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Genetically engineered salmon on your plate without your knowledge


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

In a survey of 800 Americans, 89% said they were in favor of mandatory labels on foods that have been genetically engineered or contain genetically engineered ingredients. When asked whether they’d rather have genetically modified organism labels printed on food packages or in the form of a bar code that could be scanned with a smartphone, 88% said they preferred printed labels.1

Yet, in a facility in Albany, Indiana, eggs intended to grow the first GE salmon for human consumption in the U.S. arrived in May 2019. AquaBounty, the company that created the so-called “frankenfish,” plans to begin harvesting the GE salmon in late 2020.2 When it arrives in supermarkets and restaurants, however, it may be hard to decipher whether the salmon you’re eating is GE or not.

AquaBounty GE salmon to be labeled ‘bioengineered’ — but not until 2022

Opinion polls from a few years ago suggest most Americans don’t want to eat GE fish,3 but the labeling for AquaBounty’s salmon, which is trademarked “aquadvantage,” will make it hard for Americans to avoid it. The USDA included AquaBounty’s salmon on a list of foods that must be labeled “bioengineered” (BE) under the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard. According to the USDA:

“The Standard defines bioengineered foods as those that contain detectable genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (rDNA) techniques and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.”

However, while the disclosure regulation for “bioengineered” foods may start to be implemented as early as 2019 for some products, it doesn’t become mandatory until January 1, 2022. Thus, AquaBounty can release its GE salmon initially without even disclosing that it’s bioengineered — a term that will be confusing for many people who are looking instead for the more familiar GMO or GE label.

Adding even more smoke and mirrors, the regulation allows the disclosure to be electronic or digital in nature, such as in the form of a quick response, or QR, code that must be scanned with a cellphone to get the information and “instructions to ‘Scan here for more food information’ or similar language, and include a phone number.”4

In 2016, a survey of 1,011 U.S. adults by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and the department of human ecology at Rutgers University, found 21% of respondents said “it is not too likely” that they would scan a QR code to find out whether a product was GE and 38 percent said that “it is not likely at all” that they would do so.5

Restaurants won’t have to disclose GE salmon

Not only is the term bioengineering confusing, and any QR codes used for disclosure likely to go unscanned by many, but food served in restaurants or “similar retail food establishments” is exempt from the labeling standard. This means that restaurants, cafeterias and even salad bars that sell food within a retail establishment don’t have to disclose to consumers if they’re serving GE salmon.6

“It’s their customer, not ours,” Sylvia Wulf, AquaBounty’s CEO, told The Associated Press,7 in a surprisingly flippant comment. You could certainly ask the restaurant or foodservice location directly if the salmon on their menu is genetically engineered, but you’re at their mercy to disclose it.

Caleb Churchill, a chef and owner of a restaurant near AquaBounty’s Indiana facility, told NPR, “I think a lot of people that are chefs will entertain it but be very cautious about putting it on their menu. You know, we’re the middleman, I think, is the way you got to kind of look at it.”8

However, the news outlet also quoted another restaurant owner in Indiana, Kirsten Serrano, who said she’s opposed to the GE fish. “I definitely want to say no to GMOs,” she said. “I think that, you know, local is fantastic. The farm-to-table movement is fantastic. You know, we are a farm-to-table restaurant. But local doesn’t trump everything. You know, you still need to look at sourcing and quality.”9

AquaBounty has marketed its GE salmon as a type of local food that’s “built closer to consumers to reduce the need for energy-intensive air freight shipping and transportation,”10 but there are serious concerns with growing GE fish.

GE salmon grow twice as fast as wild salmon

The idea for AquaBounty’s GE salmon came from physiologist Garth Fletcher, who decided to alter Atlantic salmon DNA so they would grow faster. In the PBS video above, Fletcher says, “Because behind every production system is an accountant that says are we making any money, can we produce the fish faster, can we turn the inventory over, type idea.”11 PBS NewsHour Weekend’s Megan Thompson adds:12

“A salmon’s growth hormones are more active during certain times of the year. Fletcher thought, what if he could get the hormones to stay active all the time?

He took DNA from a fish called an ocean pout, which produces a special protein all year long that helps it survive in frigid waters. Fletcher took the DNA that keeps those proteins turned on and running and connected it to a salmon growth hormone gene, which had the effect of keeping the growth hormone on.”

In November 2015, the U.S. FDA approved AquaBounty salmon, which contains the DNA from two other fish, a growth-promoting gene from a Chinook salmon and a “promoter” gene from the eel-like ocean pout.

As Thompson noted, 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,13 where the GE fish don’t have to be labeled, 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.14

GE salmon is not the same as wild salmon

In the PBS video, Ron Stotish, AquaBounty’s chief technology officer, makes the statement that the GE salmon is “exactly the same” as nongenetically modified salmon, and uses this as the reasoning for why labeling shouldn’t be required:15

“As a small company, with your first offering, with a limited quantity, there’s a huge risk associated with just putting a label, genetically modified, genetically engineered, on it. If it’s identical to the traditional food, why put a label on it?”

Except, GE salmon isn’t exactly the same as wild salmon. Even Thompson quipped, “But its DNA has been altered.” The fact is, little is known about the health consequences of consuming these altered salmon, as doing so is an unprecedented experiment. But in their issue brief on GE salmon, consumer group Food & Water Watch raised several important points:16

“The limited summaries of data that the FDA has released about the food safety of GE salmon show troubling results. GE salmon exhibited 40 percent higher levels of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1, which has been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers.

Also troublingly, GE salmon exhibited as much as 52 percent higher levels of ‘allergenic potency,’ which indicates possible allergic reactions from consumers.”

There were also concerns that the salmon may have less protein and differences in vitamin, mineral and amino acid levels compared to non-GE salmon which, according to Food & Water Watch, “the FDA did not rigorously investigate.”17

What if GE salmon escape into the environment?

In the video, Stotish touts the GE fish as a way to reduce global carbon footprints due to their “local” nature:18

“If you have a fish that grows a little faster, such as an Aquadvantage that reaches market weight in half the time, you can produce those fish almost anywhere because you can grow them in a land-based aquaculture facility. Closer to consumers.

So you can reduce the transportation cost, you can reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation. So this opens up a whole new opportunity for global salmon production.”

But they pose one of the gravest environmental threats of all should they escape into the environment. While this seems unlikely in the land-locked Indiana facility, the Canadian AquaBounty facility is located across from a river that reaches the Atlantic Ocean. There are filters and “containment barriers” in place to prevent accidental escape, Stotish says, and the fish are microchipped so they can be tracked.

“We’ve been operating for more than 25 years and we’ve never lost a single fish,” Stotish told PBS.19 What if, however, someone — say a disgruntled employee — decides to intentionally release the GE fish into the wild? Most of AquaBounty’s fish are altered to be sterile so they can’t breed with wild salmon.

But the key word is “most.” A small percentage is not sterile, which means they could theoretically breed with wild fish populations, leading to generations of unnaturally fast-growing salmon, with unknown consequences.

PBS also spoke with Sharon Labchuk of the group Earth Action, who spoke out against the risks of GE salmon, “Do we have the right to manipulate the DNA of another living being? And, I don’t agree that that’s something that humans should be able to do.”20

Farmed salmon is no better

While farmed salmon isn’t genetically altered, it’s not a healthier or more sustainable option than GE salmon. One of the major problems is that farmed salmon are typically raised in pens in the ocean, where their excrement and food residues are disrupting local marine life. The potential for escape is also high, and farmed salmon is high in pollutants.21

Even land-based salmon aquaculture is problematic, according to research published in Scientific Reports, which performed an analysis of four salmon aquacultures in Chile.22 The facilities, often described as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) of the sea, pump water from rivers into their hatcheries, then pump it back out to the river once it’s no longer clean.

The researchers found the water is often contaminated with dissolved organic matter (DOM) — a mixture of liquid excrement, food residue and other salmon excretions, along with disinfectants and antibiotics.

The release of DOM into Chile’s rivers is causing significant ramifications for the entire ecosystem. Upstream of the fish farms, the researchers detected higher amounts of natural algae biofilms on rocks, which help to produce oxygen and provide food for organisms that fish later eat.

Downstream, however, biofilms had a greater abundance of bacteria, which use up oxygen and may lead to low-oxygen environments that could threaten many species. The researchers suggested that no additional fish farms should be installed on Chilean rivers, noting, “[R]ivers should not be misused as natural sewage treatment plants.”23

How to avoid GE salmon

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” comes from fish farms. To avoid GE salmon, avoid any products labeled “bioengineered” and check any QR codes necessary to find out additional information. If you order salmon in a restaurant and it doesn’t specify that it’s wild-caught, avoid it — or at least ask the restaurant directly whether it’s GMO or not.

Fortunately, more than 80 retailers, including Aldi, Costco, Kroger and Meijer, have policies against selling GE seafood,24 and the more consumers speak out against it, the less likely U.S. stores will be to sell it — and restaurants to serve it.


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Nutty Almond Butter Bread Recipe


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

Recipe from Naturally Savvy

Apart from being a popular flavor and ingredient in food all over the world, almonds are one of the healthiest nuts that can provide immense benefits to your health. This Almond Butter Bread Recipe from Naturally Savvy uses creamy almond butter as the main ingredient for this delicious, no-grain bread. Whether you eat it alone or pair it with other foods such as fruits, vegetables or high-quality protein, you can be sure that your meal will be both healthy and delicious.

Ingredients

1 cup natural almond butter with no additives (including the oil that gathers at the top)

4 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

Pinch of Himalayan salt

Procedure

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8×4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the almond butter and eggs together until blended smoothly. Then whisk in the salt and baking soda.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes.

4. The bread is done when you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

This No-Grain Almond Butter Bread Is Fuss-Free and Healthy

Almond butter is rising in popularity not just as a wonderful spread for snacks, but as a delicious ingredient for pastries and breads, just like in this recipe. But the taste isn’t just one of almond butter’s good qualities — if the butter you use is made from organic almonds and deprived of trans fat-loaded oils, you may be able to reap some of the health benefits from these nuts.

Almonds can greatly boost your heart health, as a study published in the journal Circulation pointed out. People with abnormally high lipid levels in the blood, such as cholesterol, significantly lowered their risk for coronary heart disease when they snacked on whole almonds.

Beneficial healthy fats and an amino acid called l-arginine are also present in almonds, and these help enhance your vascular health. Don’t skimp on the almond skins either, because they are loaded with antioxidants such as phenols, flavonoids and phenolic acids.

If you’re purchasing ready-made almond butter, make sure that you buy it from a trusted, organic source that uses raw almonds instead of pasteurized almonds. Go easy when snacking on whole almonds or almond butter as well — they’re high in protein, as one almond has 1 gram of protein.

Using high-quality pasture-raised organic eggs for this recipe is important. Eggs provide structure and stability for your batter, add moisture to cakes and other baked items and even act as a glue or glaze.

Unlike eggs that come from conventional animal feeding operations (CAFOs), pasture-raised, organic eggs will not only lead to a healthier finished product, but contribute nutrients to your food as well. Research has shown that organic pasture-raised eggs are higher in vitamin A (2/3 times more), omega-3 fatty acids (two times more), vitamin E (three times more) and beta-carotene (seven times more).

About the Blog

Founded by two holistic nutritionists and a trusted expert on healthy living, Naturally Savvy’s main focus is to make sure its readers eat organic and whole foods, while learning how to integrate nutrition into their daily lives. The website shares the latest news on heathy living, lessons about the harmful ingredients lurking in various food items available today and other tips to make you and your family live a happy and healthy life.


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Canola oil — When a great oil isn’t so great after all


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

Warning: This oil comes with potentially damaging side effects due to either the ingredient it’s made from or the manufacturing process used to extract it. Because these negative effects overshadow the potential benefits, I do not recommend this oil for therapeutic use. Always be aware of the potential side effects of any herbal oil before using.

Canola oil is widely promoted as “one of the best oils for heart health.”1 However, this information is rather flawed, as canola oil and similar highly processed cooking oils hold untold dangers to your health.

Read on to learn what you should know about canola oil, and what my personal recommendations for the best cooking oil are.

What is canola oil?

Referred to as “the healthiest cooking oil” by its makers, canola oil is low in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) such as oleic acid, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic (ALA).2,3 The oil is produced from a series of processes ranging from solvent extraction with hexane, to refining, bleaching and deodorization.4

Although canola is a type of rapeseed, the canola you see on store shelves is not the rapeseed you may be familiar with that is used for industrial and nonedible purposes, such as for lubricants, plastics and hydraulic fluids. The edible canola oil, on the other hand, is specifically grown as a food crop, genetically altered to contain significantly lower levels of erucic acid and glucosinolate in it, which makes it safe to eat.5

The modification focuses on broadening the seasons and regions where the plants can be cultivated and maximizing yield. The bad news is that in order to boost the resistance, researchers have developed herbicide-tolerant canola, including Roundup-ready and Liberty-tolerant types.6

How is canola oil used?

Canola oil is a common ingredient in food products such as salad dressings, salad oil and margarines.7

Even though it’s marketed as a food product, according to the Canola Council of Canada, once plant-sourced oils like canola oil are processed they “can be used industrially to formulate lubricants, oils, fuels, soaps, paints, plastics, cosmetics or inks.”

Canola can also be used to produce ethanol and biodiesel. The point is, the Canola Council says, is that “just because you can do this doesn’t make the approved food oils at the grocery store somehow poisonous or harmful.”8

Composition of canola oil

Canola oil is often praised by the mainstream food industry due to its fatty acid content:9

  • Saturated fat — Canola oil contains about 7%, or about half the amount found in corn oil, olive oil and soybean oil.
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) — This is the most abundant fat in canola oil. The MUFA oleic acid makes up 61% of canola oil — second only to olive oil.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) — Compared to palm oil and olive oil, canola oil has a higher amount of PUFA. It has a ratio of omega-6 fat (linoleic acid) and omega-3 fat (alpha-linolenic acid) of 2-to-1.

How is canola oil made?

Unfortunately, details you’re told by vegetable oil manufacturers about canola oil’s production and benefits don’t tell the whole story. As mentioned, canola oil was created through the hybridization and genetic alteration of the rapeseed, a plant used for industrial purposes.10 Rapeseed oil came from the plant known as “rape,” from a Latin word meaning “turnip.”11 Along with cruciferous vegetables, rape is a domesticated crop belonging to the Brassicaceae family.12

Although rapeseed oil is composed of 60% monounsaturated fat, it is inedible because of two dangerous substances:

  • Erucic acid — a type of fatty acid that is associated with Keshan’s disease, characterized by fibrotic lesions in the heart13
  • Glucosinolates — bitter compounds that negatively affected the taste of rapeseed oil14

To turn rapeseed oil into an edible product, Canadian manufacturers used selective breeding to formulate seeds that had lower levels of erucic acid and glucosinolates. Canola oil, also known as “low erucic acid rapeseed (LEAR),” was formed.15

But, what the manufacturers don’t call attention to when they’re calling canola “healthy” is that hexane, one of the chemicals needed to extract oil from the seeds, is an HAP: a hazardous air pollutant. This begs the question of whether hexane is safe when ingested.16

According to the Toxicology Data Network, hexane may target the central nervous system and respiratory system when ingested.17 While hexane occurs in canola oil in only minute amounts, there are no sufficient studies that prove that it is safe to ingest.

Another part of the processing of canola oil is deodorizing, which is the step responsible for its bland taste. The bad news with this is that deodorizing reduces canola oil’s omega-3 fatty acids by up to 20%18 — so in the end, there’s not enough omega-3s for you to reap the benefits.

Is canola oil safe?

Although the food industry says it is, I do not believe canola oil is safe. Despite its “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status, no long-term human safety studies have been conducted on canola oil.19 Animal studies, however, contradict some of the health claims about canola oil.

For example, in Canadian research published in 1997 in Nutrition Research, piglets fed with milk replacers containing canola oil had signs of vitamin E deficiency, even if the replacement contained sufficient amounts of the nutrient. Deficiency in vitamin E can be dangerous, as it can lead to free radical damage and cardiovascular problems.20

A year later, researchers found the piglets fed with canola oil had reduced platelet count and an increase in platelet size. The researchers concluded that the ingestion of canola oil interfered with normal hematological development.21 In another animal test conducted, rats ended up with high blood pressure, an increased risk for stroke and a shortened lifespan when canola oil became their primary source of fat.22

It is important to take note that these studies were made prior to the introduction of GE canola oil. This means you face not only the dangers of canola oil discovered in these studies, but also the potential hazards of genetically modified vegetable oils that may remain as residues in the final product.

Side effects of canola oil

So, what really happens when you use canola oil in your food? The answer is that canola oil and other heated vegetable oils are some of the worst ingredients you can add to your food, if for no other reason that eating foods with canola oil will only distort your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

The bottom line is if you’re using canola oil, it’s time to throw it out and replace it with fats that will truly benefit your health. One of your best options is coconut oil, which I personally use. Olive oil is also good, but if you’re going to cook with an oil, coconut is the better choice because it tolerates higher heat levels, as I explain later in this section.

Another problem with canola oil is that it’s even more dangerous when hydrogenated, which is common in processed foods. Manufacturers hydrogenate the oil because it prolongs processed foods’ shelf life.23 And then, to make matters worse, consuming these foods exposes you to even higher levels of trans fats.24

So, the idea that canola oil is beneficial to your health is nothing but a myth. Another myth is that saturated fat is bad for you. The “bad” fat belief stemmed from Ancel Keys’ Seven Countries Study,25 which linked saturated fat with heart disease. The truth is that his research was manipulated to achieve the conclusion that saturated fat is “bad,” as he selectively analyzed data from seven countries rather than comparing all data from 22 studies available to him at the time.

When you look at the majority of the data he had available to him, you’ll find that all the data combined actually disproved his theory. The truth is saturated fat does not cause heart disease and is, in fact, an important part of a healthy diet.26

The reason coconut oil is the best choice for cooking is that it’s resistant to heat damage, unlike canola oil and other vegetable oils. Coconut oil also carries beneficial fat like lauric acid, which provides antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoa properties.27

If you’re not cooking with it, another beneficial oil I recommend is olive oil. It’s important to remember that olive oil is highly sensitive to heat damage, so you definitely don’t want to cook with it. But it’s great at room temperature drizzled over cold salads.

Another caveat: Make sure you purchase only high-quality authentic olive oil, as 60% to 90% of the brands sold in the market today are adulterated. Good quality olive oil contains important vitamins and nutrients, and can be a salad superstar if you buy the right kind. For more information on olive oil, check out my article on using it in salads, “Olive Oil: The salad superstar.”


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