Saturday, August 19, 2006

GMO's Found in Rice

Rice Found to Contain Engineered Protein

Associated Press Writer
Aug 18, 6:35 PM EDT


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Long-grain rice samples from the United States have tested positive for trace amounts of a genetically modified strain not approved for consumption, but it doesn't pose a threat to humans or the environment, federal officials said Friday.

The genetically engineered rice was detected by Bayer CropScience AG. The German company then notified U.S. officials. The strain is not approved for sale in the United States, but two other strains of rice with the same genetically engineered protein are.

U.S. officials said they have contacted foreign trade partners to assure them of the product's safety. They said the United States would provide those partners with any necessary information to alleviate concerns.

The rice was developed to resist a specific type of herbicide.

"There are no human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with this (genetically engineered) rice," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

Johanns said he saw no need to recall the product. He also said that Bayer would request permission to market the product. Still, he added, an investigation was needed to determine how a regulated product was released into the market and whether any violation of USDA regulations occurred.

The sample came from the 2005 food crop. Johanns said he did not know where the product came from. Department officials later said the rice samples came from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri; however they did not know specifically where the rice was grown.

Johanns said he could not estimate how much of the product is on shelves or has been exported.

"I was asked what percentage of rice may be impacted by this? I just hate to venture out there because there is nothing I have that I could base that statement on," he said.

A spokesman for Bayer CropScience, Greg Coffey, said the protein in question is well known to regulators and has been confirmed safe for food and feed use in many countries.

COMMON SENSE: This is just the beginning. Once GMO's get going, they will not know any boundary. Our food sources will never be pure again.

Hold the Pickles, Hold the Lettuce...Hold the Viruses, PLEASE!

FDA Approves Viruses for Treating Food
Aug 19, 2:55 AM EDT

Here is the link in case the story gets lost:

Edible Viruses

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A mix of bacteria-killing viruses can be safely sprayed on cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages to combat common microbes that kill hundreds of people a year, federal health officials said Friday in granting the first-ever approval of viruses as a food additive.

The combination of six viruses is designed to be sprayed on ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, including sliced ham and turkey, said John Vazzana, president and chief executive officer of manufacturer Intralytix Inc.

The special viruses called bacteriophages are meant to kill strains of the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, the Food and Drug Administration said in declaring it safe to use on ready-to-eat meats prior to their packaging.

The viruses are the first to win FDA approval for use as a food additive, said Andrew Zajac, of the regulatory agency's office of food additive safety.

The bacterium the viruses target can cause a serious infection called listeriosis, primarily in pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. In the United States, an estimated 2,500 people become seriously ill with listeriosis each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 500 die.

Luncheon meats are particularly vulnerable to Listeria since once purchased, they typically aren't cooked or reheated, which can kill harmful bacteria like Listeria, Zajac said.

The preparation of bacteriophages - the name is Greek for "bacteria-eater" - attacks only strains of the Listeria bacterium and not human or plant cells, the FDA said.

"As long as it used in accordance with the regulations, we have concluded it's safe," Zajac said. People normally come into contact with phages through food, water and the environment, and they are found in our digestive tracts, the FDA said.

Consumers won't be aware that meat and poultry products have been treated with the spray, (emphasis added - i.e., it it doesn't have to be added to the label) Zajac added. The Department of Agriculture will regulate the actual use of the product.

The viruses are grown in a preparation of the very bacteria they kill, and then purified. The FDA had concerns that the virus preparation potentially could contain toxic residues associated with the bacteria. However, testing did not reveal the presence of such residues, which in small quantities likely wouldn't cause health problems anyway, the FDA said.

"The FDA is applying one of the toughest food-safety standards which they have to find this is safe," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group. "They couldn't approve this product if they had questions about its safety."

Intralytix, based in Baltimore, first petitioned the FDA in 2002 to allow the viruses to be used as a food additive. It has since licensed the product to a multinational company, which intends to market it worldwide, said Intralytix president Vazzana. He declined to name the company but said he expected it to announce its plans within weeks or months.

Intralytix also plans to seek FDA approval for another bacteriophage product to kill E. coli bacteria on beef before it is ground, Vazzana said.

Scientists have long studied bacteriophages as a bacteria-fighting alternative to antibiotics.

COMMON SENSE: ...and they don't even have to tell us that we are being exposed to a virus. I understand keeping the food supply safe, but "common sense," shouldn't we have the ability to decide if we actually want to eat this stuff???

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Food for Thought

Eating processed meats raises stomach cancer risk

Eating more processed meats such as bacon, sausage and smoked ham increases the risk of stomach cancer, Swedish scientists said on Wednesday.

A review of 15 studies showed the risk of developing stomach cancer rose by 15 to 38 percent if consumption of processed meats increased by 30 grams (1 ounce) per day, the Karolinska Institute said in a statement.

Stomach cancer accounts for nearly one tenth of total deaths from cancer, the institute said. The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, collated studies covering 4,704 individuals between 1966 and 2006 and showed "unequivocal" results, the institute said. "Nobody had carried out this type of analysis into processed meats and stomach cancer," said Susanna Larsson, one of the authors of the study at the institute.

"And our results from a mean value show very clearly that there is an association between increased consumption of processed meat products and stomach cancer." The institute said processed meats were often salted or smoked, or had nitrates added to them, in order to extend their shelf-life which could be connected to the increased risk of stomach cancer, the fourth most common type of cancer.

"We hope that further studies will clarify the interaction between the consumption of processed meats and other factors, such as other dietary factors and the effects of different bacteria on the incidence of stomach cancer," Larsson said.

COMMON SENSE: Fresh is best! The more a food is processed and the more additives are infused into our food (preservatives, coloring agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers, the list goes on) and the closer our food gets to being a "chemical cocktail," the less vitality and health that food has to offer. The "pork" issue is another matter that my husband will argue vehemently that should never be eaten, chemicals or not!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Big Brother At It Again...

Judge orders teen to cancer treatment

Straight from the Associated Press:
By SONJA BARISIC, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 21, 6:43 PM ET

A Long Battle within a Long Battle

NORFOLK, Va. - A judge ruled Friday that a 16-year-old boy fighting to use alternative treatment for his cancer must report to a hospital by Tuesday and accept treatment that doctors deem necessary, the family's attorney said.

The judge also found Starchild Abraham Cherrix's parents were neglectful for allowing him to pursue alternative treatment of a sugar-free, organic diet and herbal supplements supervised by a clinic in Mexico, lawyer John Stepanovich said.

Jay and Rose Cherrix of Chincoteague on Virginia's Eastern Shore must continue to share custody of their son with the Accomack County Department of Social Services, as the judge had previously ordered, Stepanovich said.

The parents were devastated by the new order and planned to appeal, the lawyer said.

COMMON SENSE: Our bodies, our choice!

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Unlicensed tattoo artists blamed for spread of superbug

Straight from the Associated Press:
By MIKE STOBBE, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 22, 3:41 PM ET

Link: MRSA spreading in unlike places

ATLANTA - A worrisome superbug seen in prisoners and athletes is also showing up in people who get illegal tattoos, federal health officials said Thursday.

Forty-four tattoo customers in Ohio, Kentucky and Vermont developed skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infections occurred in 2004 and 2005, and were traced to 13 unlicensed tattoo artists, according to an article in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

These are the first documented cases if tattoo-related MRSA infections, said Dr. Mysheika LeMaile-Williams, a CDC infectious disease investigator who co-authored the report.

MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that fights off the body's immune system and destroys tissues. The community-associated variety, seen in the tattoo infections, has been diagnosed in otherwise healthy athletes, military recruits and prison inmates.

The skin infections can be transmitted from person to person by contact with draining sores, or through contact with contaminated items or surfaces. MRSA generally causes mild skin infections, but in some cases has led to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and a painful, flesh-destroying condition called necrotizing fasciitis.

Clusters of MRSA cases were seen in Ohio in June 2004, November 2004 and April 2005, involving 33 people. A four-person cluster was reported in Kentucky in May 2005 and a seven-person cluster was in Vermont in August.

Four of the patients were hospitalized, but all recovered, LeMaile-Williams said.

Ohio, Kentucky and Vermont require licensing for tattoo artists, but all the affected customers went to unlicensed artists. Instead of doing the work in tattoo parlors, the body art was done in the homes of the tattooists or the recipients, or even in public places such as a park.

The tattooists sometimes did not use masks or gloves, did not properly disinfect skin and did not properly clean the equipment. One Ohio tattooist used a homemade tattoo gun made from a computer ink-jet cartridge and guitar strings, LeMaile-Williams said.

Three of the Ohio tattooists had recently been jailed, she said.

Customers sometimes seek out unlicensed tattooists because their services are less expensive, or because they are younger than 18 and cannot go to a licensed tattooist without parental consent, she said.

Several of the infected patients were under 18, she added.

The tattoo cases are not surprising, said Dr. Kate Heilpern, an Atlanta emergency room physician and Emory University researcher who has studied MRSA.

The superbug is appearing in locker rooms, homes and many other unsterile places where people are in skin-to-skin contact.

"We are still riding a big wave of this bacterial infection and I really don't see any end in sight," she said.

COMMON SENSE: MRSA used to be confined to seriously ill patients and was seen primarily in hospital intensive care units. Well, guess what? It's out! It is a growing superbug and it will spread. So while you're taking precautions against the avian flu, watch out for this antibiotic-resistant bacteria. By the way, (hint, hint) Active Honey will kill the MRSA strain when antibiotics fail. Start your honey treatment early - it won't hurt, and it may just save your life!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fruits and Vegetables - Losing Nutrition Over Time

"A US government study that tracked the nutrient levels in fruits and vegetables for 50 years has found today's offerings are less abundant in key nutrients than those of the 1950s." That is according to this article published in Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. I wonder if they studied fruits and vegetables grown on organic farms that use traditional farming methods?

Our land is out of balance! Our bodies are out of balance! We can't get our required nutrition from our food so we must resort to taking a chemically-manufactured pill in order to stay healthy. Does this really make sense to you?

COMMON SENSE: We must support our organic farmers and educate the rest. We have to let the land rest from overuse of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. Let the land get healthy and it will take care of us.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Frozen Honey

Frozen honey makes a GREAT summer snack for kids - no artificial colors, sweeteners, additives, or preservatives. Use in a popsicle-maker; add a little fruit juice for extra zest.

COMMON SENSE: This is a healthy treat that kids love. It is also a wonderful remedy for sore throats. Make sure you use raw honey, and I recommend using an Active honey to get the anti-bacterial effect.

Food Additives

Do you read the labels on the food you serve to your children? It may be worth a minute of your time to scan the back of those brightly-colored boxes before saying "yes" to your insistent child. Food Additives are bad enough for a 150 pound adult; what happens when all those chemicals are condensed in a 40 pound child?

Also see:

Food Additives
Food Additives of Concern

COMMON SENSE: Please take care of your children! Read the labels on your food!

Food and Depression

Food affects more than our body, it is vital to our emotional well-being as well. This is a short article with so much more behind it, but it is an important issue.

COMMON SENSE: Eat well for body and mind!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sounds Like Doughnuts to Me!

This story was of interest to me because it shows how specific foods are engrained in culture. I had never heard of fry bread before, but I can see how it can be quite addictive. Whether it is the turkey, dressing, gravy, potatoes, etc. at holidays, or the white-on-white cake at birthdays, or the bag-full of trick-or-treat goodies at Halloween, or funnel cakes at the county fair, there seems to be no end to food and festivities. Ultimately, these foods become "comfort foods" reminding us of the special event they originally represented. As a second obstacle, we have the "fast food/junk food" craze going on. Fast food is too available in our society, and we've come to depend on it. When these special foods and fast foods become a part of our everyday fare, then we've really got an uphill battle on our hands.

COMMON SENSE: Proper nutrition is a daily challenge. Refrain, abstain, and try to change!