Category: Bioethics


Earth Watch Report  –  Biological Hazards

File:Neutrophil and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococccus aureus (MRSA) Bacteria.jpg

 

Scanning electron micrograph of neutrophil ingesting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Credit: NIAID   National Institutes of Health.

NIAID/NIH

Wikimedia.org

 

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May 13 2014 03:04 AM Biological Hazard Denmark [The area was not defined.] Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

Biological Hazard in Denmark on Tuesday, 13 May, 2014 at 03:04 (03:04 AM) UTC.

Description
A troubling and also kind of odd story came out of Denmark this weekend. In a court proceeding, a microbiologist has disclosed that three residents of the country who had no known connection to farming died of MRSA infections caused by ST398, the livestock-associated strain of drug-resistant staph that first appeared among pig farmers in the Netherlands in 2004 and has since moved through Europe, Canada and the United States. If the report is correct – and sources have told me it is, but I’ve seen no data to confirm it – it reinforces the concern that bacteria which become resistant because of antibiotic use on farms can move off farms and affect the health of people who have no connection to farming. Livestock MRSA has always one of the best cases for establishing that, because the drug to which it showed the greatest resistance, tetracycline, wasn’t used against human MRSA in the Netherlands, but was used routinely on farms – so the only place the strain could have picked up its unique resistance pattern was in pigs. (Here’s my long archive of posts on pig MRSA, dating back to my book Superbug where the story was told for the first time.) Just to get them high up, here are some Danish news sources; this sees to have been a widely covered story. Danish isn’t one of my languages, so I’ve relied on Google Translate – not the best practice, but there’s enough agreement among the stories that I am comfortable with it in this case.
Biohazard name: MRSA (pig, human)
Biohazard level: 3/4 Hight
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
Symptoms:
Status: confirmed

 

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Denmark: Three Deaths from Drug-Resistant “Pig MRSA”

ICStefanescu (CC), Flickr

A troubling and also kind of odd story came out of Denmark this weekend. In a court proceeding, a microbiologist has disclosed that three residents of the country who had no known connection to farming died of MRSA infections caused by ST398, the livestock-associated strain of drug-resistant staph that first appeared among pig farmers in the Netherlands in 2004 and has since moved through Europe, Canada and the United States.

If the report is correct — and sources have told me it is, but I’ve seen no data to confirm it — it reinforces the concern that bacteria which become resistant because of antibiotic use on farms can move off farms and affect the health of people who have no connection to farming.

Livestock MRSA has always one of the best cases for establishing that, because the drug to which it showed the greatest resistance, tetracycline, wasn’t used against human MRSA in the Netherlands, but was used routinely on farms — so the only place the strain could have picked up its unique resistance pattern was in pigs. (Here’s my long archive of posts on pig MRSA, dating back to my book Superbug where the story was told for the first time.)

Just to get them high up, here are some Danish news sources; this sees to have been a widely covered story. Danish isn’t one of my languages, so I’ve relied on Google Translate — not the best practice, but there’s enough agreement among the stories that I am comfortable with it in this case.

  • The Information: “Filthy use of antibiotics”
  • Kvalls Posten: “Resistant swine bacterium has killed three Danes”
  • DR DK: “Politicians are worried about swine bacteria”
  • Avisen: “Three Danes die of swine bacteria”
  • Ekstra Bladet: “Three died from killer bacteria from pigs”
  • Fyens: “University hospital physician: Three died of swine bacteria”

 

Read More Here

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Prevent Disease

 

May 6, 2014 by MARCO TORRES

 

You don’t need milk or yogurt to benefit from highly bioavailable sources of calcium. In fact, contrary to popular belief, most dairy products do not possess any type of calcium that is easily absorbed in the body. Here are some of the best foods you can eat with both high nutrient density and high bioavailable calcium.

The pasteurization process involved in the manufacture of most dairy products creates calcium carbonate, which has absolutely no way of entering the cells without a chelating agent. When we drink milk, the body pulls the calcium from the bones and other tissues in order to buffer the calcium carbonate in the blood. This process weakens gradually weakens bones, not make them stronger. It’s one of the reasons we have such high rates of osteoporosis in the United States.

Milk also has little to no nutrient density because pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, and kills beneficial bacteria. It’s the main reason pasteurized milk promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

Many natural food sources have high bioavailable calcium, meaning they are absorbed and becomes available for the body to utilize physiologically after consumption. Nutrient density is the ratio of nutrient content to the total energy content. Thus, nutrient-dense foods are those foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories.

Many natural food sources have high bioavailable calcium, meaning they are absorbed and becomes available for the body to utilize physiologically after consumption. Nutrient density is the ratio of nutrient content to the total energy content. Thus, nutrient-dense foods are those foods that provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals and relatively few calories.

Eating a combination of these 20 foods will give you all the calcium and nutrient density you’ll ever need.

In order of highest calcium:

1) Dried Herbs (Dried Basil, Thyme, Marjoram, Rosemary, Dill)
2113mg per 100 grams

2) Sesame Seeds
975mg per 100 grams

3) Chia Seeds (Dried)
631mg per 100 grams

4) Fireweed Leaves
429mg per 100 grams

5) Sardines
382mg per 100 grams

6) Grape Leaves
289mg per 100 grams

7) Chili Powder
278mg per 100 grams

8) Almonds
264mg per 100 grams

9) Flaxseeds
255mg per 100 grams

10) Collards Raw
232mg per 100 grams

11) Natto
217mg per 100 grams

12) Amaranth Greens (Chinese Spinach, Hinn Choy, Yin Tsoi, Rajgira, Bayam, Kulitis, Callaloo)
215mg per 100 grams

13) Garlic
181mg per 100 grams

14) Kelp (Seaweed)
168mg per 100 grams

15) Lotus Seeds
163mg per 100 grams

16) Brazil Nuts

160mg per 100 grams

17) Parsley
138mg per 100 grams

18) Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (Spinach, Swiss Chard, Beet Greens, Kale)
99mg per 100 grams Raw

19) Rhubarb
86mg per 100 grams

20) Fish (Herring, Pike, Bass, Perch, Rainbow Trout, Pollock)
74mg per 100 grams cooked

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

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January 18, 2014 | 49,140 views

By Dr. Mercola

Cereal giant General Mills has announced that its original-flavor Cheerios will soon be made without the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

It’s a major step in the right direction that also highlights the changing attitudes among the US public regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs)… increasing numbers of people simply do not want them in our food.

For some of you, the news that Cheerios even contained GM ingredients to begin with may come as a surprise, as GM ingredients are not required to be labeled in the US (the way they are in the European Union or EU).

Others may have assumed they were GM-free, since they’re made mostly from oats, not corn or soy, which are two of the most commonly used GMOs in the US. Unbeknownst to many, however, Cheerios were formerly made using GM cornstarch and sugar.

Most likely, though, General Mills’ move was made in response to recent consumer backlash, proving once again that the power to clean up the food supply lies in your hands.

 

Consumer Backlash Likely Drove General Mills to Drop GMOs from Cheerios

 

General Mills reported earlier this month that they’ve already begun producing Cheerios made without GMOs. To be clear, the change will only apply to its original-flavor cereal (not Apple Cinnamon or others), and the boxes will be labeled “Not Made with Genetically Modified Ingredients.”

There will also be a disclaimer that trace amounts of GMO ingredients may be present due to contamination during the manufacturing process.1 The move comes just weeks after General Mills’ Cheerios brand released a Facebook app asking “fans” to “show what Cheerios mean to them.”

The app allowed users to create their own placards using Cheerios’ trademarked black font on a yellow background, where dots and periods featured little cheerios. One day later, the app was abruptly pulled after thousands of angry “fans” expressed their disgust over the company’s betrayal. What betrayal, you ask?

General Mills donated more than $1.1 million to the “No on Prop. 37″ campaign to defeat California’s Proposition 37, which would have required GM foods to be labeled as such and prevented GM foods from being mislabeled as “natural.”

Proposition 37 was defeated back in November 2012 due to massive donations from multinational corporations, such as General Mills, which hide GM ingredients behind natural labels and “wholesome” advertising. Two of the first three ingredients in Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios are cornstarch and sugar—two ingredients that are often genetically engineered.

 

You Spoke… and General Mills Listened!

 

Many people are now waking up to the fact that there is an ever-growing number of genetically engineered ingredients in our food that we had no idea were there. As far as Cheerios goes, you’d never get the impression there might be anything unnatural about their cereal.

But when it came out that the company had been donating to efforts to keep GM labeling silent, their trust for providing “wholesome goodness” (as their Web site claims) was badly broken.

After all, they would rather pay millions to hide that their products contain GM ingredients rather than give you the choice to buy something else… or reformulate their product without GM ingredients (which would be the sensible thing to do if they were really concerned about children’s long-term health and well-being).

After all the backlash – remember, there were thousands of people speaking out against their GMO deception on their Facebook page – General Mills got proactive with damage control by removing the GM ingredients from their flagship product. Now, if they’ll extend it to their other products as well, we’ll be getting somewhere…

Monsanto Disses GMO-Free Cheerios as a Marketing Stunt

Monsanto, the world leader in genetically modified (GM) crops and seeds, dismissed General Mills’ move to make Cheerios GMO-free, calling it a ‘marketing’ move. CEO Hugh Grant focused his comments on the fact that oats are the main ingredient in original Cheerios, and there are no GM oats.

Still, there is GM corn and GM sugar, two other ingredients used in the cereal. Clearly Monsanto is keen on downplaying the positive press that General Mills is receiving over labeling their products as free from GMOs. Could this signal the beginning of the end for the unspoken partnership between biotech and the junk-food industry?

CEO Hugh Grant said:2

“The interesting thing with Cheerios over that particular brand is they’re made from oats, and there are no biotech oats in existence today. So I think we’ve talked for years about we would support voluntary labeling and that was up to companies to do. I think we saw last week was the first real life example of true voluntary labeling and probably a little bit of marketing as well.”

Monsanto is not going to let GM labeling happen without a fight, however. Last year the company donated nearly $5 million to the anti-labeling campaign in Washington State, and in 2012 they donated more than $7 million to help defeat California’s Proposition 37.

Curiously enough, Monsanto is more than willing to “support” GMO labeling once they run out of options. They even ran an ad in the UK letting British consumers know how much the company supports the mandatory labeling of their goods—even urging Britons to seek such labels out—ostensibly because Monsanto believes “you should be aware of all the facts before making a decision.”

 

Forbes Asks: Are GMO-Free Cheerios “The First Domino”?

 

The first white flag from the food industry has gone up, and even Forbes had to admit it. With increasing GMO-labeling initiatives on state ballots and regulators considering labeling changes on a national level, the food industry has been standing together to defeat this rising opposition … until now.

General Mills’ move sets it apart from the other industry giants in showing that they are responding to consumer demand. It’s a wise move that will win them major favor among the growing number of Americans seeking safer food while costing them little (the actual tweaking of their recipe to become GMO-free will be minimal). This may very well be the ‘first domino’ to fall …

In fact, Post Foods recently announced that they have released a non-GMO verified Grape Nuts cereal that is available on store shelves as of January 2014.. and they’re looking to add even more non-GMO verified products, noting that

We are always listening to our consumers…”

So it seems the dominoes are already beginning to fail. As for why General Mills’ made their move at such a pivotal time in GM-food history, Forbes hit the nail on the head:3

The answer is that public opinion is reaching critical mass. Ninety-percent of Americans believe that GMOs are unsafe, 93 percent of Americans favor stringent federal GMO labeling regulations, and 57 percent say they would be less likely to buy products labeled as genetically modified. When we shift the focus from General Mills motivations to the timing of its decision, we see why every food manufacturer ought to be taking notice, whether another brand-name kitchen table staple goes non-GMO or not.”

 

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Playing Keep Away From GMOs

SuperMarket News

 

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By Dr. Mercola

In a recent article titled “Monsanto GM Soy is Scarier than You Think,” Mother Jones1 went into some of the details surrounding our genetically engineered (GE) food supply.

Soybeans are the second-largest food crop grown in the US, and more than 90 percent of it is genetically engineered. Some have been modified to withstand the herbicide Roundup (i.e. Roundup-Ready soy), while other varieties have been designed to produce its own pesticide, courtesy of the Bt gene (so-called Bt soy).

As noted in the featured article, organic soy production is miniscule, accounting for less than one percent of the total acreage devoted to soy in the US. The rest is conventionally grown non-GE soy.

Even if you don’t buy soy products such as tofu or soy milk, you’re undoubtedly consuming plenty of soy if you’re eating any processed foods and/or meats from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). A large portion of the GE soy grown actually ends up in your meat, as soy is a staple of conventional livestock feed. Much of the rest ends up as vegetable oil.

According to the US Soy Board, soybean oil accounts for more than 60 percent of all the vegetable oil consumed in the US—most of which is used in processed foods and fast food preparation. As noted in the featured article:2

“Given soy’s centrality to our food and agriculture systems, the findings of a new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Chemistry3 are worth pondering.

The authors found that Monsanto’s ubiquitous Roundup Ready soybeans… contain more herbicide residues than their non-GMO counterparts. The team also found that the GM beans are nutritionally inferior.”

 

New Research Questions Quality and Safety of GE Soybeans

 

Three varieties of Iowa-grown soybeans were investigated in this study:4

  1. Roundup Ready soybeans
  2. Non-GE, conventional soybeans grown using Roundup herbicide
  3. Organic soybeans, grown without agricultural chemicals

All of the Roundup Ready soybean samples were found to contain residues of glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Roundup, along with its amino acid metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA).

On average, GE soy contained 11.9 parts per million (ppm) of glyphosate. The highest residue level found was 20.1 ppm. Meanwhile, no residues of either kind were found in the conventional non-GE and organic varieties.

In terms of nutrition, organic soybeans contained slightly higher levels of protein and lower levels of omega-6, compared to both conventionally-grown non-GE and GE soy. Similar results were found in a 2012 nutritional analysis of GE corn, which was found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GMO corn.

It may be worth noting that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actually raised the allowable levels of glyphosate5, 6 in oilseed crops such as soy, from 20 ppm to 40 ppm just last summer. It also raised the levels of permissible glyphosate contamination in other foods—many of which were raised to 15-25 times previous levels!

 

Why Glyphosate Contamination Matters

 

Nearly one BILLION pounds of Roundup are used each year for conventional crop production around the globe, but genetically engineered (GE) crops see some of the heaviest use. This is especially true for Roundup Ready crops, which are designed to withstand otherwise lethal doses of this chemical.

The issue of glyphosate contamination is well worth considering if you value your health. Recent research suggests glyphosate may in fact be an instrumental driver of many chronic diseases, and in my view, avoiding glyphosate is a major reason for buying organic, in and of itself.

Labeling GMOs could help you select products that are less likely to have heavy contamination, although you’d also avoid many other hazardous chemicals used in conventional farming by opting for products labeled 100% organic.

It’s important to understand that these glyphosate residues CANNOT be washed off, as the chemical is actively integrated into every cell in the plant. Dr. Don Huber, who is one of the most prominent scientific experts in plant toxicology, firmly believes glyphosate is FAR more toxic and dangerous than DDT. A number of other studies have raised serious questions about the safety of glyphosate, including but not limited to the following:

  • Research published in the International Journal of Toxicology7 in January revealed that glyphosate-based formulations like Roundup pose a threat to human health through cytotoxicity and oxidative effects. Such formulations were also found to be lethal to human liver cells
  • A 2012 study8 found that 3 ppm of Roundup in water induced morphological changes in frogs
  • A German study9 on poultry, published in 2013, showed that glyphosate tends to be more harmful to beneficial gut bacteria like Lactobacillus, while pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella entritidi tend to be largely resistant to the chemical. Subsequently, the microbial balance tends to shift toward pathogenic overgrowth when exposed to glyphosate, and can predispose the animal to botulism

Victory! Vermont Passes First Effective GMO-Labeling Bill

 

On April 16, 2014, the Vermont Senate passed the first no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill (H.112) by an overwhelming margin—28-2. The bill sailed through a House/Senate conference committee and was approved by the House of Representatives on April 23.

Governor Shumlin has already indicated he will be signing the bill into law—which will require any genetically engineered food sold in Vermont to be labeled by July 1, 2016.10 Food served in restaurants, alcohol, meat, and dairy products would be exempt from labeling however. Foods containing GMO ingredients would also not be allowed to be labeled “natural.”

“I am proud of Vermont for being the first state in the nation to ensure that Vermonters will know what is in their food,” Governor Shumlin said in a statement. “The Legislature has spoken loud and clear through its passage of this bill. I wholeheartedly agree with them and look forward to signing this bill into law.”

This is truly an historical moment that will likely reverberate across the US in coming years. As noted by Ronnie Cummins in a recent Huffington Post article:11

“Strictly speaking, Vermont’s H.112 applies only to Vermont. But it will have the same impact on the marketplace as a federal law. Because national food and beverage companies and supermarkets will not likely risk the ire of their customers by admitting that many of the foods and brands they are selling in Vermont are genetically engineered, and deceptively labeled as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural’ while simultaneously trying to conceal this fact in the other 49 states and North American markets. As a seed executive for Monsanto admitted 20 years ago, ‘If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.'”

The Burlington Free Press12 recently ran an excellent article on how the Vermont GMO labeling bill was won. I would highly encourage you to read it in its entirety, to get a real-world view of just how effective a grassroots campaign can be. It really boils down to letting your representatives know what you want. Despite the threat of a lawsuit from food manufacturers, Vermont legislators realized that their constituents were serious about wanting GMOs labeled. And they voted accordingly. Indeed, the chemical technology and food industry knows this, which is why they’ve fought tooth and nail to stop any and all GMO labeling efforts in the US. They’ve even threatened to sue any state that passes a labeling law—a threat taken seriously by Vermont.

 

Vermont Braces for Legal Challenge

 

Vermont Senate agreed to establish a state defense fund to pay for legal costs associated with defending the law against any legal challenge by the food industry, which will undoubtedly be spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). It’s unlikely that the industry would win such a legal challenge, however. As reported by the Burlington Free Press:13

“Rep. Teo Zagar, D-Barnard, told House members that… changes the Senate made will help the state prevail in court. ‘This bill has been re-engineered to be more resistant to legal challenge,’ he said.”

As you may recall, after getting caught laundering money and narrowly defeating the Washington labeling campaign, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) sued the state of Washington, arguing they should be allowed to hide their donors—which is a direct violation of state campaign disclosure laws—in order to “speak with one voice” for the interests of the food industry.14 I subsequently named the GMA “the most evil corporation on the planet,” considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are hell-bent on violating some of your most basic rights, just to protect their own profits.

The GMA was initially forced to reveal their donors, but has since removed their online membership list—again hiding their members to prevent consumer awareness of who is behind this radical front group. You can find the cached members list on web.archive.org15 however. Not surprisingly, Pepsi, Coke, and Nestle—top purveyors of chronic ill health—were the top funders trying to hide their identity during the Washington State GMO labeling campaign.

 

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Antibiotic resistance now ‘global threat’, WHO warns

Lab research into new antibiotics WHO called for more preventative measures against infection

It analysed data from 114 countries and said resistance was happening now “in every region of the world”.

It described a “post-antibiotic era”, where people die from simple infections that have been treatable for decades.

There were likely to be “devastating” implications unless “significant” action was taken urgently, it added.

The report focused on seven different bacteria responsible for common serious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and blood infections.

It suggested two key antibiotics no longer work in more than half of people being treated in some countries.

What we urgently need is a solid global plan of action which provides for the rational use of antibiotics”

Dr Jennifer Cohn Medecins sans Frontiers

One of them – carbapenem – is a so-called “last-resort” drug used to treat people with life-threatening infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and infections in newborns, caused by the bacteria K.pneumoniae.

Bacteria naturally mutate to eventually become immune to antibiotics, but the misuse of these drugs – such as doctors over-prescribing them and patients failing to finish courses – means it is happening much faster than expected.

The WHO says more new antibiotics need to be developed, while governments and individuals should take steps to slow the process of growing resistance.

In its report, it said resistance to antibiotics for E.coli urinary tract infections had increased from “virtually zero” in the 1980s to being ineffective in more than half of cases today.

In some countries, it said, resistance to antibiotics used to treat the bacteria “would not work in more than half of people treated”.

 

Read More Here

 

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Antibiotic resistance: 6 diseases that may come back to haunt us

Still think of TB, typhoid and gonorrhoea as infections from the past? WHO’s terrifying report will make you think again
Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea

Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea. Photograph: Dr. David M. Phillips/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

Diseases we thought were long gone, nothing to worry about, or easy to treat could come back with a vengeance, according to the recent World Health Organisation report on global antibiotic resistance. Concern at this serious threat to public health has been growing; complacency could result in a crisis with the potential to affect everyone, not just those in poor countries or without access to advanced healthcare. Already diseases that were treatable in the past, such as tuberculosis, are often fatal now, and others are moving in the same direction. And the really terrifying thing is that the problem is already with us: this is not science fiction, but contemporary reality. So what are some of the infections that could come back to haunt us?

Tuberculosis

TB ought to be treatable within six months once people are prescribed a course of drugs including the once potent antibiotics isoniazid and rifampicin. But today, resistance has emerged not only to these medicines, but to the wider range of pharmaceuticals used to treat the disease. This has led to the emergence of multi-drug-resistant TB, the still less treatable extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), and even to total drug-resistant TB, which has only officially been confirmed in India. Countries such as South Africa have run out of treatment options for many of their patients and are having to discharge them from hospital. Resistance to TB has reached a global scale with XDR-TB now reported in 92 countries.

Gonorrhoea

The sexually transmitted nature of this infection makes it something many are reluctant to talk about or admit to having. However, it’s long been thought of as easily treatable and nothing much to fear. Once fixable with penicillin and tetracycline, the bacteria behind the disease have developed such high levels of resistance that there is only one drug left that can treat it. Even this antibiotic, ceftriaxone, is becoming less effective. With last-resort drugs losing their impact, this sexually transmitted infection (STI) could spread throughout the population.

Klebsiella

It’s likely that you’ve never heard of this common bacterium, which can cause a wide range of conditions including pneumonia, urinary tract infections, septicaemia, meningitis and diarrhoea. It fits into a wider group of bacteria with the apt acronym of Eskape owing to their ability to avoid the effects of the antibiotics used against them. The acronym stands for the names of the bacterial group members: Enterococcus faecium; Staphylococcus aureus; Klebsiella pneumoniae; Acinetobacter baumannii; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; and Enterobacter. Klebsiella and the rest of this group are increasingly being acquired in hospitals. While we fear MRSA, it is in fact a declining threat in hospitals; at the same time Eskape pathogens are causing more and more problems. As the WHO report highlighted, routine hospital visits or treatments could result in these previously treatable bacteria having fatal consequences.

 

Read More Here

 

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File:Red Delicious apples.jpg

red delicious  Sonita Lewis

Wikimedia.org

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Why American Apples Just Got Banned in Europe

| Wed Apr. 23, 2014 9:01 PM PDT

Back in 2008, European Food Safety Authority began pressing the chemical industry to provide safety information on a substance called diphenylamine, or DPA. Widely applied to apples after harvest, DPA prevents “storage scald”—brown spots that “becomes a concern when fruit is stored for several months,” according to Washington State University, reporting from the heartland of industrial-scale apple production.

DPA isn’t believed to be harmful on its own. But it has the potential to break down into a family of carcinogens called nitrosamines—not something you want to find on your daily apple. And that’s why European food safety regulators wanted more information on it. The industry came back with just “one study that detected three unknown chemicals on DPA-treated apples, but it could not determine if any of these chemicals, apparently formed when the DPA broke down, were nitrosamines,” Environmental Working Group shows in an important new report. (The EFSA was concerned that DPA could decay into nitrosamines under contact with nitrogen, a ubiquitous element, EWG notes.) Unsatisfied with the response, the EFSA banned use of DPA on apples in 2012. And in March, the agency then slashed the tolerable level of DPA on imported apples to 0.1 parts per million, EWG reports.

 

Read More Here

 

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Most apples in the US drenched with chemical banned in Europe

Published time: April 24, 2014 23:06

AFP Photo / Remy Gabalda

AFP Photo / Remy Gabalda

A chemical used on most non-organic American apples that preserves the fruit’s color after harvest was banned by the European Union in 2012 because its makers could not prove it did not put human health at risk, according to a new study.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found in 2010 that 80 percent of apples harvested in the United States are coated with diphenylamine, or DPA, a “growth regulator” that works to stave off darkening of the fruit’s skin during months of cold storage.

DPA, regulated as a pesticide, has been used in the US since 1962. The USDA has reported that DPA residue is found more often and at greater concentrations that most other pesticide residues. The chemical has been detected in apple juice and applesauce, as well as pears and pear baby food. In fact, the USDA has consistently found that apples are one of the most pesticide-treated products in the American produce market.

Beginning in 2008, the EU’s European Commission asked European producers of DPA to prove nitrosamines – a family of powerful carcinogens – and other harmful substances would not develop from a mixture of DPA and nitrogen, a common element in the environment. The Commission was interested in whether those formations occurred when containers of DPA sat unattended, when DPA was used to treat fruit for storage, or when DPA-doused fruit was made into juices, purees, and sauces.

 

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Food Poisoning Bulletin

lifefit-recallLifeFit dietary supplement is being recalled because it contains an undeclared controlled substance that was banned in 2010 for safety reasons. Consumers who have purchased this product should not use it as it poses a serious health threat.

Bacai, LifeFit’s distrbuter, is voluntarily recalling the product sold in plastic bottles of 30 softgels with the lot number 13165. The lot number is located next to the expiration date May 2017. It was distributed worldwide to wholesalers, retailers, and through the internet.

An analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that the product contains sibutramine, which causes substantial increase in blood pressure and/or pulse rate. This can pose a  in significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke. The drug can also cause a life-threatening situation if taken with other medications.

 

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Meridia (sibutramine): Market Withdrawal Due to Risk of Serious Cardiovascular Events

[Posted 10/08/2010]

AUDIENCE: Primary Care, Consumers

ISSUE: Abbott Laboratories and FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients about the voluntary withdrawal of Meridia (sibutramine), an obesity drug, from the U.S. market because of clinical trial data indicating an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

BACKGROUND: Meridia was approved November 1997 for weight loss and maintenance of weight loss in obese people, as well as in certain overweight people with other risks for heart disease. The approval was based on clinical data showing that more people receiving sibutramine lost at least 5 percent of their body weight than people on placebo who relied on diet and exercise alone. FDA has now requested market withdrawal after reviewing data from the Sibutramine Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial (SCOUT). SCOUT is part of a postmarket requirement to look at cardiovascular safety of sibutramine after the European approval of the drug. The trial demonstrated a 16 percent increase in the risk of serious heart events, including non-fatal heart attack, non-fatal stroke, the need to be resuscitated once the heart stopped, and death, in a group of patients given sibutramine compared with another given placebo. There was a small difference in weight loss between the placebo group and the group that received sibutramine.

RECOMMENDATION: Physicians are advised to stop prescribing Meridia to their patients, and patients should stop taking this medication. Patients should talk to their health care provider about alternative weight loss and weight loss maintenance programs.

 

[10/08/2010 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]
[10/08/2010 - Questions and Answers - FDA]
[10/08/2010 - News Release - FDA]

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The Center for Food Safety is warning the public that the EPA is set to approve the direct spraying of the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) on Dow Chemical’s genetically engineered corn and soybeans. That chemical is one-half of the compound called “Agent Orange” used in Vietnam to destroy foliage; it caused cancer among Vietnam veterans. EPA will render a decision after a 30 day comment period. Dow developed the GE crops, known as “Enlist”, to withstand high doses of 2,4-D (which it also sells) after its disastrous Roundup Ready crops created glyphosate-resistant superweeds.

Crop DustingYou can sign a petition opposing this action at CFS web site called “Dow Watch”. CFS opposes this move by the EPA because they state, “wide scale use of herbicides in tandem with GE crops has led to an epidemic of herbicide resistant weeds, and the next step in the chemical arms race is Dow Chemical’s 2,4-D, a chemical linked to major health problems including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems.”

 

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​EPA advances approval of powerful weed killer for Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ GMO crops

Published time: May 02, 2014 00:56
Edited time: May 03, 2014 14:35

Reuters / Doug Wilson / USDA<br />
Photo / Handout<br />
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<p class=Reuters / Doug Wilson / USDA Photo / Handout

The US Environmental Protection Agency has revealed a proposal for mass use of Dow Chemical’s herbicide 2,4-D on the company’s genetically-engineered corn and soybeans. The GE crops were developed to withstand several herbicides, including 2,4-D.

Dow would be allowed to sell the herbicide if the EPA approves it following a 30-day public comment period.

The 2,4-D chemical, combined with glyphosate, makes up the herbicide Enlist Duo. 2,4-D also makes up half of the toxic mix in the now infamous ‘Agent Orange,’ used by the United States during the Vietnam War, which is thought to have resulted in the deaths of an estimated 400,000 people and birth defects in 500,000 others.

Dow’s genetically-engineered corn and soybeans – known as Enlist – have received preliminary approval from the US Department of Agriculture. Should Enlist crops win ultimate authorization, the USDA said that would increase the annual use of 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) in the United States from 26 million pounds per year to possibly 176 million pounds.

The crops are designed to withstand high doses of glyphosate – brought to market by biotech giant Monsanto as their Roundup weed killer – and 2,4-D. Dow’s corn and soybeans thus earned the derogatory name ‘Agent Orange’ crops by opponents of both the highly-toxic chemical mix and the controversial use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in large-scale agriculture.

 

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Deaths tied to VA hospital’s secret list

 

(CNN)

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far.

Internal e-mails obtained by CNN show that top management at the VA hospital in Arizona knew about the practice and even defended it.

Dr. Sam Foote just retired after spending 24 years with the VA system in Phoenix. The veteran doctor told CNN in an exclusive interview that the Phoenix VA works off two lists for patient appointments:

There’s an “official” list that’s shared with officials in Washington and shows the VA has been providing timely appointments, which Foote calls a sham list. And then there’s the real list that’s hidden from outsiders, where wait times can last more than a year.

Deliberate scheme, shredded evidence

“The scheme was deliberately put in place to avoid the VA’s own internal rules,” said Foote in Phoenix. “They developed the secret waiting list,” said Foote, a respected local physician.

The VA requires its hospitals to provide care to patients in a timely manner, typically within 14 to 30 days, Foote said.

According to Foote, the elaborate scheme in Phoenix involved shredding evidence to hide the long list of veterans waiting for appointments and care. Officials at the VA, Foote says, instructed their staff to not actually make doctor’s appointments for veterans within the computer system.

Instead, Foote says, when a veteran comes in seeking an appointment, “they enter information into the computer and do a screen capture hard copy printout. They then do not save what was put into the computer so there’s no record that you were ever here,” he said.

According to Foote, the information was gathered on the secret electronic list and then the information that would show when veterans first began waiting for an appointment was actually destroyed.

“That hard copy, if you will, that has the patient demographic information is then taken and placed onto a secret electronic waiting list, and then the data that is on that paper is shredded,” Foote said.

“So the only record that you have ever been there requesting care was on that secret list,” he said. “And they wouldn’t take you off that secret list until you had an appointment time that was less than 14 days so it would give the appearance that they were improving greatly the waiting times, when in fact they were not.”

I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA. They all wish they could leave ’cause they know what they’re doing is wrong.
Dr. Sam Foote

Foote estimates right now the number of veterans waiting on the “secret list” to see a primary care physician is somewhere between 1,400 and 1,600.

Doctor: It’s a ‘frustrated’ staff

“I feel very sorry for the people who work at the Phoenix VA,” said Foote. “They’re all frustrated. They’re all upset. They all wish they could leave ’cause they know what they’re doing is wrong.

“But they have families, they have mortgages and if they speak out or say anything to anybody about it, they will be fired and they know that.”

Several other high-level VA staff confirmed Foote’s description to CNN and confirmed this is exactly how the secret list works in Phoenix.

Foote says the Phoenix wait times reported back to Washington were entirely fictitious. “So then when they did that, they would report to Washington, ‘Oh yeah. We’re makin’ our appointments within — within 10 days, within the 14-day frame,’ when in reality it had been six, nine, in some cases 21 months,” he said.

November: A dire situation in South Carolina

Thomas Breen was so proud of his time in the Navy that he wanted to be treated only at a VA facility, his family says.

In the case of 71-year-old Navy veteran Thomas Breen, the wait on the secret list ended much sooner.

“We had noticed that he started to have bleeding in his urine,” said Teddy Barnes-Breen, his son. “So I was like, ‘Listen, we gotta get you to the doctor.’ “

Teddy says his Brooklyn-raised father was so proud of his military service that he would go nowhere but the VA for treatment. On September 28, 2013, with blood in his urine and a history of cancer, Teddy and his wife, Sally, rushed his father to the Phoenix VA emergency room, where he was examined and sent home to wait.

“They wrote on his chart that it was urgent,” said Sally, her father-in-law’s main caretaker. The family has obtained the chart from the VA that clearly states the “urgency” as “one week” for Breen to see a primary care doctor or at least a urologist, for the concerns about the blood in the urine.

“And they sent him home,” says Teddy, incredulously.

Sally and Teddy say Thomas Breen was given an appointment with a rheumatologist to look at his prosthetic leg but was given no appointment for the main reason he went in.

Read More and Watch Video Here

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Veterans dying waiting for healthcare

Are we fulfilling our promise to veterans?

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Lives ‘left in ruin’ by rising tide of depression drugs

More people are being put on the pills but some experts are now warning they do more harm than good. Julia Llewellyn Smith reports

Jo Thompson

Jo Thompson ended up in hospital on anti-anxiety pills, and wanted to die when she stopped them  Photo: Geoff Pugh/Telegraph

Twenty years ago, Henry was living a fulfilled life. A happily married father from the Home Counties, his sales career was going well, he had a wide social circle and played football and golf regularly. “I was a conservative, head-down, career-minded person who enjoyed my life,” he says.

But in 1995, a bout of flu left Henry, then 31, exhausted and lethargic. He visited his GP, who told him he was depressed, and prescribed the world’s most popular antidepressant, Prozac. “Everything appeared completely benign — he said depression was a common complaint, the drugs would fix it and then I’d stop taking them.”

More than a decade later, Henry was far from cured and still taking antidepressants. “None of the drugs I was prescribed made me feel better, and most made me considerably worse. But every time I stopped them, the symptoms of what I thought was depression — but now know were of withdrawal — returned even more strongly, so I went back to the pills.”

By 2009, he was so unwell that he had to give up work. Finally, suspecting the drugs were the cause of his problems, he quit them, only to enter a new hell.

“It was torture. I thought I was going to die, and I didn’t care. For two years, I was in severe physical pain and so weak I lay all day on the sofa. My cognition was severely affected, I was dizzy, with blurred vision, I couldn’t read a bedtime story to my son and couldn’t remember things that had happened just a few seconds previously.”

Henry — who does not want to reveal his last name because of pending legal action against the drugs manufacturers — is just one of an estimated four million people in Britain taking antidepressants, a number that is rising sharply.

Last year, 53 million prescriptions were issued for antidepressants in England alone, nearly double the number prescribed a decade ago, and a six per cent increase in the past year. According to recent research, one in three British women and one in 10 men now take the medication, including popular brands such as Prozac, Cipramil and Seroxat, at some point in their lives.

But a growing number of experts now believe depression is vastly overdiagnosed and the drugs can cause far more harm than good.

This week, a new organisation, the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry (CEP), whose members include psychiatrists, academics and withdrawal charities, is launching, to educate the public about the risks of antidepressants. A keynote speech will be given by Prof Peter Gøtzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international, non-profit organisation that examines vast amounts of medical data to help doctors and patients reach informed conclusions about health.

 

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