the right of people to make choices for their families. It is to protect consumers from deception.”

UK campaign for lifesaving Vitamin B12

Those suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency and autoimmune pernicious anaemia in the UK are restricted to a dangerously low maintenance dose of only four essential hydroxycobalamin injections per year. That's if they are lucky enough to have been diagnosed correctly in the first place. Now a B12 deficiency awareness group in the UK, with the backing of well known B12 US campaigner Sally Pacholok, have set up a "B12 for Life Please" petition addressed to the CEO of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). They are petitioning to have the Prescription Only Medicine (POM) classification removed from what is an extremely safe, and cheap, injectable form of vitamin B12. The change in classification would enable the injections to be freely available to UK patients over the counter, as they are elsewhere in Europe, and in the same way as insulin is for diabetics. 


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