Daily Archives: July 30, 2009

Toxic chemical still found in ‘BPA-free’ bottles: Health Canada

Canwest News | Jul 30, 2009

By Sarah Schmidt

OTTAWA — Health Canada scientists have found bisphenol A leaching into the liquid of plastic baby bottles marketed to parents as being free of the toxic chemical.

The study says “traces” of the toxin were found in “BPA-free” bottles while internal correspondence between a department official and the lead scientist went further, characterizing the amounts in two brands as “high readings.”

Manufacturers of non-polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, however, were quick to challenge the “shocking” results, saying there must be a problem with the way the agency conducted the research.

Government scientists conducted the tests on non-polycarbonate bottles last year after Health Canada announced an imminent ban on polycarbonate plastic baby bottles.

By then, the market had already been flooded with “BPA-free” alternatives made of substitute plastics without any bisphenol A, which were pitched as an option for parents concerned about the health risks associated with the newly labelled toxin.

Bisphenol A, a hormone disrupter that can cause reproductive damage and may lead to prostate and breast cancer in adulthood, is used as a building block in polycarbonate plastic, but not in the substitutes, such as polypropylene.

The test results surprised Health Canada scientists involved, according to records released to Canwest News Service under the Access to Information Act.

“This bottle is labelled polypropylene which should contain no BPA,” the lead scientist wrote to a colleague, recommending another analysis be done to “verify the claim” and “check more samples.”

The brand mentioned in the correspondence is blacked out on the grounds that the information could result in financial loss or prejudice the competitive advantage of a company.

In separate correspondence, a Health Canada official wrote to the scientist — under the subject heading “Migration of Bisphenol A from ‘BPA Free’ Baby Bottles and Liners” — to thank him for other results.

“We would definitely like to do a material characterization for the two brands with high readings and would also like to test the other brands too at the same time.”

The records show Health Canada tested about nine different brands of baby bottles using non-polycarbonate plastic for possible leaching of BPA, chosen because they’re made with a type of plastic that does not use the chemical as a building block.

In a recently published summary of the test results, researchers suggest the “traces of BPA found to migrate from these bottles could be artifacts of the manufacturing process.”

And since these “BPA-free” bottles leached less than polycarbonate plastic bottles under conditions designed to simulate repeated normal use, the government researchers concluded these bottles made of polysulfone, polystyrene or polypropylene (non-PC) are a “reasonable alternative” to the banned polycarbonate (PC) bottles.

“The average BPA concentration in non-PC baby bottles after 10 days at high temperature (60 C) was similar to the levels found in PC bottles after 24 hours at 40 C. This is a good indication that non-PC baby bottles may be considered as appropriate alternatives to PC bottles, in order to minimize exposure BPA from PC-plastic baby bottles.”

University of Missouri’s Frederick vom Saal, a leading researcher into bisphenol A and other endocrine disrupters, said Health Canada’s test results are a “wake-up” call for bottle manufacturers and consumers.

“This really is a truly ubiquitous chemical. It’s very sticky. It’s on dust, it’s on everything. It is possible at very, very small amounts that you could maybe detect it in something, but most of these assays are not sensitive enough to pick up a hitchhiker,” he said.

“You’re picking it up because it’s actually a component of the plastic that it’s in, and that’s a little unnerving to find that people are reporting this coming out of other plastic products like polypropylene.”

And even if trace amounts can be explained away as a result of environmental contamination, companies need to revisit their manufacturing processes, said vom Saal.

Leading manufacturers of non-polycarbonate plastic baby bottles said there’s no way their bottles leach any amount of bisphenol A, even in trace amounts.

“We have not only three major global testing labs that test our products, but we also do biologic testing on our bottles, and the biologic type of testing is even more sensitive than anything that Health Canada could ever pull off, and it would pick up anything that even behaved like BPA,” said Kevin Brodwick, founder and president of thinkbaby, whose products are made with medical-grade plastic specifically formulated to be free of bisphenol A, PVC, nitrosamines, phthalates, lead, melamine and biologically toxic chemicals.

Test results, conducted at least every quarter, consistently show “zero, complete non-detect for BPA,” said Brodwick.

“It sounds more like Health Canada has an issue of their equipment not being clean.”

BornFree Canada president Tony Ferraro echoed this sentiment, saying several independent tests have all found “no detection” of the chemical in his company’s bottles.

“It is extremely difficult to comprehend otherwise” because bisphenol A is not contained or added to the resin or additives during the manufacturing practice,” said Ferraro. “I can conclude with 100 per cent accuracy and confidence that any possibility of trace amounts of bisphenol A in BornFree products is unlikely and impossible.”

Corina Crawley, meanwhile, wants Health Canada to fully release the study’s details, including brands and methodology.

The Ottawa mother sought out BPA-free bottles when her son was born two years ago, expecting all products to be “100 per cent free” of the chemical.

She said details should be released “for the public to decide.”

“As a parent, there are risks associated with BPA, but I don’t know anything about the science of trace amounts,” said Crawley. “What are the amounts that matter?”

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Military to Deploy on U.S. Soil to “Assist” with Pandemic Outbreak

NaturalNews | Jul 30, 2009

by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) Until now, what I’m about to tell you would have been easily dismissed as a conspiracy theory. It’s the kind of story that you might expect from some extreme fringe blogger… the kind of story that never appears in the mainstream media. Only today, it did. And it’s not a conspiracy theory, either.

CNN is reporting this evening that the U.S. military is gearing up to get involved in the H1N1 swine flu outbreak widely expected to strike the U.S. this fall. As CNN reports, “The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials.” (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/US/07/2…)

When it comes to the U.S. military, the word “assist,” of course, could mean almost anything. Typically, the U.S. military offers assistance at the end of a rifle. This “assistance” could mean assisting with quarantines, assisting with rounding up infected people or assisting with arresting and imprisoning people who resist vaccine shots.

Just to make it even more interesting, this operation will include “personnel from all branches of the military” and it will involve cooperation with FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA is the group of geniuses who handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They’re the ones who confiscated firearms from law-abiding citizens defending their own homes, then thrust people into toxic temporary housing that caused neurological symptoms and breathing problems.

Internationally, FEMA is known as the Federal Emergency Laughing Stock Administration. But now, with H1N1 swine flu, FEMA will be backed by the power of highly-trained, heavily-armed military personnel.

Imagine one possible future in America…

There’s a knock on your door. A peek through the window reveals two young soldiers in urban camo fatigues gripping M16 rifles slung across their chests. In front of them, an official-looking doctor person sports an N95 mask and carries a clipboard thick with ruffled papers.

Knock knock. “Is anyone home?”

One of the soldiers catches a glimpse of you peering through a sliver of curtain covering the living room window. “I’ve got movement.” He tightens his grip on his rifle and elbows the soldier next to him. “Someone’s home. Knock again.”

Knock KNOCK. “We’re here from the pandemic response team,” insists the doc. “We’re here to help. Open up or we’ll be forced to come in.”

Reluctantly, you inch towards the door and grip the doorknob with damp, sweaty hands. Your pulse pounds hard as you crack open the door.

But the doctor isn’t in front of your door anymore. It’s one of the soldiers — the larger one — and he wedges his foot between your door and its frame, prying it open and forcing his intimidating self into your doorway. “We’re with FEMA. Please step away from the door.”

“Our records show you haven’t received the swine flu vaccine yet,” squeaks the doctor from behind the bulk of the domineering soldier now squarely positioned in front of you. “We’re here to administer your vaccine.”

“I don’t want a vaccine,” you protest. “They’re not safe.”

The soldier chuckles, blurts out, “They’re as safe as the U.S. government says they are.”

The doctor peers out from behind his military companion and makes eye contact. “Sir, as you well know, vaccines have been required for all U.S. residents since President Obama’s emergency pandemic declaration last month. Please extend your arm and we’ll be on our way.”

Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak

CNN | Jul 28, 2009

by Barbara Starr

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials.

The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command’s Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary.

The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military.

It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces.

Civilian authorities would lead any relief efforts in the event of a major outbreak, the official said. The military, as they would for a natural disaster or other significant emergency situation, could provide support and fulfill any tasks that civilian authorities could not, such as air transport or testing of large numbers of viral samples from infected patients.

As a first step, Gates is being asked to sign a so-called “execution order” that would authorize the military to begin to conduct the detailed planning to execute the proposed plan.

Orders to deploy actual forces would be reviewed later, depending on how much of a health threat the flu poses this fall, the officials said.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies prepare for major international terrorism prevention exercise

AFP | Jul 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the United States and abroad are preparing to go on high alert as part of a massive terrorism prevention exercise — the first of its kind here.

Beginning Monday, security officials at all levels in the United States and four other countries will scramble into action in the wake of a fictional terrorist attack somewhere outside the United States.

The scenario envisions the receipt of intelligence that a follow-up attack is planned inside the United States, forcing agencies inside and out of the country to test their coordination, intelligence and terror prevention skills.

The National Level Exercise 2009 “will be the first major exercise conducted by the United States government that will focus exclusively on terrorism prevention and protection, as opposed to incident response and recovery,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in a statement.

The US government regularly carries out preparedness exercises, dealing with crises ranging from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.

The 2009 exercise will include agencies in Britain, Mexico, Canada and Australia, as well as federal, regional, state, tribal, local and private sector officials throughout the United States, the Department of Homeland Security said.

“Coordinating with our partners across the United States and around the world is critical to protecting the nation from terrorists attacks,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“The National Level Exercise allows us to test our capabilities in real-time to refine and strengthen our strategies for preventing terrorist attacks.”

The exercise is expected to last for five days and is being designed to test a variety of “capabilities,” including intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism investigation, border security, infrastructure protection, security alerts and international coordination, FEMA said.

“Lessons learned from the exercise will provide valuable insights to guide future planning for securing the nation against terrorist attacks, disasters, and other emergencies,” the emergency response agency said.

China Says ‘One Child’ Policy Will Be ‘Strictly Enforced For Decades’

CNS | Jul 30, 2009

By Patrick Goodenough

(CNSNews.com) – China has rejected suggestions that it is easing its controversial “one-child” population control policy, following reports that authorities in Shanghai are encouraging eligible couples to have a second child.

The news made headlines, with media reports saying the 30-year-old population policy was being “relaxed” or “eased.” But Beijing denied this was the case.

“Officials say [the one-child policy] will be strictly enforced as a means of controlling births for decades to come as overpopulation is still a major concern,” the Xinhua state news agency reported.

There is nothing new in the fact that many Chinese couples who are themselves only children are allowed to have a second child (exceptions are also allowed for ethnic minorities, rural dwellers and other categories). In Shanghai, regulations in place as far back as 1997 state that “couples who meet any one of the following conditions can have a second birth … both parties are only child in their family.”

What is new is that family planning officials in China’s biggest city and commercial center are now actively encouraging couples in that category to have their permitted second child, in a bid to counter the rapid graying of Shanghai’s population and prevent future labor shortages.

The city’s family planning chief, Xie Lingli, told Chinese media last week that officials would make home visits to eligible families and ensure they were aware of their right to have a second child. Emotional and financial counseling would also be offered.

According to Xie, 97 percent of families in the city of nearly 19 million people have only one child. At the same time, more than 21 percent of the total population is aged over 60, a proportion that is expected to rise to around 34 percent by 2020.

“The rising number of retirees will put pressure on the younger generation and the social security system,” she said.

‘Pragmatism, not repentance’

Demographers and economists have long warned about the long-term effects of China’s birth limitation program. One expert projects that the number of Chinese people over 60 will rise from more than 140 million in 2008 to 200 million by 2015.

But human rights advocates, pro-lifers and others are concerned about the more immediate costs. China’s policy is notorious not just because it denies individual citizens the right to make their own decisions on family size, critics say, but because it gives rise to numerous other human rights abuses.

They range from punitive fines for illegal, or “out of plan,” births – China Daily reported last March that the fines are between three and eight times the average per capita income – to forced abortions and involuntary sterilizations carried out by officials aiming to meet quotas set by Beijing.

In a society where male children are preferred for traditional and economic reasons, sex-selective abortions of baby girls continue, despite a ban on the use of nonmedically necessary ultrasounds to determine gender.

A study in the British Medical Journal in April found that there were 32 million more males than females in China under the age of 18. “Sex selective abortion accounts for almost all the excess males,” the British and Chinese researchers found.

“Although sex selective abortion is illegal, proving that an abortion has been carried out on sex selective as opposed to family planning grounds is often difficult when abortion itself is so readily available,” they argued.

Reggie Littlejohn, an expert on the one-child policy and founder of a new coalition called Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, points to less obvious rights violations also arising from the policy. These include the theft of children and, in a country where an increasingly skewed gender balance means millions of Chinese men will struggle to find brides, sex slavery and trafficking.

According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, around 500 Chinese women commit suicide every day. The State Department’s 2008 human rights report said “many observers” believe that the one-child policy contributes to the high suicide rate.

“Even a two-child policy is a gross violation of fundamental human rights,” John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in Britain said of the reports from Shanghai. “Apart from the brutal way in which the Chinese authorities enforce population policy – forced abortions, forced sterilizations, punitive fines etc. – couples have the right to have as many children as they want.”

Smeaton noted that Shanghai officials were giving pragmatic reasons for their approach. It “doesn’t mean they are repentant for the crimes they and other population controllers have committed under the 30-year one-child policy and are continuing to commit.”

‘No official policy causes more harm to women and girls’

Citing the one-child policy, the Bush administration from 2002 withheld funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), which operates in China, in line with U.S. legislation prohibiting funds for any agency that “supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.”

The UNFPA has long denied that its work in China supports coercive measures, and President Obama this year reversed the policy.

Nonetheless, advocates like Littlejohn are seeing some positive signs, noting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out against coercive family planning.

Testifying before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee last April, Clinton said “I consider any governmental imposition that imposes government policy on women to be absolutely unacceptable. And I feel strongly about forced sterilization, forced abortion or any other egregious interference with women’s rights.”

Clinton said she had said as much in Beijing in 1995, when as First Lady she attended the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women.

In her speech at that event, she said, “It is a violation of human rights when women are denied the right to plan their own families, and that includes being forced to have abortions or being sterilized against their will.”

Littlejohn was recently invited by the new White House Council on Women and Girls to give a presentation on China’s one-child policy. She said Wednesday she had a “very warm” reception.

“Those present seemed genuinely concerned about the violence to women and girls caused directly and indirectly by the one-child policy,” she said. “As I told them, there is no other official policy in the world that causes more suffering to women and girls than China’s one-child policy.”

Obama established the White House Council on Women and Girls by executive order in March, saying its mission was “to provide a coordinated federal response to the challenges confronted by women and girls.”

Look out, the camera car could snap you

Burton Mail | Jul 29, 2009

by KEITH BULL

surveillance carAT FIRST glance, it looks like any normal motor. But look a little closer and a black camera protrudes ominously from the roof of the Smart car.

The Big Brother-style device could soon be coming to Burton to try to catch out motorists who are flouting the law.

The Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership is wheeling out the CCTV surveillance operation to try to stop drivers using their mobile phones.

It has already started to appear at junctions across the county to capture on film drivers who are using their mobiles and not wearing seatbelts.

Should a two-week pilot be considered a success, the car could become a much more regular fixture on the Burton road network.

The move has been hailed as another potential life-saver.

Mike Maryon, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for road safety, said: “If you use your mobile while driving you are four times more likely to crash. If you don’t wear your seatbelt you are twice as likely to die.

“That’s why we are drafting in this new technology to test it out. It’s been used in Manchester and the results look promising. Saving lives is a major manifesto promise for us and this is another weapon in our armoury.”

If approved for active service the images captured by the Smart car camera will be used to prosecute drivers who disregard the law.

It is against the law to use a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel of the car with its engine running.

Drivers who are caught using their mobiles will be sent a £60 fine and will get three points on their licence. Those without a seatbelt will get a £30 fine.

Backers of the scheme say it will raise awareness and help change the behaviour of motorists. However, critics say the spy cars are a ‘step too far’.

Nigel Humphries, from the Association of British Drivers, said: “This is a total infringement. They might as well put something in cars to test what drivers are thinking — to see if they are concentrating on the road or thinking about something else.”

Highways bosses have moved to allay the concerns.

Councillor Maryon said: “The Smart car will be very clearly marked. This is very much about raising awareness and changing behaviour, not about catching people out. We want drivers to think again before making that call.”

Government agency claims organic food has no health benefits

Organic food has no health benefits, study finds

London Times | Jul 29, 2009

by Valerie Elliott

Organic food gives no health benefits to consumers, according to research for the Food Standards Agency published today.

Shoppers pay more for organic fruit, vegetables, chicken, beef and milk but the food gives no nutritional enhancement to people’s diet.

The watchdog stopped short of advising consumers that buying organic produce was a waste of money but its message was clear: choosing to eat organic food will make no important difference to a person’s overall health. Eating a healthy balanced diet is the only important thing, the report concluded.

The research — the first and biggest study undertaken of scientific papers published in the past 50 years on the health and diet benefits of organic food — will come as a blow to the organic food industry, which is now worth £2.1 billion a year in Britain..

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also threatens to put the FSA on a collision course with organic champions such as the Soil Association.

The £120,000 year-long study by a team from the London School for Hygiene and Tropical health was headed by Dr Alan Dangour, a public health nutritionist. His team identified some differences between organic and conventionally produced food but concluded that they were not sufficiently important to make any difference to a person’s health or give nutritional benefit.

Dr Dangour said: “There is more phosphorus in organic food. Phosphorus is an important mineral but it is available in everything we eat and is not important for public health. Acidity is also higher in organic produce but acidity is about taste and sensory perception and makes no difference at all for health.

“A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance.

“Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally-produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.”

He made clear, however, that he had not looked at pesticide and herbicide residues in food produced by organic and conventional farming methods. The study also did not seek to compare the taste of the products.

The FSA insisted that it was neither pro nor anti-organic food and it recognised that there were many other reasons why people chose to eat organic — such as concern for the environment and wildlife, higher animal welfare standards and stricter rules on use of antibiotic medicines in animals and pesticides on crops.

Gill Fine, the agency’s director of consumer choice and dietary health, said: “Ensuring people have accurate information is absolutely essential in allowing us all to make informed choices about the food we eat.

“This study does not mean that people should not eat organic food. What it shows is that there is little, if any, nutritional difference between organic and conventionally-produced food and that there is no evidence of additional health benefits from eating organic food.”

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, admitted that he was disappointed by the conclusions but said that he was confident that consumers would make their own minds up.

“The FSA has always sated there was no scientific evidence to show organic food was better for health than conventional food. But it has not stopped the growth of the market. Some 8 per cent of shoppers are regular users of organic food and they do so for a variety of reasons. As far as FSA advice is concerned people tend to use their own common sense.”

He was adamant that five-year research work funded by the European Commission and due to be published next year would show that organic food was beneficial to health.

He also challenged the conclusion by the researchers that the nutritional differences found in organic and conventional foods were not important.

“Consumers will decide for themselves,” he said.

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