Italy and vaccines

The ruling Democratic Party in Italy have proposed legislation to re-introduce mandatory vaccination for all children before they are allowed to enter either daycare or school. The largest opposition party, The 5-Stars have opposed the bill saying that parents should be allowed to choose and have previously proposed a law calling for “…better information and possible denial of administering vaccines”. The debate has become even more heated with news of a measles outbreak affecting almost 1,500 people blamed on a reduction in vaccination rates and a nurse who is said to have ‘pretended’ to administer vaccines, whilst throwing away the phials. Up to 20,000 children are thought to be at risk.

Ireland calls for cuts to child allowance if vaccine schedule not completed

Calls are being made in the Irish Republic for parents who don’t complete the full immunisation schedule for their children to lose 50% of their child allowance payments. Health Minister Simon Harris, who first urged GPs to fight anti-vaccine groups, has now been joined by Dr Ruairi Hanley in calling for all pre-teen girls to be given the HPV vaccine. However, the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, has said she is not in favour of punishing parents for non-compliance. The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has additionally called for boys to be included in the programme. However, as ANH-Intl have reported vociferously, parents are not being given sufficient information about the vaccine to allow them to evaluate the risks and make an informed decision. Parents are also not being told that simple sex education to delay the onset of sexual activity past the age of 14 is also a significantly protective strategy.

Unsafe levels of arsenic in baby food

Because it is grown in water rice is susceptible to becoming contaminated due to levels of arsenic in groundwater. New research published in the journal Plos One has found that levels of arsenic in babies being weaned using rice-based foods exceeds the EU inorganic arsenic (i-A) level of 0.1 mg/kg. Levels of urinary arsenic metabolites were analysed in 79 babies who were followed from birth (pre- and post-weaning samples were collected) and a subset followed post-weaning. Babies that were formula fed had a higher exposure to arsenic compared to those who were breastfed. The study also looked at levels of i-As in rice and rice-based weaning foods. Nearly ¾ of the foods tested exceeded the EU maximum i-A’s limit of 0.1 mg/kg. It should be noted that draft FAO/WHO standards propose a level of 0.35 mg/kg far higher than the level used in this study.

Belgium bans non-professional glyphosate use

Despite the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) Committee for Risk Assessment’s (RAC) conclusion that, “The available scientific evidence did not meet the criteria to classify glyphosate as a carcinogen”, Belgium’s Federal Minister of Agriculture, Willy Borsus, has announced that he wants to ban the sale and use of herbicides by non-professionals, voicing particular concern over glyphosate. Once this ban is implemented it will bring both the federal and regional governments in Belgium in line with each other, given that the Brussels Region and Wallonia have already banned the use of glyphosate by non-professionals.

Austria sells glyphosate free Roundup

In other news, glyphosate-free Roundup is now on sale in Austrian garden centres. Roundup AC (produced by Scotts, under licence from Monsanto) uses acetic acid in place of glyphosate. Is this the future for weed control around the home? Following the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) previous conclusion that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen” and their own admittance that it is unable to say that Roundup doesn’t cause cancer, as the full formulation has never been tested, Monsanto are clearly hedging their bets. If Scotts can prove the new product doesn’t cause harm to human health or the environment it could be considered a win/win situation both for Monsanto and those who have campaigned against glyphosate and its damaging effects.

Beetroot and anti-ageing

Beetroot is high in natural nitrates, which are converted to nitrites and then to nitric oxide (NO). NO has been shown to improve exercise performance in people of different ages. In a recent study researchers from the Wake Forest University looked at the effect of beetroot juice shots on brain function in older people. The study included 26 men and women aged 55 and older who did not exercise, had high blood pressure, and took no more than two medications for high blood pressure. Half the participants received a beetroot juice shot (Beet-It) containing 560 mg of nitrate one hour before exercise, three times a week for six weeks; the others received a placebo shot with very little nitrate. Results showed that the group drinking the Beetroot juice shot before exercise, showed a significantly enhanced motor function compared to the placebo group as well as increased brain connectivity comparable to that seen in younger adults

Gluten digesting enzyme

Results from trials using an enzyme know as Aspergillus niger-derived prolyl endoprotease (AN-PEP) have been presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2017. The enzyme has been designed to guard against accidental gluten exposure when out with friends, at restaurants or when there is doubt whether food is 100 percent gluten-free. Participants in the study, who were self-reported gluten sensitive, took either a high dose or low dose of AN-PEP or a placebo with a meal containing gluten. Researchers then measured levels of gluten in the stomach and intestine over a 3-hour period. Results showed both the high and low dose AN-PEP lowered the gluten concentrations in both the stomach and duodenum compared to placebo. This enzyme is not designed for use with coeliacs, as they cannot tolerate any amount of gluten.