From Free Software to the Free Drugs Movement - NewsGrabs 24 February 2008
Health Supreme's NewsGrabs - a selection of contrary and underprivileged news in health and (mostly) related sectors. Find what you may have missed - watch out for my NewsGrabs.
Here is this week's selection:
Book: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
Humans used to know how to eat well, Pollan argues. But the balanced dietary lessons that were once passed down through generations have been confused, complicated, and distorted by food industry marketers, nutritional scientists, and journalists - all of whom have much to gain from our dietary confusion. As a result, we face today a complex culinary landscape dense with bad advice and foods that are not "real." These "edible foodlike substances" are often packaged with labels bearing health claims that are typically false or misleading. Indeed, real food is fast disappearing from the marketplace, to be replaced by "nutrients," and plain old eating by an obsession with nutrition that is, paradoxically, ruining our health, not to mention our meals.
People missing five-a-day target
Many people still do not manage to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but they now have more than before, a survey suggests.
The Food Standards Agency survey suggests diets are slowly improving but people from poorer backgrounds struggle to achieve the five-a-day target. The survey found 58% of 2,627 people surveyed last year had eaten at least five portions the day beforehand.Yet here we have the European Commission getting ready to slam on the brakes on what they consider "excessive doses" of nutrients in food supplements. Go figure.
Vitamin deficiency may cause modern ills
A chronic shortage of vitamins and other "micronutrients" in the diet may be responsible for triggering many of the ills of modern life such as cancer, obesity and the degenerative diseases of ageing.
U.K. Government Moves to Hide GM Crop Trials From Public
Genetically modified crops may be grown in hidden locations in Britain amid fears that anti-GM campaigners are winning the battle over the controversial technology.
Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed they are looking at a range of options to clamp down on vandalism to GM crop trials, after intense lobbying by big crop biotech companies. The firms have warned that trials of GM crops are becoming too expensive to conduct in Britain because of the additional costs of protecting fields from activists.Hmmmm - government by the people ... for the people. They're not even pretending any more, it seems.
BASF's Genetically Engineered "Frankenpotato' Faces Strong Opposition in EU
The potato contains an antibiotic resistance marker gene (ARMG)(1) known as nptII, which conveys resistance to antibiotics and which should already have been phased out under EU law since 2004(2). Despite this and despite a number of legal concerns, the European Food Safety Authority gave a positive opinion on the BASF potato, paving the way for Monday's vote.
"This potato is blighted by too many inconsistencies for the Council to legally approve it. The EFSA opinion upon which the Commission proposal is based contradicts the scientific opinions of other international institutions and also EFSA's own previous opinions on the same issue. Therefore, the Commission proposal is unlawful," said Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU GMO policy director.
Monsanto Continues Battle to Deny Consumers' Right to Know Whether Their Milk is Tainted by Growth Hormone
ALL these efforts are attempting to take away the consumers' right to know what's in their foods and how they're produced. I'm not going to sugar-coat this. Although we've enjoyed a remarkable level of success in fighting Monsanto's attempts, this is one of the most serious challenges we've ever faced. This is nothing short of censorship, suppressing the freedom of speech of dairies and farmers and their ability to simply tell the truth on their labels.
Germany to Introduce Non-GMO Labels on Foods
"The new labeling will give consumers the choice to buy dairy products from animals that have not been fed with genetically modified plants," said Gerd Billen from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations in Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
Some oppose the new label because food containing GM ingredients such as additives, vitamins, and amino acids can also be labeled non-GM. They say such labeling is misleading.
WiFi and EM Radiation - The Rest of the Autism Story
Carlo developed a theory that low frequency cell phone signals are harmful to cell function. This results in cells protecting themselves by stopping movement of nutrients and waste products through the cellular membrane. Inability to move wastes outside cells results in a buildup of toxins. This led him to suspect a connection with the enormous increase in autism. His hypothesis suggests that autistic children are less able to process heavy metals, so they remain in their bodies (primarily the brain) and cause neurological damage, including autism.
Hawaii Reporter: Aspartame Bill: Lobbyists closing in for the kill
"Consumer Protection efforts to ban Aspartame/Methanol/Formaldehyde as an artificial sweetener in Hawaii have run into curious tactics by lobbyists compounded by indifference and inertia on the part of the key legislators," says Stephen Fox, the promoter of a previous effort to ban the controversial sweetener in New Mexico.
Hawaii Ban Aspartame Bill Ends in Political Paralysis
Paralysis is one of the 92 disabilities the Food & Drug Administration named in their 1995 list of aspartame reactions (PDF) which they now deny ever existed. FDA derived these from over 10,000 complaints volunteered by American consumers; more than those reported to FDA for any other additive. FDA slammed the complaint window shut in 1996 and have ignored all testimony and research, including over 100 damning scientific peer reviewed studies on the devastating consequences of consuming aspartame. Seizures, sexual dysfunction, birth defects, blindness, paranoia, diabetes, migraines, obesity, and its a multi-potential carcinogen concluded an award winning 3-year study on 1,800 rats by Dr. M. Soffritti of the Ramazzini Institute. The 2005 study was peer reviewed by 7 world experts. His second study showed it only takes a small amount to cause cancer and if pregnant women use it and their baby survives, the offspring can get cancer.
Update: Hearing on aspartame bill scheduled for Monday 25 February
THIS AFTERNOON, Thursday, I am happy to report that Sen. David Ige, Majority Floor Leader and Chairman Hawaii Senate Health Committee, came to realize the merit in scheduling a hearing for Senate Bill 2506, to ban aspartame in Hawaii. This was against all odds, because Rep. Josh Green, M.D., Chairman of the House Health Committee, "deferred" hearing the bill, thus killing the House Bill, carried by Rep. Mele Carroll.
Anyone interested in testifying about experience they had with aspartame, please contact
Managing Editor, Santa Fe Sun News
Excess in the pharmaceutical industry
Although the pharmaceutical industry claims to be a high-risk business, year after year drug companies enjoy higher profits than any other industry. In 2002, for example, the top 10 drug companies in the United States had a median profit margin of 17%, compared with only 3.1% for all the other industries on the Fortune 500 list.
Excess profits are, of course, the result of excess prices — and prices are excessive principally in the United States, the only advanced country that does not limit pharmaceutical price increases in some way.
Drug Wholesale Prices Rose 7.82 Percent In ‘07
Drugmakers increased wholesale prices for the 50 top-selling branded drugs by an average of 7.82 percent last year, after increases of 6.73 percent and 6.22 percent in the previous two years, according to Delta Marketing Dynamics. The most recent increase is almost double the overall US economy’s 4.1 percent annual inflation rate last year, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Some individual drugs had double-digit price increases over three years. Glaxo, for instance, raised the price of its Wellbutrin XL antidepressant by 44.5 percent from 2005 to 2007. Sanofi-Aventis boosted the price of its Ambien sleeping pill by 70.1 percent. Shire hiked the price of its Adderall XR ADD drug by 33.5 percent. And Pfizer increased Lipitor’s price by 16 percent.Can you say price gouging? I knew you could.
Pharma Spent $22M To Lobby Washington In ‘07
The industry trade group, that is. And that amounts to a 25 percent increase from the previous year. But while proposals aimed at lowering drug prices and restricting industry advertising fell by the wayside in Congress, lobbying experts say the road ahead for the industry looks increasingly bumpy.
Big Pharma Money Spent on Marketing Exceeds Drug Development Costs
There is quite a bit of difference between the money spent on R&D and marketing. If we exclude direct-to-consumer marketing, of the U.S. $57.5 billion, CAM estimates that 80% of this money is spent on physicians. This means that, with 700,000 practicing physicians in the U.S., the pharmaceutical industry spent nearly U.S. $61,000 in promotion per physician! It is interesting to note that according to the U.S. census the real median household income (2003) was $43,318.
FDA Proposes Lack-of-Evidence Based Medicine Policy
The Food and Drug Administration today proposed giving drug industry detailers the right to hand physicians reprints of journal articles touting the off-label use of prescription drugs. The proposed guidance was immediately blasted by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, who called it "terrible for the public health. It caters to the industry’s desire to market their products without adequate testing or review."
SCIENCE-US: Top Scientists Want Research Free From Politics
"The next president and Congress must cultivate an environment where reliable scientific advice flows freely," said Susan Wood, a former director of women's research at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Wood resigned her post in 2005 in protest over the FDA’s delay in getting emergency, over-the-counter birth control onto the market.
"Serious consequences can result when drug safety decisions are not based on the best available scientific advice from staff scientists and experts," she said.One might add that drug safety decisions should also be free from overriding financial interests of the companies that have a great interest in maintaining an extremely lucrative bottom line...
Drug company Pfizer attacks integrity of journal review process
The drug company Pfizer is being sued in various jurisdictions on product liability grounds. Plaintiffs are claiming that its products Celebrex and Bextra cause cardiovascular and other injuries. Pfizer asserts that in some cases plaintiffs are making use of published papers from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). So it wants to dig though the confidential reviews of those papers in search of something to strengthen its defense. The company served NEJM with a series of subpoenas to which the journal replied, claiming several privileges in support of its refusal to comply.
From free software to the free drugs movement
Like people who decide to share online, they choose to do so, because they can, because nothing, no one, stands in their way. The production of drugs could follow the example of Free Software, be created in a more collaborative way, publishing recipes and allowing it to be freely produced, by anyone, for any purpose.
... in Europe, the vast majority of drug research money already comes from taxes. Hence, a Free Software model for generic drugs might not be such a remote proposal. Instead of pushing through a neo-liberal constitution, Europe could, and should do the opposite act, create an institutional Free Drugs scientific movement, based on the Free Software hackers model, following the logic of Copyleft , patented for free production and reuse of all documentation, as a gift of its citizens to the world.Interesting thought ... I mean, it is of course completely preposterous that drug production and the research to discover new remedies for what ails our bodies could be "free" - or is it?
India: 'Open source drug discovery will lower costs'
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) links 37 constituent laboratories with diverse research portfolios as varied as drug discovery to oceanography. It is a part of the Global Research Alliance (GRA) — a nine-member alliance of knowledge-intensive technology organisations from around the world — that explores ways of exploiting their cumulative knowledge and expertise for the larger good in the context of globalisation. The latest initiative of CSIR has been the launch of an Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) Programme aimed at providing affordable health to all, especially to the underprivileged.
Open Source Pharma
How likely is it that pharmaceutical companies would go open source?
Scientist fears statins link to Parkinson's
About 2.7 million people in England take statins such as pravastatin, atorvastatin and simvastatin, to reduce their risks of heart attacks and strokes. The drugs work by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or so called "bad cholesterol". But American researchers have found that patients with low levels of LDL are more than three times more likely to have Parkinson's than those with high levels. Dr Xue Mei Huang, an assistant professor of neurology at the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine, was "very concerned" by her study's findings and plans a 16,000-patient survey to examine the possible role of statins.
Anti-smoking drug is linked to 37 suicides
The FDA began investigating Champix in November after a number of patients reported possible side-effects ranging from depression and agitation to headaches and nausea. On top of the 37 suicides, it has recorded more than 400 cases of suicidal behaviour.
Manufacturer Pfizer has insisted a direct link between Champix and psychiatric problems has not been officially established and that nicotine withdrawal can lead to mood swings and behavioural changes. But the FDA said it had found evidence that people taking Champix developed problems even if they were still smoking.
French Pharma Companies Investigated for Manslaughter Relating to Anti-Hepatitis B Vaccine
A formal investigation has been launched by French authorities against two managers from drug companies GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur. A second investigation for manslaughter has also been opened against Sanofi Pasteur MSD. The investigations are in response to allegations that the companies failed to fully disclose side effects from an anti-hepatitis B drug used between 1994 and 1998.
During this time, close to two-thirds of the French population, and almost all newborn babies, received a hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccination campaign was halted after concerns rose over the shot’s side effects.
Private Study Links Vaccinations to Neurological Disorders
More dramatic, though, is a virtual smoking gun - a study showing a clear connection between neurological disorders and vaccinations. The results are dramatic, showing that more than twice the number of vaccinated children had autism than those who had not been vaccinated. Worse, the rates of vaccinated children with other neurological problems are even higher.
Researcher: FDA Was Too Slow On Trasylol
A renowned researcher calculates that 22,000 patients could have been saved if the Food and Drug Administration removed the heart surgery drug Trasylol two years ago, when his study revealed widespread death associated with it. The researcher, Dr. Dennis Mangano, also tells 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley that Bayer, the drug's maker, failed to tell the FDA about negative results of their own Trasylol study and that the company's failure placed the drug's success before patient well-being.
Bayer, one drug, 1,000 deaths per month
CBS-60 Minutes expose (Feb. 17) of the marketing of a lethal drug (Trasylol) underscored the need for Congressional action. The evidence presented clearly showed that the FDA fails to protect the public health: "A renowned researcher estimates that 22,000 patients could have been saved if the Food and Drug Administration removed the heart surgery drug Trasylol two years ago."
Northern Illinois Shooting: Anti-Depressants And Violence
"I couldn't agree with Sara more - these incidents and the histories of the perps need to be closely examined. We've simply had too many of these shootings and random violent acts where anti-depressants are connected to not do a thorough look-see. I congratulate Bostock and the others at ssristories.com for keeping this issue alive. I think that this whole question really ought to be looked into by the Institute of Medicine."
"Do we as a society have the right or even the need to force folks like that to take medications that do nothing for them, that don't stop their hallucinations and such, that rip their bodies and minds apart, just because we think they ought to work? If someone has a track record of violence, maybe. But absent that, I'd say we have little interest in it as a society. We ought to have a lot of interest in trying other solutions with these folks. I stress the "trying" piece of that."
Illinois Shooter was Treated with Psych Meds Prior to Shooting Rampage
It comes as no surprise to anyone who's been following school shootings all the way back to the Colombine High massacre in Colorado: Every young, male shooter that has gone on a killing spree in the United States also has a history of treatment with psychotropic drugs -- typically SSRI antidepressants. These shootings have three things in common: 1) The shooters are young males. 2) The shooters exhibit a mind-numbed disconnect with reality. 3) The shooters have a history of taking psychiatric medications.
SSRI Side-Effects: Violence and Suicide
Two articles in today's New York Times, "Reports of Gunman's Use of Antidepressant Renew Debate Over Side Effects," and "Midlife Suicide Rises Nearly 20%, Puzzle Researchers," represent a watershed for the Times. Implicit in these reports are two evidence-based acknowledgments. Antidepressants, which had been touted as an effective treatment in reducing suicides, have been proven to increase the risk of suicide. What's more these drugs have been implicated in deadly violence.
Zyprexa Lawsuits: Tarnished View of Wonder Drugs
When they were first introduced in the early 1990s, new anti-psychotic medications for severe mental illness were seen as wonder drugs that were safer and more effective than their predecessors. Sales soared as doctors tried them on new conditions, including dementia, aggression and other behavioral problems. Children and the elderly were among the biggest users. But now, several studies questioning some of the drugs' benefits have led many doctors to talk of using them for shorter periods and with tighter monitoring, because of side effects that include sedation, obesity and diabetes.
Do Statins Make You Stupid?
The Wall Street Journal highlights one interesting example:
A San Diego woman, Jane Brunzie, was so forgetful that her daughter was investigating Alzheimer’s care for her and refused to let her babysit for her 9-year-old granddaughter. Then the mother stopped taking a statin. “Literally, within eight days, I was back to normal — it was that dramatic,” says Mrs. Brunzie, 69 years old.
Doctors put her on different statins three more times. “They’d say, ‘Here, try these samples.’ Doctors don’t want to give up on it,” she says. “Within a few days of starting another one, I’d start losing my words again,” says Mrs. Brunzie.
UK: Side-effects 'should be reported'
A campaign has been launched in the UK, to get members of the public to report any side-effects they experience after taking medicines.
While drugs are heavily tested prior to release, some "adverse effects" may not be spotted, or the medicine may interact with other drugs or even foods in an unexpected way.I wonder what would happen if people started reporting side effects of such things as the sweetener Aspartame. Would they filter up through the system or be stopped by some twist such as "well, that can't be ... everybody knows that Aspartame is safe".
FDA ties pneumonia deaths to infant vaccine
GlaxoSmithKline Plc's rotavirus vaccine is associated with increased pneumonia-related deaths and other adverse reactions, U.S. regulatory staff said in documents posted on Friday. FDA staff said its analysis of 11 studies revealed that in the largest trial, there was a statistically significant increase in deaths related to pneumonia compared with placebo.
Pregnant women's rights disregarded: New Jersey compulsory "HIV" tests
Despite the fact that only two infants tested positive in 2006 in New Jersey, and none in 2007, the State opted to blast personal liberty and violate civil rights with a law that is both unncessary and cruel. Women who are pregnant have a high "false positive" rate, and when specificity and accuracy are evaluated in the general population, all HIV tests are of questionable value.
Video: African Holocaust - Killing with kindness
Is there really an AIDS epidemic in Africa? Or is the cause of Africa's very real health crisis something ... else? Do we help Africa by sending them container loads of anti-AIDS "medicine?" (16 minute video)
WHAT REALLY CAUSED AIDS: SLICING THROUGH THE GORDIAN KNOT
After my book was published, I learned a great deal more from people who got in touch with me, and yet more after I began writing this blog. The most striking discussion that was new to me, something that gave me a “Eureka” moment, came from Tony Lance, whose explanations offer satisfactory answers to all four of those central questions. What we now know as “AIDS” had been described at first as “GRID”: Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. It turns out that it should have been named Gay-Related Intestinal Dysbiosis...
AIDS AS INTESTINAL DYSBIOSIS
Dissenters from orthodox HIV/AIDS theory differ among themselves over what really caused AIDS. John Scythes, for example, believes that undiagnosed syphilis played and perhaps continues to play a significant role. But Scythes doesn’t claim to have all the answers, and he was an outstandingly objective and helpful reader of drafts of my book. He has met a number of people in various parts of the world who are involved in HIV/AIDS in one way or another, and recently he mentioned to me Dr. Juliane Sacher in Germany as someone who has successfully treated “AIDS” patients without resort to antiretrovirals. I asked Dr. Sacher for published accounts of her work, and she sent me 3 articles published in 2006 in the German periodical Raum & Zeit (141: 34-38: AIDS—Chronology of the mistakes; 142: 18-23: II. AIDS—The virus that doesn’t exist; III. 143: 60-62: “AIDS”—How alternative therapies can help [titles translated by Henry Bauer]). It turns out that Dr. Sacher’s practical clinical experience with AIDS patients and with HIV-positive people affords convincing support for Tony Lance’s hypothesis of intestinal dysbiosis.
Sacher’s “alternative” approach to treatment of AIDS patients is informed by the views of Dr. Heinrich Kremer; his 2005 book, “Die stille Revolution von Krebs- und AIDS-Medizin” (The quiet revolution in cancer and AIDS medicine), Ehlers Verlag, Wolfratshausen, is to appear in English translation in the near future. The key is recognition that glutathione is a most important antioxidant which also regulates the Th1/Th2 balance: deficiency of glutathione shifts the balance in the direction of Th2. HIV-positive patients invariably have a glutathione deficiency, and their health improves when this is rectified. In addition, Dr. Sacher monitors carefully and corrects deficiencies in vitamins and minerals; she encourages a healthy lifestyle—exercise, minimizing stress—and uses a number of dietary supplements as indicated in individual cases.
Transparency censored - Swiss bank attempt to shut down WikiLeaks
On Monday [Stephen Soldz] wrote about the unprecedented attempt by Bank Julius Baer to censor the Wikileaks.org web site by having a San Francisco judge issue a restraining order telling the web site’s domain name registrar to stop Wikileak.org from pointing to its actual IP address, 184.108.40.206. This was the first known instance of a court shutting down an entire web site. One Kafkaesque feature of this omnibus order is that the court order and other materials were ordered to be emailed to Wikileaks. But with the domain name Wikileaks.org abolished, no mail sent to them could get to anyone.
Wikileaks has made a discovery potentially shedding light upon the bank’s motives in the case. Bank Julius Baer was about to launch a $1 billion IPO, and that the press attention and increased regulatory scrutiny flowing from it may well scuttle this deal. After all, it’s hard to launch an IPO when there are suggestions in the press and the blogosphere that your profts may be due to money laundering. It may turn out that this restraining order was an act of self destruction by Bank Julius Baer with few parallels.
Meanwhile, the struggle against this censorship and prior restraint has suddenly become a central front in the battle to preserve freedom of speech for those without the millions to pay for it. We should all stand prepared to assist in any ways requested.
And remember that, while Wikileaks.org no longer points to it, Wikileaks still exists. Just paste its IP address, http://220.127.116.11
into your web browser, or go to this link, which will connect you to one of numerous WikiLeaks mirror sites. Let the leaks continue!
Pirate Bay team helps Wikileaks
Two founders of The Pirate Bay are lending their secure web hosting skills to Wikileaks, a controversial website dedicated to publishing confidential information on the internet.
The lawsuit filed by Cayman Islands-based Julius Baer Bank and Trust requesting the domain name be shut down came after Wikileaks published documents which the site says "allegedly reveal secret Julius Baer trust structures used for asset hiding, money laundering and tax evasion."
PRQ's Svartholm felt the ruling had little significance in practice, saying that file sharing sites and other tactics employed by supporters of Wikileaks make it impossible to shut down the site.
Private Race to the Moon Takes Off
Google and X PRIZE officials unveiled nine new privately funded teams today that will compete for $30 million in the Google Lunar X PRIZE challenge, a race to the moon.
"It's not just a new mission," said Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, during the announcement here at Google's headquarters. "It's a new way of doing business." The new teams join the Isle of Man-based Odyssey Moon team that was the first group to take up the challenge.
Space Arms Race Heats Up Overnight
The U.S. Navy's successful missile hit and apparent destruction of a defunct spy satellite represents a major step forward in the space arms race in the eyes of some analysts. Others are not so sure.
"It was an unfortunate choice by the United States that seems to have been unnecessary. The fact is that satellites fall from space all the time and the risk of it was fairly minimal," said Stephen Young, the senior analyst in Washington, D.C., for the Union of Concerned Scientist's Global Security Program. "But the implications of the satellite shootdown could be very severe. We're talking about a potential arms race in space."
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More information out there...
There is much I cannot cover but other sources for this kind of information exist and are active.
The Alternative Medicine Yahoo Group is a place where you can discuss and exchange information on what is happening in the world of natural health.
For the influence of electromagnetic waves from radio, mobile phones and other radio emitting devices, check out the emfrefugee group on Yahoo.
If you are interested in a different take on the news that isn't health centered but is certainly fun, check out Robin Good TV News.
Some more sites to keep up to date with the other side of world affairs, the stuff you won't necessarily find on your tv or in the papers:
... and remember:
"The individual is supreme and finds its way through intuition."
posted by Sepp Hasslberger on Sunday February 24 2008
updated on Thursday December 16 2010
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