March 30, 2012
The New York Times
By MARK BITTMAN
“The government shouldn’t be telling what we can and cannot eat. But at the same time, they shouldn’t be subsidizing junk food. They should help make healthy food cheaper and Hamburger Helper more expensive. Currently, it’s the exact opposite, and that is just wrong.” –KTRN
The First Amendment to the Constitution, which tops our Bill of Rights, guarantees — theoretically, at least — things we all care about. So much is here: freedom of religion, of the press, of speech, the right to assemble and more. Yet it’s stealthily and incredibly being invoked to safeguard the nearly unimpeded “right” of a handful of powerful corporations to market junk food to children.
It’s been reported that kids see an average of 5,500 food ads on television every year (sounds low, when you think about it), nearly all peddling junk. (They may also see Apple commercials, but not of the fruit kind.) Worse are the online “advergames” that distract kids with entertainment while immersing them in a product-driven environment. (For example: create your own Froot Loops adventure!)
And beyond worse: collecting private data, presumably in order to target children with personalized junk food promotions, as in this Capri Sun advergame, which asks for permission to use your webcam to film you — without first verifying your age.
Remember: 17 percent of kids in the United States are obese (many more are nearly so), and though there is an argument that during the boom-and-bust periods of capitalism’s development our genetic code has encouraged us to consume as many calories as possible, nowhere in our DNA is it written that we need to eat Big Macs, drink soda or eat Twizzlers (much as I personally like the last of these). These cravings become habits as they are taught, encouraged and reinforced by the marketing arm of Big Food, and the federal government appears powerless to change this. Here’s where the First Amendment comes in.
I’ve written before about the government’s pathetic attempt to nudge industry toward at least improving the nutritional profile of junk food advertising targeted at kids in the form of voluntary guidelines proposed by an interagency working group of the Federal Trade Commission, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture.
March 13, 2012
By Mike Barrett
“Thanks, FDA – for helping big pharma ruin more people’s lives. You are doing a great a job.” –KTRN
The same organization which deems walnuts to be illegal drugs is in the process of deciding whether or not to make some prescription medications more readily available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration may potentially move medicines for chronic conditions from prescription to non-prescription, or over the counter, while drugs for infection will receive a speedier approval process. This includes diabetes-linked statin drugs.
Despite prescription drugs contributing to at least 3 million deaths in the last 27 years while vitamins have killed none, the FDA is eager to get drugs in patients’ hands even faster. The House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will assist the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and the Agency’s director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research by helping to accelerate approval processes. Drugs for high blood pressure, cholesterol, migraines, and asthma may all be re-classified by the FDA so that individuals can attain them without a prescription. Interestingly, cholesterol drugs, known as statins, have been linked to over 300 different adverse affects while asthma drugs have been shown to lead to more deaths than asthma itself.
The FDA is also very interested in allowing antibiotic makers to conduct tests for the drugs using smaller groups of patients. What’s more, lawmakers are proposing that the approval process for antibiotics also be hastened, while providing incentives to drug makers to develop new antibiotics – seemingly or allegedly to bypass bacterial resistance from the current antibiotic market. Unfortunately, even new antibiotics will only continue to perpetuate diseases scientists fear will be impossible to treat while contributing to numerous health conditions like mental illness by destroying gut health.
February 27, 2012
By Mark Hyman. M.D.
This week, in an act of desperation to turn back the tide of the obesity epidemic that now affects almost seven out of every 10 Americans and more than 80 percent of some populations (African-American women), the advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted 20 to 2 to recommend approval of Qnexa, a “new” obesity drug that is simply the combination of two older medications, phentermine (the “phen” of phen-fen”) and topiramate (Topamax).
It is a misguided effort at best, and a dangerous one at worst. Mounting evidence proves that the solution to lifestyle and diet-driven obesity-related illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer won’t be found at the bottom of a prescription bottle.
By 2020, more than 50 percent of the U.S. adult population will have Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, with annual costs approaching $500 billion. By 2030, total annual economic costs of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. are predicted to exceed $1 trillion. By 2030, globally we will spend $47 trillion, yes trillion, to address the effects of chronic lifestyle-driven disease.
Prescription medication for lifestyle disease has failed to bend the obesity and disease curve. Statins have been recently found to increase the risk of diabetes in women by 48 percent. And large data reviews by independent international scientists from the Cochrane Collaborative found that statins only work to prevent second heart attacks, not first heart attacks, which means they are not helpful and most likely harmful for 75 percent of those who take them.
Avandia, the No. 1 blockbuster drug for Type 2 diabetes, has caused nearly 200,000 deaths from heart attacks since it was introduced in 1999. The drug was designed to prevent complications of diabetes, yet heart attacks are the very disease that kills most Type 2 diabetics. In 2011, the FDA issued stricter prescribing guidelines for Avandia, but the drug is still on the market.
The large ACCORD trial found in more than 10,000 diabetics that intensive blood-sugar lowering with medication and insulin actually led to more heart attacks and deaths.
Something is deeply wrong with our medical approach.
The problem of chronic disease, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, is not a medication deficiency, but a problem with what we put at the end of our fork.
The emperor truly has no clothes. Why would good men and women of science vote to approve a medication for a condition that is a social disease and requires a social cure? The social, environmental, economic, and political conditions of America and increasingly the global community have created an obesogenic environment.
Clearly we need to do something. But it is not better medication or surgery or more angioplasties and stents, which have no proven benefit in more than 90 percent of those who receive them. The data show they work for acute coronary events, but not stable angina or blockages.
We continue to pay for expensive treatments for chronic disease, despite the fact that they don’t work, while insurance does not pay for nutrition counseling unless the patient has kidney failure or diabetes.
Chronic disease is a food-borne illness. We ate our way into this mess and we must eat our way out.
February 17, 2012
“The FDA is at it again – this time handing over natural remedies to big pharma. Thank you for protecting the profits of the drug companies, FDA. You are doing a great job.” –KTRN
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently finalizing its handoff of all things natural to Big Pharma. They are issuing a “Vaccines, Blood & Biologics” guidance, in which they are taking control of all hormones and substances naturally found in your body and nature—and handing them over to Big Pharma.
First, the FDA redefined natural products as drugs. We’ll use pregnenolone, a bio-identical hormone used by women to prevent early deliveries, to show their process:
The FDA attacked compounding pharmacies for selling pregnenolone, which had always been in their purview.
The FDA labeled it an “orphan drug”.
Once they had illegally stopped the sales of bio-identical hormones by compounding pharmacies, they handed the business over, granting exclusive rights to a single pharmaceutical corporation.
The company, KV Pharmaceutical, immediately put their version of pregnenolone on the market at a price 15,000% higher than it had been sold by compounding pharmacies!
The FDA clearly was not acting for the benefit of the public. They stole a safe, natural, and needed product that was used by thousands of pregnant women to prevent early deliveries, and handed it over to Big Pharma. As a result, most of those thousands of women are no longer able to access pregnenolone. Gaia Health documented the story in FDA Bans Product from Compounding Pharmacies, Then Hands Exclusive Rights to Single Pharma Company.
Pregnenolone was a test run. Now, the FDA has codified the whole process.
You say that the FDA isn’t a law-making body? That they don’t legally have the authority to make laws? That’s how it’s supposed to be—but it bears little resemblance to what’s happening.
February 10, 2012
By Ethan A. Huff
“The FDA is at it again. This time they are going after Google. What a joke.” –KTRN
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently snagged a hefty $500 million forfeiture, one of the largest in history, from search engine giant Google for running advertisements on its AdWords service for Canadian pharmacies. The agency claims these ads, which were also viewable by Americans, facilitated the illegal shipment of prescription drugs into the U.S. in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as well as the Controlled Substances Act.
A trophy in the FDA’s trophy case of strong-armed regulatory enforcement actions, the $500 million forfeiture demonstrates the agency’s intolerance for the sale of any drug that is not officially FDA-approved. But what it also embodies is a whole new level of government reach into private business practices, which in this case did not necessarily constitute a violation of the law on Google’s part.
Since Google did not directly introduce or deliver Canadian drugs to U.S. customers, the company is technically not in violation of U.S. law. But according to the Justice Department, Google acted as an accomplice to the crime by “enhancing the ability of Canadian pharmacies to reach American consumers,” according to The New York Times (http://dealbook.nytimes.com).
But does allowing various advertising as part of its service constitute engaging in criminal behavior? This is a blurry zone in federal law that was recently addressed in the debates about SOPA and PIPA as well, concerning whether or not allowing links to diverse content that could be in violation of the law, rather than directly censoring them, is illegal.
February 10, 2012
By Mike Barrett
“Everyone should know by now that the FDA protects profits for big pharma and big food. They do not care about you or your family.” –KTRN
The stated mission of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to protect and promote public health through the regulation of everything from food products to pharmaceutical drugs.
Based on the agency’s actions (or perhaps their severe lack of real action) however, it is quite apparent that this government organization has a blatant disregard for your health and is most certainly not in the business of ‘promoting’ health.
Here are 4 ways in which the FDA has gone against public health and safety.
1. FDA Sits Back as You Consume Mercury in Your Food
The FDA, despite having full access to the studies that were heavily publicized even on mainstream media websites, apparently feels that carcinogenic mercury tainting the food supply is nothing to worry about. Found to be present in over a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products, research has shown that you are most likely consuming mercury if you consume processed food items or many beverage products. High-fructose corn syrup is a main carrier of the harmful element, which is especially concerning when you consider the fact that the average American consumed 37.8 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2008.
Despite experts speaking out and calling on the FDA to come to the aid of the public, the FDA still does nothing.
‘Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,’ the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies, said in a prepared statement.
February 6, 2012
By S.D. Wells
The one man who may be responsible for more food related illnesses and deaths than anyone in history, Michael R. Taylor, has just been promoted from US Food Safety Czar to Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the FDA, a position which would enable the giant biotech company Monsanto to silently and legally feed cancer causing vegetables to every living person who is not 100% strictly organic.
President Obama has appointed the former Monsanto Vice President and lobbyist Michael R. Taylor to the throne. This is the same man who was Food Safety Czar for the FDA when Genetically Modified Organisms were allowed into the US food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks. This is like putting a terrorist in charge of the world’s food supply. What will the cancer numbers look like in 2016?
The GMO nightmare all started with the Dan Quayle led FDA/GMO marriage. Under George Bush Senior’s Administration from 1989 to 1993, Dan Quayle single-handedly catapulted GMO’s into existence through FDA’s anti-consumer right-to-know policy, which stated that GMO foods did not have to be labeled or safety tested. Yes, you read that correctly: There is no safety testing required whatsoever to take some Agent Orange pesticide and genetically mutate the seeds of vegetables in a chemical laboratory so that nothing on planet earth will eat the plant that grows from the ground except for all the humans who have no idea what happened.
Michael Taylor is part of a revolving door at the FDA, where Monsanto Execs just come and go as they please. First, Michael R. Taylor was an assistant to the FDA commissioner. Then he left to work for a law firm in the 1980′s to help gain FDA approval of Monsanto’s artificial growth hormone (rGBH), which is directly linked to cancer. Then he became deputy commissioner of the FDA in 1991, and was later re-appointed to the FDA in 2009 by Obama. He is the food villain who tried his best to keep this “malignant milk of the turn of the century” from being labeled.
Michael Taylor is the epitome of everything Monsanto represents. Taylor is like a vehicle for Monsanto’s patenting of seeds and global domination of farming. He implements the government’s “favorable” agricultural biotech policies because it’s much more of a financially sure shot to use RoundUp in food than to farm organically and ethically. If the investments aren’t paying enough at the corporation, Execs just switch over to Federal Regulations and write some new Legislation based on “tainted research”, which allows them to pile more toxins on the American public and bankroll off it when they flip back to the corporate side.
While Government Discredits Raw Milk, It Keeps Names Of Salmonella Outbreak Restaurants Secret To Protect Corporate Profits
February 6, 2012
By Ethan A. Huff
“If the government or FDA weren’t making money from these companies, why would they keep their names a secret?” –KTRN
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is getting increasingly bold these days with openly admitting that it works directly for big industry interests rather than public health interests. In a recent report on why the agency did not disclose Taco Bell as being the “Mexican-style” restaurant chain involved in a recent salmonella outbreak, the FDA essentially admitted that it is more concerned with upholding a close-knit relationship with big industry players like Taco Bell than it is with being transparent and telling the truth for the public interest.
Last fall, at least 68 people in ten states were infected with salmonella poisoning from food sold at an undisclosed Mexican-style restaurant chain, according to an FDA announcement. At least 20 of these people became so ill that they had to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, and yet, the entire time, the FDA refused to disclose the name of the chain, which was later uncovered to be Taco Bell.
Any rational person can see that disclosing such information is not only pertinent and beneficial to public health efforts, but also a necessity if the information itself is to have any benefit or reason for being announced in the first place. But the FDA disagrees, having told ABC News in a recent interview that the agency often does not disclose this crucial information for fear that “it could have the effect of discouraging … cooperation between our agencies and the food industry.”
What this really means, of course, is that the FDA places a higher priority on catering to its special interests, which in this case includes fast food restaurant chains like Taco Bell, than it does to protecting public health. Obviously the public has a right to know if a major food producer is even potentially selling food that is tainted with harmful bacteria, despite what the FDA claims about the situation.
And yet if this same salmonella outbreak had been in any way linked to raw milk, you can be sure the name of the company involved would have been prematurely published far and wide, even if said outbreak later turned out not to have anything to do with raw milk. This is exactly what happened to Organic Pastures Dairy in California back in December when regulators illegitimately framed the company and shut down its business indefinitely (http://www.naturalnews.com).
February 3, 2012
It has been proven to drastically decrease the chances of contracting HIV before one is even exposed to the virus: Truvada is considered a medical breakthrough by some, yet others fear the once-a-day prevention pill could spur a deadly AIDS epidemic.
The drug — a small, blue pill ingested orally — is currently awaiting FDA approval. Its manufacturer, Gilead, argues that Truvada would reduce the risk of risk of contracting HIV in as many as three-quarters of cases and has been proven so in tests already. AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein is weary of how people will use the pill, however, and warns, “I believe that this could be catastrophic in terms of HIV prevention.”
The argument against approving the pill, says Weinstein, is that it will encourage partners to engage in unprotected sex. While the pill is proven to work in many cases, it is not 100-percent guaranteed. The result, he says, could only make things worse for AIDS and HIV.
It’s a “fabulous drug – it’s one pill once a day, and it has a low side-effect burden,” says Weinstein. Unless the user is aware that the success rate of Truvada is limited and takes extra precautions such as traditional prophylactics though, that ignorance might trigger an AIDS epidemic that could destroy America.
When tested on gay men in four countries, the success rate for the drug was only around 44 percent. When tested by heterosexual couples in two African nations, Truvada proved to be 73 percent successful. Weinstein and other critics are concerned that unless users know the facts, they will learn to rely on the drug and only spread the virus.
“There’s a whole issue of people who aren’t educated on the biology of HIV, who will think that because they’d be taking the pill, they will not become infected,” Cynthia Davis of the College of Medicine and College of Science and Health at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles tells The Final Call.
“You will have groups of people who think, because they’re on this pill and it has this protective factor, that they don’t have to practice safer sex anymore … Because they’re on this medication, they’ll have this false sense of security,” Davis adds.
“Although some of the trial results have been very impressive, the protection with pre-exposure prophylaxis is unlikely to be 100 percent,” writes British medical journal The Lancet. “And making drugs available as prophylaxis could encourage high-risk sexual behavior among those who believe themselves to be protected.”
In America, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that men and women might abstain from using condoms if taking Truvada, based on “the false belief that they are protected” by the pill. Currently all medical options in dealing with HIV are available only after contracting the virus. Truvada, on the other hand, is administered as a precautionary measure — what physicians consider a “pre-exposure prophylaxis.” While test trials have shown substantial success in the effectiveness of Truvada, there is still plenty of room for the pill to go awry.
February 2, 2012
Several orange juice shipments have been detained by the Food and Drug Administration after traces of illegal fungicide were detected.
The government says the juice is safe to drink. But the fungicide, carbendazim, is not approved for use in the U.S., so any juice that contains traces of it must be detained. Carbendazim is used in other countries to combat mold on orange trees.
The FDA said Friday it had detained about 11 percent of orange juice and orange juice concentrate imports since it started testing for the fungicide earlier this month. The agency detained 9 out of 80 total shipments at the border, while importers withdrew two additional shipments.
The government started testing for the chemical at the border after Coca-Cola – which owns juice brands Minute Maid and Simply Orange – reported finding the chemical in its own juice and in competing juices. Most orange juice products made by Coke and other companies contain a blend of juice from different sources including Brazil, where the fungicide is approved for use. All of the products detained or withdrawn were from Brazil and Canada.
Test results showed the highest levels found were in a Jan. 4 shipment from Brazil. That shipment contained up to 52 parts per billion of the fungicide, still far below the European Union’s maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion. Most of the shipments detained had much lower amounts.
The U.S. government does not have an official maximum residue level for carbendazim in orange juice, but the Environmental Protection Agency has said a detailed risk assessment of carbendazim showed no risks at up to 80 parts per billion, and real levels of concern are probably thousands of times higher.