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Next time you chow down on that juicy burger grilled on your trusty barby or when ordering your fave from a local drive-thru, better make sure that burger is well-done -- really well done.

For decades, Health Canada advised consumers to cook ground beef to 71 °C (159.8 °F) -- supposedly the tipping point for harmful bacteria, like E coli, to be thermally destroyed making the ground beef safe to eat. But food scientists at the University of Alberta recently discovered the recommended temperature may not be high enough.

For years, scientific papers about micro-organisms in meat have repeatedly stated, that sometimes not all the micro-organisms are destroyed during the cooking process. There can be survivors. That’s significant because while not all E. coli are harmful, nasty strains such as E. coli O157 can be lethal to humans.

“We’ve been hammering consumers for years to cook chicken properly, to handle it properly, and to do the same with ground beef. But still we seem to have these outbreaks of E. coli [attributed to hamburgers],” Lynn McMullen, a food microbiologist in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science stated.

So back in 2008, her department decided to create a long term food study to find out what was going on. Long term studies are seldom carried out in the food industry because they tend to be very costly. In fact, it’s one of the reasons kingpins in industrial agriculture avoid independent long-term studies. Behemoths like Monsanto, Dow and the other GMO seed giants, whose profits are in the billions annually, claim these studies are too costly to carry out. To get around any sticky transparency issues, they and our regulators, hide behind a food safety policy that was created in the early 90s at the beginning of the GMO onslaught. The policy maintains that the safety of a new food, particularly one that has been genetically modified (GMO), can be assessed by comparing it to a similar traditional food that has proven safe in normal use over time. Substantial equivalence is the underlying principle in GMO food safety assessment for a number of national and international agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

However, the Food and Nutritional Science program at University of Alberta (UA) were blessed. The University houses cattle in support of other programs, so the Department had access to a diverse feed-cattle population.

What the researchers discovered was a shocker. The E. coli bacterium tested were displaying inconsistent behaviour. One organism survived a full 70 minutes at 60 degrees Celsius. That temperature should have snuffed out the questionable bacteria in seconds. It didn't.

Not quite believing what they were seeing, the team, headed by Professors Lynn McMullen and Michael Gänzle, repeated the experiments twice. Both test scenarios produced identical results. Then they compared their results of survival values to other labs and discovered that other cultures behaved differently too.

So what's the big deal? Escherichia coli, (E coli) is a bacterium found in the gut of both humans and some feed animals, like cattle. Bovines share 80 percent of their genes with humans so the bacteria found in beef can cross the animal/human gene barrier potentially causing some serious damage to the human body. The concern is very real. While some E coli strains are harmless, others can cause kidney failure and death.

The results, according to McMullen, demonstrate that the standard temperature may not be sufficient to eliminate all the strains of E. coli and that may explain the persistence of outbreaks related to ground beef. In other words, cooking ground beef to 71 °C does not always eliminate all strains of E coli.

“These organisms aren’t supposed to survive, but every once in a while they do,” said McMullen. “So we decided to find out why. We looked at the genomes to see what was different.”

Working with post-doctoral fellow Ryan Mercer, they discovered a suite of 16 genes found only in the highly heat-resistant strains of E. coli under wet conditions (such as in fresh meat). This genomic grouping is called the locus of heat resistance, or LHR. Hunting through the genome databases for LHR, they discovered it exists in about two per cent of all E. coli in the databases in both the harmless and pathogenic strains.

The team is working with Health Canada with support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, to determine how often pathogenic E. coli will survive in cooked meat. Meanwhile, if you are a beef eater, make sure it's well done.

A new study suggests Canada’s freshwater birds, just like their ocean-dwelling counterparts, are at risk from our plastic-saturated lifestyles. Scientists are finding bottle caps, coffee cup lids, packing tape wire, foil, Styrofoam pellets in the stomachs of freshwater birds across the country.

While much research has looked at plastic pollution in ocean birds, little is known about Canada’s inland waterfowl.“I’m surprised and not surprised," said Doug Tozer, an Ontario program scientist at Bird Studies Canada. "You don’t really have to even read the literature, just go down to the beach and this plastic stuff is everywhere.”

From the Source:
Environmental Health News
http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2016/aug/plastic-hurting

France is to ban disposable plastic cups and plates in an attempt to curb the obscene amounts of plastic waste that's accumulating in the oceans.The new French law will require all disposable tableware to be made from 50% biologically-sourced materials that can be composted at home by January of 2020. That number will rise to 60% by January of 2025.

One hundred and fifty single-use cups are thrown away every second in the country -- 4.73 billion per year, according to the French Association of Health and Environment, ASEF. Only 1% of them is recycled, largely because they are made of a mixture of polypropylene and polystyrene.

France hopes to become a world leader in environmental and energy solutions, catalyzed by the COP21 Climate Change conference held in Paris last December. In July, the country imposed a total ban on the distribution of lightweight plastic bags at supermarket checkouts, a measure already in place in several countries.

It is of no surprise the industry association representing Europe's leading food-packaging manufacturers, said that the measure violates EU law on the free movement of goods and has asked the EU Commission to block the French law. It's consulting with lawyers about taking legal action against France.

Plastic pollution has devastating environmental implications. Scientists’ projected estimates of the amount of plastic in oceans range from one ton of plastic per two tons of fish by 2050 to more than 50 percent plastic.

Plastic pollution is a problem we can all do something about. Be a conscious consumer. Take reusable shopping bags with you when shopping. If you purchase in bulk, take your own containers. And when you purchase coffee or tea bring your own cup.

Giant Nestle is playing hardball with common heritage resources again. Last week the multinational outbid a small, but growing community in Ontario for a well near Elora. The community needed a safe source of clean drinking water; the corporation needed a "supplemental well for future business growth”.

Nestle already extracts up to 3.6 million litres of water a day from the area’s water shed for its bottling site in nearby Aberfoyle. That’s enough water to fill three olympic-sized swimming pools every production day. They’re charged the ridiculous rate of $3.71 per million litres.

The Ministry of the Environment called the sale of the Middlebrook property a "private transaction,'' and said its only role was to evaluate the proposed water-permit application.

In response, Premier Wynne told reporters it was time to separate bottled water companies from the many other sectors that have water-taking permits, including mining and construction. Nice soundbite, but how deep does this commitment go?

Last September, the Ontario Ministry of Environment renewed Nestlé’s permit for another five years, but set out a mandatory restriction requiring Nestlé to reduce its water takings by 20 per cent during times of moderate drought. Nestlé appealed.

The Council of Canadians and Wellington Water Watchers argued on behalf of the people stating the appeal was inconsistent with the public trust and must be rejected. The public trust doctrine holds that important common resources – such as water and air – are held by government on behalf of the public, and must be managed for the benefit of current and future generations.

But in a stunning move, the Ministry agreed to settle the appeal with Nestlé and the two have jointly asked the tribunal to approve a new agreement which could effectively remove drought-based restrictions at Nestlé’s well in Hillsburgh.

At a time of unprecedented drought and fresh water pollution why is the government of Ontario siding with a water-hungry transnational water corporation, when residents and farmers are being asked to cut back on their water use?

And let's not forget the environmental cost of the massive consumption of bottled water. Plastic bottles used to package water take from 400 to 1,000 years to bio-degrade. If incinerated, they produce toxic fumes. It requires three times the amount of water to produce a plastic bottle than it does to fill it and only one in five bottles get recycled.

A 2016 University of Illinois Plant Clinic herbicide resistance report shows that glyphosate herbicide resistance and PPO Inhibitor herbicide resistance have both reached epic proportions across the Midwest of the United States.

Herbicide-resistant weeds are symptomatic of a bigger problem: an outdated system of farming that relies on planting huge acreages of the same crop year after year. Farming practices such as monoculture, promotes excellent habitats for the accelerated development of weed and pest pesticide resistance. In response to the crisis, Monsanto and its competitors suggest using more of their herbicides to cover the resistant weeds. This approach ignores the underlying biology of agricultural systems and inevitably leads to more resistance. Great for chemical sales; not so great for land stewartship or honeybees.

The study examined 2,000 waterhemp or palmer amaranth weed samples from 10 states across the Midwest. Alarmingly 76.8% of the 593 sites studies 456 showed glyphosate resistance. Over 62% of the weed samples showed resistance to PPO inhibitor herbicides. And almost 50% of weeds on all the field sites showed resistance to both PPO inhibitor herbicides and glyphosate herbicides.

The University of Illinois Plant Clinic report has led Midwest farmers to question the glyphosate resistant (Roundup Ready) GMO crops that have been pushed on them over the last 20 years by biotech giants such as Monsanto. Bill Giles, a farmer from Illinois, who has been growing GM crops since 2009 stated “GM crops are on the edge of failure in the U.S. as farmers are asked to fork out more and more money on herbicides to try to control the superweeds. We simply can’t afford it! It is near the end of the road for these crops and many of my friends in the Midwest are on the edge of turning back to conventional farming methods.”

Related Links:
2016 University of Illinois Plant Clinic Herbicide Resistance Report
http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/?p=3821
The impact on our natural environment has been devastating. The specific herbicides and pesticides manufactured and sold by these large bio-tech companies are creating new generations of superweeds and superbugs that have grown resistance to the petro-chemicals that supposedly protect the biocrops
http://organicprinciple.com/biofood_explained/transgenics
SuperWeeds
http://organicprinciple.com/issues/precautionary_principle/staxed

California is fighting in the courts to be the first state to require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer hazard.

Monsanto said California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France. The corporation's attorney Trenton Norris argued in court that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company stating many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup. But the judge ruled against Monsanto's claim in January 2017.

The chemical is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says it has “low toxicity” and recommends people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after it has been applied. But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a Lyon, France-based branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, classified the chemical as a “probable human carcinogen.”

Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as a way of killing weeds while leaving GMO crops and other plants intact. The glyphosate formula is sold in more than 160 countries and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops.

After the hearing, St. Louis-based Monsanto issued a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling contending that California is delegating its authority to an unelected foreign body with no accountability to U.S. or state officials in violation of the California Constitution.

Recent evidence reveals Monsanto's hand may indeed have been in the EPA's regulatory cookie jar. The revelations are contained in a court filing brought by more than 50 people suing Monsanto claiming the company's glyphosate based herbicide branded Roundup gave them or their loved ones non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) after exposure to the herbicide. The filing includes information about alleged efforts within the Environmental Protection Agency to protect Monsanto’s interests and unfairly aid the agrochemical industry and that Monsanto has spent decades covering up cancer risks linked to the chemical. The EPA’s stamp of approval for the safety of glyphosate over the last few decades has been key to the success of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, glyphosate-tolerant crops.

The filing included alleged correspondence from a 30-year career EPA scientist accusing top-ranking EPA official Jess Rowland of playing “your political conniving games with the science” to favor pesticide manufacturers such as Monsanto. In the correspondence, longtime EPA toxicologist Marion Copley cites evidence from animal studies and writes: “It is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer.” She also accuses Rowland of having “intimidated staff” to change reports to favor industry,

Lawyers for the plaintiffs want the court to lift a seal on documents that detail Monsanto’s interactions with former top EPA brass Jess Rowland regarding the EPA’s safety assessment of glyphosate. Monsanto turned the documents over in discovery but marked them “confidential,” a designation plaintiffs’ attorneys say is improper. They also want to depose Rowland. But Monsanto and the EPA object to the requests, court documents show.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared in March 2015 that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, with a positive association found between glyphosate and NHL. Monsanto has been fighting to refute that classification.

Rowland has been key in Monsanto’s efforts to rebut the IARC finding because until last year he was a deputy division director within the health effects division of the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, managing the work of scientists who assessed human health effects of exposures to pesticides like glyphosate. And, importantly, he chaired the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) that issued an internal report in October 2015 contracting IARC’s findings. That 87-page report, signed by Rowland, determined that glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

The handling of the CARC report raised questions when it was posted to a public EPA website on April 29, 2016 and kept on the site for only three days before being pulled down. The agency said the report was not final and that it should not have been posted, but Monsanto touted the report as a public affirmation of its safety claims for glyphosate. The company also brought a copy of the report to a May court hearing in the Roundup litigation as a counter point to the IARC cancer classification. Shortly after the CARC report was removed from the EPA website, Rowland left his 26-year career at the EPA.

Further Readings
What Killed Jack McCall
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/what-killed-jack-mccall-a_b_9...
Monsanto Fingerprints Found all Over Attack on Organic Food
https://usrtk.org/tag/monsanto/page/2/

California regulators stated that glyphosate will appear on the state’s list of cancerous chemicals beginning July 7, 2017. That means new labels may be appearing as soon as next year in California that include a cancer warning on Roundup and other glyphosate-containing weed killers.

The final say on whether Roundup will get a cancer warning label is still up in the air as Monsanto has filed yet another appeal in an attempt to block the labeling. Monsanto continues to contest the classification, even as it’s become clear that they may have worked with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official to stop glyphosate investigations.

California’s decision to add the chemical to its Prop 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals came in response to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) 2015 determination that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen.

From The Source:
California lists Roundup ingredient as a chemical linked to cancer; Monsanto vows to fight
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-roundup-cancer-20170626-story.html
EPA Official Accused of Helping Monsanto ‘Kill’ Cancer Study
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-14/monsanto-accused-of-ghost-writing-papers-on-roundup-cancer-risk

Brazil is the largest consumer of agrochemicals in the world. Agrochemical sales increased from USD 2 billion in 2001 to 8.5 billion in 2011. A report from Brazil’s National Cancer Institute José Alencar Gomes da Silva (INCA), part of the country’s Ministry of Health, says that national consumption of agrochemicals is equivalent to 5.2 litres of agrochemicals per year for each inhabitant.

According to the report, “The cropping pattern with the intensive use of pesticides generates major harms, including environmental pollution and poisoning of workers and the population in general. Acute pesticide poisoning is the best known effect and affects especially those exposed in the workplace (occupational exposure). This is characterized by effects such as irritation of the skin and eyes, itching, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, breathing difficulties, seizures and death.

“Already chronic poisoning may affect the whole population, as this is due to multiple exposures to pesticides, that is, the presence of pesticide residues in food and the environment, usually at low doses. Adverse effects of chronic exposure to pesticides may appear long after the exposure, and so are difficult to correlate with the agent. Among the effects that can be associated with chronic exposure to pesticide active ingredients are infertility, impotence, abortions, malformations, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, effects on the immune system, and cancer.”

Regarding sources of exposure, the report says, “It is noteworthy that pesticide residues not only occur in fresh food, but also in many processed food products, such as cookies, chips, breads, breakfast cereals, lasagna, pizza and other ingredients that contain wheat, corn and soybeans, for example. Pesticide traces may still may be present in meat and milk of animals fed with these crops, due to the process of bioaccumulation.

“Therefore, the concern over pesticides must not mean a reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are key foods in healthy eating and of great importance in preventing cancer. The main focus must be on combating the use of pesticides, which contaminate all vital resources, including food, soil, water, breastmilk and air. In addition, methods of cultivation free from pesticide use can produce fruits, vegetables and legumes such as beans, with the greatest anticancer potential.”

The report calls for stronger regulation of pesticides and for the development of agroecological alternatives to the dominant pesticide-dependent GMO agricultural model.

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