Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Genetically Modified Plants and Animals are completely safe

We know this because the manufacturers tell us they are.  It's pretty simple, they have tested them, they proclaim them as completely safe, therefore they are.

Let's look at these corporate leaders of bioengineering technology in a little more depth.

Monsanto, the first company to market genetically modified products has been in business for over a century. Their first product, saccharin for the Coca Cola company.  They have existed mainly by manufacturing some of the worst chemicals known to mankind, from PCB's to DDT to Agent Orange to Dioxin.  It isn't the manufacture of harmful chemicals that in itself is bad, it is the FACT that Monsanto attempted to save money by wholesale dumping of byproducts, used PCB's and other industrial wastes into lakes, streams, waterways and into settlement ponds to infiltrate the groundwater instead of correctly handling and disposing of such wastes.  High temp incineration costs money, it's free to dump it into the water supply of local towns.  Monsanto is directly responsible for 98 of the EPA Superfund Sites that have been in the cleanup process for nearly forty years now at a cost to American taxpayers of ten TRILLION dollars.  Monsanto's contribution to cleanup of their illegal dumping, ZERO.  Currently Monsanto makes money from GMO seed production, herbicides and other farm chemicals, the manufacture of the questionable hormone rBGH which is outlawed in most of the industrialized world, weather data services, and not to be discounted, but a significant amount of revenue comes from suing farmers for patent infringement. 

Dow. is the largest manufacturer of industrial chemicals in the United States. They make some interesting things, napalm, nerve gas, a huge variety of plastics including styrofoam, and lately they have begun to buy up coal mining operations.  At one time they made pesticides and are responsible for nearly a quarter of a million deaths due to equipment failures and the release of said pesticides into the heavily populated town of Bhopal India.  To date, the company has refused to compensate a single person for losses of loved ones, pain suffering or anything related to the disaster. In the last ten years the EPA has begun an investigation into the decades of the company dumping dioxin into the Michigan waterways instead of using approved yet more costly disposal of the wastes.  They are also being investigated for over 250 deaths from chloropyrifos poisoning at their manufacturing plant.  Something they hid, and just compensated American workers to keep quiet about.  Dow now makes Genetically Modified crops for farmers.

BASF is the largest manufacturer of industrial, commercial and consumer chemical products in the world.  Not just old video tapes, but all kinds of plastics, pharmaceutical and farm chemicals.  Huge ties to Fascist Germany and for three decades after the war virtually all of the senior management were former members of the Nazi party.  The three manufacturing facilities in the US are rated as some of the worst in the world and since 2001 have been cited by the EPA 673 times for violations of environmental regulations.  BASF now makes Genetically Modified crops for farmers along with a whole host of chemicals for farmers.

DuPont started out making munitions and explosives.  Not a bad thing in itself, someone had to do it.  The company has the dubious and grand designation as being the company that has the largest ever civil fine assessed by the EPA for violating Federal environmental laws. The company is responsible for 20 of the EPA superfund sites.  Again, ten trillion dollars for the cleanup, money paid toward that cleanup by DuPont, ZERO.  In 2013 DuPont has been targeted as the worst contributor to air pollution in the US.  DuPont now makes Genetically Modified crops and farm chemicals.

Syngenta, was formed by the merging of the agrochemical divisions o AstraZeneca and Novartis.  They make dozens of pesticides of which many are banned in their home country of Switzerland. Paraquat and Atrazine beng the most recognizable.  Well, except for their neonicotinide pesticides that are now in the process of being banned in most EU nations.  Syngenta is lobbying hard to block the ban and has even gone so far as to threaten to sue EU leaders that vote for the block.  Syngenta is responsible for 18 of the US EPA Superfund sites and now produces Genetically Modified crops along with a whole host of agrochemicals.

These are the companies that control the destiny of food in the world today.  Each of them has horrific pasts, and some are not so exceptional in the present and their track records have been filled with lies, deceptions and disinformation. Each of them tells us that their products are safe, each of them backs up their claims with short term feeding studies.  The big question is do we believe them?  When qualified scientists do comprehensive long term studies the results give us very different pictures.

Who do we believe?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Knowledge, the internet is the true Renaissance Man

The Renaissance Man of myth and legend was a man that knew everything.  It may have been possible once, long long ago to have been able to acquire most, I doubt all, of the knowledge of mankind within one's lifetime.  The amount of knowledge then was pretty limited and really only covered a few subjects and branches of science.  So, it might have been possible.  In today's world, there are people that seem to have a claim to enormous knowledge and identify themselves as true Renaissance men.  I'm sure you know a few, they are people that we colloquially refer to as "Know-It-Alls".  I know a few, was married to one, and they are all around us penetrating social groups with their particular brand of uninvited oratory on every subject discussed and volunteering their own experiences and unsought opinions into conversations.  Some people reading my blog might think that describes me, however it isn't true, I am actually quite timid and withdrawn in groups and quietly offer my knowledge only when asked.  And, the big one, I am never afraid to say "I don't know."

We live in a marvelous age, the internet has become our Renaissance Mind.  It contains the sum total of available knowledge and it is there for us to learn at the touch of just a few buttons.  As a child I profess to spending hours and hours reading through the old Funk and Wagnells Encyclopedia that my mother got one volume at a time for shopping at a local grocer that offered them as a promotion, one volume at a time with a minimum purchase.  I read them all.  As a youth I was a knowledge junkie.  And a math whiz. To this day I know what this is    

Three semesters of college calculus and my overall GPA at the time I earned my Masters was just 3.78, probably because when I first went to college I took Fortran, and to this day I can't think like a programmer, it just isn't in my mind to do so.  I learned to speak Latin in high school, probably forgotten it all now, but software programming, wow, not for me.  But I do have a sort of analytical mind and I thrive on learning things.  Not so much geared toward the applied mathematics anymore, my drive for knowledge now encompasses a lot of cooking, as well as the stuff I write about here, how our government has failed the citizens and big agribusiness and drug companies have decided that money is more important than safety.  I think that the billions of dollars in fines levied against the drug industry for just those things justifies my concerns toward them.  However the agribusinesses just haven't killed enough of our citizens to attract our wrath and cause the regulatory agencies to bypass the prevailing system of corruption and actually perform their functions and begin to regulate the flow of toxins into our food supply.

No one can know everything, but the true Renaissance Men of our time are those that can correlate widely diverse bits of data and reach conclusions that ordinary people never would believe possible.  It all begins with thinking outside the box.  Here is a remarkable website that I just love. (Sciencelab) This site gives to the reader a ton of information about common (and not so common) chemical compounds used in industry.  Everything from cinnamon oil to mercury.  It also gives us the toxicity of those compounds.  And the fascinating study of the LD50 for each of them.  And let's differentiate that from the other toxicity study, the LC50.  This LC50 is more virulent and defines what amount in aerosol form measured in parts per million within the atmosphere, does it take with an exposure of four hours to kill fifty percent of test subjects, generally large mammals.  Our interest is in the LD50, or the amount of a compound that when ingested will kill fifty percent of the test subjects within a given time frame, generally the standard is two weeks.  This is interesting information.  Did you know that if you give rabbits 320 milligrams of cinnamon oil per kilo of body weight, that fifty percent of them will die.  Makes me think about how sick a lot of those people got from doing the internet stunt of swallowing a tablespoon of cinnamon on camera just to get on the net.

However this site also gives us really useful information about some of the toxins in our food supply, like one of my favorites, Azodicarbonamide.  I detail how nasty the stuff is here on my blog at this entry (Poison)   And this is just one of the multitudes of chemicals that the FDA has allowed into our food system, simply because some corporations want those chemicals and have found uses for them that make more money for them.  And there are a lot of them.  Just for fun, let's look at the most popular and widely used preservative in the food industry, BHA.  Look it up.  We see that it is a Class 2B carcinogen.  Testing shows it to be Mutagenic to bacteria and yeasts and the big one, chronic exposure causes system and organ damage.  It is the most widely used preservative in our food supply.  It kills bacteria, it's cheap, it has no discernible flavor on its own, and it is approved for use by the FDA. 

I believe the FDA needs to hire a few Renaissance Men to look at the internet more.  It would appear that they don't have ANY at all right now.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dixie Cup Consumerism

George Bernard Shaw - The truth is something that absolutely nobody will believe!

Surely we all know what a Dixie cup is.  The little paper cup on the sides of water coolers, use it once, then toss it into the bin.  Disposable objects purposed for one specific task.  Although in real life Dixie cups are used for a multitude of functions.  From mixing paints, to craft projects to portioning medications to, well, a myriad of things; their specific design  and construction is one that makes them, disposable.

Dixie cup has become sort of analogous with our society, disposable everything.  A plastic society, use once and throw it away.  It's been said that Lee Iacoca perfected the Dixie Cup car, exceptional marketing and design, but lasted only as long as the warranty and then was disposed of. Plastics along with the detritus of our disposable society fill our landfills, litter our country, and our oceans, and they are in fact, the legacy we leave our offspring.  Plastic people, we use them, then throw them away.  Not the Kardashians or tabloid fodder, who meet, mate, marry and say bye bye more often than most people change their pants.  But actual people.  We, the consumers of America, are disposable.  We are THE Dixie People. 

Back in the fifties, the FDA was inundated with huge numbers of applications to approve new additives for the manufacture of processed foods.  The FDA itself doesn't have the resources to test new food additives, and instead relies on the manufacturer of these chemicals to do comprehensive studies to determine just how safe they are for human consumption.  Just for fun, check out this site, it is the guidelines for scientific evaluation of new products for human use. (FDA Guidelines)  You would think that these are all pretty specific and if a company follows them to the letter, then the interpretation of the data will conclusively prove the efficacy of any compound so that it may be allowed into the food supply and added to the EAFUS list of chemical additives allowed in food (EAFUS list)  Right now, EAFUS lists over 3000 items.  Many are natural things, like Acai berries, cinnamon, Azodicarbonamide.  Oops, that last one really isn't natural.  I detail how toxic it is here- (FDA FAIL)  and show how this compound has been disallowed by the EPA for use in food, but because the manufacturer applied to the FDA to allow its use in bread making, it was allowed and added to the EAFUS.  That testing report, well all of the reports for any of the listings in the EAFUS are not available to the public.  However it must have shown a favorable interpretation of the raw data to be included, and let's not ever forget, interpretation of data is what science is all about.  

That's where human Dixie cups come in.  Realistically we might believe that any manufacturer paying money to test a new wonder drug or food additive might interpret the raw data in favor of themselves.  It's kinda like dating, we present the most favorable picture of ourselves to our prospective dating partner, and leave out all the bad info.  Plus the FDA guidelines again only call for 60 day testing on small groups of rats, there are no requirements for long term testing.  In fact the truth is that if we could find a viable use for some compound of lead to make food better, the FDA guidelines for testing for sixty days would show that our lead based ingredient would be perfectly safe.  It is however, a very nasty cumulative toxin, and sixty days of minute ingestion would not be long enough for the subjects to exhibit the effects of lead toxicity.  The obvious solution to the dilemma is for the FDA to approve the toxin and allow the Dixie cup population to determine if it kills them or not.

Sounds simplistic doesn't it.  And not at all true.  The FDA has never knowingly allowed a new drug or food additive into the system with the intention of determining whether or not it is safe.  It just seems like they do.  (Drug recalls)  Actually there is no such list for food additives, there is just the one, cyclamates.  The FDA hasn't ever rescinded approval for any other food additive on the EAFUS list.  700 of those additives are classed as Class II carcinogens, or worse, like the above blog entry for Azodicarbonamide, are chemicals that are banned in EVERY other country in the world and of which our own EPA bans the use in food.  

We are the Beta testers for the food industry.  The Dixie cup consumers.  We are the perfect test subjects for the food and drug industries.  There is research and testing data in the FDA archives for every single drug and food additive out there in use today, however that data is based on testing of each individual drug and additive.  The reality of our world is that we as consumers are exposed to multiple additives daily.  There is no testing required to determine what happens when large numbers of individual chemical additives are ingested on a daily basis.  We have no actual knowledge of how these chemicals interact within our bodies.  There is no way to definitively assess such a thing either.  The preliminary testing of sixty day feeding studies is horribly inadequate in itself, to attempt to define and test interactions of a large number of chemicals on the human body over long periods would be ridiculously expensive, and the data virtually impossible to accurately interpret.  

We are the Dixie cup consumers.  Someday, someone else will notice.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dolly, the first cloned sheep, and why we don't see her twins everywhere

July 5, 1996.  Scientists in Scotland announced the successful cloning of genetic material from a mammal, a domestic sheep.  She was genetically identical to the female sheep from which they took a tissue cell nucleus and caused it to grow into a live sheep.  She died seven years later.  Scientists have since cloned cows, horses pigs, mice. dogs and cats and they even cloned a racing camel.  Depending on your point of view, it's pretty exciting stuff, or some might call it interfering with the work of the creator.  Which in a way, it might be, as I have stated here before with respect to Genetically Modified foods; those scientists attempting to play god don't have the manual required to explain how to do it.  And are screwing it up big time.

A few pertinent points about cloning technology.  It doesn't work all that well.  In 2008 the FDA released a 968 page report in an attempt to alleviate any fears the public, well, anyone aware of the situation, might have had about consuming the meat, eggs, milk or whatever that comes from cloned animals.  It didn't really do so, there are more questions raised by the report than are answered.  The biggest question that I can think of is why are we still attempting this when it is such an obvious failure.  Well the FDA states that the science of cloning is inexact and that they even have a term for the errors that occur during the process "epigenitic dysregulation"  Which basically means that 90% of the cloned animals die or are born with abnormal or poorly developed lungs, hearts or other internal organs, and the big one, they have LOS  or what they have named Large Offspring Syndrome where the unborn grows so large it kills both itself and the host "mother".  The animals that survive birth often have circulatory system problems, failure to regulate their own body temperature and the common problem, failure to thrive.

The FDA has decreed that any such animal is okay to put into the food system for human consumption.  Well, that's only partially true.  The FDA stated in their report that they would ask that producers not use cloned animals for food and it was entirely voluntary as the FDA stated that "cloned animals were virtually identical to normal animals raised specifically for meat."  Except that elsewhere in the very same report they state that meat and milk differed and had "alterations in fatty acid composition and delta-9 desaturase {an enzyme that synthesizes fat} activity"  And again later "these changes imply that lipid metabolism may be altered"    Two companies, Cyagra and ViaGen already have cloned animals out in the dairy industry, and state that the animals are already at butchers for human consumption.  Their claim for the milk from cloned animals is perfectly safe even with this statement from ViaGen, "Milk from cows, sheep and goats are mixtures that are estimated to be composed of more than 100,000 molecules and that we will rely on federal nutrition labeling requirements to catch problems"

These are the same scientists that have defined the genetic code for humans, cows, sheep and goats and yet they can't analyze milk from genetically engineered animals to determine if it contains something that normal milk doesn't.  They also state that they will rely on federal slaughterhouse inspections to catch cloned animals should they be sent to slaughterhouses to be put into the food supply.  Because the FDA asks that rejection of cloned animals be voluntary.

Yikes!  I sort of thought that if you were raising a cloned animal, you would know it.  Perhaps they do.

Of course the theory behind cloning and genetically engineering animals is in itself flawed.  Big dreams about engineering cows that aren't susceptible to the man made prions causing mad cow disease (BSE) is noble, even if it's too little too late.  But scientists have lots of other concepts for animals, pigs that excrete 75 percent less phosphorous thus allowing them to use 33 percent less land, and enabling farmers to overcrowd the animals together even more.  Cows, pigs, sheep and poultry that grow at accelerated rates just like the recently approved genetically modified salmon that grow three times faster than normal salmon.  And for which no environmental nor long term feeding studies have ever been done. There are even scientists that are attempting to engineer dairy cows that secrete lysostaphin in their milk in order to prevent mastitis, which is a huge problem in the dairy industry that relies on the use of rBGH hormones to increase milk production.  All the while causing infections in the cow's udders that results in pus in their milk.  Yum, milk with antibiotics. Not sure if that's better than milk with pus. But then I don't drink milk.  And that's only one of the reasons why.

The basic problem with the entire concept of cloning genetically engineered animals is simple.  Mother nature isn't so cut and dried about her methods of infections and diseases.  If these guys are successful in creating a steer that can't be infected with prions for BSE or if they create a cow that won't ever get a staph infection and mastitis; what makes these guys think that mother nature won't mutate virus and bacteria.  It happens all the time.  Ebola, new flu strains EVERY SINGLE YEAR, the disease that mimics polio, but isn't polio.  Oh sorry, that one is just polio, the WHO just call it a new disease so they can get ever more funding to vaccinate the third world at a profit.  (My opinion only, not based at all on the mountains of evidence)  If farmers remove ALL genetic diversity from the farm by only raising cloned animals with one specific genotype, they are opening themselves up to massive losses from diseases that mutate to a strains that are infectious to that genotype.  With no diversity, ALL the animals will get sick.  Modern farm methods are based on containing all the animals in close confined quarters insuring the EASY spread of new diseases within the populations.  When scientists genetically altered food crops to kill insects that ate them and to withstand applications of weedkiller they never once considered the fact that the insects would become immune to the insecticide in the plants and that the weeds would thrive on the weedkiller as all have done.  It sure seems as though the scientists and corporate leaders are all short sided, or maybe just one sided and that side is profit driven science.  Once the world accepts new technology that soon fails, their scientists will produce newer more creative, perhaps more deadly replacements.

All I know is that I personally don't want to be the scientific world's guinea pig.  I should be able to opt out of being in their testing mode for humans.  I want their products labeled so that I don't have to buy them.  The FDA testing requirements for these new genetically engineered foods are totally inadequate.  Their requirement is that the corporation playing god and CREATING new animals and plants test the food for sixty days and to not even do it in a double blind feeding study.  It's all pointless, random and inaccurate, and yet our government uses those studies as gospel.  In 2010, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was asked if cloned cows and their offspring were in fact now part of the food chain in America and his response was, "I can't say today that I can answer your question in an affirmative or negative way, I don't know.  What I do know is that we know all the research, all the review of this is suggested that this is safe."  What this says to me is that the FDA, the USDA, and let's throw in all the other regulatory agencies that oversee the health of Americans; do not have any idea nor have they been DIRECTED to regulate these new technologies that by definition, are going to FAIL and of which we do not at this time even know if they are harmful in any way.

So, I have looked and looked and have been unable to find just how many of Dolly's sisters did not survive during the process of creating her.  The FDA admits that 90% die.  That's ten years after the fact.

I shop at farmers markets, I eat organic food.  I'm not a lab rat guinea pig test subject being fed genetically altered food during my lifetime to see if it causes increases in cancer, heart disease, bowel problems or any of the huge numbers of problems befalling humankind today.  Oh, wait.  maybe that's the reason all of those things have increased in our population of late.  I don't know, I'm not a scientist.  I only look at statistics that they publish.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dry Aged Beef,..... yep, that's it for the title

So most everyone I talk to says that life is pretty good.  The food they eat is good, great in fact, and they love it.  Yeah, it's true, they all think I'm nuts.  Everyone I know it would seem doesn't see anything wrong with the food available to us.  And that's the part that is so hard for me to understand.  When I bake bread, everyone loves it, they can't get enough of it.  They all say it's fantastic.  And it has no artificial additives.  When I make home made ice cream, everyone loves it, they all tell me that it is incredible and the best they ever had, and it has no artificial additives.  Two examples of my chosen lifestyle methodology of cooking that basically states that what we, as humans, did to our foods in the past, are what make good food for us today.   Aged beef is another one of those things.  Everyone likes the beef that is out there for sale, they even might at times say it's great, but when given prime dry aged grass fed beef, the difference is spectacular.

And that's the way it used to be, made without artificial additives.

So what makes aged beef so much better?  Well, let's look at it from a scientific point of view.  Food here on Earth is for the most part made of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Those are the basic building blocks of life and are all necessary for growth, fuel and maintenance.  We eat them.  For the most part, by themselves fats and proteins are pretty bland.   If you think about it steak tartare tastes like onions and black pepper, the actual beef is a very minor flavor component.  And fat, well, by itself, not much there.  But then when we add the element of heat, we get a whole different reaction.  That cooking in fact sets off a whole host of changes in your beef to enhance the flavor of the bland.  They are called Maillard Reaction and is what happens when the heat breaks down the amino acids and begins to caramelize the carbohydrate and sugars present in the flesh. Ahhhhhh, instant flavor.  A grilled steak is a wonder indeed.  When the proteins break down, one of the byproducts just happens to be glutamates.  Glutamates are nature's natural flavor enhancer.  We humans have taste sensitivity for salt, sweet, bitter, sour and the newest is the one called umami.  Which generally tastes the presence of glutamates.  Natural glutamates are not at all bad for us, but of course the processed and refined version, MSG is not so good.  But that's another story. (The MSG Story)  It bears repeating, so here it goes, glutamates, naturally occurring ones, are like arsenic in apples.  In their natural form, they won't hurt you.  Refined and concentrated, they will.

So, we have a way to increase the flavor components of meat, before cooking them.  Aaaaahhhh, now your interest is peaked, what on earth could that possibly be?  Well, it is in fact a method of preparing meat that has been around since human type beings left the forest trees and began to eat the scraps of predator kills to supplement their diet of starchy plants, seeds and tubers.  Aging.  Believe it or not, what first got early hominids to eat meat was because it was left to the scavengers and in fact aged a bit and the flavor enhanced enough for Paleo Joe to want to eat it.  Some of the things that happen to meat as it ages is that the naturally occurring enzymes within the tissues start to breakdown the connective collagens and the meat becomes less tough and stringy.  Naturally occurring yeasts and other microbes within the flesh begin to ferment the meat at a cellular level and what happens is that we get an increase (a dramatic increase) in the glutamates as well as the starches within the flesh are broken down into simpler sugars.  All of these things actually have more TASTE to them then what is available in plain fresh meat. And, here's the big one, this aging process in fact makes the flesh of animals more readily digested and releases more of the basic nutrients within the meat to be readily absorbed by humans.  So, old meat is better than fresh meat.  Not necessarily at the local watering hole where the fresh meat hasn't met you and might be more willing to let you buy them a drink, but meat that you consume.  I won't say eat for obvious reasons.

The big difference of course is that you can't go to the store and buy aged beef.  In today's money based food system it costs money to let meat sit on a shelf somewhere for the 8 to 12 weeks needed to allow all of these processes to come to fruition.  It won't happen at your local supermarket for several reasons.  The first is that time thing and the second is because the meat that comes from modern meat factories is not of high
enough quality to even begin the aging process.  The bacterial contamination of modern meat is a well documented fact and if stores were to attempt aging that stuff it would in fact become a cesspool of fecal contamination and NOT the wondrous product you desire.  And thirdly, the amounts of antibiotics fed to animals is enormous and the residual antibiotic content interferes with the actions of good bacteria that do all the work of aging. And no, the antibiotics don't stop the fecal bacteria from having a field day on your meat because for the most part, all those bacteria are now antibiotic resistant, which is another story altogether.  (Fecal Field Day)  Anyway, this all goes back to what our ancestors learned a long long time ago.  If you killed an animal, you hung it up in a cave and let it hang there for a while to age before you ate it.  This is a practice that goes on even today with most hunters.  If you shoot a duck, you hang it up by its feet for a couple days before you cook it.  A deer, hang it, let it age.  The longer the better.  And steers, well there are places around that will sell you aged beef.  It ain't cheap, but the finer things in life never are.

So, some people out there are thinking that they can just go out and buy a couple steaks in package and let them sit in the fridge for a month and they will be better.  Some people also have very poor comprehension of the written word.  You can't do that.  For a lot of reasons.  First, all of the above.  Modern meat is just plain nasty stuff.  Second, aging of meat is done with large base cuts as the aging process drys out and makes an inedible crust on the outside.  And the big one, if you were to put a big piece of beef in your home fridge, it would begin to taste like whatever was in there before.  Fish, pie, cake, sourkraut, whatever.  However, nothing is impossible.  You can age your own beef if you want.  If you have a separate fridge, it is possible.  Clean it well, get an hygrometer and put it in there.  Buy your grass fed beef in large full cuts from a reputable supplier specializing in beef that is NOT grown or finished in a CAFO. Get the biggest you can afford and that will fit in there.  Then do it.  hand it or put it on a rack so air can surround the entire chunk of meat.  Keep the humidity at 70% and keep the door closed as much as possible and 8 weeks after you stick it in there, take it our and shave off the outer crust and cut yourself the best steak you ever had.  Even I would eat it.