Just the Facts
Monsanto Picks up Its BGH and Goes Home
The Canadian government has rejected Monsanto’s bid to push bovine growth hormone in Canada. The injectable hormone is designed to force a cow’s body to make more milk with less feed. The decision, reached after nine years of review, was not that BGH is risky for humans. Rather, Health Canada ruled that BGH “presents an unacceptable threat to the safety of dairy cows,” increasing mastitis, an udder infection, by 25 percent, infertility by 18 percent, and lameness by 50 percent.
Potato Eaters Beware: Don’t Operate Heavy Machinery
Eating potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants may reduce your ability to awaken from anesthesia, according to a study presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists convention. These foods contain solanaceous glycoalkaloids (SGAs) which help plants repel insects but impair two human enzymes involved in eliminating drugs. Blocking these enzymes, acetylcholinesterase and butylcholinesterase, can also impair the body’s ability to detoxify drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, according to anesthesiologist Jonathan Moss of the University of Colorado.
Still Deadly, but a Lot Safer
The Department of Agriculture is patting itself on the back at the first anniversary of its new meat inspection program. The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is designed to identify the sloppiest parts of slaughter operation and do what it can to clean them up. Over a six-month period, salmonella contamination of beef, chicken, and pork was reduced.
Just as the USDA made its announcement, dozens of people fell ill from tainted hot dogs and deli meats produced by a Sara Lee subsidiary, and Oscar Mayer announced a recall of luncheon meats. Listeria was the culprit in both cases. The federal meat inspectors union blasted the HACCP program, showing that carcasses were still frequently splattered with feces harboring disease-causing bacteria.
Tonsil Tests for Mad Cow Disease
Mad cow disease can be detected by checking the tonsils. John Collinge of St. Mary’s Hospital in London has found that prions, the infective agent in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human form of mad cow disease, can be isolated from the lymphoid tissue in tonsils. A new plan in Britain calls for testing thousands of people.
Meanwhile, a man in Kaysville, Utah, was diagnosed with CJD at just 30 years of age. A frequent hunter, it is suspected he acquired the disease from eating infected deer or elk.
Three cases of mad cow disease surfaced in cattle in France in the first two weeks of January, prompting French agriculture officials to order the destruction of an entire herd of 170. Eighteen cases appeared in France in 1998.
A Website for Research Volunteers
Want to volunteer for a research study? The CenterWatch website lists thousands of research trials, sponsored by drug and biotechnology companies and the National Institutes of Health, looking for volunteers.
And One for Supplements
The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) at the National Institutes of Health announced the launch of its new International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements (IBIDS) database.
So Long, Mystery Meat
Yale University hosted a seminar for college dining hall food service staff on preparing the foods most in demand on college campuses. What was at the top of the list? “Being a vegetarian is big now. It’s THE trend,” said Mark Singer of Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania.
The tireless defendants in the London McLibel trial, Dave Morris and Helen Steele, have filed an appeal seeking to overturn the judgment in the case. The trial judge ruled that the pair had defamed McDonald’s in a leaflet. In fact, the judgment was all but a victory for Morris and Steele, as the court ruled that much of the leaflet was indeed true, including charges that McDonald’s was responsible for animal cruelty, that its ads exploited children, and that it paid workers poorly. McDonald’s never attempted to collect the $98,000 judgment.
The trial was the longest in British legal history, with 314 court days over 2-1/2 years. PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., provided four days of testimony on the links between diet and cancer in the original trial.
A 5,000-year-old corpse, discovered six years ago in an Alpine glacier and nicknamed Otze, was apparently vegan. Hair analysis revealed an absence of meat and dairy products in his diet.
TOP PHOTO: © 1999, PHOTODISC