Human rights groups rally amidst worldwide moves to force vaccines
Controversial moves in California and other US states to eliminate vaccination exemptions, and the “No Jab No Play and No Pay” policy in Australia have raised red flags among human rights and other groups. Recent articles by Christina England and Anna Watson reveal that removal of the right of vaccine choice is underway in various countries. Christina England summarised “it appears that various governments, including the US, Australia, Israel, Belgium, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Poland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria, are either in the process of introducing mandatory vaccination as part of their health policy or already have one or more vaccinations that are compulsory”. There are reports that the moves in Israel to require vaccination as a condition for child benefit have caused uproar amongst human rights groups in the country. Please sign the European Forum for Vaccine Vigilance (EFVV) petition to respect, promote and protect freedom of informed vaccination consent throughout Europe.
Meanwhile, an article has just been published in a major national UK newspaper, reporting the number of UK suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) to the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine over the last 10 years, suggesting that the true number of UK girls suffering ill effects may be in the tens of thousands. The next day similar news was published in another major UK paper.
Worldwide actions against GMOs and glyphosate
In March it was announced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group (part of the World Health Organization), that the popular herbicide glyphosate is a ‘probable carcinogen’. Since then, despite a backlash from industry groups, there appears to be increased rallying against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate. In addition to the recent worldwide March Against Monsanto protests, which included an event in Hawaii featuring anti-GMO activist and rock-artist Neil Young, other key action now underway include:
A letter from the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) to officials of the EU Parliament and Commission demanding an immediate EU-wide ban on glyphosate and the other organophosphate pesticides assessed by the IARC; A ban on the sale and use of glyphosate for non-commercial use by the Netherlands, set to begin later this year; Public protest and a resolution by German state consumer protection ministers calling for “the supply to and use by private persons to be banned for precautionary reasons”, and recommending prohibited use of glyphosate near consumers. The state ministers are also advocating an EU-wide ban on glyphosate herbicides; and an announcement by the Danish Working Environment Authority recommending a change to less toxic chemicals.
Meanwhile, Hungary is set to become the first EU member state to end the cultivation of GM crops, and their Minister of Agriculture has mounted an “Alliance for a GMO-free Europe” initiative to encourage other member states to follow suit.
Boys more susceptible to junk food advertising than girls
New data presented at the Cancer Council’s Behavioural Research in Cancer Control Conference suggests that boys eat more fast food and are more susceptible to junk food marketing than girls. The data is from the National Secondary Students’ Diet and Activity Survey, and has sparked renewed calls for limits on advertising for children. The report showed that 46% of boys regularly consumed fast food compared with 34% of girls, and 28% of boys drank sugary drinks compared with 14% of girls. Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee, Kathy Chapman, said, "A barrage of increasingly sophisticated junk food marketing is undermining teenage boys’ longer-term health, highlighting the urgent need for measures to protect them." She added, “More needs to be done at a national level to help support health groups, parents and schools counteract junk food advertising in order to improve our nation’s future health. Parents tell us encouraging healthy eating is increasingly difficult… Our kids are at risk of paying the longer-term price through reduced quality of life and even life expectancy – while the rest of the community pays through increasing health costs.”
UK Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill set for another attempt
Lord Saatchi’s private members’ bill, commonly known as the Medical Innovation Bill is scheduled to be reintroduced to the UK Parliament on the 8th June 2015. The order of introduction of private members bills, of which Lord Saatchi’s is number 28, was decided as a result of a ballot held on the evening of the State Opening of Parliament. PR guru Maurice Saatchi introduced the controversial Bill following the death of his wife, Josephine Hart, from ovarian cancer in 2011. Many hope it will boost responsible innovation by allowing doctors to deviate from ‘standard care’ as approved by the UK’s National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) without the fear of being sued for negligence. The Bill has been resisted by the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council.
New Japanese research suggests epigenetic regulation controls ageing
The mitochondrial theory of ageing has been further called into question by a Japanese team of researchers at the University of Tsukuba, led by Jun-Ichi Hayashi. In the study, published on 22nd May, the researchers were able to accelerate ageing and then restore cellular respiration and reverse ageing in human fibroblast cell lines, by switching on and off two genes which regulate the amino acid glycine in the mitochondria of the cell. The age-related effects they observed were due to epigenetic regulation. The research suggests that, “age-associated mitochondrial defects are caused not by the accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA, but by certain crucial genes being turned on and off as we get older”. A comparison between fibroblast cell lines derived from old and young humans revealed, “While the elderly group had reduced respiration, in accordance with the current theory, there was, however, no difference in the amount of DNA damage between the elderly and young groups of cells”. The researchers concluded, “Treatment of elderly fibroblasts with glycine effectively prevented the expression of these aging phenotypes”.
Novel Food Regulation faces hold ups
The development of the EU Novel Foods Regulation (NFR) has ground to a halt again. The aim of the process is to develop a new centralised legislative procedure for novel food approvals, but it is struggling to gain acceptance from all European Member State governments. The hold-ups centre around unwillingness by the latter to allow the European Parliament a ‘right to veto’ authorised novel foods and future authorisations. Member States want authorisations to be “left to experts” and written into law through implementing acts, whilst members of the European Parliament want to “safeguard Parliament’s right to scrutinise the EU list of novel foods”. Earlier this month MEPs made a ‘final offer’ on proposed novel food regulations – and warned that they would not compromise any further. Backlogs in approvals are now occurring, as Member States have scaled back in anticipation of centralised authorisation.