More Big Government: McCain Bill S.3002 To Limit Access to Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements

The bill that threatens our freedom to have continued access to supplements is bill S.3002, the Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010 (DSSA). Senator John McCain is the primary sponsor. And it would give the FDA more powers to limit your access to nutritional supplements.

Here's some of what the McCain bill would do:

Require everyone associated with supplements to register with the FDA and provide validation for every ingredient they sell. This includes manufacturers, distributors, labelers, licensors, stores, and even people selling products through MLMs (multi-level marketing). Penalties for failing to keep these documents could put companies and stores out of business. Current regulations already require that supplement companies provide proof of ingredients and quality.

Give the FDA the power to decide which supplements would remain on the market and in what strengths.

Give the FDA the authority to ban all other supplements and turn them over to drug companies so they can be developed into drugs and sold for much higher prices.

Give the FDA the authority to immediately recall any supplement that has even minor adverse effects, like an allergic reaction, while at the same time permitting the sale of aspirin and other "safe" drugs with known side effects. About 10,000 people in the U.S. alone die each year from bleeding caused by aspirin or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Yet, the FDA is not taking aspirin off the market or turning it into a prescription drug.

There's much more…. The FDA already regulates many aspects of nutritional supplement safety. We don't want them telling us which nutrients we can buy or in what quantities. We want the ability to choose for ourselves like we have.

Its creators designed bill S.3002 to prevent athletes from using steroids and other illegal substances. Let's see a bill that says that, plain and simple. Not one that robs us of our freedoms.

Tell your senators not to co-sponsor or vote for this bill, and to do everything possible to defeat it. Phone calls carry more weight than e-mails. Hand-written letters are more powerful than phone calls. But do something. Anything. You can find your senators' contact information at www.senate.gov. Click on the tab at the top that says "Senators."

Is BPA Toxic?

Marc Gunther at GreenBiz.com describes the battle over removing BPA from plastics. It is widespread — about 9 of 10 Americans have the chemical in their urine.

Link: How Wal-Mart Became the New FDA – Column | GreenBiz.com.

Wal-Mart …, along with CVS and Toys ‘R Us, says it will stop selling baby bottles containing a controversial chemical called bisphenol-A. The California state Senate has voted to prohibit the use of BPA in children’s products. Nalgene, which makes water jugs, is phasing out BPA, too. And powerful Congressmen want BPA removed from cans of infant formula.

The question is, why? The FDA says bisphenol-A is perfectly safe. So do Japanese and European regulators, who tend to be more cautious. Even the government of Canada, which plans to ban the chemical from baby bottles, recently assured its citizens that this was done “as a precautionary measure.”

BPA, you should know, is everywhere. The chemical is used to make polycarbonate, a rigid, clear plastic used in bottles, bike helmets, CDs, DVDs and automobile headlights. It’s also used to make epoxy resins, which are used as coatings in food and drink cans as well as dental sealants. You’re probably carrying around some BPA right now: About 93% of Americans tested by the Centers for Disease Control had the chemical in their urine. About 6 billion pounds of chemical were made last year.

The trouble is, numerous studies of laboratory animals have linked small doses of BPA to breast cancers, prostate cancer, brain abnormalities and reproductive health problems. Other scientists argue that the chemical, which has been widely used since the 1950s, is perfectly safe. The fact is, there’s a good deal of scientific uncertainty about bisphenol-A. That’s not surprising, because we rely on animal studies to predict the effects of chemicals on humans, and extrapolating from mice to you and me isn’t easy.

But this story isn’t fundamentally about science. It’s about the politics of BPA. More broadly, it’s about how we, as a society, make decisions about health and safety, at a time when we no longer trust the government or industry to protect us. Because we’ve lost faith in those big institutions, battles over a slew of products and processes—genetically modified foods, the irradiation of meat, or phthalates in cosmetics or children’s toys—are being fought in the court of public opinion, for better or worse.

In the case of BPA, the market for hard-plastic baby and sport bottles collapsed suddenly this spring because of a hard-hitting campaign against the chemical by activist groups, concerned scientists, politicians, and trial lawyers. They spread fears about BPA that eventually convinced nervous retailers to turn away from children’s products containing the chemical. As an expert in crisis PR noted, wryly, “Wal-Mart is the new FDA.”

For companies that make chemicals or use them in consumer products, this is a real worry. It’s a whole lot easier to frighten people than it is to reassure them, especially when talking about kids. “The science can’t compete with the emotion,” says Steve Hentges, a chemist and a lobbyist with the American Chemistry Council, an industry group that lately has been on the losing end of the BPA battles.

If the most determined opponents of BPA get their way and drive the chemical out of the food supply, consumers will pay the costs. Some BPA-free plastic bottles sell for $10 each, more than twice the price of bottles with BPA. Baby bottles made of glass can break, potentially causing injury. Replacing BPA in the lining of aluminum cans would mean retooling all that packaging, and it’s not clear that there are safe alternatives.

Those costs are worth paying to protect our health, environmentalist say. They argue that if government regulators can’t or won’t do the job of regulating potentially toxic chemicals, then it makes perfect sense for advocacy groups, politicians, an aggressive media and even Wal-Mart to step in.

“The federal regulatory system for chemicals is broken,” declares Richard Liroff, the executive director of the Investor Environmental Health Network, a nonprofit that works with companies on issues of toxics. “We have largely incapacitated the government to make the kinds of decisions that we ought to be able to look to government to make. So there’s a lot to be said for having big companies slice through the knot and say we have to make decisions for our good, for our customers’ good and for the good of society.”

If nothing else, the BPA battles underscores how rapidly markets can by reshaped by activist campaigns and consumer sentiments, both magnified by the Internet. A handful of companies emerged as winners this spring: Whole Foods Market, which pulled BPA baby bottles and cups off its shelves several years ago; Eastman Chemical, which introduced a plastic alternative called Triton last year; and Born Free, a private company started in 2006 specifically to provide BPA-free baby bottles. Others, including SABIC Innovative Plastics, which was formerly the plastics division of GE and is now the U.S.’s biggest manufacturer of BPA, presumably saw sales decline. (SABIC declined to comment on the financial impact.) Baby-bottle makers including Avent America, Evenflo and Gerber Products are now being sued because they sold products made with BPA.

This spring’s BPA battles were fought like a political campaign, complete with catchy soundbites, press releases, personal attacks, and warring websites. One prominent and controversial crusader is Dr. Frederick vom Saal, who has been researching BPA for more than a decade. Vom Saal has testified before state legislatures and appeared on such TV programs as PBS’s Frontline and ABC’s 20/20 to denounce BPA in terms that gloss over scientific uncertainty. Referring to the fact that BPA is a mild estrogen, he says things like “the idea that you’re using sex hormones to make plastic is just totally insane.”

Monsanto’s Government Ties

Who does the government protect when food safety and nutrition are an issue? (Note: Monsanto wants everyone to depend on their genetically engineered crops for food.)

Link: Millions Against Monsanto Campaign – Organic Consumers Association

A Monsanto official told the New York Times that the corporation should not have to take responsibility for the safety of its food products. "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food," said Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. "Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job."

It would be nice to think the FDA can be trusted with these matters, but think again. Monsanto has succeeded in insuring that government regulatory agencies let Monsanto do as it wishes. Take a look:

Clarence Thomas

Prior to being the Supreme Court Judge who put GW Bush in office, Clarence Thomas was Monsanto’s lawyer.

Anne Veneman

Former US Secretary of Agriculture Anne Veneman was on the Board of Directors of Monsanto’s Calgene Corporation.

Donald Rumsfeld

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was on the Board of Directors of Monsanto’s Searle pharmaceuticals.

Tommy Thompson

Former US Secretary of Health, Tommy Thompson, received $50,000 in donations from Monsanto during his winning campaign for Wisconsin’s governor.

John AshcroftSenate candidate

More Ties

In order for the FDA to determine if Monsanto’s growth hormones were safe or not, Monsanto was required to submit a scientific report on that topic. Margaret Miller, one of Monsanto’s researchers put the report together. Shortly before the report submission, Miller left Monsanto and was hired by the FDA. Her first job for the FDA was to determine whether or not to approve the report she wrote for Monsanto. In short, Monsanto approved its own report. Assisting Miller was another former Monsanto researcher, Susan Sechen. Deciding whether or not rBGH-derived milk should be labeled fell under the jurisdiction of another FDA official, Michael Taylor, who previously worked as a lawyer for Monsanto.

The two congressmen receiving the most donations from Monsanto during the 2000 election were Larry Combest (Former Chairman of the House Agricultural Committee) and Missouri John Ashcroft

(later to be named Attorney General). (Source: Dairy Education Board)

More posts about Monsanto:

Are you eating Monsanto’s genetically modified crops?

Monsanto Backs Off Bio-Wheat

Shining a Light on Agribusiness and It’s Poster Child Monsanto

Monsanto Files Patent for the Pig

Yum! Irradiated Food

The FDA continues to take care of the big corporations and the lobbyists who take care of the FDA.

Link: OCA: Take Action

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed new federal regulations that will allow manufacturers and retailers to sell controversial irradiated foods without labeling them, as previously required by law. Consumers are justifiably wary of foods bombarded with nuclear waste or powerful x-rays or gamma rays–since irradiation destroys essential vitamins and nutrients, creates unique radiolytic chemical compounds never before consumed by humans, and generates carcinogenic byproducts such as formaldehyde and benzene. Although irradiation, except for spices, is banned in much of the world, and prohibited globally in organic production, U.S. corporate agribusiness and the meat industry desperately want to be able to secretly "nuke" foods in order to reduce the deadly bacterial contamination that is now routine in industrial agriculture and meat production.

The Organic Consumers Association and other public interest groups have repeatedly pointed out that the best way to reduce or eliminate America’s 78 million cases of food poisoning every year would be to clean up the nation’s filthy slaughterhouses and feedlots, stop contaminated runoff from intensive confinement feedlots from polluting adjacent farms (as in the recent spinach e-coli outbreak), and to stop feeding animals slaughterhouse waste and manure. Instead, FDA and corporate agribusiness have apparently decided, with the backing of the nuclear power and weapons industry, to take away consumers’ rights to know if their food has been irradiated or not.