Archive | May, 2013

Organic Food and GMOs

6 May

Recently, California tried to pass legislation that would require food to be labeled in regard to the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). From information that is readily available, it would appear simpler to only require it when GMOs are not used. The way the industry sells the “usefulness” of GMOs, you’d think they’d want to point out to consumers those products that “do not contain GMO sources”, as a “health risk”.

Instead, the legislation did not pass. Now normally this might not be such a big deal. But now it appears that the labeling for “organic” products is being distorted to allow for GMOs in organic food. One would think that an extremely basic premise for an organic product would be one whose seed came from nature.. The USDA in particular clearly states what is required for organic labeling on their website.

Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used. (Source : http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop )

Additional information on the subject can be obtained from this article from The Alliance for Natural Health.

Does anybody know. “Are peanuts sold in the US genetically modified?” Answer may lie in a University if Florida Publication. They appear not be be genetically modified as seed appears to be readily available.

Insecticides and Bees

4 May

For some time now, perhaps beginning in 2006, there has been a concern around the world about a problem with bees. Known as Colony Collapse Syndrome, population of bee colonies are on a decline. The official statement from USDA is:

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a serious problem threatening the health of honey bees and the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States. Despite a number of claims in the general and scientific media, a cause or causes of CCD have not been identified by researchers.

There are others who think that pesticides and even genetically modified farm crops are the cause. Pesticides are by design not good for insects. A specific pesticide known as neonicotinoids is widely in use in the US and considered the front runner as the major cause of CCD.

The European Commission had been working toward a ban on the use of neonicotinoids, against protest from the chemical companies. In April of 2013, the EU decided to implement a continent wide ban on the use of neonicotinoids. Even though the member vote (15 for ban, 12 against) was not the wider majority usually required, the decision was passed to the European Commission, who decided to go forward with the ban.

Within the US this week, a plan for no action was taken.  A report, by the Department of Agriculture and the EPA, blamed a list of possible factors for the cause of CCD. Even though pesticides, in particular neonicotinoids could be the cause, they felt that more studies were in order.

Health Quality Partners (HQP) and Hospital Incentives

1 May

There is a very good article written by Ezra Klein in the Washington post entitled :

If this was a pill, you’d do anything to get it

It is a story about the Health Quality Partners, who in Doylestown Pa., go about improving the lives of chronically ill patients. They have nurses who  visit patients in their homes on a weekly basis to discuss their conditions and progress. It’s a proven process that improves the quality of life for their patients and reduces the overall cost of care. Unfortunately it is on the chopping block under the new Healthcare program. There does not appear to be enough money to be made in the program.

Ezra’s article goes on to chronicle what really incentivizes the healthcare system to run on all cylinders when it comes to making money :

If you go into the hospital for heart surgery and you end up getting a central-line infection, you’d hope that the hospital would be penalized for it. The opposite, in fact, is true. According to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, surgical complications increase the margin the hospital makes on the patient by 330 percent for the privately insured and 190 percent for Medicare patients.

The Health Quality Partners in effect, are holding back chronically ill patients from hospitals with their in-home care. That is where the cost benefits are demonstrated. The profits on the other hand, are derived when these chronically ill patients enter the hospital.

We seem to be coming up with solutions on a daily basis, only to see them shot down for their “effectiveness”.

Check out the article in full from the link above.