Milk Thistle victory in South Africa

The herb milk thistle is back in South African health stores after months of appeals by the Traditional and Natural Health Alliance (TNHA). The herb and its main active constituent silymarin “have been rescheduled from Schedule 3 to Schedule 0 (zero), after months of appeals to the Scheduling Committee of the Medicines Control Council (MCC)”. The herb was recalled from health stores and pharmacy shelves last year “forcing tens of thousands users to obtain these products with a doctors prescription”. The MCC backed down in the face of “intense and sustained pressure to rescind the Schedule 3 status using good law and good science”, and with the use of some material from ANH-Intl. The TNHA said in their July newsletter, “This small victory demonstrates that the MCC are not beyond reproach, and that the natural health sector and consumers can claim their rights to natural health products and reverse bureaucratic restriction when they are demonstrably safe. Suppliers we have contacted today are elated with this good news, and will begin stocking health stores and pharmacies with their Milk Thistle containing product within days”.

Multinational corporate interests trampling African farmers rights

An article by the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) has been published in the Ecologist. It reports that African governments have agreed “an oppressive 'plant variety protection protocol' that will open up their countries to commercial seed monopolists, while limiting farmers rights to save, use, exchange, replant, improve, distribute and sell the seeds they have developed over countless generation”. Following a recent ARIPO (African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation) conference in Arusha, Tanzania, a “harmonised regional legal framework for the protection of plant breeders' rights” was adopted. AFSA “was purposely excluded from the Arusha deliberations”, having exposed the previous draft for being restrictive, inflexible, and “totally unsuitable for Africa”. The Arusha protocol flies in the face of the findings of the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Bank study, the 'International Assessment of Knowledge, Science and Technology' (IAASTD), which “strongly recommended a complete shift away from the Green Revolution's industrial agriculture to agroecology”.

Concerns heighten about TTIP trade agreement ‘euro-fudge’

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) last week voted through a resolution supporting the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), adopting a common position on the trade agreement. said, “the recommendations called for a more transparent process, robust workers’ rights and protection for personal data and public services”. MEPs said, “there would be no agreement in areas where US standards were very different, such as GMOs, the use of hormones for cattle, cloning or endocrine-disrupting chemicals”. In addition, concerns remain over the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which would enable companies to sue countries for restricting business practices. The clause has now been replaced, and now calls for “publicly appointed, independent professional judges to hear cases in transparent public hearings”. NGO Greenpeace described the proposed this as “a classic example of a toxic Euro-fudge that undermined democracy”.

Soil Association focus on glyphosate

The Soil Association is hosting a “Glyphosate scientific briefing” following the revelations by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that the active ingredient in Roundup is “probably carcinogenic’ to humans”. “Three of the world’s foremost experts” will lead the discussion in Westminster, on the 15th July 2015. The experts are Professor Christopher Portier (co-author of the WHO IARC report), Claire Robinson (editor at and Dr Robin Mesnage (research associate at in the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College London, Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine). This follows a recent earlier move by the Soil Association urging farmers not to spray glyphosate on milling wheat crops in the first harvest since the WHO announced the possible links with cancer.

Japanese research highlights flaws in the cholesterol hypothesis

A new Japanese review has been published recently in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. It is entitled “Towards a Paradigm Shift in Cholesterol Treatment. A Re-examination of the Cholesterol Issue in Japan”. The researchers aimed to “help everyone understand the issue of cholesterol better than before”, and to “lay out the case for why a paradigm shift in cholesterol treatment is needed”. The review explores “the background to the cholesterol hypothesis utilizing data obtained mainly from Japan”. The researchers say “the relationship between all-cause mortality and serum cholesterol levels in Japan is a very interesting one: mortality actually goes down with higher total or low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, as reported by most Japanese epidemiological studies of the general population. This relationship cannot be observed as easily in other countries, except in elderly populations where the same relationship exists worldwide… The theory that the lower the cholesterol levels are, the better is completely wrong in the case of Japan—in fact, the exact opposite is true. Because Japan is unique in terms of cholesterol-related phenomena, it is easy to find flaws in the cholesterol hypothesis”. The authors propose a re-examination of the use of cholesterol medication.

Ban trans fats says EU cardiologists

Trans-unsaturated fatty acid, or trans fats, should be banned in the European Union according to the European Cardiology Society (ECS). This type of fat is uncommon in nature, and is formed through the processing of unsaturated fats. Their association with heart attacks and cardiovascular disease has already led to their removal from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list of GRAS or generally recognised as safe foods. reports that although food manufacturers in Western Europe have been voluntarily reducing trans fats in food, “high levels of trans fats are still common among products available in many Eastern European countries, as well as in ethnic shops in Western European countries”. The ECS “believes that a regulatory intervention in necessary to ensure that EU citizens can effectively reduce their TFA intake”.

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