Secrets of Ancient Japan Informs Modern Japanese Technology
Secrets of Ancient Japan Informs Modern Japanese Technology
The Science of Melanin*
By Dr. Karl Maret
Bangladesh Delivers Energy Free Air Conditioning*
In a lot of places around the world people don’t have access to some of the luxuries we take for granted: electricity, internet, running water, or even regular supplies of food and clean water. Add to that the unbearable heat of summer temperatures in places like India and half the population is out of commission for most the afternoon. But their situation is not without hope!
More than 28,000 people live in a tiny area called Daulatdia in Bangladesh. They are cramped in small huts with no running water and temperatures outside and inside can rise above 113º F.
Something had to be done, so they’ve come up with the first electricity-free air conditioning.
It’s made of one piece of sturdy cardboard and a series of recycled plastic bottles. The bottoms and necks of the bottles are cut away and then stuck into a series of holes cut into the board.
Once all of the bottles are in place, the board is placed in front of a door or window. The cooling effects are immediate.
Hot air enters the bottles from the outside and then sends cooler air out of the thinner neck. The principle is similar to the effect when you exhale into your hand with an open mouth or with pursed lips. Feel the difference for yourself!
This simple solution can cool an indoor space by more than 10º F. What a relief for the people who experience extreme temperatures day in, day out.
Countless villages have already started using the simplest air conditioning in the world.
Here’s a video that shows exactly how the system works:
Not only does this system bring a breath of fresh air into overheated huts, it’s a great way to encourage collecting old plastic bottles from the streets and recycling them.
Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year: ‘There is No Global Warming’
From Alexandra Bruce
John Coleman is an award-winning meteorologist, Founder of the Weather Channel nearing his 80s who is coming forward to thoughtfully debunk what he sees as the fraud of Global Warming, the bad science being funded to the tune of over $4.2 billion in U.S. Tax Dollars per year, carbon trading (“cap and trade”), etc.
He says, “I love this planet Earth. I’ve been a citizen of this planet Earth now for darn near 80 years and it’s all I’ve got!
If I thought that we, mankind were damaging this beautiful little sphere, this blue marble on which we live, I would be terrified and give every ounce of energy I had to stop what we were doing. But I have studied the issues of so-called ‘Global Warming’ or now, they call it ‘Climate Change’ since the warming has stopped; I have studied the issues carefully and completely, as a good scientist and have reached and absolute, firm conclusion that there is no Global Warming.”
He insists, in fact that the Earth is in a period of slight cooling, as part of the ongoing cyclic interglacial periods between ice ages.
There’s no question that petrochemical toxicity in the environment is deleterious and undesirable but given the Earth’s long history of cyclical ice ages and interglacial periods, anthropogenic Global Warming is an expensive scam invented by the psychopaths who want to make derivatives out of this lie and trade them like so many other fictions available on the Stock Exchanges of the world.
EPA’s Silent Approval of Monsanto/Dow’s RNAi Corn*
By Sayer Ji
Without much more than a whisper from the mainstream media, Monsanto’s newest Frankenfood has received full EPA approval and will be arriving on dinner plates by the end of the decade. The implications of this are harrowing, to say the least.
While you may not have made up your mind on the dangers of GMOs, you likely feel entitled to know when you’re consuming a food that is the product of laboratory research. For this reason, I am reporting on Monsanto’s latest food technology, unfortunately, already in the pipeline. And quite silently so. I write this with a certain degree of solemnity, if not also a tinge of regret, because, for three years, I have heard rumblings of Monsanto’s next project – RNA interference technology.
It was actually the late Heidi Stevenson, my friend, colleague, and founder of the platform Gaia Health, who first alerted me to the dangers of RNA interference-based tinkering with our food supply when she reported on the near disastrous approval of GMO wheat using RNA interference technology in Australia. Thankfully a few brave scientists and informed public stood up and, together, averted the disaster. But since then, both the dangers and the breakneck speed of development of this technology have gone largely ignored, even among activists deep in the non-GMO movement. In order to truly appreciate the gravity of the situation, and why the EPA’s approval of RNAi corn intended for human consumption, is so concerning, it will first require a little background information on the fascinating topic of non-coding small RNAs, and their formidable relevance to our health.
How Non-Coding, Small RNAs Link Together the Entire Biosphere
One of the most important discoveries of our time is that all plants, including those we use for food and animal feed, contain a wide range of RNA molecules capable of inhibiting gene expression or translation. These non-coding RNA molecules neutralize targeted messenger RNA molecules (mRNAs), which prevents their translation into a protein, i.e. they “silence genes.”
Compelling research has surfaced suggesting that not only do these genome-regulating small RNA molecules exist in our foods, but that they are capable of surviving digestion, and being absorbed into our bodies fully intact where they alter, suppress or silence genes, post-transcriptionally. Moreover, some of these small RNAs — primarily microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) — are believed to be cross-kingdom mediators of genetic information, making it possible for RNAs in one species impacting many others through both their active and passive exposure to them.
Food therefore is essentially an epigenetic modifier of gene expression, making it a form of information, and not only a source of bodily building blocks and caloric energy, as conventionally understood. As such, any significant changes to food or feed staples within our food chain could have powerful impacts on the physiological fate of those consuming them, essentially rewriting the functionality of our genomic hardware via software like changes in RNA profiles. The entire biosphere, therefore, is held together in a web-like fashion through these molecular RNA messengers, lending a plausible mechanism to the biotic aspect of Lovelock and Margulis’ Gaia theory of Earth as a self-regulating, meta-organism. You can learn more by reading my article Genetic Dark Matter, Return of the Goddess, and the Post-Science Era.
Monsanto and Co Capitalizing on RNA interference Technology
While this discovery will have profound implications for the field of nutrition and medicine, it has also created enormous interest among biotech and agricultural firms, namely, Monsanto and Dow, looking to capitalize on the design of proprietary products using interference (RNAi) technology.
In mid June, last month Monsanto received EPA approval for a type of corn genetically altered to produce an RNA-based pesticidal agent (aka, a plant-incorporated protectant (PIP)) which lethally targets a metabolic pathway within the corn rootworm, known within the industry as the “billion dollar bug.” Branded as Smartstax PRO, the newly minted GMO plant produces a small, double-stranded RNA known as DvSnf7 dsRNA which disrupts a critical gene within the rootworm, causing its death. This was added on top of four other “stacked” GMO traits, such as the ability to produce two other pesticidal proteins (Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab2), as well as survive exposure to both glyphosate (aka Monsanto’s Roundup 2) and Glufosinate (aka Dow’s Libertylink), highly toxic herbicides.
Roundup, for instance, has demonstrated carcinogenicity in the parts per trillion range. Yet, the EPA considers it perfectly safe for consumers to ingest many orders of magnitude higher concentrations than that, proving its function as a cheerleader and not a regulator of the industry that controls our food supply.
The Atlantic, one of the only mainstream news outlets to report on the topic, pointed out how surprisingly low key the approval process was:
“The EPA’s decision attracted little attention from the press or even from environmental groups that reliably come out against new genetically modified crops.”
Bill Freese, The Center for Food Safety’s science policy analyst, told the Atlantic he was caught off guard by EPA’s decision to only allow 15 days of public comment, and the fact that it did not post its decision to the Federal Register, as it customary, especially considering how unprecedented the use of a RNAi insecticide in a plant intended for human consumption is. Monsanto anticipates the new corn will be on the market by the end of the decade.
One would imagine that such revolutionary technology would require short and long-term (decades) of safety testing before licensure. Instead, as is often the case with big-ticket market agendas, the product is being rushed to market. There are already significant biases in place within the EPA and USDA in regard to nucleic acids – assumptions that exempt them from cautionary considerations. RNA is considered Generally Accepted As Safe (GRAS), but this is because it is defined and perceived only as a physical substance rather than as the powerful signaling/informational molecule it is. The EPA’s approval of RNAi food crops ignores the fact that it takes a multi-generational timescale to understand the influence of epigenetic modifiers on the genome of a species, much less the human species, whose timescale is orders of magnitude beyond animal models used to establish much of the risk/benefit data used in pre-approval evaluations. RNAi interference technology promises specificity — one RNAi molecule change equals one gene suppressed — but ignores the virtually infinite possibility of unintended, adverse effects in what are incomprehensibly complex biological systems. Indeed, researchers have warned that RNAi can not only profoundly affect gene expression, but that the changes it induces can permanently alter a species through inherited traits:
“Once a silencing effect is initiated, the effect may be inherited. The biochemistry of this process varies depending on the organism and remains an area of active research with many unknown aspects. Nevertheless, it is known for example that human cells can maintain the modifications necessary for TGS, creating actual or potential epigenetic inheritance within tissues and organisms (Hawkins et al., 2009). In some cases the dsRNA pathways induce RNA-dependent DNA methylation and chromatin changes (TGS) that persist through reproduction or cell division, and in other cases the cytoplasmic pathways remain active in descendants (Cogoni and Macino, 2000).”
GM Technology and Unintended Consequences
Indeed, critics of RNA interference technology make the point that RNAi technology aims to target the production of a specific protein by identifying the sequence in question. But two or more genes can have sequence homologies. This means, as applies to the use of RNA interference in medicine, a gene that is targeted to turn off a “disease-causing gene” could have a number of off-target effects, one of which would be turning off a gene that is essential to health and vitality.
This is, in fact, what happened October of last year, when Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, a leading developer of RNAi drugs, announced it had decided to discontinue revusiran, its lead drug candidate, after an excess of deaths occurred in the experimental drug group versus placebo. This sent shockwaves throughout the overly exuberant RNAi drug industry, reducing their stock 6% on average.
Criticisms of RNAi in the agricultural sector are long-standing among the highly informed. For instance, Jonathan Latham, Ph.D. and Allison Wilson, Ph.D., wrote a seminal paper on the topic over a decade ago titled “Off-target effects of plant transgenic RNAi: three mechanisms lead to distinct toxicological and environmental hazards,” wherein 3 of the primary safety concerns are addressed: 1) Off target effects leading to non-specific down-regulation of plant RNAs 2) Off target effects affecting non-target invertebrates feeding on plant material 3) potential effects on mammals. In mammals, long (>30 bp) perfectly duplexed RNAs (such as are typically produced by plant RNAi transgenes) are Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPS) and are consequently highly potent triggers of innate anti-viral defences. The effects of long dsRNAs on mammalian cellular functions are typically profound and extend to complete inhibition of protein translation and cell death. Nevertheless, the implications of such molecules in the mammalian diet have hardly been tested.
That’s quite a serious list of concerns. As you can see, concern #3 includes the possibility that these dsRNAs may lead to protein translation and cell death. Clearly if the EPA has declared Monsanto and Dow’s new RNAi corn safe for human consumption, they would need to prove this a non-issue.
Monsanto Falling On Their Own ‘Peer-Reviewed’ Sword
Surprisingly, Monsanto itself has produced one of the most damning papers on the topic yet. Several years ago I stumbled upon a study funded by Monsanto that raised a number of red flags for me. Titled, “Endogenous small RNAs in grain: Semi-quantification and sequence homology to human and animal genes,” researchers employed by Monsanto in their St. Louis, MO, laboratory analyzed the presence of endogenous small RNAs in common food and feed staples — soybeans, corn, rice — discovering that hundreds of these plant RNAs had a perfect 100% complementary match to human genes as well as other mammals.
Why is this significant? Endogenous small RNAs, such as small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs), are effector molecules of RNA interference (RNAi), which is a gene suppression mechanism found in plants, mammals, and other eukaryotes. The implication, therefore, of Monsanto’s finding is that plant RNAs — were they capable of surviving digestion and accumulating in target tissues to physiologically relevant concentrations — are capable of epigenetically silencing hundreds of genes within the human body. Below you will find a list of the RNA/gene matches between rice and the human genome:
Despite the abundance of perfect 100% complementarity matches listed above, Monsanto’s conclusion was a conveniently pollyannish dismissal of the safety implications of these findings, stating that:
“The abundance of endogenous small RNA molecules in grain from safely consumed food and feed crops such as soybean, corn, and rice and the homology of a number of these dietary small RNAs to human and animal genomes and transcriptomes establishes a history of safe consumption for dietary small RNAs.”
While this may be true for traditionally used plants, it does not follow that genetically modified organisms would necessarily be safe because non-GMO versions are. [The pseudo-scientific conceptual ploy of “substantial equivalency“ behind traditional and GMO cultivars has been the basis for the approval of GMOs since their inception.] Monsanto’s conclusion relates to the fact that it has invested a great amount of resources into developing proprietary RNAi-based organisms which help it to maintain and further expand its monopolizing control on the global food supply.
Additionally, one of their primary justifications for concluding the safety of endogenous plant RNAs on human health was that: “…there does not appear to be any evidence in the scientific literature suggesting that intact RNA is absorbed following ingestion.” This bold claim has been disproven. The Monsanto paper was written in 2008, 3 years before the groundbreaking discovery of Zhang et al published in the Cell Research, entitled,” Exogenous plant MIR168a specifically targets mammalian LDLRAP1: evidence of cross-kingdom regulation by microRNA,” wherein it was demonstrated that human subjects fed rice containing the microRNA MIR168a have measurable amounts of it present in their blood and tissue, and that it binds to the lipoprotein receptor adapter protein in the liver. More succinctly:
“These findings demonstrate that exogenous plant miRNAs in food can regulate the expression of target genes in mammals.”
Since then, a hotly contested debate has ensued, which is understandable, given the increasingly politicized and financially-motivated nature of scientific debate and findings.
Here’s Monsanto’s conclusion about the safety of RNAi-based food technology:
“Based on this evidence it can be concluded that RNAi-mediated regulation of gene expression in biotechnology-derived crops is as safe for food and feed use as conventional crops that harness RNAi-based gene regulation as one of several ways to achieve new plant traits. The safety of future crops generated through applications of RNAi should thus be evaluated for safety using the existing comparative safety assessment paradigm, which has been developed for biotechnology-derived Crops.”
First of all, the “evidence” they are referring to is based on an axiomatic absurdity: equating the absence of evidence with evidence of absence. In other words, you can’t prove this negative: “that a hazard does not exist” because positivistic proof of anything requires that you demonstrating something, not nothing.
Let’s also not overlook the conflict of interest statement at the end of their paper: “All authors are employees of the Monsanto Company. The Monsanto Company is an agricultural company that produces,” which speaks to Monsanto’s long history of funding science that denies safety risks of their products, such as the Roundup-Cancer link, which now even the California EPA accepts as fact.
The Heart of the Problem
In a seminal paper published in 2016 in Trends in Microbiology, entitled, “How Our Other Genome Controls Our Epi-Genome,” it is proposed that the very RNAs biotech/agrochemical companies like Monsanto and Dow are tinkering with in our food should be reconsidered as part of the definition of our species versus the conventional view that it is just something informationally inert that we eat and exists “out there.” Using a revised version of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, as pictured below, they propose that there are 4 inseparable parts of our species: 1) human cells 2) human microbiota and other bacteria 3) Fungi and Viruses 4) Food.
As you can see, because of the interconnectivity and “social networking” functionalities of RNAs packaged in microvesicles called exosomes, all four parts of this new definition of man become united in an indivisible whole. Because these RNAs packed in edible exosomesepigenetically active, the food we eat “literally talks to our mRNA and DNA,” as I have explained in greater detail here: “Amazing Food Science Discovery: Edible Plants ‘Talk’ To Animal Cells, Promote Healing.”
As we have seen in Monsanto’s own paper on the topic, foods contain hundreds of small RNAs whose 100% complementarity match with human genes imply they can directly impact, and even silence those genes. This silencing is not necessarily “bad,” but it is clear that we are tinkering with a design that we are only just beginning to understand, much less know how to ascertain the risks of and properly regulate. But, considering that Monsanto’s research reveals how intricately connected the human and the food genomes are are — and furthermore, that post-2008 research has surfaced showing Monsanto was wrong and plant RNAs from food do have direct impacts on human genome/epigenome expression — it is highly irresponsible for them to continue to claim that food manipulation technologies will not have unintended, adverse effects in principle. Sadly, with the EPAs approval of four new RNAi forms of corn already completed, and likely many more on the way, we may be stuck with secondary and much slower forms of recourse: post-marketing, epidemiological surveillance of exposed populations, where patterns of disease can take decades if not generations to surface — and then with so many confounding factors at play, not with any certainty.
That said, I believe education and the awareness it generates is our best bet at countermanding the widespread acceptance of this highly experimental and obviously dangerous form of genetic engineering. As has been the case recently with glyphosate being classified as a carcinogen by the California EPA, and a growing mainstream movement to fight the forced feeding of non-labeled GMO laden products (March Against Monsanto), the tides are turning. Please help us spread this information far and wide.
Unsolved Secrets of Indian Stepwells*
Historic structures such as temples, mosques and palaces are scattered over a vast territory of India. Often lose their original relics of ancient infrastructure, called “step-wells» (stepwells). Once upon a time, these underground structures were estimated in thousands.
Initially, these wells were dug in the ground – so people could easily access to the water. Over time, the stepped wells have become increasingly complex in geometry, and from the modest holes turned into hard engraved wells in step Hindu temples with ornamental columns, and ladders shrines.
These old wells or ponds, water in which was located at a depth of more than thirty steps down, often arranged multistoried with water wheel in order to lift the water to the first or second floor. They are most common in the western part of India and other more arid regions of South Asia, extending to Pakistan.
Construction of ancient wells at that time was of primarily utilitarian value – storage in the reservoirs of ground water in case of drought. Subsequently, they generously included architectural ornaments because the main guardians of the water were women, who prayed and offered gifts to the goddess of the well. Careful and sacred attitude to wells ensure their preservation for centuries.
Chicago journalist Victoria Lautman first described this architectural marvel. She devoted most of the last five years of traveling in India to find and photograph as many wells as possible. After 2015, she resumed the trip to India to find an additional 60 wells, bringing the photos of more than 200 wells, which she personally visited, described and photographed.
After centuries of neglect, some ancient wells are in a dangerous state or disappeared altogether, while others are carefully maintained by local authorities or living near communities that recognize their value and have a good will and finances, to restore them.
In an effort to preserve this wonderful heritage of India, Victoria Lautman made a visual tour of 75 of the most unique and interesting holes in a new book called “The Vanishing Indian Wells (The Vanishing Stepwells of India). The book includes not only original photos of objects, but also the experience of the author of each of them, including the exact coordinates of the location of the wells.
It is hoped that sooner or later a renewed interest to the ancient Indian wells will appear, as well as there is funding for their recovery.
Genetically Modified Bread Given Green Light by Vatican*
By Julian Rose
In what will surely to be considered a highly controversial statement, Vatican cardinal Robert Sarah, has stated that Catholic priests can use genetically modified bread during the Eucharist – but not ‘gluten-free’ bread.
In an article in the Guardian online Sarah is quoted as saying that guidance was needed now that Eucharist bread can be found in supermarkets and even over the internet.
Sarah had earlier reminded bishops that the bread should be made by people “distinguished by their integrity.” He also stated
“It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance.”
The wine he is referring to is that taken with the bread during holy communion, which, quoting the Guardian
“Catholics believe turns bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.”
Somehow or other, in giving the OK to the use of GM unleavened bread, this statement encapsulates everything which is antithetical to basic, informed wisdom – never mind spiritual guidance. To deliberately distort the composition of the genetic code of life, is to go against the principle of reverence for the species. Doubly so since this is only undertaken to increase the profits of the corporations that patent the engineered plants.
The cardinal then states that such bread should only be made by people “distinguished by their integrity.” Well, well, clearly the Vatican has a whole other concept of what ‘integrity’ means, than I do, and indeed millions of others. The article is capped-off by the statement citing Catholics’ belief that the bread and the wine issued to the congregation during communion, symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus.
Even to take this in a non-literal sense, raises severe questions about the origins of this ritual. Nobody needs to imbibe the blood and body of Christ, even symbolically, in order to gain support from divine sources. Rather the opposite, to believe it is necessary to engage in a ritualistic form of cannibalism (however disguised) in order to receive divine blessing, places a block on the ability to see the sacred in everything. Rather it encourages a return to the dark ages of sacrificial worship.
I do not wish to cause offense to Catholics, especially those who follow their conscience, but the church has made it plain for all to see, that it is following a whole other doctrine than the one which supports nurturing an increase in spiritual awareness. We are witnessing a false dogma laid bare; and, in a sense, we should thank Sarah for so brazenly exposing this fact.
For the sake of brevity, I am going to resist going into every hypocritical nuance which the Vatican proclamation raises. Others have covered in depth, the prevalence of dark guidance which flows through this institution. But one cannot help but feel a shiver of horror when one links together the hundreds of cases of priestly paedophilia, the sacrilegious ingestion of symbolic body and blood and the promotion of GMO.
There is much more, but these three are quite sufficient in alerting all of us that it’s time to stand back and see the bigger picture.
A great swathe of the world’s activities are run from the Vatican, in its link-up with Washington DC and The City of London. None of which are government or citizen controlled. They are tax-free ‘corporations’, boasting their own private police forces and independent status from the rest of society.
Here is where the hierarchical sudo-elite devise their ‘new world order’ ambitions. Their plans to take control over all aspects of planetary life. They work closely with the international banking cabal and with heads of state. They comprise the top end of the 0.2% pyramid elite whose ethos is to dominate within the construct of a totalitarian world, in which all those ‘below’ act as their minions.
There are many good and thoughtful individuals who follow the teachings of the church. Likewise there are priests performing valuable supportive efforts to those under repression all over the planet.
This is not a criticism of these individuals. It is the institution which must be first to answer for its deviousness. All the evidence exposing institutional corruption is contained in cardinal Sarah’s proclamation that genetically engineered bread is acceptable – and gluten-free bread is not.
Throughout the world 70 to 80% of individuals are against the use of GMO in the food chain. They perceive, in spite of mega bucks worth of corporate attempts to sell the GM message, that this laboratory inspired experiment is a dangerous and crass distortion of nature, with historical links to Nazi programmes promoting genocide. They also deeply distrust the agrichemical corporations trying to market it.
Who is right: the church and the corporations or the people?
It’s time to leave the dogma behind us and move on. A rise in human consciousness is not going to be achieved via regression into religious fanaticism. Humanity needs to break-free from all forms of institutional repression, and take inspiration directly from the true source of divine wisdom
Here’s Why Most of the Meat Americans Eat is Banned in Other Industrialized Countries*
By Martha Rosenberg
Recently, Organic Consumers Association, along with Friends of the Earth and Center for Food Safety filed suit against chicken giant Sanderson Farms for falsely marketing its products as “100% Natural” even though they contain many unnatural and even prohibited substances.
Specifically, Sanderson chicken products tested positive for the antibiotic chloramphenical, banned in food animals, and amoxicillin, not approved for use in poultry production. Sanderson Farms products also tested positive for residues of steroids, hormones, anti-inflammatory drugs—even ketamine, a drug with hallucinogenic effects.
This is far from the first time unlabeled human drugs have been found in U.S. meat. The New York Times reported that most chicken feather-meal samples examined in one study contained Tylenol, one-third contained the antihistamine Benadryl, and samples from China actually contained Prozac. The FDA has caught hatcheries injecting antibiotics directly into chicken eggs. Tyson Foods was caught injecting eggs with the dangerous human antibiotic gentamicin.
The Natural Resources Defense Council has reported the presence of the potentially dangerous herbs fo ti, lobelia, kava kava and black cohosh in the U.S. food supply as well as strong the antihistamine hydroxyzine. Most of the ingredients are from suppliers in China.
“Animal Pharma” still mostly under the radar
Many people have heard of Elanco, Eli Lilly’s animal drug division, and Bayer HealthCare Animal Health. But most big Pharma companies, including Pfizer, Merck, Boehringer Ingolheim, Sanofi and Novartis operate similar lucrative animal divisions. Unlike “people” Pharma, Animal Pharma largely exists under the public’s radar: drug ads do not appear on TV nor do safety or marketing scandals reach Capitol Hill.
Still, conflicts of interest abound. “No regulation currently exists that would prevent or restrict a veterinarian from owning their own animals and/or feed mill,” says the Center for Food Safety. “If a licensed veterinarian also owns a licensed medicated feed mill, they stand to profit by diagnosing a flock or herd and prescribing their own medicated feed blend.”
Because the activities of Animal Pharma are so underreported, few Americans realize that most of the meat they eat is banned in other industrialized countries. One example is ractopamine, a controversial growth-promoting asthma-like drug marketed as Optaflexx for cattle, Paylean for pigs, and Topmax for turkeys and banned in the European Union, China and more than 100 other countries. Also used in U.S. meat production is Zilmax, a Merck drug similar to ractopamine that the FDA linked to 285 cattle deaths during six years of administration. Seventy-five animals lost hooves, 94 developed pneumonia and 41 developed bloat in just two years, Reuters reported.
The European Union boycotts the U.S.’s hormone-grown beef. The routinely used synthetic hormones zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate pose “increased risks of breast cancer and prostate cancer,” says the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures.
“Consumption of beef derived from Zeranol-implanted cattle may be a risk factor for breast cancer,” according to an article in the journal Anticancer Research.
The European Union has also traditionally boycotted U.S. chickens because they are dipped in chlorine baths. In the U.S. it’s perfectly legal to ‘wash’ butchered chicken in strongly chlorinated water, according to a report in the Guardian:
These practices aren’t allowed in the EU, and the dominant European view has been that, far from reducing contamination, they could increase it because dirty abattoirs with sloppy standards would rely on it [chlorine] as a decontaminant rather than making sure their basic hygiene protocols were up to scratch.
Other germ-killing or germ-retarding chemicals routinely used in U.S. food production include nitrites and nitrates in processed meat (declared carcinogens by the World Health Organization in 2016), the parasiticide formalin legally used in shrimp production, and carbon monoxide to keep meat looking red in the grocery store no matter how old it really is. Many thought public revulsion at the ammonia puffs used to discourage E. Coli growth in the notorious beef-derived “pink slime” in 2012 forced the product into retirement. But the manufacturer is fighting back aggressively.
Antibiotics—the least of the unlabeled animal drugs
According to the Center for Food Safety, Animal Pharma uses more than 450 animal drugs, drug combinations and other feed additives “to promote growth of the animals and to suppress the negative effects that heavily-concentrated confinement has on farm animals.”
The revelations about Sanderson Farms should come as no surprise given that despite new antibiotic regulations rolled out in 2013, and even more recently, antibiotic use in farm operations is on the rise. Sanderson Farms revelations are no surprise.
Last year I asked Senior Staff Scientist at Consumers Union Michael Hansen how the 2013 FDA guidance asking Pharma to voluntarily restrict livestock antibiotics by changing the approved uses language on labels was working out. Dr. Hansen told me “growth production” had been removed from labels but the drugs are still routinely used for the new indication of “disease prevention.”
After the guidance was published, a Reuters investigation found Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, George’s and Koch Foods using antibiotics “more pervasively than regulators realize.” Pilgrim’s Pride’s feed mill records show the antibiotics bacitracin and monensin are added “to every ration fed to a flock grown early this year.” (Pilgrim’s Pride threatened legal action against Reuters for its finding.) Also caught red-handed using antibiotics, despite denying it on their website, was Koch Foods, a supplier to Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Koch’s Chief Finanical Officer, Mark Kaminsky, reportedly said that he regretted the wording on the website.
But antibiotics are the least of the unlabeled drugs and chemicals lurking in meat. According to the Associated Press, U.S. chickens continue to be fed with inorganic arsenic to produce quicker weight gain with less food (the same reason antibiotics are given) despite some public outcry a few years ago. Arsenic is also given to turkeys, hogs and chickens for enhanced colour. Such use
“contribute[s] to arsenic exposure in the U.S. population,” says according to research in Environmental Health Perspectives.
The appealing pink colour of farmed salmon is also achieved with the chemicals astaxanthin and canthaxanthin. In the wild, salmon eat crustaceans and algae which make them pink; on farms they are an unappetizing and unmarketable gray.
There are legitimate reasons to use drugs, primarily to treat disease. Cattle host stomach-churning liver flukes, eyeworms, lungworms, stomach worms, thin-necked intestinal worms and whipworms, all of which are treated with parasiticides. Turkeys suffer from aspergillosis (brooder pneumonia), avian influenza, avian leucosis, histomoniasis, coccidiosis, coronavirus, erysipelas, typhoid, fowl cholera, mites, lice, herpes, clostridial dermatitis, cellulitis and more for which they are also treated with unlabeled drugs. (The Federal Register says the anti-coccidial drug halofuginone used in turkeys “is toxic to fish and aquatic life” and “an irritant to eyes and skin.” Users should take care to “Keep [it] out of lakes, ponds, and streams.”) The endocrine disrupter Bisphenol A (BPA) has even been found in fresh turkey meat.
Food animals are also routinely given antifungal drugs and vaccines. Porcine epidemic diarrhea, which killed millions of animals in recent years, is treated with a vaccine. And a vaccine for the flock-killing bird flu is in the works. In fact, Big Food is working with Big Pharma to replace the widely assailed antibiotics with vaccines.
Drug use in food animals will get worse, not better
There are two reasons drug residues in food animals will soon grow worse, not better. In exchange for China agreeing to accept U.S. beef after a long hiatus, the U.S. agreed to import cooked chickens from China. China’s food safety record is abysmal, including rat meat sold as lamb, gutter oil sold as cooking oil, baby formula contaminated with melamine and frequent bird flu epidemics. Globalization dangers already exist with seafood, most of which comes from countries that use chemicals and drugs banned in the U.S.
The second reason is the U.S. meat industry’s increasing move toward privatization and corporate self-policing—phasing out U.S. meat inspectors in favor of the “honor system.” USDA’s “New Poultry Inspection System” (NPIS) shamelessly allows poultry producers to switch to a voluntary program that allows for non-government poultry inspections. Such privatization deals are the wave of the future as federal meat inspectors are ignored and phased out by the government.
After all, we are living with an administration that sees regulations as nothing more than an impediment to Big Ag’s cheap meat agenda.