Under Secretary of Agriculture Greg Ibach recently told a House Agricultural Subcommittee that it may be time to start having a conversation about whether technologies such as gene editing can be used to enhance organic production. It’s no surprise, really: we’ve been saying for years now that special interests are watering down organic standards. We know that many organic fruits and vegetables from big companies are grown hydroponically, for example, and that a huge proportion of organic eggs and milk come from factory farms. This is a perversion of the organic standard that undermines small farmers who actually take the principles of organic agriculture seriously. Allowing gene editing in organic production would completely undermine consumer trust in the organic seal and expose the USDA’s program for the sham it has become.
2019 Flu Shot: Another Dud
The post-mortem on the most recent flu season is in, and it doesn’t look too good for the flu vaccine. Overall, the shot was just 29 percent effective. Part of the reason the effectiveness was so abysmal was that a wave of a certain strain of the flu popped up against which the vaccine provided almost no protection. This is part of the problem with the flu shot: the makers pick three or four strains of the virus to protect against based on a best guess on what strains will be active. Perhaps that is why the flu vaccine over the last fifteen years has been, on average, only 40% effective.
Read our coverage of the role vitamin D can help play in preventing the flu.
FDA’s Conflicting Messages On Health Claims
The FDA recently approved qualified health claims for omega-3 fatty acids related to their effect on blood pressure. The scientific backing for the claims comes from, among other studies, a meta-analysis concluding that “provision of EPA+DHA may lower [blood pressure] and ultimately reduce the risk of associated chronic diseases.” Despite this strong evidence, the FDA still adds the following disclaimer to all qualified health claims: “FDA has concluded that the evidence is inconsistent and inconclusive.” This intentional muddying of the waters is standard at a crony agency more concerned with protecting Big Pharma profits than with educating Americans about cheap, safe, and effective natural medicines that can keep them healthy.
About 1/3 of Americans have high blood pressure, and 60% of those patients take a drug for it. This means that the market for blood pressure medication is enormous. Drug companies don’t want competition from supplements, so we have a regulatory regime that stacks the deck in favor of drugs. Remember, the FDA gets billions from the drug industry through user fees. It’s crony capitalism through and through, and if we want to address the epidemic of chronic disease in this country, it has to stop.
Will CBD Be Classified As A New Drug?
In a recent editorial in the Washington Post, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote that a near-term solution to address the many regulatory issues surrounding access to CBD oil would be for the FDA to require new dietary ingredient (NDI) notifications for CBD. NDI notifications are generally required for “new supplements,” that is, supplements that have been introduced to the market after 1994 (see our previous coverage for more on what’s wrong with the NDI process). Those in the market before 1994 are known as “old dietary ingredients” and do not need to adhere to NDI requirements.
As we’ve argued previously, treating CBD oil as an NDI does not make any sense. There are many examples from across the world of hemp and hemp extracts being used in medicines and home remedies—but apparently these precedents don’t matter to the FDA. According to the law, CBD would have to be marketed in or as a supplement in the United States before 1994. If it was used in food, extracts, and remedies in every other country in the world before 1994, but not in the US, then the FDA can treat CBD as an NDI.
As always, ANH-USA will closely monitor developments that affect consumer access to CBD oil.