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Press Release

15th March 2013


EJFandPANukThe Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK) condemn the failure of EU member States to support a two year suspension of the use of certain types of neonicotinoid pesticides on crops attractive to bees, highlighting that this will add to the pressure on bee populations that has caused a massive decline in their numbers.

EJF and PAN have called for a moratorium on all uses of neonicotinoids pending an immediate and urgent independent review of the latest science, the evidence of which indicates that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees and other pollinators which are vital to agricultural eco-systems. The partial suspension that failed today to find the qualified majority support of EU member States, had been proposed by the European Commission in the light of the recent findings of the European Food Safety Authority that the use of three types of neonicotinoids was “unacceptable” to bee health. Had the EU member States voted to restrict the use of neonicoinoids, it would have signified a landmark decision by European Governments to stand up for nature and biodiversity.

Read more: Failure of EU To Suspend use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides

15th March 2013

bee cotheleIn the summer of 1994 as the sunflowers opened and the French countryside turned golden, France’s honey bee population collapsed. Thousands of hives were lost and French beekeepers saw their livelihoods evaporate. 1994 was the first year that a new class of insecticide – neonicotinoids – was widely used in France.

Since then, bee populations around the world have continued to decline at an alarming rate, just as the use of these new insecticides have exploded. Neonicotinoids are now the most widely used insecticides in the world, sales globally make the pesticide manufacturers billions of dollars.

Today, following fierce lobbying and smear tactics by the pesticide manufacturers, EU Member States failed to reach a qualified majority in voting either for or against the proposal to suspend the use of three neonicotinoids in Europe.  The suspension would only have been partial – applying to crops that are specifically attractive to bees – and  temporary - lasting for just two years - but it would have been a step in the right direction. Had the EU member States voted to restrict the use of neonicotinoids, it would have signified a landmark decision by European Governments to stand up for nature and biodiversity.

Read more: DEFRA in favour of pesticides that kill bees

Experimental tests are conducted in developing countries on sick and vulnerable children under the guise of free and ethical treatments sanctioned by the FDA and complicit medical institutions.

Unapproved GM rice serum tested on sick infants

FDA Approved 600Two children suffered serious allergic reactions after being used as guinea pigs by the California-based company Ventria Bioscience in Lima, Peru [1]. The children were part of a clinical trial of a genetically modified (GM) rice serum containing two synthetic human proteins lactoferrin and lysozyme (normally found in human milk and other bodily fluids), not yet approved for testing in the US or anywhere else in the world.

Ventria had experienced stiff opposition for growing the GM rice in its home country. It was driven out of California and southeast Missouri in 2005, but managed to grow the GM rice in North Carolina [2] (Molecular Pharming - the New Battlefront over GM Crops , SiS27).

The company was hoping to sell the GM rice as a “nutraceutical” presumably on grounds that it provided extra nutrition. Nevertheless, it was unlikely to gain approval for a clinical trial in the US; so, like other companies, it decided to target Third World countries where regulations are lax.

Trials of proteins known to be unsafe

There are reasons why Ventria’s trial should never have been allowed, anywhere in the world, least of all, on vulnerable infants suffering from diarrhoea.  Prof. Joe Cummins [3] had drawn attention to the potential hazards of these particular GM rice proteins ( Human Proteins in GM Rice Linked to Diseases , SiS22). Lactoferrin participates in the regulation of immune functions and controls pathogens by binding iron required for bacterial growth. But it has been implicated in asthma with fatal consequences. Lysozyme breaks down the cell wall material of bacteria, but may contribute to emphysema. By far, the greater danger is that the transgenic proteins are only approximations of the natural proteins in amino-acid sequence and glycosylation (carbohydrate chains added to the proteins during processing), and may therefore provoke immune reactions. Glycosylation differs between species; hence transgenic proteins are bound to exhibit differences in glycosylation patterns from the natural protein. It was indeed the difference in glycosylation patterns that turned a normally harmless bean protein into a potent immunogen when transferred to pea, causing debilitating lung inflammation and food sensitivities in mice [4] (Transgenic Pea that Made Mice Ill , SiS29).

Read more: FDA in Third World Drug Trial Scandals

A legal challenge to overturn the EU’s controversial Food Supplements Directive is over, but the corporate takeover of herbal medicine and natural remedies continues.

EU Directive upheld with key provisions

Warning Codex AlimentariusThe European Court’s final judgment on the European Food Standard Directive (FSD) was delivered in July 2005.  The Alliance of Natural Health (ANH) and many thousands of their supporters had hoped the opinion of the Advocate General given a few months previously, would be upheld by the rest of the European Court judges.  It was his opinion that the FSD is invalid under EU law and as “transparent as a black box”. The European court judges usually follow the Advocate General’s advice, but not in this case.

The ANH is a pan-European and international organisation of supplement manufacturers, retailers, practitioners and consumers. They began their landmark challenge of the EU Directive at the High Court in London in 2004.  Two hearings at The European Courts of Justice followed; the first ruled in their favour and the second against them.  The ANH are now satisfied, nevertheless, that their main concerns have been addressed without invalidating the Directive; and that this has been achieved through a process of legislation, which has provided a win-win situation.

The ANH chief executive, Dr Robert Verkerk said, “The Court has made clear some key provisions of the Directive (see Box 1), which massively reduce the difficulty of getting onto the once-feared ‘Positive List’” . The Positive List excludes many natural and organic forms of selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and boron and calcium that strengthen bones. (See “European Directive Against Vitamins and Minerals” or SIS 20). Verkerk is confident that the simplified requirements for getting onto the ‘Positive List’ will no longer constitute a barrier for those ingredients allowed in food supplements.

Thousands of health products saved from European ban

Had the Court not accepted the legal challenge and the key arguments against the Directive, seventy five percent of supplementary vitamin and mineral ingredients found in five thousand natural health products would have been banned on 1 August 2005.

The Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA), the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) and Consumers for Health Choice (CHC) felt, however, that the legal challenge did not go far enough. Together they began a process of “national derogation” (a ‘subsidiarity’ in legal parlance), which will allow ingredients used in food supplements prior to 2003 to continue until at least 31 December 2009. The Directive and the Food Standards Agency have accepted the derogation dossiers. Now the HFMA hopes to protect the interests of the UK food supplements industry by enlisting the support of ministers and PM Tony Blair while he holds the six-month rotating EU Presidency.

The fight is by no means over; it has moved to the international arena of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Read more: Compromise on EU Vitamins and Minerals

Political interference in the process of science and rampant conflicts of interest in scientific advisory panels are undermining the agency’s ability to protect the public from dangerous drugs.

pillhead-500-x-469FDA under fire from its own scientists

The FDA is already deeply mired in controversy over drugs trials in Third World countries [1] (FDA in Third World drug trial scandals , this issue) The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has fanned the fires by releasing the results of a survey that demonstrates the pervasive political influence on science at the FDA [2].

The survey was sent to 5 918 FDA scientists and elicited 997 replies.  Almost one fifth of scientists (18.4 percent) said that they “have been asked for non-scientific reasons to inappropriately exclude, or alter technical information or their conclusions in FDA scientific documents.”

This response ech oes previous public complaints made by FDA scientists who said that their findings on the painkiller Vioxx produced by Merck & Co were dismissed [3]. Merck eventually had to pull Vioxx from the market because of a study that linked the doubling of heart risk to the use of the drug. This is a serious indictment of FDA’s lack of accountability, and one that compromises their ability to protect public health and safety.

Other responses to the UCS survey showed that:

  • 17 percent had been asked by FDA officials to provide incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information to the public, regulated industry, media, or elected/senior government officials
  • 40 percent fear retaliation from voicing safety concerns in public
  • 47 percent, that’s less than half, think that the FDA routinely provides complete and accurate information to the public
  • 61 percent knew of cases where Department of Health and Human Services or FDA political appointees have inappropriately injected themselves into FDA determinations of actions
  • 81 percent agreed that the public would be better served if the independence and authority of FDA post-market safety systems were strengthened.

Dr Francesca Grifo, Senior Scientist and Director of UCS’s Scientific Integrity Programs [2] said, “FDA leaders should act now to improve transparency and accountability and renew the respect for independent science at the agency.”

Read more: FDA Under Fire for Corporate Links that Compromise Science

First 300 key vitamins and minerals axed, now 5 000 supplements banned by "insane" EU Directive. Sam Burcher reports on the right to freedom for the alternative health industry.

Vitamins for AllThe Alliance of Natural Health (ANH) is set to legally challenge the contentious EU Directive on Food Supplements (FSD). The FSD passed into European law in July 2002 and effectively brings about a ban on 300 nutrients included in 5 000 health products, most of which are in dietary supplements closest to food forms.

In July this year, the House of Commons Standing Committee for FSD Regulations met and voted the Food Supplement Directive through into English, Scottish and Welsh law. Dr Robert Verkerk, executive director of London-based ANH hopes a successful challenge would result in the FSD being overturned by all EU states.

The ANH represent the interests of a number of organisations including the British Association of Complimentary Medicine and the British Society for Allergy Environmental and Nutritional Medicine as well as a number of independent manufactures, suppliers and distributors of vitamins and minerals. Together they suggest the existing Directive be replaced with a revised FSD that allows for high quality, effective supplements across the whole of Europe. This would effectively harmonise to good standards, not bad ones.

Read more: European Directive Against Vitamins & Minerals