GM maize pollutes rivers across the United States

From The Independent via GMWatch:

An insecticide used in genetically modified (GM) crops grown extensively in the United States and other parts of the world has leached into the water of the surrounding environment.

The insecticide is the product of a bacterial gene inserted into GM maize and other cereal crops to protect them against insects such as the European corn borer beetle. Scientists have detected the insecticide in a significant number of streams draining the great corn belt of the American mid-West.

It seems they have built-in the insecticide into the crop itself and somehow it has been washed out and ended up in the environment now polluting streams.
That makes me wonder: Aren’t we eating this built-in insecticide when we eat this stuff in any form whatsoever? I guess so, but I am sure it is completely safe and without any health hazard. Ha, ha.

Pravda: Americans to Become Used to Drinking Russian Kvass

Bottled Kvas in Russia

Bottled Kvas in Russia

From Pravda.ru:

The famous producer of soft drinks Coca-Cola will sell  kvass under the trademark “Krushka & Bochka” (Mug & Barrel) , which is produced in Russian factories, in the  U.S. , according Bigness.ru.

The start of sales of the famous Russian drink is timed to the visit of Dmitry Medvedev to the country . Kvass will be sold in plastic bottles  of 0,5 liters. The new product can be purchased later this month in stores Whole Foods Market in New York. A bottle of the drink will cost about 2.5 dollars. Coca-Cola began production of kvass in Russia in 2008.

Today, Coca-Cola produces 500 brands of carbonated and still beverages, including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, Vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid and Georgia Coffee.

That’s nice to know, but what is kvass anyway? From Wikipedia:

Kvass or kvas (borrowed from Russian квас (kvas) or from Polish kwas (meaning acid) in the 16th century), sometimes called in English a bread drink, is a fermented beverage made from black rye or rye bread  (which contributes to its light or dark colour). By the content of alcohol resulted from fermentation, it is classified as non-alcoholic: up to 1.2% of alcohol, according to the standard of Russia.

It’s still – or again – very popular in Russia, again from Wikipedia:

Although western soft drinks such as Coca-Cola  and Pepsi  previously smothered the commercial sale of kvass in Russia, currently kvass is being marketed as a patriotic alternative to cola, sparking a recent “kvass revival.” For example, the Russian company Nikola (whose name sounds like “not cola” in Russian) has promoted its brand of kvass with an advertising campaign emphasizing “anti cola-nisation.” Moscow-based Business Analytica reported in 2008 that bottled kvass sales had tripled since 2005 and estimated that per-capita  consumption of kvass in Russia would reach three liters in 2008.

The news release from Coca Cola can be found here.

Coca Cola harmful to Male Fertility?

It seems that’s what Danish scientists concluded. In a work published in the American Journal of Medical Research they urge people to stay away from Coca Cola. Writes Fars News (in Persian):

Fars News Agency: Danish research on the sperm of 2,500 young Danes concluded that consumption of the beverage, “Coca-Cola” had a severe negative effect on their sexual ability and therefore urged people to avoid drinking.

Fars News is not the only one carrying this news, though. The study is also mentioned on Reuters:

Men who drink about a quart or more of cola every day could be causing harm to their sperm, results of a Danish study hint.

On average, these men’s sperm counts were almost 30 percent lower than in men who didn’t drink cola. While most of the sperm counts would still be considered normal by the World Health Organization, men with fewer sperm generally have a higher risk of being infertile.

The link is unlikely to be due to caffeine, the researchers say, because coffee did not have the same effect, even though its caffeine content is higher. Instead, other ingredients in the beverage or an unhealthy lifestyle could be involved.

However, Reuters doesn’t mention a warning by the researchers not to drink Coca-Cola:

It is still not clear if the cola or the unhealthy lifestyle, or both, is to blame. However, Dr. Fabio Pasqualotto, of the University of Caxias do Sul in Brazil, who was not involved in the study, said the drink itself probably wasn’t the most important factor.

The study itself says in its Conclusion section:

In conclusion, we found that moderate caffeine or cola consumption  (≤800 mg or 1 L of cola per day) was not associated with a reduction in semen quality. However, among the small fraction of men (3%) who consumed “high” quantities of cola, and possibly caffeine, daily (exceeding 800 mg or >1.0 L, respectively), several semen parameters were reduced. The associations found for high-quantity cola drinkers could not be attributed to the caffeine content in cola, which was not high. We cannot exclude the possibility of a threshold above which cola  (and possibly caffeine) negatively affects semen quality. Alternatively, a less healthy lifestyle among these men may explain the findings. Since cola consumption is high and has been increasing among young Danes, our findings, if confirmed, may be of public health concern.

The study mentioned is available here.

Africa as the Next Frontier in the Quest for Growth

On Alternet today, we find the following headline:

Billionaires and Mega-Corporations Behind Immense Land Grab in Africa
20+ African countries are selling or leasing land for intensive agriculture on a shocking scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era.

It seems that there is a massive land-grab going on in Africa:

An Observer investigation estimates that up to 125 million acres of land — an area more than double the size of the UK — has been acquired in the last few years or is in the process of being negotiated by governments and wealthy investors working with state subsidies. The data used was collected by Grain, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the International Land Coalition, ActionAid and other non-governmental groups.

This is all part of a larger pattern, it seems. Lately, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF went to Africa saying in a speech:

All across the continent, we can see signs of life, with rebounds in trade, export earnings, bank credit, and commercial activity. In 2010, the IMF expects growth of around 4½ percent.

[…]

The twin challenges for Africa are to revive strong growth and reinforce resilience to shocks.

So Africa becomes the next – and possibly final frontier – on Earth in the capitalists’ quest for world domination. I again cite from a historical document:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

This is from the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848. Marx and Engels were on to something, weren’t they.

It is really worthwhile reading some of these old writings even if you don’t share the worldview propagated therein. There might be lessons in there for you anyway, you know.
Nowadays, we delude ourselves that we have made progress and that we have improved as humans. Read the old documents and you will see that they had figured out the source of the problem hundreds or even thousands of years before our time. It always has to do with greed and with a certain type of personality.

Colorado Firm Expands Recall of Beef Products

The U.S. Food Saftety and Inspection Services releases this information on June 24, but reissued it today (June 28, 2009)  because the company concerned expanded the recall to include more products. See FSIS news release here.

Recall Release CLASS I RECALL
FSIS-RC-034-2009 HEALTH RISK: HIGH


Congressional and Public Affairs
(202) 720-9113
Bryn Burkard

Editors Note: This recall release is being reissued to expand the June 24 recall to include approximately 380,000 pounds of assorted beef primal products.

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2009 – JBS Swift Beef Company, a Greeley, Colo., establishment is voluntarily expanding its June 24 recall to include approximately 380,000 pounds of assorted beef primal products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Together with traceback information and laboratory data, the recall is being expanded as a result of FSIS’ cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an ongoing investigation into 24 illnesses in multiple states, of which at least 18 appear to be associated. This investigation prompted the company to re-examine the effectiveness of their food safety system for the April 21 production of beef primals, and they are conducting this recall out of an abundance of caution as the safety of the products produced on a portion of that day could not be assured.

The beef products were produced on April 21, 2009 and were distributed both nationally and internationally. A list of the products subject to the expanded recall attached.[PDF Only]

Each box bears the establishment number “EST. 969” inside the USDA mark of inspection as well as the identifying package date of “042109” and a time stamp ranging from “0618” to “1130.” However, these products were sent to establishments and retail stores nationwide for further processing and will likely not bear the establishment number “EST. 969” on products available for direct consumer purchase. Customers with concerns should contact their point of purchase.

The recalled products include intact cuts of beef, such as primals, sub-primals, or boxed beef typically used for steaks and roasts rather than ground beef. FSIS is aware that some of these products may have been further processed into ground products by other companies. The highest risk products for consumers are raw ground product, trim or other non-intact product made from the products subject to the recall.

E. coli O157:H7 H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact a physician.

Media and consumer questions regarding the recall should be directed to the company’s Consumer Hotline at (800) 685-6328.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Nestlé Refused FDA Records Requests

About a week ago, I posted a FDA warning where the agency warned about Nestlé cookie dough.
The company then claimed that (emphasis added):

Nestlé immediately initiated a voluntary recall of refrigerated and frozen Nestlé Toll House cookie dough products as a precautionary measure.

These products are sold predominantly in the US, although small quantities are also exported to Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Bahrain and Singapore.

While the ongoing CDC epidemiological analysis links these illnesses to the consumption of raw cookie dough, the E. coli strain implicated in the investigation has not been detected in any Nestlé product. Nestlé is cooperating fully with the FDA and CDC to resolve the issue and, as soon as the situation has been clarified, Nestlé USA will put this much-loved product back on the market.

Nestlé, being a respected company, one might be inclined to believe them. However, an article in the Washington Post calls this claim into doubt: Continue reading

FDA Warns about Nestlé Cookie Dough

FDA NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: June 19, 2009

Media Inquiries: Michael Herndon, 301-796-4673, michael.herndon@fda.hhs.gov
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Nestle Toll House Prepackaged, Refrigerated Cookie Dough
Nestle Voluntarily Recalls all Varieties of Prepackaged, Refrigerated Toll House Cookie Dough

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning consumers not to eat any varieties of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to the risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7 (a bacterium that causes food borne illness).

The FDA advises that if consumers have any prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products in their home that they throw them away. Cooking the dough is not recommended because consumers might get the bacteria on their hands and on other cooking surfaces.

Retailers, restaurateurs, and personnel at other food-service operations should not sell or serve any Nestle Toll House prepackaged, refrigerated cookie dough products subject to the recall.

Nestle USA, which manufactures and markets the Toll House cookie dough, is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation by the FDA and CDC. The warning is based on an ongoing epidemiological study conducted by the CDC and several state and local health departments. Since March 2009 there have been 66 reports of illness across 28 states. Twenty-five persons were hospitalized; 7 with a severe complication called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). No one has died.

E. coli O157:H7 causes abdominal cramping, vomiting and a diarrheal illness, often with bloody stools. Most healthy adults can recover completely within a week. Young children and the elderly are at highest risk for developing HUS, which can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

Individuals who have recently eaten prepackaged, refrigerated Toll House cookie dough and have experienced any of these symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately. Any such illnesses should be reported to state or local health authorities.

The FDA reminds consumers they should not eat raw food products that are intended for cooking or baking before consumption. Consumers should use safe food-handling practices when preparing such products, including following package directions for cooking at proper temperatures; washing hands, surfaces, and utensils after contact with these types of products; avoiding cross contamination; and refrigerating products properly.

Recalled Nestlé Products

Recalled Nestlé Products (Picture provided for informational purpose only, real product may look different, check with the list of products to be recalled)

Nestlé insists that the recall is volunatary, but at least they provide a list of products concerned.

From the Nestlé corporate website we learn form a press release that mostly the US was concerned but small quantities of these products were exported to Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Bahrain and Singapore.

Typical Nestlé-speak: Food that poisons people is voluntarily recalled and of course their products are not to blame anyway and its small quantities only, yada, yada.