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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Tuesday, 20 February 2007

For the last week or so I've been reading the book, "Organics, Inc." by Samuel Fromartz. In it he describes the 'juggernaut' of organic food amidst the otherwise stagnant conventional foods industry. He tries to answer the questions: What is organic?, Where does it come from?, and Is it better for you?

Being a business writer it's no surprise that Fromartz seems to be most at ease describing the economic history of the organic movement. He enthusiastically depicts how the first farms solved issues of marketing, distribution, and sales in their effort to become solvent. He aptly portrays the conglomeration of small dairy farms that led to the giants in the organic industry-Horizon Dairy, Dean Foods, etc. Fromartz's focus on finances, economics, and political machinations does give an outline of where organic is at this point.

But I think he didn't experience the spirit of organic. Oh, he writes about it. Family farms, environmental consciousness, health awareness, he touches the appropriate bases. But the story he writes verges on a caricature. It was the 'hippies', the 'long-hairs', the 'vegans', and more who eventually didn't have any idea of what they were doing. To believe his tale, all the coops died within one year. It's a natural expected progression as he sees it for the 'little guys' to be eaten up by the 'big guys'. Or at least he thinks it's inevitable as organic becomes a multi billion dollar business. Perhaps it's just the journalistic effort to remain neutral. To appear to support neither "Corporate Organic" nor small family farms.

It was interesting to learn how Earthbound Farm became the largest seller of organic produce. I now have a better understanding of the political process that gave us our national organic standard and the periodic waves of cooptation that threaten it. The forces of consolidation and mass marketing that are behind

My bias is clear. I want to see the maintenance of organic ideals, not a watering down of them. The health issues are central in my opinion, not peripheral. Environmentally, organic agriculture is one of the strongest forces for correcting major errors-herbicides and pesticides, water pollution, genetically modified foods, and more. "Organics, Inc" is not a call to action. But it will help you understand a bit more of what's behind the label.

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Friday, 16 February 2007

During this past holiday season the FDA released a formal recommendation to allow meat and milk from cloned animals to appear on grocery shelves. But there WILL NOT be any identifying labels. In other words, when you eat conventionally raised meat and milk you won't know if it's from a cloned animal or not.

Clones are created by taking single cells from animals, growing the cell into an embryo in a laboratory, and then transferring the embryo to the womb of a surrogate mother animal. Cloning results in extremely high failure rates from deaths and gross abnormalities, so much so that scientists speak of a "cloning syndrome". It inflicts massive deaths, suffering and distress, not only to the cloned fetuses and the calves throughout gestation, at and after birth, but also to the surrogate mothers. Surrogate mothers frequently die from difficult delivery unless medical intervention is given, and their health is seriously compromised by gross malformations of the fetuses.

One of the promotional sound bites for cloning has been that it will allow for the reproduction of animal 'elites'-animals that are especially healthy and carry desirable characteristics-flavorful meat, high nutritional content, etc. In reality this is a PR smokescreen. The real intent behind cloning is to facilitate the duplication of genetically modified animals (GM). GM animals are usually sterile and their offspring lose the 'modified' genes that were introduced. Cloning is one way of overcoming this obstacle.

The FDA has asked producers to voluntarily keep clones away from the food supply. This should work really well to protect us. Cloning in North America in the 1980s and 1990s produced approximately 1,200-1,500 cows and bulls. Most of these cloned beef and dairy cattle were used for human food consumption with no public knowledge or regulatory review. More than 660,000 pounds of meat and more than 520,000 gallons of milk from cloned cattle have already entered the food supply. This was after the FDA requested industry in 2001 to "voluntarily refrain from introducing food and feed from animal clones and their progeny into commerce". I don't expect 'industry' to pay any more attention to this request now then they did before.

According to Caren Wilcox, who heads the Organic Trade Association, organic certification of animal or dairy foods expressly prohibits use of cloned animal ingredients. The organic label from true organic food companies may be the surest way to limit your exposure to these foods. In a September 2006 poll by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, 64 percent said they were uncomfortable with animal cloning. Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat from Maryland, has introduced legislation to require this note on packages: "This product is from a cloned animal or its progeny." But the FDA says that labels are not needed. In other words, minority rules. The Food Industry and its main supporter, the FDA, have determined that you don't need to know what you're eating.

What do you think?

Tell The FDA: No Food From Cloned Animals. Sign the Center for Food Safety Petition

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Wednesday, 14 February 2007

A study published in the January 17 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has shown once again that  tympanostomy  or 'ear tubes' do not promote learning and behavior in toddlers with frequent ear infections. In the vast majority of children hearing effects are too short-lived to interfere with learning. This is the 4th study since 2001 to demonstrate that this is unnecessary surgery and holds out false hope of making a significant difference in normal children's development. Don't be persuaded that this is some kind of quick fix for repeated ear infections. The science just does not support this contention. 

Controlling dietary factors and the use of an individualized homeopathic remedy will go along way towards addressing these issues. It's time that these were first choices. Are care-givers listening?

For Optimal Health

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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

 Is it organic? (Only your naturopath knows for sure!)

Greenwashing is the process of branding a processed food as natural or organic. It is pure deception. Designed to entice you into buying unhealthy foods or beverages it involves a number of marketing gimmicks. The focus is on your perception of wholesomeness or a natural mystique.

Used on food packaging, greenwashing might utilize bucolic images of idyllic settings or use colors and print styles that make you think ‘organic’. Often, what’s inside is about as far away from the health meaning of organic or natural as you can get.

There’s 100% Natural 7 Up, Natural Lays Potato Chips, Horizon Organic dairy products where the cows hardly see pasture, the list goes on. You’ve got ‘vitamin waters’; ‘whole wheat bread’ that is mostly white flour;‘0 Trans Fat’ labeled foods that can have half a gram of trans fat per serving (by law). It's ridiculous.

Junk food is junk food. Organic sugar is still sugar. Potato chips are still fried. Last time I looked, high fructose corn syrup was not found in nature.

Read labels. Ask questions. Don’t be fooled by slick advertising. When in doubt, ask questions.

I will continue to expose these practices as they come to prominence so that you can make intelligent decisions concerning your health.

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Would You Trade A Broken Hip For Heartburn Relief?
Wednesday, 17 January 2007

In a Dec. 27, 2006 study, people who take common medications like Prilosec, Prevacid and Nexium, to suppress stomach acid may be trading bone health for heartburn relief. Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia found that use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) increased the odds of breaking a hip by about 44% in people who took the drugs for about a year. People who took higher doses for longer periods were about 2.5x more likely to suffer a hip fracture. One possible mechanism of harm is that PPIs have been shown to decrease absorption of calcium and lower bone density in some people.This could explain the higher rate of hip fractures among those who take them, report the investigators.

The researchers suggest that doctors should more carefully discuss bone health with patients taking these drugs and recommend nutritional supplements. They also call on physicians to prescribe the lowest possible effective doses.

The study was based on a review of the medical records of more than 13,000 hip fracture patients and 135,000 people without hip fractures, all of who were age 50 and older. The investigators note hip fractures, which are common among older people, lead to death in about 20 percent of cases. One in five of those who survive are likely to require nursing home care.
The Journal of the American Medical Association 2006;296:2947-2953

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