Consumer Health Digest #16-25
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 3, 2016
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Nobel Laureates blast Greenpeace's anti-GMO activities. More than 100 Nobel Prize winners have signed an open letter to promote the use of genetically modified plants and reject the views of its opponents. The letter states:
- Global production of food, feed, and fiber is expected to have to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population.
- Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production.
- Despite this, organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture; misrepresented their risks benefits, and impacts; and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.
- Greenpeace has led the opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which causes 1 to 2 million preventable deaths each year, mainly among the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.
- VAD is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 to 500,000 children each year, half of whom die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.
The signers urge Greenpeace and its supporters to recognize the findings of scientific bodies and regulatory agencies and abandon their campaign against "GMOs" in general and Golden Rice in particular. They also urge governments of the world to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate farmers' access to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. The Support Precision Agriculture Web site lists the laureates and more than 2,500 others who have joined the campaign so far.
FTC bans use of certain payment methods by telemarketers. Last year the U.S. Federal Trade Commission amended its Telemarketing Sales Rule to make it unlawful to use three types of payment methods exploited by con artists and scammers. [FTC amends telemarketing rule to ban payment methods used by scammers. FTC news release, Nov 15, 2015] The changes, which took effect on June 13, are intended to stop telemarketers from dipping directly into consumers' bank accounts through checks and payment orders that have been remotely created by the seller. It is now unlawful for telemarketers to:
- Ask consumers to pay for goods or services using cash-to-cash money transfers, as provided by MoneyGram and Western Union.
- Ask for PIN numbers from cash reload cards such as MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit packs.
- Use unsigned checks called "remotely created payment orders" to withdraw money directly from consumers' bank accounts.
The FTC is also warning that any telemarketer requesting payment using these methods is a scammer. The full details of the amendments were published in the Federal Register on December 14, 2015.
Firewalkers burned. More than 30 people attending a Tony Robbins "Unleash the Power Within" seminar event in Dallas have been treated for burns after being encouraged to walk on hot coals. [More than 30 burned during famous motivational speaker's hot coal walk. CBS News, June 24, 2016] Fire walking refers to the activity of walking on hot coals, rocks, or cinders without burning the soles of one's feet. Robbins encourages it for demonstrating that people can do things that seem impossible and represents it as a technique for turning fear into power. Robbins describes his motivational seminars as "designed to help you unlock and unleash the forces inside that can help you break through any limit and create the quality of life you desire." Similar injuries were reported at a Robbins seminar in San Jose, California in 2012. The Skeptics Dictionary has an excellent article about firewalking.
This page was posted on July 3, 2016.