Friday, December 15, 2017

Health: The Dangers of Allowing a Global Monopoly

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Health: The Dangers of Allowing a Global Monopoly

 

Those in the industry may have heard that recently, Nestle purchased Atrium Innovations, a Quebec supplement maker. The brands that will be affected by this US $2.3 billion purchase are: Garden of Life, Pure Encapsulations, Wobenzym, AOV, Douglas Laboratories, Genestra Brands, Klean Athlete, Minami Nutrition, Orthica, Pharmax, and Trophic.

Many natural health retailers have expressed outrage over this purchase, given Nestle's ethical track record. The company made news when they tapped a natural spring in California, taking water from the drought-stricken community and forcing them to purchase it at an inflated rate. They commonly use cheap, third world labour--including child labour, which prompted a lawsuit against them last year.

These are just the more recent indiscretions, though. Nestle is a giant company, with properties which include baby food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. Let's take a look at their history in some of these areas. Early on, Nestle promoted their infant formula to impoverished nations. However, this was problematic for multiple reasons. For one, these countries generally did not have access to clean water, so boiling would have been required. Even this was not clear to the mothers, though, due to low literacy rates. Even mothers who were literate struggled to understand the instructions for sterilization. Compounding the problem, mothers tried to stretch the formula out so it would last longer, which meant they used less than was instructed. Perhaps worst of all, while Nestle would offer free formula samples to mothers in the hospital, once they were out, parents had to buy formula. Nestle did not take responsibility for these problems, but said something should be done about the lack of clean drinking water--which also became a convenient way to promote their bottled water later.

Nestle is actually the world's largest producer of bottled water, and they are quite protective of their products. Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe once stated that the idea of water as a public right is "extreme." In fact, in 2000, the company advocated to change access to drinking water from a "right" to a "need." They drain their aquifers as much as possible; yet, in California, where much of their water is sourced, there is no legal means to force Nestle to disclose how much water they are taking. Similar problems are happening in Pakistan, where a Nestle well left locals without potable water. Ironically, although Nestle owns so many aquifers, at times they have been known to bottle tap water!

In 2005, the International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit against Nestle on behalf of three Malian children who had been trafficked, forced into slavery, and regularly beaten. An independent audit by the Fair Labor Association found that Nestle had multiple violations of their own supplier code, and had not carried out checks against child labour and abuse and, by extension, had not done much to improve those conditions, either.

There are many more areas of concern surrounding Nestle, which are expanded upon more here. It should be noted, though, that Nestle is not the only giant conglomerate that now owns supplement brands. New Chapter is owned by Procter & Gamble, and Clorox owns Renew Life. According to Clorox, part of Renew Life's appeal was that its gross profit margins were "generally in line with its existing portfolio."

With such huge conglomerates taking over natural products, something is bound to get lost in the shuffle. The conglomerates will not slow down the production process to ensure natural quality standards are in place. Instead, they will want to streamline operations and minimize costs as much as possible, which is where China comes in. As China's influence has grown in other markets, it has also grown in the natural industry as well. In fact, the Seattle Times reported that China has over 90 per cent of the Vitamin C market in the United States. The book Global Price Fixing: Our Customers are the Enemy also notes that China played a large role in drowning out the US market for B1, B2, B6, B12, and folic acid. However, disclosing the country of origin is not a requirement for supplement labelling. This should be concerning, as food safety scandals are commonplace in China--their top vitamin and supplement production areas are among the world's most polluted. Stateside protections for these products are also weak, at best: only 2 per cent of all vitamins and supplements are inspected, and even USDA organic standards place no limit on heavy metal contamination for certified organic foods.

Where does this leave consumers? Unfortunately, the window of reliable natural brands is shrinking, so those who want to support the natural industry should do their homework about which brands have not been bought out. We are one of those few brands. We would encourage customers to vote with their dollars, and support like-minded companies. 
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Frankenfish Causing Added Environmental Toxins to the Ocean Food Chain and Endangering Human Health

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Frankenfish Causing Added Environmental Toxins to the Ocean Food Chain and Endangering Human Health

 

Most people in the natural health industry are aware of the barrage of toxins we are exposed to every day. Environmental toxins carry over to plants, which carry over to animals--commonly livestock. However, cows and cow byproducts are not the only products affected. Fish are affected, as well, and just last month, we saw the ramifications of that playing out on the news.

A fish processing plant near Campbell River, B.C. was found to be spewing fish blood containing a contagious virus known as Piscine reovirus, or PRV. First discovered in Canada in 2011, PRV is a potentially deadly disease that causes heart lesions and organ hemorrhaging in fish. It is currently estimated to affect up to 80 per cent of B.C.'s farmed salmon. The virus also has the capability to wipe out up to a fifth of a farmed salmon population. Although the virus is not thought to be transmittable to humans, its consequences could be devastating for wild salmon populations--as well as anyone dependent on wild salmon for food, such as bears, whales, or people. It was also discovered that a second fish processing plant near Tofino was spewing the same toxic contents into the ocean.

This problem is only complicated by imported Atlantic salmon, according to biologist Alexander Morton. Atlantic salmon are actually imported from Norway, and because they are not native to Canada's west coast, there is growing concern that raising Atlantic salmon in Pacific salmon farms is causing irreparable damage to the B.C. coast. PRV is a common occurrence in the Atlantic salmon, which has transferred over to wild salmon, as well. Morton's team has trouble finding infected wild salmon for examination, though, because the disease makes them easy prey.

In fact, in 2015, Norway ranked heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI) as the number 3 killer of farmed salmon. Studies have shown that PRV and HSMI are directly connected. However, the province of B.C. was slow to acknowledge it, partially because the province used a unique definition to diagnose HSMI, instead of the international definition. Federal fishery law is also a factor that has affected government response. Although Canadian law says it is illegal to transfer diseased or infected fish info Canadian oceans, the B.C. farmed fish industry is doing it all the time, and judicial efforts to change the practice have been overturned, so far.

The problem is so prevalent that it was even covered on 60 Minutes in 2014. Ian Roberts, spokesperson of fishery giant Marine Harvest, argued that by raising farmed salmon, wild salmon are not as endangered. However, this argument collapses in the face of statistics showing the correlation of salmon farms and the decline of wild salmon populations. It also provides an interesting contrast to Alaska, which has banned salmon farms statewide. Instead, the state practices "ocean ranching"--using hatcheries to rear juvenile fish before releasing them into the ocean. Alaska currently has the largest wild salmon fishery in the world.

Despite these concerns, the current way of doing things does not show any signs of slowing down--the demand is too great. Canada is the prime exporter of seafood to the U.S., which was, as of 2010, the third largest seafood market in the world, only superseded by Japan and China.

As with anything health-related, the only way to be safe is to do research. First, savvy consumers should only eat wild, non-GMO seafood. Second, do research into which companies are best to buy from--who is the most transparent? Buy from them and support them. As we have seen before, "natural" doesn't mean much these days. Third, take endocrine and immunity-boosting supplements to strengthen your body's defenses. We recommend Thyroid Support Homeopathic and Thymus Gland.
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Copyright © *|2017|* *|Doctor's Choice TM|*, All rights reserved.


Our Contact Info is:
Address: P.O. Box 1696 Station Main, Cochrane, AB T4C 1B6
Tel: 866-226-1722
Fax: 866-226-1822
E-mail: info@doctorschoice.ca
Web: www.doctorschoice.ca

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