Health Media Articles
Excerpts of Key Health Media Articles from Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important health articles reported in the mainstream media suggesting a cover-up.
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Woman loses 95 pounds, trains for marathons
If someone had asked Kelly Pless to describe herself three years ago, the word "fit" would have never crossed her mind. For most of her adult life, the 31-year-old ... has struggled with her weight. She started gaining as a teenager and by the time she graduated from high school, she was carrying 215 pounds on her 5' 2" frame. At 28, she started having trouble breathing and doctors told her the weight was to blame. She reached her breaking point. Pless decided to do something. Fortunately she didn't have to look far for inspiration. "My manager at the Kennedy Space Center ran marathons, and he was the same age as my father," she said. Over the next three to four months, she began walking, without any real goal or expectation. Pless believed that if she just focused on eating less and moving more, everything would fall into place. "At first, it was hard to start exercising because I was worried people would make fun of me," Pless said. "But then I just told myself, if that's the worst that could happen ... I just got out there and didn't care." She also adopted an "eat to live" philosophy and satisfied her cravings for sweets by eating lots of fruit. "After a few months of cutting [snacks and sweets] out, I focused more on portion control," said Pless. "I pretty much eat when I'm hungry and don't eat when I'm not and really try to pay attention to when those times are. Pless asks herself, "What do I really want to eat? Or, what does my body really want right now?" All of the hard work and determination paid off. Pless has lost 95 pounds and kept it off for 1½ years. As a result, she says, she's healthier and more confident. Pless runs about 40 miles a week while she trains for two marathons she plans to run this winter. "Running has become a constant for me and does so much more for me than maintain my weight, which is now about 125 pounds," said Pless.
Drug Co. To Pay $515M Over Marketing
2007-09-28, CBS News
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and a former subsidiary have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle federal and state investigations into their drug marketing and pricing practices. The civil settlement ... resolves a broad array of allegations against Bristol-Myers Squibb, dating from 1994 through 2005. Among them was a charge that the ... company illegally promoted the sale of Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychoses. Neither use is approved by the U.S. [FDA]. Although physicians are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, drug companies are prohibited from marketing them for uses that have not been approved by the FDA. U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said when pharmaceutical companies market drugs for unapproved uses, there is a potential risk that patients could be harmed, because the drugs have not been tested as rigorously as they are during the FDA approval process. The government also alleged the company paid illegal inducements in the form of consulting fees and trips to luxury resorts to influence doctors and other health care providers to buy and prescribe the company's drugs. The company's former generic drug subsidiary, Apothecon Inc., also was accused of giving illegal enticements to induce retail pharmacy and wholesale customers to buy its products. Bristol-Myers Squibb misreported its best price for the anti-depression drug Serzone, violating a law that requires drug companies to report their lowest price to Medicaid, prosecutors said. The company was selling Serzone to a larger commercial purchaser at a lower price, prosecutors said. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon also inflated prices for an assortment of oncology and generic drugs knowing that federal health care programs established reimbursement rates based on those prices, Sullivan said.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption, click here.
Report Assails F.D.A. Oversight of Clinical Trials
2007-09-27, New York Times
The Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical trials, a federal investigator has found. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed. The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred. “In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans,” said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, Mr. Caplan said. Because no one collects the data systematically, there is no way to tell how safe the nation’s clinical research is or ever has been. The drug agency oversees just the safety of trials by companies seeking approval to sell drugs or devices. Using an entirely different set of rules, the Office for Human Research Protections oversees trials financed by the federal government. Privately financed noncommercial trials have no federal oversight.
Note: For further information on corruption in the health care industry, click here.
Chip implants linked to animal tumors
2007-09-09, Washington Post/Associated Press
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies." But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats. "The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining ... the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and ... said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people. To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide. Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed. The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Note: For more reliable information about the use and dangers of microchips, click here.
Investigative Report: U.S. ships unsafe products
2007-09-09, Sacramento Bee (leading newspaper of California's capital)
Ten days ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced another in a series of well-publicized recalls of Chinese-made goods: children's art sets containing crayons, markers, pastels, pencils, water colors -- and lead -- distributed by Toys "R" Us. "Consumers should immediately take the products away from children," warned a news release from the federal government's watchdog for thousands of household items. "The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families." But 13 months earlier, in July 2006, the CPSC ... authorized a Los Angeles company to export to Venezuela 16,520 art sets that violated the same CPSC standard protecting children from dangerous art supplies. The following month, the agency authorized a Miami company to export to Jamaica 5,184 sets of wax crayons that also violated the standard. For decades the federal agency has allowed American-based companies to export products deemed unsafe here. Those products can present an even greater danger in a country that has only a handful of government employees devoted to consumer protection, said R. David Pittle, a former acting CPSC chairman who spent 22 years as a senior vice president for Consumers Union. "If the United States doesn't have very many inspectors, how many do you think there are in Honduras or Jamaica or Trinidad or Bulgaria?" Pittle asked. Using the CPSC's database of exports of non-approved products and hundreds of pages of documents obtained through the federal Freedom of Information Act, The Bee found that between October 1993 and September 2006, the CPSC received 1,031 requests from companies to export products the agency had found unsafe for American consumers. The CPSC approved 991 of those requests, or 96 percent.
Doctors accuse US of 'unethical practices' at Guantanamo Bay
2007-09-07, Independent (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
More than 260 doctors from around the world have launched an unprecedented attack on the American medical establishment for its failure to condemn unethical practices by medical practitioners at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba. In a letter to The Lancet, the doctors from 16 countries, including Britain and America, say the failure of the US regulatory authorities to act is "damaging the reputation of US military medicine". They compare the actions of the military doctors, whom they accuse of being involved in the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and of turning a blind eye to evidence of torture in Iraq and elsewhere, to those of the South African security police involved in the death of the anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko 30 years ago. The group highlighted the force-feeding of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay last year and suggested the physicians involved should be referred to their professional bodies for breaching internationally accepted ethical guidelines. The doctors wrote: "No healthcare worker in the War on Terror has been charged or convicted of any significant offence despite numerous instances documented including fraudulent record-keeping on detainees who have died as a result of failed interrogations ... The attitude of the US military establishment appears to be one of 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'." The US introduced the policy of force-feeding, in which prisoners are strapped to a chair and a tube is forced down the throat into the stomach, after more than 100 prisoners went on hunger strike in 2005. "Fundamental to doctors' responsibilities in attending a hunger striker is the recognition that prisoners have a right to refuse treatment," the doctors wrote.
HHS Toned Down Breast-Feeding Ads
2007-08-31, Washington Post
In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples. Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign. The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter (pdf), the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads. The formula industry's intervention -- which did not block the ads but helped change their content -- is being scrutinized by Congress in the wake of last month's testimony by former surgeon general Richard H. Carmona that the Bush administration repeatedly allowed political considerations to interfere with his efforts to promote public health. "This is a credible allegation of political interference that [may] have had serious public health consequences," said [Rep. Henry] Waxman, a California Democrat. The milder campaign HHS eventually used had no discernible impact on the nation's breast-feeding rate, which lags behind the rate in many European countries.
Docs often write off patient side-effect concerns
When patients feel they might be having an adverse drug effect, doctors will very often dismiss their concerns, a new study shows. In a survey of 650 patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, who reported having adverse drug reactions, many said their physicians denied that the drug could be connected to their symptoms, Dr. Beatrice A. Golomb of the University of California at San Diego ... found. “Physicians seem to commonly dismiss the possibility of a connection,” Golomb [said]. “This seems to occur even for the best-supported adverse effects of the most widely prescribed class of drugs. Clearly there is a need for better physician education about adverse effects, and there is a strong need for patient involvement in adverse event reporting.” The best-known side effects of statins ... are liver damage and muscle problems, although statins have also been tied to changes in memory, concentration and mood. Physician reaction to a potential side effect is crucial because the muscle problems can progress to a rare but potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis if the drug isn’t discontinued. The researchers investigated the response of doctors to statin patients who believed they were having adverse drug reactions. In the great majority of cases, the patient, not the doctor, initiated the discussion. Forty-seven percent of patients with muscle problems or cognitive problems said their doctors dismissed the possibility that their symptoms were statin-related, while 51 percent of patients with peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve pain affecting the extremities, said their doctors denied a possible connection with statins.
Note: For a hard-hitting overview of medical corruption, click here.
Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned
2007-08-14, Financial Times
The US government is on a ‘burning platform’ of unsustainable policies and practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not taken soon, the country’s top government inspector has warned. David Walker, comptroller general of the US, issued the unusually downbeat assessment of his country’s future in a report that lays out what he called “chilling long-term simulations”. These include “dramatic” tax rises, slashed government services and the large-scale dumping by foreign governments of holdings of US debt. Drawing parallels with the end of the Roman empire, Mr Walker warned there were “striking similarities” between America’s current situation and the factors that brought down Rome, including “declining moral values and political civility at home, an over-confident and over-extended military in foreign lands and fiscal irresponsibility by the central government. In my view, it’s time to learn from history.” Mr Walker’s views carry weight because he is a non-partisan figure in charge of the Government Accountability Office, often described as the investigative arm of the US Congress. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Walker said he had mentioned some of the issues before but now wanted to “turn up the volume”. Some of them were too sensitive for others in government to “have their name associated with. I’m trying to sound an alarm and issue a wake-up call,” he said. “As comptroller general I’ve got an ability to look longer-range and take on issues that others may be hesitant, and in many cases may not be in a position, to take on."
People in 41 nations are living longer than Americans
2007-08-12, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
Americans are living longer than ever, but not as long as people in 41 other countries. For decades, the United States has been slipping in rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve healthcare, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the United States include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands. "Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on healthcare, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. A baby born in the United States in 2004 is expected to live an average of 77.9 years. That ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier. Andorra, a tiny country between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Macao, San Marino and Singapore. Researchers say several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one, they say, is that 47 million people in the United States lack health insurance, whereas Canada and many European countries have universal healthcare. But "it's not as simple as saying, 'We don't have national health insurance,' " said Samuel B. Harper, an epidemiologist at McGill University in Montreal. Among the other factors researchers cite: Adults in the United States have one of the world's highest obesity rates. Nearly a third of those 20 or older are obese, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. "The U.S. has the resources that allow people to get fat and lazy," said Paul D. Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Note: For a treasure trove of powerful health articles, click here.
Some risk linked to plastic chemical
2007-08-09, Los Angeles Times
A federal panel of scientists [has concluded] that an estrogen-like compound in plastic could be posing some risk to the brain development of babies and children. Bisphenol A, or BPA, [a component of polycarbonate plastic,] is found in low levels in virtually every human body. The decision by the 12 advisors of the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction ... is the first official, government action related to the chemical. The scientists ranked their concerns about BPA, concluding they had "some concern" about neurological and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children, but "minimal" or "negligible" concern about reproductive effects. The findings put the panel roughly in the middle -- between the chemical industry, which has long said there is no evidence of danger to humans, and the environmental activists and scientists who say it is probably harming people. Environmentalists lambasted the panel, saying it had minimized the risks and ignored important research. "Only the chemical industry agrees with the decision that BPA has little or no human health risks. That by itself should speak volumes about the corrupted process endorsed by the panel today," said Dr. Anila Jacob of the Environmental Working Group. The panel's preliminary report on BPA was drafted by a private consulting firm with financial ties to the chemical industry. The National Toxicology Program fired the company but ruled that the report was unbiased. The panel rejected several dozen animal studies that found reproductive effects. The decision to reject the studies has been controversial with toxicologists.
Scientists issue warning on chemical
2007-08-03, Los Angeles Times
In an unusual effort targeting a single chemical, several dozen scientists on Thursday issued a strongly worded consensus statement warning that an estrogen-like compound in plastic is likely causing an array of serious reproductive disorders in people. The compound, bisphenol A or BPA, is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world and has found its way into the bodies of most human beings. Used to make hard plastic, BPA can seep from beverage containers and other materials. It is used in all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles as well as ... large water cooler containers, sports bottles and microwave oven dishes, along with canned food liners and some dental sealants for children. The scientists — including four from federal health agencies — reviewed about 700 studies before concluding that people are exposed to levels of the chemical exceeding those that harm lab animals. Infants and fetuses are most vulnerable, they said. The statement, published online by the journal Reproductive Toxicology, was accompanied by a new study from researchers from the National Institutes of Health that found uterine damage in newborn animals exposed to BPA. That damage is a possible predictor of reproductive diseases in women, including fibroids, endometriosis, cystic ovaries and cancers. It is the first time BPA has been linked to disorders of the female reproductive tract, although earlier studies have found early-stage prostate and breast cancer and decreased sperm counts in animals exposed to low doses. The scientists' statement and the new study — accompanied by five scientific reviews summarizing the 700 studies — intensify a contentious debate over whether the plastic compound poses a public threat. So far no government agency here or abroad has restricted its use.
CDC Requests Bay Area Morgellons Study
2007-08-02, KTVU (San Francisco FOX affiliate)
The federal Centers for Disease Control has asked Kaiser Permanente to begin the nation’s first epidemiologic study of "Morgellons Disease," a mysterious ailment that the government terms an "unexplained and debilitating condition that has emerged as a public health concern." KTVU Health and Science Editor John Fowler was the first in the nation to report on this “mystery disease” as it was called in 2004. He reported the skin disorder seemed to cause fibers and filaments to emerge from the skin of sufferers, and also seemed to cause neurological problems patients described as "brain fog." John followed up with other reports, and founders of a non-profit group hoping to help sufferers understand the disease named it Morgellons. As of February this year, the Morgellons Research Foundation has identified more than ten thousand families nationwide. John profiled former A’s pitcher Billy Koch who says both he and his wife have symptoms. KTVU has obtained a federal Request for Quotation, delivered to Kaiser Permanente, that says the CDC now wants its nationwide study to be focused in the Bay Area because 24% of Morgellons patients "reside in California with geographic clustering in the San Francisco metropolitan area." Federal doctors now want Kaiser Permanente to conduct an urgent epidemiologic investigation with results due by next May "...to better characterize the clinical and epidemiologic features of this condition; to generate hypotheses about factors that may cause or contribute to sufferers' symptoms; and to estimate the prevalence of the condition in the population; and to provide information to guide public health recommendations." The CDC for the first time publicly says Morgellons is "an emerging public health problem."
F.D.A. Panel Votes to Keep Diabetes Drug on Market
2007-07-30, New York Times
A federal drug advisory committee voted 20 to 3 late this afternoon that Avandia, a controversial diabetes drug made by GlaxoSmithKline, raises the risks of heart attacks, but it then voted 22 to 1 that the drug should nonetheless remain on the market. Dr. Clifford J. Rosen, chairman of the committee [said] “there was enough concern on the advisory committee that virtually everybody felt there was risk” of heart attacks from taking Avandia. Patients who have congestive heart failure or a history of cardiovascular disease, or those taking insulin or nitrates should not be given Avandia, Dr. Rosen said. The votes came after an extraordinary meeting in which officials from the Food and Drug Administration, which brought the committee together, openly disagreed with one another about the right course to take. Dr. David Graham, a drug safety officer at the F.D.A., called for the drug’s withdrawal and estimated that its toxic effects on the heart had caused as many as 205,000 heart attacks, strokes and death from 1999 to 2006. For every month that Avandia is sold, he said, another 1,600 to 2,200 patients are likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes, some of them fatal. Dr. Robert Meyer, director of the office within the F.D.A. that approved Avandia’s initial application, immediately disagreed with Dr. Graham. Dr. Douglas C. Throckmorton, a deputy director of the F.D.A.’s center for drugs, explained at a news conference after the meeting that the split within the agency resulted from the “complexity” of the issue. The open disagreement within the F.D.A. reflects a fierce debate that has occurred among diabetes experts across the country since The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in May suggesting that Avandia increases the risks of heart attacks.
Note: To read a succinct, powerful summary of how drug companies control the regulation of their own industry, click here.
Politics reportedly stifled health report
2007-07-29, San Francisco Chronicle/Washington Post
A surgeon general's report in 2006 that called on Americans to help tackle global health problems has been kept from the public by a Bush political appointee without any background or expertise in medicine or public health, chiefly because the report did not promote the administration's policy accomplishments. The report described the link between poverty and poor health, urged the U.S. government to help combat widespread diseases as a key aim of its foreign policy, and called on corporations to help improve health conditions in the countries where they operate. Its publication was blocked by William Steiger, a specialist in education and a scholar of Latin American history whose family has long ties to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Since 2001, Steiger has run the Office of Global Health Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services. Richard Carmona, who commissioned the "Call to Action on Global Health" while serving as surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, recently cited its suppression as an example of the Bush administration's frequent efforts during his tenure to give scientific documents a political twist. Carmona told lawmakers that, as he fought to release the document, he was "called in and again admonished ... via a senior official who said, 'You don't get it. This will be a political document, or it will not be released.' "
A few days before the end of his term as the nation's senior medical officer, he was abruptly told he would not be reappointed.
We spend far more, but our health care is falling behind
2007-07-10, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
These days, fewer Americans are buying the claim that the United States has the best medical system in the world.
Consumers are buying lower-cost online drugs from foreign sources, and some even become "medical tourists" to obtain affordable treatment in other countries.
Studies show Americans aren't healthier, nor are they living longer than people in industrialized nations that spend half per capita of what we do on care.
A 2007 ... study that compared the United States with five other nations -- Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom -- ranked the U.S. health system last. And a 2000 report by the World Health Organization ... put the United States 37th out of 190 nations in health care services -- between Costa Rica and Slovenia. France was rated No. 1. In a New York Times/CBS poll conducted in March, health care ranked as the top domestic concern. We spend far more, but our health care is falling behind, studies say. "We, unlike any other country, have 46 million people who are uninsured, and that raises a whole host of health and financial issues," said Ken Thorpe, professor of health policy at Emory University. "Ours is really is a sick-care system." Thorpe said. He argues ... that it is far more cost-effective to prevent people from getting sick or at least catch illnesses early through better monitoring. Karen Davis, president of .... a nonprofit foundation that supports health care research said, "We tend to have more medical errors than other countries, in part because of this highly specialized, fragmented system. More things can go wrong and do go wrong."
Note: For many highly informative major media articles on the U.S. health crisis, click here.
Surgeon General Sees 4-Year Term as Compromised
2007-07-10, New York Times
Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations. The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm. Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings. Dr. Carmona is one of a growing list of present and former administration officials to charge that politics often trumped science within what had previously been largely nonpartisan government health and scientific agencies. On issue after issue, Dr. Carmona said, the administration made decisions about important public health issues based solely on political considerations, not scientific ones. “I was told to stay away from those because we’ve already decided which way we want to go,” Dr. Carmona said. He described attending a meeting of top officials in which the subject of global warming was discussed. The officials concluded that global warming was a liberal cause and dismissed it, he said.
Organic fruit and vegetables really are better for your heart
2007-07-05, The Times (London)
Organic fruit and vegetables may be better for the heart and general health than eating conventionally grown crops, new research has found. A ten-year study comparing organic tomatoes with standard produce found that they had almost double the quantity of antioxidants called flavonoids which help to prevent high blood pressure and thus reduce the likelihood of heart disease and strokes. Alyson Mitchell, a food chemist, who led the research at the University of California, believes that flavonoids can also help to stave off some forms of cancer and dementia. Her findings are due to be published in full in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The team believes that the different levels of flavonoids in tomatoes are due to the absence of fertilisers in organic farming. Plants produce flavonoids as a defence mechanism; they are triggered by nutrient deficiency. Feeding a plant with too many nutrients, such as inorganic nitrogen commonly found in conventional fertiliser, curbs the development of flavonoids. The lower levels of flavonoids in conventional tomatoes were caused by “over-fertilisation”, the research team concluded.
Attack of the mutant rice
2007-07-02, Fortune magazine
In the spring of 2001, a ... rice farmer named Jacko Garrett watched a fleet of 18-wheelers haul away truckloads of rice that he had grown with great care. "It just bothers me so bad," Garrett said. "I'm sitting here trying to find food to feed people, and I've got to bury five million pounds of rice." Garrett's rice was genetically modified, part of an experiment that was brought to an abrupt halt by its sponsor, a ... biotechnology company called Aventis Crop Science. The company had contracted with a handful of farmers to grow the rice, which was known as Liberty Link because its genes had been altered to resist a weed killer called Liberty, also made by Aventis. In January 2006, small amounts of genetically engineered rice turned up in a shipment that was tested ... by a French customer of Riceland Foods. Because no transgenic rice is grown commercially in the U.S., the people at Riceland were stunned. Then came another shock. Testing revealed that the genetically modified rice contained a strain of Liberty Link that had not been approved for human consumption. What's more, trace amounts of the Liberty Link had mysteriously made their way into the commercial rice supply in all five of the Southern states where long-grain rice is grown. The tainted rice was everywhere. If in the past year or so you or your family ate Uncle Ben's, Rice Krispies, or Gerber's, or drank a Budweiser ... you probably ingested a little bit of Liberty Link, with the unapproved gene. Last November, over the howls of anti-GMO activists, the USDA retroactively approved the Liberty Link rice, known as LL601. The department said the genes that it approved are similar to those inserted for years into canola and corn, with no apparent ill effects.
Note: To read a ten-page summary of Seeds of Deception, a ground-breaking exposé of the dangers of the genetic engineering of foods, click here.
A Challenge to Gene Theory, a Tougher Look at Biotech
2007-07-01, New York Times
The $73.5 billion global biotech business may soon have to grapple with a discovery that calls into question the scientific principles on which it was founded. Last month, a consortium of scientists published findings that challenge the traditional view of how genes function. The exhaustive four-year effort was organized by the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute and carried out by 35 groups from 80 organizations around the world. To their surprise, researchers found that the human genome might not be a “tidy collection of independent genes” after all, with each sequence of DNA linked to a single function, such as a predisposition to diabetes or heart disease. Instead, genes appear to operate in a complex network, and interact and overlap with one another and with other components in ways not yet fully understood. According to the institute, these findings will challenge scientists “to rethink some long-held views about what genes are and what they do.” Biologists have recorded these network effects for many years in other organisms. But in the world of science, discoveries often do not become part of mainstream thought until they are linked to humans. With that link now in place, the report is likely to have repercussions far beyond the laboratory. The presumption that genes operate independently has been institutionalized since 1976, when the first biotech company was founded. In fact, it is the economic and regulatory foundation on which the entire biotechnology industry is built. The principle that gave rise to the biotech industry promised benefits that were equally compelling. Known as the Central Dogma of molecular biology, it stated that each gene in living organisms, from humans to bacteria, carries the information needed to construct one protein.
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