Tag Archives: drugs

Learnings from the “War on Drugs”

From Dan Baum, in Harper’s Magazine:

“In 1994, John Ehrlichman, the Watergate co-conspirator, unlocked for me one of the great mysteries of modern American history: How did the United States entangle itself in a policy of drug prohibition that has yielded so much misery and so few good results? Americans have been criminalizing psychoactive substances since San Francisco’s anti-opium law of 1875, but it was Ehrlichman’s boss, Richard Nixon, who declared the first “war on drugs” and set the country on the wildly punitive and counterproductive path it still pursues. I’d tracked Ehrlichman, who had been Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, to an engineering firm in Atlanta, where he was working on minority recruitment. I barely recognized him. He was much heavier than he’d been at the time of the Watergate scandal two decades earlier, and he wore a mountain-man beard that extended to the middle of his chest.

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Have you had your flu shot yet?

It’s totally understandable, after the public reactions to the H1N1 scare and controversy a few years back, that the drug cartel PR machine would be re-calibrated for the new environment. And this year it seems we’re starting to see some of the next generation of “grey magic” from those quarters. Amy Parker’s story, “Growing Up Unvaccinated”, excerpted below from Slate, and which has been widely reprinted, including in the Toronto Star, takes aim squarely at the advocates of a natural lifestyle, perhaps because they have been vaccination’s most outspoken critics.

It’s also worth noting that there was a recent controversy in Canada recently in which stocks of free vaccine were supposedly depleted and the question was, is it right for a drug store to take advantage of the situation by charging people $20 for a flu shot from the store’s own supply. The (not so hidden) message here is that the flu shot is so popular that stocks run out and people — Canadians even — willingly pay $20 to get it. Could the vaccine makers be taking a page from Steve Jobs’ playbook in creating artificial shortages to boost buzz around their product?

Screen grab from the Slate story by Amy Parker

“I am the ’70s child of a health nut. I wasn’t vaccinated. I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar till I was 1, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy; we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil.

I had an outdoor lifestyle; I grew up next to a farm in England’s Lake District, walked everywhere, did sports and danced twice a week, drank plenty of water. I wasn’t even allowed pop; even my fresh juice was watered down to protect my teeth, and I would’ve killed for white, shop-bought bread in my lunchbox once in a while and biscuits instead of fruit, like all the other kids. Continue reading

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ADHD drugs linked to suicide in kids

From David Bruser and Andrew Bailey on The Star.com:

“Adverse Reaction Report No. 324764

Submitted by: Health Professional

Date: 2009

Location: Canada

Patient: Male

Age: 15 years old

Suspect Drug: Strattera

Side Effect: Completed Suicide

This is just one of nearly 600 cases of Canadian kids suffering serious, sometimes fatal side effects suspected to have been caused by ADHD medications in the past 10 years.

A Toronto Star investigation has found a growing number of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and parents are reporting that they believe attention deficit drugs are causing major health problems in patients, many as young as 6 and 7 years old. Continue reading

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Holy Cow — the war on raw milk starts to look a lot like the war on drugs

From Elkhart Country Grass Roots Hub .

“Extending for four decades now, the war on drugs has ingrained a certain ideology into society. What was sold as an initiative to get dangerous drugs off the streets has conceived a totalitarian mindset that government has the authority to control everything you eat and drink and, if you disobey, the state can fine you, destroy your property, raid your home and throw you in jail. I’m not talking about cocaine or meth. I’m not even talking about marijuana. I’m talking about milk.

According to Time Magazine , “for some Americans, milk has become a test of their freedom. And they’re not paranoid kooks either; the government really is out to get them, authorizing seizures of bottles and jugs of unpasteurized milk and, in one recent case, a full-on, agents-brandishing-guns raid.” Continue reading

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The “Placebo” and “Nocebo” effects — How does what you think about raw milk affect how it affects you?

It’s long been know that “set and setting” affects the experience of those using psychotropic drugs. “Users who are in a poor mental state or a highly structured environment are more likely to have a bad trip, which is when you feel paranoid, anxious, nervous or even terrified instead of euphoric. (Science.HowStuffWorks.com)”  So why should the effects of human consciousness on the experience of pharmaceutical drugs be so different.

The Placebo Effect — Photo: Nick Veasey, via Wired magazine

As the stories quoted below show, how you think a drug will affect you, does play a role in how the drug does affect you. So what about raw milk? Do the positive effects people report from drinking raw milk attributable to a placebo effect. And would warning labels on raw milk actually trigger a “nocebo” effect, causing at least some people to experience the dangers being warned about?

From Steve Silberman, on Plos blogs:

Do Warnings about Side Effects Make Us Sick? Continue reading

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Who needs beef breeds when science can grow monster Holsteins like these

From Melody Petersen, on The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“A sales brochure touts Zilmax to children raising show cattle. The drug and others like it have been banned in the European Union and elsewhere because of concerns that they might endanger human health.” – from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Cameras rolled one day last fall as Ty E. Lawrence led journalists into a room-sized meat locker on the campus of West Texas A&M University, where bloody sides of beef, still covered with a slick layer of ivory-colored fat, hung from steel hooks. Dressed in a white lab coat, a hard hat on his head, Lawrence pointed to the carcass of a Holstein that had been fed a new drug called Zilmax. He noted its larger size compared with the nearby body of a steer never given the drug.

“This is thicker, and it’s plumper,” said Lawrence, an associate professor of animal science, pointing at the beast’s rib-eye. “This animal right here,” he said, waving his hand at the pharmaceutically enhanced meat, “doesn’t look like a Holstein anymore.” Continue reading

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Spreading raw milk as cultural “meme”

How now brown cow? Photo by Mike Sula, from The Chicago Review

From Wikipedia:

meme (play /ˈmm/meem)[1]) is “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.”[2] A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes in that they self-replicate, mutate and respond to selective pressures.[3] 

In order to explore the question of how new cultural memes spread throughout a society, it’s instructive to study some history. For instance, how did drugs like LSD become so popular during the 60s.

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Meat, sex and drugs

From Puff the Mutant Dragon:

Google image via Puff the Mutant Dragon

“This is a GoogleMaps picture of a farm near Goldsboro in North Carolina (map). The two salami-colored ponds on either side are lagoons, but not the kind where you want to swim. They’re open basins full of feces. To get a feel for the size, try comparing them with the cars in the dirt lot. As the Google Map will demonstrate, there are several more of these lagoons situated nearby. (You can imagine the breeze downwind of these facilities must have a rather bracing quality to it, especially on warm summer afternoons.) Continue reading

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U.S. farmers free to drug livestock with no FDA oversight — The Guardian UK

From Karen McVeigh in The Guardian U.K.:

“Environmental and consumer groups have condemned the US Food and Drug Administration’s move to renege on its long-held policy to regulate the use of human antibiotics in animal feed.

Last week, the agency quietly announced it was withdrawing its plan to limit the use of antibiotics fed to healthy livestock intended for human consumption.

Critics say the U-turn, which comes amid the FDA’s own stated concerns over food safety, is at odds with its obligations to protect the public. Continue reading

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Honey laundering in the global market

From Katja Jylkka, on Civil Eats:

“In both the popular imagination and ad campaigns, honey is the epitome of a wild food. After all, bees can’t be herded and overfed like cattle, or immobilized like broiler chickens if they are to continue making the sweet substance. As reported here last year, bees are “a key to global food security” due to their critical importance in food chains worldwide. In fact, honey seems to be a bellwether of global food insecurities.

The “wild” nature of even cultivated honey is both one of its major selling points and the source of many of its problems. A Guardian articlerecently reported that a European Union court on September 6 ruled that honey containing traces of pollen from genetically modified (GM) corn must also be labeled as GM produce. The ruling comes as a result of beekeepers in Germany discovering traces of corn pollen from a nearby field of Monsanto corn crops. The nature of bee biology and honey production throw the current discourse surrounding globalization and its effect on the permeability of local and global boundaries in a more literal light. After all, bees can’t be herded according to national borders. Continue reading

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