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Yep. What kids eat matters.

Kid eating healthy

A new study in Environmental Health Perspectives confirms that when children eat organic, the levels of pesticides in their bodies — including the brain-harming variety — go down. This seems a common-sense conclusion for many of us, but the more science we have to document the case, the better.

Join the Pesticide Action Network

As we’ve discussed earlier in GroundTruth blogs, residues found on food are an important source of pesticide exposure for children. Earlier, smaller scale studies have also shown that switching to an organic diet reduces pesticide breakdown products in children’s bodies.

This new study, conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley, compares a larger group of children of similar ages and socio-economic backgrounds in rural and urban California cities — Salinas and Oakland — and the results confirm food as a source of kids’ pesticide exposure. Given what’s known about the impacts oflow-level exposures to these chemicals, it also confirms the importance of doing something about it.

Toward healthier school food

Throughout the month of October, parents, teachers, farmers and “healthy school food” advocates are celebrating National Farm to School Month. This week is National School Lunch Week as well, and as we mark the exciting progress in these areas, it’s important to keep these pesticide studies in mind. If we’re serious about supporting the good health of children — it’s also National Children’s Health Month, after all — we must remember that pesticides have been linked to brain harm, autism, developmental delays and childhood cancers, among other health impacts.

And these child-harming chemicals are commonly applied to fruits and vegetables across the country.

Fruits and vegetables are of course core sources of nutrition for our children, and while we always wholeheartedly encourage eating fresh fruits and veggies, these studies underscore that the healthiest version for our kids will be organic or as close to pesticide-free as possible.

School lunches are a great place to start making this change, and it doesn’t need to break the bank. Just look at this example fromConscious Kitchen, an organization that converted the school lunch program in one school district in northern California to one that serves “Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal” and GMO-free food every meal at their school cafeterias. They produce meals from scratch at the schools throughout the district at an affordable average cost of $0.70 per meal for breakfast and $1.73 per meal for lunch.

Celebrating progress

National initiatives like Farm to School offer a proverbial win-win, helping to bring nutritious food to schools while supporting local farmers. Some of the Farm to School partnerships support organic farmers, putting their fresh, pesticide-free produce on cafeteria trays. We’re hoping that over time, this growing movement will focus even more on ensuring healthy, local, organic or pesticide-free foods are being served in schools across the country.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, several Minnesota and Wisconsin schools have already moved towards healthy and organic lunches, including extensive salad bars and as much organic food as possible. And initiatives, like those led by the Chef Ann Foundation, have helped to move thinking about school lunches towards healthier, more diverse menu options. In some school districts, like Berkeley, California, not only is pesticide-free food served whenever possible, but children are also encouraged to grow their own healthy produce in organic gardens.

There’s a lot of good work happening out there — it’s exciting! But as parents, we do need to roll up our sleeves and pressure our school districts to provide safer, pesticide-free school food for our children. Hopefully by the time next year’s National School Lunch Week rolls around we’ll have even more success stories to share!

Medha Chandra is PAN’s Campaign Coordinator. Her work focuses on pesticide impacts on maternal and children’s health as well as international pesticide campaigns. She works closely with network members from other PAN regional centers around the world. Follow @ChandraMedha

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Amy’s Organics Opens Their First Fast Food Restaurant – Support Non-GMO, Non-Chemical Dependent Foods!

The crowds have been non-stop during the first week of business at a California fast food restaurant, with a twist. It’s a drive-through that is actually good for you.

It is the nation’s first organic drive-through restaurant. It has only been open five days and already it is struggling to keep up with demand.

Hungry customers at the new Amy’s drive thru were patient and determined to order lunch. The wait is really long. Some said they heard the wait was 20 minutes long.

The line inside the restaurant was almost out the door, all for a chance to try organic, vegetarian fast food.

Kelsea Baraga is trying a veggie Amy burger and brought her mom along to try it too.

“Processed foods definitely are big on my mind. My daughter keeps bugging me about going vegetarian,” customer Amy Braga said.

You won’t find burgers or fried chicken on the menu, but you will see healthier options such as vegan Mac ‘N’ Cheese and gluten free pizza.

“The actual demand has been a bit overwhelming,” Paul Schiefer from Amy’s Restaurant said.

Schiefer says the local company, which has been making frozen organic foods for years, never dreamed the restaurant would be such a hit.

“So many people have shown up and it’s giving us a lot of hope that this is a concept that works,” Schiefer said.

Carolyn and James Wasielewski came from Petaluma to check it out.

Carolyn said they came to “celebrate good food and be healthy.”

James is still skeptical. He had the vegetarian burrito and said, “It could be better, but it’s edible.”

The food is sustainably grown, including the roof. Employees are paid a living wage with health benefits.

If business stays like this Amy’s plans to open other drive-through across the Bay Area.

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Pineapples That Claim to Fight Cancer? New GMO Approvals May Allow Health Claims. But Nothing’s Been Proven, So Why Would GM Foods Get To Make Claims That Organic Foods Are Denied?

Wait, Organic food growers, growing heirlooms or hybrids, cannot claim health benefits or the FDA comes after them, even though humans have been benefiting from them for thousands of years…. BUT GMOS, foreign proteins injected into DNA via a bacteria or virus, are touting health benefits and they have never been tested on humans? That’s just wrong.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — With recent government approval of potatoes that don’t bruise and apples that don’t brown, a new generation of genetically modified foods is headed to grocery shelves.

What could be next? Cancer-fighting pink pineapples, heart-healthy purple tomatoes and less fatty vegetable oils, among other products, could receive government approval in the coming years.

The companies and scientists that have created these foods are hoping that customers will be attracted to the health benefits and convenience and overlook any concerns about genetic engineering.

“I think once people see more of the benefits they will become more accepting of the technology,” says Michael Firko, who oversees the Agriculture Department’s regulation of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Critics aren’t so sure. They say there should be more thorough regulation of modified foods, which are grown from seeds engineered in labs. The Agriculture Department has the authority only to oversee plant health relative to GMOs, and seeking Food and Drug Administration’s safety approval is generally voluntary.

“Many of these things can be done through traditional breeding,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman of the advocacy group Center for Food Safety. “There needs to be skepticism.”

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A small British company is planning to apply for U.S. permission to produce and sell purple tomatoes that have high levels of anthocyanins, compounds found in blueberries that some studies show lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. (Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Davis, The John Innes Centre, UK)

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. has engineered a pink pineapple that includes lycopene, an antioxidant compound that gives tomatoes their red color and may have a role in preventing cancer. USDA has approved importation of the pineapple, which would be grown only outside of the United States; it is pending FDA approval. Some gardeners already grow conventional purple tomatoes, but a small British company is planning to apply for U.S. permission to produce and sell a new genetically modified variety that have high levels of anthocyanins, compounds found in blueberries that some studies show lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. FDA would have to approve any health claims used to sell the products.

Seed giants Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences are separately developing modified soybean, canola and sunflower oils with fewer saturated fats and more Omega-3 fatty acids. The Florida citrus company Southern Gardens is using a spinach gene to develop genetically engineered orange trees that could potentially resist citrus greening disease, which is devastating the Florida orange crop. Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., the company that created the nonbrowning apples, is also looking at genetically engineering peaches, cherries and pears to resist disease and improve quality.

A few genetically engineered fruits and vegetables are already available in grocery stores: Hawaiian papaya, some zucchini and squash and a small amount of the sweet corn we eat, for example. But the bulk of the nation’s genetically engineered crops are corn and soybeans that are eaten by livestock or made into popular processed food ingredients like corn starch, soybean oil or high fructose corn syrup.

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The FDA says genetically modified, bruise-resistant apples and potatoes are safe to eat. (AP)

The engineered corn and soybeans have faced resistance from environmental groups and some consumers who say not enough is known about the technology. The FDA has said engineered foods on the market now are safe, but the groups have called for the labeling so consumers know what they are eating. According to a December Associated Press-GfK poll, two-thirds of Americans favor those labels.

Facing that concern, companies developing the new products say their strategy for winning over consumers is to harness the increased interest in healthy eating.

“This is a new wave of crops that have both grower benefits and consumer benefits,” says Doug Cole of J.R. Simplot, the company that developed the potatoes. Many modified types of corn and soybeans are engineered to resist herbicides, which is of little use to the consumer.

A potential benefit of Simplot’s potatoes is fewer black spots, a plus not only for farmers seeking higher yields but also for consumers who wouldn’t have to soak them before cooking. Small amounts of both the potatoes and the apples could be in stores in the next two or three years.

British scientist Cathie Martin has developed the modified purple tomatoes and hopes to eventually sell them as a juice in the United States. She says some of those same health-conscious consumers concerned about GMOs should be attracted to a product with potential to help lower the risk of cancer.

Retailers are still uncertain. McDonald’s buys Simplot’s conventional potato products but said the company does not have “current plans” to source any GMO potatoes. Other retail chains have already pledged not to sell a genetically engineered salmon that is pending approval at the Food and Drug Administration.

Cathleen Enright of the Biotechnology Industry Organization says the industry worries that opposition from advocacy groups will slow development.

“At the end of the day, the marketplace is going to determine what is going to succeed,” Enright said.

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Huge New Challenge to Monsanto’s Round-Up: Glyphosate is “probable human carcinogen” – World Health Org.’s Cancer Agency 3/20/2015

 . From GM Watch

Here’s the link to the statement by the WHO:

Roundup - IARC declare as a probable human carcinogen

IARC’s verdict comes as glyphosate is set to be re-approved in Europe this year

The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency has declared the world’s most widely used weedkiller a “probable human carcinogen” in a move that will alarm the agrochemical industry and amateur gardeners.

The assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of glyphosate, which is used in herbicides with estimated annual sales of $6bn, will be of special concern to Monsanto, the company that brought glyphosate to market under the trade name Roundup in the 1970s.

Over 80% of GM crops worldwide are engineered to be grown with the herbicide.

The IARC has no regulatory role and its decisions do not automatically lead to bans or restrictions, but campaigners are expected to use them to put pressure on regulators.

The IARC reached its decision based on the view of 17 experts from 11 countries, who met in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of 5 organophosphate pesticides.

The IARC’s assessment of the 5 pesticides is published in the latest issue of The Lancet Oncology.

Europe is set to re-approve glyphosate this year.

The IARC assessment is here (register to gain free access):
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2815%2970134-8/abstract

Financial Times article behind paywall: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8b79a572-cf14-11e4-893d-00144feab7de.html#axzz3UxYNKYO6

The response by the pesticide industry association, the Glyphosate Task Force, is here:
http://www.wmcactionnews5.com/story/28574811/statement-of-the-gtf-on-the-recent-iarc-decision-concerning-glyphosate

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New Technology, New Concerns: Utah professor urges caution in altering DNA of unborn babies

By KRISTEN MOULTON | The Salt Lake Tribune  GUEST BLOGGERconnect

Genetics » U. scientist among those voicing caution as gene editing gets easier, cheaper.

University of Utah geneticist Dana Carroll, a leader in genomic engineering, is one of 18 scientists, ethicists and legal experts who signed a cautionary paper published Thursday in the journal Science Express.

The group met in Napa, Calif., in January to discuss and formulate its position, which calls for scientists to slow down, better understand the safety and consequences of engineering changes in human DNA and allow time for public discussion of the ethics.

A new tool that is revolutionizing genetics and molecular biology, CRISPR-Cas9, gives researchers the ability to easily and cheaply “snip” DNA in a cell, using an enzyme called a nuclease, and either remove or rewrite genetic information.

While it holds promise for eradicating genetic diseases, the technology also has big implications for the human genome: A person whose DNA is edited would pass the altered genes on to his or her future children.

There’s also a fear the technology could be used in unethical ways, such as “engineering” a baby to look a certain way, or to be athletic or intelligent.

“One of the concerns is that some people may want to use the technology to make trivial or cosmetic changes, rather than using it to prevent devastating diseases,” said Carroll, distinguished professor of biochemistry at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

The paper Carroll co-signed is expected to amplify discussion in the scientific community, which last week heard from another group of researchers who recommend that the new technology never be used on human embryos.

Changing the genome could have unpredictable effects on future humans, and that’s unacceptable, the group says.

Instead, that group, led by Edward Lanphier, chief executive of the biotechnology company Sangamo Biosciences, suggests research focus on somatic, or non-reproductive cells.

CRISPR-Cas9, was developed in the lab of Jennifer Doudna, the University of California-Berkeley scientist who organized the Napa meeting.

Hundreds of papers in the past two years have proven the usefulness of the new tool in research involving mammals.

“The applications to humans are potentially just around the corner,” Carroll said.

CRISPR-Cas9 allows more subtle, precise changes in DNA than was possible with technologies used in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), he added. Such genetic engineering typically involves introducing new genes into an organism.

But caution is in order because scientists cannot be sure there won’t be other consequences to the gene editing, he said. “We could be doing the right thing at the target and the wrong thing somewhere else,” Carroll said. “This is not trivial genetic manipulation.

“That means that we have to be very careful that, first of all, the change is what we intend and nothing else, and that the people who are affected by the change in the short term and the public at large have some comfort with this approach.”

The paper Carroll co-signed says, “Given the rapid developments in the field, it would be wise to begin a discussion that bridges the research community, relevant industries, medical centers, regulatory bodies and the public in order to explore together the responsible uses of this technology.”

While the statement doesn’t suggest who should lead the conversation, Carroll said the National Academy of Sciences would be a logical choice.

Most countries either outlaw or regulate genetic manipulation of human genes, but he acknowledged that the paper might only affect what happens in the United States.

The paper suggests that scientists avoid even attempting, in lax jurisdictions or with regulatory approval, modifying the germ line — reproductive cells — in human beings, “while societal, environmental and ethical implications of such activity are discussed among scientific and governmental organizations.”

By having a public discussion of the ethics, Carroll said, perhaps “enough people around the world will feel the ethical challenges of doing this sort of thing that even the outlaws are given pause.”

kmoulton@sltrib.com

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Science Bias Revealed, Hopefully Reversed: Journal that Retracted Séralini Study Now Replaced Editor-in-Chief and Removed Ex-Monsanto Employee from Editorial Board

 Seralini rat Study Wrongfully RetractedUpdate (26 February 2015)

Critical changes have this year been made at the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicolgy, from which the Editor-in-Chief A. Wallace Hayes retracted the important paper by the Seralini team. The Editorial Board of the journal [19] now has a new Editor-in-Chief, José L. Domingo, who has published papers showing that safety of GM crops is not an established fact; and the Editorial Board no longer includes Richard Goodman, the ex-Monsanto employee who became Associate Editor for Biotechnology not long before the Seralini paper was retracted.

http://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/scientific-publication-peril-seralini-affair

The ‘Séralini affair’ illustrates the pervasive influence and power of major corporations over biotechnology publications and research. Evidence of harm to health caused by products during testing by companies can be hidden under ‘commercial confidentiality’ or by a poor experimental design.  A once-respected journal can no longer be relied upon to be objective, with studies showing harm from GM crops rejected without good reason, while studies finding safety in flawed experiments are published. It is difficult not to conclude that science is being corrupted to suppress legitimate questions about the safety of GM crop technology.

Re-publication in another journal

In June 2014, the Séralini et al.paper was re-published with open access in the Springer Group journal Environmental Sciences Europe.  Again, there was an immediate outcry by GM supporters.  In addition, the researchers have published for open access all their raw data — something the GM companies have always refused to do.
The Height of Past Bias: A “Rigged” paper from the GM industry stays, while Seralini’s gets retracted.

The flawed process by which FCT has selected some papers for publication is emphasised by its acceptance of a new study [16] from scientists working in the GM industry.  A rat-feeding trial of a GM canola, a type of oilseed rape, by six DuPont scientists found the GM crop to be as safe as non-GM varieties.  This conclusion has been challenged by the Seralini team in a Letter-to-the-Editor of FCT [17], on the grounds that (a) having analysed the diet (obtained from the named company), they found that the diets of the control rats contained large proportions of two GM maizes and also glyphosate residue; (b) the usual 3-month duration was too short to show long-term effects; and (c) additional ‘control’ groups fed ‘reference canola varieties’ were used.  The same strain of rat was used as by the Seralini researchers with 12 rats per sex per group, compared with 10 by the Seralini team. Three rats died or had to be put down during the study.  As usual in industry studies, statistical differences were regarded as being “of no biological relevance”. The results were said to “support the conclusion” that the canola is safe. To add further insult to injury, the DuPont scientists declared at the end of the paper that they had “no conflicts of interest”.  Moreover, the lead author is a Managing Editor of the journal. [18]

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Monsanto AND McDonald’s in Pofit Loss Freefall. America, and The World, is Voting with It’s Pocketbook. Finally!

parakeetsby Guest Blogger ANTHONY GUCCIARDI | NATURAL SOCIETY | FEBRUARY 22, 2015

In a series of headlines that would pass as virtually unbelievable several years ago, mainstream economists are sounding the alarm over the financial decline of both fast food giant McDonald’s and biotech juggernaut Monsanto.

CNN asks, ‘Is McDonald’s doomed?’ Business Insider declares that ‘McDonald’s Is Losing America’ as the company fires its own CEO. What’s happening? As it turns out, the world is starting to ask what they’re truly eating in their food — and the new conglomerate of natural grocers and restaurants are trailblazing the way into an entirely new economic environment. In other words: people are simply tired of shoveling garbage into their bodies, and they’re not going to put up with it anymore.

Here’s just a few of the ingredients you can find in many fast food meals:

– Dimethylpolysiloxane – A chemical known for its use in silicone breast implants, silly putty, and also… chicken nuggets

– Propylene glycol – A laxative chemical and electronic cigarette filler that even e-cigarette companies are beginning to phase out

– Azodicarbonamide – A chemical used in the creation of foamed plastic items like yoga mats

So are you surprised to find that many are turning away from fast food leaders like McDonald’s?

Nations around the world are already rejecting the ensemble of artificial ingredients included in many staple McDonald’s meal options. Back in 2013, their attempts to expand operations in Bolivia were completely shut down by the reality that the Bolivian citizens were not willing to purchase their fast food creations. As reported back in July of 2013:

“McDonald’s restaurants operated in Bolivia for 14 years, according to Hispanically Speaking. In 2002, they had to shutter their final remaining 8 stores because they simply couldn’t turn a profit—and if you know fast food companies, you know it’s not because they didn’t try.

The Golden Arches sunk plenty of money into marketing and campaigning—trying to get the food-loving Bolivians to warm to their French fries and burgers, but it simply wasn’t happening.”

And they’re absolutely still trying to become ‘relevant’ again in the United States, as natural food giants like Whole Foods are able to offer a medley of organic-based options for the same price of a Happy Meal with extra fries. Even CNN Money admits that with public knowledge expanding over these meal options, McDonald’s is fighting to stay relevant. Paul R. La Monica, reporting for the CNN Money column, writes:

“Are the meals no longer as happy for McDonald’s customers as they used to be? The fast food giant definitely seems worried.

McDonald’s (MCD) reported lackluster quarterly results last week. And company executives used the words “relevance,” “relevant” and “relevancy” a combined 20 times during its conference call with analysts. Translation: the leaders of the Golden Arches are very concerned about whether the company is still relevant.

If you look at the expected growth rates for Mickey D’s biggest burger rivals — as well as upstarts in the so-called fast casual restaurant chain industry — I’d be “Grimace”-ing too. (Sorry. But I miss that purple blob!)”

From Super Bowl commercials to mega marketing campaigns, McDonald’s is shoveling cash into their PR machine — something they have in common with GMO juggernaut Monsanto. Another company that is facing a financial loss amid increased awareness and international import issues. As the Associated Press article ‘Monsanto Loses $156 Million in Fiscal Fourth Quarter’ explains, the multinational corporation has entered a very unique loss period that spells out a lot about the future of its GMO technology:

“Monsanto Co. on Wednesday reported a loss of $156 million in its fiscal fourth quarter.

The St. Louis-based company said it had a loss of 31 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 27 cents per share.

The results missed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 24 cents per share.”

The news comes as Monsanto continues to spend millions in attempts to stop GMO labeling campaigns around the nation, funding opposition groups and ensuring that you don’t know what’s in your food. After all, there’s a reason that 96% of Monsanto shareholders absolutely do not want GMO labeling legislation to pass within the US — it could hurt business.

As information continues to spread on key issues like the prevalence of toxic substances within fast food meals and the reality behind GMOs and their secrecy, there is no doubt that these two companies (and many others) will experience the economic backlash. Will they change in order to meet the new economic shift?

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