British soil at “crisis point” as legislation relaxes

George Monbiot's informative blog in the UK Guardian reveals a bleak picture of severe erosion and compaction of UK soil, in the face of increased resistance by industry to what little legislation there was governing soil protection. It’s challenging enough to make healthy choices when health foods and products face ever-tightening regulation, but it’s ironic that, in the meantime, legislation governing the soil on which all our health depends has dwindled away, much like the soil itself.

Monbiot begins: “In an extraordinary coup, farmers' unions and the UK government have torpedoed the European soil framework directive”. Farmers Weekly, he tells us, have said “British soils are reaching crisis point”. Crops are being grown for short-term gain, and they are “simply incompatible with protecting the soil”. Monbiot’s response is scathing, and it’s an issue that clearly needs airing!

Have GMOs had their day? 

Stories and reports are now coming from all corners of the globe, which increasingly appear to be sounding the death knell for genetically modified organisms. The Russian ITAR-TASS News Agency reports that Russians are shunning GMO foods, while announce that the Russian government are calling for a new international UN agency to “strictly control” GMO product turnover, and to “scrutinize” the effects of GMOs on human health.

The UK Guardian has reported on various issues with the Bt brinjal (aubergine) trial in Bangladesh. Following visits to all but one of the 20 farms in the trial, the Guardian reported mixed results. “Of the 19 farmers, nine said they had had problems with the crop, with a failure rate of four out of five farms in Gazipur, the region closest to Dhaka”. In addition, it seems that there was a failure to follow some of the stipulations of the license to release the crop safely.

Meanwhile, a blog written by a US woman who trained in agriculture, married a conventional farmer, and has since become a mother and 'anti-GMO activist' features a new post entitled: “I’m a Farm Wife. And I Hate GMOs”. Her 'on the ground' industry perspective makes her story a fascinating and enlightening read. She explains “my reasons for hating GMOs go way beyond many of the normal things you usually hear from “the Activists”. I truly feel that these companies and these seeds are threatening to utterly DESTROY our industry”.

GM animals and a new extreme form of synthetic biology are amongst emerging GMO threats.

Paleo food on the UK NHS. No, really!

The UK National Health Service (NHS) isn’t known for giving healthy food to its patients. In fact, the term ‘food’ is often something of a stretch, particularly for cancer patients. If this situation sticks in your craw, there’s now a wonderful Kickstarter campaign to support that aims to launch a healthy eating, gluten-free, paleo-style cafe in an NHS hospital. The brainchild of medical doctor Thomas Kelley and nutritional consultant and chef Christine Bailey, the project is currently running at nearly £8,300 of its £130,000 goal – so you know what to do please!

Linus Pauling Institute argue the case for multivitamins

Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have published correspondence in the Annals of Internal Medicine, refuting an earlier editorial that claimed “the case is closed” with regard to the need for most people to take multivitamins and mineral supplements. The new article by Balz Frei, PhD; Bruce N. Ames et al is entitled “Enough is Enough”. The professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute, Balz Frei said: “It's naïve to ignore the fact that most people have micronutrient inadequacies, and wrong to condemn a daily supplement that could cover these nutritional gaps safely and at low cost”. The researchers concluded that to “label multivitamin and mineral supplements useless, harmful and a waste of money is wrong”.

Bolton resists UK government push to fluoridate

Bolton council have 'ruled out' a water fluoridation scheme in Bolton despite pressure from the UK government for all councils to set up such schemes. Bolton News reports that 43.4 per cent of under-fives in Bolton have tooth decay, but the deputy leader of Bolton Council is reported to have said: “We will continue to secure programmes such as ‘brushing for life’ and oral health promotion support to schools, and we are currently reviewing all our oral health promotion work”.

Is nanotechnology the new threat to food?

The media is currently highlighting a new potential threat that has crept, unregulated, into food. Whilst nanoparticles of silver don’t worry us, titanium dioxide (used in food as a colour enhancer) does. It is reported that The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologieslists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients”. Even 2012 Food Drug Administration draft report has given plenty of reason for concern, but no action has since been taken. Meanwhile, some manufacturers are keen to clear their names after they were listed as nanoparticle offenders.