What's Up With The FDA?

It seems that the FDA takes the position that, when it comes to food additives and chemical exposures, unless a substance is known to be a health hazard it can be used, until it is proved to be unsafe. Rather than do the testing before allowing a substance to be used, they put the American consumer in the position of being the research guinea pigs.

Is BPA Safe?

The suspected neurotoxin bisphenol-A (BPA) is found in many plastic food and drink containers such as baby bottles, sports bottles, bottled water, etc. BPA is known to leach out of containers into the substance it is filled with.

It is a widely held belief, of many in the scientific field, that BPA is very damaging to brain and nerve development in babies.

The FDA has seen fit to rule that BPA is safe even as most other countries are putting bans in place.

On October 23, 2008 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that internal documents from the FDA show that a task force assessment of BPA "was written largely by the plastics industry and others with a financial stake in the controversial chemical."

The newspaper reported that the American Chemistry Council a Washington DC group that represents the chemical manufacturing industry, commissioned a review of all studies of the neurotoxicity of BPA and submitted it to the FDA. The FDA then used that report as the basis for their ruling on the safety of the chemical BPA and its effects on neural, brain and behavioral development in children.

Meat Additives

Because the majority of the almost 3,000 FDA approved additives used in food have not been properly tested, prior to being approved for use, very few are ever given permanent approval. They are reevaluated as data becomes available. Most of that research is focused on the potential for an additive to cause cancer, possible allergy issues or chemical intolerance issues.

So, until an additive is shown to cause cancer, allergies, chemical sensitivities or some other medical problem the FDA allows it to be used without regard to the possible human health risks it may have.

Antibiotics

The FDA, the same government group that oversees the production and release of drugs for human usage also oversees the food industry with regard to ingredients. This includes the use of antibiotics in the production of meat for human consumption.

The FDA has approved the use of antibiotics in the meat production industry that are the same antibiotics used to treat human medical conditions. If nothing else, this FDA decision has added to the already wide spread problem of antibiotic resistance among humans.

If you've ever had a prescription for an antibiotic you doctor and then again your pharmacist cautioned you to take ALL of the medication as directed. The reason for this is that if you don't take ALL of the medication you may not kill the microorganism that's causing your illness.

If you don't kill the microorganism completely it will most likely come back when your immune system becomes weak again. Only this time it will be a little bit stronger.

If this cycle continues eventually you will require a stronger antibiotic to kill the microorganism because it has built a resistance to the original antibiotic.

Well, if you eat meat that contains antibiotics you are helping any microorganisms that are in your body, waiting for your immune system to be a little down, to build resistance. This cycle is constantly driving the drug companies to come up with stronger and more expensive antibiotics.

What happens when they come to a point that they can't make an antibiotic that's strong enough to stop an infection? We may well be on the threshold of finding out.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report in 2007 that indicates a nationwide epidemic of Mersa (MRSA) infections. The medical term for MRSA is multiple-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

MRSA has evolved to the point that is now has the ability to survive treatment with beta-lactam antibiotics, including methicillin, dicloxacillin, nafcillin, and oxacillin.

The CDC report estimated that the number of cases of MRSA infections treated in US hospitals in 1999 was 127,000 in 2005 that number was 278,000. In that same time frame the number of deaths attributed to MRSA infections went from 11,000 to more than 17,000.

For more information on MRSA and what you can do to protect yourself and your family talk with your health care provider.

Hormones

In the United States there are 6 hormones approved by the FDA for use in the beef industry. There are 3 natural hormones estradiol, progesterone and testosterone and 3 synthetic hormones melengestrol acetate, trenbolone acetate and zeranol. Either one or a combination of these hormones can be found in virtually all non-organic beef products.

There is an organization called the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) which is in charge of setting international food safety standards. The CAC reported in 1995 that they believe all hormones used in US meat production had been thoroughly tested by the FDA and proved to have no negative effects on animal or human health.

There are many scientific researchers who believe that these hormones, when used at these levels, may be responsible for developmental and reproductive concerns in humans. They are of the opinion that the use of all hormones in both dairy and meat production must be stopped until conclusive research can be completed.

A recent study commissioned by the Pentagon found that there is a potential link between Zeranol and an increase in the growth of breast cancer cells.

The European Commission (EC), which is in charge of setting food safety standards for all European countries, has prohibited any use of all six of these hormones. This ruling not only pertains to beef grown in Europe but also to imported beef as well.

The US and Canada have strongly opposed this ban on the use of these hormones for imported beef. In 1996 the US and Canada filed a formal protest. The EC requested that the Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures relating to Public Health do a study into the possible effects of the use of these 6 hormones in beef cattle.

In 1999 the Committee published their report, which they then reconfirmed the same findings again in 2000. The 2 main points of their report were that:

* There is substantial recent evidence that estradiol has to be considered to be a carcinogen as it exerts both tumor initiating and tumor promoting effects.

* All 6 hormones could be viewed as having negative endocrine, developmental, immunological, neurobiological, immunotoxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic effects.

Of greatest concern were the effects on prepubescent children.

They found that there was not enough research data available to give a quantitative estimate of risk.

The EC decided that this evidence justified their ban on the use of growth hormones in meat production and it will not be lifted. The EC decided that the evidence in this report was strong enough that they have now placed a permanent ban on the use of estradiol of any farm animals.

There has recently been yet another study at Ohio State University which found that Zeranol, at levels 30 times less than those allowed by the FDA, increased the growth rate of breast cancer cells.

GMO's

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crops consist of plants which have had their genetic structure, their DNA, modified by adding genetic material, DNA, from another organism.

These organisms need not be closely related to each other so although the end result may look the same, that particular plant, and its offspring, have been changed forever.

So, just what does that last sentence mean? It means that by virtue of this process, a plant can have part of the DNA of ANY other substance(s) added forever to its DNA.

If you've seen the Back To The Future movies, try to imagine where this GMO process might go in real life. If you haven't seen these movies, I recommend you watch them, they present some intriguing, thought provoking ideas.

These modified plants become a part of the environment changing forever a portion of nature. The long range cumulative consequences of this genetic mix could take many years to be completely understood, by which time any harmful side effects would most likely be irreversible.

This is where the problem of the GMO plant issue comes to a head. There is no data established as to what the long term effects to the environment, or to animal and human health will be.

Because of the unknown risks associated with GMO plants, all GMO's are excluded from all organic programs including livestock feed.

The two major FDA approved GMO food crops that should be of most concern to consumers are soybeans and corn (for livestock feed) with broccoli, melons, peppers, potatoes, squash, sweet corn and tomatoes to lesser extent.

Production levels of GMO crops, in the US, were estimated in 2002 at up to 50% of soybeans 40% of livestock feed corn.


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