Without notice or fanfare, the FBI on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, posted links to over 1,500 pages of mostly redacted documents from its investigation and subsequent findings on Adam Lanza, the alleged shooter in the […]
In the U.S., two-thirds of Americans’ tap water contains fluoride, which is added under the guise of preventing cavities. Water fluoridation continues to occur in the majority of the U.S. even as research stacks up that fluoride is a neurotoxin that can harm brain function. A study of Mexican women and children is among the latest to raise concern, showing that higher exposure to fluoride while in utero is associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function in childhood, both at the age of 4 and 6 to 12 years.1
The study involved nearly 300 pairs of women and their babies. Mexico does not fluoridate their drinking water, but the study participants were exposed to fluoride via fluoridated salt and varying levels of naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water. While previous studies have used measurements of fluoride levels in drinking water to estimate a population’s exposure, the featured study used urine samples — in both the mothers and their children — to determine fluoride exposure.
The researchers then compared fluoride levels with each child’s intelligence, assessed using the General Cognitive Index (GCI) of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities at age 4 and again between the ages of 6 and 12 years using the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI).2
Higher Prenatal Exposure to Fluoride Linked to Lower Intelligence
While the children’s fluoride levels at ages 4 and 6 to 12 were not associated with their intelligence, the study found that exposure that occurs prenatally was linked to lower intelligence scores. In fact, women with higher levels of fluoride in their urine during pregnancy were more likely to have children with lower intelligence.
Specifically, each 0.5 milligram per liter increase in pregnant women’s fluoride levels was associated with a reduction of 3.15 and 2.5 points on the children’s GCI and WASI scores, respectively. Lead researcher Dr. Howard Hu, of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto in Canada, said in a news release:3
“Our study shows that the growing fetal nervous system may be adversely affected by higher levels of fluoride exposure. It also suggests that the prenatal nervous system may be more sensitive to fluoride compared to that of school-aged children.”
The findings are groundbreaking, as the study, which spanned 12 years and received funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), is one of the first and largest studies looking into this topic. As noted by Paul Connett, Ph.D., toxicologist, environmental chemist and former director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) in the video commentary below (while retiring and handing over the director’s position to his son Michael, Connett remains very active in the organization):
“This vindicates our work … since 1996. My major concern has been the effect of fluoride on the brain … A variety of studies … have indicated that in communities with higher levels of fluoride, children have lower IQ. It’s always been a question of whether that was exposure during pregnancy in utero or whether the exposure was in the early years of childhood. This study points to in utero exposure.
This should spell the end of fluoridation worldwide. How can you possibly continue to expose millions of pregnant women and children to a known neurotoxic substance? Now we know that there’s a relationship between how much fluoride a woman is exposed to in pregnancy and the IQ of the children that are born. This is totally unacceptable.”
Despite the damning evidence, the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to stand their ground, stating, “The ADA continues to endorse fluoridation of public water as the most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay.”4 They tried to downplay the results by saying no conclusions could be drawn about U.S. water fluoridation because it’s unknown whether the participants were exposed to fluoride via water, salt or both.
But as noted by Connett, “This makes no sense. It is irrelevant whether the Mexican women got their fluoride from fluoridated salt, fluoride in drinking water or from fluoridated dental products.” The mean level of fluoride in the urine of the mothers included in the study was 0.9 mg/L. In the U.S. 75 percent of the population’s drinking water is fluoridated, and according to Hu, the levels of fluoride found in Mexican mothers is unlikely to be significantly different from those found in American women.
Fluoride Previously Known to Harm Brain, Nervous System Development
More than 300 studies have shown fluoride’s toxic effects on the brain,5 including 2006 National Research Council review that suggested fluoride exposure may be associated with brain damage, endocrine system disruption and bone cancer.6 In 2012, Harvard researchers also revealed that children living in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas7 and suggested high fluoride exposure may have an adverse effect on children’s neurodevelopment.
Then, in 2014, a review in Lancet Neurology classified fluoride as one of only 11 chemicals “known to cause developmental neurotoxicity in human beings,”8 alongside other known neurotoxins such as lead, methylmercury, arsenic and toluene. Among the proposed mechanisms of harm, studies have shown fluoride can:9
Interfere with basic functions of nerve cells in the brain
Reduce nicotinic acetylcholine receptors
Reduce lipid content in the brain
Damage the pineal gland through fluoride accumulation
Impair antioxidant defense systems
Damage the hippocampus
Damage purkinje cells
Increase uptake of aluminum, which has neurotoxic effects
Encourage formation of beta-amyloid plaques (the classic brain abnormality in Alzheimer’s disease)
Exacerbate lesions induced by iodine deficiency
Increase manganese absorption, which has also been linked to lower IQ in children
According to research presented at the April 2017 National Oral Health Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, 57 percent of youth between the ages of 6 and 19 years have dental fluorosis, a condition in which your tooth enamel becomes progressively discolored and mottled, according to data from 2011 to 2012.10 The statistic represents an increase from 37 percent reported from 1999 to 2004. Further, the author stated, “There was a significant increase in caries experience … .”
When FAN researchers analyzed the same set of data, they found “the 2011-2012 NHANES survey found dental fluorosis in 58.3 percent of the surveyed adolescents, including an astonishing 21.2 percent with moderate fluorosis and 2 percent with severe.”11 Research has found impairment in cognitive abilities among children with fluorosis (even mild fluorosis) compared to children with no fluorosis. And some studies have even found that children with higher levels of fluorosis have increased rates of cavities.12,13
In stark contrast, when fluoridation was first started in the U.S. in 1945, it was promised that only 10 percent of people would suffer from mild dental fluorosis.14 In light of the latest findings in the featured study, keep in mind that if children live in areas with high enough fluoride levels in their water to cause dental fluorosis, their mothers also were likely exposed to similar levels of fluoridated water during pregnancy, posing brain risks as well. As FAN noted:15
“The human placenta does not prevent the passage of fluoride from a pregnant mother’s bloodstream to the fetus. As a result, a fetus can be harmed by fluoride ingested pregnancy.
Based on research from China, the fetal brain is one of the organs susceptible to fluoride poisoning … three Chinese studies have investigated fluoride’s effect on the fetal brain and each has found evidence of significant neurological damage, including neuronal degeneration and reduced levels of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine.”
How Much Fluoride Is in Your Water?
The vast majority (97 percent) of Western Europe has rejected water fluoridation. In fact, most countries fluoridate neither their water nor their salt (but according to the World Health Organization, tooth decay in 12-year-olds is coming down as fast, if not faster, in nonfluoridated countries as it is in fluoridated countries16). In contrast, in the U.S. 200 million Americans live in areas where water is fluoridated.
As for how much fluoride is in your drinking water, in 2011 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to lower the recommended level of fluoride in drinking water for the first time in 50 years. Effective in 2015, the level of fluoride in drinking water was reduced to 0.7 mg/L from a previously recommended range of between 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L. If you live in the U.S. and want to know fluoride levels in your water, the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Tap Water Database can help.17
This is important for everyone, but pregnant women and households mixing formula for babies should take extra care to consume fluoride-free water. EWG notes, “Even fluoride levels of 0.7 ppm, the amount of fluoride in drinking water recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service, can result in too much fluoride for bottle-fed babies.
EWG recommends that caregivers mix baby formula with fluoride-free water. The National Toxicology Program is investigating the potential for low doses of fluoride to alter thyroid function and childhood brain development.”18
Unfortunately, fluoride is a very small molecule, making it tremendously difficult to filter out once added to your water supply. Any simple countertop carbon filter, like Brita, will not remove it. If you have a house water carbon filtration system that has a large volume of carbon, then it may reduce the fluoride as fluoride removal is in direct proportion to the amount of fluoride and the time it’s in contact with the media. It’s just not going to get it all. Among the more effective filtering systems for fluoride removal are:
Reverse osmosis (RO). The drawback is that it will remove many valuable minerals and trace elements as well. RO systems also need frequent cleaning to avoid bacterial growth. So, use a tankless RO system with a compressor
Water distillation which, like RO, gets everything out, including beneficial minerals. You then need to restructure the water
Bone char filters and biochar. We’re currently in the process of developing a filter that combines biochar with activated charcoal
Clearly, the simplest, most effective, most cost-effective strategy is to not put fluoride in the water to begin with. To learn more about fluoride and how you can help end this harmful practice, I highly recommend getting a copy of Connett’s book, “The Case Against Fluoride.” You can also download my free report on water fluoridation for more information on the bad science and political agendas that got this toxic chemical in your drinking water.
Low- or no-calorie artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are typically used to sweeten so-called “diet” foods and beverages in lieu of calorie-rich sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The idea is that consuming fewer calories will result in weight loss. However, research has firmly refuted such claims, showing that artificial sweeteners actually produce the complete opposite effect.
By lowering appetite suppressant chemicals and encouraging sugar cravings, artificial sweeteners actually raise your odds of weight gain. Studies have also shown artificial sweeteners promote insulin resistance and related health problems just like regular sugar does, so claims that “diet” soda and snacks are a safe and healthy option for diabetics are false as well.
Use of the Word ‘Diet’ Is Deceptive, False and Misleading
False advertising is prohibited by federal law, and the term “diet” is only permitted on brands or labels when it is not false or misleading. Two years ago — in light of the overwhelming amount of research demonstrating that artificially sweeteners actually raise your risk of obesity rather than combat it — the consumer group U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) asked the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and other companies for false advertising.1,2
In its citizen petition to the FDA,3 USRTK asked the agency to issue warning letters to Coca-Cola and Pepsi for misbranding their beverages, as use of the term “diet” is false and misleading. July 1, 2015, USRTK sent another letter4 to the FDA, urging the agency to stop Coca-Cola Co. from making “illegal claims that its artificially sweetened sodas prevent, mitigate or treat obesity.”
In one instance, Coca-Cola Co. had announced5 that its No. 1 “global commitment to fighting obesity” is to “offer low- or no-calorie beverage options in every market.” If artificially sweetened beverages promote obesity rather than fight it, then Coca-Cola’s commitment is merely worsening the problem. It’s also unsupported by a large body of science.
As noted by Gary Ruskin, codirector of USRTK, at the time,6 “Coke is gulling consumers into believing that artificially sweetened soda is a treatment for obesity. Coke is wrong on the facts and the FDA should stop them if they are on the wrong side of the law.”
One of the Biggest Consumer Scams in Last 50 Years
For those of you who recall these events and wondered what ever came of it, I can now offer you an important and interesting update. October 16, three separate class-action lawsuits were filed against Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Dr Pepper/Seven Up Inc.,7,8,9,10,11 all of whom make and sell “diet” beverages sweetened with aspartame.
As reported by CBS News,12 “The suits allege that the companies’ use of the word ‘diet’ in the beverages’ ‘false misleading and unlawful’ marketing could make a ‘reasonable consumer’ think the drinks are a diet aid.” According to attorney Abraham Melamed:
“What’s been going on is clearly deceptive advertising. In our opinion, it’s one of the biggest consumer scams in the last 50 years, and it has to stop. There’s a strong sense of urgency because there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of consumers out there that are being deceived on a daily basis.”
According to the complaints, the beverage makers should be aware of the published evidence against aspartame, which proves the artificial sweetener actually worsens obesity and related health problems. With this knowledge, it stands to reason that continuing to promote no- or low-calorie beverages as “diet” products is a willfully deceptive act aimed to deceive people who want to manage their weight.
The class-action lawsuits also charge the beverage makers with violating FDA and New York state food labeling rules, both of which explicitly prohibit labeling that is “false or misleading in any particular.” As one would expect, the companies that have issued public responses to the allegations have all rejected the lawsuits as “meritless” and vow to “vigorously defend” themselves.
Named Plaintiffs Feel Duped and Misled
The named plaintiffs in each complaint — two per lawsuit — report struggling with obesity for many years and “frequently” buying diet sodas, believing this would “contribute to healthy weight management” since such beverages are calorie-free. Each of the complaints note that:
“… while touting [Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke/Diet Dr Pepper] as ‘diet,’ and containing zero calories, [Pepsi/Coca-Cola/Dr Pepper] deceptively omitted material information, namely that despite its lack of calories, the consumption of [Diet Pepsi/Diet Coke/Diet Dr Pepper] can lead to weight gain and contribute to metabolic disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
According to the plaintiffs, they would not have paid the prices they did, or would not have bought the beverages at all had they known the word “diet” was being used in a deceptive way. While each complaint currently has only two plaintiffs, each of the three lawsuits cover a class of consumers living in New York, who between October 16, 2011, and present day purchased Coca-Cola, Pepsi or Dr Pepper brand diet beverages.
Cheated New Yorkers Can Join the Class Action
If you live in the state of New York, and feel one or more of these companies cheated your efforts to improve your health, consider joining the class action. The following attorneys and firms are reportedly working on the three complaints:
Derek T. Smith and Abraham Z. Melamed of Derek Smith Law Group PLLC13
Jack Fitzgerald, Trevor M. Flynn and Melanie Persinger of The Law Office of Jack Fitzgerald PC14
Andrew Sacks and John Weston of Sacks Weston Diamond LLC15
Evan Geffner and Ivan Babsin are named plaintiffs in the complaint against Coca-Cola Co.. Elizabeth Manuel and Vivien Grossman are named in the complaint against Pepsi-Cola Company, and Yasmin Excevarria and Joette Phoneix are named in the suit against Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc.16
You can find copies of the three complaints on ClassAction.org.17 The plaintiffs, who are seeking a jury trial, are seeking to prevent the defendants from marketing artificially sweetened beverages as “diet,” along with unspecified restitution and damages for the class. They also seek an order “requiring the soda makers to conduct a ‘corrective advertising campaign.’”
Recent Meta-Analysis Again Confirms Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Work as Advertised
Backing up the accusations in the complaints are studies showing aspartame promotes weight gain despite its lack of calories, and that by interfering with metabolism, it also increases the risk for metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. I published these associations in my book “Sweet Deception” over 11 years ago.
One of the most recent of these studies18 — a scientific review of 37 studies that followed more than 400,000 individuals for an average of a decade — was published this past July in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. As many others before it, this review again linked use of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose to obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.
These effects were in part attributed to the sweeteners’ detrimental effects on metabolism, but also on their adverse effects on gut bacteria. According to Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and one of the authors, “We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management.”
Research Overwhelmingly Refutes ‘Diet’ Claims
Research over the last 30 years — including several large scale prospective cohort studies, to which you can now add the one just mentioned above — have shown that artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions that promote fat storage and weight gain. Below is a sampling of studies published through the years that contradict and refute the beverage industry’s claims that diet soda aids weight loss.
Preventive Medicine 198619 — This study examined nearly 78,700 women aged 50 to 69 for one year. Artificial sweetener usage increased with relative weight and users were significantly more likely to gain weight, compared to those who did not use artificial sweeteners, regardless of their initial weight.
According to the researchers, the results “were not explicable by differences in food consumption patterns. The data do not support the hypothesis that long-term artificial sweetener use either helps weight loss or prevents weight gain.”
Physiology and Behavior198820 — In this study they determined that intense (no- or low-calorie) sweeteners can produce significant changes in appetite. Of the three sweeteners tested, aspartame produced the most pronounced effects.
Physiology and Behavior199021 — Here, they found that aspartame had a time-dependent effect on appetite, “producing a transient decrease followed by a sustained increase in hunger ratings.”
Journal of the American Dietetic Association199122 — In a study of artificial sweeteners performed on college students, there was no evidence that artificial sweetener use was associated with a decrease in their overall sugar intake.
International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition200323 — This study, which looked at 3,111 children, found that diet soda was associated with higher body mass index (BMI).
International Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders 200424 — This Purdue University study found that rats fed artificially sweetened liquids ate more high-calorie food than rats fed high-caloric sweetened liquids. The researchers believe the experience of drinking artificially sweetened liquids disrupted the animals’ natural ability to compensate for the calories in the food.
San Antonio Heart Study 200525 — Data gathered from the 25-year-long San Antonio Heart Study showed that drinking diet soft drinks increased the likelihood of serious weight gain — far more so than regular soda.26 On average, for each diet soft drink the participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.
Journal of the American College of Nutrition 200527 — In this two-year-long study, which involved 166 school children, increased diet soda consumption was associated with higher BMI at the end of the trial.
The Journal of Pediatrics 200628 — The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study included 2,371 girls aged 9 to 19 for 10 years. Soda consumption in general, both regular and diet, was associated with increase in total daily energy intake.
Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 201029 — This study is particularly noteworthy as it not only delves into the neurobiology of sugar cravings, it also provides a historical summary of artificial sweeteners in general, along with epidemiological and experimental evidence showing that artificial sweeteners tend to promote weight gain.
It also illustrates that as usage of artificial sweeteners has risen, so have obesity rates (graph below). More than 11,650 children aged 9 to 14 were included in this study. Each daily serving of diet beverages was associated with a BMI increase of 0.16 kg/m2.
According to the authors: “[F]indings suggest that the calorie contained in natural sweeteners may trigger a response to keep the overall energy consumption constant … Increasing evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners do not activate the food reward pathways in the same fashion as natural sweeteners … [A]rtificial sweeteners, precisely because they are sweet, encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.”
Appetite 201230 — Here, researchers showed that saccharin and aspartame both cause greater weight gain than sugar, even when the total caloric intake remains similar.
Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 201331 — This report highlights the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.32,33 The researchers speculate that frequent consumption of artificial sweeteners may induce metabolic derangements.
Nature 201434 — This study was able to clearly show causation, revealing there’s a direct cause and effect relationship between consuming artificial sweeteners and developing elevated blood sugar levels. People who consumed high amounts of artificial sweeteners were found to have higher levels of HbA1C — a long-term measure of blood sugar — compared to nonusers or occasional users of artificial sweeteners.
Seven volunteers who did not use artificial sweeteners were then recruited and asked to consume the equivalent of 10 to 12 single-dose packets of artificial sweeteners daily for one week. Four of the seven people developed “significant disturbances in their blood glucose,” according to the researchers.
Some became pre-diabetic within just a few days. The reason for this dramatic shift was traced back to alterations in gut bacteria. Some bacteria were killed off, while others started proliferating.
In recent years, we’ve learned that gut microbes play a significant role in human health. Certain gut microbes have been linked to obesity, for example, and as it turns out, artificial sweeteners disrupt your intestinal microflora,35,36,37,38 thereby raising your risk of both obesity and diabetes.
Specifically, the researchers found that artificial sweeteners alter metabolic pathways associated with metabolic disease. Decreased function was observed in pathways associated with the transport of sugar in the body, for example.
PLoS One 201439 — This rat study also found an increased risk of glucose intolerance. Animals fed aspartame ended up with raised levels of propionate — short-chain fatty acids involved in sugar production. Consumption of aspartame shifted gut microbiota to produce propionate, which generated higher blood sugar levels.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 201540 — In this study, diet soda consumption was linked to increased belly fat in Americans over the age of 65. Seniors were followed for an average of nine years, and while the study was an observational one and hence cannot prove causation, the authors note that there was a “striking dose-response relationship” between diet soda consumption and waist circumference.
People who never drank diet soda increased their waist circumference by an average of 0.8 inches during the nine-year observation period; occasional diet soda drinkers added an average of 1.83 inches to their waistline in that time period; daily diet soda drinkers gained an average of nearly 3.2 inches — quadruple that of those who abstained from diet soda altogether. What’s worse, abdominal fat gain was most pronounced in those who were overweight to begin with.
Time to End the Deception
At the peak of its popularity in 2005, 3 billion cases of diet soda were sold in one year. Diet soda has since fallen out of favor, with sales dropping by 27 percent (834 million cases) as of 2016. Still, diet soda accounts for 25 percent of the carbonated beverages sold in the U.S.41 by volume, which means many Americans are still drinking it, and chances are many of them believe they’re making a healthier choice by avoiding regular soda.
Unfortunately, the evidence suggests otherwise. When you add together the various routes of harm — from confusing your body’s metabolism to altering your gut bacteria for the worse — it would appear artificial sweeteners have likely played a role in worsening the obesity and diabetes epidemics since their emergence. A significant part of their allure is the idea that they can allow you to indulge in something sweet without suffering weight gain and related repercussions.
After all, “diet” refers to something that will help you lose weight (or help you maintain a good figure), doesn’t it? The idea of guilt-free indulgence has also been part of diet soda marketing for years.
Even in cases where it’s not explicitly stated that diet soda will help you lose weight, the industry has diligently “educated” the public about the equally erroneous idea that weight loss is a matter of “energy balance,” and to lose weight, you have to cut calories and expend more calories through exercise. The energy balance myth does nothing if not support the consumption of diet beverages as a means to lose weight by cutting calories.
Reclaim Your Health by Ditching Artificially Sweetened ‘Diet’ Foods
I strongly recommend avoiding all artificial sweeteners, not just aspartame, and to read food labels to make sure you’re not inadvertently consuming them. They’re added to some 6,000 different beverages, snacks and food products, so there’s no telling where they might be hiding. For a safer sweetener options, you could use stevia or Lo Han, both of which are natural sweeteners.
Keep in mind that if you struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or extra weight, then you have poor insulin sensitivity and would likely benefit from avoiding ALL sweeteners. Unfortunately, just like sugar, artificial sweeteners can cause you to become addicted to them. If you find you have trouble quitting diet soda or other artificially sweetened products, I suggest trying Turbo Tapping.
This is a version of the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) that is specifically geared toward combating sugar cravings. For instructions, please see the article, “Turbo Tapping: How to Get Rid of Your Soda Addiction.” The video below with EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman also demonstrates how to use EFT to fight food cravings of all kinds. If you still have cravings after trying EFT or Turbo Tapping, you may need to make further changes to your diet. My free nutrition plan can help you do this in a step-by-step fashion.
Last but not least, if you experience side effects from aspartame or any other artificial sweetener, please report it to the FDA (if you live in the United States). It’s easy to make a report — just go to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator page,42 find the phone number for your state, and make a call to report your reaction. Also, if you’re a New York resident interested in joining one of the three class-action suits, contact the law firms listed above.
If you’ve ever gone on a road trip, you probably have distinct memories of bugs flying at, and smashing on, your windshield — along with the inevitable cleanup the mess necessitated afterward. If you think about it for a minute, though, you may realize that it’s been awhile since your windshield was covered with insects.
This may initially seem like a good thing, but this occurrence, dubbed the “windshield phenomenon” by entomologists,1 is an ominous warning — a canary in the coalmine that the environment is in grave danger.
“I’m a very data-driven person,” Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Oregon, told Science. “But it is a visceral reaction when you realize you don’t see that mess anymore.”2 It’s also not all in your head. Insects are vanishing right before our eyes, at a rate that’s at once sobering and alarming.
Seventy-Six Percent of Flying Insects Have Disappeared in the Last 27 Years
Declines in certain insect groups like bees, butterflies and even moths have been apparent for some time, according to researchers of a recent study published in PLOS One.3 However, their study looked at total flying insect biomass over a period of 27 years in 63 protected areas in Germany to assess the bigger picture. Using malaise traps, which are large, tent-like traps used for catching flying insects, the researchers set out to estimate trends in the number of flying insects in the region between 1989 and 2016.
A 76 percent decline was revealed, seasonally, while a midsummer decline of 82 percent in flying insect biomass was also recorded. The declines occurred regardless of habitat type and could not be explained solely by changes in weather, land use or varying habitat characteristics. The researchers noted:4
“Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services … This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning … “
The ramifications of disappearing insects should not be taken lightly. It’s estimated that 80 percent of wild plants depend on insects for pollination, and 60 percent of birds depend on them for food. Further, the “ecosystem services” provided by insects as a whole is estimated at $57 billion annually in the U.S. alone, the researchers noted, so “[c]learly, preserving insect abundance and diversity should constitute a prime conservation priority.”5
While increasing attention has been given to declines in bees and butterflies, the data suggest that “it is not only the vulnerable species, but the flying insect community as a whole, that has been decimated over the last few decades.”
The researchers described the significant decline as “alarming,” made even more so because the traps were placed in nature preserves that are meant to protect ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. Still, nearly all (94 percent) of the protected areas included in the study were enclosed by agricultural areas, giving clues as to why so many insects may be disappearing.
‘Agricultural Intensification’ May Be Killing Off Insects at an Alarming Rate
After observing the massive decline in flying insects in under 30 years, the researchers then began looking into potential driving mechanisms. Landscape and climate changes were not strongly associated with the declines, according to their analysis, so they suggested other “large-scale factors,” like agricultural intensification, may be involved:6
“Agricultural intensification(e.g., pesticide usage, year-round tillage, increased use of fertilizers and frequency of agronomic measures) that we could not incorporate in our analyses, may form a plausible cause … Part of the explanation could therefore be that the protected areas (serving as insect sources) are affected and drained by the agricultural fields in the broader surroundings (serving as sinks or even as ecological traps).
Increased agricultural intensification may have aggravated this reduction in insect abundance in the protected areas over the last few decades … Agricultural intensification, including the disappearance of field margins and new crop protection methods has been associated with an overall decline of biodiversity in plants, insects, birds and other species in the current landscape.”
Indeed, while the observational study wasn’t set up to determine causes for the insect decline, the increasing use of agricultural chemicals is a prime suspect, one that’s been implicated in insect losses before. For instance, numbers of Monarch butterflies have decreased by 90 percent since 1996. As usage of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) has skyrocketed, milkweed, which is the only plant on which the adult monarch will lay its eggs, has plummeted.
In 2013, it was estimated that just 1 percent of the common milkweed present in 1999 remained in corn and soybean fields and, tragically, while milkweed is not harmed by many herbicides, it is easily killed by glyphosate.7 A 2017 study published in the journal Ecography further noted a strong connection between large-scale Monarch deaths and glyphosate application.8,9
Neonicotinoid Pesticides Implicated in Bee, Butterfly and Predatory Insect Declines
Neonicotinoid pesticides, which are widely used in intensive agricultural operations, have been implicated in the decline of bees, particularly in commercially bred species like honeybees and bumblebees, although wild foraging bees may be negatively affected also.10 Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides on the planet.
As systemic pesticides, the chemicals are typically applied to seeds before they’re planted, then taken up by plants as they grow, contaminating flowers, nectar and pollen. “Neonicotinoids are suspected to pose an unacceptable risk to bees, partly because of their systemic uptake in plants, and the European Union has therefore introduced a moratorium on three neonicotinoids as seed coatings in flowering crops that attract bees,” a study published in Nature revealed in 2015.11
Separate research published in the journal Nature also suggests that combined exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides and parasites may alter queen bees’ physiology and survival, thereby potentially destroying the whole hive.12 Butterflies are also being affected.
Researchers from the University of Nevada tracked 67 butterfly species at four locations for at least 20 years.13 At each site, declines in the number of butterfly species were most closely linked to increased used of neonicotinoids, even more so than other potential factors in butterfly declines, like land development.14
Applying the chemicals to plant seeds, rather than spraying them across a field, was supposed to reduce the effects on non-target insects, but research published in PeerJ found both types of insecticides are equally damaging.15 The study revealed that the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in North American and European farming systems led to a 10 percent to 20 percent decline in predatory insects like tiger beetles, which is similar to those caused by “broadcast applications” of pyrethroid insecticides.
Like pollinators, predatory insects also have an important role in the ecosystem, contributing “billions of dollars a year to agriculture through the elimination of crop pest insects,” study author Margaret Douglas, postdoctoral researcher in entomology, Penn State, said in a news release.16
Another predatory insect, parasitoid wasps, are also at risk from the chemicals. Research revealed that exposure to just 1 nanogram of the neonicotinoid imidacloproid, while not enough to kill the insect, reduced mating rates by up to 80 percent, which is essentially the same thing on a specieswide level.17
What Happens if Honey Bees, Other Flying Insects Disappear?
It’s extremely important that steps are taken to protect bees, butterflies and other pollinators. These creatures are necessary to help 80 percent of flowering plants reproduce and are involved in the production of 1 out of every 3 bites of food. A sampling of the produce that would disappear without bees is below.18
There are ramifications beyond pollinators as well. Scott Black, executive director of the Portland, Oregon-based environmental group Xerces Society, told The Washington Post, “If you like to eat nutritious fruits and vegetables, you should thank an insect. If you like salmon, you can thank a tiny fly that the salmon eat when they’re young … The whole fabric of our planet is built on plants and insects and the relationship between the two.”19
Reducing Pesticide Usage Is Key
The application of chemicals in agriculture is now so commonplace that it seems necessary, but pesticide usage can be cut — without harming yields. According to an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), treating soybean seeds with neonicotinoids provides no significant financial or agricultural benefits for farmers.20 The researchers also noted there are several other foliar insecticides available that can combat pests as effectively as neonicotinoid seed treatments, with fewer risks.
Other studies suggest reducing the use of pesticides may actually reduce crop losses.21 The reason for this is because neonic-coated seeds harm beneficial insects that help kill pests naturally,22 thereby making any infestation far worse than it needs to be. According to other research, ecologically-based farming that helps kill soybean aphids without pesticides could save farmers in four states (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin) nearly $240 million in losses each year.23
There’s much work to be done, as despite such findings, farmers have very limited ability to avoid neonic-treated seeds. Still, positive changes are being made by some farmers. John Tooker, associate professor of entomology, Penn State, who was involved in the study that found neonicotinoids are harming predatory insects, noted that the use of integrated pest management (IPM) is also essential.
A 2015 study found that IPM techniques reduced pesticide use while boosting crop yields in a meta-analysis of 85 sites in 24 countries.24 Some were even able to eliminate pesticide use entirely using techniques such as crop rotation and pheromone traps to capture insect pests. Tooker said in a news release:25
“Substantial research exists supporting the value of IPM for pest control … It is the best chance we have of conserving beneficial insect species while maintaining productivity in our agricultural systems.”
Restoring Prairies, Choosing Grass Fed Is Essential for Biodiversity, Protecting Insect Populations
It’s now common knowledge that deforestation leading to the tragic loss of vast swatches of rainforest is devastating the environment. Lesser known is the fact that U.S. prairies are equally as diverse and important to the ecosystem as rainforests; they’re also similarly threatened.
Since the early 1800s, grasslands in North America have decreased by 79 percent — and in some areas by 99.9 percent,26 largely to plant vast swatches of chemically intensive genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy. A report by the U.S. Geological Survey explained, in part, why this is so tragic:27
“Grasslands rank among the most biologically productive of all communities. Their high productivity stems from high retention of nutrients, efficient biological recycling, and a structure that provides for a vast array of animal and plant life …
Grasslands also contribute immense value to watersheds and provide forage and habitat for large numbers of domestic and wild animals. Nevertheless, current levels of erosion in North America exceed the prairie soil’s capacity to tolerate sediment and nutrient loss, thus threatening a resource essential to sustain future generations.”
Unfortunately, a two-crop planting cycle of GE corn and soybeans, along with CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) that raise one type of meat, has become the dominant model in the Midwest, thanks to the federal farm policy that subsidizes these crops, with devastating consequences to human health and the environment. Choosing grass fed products like grass fed beef and bison over those raised in CAFOs is a solution that we can all take part in.
Consumer demand for more humane, environmentally friendly grass fed beef is prompting some farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture techniques. In the Midwest, farmers are slowly adopting the use of cover crops and no-till farming, which improves soil health and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides, benefiting insects. This is why sourcing your foods from a local farmer is one of your best bets to ensure you’re getting something wholesome while also supporting biodiversity on the planet.
And, you’ll be supporting the small farms — not the mega-farming corporations — in your area. Ideally, support farmers who are using diverse cropping methods, such as planting of cover crops, raising animals on pasture and other methods of regenerative agriculture that protect beneficial insects. In addition, take steps to make your own backyard friendlier to your insect friends, by eliminating the use of pesticides and other chemicals and planting a diverse variety of native flowers and other plants.
A declassified document from the CIA archives in the form of a letter from a CIA task force addressed to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency details the close relationship that exists between the CIA and mainstream media and academia.
The document states that the CIA task force “now has relationships with reporters from every major wire service, newspaper, news weekly, and television network in the nation,” and that “this has helped us turn some ‘intelligence failure’ stories into ‘intelligence success” stories,’ and has contributed to the accuracy of countless others.” Furthermore, it explains how the agency has “persuaded reporters to postpone, change, hold, or even scrap stories that could have adversely affected national security interests or jeopardized sources and methods.”
Although it is a document outlining their desire to become more open and transparent, the deception outlined by various whistleblowers (example) requires us to read between the lines and recognize that the relationships shared between intelligence agencies and our sources of information are not always warranted and pose inherent conflicts of interest.
Herein lies the problem: What is “national security,” and who determines that definition? JFK bravely told the world that the “dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it.” He also said that “there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.”
“National security” is now an umbrella term used to justify concealing information, but who makes these decisions? You can read more about our world of secrecy and the Black Budget here.
Not only are countless documents classified every single year in North America, but false information and “fake news” are routinely dispersed, mainly by mainstream media outlets — a reality that is clearly conveyed in this document and has been expressed by multiple mainstream media journalists themselves. And as with the NSA surveillance program that was exposed by Edward Snowden, it’s a global problem.
Dr. Udo Ulfkotte, a prominent German journalist and editor for more than two decades,is one example. He blew the whistle on public television, stating that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agencies under his own name and that noncompliance with these orders would result in him losing his job. (source)
Sharyl Attkisson and Amber Lyon, both well-known mainstream media reporters and journalists, have also exposed funded movements by political, corporate, and other special interests, and have revealed that they are routinely paid by the U.S. government as well as foreign governments to selectively report and distort information on certain events. (source)(source)
The document not only outlines the CIA’s role in media, but also the entire entertainment industry in general, lending further weight to revelations offered by celebrities like Jim Carrey. He appeared as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, saying that, “For years now, talk show hosts, people on television, people in sitcoms have been, hired by the government to throw you off the tracks, to distract you, to make you laugh and stuff like that, make you happy and docile so you don’t know what’s really going on.”
While some question whether he was merely joking, the facts still remain. Another celebrity, who was clearly serious, is Roseanne Barr, who referenced the CIA’s MK Ultra mind control program — a previously classified research program through the CIA’s scientific intelligence division that tested behavioural modification and perception manipulation on human beings.
What we seem to have here is an attempt to manipulate public perception of global events through mainstream media and news publications. But what’s perhaps most interesting is the fact that a lot of people are now waking up and seeing through many of these lies and manipulation tactics. Instead of just blindly believing what we hear on television, more people are starting to think critically, do independent research, and examine a wide array of sources and information.
So many opportunities have emerged within the past few years allowing others to see this more clearly. One was the recent “fake news” epidemic, where evidence surfaced exposing information that threatened the global elite. Wikileaks is perhaps one of the greatest examples. For mainstream media to basically label everything else as “fake news” was quite ironic, given that it seems the majority of people consider mainstream media themselves to be the real “fake news,” and this is now even more evident given the information presented above in this article.
The documents also touch upon the fact that they are constantly in touch with the entertainment industry, giving advice on scenes and direction, as well as how things happened in certain situations. Personally, I feel the industry is largely used to push propaganda, like patriotism. Patriotism is pumped into the population to support a large military in the name of “national security.” We are being fooled, wars are not waged for defence, but for offence and to push forth political agendas.
So you see, there are multiple reasons for these CIA connections to various industries.
From a young age we’re taught that getting an education is the key to living a good life. Getting a decent job, making good money, even finding the right partner — all depend on following a certain path. Yet many concepts and topics are, as previously illustrated, kept from public viewing, and this includes plenty of important science.
The U.S. intelligence community investigated parapsychology (ESP, remote viewing, telepathy, etc.) for more than two decades, for instance. Russell Targ, a physicist who has spent several decades working in a U.S. government program exploring these concepts, recently shared his experience doing so in a TED talk that is now approaching 1 million views.
Another great example of Black Budget science comes from Ben Rich, the second director of Lockheed Skunkworks, who worked there from 1975-1991. He’s been called the Father of Stealth, having overseen the development of the first stealth fighter, the F-117 Nighthawk. Before his death, Rich made several shocking open statements about the reality of UFOs and extraterrestrials.
“We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects, and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity. Anything you can imagine, we already know how to do it.”
“We now have technology to take ET home. No it won’t take someone’s lifetime to do it. There is an error in the equations. We know what it is. We now have the capability to travel to the stars.”
“There are two types of UFOs — the ones we build and the ones ‘they’ build.”
To read more about those comments and examine the sources, you can refer to this article that goes into more detail about it.
Information like this, including testimony from hundreds of others, suggests that the “classified world” is much more advanced than our mainstream one.
This particular document states that the agency exposes administrators of academic institutions to the agency on a regular basis.
Obviously, as with any other job, the CIA would be looking for what they consider to be qualified individuals. But the document does outline its close relationship with academia in general.
This is because certain developments and information that stem from academia could threaten national security and therefore must be kept out of the curriculum, and the public domain.
Take, for example, documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that reveal how the U.S. government has been using a secret system to withhold the approval of some applications.
This 50-page document was obtained by Kilpatrick Towsend & Stockton, LLP, who commonly represent major tech companies that include Apple, Google, and Twitter (to name a few). You can view that entire document here. (source)
The program delaying patent applications is called the Sensitive Application Warning System (SWAS). Usually when an application is submitted for a patent approval, it requires a couple of examiners who work with the Patent Office to go through their process of approval. This process usually takes one to two years, but applications that are filed in SAWS must be approved from several people, and can be delayed for a number of years.
One great example (out of many) of delayed patent applications comes from Dr. Gerald F. Ross, who filed a patent application for a new invention he had devised to defeat the jamming of electromagnetic transmissions at specified frequencies. It was not until June 17, 2014 (almost 37 years later) that this patent was granted. (source)
It’s important to note (as reported by the Federation of American Scientists — see annotated bibliography) that there were over 5,000 inventions that were under secrecy orders at the end of fiscal year 2014, which marked the highest number of secrecy orders in effect since 1994. (source)
The 1971 list indicates that patents for solar photovoltaic generators were subject to review and possible restriction if the photovoltaics were more than 20% efficient. Energy conversion systems were likewise subject to review and possible restriction if they offered conversion efficiencies “in excess of 70-80%.” (source)
This is all thanks to an act many people are unaware of. It’s called the “Invention Secrecy Act,” and it was written in 1951. Under this act, patent applications on new inventions can be subject to secrecy orders, which can restrict their publication if government agencies believe that their disclosure would be harmful to national security. (source)(source)
So, as you see, science and academia in the mainstream world can only go so far. We continue to rely on government institutions to define truth and reality for us, to outline the limits of what is possible. In many instances, these places to which we go to “learn” are actually diminishing, not supporting, our creativity and critical thinking skills. That’s not to say that there aren’t good aspects of the experience, but overall, we are not accessing our full potential.
When information is hidden from us as well as manipulated at the same time, it’s only going to spark more curiosity among the people. And that’s one aspect of the current shift in consciousness that’s happening on our planet. We’re beginning to see the human experience in a different light, and starting to recognize that the time for change is really here. What are we going to do about it?
(Tyler Durden) The last time there was a widespread physical gold counterfeiting scare was in the summer of 2012 when as we reported the discovery of a single 10 oz Tungsten-filled gold bar in Manhattan's jewelry district led to a panic among the dealer community, which then resulted in local jewelry outlets discovering at least ten more fake 10-ounce "gold bars" filled with Tungsten. Fast forward to today when a similar instance of gold counterfeiting has been discovered, this time in Canada, and where the fake bar in question had been "certified" by the highest possible authority. Read more »