Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSShttp://iwf.org/images/email-logo.pnghttp://www.iwf.org33968Food Labeling Fatigue & The Latest FDA Overreach • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2795761/Julie GunlockTue, 2 Dec 2014 11:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFood Labeling Fatigue<p> The Republican&rsquo;s significant victory at the polls wasn&rsquo;t the only shock on Election Day. Both Oregon and Colorado voters voted &ldquo;no&rdquo; on a ballot initiative that would have required certain labels on food products that contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs).</p> <p> Many have Monday morning quarterbacked just why these initiatives failed. Was it voter apathy? Or maybe&mdash;as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/09/jimmy-kimmel-gmo_n_5958264.html">Jimmy Kimmel exposed on his show</a> just before Election Day&mdash;people simply don&rsquo;t know what the acronym GMO means? Or perhaps voters had more pressing concerns on their minds, like jobs, healthcare, or another food related issue&mdash;spiking prices at the grocery store.</p> <p> These are all plausible explanations, yet I have another theory. Perhaps voters have a sneaking suspicion that government-mandated GMO labels are completely unnecessary.</p> <p> Joyce de Brevannes, one of the leaders of the anti-GMO movement, admitted this (I think, unintentionally) in an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-rodale/how-real-change-in-the-fo_b_5998016.html">October guest blog for the Huffington Post</a>. In it, de Brevannes boasts that her organization -- The Non GMO Project -- has verified more than 22,000 GMO-free products on the market today. Impressive for sure! And for convenience, the organization even provides a handy and free smart phone application so that consumers can check the GMO status of a product as they shop. &nbsp;And there are dozens of similar smart phone applications from which consumers can choose.</p> <p> Further damaging her argument for a federal labeling mandate, de Brevannes then goes on to tell consumers how they can easily avoid GMOs without special labels, explaining how many grocery retailers (even mainstream stores) have voluntarily decided not to sell GMO products. In other words, consumers can simply choose to shop at one of these many stores. Although de Brevannes forgot to mention it, GMO-wary shoppers can also look for a label already mandated by the federal government&mdash;the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&amp;contentid=organic-agriculture.html">USDA Certified Organic</a>&rdquo; label, which certifies that the product is free of GMOs.</p> <p> One other item de Brevannes (and many of her anti-GMO colleagues) fail to mention is how a federally mandated GMO label will affect the average American family&rsquo;s budgets. Perhaps that detail is so often passed over because activists do not want hard working Americans to know that they come at a high cost. According to a <a href="http://www.gmaonline.org/news-events/newsroom/cornell-study-mandatory-gmo-labeling-would-increase-food-prices-500-for-ny/">Cornell University study</a>, an average family&rsquo;s food costs would spike by $500 per family, per year.</p> <p> That might not seem like a lot of money to glamorous anti-GMO activists like Gwyneth Paltrow and Barbara Streisand, rock star Adam Levine and sitcom star and Hollywood oddball Charlie Sheen, but for the average family struggling in this puttering economy, $500 is a lot to pay for a meaningless food label.</p> <p> Another problem with GMO labels is that they simply don&rsquo;t offer clarity or specifics about which ingredient is genetically modified in a final food product. For example, on a bag of tortilla chips, is the GMO ingredient the corn, or is it the canola oil used to fry the chips? Adding to the confusion, in Colorado and Oregon, nearly two-thirds of the foods in those states that contain GMOs were exempted from the labeling law. What&rsquo;s more, an item considered a GMO in Colorado might not be categorized as one in Oregon. This means consumers will be given non-specific, misleading, unreliable and incomplete information.</p> <p> Voters are also beginning to turn away from these ballot initiatives because they have &ldquo;label fatigue,&rdquo; brought on because food activists demand warning labels more and more these days against seemingly everything. For instance, there are demands that soda carry warning labels about the product containing &ldquo;toxic&rdquo; sugar. So much for a Coke and a smile! Others demand warnings about gluten. Restaurants are now required to provide calorie and nutrient information on the menu. Even the nutrition labels themselves are under scrutiny with some activists demanding a total overhaul, some demanding small changes, and still others asking for front-of-the-package labeling.</p> <p> Anti-GMO activists claim that these ballot initiatives are all about people taking charge of the food they eat and being able to make informed decisions. If that were true, these groups would continue to push technological advances &ndash; like smart phone applications &ndash; that give people the power to do their own research. But clearly &ldquo;making informed decisions&rdquo; isn&rsquo;t the goal. Instead, it&rsquo;s about controlling people&rsquo;s choices by removing certain items from the marketplace by killing certain industries &ndash; in this case the biotech industry &ndash; with regulations.</p> <p> Food activists are free to pursue ballot initiatives. They are free to harass food manufacturers into compliance with their many outrageous demands. But voters should know that this comes at a cost&mdash;to large and small food companies, farmers, and mostly it costs you, the consumer.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock writes for The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</em></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/news/2795699/Julie GunlockMon, 1 Dec 2014 08:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Latest FDA Overreach<p> Food prices have been&nbsp;<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/16/cpi-shows-food-prices-rising/7742669/">steadily climbing for years</a>. And now, thanks to the out-of-control Food and Drug Administration and the out-of-touch White House, Americans should prepare for even higher prices for years to come.</p> <p> This week (that&rsquo;s right, Thanksgiving week, when Americans celebrate food and freedom with equal gusto), the wet blankets at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm423952.htm">the FDA finalized new rules</a>&nbsp;that will&nbsp;<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2014-27833.pdf">require chain restaurants as well as</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;bakeries, cafeterias, coffee shops, convenience stores, delicatessens, food service facilities located within entertainment venues (such as amusement parks, bowling alleys, and movie theatres,&nbsp;food service vendors (e.g., ice cream shops and mall cookie counters), food take-out and/or delivery establishments (such as pizza take-out and delivery establishments), grocery stores, retail confectionary stores, superstores&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;&rdquo; to post calorie information on their menus and menu boards.</p> <p> I&rsquo;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/260069/calorie-labels-menus-are-useless-julie-gunlock">written</a>&nbsp;about the stupidity of such regulations for years. That&rsquo;s right, for years, because it has taken that long for the bureaucracy to implement this portion of the Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and signed into law in March 2010. It&rsquo;s just this &ldquo;slip into a coma for four years and you still won&rsquo;t miss it&rdquo; kind of speed that drives the best and brightest of our nation to the private sector.</p> <p> The FDA apparently used this extra time (no surprise with this law and this administration) to rewrite the law to expand government&rsquo;s impact. This portion of the ACA was narrowly written, ostensibly to avoid capturing too many businesses. It specified that calorie information will (emphasis mine) &ldquo;be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants,&nbsp;<em>similar retail food establishments</em>&nbsp;and vending machines with 20 or more locations.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet, instead of limiting itself to the categories listed in the bill, the agency decided to use the words &ldquo;similar retail food establishments&rdquo; to capture as many businesses as possible. So, almost unbelievably, the rule announced this week applies to convenience stores, grocery stores, movie theaters, sports venues, and other locations the FDA deems &ldquo;similar&rdquo; in nature to a restaurant.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s as if the FDA is staffed entirely by bad boyfriends who, rather than taking their date to a proper restaurant, offer the line: &ldquo;Hey baby, I&rsquo;m going to take you out for a big paper tray of nachos &mdash; extra cheese sauce on me!&rdquo;</p> <p> Americans will pay for this government overreach. Consumers will soon see higher prices at all the above-mentioned locations &mdash; basically, all venues that offer food. And the businesses hit hardest by these new regulations will be the nation&rsquo;s 37,000 supermarkets, where most consumers shop for their food.</p> <p> The modern supermarket is truly amazing. These stores stock just about everything: food of every variety, some hardware items, cleaning supplies, shampoos and soaps, cards and office supplies. As a mom of three young kids, I appreciate that I can often buy everything on my long list in just one stop. Many people appreciate the ready-to-eat section of the supermarket because they enjoy the convenience of grabbing a rotisserie chicken or a prepared meal that can be warmed up and eaten at home, thereby avoiding the extra cost of being served in a restaurant.</p> <p> Yet, this is exactly the part of the store that will be most affected by the new FDA regulations, despite the very real (and quite obvious) differences between it and a restaurant. The most obvious difference is that supermarket ready-to-eat counters don&rsquo;t have menus, because their offerings change day to day.</p> <p> I know this firsthand because I once worked in the deli of a supermarket. When the deli manager (let&rsquo;s call her Marge) needed to fill the display case with a few more items, she would send me to the produce section, where the produce manager would give me a variety of very ripe fruits and vegetables &mdash; things that could no longer be sold as such, but were still perfectly fine for use chopped in a salad of some sort.</p> <p> Marge and I would then put together some salads and other items that would be sold in single-serving containers. There were no recipes for these things. We just knew how to throw a few items together and make something that tasted good. It was a win for the store because it led to less waste and less monetary loss. It was also a win for the customers who liked these seasonal items, which also tended to be healthy.</p> <p> Enter the menu-labeling regulations, and this perfect little ecosystem goes straight to hell.</p> <p> First, the regulation will kill innovation. Since Marge doesn&rsquo;t know how many calories are in each serving of her thrown-together salads, she&rsquo;ll be forced to stop making them. Her boss certainly isn&rsquo;t going to spend money getting each of those creations analyzed for their calories, fat, salt, and sugar (and with sugar, one would need to know what percentage occurs naturally and what percentage is added) because Marge might not have those exact ingredients available to her next week, meaning she would be making all new salads.</p> <p> So, because of this law, Marge will stop making her impromptu salads. She&rsquo;ll be required to follow a set recipe so that the store can post exact and accurate information about calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Never mind that this will mean fewer choices for shoppers (especially fewer vegetable and fruit choices) and more wasted produce. The government thinks Marge and her staff are better off sticking to salads that can be clearly labeled. And apparently it thinks you&rsquo;ll be better off, too.</p> <p> Of course, these regulations capture more than just the salads and the many other items sold in the deli. The bakery would also be affected. So much for that specialty cake you wanted to order for little Timmy&rsquo;s birthday party. You&rsquo;ll have to choose from these four appropriately labeled cakes.</p> <p> Food writers, most of whom will cheer for these regulations, often preach about going back to a simpler time when good people cooked with love for their customers. Yet, they don&rsquo;t seem to recognize that that&rsquo;s exactly what Marge (and many just like her) was doing before the FDA got in there and messed it all up.</p> <p> Most depressingly, study after study shows that these new regulations will do next to nothing in terms of encouraging Americans to cut calories and eat healthier. For instance, a 2011&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110114091647.htm">study</a>&nbsp;conducted by Duke University and the National University of Singapore&rsquo;s Graduate Medical School found that calorie information displayed on menus does nothing to sway people&rsquo;s food choices. New York University&rsquo;s School of Medicine also conducted a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2011/02/15/calorie-labeling-has-no-effect-on-teenagers-or-parents-food-purchases.html">study</a>, published in the February 15, 2011, edition of the&nbsp;<em>International Journal of Obesity</em>, which found that menu labels have little effect on the food choices made by either teens or their parents.</p> <p> In a very thorough 2009 joint&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/06/nyregion/06calories.html">study</a>&nbsp;conducted by New York University and Yale University and published in the journal&nbsp;<em>Health Affairs</em>, researchers worked hard to study the behavior of 1,100 customers at four fast-food restaurants in poorer New York City neighborhoods, where obesity rates are high. The researchers found that only half the customers noticed the prominently posted calorie counts. Of those who noticed, only 28 percent said the information had influenced their ordering. Now, most of that 28 percent said they made healthier choices as a result. But here&rsquo;s the rub: Upon inspection of their receipts, researchers found that these customers were fibbing. They only said they made healthier choices when, in actuality, these aspirational eaters ordered items that were higher in calories than what customers ordered before the calorie postings appeared.</p> <p> These latest FDA rules exemplify the sorry state of American government: a pointless, costly attempt to micromanage American life, which will help no one and hurt many. There is much to celebrate about our country at Thanksgiving, but the bureaucratization of everyday American life and of every morsel of food we eat isn&rsquo;t one of them. In fact, it contradicts everything for which our forefathers fought.</p> <p> <em>&mdash; Julie Gunlock writes for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum.</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795701/Julie GunlockWed, 26 Nov 2014 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIn Defense of Michelle Obama's Fried Chicken Comments<p> Patrice Lee <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2795493/FLOTUS-to-Blacks:-Vote,-then-Eat-Fried-Chicken">wrote a blog post earlier this week</a> that first lady Michelle Obama &ldquo;was caught on tape making remarks that are insulting to the intelligence of blacks, racist at worse, and contrary to her own efforts.&quot;</p> <p> While I&rsquo;m no fan of the first lady and her nannying initiatives, I disagree that she was trying to insult black voters. In fact, I think she was simply poking fun at herself and going along with a joke set up by the radio host that was interviewing her. If you listen to the radio bit (<a href="http://dailycaller.com/2014/11/04/michelle-obamas-closing-argument-to-black-voters-dont-think-vote-for-democrats/">audio here</a>), the host is clearly the one suggesting fried chicken is a good reward after one does their civic duty of voting (a suggestion I can totally get behind, by the way!). It is the radio host&mdash;not the first lady--who suggests fried chicken. He then asks her if it would be okay to indulge.</p> <p> In my view, the first lady was having a perfectly fine conversation with this radio host who was poking fun of her for being a health nut. She was graciously and good humoredly going along with the joke.</p> <p> I&#39;ve been a guest on enough radio shows to know how that game plays out. For instance, many times I&#39;ve been on the radio and because I often complain about Michelle Obama&#39;s Let&#39;s Move Campaign, her failed efforts to reform school lunches, and her other health food initiatives, the radio host might joke that it&#39;s our right as parents to feed our kids Cheetos and sugary orange soda for breakfast. He&rsquo;s kidding, of course. Making a totally outlandish and exaggerated point that parents&mdash;not government&mdash;should be making decisions about their kids&rsquo; diets. He&rsquo;s obviously being funny by suggesting the Cheetos/orange soda example but that&rsquo;s radio! And as a guest, I go along with the joke--laughing and saying that&#39;s precisely what my kids are eating right now.</p> <p> Of course that isn&#39;t true but radio interviews are fun and one often just goes along with the joke and crosses ones fingers that the audience gets it. After all, when discussing legitimate policy issues, one doesn&#39;t always have to present themselves as humorless robots wedded to their very serious talking points.</p> <p> I think it&rsquo;s important that we make that distinction and allow the first lady to tell or participate in a joke now and then.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795511/Julie GunlockThu, 6 Nov 2014 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMidterms Recap: Soda Taxes & Labeling Laws • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2795512/Julie GunlockWed, 5 Nov 2014 14:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSidwell's School Lunch vs Public School Lunch & Killer Register Receipts • Cam & Company http://iwf.org/media/2795455/Julie GunlockThu, 30 Oct 2014 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNot the Onion: Killer Cash Register Receipts<p> October is the one time of the year that people seek out unsettling situations--braving haunted houses, cheerfully shrieking while watching gory horror movies, creating stomach-turning costumes. Yet, now it&rsquo;s even easier to get scared. Halloween lovers need only read the daily paper for a dose of scaremongering about chemicals.&nbsp;</p> <p> Take for instance the media frenzy surrounding a <a href="http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0110509">study released last week in the journal PLOS ONE</a> which claimed regular contact with cash register receipt paper is toxic and can lead to a variety of dreadful diseases because it contains a chemical called Bisphenol-A.</p> <p> Headline writers had a wicked good time making up some ghoulish titles:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2803449/Chemicals-used-make-till-receipts-raise-risk-developing-diseases-diabetes-obesity-cancer.html"><strong><em>BPA could raise risk of diabetes, obesity and cancer</em></strong></a>--Daily Mail</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> <a href="http://time.com/3531776/bpa-receipts-fast-food/"><strong><em>Why receipts and greasy fingers shouldn&#39;t mix</em></strong></a>--Time</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> <a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25326636/health-fears-over-bpa-in-receipts/"><strong><em>Health fears over BPA in receipts</em></strong></a>--Yahoo News</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> <a href="http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20141022/controversial-chemical-may-leach-into-skin-from-cash-receipts"><strong><em>Chemical may leach into skin from receipts</em></strong></a>--WebMD</p> <p> That&#39;s only a few of the headlines. Bank on several more this month.</p> <p> Yet again, this is a study that needs careful and sober examination--something reporters (some even science reporters!) seem incapable of doing.&nbsp;Instead, it seems reporters are simply lifting the contents of the press release accompanying the study&rsquo;s release. If the reporter is generous, they&rsquo;ll stick a one-sentence response from the chemical industry in at the end&hellip;you know, right at the point where everyone has stopped reading because they can no longer see through their own &ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to DIE!&rdquo; tears. Nice.&nbsp;</p> <p> This increasing tendency to simply rewrite press releases is particularly dangerous when it comes to complex issues&mdash;like those involving chemicals. I believe this trend is technically called repeating, not reporting.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s not difficult to quickly assess these sorts of studies. Just looking at the authors of the study can sometimes offer a hint as to the study&rsquo;s legitimacy. And for those who follow chemical issues and specifically BPA, a few names should ring alarm bells. Sure enough, when I looked at this &quot;cash register receipt&quot; study&#39;s authors, I found a familiar name&mdash;Fredrick vom Saal.</p> <p> A quick primer on vom Saal. First, he&rsquo;s a well-known anti-chemical activist who has been called out within the scientific community for unscientific tactics in academic research. His research has been dismissed by the National Toxicology Program. For more on him, read Trevor Butterworth&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/trevorbutterworth/2011/10/27/top-government-scientists-challenge-leading-anti-bpa-researcher-on-misrepresentation-ties-to-trial-lawyers-and-claiming-he-refuted-specific-research-years-before-it-was-actually-published/">thorough examination</a> of vom Saal&rsquo;s anti-BPA mission as well as <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/richard-sharpe-let-common-sense-guide-you-in-the-saga-of-bisphenol-a-1942935.html">this piece</a> by Dr. Richard Sharpe, a professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and an expert on reproductive health issues.</p> <p> Now, if I were a reporter who covered the chemical beat, vom Saal is a name I would most certainly notice. Given vom Saal&rsquo;s dodgy record, a responsible reporter would immediately question the validity of the research.</p> <p> Call me crazy, but that seems to be the basics of good journalism.</p> <p> Equally aggravating is that the reporters covering this issue continuously fail to provide any analysis or push back on the narrative being presented by the researchers. Nor do they mention the many studies that have shown BPA to be safe. Of course, that might be intentional.</p> <p> And for this latest BPA dustup, reporters should have mentioned <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378427414013101">another recent and much more rigorous and well-respected study</a> conducted by researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki Finland. For that study, researchers went a step further&mdash;looking at the exposure levels of cashiers instead of just random shoppers. The reason is obvious; cashiers touch a lot more receipts than your average shopper. In fact, cashiers touch every single receipt as they hand it to the shopper.</p> <p> The study was set up to capture just how many times a cashier touches the receipt paper. From page 2 of the study&rsquo;s summery of &ldquo;materials and methods&rdquo;:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> A working day was set to 8 h, including lunch and refreshment breaks. A thermal paper receipt containing 0.9% (w/w) BPA was firmly held by three fingers, the BPA-containing side of the paper being in contact with the pads of the forefinger and the middle finger.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &hellip;</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> During the experiment, the paper receipt was handled about 140 times, and the total times the paper&rsquo;s contact with the fingers was approximately 11 min.</p> <p> The <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378427414013101">researchers concluded</a>:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> The calculated maximum BPA excretion per day after handling thermal paper was less than 0.2 mg/kg of body weight, suggesting a total daily intake over 25 times lower than the European Food Safety Authority&rsquo;s (EFSA&rsquo;s) proposal for a temporary tolerable daily intake (temporary TDI) (5 mg/kg/day).</p> <p> So, let&rsquo;s put that in English: According to this Finnish study, a cashier working an 8-hour shift would touch 140 receipts and still have exposure 25 times <strong><em>below </em></strong>safe established levels. That means, a cashier would have to handle 3,500 receipts in a shift, just to come up to the safe intake values that have been calculated by government scientists and regulatory agencies.&nbsp;</p> <p> As the study shows, cashiers touch around 140 receipts in an 8-hour shift so it&rsquo;s simply impossible for them to reach levels that would be toxic.</p> <p> In other words, you&rsquo;re fine. I&rsquo;m fine.&nbsp;</p> <p> So, go about your business. Shop and take your receipts without fear. Ignore this silly science and get back to being scared of those traditional Halloween ghosts and goblins.&nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795431/Julie GunlockTue, 28 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAlarmism leads to more regulations and bigger government • WIBC Garrison http://iwf.org/media/2795408/Julie GunlockThu, 23 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAre Plastic Products Costing You Your Sex Drive?<p> Are plastics causing women to lose their sex drive? The Guardian warns, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/oct/21/how-household-plastics-could-ruin-your-sex-life-phthalates">&ldquo;How household plastics could ruin your sex life.&rdquo;</a> The Telegraph&rsquo;s headline suggests, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11174548/Rubber-ducks-can-kill-your-sex-drive-research-finds.html">Rubber ducks can kill your sex drive, research finds.&rdquo;</a> Cosmopolitan Magazine wonders <a href="http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a32320/are-chemicals-in-plastic-reducing-your-sex-drive/">&ldquo;Are Chemicals in Plastic Reducing Your Sex Drive?&rdquo;</a> while the <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2800941/chemicals-plastic-making-women-interested-sex-low-libido-linked-additives-used-soften-materials-home.html#ixzz3GtIf0eoc">Daily Mail</a> declares that it&rsquo;s all down to those pesky modern products:</p> <blockquote> <p> Chemicals found in PVC flooring, plastic shower curtains, processed food and other trappings of modern life may be sapping women&rsquo;s interest in sex.</p> <p> A study has linked low libido with the additives used to soften plastics which are found in every home. Women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies were more than twice as likely to say &lsquo;not tonight dear&rsquo; as those with the lowest amounts.</p> </blockquote> <p> Okay, so let&rsquo;s take a look at this &ldquo;research.&rdquo;</p> <p> The <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2800941/chemicals-plastic-making-women-interested-sex-low-libido-linked-additives-used-soften-materials-home.html">Daily mail</a> gives this tidy summary:</p> <blockquote> <p> In the first study of its kind, Dr. Emily Barrett, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine in the US, measured levels of phthalates in the of 360 pregnant women in their 20s and 30s.</p> <p> She also asked them how often they lost interest in sex in the months leading up to their pregnancy.</p> <p> Those with the most phthalates in their bodies were two and a half times as likely to say they had frequently lacked interest in sex as those with the least.</p> </blockquote> <p> Alrighty, does anyone hear any alarm bells going off?</p> <p> First, the study only included single urine samples of a small number of women&mdash;specifically 360 women. This is not a large number. It&rsquo;s not off the wall bad (I&rsquo;ve seen studies on 10 women make headlines), but it&rsquo;s not a huge, years-long toxicological examination of pregnant women and chemical exposure.&nbsp; Second, the study hasn&rsquo;t been published yet. That alone makes these headlines ridiculous because publication is the first step in the peer review process. In other words, this study is very preliminary; it has not yet been tested or reviewed by other scientists. Lastly, it appears (again, I haven&rsquo;t been able to look at the actual study, the methodology or the results so I&rsquo;m guessing based on the news reports) that these women weren&rsquo;t examined throughout their pregnancy but just once&mdash;a single urine sample. This and many other things make this study a case of correlation, not causation.</p> <p> So yes, the women that had higher levels of phthalates had a lower sex drive but notice that we really have no idea if these women actually had measurably high levels of the chemicals. We are only told that one set of women had higher levels than the other set of women. Again, we have no evidence (and there remain zero studies) that prove phthalates have anything to do with a lower sex drive.</p> <p> In other words, the researcher in no way demonstrated that phthalates were the reason for this low sex drive.</p> <p> Also, the chemical was measured in the urine&mdash;that means the trace level of chemical in these womens&rsquo; bodies was exiting the body through their urine. A more accurate measure of phthalates residue would be to use blood tests (although again, detection of these trace chemicals in the blood does not mean it is at a high enough level to cause harm).</p> <p> There are literally millions of things that might account for a lower sex drive. For instance, these scientists might just have easily asked them questions bout their eating habits and found a coloration between pizza consumption and sex drive. Perhaps the women with low sex drive had more difficult pregnancies. Maybe they ate carbs more regularly or drank decaf coffee. Maybe they had more stress or maybe women with lower sex drives wore fuzzy socks more than the other women.</p> <p> The point is you can make any sort of correlation you want. It really means nothing in terms of scientific discovery.</p> <p> Yet, none of the newspapers covering this issue made that point. In fact, the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2014/oct/21/how-household-plastics-could-ruin-your-sex-life-phthalates">Guardian&rsquo;s piece on this issue</a>&mdash;written by <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/profile/paulacocozza">feature writer Paula Cocozza</a> who has an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia (a <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/6679082/Climate-change-this-is-the-worst-scientific-scandal-of-our-generation.html">university well known to support junk science</a>)&mdash;quotes a <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8361863.stm">BBC news story</a> which cited a widely debunked study by my favorite activist in a lab coat Shanna Swan (I&rsquo;ve written about Swan&rsquo;s make believe studies <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2788537/More-Junk-Science-on-Chemicals">here</a> and <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2793204/Grandjean-and-Landrigan-Strike-Again!">here</a>). Forbes contributor Trevor Butterworth has also <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2009/11/18/plastic-gender-study-media-opinions-contributors-trevor-butterworth.html">written</a> about Swan&rsquo;s studies, saying:</p> <blockquote> <p> Swan claimed that levels of certain phthalate metabolites in pregnant women correlated with a lower anogenital index in their male children (the AGI is a measurement of the distance from the anus to the base of the penis, divided by the weight at the time of measurement)</p> <p> There wasn&rsquo;t a consensus as to what a normal range for AGI was in baby boys or whether it is significant, but there was evidence that a shorter AGI correlated with a slower rate of testicular descent in animals. When a National Institutes of Health expert panel later evaluated her study, it didn&rsquo;t find her evidence wholly convincing. All the babies in the study had normal genitalia with no sign of defects.</p> </blockquote> <p> One would expect a Guardian writer to do the basic research on Swan and other &ldquo;researchers&rdquo; she quotes for her pieces. But why would Cocozza do that when Swan&rsquo;s fiction supports her alarmist headline and leads to more clicks from nervous pregnant women. It&rsquo;s a win-win for The Guardian. Journalism be damned!</p> <p> Back to the study.</p> <p> There&rsquo;s another thing mothers might understand about this study. During pregnancy, very often women aren&rsquo;t all that interested in sex. You feel huge, and swollen and worn out and you&rsquo;ve developed cankles and everything feels tight and well, you have a kid growing in your belly and who the heck wants to get naked. Of course, this isn&rsquo;t true of everyone. Some have raging hormones that work in the opposite way but for the most part, I know a reduced libido is sort of the norm when your carrying a 8 pound watermelon around all day.</p> <p> Lastly, while this study says it&rsquo;s the plastics you surround yourself with all day, what are we supposed to do with this competing <a href="http://www.her.ie/latest-test/study-reveals-that-cleaning-and-fast-food-is-affecting-your-sex-drive/">study</a> that says its house cleaning and fast food that&rsquo;s affecting your sex drive. Goodness, so many things we can&rsquo;t do when pregnant. Clean our houses, eat fast food, drive (that dashboard is chuck full of plastics), cook (is that spatula made of plastic?), get takeout (my food container is made of plastic), take a shower (shower curtains are plastic!), walk around my house (I must now replace all the PVC flooring in my house. Awesome). Wow, as if pregnancy wasn&rsquo;t hard enough.</p> <p> I have better advice: Take note that correlation is an awesome tool used by unethical scientists searching for more funding. It&rsquo;s a clever way to find whatever &ldquo;results&rdquo; one wishes to find, without having to prove a thing.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795391/Julie GunlockWed, 22 Oct 2014 13:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBanning Bathroom Breaks--For Safety!<p> A few weeks ago, I wrote about a <a href="http://www.iwf.org/blog/2795230/Killer-Swings-and-Other-Playground-Myths">school district banning swings</a>&nbsp;because apparently swings are silent killers on school playgrounds.&nbsp;At the time, I thought to myself, it can&rsquo;t possibly get more ridiculous than that!</p> <p> And then, I <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/secondary-schools-ban-kids-using-4449971">read about a school in Great Britain</a> that has decided bathroom breaks are far too risky for kids. The Mirror reports:</p> <blockquote> <p> Two secondary schools have banned pupils from using toilets during lessons for health and safety reasons.</p> <p> Staff at Westlands School and Sittingbourne Community College in Kent lock the facilities and said allowing pupils to use them unsupervised would breach &ldquo;safeguarding&rdquo; rules.</p> <p> From this term, students must produce a doctor&rsquo;s note about a relevant medical condition or go to the nurse&rsquo;s office to request permission during lessons.</p> </blockquote> <p> Talk about safety gone mad! The Mirror also interviewed an angry mother whose child was subjected to an interrogation before being allowed to relieve himself:</p> <blockquote> <p> Clare Stevens, whose stepson Kieran is in Year 8 at Westlands, only heard about the new rule when he came home and said he was initially denied permission to go to the toilet.</p> <p> She said: &ldquo;The nurse&rsquo;s office is a 10- to 15-minute walk to the other side of the building, and all the toilets are locked on the way there.</p> <p> &ldquo;When he got there the nurse questioned him about why he had to go.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> Now, I don&rsquo;t know about your kids, but I&rsquo;m fairly certain my 3, 6 and 7 year old wouldn&rsquo;t make it to the bathroom in time if they needed to go through that sort of process. And let&rsquo;s take a moment to consider what&rsquo;s more damaging to a child&#39;s health and safety: 1. letting them risk going to the bathroom when they need to, 2. having an accident in front of their peers, or 3. developing an infection from holding it too long.</p> <p> Common sense is the first casualty of alarmism. Westlands School is a perfect example of this rule.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795365/Julie GunlockTue, 21 Oct 2014 14:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGestational Diabetes is Dangerous, Not Glucola<p> It&rsquo;s no secret that I&rsquo;m no a fan of the Food Babe (I&rsquo;ve written about her <a href="http://iwf.org/blog/2793130/Useful-Idiot-Alert:-The-Food-Babe">here</a> and <a href="http://www.iwf.org/news/2793555/A-Strategy-Built-on-Nervous-Moms">here</a>). Basically, she&rsquo;s a shock jock, stunt woman, a charlatan, a snake oil salesman teetering on her high heels trying to sound like an authority on subjects about which she knows nothing. For the most part, I think of her as an annoyance, nothing more.</p> <p> But then I saw her ranting about Glucola&mdash;a sugary drink given to pregnant women by doctors to screen for gestational diabetes.</p> <p> The Food Babe&rsquo;s&mdash;who incidentally is not a mother&mdash;advice? Don&rsquo;t drink the stuff. That&rsquo;s right. Don&rsquo;t drink the stuff that&rsquo;s going to help protect you and your growing baby.</p> <p> Why not? She offers this standard line:</p> <blockquote> <p> These drinks (also known as &ldquo;Glucola&rdquo;) are essentially sugar water with hazardous artificial colors and preservatives with a VERY LONG shelf life.</p> </blockquote> <p> And then, as if her arrogance wasn&rsquo;t sickening enough, she adds:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> Realize you have a choice &ndash; Simply ask your doctor what other options you have and if they don&rsquo;t know, <strong>educate them</strong>!</p> </blockquote> <p> Telling moms that Glucola is dangerous and then encouraging them to refuse the test makes the Food Babe far worse than an annoyance. She&rsquo;s dangerous and wildly irresponsible.</p> <p> I refuse to add links to The Food Babe&rsquo;s reckless online musings and I suggest you stay away from her website and harmful advice.&nbsp; But for those left wondering about Glucola, check out <a href="http://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/the-glucola-isnt-toxic-but-the-foodbabes-advice-is/">Dr. Jen Gunter&rsquo;s blog</a>. Dr. Gunter, and OB/GYN, takes on the Food Babe and explains how Glucola is far from toxic and helps doctors protect women and their babies from the real danger--gestational diabetes.</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip;Glucola is the common name used for the sugary drink that doctors and midwives and nurse practitioners give their pregnant patients to screen for diabetes. Screening for diabetes in pregnancy is recommended as high blood sugar is associated with a number of bad outcomes for both baby and mother.</p> <p> &hellip;</p> <p> The Glucola. It tastes nasty, no getting around that, but that&rsquo;s not because of some harmful ingredient but because it has so much sugar. We use the Glucola to test for diabetes because we need to know the response to an exact amount of sugar with a predictable absorption.</p> <p> The Glucola contains chemicals because everything that we ingest is a chemical. Chemicals are not bad. Dihydrogen oxide is a chemical, but that doesn&rsquo;t make it scary it just makes it water.</p> </blockquote> <p> While The Food Babe spouts off about Glucola, what she doesn&rsquo;t do is inform pregnant women what will happen if they skip it and proceed through their pregnancy with their gestational diabetes undetected.&nbsp; Luckily, <a href="http://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/the-glucola-isnt-toxic-but-the-foodbabes-advice-is/">Dr. Gunter covers that</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p> An affected baby can have dangerously low blood sugar at birth, has a greater risk of needing care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and babies with gestational diabetes can be too large to deliver vaginally. This leads to more c-sections and sometimes if a vaginal delivery is attempted and the baby is too large it can get stuck with its head out of the vagina but shoulders trapped underneath the pubic bone. This is called a shoulder dystocia and is a true obstetrical emergency as the baby is without oxygen for most of the time it is stuck. There is also concern that exposure to elevated glucose levels during pregnancy could lead a higher risk of obesity and diabetes for the baby later in life. Mothers with gestational diabetes have an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, a potentially very serious and even life threatening condition involving high-blood pressure in pregnancy. Furthermore (if all that were not enough) women with GDM have a 60% risk of developing type 2 DM later in life.</p> </blockquote> <p> This blog post should serve more than to reassure women about Glucola; It should teach women a thing or two about The Food Babe and just how far she&rsquo;s willing to go to scare women.</p> <p> Let me be clear: The Food Babe sees nothing wrong with putting pregnant women and the babies they&rsquo;re carrying in danger to promote her site and to further alarmism about harmless chemicals in important medications.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795363/Julie GunlockTue, 21 Oct 2014 11:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumToxic Tampons?<p> Are tampons and maxi pads toxic?&nbsp;</p> <p> Pardon me while I laugh hysterically&hellip;.</p> <p> Okay, I&rsquo;m done.</p> <p> Ladies, your favorite feminine products are not killing you so don&rsquo;t listen to <a href="http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2708/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14499">Women&rsquo;s Voices for the Earth</a> who claim your maxi pad is soaked in chemicals before being boxed up and sent to your local drug store. Their cute &quot;detox the box&quot; memes might scare you into buying &quot;all natural&quot; and &quot;chemical-free&quot; feminine products (and that&#39;s their marketing strategy) but when you consider why bacteria fighting chemicals are put in feminine products, you might reconsider.</p> <p> The truth is, yes, these products do contain trace (meaning teeny tiny) amounts of chemicals to keep bacteria at bay and to keep it all smelling fresh as a daisy down there but these chemicals aren&rsquo;t used in amounts that are dangerous for you.</p> <p> So, go ahead and buy your maxi pads worry free and ignore the toxic messages coming from the chem-phobes.</p> http://iwf.org/blog/2795352/Julie GunlockMon, 20 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumApple and Facebook to add "benefit" for women: egg-freezing• WIBC Greg Garrisonhttp://iwf.org/media/2795342/Julie GunlockThu, 16 Oct 2014 10:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBig Brother: Schools taking up the jobs of parents • WIBC Greg Garrisonhttp://iwf.org/media/2795341/Julie GunlockThu, 16 Oct 2014 09:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAs You Were Saying...Feds forget kids’ picky food habits<p> Kids are finicky eaters. Most prefer a few favored items, making it a challenge for parents to provide their kids with the varied, nutritious meals that are critical for a growing body. And now, because of dietary guidelines soon to be released by the Obama administration, getting kids the food they need &mdash; particularly at school &mdash; is going to become even more difficult.</p> <p> The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is made up of representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, has been working all year to update the federal dietary guidelines. These guidelines are supposed to provide Americans with information based on the latest nutrition research and determine the allocation of certain federal food programs &mdash; including the federal school lunch program.</p> <p> During a year of hearings, the committee heard from a variety of witnesses, including nutritionists, environmentalists, food activists and other &ldquo;experts,&rdquo; many of whom told the committee that Americans should switch to a plant-based diet, not for nutrition reasons, but for the environmental benefit of the planet. The committee failed to hear from one critical demographic: parents, who actually know quite a lot about the reality of getting kids to eat their peas and carrots.</p> <p> It isn&rsquo;t hard to find people willing to talk about this topic. The committee could have asked one of the thousands of mommy bloggers who write about struggling to get kids to eat healthy. They might have reached out to Jessica Seinfeld (wife of Jerry Seinfeld) who wrote a charming bestselling cookbook about hiding vegetables in kid-friendly foods.</p> <p> My own three children are exposed to a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, seafood, and dairy products, yet only my middle child is willing to try new things. I often ask myself: Where did I go wrong?</p> <p> Instead of laying blame, parents should know that their child&rsquo;s limited palate isn&rsquo;t their fault. According to Dr. Leann Birch, Penn State University&rsquo;s head of the human development and family studies department, kids are naturally neophobic &mdash; a big word for a phenomenon very familiar to parents: Kids just don&rsquo;t want to try anything new. Studies on children&rsquo;s eating habits also show them to be quite sensitive to bitter tastes &mdash; such as those in some green vegetables. Not surprisingly, children tend to prefer sweeter food and most focus on one or two items at dinner, instead of eating a plate filled with different foods.</p> <p> The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics warns that iron deficiency is the most common nutritional problem and the leading cause of anemia among American children. Kids absorb 2 to 3 times more iron from animal sources than from plants, so the Academy recommends kids eat lean beef, turkey, chicken, lean pork and fish.</p> <p> Yet, the dietary guidelines committee wants all Americans &mdash; including children &mdash; to reduce meat consumption. And because the committee&rsquo;s recommendations dictate how the 32 million students who participate in the federal school lunch and breakfast programs eat at school, kids will simply be getting less meat on their lunch trays. The first lady&rsquo;s school lunch reforms have already proven enormously unpopular, resulting in massive food waste in the school cafeterias. Perhaps the committee should take note of this trend before making recommendations that will make these meals even less popular.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock, mother of three picky eaters, writes for the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and is the author of &ldquo;From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.&rdquo;</em></p> http://iwf.org/news/2795273/Julie GunlockSun, 12 Oct 2014 08:10:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum