31 March 2010

Agave Nectar: the Sweetness of Death

Sugar addiction is at an historic high - no pun intended- and in America all the sugar junkies are trying to find a way to kick the habit. To do this they are lured into thinking that there are safer alternatives. How wrong they are. First of all, in this Universe, nothing is a substitute for anything else. Each thing is itself and is not something else.

There is no substitute for sugar so don't look for one.

It's a waste of time and puts your health at risk, because all of the so-called sugar substitutes are just as bad or worse than the sugar it is trying to replace. Artificial sweeteners are excito-toxins that kill brain cells and alter behaviour, stevia is a medicinal herb and not a food and should not be consumed on a daily basis like food, and now comes agave or agave nectar. Also not a food, not a part of the human food chain, and it turns out is a highly processed food product, full of high fructose corn syrup only worse! And that is saying a lot, because high fructose corn syrup, by itself, is responsible for most of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the country today that is destroying the health and lives of the young and the old. Agave it turns out has about double the amount of fructose as HFCS does.That means that if it really catches on, and it is, it will double the trouble.Here is a lengthy and thorough examination of agave in all of its horrors from the renowned Dr Mercola. Give it a serious read and reflections before you indulge in America's latest sugar craze.

Enjoy. Learn. Share.

Shocking! This 'Tequila' Sweetener is Far Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup

Posted by Dr. Mercola | March 30 2010 |

agave, fructoseMany people interested in staying healthy have switched to agave as a safer "natural" sweetener. They want to avoid well documented dangerous sweeteners like HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) but are unaware that agave is actually WORSE than HFCS.

This expose will offend many hard core natural health advocates because they have been convinced of the agave hype by companies that are promoting it.

Some have even criticized me for having “ulterior” motives. But nothing could be further from the truth. Although I do offer natural health products of sale on this site, I sell no competing products to agave.

Rather I recommend flavored stevia products like English Toffee or French Vanilla. You can also use xylitol in small amounts or glucose which is sold as dextrose and can easily be purchased on Amazon for $1 per pound. I do not sell any of these products.

My only purpose for sharing this information is to help people understand the truth about health. In case you haven’t noticed we have an epidemic of obesity in the US and it wasn’t until recently that my eyes opened up to the primary cause - - fructose.

I had similar epiphanies about omega-3 fats and vitamin D since I started this site, but this is the most major health appreciation I have had since I learned about vitamin D over five years ago. This is serious business and it is my intention to make the public fully aware of it and let you make your own choices.

Yes it is all about freedom of choice. It is hard to have freedom if you aren’t given the entire story, and up until now that has been the case with agave.

So Just What is Agave?

Blue agave is an exotic plant growing in the rich volcanic soil of Mexico under a hot tropical sun, boasting a stately flower stem that blooms only once in its lifetime. "Agave" literally means "noble." It’s generally recognized as a superstar of the herbal remedy world, claiming to offer relief for indigestion, bowel irregularity, and skin wounds.

Ferment it, and you have Mexico’s favorite adult beverage -- tequila.

Just the name "agave" conjures up images of romantic tropical excursions and mysterious shamanic medicine.

These are the mental images agave "nectar" sellers want you to hold. They use agave’s royal pedigree to cover the truth that what they’re selling you is a bottle of high-fructose syrup, so highly processed and refined that it bears NO resemblance to the plant of its namesake.

What is the "Real" Truth about Agave?

If you knew the truth about what’s really in it, you’d be dumping it down the drain -- and that would certainly be bad for sales.

Agave "nectar" or agave "syrup" is nothing more than a laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, devoid of virtually all nutrient value, offering you metabolic misfortune.

Unfortunately, masterful marketing has resulted in the astronomical popularity of agave syrup among people who believe they are doing their health a favor by avoiding refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup, and dangerous artificial sweeteners.

And if you’re diabetic, you’ve been especially targeted and told this is simply the best thing for you since locally grown organic lettuce, that it’s "diabetic friendly," has a "low glycemic index" and doesn’t spike your blood sugar.

While agave syrup does have a low-glycemic index, so does antifreeze -- that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Agave syrup has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener -- ranging from 70 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is FAR HIGHER than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.

This makes agave actually WORSE than HFCS.

It is important to understand that fructose does not increase insulin levels, which is not necessarily good as what it does do is radically increase insulin resistance, which is FAR more dangerous. You see, it’s okay for your insulin levels to rise, that is normal. You just don’t want these insulin levels to remain elevated, which is what insulin resistance causes.

That is why fasting insulin is such a powerful test, as it is a very powerful reflection of your insulin resistance.

In addition to insulin resistance, your risk of liver damage increases, along with triglycerides and a whole host of other health problems, as discussed in this CBC News video about the newly discovered dangers of high fructose corn syrup. The study discussed in this news report is about HFCS, however, it's well worth remembering that agave contains MORE fructose than HFCS, and in all likelihood, it's the FRUCTOSE that is causing these severe liver problems.

How Agave is Grown and Produced Proves it is Unnatural

Agaves grow primarily in Mexico, but you can also find them in the southern and western United States, as well as in South America. Agaves are not cacti, but succulents of the yucca family, more closely related to amaryllis and other lilies. Edible parts of the agave are the flowers, leaves, stalks and the sap.

A mature agave is 7 to 12 feet in diameter with leaves that are 5 to 8 feet tall -- an impressive plant in stature, to be sure. There are over 100 species of agave, in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

Although the industry wants you to believe that agave nectar runs straight from the plant and into your jar, nothing could not be farther from the truth.

In spite of manufacturer’s claims, agave "nectar" is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of its pineapple-like root bulb[i]. The root is comprised mainly of starch, similar to corn, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of fructose molecules.

The process by which agave starch and inulin are converted into "nectar" is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1.

The agave starch is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals[ii]. Here is a partial list of the chemicals involved:

  • Activated charcoal

  • Cationic and ionic resins

  • Sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid

  • Dicalite

  • Clarimex

  • Inulin enzymes

  • Fructozyme

How natural does this sound?

The result is highly refined fructose syrup, along with some remaining inulin.

Agave syrup comes in two colors: clear or light, and amber. What’s the difference?

Due to poor quality control in Mexican processing plants, some of the syrup gets burnt. Hence, the darker amber color. Of course, this poor quality control is marketed as an "artisan" variation, like amber beer, when in fact it contains higher levels of toxic impurities that arise from the sugar-heating process.

Impurities aside, agave "nectar" is neither safe nor natural with laboratory-generated fructose levels of more than 80 percent!

Is There Really a “Safe” Organic Agave?

Part of the problem leading to the confusion is that there are some natural food companies that are indeed committed to excellence and in providing the best product possible. But let me assure you that in the agave industry, this is the minority of companies.

Nevertheless, these ethical companies seek to provide an outstanding product. There are a few companies who commit to and actually achieve these criteria and actually:

  • Work with the indigenous people,

  • Use organic agave as the raw material, free of pesticides

  • Process it at low temperatures to preserve all the natural enzymes

  • Produce a final agave product that is closer to 70% fructose instead of over 90%

  • Fructose is bonded or conjugated to other sugars and not floating around as “free” fructose, like HFCS, which is far more damaging.

The VAST majority of companies however do not apply these principles and essentially produce a product that is, as this articles states, FAR worse than HFCS.

If you are going to use agave you will certainly want to seek out one of the companies that adhere to the principles above. However you will still need to exert caution in using it.

Just like fruit it is quantity issue. Fructose only becomes a metabolic poison when you consume it in quantities greater than 25 grams a day. If you consume one of the typical agave preparations that is one tablespoon, assuming you consume ZERO additional fructose in your diet, which is VERY unlikely since the average person consumes 70 grams per day.

Even a hundred years ago, long prior to modern day food processing, the average person consumed 15 grams a day.

Listen to YOUR Body

Many people will not be convinced by my arguments and data. They certainly can choose to do that but they are only hurting themselves. Fortunately there is a very simple way to learn if the fructose level you are consuming is safe.

When you consume fructose over 25 grams per day it will very likely increase its metabolic byproduct, uric acid, in your blood. So you can go to your physician and have a simple uric acid level done.

This is not a fasting test and is very inexpensive to do, it’s typically free with many automated chemistry profiles.

If your level is above 5.0 you will want to consider reducing your fructose level until the level drops below 5.0. This will provide you with a valid, objective parameter to let you know if the information I am sharing is correct for you and your family.

Sales are Sweet for Agave Companies and Bad for You and Your Family

Growing consumer resistance to HFCS has been a hole-in-one for the agave industry. Need a healthy alternative to those evil HFS products?

Agave syrup to the rescue!

In case you doubt the influence of marketing in setting trends and consumer buying habits, look at these statistics:[iii]

  • New agave products more than tripled in number between 2003 and 2007, from 56 to 176. Agave syrup is now appearing in products such as energy bars, cereals and organic ice creams.

  • Revenues for the category "other liquid sweeteners," which includes agave, rose to more than $10.3 million in 2007, which was a 50 percent jump from 2006.

  • McCormick & Co., a major food manufacturer, placed agave syrup in its "top 10 flavors" list for 2009.

  • Two of Mexico’s largest agave syrup manufacturers, Iidea and Nekutli, are sending increasingly large shipments of agave syrup to Germany, Japan and New Zealand due to growing global popularity.

Agave is also quickly crossing over from the health food market to mainstream grocery chains, restaurants and taverns, and consumers (especially vegans and raw food enthusiasts) are replacing their honey and maple syrup with bottles of agave after being duped into believing it’s a more healthful alternative.

The Myth of Agave as a "Healthy" Sugar Substitute

It’s important for you and your family’s health to remember that agave syrup is neither healthy nor natural.

As reported by Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health:

"Agave is almost all fructose, a highly processed sugar with great marketing."

Agave syrup is not low calorie -- it has about 16 calories per teaspoon, the same as sucrose (table sugar). The glycemic index is immaterial, once you understand the full extent of the risk this product poses to your health.

The consumption of high amounts of sugar is what is inflating America’s waistline, as well as escalating rates of diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease.

Although overall sugar consumption is definitely something to be concerned about, even more problematic is one type of sugar that wreaks extraordinary havoc on your body: FRUCTOSE.

And if you want fructose, agave products next to pure fructose, have the highest percentage of fructose of any sweeteners on the market, over 50 percent more fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

Why You Need to Understand Why Fructose is so Important

All sugars are not created equal, in spite of what you might have been told.

Glucose is the form of energy your cells were actually designed to run on. Every cell in your body, every bacterium -- and in fact, nearly every living thing on the Earth -- uses glucose for energy.

But as a country, regular cane sugar, or sucrose (50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose), is no longer the sugar of choice. It’s now fructose.

This happened in the 1970s as a result of technology that made HFCS far less expensive to produce. Believe me, it was NOT done for its health benefits. This was purely an economic decision.

Let me clear up any confusion here, as fructose is the primary sugar in most fruits. It isn’t that fructose is intrinsically evil -- it is just the MASSIVE DOSES you and your family are exposed to that makes it dangerous. Because it is so cheap and makes foods taste so much better, it is added to virtually every processed food.

There are two overall reasons fructose is so damaging:

  1. Your body metabolizes fructose in a much different way than glucose. Fructose is broken down in your liver just like alcohol and produces many of the side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the "beer belly"

  2. People are consuming fructose in quantities that are 400-800 percent higher than they were 100 years ago due to its pervasive presence in just about all processed foods

Fructose Turns to Fat and Makes You Fat!

Unlike fructose which is nearly exclusively broken down in your liver and is directly converted to dangerous fats. This is one of the reasons why fructose is the leading cause of obesity. However, only 20 percent of glucose is metabolized in your liver. This is related to the fact that nearly every cell in your body can directly use glucose as a fuel source, so it’s normally "burned up" immediately after consumption.

It is also important to understand that the fructose in fruits and vegetables is not the same fructose molecule you’ll find in synthetic high-fructose corn syrup, which is manufactured in the lab. Naturally occurring fructose comes along with fiber, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, whereas fructose sweeteners have no nutritional value at all.

Additionally it is actually attached to other sugars and molecules and needs to be broken down before it is absorbed which limits the damage it causes. In HFCS it is a free fructose molecule, just as the glucose. Because these sugars are in their free forms their absorption is radically increased and you actually absorb far more of them had they been in their natural joined state which would cause a higher percentage of the fructose to pass to the intestine unabsorbed.

But the menace of fructose doesn’t stop there.

  1. Fructose also elevates your uric acid levels, which is actually more dangerous than elevated cholesterol levels as it causes chronic, low-level inflammation, which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis and premature aging.

  2. Fructose also "tricks" your body into gaining weight by fooling your metabolism -- it actually severely impairs your body’s normal appetite-control systems.

  3. Excessive fructose rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity ("beer belly"), decreased HDL, increased LDL, elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure -- i.e., classic metabolic syndrome.

  4. Fructose metabolism is very similar to alcohol metabolism, which has a multitude of toxic effects, including NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Metabolically it’s very similar to drinking alcohol without the buzz.

Remember to RADICALLY Reduce Your Fructose

These biological changes are not seen when humans or animals eat starch (or glucose), suggesting that fructose is a "bad carbohydrate" when consumed in excess of 25 grams per day.

However, it is important to remember that because fructose is so cheap it is added to nearly all processed foods. So even if you are seeking to eliminate it from your diet you will EASILY exceed 25 grams per day because it is "hidden" in so many foods. This is made worse by the deceptive and lax labeling laws which frequently allow gigantic loopholes for agribusiness to include it in the product and not identify it.

Making matters worse, your body easily becomes sensitized to fructose.

Fructose activates its own pathways in your body—those metabolic pathways become "upregulated." In other words, the more fructose you eat, the more effective your body is in absorbing it; and the more you absorb, the more damage you’ll do.

You become "sensitized" to fructosr as time goes by, and more sensitive to its toxic effects as well.

Let me be clear that it isn’t fructose that is the problem -- but excessive fructose. And especially the concentrated amounts of fructose that your body was NEVER designed to process, such as what’s in HFCS and agave syrup.

Agave nectar is EVEN WORSE than HFCS because it’s even higher in fructose than HFCS (80 percent and higher), making it an even worse metabolic menace.

Other Reasons You Should Steer Clear of Agave

  1. Poor Quality Control. There are very few quality controls in place to monitor the production of agave syrup. Nearly all agave sold in the U.S. comes from Mexico. Industry insiders are concerned that agave producers are using lesser, even toxic, agave plants due to a shortage of blue agave.

  2. Pesticides. There are also concerns that some distributors are cutting agave syrup with corn syrup -- how often and to what extent is anyone’s guess. In addition, the FDA has refused shipments of agave syrup due to excessive pesticide residues.

  3. Saponins. Agave is known to contain large amounts of saponins. Saponins are toxic steroid derivatives, capable of disrupting red blood cells and producing diarrhea and vomiting. There is also a possible link between saponins and miscarriage by stimulating blood flow to the uterus, so if you’re pregnant, you should definitely avoid agave products.

  4. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). Some agave syrups contain a contaminant called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF, also called 5-hydroxymethyl furfural), an organic heat-formed compound that arises in the processing of fructose -- in both agave syrup and HFCS. HMF has potential toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects[iv]. HMF is EXTREMELY toxic to honey bees, which is a problem since commercial beekeepers feed HFCS to the bees to stimulate honey production when field-gathered nectar sources are scarce[v].

  5. Nutrient Void. Agave syrup is not a whole food -- it is fractionated and processed, devoid of the nutrients contained in the original, whole plant.

  6. Enzymes. Agave syrup is not a live food. The natural enzymes are removed to prevent agave syrup from fermenting and turning into tequila in your food pantry or cabinet.

  7. Addictiveness. Agave is, for all intents and purposes, highly concentrated sugar. Sugar and sweeteners wreak havoc on your health and are highly addictive.

What are Acceptable Alternatives to Agave?

If you are craving something sweet, your best bet is to reach for an apple or a pear. And if you give yourself a sugar holiday for even a couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much those cravings will decrease. But be sure and count the grams of fructose and keep your total fructose from fruit below 15 grams per day as you are sure to consume plenty of "hidden" fructose in the other foods you will be eating.

You can use the table below to help you count your fructose grams.

Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Limes 1 medium 0
Lemons 1 medium 0.6
Cranberries 1 cup 0.7
Passion fruit 1 medium 0.9
Prune 1 medium 1.2
Apricot 1 medium 1.3
Guava 2 medium 2.2
Date (Deglet Noor style) 1 medium 2.6
Cantaloupe 1/8 of med. melon 2.8
Raspberries 1 cup 3.0
Clementine 1 medium 3.4
Kiwifruit 1 medium 3.4
Blackberries 1 cup 3.5
Star fruit 1 medium 3.6
Cherries, sweet 10 3.8
Strawberries 1 cup 3.8
Cherries, sour 1 cup 4.0
Pineapple 1 slice
(3.5" x .75")
Grapefruit, pink or red 1/2 medium 4.3
Fruit Serving Size Grams of Fructose
Boysenberries 1 cup 4.6
Tangerine/mandarin orange 1 medium 4.8
Nectarine 1 medium 5.4
Peach 1 medium 5.9
Orange (navel) 1 medium 6.1
Papaya 1/2 medium 6.3
Honeydew 1/8 of med. melon 6.7
Banana 1 medium 7.1
Blueberries 1 cup 7.4
Date (Medjool) 1 medium 7.7
Apple (composite) 1 medium 9.5
Persimmon 1 medium 10.6
Watermelon 1/16 med. melon 11.3
Pear 1 medium 11.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 12.3
Grapes, seedless (green or red) 1 cup 12.4
Mango 1/2 medium 16.2
Apricots, dried 1 cup 16.4
Figs, dried 1 cup 23.0

If you feel you must have a sweetener, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners.
  • Avoid agave like the plague.
  • Limit sugar of all types as much as possible. You can buy pure glucose (dextrose) as a sweetener for about $1 per pound, which has none of the adverse effects of fructose if used moderately. It is only 70 percent as sweet as sucrose, so you’ll end up using a bit more of it for the same amount of sweetness, making it slightly more expensive than sucrose -- but still well worth it for your health.
  • Use raw, organic honey in moderation or avoid it completely as it is 70 percent fructose which is higher than HFCS. However the fructose is not in its free from so that moderates the damage. But each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose so you will want to carefully add the total grams of fructose (including fruits) and keep them under 15 grams per day.
  • Use regular stevia in moderation, but avoid stevia-based sweeteners like Truvia and PureVia because they have undergone more processing.
  • Lo Han is another excellent natural herbal sweetener.
  • Exercise can be a very powerful tool to help control fructose in a number of ways. If you are going to consume fructose it is BEST to do so immediately before, during or after INTENSE exercise as your body will tend to use it directly as fuel and not convert it to fat Additionally exercise will increase your insulin receptor sensitivity and help modulate the negative effects of fructose. Lastly exercise will also help to blunt your appetite and control your sweet tooth.

If you have insulin issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or if you’re overweight, I suggest you avoid all sweeteners, including stevia, since any sweetener can decrease your insulin sensitivity.

Related Links:

28 March 2010

A Closer Look at Obama Care

Just a week ago the Health Reform Legislation passed Congress and was signed into law by the President. Most of us do not understand the implications of this bill. On the surface it sounds good. Who could be against 'Health Reform' that ensures the uninsured? But as often is the case, "The devil is in the details". The following article is written by one of the students in the Power Study Group at Howard University who has taken a closer look at what the bill actually says. It may be far different from what you think it says.

On Sat, Mar 27, 2010 at 1:55 AM, Jalil Muhammad wrote:
ASA Doc,
Below is an article, inspired by our most recent Study Group regarding health care, written by Brother Jericho X.
"The following statements are taken from Sec. 1501. Requirement To Maintain Minimum Essential Coverage which is part of H.R. 3590 more commonly known as the “Health Care Reform Bill”. Let me first explain what this section is referring to. Requirement to maintain essential coverage is a government mandate that requires all U.S. citizens to have health insurance, that is, citizens are required by law to purchase health insurance from a private company. The exceptions being if you have employee-based health coverage or if you can’t afford minimum coverage. However, to viably say you cannot afford minimum coverage means at the very least that you are living 100% below the poverty level. Currently the poverty level for a family of 4 is set at $22,050 a year. So let’s be very clear, the United States government and the Obama administration is not providing health care for anyone, they are simply ordering everyone to buy health care. Let’s also remember that Medicaid and Medicare have been around since the 1960’s so don’t try and use the argument that “oh, if you can’t afford it you can just get on Medicaid”, that was true before the passage of this bill. And so to counter any arguments that this is just conspiracy theory or crazy talk let’s look at what the bill says about itself:

Sec. 1501. (a) The individual responsibility requirement provided for in this section is commercial and economic in nature. The requirement regulates activity that is commercial and economic in nature: economic and financial decisions about how and when health care is paid for, and when health insurance is purchased. Health insurance and health care services are a significant part of the national economy. The requirement, together with other provisions of this Act, will add millions of new consumers to the health insurance market, increasing supply of, and demand for , health care services.

Now please tell me where in this passage does it actually mention the health of the people? As a matter of fact show me where it actually refers to people and not to consumers. What is it that these health care companies are selling to these consumers? Drugs, drugs, and more drugs. The United States, unlike every other civilization in history, practices Allopathic medicine. Allopathic medicine is a system of medical practice which treats disease by the use of drugs which produce effects different from those produced by the disease (we call them side-effects). However, if given to healthy people these drugs are capable of producing the same effects as the disease itself. Now let’s look at this situation another way using the example of the police, the drug-dealer, and the junkies. The drug-dealers use to discriminate against some of the junkies and wouldn’t get them high so the junkies had to resort to robbing and stealing or they would die in the street. When the police had to deal with the junkies it consumed valuable time and money so they got an idea. The police decided to force the drug-dealers not to discriminate anymore and make them sell their drugs to everyone, but there was a problem some of the junkies were trying to get clean. So not only did the police have to force the drug-dealers to stop discriminating but they had to force the junkies to continue to buy the drugs. So now the junkies are oppressed by the police and in debt to the drug-dealers but they don’t care cause they’re high as the skyyyy and we all applaud a so-called victory for the people.

You see the problem isn’t people being uninsured, the problem is that the medical system in this country is not designed to cure disease only to treat the symptoms. The system itself is flawed and so forcing people to buy into a broken system is not a solution, especially when considering the shortage in the amount of doctors and nurses who are charged with treating the supposedly 38 million newly insured people. However, this goes far beyond health care, because congress has just set a precedent. They have passed a law mandating the public to buy a service from a private corporation, this is a power they do not have and according to the constitution any power not given to congress is delegated to the states. So across the nation are scores of people cheering and applauding as America takes it’s first steps into fascist communism by blatantly infringing on state’s rights and defecating on its own constitution."

27 March 2010

To Bee or Not to Bee

If the bees are in trouble, then you are in trouble. Our life is dependent on other life. It's an intertwined web of connectivity. What is affecting the bees - killing them off in droves- also affects all of us who depend on the food that is grown due to the pollination carried out by the bees. What is causing the four year on-going collapse in the bee population all over the world? Is it pesticides, chem-trails, high fructose corn syrup, viruses, bacteria, cell phone radiation- ? Nobody seems to know for sure.
Albert Einstein once said: “If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination … no more men!”
Was he right? Is that what is taking place now?
What should we be doing to save the bees whose hard work has made our life on this planet possible? Shouldn't we be their natural protectors?
If we intend to survive shouldn't we do something?
Enjoy. Learn. Share.
Bees in more trouble than ever after bad winter

By GARANCE BURKE and SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press Writers Wed Mar 24, MERCED, Calif. – The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees' pollen and hives laden with pesticides.
Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on pesticides used in fields and orchards. Federal courts are even weighing in this month, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overlooked a requirement when allowing a pesticide on the market.
And on Thursday, chemists at a scientific conference in San Francisco will tackle the issue of chemicals and dwindling bees in response to the new study.
Scientists are concerned because of the vital role bees play in our food supply. About one-third of the human diet is from plants that require pollination from honeybees, which means everything from apples to zucchini.
Bees have been declining over decades from various causes. But in 2006 a new concern, "colony collapse disorder," was blamed for large, inexplicable die-offs. The disorder, which causes adult bees to abandon their hives and fly off to die, is likely a combination of many causes, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and pesticides, experts say.
"It's just gotten so much worse in the past four years," said Jeff Pettis, research leader of the Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. "We're just not keeping bees alive that long."
This year bees seem to be in bigger trouble than normal after a bad winter, according to an informal survey of commercial bee brokers cited in an internal USDA document. One-third of those surveyed had trouble finding enough hives to pollinate California's blossoming nut trees, which grow the bulk of the world's almonds. A more formal survey will be done in April.
"There were a lot of beekeepers scrambling to fill their orders and that implies that mortality was high," said Penn State University bee researcher Dennis vanEngelsdorp, who worked on the USDA snapshot survey.
Beekeeper Zac Browning shipped his hives from Idaho to California to pollinate the blossoming almond groves. He got a shock when he checked on them, finding hundreds of the hives empty, abandoned by the worker bees.
The losses were extreme, three times higher than the previous year.
"It wasn't one load or two loads, but every load we were pulling out that was dead. It got extremely depressing to see a third of my livestock gone," Browning said, standing next to stacks of dead bee colonies in a clearing near Merced, at the center of California's fertile San Joaquin Valley.
Among all the stresses to bee health, it's the pesticides that are attracting scrutiny now. A study published Friday in the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) One found about three out of five pollen and wax samples from 23 states had at least one systemic pesticide — a chemical designed to spread throughout all parts of a plant.
EPA officials said they are aware of problems involving pesticides and bees and the agency is "very seriously concerned."
The pesticides are not a risk to honey sold to consumers, federal officials say. And the pollen that people eat is probably safe because it is usually from remote areas where pesticides are not used, Pettis said. But the PLOS study found 121 different types of pesticides within 887 wax, pollen, bee and hive samples.
"The pollen is not in good shape," said Chris Mullin of Penn State University, lead author.
None of the chemicals themselves were at high enough levels to kill bees, he said, but it was the combination and variety of them that is worrisome.
University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum called the results "kind of alarming."
Despite EPA assurances, environmental groups don't think the EPA is doing enough on pesticides.
Bayer Crop Science started petitioning the agency to approve a new pesticide for sale in 2006. After reviewing the company's studies of its effects on bees, the EPA gave Bayer conditional approval to sell the product two years later, but said it had to carry a label warning that it was "potentially toxic to honey bee larvae through residues in pollen and nectar."
The Natural Resources Defense Council sued, saying the agency failed to give the public timely notice for the new pesticide application. In December, a federal judge in New York agreed, banning the pesticide's sale and earlier this month, two more judges upheld the ruling.
"This court decision is obviously very painful for us right now, and for growers who don't have access to that product," said Jack Boyne, an entomologist and spokesman for Bayer Crop Science. "This product quite frankly is not harmful to honeybees."
Boyne said the pesticide was sold for only about a year and most sales were in California, Arizona and Florida. The product is intended to disrupt the mating patterns of insects that threaten citrus, lettuce and grapes, he said.
Berenbaum's research shows pesticides are not the only problem. She said multiple viruses also are attacking the bees, making it tough to propose a single solution.
"Things are still heading downhill," she said.
For Browning, one of the country's largest commercial beekeepers, the latest woes have led to a $1 million loss this year.
"It's just hard to get past this," he said, watching as workers cleaned honey from empty wooden hives Monday. "I'm going to rebuild, but I have plenty of friends who aren't going to make it."
AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein reported from Washington, D.C.

25 March 2010

Nano-Robot Food Is Here -YUMMY

Could you tell that these peppers are nano-peppers? Or that this ice-cream is nanoized? How about this ketchup that pours all the way out of the bottle without shaking because of the wonders of nano-technology now being added to food products all over the world? Just read the label right? Wrong. Nano food, like GMO foods (Frankenstein foods) can be sold to the public without a mention of the fact on the label. In fact, 'regulators' like the impotent FDA don't have a clue as to whether or not nano-foods are on the market already. I bet the corporations know, since they are the ones doing all this. Why don't they want people to know what their so-called food is made of? Suppose somebody really was into GMO or nano foods - Don't they have a need to know how to tell the difference between the high tech stuff and the natural foods? How is one to be thoroughly modern if one can't make an intelligent choice to eat GMO if one wants to? Put it on the label to help the nano-eaters out!

Nano-Foods Coming to a Store Near You

Andrew Schneider Senior Public Health CorrespondentAOL News
Second in a Three-Part Series(March 24)

- For centuries, it was the cook and the heat of the fire that cajoled taste, texture, flavor and aroma from the pot. Today, that culinary voodoo is being crafted by white-coated scientists toiling in pristine labs, rearranging atoms into chemical particles never before seen. At last year's Institute of Food Technologists international conference, nanotechnology was the topic that generated the most buzz among the 14,000 food-scientists, chefs and manufacturers crammed into an Anaheim, Calif., hall. Though it's a word that has probably never been printed on any menu, and probably never will, there was so much interest in the potential uses of nanotechnology for food that a separate daylong session focused just on that subject was packed to overflowing. In one corner of the convention center, a chemist, a flavorist and two food-marketing specialists clustered around a large chart of the Periodic Table of Elements (think back to high school science class). The food chemist, from China, ran her hands over the chart, pausing at different chemicals just long enough to say how a nano-ized version of each would improve existing flavors or create new ones.
Also in This Series:- Amid Nanotech's Dazzling Promise, Health Risks Grow- Obsession With Growth Stymies Regulators- Why Nanotech Hasn't (Yet) Triggered the 'Yuck Factor'- Nano-Products Are EverywhereBackground:- Primer: How Nanotechnology Works- Timeline: Nanotech's Evolution- Chart: Funding Shortchanges Safety- Key Findings of This InvestigationOne of the marketing guys questioned what would happen if the consumer found out.The flavorist asked whether the Food and Drug Administration would even allow nanoingredients.Posed a variation of the latter question, Dr. Jesse Goodman, the agency's chief scientist and deputy commissioner for science and public health, gave a revealing answer. He said he wasn't involved enough with how the FDA was handling nanomaterials in food to discuss that issue. And the agency wouldn't provide anyone else to talk about it. This despite the fact that hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have shown that nanoparticles pose potential risks to human health -- and, more specifically, that when ingested can cause DNA damage that can prefigure cancer and heart and brain disease.Despite Denials, Nano-Food Is Here Officially, the FDA says there aren't any nano-containing food products currently sold in the U.S.Not true, say some of the agency's own safety experts, pointing to scientific studies published in food science journals, reports from foreign safety agencies and discussions in gatherings like the Institute of Food Technologists conference. In fact, the arrival of nanomaterial onto the food scene is already causing some big-chain safety managers to demand greater scrutiny of what they're being offered, especially with imported food and beverages. At a conference in Seattle last year hosted by leading food safety attorney Bill Marler, presenters raised the issue of how hard it is for large supermarket companies to know precisely what they are purchasing, especially with nanomaterials, because of the volume and variety they deal in.

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According to a USDA scientist, some Latin American packers spray U.S.-bound produce with a wax-like nanocoating to extend shelf-life. "We found no indication that the nanocoating ... has ever been tested for health effects," the researcher says.Craig Wilson, assistant vice president for safety for Costco, says his chain does not test for nanomaterial in the food products it is offered by manufacturers. But, he adds, Costco is looking "far more carefully at everything we buy. ... We have to rely on the accuracy of the labels and the integrity of our vendors. Our buyers know that if they find nanomaterial or anything else they might consider unsafe, the vendors either remove it, or we don't buy it."Another government scientist says nanoparticles can be found today in produce sections in some large grocery chains and vegetable wholesalers. This scientist, a researcher with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, was part of a group that examined Central and South American farms and packers that ship fruits and vegetables into the U.S. and Canada. According to the USDA researcher -- who asked that his name not be used because he's not authorized to speak for the agency -- apples, pears, peppers, cucumbers and other fruit and vegetables are being coated with a thin, wax-like nanocoating to extend shelf-life. The edible nanomaterial skin will also protect the color and flavor of the fruit longer."We found no indication that the nanocoating, which is manufactured in Asia, has ever been tested for health effects," said the researcher.

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A science committee of the British House of Lords has found that nanomaterials are already appearing in numerous products, among them salad dressings and sauces. Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, says that they're also being added to ice cream to make it "look richer and better textured."Some foreign governments, apparently more worried about the influx of nano-related products to their grocery shelves, are gathering their own research. In January, a science committee of the British House of Lords issued a lengthy study on nanotechnology and food. Scores of scientific groups and consumer activists and even several international food manufactures told the committee investigators that engineered particles were already being sold in salad dressings; sauces; diet beverages; and boxed cake, muffin and pancakes mixes, to which they're added to ensure easy pouring. Other researchers responding to the committee's request for information talked about hundreds more items that could be in stores by year's end. For example, a team in Munich has used nano-nonstick coatings to end the worldwide frustration of having to endlessly shake an upturned mustard or ketchup bottle to get at the last bit clinging to the bottom. Another person told the investigators that Nestlé and Unilever have about completed developing a nano-emulsion-based ice cream that has a lower fat content but retains its texture and flavor. The Ultimate Secret Ingredient Nearly 20 of the world's largest food manufacturers -- among them Nestlé, as well as Hershey, Cargill, Campbell Soup, Sara Lee, and H.J. Heinz -- have their own in-house nano-labs, or have contracted with major universities to do nano-related food product development. But they are not eager to broadcast those efforts.

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A team in Munich, the House of Lords investigators also learned, is using nano-nonstick coatings to make it easier to get the last drops of ketchup out of the bottle.Kraft was the first major food company to hoist the banner of nanotechnology. Spokesman Richard Buino, however, now says that while "we have sponsored nanotech research at various universities and research institutions in the past," Kraft has no labs focusing on it today.The
stance is in stark contrast to the one Kraft struck in late 2000, when it loudly and repeatedly proclaimed that it had formed the Nanotek Consortium with engineers, molecular chemists and physicists from 15 universities in the U.S. and abroad. The mission of the team was to show how nanotechnology would completely revolutionize the food manufacturing industry, or so said its then-director, Kraft research chemist Manuel Marquez.But by the end of 2004, the much-touted operation seemed to vanish. All mentions of Nanotek Consortium disappeared from Kraft's news releases and corporate reports."We have not nor are we currently using nanotechnology in our products or packaging," Buino added in another e-mail. Industry Tactics Thwart Risk AwarenessThe British government investigation into nanofood strongly criticized the U.K.'s food industry for "failing to be transparent about its research into the uses of nanotechnologies and nanomaterials." On this side of the Atlantic, corporate secrecy isn't a problem, as some FDA officials tell it. Investigators on Capitol Hill say the FDA's congressional liaisons have repeatedly assured them -- from George W. Bush's administration through President Barack Obama's first year -- that the big U.S. food companies have been upfront and open about their plans and progress in using nanomaterial in food. But FDA and USDA food safety specialists interviewed over the past three months stressed that based on past performance, industry cannot be relied on to voluntarily advance safety efforts. These government scientists, who are actively attempting to evaluate the risk of introducing nanotechnology to food, say that only a handful of corporations are candid about what they're doing and collaborating with the FDA and USDA to help develop regulations that will both protect the public and permit their products to reach market. Most companies, the government scientists add, submit little or no information unless forced. Even then, much of the information crucial to evaluating hazards -- such as the chemicals used and results of company health studies -- is withheld, with corporate lawyers claiming it constitutes confidential business information. Both regulators and some industry consultants say the evasiveness from food manufacturers could blow up in their faces. As precedent, they point to what happened in the mid-'90s with genetically modified food, the last major scientific innovation that was, in many cases, force-fed to consumers. "There was a lack of transparency on what companies were doing. So promoting genetically modified foods was perceived by some of the public as being just profit-driven," says Professor Rickey Yada of the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada."In retrospect, food manufacturers should have highlighted the benefits that the technology could bring as well as discussing the potential concerns."Eating Nanomaterials Could Increase Underlying Risks The House of Lords' study identified "severe shortfalls" in research into the dangers of nanotechnology in food. Its authors called for funding studies that address the behavior of nanomaterials within the digestive system. Similar recommendations are being made in the U.S., where the majority of research on nanomaterial focuses on it entering the body via inhalation and absorption. The food industry is very competitive, with thin profit margins. And safety evaluations are very expensive, notes Bernadene Magnuson, senior scientific and regulatory consultant with risk-assessment firm Cantox Health Sciences International. "You need to be pretty sure you've got something that's likely to benefit you and your product in some way before you're going to start launching into safety evaluations," she explains. Magnuson believes that additional studies must be done on chronic exposure to and ingestion of nanomaterials.One of the few ingestion studies recently completed was a two-year-long examination of nano-titanium dioxide at UCLA, which showed that the compound caused DNA and chromosome damage after lab animals drank large quantities of the particles in their water.

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Sono-Tek, a company based in Milton, N.Y., employs nanotechnology in its industrial sprayers. "One new application for us is spraying nanomaterial suspensions onto biodegradable plastic food wrapping materials to preserve the freshness of food products," says its chairman and CEO. It is widely known that nano-titanium dioxide is used as filler in hundreds of medicines and cosmetics and as a blocking agent in sunscreens. But Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, worries that the danger is greater "when the nano-titanium dioxide is used in food." Ice cream companies, Hanson says, are using nanomaterials to make their products "look richer and better textured." Bread makers are spraying nanomaterials on their loaves "to make them shinier and help them keep microbe-free longer." While AOL News was unable to identify a company pursuing the latter practice, it did find
Sono-Tek of Milton, N.Y., which uses nanotechnology in its industrial sprayers. "One new application for us is spraying nanomaterial suspensions onto biodegradable plastic food wrapping materials to preserve the freshness of food products," says Christopher Coccio, chairman and CEO. He said the development of this nano-wrap was partially funded by New York State's Energy Research and Development Authority. "This is happening," Hanson says. He calls on the FDA to "immediately seek a ban on any products that contain these nanoparticles, especially those in products that are likely to be ingested by children." "The UCLA study means we need to research the health effects of these products before people get sick, not after," Hanson says. There is nothing to mandate that such safety research take place. The FDA's Blind Spot The FDA includes titanium dioxide among the food additives it classifies under the designation "generally recognized as safe," or GRAS. New additives with that label can bypass extensive and costly health testing that is otherwise required of items bound for grocery shelves. A report issued last month by the Government Accountability Office denounced the enormous loophole that the FDA has permitted through the GRAS classification. And the GAO investigators also echoed the concerns of consumer and food safety activists who argue that giving nanomaterials the GRAS free pass is perilous.Food safety agencies in Canada and the European Union require all ingredients that incorporate engineered nanomaterials to be submitted to regulators before they can be put on the market, the GAO noted. No so with the FDA. "Because GRAS notification is voluntary and companies are not required to identify nanomaterials in their GRAS substances, FDA has no way of knowing the full extent to which engineered nanomaterials have entered the U.S. food supply," the GAO told Congress. Amid that uncertainty, calls for safety analysis are growing. "Testing must always be done," says food regulatory consultant George Burdock, a toxicologist and the head of the Burdock Group. "Because if it's nanosized, its chemical properties will most assuredly be different and so might the biological impact." Will Consumers Swallow What Science Serves Up Next? Interviews with more than a dozen food scientists revealed strikingly similar predictions on how the food industry will employ nanoscale technology. They say firms are creating nanostructures to enhance flavor, shelf life and appearance. They even foresee using encapsulated or engineered nanoscale particles to create foods from scratch. Experts agreed that the first widespread use of nanotechnology to hit the U.S. food market would be nanoscale packing materials and nanosensors for food safety, bacteria detection and traceability. While acknowledging that many more nano-related food products are on the way, Magnuson, the industry risk consultant, says the greatest degree of research right now is directed at food safety and quality. "Using nanotechnology to improve the sensitivity and speed of detection of food-borne pathogens in the food itself or in the supply chain or in the processing equipment could be lifesaving," she says. For example, researchers at Clemson University, according to USDA, have used nanoparticles to identify campylobacter, a sometimes-lethal food-borne pathogen, in poultry intestinal tracts prior to processing. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, food scientist Julian McClements and his colleagues have developed time-release nanolaminated coatings to add bioactive components to food to enhance delivery of ingredients to help prevent diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and hypertension. But if the medical benefits of such an application are something to cheer, the prospect of eating them in the first place isn't viewed as enthusiastically. Advertising and marketing consultants for food and beverage makers are still apprehensive about a study done two years ago by the German Federal Institute of Risk Assessment, which commissioned pollsters to measure public acceptance of nanomaterials in food. The study showed that only 20 percent of respondents would buy nanotechnology-enhanced food products.Return to The Nanotech Gamble home page. To provide feedback on this series, please write to us at nanotechreport@aolnews.com.
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Smoking and Mental Illness

We all know, or think we know, all the dangers of smoking tobacco. But have you ever considered the mental effects of smoking? Perhaps not. Read the following article which shows the clear association of tobacco and mental health issues such as schizophrenia and habitual criminality. The lung cancer connection was known and hidden for years. Maybe the same is true for the mental illness connection. The mass drugging of a population for the purpose of mind control is nothing new.
Enjoy. Learn. Share.

Tobacco Linked to Mental Illness
March 24, 2010
"Tobacco could not be sold without government support. Some people make the point that tobacco remains legal so that the government can tax it and commit genocide at the same time."by Christine Ross
We all know tobacco can cause lung cancer and heart disease. And we know the mass media suppressed this knowledge for many years due to tobacco industry pressure.

But did you know that smoking tobacco can make you crazy? That's the power of mass media. For years, medical literature has documented that smoking tobacco can cause brain damage. And that same brain damage can lead to insanity, crime, alcoholism, promiscuity, and a host of other ills.

When was the last time you heard that on the evening news? Or that medical research now considers smoking itself to be a form of mental illness?

Visit a mental institution or penitentiary, and you will find the inmates smoke like chimneys. Indeed, the mentally ill smoke 44% of all cigarettes smoked in the USA. A recent Australian study demonstrated that 80% of schizophrenics smoke. (See Notes Below) While not all smokers are criminals, it is a fact that most criminals are smokers. It used to be common knowledge that smoking damaged character. Smoking damages character by causing brain damage in the brain's areas of self-control and morality. For that reason, famed inventor of the light bulb Thomas Edison and auto manufacturer Henry Ford both refused to hire smokers.

Likewise, while not all smokers are alcoholics, it is a fact that most alcoholics are either smokers or former smokers. The fact that tobacco is a gateway drug leading to other drugs like alcohol has been recognized by the medical community for centuries. Dr.
Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in the USA, noted the relation of smoking to alcoholism in his writings 200 years ago.

The power of the mass media to control minds and shape public opinion has altered public perception on smoking. Obviously, inhaling smoke is bad for your health. Your lungs are designed to inhale fresh clean air, not smoke.

Smoking leaves tar over everything it touches - clothing, drapes, carpets, etc. The tar is difficult if not impossible to remove.

Yet movies used to depict a filthy, disgusting habit like smoking as something glamorous and "cool." And countless men and women smoked themselves to death as a result.

There has been much talk in the USA of health care "reform." Yet nowhere does there seem to be any acknowledgment that people have a right to buy products that will not harm them. Or that the sale and promotion ot these products, such as tobacco, is a kind of genocide.
The right to breathe clean, fresh air has been recognized since earliest times. No one seems to mention that in these silly and useless debates on "smokers rights" by the conservative movement.

It is as if the madness of smokers has migrated into the minds of their "defenders." Rather than advocating the banning of the manufacture and sale of tobacco, conservatives erroneously state that smokers have the right to poison the air that we all depend on to survive.

There is no right to pollute the air. Rather, the law has recognized that we need clean, fresh air to survive.

Nevertheless, truth cannot be hidden forever. Like a plant growing through concrete, the truth that tobacco causes much more harm than good is slowly entering public consciousness.

Many smokers erroneously believe that they can calm their nerves and solve their personal problems by smoking. Obviously, no one can find peace of mind by poisoning themselves to death.

The growing public awareness of tobacco's many dangers cannot be suppressed by the media forever. As state after state bans public smoking, eventually they will stop tobacco madness and ban the manufacture and sale of tobacco as a dangerous poison. Maybe then we can all breathe easier.

For more information, see:
"Smoking prevalence is among the highest for people with mental illness - approximately 75 % of individuals with serious mental illness are tobacco dependent compared to 22% of the general population. Individuals with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder consume about 44% of all cigarettes in the United States. People with mental illness also experience higher rates of disease and premature death than the general population and are dying prematurely - 25 years earlier than the general population - largely from tobacco caused diseases." (Bold added)

See: "Persons with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other persons." And, "Persons with a currently active mental disorder consumed 44 per cent of all the cigarettes smoked in this nationally representative sample."--Karen Lasser, MD, et al, "
Smoking and Mental Illness: A Population-Based Prevalence Study," 284 J Am. Med. Ass'n (#20) 2606-2610 (22/29 Nov 2000). (Also at http://www.unhooked.com/ATOD/Lasserjama00.pdf.)

With regard to schizophrenia, here is a study showing that 79% of them smoke:

Wikipedia also says that 80% of schizophrenics smoke:
Tobacco Madnesshttp://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display/article/10168/50461?verify=0
--Christine Ross is a freelance writer and the former host of "Choose Life," radio talk show in Southeastern Virginia on AM 940 WKGM.