…Having set in motion a process aimed at allowing corporations play dangerous games with nature and human health, it is perhaps only logical that Mandelson is now a grubby lobbyist himself. In his current capacity as chairman of two consultancies, Mandelson habitually attends the annual conferences of the Bilderberg Group and other gatherings for the world’s political and business elite. To use his own words, Mandelson always appears “intensely relaxed” when surrounded by the “filthy rich”. It is not hard to understand why. He has worked tirelessly to allow Europe be captured by his corporate chums.’
‘Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, Dr Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale, described a syndrome that starts to develop close to discharge from hospital. Physiological systems are impaired, reserves are depleted, and the body cannot effectively mitigate health threats. It is instructive to note that this syndrome – created by the stressful hospital environment – is a significant contributor to hospital re-admissions. It is estimated that 10-20% of patients discharged from hospital in the UK and US will be re-admitted within 30 days, often with a condition entirely unrelated to their original admission. Poor sleep and inadequate nutrition have an adverse effect on physical performance and co-ordination, cognitive function, immunity, and even cardiac risk. The elderly are particularly vulnerable to being re-admitted with falls and infection, with one study revealing that a fifth of hospitalised patients over 65 had an average nutrient intake of less than 50% of their daily requirements.
[...] A culture of over-investigation and over-treatment is now one of the greatest threats to western health. In the US it is estimated that a third of all healthcare activity brings no benefit to patients. Examples include excessive use of antibiotics, imaging for non-sinister headaches, use of surgery when watchful waiting is better and unwanted intensive care for patients at the end of life who would prefer hospice and home care. In the US, a fee-for-service model encourages high volume and expensive procedures. But we should be alert to similar possibilities here: the UK’s “payment by results” – which in reality is a payment-by-activity model – potentially incentivises “doing more” on the part of physicians. As a profession we have also been guilty – unwittingly or otherwise – of exaggerating the benefits of medications often perceived as magic pills by patients when their benefits are often modest at best. This also detracts from more meaningful lifestyle interventions by giving the public the illusion of protection.’
‘Two-thirds of fresh retail chicken in the UK is contaminated with campylobacter, a nasty bug that affects about 280,000 people a year.’ (The Guardian)
‘The McDonald’s cheeseburger will have its day in court. Russia’s consumer protection agency has filed a claim accusing the restaurant chain of violating government nutritional and safety codes in a number of its burger and ice cream products, a Moscow court announced Friday.
The suit could temporarily ban the production and sale of the chain’s ice cream, milkshakes, cheeseburgers, and Filet-o-Fish and chicken sandwiches, said Yekaterina Korotova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court, where the case will be heard.
“We have identified violations which put the product quality and safety of the entire McDonald’s chain in doubt,” Anna Popova, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer protection agency, said in statements reported by the Interfax news agency.’
‘Washington State University researchers say ancestral exposures to the pesticide methoxychlor may lead to adult onset kidney disease, ovarian disease and obesity in future generations. “What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy, like the pesticide methoxychlor, may promote a dramatic increase in your susceptibility to develop disease, and you will pass this on to your grandchildren in the absence of any continued exposures,” says Michael Skinner, WSU professor and founder of its Center for Reproductive Biology. He and his colleagues document their findings in a paper published online in PLOS ONE.
Methoxychlor — also known as Chemform, Methoxo, Metox or Moxie — was introduced in 1948 and widely used during the 1970s as a safer replacement for DDT. It was used on crops, ornamental plants, livestock and pets. It is still used in many countries around the world. It was banned in the U.S. in 2003 due to its toxicity and ability to disrupt endocrine systems. Methoxychlor can behave like the hormone estrogen and profoundly affects the reproductive system.’
‘Walk through your local grocery store these days and you’ll see the words “all natural” emblazoned on a variety of food packages. The label is lucrative, for sure, but in discussing the natural label few have remarked on what’s really at stake — the natural ingredients and the companies themselves.
If you take a look at some of the favorite organic and natural food brands, you’ll see they’re owned by some of the largest conventional companies in the world. Coca-Cola owns Odwalla and Honest Tea. PepsiCo. owns Naked Juice. General Mills owns Lara Bar. Natural and organic food acquisitions aside, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Mills all opposed California’s GMO Proposition 37 that would require GMO food labeling. Today, some of those companies touting an all-natural list of grains and sugars can be seen changing the ingredients in their natural food products as the natural foods’ distribution channels are pushed to larger and larger markets.’
- The Big Green Buyout
- Organic Processing Industry Structure
- Cereal Crimes: How “Natural” Claims Deceive Consumers and Undermine the Organic Label
- The word “natural” helps sell $40 billion worth of food in the U.S. every year—and the label means nothing
- Salt Sugar Fat: NY Times Reporter Michael Moss on How the Food Giants Hooked America on Junk Food
- Food Giants Are Getting People Addicted to Their Food: Interview with Michael Moss
‘A supplier to McDonald’s and KFC in China has been accused of supplying rotting meat to the fast-food chains and falsifying product expiration dates, in the latest food safety scandal to hit the country. It is also the latest blow to foreign fast food companies operating in the country, where promises of rapid growth – there are more than 4,400 KFC restaurants alone – are being undermined by food safety issues.
The Shanghai food safety watchdog said on Monday it had closed a meat and poultry processor on the outskirts of the city after an undercover investigation by a local television station found the company to be putting new labels on expired meat, among other food safety violations. KFC and McDonald’s, both of which used the US-owned meat processor to supply their Shanghai outlets, apologised to their Chinese customers.’
‘Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage producer, has been ordered to shut down its bottling plant in Varanasi, India following local complaints that the company was drawing excessive amounts of groundwater. After an investigation, government authorities ruled that the company had violated its operating license.
…This is not the first time that the company has been in trouble in India for unsustainable water extraction practices. In 2004 a bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, was closed for excessive water consumption. Later Kerala passed legislation that allows Coca-Cola to be sued for as much as $47 million in damages as result of the operations. And last year, community organizers in Charba, Uttarakhand, defeated Coca-Cola’s plans to build a new factory as soon as the proposal went public.’
- Coca-Cola’s Varanasi plant shut after pollution board order
- Authorities Cancel License for Coca-Cola’s Mehdiganj Plant
- Opposition Grows to Coca-Cola’s Expansion Plans and Current Operations
- War On Want: Coca-Cola – The Alternative Report
- Coca-Cola just part of India’s water ‘free-for-all’
- CSE Report on Pesticides in soft drinks
- Report on Pesticide Residues and Safety Standards of Beverages Makers
- Criticism of Coca-Cola
‘Organic food really is better for your health than its conventional counterparts. At least, that’s the conclusion of a new study conducted by researchers at Newcastle University and published this week. But not everyone is convinced. Specifically, the researchers said that organic fruits, vegetables and cereals contain significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. They added that organic produce and cereals were found to have lower levels of toxic metals and pesticides.
For the study — said to be the largest of its kind — the researchers analyzed more than 340 international, peer-reviewed studies that looked at compositional differences between organic and conventional crops. According to the paper, researchers found that organically grown produce and cereals have between 19 and 69 percent higher concentrations of certain antioxidant compounds than conventionally grown crops.’
- Organic vs non-organic food
- Study sparks organic foods debate
- Is organic food healthier? Many scientists are still skeptical
- Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds
- Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming > Conventional Agriculture
- Organic Food vs. Conventional Food
- Is Organic Better? Ask a Fruit Fly
- Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype
- Stop forcing veg down our throats
- Why can’t we farm without chemicals like my grandfather did?
- Women who eat organic foods no less likely to develop cancer, research finds
- Study: Vegetarians Less Healthy, Lower Quality Of Life Than Meat-Eaters
- Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review
- Fruit and Soil Quality of Organic and Conventional Strawberry Agroecosystems
- FSA: Comparison of putative health effects of organically andconventionally produced foodstuffs
- Seven-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Pesticide
- Soil Association Organic Market Report 2013
- Organic Pesticides: Not An Oxymoron
- Five myths about organic food
- Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience
- Whole Foods paying $800,000 for overcharging in California
‘The rapid emergence of nanotechnology suggests that size does, indeed, matter. It turns out that if you break common substances like silver and nickel into really, really tiny particles—measured in nanometers, which are billionths of a meter—they behave in radically different ways. For example, regular silver, the stuff of fancy tableware, doesn’t have any obvious place in sock production. But nano-size silver particles apparently do. According to boosters, when embedded in the fabric of socks, microscopic silver particles are “strongly antibacterial to a wide range of pathogens, absorb sweat, and by killing bacteria help eliminate unpleasant foot odor.” (By most definitions, a particle qualifies as “nano” when it’s 100 nanometers wide or less. By contrast, a human hair clocks in at about 80,000 nanometers in diameter.)
According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN)—a joint venture of Virginia Tech and the Wilson Center—there are more than 1,600 nanotechnology-based consumer products on the market today. If SmartSilver Anti-Odor Nanotechnology Underwear sounds like a rather intimate application for this novel technology, consider that the PEN database lists 96 food items currently on US grocery shelves that contain unlabeled nano ingredients. Examples include Silk Original Soy Milk, Rice Dream Rice Drink, Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate, and Kraft’s iconic American Cheese Singles, all of which now contain nano-size titanium dioxide*. As recently as 2008, only eight US food products were known to contain nanoparticles, according to a recent analysis from Friends of the Earth—a more than tenfold increase in just six years.’
‘Resistance to antibiotics is a growing phenomenon and has become one of the world’s most serious public health concerns. Antibiotic resistance is a form of drug resistance where some bacteria are able to survive the administration of one or more antibiotics. This phenomenon is a consequence of misuse and overuse of antibiotics in medicine and in livestock feed. As a result of this, there is a growing presence of superbugs, as are called microorganisms -mostly bacteria- that carry several antibiotic-resistance genes.
The seriousness of the problem is underscored by the World Health Organization (WHO), which in a recent report has called this phenomenon a ‘global threat.’ The WHO report follows a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report which showed that two million people in the U.S. are infected annually with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 people die each year from them. Last year, Dr. Sally Davies had called the problem a “ticking time bomb” and said that it probably will become as important in the magnitude of its effects as climate change.
As a result of antibiotic resistance and the increasing number of superbugs, common infections that could be treated without major problems have become untreatable. In 2012, the WHO reported 450,000 cases of tuberculosis in 92 countries where multiple drugs used to treat them were found ineffective.’
- A Superbug Resistant to ‘Last-Resort’ Antibiotics Has Made Its Way into the Food Supply
- WHO: Antibiotic Resistance Worse Health Crisis Than AIDS
- Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are officially a global threat
- Antibiotics Are Becoming Ineffective All Over the World, Why? Interview with Martin Khor
- Outbreak Of Drug-Resistant Bacteria Linked To Lutheran General Hospital
- Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Lead to 23,000 Deaths a Year, C.D.C. Finds
- Probiotics May Protect Against Drug-Resistant Superbug, Study Finds
- A Brief History of the Antibiotic Era: Lessons Learned and Challenges for the Future
‘Young children who dig into a bowl of fortified breakfast cereal may be getting too much of a good thing. A new report says that “millions of children are ingesting potentially unhealthy amounts” of vitamin A, zinc and niacin, with fortified breakfast cereals the leading source of the excessive intake because all three nutrients are added in amounts calculated for adults.
Outdated nutritional labeling rules and misleading marketing by food manufacturers who use high fortification levels to make their products appear more nutritious fuel this potential risk, according to the report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington, D.C.-based health research and advocacy organization.’
‘[...] Old TV shows and movies depicted 21st century food as nutrient-dense capsules, giving you a day’s worth of calories and nutrients in a single pill – and two new companies are close to bringing that prediction to reality.
These California-based companies – Soylent, named after the 1973 science fiction film “Soylent Green,” and Ambronite – have both developed meal replacement mixes that are intended to free you from the burden of cooking. Simply mix the powder with water or any liquid and, in the case of Soylent, a little oil, and you have a ready-to-drink nutritious breakfast, lunch or dinner.’
- How I Ate No Food for 30 Days
- The folly of thinking real food is replaceable
- Soylent Is Like A Productivity Cheat Code
- A Transhumanist Wants to Feed DIY Soylent to Starving Children
- Here’s What You Get When You Order A Month’s Worth Of Soylent
- Could you live off Soylent for a month?
- Soylent: Is the ‘Food of the Future’ Really a Nutrition Solution?
- Nestle is developing a Soylent-like “nutrient Nespresso”
- My week on Soylent: ‘I was irritable, grumpy and a general pain in the arse’
‘Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 500 million acres of land in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean was acquired or negotiated under deals brokered on behalf of foreign governments or transnational corporations. Many such deals are geared toward growing crops or biofuels for export to richer, developed countries – with the consequence that small-holder farmers are displaced from their land and lose their livelihood while local communities go hungry.
The concentration of ownership of the world’s farmland in the hands of powerful investors and corporations is rapidly accelerating, driven by resource scarcity and, thus, rising prices. According to a new report by the US land rights organisation Grain: “The powerful demands of food and energy industries are shifting farmland and water away from direct local food production to the production of commodities for industrial processing.” Less known factors, however, include ‘conservation‘ and ‘carbon offsetting.”
- Land taken over by foreign investors could feed 550m people, study finds
- Conservation vs Communities – The Plight of the Sengwer
- Indigenous Kenyans evicted in the name of ‘conservation’
- Kenyan families flee Embobut forest to avoid forced evictions by police
- Ogiek are violently evicted from ancestral home in Kenya
- Kenyan Government torches hundreds of Sengwer homes in the forest glades in Embobut
- How the World Bank is implicated in today’s Embobut Evictions
- Status of Forest Carbon Rights and Implications for Communities, the Carbon Trade, and REDD+ Investments
‘There is fierce debate about the role of added sugar in contributing to the obesity crisis. UK government scientists today halved the recommended level of added sugar people should eat each day. And the World Health Organization has also said people should aim to get just 5% of their daily calories from the sweet stuff. But calculating how much sugar we eat is not as simple as it sounds.
Sugar is sugar – right? Not quite. Health professionals take a dim view of sugars added to processed food but say that naturally occurring sweetness in milk and fruit is largely fine, with the exception of juice. Current advice says no more than 11% of a person’s daily food calories should come from added sugars, or 10% once alcohol is taken into account. That works out at about 50g of sugars for a woman and 70g for a man, depending on how active they are. And it’s this level which has just been halved in a draft report by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. But look at the back of a food packet and you’ll see a guideline amount for total sugars – including those naturally occurring in fruit and other ingredients.’
‘Technology originally designed for the U.S. military now has a second use: helping those with tremors eat and live better.
A high-tech spoon — fitted with a tiny computer and sensors such as those in a camera or cellphone — softens the effect of essential tremors by sensing their direction and strength and moving the device in the opposite direction.
“In some ways, it seems too simple to be true,” said Dr. Kelvin Chou, a University of Michigan neurologist and essential tremors specialist whose patients helped test the device. For essential tremor patients, simple daily activities — eating, applying makeup — can be impossible.’
‘Buzzwords like “gluten-free,” “antioxidants” and “whole-grain” pepper the grocery store aisles, but do they really mean that such products are healthy? A recent study conducted at the University of Houston warns shoppers to proceed with caution. Researchers say these health-related euphemisms have a powerful impact on consumers and, in light of the actual ingredients in some of these products, could convey a false sense of health.
…Although the FDA requires Nutrition Information labels in the United States and similar labeling systems are seen in other countries, Northup’s research concludes they have little effect on consumers. “Words like organic, antioxidant, natural and gluten-free imply some sort of healthy benefit,” Northup said. “When people stop to think about it, there’s nothing healthy about Antioxidant Cherry 7-Up — it’s mostly filled with high fructose syrup or sugar. But its name is giving you this clue that there is some sort of health benefit to something that is not healthy at all.”‘
‘Pregnant women who lived in close proximity to fields and farms where chemical pesticides were applied experienced a two-thirds increased risk of having a child with autism spectrum disorder or other developmental delay, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. The associations were stronger when the exposures occurred during the second and third trimesters of the women’s pregnancies. The large, multisite California-based study examined associations between specific classes of pesticides, including organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates, applied during the study participants’ pregnancies and later diagnoses of autism and developmental delay in their offspring. It is published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.’
‘Tough proposals to force food manufacturers to reveal where the meat in their products comes from have been shelved in a U-turn by ministers. Despite vowing to improve transparency in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, the Coalition has quietly abandoned the plans following a sustained lobbying drive by the industry. It means manufacturers will not be obliged to say where the meat in pies, lasagnes, pasta sauces, sandwiches and any other processed dish originates. Farming Minister George Eustice has quietly lobbied against tighter regulations for processed meat in Europe after his department held a string of meetings with food manufacturers. As a result, new rules coming into force this year have been significantly watered down – so they will not have to tell consumers where the meat has come from in hundreds of product lines.’
‘You can buy food from farmers — directly, through markets, any way you can find — and I hope you do. But unless you’re radically different from most of us, much of what you eat comes from corporations that process, market, deliver and sell “food,” a majority of which is processed beyond recognition. The problem is that real food isn’t real profitable. “It’s hard to market fruit and vegetables without adding value,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “If you turn a potato into a potato chip you not only make more money — you create a product with a long shelf life.” Potatoes into chips and frozen fries; wheat into soft, “enriched” bread; soybeans into oil and meat; corn into meat and a staggering variety of junk.’ theory has it that as long as even one of the big food companies remains cynical and uncaring about its market, they all must remain so.’
‘TV personality Mehmet Oz ran into trouble before a Senate panel Tuesday over his claims that certain products can cause “miracle” weight loss. Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” repeatedly tangled with lawmakers who called on him to change his approach to encouraging healthier habits in his audience. The back-and-forth took place at a Commerce subcommittee hearing led by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on deceptive advertising for weight-loss products.
Referring to Oz’s “miracle” claims for products like green coffee extract, she said, “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff because you know it’s not true.” “The scientific community is almost monolithically against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you called ‘miracles,’ ” McCaskill told Oz. “We didn’t call this hearing to beat up on you. … [But] you can either be part of the police or be part of the problem, and we hope you’ll do a better job at being part of the police.”‘
- Detox treatments by Dr. Oz and others lack evidence, benefit
- Senator Claire McCaskill’s biggest contributors (Express Scripts gave $146k)
- Dr. Oz: World’s Best Snake Oil Salesman
- Sorry, Dr. Oz, Green Coffee Can’t Even Slim Down Chubby Mice
- Is the most trusted doctor in America doing more harm than good?
- Dr. Oz Presents Highly Inaccurate Information
- Mehmet Oz – Dr. Does-It-All
- Doctor Oz takes a risk
‘It’s easy to understand why many Americans are unenthusiastic about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Although supermarket aisles are lined with foods made from biotech crops – most cereals, frozen foods, canned soups, vegetable oils, soft drinks, baby formula, tofu and even milk contain GMOs – consumers have yet to see tangible benefits from GMOs. The biotech industry has been slow to develop food that is healthier, better tasting or longer lasting – to its political detriment. As Food and Water Watch, a critic of GMOs, has argued, hyperbolically: “The only ones experiencing any benefits from GE crops are the few, massive corporations that are controlling the food system at every step and seeing large profit margins.” That is about to change.’
‘Slavery is back. Modern day slave ships have been used to provide feed for prawns supplied to some of the world’s biggest supermarkets, including: Tesco, Aldi, Walmart and Morrisons. A six-month Guardian multimedia investigation has, for the first time, tracked how these supermarkets use suppliers relying on slave labour to put cheap prawns on their shelves.’ (The Guardian)
‘Peter Mandelson’s willingness to act as a battering ram for Western multinationals knew few bounds… During his four years in Brussels, Mandelson pushed the EU’s agenda to new extremes. In the past, trade negotiators had traditionally focused on cutting or removing taxes levied on imports and exports. A 2006 policy paper called Global Europe – drawn up at Mandelson’s behest – pushed for that scope to be enlarged. It committed the EU to strive towards dismantling a range of “barriers” encountered by firms doing business abroad. Workers’ rights and environmental standards across the world would be vigorously challenged if they harmed corporate profits, the paper inferred. Sadly, this agenda has gained more momentum than Mandelson could have dreamed.
‘To the rhythms of drums and chants, concerned people took to the streets across 436 cities in 52 countries. The message was clear: smash Monsanto. With thousands marching from coast to coast, Canada to Argentina, and around the world, the day of protest has emerged as one of the largest global events—and it has only been around for two years. However, more than small hopes for a mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, smashing Monsanto entails a larger transformation of the modern relationship between people and food.
It is not only GM products, but the continuing economy of globalization, that Monsanto represents. Thanks to major seed companies and agricultural conglomerates like Monsanto and Cargill, the very definition of farmer has changed throughout the world—from a person or group of people in a given community who specialized in producing food to a corporate, land-owning entity comprised more of machines, technological assemblages, and inputs than of people who work the land. Thus, the target of protest is not only GMs, although GMs are a central aspect, but also the supply chain of multinational corporations that transforms food into a commodity that many throughout the world cannot afford.’
‘People are getting more adventurous with how they eat, and when it comes to seafood, this means exhaustively looking to every exotic corner for the best, newest and tastiest fish. Also, the stuff is delicious. Seafood is a critical portion of more than 3 billion people’s diets. Already, 90 percent of U.S. seafood is imported.
This can’t last. The oceans are stretched, and certain fish species are approaching depletion. Leading scientists project that if we continue to fish this way, without allowing our oceans time to recover, our oceans could become virtual deserts by 2050. That’s just 36 years from now. Given that demand for seafood – along with the world’s population – is rising, don’t be surprised if this window closes even faster. Make your peace with fish, because it may not last much longer.
[...] If this sounds alarmist, look at the data. The Census of Marine Life concluded in 2010 that 90 percent of the large fish are gone, primarily because of overfishing. This includes many of the fish we love to eat, like Atlantic salmon, tuna, halibut, swordfish, Atlantic cod. If we don’t allow for proper recovery, these fish risk total extinction.’
Researchers at William Paterson University in New Jersey, USA have compiled a list of “powerhouse fruits and vegetables” based on the amount of 17 critical nutrients they contain. Vegetables dominate the list and watercress is the only one to come out with a perfect score:
‘A single glass of fruit juice a day is the most anyone should drink, new guidelines say, as a report warns that families are consuming unsafe levels of sugar. There is rising concern that sugar is one of the greatest threats to health, creating an obesity time bomb and contributing to spiralling levels of diabetes. Health officials issued the warning as a national study found that children and teenagers are consuming around 40 per cent more added sugar than the recommended daily allowance.
Fruit juices and fizzy drinks are the chief culprit, providing the largest source of sugar for children aged between four and 18, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey by Public Health England found. The country’s most senior nutritionist yesterday advised limiting children and adults to 150ml of fruit juice per day, and always accompanied by a meal. It is the first time health officials have outlined such a limit.’
‘Fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola has sparked controversy with new plans to fund a £20 million anti-obesity fitness drive in 70 of the country’s parks.
The global company says the new programme will mean thousands of free sessions and coaching for families, in activities such as tennis, basketball, hula-hooping, Zumba, rounders and archery.
But the plans last night triggered immediate criticism, with nutrition campaigners accusing the company of an “obscene” attempt to distract from its own part in fuelling Britain’s obesity epidemic.’