Special on Eating Safely in a Toxic World
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Success on country-of-origin labelling - but not for meat!
A Food Standards Australia-New Zealand (FSANZ) proposal for mandatory country-of-origin labelling on all imported unpackaged fish, fruit and vegetables is good news for consumers, but should be extended to cover imported meat as well, Green MP Sue Kedgley says.
"FSANZ is to be congratulated for insisting on mandatory country-of-origin labelling for unpackaged foods, in the face of intense opposition from the New Zealand Government," Ms Kedgley said. "But it's bizarre that thousands of tonnes of imported, unpackaged meat are exempt from mandatory country of origin labelling."
Ms Kedgley said she was also concerned that, under the FSANZ proposal, there is no requirement for ingredients to be labelled. "This is totally unsatisfactory as consumers want to know where ingredients come from as well."
Under the FSANZ proposal, packaged food can be labelled either with a country-of-origin label, or with a statement declaring that the food or ingredients were 'imported'.
The FSANZ proposal for mandatory country-of-origin labelling for food is open for a final round of submissions until May 4. After this date, FSANZ will make its final decision on mandatory country-of-origin labelling.
From Green Party media release 31 March 2005
Does advertising influence our children
By Jacky Pearson
Most people do not want to admit they are susceptible to advertising, believing they are making qualified choices. In the USA counter advertising (advocating healthy choices) does not seem to work. Awareness and behaviour change are two very different things. Advertising from the industry seems to be winning through and young people are consuming more, said US public health specialist, Dr Jenningham, interviewed about recent research into alcohol consumption and advertising recently on National Radio.
A recent review commissioned by the UK Food Standards Agency studied the extent of food promotion to children and any subsequent effects in terms of food consumption choices. They found that childrens food promotion falls into the BIG FOUR categories: pre-sugared breakfast cereals, soft-drinks, confectionary and savory snacks. In the last 10 years fast food advertising has dramatically increased. The advertised diet contrasted sharply with that recommended by public health and instead promotes taste, instant gratification and fun.
While it is difficult to determine whether children act on a promotion, there are many studies suggesting that the influence to children is not just by chance and that choices occur at brand and category level. The study concludes that food promotion is having an effect on childrens preferences, purchase and behaviour. The commission wants to
bring about improvements in childrens eating habits possibly by harnessing the very commercial marketing that may have caused it.
|A QUICK LOOK AT HOW SOME COUNTRIES ADVERTISE FOOD TO KIDS
Sources:New York Times 21/1/2005; Press Release - Children's Defense Fund 14/5/2003; USgovinfo SCHIP Program
- Ireland: All television commercials for fast food and sweets are banned.
- Sweden/Norway/Austria/Luxembourg:All television advertising to children is banned.
- Belgium/France/Portugal/Vietnam:All marketing is banned in schools.
- United States:Spending more per child than any other nation in the world, the U.S. plugs $15 billion per year into marketing food to kids.
Children should be protected from marketing practices that undermine healthy eating on television and in the school environment. This would include a prohibition on television advertisements promoting unhealthy food, and a requirement that schools only allow healthy food to be sold or marketed. In Ireland, where television commercials for candy and fast foods are banned, wrappers must carry warnings that fast food should be eaten in moderation and that sugary foods cause tooth decay. See box for further details of what happens in some other countries.
We would like to see all schools remove vending machines selling high sugar and sugar-free drinks. In the US Kraft Food has eliminated all in-school marketing and set specific nutrition criteria for products sold in school vending machines. We commend Coca Cola in New Zealand for voluntarily removing sugar carbonated soft drinks from all primary schools a year ago, but we strongly deplore the push to increase the sale of sugar-free soft drinks. Sugar-free means it has an artificial sweetener, most likely aspartame, the controversial additive that may cause a range of adverse reactions not only in children but also in adults. (See the informative article by Chris Wheeler on aspartame in our newsletter no. 11.)
Sources: Does food promotion influence children A systematic review of the evidence www.marketing.strak.ac.uk/csm/
Coca-Cola Advertisment, NZ Herald, February 2005.
Branding our Children
By John Silvester
Food advertising to children was debated by Neville Rigby and Jeremy Preston in the Ecologist, April 2004. Corporate marketers targeting of youth was made a significant issue by Naomi Klein in her classic study of globalisation.
What is branding Every day, I walk past a Wellington shop that offers "Body Piercing, Scarification and Branding". Scarification sounds scary deliberate scarring to produce a pattern, supposedly artistic on the skin, but branding hmmm. Isnt that done to cattle and Auschwitz prisoners I believe cattle are often chemically branded nowadays, but have you seen it done in a Western movie Remember the hiss, the smoke, and the bellow of the tortured animal So whats that got to do with our children Well, you know the expression: "It was burnt on my brain" Thats a graphic image of what advertisers are trying to do to reach our children at their most impressionable and form their eating preferences and habits as early as possible, according to Neville Rigby, Director of policy and public affairs at the International Obesity Taskforce (OTF).
"Before they can walk or talk, small children are exposed to a marketing barrage that may have lasting influence over their behaviour. A few years ago the former chair of the C childhood working group described the case of a baby whose parents were alarmed by its agitation whenever the family passed a McDonalds store. It seemed that the infant already associated the familiar golden arches with the childrens party fun depicted in TV ads." (Rigby and Preston, 2004).
"In 13% of U.S. schools companies like McDonalds and Burger King now set up kiosks in lunchrooms, which they advertise around the school" reported Naomi Klein. In case you think nothing like that could happen here, at Auckland University of Technology, in the late nineties, I watched a McDonalds being built in the quad right next to the bookshop.
The effects of stopping exercising and eating nothing but McDonalds for a month were documented last year by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock in the movie "Super Size Me". After consuming 14 kilograms of sugar and 6 kilograms of fat from fast food, Spurlock, a nonsmoker and nondrinker who normally exercises regularly, was reported to have put on 11 kilograms and gone from health described by doctors as outstanding to a condition where he was medically diagnosed as suffering liver damage comparable to that of an alcoholic. (msn report, 2004)
"In America, Congress received evidence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that childrens appetites for sugary drinks, salty snacks and other junk food, are established before they reach school age. Hardly surprising, but whose interests are best served if a nurturing environment is exchanged for a world of hard-sell techniques designed to brand children at earlier and earlier ages" says Rigby, opening the debate with Preston, Director of the advertising industry lobby group the Food Advertising Unit.
Information on the organisations represented by Rigby and Preston may be found at www.iotf.org and www.fau.org.uk.
Rigby, Neville and Jeremy Preston. 2004. "Advertising to children: the debate". The Ecologist, April 2004, pp. 16-20.
Klein, Naomi. 2000. "No Logo". London: Flamingo.
By Alison White
The red azo dye amaranth 123 is used in a range of foods including fruit-flavoured fillings, jellies, packet cake mixes, red soft drinks and sweets.
It is also used unlabelled in childrens red-coloured paracetamol. Colourless versions of the painkiller can be bought from the pharmacy, but Wellington Hospital at least supplies only the amaranth-laden version in the childrens wards. A daughter of one of our members described how her son developed a rash around his mouth and became hyperactive after he was given a dose.
Like other azo dyes amaranth has been linked to asthma, skin rashes and hyperactivity. Amaranth was banned in the US in 1976 and also in some other countries because some studies showed it may cause cancer and birth defects. However, some slightly later studies did not support these findings and the issue was judged inconclusive. Little subsequent research has been done. Some more recent research shows that very low doses cause colon DNA damage (Tsuda 2001), that it shows clear immunosuppressive effects (Koutsogeorgopoulu 1998), and that there are some reproductive, developmental and behavioural effects in mice (Tanaka 1992).
In the meantime, while we wait for years for the Food Standards Australia New Zealand and MedSafe in the Ministry of Health to consider doing anything about it, we strongly recommend you avoid giving any substance containing amaranth to your children.
References available upon request.
Footnote: We would like to express our gratitude for the generous donation we have just received from the Wellington Hyperactivity and Allergy Association, which is winding up as a result of the death of the founder Brenda Sampson, who did sterling work in this area for many years. Eliminating harmful food additives continues to be one of our major aims.
"Ban artificial food colourings" UK report
Artificial food colourings should be banned in the interest of public health, according to UK researchers. A team of researchers from Southampton University said removing these substances from foods could cut hyperactivity rates in young children.
They are extending their research to see whether additive-free diets have a positive effect in older children too. The research on 300 three-year-olds, appearing in the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood, screened the children for hyperactivity and allergies. Over the next four weeks the researchers controlled the children's diets, giving them in the first week only foods free of artificial additives. During the second and fourth weeks the children were given a fruit juice with or without artificial colourings and preservatives. The children's parents were asked to keep diaries on their child's behaviour throughout the study, but were unaware which type of juice their child had been given.
Overall, the parents said their children became less hyperactive during the period when the additives were removed. Similarly, they said their children were much more hyperactive during the period when the additives were put back in. However, trained doctors doing formal assessments of the children did not find any change in behaviour with change in diet.
Professor Warner believes parental ratings might be more sensitive because parents see their children's behaviour over a longer period of time and in more varied settings. But he says more research is needed to determine this, and also whether older children's behaviour might be affected by additives in a similar way.
"It's absolutely imperative to have follow up studies because we are not now just talking about a population of children with a particular problem we are saying there's a potential for this to be an effect on all children."
Source: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3742423.stm 25 may 2004
Detoxifying from Lead
Last year Food Safety Authority testing discovered that baby food and cornflour contained high levels of lead. While the Authority hastened to assure us that all was well and that we did not need to panic, no steps have been published about what you can do to protect your children and yourself from lead poisoning. We offer perspectives from a naturopath and homeopath.
By Jill Newman
The naturopathic approach is always to enhance the bodys natural ability to digest and assimilate good food and also to ensure optimum function from our natural elimination systems, that is, the bowels, kidneys, skin, lungs and of course the liver. This is known as the Integrated Detoxification Programme.
Toxins may enter our bodies through our skin (heavy metals, solvents from clothing and furnishings, building materials, etc) via our lungs (cigarette smoke, fumes, traffic smog etc) and particularly via our gut from our food and water! The mind and emotions also play a part here. Negative poisonous thoughts only cause disharmony in the body of the thinker. Eliminate stinking thinking! Focus on the good in all situations to manifest more!
Naturopaths recognize that the majority of external toxins(exotoxins) are absorbed through the gut and that there is another form (endotoxins) produced by inadequate digestion of food itself. Allergic and sensitivity reactions also produce toxins. To stay truly well it is vital to help your body clear these toxins on a daily basis and also do a specific detox program once a year.
There are many simple things we can do on a daily basis such as drinking adequate filtered water 6-8 glasses a day, dry skin brushing, nature walking, biking, swimming, jogging, adequate fibrous and raw foods to ensure a healthy bowel elimination every morning, and mostly eating right for your blood type with a zone approach (balance of carbs, proteins and fats:40:30:30).
A good way to determine whether we have toxic levels of metals in our bodies is to get a hair analysis done. This costs about $130. This elemental analysis provides a record that reflects normal and abnormal metabolism, assimilation and exposure of both toxic and nutritional elements. Lead is the best known example of problems associated with chronic low-level toxic element exposure. Studies show that lead toxicity is associated with deficits in central nervous system functioning that can persist into young adult hood. Symptoms in children and adults include: lack of co-ordination, fatigue, headaches, anaemia, metallic taste, loss of appetite, weight loss, insomnia, nervousness, decreased nerve conduction, possibly motor neuron disorders.
Various substances can help to reduce the bodys lead levels: various amino acids including glutathione; chelation therapy; minerals including iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc; vitamins A, B1, C and E. Several herbs and foods are helpful: spirulina, chlorella, coriander and garlic. Dairy products can increase the bodys absorption of lead.
Jill Newman at the Kowhai Clinic in Korokoro, Lower Hutt, is well trained (a naturopath since 1975) in the processes of detoxification. Phone 04 5890833
Detoxification from lead with homeopathy
By Gyneth Evans
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which has as its fundamental principle that similars cure. An easy example of this principle is that of the onionwhen cutting up an onion, if we are sensitive to it, we may get the symptoms of runny nose, tickling in the throat, watery eyes. We can easily recognise these symptoms as those of a simple cold or hayfever. A homeopathic remedy made from the onion may be useful to treat a person with hayfever or a cold. What will cause a set of symptoms in a healthy person, will cure that same set of symptoms in someone who is unwell.
Another important consideration in homeopathy is individualisation. Homeopaths recognise that each person is a unique individual and as such will respond in their own way to any stimulus or disease. For instance, the common symptoms of migraines are visual disturbances, usually preceding the actual head pain, often accompanied by nausea and possibly vomiting. What makes a migraine individual is the type of visual disturbance e.g. blurring, sparks of light etc., the type and specific location of the pain and what makes the pain better or worse. A homeopath takes all these into consideration and selects the remedy most suited to you. Five people with migraines may each need a different remedy.
Finally, for the purposes of this discussion, the other important aspect is susceptibility. Any adverse influence with which we come in contact will affect each of us according to our individual susceptibility. Most of us will know of some bug or infection which has been going around and while some catch it, others dont. A good example could be food poisoning; five people could eat the same contaminated food, and of those five, one might be seriously ill, two or three have some trouble with diarrhoea and vomiting, and the fifth very little affected. This is all about our individual susceptibility.
So we come to the question of detoxifying from possible lead poisoning from contaminated food. There are 34 remedies in my books that have the reputation of being helpful for a person who has lead poisoning. As each of us will react according to our own individuality and susceptibility, the best advice is to visit a professional homeopath as it is their job to discern which particular homeopathic remedy is best for you - individually chosen.
Gwyneth Evans: PO Box 51-156 Tawa, Wellington; www.homeopathic.co.nz
Pesticides in celery
By Alison White
Non-organic celery, like other salad vegetables, tends to be heavily sprayed. Recent analysis of pesticide residues revealed as many as 14 different pesticides in just 10 samples of celery, and all samples had detectable residues in them.
Data analysed comes from the Food Safety Authoritys first and third quarterly reports of the Total Diet Survey released this year and also from Soil and Health testing of celery samples this year and in 2002.
Two residues of particular concern were the fungicides chlorothalonil, found in nine of the ten samples, and the dithiocarbamates, found in six out of eight samples analysed.
Chlorothalonil is bad news both for human health and the environment. It is labelled a probable human carcinogen by the EPA. It has also been found to cause kidney and liver damage, embryo loss during pregnancy and genetic damage. It often causes skin rashes, and people exposed to it can become very sensitive to it, requiring only a minute amount to cause a reaction. A major breakdown product of it (4-hydroxy-2,5,6-trichloroisophthalonitrile) is about 30 times more acutely toxic than chlorothalonil itself and is more persistent in soil.(Cox 1997)
It has adverse effects on various forms of wildlife and is persistent in the environment, being found in groundwater, fog, seawater and air.
It has been found in groundwater in four states of the US, and in the air approximately a mile from chlorothalonil-treated fields. Chlorothalonils ability to contaminate water long distances from where it is used was startlingly demonstrated in a U.S.Dept. of Agriculture study of the Bering Sea. Chlorothalonil was found in every fog sample collected, and in several of the sea water samples collected. Chlorothalonil is very highly toxic to fish, and concentrations as low as 2 parts per billion can cause gill damage and anaemia. It is also toxic to shrimp, frogs, beneficial micro organisms, and earthworms. In plants it can cause a variety of effects, including reductions in yield. (Cox 1997)
|Pesticides you might be consuming in celery
The dithiocarbamates are a group of fungicides including mancozeb, metiram, zineb and ziram which have a metabolite called ethylene thiourea (ETU). This breakdown product is a known endocrine disruptor (disturbs hormones), anti-thyroid agent, carcinogen (cancer-causing), mutagen (gene-damaging) and teratogen (causing birth defects). (Birnbaum 2003, Hurley 1998, Colborn 1996, IARC 1991). ETU can be concentrated upon processing and heating. In other words, if you cook a vegetable which has been sprayed with mancozeb (the most common), you will be increasing the amount of the dangerous metabolite.
The Food Safety Authority judges that these residues in our food are of no concern and it assumes, for example, that a little bit of a carcinogen or mutagen wont hurt you. However, there is no scientific basis for this assumption. Studies have been unable to establish a threshold for carcinogens. One study, for example, involving 24,000 mice, taking five years to plan and conduct, and costing almost $US7 million, still could not resolve whether there are safe levels for carcinogens. (MacIntyre 1989)
Endocrine disruptors, brought to light by research only over the last decade, can mimic or disrupt the normal functions of hormones, and tamper with the delicately balanced signalling system in the body, which governs a range of functions and developmental processes. Though their effects in human beings are still being debated, the evidence is mounting. From wildlife and animal studies in laboratories, there is growing concern that endocrine disruptors can cause developmental, reproductive, behavioural, immunological and physiological changes. Particularly worrisome is the threat that endocrine disruptors pose on the unborn. When acting on a developing foetus at critical periods, they can cause lasting damage at minute doses, which were previously not thought to be harmful. (Schantz 2001, Colborn 1996, Watts 2000)
Not all bad news
All this bad news should hopefully persuade you to seek out organic celery when you can get it. If you cant get it, there is some good news, however. The residues detected in celery now compared to 14 years ago do seem to be much lower. In MAFs 1991 survey which analysed 60 samples of celery, 17 pesticides were found and 97.7% of samples had pesticide residues. The average level of chlorothalonil found then was an astounding 2.6015ppm, compared to 0.2286ppm in the latest results, that is, about a tenth as much. Dithiocarbamates were also much more liberally applied: the average residue then was 1.7233ppm compared to 0.0267ppm now, more than 60 times less. (MAF 1992)
There is, nevertheless, no room for complacency. New Zealand still does not restrict dithiocarbamate usage, whereas the US does. Here you can even buy mancozeb from the supermarket! Our regulatory authority has no apparent qualms that a number of cancer-causing pesticides are found in our food and assumes that a foetus being exposed to endocrine-disrupting substances from pesticide residues in our food is of no toxicological concern.
What we would like to see is that the Food Safety Authority agree that reducing pesticide residues in our food is a good idea and, along with the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA), embark on a number of strategies to achieve this aim. Restricting and phasing out questionable pesticides would be a start. We would be very pleased if the Authority were to acknowledge that organic growing is not just good for exports, but is a very desirable and feasible option for New Zealand, good not only for the environment but for us too!
Birnbaum LS, Fenton SE 2003: Cancer and developmental exposure to endocrine disruptors, Environ Health Perspect 111:389-394.
Colborn T, Dumanoski D, Myers JP 1996: Our Stolen Future: Are we threatening our fertility, intelligence and survival? A detective story, Little, Brown & Co. See also www.ourstolenfuture.org
Cox C 1997: Fungicide factsheet: Chlorothalonil, J Pesticide Reform, 16(4):14-20. www.pesticide.org/factsheets.html
Hurley PM, Hill RN, Whiting RJ 1998: Mode of Carcinogenic Action of Pesticides Inducing Thyroid Follicular Cell Tumors in Rodents, Environ Health Perspect 106:437-445 ehp.niehs.nih.gov/
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 1991: Fungicides:. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risks Hum 53:403-422.
MacIntyre A, Allison N, Penman D: Pesticides 1989: Issues and options for New Zealand, Ministry for the Environment
MAF 1992: Pesticide Residues in NZ Food 1990-1991. Department of Health & Ministry of Agriculture.
Schantz SL, Widholm JJ 2001: Cognitive effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in animals, Environ Health Perspect 109:1197-1206.
Vannoort RW: 2003/04 New Zealand Total Diet Survey Analytical Results - Q1 20 November 2003, Q3 8 July 2004, New Zealand Food Safety Authority & ESR. www.nzfsa.govt.nz
Watts, M. 2000: Endocrine disruption: a case for the precautionary approach. Soil & Health March/April.
This article first appeared in OrganicNZ Nov/Dec 2004.
The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson
Seven Stories Press 2004
Reviewed by Noeline Gannaway
This is the book pure water advocates have been waiting for, and I welcome it. Yet back in the early 1960s when Wellington City Council voted for water fluoridation, I was content to accept the word of the dental health inspector whose house I was sharing, that fluoride would be good for childrens teeth.
An episode of painful mouth ulcers about that time remained a mystery until, years later, I read of several adverse reactions to fluoride noted by Dr Hans Moolenburgh in Holland. With his medical practice at one time comprising both fluoridated and unfluoridated areas, he was well placed to observe effects in those sensitive to fluoride. From then on I questioned the safety of fluoridation.
No species can ever be an accurate model for another, and animal studies can, at most, sound a warning. The opening chapters of The Fluoride Deception describe how in 1990, evidence of brain damage from fluoride in mice studied by Dr Phyllis Mullenix, was deliberately disregarded. In fact, it had long been known that fluoride was neurotoxic.
With professional skill, award-winning investigative reporter, Chris Bryson, tells how fluoride became a protected pollutant. Brysons meticulous research uncovers secret medical tests, suppressed studies and stymied lawsuits as government, industry and health officials colluded to manipulate public opinion. Bryson also describes how fluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6), a contaminated by-product of the phosphate fertiliser industry, became the prime source of fluoride for municipal water fluoridation.
There is a preface by Dr Theo Colborn, co-author of Our Stolen Future, a postscript by Swedish Nobel Laureate, Dr Arvid Carlsson, and generous reference notes.
This important book deserves to be widely read. It will be of particular value to decision-makers in the health field, local Councils and those practitioners who have assumed that fluoridation is safe and of special benefit to underprivileged children. All readers will find Brysons book enlightening and compelling.
Join the Fluoride Action Network New Zealand. It costs only $10 for membership. Post cheque to: The Treasurer, FAN (NZ), PO Box 9804, Marion Square, Wellington. See www.fannz.org.nz for further details about fluoridation.
Labelled GE food on New Zealand shelves
Stagg Chilli Bean - Vegetable Mix - targeted at vegetarians - is one of the first GE products to be 'labelled' as the law requires. Listed (not prominently) in ingredients at the back is: maize meal (genetically modified). Jon Carapiet of GE Free NZ reports that the US company Hormel foods has received over 1,000 emails so far, and is considering withdrawing Stagg's Vegetable Garden Four-Bean Chilli. You can email or phone them at: email@example.com
Tel: (09) 379 5350
Action - Become a Gene Dectective
GiantExperiment is compiling a photo file of products with labels identifying that they contain GE ingredients. If you have seen others apart from Stagg Chilli, snap a photo of the label and email it to GiantExperiment at
Big win for consumers
Checking a companys policy on GE is often the only way to be sure that youre buying GE-Free. Recently Inghams have adopted a GE-Free policy for their chicken feed, after months of protests.
You cant learn about their new policy from labels, because GE-fed chickens dont have to be labelled. Neither, for that matter, does ice cream containing small amounts of GE cotton. (Yes, believe it or not, linters derived from GE cotton can be used to thicken ice cream.)
If you want to know which ice-cream companies avoid all GE ingredients, check out the True Food Guide at www.gefreefood.org.nz. (Hint - the only company in the red zone is Cadburys).
www.giantexperiment.co.nz newsletter 24 Feb 2005
Safe Food advice: We recommend buying organic ice cream, especially for children, not only because you can avoid possible GE components but also because other questionable additives are used in many ice creams which are not permitted in organic ice cream.
GE cotton for use in NZ foods
The trans-Tasman food standards authority says it is safe to eat foods containing ingredients made from some genetically engineered (GE) cotton.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand announced it was seeking public submissions by March 23 on the use in foods of GE cotton from the Monsanto strain MON88913, which has been engineered to tolerate glyphosate herbicides, such as the company's Roundup.
At the end of last year, Food Standards' managing director, Ian Lindenmayer announced the approval of foods made using oil and "linters" from Syngenta's GE cotton, COT102, commercially known as Bollgard II. That GE cultivar is engineered with a gene codes to produce a bacterial toxin, Bt, to kill cotton bollworm and budworm.
It was the 20th GE food ingredient to be approved for sale by Food Standards, which said that foods containing oil and linters from the GE cotton would be exempt from GE labelling requirements, because those two parts of the cotton did not contain engineered proteins.
Germans lead the way on GE liability
Heres a question which goes right to the heart of GE farming. Who should pay if GE crops contaminate normal crops on neighbouring farms Many of you probably answered: the farmers or companies making the profits from the GE crops.
Alas, in most countries, including New Zealand, liability is not that clearcut. But Germany is leading the way with a law passed recently, which will make GE farmers liable for economic damages caused to a neighbours crop. Its simple, and its groundbreaking. And its going to make farmers think very hard about what they plant.
From January 1st this year, German farmers planting GE crops will be liable for economic damages they cause to a neighbours crops, even if they follow planting instructions. In Germany, bio products must contain less than 0.1% GE material. EU law is much weaker, allowing non-GE plants to contain up to 0.9% GE material.
Bayer Backs Out of GE in India
Greenpeace India announced in November 2004 that Bayer Crop Science has ended efforts to commercialise GE crops in India. Bayer's announcement came after weeks of protests.
Earlier Pro Agro (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer) had conducted field trials of cabbage and cauliflower that were genetically modified with the controversial Cry9C gene. This gene is one of a family of crystalline (Cry) endotoxin proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring soil bacterium. The Bt gene is inserted into GE crops to kill pests by disrupting their digestive system. Because Cry9C is less affected by heat than other Cry proteins, and is resistant to degradation by gastric juices, it is considered likely to cause allergic reactions in humans and was certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as unfit for human consumption.
The Cry9C gene protein is present in StarLink corn, which was widely grown in the U.S. for animal feed and industrial purposes and in 2000 was found in 300 corn food products in U.S. grocery stores. After StarLink was found in the food supply, expert scientific advisors to the EPA concluded, "there was no minimal level of StarLink's Cry9C insecticidal protein that could be judged safe for human consumption."
www.panna.org/resources/panups.html December 20, 2004
California Chef Finds Cure for Bland, Unhealthy Hospital Food
Providing healthy and flavourful foods on a limited budget in a hospital cafeteria is not easy, but Deane Bussiere, a chef at the Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, is proving it can be done. Using the same budget that once provided unhealthy fare such as instant mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, Bussiere has transformed the cafeteria into a successful purveyor of organic foods, ranging from gorgonzola bread pudding to winter root-vegetable medley soup. A portion of the hospital grounds has been turned into a vegetable garden for local schools to teach kids how to grow their own food while supplying the hospital cafeteria with fresh organic ingredients
The Culinary Institute of America-trained chef is turning the world of bland, institutionalized hospital food upside down. That's because he has decided there's no reason harried nurses and doctors can't eat organic, sustainably grown, in-season food that tastes good enough to be in a restaurant. "I just want people to be happy and healthy," he says.
Full story can be found at: www.santacruzsentinel.com/.
Yet Another Study Finds Organic Food is Healthier
The Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences has released a new study showing that lab animals raised on organic produce had stronger immune systems, slept better and were slimmer than those raised on conventional produce. Dr. Kristen Brandt, one of the lead scientists in the study said they cant say specifically why there were developmental variations between the two groups of rats, but "the difference was so big that it is very unlikely to be random."
The scientists experimented on 36 rats, feeding one group organic food, another conventionally grown food, with high levels of fertiliser and some pesticide, and a third group minimally-fertilised food.www.organicconsumers.org/organic/ukrats022105.cfm
Antioxidant Levels in Organic Foods Higher Than Conventional Foods
The second annual State of Science Review has found that cancer-fighting antioxidant levels are, on average, 30% higher in organic produce vs. conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. The cause for this, say scientists, is that antioxidant chemicals are created within a plant grown organically or in the wild when the plant triggers internal defence mechanisms. These beneficial mechanisms are rarely triggered in plants that are raised with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Full report at: www.organic-center.org/stateofscience.htm
Organic Milk Has More Nutrients and Antioxidants
A new study has found that organic milk has higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants than conventional milk. According to research spearheaded by the UK's Soil Association, dairy cattle raised on an organic diet produce milk with 50% more Vitamin E and 75% more beta carotene than conventionally farmed dairy. The organic milk is also two to three times higher in zeaxanthine and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants, and higher levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids were found.
Organic Tomato Sauce Fights Cancer
US scientists have discovered that organic tomato sauce contains higher levels oflycopene, which protects against cancer.
Scientists Mary Chapman and Betty Ishida, working at the AgriculturalResearch Service in Albany, California, tested lycopene levels and antioxidant activity in 13 different tomato sauce brands, including the trendy new purple and green varieties. Their findings indicate that the three organic varieties had higher levels of lycopene, which helps protect against breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer. There are also indications that it can help prevent heart disease.
Source: www.just-food.com 7 Jan 2005
Teflon Trouble Sticking To DuPont
The chemical Teflon used in coating may be making people sick. Teflon has been hugely successful for chemical maker DuPont, which over the last half-century has made the material almost ubiquitous, putting it not just on frying pans but also on carpets, fast-food packaging, clothing, eyeglasses and electrical wires - even the fabric roofs covering football stadiums.
Now DuPont has to worry that Teflon and the materials used to make it have perhaps become a bit too ubiquitous. Teflon constituents have found their way into rivers, soil, wild animals and humans, according to company, government environmental officials and others. Evidence suggests that some of the materials, known to cause cancer and other problems in animals, may be making people sick.
The Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint last year charging the company with withholding evidence of its own health and environmental concerns about an important chemical used to manufacture Teflon. The agency is also investigating whether the suspect chemical, a detergent-like substance called perfluorooctanoic acid, is harmful to human health, and how it has become so pervasive in the environment.
The chemical - which is more commonly known as PFOA or C-8, for the number of carbon atoms in its molecular structure - has turned up in the blood of more than 90 per cent of Americans, according to samples taken from blood banks by the 3M Co.
The company acknowledges that fumes from Teflon pans subjected to high heat can release gasses unrelated to PFOA, which can kill pet birds and cause a flu-like condition in humans known as polymer fume fever.
Safe Food Campaigns precautionary advice: Avoid buying Teflon-coated utensils. (Yes, we know thats difficult its almost all there is available.) If using Teflon-coated pans and baking trays, dont use if any coating has started to chip off. Baking paper could be used to cover the Teflon.
Source: NEW YORK TIMES, Aug. 9, 2004
Type of rennet should be labelled
The Food Standards Code covers labelling of food for sale and should ensure that the type of rennet used in cheese production is declared on packaging to identify its source.
Public awareness of rennet is in my experience limited and disclosure would assist consumers wanting to make informed choices when buying food products. Whether the cheeses purchased contains rennet made from the stomach lining of bobby calves or rennet made from cultured fungi is something consumers should be entitled to know.
Disclosure would stop what is currently common practice whereby many food retailers misrepresent some of the products they sell as being 'vegetarian' when the type of cheese used is clearly not. Disclosure would also give the New Worlds, Subways, Pizza Huts/Havens, etc no excuse to plead ignorance of the rennet content as they currently can do.
From M Taylor, Wellington, from his letter to Food Standards Australia NZ (FSANZ)
From FSANZ reply:
There are no standards in the joint Code that make the declaration of the animal/vegetable source mandatory.
Note: Vegetable rennet or the enzyme chymosin may be genetically engineered. Concerned consumers will have to ask food manufacturers what type of rennet they use.