Matt Rammelkamp's Blog

Personal blog of Matthew Rammelkamp from 2005 - 2009. Blog is now changing sites to

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

'Smoking gun' in McDonald's hands

The full article is available here

The 7,000km journey that links Amazon destruction to fast food
by John Vidal, environment editor, Guardian.

A handful of the world's largest food companies and commodity traders,
including McDonald's in the UK, are driving illegal and rapid
destruction of the Amazon rainforest, according to a six-year
investigation of the Brazilian soya bean industry.
The report,
published today, follows a 7,000km chain that starts with the clearing
of virgin forest by farmers and leads directly to Chicken McNuggets
being sold in British and European fast food restaurants. It also
alleges that much of the soya animal feed arriving in the UK from
Brazil is a product of "forest crime" and that McDonald's and British
supermarkets have turned a blind eye to the destruction of the forest.

The report, by Greenpeace investigators, details how the world's largest
private company, the $70bn (40bn) a year US agribusiness giant
Cargill, has built a port and 13 soya storage works in the Amazon
region. It provides farmers with seeds and agrochemicals to grow
hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beans a year, which the company then
exports to Liverpool and other European ports, mainly from Santarem, a
city on the Amazon river.

From Liverpool, much of the high protein soya, which is used as
animal feed, goes to Hereford-based Sun Valley, a wholly owned Cargill
subsidiary that rears chickens. The company provides McDonald's, the
largest fast food company in the world, with up to 50% of all the
chicken it serves in Britain and across Europe.

According to
Greenpeace, public and indigenous land is being seized by farmers using
bulldozers and even slave labour. Last year more than 25,000 sq
kilometres (10,000 sq miles) of Amazon forest were felled, largely for
soya farming.

Much of the damage, says the report, has followed
the entry of large multinational firms. Using satellite photography and
government records, Greenpeace claims it can pinpoint where the
destruction has taken place. For instance, only five years ago, much of
the land around Santarem was heavily forested. But when Cargill
announced plans to build two grain silos, a $20m terminal and its own
port, it had a momentous impact. Satellite images show that in two
years, deforestation rates doubled to 28,000 hectares (69,000 acres) a
year, land prices rocketed and soya took off as farmers from all over
Brazil arrived to take advantage of guaranteed markets.

Much of
that soya would have been trucked to Cargill's silos in Santarem, then
shipped to feed Sun Valley-reared chickens that would be sold to

The scale of Amazon deforestation due to soya
expansion driven in part by demand from UK and other European firms is
unprecedented, says Greenpeace. About 14,000 hectares in the
Santarem/Belterra areas now produce 34,000 tonnes of soya a year.
Further south, Mato Grosso has become Brazil's largest soya-producing
state and the one with the greatest deforestation.

Cargill, which dominates much of world trade in commodities, makes
no secret of actively aiding soya farmers in Amazon states. According
to Greenpeace, its help is fuelling the development of large soya farms
only made viable by the infrastructure the company has put in place.

are driving the destruction of the forest, says the report, including
Brazil's "soya king", Blairo Maggi, and other US grain companies. Mr
Maggi, the governor of Mato Grosso, is the world's largest individual
soya grower and has accessed $30m of World Bank loans to help finance
soya growing on 2m hectares, much of it former rainforest. Forest
destruction, says Greenpeace, has increased near all the soya
facilities, and soya is the most powerful destroyer of the Amazon.
"Most of the land in the Amazon is classed as 'empty' land and is
unprotected and vulnerable. Soya farmers target these areas. They use
loggers and bulldozers to clear and burn it in readiness of the crop."

It adds: "What makes the new assault even more damaging is that farmers
have access to cheap credit and a guaranteed market ... The rainforest
is largely beyond the law so the risks are low. Such activities in
effect constitute perverse financial subsidies for Europe's cheap meat."


Monday, April 10, 2006

animal ingredients list?

I feel it hurts our cause to expect people to memorize all these ingredients derived from animals. most of the population would not be able to remember and have the time or intuition to research/read all these ingredients. only a few animals die every year from miniscule ingredients finding their way in products. however, if veganism is seen as easily just avoiding meat / dairy /eggs ONLY - many more people will become vegan and save a LOT OF LIVES. I'd rather save ten thousands lives rather than one.

so we have a choice - spread our message to the general population that meat, eggs, and dairy should be avoided as much as possible - and if you can, all the time... or spread the message that everyone should be 100% vegan no compromise and memrize an ingredients list and not consume any of these products at all or else your 'not doing good enough'. it's obvious which one saves more lives.

if you don't want to consume any of those products, fine by me. neither do i usually. however, realize that you will never reach personal perfection because lots of stuff you use have animal products in them or contribute to animal suffeing: rubber tires on cars/buses have animal products in them, as does the blacktop on the road. also if you use a car or support public transportation - many animals die from being hit by cars. animal fat is used in the glue to bind books, to the paper you use (which cuts down trees animals live in), etc.....

...but compared to the scale of factory farming and how many billions die from that - it is very insignificant and hurts our cause. are we to expect people never to use paper, to walk everywhere rather than use cars, or to kill themselves so they don't contribute to suffering? to we actually think some warped conspiracy that less animals will be killed if we all live like hermits? - or - if we carry around/post ingredients lists expecting people to memorize hundreds of animal ingredients?

we should spend our time educating the public on factory farming and giving them resources for cruelty-free eating and let them decide on their own time, at their own pace, how slow or fast of a step towards a diet with less or no meat/dairy/eggs. we can do this by paying for videos to air on public access, or by distributing literature about factory farming to those interested, open-minded, and young enough to make a significant change. outreach to young college-students is probably the best route because not only are they the least restricted demographic to lifestyle-change-barriers, but the changes the permanent changes that are made will be long-lasting and they will be around long enough and have much more to experience in their lives...enabling them to spread the message to their peers. outreach to 40 year olds or 60 years olds saves less lives because they will be dead in a few decades. outreach to 20 year old college students on factory farming and giving them info on steps to exploring meatless meals and faux meat alternatives is the best course to the massive long-term task of animal liberation from factory farms. vegan outreach provides the best (tested and proven) outreach materials the world has to offer, and will provide them to you for free to distribute as long as you give them out one-on-one to college students on a campus near you - to those interested. The adopt a college program has turned tens of thousands of students vegetarian - sparing millions of animals a lifetime of suffering. to sign up/ read more see: Pangea, vegan essentials, and some other great sites are giving away gift certificates for the top 12 leafletters (by number of booklets handed out) for the spring 2006 college season.

Vegan Outreach Numbers...
August 1, 2003 - April 6, 2006

Schools Leafleted 477
Brochures Distributed 590,277
New Vegetarians* 14,757
Mammals and Birds Now Spared a Life of Suffering per Year* 516,492
Mammals and Birds Now Spared a Life of Suffering Over 50 Years* 25,824,619

*Theoretical (calculations)

Sign Up Today!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Future of Food - Watch Online

Watch Online (for free) the film: "The Future of Food"
Award winning film about the history, problems, and solutions to biotechnolization of food, monoculture systems that threaten sustainability, world hunger, agrochemicals, and Genetically-Modified food:

Click here to play The Future of Food

One hour and a half long... costs $25 - YOURS FREE ONLINE. No need to download - plays automatically.

Here is another hour long video just about genetically modified food

"We used to be a nation of farmers, but now it's less than two percent of the population in the United States. So a lot of us don't know a lot about what it takes to grow food."

- Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farms

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Animal tests are unreliable indicators of drug safety

Animal tests are unreliable indicators of drug safety

Two major pharmaceutical companies have made headlines this week for major catastrophies involving drugs which had been predicted to be safe and even beneficial to humans in animal tests.

American pharmaceutical company Merck has lost in a case brought by two co-plaintiffs who alleged that the company failed to warn users of its 'breakthrough' pain-killer Vioxx of the drug's dangerous heart-related side-effects.

A New Jersey jury awarded a 77-year-old man $4.5m in compensation after it found that Vioxx had substantially contributed to the heart attack suffered by John McDarby. According to news sources, Merck has also been found to have "misrepresented and concealed" the major risks when marketing the drug to doctors.

The decision is of particular significance because, while past cases involved patients who had used Vioxx for a short-term period, this was the first case involving patients who were long-term users. It may be an indicator of how future cases, of which there are a total of about 9650 pending, will play out in courts across the United States.

Merck voluntarily pulled the $2.5 billion a year drug from the market in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke among people who used it for at least 18 months.

In a separate and pending lawsuit filed in July 2005 by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, or PCRM, Merck is accused of relying on animal studies as the basis for claims that the drug was safe, despite clinical tests such as the "Vigor" study ordered by the Food and Drug Administration on humans showing contrary results.

The lawsuit contends that Merck was aware of the limitations of animal testing, which are often inconsistent, species-dependent, and not useful in predicting drug safety or efficacy in humans. In studies involving rodents, at least nine of 11 mice and rat studies showed Vioxx to be beneficial for animal hearts; evidence of which was later used to market the drug as potentially beneficial for human hearts. The suit also states that Merck knew of more effective safety assessment methods, such as postmarket surveillance of patient reactions, in vitro tests using human cells and tissues, and computer modeling, but failed to employ these methods.

Merck endangered public health by relying on inapplicable animal tests rather than relevant and available human data, said Dan Kinburn, PCRM associate general counsel.

And while Merck begins its long journey through the courts, German pharmaceutical company TeGenero, maker of the experimental drug TGN1412, is still trying to find what went wrong in its clinical trial of the drug which left six men seriously ill in a London hospital in March.

According to a report by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), "no human error in any part of the protocol" was found.

The MHRA further reported that the problem appeared to be due to an unprecedented biological reaction to the drug in humans which had not been seen previously on tests in animals.

"Our main conclusion is that there was a powerful pharmacological action of this drug in man which was not detectable in the pre-clinical studies done in the non-human primate species, even in far-higher doses," said MHRA Chief Executive Professor Kent Woods.

The drug had previously been tested on rabbits and monkeys, who were given several times the dose given to the six men.

TGN1412 was designed to treat chronic inflammatory conditions and leukaemia.

The MHRA, along with TeGenero reiterated that Even in hindsight, we can see no evidence of any such adverse reactions from the preclinical studies. The doses given to the humans in the trial were diluted by 500 times a substantially lower dose than that given to non-human primates, which didnt show ill effects.

In a press conference on 5th April, TeGenero said that this incident challenges all of us in the biotechnology industry to think again about the safest way to develop new medicines in the future.

As a result of these recent cases, Europeans for Medical Progress (EMP) is now calling for an independent and transparent scientific evaluation of the use of animals as surrogate humans in drug safety testing. Over 200 MPs support this call.

In a press release sent Thursday, 6th April, EMP stated, "New human-based safety tests before and during clinical trials (such as microdosing, human tissue tests, human DNA chips and microfluidics) could prevent many of these deaths - and could have averted these two recent calamities. Clearly, an assessment needs to be made of the relative performance of the various methods of safety testing available. Substantial evidence exists that animal tests are inadequate for the task but - incredibly - this has never been systematically investigated. The only responsible course of action is to evaluate animal testing scientifically, in an independent and transparent manner."

Says Science Director of Europeans for Medical Progress, Dr Jarrod Bailey, "Significant numbers of people die in clinical trials because there is often no prior information on safety in humans - only dubious reassurances of safety in animals, which we should know by now mean very little. A comparison of testing methods has to be an urgent priority: people's lives are at stake. The Government must act now to protect the public from another TGN1412 or Vioxx in future."

According to several recent reports, adverse reactions to prescription medicines (all tested for safety on animals) are now the fourth leading cause of death in the western world.

Stop Animal Testing!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

TIP to avoid GMO Food

"Look at Produce Stickers. Those little stickers on fruit and vegetables contain different PLU codes depending on whether the fruit was conventionally grown, organically grown or genetically modified. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Free Rainer Maria Show / New Album

a couple weeks ago i got to see a free mates of state show as they came out with a new album....and now rainer maria are doing the same thing! my two favorite bands going all out and coming to NY to cheer me up...

let me know if you are interested in riding in my lap on the way there...

i'll definately be going.

mates of state also playing bowery on april 12th
rainer maria also playing bowery on may 20th

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dangers of Accutane + Alternatives

I was on accutane, and i was very depressed and suicidal while on it. Please read about the dangers in accutane, the corruption in getting the drug approved through the FDA, and the mislabeling. Dermatologists, like all doctors, get pursuaded by "drug reps" (see,, and financially benefit from overprescribing certain drugs.

"Once on Accutane, BJ ccomplained of sore joints and headaches. The dermatologist said this was a normal side effect of the drug and to make sure BJ took his Accutane with a meal. BJ died on Mother's Day, May 14, 2000, at the age of 17, from a self inflicted gunshot wound.

I wondered why were we not told about the risk of depression or suicide? Why didn't BJ's patient pamphlet mention anything about possible depression, suicide ideation or suicide? More important, why weren't these warnings on BJ's Accutane package?"

-Congressman Bart Stupak

Opening Statement


"Safety Issues Surrounding Accutane" (

Accutane is Roche's number one selling product, with an estimated 5 million Americans using the acne medication since 1982.

Accutane has been linked to at least 240 suicides

The FDA concluded Roche had not acted in good faith when relating information regarding Accutane use in pregnant women. Roche knew about Accutane side effects while failing to fully disclose the dangers to the FDA, physicians, and patients.

Accutane causes severe birth defects and even fetal death and the FDA concluded Roche did not adequately communicate the dangers to women using Accutane.

Roche knew about the birth defects that could occur with Accutane and pregnant women years before ever getting the 1982 FDA approval. Despite this knowledge, the FDA and Roche SMART program aimed at preventing fetal death and birth defects in women using Accutane was not implemented until 2000. The SMART program was developed only after a 1998 FDA memo recommended "active consideration of removal of Accutane from the market."

Now Accutane is also linked to an increased occurrence of inflammatory bowel disease and lupus

Roche disregarded its internal doctor's recommendation that users of the drug are monitored for signs of depression and that a warning indicating this is added to the label because "such Accutane warnings could cost the firm sales or prompt lawsuits."

Roche's global head of drug safety, Martin Huber, testified in a pretrial deposition for a Florida case that the firm's internal analysis showed Accutane "probably caused" depression and other psychiatric illnesses in some patients, according to the court file summary of his deposition.

According to the summary of Zabrowski's deposition testimony, Schifferdecker wrote a report recommending changes in Accutane's U.S. label and core data sheet, the internal company document used by Roche to ensure consistency of the firm's products worldwide.

Legal summaries of depositions by Roche's global head of drug regulatory affairs, Daniel Zabrowski, as well as other Roche officials, show that a company doctor, Peter Schifferdecker, who studied the drug's links to depression at the Corporate headquarter is Switzerland in 1997, recommended Accutane's U.S. label warn users "should be supervised for signs of depression during therapy and, if necessary, referred for appropriate treatment."

Zabrowski testified Roche's marketing division was worried the monitoring warning on Accutane's U.S. label could hurt sales. Medical consultants in the marketing department revised Schifferdecker's report to remove the reference to monitoring, which was then sent to the FDA for approval

Currently, Roche is the target of about 70 lawsuits for allegations of adverse reactions because of Accutane. Plaintiffs claim Accutane adverse effects include suicides, depression, birth defects and gastrointestinal injuries.

Around 90 percent all Accutane patients are considered to have mild acne and should have been using an alternate treatment.

Roche was issued a warning letter after the FDA found the Accutane promotional advertisements to contain "false and misleading" information.

At the December 11, 2002 House Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee Hearing on Safety Issues Relating to Accutane, Congressman Peter Deutsch told Roche North American president and CEO, George Abercrombie that, "what you just said is not a truthful statement" when he claimed the company did try to make consumers aware that Accutane is specifically intended to treat severe acne.

Natural Accutane Alternatives

More Acne Alternatives

Or - use a search engine and find more natural cures on your own! Search engines exist for a reason people!