EU chief scientist is a “dangerous imbecile”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at New York University, has recently tweeted about the EU chief scientist, Anne Glover, saying "There are and have always been many dangerous imbeciles in science". The Twitter response was made "over her belief that the Precautionary Principle [PP] should be abandoned with regard to GMOs". Comments made by Glover about the PP were published in back in 2012. A paper on the PP and how "experts have severely underestimated the risks of genetically modified food" has recently been published by Taleb and co-authors. They include "the well-known researchers Raphael Douady at the Institute of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics in Paris and Yaneer Bar-Yam at the New England Complex Systems Institute, as well as the philosopher Rupert Read, author of ‘Wittgenstein among the Sciences’".

'Mysterious' flaccid paralysis affecting US children

The New York Times has reported on the mysterious incidences of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) that appeared earlier in the year in Colorado, but that are now said to be affecting "more than 50 children in 23 states" in the USA. The news source reports "the cause is not known, although some doctors suspect the cases may be linked to infection with enterovirus 68, a respiratory virus that has sickened thousands of children in recent months".

Incidences of 'non-polio' AFP (NPAFC) have also occurred in India, only on a much larger scale. An article by Vashisht and Puliyel in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics published in April/June 2012 states: "while India has been polio-free for a year, there has been a huge increase in non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP). In 2011, there were an extra 47,500 new cases of NPAFP. Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received. Though this data was collected within the polio surveillance system, it was not investigated". National Polio Surveillance India data 2000-2010 reveals "highly significant" positive correlations between NPAFC and oral polio vaccine doses – in particular higher dose oral polio vaccine.

GM biotech company gets fined for repeated violations

The Panama plant of biotechnology company, AquaBounty, has been fined for failing to secure necessary permits and repeated regulatory failures around a pioneering attempt to create genetically modified salmon. AquaBounty currently has an application with the US government to sell genetically modified (GM) salmon fillets and the progress of this is being watched by companies around the globe as a critical indication of whether to proceed with other GM meat projects. For environmentalists, public interest groups and anti-GMO advocates, the Panama findings underscore a potential weakness in the FDA’s regulatory process. With regards to whether the US regulatory process is proceeding too quickly in considering the salmon application, Luisa Arauz Arredondo, an attorney with the Panama Centre for Environmental Advocacy, commented, “the impacts GM foods will have on health and the environment have not been sufficiently assessed to approve human consumption of this salmon”. George Kimbrell, a senior attorney with the Center for Food Safety, believes that “…this decision is also even further proof that FDA is dangerously out of touch with the facts on the ground, advancing AquaBounty’s application based on its promises, not reality”. There is also concern from Friends of the Earth that “…the FDA is trying to shoehorn this new genetically engineered animal into a completely ill-fitting regulatory process.”

No fluoridated water for Southampton

Public Health England (PHE) has said that it will not proceed with plans to add fluoride to the public water supply in Southampton and other parts of Hampshire without backing from Southampton City Council.  PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said, "Water fluoridation would make a big difference to the dental health of Southampton children, particularly those in the most socially deprived areas. We regret having to drop the scheme, but we believe it is the right decision in the circumstances.” The scheme was agreed in 2009 but was never implemented due to public opposition, and both Southampton City Council and Hampshire County Council opposing the fluoridation plans. Chairman of Hampshire Against Fluoridation, John Spottiswoode, said of the decision “It's excellent news. We would really like to see it stopped across the country.” Along with evidence that if you ingest fluoride over a period it's unsafe for children and adults, he believes it’s “…immoral to forcibly medicate people. It's a toxin."

Under 18’s banned from drinking energy drinks in Lithuania

Lithuania is the first European country to ban energy drink sales to under 18’s. The ban came into effect on the 1st November 2014 and includes any drink containing 150mg per litre of caffeine or more. Marius Kazakevi?ius, senior specialist for the country’s State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS), said, “The purpose of this ban is to protect youth health, because there has been plenty of scientific research done, which confirmed the harm of energy drinks, especially to young people.” The ban comes after another that came into effect at the beginning of 2014 regarding the issue of advertising energy drinks to unders 18’s. Although a severe blow to the €26.4 million Lithuanian energy drinks market, the SFVS said that they haven’t received any complaints since the latest ban was unanimously voted in.


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