Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eat Gulf Sea food? Don't think so!

It's no wonder that corporatization in a government is a slow painful takeover process almost like a cancer.  One day or year you have a "government for the people, by the people" etc. and flash forward and you get one that hates transparency, sees people - ordinary citizens- as threats. Even as it chums up to the lobbyists and corporate interests that fund it.

One of the nasty ways this process has metastasized is to do with our food supply. The problem is that when health threats are obvious and clear, we are told by some agency or the other - usually the CDC, or FDA or USDA, to just ignore them. Thus, the CDC told us for years that flouride in water was no threat, despite clear evidence to the contrary. (See, e.g. Project Censored Yearbook (1999, p. 74) ,  Joel Griffiths and Chris Byron: 'Fluoride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb.')

The same Project Censored also noted that 'Mad cow" had never really abated from the U.S. beef supply, so no surprise cases turned up in 2003 and three human deaths from the disease. Do I still eat beef? Perhaps a beef roast, but rarely if ever burgers.

Then, two years ago we had the horrific BP oil spill off the Gulf coast. Eventually, they managed to get it cleaned up using primitive "boom" technology more than 30 years old. We were then led to believe (by the FDA) that all was well and that Gulf sea food - fish, lobsters, cray fish etc. were fine to eat. Well, what would you expect an agency trapped in the corporo-nexus and matrix to say? That it wasn't okay to eat, and therefore cost major industrial concerns millions? Hardly!

Fortunately, like Project Censored in the case of flouridated water supplies and Mad Cow disease (much of it traced to feeding cattle the rendered parts of other, deceased animals- hence setting the stage for prions) the 17th annual Tulane Environmental Law Summit has kept us updated on the continuing impacts of the BP Oil Spill.

To that end, scientists at the summit presented recent photographs of shrimp with no eyes and fish with cancerous tumors born long after the gulf was declared “safe” for fishing. While FDA's conclusions were based on testing seafood close to the surface, this isn't very revealing. When BP sprayed chemical dispersants containing a slew of toxic heavy metals including arsenic, the oil didn’t magically disappear, it sank into the sediment to affect any and all denizens that came near.

Disturbingly, the allowable levels set by the government for the toxins in our seafood are based on health impacts for a 176-pound adult eating less than two medium shrimp a day, wich is totally foolish. (I am about that weight and eat 9-10 jumbo shrimp at least!)  The testing also is for one chemical out of a crude oil mixture containing thousands of chemicals. In addition, NO synergistic effects were considered (i.e. the interplay between chemicals). This in no way protects children, fetuses, people who weigh less than 176 pounds or anyone who eats seafood on a daily basis such as citizens on the Gulf Coast!

One must therefore conclude these were mock tests, and the conclusions mock conclusions....or maybe better, a mockery of scientific conclusions! What do the testers on high take us for? Idiots?

Dr. Patricia Williams, Ph.D., Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology, Associate Professor, Coordinator of Toxicology Research Laboratories, Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of New Orleans, spoke at the summit about what she sees as a failure to properly assess the impact of the spill on seafood and on human health. She said:

"In 1996, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acknowledged that direct measurement of tissue for PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) concentrations generally does not provide a useful indicator of exposure of fish to PAHs from petroleum spills. Regardless, an extremely expensive seafood testing program was launched using this method. Testing included only 13 PAH parent compounds out of 200 PAHs present in crude oil. PAHs act on each other resulting in greater toxicity than expected from a single PAH (synergism). The synergistic nature of the PAHs were ignored in interpretation of the results. Additionally, the Levels of Concern were calculated for a 176 pound individual. This does not address toddlers and children or the developing fetus and placental transfer. The public was not warned of these deficiencies in the seafood testing program."

So this brings into question whether the citizen can trust ANY government agency conclusions or studies. (Including a recent one which finds a new chemical derived from "Agent Orange" to treat weeds, (2,4, D)  is safe and non-carcinogenic. The FDA assures us this is the case. But when a guy downwind of the spraying of this crap sees his tomato plants curl up and die, I don't believe it.)

Dr. Williams explained that “PAHs are endocrine disruptors that interfere with the normal blood-borne hormones (e.g., estrogen and testosterone) that are responsible for the regulation of reproductive and developmental processes. Only very low amounts of chemicals are needed to disrupt the normal endocrine balance of both humans and animals. Evidence of reproduction imbalance is seen in the second generation of white shrimp in the 2011 harvest. Shrimp were harvested with defective eye stalks, pleopods, and pereiopods. Such anatomical defects are occurring in the markedly reduced white shrimp population in the Gulf and warn of endocrine dysfunction that could result in the loss of the species.”
She also added:

The heavy metals known to be present in crude oil are being ignored in the testing of seafood. Metal toxicity can produce neurobehavioral abnormalities in sea life such as: alterations in avoidance or attraction responses; critical swimming speed; changes in social interactions (e.g. aggression), reproduction, feeding, and predator avoidance; food foraging with reduced feeding ability; loss or orientation in swimming and changes in schooling behavior. Heavy metal testing in BP Oil clean-up workers has documented increased arsenic levels in 24 hour urine specimens.”

And what of health effects down the line? According to Dr. WIlliams:

"The future chronic health effects from consumption of contaminated seafood and biomagnification along the food chain are yet to be realized in both sea life and humans. Chronic effects may take years to present and may elude an analysis of their causal origins. ”
To me, this translates into an explosion of cancers and other (hormone disruption) problems.  But are they or will they be as nefarious as the effects from flouridated water?, e.g. (op. cit.)

- perinatal deaths 15% higher than in neighboring non-fluoridated areas.

-impairment of immune system function

- skeletal fluorosis, from chronic exposure, including: severe joint and bone pain, sensations of burning, pricking in the limbs, muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders

- lowering of IQs, in children exposed to fluoride over prolonged time, and animal studies disclose shrinkage of brains.

Who knows? What we do know is that our corporatized gov't doesn't appear to share the concern for its citizens' health that other industrial nations do. Hell, it won't even make available a single payer health system to halt all the abuse, profiteering and billing excess. (More on this in a future blog)

The "Land of the free and home of the brave"? More like the land of the perpetually-kept ignorant and exploited for corporate gain.

As noted in my Elements of the Corporatocracy, it is only a very few citizens - perhaps 5% if that - that at any time know what the hell is going on in this country (economically, societally and healthwise) and aren't fooled most of the time. Tragic...but true!

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