Folic Acid Trip

October 20th, 2009

You will, if you eat anything containing flour, soon be forced to eat folic acid.

Experts back folic acid in bread

Folic acid should be added to bread on a mandatory basis, the Food Standards Agency has advised government.

Basically HMG is saying a certain percentage of people, through choice or ignorance or any number of reasons, do not take folic acid as currently advocated by… er, HMG… and so the entire population must be force-fed folic acid to compensate.

Note that there will be no opt-out. Folic acid will be added to flour, not bread, meaning that even home bakers will be forced to swallow this.

Last month there were calls for all Scottish women to take folic acid – even those not planning a family – after 15 babies were born with spina bifida since the start of the year.

I sympathise with those families, but I will not have a bizarre form of collective guilt expunged by forcing me to eat something I do not wish to eat.

Cereal has long been fortified on a voluntary basis by manufacturers, but suggestions that bread must be supplemented by law have been rejected by those who argue it is tantamount to mass medication.

Not ‘tantamount to’, is mass medication. As is fluoride in water.

Concerns about the how the potential risks weigh up against the benefits have been expressed.

As well as suggestions of a link with colorectal cancer, studies have also shown it may speed up cognitive decline in elderly people with other B vitamin deficiencies.

SACN did look at these issues for a report in 2007, which ultimately recommended fortification. But following publication of that report it was also asked to analyse two more studies relating to bowel cancer.

The FSA said that since SACN’s advice on fortification has not changed significantly as a result, its own recommendation in favour remained the same.

There is good evidence to suggest a link between excess folate and increased incidence of various cancer (look up what happende in the US and Canada after folate madation).  Even if inconclusive, the doubt is enough to block mandatory addition. Or should be, were we living in The Real World.

Discussions planned

The government’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson is expected to discuss the issue with counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland having received the updated advice.

Sir Liam is known to be in favour of mandation.

Legislation would be necessary to introduce the measure, and it would also mean stricter controls on fortified foods like cereals to ensure people did not exceed recommended daily intakes.

How the hell is that going to work? Please, tell me? Will it be mandated that we all eat 2 slices of bread and 30g of cereal per day, and consume no foods containing natural folic acid? Will all folate supplements be withdrawn for risk of overdose? That, my friends, is one fucked up idea. In fact, so little thought, so little forward thinking at all has gone into this proposal that it does not even qualify as an ‘idea’. It is just the ramblings of madmen. Madmen who wish to mandate what you eat.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “We will now consider their recommendation for the introduction of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid alongside controls on voluntary fortification.”

There, a man-made analogue of something you can get better from real food will be present in everything from bread to cakes to fish and chips … anything containing flour.

Now we must ask the questions, why do they wish to do this and for whose benefit? The mandation of folic acid has been pushed several times in the last decade.

Delaying folic acid fortification of flour

Governments that do not ensure fortification are committing public health malpractice

The failure of European governments to mandate universal fortification of flour with folic acid has allowed a continuing epidemic of preventable human illness. It is ironic that the United Kingdom has not required fortification, as it was a randomised controlled trial from the United Kingdom that conclusively proved that supplementation with synthetic folic acid prevents about 75% of spina bifida and anencephaly---common and serious birth defects.1 This study provided the primary scientific basis for the United States, Canada, Chile, and other countries to require fortification.

This is an editorial from the British Medical Journal (one of the most important journals in the world) from 2002. It is a sick and twisted viewpoint, based on the opinion that ‘We Know Best’. It is belittling, patronising and enslaving. It demands that the populus kneel before it and take the medicine, and be thankful that we are being saved from our own stupidity. It makes me want to spit in the face of Godfrey P Oakley, author of this piece of sanctimonious shit and ‘folic acid ambassador‘.

In 2006 they tried again.

FOLIC ACID will be added to bread within a year to reduce the number of babies born with spina bifida and other defects in a U-turn by the Government’s food watchdog. The Food Standards Agency will recommend this week that the vitamin be added to all loaves and flour, The Times has learnt.

And in 2007 Sir Liam himself had second thoughts and blocked it, based on meaumeau’s rebuttal, no doubt.

Dr Sian Astley, from the Institute for Food Research and also quoted in todays BBQ article,  said at the time…

Dr Sian Astley from the institute said: “Fortifying UK flour with folic acid would reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (such as spina bifida).

“However, with doses of half the amount being proposed for fortification in the UK, the liver becomes saturated and unmetabolised folic acid floats around the blood stream.

“This can cause problems for people being treated for leukaemia and arthritis, women being treated for ectopic pregnancies, men with a family history of bowel cancer, people with blocked arteries being treated with a stent (an internal splint) and elderly people with poor vitamin B status.”

She said it also increased the likelihood of multiple births for women undergoing IVF treatment.

She does not appear to have changed her mind.

You can read the FSA letters and reports here.

So we are left with a scenario where around 100 neural tube birth defects per year (20% of total) may be eliminated, balanced against an unquantifiable increased risk of cancer for the entire population.  Best case, this is a 100:0 balance. Worst case, who knows?

So again, why do they wish to do this and for whose benefit?

Other than a mass exercise in control-freakery, I don’t know. Perhaps one mandation begets anotherBut it will be whole grain for me.

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