March Against Monsanto, GM crop gets the go ahead, statins, sweet move by Tesco, labelling of irradiated food, PlantLIBRA, sugar-laden ready meals, homeopathy, glucosamine, and robobees
Robert Verkerk PhD speaks at 3rd global anti-GMO protest
ANH-Intl executive and scientific director, Dr Robert Verkerk, addressed GM protestors in London on Saturday 24th May as part of the 3rd massive global March Against Monsanto. The event took place in over 400 cities around the world with protestors of all ages and all walks of life making a stand against GMOs and big biotech, namely Monsanto. Dr Verkerk spoke about Monsanto cronyism, seed control, food contamination, and the importance of taking action for the sake of all our children and their future. After the march, protesters gathered in Whitehall, opposite 10 Downing Street, where key speakers addressed the assembled crowd.
Dr Robert Verkerk speaking at the March Against Monsanto in London
Salient points from Dr Verkerk’s interview with RT.com the day before the march include the fact that, “GMOs are effectively polluting non-GMO agriculture. In every other facet of our lives polluters must pay. This is one very unique example where the polluter doesn’t pay any penalty, and everyone else pays instead”, and that, “…we will not see a change until we see a more widespread recognition that GMOs are in fact a polluting agent”. “The GMO and biotech interest groups work very hard to try and prove that there is no significant difference between the health effects of consuming GM foods versus non-GMO foots by controlling research and damning research that might oppose to what they are saying.”
EFSA gives go ahead to GM crop
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has delivered another positive scientific opinion for a Monsanto GM product. This time it’s for Monsanto’s MON 87769 soybean crop, which has been genetically modified (GM) to contain stearidonic acid. Stearidonic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid and the precursor to EPA and DHA, both essential polyunsaturated fats normally derived in the diet from oily fish, flax seeds and walnuts. EFSA reported that its “…GMO Panel considers that the information available for soybean MON 87769 addresses the scientific issues indicated by the Guidance document of the EFSA GMO Panel and the scientific comments raised by the Member States, and that soybean MON 87769 is as safe as its conventional counterpart and is unlikely to have adverse effects on human and animal health and the environment in the context of the scope of this application.” The application places the soybean crop on the European market for food and feed uses, and import and processing. However it excludes cultivation within the EU. As occurs with much of the research into GM, the concern is that the long-term effects appear to not have been taken into consideration.
Jerome Burne argues the case for continuing caution with statins
Prominent UK journalist, Jerome Burne, eloquently argues the case for remaining sceptical of the widespread prescribing of statins. Entitled “Eminence based medicine defends the status quo on statins”, the blog was written in response to the British Medical Journal’s (BMJ) well publicised corrections in two papers, effectively lowering earlier stated levels of statin side effects. Burne applies clear reason and pertinent, immovable and uncomfortable truths about the use of statins to assist more informed choice. Reiterating that key pharma statin trial data has in actual fact gone missing, Burne points out “without full knowledge of the trial data (unavailable) such an overview of statins risk and benefit can’t be done”, and concludes “what’s on display here is an authoritative system attempting to repress an intelligent and informed critique in the name of science… science relies on questioning and testing not eminence based bullying, I for one will continue to view statins with a sceptical eye”.
UK supermarket giant Tesco to remove confectionary from check outs
Tesco is following Lidl’s move earlier this year and removing confectionary from their check outs in a bid to encourage shoppers to make healthier food choices. Store refits should be complete by the end of the year. A spokesperson from parenting website Mumsnet, Katie O'Donovan, has described Tesco’s move as “positive”. Luciana Berger, shadow public health minister, has also praised the decision. The decision comes as a direct response to customer demands following research carried out by Tesco. Around 70% of customers questioned said removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts would help them make healthier choices.
Petition to get irradiated food labelled in Aus and NZ
Currently Standard 1.5.3“prohibits the irradiation of food, or ingredients or components of food, unless a specific permission is given” and “also sets out permitted sources of radiation, requires the keeping of certain records in relation to the irradiation of food, and requires the labelling of food which has been irradiated.” Irradiation is used to destroy bacteria and pests and to extend the shelf life of food, and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) claims on its website that irradiation “is safe and effective”. During late 2014 and late 2015 FSANZ is due to review mandatory irradiated food labelling, and to produce a report. This could easily result in labelling being discontinued. This is important piece of legislation that can’t disappear, hence a new petition to ensure that irradiated food continues to be labelled in New Zealand and Australia. You can show your support by signing now and sharing the link to help Australians and New Zealanders maintain their right to know.
EC gives thumbs up for PlantLIBRA project
There are more signs that the 4-year, EU-funded scientific project on botanical food supplements, PlantLIBRA, may have an increasing, and potentially positive influence, on national or EU-wide policies affecting this key sector of natural health products. Directorate-General for Research and Innovation in the European Commission (EC), Dieter Brigitta, told Nutraingredients the PlantLIBRA botanicals project has the “potential to influence EU botanicals policy making and that there was scope for more EU-backed research in the area, if not in exactly the same form.”
Following much ambiguity and differing interpretations of law affecting botanicals in food supplement in different EU Member States, there is some hope that PlantLIBRA’s research will provide a more comprehensive safety and efficacy database that safeguards a large number of botanicals with long histories of safe use as food supplements.
UK ready meals contain more sugar than a chocolate bar
Research carried out by UK consumer watchdog magazine, Which?, has found that supermarket ready meals contain up to 50g of sugar – the entire recommended daily allowance for an adult! Executive director, Richard Lloyd said, “With rising obesity rates, it is shocking to find that ready meals contain more sugar than a chocolate bar. We want the Government to set clear targets for calorie reduction as part of the Responsibility Deal with food businesses.” Katherine Jenner from health campaign group Action on Sugar says that cutting sugar by 10% would make no real difference to the taste but manufacturers are constantly using it to add bulk and cover up poor quality ingredients. However, given that sugar is such an addictive substance, more sugar usually translates into more sales.
Homeopathy buckling under regulatory pressure in Belgium
In a disturbing development that was made all the more possible by the establishment of homeopathic products as category of medicines in EU law in 2004, Belgian patients are now being deprived of their freedom to choose homeopathic treatment. The Belgian Ministry of Health has published a Royal decree, placing conditions on those legally allowed to practice homeopathy. Practitioners now have to be "qualified as a medical doctor, dentist or midwife", and must “have a degree in homeopathy from an official college or university”. As a result, the practice of homeopathy has been greatly and indefinitely curbed. The European Central Council of Homeopaths (ECCH) is appealing for financial support to fight and overturn this unjust execution of the Colla Law.
Call to action: “If you believe the Belgian government have got it wrong please help. Donations to the fighting fund can be transferred to the bank account of the Liga Homeopathica Classica in Belgium: IBAN : BE 75 777 59279 3651 BIC : GKCCBEBB, entitled ‘Help for classical homeopathy’”.
Glucosamine to remain as a food supplement in UK
Following a legal battle in the UK High Court, initiated by a Chinese pharmaceutical company who sought reclassification as a drug, glucosamine is to remain classified as a food supplement in the UK. It has already been medicalised in Sweden and Denmark. The defendant in the case was none other than the UK medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), who supported the dual status (food/medicine) of the nutrient. The Chinese firm Blue-Bio Pharmaceuticals“has prescription-only registrations across the EU for its glucosamine sulphate product Dolenio”. The MHRA said“it prefers a case-by-case approach depending on formulation, dosage, application and typical use.”
Robotic surveillance ‘insects’ take flight
Programmable robotic ‘insects’ knows as Robobees have been developed and are reported as already airborne. The “insectoid automatons” have been developed by Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Northeastern University’s Department of Biology. Harvard University allude to the ability of the Robobees “to efficiently pollenate crops without the dependence on the declining honey bee population”. However, disturbingly, other practical applications are said to include “search and rescue (e.g., in the aftermath of a natural disaster), hazardous environment exploration, military surveillance, high resolution weather and climate mapping and traffic monitoring”. Greenpeace have released a video“showcasing what a potential world would look like if it were inhabited by these Robobees. The video utilizes calming music and mesmerizing imagery to paint the picture of this ‘perfect’ world”.