- WASHINGTON, DC - Public
Citizen is formally challenging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's
(FDA) decision to legalize the use of high-level radiation to "treat"
eggs. Already, the FDA is allowing flour, spices, vegetables, fruit, poultry,
pork and beef to be irradiated -- despite the well-documented, negative
side effects of this process.
- "The all-American breakfast is quickly becoming
the all-irradiated breakfast," said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public
Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. "The FDA's
decision is not only scientifically irresponsible, but it is an insult
to Americans who expect to wake up in the morning to a fresh, wholesome
- The FDA unveiled Friday in the Federal Register a regulation
legalizing the irradiation of eggs, effective immediately. In response,
Public Citizen is asking the FDA both to delay implementing the new regulation
and to hold a public hearing on it.
- Among other problems -- some of which the FDA acknowledged
in its Register notice -- irradiated eggs are deficient in vitamin A and
niacin, are aesthetically displeasing and difficult to cook with, and contain
potentially dangerous levels of free radicals (chemical compounds that
react with and weaken cell membranes). Irradiated eggs also can disrupt
the interaction between proteins and enzymes that are essential for proper
blood flow, digestion and other biological functions, studies show. Moreover,
irradiation serves to mask the wretched conditions in which chickens are
raised in today's factory farms, while creating opportunities for salmonella
bacteria to mutate -- perhaps into hardier strains.
- Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns, an
agricultural practices accountability group based in Machipongo, Va., also
denounced the FDA's decision.
- "Once again, we have a concession by our government,
in collusion with the agriculture industry, to ignore husbandry and embrace
technological interventions that are being used to dazzle the public as
a substitute for cleaning up filthy environments."
- Food irradiation carries numerous side effects. The process
destroys nutrients, spawns free radicals that make the body more susceptible
to cancer and diabetes, masks filthy slaughterhouse practices, and forms
carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde. In 50 years of research conducted
worldwide, lab animals fed irradiated food have suffered premature death,
cancer, reproductive and immune problems, liver and kidney dysfunction,
low birth weight, nutritional muscular dystrophy, chromosomal damage and
other serious problems. FDA officials have ignored these problems, relying
instead on questionable research -- some of which never has been translated
into English -- that has obscured the well-documented hazards of exposing
food to radiation.
- The request to irradiate eggs was made by Edward Josephson,
who during the 1960s and 1970s oversaw the U.S. Army's food irradiation
headquarters in Massachusetts, where dozens of studies revealed serious
health problems in lab animals that ate irradiated food, including premature
death and cancer. Currently, Josephson's research is being underwritten
by MDS Nordion, an Ottawa-based company with links to a Canadian government
agency responsible for the proliferation of nuclear technology to China,
India and Pakistan.
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