Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's Time to Pencil "White Sugar" into the Margin of Section 89

Latter-day Saints are exceptionally good at following our health code which we call "the Word of Wisdom." Hundreds of thousands of members have found a way to live without tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and coffee and tea. But does our adherance to this code make us less vigilant in identifying other substances which are also unhealthy and should be eliminated from our diet? Besides the avoidance of the above-mentioned substances, American Mormons follow a diet which is quite similar to that of the rest of the country. It is high in unhealthy fat and refined sugars and flours. The world is beginning to realize that this diet is slowly poisoning us.

by permission of www.NaturalNews.com

I have recently discovered some additional information that has made me seriously consider adding white sugar, and products which contain sugar and corn syrup to the list of substances of which I never partake. Mike Adams at Natural News reports:
Farmers across the country will soon be planting Monsanto's Roundup Ready (RR®) sugar beet, genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto's herbicide glyphosate (marketed as Roundup). John Schorr, agriculture manager for Amalgamated Sugar, estimates that 95 percent of the sugar beet crop in Idaho will be of the new GM variety in 2008, or a total of 150,000 out of 167,000 acres.

The RR® sugar beets are designed to be the only living plants (if that’s life) that survive spraying of Roundup. Genetically modified (GM) sugar beets will have a significant effect upon human health, agriculture and the environment. These crops encourage increased chemical use, with glyphosate, which is a toxic poison, leaving dangerous residue on the plants. Since sugar is extracted from the beet's root, it poses a great health risk to consumers. Additionally, the GM sugar beets allow for application of strong doses of Monsanto's Roundup up to five times a year, contaminating soil and water, and killing earthworms and microorganisms. Overuse of the product Roundup has encouraged the development of resistant "superweeds." In the corn belt, farmers have already been forced to rely on even more toxic herbicides to control those weeds. Finally, pollen from genetically modified crops is almost sure to contaminate similar species. Agriculturalists consider this contamination a major risk to organic crops grown in the United States.

GM sugar beets will save farmers a whopping $80 per acre, and the hassles of hiring questionable laborers to hand weed their fields. But unfortunately they do not realize that initial increases in production will inevitably begin to shift as the soil is depleted. Farmers will find themselves paying more and more to try to offset the hidden costs of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides rather than composts and other traditional ecological farming practices.

What can we do about this situation? Nothing. Consumer groups have been unsuccessful in regulating this crop. A few companies which had agreed to boycott the use of GM sugar have now quietly withdrawn their opposition. In the United States, food containing this sugar will not be labeled as a genetically modified product. The biotechnology-enhanced sugarbeet has also been approved for human and animal consumption in the European Union, allowing unrestricted imports.

Genetically modified sugar will enter the food supply in early 2009. By then, I hope to have successfully added this substance to the list of Word-of-Wisdom-banned foods that my family no longer consumes.


The Faithful Dissident said...

"Latter-day Saints are exceptionally good at following our health code which we call "the Word of Wisdom."

Actually, I think that they're only partially exceptionally good at following the W of W.

Most Mormons seem to do just fine without alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco. But tell them to eat meat sparingly and then it's another story. Then they'll give you every justification they can come up with for why they need to have a steak or hamburgers on a daily basis -- and lots of it -- even though it's far from "cold" or famine-like conditions where they live. At least that's been my personal experience.

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables is another one. Although everyone seems to agree that we need to eat more of those things, most aren't very diligent in actually doing so.

My weakness is chocolate. Nothing has made me leave the Church yet, but if it's ever included in the W of W, then I'll know I'm done. :)

Bored in Vernal said...

Ah, FD, I had to word this very carefully. What we identify as the "Word of Wisdom" today is very different from D&C 89.

I agree with all of your points. And it makes me very sad that chocolate, with its high refined sugar content, will no longer be on my preferred foods list.

The Faithful Dissident said...

In regards to sugar, I've switched to raw cane sugar for baking and anything that I use sugar in. It's brownish in colour and a bit more coarse, but tastes almost the same as white refined sugar. I also try to buy foods that are sweetened with raw cane sugar or cane juice. I don't think the nutritional or caloric benefits are any better than white sugar, so they should still be used sparingly, but the reason why I switched was because it apparently has a more stable effect on your blood sugar. Instead of making it spike very quickly, it raises it more gradually and naturally. Same with whole wheat pasta, bread, etc. Once you make the switch, the white stuff seems terribly boring.

J. Stapley said...

Actually, your analysis is simply wrong. Round-up Ready crops reduce the amount of herbicides used and reduce the amount of soil erosion (no-till farming). They reduce the amount of chemicals that make their way into the water suply. They are better for the environment than other options.

The report you cite calls glyphosate a "pesticide" (wrong) and doesn't cite any actually studies of health risk. Nor do they show that sugar from such plants will contain any more trace "chemicals" than other sources. Classic irrational fear-mongering coupled with ignorant righteous indignation.

Regarding diabetes, sucrose (table sugar) has a lower glycemic load than does your whole wheat bread.

J. Stapley said...

...also, the faithful dissedent, is wishfully thinking regarding blood glucose levels. The glycemic response for white table sugar and less refined sugars (cane juice, raw sugar, etc.) are exactly the same.

Stephen said...

J. Stapely, you've hit a number of good points, though I do find myself agreeing with Taubes on the white flour/sugar (of any kind) analysis.

Bored in Vernal said...

J. Stapley,

I would be interested in your opinion on this paper, The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World by the Institute of Science in Society & Third World Network (a group of 600 scientists from 72 countries who have reviewed extensive scientific and other evidence on genetic engineering and presented their findings here.) It is filled with support for the statements I have made. As just one example: "Integrated pest management has cut the number of pesticide sprays in Vietnam from 3.4 to one per season, in Sri Lanka from 2.9 to 0.5 per season, and in Indonesia from 2.9 to 1.1 per season. Research showed no increase in crop losses due to pest damage, despite the withdrawal of synthetic insecticides in Californian tomato production. Pest control is achievable without pesticides, reversing crop losses, as for example, by using ‘trap crops’ to attract stem borer, a major pest in East Africa. Other benefits of avoiding pesticides arise from utilising the complex inter-relationships between species in an ecosystem." This is only one of their many, many conclusions.

After reading this paper, I cannot agree with you that the use of herbicides is better than "other options."

Companies such as Monsanto and others dependent on the sugar beet industry try to present the idea that Round-up Ready crops reduce the amount of herbicides used. But the new hybrids allow labeled glyphosate products to be applied at higher single-application rates and allow a higher total amount during the growing season. In preparation for the new crop of RR® sugar beet, the EPA has already increased the acceptable limit of glyphosate residue in sugar beet roots by 5000%.

Sorry, but I remain concerned.

J. Stapley said...

As I see it, you haven't really addressed anything I said. Your quotation from that report was about insecticide and had no baring on no-till farming practices. Even better, the report did not include citations for the data in your excerpt. Nice.

I can not verify the EPA increased limits recently (if you can I would be interested - I saw that they increased the limits from 0.2 parts per million to 10 parts per million on the roots back in 1999 with increased limits on some other crops, if that is what you are talking about); but aside from that, please show me where such an increase was not considered safe and that no-till practices result in increased herbicide use and levels in the resulting sugar.

Feel free to be concerned; but you should probably realize that your concern isn't based on any rational analysis.

Bored in Vernal said...

Stapers, I was asking your opinion on the report as a whole, which addresses the the known problems and hazards of genetically engineered crops. I included the excerpt because it was of interest to me in showing that the "other options" you discounted do have value. It comes from the introduction, and references to data follow in the report itself.

The 1999 change is indeed what I am referring to. Since the RR® sugar beets are yet to be planted, it remains to be seen whether glyphosate use will increase or decrease. But farmers have been advised that they may use much more of it than upon natural sugar beets.

Information on the environmental impact of glyphosate, (and Roundup, which is three times more toxic) can be found here. Note that use at labeled levels causes genetic damage in tadpoles, and alterations to sub-soil fungal organisms.

At this point the discussion has probably become boring. I don't wish to be inflammatory about this subject, but I prefer to avoid substances that have potential to damage the earth or myself. May I say that it is an honor to have you commenting on my post? Thank you for providing another perspective.

J. Stapley said...

Ah, my bad, for not being more clear. By other option, I meant other non-organic standard farming techniques.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. As to the tadpoll study, it does appear to have some effect, but as the study isn't freely available (I'm not currently at a university), I'm unable to see what concentrations they used. Many things, even those good for us, can be toxic at high levels. Regarding soil respiration, check out this impressive study:


Anyway, cheers.

The Faithful Dissident said...

It's funny because if you do a search on raw cane sugar, plenty of sources will tell you that it's a better choice than white refined sugar because of its nutrient content and plenty of other sources will tell you that it's a complete myth. Now I have no idea.

I did, however, find an interesting table of sugar alternatives, some of which I've never heard of or seen in stores.

Bored in Vernal said...

They used "labeled levels." I assume that is what is recommended on the label for general use, and not an unusually high amount.

I'm just interested that you would be defending refined sugar so stridently. Surely you don't disagree that increasing incidence of diabetes is connected to the Western diet? And that a major factor in our bad health is the overuse of sugar? Sugar may have a lower glycemic index than wheat bread, but you must realize there are many more factors which cause sugar to be a poor dietary as well as ecological choice.

Or perhaps you are just concerned about me, and you don't want me to have to give up my chocolate bars.

Bored in Vernal said...

FD, Thanks for the link to that table. I have used stevia before. It is popular in Utah. I know absolutely nothing about it. It doesn't taste as good as sugar, but it is sweet.

Kalola said...

BiV ~ What foods will be on your preferred list? I'm curious to see how we can totally eliminate "high refined sugar content" from our diets. Your thoughts?

J. Stapley said...

It is hard to translate labeled levels into something the tadpoles swim in, so I will reserve judgment; but am fairly skeptical.

As to sugar, I just don't see the need go on a witch hunt. Sugar is a fine thing. There is nothing inherently evil about it. It has lots of wonderful uses; and portraying it as evil because it is "refined" or "white" is silly.

People should watch their caloric intakes, exercise and moderate their glycemic load.

Bored in Vernal said...

Kalola, hi!
I'd like to be able to maintain a diet high in vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruits.

Stapers, c'mon. We can moderate our caloric intake and glycemic loads by eating moderate amounts of sugar, bacon, hamburgers and lunchmeat (just to use an extreme example). This will not keep us healthy. Some foods are just not good for you. Most overrefined and prepared foods widely available in the U.S. should simply not be consumed.

Kalola said...

BiV ~ A diet high in vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruits is ideal.

When it comes to what we eat, I feel it's wise to remember this counsel: "Moderation in all things."

Anonymous said...

Always an argument. Always right. Huh BIV?

CatherineWO said...

I am so surprised to see so much defense of sugar. It is such an addictive substance, with almost no nutritional value whatsoever (other than some marginal value in it's raw form and the fact that it does have calories).

My husband and I do not eat entirely sugar-free, because we don't worry about it as an ingredient in the few prepared foods we eat like salad dressing. However, I have a daughter who eats absolutely sugar-free. It really isn't all that difficult, but you do have to eat either raw foods or foods you prepare yourself, because so many packaged foods contain sugar. We do use xylitol occasionally (good with cinnamon on a baked apple), which is actually good for you, but is not calorie-free.

As for pesticides and herbicides, I am among the growing number of people who are chemically injured. My adrenal glands are permanently damaged from the chemicals in our environment (injested and inhaled). As a result I am unable to attend church meetings or go to publich functions, and it is unlikely that I will live to be an old woman. The truth about GMOs is that no one really knows what the future ramifications of their use will be. There are many oppinions on both sides of the argument, but much is just conjecture. Personally, I would prefer to err on the side of caution. I would never wish my disability on my worst enemy. Chemically injured people are often referred to as the canaries in the coal mine.

G said...

brava biv!

JRS said...

I just ran onto the Roundup Ready sugarbeet string. If you are still interested I want to add some information to the discussion.

Did the allowable residue of glyphosate on sugarbeets have to be increased to allow planting of Roundup Ready sugarbeets? The alert which was referred to mentions the maximum allowable residues of glyphosate increased by 5,000%.

First of all, sugar refined from sugarbeets contains no glyphosate, whether or not the sugarbeets were Roundup Ready. Second, the reason that allowable residues were increased was because glyphosate could not be used on sugarbeet plants until Roundup Ready sugarbeets were developed, so there was no basis for anything other than negligible residues. The new crop required a scientific residue data review by the EPA, and consideration of a new regulatory tolerance.

Following a thorough assessment by the EPA of potential exposure to glyphosate residues, a tolerance or maximum allowed level of 10 parts per million of glyphosate was established for raw sugarbeet roots. This compares to 20 ppm in unprocessed soybeans. EPA established this tolerance only after concluding, with reasonable certainty, that no harm would result to the general population, including infants and children, at this residue level. Importantly, refining sugarbeet roots produces pure sugar that is the same as any other sugar, and with no glyphosate residues.

But, did the tolerance really increase 5,000 percent?

Tolerances are always set as low as possible in relation to farming practices. Thirty years ago, when glyphosate was not used on growing sugarbeet plants, the appropriate tolerance was established at the extremely low level of 0.2 parts per million, because there was no use that could result in the presence of glyphosate. The new crop allowing the use of glyphosate required scientific residue data review by the EPA, and consideration of a new regulatory tolerance, which the EPA established only after concluding, with reasonable certainty, that no harm would result to the general population including infants and children at this residue level. The new tolerance is 10 parts per million – a maximum of 1/1,000th of 1 percent in the raw sugarbeet root before processing. In any case, the refined sugar does not contain glyphosate.

This is a red herring.

I don't have time at the moment to respond to other misinformation included in the discussion. I would be glad to do so at a later time if you are really interested.

Bored in Vernal said...

JRS, Thank you for this information. I would like to learn more about this. I hope you will come back and respond to some of the other concerns I had (especially the mutations in the little froggies).

Guess what, everybody? Since I wrote this post, I have eschewed sugar and prepared foods (most of which, I have discovered, contain sugar or corn syrup!) So that is, what, six days? And I feel GREAT and I lost 3 pounds.

Bookslinger said...

My observation is that Mormons are generally more obese than average.

A few years ago, I visited Colorado, which has the lowest rate of obesity of all the states. When I got to the airport, I looked around, and felt so fat. (I was 30 to 40 pounds overweight back then.)

When I got to the LDS chapel that Sunday and looked around and saw fat Mormons, I felt a lot better.

I've lost about 35 pounds since then, and feel much better.

I'm looking forward to moving away from Indiana, one of the more obese states. Too many people here think obesity is normal, and they think there is nothing wrong with it.

Medically speaking, obesity is very unhealthy. I'm sure there are various reasons and causes going on, but there is definitely something psychological going on with most people whose obesity is caused by an eating disorder.

Some people just don't know how to eat healthy, and don't understand what a calorie is. But there are others who have psychological reasons why they over-eat or binge on food, or are addicted to sugar.

Maybe it's on the same line as alcoholism, maybe not a disease per se, but definitely an illness and a health issue, both mental health and physical health.

xJane said...

White sugar is one of the greatest evils of modern American society. I say that slightly tongue-in-cheek, but it's true that it's the cause of many of our illnesses—sugar depresses the immune system, yet is one of the first ingredients in most cough drops & syrups (and actual pharmaceuticals); sugar causes cavities, yet is one of the first ingredients in most toothpastes; sugar exacerbates many serious illnesses, including cancer. I've tried to cut white sugar & flour (I call it the racist diet) out of my diet for some time. I fell off the wagon today—Hallowe'en starts the beginning of a very hard time of year to forgo sweets—but I'm already back on it. It disrupts my breathing, my vision, my concentration, and even makes the lump in my breast hurt. I wish it was easier to find things that didn't have it (or worse, high fructose corn syrup)!

Anonymous said...

Sugar is not addicting,
alcoholism is not a disease, its a choice.

old druggist

k said...

Very cool post. I have cut white sugar out completely now, and instead use rapadura/whole cane sugar, or palm sugar, or honey (local, raw). Unfortunately, the only good form of sugar derived from sugar cane is the "whole cane sugar" sometimes called "rapadura". Most other forms are highly processed, and sometimes GMO like BiV said in the OP. For example, "sugar in the raw" and "turbinado" sugar are not really raw, and do not really contain very many whole cane properties (trace minerals, vitamins, etc.)

I like this list, http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/12/guide-to-natural-sweeteners_08.html

with the exception of stevia--I only use the whole leaf, or this version: http://www.azurestandard.com/product.php?id=SW075

And I also do not use agave nectar, after reading this: http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

Okay, I got a little link-happy :)

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