Scientific consensus increases re electromagnetic radiation risk

Tom Siddon, Area D director on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) in Canada, is pushing for an immediate moratorium on further installations of smart meters. Siddon is concerned that current health guidelines for devices that emit electromagnetic radiation do not do enough to protect the public, and is also asking that the meters already installed be removed at a cost to FortisBC, the distribution company. Most of the RDOS board members acknowledged they don’t know enough about the science to make an informed decision, but chose to support Siddon out of a desire for caution. Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman said, “To get this many scientists saying one thing, they can’t all be quacks.” Those who are scientifically knowledgeable have written to His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Honorable Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization UN Member States calling for protection from non-ionizing electromagnetic field exposure from devices such as smart meters, cellular and cordless phones and their base stations, Wi-Fi, and more. The scientists believe that, “The various agencies setting safety standards have failed to impose sufficient guidelines to protect the general public, particularly children who are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF.”

WHO cancer unit assesses pesticide for cancer risk

Months after the WHO classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, it is set to examine another widely used pesticide, 2,4-D. This week 24 scientists representing WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have analysed scientific findings, and many think it’ll go the same way as glyphosate. Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union who has served on an advisory committee of the US Department of Agriculture as well as a WHO consultation project, said, “There is just as strong, or even a stronger case (for links to cancer), on 2,4-D than there was for glyphosate.” However Dow, the manufacturer, has funded an analysis of 14 studies that refutes concerns about 2,4-D and cancer, and has submitted this to IARC. The company plans to roll out a product that gained approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year that combines 2,4-D with glyphosate. A coalition of US farmer and environmental groups has sued the EPA, seeking to overturn approval for Dow's new herbicide. Meanwhile more than 80 scientists worldwide are calling on governments at all levels to ban the spraying of glyphosate herbicides, but there seems to be a media blackout as yet another country, Bermuda, bans the use of glyphosate-containing herbicide, Roundup.

More regulation needed for diet pills?

The recent death of 45-year-old Chris Wilcock in the UK has turned the diet pill market upside down again. Plans are now on the table to re-examine how diet pills are currently regulated with a major shake up expected. The former pub landlord went into cardiac arrest and collapsed at home after taking a number of diet pills (T5), and was later found to have the caffeine equivalent to 300 cups of coffee in his body. Robert Verkerk PhD commented on the tragic case saying, “Based on the reports, it sounds like the T5 tablets Mr Wilcock was taking were likely to have been adulterated as the typical caffeine level is a daily dose of most T5 products would represent around 2 cups, not 30 cups, of caffeine. There is actually ample legislation to ensure food supplements are safe, including EU general food, food labelling, hygiene and claims legislation. The problems that arise with safety tend to be with online rather than retail sales. Here the difficulty is more to do with enforcement than it is with the paucity of any legislation. It is notoriously difficult to monitor and regulate online sales, and, because of that, the main take home has to be that consumers only purchase products from reputable suppliers.”

Non-GMOs come out on top in agricultural trial

Field trials carried out at the University of Vermont (UVM) have shown that non-GMO short- and long-season corn performs as well as or even better than some genetically modified varieties. Another trial found that corn grown in a diversified crop rotation produced higher yields and better soil quality than corn grown continuously year after year. Non-GMO varieties performed in the top 10 for both yield and quality, and the researchers found that while corn planted after perennial alfalfa performed best in terms of improved soil quality, yields and zero insect damage, a Roundup Ready GM corn planted in the trial had no effect on yield. Part of the UVM team, extension agronomist, Dr Heather Darby, commented, “It goes to show that good rotation and soil management does far more for production and yields than GMO.” Another non-GMO advocate, Professor Hector Valenzuela from the UH College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, is continually being harassed by his department because of his criticisms of GMOs, and because he teaches farmers how to grow organic crops. Valenzuela believes, “It is my duty as a professor to ask questions about technologies that may pose a risk to the environment and the health of the community.”

Sugar poisoning the nation, says UK health chief

The CEO of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), Simon Stevens, is on record stating on national television that, “failing to reformulate products to reduce added sugars would be like slow food poisoning of the nation.” As the key representative of Big Food’s interests, the director general of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), Ian Wright, has urged caution on Stevens’ tone but does agree that people should be encouraged to play their part in tackling obesity. He has invited Stevens to meet with him to discuss how the industry can help to contribute to public health, as he believes working in partnership is the quickest and most effective way forward. This belief is supported by the Government’s voluntary Responsibility Deal, but not by lobby groups such as Action on Sugar who believe that voluntary measures don’t go nearly far enough.

Feeding the US population from local farms

Researchers J Elliott Campbell and Andrew Zumkehr from the University of California, carried out a study looking at the “potential for local croplands to meet US food demand”. The conclusion was that there is “an unexpectedly large current potential for meeting as much as 90% of the national food demand”, and that the results, “provide a spatially explicit foundation for exploring the many dimensions of agroecosystem sustainability.” Campbell states that the research started off as a way of looking at the “connection between eating locally and tackling those farm-based emissions”. Even though both the researchers and Dan Nosowitz, the journalist, identify the shortcomings of the study, Nosowitz concludes, “It’s important to understand the limits of this study, but it would be equally foolish to disregard it. This is research that thoughtfully begins the conversation about legitimately feeding the country locally. It’s a conversation that’s going to get louder and more important in the years to come.”

Prof Tim Noakes hearing delayed

Following a formal charge laid by Claire Julsing-Strydom, the head of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA), Professor Tim Noakes faces an inquiry over some alleged “unconventional advice” he is alleged to have given a mother via Twitter. Noakes is an advocate of the low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) concept and implied in his tweets “that the child should not be weaned onto the traditional high sugar, high carbohydrate processed cereals.” The complaint was lodged with the Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA), and Julsing-Strydom — a confirmed opponent of the LCHF concept — said she was looking forward to the outcome of the two-day inquiry due to take place from 4th June 2015. Interestingly, no paediatricians in SA expressed outrage at Noakes’ tweet, and the Canadian Paediatric Society, in a joint statement with Health Canada, Dietitians of Canada and the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada, issued the same advice. The hearing has now been delayed until November 23 2015. A second Professional Conduct Committee has had to be convened to rule on whether or not Noakes’ tweet was offered in accordance with the applicable regulations and provisions of the Health Professions Act. The first Professional Conduct Committee was not properly constituted and lacked a key requirement of at least two members from a ‘relevant profession’. Cape Town attorney Adam Pike, of Pike Law, said they were deeply disappointed with the delay but, “These delays happen all the time in contentious proceedings. We’re happy that our view prevailed. Now we look forward to fighting the good fight in November.”

UK gluten-free products not so Genius after all

Products advertised as gluten-free in the UK have had to be recalled by a number of major supermarkets as, contrary to the labelling, they might actually contain gluten. The recalled products included the likes of pitta breads, naan breads and pizza bases and were considered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as “a possible health risk” to those who suffer from gluten intolerance or coeliac disease. The food company behind this mishap is Edinburgh-based company Genius who supply large supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. All supermarkets have published apologies. Genius responded that products which test between 21 parts per million (ppm) and 100 ppm are considered "very low risk, although not officially gluten free", although they were still labelled as such. The products in question tested between 5-80 ppm. In Europe, products must test 20 ppm or under in order to make a gluten-free claim and every single batch must be tested.


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