Aletho News


Social science provides a lot of useful insight as to why logic and data are rarely convincing

By Matt Manos | Watts Up With That? | May 23, 2015

… In their latest speeches on global warming, Obama and the Pope weren’t trying to convince skeptics that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) is real. Instead, they were sending signals to their supporters on what “all right thinking people” should be saying. This is classic in-group/out-group communication. Obama and the Pope were setting up the talking points for their in-group members to use to determine who can be considered part of the tribe and who should be rejected for being outside of it. This is a process called Othering. Othering turns political foes into non-beings. Others have no value. Others can be discounted and ignored. Others can be mocked.

Obama and the Pope are examples of bellwethers; the sheep with the bell that the other sheep follow. Bellwether is not a derogatory term, it’s a descriptive term. The job of a political bellwether is to indicate the position that their followers should take in their everyday conversations. Obama and the Pope’s latest speeches function as position papers for the delegates of all right thinking people. You meet these people at work, church, school, at the coffee house, etc. The delegates will mirror the words that the President or the Pope used to identify other in-group members, normalize beliefs and mock out-group members. One of the main themes of both speeches was shame. Shame on those who aren’t right thinking people. Shame that they aren’t as intelligent and capable as “us.”

That type of smugness is almost impossible to penetrate. When a skeptic questions a warmist’s view on global warming/climate change, the warmist hears something vastly different than what the skeptic is saying. A skeptic might say, “The models don’t match the actual measured results.” What the warmist hears is how stupid deniers are because that’s what John Stewart told him he should think. If the warmist doesn’t prove that he thinks skeptics are stupid then he might be confused for a denier! And no one wants to be identified with being a denier because they’re mocked, don’t get tenure and don’t get invited to the right parties. No amount of science can penetrate the ROI the warmist has internalized in believing in CAGW.

Many of the warmists are running on pure rational ignorance. Rational ignorance is a belief that the cost/benefit to researching every issue is so low as to be a net negative in time utilization. Thus the ignorance is rational and everyone utilizes this mental process on certain topics. People who are rationally ignorant about global warming look to bellwethers that support their gut stance. Rationally ignorant warmists would look to world leaders, mockutainers and warmist scientists for guidance on how to communicate their position on global warming.

Penetrating rational ignorance is tough because the position warmists have taken isn’t based on logic. Their position is actually based on an appeal to authority. To question the rationally ignorant warmist is to question the field of science as a whole (to be a science denier) or to question the leadership of their favorite bellwether personalities. This will cause the rationally ignorant warmist to become defensive and try to stand up for their favorite bellwether. The rationally ignorant will also point to their favorite bellwethers and say, “Who am I to doubt all these intelligent people?” It’s intellectually offshoring. It’s lazy. It’s human nature.

The scientific method rejects outright in-group/out groups, Othering, bellwethers and rational ignorance. A scientist is supposed to follow the results of an experiment even if the results don’t support his hypothesis. The scientist is clearly not supposed to rig the data to ensure he gets invited to a party with the right people or continued funding. But science has a poor track record on controversial topics. It often takes decades to accept new theories that are clear winners (e.g., continental drift).

Scientists are still social animals. Social animals follow hierarchy and incentives. If you really want to win the debate on global warming, change the opinions of the bellwethers. Change the economic incentives for the global warming scientific paper mill. Otherwise you’re stuck debating only the people who are unable to change their minds because it would cost them personally to do so. Rare is the person intellectually honest enough to bite the hand that feeds or is willing to violate social norms to speak the truth.

May 24, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

EU drops controls on dangerous chemicals after TTIP pressure from US – report

RT | May 22, 2015

EU proposals to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer, fertility problems and diabetes were allegedly dropped following pressure from US trade officials amid talks on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Draft EU criteria could have banned some 31 pesticides containing dangerous endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), but according to documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe and cited by The Guardian, they were cast aside amid fears of a trade backlash by a powerful US lobby.

According to the report, a high-ranking delegation from the US Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited European Union trade officials in July 2013 in a bid to urge the EU to drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a new impact study. The TTIP trade deal was at stake, and the EU allegedly agreed to the US demands.

TTIP is a highly controversial proposed EU-US free trade treaty that has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability.

AmCham representatives allegedly “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances. The US trade representatives reportedly suggested taking a risk-based approach to regulation, and “emphasized the need for an impact assessment” instead.

The secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, allegedly sent a letter to the environment department’s director, Karl Falkenberg, telling him to drop the draft criteria, suggesting that “as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals” instead.

“We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances,” she allegedly wrote.

The result, according to The Guardian, was that legislation planned for 2014 was “kicked back until at least 2016, despite estimated health costs of €150bn per year in Europe from endocrine-related illnesses such as IQ loss, obesity and cryptorchidism – a condition affecting the genitals of baby boys.”

On top of this, ahead of the meeting, AmCham had allegedly warned the EU of “wide-reaching implications” if the draft criteria came to be approved. According to The Guardian, AmCham wanted an EU impact study to set looser thresholds for acceptable exposure to endocrines, based on a substance’s potency.

Bas Eickhout, a Green member of the European Parliament, told The Guardian : “These documents offer convincing evidence that TTIP not only presents a danger for the future lowering of European standards, but that this is happening as we speak.”

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of the UK House of Commons is currently carrying out an inquiry into the proposed TTIP and its impacts on the environment and the developing world.

“We are very concerned that the US government has a long history of lobbying against EU action on chemicals, and that TTIP could provide a method for them to institutionalise this,” EAC wrote in January, adding that the US approach to chemicals regulation is generally acknowledged to be “outdated and ineffective.”

“Our strong belief that the inclusion of chemicals within TTIP will lower protection in the EU, and will further slowdown efforts to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals,” the committee warned.

Earlier this year, CHEM Trust (a UK charity whose aim is to prevent manmade chemicals from causing long-term damage to wildlife or humans) and around 150 other civil society groups signed up to a joint statement against regulatory cooperation in TTIP.

“Civil society groups denounce ‘regulatory cooperation’ in the TTIP negotiations as a threat to democracy and an attempt to put the interests of big business before the protection of citizens, workers and the environment,” the statement said.

According to the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 report, many endocrine-related diseases and disorders are currently on the rise. Global rates of endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid) have been increasing over the past 40-50 years, researchers say.

“Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion. However, only a small fraction of these chemicals have been investigated in tests capable of identifying overt endocrine effects in intact organisms,” the report stated.

Scientists warn that while numerous laboratory studies support the idea that chemical exposures contribute to endocrine disorders in humans, the “most sensitive window of exposure to EDCs is during critical periods of development, such as during fetal development and puberty.”

Read more: US lawmakers agree to fast-track secretive international trade deals

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monsanto’s Worst Fear May Be Coming True

By Jonathan Latham, PhD | Independent Science News | May 18, 2015

The decision of the Chipotle restaurant chain to make its product lines GMO-free is not most people’s idea of a world-historic event. Especially since Chipotle, by US standards, is not a huge operation. A clear sign that the move is significant, however, is that Chipotle’s decision was met with a tidal-wave of establishment media abuse. Chipotle has been called irresponsible, anti-science, irrational, and much more by the Washington Post, Time Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, and many others. A business deciding to give consumers what they want was surely never so contentious.

The media lynching of Chipotle has an explanation that is important to the future of GMOs. The cause of it is that there has long been an incipient crack in the solid public front that the food industry has presented on the GMO issue. The crack originates from the fact that while agribusiness sees GMOs as central to their business future, the brand-oriented and customer-sensitive ends of the food supply chain do not.

The brands who sell to the public, such as Nestle, Coca-Cola, Kraft, etc., are therefore much less committed to GMOs. They have gone along with their use, probably because they wish to maintain good relations with agribusiness, who are their allies and their suppliers. Possibly also they see a potential for novel products in a GMO future.

However, over the last five years, as the reputation of GMOs has come under increasing pressure in the US, the cost to food brands of ignoring the growing consumer demand for GMO-free products has increased. They might not say so in public, but the sellers of top brands have little incentive to take the flack for selling GMOs.

From this perspective, the significance of the Chipotle move becomes clear. If Chipotle can gain market share and prestige, or charge higher prices, from selling non-GMO products and give (especially young) consumers what they want, it puts traditional vendors of fast and processed food products in an invidious position. Kraft and MacDonalds, and their traditional rivals can hardly be left on the sidelines selling outmoded products to a shrinking market. They will not last long.

MacDonald’s already appears to be in trouble, and it too sees the solution as moving to more up-market and healthier products. For these much bigger players, a race to match Chipotle and get GMOs out of their product lines, is a strong possibility. That may not be so easy, in the short term, but for agribusiness titans who have backed GMOs, like Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer and Syngenta; a race to be GMO-free is the ultimate nightmare scenario.

Until Chipotle’s announcement, such considerations were all behind the scenes. But all of a sudden this split has spilled out into the food media. On May 8th, Hain Celestial told The Food Navigator that:

“We sell organic products… gluten-free products and… natural products. [But] where the big, big demand is, is GMO-free.”

According to the article, unlike Heinz, Kraft, and many others, Hain Celestial is actively seeking to meet this demand. Within the food industry, important decisions, for and against GMOs, are taking place.

Why the pressure to remove GMOs will grow

The other factor in all this turmoil is that the GMO technology wheel has not stopped turning. New GMO products are coming on stream that will likely make crop biotechnology even less popular than it is now. This will further ramp up the pressure on brands and stores to go GMO-free. There are several contributory factors.

The first issue follows from the recent US approvals of GMO crops resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and Dicamba. These traits are billed as replacements for Roundup-resistant traits whose effectiveness has declined due to the spread of weeds resistant to Roundup (Glyphosate).

The causes of the problem, however, lie in the technology itself. The introduction of Roundup-resistant traits in corn and soybeans led to increasing Roundup use by farmers (Benbrook 2012). Increasing Roundup use led to weed resistance, which led to further Roundup use, as farmers increased applications and dosages. This translated into escalated ecological damage and increasing residue levels in food. Roundup is now found in GMO soybeans intended for food use at levels that even Monsanto used to call “extreme” (Bøhn et al. 2014).

The two new herbicide-resistance traits are set to recapitulate this same story of increasing agrochemical use. But they will also amplify it significantly,

The specifics are worth considering. First, the spraying of 2,4-D and Dicamba on the newer herbicide-resistant crops will not eliminate the need for Roundup, whose use will not decline (see Figure).

Predicted herbicide use to 2025 (Mortensen et al 2012)

Predicted herbicide use to 2025 (Mortensen et al 2012)

That is because, unlike Roundup, neither 2,4-D nor Dicamba are broad-spectrum herbicides. They will have to be sprayed together with Roundup, or with each other (or all of them together) to kill all weeds. This vital fact has not been widely appreciated.

Confirmation comes from the companies themselves. Monsanto is stacking (i.e. combining) Dicamba resistance with Roundup resistance in its Xtend crops and Dow is stacking 2,4-D resistance with Roundup resistance in its Enlist range. (Notably, resistance to other herbicides, such as glufosinate, are being stacked in all these GMO crops too.)

The second issue is that the combined spraying of 2,4-D and Dicamba and Roundup, will only temporarily ease the weed resistance issues faced by farmers. In the medium and longer terms, they will compound the problems. That is because new herbicide-resistant weeds will surely evolve. In fact, Dicamba-resistant and 2,4-D-resistant weeds already exist. Their spread, and the evolution of new ones, can be guaranteed (Mortensen et al 2012). This will bring greater profits for herbicide manufacturers, but it will also bring greater PR problems for GMOs and the food industry. GMO soybeans and corn will likely soon have “extreme levels” of at least three different herbicides, all of them with dubious safety records (Schinasi and Leon 2014).

The first time round, Monsanto and Syngenta’s PR snow-jobs successfully obscured this, not just from the general public, but even within agronomy. But it is unlikely they will be able to do so a second time. 2,4-D and Dicamba-resistant GMOs are thus a PR disaster waiting to happen.

A pipeline full of problems: risk and perception

The longer term problem for GMOs is that, despite extravagant claims, their product pipeline is not bulging with promising ideas. Mostly, it is more of the same: herbicide resistance and insect resistance.

The most revolutionary and innovative part of that pipeline is a technology and not a trait. Many products in the GMO pipeline are made using RNA interference technologies that rely on double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs). dsRNA is a technology with two problems. One is that products made with it (such as the “Arctic” Apple, the “Innate” Potato, and Monsanto’s “Vistive Gold” Soybeans) are unproven in the field. Like its vanguard, a Brazilian virus-resistant bean, they may never work under actual farming conditions.

But if they do work, there is a clear problem with their safety which is explained in detail here (pdf).

In outline, the problem is this: the long dsRNA molecules needed for RNA interference were rejected long ago as being too hazardous for routine medical use (Anonymous, 1969). The scientific literature even calls them “toxins”, as in this paper title from 1969:

Absher M., and Stinebring W. (1969) Toxic properties of a synthetic double-stranded RNA. Nature 223: 715-717. (not online)

As further evidence of this, long dsRNAs are now used in medicine to cause autoimmune disorders in mice, in order to study these disorders (Okada et al 2005).

The Absher and Stinebring paper comes from a body of research built up many years ago, but its essential findings have been confirmed and extended by more modern research. We now know why dsRNAs cause harm. They trigger destructive anti-viral defence pathways in mammals and other vertebrates and there is a field of specialist research devoted to showing precisely how this damages individual cells, whole tissues, and results in auto-immune disease in mice (Karpala et al. 2005).

The conclusion therefore, is that dsRNAs that are apparently indistinguishable from those produced in, for example, the Arctic apple and Monsanto’s Vistive Gold Soybean, have strong negative effects on vertebrate animals (but not plants). These vertebrate effects are found even at low doses. Consumers are vertebrate animals. They may not appreciate the thought that their healthy fats and forever apples also contain proven toxins. And on a business front, consumer brands will not relish defending dsRNA technology once they understand the reality. They may not wish to find themselves defending the indefensible.

The bottom line is this. Either dsRNAs will sicken or kill people, or, they will give opponents of biotechnology plenty of ammunition. The scientific evidence, as it currently stands, suggests they will do both. dsRNAs, therefore, are a potentially huge liability.

The last pipeline problem stems from the first two. The agbiotech industry has long held out the prospect of “consumer benefits” from GMOs. Consumer benefits (in the case of food) are most likely to be health benefits (improved nutrition, altered fat composition, etc.). The problem is that the demographic of health-conscious consumers no doubt overlaps significantly with the demographic of those most wary of GMOs. Show a consumer a “healthy GMO” and they are likely to show you an oxymoron. The likely health market in the US for customers willing to pay more for a GMO has probably evaporated in the last few years as GMOs have become a hot public issue.

The end-game for GMOs?

The traditional chemical industry approach to such a problem is a familiar repertoire of intimidation and public relations. Fifty years ago, the chemical industry outwitted and outmanoeuvered environmentalists after the death of Rachel Carson (see the books Toxic Sludge is Good for You and Trust Us We’re Experts). But that was before email, open access scientific publication, and the internet. Monsanto and its allies have steadily lost ground in a world of peer-to-peer communication. GMOs have become a liability, despite their best efforts.

The historic situation is this: in any country, public acceptance of GMOs has always been based on lack of awareness of their existence. Once that ignorance evaporates and the scientific and social realities start to be discussed, ignorance cannot be reinstated. From then on the situation moves into a different, and much more difficult phase for the defenders of GMOs.

Nevertheless, in the US, those defenders have not yet given up. Anyone who keeps up with GMOs in the media knows that the public is being subjected to an unrelenting and concerted global blitzkrieg.

Pro-GMO advocates and paid-for journalists, presumably financed by the life-science industry, sometimes fronted by non-profits such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are being given acres of prominent space to make their case. Liberal media outlets such as the New York Times, the National Geographic, The New Yorker, Grist magazine, the Observer newspaper, and any others who will have them (which is most) have been deployed to spread its memes. Cornell University has meanwhile received a $5.6 million grant by the Gates Foundation to “depolarize” negative GMO publicity.

But so far there is little sign that the growth of anti-GMO sentiment in Monsanto’s home (US) market can be halted. The decision by Chipotle is certainly not an indication of faith that it can.

For Monsanto and GMOs the situation suddenly looks ominous. Chipotle may well represent the beginnings of a market swing of historic proportions. GMOs may be relegated to cattle-feed status, or even oblivion, in the USA. And if GMOs fail in the US, they are likely to fail elsewhere.

GMO roll-outs in other countries have relied on three things: the deep pockets of agribusinesses based in the United States, their political connections, and the notion that GMOs represent “progress”. If those three disappear in the United States, the power to force open foreign markets will disappear too. The GMO era might suddenly be over.

Endnote: The report by Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson on RNA interference and dsRNAs in GMO crops is downloadable from here. Accompanying Tables are here.


Anonymous (1969) Interferon inducers with side effects. Nature 223: 666-667.
Bøhn, T., Cuhra, M., Traavik, T., Sanden, M., Fagan, J. and Primicerio, R. 2014. Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. Food Chemistry 153: 207-215.
Okada C., Akbar S.M.F., Horiike N., and Onji M. (2005) Early development of primary biliary cirrhosis in female C57BL/6 mice because of poly I:C administration. Liver International 25: 595-603.
Karpala A.J., Doran T.J., and Bean A.G.D. (2005) Immune responses to dsRNA: Implications for gene silencing technologies. Immunology and cell biology 83: 211–216.
Mortensen, David A., J. Franklin Egan, Bruce D. Maxwell, Matthew R. Ryan and Richard G. Smith (2012) Navigating a Critical Juncture for Sustainable Weed Management. BioScience 62: 75-84.
Schinasi L and Maria E. Leon ME (2014) Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Occupational Exposure to Agricultural Pesticide Chemical Groups and Active Ingredients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 11: 4449-4527.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 4 Comments

Nearly 200 scientists warn of cellphone health risks

RT | May 13, 2015

Biological and health scientists from Russia and Iran to the USA are calling on the UN, the World Health Organization and national governments to develop strict regulations concerning devices and cellphones that create electromagnetic fields.

The scientists are from 39 nations and have authored 2,000 peer-reviewed papers on the health and biological effects of non-ionizing radiation, which is part of the electromagnetic field spectrum. In a letter, they say that devices like cellphones pose risks of cancer, genetic damage, changes in reproductive system, and learning and memory deficits.

“Putting it bluntly they are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely,” said Dr. Martin Blank, from the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University, in a video message.

“We have created something that is harming us, and it is getting out of control. Before Edison’s light bulb there was very little electromagnetic radiation in our environment. The levels today are very many times higher than natural background levels, and are growing rapidly because of all the new devices that emit this radiation.”

One example that was cited is the cellphone. Blank pointed to a study which showed that as cellphone usage has spread widely, the incidence of fatal brain cancer in younger people has more than tripled.

The scientists see the unregulated use of radio frequency radiation in cellphones and Wi-Fi as developing into a public health crisis. Blank said biologists and scientists are not being heard from committees that set safety standards, that safety limits are much too high and that biological facts are being ignored.

“They are not protective,” he added. “We are really all part of large biological experiment without our informed consent. To protect ourselves, our children, and our ecosystem, we must reduce exposure by establishing more protective guidelines.”

Scientists are appealing to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to “convene and fund an independent multidisciplinary committee to explore the pros and cons of alternative to current practices that could substantially lower human exposure to RF and ELF fields.”

They request that the deliberations be “transparent and impartial,” and involve industry players in the field. However, scientists believe industry “should not be allowed to bias the process or conclusions.” Once completed, the analysis would offer the UN and WHO a guide for precautionary action.

Questions have surfaced about the safety of EMF among the scientific community and with the public, but it is largely absent from national debate despite the ubiquitous use of devices, particularly in the United States.

“…In the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place…to suggest it might be a problem – maybe, eventually, a very public-health problem – is like saying our shoes might be killing us,” wrote journalist Christopher Ketchum in a 2010 GQ article called “Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”

Ketchum said a 2008 study sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France reported that after a decade of cellphone use, the chances of getting a brain tumor – specifically on the side of the head where you use the phone – go up as much as 40 percent for adults.

Read more: ​Berkeley to vote on ‘right to know’ law on cellphone radiation risks

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Psychiatric drugs kill 500k+ Western adults annually, few positive benefits – leading scientist

RT | May 13, 2015

Psychiatric drugs lead to the deaths of over 500,000 people aged 65 and over annually in the West, a Danish scientist says. He warns the benefits of these drugs are “minimal,” and have been vastly overstated.

Research director at Denmark’s Nordic Cochrane Centre, Professor Peter Gøtzsche, says the use of most antidepressants and dementia drugs could be halted without inflicting harm on patients. The Danish scientist’s views were published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.

His scathing analysis will likely prove controversial among traditional medics. However, concern is mounting among doctors and scientists worldwide that psychiatric medication is doing more harm than good. In particular, they say antipsychotic drugs have been overprescribed to many dementia patients in a bid to calm agitated behavior.

Gøtzsche warns psychiatric drugs kill patients year in year out, and hold few positive benefits. He says in excess of half a million citizens across the Western world aged 65 and over die annually as a result of taking these drugs.

“Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal,” he writes.

“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm.”

Gøtzsche, who is also a clinical trials expert, says drug trials funded by big pharmaceutical companies tend to produce biased results because many patients took other medication prior to the tests.

He says patients cease taking the old drugs and then experience a phase of withdrawal prior to taking the trial pharmaceuticals, which appear highly beneficial at first.

The Danish professor also warns fatalities from suicides in clinical trials are significantly under-reported.

In the case of antidepressants venlafaxine and fluoxetine, Gøtzsche casts doubt over their efficacy. He said depression lifts in placebo groups given fake tablets almost as promptly as groups who partake in official clinical tests.

He also stressed the results of trials of drugs used to treat schizophrenia are disconcerting, while those for ADHD are ambiguous.

Commenting on the negative side effects of such pharmaceutical drugs, Gøtzsche argued the “short-term relief” appears to be replaced by “long term harm.”

“Animal studies strongly suggest that these drugs can produce brain damage, which is probably the case for all psychotropic drugs,” he said.

“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm – by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs and dementia drugs … and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use.”

“This would lead to healthier and more long-lived populations.”

Gøtzsche says psychotropic drugs are “immensely harmful” if used for prolonged periods.

“They should almost exclusively be used in acute situations and always with a firm plan for tapering off, which can be difficult for many patients,” he adds.

Gøtzsche’s views are sharply contradicted by many experts in the field of mental health. But others, including a diverse group of medical experts and institutions affiliated with the Nordic Cochrane Centre, argue otherwise. The Nordic Cochrane Centre is an independent research hub dedicated to scrutinizing and monitoring the effects of health care.

The debate on psychiatric drugs has gathered momentum in recent times. In the discussion, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Gøtzsche’s arguments are contradicted by Professor of Mood Disorders Allan Young and John Crace. Crace, himself a psychiatric patient, writes for the Guardian.

Crace and Young say a broad body of research indicates the drugs are effective and that they are just as helpful as drugs for other ailments. They also argue mental health conditions are the fifth most significant contributor to disabilities worldwide.

While Gøtzsche stresses clinical trials bankrolled by pharma giants churn out skewered results, Young and Crace say the efficacy and safety of psychiatric medication continues to be monitored after research trials come to a close.

However, both Young and Crace acknowledge concern over the side effects and effectiveness of psychiatric medication.

“For some critics, the onus often seems to be on the drug needing to prove innocence from causing harm rather than a balanced approach to evaluating the available evidence,” they write.

“Whether concerns are genuine or an expression of prejudice is not clear, but over time many concerns have been found to be overinflated.”

The BMJ discussion is a preamble to the Maudsley debate at Kings College London on Wednesday. The debate takes place three times a year at the university’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN).

Wednesday’s debate focuses on the impacts of psychiatric medications, and poses the question of whether they prove more destructive for patients than beneficial.

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 2 Comments

Shambles… Energy Professor Declares Germany Energiewende “A Failure”

By Pierre L. Gosselin | NoTricksZone | May 5, 2015

Volkmar Pott's photo.

The editor-in-chief of the Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger und Zeitung (IKZ) daily Thomas Reunert dedicated an entire page on the topic of wind energy last Sunday, bearing the headline: “The Norwegians Are Giving Us The Finger!

It is an interview with a former professor from the University of Bielefeld, Dr. Kurt Gehlert, 75, an expert in mining. It focuses on the state of Germany’s Energiewende (transition to green energies), particularly wind power and the illusions of energy storage technology.

The sub-heading reads

Dr. Kurt Gehlert is certain that the Energiewende has already failed. Or we will drown and cover ourselves in wind turbines.”

Germans pushing the Energiewende are aiming to see 80% of Germany’s energy needs being met by green energies by 2050. Some are even calling for doing away with natural gas, in addition to coal and oil.

But the monster-sized insurmountable obstacles loom as German policymakers begin to scramble in a confused state of denial.

Germany’s alternative baseload-capable sources, such as hydro and biogas, are severely limited and account for only 11.5% of Germany’s total energy supply today. Moreover there still does not exist a viable technology for storing the irregular supply of wind and solar power. Gehlert says these technologies are nowhere near being capable of taking on the role of providing a reliable baseload.

The 75-year old professor points out that although there is a huge capacity of wind and solar energy already in place, often both are not available because they are weather-dependent. Gehlert tells the IKZ that the media like to give the public the impression that the technology is not far away, but the reality is that it is nowhere near in sight.

Energy storage concepts such as accumulators, power-to-gas, compressed air storage are plagued by low efficiencies and sky-high costs. He reminds readers that using electric car batteries as a storage media is also a pie-in-the-sky-vision. Gehlert tells IKZ :

It sounds like a good idea and so let us illustrate it using a rough calculation. In 2020 it is planned to have 1 million electric cars on the roads in Germany. If we tap into them and remove 50% of the average 25 kwh charge capacity, then we will extract enough power from them (12.5 x 1000000 =12.5 gigawatt-hours) to cover Germany’s needs each day for 25 minutes and 17 seconds; Germany’s total daily consumption is 712 gigawatt-hours. And then all the electric car owners will have only 50% of the range available for their next trip.”

 Gehlert also tells the IKZ that pump-storage is also not a solution for Germany, calculating:

In Germany about 125 times more storage lakes than what exists today would need to be constructed by 2050. This area and topography simply does not exist at all.”

On the idea of using Norway’s, Switzerland’s or Austria’s mountainous regions to build the necessary pump-storage capacity, Gehlert tells the IKZ :

The Swiss are reacting allergically, and the Norwegians are giving us the finger.”

Go ruin your own landscape, and leave ours alone.

And even if it was possible to use pump-storage in foreign countries, Gehlert tells the IKZ that in order to bring the power from the above-mentioned mountainous countries to the big consumption centers in Germany’s industrial heartland, it would require the construction of about 70 high voltage power lines ranging from 300 to 1200 km in length!

Gehlert also scoffs at the idea of using wind-power-to-gas as a method for storing energy, which would be used to fire gas turbines to produce electricity in times of low-winds. And expanding the calculation to 50% constant electrical power from wind energy would require about 470,000 German wind turbines (Currently there are about 25,000). Gehlert elaborates:

The figure is difficult to fathom. Germany has an area of approximately 360,000 square kilometers. That means each of the 470,000 wind turbines would have 0.76 sq km.. The city of Iserlohn alone has an area of 125.5 square kilometers and so would have 165 wind turbines.”

The IKZ asks Gehlert to summarize:

The Energiewende under the given conditions in Germany is a failure […]. The policymakers state in a worried manner: Our predecessors have left behind a disillusioned population.”

May 11, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Harvard Trained Immunologist Demolishes California Legislation That Terminates Vaccine Exemptions

State of the Nation | April 23, 2015

SOTN Editor’s Note:

The following open letter by a PhD Immunologist completely demolishes the current California legislative initiative to remove all vaccine exemptions. That such a draconian and cynical state statute is under consideration in the ‘Golden State’ is as shocking as it is predictable.  After all, it was mysteriously written and submitted shortly after the manufactured-in-Disneyland measles ‘outbreak’.

The indisputable science that is employed by Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD ought to be read by every CA legislator who is entertaining an affirmative vote for SB277.  Dr. Obukhanych skillfully deconstructs the many false and fabricated arguments that are advanced by Big Pharma and the U.S Federal Government as they attempt to implement a nationwide Super-Vaccination agenda.

When the California Senate refuses to consider authoritative scientific evidence which categorically proves the dangerous vaccine side effects on the schoolchildren, something is very wrong. Such conduct by the Senate constitutes criminal action that endangers the lives and welfare of children. Their official behavior must be acknowledged for what it is — CRIMINAL — and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

An Open Letter to Legislators Currently Considering Vaccine Legislation from Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD in Immunology


Dear Legislator:

My name is Tetyana Obukhanych. I hold a PhD in Immunology.  I am writing this letter in the hope that it will correct several common misperceptions about vaccines in order to help you formulate a fair and balanced understanding that is supported by accepted vaccine theory and new scientific findings.

Do unvaccinated children pose a higher threat to the public than the vaccinated?

It is often stated that those who choose not to vaccinate their children for reasons of conscience endanger the rest of the public, and this is the rationale behind most of the legislation to end vaccine exemptions currently being considered by federal and state legislators country-wide. You should be aware that the nature of protection afforded by many modern vaccines – and that includes most of the vaccines recommended by the CDC for children – is not consistent with such a statement. I have outlined below the recommended vaccines that cannot prevent transmission of disease either because they are not designed to prevent the transmission of infection (rather, they are intended to prevent disease symptoms), or because they are for non-communicable diseases. People who have not received the vaccines mentioned below pose no higher threat to the general public than those who have, implying that discrimination against non-immunized children in a public school setting may not be warranted.

  1. IPV (inactivated poliovirus vaccine) cannot prevent transmission of poliovirus (see appendix for the scientific study, Item #1). Wild poliovirus has been non-existent in the USA for at least two decades. Even if wild poliovirus were to be re-imported by travel, vaccinating for polio with IPV cannot affect the safety of public spaces.  Please note that wild poliovirus eradication is attributed to the use of a different vaccine, OPV or oral poliovirus vaccine. Despite being capable of preventing wild poliovirus transmission, use of OPV was phased out long ago in the USA and replaced with IPV due to safety concerns.
  1. Tetanus is not a contagious disease, but rather acquired from deep-puncture wounds contaminated with C. tetani spores. Vaccinating for tetanus (via the DTaP combination vaccine) cannot alter the safety of public spaces; it is intended to render personal protection only.
  1. While intended to prevent the disease-causing effects of the diphtheria toxin, the diphtheria toxoid vaccine (also contained in the DTaP vaccine) is not designed to prevent colonization and transmission of C. diphtheriae. Vaccinating for diphtheria cannot alter the safety of public spaces; it is likewise intended for personal protection only.
  1. The acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine (the final element of the DTaP combined vaccine), now in use in the USA, replaced the whole cell pertussis vaccine in the late 1990s, which was followed by an unprecedented resurgence of whooping cough. An experiment with deliberate pertussis infection in primates revealed that the aP vaccine is not capable of preventing colonization and transmission of B. pertussis (see appendix for the scientific study, Item #2). The FDA has issued a warning regarding this crucial finding.[1]
  • Furthermore, the 2013 meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors at the CDC revealed additional alarming data that pertussis variants (PRN-negative strains) currently circulating in the USA acquired a selective advantage to infect those who are up-to-date for their DTaP boosters (see appendix for the CDC document, Item #3), meaning that people who are up-to-date are more likely to be infected, and thus contagious, than people who are not vaccinated.
  1. Among numerous types of H. influenzae, the Hib vaccine covers only type b. Despite its sole intention to reduce symptomatic and asymptomatic (disease-less) Hib carriage, the introduction of the Hib vaccine has inadvertently shifted strain dominance towards other types of H. influenzae (types a through f).These types have been causing invasive disease of high severity and increasing incidence in adults in the era of Hib vaccination of children (see appendix for the scientific study, Item #4).  The general population is more vulnerable to the invasive disease now than it was prior to the start of the Hib vaccination campaign.  Discriminating against children who are not vaccinated for Hib does not make any scientific sense in the era of non-type b H. influenzae disease.
  1. Hepatitis B is a blood-borne virus. It does not spread in a community setting, especially among children who are unlikely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as needle sharing or sex. Vaccinating children for hepatitis B cannot significantly alter the safety of public spaces. Further, school admission is not prohibited for children who are chronic hepatitis B carriers. To prohibit school admission for those who are simply unvaccinated – and do not even carry hepatitis B – would constitute unreasonable and illogical discrimination.

In summary, a person who is not vaccinated with IPV, DTaP, HepB, and Hib vaccines due to reasons of conscience poses no extra danger to the public than a person who is.  No discrimination is warranted.

How often do serious vaccine adverse events happen?

It is often stated that vaccination rarely leads to serious adverse events. Unfortunately, this statement is not supported by science. A recent study done in Ontario, Canada, established that vaccination actually leads to an emergency room visit for 1 in 168 children following their 12-month vaccination appointment and for 1 in 730 children following their 18-month vaccination appointment (see appendix for a scientific study, Item #5).

When the risk of an adverse event requiring an ER visit after well-baby vaccinations is demonstrably so high, vaccination must remain a choice for parents, who may understandably be unwilling to assume this immediate risk in order to protect their children from diseases that are generally considered mild or that their children may never be exposed to.

Can discrimination against families who oppose vaccines for reasons of conscience prevent future disease outbreaks of communicable viral diseases, such as measles?

Measles research scientists have for a long time been aware of the “measles paradox.” I quote from the article by Poland & Jacobson (1994) “Failure to Reach the Goal of Measles Elimination: Apparent Paradox of Measles Infections in Immunized Persons.” Arch Intern Med 154:1815-1820:

“The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons.”[2]

Further research determined that behind the “measles paradox” is a fraction of the population called LOW VACCINE RESPONDERS. Low-responders are those who respond poorly to the first dose of the measles vaccine. These individuals then mount a weak immune response to subsequent RE-vaccination and quickly return to the pool of “susceptibles’’ within 2-5 years, despite being fully vaccinated.[3]

Re-vaccination cannot correct low-responsiveness: it appears to be an immuno-genetic trait.[4]  The proportion of low-responders among children was estimated to be 4.7% in the USA.[5]

Studies of measles outbreaks in Quebec, Canada, and China attest that outbreaks of measles still happen, even when vaccination compliance is in the highest bracket (95-97% or even 99%, see appendix for scientific studies, Items #6&7). This is because even in high vaccine responders, vaccine-induced antibodies wane over time.  Vaccine immunity does not equal life-long immunity acquired after natural exposure.

It has been documented that vaccinated persons who develop breakthrough measles are contagious. In fact, two major measles outbreaks in 2011 (in Quebec, Canada, and in New York, NY) were re-imported by previously vaccinated individuals.[6] – [7]

Taken together, these data make it apparent that elimination of vaccine exemptions, currently only utilized by a small percentage of families anyway, will neither solve the problem of disease resurgence nor prevent re-importation and outbreaks of previously eliminated diseases. 

Is discrimination against conscientious vaccine objectors the only practical solution?

The majority of measles cases in recent US outbreaks (including the recent Disneyland outbreak) are adults and very young babies, whereas in the pre-vaccination era, measles occurred mainly between the ages 1 and 15. Natural exposure to measles was followed by lifelong immunity from re-infection, whereas vaccine immunity wanes over time, leaving adults unprotected by their childhood shots. Measles is more dangerous for infants and for adults than for school-aged children.

Despite high chances of exposure in the pre-vaccination era, measles practically never happened in babies much younger than one year of age due to the robust maternal immunity transfer mechanism. The vulnerability of very young babies to measles today is the direct outcome of the prolonged mass vaccination campaign of the past, during which their mothers, themselves vaccinated in their childhood, were not able to experience measles naturally at a safe school age and establish the lifelong immunity that would also be transferred to their babies and protect them from measles for the first year of life.

Luckily, a therapeutic backup exists to mimic now-eroded maternal immunity. Infants as well as other vulnerable or immunocompromised individuals, are eligible to receive immunoglobulin, a potentially life-saving measure that supplies antibodies directed against the virus to prevent or ameliorate disease upon exposure (see appendix, Item #8).

In summary: 1) due to the properties of modern vaccines, non-vaccinated individuals pose no greater risk of transmission of polio, diphtheria, pertussis, and numerous non-type b H. influenzae strains than vaccinated individuals do, non-vaccinated individuals pose virtually no danger of transmission of hepatitis B in a school setting, and tetanus is not transmissible at all; 2) there is a significantly elevated risk of emergency room visits after childhood vaccination appointments attesting that vaccination is  not risk-free; 3) outbreaks of measles cannot be entirely prevented even if we had nearly perfect vaccination compliance; and 4) an effective method of preventing measles and other viral diseases in vaccine-ineligible infants and the immunocompromised, immunoglobulin, is available for those who may be exposed to these diseases. 

Taken together, these four facts make it clear that discrimination in a public school setting against children who are not vaccinated for reasons of conscience is completely unwarranted as the vaccine status of conscientious objectors poses no undue public health risk. 

Sincerely Yours,

Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD

Tetyana Obukhanych, PhD, is the author of the book Vaccine Illusion.  She has studied immunology in some of the world’s most prestigious medical institutions. She earned her PhD in Immunology at the Rockefeller University in New York and did postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA and Stanford University in California.

Dr. Obukhanych offers online classes for those who want to gain deeper understanding of how the immune system works and whether the immunologic benefits of vaccines are worth the risks:  Natural Immunity Fundamentals.


Item #1. The Cuba IPV Study collaborative group. (2007) Randomized controlled trial of inactivated poliovirus vaccine in Cuba. N Engl J Med 356:1536-44

The table below from the Cuban IPV study documents that 91% of children receiving no IPV (control group B) were colonized with live attenuated poliovirus upon deliberate experimental inoculation.  Children who were vaccinated with IPV (groups A and C) were similarly colonized at the rate of 94-97%.  High counts of live virus were recovered from the stool of children in all groups.  These results make it clear that IPV cannot be relied upon for the control of polioviruses.

polio chart

Item #2. Warfel et al. (2014) Acellular pertussis vaccines protect against disease but fail to prevent infection and transmission in a nonhuman primate model.Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:787-92

“Baboons vaccinated with aP were protected from severe pertussis-associated symptoms but not from colonization, did not clear the infection faster than naïve [unvaccinated] animals, and readily transmitted B. pertussis to unvaccinated contacts. By comparison, previously infected [naturally-immune] animals were not colonized upon secondary infection.”

Item #3. Meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tom Harkins Global Communication Center, Atlanta, Georgia, December 11-12, 2013

Resurgence of Pertussis (p.6)

“Findings indicated that 85% of the isolates [from six Enhanced Pertussis Surveillance Sites and from epidemics in Washington and Vermont in 2012] were PRN-deficient and vaccinated patients had significantly higher odds than unvaccinated patients of being infected with PRN-deficient strains.  Moreover, when patients with up-to-date DTaP vaccinations were compared to unvaccinated patients, the odds of being infected with PRN-deficient strains increased, suggesting that PRN-bacteria may have a selective advantage in infecting DTaP-vaccinated persons.”

Item #4. Rubach et al. (2011) Increasing incidence of invasive Haemophilus influenzae disease in adults, Utah, USA. Emerg Infect Dis 17:1645-50

The chart below from Rubach et al. shows the number of invasive cases of H. influenzae(all types) in Utah in the decade of childhood vaccination for Hib.

Hib chart

Item #5. Wilson et al. (2011) Adverse events following 12 and 18 month vaccinations: a population-based, self-controlled case series analysis. PLoS One 6:e27897

“Four to 12 days post 12 month vaccination, children had a 1.33 (1.29-1.38) increased relative incidence of the combined endpoint compared to the control period, or at least one event during the risk interval for every 168 children vaccinated.  Ten to 12 days post 18 month vaccination, the relative incidence was 1.25 (95%, 1.17-1.33) which represented at least one excess event for every 730 children vaccinated.  The primary reason for increased events was statistically significant elevations in emergency room visits following all vaccinations.”

Item #6. De Serres et al. (2013) Largest measles epidemic in North America in a decade–Quebec, Canada, 2011: contribution of susceptibility, serendipity, and superspreading events. J Infect Dis 207:990-98

“The largest measles epidemic in North America in the last decade occurred in 2011 in Quebec, Canada.”

“A super-spreading event triggered by 1 importation resulted in sustained transmission and 678 cases.”

“The index case patient was a 30-39-year old adult, after returning to Canada from the Caribbean.  The index case patient received measles vaccine in childhood.”

“Provincial [Quebec] vaccine coverage surveys conducted in 2006, 2008, and 2010 consistently showed that by 24 months of age, approximately 96% of children had received 1 dose and approximately 85% had received 2 doses of measles vaccine, increasing to 97% and 90%, respectively, by 28 months of age.  With additional first and second doses administered between 28 and 59 months of age, population measles vaccine coverage is even higher by school entry.”

“Among adolescents, 22% [of measles cases] had received 2 vaccine doses.  Outbreak investigation showed this proportion to have been an underestimate; active case finding identified 130% more cases among 2-dose recipients.”

Item #7. Wang et al. (2014) Difficulties in eliminating measles and controlling rubella and mumps: a cross-sectional study of a first measles and rubella vaccination and a second measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. PLoS One9:e89361

“The reported coverage of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is greater than 99.0% in Zhejiang province.  However, the incidence of measles, mumps, and rubella remains high.”

Item #8. Immunoglobulin Handbook, Health Protection Agency



  1. To prevent or attenuate an attack in immuno-compromised contacts
  2. To prevent or attenuate an attack in pregnant women
  3. To prevent or attenuate an attack in infants under the age of 9 months



[3] Poland (1998) Am J Hum Genet 62:215-220

“ ‘poor responders,’ who were re-immunized and developed poor or low-level antibody responses only to lose detectable antibody and develop measles on exposure 2–5 years later.”

[4] ibid

“Our ongoing studies suggest that seronegativity after vaccination [for measles] clusters among related family members, that genetic polymorphisms within the HLA [genes] significantly influence antibody levels.”

[5] LeBaron et al. (2007) Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 161:294-301

“Titers fell significantly over time [after second MMR] for the study population overall and, by the final collection, 4.7% of children were potentially susceptible.”

[6] De Serres et al. (2013) J Infect Dis 207:990-998

“The index case patient received measles vaccine in childhood.”

[7] Rosen et al. (2014) Clin Infect Dis 58:1205-1210

“The index patient had 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine.”

May 2, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 4 Comments

Obama Fights to Spread GMO Foods Throughout Europe

By Eric Zuesse | Black Agenda Report | April 29, 2015

One of the major barriers blocking U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign for his mammoth international trade deals — the TTIP with Europe, and the TPP with Asia — is: other countries want the freedom to make up their own minds about the safety or dangerousness of the foods they allow to be sold within their borders.

The Obama Administration insists that no nation has that freedom. In fact, all participating nations would be removed from that responsibility and authority. The Obama trade deals propose to replace that national authority, and basic national sovereignty on these important matters, by decisions that would instead be made by international panels, whose members will be appointed by international corporations, which have their own profits at stake in these matters. Consumers and others will be ignored: they will not be represented in the proposed panels. Nor will any government be represented there. That soverignty will instead be transferred to the billionaire families who control and derive their income from these corporations.

On Friday, April 24th, Agence France Presse headlined “US Stresses Opposition to EU Opt-Out for GMO Imports,” and reported that, “The United States underscored Friday its opposition to a new European Union plan to allow member states to block genetically engineered imports after bilateral talks on a transatlantic free-trade pact.”

President Obama’s Trade Representative, Michael Froman, who is a Wall Street banker and a longtime close personal friend of the President, said on April 22nd that he was “very disappointed” that the EU wants to allow individual EU nations to “opt out” of automatic approval of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that the international panels will approve to be marketed everywhere. Furthermore, Froman’s assistant said that the U.S. rejects “a proposal to allow EU member states to ban products deemed safe by Europe’s own scientists.” He was referring there to the half of scientific papers that find GMO foods to be safe. However, those papers were produced by companies that manufacture and market GMOs. The other half of the scientific papers on GMOs, the half that were produced independently of the GMO industry, have not found GMO foods to be safe — to the exact contrary. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative ignores those papers.

On 8 July 2009, Agence France Presse headlined “Scientists Warn of Hazards of GMOs,” and reported that an article in the International Journal of Biological Science co-authored by world-leading scientists, reported that, “Agricultural GM companies and evaluation committees systematically overlook the side effects of GMOs and pesticides.” An accompanying study, “How Subchronic and Chronic Health Effects Can Be Neglected for GMOs, Pesticides or Chemicals,” found “a significant underestimation of the initial signs of diseases like cancer and diseases of the hormonal, immune, nervous and reproductive systems.”

The United States does not regulate GMO foods, because the patents are owned mostly by U.S. companies, and the U.S. Government doesn’t want to get in the way of their selling their patented products. Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration takes any given GMO manufacturer’s word for the safety of its GMO products. U.S. President Obama wants to promote U.S. trade by convincing all other countries to sell GMO foods. His TTIP and TPP are supported by the GMO industry, which has approved their GMO foods and allowed their product-labels to not mention that some or all of the ingredients are genetically modified crops.

One of the major advantages of GMO crops is that they can survive the use of herbicides — weed-killers — that kill natural crops. (The GMO-seed manufacturer also markets the pesticide or herbicide; these are chemical companies, and GMOs are a complementary or synergistic product-line for them. For example, the leading herbicide “Roundup” is from Monsanto which produces the GMO seeds that tolerate it.) Another advantage is that the foods can stay longer as looking and smelling fresh, which also lowers the cost of production, and yet the consumer doesn’t even know that the food is actually stale — the food is competing against costlier-to-produce non-GMO foods and so driving them off the market by the lower price, which leaves more and more food-production dependent upon GMO makers such as Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow Chemical. The lower price is obvious; the lower quality is hidden. It’s race-to-the-bottom international ‘competition,’ in which the aristocracy reap all the winnings; the public get the losses.

A recent news report from independent food scientists was bannered “FDA Product Safety Declaration Misleads Nation—Again” and it contains references to many recent scientific papers that find GMO foods to be dangerous, and harmful to human health.

An international analysis, “A Comparative Evaluation of the Regulation of GM Crops” was published in 2013 in the scientific journal Environment International, and it concluded by saying that, “Regulatory bodies are not adequately assessing the risks of dsRNA-producing GM products. As a result, we recommend a process to properly assess the safety of dsRNA-producing GM organisms before they are released or commercialized.” The Obama Administration is trying to prevent that from happening; and their proposed TTIP and TPP international-trade treaties are crucial components of achieving this objective. In the United States, GMO-producers are granted the right to self-regulate, and this practice will become the standard worldwide practice if the TPP and TTIP become passed into law.

The U.S. Government is doing everything it can to spread to other nations the same deregulatory policies that American companies rely upon to market their products inside the United States. On Friday, April 25th, a key U.S. Senate Committee approved a “Trade Promotion Authority” bill to help rush through the U.S. Senate the approval of Mr. Froman’s TPP trade deal with Asian countries. For a summary of the regulatory practices around the world regarding GMO crops, see here. A discussion of the votes in the U.S. Senate on the measure that was proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders to allow individual states to establish their own regulations requiring the labeling or indication of whether or not particular food ingredients are GMOs (since the federal Government refuses to consider such a proposal), is here, and it shows that even some allegedly progressive U.S. Senators voted the GMO industry’s way on that bill to regulate it, which failed, on a vote of 71 to 27. One might call this the Monsanto Congress, because the U.S. House is even more conservative than the Senate. Of the 27 U.S. Senators who voted for the Sanders bill, 24 were Democrats, 2 were Independents, and 1 was Republican. 43 Republicans, and 28 Democrats voted against it. The Obama Administration had lobbied against the bill, in order to continue the GMO industry’s free reign over America’s food-supply.

When Barack Obama campaigned for the Presidency in 2008, he said, “Let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.” But as soon as he won the Presidency “The new president filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA.” And whereas Republican news-organizations such as Fox ‘News’ criticized him as being a Muslim Marxist, he was actually implementing policies that continued those of the Republican George W. Bush Administration on this and on many other issues. Yet, no matter how far to the right Mr. Obama actually was, he was portrayed as a ‘leftist’ in Republican ’news’ media. And yet, still, even today, the vast majority of Democratic voters approve of his actions as President. They still believe his rhetoric, even though he has lied to them constantly and even filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that lying in politics must continue to remain unrestricted not only at the national level but also in each and every one of the states. Consequently, in the United States, there is no effective political opposition to the large international U.S. corporations. (And, under the Republican Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, corporations now have virtually unlimited freedom to use stockholders’ money to purchase politicians.)

Hillary Clinton is a big supporter of the GMO industry, and the response of liberals to that is to ask her to give them rhetoric they like on the matter, just as Obama had done when he was running for President in 2008. In other words: they will campaign for her to become President if she will only lie to them as Obama did to them. What liberals are demanding is rhetoric; but if they get it from her, then the industries that are funding her Presidential campaign won’t be worried, because she has a solid record of doing what her financial backers want her to do. As long as Americans don’t care when a politician has lied to them, lying to them will continue to be the way to win public office — especially considering that America’s international corporations now have been granted by the Republican U.S. Supreme Court a ‘free speech’ right to purchase the U.S. Government. And now that the Supreme Court has also ruled that political lies are a Constitutionally protected form of speech, those ads don’t even need to be true. If the American people don’t care about honesty, then they won’t have an honest government, because America’s corporations can then buy any U.S. Government they want — they’ll have total impunity if the U.S. public don’t even care about honesty in their government. There are no legal penalties for political lying; so, if there are also no political penalties for it, then the U.S. can only be ruled by lies and their liars. Should that be called “fascism”?

According to the generally progressive Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio (who, along with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is one of the Senate’s three leading opponents of Mr. Obama’s proposed international-trade treaties), President Obama has been lobbying Senators more insistently and more intensely on getting them to grant him “Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority” to ram these treaties through, than on any other single issue since Obama first became President in 2009. No issue, not even Obamacare nor any other, has been as important to Obama as is his getting signed into law the TPP and TTIP. It would certainly be the culmination of his Presidency if he succeeds. It would be his crowning achievement. He and his heirs will be amply rewarded if he succeeds; and that’s apparently what he really cares about. He has shown it by his actions as President, not by his rhetoric to voters. After all: Americans, it seems, don’t really care about honesty. All they really care about is rhetoric that pleases them. They merely want to be told what they want to hear.

Perhaps this is the reason why no progressive has entered the Democratic Presidential contest against Hillary Clinton. If the only realistic possibilities to become the next President are her and her Republican opponent (whomever he will turn out to be), then America will continue to be a de facto one-party State, and this will be the U.S. international-corporate party, in both of its factions or nominal varieties, controlling the U.S. Government. The only comprehensive scientific study that has yet been done finds that the U.S. has, in fact, already been ruled in this way for some time. (The history of how it came to be this way, starting gradually after the end of World War II, is the subject of my latest book.) Obama is merely implementing it more; he didn’t start it. He is implementing it more than even Republicans were able to do.

Obama wouldn’t have been able to do this if he didn’t come bearing the label ‘Democrat.’ And Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill was the key person to subordinate that Party to Wall Street. Hillary and Obama are following in his footsteps. Obama’s “Change” occurred actually when Bill Clinton became President in 1993. It simply hasn’t been much recognized until now. Today’s Democratic Party started when Bill became President. That’s when the one-party State, with the national Democrats playing the role of the ‘Good Cop’ to the national and local Republicans’ role of the ‘Bad Cop,’ in the eyes of the Democratic Party’s electoral base of deceived liberals, actually began to take over the U.S. Government, for the benefit of, and service to, America’s aristocracy.

This is why both Obama and Clinton are big supporters of essentially unregulated GMOs. It’s sort of like unregulated Wall Street: the profits get privatized, while the losses (poor health etc.) get socialized.

April 29, 2015 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Corruption, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iranian researchers produce anti-cancer nano-drug

Press TV – April 27, 2015

Iranian researchers have produced a nano-drug which has proven effective in battling treatment resistant cancers.

The Cancer Research Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences produced the polymer-based nanocarrier for the targeted release of the anti-cancer drug curcumin, ISNA reported on Sunday.

“This nanocarrier was made without the use of poisonous catalysts and has proven successful in clinical trials on a number cancer patients,” said Dr Ali Mohammad Alizadeh from the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council.

Research has proven that curcumin, which is found in turmeric, has anti-cancer and cancer preventing properties apart from its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, he added.

When curcumin is prescribed in its edible form, it has a low effect on the targeted tissues because of its low absorption rate and fast metabolism which causes it to be flushed from the body, he noted.

However, by capsuling curcumin in nano-emulsions (nano curcumin) its medical properties increase, Alizadeh noted.

Even if prescribed in high dosages, the drug is proven not poisonous during first-stage clinical trials and is currently near the end of stage two clinical trials on drug-resistant breast and digestive tract cancers.

Alizadeh added that because all the basic materials required to manufacture nano-curcumin are available in the country it can be domestically mass-produced as an anti-cancer drug.

April 27, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

Monsanto knew of glyphosate / cancer link 35 years ago

GM-Free Cymru | April 8, 2015

According to evidence unearthed from the archives of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the United States, it has been established that Monsanto was fully aware of the potential of glyphosate to cause cancer in mammals as long ago as 1981.

Recently the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a statement in which glyphosate (the main component of Roundup herbicide) was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans and as “sufficiently demonstrated” for genotoxicity in animals (1). This announcement of a change to toxicity class 2A was given vast coverage in the global media, causing Monsanto to move immediately into damage limitation mode. The corporation demanded the retraction of the report, although it has not yet been published! Predictably, there was more fury from the industry-led Glyphosate Task Force (2). This Task Force also sponsored a “rebuttal” review article (3) from a team of writers with strong links with the biotechnology industry; but because of the clear bias demonstrated in this paper (which suggests that glyphosate has no carcinogenic potential in humans) it is best ignored until it has been carefully scrutinized by independent researchers (4).

With Monsanto continuing to protest that glyphosate and Roundup are effectively harmless (5) if used according to instructions, in spite of accumulating evidence to the contrary, we undertook a search through Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) records with a view to finding out what was known about glyphosate at the time of its initial registration. This followed up earlier investigations by Sustainable Pulse which highlighted a sudden change in the EPA view on toxicity in 1991. What was discovered was very revealing. There were many animal experiments (using rats, mice and dogs) designed to test the acute and chronic toxicity of glyphosate in the period 1978-1986, conducted by laboratories such as Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto and submitted for EPA consideration. Two of these reports relate to a three-generation reproduction study in rats (6) (7), and another is called “A Lifetime Feeding Study Of Glyphosate In Rats” (8); but like all the other older studies they were and still are treated as Trade Secrets and cannot be freely accessed for independent scrutiny. That in itself is suggestive that the studies contain data which Monsanto still does not wish to be examined by experts in the toxicology field. It is also deeply worrying that EPA acceded to the routine Monsanto requests for secrecy on the flimsiest of pretexts.

However, archived and accessible EPA Memos from the early 1980’s do give some indications as to what the rat studies contain (9). Although the studies predate the adoption of international test guidelines and GLP standards they suggest that there was significant damage to the kidneys of the rats in the 3-generational study — the incidence of tubular dilation in the kidney was higher in every treated group of rats when compared to controls. Tubular dilation and nephrosis was also accompanied by interstitial fibrosis in all test groups and in some of the lumens the researchers found amorphous material and cellular debris. Less than a third of the control rats showed signs of tubular dilation. In the rat study results, the changes in the bladder mucosa are significant because metabolites, concentrated by the kidneys, have led to hyperplasia that could be considered as a very early and necessary step in tumour initiation. EPA was worried in 1981 that these indications were sinister, and at first declined to issue a NOEL (no observed adverse effect level) — it asked for further information and additional research. In its 1982 Addendum, Monsanto presented evidence that minimised the effects and confused the data — and on that basis EPA accepted that glyphosate was unlikely to be dangerous. But Monsanto knew that scrutiny of the data in the studies would potentially threaten its commercial ambitions, and so it asked for the research documents concerned to be withheld and treated as Trade Secrets. So there was no effective independent scrutiny. Monsanto and EPA connived in keeping these documents away from unbiased expert assessment, in spite of the evidence of harm. (It is clear that EPA was thinking about carcinogenic effects — it knew in 1981 that glyphosate caused tumorigenic growth and kidney disease but dismissed the finding as “a mystery” in order to set the NOEL for the chemical and bring it to market.)

In the rat studies, the glyphosate doses fed to the test groups were 1/100 of those used in a later mouse study (9). It is unclear why these very small doses were decided upon by Monsanto and accepted by EPA, since there must be a suspicion that the studies were manipulated or designed to avoid signs of organ damage. In its 1986 Memo, EPA remarked on the very low doses, and said that no dose tested was anywhere near the “maximally tolerated dose.” Then the Oncogenicity Peer Review Committee said: “At doses close to an MTD, tumours might have been induced.” A repeat rat study was asked for. However, BioDynamics (which conducted the research for Monsanto) used data from three unrelated studies, which they conducted in house, as historical controls to create “experimental noise” and to diminish the importance of the results obtained by experiment.

In a 1983 mouse study conducted by Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto (10), there was a slight increase in the incidence of renal tubular adenomas (benign tumours) in males at the highest dose tested. Malignant tumours were found in the higher dose group. However, “it was the judgment of two reviewing pathologists that the renal tumors were not treatment-related”. Other effects included centrilobular hypertrophy and necrosis of hepatocytes, chronic interstitial nephritis, and proximal tubule epithelial cell basophilia and hypertrophy in females. The EPA committee determined there was a “weak oncogenic response” — so evidence was suggestive of early malignancy. The EPA Science Advisory Panel was asked for advice, and they said the data were equivocal and called for further studies in mice and rats. A further report was delivered in 1985. Part of the reason for this dithering was the prevalent but false EPA belief that all physiological effects had to be dose-related: namely, the higher the dose, the greater the effect.

Even though pre-cancerous conditions were imperfectly understood 35 years ago, and cortical adenomas in kidney were not thought dangerous at the time, the evidence from the Memos is that Monsanto, BioDynamics Inc and the EPA Committees involved were fully aware, probably before 1981, of the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate when fed to mammals. In the Memos there are references to many more “secret” animal experiments and data reviews, which simply served to confuse the regulators with additional conflicting data. Thus EPA publicly accepted the safety assurances of the Monsanto Chief of Product Safety, Robert W. Street, and the status of the product was confirmed for use in the field (11). But behind the scenes, according to a later EPA memo (in 1991), its own experts knew before 1985 that glyphosate causes pancreatic, thyroid and kidney tumors.

On the EPA website (last updated 31.10.2014) reference is made to five Monsanto studies of 1980 – 1985, and it is noteworthy that these studies have not been made public in the light of current knowledge about malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions (12). Neither have they been revisited or reinterpreted by Monsanto and EPA, although one 1981 rat study and one 1983 mouse study are mentioned in the recent review by Greim et al (2015) (3). Following the conclusion that glyphosate was “not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity” nothing in the EPA advice about this chemical has changed since 1990. Given the recent assessment by the WHO Panel, and given the flood of scientific papers relating to health damage associated with glyphosate (13) the EPA attitude smacks of complacency and even incompetence.

Speaking for GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John says: “The evidence shows that by 1981 both Monsanto and the EPA were aware of malignant tumours and pre-cancerous conditions in the test animals which were fed small doses of glyphosate in the secret feeding experiments. Although concerns were expressed at the time by EPA committees, these concerns were later suppressed under the weight of conflicting evidence brought forward by Monsanto, some of it involving the inappropriate use of historical control data of dubious quality. None of these studies is available for independent examination (14). That is a scandal in itself. There has been a protracted and cynical cover-up in this matter (15). Glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen”, as now confirmed by the WHO Working Group, and no matter what protestations may now come from Monsanto and the EPA, they have been fully aware of its potential to cause cancer for at least 35 years. If they had acted in a precautionary fashion back then, instead of turning a blind eye to scientific malpractice (16), glyphosate would never have been licensed, and thousands of lives might have been saved.”

Retired Academic Pathologist Dr Stanley Ewen says: “Glyphosate has been implicated in human carcinogenesis by IARC and it is remarkable that, as early as 1981, glyphosate was noted to be associated with pre neoplastic changes in experimental mice. This finding was never revealed by the regulatory process and one might therefore expect to see human malignancy increasing on the record in the ensuing years. John Little (personal communication) has demonstrated an unexpected and alarming 56% upsurge in malignancy in England in those under 65 in the past 10 years. Presumably British urinary excretion of glyphosate is similar to the documented urine levels in Germany, and therefore everyone is at risk. The effect of glyphosate on endocrine tissue such as breast and prostate, or even placenta, is disruptive at least and an increased incidence of endocrine neoplasia is likely to be seen in National Statistics. The Glyphosate Task Force denies the involvement of glyphosate in human malignancy despite their knowledge of many reports of lymphomas and pituitary adenomas in experimental animals dosed with glyphosate. On the other hand, Prof. Don Huber at a recent meeting in the Palace of Westminster, has warned of severe consequences if rampant glyphosate consumption is not reined in. I feel sure that the suppression of the experimental results of 1981 has enhanced the global risk of malignancy.”

Toxico-pathologist Professor Vyvyan Howard says: “”The drive towards transparency in the testing of pharmaceuticals is gathering pace with legislation in the EU, USA and Canada being developed. All trials for licensed drugs will likely have to become available in the public domain. In my opinion the case with agrochemicals should be no different. At least with pharmaceuticals exposure is voluntary and under informed consent. There are several biomonitoring studies which demonstrate that there is widespread exposure of human populations to glyphosate, presumably without informed consent. Given the clear level of mistrust over the licensing of this herbicide and the emerging epidemiological evidence of its negative effects there can, in my opinion, be no case whatsoever for keeping the toxicological studies, used to justify licencing, a secret. They should be put in the public domain.”

Research scientist Dr Anthony Samsel says: “Monsanto’s Trade Secret studies of glyphosate show significant incidence of cell tumors of the testes and tumorigenic growth in multiple organs and tissues. They also show significant interstitial fibrosis of the kidney including effects in particular to the Pituitary gland, mammary glands, liver, and skin. Glyphosate has significant effects to the lungs indicative of chronic respiratory disease. Glyphosate has an inverse dose response relationship, and it appears that its effects are highly pH dependent. Both Monsanto and the EPA knew of the deleterious effects of this chemical in 1980 at the conclusion of their multiple long-term assessments, but the EPA hid the results of their findings as “trade secrets.” Monsanto has been lying and covering up the truth about glyphosate’s harmful effects on public health and the environment for decades. The increases in multiple chronic diseases, seen since its introduction into the food supply, continue to rise in step with its use. Monsanto’s Roundup glyphosate based herbicides have a ubiquitous presence as residues in the food supply directly associated with its crop use. Nations must stand together against Monsanto and other chemical companies who continue to destroy the biosphere. We are all part of that biosphere and we are all connected. What affects one affects us all.”


(1) Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (2015)
Kathryn Z Guyton, Dana Loomis, Yann Grosse, Fatiha El Ghissassi, Lamia Benbrahim-Tallaa, Neela Guha, Chiara Scoccianti, Heidi Mattock, Kurt Straif, on behalf of the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group, IARC, Lyon, France
Lancet Oncol 2015. Published Online March 20, 2015 S1470-2045(15)70134-8
International Agency for Research on Cancer 16 Volume 112: Some organophosphate insecticides and herbicides: tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon and glyphosate. IARC Working Group. Lyon; 3–10 March 2015. IARC Monogr Eval Carcinog Risk Chem Hum (in press).

(2) Monsanto seeks retraction for report linking herbicide to cancer
By Carey Gillam, Reuters
The response by the pesticide industry association, the Glyphosate Task Force, is here:

(3) Helmut Greim, David Saltmiras, Volker Mostert, and Christian Strupp (2015) REVIEW ARTICLE: Evaluation of carcinogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate, drawing on tumor incidence data from fourteen chronic/carcinogenicity rodent studies. Crit Rev Toxicol, 2015; Early Online: 1–24 DOI: 10.3109/10408444.2014.1003423

(4) Not only is this paper written by authors who have strong industry links, but the 14 carcinogenicity studies assessed are carefully selected industry studies which have not been peer-reviewed and published in mainstream scientific journals. All of the studies were conducted for clients (like Monsanto) who would have experienced gigantic commercial repercussions if anything “inconvenient” had been reported upon, with glyphosate already in use across the world. Therefore the possibility of fraud and data manipulation cannot be ruled out. The 14 studies are all secret, and cannot be examined by independent toxicology experts. The fact that the review article in question reproduces (as online supplementary material) a series of tables and data sets is immaterial, since the data are useless in the absence of clear explanations of the laboratory protocols and practices of the research teams involved.


(6) “A Three-Generation Reproduction Study in Rats with Glyphosate” (Final Report; Bio/dynamics Project No. 77-2063; March 31, 1981) — submitted by Monsanto to EPA

(7) “Addendum to Pathology Report for a Three-Generation Reproduction Study in Rats with Glyphosate. R.D. #374; Special Report MSL-1724; July 6, 1982″ EPA Registration No 524-308, Action Code 401. Accession No 247793. CASWELL#661A” — submitted by Monsanto to EPA

(8) “A Lifetime Feeding Study Of Glyphosate In Rats” (Report by GR Lankas and GK Hogan from Bio/dynamics for Monsanto. Project #77-2062, 1981: MRID 00093879) — submitted by Monsanto to EPA
and Addendum Report #77-2063

(9) Archived EPA memos from 1982 and 1986:
The 1991 EPA Memo is accessible via:

(10) Knezevich, AL and Hogan, GK (1983) “A Chronic Feeding study of Glyphosate (Roundup Technical) in Mice”. Project No 77-2061. Bio/dynamics Inc for Monsanto. Accession No #251007-251014 — document not available but cited in EPA 1986 Memo.
Follow-up study: McConnel, R. “A chronic feeding study of glyphosate (Roundup technical) in mice: pathology report on additional kidney sections”. Unpublished project no. 77-2061A, 1985, submitted to EPA by BioDynamics, Inc.

(11) Glyphosate was first registered for use by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) in 1974, and after various reviews reregistration was completed in 1993.
Glyphosate (CASRN 1071-83-6)
Classification — D (not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity)
Basis — Inadequate evidence for oncogenicity in animals. Glyphosate was originally classified as C, possible human carcinogen, on the basis of increased incidence of renal tumors in mice. Following independent review of the slides the classification was changed to D on the basis of a lack of statistical significance and uncertainty as to a treatment-related effect.

(12) Monsanto Company. 1981a. MRID No. 0081674, 00105995. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1981b. MRID No. 00093879. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1985. MRID No. 00153374. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1980a. MRID No. 00046362. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.
Monsanto Company. 1980b. MRID No. 00046363. Available from EPA. Write to FOI, EPA, Washington, DC 20460.

Key studies showing toxic effects of glyphosate and Roundup. Ch 4 in GMO Myths and Truths
Antoniou, M. et al. Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence J Environ Anal Toxicol 2012, S:4

(14) That having been said, Monsanto has allowed access to selected later reports to selected researchers (Greim et al, 2015). It is still uncertain whether these selected reports are available in full, for detailed independent scrutiny — even though there can now be no possible justification for “trade secret” designation, following the lapse of the US glyphosate patent in 2000.

In 1985 the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel, called the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee then classified glyphosate as a Class C Carcinogen on the basis of its carcinogenic potential. This classification was changed by the EPA in 1991 to a Class E category on the basis of “evidence of non-carcinogenicity for humans”. Mysteriously this change in glyphosate’s classification occurred during the same period that Monsanto was developing its first Roundup-Ready (glyphosate-resistant) GM Crops. Not for the first time, commercial considerations were allowed to trump public health concerns.
The EPA scale of cancer-forming potential of substances:
Group A: Carcinogenic to humans
Group B: Likely to be carcinogenic to humans
Group C: Suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential
Group D: Inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential
Group E: Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans

(16) Wikipedia 2012: Internal EPA Memos Document Fraud
1983 EPA Scientist on EPA’s public stance: “Our viewpoint is one of protecting the public health when we see suspicious data.” Unfortunately, EPA has not taken that conservative viewpoint in its assessment of glyphosate’s cancer causing potential.”
“There are no studies available to NCAP evaluating the carcinogenicity of Roundup or other glyphosate-containing products. Without such tests, the carcinogenicity of glyphosate-containing products is unknown.”
“Tests done on glyphosate to meet registration requirements have been associated with fraudulent practices.”
“Countless deaths of rats & mice are not reported.”
“Data tables have been fabricated”
“There is a routine falsification of data”

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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