Roundup to be labelled carcinogenic; How good is organic food?; Traditional remedy to fight MRSA; Vitamin D for good immunity; Bees in trouble; Vitamin B3 for eye health; Fasting reduces chronic disease risk
Roundup to be labelled carcinogenic
The IARC classified glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup as a 'probable carcinogen' (Class 2A) in March 2015. Ever since then Monsanto, the makers of Roundup, have tried to get the classification retracted. Their efforts to date have failed and in another blow, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan ruled that the product should be subject to Prop 65 warnings on the label. Kapetan has yet to issue a formal ruling, however Monsanto has already said that it will challenge the ruling if upheld. If Judge Kapetan issues a formal ruling California would be the first US state to carry out such labelling.
In other Monsanto news, another California federal judge has dismissed Monsanto's motion to dismiss public nuisance lawsuits filed by the cities of San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley suing Monsanto for costs associated with the cleanup of Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the environment. In a classic defence strategy Monsanto has tried to delay, deflect and deny the accusations made, but to no avail. Despite PCB's not being manufactured for the last 40 years they continue to persist in the environment and have recently been found in creatures living in the Mariana Trench — the deepest part of the world's oceans in the western Pacific Ocean! Cleanup of these persistent environmental chemicals is costly, time consuming and challenging due to the level of contamination.
How good is organic food for us?
A new report by Soil Association shows demand for organic food & drink has risen for the 5th year in a row. Annual UK sales were up 7.1% in 2016 to top £2 billion for the first time. As consumers begin to appreciate the health benefits of eating organic food, the European Parliament has published a report that considers the benefits of organic food and agriculture. There have been few studies that look at the benefits of organic foods v conventional foods and their effects on human health. Where such studies do exist there is no clear consensus on whether organically produced food is better for us or not. What we do know is that people who eat organic food tend to have healthier lifestyle and dietary patterns and with the restricted use of pesticides the risks to children's cognitive development are therefore reduced. Organic production of animals also restricts the use of antibiotics thus reducing the risk of antibiotic resistance. The European Parliament has developed five policy options in regards to the science reviewed in the report that may define future EU policy in this area and support organic production of food.
Traditional remedy may fight MRSA
Once again we can see that Traditional Medicine knows what it's doing. An extract of the fruit from the Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius) which has been used medicinally by indigenous people for centuries, may help in the fight against MRSA antibiotic resistant bacteria. Researchers have found that the extract can prevent mice infected with MRSA from developing skin lesions and had positive effects for up to two weeks. Whilst this is a potentially important discovery, pharmaceutical companies need to carry a patent on a product to make any profit. Natural substances can't be patented, which is why there is so much money spent on developing synthetic analogues of plant actives. In countries where there is a rich heritage of using medicinal herbs, there is a very real danger of the loss of this heritage and the traditional culture associated with it. This is something that is causing great concern in countries with long histories of traditional medicine, such as South Africa. Here pharmaceutical interests are trying to legislatively 'poach' the rights of native communities to use the traditional medicines they have relied on for many hundreds of years.
Vitamin D for good immunity
As EU Member States go-it-alone with setting their own maximum permitted levels (MPLs) for vitamins and mineral supplements, a new meta-analysis of randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trials from 14 countries on the supplementation of vitamin D3 and D2 has concluded that supplementation with vitamin D can reduce the risk of developing acute respiratory tract infection. The use of vitamin D was not found to increase the risk of serious adverse events of any kind. People who were very deficient experienced particular benefit from daily or weekly supplementation. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consulted on vitamin D levels last year. Their report concluded that a serum concentration of 25(OD)D of 50 nmol/L is a suitable target for all population groups and set an Adequate Intake of 15ug/day (600 IU) for adults. This is well below The Vitamin D Council recommendations of 125 ug/day (6000 IU) for adults.
Bees In trouble
The use of the pesticides known as neonicotinoids is banned in the EU. However, EU countries continue their use illegally despite the many independent studies that show the harm they are causing to bees and other pollinators, as reported by ANH-Intl previously. ClifentEarth, PAN Europe and Bee Life have published a new analysis called Bee Emergency Call, which shows that 62 exceptions have been granted for the use of these pesticides since the ban began in 2013. Many of the applications for exceptions have been by pesticide manufacturers including Bayer, Syngenta and BASF who are challenging the Commission's decision to ban these pesticides in the EU.
In the US, The University of Vermont has published a national study mapping the decline of wild bees across the country. The study suggests that wild bees have declined by 28% between 2008 and 2013. A 2014 White House presidential memo warned that, “over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies.” The places affected tend to grow speciality crops which are often dependent on wild pollinators. Along with increased use of pesticides, climate change and disease, it is also thought that loss of habitat has contributed to this rapid decline. This is an issue ANH-Intl has reported on many times and it would appear that things are continuing to worsen. For more information on bees and their needs have a look at ANH-Intl's chat with Alison Derrick, the co-founder of the company BeeInspired!
Vitamin B3 for good eye health
Once again, a study has indicated that vitamin supplementation may be beneficial. In a mouse study researchers found that mice that are genetically predisposed to developing glaucoma had a 93% reduction in disease risk after being supplemented with vitamin B3 (niacin). Levels of B vitamins tend to decline with age leaving elderly people at higher risk of developing glaucoma, which can lead to loss of sight. This study suggests that supplementation may be an effective way of reducing the risk of glaucoma as people age. For more information on the benefits of supplementation read our recent article - Vitamin supplements - rebutting fake prejudice.
Fasting reduces chronic disease risk
In a recent trial, researchers at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology compared subjects who followed a 'normal' diet for 3 months with subjects who undertook a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) for 5 consecutive days per month for 3 months. The 71 adults who followed the FMD programme (often known as caloric restriction) experienced reductions in cardiovascular risk factors, levels of inflammation, fasting blood glucose levels and IGF-1, as well as weight reduction and fat loss. The study used meal replacement products, however the same effects can be achieved by following a healthy diet as set out in our Food4Health Guidelines. ANH-Intl have discussed the benefits of fasting many times and recommend leaving at least 5 hours, snack-free time, between meals.