GENETICALLY MODIFIED SOY LINKED TO STERILITY, INFANT MORTALITY
Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov’s studies on the effect of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soy on hamsters’ growth and reproduction demonstrates a correlation between a GM soy diet and slow growth rate, sterility and high infant mortality. The study consisted of four groups of hamsters fed for two years and over three generations; one group was fed a soy-free diet, another was fed non-GM soy, another given a diet of GM soy, and the last group was fed higher amounts of GM soy. By the third generation, the mortality rate in the GM soy diet group was five times higher than the control groups given the non-GM diets. Only one female in the group given a high GM soy diet gave birth, and of her 16 offspring, 20 percent died.
Surov does not want to form causal connections were they are not yet proven; he said, “It is quite possible that the GMO does not cause these effects by itself.” Other possible causes that could lead to the growth, reproduction and mortality issues could be contaminants or higher pesticide residues in GM soy, as surmised by Surov.
The study is expected to be published in July 2010 in conjunction with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Association for Gene Security. For an overview of the study and its preliminary findings, see www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Watch-List/genetically_modified_soy_linked_to_sterility_infant_mortality_22.html.
U.S. URGED TO BACK GM LABELING AGREEMENT
The Codex Committee on Food Labeling of the United Nations food standards agency recently discussed the labeling of genetically modified (GM)/genetically engineered (GE) ingredients in food products. The United States, backed only by Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina of the 50 nations present, pushed for a Codex guideline that would not “suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods.” The Codex Committee was unable to reach an agreement.
In response to the U.S. position, eighty groups sent letters to United States Department of Agriculture officials expressing their concerns that the U.S. position on GM/GE labeling could potentially obstruct a producer’s ability to label his/her products as GM/GE-free. For more information, see www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/05/cu-calls-on-obama-to-support-gm-labeling-agreement/
EPA EXPANDS PUBLIC DATABASE BY 6,300 CHEMICALS AND 3,800 FACILITIES
In an effort to provide Americans with transparency regarding chemicals in their communities, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added more than 6,300 chemicals and 3,800 chemical facilities regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act to the Envirofacts database. This public database provides information about hazardous waste, toxic and air releases, Superfund sites, and water discharge permits. Additionally, EPA will be adding historic information for 2,500 facilities; this will include access to information regarding accidents, spills, leaks and improper disposal and handling of hazardous materials.
Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention claimed, “The addition to Envirofacts will provide the American people with unprecedented access to information about chemicals that are manufactured in their communities [...] This is another step EPA is taking to empower the public with information on chemicals in their communities.” To view the database, click on www.epa.gov/enviro/index.html, and to read the story by Environment News Service, see www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2010/2010-05-18-095.html.
REPORT: ONLY EIGHT PERCENT OF SUNSCREENS RECOMMENDED. HAT, SHIRT AND SHADE PROVIDE BEST PROTECTION
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its fourth annual Sunscreen Guide late this spring, and this year’s guide only recommends 39 of 500 sunscreens on the market. Some reasons for EWG’s low approval rating for many sunscreens include exaggerated SPF claims and potentially hazardous ingredients. “Many sunscreens available in the U.S. may be the equivalent of modern-day snake oil, plying customers with claims of broad-spectrum protection but not providing it, while exposing people to potentially hazardous chemicals that can penetrate the skin into the body,” stated Jane Houlihan, EWG Senior Vice President for Research.
According to EWG, one new government finding links a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, used in suncreens to accelerated growth of skin tumors and lesions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently investigating this chemical’s reaction with sunlight; current data suggests it may be photocarcinogenic. EWG recommends using vitamin A-free sunscreens while the FDA completes this research.
The FDA has been working to put regulations regarding sunscreen in place since 1978. Due to the lack of regulations regarding sunscreens, EWG claims hats, clothing and shade to be the most reliable sun protection. For more information and a link to the Sunscreen Guide, click on www.ewg.org/2010sunscreens/press.
RAW MILK FANS SAY WISCONSIN’S DAIRY INDUSTRY IS TOO POWERFUL
In mid-May, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle vetoed legislation to legalize the sale of raw milk in the state. The Senate and Assembly had both passed the legislation to legalize raw milk sales from farms directly to consumers on a trial basis.
Unpasteurized milk has the potential to contain pathogens, and the dairy and cheese industries in Wisconsin feared that an outbreak due to raw milk consumption would hurt the image of both industries. On the contrary, raw milk proponents feel it is nutritionally superior to its pasteurized counterpart. Due to the bill’s broad support from the Legislature and the public, raw milk supporters believe the dairy industry has become too influential in its ability to sway the governor’s vote.
Following his veto of the bill, Doyle made the statement, “I recognize there are strong feelings on both sides of this matter, but on balance, I must side with the interests of public health and the safety of the dairy industry.” Those groups in favor of the governor’s veto contend the bill’s safety standards are not stringent enough. For example, the Wisconsin bill would have allowed the sale of raw milk on Grade A dairies, the strictest classification in Wisconsin, which would allow up to six times the amount of bacteria per milliliter as compared to California, Washington and New York’s raw milk standards.
One Wisconsin legislator claims he will reintroduce the bill this fall. For the full story, see host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt_and_politics/article_d1daccd0-66eb-11df-a1fe-001cc4c002e0.html.
MOST COMPANIES REPLACE TRANS FAT WITH HEALTHIER FATS, STUDY FINDS
A recent study by Dariush Mozaffarian of Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health and Michael F. Jacobson and Julie S. Greenstein of the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that when food manufacturers and restaurants reformulated foods to reduce or eliminate artificial trans fat, the foods almost always had a lower total amount of trans and saturated fat. The study’s findings refutes the previous assumption that food manufacturers would replace partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, with saturated fat from butter or lard when reformulating their foods to contain less of the artificial trans fat.
Although this study demonstrates the U.S. food industry’s positive response to public outcry over partially hydrogenated oils, study author Michael F. Jacobson notes, “[The food industry’s response] should pave the way for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to eliminate partially hydrogenated oils from the food supply. The agency could do that quite easily by stating that it no longer considers partially hydrogenated oil to be ‘generally recognized as safe.’”
For more on this subject, see www.cspinet.org/new/201005261.html.