March Against Monsanto, no GM for Chinese army, GMO Myths and Truths, GSK scandal, bees and pesticides, sugar, eating habits, antibiotics in fruit farming
Say No to GMO and March Against Monsanto!
May 2014 sees another wave of protest marches worldwide against Monsanto, the biotech giant responsible for bringing us genetically modified (GM) foods. Aptly named ‘March Against Monsanto’, the protests aim to raise awareness of the hazards associated with GM and increase momentum towards further bans. There have been some very positive gains recently in terms of bans on cultivation and bills that require mandatory labelling for foods that contain genetically modified organisms. However, these are really still baby steps given the mounting evidence for health and environmental harm. Anybody wanting to get involved should visit the website page and find out whether there is a march near you. The one in London takes place this Saturday (24th May 2014), setting off from Richmond Terrace at 1pm (13:00). If you’re planning to attend the London MAM, do stick around afterwards to listen to some very bright scientific lights inspiring you to further action — Robert Verkerk PhD, ANH-Intl’s executive and scientific director will be amongst them! Please also share the details widely amongst your networks.
Chinese army says No to GMO
In addition to the global March Against Monsanto protests, May also sees the Chinese army initiating a ban on all genetically modified (GM) grain and oil! It is anticipated that the Chinese government will ban all imports of GM foodstuffs over the next 2 years due to health and safety concerns, with this being the first step in China’s GM-free direction. Former vice president of the China Academy of Military Science doctoral tutor and lieutenant general, Mi Zhen-yu, said that China imported more than 63 million tons of GM soybeans from the US and other countries in 2013. Clearly not a decision that’s been taken lightly and one that will have significant reverberations through the biotech industry. He continues that, “During the past 20 years, the health level of the Chinese people has rapidly deteriorated with various diseases rapidly increasing. The situation is shocking.” Founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!, Dave Murphy said, “The question is, what does the Chinese military know about GMOs and the negative impact of Roundup that the US government is not telling us?”
Busting the ‘GM feeds the world’ myth
Genetic engineers Dr John Fagan, Dr Michael Antoniou and researcher Claire Robinson have released the second edition of their “GMO Myths and Truths”. In it Dr Fagan shares the news that, “…GMOs are not needed to feed the world. The report shows that there are far better ways of ensuring a safe and sustainable food supply.” On GMOs and their associated pesticides, Dr Michael Antoniou says, “An increasing number of studies are showing problems with GMOs and their associated pesticides, such as Roundup. There is evidence that Roundup, even at the low levels permitted in food and drinking water, could lead to serious effects on health over time, such as liver and kidney toxicity.” They are definitely not alone in their thinking. In October 2013 a scientific consensus was signed by scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines relevant to the scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of GMOs rejecting the notion that they are safe and hazard-free.
GSK bribery scandal – again!
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been accused by Chinese police of ordering employees to commit bribery on a widespread scale. Following £320m worth of bribes at all levels within the healthcare system, state news agency Xinhua has issued a notice to other companies saying, “GSK's practices eroded its corporate integrity and could cause irreparable damage to the company in China and elsewhere. The case is a warning to other multinationals in China that ethics matter." With these new allegations, the leader of GSK’s China business, Mark Reilly, is under investigation and not allowed to leave China. GSK have admitted that they found some wrongdoing, but are adamant its down to people outside of their company and therefore out of their control.
Bees are under serious threat from neonicotinoids
New research published in the Bulletin of Insectology has confirmed the link between neonicotinoid pesticides and bee colony collapse disorder (CCD). The study extends research from a previous 2012 study and shows that “sub-lethal exposure of neonicotinoids, imidacloprid or clothianidin, affected the winterization of healthy colonies that subsequently leads to CCD.” In 2013 European Member States voted for a ban that includes 3 neonicotinoid pesticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam – which is initally set to last two years, therefore end in December 2015. The study also reinforces that CCD often happens within the winter months and raises two important questions. One, why do neonicotinoid-treated colonies lose their ability to renew brood rearing toward the end of winter when temperatures began to rise? And two, why do honey bees vanish from neonicotinoid-treated colonies during the winter? Lead author Chensheng Lu said, “Although we have demonstrated the validity of the association between neonicotinoids and CCD in this study, future research could help elucidate the biological mechansim that is responsible for linking sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposures to CCD.”
Fruit juice and cereals largest sugar burden for kids
UK Government advice now recognises that children should be limited to a single glass of fruit juice a day in a bid to curb childhood obesity. Sugar in fruit juices, cereals and fizzy drinks are the chief culprits responsible for increasing sugar intakes to dangerous levels. Cereal bars, thought to be a healthier option to chocolate and biscuits, are also very high in sugar. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey by Public Health England showed little change in people’s eating habits between 2008 and 2012 despite an increase in obesity and emerging guidelines from the government regarding a healthy diet. Action on Sugar is a campaign group of specialists seeking to reach a consensus with the food industry and Government over the harmful effects of a high sugar diet and implement reductions. Kawther Hashem a nutritionist with Action on Sugar, comments that, “It is highly concerning that many parents are still buying fruit juices, soft drinks and cereal products for their children thinking they are choosing healthier products, only to find these items are laden with excess sugar and calories.”
Give up grazing for better health
A study published in Diabetologia supports the growing body of evidence that eating fewer, slightly bigger meals is better than grazing all day long or eating little and often. The research claims that two substantial meals a day is better at controlling weight and blood sugar levels than six small meals a day with significant benefits for anyone with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes. The study looked at 54 patients, split into two groups, aged between 30 and 70 who were being treated for type 2 diabetes. Each ate a diet containing 500 calories less than the recommended daily amount - one group ate 6 small meals a day and the other a large breakfast and large lunch. The groups then swapped. The results showed that although body weight fell in both diets – there was a greater loss for those eating the two substantial meals a day. Liver fat levels mirrored the same result, and subjects showed more beneficial levels of the hormone glucagon, which is a protein involved in insulin synthesis and blood sugar balance. More studies like this are recommended to support the mass of anecdotal evidence and clinical observation on calorie restriction and less meal frequency.
No more antibiotics on US organic apples and pears
You may be surprised to learn that it was only earlier this month that the US National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to end the use of antibiotics on organic apples and pear production. Up until this time streptomycin has been allowed for use to fight a persistent bacteria that threatens organic apple and pear orchards. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) prevents the use of antibiotic use in meat and dairy production, but up until recently it was still allowed in US organic apple and pear farming. Getting this result wasn’t an easy win. The US Organic Consumers Association (OCA) worked hard to block a move by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) in the phase out of synthetic and non-organic materials from organic food. One of the organisers representing March Against Monsanto-San Antonio, Cynthia Kurkowski, said, “Organic has to be a system people trust.” The Center for Food Safety (CFS) feels it has taken too long for antibiotics to be eradicated from organics “given their inherent incompatibility with organic systems.”