Judge rules in favour of probiotic supplement

In a win for both industry and consumers, a US judge has ruled in favour of Bayer with regards to claims made in support of Phillips’ Colon Health. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) targeted the probiotic last year for two sets of claims — the expressed claims (structure-function), and alleged implied claims. Bayer’s statement included, “We are pleased with the US District Court’s decision. Requiring a drug-level randomized controlled clinical trial for a dietary supplement is not and has never been the standard for dietary supplement claims.” They added that probiotic bacteria have “substantial science supporting their digestive benefits.” ANH’s Rob Verkerk PhD, added this comment to the article, Seemingly we need a drug company to take a stand on this issue, and it's gratifying that the FTC has been stopped in its tracks. Now we need the European Commission and EFSA to take note and stop the blackout on probiotic health claims, including allowing the term probiotic to be used commercially. Increasingly it looks like targeted defensive and offensive legal actions are going to be needed to resolve a situation that ultimately prevents consumers learning about the intended use of products.”

Farmers sue Monsanto for causing cancer

Two agricultural workers in California and New York are suing Monsanto for giving them cancer. Farm worker (age 58), Enrique Rubio, claims he was exposed to glyphosate for 11 years, and plaintiff Judi Fitzgerald, of Virginia, says she worked in a greenhouse where glyphosate was used for four years. Both have been diagnosed with cancer; Rubio with bone cancer, and Fitzgerald with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. They claim the St Louis-based biotechnology company, Monsanto, is intentionally misleading when it advertises its popular herbicide, Roundup, as being a safe product. Despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding “convincing evidence” that glyphosate can cause cancer in laboratory animals, Monsanto is still pushing that glyphosate is safe. Spokesperson Charla Lord said, “While sympathetic to individuals experiencing health problems, including those alleged by the plaintiff in this case, we believe glyphosate is safe for human health when used as labeled, and this suit is without merit.”

A David and Goliath battle, and David won

Years of uncertainty for people with BRCA1 mutations has ended as Australia's highest court unanimously ruled that a mutated gene that causes cancer cannot be subject to a patent, or the right to control use of the gene. The lady involved in the case, cancer survivor and grandmother Yvonne D'Arcy, and Maurice Blackburn, the law firm that represented her, argued thatmutations in the so-called ‘breast cancer gene’ BRCA1 were naturally occurring component of the human body that had been discovered, rather than an invention that could be patented.” Relieved Mrs D’Arcy said, “I have had breast cancer twice, and although mine's not genetic, I've always been of the view that you can't own a part of me, or anyone else.” US company, Myriad Genetics, held the patent on the BRCA1 gene, and had licensed it for use in Australia by a company called Genetic Technologies. This judgment now invalidates that patent. Matthew Rimmer, a professor of Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Queensland University of Technology, said, “The ruling will also be an important precedent for public health administration. It will mean that the provision of genetic testing will be for public good, rather than private profit.”

Study confuses the issue on fats….again

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has investigated associations of saturated fats compared with unsaturated fats and different sources of carbohydrates in relation to cardiovascular disease risk. The findings suggest that replacing just 5% of saturated fats with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), monounsaturated fats and wholegrain carbohydrates can lower the risk of heart disease by 25%, 15% and 9% respectively. However, while replacing saturated fats with refined carbohydrates from starches and sugars on average increased the risk of developing CHD, this risk wasn’t statistically significant because of large variations in response in the study population. In practice those who consume lower saturated fats consume more PUFAs, these generally being vegetable oils found in processed foods, ready-made meals and margarines. It’s important to recognise that not all PUFAs are the same and these vegetable oil-based PUFAs are predominantly omega 6 fatty acids, not the cardiovascular protective omega 3 types found in fish and algal oils. It is the typically 20:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 that is a major contributing factor to cardiovascular disease risk and there is considerable evidence to show that ratios more like 2–4:1 is best for health. In addition, the Harvard researchers state that previous studies have not taken into account that people who cut down on saturated fat went on to eat more refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta — key risk factors for heart disease. Despite what appears as conflicting data, there are still valid concerns over margarine and vegetable-based PUFAs. Dr Aseem Malhotra, a London-based cardiologist and adviser to the National Obesity Forum reiterates that he would still “choose butter over margarine any day of the week” and advise his patients to do the same.

Dominicans stand united against smart meters

In a unified, inspired act of defiance, many Dominican Republic Edenorte customers removed so-called ‘smart’ meters from their homes and businesses. The factor that most irked them was the unjustifiable increase in their utility bills, even though smart meters facilitate unlawful surveillance, cause fires, and emit strong dangerous microwave radiation. The Dominicans were supported by their military and police, and the hundreds of removed meters were put in front of the electricity company offices. One of the customers complained, “The reason was high rates combined with frequent electrical outages in the region. The outages became prolonged and the electricity bills arrived at nearly double that of the month before.”

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