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Tags: FDA | Could | Kill | Millions | Steve Forbes | bacterial apocalypse | ethanol

Steve Forbes: FDA Could Kill Millions of Us

By    |   Sunday, 06 February 2011 03:10 PM EST

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Bush Daughter Barbara Backs Gay Marriage in Video
2. Steve Forbes: FDA Could Kill Millions of Us
3. Ethanol Production Fueling ‘Food Inflation’
4. Federal Debt on Pace for Record year in 2011
5. Cairo Awash in Garbage — Blame the Flu
6. We Heard: David Axelrod, John McCain

1. Bush Daughter Barbara Backs Gay Marriage in Video

Former President George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara has taped a video ad voicing her support for same-sex marriage in New York.

“I’m Barbara Bush and I’m a New Yorker campaigning for marriage equality,” Barbara Bush, 29, states in the ad.

“New York is about fairness and equality and everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Join us.”

The 22-second ad was produced by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group. Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications, told CBS News that the group was introduced to Barbara through mutual friends who knew she supported gay rights.

“When the opportunity became available, we immediately leapt at it,” Sainz said. “We think she’s a very effective spokesman and brings an awful lot of dignity and poise.”

Bush’s ad “sends a message to all Republicans across this country that this does not have to be — should not be — a partisan issue.”

President Bush campaigned against gay rights during his 2004 re-election campaign, saying he would introduce a constitutional amendment to restrict “marriage” to a union between a man and a woman.

But Barbara’s mother Laura Bush appeared to support same-sex marriage when she said during her book tour last year that couples that “are committed to each other and love each other” should have “the same sort of rights that everyone has.”

The ad comes on the eve of a new push by activists to legalize gay marriage in New York.

Editor's Note:

2. Steve Forbes: FDA Could Kill Millions of Us

Forbes magazine Editor in Chief Steve Forbes warns that the Food and Drug Administration’s foot-dragging on approving new antibiotics is leading to the “potential catastrophe” of a “bacterial apocalypse.”

The FDA has been making the approval of new drugs increasingly burdensome in recent years, Forbes — who was a Republican candidate for president in 1996 and 2000 — writes in a Forbes magazine editorial.

“The FDA’s behavior is no surprise to the organization’s watchers,” he says. “Approve a medication that has an unintended side effect and congressional headline-seekers will be giving officials the third degree. Better to let people die by depriving them of new medicines.”

As a result of the FDA’s foot-dragging, the pipeline for new antibiotics is drying up, according to Forbes.

Antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives since the 1940s, but bacteria can become drug-resistant and new drugs are constantly needed to keep pace with new killer germs. But the flow of new antibiotics “has slowed to a trickle,” Forbes observes in the editorial headlined “How the FDA May Kill Millions of Us.”

One reason is that research is becoming more expensive, discouraging pharmaceutical companies from risking money on developing new medications that may not ultimately gain FDA approval.

“But the chief villain is the FDA,” Forbes declares.

He quotes David Shlaes, author of the book “Antibiotics: The Perfect Storm.” Shlaes writes: “Regulatory agencies like the FDA are contributing to the problem with a constant barrage of clinical trial requirements that make it harder, slower and more costly to develop antibiotics.”

Forbes also might have pointed to a new study by oncologist David Stewart and his colleagues at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The study notes that the time from drug discovery to marketing increased from eight years in 1960 to 12 to 15 years now, Reason magazine reported.

The researchers calculate that five years of this increase is the result of ever tighter regulations boosting the costs and lengths of clinical trials.

Forbes declares: “Thus today we are faced with potential catastrophe. Lethal bacteria now threaten to colonize U.S. hospitals. If nothing is done, we will be facing a bacterial apocalypse. The horrors that we thought were banished 70 years ago are coming back.”

The FDA should be overhauled to remove its capricious hurdles, Forbes says, calling on the new Congress to “hold hearings on the FDA’s increasingly deadly and bizarre behavior.”

Editor's Note:

3. Ethanol Production Fueling ‘Food Inflation’

While rising food prices have been a factor in recent riots in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, the United States is continuing to increase its use of corn to make ethanol, pushing up grain and meat prices worldwide.

“The global economy is getting back on its feet, but so too is an old enemy: food inflation,” The Wall Street Journal states in an editorial, noting that the United Nations benchmark index for food reached a record high in December, “raising fears of shortages and higher prices.”

In 2001, only 7 percent of America’s corn crop, about 707 million bushels, was used to make ethanol fuel for vehicles. By 2010, nearly 40 percent of American corn went for ethanol — almost 5 billion bushels out of total U.S. production of 12.4 billion bushels.

American farmers account for about 39 percent of global corn production, and about 16 percent of the crop is exported, so America’s ethanol production can influence world prices.

March futures for corn recently hit a 30-month high of $6.67 a bushel, up from $4 a bushel a year ago.

Also, since 40 percent of U.S. corn production is used as animal feed, rising corn prices push up the cost of beef, poultry and other items as well.

“This trend is the deliberate result of policies designed to subsidize ethanol,” and it “coincides with a growing consensus that ethanol achieves none of its alleged policy goals,” The Journal observes.

Ethanol supporters claim it reduces American dependence on foreign oil, but a Cornell University scientist calculated that even if the entire American crop was used for ethanol, it would satisfy just 4 percent of our oil consumption.

And the Environmental Protection Agency has downplayed assertions that ethanol provides a cleaner source of energy than gasoline, saying it “has a minimal to negative impact on the environment,” according to The Journal.

The American Thinker on Monday observed: “Today there is a global food shortage and sky-rocketing prices. This has become the underlying factor in the riots in Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt, where up to 56 percent of a person's income is dedicated to the acquisition of food. These riots are now leading to the upheaval of governments and the very real possibility of the ascendancy of the radical elements into control.”

A significant factor “in the overall global food situation is the American decision to, in essence, burn food in its cars, a policy championed by the environmentalists since the 1990s,” American Thinker also noted.

“There is no quicker way to foment riots and revolution than to deprive the populace of food, particularly when so much daily income goes into feeding oneself and one's family. The pictures we have seen in North Africa may well be repeated elsewhere throughout the world.”

Noting that Congress recently voted to extend the $5 billion tax credit for blending ethanol into gasoline, The Journal concludes: “At a time when the world will need more corn and grains, it makes no sense to devote scarce farmland to make a fuel that exists only because of taxpayer subsidies and mandates.

“If food supplies tighten and prices keep rising, such a policy will soon become immoral.”

Editor's Note:

4. Federal Debt on Pace for Record year in 2011

The national debt rose by $569.4 billion in the first four months of fiscal 2011, putting this year on pace to become the second-ranking year in U.S. history for accumulating new federal debt.

The federal debt increased by $105.8 billion in January, pushing the total debt to $14.13 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Fiscal 2009 set the record for increasing the debt, raising it by $1.89 trillion. In that year, Congress passed the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program that President George W. Bush signed in October 2008, and the $787 billion stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed in February 2009.

Fiscal 2010 is currently the second-ranking year — the debt rose by $1.65 trillion that year.

But the “federal government’s accumulation of new debt in fiscal 2011 is currently on a pace to outstrip the new debt accumulated in fiscal 2010,” CNS News reported.

“If the government continues accumulating debt in the final two-thirds of the year as quickly as it did in the first third [October through January], then the total new debt accumulated for fiscal 2011 would reach $1.7 trillion,” ahead of 2010 but behind 2009.

Also at that current rate, the federal government would end up borrowing an additional $5,532 for each man, woman and child in the country. And the total debt of $14.13 trilling equals $45,769 per person.

Editor's Note:

5. Cairo Awash in Garbage — Blame the Flu

Imagine a metropolis of 18 million people that produces more than 8,000 tons of garbage each day — yet has no municipal garbage collection.

That’s Cairo. Garbage has long been an unhealthy and odiferous problem in the Egyptian capital, but in the last few years it has gotten even worse, thanks in large part to the swine flu.

And while Cairo residents have lately been far more concerned with the unfolding political turmoil in Egypt than with garbage, the problem has been just one more facet of Egyptian life that angers and frustrates citizens.

For decades, Cairo’s garbage has been picked up by a Coptic Christian community called the Zabbaleen — “garbage people” in Egyptian Arabic — who moved from farms to Cairo in the 1940s looking for work and settled on cliffs on the eastern edge of the city.

The Zabbaleen — whose numbers have been estimated from 80,000 to several hundred thousand — go door to door collecting trash from city residents and businesses. They transport the garbage back to their communities and sort out materials that can be sold for recycling.

Several years ago the government tried to hire private companies to collect some of the trash, but the Zabbaleen said they were collecting more than 6,000 tons a day and the private carters just 2,000, according to The New York Times.

In the past the Zabbaleen tossed the food waste to their large herds of pigs, which they raised for sale and subsidence. But in April 2009, news broke that swine flu was spreading around the world. The government of Hosni Mubarak decided to kill all the country’s pigs, about 300,000, even though there had been no cases of swine flu in Egypt at that time. The slaughter continued even after it was generally agreed that pigs were not spreading the disease.

The vast majority of Egyptians are Muslim and they do not eat pork.

Without their pigs, the Zabbaleen suddenly had no way to dispose of their organic waste. Instead they have been recycling what they can from the garbage they collect, and tossing the food waste wherever they can.

“They expect me to pay to have a carter take this [garbage] away,” said one member of a Zabbaleen family who lost 125 pigs. “Forget it. I will throw it anywhere.”

The private companies have tried to place trash bins around the city, “but they failed to understand the ethos of the community,” the Seattle Times reported shortly after the pig slaughter. “People do not take their garbage out. They are accustomed to someone collecting it from the door.”

Editor's Note:

6. We Heard . . .   

THAT President Barack Obama’s former Senior Adviser David Axelrod has agreed to a deal with Washington Speakers Bureau for representation on the lecture circuit.

“From his unique vantage point, Axelrod looks back at the successes and failures of the Obama administration, the events that will shape the 2012 election, and the inspiring leadership lessons he has learned working alongside the president in turbulent times,” the Bureau said in a statement.

Axelrod left the White House on Jan. 28 to begin working on Obama’s re-election campaign.

THAT Sen. John McCain says he’s not likely to endorse any candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

“I think I’m staying out of this for the first time in many years,” McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential candidate, told Politico.

If McCain stays out of the race, he would withhold an endorsement even of Sarah Palin, his 2008 running mate and a potential 2012 candidate.

Politico noted: “Of course, things could change as candidates officially enter the race.”

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Bush Daughter Barbara Backs Gay Marriage in Video 2. Steve Forbes: FDA Could Kill Millions of Us 3. Ethanol Production Fueling Food Inflation 4. Federal Debt on Pace for Record year in 2011 5. Cairo Awash...
FDA,Could,Kill,Millions,Steve Forbes,bacterial apocalypse,ethanol,Federal debt,cairo garbage,David Axelrod,John McCain
Sunday, 06 February 2011 03:10 PM
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