|Dr. Mercola Articles|
|Market Rejection of GMOs Grows — Four-Year Plan to Topple Toxic Agriculture|
|Sun, 26 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT|
By Dr. Mercola
Our annual GMO Awareness Week is upon us, and in this interview, Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) details the current state of the opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
We first met about six years ago, when we collaborated to create the direct ballot initiative to label GMOs in California.
A lot has happened since then, including the passing of what's colloquially known as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, ironically misnamed "The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act" — this despite a full 90 percent of consumers supporting mandatory labeling.
The Trump administration has also selected or appointed notorious cheerleaders for GMOs and factory farms to his cabinet — Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA, Sonny Perdue as USDA Secretary, and Rick Perry as Energy Secretary.
Meanwhile, his Tea Party allies in Congress have called for the abolition of the entire National Organic Program!1
On the upside, in 2016 we saw, for the first time in nearly 20 years, a decrease in the amount of genetically engineered (GE) crops grown around the world, in terms of acreage.
As noted by Cummins, "This represents the fact that this technology is failing, in the sense of superweeds and superpests are popping up all over the world." In the U.S., three-quarters of farmers growing GE crops like soybeans, corn or canola are having problems with these herbicide- and pesticide-resistant pests.
Market Rejection of GMOs Has Grown
Even more importantly, consumers around the world have become aware of the many problems associated with GE crops and the toxic herbicides and pesticides used on them, and do not want any of it on their plates.
In other words, the market has started rejecting GMOs, and that's what we've been fighting for all along. Nothing can or will change unless consumers apply pressure in the form of refusing to buy GMOs.
In the European Union (EU), which is the biggest agriculture market in the world, few if any GMOs are found on supermarket shelves.
In the U.S. — despite industry spending hundreds of millions of dollars to manipulate market preference — about 40 percent of Americans still believe GE foods and GE ingredients are dangerous. Another 20 percent are unsure whether GMOs are dangerous or not.
Organics and Grassfed Are Increasing in Popularity
Worldwide, we're also seeing strong growth in organics and grassfed farming and ranching. In the U.S., the organic sector grew 11.5 percent in 2016. Grassfed grew about 50 percent. In France, organics grew by 20 percent.
In the U.S., we now also have a brand new grassfed certification by the American Grassfed Association (AGA), which is the highest certification you can get for dairy, beef and poultry, including chickens, sheep and goats.
In short, we're seeing a massive demand for healthier foods. A lot more people now know about the drawbacks of factory farmed beef and dairy, for example, and are aware that when herbivores are grazed naturally, without hormones, antibiotics and other drugs, you end up with a far healthier product.
Challenges Involved in Organic Grassfed Beef Production
Indeed, the lack of processing plants is really slowing down the reversal of the system. While American farmers have the capacity to provide an ample supply of grassfed cattle, the problem is there aren't enough processing plants to accommodate a massive increase.
In all, the U.S. has about 500,000 ranchers raising livestock, but there are only three or four major buyers. Ranchers may raise the animals on pasture and treat them well, but after a year and a half or so, they must be sold.
The cattle are sold at auction, and the buyers, such as JBS (a Brazilian firm that has bought out a large part of the beef industry in the U.S.), Cargill and Tyson Foods, will offer you the lowest possible price, regardless of how much you spent on the cattle's health and wellbeing.
This cartel-like system effectively prevents farmers from recouping what they've invested, and slows down the pace at which a farmer can possibly make positive changes that require greater expenses.
Once sold, the animals are transported to gigantic feedlots — basically animal factories — where they're placed in tiny pens. GMO grains and drugs are routinely used to fatten the animals up as quickly as possible. However, in doing so, the animals' health and wellbeing suffer. For example, E. coli 0157H, a virulent pathogen, can thrive in the animals' intestines under these conditions.
Factory Farmed Meat Is No Bargain
Next, the animals are sent off to mega slaughterhouses, of which there are only a few dozen in the entire country. As in the feedlots, these are hellish places where photographs and video taping is often illegal. As noted by Cummins:
Via Organica Paves Way for Organic Chicken and Egg Production
Mercola.com and OCA are both founding members of an international network called Regeneration International, which is seeking to replace, among other things, the outdated factory farm system with a natural humane system, whereby herbivores are raised on perennial grasses under a system of holistic management.
The same problems exist in poultry and pig farming, yet innovative farmers like Cummins and many others have proven there are far better ways of raising chickens and pigs on a larger scale as well.
Cummins' farm, Via Organica, located in the high desert of Central Mexico, uses a system based on the traditional raising of poultry. In the first phase of the project, they installed a couple of thousand laying hens, which live outside all day in a 2.5-acre paddock filled with 400 olive trees and other crops. While the trees offer protection against predators from above, chicken poop acts as a natural fertilizer for the trees, making additional fertilizer use unnecessary.
By eating the insects, they also eliminate pests that might otherwise pose a threat to the trees and other crops. "If you're a small farmer, it's very difficult to make a living off just your eggs. But if you've got another cash crop in the paddock where the chickens roam, you're going to be bringing in twice as much money over time," Cummins says.
The chickens roam free all day, pecking in the dirt for worms, insects and other foraged foods. At sunset, they come into the chicken house, which is where they roost and lay their eggs. The feed provided in the chicken coop, given as a supplement to their foraged diet, is grown by local farmers using traditional, non-GMO seeds and regenerative methods.
Why Vegetarianism May Not Be the Most Environmentally Conscious Choice
Quite a few people have embraced veganism or vegetarianism as a way of bowing out of the factory farm system that abuses animals for per-pound profit. Cummins was a vegetarian for 40 years for this reason.
Why Become a Regenetarian?
A regenetarian is a person who never, ever eats factory farmed meat or dairy products, just like a vegan. A regenetarian will however consume grassfed beef, grassfed dairy and other grassfed animal products.
The average American spends a mere 10 percent of their income on food, which is ridiculously low when you consider what the highest quality, most nutritious food would cost. You cannot expect to get the highest quality at this rock-bottom price. At that level, all you're getting is cheap corn-based meals. As Cummins says, it would be reasonable to spend twice as much on food.
To pay for it, you may have to consider cutting down on other wasteful spending, such as the trend of treating clothing as single-use, disposable items. Organic foods cost more, and must cost more, because doing it right and not cutting corners costs money. It's the cost-saving measures that have resulted in hormone-laced milk and pesticide-ridden produce. It's cost-saving measures that have turned beef into a metabolic wrecker. Cheap food is cheap for a reason.
Current State of GMO Movement in the US
Last August, the so-called "DARK Act" was passed. And while many have placed their hopes on President Trump making sweeping changes, we're not likely to see any difference under Trump when it comes to GMO labeling. As before, the U.S. Congress doesn't seem to care that 90 percent of Americans want to know whether their food has been genetically engineered or not, or contains GMO ingredients.
To summarize last year's events, on July 1, 2016, Vermont's state law for mandatory GMO labeling took effect, forcing major food companies to start labeling their wares. Alas, the food industry basically bought Congress, sweeping a 100-year tradition of states' rights to implement food safety rules at the state level under the carpet. That's what the DARK Act did. It revoked states' right to impose mandatory labeling of GMOs, and with that, the Vermont law was made null and void.
In its place, the federal law replaced clear GMO labeling with quick response (QR) codes which, when scanned with your smartphone will bring you to the company's website, where you may or may not find information about the presence of GE ingredients.
New Goal: Double Organic Sales in Four Years
The consumer revolution platform now is an ambitious one — double organic sales in the next four years. At current rates of growth, we could expect it to increase by about 50 percent. Instead, we need to quadruple sales of organic and grass-fed. As noted by Cummins, by speeding up the rate at which we reach the tipping point where 15 percent of our food supply is organic or grassfed, the acceleration will multiply exponentially thereafter.
It's time to launch a #ConsumerRevolution boycott that is larger and more powerful than ever. And at the same time, we apparently have no choice but to launch a #PoliticalRevolution, especially at the local and state level, that will "throw the bums out" from Main Street to Washington D.C. — those politicians and the army of lobbyists and PR gunslingers who continue to represent the corporate and financial elite, the "1 percent," instead of the rest of us.
In order to carry out this "Resist and Regenerate" strategy, the OCA and its closest allies have come up with an Action platform called Consumer Revolution/Political Revolution 2017-2020, which includes the following.
#Consumer Revolution 2017-2020
Overarching goal: Force corporations that sell consumer products, including food, clothing, drugs and personal care products, to respond to consumer demand for truthfully labeled products that have a positive impact on human health and are produced using regenerative processes and practices that not only prevent harm to human health and the environment, but also measurably improve soils and combat global warming.
Achieve a 50 percent reduction in sales of GMO food and animal feed by 2020, with the aim of driving GMO animal feed off the market.
Overarching goal: Reform the current political process to create a democracy that works for all people, not just wealthy corporations and the 1 percent, by uniting the food, climate, economic and social justice, natural health and peace movements in a coordinated effort to support candidates, elected public officials and policies at the local, state and federal levels, that support our common goals.
1. Lobby candidates and elected public officials to support OCA's #ConsumerRevolution platform
2. Lobby candidates and elected public officials to support the "Our Revolution" platform, with the addition of:
• On food: a focus on food policy that supports consumer health and consumer right to know, and acknowledges the role food production plays in environmental and climate policy
• On health care: a focus on "Medicare for all" that includes coverage for preventive, natural and alternative health care solutions, and health freedom on vaccines and all medical treatments
• On living wage: a focus on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour so that lower-income Americans can afford organic food and natural health products and practitioners
3. Organize local grassroots meet-ups and coalitions to run candidates, for local and state offices, who support our issues
4. Oppose any candidates or policies that promote racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism and all forms of discrimination, whenever and wherever they arise
5. Oppose any laws or illegal attempts to disenfranchise voters
6. Support the decriminalization of drug use, including the legalization of marijuana, and oppose the war on drugs
7. Promote candidates and policies that advance regenerative food, farming and land use, in addition to fossil fuel emissions reduction and renewable energy
Biodynamics — The Highest Organic Standard
Biodynamic farming, which originated with Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s, is also starting to gain recognition, and might even change or modify the organic standard. There are actually two different types of organic certification in the U.S.
There's the USDA Organic label standards, which are decent but still allow producers to meet only minimum requirements, and then there are the biodynamic standards, which have always been the highest in terms of organic certification. The biodynamic organic certification is indicated with a Demeter sign.2 "What you need to realize is this is absolutely grade A+ organic," Cummins says.
Many didn't understand the implications of 100 percent grassfed until very recently. Fortunately, we're now starting to see a merger of the Biodynamic Demeter certification and the AGA's grassfed certification. Many farmers, even those certified organic by the USDA, are now stepping it up to the next level by implementing biodynamic or regenerative methods, which in terms of cattle and other herbivores is the 100 percent grassfed way of doing things.
Routing Out GMOs by Expanding the Net
Over the past two decades, the majority of the anti-GMO movement was focused on GMOs found in processed foods and a small number of whole GE foods.
Yet that's only 20 percent of the GMOs in the human food chain. Twice as much (40 percent) goes into the making of animal feed for factory farms. The only way to change that trend is by not buying factory farmed animal products, be it poultry (including eggs), pork or beef.
Another 40 percent of GMOs grown are used to make ethanol, "which is this crazed idea that it's environmentally sound … to produce an additive for gasoline from GMO corn," Cummins says. In essence, Monsanto makes money every time you drive your car, unless you're buying premium gas, which doesn't have ethanol in it. So, the less gas you use, the less money Monsanto makes. Cutting off your contributions to Monsanto is yet another reason for buying an electric vehicle.
Most also forget (or failed to understand in the first place) that 95 percent of non-organic cotton clothing is made from Monsanto's GE cotton. You may be boycotting Monsanto's food, but if you buy clothes without thinking about what it's made from, you're still feeding the beast. In short, we have to significantly widen the net and consider all the different ways GE crops sneak their way into our lives.
Many Legislative Changes Are Needed
We also need to continue fighting for legislative changes that help and support organic farmers. The reason France was able to grow the organic sector by 20 percent last year, compared to 11.5 percent in the U.S. was because the French government started paying farmers who quit using pesticides and use compost instead of chemical fertilizers.
In a nutshell, France decided to pay farmers to do the right thing, whereas the U.S. rewards farmers who agree to do the wrong thing. France also passed a law that at least 40 percent of food for schools must be organic and purchased from local farmers.
Become Active in Local Government and Expand Alliances
OCA is also calling for people of different stripes to start working together more — people in the local food movement, the slow food movement, the natural health movement, the environmental movement, the animal welfare movement, even church and spiritual movements. If you're involved in any of these, consider setting up joint meetings with other groups to discuss what you're doing, how and where your concerns intersect and how you may help each other.
To volunteer to set up or attend a Regenerative House Party or Community Meet-up in your local area this spring with other organic consumers or natural health activists, contact OCA at email@example.com.
Big corporations are trying to stamp out organic, grassfed, natural health, alternative therapies, environmental protections — you name it. As long as we remain divided, they can conquer. By banding together, by connecting the dots between all of our crucial issues, we will prevail.
Take Control of Your Health by Making Wiser Choices
For the first time in two decades, the average lifespan in the U.S. has decreased, and the U.S. is the only country in the developed world where this is happening. I for one am convinced our emphasis on factory farmed foods play a major role in this decline. Moreover, if we persist with this industrial farming model, we will eventually run out of topsoil and potable water, and that day is approaching at a rapid clip. Some estimates suggest we have less than 60 years of topsoil left if we keep going as we have been.3
We're causing potentially irreparable environmental damage. If we destroy this infrastructure for future generations, how can they possibly grow food? This is a serious issue and I'm glad so many of you are beginning to appreciate the enormity of the problem — and are embracing the solutions. As Cummins says, your greatest power lies in your choice of spending.
By avoiding food not grown in accordance with regenerative measures, non-organic cotton clothing, and ethanol-infused fuel, you help cut off the lifeblood of corporations that are destroying your children and grandchildren's chance of a healthy future. When it comes to food, choose organic produce, ideally biodynamic certified organics, and look for the AGA's grassfed certification for animal products.
The goal of the AGA is to promote the grassfed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education. Their website also allows you to search for AGA approved producers certified according to strict standards that include being raised on a diet of 100 percent forage; raised on pasture and never confined to a feedlot; never treated with antibiotics or hormones; born and raised on American family farms.
Also, seriously consider making a generous donation to the OCA. Your previous support has been instrumental in catalyzing major changes in the organic and health world. And, please remember that I will match your contributions dollar for dollar.
|Easy Bell Pepper Egg Bake Recipe|
|Sun, 26 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT|
Scrumptiously Easy Bell Pepper Egg Bake Recipe
When you think of breakfast food, the egg is probably one of the first things that will come to mind. Eggs are extremely versatile when it comes to the culinary world — they can be hard-boiled, soft-boiled, fried or poached. Some people even eat them raw just to make sure that they get the full array of nutritional components they have to offer. (It should be noted, however, that organic eggs should be the only eggs that you eat raw to make sure that you’re not exposing yourself to potential disease-causing bacteria.)
Because eggs have been part of the breakfast scene for a long time, it’s not surprising that people have managed to come up with creative ways to enjoy this poultry produce. One example that you’ll surely love is the bell pepper egg bake.
This recipe mixes the concept of stuffed bell peppers and the baked egg, combining the health benefits and flavors of these two ingredients. Try this quick and easy recipe and enjoy this new appetizing and healthy take on this breakfast mainstay.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
3 small organic bell peppers
3 large organic pastured eggs
Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
You’ll Be Impressed by the Benefits You Can Get From This Simple Recipe
Aside from the fact that this recipe yields a rather beautiful dish, it also boasts the combination of all the nutritional components of its ingredients. Here are some of the health benefits that you can get from each individual ingredient:
It is also important that you go for bell peppers grown in organic farms. Bell peppers are part of EWG’s 2016 Dirty Dozen list, which means that conventionally grown varieties of this produce contain high amounts of harmful chemicals from pesticides and herbicides.
By choosing organically grown bell peppers, you’re minimizing the risk of accidentally ingesting chemical residues, which can alter essential body processes and even lead to damaging diseases.
|Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome|
|Sat, 25 Mar 2017 05:00:00 GMT|
By Dr. Mercola
In 2013, Elizabeth Williams, a California mother of two, did something you’ve probably done many times yourself: visited a hair salon for a cut and routine wash. Several days later, she began experiencing strange symptoms indicative of stroke, including weakness on her left side.
Doctors ultimately diagnosed her with a relatively rare condition called vertebral artery dissection from hyperextension of the neck,1 otherwise known as beauty parlor stroke syndrome.
The act of extending her neck over the shampoo bowl was deemed to be the culprit, although it’s unclear if the condition resulted solely from a kink in the neck or in combination with a certain head movement caused by the stylist.2
Smith, who subsequently filed a lawsuit against the salon, conducted an informal poll of her friends’ stylists and found 80 percent were familiar with the possibility that you could have a stroke while getting your hair washed.3
What Causes Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome?
When your neck is hyperextended over the edge of a shampoo bowl, the pressure and/or whiplash-like motions on your neck can lead to a tear in the vertebral artery, which supplies blood to your brain. Dr. Steven R. Zeiler, head of stroke research at Johns Hopkins, told BuzzFeed:4
Having your hair washed is not the only act that can cause this — far from it — although it’s very rare, even when all potential causes are considered.
In a conversation with The Atlantic, Dr. Richard Bernstein, medical director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, explained that the phenomenon can occur due to innocent stretching, sneezing or even getting out of bed wrong in the morning, noting, “It is so rare that it’s a waste of time to worry about it. It’s so unlikely, and there’s really nothing you can do to prevent it.”5
Other Confirmed Cases of Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome
Beauty parlor stroke syndrome is not unheard of in the medical literature, and some studies even dispute the phenomenon’s supposed rarity.
In the International Journal of Stroke, for instance, a 2016 study found that hairdresser-related ischemic cerebrovascular events (HICE) “occur frequently in females without a predilection for the posterior circulation.”6
The researchers noted that while some cases may occur by chance, in other cases hairdresser visits may have a causal role.
A 2006 case study also relates the case of a 63-year-old woman who developed sudden dizziness, nausea and vomiting while having her hair shampooed at a beauty parlor. She was diagnosed with beauty parlor stroke syndrome with the researchers noting:
Case in point: In December 2016 a U.K. man was awarded a more than $100,000 settlement from a hair salon after suffering a stroke two days after having his hair washed. The Daily Mail also reported another British woman who suffered a stroke in 2000 after having her hair washed at a salon.8
Cervical Support Reduced Dizziness and Other Symptoms During Hair Washing
Another study, this one published in 2002, examined symptoms of beauty parlor stroke syndrome among 25 volunteers who had previously reported dizziness during salon shampoos.
Among this population, significant dizziness, neck pain and carotid blood flow were reported while extending their necks over a salon sink, but the symptoms were significantly reduced when additional cervical support was used.
“Individuals with a history of such symptoms should probably exercise caution when deciding whether to receive a salon sink shampoo,” the researchers concluded.9
Yet another study in 2000 linked the hyperextended neck position during salon shampoos to cerebellum vascular insufficiency and recommended that “public education should lead to avoidance of this position during hair shampoo treatment at hair dressing salons.”10
While the risk of being injured during a salon shampoo is generally minimal, if you have experienced dizziness or other symptoms while having your hair washed previously, you may want to forgo the risk and wash your hair at home instead.
At the very least, some have suggested that adding a thick layer of towels to support your neck and reduce hyperextension may help.
Are There Risks to Getting Your Nails Done?
Hair washing is not the only potential risk at the beauty salon, particularly if you plan on getting your nails done. Nail salon services are big business in the U.S., amounting to $8.54 billion in spending in 2014.11
The fumes released by nail care products (and other beauty care products) is one concern, particularly for salon workers; however, the nail treatments themselves can also cause damage or infection to your nails.
Writing in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, researchers identified nail disorders that are induced by nail cosmetics via procedures meant to beautify the nail.12 On the contrary, many may lead to poor nail appearance and other risks.
Less common disorders that can be caused by a trip to the nail salon include:14
• Mycobacterial infection, which can particularly occur from pedicure footbaths using equipment that is not properly sterilized or maintained with regular filter changes.
• Peripheral neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that is a rare complication of acrylic nails, possibly due to methacrylates that are sometimes used in artificial nail products.
• Nail thinning, weakness, brittleness, pseudo leukonychia (white spots), and onychoschizia lamellina (nail splitting), which may occur due to the removal of gel polish.
• Worn down or overfilled nails, which is due to the mechanical trauma that occurs when acrylic nails are removed.
• Traumatic onycholysis, the separation of the nail plate from the bed, is very common in people with acrylic nails.
It’s caused by inserting thin sharp objects in order to clean under the nails. According to the study, “These patients usually wear very long nails, and adhesion of the acrylic nail to the nail plate is stronger than adhesion of the nail plate to the nail bed.”
What Else Can Cause Vertebral Artery Dissection From Hyperextension of the Neck?
As mentioned, having your hair washed is only one precipitating factor. Dr. Wouter I. Schievink of the Cedars-Sinai Neurological Institute in Los Angeles suggested that every year 1 to 1.5 per 100,000 people may suffer from spontaneous vertebral artery dissection from hyperextension of the neck and may account for up to one-quarter of nonhemorrhagic strokes in young and middle-aged adults.15
Aside from having your hair washed in a beauty salon, other possible causes include chiropractic spinal manipulation, lifting heavy objects or even drinking a shot of alcohol (which is known as “bottoms-up dissection,” according to The New York Times).16
In the case of chiropractic manipulation, it’s thought that up to one-fourth of people who suffer an arterial dissection may have an underlying disorder or defect that predisposes them to the dissection, and related pain may be what prompts them to seek chiropractic care in the first place. The Times continued:17
Writing in the Journal of Korean Neurosurgical Society, it’s suggested that many events associated with hyperextension or rotation of the neck may result in artery dissection. “Such neck movements, particularly when they are sudden, may injure the artery as a result of mechanical stretching,” the researchers noted.18 The symptoms of arterial dissection depend on which artery is affected and may include the following:19
Should You Avoid Having Your Hair Washed at the Salon?
There are many potential causes of arterial dissections, so you shouldn’t single out having your hair washed at a salon as a particularly serious risk. That being said, if you experience any discomfort or dizziness when in a position that requires over-extending your neck or looking upward for an extended period of time, you should take it seriously, change the position and seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
If you are concerned, talk to your hair dresser and ask for extra neck support during washing. Ideally, the chair and neck support should be adjustable so you can avoid hyperextending your neck. You can also forgo the process entirely and wash your hair at home. Ultimately, the risk of suffering from beauty parlor stroke syndrome is rare, but it does happen.