News bites
Sound Consumer | November 2010


rBGH-free dairy labels

A federal court has struck down an Ohio state ban on dairy labels such as “rBGH- free.” The court ruled that such labels are legal and that “a compositional difference does exist” in milk from cows treated with genetically engineered, artificial growth hormones (rBGH). The court found that using rBGH elevates levels of an insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), which is linked to several types of cancer, and that rBGH milk turns sour more quickly. (The Center for Food Safety)


Potato-size me

The executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission has pledged to eat an all-potato diet for two months to demonstrate how healthy potatoes are. Chris Voigt says he’ll have to eat 20 potatoes each day — that’s 7.5 pounds — to maintain his weight of 195 pounds. That’s just potatoes; no sour cream, gravy, salsa, cheese or broccoli. (Capital Press)


Americans shun agriculture jobs

In California, where one of every eight people is unemployed, U.S. workers apparently don’t want agricultural jobs commonly filled by immigrants. Analysis of data for a farm worker program shows U.S. workers don’t even apply for jobs to harvest fruits and vegetables, even when referred by unemployment offices. Only 233 people applied for 1,160 farm worker jobs in California. (Associated Press)


Atkins diet tested

New data on people who follow a low-carb diet has found a 12 percent higher death rate over a 20-year period than people on diets higher in carbohydrates. But death rates varied depending on the sources of protein and fat used to displace carbohydrates. Low-carb dieters who ate beans and nuts had a lower mortality rate than those who relied on red and processed meats.

Researchers analyzed data from 130,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. (The New York Times)


Doctors lack nutrition training

A study published in “Academic Medicine” reveals that a vast majority of medical schools still fail to require the minimum 25 hours of nutrition instruction recommended by the National Academy of Sciences in the 1980s. Only 25 percent of medical schools require taking even one nutrition course. Only 27 percent of medical schools meet the recommended minimum 25 hours. (Academic Medicine)


POM sued for false claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing POM Wonderful, a pomegranate juice company, alleging false and unsubstantiated claims for heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction. The FTC wants POM to stop running ads with such claims and to have Food and Drug Administration approval for future health claims. The action appears to be part of a government effort to clamp down on food ads claiming certain health benefits. (Wall Street Journal)


Monsanto hired Blackwater

Documents obtained by an investigative journalist reveal that the security firm, Blackwater, provided intelligence reports, training and security services for biotech giant Monsanto. A Monsanto spokesperson has confirmed that Monsanto paid a Blackwater subsidiary, Total Intelligence, $232,000 in 2008 and 2009 for intelligence on activities of groups or individuals that could pose a risk.

Citing the movement to destroy GE crops, some critics say Monsanto apparently is hoping to quell dissent by infiltrating activist groups (see A Month without Monsanto, Sound Consumer, November 2010). (The Nation/Digital Journal)


Roundup causes birth defects

A major new study has found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, is linked to human birth defects. Researchers at the University of Buenos Aires began a study with animal embryos after learning about high rates of human birth defects in rural Argentina, where genetically engineered soybeans are grown and regularly sprayed with Roundup from airplanes. They found birth defects and malformations from doses in the lab far lower than those for agricultural spraying. (Genetic Engineering News List)


Eat more fruits and vegetables

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption, finding that only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day. The amount of vegetables Americans eat is less than half of what health officials advise although women and people who are older, more educated, and have higher incomes tend to eat more vegetables. The government recommends four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables for a 2,000 calorie daily diet. (The New York Times)


Fish farm fined

An Idaho fish farm raising trout and sturgeon is facing a $177,500 fine for discharging pollutants without a permit. The Environmental Protection Agency levied the maximum fine, saying ARK Fisheries exceeded limits for discharging phosphorus and failed to provide monitoring reports. (Associated Press)


Pesticides cause thyroid disease?

A study involving women who live on farms found that exposure to common farm chemicals may increase the risk of thyroid disease. Researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center studied 16,000 women married to farmers licensed to apply pesticides. They found that 12.5 percent of them developed thyroid disease, compared to 1 to 8 percent in the general population. (American Journal of Epidemiology/Radio Iowa Contributor)

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