Genetically Manipulated Food News

3 January 99

Table of Contents

Canada: Senator Eugene Whelan replies
Bovine Somatotropin---who's Crying Over Spilt Milk?
Synthetic Hormone in Milk Raises New Concerns
Do We Need Transgenic Crops?
Schools 'shun genetic food'
Monsanto Says Will Appeal Canada Cow Hormone Ban
Guess Who Came To Dinner: The NotMilkMan
Clones converge on 'Centre for Lies'
GE Canola SeedMeal
Teamwork is the Fuel that Allows Common People to Produce Uncommon Results
President Clinton's push for the Genome Project
Drug Makers Face Obstacle In '99 Insurer Restrictions Could Crimp Sales
New Paper by Dr. Blaylock on aspartame and MSG
Not Just Another Scare: Toxin Additives in Your Food and Drink

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Date: Sat, 9 Jan 1999 11:19:51 -0500
From: Richard Wolfson GENews1-9, Senator Whelan letter

I do not have a copy of the original article that Senator Whelan is repying to, but here is Mr. Whelan's response.
DATEMon 04 Jan 1999
BYLINEEugene F. Whelan

Canada: Senator Eugene Whelan replies

I would like to respond to the misleading information in Terence Corcoran's Nov. 12 column (CBC Hits NAFTA with Pepper Spray) regarding my efforts to block rBST (bovine growth hormone) and my opposition to the fuel additive MMT.

Mr. Corcoran discounts the negative claims against Monsanto's bovine growth hormone, rBST, and Ethyl Corporation's manganese-based fuel additive, MMT. By doing this, he ignores the testimony of dozens of qualified experts who appeared before both the House and Senate Standing Committees.

In respect to MMT, the Senate committee heard testimony concerning the negative impact of fuel additives on vehicle emissions from the presidents of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. A great deal of time, effort and research went into Bill C-94 (which effectively banned the additive), which the House of Commons passed in 1997. Later, Ethyl Corporation was able to sue the Canadian government for loss of market under a provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement. This led to the reversal of the legislation, and regulations concerning the usage of MMT were revised.

As a member of the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee, I have heard troubling information from Health Canada scientists who testified that they felt pressured into approving Monsanto's rBST hormone. A January, 1996 report in the respected International Journal of Health Services confirms rBST milk differs from natural milk -- chemically, nutritionally,

Furthermore, the committee heard that there is no pressing need for rBST. Dairy farmers already produce an abundance of pure unadulterated milk, and Canadians do not require a hormone-injected alternative.

It is unconscionable that two U.S.-based companies have more influence than Canadian members of the House of Commons, Canadian senators, Canadian scientists and Canadian environmentalists.

Mr. Corcoran insinuates I am inflaming the issue and accuses me of appealing to people's emotions. Yet it is Mr. Corcoran that chose to ignore the facts in this case and impugn my reputation.

Senator Eugene F. Whelan

Date: 23 Jan 1999 10:43:39 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

Date: Fri, 22 Jan 1999 22:18:03 -0800
From: "Hansen, Michael" (by way of Brewster and/or Cathleen Kneen

Bovine Somatotropin---who's Crying Over Spilt Milk?

By Kelly Morris, THE LANCET, Jan 23, 1999

A hormone used to increase milk yield in cows--recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST)--is proving to be one of the most controversial drugs of the decade.

Since the 1980s there have been fears over the safety of milk from rbST-treated cows, and last year, a leaked internal report by Health Canada scientists identified numerous gaps in the safety data on human and animal safety. Last week, Health Canada announced that, unlike many other agencies, it would not approve the drug. US consumer groups now want the drug withdrawn.

rbST was first approved by the US FDA in November, 1993. At that time, the European regulatory authority also gave a positive opinion, but the EU banned rbST until the end of 1999 for socioeconomic reasons.

In Canada, approval of the drug is opposed by, among others, the National Farmers Union (NFU). The debate concerns not just animal and human health but also the socioeconomic impact of the drug, says Richard Lloyd (NFU). After more than 8 years of review, Health Canada asked two external panels to review the animal and human safety last year. Rejection of rbST was partly based on the animal-health panel's report of adverse effects in cows, including lameness, mastitis, and reduced lifespan. The human-safety panel found, with one exception, "no biologically plausible reason for concern". But the findings of the leaked Canadian Gaps Analysis and testimony by several scientists to last year's Canadian Senate hearings on rbST indicate that the human-health debate seems set to continue.

Critics of the hormone suggest that both rbST and its mediator, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), are found at higher concentrations in milk from treated cows. IGF-1 has been linked with cellularity changes in the human gut, and tentatively with human cancer. And, IGF-1 is not wholly destroyed in the gut, particularly in the presence of casein. The Gaps Analysis concluded that long-term toxicity and oral absorption had not been fully studied. The longest toxicology study--a 90-day rat study submitted by manufacturer Monsanto--indicated that rbST was absorbed intact from the gut at high doses and elicited "a primary antigenic response". The external panel concluded that this possible hypersensitivity reaction "deserves further study". The Gaps Analysis also notes that the full significance of human exposure to rbST and IGF-1 is unknown, particularly in the neonate, "the subpopulation at greatest risk" ).

The FDA and most other agencies interpret the data differently. For example, JECFA--the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives--concluded last year that rbST "does not represent a hazard to human health". Somatotropin and IGF-1 occur naturally in milk, and, says FDA, "milk composition of supplemented cows appears to be well within the normal variation observed". Further, JECFA states that "any increase of IGF-1 in milk from rbST-treated cows is orders of magnitude lower than the physiological amounts produced in the gastrointestinal tract as well as in other parts of the body . . . Consequently, the potential for IGF-1 to promote tumour growth will not increase when milk from rbST-treated cows is consumed".

The FDA did not consider the 90-day rat study pivotal, says spokesman Lawrence Bachorik, and further toxicology testing is not warranted. Gary Barton of Monsanto says such tests would be toxicology studies of natural milk components. "There is no test anywhere that can find any distinction between milk from treated cows and untreated cows . . . What are you testing, that milk is bad?" But, the Senate Committee heard scientists testify for and against further study. John Verrall, member of the UK Food Ethics Council, told the hearings that, given the uncertainty, any approval of the hormone shows "a total disregard for the precautionary principle".

The Canadian decision may have far-reaching consequences. The US Center for Food Safety (CFS) and about two dozen other consumer groups have already petitioned the FDA to reverse its 1993 decision. CFS says it will sue the FDA if rbST is not taken off the market. Eyes are now turned to the international food standards agency, Codex Alimentarius, which meets this summer to consider approval of rbST. If Codex, which is advised by JECFA, concludes that the hormone is safe, "Canada may find itself unable under international trade law to refuse using a drug it has proven to be unsafe", notes Jo Dufay of the citizen's group Council of Canadians (CoC).

Scientific debate remains hampered by secrecy surrounding regulatory reviews, which has also left several bodies open to allegations of bias. CoC has "serious questions about the objectivity" of the external panels. "Both panels have chairs and a number of members who have worked closely with related industries." For example, CoC alleges that human-safety panellist Rejeanne Gougeon has been a consultant for Monsanto on rbST since 1993.

International agencies are also under fire. One case cited is that of Margaret Miller, a rapporteur at the JECFA meeting who was previously employed by Monsanto, though she was cleared of a conflict of interest for her involvement with rbST at FDA. Senator Eugene Whelan told the Senate hearings that he would not be impressed by any testimony quoting WHO, FAO, or Codex because "The big companies sit behind them, and tell them what to do". Lloyd believes that this possibility of undue influence is one of the "dangers of moving to global homogeneous regulatory agreements. Canada's experience shows that we need more, not less, review."

"What is most important to remember", says Verrall, is that rbST is not a therapeutic drug to which the public has limited exposure". Yet, regulatory agencies apply the same standards of safety and efficacy to therapeutic and non-therapeutic agents, regardless of the potential population exposed; other factors that might be in the public's interest are not within their remit. rbST--one of the first biotechnology products licensed solely for economic purposes--has challenged this thinking.

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Date: 23 Jan 1999 10:47:48 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

Thanks to Dr. Ron Epstein for posting this:

Synthetic Hormone in Milk Raises New Concerns

By Susan Gilbert, New York Times, January 19, 1999

It was the confluence of two important events that made Carol Baxter start buying organic milk about five and a half years ago. Her oldest daughter had just turned 1 and soon would move from breast milk to cow's milk. And American dairy farmers had just received approval to inject their cows with recombinant bovine growth hormone, a genetically engineered hormone that increases milk production.

Ms. Baxter, who lives in Palisades, N.Y., knew of environmental groups' claims that treated cows got more infections and needed more antibiotics, which could then enter their milk. And she learned that some scientists had raised the possibility of an increased cancer risk in people who drank the milk. "Milk is such an important part of a child's diet," she said. "I didn't want my child to be a guinea pig."

The Food and Drug Administration has long dismissed such concerns. In the journal Science in 1990, two agency scientists concluded that "no toxicologically significant changes" were seen in rats that ingested the hormone. The agency's approval of the hormone in 1993 rested on the strength of that 90-day rat study, which was commissioned by Monsanto, the manufacturer.

Safety questions about the hormone never went away among health-conscious consumers, and recently the old questions have resurfaced in light of new research and a fresh examination of the rat study.

Last week, the Canadian government said that it would not approve the synthetic hormone. Canadian scientists reviewed unpublished data from the study and found health effects that had not been cited in the Science report. Canada's decision leaves the United States the only major country to permit use of the synthetic hormone.

In its analysis of the Monsanto rat study, the Canadian scientists found that 20 percent to 30 percent of the rats that ingested high doses of the hormone developed antibodies to it, a sign that it was active in the bloodstream. And some of the male rats developed cysts on their thyroids and abnormalities in their prostates.

In December, after the Canadian researchers released their findings, Sens. Patrick Leahy and James Jeffords, both of Vermont, asked Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala to investigate whether the FDA overlooked evidence in the case. Dr. Shalala has not yet responded.

In addition, in December, 21 dairy farmer associations and consumer groups in the United States said they would file suit against the FDA for failing to require additional safety studies of the hormone. "The 90-day rat study doesn't show that recombinant bovine growth hormone is a human health hazard," said Dr. Michael Hanson, a research associate for the Consumer Policy Research Institute, a division of the Consumers Union, one of the groups. "But neither does it show that there is no possibility of any health hazard, as FDA claimed. It's clear that FDA has grossly misled us."

The agency is writing a response to the concerns, said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of its Center for Veterinary Medicine. He acknowledged that the agency had not reviewed the antibody data in the approval process "for reasons I can't explain."

He said the agency had seen the information on the thyroid and prostate effects, but considered them "biologically meaningless" because they were no more prevalent in rats fed high doses of the hormone than in those fed low doses. Ordinarily, if a substance like a drug affects the body, the effects increase as the dose increases. "Consumers have no reason to be concerned about the milk," he said.

Monsanto said its product, called Posilac, is safe. Extensive evaluations have established that the hormone supplements for cows do not change the composition and wholesomeness of milk, Dr. David Kowalczyk and Dr. Robert Collier, Monsanto scientists, wrote in a statement released Jan. 12. The scientists point out that the United Nations Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, which determines the safety of residues from veterinary drugs in foods, affirmed in March that the growth hormone was safe.

Besides the Canadian investigation, two studies published last year rekindled longstanding worries about a possible increased risk of cancer from consuming milk from hormone-treated cows. Reports from two continuing Harvard-based studies, the Physicians' Health Study and the Nurses' Health Study, found that insulin-dependent growth factor 1, a protein that is elevated in the milk of hormone-treated cows, is a strong risk factor for breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Researchers in the study say this protein circulates naturally in the human body at such high levels that the added amount in treated milk is unlikely to be noticed. Also, it occurs in breast milk in higher amounts than in the milk of hormone-treated cows. And, the researchers say there is no evidence that consuming the substance in food contributes to cancer risk.

Last January, scientists with the Physicians' Health Study reported in Science that men with the highest levels of IGF-1 in their blood were four times as likely to develop prostate cancer as men with the lowest levels. In May, scientists with the Nurses' Health study reported in The Lancet that premenopausal women with high levels of IGF-1 had up to a seven-fold increase in breast cancer risk over those with low levels. They said the findings suggest "that the relation between IGF-1 and risk of breast cancer may be greater than that of other established breast-cancer risk factors," except for family history and dense breast tissue.

Dr. Michael Pollack, who was involved with both studies, noted that the difference between the IGF-1 in milk from untreated cows and treated cows is relatively small. Levels range from 1 to 9 nanograms per milliliter of milk from untreated cows and 1 to 13 nanograms per milliliter of milk from treated cows, the FDA said. And because levels in human milk are slightly higher, "if there's a biological difference, one would be most concerned with human milk," said Pollack, a professor of medicine and oncology at McGill University

He said that, according to Canadian scientists, the amount of IGF-1 that people consume in cow's milk is less than 1 percent of the total amount of IGF-1 that naturally circulates in the body, regardless of what people eat.

Still, he said he could not rule out the possibility that daily exposure to the small additional amounts of IGF-1 in milk over a lifetime could increase a person's cancer risk. "It's a hypothetical concern," he said.

For one thing, scientists cannot tease out the human health risk of IGF-1 from foods until they know how much of it remains active in the body after digestion. But that point is also in dispute.

"When you consume any peptide, like IGF-1, very little of it is absorbed in an active form," said Dr. Carolyn Bondy, chief of the developmental endocrinology branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Dr. Bondy's research found a connection between abnormal mammary gland growth in female monkeys and high levels of IGH-1 given to the monkeys, but these IGF-1 levels were far greater than people get from drinking milk, she said.

Even though the increased amount of IGF-1 in treated milk is small, Hanson said the possible health effects could not be dismissed. He cited a 1995 study in the Journal of Endocrinology showing that the breakdown of IGF-1 in rats is slowed in the presence of casein, a protein in milk. "If casein increases the half life of IGF-1, the effects could be dramatic," he said.

Several experts agree with the Consumers Union and the other parties in the planned lawsuit against the FDA that more testing is needed to establish whether bovine growth hormone supplementation is safe. "More studies need to be done," said Dr. Marion Nestle, director of the department of nutrition at New York University, who opposed the approval of the hormone as a representative on the drug agency's advisory panel that approved it.

"The science on the effects of oral ingestion of IGF-1 is incomplete," the American Medical Association said in a statement last month, in response to a reporter's questions.

In the climate of uncertainty, one thing is for sure. Many consumers want milk without added hormones and antibiotics. Sales of organic milk nearly doubled to almost $31 billion in 1997, from about $16 million in 1996, according to dairy industry figures.

And Wendy Gordon, executive director of Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet, said demand was strong for its list of milk manufacturers, organic and nonorganic, whose dairies pledge not to use the synthetic hormone.

© Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company

Date: 23 Jan 1999 10:43:39 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

posted by (Judy Kew)

Do We Need Transgenic Crops?

By Nivedita Prabhu, The Economic Times, Saturday 2 January, 1999

The September issue of the Ecologist tears apart Monsanto's claims of being a 'life sciences' firm and shows that it is just another rapacious company with a terrible environmental record right from the Vietnam war days when it manufactured 'agent orange' to its current production of transgenic crops.

But basically the expose on Monsanto reveals confusion and fear over the direction agriculture will take once giant corporations with patented seeds force a biotechnology revolution. What will happen to biodiversity, the traditional right of farmers to save seed and food security and in the case of transgenic plants, the choice of food we eat? What about the whole ethical issue of crossing plant genes with those from animals?

These questions are not even being heard in India. Thanks to the din and frenzy created by the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha has taken the focus away from the real issue of what giant seed companies portend for the future of agriculture in poor countries.

A major problem with genetically engineered crops is that transgenes may escape and create fertile offsprings from wild relatives. So a hybrid of a herbicide resistant crop with a wild relative may result in a herbicide tolerant weed, 'superweed', as it is dramatically called. For this reason, in Canada, transgenic oats are banned because it has wild relatives everywhere.

However, just as trangenes are capable of moving to wild relatives so are genes from conventional crops. There are instances of crossovers which have resulted in the wiping out of an entire plant species in nature. Therefore, it is difficult to determine whether a crop, genetically engineered or otherwise, can pose a threat to the environment.

So there is a strong unpredictability factor. The need for caution arises from the fact that once introduced in the environment, there is no way to curb the GE seed from spreading. If a farmer decides to switch from a transgenic crop to a normal one, there is no guarantee that his new crop would be entirely free of transgenic plants.

This is where the so called 'terminator' technology steps in. Biotech companies are working on creating sterile crops. These sterility technologies will take care of the problem of bio-pollution. Monsanto and other such companies can then claim their GE products are no threat to the environment.

However, the real reason behind this research is the control bio-tech companies can have over farmers using their products. Infertile crops would mean that farmers would have to depend on the seed suppliers every sowing season.

As bio-tech companies aggressively market their GE products in developing countries, governments will have to be cautious. So little is known about plant genes altered by the insertion of animal or bacterial genes. It is surprising then that the government here has been so casual about a subject that is being hotly debated in other parts of the globe.

Apart from the safety aspect, for India, GE products would have implications for food security. So far, despite the promises of drought and disease resistance, these crops have not contributed to mitigating hunger. In Brazil, Monsanto's Roundup ready soyabean (resistant to Roundup, a herbicide produced by Monsanto) is being sown by big farmers to feed cattle for beef exports. It is of no use to the subsistence farmer.

Sterility technologies threaten to make farmers captive customers of seed and agrochemical giants. Along with the decision to ban the terminator gene, it is time for the agriculture ministry to seriously study the economic and ecological implications of genetically engineered crops. Most of all, at the tail end of a green revolution (and severely damaged the ecology), we should ask ourselves something fundamental: do we really need genetically-modified-crop technology to raise yields?

Date: 23 Jan 1999 10:43:39 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

posted from From: genetics GE - news 19/1

Schools 'shun genetic food'

From the BBC news website Monday, January 18, 1999 Published at 23:23 GMT

Many London councils oppose the use of genetically modified food Increasing numbers of education authorities in England are attempting to ban genetically modified foods from the school dinner menu, a survey suggests.

It found that two-thirds of the London boroughs and at least 14 county councils have either adopted official policies banning them or are actively seeking to avoid them.

The survey, published by the Food Commission, also found that a further 20 county councils are looking to adopt such a stance.

Date: 23 Jan 1999 10:43:39 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

Monsanto Says Will Appeal Canada Cow Hormone Ban

Saturday January 16, 5:25 pm Eastern Time

(Adds company comments, details; previous OTTAWA)

CHICAGO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Life-sciences firm Monsanto Co. (NYSE:MTC - news) said on Saturday it would challenge the Canadian government's rejection of a hormone that boosts milk production in cows. said Gary Barton, director of communications for Monsanto's agricultural business.

The government agency Health Canada rejected the use of the bovine growth hormone on Friday on the grounds that the cows risked having more mastitis, infertility and lameness. Barton said We're moving ahead because we have data that

The hormone, bovine somatotropin or BST, was approved in the United States in late 1993 and is used in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Israel, among other countries.

Barton said the St. Louis company had not decided exactly how it would appeal the decision and noted that it has been trying to get the hormone approved in Canada since 1990. We want to continue to work with Health Canada to resolve the concerns he said.

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper, Monsanto can appeal the decision under a formal process within Health Canada or take the federal government to court.

The paper also quoted Monsanto Canada vice president Ray Mowling as saying the company could initiate a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada banned cheese or other products made in the United States from the milk of cows that had received the hormone.

Barton said the market for the BST hormone was growing at about 30 percent a year in the United States.

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Date: 23 Jan 1999 14:27:00 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

Guess Who Came To Dinner: The NotMilkMan

by Teresa Von Wagner

"At any gathering, he'd be the center of attention, the life of the party. One minute he'll regale you with stories of his misadventures, the next minute he'll single-handedly and fairly debate both sides of an issue. He's a whirlwind of energy with a brilliant mind. He reads people as easily as the rest of us read traffic signs, and his sense of humor doesn't quit. He's charismatic to a spellbinding degree, and his name is Robert Cohen.

Yes, that Robert Cohen - the NotMilkman, founder of the AntiDairy Coalition, author of the book "Milk - The Deadly Poison," the person the dairy industry loves to hate - THAT Robert Cohen came to dinner.

In the past, via email, Robert and I had engaged in an offensively hostile war of words. Trading verbal putdowns, attempting to discredit another's avocation by discrediting the person is a forgivable fault of human nature. But standing in the middle of a raging battlefield, playing mindless word games, isn't good strategy for staying alive.

Finally, Robert and I decided to act like intelligent adults. We agreed to respectfully disagree. By openly acknowledging that knowing one's enemy is of utmost importance in the pursuit of winning any adversarial conflict, we discovered that while we would always be enemies on one level, we could be, and are, friends on another. It's a fragile trust, based on a shared philosophy that there is no one in this world from whom we can't learn something.

So there we were, seven of us - three generations of VanWagners, Robert Cohen and his friend, Eva Jones - sharing a meal and lively, laughter-filled and serious, conversation. A summit meeting of sorts, with a unique cast of characters as comfortable with one another as the dairy, pasta, poultry, and vegetarian foods on the table.

From our email conversations, I had already come to the conclusion that behind Robert's abrasive, inflammatory mockery of dairy products lies a man with a serious dedication to his mission against milk.

Before I met him, it was warning enough to simply say, "Watch out for this guy! He has an extensive knowledge of science and a superior ability to combine facts, in a variety of ways, to support his arguments."

Since meeting him, however, I know those were na#239#ve words. They don't do justice to Robert's powerfully persuasive personality, or to his thorough understanding of dairy farmers and the dairy industry.

He has sincere appreciation, empathy and admiration for dairy farmers, publicly and privately describing us as the most dedicated and hardworking people he knows. He has an excellent grasp of the fragmentation within our ranks and the reasons behind our divisiveness. He has some outstanding ideas on how to promote milk consumption, as well as valid, constructive criticisms of our present milk marketing programs.

Is Robert Cohen an enigma? Maybe. What's important is that he knows his enemy well - far better than we know ourselves.

I have two lasting impressions from that evening. One is that underestimating Robert Cohen's ability to damage the dairy industry is a big mistake. The other is a profound wish that the man was on our side.

And I have a question. If "got milk?" and "NotMilk!" from opposite sides of the battlefield can agree to find middle ground, why can't those of us, on our side of the battlefield, do the same?"

In the same issue, Editor Fran Alt wrote:

"You might say he has infiltrated our camp, but I see it as our having the advantage. Yes, the leader of the Anti-dairy Coalition sits in our midst; alone, armed only with a single pen. We are many, capable of firing back with a barrage of pens. Feel free to fire away, but first, learn his moves and strategies. Take from him. Learn what makes him tick. Wouldn't it be great to have this strong voice on our side?"

This is not a game to me. This is war. I like Teresa and Fran but there is no compromise for me in this battle. I readily admit to milk being good for just one thing. If you drink it, you get a milk moustache and become beautiful like Spike Lee and Larry King. On all other issues, I submit the evidence and ask for unconditional surrender.

Robert Cohen
Executive Director, ANTIDAIRY Coalition
Tel: 201-871-5871,,


Do you know of someone that should get a copy of this newsletter? Have them send their Email address to and it will be done!

Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 14:49:09 -0500 Subject: ADC News Letter 012499 American dairy farmer

Date: 23 Jan 1999 14:34:20 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

A bit of serious fun from the UK:

Clones converge on 'Centre for Lies'

From: (by way of genetics

Today 20 faceless clones greeted the many big genetics bods who came for the 'Making biotechnology Happens' conference in Newcastle. The delegates to the conference were confronted with the message 'Bad Science + Big Business = Bad News'.

This was all taking place at the International Centre for Life which is trying to be the centre for Genetics in Britain. Millions of Millennium money is being spent on its three parts: the Genetics Institute (new home for the University's genetics experiments), BioSience area (a very flash subsidised office development for bio-tech companies) and the Helix (a theme-park museum promoting genetic engineering).

The Centre for Lies is peddling sexy propaganda about how great genetic engineering is. It will also be acting as the Centre for Death making sure that what they call "defects" (ie disabled people) never live.

For more information about GeneNo look at:



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Date: 23 Jan 1999 14:38:07 -0600
From: (Judy Kew)

Nitty-gritty stuff from someone working in the field. (jest-west (Canadian) listserv) JK

GE Canola SeedMeal

I just though jest-westers might be interested in some of the research I'm doing on GE canola.

Canola seedmeal is derived from crushed canola and is a byproduct of the canola oil industry. It is often used as a fertilizer source by organic growers who are looking or alternatives to chemical fertilizers. Unfortunately, when canola is processed, the conventional and GE varieties are not separated.

I've just gotten off the phone with a local supplier of canola seedmeal. He was speaking to his suppliers in Saskatchewan who now estimates that a whopping 30% of the canola being processed for oil is genetically engineered. In 1996, this figure was 5% and in 1997, it had climbed to 20%. His projection is that by the year 2000, 50% of all the canola grown in Canada will be genetically engineered. These varieties have glyphosate-resistant genes placed in them and farmers are getting higher yields and higher returns from these varieties.

This is causing a great dilema for organic growers. Using canola seedmeal helps recycle a waste into an input. Now, however, using this byproduct can be seen as supporting the biotech industry, or at least turning a blind eye.

Unfortunately, there are few alternatives. Organic canola meal is in high demand among livestock farmers which drives the price way up. Flax seedmeal can be used but it doesn't have the same fertilizer qualities and is much "oilier" and difficult to handle.

Date: 23 Jan 1999 14:59:50 -0600
From: betty martini

Teamwork is the Fuel that Allows Common People to Produce Uncommon Results

At 12:57 PM 1/23/99 -0500, Robert Cohen wrote:

Dear Betty,

MONSANTO is about to sell their POSION PRODUCING companies!

I just read this in the January issue of MILKWEED, a dairy industry newsletter, Volume 234, page 7.

The article cites CHEMICAL WEEK which said:

"Monsanto is looking to peddle its dairy unit, which peddles 'Posilac' as part of a cost-cutting scheme." CHEMICAL WEEK also said that Monsanto is slashing 1,000 jobs and making plans to sell the NutraSweet company too!

It looks as if the hard work from my site:

and Dave Rietz's site:

are finally paying off!!!

I recently wrote a column about Monsanto's relationship with our government. Once everybody learns the truth about their bribes this will become a safer and healthier world. SCORE ONE FOR THE TRUTH MONGERERS! TRUTH WINS!


Robert Cohen

Dear Robert:

As I explained by phone, I promise not to tell anyone BUT everyone on the Internet system, consumers in 100 countries of the world where aspartame is marketed, the global press, and Shoshanna who has access to 450 global networks. Yes, that ought to do it.

Why anyone would want to buy Posilac (RBGH) which has been outlawed by the European Union and now Canada, and now exposed even in Lancet is beyond me. I don't even think Dupont would want this horror story and poison. And for anyone to buy the NutraSweet Titanic is total insanity since the lawsuits will one day make the tobacco suits small change in comparison. The liability would put them out of business. Who would be this stupid!

When Monsanto's doors are finally closed I hope there will be a memorial to the millions of people who have lost their lives from theirs poisons. And it will stand to show the world that consumer power in action is stronger than Monsanto's power, influence and checkbook.

Actually, anyone wanting to associate with Monsanto today should remember they can fall with them.

Teamwork is the Fuel that Allows Common People to Produce Uncommon Results !!!:

And to all our team players who this is also being forward to, please forward it on , and also let people know we now have a support list on the Internet for the victims of Aspartame Disease, now declared a world epidemic by H. J. Roberts, M.D.

Betty Martini, Founder Mission Possible International
770 - 242-2599

Robert Cohen (author of Milk: The Deadly Poison (which also exposes RBGH) can be reached at 1 599 - 0325


Mission Possible International
5950-H State Bridge Rd. #215 Duluth, GA 30097 USA

  1. Take the 60-day No Aspartame Test and send us your case history.
  2. Tell your doctor and all of your friends!
  3. Return Asparcidal food to the store. (anything with Monsanto's NutraSweet/Equal/Spoonful/Benevia/NatraTaste)

VISIT Get links to over 30 sites on aspartame
VISIT ..FAQs & Cases
VISIT Exposing Bovine Growth Hormone

Disability and Death are not acceptable costs of business!

Date: 23 Jan 1999 19:50:04 -0600

President Clinton's push for the Genome Project

The following is from a New York Times article, 22 January, 1999. The entire article can be found at:

He said that ultimately, America's best defense against unconventional warfare and bioterrorism in particular would be scientific strides in deciphering the genetic material in microbes and humans, so that vaccines could be tailored for quick response to an attack.

This, he said, would allow defense to stay ahead of the offense. His hope, he said, was that America would use "each new wave of technology to close the gap between offense and defense."

He specifically endorsed the Human Genome Project, a costly federally financed effort to map out human genetic material, saying it would be an important part of the defensive shield his Administration is building. Alice


" Only a fascist society would deny consumers the right to know what they eat and farmers the right to replant what they have grown."

Vandana Shiva

Please go to the Safe Food web site and sign their petition demanding labeling on genetically altered foods.

Date: 31 Dec 1998 04:44:07 -0600
From: (jim mcnulty)

Drug Makers Face Obstacle In '99 Insurer Restrictions Could Crimp Sales

The Record, Northern New Jersey

Drug manufacturers such as Merck & Co. and Monsanto Co. , hoping to bring blockbuster drugs to market in 1999, will face tougher restrictions from health insurers that could slow sales and hurt profits.

United Health Group and other managed-care companies are trying to rein in their drug costs, which have been rising at an annual rate of 15 percent in recent years. They will look to patients to foot more of the bill for prescriptions by charging higher co-payments for brand-name drugs and for medications not on their approved lists.

That means drug makers will have to work harder to win sales in 1999 _ advertising directly to consumers while trying to convince health insurers that expensive new drugs are worth the money. As a consequence, the industry isn't likely to match its 1998 performance, which saw a 47 percent increase in the Standard & Poor's Drugs Index, compared with a 26 percent increase in the S&P 500 Index.

"It's still going to be a good year, but not as good as 1998 was," said Hemant Shah, an independent drug industry analyst.

The most successful drug introduction of 1999 likely will be Celebrex, Monsanto's new painkiller. This drug and a similar pill from Merck are each expected to reach annual sales of $1 billion because they don't irritate the stomach as many current painkillers do. Monsanto's drug could be on the market within weeks. Merck may introduce its pill, Vioxx, later in the year.

Insurers such as WellPoint Health Networks Inc. already have indicated that use of Celebrex and Vioxx will be limited to people at risk of stomach bleeding from existing cheaper painkillers, such as ibuprofen.

"HMOs will be reluctant to pay for them except as they are needed, but that won't keep this group from getting to $1 billion sales quickly," said Northern Trust analyst Martin Bukoll. Northern Trust holds about 11 million shares in Pfizer Inc. , which will help Monsanto market Celebrex.

Humana Inc. , United Health, and Trigon Healthcare Inc. intend to make customers foot more of the bill for drugs. Prescription plans may pay for cheaper generic drugs and require customers to pay more for branded drugs on a company's approved list of medicines, known as a formulary. Customers would pay still more for drugs not on this list.

"If you want that latest, greatest, non-formulary, non-generic drug, you're going to pay $30 out of pocket," said Todd Richter, a managed health-care analyst with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. "If you're willing to get the generic equivalent, you'll only pay $5."

Drug makers likely will counter this increased scrutiny of costs with studies that show use of better drugs may reduce hospitalizations and other health-care costs.

"Ultimately, we have to realize that a lot of these pharmaceutical products have reduced hospital costs and length of hospital stays," said Wheat First Union analyst Joel Ray, who covers insurers.

This year, Pfizer proved many customers will pay for a drug even without reimbursement when it introduced the impotence pill Viagra. Viagra was the most successful U.S. drug introduction ever, with $411 million in the second quarter of 1998, its first three months on the market. At least half of those prescriptions were paid by customers, not their insurers, according to some estimates.

Pfizer, considered to have one of the drug industry's best sales forces, intends to introduce two of its own drugs in 1999 as well as help market Monsanto's Celebrex. Pfizer could start sales of Relpax for migraine pain and Tykosyn to control irregular heartbeats.

Neither Relpax nor Tykosyn will be the kind of blockbuster drug that Celebrex is expected to be. Relpax could have 1999 sales of $40 million, rising to $450 million by 2002. Tykosyn could have $35 million in 1999 sales and rise to $250 million by 2002, according to SG Cowen, an investment firm that follows the drug industry.

Celebrex and Merck's Vioxx, on the other hand, may be bigger products than Pfizer's Viagra. Analysts predict Viagra could reach $2 billion in annual sales in a few years. Vioxx and Celebrex, the first of a new class of painkillers, "will be a lot bigger than Viagra," said Northern Trust's Bukoll.

The aging of the baby boom generation that is creating an expended market for drugs such as Viagra and Celebrex is also spurring demand for new treatments for the most common form of diabetes, the so-called Type II form of the disease, which most often strikes people over 40.

In 1999, SmithKline Beecham Plc could introduce a new diabetes pill, Avandia, that could compete with an already successful medicine, Rezulin, from [ Warner-Lambert Co.

Rezulin could have 1998 sales of about $750 million, even though the drug's warning label was strengthened three times since its 1997 introduction. Early research indicates SmithKline's drug may have fewer side effects than Rezulin, which has been linked to more than 30 deaths.

Another expected 1999 introduction that could become a substantial product is Johnson & Johnson's heartburn treatment Aciphex. This drug would compete with some of the world's best-selling medicines, including Astra's Prilosec. Aciphex could reach sales of $800 million by 2002, according to SG Cowen.

Other possible 1999 introductions include a drug for organ-transplant patients from American Home Products Corp. , a Zonagen Inc. impotence pill that Schering-Plough Corp. will market, and an AIDS drug from Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Glaxo Wellcome Plc .

(Copyright 1998)

_____via IntellX____

Date: 31 Dec 1998 11:23:54 -0600
From: betty martini

New Paper by Dr. Blaylock on aspartame and MSG

Dear Mark:

Tell Jay to read this so he will understand the meaning of excitotoxin! Dr. Blaylock is a neurosurgeon and author of Excitotoxins: The Taste That kills ( 1 800 -643-2665). He is in private practice and he is also now writing a new book on brain diseases. Also tell Jay he can't win any argument b ecause aspartame is a chemical poison, and when he tries to defend a poison that is known to be causing disability and death the world over, the public will question his motives. Does he work for industry, does he work for Monsanto, is he paid to stumble others?, etc.

Dr. John Olney is the world famed researcher who founded the field of neuroscience known as excitotoxity. He made world news on the connection of aspartame and brain tumors. And, of course, the phenylalanine in aspartame breaks down into diketopiperazine, a brain tumor agent. So given to rats in the original studies developed brain tumors. This is why the late FDA toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross, told Congress that aspartame violated the Delaney Amendment because it had been proven that aspartame triggers brain tumors.

The Delaney forbid adding any additive to food that is known to cause cancer. Dr. Gross' last words to Congress were "and if the FDA violates its own laws who is left to protect the public." One of the 26 questions we have posed to the FDA is why were the studies not replicated that showed brain tumors, and indeed, the FDA refused to approve aspartame for 16 years because of this issue. It wasn't until Dr. Hayes over-ruled a Board of Inquiry that said not to approve it, did aspartame get approved. And obviously, Dr. Hayes motives were clear as he immediately went to work for the manufacturer's PR firm and refused to speak to the press ever since.

Also, Dr. Blaylock was interviewed on Mission Possible Radio and went into detail on how they doctor the tests. So the original studies were the target of an indictment for fraud that was not carried out when two U.S. Prosecutors went to work for the law firm defending the case. Okay, so then you ask what about independent studies that were not paid for by industry. Dr. Ralph Walton made that very clear on 60 Minutes when he did a search and found 90 independent studies and 83 showed problems with aspartame. One had to do with industry propaganda and 5 the FDA had their hands in. So actually 83 could be considered valid and truly independent and every single one showed problems with aspartame.

So its clear, if you do studies with a sincere desire for the truth the facts will show aspartame is a poison . True you can doctor some tests and I'll get Dr. Blaylock's transcript from and we'll let Jay read this too. If industry wasn't so scared of independent studies they would have allowed NIH to do independent studies in l985 when Senator Metzenbaum wrote a bill for that purpose (on DORway) but it never got out of committee because of heavy Monsanto lobbying. And the original manufacturer threatened Dr. Wurtman of MIT because he wanted to do studies on seizures. Now Dr. Wurtman has been on both sides, as a consultant to NutraSweet, but he once was very much against it and wrote brilliant papers on the phenylalanine in aspartame.

This was in the UPI investigation and Searle did not deny threatening Dr. W urtman. Obviously, they didn't want studies done having to do with aspartame and seizures because the original study done on 7 m onkeys showed 5 of them having grand mal seizures when fed aspartame, and one died. But they also knew they had already done studies in South America which subjects developed grand mal seizures, brain tumors, etc., and then they didn't publish them - a crime! The translators affidavit is on

Tell Jay he can also go to and read the case histories of the sick and dying from aspartame. And tell him I said: "Do not insult the public's intelligence, aspartame is a chemical poison, and there is no way to make it anything else - the fact that its sweet simply makes it a "sweet poison"! I shudder to think of those who have died from aspartame because industry, FDA and trade organizations funded by Monsanto, have lied to the public and made them think it was safe.

Today there is too much evidence for anyone not to know aspartame is a chemical poison . DORway connects to over 30 anti-aspartame sites. Also tell Jay I said - its not the time to try and convince people aspartame is safe after it has already been declared a disease and world epidemic by H. J. Roberts, M.D., and a medical text on the plague is about to be released in the next few months. He really looks quite foolish with the mountains of evidence on web.

Incidently, Dr. Blaylock sent this yesterday and says anyone can use it, post it on web, etc. This will be a very good addition to the web sites warning the world about aspartame and neotame.


Dr. R. Blaylock's latest Report:

Not Just Another Scare: Toxin Additives in Your Food and Drink

by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.

The Problem
The Free Radical Connection
The Blood-Brain Barrier
Relation to Cellular Energy Production
Eicosanoids and Excitotoxins
The Special Role of Flavanoids
Iron and Health
Phosphotidyl serine and Excitotoxity
The Many Functions of Ascorbic Acid

The Problem

There are a growing number of clinicians and basic scientists who are convinced that excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders, including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases; a group of diseases which includes: ALS, Parkinsonis disease, Alzheimeris disease, Huntingtonis disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.

An enormous amount of both clinical and experimental evidence has accumulated over the past decade supporting this basic premise. Yet, the FDA still refuses to recognize the immediate and long term danger to the public caused by the practice of allowing various excitotoxins to be added to the food supply, such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and aspartame. The amount of these neurotoxins added to our food has increased enormously since their first introduction. For example, since 1948 the amount of MSG added to foods has doubled every decade. By 1972 262,000 metric tons were being added to foods. Over 800 million pounds of aspartame have been consumed in various products since it was first approved. Ironically, these food additives have nothing to do with preserving food or protecting its integrity. They are all used to alter the taste of food. MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and natural flavoring are used to enhance the taste of food so that it taste better. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener.

The public must be made aware that these toxins ( excitotoxins) are not present in just a few foods but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc. Experimentally, we know that when subtoxic ( below toxic levels) of excitotoxins are given to animals, they experience full toxicity. Also, liquid forms of excitotoxins, as occurs in soups, gravies and diet soft drinks are more toxic than that added to solid foods. This is because they are more rapidly absorbed and reach higher blood levels.


So, what is an excitotoxin? These are substances, usually amino acids, that react with specialized receptors in the brain in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of brain cells. Glutamate is one of the more commonly known excitotoxins. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate. This amino acid is a normal neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, it is the most commonly used neurotransmitter by the brain. Defenders of MSG and aspartame use, usually say: How could a substance that is used normally by the brain cause harm? This is because, glutamate, as a neurotransmitter, is used by the brain only in very , very small concentrations - no more than 8 to 12ug. When the concentration of this transmitter rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally. At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of cell death.

The brain has several elaborate mechanisms to prevent accumulation of MSG in the brain. First is the blood-brain barrier, a system that impedes glutamate entry into the area of the brain cells. But, this system was intended to protect the brain against occasional elevation of glutamate of a moderate degree, as would be found with un-processed food consumption. It was not designed to eliminate very high concentrations of glutamate and aspartate consumed daily, several times a day, as we see in modern society. Several experiments have demonstrated that under such conditions, glutamate can by-pass this barrier system and enter the brain in toxic concentrations. In fact, there is some evidence that it may actually be concentrated within the brain with prolonged exposures.

There are also several conditions under which the blood-brain barrier ( BBB) is made incompetent. Before birth, the BBB is incompetent and will allow glutamate to enter the brain. It may be that for a considerable period after birth the barrier may also incompletely developed as well. Hypertension, diabetes, head trauma, brain tumors, strokes, certain drugs, Alzheimeris disease, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, severe hypoglycemia, heat stroke, electromagnetic radiation, ionizing radiation, multiple sclerosis, and certain infections can all cause the barrier to fail.

In fact, as we age the barrier system becomes more porous, allowing excitotoxins in the blood to enter the brain. So there are numerous instances under which excitotoxin food additives can enter and damage the brain. Finally, recent experiments have shown that glutamate and aspartate ( as in aspartame) can open the barrier itself.

Another system used to protect the brain against environmental excitotoxins, is a system within the brain that binds the glutamate molecule ( called the glutamate transporter) and transports it to a special storage cell ( the astrocyte) within a fraction of a second after it is used as a neurotransmitter. This system can be overwhelmed by high intakes of MSG, aspartame and other food excitotoxins. It is also known that excitotoxins themselves can cause the generation of numerous amounts of free radicals and that during the process of lipid peroxidation ( oxidation of membrane fats) a substance is produced called 4-hydroxynonenal. This chemical inhibits the glutamate transporter, thus allowing glutamate to accumulate in the brain.

Excitotoxins destroy neurons partly by stimulating the generation of large numbers of free radicals. Recently, it has been shown that this occurs not only within the brain, but also within other tissues and organs as well ( liver and red blood cells). This could, from all available evidence, increase all sorts of degenerative diseases such as arthritis, coronary heart disease, and atherosclerosis,as well as induce cancer formation. Certainly, we would not want to do something that would significantly increase free radical production in the body. It is known that all of the neurodegenerative disease, such as Parkinsonis disease, Alzheimeris disease, and ALS, are associated with free radical injury of the nervous system.

It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally is not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time. While MSG and aspartame are probably not causes of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimeris dementia, Parkinsonis disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, they may well precipitate these disorders and certainly worsen their effects. It may be that many people with a propensity for developing one of these diseases would never develop a full blown disorder had it not been for their exposure to high levels of food borne excitotoxin additives. Some may have had a very mild form of the disease had it not been for the exposure.

In July, 1995 the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology ( FASEB) conducted a definitive study for the FDA on the question of safety of MSG. The FDA wrote a very deceptive summery of the report in which they implied that, except possibly for asthma patients, MSG was found to be safe by the FASEB reviewers. But, in fact, that is not what the report said at all. I summarized, in detail, my criticism of this widely reported FDA deception in the revised paperback edition of my book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by analyzing exactly what the report said, and failed to say. For example, it never said that MSG did not aggravate neurodegenerative diseases. What they said was, there were no studies indicating such a link. Specifically, that no one has conducted any studies, positive or negative, to see if there is a link. In other words it has not been looked at. A vital difference.

Unfortunately, for the consumer, the corporate food processors not only continue to add MSG to our foods but they have gone to great links to disguise these harmful additives. For example, they use such names a hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, caseinate, yeast extract, and natural flavoring. We know experimentally, as stated, when these excitotoxin taste enhancers are added together they become much more toxic.

In fact, excitotoxins in subtoxic concentrations can be fully toxic to specialized brain cells when used in combination. Frequently, I see processed foods on supermarket shelves, especially frozen of diet food, that contain two, three or even four types of excitotoxins. We also know that excitotoxins in a liquid form are much more toxic than solid forms because they are rapidly absorbed and attain high concentration in the blood. This means that many of the commercial soups, sauces, and gravies containing MSG are very dangerous to nervous system health, and should especially be avoided by those either having one of the above mentioned disorders, or are at a high risk of developing one of them. They should also be avoided by cancer patients and those at high risk for cancer.

In the case of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we know that consumption of red meats and especially MSG itself, can significantly elevate blood glutamate, much higher than is seen in the normal population. Similar studies, as far as I am aware, have not been conducted in patients with Alzheimeris disease or Parkinsonis disease. But, as a general rule I would certainly suggest that personis with either of these diseases avoid MSG containing foods as well as red meats, cheeses, and pureed tomatoes, all of which are known to have high levels of glutamate.

It must be remembered that it is the glutamate molecule that is toxic in MSG ( monosodium glutamate). Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid found in varying concentrations in many foods. Defenders of MSG safety allude to this fact in their defense. But, it is free glutamate that is the culprit. Bound glutamate, found naturally in foods, is less dangerous because it is slowly broken down and absorbed by the gut, so that it can be utilized by the tissues, especially muscle, before toxic concentrations can build up. Therefore, a whole tomato is safer than a pureed tomato. The only exception to this, based on present knowledge, is in the case of ALS. Also, in the case of tomatoes, the plant contains several powerful antioxidants known to block glutamate toxicity.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein should not be confused with hydrolyzed vegetable oil. The oil does not contain appreciable concentration of glutamate, it is an oil. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is made by a chemical process that breaks down the vegetableis protein structure to purposefully free the glutamate, as well as aspartate, another excitotoxin. This brown powdery substance is used to enhance the flavor of foods, especially meat dishes, soups, and sauces. Despite the fact that some health food manufacturers have attempted to sell the idea that this flavor enhancer is i all naturali and isafei because it is made from vegetables, it is not. It is the same substance added to processed foods. Experimentally, one can produce the same brain lesions using hydrolyzed vegetable protein as by using MSG or aspartate.

A growing list of excitotoxins is being discovered, including several that are found naturally. For example, L- cysteine is a very powerful excitotoxin. Recently, it has been added to certain bread dough and is sold in health food stores as a supplement. Homocysteine, a metabolic derivative, is also an excitotoxin. Interestingly, elevated blood levels of homocysteine has recently been shown to be a major, if not the major, indicator of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Equally interesting, is the finding that elevated levels have also been implicated in neurodevelopmental disorders, especially anencephaly and spinal dysraphism ( neural tube defects).

It is thought that this is the protective mechanism of action of the prenatal vitamins B12, B6, and folate when used in combination. It remains to be seen if the toxic effect is excitatory or by some other mechanism. If it is excitatory, then unborn infants would be endangered as well by glutamate, aspartate ( part of the aspartame molecule), and the other excitotoxins. Recently, several studies have been done in which it was found that all Alzheimeris patients examined had elevated levels of homocysteine.

Recent studies have shown that persons affected by Alzheimeris disease also have widespread destruction of their retinal ganglion cells. Interestingly, this is the area found to be affected when Lucas and Newhouse first discovered the excitotoxicity of MSG. While this does not prove that dietary glutamate and other excitotoxins cause or aggravate Alzheimeris disease, it makes one very suspicious. One could argue a common intrinsic etiology for central nervous system neuronal damage and retinal ganglion cell damage, but these findings are disconcerting enough to warrant further investigations.

The Free Radical Connection

It is interesting to note that many of the same neurological diseases associated with excitotoxic injury are also associated with accumulations of toxic free radicals and destructive lipid enzymes. For example, the brains of Alzheimeris disease patients have been found to contain high concentration of lipolytic enzymes, which seems to indicate accelerated membrane lipid peroxidation, again caused by free radical generation.

In the case of Parkinsonis disease, we know that one of the early changes is the loss of glutathione from the neurons of the striate system, especially in a nucleus called the substantia nigra. It is this nucleus that is primarily affected in this disorder. Accompanying this, is an accumulation of free iron, which is one of the most powerful free radical generators known. One of the highest concentrations of iron in the body is within the globus pallidus and the substantia nigra. The neurons within the latter are especially vulnerable to oxidant stress because the oxidant metabolism of the transmitter-dopamine- can proceed to the creation of very powerful free radicals. That is, it can auto- oxidize to peroxide,which is normally detoxified by glutathione. As we have seen, glutathione loss in the substantia nigra is one of the earliest deficiencies seen in Parkinsonis disease. In the presence of high concentrations of free iron, the peroxide is converted into the dangerous, and very powerful free radical, hydroxide. As the hydroxide radical diffuses throughout the cell, destruction of the lipid components of the cell takes place, a process called lipid peroxidation.

Using a laser microprobe mass analyzer, researchers have recently discovered that iron accumulation in Parkinsonis disease is primarily localized in the neuromelanin granules ( which gives the nucleus its black color). It has also been shown that there is dramatic accumulation of aluminum within these granules. Most likely, the aluminum displaces the bound iron, releasing highly reactive free iron. It is known that even low concentrations of aluminum salts can enhance iron-induced lipid peroxidation by almost an order of magnitude. Further, direct infusion of iron into the substantia nigra nucleus in rodents can induce a Parkinsonian syndrome, and a dose related decline in dopamine. Recent studies indicate that individuals having Parkinsonis disease also have defective iron metabolism.

Another early finding in Parkinsonis disease is the reduction in complex I enzymes within the mitochondria of this nucleus. It is well known that the complex I enzymes are particularly sensitive to free radical injury. These enzymes are critical to the production of cellular energy. When cellular energy is decreased, the toxic effect of excitatory amino acids increases dramatically, by as much as 200 fold. In fact, when energy production is very low, even normal concentrations of extracellular glutamate and aspartate can kill neurons.

One of the terribly debilitating effects of Parkinsonis disease is a condition called i freezing upi, a state where the muscle are literally frozen in place. There is recent evidence that this effect is due to the unopposed firing of a special nucleus in the brain ( the subthalamic nucleus). Interestingly, this nucleus uses glutamate for its transmitter. Neuroscientist are exploring the use of glutamate blocking drugs to prevent this disorder.

And finally, there is growing evidence that similar free radical damage, most likely triggered by toxic concentrations of excitotoxins, causes ALS. Several studies have demonstrated lipid peroxidation product accumulation within the spinal cords of ALS victims. Iron accumulation has also been seen in the spinal cords of ALS victims.

Besides the well known reactive oxygen species, such as super oxide, hydroxyl ion, hydrogen peroxide, and singlet oxygen, there exist a whole spectrum of reactive nitrogen species derived from nitric oxide, the most important of which is peroxynitrate. These free radicals can attack proteins, membrane lipids and DNA, both nuclear and mitochondrial, which makes these radicals very dangerous.

It is now known that glutamate acts on its receptor via a nitric oxide mechanism.Overstimulation of the glutamate receptor can result in accumulation of reactive nitrogen species, resulting in the concentration of several species of dangerous free radicals. There is growing evidence that, at least in part, this is how excess glutamate damages nerve cells. In a multitude of studies, a close link has been demonstrated between excitotoxity and free radical generation. Others have shown that certain free radical scavengers ( anti-oxidants), have successfully blocked excitotoxic destruction of neurons. For example, vitamin E is known to completely block glutamate toxicity in vitro ( in culture).

Whether it will be as efficient in vivo ( in a living animal) is not known. But, it is interesting in light of the recent observations that vitamin E slows the course of Alzheimeris disease, as had already been demonstrated in the case of Parkinsonis disease. There is some clinical evidence, including my own observations, that vitamin E also slows the course of ALS as well, especially in the form of D- Alpha-tocopherol. I would caution that anti-oxidants work best in combination and when use separately can have opposite, harmful, effects. That is, when antioxidants, such as ascorbic acid and alpha tocopherol, become oxidized themselves, such as in the case of dehydroascorbic acid, they no longer protect, but rather act as free radicals themselves. The same is true of alpha-tocopherol.

We know that there are four main endogenous sources of oxidants:

  1. Those produced naturally from aerobic metabolism of glucose.
  2. Those produced during phagocytic cell attack on bacteria, viruses, and parasites, especially with chronic infections.
  3. Those produced during the degradation of fatty acids and other molecules that produce H2O2 as a by-product. ( This is important in stress, which has been shown to significantly increase brain levels of free radicals.) And
  4. Oxidants produced during the course of p450 degradation of natural toxins.

And, as we have seen, one of the major endogenous sources of free radicals is from exposure to free iron. Unfortunately, iron is one mineral heavily promoted by the health industry, and is frequently added to many foods, especially breads and pastas. Copper is also a powerful free radical generator and has been shown to be elevated within the substantia nigra nucleus of Parkinsonian brains.

When free radicals are generated, the first site of damage is to the cell membranes, since they are composed of polyunsaturated fatty acid molecules known to be highly susceptible to such attack. The process of membrane lipid oxidation is known as lipid peroxidation and is usually initiated by the hydroxal radical. We know that oneis diet can significantly alter this susceptibility. For example, diets high in omega 3-polyunsaturated fatty acids ( fish oils and flax seed oils) can increase the risk of lipid peroxidation experimentally. Contrawise, diets high in olive oil, a monounsaturtated oil, significantly lowers lipid peroxidation risk. From the available research.The beneficial effects of omega 3-fatty acid oils in the case of strokes and heart attacks probably arises from the anticoagulant effect of these oils and possibly the inhibition of release of arachidonic acid from the cell membrane. But, olive oil has the same antithrombosis effect and anticancer effect but also significantly lowers lipid peroxidation.

The Blood-Brain Barrier

One of the MSG industryis chief arguments for the safety of their product is that glutamate in the blood cannot enter the brain because of the blood-brain barrier ( BBB), a system of specialized capillary structures designed to exclude toxic substance from entering the brain. There are several criticisms of their defense. For example, it is known that the brain, even in the adult, has several areas that normally do not have a barrier system, called the circumventricular organs. These include the hypothalamus, the subfornical organ, organium vasculosum, area postrema, pineal gland, and the subcommisural organ. Of these, the most important is the hypothalamus, since it is the controlling center for all neuroendocrine regulation, sleep wake cycles, emotional control, caloric intake regulation, immune system regulation and regulation of the autonomic nervous system.

Interestingly, it has recently been found that glutamate is the most important neurotransmitter in the hypothalamus. Therefore, careful regulation of blood levels of glutamate is very important, since high blood concentrations of glutamate can easily increase hypothalamic levels as well. One of the earliest and most consistent findings with exposure to MSG is damage to an area known as the arcuate nucleus. This small hypothalamic nucleus controls a multitude of neuroendocrine functions, as well as being intimately connected to several other hypothalamic nuclei. It has also been demonstrated that high concentrations of blood glutamate and aspartate ( from foods) can enter the so-called iprotected braini by seeping through the unprotected areas, such as the hypothalamus or circumventricular organs.

Another interesting observation is that chronic elevations of blood glutamate can even seep through the normal blood-brain barrier when these high concentrations are maintained over a long period of time. This, naturally, would be the situation seen when individuals consume, on a daily basis, foods high in the excitotoxins - MSG, aspartame and cysteine. Most experiments cited by the defenders of MSG safety were conducted to test the efficiency of the BBB acutely. In nature, except in the case of metabolic dysfunction ( Such as with ALS), glutamate and aspartate levels are not normally elevated on a daily basis. Sustained elevations of these excitotoxins are peculiar to the modern diet. ( And in the ancient diets of the Orientals, but not in as high a concentration.)

An additional critical factor ignored by the defenders of excitotoxin food safety is the fact that many people in a large population have disorders known to alter the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. The list of condition associated with barrier disruption include: hypertension, diabetes, ministrokes, major strokes, head trauma, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, chemotherapy, radiation treatments to the nervous system, collagen-vascular diseases ( lupus), AIDS, brain infections, certain drugs, Alzheimeris disease, and as a consequence of natural aging. There may be many other conditions also associated with barrier disruption that are as yet not known.

When the barrier is dysfunctional due to one of these conditions, brain levels of glutamate and aspartate reflect blood levels. That is, foods containing high concentrations of these excitotoxins will increase brain concentrations to toxic levels as well. Take for example, multiple sclerosis. We know that when a person with MS has an exacerbation of symptoms, the blood-brain barrier near the lesions breaks down, leaving the surrounding brain vulnerable to excitotoxin entry from the blood, i.e. the diet. But, not only is the adjacent brain vulnerable, but the openings act as a points of entry, eventually exposing the entire brain to potentially toxic levels of glutamate. Several clinicians have remarked on seeing MS patients who were made worse following exposure to dietary excitotoxins. I have seen this myself.

It is logical to assume that patients with the other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimeris disease, Parkinsonis disease, and ALS will be made worse on diets high in excitotoxins. Barrier disruption has been demonstrated in the case of Alzheimeris disease.

Recently, it has been shown that not only can free radicals open the blood-brain barrier, but excitotoxins can as well. In fact, glutamate receptors have been demonstrated on the barrier itself. In a carefully designed experiment, researchers produced opening of the blood-brain barrier using injected iron as a free radical generator. When a powerful free radical scavenger ( U-74006F) was used in this model, opening of the barrier was significantly blocked. But, the glutamate blocker MK-801 acted even more effectively to protect the barrier. The authors of this study concluded that glutamate appears to be an important regulator of brain capillary transport and stability, and that overstimulation of NMDA ( glutamate) receptors on the blood-brain barrier appears to play an important role in breakdown of the barrier system. What this also means is that high levels of dietary glutamate or aspartate may very well disrupt the normal blood-brain barrier, thus allowing more glutamate to enter the brain, sort of a vicious cycle.

Relation to Cellular Energy Production

Excitotoxin damage is heavily dependent on the energy state of the cell. Cells with a normal energy generation systems that are efficiently producing adequate amounts of cellular energy, are very resistant to such toxicity. When cells are energy deficient, no matter the cause - hypoxia, starvation, metabolic poisons, hypoglycemia - they become infinitely more susceptible to excitotoxic injury or death. In fact, even normal concentrations of glutamate are toxic to energy deficient cells.

It is known that in many of the neurodegenerative disorders, neuron energy deficiency often precedes the clinical onset of the disease by years, if not decades. This has been demonstrated in the case of Huntington disease and Alzheimeris disease using the PET scanner, which measures brain metabolism. In the case of Parkinsonis disease, several groups have demonstrated that one of the early deficits of the disorder is an impaired energy production by the complex I group of enzymes from the mitochondria of the substantia nigra. ( Part of the Electron Transport System.) Interestingly, it is known that the complex I system is very sensitive to free radical damage.

Recently, it has been shown that when striatal neurons ( Those involved in Parkinsonis and Huntingtonis diseases.) are exposed to microinjected excitotoxins there is a dramatic, and rapid fall in energy production by these neurons. CoEnzyme Q10 has been shown, in this model, to restore energy production but not to prevent cellular death. But when combined with niacinamide, both cellular energy production and neuron protection is seen. I would recommend for those with neurodegenerative disorders, a combination of CoQ10, acetyl-L carnitine, niacinamide, riboflavin, methylcobalamin, and thiamine.

One of the newer revelation of modern molecular biology, is the discovery of mitochondrial diseases, of which cellular energy deficiency is a hallmark. In many of these disorders, significant clinical improvement has been seen following a similar regimen of vitamins combined with CoQ10 and L-carnitine. Acetyl L-carnitine enters the brain in higher concentrations and also increases brain acetylcholine, necessary for normal memory function. While these particular substances have been found to significantly boost brain energy function they are not alone in this important property. Phosphotidyl serine, Ginkgo Biloba, vitamin B12, folate, magnesium, Vitamin K and several others are also being shown to be important.

While mitochrondial dysfunction is important in explaining why some are more vulnerable to excitotoxin damage than others, it does not explain injury in those with normal cellular metabolism. There are several conditions under which energy metabolism is impaired. For example, approximately one third of Americans suffer from what is known as reactive hypoglycemia. That is, they respond to a meal composed of either simple sugars or carbohydrates that are quickly broken down into simple sugars ( a high glycemic index.) by secreting excessive amounts of insulin. This causes a dramatic lowering of the blood sugar.

When the blood sugar falls, the body responds by releasing a burst of epinephrine from the adrenal glands, in an effort to raise the blood sugar. We feel this release as nervousness, palpitations of our heart, tremulousness, and profuse sweating. Occasionally, one can have a slower fall in the blood sugar that will not produce a reactive release of epinephrine, thereby producing few symptoms. This can be more dangerous, since we are unaware that our glucose reserve is falling until we develop obvious neurological symptoms, such as difficulty thinking and a sensation of lightheadedness.

The brain is one of the most glucose dependent organs known, since it has a limited ability to burn other substrates such as fats. There is some evidence that several of the neurodegenerative diseases are related to either excessive insulin release, as with Alzheimeris disease, or impaired glucose utilization, as we have seen in the case of Parkinsonis disease and Huntingtonis disease.

It is my firm belief, based on clinical experience and physiological principles, that many of these diseases occur primarily in the face of either reactive hypoglycemia or i brain hypoglycemiai. In at least two well conducted studies it was found that pure Alzheimeris dementia was rare in those with normal blood sugar profiles, and that in most cases Alzheimeris patients had low blood sugars, and high CSF ( cerebrospinal fluid) insulin levels. In my own limited experience with Parkinsonis and ALS patients I have found a disproportionately high number suffering from reactive hypoglycemia.

I found it interesting that several ALS patients have observed an association between their symptoms and gluten. That is, when they adhere to a gluten free diet they improve clinically. It may be that by avoiding gluten containing products, such as bread, crackers, cereal, pasta ,etc, they are also avoiding products that are high on the glycemic index, i.e. that produce reactive hypoglycemia. Also, all of these food items are high in free iron. Clinically, hypoglycemia will worsen the symptoms of most neurological disorders. We know that severe hypoglycemia can, in fact, mimic ALS both clinically and pathologically. It is also known that many of the symptoms of Alzheimeris disease resemble hypoglycemia, as if the brain is hypoglycemic in isolation.

In studies of animals exposed to repeated mild episodes of hypoxia ( lack of brain oxygenation), it was found that such accumulated injuries can trigger biochemical changes that resemble those seen in Alzheimeris patients. One of the effects of hypoxia is a massive release of glutamate into the space around the neuron. This results in rapid death of these sensitized cells. As we age, the blood supply to the brain is frequently impaired, either because of atherosclerosis or repeated syncopal episodes, leading to short periods of hypoxia. Hypoglycemia produces lesions very similar to hypoxia and via the same glutamate excitotoxic mechanism. In fact, recent studies of diabetics suffering from repeated episodes of hypoglycemia associated with over medication with insulin, demonstrate brain atrophy and dementia.

Again, it should be realized that excessive glutamate stimulation triggers a chain of events that in turn triggers the generation of large numbers of free radical species, both as nitrogen species and oxygen species. Once this occurs, especially with the accumulation of the hydroxyl ion, destruction of the lipid components of the membranes occurs, as lipid peroxidation. In addition, these free radicals damage proteins and DNA as well. The most immediate DNA damage is to the mitochondrial DNA, which controls protein expression within that particular cell and its progeny. It is suspected that at least some of the neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinsonis disease in particular, are inherited in this way.

But more importantly, it may be that accumulated damage to the mitochondrial DNA secondary to progressive free radical attack ( somatic mitochondrial injury) is the cause of most of the neurodegenerative diseases that are not inherited. This would result from an impaired reserve of antioxidant vitamins/minerals and enzymes, increased cellular stress, chronic infection, free radical generating metals and toxins, and impaired DNA repair enzymes.

It is estimated that the number of oxidative free radical injuries to DNA number about 10,000 a day in humans. Normally, these injuries are repaired by special repair enzymes. It is known that as we age these repair enzymes decrease or become less efficient. Also, some individuals are born with deficient repair enzymes from birth as, for example, in the case of xeroderma pigmentosum. Recent studies of Alzheimeris patients also demonstrate a significant deficiency in DNA repair enzymes and high levels of lipid peroxidation products in the affected parts of the brain. It is also important to realize that the hippocampus of the brain, most severely damaged in Alzheimeris dementia, is one of the most vulnerable areas of the brain to low glucose supply as well as low oxygen supply. That also makes it very susceptible to glutamate toxicity.

Another interesting finding is that when cells are exposed to glutamate they develop certain inclusions ( cellular debris) that not only resembles the characteristic neurofibrillary tangles of Alzheimeris dementia, but are immunologically identical as well. Similarly, when experimental animals are exposed to the chemical MPTP, they not only develop Parkinsonis disorder, but the older animals develop the same inclusions ( Lewy bodies) as see in human Parkinsonis.

Eicosanoids and Excitotoxins

It is known that one of the destructive effects triggered by excitotoxins is the release of arachidonic acid from the cell membrane and the initiation of the eicosanoid reactions. Remember, glutamate primarily acts by opening the calcium pore, allowing calcium to pour into the cellis interior. Intracellular calcium in high concentrations initiates the enzymatic release of arachidonic acid from the cell membrane, where it is then attacked by two enzymes systems, the cyclooxygenase system and the lipooxgenase system. These in turn produce a series of compounds that can damage cell membranes, proteins and DNA, primarily by free radical production, but also directly by the "harmful eicosanoids."

Biochemically, we know that high glycemic carbohydrate diets, known to stimulate the excess release of insulin, can trigger the production of "harmful eicosanoids." We should also recognize that simple sugars are not the only substances that can trigger the release of insulin. One of the more powerful triggers includes certain amino acids, including leucine, alanine, and taurine. Glutamine, while not acting as an insulin trigger itself, markedly potentiates insulin release by leucine. This is why, except under certain situations, individual "free" amino acids should be avoided.

It is known that excitotoxins can also stimulate the release of these "harmful eicosanoids." So that in the situation of a hypoglycemic individual, they would be subjected to production of harmful eicosanoids directly by the high insulin levels, as well as by elevated glutamate levels. Importantly, both of these events significantly increase free radical production and hence, lipid peroxidation of cellular membranes. It should be remembered that diets high in arachidonic acid, such as egg yellows, organs meats, and liver, may be harmful to those subjected to excessive excitotoxin exposure.

And finally, in one carefully conducted experiment, it was shown that insulin significantly increases glutamate toxicity in cortical cell cultures and that this magnifying effect was not due to insulinis effect on glucose metabolism. That is, the effect was directly related to insulin interaction with cell membranes. Interestingly, insulin increased toxic sensitivity to other excitotoxins as well.

The Special Role of Flavanoids

Flavonoids are diphenylpropanoids found in all plant foods. They are known to be strong antioxidants and free radical scavengers. There are three major flavonols - quercetin, Kaempferol, and myricetin, and two major flavones - luteolin and apigenin. Seventy percent of the flavonoid intake in the average diet consist of quercetin, the main source of which is tea ( 49%), onions ( 29%), and apples ( 7%). Fortunately, flavonoids are heat stable, that is, they are not destroyed during cooking. Other important flavonoids include catechin, leucoanthocyanidins, anthocyanins, hesperedin and naringenin.

Most interest in the flavonoids stemmed from their ability to inhibit tumor initiation and growth. This was especially true of quercetin and naringenin, but also seen with hesperetin and the isoflavone, genistein. There appears to be a strong correlation between their anticarcinogenic potential and their ability to squelch free radicals. But, in the case of genistein and quercetin, it also has to do with their ability to inhibit tyrosine kinase and phosphoinositide phosphorylase, both necessary for mammary cancer and glioblastoma ( a highly malignant brain tumor) growth and development.

As we have seen, there is a close correlation between insulin, excitotoxins, free radicals and eicosanoid production. Of particular interest, is the finding that most of the flavonoids, especially quercetin, are potent and selective inhibitors of delta-5-lipooxygenase enzyme which initiates the production of eicosanods. Flavones are also potent and selective inhibitors of the enzyme cyclooxygenase ( COX) which is responsible for the production of thromboxane A2, one of the "harmful eicosanoids". The COX-2 enzymes is associated only with excitatory type neurons in the brain and appears to play a major role in neurodegeneration.

One of the critical steps in the production of eicosanoids is the liberation of arachidonic acid from the cell membrane by phospholipase A2. Flavonones such as naringenin ( from grapefruits) and hesperetin ( citrus fruits) produce a dose related inhibition of phospholipase A2 ( 80% inhibition), thereby inhibiting the release of arachidonic acid. The non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs act similarly to block the production of inflammatory eicosanoids.

What makes all of this especially interesting is that recently, two major studies have found that not only can non-steroidal anti- inflammatories slow the course of Alzheimeris disease, but they may prevent it as well. But, these drugs can have significant side effects, such as GI bleeding, liver and kidney damage. In high doses, the flavonoids have shown a similar ability to reduce "harmful eicosanoid" production and should have the same beneficial effect on the neurodegenerative diseases without the side effects. Also, these compounds are powerful free radical scavengers and would be expected to reduce excitotoxicity as well.

But, there is another beneficial effect. There is experimental, as well as clinical evidence, that the flavonoids can reduce capillary leakage and strengthen the blood brain barrier. This has been shown to be true for rutin, hesperedin and some chalcones. Rutin and hesperedin have also been shown to strengthen capillary walls. In the form of hesperetin methyl chalcone, the hesperedin molecule is readily soluble in water, significantly increasing its absorbability. Black currents have the highest concentration of hesperetin of any fresh fruit, and in a puree form, is even more potent.

The importance of these compounds again emphasizes the need for high intakes of fruits and vegetables in the diet, and may explain the low incidence of many of these disorders in strict vegetarians, since this would supply a high concentration of flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants to the body. Normally, the flavonoids from fruits and vegetables are only incompletely absorbed, so that relatively high concentrations would be needed to attain the same therapeutic levels seen in these experiments. Juice Plus allows us to absorb high, therapeutic concentrations of these flavonoids by a process called cryodehydration. This process removes the water and sugar from fruits and vegetable but retains their flavonoids in a fully functional state. Also the process allows one to consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables that would be impossible with the whole plant.

Iron and Health

For decades we, especially women, have been told that we need extra iron for health -that it builds healthy blood. But, recent evidence indicates that iron and copper may be doing more harm than good in most cases. It has been well demonstrated that iron and copper are two of the most powerful generators of free radicals. This is because they catalyze the conversion of hydrogen peroxide into the very powerful and destructive hydroxyl radical. It is this radical that does so much damage to membrane lipids and DNA bases within the cell. It also plays a major role in the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Males begin to accumulate iron shortly after puberty and by middle age have 1000mg of stored iron in their bodies. Women, by contrast, because of menstruation, have only 300 mg of stored iron. But, after menopause they begin to rapidly accumulate iron so that by middle age they have about 1500 mg of stored iron. It is also known that the brain begins to accumulate iron with aging. Elevated iron levels are seen with all of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimeris dementia, Parkinsonis disease, and ALS. It is thought that this iron triggers free radical production within the areas of the brain destroyed by these diseases. For example, the part of the brain destroyed by Parkinsonis disease, the substantia nigra, has very high levels of free iron.

Normally, the body goes to great trouble to make sure all iron and copper in the body is combined to a special protein for transport and storage. But, with several of these diseases, we see a loss of these transport and storage proteins. This is where flavonoids come into play. We know that many of the flavonoids ( especially quercitin, rutin, hesperidin, and naringenin) are strong chelators of iron and copper. In fact, drinking iced tea with a meal can reduce iron absorption by as much as 87%. But, flavonoids in the diet will not make you iron deficient.

Phosphotidyl serine and Excitotoxity

Recent clinical studies indicate that phophotidyl serine can significantly improve the mental functioning of a significant number of Alzheimeris patients, especially during the early stages of the disease. We know that the brain normally contains a large concentration of phosphotidyl serine. Interestingly, this compound has a chemical structure similar to L-glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Binding studies show that phosphotidyl serine competes with L-glutamate for the NMDA type glutamate receptor. What this means is that phosphotidyl serine is a very effective protectant against glutamate toxicity. Unfortunately, it is also very expensive.

The Many Functions of Ascorbic Acid

The brain contains one of the highest concentrations of ascorbic acid in the body. Most are aware of its function in connective tissue synthesis and as a free radical scavenger. But, ascorbic acid has other functions that make it rather unique. Ascorbic acid in solution is a powerful reducing agent where it undergoes rapid oxidation to form dehydroascorbic acid. Oxidation of this compound is accelerated by high ph, temperature and some transitional metals, such as iron and copper. The oxidized form of ascorbic acid can promote lipid peroxidation and protein damage. This is why it is vital that you take antioxidants together, since several, such as vitamin E ( as D- alpha-tocopherol) and alpha-lipoic acid, act to regenerate the reduced form of the vitamin.

In man, we know that certain areas of the brain have very high concentrations of ascorbic acid, such as the nucleus accumbens and hippocampus. The lowest levels are seen in the substantia nigra. These levels seem to fluctuate with the electrical activity of the brain. Amphetamine acts to increase ascorbic acid concentration in the corpus striatum ( basal ganglion area) and decrease it in the hippocampus, the memory imprint area of the brain. Ascorbic acid is known to play a vital role in dopamine production as well.

One of the more interesting links has been between the secretion of the glutamate neurotransmitter by the brain and the release of ascorbic acid into the extracellular space. This release of ascorbate can also be induced by systemic administration of glutamate or aspartate, as would be seen in diets high in these excitotoxins . The other neurotransmitters do not have a similar effect on ascorbic acid release. This effect appears to be an exchange mechanism. That is, the ascorbic acid and glutamate exchange places. Theoretically, high concentration of ascorbic acid in the diet could inhibit glutamate release, lessening the risk of excitotoxic damage. Of equal importance is the free radical neutralizing effect of ascorbic acid.

There is now substantial evidence that ascorbic acid modulates the electrophysiological as well as behavioral functioning of the brain. It also attenuates the behavioral response of rats exposed to amphetamine, which is known to act through an excitatory mechanism. In part, this is due to the observed binding of ascorbic acid to the glutamate receptor. This could mean that ascorbic acid holds great potential in treating disease related to excitotoxic damage. Thus far, there are no studies relating ascorbate metabolism in neurodegenerative diseases. There is at least one report of ascorbic acid deficiency in guineas pigs producing histopathological changes similar to ALS.

It is known that as we age there is a decline in brain levels of ascorbic acid. When accompanied by a similar decrease in glutathione peroxidase, we see an accumulation of H202 and hence, elevated levels of free radicals and lipid peroxidation. In one study it was found that with age not only does the extracellular concentration of ascorbic acid decrease but the capacity of the brain ascorbic acid system to respond to oxidative stress is impaired as well.

In terms of its antioxidant activity, vitamin C and E interact in such a way as to restore each others active antioxidant state. Vitamin C scavenges oxygen radicals in the aqueous phase and vitamin E in the lipid, chain breaking, phase. The addition of vitamin C suppresses the oxidative consumption of vitamin E almost totally, probably because in the living organism the vitamin C in the aqueous phase is adjacent to the lipid membrane layer containing the vitamin E.

When combined, the vitamin C was consumed faster during oxidative stress than the vitamin E. Once the vitamin C was totally consumed, the vitamin E began to be depleted at an accelerated rate. N-acetyl-L- cysteine and glutathione can reduce vitamin E consumption as well, but less effectively than vitamin C. The real danger is when vitamin C is combined with iron. Recent experiments have shown that such combinations can produce widespread destruction within the striate areas of the brain. This is because the free iron oxidizes the ascorbate to produce the powerful free radical hydroxyascorbate. Alpha-lipoic acid acts powerfully to keep the ascorbate and tocopherol in the reduced state ( antioxidant state). As we age, we produce less of the transferrin transport protein that normally binds free iron. As a result, older individuals have higher levels of free iron within their tissues, including brain.


In this discussion, I tried to highlight some of the more pertinent of the recent findings related to excitotoxicity in general and neurodegenerative diseases specifically. In no way is this an all inclusive discussion of this topic. There are many areas I had to omit because of space, such as alpha-lipoic acid, an antioxidant that holds great promise in combatting many of these diseases. Also, I did not go into detail concerning the metabolic stimulants, the relationship between exercise and degenerative nervous system diseases, the protective effect of methycobalamin, and the various disorders related to excitotoxins.

I also purposely omitted discussions of magnesium to keep this paper short. It is my experience, that magnesium is one of the most important neuroprotectants known. I would encourage those who suffer from one of the excitotoxin related disorders to avoid, as much as possible, food borne excitotoxin additives and to utilize the substances discussed above. The fields of excitotoxin research, in combination with research on free radicals and eicosanoids, are growing very rapidly and new information arises daily. Great promise exist in the field of flavonoid research as regards many of these neurodegenerative diseases as well as in our efforts to prevent neurodegeneration itself.

A recent study has demonstrated that aspartame feeding to animals results in an accumulation of formaldehyde within the cells, with evidence of significant damage to cellular proteins and DNA. In fact, the formaldehyde accumulated with prolonged use of aspartame. With this damning evidence, one would have to be suicidal to continue the use of aspartame sweetened foods, drinks and medicines. The use of foods containing excitotoxin additives is especially harmful to the unborn and small children. By age 4 the brain is only 80% formed. By age 8, 90% and by age 16 it is fully formed, but still undergoing changes and rewiring ( plasticity).

We know that the excitotoxins have a devastating effect on formation of the brain ( wiring of the brain) and that such exposure can cause the brain to be "miswired." This may explain the significant, almost explosive increase in ADD and ADHD. Glutamate feeding to pregnant animals produces a syndrome almost identical to ADD. It has also been shown that a single feeding of MSG after birth can increase free radicals in the offspringis brain that last until adolescence. Experimentally, we known that infants are 4X more sensitive to the toxicity of excitotoxins than are adults. And, of all the species studied, cats, dogs, primates, chickens, guinea pigs, and rats, humans are by far the most sensitive to glutamate toxicity. In fact, they are 5x more sensitive than rats and 20x more sensitive than non-human primates.

I have been impressed with the dramatic improvement in children with ADD and ADHD following abstention from excitotoxin use. It requires care monitoring of these children. Each time they are exposed to these substances, they literally go bonkers. It is ludicrous, with all we know about the destructive effects of excitotoxins, to continue to allow ourselves and our children to continue on this destructive path.


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