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The Guide to Eating Well & Living Better

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Pesticides in Tap Water Linked to Food Allergies – ABC News

December 3, 2012

As food allergies become increasingly common, a new study offers the first proof that they may be linked to pesticides found in tap water.

Researchers at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology used existing government data to see whether people with more dichlorophenols in their urine were more likely to have food allergies. Dichlorophenols are a kind of chlorine in certain pesticides that are known to kill bacteria, and in theory, they could be killing the naturally occurring bacteria in humans’ digestive systems, causing food allergies.

“We wanted to see if there was an association between certain pesticides and food allergies, and we were specifically interested in dichlorophenols because those were the ones that had this antibacterial effect,” said lead researcher Dr. Elina Jerschow. “When researchers have compared bacteria from the bowel in healthy kids versus bacteria in the bowel for kids that have lot of allergies, they’ve noticed a big difference.”

via Pesticides in Tap Water Linked to Food Allergies – ABC News.

Analysis Of Fish Oil Studies Finds That Omega-3 Fatty Acids Still Matter

November 28, 2012

Literally hundreds of clinical trials, including some that have gained widespread attention, have been done on the possible benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention of heart disease – producing conflicting results, varied claims, and frustrated consumers unsure what to believe.

A recent analysis done by scientists in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, has sorted through many of these competing findings, and it helps to explain why so many of the studies seem to arrive at differing conclusions.

The review concludes that both fish consumption and dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplements may still help prevent heart disease; that some fatty acids, from certain sources, are more effective than others; that these compounds may have enormous value for serious health problems other than heart disease; and that the very effectiveness of modern drug therapies for heart disease may be one explanation for the conflicting findings on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.“

After decades of studying omega-3 fatty acids, it’s clear that they have value in primary prevention of heart disease,” said Donald Jump, author of the analysis, a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute, and professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

via Analysis Of Fish Oil Studies Finds That Omega-3 Fatty Acids Still Matter.

via Analysis Of Fish Oil Studies Finds That Omega-3 Fatty Acids Still Matter.

FRANCE: French Senate approves ‘Nutella’ tax hike | San Francisco Luxury Living

November 28, 2012

The French Senate approved Wednesday the so-called Nutella amendment that would quadruple the tax on palm oil, a key ingredient in the chocolate spread, to discourage consumption of the oil rich in saturated fat. The amendment which would take the tax on palm oil from around 100 euros ($128) now to 400 euros was approved by a vote of 212 to 133 despite protests from major palm producing nations Malaysia and Ivory Coast. Socialist deputy Yves Daudigny said “palm oil is the most rich in saturated fats and its harmful effect on health has been established.”

via FRANCE: French Senate approves ‘Nutella’ tax hike | San Francisco Luxury Living.

Taxes On “Fatty Foods”, And Their Unintended Consequences – Forbes

November 28, 2012

By George Pieler & Jens Laurson

Larry Summers wants to tax ‘junk foods’ citing “overwhelming evidence” of their negative health effects. Mr. Summers should look abroad first. Denmark is abandoning its effort to engineer a slimmer people while filling government coffers: It’s the end for their fat tax on foodstuffs exceeding 2.3% saturated fat content, imposed only last year. So what went wrong?

Little that wasn’t predicted and predictable: The tax drove people to cheaper, lower quality, occasionally less fatty alternatives. And it drove Danes, quite literally, across the border to nearby Germany or Sweden to get their favorite foods. Danish television meanwhile scored high with a cooking show that extolled the virtues of butter.

But do-gooder politicians have yet to repeal any tax just because it is not working, or impeding the daily lives of citizens. The fat tax was instead fried by Danish farmers complaining of the high administrative cost of fat-tax compliance, and losing business to foreign competitors who were running away with the bacon and the kringles. A planned Danish sugar tax has, for the same reasons, been shelved for now.

Even then, no tax will just disappear: Danish politicians plan on filling the $200 million revenue gap left by the fat tax by raising the income tax. That’s richer than those tax-threatened cheeses, since the fat tax came in addition to other taxes, without offsets. Yet the new income tax hike is marketed as offsetting lost revenue! That confirms this tax scheme was never more than a tax-hike masquerading as a public health measure.

via Taxes On “Fatty Foods”, And Their Unintended Consequences – Forbes.

Is Genetically Modified Food Killing Us?

November 28, 2012

Last month, a group of Australian scientists published a warning to the citizens of the country, and of the world, who collectively gobble up some $34 billion annually of its agricultural exports. The warning concerned the safety of a new type of wheat.

As Australia’s number-one export, a $6-billion annual industry, and the most-consumed grain locally, wheat is of the utmost importance to the country. A serious safety risk from wheat — a mad wheat disease of sorts — would have disastrous effects for the country and for its customers.

Which is why the alarm bells are being rung over a new variety of wheat being ushered toward production by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) of Australia. In a sense, the crop is little different than the wide variety of modern genetically modified foods. A sequence of the plant’s genes has been turned off to change the wheat’s natural behavior a bit, to make it more commercially viable (hardier, higher yielding, slower decaying, etc.).

What’s really different this time — and what has Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury, NZ, and Associate Professor Judy Carman, a biochemist at Flinders University in Australia, holding press conferences to garner attention to the subject — is the technique employed to effectuate the genetic change. It doesn’t modify the genes of the wheat plants in question; instead, a specialized gene blocker interferes with the natural action of the genes.

The process at issue, dubbed RNA interference or RNAi for short, has been a hotbed of research activity ever since the Nobel Prize-winning 1997 research paper that described the process. It is one of a number of so-called “antisense” technologies that help suppress natural genetic expression and provide a mechanism for suppressing undesirable genetic behaviors….

The new wheat is in early-stage field trials (i.e., it’s been planted to grow somewhere, but has not yet been tested for human consumption), part of a multi-year process on its way to potential approval and not unlike the rigorous process many drugs go through. The researchers conducting this trial are using RNAi to turn down the production of glycogen. They are targeting the production of the wheat branching enzyme which, if suppressed, would result in a much lower starch level for the wheat. The result would be a grain with a lower glycemic index — i.e., healthier wheat.

via Is Genetically Modified Food Killing Us?.

GMO Labeling Fight Gains Momentum Across US

November 28, 2012

SustainableBusiness.com News

The defeat of California Prop 37, which would have required labels on food products that contain GMOs, hasn’t discouraged labeling advocates.

If anything, it has emboldened them and added momentum to the movement, which is becoming a national campaign – organizers in 30 states are now working on initiatives to require GMO labels.

California’s referendum was narrowly defeated (53-47%), even though the opposition spent more than $46 million, 10 times that of GMO labeling advocates. But it brought national attention to the issue.

In Washington state, where San Juan County passed a ban barring planting of GMOs, activists are gathering signatures to get I-522 (The People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineer Food Act) on the 2013 ballot. They need another 100,000 signatures in addition to the 230,000 they’ve already collected by December 31.

Unlike California’s measure, the Washington referendum has strong support from local farmers, ranchers and dairies – both organic and conventional. Its strong network of natural food advocates are fueling interest and another big plus is that the state’s new Governor Jay Inslee is a long-term supporter of GMO labeling and organic agriculture.

via GMO Labeling Fight Gains Momentum Across US.

Pesticides, even low levels, can lead to cancer in children, experts warn | abc7chicago.com

November 28, 2012

November 27, 2012 (WLS) —

A leading medical group is warning that a child’s exposure to even low levels of pesticides may be harmful.

The American Academy of Pediatrics identifies household insecticides, pet flea and tick products, as well as agricultural pesticides as hazards. But, for many children, diet may be the most influential source of harmful chemicals. The authors of this new report say small amounts of pesticide exposure can lead to pediatric cancers, lower cognitive functioning and behavioral problems. This report is published in the journal Pediatrics.

via Pesticides, even low levels, can lead to cancer in children, experts warn | abc7chicago.com.