5 Things I’d Like to See Happen This Year
In the natural health community, we have no shortage of great causes to take on. However, it seems that every year, while our collective voice gets louder and louder, the “non-believers” also increase their efforts to maintain the status quo.
I think that the start of a new year is a good time to consider the issues that are important to you personally, so I came up with a list of 5 things that I’d like to see change in 2011. It was a difficult list to create, since there are, in fact, many issues that I care deeply about. I’d love to hear about what’s on your list, so please leave a comment and share your thoughts.
The recent epidemic of mass animal deaths occurring around the world has raised some disturbing questions about our effects on the environment. While some experts say that mass animal deaths happen all the time and that the deaths are unrelated and likely a coincidence, others have speculated that military tests, pesticides or other human-created chemical toxins may be to blame.
I, like most people, find the mass deaths of birds and fish troubling, but I am perhaps even more alarmed by the ambivalent attitude that many experts seem to have on the matter. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve come across numerous media reports citing experts who suggest that the animal deaths are “normal” and probably no big deal. I am not a scientist, so I can’t say with any certainty that these animal deaths are related, but I do think that a thorough investigation is more than warranted. The expression “a canary in a coal mine” comes to mind. Maybe these events are harbingers and there are lessons we can learn now to protect our health in the future.
This got me thinking about some other issues that I really wish more people, namely our government, would take more seriously for the sake of human health and that of our environment.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are five things that I would like to see happen in 2011:
1) A crackdown on chemicals
Last spring, the President’s Cancer Panel released an alarming report confirming what many public health activists have been saying for years: Toxic chemicals in the air, water and in our food are literally killing us. The report said that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from unregulated toxic chemicals in the environment and that “the incidence of some cancers, including some most common among children, is increasing for unexplained reasons,” and exposure to chemical toxins may be to blame.
There are some 80,000 chemicals known to be in use in the U.S., and many of them are used by millions of Americans every day. One of them, bisphenol A (BPA), remains unregulated in the U.S., despite growing evidence that links BPA with cancer and reproductive diseases. Canada and the European Union have taken action to begin restricting the use of BPA in consumer products, yet the U.S. government has scarcely acknowledged BPA’s toxicity. The FDA can’t continue to ignore the scientific evidence that BPA is dangerous to human health, and the same goes for the hundreds of other unregulated chemicals known to be hazardous.
The fact is, only 100 years ago, man-made chemicals hardly existed. Now, chemicals surround us – we breathe, ingest and absorb them – and we’re expected to just accept this as a fact of modern life and to deal with the health consequences that ensue. We can’t afford for this to be the case anymore.
2) Some ground rules for GMOs
The U.S. government needs to lay some guidelines for the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that have begun to enter our food supply. The highly controversial Food Safety Bill passed last month does nothing to address the issue. In Europe, GMO foods must be labeled as such, but in the U.S., the only way to be assured that your food is non-GMO is to buy organic foods (or to grow your own). While the jury is still out on the long-term implications of GMO consumption, there is already plenty of research showing that GMOs could be dangerous.
Americans need to demand that a law be passed requiring all GMO foods to be labeled. Currently, many of the processed foods sold in the U.S. contain GMOs, but are not labeled. And last year, we learned that the FDA was going to allow GMO salmon to be sold without disclosure, but due to massive public outcry, this did not happen. If you believe that you have a right to know whether the foods you buy have been genetically modified, I urge you to support the Organic Consumer Association’s Truth-in-Labeling campaign.
3) Doctors recognizing the importance of vitamin D
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released new recommendations for vitamin D, which many vitamin D experts have agreed will do nothing to address the growing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. The new recommended daily intake is set at 600 IU, up from 400 IU, despite most experts calling for the recommendation to be raised to between 1,000 and 2,000 IU. The IOM’s report flew in the face of hundreds of published studies, which have shown that vitamin D deficiency is linked to health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cognitive decline, depression, chronic pain and low immunity.
Regardless of what the government says about vitamin D, it’s high time that all doctors begin examining the evidence for themselves and looking out for the best interests of their patients. Too many doctors, I’m afraid, do not recommend vitamin D testing and scoff at the idea of supplementing with anything more than the IOM recommendations. I, like many of the experts on the matter, believe that countless diseases and deaths could be prevented with vitamin D testing and appropriate supplementation. As a proud sponsor of the non-profit The Vitamin D Council, I encourage you to visit their website for more information about vitamin D.
4) Insurance companies being made to pay for removal of mercury fillings
The FDA needs to finally admit that mercury amalgam fillings pose a serious threat to human health, so that insurance companies can be made to pay for the safe removal of such fillings. The cost of having mercury fillings properly removed is prohibitive for many people, and they have little choice but to suffer the ill effects of mercury toxicity, which can include neurological disorders, headaches, fatigue and other health problems.
An FDA advisory panel recently recommended that the FDA warn dentists and patients that fillings containing mercury could, in fact, be dangerous, which is a huge step in the right direction. Yet the American Dental Association and industry groups continue to claim that, although mercury is a toxic heavy metal, mercury fillings don’t release mercury vapor and are therefore perfectly safe.
When we wrote about this issue last month, we received a tremendous response from our readers, many of whom had been personally affected by mercury toxicity. We did have a few dentists criticize our commentary on the matter, arguing that amalgam fillings are perfectly safe. One actually told our readers to “get a life.” My only response to that would be “where there is smoke, there is fire.” Tens of thousands of suffering people can’t be wrong. Maybe the majority of people feel no noticeable effects associated with their mercury fillings, but the fact of the matter is that an unacceptable number of people are suffering.
5) A solution for the safe disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs
In 2007, Congress passed a law that set the wheels in motion to effectively ban all incandescent light bulbs by 2012. The law mandated that the majority of the light bulbs sold in the U.S be the new, more energy efficient, compact florescent variety (CFLs). The goal, which was certainly laudable, was to greatly reduce our overall energy consumption. However, this is what I call a “seesaw law.” Some improvements are made, but other problems are made worse. In this case, it’s pollution.
What Congress failed to address in the creation of this legislation is that CFLs contain mercury — not a lot, but a significant amount cumulatively, when every household and business in America is using CFLs daily and then tossing them in the trash. Nothing in the law deals with the disposal of these light bulbs. Twenty years from now, Congress may be saying “whoops.” I don’t know what the best solution is, from an environmental standpoint, but I’d like to see some traction in 2011 on a nationwide disposal strategy for all of these bulbs, or an effort to get the mercury out of them. In the meantime, the best way to find out how you can safely recycle or dispose of CFLs is to contact your local waste authority. There is also more information available on the EPA page on bulb disposal and on the website, Earth911.org.
The five items I’ve listed above are just some of the issues that matter most to me, but I know I barely scratched the surface on each of them, and certainly left out many others. What changes would you like to see happen in 2011? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Joshua Corn – Editor-in-Chief
Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career. Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential. Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of Stop Aging Now, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and is gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show. In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, animal lover and enjoys “living in the now” with his wife and two sons.