FDA Readies Another Give Away on Big Pharma Cancer “Cures”-Herpes Based

This is insane. Granted, a lot of people get cold sores from time to time, but to base a medication for cancer on the herpes virus is nuts. Not to mention that it doesn’t reduce mortality, just the size of tumors….Geez:

FDA approving drug that uses the cold sore-causing herpes virus as its base

In a move to eradicate cancer the FDA is about approve a drug made from, well, Herpes! That’s right a new drug called Amgen is coming to market soon. Unlike chemotherapy treatments that require oral dosages, doctors inject the Imlygic drug directly into the tumor, destroying the cells in a targeted attack. Clinical trials showed that Imlygic was able to shrink a tumor significantly more than control patients who only received the GM-CSF protein therapy. Imlygic shows promise, but it may not be a cure-all — even though it reduced the size of the tumor in trials, patient mortality was not reduced with the drug.

  “T-Vec represents an important milestone in using viruses as the vehicle to stimulate immune response and fight cancer,”

Amgen will begin offering its drug to patients in the coming weeks with an average cost of $65,000. Seems like corporate greed once again is taking control of the cures to our most aggressive diseases. No wonder companies dont seem to try to erratically reduce cancer, rather come up with new ways to promote not so curing drugs to take for a steep price.

Google…Mental Health Monitor

Google wants to monitor your mental health. You should welcome it into your mind


Cybercrime image of hooded person and laptop

Yes, you should tell the computer what you’re thinking Photo: Shutterstock

Next week, Dr Tom Insel leaves his post as head of the US National Institute of Mental Health, a job that made him America’s top mental health doctor. Dr Insel is a neuroscientist and a psychiatrist and a leading authority on both the medicine and public policies needed to deal with problems of the mind. He’s 64 but he’s not retiring. He’s going to work for Google.

More precisely, he’s going to work for Google Life Sciences, one of the more exotic provinces of the online empire. He’s going to investigate how technology can help diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Google doesn’t just want to read your mind, it wants to fix it too.

It’s not alone. Apple, IBM and Intel are among technology companies exploring the same field. IBM this year carried out research with Columbia University that suggested computer analysis of speech patterns can more accurately predict the onset of psychosis than conventional tests involving blood samples or brain scans. Other researchers theorise that a person’s internet search history or even shopping habits (so handily recorded by your innocuous loyalty card) can identify the first signs of mental illness. Computers can now tell when something is about to go terribly wrong in someone’s mind.

“We now live in a world where your phone might observe you to help assess your mental health.”

That development is striking enough in itself, but the way in which researchers like Dr Insel want to use this new technological power raises even more questions.

Wearable technology has been a hot topic in medical innovation for several years now. A growing number of people choose to track their own physical condition using FitBits, Jawbones and other activity trackers, tiny wearable devices that monitor your movements, pulse rate, sleep patterns and more. Once the preserve of obsessive fitness fanatics, “self-monitoring” has the scope to transform healthcare. The ever-increasing number of people with chronic conditions can track and electronically report their symptoms, reducing the number of routine (and expensive) consultations they need with medical staff and ensuring a quicker response to changes that do require direct professional attention.

Self-monitoring will also surely play a bigger role in preventive public health. Wearing a pedometer that counts the number of steps you take in a day has been shown to spur people to walk more. What would happen to your consumption of alcohol and sugar if a device strapped to your wrist displayed a continuous count of your calorie and unit intake for the week?

Dr Insel is part of a school of thought that suggests this technology is even better suited to mental health. The symptoms of depression, for instance, are inconstant, ebbing and rising without obvious pattern. A short consultation with a doctor once every few weeks is thus a poor means of diagnosis. But wearable technology allows continuous monitoring. A small portable device might monitor your tone of voice, speech patterns and physical movements, picking up the early signs of trouble. A device such as a mobile telephone.

Yes, we now live in a world where your phone might observe you to help assess your mental health. If you don’t find that prospect disturbing, you’re either fantastically trusting of companies and governments or you haven’t thought about it enough.

But that feeling of unease should not determine our response to technology in mental health. In fact, we should embrace and encourage the tech giants as they seek to chart the mind and its frailties, albeit on the condition that we can overcome the enormous challenge of devising rules and regulations protecting privacy and consent.

Because, simply, existing healthcare systems are failing and will continue to fail on mental health. Even if the current model of funding the NHS was sustainable, the stigma that prevents us discussing mental health problems would ensure their prevention and treatment got a disproportionately small slice of the pie.

We pour ever more billions into dealing with the worst problems of physical health, and with considerable success. Death rates from cancer and heart disease have fallen markedly over the last 40 years. Over the same period, suicide rates have gone up.

Even as the NHS budget grows, NHS trusts’ spending on mental health is falling. If someone with cancer went untreated, we’d say it was a scandal. Some estimates suggest one in five people who need “talking therapies” don’t get them. In a rare bit of enlightened thinking, some NHS trusts are supporting Big White Wall, an online service where people can anonymously report stress, anxiety and depression, take simple clinical tests and talk to therapists.

Technology will never be a panacea for mental illnesses, or our social failure to face up to them. But anything that makes them cheaper and easier and more mundane to deal with should be encouraged.

If you think the idea of Google assessing your state of mind and your phone monitoring you for depression is worrying, you’re right. But what’s more worrying is that allowing these things is the least bad option on mental health.

Depleted Nutrition Causing Problems

As many of you know, the nutrient density in most of our food has decreased significantly due to chemical and industrial farming practices. Here is a very lengthy and very interesting article on the issue:

Fruits and Vegetables Reach an Alarming State of Depletion

What if our food has been getting less and less nutritious? What if modern intensive farming methods — many of which solved malnutrition problems when they were first introduced — have affected the mineral and vitamin content of what we eat? Could having a constant supply of varied produce and introducing genetically modified foods be compromising nature’s goodness?


gmo-labeling-thumbWhether it be vegan, low carb, paleo, or any other diet, the quest for the healthiest method of eating shows no sign of abating, yet all have considerable controversy. We know more than ever about what food does to the body and the importance of antioxidants, healthy fats and a low glycaemic index.

Things have changed so much since the wisdom of our ancestors was lost or ignored. Wild dandelions, once a springtime treat for Native Americans, have seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, which we consider a “superfood.” A purple potato native to Peru has 28 times more cancer-fighting anthocyanins than common russet potatoes. One species of apple has a staggering 100 times more phytonutrients than the Golden Delicious displayed in our supermarkets.

Were the people who foraged for these wild foods healthier than we are today? They did not live nearly as long as we do, but growing evidence suggests that they were much less likely to die from degenerative diseases, even the minority who lived 70 years and more. The primary cause of death for most adults, according to anthropologists, was injury and infections.

Some of the most eye-catching work in this area has come from Donald Davis, a now-retired biochemist at the University of Texas. In 2011, he compared the nutrients in US crops from 1950 and 2009, and found notable declines in five nutrients in various fruits, including tomatoes, eggplants and squash. For example, there was a 43 per cent drop in iron and a 12 per cent decline in calcium. This was in line with his 1999 study — mainly of vegetables — which found a 15 per cent drop in vitamin C and a 38 per cent fall in vitamin B2.

Fruit and vegetables grown have shown similar depletions. A 1997 comparison of data from the 1930s and 1980s found that calcium in fresh vegetables appeared to drop by 19 per cent, and iron by 22 per cent. A reanalysis of the data in 2005 concluded that 1980s vegetables had less copper, magnesium and sodium, and fruit less copper, iron and potassium.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food have also alarmed researchers on distinct differences between organic and GMO produce. Higher antioxidant levels, lower pesticide loads, better farming practices all lead to a more nutritious end product when choosing organic over GMO foods. 

For example, tomatoes grown by organic methods contain more phenolic compounds than those grown using commercial standards. That study — published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry — analysed the phenolic profiles of Daniela tomatoes grown either using ‘conventional’ or organic methods, finding that those grown under organic conditions contained significantly higher levels of phenolic compounds than those grown conventionally.

Part of the problem is the broad-spectrum systemic herbicide glyphosatewhich deprives all living things of vital nutrients and increases cellular toxicity. Glyphosate-induced vitamin deficiency may be a factor in many of the problems relating to nutrient deficiency.

Other findings published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organically produced apples have a 15 percent higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.

Davis and others blame agricultural practices that emphasise quantity over quality. High-yielding crops produce more food, more rapidly, but they can’t make or absorb nutrients at the same pace, so the nutrition is diluted. “It’s like taking a glass of orange juice and adding an equal amount of water to it. If you do that, the concentration of nutrients that was in the original juice is dropped by half,” says Davis.

But the idea that modern agriculture produces crops that are less nourishing remains controversial, and “then and now” nutritional comparisons have been much criticised. The differences found may be down to older, less accurate methods of assessing nutrition, and nutrient levels can vary widely according to the variety of plant, the year of harvest and the time of harvest.

Contrary to frequent claims that there is no evidence of dangers to health from GM foods and crops, peer-reviewed studies have found harmful effects on the health of laboratory and livestock animals fed GMOs. Effects include toxic and allergenic effects and altered nutritional value.

Other studies have sought to get round this by comparing old and new varieties of a crop grown side by side. In 2011, researchers at the US Department of Agriculture measured the concentrations of 11 minerals in 14 commercial varieties, or cultivars, of broccoli launched between 1950 and 2004.

They found no clear relationship between mineral levels and the year that a particular cultivar was released, but there was evidence of a dilution effect :bigger broccoli heads favoured today had lower levels of some minerals relative to a 1950 variety called Waltham 29. But, as the study also noted, Waltham 29 is less tough than modern cultivars and so would be unlikely to succeed if grown in the same way.

And there lies the rub. Even if the arrival of intensive agriculture has meant that our vegetables contain slightly less nutrients than those our grandparents ate, it has also led to a huge increase in food supply, which has undoubtedly had a positive effect on our diet and health.

“Some evidence suggests that some nutrients have fallen, particularly trace elements such as copper in vegetables,” says Paul Finglas, who compiles nutritional data on UK food at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich. “Foods are now bred for yield, and not necessarily nutritional composition. But I don’t think that is a problem, because we eat a wider range of foods today than we did 10 years ago, let alone 40 years ago”.

Other crops are also getting subtly less nutritious. The introduction of semi-dwarf, higher-yielding varieties of wheat in the green revolution of the 1960s means that modern crops contain lower levels of iron and zinc than old-fashioned varieties.

Each fruit and vegetable in our stores has a unique history of nutrient loss, and there are two common themes. Throughout the ages, our farming ancestors have chosen the least bitter plants to grow in their gardens. It is now known that many of the most beneficial phytonutrients have a bitter, sour or astringent taste. Second, early farmers favored plants that were relatively low in fiber and high in sugar, starch and oil. These energy-dense plants were pleasurable to eat and provided the calories needed to fuel a strenuous lifestyle. The more palatable our fruits and vegetables became, however, the less advantageous they were for our health.

And as farmers strain to feed ever more mouths in the face of environmental change, the problem may become worse. Last year, researchers at Harvard University warned that crops grown in the future will have significantly less zinc and iron, due to rising levels of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use. The team grew 41 different types of grains and legumes, including wheat, rice, maize, soybeans and field peas, under CO2 levels crops are likely to experience 40 to 60 years from now. They found that under these conditions, wheat had 9 per cent less zinc, 5 per cent less iron and 6 per cent less protein than a crop grown at today’s CO2 levels. Zinc and iron — but not protein — were also lower in legumes grown under elevated CO2.

A 2003 study evaluated the nutritional content of broccoli kept in conditions that simulated commercial transport and distribution: film-wrapped and stored for seven days at 1 °C, followed by three days at 15 °C to replicate a retail environment. By the end, the broccoli had lost between 71 and 80 per cent of its glucosinolates — sulphur-containing compounds shown to have cancer-fighting properties — and around 60 per cent of its flavonoid antioxidants.

Many kinds of mass-produced fruit and veg — most famously tomatoes — are picked unripe so that they bruise less easily during transit. They are then sprayed with ethylene to ripen them. Some studies suggest thattomatoes harvested early have lower antioxidant activity and less flavour. “If a fruit is left on a plant until the end of its life cycle, it’s able to recycle all the energy from the plant,” says Wagstaff. “If you pick it early you truncate that process and get less sugars into the fruit, which are needed to bind the nutrients.”

Supermarket tomatoes are often labelled as “vine-ripened”, but that doesn’t always mean what you hope, she says. “It may be ripened on the vine but the vine may not have been attached to the plant.” However, Wagstaff stresses that the downsides of early picking are small and an unavoidable consequence of consumer demand. “If you pick a tomato that you have grown at home, it tastes fabulous because it’s absolutely ready to eat,” she says. “But there’s no way you could do that at a commercial level because of the bruising that would occur if ripe fruits were transported through a typical supply chain. There has to be a compromise somewhere.”

Another complication is that each method of shipping and storing foods has different effects on the compounds they contain. Vitamin C, for example, breaks down in the dark, whereas glucosinolates — found in vegetables like broccoli and cabbage — deplete in the light. “That’s one of the problems with horticulture,” says Wagstaff. “By its very nature you have an enormous diversity of genera and species. In an ideal world, each one would have a tailored supply chain.”

Peas can lose half of their vitamin C in the first 48 hours after harvesting, but if frozen within 2 hours of picking they retain it. “Frozen peas are much more nutritious than peas you buy ready to shell,” says Catherine Collins, principal dietician at St George’s Hospital in London. What’s more, frozen foods often have fewer additives. “Freezing is a preservative,” she says.

“Any loss of nutrients must be weighed against the fact that these products may encourage people to eat better overall”

Similarly, processing has become a maligned word in the context of food, but there are some cases where it enhances a food’s health benefits. In fact, you arguably get more benefits from processed tomatoes, such as in purees, sauces or ready chopped in cans, than fresh.

Although salad leaves that have been picked and stored for several days before being eaten are a bit less nutritious than a freshly harvested lettuce, chilling and using packaging to reduce oxygen exposure may slow the nutrient loss. And any loss of nutrients must be weighed against the fact that these products may encourage people to eat better overall.

“There is a chance that ready prepared vegetables may have a lower content of some vitamins,” says Judy Buttriss, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation in London. “But if their availability means that such vegetables are consumed in greater quantities, then the net effect is beneficial.”

The bottom line is that although aspects of today’s food production, processing and storage might make what we eat a bit less nutritious, they are also making foods more available — and this is far more important. The majority of us consume far less fruit and vegetables than we ought to. We eat too much fat, sugar and salt and not enough oily fish.

“The most important thing you can do is eat more fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, and cut down on highly refined, human-made foods, vegetable oils and added sugars,” says Davis. “If you’re worrying about nutrient losses from cooking or whether your food is straight from the farm — those differences are minor compared to the differences you’d get from eating unprocessed foods.”

What’s really on your plate

How have modern farming methods affected the nutrients in common foods?


Beef from cattle reared outdoors on grass is less fatty and contains more omega-3 fatty acids than cattle reared indoors and fed mainly grain. However, consumers preferred the taste of latter, according to a 2014 study.


Today’s pasta might be less nutritious thanks to modern, fast-growing wheat varieties introduced in the 1960s. Levels of zinc, iron and magnesium remained constant in wheat grain from 1865 to the mid-1960s,then decreased significantly as yields shot up.


Carrots from the 1940s contained less than half the vitamin A levels of carrots grown in the US 50 years later. The reason? A preference for more orangey carrots. The colour comes mainly from the pigment beta-carotene, which the body can use to make vitamin A.


Milk from cows reared the old-fashioned way — mainly feeding on grass outdoors — has a better nutritional profile of proteins, fatty acids and antioxidants than milk from cows reared indoors and fed intensively.


Humans have been making bread for 10,000 years, but the way we do it has changed dramatically in the last half-century. In 1961, a new method of mass-producing bread was devised at the Chorleywood laboratories, just north of London. It used extra yeasts, additives called processing aids and machinery to slash fermentation times, so a loaf could be made in just a few hours. Around 80 percent of bread consumed is now made this way.

But there are concerns that such methods have altered the digestibility of bread, and this may explain why many people with irritable bowel syndrome and gluten sensitivity name bread as a trigger. For a significant subset of those with IBS, the condition is thought to be linked to gut bacteria reacting to fermentable foods, causing gas and bloating.

Last year, Jeremy Sanderson at King’s College London and colleagues compared the effects of fast and slow-fermented breads on gut microbiota from donors with IBS and those free from it. They found that sourdough bread — which is left to rise for several hours using its natural yeasts — produced “significantly lower cumulative gas” in the IBS donors’ microbiota than fast-fermented bread. The theory is that if bread is left to ferment for longer, its carbohydrates will reach the gut in a predigested state and gut bacteria won’t react so much. “If you under-ferment bread and add a lot of yeast, it’s hardly surprising this will set up problems for people who have a problem with fermentation in their gut,” says Sanderson.

Slow-fermented breads may benefit other groups too: sourdough produces a lower glucose response in the body than other breads. What’s not yet clear is whether eating slow-fermented breads would lead to a general improvement in the gut flora of healthy people. “That’s difficult, but it’s a reasonable hypothesis,” says Sanderson. “After all, bread-making probably evolved to match what the gut could cope with.”

If modern, high-intensity farming is causing food to lose some of its goodness, could organic food offer an alternative? For many consumers the answer is yes.


Article Source: Prevent Disease

– See more at: http://www.investigatorsreport.com/fruits-and-vegetables-reaching-an-alarming-state-of-nutrient-depletion.html#sthash.S07Hwu5K.dpuf

Local Vendors Flock to Go Green Festival

Goat milk soap, hemp jewelry, smoked meats, organic vegetables, knit wool scarves and hats,  books of local history and smoothies  are among the many products exhibitors will have at the Go Green Self-Reliance Festival to be held in Thayer City Park, Thayer, Missouri October 17 and 18 according to event organizer Mike Slack.

“We are happy to have Green Acres Market and Mill Creek Nursery, both of Pocahontas with us for the first time serving smoothie samples and selling plants, as an example of the many fine local businesses and individuals participating. We’ve had folks sign up to sell lotions and soaps made of goat milk and other natural ingredients, hand-made wood products, works of art, tactical bugout bags, removable tattoos, solar powered flashlights, T-shirts, flags, knives, heirloom seeds and many other products that all benefit the local economy” Slack said.

“We are also happy to have several local authors and writers’ groups participating this year. The Oregon County Historical Society will have several books of local history available. The Oregon County Writers’ Group and the Stories Writers Group of Howell County will both be making writers and readers aware of their members. Science fiction author Ezra Manes, author of the Joseph series Karl William Reid, historical romance author Donna Brown and contemporary romance author Nichole Tillman will all have books for sale and will autograph their work” Slack said.
“Three local families will have raw local honey for sale. The Alton VFW Ladies Auxiliary will have Rada cutlery and will be raffling a quilt. The Friends of the National Rifle Association are raffling several guns. Local animal rescue organizations will have dogs in need of homes. Local musicians will entertain the crowd, kids will have games. Herbal medicines, chair massage, great food, kettle corn. Basically there is something here for everyone in the family, along with speakers every hour on diverse subjects all related to homesteading and improving self-reliance. Everyone is welcome,” Slack said.
The Go Green Self  Reliance Festival is  dedicated to promoting and supporting the local economy, sustainable living, agriculture, alternative renewable energy, preparedness,  and positive community activities, held in Thayer City Park by the rodeo arena the festival averages 16 speakers, 150 vendors and 3,000 or more in attendance. Attendance is free, vendors are free and vendor spaces  are still available. For information call 417-264-2435.

Go Green Festival – Many Attractions!

Wood Powered Pick Up Truck, Solar Energy, Steam Engines and HAM Radio Highlight Go Green Festival in Thayer Oct 17, 18
More speakers and exhibitors are signing up for the Go Green Self-Reliance Festival to be held in Thayer City Park, Thayer, Missouri October 17 and 18 according to event organizer Mike Slack.
“One of our most popular exhibits has always been a wood gas powered pickup truck, powered entirely by firewood” Slack said. “This year a truck built and owned by Greg Henze of Doniphan will be featured. Greg first became interested in wood gas power when he saw a truck at the Go Green Festival a few years ago built by Wayne Keith, and featured in Mother Earth News magazine.” The truck will be available for viewing on Saturday.
Another source of power using wood and featured at the festival will be steam engine technology. Mike Brown of Springfield manufactures steam engines used to power boats, vehicles and to generate electricity for the home and in addition to displaying a steam engine Brown will be a featured speaker, Slack said. “Mike also makes Fish Carburetors, carburetor systems that mount on any car or truck that uses a carburetor and increases the gas mileage multifold. Mike has been featured on national TV and radio shows including CoasttoCoastAM.”
“We are also happy to have the Solar House Design Team from the Missouri Science and Technology university in  Rolla, Missouri. The team of students compete in the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, an event that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate 100% solar-powered housing that is marketable, cost-effective, and energy-efficient.”
“Also realizing that communication is important, especially during times of disaster, John Price, Public Information Officer for the West Plains HAM Radio Club will speak on amateur radio. John is a longtime Ham, always prepared and has helped many amateur radio operators pass their exam and become licensed HAM radio operators” Slack said.
Kids are not being left out. Children’s Activities Director Patricia Uveges has planned three legged race, bobbing for apples (but a sanitary kind where we hang them from strings and the kids keep the apples) egg races, storytelling (silly not so scary stories) and Native American face painting. Also for practical training Patricia will be teaching kids how to splint a bone using  dolls with Popsicle sticks. She recommends that kids wear play clothes. Also at 2 pm both days the popular money in a hay bale event occurs, where the kids tear apart the hay and keep the coins they find inside.
The Go Green Self  Reliance Festival is  dedicated to promoting and supporting the local economy, sustainable living, agriculture, alternative renewable energy, preparedness,  and positive community activities, held in Thayer City Park by the rodeo arena the festival averages 16 speakers, 150 vendors and 3,000 or more in attendance. Attendance is free, vendors are free and vendor spaces  are still available. For information call 417-264-2435.

Monsanto…Everyone That Studies Round Up Except Monsanto is Guilty of Junk Science

If you haven’t guessed, I hate Monsanto. There. I feel better now that it’s out in the open. They have long known the ill effects of their products on everything living, but they just don’t care. If you point out the scientific papers that show negatives associated with their products, they quickly dismiss them as “junk science”. However, their “science” that they use to continue the experimentation on us is “pure”. But they won’t do long term studies on exposure, and they won’t release their “proof” in detail.

Science isn’t the problem. It’s that false, incomplete, “recommended by owner” science is used to justify the continued proliferation of not just chemicals, but novel organisms in our food.

They lie. They cover up. They use money to buy their desired outcomes. They pay people to surf the internet and confuse legitimate conversations about genetically modified foods. They sue farmers for their own pollution of the environment. They are providing the pharmaceutical companies, of which they are part, with a steady supply of sick people.

Here’s an excellent article on the issue of Monsanto’s continual maligning of any science but their own and other improprieties in relation to Monsanto. Link to original is in the title:

The Case of Glyphosate: Product Promoters Masquerading as Regulators?


On 20 March, the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans. This is just one step below the risk designation of ‘known carcinogen’. The European Unioin is currently in the process of assessing the IARC’s research and will re-evaluate glyphosate.

Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute who chaired the 17-member working group of the IARC that classified glyphosate as “probably” cancer-causing, says that the classification is appropriate based on current science. Blair also states that there have been hundreds of studies on glyphosate with concerns about the chemical growing over time and added that in its review the IARC group gave particular consideration to two major studies out of Sweden, one out of Canada and at least three in the US.

He stressed that the group did not classify glyphosate as definitely causing cancer:

“We looked at, ‘Is there evidence that glyphosate causes cancer?’ and the answer is ‘probably.’ That is different than yes… It is different than smoking and lung cancer. We don’t say smoking probably causes cancer. We say it does cause cancer. At one point we weren’t sure, but now we are.”

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which was primarily responsible $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenues in 2014.  The herbicide is also used to support Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops, which comprise the vast bulk of the balance of its revenue stream. Unsurprisingly, Monsanto has wasted no time in trying to rubbish the WHO findings. The work of cancer specialists from 11 countries was speedily dismissed by Monsanto. In a press release, the company argued the findings are based on ‘junk’ science and cherry picking and are agenda driven.

In 2011, Earth Open Source said that official approval of glyphosate had been rash, problematic and deeply flawed. Its comprehensive review of existing data suggested that industry regulators in Europe had known for years that glyphosate causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals. The review raised questions about the role of the powerful agro-industry in rigging data pertaining to product safety and its undue influence on regulatory bodies.

Despite its widespread use, there has been little monitoring of glyphosate in food, water or the wider environment. In 2013, Friends of the Earth (FoE) and GM Freeze commissioned a study based on urine samples from volunteers in 18 countries across Europe. It found that on average 44 percent of samples contained glyphosate. The proportion of positive samples varied between countries, with Malta, Germany, the UK and Poland having the most positive tests, and lower levels detected in Macedonia and Switzerland. All the volunteers who provided samples lived in cities, and none had handled or used glyphosate products in the run-up to the tests. The study was the first time monitoring has been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weed killer in human bodies.  

According to a peer-reviewed report in the scientific journal Entropy, residues of glyphosate have also been found in food. These residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report’s authors, Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and science consultant Anthony Samsel. The study says that negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.

In Mississippi, 75 percent of air and rain samples contained levels of glyphosate that could have serious physiological consequences for humans. Even if you are careful about what you eat, there is no escaping this poison. Sayer Ji from GreenMedInfo:

“The reality is that the environment is becoming so saturated with the ‘fall out’ from the ever-expanding GM agricultural/agrichemical farming grid that even if you somehow find a way to avoid eating contaminated food, you will be forced to have to deal with its adverse health effects, as long as you need air to breath and water to drink.”

In 2010, the provincial government of Chaco province in Argentina issued a report on health statistics from the town La Leonesa. The report showed that from 2000 to 2009, following the expansion of genetically-modified soy and rice crops in the region (and the use of glyphosate), the childhood cancer rate tripled in La Leonesa and the rate of birth defects increased nearly fourfold over the entire province.

As in Chaco, the introduction of Roundup Ready crops in the US has resulted in an increase of glyphosate use. Using official US government data, Dr Charles Benbrook, research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, states that since 1996 the glyphosate rate of application per crop year has tripled on cotton farms, doubled in the case of soybeans and risen 39 percent on corn. The average annual increase in the pounds of glyphosate applied to cotton, soybeans, and corn has been 18.2 percent, 9.8 percent, and 4.3 percent, respectively, since herbicide tolerant crops were introduced.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, herbicide-tolerant biotech plants were grown on virtually all (94%) soybean fields in the US during 2013 and on 89% of all cornfields. Food & Water Watch found the volume of glyphosate applied to those crops increased almost 1,000% between 1996 and 2012, from 15 million pounds to 159 million pounds. The increase in usage has been accelerating in recent years.

Glyphosate was approved for EU-wide use in 2002. Yet there is a mounting body of evidence that links glyphosate with a range of serious health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, birth defects, autism, infertility and cancers. If regulatory bodies had done their job properly, we would not now be in this situation.

FoE argues that the European regulatory agencies did not carry out their own safety testing, relying instead on data provided by the manufacturers. Of course, it has for some time been noted that regulatory agencies in Europe, the US and Canada have shown a dereliction of duty by prioritising the needs of big food and agro-industry concerns and their products over any notion of public safety or the public interest. We know that outright corruption and serious conflicts of interest have been major factors in this respect [see this, this, this and this].

Something to hide

Regulators have much to answer for, but they are silent. Claire Robinson from GM Watch notes that a group of Chinese food safety volunteers submitted a request to China’s Ministry of Agriculture to disclose the study that justified issuing the safety certificate for the import into China of Monsanto’s Roundup. Writing on the GM Watch website, she says:

“The Ministry replied that Roundup was registered in China in 1988 based on a toxicology test report issued by a testing company called Younger Laboratories in St Louis, Missouri. The test was an acute exposure toxicity test (such tests last a maximum of a few days), with Roundup being given to rats by mouth and applied to the skin of rabbits. It claimed to find no effect on the eyes or skin, and no allergy. The volunteers asked the Ministry to release the study, and the Ministry in turn asked Monsanto. Monsanto replied that the study constituted its own commercial secret, adding that the company had never disclosed the study anywhere in the world and did not agree to disclose it now. The volunteers are appealing against the decision.”

In Europe, Tony Tweedale, a Brussels-based advisor to NGOs on toxicity and risk assessment issues, asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to disclose the two key chronic toxicity studies on glyphosate that the German regulatory agencies relied upon to set the Acceptable Daily Intake of the chemical.

Robinson notes that both the German government regulatory agencies (their decisions form the basis for the widespread use of glyphosate) and EFSA have refused Tweedale’s requests to release the studies, on the grounds that they are commercially confidential information. Pesticide Action Network Europe previously asked the German regulatory agencies to release the full range of long-term toxicity studies on glyphosate. They refused, again for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Such official stonewalling raises the question of what could be in these industry studies that that public is not allowed to see. The assumption is that the industry – and regulators – have something to hide.

The Earth Open Source review found that the biotech industry’s own studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s showed that glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals. While the industry studies themselves are held by the German government and remain secret, the Earth Open Source authors examined Germany’s summary report on the studies, which is in the public domain. This report was submitted to the EU Commission and led to glyphosate’s European approval in 2002.

The Earth Open Source authors found that the German regulator consistently dismissed evidence of birth defects using unscientific reasoning.

Claire Robinson says:

“… if the German government or EFSA were to release the industry studies, independent academic scientists could reanalyze the data (and methodology) and form their own conclusions about the safety of glyphosate. Given the past failures of risk assessment, these could well be at odds with the conclusions of the German regulator.”

In his recent book, ‘Poison Spring’, former US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worker Evaggelos Vallianatos quotes the EPA scientist Adrian Gross as saying that his colleagues, EPA toxicologists, “go straight to the company’s summary and lift it word for word and give it as their own evaluation of those studies.”

In a similar vein to the claims by Valliantos, former Monsanto boss in India during the eighties has said that the company faked data and so-called regulators just accepted such data at face value.

And here lies the crux of the matter: proper, independent analyses of risks being sidelined and ‘regulation’ amounting to little more than blindly accepting dubious industry claims or studies that merely say its products are safe. And yet, this is an industry that tried to rubbish the now republished the Seralini team’s study into GMOs and glyphosate (with unscientific polemics masquerading as scientific critique). While the Seralini team’s two-year study has now undergone three rounds of peer-review, the industry keeps its own inadequate three-day or three-month studies secret by hiding behind the all too convenient notion of ‘commercial confidentiality’ and restricts, controls and censors independent research concerning its products; if that fails, it sets out to smear, intimidate, bully and discredit researchers whose findings are not to their liking [see this and this].

If the Serlani-led study and the rest of the evidence alluded to in this article show one thing, it is that regulators ought to do what they are supposed to and go back and properly reassess the products which they have allowed agribusiness to contaminate and poison us with. However, based on reactions to the Seralini-led study, the EFSA may had already made up its mind. William Engdahl states:

“A spokesman for the EFSA announced just a few weeks after the publication of Seralini’s bombshell study and without proof, “EFSA’s analysis has shown that deficiencies in the Séralini et al. paper mean it is of insufficient scientific quality for risk assessment. We believe the completion of this evaluation process has brought clarity to the issue…. Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Séralini et al mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.” No mention of what the “serious defects” nor of why that would not call for repeating the two-year tests with other independent scientific groups around the EU to determine whether or not Seralini’s results were accurate… “Case closed, ladies and gentlemen and don’t ask us for more on this…” The mainstream media in Germany and across the EU dutifully swallowed that nonsense as the end of the discussion. Monsanto maize and Monsanto Roundup herbicide were ‘safe’.”

If Monsanto is going to accuse others of ‘junk’ science and ‘bias’, it has a serious credibility issue given that is has been a long-time leading exponent of  junk science and biased agendas. Moreover, Sustainable Pulse has discovered documents from 1991 that show how the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was fully aware of glyphosate’s carcinogenic potential. In 1985, the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel. This committee went on to classify glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen with “suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential.”

This Class C classification was changed by the EPA six years later to a Class E category which suggests “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans.” Sustainable Pulse concludes that the US government is to blame for allowing glyphosate onto the commercial market because it wanted to push it as part of as global campaign to support the US biotech industry in its attempt to dominate global agriculture. In other words, the health of the public was not put before the need to protect company profits and foreign policy aims.

Our health is being sacrificed for the commercial interests of a few powerful corporations. At the very least, the public would like regulators to regulate, not product promote.

Colin Todhunter is an extensively published independent writer and former social policy researcher based in the UK and India.

GMO Meeting in Ava, Missouri September 3rd

I’ll be speaking at a meeting in Ava next week about GMO’s and many of the issues and concerns surrounding these man made life forms. If you’re in the area, it would be great to see you there! Here’s the advertisement that has gone out to promote the event:

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