Pharma giant GSK falls foul of UK advertising standards

The UK Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has targeted drug giant GlaxoSmithKline for over “exaggerated” use of EU-approved protein-recovery claims. In an advert for their sports nutrition brand, MaxiNutrition, wording used by GSK was deemed to push the borderline between performance and recovery too far with claims such as “helping make you stronger and perform better.” The European Commission approved claims for protein to support “the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and maintenance of normal bones” aren’t really a marketing department’s dream so it’s no wonder that companies are pushing the boundaries. Dr Mark J Tallon, managing director of UK Food Law consultancy Legal Foods, pointed out that ASA opinions are not legally binding, and another observer commented that the ruling meant nothing to firms as by the time it comes in the campaign has already run and therefore had the desired impact on consumers.

Can mobile phones and WiFi explain increase in Crohn’s disease?

Dr Andrew Goldsworthy of Imperial College, London has written a guest post for StopSmartMeters UK. In it he questions whether, “a 300% increase in Crohn’s disease the result of our escalating exposure to wireless technologies?”. Dr Goldsworthy, a retired biology lecturer, observes that “corresponding evidence” for the explanations offered to explain away the increase in the incidence of Crohn’s “are thin and do not correlate well to the time-scale of ten years”. He proposes that increased exposure to RF/microwave emissions over the last 10 years, “fit better”. He explains “The likely mechanisms for harm are electromagnetically-induced inflammation, as experts such as Professor Olle Johnasson of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute have pointed out on many occasions”, and adds that such EMR frequencies “increase the permeability of the blood/gut barrier, which allow foreign materials from the gut and partially-digested food to enter the bloodstream which can trigger the generation of antibodies and an autoimmune response”. He calls for the removal of WiFi and smart meters —particularly from schools.

In a rare move, UK energy supplier EDF Energy is offering customers the ability to remove ‘smart’ meters from their homes.

Nutritionally enhanced, low budget food for the poor

The latest attempt from Europe to improve the health of those from impoverished backgrounds comes in the form of 'Chance food'. The ‘Chance’ project unveiled its findings at a conference in Belgium earlier this month and is set to supply nutritionally enhanced, low cost foods such as tomato ketchup, pizza, ham, cheese, bread and blueberry-based products. Chance researchers found that one of the main barriers towards healthy eating is lack of knowledge about healthy foods, yet their initiative seems set to compound the problem by reinforcing the consumption of the wrong types of foods instead of educating people about better choices. Results show that intakes of saturated fats, salt and sugar are too high in the studied population groups.  The Chance project has capitalised on recommendations for new healthy eating initiatives and schemes to be developed, in particular for risk-of-poverty consumers, by creating new versions of recognised and familiar cheap foods.

Golden rice researcher to sue University and journal

The rice researcher accused of feeding adults and children genetically modified (GM) Golden rice without their consent is now suing Tufts University and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which is retracting her paper. Rice researcher, Guangwen Tang, carried out her research at Tufts University and is suing on the grounds that the retraction would constitute defamation. Her research was littered with ethical missteps and illegalities, and she received a two-year suspension from conducting human research with any future research she conducts taking place under the watchful eye of a supervising scientist.

Neonicotinoids effects bees, birds and ecosystems

A new study published this month in the journal Nature has found that “the impact of neonicotinoids on the natural environment is even more substantial than has recently been reported and is reminiscent of the effects of persistent insecticides in the past”. The authors investigated the effect of the most widely used neonicotinoid insecticide: imidacloprid, on the insectivorous bird population in the Netherlands. They found that populations have been declining annually since imidacloprid was introduced into the country in the mid 1990s. The authors urge “future legislation should take into account the potential cascading effects of neonicotinoids on ecosystems”.

The other side of the Atlantic has seen a recent very positive shift in that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has just announced plans to “phase out neonicotinoid insecticides in wildlife refuges in the Pacific Region, including Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington”.

TTIP US/EU trade deal will ‘take over’ UK National Health Service

The highly controversial and non-transparent US/EU trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), was being negotiated last week in a “sixth round of week-long talks” with the European Commission (EC). There has been much campaigning to warn of the dangers of such a deal, as we have ourselves reported on. Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) have recently revealed details on the corporate lobby behind the talks. CEO reveal that, during preparations for the trade deal negotiations, the EC’s trade department — DG Trade met with many lobbyists in consultations, stakeholder debates and in secret meetings, and of these a staggering 92% were business lobbyists! Only 4% were with public interest groups.

Then last week, a report in the UK Guardian highlighted the threat posed by the TTIP to the UK National Health Service (NHS), fiercely guarded as a public institution by many in the UK. The Guardian reported “the NHS is being taken over by Wall Street”, and “the British government has given the negotiators a free hand to negotiate away our rights to control our health system”. They warned that TTIP will mean that “American investors will be able to haul any UK government that tries to reverse privatisation to a tribunal... that would operate outside the law of this land”.

Irish Association of Health Stores lobbying halts Irish tax hike on herbal tea

Lobbying by the Irish Association of Health Stores (IAHS) against proposals to add a 23% consumer tax onto certain Irish health products, has resulted in a U-turn in proposals for taxing herbal teas (except for fruit herbal teas) in Ireland. However, health products used for muscle growth, weight loss and specific health targets, such as glucosamine, herbals, probiotics and coenzyme Q10 (coQ10) will still be affected by the plans to add Value Added Tax (VAT) at the point of purchase. Vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, such as fish oil, will not be affected by the tax hike, as they are intended for the maintenance of normal/general health.

Jill Bell of the IAHS told “VAT on health food supplements would be a tax on health”. She further explained “the situation is 'fluid' at the moment where individual manufacturers and suppliers are looking at their products and their labelling wording with a view to possibly changing them... claims certainly matter, and EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority) comes into the picture which is pretty complicated”.


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