Monday, July 25, 2011

Walnuts Are Drugs, Says FDA

From the New American
Seen any walnuts in your medicine cabinet lately? According to the Food and Drug
Administration, that is precisely where you should find them. Because Diamond
Foods made truthful claims about the health benefits of consuming walnuts that
The FDA didn't approve, it sent the company a letter declaring, "Your walnut
Products are drugs" — and "new drugs" at that — and, therefore, "they may not
Legally be marketed … in the United States without an approved new drug
Application." The agency even threatened Diamond with "seizure" if it failed to

Diamond's transgression was to make "financial investments to educate the public
And supply them with walnuts," as William Faloon of Life Extension magazine put
It. On its website and packaging, the company stated that the omega-3 fatty
Acids found in walnuts have been shown to have certain health benefits,
Including reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. These claims,
Faloon notes, are well supported by scientific research: "Life Extension has
Published 57 articles that describe the health benefits of walnuts"; and "The US
National Library of Medicine database contains no fewer than 35 peer-reviewed
Published papers supporting a claim that ingesting walnuts improves vascular
Health and may reduce heart attack risk."

This evidence was apparently not good enough for the FDA, which told Diamond
That its walnuts were "misbranded" because the "product bears health claims that
Are not authorized by the FDA."

The FDA's letter continues: "We have determined that your walnut products are
Promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are
Intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease."
Furthermore, the products are also "misbranded" because they "are offered for
Conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals
Who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot
Be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended
Purposes." Who knew you had to have directions to eat walnuts?

"The FDA's language," Faloon writes, "resembles that of an out-of-control police
State where tyranny [reigns] over rationality." He adds:

This kind of bureaucratic tyranny sends a strong signal to the food industry not
To innovate in a way that informs the public about foods that protect against
Disease. While consumers increasingly reach for healthier dietary choices, the
Federal government wants to deny food companies the ability to convey findings
From scientific studies about their products.

Walnuts aren't the only food whose health benefits the FDA has tried to
Suppress. Producers of pomegranate juice and green tea, among others, have felt
The bureaucrats' wrath whenever they have suggested that their products are good
For people.

Meanwhile, Faloon points out, foods that have little to no redeeming value are
Advertised endlessly, often with dubious health claims attached. For example,
Frito-Lay is permitted to make all kinds of claims about its fat-laden, fried
Products, including that Lay's potato chips are "heart healthy." Faloon
Concludes that "the FDA obviously does not want the public to discover that they
Can reduce their risk of age-related disease by consuming healthy foods. They
Prefer consumers only learn about mass-marketed garbage foods that shorten life
Span by increasing degenerative disease risk."

Faloon thinks he knows why this is the case. First, by stifling competition from
Makers of more healthful alternatives, junk food manufacturers, who he says
"heavily lobb[y]" the federal government for favorable treatment, will rake in
Ever greater profits. Second, by making it less likely that Americans will
Consume healthful foods, big pharmaceutical companies and medical device
Manufacturers stand to gain by selling more "expensive cardiac drugs, stents,
And coronary bypass procedures" to those made ill by their diets.

But people are starting to fight back against the FDA's tactics. "The makers of
Pomegranate juice, for example, have sued the FTC for censoring their First
Amendment right to communicate scientific information to the public," Faloon
Reports. Congress is also getting into the act with a bill, the Free Speech
About Science Act (H.R. 1364), that, Faloon writes, "protects basic free speech
Rights, ends censorship of science, and enables the natural health products
Community to share peer-reviewed scientific findings with the public."

Of course, if the Constitution were being followed as intended, none of this
Would be necessary. The FDA would not exist; but if it did, as a creation of
Congress it would have no power to censor any speech whatsoever. If companies
Are making false claims about their products, the market will quickly punish
Them for it, and genuine fraud can be handled through the courts. In the absence
Of a government agency supposedly guaranteeing the safety of their food and
Drugs and the truthfulness of producers' claims, consumers would become more
Discerning, as indeed they already are becoming despite the FDA's attempts to
prevent the dissemination of scientific research. Besides, as Faloon observed,
"If anyone still thinks that federal agencies like the FDA protect the public,
this proclamation that healthy foods are illegal drugs exposes the government's
sordid charade."
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