TTIP trade talks: too late for transparency

The Council of the European Union, has declassified the document "Directives for the negotiation on the Translatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the European Union and the United States of America", as adopted at the Foreign affairs Council (Trade) on 14 June 2014. Commonly known as the TTIP trade agreement, the controversial document was leaked online some time ago. The document outlines the basis of trade talks between the US and the EU, negotiations for which have been taking place in secret since July 2013. The move by the Council follows criticism about the lack of transparency, but after 7 rounds of talks so far, there’s no knowing what agreements have since been formed and shaped. The objective of the agreement is to "increase trade and investment between the EU and the US". However, there are huge concerns about talk of "increased market access", "greater regulatory compatibility", "global standards", "convergence in regulatory approaches and requirements", and "enhanced mutual access to public procurement markets at all administrative levels and in the fields of public utilities".

A European Day of Action last weekend saw protests against the TTIP taking place in various cities all over Europe.

US nationwide protest by Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines

Thousands of nurses across the USA are planning a mass protest on November 1st, against mandatory vaccines in the workplace. The group call themselves Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines (NAMV), and members from 50 states will be “marching and demonstrating peacefully in their home towns to protest firings, forced vaccination, loss of income, loss of privacy, etc. and informing private citizens of the truth about flu vaccines, and the truth about the 90% rule. Members are made up of nurses, doctors and healthcare workers. NAMV “is not anti-vaccine, but pro-choice when it comes to vaccination”. The group was founded by Amelia Kenyon MSN RN, “who became alarmed when mandatory vaccination policies were being introduced into workplaces, and there seemed to be no rhyme or reason”.

Indian babies die after measles innoculation

It was reported recently in the Indian press that 3 babies have died and a number of other children were taken ill after they received measles vaccinations. The incident is said to have taken place in Muttaur village. The district magistrate, Rakesh Kumar, is reported to have said that 22 children were inoculated with the measles vaccine, and later that same evening, some of the children had become ill and were admitted to hospital, where 2 of them later died. Locals have claimed that a third baby also died after receiving the vaccine. Kumar is also reported to have said "It would be known whether the cause of death was vaccine or any illness only after receiving the post mortem report", and that others taken ill were undergoing treatment at the district hospital.

Huge step forward to ending water fluoridation in Ireland

A further "huge political step" has been achieved at a Dublin City Council (DCC) meeting, for those campaigning to end water fluoridation in Ireland: A tabled motion calling for "the immediate cessation of water fluoridation in Ireland was debated and passed". DCC is the country’s largest council. It has "adopted an anti fluoride position and further, will be calling on the Government to end Ireland’s mandatory water fluoridation policy with immediate effect". Laois and Cork County Councils achieved similar results earlier this year, adding to the political strain on the Irish government to end the hugely controversial practice.

Water fluoridation in Israel was halted at the end of August this year, after 70% of the country was fluoridated for approximately 45 years. Water fluoridation is still widespread in the USA, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia, and is added in other countries too, despite strong anti-fluoridation public sentiment.

US restaurants reduce calories in meals

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has found that US restaurant chains are reducing the amounts of calories in their meals and drinks. The data looked at outlets such as McDonalds and Subway and found declines of between 8 and 20% of calories delivered by new menu items between 2012 and 2013. Lead author, Sara N. Bleich PhD, said in a press release "If the average number of calories consumed at each visit was reduced by approximately 60 calories — the average decline we observed in newly introduced menus in our study — the impact on obesity could be significant." Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, commented positively on the move saying, “The whole obesity epidemic is probably explained by an extra 100 to 150 calories per person per day, so helping people cut 60 calories from their diet could make a big difference in the public’s health”. Imagine if the cuts were double that with increased physical activity?

Healthy lifestyle reduces stroke risk

A study published in Neurology has shown that a low-risk lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke. The study had 31,696 Swedish women fill out a questionnaire about their diet and lifestyle, and then looked at five factors making up a healthy lifestyle: healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, physically active and healthy body mass index (BMI).  The results showed that the risk of stroke, in particular cerebral infarction, decreased steadily with increasing number of low-risk lifestyle factors. Susanna C. Larsson from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, told Khaleej Times “Because the consequences of stroke are usually devastating and irreversible, prevention is of great importance. These results are exciting because they indicate that a healthy diet and lifestyle can substantially reduce the risk of stroke, and these are lifestyle choices that people can make or improve.”

Does history of safe use mean food is safe?

European Commission official, Chantal Bruetschy, spoke out at a European Parliament workshop saying that the new novel food proposal will not see the market flooded with unsafe foods. She pointed out the aim was to make access to the European market easier for food products with a history of safe consumption in their home country. There is concern that it may encourage a flood of GM products from the US, and low quality or unsafe products from markets like China. Bruetschy dismissed these fears and others questioning that history shouldn’t necessarily equate with safety saying, “Imagine if we went to China and they demanded a risk assessment on bread, which we have been eating almost every day all this time.” She believes that the idea of a history of regular safe consumption is the key to the proposal and ensuring consumer safety.

 

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