Electrosmog

 

cellphone tower

(The second of four posts linking cellphones, cellphone towers and Wi-Fi to cancer and other severe health problems – and the global die-off of honey bees.)

Both light and radio waves are natural forms of EMR (electromagnetic radiation) that surround us in the natural environment. EMR can be divided into high energy, or ionizing radiation, and low-energy non-ionizing radiation.  The ionizing radiation, like x-rays and nuclear radiation, actually smashes our fragile biochemistry, like the proverbial bull in a China shop.  There’s no controversy about the damage that it causes.  The dangers of non-ionizing radiation are more subtle.   Microwave ovens, cellphones, Wi-Fi, radar equipment and high voltage lines produce large amounts of EMR of a different frequency than human beings are exposed to naturally. Scientists have been concerned about potential health risks of microwave exposure since the 1930s, when mechanics working on early radar equipment complained of rashes, headaches and flu-like illnesses.

Following the release of the 2007 Bioinitiative Report (which shows European cancer rates tripling after the installation of cellphone towers), the European Environment Agency issued warnings on “electrosmog” from cellphones, Wi-Fi and cellphone towers. It’s easy to forget that all of us are constantly exposed to artificially high EMR levels – also known as electrosmog – even if we don’t use cellphones, cordless phones or Wi-Fi, or only use them at a safe distance from our bodies.

Despite hundreds of studies showing that EMR has biological effects (mainly DNA breakage and cell membrane leakage of nerve cells), the FDA bows to industry pressure to use ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation) standards. The latter only measure the “thermal” or heating of effects of EMR. And since there is no heating at the low levels emitted from Wi-Fi or cell phone towers, the FDA draws the illogical conclusion electrosmog poses no health risk. Despite hundreds of studies linking Wi-Fi and cellphone towers to cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, fatigue, headaches, multiple sclerosis (MS), impaired memory and behavior problems in children.

Electrohypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS)

Approximately 3% of the population (including children exposed to Wi-Fi routers in schools) suffer from a serious condition caused by exposure to EMR known as Electrosensitivty Syndrome (ES) or Electrohypersensitivity Syndrome (EHS). It’s a condition, well recognized by environmental physicians, characterized by headaches, disrupted sleep, chronic fatigue, depression, erratic blood pressure, rapid pulse, rashes, nausea and childhood behavior problems. In some patients, it can look a lot like MS. In fact, patients with MS often have a worsening of their symptoms when exposed to EMR.

Unfortunately, other conditions linked to EMR take much longer to develop (10-15 years). This means it could scientists take 50 years or more to collect the “conclusive proof” necessary to force the FDA to regulate exposure.

The European Position

Following the 2007 Bioinitiative Report, many French and English schools dismantled their Wi-Fi systems and replaced them with cables. The German government has issued a warning that all citizens avoid Wi-Fi use at home and at work. Likewise the Austrian Medical Association has recommended all Wi-Fi be replaced with cables. The position taken by the Swedish government, which formally recognizes EHS as a disability, is the strongest. They will remove Wi-Fi from the school of any student suffering from EHS, as well as providing microwave opaque paint and/or wall coverings for the homes of EHS patients.

What Should Americans Do?

Owing to massive corruption in the FDA and other federal regulatory agencies, Americans are still pretty much on their own in protecting themselves against excessive EMR exposure.

Yet there are still steps they can take to practice what researcher Dr Magda Havas refers to as “good electromagnetic hygiene”:

1.  Replace cordless with corded phones.

2.  Replace Wi-Fi internet hook-ups with an Ethernet cable.

3.  Use cellphones as little as possible and only in speaker mode (Bluetooth devices and regular head phones also give off microwaves – only air tube headsets are safe). Men should never carry cellphones in their or waist band, as they lower sperm production and quality (the FCC carried this warning on their website for 10 months but removed it in November 2010, under industry pressure.

4.  Do NOT use CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs – although good for environment, the erratic currents they produce are linked to health problems. Here are some energy efficient alternatives.

5.  Do NOT use electric blankets or water beds

6.  Keep alarm clock radios at least 2 meters from your bed

7.  Measure EMR radio frequency in your home and install radio frequency-reflecting window film or fabric to shield from external sources

8.  Measure “dirty” electricity (erratic currents from CFLs) in your home and install filters if values are above 50 GS units.

9.  Use “wired” – not wireless – smart meters/

10. Do not live in a home within 100 meters of transmission lines or within 400 meters of cell phone antennas.

See the 2014 midyear Bioinitiative Working Group report for the most recent peer review research linking EMR exposure and brain cancer, allergies, immune problems and nervous system effects, such as hyperactivity, concentration problems, anxiety, irritability, disorientation, distracted behavior, sleep disorders, and headaches. The BWG specifically warns against Wi-Fi in schools.

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The Cellphone Controversy

(The first of four posts on research linking cellphones and Wi-Fi to cancer and other severe health problems – and to the die-off of honeybees)

Predictably, the Food and Drug Administration has declared cellphones, Wi-Fi and cellphone towers safe, along with water fluoridation, fracking and genetically engineered organisms (GMOs). The FDA based their findings on the Interphone Study. This series of multinational, case-controlled studies funded by the UN and the cell phone industry was published in the May 2010 International Journal of Epidemiology in May 2010.

Study Shows Cell Phones Prevent Brain Tumors

You wonder how any reputable scientific journal could publish a study showing that cellphones reduce the risk of brain tumors. But these industry whores have no shame. A detailed analysis of the Interphone study by Dr Magda Havas, Associate Profession of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University in Canada, reveals the study was deliberately designed to minimize adverse effects. When frequent cellphone users came out with a high risk of brain tumor (meningioma), they concealed this in two appendices in the back of the journal that weren’t released to the press.

Examples of bias in the study design:

  1. A “regular” cellphone user was defined as someone who made one cellphone call a week – Havas compares this to looking for lung cancer in people who smoke one cigarette a week.
  2. Cordless phone users (who experience the same EMR exposure as cellphone users) were included in the control group (the non-exposed group) instead of the experimental group – whereas in a proper study, a genuine control group would have no EMR exposure at all.
  3. The Interphone studied excluded two important age groups – those under 30 (those most vulnerable to carcinogens) and those over 60 (the age group with highest numbers of brain tumors).

Even more troubling the Interphone study relates to cellphone use between 2002-2004, when overall cell phone use (particularly among children) was quite low compared to current use. Moreover, it also excludes any data from US cellphone users.

At November 2010 San Francisco conference “The Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields,” Dr Joel Moskovitz presented a larger meta-analysis of independent cell phone studies that points to an average of 18,000 preventable glioma (a highly malignant tumor) deaths directly related to cellphones.

To be continued.

Is Lipstick Killing Us?

lipstick

A study in the May 2, 2013 Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that commercial lipstick and lip gloss contain potentially hazardous levels of heavy metals, such as aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese. The study also notes that young people (i.e. preteens and teenagers) absorb heavy metals at higher rates than adults.

The article notes that the last decade has seen considerable publicity regarding lead (which causes brain damage, particularly in children and young people) contained in lip products. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lead in lipstick is merely an impurity, owing to high levels of lead in the environment.  Environmental researchers state otherwise. They assert that lead-containing color pigments are the main source of lead in lipstick.

At present the FDA chooses not to regulate the amount of lead or other metals in cosmetics. They do set a maximum allowable lead concentration in candy of 0.1 ppm (1 mg/kg). As their own figures indicate, the lead levels in some popular brands of lipstick and lip gloss greatly exceed 0.1 ppm. Although most women don’t knowingly eat lipstick, they inadvertently swallow it and absorb it through mucous membranes in the mouth. Moreover some women reapply it as often as 10-12 times a day.

As the authors point out, the European Union Cosmetics Directive makes it illegal to manufacture, import or sell any cosmetic products with detectable levels of lead, cadmium, chromium or other heavy metals harmful to human health.

Cadmium is a known human carcinogen associated with lung cancer and respiratory system damage, kidney and bone impairments. Animal studies have shown that exposure to cadmium during pregnancy can result in low birth weights, skeletal deformities and behavior and learning problems

Chromium is also a known human carcinogen; inhalation causes lung cancer and oral exposure through drinking water has been linked with increased stomach tumors.

The EHP paper indicates that evidence linking manganese with neurological and neurobehavioral problems in children is still inconclusive. However there are numerous studies linking high manganese levels to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aheh.200400556/abstract

http://www.alzforum.org/new/detail.asp?id=2770

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijad/2011/607543/ref/

Surely it’s high time for the US to follow Europe’s example and adopt the Precautionary Principle. Under the Precautionary Principle, the burden would be on manufacturers to prove their products are safe as a condition of bringing them to market. At present, the obligation is on women to prove they’re unsafe.

photo credit: Auntie P via photopin cc

 

Buyer Beware: Are Americans Systematically Poisoning Themselves

cosmetics

The US has the worst record in the industrialized world for regulating toxic chemicals. Thanks to the stranglehold powerful corporate lobbies have on Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), millions of Americans may be systematically poisoning themselves with common household products, toiletries and cosmetics.

At present, Americans are at highest risk from endocrine disruptors found in soft plastic and most commercial cleaning and beauty products. These are chemicals that mimic estrogen and other hormones in their effect on the human body. Many epidemiologists believe they are linked to the current epidemic of breast cancer, premature puberty, birth defects, and both male and female infertility. What many people forget is that cancer was an extremely rare condition prior to World War II and the appearance of hundreds of synthetic chemicals on the scene.

The dangerous phalates and bisphenyl-A found in plastic water bottles, pacifiers, and baby toys have been fairly well publicized (I hope.). There seems to be less public awareness that nearly all commercial shampoos, hand and body lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, and sunscreen contain preservatives that function as estrogen-like endocrine disruptors. The US bans only eight of these compounds. In contrast the EU bans more than 1,000.

In addition to causing harm to people who use them, these toxic endocrine disruptors accumulate in waterways when they’re flushed down the drain. Indigenous populations in both the third world and the Arctic are found to have hundreds of these toxic chemicals in their blood stream and breast milk even though most of them have never even heard of Right Guard or Colgate toothpaste.

Parabens: the Worst Offenders

One of the worst offenders is the paraben class of compounds (mostly found as methyparaben or PABA), which is used as a preservative in nearly all commercial toiletries. The second most common is triclosan, found in numerous so-called antibacterial products, including the following:

  • Neutrogena Deep Clean Body Scrub Bar
  • Lever 2000 Special Moisture Response Bar Soap, Antibacterial
  • CVS Antibacterial Hand Soap
  • Dial Liquid Soap, Antibacterial Bar Soap
  • Softsoap Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
  • Cetaphil Gentle Antibacterial Cleansing Bar
  • Clearasil Daily Face Wash
  • Clean & Clear Oil Free Foaming Facial Cleanser
  • Dawn Complete Antibacterial Dish Liquid
  • Ajax Antibacterial Dish Liquid
  • Colgate Total Toothpaste
  • Right Guard Sport Deodorant
  • Old Spice Red Zone, High Endurance and Classic Deodorants
  • Vaseline Intensive Care Antibacterial Hand Lotion

Toxic Nanoparticles

Even less well publicized are potentially toxic “nanosized” particles present in many popular sunscreens and so called “natural” mineral foundations. (See 2010 Friends of the Earth study and recent article by Terence Newton linking nanoparticles with DNA damage and cancer.)

Nanoparticle containing skin products are strictly regulated in the UK and Europe, where laws require mandatory safety testing and labeling. In the US, the FDA, which has known for nearly a decade that common sunscreens contain ingredients that accelerate the growth of skin cancer cells. Yet they still refuse to act on this information.

Nanoparticles are absorbed into the blood stream through skin damaged through eczema or psoriasis, a major health concern as mineral foundations are specifically marketed to women to conceal unsightly dermatitis. Some studies show that mineral foundation powders are inhaled into the lungs during application. Others suggest that nanoparticles penetrate healthy skin.

Not only are these substances totally unregulated in the US , but due to lax labeling laws, 80 percent of sunscreens that claim to be free of nanoparticles are found, on testing, to contain them.

Hair Dyes

Over fifty million American women, as well as an increasing number of men, dye their hair on a regular basis. Many start in early adolescence, resulting in cumulative, lifelong exposure to some extremely toxic substances:

  • Phenylenediamine (PPD) – present in over two-third of chemical hair dyes and by far the most toxic. Linked (in animals) to damage of the immune and nervous system, skin, liver and kidneys. Banned in France , Germany , and Sweden and use “restricted” in Canada .
  • Resorcinal – classified by the European Union as a harmful skin and eye irritant and dangerous to the environment.
  • Ammonia – irritant to skin, eyes, and respiratory system (can cause asthma).
  • Peroxide – potential toxic effects on eyes, nervous and respiratory (can cause asthma) system. Can cause DNA damage, possibly leading to cancer. Banned in cosmetic use in Japan and use “restricted” in Canada.
  • 4-ABP – linked to cancer

Many so-called “natural” hair dyes also contain some PPD, but in lower concentrations. As with other toiletries and beauty products described above, checking labels is essential, or better still doing a little Internet research to find a safer alternative.

Dangerous Chemicals in Household Cleaners

AIR FRESHENERS – usually contain methoxychlor, a pesticide that accumulates in fat cells, as well as formaldehyde, a highly toxic, known carcinogen, and phenol, a common culprit in contact allergies.

CARPET AND UPHOLSTERY SHAMPOO – commonly contain perchlorethylene, a known carcinogen, and ammonium hydroxide, a corrosive, extremely irritable to eyes, skin and respiratory passages.

DISHWASHER DETERGENTS (number one cause of household poisoning) – commonly contain highly concentrated dry form of chlorine, which leaves a residue on dishes that accumulates with each washing and is absorbed into hot food.

FURNITURE POLISH contain petroleum distillates, which can cause skin and lung cancer and nitrobenzene, linked with low sperm counts, anemia and liver, kidney, lung and eye damage.

LAUNDRY detergents contain the following chemicals (which remain as residue in clothes, as well as being released into waterways):

  • Petroleum distillates (aka napthas) – linked to cancer, lung damage and inflammation (can cause asthma) and damage to mucous membranes.
  • Phenols – linked with damage to nervous system, heart, blood vessels, lungs (can cause asthma) and kidneys.
  • Nonyl phenol ethoxylate – endocrine disruptor banded in Europe, owing to link to breast cancer, premature puberty and low sperm counts.
  • Optical brighteners (convert UV light wavelengths into visible light, making clothes appear whiter without making them cleaner) – toxic to fish and can cause allergic reactions when exposed skin is later exposed to sunlight.
  • Phosphates (banned in many states) – contribute to water “dead zones” by stimulating algae growth that depletes oxygen needed for fish and other animal life.
  • Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) – highly toxic chemical which reacts with organic materials in the environment to form carcinogenic and toxic compounds that can cause reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders.
  • EDTA (ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate) – chelating agent that biodegrades poorly and can re-dissolve toxic heavy metals in the environment, allowing them to enter the food chain.

OVEN CLEANERS – contain highly toxic and corrosive lye and ammonia with fumes that can damage the respiratory system (especially of small children and pets) and which leave residue that is vaporized when the oven is turned on.

TOILET BOWL CLEANERS contain hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive irritant which can damage skin, eyes, kidneys and liver; and hypochlorite bleach, a corrosive irritant that can damage eyes, skin and respiratory tract.

 

photo credit: Nikita Kashner via photopin cc

Corporate Food is Bad for You

Chicago lights

Chicago Lights Urban Farm

 (This is the 1st of  2  posts about dramatic changes that are occurring in food production and marketing, as well as consumer food choices.  Part I addresses the conscious shift many consumers have made over the past decade to locally grown organic food.)

Various studies reveal that as many as 20% of Americans make the conscious choice to eat organic food. Those who make the switch from corporate, industrially produced food do so for a variety of reasons. The main ones are cost, health and ethical concerns. Cost is a big consideration for low income families. In an economic depression accompanied by spiking food prices, growing your own fruits and vegetables or purchasing them from a grower at a farmers’ market can save families literally thousands of dollars a year.

Ironically the economic crisis has one silver lining in inner cities, as neighborhoods organize to create urban orchards and gardens on vacant, foreclosed land. An example is Chicago Lights Urban Farm, which supplies fresh produce for the once notorious Cabrini Green subsidized housing complex. This is the first access to fresh produce in decades for many inner city residents – thanks to the mass exodus of supermarket chains in the eighties and nineties.

Health issues linked to industrial agriculture are the second biggest reason people choose locally grown organic food over the standard corporate options. The growing list includes a number of debilitating and fatal illnesses linked with endocrine disruptors (estrogen-like molecules) in chemical herbicides and pesticides; contamination with infectious organisms; severe allergies, immune problems and cancers associated with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and nanoparticles; type II diabetes related to growth hormones fed to US cattle and the proliferation of superbugs like MRSA (methcillin resistant staphylococcus aureus) linked to antibiotics routinely fed to factory farmed animals.

Endocrine Disruptors and Food Borne Pathogens

At the moment the biggest concern for health advocates is the epidemic of breast cancer and infertility linked to the growing presence of endocrine disruptors in our water supply and food chain. Breast cancer currently affects one out of eight women, and sperm counts in American men are among the lowest in the industrialized world. However the infectious organisms arising from factory farming methods and lax regulation of slaughter facilities are also responsible for a growing number of health problems. Infectious organisms linked with severe illness and death include the prion carried by cattle that causes Creuzfield Jakob disorder (aka Mad Cow Disease); campylobacter, salmonella and pathogenic E coli from the fecal contamination associated with overcrowded livestock pens and inadequate regulation of slaughterhouse hygiene; and Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis (MAP), an increasingly common organism linked to a big spike in Crohn’s disease. Lax US food regulation and inspection regimes are worrying enough. Adding to all these concerns is the vast amount of supermarket food imported from third world countries where food production is totally unregulated.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

GMO-related health issues are another reason more and more consumers are going organic. Unlike New Zealand and most of Europe, which ban GMOs, in the US 88% of corn, 93% of soy, 90% of canola (used in cooking oil), 90% of sugar beets (the source of half of US sugar) are genetically modified. Moreover thanks to the millions Monsanto spends lobbying to block product labeling laws, the majority of US shoppers have no way of knowing whether supermarket foods contain GMOs. Knowledgeable consumers are especially angry about the so-called “Monsanto Protection Bill.” This was a clause inserted in a recent continuing budget resolution that virtually guarantees Monsanto immunity against lawsuits for GMO-related health problems and environmental damage.

Nanoparticles

The latest food controversy involves the presence of untested nanoparticles in processed foods. Nanoparticles are submicroscopic particles the food industry adds to foods and packaging to lengthen shelf life, to act as thickening agents and to seal in flavor. As You Sow, NRDC and Friends of the Earth, first raised the alarm about five years ago regarding the nanoparticles used in cosmetics. They were mainly concerned about studies which showed that inhaled nanoparticles cause the same kind of lung damage as asbestos and can lead to cancer. More recently the American Society of Safety Engineers has issued warning about research showing that nanoparticles in food pass into the bloodstream, accumulate in organs and interfere with metabolic process and immune function.

Environmental and Psychological Benefits

Aside from cost and health concerns, an increasing number of consumers eat locally produced organic food for ethical and environmental reasons. In doing so, they are consciously opting out of an insane corporate agriculture system in which food is transported halfway around the world to satisfy an artificially created demand for strawberries in the winter. They are joining food localization initiatives springing up in thousands of neighborhoods and communities to increase options for locally produced organic food. As they reconnect with local growers to start farmers’ markets (the number in the US is 3,200 and growing) and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiatives*, they find they are simultaneously rebuilding fundamental community ties their grandparents enjoyed.

Many farmers’ markets serve the additional function of a key gathering place for friends and neighbors. As you can see from the following video:

*Community Supported Agriculture is an alternative, locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution, in which local residents pre-subscribe to the produce of a given plot of farmland and take weekly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables and free range/organic meat, eggs, raw milk, etc.

photo credit: crfsproject via photopin

Originally published in Dissident Voice

Are They Trying to Kill Us All?

factory farm

Obama Disregards Court Order on Antibiotic Use in Livestock

Nothing exemplifies more clearly the corporate takeover of democratic government than the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approach to Food Inc’s routine use of antibiotics in animal feed. Thirty-six years after their 1977 finding that this practice jeopardizes human health, the FDA has given feed manufacturers three years to voluntarily remove antibiotic supplements from feed. What you won’t hear on the six o’clock news is that the the FDA move directly violates a March 2012 court ruling ordering them to ban the practice outright

Farm animals consume approximately 80% of antibiotics produced in the US. No one knows why routine consumption of antibiotics makes animals grow faster. Following this discovery in the 1950s, adding them to feed became standard practice on the gigantic factory farms that steadily replaced family farms. Producing animals that grow bigger and faster translates into higher profits. Especially in the overcrowded sheds and feedlots where fecal contamination creates the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Death by Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug

Pumping antibiotics indiscriminately into the environment turns out to be even more effective in breeding deadly antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” which are subsequently transferred to people through their food. This was confirmed by an April 2013 FDA finding revealing that more than 80% of raw turkey, pork, beef and chicken contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 2 million Americans a year contract drug-resistant infections every year, resulting in approximately 23,000 deaths. Prior to the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s, people routinely died of pneumonia brought on by flu and the common cold. It’s frightening to even think of returning to that era.

The 1998 EU Ban

To curtail the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, the EU banned antibiotics in animal feed in 1998. In the US, meanwhile, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) launched petitions in 1999 and 2005 demanding the FDA launch a similar ban.  On learning of the FDA’s intention to opt for a voluntary ban, they, along with Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Food Animal Concerns Trust, Public Citizen, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, filed suit in federal district court. In March 2012, the judge ruled that the voluntary program violated the FDA’s statutory duty (i.e. was illegal) and ordered them to enact a total ban like the EU.

From the ruling:

“[T]he statutory scheme requires the Agency to ensure the safety and effectiveness of all drugs sold in interstate commerce, and, if an approved drug is not shown to be safe or effective, the Agency must begin withdrawal proceedings. The Agency has forsaken these obligations in the name of a proposed voluntary program, Guidance # 209, and acted contrary to the statutory language.”

and

“[FDA] must evaluate the safety risks of the petitioned drugs and either make the finding that the drugs are not shown to be safe or provide a reasoned explanation as to why the Agency is refusing to make such a finding.”

Obama Appeals

So why, you might ask, is the Obama administration ignoring this obvious public health crisis, proceeding with a voluntary program and wasting taxpayer dollars on appealing the ruling? Obviously it has a lot to do with the Food, Inc lobby, which spent $71 million on campaign contributions and $95 million on lobbying in 2012. When our elected leaders place the wishes of their corporate benefactors over the welfare of their constituents, human life becomes very cheap.

I’m happy to report Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is an exception. Slaughter, 84, has been in Congress since 1987. In March 2013, she introduced her Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act bill for the fourth time. The bill would ban non-therapeutic uses of medically important antibiotics in food animal production.

How the Public Can Help

My initial reaction to this total disregard for human life (are they trying to kill us all or what?)  is to go for the pitchforks. It’s clear from her interview with Food Safety News that Slaughter herself is pretty angry with the Obama administration.

However she proposes a more moderate approach, namely a public boycott of hormonally and antibiotic treatment animals.

“Food babe” Vani Hari, who also thinks the new FDA rule is a joke, recently appeared on CNN (which would lose their broadcast license for promoting insurrection) with recommendations on how consumers can avoid tainted meat.

  • Buy direct from farms. Hari provides links on her website to connect online with farmers markets and CSA buying clubs.
  • Stick with USDA certified organic foods that also meat the highest standard Animal Welfare Rating Standards (i.e. that aren’t produced by factory farms).
  • Cut back on meat and dairy by substituting other healthy high protein foods, such as nuts, peanuts, and dried beans.
  • Follow Mark Bittman’s advice in a recent New York Times oped, and lean on your local supermarket to stock and label antibiotic-free meat and dairy products.

photo credit: Socially Responsible Agricultural Project via photopin cc

Originally published in Veterans Today

Teen Pregnancy: Do Your Part

pregnant teen

Skyrocketing population growth is one of the most serious threats to the fragile biosphere that supports human existence. Fertility rates in most of the industrialized world have slowed dramatically over the last decade. Except for the US. Thanks to high rates of teen pregnancy (the highest in the developed world), US fertility rates remain higher than many other countries.*

 In July, under a US District Court order, the FDA authorized pharmacies to sell Plan B One Step tablets over-the-counter (without prescription) without age restriction.** Plan B One-Step, also known as the “morning after pill,” is designed for women who, for a variety of reasons, engage in unprotected intercourse. Thanks to the new rules, all women of reproductive age should be be able to find the tablets on the shelf of their local drug store, like any other product. Unfortunately many pharmacies still aren’t compliant with FDA regulations and either keep Plan B tablets behind the counter or in locked cabinets. As evidenced in the following video:

As part of a national pressure campaign, The Reproductive Justice Reporting Project of the Media Consortium is asking members of the public to help by completing the “Where’s Your Plan B?” survey.

The next time you visit your local pharmacy, please complete the form provided at Where’s Your Plan B?

If you have a smartphone, you can fill the form out while you are still at the drug store. If not, print the form out, fill it out at the store, and transfer the details to the online form when you get home.***

*Fertility rates by country (World Bank)

  • US – 1.89 children per woman
  • China – 1.58 children per woman
  • Italy – 1.41 children per woman
  • Japan – 1.39 children per woman
  • Germany – 1.36 children per woman
  • Spain – 1.36 children per woman

**Studies show that difficulty accessing birth control (such as Plan B One Step) is the primary reason why American teenagers experience the highest rate of unplanned pregnancies in the industrialized world.

***You don’t have to be a woman of reproductive age to complete the form. Overpopulation isn’t a woman’s issue – it affects all of us.

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