Tag Archive | pharmaceutical industry

What They Don’t Want You to Know About the E.U.-Canada Trade Deal*

What They Don’t Want You to Know About the E.U.-Canada Trade Deal*

By Amy Hall

Canadian Tar Sands: CETA may force the EU to accept this dirty fossil fuel. Image: Greenpeace

Canadian Tar Sands: CETA may force the EU to accept this dirty fossil fuel. Image: Greenpeace

Canadian Tar Sands: CETA may force the EU to accept this dirty fossil fuel. Image: Greenpeace.

Meet the corporate sell off trade deal that Dr. Liam Fox snuck through a back-room of parliament as the Commons debated Brexit.

It is one of a ‘new generation‘ of trade deals agreed in secretive negotiations around the world. It has been described as the ‘ugly brother‘ of TTIP, the E.U-U.S trade deal, and the ‘most ambitious’ trade agreement that the E.U. has concluded.

The E.U/Canada trade deal threatens to put corporate interests over many things that we in Britain take for granted. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – to give it its official name – risks our food standards, undermines our rights at work, and fails to adequately protect the environment or bolster efforts to stop runaway climate change.

While civil society has largely been left out of negotiations, it seems that corporate lobbyists have been closer to the action.

If the European parliament votes CETA through (voted through 15th Feb), much of the deal can be provisionally implemented without the agreement of member states. While Britain remains part of the E.U., we will be bound by this. If our parliament ratifies CETA before we leave the E.U. we will be bound by the whole thing.

Brexit or not Britain faces CETA, or something that resembles it uncannily. Determined to prove that leaving the European Union does not mean that the UK’s free trade hopes are dashed, the way the government has dealt with the CETA process could be an indicator of how trade and investment policy works post-Brexit – and it isn’t looking good.

CETA is being seen as something to emulate in future free trade agreements, including with the European Union and Canada.

“We can pick up the almost complete agreement between the E.U. and Canada, and if anything liberalise it,” wrote David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on the for Conservative Home.

For now though, the government is not giving up on CETA. Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, who is no stranger to the world of corporate lobbying, had committed to debating CETA on the main floor of the House of Commons. But he managed to bury this long awaited session to a House of Commons committee room on Monday 6 February: the same time as the Brexit Bill vote.

Fox, who has long made clear he feels the U.K. should have fewer trade ties with Europe and more with North America has been accused of “disregard for proper scrutiny of parliament” over CETA.

It’s not surprising the trade minister was so keen to sneak this deal past MPs. CETA challenges our already flawed democratic system by handing over more power to multinational corporations through the Investment Court System. This has replaced the notorious Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism in E.U. investment negotiations, and can force governments to compensate corporations over public interest policies that threaten their profits, bypassing national legal systems and courts, and hugely undermining the ability of MPs to legislate on vital matters of public interest.

It’s these corporate courts which have been one of the things most rattling people about trade deals like CETA. A European Commission consultation on investment protection and TTIP in 2014, which had nearly 150,000 replies, found ‘wide-spread opposition’ to ISDS.

U.N. Independent Expert Alfred de Zayas has described ICS as “a zombie of ISDS” and argued that ICS and ISDS should be abolished.

“It is States, particularly developing States, and their populations that need protection from predatory investors, speculators and transnational corporations, who do not hesitate to engage in frivolous and vexatious litigation, which are extremely expensive and have resulted in awards in the billions of dollars and millions in legal costs,” he said in a U.N. press release.

CETA will increase the number of companies able to sue the E.U. and its member states. Research by Gus Van Harten of York University and lawyer Pavel Malysheuski published in 2016 found that the beneficiaries of ISDS have “overwhelmingly been companies with more than USD1 billion in annual revenue – especially extra-large companies with more than USD10 billion – and individuals with more than USD100 million in net wealth.”

As well as threats to democracy, food safety, public services and workers’ rights, CETA is a massive danger to environmental protection. The European Commission argues that the agreement contains ‘strong rules‘ to protect the environment, but environmental experts who have seen it argue that it can’t be enforced adequately if they are violated and the language is weak.

One of the major threats comes from industries like mining and fossil fuel extraction. As highlighted by a group of NGOs earlier this year,

“The extractive industry is prolific in launching arbitration lawsuits. Over 50% of global mining companies are based in Canada.”

Canadian companies already have form. For example, in 2016 Canadian energy company TransCanada launched a US$15-billion lawsuit against the U.S. government under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) because of the pre-Trump decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.

CETA could also increase imports into Europe of oil from Canada’s destructive tar sands. As well as a devastating impact on the climate through emissions and deforestation, these are also causing destruction in and risk the health of First Nations communities, including poisoning their water supplies and destroying sacred territories.

It was hoped that the E.U.’s Fuel Quality Directive could have stopped tar sands oil coming into Britain because of its much higher emissions, compared to conventional oil.

But lobbying from the Canadian government, supported by the likes of BP and Shell, contributed significantly to weakening the directive and leaving the possibilities for tar sands oil in Europe open.

Pressure from campaigners killed TPP and TTIP. Whatever happens with today’s vote on CETA, now is not the time to hold off the pressure. Although there can be provisional application of most of the deal if it passes, there does still need to be ratification in regional and national E.U. parliaments for it to take full effect.

In Britain there is important work to do when it comes to future trade deals negotiated with countries like the US and Canada, but also others around the world.

Mark Dearn, War on Want’s senior trade campaigner says that the movement is looking out for what comes next, including a potential US-UK trade deal post-Brexit. “Is the movement ready?… (I) very much so,” he says. “People have become very wise to the threat of trade deals off the back of TTIP and CETA so they’re very mindful of what comes next.”

As Dearn says, trade mechanisms, and the process of their negotiation, need to be transparent and accountable as we need to make sure things are done in the best interests of people, animals and the planet, and not just profit. We need to look at what it is that could be “negotiated away.”

There are many ways we can try and ‘take back control’ in post-Brexit Britain, including working from the grassroots to challenge neoliberal politics and the power of multinational corporations in the ways we work and live. There also needs to be more pressure on our politicians to stop them treating environmental protection, safety and public services as troublesome ‘red tape’ to be slashed away.

Source*

Related Topics:

European Parliament Demands Legal Scrutiny of CETA’s ‘Corporate Court’ System*

British Gov’t Silent on Secret E.U. Meetings with Lobbyists*

Eurocrats Making Record Number of Laws in Secret*

Growing Opposition Forces E.U. into a Humiliating Climb-down on CETA*

GMO Wheat Trials to Begin in Europe*

E.U. Bullies its Way through an Reciprocal Trade Access in Africa*

Indigenous Women Shut Down Tar Sands Pipeline Hearing*

BP, Trafigura and Vitol Export Dirty Oil to Africa to Kill People*

On the Rights of Nature*

GMO Wheat Trials to Begin in Europe*

GMO Wheat Trials to Begin in Europe*

By Paul Fassa

Due to the popularity of gluten-free food items, and the rise of digestive disorders related to wheat allergies, much of the public believes that our modern wheat supplies are grown from genetically modified seeds. But this is not the case. There are currently no approved genetically modified varieties of wheat in the market place.

That may soon be changing in Europe, however, as the Rothamsted Research group working in collaboration with researchers from the University of Essex and Lancaster University has reportedly received approval in the U.K. to begin trials of genetically modified wheat. (Source.)

Peter Melchett of the UK Soil Association that supports organic farming said:

We do not believe that this trial should go ahead. It is vital that the trial crop does not escape from the trial site given the inclusion of antibiotic resistance and herbicide tolerance genes, but that is exactly what has happened on multiple occasions with GM wheat trials elsewhere.

It has been proven that there is gene drift from pollen even from GMO test fields to existing non-GMO and organic field farms. There are also seed mix-ups that can occur within seed storage facilities. Organic and non-GMO farmers have shown evidence that it is impossible to maintain coexistence without contamination from GMO crops. (Source)

For example, Switzerland, international corporate home of Monsanto’s chief GMO rival Syngenta, will not allow open field GMO testing. So Syngenta uses the United States and other areas for their open field trials with empty lots and fields leased locally, and usually unknown to non-GMO farmers in the same area.

GMO Wheat Has a Negative Economic Impact on Wheat Exports out of the U.S.

An Oregon wheat farmer’s unexpected discovery of GMO contamination from what is believed to have been GMO wheat open field testing ten years earlier created a halt of wheat exports from the U.S. to several countries back in 2013, harming U.S. wheat exports that year. (Source.)

Asian and E.U. nations that have zero tolerance for GMO won’t allow GMO traces of grain imports due to their labeling laws, even if only suspected of genetically altered wheat and other grains or crops, which had led to refusing it instead of purchasing it.

In other words, GMO crops have an economic impact on non-GMO and organic crop exporters in the USA, yet GMO seed producers refuse to produce mapping of their testing fields and the federal government protects their secrecy. (Source)

This was a major flop at the time, resulting in lawsuits initiated by conventional and organic farmer groups against Monsanto for damages suffered by GMO grains discovered in their non-GMO exports of wheat that excluded them from exporting their crops. And since there is no commercially offered GMO wheat in the USA yet, these were from field tests only. (Source)

GMO Crops Worldwide: A Serious Health Impact

Despite the mainstream media’s refusal to seriously acknowledge the growing sentiment against GMO agriculture, many unbiased independent scientists attest that GMO agriculture threatens our health and the future of food itself.

It’s not only the dangers of genetic damage to animal and human life, but many GMO crops were created mostly for the purpose of withstanding toxic pesticides and herbicides that the GMO people create themselves. One such herbicide is the world’s top seller, Roundup.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient of Roundup, and as you may now know, it has been declared as a probable carcinogenic by a committee of international independent scientists commissioned by the WHO (World Health Organization).

More on glyphosate.

Is it Just the Gluten, or is There More to Gluten Sensitivity?

There is a growing suspicion that perhaps glyphosate is more responsible for the growing epidemic of gluten sensitivity than simply gluten. Rather than simply blaming gluten for digestive issues and gut inflammation completely and creating a whole new food industry of gluten free products, which can be unhealthy themselves, there is more evidence that the culprit for gut inflammation responses to wheat and grains is largely due to glyphosate and the gluten that’s common in harmfully processed breads and baked goods.

A major reason Monsanto created Roundup Ready GMO crops is to withstand their herbicides without being destroyed themselves. Genetically engineered crops are meant to absorb glyphosate completely in order to prevent Roundup herbicides from killing them while they suffocate weeds, that’s all part of the design.

So those who consume non-organic corn or soy products alone, which are 90 percent plus GMO and are ubiquitous in processed and snack foods, are taking in the bulk of glyphosate herbicide toxicity.

Add factory farming livestock that are used for non-organic milk and dairy and slaughtered for most meat products as glyphosate carriers. They are fed GMO soy and/or corn meal from crops that are filled with glyphosate.

Consider that French molecular biologist Gilles-Éric Seralini and other independent researchers have determined that other adjunct booster chemicals in glyphosate herbicides create an even more toxic synergy than the active ingredient of glyphosate alone. (Study text)

They were able to isolate those other ingredients with state of the art chemical analysis lab equipment. Those ingredients can be protected by so called “Trade Secrets Law.” Roundup’s other ingredients were never divulged to the EPA. So the EPA had allowed glyphosate herbicides claiming glyphosate was actually safe.

A class action suit has been initiated by cancer victims who dealt directly with applying Roundup; they claim glyphosate in that product caused their cancer. From this some evidence that an EPA top official suppressed EPA scientists from disclosing glyphosate dangers has emerged.

A letter from a deceased former EPA official whistleblower has created an attempt by plaintiff lawyers to get more documentation of her claims. Questions about EPA-Monsanto collusion raised in cancer lawsuits:

But wait, the topic is wheat. And wheat is not genetically modified to withstand Roundup or other glyphosate herbicides yet – right?

Commercially Grown Wheat and Other Grains are Desiccated with Roundup

To desiccate means to dry up or completely remove the moisture. A lot of grains, especially wheat and oats grown in the upper Midwestern and Northwest states as well as Canada are confronted with short harvesting times as winter sets in.

A few decades ago grain growers in Scotland discovered they could shorten harvest times by killing and drying the wheat before winter set in to possibly ruin the crop. They used Roundup for desiccating grain crops since so far there are no Roundup Ready GMO grain seeds and those crops do not resist Roundup’s glyphosate. This has become common in North America lately.

Use of Glyphosate Correlates with Rise in Gluten Sensitive Diseases

They say glyphosate binds to gluten in grains, and glyphosate is known to cause intestinal irritation, damage, and gut flora problems. This may be another link to the gluten source of intestinal issues, according to independent scientists.

Above is a timeline of Celiac incidence graphed against incidence of desiccating wheat with glyphosate herbicides. A similar graph exists with glyphosate herbicides and autism.

And now we have trace amounts of glyphosate appearing in organic grains. The amounts are small, but they shouldn’t be there at all. That’s what international importers of our grains declare, and they’re getting stricter about that.

It’s possible that irrigation streams and rainwater may be responsible for spreading elements of glyphosate. Another possibility is spraying from aircraft could be affecting organic farms near GMO areas. Organic barley has been the most affected. This even threatens our domestic organic beer industry. (Source)

Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus, Plant Pathology of Purdue University, has been attacked by GMO industry hacks and academic researchers who depend on GMO industry funding for his critical view of GMOs and glyphosate’s affect on plant foods, the soil they inhabit, and the farm animals fed with GMO corn and soy meal.

Dr. Huber’s open letter appeal to investigate GMO farming further was sent to the USDA head at the time, Tom Vilsack. It was ignored. Then the attacks, even from Purdue University, began. Coincidence?

Dr. Huber told Dr. Joseph Mercola in an interview that while independent testing has confirmed the chronic toxicity of GMOs and Roundup, which the industry denies and decries, they have not provided proof of their long term safety. Dr. Huber stated:

When the EPA employed the term ‘substantially equivalent,’ it gave the chemical companies essentially a waiver on doing any of the safety tests. The only thing that they’ve ever tested for is acute toxicity. Well, we know that glyphosate, for instance, isn’t an acute toxin. It’s a serious chronic toxin. [Emphasis added] That’s been well-established in peer-reviewed scientific articles. We have more of those coming along all the time. There is no question that it’s a chronic toxin. (Source)

Dr. Stephanie Seneff and Dr. Anthony Samsel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have focused on glyphosate’s environmental, animal, and human damage extensively. They have examined several independent lab reports and done epidemiological studies, of which the above graph is one example, with similar graphs for autism rates.

They released a statement that corroborates Dr. Huber’s remarks of chronic toxicity leading to a toxic overload from daily food consumption of glyphosate treated crops, whether GMO or conventional farmers’ desiccating: (Source)

It’s just that you don’t get killed or die today from it; you have to suffer through the process of gluten intolerance, leaky gut, Crohn’s, Alzheimer’s, autism, or any of those diseases that are related to the health of your gut, which we’re seeing now on an epidemic scale in our society.

Activated charcoal is a possible remedy to detox from glyphosate in the body. Also, this short video is worth viewing for understanding how to employ niacin as part of the detox in lieu of saunas.

How the FDA and USDA Allowed Industry Demands to Ruin Bread and Pasta

Chemically bleaching flour is banned in Europe, where so far nutritional food has some value. There, white flour is created by letting the crushed grains age in the open air and sun for several days. No chemicals are used.

Elsewhere, including here in the USA, even many so-called whole grain breads have some chemically bleached white flour in them. Before it becomes flour, wheat and other non-organic factory farmed grains are treated with fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides from seedling to storage. A really bad start!

Wheat itself was agriculturally hybrid naturally to increase its gluten content, satisfying mass producing bakery demands for an easier, gummier, and more pliable dough to deal with for mass production.

Then the highly nutritious bran and the husk with fiber are removed leaving only the light yellow endosperm, which is virtually all starch with very little nutritional value and a high glycemic index rating.

In order to bypass the aging process, add shelf life, and get that clean white colour, the endosperm is crushed and treated with chlorides to get it white instantly. A byproduct of this process is alloxan, which is used to induce diabetes in lab animals for medical testing!

Never mind looking for that on bread labels. Alloxan is a byproduct of the bleaching process, not an ingredient. To avoid it, simply put any bread back on the shelf that includes white flour unless you’re in Europe or it specifically states unbleached white flour.

And now for the clincher. In order to make the flour dough even easier to use by large scale commercial bakeries, they bromate the flour by adding potassium bromate. In addition to blocking iodine that your thyroid needs to fully function as the control center for your endocrine (hormones) system, potassium bromate is carcinogenic.

Source*

Related Topics:

GM Wheat Trial in U.K. Proves a Failure*

South Korea and Japan Shuts Down U.S. Monsanto Toxic Wheat Imports!

GM Wheat Shutting Us Down!?*

Alarming Amount of Glyphosates in the Foods you Eat*

Glyphosate in your Bread*

Glyphosate has been a Known Carcinogen Since the 1970s*

 

GMO Golden Rice Shows Stunted and Abnormal Growth with Reduced Grain Yield*

GMO Golden Rice Shows Stunted and Abnormal Growth with Reduced Grain Yield*

By Christoph Then

A new publication has reported unintended effects in genetically engineered rice producing precursors of vitamin A, so-called carotenoids. Crossing the manipulated rice with the Indian variety Swarna led to a nasty surprise: The resulting plants showed extensive disturbance in their growth. The researchers identified several reasons for this: The new gene constructs interfere with the plant’s own gene for producing growth hormones, and the additional gene constructs were not, as intended, active solely in the kernels, but also in the leaves. This led to a substantial reduction in the content of chlorophyll that is essential for vital functions in the plants.

These unintended effects were not detected in previous investigations, and it was assumed that the genetically engineered plants used in these trials would show genetic stability. In fact, these detrimental genomic effects remained undetected until the transgenic plants were crossed with the variety called Swarna, which is grown widely in India.

The observed effects are highly relevant for the risk assessment of the plants. Once released, the transgenic plants could spread their gene constructs into populations of weedy rice as well as other cultivated varieties. In addition, genomic effects not found in the original plants can occur in plant offspring. At the stage when the hazards are identified, it can be impossible to remove the transgenes from the environment.

“Instead of helping people to combat malnutrition, these plants, if grown on the fields, might endanger their whole rice harvest,” Christoph Then says for Testbiotech.

“It is worrying that effects that can arise from crossing genetically manipulated plants with other varieties are, as yet, not included in risk assessment.”

It is not the first time that such problems have been reported: Some other ‘Golden Rice’ lines are already known to show irregular patterns of inheritance. Furthermore, there are uncertainties regarding the biological quality and safety of the plants. For example, additional changes in the metabolism of the rice kernels were described in 2016.

So far, there are no varieties available for commercial cultivation. According to the International Rice Research Institute IRRI, the safety and usefulness of the plants for nutrition needs further investigation.

Source*

Related Topics:

India’s Organic Rice Revolution Proves GMOs Are Unnecessary*

Rice from Fukushima to Be Sold in Britain*

Philippine Farmers Uproot Monsanto’s GM Golden Rice*

GMO Arctic Apples to Hit Shelves Without Clear Labeling*

FDA Approves New GM Pineapple*

On the Rights of Nature*

Chinese Farmer Studies Law for 16 Years to Sue Chemical Company for Polluting His Land*

Chinese Farmer Studies Law for 16 Years to Sue Chemical Company for Polluting His Land*

By Julia Travers

Chinese farmer Wang Enlin and his neighbours sued Qihua Group, a mineral processing and chemical production company, for polluting their homes and farmland. Wang, who spent 16 years studying law to pursue this goal, and residents of the Yushutun village won an initial judgment against the multi-billion dollar state-run company, the Daily Mail reported.

Wang, who is in his 60s, began to pursue this case after his home and the surrounding farmland were flooded with toxic waste from Qihua in 2001. The 2001 Qiqihar Angang River District Council minutes reveal a mayoral determination that the polluted land could not be used for a “long time,” the People’s Daily said.

The Qihua plant created a “71-acre wasteland with calcium carbide residue and a 478-acre pond with its liquid waste,” according to the Daily Mail. It released 15,000 to 20,000 tons of annual waste.

“I knew I was in the right, but I did not know what law the other party had broken or whether or not there was evidence,” Wang said.

Though Wang had only three years of formal education, he began to read law books with the help of a dictionary. He spent 16 years hand-copying notes out of books he could not afford to buy in a bookstore. He traded the store owner corn for allowing him to use the books. As he learned about Chinese land management law and environmental protection law, Wang began to educate his neighbours on their legal rights as well.

In 2007, the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims of the China University of Political Science and Law came to the aid of Wang and his neighbours. Liu Jinmei and other lawyers from the center agreed to help the villagers file their suit against Qihua and the case finally began to be processed in 2015.

Wang and the other residents of the Yushutun village won an initial judgement against Qihua in the Angangxi District Court of Qiqihar. This court awarded the victims financial compensation amounting to about $119,000 and Qihua is appealing the ruling.

“We will certainly win. Even if we lose, we will continue to battle,” said Wang, according to the People’s Daily, which described him as having white hair, “mud-covered rubber shoes” and a faded “old cotton-padded jacket.”

China’s rapid industrialization over several decades has led to widespread land and air pollution issues that the court system has struggled to manage, China Dialogue explained. Very few of the victims the legal aid center helps choose to pursue legal action or persevere for as long as Wang, Liu told the People’s Daily.

Source*

Related Topics:

Monsanto + Syngenta Lobby Tanzanian Government to Pass Law Jailing Farmers who Exchange their Traditional Seeds*

Iraq’s Agricultural Industry was Pillaged, Its Farmers Devastated, But It’s Still Free of GMO Seeds*

Israeli Tanks Enter Gaza Strip, Fire Live Rounds at Palestinian Farmers*

Monsanto Profits Drop Twenty-Five Percent Again as Farmers, Individuals Go Organic*

GMOs Set to Crush Export Markets for Farmers across Ghana*

How UK investors Devastated Tanzanian Farmers*

A Coalition of Oregon Organic Farmers Beat Monsanto*

El Salvador Farmers with Record Crop Yields Beat Monsanto’s Monopoly*

World Bank Aims to Hand over Seed Industry to Agribusiness*

U.S. EPA Scientist Fired for Telling the Truth about Climate Engineering + Fluoridated Water*

U.S. EPA Scientist Fired for Telling the Truth about Climate Engineering + Fluoridated Water*

fdb44-eolewater1000litersofdrinkingwateraday

By Dane Wigington

The public has been trained and conditioned to believe that federal agencies like the EPA exist to watch over them and warn them of any potential dangers. This notion could not be further from the truth.

Though there are honest and caring people within these agencies (like the scientist who has drafted the statement below), the institutions as a whole exist to hide threats from the population, not to disclose them.

The majority of the public continues to convince themselves that if there was really anything they should be concerned about, someone, somewhere, in some federal public protection agency would tell them. The statement below should be a sobering wake-up call for us all.

It is yet another confirmation of all that has been stated above. From global geoengineering, to Fukushima, to toxic fluoridated water and lethal vaccinations, the public health and the health of our biosphere is being decimated.

Where are the official warnings from official agencies? The truth continues to be hidden by the government agencies that are tasked with hiding it.

Michael Davis is now a former EPA scientist who is working with GeoengineeringWatch.org in an effort to get the truth out, his full resume is at the bottom of this article.

Michael was recently terminated from the EPA for daring to tell the truth about two extremely dire public dangers, the highly toxic fallout from climate engineering, and the willful contamination of the public water supply with industrial waste.

I had the pleasure and honour of working with Michael for over a year, he has participated in conference calls directly with the Geoengineering Watch legal team (Legal Alliance to Stop Geoengineering, LASG).

Upon being terminated from the EPA, I asked Mr. Davis if he would draft a statement for GeoengineeringWatch.org, that statement is below.

A Statement for GeoengineeringWatch.org from Scientist Michael Davis

My name is Michael Davis, I was employed as an Environmental Engineer for nearly 16 years in the National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) Programs Branch of the Water Division in Region 5, Chicago of the USEPA.

I was terminated as a public servant performing a public service for raising the issues of anthropogenic deposition of aluminum due to atmospheric geoengineering.

In addition, I brought up the industrial hazardous waste by-product of fluoride known as HFSA (being sold primarily by the phosphate fertilizer and aluminum industries) to drinking water utilities for disposal into the nation’s drinking water systems.

The label in the photo above should be shocking to any that are even slightly awake. Highly toxic industrial waste that is officially labelled as a

The label in the photo above should be shocking to any that are even slightly awake. Highly toxic industrial waste that is officially labelled as a “drinking water additive.”

 

This does not include pollutants that are discharged from wastewater reclamation facilities into receiving waters.

The issue regarding anthropogenic deposition of aluminum due to atmospheric geoengineering came up in May 2013 when a colleague in the NPDES Programs Branch sent a general email to everyone regarding “NPDES and Climate Change”.

I sent a six (6) bullet point one – sentence response to my colleague. Nearly six (6) weeks later my supervisor (at the time) set up a conference call to inform me that I would be receiving a Letter of Reprimand for making false, malicious and unfounded statements against colleagues, supervisors, management and elected public servants.

Furthermore, my then supervisor claimed that my statements damaged the integrity and reputation of the agency.

In April, 2014, my last supervisor assigned me to the Beloit, Wisconsin wastewater reclamation facility DRAFT permit review. I asked the permit writer why fluoride (a poison) was be disposed of in Beloit’s drinking water supply?

She could not provide an explanation. Approximately two (2) weeks later my supervisor placed a “gag order” on me barring me from having any communication written or verbal with anyone unless he approved ahead of time and was present on all conference calls.

It was claimed by my supervisor (and management) that the “gag order” would remain in place to prevent me from making statements that would further damage the  integrity and reputation of the agency.

Furthermore, my supervisor kept giving me assignments like Beloit, Wisconsin where fluoride, along with other pollutants knowing that I would describe the adverse human, animal health effects along with adverse environmental effects of them in my DRAFT Permit review reports.

The adverse human, animal and environmental effects were completely ignored by my supervisor. This was even more profound when it came to the issue of fluoride as HFSA being deposited into the drinking water system.

This is in violation of (1) EPA’s Policy on Scientific Integrity, (2) The Precautionary Principle, (3) 5 U.S.C. §2302(b)(8) and (4) Informed Consent.

My supervisor informed me that the EPA does not regulate fluoride in the drinking water systems under either the Clean Water Act (CWA) or the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

However, FDA under Health and Human Services (HHS) regulated fluoride in the drinking water systems.

I eventually crafted a general description of the adverse human and animal health effects in an email to my supervisor and upper level management.  Initially was ignored by all of them.

I had to send the original descriptive email several times over about a six (6) month period of time before I received a reply from the water division director who just parroted the corporate agenda pertaining to fluoride disposal into the nation’s drinking water systems.

In doing my own research into the issue of anthropogenic deposition of aluminum from atmospheric geoengineering (as well as fluoride and other pollutants) in an attempt to determine why there was strong opposition from my supervisor and the EPA in general it this (factual reports on the issues).

It is because the EPA wants to continue their cover-up, collusion, and criminality pertaining to pollution and contamination being perpetrated by their puppet masters, the multinational corporations. The EPA (like the FDA, CDC, etc) is a complete sham.

Because the “P” in EPA stands for protection of corporate profits and not for protecting human, animal and environmental (or biosphere) health. The EPA like other governmental regulatory agencies are corrupt to the core, completely dysfunctional and have been completely hijacked by the multinational corporations.

I will not allow any of my ex – supervisors, ex – branch chiefs, ex – divisions directors, ex – EPA acting regional administrator or ex – EPA administrator or other individuals either identified or unidentified to get away contaminating our one and only biosphere (soil, water and air), and causing untold adverse human and animal health effects.

The threats we collectively face are immense and grave. These existential threats are being hidden from public view by government agencies which are completely controlled by a criminal power structure that operates in the shadows with impunity.

Those who serve public protection agencies must find the courage to stand up and speak out as Michael Davis has. Others (in the same agencies), who have committed themselves to being shameless tyrannical order followers, must be exposed and held accountable, legally and morally.

The battle before us to fully expose the truth requires our full commitment. Each of us is needed, all can make a difference. All can and must make their voices heard in the fight for the greater good, we are rapidly running out of time.

My deepest respect and regard for the courage and concern for the greater good that Michael Davis has shown.
DW

Source*

Related Topics:

Climate Engineering and the Dangers of Air Travel*

Geoengineering Climate Change*

Doctors List 50 Reasons Why You Must Stop Drinking Fluoridated Water Now*

Homeopathy and the Federal Trade Commission: Policies for the 21st Century

Homeopathy and the Federal Trade Commission: Policies for the 21st Century

By  National Health Freedom Coalition

 

By Diane M. Miller JD

 Homeopathy is an energy medicine giant that is key to the health awakenings of the 21st Century. Current laws and public policy will have to be evaluated and designed with homeopathy’s impact in mind.

Homeopathic remedies are currently in a cross-fire between two federal agencies, the FDA and the FTC, because health claims on homeopathic products bring up the direct overlap of current legal jurisdiction between these two federal agencies. The overlap is based on this:  The FDA regulates the labeling of all food and drug products.  Homeopathic remedies are considered drugs and thus their labeling is under the jurisdiction of the FDA.  The FTC regulates advertising or labeling of products in commerce and prohibits unfair or deceptive acts in commerce.  Homeopathic manufacturers advertise their products thus are under the jurisdiction of the FTC.

The FDA has developed special marketing guidelines for homeopathy.  They have guidelines for regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products, based on the FDA’s understanding that “due to the uniqueness of homeopathic medicines” they are deserving of clear conditions for marketing.  These guidelines have resulted in protection of consumer access to these safe products.  The FDA has specifically spelled out the requirements for the labeling of homeopathic products given their Hahnemannian principles of dilution.  Since 1988, the FDA regulates homeopathic over-the-counter (OTC) remedies under their Compliance Policy Guide (“CPG”) entitled “Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May be Marketed”.  It permits the marketing of homeopathic products “intended solely for self-limiting disease conditions amenable to self-diagnosis (of symptoms) and treatment” as OTC products.  It requires that the labeling of OTC homeopathic drugs display an indication for use.  And it acknowledges the existence of the homeopathic research procedure, called “provings”, which is a homeopathic method of research employed in healthy individuals to determine the dose of a drug sufficient to produce symptoms and used to determine the eligibility of drugs for inclusion in the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS).

But the FTC also claims authority over claims on products in commerce under Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act, and their authority could conflict with the FDA’s labeling requirements for homeopathy.  For example, FDA’s regulations require that OTC homeopathic remedies display an indication for use on the label.  But FTC is now warning that they will require competent and reliable scientific evidence of statements made on labels.  And that those statements will be held to a conventional drug standard.   The FTC states as follows:

“Section 5, which applies to both advertising and labeling, prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, such as the deceptive advertising or labeling of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.  Section 12 prohibits the dissemination of false advertisements in or affecting commerce of food, drugs, devices, services, or cosmetics.  Under these provisions, companies must have a reasonable basis for making objective claims, including claims that a product can treat specific conditions, before those claims are made.

For health, safety, or efficacy claims, the FTC has generally required that advertisers possess “competent and reliable scientific evidence,” defined as “tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated in an objective manner by qualified persons and are generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.”  Competent and reliable scientific evidence may take different forms depending on the type of claim being made.  For some claims, the substantiation required may be one or more well-designed human clinical studies.  Neither the FTC Act, nor any FTC rule or policy statement, exempts advertising claims for homeopathic drugs from these standards.”

The FDA’s regulations historically have been structured in a way that has treated OTC homeopathic remedy health claims as if homeopathic remedies are safe.  However, the FTC, appears to be considering them as dangerous drugs and is applying a conventional drug standard to speech regarding homeopathic remedy health claims.

The problem is that FTC is using the wrong standard for assessment of the health claims for homeopathic remedies.  Here is why.  As explained simply and clearly by leading homeopath John Melnychuk, RSHom (NA) CCH:

Homeopathy has a scientific paradigm of its own, which is distinct from western scientific understandings.  (Similarly, the science and paradigm that underlies Chinese Medicine and acupuncture are not readily explainable by western medical science.  It is unwise and arbitrary to judge one system with the standards of another.)   It is agreed upon by most that homeopathic medicines are not toxic, and therefore the rules for the necessity and method of proving safety are not relevant or reasonable in the same way as they are for dangerous drugs.

Conventional prescription drug health claims, because of the dangerous nature and known history of side effects of drugs, understandably require proof of any promise or health claims made, because the consumer has to choose between two possibilities: the dangerous side effects including sometimes possible death from a drug, or ongoing illness and potential death from a disease.  It is important for consumers to have truthful information on whether there is a chance of getting cured by the product given those two options.  Consumers need to know the effectiveness of pharmaceutical prescription drugs because they have to weigh the potential benefits against the danger to themselves.

But in the instance of a product that is generally regarded as safe, the proof that a substance is effective is not as crucial. If there is little risk in trying some approaches, consumers want to have broad access to many options based on their own research.  That is why, for safe products like dietary supplements, food and homeopathic remedies, the consumer is most concerned with safety instead of proof of efficacy, and the role of government is not to ensure effectiveness, but rather to make sure that a product is not on the market that will hurt them.  And if there is a potential fraud or misrepresentation regarding a health claim for a product on the market, it is the responsibility of the FTC to stop the fraud, and they have the burden of proof to show misrepresentation or fraud before banning speech.

We need to ask the important question as to whether the manufacturers of safe products be required to prove by conventional scientific methods that the health claims that they make about their products are truthful and not misleading before they have the freedom to market their product and speak about them, or should the government have the burden of proof to show that a statement is dangerous or fraudulent before taking a product off the market?  We believe that since the FTC regulates deceptive trade practices and wishes all statements to be truthful, the burden of proof of fraud must remain on the government for a product that is generally regarded as safe.  Otherwise most safe products would be banned and there would be a massive infringement on freedom of speech.  If that were the case nothing positive could be said about a product unless the manufacturer was a multimillion dollar company that could go through the high standard of proof that the FTC is suggesting.  Statements about the benefits of food and homeopathic products for sale have been made for hundreds of years, and the wisdom of the culture on these products must not be stifled by demanding the type of scientific proof required of dangerous drugs, costing millions of dollars, before one speaks.

If something is safe, all citizens of the world should always be able to speak about it and have access to it.  And if a fraudulent commercial claim is made about a safe product, the government has the duty and the burden of proof to prove fraud before pulling from the market.

NHFC opposes the following FTC recommendations based on our discussion above: 

FTC recommends the following:

“For the vast majority of OTC homeopathic drugs, the case for efficacy is based solely on traditional homeopathic theories and there are no valid studies using current scientific methods showing the product’s efficacy.  Accordingly, marketing claims that such homeopathic products have a therapeutic effect lack a reasonable basis and are likely misleading in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.14 However, the FTC has long recognized that marketing claims may include additional explanatory information in order to prevent the claims from being misleading.  Accordingly, the promotion of an OTC homeopathic product for an indication that is not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence may not be deceptive if that promotion effectively communicates to consumers that: (1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works and (2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.  To be non-misleading, the product and the claims must also comply with requirements for homeopathic products and traditional homeopathic principles.  Of course, adequately substantiated claims for homeopathic products would not require additional explanation.”

FTC’s requirement to add a statement to labels that “there is no scientific evidence that the product works”, is based on the FTC’s conventional scientific knowledge and methods, without recognizing the massive library of research and literature available in the homeopathic medical community regarding Hahnemannian principles and homeopathic research.  FTC’s requirement to add a statement to labels that “the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts” is a denigration of a healing system used by millions world-wide.  It is promoting one system of medicine over another based on its dominance in the culture.  It has nothing to do with positive education of consumers.  It is based on an unwillingness to allow access by consumers to a minority system of healing, and ignores the potential benefit of simply ensuring safety, and providing education to consumers.

In addition to these concerns, there is an additional, and much larger issue that the FDA and the FTC must eventually address regarding homeopathic products: that is the issue of the advancement of the understanding of the universe.  How does continued access to the broader conventionally un-proven truths of the universe interact with the current regulatory standard of “competent and reliable scientific evidence”?    The FTC refers to “modern medicine” and “reliable science”.  How can the research scientists, inventors and innovators experiencing and probing the complexity of the human experience and the universe, and consumer access to the knowledge that is forthcoming from them, be protected and encouraged, when government authorities attempt to block speech about, and access to, products unless healing efficacy has been proven based on conventional scientific methods?  Conventional science has expanded and grown over the years, but it may be said that conventional science is in the early stages of understanding when it comes to truths such as the foundations of homeopathy, the Hahnemannian principles, the law of similars and the process of dilutions and succussions.

In the case of homeopathic remedies, there is agreement in government and civil society that thousands of homeopathic remedies and products do not pose an imminent risk of harm to individuals or the public.   We need to protect and encourage access to these safe products.  And we need to protect our personal freedoms to speak about health options and to make health care choices.  We must never allow government to quash speech and advertisements about safe products that are basically innovative applications of natural truths.

It is our position at NHFC and NHFA that individuals should always be able to speak about and have access to all health care options that they desire that are generally regarded as safe and that government has the burden of proof to show misrepresentation or fraud when it comes to any health claim.  It is noticeable that these larger glaring issues were not addressed by the FTC.  That fact alone causes much consternation within the healing community.

In Conclusion:  In this complex situation between FDA and FTC, the FDA has been doing a good job of walking the line effectively by protecting access for consumers to homeopathic products, while at the same time, making sure that consumers are obtaining safe products with appropriate labeling.  The FTC continues to have the authority to challenge fraudulent statements, and that is appropriate.

We deeply hope that the FDA will uphold its homeopathic policies and protect consumer access to homeopathic remedies, and tell the FTC that they have over-stepped their jurisdictional boundaries.  Citizens need to ask the FDA to hold fast to their 1988 Compliance Policy Guide providing reasonable treatment(regulation) of homeopathic remedies.

There is no need to denigrate homeopathy by forcing the additional requirements of disclosures to labeling or advertising that FTC proposes.

Source*

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Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life*

Genetics Is Giving Way to a New Science of Life*

By Jonathan Latham

Test your understanding of the living world with this simple question. What kind of biomolecule is found in all living organisms? If your answer is “DNA”, you are incorrect.

The mistake is very forgiveable though. The standard English-language biology education casts DNA (DeoxyriboNucleic Acid) as the master molecule of life, coordinating and controlling most, if not all, living functions. This master molecule concept is popular. It is plausible. It is taught in every university and high school. But it is wrong. DNA is no master controller, nor is it even at the centre of biology. Instead, science overwhelmingly shows that life is self-organised and thus the pieces are in place for biology to undergo the ultimate paradigm shift.

The mythologising of DNA

Highly respected scientists make very strong claims for the powers of DNA. In his autobiography, Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis called it “The King of molecules” and “The big one”. Maybe he read DNA: The Secret of Life, a popular science book that calls DNA the molecule that “holds the key to the very nature of living things”. Its author should know. He is Nobel Laureate, James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Even institutions have strong opinions when it comes to DNA; the website of the U.S. National Institutes of Health claims “Genes are at the center of everything that makes us human”.

My edition of The Secret of Life features on its back cover Eric Lander. Lander is the celebrated brains behind modern human genetics. He is also the head of the Broad Institute at MIT. In his blurb, Lander endorses “The secret of life” trope. Just below him on the jacket is Professor of genetics Mary-Claire King. She writes: “This is the story of DNA and therefore the story of life, history, sex, money, drugs, and still-to-be-revealed secrets.” According to Prof. King, DNA is life.

The Watson view of genetics dominates education too. The standard U.S. high school biology textbook “Life“, of which we own the 1997 edition, frames the entirety of biology around DNA, thereby giving it the biochemical status of life’s centrepiece.

Meanwhile, Francis Collins, longstanding head of the National Institutes of Health, has published bestselling books about DNA with titles like The Language of Life and the Language of God. It should be no surprise then that the idea of DNA as a master molecule is one of the dominant ideas of our age.

Some biologists will say that these views are extreme and unrepresentative. They are, and part of this article is to explain why extreme views about DNA dominate the public discourse. But its main purpose is to contrast the portrayal of DNA by virtually all biologists with the narrow scientific treatment they apply to other biological molecules. Our existence also depends on proteins, fats, carbohydrates and RNA (Ribonucleic Acid); but no one says “it’s in my protein”. But here is a question: is it any less scientifically preposterous to say something “is in my DNA”?

To take a ruthless look at that question is thus the purpose of this article. Does DNA have any claim to being in control? Or at the centre of biological organisation?

The answer is that DNA is none of the things Watson, Lander, and Collins claim, and that even the standard nuanced biologist’s view of life is wrong. This is provable in many ways but mainly by a new science of life that is emerging from almost complete obscurity. This new science explains the features of living beings in productive new ways that DNA-centric, genetic determinist, biology has not, and cannot. DNA is not the language of God. It is not even the language of biology.

Organisms are systems

The evidence that DNA is not a biological controller begins with the fact that biological organisms are complex systems. Outside of biology, when we consider any complex system, such as the climate, or computers, or the economy, we would not normally ask whether one component has primacy over all the others. We consider it obvious that complex systems are composed of subsystems, each being necessary for the larger whole. Each subsystem has its specific niche but no one subsystem exerts a privileged level of causation.

The same applies to living organisms. At the level of the physiology of an individual organism we do not apply an exclusive or special causative role to the heart, the liver, the skin, or the brain, because a body is a system. All parts are necessary.

At the smaller biological scales of organs too, distinct cell types maintain, operate, and repair themselves and each other. Similarly, at the cellular level, no one disagrees that organelles and other molecular structures are interacting but independent subparts of the whole.

At the level of macromolecules, however, a curious thing happens. Biologists abandon systems thinking entirely. Instead, we apply the famous central dogma of biology, which is that DNA makes RNA makes Protein (Crick, 1970). This formulation creates an origin story that begins with DNA.

The first mistake of the dogma, however, is to call it “central”. If an organism is a system, then there is no centre. The second error is that the pathway described is factually incorrect. The pathway should be a loop since the DNA does not come from nowhere: to make every DNA molecule requires proteins and RNA and DNA. More broadly, the synthesis of DNA cannot be done without a whole cell, just as the making of any RNA or any protein also takes a whole cell.

If we wanted to be more accurate still, we would say it takes a whole organism to make each of these components. Even this description would be incomplete, since, undeniably, it takes an ecosystem, including, in the case of humans, a gut microbiota and a food supply. The full formulation of the central dogma is therefore a loop embedded in a web. But the central dogma taught to millions of students every year takes an entirely different intellectual path. It arbitrarily confers on DNA a special place: firstly, by not closing the loop, and second, by placing DNA at its beginning. The central dogma is thus merely a representation formed from arbitrarily constructed boundaries. It is not biological reality.

Geneticists, and sometimes other biologists, make this linear interpretation seem plausible, not with experiments—since their results contradict it—but by using highly active verbs in their references to DNA. DNA, according to them, “controls”, “governs”, and “regulates” cellular processes, while nouns like “expression” are also commonly used to ascribe functions to DNA. Biologists thus confer activist and willful superpowers on DNA. Ultimately, this can create circular arguments. DNA controls embryonic development or organism health because genes express themselves. QED.

However, there is no specific science that demonstrates that DNA plays the dominant role these words imply. Quite the opposite. For example, a recent publication in Nature magazine posited “An emerging consensus that much of the protein constituent of the cell is buffered against transcriptional variation.” i.e. is insulated from direct genetic quantitative influence (Chick et al., 2016). This buffering is nicely demonstrated by many experiments. One is the demonstration that the circadian rhythm of a bacterium can be reproduced, in the absence of any DNA, by just three proteins mixed together in a test tube. The rhythm was maintained for three days, even in the face of temperature changes (Nakjima et al., 2005).

z-dna_orbit_animated.gifInevitably, any language used to describe DNA will necessarily be metaphorical and be of limited accuracy, but words like “govern” and “control” literally invent attributes for DNA (Noble, 2003). A much more precise metaphor for DNA would compare it to the library of Congress, since cells use DNA primarily as a storehouse of information. Consider that biologists could apply more neutral verbs such as “use”, as in “cells use DNA to create proteins”. If so, they would have created a very different status for DNA. Only librarians would have T-shirts saying “its in my DNA”.

If we shed the wild metaphors and the central dogma, a more accurate way to think about biology emerges. If every molecule and every subsystem, regardless of scale, constrains and potentiates the other parts, then there is no need to infer a central controller. We can replace the DNA-centric model of biology with a relational model of complex interplay of feedback systems and emergent properties, of which the library of DNA is just one component. In this model, RNA is simply one of the inputs needed to make proteins and DNA is just one of the inputs needed to make RNA, and so on. Unlike the central dogma, such a proposition is consistent with the known facts of biology.

The formulation encapsulated by the central dogma and by biology textbooks is therefore an illusion. They are a classic case of what microbiologist Carl Woese has called the “reductionist fundamentalism”. Reductionist fundamentalism differs from simple reductionism in that whereas simple reductionism is a valid scientific method, the former is an ideological preference for a simplistic explanation when a more holistic one is better supported by the evidence. In this case, the assigning of superpowers to DNA to explain observed biological activities when a better explanation would accept that many biochemical events have multiple causes and contributors. Oxford physiologist Denis Noble describes this fallacy as conferring on DNA “a privileged level of causation”.

If not DNA, is there a “molecule of life”?

Many plant-infecting viruses lack DNA. They base their lifecycles on protein and they use RNA as their heritable material.

There are also plant pathogens, called viroids, that lack both DNA and protein. Viroids are thus composed solely of non-coding RNA. Lifeforms can therefore exist without either DNA or proteins—but there are none that that lack RNA.

Therefore, the answer to the opening question: “what kind of biomolecule is possessed by all living organisms?” is RNA. RNA stands for Ribonucleic Acid and for many reasons it is a better candidate for being a universal biomolecule than DNA.

RNA and DNA are chemically very similar. Even scientists confuse them, but their modest chemical distinctions confer very different properties. RNA is structurally very flexible (bendy), whereas DNA is highly inflexible; RNA is unstable and chemically reactive, whereas DNA is highly inert. A key difference is the number of chemical modifications that cells are able make to their four bases. In the case of DNA (whose bases are the nucleotides A,C,G and T), just two modifications are possible in most cells. These modifications are called methylation and acetylation. These two modifications alter the properties of DNA bases and they are the primary basis of the fashionable science of epigenetics.

RNA also has four bases (A, C, G, and U). But cells make more than one hundred comparable chemical modifications to them. The roles of these modifications are essentially a mystery, but presumably they help RNA perform its many cellular tasks.

RNA is also misunderstood. In a typical human cell, less than 1% of it makes proteins. The remaining 99% has a huge variety of structural, regulatory, and enzymatic functions. Most biologists though might as well be slaves to the central dogma in thinking that RNA is just the intermediate between DNA and protein. Only recently has RNA begun emerging from the shadow of DNA as a far more interesting molecule.

The deep explanation of these molecular differences is that RNA existed long before DNA. RNA probably predated even the invention of cells. It is enormously old. In consequence, it is so deeply and structurally embedded in living systems that it is very hard to study. Thus the paradoxical reason why we don’t know much about RNA is not because it is unimportant, but because, unlike DNA, RNA is too important to cell function to selectively remove at will.

Consequently, to conform with current evolutionary understanding, we should really invert standard teaching and insist that the proper way to think about DNA is that it is a specialised form of RNA. DNA evolved structural rigidity and chemical inertness to make itself a more staid librarian for the safe storing of heritable information.

So, over evolutionary time DNA was chosen as a better librarian (this library metaphor originates with Colin Tudge and his excellent book Why DNA isn’t selfish and people are nice); proteins turned out to be superior catalysts of chemical reactions; but RNA is more likely to have been the biomolecule around which life was really built. But RNA is no more a controller than is DNA.

Nor is DNA the centre of evolution

A common explanation for organising biology around DNA, and the one given by the authors of “Life“, the textbook, is DNA’s supposed role in the theory of evolution. For two reasons this explanation is highly questionable, however. Both reasons exemplify pervasive misunderstandings of the theory of evolution. One of these misunderstandings exaggerates the significance of Darwin’s theory and the second, once again, gives to DNA credit it doesn’t deserve.

The first misunderstanding is to assume that evolutionary theory is an explanation of life. Life, however, began long before Darwinian evolution and some of its fundamental patterns (cells, proteins, energy metabolism) emerged—so far as we can tell—long before DNA became the molecule of heredity (Carter, 2016). This distinction is important. In a textbook about “Life“, for example, it is important to separate the origin of life from its maintenance so as not to unhelpfully exaggerate (i.e. confuse) what Darwin’s theory explains; but in conflating the two, “Life” is only reflecting the misunderstanding of most biologists.

Second, the pre-Darwinian life of cells and metabolism arose thanks to the fact that complex systems have emergent and self-organising properties (e.g. Kauffman, 1993; Carter, 2016). The advent of DNA into these systems allowed Darwinian evolution to accelerate, but it did not eradicate emergent and self-organising properties. Rather, it colluded with them and helped create new ones. This means such properties are the likeliest explanation of large areas of biology. “Self-organization proposes what natural selection disposes” is how Batten and colleagues quaintly summarise alternatives to standard evolutionary theory which is pretty much rigidly genetic determinist (Batten et al., 2008).

A classic emergent property is the folding of proteins. DNA encodes the linear sequence of amino acids that constitute proteins, but every protein adopts one (or usually more) highly complex three dimensional shape (Munson et al., 1996). These shapes, along with charge and solubility, are largely responsible for a protein’s properties. It is habitually, but lazily, presumed that DNA specifies all the information necessary for the formation of a protein, but that is not true. All protein shapes depend also on the integration of multiple sources of information. These sources include temperature, other cellular molecules like water and mineral ions, pH, energy molecules like ATP, protein folding aids called chaperones, and so forth. Beyond this, many proteins have functions, such as to be molecular channels and pumps that emerge only at higher levels of structure, such as in the presence of other proteins.

Thus DNA specifies proteins and their functions only up to a very limited point. It is possible to disregard all such non-genetic contributions and ascribe to DNA all the properties of a protein or a process (or a whole organism). Most scientists do, but doing so is an ultra-determinist position. It writes emergent properties, such as protein folding, entirely out of the functioning of life. It again confers onto DNA superpowers it does not have.

Emergent properties are only one example of why the relationship between DNA and evolution is much more tenuous than is normally portrayed. Patrick Bateson of Cambridge University, whose perspective is not emergent properties but animal behaviour, explained evolution much more accurately than most when he wrote: “Whole organisms survive and reproduce differentially and the winners drag their genotypes with them. This is the engine of Darwinian evolution“.

Thus we can explain why Charles Darwin invented his theory of evolution without knowing DNA even existed, because, even for evolution, DNA still is not “The big one”, but it is standard for biologists to teach that DNA is more important to evolution than any other component of living organisms.

Explaining genocentric biology

When Dorothy journeyed to the Emerald City she discovered that The Wizard of Oz was only “a common man”. He was devoid of magic powers and so could not help her friends. But there was at least something behind the facade. The same is true for DNA.

Most cellular molecules are highly reactive and transient chemical substances. That means they are difficult to extract, and hard to study. So it is with RNA and proteins.

DNA, however, is a much more practical point of intervention in biology. It is stable and robust and simple enough to be isolated on a reproducible basis and copied precisely. With an hour of training, high school students can do it. With a bit more training, DNA can be altered and, in some species, replaced. Hence the alarm over garage hacking of DNA.

This explains, in a nutshell, why our understanding of gene regulatory networks runs far ahead of our understanding of other disciplines of biology. It is because DNA is the low hanging fruit of biology.

Scientific dissent around DNA

“The human body completely changes the matter it is made of roughly every 8 weeks, through metabolism, replication and repair. Yet, you’re still you –with all your memories, your personality… If science insists on chasing particles, they will follow them right through an organism and miss the organism entirely.”

Mathematical biologist Robert Rosen is supposed to have said. And indeed, examine any multicellular organism and concealed under its relatively calm surface are circulatory systems, churning stomachs, lymphatic drainage systems, electrical impulses, biomolecular machines and so forth.

These systems cause every part of an organism to continuously move, contract, twist, vibrate, strain and grow. What defines living organisms, in the final analysis, is their dynamic and  animate nature. This is why, when we want to know if an organism has legally died we don’t examine its DNA, we measure its heartbeat or brain function. Animate properties require animate components, like RNA and proteins.

Yet by organizing our understanding of life largely around DNA (recall Mary-Claire King’s “DNA is life”), biologists have curiously chosen the cellular constituent that is probably the least representative of life’s dynamic nature.

For this reason there are dissenters in biology. Some are prominent. Some are not. They all have questioned whether biology is not much more complex and interesting than our present DNA-based framing can make room for (e.g. Kaufman, 1993; Strohman, 1997; Rose, 1999; Woese 2004; Annila and Baverstock 2014; Friston et al., 2015).

These dissenters like to note, for example, the general absence of medico-scientific breakthroughs following the sequencing of the human genome and the ever-more-detailed-analysis-of-tiny-scraps-of-human-DNA (Ioannidis, 2007Dermitzakis and Clark, 2009Manolio et al., 2009).

Some go much further in their critiques than others. Carl Woese, perhaps the best known bacteriologist since Pasteur, argued before his death that genetic determinism is a dead end, its vision of biology is “spent” (Woese, 2004).

There perhaps is no finer example of this than the field of tissue engineering. Tissue engineers claim to have made “incredible” progress making whole human organs in vitro for transplanting and other medical uses, yet these organs are all non-functional (Badylak, 2016). They don’t have blood vessels or immune systems or nerve networks, they are just human cells on an ear-shaped scaffold or a hand-shaped scaffold and so, among their many deficiencies, they are short-lived because they have no regenerative properties.

Many biologists suspect at least part of this paradigm problem, but they rarely act on it. The sole noticeable official response to the obvious fact that organisms are highly complex systems has been to shovel modest funding in the direction of ‘systems biology’.

One is bound to note that even this systems biology is rarely the study of systems. Instead, biologists have overwhelmingly used systems biology funds not to further the understanding of complex systems but to scale up and mechanise their reductionism.

Thus no scientific specialism or institution has articulated the profound inadequacy of viewing organisms as collections of gene regulatory networks or moved towards assembling an alternative paradigm (or paradigms) to replace it (Strohman, 1997).

This intellectual near-vacuum is nevertheless being steadily filled by individual scientists, mostly on the margins, with promising, even revolutionary, theoretical developments and experimental findings that explain biological phenomena in ways that transcend genetics.

A short guide to alternative paradigms of life

A Helmholtz machine is a sensory device that makes a prediction about reality and crosschecks it against that reality. It then estimates the difference between the two. Bayesian statistics is a mathematical method of doing the same: estimating differences between expectation and reality.

A new theory of neurobiology, called the Bayesian brain theory, proposes that the brain is the biological equivalent of these (reviewed in Clark, 2013). Brains make predictions, measure the mismatches with their expectations and pass those mismatches up to higher neural circuits. These higher circuits repeat the process and if mismatches persist then these are passed on to yet ‘higher’ mental levels.

The Bayesian brain hypothesis is quite new and predictive neurons might seem superficially improbable, yet the hypothesis appears to explain numerous aspects of brain structure and brain function; for example, how the brain can treat widely different stimuli (visual, sensual, oral, aural, etc.) essentially with the same neural mechanisms and structures. It also appears to show how the brain can integrate action and perception. The theory also provides a substantive explanation of learning: learning is the updating of the predictive model. The Bayesian brain hypothesis may even explain how brains evolved higher levels of consciousness over evolutionary time periods: by adding new layers of prediction.

A particular strength of the Bayesian brain hypothesis is that it corresponds to the actual spatial organisation of neurons in the primate cortex in which ranks of “predictive” neurons and “sensory” neurons send signals in opposing directions which lets them cancel each other out (except for the mismatches).

The structure-based predictive learning system proposed by the Bayesian brain hypothesis is of interest here because it relegates detailed genetic explanations of many phenomena, including arguably all consciousness, to the margins (Friston, 2010). Genes and proteins may fill in the details but many of the key elements of brain function: learning, action, and perception, derive primarily from structure alone. I.e., like protein folding, they are emergent properties of organisation.

Emergent properties are equally important in other areas of biology. An example is the vascular system of plants. Trees can transport water from unsaturated sources hundreds of feet into the air. Transpiration, as it is called, requires no energy input. Rather, it takes advantage purely physical properties of hydrophilic xylem tissues (tubes) and the properties of water itself. Without transpiration, which already operates, but only very weakly, in soils, plants could not exceed a couple of inches in height, nor tolerate dry conditions (Wheeler and Stroock, 2008). Thus, the defining characteristic of plants (apart from photosynthesis) is their clever exploitation of a simple physical property of water.

A further example is the arches of the human foot. These are longitudinal and transverse diaphragms composed of bone and connective tissue whose emergent property is both to dissipate forces at impact and operate as springs to transfer energy from impact into forward motion. Arches reduce the energy needed to walk or run.

In the discipline of biochemistry, a recent development is the proposed existence of metabolons. Metabolons are three-dimensional spatial arrangements of enzymes. Metabolons explain how the product of an ostensibly minor metabolic pathway can nevertheless constitute 30% of the weight of a seedling and so drive away pests (Laursen et al., 2017).

A more conventional class of self-organising properties found in biology are homeostatic feedback loops. They too are phenomena largely independent of gene functions with key roles in explaining the activities and properties of living organisms. The three proteins noted earlier that can recreate a bacterial circadian rhythm are just one example (Nakajima et al., 2005).

At more elemental and universal levels of life are unifying theories of cells and metabolism, many of which relate life to the operation of fundamental physical forces. The father of all such theories was arguably Nicolas Rashevsky, who died in 1972. He is survived by his students Robert Rosen and AH Louie. Others include physicist Erwin Schrödinger, author of “What is life?“; Stuart Kauffman, author of “The Origins of Order” (1993); Steven Rose “Lifelines: Biology beyond determinism” (1997); Enrico Coen “The Art of Genes” (1999); Denis Noble, “The Music of Life” (2003) and Dance to the Tune of Life: Biological Relativity (2017); and Annila and Baverstock who argue life is the inevitable outcome of the second law of thermodynamics (Annila and Baverstock, 2014; see also Friston et al., 2015). These, and other omitted thinkers, have gone far in assembling the potential raw material for a scientific revolution. One that leaves the framework of gene regulatory networks far behind.

The closest that of any of these theories come to definitively falsifying genetic determinism as a life-concept, however, would be a theory of the origin of life itself that positions metabolism at the centre.

Readers may be familiar with the concept of the RNA world, which is theorised to have predated the supposed “modern DNA world”. But more convincing than an RNA world, for which there is little evidence, is a new theory, the peptide-RNA world.

The central piece of evidence of the peptide-RNA origin thesis (Carter, 2016) is that the enzyme (called aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase) that nowadays links RNA to proteins—and which therefore connects the RNA world to the protein world—comes in two basic forms (in all organisms). The evolutionary origin of these two forms (called Class I and Class II enzymes), however, is strangely irreconcilable. Class I and II molecules perform almost identical functions (though with different amino acids) yet have nothing structurally in common. Except for one thing. Their most conserved aminoacids, those at their active catalytic centre, can be derived from opposite strands of the same small RNA molecule (Carter 2016). In other words, the two proteins that let RNA make all modern proteins are derived from opposite strands of a single very primitive small RNA molecule that encoded them both.

The implication of this compelling observation is to intimately link metabolism and replication at a very early stage of life’s origins. RNA was the assembler of primitive proteins and the purpose of those proteins was catalysis, i.e. to guide and enhance metabolism. What the peptide-RNA origin thesis therefore does is to replaces the RNA world—which is a replication-first theory—with a metabolism-first theory in that RNA is enhancing a metabolism that already predated it.

DNA and politics

“Human biology is actually far more complicated than we imagine. Everybody talks about the genes that they received from their mother and father, for this trait or the other. But in reality, those genes have very little impact on life outcomes. Our biology is way too complicated for that and deals with hundreds of thousands of independent factors. Genes are absolutely not our fate. They can give us useful information about the increased risk of a disease, but in most cases they will not determine the actual cause of the disease, or the actual incidence of somebody getting it. Most biology will come from the complex interaction of all the proteins and cells working with environmental factors, not driven directly by the genetic code”. (Anand et al., 2008)

This quotation, spoken (but not written), by Craig Venter, the legendary genome sequencer, suggests that even many geneticists secretly appreciate a clear need for alternative paradigms.

At the same timethe Venter quote prompts a deep question: How is it that, if organisms are the principal objects of biological study, and the standard explanation of their origin and operation is so scientifically weak that it has to award DNA imaginary superpowers of “expression” and “control” to paper over the cracks, have scientists nevertheless clung to it?

Why is it that, rather than celebrating and investing in Rashevsky, Kauffman, Noble, et al., as pioneers of necessary and potentially fruitful and unifying paradigms, have these researchers been ignored by mainstream biology?

What is the big attraction of genetic determinism?

A compelling and non-intuitive explanation for the monomania of biology does exist. It is set out in a second and forthcoming article: The Meaning of Life. It is an explanation that requires going behind the window dressing of science and examining its active and symbiotic relation to power in modern political systems.

Source*

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