The Green Mountain College community, located in Poultney, Vermont, has a decade-long tradition of discussing the fate of livestock on the college’s Cerridwen Farm. In an open community forum this fall, the college’s eighty students decided it was time for a pair of oxen, named Bill and Lou, to go for slaughter and processing, with the meat to be used in the college dining hall. Lou had an injured leg and was no longer able to work or even to walk a significant distance without pain. However, an extremist animal rights organization, VINE (Veganism is the Next Evolution) Sanctuary, has targeted the college’s decision as inhumane and generated numerous petitions and action alerts. Dishonest and abusive postings, cyber attacks generating millions of emails, and harassment and threats of physical violence to students, faculty, staff and administrators has turned a rational and humane decision into an acrimonious battle—with no mention at all of the real abuses that take place in Vermont’s confinement facilities. VINE Sanctuary barraged the slaughterhouses with threats, making it impossible to have the animals slaughtered. Here’s your caustic commentator’s solution to the problem: Turn Bill and Lou over to VINE Sanctuary! Keep a close watch on this supposedly humanitarian group to make sure that they keep the oxen well-pastured, well-fed and well-tended until the end of their natural lives. Once they find out how much pasture rental, feed, shelter and vet bills cost, maybe they will understand why farm animals finish their service to humanity as nourishing meat.
MORE DOUBTS ABOUT MAMMOGRAMS
The routine use of mammograms had led to more than one million women receiving unnecessary treatment for breast cancer over the last three decades, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2012; 367:1998-2005). The authors concluded that nearly one-third of the women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer would never have developed the full-blown disease if left untreated. Nevertheless, in such cases patients typically undergo dangerous and invasive procedures such as surgery, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. H. Gilbert Welch, author of the study, speculated that as mammography technology has become more advanced, doctors are discovering breast lesions in such an early stage of development, it is virtually impossible to distinguish them from benign cell clusters. Even worse than the false positives is the fact that the mammograms “fail to catch forms of breast cancer that develop rapidly, explaining why the more widespread use of screenings has done so little to curb the rate at which late-stage breast cancer is found.” According to Welch, “The sad fact is that there’s a subset of women who develop such an aggressive form of cancer, it literally can’t be caught early.” No one is voicing the thought that the mammograms themselves may be causing these virulent tumors.
GMO LABELING: JUST THE BEGINNING
Starting late and working on a small budget, the organizers of Proposition 37 in California may have lost the vote, but they accomplished a great deal. The ballot initiative, which would have required labeling of GMO ingredients in food for people and pets, got the dialog going and brought awareness of GMO dangers to millions of people. Big agribusiness fought the measure with a barrage of misleading advertisements, funded by a forty-one million dollar war chest. Opponents of your right to know included Kellogg’s (owners of Kashi, Morning Star and Gardenburger brands), General Mills (owners of Cascadian Farms and Larabar brands), Ben and Jerry’s, Heinz, Dean Foods (owners of Horizon and Silk brands) and Kraft (owners of the Back to Nature brand). Many small companies helped finance the five-million-dollar pro-Prop 37 advertising campaign including Cliff, Frontier, Organic Valley, Annie’s, Applegate, Late July, Stonyfield and Earthbound Farms. The biggest donation to the effort to pass Proposition 37 came from mercola.com. Whole Foods, a company with annual sales equal to those of Monsanto (eleven billion yearly) donated a mere twenty-five thousand dollars, compared to Monsanto’s eight million to defeat the measure. Fortunately, it ain’t over yet. Organizers are already planning a ballot initiative—much more organized and better funded—for 2016. Stay tuned!
CONSERVATION OF DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
In his book Enzyme Nutrition, Edward Howell described research indicating that the body conserves and reuses digestive enzymes; orthodoxy proclaimed the recirculation of enzymes impossible, because, it was believed, the intestinal membranes were impermeable to protein molecules. It was also argued that if digestive enzymes did cross the intestinal membrane, they would cause havoc by digesting the blood and organs. In a fascinating review study, “Conservation of Digestive Enzymes” (Physiol Rev January 1, 2 002;82(1):1- 18) the authors describe research that vindicates Dr. Howell. Digestive enzymes do, in fact, cross the intestinal membrane, travel through the bloodstream and return to the pancreas. Ninety to 95 percent of our digestive enzymes are recycled in this way. They do not cause havoc in the bloodstream because the blood contains high levels of enzyme inhibitors, so that our enzymes only work when they are in the place where they are needed to work. Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and how small is the mind of man to comprehend the marvels of the human body.
VITAMIN C FOR BRAIN DEVELOPMENT
The fetus suffers when mother lacks vitamin C. Maternal vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy can result in damage to the fetal brain, damage that can’t be reversed with vitamin C intake after birth. According to a new study (PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (10):), even marginal vitamin C deficiency in the mother stunts the fetal hippocampus, an important memory center, by 10-15 percent, preventing the brain from optimal development. According to Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt, head of the study, “We used to think that the mother could protect the baby. Ordinarily there is a selective transport from mother to fetus of the substances the baby needs during pregnancy. However, it now appears that the transport is not sufficient in the case of vitamin C deficiency.” Preliminary results show that the impact occurs early in the pregnancy—yet another reason to eat a nutrient-dense diet before conception. Particularly at risk are babies born to smokers and mothers of low economic status. Conventional wisdom suggests plenty of fruits and vegetables for vitamin C, but better sources are lacto-fermented foods and raw dairy products.
CROSSING THE BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER
Many teenage girls have suffered debilitating illness or even death after the Gardasil vaccine, claimed to protect women from future cervical cancer. In a recent study, researchers examined the brain tissue of two young women (fourteen and nineteen years old), otherwise healthy, who died after their Gardasil vaccines. The researchers found that the girls not only suffered from what appears to be a fatal autoimmune reaction, but that this reaction was specifically in response to one of the strains of HPV found in the vaccines, namely HPV-16. The scientists found antibodies in the brains of the girls, where they should not be at all. In addition, they found vasculitis or inflammation in the walls of blood vessels in the brain and this inflammation appeared to be autoimmune in nature due to the presence of the HPV-16L1 antibodies binding to the blood vessel walls (Pharmaceut Reg Affairs 2012, S12:001). This means that these complexes crossed the blood-brain barrier, and then triggered the fatal autoimmune response in the brains of these two girls. Leslie Manookian, producer of the film “The Greater Good,” notes that these findings raise several important questions. If vaccine-derived complexes can cross the fully developed blood-brain barrier of teenage girls and can trigger a fatal autoimmune response and cause inflammation in the brain, can components of other vaccines enter the brain of an infant or young child whose blood-brain barrier is not yet fully developed? And if these girls developed inflammation of the brain, is this what is happening to so many kids who suffer with speech delays and learning disabilities, not to mention full blown autism? What other complexes in vaccines are crossing the blood-brain barrier, and what harm are they causing? And if HPV vaccines can cause autoimmune disease like inflammation of the brain, what other autoimmune and inflammatory diseases could they cause—such as allergies, lupus, asthma, MS and arthritis (http://www.greatergoodmovie.org/news-views/1596/)?
FEEDING THE WORLD WITHOUT CHEMICALS
Largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the USDA, a new study indicates that we can grow all the food we need, and do it profitably, with far fewer chemicals. The study was carried out on land owned by Iowa State University. Beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure served as fertilizer. The results: the longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater two hundredfold and didn’t reduce profits at all. The longer rotations had higher labor costs but remained just as profitable. This study was not about organics, but definitely points to a middle path between fully organic agriculture and chemically based methods: a third path that decreases input of chemicals and environmental burden but retains profitability. This is wonderful news! USDA’s response so far: no comment (New Your Times Opinionator, October 19, 2012).
ZINC AND AGING
A new study has outlined for the first time a biological mechanism by which zinc deficiency can develop with age. Zinc deficiency is related to a decline in immune function and increased inflammation associated with cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease, and diabetes. The research, published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, used laboratory animals to study zinc transporters, which were significantly disregulated in old animals (DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio. 2012.07.005). The animals showed signs of zinc deficiency and had enhanced inflammatory response even though their diet supposedly contained adequate zinc. When the animals were given about ten times their dietary requirement for zinc, the biomarkers of inflammation were restored to those of young animals. This study shows the longterm effects of a vegetarian diet, which tends to be low in zinc. The best dietary sources of zinc are shellfish (especially oysters), red meat and liver.
WE ALREADY KNEW THIS. . .
. . . but it’s good to get scientific validation. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have discovered that eating lots of carbs and sugar can raise the risk of cognitive impairment. People age seventy and older who eat a carb-laden diet have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. The study tracked over twelve hundred elder people over four years; those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake at the beginning of the study were 1.9 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest carb intake; participants with the highest sugar intake were 1.5 times likelier to experience mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest levels. Those whose diets were highest in fat were 42 percent less likely to face cognitive impairment. When total fat and protein intake were taken into account, people with the highest carbohydrate intake were 3.6 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment. With results like these, public health officials should be urging the elderly to cut the sugar and carbs and eat more fat and protein, but instead their recommendations were mealy mouthed. Said Rosebud Roberts, lead study author: “We think it’s important that you eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, because each of these nutrients has an important role in the body” (ScienceDaily.com, October 16, 2012).
AN ADVOCATE OF WEIGHT GAIN
Science has lost a real pioneer with the death of Dr. Reubin Andres, a gerontologist who argued that weight gain in older people increases longevity. Dr. Andres was clinical director of the National Institute on Aging when he began examining the data on weight and longevity in the late 1970s. Of particular use were weight and height data culled from insurance policyholders and compiled by the Society of Actuaries and Association of Life Insurance Directors of America. He compared the society’s weight data on those who had lived the longest with the ideal weights that the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company recommended to ensure a long life. He concluded that the recommendations were too high for the early years but too low for later years, noting that the group with the smallest percentages of deaths was 10 to 20 percent over the recommended weights. To live longer, he concluded, people should start thin and then gain about six pounds a decade beginning in their early forties. The advice went against the prevailing wisdom, which held that the most healthful way to age was to maintain the same weight throughout adulthood (New York Times, October 1, 2012).
FORMULA WARNINGS STRESSFUL
In a classic example of industry throwing its weight around, the industry-backed Infant Nutrition Council is fighting a proposal by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to put warning labels on cans of infant formula. An FSANZ consultation paper has suggested warnings that could either replace or be added to the “breast is best” statement, already mandatory on infant formula products in those countries. Risks associated with not breastfeeding include slower cognitive development, weaker immunity, and obesity. Jan Carey, chief executive of the Infant Nutrition Council slammed the proposed warnings as “scaremongering,” which would create stress and anxiety for parents. Even midwife and founder of the Holistic Baby support group, Cathy McCormick, said the warnings would distress mothers forced to use formula. “It would just make them feel bad,” said McCormick (The New Zealand Herald, September 30, 2012).