Why the FDA’s plan to reel in antibiotics for livestock puts Americans at risk

Antibiotic-resistant diseases are depriving Americans of good health every year, with 23,000 people dying from diseases that were untreatable because antibiotics failed to work.

This week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sprang into action – 30 or so years into this growing problem — to take aim at a major culprit, perhaps the major culprit, the livestock producers who routinely administer antibiotics to make animals…

The secret life of GM sweet corn

Monsanto’s new GM sweet corn is either a boon to farmers that will help them feed the planet or an ominous new edible in a line up of genetically modified foods that consumers are being force fed. Actually, it could be both, or parts of each. We don’t really know, because there’s not a lot of information on GM sweet corn, or maybe there’s enough information. Take a ride with us through the corn maze to try to find out.

Public health advocates criticize FDA for not stopping meat industry’s rampant antibiotic use

The FDA’s call to the livestock industry to voluntarily limit its routine use of antibiotics is tantamount to taking no action, say critics of the FDA’s plan, announced Wednesday.
The agency “is pretending to act while barely acting at all,” said Avinash Kar, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, who was among several public health advocates who scoffed at the idea that pharmaceutical and livestock companies would change their ways in response to government advice that carries no penalties.

FDA agrees to address antibiotic overuse in livestock

A federal ruling that the Food and Drug Administration must act to control the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed has raised hopes that new stricter rules for these drugs could help preserve them for fighting human diseases.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by environmental and public health groups that have pleaded with the FDA to address antibiotic overuse in the livestock industry. The groups cited studies showing that the routine and daily administration of antibiotics to animals is triggering “super bugs” resistant to antibiotics.

Union of Concerned Scientists raises questions about genetically modified corn for biofuel

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Corn-based ethanol, once a star on the alternative energy scene, has fallen from favor in the past year, battered by reports that raising corn for fuel raids the world’s pantry and that corn ethanol has a heavier carbon footprint than originally thought.

Many now argue over whether the US should continue to grow corn for fuel or make the switch to grasses that can be grown on less desirable land, with fewer pesticides and fertilizers, or use plant waste to make fuel.

Now a new debate looms: Should the US allow genetically altered corn to be grown for use as biofuel?

The Union of Concerned Scientists wants to stop that genie before it leaves the bottle, because it believes that genetically modified corn will inevitably mix with and contaminate corn grown for food products.

Snack attack: China’s melamine scandal infects more foods

By Barbara Kessler

As if we needed another scare this week, the tainted milk scandal in China continues to slip its moorings, with melamine, an industrial chemical never intended for human consumption, turning up Lipton brand “milk tea powder” products destined for Asian markets as well as in good ol’ Nabisco Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches.

International food giant Unilever announced today it was recalling certain Lipton milk teas from Hong Kong and Macau shelves because internal tests found melamine contamination.

Meanwhile, South Korea officials reported finding melamine in Nabisco’s Ritz cracker cheese sandwiches and said they were banning imports of all Chinese-made food products containing powdered milk. (No calls back yet from Lipton or Nabisco.)

Earlier, Cadbury also recalled 11 chocolate bars after tests found a small amount of melamine in six chocolate samples. Hong Kong authorities declared the contamination to be at a “safe level” – but Cadbury said it was still withdrawing the candy, made in Beijing.

Before that it was Mr. Brown Blend Instant Coffee and Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee on the hook for contamination, and…well, the list goes on.

FDA says BPA plastic is safe

By Barbara Kessler

After an outbreak of bad publicity earlier this year over bisphenol-A (BPA), the plastic additive which dozens of studies identify as a potential carcinogen and endocrine disruptor, the U.S. government promised to take another look. Its conclusion: BPA is safe.

The Federal Drug Administration had previously cleared BPA for use in an array of consumer products, such as clear plastic baby bottles, the resin lining in food cans and many other items. It promised a new review of the science after Canada proposed a ban of BPA in baby bottles and manufacturers of polycarbonate water bottles began voluntarily giving up BPA. All cited concerns over the plastics’ tendency to leach when when warmed and possible harmful effects on humans, particularly children.