Summary: Study reveals how psychedelic drug-induced changes in subjective awareness are rooted in specific neurotransmitter systems.
Source: McGill University
Psychedelics are now a rapidly growing area of neuroscience and clinical research, one that may produce much-needed new therapies for disorders such as depression and schizophrenia. Yet there is still a lot to know about how these drug agents alter states of consciousness.
In the world’s largest study on psychedelics and the brain, a team of researchers from The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and Department of Biomedical Engineering of McGill University, the Broad Institute at Harvard/MIT, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, and Mila—Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute have shown how drug-induced changes in subjective awareness are anatomically rooted in specific neurotransmitter receptor systems.
The researchers gathered 6,850 testimonials from people who took a range of 27 different psychedelic drugs. In a first-of-its-kind approach, they designed a machine learning strategy to extract commonly used words from the testimonials and link them with the neurotransmitter receptors that likely induced them.
The interdisciplinary team could then associate the subjective experiences with brain regions where the receptor combinations are most commonly found—these turned out to be the lowest and some of the deepest layers of the brain’s information processing layers.
Using thousands of gene transcription probes, the team created a 3D map of the brain receptors and the subjective experiences linked to them, across the whole brain. While psychedelic experience is known to vary widely from person to person, the large testimonial dataset allowed the team to characterize coherent states of conscious experiences with receptors and brain regions across individuals. This supports the theory that new hallucinogenic drug compounds can be designed to reliably create desired mental states.
For example, a promising effect of some psychedelics for psychiatric intervention is ego-dissolution—the feeling of being detached with the self. The study found that this feeling was most associated with the receptor serotonin 5-HT2A.
However, other serotonin receptors (5-HT2C, 5-HT1A, 5-HT2B), adrenergic receptors Alpha-2A and Beta-2, as well as the D2 receptor were also linked with the feeling of ego-dissolution. A drug targeting these receptors may be able to reliably create this feeling in patients whom clinicians believe might benefit from it.
“Hallucinogenic drugs may very well turn out to be the next big thing to improve clinical care of major mental health conditions,” says Professor Danilo Bzdok, the study’s lead author
“Our study provides a first step, a proof of principle that we may be able to build machine learning systems in the future that can accurately predict which neurotransmitter receptor combinations need to be stimulated to induce a specific state of conscious experience in a given person.”
Often doubted and even ridiculed as “ghost particles” in the past, neutrinos are now finally starting to come into the view of the public eye. Recently the revolutionary breakthroughs in neutrino research gained much attention not only at the “Nikola Tesla Forum,” but also in countless media reports across the globe. Holger Thorsten Schubart, CEO of the Neutrino Energy Group, summarized the situation in his presentation at this year’s “Nikola Tesla Forum” as follows: “The neutrino particles that reach us in a single day represent more energy than all remaining fossil fuels combined.”
Nikola Tesla, after whom the American automobile manufacturer Tesla Motors was named, was a physicist and inventor. During his lifetime he was granted over 280 patents worldwide, primarily in the field of electrical engineering. Honoring what would have been Tesla’s 162nd birthday, this year’s forum was held in the historical city of Unterwellenborn and presented a platform for discussions and the exchange of the latest research findings in the field of energy technology. Not surprisingly, neutrinos were once again a main topic of interest.
Among the high points of this year’s forum was a presentation made by Dr. Konstantin Meyl, professor for Power Electronics and Propulsion Technology, during which he took the opportunity to introduce his latest book: “Neutrino Power – Neue Erkenntnisse zu physikalischen, geografischen und kosmologischen Zusammenhängen” (INDEL Verlag, ISBN 978-3-940 703-35-4). In the course of his presentation, Dr. Meyl was able to elucidate the activity of these mysterious little particles in detail. He also gave several concrete examples of how it might be possible to tap the energy of the neutrino. “In this book, I have compiled everything that I deem to be of major importance regarding the implementation of neutrino energy,” explained Dr. Meyl in a follow-up discussion.
As the assistant chairman of the Neutrino Energy Group’s scientific advisory board, Dr. Meyl had often been exposed to the skepticism and criticism that all proponents of neutrino energy once had to face. This, however, changed radically in November of 2015 when the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two researchers who were able to prove that neutrinos do in fact possess mass. Now it has become acceptable to point out the vast possibilities of neutrino energy. Holger Thorsten Schubart explains: “Until quite recently there were many different opinions on the subject and to some extent scathing criticism. But in the end, our approach has proven itself to be correct.” Unfortunately, some scientists are still in the “Middle Ages,” said Dr. Meyl, and concluded: “The energy of the neutrino is enough to cover the needs of the entire planet.”
“In only a few decades the earth’s fossil fuel reserves will have been exhausted. Geopolitical conflicts over the last remaining resources and devastating climate change will be the results of our total dependence on oil, coal and natural gas,” said Schubart, and he went on to point out that the world’s energy reserves are not distributed evenly, thus allowing a few nations to profit at the expense of the rest of the global population. “The implementation of neutrino energy will herald in a new era for the entire planet,” concluded the leader of the Neutrino Energy Group.
In the last few days, many respected German and international news sources have been covering the recent successes in the field of neutrino research, including the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” the “Spiegel” and the “Deutsche Presse Agentur,” to name only a few. One of the stories presently receiving wide media coverage is the so-called “IceCube Neutrino Observatory” in Antarctica. Here researchers are currently observing tiny blue sparks which are caused by neutrinos from the depths of the universe. In an interview quoted in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” Marek Kowalski, the director of the Neutrino Astronomy Department at the “Deutschen Elektronen-Synchrotron,” told reporters: “We’re looking, so to speak, directly into the barrel of a cosmic shotgun.” In its coverage of the same story, the German magazine the “Spiegel“ spoke of “subatomic particles with enormous energy,” thus underscoring the true potential of this research.
In the end, there’s nothing “ghostly” about these supposed “ghost particles.” Neutrinos are very real, and huge quantities of them pass through the Earth in a constant stream. A surface the size of a thumbnail, for example, is permeated by several billion neutrinos per second. And now that two Nobel Prize laureates have finally made it clear to a doubtful scientific community that neutrinos possess mass, researchers are starting to comprehend the true potential of these limitless subatomic particles as a power source. Exploring the possibilities and finding ways to develop this potential are the two main goals of the Neutrino Energy Group.
NEUTRINO Deutschland GmbH is a German-American research and development company under the direction of the mathematician Holger Thorsten Schubart. The main office is located in Berlin. NEUTRINO Germany GmbH stands in close cooperation with an international team of scientists and research institutes that specialize in developing applications for the utilization of the nonvisible spectrum of the sun’s rays, the all-pervasive cosmic particles known as “neutrinos” among other things, by converting them into electricity.
Special emphasis is placed upon building and maintaining a close working relationship with universities and other institutions of higher learning in the area of pure research as well as upon establishing an international network of researchers who are active in the field of alternative energy technology.
The economic goal of the NEUTRINO ENERGY Group is to develop and market technological applications for the end user using the latest findings of modern science.
The American holding company NEUTRINO INC. was founded in 2008 and is presently planning an initial public offering at the New York Stock Exchange shortly. The motto of the company is: “NEUTRINO ENERGY, THE ENERGY OF THE FUTURE.”
The human soul has been a mystery for a long time, and there are many hypotheses about it. In fact, the various academic disciplines continuously try to answer it. Today’s article will discuss what the scientific community has to say about it.
You’re about to take a tour of the scientific paradigm, tradition, and current challenges. In addition, you’ll learn about Robert Lanza’s fascinating theory of biocentrism.
Your path will go beyond the spiritual. As you know, most religions mention the existence of a soul. What’s the position of science in this regard? How does it currently deal with this paradigm? Continue reading to find out.
The idea of the existence of a human soul is related to beliefs about life after death. This idea of a soul is linked to the conviction of eternal life. In addition, many people also believe that the soul is a guide by which a person thinks and feels and that it operates independently from the body.
Certainly, the conception of the soul will vary depending on the context, religion, and discipline that addresses it. It’s been mainly religious throughout history as these institutions allegedly deal with the spiritual dimension. They’ve taken it upon themselves to explain its existence.
Religions argue about the idea of a soul, independently of its connection to the spiritual, by inferring that evidence of its existence is among the mysteries associated with birth, death, different states of consciousness, memory, and imagination. Thus, they suggest that the soul is like a kind of vital force, an impulse.
According to philosopher and science historian Thomas Kuhn, a scientific paradigm is the set of universally recognized achievements of this type. Paradigms are subject to criticism, in addition to generating models of problems and solutions in the scientific community.
The current scientific paradigm doesn’t usually recognize the spiritual dimension. Rather, it points out that there’s no need for a soul. In fact, it tends to explain life through equations about the activity of carbon and the activity of proteins, etc.
On one hand, religion gives the answer to the existence of the soul from a spiritual point of view. It associates it with the transcendent and incorporeal. On the other, science associates it with the material, if it conceives it at all. In other words, the latter understands it as the mind. Also, it reduces it to the concept of cognition and consciousness, at least from a poetic standpoint.
Neuroscience has made great strides in explaining the functioning of the human nervous system and trying to explain the reason for subjective experiences. However, it’s still a mystery. Thus, the problem of whether the soul exists or not is related to the understanding of the nature of the self.
Currently, different theories have begun to challenge the scientific paradigm. The physicochemical, above all. Biocentrism is an example of this. It’s about emphasizing tough questions about human nature. For example, it asks if there’s such a thing as a soul or if there’s something beyond time.
This new perspective of being, of the cosmos and of reality, believes that life goes beyond mere atoms and particles. It would explain things such as quantum entanglement and the uncertainty principle. In fact, some authors point out that quantum weirdness occurs in the world on a human scale. At least according to Gerlich and his team, which co-authored the article “Quantum interference of large organic molecules”.
Robert Lanza, an American scientist, first suggested the theory of biocentrism. In this theory, he considers that life and biology are essential to being, reality, and the cosmos. In fact, he affirms that consciousness creates the universe and not the other way around. Thus, he didn’t ignore the physicochemical approach to the explanation of the affairs of being. Instead, he gives more importance to the biological one.
Therefore, space and time are mind tools directly connected to existence for other planes of scientific knowledge. This challenge takes humans away from classical intuition and suggests that a part of the mind or soul is immortal and exists outside these categories.
In order to describe the neuroanatomy of emotions, Paul Broca first described the limbic system in 1878. It wasn’t until later, in the 1930s, that James Papez finally named it the limbic system, and suggested that it participated in the neural circuit of emotional expression (Kolb and Whishsaw, 2003).
The limbic system corresponds to a functional concept including several neural structures and networks, which play a prominent role in emotional aspects. And since it involves emotional manifestations, it’s also related to motivation. More concretely, it’s related to action, learning, and memory-oriented motivation. In fact, it’s easier to remember or learn something that has a high emotional value (Cardinali, 2005).
The neuroanatomy of emotions: beyond brain structures
Several authors suggest that emotional responses not only involve the nervous system. In fact, experts believe that other systems, such as the immune and endocrine systems, participate in this process. For instance, Damasio (2008) introduced the somatic marker hypothesis, which states that what makes an experience valuable isn’t just cognitive evaluation but a certain somatic state as well.
A somatic state is a result of the activation of complex subcortical neurohumoral circuits that give emotional value and relevance to a certain thought.
The limbic system and other command systems
Some important research studies have defined more specific systems than the limbic system. For example, in his studies on affective neurosciences, Jaak Panksepp (2001) conceptualized systems based on primary emotions: sadness, fear, and rage, among others. The main ones are:
This system motivates the pursuit of pleasure; it activates a person’s interest in the world. It’s circuits run on dopamine. Furthermore, some neuroscientists believe it’s similar to Freudian libido and lust (Bleichmar, 2001; Solms and Turnbull, 2005).
The expectancy system is part of the mesolimbic/mesocortical system, which operate simultaneously and affect each other, forming the so-called extended amygdala (Cardinali, 2005).
Natural pleasurable stimuli (such as food or sex) and addictive drugs promote dopamine release, which takes place in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) neurons. These send projections to the nucleus accumbens and finally translate into euphoria and behavior reinforcement. When this system is highly stimulated, an individual will seek pleasurable sensations (Leira, 2012).
Originates due to frustration toward an object, person, or situation.
Physical manifestations include “fight” motor programs, such as jaw clenching or yelling.
In addition, the activity originates in the amygdala toward the stria terminalis and the hypothalamus.
It mainly involves the amygdala.
Responses such as “fight” and “escape” stem from the amygdala’s lateral and central nuclei, which respectively send projections to the medial and anterior part of the hypothalamus.
It’s seemingly related to social interactions and bonding and especially with the maternity process and attachment behaviors.
Endogenous opioids take part in this system. Separation or loss of something with affective value leads to reduced concentration of the endogenous opioids, which determine a painful experience.
Biological foundation. The anterior cingulate gyrus and its projections to the thalamus and hypothalamus toward the ventral tegmental area.
Inhibition and regulation of the prefrontal cortex emotional responses
The previous command systems need experiences in order to develop. Thus, with voluntary actions, the external world information coming through association areas goes to the prefrontal cortex, which then connects with the motor system. As per involuntary actions in which there are emotional reactions, subcortical areas mediate actions (such as the command systems we mentioned above).
In the neuroanatomy of emotions, the prefrontal cortex regulates emotional responses. It takes place in the ventral medial area, acting as an inhibitor, and in the lateral area. The latter has more of a controlling function of conscious thoughts. It’s the protagonist in the learning, planning, and decision-making processes.
The Facts: A study published last month in “frontiers in numerology” strongly suggest the combined administration of Vitamin C & Quercetin for Covid-19 patients.
Reflect On: Why are other drugs and therapies that have shown great promise constantly ignored, and in some cases ridiculed? Why are we being made to believe that the only solution here is a vaccine?
What Happened: A study published last month in Frontiers in Numerology titled “Quercetin and Vitamin C: An Experimental, Synergistic Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Related Disease (COVID-19)” concluded the following:
Quercetin displays a broad range of antiviral properties which can interfere at multiple steps of pathogen virulence -virus entry, virus replication, protein assembly- and that these therapeutic effects can be augmented by the co-administration of vitamin C. Furthermore, due to their lack of severe side effects and low-costs, we strongly suggest the combined administration of these two compounds for both the prophylaxis and the early treatment of respiratory tract infections, especially including COVID-19 patients.
Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid). It is found in many plants and foods, like onions, green tea, apples, berries, American elder, and many others others. Buckwheat tea also has a large amount of quercetin. The study explains:
Quercetin (also known as 3,3′,4′5,7-pentahydroxyflavone) is a widely distributed plant flavonoid, found in several vegetables, leaves, seeds, and grains, where it is conjugated with residual sugars to form quercetin glycosides (8). Studies suggest that quercetin supplementation may promote antioxidant (9), anti-inflammatory, antiviral (10), and immunoprotective effects (11). Quercetin has been studied in various types and models of viral infection due to its promising antiviral effects in inhibiting polymerases (12), proteases (13), reverse transcriptase (14), suppressing DNA gyrase, and binding viral capsid proteins (15, 16).
As far as vitamin C goes, this is not the only study or article to recommend its use when it comes to treating COVID-19. For example, Medicine in Drug Discovery, of Elsevier, a major scientific publishing house, recently published an article on early and high-dose IVC in the treatment and prevention of Covid-19. The article was written by Dr. Richard Cheng, MD, PhD, a US board-certified anti-aging specialist, from Shanghai, China. Dr. Cheng served in the United States Army as a commissioned officer (Major) and an Army physician.
High-dose intravenous VC has also been successfully used in the treatment of 50 moderate to severe COVID-19 patients in China. The doses used varied between 2 g and 10 g per day, given over a period of 8–10 h. Additional VC bolus may be required among patients in critical conditions. The oxygenation index was improving in real time and all the patients eventually cured and were discharged. In fact, high-dose VC has been clinically used for several decades and a recent NIH expert panel document states clearly that this regimen (1.5 g/kg body weight) is safe and without major adverse events.
According to the new study:
Vitamin C exerts its antiviral properties by supporting lymphocyte activity, increasing interferon-α production, modulating cytokines, reducing inflammation, improving endothelial dysfunction, and restoring mitochondrial function (4–6). There are also suggestions that vitamin C may be directly viricidal (7). These in vitro effects, as we previously discussed (2), constitute a reflection of both the supra-physiological concentrations of ascorbate and the interaction between vitamin C and metal-containing culture media—both of which are pro-oxidant, generating reactive oxygen species.
Obviously the study goes into more details, and potential limitations etc. So be sure to read it for more detail if you’re interested.
The New York post also reported that multiple hospitals in the state were using it and seeing great results. You can read more about that here.
With all of this information emerging, and its continual emergence, mainstream media and fact-checkers began early on claiming that vitamin C can’t really do anything for COVID-19, and that it’s false to suggest it could or that it does. For example, an article published by LiveScience, a mainstream science website claimed that “Vitamin C is extremely unlikely to help people fight off the new coronavirus.”
We are starting to see that this narrative may not be true. So who is fact checking the fact checkers? Why is there an authoritarian fact checker going around patrolling the internet? Is it really to combat misinformation, or to target those sharing information that opposes the given narrative? Edward Snowden, among others, have expressed that governments are using the pandemic to impose more authoritarian measures upon the population without our consent that will remain in place long after the pandemic, similar to the measures that were put in place after 9/11.
Do you think this is true? Why do governments mandate, and not recommend? Is their reasoning sound?
Why This Is Important
In an ideal world during such a pandemic any substance showing promise for treating or curing a disease would be explored by all countries, governments and health organizations around the world, together, openly, and transparently. We have created a world that prevents this from happening, and instead of doing what’s right, our health authorities choose what will be the most profitable and as a result, we don’t end up doing what’s right. Instead, what we see is a massive ridicule campaign about anything showing promise, while simultaneously continue to get hammered with the idea that things can’t be how they were before until we get a vaccine. That being said, do we want to go back to how things were before, or do we want something better?
Are rouge interests taking control of what’s going on here, similar to when a number of CDC scientists told the world that these interests dominate these organizations?
Why do we keep listening to the advice of government health authorities when a large and growing number of people don’t trust their information and medical mandates? With so many examples of fraud and corruption, and shutting down the idea that substances other than a vaccine can actually work, what is really going on here? If there’s one great thing this pandemic has done, it’s been to serve as another catalyst for the mass awakening of humanity.
Using UV-C light, the system can disinfect a warehouse floor in half an hour—and could one day be employed in grocery stores, schools, and other spaces.
With every droplet that we can’t see, touch, or feel dispersed into the air, the threat of spreading COVID-19 persists. It’s become increasingly critical to keep these heavy droplets from lingering—especially on surfaces, which are welcoming and generous hosts.
Thankfully, our chemical cleaning products are effective—but using them to disinfect larger settings can be expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming.
With that in mind, a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), in collaboration with Ava Robotics and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), designed a new robotic system that powerfully disinfects surfaces and neutralizes aerosolized forms of the coronavirus.
The approach uses a custom UV-C light fixture designed at CSAIL that is integrated with Ava Robotics’ mobile robot base. The results were encouraging enough that researchers say that the approach could be useful for autonomous UV disinfection in other environments, such as factories, restaurants, and supermarkets.
UV-C light has been proven as an effective method for killing viruses and bacteria on surfaces and aerosols, but it’s unsafe for humans to be exposed. Fortunately, Ava’s telepresence robot doesn’t require any human supervision. Instead of the telepresence top, the team subbed in a UV-C array for disinfecting surfaces. Specifically, the array uses short-wavelength ultraviolet light to kill microorganisms and disrupt their DNA in a process called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation.
The complete robot system is capable of mapping the space—in this case, GBFB’s warehouse—and navigating between waypoints and other specified areas. In testing the system, the team used a UV-C dosimeter, which confirmed that the robot was delivering the expected dosage of UV-C light predicted by the model.
“Food banks provide an essential service to our communities, so it is critical to help keep these operations running,” says Alyssa Pierson, CSAIL research scientist and technical lead of the UV-C lamp assembly. “Here, there was a unique opportunity to provide additional disinfecting power to their current workflow, and help reduce the risks of COVID-19 exposure.”
Food banks are also facing a particular demand due to the stress of COVID-19. In April, the United Nations projected that, because of the virus, the number of people facing severe food insecurity worldwide could double to 265 million.
During tests at GBFB, the robot was able to drive by the pallets and storage aisles at a speed of roughly 0.22 miles per hour. At this speed, the robot could cover a 4,000-square-foot space in GBFB’s warehouse in just half an hour. The UV-C dosage delivered during this time can neutralize approximately 90% of coronaviruses on surfaces. For many surfaces, this dose will be higher, resulting in more of the virus neutralized.
Typically, this method of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is used largely in hospitals and medical settings to sterilize patient rooms and stop the spread of microorganisms like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile, and the UV-C light also works against airborne pathogens. While it’s most effective in the direct “line of sight,” it can get to nooks and crannies as the light bounces off surfaces and onto other surfaces.
“Our 10-year-old warehouse is a relatively new food distribution facility with AIB-certified, state-of-the-art cleanliness and food safety standards,” says Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank. “COVID-19 is a new pathogen that GBFB, and the rest of the world, was not designed to handle. We are pleased to have this opportunity to work with MIT CSAIL and Ava Robotics to innovate and advance our sanitation techniques to defeat this menace.”
As a first step, the team teleoperated the robot to teach it the path around the warehouse—meaning it was equipped with autonomy to move around, without the team needing to navigate it remotely.
It can go to defined waypoints on its map, such as going to the loading dock, then the warehouse shipping floor, then returning to base. They define those waypoints from the expert human user in teleop mode, and then can add new waypoints to the map as needed.
Within GBFB, the team identified the warehouse shipping floor as a “high-importance area” for the robot to disinfect. Each day, workers stage aisles of products and arrange them for up to 50 pickups by partners and distribution trucks the next day. By focusing on the shipping area, it prioritizes disinfecting items leaving the warehouse to reduce COVID-19 spread out into the community.
Currently, the team is exploring how to use its onboard sensors to adapt to changes in the environment, such that in new territory, the robot would adjust its speed to ensure the recommended dosage is applied to new objects and surfaces.
A unique challenge is that the shipping area is constantly changing, so each night, the robot encounters a slightly new environment. When the robot is deployed, it doesn’t necessarily know which of the staging aisles will be occupied, or how full each aisle might be. Therefore, the team notes that they need to teach the robot to differentiate between the occupied and unoccupied aisles, so it can change its planned path accordingly.
As far as production went, “in-house manufacturing” took on a whole new meaning for this prototype and the team. The UV-C lamps were assembled in Pierson’s basement, and CSAIL PhD student Jonathan Romanishin crafted a makeshift shop in his apartment for the electronics board assembly.
“As we drive the robot around the food bank, we are also researching new control policies that will allow the robot to adapt to changes in the environment and ensure all areas receive the proper estimated dosage,” says Pierson. “We are focused on remote operation to minimize human supervision, and, therefore, the additional risk of spreading COVID-19, while running our system.”
For immediate next steps, the team is focused on increasing the capabilities of the robot at GBFB, as well as eventually implementing design upgrades. Their broader intention focuses on how to make these systems more capable at adapting to our world: how a robot can dynamically change its plan based on estimated UV-C dosages, how it can work in new environments, and how to coordinate teams of UV-C robots to work together.
“We are excited to see the UV-C disinfecting robot support our community in this time of need,” says CSAIL director and project lead Daniela Rus. “The insights we received from the work at GBFB has highlighted several algorithmic challenges. We plan to tackle these in order to extend the scope of autonomous UV disinfection in complex spaces, including dorms, schools, airplanes, and grocery stores.”
Currently, the team’s focus is on GBFB, although the algorithms and systems they are developing could be transferred to other use cases in the future, like warehouses, grocery stores, and schools.
(WATCH the robot in action in the CSAIL video below)
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen delayed a ruling in the case between the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The FAN is aiming to prove the harms caused by community water fluoridation. The government is defending water fluoridation and seeking a dismissal of the petition by the plaintiffs.
Over the last two weeks, Judge Chen has heard arguments from witnesses with the FAN and EPA. Attorneys with FAN argue that water fluoridation violates the 1970 Toxic Substances Control Act provisions which prohibit the “particular use” of a chemical which has been found to present an unreasonable risk to the general public. Under section 21 of the TSCA citizens are allowed to petition the EPA to regulate or ban individual chemicals.
Judge Chen suggested the FAN file a new petition with the EPA, a suggestion which plaintiffs attorney Michael Connett was not eager to accept given the fact that it has taken four years to get the lawsuit to court. Connett told the court that the plaintiffs might not have the resources to continue this fight for another couple of years and cautioned against delaying a ruling because it would continue to endanger Americans due to ongoing fluoride exposure. The EPA’s attorneys were equally disinterested in a delayed ruling, stating that there is “no way” the EPA could conduct a review within the required 90 days.
Judge Chen said he was only discussing delaying the ruling for another couple of months, not years. Chen also noted that the evidence presented by both sides went “well beyond administrative record, because so much has changed since that petition was filed” in 2016. “Doesn’t it make sense to have the agency take a second look?” Judge Chen asked the attorneys for the EPA and FAN.
Judge Chen noted that the National Academy of Science is expected to publish a study later this year and the National Toxicology Program is working on a review of the literature on fluoride. These new studies, he said, should be considered by the EPA. The judge did acknowledge it is undisputed that fluoride can cause harm to the human brain and is a neurological hazard. The disagreement between EPA and FAN hinges on arguments over the levels at which fluoride causes neurological damage.
Ultimately, Judge Chen, the EPA, and the FAN agreed to delay a ruling until both parties have time to discuss whether the EPA will revisit the original petition, FAN will file a new petition, or the judge will rule on the current case. A briefing between both sides is scheduled for August 6.
During the discussions about the potential ruling, Judge Chen admitted that the EPA held the FAN petition on water fluoridation to a standard which is not typical of petitions under TSCA. “The EPA appears to have applied a standard of causation, which from my read of TSCA is not accurate, is not a proper application, not the proper standard,” Chen said to the EPA. This fact was acknowledged by FAN attorney Michael Connett on Tuesday during cross examination of EPA witness Dr. Tala Henry. Under standard TSCA procedure, parties must show an association — not causation — to prove the harm of water fluoridation.
Connett also spent much of his cross examination of EPA expert witnesses drawing attention to their previous testimony in defense of chemical companies and chemicals known to be hazardous to humans. Two of the EPA’s witnesses are employed by the corporate firm Exponent Inc. While cross examining EPA witness Dr. Ellen Chang, Connett asked how much biotech/pesticide company Syngenta paid her for a presentation she had given.
Connett also questioned Dr. Chang about how much she was being paid to defend water fluoridation. Chang stated that Exponent Inc was paying her an estimated $149,000. Dr. Chang was also questioned by Connett about her previous work for Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and other chemical companies and associations. Specifically, Connett called attention to the fact that Dr. Chang had previously stated that despite an association between Monsanto/Bayer’s glyphosate and cancer, she concluded there was no risk. Chang admitted that one peer-reviewer of her study on glyphosate found her analysis “devolved into a laundry list of every possible cause of bias.”
Despite arguments from the EPA’s attorneys that the EPA would never fail to act to protect Americans from harm, the fact remains that the U.S. government hired corporate scientists to defend water fluoridation. The EPA attempted to diminish the concerns brought by the plaintiffs and their experts, while simultaneously attempting to present last-minute evidence which had not been peer-reviewed. If the EPA wants to protect the American people they should accept the plaintiffs petition and end water fluoridation. If they refuse to do so, Judge Chen should see clearly that fluoride is a neurotoxin which poses an unreasonable risk to human health.
Question Everything, Come To Your Own Conclusions.
#FluorideTrial: Experts Admit Fluoride is a Pesticide
The first week of the historic water fluoridation trial wrapped up on Friday afternoon after four days of occasionally tense testimony from expert witnesses with the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One expert witness claimed he had been coerced into signing a statement downplaying his study which claimed fluoride is a neurotoxicant. Another witness confirmed that at least one type of fluoride is a pesticide being added to the water supply.
Attorneys with FAN argue that water fluoridation violates the 1970 Toxic Substances Control Act provisions which prohibit the “particular use” of a chemical which has been found to present an unreasonable risk to the general public. Under section 21 of the TSCA citizens are allowed to petition the EPA to regulate or ban individual chemicals.
The EPA is represented by lawyers from the Department of Justice who are presenting experts from the corporate firm Exponent Inc. The government is defending water fluoridation and seeking a dismissal of the petition by the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs in the case include: FAN, Moms Against Fluoridation, Food & Water Watch, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and the Organic Consumers Association.
FAN attorney Michael Connett called 3 witnesses throughout the week, including Howard Hu MD, Bruce Lanphear MD, Philippe Grandjean MD, and Kathleen Thiessen PhD. Connett told the court that the EPA has previously relied on the research of all of these experts in the past on other toxicants like lead and mercury. Two of these experts have been authors of key fluoride studies funded by US government agencies. Connett noted that the EPA chose to use experts from Exponent rather than their own agencies experts.
The EPA did their part to question the Fluoride Action Network’s witnesses and diminish their credibility. Dr. KathleenThiessen made a powerful admission when interviewed by FAN attorney Connett, stating that sodium fluoride is a pesticide that is being added to the water supply. However, during cross examination of Thiessen, the EPA asked if she is personal friends with the Connett family, including Paul Connett, Director of the Fluoride Action Network, and Michaell Connett, the lawyer representing FAN. Thiessen said yes she is friends with the family. The EPA pressed further, asking if she had attended meetings sponsored by FAN, whether she is on the group’s mailing list, if she has appeared in interviews on their websites, and if she helped Paul Connett with his book The Case Against Fluoride.
Dr. Thiessen answered affirmatively to these questions but denied it had any influence on her conclusions that fluoride is harmful. When questioned whether or not she has been advocating for removing fluoride for decades, while maintaining a friendship with the plaintiffs, Thiessen said yes, but emphasized that her position was based on science. The EPA then showed the court emails between plaintiff’s attorney Michael Connet and Thiessen. Connett sent Thiessen a list of studies to review and the EPA was attempting to show the judge that the plaintiff’s may have influenced Thiessen’s opinions and statements.
Dr. Howard Hu provided further background on his research on fluoride, testifying on the difficulty of getting his research funded by the National Institute of Health and the steps for publication in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal. Hu stated that his study found a loss of around 3 or 4 IQ points and this impact on population should not be ignored. He also discussed the parallels to lead neurotoxicity.
Corruption of Fluoride Science
One of the strongest witnesses for the plaintiffs was Danish environmental epidemiologist Dr. Phillip Grandjean, known for his work on the neurotoxicity of mercury. Granjean helped the EPA establish safe regulatory levels for mercury in the diet.
Dr. Grandjean stated that he had been threatened or coerced by a colleague at the Harvard Dental School after one of his studies concluded that fluoride was a neurotoxin. When DOJ lawyer Debra Carfora asked Grandjean about a statement he signed downplaying the significance of the results, Grandjean stated that the Harvard press department put the statement together and added his name to it. The statement said the researchers still agreed with the CDC position that water fluoridation is safe. Dr. Grandjean did not elaborate upon who threatened him or how often such threats may happen in his field. He also stated that the “fluoride lobby” infiltrated a World Health Organization committee seeking to exclude any mention of harmful effects of fluoride.
On the specific harmful effects of fluoride, Dr. Grandjean stated in his deposition that, “the weight of epidemiological evidence leaves no reasonable doubt that developmental neurotoxicity is a serious human health risk associated with elevated fluoride exposure.” Dr. Grandjean has also stated that efforts to control human fluoride exposure need to focus on pregnant women and small children.
During his testimony Granjean took particular issue with statements made by the EPA’s expert Dr. Cheng. “What she has written should not be relied upon… This is not science, this is simply a misleading report.” Grandjean elaborated, stating, “I’m embarrassed that the EPA would recruit Dr. Chang, who has already tried to kill some of my work on polyfluorinated chemicals, that they would recruit her to write this report full of biases. I get a little upset about it… I’m sorry to see what has happened to a colleague that works for a product defense firm.”
This issue of the EPA’s experts working for Exponent was a theme of several of the plaintiffs’ witnesses. At least two of the EPA’s witnesses – Ellen Chang, ScD and Joyce Tsuji, PhD – are employed by Exponent Inc, a firm accused of paying the U.S. government to defend dangerous chemicals. Plaintiff’s witness Dr. Lamphear also called out the scientists working for Exponent as industry friendly “rent-a-white-coats.”
The apparent conflicts of interest were the topic of conversation again on Friday when FAN attorney Michael Connett cross examined the government’s witness Dr. Joyce Tsuji, a board-certified toxicologist and a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences, who specializes in risk assessment of chemical exposures. Connett asked Dr. Tsuji if she has been funded by mining and smelting companies which “release arsenic into the air.” Connett also asked Tsuji if the majority of her projects have been funded by industry. Tsuji agreed that most of her work has come from industry funded sources.
The afternoon ended with plans for Dr. Tsuji to be cross examined by the plaintiff’s attorneys. Court will resume on Monday June 15, at 8:30 am pacific.
The US military’s mystery space plane rocketed into orbit again Sunday, this time with an extra load of science experiments, the AP reports. It’s the sixth flight of an X-37B, a solar-powered plane that’s flown by remote control without a crew. Officials aren’t saying how long the spacecraft will remain in orbit this time or the purpose of the mission. The previous mission lasted a record two years, with a touchdown shrouded in darkness at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last year. The winged spacecraft resembles NASA’s old shuttles, but is considerably smaller at 29 feet long. The one just launched features an extra compartment for experiments, including several for NASA. The Air Force has two of these reusable space planes.
Since the first flight in 2010, the space planes had logged a combined 2,865 days in orbit as of Sunday. Delayed a day by bad weather, this marks just the second rocket launch for the newly established Space Force. In March, it hoisted a national security satellite. United Launch Alliance, which provided the Atlas V rocket, dedicated Sunday’s launch to the health care workers and others who are working on the front lines of the pandemic. The company said it followed health advice for the launch. Many of the flight controllers wore masks and were spread out. Before dawn Monday, SpaceX will attempt to launch another batch of its Starlink satellites for global internet service. It will be SpaceX’s last flight before its first astronaut launch, scheduled for May 27 from next-door Kennedy Space Center.
Opposition also continues to increase – from a growing list of respected sources – regarding satellites and similar vehicles being launched into the sky and space (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7. 8, 9, 10). Regardless, it continues.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives.
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