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A study by Clinical Epigenetics, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses largely on diseases, has found that the rise in autism in the United States could be linked to the industrial food system, specifically the prevalence of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the American diet. The study, published yesterday online, explores how mineral deficiencies could impact how the human body rids itself of common toxic chemicals like mercury and pesticides. The report comes just after a different report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, documented a startling rise in autism in the United States.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/11-6

Most of us would be surprised to learn that the majority of sweeteners used in processed food comes from corn, not sugar cane or beets. Developed in the 1970s, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has the same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it's considerably cheaper to make than sugar. Processed in one of 16 chemical plants located throughout the US Corn Belt, in vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and genetically engineered chemicals the end product is piped into tanker trucks ready to be delivered to major food processors across the nation.

So who gets the benefits? Large scale food manufacturers. Cheaper and more convenient to use than natural sweeteners the cost savings turns into massive profits. But doctors and independent scientists are telling anyone who is listening that GE HFCS is linked to serious illness in both adults and children.

HFCS In Surprising Places

Try this. Go to the head of one of the interior aisles at the grocery store and look at the products. Seven out of 10 items will have some form of HFCS. Products include: dry roasted peanuts; bread - almost every brand including “whole grain”; yogurt; peanut butter; most snack foods including crackers; mayonnaise; soft drinks and fruit juices; and tragically infant formula.

So read the label carefully and don't be fooled by the word 'natural' . If the label reads corn syrup, cornstarch, or HFCS consider alternatives. Until we know more, it is simply better to make a conscious choice and stay away from it as much as possible. There is too much growing evidence not to be concerned.

The consumption of HFCS increased 1000% from 1970 to 1990 according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2004. And we continue to swallow it by the mouthful.

A single 12-ounce can of soda or sweetened juice has as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar in the form of GE HFCS. GE HFCS helps prevent freezer burn, so frozen food manufacturers use it. It makes bread brown and keeps loaves soft so commercial bakers use it. The synthetic sweetener is a favorite ingredient in many health foods like energy bars. It is in beer, cough syrup, chocolate, peanut butter, baking ingredients and breakfast foods. Grain-based alcohols use itg. A low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt can have ten teaspoons of fructose-based sweetener in one serving. GE HFCS can even be found in the majority of commercially available nondairy baby formulas

There is nothing natural about corn syrup. The medical profession is exploring the link of high fructose corn syrup to obesity, diabetes and even some cancers. High fructose corn syrup is made from GMO corn, using genetically altered chemicals in the processing. Until we know more, it is simply better to make a conscious choice and stay away from it.

Read the label. High fructose corn syrup is hidden by food and beverage manufacturers under many names. Look for chicory, inulin, iso glucose, glucose-fructose syrup, and fruit fructose as indicators that high fructose corn syrup resides in that food.

The endocrine system regulates every function of the body. It consists of the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands, the pancreas, the ovaries and the testes, all linked to the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus is like the mainframe computer of the body sending signals to glands that provide instructions for creating hormones, which are the natural chemical messengers that tell your cells what to do. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes.

The endocrine system is all about hormones and glands. As the body's chemical messengers, hormones transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. Although many different hormones circulate throughout the bloodstream, each one affects only the cells that are genetically programmed to receive and respond to its message. Hormone levels can be influenced by factors such as stress, infection, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in blood.

While your nervous system uses electricity to orchestrate all sorts of things in the body, the endocrine system does even more through the wonder of chemicals.

Endocrine glands spew their hormones directly into your bloodstream. The various endocrine glands send the messenger chemicals via the bloodstream to different parts of the body where they bind to specific receptors that control cellular functions. One messenger hormone, estrogen, is secreted by the ovaries and plays a major part in the regulation of menstruation, fertility, pregnancy and fat cell activity.

Endocrine disruptors are chemical substances, primarily man-made synthetics, that interfere with the function of the endocrine system. These synthetics may be derived from petroleum or vegetable sources and are created for environmentally unfriendly industrial processes using toxic catalysts and reagents.

These chemicals mimic, block or disrupt the actions of human (and animal) hormones and, unexpectedly, do more damage at low levels of exposure than at high levels. These chemicals can also work in sinister yet subtle ways by disrupting the body's ability to produce adequate quantities of hormones or by interfering with the body's hormonal pathways.

These endocrine disruptors are affecting algae and other microscopic life, fish, whales and birds. Humans are exposed when they drink the water or eat contaminated fish.

Endocrine disruptors are stored in a body's fatty tissues and do not get flushed out with water. They accumulating over the years. It is now recognized that the dramatic increases of breast cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and thyroid cancer have been linked to exposure to environmental estrogens. In the past twenty-five years in the US, alone, thyroid cancer has increased more than 45%, with more women being affected than men, and has become the number one cancer in children under age twenty, many of whom suffered from fetal endocrine disruption exposures.

Of the 80,000 plus chemicals used in products, just a fraction were fully tested for toxicity, let alone for their hormone interference potential. Currently, toxicity tests required by the US and Canadian government do not evaluate endocrine disrupting effects.

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to Goliath and that’s just what a group of small family-owned farms in Argentina are doing. These brave Argentine tobacco farmers have just filed lawsuits against the goliath Monsanto as well as other major tobacco companies like Philip Morris claiming these companies knowingly poisoned them with herbicides and pesticides subsequently causing “devastating birth defects” in their children. The birth defects cited in the 55 page complaint include cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, psychomotor retardation, missing fingers and blindness.

Most of Argentina's tobacco is grown in the rural north eastern province of Misiones. The small family-owned farms sell their tobacco to many United States distributors. Philip Morris and Carolina Leaf use a tobacco brokerage company, Tabacos Norte, to buy tobacco from the farmers and sell them crop production supplies, including herbicides and pesticides.

The farmers claim the tobacco companies that buy their crops asked them to replace the native tobacco with a new type, used in Philip Morris cigarettes, which required more pesticides. They claim the defendants pushed Monsanto’s Roundup on the farmers despite a lack of protective equipment or sufficient training directly exposing them to Roundup in large concentrations assuring them that the products were safe. Monsanto’s Roundup is a herbicide with its active ingredient glyphosate has been linked to a myriad of nasty human and environmental side effects.

The claim states that the tobacco companies “wrongfully caused the parental and infant plaintiffs to be exposed to those chemicals and substances which they both knew, or should have known, would cause the infant offspring of the parental plaintiffs to be born with devastating birth defects.”

The plaintiffs also claim they lacked training and instruction on the safe disposal of unused Roundup and other pesticides which caused further exposure. Leftover Monsanto's pesticides contaminated the farmers' non-tobacco crops, water wells and streams meant for family use, exposing their families to the toxic substances, the farmer say.

The lawyer argues that the tobacco companies were ”motivated by a desire for unwarranted economic gain and profit,” with zero regard for the farmers and their infant children — many of which are now suffering from severe birth defects from Monsanto’s products. The farmers seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, ultra hazardous activity, aiding and abetting, willful and wanton misconduct and violations of Argentine laws.

Monsanto, who is no stranger to legal trouble, is named in the suit along with Altria Group fka Philip Morris Cos., Philip Morris USA, Carolina Leaf Tobacco, Universal Corporation fka Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and others.

In North America, we spend almost 90 percent of our food budget on processed food which contains a staggering number of artificial food additives, preservatives, colours and flavour enhancers. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest compiled a list of common food additives. There is a short description for each additive and a safety rating for each.

So what's wrong with a bit of flavour enhancement? When it comes to commercial food, its so dangerous your health and the health of your children may be suffering as a consequence. A carefully designed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal The Lancet may have finally shifted the tide. It concluded that a variety of common food dyes, and the preservative sodium benzoate – found in many soft drinks, fruit juices and salad dressings – do cause some children to become measurably more hyperactive and distracted.

The seven ingredients tested in the study included:
• Sodium benzoate (E211)
• Sunset yellow (E110)
• Quinoline yellow (E104)
• Carmoisine (E122)
• Tartrazine (E102)
• Ponceau 4R (E124)
• Allura red AC (E129)

The results of this study have already prompted the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue an immediate advisory to parents, warning them to limit their children's intake of additives if they notice an effect on behavior. Read the labels on food products and find out what is in the foods you buy.

Additives to Avoid
1. Sodium Nitrate (also called Sodium Nitrite)
This is a preservative, coloring, and flavoring commonly added to bacon, ham, hot dogs, luncheon meats, smoked fish, and corned beef. Studies have linked eating it to various types of cancer.
2. BHA and BHT
Butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydrozyttoluene are used to preserve common household foods. They are found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. They are oxidants, which form potentially cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body.
3. Propyl Gallate
Another preservative, often used in conjunction with BHA and BHT. It is sometimes found in meat products, chicken soup base, and chewing gum. Animals studies have suggested that it could be linked to cancer.
4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is an amino acid used as a flavor enhancer in soups, salad dressings, chips, frozen entrees, and restaurant food. It can cause headaches and nausea, and animal studies link it to damaged nerve cells in the brains of infant mice.
5. Trans Fats
Trans fats are proven to cause heart disease. Restaurant food, especially fast food chains, often serve foods laden with trans fats.
6. Aspartame
Aspartame, also known by the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal, is a sweetener found in so-called diet foods such as low-calorie desserts, gelatins, drink mixes, and soft drinks. It may cause cancer or neurological problems, such as dizziness or hallucinations.
7. Acesulfame-K
This is a relatively new artificial sweetener found in baked goods, chewing gum, and gelatin desserts. There is a general concern that testing on this product has been scant, and some studies show the additive may cause cancer in rats.
8. Food Colorings: Blue 1, 2; Red 3; Green 3; Yellow 6
Five food colorings still on the market are linked with cancer in animal testing. Blue 1 and 2, found in beverages, candy, baked goods and pet food, have been linked to cancer in mice. Red 3, used to dye cherries, fruit cocktail, candy, and baked goods, has been shown to cause thyroid tumors in rats. Green 3, added to candy and beverages, has been linked to bladder cancer. The widely used yellow 6, added to beverages, sausage, gelatin, baked goods, and candy, has been linked to tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney.
9. Olestra
Olestra, a synthetic fat found in some potato chip brands, can cause severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and gas. Olestra also inhibits healthy vitamin absorption from fat-soluble carotenoids that are found in fruits and vegetables.
10. Potassium Bromate
Potassium bromate is used as an additive to increase volume in some white flour, breads, and rolls. It is known to cause cancer in animals, and even small amounts in bread can create a risk for humans.
11. White Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Watch out for foods with added sweeteners such as baked goods, cereals, crackers, sauces and many other processed foods. It is unsafe for your health, and promotes bad nutrition. HFCS is the number one source of calories in North America. The accumulated scientific evidence demonstrates it causes far more damage than white sugar.
12. Sodium Chloride
A dash of sodium chloride, more commonly known as salt, can bring flavor to your meal. But too much salt can be dangerous for your health, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. However, unprocessed salts, like unrefined sea salts and Himalayan salt can be an important part of a healthy diet.

Carbendazim is a fungicide of major concern. It is suspected that the chemical has hormone disrupting effects. It has been highlighted by Friends of the Earth as one of their ‘filthy four’ pesticides as it could be harmful to human health and the environment.

Developed by chemical giants, BASF (now part of Bayer) and Dupont, carbendazim is used to control a broad range of diseases on arable crops which include cereals, oilseed rape, fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. The global market is worth over $200 million at user level -- equivalent to over 12,000 tones of active ingredient.

Carbendazim is a suspected endocrine disruptor. It has been included by the European Commission on a priority list of chemicals that are believed to affect hormone function. Friends of the Earth have found evidence that carbendazim can damage the development of mammals in the womb.

Carbendazim has been in the news because of issues over residues in foodstuffs. It is one of the twelve most commonly detected pesticides in EU monitoring programmes. In 2000, it was found in baby food made by Heinz and Milupa and sold in Tesco and Waitrose. Additionally, in 2000, one third of all pears, 16% of apples tested, and over a quarter (27%) of apple juice samples contained carbendazim residues. Although carbendazim was only found in low doses on all the samples, it is an issue because babies are especially vulnerable, and apples and pears are amongst those foodstuffs most commonly eaten by toddlers.

Animals exposed to carbendazim in the womb have serious deformities such as lack of eyes and hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Carbendazim can disrupt the development of sperm and damage testicular development in adult rats. For example one study of benomyl (which has carbendazim as its main metabolite) found ‘testicular atrophy and degeneration and foetotoxicity’.

However, despite the known effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals, on wildlife, in providing their opinion on carbendazim the Scientific Committee on Plants found there were only minor signs of reproductive toxicity at high doses and no effects on development in the absence of maternal and/or paternal toxicity.

In polls taken in the U.S. and Canada, over 80% of participants want food containing GMO ingredients labeled. Consumers have a right to know what they are eating, but it’s increasingly evident that we’re not getting any help in that regard from our regulators. So it’s up to us to know what to look for so we can make informed purchasing decisions. Avoiding GE ingredients isn’t easy and once you make the transition from purchasing food without transgenic ingredients, you’ll be surprised how much of it is on grocery shelves and in your kitchen. Estimates indicate that more than 75 percent of the food in supermarkets is genetically engineered or contains transgenic ingredients and that doesn’t include meat products.

The most reliable way to avoid transgenic ingredients in your food is to be on the lookout for the four most common transgenic ingredients:

Field corn and corn-derived ingredients:
The U.S. is the world’s largest corn producer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, last year, American farmers planted more corn than any other crop, covering 95 million acres. (USDA 2013a). Almost 90 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered (USDA 2013b). Most of the transgenic crop is cultivated for animal feed, but nearly 12 percent is processed into corn flour, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, masa, corn meal and corn oil. All of those transgenic products end up in foods consumed by humans (EPA 2013). Assume that when these ingredients are listed on the food labels of processed food, they are genetically engineered. Be on the lookout for GMO sweet corn or table grown in both Canada and the US. It’s making its way into grocery stores and farmers markets and it doesn’t have to be labelled.

Soybeans and soybean-derived ingredients:
Soybeans are the second most planted American crop, covering more than 76 million acres last year (USDA 2013a). Almost 93 percent of soybeans grown in that country has been genetically engineered (USDA 2013b). Soybean-based products and soybean-derived ingredients are common on supermarket shelves. Assume processed food products that contain soy proteins, soybean oil, soy milk, soy flour, soy sauce, tofu or soy lecithin are transgenic unless they are certified organic or GE-free.

Sugar:
Roughly 55 percent of the sugar produced in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, 95 percent of which have been genetically engineered (USDA 2013c). If a product label does not specify that it has been made with “pure cane” sugar, chances are very likely that the sugar is genetically engineered beet sugar.

Vegetable Oils:
Assume that vegetable oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil and corn oil are genetically engineered. Nearly 90 percent of American oilseed production is soybeans, of which almost 100 percent is genetically engineered (USDA 2013b). The remaining 10 percent of oilseed crops are cottonseed, sunflower seed, canola, rapeseed, and peanut. Canola and cottonseed oil are primarily from transgenic crops. More than 90 percent of corn oil is derived from genetically engineered corn.

For all the empty promises the bioseed corporations have made to try and convince consumers that GMO food is safe, a study from University of Sherbrooke, in Quebec, Canada is perhaps the most telling.

Genetically modified crops include genes extracted from bacteria to make them resistant to pest attacks. The toxin is derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Corporate scientists who engineer these bioseeds claim there is no danger to the environment or to human health maintaining that the Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood clearly demonstrates that this does not happen.

The study covered 30 pregnant women and 39 women who had come for tubectomy at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke (CHUS) in Quebec. The scientists from University of Sherbrooke detected the insecticidal protein, Cry1Ab circulating in the blood of pregnant and non-pregnant women. Alarmingly, they also detected the toxin in fetal blood, implying it could pass on to the next generation.

None of these women had worked or lived with a spouse working in contact with pesticides. The women were all consuming typical Canadian diet that included GM foods such as soybeans, corn and potatoes. Blood samples were taken before delivery for pregnant women and at tubal ligation for non-pregnant women. Umbilical cord blood sampling was done after birth.

Cry1Ab toxin was detected in 93 per cent and 80 per cent of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively and in 69 per cent of tested blood samples from non-pregnant women. Earlier studies had found trace amounts of the Cry1Ab toxin in gastrointestinal contents of livestock fed on GM corn. This gave rise to fears that the toxins may not be effectively eliminated in humans and there may be a high risk of exposure through consumption of contaminated meat.

The research paper has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology.

Ractopamine is banned from food production in at least 160 countries around the world, including countries across Europe, Russia, mainland China and Republic of China (Taiwan), due to its suspected health effects. Yet, the majority of North Americans are unaware that the drug is used in meat production.

Since 1998, more than 1,700 people have reportedly been "poisoned" from eating pigs fed the drug. If imported meat is found to contain traces of the drug, it is turned away, while fines and imprisonment result for its use in banned countries. Fear that the ractopamine ban might be lifted brought thousands of demonstrators onto the streets in Taiwan last year, demanding that the ban remain in place.

Ractopamine is a beta agonist drug that increases protein synthesis, thereby making the animal more muscular. This reduces the fat content of the meat and increases the profit per animal. The drug, which is also used in asthma medication, was initially recruited for use in livestock when researchers discovered that it made mice more muscular. Other adverse reactions to beta-agonist drugs include increased heart rate, insomnia, headaches, and tremors.

Beta-agonist drugs, as a class, have been used in US cattle production since 2003. The drug is administered in the days leading up to slaughter, and as much as 20 percent of it can remain in the meat you buy. While other drugs require a clearance period of around two weeks to help ensure the compounds are flushed from the meat prior to slaughter (and therefore reduce residues leftover for human consumption), there is no clearance period for ractopamine.

Six different additives are used in medicated feed for cattle in Canada.

Three of those — lasalocid sodium, salinomycin sodium and monensin sodium — are antimicrobial drugs that fall into the category of drugs that have no therapeutic use for humans, says the Beef Cattle Research Council.

Chlortetracycline hydrochloride is antimicrobial closely related to tetracyclines, which are antibiotics used in human medicine, but for which there are alternatives according to the Research Council.

Melengestrol acetate is a steroidal growth promoter and ractopamine hydrochloride is a non-antimicrobial drug given to promote lean weight gain.

According to Health Canada, natural hormones progesterone, testosterone and estradiol and synthetic
hormones zeranol and trenbolone are all approved for use as growth promoters in beef cattle. Growth hormones generally promote muscle growth and improve feed conversion, the amount of weight an animal gains per unit of feed consumed.

Medical Associations on both sides of the Canadian/US border are against antimicrobial feed additives and have repeatedly called for a ban on antibiotic use without a prescription.

Why You Should Stick with Meat from your Local Farmer!
Spoiler Alter: After reading this you may never look at your meat aisle in the same way again. This stuff is nasty reading but goes a long way to explain why factory farming of animals may be linked to a looming public health crisis.

Animals raised for meat eat more than 30 million pounds of antibiotics a year. Most supermarket meat today comes from operations that routinely feed animals low doses of antibiotics. This constant contact with drugs helps bacteria learn how to outsmart the meds, creating dangerous strains of hard-to-kill superbugs.

About 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the U.S. go to nonorganic farm animals to help speed livestock growth and counteract filthy, stressful housing situations that debilitate the animals' immune systems.

MRSA kills more people than AIDS, and it's in your meat. Forcing animals to eat drugs is creating a silent crisis. A 2011 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases took the gross-out factor to a whole new level. Researchers found that half of the U.S. supermarket meat sampled contained staph infection bacteria, including the hard-to-kill and potentially lethal MRSA. Turkey products were most likely to harbor staph bacteria, followed by pork and chicken products.

Prozac may have been part of your chicken's diet. Earlier in 2012, Johns Hopkins University study studied the feathers of imported chickens to figure out what the birds ingested before slaughter. They found traces of antidepressants, painkillers, banned antibiotics, and allergy medication. According to scientists, Prozac is sometimes used to offset anxiety common in factory farm conditions. (Stress can slow birds' growth, hurting profits.) Scientists also uncovered caffeine in about 50 percent of samples taken. Why? Caffeine keeps chickens awake so they can grow faster.

You could be eating animal worming medication. The U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered traces of harmful veterinary drugs and heavy metals in U.S. beef, including:

1. Ivermectin, an animal wormer that can cause neurological damage in humans.
2. Flunixin, a veterinary drug that can cause kidney damage, stomach, and colon ulcers, as well as blood in the stool of humans.
3. Penicillin, a drug that can cause life-threatening reactions in people who are allergic to it.
4. Arsenic, a known carcinogen that is allowed in some nonorganic animal feeding operations. (It is commonly fed to chickens, and chicken litter, or feces, is sometimes fed to feedlot cattle—and the majority of supermarket and fast-food beef in this country comes from feedlot operations.)
5. Copper, an essential element we need for our survival but that's harmful when too much accumulates in our bodies.

Certain beef is more likely to harbor deadly E. coli germs. It's natural for cows to eat grass, but not grains. Still, most cows today are raised in feedlots, where they chomp down lots of grain to speed growth. This changes the natural chemistry in a cow's gut, making it easier for potentially deadly E. coli O157:H7 strain to survive.

Supermarket chicken could be fueling urinary tract infections. Investigating disease-causing bacteria on grocery store meat and comparing it to urine samples of women diagnosed with UTIs, researchers found that in 71 percent of cases, the E. coli bacteria collected from women with UTIs matched the strain detected on supermarket chicken. "People are eating a lot more chicken because it's often perceived as healthier," says Amy Manges, PhD, associate professor in the department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health at McGill University in Montreal. "But what people don't realize is that chicken is pretty heavily contaminated with bacteria in general, and those bacteria tend to be drug resistant."

All the antibiotics that are pumped into cattle, and other modern-day farming practices, lead to tough, chewy steaks, says Sarah Klein, a senior attorney in the food-safety program at Center for Science in the Public Interest. So, increasingly, slaughterhouses have adopted the process of mechanically tenderizing steaks and other high-quality cuts of beef. Doing so involves driving blades and needles into steak—which in turn, drive any bacteria living on the surface of a steak deep into the flesh. When you get an undercooked steak, for instance, if you like to order yours rare or medium, all that bacteria inside the meat is still alive, whereas before, it would have been seared off when the outside was cooked, she says. More than half of the 82 outbreaks linked to steak in the past ten years can be linked to E. coli, a bacterium that's usually only found on the exterior of whole cuts of meat. Plants aren't required to label mechanically tenderized meat, so you don't know which cuts to handle with care and which are ok to order a little pink.

Antibiotics are used on conventional farms to make animals grow faster. And emerging research suggests antibiotics could be making us fatter, too, disrupting the natural balance of beneficial gut bacteria. "For many years now, farmers have known that antibiotics are great at producing heavier cows for market," explains Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, professor of population health and medicine at NYU School of Medicine. "While we need more research to confirm our findings, this carefully conducted study suggests that antibiotics influence weight gain in humans, especially children, too."