Edible cactus imported from Mexico contaminated with neurotoxic pesticide, warns public health department

Posted: February 18, 2014

(http://www.cdph.ca.gov)The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers that an edible cactus imported from Mexico is contaminated with a dangerous pesticide and should not be eaten.

The pesticide, monocrotophos, is organophosphate-based and has been barred from use in the United States since 1989. It has been found on cactus samples at levels as high as 5.8 parts per million.

The cactus products were sold in cases that were likely labeled with a sticker stating, "Comercializadora De Chiles, Selectos Nieto S. De R.L. De C.V." Individual cactus products did not have branding or labeling.

CDPH says that consumers should not try to wash the pesticide off of cactus products and instead should return them to the seller or dispose of them.

According the department's website, "No illnesses have been reported to date, but symptoms of acute poisoning may include sweating, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting, hypersalivation, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Consumption of Monocrotophos can lead to neurotoxicity and permanent nerve damage."

The department says they are working with the FDA to identify responsible parties so that future shipments can be more closely examined.

"CDPH recommends consumers experiencing any ill effects after consuming cactus products consult their health care provider. Consumers that observe the product being offered for sale are encouraged to report the activity to the CDPH toll free complaint line at (800) 495-3232."

Higher stroke risk associated with lower vitamin C levels in new study

Posted: February 17, 2014

(http://www.medicalnewstoday.com)In a new study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual Meeting, researchers discovered that consuming foods containing vitamin C could lower one's risk of having a hemorrhagic stroke.

The two main types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic. The first is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel preventing blood from reaching the brain. The second is more rare and deadly and occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain.

"Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in our study," said study author Dr. Stephane Vannier of Pontchaillou University Hospital in France.

For the experiment, researchers measured the vitamin C levels in the blood of a group of 65 individuals who had experienced a hemorrhagic stroke and compared them to the vitamin C levels of a group of 65 healthy individuals. What they found was that, on average, those who had experienced a stroke had depleted vitamin C levels, while those who did not have a stroke had normal vitamin C levels.

Based on this study, consuming foods that contain vitamin C is a good way to stay health and reduce your risk of stroke. Some foods rich in vitamin C include chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, thyme, parsley, strawberries, oranges, broccoli and even dark leafy greens like kale!

Quitting smoking improves mental health, reduces stress, anxiety and depression and improves quality of life, new study shows

Posted: February 14, 2014

(http://medicalxpress.com)Smoking is sometimes seen by those with mental health issues to have benefits, and some health professionals are reluctant to address smoking in individuals with mental disorders in case cessation causes the problem to get worse. However, as is well known, smoking can cause great physical harm and increases a person's chances of developing cancer or suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular diseases.

In order to find out what effects cigarettes have on mental health, researchers from the United Kingdom analyzed "the results of 26 studies of adults that assessed mental health before smoking cessation and at least six weeks after cessation in the general population and clinical populations (patients with chronic psychiatric and/or physical conditions)," according to a press release on MedicalXpress.com.

Taking differences between the studies into consideration to minimize bias, the researchers measured facets of mental health including anxiety, depression, positivity, psychological quality of life and stress. On average, the participants were 44 years old, smoked about 20 cigarettes daily and were followed up for around six months.

The researchers found that those who quit smoking saw improvements regarding depression, anxiety, stress, psychological quality of life and positivity compared to those who continued smoking. This association held strong in the general population as well as clinical populations with mental health disorders.

Although scientists often warn not to infer causation from correlation, the authors of the study write that "smokers can be reassured that stopping smoking is associated with mental health benefits."

So, stopping smoking reduces a person's chances for developing chronic, deadly disease, reduces stress, anxiety and depression and improves mental health and quality of life. That, in addition to the money unnecessarily being thrown away, provides a lot of reasons to quit smoking, or never start in the first place.

EPA claims 'no harm will result' from any levels of Bt residue on GM soybeans

Posted: February 13, 2014

(http://www.cornucopia.org)According to the Cornucopia Institute, "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final rule on February 12 creating an exemption for residue tolerance levels in soy foods and feed for the biological pesticide Bt used in GMO crops. Similar exemptions have already been approved for corn and cotton food and products."

Bacillus thuringiensis, the bacterium commonly called Bt, naturally produces a toxin that kills certain insects. Because of this trait, scientists have spliced Bt genes from the bacterium into GMO crops to make them more resistant to pests.

"EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from aggregate exposure to residues of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1F protein," the agency wrote.

There have been a multitude of studies showing that GM foods can cause harm. "Authors of a recent study using the Bt toxins concluded that these proteins can cause harm to humans and livestock, and the risk increases with long-term exposure and with higher levels of toxins in our food," reported Cornucopia.

You can view and comment on the EPA's final rule at FederalRegister.gov. Objections to the final rule and requests for a hearing must be filed by April 14.

Chronic stress causes harmful long-term changes in brain; exercise to avoid stress, stay happy and healthy

Posted: February 12, 2014

(http://newscenter.berkeley.edu)Chronic stress generates long-term changes in the brain that may make people more prone to mental problems, such as anxiety and mood disorders, according to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley.

Doctors have already known that people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress-related problems have brain abnormalities like differences in the amount of gray matter versus white matter. But this new work helps scientists as they try to discover how those changes are made.

Daniela Kaufer, UC Berkeley associate professor of integrative biology, and her colleagues found through a series of experiments that chronic stress causes the body to produce fewer neurons and an excess of myelin, white matter, "which disrupts the delicate balance and timing of communication within the brain," according to UC Berkeley's press release.

The researchers focused only on one part of the brain called the hippocampus, which plays a role in various emotional disorders and regulates memory and emotions, but their results could have wide-reaching implications for conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, depression, suicide and PTSD.

Kaufer's findings could explain how stress is related to some changes in brain connectivity, for example, in people with PTSD. "You can imagine that if your amygdala and hippocampus are better connected, that could mean that your fear responses are much quicker, which is something you see in stress survivors," she said. Other connections, such as to the prefrontal cortex, which moderates responses, might not be as strong, so the ability to shut down responses is impaired, leading people to have much larger responses than they normally should.

The decreased number of neurons could also explain how chronic stress affects learning and memory.

Kaufer is continuing her research on the effects of stress on the brain, as well as different therapies to treat that stress, including exercise and antidepressants. Some natural methods to help mitigate chronic stress include finding times to laugh, gardening, enjoying time outside and exercising, which can include biking, walking, hiking, rock climbing or anything else that's fun or takes your mind off of stress. Yoga and meditation are great ways to deal with stress too.

The study is titled "Stress and glucocorticoids promote oligodendrogenesis in the adult hippocampus" and was published in Molecular Psychiatry.

FDA recalls Uncle Ben's Infused Rice products after string of illnesses

Posted: February 11, 2014

(http://www.huffingtonpost.com)Due to a string of illnesses that have sprung up in Texas, Illinois and North Dakota, the Food and Drug Administration is recalling all bags and lot numbers of Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Products produced last year.

As reported by The Huffington Post, "The FDA is warning food service companies and consumers not to use the following Uncle Ben's products (which are most commonly sold to food service companies that then distribute to schools, hospitals and other places, but can be purchased online by consumers):"

  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Roasted Chicken flavor (5- and 25-pound bags)
  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Mexican flavor (5- and 25-pound bags)
  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Garlic & Butter Flavor (5-pound bags)
  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Pilaf (5-pound bags)
  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Saffron flavor (5-pound bags)
  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Cheese flavor (5-pound bags)
  • Uncle Ben's Infused Rice Spanish flavor (25-pound bags)

Anyone who has purchased these products should return them to the seller or dispose of them. According to the FDA, symptoms occur "very shortly after consuming the rice produce product and pass within 30 to 90 minutes" and include nausea, skin flushing, red rash that itches/burns and headache. Other Uncle Ben's products are not affected by the recall.

Radiation And Your Health: Dr. Blaylock explains the radioprotective effects of natural substances

Posted: February 10, 2014

(http://www.blaylockhealthchannel.com/)The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown that occurred after Japan was hit by a massive tsunami in March 2011 released huge quantities of radiation into the environment, which is still continuing to accumulate and increasingly pose health risks to wildlife and humans. In light of this, Dr. Russel Blaylock of the Blaylock Wellness Center recently released a podcast to inform listeners about the different ways that they can protect themselves from the effects of radiation, such as multiple types of cancers, through dietary supplementation.

He explains how iodine supplements, which tend to be extremely popular at the start of nuclear crises, protect people's thyroids from accumulating radioactive iodine, but this leaves the rest of the body vulnerable to other radioisotopes. He then delves into NASA's efforts to develop drugs to protect astronauts from gamma radiation exposure in space. One such drug is WR-2721, which he describes as "very effective" though "very toxic" and carrying side effects like blindness.

"Of more interest recently, has been the fact that a number of natural agents are very powerful protectants against radiation damage, particularly the gamma radiation," Dr. Blaylock says. "[T]he important thing is that all of these agents are not only quite safe and have very, very few side effects but the other effects of these flavonoids are very healthy effects, for instance preventing cancer, protecting the brain against degeneration, strokes, heart attacks."

Beta-glucan is found in the cell walls of yeast and acts as a good cellular immune stimulant. It is also a very potent protector against radiation damage in tissues, especially bone marrow. It stimulates stem cell production to replace damaged blood cells.

Curcumin is an anticarcinogenic extract of turmeric. Extensive research has shown that it protects all cells of every type against every form of radiation damage, particularly gamma radiation. Curcumin protects lung cells from radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis. It also helps by causing the body to produce protective antioxidants. Though curcumin is poorly absorbed in powder form, "if you mix it with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, you can increase the absorption by as much as 11 fold," Dr. Blaylock says. He also says that it is extremely safe to take even at high doses where nausea might be felt as a potential side effect.

Lycopene is a carotenoid and a powerful antioxidant. It also stimulates production of antioxidants and protects against radiation.

Ferulic acid has been shown by research to increase the amount of protective antioxidants in the body, and it improves the recovery of bone marrow stem cells.

Quercetin is a common flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables. It is very effective in protecting against radiation damage. In animal studies, it was found to extend the survival rate of mice exposed to fatal levels of radiation.

The major protective effects of these compounds can be combined to provide even greater protection against radiation exposure, as shown by scientific studies. These can also significantly improve the outcomes of cancer patients. Agents such as curcumin and quercetin actually protect normal healthy tissue from radiation while making tumors more sensitive to treatment.

With radiation continuing to drain into the Pacific Ocean, drift to the West Coast and accumulate throughout the environment, it is important that we all stay educated and informed of the best way to protect ourselves from its damaging effects. Choosing a variety of natural, herbal compounds is the safest way to combat radiation and avoid cancer. Be sure to listen to Dr. Blaylock's full informative podcast here.

French lawmakers propose new law to ban all GM maize varieties

Posted: February 10, 2014

(http://www.reuters.com)Last week, a French politician submitted a draft law that would prohibit the cultivation of any genetically modified maize in the country.

France previously banned the cultivation of Monsanto's MON 810 GM, the only GM crop allowed to be grown in the European Union, but that ban was overturned by the country's highest administrative court as lacking sufficient scientific grounds. The new law would ban any future GM crops as well, including Pioneer 1507, a modified maize variety that is currently going through the EU's approval voting process.

A French farm ministry official said the proposed legislation could be voted on by the Senate as early as February 17. If passed, the ban would be monitored by inspectors, and GM crops would be destroyed.

Subway restaurants to stop using yoga mat chemical in bread

Posted: February 6, 2014

Subway restaurants, known for their "eat fresh" slogan, are widely regarded as a healthy choice when it comes to eating out. However, what many consumers don't know is that one ingredient used in their bread, azodicarbonamide, is used in the production of foam plastics, such as sneaker soles and yoga mats. Subway has used this chemical "as a bleaching agent and dough conditioner which allows them to produce bread faster and cheaper."

Azodicarbonamide has been linked by the World Health Organization to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma; studies show that, when heated, it contributes to tumor and cancer development; when a truck carrying azodicarbonamide overturned in Chicago, it caused many people in the area to complain of burning eyes and skin irritation, and the chemical has been banned in Europe and Australia.

But now, after an article and petition by the Food Babe prompted angry customers to take to Subway's Facebook page, the company has responded:

"[Y]ou'll be happy to hear that we are already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide from our bread as a part of our bread improvement process. While the ingredient is approved by the USDA and FDA, it will be removed from all our breads soon."

According to Time, "A Subway representative told the Associated Press that the process began before the petition, but did not say when it will be complete. 'The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon,' Subway said in a statement."

CVS Pharmacy to quit cigarettes, cease selling tobacco products

Posted: February 5, 2014

(http://www.reuters.com)According to Reuters, CVS Caremark Corporation has announced that it will discontinue selling tobacco products in its 7,600 CVS Pharmacy stores by October. This will make it the first national drugstore chain in the United States to stop selling cigarettes, putting it ahead of competitors like Walgreens and Rite Aid.

Public health advocates have praised the move, saying that it sets an example for other retailers to follow. While this is certainly a good health decision, the motivation behind it may have as much to do with business as compassion, as the company says that this is a way to "strengthen its position as a healthcare provider," thus increasing sales of vaccines, pharmaceuticals and who knows what else in the coming future.

"We believe the move will be viewed as a positive long-term decision by CVS, despite the near-term profit drag, as it paves the way for increased credibility with both healthcare consumers and payers," ISI Group analyst Ross Muken wrote in a note.

As reported by Reuters, "CVS executives said the company would replace some of [the] lost cigarette sales through smoking cessation programs at its pharmacies and through Caremark.

"The company said the programs would... also be a key selling point as it tries to land more corporate contracts this year."

Cigarette sales fell 31.3 percent over the past 10 years, and hopefully CVS' decision will help increase that trend, whatever the reason for it may be.

Russian politicians consider ban on GM food production

Posted: February 4, 2014

(http://rt.com)A group of politicians in Russia have introduced a bill to ban the production of genetically modified crops and severely limit GMO imports.

The bill, backed by Evgeny Fyodorov of the parliamentary majority United Russia and a group called Russian Sovereignty, would amend the existing law On Safety and Quality of Alimentary Products with a standard for the allowable amount of transgenic and genetically modified components. Under the bill, no GMOs could be produced for use in human or animal food; however, research could still be conducted on GMOs as long as they are not grown and sold.

A reported by RT.com, "The bill will be submitted to the lower house in two weeks' time and its authors claim that its chances of passing are very high."

The Natural Effect - The truth revealed about food industry misinformation

Posted: February 3, 2014

What does Natural really mean? Merriam-Webster claims that it means "not having any extra substances or chemicals added" or "containing anything artificial," or explicitly "existing in nature and not made or caused by people." It may surprise you though that not everyone agrees with this definition. In fact, to food manufacturers, Natural doesn't mean anything at all, and the FDA seems to agree.

As Only Organic's new video "The Natural Effect" lightheartedly explains, the food industry routinely and deceptively labels highly processed, toxic and genetically modified junk foods as "Natural." This "legal" form of false advertising has fooled millions of people and will likely fool millions more if efforts are not made to inform consumers about this fraudulent practice. The only way to be sure that the food you consume does not contain genetically modified organisms, toxic pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones is to look for the USDA Organic Seal. Please take a few minutes to watch the video and share it with family and friends to help combat industry misinformation and spread health.

Neonicotinoid-exposed bees gather less than half as much pollen, leaving hives to die of starvation

Posted: February 3, 2014

(http://rt.com)A group of researchers from the UK have recently discovered that bees exposed to certain pesticides gather less than half the pollen they normally do, leading the hive to die of starvation.

The study, "Field realistic doses of pesticide imidacloprid reduce bumblebee pollen foraging efficiency," was led by University of Sussex professor Dave Goulson and published in January in Ecotoxicology.

In this study, scientists tracked bees while they were foraging and measured the amount of pollen they gathered once they returned to the hive. Some of the tracked bees had been exposed to the widely used neonicotinoid imidacloprid.

The researchers found that, while healthy bees brought back pollen 63 percent of the time, neonicotinoid-exposed bees brought back pollen only 40 percent of the time. Furthermore, the hives of intoxicated bees received 57 percent less pollen.

While this study provides another important clue into how pesticides have been contributing the collapse of bee populations in recent years, scientists, especially those who work for imidacloprid manufacturers such as Bayer AG, argue that more extensive field studies should be done to reach more conclusive data. However, field studies would be very difficult to perform, considering the pervasiveness of neonicotinoid pesticides in the environment.

Pesticide formulations are 1000 times more toxic than active ingredients, according to new Seralini study

Posted: January 31, 2014

(http://www.foodnavigator.com)Professor G.E. Seralini recently released a new study in which he and other researchers examine the actual toxicity of pesticide formulas, rather than just the toxicity of what their manufacturers claim is the active ingredient. The results call into question how acceptable daily intakes are measured, claiming that the adjuvants in pesticides can drastically amplify the toxicity of active ingredients.

"Adjuvants in pesticides are generally declared as inerts, and for this reason they are not tested in long-term regulatory experiments. It is thus very surprising that they amplify up to 1000 times the toxicity of their active principle in 100% of the cases where they are indicated to be present by the manufacturer," said the study.

The researchers tested the toxicity of the active ingredients and formulations of nine common pesticides on three human cell lines. They found that, out of those tested, "Roundup was by far the most toxic." They also found eight out of nine of the formulations "were several hundred times more toxic than their active principle."

The inconsistency between the actual toxicity of these poisons and what is reported by their manufacturers is obviously motivated by profit. Increasing the toxicity of a pesticide, thus making it more effective, while deceptively leaving out information to meet safety standards is a sure way for any chemical company to boost profits.

FDA refuses to withdraw approval of 'high risk' agricultural antibiotics that violate its own guidelines

Posted: January 30, 2014

(http://www.allgov.com)According to AllGov.com, 18 antibiotic additives that pose a "high risk" to human health have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the past 10 years for use in livestock and poultry.

As a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), based on information obtained from the FDA through the Freedom of Information Act, explains, these additives, which were in a group of 30 antibiotics reviewed for "nontherapeutic use" (which means boosting the health and growth rates of animals in unsanitary factory farms), should not be available today under current FDA guidelines. In fact, the "FDA concluded in their review that at least 26 of the reviewed feed additives do not satisfy even the safety standards set by FDA in 1973," the NRDC announced.

The overuse of antibiotics in agricultural production is contributing to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are more deadly and harder to treat. Homeland Security News Wire notes that, even though the FDA recognized the risks of antibiotics in animal feed as far back as 1977, they have since fought court orders to withdraw approval for the drugs, which the agency proposed itself. In allowing this harmful practice to continue, the FDA is neglecting its duties to the American people and is complicit in creating and exacerbating a potentially disastrous public health issue.

"FDA continues to knowingly allow the use of drugs in animal feed that likely pose a 'high risk' to human health. That's a breach of their responsibility and the public trust," Carmen Cordova, NRDC microbiologist and lead author of the report said, according to News Wire. "This discovery is disturbing but not surprising given FDA's poor track record on dealing with this issue. It's just more overwhelming evidence that FDA - in the face of a mounting antibiotic resistance health crisis - is turning a blind eye to industry's misuse of these miracle drugs."

Researchers link DDT exposure to increased risk of Alzheimer's in elders

Posted: January 29, 2014

(http://www.cbsnews.com)A new report published in JAMA Neurology shows that the pesticide DDT may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease in elderly adults.

The study found that, on average, people with Alzheimer's had four times as much DDE, a metabolite of DDT, in their blood as did people without the neurodegenerative condition.

DDT was used agriculturally in America for decades until being banned in 1972. However, other countries still use the chemical, particularly to control mosquitoes and diseases like malaria, and it may be found on contaminated fruits and vegetable imported into the U.S. Because of this, and the fact that "DDE persists in the environment for a long time," Americans are still regularly exposed to the chemical.

To find the health impacts of DDT, researchers compared a group of 86 elderly adults with Alzheimer's to a group of 79 healthy persons of a similar age. What they found was that the third of persons who had the highest amount of DDE were four times more likely to suffer from Alzheimer's.

The researchers also examined cultured nerve cells exposed to DDT and DDE and found an increase in the levels of a protein that is a precursor to beta-amyloid, which clumps together in the brain to form the plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.

After becoming first Latin American to successfully sue Monsanto, Chilean farmer still left with massive debt

Posted: January 27, 2014

(http://www.gmwatch.org)Jose Pizarro, a Chilean farmer, recently became the first Latin American to win a lawsuit against the multinational Monsanto corporation.

Monsanto recruited Pizarro back in 2008, luring him in with free GMO seed and Roundup, in addition to paying for the farmland's lease. In 2009 they also gave him the seed "but I purchased the poison. I spent two days sowing and although I had machines, the company forced me to sow using theirs, which were brand new, and that was an enormous expense," Pizarro said.

Under Monsanto's contract, all farmers had to grow crops according to instructions given by the company. "In 2009, they wanted to make an experiment with me I guess," Pizarro stated. "We were 12 farmers who were sowing that particular kind of maize in Chile and only two of us were told to sow rows of females (of GMO maize seed) and males (of hybrid seeds) on a proportion of 4:1; the other producers sowed in proportion 4:2.

"SAG was in charge of monitoring, and in my opinion, is an accomplice of the corporation, because on their reports they stated that I had sowed 4:2, which anyone could see that was not the case. According to their reports, it seemed that I had sowed under the same instructions as the other producers. But no, I sowed 'blindly,' I did what the corporation ordered me to do, I didn't even notice what the SAG certificator was writing down because the contract forced me to strictly follow the company's instructions."

Because the corporation ordered Pizarro to grow crops differently from other farmers, and he obeyed because of his contractual obligation, his production and sale price was much lower, causing him to suffer financially. Pizarro lost everything, his house, his land, his farming equipment, his truck and even his wife. He was left with 90 million Chilean pesos of debt owed to Banco Santander, a local bank.

But he refused to accept bankruptcy without a fight. By signing Monsanto's contract, Pizarro inadvertently gave up his right to sue the company in a local court; instead, he had to turn to the Chamber of Commerce, which is often prohibitively expensive. "First I had to pay CLP$700,000 to be able to get served and then CLP$4,400,000 to fund the judge," he explained. "I placed a lawsuit for CLP$218,000,000 and the judge finally ruled in my favor, but I only got CLP$37,000,000, which is far less than what I have lost."

The Chamber of Commerce arbitrated that Monsanto failed to comply with its obligation "which consists in providing services of technical supervision of the sowing in a diligent manner and giving strict compliance to the manufacturer's instructions for Monsanto's seed", incurring negligent breach of contract.

It took four months until Monsanto, which has deservingly been called the most evil corporation in the world, decided to comply with the ruling and awarded Pizarro 37 million Chilean pesos, which is far less than the losses he incurred. Also in this case, the company ordered Pizarro to destroy the non-GMO maize that his elderly neighbor was growing, so that it wouldn't contaminate the GM maize. Furthermore, the company's products have been linked to a number of environmental and health concerns, which it continuously denies to perpetuate its profits.

"I was shocked the first time I saw there were dead mice on the roadside, after they ate the maize's grains", Pizarro reports. "I just don't want other farmers to go through what I did. I will never again sow GMOs."

The original report was written by Lucia Sepulveda Ruiz and then translated by GMWatch.

Consumer Reports finds soda contains too much carcinogenic chemical without warning labels

Posted: January 23, 2014

(http://www.cnn.com)The chemical 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MeI, is often used in sodas, where it appears on ingredients labels as "caramel coloring." But studies have shown that this chemical used in many dark-colored beverages can cause cancer, leading the state of California to limit manufacturers to 29 micrograms of exposure to the compound per day for the average consumer. Companies that fail to comply with this rule will have to label their products, "WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer." In response, soda manufacturers, such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, have reformulated their products sold in California to reduce the amount of the chemical used.

However, as Consumer Reports recently found, still not all sodas comply with the California regulation. Researchers for the magazine tested 29 beverages in California and New York that had exceeded 29 mcg of 4-MeI in prior tests performed earlier in 2013. They found that most of the drinks had their amounts of caramel color significantly reduced, but Pepsi One and Malta Goya still exceeded the limit, and neither of them carried the required warning labels.

Consumer Reports additionally found that Pepsi One purchased in New York had four times as much 4-MeI as Pepsi One purchased in California. The tested beverages in New York did have reduced amounts of the chemical though, indicating a positive step for the soda industry.

When Consumer Reports asked PepsiCo to comment on their findings, the company defended their formula, saying that, because the average person consumes less than one-third of a can of diet soda per day, their product meets California's standard. Based on this fundamentally flawed reasoning, their product can have nearly 90 mcg of 4-MeI per serving. The only way that this justification would make sense is if the majority of Pepsi One drinkers literally open the can, drink a third of it and then save the rest for the next two days, which obviously is not the case.

Consumer Reports said that their policy and action arm, Consumers Union, will alert the California Attorney General's office and will petition the FDA to set a federal standard on 4-MeI and require companies to be more specific about the type of caramel coloring they use. The FDA does not recognize that 4-MeI used in foods at current levels poses a risk to human health; they are however reviewing safety data and testing foods and sodas for the chemical.

Rhode Island legislators introduce GMO labeling bills to be debated

Posted: January 22, 2014

(http://www.sfgate.com)Today, the Rhode Island House of Representatives will hear two bills that would require foods made with genetically modified ingredients to be properly labeled. The bills are sponsored by Represenattives Dennis Canario and Raymond Hull.

The legislation would be directed toward packaged and processed foods, raw fruits and vegetables, and meat and dairy items. If passed, they would require such genetically modified foods to be labeled "produced with genetic engineering."

Maine and Connecticut have already passed similar measurements, but they won't be implemented until other nearby states also pass GMO labeling laws.

Japanese fishermen complete annual dolphin massacre in Taiji cove

Posted: January 21, 2014

(http://www.reuters.com)Japanese fishermen completed their annual dolphin slaughter in the Taiji cove on Tuesday.

"According to The History of Taiji, edited and published by Taiji town in 1979, the first recorded dolphin drive was in 1933, with subsequent hunts occurring in 1936 and 1944. It was not until 1969 that dolphin drives have been conducted on a large scale," Sakae Hemmi of the Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan wrote.

Despite this, Japanese fishermen and their government justify dolphin drive hunts by saying they are a centuries-old cultural tradition. During these "hunts," dolphins are rounded up and driven into the cove, where they are surrounded by nets and trapped. The way the dolphins are slaughtered has been noted for its brutality.

"A metal rod was stabbed into their spinal cord, where they were left to bleed out, suffocate and die. After a traumatic four days held captive in the killing cove, they experienced violent captive selection, being separated from their family, and then eventually were killed today," Sea Shepherd Conservation Society activist Melissa Sehgal told Reuters.

"The hunting of whales and dolphins has been carried out since long ago and is performed on scientific grounds," Kazutaka Sangen, the mayor of Taiji, told reporters. He did not explain how slaughtering thousands of dolphins over a period of decades contributes to science.

In reality, these killings have much more to do with money than "cultural tradition" or "scientific grounds." According to the UK's Independent, dolphin meat can sell for anywhere from $9.00 to $17.00 per pound (around 6-10 British pounds sterling). And National Geographic reports live Taiji dolphins being sold abroad for as much as $150,000 each, and the price range paid by Japan's many aquariums is closer to between $40,000 and $80,000.

The annual hunt has been a source of controversy and criticism against Japan, especially since the release of the 2009 documentary The Cove, which thrust the event into the world's spotlight. Dolphins are extremely intelligent creatures, and in 2013 the government of India recognized their status as "non-human persons" who "should have their own specific rights."