UK food and supplements now at risk from new ‘legal highs’ law

The new UK Psychoactive Substances Act has in its sights the “mostly online ‘legal highs’ market that has run rampant in recent years”. The Act reportedly specifically exempts “controlled drugs, medicinal products, alcohol, nicotine and tobacco products, caffeine and food”. But a London and Brussels-based regulatory lawyer said that its definition of a food is “open to interpretation”. He warned that the legislation put at risk “foodstuffs and ingredients that can have mildly psychoactive effects like ginseng, valerian, nutmeg, taurine, guarana, chocolate”, due to their mild psychoactive effects. How the Act will function once it comes into effect in April, “will be determined by…the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local Trading Standards bodies, along with the police”. The report referred to an earlier article written by ANH-Intl’s Dr Robert Verkerk, which outlines a similar situation in Germany. Dr Verkerk told Nutraingredients, “The natural products industry already suffers the wrath of an overly broad definition and scope in EU medicines law - This will serve as an additional club that regulators can use arbitrarily. It’s especially troubling when there are a variety of natural products that are so effective in managing mood and anxiety, among the biggest current burdens on mainstream healthcare”.

EC plans to give green light to controversial weed killer

The European Commission (EC) reportedly plans to give a green light to relicensing the controversial weed killer glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. This is despite the substance being ruled as ‘probably carcinogenic’ by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The UK Guardian says it has seen ‘a draft implementing law’, revealing that the EC consider it appropriate to renew the license for another 15 years. Their decision follows a “lengthy review, which sparked a scientific storm”.

Moms Across America recently found glyphosate in feeding tube liquid fed to babies at levels “800 to 1110 times higher than has been shown to destroy gut bacteria in chickens”. Many feeding tube liquids contain “genetically-engineered corn syrup, soy, and sugar”, which are routinely sprayed with glyphosate. Meanwhile Uzbekistan has banned the use of GMOs in baby food.

Gardasil study withdrawn for being too negative

Two medical journals, Vaccine and the Journal of Neuroimmunology, have recently withdrawn a Gardasil study from their website. The study in question found that mice injected with Merck’s Gardasil HPV vaccine showed signs of neurological and behavioural abnormalities and concluded that the current push to immunise all boys and girls should be postponed pending further investigation. It is feared that a massive conflict of interests is at play here with the Vaccine Impact reporting that the Editor-in-Chief at Vaccine, who personally demanded the retraction of the study, is also “the chairman of a safety evaluation committee for investigational vaccine trials conducted by Merck”. It transpires that Dr Racke, Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Neuroimmunology has received compensation from EMD Serone, a subsidiary of Merck. In Ireland, the mother of a teenager who developed health problems after receiving the vaccine in 2011, last week pressed her case with Minister Brendan Howlin, “for an independent review of the vaccine”. To learn more about ANH-Intl’s ongoing concerns over the safety and efficacy of the HPV Vaccine, visit our Vaccine Choice campaign page.

Big Pharma providing biased information

Have the mainstream media opened their eyes to the misendeavours of Big Pharma? The Independent recently reported that pharmaceutical companies have been providing doctors with biased information about the efficacy of drugs, “costing hundreds of thousands of lives”. Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS cardiologist, has explained that, “A systematic lack of transparency in the information being given to doctors to prescribe medication, in terms of the benefits of drugs being grossly exaggerated and their side effects under reported in studies”. He states that pharmaceutical companies are in fact “profit making businesses”, and it has become far too easy for them to fund studies and drugs causing biased information to be recorded and reported. He says that until full access to the raw data is granted, encouraging pharma-sponsored research to be conducted at a higher ethical level, he will, “…personally regard all industry sponsored studies as marketing until proven otherwise”.

NHS conflict of interest inquiry

Ministers have recently launched an urgent inquiry to investigate the practise of NHS staff being paid by drugs companies, fearing a massive conflict of interest. It is reported that more than 130 NHS officials involved in drug prescription decisions are also acting as paid consultants for Big Pharma! Lester Burt, the heath administrator has said, “These are very serious allegations - an urgent investigation is under way and action will be taken against any NHS staff attempting to influence purchasing decisions in return for payments, gifts or hospitality”. This is not the first time Big Pharma have been associated with a conflict of interest, and very sadly we doubt it will be the last.

UK State-funded scientists to be ‘muzzled’

Senior scientists have ‘denounced’ a controversial UK government proposal to ‘muzzle’ state-funded scientists if they dislike their research findings. The proposal was announced earlier in February, and, “would block researchers who receive government grants from using their results to lobby for changes to laws or regulations”. An example of the restriction would be that if an ecologist’s research revealed that, “new planning laws were harming wildlife”, they would be unable to make the findings public. The laws will impede the ability of university experts to advise ministers and civil servants, and hence make it easier for lobbyists, companies and campaign groups to divert policies towards their vested corporate interests instead. Reminiscent of far more restrictive political regimes, but perhaps a small inkling of what the UK would look like if we don’t fight to uphold our democratic freedoms.

NHS - ‘healthy new towns’

NHS England have announced plans to create ten “healthy new towns” across the country. The towns will be supported by the NHS and cover more than 76,000 new homes with the potential for 170,000 residents. They are bringing together renowned clinicians, designers and technology experts to change how healthcare is delivered in these ‘towns’. Simon Stevens, chief executive, has said, “We want children to have places where they want to play with friends and can safely walk or cycle to school – We want to see neighbourhoods and adaptable home designs that make it easier for older people to continue to live independently.” These new towns hope to tackle some of the UK’s pressing health problems including obesity, mental health issues, physical inactivity and the needs of the ageing population.

Dutch study: Childhood asthma is overdiagnosed

A Dutch study just published in The British Journal of General Practice concludes that, “Overdiagnosis of childhood asthma is common in primary care” and that it leads to, “unnecessary treatment, disease burden, and impact on quality of life”. The study was a retrospective analysis in four academic primary healthcare centres in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The researchers said that asthma diagnosis is confirmed by lung function tests in only a small percentage of children. The results have spurred the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) into examining how GPs diagnose asthma in the UK.