Antibiotic resistance increase; New GMO crops skirt regulations; Coca-Cola intentionally deceive consumers; No- & low-calorie sweeteners aid obesity; Glyphosate linked to liver disease; More Brexit hurdles for govt; Power of BigAgra boosted by EU trade agreement; Argentina may ban GMOs; GMO-processed natural sweeteners; Flu vaccine ineffective for entire flu season
Antibiotic Resistance increase
A report from the CDC in the US describes how a woman from Nevada has died following contracting an infection that was resistant to all the antibiotics used to treat it. The patient, a woman in her 70's had previously broken her femur whilst in India and contracted an infection. On her return to the US she was admitted to hospital where they found she was infected with Klebsiella pneumoniae, a carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE). The CDC identified the presence of New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase (NDM), which is known to confer resistance to many antibiotics and antimicrobials. Antibiotic resistance is now no longer a threat, but a reality.
New GMO crops skirt regulatory review
Monsanto have recently announced the launch of their new genome editing technology, the CRISPR-Cpf1 system. Similar to their previous system known as the CRISPR-Cas9 system, this new technology has the potential to make changes to a cell’s DNA, in fact it is able to make even more precise targeted alterations than its predecessor. The concept of altering DNA is similar to the older method of genetic modification, however these new tools are not viewed in the same category as their predecessors and as a result the genetically modified crops they produce will not be subject to the same lengthily regulatory (or safety!) reviews. Get informed about GMOs whilst you still have food choices.
Coca-Cola intentionally deceive consumers
A federal lawsuit was filed in the US last Wednesday against Coca-Cola, claiming they actively tried to cover up links between drinking sugary drinks and harmful health effects, including diabetes and obesity. The Centre for Science in the Public interest and the Praxis Project are the advocacy groups behind the lawsuit. They claim that, “For years, (Coca-Cola) have engaged in a pattern of deception to mislead and confuse the public… about the scientific consensus that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease”. They say that Coca-Cola used “…a sophisticated and multi-faced marketing plan to secretly fund biased studies”, alongside their use of deceptive ads to intentionally fool the consumer.
No- and low-calorie sweeteners aid obesity
An increase in the consumption of no- and low-calorie sweeteners has sparked recent debate over their impacts to health. A new study found that between 2009 and 2012 the number of children consuming such sweeteners has risen by a massive 200% and adults by 54%. Interestingly, the study also found that the frequency of consumption tallied with increases in adult body weight, supporting the hypothesis that artificial sweeteners are actually a causative factor in the obesity epidemic, rather than a solution.
Britain’s process of leaving the EU has become even more complicated. The Government faces two more potential hurdles along the way. Ireland’s courts are soon due to host a crowdfunded attempt to refer an appeal to the EU’s highest tribunal asking if Brexit is reversible. Meanwhile, the high court in London will hear a claim within the next couple of weeks “…arguing that the UK should remain in the European Economic Area after Brexit”.
EU Trade agreement may increase power of BigAgra
CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) is a trade agreement that has been negotiated between the EU and Canada. The agreement will allow companies to sue governments over any new law or policy and give them the ability to challenge new legislation that may impact their future profits. This will apply not only to Canadian companies but also US companies with Canadian offices (such as Monsanto!). On 2nd February, the European Parliament will vote on the agreement's implementation. If the agreement is ratified it could apply to the UK ahead of the conclusion of the Brexit process. Concerns have been expressed that this may provide a backdoor for The Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP), which we have reported on previously, along with a lowering of regulatory standards giving the potential for the influx of US GMO crops, food stuffs and currently banned pesticides into the EU. In other words, these agreements have the potential to increase the power of BigAgra and weaken the position of those in favour of small-scale GMO and pesticide free farming. Slow Food is calling for the complete rejection of CETA to maintain the protection of our health and our environment.
Argentina may ban GMO Crops
Sustainable Pulse reported last month that the Argentinian Federal Prosecutor, Fabian Canda, has filed an official request to the Federal Administrative Court of Buenos Aires to prohibit the sale of GMO seeds due to the probable harm to human and environmental health caused by glyphosate herbicides. He has also called for the aerial spraying of these herbicides to be banned and a 5 km no-spray zone to be put in place around population centres, schools, villages, farm houses, rivers, lakes and groundwater wells. Canda stated that, “It is appropriate to apply the precautionary principle and consider the conclusions of scientific studies and technical reports carried out at the local and international level, including reports produced by control bodies such as the Auditor General’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office.” A decision on the request will be released in the first 3 months of 2017.
New GMO-processed ‘natural sweetener’ set to hit the market
As the UK 'sugar tax' looms ever closer manufacturers are now turning their attention to producing new sweeteners to replace the sugar in foods and drinks in order to avoid the tax. Stevia is a popular plant based 'natural' sweetener, but it does have a noticeable aftertaste that manufacturers are keen to eliminate. Cargill/Evolva have released details of EverSweet this week. The most well known Stevia extract is a steviol glycoside called Reb A, which can be extracted in commercial quantities. Two other glycosides known as Reb M and Reb D are better tasting, but are present in such small quantities it is not commercially viable to extract them. The new process uses a genetically engineered baker's yeast to convert sugars from corn dextrose (you can use cane sugar) into the more desirable Reb M and Reb D glycosides via a fermentation process. Because the genetically engineered yeast (using a process known as synthetic biology) is ostensibly not present in the final product, it will not have to be labelled as containing GMOs in the US. Better tasting, GMO-processed or not, artificial sweeteners do not offer the Shangri-La of sugar havens for manufacturers or consumers and come with their own list of adverse health impacts.
Flu vaccine not effective for entire flu season
A new study published in Clinical Infectious Disease journal last month has warned that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine may wane over the course of a flu season, leading to a reduced effectiveness later in the season. Results showed that the vaccine for some flu types was reduced by more than half and almost entirely for another after five or six months. Although there are the usual calls for more research, there seems to be enough evidence now to suggest early vaccination against flu i.e. in July or August should be discouraged. For more information about the flu vaccine and natural methods to modulate your immune system revisit previous ANH-Intl articles on the subject.