Most extensive analysis ever reveals benefits of organic food

A Newcastle University meta-analysis of 343 studies — the “most extensive analysis of nutrient content” ever undertaken — has found that organically grown crops are more nutritious and less toxic than conventionally grown crops. The study, just published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that “organic crops and crop-based foods are up to 69% higher in a number of key antioxidants than conventionally-grown crops”. It also revealed “significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops”. The international team was led by Newcastle University’s Professor Carlo Leifert, and joint funding was provided by the European Framework 6 programme and the Sheepdrove Trust.

Professor Leifert commented: “This study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals”, and “the organic vs non-organic debate has rumbled on for decades now but the evidence from this study is overwhelming – that organic food is high in antioxidants and lower in toxic metals and pesticides”. 

Glyphosate herbicide risk assessment is corrupt to the core

A new report from the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) on the safety re-assessment of the herbicide Glyphosate in Europe is damning, and they are highly critical of the role of the European Food Safety Authority in the process. GM-Free Cymru has registered a complaint with the European Ombudsman, accusing the EFSA consultation of being “biased, and heavily weighted towards those who want to see glyphosate continue in use”. The Glyphosate renewal assessment report (RAR) was submitted to EFSA in January this year by EU rapporteur state Germany. It was “carried out by Monsanto and a consortium of chemical companies in Europe based almost entirely on studies from industry”. It recommended re-approval of Glyphosate with daily intake increased by 67 %. The RAR claimed that Glyphosate “poses no unacceptable risks. Glyphosate is not metabolized or accumulated in the body, not genotoxic, not carcinogenic, not endocrine disrupting, and not considered persistent or bioaccumulative; it has no reproductive toxicity, no toxic effects on hormone-producing or hormone-dependent organs, and no unacceptable effect on bees”.

ISIS asks “How did they arrive at such a preposterous conclusion when the evidence for glyphosate herbicides toxicity has accumulated worldwide to such an extent that a number of countries are already banning its use?”. ISIS concludes “The entire process of risk assessment for re-approval was flawed and corrupt to the core. It is rife with conflict of interest, non-transparent and heavily biased towards unpublished, non-peer reviewed studies from industry”. Dr Nancy Swanson and Dr Mae Wan Ho of ISIS have said that the RAR should be rejected outright.

UK doctor barred from treating fatigue or using Vitamin B12

A UK publication has reported that a general practitioner (GP) with 30 years experience, and who has won an award in recognition for his research into chronic fatigue, has been barred from using vitamin B12 to treat his patients. Dr Joseph Chandy, a GP from County Durham in the UK, was recently barred from treating the condition, and from using vitamin B12. The ruling was made by the Medical Practitioners and Tribunal Service’s interim orders panel. The report adds “a number of his patients have written to the General Medical Council (GMC) in protest at the move and have also contacted individual hospitals”. It further explains “The National Institute for Clinical and Health Care Excellence (NICE) does not recommend vitamin B12 to treat fatigue. A spokesperson for NICE said there is not enough evidence to support a recommendation to prescribe the treatment, but admitted some sufferers have reported health benefits from it”.

B12 awareness groups in the in the USA and the UK are campaigning hard to raise awareness amongst patients and doctors about the typical pattern of inadequate and late diagnosis of B12 deficiency. This unnecessary situation occurs due to poor mainstream clinical guidelines, which can cause potentially serious consequences simply because effective treatment with such an inexpensive vitamin has been delayed.

Vitamin D – an answer to DVT and cancer?

Two recently published papers have found an association between high levels of vitamin D and improved colorectal cancer (CRC) survival, and low levels of vitamin D and idiopathic deep vein thrombosis (DVT). With regards to the link with CRC, Professor Malcolm Dunlop, of the Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said “Our findings are promising but it is important to note that this is an observational study.”  The scientists now plan to set up a clinical trial. Researchers from the University of Medial Sciences in Iran have found that vitamin D may have anticoagulant properties, and therefore play a role in preventing DVT. The study showed that vitamin D levels were significantly lower in the participants with idiopathic DVT compared to the healthy participants.

Omega-3 aids wound healing and severity of osteoarthritis following joint injury

A study carried out by researchers in the US has concluded that osteoarthritis is probably more linked to diet than to body weight. The study looked at mice with osteoarthritis of the knee caused by injury to the joint, and found that mice consuming a supplement of omega 3 fatty acids were found to have healthier joints than those fed diets high in saturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids. Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, told UK news portal, the Express, “Research is increasingly confirming that omega 3 fatty acids sourced from fish oil can slow the progression of osteoarthritis in animals and that the benefits of fish oil for joint health are not simply old wives’ tales.” The study also looked at omega 3’s involvement in wound healing and found that the mice taking an omega 3 supplement healed much more quickly than those animals that did not receive the supplement.

GM mosquitoes being released with unknown results

Commercialisation of the technology for genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes that would possibly end dengue fever has been given the green light in Brazil. However, this has been granted before the results of the field trials conducted in Jacobina, Brazil have been published, and at a time when an emergency decree has been issued in the area where the mosquitos have been released “due to the abnormal situation characterized as a biological disaster of dengue epidemic.” The programme, proposed by Moscamed Brazil in partnership with the English company Oxitec and the Universidade de São Paulo, is due to roll out across the entire city over two or three years with weekly releases of 10 million GM mosquitoes for every 50 thousand inhabitants — even though the date of publication of the promised results remains unclear. A member of the Brazilian regulator Comissão Técnica Nacional de Biossegurança (CTNBio) raised concerns during the evaluation of the commercial application questioning the impact of the GM mosquitoes on the incidence of dengue and even warned that in some circumstances the releases could make the disease worse, even if the number of wild Aedes aegypti mosquitoes was reduced. This was not enough to convince the majority of the commission though.

Bury your head under the duvet?

A somewhat ‘interesting’ new study has been published in the journal of the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry claiming that smelling hydrogen sulphide (more familiarly known as the gas produced by natural bodily processes that gives flatulence its unpleasant odour) may cure diseases! This is no joke – we initially thought something didn’t smell right but we found the study and although the research involves hydrogen sulphide and doesn’t specifically mention flatulence, it seems the gas may be useful in lessening cell death and therefore offer potential health benefits in a range of issues, from diabetes to stroke, heart attacks and dementia. Researchers from the University of Exeter say that targeted delivery of a compound called AP39 causes more hydrogen sulphide to be produced by an ailing cell, and this in small doses can be protective to the cell’s mitochondria. Naturally the media have latched onto this and spoof articles are appearing, but Professors Matt Whiteman and Mark Wood are now working quite seriously towards advancing the research to a stage where it can be tested in humans.

 

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