in all my infinite wisdom

Month: July 2020

These Ingredients are Banned in Almost Every Country in the World BUT the United States WHY?

reblogged from https://foodrevolution.org/blog/banned-ingredients-in-other-countries

Below are some of the most commonly used food ingredients and practices that are allowed in the United States, but banned elsewhere.

Banned Ingredients #1 — Dough Conditioners

Dough conditioners, such as potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide are chemicals used to improve the strength and texture of bread dough. Dough conditioners are often found in white breads, rolls, and “egg breads.” However, they are possible human carcinogens (potassium bromate is classified as a category 2B carcinogen). And exposure to them is known to cause respiratory sensitivity, such as asthma or other breathing difficulty. As such, potassium bromate is banned in China, India, Brazil, the European Union, and Canada. And azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia and Europe.

Banned Ingredients #2 — Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. But now, BVO can be found in certain colorful sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas as an emulsifier. Studies have shown that BVO isn’t harmless. It actually accumulates in human tissue, as well as breast milk, and can cause memory loss over time. Bromine toxicity can lead to skin rashes, appetite loss, and heart problems, as well as major organ damage and birth defects. Bromine also competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which can increase risk for iodine deficiency, autoimmune disease, and even certain cancers. And although BVO has been banned in countries like Japan, it’s been used in food and beverages in American since 1977 when it was approved by the FDA.

Banned Ingredients #3 — Propylparaben

In the United States, propylparaben is used as a preservative in tortillas, muffins, trail mix, pies, sausage rolls, and more. Research has found that it can affect sex hormones and sperm counts in young rats. Cornell University research had also indicated that exposure to parabens may be linked to breast cancer. Environmental Working Group senior scientist Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., tells us, “It is of great concern to us that the use of an endocrine-disrupting chemical in our food is considered safe by our own government… Studies show that chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to developmental and reproductive problems.” Propylparaben is totally legal in the U.S., but in 2006 the European Food Safety Authority banned the use of propylparaben in food. And in 2015, the EU went further – also banning propylparaben from cosmetic products.

Banned Ingredients #4 — BHA and BHT

BHA and BHT are popular man-made antioxidants used in dry mixes, cereals, and dehydrated potato products to preserve them and increase shelf life. They’re also found in product packaging. These are possible carcinogens and endocrine disruptors — meaning that they can alter the normal function of your hormones and lead to disease. BHA and BHT are banned for use in food and beverages by the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan, and other countries.

Banned Ingredients #5 — Synthetic Food Dyes

Food manufacturers use synthetic food dyes, such as blue 2, yellow 5, and red 40, to enhance the coloring of certain foods and ingredients to make them more appealing to consumers. Some foods that contain food dyes include beverages (like juices, sports drinks, and sodas), candy, and glazes used in baked goods and sweets. They’re even used in silly things like making mustard more yellow, salmon more pink, and jarred pickles the perfect shade of yellow-green. And don’t even get me started on maraschino cherries!

Research has linked consumption of synthetic dyes to an increased risk for numerous conditions, like tumors and hyperactivity in children. What’s even more infuriating is that the U.S. used to use natural food dyes until the mid-19th century. But then, food manufacturers realized it was much cheaper to use chemicals, which turned food even brighter colors.

Synthetic food dyes are banned in Europe and Australia, where more natural coloring compounds are used. For example, in most of the world, Fanta contains actual fruit juice and is dyed naturally. But Americans enjoy Fanta colored with petroleum-derived artificial dyes like red 40 and yellow 6.

Banned Ingredients #6 — GMOs

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been around since the 1980s. But they have become a controversial topic — and for good reason. While they’re widespread in the U.S. — with most U.S. soy, sugar beets, corn, canola, cotton, and alfalfa being GMO crops — many European countries have banned or regulated them due to public safety concerns.

One common genetic manipulation involves altering DNA in certain crops to make them resistant to herbicides. One of the most common herbicides used in conjunction with these GMOs is glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup. Glyphosate consumption is linked to cancer. In fact, several people have won cases that allege glyphosate caused their cancer. Bayer, the manufacturer of Roundup, is currently fighting cancer lawsuits that involve over 13,000 people. As of June 2019, there were bans or major restrictions on use of glyphosate in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. 

Banned Ingredients #7 — Roxarsone

The arsenic-based drug roxarsone, was routinely used in chicken in the U.S. until July 2011, when Pfizer decided to stop selling it. However, there is no actual ban on the use of arsenic in the raising of chickens for food. Roxarsone was used to increase the pink coloring of raw chicken meat, to speed the growth of the birds before slaughter, and to prevent parasites in the chicken’s stomach. Research shows chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to anemia, skin lesions, kidney damage. It can also increase the risk for certain cancers, miscarriage, and birth defects. The European Union banned the use of arsenic-based drugs, while many chicken products in the U.S. still contain it.

Banned Ingredients #8 — Ractopamine

In the U.S., ractopamine is a muscle enhancer for pigs, cows, and turkeys. And, like other harmful substances used during the raising of animals, it doesn’t just go away when the animal is slaughtered. Some of it is still left in the meat you buy. Ractopamine is banned in 122 countries including Russia, mainland China, Taiwan, and many countries across Europe. This is because it’s been linked to reproductive and cardiovascular damage in humans, as well as chromosomal and behavioral changes.

Banned Ingredients #9 — Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides

Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are widely used on crops in the U.S. food system to keep them free of bugs and diseases. Meanwhile, other countries see (and act on) the danger they pose to humans. Of the 374 active ingredients authorized for agricultural use in the U.S. in 2016, the European Union banned 72 of them. Wow.

Banned Ingredients #10 — Olestra

Olestra, or Olean, is a cholesterol-free fat substitute created by Procter & Gamble. The FDA approved it for use in foods in the 1990s and it’s still used in certain potato chips and french fries. But Olestra may cause extremely unpleasant digestive reactions, like diarrhea and leaky bowels. Consuming a lot of it can also lead to deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as carotenoids. Both Canada and the United Kingdom have banned the ingredient.

Banned Ingredients #11 — Synthetic Hormones

Synthetic hormones, such as rBGH and rBST, are widely used in the U.S. dairy industry. The primary reason for this is to increase milk production in dairy cows. However, rBGH increases IGF-1 levels in humans and may increase the risk of developing cancer. Additionally, cows treated with rBGH are more likely to develop mastitis, an udder infection, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Canadathe EU, and other countries have banned these compounds.

What You Can Do

The question you might be asking right now is, what can I do to protect myself from these banned ingredients? While we can’t immediately control what food companies put in their products, we don’t have to eat them. And there are steps you can take to make healthier, safer food choices, wherever you live.

Here are some things you can do to make sure the food you eat is as safe as possible:

  • Read all food labels carefully. Get familiar with these banned ingredients and their alternative names, and look for them on packaged foods.
  • Eat minimally processed or, even better, whole, organic foods as much as possible. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains won’t have the long list of ingredients that packaged and processed foods often do.
  • Cook at home as much as you can. This way, you have more control over the food you’re eating. You know exactly what ingredients are being used, and can decide to eat foods that best align with your values as much as possible.
  • Say no to GMOs and to the products of factory farms.
  • Sign petitions. This is a great way to get involved in public policy, and you don’t even have to leave your house. One of my favorite places to find and sign petitions is the Center for Food Safety website.

The good news is, you don’t have to wait for the U.S. FDA or USDA to change policy for you to make informed choices about what you eat and feed to your family. Every bite you take is a chance to take a stand for a safer and healthier life.

As much as we would like to believe that everything on store shelves is delicious, good for us, and safe, the truth is not always so reassuring. In fact, the food supply in the U.S. (and many other nations, too) is full of chemical flavorings, additives, colorings, and other ingredients that you may not want to put in your body. Before we start naming names, let’s explore how the U.S. government could let this happen. 

For starters, the FDA states that food companies can market new chemicals and food additives WITHOUT FDA oversight or approval, so long as “the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe… ” 

This is known as the GRAS system, and it might sound all well and good. But what makes someone a “qualified expert”? And how are they able to determine which chemicals food companies can add to the food we feed our children? It turns out that these companies often convene their own “expert” panels to decide whether the ingredient will pose harm. And many of these panels contain scientists with financial ties to all manner of industries – even including the tobacco industry (“experts” who may have, at one time, recommended that cigarettes were safe!). Based on the panel’s recommendations, companies then decide whether or not to share the results of the assessment with the FDA. They don’t even have to do so! 

Most of the chemicals on the GRAS list have never had long-term testing on humans, and therefore can’t possibly be guaranteed safe. And some of them don’t stand up to the test of time, either. For example, BHA is “generally recognized as safe” – despite the fact that the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program concluded that BHA can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” 

And then there are artificial trans fats, which have historically been on the GRAS list and added to foods like frozen pizza, peanut butter, packaged snack foods, vegetable shortenings, and ready-to-use frostings to improve their flavor, texture, and shelf life. Unfortunately, we later learned that trans fats were causing upwards of 500,000 deaths per year from associated heart disease.

In 2015, the FDA finally decided that trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, were unsafe, giving food manufacturers a few years to remove them from the food supply. Since the ban took place, many food companies have replaced trans fats with ingredients like palm oil instead, which comes with its own set of concerns.

Climate-change denial and the coronavirus “hoax” are the same conspiracy theory

Coronavirus denialism is built on the same template conservatives have used to deny climate change for decades

AMANDA MARCOTTE
JULY 7, 2020 7:51PM (UTC)

The worldwide conspiracy is vast — so vast that most of the world’s scientists, journalists and political leaders are in on it. Somehow, in all this time, not a single one of the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of conspirators has grown a conscience and decided to blow the whistle on the conspiracy. Their goal? To ruin everything that right-wing America holds dear: the nuclear family, NFL football, needlessly enormous vehicles, the specials menu at Hooters.

To accomplish this dastardly goal, the conspiracy will fabricate a worldwide threat. They will falsify the data and use the power of institutions like governments and universities and scientific journals to perpetuate this hoax, tricking billions of people into believing this threat is real and needs a drastic response. The only people in the world who see through the hoax are right-wing Americans, of course, who know what lengths the “socialist left” will go to in order to destroy Mom and apple pie. 

Coronavirus denialism has, in the period of a few short months, become one of the most serious political problems in our nation. It’s a major obstacle to both containing the virus and reviving the economy, which can’t happen until the virus is contained. 

Coronavirus denialism isn’t just flourishing on social media, but emanating from both right-wing media and from Republican leaders, most notably Donald Trump. Over the weekend, the president declared that “99 percent” of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless,” a claim that isn’t just false but part of a larger pattern of Trump’s statements suggesting that the threat of the virus is being faked in order to harm him politically.

In other words, it’s a conspiracy theory, one that dates at least back to February, when Trump claimed that fears of the coronavirus were a “new hoax” designed by Democrats to ruin him.Advertisement:

The rapid spread of this conspiracy theory is puzzling, especially as it requires many leaps of faith, including the belief that literally millions of professionals who don’t know each other — scientists, journalists, government employees, health care providers and so on — are working to perpetuate this hoax. 

There’s a simple reason why right-wing America was so quick to rally around a conspiracy theory that’s so utterly preposterous. They spent years training themselves by indulging in climate-change denialism.

It’s not a stretch to say that climate-change denialism and coronavirus denialism are basically the same conspiracy theory. In fact, it often seems like coronavirus denialists have simply copied and pasted their talking points about climate change and adjusted the wording a bit to be about virus spread instead of carbon emissions. 

But the basic parameters are the same: a worldwide conspiracy, threats that are invented or exaggerated for supposed political gain, a sinister hidden agenda — whether that’s bringing down capitalism or ending Trump’s presidency. 

The content of coronavirus denialism can be somewhat diverse. This article from the New York Times chronicling the struggles of nurses to convince family and friends that the coronavirus is a real threat gives a good overview of the range of different flavors. Some folks insist the virus isn’t real at all. Some accept that it’s real but believe the danger of death or serious injury is being wildly exaggerated. Some deny that it’s as communicable as public health officials believe. Some claim that deaths from other causes are being falsely attributed to the virus. 

We see the same kind of diversity in the world of climate-change denialism. At first, conservatives flat-out denied that climate change or “global warming” was even happening. But as evidence for changing temperatures grew, the flavors of denialism did too, with some denialists claiming it was just a natural fluctuation not attributable to humans, others saying that the effects wouldn’t be so bad, and still others saying it was too late to do anything about it so we should just give up. 

What holds all these flavors of denialism together is the conspiracy theory undergirding them: The people raising the alarm about this problem are in cahoots with each other, and have ulterior motives. 

Climate-change denialists have long held that progressives, and the scientists and world leaders who supposedly share their radical agenda, aren’t really concerned about species loss or rising sea levels or the devastating effects on poor people or any of that. Instead, they argue, these concerns are being faked to create a justification for an all-out assault on capitalism and “freedom.” 

Similarly, coronavirus denialists argue that health care workers and scientists warning about the coronavirus are insincere, but instead are part of a larger — again, worldwide! — movement to take down Trump by making him look bad. 

The rhetoric between the two forms of denialism is almost comically similar.

In September, Fox News host Laura Ingraham declared that teenage climate-change activists were part of a sinister plot to seize control of “our economy, our way of life, our way of transport, how many children you want to have.”

In May, she made the same arguments about recommendations to wear face masks to slow the coronavirus spread, claiming it was about “control over large populations” that is “achieved through fear and intimidation and suppression of free thought.”

In case the link wasn’t obvious, Ingraham made it herself, saying, “They’ll say this whole mask thing is settled science, just like they do with climate change.”

It’s not possible that both things are just settled science, of course. It’s all just a massive conspiracy!

It’s the same story with Fox News superstar Tucker Carlson, who argued last September that climate strikes are “not about the environment” but are a left-wing scam meant to create “an emergency big enough to justify grabbing more power.”

Carlson copy-pasted those same arguments to deny the dangers of the coronavirus months later, claiming that the scientific evidence that it’s dangerous and communicable is overblown, and being exaggerated by people who are hungry for “power” and want to see Americans following “orders.” 

Both climate change and coronavirus denialism are given a boost by the tribalist politics of right-wing America. For decades now, one of the ways for conservatives to indicate their skepticism of climate change and fealty to the right was to buy giant, gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks, making quite clear to anyone looking that they don’t care one fig about your fears of carbon emission. 

The same logic is driving the anti-mask phenomenon, where some of the most fiercely loyal Trump supporters make a big show out of refusing wear a mask, because they don’t care one fig about your fear of catching a potentially deadly virus. 

It was clever of Trump and his media followers to encourage his supporters not to wear masks. That kind of showy public defiance has helped normalize coronavirus denialism, and exerted pressure on other conservatives to follow suit to show their tribal loyalties. It serves the same function as mocking people for driving fuel-efficient vehicles did, using peer pressure to get people on board with a right-wing conspiracy theory. 

Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with climate-change conspiracy theories, once they take hold, it’s very hard to pry people free from their delusional beliefs. If you confront them with the evidence that the threat is real, they simply move to claiming it’s overblown. George Soros will probably be blamed. Or they’ll come up with excuses for why they personally won’t be affected and so shouldn’t care. Or they’ll just shift to casting aspersions on the motives of people who do care, whether that’s Greta Thunberg or Dr. Anthony Fauci, accusing them of being tools or power-hungry schemers. They’ll embrace any view, really, except admitting that the problem we’re all facing is real and that yes, we have to do something about it. 

AMANDA MARCOTTE

Amanda Marcotte is a politics writer for Salon who covers American politics, feminism and culture. Her new book, “Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself” is out now. She can be followed on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte.MORE FROM AMANDA MARCOTTE • FOLLOW AMANDAMARCOTTE

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