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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Raft-building ants exhibit memory

This is interesting because it was believed brains had to be a certain size to have a certain complexity, which allowed memory.
  1. Researchers focused on Formica selysi, an ant species found in floodplains in central and southern Europe.
  2. Ants cluster together during floods in order to survive.
  3. These ants repeatedly go to the same position when they build a raft with their bodies.
There have been other studies about other social insects, like bees, which show some surprising intelligence also. There are also some bees which generate their own heat! It was thought that no animal except mammals and birds could generate their own heat.


Source
ScienceDaily, Apr 18, 2016.

Friday, April 29, 2016

History of "safe" products: thalidomide

Thalidomide was a drug first marketed in West Germany in 1957. During this time the effects on pregnant women and the fetus was not studied carefully. It was used as a sedative, and used to treat anxiety, gastritis, insomnia, and nausea and excessive morning sickness in pregnant women. Shortly after the drug was introduced in West Germany about 5000-7000 babies were born with malformed or missing limbs. Only about 40% of these babies survived. Limbs could have appeared as stumps, or missing altogether. An example is hands joined at the shoulder with no arm bones in between.

Thalidomide is currently used for treating immune system problems such as Crohn's disease, skin problems that won't respond to other treatments, HIV/AIDS, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis.

In 1958 Chemie Grünenthal approached William S Merrell Company in Cincinnati, Ohio who then approached the US FDA six times to market the drug in the US but the FDA declined as Chemie Grünenthal provided no test results to show the safety of thalidomide. The FDA approved the drug for testing in the US and huge quantities entered the US.

In November 1961 thalidomide was taken off the US market after a large amount of pressure from the media and the public. Thalidomide was sold in pharmacies in Canada until 1962.

In 1962, FDA pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey received the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service from President John F. Kennedy for blocking sale of thalidomide in the United States.

Since 1965 Brazilian physicians used thalidomide to treat ENL, a painful skin condition, caused by leprosy.

In 1968 an agreement was reached with the Distillers Company, who distributed the drug in the UK, with victims of thalidomide.  The settlement, called the Thalidomide Trust, was increased in 2005 by Distillers.

Chemie Grünenthal continued to deny harmful effects for nearly 50 years. Until...
On 31 August 2012, Grünenthal chief executive Harald F. Stock, PhD, who served as the Chief Executive Officer of Grünenthal GmbH from January 2009 to May 28, 2013 and was also a Member of Executive Board until May 28, 2013, apologized for the first time for producing the drug and remaining silent about the birth defects.[91] At a ceremony, Stock unveiled a statue of a disabled child to symbolize those harmed by thalidomide and apologized for not trying to reach out to victims for over 50 years. At the time of the apology, there were 5,000 to 6,000 sufferers still alive. Victim advocates called the apology "insulting" and "too little, too late"...


Sources
Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Monsanto and EU hid studies showing glyphosate was dangerous

News from July 13, 2011.

Don't forget, these past articles show a history of corruption with Monsanto, putting profit above people. 

A report from Open Earth Sources (OES) shows Monsanto and EU regulators conspired to hide studies showing glyphosate exposure caused birth defects, DNA damage, endocrine disruption, and more. The European Commission approved glyphosate despite knowing about these results. Studies as far back as the 1980s showed problems with glyphosate and lab animals, which are accepted models for use in studies of substances that might harm humans.


Source
i-sis.org.uk. Last accessed Apr 17, 2016.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pesticides in organic and non-organic food

Remember: The USDA Organic program allows non-approved chemicals and GMO products if no other organic product is available. USDA Organic does not mean organic! More info here on the USDA Organic Program. Look for Non-GMO Project verified instead.

Below: Just a few points about how often pesticides occur in certain foods.


Below: Foods most likely to have pesticides:

Below: Highest and lowest ranked in pesticides:
The corn is hard to believe since 92% of corn grown in the US is Roundup Ready.

Below: Pesticides found in 15% of organic foods in 2014. Source: Foodsafety News.

Below:  And what's the effect of pesticides?

Below: And what about conventional, vs "natural", vs "organic"?

Below: What level of pesticides does one person have?
Source: Off-Grid. Urine levels of pesticides were 6.7x higher before he ate organic foods. After eating organic, pesticide levels dropped by a factor of 6.7x.



A summary of fibromyalgia.

When one talks about alternative medicine one cannot forget conditions like ME/CFS and fibromyalgia. These have both been dismissed by the majority of American doctors, much like they dismissed Celiac disease (discovered in the 1950s) and HIV. Here is a summary of facts.
  1. About 2-5% of US adults have fibromyalgia. 
  2. It can take an average of 5 years for a person to get a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. It is not well understood, so it must be diagnosed by eliminating other possibilities. 
  3. FM is characterized by: pain in at least 11 of 18 points. 
  4. Sleep disturbances. Trouble getting to sleep, feeling tired when they wake up.
  5. Irritable bowel or similar symptoms.
  6. Cognitive problems also called "fibro fog". 
  7. Fibromyalgia often occurs (up to 25-65%) with other rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ankylosing spondylitis.
  8. Fatigue that won't go away.
  9. Widespread stiffness, aching, and burning sensations. (Of course this will lead to sleeping problems and fatigue!)
  10. Many patients report they can't get to sleep, and when they do, they wake up still feeling tired. This might be a lack of proper REM sleep. A sleep study might help determine if they get enough REM sleep but many American insurances do not cover this.
  11. Frequent peeing caused by bladder spasms. 
  12. Researchers have also found abnormalities in the hormone system known as the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland (HPA) axis. The HPA axis controls important functions, including sleep, the stress response, and depression. Disturbances to the HPA axis is correlated to exposure to BPA. See Chen 2014 below. 
  13. Fibromyalgia can be triggered by infection of Epstein-Barr virus or Lyme disease, chronic physical or emotional stress, hormonal changes, emotional trauma of an accident, "seeing the elephant" (believing you will truly not survive a given situation), or medications.
  14. Abnornally thick vascular walls, which may prevent enough oxygen from getting to the muscle.

For medical coding using ICD9-CM, FM is usually coded as 729.1, "Myositis and Myalgia, unspecified". Overall, many of the symptoms above seem to be inflammatory symptoms.

Treatments
FM is not well understood so not all treatments will work well for all, or even a majority of people. Treatments include:
  1. Aerobic and resistant exercise for the pain. 
  2. Psychological support to deal with the frustration and depression. 
  3. Some medications to address the pain and lack of good sleep. Some medications the FDA has approved for fibromyalgia: Lyrica, Cymbalta, Savella, which all help reduce pain.
  4. Relaxation training. 
  5. Acupuncture, chiropractic treatments help most patients. But again, many American insurances cover neither.
FM can be difficult and expensive to diagnose and patients have to put up with pathological disbelief, but, with much persistence, once diagnosed it can be treated. But not all treatments will work well for all people. 

Sources
  1. Chen F, Zhou L, Bai Y, Zhou R, Chen L. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis hyperactivity accounts for anxiety- and depression-like behaviors in rats perinatally exposed to bisphenol A. J Biomed Res. 2015 May;29(3):250-8. doi: 10.7555/JBR.29.20140058. Epub 2014 Nov 12. PMID: 26060449. Link to NIH abstract.
  2. CDC. Fibromyalgia page from the CDC. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016.  
  3. FDA. Living with Fibromyalgia. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016.  
  4. Fibromyalgia center. University of Maryland. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016. 
  5. Fibromyalgia: Maligned, Misunderstood and (Finally) Treatable. Scientific American. May 27, 2014.
  6. Fibromyalgia criteria from American College of Rheumatology. Link to PDF.  
  7. Fibromyalgia on Medscape.
  8. Fibromyalgia treatment on Medscape
  9. JAMA articles on musculoskeletal issues.
  10. National Fibromyalgia Association page. Contains history of FM and latest research and much more info. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016.
  11. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016.
  12. NIH Pubmed page on fibromyalgia. Lots of links to studies here. Last accessed Apr 13, 2016.
  13. NORML and fibromyalgia and pot. A few small studies show THC reduces pain. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016.
  14. ScienceDaily Fibromyalgia articles. Last accessed Apr 10, 2016.
  15. Understanding Fibromyalgia and Its Related Disorders. (2008). Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 10(2), 133–144. Link to NIH study

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Margaret Hamburg bribed her way into FDA.

Former FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg bribed her way into the FDA by paying Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Major US company Johnson and Johnson also involved. 

Source
Natural News. April 25, 2016.
The lawsuit is here at Scribd.

The Detox Project will be testing for glyphosate

The program was so popular that they have had to stop testing until they get a bigger lab!

The Detox Project, partnered with some NGOs, have been looking for 3 years to find the best way to test for glyphosate in foods and urine. Here are some bullet points about why and how to test for glyphosphate:
  1. Agencies should be testing for glyphosate in food.
  2. ELISA testing is not reliable. Don't use it. 
  3. Minimum limits of detection of should be 0.5 parts per billion (PPB) or lower for urine and water and under 20 PPB for food samples.
  4. Validated or Verified LC/MS/MS (Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry) testing methods are the most responsible methods.
  5. Some LC/MS/MS methods used by the food industry are inaccurate.

Source
Detox Project. A description of good testing practices.
Detox Project on getting the testing

Glyphosate in wines that weren't even sprayed

10 wines were tested for glyphosate. All 10 tested positive, even the organic ones. Even your organic food is not safe. It seems nothing can escape the glyphosphate plague.

More organic foods contaminated with Roundup:

2015-07-01 Which foods are mostly likely contaminated with glyphosate? The US code of federal regulations allows this food to contain glyphosate at these levels:
  1. 400 ppm: for animal feed, nongrass, group 18
  2. 310 ppm: for grain aspirated fractions
  3. 300 ppm: for grass, forage, fodder and hay, group 17
  4. 210 ppm: for cotton gin byproducts
  5. 200 ppm: for peppermint and spearmint tops, soybean hay, leucaena and kenaf forage
  6. 120 ppm: for soybean hulls
  7. 100 ppm: for soybean forage, corn, field, stover, grain, cereal forage, fodder and straw, group 16, except field corn, forage and field corn, stover, teff hay and forage
  8. 40 ppm: for oilseeds, group 20 (includes sunflower and cottonseed), except canola
  9. 30 ppm: for barley bran, grain, cereal, group 15 (includes rice, sorghum, wheat, barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, rye) except field corn, popcorn, rice, sweet corn, and wild rice, sugarcane molasses
  10. 25: for almond hulls, beet, sugar, dried pulp
  11. 20 ppm: for canola seed, soybean seed
  12. 13 ppm: for corn, field, forage
  13. 10 ppm: for beet, sugar, roots and tops
  14. 8 ppm: for dried peas
  15. 7 ppm: for hop, dried cones, certain spices, instant tea
  16. 5 ppm: for carrot, quinoa grain, teff grain, legumes except soybean and dry pea, cattle, hog, sheep, and goat meat byproducts, corn, field, grain,
  17. 3.5 ppm: for corn, sweet, kernel plus cob with husk removed
  18. 3 ppm: for shellfish, sweet potato
  19. 2 ppm: for Mexican oregano leaves, sugarcane

2016-04-26 USDA certified organic foods. "A new investigation by Tropical Traditions has revealed that the U.S. organic grain market is contaminated with glyphosate. Sadly, the presence of glyphosate residue was found in organic wheat and other organic grains, including organic barley, oats, spelt, and einkorn (an ancient strain of wheat)."

Source
Organic Consumers. April 12, 2016.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monsanto breaks law in India by smuggling GMO seeds


  • Monsanto-Mahyco Biotech brought 100 grams of cotton seeds into India, containing the MON531-Bt gene, without the approval of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
  • Monsanto-Mahyco started large scale, open field trials of said Bt cotton in 40 locations spread across nine states, again without GEAC approval. (These could easily mix with non-GMO cotton, and Monsanto would have be able to collect huge fines from impoverished farmers.)
  • Some of this GMO cotton was sold in open markets. 
  • Indian law does not permit patents on seeds and in agriculture. 
  • US officials have pressured India's gov't to change their laws about this.  
  • And more cheap tricks by Monsanto. See article.


Source
GMO Inside. Mar 1, 2016. Link to article.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Microbeads

Microbeads have been in the news here and there. They are tiny, plastic, non-soluble beads that are sometimes put into liquid soaps to add a scrubbing action. These microbeads get washed down the drain, to the water treatment plant. As there is no US law requiring them to be removed they go right out to the lakes, rivers, and to the seas.

The base of an aquatic ecosystem is algae and bacteria. These are eaten by critters one level up the food chain with a generic name of "plankton". Plankton eat very tiny things, including microbeads  in the ocean. Since the microbeads are not digestible, the organism gets full of microbeads, cannot eat any thing else, and starves to death.

This plastic doesn't physically break down much more, but it also absorbs toxins. When other animals eat high-toxin microbeads, the animals can produce damaged young, or simply die.


Data bits: 
  1. Microbeads are typically 1mm or smaller but it depends on the agency and how the define "microbead". On the ingredients list look for ingredients of plastics, like polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or polymethyl methacrylate.
  2. Plastic particles store PCBs up to 100,000 to 1 million times the levels found in ocean water. 
  3. "Microplastics" are microbeads but also tiny plastic particles that have broken down from larger plastic pieces. If you are researching this, also use the search term "microplastics". 
  4. Some microbeads float, some sink. It all depends on the density of the material they are made from. 
  5. Some studies show microbeads are "safe", like the one by Karposi 2014 which studied sea urchins, but the study was only 5 days long, hardly enough to show subclinical non-obvious effects. 
  6. The US emits enough 100um microbeads to cover more than 300 tennis courts each day. 
  7. The oceans contain about 250,000 tons of microbeads
  8. Microbeads have been found in St. Lawrence sediment.
  9. In St. Lawrence sediment they found more than 1000 microbeads per liter of sediment.

How you can help.

  • Stop buying products with microbeads. Look on the label for the word "microbeads" or look for the materials in Data Bits bullet 1. 
  • Email your congress person to tell them you support banning microbeads. 
If humans destroy the base of the foodchain, that hurts us.

Sources
  1. List of studies on Beat The Microbead
  2. Microbeads, a Science Summary. Canada. July 2015. Link to PDF.
  3. Rochman, Chelsea, et al. Scientific evidence Supports a Ban on Microbeads. Environmental Science and Technology. Sep 3, 2015. Link to PDF
  4. Rowshyra A. Castañeda, Suncica Avlijas, M. Anouk Simard, Anthony Ricciardi, Ralph Smith. Microplastic pollution in St. Lawrence River sediments. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2014-0281. Link to abstract.
  5. Schneiderman, Eric T. Unseen threat: How Microbeads Harm New York Waters, Wildlife, Health, and Environment. New York State Attorney General. This PDF has tables showing max concentrations of microbeads per sq km, and average concentrations in the Great Lakes. There is also a map of the Great Lakes showing the density of microbeads at various sample sites. Link to PDF.
  6. ScienceDaily search for "microbead". Last accessed Apr 20, 2016.

Sperm counts declining

Are sperm counts declining?

  1. A 1992 study (by Elizabeth Carlson) analyzed 61 studies of semen quality covering 15,000 men among 23 different countries. From 1938 to 1991 the sperm count decline was 50% (113 million sperm to 66 million per ml). 
  2. A 1995 French publication noted a 30% decline from 1970 to 1992 (89 to 60 million/ml).
  3. Another study looked at French sperm counts from 1989 to 2005. It involved 26,000 men and counts dropped from 73.6 million to 49.9 million sperm/ml. Various factors were controlled for like socioeconomic status and age.

Summary
1938 count: 113 million sperm/ml
1970 count: 89 million
1989 count: 73.6 million
1991 count: 66 million
1992 count: 60 million
2005 count: 49.9 million

From 1938 to 2005 (67 years) levels dropped to 44% of 1938 levels.

Theories of cause include increased endocrine disruptors in our food and bodies (this includes Roundup and BPA and other phthalates), jobs where men sit for most of the day, and too many hot jacuzzi hot tubs.


Sources
  1. Sherins, RJ, Delbes, G. Is there a decline in sperm counts in men? American Society of Andrology. 
  2. “Decline in semen concentration and morphology in a sample of 26 609 men close to general population between 1989 and 2005 in France”, by M. Rolland, J. Le Moal, V. Wagner, D. Royère, and J. De Mouzon. Human Reproduction journal. doi:10.1093/humrep/des415. Link to abstract
  3. Pacey, A. A. (2013). Are sperm counts declining? Or did we just change our spectacles? Asian Journal of Andrology, 15(2), 187–190. http://doi.org/10.1038/aja.2012.165. Link to full study. EPUB and PDF also available.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Facebook to censor "hate speech"

I don't have a problem with people censoring hate speech, if the words actually fit the dictionary definition. But some people of the younger generation have redefined hate speech to be "anything that hurts my feewings". This definition is not acceptable because free speech already does not allow hate speech in the US, and censoring free speech is not acceptable. Nor is kissing the arse of a vocal minority who can't handle when someone disagrees with them.

The Social Justice Warriors have created a cult of hate and intolerance, whereby if they don't like something, they claim "hate speech", and demand "safe spaces" where people cannot disagree with them. This SJW mentality has spread to poison more people on the periphery of the SJW movement.

For an alternative to Facebook go to this newer site: Seen.life.  You got tired of endless requests for Farmville items, right? No ID required, encrypted chat rooms, unlimited friends, they won't collect OR sell your data.

Speak out against intolerance and hate wherever you see it. Just don't complain if someone calls you out for not even knowing the difference between suppressing hate speech, and being intolerant. Even if people disagree they can still be civil.


Sources
Before it's news.

Friday, April 22, 2016

MS treatment makes symptoms disappear for 73% of people

Dr. Paolo Zamboni found a cure for most MS sufferers. It's a simple operation to un-restrict blood flow out of the brain. After treatment 73% of people reported zero symptoms. Zero.

Dr. Zamboni thinks MS is caused by a blockage of pathways that remove iron out of the brain.  After looking at some people he found 90% of people with MS have a malformed or blockage of a vein coming out of the brain. The operation is simple: a catheter is threaded from the leg artery up to the brain and a balloon is inflated to undo the blockage, allowing the blood to flow freely.


Source
Here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cannabidiol


There has been information about cannabidiol, or CBD, for many years. CBD is an extract of hemp or marijuana but without the psychotropic properties of THC. CBD is reported to have many benefits including:
  1. Support of energy functions at the mitochondrial level. (Scientific American.) (Some scientists that study ME/CFS think dysfunction with the mitochondria is part of the CFS puzzle.)
  2. Reduction of epileptic seizures in some cases. 
  3. Treatment of bipolar or depression. 
  4. Treatment of arthritis. 
  5. Treatment of MS. 
Hemp oil is not the same as CBD, which is also different from high-CBD marijuana oil. People often confuse them. THC levels are not  high enough in hemp to make a person high. Some breeders are breeding for low-THC and high-CBD strains of marijuana.

Allopathic (typical family) doctors and mainstream science have a long history, hundreds of years, of ignoring the scientific method for various reasons, but especially when it comes to company profits.
The Dravet Foundation tells you they’re looking into uses of CBD, and they realize many families are inquiring, then they even offer physicians an application for submitting their research and suggestions. Coming in under the tradename “Epidiolex” from GW Pharmaceuticals, some pharma formulation of CBD is now in late stage trials. This is a deliberate attempt to monopolize and patent a version of a natural remedy so nobody else can sell any form of CBD.
Because CBD has worked so well on so many issues, the FDA is outlawing it by excepting it from the supplement rules.
“cannabidiol products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition under section 201(ff)(3)(B)(ii) of the FD&C Act. Under that provision, if a substance (such as cannabidiol) has been authorized for investigation as a new drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public, then products containing that substance are outside the definition of a dietary supplement.” FDA is sending out “violation” warning letters to CBD makers – saying they are selling “adulterated products.”
While growing hemp was banned from the US with the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, I am now seeing drinks and foods with hemp seed in them at the stores. Dr. Gupta in a 2013 CNN article wrote:
On August 14, 1970, the Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Roger O. Egeberg wrote a letter recommending the plant, marijuana, be classified as a schedule 1 substance, and it has remained that way for nearly 45 years. My research started with a careful reading of that decades old letter. What I found was unsettling. Egeberg had carefully chosen his words:

"Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marijuana be retained within schedule 1 at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue."

Not because of sound science, but because of its absence, marijuana was classified as a schedule 1 substance. Again, the year was 1970. Egeberg mentions studies that are underway, but many were never completed.
So they banned a substance where we didn't have hard evidence that it was dangerous, but it was thought to be dangerous. Yet the FDA doesn't assume substances are dangerous anymore, like Vioxx, glyphosphate, lead paint, DDT, Agent Orange, cigarettes, BPA, PCBs, thalidomide or asbestos. The FDA rules are inconsistent and so it's decisions cannot be trusted.

CBD can use some more study into how to dose it for different people. Laws could be reformed so people could benefit from a plant-based treatment. But hysterical, irrational senators and representatives prevent this from moving forward.

From National Congress of State Legislatures:
President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014, or the 2014 Farm Bill, which featured Section 7606 allowing for universities and state departments of agriculture to begin cultivating industrial hemp for limited purposes.
Michigan, M.C.L.A. 286.841 to 286.844
  • Authorizes the state department of agriculture and rural development and colleges and universities in the state to grow or cultivate, or both, industrial hemp for purposes of research conducted under an agricultural pilot program or other agricultural or academic research project.
  • Establishes an industrial hemp research fund to support research into growing or cultivating, or both, industrial hemp and grants to colleges or universities in this state to conduct research into growing or cultivating, or both, industrial hemp.
Update: CBD oil legal in Michigan without prescription? As always, check with a lawyer to verify how legal it really is.

More updates will be here. 

2016-04-22. 
DEA approves way to smoke marijuana. The DEA green-lit a clinical trial of smoked marijuana for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in American military veterans, a spokesperson for the government agency confirmed to Fortune. Yahoo news


Sources
  1. Hemp Farming Act of 2015 would allow US farmers to grow hemp. S.134 version from Senate. HR 525 from the House of Rep. Hemp defined as less than 0.3% of THC content.
  2. Truth Wiki.
  3. Wikipedia. Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. Never passed into law.
More info

  1. NIH search for studies. This covers all their collections. Last accessed April 21, 2016.
  2. CBD legal in all 50 states? No law change was cited as evidence.
  3. FASEB journal says CBD still illegal in the US as a class I drug. 2014. 
  4. For dosage, this says 25mg a day, twice a day. 
  5. MM forum



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Consensus: Roundup is bad!

Roundup, aka glyphosate, is a problem if it enters the food chain, or enters water systems as it can hurt living organisms in the water. It can enter the food chain because farmers spray it on crops to kill them just before harvest, and then instructions say the crop can be harvested only 2 days after spraying. More problems occur if the chemical gets into waterways, kills wildlife, or destroys the food chain there. Since there is no way to prevent glyphosate from getting into waterways, it is overall, a very dangerous chemical.

There is finally a consensus among non-Monsanto-bribed scientists that Roundup is a powerful endocrine disrupting chemical that is very bad for the health of everyone at all ages. This report wants to reclassify glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".

There are many studies found throughout this blog how glyphosate is found in foods, and the problems it causes, I won't repeat them here. Industry has been lobbying to avoid labeling any GMO foods (which includes food containing glyphosate), spending millions of dollars. If glyphosate was so safe, why all the lobbying? Wouldn't the product safety and studies speak for themselves?

Monsanto still says Roundup is not a carcinogen. That's odd, because before they used to say it's safe on all fronts. Now they say it's not safe, but it's not a carcinogen. See also coverups from asbestos industry, lead industry, cigarette industry, Vioxx, thalidomide, DES, BPA, fracking, adulterated food in the US and UK, aspartame, the list goes on including the denial that marijuana products can actually help. The fact that the WHO declared Roundup a "possible carcinogen", instead of a "probable carcinogen" is more politics than science.

Source

  • Myers, John Peterson Myers, Michael N. Antoniou, Bruce Blumberg, Lynn Carroll, Theo Colborn, Lorne G. Everett, Michael Hansen, Philip J. Landrigan, Bruce P. Lanphear, Robin Mesnage, Laura N. Vandenberg, Frederick S. vom Saal, Wade V. Welshons and Charles M. Benbrook. Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement. Environmental Health 201615:19. DOI: 10.1186/s12940-016-0117-0. Link to full study. Open access article. You can also download a PDF or EPUB for free. Alt link on archive.is
  • The Big study list on glyphosate and other chemicals.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When Monsanto stole their farms

In 2013 the US Supreme court sided with Monsanto in a case where farmers were saving Monsanto GMO seed to grow the next year. The courts agreed with Monsanto that saving seed violates a written and signed agreement with the farmers.

A related issue: If pollen from GMO seed gets into another Farmer2's fields, that means Farmer2 is violating a Monsanto agreement, which he didn't even know about or sign! And farms have been taken away via this technicality because the farmers couldn't pay the Monsanto fine. This is also called "genetic drift". (Case 1, the Fitzgeralds in 2001.)

Read more about consistent treachery from Monsanto at the Monsanto Timeline. The EPA knew in 1987 that glyphosate caused cancer in rats. Also on that page.

Source
  1. Ecowatch
  2. Case: Bowman vs Monsanto. Link to PDF.
  3. These Charts Show Every Genetically Modified Food People Already Eat in the U.S. Time. Apr 30 2015. It's not just the GMOs that are grown in the US, it's the GMOs that are eaten in the US too. 
Related info
2001. Monsanto sues the Nelson farm in North Dakota. Nelson Farm.
2013-05-13. Mr. Bowmen in Indiana loses lawsuit from Monsanto. Result: farmers cannot save GMO seed from one crop to the next. ABC. 2014-08-29. Monsanto doesn't lose a single case against farmers out of 145 lawsuits. NaturalSociety.com.
2015-09-29. Monsanto sues farmer for cleaning GMO Monsanto seed. Modern Farmer.

France to ban glyphosate

France will ban glyphosate that contains certain additives, after France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy called for the ban. The European Food Safety Agency mentioned that glyphosate appeared to have more risks when mixed with certain additives like surfactants, which allow the glyphosate to better penetrate the leaves. The EFSA has typically said in the past that glyphosate was safe.


Sources
GMO Inside.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Disease and microbiota in the gut

Microbiome: all the bacteria, good and bad, that live within and on the surface of the body.

There are some studies that suggest an imbalanced microbiome, either on the skin or in the gut, is the cause of some disease, including autoimmune diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia. There are also studies that show correlation of an incorrect microbiome to obesity.

This study by Ridaura (2013) shows that mice without certain Bacterioides bacteria tend to be obese. It also has some interesting graphs.This study shows that people who are obese tend to have a higher ratio of Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes bacteria. That is, higher Firmicutes and less Bacteroidetes.

This study tries to find a correlation between diabetes type 1 and gut bacteria.

Scientists even divide people into 3 groups based on their gut bacteria composition.

Systemic antibiotics can have a negative impact on these gut bacteria. Some people recover their healthy ratio of bacteria, others never do. And it is suspected that imbalanced bacteria cause other autoimmune problems. So avoid antiobiotics, especially systemic ones.

For more fun sites try these:
  • What germs are on your cellphones and shoes? Link


Sources
  1. Arumugam M, Raes J, Pelletier E, Le Paslier D, Yamada T, Mende DR, Fernandes GR, Tap J, Bruls T, Batto JM, Bertalan M, Borruel N, Casellas F, Fernandez L, Gautier L, Hansen T, Hattori M, Hayashi T, Kleerebezem M, Kurokawa K, Leclerc M, Levenez F, Manichanh C, Nielsen HB, Nielsen T, Pons N, Poulain J, Qin J, Sicheritz-Ponten T, Tims S, Torrents D, Ugarte E, Zoetendal EG, Wang J, Guarner F, Pedersen O, de Vos WM, Brunak S, Doré J; MetaHIT Consortium, Antolín M, Artiguenave F, Blottiere HM, Almeida M, Brechot C, Cara C, Chervaux C, Cultrone A, Delorme C, Denariaz G, Dervyn R, Foerstner KU, Friss C, van de Guchte M, Guedon E, Haimet F, Huber W, van Hylckama-Vlieg J, Jamet A, Juste C, Kaci G, Knol J, Lakhdari O, Layec S, Le Roux K, Maguin E, Mérieux A, Melo Minardi R, M'rini C, Muller J, Oozeer R, Parkhill J, Renault P, Rescigno M, Sanchez N, Sunagawa S, Torrejon A, Turner K, Vandemeulebrouck G, Varela E, Winogradsky Y, Zeller G, Weissenbach J, Ehrlich SD, Bork P. Enterotypes of the human gut microbiome. Nature. 2011 May 12;473(7346):174-80. doi: 10.1038/nature09944. Epub 2011 Apr 20. Erratum in: Nature. 2011 Jun 30;474(7353):666. Nature. 2014 Feb 27;506(7489):516. PubMed PMID: 21508958; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3728647. NIH abstract. NIH full study.
  2. Human Microbiome Project. Studying microbiomes to understand their role in human health. They also have the genomes of reference strains of bacteria. Link here.
  3. Giongo, A., Gano, K. A., Crabb, D. B., Mukherjee, N., Novelo, L. L., Casella, G., … Triplett, E. W. (2011). Toward defining the autoimmune microbiome for type 1 diabetes. The ISME Journal, 5(1), 82–91. http://doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2010.92.  
  4. Grice EA, Kong HH, Conlan S, Deming CB, Davis J, Young AC, NISC Comparative Sequencing Program, Bouffard GG, Blakesley RW, Murray PR, Green ED, Turner ML, Segre JA; Kong; Conlan; Deming; Davis; Young; Bouffard; Blakesley; Murray; Green; Turner; Segre (2009). "Topographical and Temporal Diversity of the Human Skin Microbiome". Science 324 (5931): 1190–2. Bibcode:2009Sci...324.1190G. doi:10.1126/science.1171700. PMC 2805064. PMID 19478181. NIH full study.
  5. Home Microbiome site. Link. "The Home Microbiome Study is lead by PI Jack Gilbert, postdoc Daniel Smith, and technician Jarrad Hampton-Marcell at Argonne National Laboratories, and funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. This study is working in collaboration with MicroBE.net and the Earth Microbiome Project to bring together microbial samples from as many environments as possible in order to understand how microbial community structure is shaped by environmental factors."
  6. Ridaura VK, Faith JJ, Rey FE, Cheng J, Duncan AE, Kau AL, Griffin NW, Lombard V, Henrissat B, Bain JR, Muehlbauer MJ, Ilkayeva O, Semenkovich CF, Funai K, Hayashi DK, Lyle BJ, Martini MC, Ursell LK, Clemente JC, Van Treuren W, Walters WA, Knight R, Newgard CB, Heath AC, Gordon JI. Gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate metabolism in mice. Science. 2013 Sep 6;341(6150):1241214. doi: 10.1126/science.1241214. PubMed PMID: 24009397; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3829625. NIH abstract. This one has fascinating charts.
  7. Turnbaugh, P. J., Hamady, M., Yatsunenko, T., Cantarel, B. L., Duncan, A., Ley, R. E., … Gordon, J. I. (2009). A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature, 457(7228), 480–484. http://doi.org/10.1038/nature07540. Full study at NIH
  8. Wikipedia page for "microbiota". Many studies here.
  9. Turnbaugh PJ, Ley RE, Mahowald MA, Magrini V, Mardis ER, Gordon JI. An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature. 2006 Dec 21;444(7122):1027-31. PubMed PMID: 17183312 NIH abstract. "Comparisons of the distal gut microbiota of genetically obese mice and their lean littermates, as well as those of obese and lean human volunteers have revealed that obesity is associated with changes in the relative abundance of the two dominant bacterial divisions, the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes."
  10. Wolf, K. J., & Lorenz, R. G. (2012). Gut Microbiota and Obesity. Current Obesity Reports, 1(1), 1–8. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-011-0001-8. Link to NIH full study
  11. Zimmer, Carl. Gut Bacteria Divide People into 3 Groups. New York Times, Apr 20, 2011. Link to articleLink to Nature article.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Monsanto stock price down 25% in past 12 months.

Monsanto's own stock chart here.

Increased phthalates found in fast food consumers


  1. They looked at BPA and urinary metabolites of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (ΣDEHPm) and diisononyl phthalate (DiNPm) among 8877 subjects of the US population.
  2. Participants with high consumption  had 23.8% and 39.0%  higher levels of ΣDEHPm and DiNPm than participants with lower fast food exposure. No correlation with BPA. 
  3. Phthalates can enter the body though inhalation, through the skin, or through contaminated food or water. 
  4. Data used was from the 2003-2010 NHANES from the CDC.
Source
Zota, Ami R., Cassandra A. Phillips, and Susanna D. Mitro. Recent Fast Food Consumption and Bisphenol A and Phthalates Exposures among the U.S. Population in NHANES, 2003–2010. Environmental Health Perspectives. http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510803. Advance Publication: 13 April 2016. Link to PDF.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rollie Pollies (pillbugs, isopods, wood lice) remove heavy metals from soil

Rollie Pollies (aka rolly polly, wood lice, isopod) have this name because they are little bugs that roll up in a ball if they feel threatened. But they are not bugs at all, they are crustaceans with 7 pairs of legs. They eat dead, decaying matter and help break down stuff in the garden soil. Pill bugs like cool, shady locations, like worms, and are often found under another object, like a piece of wood or rain barrel.


Pill bugs can take in heavy metals like copper, lead, zinc, cadmium, and these crystallize in their gut.

Source
Natural News. Mar 20, 2015.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Saving that web page for later


There are many ways to save a web page. Saving it through your browser and doing Save As is one way. You can get a screen capture of a partial web page, a whole webpage, or save a specific page to a website for use by everyone. All these addons and programs are free.

Save a page to the web
Archive.is is one site where you can save a web page (one level deep only), like a news article, and share the shortcut link with everyone else. There is even a toolbar link to save a page automatically.

Screenshots
Both Firefox and Chrome have free addons to make a screenshot of a web page, make annotations, and even circle important areas of the page for tech support.

Nimbus Screen Capture is my favorite addon for Firefox. It supports capturing a whole web page, a partial web page, writing text on your screen shot, putting a glowing square around a certain area, and blacking out personal information. You can print the screen shot, save it locally.

Awesome Screenshot also supports capturing a whole web page, partial web page, adding text, lines and other shapes, blurring out personal information. You can also save your page for 1 month on their website, or save it to diigo.com. You can save the image to a local file or print it.


Saving a multi-level offline copy of a website via an addon

Scrapbook Plus can save a webpage to your browsers storage area, any number of levels deep. You can make folders to store similar sites, and it will get all Javascript and images for you. The site is in your user directory for Firefox and you can then zip it up and share it with others. There are other similar addons called Scapbook but Scrapbook Plus is the one I'm referring to.

Saving a multi-level offline copy of a website without an addon

There are several programs that don't require a browser where you can save a webpage or whole website N levels deep, complete with images and linked files if you want them.

GNU Wget for Windows is free and has several options for skipping zip or pdf files, the speed of the download (so you don't congest the server), etc.

Winhttrack is a GUI version of wget, but totally rewritten.


BPA Exposure Early in Life linked to Depression and Inattention in Kids

The researchers measured BPA in urine from 292 mothers and from children age 5. Child behavior was assessed at age 7 and 9 for the children and this is what they found.
Prenatal urinary BPA concentrations were associated with increased internalizing problems in boys, including anxiety and depression, at age 7. No associations were seen with prenatal BPA concentrations and behaviors in girls. Childhood urinary BPA concentrations were associated with increased externalizing behaviors, including conduct problems, in girls at age 7 and increased internalizing behaviors and inattention and hyperactivity behaviors in boys and girls at age 7.


Source
Harley KG1, Gunier RB, Kogut K, Johnson C, Bradman A, Calafat AM, Eskenazi B. Prenatal and early childhood bisphenol A concentrations and behavior in school-aged children. Environ Res. 2013 Oct; 126:43-50. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Jul 17. NIH abstract. Link to full study on NIH.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Historical Prevalence of Multiple Chronic Conditions in America


  1. About 25% of adult Americans have more than one chronic condition (Multiple Chronic Condition = MCC). Over 66% of health care spending is for this 25% of people with MCC.
  2. About 66% of Medicare users have MCC.
  3. About 75% of people age 65 or older have MCC.
Multiple Chronic Conditions (MCC) are clearly a huge problem in America, one that will not be solved by universal or single-payer healthcare. Most of these health problems are from a lifetime of bad choices. When there is no substantial disciplinary result for bad behavior, bad behavior continues ad infinitum.

Chronic conditions include: Alzheimer's and related dementia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism disorders, some cancers, chronic kidney disease, depression, diabetes, heart failure, hepatitis B & C, HIV and AIDS, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, ischemic heart disease, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, stroke.

These conditions are likely based on inflammation: asthma, some cancers, high blood pressure, stroke.

These conditions are possibly caused by inflammation: Alzheimer's and dementia, depression. 

High Blood Pressure and Depression continues to go up between 2004 and 2013.  (Google Spreadsheet.)

Heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, cerebrovascular disease (contributes to stroke), and diabetes  are the 5 leading causes of death in the US and they account for 50% of the deaths in the US. [2]

There are very simple and inexpensive treatments for these top 5:
  1. Get regular exercise. 
  2. Eat better foods. 
  3. Lower intake of sugar, salt. 
  4. Lose weight to be your doctor-specified weight. 
  5. Eat only organic foods. Your food bill will go up a bit, but your medical bill will drop drastically. 
While some people are genetically predisposed to certain things like diabetes or high blood pressure, that is not an excuse for treating the body like a trash dump, or being lazy. These people simply have to work harder to become healthy. The cost of a lifetime of bad choices continues to put a strain on government benefits and taxes on citizens. Hopefully more people will start treating their bodies better to reduce the cost of their own health care.


Source
[1] HHS on Multiple Chronic Conditions. Last accessed Apr 9, 2016.
[2] Ford, E. S., Croft, J. B., Posner, S. F., Goodman, R. A., & Giles, W. H. (2013). Co-Occurrence of Leading Lifestyle-Related Chronic Conditions Among Adults in the United States, 2002-2009. Preventing Chronic Disease, 10, E60. http://doi.org/10.5888/pcd10.120316.
[3] Obesity rates over time. Table 64. 1988-1994 and 2009-2012. CDC.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rise of inflammatory diseases and rise of GMOs


Inflammatory diseases include arthritis, asthma, allergies, Crohn's disease, food intolerance, and diabetes. There is a theory that as more GMO crops are eaten, inflammatory disease increases, especially among children. Causation between GMOs and inflammatory disease isn't clear but there is some correlation.

  • 43% of children in the US have a chronic disease, 52% when you include obesity. (GMO Science, Dec 2015.)
  • Between 1985 and 2004, diabetes in Philadelphia children increased 29%. (Lipman, 2013.)
  • Between 1991 and 2002, Crohn's disease in children more than doubled. (Malaty, 2010.)
  • Between 1993 and 2000, the age of diagnosis of asthma in children has fallen. (Radhakrishnan, 2014.)
  • ADHD, autism, and neurodevelopmental problems are rising. (GMO Science, Dec 2015). 
  • A 2010 study found that, by studying blood saved since 1974, the incidence of Celiac Disease doubled about every 15 years. (Tack, 2010.)
Cleary, more study needs to be done.

Sources
  1. Blackburn, Clare M, Nicholas J Spencer, and Janet M Read. “Is the Onset of Disabling Chronic Conditions in Later Childhood Associated with Exposure to Social Disadvantage in Earlier Childhood? A Prospective Cohort Study Using the ONS Longitudinal Study for England and Wales.” BMC Pediatrics 13 (2013): 101. PMC. Web. Link last accessed Mar 31 2016.
  2. GMO Science. Top 5 Childhood Diseases on the Rise. Link last accessed Mar 31, 2016.
  3. Lipman TH1, Levitt Katz LE, Ratcliffe SJ, Murphy KM, Aguilar A, Rezvani I, Howe CJ, Fadia S, Suarez E. Increasing incidence of type 1 diabetes in youth: twenty years of the Philadelphia Pediatric Diabetes Registry. Diabetes Care. 2013 Jun; 36(6):1597-603. doi: 10.2337/dc12-0767. Epub 2013 Jan 22. Free full study last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Results: Between the 1985-1989 cohort and 2000-2004 cohort, diabetes type 1 has increased 29%.
  4. Malaty HM, Fan X, Opekun AR, Thibodeaux C, Ferry GD. Rising incidence of inflammatory bowel disease among children: a 12-year study. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2010 Jan; 50(1):27-31. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181b99baa. PubMed PMID: 19934770. Link to abstract last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Results: From 1991 to 2002, the incidence rate of Crohn's Disease has doubled from 1.1/100,000/year to 2.4/1001,000/year
  5. Radhakrishnan, Dhenuka Kannan et al. Trends in the age of diagnosis of childhood asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 134 , Issue 5 , 1057 - 1062.e5. Nov 2014. Full article is free. 1.059 million children records from years 1993 to 2000 were examined. Result: age of first asthma diagnosis is decreasing in this time period. 
  6. Saadeh, Danielle Saadeh, Pascale Salameh, Denis Caillaud, Denis Charpin, Frédéric De Blay, Christine Kopferschmitt, François Lavaud, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Isabelle Baldi and Chantal Raherison. Prevalence and association of asthma and allergic sensitization with dietary factors in schoolchildren: data from the french six cities study. BMC Public Health. 201515:993. Link accessed Mar 31, 2016. Results: "Diet is associated with wheeze, asthma and allergic sensitization but not with BHR in children. These results provide further evidence that adherence to a healthy diet including fruits, meat and fish seems to have a protective effect on asthma and allergy in childhood." (Notice how they exclude vegetables, which are the majority of GMO crops in the US.)
  7. Tack, G. J. et al. The spectrum of celiac disease: epidemiology, clinical aspects and treatment. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 7, 204–213 (2010); published online 9 March 2010; doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2010.23. PDF Link accessed Mar 31, 2016. Results: Many factors have affected the higher rate of celiac disease.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Polls say people want GMOs labelled, biotech ignores them

These are all different polls in date order. Number of polls that show people want GMOs labeled: 49

  1. 1992: 85% of those polled think that labeling of GE food is “very important” (USDA, 1992).
  2. 1992: In an FDA sponsored survey in 1992, 8 state attorneys general asked the FDA to require mandatory labeling of all GE foods.
  3. Mar 1994: 81% of 8,000 subscribers to PRODIGY Internet service think that milk containers should be labeled to indicate whether or not the milk comes from cows treated with rbGH. 92% of women; 78% of men (PRODIGY Internet company, March 1994).
  4. Feb 1994: 88% of respondents favor mandatory labeling from rbGH-treated cows, 9% oppose mandatory labeling and 3% are unsure (St. Norbert College and Wisc. Pub. Radio, February 1994).
  5. Feb 1995: 92% of 36,000 polled say they want GE food labeled, with a 94% pro-labeling response from women and a 84% pro-labeling response from men. (Vance Publishing, in Food R&D, February 1995).
  6. Jun 1995: 94% of 1,900 consumers polled believed that milk should be labeled to distinguish milk from rbGH-treated cows, 10% of milk drinkers say they buy their products from non-treated cows and more than 74% of consumers say they are concerned about the possible discovery of negative long-term effects on human health associated with rbGH. (USDA, March-June 1995).
  7. July 1995: 84% of 604 New Jersey residents polled want mandatory labeling of GE fruits and vegetables, 60% would consider buying fresh vegetables if they were labeled as having been produced by genetic engineering and 76% favor farmers voluntarily putting labels on their produce that say the items were not genetically engineered. (USDA, July 1995).
  8. Feb 1997: 93% of Americans who responded to a Novartis survey agree that GE foods should be labeled as such. 73% of those agree strongly with the position. (Novartis, February 1997). 25% say they would be likely to avoid labeled GE foods.
  9. 1998: 93% of women surveyed say they want all GE food clearly labeled. (National Federation of Women’s Institutes, 1998).
  10. Jan 1999: 81% of American consumers believe GE food should be labeled. 58% say that if GE foods were labeled they would avoid purchasing them. (Time magazine, January 1999).
  11. Sept 1999: 92% of Americans support legal requirements that all genetically engineered
    foods be labeled. (BSMG Worldwide for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, September 1999).
  12. Sept 1999: Almost 70% of Americans think the U.S. government should require more extensive labeling of ingredients in genetically engineered food. (Edelman Public Relations Worldwide in Bloomberg News, September 1999).
  13. Sep 2001. 90% of Americans said foods created through genetic engineering processes should have special labels on them (Rutgers University’ Food Policy Institute study, November 2001)
  14. Sep 2001. 90% of American farmers support labels on biotech products if they are scientifically different from conventional foods and 61% support labels on biotech products even if not scientifically different. (Farm Foundation/Kansas State University, survey of farms throughout the U.S., September 2001)
  15. Mar 2001: 75% of Americans say it is important to them to know whether a food product contains genetically modified ingredients. (Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology poll, March 2001).
  16. Jun 2000: 86% of Americans think that the government should require the labeling of all packaged and other food products stating that they include corn, soy or other products which have come from genetically modified crops (Harris Poll, June 2000).
  17. Feb 2000: 79% of Americans said it should not be legal to sell genetically modified fruits and vegetables without special labels (USA Today, February 2000).
  18. Mar 2000: 86% of Americans want labels on genetically engineered foods (International Communications Research, March 2000)
  19. Jan 2000: 81% of Americans think the government should require genetically engineered food products to be labeled. 89% of Americans think the government should require pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods before they are marketed, as with any food additive. (MSNBC Live Vote Results, January 2000).
  20. Sep 2010: 95% support GMO labeling. Washington Post
  21. Feb 2011: 89% want to see GMO labeling. New York Times.
  22. 2013: 82% want GMOs on labels.
  23. Apr 20 2014: 80% want GMO labeling. VTDigger. 
  24. Oct 30, 2014: 52% in Oregon support GMO labeling.
  25. Jan 2015: 66% of those polled want GMOs on the label. 24% are neutral. AP-Gfk poll.
  26. 2015: 83% favor GMO labeling. From Isidewith.
  27. Dec 2015: 90% favor GMO labeling. Mellman Group. 
  28. Apr 2016: 93% support GMO labeling. MSNBC. 

Source
21 more polls listed here with many links.

FDA to start testing food for Roundup


  • The FDA only started doing this after it was rebuked by the US Government Accountability Office for failing to publicize the danger. The FDA has also been sued for fraud. GAO found multiple problems in the FDA’s pesticide residue testing program.
  • Other groups have done their own testing and found glyphosate in breast milk, honey, cereal, wheat flour, infant formula, and more.
  • Multiple sufferers of gluten intolerance and Celiac disease report they cannot eat wheat in the US, but can do so in Europe. So the problem may not be the gluten itself, but the chemicals or pesticides in the flour.
  • The USDA will start testing corn and soybeans. (Which happen to be the worst GMOs on the market.)


Source
  1. Gillam, Cary. Civileats.com. Feb 17, 2016.  Article.
  2. USDA Pesticide Data Program. Considered the authority on pesticides in foods. Page here.  

Australian organic farmer to pay $600,000usd after GMO canola blew on to his farm

After herbicide-resistant canola blew into Steve Marsh's fields, Mr. Marsh lost organic certification on 70% of his crops. Mr. Marsh then sued neighbor and childhood friend Michael Baxter for $60,000usd for negligence in Feb 2014. But the Western Australian Court Appeals sided with Mr. Baxter and forced Mr. Marsh to pay $610,000usd in costs. The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Baxter was not negligent for growing crops in a typical way.

Monsanto was helping Mr. Baxter cover his court costs.

This is why in the US, if you want to be organic certified, you have to have a certain sized buffer zone between any GMO crops and your organic crops, whether they are your GMO crops or your neighbor's.See USDA National Organic Program regulations.

Source: GMO Inside, Mar 22, 2016.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Free bubonic plague ebooks in EPUB format

Bubonic plague (aka Black Plague) sometimes pops up even in the US. If you want to read more about it, here are some free EPUB books, well out of copyright.

  1. "Epidemics of the Middle Ages". by JFC Hecker. EPUB format.
  2. "The Black Death" (of 1348-49) and "The Dancing Mania" 2 books in one EPUB file, 1888 version. By JFC Hecker. The Dancing Mania was when people suddenly started dancing and jerking around. This was coincidental with the Black Plague of 1348, and appeared here and there for a couple hundred years after. Oddly enough the best cure was threatening to throw a "dancer" into an ice cold lake.
  3. "Plague and Pestilence in the North of England." By G. Bouchier Richardson, F.S.A. NEWC. 1852. It has info on many plagues throughout time in a localized area. Focused around the area Newcastle-upon-Tyne. EPUB file.

For each file,
  1. Click on the link above. 
  2. On the upper right of the browser window, click the 3 dots in a horizontal row. 
  3. Choose Download from the drop down menu. 
More free books on the plague:
Google books search for free ebooks.

EWGs database on polluted cosmetics, perfumes, toothpaste

EWG has a Skin Deep database with scores on how safe projects are. The scores are risk scores, so the lower the score, the lower the risk.

Parabens and phthalates are just some of the toxins that are in cosmetics. Parabens are considered endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) but not all are dangerous. Look at the ratings of parabens here.

Some brands of lip balm with a high risk include Revlon, Carmex (several), Lipsmaker, Bliss, Neutragena, Maybelline, Nivea and more.

If you go to Revlon Moon Drops you can see each ingredient and its score, and why its dangerous.



USDA study finds Americans eating less fruit and veg


The USDA ERS report contains estimates of food availability for 200 food and drink commodities. A "food" would be apple pie, packaged sliced apples, apple juice, or whole raw apples. But a "commodity" would be the raw applies that go into those foods.

This report takes data from 6 food intake surveys between 1994 and 2008 and compares the pounds consumed per person per year. The report also breaks things down by demographics.

  • Drop in fruit consumption: from 42.4 to 31.9 pounds per person per year, mostly due to eating less oranges.
  • Drop in veg consumption: 172.8 to 161.8 pounds per person overall for children and adults. 
  • Drop in dairy: from 220.5 to 211.4 pounds per person per year.  
  • Chicken consumption rose slightly, while beef and pork dropped a little across all demographics.
The slight increase in chicken consumption might be regarded as positive, however how you cook the food matters quite a bit. It would be more helpful if the report broke down chicken consumption between "healthy" ways to prepare (like baking) vs calorie-dense, nutrient-sparse "unhealthy" ways: like deep frying. Also, going out to eat will account for a significant portion of "unhealthy" consumption of almost all foods.

Data used
Data sources used were the Food Availability (FA) data and the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) within the Food Availability Data System (FADS) compiled by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Source
  1. USDA ERS survey, March 2016. Compares two time periods: 1994-1998 and 2007-2008. PDF of full report available, HTML of summary also available for free. 
  2. USDA Food Availability Data System. All kinds of charts, spreadsheets, graphs here. 



Saturday, April 9, 2016

Overfishing statistics

Some statistics on over fishing across the world.

  1. 200 million people depend on fishing for jobs and food. About 20% of people in the world rely on ocean products as their primary protein source. [3]
  2. Nitin Desai, Secretary General of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development,  warns that over fishing poses a major threat to the food supply. [3] Overfishing is not sustainable. 
  3. In the north Atlantic region, in the last decade, commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock and flounder have fallen by as much as 95%. [3]
  4. By using catch reconstructions, the numbers from FAO look misleading, and the real situation is much worse. The edible fish catches peaked in the late 1990s and have been declining ever since. [5]
  5. By looking at Figure 3, the catches have declined much more steeply in some Atlantic fishing areas. [5]
  6. As fishing technology increases in efficiency, fishing boats catch more fish, and it gets more difficult for the fish population to replenish itself.
  7. Fishing fleets from Europe, China, and Japan regularly break the law and fish the waters of more poor nations, adding to the problem. [6]
  8. Atlantic cod stocks have already collapsed in 1992. [6]
  9. West Africa doesn't report 60% of the actual fish caught. China doesn't report 92% of it's caught fish! [6]
  10. Jack Mackerel in the south Pacific have declined from 30 tonnes per year to less than 3 tonnes in 20 years. [7]
  11. Shrimp trawl nets are like clear cutting the ocean floor. They disrupt coral, and catch animals that are not wanted. This "bycatch" is thrown back into the ocean, dead. Bycatch from shrimp nets runs from 40% to 98%. [8]
  12. From 2012 to 2013: Pacific sardine landings down 38%, blue crab landings down 36%, Atlantic menhaden landings down 25%. [11] 
  13. In 2010, 91% of fish stocks are Fully Exploited, Overexploited, or Collapsed. [13]
  14. 99.5% of Atlantic salmon have disappeared from the Wild. They have disappeared from Europe, Scandinavia, around the Baltic Sea, the Russian rivers Neva and Narva, the Luleälven and Umeälven of Sweden, from the Odra and Wisla in Poland, and the Vilia of Belarus. EcoWatch, Mar 14, 2016. Anna Tonteri has a thesis about salmon here as a PDF.

Sources
  1. Bite Sized Vegan video. March 2016. Youtube
  2. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. UN FAO. 148 pages. PDF here
  3. Overfishing: a Threat to Marine Biodiversity. UN. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link to page
  4. General Situation of World Fish Stocks. UN FAO. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. PDF here.
  5. Pauly, Daniel & Dirk Zeller. Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining. Nature Communications 7, Article number: 10244. Jan 2016.    doi:10.1038/ncomms10244. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link to full study here
  6. Andrei, Mihai. Oceans are running out of fish – much faster than we thought. ZME Science, Jan 20, 2016. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Article here
  7. George, Russ. Who killed the jack mackerel? Dec 20, 2015. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link here
  8. A Study of the Options for Utilization of Bycatch and Discards from Marine Capture Fisheries. Section 9: Discards and Bycatch in Shrimp Trawl Fisheries. FAO Fisheries Circular No. 928 FIIU/C928. UN FAO. Oct 1997. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link here
  9. Banaka, Lee. U.S. National Bycatch Report First Edition Update 2. NOAA. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link here
  10. Status of Fish Stocks 2013. NOAA Fisheries. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link to page here.  
  11. Sustainable Species, By the Numbers. NOAA Fishwatch. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link here
  12. Annual fish landings data source. NOAA Office of Science and Technology. Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link here. This can output a table of one or all fish species, for a date range from 1950 to 2014. for all US states or just one. This table of numbers can then be used to make a graph. You can also download an ASCII file of the numbers. This ASCII file appears to be a comma-delimited file. 
  13. Rogers, Alex D. State of the Ocean Report, 2013. International Programmer of the State of the Ocean (IPSO). Last accessed Mar 31, 2016. Link to web page hereDirect link to PDF. This is a collection of studies, and the first page of the PDF lists the studies inside it.

Some Antibiotics ineffective on 50% of children


It is thought that antibiotic overuse has created more "superbugs". This is a meta study reviewing many other studies. Over all the studies, over 77,000 E. coli samples were collected from people aged 0-17 from 26. Categories for results were 1) members of OECD and 2) non-members of OECD. Within OECD countries, half of all samples were resistant to ampicillin (amoxicillin), a third to co-trimoxazole and a quarter to trimethoprim. 2.1% were resistant to ciprofloxacin, a powerful last-resort antibiotic. Non-OECD countries have shown a much greater resistance. (Do they not know about certain antibiotic standards?) Outside OECD countries, resistance to ciprofloxacin averaged 26.8%.

Some people think that antibiotics are the "easy" way to fix things, just take a pill. Yet again, short term thinking hurts people long term.


Source: GMO Inside, Mar 16, 2016.

The study abstract: Global prevalence of antibiotic resistance in paediatric urinary tract infections caused by Escherichia coli and association with routine use of antibiotics in primary care: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2016; 352 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i939 (Published 15 March 2016). Link to abstract.


Boston Whole Foods have dozens of health violations

Multiple stores in the Boston area have 10-127 violations. Read more here.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Dutch report shows millions of syringes are leaking BPA and BADGE

BPA is not the only bad endocrine disruptor, there are many more. Just because a plastic is BPA free does not mean it's free of EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals). Buying BPA free plastic products means you are substituting a known poison for an unknown poison. A Dutch report shows syringes (for shots) are leaking BPA and BADGE (bisphenol A diglycidyl ether).

The report says 1 in 5 syringes may be leaking epoxy resin, which then leaks BPA or BADGE. Since BPA and other EDCs are common in almost all plastics in the medical world, many other medical devices are likely to leak at least some EDCs.

Links

  1. Source: Health Care Without Harm
  2. Factsheet on BPA in Medical Devices. PDF. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Preserving smoothies the non-toxic way

Some people like to make smoothies by putting veg and fruit in a blender, and blending away. Many people are also in a rush in the morning and want to make smoothies, and store some for a day or two. But when some vitamins are exposed to oxygen they start to break down, defeating the purpose of the smoothy.

But there is a solution!

I use a non-toxic wine preserver spray. It's $10usd but lasts for about 100 doses and it's really works. I put some smoothies in a glass jar with a rubber (not silicone) seal, then spray wine preserver in it. The spray is mostly nitrogen, with a bit of carbon dioxide and argon. It is  heavier than air and prevents oxygen from getting to your smoothy. It also works on wine!

So...blend and spray!

What does "organic" really mean?

"Organic" means using less pesticides, or no artificial pesticides, and little or no GMOs. But standards vary widely across the world. Organic food product is, for the most part, a self-regulated industry with government guidance in some countries.

US Standards

The USDA National Organic Program creates standards for the US organic farming industry. But since the USDA is part of the FDA, and the FDA is well-known to be soft on GMOs and pesticides, the US "standard" is questionable at best. (March 2016: There is currently a lawsuit against the FDA for violating it's own regulations.)

The USDA NOP has the following areas of responsibility:
  1. Manage organic operations. The NOP Intro to Organic Practices PDF is here.
  2. Develop regulations and guidance on organic farming. Regulations are here. The NOP organic handbook is here.
  3. Manage the national list of allowed and prohibited substances. 
  4. Investigate regulatory violation complaints. 
  5. Accredit certifying agents. 
  6. And a few more items. 
  7. Here is a list of certified organic companies in the US and which products are certified organic. There are several fields to search on including company name, city, state, country, and certified products. 
  8. Conform to regulations when exporting or importing organic foods.

How USDA NOP defines "organic" practices

  1. Practices PDF here
  2. Avoid use of synthetic use of fertilizers. Note that the US regulations do not ban synthetic fertilizers. But, nitrogen is nitrogen unless it's contaminated with something dangerous. 
  3. Avoid sewage sludge* and biosolids. Sewage sludge can contain many toxic chemicals including heavy metals. 
  4. Avoid irradiation and GMOs.
  5. Use cover crops to reduce erosion.  
  6. Use organic seeds unless that variety is not available as an organic product. In this case they can use non-GMO seeds.
  7. Use crop rotation to reduce pests and diseases. 
  8. Manage pests using Prevention, Avoidance, Monitoring, and Suppression (PAMS). Predatory insects are allowed. As a last resort the growing can use organic pesticides. I assume Bt is allowed in this case as it's a "naturally occurring organism" allowed by the NOP.
  9. Organic crops must not receive overspray from non-organic crops if the farm grows both. 
  10. Land that has had conventional pesticides applied cannot be used for organic crops for 36 months. 
  11. More guidelines on animals are in the PDF.
* Sewage sludge is the sludge left over from sewage processing. Due to poor US regulations and interference from industry, sewage sludge can contain heavy metals and other toxic chemicals, some of which are absorbed by certain crops. From Wikipedia:
Class A sludge is typically dried and pasteurized, and is also known as "exceptional" quality. Class B includes all sludge not classified as Class A. Class B sludge is typically "undigested" and is volatile. Both classes of sludge may still contain radioactive or pharmaceutical wastes.
Now you know the basics of organic food farming.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Plastic bottle projects

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

I'll call this series "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" and each post subject will be preceded by "RRR" to indicate it's part in this series.

While plastic bottles may not be good for food contact, here are some ways you can use those plastic bottles you cannot return for a deposit.

MUST SEE: Guy transforms plastic bottles into super strength plastic rope. This might be useful for transforming bottles into 3d printing string.

23 Bottle Projects. Jewelry holder, plant holders, Christmas tree, and more.

Below: Stuff holders.
Below: bird feeder.
Below: Candelabra, Vase or pencil holder.
Below: Hose sprinkler.

Below: Small Easter basket.
Below: Penguins.

Below: Hanging storage far right.
Below: Book holders. Instructions and better pic here.



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Firefox screen capture tools

Sometimes it's handy to capture what's in the browser window, edit it, or print it. Here is a list of Firefox screen capture tools with a brief rundown of their features. These are all the features of the free versions. My favorite is Nimbus as I sometimes need to add arrows, or blur a rectangle to hide confidential information. Nimbus can also save your image to Google Drive, or to your local drive.

- Awesome Screenshot Plus. Edit after capturing, print right from FF, or save as image. Can also save an image for 1 month on their website for free. Can blur out selected rectangle. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/awesome-screenshot-capture-/?src=ss

- Easy Screenshot. Crop, rectangle, ellipse, line, freehand draw, blur on drag (but can't blur a rectangular area). https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/easyscreenshot/?src=search

- Fireshot. Edit image after capturing, add text, boxes, more. Save as image or PDF, email it, upload it. Lots of options for arrows, boxes, text, highlight, pen. No blur, disabled in free version: crop, image resize. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/fireshot/developers

*- Nimbus Screen Capture. Save screenshots to Google Drive, add arrows, crop, blur a selected rectangle, capture region, shadow puts a shadow around any other thing drawn, like an arrow. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/nimbus-screenshot/?src=search

- Screengrab. Upload to sites like imgur.com, imagebam.com, share.pho.to and a couple others. Image names can use variables like date, time, url of webpage it was taken from, domain of url, etc.
 



Fetch.news, another good source of topical news all in one place

Fetch.news seems to be a news aggregator and has topical pages for all sorts of things. See image below for news stories about toxins. I'm not sure where it gets its news but this will keep you busy for a LONG time.

Click image to enlarge



Link here.

Bad chemicals in rivers and streams messing with body development

Starting in 2002 the first major studies of chemicals and pharmaceuticals in waterways was conducted. In 2008, the AP found at least one drug in every one of 24 major metro areas' drinking water.
  1. Out of 28 cities where the drinking water was tested, only 3 found no chemicals. 
  2. Test protocols varied. Some tested for one chemical, some for more than one chemical. 
  3. Some water tests were negative but independent studies refute this. 
  4. See the page for a list of cities and what each one found. 
Some points from PEER.org:
From 1999 to 2002, the United States Geological Survey studied surface and groundwater samples from around the country to determine whether pharmaceutical chemicals were present. They found at least one compound in 80% of streams and 93% of groundwater – the most commonly found compounds were steroids, over-the-counter medications, and insect repellents.

Some argue that these chemicals are found in our drinking water in such tiny amounts (parts per trillion or ppt) that they cannot possibly cause human harm. However, insulin, estrogen (and EDCs that act like estrogen), and other hormones are exceptionally potent chemicals that operate at concentrations of ppt, and fetuses are sensitive to chemicals in the parts per quadrillion range.
American River reports that in the Potomac River, male bass are producing eggs.

From a 2010 report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reports these chemicals in Minnesota streams:
  1. Methylparabens were found in 32 percent of samples. MP is an anti-fungal used in cosmetics. (A study on methylparabens on fruit flies.)
  2. Propylparabens were found in 21 percent of samples. 
  3. Carbamazepine (an ADD drug) was found in 6 percent of samples at up to 34ng/L.
  4. Venlafaxine (an SSRI used to treat depression) was found in 9.4% of samples. 
  5. Citalopram (an SSRI) found in 4%, sertraline in 2.7%, bupropion in 2% of samples. Fluxetine was found in one sample.

Biofilm, also called slime, indicates a healthy stream. Slippery rocks illustrate a good biofilm, and healthy water. Rocks next to a stream that have little or no slime are a big red flag. From the Cary Institute, diphenhydramine (Benedryl) reduce photosynthesis by 99% in biofilm.

A study in 2013 from Environmental Science and Technology shows that triclosan (TCS), a broad-spectrum bacteriocide in many anti-bacterial soaps, creates super bacteria harmful to human health. (Super bacteria can only be treated with a limited number of antibacterials, and in some cases, there are no medicines to treat it at all.) It ends up in streams and as suburbs grow up around the area, TCS contamination increases in stream sediments.

A study in 2014 shows that TCS (triclosan) also affects anaerobic bacteria in digesters.

In April 2013, Wired magazine reports that pharmaceuticals escape into streams from treated sewage from treatment plants that are not equipped to remove drugs from water. Even occurring at 3 parts per trillion, these chemicals have a bad effect on life in the water.

A study in 2010 from the journal Pediatrics, found seven year old girls are now developing breasts.
The baseline cohort included 1239 girls. The proportion of girls who had attained breast stage 2 varied by age, race/ethnicity, BMI percentile, and site. At 7 years, 10.4% of white, 23.4% of black non-Hispanic, and 14.9% of Hispanic girls had attained breast stage ≥2; at 8 years, 18.3%, 42.9%, and 30.9%, respectively, had attained breast stage ≥2.

Another study from 1997 also shows early development, likely from EDCs which act like estrogen in the body. Overweight girls are more likely to have early breast development, and EDCs are linked to being overweight also.

A July 2010 study from Environ Health Perspect tested urine of people, and found correlation to phytoestrogens (chemicals found in plants, like soy, that act like hormones), phthalates, and phenols (like Bisphenol A, BPA).

There is a lot of correlation between EDC, early development in girls, and being overweight. But the scientific community seems inconsistent when admitting correlation is a problem or not. It seems best to avoid EDCs as much as possible.

Links