BELFRIT botanical list written into Belgian law

This week Belgium confirmed that the BELFRIT botanical list will be used as the basis of herbal law and is keen for other European countries to do the same. This replacement of their current list brings the number of plants from about 645 to 1019 and adds many new maximum levels and mandatory warnings. The BELFRIT list is a positive list of botanicals and is the result of a joint project between researchers from Belgium, France and Italy. Regulatory expert for the Belgium Department of Health, Joris Geelen, commented, “On an EU level our intention is of course to convince other member states to implement the same list in their legislation and start harmonisation that way.” In ANH’s view this is absolutely a step in the right direction to remove the legal uncertainty that has plagued the food supplement status of botanicals in Europe since the EFSA compendium was published. The hope is that BELFRIT will be a live rather than static list that can be continuously expanded and updated.

Monsanto knew glyphosate was linked to cancer 35 years ago

Evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) shows that Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as long ago as 1981. GM-Free Cymru undertook a search through EPA records with a view to finding out what was known about glyphosate at the time of its initial registration. Speaking for GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John says: “The evidence shows that by 1981 both Monsanto and the EPA were aware of malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions in the test animals which were fed small doses of glyphosate in the secret feeding experiments. Although concerns were expressed at the time by EPA committees, these concerns were later suppressed under the weight of conflicting evidence brought forward by Monsanto, some of it involving the inappropriate use of historical control data of dubious quality. None of these studies is available for independent examination. That is a scandal in itself. There has been a protracted and cynical cover-up in this matter. Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”, as now confirmed by the WHO Working Group, and no matter what protestations may now come from Monsanto and the EPA, they have been fully aware of its potential to cause cancer for at least 35 years. If they had acted in a precautionary fashion back then, instead of turning a blind eye to scientific malpractice, glyphosate would never have been licensed, and thousands of lives might have been saved.”

California pushing hard for vaccine bill

After recently passing the state Senate health committee by a 6-2 vote, California legislators are pushing hard to pass Senate Bill 277 that would mean people could no longer refuse to get vaccines for religious or philosophical reasons. The bill, which requires all kids to be vaccinated unless they are proven medically exempt, faces fierce opposition from anti-vaccine campaigners. It still has to pass through two other committees before moving to the Senate floor for a final vote, but isn't guaranteed to turn into law. Protesters have rallied near the California State Building, saying, “We are not against vaccines. We basically want the choice.” Republican Senator Jim Nielsen is on record as saying, “I have very profound feelings about parental rights and responsibilities and great dismay in American society over the decades how much that parental right, that parental responsibility, has diminished.”

GM Bt brinjal fails

For a second year running genetically engineered Bt Brinjal has cost the farmers their fortunes as the plants have either died out prematurely or fruited very insignificantly compared to the locally available varieties.  Spot visits to 12 Bt Brinjal fields in Manikganj, Narsingdi and Comilla found hardly any living or properly fruiting plants, and BARI Bt Brinjal 2 (Bt-Nayantara) and BARI Bt Brinjal 3 (Bt-Kajla) plants grown under the supervision of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) have also died. A respected and successful farmer, Md Abul Hayat, said, “The officials said it’s due to bacterial attack and prompted by irrigation and soil-type,” but he then questioned, “If irrigation and soil-type had been a problem, why [have] the local brinjal plants on my other field not been affected?” When approached about the dying plants, BARI director general Rafiqul Islam Mondol said, “We didn’t claim that the Bt Brinjal plants will not be affected by diseases. Our claim was that Bt Brinjal is resistant to BFSB.” However, Mohammad Ali of Nimsar village showed several plants of BARI Bt Brinjal 4 variety that were affected by Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB) insects.

Altering protein and carb profile has big impact on weight

A new study looking at changes in intake of protein foods, carbohydrate amount and quality of carbohydrate shows that these may have a big impact on long-term weight. The study investigated 120,784 men and women free of chronic disease or obesity at baseline, and the association between 4-year changes in consumption of protein foods, Glycaemic Load (GL), and their interaction with 4-year weight change over a 16- to 24-year follow-up. It concluded, “Protein foods were commonly interchanged with carbohydrate, and changes in protein foods and GL interacted to influence long-term weight gain.”

Milestone for folate supplement in Europe

The glucosamine salt of the reduced, active form of folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolic acid, Quatrefolic®, has been given a favourable opinion to be included in the list of vitamin and mineral substances, set out in Annex II to Directive 2002/46/EC. Gnosis’ Quatrefolic® is a source of the active form of folate 5-methyltetrahydrofolate and is immediately able to provide the essential form utilised and stored in the human body without any risk for human health as posed by folic acid. The opinion follows a positive Scientific Opinion adopted by the Authority on September 11th 2013 and the EU approval, on March 19th 2014 and means that the glucosamine salt can be added as a source of reduced folate, as against synthetic folic acid, for nutritional purposes to food supplements.

More on the risks of mass medicating the healthy with statins

A Cochrane review published in 2013 had “concluded that statins reduce all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events without increasing the risk of adverse events among people at low risk of CVD of less than 10 % risk over ten years”. It was mainly as a result of a 2012 meta-analysis by the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, that the Cochrane 2011 review had been changed. There followed new statin drug guidelines both in the US and in the UK, recommending statins for healthy and low risk people, and this was expected to massively increase the number of statin users. The Institute of Science in Society have now also reported on the poor science and conflicts of interest around this. Not only was it subsequently found that there was no significant reduction in overall mortality with statin treatments for healthy and low risk people, but subsequent new studies have highlighted diabetes risks from statin treatments. ISIS conclude “evidence suggests that mass medication of healthy populations increases risk of adverse treatment effects and death”.


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