Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The new dark age

What are the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals ("REACH") regulations really about? It's about killing you

In the 1970s, as a public relations consultant, I helped introduce a new pesticide to the American market. More specifically, to the pest control industry, as it was not available for use by the public. It was called "Ficam" and, after having undergone the costly Environmental Protection Agency registration process, it was quickly and widely used by pest control professionals, not just for its capacity to eliminate cockroaches and a variety of other pest insects, but because it was applied with nothing more toxic than water.

For two decades this pesticide thrived. I wrote case histories of where it was used in hotels, casinos, restaurants, and theme parks, as well as in homes and apartments. The pest control profession embraced it and there never was a single case of it causing any hazard to those who applied it or benefited from it. I never found out why, but for some reason the EPA demanded that the manufacturer re-register the product and the decision was made that it would be withdrawn instead. It was just too costly to prove what everyone already knew. It worked wonders protecting people against the diseases and property damage a wide variety of insect pest species cause on a daily basis.

The EPA did a similar number on a pesticide called "Dursban." This excellent pesticide had been around for decades and was widely used because it was a component in more than 80 products that the public could purchase off the shelf of the supermarket or garden supplies store. The EPA proceeded to restrict its consumer use against insect pests. If it posed such a health hazard, why wasn't there evidence of countless people being affected? Who benefited from its loss? The insects.

Some may remember the "Alar" crisis that impacted the apple growers, particularly in the Northwest. Millions of dollars were lost until it became clear that there was no threat whatever to the public from its use. People are still safely eating apples, just as they were before an environmental group perpetrated the manufactured crisis.

The reason cited for these actions is called "the precautionary principle" that says that, if anything poses a possible risk, no matter how small, a chemical cannot be used. Proof of its effective use, in the case of pesticides, in protecting the public against the vast range of diseases that insects or rodents routinely spread, was not to be considered.

What any chemist or pharmacist will tell you is "the poison is in the dose." It is the amount of exposure that determines the level of hazard and we routinely eat, drink, and use things that have chemicals as part of their structure in such minute quantities as to constitute no threat. As just one example, potatoes contain trace amounts of arsenic, a deadly poison, but no one is ever going to consume enough potatoes at a single sitting.

I was reminded of this when I recently read of still more fear mongering against a plastic ingredient called bisphenol-A, otherwise known as BPA. The food packaging industry has used BPA in the linings of metal cans since as far back as the 1950s. It is also used to make hard plastic as well as lacquers for bottle tops, water pipes, and even dental sealants and tooth coatings. The Environmental Working Group, a self-anointed "watchdog" organization, rolled out the usual scare campaign in early March, claiming that BPA "may be poisoning pregnant women and infants" according to a study by the Group. Typically, these "studies" involve force-feeding huge amounts of the chemical to laboratory rats until a correlation can be made that it poses a threat to humans, but correlation is not the same as causation.

I can assure you that the cost of the canned foods identified and probably all others is about to rise. Indeed, the cost of everything that uses chemicals in the course of its manufacture is going to rise. The reason for this is a program initiated by the European Union that has passed sweeping new chemical regulations that will go into effect in June. Based on that idiotic precautionary principle, the EU has instituted a program intended to rid the world of chemicals they deem to have an impact on the environment and human health. It is called "Green chemistry" and it has more to do with eliminating the use of beneficial chemicals than in offering any protection to Mother Earth and human beings.

The U.S. Commerce Department is putting on "roadshows" for U.S. businesses to bring them in line with the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals ("REACH") regulations. As Kathleen Morson of Stratfor, a private intelligence group that advises U.S. corporations, says, "The REACH regulation represents a shift from the Western regulatory world's reliance on risk assessment to something more precaution-based. Significantly, it shifts the regulatory burden from government agencies to the producers themselves to demonstrate that their chemicals are safe."

No chemical is safe if it is ingested in an amount wherein the dose becomes injurious. This includes the chemical we commonly call water.

Because American manufacturers commonly export their products all over the world and Europe represents a major market for them, they will have no choice but to submit to this EU plan to restrict chemicals, some of which have been safely in use for decades and longer. A little group of Green gnomes in Helsinki will decide the fate of every chemical in use today.

This is what I predict. At some point in the future, after most of the world's pesticides and herbicides, after chemicals used to clean water, after various chemicals used in the ways plastic is a part of our lives have been restricted, a huge plague will make its way across the world. It will be spread as the famed Black Plague was, by insect and rodent pests, and it will kill countless millions of people. A new Dark Age will follow. It will, in fact, have been in place since the imposition of the European Union's draconian anti-chemical program was imposed. What is REACH really about? It's about killing you.


DIY contraceptive device 'better than the Pill'

THE first once-a-month contraceptive that women can insert themselves goes on sale nationally from today, in a move doctors say will revolutionise family planning options. The device - a small, squishy rubber ring - is impregnated with female hormones and is held in place inside the vagina, which absorbs the hormones directly into the bloodstream. Experts say this more direct route of administration allows the product, called NuvaRing, to deliver lower levels of estrogen compared with existing daily pills - reducing the risk of side-effects such as weight gain and tender breasts.

Until today, women have had the option of taking daily contraceptive pills, or seeing a doctor for longer-term treatments such as an injection or a contraceptive implant that sits beneath the skin.

NuvaRing releases its hormones over a three-week period, and can then be taken out for one week to allow women their monthly bleed, although this is much lighter than a normal period as the hormones will have prevented the walls of the uterus from thickening. A new ring is inserted after the fourth week. The makers say that often neither the woman nor her partner can tell it is there, and it should not affect intercourse. However, it can be taken out for up to three hours without reducing contraceptive protection.

The rings cost between $25 and $28, similar to the latest generation of oral contraceptive pills. NuvaRing is prescription-only and is not subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Fertility expert Ric Porter, a gynaecologist at IVF Australia, said that unlike the pill the ring would not lose effectiveness if women had stomach upsets, took antibiotics or drank alcohol. "Young girls taking the pill drink themselves silly, don't absorb the pill and then wonder why they get pregnant," Dr Porter said. "It (NuvaRing) is going to revolutionise women's contraception ability in this country. "Some women won't like it, but the women who forget to take the pill are going to be far better off with one of these."

NuvaRing contains the same hormones as other contraceptives - estrogen and progestin, a synthetic version of progesterone. The most commonly prescribed contraceptive pill delivers 30 micrograms (mcg) of estrogen, and the lowest dose available delivers 20mcg - compared to 15mcg for NuvaRing.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.