|Caustic Commentary, Spring 2000|
|Friday, 31 March 2000 16:20|
Hooray for Vitamin A!
Confirmation of Dr. Price's research turns up in the strangest places. On October 28, South African President Thabo Mbeki appeared on national television to explain why his government is NOT giving toxic AZT to pregnant woman, a common practice in many African countries where Glaxo Wellcome is foisting off their "miracle drug." After a 1994 studyâ€”funded by the manufacturerâ€”found that AZT given to pregnant women lowered the mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 25.5 percent to 8.3 percent, governments throughout the world have been forcing pregnant women with AIDS to take AZT. Subsequent studies, performed by independent researchers, did not repeat the glowing results. In fact, a 1995 study found high amounts of birth defects in babies born to mothers in India who had taken AZT during pregnancy, including extra digits on hands and feet, low-set ears, misshapen heads and severe heart defects. But here's the good news. A study in Malawi, Africa, found that transmission of HIV was closely correlated with levels of vitamin A in mothers. Mothers with the highest levels of vitamin A had a transmission rate of just 7.2 percent. And, as Dr. Price taught us, vitamin A also protects against the kind of birth defects mentioned above. (Celia Farber, "A Timely Firestorm" www.ironminds.com)
"There has been much speculation about why earlier maturation may be occurring in girls, especially because there has been no apparent advance. . . in the onset of puberty in boys." So writes Jane E. Brody in the New York Times (12/10/99) More than any other writer, Jane Brody has pushed Americans into the lowfat, mostly vegetarian diet that has sent sales of soy foods soaring and, as a corollary, resulted in 25% of American bottle-fed babies getting estrogen-loaded soy-based infant formula. Could this trend be due to increased obesity or exposure to plastics and insecticides, she wonders, carefully avoiding mention of the dreaded S word. And how shall parents cope with the tragic truncation of girlhood, not to mention the other problems that often accompany premature pubertyâ€”stunted growth, central nervous system disorders including headaches and seizures, reproductive complaints or behavioral problems? Not to worry. Researchers suggest that we should just redefine the ages at which puberty is considered precocious. "The onset of breast development between 7 and 8 years of age in white girls and between 6 and 8 years in African-American girls may be part of the normal broad variation in the timing of puberty and not, in most cases, a pathological state," say members of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society. This will be reassuring to one group of 33 early-maturing girls whom researchers found to be more depressed, socially withdrawn, aggressive and moody than a comparable group of girls who had not yet entered puberty. Perhaps these girls sense what is in storeâ€”a shrinking pool of fully developed males, due to the fact that failure to mature is becoming increasingly common in boys.
Apologists for genetic engineering have pulled out all the stops to justify the use of genetically modified seeds in the face of an increasingly hostile public, and none more than Dennis Avery, director of global food issues for the Hudson Institute of Indianapolis. (Washington Times 1/23/00) Comparing protestors to flat-earthers who opposed Galileo, Avery makes the following modest claims for GMO's: end of world hunger; end of all nutrient deficiencies; removal of allergens from foods like nuts; healthier fats; end of destruction of Asian tropical forests; more wealth in third world countries; and evenâ€”for wealthy capitalistsâ€”more tender steaks! Because a few tree-huggers want to turn the world back into the "scientific Dark Ages," billions of dollars in research "to make foods that are better tasting, more nutritious and kinder to the environment" will go to waste, he fumes, with more hunger and suffering in Third World countries and thousands of scientists on the dole in the US. The real reasons our precious earth is being sown with genetically modified seeds are rather more cynical: control of seed production; control of agriculture; control of farmers; increased herbicide sales; increased debt; increased corporate profits; control of the burgeoning organic market; and, most importantly, fast food french fries with fewer blemishes.
Hold on Whole Foods
Whatever your feelings may be about the supermarket chain Whole Foods, most of us would congratulate them for bringing more and better products to consumers and for providing a greatly expanded market to organic farmers. Recognizing consumer desires for GMO-free foods, Whole Foods recently took a strong stand against genetically modified seeds. But some people are not pleased. Frances B. Smith, Executive Director of a group called Consumer Alert, and Gregory Conko, Food Safety Policy Analyst for a group called Competitive Enterprise Institute, have written a formal letter of protest to Whole Foods and posted it on the Consumer Alert website. The letter accuses Whole Foods of misleading consumers with a "food fright" message and "a pejorative inference that organic or natural foods are somehow safer or more nutritious than foods produced from conventional or biotechnology crops." While acknowledging that consumers have the right to choose, they say that protest groups "are damaging consumer confidence in safe, affordable foods." Then they hoist up the old world hunger argument. We say, hang in there Whole Foods. Thank you for making GMO-free foods available and giving us the right to choose.
Fast Food, Uganda Style
December is grasshopper month in Uganda and Ugandans were particularly lucky this year because heavy rains caused tens of thousands of the grasshoppers to swarm into cities where they were promptly stripped of their legs and wings, then fried and eaten. This happy event was reported in Nutrition Week (12/3/99) with the comment that "nutritionists do say that grasshoppers are high in both protein and carbohydrates." Here is a good example of unfortunate misinformation about traditional diets. What grasshoppers provide in the Ugandan diet is not carbohydrates but high quality fat, just loaded with the fat soluble vitamins that Weston Price discovered to be so vital to human health, as well as trace minerals like magnesium, zinc and iron. Insect foods from land and sea (like fried grasshoppers and dried shrimp) provide Ugandans the nutrients they need to grow healthy and strong, with beautiful teeth and a high immunity to disease.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, one million die each year from vitamin A deficiency and 3.7 billion suffer from iron deficiency, according to the World Health Organization. These problems are found in areas where the principal food is grain, particularly rice. Rice is devoid of vitamin A and contains phytic acid, which blocks the uptake of iron. How does modern science propose to solve this unhappy situation? With genetically engineered "golden" rice that has reduced phytate and higher beta-carotene content. These scientists need to go back to Nutrition 101. Phytic acid in rice bran helps prevent sprouting until conditions are right. The risk is that phytate-free rice is more likely to rot in storage, leading to shortages and outright famine. And beta-carotene in plant foods is no substitute for true vitamin A found only in animal foods. What's more, iron can't be properly absorbed without true vitamin A from animal sources. The solution to nutrient deficiencies is not golden rice, but more animal foodsâ€”more meat, more seafood, more eggs, more milk products and more bugsâ€”in other words, foods available in a prosperous peasant economy rather those provided by the monocultured fields of the global plantation.
Third World Diet for American Children
While scientists bemoan the suffering caused by plant-based diets in the third world, dietary gurus are working hard to convince Americans to throw out "cholesterol-laden high-fat foods" and give their kids a third world vegan diet in the US. Colin Campbell, director of the Cornell China Study, reports that the healthiest people are those who eat no meat or dairy products at all. (Cornell Magazine May/June 1999). A vegan diet for children will protect them from heart disease and cancer later on, he asserts. The proof, he says, is that the 80-year-old Dr. Benjamin Spock felt "much better" when he switched to a vegan diet. Maybe so, but Dr. Spock's mind became so addled that he began recommending a vegan diet for growing children. Charlotte Gerson, daughter of the late Max Gerson and director of the Gerson Institute, lauds Campbell's work and claims that her father's remarkable results with cancer patients were due to a vegan diet. (Gerson Healing Newsletter 15(1), 2000) Has she forgotten that the main component of the Gerson diet was raw liver juice? Not to be outdone, Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. PCRM asserts that the dietary guidelines do not promote a diet "low enough in fat and rich enough in plant products to reduce the higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and prostate cancer among minorities." Restriction of animal foods may be useful occasionally as a temporary measure in the treatment of chronic illness in adults, but restriction of animal protein and fat in children's diets will reduce these adult diseases in one way onlyâ€”by preventing them from reaching adulthood at all.
A small group of neurosurgeons is now treating chronic fatigue with an operation that removes some bone from the back of people's skulls and spines to "decompress" their brains, spinal cords and central nervous systems. (Wall Street Journal 11/11/99) The rationale for these draconian measures is that patients' troublesâ€”including lethargy, coordination problems and fibromyalgiaâ€”stem from a squeezing of the brain or spinal cord by a too-tight skull or spinal canal. The connection of narrow or compressed skulls with these complaints has more basis in fact than is recognized by the medical establishment. Dr. Weston Price demonstrated that preindustrialized peoples on nutrient-dense native diets had broad faces that allowed for perfectly straight teeth and adequate room for all the structures in the head. Excellent facial bone structure went hand in hand with a high level of good health, including mental health. When these villagers and tribesmen began to consume the "displacing foods of modern commerce," they gave birth to children with narrow faces and consequent crowding of the teeth, nasal passages, ear tubes, spinal cord and glandular system. Later researchers discovered that when animals on deficient diets give birth to young with narrowed head structure, a host of chronic diseases also appeared, including lethargy, abnormal behavior and coordination problems. So surgery for chronic fatigue, like orthodontics for crooked teeth, may not be so farfetched. But first doctors should try the diet that gave our ancestors such good bone structure and overall health, a diet rich in seafood and animal protein and fat from grass-fed animals. These foods provide vitamins A and D that allow mineral absorption, nourish the endocrine system, facilitate the clearance of lactic acid from the cells and provide the nervous system with components needed for optimum performance. If surgery is still necessary, the addition of such a diet may give a higher success rate.
Bad Mouthing Organics
The stock market is worried about the growth of the organic food sector. Sales of organic products have grown at an average annual rate of 42% from 1992 to 1997 and organics are now a $6 billion business. Investor's Business Daily has raised alarm bells with an article entitled "The Risky Nature of Organics." (3/3/99) Citing outbreaks of food poisoning from deadly new strains of E. coli traced to organic lettuce and unpasteurized apple juice, author John Berlau argues that uncomposted manure sprayed on organic crops poses a far greater threat to human health than pesticides on industrially farmed food. GMO apologist Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute warns that "organic is now obviously the deadly choice in food. . . We have never recorded a death that anyone could attribute to pesticide residues." What the Hudson Institute and other proponents of corporate communism fail to mention is that many scientists now believe that the new and deadly forms of E. coli are the direct result of genetic engineering in which E. coli DNA is used as a vector for gene splicing. There's no question that the organic movement favors the little guy and cuts into corporate profits. Scare tactics are a favorite weapon of the industry dinosaurs. They've been used effectively to garner public support for pasteurization, vaccinations and irradiation, but it's unlikely that they'll make a dent in the growing organic movement.
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