Sunday, 31 July 2011

Two-Faced, Half-Baked GM Scam

The B’org Food Chain (big organisation of food and the chain of inequities) never ceases to amaze me and what I learned because of a demonstration on Saturday, 23 July 2011 was no exception.  I attended a rally organised to protest the trials of GM potatoes being grown in Norfolk to test blight-resistant varieties which I originally found out about just over a year ago when I started this blog.  While at the rally, I was in a photo shoot where we held up letter cards to spell out “GM SPUDS, A HALF-BAKED SCAM.”  I was the ‘S’ in SCAM.  You can view this photo and others from the event by clicking here.  Yes, it’s a half-baked scam in that it is not thought through.  But it is also a two-faced scam because on the face of it, GM is claimed to be for our benefit and to feed the world, but in reality, it is for the benefit of big organisations and our governments.  Not only do they not pass any benefits on to us, they use our tax monies to boot (and then cry age of austerity!).

Although impressive, the event itself was not really amazing.  We gathered at the Forum, a modern building in the centre of the city of Norwich.  Organic chips were handed out and enjoyed by campaigners and passerbys alike.  We heard speeches, took photos, handed out organic potatoes in small trays, and bussed to the John Innes Centre, chatted with several Sainsbury lab employees of varying ranks, delivered 40 crate trays of chitted organic blight-resistant potatoes (shown in photo above), then put them back on the trailer and went home.

News can be reviewed by clicking on the following links:




The Guardian did an article a few days before this demonstration called “Scientist leading GM crop test defends links to US biotech giant Monsanto, Research Professor Jonathan Jones says his verdict on a potato trial in Norfolk will not be influenced by his past commercial ties to Monsanto”.  Except they’re not past commercial ties to Monsanto, they’re present ones.  This oversight on the part of the Guardian may be due to its receiving Gates Foundation funding now which is also funding Monsanto.  I would imagine that it would be hard to report anything untoward about GM or Monsanto when a funder supports these two.  This is a pity as the Guardian used to be reliable for some grassroots reporting about such issues.

What I do find amazing is what I learned after the event, mostly about the lead researcher, Prof Jonathan Jones, who also gave a speech at the demonstration and spoke to us.  I had never seen him before and knew nothing about him except his name, but still recognised him when I saw him probably because of his outgoing self-assured air.  I told him what I thought of GM generally, especially that it’s a tool for big organisations to make more money and nothing else.  I also mentioned that we are all pawns, including him, being used to that end.  He claims that GM is a tool to improve the food supply and feed the world.  Another wake up call might be helpful because if it's not giant pigweed resistant to glyphosate, GMOs are prone to creating similar disasters.  I already knew that billionaire Lord Sainsbury is a supporter of GM and funds the John Innes Centre, and of course, the Sainsbury Laboratory, and has had contacts with Monsanto, but to learn of the close ties of Prof Jones to Monsanto was still surprising.

Prof Jones co-founded Mendel Biotechnology with its most important customer and collaborator for its business being Monsanto.  In fact, Monsanto (with its notorious background) is a strategic partner, along with BP (the big oily risk taker) and Bayer CropScience (affiliated with the pharmaceutical industry which is pushing drugs on everyone) and sits on the Board of Directors.  Prof Jones sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the corporation which is “dedicated to being a premier biotechnology company serving large agricultural companies with new genetic and chemical solutions and to becoming the leading seed company serving the bioenergy industry” (my emphasis).  They forgot to mention the other partners, that is, the US and UK governments.

Power Base has lots more information about Prof Jones for interested parties including that he is on the Board of Directors of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications which is a GM industry lobby group.  In my opinion, I don’t think he should be engaged in such one-sided enterprises as a professor of research because this hampers the open frame of mind needed for a successful explorer.  After all, research is exploring the unknown and with a closed mind, some avenues will not be tested.  The result of closed-minded research will always be half-baked.  One other point about the GM potato trial is that it is testing how the plants will grow, but no tests are being done on nutritional content or long-term health effects because this is not required by law.

The double sided swindle by trickery in this all is that the government is paying for the research on GM potatoes (never mind the rest) at the John Innes Centre to the claimed tune of £1.7 million with our tax monies, and saying it’s for our benefit when clearly it’s not.  Mendel Biotechnology and all GM efforts are dedicated to serving the LARGE COMPANIES (what I call the big organisation or the B’org for short), NOT YOU AND ME.  We may be recipients of their labours (e.g., we may end up having to eat their GM potatoes), but the products are not for our benefit and they’ll probably make us ill just like most of the other processed food and medications around today.

Although Mendel Biotechnology is an American company with its headquarters in Hayward, California, it has aspirations for significant growth.  In addition, their “worldwide sites include extensive controlled growth facilities as well as glasshouses and field locations that permit production and experimental analysis of large numbers of plants.”  I’m wondering if this includes the John Innes Centre in some way.

In summary, the two-faced scam is that not only are there organic blight resistant potatoes available now, as we demonstrated at the rally on 23rd July, but the government is supporting the research for GM blight resistant potatoes for the benefit of transnational corporations with our money!  Isn’t our government supposed to be representing our interests?  Well, once again, they’re not.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (Liberal Democrat) recently asked Her Majesty's Government which department is responsible for supporting the creation of local food partnerships linking local government, health authorities and community groups with food producers in their locality.

Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Conservative) replied that Defra is responsible for policy on local food.  But doesn’t ‘support’ in this context include funding?  Lord Henley further stated that “it is for local communities and local economic partnerships to decide where and how they develop”.  Local economic partnerships means local government working with businesses to “quicken the economic recovery”.  So while our central government gives big businesses big money to tinker with our food supply, local government is in essence privatising services such as rubbish collection and allotment schemes.  I found a Food Partnership online for Brighton & Hove, but could not readily find much about the funding of it.

It seems to me that local food partnerships are about as welcome by our government as an alien to a Borg cube.  Come to think it, as welcome as I was and the other campaigners were to the John Innes Centre as we gathered outside the barricaded entrance to the driveway with nearly as many police (some even in a helicopter!) and security officers present as there were demonstrators.  Yet local food partnerships could be the answer to all our woes.  For instance, the prisons are “bursting at the seams,” to use Lord Henley’s words.  And, it is well known that the cost of running the NHS has skyrocketed, especially since they're having to buy lots of new equipment for the burgeoning obese population. Obesity alone is reputed to be costing 4bn a year!!  Rather than privatising more public services and spending money on scientific toys such as GM potatoes, I believe that the government should show they realise the importance of natural wholesome food in keeping people sane and healthy by reflecting this in their spending and working to make real farming the nation's primary health service as well.

However, history is continuing to repeat itself like indigestible GM potatoes.  It would be nice for a change to see our leaders showing some real innovation and finding a way to stop, not only GM, but also placing commercial interests over the health and well-being of life on earth.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Sugar Sugar

This article is not about the kind of sugar in the Archie’s song. No, it’s about the real thing, processed sugar in all its forms. It’s about the white death, the white drug, the white poison, the white devil. These nick names have been around for centuries. It’s possibly the biggest scourge civilization has or has had to face. But are you paying attention? Or has the B’org of Food totally got you bamboozled on this one. They've obviously pulled the wool over the eyes of many. Either that or they have lots of prisoners of the Food Wars who have no choice, or casualties relying on the medical system that is inextricably tied in with the B'org of Food and which does not adhere to the Hippocratic oath but only pledges allegiance to the almighty dollar (or whatever form of money they exalt on any given day).

It has even been said that “the purpose of sugar is to destroy humanity, together with its dignity and creative power. It is one of the most sinister products ever made to be legally sold as food.” As it turns out, sugar is one of the main weapons in the B’org of Food artillery.

Nowadays sugar actually comes in many shades and shapes. There’s high fructose corn syrup, lactose, glucose, fructose, raw fair trade cane sugar, maple syrup, etc, etc. The small amount of vitamins and minerals these sugars had in their raw state are stripped with processing. The B’org of Food often uses these various forms of sugar to hide the true extent of the sugar content in many processed foods.

It is undeniable from a scientific standpoint that sugar is not good for health. After all, it has no nutritional value except calories. A good example of this is the fact that in order for the body to metabolise it, magnesium is required, and eating lots of sugar will result in magnesium deficiency. As explained by Dr Campbell-McBride in Put Your Heart In Your Mouth, this leads to many health problems including neurological and psychiatric symptoms. Further evidence can be found in an interesting article written for the Ultimate Body Success blog showing that sugar interferes with the brain and nervous system as well as the calcium in bones and teeth. We all know that sugar rots teeth! In addition, there is no doubt that sugar intake is connected to weight gain which in turn is a high risk factor in developing diabetes. But despite these facts, the B'org of Food continue to use sugar to sell us their wares and are finding new ways every day.

As reported in September 2010, a new low-cost sweetener has been developed which it is claimed will help diabetics. A nano sugar will soon be in a pharmacy near you or even supermarket. This is a sugar that has been altered using nano-technology. As if single strength sugar wasn’t bad enough, somebody got the bright idea of intensifying the sweetness without the corresponding calories and thinking that will solve the problem. How can intensifying a poison make it better? For proof of this, look at high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) where fructose is seventy-three percent sweeter than sucrose and the evidence shows it contributes further to the obesity and diabetes epidemics, it does not detract from them. There are lots of free online videos made by doctors on the HFCS connection to health problems.

My cousin in the mortuary business recently wrote to me with reference to a WSJ article on diabetes complaining about the number and relative youth (many in their 40s) of the morbidly obese decedents they get in their funeral homes. He says that the “body cart” which is usually used to carry casketed remains is, “Now ... being requested because the decedents are so heavy that even 8 pallbearers would end up with hernias trying to move the person who can no longer move themselves.” He also commented on a McDonald’s outlet in the area doing great business. But it’s not just this fast food transnational corporation that has a stake in the continuation of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.

To put the problem in scale, the following chart of the obese in the US in 2009 is helpful when considering that obesity is a major risk factor in having or developing type-2 diabetes. With this trend continuing, how can the increased longevity claims survive? As you will see, up to a third of the population in many US States is obese and this does not include those who are simply overweight, which in itself is often unhealthy.
2009 State Obesity Rates
State
%
State
%
State
%
State
%
Alabama
31.0
Illinois
26.5
Montana
23.2
Rhode Island
24.6
Alaska
24.8
Indiana
29.5
Nebraska
27.2
South Carolina
29.4
Arizona
25.5
Iowa
27.9
Nevada
25.8
South Dakota
29.6
Arkansas
30.5
Kansas
28.1
New Hampshire
25.7
Tennessee
32.3
California
24.8
Kentucky
31.5
New Jersey
23.3
Texas
28.7
Colorado
18.6
Louisiana
33.0
New Mexico
25.1
Utah
23.5
Connecticut
20.6
Maine
25.8
New York
24.2
Vermont
22.8
Delaware
27.0
Maryland
26.2
North Carolina
29.3
Virginia
25.0
Washington DC
19.7
Massachusetts
21.4
North Dakota
27.9
Washington
26.4
Florida
25.2
Michigan
29.6
Ohio
28.8
West Virginia
31.1
Georgia
27.2
Minnesota
24.6
Oklahoma
31.4
Wisconsin
28.7
Hawaii
22.3
Mississippi
34.4
Oregon
23.0
Wyoming
24.6
Idaho
24.5
Missouri
30.0
Pennsylvania
27.4

While researching for my article called Diabetes is Reversible, I came across more specific B’org of Food iniquities in relation to sugar. My first port of call was my local GP Surgery, (for non-UK readers, that’s the doctor’s office where everyone has to go when ill if not going to the hospital with an emergency). I collected a lot of leaflets to look at and two were on diabetes, one of which was particularly interesting. I was shocked to read that MDS Diabetes advises the use of sugar to “treat” hypoglycaemia (what they refer to as a“hypo”) which is when the blood sugar level is low. I was especially shocked because it is a well known fact that sugar causes the blood sugar level to rise and then plummet again creating a vicious cycle.  This made me ask, who is MDS Diabetes?
I found out with a quick search online that MDS Diabetes is a spin-off of a company called MDS or Merck Sharp & Dohme. It is a transnational corporation with its headquarters in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. MSD is formerly in partnership with AstraZeneca, a well known global pharmaceutical manufacturer with headquarters in London, and Sanofi Pasteur to collaborate in the development, marketing and distribution of combination vaccines for Europe. Sanofi Pasteur has its headquarters in Lyon, France. MDS also seems to be informally in partnership with other large corporations because of its advice to use particular sugary products out of many for treating hypos as follows:

Lucozade with its 24% glucose content is produced in Gloucestershire by GlaxoSmithKline, another global pharmaceutical company.
Fizzy drinks we all know are produced by global corporations and contain high fructose corn syrup (27g of sugars in a serving) which as mentioned above is highly controversial in the obesity debate.

Jelly babies are manufactured predominantly by Trebor Bassett part of the Cadbury group which was acquired by the American transnational corporation Kraft foods in 2010. As can be seen from the chart below, not only do they have a high sugar content, but a high salt content as well. These are the ingredients: Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Water, Gelatine, Citric Acid, Colours (E150d, E120, E132, E104), and Flavourings. Where the sodium comes from is anyone’s guess.

Nutritional information:

Servings per package
4
Serving size
45g
Per serving
Per 100g
Energy
617kJ
1370kJ
Protein
1.4g
3.2g
Fat
0.1g
0.3g
Includes saturated fat
0.1g
0.2g
Carbohydrate
34.4g
76.4g
Includes Sugars
24.5g
54.5g
Sodium
32mg
70mg

Glucotabs containing 93% Dextrose, Maltodextrin, Magnesium Salts of Fatty Acids, Natural and Nature Identical Flavouring (they must play "spot the difference in their spare time!), Citric Acid, and Vegetable Fat. I wonder why they don’t call it Dextabs! Anyway if you’re confused about what the difference is between, dextrose, fructose, and glucose, see here. Glucotabs are manufactured by Owen Mumford Limited, a global corporation with its headquarters in Oxford, UK which also makes diabetes devices.

Dextrose tablets are also recommended which are similar to glucotabs except more of them are needed to obtain the same result.
Finally, 200ml of orange juice will supposedly also cure a hypo. This much orange juice would have about 21g of sugar and 27g of carbohydrates. Apple juice would provide about the same amount of sugars. Why do they specifically recommend orange juice and not some other fruit juice?

It is obvious that the B’org of Food has a strong interest in making money from people continuing to suffer from diabetes and obesity and so actively promote sugar which, at best, aggravates these conditions.