Wine - nature, Big Pharma, and orphan drugs

Cross-posted from

What can wine tell us about the world? Plenty, it turns out.  It is one of civilization's oldest products.  At one time it was a necessity, when food was served rotten and water was where you washed and evacuated.  Now it is enjoying a resurgence.  It is an agricultural product, and a unique one.  You see, vineyards have kept records of temperature, yield, and ripeness-dates for centuries, giving us incredibly precise records that tell us reams about the global environment. It is also a luxury item, particularly at the top end.  As such, its sale and purchase can tell us volumes about the global economy.

Today we look at nature, Big Pharma, and orphan drugs.

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Edwards Takes All the Fun Out of Imported Mystery Food

I'm adventurous when it comes to different cuisines. I love to experiment with different, unknown and improperly labeled food items from other countries. So what if they occasionally contain lead and yummy industrial additives? It looks like that spoilsport John Edwards wants to take all the fun out of my gustatory Russian roulette. Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Imagine wanting our food supplies to be safe!

Today, Edwards introduced plans to take the thrill out of eating something from overseas that might be poisonous, giving your child that shiny new lead painted toy from China, or shining up those pearly whites with tainted toothpaste.

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Indestructible Food: With Love from America, Inc.

By Cameron Salisbury

There can be no doubt that the United States has one of the most legally polluted food supplies in the Western world. Antibiotics and hormones have long been allowed in chicken and cattle feed, a practice forbidden in Europe. Plastics, which release compounds that interfere with normal cell division, are present in baby bottles, soda cans, and milk and water bottles We have more additives of all kinds: preservatives, dyes, color enhancers, taste enhancers, texture enhancers, sugar substitutes, emulsifiers, thickeners, all labeled `GRAS', generally regarded as safe, by the porous safety net charged with protecting our food supply: the Food and Drug Administration.  

Especially since about 1970, as more chemicals and other `enhancements,' like genetically modified ingredients, have inundated the grocery store, other things have also been happening. Consider that, with no known cause:  A girl entering puberty at age eight is no longer considered an anomaly; the U.S. no longer grows the tallest people on earth- in fact, we aren't even in the top 5; our life expectancy has fallen behind many other nations; we are among the heaviest people on earth; the rate of the devastating condition known as autism is mushrooming.

There is no research linking these facts to our food supply because there seems to be no research whatever on the impact of a degraded food supply on human health.  But the incidental evidence is causing plenty of unease. The legal contamination of the food supply has now reached levels where no one can predict the outcome, and the adulteration just keeps on coming.

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Why the FDA Cannot Protect Patients Alone

Consumers and patients rely on both federal safety regulations and strong state remedies to safeguard public health.  The Food and Drug Administration has been charged with assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of drugs and medical devices.  When the FDA fails to meet this responsibility, injured patients have the right to hold drug and device manufacturers accountable through state remedies and the civil justice system.  

Federal preemption of state remedies, as seen in the FDA's recent drug warning label rule, strips away the safety net of state remedies.  Recent FDA failures demonstrate that the federal regulatory process must be supplemented by state remedies in order to fully ensure the safety of American families.  

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FDA in danger of being FEMA-ized

Despite a glaring need for more resources, made apparent by dangers from contaminated imports like contaminated drugs from China, toothpaste made with anti-freeze, and pet food contaminated with melamine, the local county's school system in Montgomery County (MD) has more staff and a bigger budget than all the nation's food, drug, blood and device inspectors. Compare the NIH budget for 2007 of $28.6 Billion, with FDA's budget: FDA gets 1/20th of that, at under $1.5 billion.

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