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.  

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