The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed two sweeping rules aimed at preventing the contamination of produce and processed foods, taking a long-awaited step toward codifying the food safety law that Congress passed two years ago.
The proposed rules represent a sea change in the way the agency polices food, a process that currently involves swinging into action after food contamination has been identified rather than protecting against it before it hits grocery shelves.
“These new rules really set the basic framework for a modern, science-based approach to food safety and shifts us from a strategy of reacting to problems to a strategy for preventing problems,” Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the F.D.A., said in an interview.
The F.D.A. is responsible for the safety of about 80 percent of the food that the nation consumes. The remainder of the burden falls to the Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for meat, poultry and some eggs. One in six Americans becomes ill from eating contaminated food each year, the government estimates; of those, roughly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
Congress passed the groundbreaking Food Safety Modernization Act in 2010 after a wave of incidents involving tainted eggs, peanut butter and spinach sickened thousands of people and led major food makers to join consumer advocates in demanding stronger government oversight.
But it took the Obama administration two years to move the rules through the F.D.A., prompting accusations by advocates that the White House was more concerned about protecting itself from Republican criticism than about public safety.
Mr. Taylor said, however, that the delay was a function of the wide variety of foods that the rules had to encompass and the complexity of the food system. “Anything that is important and complicated will always take longer than you would like,” he said.
The first rule would require manufacturers of processed foods sold in the United States to identify, adopt and carry out measures to reduce the risk of contamination. Food companies also would be required to have a plan for correcting any problems that might arise and for keeping records that F.D.A. inspectors could use for audit purposes.
“Our farm is basically embargoed. We can raise all the pigs we want, but can not move them out to our market. That cuts off cash flow, effectively starving the farm financially and the pigs practically.”
Bakers Green Acres made the news last spring as the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) went on a mission to eradicate heritage pigs, calling them a feral invasive species. This move would wipe out the entire small-scale farm whose animals pose no threat to typical hog species. New blockages from multiple government agencies are making it impossible to run the farm.
Mark and Jill Acres of Marion, MI decided to fight the Invasive Species Order but have not been allowed to have a hearing, and it’s been a year. So, after feeding all the Russian boar and Mangalitsa pigs ($200-300 per day) to keep them alive while in limbo, they decided to take them to slaughter. Isn’t that what the State wanted – wouldn’t that make them happy?
The MUST WATCH video below illustrates a dire situation that affects all of our food freedom. Many of us don’t hear what goes on with victimized farmers after the initial news hits – makes one wonder if these court cases are dragged out on purpose. But Mark lets us know in his Situation Report with rousing, patriotic words about our food and farming rights. He aptly compares these government actions to, as Jill said:
the Soviet blockade of Berlin post-WWII. They attempted to gain control of the entire strategic city forcibly by controlling the food and fuel the people could have…
Here are some points to know about Baker’s Green Acres’ situation compiled from their blog:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday proposed the most sweeping food safety rules in decades, requiring farmers and food companies to be more vigilant in the wake of deadly outbreaks in peanuts, cantaloupe and leafy greens.
The long-overdue regulations are aimed at reducing the estimated 3,000 deaths a year from foodborne illness. Just since last summer, outbreaks of listeria in cheese and salmonella in peanut butter, mangoes and cantaloupe have been linked to more than 400 illnesses and as many as seven deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The actual number of those sickened is likely much higher.
The FDA’s proposed rules would require farmers to take new precautions against contamination, to include making sure workers’ hands are washed, irrigation water is clean, and that animals stay out of fields. Food manufacturers will have to submit food safety plans to the government to show they are keeping their operations clean.
Many responsible food companies and farmers are already following the steps that the FDA would now require them to take. But officials say the requirements could have saved lives and prevented illnesses in some of the large-scale outbreaks that have hit the country in recent years.
By Lisa Garber
January 4, 2013
A new study using brain imaging says that fructose, a ubiquitous sugar in the modern western diet, prevents the brain from recognizing fullness, promoting overeating and thereby weight gain. The researchers concluded that glucose does not have this effect. According to Oregon Health & Science University endocrinologist Dr. Jonathan Purnell, the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) results of 20 young, normal-weight study subjects mimicked how hungry each subject said he or she felt before and after consuming drinks with glucose or fructose.
All sugars are not the same—in example, high fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose as opposed to table sugar, which is half of each.
Yale University endocrinologist Dr. Robert Sherwin says that glucose “turns off or suppresses the activity of areas of the brain that are critical for reward and desire for food.” Because fructose doesn’t result in those changes, however, “the desire to eat continues—it isn’t turned off.”
The small study underscores sugar’s tie to American adults’ and children’s swelling waistlines. Fructose—as well as the highly processed, GMO-corn-derived high fructose corn syrup—has, since the 1970s, been increasingly added to many processed foods ranging from breakfast cereal to barbecue sauce, sodas to energy bars. Incidentally, a third of today’s American children and teens and over two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
Although fructose is found in fruit and vegetables, neither of these food groups make up even close to the amount of fructose being consumed on on a grand scale. Instead, health-wreaking and often mercury-tainted high-fructose corn syrup makes up the vast majority of fructose consumption, which is leading to even more illness and disease.
“Fructose from fruit is encased in fiber-rich flesh that slows and reduces its absorption in the body and its metabolism in the liver, serving as a sort of antidote to the negative effects of fructose metabolism. The raw fructose in HFCS and normal table sugar is not encased in a friendly fiber flesh, making it more likely to wreak havoc on your metabolism,” Michael Goran from Science20 explains.
Flawed Research ‘Shows’ Obesity not so Bad
However, it should be noted that independent experts have openly criticized the researcher of the study, Katherine Flegal from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for conducting “misleading” research in 2005 that found thin and normal-weight people had a slightly higher risk of death than those who were overweight.
“Some portion of those thin people are actually sick,” said biostatistician Donald Berry from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, “and sick people tend to die sooner.”
Obesity Isn’t a Simple Problem
In a culture obsessed with dieting, it’s easy to become overly obsessed with weight in favor of overall health. Drinking diet drinks as opposed to full-sugar varieties do little to stem disease and can contribute to obesity, tooth damage, cancer, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes. The truth about weight loss and obesity is that it is many-faceted, with links also to pesticides and antibiotics in addition to the better-known factors like junk food and less active lifestyles. Striving for overall health rather than a cookie cutter silhouette leads to lasting weight loss, healthfulness, and longevity.
January 2, 2013
Scientists have used imaging tests to show for the first time that fructose, a sugar that saturates the American diet, can trigger brain changes that may lead to overeating.
After drinking a fructose beverage, the brain does not register the feeling of being full as it does when simple glucose is consumed, researchers found.
The small study does not prove that fructose or its relative, high-fructose corn syrup, can cause obesity, but experts say it adds evidence that they may play a role.
A controversial new government study released this week has shaken some dieters’ resolutions to lose weight.
The research showed that people who are moderately heavy, up to 30 or so pounds above normal, have a slightly lower risk (6%) of premature death than those at a normal weight.
But those who are extremely obese — roughly 60 or more pounds over a normal weight — have a 29% greater risk of dying early than those who are at a normal weight, according to the review of 97 studies, conducted by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The scientists looked at deaths from all reasons and people’s body mass index (BMI), a number that considers weight and height.
The research, which got widespread news coverage, is causing some to think that their extra weight may not be the health danger that they thought it was. Are these reactions justified?
Anna Hunt, Contributor
The use of antibacterial drugs on healthy livestock is a common practice in the United States. The meat industry’s overuse of antibiotics has become so widespread that about 29 million pounds of these drugs (or 80% of all antibiotics sold in the US) are used in industrial feedlots, with only 14% of these drugs being used for therapeutic purposes.
As a result, dangerous germs, dubbed “super bugs”, capable of fighting off antibiotics, are spreading throughout our communities, not only jeopardizing our health, but also the future of healthcare.
Antibiotic Use in Industrial Farms
Giving low-level antibiotics to farm animals started in the 1950s, when raising animals in large confined feedlots began to replace small local farms. The conditions in this new type of farming were ripe for the spread of infectious disease amongst livestock, as animals were now being confined to overcrowded spaces and given limited access to fresh air, sunlight and exercise. Antibiotics were thus used as preventative medicine. Over the last 50 years, in an effort to prevent infections large meat producers have been regularly putting antibiotics into the feed and water given to farm animals.
Rise in Super Bugs
As a result of this practice, antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, are starting to become a growing concern for public health. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tests meats sold in grocery stores, and has reported that about 50% of meats are contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. These bacteria can also be spread by air, water and feedlot workers. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to treat a variety of illnesses such as ear infections and strep throat with antibiotics.
Drug-resistant infections are estimated to cost Americans up to $26 billion per year in additional healthcare costs. Those costs go up to as much as $36 billion a year when lost productivity and other factors are taken into account. – (source: Natural Resources Defense Council)
Today, the medical industry’s answer to this problem is to make more new antibiotics, which are often much more expensive and can have greater side effects. And, although all of the major medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that non-therapeutic use of antibiotics on animals must be stopped, the FDA has not taken much action to make this happen.
January 3, 2012
“I recognized my two selves: a crusading idealist and a cold, granitic believer in the law of the jungle” – Edgar Monsanto Queeny, Monsanto chairman, 1943-63, “The Spirit of Enterprise”, 1934.
When rich companies with politically-connected lobbyists and seats on government-appointed bodies bend policies for their own ends, we are in serious trouble. It is then that our democratic institutions become hijacked and our choices, freedoms and rights are destroyed. Corporate interests have too often used their dubious ‘science’, lobbyists, political connections and presence within the heart of governments, in conjunction with their public relations machines, to subvert democratic machinery for their own benefit. Once their power has been established, anyone who questions them or who stands in their way can expect a very bumpy ride.
The power and influence of the GMO sector
The revolving door between the private sector and government bodies has been well established. Over the past few years in Britain, the media has occasionally shed light on the cosy and highly questionable links between the armaments industry and top people in the Ministry of Defence. In the US, many senior figures from the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) industry, especially Monsanto, have moved with ease to take up positions with the Food and Drug Administration. Author and researcher William F Engdahl writes about a similar influence in Europe, noting the links between the GMO sector within the European Food Safety Authority. He states that over half of the scientists involved in the GMO panel which positively reviewed the Monsanto’s study for GMO maize in 2009, leading to its EU-wide authorisation, had links with the biotech industry.
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job” – Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Playing God in the Garden” New York Times Magazine,October 25, 1998.
When corporate interests are able to gain access to such positions of power, little wonder they have some heavy-duty tools at their disposal to (attempt to) fend off criticism by all means necessary.
Take the GMO sector, for instance. A well-worn tactic, certainly not exclusive to that sector, has been to slur and attack figures that have challenged the ‘science’ and claims of the industry. With threats of lawsuits and UK government pressure, some years ago top research scientist Dr Arpad Pusztai was effectively silenced over his research concerning the dangers of GM food. A campaign was set in motion to destroy his reputation. Similarly, a WikiLeaks cable highlighted how GMOs were being forced into European nations by the US ambassador to France who plotted with other US officials to create a ‘retaliatory target list’ of anyone who tried to regulate GMOs. Now that clearly indicates the power of the industry!
Champions of the poor: GM frontier technology
What the GMO sector fails to grasp is that the onus is on them to prove that their products are safe. And they have patently failed to do this.
No independent testing was done before Bush senior allowed GMOs onto the US market. The onus should not be on what Professor Shantu Shantharam, a leading figure in the GMO sector, calls the “anti-GM brigade” to prove it is safe (or unsafe). (Deccan Herald website).
Now that scientists such as Professor Seralini at the University of Caen in France are in a sense playing catch-up by testing previously independently untested GMOs, he is accused of “lies” and “deceit.” In fact, Professor Shantharam claims that:
“You people (the ‘anti-GM brigade’) have no shame. You are all disgusting enemies of the poor farmers around the world by trying to block a safe product of a frontier technology…”
Little mention there of the 250,000 poor farmers who took their own lives in the Indian cotton belt because they became indebted due to this “frontier technology” not delivering the results that the GMO industry has said it would. It is easy to thus conclude that if there is a ‘disgusting enemy’ it is the profiteering corporate-controlled terminator seed technology of the GMO industry that has resulted in mass suicides and the destruction of traditional farmer-controlled agricultural practices developed over thousands of years.
But this is symptomatic of the industry: it says a product is safe, therefore it is. We are expected to take its claims at face value, not least because the industry has gained an air of pseudo respectability: the US FDA sanctions such products. I use the word ‘pseudo’ because the revolving door between top figures at Monsanto and positions at the FDA makes it difficult to see where the line between the two is actually drawn. People are rightly suspicious of the links between the FDA and GMO industry in the USand the links between it and the regulatory body within the EU.
The impact of the corporate hijacking of food and agriculture
The corporations currently forwarding their GM agenda represent the so-called “Green Revolution’s” second coming. Agriculture has changed more over the last two generations than it did in the previous 12,000 years. Environmentalist Vandana Shiva notes that, after 1945, chemical manufacturers who had been involved in the weapons industry turned their attention to applying their chemical know-how to farming. As a result ‘dwarf seeds’ were purposively created to specifically respond to their chemicals. Over the coming years, agriculture became transformed into a chemical-dependent industry that has destroyed biodiversity. What we are left with is a monoculture, which according to Shiva reflects a monoculture of thinking. In effect, modern agriculture is part of the paradigm of control based on mass standardization and a dependency on corporate products: corporate monoculture.
The implications have been vast. Chemical-industrial agriculture has proved extremely lucrative for the oil and chemicals industry and has served to maintain and promote Western hegemony, not least via ‘structural adjustment’ and the consequent uprooting of traditional farming practices in favour of export-oriented policies, dam building to cater for what became a highly water intensive industry, loans, indebtedness, etc.
In a statement reported by RT, Wirth explains:
“The premise of this amendment is simple – New Mexicans deserve the right to know what’s in the food they are eating and feeding to their families.”
The issue is that a precedent was set with the multi-million dollar squelching of Prop 37, an achievement that Monsanto and fellow goons put as one of their greatest. With Prop 37 being crushed by deception, it makes approving this legislation harder. Because in the eyes of some legislators (besides those paid off by corporations who profit from GMOs) it has already been tried.
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