Impossible fools at Impossible Burger

Are genetically engineered food and lab-grown meat the most sustainably regenerative choices available? Impossible Foods, creator of the meatless bleeding Impossible Burger,1,2,3,4 made with GMO soy, would like you to think so. After the release of its 2019 Impact Report,5 senior manager of impact strategy, Rebekah Moses, told FoodNavigator-USA:6

“We have done a tremendous amount of diligence and we’re confident that in using GMO soy, we are not taking a step backward in terms of sustainability.

Soy is really high yielding, it’s a good source of protein and it’s more efficient than wheat. You get so much more protein in a given harvest vs the amounts of water, energy and inputs needed to grow it.

Everything is very field-based, but at a high level, there is very little difference if any difference in the environmental impact of conventional vs herbicide tolerant soy and in some cases using herbicide tolerant soy enables you to adopt more sustainable practices such as the ability to reduce tillage, which is a win for the soil.

Similarly, the chemicals you spray to manage pests — that includes insects and weeds — in herbicide tolerant crops are lower toxicity than the alternatives [used to grow conventional soy].”

Impossible Foods takes aim at regenerative farming

Impossible Foods also points out that since meat from cows require about 30 pounds of corn and soy for every pound produced, GMO soy burgers reduce the net use of herbicides.

However, while this is true for livestock raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), it’s absolutely not the case for organic grass fed beef production, as pastured cattle eat grasses and never lay a nose to GMO grains of any kind.

So, while GMO soy burgers may have an environmentally competitive advantage over CAFO beef, it cannot compete with regenerative grazing as far as herbicide usage (or toxicity thereof) is concerned.

Despite such well-established facts, Impossible Foods takes aim directly at regenerative ranching in its report, claiming grass fed cattle ranching generates higher amounts of greenhouse gas emissions than cows raised in CAFOs.7,8 What it fails to include is evidence9 showing grass fed ranching actually has net negative emissions after all relevant factors are taken into account.

Is fake food really the answer we’re looking for?

Impossible Foods’ impact report is hard to reconcile with other established data showing GMO soybean and corn farms are a primary source of water10 and air pollution.11 GMO soybeans and corn have also been identified as primary destroyers of grasslands and forests.12,13

Regenerative grazing is also a key activity required for the optimal sequestering of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into our rangelands and pasturelands, while GMO soy production is associated with resistant super weeds14 and super pests and uncontrollable cross contamination.

Impossible Burger also skirts the issue of nutrition by focusing solely on the intake of protein in general, ignoring the fact that grass fed beef contains a complex mix of nutrients (including healthy fats) and cofactors you simply cannot recreate by mixing together an assortment of plant-based components.

GMO soy linked to ecological devastation

To learn more about the ecological impact of soy, check out the Greenpeace documentary “Soy: In the name of progress.” Also take a look at Dan Charles’ 2013 NPR article,15 “Pictures don’t lie: Corn and soybeans are conquering U.S. grasslands.” He writes, in part:

“Grasslands are disappearing … They’re being replaced by fields of corn and soybeans … A study16 published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows actual pictures — derived from satellite data — of that changing landscape.

The images show that farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska converted 1.3 million acres of grassland into soybean and corn production between 2006 and 2011.

‘This is kind of the worst-kept secret in the Northern Plains. We just put some numbers on it,’ says Christopher Wright, from South Dakota State University, who got funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy to take a close look at this phenomenon …

Wright’s images are striking, and these changes are having profound effects on the environment of this region. For instance, it’s bad news for wildlife, because corn fields are much less inviting habitat for a wide range of wild creatures, from ground-nesting birds to insects, including bees.

Corn and soybean fields are increasingly encroaching into the Prairie Pothole region of the Dakotas and Minnesota, the most important breeding habitat for waterfowl in North America.

In southern Iowa, Wright says, much of the land conversion is taking place on hillsides. The soil of those fields, without permanent grass to hold it in place, is now much more likely to wash into streams and ponds.”

Modern agriculture largely responsible for death of our oceans

Chemical runoff is indeed among the most significant threats posed by these gigantic monocrop fields. As noted by National Resources Defense Council:17

Nutrient pollution, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water or air, is the number-one threat to water quality worldwide and can cause algal blooms, a toxic soup of blue-green algae that can be harmful to people and wildlife.”

Similarly, a June 11, 2019 PBS News Hour article18 warns that “A ‘dead zone’ the size of Massachusetts could hit the Gulf this summer,” based on the latest forecast19 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“If this prediction holds true, this event would be the second largest on the list of Gulf dead zones in more than three decades,” PBS reports, noting this dead zone “would be 50% larger than the average seen in the last five years.”

The reason for the massive increase in algal blooms that kill marine life by sucking up all the oxygen is blamed on heavy rainfall increasing chemical runoff from fertilizer-enriched farmland — in the case of the Gulf, farmland surrounding the Mississippi River. As reported by The Washington Post:20

“Analyses from U.S. Geological Survey monitors in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya watersheds showed that discharge from these rivers was 67 percent greater than the 1980-2018 average. The amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus spilling into the Gulf were 18 percent and 49 percent above average, respectively.”

What’s more, “Even if nitrogen runoff was eliminated today from the Mississippi River, a 2018 study in the journal Science found, it would take at least 30 years for the Gulf dead zone to recover,” The Washington Post notes.21

Savory Institute responds to Impossible Foods’ attack

Impossible Foods specifically mentions the Savory Institute in its report, boldly claiming that Savory’s regenerative grazing theories have been “thoroughly debunked.” In response, the Savory Institute issued a statement saying:22

“This is not the first, nor will it be the last, attempt to discredit Holistic Management as a sleight-of-hand for promoting and profiting off of large scale industrial agriculture …

Claims that our work has been ‘debunked’ disregard not just the millions of acres that have been regenerated globally and the tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers, and pastoralist communities who have stewarded this land transformation and witnessed it firsthand …

[T]hey also overlook the growing body of peer-reviewed evidence documenting that properly-managed livestock can be a net positive for grassland ecosystems,23 carbon drawdown,24 wildlife habitat,25 and rural communities.26

Savory also highlights a third-party lifecycle analysis27 (LCA) of a holistic ranch, showing properly grazing livestock “when taking a full accounting of all greenhouse gases in and out of their farming operation,” is a net carbon sink. As noted in the analysis, “Carbon footprint evaluation of regenerative grazing at White Oak Pastures”:28

“Traditional LCAs don’t account for soil carbon sequestration and therefore don’t take into account the full carbon story for regenerative agriculture systems … Soil samples were taken and evaluated to quantify soil carbon sequestration and allow a highly credible inclusion of this information into the LCA …

As there is little information published on this topic and the outcomes challenge much conventional thinking on beef’s carbon footprint, careful consideration should be given to the conclusions and messaging.”

According to this analysis — notably performed by the very same company that conducted Impossible Burger’s LCA — the carbon footprint of beef from White Oak Pastures is 111% lower than conventional CAFO beef, as the “system effectively captures soil carbon, offsetting a majority of the emissions related to beef production.”

Regenerative grazing creates net carbon sink

All things considered, including enteric emissions, manure emissions, soil carbon capture, vegetation carbon, miscellaneous farm activities, slaughter and transport, the total net carbon emissions from the beef production on White Oak Pastures was found to be a negative 3.5 kilos of carbon emissions per kilo of fresh meat, making this integrated, holistic system six times more carbon efficient than the average CAFO production model. Importantly, as noted by Savory:29

“What Impossible Burger seems to have conveniently omitted is that their GMO soy-based product is still a net carbon emitter in comparison to White Oak’s properly-managed livestock that create a net carbon sink.

Could it be that GMO soy-based Impossible Burger feels threatened by the regenerative movement? In a world where current agricultural practices have eroded soils to the point of having less than 60 harvests left (according to the UN FAO30), the solution is not to maximize efficiencies in the broken, extractive, industrial model …

Rather, as environmentally-conscious businesses and individuals, we must address the root cause and adopt land management practices that honor the symbiotic relationships of plants and animals. One cannot exist without the other, so we must reevaluate our preconceived notions and return to farming in nature’s image.”

White Oaks Pastures invites Impossible Foods for a visit

Will Harris, owner of White Oaks Pastures and president of the American Grassfed Association, has taken matters a step further, issuing an open invitation to Impossible Foods’ officials to visit his farm to get a thorough understanding of how regenerative grazing actually works. In a statement, Harris writes:31

“As an independent professional rancher, who has practiced regenerative land management on our family farm for more than 20 years, I can state unequivocally that Impossible Burger’s claims about regenerative grazing are incorrect.

Not only is our business financially successful on a large scale, but we are accumulating data showing that our practices are enhancing the carbon sequestration potential of the soil on the lands we manage.

Today I am publicly inviting Impossible Foods representatives to visit my farm and see for themselves the many social, economic and environmental benefits of regenerative grazing.

I would be grateful to share our recent Life Cycle Assessment that clearly demonstrates that the carbon footprint of our farm results in a positive impact on the environment — a claim that imitation meat companies cannot make.”

Meat replacement companies need to demonstrate superiority

On his website, Harris also highlights some of the other benefits of regenerative farming and why we need it:32

“Land is meant to be a living thing. It contains the natural order of all living things: Life, Growth, Death, Decay, Life, Growth, Death, Decay. The land is our teacher. Looking back to the evolution of our ecosystem informs the way we manage land today.

The energy cycle, carbon cycle, mineral cycle, microbe cycle, water cycle have all co-evolved with plants, microbes, and animals since our planet’s creation. Our passion is to create an environment that allows these cycles to flow freely: microbes feed plants which feed the animals which spread urine and feces to microbes which feeds the plants which feed the animals.”

Just how exactly does cultivating fake meat in an industrial facility improve the ecology of our environment? Again, we’re not just talking about which strategy is the least destructive, we’re talking about which one actually improves the environment the most.

“Talk is cheap” they say, and in the case of Impossible Burger’s claims that certainly rings true. They (and other meat replacement companies) really need to tangibly demonstrate how their system is better, overall, and not just on some minor point, than the regenerative system.

Grazing livestock is integral to ending ecological destruction

In the podcast above, Sustainable Dish interviews Ronnie Cummins, executive director and co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association, about the importance of grass fed livestock farming for climate stability, environmental health, sustainability and regeneration.

As explained in many previous articles, livestock are important components that make farming truly regenerative, as they help build healthy soils. Lab-derived meat substitutes do not actually contribute anything to this healthy ecological cycle.

When animals are raised according to regenerative agriculture, a healthy ecosystem is produced and then more or less effortlessly maintained. So, eating meat is not synonymous with environmental harm; it’s industrial farming practices — CAFOs — that inflict the damage.

Some also believe eating meat means ripping out more forests so animals can graze, but I’m certainly not advocating for that. U.S. cropland is currently dominated by a two-crop planting cycle of corn and soybeans, largely for animal feed. Like CAFOs, these monocrops are devastating the environment, and even though they’re plant foods, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Getting rid of these large swaths of corn and soy fields — which are laden with chemicals and largely devoid of life — is key, as is reverting them back to what they were before, namely grasslands for grazing animals.

Grasslands are key to fixing many environmental problems, and herbivores are a necessary part of this ecosystem. By mimicking the natural behavior of migratory herds of wild grazing animals — meaning allowing livestock to graze freely, and moving the herd around in specific patterns — farmers can support nature’s efforts to regenerate and thrive.

Long-term health effects of fake meat are still unknown

Aside from the fact that fake meat production doesn’t have any regenerative capabilities that would benefit the ecosystem, there’s also the issue of health effects. A number of studies have highlighted the risks of ultraprocessed foods, showing they raise your risk of cancer, and the more ultraprocessed foods you eat, the greater your risk.

In one,33,34,35,36 which included 104,980 participants followed for an average of five years, 18.74% of the men’s diet and 18.71% of women’s was ultraprocessed, and each 10% increase in ultraprocessed food raised the cancer rate by 12%, which worked out to nine additional cancer cases per 10,000 people per year.

The risk of breast cancer specifically went up by 11% for every 10% increase in ultraprocessed food. While sugar and unhealthy fats are key staple ingredients suspected of causing these effects, there’s reason to believe fake meat might have a similar impact, for a number of reasons.

For starters, the Impossible Burger meat substitute is the epitome of a highly-processed food — seeing how it’s manufactured from start to finish, and involves the use of man-made ingredients — placing it squarely in the higher-risk category.

Secondly, GMO soy has been shown to have a number of health risks all by itself. Third, the human body is not designed to process fake meat and there’s no telling what the long-term health ramifications might be. Even the liberal U.S. Food and Drug Administration has raised concerns over the soy leghemoglobin in the Impossible Burger being a possible human allergen.37,38,39

Fourth, GMO soy is loaded with glyphosate, the health risks of which are of increasing concern as it’s now being found in most processed foods, including non-GMO foods. Recent testing by Moms Across America (MMA) revealed concerning levels of glyphosate in the Impossible Burger.40

Fake meat isn’t about humanitarianism; it’s about profit

You really need to question the rationale for creating expensive fake meat alternatives when a far less expensive and more reasonable answer is readily available. What’s worse, fake meats may ultimately create more problems than they solve, as laboratory derived meat substitutes are not part of the ecological cycle and health hazards are as yet entirely unknown.

This basic lack of understanding affects safety regulations pertaining to processing and manufacturing as well. Commenting on the open questions pertaining to fake chicken production, Al Almanza, former acting deputy undersecretary for food safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, noted that we still do not know “what’s normal or abnormal, and thus potentially unsafe, in a cultured-chicken plant.”41

Without this knowledge, food inspectors have no idea what to look for, companies cannot devise and implement proper safety protocols and regulators cannot make regulations to ensure safety. The same applies to fake beef,

In its report “From Lab to Fork: Critical Questions on Laboratory-Created Animal Product Alternatives,”42 released in June 2018, Friends of the Earth calls for more stringent safety assessments, regulations and labeling requirements.

The report highlights a number of health and safety concerns and environmental impacts hidden beneath “climate-friendly” claims. It also points out the lack of substantiation for “clean meat,” “animal-free,” “plant-based” and “sustainable” claims.43

All in all, it seems that, contrary to the PR being churned out, the creation of fake meat products is not about feeding the world or eliminating animal suffering. It’s about dominating billionaires looking to put patents on the food system.

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While many view lab-created meat substitutes as the lesser of two evils when comparing it to the CAFO meat that currently dominates the market, taking nature out of the equation altogether is not the answer, especially since holistic herd management is an integral part of the regenerative agriculture equation.

Ultimately, creating fake food is not the answer to solving the problems associated with conventional meat. For health reasons as well as ecological reasons, I recommend skipping the meat alternatives and opting for real beef raised the right way instead.

When you do shop for meat, go to a local organic farmer or look for Demeter (biodynamic) and American Grassfed Association (AGA) certifications. Both indicate high-quality, sustainable and environmentally sound food.

Video reveals appalling abuse at Coca-Cola CAFO

Falling sales of carbonated beverages1 likely prompted The Coca-Cola Co. to make an undisclosed investment in a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) Fair Oaks Farm, where travelers have the option to purchase a meal and tour a dairy operation.

Coke teamed with Select Milk Producers (created by Fair Oaks owner Mike McCloskey), currently one of the top 10 and fastest-growing milk cooperatives in the country,2 and Fair Oaks Farms (owned by the McCloskey husband and wife team) to form Fairlife LLC.3

Although a recent investigation spearheaded by the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM)4 has revealed horrific and inhumane animal treatment on the Fair Oaks dairy farm, it is not the first time Coca-Cola has come under the microscope for unethical practices.

In 2008, Common Dreams5 reported the University of Michigan mandated an independent assessment of operations in India if Coca-Cola wanted continued business with the University. Reports had emerged showing communities were losing groundwater supply after bottling plants were established.

The assessment found The Coca-Cola Co. approached operations in India from a “business continuity” perspective, ignoring any impact on the community, overexploiting groundwater usage and burdening communities. Coca-Cola has also been implicated in influencing China’s obesity policies, promoting exercise over nutritional intake to increase their sales.6

June 4, 2019, ARM released the first of several videos shot by an undercover investigator who had infiltrated the Fair Oaks Dairy in November 2018. The footage is graphic and disturbing.7,8

In a press release dated June 6, 2019, The Coca-Cola Company stated: “Last week, we were devastated to see a video from Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) showing acts of animal cruelty …” the timing of which appears to indicate they had early access to the information.9

Fairlife — Not so fair a life after all

After the investigator from ARM was hired at Fair Oaks, he reported receiving no work orientation and immediately observed abuse.10 The undercover investigator told ARM he had notified supervisors within Fair Oaks Dairy. He alleges the staff, including foremen and upper management, were aware of the abuse and the animal abusers were never reprimanded.

In conjunction with the release of the videotaped abuse at Fair Oaks Farm, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office received a binder including a summary of the investigation and an external hard drive with video and audio footage captured at Fair Oaks.11 Thus far, ARM has released three videos documenting animal abuse and cruelty.

In the first two, the video showed calves at Fair Oaks being thrown, hit and kicked in the head, dragged by the ears and burned with branding irons. The carcasses of dead calves were piled together in a working dairy that has doubled as America’s only dairy theme park,12 offering tours like Dairy Adventure,13 where families could witness the “fun-filled life of a cow.”14

Fair Oaks has been described as Fairlife’s “flagship farm,”15 where cows were milked on rotating carousels behind glass windows, so tourists could watch. What stayed out of sight were what the behind-the-scene videos show: Workers pushing, hitting and prodding cows reluctant to get onto the rotating milking platform, and cows getting caught in the machinery and falling off.

The investigator reported he did not witness any medical attention given to the animals, nor did any of the footage caught by the hidden camera worn by the investigator during his months on the farm record any treatment. The Indy Star reported the investigator found cows with infected eyes, broken and bleeding tails, infected udders, limping and too weak to walk.16

Poor living conditions, the discarded bodies of dead cows and the regular sounds of gunshots as cows and calves were euthanized were not uncommon.17 After birth, the investigator saw the females forced back onto the carousel while the newborn calves were separated from their mother and kept in below-freezing sheds.18

Inhumane behavior found throughout the dairy farm

Rachel Taylor, ARM’s public relations director, said of Fair Oaks in the Indy Star:19 “They claim very very publicly that it’s about transparency. But they are not showing the public everything that happens.”

Although the initial news reports lay the blame on four employees,20 A.J. Garcia, director of investigations for ARM, reported the investigator had informed upper management of what was happening, and nothing was done.

The original videos also showed workers at Fair Oaks using drugs on the farm, and the third video demonstrates abuse being carried out by a different set of Fair Oaks employees during a different period than the first two videos.

Garcia was asked why he and ARM did not go to the police with their initial information in 2018. He explained ARM wanted to build a strong case and not put their undercover operative at risk. He told the IndyStar:21

“We need to have evidence that this happens on a daily basis, and it’s not one week, it’s not one month, it’s every day. We need to be able to show that to the public, so that people don’t say this only happened that day, this only happens when only this worker is there. So we need to be able to provide long-term evidence.”

Warning — Graphic descriptions quoted below

Despite reports of abuse, Mike McCloskey, co-founder of the Fair Oaks Farm and a veterinarian,22 allegedly had no knowledge of what was happening on his own farm. Once the videos were released, Fairlife milk was pulled off the shelves at a number of retailers, including Jewel-Osco and Pete’s Fresh Market.23

Joel Kerr, executive director for the Indiana Animal Rights Alliance, spoke to a reporter from the Indy Star, saying he was not surprised by the release of the extended 90-minute video from ARM. He went on:24

“Last week the videos were released, Fair Oaks then said it was only a few people, it was just an isolated incident, and they were going to fix the problem. The video that came out today shows it clearly was not an isolated incident, it was multiple employees on multiple Fair Oaks properties.”

Richard Couto, founder of ARM said in a statement:25

“We waited so long to go public from this because we had to get all undercover operatives out of the field. The release [Tuesday] and the release of Operation Fair Oaks Farms is a very small portion of our investigation. This is going to go on and continue. Releases are forthcoming.”

In a video, Couto said:26

“The calf abuse is by far the worst baby abuse that we’ve seen ever, undercover, in any investigation, anywhere in the world. The newborn babies … are so incredibly brutalized, not once a day, not twice a day — all day.”

In a statement, ARM said the investigator spent three months hired as a calf care employee at the Prairies Edge North Barn. NBC News Chicago printed part of the statement from ARM:27

“Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing and slamming calves. Calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention.”

While the recent videos and reports demonstrate the despicable manner calves and cows are treated, Kerr points out this is not an isolated incident in one CAFO but happens at dairy farms across the country. He cites other animal rights investigators have discovered similar types of behavior over the past years.28

Fair Oaks opened their doors to offset public resentment

Remarkably, McCloskey claims29 he was completely unaware of the abuse happening on a farm he opened to the public in 2004 with the intention to demonstrate to animal rights groups his farm was different from those born out of a culture prioritizing productivity over sustainability and animal care.

In an effort to change the narrative, he commented to Fortune Magazine, “We thought, hey, wait a second. We lived all our lives being proud of what we do, and we thought we should open our doors.” More than 50,000 people came to Fair Oaks Dairy in the first 12 months and 500,000 visited in 2015.30

McCloskey’s farm uses digesters to transform cow manure into methane gas, which in 2016 powered the electricity running the farm and the digesters. They purified it to 99% methane and began using it themselves in compressed natural gas engines in a fleet of 42 trucks that deliver their milk.

Once the biogas is siphoned off, water is pressed out leaving high nitrogen fertilizer paste the company uses on acreage where they grow the cows’ feed.31 At the time of the interview in 2016, Sue McCloskey talked about distilling the water, then filtering it through the wetlands and using it to brew beer. Mike McCloskey was quoted in Fortune:32

“When you drink that beer it’s going to be the water that the cows drank that made the milk that produced the gas that ran the trucks that created the fertilizer that grew the crops that created the protein that the cows ate and now is the water we use to make the beer.”

The farm also produced some organic milk, and to qualify as organic, the cows had to graze on pasture at least 120 days a year. This made it impossible to collect manure for the digesters. The organic cows also didn’t produce as much milk as those fed the genetically modified ingredients McCloskey prefers.

According to the piece in Fortune Magazine:33 “Still, Mike has reached a point where he feels there’s nothing he can’t explain or justify. ‘My doors are open, and you see everything I’m doing.'”

Coke seeks ‘premium’ label on milk

The partnership between Coca-Cola and Fair Oaks Dairy, which began in 2014, was initiated to roll out a premium milk product ultrafiltered to concentrate nutrients and separate fats and sugars.34 The company boasted the milk had 50% more protein, 30% more calcium and half the fat of whole milk.35

Sue McCloskey, a co-founder of Fair Oaks, told NPR’s Dan Charles36 she came up with the idea after being forced to filter water when she and her husband were running a dairy farm in New Mexico. They believed there was potential in separating milk into parts and then reassembling it into a reformulated, ultrafiltered, high-protein beverage that would be better than Mother Nature could make.37

Once they partnered with Coca-Cola, the idea went national, moved by the monstrous marketing muscle of Coca-Cola. After joining forces with Coca-Cola, they created Fairlife, under which the new line of milk-derived beverages would be marketed.38

McCloskey and his cousin Manuel Perez, also a veterinarian, have plans to build a dairy in Puerto Rico where he was raised. Born in Pittsburgh, his mother moved the family to Puerto Rico when he was 7 years old after her husband died. McCloskey plans to prove a dairy farm can be as efficient in the tropics as the one he built in Indiana.

McCloskey and Perez plan to plant a new kind of pasture with grass adapted to the tropics and a new genetic breed of cattle that “produces lots of milk but can also tolerate tropical heat and insect pests.”39

Benefits of raw milk products

There are many reasons to reconsider your consumption of pasteurized CAFO milk — animal rights abuses being just one of them. Pasteurized milk is also devoid of many nutrients that makes raw organic grass fed milk such a healthy food.

Unfortunately, raw milk has been wrongfully demonized as a health hazard, primarily by the conventional dairy industry. It is important to understand that for raw milk to be healthy and safe, it must come from healthy, organically raised cows that graze on pasture.

Drinking unpasteurized milk from cows raised in a CAFO may be lethal. This is due to the differences in the way the cows are raised and fed. Interestingly, high-quality raw organic milk takes advantage of the white blood cell count in raw milk to reduce your risk of food poisoning, something not found in pasteurized milk.

Raw milk also contains large quantities of beneficial bacteria, which you may benefit from during the winter by eating butter and cheese made from raw dairy. RealMilk.com can help you find a local producer of raw milk. There you will also find information about the legal status of raw dairy products in your state. For a further discussion, see “Livestock nutritionist defends raw milk safety,” in which Dr. William Winter and I discuss the safety and benefits of raw milk.

Why Big Pharma is jeopardizing millions of lives for profit

What scientists warned would happen decades ago is coming to pass.1 Antibiotic resistance has become a major threat worldwide and the primary cause of this man-made epidemic is the misuse of antibiotics.2 Pharmaceutical drugs are used to combat bacterial infections in humans and animals, but over the past decades have been widely overprescribed.3

For example, viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics,4 yet many have been prescribed antibiotics for a cold or the flu — both of which are viral.5 According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 30% of the 269 million antibiotic prescriptions written in 2017 were unnecessary.

Antibiotics are also routinely used for growth promotion in livestock and are promoted by pharmaceutical companies as a means of preventing disease in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where illnesses spread quickly.6 Unfortunately, fear is a powerful way to sway and distort reality and ultimately limit the freedom to make choices based on truth.

According to the CDC,7 “Resistant bacteria are more common in settings where antibiotics are frequently used: health care settings, the community and food animal production.” Despite the number of prescriptions written each year, the majority of antibiotics used in the U.S. are found in industrial agriculture.

In the U.S. alone, antibiotic-resistant pathogens conservatively cause 2 million infections annually and lead to 23,000 deaths each year.8 The rise in pan-resistance (resistance to multiple drugs) has increased use of carbapenems, an antibiotic of last resort. Alarmingly, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae are rapidly becoming more common in hospitals.9

Despite these statistics, and the knowledge that overuse of antibiotics in animal production is one of the largest driving forces behind antibiotic-resistant bacteria, pharmaceutical companies continue to push livestock production facilities to use antibiotics to prevent “Pig Zero.”10

Farmers swayed by threat of ‘Pig Zero’

Recognizing that overuse and misuse of antibiotics contributes to the rising threat in drug-resistant infections, in 2017 the World Health Organization issued recommendations to farmers and the food industry to:11

“[S]top using antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals. The new WHO recommendations aim to help preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics that are important for human medicine by reducing their unnecessary use in animals.

In some countries, approximately 80% of total consumption of medically important antibiotics is in the animal sector, largely for growth promotion in healthy animals.”

In the pork Industries trade show held in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies producing drugs for livestock was promoting the opposite message. Posters and brochures warned farmers, “Don’t wait for Pig Zero,”12 referencing a commonly used term in human medicine — “Patient Zero” — the person identified as the first carrier of an infectious disease.

The drugmaker Elanco encouraged farmers to use antibiotics for their herd as a preventative measure, rather than treating a disease outbreak. For industrial farmers, fearful of losing an entire herd in crowded, germ-prone conditions, it’s an appealing idea. The pamphlets detailed how a daily regimen of antibiotics may increase profit as pigs grew heavier and farmers had more meat to sell.13

Elanco is a small spin-off from the larger parent company, Eli Lilly.14 The company is in the midst of developing antibiotic alternatives for animals, such as vaccines and enzymes.15 However, they continue to promote antibiotics in exactly the way global health officials are trying to curb.

Aggressive use of antibiotics in livestock is a primary driving force of antibiotic-resistance. However, Elanco is not alone. For example, rival Zoetis promotes the use of antibiotics to boost weight gain in cattle.16

Dr. Gail Hansen, former state health veterinarian and epidemiologist, equated the problem to climate change, commenting to The New York Times,17 “The reality is that antibiotics and large-scale industrial farming really grew up together. By the time people understand and believe it, it may be too late.”

CAFOs breed antibiotic resistance in livestock

Once The New York Times began asking questions, Elanco decided to switch gears and stop marketing Pig Zero. Shabbir Simjee, Elanco’s chief medical officer told The New York Times18 the antibiotics in the Pig Zero campaign would not be administered without animals showing clinical signs of illness.

He compared the program to a child at a day care center and said, “If one child gets sniffles, you usually find that the whole class ends up with a cold, and this is exactly the same principle.” However, as The New York Times19 so aptly pointed out, the children almost certainly would not be treated with preventive antibiotics and many scientists believe livestock should not be treated this way either.

Gastropod reports that, historically, antibiotics use began in poultry in 1948 when experiments showed the addition increased the growth of chickens 2.5 times faster than those eating a standard diet.20

The news quickly spread, and within a few short years, American farmers were feeding half a million pounds of antibiotics a year to their animals. Scientific American reported one terrifying downside to this practice:21

“Antibiotics seem to be transforming innocent farm animals into disease factories. Recent research shows that segments of DNA conferring drug resistance can jump between different species and strains of bacteria with disturbing ease, an alarming discovery. By simply driving behind chicken transport trucks, scientists collected drug-resistant microbes from the air within their cars.”22

In 2013, 131,000 tons of antibiotics were used worldwide in livestock and it is anticipated this number will rise to 200,000 tons in 2030.23 A study24 found proximity to pig manure increased the chance of becoming infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and 45% of those working with pigs were colonized with MRSA, 30 times greater than the national average.

A study funded by WHO and published in The Lancet25 found if antibiotic use was reduced in food-producing animals, it would reduce the antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in animals by up to 39% and may similarly reduce the bacteria in humans.

FDA rule professes to limit drugs in livestock

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)26 began a voluntary plan recommending industrial farms phase out the use of certain antibiotics in animal feed or drinking water.

The FDA cited the use of antibiotic drugs contributing to the development of antimicrobial resistance and stated they would be issuing a final guidance document. Four years later, in 2017,27 they issued a final rule for their Veterinary Feed Directive, stating they were taking important steps toward fundamental change in how medicinally important antibiotics could be used.

The agency announced it would be moving toward eliminating the use of drugs for production purposes and recommended antibiotics only be used under the supervision of licensed veterinarians. However, the FDA left a very large loophole in place. The FDA wrote:28

“The rule facilitates veterinary oversight in a way that allows for the flexibility needed to accommodate the diversity of circumstances that veterinarians encounter, while at the same time ensuring that veterinarians in all states are conducting such oversight in accordance with nationally consistent principles.”

Federal rule doesn’t go far enough

The New York Times29 reported that former Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, NY-D, who was the only microbiologist serving in Congress before her death, regretted that the FDA’s rules were riddled with loopholes. “It’s useless,” she said of the regulations. “That’s why the industry’s supporting it.”

One year after their final rule, the FDA released data showing a reduction in the amount of medically important antibiotics sold for use in livestock.30 They reported domestic sales had declined by 28% since the first year the FDA started collecting data in 2009. However, the data only represented sales and distribution and not how the drugs were used.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which advocates for restrictions on the use of medically important antibiotics in food production, reports beef and pork Industries continue to be high users.31

The beef industry racked up 2.3 million kilograms (kg) in antibiotic sales in 2017, while pork producers had 2 million kg, compared to 268,000 kg for poultry. Senior attorney at NRDC, Avinash Kar, said in a press release:32

“We are seeing real progress, but the American meat industry continues to have a drug problem and the clock is ticking to solve it. Far more antibiotics important to humans still go to cows and pigs — usually when they’re not sick — than to people, putting the health of every single one of us in jeopardy.

The good news is, the data shows change is possible and can happen quickly. To keep these life-saving drugs working for treating sick patients who need them most, the beef and pork industries have to step up.”

Undersecretary wants focus on promoting Big Pharma

Ellen Silbergeld, Ph.D., a leading American expert in the field of environmental health and professor at Johns Hopkins University, has worked with WHO on drug resistance. She succinctly told The New York Times33 the reason pharmaceutical companies are promoting drugs is simply “money, honey.”34 “That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about.”

Big companies always do well when they have an ally in Washington, and now President Trump has appointed Ted McKinney, one of Elanco’s past executives, as the undersecretary of agriculture.

According to The New York Times, in a meeting in Rome, summer 2018, McKinney told food safety regulators that too much energy was focused on consumers and called for food safety regulators to rededicate their focus on pharmaceutical companies and research scientists as their customers.35

Jeffrey Simmons, Elanco’s chief executive, was invited to a White House summit meeting where he pledged to find antibiotic alternatives. However, while microbiologists, WHO and others emphasize the urgency of fighting antibiotic resistance, Simmons says it must be balanced against food supply.

In an interview, The New York Times36 reports, Simmons said he’s “not doing it for a paycheck or profits. Purpose has to override that.” Yet, in 2018, Simmons’ paycheck was $5.4 million from Elanco in salary and benefits, including a base salary of $775,185, annual equity grant of $1.2 million, $907,450 in bonuses, 1% shareholder payouts, plus shares and options.37,38

What are your options?

The antibiotics fed to livestock and the antibiotic resistant bacteria they create are an antibiotic disaster pharmaceutical companies have a financial incentive to hide. Worldwide, 700,000 people die every year from antibiotic-resistant disease39 and it’s estimated more will be affected by antibiotic-resistant infection than by cancer by 2050.40

You may reduce your own exposure and vote with your pocketbook by avoiding meat produced in CAFOs. Increasingly, consumers are demanding sustainably-sourced, antibiotic-free meat and other animal products. When you choose foods from farmers who are doing it the right way, you may help prompt a real change in the industry.

The NRDC is fighting to reduce the use of antibiotics in factory farms where it is giving rise to numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They report seeing significant progress in the chicken industry but are working hard to reduce use in beef and pork by placing pressure to provide more transparent information about antibiotic practices. You may join the fight by signing their most current petition.

I encourage you to either buy directly from a trusted farmer or look for the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo,41 which provides grass fed standards and certification for meat and dairy grown in the U.S.42 The greater transparency and conformity was prompted by the growth of the industry and a lack of government oversight.43

The AGA logo means the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100% forage and raised on pasture, not in confinement.44 They were not treated with hormones or antibiotics45 and all of the animals were born and raised in America.46 With growing antibiotic resistance, and as CAFOs represent ground zero for their overuse, avoiding these animal products is likely more important now than ever.

Organic food has a plastic problem

The No. 1 reason why people choose to purchase organic products instead of conventional is to avoid pesticides and other chemicals not allowed in organics.1 Indeed, just by often or always eating organic, you may have significantly lower levels of pesticide residues in your body compared to someone who rarely does so.2

The benefits of not using chemical pesticides can’t be overstated, especially as such chemicals are leading environmental pollutants. Worldwide, an estimated 7.7 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and that number is steadily increasing,3,4 even as related problems, like herbicide resistance and widespread water pollution, rise.

Still, farming without chemical pesticides isn’t necessarily easy. “The hardest part about organic [farming] is weed control,” Larry Tse, farm manager at Dig Inn Farm in New York, told NPR.5 As such, many use a barrier method instead, laying down row upon row of plastic sheeting to keep weeds in check. While this doesn’t pose the risks inherent to chemicals, it’s not without controversy and environmental risks of its own.

Plastic weed control used by organic farmers is a source of pollution

Black plastic, sometimes referred to as plastic mulch, is a primary method of weed control for many organic farmers, particularly for tomato, pepper and melon plants. Many grass and perennial weeds are unable to penetrate the plastic, which also prevents sunlight from hitting the ground and stimulating the growth of weeds.

Holes are added that allow the desired plants to flourish, while weeds are kept to a minimum. As an added benefit, the plastic warms the soil, which can speed up plant growth and harvest.

There are irrigation benefits, too, as drip irrigation, which delivers water directly to roots of the plants, acting as a much more efficient form of watering than sprinklers, can easily be used underneath the plastic sheeting. Meanwhile, the plastic sheeting also helps to minimize soil erosion.6

However, there is one glaring problem: What becomes of all that plastic when the growing season ends? Unfortunately, most of it ends up in landfills. This represents a massive amount of plastic waste, as it’s not unusual for large organic farms to spread plastic over thousands of acres. While some have had success with recycling programs, they didn’t last long, leaving landfills as the primary landing point for the plastic.7

Why biodegradable plastic isn’t the answer

It would seem like using biodegradable plastic, which would simply break down over the course of the growing season and become integrated back into the soil, would be an environmentally friendly solution, but biodegradable plastic isn’t allowed under organic rules, because it typically contains petroleum-based materials.

It’s unknown what effects massive amounts of plastic breaking down over agricultural lands would have, but if adverse effects being observed from plastic pollution in marine environments are any indication, the outcome doesn’t look good.

Not surprisingly, representatives from agrochemical giants like BASF, which produces one biodegradable plastic mulch called Ecovio, are regular attendees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP) meetings, hoping to gain approval.

At least one study has shown that biodegradable plastics not only biodegrade in the environment, but also that “Carbon from each monomer unit of PBAT [poly(butylene adipate-co-terephthalate)] was used by soil microorganisms, including filamentous fungi, to gain energy and to form biomass.”8

Research from the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture also revealed that biodegradable mulches did not appear to have major implications on soil health, noting, “soil properties, soil health indicators and soil functions were affected more by site and time than by the mulch treatments.”9

The study evaluated the effects of four biodegradable plastic mulches on soil health at two sites growing pie pumpkins. That being said, some differences were noted, although they weren’t consistent among the biodegradable plastic mulches or the two sites. According to the study:

“[W]e did observe significant effects of some of the mulch treatments on six soil properties (aggregate stability, infiltration, soil pH, electrical conductivity, nitrate-N, and exchangeable potassium), four soil health indicators (hydraulic, biological, fertility, and salinity & sodicity), and one soil function (nutrient cycling).”

The study was only two years, which means it may have been too soon to know what effects plastic breakdown products could have on the environment, and ultimately the impacts of biodegradable plastic mulches on soil health remain completely unknown.

A healthier alternative would be a film made from 100% plant materials — and right now this is the only type of biodegradable mulch allowed under the NOP. Unfortunately, such a solution isn’t widely available, while other natural mulches, such as straw or paper, are often too expensive or labor intensive for farmers.10

Why I’m supporting the expansion of biodynamics

The issue of plastic pollution from organic farming is one reason why I support the expansion of biodynamics, which is superior to organic. While a biodynamic farm could be certified organic, an organic farm would not automatically be classified as biodynamic, as biodynamic has stricter rules and additional requirements.

Biodynamic farming is organic by nature, but it goes even further, operating on the premise that the farm be entirely self-sustaining. In the U.S., biodynamic farms use the USDA organic standard as a foundation but have additional requirements, encompassing the principles of regenerative agriculture and more.

For instance, biodynamic farms must produce at least 50 percent of their own organic animal feed, and 100 percent of the farm must be biodynamic (on the contrary, an organic farmer may raise only one crop as organic). In addition:11

  • Crops and livestock are integrated
  • Animals are treated humanely, and all have access to the outdoors, free range forage and plenty of space to move around
  • At least 10 percent of farm acreage is set aside for biodiversity
  • The farm must uphold standards of social responsibility

One of the key differences even between organic and biodynamic farms is that organic farms may raise only one type of crop, or only crops or livestock. But biodynamic farming brings animals and plants together to form a living web of life, a self-sustaining ecosystem.

“Each biodynamic farm or garden is an integrated, whole, living organism. This organism is made up of many interdependent elements: fields, forests, plants, animals, soils, compost, people and the spirit of the place,” the Biodynamic Association explains, adding:12

“Biodynamic farmers and gardeners work to nurture and harmonize these elements, managing them in a holistic and dynamic way to support the health and vitality of the whole. Biodynamic practitioners also endeavor to listen to the land, to sense what may want to emerge through it, and to develop and evolve their farm as a unique individuality.”

What do biodynamic farms use for weed control?

Biodynamic farms are, by nature, grass fed farms, but the American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo is another tool you can use to find grass fed products. The AGA logo on a product lets you know the animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100 percent forage, were raised on pasture (not in confinement) and were not treated with hormones or antibiotics.13

In the U.S., Demeter USA is the only certifier for biodynamic farms and products. While largely unknown in the U.S., Demeter is well-recognized within Central Europe.

In Germany, 10 percent of the organic farmland is biodynamic, and there are even Demeter stores. At this time, most Demeter members are small family farms that only sell locally or regionally. As for weed control, according to the Demeter biodynamic farm standard:14

“The foundation of weed control needs to be based on strategies that emphasize prevention located within the life of the farm. When applicable, the following techniques need to be demonstrably utilized to their maximum potential before allowed weed control materials (including petroleum to run tractors) may be imported.

Understanding of weed species life cycle/ timing of planting

Adjusting fertility conditions that promote certain weed species

Shade/ crop canopy

Mulching

Crop rotation

Identifying and avoiding the spread of invasive weed species

Grazing

Irrigation

Understanding the life cycle of a weed species is a very important tool in controlling a weed species. By knowing when a weed species is the most virulent, loss can be avoided by the timing of planting and also by breaking the life cycle of the weed.”

As for plastic mulch, in particular, biodynamic farming suggests that mulching materials should come from the farm and be chosen with care. Demeter states that imported synthetic mulch materials that restrict oxygen to the soil below should “be used with caution,” adding:15

“If synthetic mulch materials are used, they must be pulled up annually and not allowed to break down into the soil. In this case, it is preferable that the materials are durable enough to be reused annually. The materials must not inhibit the biological dynamics of the soil below.”

Supporting biodynamic agriculture

The vision of Demeter is to heal the planet through agriculture, and we can do that by transitioning farming from conventional to not only organic but ultimately to biodynamic. This is why Mercola.com is increasingly introducing biodynamic products. We started with Moringa powder and are releasing a full line of biodynamics under Solspring, including biodynamic vinegar, Kalamata olives, extra-virgin olive oil and more.

In addition, we’re partnering with Marci Zaroff, founder of the first organically certified textile mill in the U.S., to create biodynamic cotton for our SITO line of clothing. SITO stands for Soil, Integrity, Textile and Organic, and its mission is to take a stand for organic cotton and regenerative agriculture.

If you want to learn more about biodynamic farming and why it’s a step above organic, be sure to watch my interview with Elizabeth Candelario, managing director for Demeter USA, which discusses the history of biodynamic farming and why biodynamic certification is the mark of a superior product.

Google buries Mercola in their latest search engine update, Part 2 of 2

For the first part of this two-part article, see yesterday’s post, “Google buries Mercola in their latest search engine update,’ Part 1 of 2.” In Part 1, I discussed the effects Google’s June 2019 broad core algorithm update and updated quality rater guidelines is having on traffic to this site.

As mentioned in Part 1, Google’s “quality raters” are now manually lowering the ranking of undesirable content and buries even expert views if they’re deemed “harmful” to the public.

Google raters use Wikipedia for ‘expertise’ and ‘trustworthiness’

One of the primary sources Google’s quality raters are instructed to use when assessing the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of an author or website is Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia.” Excerpts from my Wikipedia page read:1

“Joseph Michael Mercola (born 1954) is an alternative medicine proponent, osteopathic physician, and Web entrepreneur, who markets a variety of controversial dietary supplements and medical devices through his website, Mercola.com …

Mercola criticizes many aspects of standard medical practice, such as vaccination and what he views as overuse of prescription drugs and surgery to treat diseases.

On his website mercola.com, Mercola and colleagues advocate a number of unproven alternative health notions including homeopathy, and anti-vaccine positions … Mercola’s medical claims have been criticized by business, regulatory, medical, and scientific communities.”

RationalWiki, the stated purpose of which is to analyze and refute “pseudoscience and the anti-science movement” presents me as:2

“[A] member of the right-wing quack outfit Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Mercola advocates and provides a forum for many classic crank medical ideas, such as vaccine hysteria and the belief that modern (sorry, “allopathic”) medicine kills more people than it helps. His website is a veritable spring of pseudoscience, quackery, and logical fallacies. He is also a promoter of the idea of an AMA/Big Pharma/FDA conspiracy.”

It comes as no surprise then that Mercola.com is listed as one of the biggest losers in Google’s June 2019 core algorithm update.3 Since its implementation, Google traffic to my site has dropped by approximately 99%, as no Mercola.com pages will now appear in search results using keywords only.

To have any chance of finding my articles using Google search, you have to add “Mercola.com” to your search term (example: “Mercola.com heart disease” or “Mercola.com Type 2 diabetes”). Even skipping the “.com” will minimize relevant search results.

Wikipedia isn’t what it pretends to be


While Wikipedia started out as a great idea, and has become a primary source of information for many, all is not as it seems in Wiki Land. In the 2016 Full Measure article4 “The Dark Side of Wikipedia,” investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson exposed the fact that Wikipedia is censoring information and crafting narratives to benefit certain groups:

“The promise of accurate, neutral articles and privacy for contributors is often just a mirage, according to two insiders. They say they’ve been left battle-scarred after troubling personal encounters with the world’s most popular encyclopedia. It’s billed as ‘the encyclopedia anyone can edit.’ But for many, it’s the opposite.”

While Google’s censoring of content is a more recent phenomenon, Wikipedia has been censoring information and blocking editors since the beginning. According to Greg Kohs, one of the insiders interviewed by Attkisson, about 1,000 users are blocked from the platform on any given day.5 Attkisson writes:

“When Kohs ran afoul of Wikipedia, he was drawn into an unseen cyberworld. One where he says volunteer editors dole out punishment and retaliation, privacy is violated and special interests control information.”

As reported by Attkisson, Wikipedia is often edited by people with a very specific agenda, and anyone who tries to clarify or clear up inaccuracies on the site is simply blocked. The reality is a far cry from Wikipedia’s public promise, which is to provide readers with unbiased information.

‘Inmates running the asylum’

Even Lawrence (Larry) Sanger, who co-founded Wikipedia in 2001, bailed ship the very next year,6 saying “trolls sort of took over” the site, that “The inmates started running the asylum,”7 and that “In some fields and some topics, there are groups who ‘squat’ on articles and insist on making them reflect their own specific biases.”8,9

Earlier this year, Sanger told 150Sec he and co-founder Jimmy Wales tried to “figure out how to rein in the bad actors.” He admits they were never able to devise a good strategy for that, and as a result, “Wikipedia is a broken system.”10,11 Full Measure reports:12

“In Wikipedia’s world, the ruling authorities are the hundreds of volunteer editors who’ve reached the most powerful editing status. They’re called ‘administrators,’ known only by their pseudonyms or user names. They always win the edit wars.

Sharyl: The more edits you make, the longer you’ve been making them, the more power you’re going to have? Kohs: Yes.

But what happens when powerful editors improperly control content? Kohs: You’ll have different people with a particular scientific point of view and they’ll edit and modify Wikipedia so that its articles kind of reflect that point of view …

Two trusted Wikipedia officials were exposed running businesses that covertly edited Wikipedia for PR clients. Interests for Sony, the CIA, the Vatican, Barack Obama and John McCain all reportedly have been caught secretly editing their own Wikipedia pages to their advantage.

And anonymous Wikipedia editors maintain a stranglehold on selected topics … One study found mistakes in nine out of ten Wikipedia medical entries. Millions of dollars can depend on how an idea or product is portrayed within the computer pages …

Kohs: When you read Wikipedia, you have to be aware that the people who are writing it, who don’t identify themselves, who don’t necessarily have any credentials to be writing in the subject matter that they’ve chosen to write in, are very often pushing an agenda.”

Wikipedia is controlled by special interests


Three years later, May 25, 2019, Attkisson wrote13 about her own struggles with Wikipedia. She also discussed it in a TedX talk (above) on astroturf tools. “My own battle with Wikipedia included being unable to correct provably false facts such as incorrect job history, incorrect birth place and incorrect birth date,” she writes, adding:14

What’s worse is that agenda editors related to pharmaceutical interests and the partisan blog Media Matters control my Wikipedia biographical page, making sure that slanted or false information stays on it. For example, they falsely refer to my reporting as ‘anti-vaccine,’ and imply my reporting on the topic has been discredited.

In fact, my vaccine and medical reporting has been recognized by top national journalism awards organizations, and has even been cited as a source in a peer reviewed scientific publication. However, anyone who tries to edit this factual context and footnotes onto my page finds it is quickly removed.

What persists on my page, however, are sources that are supposedly disallowed by Wikipedia’s policies. They include citations by Media Matters, with no disclosure that it’s a partisan blog.

Another entity quoted on my Wikipedia biographical page to disparage my work is the vaccine industry’s Dr. Paul Offit. But there’s no mention of the lawsuits filed15 against Offit for libel (one prompted him to apologize and correct his book), or the fact that he provided false information about his work and my reporting to the Orange County Register, which later corrected16 its article.

Obviously, these facts would normally make Offit an unreliable source, but for Wikipedia, he’s presented as if an unconflicted expert. In fact, Wikipedia doesn’t even mention that’s Offit is a vaccine industry insider who’s made millions of dollars off of vaccines …

The powerful interests that ‘watch’ and control the pages make sure Offit’s background is whitewashed and that mine is subtly tarnished. They will revert or change any edits that attempt to correct the record.”

Sanger believes the solution to the Wikipedia problem is a decentralized blockchain system where edits are approved by a community. This is how Everipedia, which Sanger joined in 2017, is run. He told 150Sec:17

“Since last July, every edit to Everipedia has had to be approved by the community of IQ token-holders. ‘IQ’ is the Everipedia token, or cryptocurrency. If someone uploads nonsense or copyrighted text, we downvote it. This already provides for a layer of editorial oversight that Wikipedia lacks.

We have barely even started to explore what will be possible when there is no centralized control of editorial policy, when editorial decisions are made according to various smart contract-driven systems, and when participation in the system is remunerated by the system itself.”

Wikipedia co-founder openly hostile against holistic medicine

As early as 2010, the Alliance for Natural Health pointed out the impossibility of finding “information that isn’t heavily biased toward conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry” on Wikipedia,18 and matters certainly have not improved in the years since. If anything, they’ve gotten much, much worse.

Still, even back then, ANH gave several examples of the blatant censorship of holistic medicine. As just one example, the president of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine was prevented from posting positive information about antiaging derived from the academy’s own research.

From where I stand, it seems Sanger’s co-founding partner, Wales, is part of the problem. Wales is openly hostile against holistic medicine, and in 2014 rejected a Change.org petition to bring in more positive discussion of holistic medicine on Wikipedia. As reported by Business Insider:19

“The petition, which has nearly 8,000 supporters, calls for people to stop donating to Wikipedia in response to what it called ‘biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong’ information about holistic approaches to healing.”

Wales’ response:20

“No, you have to be kidding me … Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals — that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately. What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of ‘true scientific discourse’. It isn’t.”

Google funds Wikipedia

Considering Wikipedia’s history of bias and its incredibly effective blocking of opposing views, no matter how factual, it’s not surprising that Wikipedia is Google’s chosen arbiter of expertise and credibility. It also means the whole “quality rating” system Google has set up is rotten from the ground up, as its quality raters are instructed to base their quality decisions on an already biased source.

As reported by Tech Crunch,21 in January 2019, Google donated $2 million to Wikimedia Endowment, Wikipedia’s parent organization, and another $1.1 million to the Wikimedia Foundation. Together, Wikipedia and Google are also working on Project Tiger, which will expand Wikipedia’s content into more languages. In a blog post, Google president Jacquelline Fuller wrote:22

“While efforts to empower editors will help them continue to add more information and knowledge to the web, we also aim to support the long-term health of the Wikimedia projects so they are available for generations to come.”

In other words, biased Wikipedia editors will receive even more support, and with the backing and injections of funding from Google, Wikipedia will be in an excellent position to further the stranglehold on natural health in years to come.

Antitrust complaints ignored

As mentioned in part 1, Google is the largest monopoly in the world. Yet while the European Union successfully raised antitrust charges against Google, resulting in a $2.7 billion fine — and this despite the revolving door between Google and EU policy advisers23 — the U.S. has continued to look the other way.

The Federal Trade Commission investigation that took place during the Obama administration, for example, resulted in no formal action whatsoever.24 One possible reason for this, Music Technology Policy25 suggested back in 2016, could be because Google managed to install one of its former lawyers in the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division, thereby protecting the company’s interests.

The revolving door swings both ways, of course. In 2007, Google paid Makan Delrahim — a lawyer and current deputy assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s antitrust division — $100,00026 to lobby for the approval of its acquisition of DoubleClick, which was under antitrust review.27,28 Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has also pointed out that Delrahim lobbied on behalf of Apple in 2006 and 2007.

As reported by The New York Times29 and The Verge,30 Delrahim “is now facing pressure to recuse himself if the Justice Department pursues an investigation …” A study31 by Public Citizen published May 23, 2019, found a whopping 59% of FTC officials entered into financial relationships with technology companies after leaving the agency.

All of this brings us to the issue of monopolization and the corruption that inevitably follows.32 It is very clear that there is no company operating in breach of antitrust rules as blatantly as Google. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and this adage certainly fits when describing Google. As reported by The Washington Post in 2017:33

“Google has established a pattern of lobbying and threatening to acquire power. It has reached a dangerous point … The moment where it no longer wants to allow dissent …

Once you reach a pinnacle of power, you start to believe that any threats to your authority are themselves villainous and that you are entitled to shut down dissent. As Lord Acton famously said, ‘Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.’ Those with too much power cannot help but be evil.

Google, the company dedicated to free expression, has chosen to silence opposition, apparently without any sense of irony … [I]n recent years, Google has become greedy about owning not just search capacities, video and maps, but also the shape of public discourse.”

Google recruits law professors to defend its corporate views

To help sway public opinion and policy, Google has also recruited law professors to back up and promote its views. According to a 2017 Campaign for Accountability report,34 Google has paid academics in both the U.S. and Europe millions of dollars to influence public opinion and policymakers alike.35,36

This includes funding research papers “that appear to support the technology company’s business interests and defend against regulatory challenges such as antitrust and anti-piracy.” Some of these academics have not declared the source of their funding, even though payments have reached as high as $400,000.37 As noted by The Times:38

On one occasion Eric Schmidt, Google’s former chief executive, cited a Google-funded author in written answers to Congress to back his claim that his company was not a monopoly — without mentioning that it had paid for the paper …”

‘Tech giants amass lobbying army’

Power can be assessed by looking at lobbying expenditures and Google is leading the pack when it comes to corporate spending on lobbying — efforts primarily aimed at eliminating competitors and gaining power over others. Google also appears to take full advantage of its power over organizations that it helps fund, which is one reason to be suspicious of its donations to Wikipedia.

According to a June 5, 2019, article39 in The New York Times, “[F]our of the biggest technology companies are amassing an army of lobbyists as they prepare for what could be an epic fight over their futures.” The four companies in question are Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. Combined, these four tech giants spent $55 million on lobbying in 2018 — double what they spent in 2016. The New York Times continues:40

“As they have tracked increasing public and political discontent with their size, power, handling of user data and role in elections, the four companies have intensified their efforts to lure lobbyists with strong connections to the White House, the regulatory agencies, and Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Of the 238 people registered to lobby for the four companies in the first three months of this year … about 75 percent formerly served in the government or on political campaigns … Many worked in offices or for officials who could have a hand in deciding the course of the new governmental scrutiny.

The influence campaigns encompass a broad range of activities, including calls on members of Congress, advertising, funding of think-tank research and efforts to get the attention of President Trump …”

Earlier this week, the threat of government action became more real, driving down their stock prices. The House Judiciary Committee announced a broad antitrust investigation into big tech.

And the two top federal antitrust agencies agreed to divide oversight over Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google as they explore whether the companies have abused their market power to harm competition and consumers …

The industry’s troubles mean big paydays for the lawyers, political operatives and public relations experts hired to ward off regulations, investigations and lawsuits that could curtail the companies’ huge profits.”

Going forward, the DOJ will be investigating Google and Apple — conveniently, the two companies that antitrust department head Delrahim lobbied for in the past — while the Federal Trade Commission will have jurisdiction over Amazon and Facebook.

Google — An integral part of the national security state?

Google could potentially also garner some protection or aid from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). According to an Aljazeera report41 published in 2014, emails reveal a cozy relationship between Google and the NSA, with coordination occurring at the highest levels.

Two years later, in March 2016, Wired reported42 the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet and former Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, had been chosen by the Pentagon to chair its new Defense Innovation Advisory Board. According to a Pentagon press release:43

“The board will seek to advise the department on areas that are deeply familiar to Silicon Valley companies, such as rapid prototyping, iterative product development, complex data analysis in business decision making, the use of mobile and cloud applications, and organizational information sharing.”

Google is not what it seems

In his article,44 “Google is not what it seems,” Wikileaks founder Julian Assange also details “the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department.” I recommend reading through this detailed and comprehensive analysis for your own edification. The article is an extract from his book, “When Google Met Wikileaks.” He writes in part:

“Google is ‘different.’ Google is ‘visionary.’ Google is ‘the future.’ Google is ‘more than just a company.’ Google ‘gives back to the community.’ Google is ‘a force for good’ … The company’s reputation is seemingly unassailable. Google’s colorful, playful logo is imprinted on human retinas just under six billion times each day, 2.1 trillion times a year — an opportunity for respondent conditioning enjoyed by no other company in history.

Caught red-handed … making petabytes of personal data available to the US intelligence community through the PRISM program, Google nevertheless continues to coast on the goodwill generated by its ‘don’t be evil’ doublespeak …

Even anti-surveillance campaigners cannot help themselves, at once condemning government spying but trying to alter Google’s invasive surveillance practices using appeasement strategies. Nobody wants to acknowledge that Google has grown big and bad. But it has.

Schmidt’s tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of US power structures as it expanded into a geographically invasive megacorporation. But Google has always been comfortable with this proximity.

Long before company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Schmidt in 2001, their initial research upon which Google was based had been partly funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

And even as Schmidt’s Google developed an image as the overly friendly giant of global tech, it was building a close relationship with the intelligence community. In 2003 the US National Security Agency (NSA) had already started systematically violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) under its director General Michael Hayden.

These were the days of the ‘Total Information Awareness’ program. Before PRISM was ever dreamed of … the NSA was already aiming to ‘collect it all, sniff it all, know it all, process it all, exploit it all.’

During the same period, Google — whose publicly declared corporate mission is to collect and ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ — was accepting NSA money to the tune of $2 million to provide the agency with search tools for its rapidly accreting hoard of stolen knowledge.”

Assange also points out what he calls a “crucial detail” in the media’s reporting on the email correspondence between Schmidt, Google co-founder Sergei Brin and NSA chief general Keith Alexander:

“‘Your insights as a key member of the Defense Industrial Base,’ Alexander wrote to Brin, ‘are valuable to ensure ESF’s [Enduring Security Framework program] efforts have measurable impact’ …

The Department of Homeland Security defines the Defense Industrial Base as ‘the worldwide industrial complex that enables research and development, as well as design, production, delivery, and maintenance of military weapons systems, subsystems, and components or parts, to meet U.S. military requirements’ [emphasis added].

The Defense Industrial Base provides ‘products and services that are essential to mobilize, deploy, and sustain military operations.’ Does it include regular commercial services purchased by the US military?

No. The definition specifically excludes the purchase of regular commercial services. Whatever makes Google a ‘key member of the Defense Industrial Base,’ it is not recruitment campaigns pushed out through Google AdWords or soldiers checking their Gmail …

Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower. As Google’s search and internet service monopoly grows, and as it enlarges its industrial surveillance cone to cover the majority of the world’s population … and racing to extend internet access in the global south, Google is steadily becoming the internet for many people.

Its influence on the choices and behavior of the totality of individual human beings translates to real power to influence the course of history. If the future of the internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world … for whom the internet embodies the promise of an alternative to US cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.”

Decentralization is key — And it’s coming

Just as Sanger realized a decentralized system is the best way to create a new, more bias-resilient version of Wikipedia,45 others have realized a decentralized web is the answer to Google’s monopoly, growing censorship and rapidly deteriorating privacy online.

A June 3, 2019 article46 on Mediapost.com presents the ideas of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Vint Cerf and Brewster Kahle — three early web inventors — who are actively trying to devise ways to “protect and rebuild the open nature of the web.”

Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web, had originally envisioned it as an open source space. Realizing how private corporations have locked it down, he’s now working on another, decentralized, internet solution.47 As reported by Mediapost.com:48

“‘We demonstrated that the web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done,’ Berners-Lee told Vanity Fair. The web has ‘ended up producing — [through] no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform — a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human.’

So, they’re out to fix it, working on what they call the Dweb. The ‘d’ in Dweb stands for distributed. In distributed systems, no one entity has control over the participation of any other entity. Berners-Lee is building a platform called Solid, designed to give people control over their own data.

Other global projects also have the goal of taking take back the public web. Mastodon is decentralized Twitter. Peertube is a decentralized alternative to YouTube. This July 18 – 21, web activists plan to convene at the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco …

Last year’s Dweb gathering convened more than 900 developers, activists, artists, researchers, lawyers, and students. Kahle opened the gathering by reminding attendees that the web used to be a place where everyone could play.

‘Today, I no longer feel like a player, I feel like I’m being played. Let’s build a decentralized web, let’s build a system we can depend on, a system that doesn’t feel creepy’ he said …”

Boycott Google and support decentralized initiatives

Why does Google and its allies fear Mercola.com and feel the need to censor the information we provide? I believe the Wikipedia page created about me and held hostage by my detractors offer strong hints at the parties that would like to shut me up by shutting me down.

In the end, it’s going to come down to a battle between those wanting to concentrate power against those trying to decentralize it. If we work together to boycott them, Google will crumble under its own colossal weight.

Boycott Google by avoiding any and all Google products:

? Stop using Google search engines. Alternatives include DuckDuckGo49 and Startpage50

? Uninstall Google Chrome and use the Opera browser instead, available for all computers and mobile devices.51 From a security perspective, Opera is far superior to Chrome and offers a free VPN service (virtual private network) to further preserve your privacy

? If you have a Gmail account, close it and open an account with a non-Google affiliated email service such as ProtonMail,52 and encrypted email service based in Switzerland

? Stop using Google docs. Digital Trends has published an article suggesting a number of alternatives53

? If you’re a high school student, do not convert the Google accounts you created as a student into personal accounts

Sign the “Don’t be evil” petition created by Citizens Against Monopoly

How to find Mercola.com articles moving forward

As mentioned in part 1 and at the beginning of this article, you can no longer get any of my articles using keyword searches only in a Google-based search engine. You can also see the impact over the years in the graph below.

google graph

To find my articles, you have to add “Mercola.com” to your search term (example: “Mercola.com heart disease” or “Mercola.com Type 2 diabetes”). Even skipping the “.com” will minimize your search results. So, moving forward, here are a few suggestions for how to stay connected:

  • Become a subscriber to my newsletter and encourage your friends and family to do the same. This is the easiest and safest way to make sure you’ll stay up to date on important health and environmental issues.
  • If you have any friends or relatives who are seriously interested in their health, share important articles with them and encourage them subscribe to our newsletter.
  • Nearly all major search engines except Yahoo! and Bing use Google as their primary engines, so if you use them, be sure to type mercola.com in your search query. This way, you will still find our deeply buried content. Remember, relevant Mercola.com articles will NOT show when you’re using a keyword search alone anymore.
  • Use the internal Mercola.com search engine when searching for articles on my site.

GMO wheat and frankenfish are here to stay

Genetically engineered crops are widespread in the U.S., particularly when it comes to GE corn, soybeans and cotton, but one crop that has not been approved as a genetically modified organism is wheat.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “There are no GE wheat varieties for sale or in commercial production in the United States at this time, as APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] has not deregulated any GE wheat varieties.”1

So why, then, did the USDA recently confirm that unapproved GE wheat plants had been discovered growing in an agricultural field in Washington state?2

Rogue GE wheat discovered in Washington state

One of the inevitable truths about nature is that nothing exists in a bubble, and when GE crops are introduced into the wild, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to contain them. The discovery of GE wheat growing in an unplanted agricultural field in Washington is one unsettling example. The GE wheat, which is resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, is likely a remnant from a former field trial.

“USDA is collaborating with our state, industry and trading partners, and we are committed to providing all our partners with timely and transparent information about our findings,” the public health agency said in a statement, adding, “There is no evidence that GE wheat has entered the food supply.”3

In the 1990s, Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer in 2018, developed GE wheat with a trait that makes it resistant to glyphosate. Although the GE wheat never received approval and was not developed commercially, it was evaluated, according to Monsanto, in a limited number of field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001.4

However, according to a December 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service, the USDA’s APHIS granted Monsanto approval to test GE wheat in about 100 field trials spread throughout 16 states between 1998 and 2005.

What’s more, the GE wheat detected in Washington state is not the first time Monsanto’s GE wheat has shown up in unexpected places. The first time was in 2013, when GE wheat was found in Oregon. While Oregon was one state on the approval list for field trials, the field where the GE wheat was originally detected was not one of the areas used for such trials.5

In fact, it was only detected because a farmer who sprayed his 80-acre field with glyphosate discovered wheat plants that were volunteers (i.e., they came up on their own) and were not killed by glyphosate. He took samples of the wheat plants to Oregon State University, where scientists tested them and found the potential presence of GE glyphosate-tolerance in the plants.

The scientists then notified APHIS, which formally investigated and found the plants were one of Monsanto’s GE glyphosate-tolerant wheat varieties used in field trials.6

In 2014, GE wheat was again discovered, this time in Montana. In 2016, the USDA also confirmed the detection of GE wheat plants — 22 of them in all, which were found in a field in Washington state.7 GE wheat also popped up in Alberta, Canada, in 2018, before most recently making another appearance in Washington state.8

GE wheat contamination could have major trade implications

If GE wheat were to show up in U.S. wheat exports, it could have serious implications for trade. Wheat is a major crop for the U.S., ranking third among field crops, behind only corn and soybeans. In 2018 to 2019 alone, U.S. farmers produced an estimated 1.884 billion bushels of winter, spring and durum wheat, planted on 47.8 million acres of land.9

While the U.S. produces only about 7% of the world’s wheat, it ranks among the top three global wheat exporters.10 However, this would likely change if evidence of GE wheat contamination was found.

Japan, the European Union, South Korea and many other countries have a zero-tolerance policy about importing unapproved GE wheat. When such plants were first detected in Oregon, Japan and South Korea temporarily suspended purchase of U.S. soft white wheat grown in the Pacific Northwest.11

It’s similar to what happened in 2006, when traces of unapproved GE rice were discovered in the U.S. rice harvest. This led to several countries banning U.S. grown rice and exporters lost millions of dollars as a result. Bayer, the company responsible for developing and field testing the GE rice, ended up agreeing to pay $750 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by 11,000 rice farmers.12

As for the rogue GE wheat, in 2014 Monsanto also agreed to pay $250,000 to wheat growers’ associations along with $2.1 million into a settlement fund for farmers of soft white wheat in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.13 Since then, the USDA claims it has strengthened its oversight of GE wheat field trials, noting:14

“After previous detections of GE wheat, USDA strengthened its oversight of regulated GE wheat field trials. APHIS now requires developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat beginning with GE wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016.

Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that ensure confinement and minimize the risk that the regulated GE wheat will persist in the environment.”

Concerns with GE wheat

As for why GE wheat has not become a staple crop like GE corn and soy, the USDA cited wheat’s “complex genetics” and consumers’ wariness of GMOs in the food supply:15

“Genetic improvement has been slower for wheat due to the food grain’s significantly more complex genetics and lower potential returns from research investments. Farmers grow wheat primarily for human food use, and U.S. food processors are wary of consumer reaction to products containing genetically modified (GM) wheat. No GM wheat is commercially grown in the United States.”

Already, however, serious concerns have been raised over the creation of GE wheat, including one type developed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The wheat, which was altered to silence wheat genes in order to change its carbohydrate content, could match human genes and potentially silence them.16

University of Canterbury professor Jack Heinemann, who led the study, explained at a news conference, “What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes. The findings are absolutely assured. There is no doubt that these matches exist.”17

RNA is one of three major macromolecules, like DNA. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is responsible for regulating a sizable quantity of human genes.

Writing in the journal Environmental International, Heinemann and colleagues explained that while many commercial GE plants are currently created through in vitro DNA modification to create a new protein, some are designed to change their RNA content in order to regulate gene expression.

The technique, known as RNA interference or RNA knockdown, essentially turns off or “knocks down” certain genes, raising the potential for serious risks:18

“While some GMOs have been designed to make new dsRNA molecules, in other GMOs such molecules may occur as a side-effect of the genetic engineering process. Still others may make naturally-occurring dsRNA molecules in higher or lower quantities than before. Some dsRNA molecules can have profound physiological effects on the organism that makes them.

Physiological effects are the intended outcomes of exposure to dsRNA incorporated into food sources for invertebrates; biopesticides and other topically applied products, and could be the cause of off-target effects and adverse effects in non-target organisms. ‘A daunting outcome is raised, that each [dsRNA] formulation might have its own risks.’

… Production of intended dsRNA molecules may also have off-target effects due to silencing genes other than those intended. Unanticipated off-target adverse effects can be difficult to detect and they are not possible to reliably predict using bioinformatics techniques. Regulatory bodies are not adequately assessing the risks of dsRNA-producing GM products.”

Frankenfish arrive in US

In November 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved AquaBounty salmon, a GE “frankenfish” that is engineered to grow about twice as fast as typical farm-raised salmon, a feat achieved by inserting the DNA from two other fish, a growth-promoting gene from a Chinook salmon and a “promoter” gene from the eel-like ocean pout.

This genetic tweaking results in fish with always-on growth hormone, and because they grow so much faster than other salmon, they also require less food. The GE fish have already been sold and eaten in Canada,19 but a rider attached to an Alaskan budget bill imposed an import ban, effectively blocking the FDA from allowing GE salmon into the U.S.

The import ban was lifted by the FDA in March 2019, with FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stating, “[T]his fish is safe to eat, the genetic construct added to the fish’s genome is safe for the animal, and the manufacturer’s claim that it reaches a growth marker important to the aquaculture industry more rapidly than its non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon counterpart is confirmed.20

AquaBounty, meanwhile, acquired a fish farm in Albany, Indiana, where eggs intended to grow the first GE salmon for human consumption in the U.S. arrived in May 2019. AquaBounty plans to begin harvesting the GE salmon in late 2020.21 In 2013 a New York Times poll revealed that 75 percent of respondents would not eat GE fish and 93 percent said such foods should be labeled as such.22

Frankenfish to be called ‘bioengineered’

As for labeling, the USDA included AquaBounty’s salmon on a list of foods that must be labeled “bioengineered” (BE), which only refers to a food that has had another organism’s genes spliced into it by a process called transgenesis. Other types of genetic engineering do not need to be labeled at all.

As noted by The Non-GMO Project executive director Megan Westgate, the USDA’s GMO labeling law “jeopardizes GMO transparency for Americans:”23

“In its current form, categorical exemptions prevent this law from delivering the meaningful protections Americans deserve. Highly processed ingredients, many products of new genetic engineering techniques such as CRISPR and TALEN, and many meat and dairy products will not require disclosure.”

More than 80 retailers, including Aldi, Costco, Kroger and Meijer, have policies against selling GE seafood, and tribal communities have also spoken out against the GE fish, which were created without any tribal consultations. As reported by Friends of the Earth, Fawn Sharp, president of the Quinault Indian Nation, stated:24

“The FDA’s unilateral decision, without tribal consultation, is an alarming signal that our sacred and prized wild salmon is now even more vulnerable to external markets and ecological threats. It’s unconscionable and arrogant to think man can improve upon our Creator’s perfection in wild salmon as a justification and excuse to satisfy corporate ambition and greed.”

How to opt out of GMOs in your food

If you’re wondering how can you tell whether salmon is wild or farm-raised, the flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of its natural astaxanthin content. It’s also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed.

Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” currently come from fish farms, as well as “bioengineered salmon.” As for wheat, there’s currently no GE wheat being commercially sold, although contamination is possible. However, be aware that glyphosate is commonly used as a desiccant on many non-GMO crops, including wheat.

In northern, colder regions farmers of wheat and barley must wait for their crops to dry out prior to harvest. Rather than wait an additional two weeks or so for this to happen naturally, farmers realized they could spray the plants with glyphosate, killing the crop and accelerating their drying (a process known as desiccating).

As such, non-GMO foods may be even more contaminated with glyphosate than GMO crops, because they’re being sprayed just weeks before being made into your cereal, bread, cookies and the like.25 In order to avoid a dose of glyphosate residue in your wheat products, choose only organic or biodynamically grown wheat.

Google buries Mercola in their latest search engine update, Part 1 of 2

Over the years, the government and business monopolies, including the likes of Big Tech, have formed a global alliance hell-bent on protecting and concentrating member profits. The price for keeping business going as usual is personal liberty and freedom of speech that may impact these fascist government-industrial complexes.

The major industries colluding to take over the government and government agencies include banking, military, agriculture, pharma, media and Big Tech.

The leaders of these industries have organized strategies to buy off politicians through lobbying and to capture regulatory agencies through revolving door hiring strategies and paid-for media influence through advertising dollars.

Big Tech has joined the movement, bringing in a global concentration of wealth to eliminate competition and critical voices — voices that bring awareness to the frightening future as our rights, freedoms and competition erode into a fascist sunset, all disguised as a means to protect you from “misinformation.”

This year, we’ve seen an unprecedented push to implement censorship across all online platforms, making it increasingly difficult to obtain and share crucial information about health topics. If you’ve been having difficulty finding articles from my website in your Google searchers of late, you’re not alone.

Google traffic to Mercola.com has plummeted by about 99% over the past few weeks. The reason? Google’s June 2019 broad core update, which took effect June 3,1 removed most Mercola.com pages from its search results. As reported by Telaposts.com:2

“The June 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update impacted the rankings of websites in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages. Several aspects of the algorithm were changed which caused some sites to gain visibility and others to lose visibility.

Generally speaking, sites negatively impacted will see a drop in rankings for many or all of important keywords or key phrases which they used to rank well for … The June 2019 Google Broad Core Algorithm Update impacted sites across the web, however, I am personally seeing the most impact on News and Health sites.”

Mercola.com targeted in Google’s latest core algorithm update

Now, any time you enter a health-related search word into Google, such as “heart disease” or “Type 2 diabetes,” you will not find Mercola.com articles in the search results. The only way to locate any of my articles at this point is by searching for “Mercola.com heart disease,” or “Mercola.com Type 2 diabetes.”

Even skipping the “.com” will minimize your search results, and oftentimes the only pages you’ll get are blogs, not my full peer-reviewed articles. Negative press by skeptics has also been upgraded, which means if you simply type in my name none of my articles will come but what you will find are a deluge of negative articles voicing critiques against me in your searches. Try entering my name in Yahoo or Bing and you will see completely different results.

As explained by Telapost,3 a core update “is when Google makes several changes to their main (core) algorithm.” In the past, Google search results were based on crowdsource relevance. An article would ascend in rank based on the number of people who clicked on it.

Traditionally, if you produced unique and high-quality content that matched what people were looking for, you were rewarded by ranking in the top of search results. You would find Mercola.com near the top of nearly any health search results.

So, let’s say one of my articles on diabetes was seventh on the page for your search; if more people clicked on that link than, say, an article listed in third or fifth place, my article would move up in rank. In a nutshell, Google search results were, at least in part, based on popularity.

That’s no longer the case. Instead, Google is now manually lowering the ranking of undesirable content, largely based on Wikipedia’s assessment of the author or site.

Wikipedia’s founder and anonymous editors are well-known to have extreme bias against natural health content and authors. Google also contributes heavily to funding Wikipedia, and Wikipedia is near the top of nearly all searches — despite the anonymous aspect of contributors. Who better to trust than a bunch of unknown, unqualified contributors?

Wikipedia’s co-founder even admits these bad actors have made it a “broken system.”4 Why would Google give such credibility to a platform that even its own founder says is broken and overrun with bad actors?

Google’s new quality rater guidelines are a death knell for experts whose views threaten industry profits

Another major change was Google’s 2019 quality rater guidelines,5,6 released May 16. What are these guidelines? As explained by Telapost:7

“Google hires ‘quality raters,’ people who visit websites and evaluate their quality. Their feedback doesn’t directly impact your site; it goes to engineers who update the Google algorithm in an effort to display great websites to their users. The guidelines give us great insight as to what Google considers a quality web page.”

One significant change: Google now buries expert views if they’re deemed “harmful” to the public. As explained by The SEM post:8

“There has been a lot of talk about author expertise when it comes to the quality rater guidelines … This section has been changed substantially … [I]f the purpose of the page is harmful, then expertise doesn’t matter. It should be rated Lowest!”

Google used to rank pages based on whether an author could prove their expertise based on how many people visited a page or the number of other reputable sites that linked to that page. No more.

As you may have noticed, we’ve stayed on top of this, even creating a peer review panel of medical and scientific experts that review, edit and approve most articles before they’re published. This is in addition to my own medical expertise as a board-certified physician.

My articles are also fully referenced, most containing dozens of references to studies published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Alas, none of this now matters, as the very fact that the information I present typically contradicts industry propaganda places me in the lowest possible rating category.

Bait and switch

Different perspectives are essential to a healthy debate of ideas. When our voices are censored humanity loses and fascism wins. Pinterest has banned me, Google has mostly erased my information and many others are experiencing this same censorship. What makes me so dangerous to these industries that they need to censor me from those looking for my information?

Google had the brilliant idea of utilizing crowd sourcing, providing the best answers to your questions by pushing the most frequently selected content to the top of the search results — a truly democratic system to reward people for sharing information, and helping you locate this information by essentially sharing the most popular, highest quality content.

My information was frequently at the top of many health searches, because many people like you found it to be the most valuable. But as Google’s power grew to enormous proportions, the goal of providing this service to you changed. The goal now is to become even more powerful by uniting with other powerful industries and government to force their beliefs on the masses and manipulate the future itself.

Crowd sourcing has become crowd control. Google began by giving you everything you want so it can now take everything you have. Google has changed from looking at users as customers and giving them what they want, to making users custodians of their will — essentially making you a host of a virus to carry out their agenda.

Google has become the ultimate puppet master, infecting people and manipulating them without even knowing it. Their true goal is to be in complete control of all of us, directing our behavior — and should we rebel, they also have partnered with the military to create drones utilizing artificial intelligence to ensure resistance will be defeated.

This is eerily reminiscent of many science fiction books and productions, but we have proof of what Google is doing — and we cannot go along with it. Google refers to the goal of controlling humanity as “The Selfish Ledger,” described in the video below. Our lives are being exploited by Google and other large tech companies, and you have no idea how far they have come or where they are going. The truth is, they can already predict and control your behavior.


Natural health and healing threaten drug and vaccine industry profits

This sentence in the SEM Post article9 cited earlier is key to understanding what’s going on: “If the purpose of the page is harmful, then expertise doesn’t matter.” In other words, if a page is deemed harmful to the public, it gets the lowest possible rating regardless of expertise. And if pages don’t vanish automatically in the new algorithm, quality raters will go in and manually manipulate crowdsourced relevance to bury the page or pages.

Just what might Google and its industrial and government/military allies deem “harmful”? In short, pretty much anything that presents views differing from the PR created by said allies, and that most certainly includes alternative and holistic health, and articles revealing the truth about toxic industries, including the drug and vaccine industries.

Indeed, Telapost lists10 Mercola.com as one of the biggest losers in Google’s June 2019 core algorithm update, along with other natural health sites and Vimeo — a direct competitor to Google’s Youtube video platform. The article also notes that:11

“In the QRG [quality rater guidelines], Google notes that raters should conduct ‘research on the reputation of the website or creator of the main content.’

Later they say ‘… Wikipedia articles can help you learn about a company and may include information specific to reputation, such as awards and other forms of recognition, or also controversies and issues.’ If a news style website has a poor reputation, factors on their site could correlate with what Google is trying to push down in search results.”

I will delve into Wikipedia’s role in this censorship movement in Part 2 of this article, which will be published tomorrow.

Google is undoubtedly one of the largest and clearest monopolies in the world. In fact, the company monopolizes several different markets, including search and advertising. Bing, its closest search competitor, has just 2% of the market — hardly a significant threat to Google’s 90%.12 Google also controls about 60% of the global advertising revenue on the internet.

So, with this core algorithm update, Google is very effectively preventing a majority of people worldwide from learning about how to protect and support their health, which is nothing short of an attack on your civil liberties and right to pursue health and happiness.

I’ve written about the dangers of monopolies within the drug and agricultural industries on numerous occasions, but Google is without a doubt the greatest monopoly that has ever existed on the planet, and most people don’t even realize it.

The technology giant has injected itself ever deeper into our day-to-day lives, from childhood education to Android phones, to patented meat substitutes13 and health care. Google’s internet monopoly combined with its creepy personal information tracking and sharing poses a very unique threat to public health, privacy and well-being.

Anyone concerned about their health, food or environment and their ability to obtain truthful information about any of those issues needs to understand the role Google plays, and whose side Google is really on. I’ll delve further into this in part 2.

Who are the Google quality raters?

So, just who are these quality raters Google hires to decide who’s who and what’s what, and manually rank pages higher or lower? Ars Technica has written articles about the poor working conditions of these raters. In April 2017, senior tech culture editor for Ars Technica, Annalee Newitz, reported:14

“Few people realize how much these raters contribute to the smooth functioning act we call ‘Googling.’ Even Google engineers who work with rater data don’t know who these people are. But some raters would now like that to change. That’s because, earlier this month, thousands of them received an e-mail that said their hours would be cut in half, partly due to changes in Google’s staffing policies.

Though Google boasts about its army of raters, the raters are not Google employees. Instead, they are employed by firms who have contracted them to Google, full time, for years on end. These raters believe that Google has reaped significant benefits from their labor without ensuring their jobs are secure and stable. That’s why 10 raters came to Ars Technica to tell the story of what their lives are really like.”

At the time, Leapforce — which was incorporated in 200815 — was one of the largest companies supplying Google with raters. Most raters work from home and virtually everyone, including managers, use online pseudonyms, preventing employees from knowing who they’re really working with.

“To get a task, raters log into Raterhub and see what’s available. Some days plenty of tasks exists; on others, a rater might wait hours and be offered nothing … A typical task takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes, and the amount of time the rater can bill for the task is pre-determined by Google,” Newitz writes.16

In 2017, the hourly pay for a rater ranged between $13.50 and $17.40.17 Effective June 1, 2017, Google raters working in the U.S. could no longer bill for more than 26 hours a week, which meant those working full-time (about 20% of Leapforce raters) were reduced to part-time to minimize employee benefits.

In response to panicked workers, Leapforce founder and CEO Daren Jackson18 told the raters “this is not a change we are able to control,” and that the abolishing of full-time work was due to “risk mitigation” related to “regulations.”

According to Newitz, a new Google policy stipulated they wanted to work with employee-based workforces, so to keep its contract, Leapforce converted its raters from independent contractors to employees. It was very likely unlawful to have so many people independently contracted for these positions in the first place.

However, Jackson told Newitz he couldn’t convert his full-time contractors to full-time employees “because Leapforce couldn’t afford health care for all of them,” as required under the Affordable Healthcare Act. After speaking to Ars about their work conditions, three of the raters were fired by Leapforce, Newitz reported in a subsequent article.19

Leapforce founder is a former Google employee

While Jackson claimed Leapforce had other clients beside Google (which he would not name when asked by Ars Technica), Google certainly appeared to be its largest. It should come as no surprise then that Jackson and Leapforce didn’t just appear out of the blue. In fact, as reported by Newitz, Jackson used to work for Google. She writes:20

“Jackson told Ars that he started Leapforce in 2008 after quitting Google, where he had been working on a project called EWOQ. EWOQ is the precursor to Raterhub, though its origins are shrouded in secrecy. We do know that, as early as 2004, Google had a quality rater tool … At that time, raters were hired directly by Google …

But by the time Google purchased the website Raterhub.com in 2012, all of Google’s raters were coming from contracting companies like Leapforce, Lionbridge, Appen, and ZeroChaos. Many of Leapforce’s raters still call the tool they use at Raterhub ‘EWOQ,’ though one told me that they have no idea why, nor what it stands for.”

In essence, the separation between Leapforce and Google appears to have been little more than a legal fiction that shielded Google from any legal liabilities for the way this workforce was treated.

In a subsequent article,21 published May 2, 2017, Newitz pointed out that Jackson had just created yet another rating company called RaterLabs,22 and was in the process of transferring raters from Leapforce to RaterLabs, but at reduced pay rates.

As reported by Newitz in a third article,23 published December 1, 2017, Leapforce/RaterLabs were ultimately acquired by a top competitor, Appen.24 She also reported that several Leapforce raters had filed complaints with employee rights groups. Two of the raters fired after speaking to Ars Technica filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. Both cases were reportedly settled.

Google is not an independent actor in its censorship movement

While some argue that Google, being a private company, has the right to do whatever it wants, even if that means creating algorithms that censor important and relevant news and health insights while manually burying “undesirable” pages to protect the profits of its advertisers and other financial stakeholders.

However, being one of the biggest monopolies in the world, one could argue Google has really become more of a utility (like gas, water and electric utilities), and as such has a responsibility to serve the people. In fact, last year, U.S. House Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, suggested Google and Facebook be turned into, and regulated as, public utilities.25

After all, if you want to find an answer on the web what do you do? You Google it, you don’t just “search.” Google worked for many years to earn your trust, but it was just setting a trap to twist that trust into powerful control.

Unfortunately, even if such an idea were to gain traction (which it has not), it still wouldn’t solve the problem, as Google is not acting independently, but rather is merely fulfilling a role within a much larger complex that includes the U.S. government, its military and national security apparatus, as well as several of the wealthiest and most powerful industries on the planet. I’ll delve into these issues in part 2 tomorrow.

All of these “partners” have a vested interest in censoring information addressed by yours truly on a daily basis; information relating to nondrug options for the prevention and treatment of disease and/or warnings about dangerous treatments, drugs and vaccines, for example, or the benefits of regenerative agriculture over conventional farming and fake meat, or the hazards of toxic chemicals found in everyday products and food.

Again, as explained earlier, Google’s latest core algorithm update and quality rater guidelines bury all of this information, favoring instead information relayed by sites that are either part of this industrial-technological-military-government complex, or that peddle the desired talking points.

It doesn’t matter that I’m reporting on and referencing publicly available peer-reviewed research and have a whole panel of medical and scientific experts reviewing much of the information, because the science I highlight is the science industry doesn’t want you to see.

Few are ever going to take the time to dig up these studies even though they’re readily available, and thus by censoring me and other online sources like myself, the industrial-technological-military-government complex’s task of social engineering is significantly simplified.

The information I share about pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines, GMOs, pesticides, junk food, fake meat, artificial sweeteners and other dangerous additives are prime targets for censorship for the simple reason that when you take control of your health, they LOSE control over you. By being informed, you take their power over you away from them.

What can you do?

I have been writing about Google for years because I knew this day would come. June 3, 2019, Google predictably removed my website and several other health sites from its search results.

It’s a wakeup call for everyone, and now more than ever we must work together to share this information with others by word of mouth, by text and email. We have built in simple sharing tools at the top of each article so you can easily email or text interesting articles to your friends and family.

My information is here because all of you support and share it, and we can do this without Big Tech’s support. It’s time to boycott and share! Here are a few other suggestions:

Become a subscriber to my newsletter and encourage your friends and family to do the same. This is the easiest and safest way to make sure you’ll stay up-to-date on important health and environmental issues.

If you have any friends or relatives that are seriously interested in their health, please share important articles with them and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter.

Use the internal Mercola.com search engine when searching for articles on my site. Nearly all major search websites except Yahoo! and Bing still use Google as their primary engines and have their own privacy issues. Then you have sites like StartPage and DuckDuckGo, which provide greater privacy than Google, but rely on Google’s search results.

Boycott Google by avoiding any and all Google products:

? Stop using Google search engines. Alternatives include DuckDuckGo26 and Startpage27

? Uninstall Google Chrome and use Brave or Opera browser instead, available for all computers and mobile devices.28 From a security perspective, Opera is far superior to Chrome and offers a free VPN service (virtual private network) to further preserve your privacy

? If you have a Gmail account, try a non-Google email service such as ProtonMail,29 an encrypted email service based in Switzerland

? Stop using Google docs. Digital Trends has published an article suggesting a number of alternatives30

? If you’re a high school student, do not convert the Google accounts you created as a student into personal accounts

Sign the “Don’t be evil” petition created by Citizens Against Monopoly

Vitamin C protects against water pollution

In 1996, the little town of Hinkley, California, won a massive arbitration against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). You might recall the story as the basis for the movie “Erin Brockovich,” in which a single mother and small-town attorney went up against a utility company that had been dumping hexavalent chromium into an unlined pond.1

At the time of the settlement, the case was the largest payout ever awarded for a direct-action lawsuit and environmental advocates were excited about the possibilities. Unfortunately, Hinkley has become a ghost town and hexavalent chromium has continued to contaminate water supplies across the U.S.

Back in Hinckley, a resident found levels of hexavalent chromium had recently increased in her water supply. Upon investigation, she discovered the plume had grown over the last 15 years, stretching miles from the original contamination site. In 2014, a feasibility study from PG&E found eliminating the chromium from the hardest hit areas may take up to 50 years.2

In the meantime, town properties have been classified as uninsurable wasteland. Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6, is a carcinogen.3,4 While Hinkley struggles with contamination of their water supply, researchers have found varying levels of chromium-6 in the water sources of more than 250 million Americans.5

Although there are current water regulations for total chromium level exposure, despite a well-publicized lawsuit and full knowledge of the devastation caused by chromium-6, there are not yet permissible exposure limits for this carcinogen.6

In a study undertaken by researchers at Olivet Nazarene University, data demonstrated antioxidants, such as vitamin C, may help reduce the effects of hexavalent chromium commonly found in drinking water.7,8

Vitamin C and tea may mitigate water pollution

The research paper was presented at the Experimental Biology 2019 conference9 held in Orlando, Florida. The thesis paper was supervised by Ryan Himes, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Life and Health Sciences at Olivet University.

The allowable concentration of hexavalent chromium in drinking water is currently under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The study was designed to determine how antioxidants might prevent cell toxicity when two types of human cells were exposed to different concentrations of chromium-6.10

Chromium-6 is a known powerful oxidizing agent, although the specific mechanism through which it causes cancer has not yet been determined.11 There has been no known preventive treatment for exposure. Researchers tested the hypothesis chromium-6 cytotoxicity might be prevented using antioxidants.12

They exposed human embryonic kidney and human intestinal epithelial cells, finding chromium-6 was significantly toxic in cell culture at concentrations of 200 parts per billion (ppb) and higher.13 The researchers found toxicity was blocked by vitamin C at 10 parts per million (ppm) or the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the primary antioxidant in green tea, at 15 ppm.

The researchers found the cytotoxic effect was blocked by vitamin C or EGCG alone. They then exposed bacteria to 20 ppb or more of chromium-6 and observed DNA mutations. However, when the bacteria were also treated with 20 ppm of vitamin C, the cytotoxic effect was again blocked.

Water pollution affects millions in the US

In 2010, the Environmental Working Group (EWG)14 published an executive summary showing at least 74 million U.S. citizens in 42 states were drinking tap water contaminated with chromium, much of it likely in the form of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.

By 2016 the number had jumped to 200 million15 and, according to researchers at Olivet Nazarene, 250 million Americans are currently drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium.16 In 1972, the U.S. Clean Water Act17 was supposed to ensure clean water for swimming, fishing and drinking. Unfortunately, after nearly five decades of regulation, waterways are in serious jeopardy.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 2 billion people worldwide do not have safe drinking water.18 Forced to drink contaminated water, hundreds of thousands die from preventable diseases.

U.S. drinking water is contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, antibacterial products and medications.19 In one ambitious project,20 researchers gathered samples from the Hudson River to measure levels of pharmaceutical pollution.21

Past testing had detected antidepressants, blood pressure medications, decongestants and other drugs. Unlike the volumes of information available on the effect of pathogens, the science on long-term exposure to slight amounts of a chemical soup mixture of pharmaceuticals and other chemicals is still in its infancy.

Where is the chromium?

Keeping the public in the dark is not new. A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry showed widespread water contamination near military bases, chemical plants and elsewhere. They warned these chemicals could harm health at levels significantly lower than those deemed safe by the EPA.22

According to Politico,23 which obtained internal EPA emails, the report had been kept from the public for months to prevent a “potential public relations nightmare.” Although hexavalent chromium occurs naturally in the environment, high amounts are produced through industry.

Even in small amounts, it may trigger skin burns, pneumonia and complications during childbirth. You may search your county for chromium-6 testing using the EWG interactive map.24 During their evaluation, EWG found Oklahoma, Arizona and California have the highest averages; Phoenix has the highest level of any city.

Past EPA assistant administrator of toxic substances, Dr. Lynn Goldman, told PBS,25 “There should be no carcinogen in water. The overall problem here is, what does it take for EPA to speed up its standard-setting process?”

In a press release from the EWG announcing their interactive map, they stated two-thirds of American water supplies have levels above what scientists say are safe for hexavalent chromium. Of the more than 60,000 water samples collected between 2013 and 2015, more than 75% contained hexavalent chromium. Consumer advocate Brockovich commented on the results:26

“Houston, we have a problem. More than 20 years ago, we learned that this dangerous chemical poisoned the tap water of California communities, and now these tests and EWG’s report show that roughly 218 million Americans are being served drinking water polluted with potentially dangerous levels of this known carcinogen.

But in that time the EPA hasn’t set drinking water standards for any previously unregulated contaminant, and there are disturbing signs the agency may again do nothing about chromium-6. This is an abject failure by the EPA, including members of Congress charged with overseeing the agency, and every American should be outraged by this inaction.”

Vitamin C may also reduce the effects of air pollution

Vitamin C is a water-soluble micronutrient humans do not have the ability to synthesize and must get from their diet.27 It is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymatic reactions and there is some evidence to suggest it may be useful as an adjunct to conventional medical practices to reduce heart injury and arrhythmia after a cardiac procedure.28

Oregon University29 reports no evidence that large amounts, up to 10 grams per day in adults, will have any toxic effect. However, 2 grams per day and greater may trigger diarrhea or gastrointestinal disturbances in some adults. The usefulness of vitamin C is related to its ability to donate electrons and reduce oxidative stress.30

In this manner it contributes to your immune system, supporting various cellular functions and epithelial barrier function against pathogens. While a gross deficiency results in scurvy, functional deficiency will impair the immune system31 and leave you susceptible to infection.

In addition to helping protect cells against water pollution as demonstrated in the featured study on hexavalent chromium,32 vitamin C may also help to mitigate oxidative stress response to air pollutants. There is substantial evidence particulate matter air pollution increases oxidative stress and those with higher dietary intake of specific vitamins may experience a lower negative response.33

The WHO34 places air pollution as one of the world’s largest environmental health risk factors. In one meta-analysis,35 the review found evidence for vitamin supplementation in reducing the effects of pollution on asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases, including supplementation with carotenoids, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.

More benefits from antioxidants in tea

The featured study also found EGCG, an antioxidant found in green tea, was effective against the cytotoxic effects of chromium-6. Green tea has been prized for generations in China, Japan and Britain. It has also made a name for itself in the U.S., where many drink it daily to enjoy the many health benefits attributed to EGCG.

Studies have found EGCG increases fat oxidation36 and may help prevent obesity.37 It may also improve exercise performance38 and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.39 However, not all green teas are created equal.

If you drink it, you probably assume you’re getting the same dose with each cup, but an analysis of strength and purity of 105 products found the levels varied widely from product to product.40 It is important to seek out high quality green tea to enjoy some of the additional health benefits.

These benefits include inhibiting bacterial and viral growth,41 protecting against oxidation in the brain and liver,42 improving mental alertness43 and reducing blood pressure.44 The type of tea you purchase may make a difference in the amount of beneficial antioxidants and flavor.

There’s also an art to brewing tea using loose leaves that brings out full flavor and reduces your exposure to unwanted additives, which I discuss in my previous article, “What’s in your green tea?

Vitamin C potent adjunct to cancer treatment

Vitamin C has also been shown to be selectively cytotoxic to cancer cells when administered intravenously or in liposomal form in high doses. The presence of vitamin C generates hydrogen peroxide, which is ultimately what kills the cancer cells.45

Normal tissue is unharmed46 by high levels of hydrogen peroxide as they have several ways of removing it before it builds to toxic levels.47 High doses of vitamin C administration in combination with chemotherapy and radiation may also significantly improve the effectiveness of these treatments.48

Cancer cells have unstable iron particles, also known as redox active iron molecules, making them more vulnerable to oxidative damage triggered by high dose vitamin C. Hydrogen peroxide is generated when the redox active iron reacts with the vitamin C, subsequently damaging the cancer cells’ DNA and making them more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiation.49

Administration of vitamin C also helps those suffering from cancer by lowering levels of inflammation, a hallmark of cancer. Vitamin C appears to slow the growth of liver and lymphoma cancers in animal studies.50