Spotlight on Bayer-Monsanto neonicotinoid field trials

23 Sep

Farming Today (23.9.16) seems to be unaware of the content of the neonicotinoids research studies obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Bayer intends to make these public at the International Congress of Entomology next week.

This is not good news for Bayer, debt-laden since its takeover of Monsanto and reported to have seen its shares ‘drifting downwards’.

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Reports in the Guardian and EurActiv inform readers that the research studies, conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides, showed that Syngenta’s thiamethoxam and Bayer’s clothianidin seriously harmed colonies at high doses, but found no significant effects below concentrations of 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively.

Bees and other insects vital for pollinating three-quarters of the world’s food crops, have been in significant decline, due – it is thought -to the loss of flower-rich habitats, disease and the use of pesticides.

Consider the cumulative effect of neonic residues ingested from planting dust, water and treated seeds

However researchers note that pollinators in real environments are continually exposed to cocktails of many pesticides, rather than single chemicals for relatively short periods. As Matt Shardlow, chief executive of conservation charity Buglife, said:

“These studies may not show an impact on honeybee health [at low levels], but then the studies are not realistic. The bees were not exposed to the neonics that we know are in planting dust, water drunk by bees and wildflowers, wherever neonics are used as seed treatments. This secret evidence highlights the profound weakness of regulatory tests.”

prof-goulsonProfessor Dave Goulson explained, on Farming Today, that there were 20,000 species of bees and that neonics are neurotoxins that harm bumble bees, wild solitary bees and all insects. He added that there are a huge number of studies indicating the damage done and only a few that find them safe.

He reminds us on his blog that a recent Swedish study, published in the most prestigious scientific journal in the world (Nature), showed huge impacts of neonics on bumblebees and solitary bees when the chemicals were used by farmers ‘as directed on the label’ and adds a warning:

“Remember that, 50 years ago, the agrochemical industry assured us the DDT was safe, until it turned out that it wasn’t. Later, they told us that organophosphates were fine, except they weren’t. Do you believe them this time? I don’t”.

 

 

 

Rising antibiotic resistance in E.coli on UK supermarket meat

9 Sep

tracy-and-pigLast December this site reported that Tracy Worcester is drawing attention to the subject of antibiotic resistance, which is growing – developing not in humans, but in bacteria that can then infect humans. Surgical and cancer chemotherapy patients rely on antibiotics to protect them from potentially life-threatening illnesses and declining efficacy could turn routine procedures into life-threatening ones.

The Organic Research Centre now reports that a new study carried out by scientists at Cambridge University, looked at 189 UK-origin pig and poultry meat samples from the seven largest supermarkets in the UK (ASDA, Aldi, Coop, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose). It tested for the presence of E. coli which are resistant to the key antibiotics for treating E. coli urinary-tract and blood-poisoning infections in people. The highly resistant ESBL E. coli was found on meat from all of the supermarkets.

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The research found rising levels of resistance in chicken meat, with 24% of samples testing positive for ESBL E. coli, a type of E. coli resistant to the ‘critically important’ modern cephalosporin antibiotics. This is four times higher than was found during a similar study in 2015, in which just 6% of chicken tested positive for ESBL E. coli. Modern cephalosporins are widely used for treating life-threatening E.coli blood poisoning in humans.

51% of the E. coli from pork and poultry samples were resistant to the antibiotic trimethoprim, which is used to treat over half of lower urinary-tract infections. In addition, 19% of the E. coli were resistant to gentamicin, a very important human antibiotic used to treat more serious upper urinary-tract infections.

The findings provide further evidence that the overuse of antibiotics used to mass medicate livestock on British farms is likely to be undermining the treatment of E. coli urinary-tract and blood-poisoning infections in humans. Some of the antibiotics tested are used in far greater quantities in livestock farming than in human medicine.

Dr Mark Holmes, from Cambridge University, who led the study said: “I’m concerned that insufficient resources are being put into the surveillance of antibiotic resistance in farm animals and retail meat. We don’t know if these levels are rising or falling in the absence of an effective monitoring system. These results highlight the need for improvements in antibiotic stewardship in veterinary medicine. While some progress has been made we must not be complacent as it may take many years before we see significant reductions in the numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in farms.”

E-coli is by far the most common cause of urinary-tract infections and of dangerous blood poisoning, and can also cause meningitis. These infections must be treated with antibiotics. Dr Ron Daniels BEM, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust said: “This study highlights a worrying trend towards rising resistance in E.coli on UK retail meat. E.coli in people is the greatest cause of deaths from sepsis, and poor antimicrobial stewardship in intensive farming is undoubtedly contributing to this trend. It’s of paramount importance that we act decisively to reduce this immediate threat to human life.”

Two recommendations:

 Other proposals:

Tracy points out that we have the choice to buy meat with the high welfare labels RSPCA Assured, Outdoor Bred, Free Range or Organic – eat less meat as Anna advocates – or go meat-free. See the World Health Organisation on the health issues here.

Buy organic/local?

Organic farming is perceived as providing a better quality of life for farmed animals and an earlier article reports that a new financial report on organic farming in England and Wales for 2014/15, undertaken by the Organic Research Centre for the Welsh Government, shows organic farm profits increasing, with organic dairy farming outperforming conventional dairy farming in England and Wales. In particular, the organic dairy industry is now generating higher profits than conventional farms despite producing lower yields.

Animal welfare has been a key motivator to consumers who are increasingly choosing organic products with quality assurance standards, because they want to know the origins of their food, and are willing to pay more for products which are ‘friendly’ to wildlife and the environment.

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Professor Nic Lampkin from the Organic Research Centre in Newbury, was one of the co-authors of the report and the Cambridge study was commissioned by the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics, of which the Organic Research Centre is a member.

 

 

 

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

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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.