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How Food Packaging Can Make Girls Hyper


The chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA, has become familiar in the past decade, notably to parents searching for BPA-free bottles for their infants. Animal studies have found that BPA, which resembles the sex hormone estrogen, harms health. The growing brain is an especially worrisome target: estrogen is known to be important in fetal brain development in rodents. Now a study suggests that prenatal, but not childhood, exposure to BPA is connected to anxiety, depression and difficulty controlling behaviors in three-year-olds, especially girls.

More than 90 percent of Americans have detectable amounts of BPA in their urine; for most people, the major source of exposure is diet. BPA is a component of the resins that line cans of food and the plastics in some food packaging and drink containers, and the chemical leaches into the edible contents. Other sources of BPA exposure include water-supply pipes and some paper receipts.

Epidemiologist Joe M. Braun of Harvard University and his colleagues studied 240 women and their children in the Cincinnati area. The researchers collected urine samples from the mothers twice during pregnancy and within 24 hours of birth and from the children at ages one, two and three. BPA was detectable in 97 percent of the samples. They also surveyed parents about their kids’ behavior and executive functions—a term for the mental processes involved in self-control and emotional regulation.

The researchers found that the more BPA children were exposed to in the womb, the more anxious, depressed and hyperactive they were at three years old and the more difficulty they had con­trolling their emotions and inhibiting behaviors. The effects were most severe in girls. The team did not find a con­nection between the children’s behavior and their exposure to BPA after they were born, they report in the November 2011 issue of Pediatrics.

Determining the precise mechanisms behind BPA’s effect on behavior will require more work, Braun observes. BPA interferes with estrogen; in the brain, this action could affect the migration and survival of neurons, for example. “It is fair to say there is reasonable concern over BPA toxicity,” Braun says.

Luckily, reducing dietary exposure is possible. As reported last July in Environ­­mental Health Perspectives, 20 participants swapped their normal diet, which included canned and packaged foods, for a “fresh foods” diet, which did not. The dietary switch reduced the participants’ BPA levels by 66 percent after three days


New Report Reveals Monsanto Product's Potentially Devastating Impact on Soil


Monsanto's reckless disregard for public health and the agricultural stability of the planet may be even more significant than previously thought. A shocking new report reveals how Monsanto's Roundup is actually threatening the crop-yielding potential of the entire biosphere. The report reveals that glyphosate, which was developed by Monsanto in the early 1970s and is the active ingredient in its patented herbicide Roundup, may be irreversibly devastating the microbiodiversity of the soil - compromising the health of the entire planet, as a result.

New research published in the journal Current Microbiology highlights the extent to which glyphosate is altering, and in some cases destroying, the very microorganisms upon which the health of the soil, and - amazingly - the benefits of raw and fermented foods as a whole, depend. Concerningly, certain beneficial strains of bacteria used as food-starters in cultures for raw yogurt, such as Lactobacillus cremoris, have entirely disappeared from certain geographic regions where traditionally they were found in plenty. The study reports that the death and growth inhibition of selected food microorganisms was observed in concentrations of Roundup that are lower than are recommended in agricultural practice.

This means that farmers who are increasingly using larger and larger concentrations of Roundup and similar glyphosate-based herbicide formulations to countermand the increasingly resistant super weeds GM agriculture has spawned, are not only damaging the immediate health of the soil, but subsequent yields of indispensable food-starter microorganisms, as well as the microbes that ensure the overall fertility of the soil for producing crops well into the future.

Monsanto's Roundup assaults the planetary biosphere

Microorganisms are responsible for much more than just the health content of raw and fermented foods. The most numerous inhabitants in the web of life, microorganisms participate quite literally "at the root" of the nitrogen, phosphate, oxygen and carbon cycles, and are therefore indispensable for the health of the entire biosphere. Astoundingly, there are an estimated 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6 x 10 to the 30th power) bacterial cells on the planet, and these soil microrganisms represent about 50 percent of the the total biodiversity in terms of numbers of species.

As Roundup usage threatens these soil microrganisms, including fungi and the mycellium (technically the largest organism in the world), it could lead to devastating implications. Compromising the health of the mycellium, in particular, may cause serious harm to the planet. According to prominent mycologist Paul Stamets, mycellium may actually act as a 'network' within the biosphere, acting as the Earth's 'natural internet' in which virtually all organisms may rely upon. It has been recognized throughout the ages that all life depends on the soil. Without healthy soil, the health of the entire planet is at risk.

Charles E. Kelogg was one individual who stated such in the USDA yearbook back in 1939. Kelogg said:

"Essentially, all life depends upon the soil ... There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together."

Franklin Delano Roosevelt also voiced similar concerns, warning:

"The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself."

Based on an ever-increasing body of scientific evidence showing glyphosate biodegrades slowly, sinks down through the topsoil where it accumulates in the groundwater (source for natural drinking water, e.g. aquifers, springs), and is found in nearly all air and rain samples tested in the US, it is safe to say that Monsanto's best-selling Roundup is one of the greatest threats to human and environmental health ever created.

As the USDA continues to sit back and allow Monsanto to threaten the environmental stability of the planet, it becomes more apparent that the USDA and Monsanto are gladly willing to exchange the future of the planet and its inhabitants for short term gain. In fact, the USDA has even given Monsanto's latest GMO crops speedier approval in order to secure the company's profits, ignoring the numerous known harmful effects of Monsanto's past creations, e.g. Agent Orange, Aspartame, DDT.

The known effects of Roundup

The negative effects of Monsanto's Roundup on human health and the environment have been firmly established by numerous scientific studies and large-scale investigations, with scientists even linking the best-selling herbicide to conditions like infertility and cancer due to its genotoxic (DNA damaging) nature. Amazingly, even when diluted by 99.8 percent (450-fold lower dilutions than used in agricultural applications), Roundup still exhibits serious genotoxic characteristics and is harmful to the integrity of human DNA. Meanwhile, this carcinogenic herbicide product is used nationwide by unsuspecting homeowners and agricultural workers. According to the United States Geological Survey, 176 million lbs of glyphosate were used in the U.S. in 2007.

Outside of the public health realm, Roundup's startling environmental havoc is perhaps an even greater cause for concern. Despite being created to fend off weeds, Roundup is actually spawning resistant superweeds across millions of hectares (one hectare is 10,000 square metres), bankrupting farmers and destroying crop land. These resistant weeds currently cover over 4.5 million hectares in the United States alone, though experts estimate the world-wide land coverage to have reached at least 120 million hectares by 2010. The onset of superweeds is being increasingly documented in Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Europe and South Africa.

The research is clear: Roundup is not only harming human health and damaging farmland, it is threatening the very biosphere itself by destroying microbial biodiversity, with the future agricultural stability of the planet, i.e. the ability to produce food through monoculturing, at serious risk of collapsing.


Accused of Containing Carcinogens, Coke and Pepsi Ask Manufacturers to Change

In the interest of eliminating all carcinogens from the food supply, the state of California has the strictest food additive regulations in the country (if not the world,) and now the grand dames of American softdrinks--Coke and Pepsi--have finally run afoul of the regulators' rulebook. You might imagine the problem would be with the controversial artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas, but it's not. At issue is a chemical contaminant called 4-methylimidazole, dubbed 4-MEI, that can develop during the manufacturing process of the drinks' most basic coloring agent known as "caramel coloring."

Because the agent that gives cola its brown color can contain the carcinogenic compound 4-MEI at levels as much as 6 times higher than what California deems safe, companies using the agent would have to put a cancer warning label on their products.

The trouble began last year after environmental scientists at the government's National Toxicology Program (which conducts safety testing and helps set standards for the National Institute of Environmental Healh) found "clear evidence" that 4-MEI is an animal carcinogen linked with lung, liver and thyroid cancer as well as leukemia in mice. California state health officials then added 4-MEI to the state's list of "chemicals known to the state to cause cancer." Under Proposition 65, California regulators then set a maximum safe level for the chemical, requiring any food or beverage containing more than the safe level to carry a cancer warning label.

Researchers at the University of California at Davis and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) independently found significant levels of 4-MEI in multiple brands of cola including Coke, Pepsi and Wholefoods 365 Cola. The Golden States' maximum safe level of 4-MEI is 16 micrograms per person per day from any individual product. Popular brands of cola contain about 200 micrograms of 4-MEI per 20-ounce bottle—and many people, especially teenaged boys, consume more than that each day according to CSPI, which has taken a lot of heat for exposing the soda problem.

In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. CSPI also says the phrase “caramel coloring” is misleading when used to describe colorings made with ammonia or sulfite: "The terms `ammonia process caramel' or `ammonia sulfite process caramel' would be more accurate," the consumer group stated in a press release,"and companies should not be allowed to label any products that contain such colorings as 'natural.'”

In response to the controversy, Coca Cola and Pepsi coloring manufacturers to modify their production process to reduce the amount of 4-MEI in the coloring agent. In a statement, Coca Cola insisted the change would have no effect on the formula or on the taste. It will also have no effect on the unhealthy level of sugar found in regular soda.


What If Polluter Lobbyists Were Replaced by Asthmatic Kids?

This ad from the Natural Resource Defense Council started running March 6 in support of President Obama and the EPA's proposed new safeguards.  Says the NRDC: "The ad reflects the growing body of scientific evidence that warming temperatures caused by industrial carbon pollution worsen smog pollution, which in turn causes asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.  The Environmental Protection Agency is planning, as early as next week, to propose first-ever safeguards against industrial carbon pollution from new power plants."  Leading public health groups like the American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association support strict limits on industrial carbon pollution and have linked this dangerous air pollution to asthma attacks, heart attacks and even premature deaths. The utility industry so far has been amazingly quiet about the campaign. 


Research Finds Effects of Environmental Toxins Reach Down Through Generations


A Washington State University researcher has demonstrated that a variety of environmental toxicants can have negative effects on not just an exposed animal but the next three generations of its offspring.

The animal's DNA sequence remains unchanged, but the compounds change the way genes turn on and off -- the epigenetic effect studied at length by WSU molecular biologist Michael Skinner and expanded on in the current issue of the online journalPLoS ONE.

While Skinner's earlier research has shown similar effects from a pesticide and fungicide, this is the first to show a greater variety of toxicants -- including jet fuel, dioxin, plastics and the pesticides DEET and permethrin -- promoting epigenetic disease across generations.

"We didn't expect them all to have transgenerational effects, but all of them did," Skinner said. "I thought hydrocarbon would be negative but it was positive too."

This tells researchers that the ability to promote transgenerational disease is "not simply a unique aspect for a unique compound" but a characteristic of many environmental compounds.

Researchers tested a pesticide mixture (permethrin and insect repellant DEET), a plastic mixture (bisphenol A and phthalates), dioxin (TCDD) and a hydrocarbon mixture (jet fuel, JP8).

The field opens new ground in the study of how diseases develop. While toxicologists generally focus on animals exposed to a compound, Skinner's work further demonstrates that diseases can also stem from older, ancestral exposures that are then mediated through epigenetic changes in sperm.

The work also points the way to identify and diagnose exposures through the use of specific epigenetic molecular markers.

"In the future we might be able to use these epigenetic biomarkers to determine your ancestral and personal exposure early in life and to predict your susceptibility to get a disease later in life," Skinner said.

The study was funded by the U.S. Army to study pollutants that troops might be exposed to. Skinner and his colleagues exposed pregnant female rats to relatively high but non-lethal amounts of the compounds and tracked changes in three generations of offspring.

The researchers saw females reaching puberty earlier, increased rates in the decay and death of sperm cells and lower numbers of ovarian follicles that later become eggs. Future studies can use the molecular tools for risk assessment analysis.