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FDA Requires More Testing of Weight Loss Drugs

An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration decided that obesity drugs must undergo clinical trials to ensure they do not cause heart attacks. The 17 to 6 vote now requires studies for all obesity drugs even if no apparent cardiovascular risk exist.

The track record of weight loss drugs has not been stellar. Though the new testing requirement will require much more time and money and ultimately impede drug production, the majority felt strongly about their decision.

“Given the checkered history of weight loss drugs, I think it is better to be prudent and err on the side of caution,” Dr. Sanjay Kaul, a cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Those who oppose the vote feel a much needed treatment will now be difficult to administer.

“If the F.D.A. follows through with this vote, you’ve just added another big disincentive for the drug companies to come up with obesity drugs, and we desperately need new drugs,” said Dr. Ed J. Hendricks, an obesity specialist in Sacramento.


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More Stores Stop Selling Ground Beef with Pink Slime

Ground beef that includes what the meat industry calls lean, finely textured beef, or pink slime, has been getting a lot of media coverage lately. Consumers have been avidly asking questions about which grocery stores sell it so that they can avoid it. As consumers continue to voice their concern, grocers are listening.

Safeway, SUPERVALU and Food Lion are the latest grocery stores to make the announcement that they will discontinue carrying ground beef that includes pink slime. Safeway released a statement saying, “While the USDA and food industry experts agree that lean, finely textured ground beef is safe and wholesome, recent news stories have caused considerable consumer concern about this product. Safeway will no longer purchase ground beef containing lean, finely textured beef.”

The list of grocers that are issuing statements regarding their ground beef and whether or not it contains pink slime is growing.

While Safeway is the second largest grocery chain in the country, SUPERVALU is the third largest chain. SUPERVALU controls various grocery stores including Albertson’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Jewel-Osco, Hornbacher’s and others. Some other heavy hitters like Walmart and Sam’s Club have also made recent announcements that they would stop selling beef that includes pink slime. The nation’s largest grocery store chain is Kroger and they currently offer beef options with and without the product.


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Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Corn Crop Approved for Planting by Government

Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation and the leading producer of engineered seed, just received government permission to test a large scale genetically modified (GMO) crop experiment. The engineered corn seed from Monsanto will be introduced throughout the country from South Dakota to Texas.

The project includes Monsanto testing their man-made corn variant. These crops are expected to thrive in dry and unfavorable conditions. The company feels their product could revitalize a large portion of the agriculture as many are experiencing abnormal climate conditions.

The first round of tests of the biotech crop are being done on farms owned by Monsanto. If the seed proves to be commercially viable it will be made for purchase in 2013.

This government approval marks a first. This is the first time the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services has allowed the testing of a genetically engineered product that has been tailored to weather conditions such as drought.


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Taiwan Trashes US Meat Over Livestock Drug

Ractopamine, ever heard of it? Probably not. However, this feed additive is rather controversial and is causing international waves.

Ractopamine is fed to American livestock in order to promote lean meat. Currently, it is fed to about 60 to 80 percent of the pigs in America and as a result, there have been numerous reports of dead and sickened pigs. No other livestock drug has caused such high numbers of death and illness according to an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Since the drug was introduced, over 218,000 pigs on ractopamine have been reported to show very adverse effects. Since March 2011, the drug has caused the majority of problems in pigs even though other livestock animals are on the drug. Pigs are suffering from hyperactivity, trembling, broken limbs, the inability to walk, and death.  These results were gathered from a FDA report that was released under a Freedom of Information Act request. Even though these disturbing things are happening to the livestock, the FDA says the data can’t determine that the drug caused these effects.


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A Convincing Argument For Fake Chicken

There are many reasons to be a vegetarian. Some do it purely for health, others maintain a meat-free diet because they feel that it protects animals from suffering. Regardless of the reasons, most vegetarians catch a lot of flak for their choices. A recent look into the world of poultry production and the options in a plant-based diet, may have even the most cynical among us ordering up faux chicken for our next meal.

New York Times, Op-Ed columnist Mark Bittman recently took an objective look into the world of fake meat, and poultry production in the U.S. He first looked at the facts about the chicken industry. The stats are a little unsettling. The U.S. raises and kills almost eight billion chickens a year. The growth is so rapid among industry chickens that the Veterinary Record has said that most of the chickens have bone disease and are in chronic pain. For a reflection, the University of Arkansas did a study and reported that if humans grew as fast as industry chickens, they would weigh nearly 350 pounds by age 2.

In addition to the animals being roughly manipulated, Bittman was clear to point out the other effects of raising meat in this manner. Not all are impacted by what some would call cruelty to animals, but the other factors effect many humans. When chickens are raised so quickly, producers are having difficulty dealing with the waste. Manure, waste water, and post-slaughter residue are all in excess and aren’t being disposed of efficiently at all facilities.


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