State induced illness? Gulf War medication, sheep dip, contaminated blood and fluoridated water

20 Aug

sheep dip peter tyrer

In all these cases the sufferers have one thing in common. The treatments have been supported or imposed by government which would have to pay compensation if they – or the courts – admitted the adverse effects of their policies.

A reader writes; “It’s amazing how powerful the legal action has been against J&J and how this brings the issue into the full glare of publicity and financially penalises the guilty party”. She says not so with fluoridation and asks:

  • Where are the plaintiffs?
  • Where is the publicity?
  • Where are the lawyers eager to go to court?
  • Where are the adverts from solicitors eager to attract talc-damaged clients?
  • Who would be the respondent?

Few will blow the whistle on government and take up these causes, though there are honourable exceptions:

Lord Alf Morris worked long and hard to obtain justice for some of these sufferers see a post on a sister site: https://politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/alf-morris-who-died-on-sunday-an-mp-of-the-right-calibre/

MP (now Lord) Paul Tyler chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Organophosphates (OPs) for thirteen years and campaigned about their adverse effects on farmers (through sheep dip), pilots and cabin crew (through contaminated cabin air) and gulf war veterans (through pesticides used to repel insects). He also led a campaign to uncover the truth behind the Camelford Lowermoor Water Poisoning incident, and the ensuing cover-up, which occurred shortly before the Conservative Party privatised the water industry.

adams common good

                                                   above, President John Adams 

Until a government for the common good stands upright, without loyalty to corporations who pour funds into party coffers, there will be no justice for these victims.

 

 

 

How much death and disability is due to industry-friendly light touch regulation?

17 Aug

Today a reader referred to the court orders against Pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) which has been ordered to pay more than $55m (£40m) in compensation to an American woman who said its talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer. In February, Johnson & Johnson paid $72m (£51m) in a similar case.

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics report brings to mind Jeremy Rifkin’s thoughts on ’primitive modern science’

The increasing use of hazardous chemicals in industry and agriculture with cumulative and long-term health impacts is a serious health threat. Even medically prescribed chemicals need more careful testing: many have done such unforeseen damage that they have been withdrawn or restricted to those who are not old, young, frail or pregnant.

figo recs coverA 2015 report ( recommendations cover, left) by the London based International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, covers the exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding.This brings to mind earlier findings including:

2002

Dana Mirick’s team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle undertook an epidemiological study, following widespread internet rumours that antiperspirant use causes breast cancer. Mirick found no evidence of any link. The research centre, described as independent, is funded by a US government department.

2004

The New Scientist in 2004 brought news of a US study by Dr Kris McGrath of Northwestern University published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention (vol 12, p 479) suggested that deodorants or antiperspirants might be linked with breast cancer, but only together with underarm shaving. Northwestern ‘research’ University was founded by nine lawyers, businessmen and Methodist leaders to serve the people of the region and is governed by a board of trustees.

Mirick said that McGrath’s study has limitations – the most serious being the absence of a control group without breast cancer. Like Darbre [2004-2012], McGrath considers that the steady rise in the incidence of breast cancers could be linked to deodorants, but David Philips of the Institute of Cancer Research in London points out that the rise in underarm deodorant use seems to parallel or even lag slightly behind the cancer rise.

2007

In 2007 the EU’s ‘REACH’ directive came into force – calling for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. This obliged manufacturers or importers to provide proof of the safety of thousands of hitherto chemicals in common use. The American chemical industry objected because the regulations threatened the export of more than $20bn worth of chemicals to Europe each year.

2008

In 2008 a healthy boy of 12 died of heart failure after spraying himself with too much deodorant, his inquest heard yesterday. He had inhaled too much Lynx Vice and the solvents in it caused an abnormal heartbeat. The Coroner, Dr Hunter, warned: “I do not know how many people read the warnings about exposure awareness. But people need to know about the risks that these products have on the cardio-vascular system.

2012

FIGO’s website carried an article reporting that research published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology Thursday, 12th January 2012 revealed that at least one paraben has been found in tissue samples from all participants of a study on the link between chemicals and breast cancer. All were found to have flesh containing at least one chemical which has been connected to underarm cosmetics.

Reader in oncology at the University of Reading, Dr Philippa Darbre, who led the study alongside Mr Lester Barr at the University Hospital of South Manchester, warned: “The fact that parabens were detected in the majority of the breast tissue samples cannot be taken to imply that they actually caused breast cancer in the 40 women studied.” Co-author Mr Lester Barr, said: ‘The intriguing discovery that parabens are present even in women who have never used underarm products raises the question: where have these chemicals come from?’ 

We note here that parabens are still widely used as a preservative in cosmetics, food products and pharmaceuticals.

Jeremy Rifkin, advisor to several governments, believes that modern science is too primitive to address the problems of a world at risk due to the scale and carelessness of human intervention. He calls for a new approach that prioritises the human and environmental health of the whole world

 

 

 

Science, precaution, innovation: learn tragically ‘late lessons from early warnings’

30 Jul

 

Glyphosate herbicides, harmful pharmaceuticals, infected blood transfusions, mercury preservative in infant vaccines, organophosphate insecticides, GM technology and fluoridation of the water supply . . . the damage to human and environmental health has been incalculable.

pprof mcgladeAs Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist and Director of the Division of Early Warning and Assessment of the United Nations Environment Programme, said in her preface to Late lessons from early warnings: science, precaution, innovation:

“There is something profoundly wrong with the way we are living today. There are corrosive pathologies of inequality all around us — be they access to a safe environment, healthcare, education or clean water. These are reinforced by short-term political actions and a socially divisive language based on the adulation of wealth . . .

“One thing that has become clearer over the past decade is that certain chemical substances are highly stable in nature and can have long-lasting and wide ranging effects before being broken down into a harmless form. The risk of a stable compound is that it can be bio-accumulated in fatty tissues at concentrations many times higher than in the surrounding environment . . . So exposure to toxic chemicals and certain foodstuffs are at risk of causing harm, especially to vulnerable groups such as foetuses in the womb or during childhood when the endocrine system is being actively built. Even with small dose exposures, the consequences can in some instances be devastating with problems ranging from cancer, serious impacts on human development, chronic diseases and learning disabilities”.

chemical exposures coverProfessor McGlade points out that well-informed individuals and communities would ‘more properly’ set ‘the power to act’, than current political systems which have become ‘silted up by vested interests and a determination to protect assets’ – and, we would add, to accumulate profits. She calls for “a more ethical form of public decision-making based on a language in which our moral instincts and concerns can be better expressed . . .”

Above, a book by Claudia Miller, M.D., M.S., a tenured Professor in Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Vice Chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), who has written extensively on the health effects of low-level chemical exposures.

One simple measure could be adopted. Every scientific report or review should be prefaced by a declaration of the researcher’s competing financial interests

From the Nature/ British Dental Journal’s declaration of the authors’ competing financial interests Critique of the review of ‘Water fluoridation for the prevention of dental caries’ published by the Cochrane Collaboration in 2015, we learn that – out of 17 – these authors had such an interest – see footnote, with names added to the initials in the list.

The Cochrane review noted- amongst many other findings – that only two studies since 1975 have looked at the effectiveness of reducing cavities in baby teeth, and found fluoridation to have no statistically significant impact – and within the ‘before and after’ studies none showed the benefits of fluoridated water for adults.

In view of the authors’ competing interests it is not surprising that they cast doubt on the validity of the unfavourable findings of the Cochrane Review, which is ’unconstrained by commercial and financial interests’.

Footnote:

  1. A. J. Rugg-Gunn: AJRG was a member of the MRC (UK) working group on water fluoridation and health and is a trustee of The Borrow Foundation (long associated with milk fluoridation).
  2. A.J. Spencer: AJS is a member of the Australian Government Department of Health, Nutritional Reference Values Fluoride Expert Working Group and the National Health and Medical Research Council Fluoride Reference Group.
  3. H.P. Whelton: HPW is Principal Investigator of the FACCT study funded by the Irish Health Research Board and is an evaluation of the impact of changes in the policy on children’s oral health in Ireland. She is an independent advisor to the British Fluoridation Society.
  4. C.Jones: CJ is a member of the British Fluoridation Society, the Cochrane Oral Health Group and commented on the Cochrane review protocol.
  5. J. F. Beal: JFB is vice-chairman, British Fluoridation Society.
  6. P.Castle: PC is a communications adviser to the National Alliance for Equity in Dental Health and the British Fluoridation Society. 
  7. P.V. Cooney: PVC was Chief Dental Officer for Canada.
  8. J. Johnson: JJ is President, American Fluoridation Society. 
  9. M.P. Kelly: MPK is co-investigator on the CATFISH study of a water fluoridation scheme in Cumbria.
  10. M.A. Lennon: MAL was a member of the Advisory Panel for the York Review, a member of the MRC Expert Group and formerly Chair of the British Fluoridation Society.
  11. J. McGinley: JMcG is manager, Fluoridation Activities, American Dental Association.
  12. D. O’Mullane: DO’M is a member of the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health.
  13. P.P. Sharma: PPS is the President, Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry. 
  14. W.M. Thomson: WMT was a member of the panel which produced the Royal Society of New Zealand report on community water fluoridation.
  15. S. M. Woodward: SMW works for The Borrow Foundation.
  16. S.P. Zusman: SPZ is Chief Dental Officer with Israeli Ministry of Health.

 

 

 

People from 22 countries visited the site last month

24 Jul

chem1

 

 

chem3

 

 

 

 

 

Grass-Fed Nation: addressing our diet and carbon emission targets

19 Jun

graham harveyGraham Harvey is the agriculture adviser to ‘The Archers’ radio show, on Europe, subsidies and rural life. After studying agriculture at Bangor university, he became a journalist at Farmers Weekly before moving into script writing, joining The Archers in 1984.

Emma Jacobs writes about him in the Financial Times, after the publication of Grass-Fed Nation:

His book argues that animals that graze on grass are far healthier than those fed on chemically enhanced grains. It is also better for the countryside, as well as for consumers of meat and dairy products. Mr Harvey laments that Britain’s traditional small mixed farms have given way to larger intensive ventures, relying on chemicals and cooped-up animals. “Farmers could be doing better than they are,” he says. “There is too much money going to suppliers of chemicals and technology.”

His challenge to overreliance on processed foodstuffs and chemicals followed on a realisation that his own health was suffering from high cholesterol, raised glucose and blood pressure due to the amount of sugar and white flour he was eating.

grassfed nation coverIn the book he writes:

“If we reared grazing animals solely on their natural food, grass, we’d be growing far fewer cereal crops with their heavy requirement for fossil fertilisers and pesticides.

“We would, in fact, far exceed our carbon emission targets.”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grass-Fed-Nation-Getting-Back-Deserve/dp/178578076X

The whole article may be read on http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/961dea22-3162-11e6-bda0-04585c31b153.html#ixzz4BxcQZMjS but only on subscription it seems.

Crunch time: will fears of legal action by Monsanto sway the final vote on licensing glyphosate – a ‘probable’ carcinogen?

7 Jun

The FT reports that leading EU member states on Monday refused to extend a licence for glyphosate, the world’s most common herbicide. If there is no decision by the end of the month, glyphosate will lose its licence, raising the prospect of legal action by the industry.

EU-PARLIAMENT

The commission had intended to try to relicense glyphosate for 15 years, but the latest proposal was for a licence of only 12 to 18 months, while more research is conducted. This option has been rejected as Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Austria and Portugal and Luxembourg all abstained, meaning the necessary qualified majority could not be reached. Malta voted against.

Bart Staes, a Belgian MEP from the Green Party, warned the commission not to approve glyphosate unilaterally through a so-called “appeals committee”: “Such a move would raise major democratic concerns about the EU’s decision-making process”. More handsomely, the Guardian adds more from Staes:

“We applaud those EU governments who are sticking to their guns and refusing to authorise this controversial toxic herbicide. There are clear concerns about the health risks with glyphosate, both as regards it being a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor. Moreover, glyphosate’s devastating impact on biodiversity should have already led to its ban”.

Glyphosate is the basis for Monsanto’s topselling weedkiller RoundUp, described in its annual report as “a sustainable source” of cash and profit. Last year more than 80% of Monsanto’s sales were in the Americas and under 13% in Europe.

Last month a report from the WHO and the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation concluded that the chemical was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk” through diet, but the WHO’s cancer agency last year had concluded that the product was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Prime movers in opposing the use of glyphosate are Sweden, the Netherlands and France – and over 1.5 million EU citizens who petitioned the parliament to ban it.

The German Social democrat environment minister Barbara Hendricks welcomed the decision in Brussels, saying: “Many member states would like the question of cancer risks to be clarified before glyphosate can again be spread on our fields.” But Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, which wants the chemical to remain in use, is frustrated. Peter Liese, a CDU member of the European Parliament, said Berlin must battle for the continued use of glyphosate, albeit under “strict conditions”.

The glyphosate task force, a consortium of companies including Monsanto, complained: “It is clear that certain member states are no longer basing their positions on scientific evidence, which is meant to be the guiding principle of the process”.

US officials said that they are “extremely concerned” about the EU’s action and accuse Brussels of failing to rely on “sound science”. EU officials respond that their “precautionary principle” of regulation in cases of doubt offers greater public protection.

 

 

 

Why aren’t people in London and the South receiving compulsory medication?

6 Jun

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, funded jointly by the  Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, advises policy makers and stimulates debate in bioethics.

nuffield fluoridation logoIts 21 page chapter on the fluoridation of water has drawn on expert assessments, in particular the fifteen year old York review, the most recent major review in this area. It points out that water fluoridation is an example of an intervention that directly affects whole populations, noting that the case of fluoridation raises issues about ‘the nature and strength of evidence required in arguments about the acceptability of an intervention, and about ways in which evidence is, and should be, communicated’.

BFS, BDA & NAEDH: overstated potential benefits, understated potential harms

Soon after the York Review’s publication in 2000, its authors drew attention to their view that the report had been “widely misinterpreted” and sought to correct the record, expressing concern over statements by groups including the British Fluoridation Society, British Dental Association and the National Alliance for Equity in Dental Health which “mislead the public about the review’s findings”. The reported problems included overstating the potential benefits of fluoridation, understating the potential harms, and the inaccurate claim that the review concluded water fluoridation to be “safe”.

A rose by any other name? BFS: fluoride is not a waste product – it is a industrial byproduct or a co-product

nuffield fluoridation coverThe Nuffield report points out that in its ‘Technical Aspects of Fluoridation’, the British Fluoridation Society, confirms that the source of fluoride used in the UK: hexafluorosilicic acid or its sodium salt, disodium hexafluorosilicate, are chemicals are produced from co-products of the manufacture of phosphate fertilisers:

“The chemicals are important co-products of the manufacture of phosphate fertilisers.  Part of the manufacturing process involves `capturing’ gases using product recovery units.  These units are technically similar to pollution scrubbers.  However the important difference is that, in the process of the manufacture of fluoride chemicals, the end result is a valuable and useful resource, not a waste product.”

Reducing inequalities: quality of evidence, low

The York Review of 2000 found that “The research evidence is of insufficient quality to allow confident statements about … whether there is an impact on social inequalities”. It concluded that “[although] the available evidence… appears to suggest a benefit in reducing the differences in the severity of tooth decay, … the quality of evidence is low and based on a small number of studies”. For now, we note that based on the best available evidence it is not straightforward to conclude that water fluoridation reduces dental health inequalities as measured by outcomes. Of the 30 studies assessed, twelve had not detected a statistically significant difference between the populations receiving fluoridated and non-fluoridated water . . .

‘Inconclusive’ association with bone problems, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, malformations and mental retardation

Alarms voiced in reports in the Mail (Dec. 2015) and the Telegraph (Feb 2015, thyroid problems) were not echoed by the York review study group which concluded that on the basis of the best available evidence no clear association could be established between either bone problems or cancers and fluoridation and studies on other health risks, including Alzheimer’s disease, malformations and mental retardation, were inconclusive.

bedford council fluoridation hearing

The Nuffield Report concludes that the most appropriate way of deciding whether fluoride should be added to water supplies is to rely on democratic decision-making procedures (above Bedford’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee which unanimously recommended (April 2016) that fluoride should NOT be added to Bedford’s water, following a protracted two-year debate).

Conclusion: there should be comprehensive, well-funded and designed research into the impact of fluoridation of the public water supply on human health

Authors of the York Review, McDonagh M, Whiting P, Bradley M et al. (2000) in A Systematic Review of Public Water Fluoridation (York: NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination) declare that:

fluoride UK map“Given the level of interest surrounding the issue of public water fluoridation, it is surprising to find that little high quality research has been undertaken”. This is particularly surprising as fluoridation has been implemented as an intervention in some areas of the country, and has been considered as a policy option in others, over several decades”.

The Nuffield Council Report adds (7.42):

“We noted that the evidence base for fluoridation is not strong, and that as such ongoing monitoring and further research, particularly on risks, are recommended. Policy makers and the public need to have access to clear and accurate information, and uncertainties and the strength or weakness of the evidence should be explicitly recognised. Therefore, the UK health departments should monitor the effects of water fluoridation, including the incidence and severity of fluorosis and other possible harms.

“Water fluoridation policy should be objectively reviewed by the UK health departments on a regular basis in light of the findings of ongoing monitoring and further research studies. Furthermore, the conclusions and their basis should routinely be published”.

 

 

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