- Deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999
- OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma paid out one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in U.S. history after lying about addiction risks
- Nearly 260 million opioid prescriptions are written in the U.S. each year
By Dr. Mercola
The HBO documentary “Warning: This Drug May Kill You,” details the devastating effect America’s pharma-driven opioid crisis is having on families and the victims themselves. The film, made by Perri Peltz and Sascha Weiss, features the perspectives of four families whose lives have been ripped apart as a result of opioid and heroin addiction.
Opioid and heroin addiction — which public health officials have described1 as being the worst drug crisis in American history — affects about 2.5 million Americans, nearly half a million of whom are addicted to heroin,2 a dangerous street drug that prescription pill addicts can quickly turn to because the cost is significantly less than that of prescription painkillers.
The term “opioid” is used to describe a class of drugs that includes the illegal drug heroin, as well as the legal prescription painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. Ironically, the silent but deadly opioid epidemic often starts with some of society’s most trusted professionals: doctors.
As noted in the film, a significant number of opioid addictions begin with a trip to the doctor’s office or a hospital as a result of an injury or medical problem for which addictive painkillers are carelessly prescribed. It seems no medical problem is too minor for powerful prescription painkillers to be prescribed.
This is depicted in the film, which details the story of a young woman from Beach Park, Illinois, who became addicted to OxyContin after being prescribed the medication for kidney stones. Not only are opioid pain medications (also called narcotic prescription painkillers) wildly overprescribed, but they are also often given without warning of the potential risks for addiction and/or resources to help deal with the possible risk of addiction.
Nearly 260 Million Opioid Prescriptions Are Written in the US Each Year
The number of opioid prescriptions has increased substantially over the last few decades. “In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills,” according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.3
The result? Drug overdose is now our nation’s leading cause of accidental death. In 2015, accidental drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 deaths, with 20,101 of those deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 linked to heroin. However, 80 percent of heroin users start out on prescription opioids.4
Despite the fact that Americans are dying at unprecedented rates due to Big Pharma’s prescription painkillers, the pharmaceutical industry is rarely named by the establishment media for its deadly role in the growing opioid epidemic.
Kidney Stone Pain Morphs Into Deadly Opioid Addiction for Unsuspecting Teen
Stephany Gay should have been getting her license and learning how to drive when she first became addicted to prescription painkillers. It all began when, at the tender age of 16, she started suffering from kidney stones and was prescribed OxyContin and Vicodin. It didn’t take long before Stephany, who had never done illegal drugs, developed a full-blown dependency on opioids.
The teen confided in her mom after realizing she had developed an addiction. Her mother urged her to see a doctor, but when she did she came home with another prescription: This time it was for Percocet. Stephany also got her younger sister, Ashley, addicted to opioids after offering her the medication for headaches and a better night’s sleep. Stephany’s doctor eventually stopped prescribing her opioids, causing the sisters to turn to heroin to get their fix. Stephany says:
“It made me feel like I could do anything. I felt like superwoman. I didn’t have anxiety. I didn’t feel depressed. I felt happy. I felt warm. I felt like it loved me and I loved it back. I felt like I had a relationship with heroin.”
The sisters snorted heroin for a year before experimenting with a needle. Soon after Stephany started injecting, she lost the three-bedroom home she owned and custody of her young daughter. Ashley, who once told her mother she was “too pretty to die,” overdosed on heroin and died alone in a hotel room.
Eighty Percent of Heroin Users Start With Prescription Opioids
Part two of the documentary, “Addicted to Pills,” details the heartbreaking story of a wife and mother of five children who became addicted to opioids after being prescribed the medication for a Cesarean section. Wynne Doyle, from Mill Valley, California, stopped getting out of bed just one and a half months after giving birth to her third child.
She became addicted fast, says Britt Doyle Sr., who later divorced his wife following years of addiction. Like many opioid addicts, Wynne went in and out of rehab multiple times, only to relapse again. The second rehab she entered was three times as costly as the first, says Britt Sr. But 28 days later his wife returned home with a “whole bunch of pills,” and her addiction started all over again, he says.
Wynne’s addiction grew so intense that she would purposely injure herself in order to get more pills. “I watched her slam her hand in the car door one time, just so she could go to the emergency room,” said Britt Sr., adding that the doctors would always give his wife more pain medication. At one point, Wynne had shattered both of her wrists, but as soon as they healed she would hurt herself again just to get more pills. My wife became a “totally different person,” says Britt Sr. “It was like Jekyll and Hyde.”
Seven years into her addiction and on his wife’s 11th stint in rehab, Britt Sr. had finally had enough. He moved the children out of the house and filed for divorce. Sometime later, Wynne, suffering from kidney stones, was prescribed more painkillers. She had eight bottles filled to the top sitting on her nightstand when her children found their mother lifeless in her bed.
“When I saw the pills on her bedside table when she had passed, that was probably the most anger I could feel, ever, because she’s been to that hospital easily like 50 times,” said Britt Doyle Jr., Wynne’s daughter. “They’ve seen her there unconscious and had to like [sic] pump her stomach so many times. And yet she comes in there and they leave her with more?” she asks angrily.
Adolescents Are 33 Percent More Likely to Misuse Opioids as Young Adults
Part three of the documentary tells the story of Brendan Cole from Allendale, New Jersey. The teen was prescribed opioid painkillers after having a cyst surgically removed. Four years later he died of a heroin overdose. Before his death, Cole overdosed on heroin but was revived with Narcan after his dad woke in the middle of the night to find his son lying in an unnatural position on his bed.
His lips were turning blue and “we heard the air come out of his lungs when we moved him,” said his parents tearfully. Narcan, or naloxone, is an overdose-reversal drug. It’s made by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, which began what appears to be a clear case of price gouging, raising the cost of Narcan by as much as 100 percent.
Cole recovered from the overdose, but the hospital failed to warn his family that patients revived with Narcan may experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As a result, no plan was put in place to help Cole overcome the cravings that would soon follow. The very next day, Cole overdosed again, and this time he could not be revived.
5In people with little drug experience, scientists theorize that “the initial experience of pain relief is pleasurable, and a safe initial experience with opioids may reduce perceived risk.”
Synthetic Opioids Sold Via ‘Dark Web’ Implicated in Growing Number of Overdose Deaths
In addition to prescription opioids, another threat looms: synthetic (and illegal) opioids sold through the dark web — the secret underbelly of the internet, initially created by American intelligence agencies for encrypted communication purposes. A recent piece by The New York Times6 sheds light on an emerging illicit drug trade involving dangerous synthetic opioids that are being shipped into the U.S. via small packages in the mail.
The report reveals “that most of the illicit supply of synthetic opioids is produced in labs in Asia and especially China, where many of the precursor chemicals are either legal or easier to procure.” The synthetic opioids are said to be so potent that they “have become the fastest-growing cause of the overdose epidemic, overtaking heroin in some areas,” reports the Times.
Synthetic opioids being shipped overseas include fentanyl, the infamous drug responsible for pop icon Prince’s death. Fentanyl is so potent that two milligrams is enough to kill and, unlike prescription pills, “enough fentanyl to get nearly 50,000 people high can fit in a standard first-class envelope,” the report warns.
Synthetic opioids obtained through the internet are responsible for the deaths of two teenagers from Park City, Utah. Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, both 13 years old, died after taking a synthetic opioid known as U-47700, or Pinky. The boys reportedly obtained the drug from another teen who purchased them on the dark web using bitcoin. While synthetic opioids account for a small portion of overall trafficked drugs, law enforcement says “that dark web markets have quickly assumed a more prominent and frightening role.”
Opioids Actually Alter Your Brain Structure
Studies also suggest that drugs for physical and emotional pain may change your brain. In a study by researchers at the University of Alabama, people with chronic low back pain received either morphine or a placebo daily for one month. Both groups experienced similar reductions in pain, but there was a major difference among those taking morphine — changes in the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed the patients taking morphine had a 3 percent reduction in gray matter volume over the course of the study. The reductions occurred in regions of the brain that regulate emotions, cravings and pain response.7
Further, the morphine group had increases in gray matter volume in areas related to learning, memory and executive function. Lead study author Joanne Lin told Reuters,8 “Because we are seeing that opioids rapidly change the brain, our take-home message is that opioids should be reserved for cases when most other treatment options have failed.”
Millions of Taxpayer Dollars Used for Opioid Prescriptions
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. CMS runs the Medicare program and monitors Medicaid programs run by the states. According to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), spending on opioids in the Medicare system, which is funded by U.S. tax dollars through Medicare trust funds, grew at a faster rate than spending for all drugs.
Data from the OIG shows that between 2006 and 2014, the number of Medicare recipients on opioids grew by 92 percent, compared to 68 percent for all drugs. Medicare recipients are also receiving multiple prescriptions for opioids for reasons other than cancer pain or terminal illness, the traditional uses for these strong medications.
Medicaid programs, supported by taxpayers but administered by states, also reveal excessive opioid use and probable fraud.9 In 2010, 359,368 Medicaid enrollees received an opioid prescription amounting to over 2 million prescriptions, and again suggesting many prescriptions per patient.10
While Medicaid programs likely provide generic combinations of the active ingredient in OxyContin, hydrocodone, to patients, which costs about $28 for a 120-day supply (compared with $632 for the brand name OxyContin),11 taxpayers are still paying at least $56 million for Medicaid opioid prescriptions. The cost of the opioid prescriptions does not take into consideration state-run drug treatment programs and services that are required if and when enrollees become addicted.
OxyContin Manufacturer Pays One of the Largest Pharma Settlements in US History
In December 2015, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of OxyContin, settled an ongoing lawsuit brought by the state of Kentucky for $24 million over presenting OxyContin as “nonaddictive.”12 Purdue contended that the pill slowly releases the drug over 12 hours when swallowed, omitting the fact that, when crushed, OxyContin lost its time release protections and created an instant high.
“State officials said that led to a wave of addiction and increased medical costs across the state, particularly in eastern Kentucky where many injured coal miners were prescribed the drug,” reported The Associated Press.
The 2015 settlement is similar to one Purdue agreed to in 2007 with the state of West Virginia, when it agreed to pay out $634 million because “fraudulent conduct caused a greater amount of OxyContin to be available for illegal use than otherwise would have been available.”13 Despite the lawsuits, OxyContin remains on the market.
FDA Orders Drugmaker to Stop Selling Opioid Painkiller
Opioid manufacturer Endo Pharmaceuticals hasn’t been so lucky, however. In an unprecedented move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health officials have ordered Endo to remove the opioid painkiller Opana ER from the market due to the conclusion that “the drug’s risks outweigh its benefits,” reported CBS News.14
“It’s the first time the FDA has asked a drugmaker to remove an opioid painkiller from the market,” CBS said. “The agency said it has seen a ‘significant shift’ from people crushing and snorting Opana ER to get high to injecting it.” If the drugmaker refuses to comply with the FDA’s request to pull the opioid from the market, the agency can begin a “formal process for rescinding its approval.”
Drug Companies Try to Cash in on Opioid Epidemic
While an increasing number of Americans suffer the devastating effects of opioid addiction, pharmaceutical companies are battling it out to become the top seller of addiction medications. As was highlighted in a recent NPR report,15 rather than working to make various effective treatments for opioid addiction more readily available to those who need it, the pharmaceutical industry is actively trying to stomp out its competitors by restricting access to important addiction medications.
One example of this includes the global biopharmaceutical company Alkermes and its non-opioid addiction medication, Vivitrol, a monthly injection that costs around $1,000. Alkermes, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is working vigorously to promote its drug at the legislative level as a solution to our nation’s growing opioid epidemic — and while doing so (in some cases) is restricting access to other opioid addiction medications through policy that makes it harder for doctors to prescribe alternatives to Vivitrol.
“An investigation by NPR and Side Effects Public Media has found that in statehouses across the country, and in Congress, Alkermes is pushing Vivitrol while contributing to misconceptions and stigma about other medications used to treat opioid addiction,” NPR reports.
Experts disagree about which opioid addiction medications are most effective. Some argue opioid maintenance drugs like methadone and buprenorphine — both of which contain opioids — are fueling the opioid crisis due to their street value and the idea that offering them to addicts means replacing one opioid for another. Others argue that opioid maintenance medications relieve painful withdrawal symptoms and reduce or eliminate intense cravings.
Federal health agencies and the American Society of Addiction Medicine agree that “opioid abstinence can be dangerous,” says NPR. While there are no studies comparing Vivitrol to methadone or buprenorphine, Alkermes touts Vivitrol as the more effective, opioid-free solution.
Alkermes has significantly increased its spending on federal lobbying, spending $4.4 million in 2016 compared to less than $200,000 in 2010. “Last year, Vivitrol’s sales reached $209 million — up from just $30 million in 2011,” NPR reports, adding that Alkermes projects sales could reach $1 billion by 2021.
Treating Your Pain Without Drugs
While opioid painkillers may relieve pain temporarily, the addiction risks can quickly send you spiraling out of control down a dark and dangerous path. As shown in the film, many families touched by opioid addiction end up suffering for years before finally losing a loved one to addiction.
The good news is there are many natural alternatives to treating pain. It’s particularly important to avoid opioids when trying to address long-term chronic pain, as your body will create a tolerance to the drug. Over time, you may require greater doses at more frequent intervals to achieve the same pain relief. This is a recipe for disaster and could have lethal consequences. Following is information about non-drug remedies, dietary changes and bodywork interventions that can help you manage your pain.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciose) is a plant remedy that has become a popular opioid substitute.17 In August 2016, the DEA issued a notice saying it was planning to ban kratom, listing it as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. However, following massive outrage from kratom users who say opioids are their only alternative, the agency reversed its decision.18
Kratom is safer than an opioid for someone in serious and chronic pain. However, it’s important to recognize that it is a psychoactive substance and should be used carefully. There’s very little research showing how to use it safely and effectively, and it may have a very different effect from one person to the next. The other issue to address is that there are a number of different strains available with different effects.
Also, while it may be useful for weaning people off opioids, kratom is in itself addictive. So, while it appears to be a far safer alternative to opioids, it’s still a powerful and potentially addictive substance. So please, do your own research before trying it.
Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, originally developed in the early 1960s for the treatment of opioid addiction. When taken at very low doses LDN, available only by prescription, triggers endorphin production, which can boost your immune function and ease pain.
A primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric, curcumin has been shown in more than 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity. Curcumin is hard to absorb, so best results are achieved with preparations designed to improve absorption. It is very safe and you can take two to three every hour if you need to.
One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known, astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. Higher doses are typically required for pain relief, and you may need 8 milligrams or more per day to achieve results.
Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites, as it worked well for many of my former rheumatoid arthritis patients.
This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider eating some of the pulpy core when you consume the fruit.
Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmit pain signals to your brain.
Cetyl myristoleate (CMO)
This oil, found in dairy butter and fish, acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory. I have used a topical preparation of CMO to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Evening primrose, black currant and borage oils
These oils contain the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea, or incorporated into fresh vegetable juice.
Dietary Changes to Fight Inflammation and Manage Your Pain
Unfortunately, physicians often fall short when attempting to effectively treat chronic pain, resorting to the only treatment they know: prescription drugs. While these drugs may bring some temporary relief, they will do nothing to resolve the underlying causes of your pain. If you suffer from chronic pain, making the following changes to your diet may bring you some relief.
|Consume more animal-based omega-3 fats. Similar to the effects of anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs, omega-3 fats from fish and fish oils work to directly or indirectly modulate a number of cellular activities associated with inflammation. While drugs have a powerful ability to inhibit your body’s pain signals, omega-3s cause a gentle shift in cell signaling to bring about a lessened reactivity to pain.
Eating healthy seafood like anchovies or sardines, which are low in environmental toxins, or taking a high-quality supplement such as krill oil are your best options for obtaining omega-3s. DHA and EPA, the omega-3 oils contained in krill oil, have been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial for pain relief.
|Radically reduce your intake of processed foods. Processed foods not only contain chemical additives and excessive amounts of sugar, but also are loaded with damaging omega-6 fats. By eating these foods, especially fried foods, you upset your body’s ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty-acids, which triggers inflammation. Inflammation is a key factor in most pain.|
|Eliminate or radically reduce your consumption of grains and sugars. Avoiding grains and sugars, especially fructose, will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are some of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production, which contributes to pain.
While healthy individuals are advised to keep their daily fructose consumption below 25 grams from all sources, you’ll want to limit your intake to 15 grams per day until your pain is reduced. Eating sugar increases your uric acid levels, which leads to chronic, low-level inflammation.
|Optimize your production of vitamin D. As much as possible, regulate your vitamin D levels by regularly exposing large amounts of your skin to sunshine. If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement, along with vitamin K2 and magnesium, is highly advisable.
Research by GrassrootsHealth suggests adults need about 8,000 IUs per day to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml, but you may need even more. It’s best to get your blood level tested to be sure you’re safely within the therapeutic range.
Bodywork Methods That Reduce Pain
Due to the inherent risks of addiction and the other unpleasant side effects of prescription painkillers, I recommend you pursue one or more of the following bodywork methods before taking a narcotic for pain. Each one has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for lasting pain relief and management.
•Acupuncture: According to The New York Times,19 an estimated 3 million American adults receive acupuncture annually, most often for the treatment of chronic pain. A study20 published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded acupuncture has a definite effect in reducing four types of chronic pain, including back and neck pain, chronic headache, osteoarthritis and shoulder pain — more so than standard pain treatment.
•Chiropractic adjustments: While previously used most often to treat back pain, chiropractic treatment addresses many other problems — including asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, migraines, musculoskeletal pain, neck pain and whiplash. According to a study21 published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, patients with neck pain who used a chiropractor and/or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain-free in 12 weeks compared to those who took medication.
•Massage: Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline. A systematic review and meta-analysis22 published in the journal Pain Medicine, included 60 high-quality and seven low-quality studies that looked into the use of massage for various types of pain, including bone and muscle, fibromyalgia, headache and spinal-cord pain.
The study revealed massage therapy relieves pain better than getting no treatment at all. When compared to other pain treatments like acupuncture and physical therapy, massage therapy still proved beneficial and had few side effects. In addition to relieving pain, massage therapy also improved anxiety and health-related quality of life.
•Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT): EFT continues to be one of the easiest and most effective ways to deal with acute and chronic pain. The technique is simple and can be applied in mere minutes, helping you to overcome all kinds of bodily aches and pains. A study23 published in Energy Psychology examined the levels of pain in a group of 50 people attending a three-day EFT workshop, and found their pain dropped by 43 percent during the workshop.
Six weeks later, their pain levels were reported to be 42 percent lower than before the workshop. As a result of applying EFT, participants felt they had an improved sense of control and ability to cope with their chronic pain. In the video featured below, EFT expert Julie Schiffman, teaches you how to use EFT to address chronic pain.
By Dr. Mercola
California’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced in 2015 that they intended to list glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, as a chemical known to cause cancer under Proposition 65, which requires consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Monsanto filed formal comments with OEHHA saying the plan to list glyphosate as a carcinogen should be withdrawn. When the agency didn’t give in, Monsanto took it a step further and filed a lawsuit against OEHHA in January 2016 to stop the glyphosate/cancer classification. OEHHA filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and a Fresno, California, superior court judge ruled on their behalf in February 2017.
California regulators stated that glyphosate will appear on the state’s list of cancerous chemicals beginning July 7, 2017,1 which means new labels may be appearing within the next year in California that include a cancer warning on Roundup and other glyphosate-containing weed killers, including Ortho Groundclear, KleenUp, AquaMaster, Sharpshooter, StartUp, Touchdown Total, Traxion, Vector and Vantage Plus Max II, and others.2
California’s Move Follows IARC’s 2015 Cancer Determination
The final say on whether Roundup will get a cancer warning label is still up in the air for now, as Monsanto has filed yet another appeal in an attempt to block the labeling. California’s decision to add the chemical to its Prop 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals came in response to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a “probable carcinogen.”
Monsanto continues to contest the classification, even as it’s become clear that they may have worked with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official to stop glyphosate investigations.
Email correspondence showed Jess Rowland, who at the time was the EPA’s deputy division director of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and chair of the Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC), helped stop a glyphosate investigation by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on Monsanto’s behalf.
In an email, Monsanto regulatory affairs manager Dan Jenkins recounts a conversation he’d had with Rowland, in which Rowland said, “If I can kill this I should get a medal,”3 referring to the ATSDR investigation, which did not end up occurring.
Roundup Cancer Lawsuits Popping up All Over the US
Meanwhile, more than 800 people with cancer are suing Monsanto over claims the glyphosate-based herbicide made them ill — and Monsanto did little to warn the public, despite knowing cancer risks existed.4,5 Glyphosate is said to work by inhibiting only a single enzyme not found in people or pets to kill unwanted plants, but a team of environmental attorneys including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have accused Monsanto of false advertising in this regard. In addition, Bloomberg reported:6
“The attorneys have spent the last several months poring over hundreds of confidential documents they say show that the company actively worked to downplay the cancer risk for glyphosate. Since March , the lawyers have successfully unsealed a trove of emails, letters and studies intended to inject doubt into the process by which Roundup earned its Environmental Protection Agency approval.
They suggest that Monsanto’s scientists ghost-wrote studies that cleared glyphosate of its cancer-causing potential; that the company tried to enlist EPA staff to shut down an investigation into the herbicide; and that officials hired a scientist in 1985 to persuade EPA regulators to change its decision on its cancer classification for glyphosate.”
In addition to the glyphosate/cancer lawsuits, plaintiffs from California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin are also suing Monsanto over claims that Roundup disrupts the gut microbiome.7
In regard to the claim that Roundup targets an enzyme found in plants but not in people or pets, six consumers from across the U.S. have filed a complaint against Monsanto and Scotts Miracle-Gro (the exclusive marketer of Roundup) alleging that the statement is false and deceptive, as the enzyme is, in fact, found in the gut bacteria of people and pets.
Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway is present in bacteria, and that’s the key to understanding how it causes such widespread systemic harm in both humans and animals. Beyond Pesticides explained:8
“Because glyphosate disrupts a crucial pathway for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants — but not animals — many have assumed that it does not harm humans. However, many bacteria do use the shikimate pathway, and 90 percent of the cells in a human body are bacteria. The destruction of beneficial microbiota in the human gut (and elsewhere in and on the human body) is, therefore, a cause for concern — and a major contributor to disease.”
New, More Toxic Herbicide Already Led to Farmer’s Death
As an increasing number of weeds develop resistance to glyphosate, biotech giants are working on a number of new genetically engineered (GE) crops that are “stacked” with a number of GE traits that, for instance, make the crops resistant to multiple pesticides.
Monsanto’s new GE Roundup Ready Xtend soybean, for instance, is not only resistant to Roundup but to the toxic herbicide dicamba, which is prone to drifting. The U.S. EPA approved Monsanto’s new weedkiller, XtendiMax, which goes along with its Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans — GE plants designed to tolerate both glyphosate and dicamba, in November 2016.
However, Monsanto sold dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds to farmers before the herbicide designed to go with them (which is supposedly less prone to drifting) had gotten federal approval. In 2016, when farmers sprayed their new GE crops with older, illegal formulas of dicamba, and it drifted over onto their neighbors’ non-dicamba-resistant crops, devastating crop damage was reported in 10 states.9
In November 2016, a dispute over dicamba drift turned deadly, when Arkansas soybean and cotton farmer Mike Wallace was allegedly fatally shot by another farmer. “The damaged crops have pitted farmer against farmer and strained relationships in the region, especially in light of the fact that insurance companies won’t compensate farmers for losses caused by wrongful or ‘off label’ herbicide applications due to drift,” Modern Farmer reported.10
Dicamba damage was also noted in 200,000 acres of soybeans in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri in the summer of 2016, along with 42,000 acres of peaches, watermelons, alfalfa and other crops in Missouri alone.
As of June 2017, Arkansas has received more than 400 complaints from farmers whose crops were damaged by dicamba drifting over from neighboring farms.11 In response, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to pass an emergency temporary ban on spraying the weedkiller, whose use has been increasing as more farmers plant dicamba-tolerant crops.
Monsanto ‘Troubled’ Over Arkansas Ban
This year’s complaints are thought to be related to the newer, supposedly less volatile form of dicamba, which is still causing damage to nearby crops.12 Arkansas grower Tom Burnham reported to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that dicamba has damaged his 7,500 acres of soybean crops. He estimates that about half of the region’s dicamba-resistant crops were planted solely by farmers hoping to prevent the damage they suffered last year among their non-resistant crops.
“Last year I didn’t have any issues,” he said. “This year it’s an epidemic. These weren’t what I call cowboys using the old versions of dicamba. These were people using the right stuff the right way.” In a letter to the state plant board, he continued, “I feel that the need to plant a technology to protect your crop from off-target movement is tantamount to extortion.”13
In response to Arkansas’ proposed temporary ban on dicamba spraying, Monsanto said it was “troubled” and that the move would prevent farmers from having access to all available weed-control options.14
Meanwhile, dicamba-resistant weeds have already sprouted in Kansas and Nebraska, raising serious doubts that piling more pesticides on crops will help farmers. “ … [P]iling on more pesticides will just result in superweeds resistant to more pesticides. We can’t fight evolution — it’s a losing strategy,” Nathan Donley, environmental health scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told EcoWatch.15
To protect not only the people on Earth now but also those that will make up future generations, it’s important that the widespread environmental contamination caused by chemicals like dicamba and glyphosate is not allowed to continue unchecked. As for the Arkansas ban, it must be approved by the Arkansas governor and state legislative council before being passed.16
How Much Glyphosate Is in Your Body?
Laboratory testing commissioned by the organizations Moms Across America and Sustainable Pulse revealed that glyphosate is now showing up virtually everywhere. The analysis revealed glyphosate in levels of 76 μg/L to 166 μg/L in women’s breast milk. As reported by The Detox Project, this is 760 to 1,600 times higher than the EU-permitted level in drinking water (although it’s lower than the U.S. maximum contaminant level for glyphosate, which is 700 μg/L.).17
This dose of glyphosate in breast-fed babies’ every meal is only the beginning. An in vitro study designed to simulate human exposures also found that glyphosate crosses the placental barrier. In the study, 15 percent of the administered glyphosate reached the fetal compartment.18 Glyphosate has also been detected in a number of popular foods, including oatmeal, coffee creamer, eggs and cereal such as Cheerios.
If you’d like to know your personal glyphosate levels, you can now find out, while also participating in a worldwide study on environmental glyphosate exposures. The Health Research Institute (HRI) in Iowa developed the glyphosate urine test kit, which will allow you to determine your own exposure to this toxic herbicide.
Ordering this kit automatically allows you to participate in the study and help HRI better understand the extent of glyphosate exposure and contamination. In a few weeks, you will receive your results, along with information on how your results compare with others and what to do to help reduce your exposure. We are providing these kits to you at no profit in order for you to participate in this environmental study.
In the meantime, eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home are among the best ways to lower your exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides. In the case of glyphosate, it’s also wise to avoid desiccated crops like wheat and oats.
Many people are unaware that in 1986 Congress gave the U.S. vaccine industry a shield from product liability that is unlike any other in existence. In most cases, if a pharmaceutical product injures or kills a person, the manufacturer of that product can be held financially accountable in a civil court of law. With vaccines, however, this is not the case.
In the U.S., there is a federally operated vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) that Congress created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
The VICP was created 30 years ago as an administrative alternative to a lawsuit when federally licensed vaccines recommended for children cause injury or death. Federal compensation was supposed to be awarded when there was no other biologically plausible explanation for the vaccine-related injury or death, and plaintiffs denied federal compensation or offered too little were supposed to be able to access civil courts.
However, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ruled that federally licensed vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and completely removed liability from the vaccine industry — even if it could be proven that a manufacturer had the ability to make the vaccine less reactive.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington handles vaccine injury and death cases contested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice in what has become known as “vaccine court.” The federal VICP compensates vaccine victims through a federal trust fund that collects a surcharge on every dose of vaccine purchased and administered, which means that vaccine manufacturers pay nothing into the vaccine injury trust fund even though they have no product liability.
To add insult to injury, government agencies and the U.S. Court of Claims deny federal compensation to the majority of vaccine-injured plaintiffs. As noted by the National Vaccine Information Center’s Barbara Loe Fisher at the Revolution for Truth Rally earlier this year:
“The $3.6 billion in federal vaccine injury compensation that has been awarded to more than 5,000 vaccine victims since 1988 doesn’t begin to pay for the damage done; not when two out of three claims are denied.”
A recent ruling by the highest court of the European Union, however, could change the vaccine injury compensation landscape — in Europe, at least — and the ruling has the vaccine industry up in arms over potentially being held financially accountable in European civil courts for illnesses and injuries caused by government recommended and mandated vaccines.
EU Court Rules Circumstantial Evidence Should Be Considered in Vaccine Injury Cases
In many vaccine injury cases, it can be difficult if not impossible to prove cause and effect and directly link a related injury with the vaccine, in part because such injuries may occur days, weeks or months later and also because the quality and quantity of vaccine safety studies is extremely poor. Vaccine companies and government health agencies have refused to conduct methodologically sound research into how and why vaccines cause harm and who is biologically at greater risk for being harmed.
In 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), recently renamed Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), appointed a physician committee to review over 1,000 vaccine studies on eight vaccines routinely administered to children. For more than 100 adverse health outcomes reported following vaccination, IOM was unable to determine whether or not the vaccines caused a commonly reported brain or immune system disorder.1
In short, the quality and quantity of the scientific evidence related to a wide range of brain and immune system disorders was insufficient to make a conclusion about whether or not a vaccine causes those disorders in a previously healthy person or a person biologically susceptible to vaccine harm.
So the IOM committee was unable to confirm or deny causation for most reported poor health outcomes, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, learning disabilities and autism, following receipt of certain vaccines. This does not exonerate vaccines as being safe, but rather highlights the challenges faced when a person attempts to prove a causative link between a vaccine they’ve received and a related illness or injury.
It makes common sense that the circumstances surrounding a vaccine-related illness — such as how soon reaction symptoms began following vaccine administration, or whether the person had suffered a previous vaccine reaction or was sick at the time of vaccination and so on — would be essential pieces of evidence to consider in determining probable cause. However, few civil courts have taken this kind of clinical and circumstantial evidence seriously in vaccine injury lawsuits.
This was the case with a man living in France, whose vaccine injury case is still ongoing. The man developed multiple sclerosis after receiving three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, and he and his family believe the debilitating chronic disease was caused by the vaccination. Much of the case was based on circumstantial evidence including the timing of the onset of disease in relation to vaccination.
A lower French court ruled that the hepatitis B vaccination was the probable cause of the man’s multiple sclerosis, but that lower court decision was subsequently overturned because of a lack of scientific consensus that hepatitis B vaccine causes multiple sclerosis. Eventually, the courts needed to decide what types of evidence were admissible in the case, which brought it before the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).2
EU Court Ruling May Hold More Vaccine Makers Accountable
The ECJ ruled that “serious, specific and consistent” circumstantial evidence may be considered in vaccine injury cases, prompting a barrage of criticism from the pharmaceutical industry, doctors, public health officials and the media that it would “open the floodgates” for frivolous vaccine injury lawsuits. In Nature magazine, however, Alex Stein, a law expert at the Brooklyn Law School in New York says this is not the case:3
“The court emphasized that liability claims for vaccine harm must be considered on a case-by-case basis. It also ruled that the burden of proof remained on plaintiffs (the man’s family, in this case) and that courts must consider relevant evidence from medical research.
These caveats are important, says … Stein … ‘Under this framework, credible medical evidence showing that the vaccine is safe will win the case,’ he says. ‘Those who say that the ECJ decision has opened a floodgate for multiple vaccine liability suits are therefore mistaken.'”
Stein continued that the ruling may, in fact, allow for justice to be fairly served, noting, “If courts were to use scientific methods of proof in all cases in which they must determine disputed facts, they would hardly be able to make decisions and to deliver timely justice to people. Justice is generally best served when courts are free to admit whatever relevant evidence they wish and judge it on its own merits along with the rest.”4
Indeed, the EU ruling will allow for important and pertinent evidence to be considered in vaccine injury cases to conclude “the administering of the vaccine is the most plausible explanation,” including the following:5
•The time between a vaccine’s administration and the onset of a disease
•An individual’s previous state of health
•A lack of any family history of the disease
•A significant number of reported cases of the disease occurring following vaccination
Flu Vaccine Falsely Advertised as Good Match Completely Useless for Seniors
It’s incredibly important for vaccine makers to be held accountable for dangerous or ineffective products in civil court. As we continue to see, there are more questions than answers when it comes to vaccine safety and repercussions to human immunity and overall health. The case of federally recommended annual flu shots is one such example in which reactive and often ineffective vaccines continue to be foisted on a vulnerable population, in this case the elderly.
As recently as February 2017, U.S health officials boasted that this season’s influenza vaccine was a “good match,” even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described the vaccine as having a 48 percent effectiveness rate, which means the vaccine was effective in preventing disease only 48 percent of the time.
For the past decade, the seasonal influenza vaccine’s effectiveness has been only 50 percent to 60 percent effective.6 The news that this year’s influenza vaccine was a “good match” probably prompted more seniors to get one of the 145 million doses of flu vaccine shipped to doctors’ offices and public health clinics.7
By June 2017, however, the CDC’s tune had changed. The vaccine actually did a poor job of protecting the elderly, with a low 42 percent effectiveness rate overall in preventing illness severe enough to cause someone to visit a doctor. Meanwhile, among the 65 and over crowd — who are at higher risk for influenza complications — as well as those aged 18 to 49, the flu shot “had no clear effect.”8 In other words, it was useless.
Every vaccine carries a risk of injury or death that can be greater for some people, and the potential risk of suffering flu vaccinecomplications that result in a permanent disability such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a risk you need to take into account each time you get a flu shot. While death and complete disability from influenza vaccine complications may be rare, severe complications and death from seasonal influenza itself are also relatively rare, especially for individuals with healthy immune systems.
So it is wise to weigh the risk of suffering a debilitating side effect from a flu shot relative to the more likely potential of spending a week in bed recovering from a bout with influenza. Most of the deaths attributed to influenza are actually due to complications leading to bacterial pneumonia and, unlike in past centuries, bacterial pneumonia today can be effectively treated with advanced medical care.
More Polio Spread by Vaccine
Another issue often disregarded in discussions of vaccine safety is the spread of vaccine-strain virus infections, including polio. Wild type polio was declared eradicated in the US in 1979 and in the western hemisphere in 1994.9 But despite widespread annual polio vaccine campaigns targeting children in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, the wild type poliovirus is still circulating.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative slated 2018 as the year polio would be eradicated from the Earth, but the virus is proving to be harder to outwit than officials would have you believe. Not only are strains of wild poliovirus still circulating in the world, but mutated vaccine-strain polio viruses also circulate. A large part of the problem is the polio vaccine itself, specifically the live oral polio vaccine (OPV).
In 2017, there have been 21 reported cases of vaccine-derived polio, compared to six cases of wild polio — marking the first time more cases of polio have been caused by vaccine-derived strains than wild or naturally occurring strains. In Syria alone, 15 children have been paralyzed by vaccine-derived polio, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).10 Research published in the journal Cell also revealed that the live virus used in the oral polio vaccine can easily mutate and spread through a community.11 NPR reported:12
“After a child is vaccinated with live polio virus, the virus replicates inside the child’s intestine and eventually is excreted. In places with poor sanitation, fecal matter can enter the drinking water supply and the virus is able to start spreading from person to person.
‘We discovered there’s only a few [mutations] that have to happen and they happen rather quickly in the first month or two post-vaccination,” [lead study author Raul] Andino says. ‘As the virus starts circulating in the community, it acquires further mutations that make it basically indistinguishable from the wild-type virus. It’s polio in terms of virulence and in terms of how the virus spreads.'”
While news that the oral polio vaccine is causing vaccine-strain polio cases may be surprising to you, it is not surprising at all to WHO, whose director of polio eradication Michel Zaffran called the vaccine-derived virus outbreaks an expected “hiccup.” He told NPR:13
“We knew that we were going to have such outbreaks. We’ve had them in the past. We continue to have them now. We know how to find them, and we know how to interrupt them … So it’s hiccup … a very regrettable hiccup for the poor children that have been paralyzed, of course. But with regards to the whole initiative, you know it’s not something that is unexpected.”
Into the Darkness: Most Medical Science Is Fake
Adding to the complexity surrounding the medical decisions you make for yourself and your children is the fact that much scientific research is manipulated or fraudulent. Former New England Journal of Medicine editor-in-chief Dr. Marcia Angell has stated, “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical researchthat is published.”14
In the video above, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson interviews Angell on the topic of “fake science.” Angell says, “… [P]hysicians and the public have come to believe that drugs are much better and much safer than they really are.”15 If you can’t trust the scientific data, neither can your physician, but most people make health care decisions based on their physician’s likely misguided advice.
In the case of vaccines, for example, many are not aware that the U.S. childhood vaccination schedule is based on convenience, not on safety. While your physician may tell you that giving your child multiple vaccines simultaneously is safe, think about this logically. According to Neil Z. Miller, a medical research journalist and director of the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute:
“The CDC’s immunization schedule requires that children receive eight vaccines at 2 months of age, eight vaccines at 4 months of age and eight vaccines at 6 months of age. I ask parents, ‘When did you ever take eight drugs at the same time?
… If you did take eight drugs at the same time, would you think it was more likely that you would or would not have an adverse reaction?’ Because toxicologists know that the more drugs you take at the same time, the more potential for some kind of a synergistic or additive toxicity …
The CDC has put together a schedule based on convenience. They say ‘[G]ive eight vaccines at 2 months, give eight more vaccines at 4 months and give eight more booster shots at 6 months’ because it’s convenient. They’re afraid that parents will not come to the pediatrician again and again and again if they have to keep coming back for more vaccines, so they get multiple [shots all at once].
They said, ‘We’re going to make this schedule based on convenience.’ Not based on evidence. Not based on science. There’s nothing scientific about the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.”
It’s therefore crucially important to consider multiple sources of vaccine information and use reason, intuition and common sense when making an educated decision about vaccination. Only when you have all the facts, including those from unbiased, independent sources, and think critically can you make a truly informed decision for yourself or your child that will protect your health.
By Dr. Mercola
If you’ve never heard about ketamine, you’re not alone. Scores of people had never heard the word until Bloomberg broke the story June 22, 2017, revealing that ketamine had shown up in Sanderson Farms’ so-called “100 percent natural” chicken, arguably the most popular meat in America.
Some who’ve heard of ketamine may include veterinarians, psychiatrists and people in the club scene who like to walk on the edgy (read: sketchy) side, as ketamine is known for delivering hallucinogenic effects. Testing also revealed other, and some even worse substances, and consumer advocacy groups don’t intend to sit still for it. In fact, a new lawsuit has been initiated by consumer advocacy groups due to the company’s use of the word “natural” in its advertising. Bloomberg explains:
“The consumer groups contend that Sanderson Farms “doses its chickens” but don’t explain why. Ketamine might be used to sedate the animals during transport or before slaughter. The consumer groups want Sanderson to concede it violated false advertising laws and pay for a corrective ad campaign.”1
Some consumers may feel it’s not a big deal, what with all the other questionable ingredients in foods nowadays, but that’s where they’d be wrong. As Drug.com explains, ketamine (pronounced kee’-ta-meen) is an anesthesia that “works in the brain to inhibit painful sensations.”2 It’s prescribed by psychiatrists for depressed patients and by dentists as an anesthetic. A partial list of disturbing side effects include:
- Drowsiness, light-headedness or headache for as long as 24 hours
- Its effects are more pronounced and worse with alcohol or certain medications
- Changes in behavior, mental state or mood, confusion and/or hallucinations, which “usually” go away within 24 hours
- Use in pregnant or breast-feeding women, elderly patients or children under 16 is not advised as they may be more sensitive, which is considered unsafe
- Nausea or vomiting, severe allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, swelling of your mouth, face, lips or tongue, frequent or painful urination, double vision, involuntary muscle movements and more
Is it too much to ask, when a company touts its food as natural, for consumers to expect it to be true?
Sanderson Farms’ Chicken Has a Wide Distributorship
“Natural” is a term used very loosely in terms of foods available for sale. The tests conducted by the National Residue Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) scrutinizes thousands of meat and poultry product samples every year for this very reason.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, several entities, including Friends of the Earth (FoE), the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), obtained FSIS test results and subsequently filed a complaint in federal court June 22, 2017. FoE notes that Sanderson Farms reported 2016 sales of $2.816 billion, and that the company sells chicken:
“Under its own brand name and private labels, through retail stores such as Shaw’s, Albertsons, Food 4 Less, Foods Co, WinCo Foods and others. Sanderson chicken is also distributed to institutions, and is sold to casual dining outlets, such as Arby’s, Darden Restaurants (which owns Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Yardhouse, Capitol Grill and others), Dairy Queen and Chili’s.3
Conducting inspections at 69 Sanderson Farms locations in North Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Georgia and Mississippi between November 2015 and November 2016, FSIS tested products and found questionable residue during 33 percent of their visits; 49 times, samples returned residues deemed something other than “100 percent natural.” For its part, the company maintains:
“While Sanderson Farms generally does not comment on pending litigation, we can unequivocally state that Sanderson Farms does not administer the antibiotics, other chemicals and pesticides, or ‘other pharmaceuticals’ listed in the complaint with one exception. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible.
Our veterinarians do from time to time prescribe penicillin in FDA approved doses to treat sick flocks, and our withdrawal times far exceed FDA guidelines out of an abundance of caution. Most all of the drugs and chemicals cited in the complaint are not approved for use in broilers, and some would be lethal to chickens.”
While many of the biggest chicken producers are actively taking steps to reduce antibiotic use in their operations, Sanderson doesn’t think it’s necessary. Sanderson Farms’ president and CEO Lampkin Butts says no credible science leads the company to believe they’re causing antibiotic resistance in humans, and that raising chickens without antibiotics would lead to higher mortality rates.
They’d also need to build more barns for more room between birds, and more corn, water, soybean meal and electricity, when “sustainability is all about using less of everything.”4
Hallucinogen Just One of Many Potentially Toxic Substances Found
According to Bloomberg, the ketamine detection exceeded the USDA’s maximum of 20 parts per billion (ppb), so officials used testing methods typically used for beef and pork; since ketamine is not an approved substance for use in poultry, valid testing methods haven’t been developed. However, further testing may be done with a method devised specifically for poultry.
Ketamine wasn’t the only problematic substance found in Sanderson Farms’ chicken. Besides 82 instances of “unconfirmed residues,” including pesticides, plaintiffs’ claim other troubling materials found at the plants were identified, according to Bloomberg and Meat and Poultry:
- Eleven antibiotics were found; five samples showed chloramphenicol, a powerful antibiotic that can trigger bone marrow suppression in humans, prohibited for use in animals that will become food (in fact, authorities can seize such products immediately); and six instances of amoxicillin, known as a “medically important for humans” not approved in poultry and, again, tested using beef methods
- Three samples revealed desethylene ciprofloxacin, a metabolite of ciprofloxacin, also a “medically important antibiotic for humans;” prednisone, a steroid; ketoprofren, an anti-inflammatory drug; and butorphanol, an opioid analgesic
- The pesticides abamectin and Emamectin were detected using testing methods that apply to pork
- Two substances banned in chicken production included the synthetic growth hormones melengestrol acetate and the beta agonist ractopamine
- Three instances of penicillin residue were detected, for which the residue regulatory limit is zero
Semantics: What ‘All Natural’ Denotes
Perhaps one reason groups representing consumers are incensed enough to sue Sanderson Farms is because the company hawks its wares, as it were, in advertising pieces calling attention not so due to their chicken’s great taste, but how natural it is.
Folksy, flannel shirt-wearing spokesmen face the camera and chat in a 2016 commercial about how disingenuous it is for other chicken producers to “trick” customers into paying more money by labeling their products “raised without antibiotics,” when in fact, the second fellow drawls, “by federal law, all chickens must be clear of antibiotics before they leave the farm.” The takeaway? “Don’t fall for the hype.”
Another Sanderson Farms “good, honest chicken” commercial from 2017 (see above) throws in canned laughter when the guys discuss how “fancy marketing” labels that say “no added hormones or steroids” mislead people. “It’s funny because it’s illegal to give chickens added hormones and steroids,” one guy says.
Ironically, one of the substances found in the company’s chicken was the synthetic hormone melengestrol acetate. Meanwhile, the whole idea of natural denotes safe and free from drugs and pesticide residues. Bloomberg notes:
“FSIS can take enforcement action including levying fines or closing facilities. Multiple violations land a company on the Residue Repeat Violator List. Many of these products use the word natural as part of their labeling and advertising.”5
OCA’s international director, Ronnie Cummins, stated:
“Consumers should be alarmed that any food they eat contains steroids, recreational or anti-inflammatory drugs, or antibiotics prohibited for use in livestock — much less that these foods are falsely advertised and labeled ‘100% Natural.’
Sanderson’s advertising claims are egregiously misleading to consumers, and unfair to competitors. The organic and free-range poultry sector would be growing much more rapidly if consumers knew the truth about Sanderson’s products and false advertising.“6
The Fine Print for Chicken Producers, Government Entities and Consumers
According to Bloomberg, antibiotic use in agriculture is under heavy fire from public health activists because of its alleged link to “growing antibiotic resistance,” but adds that “Sanderson stands by the practice.”7
While the USDA declined comment (as it’s the USDA, not the FDA, that regulates poultry) regarding whether any forthcoming action against Sanderson Farms can be expected from FSIS’ findings, the company itself emphatically stated its intention to fight the lawsuit and, meanwhile, to continue its ad campaigns. Meat and Poultry reported part of the company’s response:
“We will vigorously defend this lawsuit, and will take specific steps to make sure our position is clear. We will also continue our advertising campaign to educate consumers on our position regarding the judicious use of FDA-approved medicines to treat sick chickens and to prevent disease in our flocks. Such use is consistent with our animal welfare obligations to the animals under our care, our environmental sustainability efforts and our obligations regarding food safety.”8
Proving that the consumers who filed suit were actually fooled by advertising and false labels is going to be an uphill battle, according to food law litigators. They maintain there needs to be evidence that consumers bought the products because they thought it was free of the chemicals mentioned in the commercials, and that they wouldn’t have purchased it if they’d known.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown concern regarding antibiotics’ use in animal husbandry, saying it’s contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Its 2013 report links two of 18 antibiotic-resistant bacterium to the use of antibiotics in animals.9
Concern regarding antibiotic-resistant bacteria on meat and poultry is because it can cause disease, says CDC director of the division of foodborne, waterborne and environmental diseases, Dr. Robert Tauxe, as animal research worldwide shows that when antibiotics are used in animals that produce food, it has a negative impact on public health; it can make people very sick. FoE’s deputy director of food and technology Kari Hamerschlag says:
“Drugs in our chicken is anything but natural. This scandal is a wake-up call to all the consumers who want healthier meat. The widespread presence of drugs in Sanderson Farms chicken reflects the excessive use of antibiotics and other chemicals used to keep animals alive in the filthy, inhumane, factory-farm conditions in which the birds are raised.”10
Why Do Companies Insist on Putting Such Additives in Their Products?
Tyson Foods Inc., by far the leading poultry company in the U.S., top producer Perdue Farms Inc.,11 and Butterball LLC have all initiated processes to raise chickens without antibiotics, and they make no “no antibiotics ever” promises. However, more than 50 percent of Perdue’s flocks receive no antibiotics at all, and Tyson has pledged that by September 2017, it will largely eliminate antibiotics used to treat humans from its chicken operations, The New York Times notes.12
Sanderson Farms isn’t the only company to use the word “natural” as part of its shtick. General Mills Inc. was called out by the same group of attorneys (Richman Law Group) when glyphosate showed up in what was purported to be 100 percent natural granola bars.
Hormel Foods Corp. is also under legal scrutiny as its line of deli meats, Natural Choice, is made with not-natural ingredients, including pork from pigs raised using both synthetic growth promoters and antibiotics. Both cases are still pending and both continue to deny doing anything wrong.
It’s no secret that many Americans are waking up to the fact that simply going to the store, buying groceries and eating them, isn’t working well at all because of all the hair-raising toxins and other unsavory elements so-called foods are laced with. As there’s an absence of a specifically worded definition of what constitutes “natural,” especially in light of a slew of lawsuits alleging gross misrepresentation in advertising, in 2015 the USDA asked the public for its collective opinion.
Nearly 7,000 people responded, and that’s a good thing — it’s hard to say what the USDA would have done had it been only 10 or 12. But it stood by its policy that natural in regard to food means “nothing artificial or synthetic” or containing substances, including added color, “that would not normally be expected to be in that food.”13 Still, the regulations are so vague, Bloomberg suggests that even chicken nuggets would fly under USDA definitions:
“Unlike foods regulated by the FDA, those under USDA rules need approval for label claims such as “100 percent natural,” so lawsuits that tried to challenge such claims would likely be met with successful preemption arguments, citing that pre-market blessing from USDA.”
While many people find it cumbersome to be so vigilant over the foods they bring home for, it’s never been more important to do so.
[Take note, pill popping America: More than 3 decades ago Iatrogenic Illness (caused by doctors, hospitals and medications) was made public but nobody seemed to care. TMR]
by Jon Rappoport
July 4, 2017
You can have Obamacare. Or you can take the current Republican re-do. Have you read it? Do you know exactly what’s in it? Of course not.
I can tell you this. Every possible healthcare bill has the same flaw. It’s called death. I’ll explain in a moment.
But first I want to mention that, for the past decade, as a working reporter, I’ve taken many actions to put a piece of medical information in front of mainstream news media, and they won’t bite. No matter what. I’ve published the information, backed it up seven ways from Sunday, and it doesn’t matter. No dice.
Here it is. Again. Every year, like clockwork, the US medical system kills 225,000 people. That’s a mainstream conclusion. A conservative conclusion. By extrapolation, that means the US medical system kills 2.25 MILLION people per decade.
Therefore, any new law that places more Americans inside the medical system through insurance plans will increase those death numbers. The death numbers will rise to new heights.
Where does the 225,000 death figure come from? A review in the July 26, 2000, Journal of the American Medical Association, titled: “Is US Health really the Best in the World?” The author was Dr. Barbara Starfield, a revered public health expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
When I interviewed her in 2009, not long before her death, I asked whether the federal government was doing anything to comprehensively fix the medical horror show, and whether any official from the government had approached her to consult on that fix. To both questions, she emphatically answered: “NO.”
In her Journal review, Starfield broke down the ongoing medical tragedy this way: annually, 106,000 Americans die from the effects of correctly prescribed, FDA approved, medicines. 119,000 Americans die as a result of mistreatment and errors in hospitals.
Again, it doesn’t matter what kind of national health insurance plan you prefer. As long as it puts more Americans under the umbrella of the medical system, the death figures will rise.
Starfield was not the only person to blow the whistle. I’ll give you two more examples.
Consider this article, “The Epidemic of Sickness and Death from Prescription Drugs.” The author is Donald Light, who teaches at Rowan University, and is the 2013 recipient of ASA’s [American Sociological Association’s] Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology. Light is a founding fellow of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2013, he was a fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. He is a Lokey Visiting Professor at Stanford University.
Donald Light: “Epidemiologically, appropriately prescribed, prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death, tied with stroke at about 2,460 deaths each week in the United States. About 330,000 patients die each year from prescription drugs in the United States and Europe. They [the drugs] cause an epidemic of about 20 times more hospitalizations [than the deaths: 6.6 million hospitalizations annually], as well as falls, road accidents, and [annually] about 80 million medically minor problems such as pains, discomforts, and dysfunctions that hobble productivity or the ability to care for others. Deaths and adverse effects from overmedication, errors, and self-medication would increase these figures.” (ASA publication, “Footnotes,” November 2014)
One more. The journal citation is: BMJ June 7, 2012 (BMJ 2012:344:e3989), “Anticoagulants cause the most serious adverse events, finds US analysis.” Author, Jeanne Lenzer.
Lenzer refers to a report by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices: “It calculated that in 2011 prescription drugs were associated with two to four million people in the US experiencing ‘serious, disabling, or fatal injuries, including 128,000 deaths.'”
The report called this “one of the most significant perils to humans resulting from human activity.”