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!