Environment

Monsanto Demands World Health Organization Retract Report That Says Roundup Is Linked to Cancer – Anastasia Pantsios

May 21, 2015

Last week, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) released a report, compiled by a team of scientists, that said glyphosate—sold by Monsanto in the herbicide Roundup—was probably linked to cancer. This week, Monsanto is demanding the WHO retract the report, essentially repudiating years of research by multiple scientists. Monsanto is claiming the report was biased and that glyphosate products like Roundup are safe when the directions are followed. The company says that the WHO report contradicts regulatory findings, which can, of course, be influenced by politics and lobbying. So far, WHO has not responded. “We question the quality of the assessment,” Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president of global regulatory affairs, told Reuters. “The WHO has something to explain.” Miller claimed that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was provided by Monsanto with information on glyphosate’s safety, and that it ignored Monsanto’s input. That response indicates a level of panic on Monsanto’s part because the report could hit it where it hurts—its profits. Its Roundup, formulated to be used on GMO or “Roundup Ready” crops engineered to be resistant to it, is the most widely used herbicide in the world. Originally introduced in the early ’70s to control weeds, it took off when the planting of GMO crops skyrocketed in

Why President Obama’s Pollinator Strategy Won’t Solve Bee Crisis – Tiffany Finck-Haynes

May 21, 2015

Yesterday, the Obama administration released its long awaited National Pollinator Health Strategy, a requirement of a presidential memorandum released last June, which directed federal agencies to establish a Pollinator Health Task Force, develop a strategy to protect pollinators and charged the EPA with assessing the effects of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bees and other pollinators within 180 days. While it’s promising that the administration acknowledges the importance of protecting bees and other pollinators, the plan not only missed its 180 day release date, it also missed the mark in addressing one of the leading drivers of unsustainable bee losses—neonicotinoid insecticides. A strong and growing body of science is telling us that neonicotinoids (neonics), the fastest growing class of pesticides in history and now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world, are a key contributor to the bee crisis and something we can fix now. Last year, an international group of independent scientists released a meta analysis of 1,121 peer-reviewed studies which confirmed neonics aren’t just harming bees – they are harming entire ecosystems and organisms essential to food production, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms, reptiles, and birds, and they called for immediate regulatory action. The European Academies Science Advisory Councilfound there is more

5 Surprising Ways to Use Recycled ‘Garbage’ for a Better Organic Garden – Christine Sarich

May 21, 2015

Growing your own organic food is extremely gratifying, but adding recycling to the mix is like winning the lottery two days in a row. When you mix the self-sustaining practice of growing your own food with the environmentally supporting habit of recycling, you are helping the world two-fold, and you get some tasty offerings in the process. Here are 5 ways to incorporate recycling into your gardening habit: 1. If you don’t use a clothesline – don’t throw away the lint from your dryer, either. Save the lint in an air-tight container and till it into your garden to help the soil retain moisture. 2. Recycle the fine print. After you read the newspaper, or junk mail printed on newspaper, shred it and put it in your compost bin. 3. Re–use fruit and vegetable kitchen scraps. Though you can just throw your kitchen scraps straight into the compost pile, you can also put them through a food processor, and use them around tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, pumpkins and more to feed growing plants. Peppers really love this trick, and you can expect bumper crops for feeding your plants so well. 4. Don’t throw the water away after you boil or steam vegetables.

Bird Flu Is Slamming Factory Farms But Sparing Backyard Flocks. Why? – Tom Philpott

May 21, 2015

The Midwest’s ongoing avian flu crisis is wreaking havoc on the region’s large-scale egg and turkey farms. Last week alone, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed that the virus had turned up in more than 20 additional facilities in the region, condemning 4 million birds to euthanasia. Altogether, the H5N2 virus—”highly pathogenic” to birds, so far non-threatening to humans—has affected 168 sites and a jaw-dropping 36 million birds, the great bulk of them in Iowa and surrounding states. It’s the largest avian flu outbreak in US history—and it has already wiped out 40 percent of the egg-laying flock h Iowa, the number-one egg-producing state in the US, according to The New York Times. But it’s largely leaving backyard flocks unscathed. Why? According to Hon S. Ip, a virologist at the US Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center, it’s a genuine mystery. Backyard flocks typically roam outdoors, in ready contact with wild birds, which are thought to be the origin of the virus. Their commercial counterparts live in tight confinement under strict “biosecurity” protocols: birds are shielded from contact with the outdoors; workers change into special boots and coveralls—or even shower—before entering facilities, etc. Read

Breast Cancer and Nuclear Sites by – CHRIS BUSBY

May 21, 2015

Do nuclear sites cause increases in cancer in those living nearby? This is the question which has always been the key to stopping the development of nuclear energy. For if the answer is Yes, the laws would cut in; human rights would cut in. Check Mate. The nuclear industry and its supporters have always known this, just as the cigarette companies and the asbestos makers recognised their own specific nemesis. You can argue about the economics of nuclear till you are blue in the face, but they can always move the goalposts, global warming, future security of supply, special new safe thorium reactors and so forth. But killing people with your radioactive discharges: that’s it. The End. This week saw the publication in a peer-reviewed journal – Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine – of a study which I carried out in 2003 of breast cancer mortality 1995-2002 near Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex. This is the first of a series of nuclear site cancer studies my colleagues and I have carried out in the last 15 years and which I have now decided to publish in proper scientific journals. In the same journal I wrote an editorial article about the problems of

Bee Health Committee Chairman Praises Neonicotinoids, Denies Connection to Bee Deaths – Christine Sarich

May 21, 2015

Want proof that our representatives are likely taking handouts from Syngenta, Bayer, and other Big Ag makers of bee and butterfly killing neonicotinoids? Elected representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, who also happens to be the bee health committee chairman appointed to study pesticide and herbicide connections to colony collapse disorder, is singing the praises of neonicotinoids (neonics). Davis claims that the bee-killing neonics have nothing to do with the recent findings of numerous other scientific studies showing that the pesticide class is likely killing off pollinators. He says that it is the Varroa mite which is to blame, not Syngenta, Bayer, Dow, Monsanto and other toxic chemical makers. According to Rodney Davis, chairman of the biotechnology, horticulture and research committee: “[Neonics] are highly effective and have seen a very rapid adoption rate among producers because of the significant benefits they offer. It is frustrating that efforts to innovate and employ new, proven technologies to enhance our ability to produce food, feed and fiber are constantly under attack.” This ‘proven’ technology is not proven at all. Like many of the other claims about these biotech chemicals – later proven to be untrue – the claims that neonics are ‘safe’ are ridiculous. Neonicotinoids are absorbed

Huge spike in neurological diseases after Fukushima — 600% rise in disorders among evacuees — Similar abnormalities reported post-Chernobyl — Cases of heart disease, brain infarction also up

May 21, 2015

[Neuro-otology: Branch of clinical medicine which treats neurological disorders of the ear] Soma City [is] 44 km north of Fukushima Daiichi… almost all patients who require hospitalization for ear, nose, and throat (ENT) care were referred to our department… We thus investigated the influence of the disaster on internal ear diseases. Regarding the evacuation area, the total number of patients [in the ENT department]increased 4.64 times [364% in 1st year], 4.24 times [324% in 2nd year], and 4.54 times[354% in 3rd year] compared with the number before the disaster. New patients [with vertigo, Meniere’s disease, and acute low-tone sensorineural hearing loss] in Shinchi Town… increased by 64.3%, 114.3%, and 46.4% [in years 1, 2, and 3] respectively… In the case of Minami-Soma City, except the evacuation area… increased by 84.2%, 152.6%, and 142.1%, respectively… Regarding the evacuation area… the numbers of patients with vertigo, MD, or ALHL became 7 times [600% increase in 1st year], 5 times [400% increase in 2nd year], and 7 times [600% increase in 3rd year]. Although the causes for MD and ALHL are still unknown [the rise] might be due to increased tension and stress… As for the cases [of vertigo] we were unable to establish the neuro-otologic pathogeneses in… 72%  [and] there may have been cases ofpsychogenic dizziness… administration of an anti-vertigenous drug or advice to keep calm

‘The Bees Can’t Wait': White House Plan to Save Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts – Lauren McCauley

May 20, 2015

Faced with the growing crisis of declining bee populations, the White House on Tuesday released its strategy for improving pollinator health. Almost immediately, experts decried the plan, saying it “misses the mark” by refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming role that pesticides play in driving bee deaths. Under the strategy (pdf) put forth by the Pollinator Health Task Force, which falls under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal government aims to: Reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within 10 years, deemed “economically sustainable levels.” Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies and protect its annual North American migration. “Restore or enhance 7 million acres of land” of pollinator habitat over the next 5 years through Federal actions and public-private partnerships. To achieve these goals, the Task Force developed an action plan, which prioritizes the need to expand research on honeybees, native bees, butterflies and other pollinators, increase habitat acreage, increase outreach with other federal agencies, and expand public-private partnerships. Read

Exposure of US population to extreme heat could quadruple by mid-century

May 20, 2015

U.S. residents’ exposure to extreme heat could increase four- to six-fold by mid-century, due to both a warming climate and a population that’s growing especially fast in the hottest regions of the country, according to new research. The study, by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the City University of New York (CUNY), highlights the importance of considering societal changes when trying to determine future climate impacts. “Both population change and climate change matter,” said NCAR scientist Brian O’Neill, one of the study’s co-authors. “If you want to know how heat waves will affect health in the future, you have to consider both.” Extreme heat kills more people in the United States than any other weather-related event, and scientists generally expect the number of deadly heat waves to increase as the climate warms. The new study, published May 18 in the journal Nature Climate Change, finds that the overall exposure of Americans to these future heat waves would be vastly underestimated if the role of population changes were ignored. The total number of people exposed to extreme heat is expected to increase the most in cities across the country’s southern reaches, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma

5 Signs the California Drought Could Get Worse – Anastasia Pantsios

May 20, 2015

California is entering its fourth year of drought, with high temperatures, water shortages and increased wildfires. The state has taken some steps to address the impacts of that, includingaddressing greenhouse gas emissions and rationing its diminishing water supply. But there are signs that the impacts of drought on the state could get even worse. California’s drought could get much worse if climate change isn’t addressed.. Photo credit: Shutterstock 1. A new study shows that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates, some parts of Los Angeles area could be experiencing temperatures over 95 degrees for periods as long as two to three months by the end of the century, up from about 12 days now. Researchers at UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences found that downtown Los Angeles could see many many as 54 such days, up from an average of four, while desert areas could see many more. And in the surrounding mountainous areas, days with temperatures below freezing could be cut in half. 2. Fewer freezing days in mountainous areas will certainly impact the snow pack which iscurrently at record lows. Its April assessment set a record for the lowest level in the state’s history, triggering Gov. Jerry Brown’s order that residents and governments cut
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