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Monday, April 30, 2012

Fukushima on Steroids: “Japan is in the Process of Contaminating the Entire Pacific Ocean”

Fukushima on Steroids: “Japan is in the Process of Contaminating the Entire Pacific Ocean” by Mark Sircus

I wish everything I am reporting on were not true, or at least were less true than it appears. It does seem that Japan is in the process of contaminating the entire Pacific Ocean via continued uncontrolled releases of radioactivity at Fukushima.

After low-balling initial estimates of radiation releases, the Japanese authorities now acknowledge that substantial amounts of radioactive material leaked from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactors.[1]
The nuclear disaster in Japan has released radioactive isotopes that have poisoned the country’s soil, food, and water.

The fallout is being rapidly taken up by living things and passed up the food chain with airborne radioactive isotopes reaching around the world but especially in the northern hemisphere where most of the radioactive particles will settle.

Most Americans have no idea what is happening. But within days of the accident at Fukushima radioactive contaminants were detected at monitoring stations in the Pacific Coast states.

Nearly 1% of the “hot” sulfur released from the plant is estimated to have traversed the Pacific to reach southern California beaches.[2]

I don’t think anyone was really ever that happy about nuclear power and nuclear weapons but a lot of money and power were concentrated in the nuclear industry.

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 Many of these people are riding around in limos today very happy with their luxurious lifestyle as the planet quickly becomes more contaminated.

Private companies are abandoning ship from the nuclear industry because the nuclear news is bad no matter how you look at it. And worse, others still in are headed for bad financial doom.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, the operators of 20 U.S. nuclear reactors—including some with licenses that expire soon—do not have sufficient funding for prompt dismantling.

If these reactors can’t keep working, their owners “intend to let them sit like industrial relics for 20 to 60 years or even longer while interest accrues in the reactors’ retirement accounts.”

Within the next 15 years as many as 100 industry-standard 900 MW nuclear reactors, concentrated in the “old nuclear” countries will have to be decommissioned, dismantled and made safe, which is impossible when it comes to nuclear plants and their dirty waste products.

Human stupidity and arrogance has really boomeranged on us in the arena of nuclear power.

It is extremely difficult and painful to entertain the thought that the future of the northern hemisphere—and perhaps even the habitability of the entire planet—is being brought into question. I am not a lone wolf saying this anymore for the story has touched the edge of the mainstream.

The story of the nuclear waste pools was just published in the Huffington Post. I imagine many do read that publication and what they read there should shake people up pretty good.

Pools are 100 feet above the ground and are completely
open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were
demolished by explosions. The pools could possibly topple or collapse
from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake.
Huffington Post
“The urgency of the situation is underscored by the ongoing seismic activity where 13 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0-5.7 have occurred off the northeast coast of Japan between April 14 and 17.

This has been the norm since the first quake and tsunami hit the Dai-Ichi site on March 11 of last year. Larger quakes are expected closer to the power plant,” continues the Huffington Post.

If an earthquake or other event were to cause this pool to drain, this could result in a catastrophic radiological fire that could wipe out most of the northern hemisphere; certainly it would be a massive civilization-breaking event some are suggesting.

Amazingly this is not the only nuclear situation going on. There is a new scare:


Two blasts at a chemical plant in western Japan killed one worker and injured at least 22 others on the 22nd of April. The explosions and fire occurred at a factory operated by comprehensive chemical manufacturer Mitsui Chemicals in Yamaguchi Prefecture, an official at Yamaguchi prefectural police said.

The complex is still on fire, and supposedly 3379 units of radioactive waste(200L in each unit) and uranium for nuclear fuel are preserved in the site.

One of the two missing workers was found dead, nine workers injured, and three residents in the area were also injured (cuts from broken glass). The prefectural government does say the depleted uranium is stored at the complex, but there has been no release of toxic materials from the fire, according to the prefectural government.

Some, on the other hand, are saying that a cloud of depleted uranium is heading towards Hawaii and west coast of the USA. How they would know that I do not know.

Well we have had that before, when the government used depleted uranium in its middle-eastern wars, and no one said anything about it so why would we expect it to be anything different now?

Biological Tipping Points

Are we going to wait until the emergency departments are overwhelmed with patients suffering from radiation sickness before we begin to get alarmed? In reality we really have no idea what is actually going to happen since such events have never happened before—not like this.

Every toxic exposure increases people’s vulnerability to radiation. Toxic accumulation, whether from heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, food additives or preservatives, etc., will each take their toll, weakening our resistance to, or ability to clear radioactive particles from, our bodies.

The human herd has already been vastly weakened by vaccines containing nasty preservatives and other chemicals.

Our dentists have clobbered us with mercury fillings inches from our brains. The air is foul, the water is treated with poisons like fluoride, and many report that the air is full of chemtrails.

The list is endless but especially telling is the tonnage of mercury put into the atmosphere each and every day by the coal-fired electrical plants of the world.

Britain’s most senior accident and emergency doctor told the The Telegraph that weeks of intense pressures had left casualty departments “overwhelmed” with patients.

He said desperately sick people had been left for hours waiting on trolleys, with even those requiring intensive care enduring long delays.

Dozens of National Health Service units have in Britain have cancelled surgery and clinics for outpatients. At least 10 major centers issued “black alerts”—the highest emergency warning—meaning they were at breaking point.

For a large number of reasons it will not be long before modern medicine will be overwhelmed. Allopathic doctors will come up short not knowing what to do since pharmaceuticals just add more toxicity to the mix.

At Chernobyl no spent-fuel
pools were destroyed.

We all are just beginning to grasp that the danger. Technically it boils down to the fact that it’s the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent-fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins that are posing the greatest danger.

I have people writing to me telling me that the problem is astronomically vaster than Chernobyl in both complexity and quantity of substances released and that the total amounts of radiation being reported are way too low.

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 Here I am freaking out that we are at risk for something in the order of the 85 times the radiation of Chernobyl and I hear it could be much worse than that because of the plutonium factor.

I wrote Nuclear Toxicity Syndrome and the second edition of Iodine to address the radioactive dangers we face. We have not only ignored the heavy metal and chemical situation but also radiation exposure—all this adding up to a hugely perilous predicament.

[1] Citizens find radiation far from Fukushima. Science. 2011 Jun 17;332(6036):1368.
[2] Priyadarshi A, Dominguez G, Thiemens MH. Evidence of neutron leakage at the Fukushima nuclear plant from measurements of radioactive 35S in California. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Aug 30;108(35):14422-5.
This article appeared on blog.IMVA.com

Sunday, April 29, 2012

US: ALEC and ExxonMobil Push Loopholes in Fracking Chemical Disclosure Rules

© alternet.org
ALEC and ExxonMobil Push Loopholes in Fracking Chemical Disclosure Rules by Cora Currier

In many states, the chemical make-up of fluid pumped into the ground while fracking is shielded from the public, thanks to laws promoted by ALEC and Exxon Mobil.

One of the key controversies about fracking is the chemical makeup of the fluid that is pumped deep into the ground to break apart rock and release natural gas. Some companies have been reluctant to disclose what's in their fracking fluid. Scientists and environmental advocates argue that, without knowing its precise composition, they can't thoroughly investigate complaints of contamination.

Disclosure requirements vary considerably from state to state, as ProPublica recently charted. In many cases, the rules have been limited by a "trade secrets" provision under which companies can claim that a proprietary chemical doesn't have to be disclosed to regulators or the public.
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 One apparent proponent of the trade secrets caveat? The American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC, a nonprofit group that brings together politicians and corporations to draft and promote conservative, business-friendly legislation. ALEC has been in the spotlight recently because of its support of controversial laws like Florida's "Stand Your Ground" provision. 

This weekend, as part of a story on ALEC's political activity, the New York Times noted that the group recently adopted "model legislation" on fracking chemical disclosure, based on a bill passed in Texas last year. According to the Times, the model bill was "sponsored within ALEC" by ExxonMobil, which runs a major oil and gas operation through its subsidiary, XTO Energy. The advocacy group Common Cause, which provided the documents on ALEC's lobbying efforts to the Times, describes model legislation, in many cases identifying by name the company that proposed it to ALEC's task forces.

ALEC has recently removed its list of model bills from its main website, and did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for XTO Energy confirmed that the company is a member of ALEC, but he did not provide details on the company's involvement with the disclosure bill.

The spokesman said ExxonMobil supports "full disclosure of the ingredients and additives in hydraulic fracturing fluids," but added that when vendors request it, ExxonMobil has "respected the trade secret status of their products." Last year, the company began voluntarily uploading chemical disclosures to FracFocus, a clearinghouse website run by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

In a recent blog post, ALEC claimed that legislators in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, New York and Ohio have introduced versions of its model bill, but many of those states vary in the level of disclosure required and how they handle the trade secrets provision. Laws in 11 states require at least partial disclosure, and the Bureau of Land Management recently drafted disclosure guidelines for drilling on federal land.

These laws have been relatively well-received by environmental advocates, though the trade secrets issue remains a concern for some. In Ohio, for example, proprietary chemicals don't have to be disclosed to regulators or the public. In Pennsylvania, they are disclosed to regulators, and the public can request information on them from the state Department of Environmental Protection on a case-by-case basis.
The Texas law, which ALEC cites in the post as its template, codifies the trade secrets exemption, and who can challenge it:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In New US "Bioeconomy", Industry Trumps Environment

Critics warn that the formulation of the
National Bioeconomy Blueprint focuses
too much on economic concerns,
placing too little emphasis on either
social issues or on the environment itself.
(Orlando Florin Rosu/Fotolia.com)
In New US "Bioeconomy", Industry Trumps Environment by Carey L. Biron

Petrochemical industry looks to profit from unregulated biotechnology market


WASHINGTON - The White House on Thursday announced the formulation of the National Bioeconomy Blueprint, aimed at shoring up the U.S. commitment to bioscience-related research.

 But critics warn that the new program focuses too much on economic concerns, placing too little emphasis on either social issues or on the environment itself.

"We're disappointed to see what finally came out," Eric Hoffman, a Washington-based campaigner with Friends of the Earth, an international NGO, told IPS. "This report largely seems to be an endorsement for the biotechnology industry to rush ahead without any real oversight."

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The biotechnology industry "says that it has been calling for this type of legislation for long time," Hoffman notes. "That makes sense, given that the industry stands to gain the most from the types of policies laid out in the Blueprint."

Hoffman says that the biotechnology industry includes many of the largest oil and petrochemical producers – ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Monsanto, Dow. The lack of plans for government regulation apparent in the Blueprint leaves him pessimistic that much "clean, green" technology will come out of the new effort.
He also points to a recent study by the Woodrow Wilson Center, based here, that found that "zero percent" of federal funding of synthetic biology was going into risk assessment. "That's not how you have an honest policy debate," he says.

The government itself defines the bioeconomy as "economic activity powered by research and innovation in the biosciences". In the Blueprint, the issue of environmental concerns is dealt with only tangentially, although the general push is to phase out fossil fuels and industrial materials in favor of organically based compounds and "green" approaches.

Read more..

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Family Farm Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America

The Family Farm Is Being Systematically Wiped Out Of Existence In America - Economic Collapse Blog

An entire way of life is rapidly dying right in front of our eyes. The family farm is being systematically wiped out of existence in America, and big agribusiness and the federal government both have blood all over their hands.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farms in the United States has fallen from about 6.8 million in 1935 to only about 2 million today.  That doesn’t mean that there is less farming going on.  U.S. farms are producing more than ever.  But what it does mean is that farming is increasingly becoming dominated by the big boys.  The rules of the game have been tilted in favor of big agribusiness so dramatically that most small farmers find that they simply cannot compete anymore.  Back in 1900, about 39 percent of the U.S. population worked on farms.  At this point, only about 2 percent of all Americans now live on farms.  Big agribusiness, the food processing conglomerates, and big seed companies such as Monsanto completely dominate the industry.  Unless something dramatic is done, the family farm is going to continue to be wiped out of existence.  Unfortunately, it does not look like things are going to turn around any time soon.

The way that the farming industry is structured today, it is simply not economically feasible to operate a small family farm.  According to Farm Aid, every week approximately 330 farmers leave their land for good.
Many old timers are trying to hang on for as long as they can.  A very large percentage of family farmers are in their fifties, sixties or seventies at this point.  Today, only about 6 percent of all farmers are under the age of 35.

Most young people these days are not too eager to choose farming as a career.  A lot of young adults that grew up on family farms have decided that investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a business that requires you to work 12 hours or more per day most of the year for very meager wages is simply not worth it.

In recent years, many family farmers have been forced to find second jobs in order to support their families.  Many farm families are constantly on the verge of financial ruin.  It is a really tough life for many of them.
Sadly, less than 25 percent of all farms in America bring in gross revenues in excess of $50,000.  The following comes from the EPA website….
It has been estimated that living expenses for the average farm family exceed $47,000 per year. Clearly, many farms that meet the U.S. Census’ definition would not produce sufficient income to meet farm family living expenses. In fact, fewer than 1 in 4 of the farms in this country produce gross revenues in excess of $50,000.
On top of everything else, the federal government and many state governments just keep endlessly piling more rules and regulations on to the backs of farmers.

Big agribusiness has the resources to deal with all of these regulations fairly well, but most family farms do not.

With each passing year, the farming industry becomes even more centralized.  If current trends continue, big agribusiness will eventually control nearly all of it.  The following is from the EPA website….
By 1997, a mere 46,000 of the two million farms in this country accounted for 50% of sales of agricultural products (USDA, 1997 Census of Agriculture data). That number was down from almost 62,000 in 1992.
In certain industries the amount of consolidation has been absolutely stunning.  For example, between 1970 and today the United States has lost 88 percent of its dairy farms.

Another factor that is shaping the farming business is the incredible power that the giant food processing conglomerates have accumulated.

Today, there are 10 corporations that control most of the things that Americans eat and drink on a daily basis.  If you doubt this, just check out this chart.


The giant food processing conglomerates have a massive amount of influence over how food is grown in the United States today.  Small farmers that try to go against the tide often have a very rough go of it.

That is also true when it comes to seeds.

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For example, approximately 80 percent of all corn grown in the United States is grown using seeds that have been genetically modified by Monsanto.

If you want to try to defy companies such as Monsanto, you are playing a very dangerous game.  The predatory business practices of Monsanto have been well documented.  Monsanto has taken countless numbers of farmers to court, and they are absolutely ruthless.

Plus, it certainly does not help that there is a constant revolving door between Monsanto and federal government agencies.  If you doubt this, just check out the chart about Monsanto on this page.

Amazingly, in spite of all this there are still some small farmers that are able to overcome all of these obstacles and run successful businesses.

But that is where the federal government comes in.

In recent years, the federal government has become absolutely obsessed with going after small farmers.

For example, a recent Food Freedom News article detailed what the feds have been doing to Randy and Karen Sowers.  They were keeping their cash deposits under $10,000 so that they would not have to fill out a bunch of paperwork, and the federal government came down on them like a hurricane….
“Structuring,” explains Overlawyered.com, “is the federal criminal offense of splitting up bank deposits so as to keep them under a threshold such as $10,000 above which banks have to report transactions to the government.”

While being questioned, the Sowers were finally presented with a seizure order and advised that the feds had already emptied their bank account of $70,000.  The Dept. of Justice has since sued to keep $63,000 of the Sowers’ money, though they committed no crime other than maintaining their privacy.

Without funds, they will be unable to make purchases for the spring planting.
When a similar action was taken against Taylor’s Produce Stand last year, the feds seized $90,000, dropped the charges, and kept $45,000 of Taylor’s money.

Knowing that most farms operate on a very thin margin, such abuse of power wipes out a family’s income, and for a bonus, the feds enhance the monopoly power of Monsanto, Big Dairy and their supply chain.
At many other small farms across America, the feds have conducted military-style raids at the crack of dawn over the smallest infractions.

Some examples of this were detailed in a documentary entitled “Farmaggedon“.  The following is a short trailer for that film….

The sad truth is that the federal government has been using your tax money to go after small farmers in absolutely vicious ways.

For example, the feds raided one Amish farm at 5 AM one morning.

So what was the big crime that the feds were so concerned about?

Well, the Amish farm was selling raw milk.

Oh the horror!

The feds seem content to leave big agribusiness pretty much alone, but they are constantly going after small farms in hundreds of different ways.

Did you know that the Department of Labor is instituting new regulations that will ban children from doing many kinds of farm chores?

Just another way to kill off the family farm in America.

America is changing, and not for the better.

Just like the middle class, the family farm is heading for extinction.

Eventually, the big corporations and the federal government will have near total control over food production in America.

So what do you think about all of this?  Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….

Body of Thought: Five Postures for Creative Thinkers

© Holgar Eileby
Think outside the box
Body of Thought: Five Postures for Creative Thinkers - PsyBlog

Literally sitting outside a box, rather than in it, makes you more creative, according to new psychological research.

There are lots of metaphors floating around in creativity. We talk about 'thinking outside the box', 'putting two and two together' and 'seeing both sides of the problem'.

But are these only metaphors or can we boost our creativity by taking them literally? We know our minds interact in all sorts of interesting ways with our bodies, so what if we enacted these metaphors physically?

That's the question Leung et al. (2012) examine in a new study published in the journal Psychological Science. This brings together two of my favourite topics here on PsyBlog: creativity and embodied cognition. Across five studies they tested ways of making people more creative by simply changing postures.

1. On one hand...on the other hand

Creative ideas are often arrived at by bringing together two apparently unrelated thoughts. When we can think about a problem in terms of two different sides, we are more likely to find a way to integrate them. This is encapsulated by the phrase "On the one hand...on the other hand..."

So, what if while trying to solve a problem you physically hold up one hand followed by the other? Might this send a signal to the unconscious to encourage it to consider the problem from more than one angle?

Leung et al. had participants doing this and found that those who gestured with both hands came up with more novel ideas than those who gestured with just one hand.

2. Literally sit outside a box

'Thinking outside the box' is an awfully overused cliché. Nevertheless it does capture the idea that in creativity you have to try and explore new areas.

In their research Leung et al. had participants literally either sitting in boxes or sitting next to boxes while doing creativity tests. Magically just this simple manipulation worked. People quite literally sitting outside the box came up with more ideas than those sitting in the box.

3. Wander around, but not in a square


If you don't have a box handy, you might like to try just wandering around randomly, but whatever happens don't walk in a square.

Leung et al. found that people came up with more ideas when they wandered around randomly than when they walked in a square or than when they didn't walk at all.

4. Put two and two together


Not all creative thinking is about plucking amazing ideas out of the ether.

Sometimes we need to do the grunt work of logically fitting together ideas or objects we've already got in front of us. We've got to put two and two together and make sure the answer isn't 17, metaphorically speaking.

This is what psychologists call 'convergent thinking' and it's where we bring our logic, knowledge and skills to bear on a problem.

A fourth study tested the idea that sorting piles of cards from two stacks into one would encourage convergent thinking.

It did. Participants who sorted the cards from two piles into one did better on a test of convergent thinking than those who just fiddled around with the cards in one pile.

5. Imagine it

Too lazy to get a box or wander around randomly? Then this last study is for you. Here participants either watched a Second Life avatar wandering freely or walking in a square.

According to the results this also worked as those watching the freely wandering avatar came up with more unconventional ideas for gifts than those watching the square-walking avatar.

This one is cool because it shows that the postures aren't as important as the state of mind that they encourage. The mere suggestion that someone might adopt these postures was enough to cue a more creative state of mind.

And lie down

This new research joins previous studies which have suggested that simple postures can affect creativity.

In one study people lying down were better at solving anagrams (Lipnicki & Byrne, 2005); in another their concentration was boosted by wearing a white coat. And another used mind-body dissonance - e.g. thinking an unhappy thought while smiling - to boost creativity (How To Promote Visionary Thinking).

All of these studies show how the position of our bodies feeds back into the state of our minds. And it also shows how deeply metaphors are planted in our consciousness.

Monsanto and ArborGen set their sights on GM trees and grasses

© foodfreedomgroup.com
Monsanto and ArborGen set their sights on GM trees and grasses by Tony Isaacs

(NaturalNews) Not satisfied to own or control our food crops, Monsanto and its spinoff ArborGen have also set their sights on genetically modified trees and grasses. Despite a groundswell of objections by scientists and activists, the USDA has turned a deaf ear to their concerns and has instead aided and abetted Monsanto's plans.

Coming soon to a forest or landscape near you: Franken trees and Franken grasses


In recent years, Monsanto and ArborGen have been developing GM trees including trees modified to withstand Monsanto's Roundup, trees designed with a reduced lignin content to appeal to paper making and construction industries (lignin gives trees their strength and rigidity) and "terminator trees" which don't produce seeds. In Hawaii, there has already been a contamination issue with GM papaya - the world's first commercially planted genetically engineered tree.

One of the GM trees currently being readied planting is GM Eucalyptus, despite numerous unresolved and unstudied concerns such as:

*Cryptococcus neoformans gattii, a yeast pathogen hosted by a variety of Eucalyptus species. It causes systemic fungal infections in humans, leading to fungal meningitis and death.

*Cold tolerance C-Repeat Binding Factor (CBF) genes such as those found in transgenic Eucalyptus trees that have been associated with stunted growth and production in potatoes. CBF gene modification produces highly pleiotropic effects but there does not appear to have been any investigation on the production of unintended metabolites, proteins, or nuclei acids in the modified trees.

*Transgenes, such as the ones involved in the Agrobacterium vector used in creating the transgenic trees, which can enlarge their host range to infect other species and exchange genes with them through hormones produced at the site of plant wounds.

*As reported by MSNBC and PLoS Pathogens, a new strain of a deadly fungus, Cryptococcus gattii, that has been causing fatal human illnesses throughout the Pacific Northwest. The fungus, which is known to grow on eucalyptus trees, has killed 40 out of 220 people infected throughout the region. The reduced lignin in GM eucalyptus has raised concerns that the trees could be more susceptible to infection.

*Pollen from GM Eucalyptus trees can travel almost twice as far as the ArboGen application stated. Pollen from other GM trees can travel for over 40 kilometers.

One way Monsanto has used to escape scrutiny of their GM Eucalyptus is by declaring most, if not all of the genetically modified components to be 'Confidential Business information' (CBI). The CBI designation prevents independent evaluation of the full impact of GM eucalyptus on the environment and on human and animal health.

The USDA recently handed Monsanto and their client lawn seed company Scotts a huge victory by deciding to not regulate Roundup Ready Scotts Kentucky Bluegrass. The USDA had previously echoed warnings by the Center for Technology Assessment that GM bluegrass could become an "environmental nightmare".

Grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass have light and easily dispersed pollen. Thus, the likelihood of polluting existing strains is virtually certain as has happened in Oregon where Roundup Ready bentgrass has become a scourge.

So, get ready for even more toxic poisons in the coming plague of glyphosate-resistant plants gone wild. Also expect Monsanto to demand that payment for infringing on their patents, as they have with farmers whose crops have been adulterated by Monsanto's seed pollen.

A sure formula for disaster


Easy approval of GM grasses and trees combined with insufficient testing and lack of oversight is an almost certain formula for future disaster. As we have seen with other Monsanto GM plants, once the GM genie is out of the bottle it is pretty much impossible to put it back in.

Sources for this article included:

http://globaljusticeecology.org/connections.php?ID=607
http://www.sourcewatch.org
http://www.allthingsnow.com
http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2010/05/04-0

About the author:
Tony Isaacs, is a natural health author, advocate and researcher who hosts The Best Years in Life website for those who wish to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Mr. Isaacs is the author of books and articles about natural health, longevity and beating cancer including "Cancer's Natural Enemy" and is working on a major book project due to be published later this year. He is also a contributing author for the worldwide advocacy group "S.A N.E.Vax. Inc" which endeavors to uncover the truth about HPV vaccine dangers.

Mr. Isaacs also has The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. In addition, he hosts the Yahoo Oleandersoup Health group of over 2500 members and the CureZone Ask Tony Isaacs - Featuring Luella May forum, where he also serves as the local moderator for the Cancer Alternatives forum. Mr. Isaacs serves as a consultant to the "Utopia Silver Supplement Company and he and his partner Luella May recently began hosting The Best Years in Life Radio Show for Rumor Mill News on the Micro Effect Radio Network.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poison skies: Hanging over Japan is a Fukushima nuclear crisis that's far from over

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Poison skies: Hanging over Japan is a Fukushima nuclear crisis that's far from over by Robert Alvarez

Spent reactor fuel, containing roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl, still sits in pools vulnerable to earthquakes.

More than a year after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster began, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world are far from over. After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. senator, it's sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins pose far greater dangers than the molten cores. This is why:
  • Nearly all of the 10,893 spent fuel assemblies sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl
  • Several pools are 100 feet above the ground and are completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions. The pools could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake.
  • The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating and can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds, if not thousands of miles.
This was not lost on Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who after visiting the site on April 6, wrote to Japan's U.S. ambassador, Ichiro Fujusaki, that "loss of containment in any of these pools... could result an even larger release of radiation than the nuclear accident."

The urgency of the situation is underscored by the ongoing seismic activity where 13 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0-5.7 have occurred off the northeast coast of Japan between April 14 and 17. This has been the norm since the first quake and tsunami hit the Dai-Ichi site on March 11 of last year. Larger quakes are expected closer to the power plant.

Spent nuclear fuel is extraordinarily radioactive and must be handled with great care. In a matter of seconds, an unprotected person one foot away from a single freshly removed spent fuel assembly would receive a lethal dose of radiation within seconds. As one of the most dangerous materials on the planet, spent reactor fuel requires permanent geological isolation to protect humans for thousands of years.

It's been 26 years, since the Chernobyl reactor exploded and caught fire releasing enormous amounts of radioactive debris -- seriously contaminating areas over a thousand miles away. Chernobyl revealed the folly of not having an extra barrier of thick concrete and steel surrounding the reactor core that is required for modern plants, in the U.S., Japan and elsewhere. The Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident revealed the folly of operating several nuclear power plants in a high consequence earthquake zone while storing huge amounts of highly radioactive spent fuel in vulnerable pools, high above the ground.

What both accidents have in common is widespread environmental contamination from cesium-137. With a half-life of 30, years, Cs-137 gives off penetrating radiation, as it decays and can remain dangerous for hundreds of years. Once in the environment, it mimics potassium as it accumulates in the food chain. When it enters the human body, about 75 percent lodges in muscle tissue, with, perhaps, the most important muscle being the heart.

Last week, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revealed plans to remove 2,274 spent fuel assemblies from the damaged reactors that will probably take at least a decade to accomplish. The first priority will be removal of the contents in Pool No. 4. This pool is structurally damaged and contains about 10 times more cesium-137 than released at Chernobyl. Removal of SNF from the No. 4 reactor is optimistically expected to begin at the end of 2013. A significant amount of construction to remove debris and reinforce the structurally-damaged reactor buildings, especially the fuel- handling areas, will be required.

Also, it is not safe to keep 1,882 spent fuel assemblies containing ~57 million curies of long-lived radioactivity, including nearly 15 times more cs-137 than released at Chernobyl in the elevated pools at reactors 5, 6, and 7, which did not experience meltdowns and explosions.

The main reason why there is so much spent fuel at the Da-Ichi site is that the plan to send it off for nuclear recycling has collapsed. It was supposed to go to the incomplete Rokkasho reprocessing plant, just south of the Fukushima nuclear site, where plutonium would be extracted as a fuel for "fast" reactors. This scheme is based on long discredited assumptions that world uranium supplies would be rapidly exhausted and that a new generation of "fast" reactors, which held the promise of making more fuel than they use, would be needed. Over the past 20 years the Rokkasho's costs have tripled along with 18 major delays. World uranium supplies are far from depleted. Moreover, in November of last year, Japan's "fast" reactor project at Monju was cancelled for cost and safety reasons -- dealing a major blow to this whole scheme.

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The stark reality, if TEPCO's plan is realized, is that nearly all of the spent fuel at the Da-Ichi containing some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet will remain indefinitely in vulnerable pools. TEPCO wants to store the spent fuel from the damaged reactors in the common pool, and only to resort to dry, cask storage when the common pool's capacity is exceeded. At this time, the common pool is at 80 percent storage capacity and will require removal of SNF to make room. TEPCO's plan is to minimize dry cask storage as much as possible and to rely indefinitely on vulnerable pool storage. Sen. Wyden finds that that TEPCO's plan for remediation "carries extraordinary and continuing risk" and sensibly recommends that "retrieval of spent fuel in existing on-site spent fuel pools to safer storage... in dry casks should be a priority."

Despite the enormous destruction from the earthquake and tsunami, little attention was paid to the fact that the nine dry spent fuel casks at the Fukushima Da-Ichi site were unscathed. This is an important lesson we cannot afford to ignore.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

US: Mad cow confirmed in California

Mad cow confirmed in California - RT



On Tuesday, a bovine in the state of California tested positive for mad cow disease. The incident has caused health officials to address the issue and assure Americans that humans are not at risk. If a person was to consume meat that is infected with the disease, however, the victim would rapidly see a failure in mental health and movement ability. Matt Rice from Mercy for Animals takes a closer look at the disease and how incidences of animal cruelty should be investigated.

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Learned, not innate human intuition: Study finds twist to the story of the number line

This image shows a person confirming
a Yupno participant's understanding of
numbers. Credit: Courtesy of Embodied
Cognition Lab, UC San Diego.
Learned, not innate human intuition: Study finds twist to the story of the number line - Phys.org

Tape measures. Rulers. Graphs. The gas gauge in your car, and the icon on your favorite digital device showing battery power. The number line and its cousins – notations that map numbers onto space and often represent magnitude – are everywhere. Most adults in industrialized societies are so fluent at using the concept, we hardly think about it. We don't stop to wonder: Is it "natural"? Is it cultural?

Now, challenging a mainstream scholarly position that the number-line concept is innate, a study suggests it is learned.

The study, published in April 25, is based on experiments with an indigenous group in Papua New Guinea. It was led by Rafael Nunez, director of the Embodied Cognition Lab and associate professor of cognitive science in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences.

"Influential scholars have advanced the thesis that many of the building blocks of mathematics are 'hard-wired' in the human mind through millions of years of evolution. And a number of different sources of evidence do suggest that humans naturally associate numbers with space," said Nunez, coauthor of "Where Mathematics Comes From" and co-director of the newly established Fields Cognitive Science Network at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences.

"Our study shows, for the first time, that the number-line concept is not a 'universal intuition' but a particular cultural tool that requires training and education to master," Nunez said. "Also, we document that precise number concepts can exist independently of linear or other metric-driven spatial representations."

Nunez and the research team, which includes UC San Diego cognitive science doctoral alumnus Kensy Cooperrider, now at Case Western Reserve University, and Jurg Wassmann, an anthropologist at the University of Heidelberg who has studied the indigenous group for 25 years, traveled to a remote area of the Finisterre Range of Papua New Guinea to conduct the study.

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The upper Yupno valley, like much of Papua New Guinea, has no roads. The research team flew in on a four-seat plane and hiked in the rest of the way, armed with solar-powered equipment, since the valley has no electricity.

The indigenous Yupno in this area number some 5,000, spread over many small villages. They are subsistence farmers. Most have little formal schooling, if any at all. While there is no native writing system, there is a native counting system, with precise number concepts and specific words for numbers greater than 20. But there doesn't seem to be any evidence of measurement of any sort, Nunez said, "not with numbers, or feet or elbows."

Neither Hard-Wired nor "Out There"

Nunez and colleagues asked Yupno adults of the village of Gua to complete a task that has been used widely by researchers interested in basic mathematical intuitions and where they come from. In the original task, people are shown a line and are asked to place numbers onto the line according to their size, with "1" going on the left endpoint and "10" (or sometimes "100" or "1000") going on the right endpoint. Since many in the study group were illiterate, Nunez and colleagues followed previous studies and adapted the task using groups of one to 10 dots, tones and the spoken words instead of written numbers.

After confirming the Yupno participants' understanding of numbers with piles of oranges, the researchers gave the number-line task to 14 adults with no schooling and six adults with some degree of formal schooling. There was also a control group of participants in California.

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The researchers found that unschooled Yupno adults placed numbers on the line (or mapped numbers onto space), but they did it in a categorical manner, using systematically only the endpoints: putting small numbers on the left endpoint and the mid-size and large numbers on the right, ignoring the extension of the line — an essential component of the number-line concept. Schooled Yupno adults used the line's extension but not quite as evenly as adults in California.

"Mathematics all over the world – from Europe to Asia to the Americas – is largely taught dogmatically, as objective fact, black and white, right/wrong," Nunez said. "But our work shows that there are meaningful human ideas in math, ingenious solutions and designs that have been mediated by writing and notational devices, like the number line. Perhaps we should think about bringing the human saga to the subject – instead of continuing to treat it romantically, as the 'universal language' it's not. Mathematics is neither hardwired, nor 'out there.'"

Out-of-Body Time

The researchers ran several experiments while in Gua, Papua New Guinea, including those that examine another fundamental concept: time.

When talking about past, present and future, people all over the world show a tendency to conceive of these notions spatially, Nunez said. The most common spatial pattern is the one found in the English-speaking world, in which people talk about the future as being in front of them and the past behind, encapsulated, for example, in expressions such as the "week ahead" and "way back when." (In earlier research, Nunez found that the Aymara of the Andes seem to do the reverse, placing the past in front and the future behind.)

In their time study with the Yupno, now in press at the journal Cognition, Nunez and colleagues find that the Yupno don't use their bodies as reference points for time – but rather their valley's slope and terrain. Analysis of their gestures suggests they co-locate the present with themselves, as do all previously studied groups.

(Picture for a moment how you probably point down at the ground when you talk about "now.") But, regardless of which way they are facing at the moment, the Yupno point uphill when talking about the future and downhill when talking about the past.

Interestingly and also very unusually, Nunez said, the Yupno seem to think of past and future not as being arranged on a line, such as the familiar "time line" we have in many Western cultures, but as having a three-dimensional bent shape that reflects the valley's terrain.

"These findings suggest that how we think about abstract concepts is even more flexible than previously thought and is profoundly affected by language, culture and environment," said Nunez.

"Our familiar notions on 'fundamental' concepts such as time and are so deeply ingrained that they feel natural to us, as though they couldn't be any other way," added former graduate student Cooperrider. "When confronted with radically different ways of construing experience, we can no longer take for granted our own. Ultimately, no way is more or less 'natural' than the Yupno way."

More information: Nunez R, Cooperrider K, Wassmann J (2012) Number Concepts without Number Lines in an Indigenous Group of Papua New Guinea. PLoS ONE 7(4):e35662. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035662 . http://dx.plos.org … pone.0035662
Provided by University of California - San Diego (news : web)

US: Department of Labor to Ban Children from Doing Work on Family Farms

© Rick Gershon/Getty Images
Cole Hatfield tends to his show steers on
the 6666 Ranch October 24, 2007 in Guthrie,
Texas on October 24, 2007.
Department of Labor to Ban Children from Doing Work on Family Farms by Patrick Richardson

A proposal from the Obama administration to prevent children from doing farm chores has drawn plenty of criticism from rural-district members of Congress. But now it's attracting barbs from farm kids themselves.

The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families' land.

Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work "in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials."

"Prohibited places of employment," a Department press release read, "would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions."

The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government's approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course.

Rossie Blinson, a 21-year-old college student from Buis Creek, N.C., told The Daily Caller that the federal government's plan will do far more harm than good.

"The main concern I have is that it would prevent kids from doing 4-H and FFA projects if they're not at their parents' house," said Blinson.

"I started showing sheep when I was four years old. I started with cattle around 8. It's been very important. I learned a lot of responsibility being a farm kid."

In Kansas, Cherokee County Farm Bureau president Jeff Clark was out in the field - literally on a tractor - when TheDC reached him. He said if Solis's regulations are implemented, farming families' labor losses from their children will only be part of the problem.

"What would be more of a blow," he said, "is not teaching our kids the values of working on a farm." 

Read more..

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wal-Mart's List of Crimes Expands by Adding 'Bribery Campaign' in Mexico

Wal-Mart's List of Crimes Expands by Adding 'Bribery Campaign' in Mexico by John Galt

Wal-Mart has been on the march across Latin America over the last 20 years. America's largest private employer is now also the leader in all of Latin America.

From their launch pad in Mexico, where an incredible one in five of all Wal-Mart stores now reside, they have successfully conquered Brazil Argentina, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Puerto Rico.

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It is now coming to light how they might have facilitated such rapid progress in a region known for massive bureaucracy.

A former Wal-Mart executive has exposed a widespread bribery campaign inside Mexico orchestrated by Wal-Mart in order to "gain market dominance." Apparently, the price to do so was a mere $24 million dollars -- hardly a drop in the bucket compared to its now $380 billion annual revenue in that country.

What is staggering is the brazenness with which they went about the campaign:
The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico.

Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: 'There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.'

(...)

In one meeting where the bribery case was discussed, H. Lee Scott Jr., then Wal-Mart’s chief executive, rebuked internal investigators for being overly aggressive. Days later, records show, Wal-Mart’s top lawyer arranged to ship the internal investigators’ files on the case to Mexico City. Primary responsibility for the investigation was then given to the general counsel of Wal-Mart de Mexico — a remarkable choice since the same general counsel was alleged to have authorized bribes. (Source)

Wal-Mart is currently in damage-control mode, as its stock has slumped nearly 5% based on the  allegations that they have engaged in a top-to-bottom coverup of their practices.

Wal-Mart's despicable behavior is being protested against in every country where their model of cheap slave goods and corruption has been instrumental in decimating local economies . . . even in the wealthier nations where their consumer base resides.

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Research into the impact that Wal-Mart has on local U.S. communities only enhances the other forms of exploitation that Wal-Mart is well-known for across the world, with well-documented slave labor being used to create their "cheap" goods by poor people in other countries so that poor people in the U.S. can afford them.  This is an organization known for blatant discrimination against women, and for playing games on every level with people's wages and healthcare.

Mexico is a very large piece of the pie for a company like Wal-Mart, and their practices there indicate a willingness to do whatever it takes to set up shop and expand.  Something tells me that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and that this practice is likely to have been part of their business model throughout the region.  We'll just have to wait until the next former executive steps up to the plate and has the courage to expose their latest crime.

Read other articles by John Galt here.

You can support this information by voting on Reddit:  http://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/sqbqf/walmarts_list_of_crimes_expands_by_adding_bribery/

US: Mutated Dandelions in Schoolyard Dearborn MI 4.23.2012

Mutated Dandelions in Schoolyard Dearborn MI 4.23.2012 - ichicax4

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sauna: Discover the Health Benefits at Home

Sauna: Discover the Health Benefits at Home by Dr. Mercola



http://www.mercola.com/ Internationally renowned natural health physician and Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses the health benefits of sauna. Dr. Joseph Mercola also discusses the different types of saunas like Infrared Saunas and Traditional Saunas.

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US: 'Whole Food, Not Whole Foods': Renegade Farmers Reclaim Land on Earth Day

An Occupy the Farm protester rototills
a patch of land owned by UC Berkeley
at Buchanan and Jackson streets in Albany.
(Kevin Johnson / The Chronicle)
'Whole Food, Not Whole Foods': Renegade Farmers Reclaim Land on Earth Day - CommonDreams.org

To prevent the sale for private development, citizens plant community garden


Bay area residents on Sunday, in order to prevent development of a chain grocery store, reclaimed 10 acres of land owned by the University of California-Berkeley and planted a community garden.

The protesters-cum-gardeners, several dozen of them in all, broke the lock on a chain-linked fence about mid-day and got to work digging beds, roto-tilling soil, and planting carrots, broccoli, and other vegetables. The plan is to build a sustainable community garden and stave off any attempt by UC Berkeley to sell the land for private development. Gopal Dayaneni, one of the 20 or so core organizers of the action, told the San Jose Mercury News that the group was committed to growing both the farm and its community of farmers. Volunteers had about 10,000 starts -- small bulbs or seedlings -- and dug dozens of rows. Some people brought chickens, and the group even brought in a large tank for watering.

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"This is the last, best agricultural soil in the East Bay, and we want it to be preserved for community farming and sustainable urban agriculture, not chopped up and sold off in pieces by the university," said Dayaneni, a 43-year-old Oakland resident and father of two who said he's long been active in environmental and ecological issues in the East Bay.

Police were on the scene throughout the day, but no arrests were reported. The 'renegade farmers' were pitching tents at the end of the day, but said they had no plans to permanently occupy the land.  "Our goal is not to live here, our goal is to create a working urban agro-ecological farm," Anya Kamenskaya, a spokesperson for the group, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
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Sunday, April 22, 2012

US: Wells Fargo profiting from for-profit prisons

Wells Fargo profiting from for-profit prisons - RTAmerica



The US prison system is notorious and lately there has been a major shift in privatizing facilities within the industry. Currently, one out of every 100 Americans is behind bars, making the US the country with the highest incarnation rates in the world. The prison industrial complex has a vested interest in keeping people locked up. Wells Fargo is one of the companies that is profiting for the practice and Axel Caballero, founder of Cuentame, joins us with more on the prison industrial complex.

Twice as Many Emperor Penguins as Thought in Antarctica, First-Ever Penguin Count from Space Shows

Apr. 13, 2012: Twice as Many Emperor Penguins as Thought in Antarctica, First-Ever Penguin Count from Space Shows - Science Daily

A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica than previously thought. The results provide an important benchmark for monitoring the impact of environmental change on the population of this iconic bird, which breeds in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.

Recently reporting in the journal PLoS ONE, an international team of scientists describe how they used Very High Resolution satellite images to estimate the number of penguins at each colony around the coastline of Antarctica.


Using a technique known as pan-sharpening to increase the resolution of the satellite imagery, the science teams were able to differentiate between birds, ice, shadow and penguin poo or guano. They then used ground counts and aerial photography to calibrate the analysis.

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Lead author and geographer Peter Fretwell at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), which is funded by the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council, explains, “We are delighted to be able to locate and identify such a large number of emperor penguins. We counted 595,000 birds, which is almost double the previous estimates of 270,000-350,000 birds. This is the first comprehensive census of a species taken from space.”

On the ice, emperor penguins with their black and white plumage stand out against the snow and colonies are clearly visible on satellite imagery. This allowed the team to analyze 44 emperor penguin colonies around the coast of Antarctica, and seven previously unknown colonies.

“The methods we used are an enormous step forward in Antarctic ecology because we can conduct research safely and efficiently with little environmental impact, and determine estimates of an entire penguin population, said co-author Michelle LaRue from the University of Minnesota and funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

“The implications of this study are far-reaching: we now have a cost-effective way to apply our methods to other poorly-understood species in the Antarctic, to strengthen on-going field research, and to provide accurate information for international conservation efforts.”

NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program through which it coordinates all U.S. scientific research on the southernmost continent and aboard ships in the Southern Ocean as well as related logistics support.

Co-author and BAS biologist Phil Trathan noted, “Current research suggests that emperor penguin colonies will be seriously affected by climate change. An accurate continent-wide census that can be easily repeated on a regular basis will help us monitor more accurately the impacts of future change on this iconic species.”

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Scientists are concerned that in some regions of Antarctica, earlier spring warming is leading to loss of sea ice habitat for emperor penguins, making their northerly colonies more vulnerable to further climate change.
Trathan continued, “Whilst current research leads us to expect important declines in the number of emperor penguins over the next century, the effects of warming around Antarctica are regional and uneven. In the future, we anticipate that the more southerly colonies should remain, making these important sites for further research and protection.”

This research is a collaboration between BAS, University of Minnesota/NSF, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Australian Antarctic Division.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Local: BP oil spill 2 years later...the coverup continues

BP oil spill 2 years later - Abbey Martin RT

Friday marked the two year anniversary of America's worst oil spill. British Petroleum was behind the disaster that took two months to maintain yet also spawned side-effects that caused a downward spiral in the economy, tourism and wildlife still to this day. In recent ads, images of green grass and beautiful water have been advertised in an attempt to lure people to the US Gulf coast. But is everything back to normal? Abby Martin takes a closer look at spill two years later.



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UK: Herbal regulation and the ‘FUD factor’

Herbal regulation and the ‘FUD factor’ - ANH

It’s nearly a year to the day that the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD; 2004/24/EC) came into full force across the EU, on 1st May 2011 – so how are herbal companies coping with the changes? We focus on two in the UK with different business models who are both feeling the effects of the THMPD pressures.

THMPD bites hard in Scotland


With its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, Napiers is a long-standing institution in the UK natural healthcare scene, having been founded in 1860 by herbalist and botanist Duncan Napier. Until recently, Napiers was doing very nicely, with a total of five premises at four Scottish locations all selling a wide range of herbal remedies, as well as offering professional consultations in a wide range of natural modalities.

Since the advent of the THMPD, however, things have changed, according to Napiers’ boss and medical herbalist, Dee Atkinson. “A large part of our revenue has always come from herbal formulae, which are pre-mixed and sold to the public over-the-counter,“ she explains. “And the THMPD put a total stop to this! Without a Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) number, we and other retailers like us can’t sell products like these any more. So, obviously, that had a huge negative impact on the business.”

Unfortunately, that isn’t the only THMPD-related problem Napiers is having to cope with. “Proper regulation of herbal products aimed at the consumer is vital – we’ve seen some awful problems with unlicensed products in the past,” says Dee, “So we went down the THR route for several of our products. We spent over £100,000 on THRs, but these won’t cover the revenue we’re losing on our other formulae. Plus, now that Napiers has spent all this money on THRs, we don’t see any enforcement of the THMPD – manufacturers who haven’t got THRs are still selling their products. We don’t think that’s fair.”

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This raises yet another problem with the THMPD. The fact is, it was designed to form part of a dual system, under which herbal products can be sold as branded herbal medicines with a THR and patient safety information or, alternatively, as unbranded herbal food supplements with no THR and no safety information. This basic truth is often misunderstood by regulators and misrepresented by vested interests.

Dee Atkinson and Napiers have been forced to take drastic measures“We’re closing three of our branches. Only the herbal dispensary and clinical practice in Edinburgh and Glasgow will survive. It’s heartbreaking for us to have to do this, but it’s the only way we’ll survive. We’ve gone from a situation where herbal medicines were lightly regulated to one where they are over-regulated – almost overnight! The public is losing its access to herbal medicines, which some individuals have relied on for over 50 years.”

For Dee, the solution lies partly with reform of the THMPD, and partly with government recognition of herbalism as a profession: so-called statutory regulation (SR). "SR will at least safeguard the practice of herbalism and the unique specialist knowledge of herbalists. Even though the public will be able to choose from a narrower range of over-the-counter herbal remedies, they'll be able to see a herbalist for a wider range of individualised tinctures and other formulae. I see SR as vital to preserving a key part of the UK natural medicines business." We agree in principle, but to what extent herbalists' long-cherished rights are maintained will depend on how the UK government drafts the legislation.

The true cost of licensing


Another well-established UK herbal company facing problems thanks to EU regulation is Pukka Herbs. Pukka specialises in herbs from the Indian Ayurvedic tradition and has been making an effort to obtain THRs for some of its products – which is far easier said than done. “Ayurvedic herbs are at a particular disadvantage under the THMPD, as they generally haven’t been sold in the EU for 15 years,” says Sebastian Pole, Pukka’s Herbal Director. Herbs without an EU sales history of at least 15 years are ineligible for the THMPD scheme.  “Even so,” continues Sebastian, “We have been working on THRs for three products that we believe are suitable for registration – but it’s been three years work and many thousands of pounds, and we’re still some way off THR registration. Because of the 'FUD factor' (fear, uncertainty and doubt) caused by the Directive, our customers and staff are understandably nervous about what the future holds under the THMPD.  It’s a sad fact, but the legislation surrounding the sale of natural herbs across the EU is damaging herbal traditions that have successfully and safely nourished people's health for thousands of years. It really needs to be amended.”


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Elsewhere in Europe


There are more and more signals revealing that all is not well. Holland, for many years one of the most liberal food supplement regimes in Europe, is now tightening the screw. The very country that has allowed cannabis to be smoked legally in coffee shops is now creating a raft of problems for those trying to sell herbs used for healthcare purposes. Some of this comes from a desire to ensure products are free from contaminants such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) after four cases of poisoning were revealed. But this newfound regulatory zeal is now risking the very survival of herbal suppliers; we know of three that are at risk of closure as we write this.

Next door, in Belgium, the situation is no better. The Belgian authorities’ new red flag is the 1997 Novel Food Regulation that requires authorisation of foods or supplements that cannot be proven to have been sold in significant amounts prior to its passage in May 1997. The problem now, some 15 years on, is finding that proof as well as agreeing on what constitutes significant sale. The regulators' misuse of this regulatory tool has effectively freeze-framed the Belgian herbal trade, and the inability to innovate or expand will ultimately threaten its viability.

These are the kind of stories that make it clear to us just how vital our herb law challenge is. Stick with us!


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