In the modern world, few people give a second thought to tuberculosis (TB), much less how prevalent the illness is in many developing countries and countries with a high number of densely populated regions, such as India and China. Tuberculosis has come under the microscope of doctors and scientists during recent years because many of the recently diagnosed TB cases have been drug resistant to the 1950s antibiotics developed to combat TB. Drug resistant TB is such a global concern that the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, held a workshop in January 2013.
Browsing Public Health
It may have been created as part of a protest and drive for a petition campaign against the proposed USDA’s “Filthy Chicken Rule”, but the spoof documentary “Is It Factory Fresh Chicken?” carries a disturbing truth message. In fact, once viewed, if you ever eat another factory farmed chicken, you’ll be sure to think about the video. The skit was created in the same parody as Portlandia’s “Is it Local?” and reveals harsh facts about factory farmed chicken in a comedic spoof. The viewer is quickly educated about how the chicken they just ordered in a restaurant or fast food takeout line came to be part of their meal. There’s also a deeper and disturbing undertone of indifference about knowing how the food we eat was grown and processed.
When you’re tucking into a delicious foot-long baguette that’s dripping with mayonnaise, vinaigrette and other mouth-watering flavors, the last thing you’d think you’re munching on is the same chemical found in shoe souls and yoga mats. Vani Hari, a food blogger for Food Babe say such a chemical is being used in Subway’s and other fast food chains’ sandwiches as a “bleaching agent”. Hari launched a petition that garnered nearly 80,000 signatures related to the shoe soul/bread material. Thanks to the blogger’s efforts, the truth has been revealed about what really goes into Subway’s legendary sandwiches. The chemical that’s raised a few eyebrows is known as azodicarbonamide. The substance is used to strengthen and condition the dough in nine of Subway’s grain wheat products, as the company’s ingredient list verifies. It’s not just Subway that’s guilty of using the shoe soul-making chemical. According to CNN, Arby’s and Starbucks have also used azodicarbonamide. The additive is also present in the buns used for McDonald’s McRib sandwich. In its defence, McDonald’s quipped the azodicarbonamide it uses “shouldn’t be confused” with the type used to make yoga mats. Vani Hari said despite other companies using the ingredient, he decided to target Subway because of the healthy image it tries to project. “This is not eating fresh!” Hari’s petition read.
With the promotion of wellness being at an all time high, you’re probably familiar with the role of vitamins in our daily lives. Marketing promotions are set to increase the sales of over the counter supplements, and research is now showing increased health benefits of these all natural vitamins. More and more people are taking control of their health and their wallets. All of this has got some medical companies very worried about how this new generation of health advocates and shift in use of resources could impact their missions. Some may ask, “Missions? Or, bank accounts?” Now, the FDA is stepping forward to challenge some of these health benefits of what some people are calling their new medication. Is this a ploy to help the “big gun” companies continue streaming in their billion dollar profits on prescription medications, or are there some actual discrepancies in the findings of what some companies claim to be “all natural healing” products? We, as consumers, rely on the FDA to monitor and secure our safety when it comes to our health, but some of their claims have some people questioning their motives. One particular vitamin has now come under fire and has the FDA making some claims about its safety is Vitamin D.
It is a well-known secret that distrust and unease over Japan’s food supply continues to escalate. The damage from the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the Fukushima nuclear plant has far reaching environmental effects that some experts call a “nuclear war without the war”. The clean-up of farmland is a daunting task that many say is not receiving enough financial support. The farmers eagerly volunteered to help in the Soil Screening Project that launched in October 2012. It’s a joint project between the local agriculture and consumer cooperatives being guided by Fukushima University. JA Shin-Fukushima (Shin Fukushima Japan Agricultural Cooperatives) is footing the annual $20 million USD cost of the project. It’s been reported that JA Shin-Fukushima attempted to convince TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) to take on the financial burden of the project as a way to compensate for the nuclear plant disaster and subsequent environmental damage, but their appeal was rejected by the power company.
January 26th was Leprosy Day. However, the day came and went without much notice in many parts of the world, probably because in most parts of the world, leprosy doesn’t have the sort of large foothold that it had in ancient times. However, there are some places in the world where leprosy does have a foothold, and the governments there are doing their best to cover up the disease and brush it under the rug. Brazil is one of those countries. WHO has made MDT treatments available for free to all patients worldwide since 1995. MDT is a simple yet highly effective cure for leprosy. Unfortunately, Brazil isolates its leprosy victims into communities that are treated with prejudice – forced to live in run-down towns and provided with low quality food and the barest of essential living supplies. Artur Custodio, the National Coordinator of the Movement for Reintegration of People Affecte by Hanseniasis (Morhan), told The Guardian that Brazil even changed the name of the disease from leprosy to hanseniasis in the 1990′s. Marco Collovati, an expert in leprosy diagnostic tests, told the Guradian that the change was made in order to reduce “the stigma that the word generates for people who have this disease.” Unfortunately, according to Marco, it also misleads patients into thinking that they only have a simple skin disease, when in reality they have a very serious and debilitating disease that demands immediate and intense treatment so that it doesn’t cause longer lasting and more permanent damage.
As far back as 2001, the ability to produce more chickens and other “meat” foods was being discussed in symposiums sponsored by the companies involved in the industry along with federal agencies, such as the FDA and USDA. The discussion of genetically modifying animals was as hot a topic then as it is now, only it’s no longer a hypothesis. Recently, AquaBounty, was given the green light by the Canadian government to begin the production of salmon from genetically engineered (GE) salmon eggs. The plan is to market the fish to Americans. This is just one of many GE and GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) food source news. GMO corn, rice, soy beans and other crops are headliners almost on a weekly basis. On top of concerns over GE salmon, rice and corn, keeping up with poultry demand and the quality control issues this creates is another area of great concern.
Nurses across the US are banding together to fight mandatory flu vaccine requirements by their employers. Some who refuse the vaccine are fired, while others are suspended without pay for 4-8 days or longer. But, that isn’t where the issue stops; it’s only the beginning. It’s difficult to image that nurses who refuse to submit to an employer’s mandate that they inject something into their bodies that they don’t want or that they believe is unhealthy or ineffective wouldn’t be supported by co-workers. Instead, these individuals may find themselves harassed and ridiculed by peers, supervisors and, sometimes, doctors for asserting their constitutional rights. When they return to work, these Healthcare Workers (HCW) are forced to wear surgical masks. In fact, they’re required to wear the masks for the duration of the flu season (November 1 to March 31). There are cases where the masks have made the nurses a target for ridicule and harassment. The masks quickly became a stigma and readily identified the person’s refusal to take the flu shot. That within itself was argued as a violation of the nurses’ privacy and rights. But, instead of a punitive measure, the masks have become badges of honor for these determined professionals
The movements to buy local and to know your grower have heightened public awareness of who is growing their food. More importantly, it’s made people aware of how their food is grown and of food sustainability. Many have educated themselves and become steadfast organic consumers. While this discernment is welcomed, it’s also an incomplete picture of the organic industry, especially the organic foodstuffs sold in your local grocery store that are produced by big corporate farms. The point of buying locally is to minimize hauling foods from outside your region and to support local farmers. This isn’t always possible and with the growing demand for organic foods, more and more must be trucked in. One component of this supply and demand cycle has helped to build the organic industry. That’s Big Agra organic farms. This $28 billion industry (2012 USDA figure) is not for the faint of heart. There are some high rollers playing in what was once small regional farmer territory. When Big Agra turned its eye on organic produce, animals and dairy, the landscape of organics was changed forever. Smaller organic farms no longer able to compete are being gobbled up by large food corporations that leaves thousands of unemployed farm workers in its wake. Local economies suffer as well and ultimately, the consumer does, too.
If you’ve been following the GMO crop controversy, then you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that new flu vaccines containing genetically modified (GM) proteins have been approved by the FDA. So far, three vaccines are underway with two of them already approved for marketing. Protein Sciences Corporation (PSC) is producing a FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved flu vaccine that contains genetically modified insect protein cells. The vaccine, Flublok, contains GMO proteins from three different flu strains. The GMO vaccine is said to be easier to replicate and has the potential to mass produce more rapidly than egg culture vaccines.