Archive for the ‘singapore’ Category

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Why is ST so anti-biomedical treatment for autism?

August 22, 2008

Why is The Strait Times waging a vociferous campaign against alternative therapies for autism – and singling out biomedical treatment?

On its own, an ST article questioning alternative and complementary therapies is nothing unusual. But three articles within a space of 10 days does seem (to use a word from one of the articles) “bizarre”.

Moreover, two of those article were written by the same journalist, Radha Basu, and both articles essentially said the same things. Is the ST so short of articles that it needs to repeat itself so soon? Even after another senior writer, Dr Andy Ho, has already affirmed several of the points initially raised?

At the same time, at least two letters to ST Forum commenting on those articles – one by me and one by my friend John Yeo, who is a biomedical practitioner with an MSc in Exercise and Nutrition – have been rejected for publication. Because, you know, “The Straits Times receives an average of 70 letters a day….”

If healthcare professionals who have been aggressively attacked are not given the right to respond, and present their case, who will be?

This “right of reply” is something that the PAP government makes a big issue about whenever it gets criticised by the foreign media. Yet our own media does not grant similar right of reply to our own citizens.

Something strange – bizarre – is going on. Let’s take a closer look at those articles.

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On 11 August, Radha Basu wrote an article titled Autism ‘cures’: helpful or harmful?

The article is peppered with emotive words. She describes chelation therapy as “bewildering” and quotes a US report that calls it “voodoo”.

The article goes on to highlight “reports of at least one botched-up chelation-related death in the US.” All this makes it sound as if chelation is highly dangerous, when, in fact, the single case of death was not due to chelation. Rather, it was due to the procedure being “botched up”.

The pertinent background, omitted from the ST report, is that in this instance, the doctor had administered the drug via direct injection when it should have been given via a drip, slowly over two to three hours.

Moreover, the drug used in this case was EDTA, which is rarely used in biomedical treatment. The most commonly used drug is DMSA, which is an oral / transdermal drug approved by the US FDA for treating acute lead poisoning.

DMSA has also been found to be effective for treating mercury and other heavy metal poisoning. And since it has been scientifically proven that many autistic children have higher levels of mercury in the body, using DMSA to remove mercury from autistic children is not unjustified.

But by discussing DMSA and then mentioning a case of death (indirectly) involving EDTA, Ms Basu made it seem as if all chelation is dangerous. This is irresponsible reporting. It is fear-mongering.

Ms Basu further describes two other biomedical treatments – hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and neurofeedback – as “bizarre”.

She fails to mention that HBOT has been medically used for decades and is offered by many hospitals around the world, including Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital. She also fails to mention that HBOT has been scientifically proven to be safe and effective for the treatment of various physical as well as neurological conditions.

Plus, she fails to mention that soft chamber HBOT (using mild pressure and without pure oxygen – the type used for autism treatment here) is approved by the FDA as a Class IIa medical device for home use in the US.

As for neurofeedback, it is but a modern, enhanced version of biofeedback. And biofeedback itself has been around since the 1950s and has also considerable scientific backing. In fact, biofeedback is endorsed by prestigious mainstream medical institutions including The Mayo Clinic.

It is indeed strange (bizarre) that Ms Basu should describe these two therapies as bizarre.

Throughout, Ms Basu asserts that the various alternative treatments for autism – including nutritional therapy, CFGF (casein free, gluten free) diet, HBOT, etc – are unscientific, ineffective and dangerous.

These assertions are simply NOT TRUE. A simple search on the medical database PubMed will throw up a good number of peer-reviewed and published scientific studies affirming both the safety and efficacy of the various treatments.

Ms Basu goes on to highlight the “high costs” of alternative treatment for autism, ignoring the fact that conventional autism therapy often costs even more money!

As for parents who said their children have benefited from alternative treatment, Ms Basu casts a strong doubt with her own comment, “For now, at least.”

Such a comment is utterly insensitive and offensive. If you were the mother interviewed, whose autistic child had shown improvements, how does it feel to have the journalist proclaim to over a million readers that the improvements are only “for now”?

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On August 16, ST followed up with a commentary by Dr Andy Ho, who is trained as a medical doctor, titled Autism: Desperately seeking a cure.

Except for calling alternative and biomedical practitioners “quacks”, Dr Ho was at least more factual and less emotive in his writing.

But he, too, resorts to scare mongering. For example, he cites the use of two drugs, Avandia and Actos, which he describes as “potentially deadly”. In reality, these drugs – in fact, drugs in general – are hardly ever used by alternative practitioners.

Dr Ho offers a simplistic – to the point of being unscientific – explanation as to why autistic kids sometimes get better after alternative treatment. He writes:

“Sometimes, fad therapies seem to work because autism, like many other disorders, displays a natural pattern: Symptoms get worse at times and diminish at others. When symptoms get really bad, parents hunt for magic cures; and when the symptoms abate naturally afterwards, the improvement is attributed to the new ‘cure’. Parents want to believe.”

Such an explanation totally ignores cases where symptoms had persisted for years and then subsided, or went away completely, following alternative treatment. It also ignores – and belittles – the scientific literature that support the effectiveness of such treatments.

Dr Ho’s comment is that parents “want to believe”.

My comment is that doctors and other sceptics like him “don’t want to believe”.

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Finally, on August 20, the ST published a second article by Radha Basu titled Saving people from peddlers of false hope. As mentioned earlier, the article essentially makes the same points as her earlier article, except that it no longer specifically mentions biomedical treatment.

She ends of by calling for penalties against alternative practitioners who make “false claims”.

What about journalists who make equally false claims about treatments being unscientific and ineffective, without checking out the research that is readily available?

Shouldn’t they, too, be penalised?

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Trans fats: All we need NOT know

March 18, 2007

My earlier report on the trans fat forum focused on some of the things that were said. But the things not said, perhaps, are more interesting. For they show what the Health Promotion Board does not think it is necessary for Singaporeans to know.

For example, Mr Lim Meng Khiam, the HPB dietician, mentioned that trans fats increase the level of ‘bad’ cholesterol and lower the level of ‘good’ cholesterol. This has been repeated ad nauseam. What’s new?

Mr Lim completely left out the various scientific studies that link trans fats to diabetes, obesity, cancer, infertility, low birth weight in babies, and so on.

He mentioned in passing that trans fats do occur naturally, in products like milk and beef. But, until the subject was again raised during questions and answers, he never mentioned the possibility that natural trans fat might actually be beneficial to health, as opposed to artificial trans fats that are definitely harmful. (In the end, Mr Lim said the scientific studies on natural trans fats were inconclusive.)

Saltwetfish expressed his disappointment during Q&A, for he had expected an update of the international trans fats scene – what other countries were doing either to ban trans fats or to legislate compulsory labelling. That entire topic was not discussed.

If anything, Mr Lim’s presentation focused more on the harm and dangers of saturated fats than on the subject of trans fats.

Yet here, too, there were serious omissions. Mr Lim spent considerable time painting an evil picture of saturated fats and, again if not for questions from the floor, totally disregarded the fact that saturated fats are, in fact, necessary and beneficial for health.

And when he did finally address the issue, he merely acknowledged that saturated fats were needed. There was zero elaboration on the many good things that saturated fats do for the body – maintain the integrity of cell walls, boost immunity, kill bacteria, help calcium absorption, promote hormone production, help the body to store and use beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, etc.

Yet Mr Lim’s talk was titled, Get your fats right. Is it right to merely highlight the one possible harm of saturated fats (that they raise ‘bad’ cholesterol) and ignore all the goodness

On the flip side, unsaturated fats were presented by Mr Lim as being totally good. He simplistically summarised his talk saying “Bad fats are the saturated and trans fats, good fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.”

The audience had to learn from the third speaker, Mr Wong Hong Mong, Deputy President of the Singapore Food Manufacturers Association, that unsaturated fats cause their fair share of health problems – because they are highly reactive and spoil easily.

Mr Wong further revealed that regular cooking oils also contain harmful trans fats that are produced during the process of refining and deodorisation. The level ranges from about 0.5 percent for palm oil, to as high as 4 percent for oils like Canola. In other words, polyunsaturated cooking oils are likely to contain higher levels of harmful trans fats!

If not for Mr Wong and for those who asked certain pertinent questions, forum attendees would have walked away with a very inadequate, very shallow – and totally wrong – understanding about fats. Overall, the forum was a dismal letdown.

Mr Lim did remind the audience to visit the HPB website “for more information”.

But is there more information? As of today (March 18) the HPB website still has only one article on the subject, where All about trans fats is summarised in just over 700 words (about the length of this article), a lot less if the many sub-headings were not counted.

One sub-heading asked: What does trans fat do to our body? The answer is given in two short sentences about the effects on cholesterol.

Is this ALL we need to know?

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If you wish to know more, much much more, about trans fats, visit my website, www.stop-trans-fat.com.

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Tartrazine, Aspartame and Royal Jelly?

March 18, 2007

Here is a HQ (health quotient) Quiz…

Which of the following does not belong with the rest?

  1. Tartrazine
  2. Aspartame
  3. Royal Jelly
  4. None of the above

If you know what they are, you would pick answer #3, Royal Jelly.

Tartrazine (a yellow colouring) and aspartame (a sweetener) are both synthetic substances, whereas royal jelly (the food that creates queen bees) is natural.

Tartrazine and aspartame are known to cause a wide range of adverse side effects, whereas royal jelly produces mainly beneficial health effects.

According to Singapore’s regulations on food labelling, however, the correct answer is #4, none of the above. All three substances belong together.

The law requires that all three have to be specifically declared on food labels — as opposed to other substances that might be generically declared as “food colouring”, “flavouring”, “preservatives” etc.

This was mentioned at the forum on trans fat. It is something that I find most puzzling?!?

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Tartrazine (also known as Yellow #5 or E102) is derived from coal tar. It appears to cause the most allergic and intolerance reactions of all food colouring classified as azo dyes.

Reactions can include anxiety, migraine, clinical depression, blurred vision, itching, rhinitis, urticaria, general weakness, heatwaves, palpitations, feeling of suffocation, pruritus, purple skin patches, and sleep disturbance. In rare cases, the symptoms of tartrazine sensitivity can be felt even at extremely small doses and can last up to 72 hours after exposure.

Tartrazine has also been linked to childhood developmental problems like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) and obsessive compulsive behaviour.

It is banned in Norway and previously banned in Germany and Austria as well, but the European Parliament has lifted the ban.

Despite the many adverse effects associated with Tartrazine it is found in an amazing range of common food items, including supposedly healthy foods like orange juice – and even in vitamin pills!

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Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, is likewise associated with a long list of adverse side effects.

Scientists have identified more than 90 medical conditions associated with aspartame, including epileptic seizures, memory loss, migraine, blurred vision and so on.

Aspartame is commonly recommended for people with diabetes. However, a leading US authority on diabetes, Dr H J Roberts, MD, informs that aspartame leads to:

  1. precipitation of clinical diabetes
  2. poorer diabetic control
  3. aggravation of diabetic complications such as retinopathy, cataracts, neuropathy and gastroparesis
  4. convulsions.

Another major group of people who take aspartame are the overweight and obese. They should take note that aspartame has been found to make people eat more! Research also suggests that when aspartame is taken with MSG, another common food additive, its negative effects tend to be enhanced.

Aspartame is, in fact, one of the most controversial food substances ever to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Click here to read more about aspartame, especially the politics behind it.

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Finally, royal jelly.

It is a natural food substance produced by bees. Among other things, researchers have found that royal jelly:

  • reduces lipid (fat) and cholesterol levels
  • destroys harmful bacteria but not friendly bacteria
  • has anti-inflammatory effects and wound-healing properties.
  • appears to have anti-cancer effects.

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So why is royal jelly lumped together with two other harmful and controversial synthetic substances?

Because royal jelly has also ever produced allergic reactions, especially among people with asthma (yet there are also studies that suggest royal jelly help people recover from asthma).

Specifically, there had been ONE DEATH associated with the use of royal jelly, sometime during the 1990s. And those in the industry say it was not a straight-forward case of a person taking royal jelly and then dropping dead.

There were other factors involved. One objectively worded medical report described it as “death secondary to royal jelly-induced asthma”, meaning royal jelly was not the primary cause of death.

Just one death, throughout a long history of incident-free royal jelly consumption dating back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And that was enough to get royal jelly black-listed, placed in the same category as other food substances that cause thousands and millions of adverse reactions.

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In sharp contrast, trans fats are associated with at least 30,000 deaths each year in the United States alone. That’s a conservative estimate. The actual figure could be as high as 150,000!

But, our health authorities have decided, no need to warn against trans fats.

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Trans fats: All “you need” to know

March 18, 2007

Singapore’s first public forum on trans fats, presented today (March 17) by the Health Promotion Board and Consumers’ Association, was titled “Trans fats: All you need to know”.

I highlight and emphasise the phrase “you need” because, it seems to me, the organisers have decided that we need to know just a little.

I thought a more appropriate theme for the forum should have been “Trans fats: All there is to know.”

But that wasn’t the case. Saltwetfish, who was seated next to me (and we met for the first time) at the forum, was expecting an update on the trans fat scene around the world. Nothing of that sort was presented.

Instead, the first two presentations were… yawn!… just the usual stuffs.

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The first speaker was Mr Lim Meng Thiam, a youngish dietician from the HPB. He simply repeated what his colleagues so far been saying ad nauseum in the MSM (main stream media):

  • trans fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol
  • saturated fats are also bad
  • WHO (World Health Organisation) says to limit trans fats to 2 grams per day
  • trans fats are not a big problem in Singapore
  • saturated fats are actually a bigger problem
  • polyunsaturated fats are good
  • choose soft margarine over hard margarine or butter…

Ah so! How very enlightening. And oh yes, if you wish to be enlightened further, don’t forget to visit the HPB website (where All about trans fats is summarised into just over 700 words.)

Sure! Let’s all visit the HPB website and give them millions of clicks, so that the website will be declared a huge success and the people there will feel justified to receive their salary increases and maybe even be rewarded with big fat bonuses.

Sorry if I sound overly negative. But I did not expect much from the presentation and got nothing out of it.

And pardom a bit of self-promotion here. If you truly, really, sincerely wish to know a lot more about trans fat, visit my website: www.stop-trans-fat.com.

——

Second speaker was Ms Diana Lee from the Food Control Division, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority. She was very matter of fact and she basically listed out all the things that must be found on a food label – the name and description of the product, ingredients, expiry date, nutrition information for products that make nutrition claims… and so on.

Another yawn!

But at least I did learn one or two things new from her, particularly the fact that there are three food additives that must be declared:

  1. Tartrazine, an artificial colouring that may also be declared as E102 or Yellow #5
  2. Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, as it contains phenylanaline – a substance that some people are allergic to
  3. Royal jelly, apparently also because some people are allergic to it

I will be commenting on this is another post. Watch this blog. (March 18 update: Blog posted, click here to read.)

——

The third speaker, Mr Wong Mong Hong, Deputy President, Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association, was surprisingly the most enlightening – even though I did not agree with everything that he said, at least he said quite a few things that were not often mentioned or not widely known.

I say surprisingly because I had expected him to do a sales pitch for the food industry, saying how wonderful food producers have been in trying to reduce trans fats.

But no. His was not a sales talk, but actually fairly educational.

First, he qualified himself by saying that whatever he says is based on medical science, and that medical science changes, depending on the state of current knowledge. “So don’t take it as the Bible,” he advised.

As an example, he said he grew up believing that saturated fats were bad and polyunsaturated oils were good. But in the course of his work – he had been involved in the edible oils industry for 36 years, if I heard it correctly – he realised that polyunsaturated oils also cause health problems – because they are highly reactive and spoil easily.

Ah! At least, here is something that might be new to people who all along had been depending on the HPB as their main source of information and enlightenment.

In fact, Mr Wong contradicted the dietician from the HPB, who very simplistically classified saturated fats as “bad” and polyunsaturated oils as “good”.

But… one must not contradict one’s host too much. And so Mr Wong concluded that “the worst thing” is neither saturated fat, nor trans fat, but the combination of saturated fat with trans fat and cholesterol – which he named as the “third devil”.

Sorry I fully disagree with this. To me, the real devils are the dieticians, nutritionists, doctors, health authorities and other so-called experts who accept, at face value, the idea that saturated fats and cholesterol are harmful, without looking deeper into the issue to discover that they are actually beneficial to health!

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The most significant revelation from Mr Wong, however, is this:

There is no hydrogenation plant in Singapore or Malaysia. The margarine / shortening made here and in Malaysia are not hydrogenated but mostly made by a different process called factorisation.

(Not totally clear what that involves, will confirm and report later. Also, must check brands like Planta margarine and see whether it says hydrogenated. Update: Oops! The process is called fractionation, not fractorisation.)

Another lesser known fact from Mr Wong:

Regular cooking oils like palm, canola, etc also contain trans fats that are formed during the process of refining and deodorisation. This is mentioned in Udo Erasmus’ book, Fats that kill Fats that heal and also in some of the ariticles by Mary Enig. But I don’t think many people know this.

However, Mr Wong also provided some figures. For palm oil, it is around 0.5 percent. For oils like canola, it is as high as 3 or 4 percent. The difference is due to the fact that palm oil is quite highly saturated (about 50 percent) and so there is not a lot of polyunsaturated oils to hydrogenate. In contrast, canola oil is highly polyunsaturated and so trans fats form more easily.

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Questions and Answers time after the three presentations were slightly more interesting. But some of the more pertinent questions (eg those relating to government policy on trans fat labelling) were not answered satisfactorily. More reports on that later.

Overall, I would rate the forum maybe 3/10… What’s your rating Saltwetfish and others present?

But here and there there were a few points of interest. Rather than put them all here in one long post, I will discuss them over the next few days.

Watch this blog.

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How to spend your last $100,000

March 17, 2007

A friend just had a relative pass away — after spending more than $100,000 on medical expenses, including injections that cost several thousand dollars per jab.

News of the passing reminded me about an article I wrote some years ago, when there was a debate in the press about Medisave. I cannot remember what exactly the debate was about, possibly about Medisave contributions by the sel-employed.

Anyway, my article was never published, so here it is. (The $30,500 figure mentioned in the article is, I believe, the Medisave account limit).

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How to spend your last $30,500?

If you are seriously ill and have a limited time to live, and you have $30,500 worth of savings, how would you like best to spend that money? Hands up those who like to spend it in a hospital. Anybody?

In the present debate about Medisave, there seems to be broad agreement that it is both necessary and desirable to set aside a large sum of money for medical expenses. One newspaper editorial states that arguing against the merits of Medisave “is a waste of time”.

At the risk of wasting both my time and yours, I ask that you reconsider this basic premise.

First, is it necessary?

Not if you accept the fact – and this is increasingly confirmed by medical research – that the majority of illnesses can be prevented.

If you take good care of your health, your arteries will not get clogged up, your liver, pancreas, kidneys and other organs will not break down and your immune system will conquer most bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells.

What if you don’t take care?

Well, if you have a heart attack or a stroke, there is good chance that you will die suddenly. So there is again no need for medical expenses.

If you develop diabetes, your Medisave fund won’t cover your daily jabs of insulin. The money will come in handy if you need to amputate your leg, but again, not after that when you need to engage a maid to take care of you.

Of course, there will be some people who might find their Medisave money useful, such as those who require heart bypass, stent insertion and similar surgery.

But hey! The same procedures can be done in Malaysia or Thailand for a fraction of the cost, even after factoring in travel expenses.

Using Medisave to have them done in Singapore then becomes like buying expensive items from a department store when those same items are on sale cheaply everywhere else. You do it only because you have a gift voucher that cannot be redeemed elsewhere.

But Medisave is not a “gift”. It’s your savings!

About the only significant group of people who might find Medisave “necessary” are those who spend the final months in and out of hospitals, fighting one medical battle after another.

If you belong to this group, you would do well to ask yourself – and your children, who might be using their Medisave money: Is this desirable?

One person who found a better way to use his money was the American journalist Norman Cousins, who was diagnosed with a so-called “incurable” illness.

Instead of feeling miserable in a hospital, he decided to check into a hotel. He felt better right away. The service and the food was far superior and there were no nurses waking him at night to ask him to take his medicines. Best of all, it costs less money.

To entertain himself, Cousins rented funny movies. This was in the 1960s, before video, VCD and DVD, when movies came as film and a projector. Cousins literally laughed himself to recovery, and became famous for writing about his experiences in Anatomy of an Illness.

Hugh Faulkner, author of Physician Heal Thyself, was a British medical doctor who was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in his mid-70s. Despite being a medical doctor, he sought alternative treatment through a macrobiotic diet.

He also drew up a list of things that he had always wanted – either to have or to do. He bought a computer and learnt to play a musical instrument. These contributed as much to his recovery as his change of diet. He led an active, healthy and fulfilling life for about another seven years, even though the original prognosis was just six to nine months.

Recovery is never guaranteed, of course. What is guaranteed is that you will feel much happier spending your final $30,500 on the things that you’ve always wanted, than on chemotherapy (or other medical treatment) that causes you to lose your hair, your appetite and your will to live.

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Hydroponics / aeroponics are “natural”. Period.

March 15, 2007

In any discussion / debate / argument, we may sometimes reach a point where we feel there is simply no point in pursuing the subject further, because the other person is either on a totally different wavelength, or being absolutely unreasonable.

I reached that point this morning (technically speaking, yesterday morning as it’s past midnight as I write this) when I read the following letter in the ST Forum:

Labelling of vegetables

I REFER to the letter, ‘Organic labelling for vegetables misleading’ (ST, March 12). The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority does not object to the use of the words ‘natural’ and ‘grown naturally’ to describe fresh fruit and vegetables produced using aeroponics or hydroponics, as these methods of farming adopt the same basic principles as conventional farming.

The methods of farm production are also not required by the Food Regulations to be labelled on prepacked fresh fruit and vegetables. However, fresh fruit and vegetables which are labelled as ‘organic’, ‘organically produced’ or words of similar meanings should meet the standards established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission for organically produced food.

Goh Shih Yong
Assistant Director
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority

 

The above was in reply to my letter published on Monday, about organic labelling of vegetables at the NTUC Fairprice Xtra hypermarket in Ang Mo Kio.

I was stunned and left speechless to read Mr Goh’s response. If our (highly paid) senior civil servants wish to assert that vegetables grown in water or grown suspended in air are “natural”, then I really don’t know what else to say.

Perhaps some of you who are less stunned and speechless than I would take the discussion to the next, higher or lower, level. Or maybe in a day or two, I might recover sufficiently to think of something non-expletive to say.

For now, let me share with you what I discovered this morning.

I went to www.dictionary.com and typed in “natural”. I was led to 22 results, of which the first had 38 meanings and definitions. The closest that comes to explaining how vegetables grown in air or water might possibly be considered natural was definition #34:

An idiot!

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Organic labelling at Fairprice still misleading

March 12, 2007

Some time back, I wrote about Fairprice Xtra hypermarket at Ang Mo Kio changing its misleading “Organic” signboard at its vegetables section to “Specialty Vegetables”.

I wrote then that Fairprice did the right thing to avoid misleading shoppers, but it seems that their staff still don’t know or don’t care about the difference between organic and non-organic, between natural and unnatural.

So I thought it was time to raise the issue in the press rather than just gently informing the staff. Below is my letter on the subject, published today in The Straits Times Forum:

WHEN FairPrice Xtra hypermarket opened in Ang Mo Kio, it had a big sign in the vegetable section that said ‘Organic’.

However, only about one-quarter of the fruit and vegetables there are organic. The rest include conventional vegetables, presumably grown with chemical fertilisers, as well as hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables grown in water and air respectively.

Twice I pointed out to staff that the sign was misleading, because hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables are grown in unnatural ways, using chemical solutions or sprays as fertilisers.

On my third visit, the sign had been changed to ‘Speciality Vegetables’.

I thought FairPrice had done the right thing, but closer examination revealed it had not. Beneath the sign were smaller labels classifying vegetables as ‘organic’, as well as ‘salad’, ‘mushrooms’ and ‘tomatoes’. Under the ‘organic’ section, there were still hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables.

Why not label hydroponic and aeroponic vegetables accordingly? Is it because they have no selling point, unlike ‘organic’?

Meanwhile, one brand of aeroponic vegetables, which is claimed to be air flown from Europe and packed in Singapore, is described as ‘grown naturally in air’.

Will the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) clarify whether food labelling laws allow aeroponic or hydroponic vegetables to be described as ‘natural’ or ‘grown naturally ‘?