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Decades Later, One of the Biggest Environmental Disasters In US History Continues To Harm Generations

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In 1973, one of the biggest environmental disasters in US history occurred in St. Louis, Michigan. It continues to haunt many today, and ill-effects are being felt not only by those directly affected, but also by their children and grandchildren. Yet, most people haven’t heard of this environmental disaster, and many of the people who are affected by it—through ill-health of various types of cancer, birth defects, autoimmune diseases, etc.—don’t realize that their ill-health is due to this environmental disaster that happened more than 40 years ago.

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The environmental disaster, which resulted in a human health disaster, that I’m referring to is the contamination of tons of animal feed with a fire-retardant chemical called PBB (polybrominated biphenyl). PBB is a highly toxic endocrine disrupting chemical, which dissolves in fat and persists in human and animal bodies for decades. It also persists in the environment, and continues to cause harm long after direct exposure has ceased.

In 1973, the Michigan Chemical Corporation (MCC) produced both Firemaster, a PBB flame-retardant, and Nutrimaster, a magnesium-based agricultural feed additive. Human error led to the two being mixed-up:

“MCC had a system where each product was safely packaged in color-coded sacks, so there were no chances of mistakes being made. The system worked well until early 1973, when an inventory supply problem led to a temporary shortage of color-coded sacks, and plain sacks had to be used instead. By coincidence, a new formulation of Firemaster was being trialed at the same time, and this new formulation was almost identical to Nutrimaster in appearance. Murphy’s law came into full effect, and a truckload of the reformulated Firemaster was inadvertently delivered to Michigan’s largest cattle and poultry feed manufacturer. By the time the mistake was discovered, poisoned animal feed had already been distributed to farmers statewide and had been fed to their livestock.” (source)

1.5 million chickens, 30,000 cattle, 5,900 pigs, and 1,470 sheep then consumed this feed, became contaminated with PBBs. Thousands of cattle, pigs, sheep, and chickens died horrible, painful deaths, and many more were euthanized. This excerpt from the film, Cattlegate, shows the toll that the PBB mix-up had on animals and their human keepers:

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Before the mix-up was discovered, hundreds of contaminated cattle and chickens were slaughtered, and their meat was used for human consumption. Milk from contaminated dairy-cows was also consumed by humans. When the PBBs got into the human food-chain, more than 8 million people, mainly in Michigan, consumed PBB-contaminated meat and dairy, and the mix-up transformed from an environmental disaster to a human-health disaster.

“Initial data gathered from the PBB cohort study revealed other health problems among the hundreds of families and thousands of individuals recruited. Like other infamous toxicants such as bisphenol A and dioxin, PBB is classified as an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it interferes with the body’s array of natural hormones. Growing concern about endocrine disruptors since the 1990s has spurred an avalanche of research linking these chemicals to thyroid problems, diabetes, obesity, fertility problems, changes in pubertal development, and hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.” (source

Many of the health problems caused by PBB exposure didn’t emerge immediately. The health issues listed in the quote above—thyroid problems, diabetes, obesity, fertility problems, changes in pubertal development, and hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer—take time to develop. Just as worrisome as the time-bomb of diseases caused by direct PBB exposure, are the epigenetic consequences of PBB exposure. The children, and maybe future grandchildren, of people exposed to PBB appear to have worse health outcomes than the children of people who haven’t been exposed to PBB. (The extent of the health differences between the offspring of people exposed to PBB and people not exposed to PBB is still being studied.) There are harrowing stories from people who were exposed to PBB, and who had children who were exposed to PBB in-utero, including this comment:

“My first wife was pregnant with our second child at the time of the cover up. My wife, following doctor’s instructions, was on a fairly high fat diet including lots of milk, cheese and other dairy foods. Our child was a full term stillborn with massive deformities including spina bifida, sexual ambiguity, and a unformed skull bone that was open.” (source)

The people who lived in Northern Michigan in 1973, especially those in the agricultural communities near the MCC Plant, likely know whether or not they were directly exposed to PBB at the time, and many, like the commenter above, tell harrowing stories of the effects of PBBs on the health of their children. They should be believed, no matter how difficult it is to quantify the epigenetic effects of an environmental disaster that occurred more than 40 years ago. Additionally, anyone who suffers from the diseases associated with exposure to PBBs and other endocrine disrupting persistent organic pollutants, including but not limited to, thyroid problems, diabetes, obesity, fertility problems, changes in pubertal development, and hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast and prostate cancer, should question whether they, their parents, or even their grandparents, were exposed to PBB. PBBs got into the food-supply, and many people ate PBB-contaminated meat and dairy products without realizing that they had been exposed.

Another reason that people today should be concerned about the PBB disaster of 1973 is that PBBs are PERSISTENT organic pollutants, “a large class of compounds that includes chemicals like DDT, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins that resist being broken down in the body and the environment” (source). Persistent organic pollutants resist natural processes of decay and essentially never biodegrade. They move around the environment, in air and in water, and they move up and down the food-chain as they are consumed, the consuming animal dies, and they are consumed again. They tend to accumulate in the bodies of carnivores, and in the polar regions of the world, causing the most damage in the top predators, especially the top predators in the polar regions. Persistent organic pollutants can be contained, but inadequate measures to contain PBBs have been taken. Many of the euthanized animals that were directly harmed by PBBs were incinerated—sending PBB molecules into the air, and it is unknown where they landed. Other euthanized animals were buried, and though burial is one of the better ways of containing persistent organic pollutants, it is imperfect, as the animals’ bodies disintegrated and the PBBs seeped into the water table.

The harmful effects of persistent endocrine disrupting pollutants is described in the wonderful book, Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story, where it is noted that:

“Much of the concern about hormonally active synthetic chemicals arises from the persistence that many of them have in the environment. Many don’t readily degrade into benign components. A generation after industrial countries stopped the production of the most notorious of these persistent chemicals, their legacy endures in food and in human and animal bodies. Some will be in the environment for decades, and in a few cases even centuries.” 

Shortly after the uncovering of the disastrous mix-up at the MCC Plant, the use of PBBs was discontinued in America. However, their harmful legacy continues, and the children and grandchildren of those affected by the PBB disaster continue to experience ill-health related to their exposure. Because of the persistence of PBBs, the ill-effects they caused didn’t end when they stopped being manufactured. The release of tons of PBBs directly into the human food-supply in 1973 is still causing health problems for those exposed, and likely for many people who don’t realize that they have been exposed. The legacy of the PBB disaster is ongoing, and will likely continue for many decades, if not centuries. It is one of the most significant environmental and human health disasters of modern times, yet too few people know about it. When it comes to endocrine disrupting persistent organic pollutants, ignorance isn’t bliss, and though there’s not a lot that people can do to mitigate exposure, knowledge is empowering. The PBB disaster had far-reaching consequences—consequences that continue to haunt us today.

Sources

https://undark.org/article/pbb-michigan-epigenetics/

http://michiganradio.org/post/researchers-find-serious-health-effects-toxic-pbb-mix-michigan

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/05/velsicol_superfund_st_louis_pb.html

http://michiganradio.org/post/40-years-after-toxic-mix-researchers-continue-study-michiganders-poisoned-pbb

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Ending The Debate About The Ketogenic Diet – 9 Studies You Must Be Aware Of

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The Ketogenic diet is a popular fad diet that promotes quick weight loss and symptom management for bodies that are dealing with poor lymph, kidney and digestion health.

  • Reflect On:

    Based on the studies that are emerging, is our desire for quick weight loss more important than living a long and healthy life? Are we learning about these diets primarily through those with strong ties to upholding these diets?

The ketogenic diet has popped up as a popular approach to weight loss in the last few years. Is it successful at that? Sure, it is. I’ve experimented with the diet myself years ago when I was looking to lose some belly fat. I was entering into ketosis in a different way than most, as I was not eating any animal products, but it does in fact work.

But like any animal product based diet, what are the consequences of eating so much food that does not truly jive with our human bodies? Not only that, is fast weight loss more important than keeping our morality rate down?

In the last few years, we’ve reported a lot on the Keto diet and the various ways it can be done. We have explored the studies, the results and in some ways, we supported it. But lately, I have been thinking about how supporting this could actually be encouraging people to jump into these diets, including the paleo diet, when in reality these diets increase mortality rates and are not healthy for the human body.

It became a thought in the back of my mind, I have always strived to put the best information out that I can through this platform to promote good health. And so we must look at that, even if that means upsetting some people who currently are on paleo or keto and are seeing some good weight loss or symptom management. The truth is, like the many people I’ve seen crash on these diets after a few years, I want people to know the truth of what’s going on out there. And how we can get beyond diets that symptom manage, and instead get onto diets that truly heal.

Anytime we have fad diets, which paleo and keto are, we see products and bias pop up all over the place to support the continuation of these trends. It becomes less about health and more about upholding an identity or a business.

So as I recently looked into what experts are saying about these diets, I came upon two important videos I think everyone should check out. Both have been embedded below. Remember, it’s not that I care what you choose in your own life, or that I feel there is a right or wrong, it’s that I believe we should be informed and I wish to use this platform to promote as best a message as I can.

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The Videos

Thanks to Plant-Based News for creating such a good channel and resource of information on YouTube.

In this video, several plant-based health experts talk through 9 nutrition studies that would be of interest to low carb keto diet proponents. To read the 9 studies, click here.

Next up, Dr. Kim Williams (past President of the American College of Cardiology) shares his insights about the ketogenic.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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