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Toxic Levels of Arsenic Found in Popular Juice Brands

Posted by Admin on December 18, 2011

http://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/toxic-levels-of-arsenic-found-in-popular-juice-brands/

By  | December 3rd, 2011 | Category: Latest News | 51 comments

In the articles entitled Dumbing Down Society Part I: Foods, Beverages and Meds and Irrational Consumerism (or The Few Companies Who Feed the World), we looked at the many reasons why processed foods should be avoided. Not only does consuming fresh, local foods a strong political move (more productive than occupying anything in my opinion), it is more importantly the best thing you can do for your body and your brain.

Consumer Reports published this week a study revealing that toxic levels of arsenic are found in popular brand fruit juices. An old saying says “for each rat you see, there are 50 you missed” (or something of the sorts). This also probably applies to processed foods. Each time a poisonous substance is found in a food product, there are probably 50 that are not even known or mentioned. So, why not avoiding that crap? Fresh pressed juice is so much better anyway.

Arsenic in your juice. How much is too much? Federal limits don’t exist.

Arsenic has long been recognized as a poison and a contaminant in drinking water, but now concerns are growing about arsenic in foods, especially in fruit juices that are a mainstay for children.

Controversy over arsenic in apple juice made headlines as the school year began when Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” told viewers that tests he’d commissioned found 10 of three dozen apple-juice samples with total arsenic levels exceeding 10 parts per billion (ppb). There’s no federal arsenic threshold for juice or most foods, though the limit for bottled and public water is 10 ppb. The Food and Drug Administration, trying to reassure consumers about the safety of apple juice, claimed that most arsenic in juices and other foods is of the organic type that is “essentially harmless.”

But an investigation by Consumer Reports shows otherwise. Our study, including tests of apple and grape juice (download a PDF of our complete test results), a scientific analysis of federal health data, a consumer poll, and interviews with doctors and other experts, finds the following:

  • Roughly 10 percent of our juice samples, from five brands, had total arsenic levels that exceeded federal drinking-water standards. Most of that arsenic was inorganic arsenic, a known carcinogen.
  • One in four samples had lead levels higher than the FDA’s bottled-water limit of 5 ppb. As with arsenic, no federal limit exists for lead in juice.
  • Apple and grape juice constitute a significant source of dietary exposure to arsenic, according to our analysis of federal health data from 2003 through 2008.
  • Children drink a lot of juice. Thirty-five percent of children 5 and younger drink juice in quantities exceeding pediatricians’ recommendations, our poll of parents shows.
  • Mounting scientific evidence suggests that chronic exposure to arsenic and lead even at levels below water standards can result in serious health problems.
  • Inorganic arsenic has been detected at disturbing levels in other foods, too, which suggests that more must be done to reduce overall dietary exposure.

Our findings have prompted Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, to urge the FDA to set arsenic and lead standards for apple and grape juice. Our scientists believe that juice should at least meet the 5 ppb lead limit for bottled water. They recommend an even lower arsenic limit for juice: 3 ppb.

“People sometimes say, ‘If arsenic exposure is so bad, why don’t you see more people sick or dying from it?’ But the many diseases likely to be increased by exposure even at relatively low levels are so common already that its effects are overlooked simply because no one has looked carefully for the connection,” says Joshua Hamilton, Ph.D., a toxicologist specializing in arsenic research and the chief academic and scientific officer at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

As our investigation found, when scientists and doctors do look, the connections they’ve found underscore the need to protect public health by reducing Americans’ exposure to this potent toxin.

Many sources of exposure

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element that can contaminate groundwater used for drinking and irrigation in areas where it’s abundant, such as parts of New England, the Midwest, and the Southwest. See the map from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) showing test results of arsenic levels in groundwater throughout the United States.

But the public’s exposure to arsenic extends beyond those areas because since 1910, the United States has used roughly 1.6 million tons of it for agricultural and other industrial uses. About half of that cumulative total has been used since only the mid-1960s. Lead-arsenate insecticides were widely used in cotton fields, orchards, and vineyards until their use was banned in the 1980s. But residues in the soil can still contaminate crops.

For decades, arsenic was also used in a preservative for pressure-treated lumber commonly used for decks and playground equipment. In 2003 that use was banned, (as was most residential use) but the wood can contribute to arsenic in groundwater when it’s recycled as mulch.

Other sources of exposure include coal-fired power plants and smelters that heat arsenic-containing ores to process copper or lead. Today the quantity of arsenic released into the environment in the United States by human activities is three times more than that released from natural sources, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

The form of arsenic in the examples above is inorganic arsenic. It’s a carcinogen known to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer in people and to increase risks of cardiovascular disease, immunodeficiencies, and type 2 diabetes.

The other form that arsenic takes is organic arsenic, created when arsenic binds to molecules containing carbon. Fish can contain an organic form of arsenic called arsenobetaine, generally considered nontoxic to humans. But questions have been raised about the human health effects of other types of organic arsenic in foods, including juice.

Use of organic arsenic in agricultural products has also caused concern. For instance, the EPA in 2006 took steps to stop the use of herbicides containing organic arsenic because of their potential to turn into inorganic arsenic in soil and contaminate drinking water. And in 2011, working with the FDA, drug company Alpharma agreed to suspend the sale of Roxarsone, a poultry-feed additive, because it contained an organic form of arsenic that could convert into inorganic arsenic inside the bird, potentially contaminating the meat. Or it could contaminate soil when chicken droppings are used as fertilizer. Other arsenic feed additives are still being used.

What our tests found

We went shopping in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York in August and September, buying 28 apple juices and three grape juices. Our samples came from ready-to-drink bottles, juice boxes, and cans of concentrate. For most juices, we bought three different lot numbers to assess variability. (For some juices, we couldn’t find three lots, so we tested one or two.) In all, we tested 88 samples.

Five samples of apple juice and four of grape juice had total arsenic levels exceeding the 10 ppb federal limit for bottled and drinking water. Levels in the apple juices ranged from 1.1 to 13.9 ppb, and grape-juice levels were even higher, 5.9 to 24.7 ppb. Most of the total arsenic in our samples was inorganic, our tests showed.

As for lead, about one fourth of all juice samples had levels at or above the 5-ppb limit for bottled water. The top lead level for apple juice was 13.6 ppb; for grape juice, 15.9 ppb.

The following brands had at least one sample of apple juice that exceeded 10 ppb: Apple & Eve, Great Value (Walmart), and Mott’s. For grape juice, at least one sample from Walgreens and Welch’s exceeded that threshold. And these brands had one or more samples of apple juice that exceeded 5 ppb of lead: America’s Choice (A&P), Gerber, Gold Emblem (CVS), Great Value, Joe’s Kids (Trader Joe’s), Minute Maid, Seneca, and Walgreens. At least one sample of grape juice exceeding 5 ppb of lead came from Gold Emblem, Walgreens, and Welch’s. Our findings provide a spot check of a number of local juice aisles, but they can’t be used to draw general conclusions about arsenic or lead levels in any particular brand. Even within a single tested brand, levels of arsenic and lead sometimes varied widely. To see our complete test results for all 88 samples, download this PDF.

Arsenic-tainted soil in U.S. orchards is a likely source of contamination for apples, and finding lead with arsenic in juices that we tested is not surprising. Even with a ban on lead-arsenate insecticides, “we are finding problems with some Washington state apples, not because of irresponsible farming practices now but because lead-arsenate pesticides that were used here decades ago remain in the soil,” says Denise Wilson, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Washington who has tested apple juices and discovered elevated arsenic levels even in brands labeled organic.

Over the years, a shift has occurred in how juice sold in America is produced. To make apple juice, manufacturers often blend water with apple-juice concentrate from multiple sources. For the past decade, most concentrate has come from China (PDF). Concerns have been raised about the possible continuing use of arsenical pesticides there, and several Chinese provinces that are primary apple-growing regions are known to have high arsenic concentrations in groundwater.

A much bigger test than ours would be needed to establish any correlation between elevated arsenic or lead levels and the juice concentrate’s country of origin. Samples we tested included some made from concentrate from multiple countries including Argentina, China, New Zealand, South Africa, and Turkey; others came from a single country. A few samples solely from the United States had elevated levels of lead or arsenic, and others did not. The same was true for samples containing only Chinese concentrate.

The FDA has been collecting its own data to see whether it should set guidelines to continue to ensure the safety of apple juice, a spokeswoman told us.

The Juice Products Association said, “We are committed to providing nutritious and safe fruit juices to consumers and will comply with limits established by the agency.”

Answering a crucial question

We also wanted to know whether people who drink juice end up being exposed to more arsenic than those who don’t.

So we commissioned an analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), conducted annually by the National Center for Health Statistics. Information is collected on the health and nutrition of a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, based on interviews and physical exams that may include a blood or urine test. Officials and researchers often use the data to determine risk factors for major diseases and develop public health policy. In fact, data on lead in the blood of NHANES participants were instrumental in developing policies that have successfully resulted in lead being removed from gasoline.

Our analysis was led by Richard Stahlhut, M.D., M.P.H., an environmental health researcher at the University of Rochester with expertise in NHANES data, working with Consumer Reports statisticians. Ana Navas-Acien, M.D., Ph.D., a physician—epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, also provided guidance. She was the lead author of a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (PDF) that first linked low-level arsenic exposure with the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the United States.

Stahlhut reviewed NHANES data from 2003 through 2008 from participants tested for total urinary arsenic who reported their food and drink consumption for 24 hours the day before their NHANES visit. Because most ingested arsenic is excreted in urine, the best measure of recent exposure is a urine test.

Following Navas-Acien’s advice, we excluded from our NHANES analysis anyone with results showing detectable levels of arsenobetaine, the organic arsenic in seafood. That made the results we analyzed more likely to represent inorganic arsenic, of greatest concern in terms of potential health risks.

The resulting analysis of almost 3,000 study participants found that those reporting apple-juice consumption had on average 19 percent greater levels of total urinary arsenic than those subjects who did not, and those who reported drinking grape juice had 20 percent higher levels. The results might understate the correlation between juice consumption and urinary arsenic levels because NHANES urinary data exclude children younger than 6, who tend to be big juice drinkers.

“The current analysis suggests that these juices may be an important contributor to dietary arsenic exposure,” says Keeve Nachman, Ph.D., a risk scientist at the Center for a Livable Future and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, both at Johns Hopkins University. “It would be prudent to pursue measures to understand and limit young children’s exposures to arsenic in juice.”

Robert Wright, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of pediatrics and environmental health at Harvard University who specializes in research on the effect of heavy-metals exposure in children, says that findings from our juice tests and database analysis concern him: “Because of their small size, a child drinking a box of juice would consume a larger per-body-weight dose of arsenic than an adult drinking the exact same box of juice. Those brands with elevated arsenic should investigate the source and eliminate it.”

A chronic problem

Arsenic has been notoriously used as a poison since ancient times. A fatal poisoning would require a single dose of inorganic arsenic about the weight of a postage stamp. But chronic toxicity can result from long-term exposure to much lower levels in food, and even to water that meets the 10-ppb drinking-water limit.

2004 study of children in Bangladesh (PDF) suggested diminished intelligence based on test scores in children exposed to arsenic in drinking water at levels above 5 ppb, says study author Joseph Graziano, Ph.D., a professor of environmental health sciences and pharmacology at Columbia University. He’s now conducting similar research with children living in New Hampshire and Maine, where arsenic levels of 10 to 100 ppb are commonly found in well water, to determine whether better nutrition in the United States affects the results.

People with private wells may face greater risks than those on public systems because they’re responsible for testing and treating their own water. In Maine, where almost half the population relies on private wells, the USGS found arsenic levels in well water as high as 3,100 ppb.

And a study published in 2011 (PDF) in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health examined the long-term effects of low-level exposure on more than 300 rural Texans whose groundwater was estimated to have arsenic at median levels below the federal drinking-water standard. It found that exposure was related to poor scores in language, memory, and other brain functions.

Symptoms of chronic exposure

Chronic arsenic exposure can initially cause gastrointestinal problems and skin discoloration or lesions. Exposure over time, which the World Health Organization says could be five to 20 years, could increase the risk of various cancers and high blood pressure, diabetes, and reproductive problems.

Signs of chronic low-level arsenic exposure can be mistaken for other ailments such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Usually the connection to arsenic exposure is not made immediately, as Sharyn Duffy of Geneseo, N.Y., discovered. She visited a doctor in 2007 about pain and skin changes on the sole of her left foot. She was referred to a podiatrist and eventually received a diagnosis of hyperkeratosis, in which lesions develop or thick skin forms on the palms or soles of the feet. It can be among the earliest symptoms of chronic arsenic poisoning. But she says it was roughly two years before she was finally referred to a neurologist, who suggested testing for arsenic. She had double the typical levels.

“Testing for arsenic isn’t part of a routine checkup,” says Duffy, a retiree. “When you come in with symptoms like I had, ordering that kind of test probably wouldn’t even occur to most doctors.”

Michael Harbut, M.D., chief of the environmental cancer program at Karmanos Institute in Detroit, says, “Given what we know about the wide range of arsenic exposure sources we have in this country, I suspect there is an awful lot of chronic, low-level arsenic poisoning going on that’s never properly diagnosed.”

Emerging research suggests that when arsenic exposure occurs in the womb or in early childhood, it not only increases cancer risks later in life but also can cause lasting harm to children’s developing brains and endocrine and immune systems, leading to other diseases, too.

Case in point: From 1958 through 1970, residents of Antofagasta, Chile, wereexposed to naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water (PDF) that peaked at almost 1,000 ppb before an arsenic removal plant was installed. Studies led by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that people born during that period who had probable exposure in the womb and during early childhood had a lung-cancer death rate six times higher than those in their age group elsewhere in Chile. Their rate of death in their 30s and 40s from another form of lung disease was almost 50 times higher than for people without that arsenic exposure.

“Recent studies have shown that early-childhood exposure to arsenic carries the most serious long-term risk,” says Joshua Hamilton of the Marine Biological Laboratory. “So even though reducing arsenic exposure is important for everyone, we need to pay special attention to protecting pregnant moms, babies, and young kids.”

Other dietary exposures

In addition to juice, foods including chicken, rice, and even baby food have been found to contain arsenic—sometimes at higher levels than the amounts found in juice. Brian Jackson, Ph.D., an analytical chemist and research associate professor at Dartmouth College, presented his findings at a June 2011 scientific conference in Aberdeen, Scotland. He reported finding up to 23 ppb of arsenic in lab tests of name-brand jars of baby food, with inorganic arsenic representing 70 to 90 percent of those total amounts.

Similar results turned up in a 2004 study conducted by FDA scientists in Cincinnati, who found arsenic levels of up to 24 ppb in baby food, with sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and peaches containing only the inorganic form. A United Kingdom study published in 2008 (PDF) found that the levels of inorganic arsenic in 20-ounce packets of dried infant rice cereals ranged from 60 to 160 ppb. Rice-based infant cereals are often the first solid food that babies eat.

Rice frequently contains high levels of inorganic arsenic because it is among plants that are unusually efficient at taking up arsenic from the soil and incorporating it in the grains people eat. Moreover, much of the rice produced in the U.S. is grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas, on land formerly used to grow cotton, where arsenical pesticides were used for decades.

“Initially, in some regions rice planted there produced little grain due to these arsenical pesticides, but farmers then bred a type of rice specifically designed to produce high yields on the contaminated soil,” says Andrew Meharg, professor of biogeochemistry at the University of Aberdeen, in Scotland. Meharg studies human exposures to arsenic in the environment. His research over the past six years has shown that U.S. rice has among the highest average inorganic arsenic levels in the world—almost three times higher than levels in Basmati rice imported from low-arsenic areas of Nepal, India, and Pakistan. Rice from Egypt has the lowest levels of all.

Infant rice cereal for the U.S. market is generally made from U.S. rice, Meharg says, but labeling usually doesn’t specify country of origin. He says exposure to arsenic through infant rice cereals could be reduced greatly if cereal makers used techniques that don’t require growing rice in water-flooded paddies or if they obtained rice from low-arsenic areas. His 2007 study (PDF) found that median arsenic levels in California rice were 41 percent lower than levels in rice from the south-central U.S.

Setting federal standards

Evidence of arsenic’s ability to cause cancer and other life-threatening illnesses has surged because some of the diseases linked to it have latency periods of several decades. Only recently have scientists been able to more fully measure the effects in populations that were exposed to elevated levels of arsenic in drinking water many years ago.

The Environmental Protection Agency periodically revises its assessment of the toxicity of various chemicals to offer guidance on drinking-water standards. Based on such a review, the agency changed the water standard for arsenic to 10 ppb, effective in 2006, from the 50-ppb limit it set in 1975. The EPA had proposed a 5-ppb limit in 2000, so the current limit is a compromise that came only after years of haggling over the costs of removing arsenic. Since 2006, New Jersey has had a 5-ppb threshold, advising residents that water with arsenic levels above that shouldn’t be used for drinking or cooking.

For known human carcinogens such as inorganic arsenic, the EPA assumes there’s actually no “safe” level of exposure, so it normally sets exposure limits that include a margin of safety to ideally allow for only one additional case of cancer in a million people, or at worst, no more than one in 10,000. For water with 10 ppb of arsenic, the excess cancer risk is one in 500.

Debate over that standard is likely to begin anew. The agency’s latest draft report, from February 2010, proposes that the number used to calculate the cancer risk posed by ingesting inorganic arsenic be increased 17-fold to reflect arsenic’s role in causing bladder and lung cancer. The proposal “suggests that arsenic’s carcinogenic properties have been underestimated for a long time and that the federal drinking-water standard is underprotective based on current science,” says Keeve Nachman, the Johns Hopkins scientist.

Each year the FDA tests a variety of foods and beverages for arsenic and other contaminants. It also started a program in 2005 to test for specific toxins such as arsenic and lead in domestic and imported products. As of late November, that program had published results for 160 samples of apple juice and concentrate. And the agency can alert inspectors at U.S. ports to conduct increased surveillance for products suspected to pose risks. Currently there’s an alert for increased surveillance of apple concentrate from China and six other countries “where we have a suspicion there may be high levels of arsenic in their products,” says FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao. But in fiscal 2010, the agency conducted physical inspections of only 2 percent of imported food shipments. For more about the FDA’s tests, read our update and download a PDF of our complete test results.

Consumers Union urges federal officials to set a standard for total arsenic in apple and grape juice. Our research suggests that the standard should be 3 ppb. Concerning lead, juice should at least meet the bottled-water standard of 5 ppb. Such standards would better protect children, who are most vulnerable to the effects of arsenic and lead. And they’re achievable levels: 41 percent of the samples we tested met both thresholds.

Moreover, the EPA should impose stricter drinking-water standards for arsenic, Consumers Union believes. (The drinking-water threshold for lead is 15 ppb, which acknowledges that many older homes have water pipes or solder with lead.) Officials should also ban arsenic in pesticides, animal-feed additives, and fertilizers.

As our tests show, sources of lead haven’t been eliminated, but dramatic progress has been made: Since the 1970s, average blood lead levels in children younger than 6 have dropped by about 90 percent, thanks to a federal ban on lead in house paint and gas. The U.S. should be equally aggressive with arsenic, suggests Joseph Graziano at Columbia University. “We tackled every source, from gasoline to paint to solder in food cans,” he says, “and we should be just as vigilant in preventing arsenic from entering our food and water because the consequences of exposure are enormous for adults as well as children.”

How much juice do children drink?

Too many children drink too much juice, according to our poll of parents. One in four toddlers 2 and younger and 45 percent of children ages 3 to 5 drink 7 or more ounces of juice a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that to help prevent obesity and tooth decay, children younger than 6 should drink no more than 6 ounces a day, about the size of a juice box. (Infants younger than 6 months shouldn’t drink any.) The possible presence of arsenic or lead in juices is all the more reason to stick with those nutrition-based limits.

Our findings are from 555 telephone interviews in October with parents, who were asked about children’s juice consumption the previous day. Totals don’t equal 100 percent because some said they didn’t know how much juice their kids drank.

Arsenic can contaminate groundwater used for drinking and irrigation in areas where it is geologically abundant and in other areas where chemical conditions are likely to cause it to dissolve into water. Levels can vary widely throughout the United States, as illustrated in the map at right showing arsenic measurements for groundwater samples from about 31,000 wells and springs in 49 states compiled by the USGS. Click on the word “Interactive” on the map to learn about arsenic levels where you live. (To view the map, your computer or other device requires Flash.)

Orange or red symbols on the map indicate areas where samples contained arsenic at levels exceeding the federal limit of 10 micrograms per liter, or 10 parts per billion (ppb) for public drinking water.

Public-water-supply systems are required to treat water that tests high in arsenic so that it meets federal limits before delivering it to consumers. And in New Jersey, public water systems must meet an even stricter limit of 5 ppb. But if you have a private well rather than a public system, you are responsible for testing and treating it.

To learn more about why it’s so important to reduce your exposure to even relatively low levels of arsenic in your drinking water, check out this helpful videoproduced by the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program. And for tips on how to get your water tested and how to select a home treatment system, read “Ways to Reduce Your Family’s Risk.”

The 31,000 groundwater samples represented in this map were collected for studies on potable groundwater resources by the USGS, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Texas Water Development Commission, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the six New England states. Estimation of the arsenic concentration in groundwater in any specific area must consider the following limitations and sources of variability:

• The data include a variety of well types, including private wells, public-supply wells, and monitoring wells not used for water supply.

• These groundwater samples do not represent drinking water served by public-water-supply systems because these utilities may treat or mix groundwater with high arsenic concentrations from individual wells with water containing lower arsenic levels in order to meet drinking water standards before delivering it to consumers.

• The appearance of the arsenic distribution is influenced by the order in which wells are plotted. In this map, wells with higher concentrations are drawn on top of those with more moderate concentrations. This overplotting may exaggerate the frequency of high values in areas where wells are close together. But given the risks posed by arsenic exposure, we opted in favor of making areas with elevated arsenic visible whenever possible to encourage private well owners in those areas to test and treat their water to reduce exposure risks.

• Arsenic concentration may vary with depth within the same aquifer, or between aquifers that are stacked vertically—for example, a shallow sand and gravel aquifer can overlie a deeper bedrock aquifer. The map does not show the vertical distribution of arsenic.

• Many of the wells were sampled more than once, but evaluation of the data indicates that there is no relation between arsenic concentration and time tested for most of the wells.

With these qualifications in mind, the data above provides an estimate of arsenic occurrence in the groundwater resource in general. Visit the USGS for additional information on the studies behind the map, along with more detailed maps for various portions of the country.

– Source: Consumer Reports

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How to Manufacture a Disease

Posted by Admin on December 27, 2010

http://inthesetimes.com/article/6740/

By TERRY J. ALLEN

Disasters can spark lawsuits. Faced with litigation, pharmaceutical corporations must cough up data—and sometimes choke on it.

After the FDA approves a new drug, it rarely faces follow-up studies that might reveal serious and possibly fatal side effects. Some dangers remain hidden for years until an accumulation of disasters sparks lawsuits. Faced with litigation, corporations must cough up data—and sometimes choke on it.

A suit against drug maker Wyeth freed 1,500 documents that yielded “unprecedented insights into how pharmaceutical companies promote drugs,” wrote Adrianne Fugh-Berman in a September study in PLoS Medicine. The 14,000 plaintiffs who took the menopausal hormone therapy (HT) Prempro claim that Wyeth distorted study results and hid evidence of harm. Some patients traded the temporary inconvenience of hot flashes for the permanent inconvenience of death.

It was not as if Wyeth didn’t have reason to suspect serious risk. In 1975, an eight-fold increase in endometrial cancer was linked to estrogen use. To counter this side effect, Wyeth added progesterone and created Prempro. But the new combo not only failed to prevent cardiovascular disease, it increased the risk of breast cancer, stroke, dementia and incontinence, according to the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study.

For decades Wyeth had promoted HT and the diseasification of menopause through tried and true schemes: First, it redefined a normal process—in this case aging and menopause—as an illness treatable with drugs. After cherry picking studies, some conducted off-shore, it hired specialized companies to ghostwrite favorable articles for medical journals, and paid doctors to sign their names—thus creating the impression that independent researchers, not hacks-for-hire, had authored the articles.

“Wyeth used ghostwritten articles to mitigate the perceived risks of breast cancer associated with HT, to defend the unsupported cardiovascular ‘benefits’ of HT, and to promote off-label, unproven uses of HT such as the prevention of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, vision problems, and wrinkles,” Fugh-Berman concluded.

DesignWrite, Wyeth’s hired ghostwriting outfit, boasts “long experience in blending scientific and clinical issues with marketing needs.” It cranked out more than 100 articles and presentations for journals and symposia touting Prempro’s virtues, and then paid prominent doctors and researchers who contributed little more than their names.

A particularly lucrative medical market, with a history of recalls and scandal, is the $200 billion U.S. medical device industry for replacement joints, pacemakers and CT scanners. Fugh-Berman’s study of conflicts of interest, using disclosures forced by government investigations, revealed that in the year ending in January 2009, five medical device companies doled out 1,654 payments to orthopedic surgeons and researchers that totaled more than $248 million. Fewer than half the experts who published articles dealing with the “donor” company’s products disclosed their financial relationship.

Big pharma’s stake in cooking the books is obvious, but why are medical journals complicit? One reason is that unlike most of the web, most medical journal sites protect their material behind a sturdy pay wall, and may charge up to $40 per reprint. Drug companies sometimes buy up thousands of product-favorable reprints to distribute free to doctors, thereby providing a cash incentive to journals that publish articles likely to be reprinted.

If journal articles are insufficiently laudatory as marketing vehicles, drug companies can turn to supplements. Separately bound, these publications bear the journal’s name, but are industry produced and rarely peer-reviewed. Wyeth, for example, mailed its pro-Prempro supplement with the journal Women’s Health in Primary Care to 128,000 physicians.

In 2000, big pharma firms spent more than $15.7 billion promoting prescription drugs in the United States. Like other mega corporations, they have great advantages over citizens: They are rich, powerful, protected by laws and tax rules, and given the rights of people while shielded from many of the responsibilities. On our side, we have timid or weak politicians and bureaucrats, activist organizations and the ability to sue. Unfortunately, lawsuits tend to punish rather than prevent. But the deterrent effect of large settlements, the bad PR and the discovery of data and records are nonetheless components in mitigating the epidemic of corporate greed.

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Terry J. Allen, an In These Times senior editor, has written the magazine’s monthly investigative health and science column since 2005. how_to_manufacture_a_disease/

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Bill C-36 and India Food Law! Nov 2/10

Posted by Admin on November 7, 2010

Template for Template:Food safety

Template for Food & Safety

Tuesday, 02 November 2010 13:15

CDSAPI’s Added Comment: This article by Vandana Shiva, written when India was faced with a law similar to Bill C-36 (Canada, to empower Health Canada) and Bill S-510 (USA, to empower the FDA), is a must read. If you have found these laws difficult to comprehend, and have failed to see the “alarm factor” in their passage, Vandana Shiva clearly delineates the disastrous fallout consequences (indeed, the hidden agenda and intention) of these Corporate-driven, draconian, pseudo Consumer Food and Product Safety Laws.

Please read this article in its entirety to get a full grasp of the complete and inevitable destructive impact that follows in the wake of these “safety” laws, which “international HARMonization” (WTO) demands of all signatory countries. Bill C 36 and similar concurrent laws are bureaucratic monstrosities of regulatory dictatorship, giving free license to monopoly corporations, while mandating the destruction of local enterprise and sustainability, criminalizing that which is inherently safe, healthy and local, and deregulating the Corporate toxic and health destructive. The local food which you now take for granted, and those who produce it, are about to be criminalized through these fake and fraudulent “consumer safety regulations”.

Look at what happened in India, and see where Bill C 36 is taking the consumer and the local producers in Canada. Take Note! BELIEVE IT! Don’t allow it!!

Bill C 36 has just passed Third Reading in Parliament (because there was not enough public awareness and protest – and media silence) and MUST NOW BE STOPPED in the SENATE!!! It must never be allowed to become LAW in Canada! We cannot permit “citizen democracy and national sovereignty” to be usurped by Global Corporate Dictatorship – through the Dictatorship of Internatioanl Corporate Regulations implemented under the fraudulent camouflage of “citizen safety and protection.”

Inga Canadian Health Network cdsapi@shaw.ca

Highlights have been added ———————

The Law For Food Facism

By Vandana Shiva

22 February, 2005

Food laws and Food Safety for India’s diverse and local food economy

The Government has drafted a Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005 as an “Integrated Food Law” which has been prepared with the intention to be contemporary, comprehensive, and ensure better consumer safety through food safety management systems and settling standards based on science and transparency as also meeting the dynamic requirements of international trade and Indian Food Trade and Industry. Clearly, the law has been designed to lubricate international trade and the expansion of the global agribusiness. Consumer health, nutrition, and food culture are not even mentioned as objectives of the integrated food law.

PFA needs strengthening, not dismantling

The case in the Indian Supreme Court filed by the Centre for public interest litigation shows how Coke and Pepsi are violating the Prevention of Food Adulteration Acts. We need strengthening the PFA, not diluting it or dismantling it through a new Food Law which floods India with toxics in foods and replaces our strict PFA and our natural food systems with toxic processed food. That is why we must reject the integrated food law which through Article 102 (overriding effect of this Act over all other food related laws) states

The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.

In effect, the Food Safety Law 2005 is a dismantling of the PFA. It is in effect the legalizing of adulteration of our entire food system with toxic chemicals and industrial processing.

There is no reference in the objectives to most distinctive aspects of India’s food systems – indigenous science, cultural diversity and economic livelihoods in local food provisioning. Ninety nine per cent of India’s food is processed naturally and locally for local consumption and sale. Our science of food is based on Ayurveda, not the reductionist science which has treated unhealthy food as safe. This “free economy” that serves local community is governed by community control, and local culture, is now to be regulated by the centralized rules and standards appropriate for a 1% industrialized large scale manufacture. The “integrated Food Law” is a law to dismantle our diverse, decentralized food economy.

We need stronger food safety laws, especially in the context of toxics in food and the introduction of GMOs in food crops. The Prevention of Food Adulteration Act needs to be strengthened, not substituted by the proposed law.

Industrial food systems produce food hazards and disease

The case of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola selling soft drinks with phosphoric acid, ethylene glycol, and huge amounts of sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup shows that industrial food producers need to be regulated with strict safety laws designed through democratic participation. The report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee following the disclosure of pesticides in soft drinks by the Centre for Science and Environment, as well as recent studies published in a large number of medical journals have clearly indicated that soft drink manufacturers have been using significant quantities of very harmful and toxic chemicals in their drinks in order to make them more attractive and addictive. They have been clearly pushing their sales and profits at the cost of public health. The sustained attempt by the Coke-Pepsi companies to refuse to disclose the contents and ingredients of their drinks, is clear Coke-Pepsi are refusing to abide by the order of the Rajasthan High Court ordering Coke-Pepsi to disclose the contents of their drinks (including pesticides) on Coke-Pepsi labels, and instead are resorting to endless review petitions and appeals. In fact the requirement to disclose the ingredients of all packaged food items on their labels has been there in the Prevention of Food Adulteration rules for a long time. The fact that it has not been enforced again shows how Coke-Pepsi subvert and undermine our national laws.

It is now known that most soft drinks contain an extremely toxic brew of chemicals which are now known to be very harmful to human health. Apart from pesticides, the chemicals which are deliberately added include large quantities of phosphoric Acid (added to give them ‘bite’), caffeine (added to make them addictive), large quantities of sugar (to make it extra sweet), ethylene glycol (an extremely toxic and freeze compound added to allow them to be drunk ‘extra chilled’ at sub zero temperatures) and Carbon Dioxide.

Food safety is a growing concern with the industrialisaiton and globalisation of food. Food related diseases have spread.

As Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University, London reports, “incidence of food borne disease has in fact risen during the era of the productionist Paradigm. In West Germany cases of infections S.Enterites rose from 11 per 100,000 head of population in 1963 to 193 per 100,000 in 1999, in England and Wales formal notifications of the same disease rose from 14,253 cases in 1987 to 86,528 in 2000.”

Food hazards have increased with industrialization of food production and processing. As Colin Tudge observes “the modern food supply chain is convoluted and so long that it allows endless opportunities for malpractice of all kinds – including many that beggar the imagination of those who are not criminally inclined. The supply chain is impossible to police because it is so complex, and because policing is so expensive (and nobody wants to pick up the bill – certainly not the governments who win votes by keeping the price of food down). Sometimes though, it is not at all easy to draw a line between outright villainy (like the adding of contaminants) from the standard, legitimate practices of the modern food industry.

On a global scale, new diseases are emerging and more virulent forms of old diseases are growing as globalisation spreads factory farming and industrial processing and agriculture. Disease epidemics and food hazards are the outcome of food production methods based on hazardous inputs and processes.

In the U.K., more than 2 million cattle were found to be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephelopathy (BSE) — the mad cow disease. By August 2002, 133 people had died from variant Creutz feld-Jacob Disease (VCJD) – the human equivalent of BSE .

New strains of Ecoli 0157 have led to 75 million cases of food poisoning annually in the US, resulting in 325,000 hospitalisation and 5000 deaths.

The Swine fever in Asia led to killing of millions of pigs. A newly emerged Nipah Strain killed 100 pig farm workers, infected 150 with non-fatal encephalitis and led to the slaughter of a million pigs to control the disease .

The Avian flu has already led to human deaths and the killing of millions of ducks and chicken. The first sightings of the H5N1 virus behind the Avian influenza came in November. The epidemic has spread to 10 countries. The disease has jumped from chickens to humans and killed eight people in Vietnam and Thailand. In 1997 the H5N1 Strain killed six people in Hong Kong .

Food production technologies have undergone two generations of changes over the last few decades. The first shift in food production technologies was the introduction of chemicals in agriculture under the banner of the Green Revolution. Toxic chemicals used in warfare were deployed in agriculture in times of peace as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Agriculture and food production became dependent on “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The Bhopal disaster in which a leak from a pesticide plant killed thousands in 1984, and has killed nearly 30,000 since then, is the most tragic reminder of how agriculture has become dependent on war technologies designed to kill.

Genetic Engineering will introduce new food hazards.

New traits of viral promoter, antibiotic resistance markers being introduced in GM foods need public approval and strict monitoring for safety.

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho in “Genetic Engineering: Dream or Nightmare? (1999) has identified the following risks to human health from genetically engineered foods.

> Toxic or allergenic effects due to transgene products or interactions of transgene with host genes.

> Vector-mediated spread of antibiotic resistance marker genes to gut bacteria and to pathogens.

> Vector-mediated spread of virulence among pathogens across species by horizontal gene-transfer and recombination.

> Potential for vector-mediated horizontal gene transfer and recombination to create new pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

> Potential of vector-mediated infected cells after ingestion of transgenic foods, to regenerate disease viruses, or for the vector to insert itself into the cell’s genome causing harmful or lethal effects including cancer.

While Toxic and GM foods need stricter laws, local, natural processing in small dhabas, small outlets cannot be subjected to industrial regulation, both because they are not a source of toxic threat and because they are not centralized producers needing centralized regulation.

Whose Safety Rules ? Whose Standards?

However, while food hazards grow, food safety laws are being shaped which deregulate large corporations and over-regulate the small scale self organized economy. Such industrial food safety standards promote large scale globalised production, and act against local foods. These laws are also the basis of the Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary Agreement of WTO. An example of these inappropriate standards was used to destroy India’s diverse, decentralize edible oil industry.

In August 1998, a new packaging order was introduced for edible oils on grounds of food safety which shut down millions of small scale local oil mills and local edible oils like mustard. Combined with WTO trade rules of removing import restrictions, the laws of false food safety flooded India’s markets with oil from genetically engineered soyabeans.

India has used the coconut, groundnut, linseed, mustard, sunflower, and sesame for edible oil. Biodiversity has gone hand in hand with cultural diversity.

The main consequence of the mustard oil ban and the ban on sale of edible oils in unpackaged forms is the destruction of our oilseed biodiversity and the diversity of our edible oils and food cultures. It is also a destruction of economic democracy and economic freedom to produce oils locally, according to locally available resources, and locally appropriate food culture.

Since indigenous oilseeds are high in oil content, they can be processed at household or community level, with ecofriendly, decentralized and democractic technologies.

Soyabean oil is based on concentration of poor, from the seed, to trade, to processing and packaging. Monsanto controls seeds through its patents and its ownership of seed corporations. Cargill, Continental and other trading giants control the trade and milling operations internationally. Because of its low oil content, the extraction of soyabean oil needs heavy processing which is environmentally unfriendly and unsafe for health.

Pseudo safety standards destroy safe and healthy oils and have flooded the market with unhealthy hazardous oils.

Mustard oil and our indigenous oilseeds symbolize freedom for nature, for our farmers, our diverse food cultures and the rights of poor consumers.

Soyabean oil symbolizes concentration of power and the colonization of nature, cultures, farmers and consumers.

The manipulation of oil prices and the restrictions put on indigenous oilseed processing and sales are forcing Indians to consume soyabean oil and thus further strengthen a monoculture and monopoly system.

Free trade and economic globalisation has been projected as economic freedom for all. However, as the case of the mustard oil crisis and soyabean imports reveals, so called free trade is based on many levels of destruction of economic freedom of small producers, processors and poor consumers.

Small farmers are loosing their freedom to grow the diverse oilseeds adapted to their soils, ecosystems and cultures. With new patent laws, they will be forced to pay royalties for seeds and will be further pushed into poverty.

Small processors of eco-friendly and safe edible oil are being rendered illegal through new laws like the ‘packaging’ order which is in effect an instrument of market take-over of big industry.

Further, while the rhetoric of free trade is that the government should step out of business, the decision on free import of soyabean, the packaging order and the proposed Food Safety Act reveal how the government is a major player in the transfer of production from small scale decentralized systems to large scale, centralized systems under monopoly control.

The state in fact is the backbone of the free trade order. The only difference is that instead of regulating big business, it leaves big business free, and declares small producers and diverse cultures illegal so that big business has monopoly control on the food system.

The asymmetric treatment of the small and the big is also evident in the regulation of food safety.

While the government reacted immediately to ban mustard oil, it has done nothing to prevent the dumping of toxic, genetically engineered soyabean. Adulteration in various forms undertaken by the global players gets protection rather than punishment from governments, in India, in the U.S., and across the world. This is why the PFA is being dismantled to legalise adulteration with toxic chemicals and toxic genes.

The highest level political and economic conflicts between freedom and slavery, democracy and dictatorship, diversity and monoculture have thus entered into the simple acts of buying edible oils and cooking our food. Will the future of India’s edible oil culture be based on mustard and other edible oil seeds or will it become part of the globalised monoculture of soyabean with its associated but hidden food hazards.

In Europe too the food safety laws were threatening small producers of typical foods. For example, Slow Food organised half a million signatures that forced the Italian government to amend a law that would have forced even the smallest food maker to conform to the pseudo hygienic standards that suit corporations like Kraft Foods.

Need for pluralism to protect food livelihoods and diverse food cultures

Local natural organically processed food is not the same as chemically processed food which is different from genetically engineered food. Different foods have different safety risks and need different safety laws and different systems of management. That is why in Europe there are different standards for organic, for industrial and genetically engineered foods. Organic standards are set by organic movements while the standards for genetic engineering are set at European level through the Novel Food laws. There is in addition the movement to protect cultural diversity of food, which is destroyed when industrial food processing standards are applied. Cultural diversity is protected through “unique” and “typical” foods. Carving out these spaces of freedom in the face of a globalised industrial food economy has been the contribution of the Slow Food Movement. These standards are cultural, based on indigenous science and community control, not industrial “science” and controlled by central government manipulated by Food giants like Cargill, ConAgra, Lever, Nestle, Phillip Morris and Gene Giants like Monsanto.

India, like Europe, needs 3 different laws governed at different levels for different food systems based on different production processes which produce different foods.

1. An organic processing law for local, natural small scale food processing governed by gramsabhas, panchayats and local communities. In cities this could be based on licensing by resident welfare associations as Urban Panchayats, and local municipalities. Community control through citizen participation is the real guarantee for safety.

2. An industrial processing law which already exists and is the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. This could be updated to deal with new food hazards. It should definitely not be dismantled.

3. A GMO food law which controls imports, labeling, segregation, traceability etc. This is the new law that the consumers need. This law should be drafted by the Central Government, but states and local communities should be free to introduce stricter standards. If regions want to be GMO free, this should be allowed under the principles of decentralized democracy.

However, the central government cannot try to license the last dhaba in India. It will unleash the worst form of license and inspector raj. It will establish a food facism based on food mafia, serving global corporations. It will destroy our food freedom, livelihoods, our food safety, our food diversity. The proposed integrated food safety law will be used to criminalise every tiny dhabawala and street vendor who are not introducing obesity and diabetes, cancer and heart disease in our society. They are providing safe, affordable dal and roti to millions of working people.

Since different food systems need different levels of management for safety, it is totally inappropriate to lump together all kinds of food – organic, industrial, GMOs into one category as is done in Def 3 (k) which treat all food providers as the same. “Food business” means any undertaking, whether for profit or not, and whether public or private, carrying out any of the activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food and includes import, export and sale of food and food service providers.

How food is processed determines its quality, nutrition, safety. Home processed bread is not the same as industrial bread. They are not “like products” in the W.T.O. jargon. They are different products in terms of their ecological content and public health impact. A factory chicken is not the same as a free range chicken both in terms of animal welfare and in terms of food quality and safety. A GMO corn is not the same as organic corn. The former contains antibiotic resistance markers, viruses used as promoters, and gene for producing toxins such as Bt. Regulating Bt. corn for safety needs different systems than organic corn, factory farming needs different regulatory processes than free-range chicken.

Pluralism of production processes and products needs pluralism of laws and science appropriate to the safety issues and governance systems that a product or production process demands.

Chemical processing need chemistry labs and chemists, GMOs need genetic I.D. Laws, organic processing needs indigenous science and community control. The response of government to the mustard oil contamination in 1998 was to demand that every ghani have a lab, a chemist and must package oil. This response was inappropriate for the scale and method of production. One million ghanis were shut down, 20,000 small and tiny crushers were criminalized by an inappropriate law that opened the flood gates for import of soy oil. We cannot repeat the destruction unleashed by pseudo safety laws in the edible oils sector in other sectors of our indigenous food economy and food culture. We cannot replace safe systems with unsafe systems through manipulated laws and rules which serve agribusiness, leave them free to spread food hazards and disease, destroy our diverse foods and substitute them with unhealthy, anti-nutritive, hazardous industrial foods. We do not need to deregulate global trade and over-regulate domestic production. We need to regulate chemicals and GMOs through centralized structures and regulate local, domestic food systems through local, democratic, decentrlaised, participatory processes.

The principles of food safety used in the proposed law are inappropriate to the indigenous self-organised food systems of India Act 17 (b) states that the Food Authority will take into account International Standards.

However, in the case of GMOs, there are no International Standards. There are European laws on novel foods and the absolute deregulation of GM foods in the U.S. On May 13th 2003, the US together with Canada and Argentina challenged Europe’s moratorium on GM crops and foods. Arguing that their GM products were being unfairly discriminated against, they challenge the precautionary principle in decision making about GM crops that is supposed to be embodied into European decision making. Bringing this case to the WTO is another excuse to attack the use of the precautionary approach in international law.

The new EU Regulations take account of the EU’s international trade commitments and of the requirements of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety with respect to obligations of importers. The EU’s regulatory system for GMOs authorization is in line with WTO rules: it is clear, transparent and non-discriminatory. There is therefore no issue that the WTO needs to examine.

Many countries are now looking at the EU policy to develop their own policy. The US fears that several countries will adopt a similar approach as the EU to regulate GMOs and GM food and feed products. The new Swiss GM legislation, entered into force on January 1st 2004, is a good example.

The Swiss law is stricter than current EU legislation on the liability and co-existence aspects. It is based on the precautionary principle and “the polluter pays” principle (Article 1) and aims to protect health and security of human beings, animals and environment. It also aims to permanently maintain biological diversity and fertility of the soil and to allow freedom of choice for consumers. The EU Moratorium represents the will of its people not to be force-fed. It crystallizes (as the patent on seeds still does) the worldwide mobilization of people against the reinterpretation of national security and sovereignty to increase the global control of US corporations over resources and market.

If Europe had not suspended its approvals process in 1998, these would have been some of the consequences:

> The indirect effects of growing GM herbicide tolerant (HT) crops on farmland wildlife would not have been taken into account. GM HT sugar/fodder beet and spring oilseed rape now known to be damaging to farmland wildlife would have been grown commercially in Europe.

> No requirement for monitoring of environmental or human health effects would have been introduced, maintaining the ‘no evidence of harm’ claim for safety.

> Consumers would not have been able to make a choice not to eat products derived from GM crops as the new labeling laws now allow for.

> There would have been no traceability requirement for GM foods. If an adverse effect had emerged, it would have been impossible to withdraw the product from the market quickly and easily. Following BSE, traceability is a cornerstone of European food safety systems.

Under India’s diverse decentralized plural economy, a centralized integrated law is inappropriate on many counts. Indigenous Gur and Mithai have no international standards, they need indigenous standards. India must craft her laws for her conditions. These laws must be appropriate to the level and content which they address. One law for all food systems is a law that privileges large-scale industrial commercial establishments and discriminates and criminalizes the small, the local, the diverse.

Our kitchens and dhabas, our cottage and household industry is being put in the same category as Nestle’s Cargills and ConAgra’s massive super industrial processing. Domestic and local consumption, including “not for profit” food provisioning is being put in the same category as imports of hazardous GMOs. This is not a science based contemporary system. It is an obsolete, corrupt crude and coercive system proposed by a corporate state to destroy 99% of our indigenous food processing so that global agribusiness MNCs which have spread disease and ill health control our entire food economy, destroying millions of livelihoods and millennia of diverse gastronomic traditions.

The Right to Information Vs Confidential Information

Instead of regulating hazardous food industry like Coke and Pepsi, the Food Safety law is in effect a law for deregulating hazardous industry. Article 14(5) on Functions of Food Authority states:

The food Authority shall not disclose or cause to be disclosed to third parties confidential information that it receives for which confidential treatment has been requested and has been acceded.

Coke and Pepsi are hiding behind Trade Secrets to not disclose the ingredients of their soft drinks to the Rajasthan High Court. Union Carbide hid behind Trade Secrets to not disclose the nature of the gas leak in Bhopal and allowed thousands to die and millions to be crippled. Food and health are too important to be sacrificed to corporate confidentiality. The Right to Information must be the basis of any Food Safety Law.

In the year 2004, we need to learn from the food mistakes of the industrialized food systems. Systems that have created Mad Cow Disease and unleashed an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. These diseases of unhealthy processing are not identified as “food hazards” in food safety laws, though they are a hazard to health. That is why the proposed law is obsolete – it fails to take into account the diseases related to industrial food processing which are creating ill health and should be treated as unsafe.

Law for Food Facism : The License Permit Raj for the Food Economy

The Food Safety and Standards Bill 2005 threatens to create a culture of “Food Facism”.

Industrial foods need chemical labs, genetically engineered foods need genetic I.D. labs, but cooking fresh dal and roti does not need testing for toxic chemicals and transgenes. The risk and safety standards for Lassi in a Dhaba and a synthetic Milkshake at a Fast Food chain must be different. As Eric Schlosser has reported in his best seller “Fast Food Nation”, “A typical artificial strawberry flavor, like the kind found in a Buger King strawberry milk shake, contains the following ingredients: amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cinnamyl valeratge, cognac ssential oil diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2 butanone (10 per cent solution in alcohol), a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, y-undecalactone, vanillin, an solvent.

We are better off sticking to Lassi and treating these toxics as Food Adulterants under PFA rather than allowing them into our food systems, and using the toxic food culture of U.S. as the standard for pseudo safety. Risk Assessment in the hands of centralized corruptible agencies is no protection for consumers as the disease and health epidemic in the U.S. linked to over processed, industrial foods shows. Even while the U.S. is at the epicenter of the food related public health crises, the U.S. government is trying to export its Food laws which deregulate the industry and over regulate ordinary citizens and small enterprise. This deregulation of the big and toxic and over regulation of the small and ecological is at the core of Food Facism, which the proposed Integrated Food law tries to introduce on the basis of the U.S. Model.

Firstly, it sets up a coercive apparatus of centralized control, which lends itself to corruption.

It creates a license permit Raj in food when the rhetoric is about ending it.

A license and inspector raj controlled from Delhi is a recipe for corruption.

In the area of food, corruption could kill.

Secondly, it is inappropriate to “integrate” what are in effect different activities and different products. Small scale, local natural food processing for largely local consumption use fresh foods is based on transparent cooking, natural and organic processing without toxic chemicals in front of the consumer. This cannot be measured with the same safety standards as needed for large-scale processing with chemicals, or for foods containing GMOs.

Traceability is a particular challenge created by GMO’s. IN a law for GM foods it would have a place. However to demand that in India’s’ self organized, informal, orally organized local food economy, every food operator will have systems and procedures for traceability in which all for this information to be made available to the competent authorities is to kill small food providers with the burden of a corrupt and unwieldy bureaucratic control (Article 27 on Traceability). The core of the Act is bureaucratic control through a licence permit raj. Article 31(1) states that no person shall manufacture, sell, stock, distribute or exhibit for sale any article of food, including ready-to-serve food, irradiated food except under a licence issued by the state Commissioner of Food Safety or its authorized officer. Roasted peanuts or chanas, and irradiated foods have been lumped in the same category of hazards. A “bharbuja” (maker of roasted grains) and the Mumbai dabbawalas will be burdened with the same licensing arrangements as a High Fructose Corn Syrup factory of Cargill. This mix up between a small scale self organized sector and a large scale industrialized food sector is the most lethal aspect o the proposed law. Undemocratic, bureaucratically designed, corporate driven food safety laws like the proposed law destroy safe alternatives and promote unsafe industrial food production. According to Colin Tudge “overall, the food-safety laws of Britain are extensive and intricate and more and more detailed, so that its becoming very difficult even to keep a few chickens or pigs for local use, or to run a village shop, or to sell cakes at the church bazaar. Men and women in suits ow with nylon hats and clipboards descend like flies to point out ways in which small farmers and traders could in theory poison their customers. AT the same time, the government that makes these laws presides over policies that seem designed expressly to maximize the spread of disease.

In England where local economies have been destroyed, pseudo safety laws prevent little old ladies from selling their homemade cakes in churches for charity. In India such laws would criminalise “annadana”, the langars of gurudwaras, the zakat at the Mosques and Dargahs, and the bhandaras which feed millions of poor people daily in temples, the livelihoods of our chaiwalas and dhabawalas, the entire household and cottage industry in food processing would be made illegal overnight, leading to the criminalisation of our safe foods and legalisation of food crimes.

There is only one system for food safety – locally produced, freshly processed food – of which we have abundance in India’s non-industrial local food systems. Pseudo hygiene and food safety laws that are designed for the disease producing industrial, long distance convoluted system of getting food from farms to tables will not produce safety. They will produce poverty and unemployment by destroying millions of small-scale livelihoods in food production and processing.

A modern food law would recognize that our decentralized food economy enhances nutrition, safety, culture and livelihoods. We need laws to protect our diverse local food cultures from the disease causing homogenous, centralized industrial food culture of the west. Our biodiversity and cultural diversity of food have built robust localized food economies. Our skilled and knowledgeable food processes are the future of food.

We cannot allow a law manipulated by global food giants, promoted by power hungry bureaucrats to take away our food freedom and food sovereignty.

We need a stronger PFA. We do not need a food police from Delhi to destroy our rich food culture through pseudo safety standards which serve global business. We need society led, participatory, democratic systems to enrich our food systems, promote health and nutrition and guarantee food safety. Delhi needs to control the Monsantos, Coca Colas and Cargills, not our dhabas and our kitchens. Let the government regulate agribusiness through the PFA. We will regulate ourselves as community and civil society. We will not be ruled through the law for food facism. We will shape laws for our food freedom. This is our food sovereignty. This is our Anna Swaraj.

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