Monthly Archives: April 2008
The Malibu Times
April 3, 2008
What started as a local debate of relative benefits for public health versus views of governmental interference in private lives has escalated into a confrontation between local citizens’ groups and Los Angeles County health policy, with county board Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky running interference.
Last fall, the Metropolitan Water District began treating locally delivered water with hydrofluorosilicic acid (a fluoride additive) after receiving a $20 million grant from First 5 LA, a children’s advocacy organization on whose commission Yaroslavsky was sitting when the fluoridation program began.
The issue has attracted the attention of many Malibu locals, including celebrities Martin Sheen, Suzanne Somers and her husband Alan Hamel, and activists Valerie Sklarevsky, Steve Hoye, Cary O’Neal and others. Several have written letters to the editor regarding the mandated fluoridation. Others have gathered together to demand more accountability and information on the local fluoridation program, but are not receiving any answers.
Boosting fluoride in community water supplies was introduced systemically around 50 years ago to treat tooth decay. The results were dramatically positive and fluoridation as a policy is approved by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Dental Association, National Cancer Institute and California Department of Public Health, among others. The ADA and the CDC, however, advise against giving infants up to the age of 12 months fluoride-in other words, to not mix infant formula with tap water.
Dr. Heidi Hame, a pediatric dentist in Malibu, said, “When kids drink fluoridated water, they don’t get cavities. I respect parents’ decisions on this issue, but, as long as they are not being over-medicated with fluoride supplements, fluoride’s a good thing. In my practice, I see a big difference between populations exposed to fluoridated water and those who aren’t.”
However, swelling grassroots movements have objected to the practice, noting that documented and anecdotal evidence of water fluoridation have proven to be damaging to people, from fluorosis in children (too much intake of fluoride characterized by white spots on teeth) to women suffering osteoporosis. Harvard University did a study on heightened levels of fluoride, which showed a definable increase of risk for osteosarcoma, a bone cancer typically found in children.
Topanga resident Rabyn Blake heads the activist group Coastal Citizens for Safe Drinking Water and said they are alarmed at the lack of transparency in the decision-making process with this public health policy.
“We have asked for product reviews on the toxicology of hydrofluorosilicic acid from the MWD and it is not forthcoming from the manufacturer or the certification agency,” she said.
California law requires any water additive be tested and certified as meeting specifications of the American National Standards Institute’s “Standard 60.” The institute is a private, non-profit organization that develops standards for every aspect of American business which defines acceptable levels of risk, contamination and usage for elements of business, from dairy and livestock production, i.e. hormones delivered to animals and vitamin additives in dairy products, to construction to farming. The Standard 60 was developed with the National Sanitation Foundation, also a private agency, to certify that any additives comply with ANSI standard levels and are now to be reviewed annually.
“The NSF has refused to publish any product review studies, saying that it is ‘propriety information’ of the manufacturers,” Blake said. “It’s a Catch-22.”
Other local residents have personal arguments with fluoridation of public drinking water.
“I have osteoporosis,” Sherry Jason, director of the charitable group City Hearts, said. “My doctor told me directly that I should not drink local water anymore.”
Paul Steinberg is a Topanga resident who works in pharmacological research.
“I do clinical trials,” he said. “Given that they won’t release any studies on long-term toxicological effects of this additive, I am skeptical when we are talking about public health. From my research, I don’t see any real evidence that fluoride, taken systemically, has that great an effect on communal tooth decay, when there is ample evidence that effective fluoride treatment can be provided by other products on the market, like toothpaste.”
Dr. Jeff Bronstein, a neurologist with UCLA Medical Center, echoed this concern.
“I was one of those who thought that people who objected to water fluoridation were like fringe nuts who didn’t like vaccinations,” he said. “But when I started to check modern literature and research, I saw deeper questions.”
Bronstein said that the MWD’s goal of boosting local water fluoride to .8 parts-per-million was alarmingly close to harmful levels.
“Two times that amount can be dangerous, particularly to kids who swallow toothpaste. It is extremely difficult to measure the variability of amounts consumed,” he said. “Fluoride has been linked to renal issues and hip fractures in the elderly. Plus, we don’t really know how much fluoride is absorbed through our skin from treated water. As public health policy, it’s force compliance.”
Regarding the Harvard study linking fluoride and osteosarcoma, Bronstein said, “It’s a relatively rare cancer, but still a risk.”
Awakened to the questions surrounding water fluoridation, County Supervisor Yaroslavsky has requested that future bid specifications for the MWD’s purchase of the additive include all documentation of certification test reports. Also, a coalition of 15 local groups had requested to be heard by the First 5 L.A. at a March meeting to propose a requirement that any grants of funding to water districts in L.A. County for purposes of fluoridation include requirements for accountability and transparency from manufacturers of any fluoride product. However, as of last week, the request has gone unanswered.
Galvanizing public agencies into investigating established public policy isn’t easy. Gene Burke of the Santa Monica Safe Drinking Water Coalition said they have repeatedly requested toxicology studies on the additive from the city, to no avail.
“They even ignored their own environmental task force’s request for this information,” Burke said. “All we’re asking for is proof of its safety!”
MWD Spokesman Bob Muir said, “There are no plans to review this decision. We have asked concerned parties for peer-reviewed data on any danger fluoridation presents and it hasn’t been forthcoming. Our best available science says the public health benefits of this program are inarguable.”
Muir did say, however, that they “might” revisit the question, should the county Board of Supervisors present them with appropriate data.
Bronstein said, “Forty years ago, it was a good idea to fluoridate water. But recent research has raised questions about wholesale water treatment, when you can get adequate fluoride from other sources. As with any public health policy, you have to carefully weigh the relative benefits with the potential real harm.”
Information on the National Research Council’s review of water fluoridation can be found online at www.nap.edu/catalog/11571.html
April 2, 2008
School Fluoride Program: Ensuring a Lasting Smile
The Self-Applied Fluoride and Education Rinsing Program (SAFER) is a preventive serve that has been successfully implemented in many New York State schools for over 20 years. Participating children, age 6 and older, use 10ml or 5ml of 0.2% sodium fluoride solution, to rinse for one minute in the classroom.
Participating children too young to rinse and are in Head Start Programs or kindergarten chew a daily fluoride tablet or use daily fluoride drops for the prevention of tooth decay.
The program targets children who do not have access to community water fluoridation, who do not have access to dental care, who live in rural areas, who live at or below the poverty level. The supplements are free to schools and Head Start Programs that enroll.
School districts or public health professionals interested in the program should contact the department’s Bureau of Dental Health to determine if they qualify.
For more information, contact Elisabeth Whitman, RN, Public Health Program Nurse, Bureau of Dental Health, (518) 474-1961 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by the New York Department of Health (sic)
By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
When the 2008 charter season begins next month, U.S. citizens paying to fish on Lake Erie will have to bring either a passport or two other IDs if they plan to cross the northern border’s invisible watery line.
When they get back to shore in the USA, they’ll have to drive to a local government reporting station and pose for pictures. They won’t be posing with their fish, but for Customs officers via a videophone connection.
That’s because half of Lake Erie — as it happens, the half with the deeper and cooler waters that often spawn the best fishing — is in Canada. The Homeland Security Department intends to enforce new border security rules — largely focused on those coming into the country by land and air — on fishermen re-entering the country.
Ungar and many of his fellow charter boat captains — Lake Erie alone has 600-plus — are incensed.
They say the rules are difficult to follow, will dramatically cut down on tourism and won’t protect against terrorism.
“How does this secure our country?” asks Ungar, a retired Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio, police chief. “I’m not insensitive to law enforcement issues, but these are fishermen, for God’s sake.”
The rules apply to all the Great Lakes, but opposition is most potent on Erie because the geography of the lake means the best fish are often over the international line.
Some operators haven’t decided whether they’ll continue fishing in Canadian waters. If they do, the operators will be required to:
•Fax in passengers’ personal information — name, date of birth and government ID number — to the local Customs and Border Protection office an hour before they leave shore. The names will be run against terrorist watch lists.
•Make sure passengers carry either a passport or a government ID and a proof-of-citizenship document.
•Send the passengers to a local border protection reporting station after landing, so they can call in on a videophone.
Officers will be watching and doing spot checks on patrol boats and government aircraft. “Our concerns are anything from terrorists and terrorist weapons to drugs and undocumented aliens,” says Brett Sturgeon, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection.
Jim Bonner, whose Sunshine Charters business has been taking tourists fishing on Lake Erie for 25 years, calls the rules “a waste of taxpayers’ money.”
“It’s a shame” he says. “It’s just wide-open water.”
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Pending Minnesota bill will strip citizens of genetic privacy and DNA ownership rights
A prominent Health Organization has warned that there is an ongoing semi-covert movement by state and federal governments to claim ownership of every newborn baby’s DNA for the purpose of genetic research without the consent of individual citizens.
A pending bill on the floor of the Minnesota House and Senate will strip citizens of genetic privacy and DNA ownership rights, The Citizens Council on Healthcare has warned.
“Today, a state genetic privacy law requires informed parent consent for government testing, ownership and research on the DNA of the newest Minnesota residents. The Minnesota Department of Health wants to eliminate the informed consent requirements. A bill to remove consent requirements for government ownership and genetic research will soon be voted on by the Minnesota House and Senate.” The CCHC website explains.
“Thus far, the state of Minnesota has illegally collected and claims ownership to the DNA of 780,000 children (soon to be voting adults) and has provided the DNA of 42,210 children to genetic researchers without parent consent. Approximately, 73,000 children are born in Minnesota every year. About 4.2 million children are born across the nation. All of them are losing their genetic privacy and DNA ownership rights.” the organization’s report continues.
The state treats the activity as an “opt out” program, whereby if the parents of the newborn infant do not specifically opt out of the process, the state presumes its has “informed consent” and that the parents have opted in.
CCHC President Twila Brase has warned that the databases housing the DNA could form the basis for a new eugenics movement, the practice of “perfecting” the human race through genetic manipulation, previously endorsed by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and toyed with by the likes of Adolf Hitler.
Ms. Brase explained in a statement last month that state Health Department officials are now seeking exemption for the so called “DNA Warehouse” from Minnesota privacy law. This would enable state officials to continue to take the DNA of newborn infants without consent.
Essentially this would mean that eventually every person’s DNA would be collected at birth, warehoused by the state in what is known as a “genomic biobank”, and sold or given away to private or governmental genetic researchers, who may manipulate, alter or splice the DNA in any way they see fit.
Such information would represent a goldmine to employers, insurance companies, medical institutions, and big pharma.
Under such conditions we are faced with the prospect of a society that is literally the mirror image of the nightmarish vision outlined by Aldous Huxley in his 1932 novel Brave New World, where individuals are categorized in a social hierarchy according to their genetic traits.
Watch Twila Brase explain the possible consequences of the pending DNA profiling legislation:
Ms. Brase has been warning of the ongoing move for a a number of years. In January 2007 she issued a written testimony to the Minnesota legislature on the unethical and hidden uses of harvested DNA by the state.
Read the 18 page PDF document here.
Recently, Minnesota based researcher and activist Marti Oakley revealed that, according to her polling, the majority of parents or grand parents of newborns have no idea that this is happening.
Further, not one knew that they had the right to demand the blood and tissue samples be destroyed after 45 days per written request. Even had they known, and the samples were destroyed (you would have no way of knowing if they really were) the information gleaned from them would still be available and on file…..in perpetuity.
Also unknown to at least the new parents in Minnesota, is that once that 45 days has lapsed, the state now claims that they “own” the DNA of that child.
Though the Minnesota case has received recent public attention, such DNA harvesting is not restricted to that state and is being undertaken nationwide.
The National Conference of State Legislatures lists for all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the various statutes or regulatory provisions under which newborns’ DNA is being collected.
DNA of newborns has been harvested, tested, stored and experimented with by all 50 states. In addition, all 50 states are now routinely providing these results to the Department of Homeland Security.
In the UK, a similar DNA harvesting program was rejected in 2005 by The Human Genetics Commission, who cited cost and ethical problems in a report to government ministers.
However, DNA profiling of all newborn babies has since been called for by lawmakers and most recently by senior police officers.
Oppose the Minnesota Department of Health’s refusal to fully inform parents
Currently, there is a monumental effort under way by The Citizens Council on Health Care to petition the state to oppose illegal State government ownership of the blood, DNA and genetic test results of newborn citizens in Minnesota. http://www.cchconline.org/petition/babyDNA2007.php
The CCHC is calling on Governor Tim Pawlenty to direct the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to comply with Minnesota state privacy law, to fully inform parents of the genetic testing process and their legal rights–and to dismantle MDH’s illegal warehouse of newborn citizen DNA. (Contact Sue Jeffers directly at: S1U2E3@aol.com )
For more resources on this issue visit the CCHC website.
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies doing business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war, according to a study by a nonpartisan research group.
Not all the companies in which lawmakers invested are typical defense contractors. Corporations such as PepsiCo, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson have at one point received defense-related contracts, notes the report by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.
The center’s review of lawmakers’ 2006 financial disclosure statements suggests that members’ holdings could pose a conflict of interest as they decide the fate of Iraq war spending. Several members earning money from these contractors have plum committee or leadership assignments, including Democratic Sen. John Kerry, independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt.