Concerns about electromagnetic fields (EMF) are branded pseudoscientific conspiracy theories and relegated to the realm of tin-hat wearing quackery. However, a recent publication in the peer-reviewed journal Immunologic Research entitled “Electrosmog and Autoimmune Disease,” sheds new light on the validity of concerns about this so-called electrosmog with which we are constantly inundated.
Although we encounter natural microwave electromagnetic radiation in the form of cosmic radiation from outer space, the aurora borealis, and thunderstorms, the vast majority of electrosmog that we encounter is largely manmade (1). These atmospheric phenomena, however, emit electromagnetic radiation at lower radio frequencies and are negligibly weak in comparison to manmade sources, which have increased exponentially due to the emergence of television, cellular phone technologies, and WiFI, all of which utilize microwave frequency bands (1).
According to researchers Marshall and Heil (2017), for instance, “The recent release of WiGig and anti-collision vehicle radars in the 60 GHz region embody a 1000-fold increase in frequency, and photon energy, over the exposures mankind experienced up until the 1950s” (1).
How Electrosmog Interfaces with the Bioelectromagnetic Body
It is intuitive that electrosmog would interact with human biology, since human physiology operates in part via electromagnetic fields. Apart from physical information superhighways such as the blood, nervous, and lymphatic systems, the body uses electromagnetic forms of energy transmission and communication which are several orders of magnitude faster than chemical diffusion (2).
Called biophotonic emission (BPE), these quanta of electromagnetic energy have a visibility one thousand times lower than the sensitivity of our naked eye and are quintessential to cellular metabolism and to the powering of our energy-intensive nervous and immune systems (3). Harbored within our genetic material, biophotonsserve as a mode of instantaneous communication from one body part to another and to the extraneous world (4) and their emission is influenced by our global state of health (5). Research even suggests that mental intention and the fabric of our consciousnessis mediated by these quantum of light, which operate as highly coherent frequencies and generate an ordered flux of photons (4).
Thus, both the stuff of consciousness and the functioning of our cellular energetics is premised upon electromagnetism, which may be susceptible to distortion by electrosmog. Curtis and Hurtak describe the electromagnetic body as both “an entire body distinct from the chemical body that interpenetrates it” and “a light circulatory system operating on an energetic level in a markedly different manner from that of its molecular counterparts” (2). That there is “an incredible amount of activity at levels of magnification or scale that span more than two-thirds of the 73 known octaves of the electromagnetic spectrum” (6) in the human body is emblematic of our vulnerability to electromagnetic disturbances.
Potential Immune Disturbances due to Electrosmog Exposure
Although current public health laws are predicated on effects of short-term exposure, research suggests that dosage and repetitive exposures likely influence health risk of electrosmog (7). Two thirds of studies examined report ecological effects of electromagnetic radiation, and researchers state that, “current evidence indicates that chronic exposure to electromagnetic radiation, at levels that are found in the environment, may particularly affect the immune, nervous, cardiovascular and reproductive systems” (7).
Although the conventional mantra is that no harm is incurred from low-energy radio waves, low-level exposures to ionizing radiation are known to manifest profound effects upon human physiology (1). Ionizing radiation exposure, which occurs secondary to nuclear energy accidents, for example, produces immunosuppression, so much so that some scientists have even suggested radon exposure as a therapeutic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis due to its inhibition of inflammatory immune messengers such as the adipokine visfatin (8).
There is, however, often a substantial lag time between exposure and the materialization of symptomatology (1). The detriment to immune defense “often does not become apparent until the body catastrophically fails to overcome an acute challenge” (1). In addition, new science is overturning the previous assumption that immunosuppressive effects are exclusive to ionizing radiation exposure.
A research group headed by Lushinov, for example, found that repeated exposures to low-level non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation impaired the immune response in mice, negatively influencing immunogenesis, or the ability of the immune response to respond to an immune-provocating antigenic substance (9). The exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic radiation negatively influenced thymic and splenic cellularity, causing a statistically significant decrease in the immune cells generated by these lymphoid organs (9). The immunocompetence of the Aegean wall lizard was also significantly reduced upon daily exposure to radiofrequency resembling the amount of electrosmog emitted from cordless phones (10).
Moreover, Gapeev and colleagues (2006) elucidated that exposure to low-intensity non-ionizing electromagnetic waves exerted equivalent immunosuppressive effects to a single dose of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac (11). In another experiment, exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic radiation reduce the footpad edema and local hyperthermia, also known as swelling and heat, that accompanied injection of zymosan, an agent that induces acute inflammation (12). This constitutes evidence that electrosmog exposure may impair the normal immune response to potential threats.
Human Proteins are Responsive to Electromagnetic Waves
Biomolecules, which are constantly undergoing molecular collisions and interacting on the scale of picoseconds, are subject to forces exerted by incident electromagnetic fields (1). According to researchers Marshall and Heil, “It seems likely that signals a million times lower than those currently being used in research may be sufficient to elicit a tangible change in human biology” (1).
Induction of Stress Proteins
Electrosmog at both an extremely low-frequency (ELF) or in the radio frequency (RF) range has been found to stimulate a cellular stress response, leading to expression of stress response genes including heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) (13). As a consequence, there is increased production of highly conserved stress proteins, which serve as chaperones by refolding and repairing damaged proteins (13). Heat shock proteins have likewise been observed to up-regulate an immune response, “transferring antigenic peptides to the class I and class II molecules of the major histocompatibility complexes” as well as increasing activity of a class of immune cells which perpetuate an immune reaction, such as macrophages and dendritic cells (14).
Aberrant Anti-Microbial Response
In addition, the function of another human protein, lysozyme, has been shown to be disrupted by electromagnetic radiation (15). Also called muramidase, lysozyme is an antimicrobial enzyme liberated from cytoplasmic granules of immune cells such as granulocytes and macrophages (16). Contained in human secretions such as mucus, tears, saliva, and breast milk, this bacteriolytic element degrades glycosidic bonds in peptidoglycan, a molecule prominent in the cell walls of gram-positive bacteria (17).
Lysozyme is a major contributor to bactericidal activity, facilitating elimination of inhaled airborne microorganisms to prevent their colonization in the respiratory passages, which would interfere with sterile gas exchange (17). Studies have indicated that depletion of lysozyme reduces bacteria-killing ability of human airway sections by approximately fifty percent (18). Animal studies also highlight how lysozyme is especially important in host pulmonary defense, since, “Increased concentration of lysozyme in the airspaces of transgenic mice enhanced bacterial killing whereas lysozyme deficiency resulted in increased bacterial burden and morbidity” (17).
Turton and colleagues (2014) published a study in Nature Communications showing that non-ionizing terahertz electromagnetic radiation altered the binding of lysolyme to its ligand, triacetylchitotriose, which in turn would affect the biological function of lysozyme (15). Although this represents a much higher frequency than normal background electrosmog, the implications are that human immune defenses against pathogen invasion and virulence may be adversely affected due to repeated and cumulative exposures to electrosmog (15).
Derangements in Vitamin D Pathways
Research shows that Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) pathways are susceptible to interference by electrosmog (1). Functionality of the vitamin D receptor, a transcription factor that translocates to the nucleus and influences gene expression when bound to vitamin D, is fundamental for immunomodulation. The cascade of effects that occur upon vitamin D binding to its receptor reinforce gut barrier integrity, establish oral tolerance, and suppress autoimmune responses by enabling the immune system to differentiate self from non-self.
According to researchers, the shape of the VDR molecule transforms with electrosmog exposure within the frequency range of WiFi routers: “Groups of hundreds of atoms which form the helical “backbone” of the VDR…shift together at the lower frequencies present in electrosmog” (1). Sophisticated molecular dynamics software, which illustrates the lock-and-key interaction between the vitamin D receptor and its native ligand, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D (1,25-D), have shown that so-called Lorentz forces act upon charged oxygen atoms in carboxyl groups of the vitamin D receptor (1). These Lorentz forces may either promote or hinder activation of the vitamin D receptor, depending on both the frequency of the “molecular interactions, and that of the impinging electromagnetic waves” (1).
Electrosmog Affects Human Brain Activity and Behavior
As far back as 1987, Bise published a pilot study wherein electrosmog exposure at levels dramatically lower than that observed in urban areas elicited transient changes in human brain waves and behavior (19). He reports, “Constructive and destructive interference patterns from standing waves within the skull possibly interact with the bioelectric generators in the brain, since electroencephalogram wave amplitudes and frequencies increased or decreased respectively at different radio wavelengths” (19).
What’s more, the literature reveals that neuroimaging and electroencephalography studies demonstrate enhanced cortical excitability with EMF exposure, particularly in the front-temporal regions, which is paradoxically correlated with faster reaction times, but may also interfere with sleep (20).
Alarmingly, the patterns observed in human electroencephalograms (EEG) was altered by wave amplitudes as low as -100 dBm (19). Bise was able to induce an immediate frontal headache at a level of -60 dBm (19). Unfortunately, barring use of a Faraday cage, these experiments are impossible to replicate since electrosmog background levels in cities are now 100,000 times stronger at -50 dBm (19).
Silver-Threaded EMF-Blocking Caps Improve Autoimmune Disease
In a recent case series, patients wore shielding clothing and tenting consisting of silver-coated polyester threads interspersed with bamboo fibers that were partially capable of blocking penetration of microwave electrosmog (1). Due to anecdotal testimonies of improvement, researchers decided to distribute standardized garments that would shield the brain and brain stem in order to systematically analyze the results (1).
In this study, 64 patients with assorted autoimmune diagnoses such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), Sjogren’s syndrome, and celiac disease, many of whom were disabled and house-bound, were recruited (1). Subjects wore the silver-threaded cap for four hours at night and for four hours during the day, and patient-reported outcomes were collected (1). Impressively, 90% of patients indicated a “definite” or “strong” change in their symptomatology, which is at variance with the 3% of the population that is estimated to be sensitive to electrosmog (1).
Some researchers have attributed this so-called electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) or idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI) to the nocebo effect. However, Dieudonné explores the possibility of a psychosomatic mechanism in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, and concludes, “Overall, symptoms appear before subjects start questioning effects of EMF on their health, which is not consistent with the hypothesis that IEI-EMF originates from nocebo responses to perceived EMF” (21).
In this groundbreaking study, it is also telling that the researchers found the therapeutic efficacy of the silver-coated caps to be so theoretically plausible that they decided the idea of using a control group was unethical. These authors concluded that autoimmune patients exhibit a pronounced susceptibility to electrosmog at levels normally encountered in home and occupational environments, and hypothesized that the exposure may be contributing to their disease etiology (1).
Electrosmog and Mitochondrial Dysfunction
Because electric fields result from voltage differences, whereas magnetic fields from the flow of electric current, EMFs may be capable of disrupting the finely orchestrated proton gradient and flow of electrons within the inner mitochondrial membrane upon which the process of oxidative phosphorylation is contingent (13). Oxygen-dependent aerobic respiration, which relies upon oxidative phosphorylation, is the process that drives production of the cellular energy currency adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in our cellular energy factories, the mitochondria.
These organelles are fundamental to every energy-dependent process in the body but especially quintessential for the energy-demanding nervous system. Thus, EMF-mediated changes in mitochondrial function may affect cognition and even perpetuate development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s in which mitochondrial dysfunction has been demonstrated. In fact, EMF-induced disruption of mitochondria may play a role in many diseases in which mitochondrial collapse is implicated, including psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, migraine headaches, ataxia, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, neuropathic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and liver disease (22, 23).
It has also been proposed that EMFs can interact directly with electrons in DNA, so it is not a stretch that EMFs could interact with the electron transport chain (ETC) in mitochondria (24). This concept is supported by a study where pulsed electromagnetic radiation (EMR) resulted in alterations in the ETC, leading to adverse metabolic changes, cellular hypoxia, and increased generation of oxidative stress inducing free radicals such as the superoxide anion (25).
Electrosmog and Cancer
Although the undoubtedly industry-influenced mainstream consensus is that EMFs do not play a role in the development of childhood cancers, “Kheifets and Shimkhada  stated that epidemiologic studies of ELF-EMFs and childhood leukemia are difficult to design, conduct, and interpret due to the fact that EMFs are imperceptible, ubiquitous, have multiple sources, and can vary greatly over time and short distances” (13). Also, in an animal study, a correlation between ELF-EMF radiation and development of malignant tumors, specifically gliomas and schwannomas of the heart, was discovered (26).
These findings led the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to revise their criteria for EMF exposure in children, and include recommendations such as using hands-free and wired headsets, holding the phone away from the head, limiting television watching, and texting when possible (13). Currently, a 14-country study called MOBI-Kids is being conducted to examine the carcinogenic effects of RF-EMFs from mobile telephones on the central nervous system in children and adolescents (27).
Further upstream, electrosmog has also been shown to induce DNA strand breakages, such that “Any extensive damage or changes to DNA that need repair may increase the risk of developing cancerous cells” (13). Studies also suggest that electrosmog causes genome-wide alterations in methylation (28), or the attachment of one-carbon tags to DNA sequences which modulate gene expression, affecting everything from neurotransmitter production to detoxification.
Mitigating Electrosmog Exposure
Although more data is needed, the science warrants exercising the precautionary principle and taking simple steps to minimize EMF exposure. To remediate electrosmog, renowned doctor Dietrich Klinghardt recommends removing cordless phones from the house, turning off WiFi, switching off fuses at night, considering an EMF-reducing sleep sanctuary or canopy, and grounding.
Moreover, fundamental to neutralizing the toxic effects of electrosmog is spending time in nature and grounding in order to scavenge free radicals and engender antioxidant effects. Direct contact with the surface of the earth precipitates an influx of electrons, which are absorbed and distributed throughout the ground substance of extracellular tissue as well as intracellular biopolymers, neutralizing oxidative stress in the body (29).
Studies have elucidated that grounding decreases the voltage imposed on the body by a factor of seventy upon exposure to alternating current (AC) electric potential (30). This transfer of electrons that occurs as a result of grounding, therefore, can minimize electrosmog-induced derangements in the electrical activities of our bodies, which is meaningful since researchers state that, “There is no question that the body reacts to the presence of environmental electric fields” (30).
1. Marshall, T.G., & Heil, T.J.R. (2017). Electrosmog and autoimmune disease. Immunology Research.
2. Curtis, B.D., & Hurtak, J.J. (2004). Consciousness and quantum information processing: Uncovering the foundation for a medicine of light. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10(1), 27-39.
3. Schwabl, Herbert, and Herbert Klima. “Spontaneous Ultraweak Photon Emission from Biological Systems and the Endogenous Light Field.” Forschende Komplementärmedizin / Research in Complementary Medicine 12, no. 2 (2005): 84-89. doi:10.1159/000083960.
4. Bonilla, E. (2008). [Evidence about the power of intention] [Article in Spanish]. Investigación Clínica 49, 4, 595-615.
5. Hossu, M., & Rupert, R. (2006). Quantum Events of Biophoton Emission Associated with Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies: A Descriptive Pilot Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12(2),119-124. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.12.119.
6. Rosch, P.J. (2014). Bioelectromagnetic and Subtle Energy Medicine. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
7. Balmori, A. (2014). Electrosmog and species conservation. Science of the Total Environment, 496, 314-316.
8. Shreder, K. et al. (2016). Low-dose ionising radiation inhibits adipokine induced inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. Annals of Rheumatological Disease, 75, A64. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2016-209124.151.
9. Lushnikov, K.V. et al. (2001). Effect of extremely high frequency electromagnetic radiation of low intensity on parameters of humoral immunity in healthy mice. Biofizika, 46, 753–760.
10. Mina, D. et al. (2016). Immune responses of a wall lizard to whole-body exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 92,162–168. doi: 10.3109/09553002.2016.1135262.
11. Gapeev, A.B. et al. (2006). Pharmacological analysis of anti-inflammatory effects of low-intensity extremely high-frequency electromagnetic radiation. Biofizika, 51, 1055–1068.
12. Gapeyev, A.B., Mikhailik, E.N., & Chemeris, N.K. (2008). Anti-inflammatory effects of low-intensity extremely high-frequency electromagnetic radiation: frequency and power dependence. Bioelectromagnetics, 29(3), 197-206.
13. Miah, T., & Kamat, D. (2017). Current understanding of the health effects of electromagnetic fields. Pediatric Annals, 46(4), e172-e174. doi: 10.3928/19382359-20170316-01.
14. Li, Z., & Srivastava, P. (2004). Heat-shock proteins. Current Protocols in Immunology, Appendix 1, Appendix 1 T.
15. Turton, D.A. et al. (2014). Terahertz underdamped vibrational motion governs protein-ligand binding in solution. Nature Communications, 5, 3999. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4999
16. Afzal Mir, M. (1977). Lysozyme: a brief review. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 53, 257-259.
17. Nash, J.A. et al. (2006). The peptidoglycan-degrading property of lysozyme is not required for bactericidal activity in vivo. Journal of Immunology, 177(1), 519-526.
18. Dajani, R. et al. (2005). Lysozyme secretion by submucosal glands protects the airway from bacterial infection. American Journal of Respiratory and Cellular Molecular Biology, 32, 548-552.
19. Bise, W. (1978). Low power radio-frequency and microwave effects on human electroencephalogram and behavior. Physiological Chemistry and Physics, 10(5), 387-398.
20. Zhang, J., Sumich, A., & Wang, G.Y., (2017). Acute effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phone on brain function. Bioelectromagnetics, 38(5), 329-338. doi: 10.1002/bem.22052.
21. Dieudonné, M. (2016). Does electromagnetic hypersensitivity originate from nocebo responses? Indications from a qualitative study. Bioelectromagnetics, 37(1), 14-24.
22. Neustadt, J., & Pieczenik, S.R. (2008). Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 52, 780-788.
23. Pieczenik, S.R., & Neustadt, J. (2007). Mitochondrial dysfunction and molecular pathways of disease. Experimental and Molecular Pathology, 83, 84-92.
24. Blank, M.M., & Goodman, R. (2009). Electromagnetic fields stress living cells. Pathophysiology, 16(2–3), 71–78. doi:10.1016/j.pathophys.2009.01.006
25. Burlaka, A., Selyuk, M., Gafurov, M., Lukin, S., Potaskalova, V., & Sidorik, E. (2014). Changes in mitochondrial functioning with electromagnetic radiation of ultra high frequency as revealed by electron paramagnetic resonance methods. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 90(5), 357-362.
26. National Toxicology Program, Public Health Services, National Institutes of Health, & US Department of Health and Human Services. (2004). NTP technical report on the toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of Elmiron (Cas No. 37319–17-8) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (Gavage Studies). National Toxicology Program Technical Report Series, 512, 7–289.
27. Sadetzki, S.S., Langer, C.E., & Bruchim, R. (2014). The MOBI-Kids study protocol: challenges in assessing childhood and adolescent exposure to electromagnetic fields from wireless telecommunication technologies and possible association with brain tumor risk. Frontiers in Public Health, 2, 124. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2014.00124
28. Liu, Y. et al. (2015). Effect of 50 Hz Extremely Low-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields on the DNA Methylation and DNA Methyltransferases in Mouse Spermatocyte-Derived Cell Line GC-2. BioMed Research International.
29. Oschman, J.L. (2009). Charge transfer in the living matrix. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy, 13(3), 215-218.
30. Chevalier, G. et al. (2012). Review article: Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 1-8.
Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues
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.
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.
Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means
- 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
• 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.
WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do
- The Facts:
Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.
- Reflect On:
There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?
The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.
Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.
The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.
The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.
Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.
It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.
Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?
According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.
In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.
The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”
Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”
Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”
According to the WHO,
Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds
- at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
- strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
- break up long periods of sitting with light activity
What is moderate aerobic activity?
- Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball
What counts as vigorous activity?
- Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts
What activities strengthen muscles?
- lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga
What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?
- circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey
I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.
Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.
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