Tuesday, September 25, 2012
food & notfood
Juan Cole yesterday observed that the government agencies entrusted with watching out for our health -- The Food and Drug Administration and others -- are no longer doing so. With the guardians of the food supply's purity having been bought off by the very corporations they're supposed to regulate, we're pretty much on our own, and must be our own food police.
"Here are the top ten disturbing news stories about our food that have come across my screen in recent days," says the professor, "and which inspire a certain amount of alarm in me." And he lists them, not necessarily in order of seriousness or danger:
1. Sugary (non-diet) sodas make people fat, and the more a person drinks the greater likelihood he or she will be obese.
2. People who drink sugary sodas out of cans are probably also getting an unhealthy dose of biphenol-A (BPA), which a study at the Journal of the American Medical Association implied also is a major contributor to the obesity plague. BPA is in addition used in clear plastic packaging, and abundant evidence suggests we've all got it. This is why glass bottles are better.
3. There are unacceptably high levels of arsenic in rice grown in the souhtwestern and southern U.S., because it's mostly grown on land that used to be planted in cotton, which in modern times is treated with a defoliant, usually Paraquat, a kissing cousin to Agent Orange. You can get basmati rice from India at Trader Joe's, but watch out for brown house moths. That sounds yucky, but if moths can live and lay eggs in the rice, it shows there are no dangerous levels of toxins present.
4. Current evidence suggest that over-use of antibiotics may encourage our bodies to grow bacteria that excel at converting carbohydrates to fat -- another link in the chain of obesity.
5. A group of 150 scientists and doctors are raising alarms about the routine dosing of livestock with antibiotics. The only way we can keep from eating bovine antibiotics is to avoid eating the livestock, or consuming milk from those animals.
6. Would you like to sprout a few rapidly-growing tumors? Eat genetically modified corn that's been treated with Roundup™.
7. The global collapse of bee colonies will soon be a severe threat to the world's food supply according to recent studies. It's being caused in part by a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, already banned in France and Germany.
8. Indusrialized and frequently government-subsidized overfishing threatens the continued existence of about half of our food species.
9. Algae blooms and dead zones caused by run-off of nitrogen fertilizers from industrial agriculture operations is ruining many of our coastal regions.
10. Forty percent of the US corn harvest goes to ethanol. This drives up the price of grains, and feeds no one.
And before you get mad, thinking this is a doomer post, remember that the first step in remedying a bad situation is finding out how bad it is.