Vegemite and the US FDA

There’s been a fair bit of discussion around the web about the US FDA banning the import of Vegemite (( Alec Muffett – US govt bans Vegemite )) (( Andrew Pollock – Egad. They’ve banned Vegemite! )) (( BoingBoing – US govt bans Vegemite )) (( – US bans Vegemite )).

Well I went digging around because this sounded a little too odd and because the only source was a tiny news story that gave no details. Wikipedia’s Vegemite entry mentions the ban but is equivocal about the veracity of the reports and if you check the history and the discussion page there’s quite a debate about whether or not its real.

So I went to the horses mouth – I left a feedback message on the Vegemite website asking about whether this was real or not and (to my suprise) got a rapid response from Kraft Foods, which I’m waiting to see if they’ll give me permission to quote.

The summary is that the news story is pretty much accurate, if a little old, Kraft Foods haven’t been exporting Vegemite to the US for 12 months now because of the US FDA’s regulations on what foods are allowed to have folate fortification.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The BBC is reporting that the text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has been adopted by the UN.

Those countries that sign up to it will have to enact laws and other measures to improve disability rights and also agree to get rid of legislation, customs and practices that discriminate against disabled people.

The US has abstained from the treaty, claiming it has no need to sign up because they already have such legislation.

SBS: Insight: Understanding Autism

Well tonight the SBS Insight program “Understanding Autism” was on tonight, and Donna and myself were on talking about how we live with Donna’s autism.

One question I didn’t get to ask was going to be this:

Why, if we hear that people with autism react so very differently to different treatments with one helping one child and then for another child it has no effect (or makes things worse), do we continue to assume that there is just one thing called autism ?

Some children improve on gluten free diets, some don’t. Some improve on cassein free diets, some don’t. Some respond well to ABA, some become phobic because of it. Some are intolerant to salycliates, some have no problem with them. Etc, etc, etc..

To me, as a physicist, it makes sense when you change different variables on the same thing and it reacts differently then it usually is not the same thing!

So, to me, it makes good sense that there are multiple underlying issues (multiple autisms) that are causing symptoms that look similar.

A final plug – Donna mentioned the website we built almost a year ago now for people on the spectrum to advertise their employment skills to the world – it is called – go visit and hire someone with autism!

RIP Harriet the Tortoise, 175 years old

The oldest known living animal, 175 year old Harriet the Tortoise has died of a heart attack following a short illness at Australia Zoo in Queensland.

Harriet the Tortoise in 2002

Whilst it was long thought that Harriet was collected by Charles Darwin on his visit to the Galapagos Islands, genetic testing has shown that although she was born prior to his visit she actually came from a population that lived on an island that Darwin didn’t visit.

Chronic Fatigue Given as Official Cause of Death for First Time

New Scientist is reporting that CFS has been recorded as cause of death in a coroners inquest in the UK.

On Tuesday, coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley of Brighton and Hove Coroners Court, UK, recorded the cause of death of a 32-year-old woman as acute aneuric renal failure (failure to produce urine) due to dehydration as a result of CFS. The deceased woman, Sophia Mirza, had suffered from CFS for six years.

Leon Brooks is back!

Well well, less than 2 months ago I wrote:

Leon, I hope you make a speedy and thorough recovery. Get well soon.

Well, check this out, here’s Leon’s first blog post since the accident! Leon – you are amazing!

My brain is now essentially OK — modulo some bits of Short Term Memory killled by the total loser’s antics — and the body is steadily rebuilding, so I do have a viable future as this develops.

The most disturbing part of it is that the subtext of his post implies that the “accident” was anything but – he writes:

I truly have ZERO appreciation for a selfish waste of space and oxygen who hurts people for the hell of it, including that it had already hurt several others before applying it’s stupid malice to me.

Sometimes I despair for humanity, but then people like Leon come along and give me some hope. Leon – it is so good to see you back in the virtual world again – keep fighting!