Bayer Settles More Than 2,900 Lawsuits

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Associated Press
01.26.2005, 05:54 AM

German drug maker Bayer AG said Wednesday it has now settled more than 2,900 suits related to its cholesterol-lowering drug Lipobay, or Baycol, paying more than US$1.1 billion in out-of-court deals.

Bayer pulled Lipobay, marketed as Baycol in the United States, in 2001 after it was linked to a rare muscle-wasting syndrome and about 100 patient deaths.

In a regular posting to its Web site, the Leverkusen-based company said it has now settled 2,933 cases and agreed to pay a total of US$1.113 billion without admitting liability. Some 6,359 cases are still pending.

In November the company said it had reached settlements in 2,895 cases and paid some US$1.1 billion in out-of-court deals.

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CNN.com International
January 26, 2005

(AP) -- Nine chlorine plants in the South and East pour at least eight tons of mercury into the environment each year -- a situation that demands federal action to force companies to convert to cleaner technology, activists said Wednesday.*

Environmentalists think the amount of mercury emitted by the plants may be even greater; the industry acknowledges that tons of the toxic metal are unaccounted for each year, though it does not believe that mercury is dumped into the environment.

Chlorine at the plants is made by pumping electrically charged salty water through a vat of mercury, a process devised more than 100 years ago. Environmentalists say these plants are a largely ignored and unchecked source of mercury pollution.

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Cause of depression remains a mystery

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TheNewsTribune.com
Section: Health
M. ALEXANDER OTTO
January 24th, 2005


So why do some people react so badly to anti-depressants that they kill themselves or someone else?

A genetic glitch in liver enzymes might make them poor metabolizers, so the drugs build up to toxic levels and derange their minds.

But if that’s true, it isn’t the whole picture. Sometimes anti-depressant-triggered suicides have normal blood levels.

In fact, despite all the talk of “chemical imbalances,” no one really knows how the drugs work.

That the brain can break down like a car and be fixed as easily is an idea so seductive in its simplicity that it’s hard to resist.

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Psychiatric medication and its dangers

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The News Tribune
M. ALEXANDER OTTO;


A fatal flaw

When anti-depressants hurt more than they help, even doctors might not recognize something is wrong. Here's what you need to know to prevent a tragedy.

If you or someone you care about takes anti-depressants, there’s something you need to know.


Although it’s very rare, drugs like Prozac, Paxil, Effexor and Zoloft can cause such horrific side effects that people have taken their own lives to escape, according to experts.

That “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor” anti-depressants and drugs like them can trigger suicide in children and adolescents is no longer controversial, and there is little doubt it can happen to adults, too. Labels were updated last year to warn of the association, and stronger warnings are coming soon.

But what has not been widely reported is how to recognize the side effects before it’s too late.

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The New York Times
January 25, 2005

By Andrew Pollack

In at least a temporary diversification away from genetically modified crops, Monsanto, the agribusiness company, agreed yesterday to pay about $1 billion to acquire Seminis, the world's largest producer of fruit and vegetable seeds.

Until now, Monsanto has focused on corn, soybeans and cotton seeds, and on using genetic engineering to produce crops that are resistant to herbicides and insects.

But executives said yesterday that Monsanto would develop new vegetable varieties using conventional breeding. They said the fruit and vegetable seed business could grow without biotechnology, based on a consumer movement toward healthier diets.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2005 9:55 AM
http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/0125-04.htm

WASHINGTON -- January 25 -- This morning the Greenpeace-ship Esperanza intercepted the bulk carrier 'Golden Lion' 140 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal. The Golden Lion is transporting 30.000 tons of genetically engineered soy from Argentina to France. Onboard the Esperanza are also leading representatives of the French farmers movement 'Confédération Paysanne' (part of Via Campesina) and the 'Les Faucheurs Volontaires d'OGM' activist collective.

"This GMO shipment should never have been sent to Europe, and we call on the French public to go to the port in Lorient on Friday to take part in a peaceful protest against GE soy entering the French food chain," says Arnaud Apoteker. "Millions of tons of GE soy are imported each year to feed cattle, hogs and poultry in Europe. This is a slap in face for all European citizens who have rejected GMOs in their food."

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Ferrite bead 'slashes mobile radiation'

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Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/health/4203077.stm
Published: 2005/01/25 08:27:20 GMT

Radiation from hands-free mobile phones can be reduced to virtually zero by a simple tiny magnetic bead which costs a few pence, a government adviser says.

Professor Lawrie Challis said clipping a ferrite bead on kits stops the radio waves travelling up the wire and into the head.

He called on the mobile phone industry to start using them "as standard".

The beads, which often measure less than 1cm in diameter, are commonly used to stop data interference in computers.

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EU BAN ON SUPPLEMENTS IS AS TRANSPARENT AS A BLACK BOX

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PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release 25 January 2005

EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE ADVOCATE GENERAL DESCRIBES EU FOOD SUPPLEMENTS DIRECTIVE VITAMIN AND MINERAL PROCEDURE “AS TRANSPARENT AS A BLACK BOX”

UK GOVERNMENT DECIDES NOT TO ATTEND COURT HEARING TO MAKE ITS OBJECTIONS TO THE CHALLENGE

The Alliance for Natural Health today presented its oral submission to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in its landmark case challenging the ban in the EU Food Supplements Directive on 75% of vitamin and mineral forms currently sold in the EU market. Unless listed on an approved so called “positive list” these nutrients will be banned throughout the EU from 1st August 2005.

Opposing oral submissions were made by the European Commission, the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and only one EU Member State, Greece.

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Public 'back alternative therapy'

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Complementary medicine is expected to become more popular
A majority of people believe complementary medicine is as valid as conventional treatment, a survey says.

The UK-based survey revealed 68% of 1,000 people questioned had faith in alternative therapies, such as herbal medicine and naturopathy.
One in four thought western medicine was the only way to treat health problems, the survey found.

It was commissioned by London's Diagnostic Clinic, which combines orthodox and complementary medicine.

People aged 35 to 44 of the 1,000 quizzed were the most likely to have faith in complementary medicine.

Complementary medicine covers a wide spectrum and there is not the evidence to support the use of some of it.  

Dr Jim Kennedy, of the Royal College of GPs

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Monsanto shifts to GMO seeds

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Los Angeles Times
January 25, 2005
By Jerry Hirsch, Times Staff Writer


As its pesticide unit declines, it plans to buy Seminis to boost seed business

Seeds are in; pesticides are out.

That's the mantra at agribusiness giant Monsanto Co., which said Monday that it planned to purchase Oxnard-based seed company Seminis Inc. for $1 billion.

Monsanto, the maker of Roundup weedkiller, has seen its pesticide and herbicide business decline with the rise of insect- and disease-resistant strains of crops. So it has been expanding into seeds, especially genetically modified varieties.

For its part, Seminis has focused on conventional plant breeding to develop new crop strains.

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