March 29th, 2012
Starbucks has landed in hot water with some vegetarians over a decision to use a food coloring made from crushed bugs in products including its Strawberries and Creme Frappuccinos and red velvet whoopee pies.
The coffee giant recently started using cochineal extract, which is made from crushed insects, as a food dye in products that are pink or red in color.
Spokesman Jim Olson told msnbc.com the company switched to the extract in response to customers who wanted Starbucks to use more natural ingredients whenever possible.
“This is an alternative to other synthetic red dyes that are out there,” Olson said, adding that the product is commonly used in juices, yogurts and other products.
The ingredient change caught the attention of a vegan barista, who sent a copy of the ingredient list to a website called This Dish is Veg.
Change.org, an advocacy group, then launched a petition aiming to stop the company from using the product. About 800 people had signed it as of Wednesday afternoon.
In 2009 the Food and Drug Administration began requiring companies to tell customers when they are using cochineal extract in foods, citing the potential for allergic reactions. The move followed a push by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Olson said the company does provide nutritional information about its products on its website, and people can always e-mail or call if they have detailed questions.
“We certainly respect and understand the interest this is getting, but it is a very common ingredient in foods and juices and beverages,” Olson said.
He added that the company has no plans to move to a different ingredient at this time.
Tip of the hat to The Seattle Times, which earlier reported this story.
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March 28th, 2012
Supreme irony? Top court poised to throw out Obamacare in echo of case Obama made against Hillary Clinton
UK Daily Mail
It is a tad unfortunate that just days after the White House embraced the term "Obamacare" - previously regarded on the Left as a pejorative label - a majority of the nine Supreme Court justices have given strong indications they will rule it unconstitutional.
Even more ironic is that the justices, or five of them at least, look like they might force President Barack Obama back to the drawing board partly on the basis of the argument one Senator Obama made against then Senator Hillary Clinton in 2008.
At issue today was the so-called 'individual mandate" - the federal government's act of compelling Americans to buy health insurance. It is the centrepiece of the Affordable Health Care Act - aka Obamacare - which is the signature achievement of Obama's presidency thus far.
But back during the 2008 campaign, Obama argued strenuously against the individual mandate. In a debate in South Carolina, he said: "A mandate means that in some fashion, everybody will be forced to buy health insurance. ... But I believe the problem is not that folks are trying to avoid getting health care. The problem is they can't afford it. And that's why my plan emphasises lowering costs."
In February 2008, he said that you could no more solve the issue of the uninsured with an individual mandate than you could cure homelessness by ordering people to buy a home:
This was one of the policies that allowed him to differentiate himself from Clinton and John Edwards, the serial sleazeball who (believe it or not given what we now know he was up to) had a pretty good shot at winning the Democratic nomination.
Obama felt so strongly about the issue that he even cut an ad attacking Clinton for her support of the individual mandate. "Hillary Clinton's attacking, but what's she not telling you about her health care plan?" the April 2008 ad asked. "It forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can't afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don't."
Once in office, Obama changed his mind, telling CBS in July 2009: "During the campaign I was opposed to this idea because my general attitude was the reason people don't have health insurance is not because they don't want it, it's because they can't afford it. And if you make it affordable, then they'll come. I am now in favour of some sort of individual mandate as long as there's a hardship exemption." This volte face merited a "full flop" rating from Politifact.
Fast forward to today and there were five justices who appeared to be dead set against the idea of an individual mandate. Justice Clarence Thomas hasn't asked a question in the court for six years but as the most conservative lawyer on the court is a safe "no". You can find a transcript of the oral arguments here and audio can be downloaded here.
Justice Antonin Scalia asked the flailing Solicitor General Donald Verrillii: "Could you define the market? Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli."
Chief Justice John Roberts queried: "So can the government require you to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when you need emergency services?"
Justice Samuel Alito jabbed: "All right, suppose that you and I walked around downtown Washington at lunch hour and we found a couple of healthy young people and we stopped them and we said, 'You know what you're doing? You are financing your burial services right now because eventually you're going to die, and somebody is going to have to pay for it, and if you don't have burial insurance and you haven't saved money for it, you're going to shift the cost to somebody else'. Isn't that a very artificial way of talking about what somebody is doing?"
Worst of all for Obamacare supporters, Justice Anthony Kennedy, always viewed as the swing vote on the court, sounded like one of the most sceptical of all. "The reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act," he said at one point. "In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don't have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger.
At other junctures he asked "Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?" and "So the Federal government says everybody has to join an exercise club?"
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor seemed on the side of upholding the mandate - though in the case of Sotomayor there was, surprisingly, some doubt. The only hope for liberals appears to be that Roberts, who is known to be leery of the court being seen as overly political, comes down on their side after some of his questions gave them a modicum of encouragement.
If Obamacare is thrown out it is likely to be a political disaster for Obama, and could very well be a nail in the coffin of his re-election hopes. Some Democrats believe such an outcome could allow Obama to run against a right-wing Supreme Court as well as a right-win, do-nothing Congress.
But it would be difficult to portray Justice Kennedy is an obstructionist Republican, just as it will be hard to run against a Congress that is controlled in one chamber by the Democrats. And running as an outsider while living at 1600 Pennsylvania? Good luck with that.
Given Obama's open mic gaffe - "After my election, I have more flexibility" - yesterday, the potential for creating a narrative that the President is a slippery, disingenuous campaigner is very real. American Crossroads, the Republican super PAC, has already been quick off the mark with this web ad on Obama as a health care flip flopper:
But the most fundamental problem for the President is that if the heart of Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional then he will be left empty-handed after spending two years and virtually all his political capital on jamming through the bill without a single Republican vote.
In short, it will make him look like a loser - not a quality Americans value in their presidents. And the fact that the Republican nominee will be able to quote Obama's own criticisms of the individual mandate against him will be the icing on the cake.
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March 28th, 2012
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March 28th, 2012
Posted By Dr. Mercola
One of the more recent toxic additions to our food supply is the artificial sweetener called Neotamei.
In the European Union, where it was approved as a flavor enhancer as of November 2010, it is known by its “E number,” E961ii.
Made by NutraSweet (a former division of Monsanto and the original manufacturer of aspartame), neotame is 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar, and about 30 times sweeter than aspartame.
It’s based on the aspartame formula—despite the fact that 80 percent of all FDA complaints pertain to adverse reactions from aspartame.
Neotame is essentially aspartame plus 3,3-dimethylbutyliii--the presence of which ends up reducing the production of phenylalanine, which allegedly makes it safe for those suffering from phenylketonuria (PKU).
(Hence neotame does not need to bear a PKU warning label like aspartame.)
Unfortunately, it may actually be an even more potent and dangerous neurotoxin, immunotoxin and excitotoxin than aspartame.
Proponents of neotame claim that increased toxicity is of no concern because less of it is needed to achieve the desired effect.
Still, Monsanto's own pre-approval studies of neotame revealed adverse reactions, and there were no independent studies that found neotame to be safe.
On August 16, 2000, the law firm of Hartman & Craven filed comments on the neotame docket pertaining to the lack of safety data submitted in support of neotameiv, stating in part:
“A food additive petition has been submitted to the FDA for the artificial sweetener neotame. In that petition, the sponsor claims the data presented demonstrate that the compound produces no adverse effects at a dose of 1000 mg/kg/day in the rat. The sponsor also claims that the product should be safe for patients with diabetes. A review of the data submitted to the FDA does not support these conclusions.
In fact, no safe human usage level can be determined based on the submitted data. The animal experimental evidence indicates a toxic effect on growth. The clinical evidence raises concerns about glucose control in patients with diabetes.
Searches for an explanation resolving the adverse findings leave no clear acceptable answers that would insure the safety of the public but does stimulate speculation on questions relating to possible liver effects.”
Is Neotame Allowed in Organics?
While some writers have made the claim that neotame is allowed in organic foods, there does not appear to be any supporting evidence for this. Ditto for the rumor that it doesn’t have to be listed on the label. For example, according to a recent article on Sott.netv:
“Neotame was approved by the FDA for general use in July 2002 ... The FDA loosened all labeling requirements for Neotame as part of a large-scale effort to make it a near-ubiquitous artificial sweetener, to be found on the tabletop, in all prepared foods, even in organics. It simply does not have to be included in the ingredient list.”
The Cornucopia Institute wrote a rebuttal to this internet rumor last year, statingvi:
“Organic foods cannot contain synthetic additives, unless these additives have been petitioned and approved to appear on the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances (7 CFR 205.605). Emily Brown Rosen, Standards Specialist at the USDA’s National Organic Program, writes about neotame: “For organic food, all additives must appear on the National List.” Neotame has never been petitioned or approved for inclusion on the National List, and therefore cannot legally be added to organic foods.
We see no evidence, and see no reason to suspect, that any organic certifying agents would allow organic food manufacturers to violate the federal standards by adding this synthetic sweetener.
Moreover, as a direct food additive, neotame must be listed on the ingredients label, contrary to suggestions that this could be added to food in a stealth-like manner (21 CFR 101.100). We have not seen any evidence to suggest that neotame is being added covertly to organic foods. Not only would organic manufacturers be breaking the law by adding this synthetic sweetener to organic foods, they would also be breaking the law by not including Neotame on the ingredient label.”
Why is Neotame Dangerous?
That said, my recommendation for neotame is similar to that for aspartame, which is: avoid it at all costs if you care about your health. Neotame is like aspartame on steroids, so while you want to avoid both, neotame appears to be more toxic. One way of avoiding all artificial sweeteners is to purchase foods bearing the USDA 100% Organic label. I don’t believe there’s any reason to suspect organic foods will contain neotame.
I’ve previously expounded on the many health dangers of aspartame, and all of those dangers apply equally to neotame. But as if aspartame wasn't bad enough, NutraSweet “improved" the aspartame formula by adding 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde, which blocks enzymes that break the peptide bond between aspartic acid and phenylalanine, thereby reducing the availability of phenylalanine. This eliminates the need for a warning on labels directed at people who cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine.
Neotame is also more stable at higher temperatures than aspartame, so it’s approved for use in a wider array of food products, including baked goods.
However, one of the byproducts your body creates by breaking down aspartame is formaldehyde, which is extremely toxic to your health even in very small dosesvii. Furthermore, in a search of PubMed.gov, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which has over 11 million medical citations, neotame fails to include any double-blind scientific studies on toxicity in humans or animals. If neotame was indeed completely safe to ingest, you would think the NutraSweet Company would have published at least one double-blind safety study in the public domain?
Well, they haven't... Why not?
In and of itself, 3,3-dimethylbutyraldehyde is categorized as both highly flammable and an irritant, and carries risk statements for handling including irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory systemviii. Does this sound like something that belongs inside your body?
How Did these Chemicals Get Approved for Human Consumption?
Today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could rightfully be accused of being a “subsidiary" of the Monsanto Company. When you realize just how many Monsanto executives and employees who have migrated into positions of power within the FDA and other government agencies, a truly disturbing picture emerges of the foxes guarding the henhouse.
The FDA is packed by pro-business, pro-corporation advocates who often have massive conflicts of interest when it comes to protecting the health of the public. In fact, the revolving door between private industry and government oversight agencies is so well established these days, it has become business as usual to read about scandal, conflicts of interest and blatant pro-industry bias, even when it flies in the face of science or the law.
March 27th, 2012
By Barry Secrest
"Obama is not a Marxist, that's simply ridiculous!"
These are the words that have continually rebuffed those of us who are adamantly referred to as being Conservative radicals for criticizing the Obama Administration's ongoing war on capitalism and of course, energy. And yet, a recent story that came to us from Fox News, seems to prove our contentions outrageously correct, and in spades. You see, one of the most basic theories of Communist Marxism is the fact that Karl Marx, the originator of Marxism, felt that the State should take whatever it needed from the people in order to pay for its costs of providing services to the proletariat, in this case healthcare services to US Citizens, as a Collectivist economic necessity.
Once all of the expenses had been paid by the State or the entity under the State's authority, whatever was leftover was mandated to be directed back towards the people and redivided amongst the workers according to each individual's efforts or initial investment.
In Marxist theory, one of the repeatedly illustrated quotes is this one:
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"