Category Archives: Health Alerts

Dept. of Agriculture Being Sued for Withholding GMO Info

CFS_lawsuitThe Center for Food Safety (CFS) is suing the Department of Agriculture for years of withholding safety information regarding GMO crops. According to the CFS, the Department of Agriculture has been violating the Freedom of Information Act for over thirteen years.

Cristina Stella, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety said this about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

 “APHIS has a track record of irresponsible and inadequate regulation of GE crops. In the absence of thorough government oversight, public access to information about these crops becomes all the more critical. This lawsuit is necessary to stop APHIS from continuing to ignore.”

Under the current agricultural regulations, experimental field trials of GE crops have repeatedly been found to escape containment, and APHIS has refused to do its job to make sure that GMO cross-contamination does not occur.

Stella explains further:

 “The longer APHIS fails to use its full authority to regulate the environmental and agricultural harms from GE crops, such as transgenic contamination of nearby crops, pesticide drift, and endangerment of protected species, the more these harms will occur. CFS has been seeking information about these harms for over ten years—and for over ten years, APHIS has continually ignored our requests. It cannot continue to do so.”

This is the fourth time CFS has had to sue APHIS to compel compliance with FOIA, and this is reportedly the most extensive challenge to APHIS’s pattern of unreasonable delays to date.

Lawsuit Claim Filed: Plaintiff’s requests that pertain to APHIS’s oversight of GE crops, unlawfully and unreasonably delaying responses, and withholding public disclosure of information sought by Plaintiff. View the actual filing document here.

Avoid Teflon Pans

Non stick frying panNon-stick surfaces are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon, a DuPont brand trademark.
Since it comes from DuPont, you know it’s made from chemicals. Non-stick pans have been all the rage for decades, but you are paying a price with your health for their convenience.

Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called “Teflon Flu” or, as scientists describe it, “Polymer fume fever”). Ingesting particles that flake off scratched non-stick cookware isn’t toxic because solid PTFE flakes are inert.

Manufacturers’ labels often warn consumers to avoid high heat when cooking on Teflon. But EWG-commissioned tests conducted in 2003 showed that in just two to five minutes on a conventional stove top, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases.

The best pans to use for cooking are stainless steel. Cast iron is good, but problems have been reported with people getting too much iron from them. Stainless steel is the safest because it leeches nothing harmful into food. The best pots for baking are glass.

See our main health page, Health Circkles, for much more alternative health information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on health issues, news, nutrition and anything alternative health related.

Flushing Medications Down the Toilet Poisons Us All.

Two-headed-shark--016 Many tests have proven that the medications we flush down the toilet to get rid of are showing up in our drinking water and waterways, poisoning us and the wildlife. Most people do not think before they flush an old prescription medications down the toilet that that is not the end of it.

If you think this is a problem that doesn’t affect you, you are wrong. The improper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs ends up right back in your water supply where you are ingesting and absorbing all kinds of drugs you never planned on in your drinking water through city water systems .High levels of chemical estrogens have already been detected in the majority of city drinking water. These chemical estrogens are up to 1000 times more potent than what the body makes and have been proven to cause hormone imbalances leading to many diseases, neurological disorders, weight problems and digestion problems.

My mother was a member of her lake association, and when she found out that the lake she lives on was actually being poisoned by prescription medications when it was tested by the DNR, she took action to try and educate her neighbors on the proper way to dispose of medications, and set them up with a local medication dispensary that would collect old and expired medications for the elderly.

However, just flushing old meds is not the only way they end up in our water supply and waterways. When we take medications, they are flushed out of our bodies when we urinate as well. Also, numerous medications such as growth hormones, antibiotics and supplements are given to livestock and they in turn urinate these chemicals into their environment.

We’re now at a point where pharmaceuticals in the environment have become a big problem because we have not disposed of them properly for years. Millions of vultures died off in Asia after exposure to an anti-inflammatory painkiller used in cows. Male fish have also been observed with feminized characteristics due to exposure to synthetic estrogens in birth control pills.

2 headed turtleOtters, sadly, may be next in line, as researchers have discovered traces of drugs in their fur, which could be having serious consequences. As reported by the campaign group Chem Trus.

Pharmaceutical pollution is by no means a threat directed at only one species or one country. It’s a worldwide problem, and one that has the potential to threaten virtually every species on the planet.

As recently reported in the journal Philosophical Transactions.

“Expanding and aging human populations require ever increasing amounts of pharmaceuticals to maintain health. Recent studies have revealed that pharmaceuticals, both human and veterinary, disperse widely in aquatic and terrestrial environments with uptake into a range of organisms.

Pharmaceuticals are designed to have biological actions at low concentrations rendering them potentially potent environmental contaminants. The potential risks that pharmaceuticals pose to the health and long-term viability of wild animals and ecosystems are only beginning to be assessed and understood.”

For instance, exposure to low concentrations of psychiatric drugs can alter foraging patterns, activity levels and risk-taking behaviors in fish and birds.

The common antidepressant fluoxetine has been found to cause starlings to eat less, and synthetic estrogens in birth control pills reduce fish populations in lakes. Changes such as these have the potential to affect the entire ecosystem.

As reported in The Guardian:

“Another new study, led by Karen Kidd at the University of New Brunswick, showed synthetic estrogen used in the birth control pill not only wiped out fathead minnows in lakes used for experiments in Ontario, but also seriously disrupted the whole ecosystem.

The lakes’ top predator – trout – declined by 23-42%, due to the loss of the minnow and other prey, while insects increased as they were no longer being eaten by the minnows.”

The Proper Way to Dispose of Meds.

You can help by not flushing unused medications down your toilet or drain. What should you do with them instead? Some states are considering legislation that would require drug manufacturers to develop and pay for a program to collect residents’ unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and safely dispose of them.

As it stands, however, the EPA and other government agencies have released the following guidelines for “safely” disposing of drugs:

  • Throw most drugs in the trash after crushing them or dissolving them in water, mixing them with kitty litter, coffee grounds or other unappealing materials, and placing the mixture in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Remove and destroy any prescription labels before throwing away the containers.
  • In some states, pharmacies can take back medications. When in doubt, you should ask your pharmacist for advice.

Unfortunately, some of these suggestions merely move the environmental peril from one place to another — such as diluting medicines in water and mixing them in garbage that eventually ends up in a landfill anyway … but it does stop the drugs from travelling through water treatment systems that are ill-equipped to treat them.

On a larger scale, Chem Trust recommends that new medicines be designed so they don’t persist in the environment, and sewage treatment works be improved to treat medications that come through.

See our main health page, Health Circkles, for much more alternative health information than what is posted on this blog, including full articles on health issues, news, nutrition and anything alternative health related.

Avoid Antibacterial Soaps

antibacsoapA U.S. FDA advisory committee found that use of antibacterial soaps provides no benefits over plain soap and water for killing bacteria. But that’s not the most important reason to avoid antibacterial soaps.

The main reason to avoid anti-bacterial soaps is its active ingredient: triclosan (and the related triclocarbon). Triclosan is an anti-bacterial chemical found in many consumer products, and it’s nearly ubiquitous in liquid hand soap. It is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and even low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function. Further, the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

EWG Guide to TriclosanIt also affects the natural environment. Wastewater treatment does not remove all of the chemical, which means it ends up in our lakes, rivers and water sources. That’s especially unfortunate since triclosan is very toxic to aquatic life.

Watch Out for BMPEA in Supplements.

Tired of Being a Human Guinea Pig for the Billion Dollar Supplements Industry?

well_supplements-tmagArticleWhat YOU don’t know about weight loss, body building and energy supplements could kill you, or darn near. The latest study finding concerning levels of a chemical almost identical to amphetamines called BMPEA is just another lyric in the same old song and dance between consumer safety and products hitting the shelves without proper analysis or regulation beforehand.

It was only after trying unsuccessfully to find out from the F.D.A. which supplements contained BMPEA that Dr. Cohen and academics at other universities conducted their own tests, identifying the stimulant in 11 of 21 products.

As early as 2013, scientists at the FDA said in an article published last year that they noticed many popular supplements listed among their ingredients a little-known plant called acacia rigidula, a shrub native to Mexico and southern Texas.

“The plant’s presence in so many supplements was a red flag,” said Dr. Pieter A. Cohen, the lead author of the new study published Tuesday and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. He added that it’s not uncommon for companies to spike weight-loss and exercise supplements with amphetamine-like chemicals, then hide them on their labels under the names of obscure plants to give the impression they are natural botanical extracts.

Dr. Cohen said the F.D.A. appeared to be waiting for evidence that BMPEA was harming consumers. “If they wait long enough,” he said, “I suspect they will have that level of evidence to remove it from the market.”

In December, the Canadian health authorities said they forced a recall of JetFuel Superburn after the product was found to contain BMPEA and another amphetamine-like stimulant.

The Food and Drug Administration documented two years ago that nine such supplements contained the same chemical, but never made public the names of the products or the companies that made them. Neither has it recalled the products nor issued a health alert to consumers.

The Canadian health authorities in December called BMPEA, “a serious health risk,” and pulled supplements that contain it from store shelves. Although BMPEA was first synthesized in the 1930s as a replacement for amphetamine, it was never introduced as a pharmaceutical drug and its side effects were never studied in humans. Under federal law, dietary supplements can contain only ingredients that are part of the food supply or that were already on the market before 1994. Dr. Cohen said that BMPEA has never been sold as a food or supplement, and as a result any product that contains it is considered adulterated, which would give the F.D.A. the authority to send warning letters to companies that add it to their supplements.

Three of the supplements — JetFuel Superburn, JetFuel T-300 and MX-LS7 — found in Dr. Cohen’s study to contain BMPEA were still for sale at Vitamin Shoppe, one of the country’s largest retailers of supplements, with hundreds of locations. None list BMPEA as an ingredient. One of the products is the same one that the Canadian health authorities pulled from stores.

gat-jetfuel-superburn-bannerThe FDA is horribly lax at regulating the 33 billion-dollar-per-year supplement industry and many claim it’s in part because of conflict of interest with the agency staffing former employees of the very industry they are suppose to be regulating. The FDA however, claims it’s due to being understaffed, over-burdened and under-funded. The FDA has been under fire for several years now; being accused of continuous conflicts of interest and downright bribery from lobbying and political groups.

Daniel Fabricant, who ran the agency’s division of dietary supplement programs from 2011 to 2014, had been a senior executive at the Natural Products Association, which has spent millions of dollars lobbying to block new laws that would hold supplement makers to stricter standards. He left the F.D.A. last year and returned to the association as its chief executive. His current replacement at the F.D.A.’s supplement division also comes from the NPA trade group.

Many agree. “There are just too many other people who could have that job who don’t have these conflicts,” said Arthur L. Caplan, the head of the division of medical ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.

In February 2013, Dr. Kenneth R. Spaeth, the division chief of occupational and environmental medicine at North Shore University Hospital in New York, reported to the F.D.A. that 20 of his patients developed muscle aches, fatigue and liver damage after using a brand of B vitamins. Some female patients had stopped having their periods and started growing facial hair. He said he told the F.D.A. he suspected the vitamins were contaminated with anabolic steroids.

Dr. Spaeth said he got no response for weeks and called the agency numerous times. He also sent multiple emails to Dr. Fabricant and other F.D.A. officials, pleading with them to get the vitamins off the market.

In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the F.D.A. said it was “unable to locate” any records of Dr. Spaeth’s communications. However, Dr. Spaeth provided The New York Times with the emails.

The Canadian government issued a public health alert about BMPEA to consumers: “Amphetamine stimulants can increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature; lead to serious cardiovascular complications (including stroke) at high doses; suppress sleep and appetite, and be addictive.” Their findings were published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis.

Under a 1994 law, supplements are exempt from the same trials and testing applied to prescription drugs and medical devices. They do not have to undergo federal reviews of their safety or effectiveness before they are sold to the public, and as a result, tainted supplements are usually pulled from the market only after consumers are harmed.

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