Economic colonization: Gold mining in the Philippines

Golden Gamble: Gold mining in the Philippines, a dirty business

RT (2017)

Film Review

This documentary concerns rural Filipinos who scavenge abandoned goldmines in a continuous struggle to feed their families. Because the old mines are submerged in up to 30 feet of water, the operation relies on divers to scoop up mud from the bottom. Others treat the nuggets with mercury to extract the gold, without face masks or protective clothing. The gold is sold on for $16-32 per gram to local gold merchants.

Although this informal mining is illegal, the government turns a blind eye. The scavenging operations generally produce 10 grams per 24 hours of operation. Children as young as eight can earn about $2.30 per day to buy food for their families.

Mortality rates are extremely high, from collapse of the mine walls, failure of the divers’ breathing tubes and lung and neurological disease from mercury and other toxic exposures. Other participants in the operation develop debilitating skin rashes and ulcers.

There is pressure on the government to fence off these unofficial mines – something local Filipinos oppose as the region offers no other source of employment.

My Submission Against Compulsory Water Fluoridation

My Oral Submission to the Health Select Committee on the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill. If passed, this bill would introduce mandatory water fluoridation throughout New Zealand. At present, decisions are on the local level and only 27 out of 67 local councils fluoridate their water. With the current ban in most of western Europe against water fluoridation, the current trend is for local authorities to remove fluoride from their water.

Only 11 countries in the world have more than 50% of their population drinking fluoridated water: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Guyana, Hong Kong, the Irish Republic, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States and New Zealand

SUBMISSION

I speak in opposition to this bill.

I am a retired Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. I have 33 years clinical experience post-training – eight of them for the New Zealand Health Service. I have a subspecialty in child development.

Before moving to New Zealand in 2002, I was also on the clinical faculty at the University of Washington Medical School for over 15 years. As part of this role, I was expected to keep abreast of the medical literature and to demonstrate an ability to apprise scientific studies for their reliability and validity. This was not only in the field of psychiatry, but in the field of genetics, metabolism, neurobiolgy and endocrinology – owing to their major impact on psychological functioning.

The Scandal in US Public Health Research

Based on this background, I wish to alert the select committee to the current scandal in the US in the area of public health research. The scandal largely relates to flawed nutrition research resulting in decades of recommendations by the public health community for people to eat low fat, low salt, high carbohydrate diets. The tragic effect of these recommendations – without a shred of valid or reliable research evidence – is a global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.

Much of the research supporting water fluoridation is of a similar vein. The studies typically have a very small effect size, lack vital design features that eliminate observer bias and confuse statistical association with causality. There isn’t a single double blind randomly controlled trial showing that water fluoridation is either safe or effective in preventing tooth decay. Likewise there are no observational studies – where populations are followed over 20-30 years to ascertain the long term effect of drinking fluoridated water.

Fluoride is a Neurodevelopmental Toxin Like Lead and Mercury

In contrast, there are extensive studies suggesting that fluoride – even in the low doses used in water fluoridation is a neurodevelopmental toxin – ie that it has toxic effects on the fetus and in young children as their brains are developing. A 2014 peer-reviewed article about the pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity in The Lancet, one of the world’s preeminent medical journals specifically lists fluoride as as one of 12 common neurodevelopmental toxins – along with lead, mercury and PCBs. Fluoride has been identified as a potential neurotoxin largely on the basis of over 100 human studies and even more animal studies indicating that it causes cognitive damage and a range of long term behavioral and psychological problems through continuous exposure during pregnancy and early childhood.

One of the points emphasized in The Lancet is that substances that cause neurodevelopmental toxicity do so at very low doses – doses that are much, much smaller than the doses that cause acute poisoning. For many years the public health community reassured us that a low dose of lead and mercury poisoning caused no harm to human health – a position that has been reversed (after causing significant permanent disability for hundreds of thousands of children) after decades of careful research.

Now public health advocates are trying to convince us that low doses of fluoride are perfectly safe and based on past history I think the public has good reason to be skeptical.

No Research Evidence on Maximum Safe Dose

The problem with this approach – and the main argument that has caused all western European countries except Britain and Ireland to ban water fluoridation – is that there has been absolutely no research to determine what the maximum safe fluoride dose is, especially in vulnerable populations, such as those with kidney failure or infants whose ONLY food intake is formula prepared with fluoridated water.

All existing research focuses on the concentration of fluoride in drinking water, with recommendations ranging between 0.7 to 1.0 parts per million. The problem with focusing on concentration is the daily dose individuals receives varies greatly depending on how much tap water they drink, whether they concentrate it via cooking and other sources of fluoride in the diet. Tea is a major source of fluoride and Kiwis are great tea drinkers – which means they consume substantial additional fluoride in this way.

The prevailing sentiment in Europe is that when governments claim low doses of fluoride are safe, they have an absolute obligation to produce research evidence demonstrating the dosage at which daily exposure becomes unsafe before they force an entire population to consume it daily in their tap water.

This is also the main argument that persuaded New Plymouth District Council to remove the fluoride from our water in 2011 – like hundreds of local authorities in other English speaking countries that still fluoridate water. The New Zealand government most definitely has the same obligation to the New Zealand people.

photo credit: tankgirlrs Florine[F]9 via photopin (license)

How Our Food and Health Systems Are Killing Us

Mask of Deception

Directed by Phillip Rainford and Gail Blundell (2013)

Film Review

Mask of Deception, whose title is somewhat misleading, is best described as an Australian public service documentary about ways our food and health system are killing us. Overall I think viewers will find it useful to have all the major health risks covered in one place.

Unfortunately the film finishes a bit raggedly, with a diffuse attack on the Australian health care system and its long waiting lists, shortage of nurses, and efforts to suppress natural food supplements. The call for civil disobedience at the end seems to come out of nowhere.

Sadly western medicine has grown into an industry dedicated to marketing pharmaceuticals. In a a health system geared towards health promotion and disease prevention, our doctors would be warning us about these health risks instead of handing us prescriptions.

Some of the specific risks (gluten, fluoride, mercury-laden dental amalgam, white sugar, artificial sweeteners, transfats, liquid vegetable oils, vaccinations, mammograms, statins and chemical food additives) mentioned are fairly well covered by Natural News, Dr Mercola and similar natural health sites.

Others are less well known. For example, I was totally unaware of the link between high soy diets (especially for infants on soy formula) and hypothyroidism and type I diabetes.*


*The soy common in Asian diets has been heavily fermented, in some cases 5-7 years, to make it more digestible.

Roundup Linked to Autism and Alzheimers

monsanto

Recent research reveals the main toxic effects of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Monsanto weedkiller Roundup, are identical to the typical biological markers for autism and Alzheimer’s disease. MIT researcher Dr Stephanie Seneff PhD is also alarmed by the correlation between growing Roundup use and a big increase in the incidence of autism.

Roundup Kills Off Intestinal Bacteria

Seneff is mainly concerned about the negative effect of glyphosate on the microbiome. This is the scientific name for the normal intestinal bacteria responsible for immunity, weight maintenance, healthy neuropsychological function and a host of other biological processes.

Monsanto argues that glyphosate is harmless to people because the shikimate pathway, which glyphosate is designed to inhibit, is absent in human cells. Unfortunately, as Dr Seneff points out, our gut bacteria do have this enzyme pathway. In fact, several studies show that glyphosate kills off beneficial gut bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow.

Glyphosate also interferes with the ability to synthesize cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, which are essential for gut bacteria to produce and process aromatic amino acids, methionine and sulfate. All these effects are linked to important diseases and conditions associated with the Western diet, including gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, infertility and Alzheimer’s disease.

Seneff isn’t the first researcher to link autism with a derangement in gut bacteria. Scientists have been studying this potential link for more than a decade

Autism Rate Skyrocketing

In a Powerpoint presentation she gives all over the US, as well as in Taiwan and France,  she particularly emphasizes the strong correlation (Pearson correlation coefficient=0.99)* between the skyrocketing incidence of autism and increasing use of Roundup starting in the early 1990s.

In 1975, 1 in 5,000 children were diagnosed with autism. The current rate is 1 in 68.

In her presentation, Seneff also discusses research showing that children with autism commonly have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate exposure, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate and mitochondrial disorders. Similar markers are also found in Alzheimer’s disease.

Glyphosate in Breast Milk

Most of the GMO crops produced by Monsanto are “Roundup ready” and contain genetic modifications enabling them to withstand spraying with Roundup weed killer. In addition to large numbers of American farmers switching to GMO crops, the use of Roundup on each farm increases over time. This is because Roundup tends to create superweeds that are resistant to normal doses.

The US is unique in the extreme prevalence of foods containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that were likely treated with Roundup. Glyphosate can be found in soft drinks and candies sweetened by corn syrup, potato chips, chips, cereals and oil containing soy and cattle and chicken fed soy. According to Seneff, the only way to totally avoid glyphosate is to eat fresh organic food.

Unsurprisingly Americans have ten times as much glyphosate in their blood and European as Europeans. A study by Moms Across America showed that mothers across the US have excessively high levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.

Autism and Vaccines

In an interview with Age of Autism, Seneff was asked her opinion on the link between vaccines and autism. In reply, she talked about three other chemicals she believes are critical to the autism epidemic: aluminum, mercury and glutamate. All are found in specific vaccines. She adds that vaccines and glyphosate are synergistically toxic because the latter disrupts the body’s ability to metabolize glutamate, which is extremely toxic to the brain.

She advises if she were a young mother, she would try to avoid all the vaccines that contain aluminum, mercury and glutamate: DTaP, Hepatitis B, MMR, the measles vaccine, the flu shot, and Gardasil. For parents who feel reluctant to eliminate vaccines altogether, she recommends delaying them as long as possible. Infants have a very weak immune system.

When you look at the risk benefit ratio of the vaccines, it comes out short. You really have to think about whether it’s worth the cost. . . . Do you want your child to be permanently damaged in order to prevent it from getting measles? It doesn’t make sense. I think we really need to question whether the vaccines are an obligatory part of a child’s program. I certainly think they’re not, particularly because they are so dangerous. And in conjunction with the glyphosate, which is making them much worse.


*In statistics, the Pearson correlation coefficient is a measure of the linear correlation between two variables. It gives a value between +1 and −1, where 1 is total positive correlation.

photo credit: msdonnalee via photopin cc

Also posted in Veterans Today