Category Archives: Health
By Jonathan Benson
We are quickly approaching a pivotal moment for the future of organics, as the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) readies to meet this spring to discuss a number of important agenda items spanning two sessions. Because of the federal government shutdown last fall, the NOSB skipped its semiannual meeting at that time, which means it will now be addressing two meetings’ worth of policy issues at its next gathering.
CI challenging elimination of ‘sunset clause,’ which protects organic integrity
Among these issues are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) attempted power grab concerning the approval process for certain synthetic substances in organic production when natural alternatives are unavailable. As you may recall, National Organic Program (NOP) Deputy Administrator Miles McEvoy issued a memo last fall arbitrarily changing the rules for the “sunset process” of non-organic and synthetic materials in organics, taking control of the process away from vested stakeholders.
The rule change, explains the Winter 2013 issue of the Cornucopia Institute’s (CI) The Cultivator newsletter, changes the process from requiring a two-thirds vote to approve the continued use of non-organic and synthetic substances after five years, to requiring a two-thirds vote to remove these substances after five years. In other words, the new standards will provision the use of prohibited substances in organics as the norm rather than the exception.
“The new policy allows a subcommittee of the Board to renew materials, thereby reducing public input and transparency,” explains CI, which is raising awareness about the change and pushing to have it overturned. “This change in policy was undertaken without public comment and without the participation of the NOSB.”
By Jonathan Benson
For the first time since their initial commercialization in the mid-1990s, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are on the decline in the industrialized world, says a new report by the pro-biotech lobbying group International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, or ISAAA.
Despite heavy promotion of the technology by the chemical industry, which has been hiding GMOs in the food supply for nearly 20 years, overall plantings of GM crops have dropped in places like Canada and the U.S. by about 2 percent, according to the report. And the crops hit the largest include both cotton and canola.
“Growth is plateauing as far as the major industrial countries are concerned,” stated Clive James, author of the new report and founder of the Ithica, New York-based ISAAA, to Businessweek. “The major trend is going to be in the developing countries, which for the second consecutive year planted more [GMOs] than industrial countries.”
Colorado parents seeking to exempt their children from vaccinations for personal reasons would face required education under a proposal that advanced in the state House Friday.
The proposal has sparked strong feelings among lawmakers about parental control.
Republican House Leader Brian DelGrosso told lawmakers that while he immunized his children, his younger brother doesn’t believe in vaccinations.
“And basically what this bill does is, the sponsor is basically saying that my brother is an idiot, my brother is a moron,” he said, adding that the message lawmakers are sending is that they know better than parents.
By Ethan A. Huff
When discussing the issues surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) — that is, organisms bearing the genetic traits of other species or bacteria — the focus is typically on how safe (or unsafe) these novel, food-like products are for humans. But distinguished risk engineer and two-time best-selling author Nassim Taleb thinks an even bigger problem with GMOs is their threat to the planet, and the statistical likelihood that they will eventually lead to the collapse of life on Earth.
In a new study, which is still in draft form, this professor of risk engineering from New York University uses statistical analysis to make the case that GMOs, by their very nature, will disrupt the ecosystems of this planet in ways that mankind is only just beginning to comprehend. Because they represent a systemic risk rather than a localized one — GM traits are known to spread unconstrained throughout the environment — GMOs will eventually breach the so-called “ecocide barrier,” leading to catastrophic ecosystem failure.
A Cambodian case study finds that people developing diabetes today have parents who went hungry in the 1970s.
So many adults in Cambodia are getting diabetes at such a young age, it’s unbelievable. “You can go to every village with me and see it,” endocrinologist Lim Keuky told PRI. “When I go abroad to developed countries, people say I’m lying. I’m not lying.”
Cambodians are getting type 2—A.K.A. adult-onset—diabetes in their late 30s. In contrast, the average age of diagnosis in the U.S. is 54. Sure, Cambodians now eat more and do less physical work than they did in decades past. But that’s not enough to explain their unusual diabetes rates, PRI reports. Something else is happening.
This new generation of diabetes patients was conceived and born during the Khmer Rouge regime, between 1975 and 1979. Scientists think their prenatal exposure to their mothers’ starvation set them up for diabetes later in life. Plus, while the PRI story doesn’t explicitly say so, it seems scientists think there may be an epigenetic effect going on, too. That is, being a fetus in a starving mother actually altered these people’s DNA in a way that may be inherited by their own children.