GM crops are not delivering – says NYT

GM crops are sold to us by their patent owners as some kind of a panacea that can resolve hunger for the burgeoning global population. Well, in most industrialised countries, populations are generally either stable or they’re declining. People there are, in the main, over-eating rather than going hungry. It’s in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the developing world where populations continue to grow, so that we can expect 9 billion people on this planet by 2050. So could GM crops be just the ticket for the developing world? If they increased yield and reduced chemical and pesticide inputs and didn’t pose environmental or health risks, maybe. Let’s forget the last of these points – as it’s a serious hot potato that you can read further about. Looking then to yield and pesticide inputs, that’s a key issue and those of us on the contra side of the debate have long argued there is no evidence for consistent yield increases or pesticide reductions. However, mainstream media have continued to sell the promises of GM crops. That is – up until now. The New York Times in its recent examination of the evidence, concludes that the yield gains and pesticide reductions claimed by their inventors (and the governments that support their use) are just not evident. The article also exposes the profit motive among the likes of Bayer (the new owner of Monsanto) which both produces GM crops and sells the pesticides that they are designed for use with. Given that the balance of evidence for yield and pesticide use is increasingly tipping against continued GM crop cultivation and consumption — and in the absence of evidence of human and environmental safety — isn’t it time society en masse says ‘No to GM’?

UK medicines regulator attempts to block sale of CBD supplements

The UK Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued an opinion that all products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are medicinal, whether they are making medicinal claims or not. This means that any food supplement containing naturally-occurring CBD e.g. hemp oil, is now pending classification in the UK as a medicine and requires a full medicinal product licence (marketing authorisation) to remain on sale. Companies have been given 28 days to comply with this new decision and either initiate the process of obtaining a medical licence or remove their products from the shelves. The MHRA’s position has created a storm of protest campaigns given the impact to thousands of patients. Crispin Blunt MP has written to the MHRA saying that the decision to designate CBD as a medicine is directly contradicted by the Home Office’s position that cannabis has no medicinal value. ANH-Intl are taking up the baton, reaching out to affected companies and spearheading a campaign to protect consumer rights to health sovereignty.

GlaxoSmithkline withdraw Cervarix from US

FiercePharma report that GlaxoSmithKline have withdrawn Cervarix HPV vaccine from the US market due to low demand. The news came in the same week where the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended children under the age of 15 now only need two, not three doses of the HPV vaccine. The ACIP said this is due to the vaccine’s enhanced immunogenicity in children aged 9 to 14 years. They have also recommended a longer interval between doses of 6-12 months.

Lifespans are decreasing

A new report from the US Society of Actuaries (SOA) has predicted that life expectancy for Americans is decreasing. The report found that for 65-year-old males and females their expected lifespans have fallen by six months compared to projections in 2015. Dale Hall, the SOA’s managing director of research has explained that the, “slight decline in life expectancy [may be] a result of the slower average rate of mortality improvement.” But the trend is concurrent with the continued rise in obesity, unhealthy living habits, and lack of preventative or lifestyle-based disease management strategies such as ANH-Intl’s Food4Health guidelines. This report may have been about Americans, but it’s not just the US that’s facing a slower average rate of mortality improvement. With obesity rates rising exponentially year on year, the health of first world nations is steadily decreasing not improving.

Could Swedish online crackdown throw baby out with bath water?

In an attempt to bring so-called rogue supplement e-commerce into check, Sweden is creating a task force in its draconian National Food Agency (NFA) which aims to bring online standards closer to offline (retail) standards. While there are clearly rogue players selling online, our concern is that the NFA that has already banned many herbs and higher dose vitamins and even 100mg or more of N-acetyl-cysteine in supplements, will strike out on supplements that are indispensable for tens of thousands of health-conscious Swedes who use natural health as their preferred approach. Sports supplements and sexual health supplements will likely be first to be hit - and we will be watching this space very closely.

Coca-cola ‘monitoring’ health experts that may impact on their business

Coca-cola’s marketing strategy has taken an interesting new turn, as leaked emails show they are monitoring research at Sydney University that examines how private companies influence public health outcomes in areas such as obesity. Coca-Cola are closely monitoring the work of Professor Lisa Bero in particular, because her research studies the integrity of industry-sponsored research and how it is used to influence public policy. It’s now public knowledge that Coca-Cola plan to oppose regulation and sugar tax initiatives, whilst trying to maintain the appearance that they have public health issues at heart.

New Korean botanical blend for menopause symptom relief approved by EFSA

EFSA has approved a herbal root mix from Korea for use in menopause food supplements. The blend has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and in both laboratory and human studies has been proven effective for ameliorating the symptoms of menopause. The blend has been approved as a novel food and is the first Korean product to be authorised in Europe through this process.

How seaweed can feed the world

With populations increasing worldwide and the subsequent pressure on food production, focus is turning to new and diverse methods of both food production and food sources that are both sustainable and environmentally friendly. One such food source is seaweed, because it’s a food source that is replete with protein, vitamin C and iodine amongst a host of other vitamins and minerals. It doesn’t require freshwater to grow and doesn’t use up precious land space either. Seaweed also doesn’t require intensive agriculture and under optimal conditions species like kelp can grow up to 6 inches a month. There are many different phytonutrients in seaweed that we haven’t even begun to explore yet, so its health benefits are likely greater than currently known if the long-lived, seaweed-loving, Japanese are anything to go by. There are many kinds of seaweed and multiple methods of producing attractive and tasty food from it to suit a range of tastes and palates e.g. gluten-free, low carb seaweed pasta from Ireland which is already widely used in the UK.