New study links GMOs to conditions that either may trigger or exacerbate gluten-related disorders
A new report links genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with gluten-related disorders and suggests GMOs might be an important environmental trigger for gluten sensitivity, estimated to affect as many as 18 million Americans.
Photo by Lindsay Eyink
The report, released by the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), cites U.S. Department of Agriculture data, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency records, medical journal reviews and international research. The authors say the data link GMOs to five conditions that either may trigger or exacerbate gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder:
- Intestinal permeability
- Imbalanced gut bacteria
- Immune activation and allergic response
- Impaired digestion
- Damage to the intestinal wall
Although wheat has been hybridized over the years, it is not a GMO, which can only be created by a laboratory process that inserts genetic material into plant DNA. Nine GMO food crops currently are being grown for commercial use: soy, corn, cotton (oil), canola (oil), sugar from sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya and alfalfa. In the U.S., GMOs are in as much as 80 percent of conventional processed food, says the Non-GMO Project.
Most GMOs are engineered to tolerate a weed killer called glyphosate and sold under the brand name Roundup. The crops contain high levels of this toxin at harvest. Corn and cotton varieties also are engineered to produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. The report focuses primarily on the effects of these two toxins.
Glyphosate is a patented antibiotic that destroys beneficial gut bacteria. An imbalance of gut flora commonly accompanies celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders, Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, said in the IRT media release.
Bt-toxin in corn is designed to puncture holes in insect cells, but studies show it does the same in human cells, IRT executive director Jeffrey Smith said in the release. Smith said Bt-toxin may be linked to leaky gut, which physicians consistently see in gluten-sensitive patients.
Dr. Emily Linder offered support for the report’s findings. When she removed GMOs as part of the treatment for her patients with gluten sensitivity, she finds her patients recover faster and more completely.
“I believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten-sensitivity in the U.S. population,” Linder said …more
Hunters chasing down their Thanksgiving gobblers may not be able to detect virus from sight alone
As Thanksgiving nears and gravy-drenched pieces of hot turkey induce culinary daydreams, wildlife biologists are trying to connect the dots on a virus that has started to infect North America’s wild turkey population.
Photo by Don Greene
Lymphoproliferative Disease Virus, known as LPDV, has been present in domestic turkeys in Europe and Israel for decades, but in the last few years, biologists have started confirming cases in wild turkeys in the eastern United States. Some of the infected birds have lesions on their head and feet, although many of the sick fowl are not symptomatic, making their identification difficult.
Wild turkeys draw their ecological importance from being an integral part of the food chain. Gobblers, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, provide sustenance to predators like coyotes, foxes, hawks, owls, and people, among other mammals. A landscape without wild turkeys is one that would affect the hunting community and small predators.
At this point, there seems to be as many unknowns about LPDV’s spread in the United States as there is confirmed information, but the researchers are working on answers.
Dr. Justin Brown, assistant research scientist and diagnostician with the University of Georgia’s Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, said his team confirmed its first diagnosis of LPDV in 2009 by a process of elimination. He said the larger wildlife diagnostic laboratories received infected specimens and tested the turkeys for known diseases that cause lymphoid tumors. Brown’s team took the testing one step further, and the discovery was surprising.
“[W]e had a virologist who worked up the case a little bit more and screened it for all of the oncogenic, or cancer-inducing, viruses that are in North America,” Brown said. “And when he came up negative on all those, he screened it for LPDV. … And it came up positive — all tissues.”
Over the next three years after that initial discovery, the team screened more turkey specimens, and 40 cases came back positive for the virus. “[I]nfection can occur even in the absence of tumor formation,” Brown said. “And so from there what we decided to do is sort of expand on this and do a larger survey of turkeys that had no clinical signs of disease, and so …more
Short public comment window ends January 15
On November 15, the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), released its proposed regulations for fracking and other types of well stimulation, as stipulated by SB4. The regulations are the first in California to regulate fracking and acidizing.
Photo by Tim Evanson
Although hailed by regulators and the oil industry as the toughest regulations in the country, they are not. Far from perfect, the regs leave much to be desired in the way of public health and environmental protection.
The proposed regulations do have some steps that move California in the right direction. For example, they:
- Require a permit for the first time in California.
- Mandates disclosure of all chemicals used in the fracking and acidizing process. If a trade secret exemption is claimed, the information will still be available to state officials, emergency responders, and health professionals.
- Require a notice that a fracking job will occur to all property owners and tenant 30 days prior to the start of the project.
- Provides water monitoring, before and after the project, to be paid for by the operator of the well.
- Require well operators to report any seismic events that measure 2.0 magnitude or above.
Unfortunately, the proposed regulations are also loaded with giveaways for the oil industry. In many aspects, it seems that DOGGR has done the minimum required by SB4, and ignores the needs of the environment, and the rights of the Californians. Additionally, the regulations fail to address some of the most pressing concerns that will come from fracking and acidizing Decreased air quality, and increased greenhouse emissions from climate change.
Regulations based on science, that put the needs of Californians above those of corporate profits, will help protect people and the environment. The proposed regulations do not do this, and have written in ways that circumvent existing California law. For example:
Definitions, as written, regarding well stimulation, particularly acidizing, do not conform to accepted definitions used in previous reports, research, and data. DOGGR seems to be attempting to redefine the procedures so regulations don’t apply to some types of well stimulation.…more
Naval training exercises threaten local communities and environment
The United States military assumed control the Mariana Islands during World War II and has been waging war on the environment there ever since. Recent proposals to expand the range for Navy training exercises in this archipelago in the northwestern Pacific Ocean represent the latest frontier in this battle, and could be devastating to local communities as well as wildlife.
Photo by SSgt. B. Zimmerman/Wikimedia Common
By many accounts, military trainings have already had a tremendous impact on the region that’s composed of two US jurisdictions — the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the territory of Guam. Military bombing exercises have destroyed much of at least one island — Farallon de Medinilla — and naval exercises have impacted large tracts of open ocean.
In 2010, the Navy training range in the region was expanded to encompass roughly 500,000 square nautical miles of ocean. “Right now, it is the largest range in [Department of Defense’s] inventory,” says Leevin Camacho, a member of We are Guåhan, a cultural and environmental justice advocacy group in Guam.
The Navy still wants more, and is now asking to nearly double the training range, extending it to 984,469 square nautical miles. It has named this expansion — which is part of the “Pacific Pivot,” a strategy aimed at shifting the US military’s focus to the Asia-Pacific region — the “Mariana Island Training and Testing” (MITT) area.
“[The expanded area] would be larger than Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana and New Mexico combined,” Camacho says.
“The Navy’s whole approach to the Marianas is shoot first and ask questions later,” says Michal Jasny, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We know very little about the populations of whales, dolphins, and other marine life around the Marianas. Yet the navy is proceeding with a massive militarization of the islands and surrounding waters. It is grossly irresponsible to proceed in this way.”
What we do know doesn’t bode well. “We know marine mammals depend on hearing to find mates, to find food, to avoid predators, to situate themselves in the ocean — in short, for virtually everything they need to do to survive and reproduce in the wild,” explains …more
Environment and development groups protest at slow speed and lack of ambition at Warsaw negotiations
Environment and development groups together with young people, trade unions and social movements walked out of the UN climate talks on Thursday in protest at what they say is the slow speed and lack of ambition of the negotiations in Warsaw.
Photo courtesy 350.org
Wearing T-shirts reading "Volverermos" (We will return), around 800 people from organizations including Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, the Confederation and ActionAid, handed back their registration badges to the UN and left Poland's national stadium, where the talks are being held.
"Movements representing people from every corner of the Earth have decided that the best use of our time is to voluntarily withdraw from the Warsaw climate talks. This will be the first time ever that there has been a mass withdrawal from a COP," said a WWF spokesman.
"Warsaw, which should have been an important step in the just transition to a sustainable future, is on track to deliver virtually nothing. We feel that governments have given up on the process," he said.
Frustration with the climate talks has grown in the past two years but progress in this year's conference of the parties (COP) has seen negotiations deadlocked in technical areas, and rich and poor countries at loggerheads over compensation and money. Anger has also mounted over the perceived closeness of governments to industrial lobbies, and because several developed countries have reneged on their commitments to cut emissions.
"The Polish government has done its best to turn these talks into a showcase for the coal industry. Along with backsliding by Japan, Australia and Canada, and the lack of meaningful leadership from other countries, governments here have delivered a slap in the face to those suffering as a result of dangerous climate change," said Kumi Naidoo, director of Greenpeace International.
Hoda Baraka, global communications director for 350.org, said they were walking out because lobbying from fossil fuel companies was impeding progress at the talks.
"It has become quite flagrantly obvious that progress to reach any legally binding climate treaty is being obstructed by the lobbying forces of the fossil fuel industry. As we can see from this COP, …more
UK, US, and Norway to fund drive to save world's forests and encourage sustainable agriculture to cut deforestation
A new $280m initiative to help save the world's remaining forests was launched by the UK, the US and Norway at the United Nations climate change talks in Warsaw on Wednesday.
Deforested area in BhutanWorld Bank
The money is aimed at encouraging the sustainable use of land, including ensuring that fewer forests are lost to agriculture – the biggest cause of deforestation – and that there is a market for sustainably produced forestry goods, including food, fibre and timber.
Norway is earmarking up to $135m, the UK $120 million and the US $25m for the first year.
But the contributors to the fund acknowledged that the money was not new, as it came from existing climate aid budgets. The plan, called BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes, is aimed at kickstarting the REDD+ scheme, for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, which has been in the works for more than six years but is still not fully operational. The World Bank will be involved in its implementation.
Ed Davey, the UK energy and climate change secretary, told the conference: "Our global forests are the lungs of the world, and protecting them is fundamental for our survival. When we hand these forests to future generations, we must be able to say we exercised our stewardship wisely and responsibly. This century, tree-cover the size of Greenland has been destroyed by logging, fire, disease and storms. We have the opportunity now to pull forests back from the brink – reducing emissions and safeguarding the wildlife, agriculture and other livelihoods that depend on the forests. We must not let that opportunity pass us by."
John Kerry, US secretary of state, speaking by video link, said: [This is a] critical new tool to help us meet our responsibilities to future generations. It will help countries make progress on sustainable land use practices. The United States stands with willing partners in the fight against global climate change and I look forward to continuing our work together to ensure a more secure future, not only forested countries but for the entire …more
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