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Archives - August 2001

August 31, 2001

"Dairy Industry Tries to Scare the Fizz Out of Soda Sales" - "The milk industry is really steamed. A new scientific study debunked a major theme of the dairy industry's scare campaign against soft drinks. The study reported that carbonated beverages don't cause calcium loss that can weaken the bones of people who consume soft drinks." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Veterans fear Gulf illness symptoms" - "Nearly one in five veterans believe they have Gulf War syndrome, research has found. A team from the Gulf War Research Unit at King's College London sent questionnaires to a large random sample of British service personnel who served in the 1991 Gulf War. Of 2,961 respondents, 17% believed they had Gulf War syndrome." (BBC Online) | Prevalence of Gulf war veterans who believe they have Gulf war syndrome: questionnaire study BMJ Volume 323, pp 473-6 (BMJ release) | Full Text: Prevalence of Gulf war veterans who believe they have Gulf war syndrome: questionnaire study (BMJ)

Numbers, numbers, numbers... the cited 17.3% of respondents (69.7% of those solicited) actually equates to 12% (fewer than 1:8 of those solicited) who claim to have some form of health problem (and very probably do but still represent a remarkably healthy subpopulation) and who associate it with service during the Gulf war (2.5 times as many couldn't be bothered with the survey at all).

The strongest indicator of likelihood of self-reported GWS is association with others who believe they have this apparently nonexistent syndrome (object lesson if this applies to you, get away from conspiracy theorists and other sad sacks, they're making you ill, or at least making you believe that you are). Interestingly, similar results are apparent with "support groups," "trauma counselling" and the whole spectrum of introspective "misery clubs." This suggests two things: firstly, that almost one-eighth of the population are sufficiently gullible that their health status can be reduced by ambulance-chasing lawyers (among others) fostering scares for profit and; secondly, that termination of all the airy-fairy "support services" (also known as "misery clubs") for special interest groups would not only significantly reduce primary health care costs but actually reduce (perceived) ill health in the general population - I'm certain there's plenty of mileage for study grants (and hate mail - send here) in that statement.

The bottom line for those who think they suffer from "Gulf War Syndrome" is, however, that there is absolutely no physiological support for the hypothesis that the health of those who served in the Gulf region differs in any way from those who did not. The associative reasoning of "I am not well and I served in the Gulf, therefore Gulf service caused my illness" is no more valid than "I heard the owl hoot and it snowed, therefore, owls cause snowfall." You can view your glass as being half-full or half-empty - it's up to you. Life's a lot better if you're not wallowing in self-pity.

Another symptom of ridiculous developed world chemophobia? "Fears grow as mumps cases rise" - "Doctors have warned parents to immunise their children after a dramatic rise in the number of mumps cases. Public health experts are blaming the upsurge on the numbers of youngsters missing out on vaccination boosters." (BBC Online) | Fatal disease fears as MMR uptake falls (Telegraph)

"Two apples a day fights hardening arteries" - "TOKYO: It is not as snappy a saying as "an apple a day keeps the doctor away", but eating around two apples a day reduces the blood content of neutral fat, one of the root causes for hardening of the arteries, Japanese researchers said on Thursday. "Eating roughly 400 grams of apples clearly lowers neutral fat in blood," said Keiichi Tanaka, a researcher at the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science in Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture about 50 km north of Tokyo." (Times of India)

Neutral fat? As in 'Park' fat; 'Reverse' fat; 'Neutral' fat; Drive... ?

Non-inherited cancers might not be inherited [!] "Siblings not at higher cancer risk" - "Children whose brothers and sisters have common types of cancer are not at an increased risk themselves, say scientists.

When all cancers were included, brothers and sisters of sick children were two to three times more likely to have cancer than the general population. But when cancers that are known to be inherited were excluded, they faced no increased risk." (BBC Online)

"Cancer-linked gas additive may be spreading" - "CHICAGO - The gasoline additive MTBE, a carcinogen which has been blamed for contaminating ground water, is turning up in fuel supplies in states where it is not required, a researcher said Thursday. Reynaldo D. Barreto, associate professor of chemistry at Purdue University North Central, said that means the entire country is potentially at risk of pollution." (AP) | Pipelines, storage containers may spread MTBE throughout Midwest (ACS release)

Hmm... "Battle Against Noise" - "In a natural soundscape, manmade noise can be harmfully disruptive. For example, one community of frogs in a California lake is being affected because they can't communicate over the unnatural sounds, and then in turn, protect themselves. "The reason that frogs all chorus together is because no predator can get a bead on anyone," says Krause. But when a jet plane flew overhead, the frog's unified chorus was broken. Krause says he then witnessed predators homing in on individual frogs. "Great horned owls flew in and got frogs and coyotes got frogs," says Krause. The lesson is clear, he says. Noise pollution can affect the very survival of a species." (ABCNews.com)

Book review: "The Greens have got it wrong" - "The extreme greens have been so wrong for so long that you would think somebody might have noticed. One American, Julian Simon, did try to point this out in a series of books, but nobody wanted to listen. The temptation of indulging in environmental guilt was too strong; repeating its message was almost reassuring: the planet is in ever greater pain and it is all our fault.

Bjørn Lomborg, a Danish statistics professor, came across Simon's argument and set out to prove it wrong. Instead he ended up proving Simon right in almost every respect. Four years later he has put his conclusions in a remarkable book, probably the most important book on the environment ever written." (Matt Ridley, Books Online)

"Big Shot Interview" - "Bjorn Lomborg isn't one to abandon his politics just because he strays from the established line on the environment. The Danish statistics professor would rather solve the pressing problems of the world effectively. Tech Central Station Host James K. Glassman recently spoke with Lomborg about how his views have evolved into a new book entitled, "The Skeptical Environmentalist." The one-time Greenpeace member talks about sorting environmental scares from real problems, and using the developed world's talents and resources to aid undeveloped countries. "Since global warming is primarily about helping the Third World," he said, "we have to ask ourselves is this really the best way to help the Third World -- to spend an enormous amount of money to just postpone warming for six years?" Lomborg, instead, looks to safe drinking water and sanitation as immediate solutions achievable at a fraction of the Kyoto treaty's cost. "The Skeptical Environmentalist" will appear in U.S. bookstores in early October." (TechCentralStation)

"Kill the Dim-Bulb Federal Appliance Rules" - "The clock on your microwave oven apparently is consuming far too much energy, as is your TV remote and stereo -- at least according to federal lawmakers intent on forcing appliance makers to undertake a costly redesign of thousands of products. Little noticed amid all the hoopla on Capitol Hill over attempts to impose tighter automotive fuel economy regulations and possible Arctic oil drilling was the House's recent approval of another energy conservation measure. It would actually allow the federal government to regulate the amount of power required by an alarm clock, answering machine, baby monitor, coffee maker, doorbell, lawn mower, toaster and VCR -- to name just a few of the household appliances subject to the proposed new rules." (Detroit News editorial)

"U.S. Wildlife Finds Safe Haven on Dangerous Cold War-era Weapons Sites" - "One unintended benefit of the race to produce weapons of mass destruction has been the protection of huge islands of wildlife habitat. With the arms race largely over, these sites, for all their ghastly contaminants, are increasingly being recognized as key refuges for wildlife largely unaffected by the nuclear and chemical pollution." (USA Today)

"Desert Dust Kills Florida Fish" - "New research links huge African dust clouds with the "red tides" that kill millions of fish along the Florida coast each year." (NASA)

"UN Forum in Rio to Set Up 'Environmental' Market" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Business executives, government officials and environmentalists from all over the world converged on Rio de Janeiro on Thursday under U.N. auspices to discuss rules for a new ``environmental market'' to fight global warming. They hope the business potential of the market, with an expected turnover of $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the next 15 years or so, will tempt big U.S. companies to support the plan." (Reuters)

As near-magical as free markets are, even they can't "fix" what ain't broke.

"UK floods last year worst since 1947, government says" - "LONDON - Floods that inundated English towns and the countryside last year were the worst since 1947 but cannot directly be linked to climate change, a government report said this week." (Reuters)

See! It's always anthropogenic (but this isn't being blamed on "global warming") "Rain-making link to killer floods" - "Thirty five deaths in the infamous Lynmouth flood disaster came only days after RAF rainmaking experiments over southern England, it has emerged. Ninety million tons of water swept down the narrow valley into Lynmouth on 15 August, 1952, destroying whole buildings. Now a BBC investigation has confirmed that secret experiments were causing heavy rainfall." (BBC Online)

Gee, why can't we make rain now? If this was "possible" 5 decades ago surely we could take care of minor inconveniences like droughts now. Or maybe recent floods were caused by attempts to recreate these experiments? Oops! My mistake - it was aboriginal rainmaking ceremonies being transmitted over the satellite TV network (received in the wrong place eh?).

"Climate, not CO2, may drive make-up of plant communities" - "Rising carbon dioxide levels tied to global warming may not directly determine the composition of plant communities. Localized climate shifts appear to play a larger role, according to a Brown-led research team’s report in this week’s Science." (Brown University News Service) | Climate plays bigger role than CO2 in make-up of plant communities (University of Florida release)

"Study shows antioxidants play vital role in protecting skin" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Sun-worshippers beware: Most sunscreen products offer inadequate protection against the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

But there is hope, says a University of Illinois researcher who developed a technique to peer into the skin and study how it is affected by ultraviolet radiation. The addition of antioxidants such as vitamins E or C can help prevent skin cancer and keep skin firm and young looking. “Ultraviolet radiation is known to cause several forms of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell cancer and deadly melanoma,” said Kerry Hanson, a postdoctoral research scientist in the UI’s Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics. “But many important questions remain, such as in which layers of the skin, and in which parts of skin cells, the initial damage occurs.” (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"New sunscreen may reverse DNA damage" - "FREEPORT, NY - There may soon be some help for those who forget their sunscreen and get a burn. Researchers in the U.S. are set to test a cream that may reverse DNA damage caused by the sun's rays." (CBC)

"New GM tomatoes 'offer health boost'" - "German scientists have produced a "safer" genetically modified tomato, which they believe could lead to a range of fruits and vegetables that give a health boost to anyone who eats them. The tomato plant has been engineered in a way that prevents its new genes from passing to other crops - a major worry for organic farmers and conservation groups. New laboratory techniques also mean much higher levels of a desired health-giving protein appear in the edible tissues of the plant - the bright red fruits themselves." (BBC Online)

"When the Press Laughs At You" - "In theory, the decision by some anti-globalization protesters to stage a classic Washington press conference Tuesday was a good idea. Incensed that media coverage of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings scheduled for late September have focused on the potentially violent protests, more moderate anti-globalization forces decided it was time to talk policy. Organizers from the Mobilization for Global Justice donned ties instead of tie-dyes. They even reserved a room at the National Press Club. Despite their best efforts, however, things got ugly in a hurry. Ornery reporters repeatedly laughed at speakers during an extended Q&A, while legitimate concerns over international "development policies" once again took a back seat." (Sam MacDonald, Reason)

"Comment: `Bt' Means Big Trouble for Nation's Crops" - "The Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing the time-limited registration of all genetically engineered crops designed to produce their own insecticides. The decision on re-registration, expected in September, will have profound consequences for farmers, human health, and the environment.

Insecticide-producing plants, also known as Bt crops, are engineered to produce a toxin from the soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, in every cell. Proponents of genetic engineering claim this will reduce the currently widespread application of chemical pesticides, thus yielding an environmental boon. Their reasoning, unfortunately, contains several flaws." (Richard Caplan, New York Times Syndicate)

Oddly, this does not give Caplan's full title, although his seriously mistaken letter of August 17 does: RICHARD CAPLAN, Environmental Advocate, U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

"Philippines Mulls Ban On Tests, Entry Of Transgenic Crops" - "MANILA -- The Philippines may soon prohibit all field tests of genetically-modified crops and ban the commercialization and entry of all such crops and food products containing them. In a news conference Thursday, House Representative Satur Ocampo said he will soon be filing a bill that will effectively rid the Philippines of any genetically-modified organism or food product containing GMO. "Bayan Muna (Ocampo's party) is calling for an immediate halt to all field-testing of genetically modified crops, including Bt corn, because of the hazards they pose to human health, the environment and agriculture," Ocampo said. He added that "communities and farms near test sites face real danger of contamination produced by the bacterium Baccikus Thuringiensis from which Bt corn is derived." (Dow Jones Newswires)

Oh... this means all those organic crops treated with "natural" Bt sprays are really dangerous then?

"800 Philippine Protesters Uproot Transgenic Corn" - "MALTANA, Mindanao, Philippines, August 29, 2001 - About 800 farmers, church members, students and other citizens stormed Monsanto's experimental field in the southern Philippines this morning, uprooting all genetically engineered Bt-corn plants." (ENS)

"French growers urge justice in GM crop sackings" - "PARIS, Aug 30 - The activists who are tearing up the French countryside in a bid to rid it of genetically modified crop tests should be brought to justice, the country's maize growers' group AGPM said on Thursday.

"The escalation of violence being carried out with impunity against experimental fields duly authorised and regulated by the authorities is unacceptable. It is intolerable to let a band of irresponsible activists make the law," AGPM said in a statement.

"AGPM solemnly demands that proceedings be brought against the authors (of the string of crop sackings) for the heavy damages suffered by the industry and the maize growers who have been attacked," it added." (Reuters)

"Minister wants WA a GM-free zone" - "The Western Australian Agriculture Minister says he would prefer the state to be free of genetically-modified crops. The bill covering gm crops is currently being debated in State Parliament but Minister Kim Chance says his personal preference is for a gm-free WA. But he says amongst the options being considered is a plan to divide the state in half, keeping gm crops separate from non-gm varieties." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Canadians have little taste for GM food" - "According to the results of an Ipsos-Reid/Globe and Mail/CTV poll released Thursday, Mr. Montsion is among a majority: 63 per cent of Canadians surveyed recently said they would be less likely to buy a food product that is genetically modified or contains genetically modified ingredients." (Globe and Mail)

"Canadian Farm Harvests Second Batch of GM Potatoes" - "For the second year in a row, genetically engineered sweet corn and potatoes are being offered alongside conventional varieties, to customers at Birkbank Farms in Hillsburgh, Ont. The crops are part of a continuing farm-to-fork study with the University of Guelph that began in June 2000. The project compares different pest management technologies and consumer reaction." (AgWeb.com)

"Thailand Goes Down Slippery Path of GM Labelling" - "BANGKOK, Aug 29, 2001 -- As it moves toward labelling food products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Thailand is grappling with the question of whether or not there should be a 5 percent threshhold for disclosure purposes." (Inter Press Service via COMTEX)

"GM Food Labelling Guides Launched" - "The growing commercial importance of genetically modified (GM) foods has been recognised with the launch of a new guide aimed at improving the food retailing industry's understanding of GM labelling. The Australia New Zealand Food Authority's (ANZFA) publication GM Food Labelling Guide has been developed in consultation with government and food industry representatives on both sides of the Tasman to help manufacturers and retailers interpret the Food Standards Code, which will come into effect in both Australia and New Zealand in December." (National Capital News)

August 30, 2001

"Gun Laws Effective in Deterring Criminals, Report Finds" - "WASHINGTON -- Laws requiring the licensing and registration of firearms make it much tougher for criminals to get guns and often force them to go out of state to secure weapons, according to a federally funded study that could fuel a gun control debate raging in Sacramento." (LA Times)

"Virologist downplays West Nile" - "TORONTO -- Canadians should be more concerned about dying from a seasonal flu virus or hepatitis than the West Nile virus that is striking fear in urban Ontario, one of the country's leading virologists says.

"Other viral infections are much more serious than West Nile," said Dr. Yong Kang, a professor who studies viruses, microbiology and immunology at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont.

Indeed, Kang says the likelihood of contracting viruses such as influenza, hepatitis or even Ebola is far higher than being bitten by a mosquito carrying the potentially, but not usually, deadly disease." (CP)

"Medical association spends drug company money telling doctors not to accept gifts from drug companies" - "CHICAGO - The American Medical Association is spending a lot of drug-company money to tell doctors not to accept large gifts from drug companies in a campaign that critics say is hypocritical." (AP)

The Italians apparently still believe the Pope's words cause children's leukaemia: "Vatican Radio transmissions to comply with Italy's emissions law" - "Vatican Radio will be in compliance with Italy's emissions law by this weekend, as part of the settlement of a dispute that had threatened the pope's airtime around the world. In April, the Italian government had threatened to pull the plug on the broadcaster if it didn't comply with Italian law, which strictly regulates electromagnetic emissions. The dispute was sparked after residents of the town of Santa Maria di Galeria near Rome said they feared some leukemia cases might be linked to the electromagnetic emissions from the nearby Vatican Radio transmitters." (AP)

"Child Air-Bag Deaths Drop; Parents Get Most of the Credit" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 — Air bags are killing fewer children than they did five years ago, government data show, and safety experts give most of the credit to parents who are keeping children 12 years old and under out of the front seat.

In 1996, passenger-side air bags were in about 22 million vehicles and they killed 35 children, according to the National Safety Council, a private nonprofit organization. Air bag use was growing, the council said, and so were fears about more deaths." (New York Times)

"Parents call for MMR vaccine inquiry" - "A majority of parents believe a public inquiry should be held into the safety of the controversial MMR vaccine. However, the government's deputy chief medical officer says that the issue has already been extensively researched both at home and abroad." (BBC Online)

"Childhood vaccines linked to harmless seizures" - "BOSTON - Two widely used childhood vaccines were found to sporadically trigger seizures but do not appear to cause any long-term disabilities, such as epilepsy or retardation, according to the biggest study of the subject. The study looked at children who had received the DTP vaccine to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Both vaccines can cause fever, and fever in turn can lead to seizures. The possibility of seizures is one of a variety of concerns that prompt some parents to oppose routine vaccinations, even though health experts argue that the benefit of preventing common childhood illnesses far outweighs any possible hazards." (AP) | Study Clears Two Vaccines of Any Long-Lasting Harm (New York Times)

"Stopping smoking temporarily stops lung decline" - "NEW YORK, Aug 29 - Quitting smoking for a year at a time can keep lungs from deteriorating and reduce the risk of death, according to Finnish researchers. To investigate the effects of quitting smoking, Dr. Margit Pelkonen of the University of Kuopio and colleagues studied more than 1,000 Finnish study participants in four groups: those who had never smoked, those who had quit permanently, those who had quit intermittently, and those who had never quit." (Reuters Health)

Actually, I ran this because I just couldn't resist the statement:

Furthermore, among both never smokers and continuous smokers, those who died had a significantly more rapid decline in lung function than survivors.

Imagine that, survivors' lung function is better than that of those who died. How do they come up with this amazing stuff?

"Snacking on low-fat food 'bad for heart'" - "Snacking on "high-energy" foods that are low in fat could still lead to heart disease because of "Syndrome X", caused when the liver attempts to digest too much food." (Independent)

"Most young people 'couch potatoes'" - "Most young people admit to taking absolutely no regular exercise at all. A survey has revealed that seven out of ten under-25s are fully paid up members of the couch potato club. Not only do they lead far less healthy lifestyles than the over-55s, they also appear to be complacent about nutrition. Only 53% think they eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. The research, commissioned by Warburtons bakers for National Bread Week, found that the majority of under-25s know more about TV soaps than key aspects of healthy living". (BBC Online)

"Making food out of waste" - "SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - A group of scientists is trying to make food from greenhouse gases. The plan, involving more than 30 researchers from different disciplines, is to build artificial plants. The Artificial Photosynthesis Project, or ArtPhoto for short, aims to build chemical reactors at coal-burning power plants. These reactors would take excess heat energy, carbon dioxide and synthetic protein ... and make food." (CBC)

Presumably, the `peas et al are planning massive campaigns against these "global chilling Frankenfoods," or whatever snappy moniker they can hang on the project for scare mongering purposes.

"Senate panel to meet on utility pollution limits" - "WASHINGTON - The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will meet with the utility industry, state regulators and green groups in two weeks to discuss stricter limits on power plant emissions, an aide to Senator Jim Jeffords said yesterday." (Reuters)

Green groups? Who gave these unelected and unrepresentative twerps a say in real world issues? If they seriously want to "cut emissions" they can simply stop using power then can't they and if they stop exhaling too they will reduce CO2 emissions that they allege are warming the planet.

"Ontario researchers draw curious stares as they study climate change in N.W.T" - "YELLOWKNIFE -- The pair in the inflatable boat packed with scientific gear often joke that they are stalking a Loch Ness monster, but they are really after bigger game." (CP)

Maybe they'd better stick to the Nessie line, it's the more plausible scenario.

"Maybe the man on the moon knows how hot global warming will get" - "Scientists are watching the dark side of the moon for clues about climate change on Earth." (Christian Science Monitor)

"South Africa heading for trouble over emissions" - "Cape Town - South Africa would be in deep trouble if developing countries were suddenly called upon to make a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the National Assembly's minerals and energy and environmental affairs committees heard on Tuesday.

Addressing members at a one-day workshop on climate change, an expert in the field, Harald Winkler, said one of South Africa's biggest problems was its highly emissions-intensive economy in comparison with other developing countries. He also said that among the threats climate change posed to South Africa was a possible decrease in its coal exports." (Sapa)

"Hope for sustainable farming in gene-altered crops" - "CHURCHVILLE, VA. - Genetically engineered crops are poised to give human society its biggest sustainability gain in almost 100 years. Research at the University of California at Davis has produced a new gene-altered tomato that not only grows in salt water - but also desalinates the soil in which it grows." (Dennis T. Avery and Alex A. Avery, Christian Science Monitor)

"Feeding prejudice" - "The GM debate is degenerating into a game of dungeons and dragons. Patrick Holden of the Soil Association portrays the GM food lobby as "forces of darkness" and claims there are "sinister motives at work". Environmentalists stalk the streets dressed as capitalist demons out to murder our bountiful Mother Nature. Yet yesterday's news that scientists in Scotland have created a GM elm designed to be resistant to Dutch elm disease provides more evidence of the potential benefits of this technology." (Johnjoe McFadden, The Guardian)

"Food technology opponents concoct scare after scare" - "The Hudson Institute's Michael Fumento weighs in on the debate over genetically improved foods in this week's National Review, noting that opposition tactics (as typified by Greenpeace) tend to rely on a one-two punch: "First," Fumento writes, "if you throw enough 'darts,' one may eventually stick." Second, "the collective weight of one false scare after another could send agricultural biotech the way of nuclear power."

Greenpeace's latest "dart" is a constant public denial that genetically modified (GM) crops will ever reach the Third World markets where they can do the most good. One Greenpeace spokesman told The Guardian (a UK paper) yesterday that "no GM company is going to produce varieties for poor countries unless it sees a market." Despite the naysayers' dire warnings, MIT's Technology Review predicts that "the next big producers of biotech crops may well be nations in the developing world. While battles over genetically modified foods have slowed the technology's progress in Europe and North America, countries such as China and India are now gearing up to commercialize dozens of genetically modified plants in the next few years."

Indeed, as countries in Africa and Asia try to figure out how quickly they can adopt biotech farming practices, the debate in the United States has devolved into petty skirmishes over which points of view are represented in higher-education seminars. Noted anti-technologist Jeremy Rifkin, for instance, is miffed that an Idaho college cancelled his speaking engagement after they learned of his virulent opposition to progress in agriculture.

Fumento might have added a third tactic to his National Review commentary, namely the marriage of terrorism and vandalism, both of which are being employed almost daily in France by members of Jose Bove's activist clique. The most recent crime was perpetrated on an 80-square-yard biotech test site by a mob that included members of the militant environmental group Friends of the Earth." (GuestChoice.com)

"Environment: Greenpeace, Mexican Gov't Collide Over Transgenics" - "MEXICO CITY, Aug 28 - The Mexican government and Greenpeace collided over the issue of transgenic crops after deputy minister of Agriculture Víctor Villalobos defended such technology and described the international watchdog as a group of "environmental terrorists."

The official's "accusations were unjustifiably aggressive, and his arguments in favour of transgenics were totally mistaken," Greenpeace Mexico spokeswoman Cecilia Navarro told IPS Tuesday.

Villalobos took aim against the group in an interview with the daily newspaper Reforma, in which he announced that the government would promote the production of transgenic crops." (IPS)

"No bumper crop of genetically altered plants" - "After a decade of promises to transform agriculture and tens of millions of dollars in research and development, biotech firms and seed companies are scaling back their horizons. Instead of spreading their know-how to new farm products, they're narrowing their focus to a few major crops, such as corn and soybeans. The reason: Deepening consumer skepticism and tighter regulation worldwide are boosting costs and increasing the business risk of bringing bioengineered food to market." (Christian Science Monitor)

"US farm group to hold Asia-wide biotech conference" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Grains Council said this week it will host an Asia-wide biotechnology information conference in Singapore next week to calm consumer fears over potential health and environmental hazards from genetically modified foods." (Reuters)

"Fight between GMOS and the bugs they repel may not be over" - "For all the promise of crops genetically modified to resist pests, the miracles of the laboratory are only good until the bugs outsmart them. Mark Whalon, a Michigan State University entomology professor, says that farmers and those marketing genetically modified seeds shouldn’t become complacent because so far there has been no documented evidence that insects have developed resistance to crops engineered to repel them." (Michigan State University)

"US corn exports to Japan hit hard by StarLink" - "TOKYO, Aug 29 - U.S. corn exports to Japan, the world's largest importer of the grain, have been hit hard by the Starlink controversy, latest official figures show, and little respite is expected before the arrival of the new U.S. crop. Japan imported 8,385,776 tonnes of corn from the United States in the first seven months of this year, down nearly eight percent from 9,111,987 tonnes in the same period last year, Finance Ministry data showed on Wednesday. While U.S. corn sales to Japan declined, the country's total corn imports rose slightly to 9,463,108 tonnes from 9,380,519 tonnes a year earlier." (Reuters)

"South Korea says to label GM fish products from Sept 1" - "SEOUL, Aug 28 - South Korea will label genetically modified (GM) fish products from September 1, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said on Tuesday. "The labelling will be required on any GM fish products from September 1," a ministry official said, adding that those who violate the rule would be charged fines of 10 million won ($7,867).

A government meeting, led by President Kim Dae-jung, passed regulations on the labelling on Tuesday after the National Assembly approved the Fisheries Products Quality Control Act late last year, the official said. So far no GM fish products have been marketed in the world, while some laboratories are studying such products, he said." (Reuters)

"France's Biogemma to sue after GM crop uprooted" - "PARIS - French biotechnology firm Biogemma has said it would file a civil lawsuit following what it described as the "intolerable" destruction of a genetically modified (GM) maize crop experiment by militants. The privately held company said it would file a lawsuit against as-yet unnamed parties after GM crop foes wielding scythes and hedge-clippers destroyed a field of experimental maize at Cleon d'Andran in southeast France." (Reuters)

August 29, 2001

"Grandma's Got a Gun" - "The Christian Science Monitor tells the story today [Aug 28] of "Kate," a middle-aged Oregon grandmother whose attitude toward guns has changed as she has gotten older and now always carries a loaded pistol. She has considered other forms of self-defense. But a Rottweiler isn't her style, and karate, she says, doesn't seem as effective as a gun. "I think I'm sort of too old to do martial arts, and I really don't want to let anybody get that close," she says. "If you want to know the truth, I'd rather end it sooner than later. Then you just pray the person doesn't get the gun away from you and shoot you with it. It is a big concern." The story reports that Patrick Langan, a statistician for the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Study, found that in defense against rape, robbery, or assault, guns help 65 percent of the time and make things worse about 9 percent of the time.

In "Gun Policy in the Aftermath of Littleton," Cato Fellow Doug Bandow writes that gun control is misguided and that studies show that guns are used five times as often to prevent as to commit crimes. In "Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun," Jeffrey R. Snyder shows that crime-rates are reduced in states that adopt concealed-carry laws.

Last year, the Cato Institute hosted a book forum featuring legal scholar John R. Lott, Jr., author of "More Guns, Less Crime." The updated edition of his book presents the most comprehensive analysis ever done on crime statistics and right-to-carry laws. Video of the forum is available on the Cato Web site." (Cato Institute)

"New thinking on old age; Scientists say a few genes, more than healthy habits, may be key to longer life" - "A handful of genes - and not necessarily clean living - may be the driving force behind people who live into their 90s and 100s, Boston researchers reported yesterday. The Harvard team vowed to find the genes and use them to design drugs that would fight old-age ills, from heart failure to Alzheimer's disease, and possibly even act as a ''booster rocket'' to lengthen life." (Boston Globe)

You mean it's not abstaining from anything that may be enjoyable? Gee, the nanny brigade won't like that.

"Red faces; Sometimes, scientists' overexcited imaginations supersede the facts" - "Now you see them, now you don't: subatomic "particles" and "forces" that mysteriously appear in scientific experiments, then disappear. The frequent reason: They never existed in the first place. Like sightings of spooks, UFOs and the Loch Ness monster, they're often the product of a bright but overexcited physicist's imagination." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Cage life may drive lab animals so insane that experiments are invalid" - "It is a scientist's reward: after feeding a laboratory mouse an untried medicine, or turning it into a cocaine addict, or flashing lights at it, the rodent appears to get smarter, or slower, or more discerning. Do it a hundred times, and you have got a research paper - or a billion-pound drug.

But what if the mouse, in the bleak, confined circumstances of its laboratory cage, has gone quietly insane before the experiment even begins?

That is the possibility being raised by US scientists who say they have found evidence that the sheer boredom of life as a captive lab animal may be enough to incur brain damage.

If true, it would call into question the validity of many experiments, particularly in behavioural research where scientists draw conclusions based on changes in the ability of rodents to carry out tasks." (Guardian)

"Glowing salmon worry residents" - "HOLY CROSS--Ivan Demientieff was the first person in the Yukon River village of Holy Cross to see glow-in-the-dark salmon hanging in a smokehouse. "They looked bright, like they were glowing," Demientieff said.

Most state fish experts have never heard of such a phenomenon before, but at least one federal scientist has researched the subject. Randy Brown, fishery biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the glow is from bacteria. He has studied "photo bacterium" -- bacteria that glows in the dark -- on fish in the laboratory. Cool and damp weather is what gives the bacteria a chance to grow, according to Brown." (The Tundra Drums)

"Veneman Responds to PETA's FMD Threats" - "Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has told a Wisconsin legislator that the federal government will do everything in its power to make sure an animal rights group does not spread foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to the U.S. livestock industry.

Veneman responded to Congressman Mark Green’s (R-Wis.) concerns about animal terrorism in the United State during the upcoming World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin, reports Wisconsin Ag Connection. In a letter to Green this week, Veneman said USDA and the federal government will do everything possible to make sure the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) does not spread FMD." (AgWeb.com)

"Ag Secretary 'Disturbed' By PETA Remarks on Foot-and-Mouth" - "A congressman from Wisconsin Monday released a copy of a letter from Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in which she admitted being "disturbed" to learn that an official with a militant animal rights group said foot-and-mouth disease might be good for the United States." (CNSNews.com)

"Foot and mouth is back - and the Government isn't ready" - "LIKE their predecessors in 1914, the Government encouraged us to be optimistic in the early days. It would soon all be over, not just by Christmas but in a matter of months. Now, like our grandparents, we know different. The fight against foot and mouth looks likely to continue into winter and beyond. The general staff in Whitehall has shot a generation of British livestock and thrown them into muddy trenches to no avail. In Northumberland today, farmers are fighting for the same ground they thought they had captured in March." (Alice Thomson, Daily Telegraph)

"Prosecutions over breach of animal feed ban " - "New South Wales Agriculture has started prosecuting livestock producers for feeding meat meal products to animals. The feeding of all meat and bone meal to animals is banned because of the risk of transmitting BSE, also known as mad cow disease." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Moo Over, Mad Cow Cometh" - "Not a single case of mad cow" has been the proud mantra of the U.S. beef industry since the disease was discovered in Britain 15 years ago. Not finding a case, though, has been largely a function of not looking especially hard. Since last fall, events have forced European countries to start examining every slaughtered cow over a certain age, a big change from checking for disease only if a wobbly beast ended up on the evening news. It turns out mad cow gets around." (Wall Street Journal)

"Unvaccinated children are growing in number; Oregon health experts fret" - "ASHLAND, Ore. — Doctors and public-health officials are beginning to worry about the growing number of parents who are denying vaccinations for their school-age children because of religious reasons. According to the Oregon Health Division, 2.7 percent of children had such exemptions for vaccinations this past spring. The figure had hovered around 1 percent for the past decade. The exemption is allowed under state law, but its increasing use doesn't mean more Oregon parents are finding faith. There is a growing anti-vaccination movement, led by people who are convinced that many vaccinations are at best unnecessary and at worst dangerous." (AP)

"Mass hysteria blamed for 1998 outbreak in Jordan" - "NEW YORK, Aug 28 - A "mystery illness" that sickened 800 young people living in Jordan in September 1998 was not caused by side effects of a vaccine, but instead was a case of mass hysteria, according to a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO). Lead author Dr. Saad Kharabsheh of the Ministry of Health in Jordan and colleagues cite the media as a strong contributing factor as to why hundreds of young people and their parents believed that they were suffering side effects from tainted vaccines. "Unfortunately, because of the complex nature of the events, only a relatively superficial--and, as it turned out, misleading--account was broadcast," the authors write. "As far as the public was concerned, a faulty and dangerous vaccine had been used." (Reuters Health)

"Chemical found in herbal medicine might complicate pregnancy" - "Researchers have found the potentially harmful compound colchicine in the placental blood of women taking the popular herbal medicine Gingko biloba. Previous research has indicated that colchicine can harm a woman’s developing fetus. The finding will be published in the September issue of Chemical Research in Toxicology, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society." (American Chemical Society)

"Too much soy could lead to kidney stones" - "New research indicates that soybeans and soy-based foods, a staple in the diets of many health-conscious consumers, may promote kidney stones in those prone to the painful condition. The finding will be published in the September issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society." (American Chemical Society)

"Tomato 'cure' for prostate cancer" - "MEN take heart ... eat six cooked red tomatoes a day and you will be less likely to get prostate cancer. And if you already have it, eating lots of cooked red tomatoes will slow it down. Scientific studies replicated around the world have found that lycopene – the active constituent in tomatoes which turns them red – is effective in preventing prostate cancer." (The Mercury)

"Lots of Lycopene" - "Analysis of data from a heart disease study in Kuopio, Finland reveals that men with the lowest serum lycopene levels have a more than three-fold increased risk of heart disease or stroke. The study appeared in the June 2001 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition. Lycopene is the red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelon, and pink
grapefruit. It acts as an antioxidant in the plant and in your body.

Over 700 middle-aged men were studied, but only 41 had a heart attack or stroke. Participants were divided into four levels of intake of lycopene, with virtually all intake coming from tomato products. The results were statistically adjusted for vitamin C, folate, and beta-carotene.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: While tomatoes are excellent food, they are not a guarantee of avoiding vascular [or any other] disease. And this type of analysis does not mean that lycopene supplements will have the same effect as eating tomatoes, which was really measured. Just tell yourself that pizza is the newest health food." (Nutrition News Focus)

"Who's going to study the studies?" - "Most thinking people realize that headline-grabbing public health and social science studies are subject to the same flaws (in both design and execution) as any other kind of human activity. But every so often, examples come along that bring the truth into even greater focus.

In one case, a 1999 study that proclaimed "Heavy Drinking Found Among Medical Residents" was featured in the Washington Post Health section. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital had concluded that "alcohol problems are present among pediatric trainees at disturbing rates." It turns out that the study's subjects never gave the required consent; according to the Washington Post, "they did not even know they were in a study." Furthermore, the researchers drew conclusion that were "flawed" (according to the Post) and unrelated to questions on the survey that they used.

In another example, a widely publicized study claiming to link soda pop and bone density seems to have exaggerated the facts considerably. According to the Washington Post, a coming report from Creighton University's Robert P. Heaney concludes that "only soft drinks with caffeine actively promote calcium loss." But even then, "the loss is minimal and quickly reverses itself within a few hours."

Heaney's report will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Heaney offers Post readers the following sensible message: "If you are drinking colas, fine, just be sure that you get some calcium-rich foods during the day," he says. "Don't let the current puritan streak stop you from having a soft drink." (GuestChoice.com)

"NiCad Batteries Too Toxic for Nordic Countries" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, August 27, 2001 - Environment ministers from the European Union's three Nordic member countries have intervened in the European Commission's troubled internal debate over whether to propose a Europe wide ban on nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries (Nicads)." (ENS)

"Its Notorious Past Unearthed, Dump Loses Landmark Status" - "RESNO, Calif., Aug. 28 — The United States Department of the Interior moved on Monday to make this city's municipal landfill a national historic landmark, but the move was trumped later that day by another designation, a less illustrious one, on the federal Superfund list.

When officials learned the landfill was on the Environmental Protection Agency's list for Superfund cleanup, the designation as a historic site was quickly rescinded, though the site could still wind up on the National Register of Historic Places." (New York Times)

Extra! Read all about it: Water Fleas Die! "Lake Ontario nuclear waste shocker" - "OTTAWA -- Federal officials are probing an alarming report that dangerous amounts of uranium, radioactive waste and arsenic are seeping into Lake Ontario. The report by environmental group Lake Ontario Keeper says an abandoned nuclear waste dump near Port Granby is spewing a toxic soup into the lake -- so deadly that it killed water fleas within 48 hours of exposure." (Sun Media)

"SA researcher awarded radiation exposure study grant" - "An Adelaide researcher has been awarded an $850,000 grant from the United States Government to study the effects of low level radiation exposure on humans. Principal medical scientist at the Flinders Medical Centre, Dr Pam Sykes, says her research will also explore the role of low radiation levels in the development of cancer." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | Scientist studies mobile phone risks (AAP)

"WHO team in Baghdad to probe depleted uranium" - "BAGHDAD - A team from the World Health Organisation arrived in Baghdad yesterday to lay the groundwork for research on a possible link between cancer and depleted uranium used by U.S.-led forces in the 1991 Gulf War." (Reuters)

Again with the Monarchs™: "Spray May Imperil Monarch Butterfly" - "TALLAHASSEE -- It is among the most famous and mysterious migrations on earth: Every fall, millions of monarch butterflies flutter southward through North America to Mexico, where they gather so thickly that the paper-thin butterflies can actually break off tree limbs. Along the route, dozens of towns hold monarch festivals. Thousands of schoolchildren log onto the Internet to chart the butterflies' journey. But this year, several U.S. butterfly researchers say, the massive monarch migration could face a threat here in the Florida Panhandle, where the state is aerially spraying an insecticide called Dibrom to kill mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile virus." (St. Petersburg Times)

"Malaria parasite genes vary, make control tricky" - "LONDON, Aug 28 - The parasite that causes malaria is more genetically variable than previously thought, meaning more complex strategies may be needed for its control, according to a new report. Genetic variation in the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is an important determinant of its susceptibility to drugs. The higher the variation, the more likely the parasite will be resistant to vaccines and other therapies." (Reuters Health)

Gosh! Wonder if that's one of the reasons that DDT remains so valuable for protecting impoverished populations...

"Dust from Africa Leads to Large Toxic Algae Blooms in Gulf of Mexico, Study Finds" - "Saharan dust clouds travel thousands of miles and fertilize the water off the West Florida coast with iron, which kicks off blooms of toxic algae, according to a new study. The research was partially funded by a NASA grant as part of ECOHAB: Florida (Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms), a multi-disciplinary research project designed to study harmful algae." (NASA/GSFC)

"Scientists count record salmon run at Bonneville Dam" - "It's officially a record year for Columbia River salmon runs. More salmon and steelhead had climbed Bonneville Dam's fish ladders by Monday than in any other year since the dam was built in 1938 -- and some salmon runs will continue for two more months. The number of chinook, steelhead, sockeye and coho counted at Bonneville's ladders through midnight Sunday totaled 1,239,475 fish. That's 99,727 more than the previous record of 1,139,748 for all of 1986." (The Oregonian)

Here it comes... "Researchers explore wood smoke's threat to Great Lakes environment" - "CHICAGO, August 28 — The Great Lakes region has long been valued for its recreational opportunities, but there may be a price to be paid for these pleasures: A new study has found that wood smoke, most likely from campfires and residential fireplaces, is toxic to certain aquatic organisms in the lakes and is a source of air pollution in the region." (American Chemical Society)

"Clean air at stake" - "CHRISTIE WHITMAN, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has already been blindsided once by President Bush, when he reneged on his campaign promise to limit carbon dioxide emissions. Now it could happen again on the issue of reducing pollution from coal-fired electric plants in the Midwest and South. This time Whitman should hold the line and not let the administration's energy policy set its environmental course." says this Boston Globe editorial

"U.S. pushes for nuclear power plants; Will subsidize permit studies in bid to speed up process" - "Aug. 28 — No company has applied to build a nuclear power plant in the United States since 1978. But the Energy Department wants to change that and has unveiled a pilot project encouraging — even subsidizing — early construction permit requests by companies." (MSNBC)

"Corporate Gadarene swine" - "Operating in the Third World is often dangerous. Local "activists" can blow up pipelines, kill workers, kidnap executives. But the first priority of corporations -- according to human rights organizations and an editorial in yesterday's Globe and Mail -- is that they shouldn't defend their interests too roughly.

Corporate "security" has become the latest front in the war on globalization. When operating in developing countries, according to the Globe, "many companies put pressure on local police or military to protect their operations, or end up hiring private security guards and even mercenaries."

Good heavens, call on the locals to uphold the law? Hire private security when the laws are not being upheld! What will these capitalist dastards think of next?" (Peter Foster, National Post)

"Air travel `costs billions in tax breaks, subsidies'" - "Air travel is costing the United Kingdom billions of pounds in tax breaks and subsidies, says a new report. The Green Party document says air travel is the most polluting sector of the transport industry on earth and costs the country at least £10.5 billion a year. The result is worsening climate change, air pollution and noise." (Ananova)

"Exxon CEO Lee Raymond's Stance On Global Warming Causes a Stir" - "Like his predecessors, Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Lee Raymond keeps a relatively low profile. He's reluctant to grant interviews and make public appearances. But ever since he assailed the Kyoto initiative to combat global warming in a speech a few years ago, Mr. Raymond has been inextricably linked to the issue. Add to that his disdain for gay rights and his unflinching responses to critics of Exxon Mobil's business in repressive regimes, and Mr. Raymond comes off as a strikingly politically incorrect character for a modern-day, big-company CEO." (Wall Street Journal)

"German industry slams EU emissions trading plan" - "FRANKFURT - The German energy industry was firmly at loggerheads with government and European Commission officials Tuesday over plans to introduce an EU state-wide, company-based emissions trading system by 2005." (Reuters)

"German HEW urges industry to back emissions trading" - "FRANKFURT - Hamburg-based utility HEW spoke as a lone voice within Germany's energy industry yesterday in its support for emissions trading, the market tool that allows companies to buy and sell the right to pollute." (Reuters)

Dopey beggars. CO2 is an essential trace gas, the "pollution" tag is strictly an activist illusion.

"The End of Atmospheric CO2 Growth" - "The end is near.  According to a study in the 2 August 2001 issue of Nature, human population growth "is likely to come to an end in the foreseeable future."  How foreseeable?  Try 2070.  This is the conclusion of Wolfgang Lutz of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, Warren Sanderson of the Departments of Economics and History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Sergei Scherbov of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands.  On the basis of their latest calculations, which are described in their article and supplementary information available on Nature’s world-wide web site, they state that "the median value of our projections reaches a peak around 2070 at 9.0 billion people and then slowly decreases." | Evidence of the Little Ice Age in Southeastern Peru | More Evidence of Recent 20th Century Arctic Cooling | Real-World Increases in Air’s CO2 Concentration Help Real-World Trees Better Bounce Back from Real-World Droughts (co2science.org)

"Global Cooperation Urgent Toepfer Tells Clean Air Congress" - "SEOUL, Korea, August 28, 2001 - It is often hard for people to understand that the atmosphere can be pushed beyond its limit to absorb wastes, said Klaus Toepfer, United Nations under-secretary general and executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme. In Seoul to attend the 12th World Clean Air and Environment Congress Monday, Toepfer told reporters that the compromise agreement on the Kyoto Protocol at Bonn's climate change meeting last month represents significant progress." (ENS)

"Solar Max is Over, Earth's Future Looks Brighter" - "A menacing peak in cyclical solar activity officially has passed, a NASA scientist says, but its impact on Earth's weather is far from over. In fact, the outlook is sunny in many ways. The flurry of Sun flares and expulsions seen over the past two years has begun to ebb, and activity will continue to decline for the next five years or so. Now it has set into motion a series of salutary changes to the planet's long-term climate and perhaps even daily weather." (Space.com)

Well DUH! of the day: "Flooding baffles scientists" - "CLIMATE change was not necessarily to blame for the devastating floods in England and Wales last autumn, the Government said yesterday." (The Times)

"Asia-Pacific experts begin talks on global warming" - "KITAKYUSHU, Aug. 28 - Climate experts from some 20 Asia-Pacific nations and international organizations began a four-day seminar on Tuesday in Kitakyushu, southwestern Japan, to discuss ways to curb global warming in the region." (Kyodo)

Groan! "Ozone depletion increases skin cancer risk" - "In an ironic twist, we are no longer simply loving the environment to death. Now it seems we are risking death to love the environment. Around the world, incidences of skin cancer are skyrocketing. Scientists and researchers largely attribute this to a single cause: our love of being outside." (ENN)

People don't generally spend a lot of time sunbathing at the South Pole, where they may be affected by the so-called "hole," actually the annual Antarctic Ozone Anomaly. However, wealth and associated increase in leisure time, along with changing fashions (neck to knee swimsuits were not in vogue last time I was at the beach), mean that people generally get significantly more lifetime sunlight exposure now than might have been expected last century. Factor in the doubled life expectancy over the same period and you realise that there would be a mystery only if skin cancer incidence did not "surge" in recent decades.

Ozone "depletion" may be a trendy hypothesis but it's as dubious now as ever and it sure can't be isolated as causal when increased lifespan and propensity to expose skin surface to sunlight has increased people's UVB exposure by factors orders of magnitude greater than the alleged and as yet undetectable increase in UVB atmospheric penetration. Parenthetically, we're still only guessing that it's the UVB component of ultraviolet light that increases skin susceptibility anyway.

To see an example of how "stable" the conceptual ozone layer is not, click here.

Ozone depletion increases skin cancer risk? Get a life!

"David Foreman vs. the Cornucopians; Earth First!'s founder is in the grip of archaic economics." - "In the summer issue of Wild Earth, Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman takes on the "cornucopians," meaning anyone who argues that economic growth is actually good for the planet's ecological health. Nearly every word of his article betrays a deep misunderstanding of economics." (Ronald Bailey, Reason Online)

"2001 World Food Prize Laureate Praised for Policy Change" - "The 2001 World Food Prize Laureate has been announced, with the recipient being hailed for his efforts to improve food security in developing countries. Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, a citizen of Denmark and the Director-General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), has been selected to receive the $250,000 World Food Prize for 2001 for his contribution to agricultural research, food policy and uplifting the status of the poor and starving citizens of the world." (AgWeb.com) | World Bank And CGIAR Congratulate World Food Prize Laureate (World Bank)

"Food Fear-Mongers Move an Agenda Comprised of Their Science" - "You may have missed this on your last trip to the grocery, but according to Walnut Acres, “Americans fear their food.”

Yes. Fear.

“There is palpable fear of the unknown and an increasing belief that what you can’t see might hurt you,” opined Oliver Sonnois, vice president of strategy and development for Acirca Inc., maker of Walnut Acres soups and salsas.

And what are people doing? Well, according to a Walnut Acres consumer survey, they are turning to fecal and carbon agricultural technology, FAT CAT for short, or organic to fans." (Duane D. Freese. TechCentralStation)

"Bogus Biotech Hype" - "Here's how Greenpeace's dual anti-biotech strategy works.

First, if you throw enough "darts," one may eventually stick.

Alternatively, the collective weight of one false scare after another could send agricultural biotech the way of nuclear power.

Neither strategy will probably prevail in North America, but they do wreak havoc. And they may have a devastating impact in a developing world that desperately needs biotech foods and as yet lacks our scientific sophistication." (Michael Fumento, National Review Online)

"Argentine ag secy advocates healthy GM products" - "BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Aug 28 - Genetically modified (GM) food products have not been proven to be dangerous and Argentina should continue to promote their development in order to cut costs and improve the nutritional value of foods, a government official said on Tuesday. Agriculture Secretary Marcelo Regunaga said it is important to distinguish between the scientific and ideological debates surrounding GM products. (Reuters)

"Biotech Foods No More Risky Than Conventional Foods" - "Foods derived from crops improved through biotechnology may actually be substantially less risky for those who have food allergies than conventional or organic foods. The reason is simple—crops and foods improved through biotechnology have been subjected to more prior scrutiny than any other foods in human history. They have been scrutinized with an eye to possible allergenicity, and also for every other potential problem one could imagine. Researchers developing genetically modified (GM) crops consult closely with government regulators at every stage of research and development, and are subject to unprecedented regulation." (Val Giddings, Biotechnology Industry Organization)

"Global GM market starts to wilt" - "The global GM food bubble may have burst after almost 10 years of exponential growth. Companies are investing less in research than five years ago, profits are static, countries are tightening up labelling and import laws, the promised new generation of crops which could bring health benefits is still years away, and no major new markets are expected to develop for some time.

Paradoxically, Guardian research has also found that the acreage of GM crops is still growing in the US and, at more than 109m acres now across the world, is 25 times what it was five years ago. The industry, moreover, has now convinced almost all governments and world bodies to back the bitterly disputed technology." says John Vidal in The Guardian

"China's GMO Law Could Push Soy Buyers To Canola - Report" - "SHANGHAI -- A report in the China Daily's Business Weekly Tuesday suggests that domestic oilseed users may switch to canola from soybeans unless Beijing soon clarifies its rules on genetically altered crops. ``We might shift part of our raw materials to canola if the government introduces severe restrictions on GMO imports,`` an unnamed Shenzhen-based processor said, according to the report. The processor also warned that restrictions on GMO, or genetically modified organisms, in imported soybeans could force many Chinese oilseed crushers to close, the report said." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"French Activists Flatten Another GM Crop Field" - "LABRIHE, France - About 150 activists opposed to genetically modified crops hacked down a field of experimental maize outside this town in southwest France on Tuesday and warned their protests would continue. Armed with scythes and sickles, they took only four minutes to destroy the 80 square yard site in this farm region west of Toulouse, the largest maize-producing area in France." (Reuters)

"Tegel vows no GM feed for its chooks" - "One of the most popular meals on New Zealand dinner tables is going GM-free. Poultry giant Tegel says it will stop feeding its chickens genetically modified soya feed." (New Zealand Herald)

August 28, 2001

Today's emotive nonsense: "FEATURE - Nuclear waste recyclers target consumer products" - "NEW YORK - Orthodontists could soon be giving their patients more than they bargained for with their brand new braces: a mouthful of radioactive waste. Under a Department of Energy plan, braces aren't the only product which could contain radioactive waste. Zippers, lawn chairs, hip replacements and countless other consumer products could include trace amounts of waste taken from nuclear reactors or weapons complexes and recycled into scrap metal. The Department of Energy (DOE) sees the recycling as a way to clean up waste at decommissioned nuclear plants and weapons facilities, but environmental groups call the idea ridiculous." (Reuters)

Guess what? Concrete contains trace amounts of so-called "radiative waste" too, as do bricks and mortar; the trees some profess to love to hug - and the products made from them; garden features; drinking water; organic vegetables (same as conventional crops); pet cats; statues in the U.S. Capitol Building; pristine mountain streams; virtually everything on or in the planet... and it's all perfectly natural. Trace levels of metals irradiated by human action in metal products are neither more interesting nor more risky than any "natural" source. Give it a rest fellas.

"Genetically-altered corn pollen poses little risk to Monarchs, study finds" - "CHICAGO - Pollen from genetically altered corn poses little risk to monarch butterfly larvae, according to a new study, which contradicts previous findings that led to calls to curb the spread of bio-engineered crops. The larvae digest the pollen when they eat milkweed. A 1999 lab study at Cornell University showing that pollen from the corn could poison larvae caused a public outcry in Europe and rallied environmentalists to demand limits on the crops. But the latest study, which will be discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, found that the larvae usually do not eat enough pollen for it to harm them." (AP)

"US Proposes More Blood-Donor Limits Over Mad Cow" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. officials working to protect the nation's blood supply from mad cow disease said on Monday they want to expand a ban on donations to include more people who visited Britain and others who have spent five years or more anywhere in Europe.

Officials are taking precautions because scientists do not know if the fatal, brain-wasting disease can be spread through blood." (Reuters)

"Health risk concern on chemical" - "An Australian expert has warned that an antibacterial chemical used in household products could help germs develop resistance to medical antibiotics. Associate Professor John Turnidge says the widespread use of the chemical triclosan, used in toothpaste, soap, mouthwash, dishwashing liquid and surface sprays, is medically dangerous." (The Age)

"Catnip puts bite on mosquitoes" - "CATNIP, the herb that sends cats into a state of purring euphoria, is one of the strongest mosquito repellents known to man, a study has shown. The nepetalactone oil that gives the plant its odour is 10 times more effective than DEET, the chemical used in commercial repellants, researchers at Iowa State University said." (Telegraph)

"Hospitalisation for asthma stable in Scotland" - "LONDON, Aug 27 - Hospital admission rates for asthma in Scotland have stabilised overall. Adult admission rates continue to increase, but this has been offset by a greater decline in paediatric admission rates, according to a report published in the September issue of Thorax. Previously, hospital admissions for asthma had been increasing for several decades, the researchers note." (Reuters Health)

"Pollution remedy has mixed record" - "Would dredging PCBs from the Hudson River make fishing off New Jersey safe, or unleash a torrent of new contaminants? The answer may lie in perch swimming in Wisconsin or the empty storefronts in Manistique, Mich. The federal government says its proposed Hudson cleanup would make it safer to eat fish caught off Alpine or Edgewater, but a review of dredging around the country suggests that success is hardly assured." (Bergen County Record)

"In Toxic Town the fires of protest burn brightly" - "As EU law forces councils to dump far less rubbish than before, campaigners fear health impact of new 'nightmare neighbours'" (Independent)

Aren't these the same bright sparks who demonstrated to get ever more restrictive dumping laws? Aren't they the same ones who wanted biofuel electrical generation - burning garbage for example? Well, seems they got most of what they wanted and where are they? Protesting again.

One man's trash... "California landfill dubbed a historic landmark" - "WASHINGTON -- It's the first landfill to become a landmark. The United States Interior Department designated the Fresno Sanitary Landfill in California a National Historic Landmark Monday, adding it to a list of 2,350 distinctive and historic sites ranging from Boston's Fanueil Hall to Chicago's Wrigley Field." (CNN)

"Budget Crunch Forces Beaumont, Texas, to Dump Recycling" - "Aug. 27--BEAUMONT, Texas--Curbside recycling, which began almost a decade ago with great fanfare and promise, will quietly end next month in the last city in this corner of Texas to recycle cans, paper and other refuse. In the end, said Clean Community Director John Labrie, it is five times cheaper to just bury the trash than to recycle it. The recycling program became a victim of a budget crunch that had City Hall looking hard at every expense." (Houston Chronicle)

"Govt Lab Buys IBM Supercomputer to Model Climate" - "NEW YORK - A U.S. government research laboratory said on Monday it bought a faster supercomputer from International Business Machines Corp. for $20 million to $30 million, which should help it more accurately predict long-range global and regional climate changes. The new supercomputer for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee will be four times faster than the lab's current fastest supercomputer, also from IBM." (Reuters)

Great! Now they can generate nonsense climate forecastsX predictionsX storylines faster than ever before.

"First International Conference On Global Warming And The Next Ice Age" - "An unusual conference at Dalhousie University [20 to 24 August, 2001] brought together a large number of so-called skeptics and supporters of manmade climate change. About 100 scientists attended. In simplified terms, it pitted those who view climate data as important against modelers who believe that models should get the major emphasis. While the conference did not resolve any of the crucial issues, it did serve to define areas of agreement and contention." (SEPP)

"Scrubbing the Skies" - "Air pollution is no respecter of borders. That truism lies behind the suits filed by eight Northeastern states against Midwestern and Southern power producers whose older coal-fired plants are notorious polluters. The suits could fizzle, because the states' biggest partner in the litigation - the federal government - is having second thoughts. The Bush administration, which cites a national crisis in energy production, is weighing whether the tough enforcement initiated by its predecessor would cut energy output." (Christian Science Monitor)

"EPA seeks strict limits on producers of power" - "WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking approval from the White House to place tight new restrictions on the amount of pollution from power plants, congressional and industry sources say. The limits in the EPA's plan are so stringent that they rival those proposed in bills sponsored by congressional Democrats." (USA Today)

Mixed bag: "Let's Be Sensible and Slow Global Warming Down" - "LOS ANGELES The Kyoto agreement on greenhouse gasses and global warming, and the world debate about that agreement, have become so encrusted by symbolism and politics that even experts have difficulty discerning what is actually there. The increasingly apparent answer is "not much," in terms of solving the very real problems of warming." (Robert A. Levine, IHT)

"U.S., Canada sign greenhouse gases deal" - "WESTBROOK, Conn. -- Eastern Canadian premiers and New England governors adopted an "historic" resolution Monday aimed at reducing greenhouse gases in the region to 1990 levels within 10 years. The leaders, meeting in Westbrook, signed the first bilateral agreement of its kind in a bid to stall the emission of pollutants linked to climate change." (CP)

"How the unborn can pay us to clean up" - "NEW IDEAS are needed if we are to solve the problem of global warming. This article suggests one: we should compensate the present generation for cleaning up the world by paying them in long-dated bonds. That would be efficient and fair. The next generation pass us their money; we pass them our temperature. Both gain." (The Times)

Alleged problem of "global warming" guys. Alleged problem.

"Native plantation scheme targets greenhouse gases" - "Government science company Landcare Research says it will launch a scheme this week to offset greenhouse gas emissions with native forest and pine plantations." (New Zealand Herald)

"Nigeria, Chevron venture to end gas flaring" - "Nigeria's National Petroleum Corporation has struck a blow against climate change by finalising a joint venture with Chevron of the US that will help the west African country end gas flaring by 2008. This gives the go-ahead to the third stage of the Chevron-led projects at Escravos to gather waste gas from western Niger delta oilfields and pipe it to Lagos and to convert waste gas into liquid fuels for domestic use and export." (Financial Times)

"China to start genome sequencing of rice, pig" - "BEIJING: China, which has completed its part in human genome sequencing two years ahead of schedule, will now start sequencing rice and pig, Chinese scientists said. In the next stage, Chinese scientists will continue to cooperate with international research powers to complete a clear listing of the human genome sequence and start genome sequencing of rice and pig, which would be of great importance to the development of life science and biology, the official Xinhua news agency reported." (Times of India)

"GM trees fight Dutch elm disease" - "Genetically-modified elm trees resistant to Dutch elm disease have been grown by scientists at a Scottish university. The disease, which is carried by a bark beetle, has affected more than 20 million elm trees in the UK since 1970. Researchers from Dundee's University of Abertay transferred anti-fungal genes into the elm genome using minute DNA-coated ball bearings. They believe their work could lead to elm trees being re-introduced into their native habitat." (BBC Online) | Scientists create a genetically modified elm (Independent)

"Scary Science, Helpful Science" - "Do the media take a consistent approach to the value of scientific progress? By the evidence of some recent CBS News accounts of biotechnology, they seem conflicted. While some scientific advances are laudable and not to be resisted, other research, even though it depends on similar science, is reported with suspicion. The contradiction comes into focus if we contrast CBS News coverage of food crop biotechnology with their reporting on embryo research." (Statistical Assessment Service)

"U.S. Challenges EU's Biotech Food Standards" - "Senior Bush administration officials are pressuring the European Union to abandon new restrictions on genetically modified foods that they say could cost U.S. companies $4 billion a year and disrupt efforts to launch a new round of global trade talks.

U.S. officials have repeatedly told their European counterparts that the regulations, which received preliminary approval last month, discriminate against U.S. products in violation of World Trade Organization requirements, raising the prospect of a major and emotionally charged trade dispute." (Washington Post)

"The Real Price When The Product Is Alarm!" - "Last month, astronomers announced the discovery of several new moons orbiting the planet Saturn. They're just a few miles in diameter, and it took a powerful array of modern telescopes to spot them. But they really aren't 'new' at all--they've been out there for eons.

Something similar happened last year in the world of soybeans--a subject that understandably draws much less attention than astronomy. Using the very latest equipment, researchers found that the world's most commonly used genetically modified crop contains a previously undetected strand of DNA. It's been there ever since the seed was first developed nearly a decade ago and therefore represents no cause for alarm. Yet a group of fear-mongering activists at Greenpeace is treating this news as the agricultural equivalent of learning that one of those little moons around Saturn is wobbling a bit and just possibly could head for Earth." (Dean Kleckner, Truth About Trade and Technology)

"Agro-biotechnological advances expose regulatory weakness of poor nations" - "When agro-biotechnology makes great strides in the United States, question of global economic disparity and third world countries like Bangladesh's profound weakness in regulatory preparedness has come to the fore.

Despite much hullabaloo in Europe, with which the US has big deal of food export business, average Americans have no objection in consuming foods derived from genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) as long those are rich in nutrition value and safe for health." (Daily Star)

"Japan Grain-Normal buying of new US corn expected" - "TOKYO - Japan's buying of U.S. corn is likely to return to normal levels from late this year on hope the new U.S. crop will not be contaminated with unapproved StarLink biotech corn, traders said yesterday. The U.S. corn crop to be harvested this year is basically free from StarLink because U.S. farmers were prohibited from planting the variety after it turned up in U.S. food." (Reuters)

"Voluntary GM moratorium extended" - "The voluntary moratorium on applications for release and field testing of genetically modified organisms has been extended by two months. The moratorium was to end this Friday but Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and Science Minister Pete Hodgson announced today the biotechnology industry and research groups had offered to continue it until midnight on October 31." (New Zealand Herald)

"GM crop protests add to French government's woes" - "PARIS, Aug 27 - French protesters gave Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's struggling government yet another headache, as attacks on genetically modified crops provided Monday his Green coalition partners with another opportunity to embarrass him." (AFP)

August 26-27, 2001

"Malaria keeps people poor, but so does government" - "Malaria is arguably the most devastating disease in the history of mankind. Annually around 300 million cases of malaria occur and the disease accounts for over 1 million deaths each year, mostly children under the age of 5. This is an equivalent of crashing seven Boeing 747s packed full of children into the ground every day. More than 90% of cases occur in Africa, the worlds poorest continent.

While malaria is associated with some of the world's poorest nations in tropical regions, this was not always the case. Malaria was wide spread throughout southern Europe, the southern states of the US and cases of malaria were even recorded in the Arctic Circle. These countries and regions all managed to eradicate malaria after the Second World War by using DDT. The insecticide, which is so reviled by environmentalists, is enormously effective in killing the malaria vector, the Anopheles mosquito." (Richard Tren, Africa Fighting Malaria)

"Mosquito fish are hot sellers amid West Nile virus" - "ALAPAHA, Ga. - Years ago, Ken Holyoak stocked his ponds with small fish that devoured mosquito larvae. He aimed to avoid annoying bites, not prevent mosquito-borne diseases. But with cases of West Nile virus emerging across the East Coast, the south Georgia fish farmer says he can hardly keep up with the demand for his mosquito fish. Holyoak said his farm has shipped out about 5.5 million mosquito fish since the West Nile outbreak in New York two years ago, and he plans to produce millions more this year." (AP)

Hmm... see the Gambusia Control Page.

"No End in Sight for Asbestos Suits, Says RAND Study; Claims predicted to double, bankrupting the industry" - "If there has been one constant during the two decades of asbestos litigation, it's that the light at the end of the tunnel keeps moving further and further away. Now a study by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice projects that asbestos defendants may have seen fewer than half of the more than one million injury claims that eventually could be filed. The study predicts that all of the remaining asbestos manufacturers will be driven into bankruptcy within the next two years." (Bob Van Voris, The National Law Journal)

"Angling for Britain's Fishermen" - "Whalers, game hunters, laboratory scientists and even their bankers, have all felt the brunt of animal-rights campaigns. Now it's the turn of your average weekend fisherman. Driving around Britain this week one can see posters of a dog with a hook through its lip adorning billboards. The caption reads: "If you wouldn't do this to a dog, why do it to a fish?" It sounds innocent enough, but this may all end up in tears.

These posters are part of a $45 million campaign by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to outlaw fishing in Britain. It is misguided folly that could lead to an increase in attacks on fishermen. PETA will not miss the anglers if they quit in fear, but the fish surely will.

Like the hunters who want large numbers of hares, foxes and pheasants to chase, anglers want lots of fish and for that they need clean water. It is anglers who have been the guardians of the British riverine environment for the past half-century -- before any of the pressure groups even started." (Roger Bate, Wall Street Journal Europe)

I love this one: "Forest felled to save snail" - "FORESTRY workers have felled almost 1,000 trees to create a four-acre nature reserve for a tiny snail that no one can be sure still lives there. The creature, known only by its Latin name vertigo geyeri, is a relic from the Ice Age and was last seen seven years ago by a group of amateur naturalists. There have since been no confirmed sightings of the mollusc, which measures little more than one millimetre in length and is barely visible to the naked eye. Forestry Commission staff, working with English Nature, have cleared the stand of spruce trees planted in 1978 in a stream valley at Dalby, near Pickering, North Yorkshire. They hope to preserve the environment of the snail which appears on a global list of threatened species." (Telegraph)

Um... the trees have been there for a coupla decades, the molluscs were observed there less than a decade ago (i.e., while the trees were extant) and this lot have removed the trees to "protect" the little buggers' habitat? Right...

"Who's the worst at walking the talk?" - Ed Quillen on, inter alia, enviros consumptive fundraising. (Denver Post)

The misanthropists' attack on infrastructure continues:  "Dam benefits doubted; Government faces call to review the economic impact" - "Academics and non-governmental organisations sceptical about the benefits of dams are calling on the government to reconsider whether they actually produce positive results. Chainarong Sretthachau, director of the NGO Southeast East Asia Rivers Network (Searin), said the government would be asked to appoint an independent body to review the social and economic impact of dams, and their safety." (Bangkok Post)

but here's a refreshing change: "Yes, please dig up my backyard... Meet the Yimbies. A new breed whose message to the world is 'Build it here'" - "Where wooded hills slope down to a tranquil Buckinghamshire vale, the tiny village of Bow Brickhill waits for the peace to be shattered by the growl of JCBs carving a gash through its fields. But you won't find Swampy digging in or troupes of Nimbys waving placards. British Waterways' plans to build a canal between Bedford and Milton Keynes, which were announced last week, have been greeted with an emphatic "Yes, in my backyard." (Independent)

"Swiss mobile operators team up in electrosmog pact" - "BERNE, Switzerland - Four Swiss mobile phone operators called on the government last week to allow site-sharing of antennas to limit costs and at the same time safeguard people from "electrosmog," a potentially damaging form of radiation." (Reuters)


"Energy in the 21st century: government policy and alternative sources" - "The California energy crisis reawakened public concerns about energy, mostly dormant since the energy crisis of the 1970s. After more than 20 years of research into alternative energy sources, the United States still relies on fossil fuels for 85 percent of its energy and imports the majority of its oil, according to the Department of Energy.

Underlying the political statements and public worries about the possibility of an energy crisis are real questions about our energy supply and policies, such as: How much energy do we use? How much will we need in the future? And, how can we create energy in a way that doesn’t damage the environment?" (American Chemical Society release)

Create energy? I'd like to see that...

"'Clean' power source should carry a global warning" - "Australia's attitude to uranium exports is unforgivable bearing in mind the dangers of nuclear energy, writes [PSR's] Helen Caldicott." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Ramp up renewables" - "EL CERRITO, CALIF. - Now that power shortages and energy crises are no longer making headlines in the fire-scorched West, the nation has a chance to lay sensible plans, for a change, to meet its growing energy needs.

Currently, we get 92 percent of our energy from fossil fuels and nuclear power. The administration's energy plan and bill tilt steeply toward these established industries. Meanwhile, less than 1 percent of our primary commercial energy comes from solar, wind, or geothermal sources." (John J. Berger, Christian Science Monitor)

What a shame these "clean, safe..." sources are not yet generally practical or useful (nasty habit of not generating according to human timetables too).

"War on the car sparks driver rage" - "Sweeping measures are to be taken throughout Britain to make motoring increasingly untenable and force millions out of their cars and on to public transport. As more than 23 million people took to their cars this weekend, transport chiefs unveiled the unprecedented crackdown on private vehicles in a series of schemes to drive people off the roads." (Observer)

"Banned CFCs flooding Japan" - "CHIBA A type of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) whose production or import is banned in industrialized countries has been smuggled into Japan in large volumes from China and other developing countries where its manufacturing is still allowed, customs authorities and industry sources said Sunday." (Kyodo)

One thing you can say about the Montreal Protocol, it certainly increased criminal opportunity - shame it does squat for the planet...

But wait, there's more: "New 'green' plane is threat to ozone layer" - "Earth's ozone layer, which is only just beginning to recover from the ravages of recent decades, faces a devastating new danger from a new generation of "environmentally friendly" aircraft, The Independent on Sunday can reveal." | Boeing's 45,000ft cruise to ozone disaster (Independent)

"Farmers' Almanac predicts early winter weather" - "LEWISTON, Maine - Those who remember last winter's jammed airports, slippery sidewalks and mounds of snow won't like what the latest Farmers' Almanac has to say about this year. With no El Nino or La Nina to botch up the forecast, the almanac's secret formula projects another "old-fashioned" winter, with heaps of snow beginning in late November.

The National Weather Service contends the weather cannot be predicted with any certainty so far in advance." (AP)

Funny, climate is the sum of all weather over a sustained period (which suggests the IPCC believe weather can be accurately predicted decades or even a century in advance). Here's the NWS stating that weather can't be predicted a few months hence. Which do you think closer to the truth?

Then again, agreement on the weather in decades passed seems a little difficult to come by:

"An Elastic U.S. Climate History" - "CRU are not the only institution to be causing confusion with their temperature graphs. The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York also compiles surface temperature averages and is now showing new charts of historical U.S. temperature which are different to the same charts produced by them a year or so earlier.

The effect of the latest version of GISS's U.S. climate history is for the 1930's temperatures (the warmest period of the 20th century) to be reduced, while those for the 1990's are increased. In the previous version, the 1930s was clearly warmer than the 1990's, a point frequently made by skeptics given that greenhouse gases could hardly be blamed for the 1930s warmth. However, in the latest version, the 1990's has almost caught up to the 1930s." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Environmentalists Highlight Firms' Rifts On International Global-Warming Treaty" - "The trans-Atlantic standoff over the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to curb global warming, is producing tense family squabbles inside some of the world's big multinational corporations.

At Ford Motor Co., Coca-Cola Co. and other global giants, European and U.S. executives are struggling over what position to take with consumers in the debate over climate change. At least two environmental groups are highlighting the rifts, and at least one is urging boycotts. Their hope: to embarrass big companies into pledging support for the treaty, in turn exerting pressure on the Bush administration to reverse its opposition to the pact." (Jeffrey Ball, Wall Street Journal)

Today's preCoP7 male bovine excreta: "Tuvalu: first casualty of climate change" - "HONOLULU -- It's too late for Tuvalu, a small island nation in the Pacific. Ten thousand people, Tuvalu's entire population, are packing their bags as their homes among nine low-level atolls are being swallowed by the rising sea. These are the facts of life: The Earth is warming, sea levels are rising, and Tuvalu is quietly being erased from the surface of the Earth." (Japan Times)

"Overheated cities a warning of our time" - "The number of hours the temperature topped 30 C in Tokyo and Nagoya has doubled in the last 20 years, according to a report released by the Environment Ministry early this month." (Daily Yomiuri)

Gee, you suppose it could be like, the urban heat island effect or something?

"'Cool Communities' to reduce greenhouse emissions" - "A new program aimed at encouraging families to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home is being launched in New South Wales today. With funding from the Australian Greenhouse Office, the Nature Conservation Council will work through community groups to spread the word that simple household changes can have an enormous impact. The coordinator of the Cool Communities project, Sebastian Crawford, says people are sick and tired of debates about Greenhouse targets and want practical solutions." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Stop worrying about nothing and let wealth generation and inevitable technological advance continue to improve our world then.

It's apparently popular though: "CO2 cuts aimed at homeowners" - "The government's unprecedented plan will start next year. The Environment Ministry will for the first time target domestic households and businesses in a project to curb carbon dioxide emissions, ministry officials said. Under the project next year, aimed at raising citizens' awareness of global warming, homeowners and businesses will receive expert advice on ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Green groups see GMOs as no longer popular; Urge state to discuss plans with all parties" - "The popularity of genetically modified organisms is fading, green groups told a public forum debating the pros and cons of GMOs at the weekend. The group also demanded state agencies consult more with farmers and consumer groups before drawing up any policy on GMOs." (Bangkok Post)

"French Activists Destroy More Crop Test Sites" - "CLEON D'ADRAN, France - Hundreds of activists destroyed test sites for genetically modified maize in southern France Sunday, the fifth incident of GM crop destruction in the country since late June. Armed with scythes and shears, members of the left-wing Confederation Paysanne attacked two fields used by U.S. biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. in the southeastern towns of Cleon D'Adran and Salettes." (Reuters)

"Keep GM food labelling voluntary, panel urges" - "OTTAWA - Canada needs to improve the oversight and regulation of genetically modified foods, a scientific panel said yesterday. The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee said the current system of protecting health and the environment is not designed to accommodate the advent of GM foods and other new plant and animal technologies. The regulatory process needs to be updated before the federal government starts to receive applications for approvals for the next generation of GM foods, the scientific panel concludes in an interim report." (Alan Toulin, Financial Post)

August 25, 2001

"Eat, Drink — And Get Heavy" - "Aug. 24 — People who drink heavily, eat more — and often more — of the wrong things, which can in turn put them at risk for myriad health problems, a new study says." (ABCNews.com) | Alcohol Use Linked to Poor Diet, Smoking in Women (Reuters Health) | Alcohol drinkers consume more calories and cholesterol than nondrinkers (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

The key to this is "Self-administered questionnaires were collected from 72,904 French women aged 40-65 years in 1990." [Kesse, Emmanuelle et al. Do eating habits differ according to alcohol consumption? Results of a study of the French cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (E3N-EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr 2001;74:322-7.]

Is the diet of French female schoolteachers born between the years 1925 and 1950 the same as, or even applicable to, say American women? Did being a child/young adult in Europe during the depression and an occupied country during WWII influence their behaviour/consumption patterns? How accurate is the self-reported consumption? Can we extrapolate the self-reported consumption patterns of a specific regional population subset (French female teachers aged 40-65 years in 1990) across populations?

To give ABCNews.com their due, while their lead was entirely misleading, they did report moderate drinkers reported better general dietary habits than either non-drinkers or heavy drinkers; those who reported both heavy drinking and smoking also reported poor dietary habits (less than optimal lifestyle habits perhaps?); potential confounding factors abound; dietary habits are dissimilar between the French and Americans; heavy drinkers were not overweight (counterintuitive to the study title "Alcohol drinkers consume more calories and cholesterol than nondrinkers") and; dieticians are a little confused by the study's initial results. So people who bother to read past the lead could reasonably expect a fair picture of this barely applicable study.

"Why you can't ban accidents" - "Sometimes highly educated people can be very silly - and even a world-renowned publication like the British Medical Journal (BMJ) can say daft things.

A recent BMJ editorial claimed that there are no such things as accidents - so it is banning the word 'accident' from its pages. The editorial defends its right to police the English language on the grounds that the word accident gives the wrong impression about the events it describes.

'Accident' is usually used in association with an unexpected and unwelcome event. But the BMJ argues that since most negative outcomes are preventable, the use of the word is inappropriate. It is purging the word from its pages to draw attention to the fact that 'injuries of all kinds' can be predicted, and therefore prevented. The BMJ even questions whether injuries received in an earthquake or other natural disasters ought to be called accidental, since 'preventive steps can be taken by avoiding dangerous places at times of risk'. How long before phrases like 'bad luck', 'misfortune' and 'acts of God' are targeted by the BMJ's zealous censors?

The attempt to ban the word accident is not simply a matter of linguistic significance. We live in a world that finds it difficult to accept the fact that misfortune can strike anybody at anytime. And it seems that the healthier our lives become and the longer we live, the more we find it hard to believe that injury is often just caused by bad luck." (Frank Furedi, Sp!ked)

"Paris mayor defends anti-car moves as drivers moan" - "PARIS, — Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe vigorously defended his anti-car campaign amid growing criticism on Thursday that new lanes reserved for buses, bicycles and taxis were turning the city centre into a traffic hell.

The Socialist mayor, elected last spring on a platform of creating more "civilised space" in the capital, argued he had a mandate to fight pollution and he intended to use it. "This problem affects all Parisians and especially the most vulnerable, children and elderly people," he told the daily Le Parisien. "Fighting against the dominance of the car is therefore a duty, but it also reflects the aspirations of a majority of Parisians," he said.

The lanes, which the city has been marking off with new concrete dividers during the summer, has reduced the space available to cars and caused gridlock in central Paris even before the return of summer holidaymakers. "This is what awaits you," screamed the front page of Le Parisien over a picture of a traffic jam.

"The Greens and Socialists are about to achieve the incredible feat of increasing pollution by blocking traffic," scoffed Yves Galland of the centre-right UDF party." (Reuters) | Green issues top the agenda in Paris (Sapa-AFP)

More from the anti-car brigade: "How roads kill the countryside" - "With nearly 3 per cent of Britain covered in Tarmac, millions of animals die on our roads each year. But there are solutions." (Independent)

Meanwhile: "Pennsylvania's Air Quality Improves Statewide" - "WASHINGTON, August 24 -- Overall emissions of smog-forming pollutants in Pennsylvania decreased 24 percent between 1985 and 1999, according to a new report by a national highway transportation research organization. More than half of the reduction in smog-forming emissions was a result of declining emissions from cars, trucks, buses and other highway vehicles.

The Road Information Program (TRIP) examined air quality trends in Pennsylvania using new data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its report, "Breathing Cleaner Air in Pennsylvania: Why Air Quality in Pennsylvania is Improving and What Can Be Done to Achieve Further Progress."

TRIP credits increased use of lower-emitting vehicles, cleaner fuels and increased vehicle inspection and maintenance as contributing to the reductions in pollutants." (TRIP)

Tells a slightly different story from that of the doom and gloom brigade doesn't it? People seem to have completely forgotten about the "killer fogs" of the 1950s - 1970s in various parts of the world. Air pollution was a problem in the Western world some time ago, although it is not a particularly serious issue today and technology and wealth are making it less so.

In the impoverished Third World, indoor air quality is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed, although you hear precious little about that. Click here for an indication of the toll from lack of water and power infrastructure.

Topically: "Third World Respiratory Infections Could Be Cut Sharply" - "Respiratory infections caused by smoke from indoor cooking fires common in the Third World could be reduced drastically through the use of inexpensive, more efficient stoves and modestly cleaner fuels." (UniSci)

"Researchers Find Mercury Pollution in Wildfires" - "BOULDER, CO — As thousands of acres continue to burn across the western United States, scientists are flying over wildfires in the Pacific Northwest to measure mercury emissions in their smoke. The National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Washington are conducting the flights. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation (NSF). During a wildfire, mercury stored in the foliage and ground litter is released and carried into the atmosphere, says NCAR scientist Hans Friedli." (UCAR)

"Steelhead crossing Bonneville Dam in record numbers" - "Salmon and steelhead runs have been declining all along the west coast for decades, but this year there is good news from Idaho. The largest steelhead run in the history of dam counts is crossing Bonneville Dam on its way up the Columbia River. As of August 19, the count of steelhead at Bonneville topped 390,000, Idaho fisheries officials report." (ENN)

"Lemon tea 'fights skin cancer'" - "Drinking hot tea with citrus peel could protect the body against skin cancer, US scientists say. The researchers studied 450 people, half of whom had suffered a particular type of skin cancer, and quizzed them about their tea-drinking habits." (BBC Online)

And maybe people who drink a lot of hot tea spend more time in the shade. Has anyone checked for associations between alcoholism and skin cancer? (There probably isn't a high UV exposure rate propping up a bar.)

Sigh... more pre-CoP7 hyperbole: "Warm-up in the Alps" - "If you are contemplating a trip to the Alps, best go sooner rather than later. The longer you leave it, the less likely you are to find much sign of the glaciers. They have drawn generations of climbers and tourists to the Alps from Europe and beyond. But since 1850, western Europe's glacial area has shrunk by up to 40%, and the volume by more than 50%." (Alex Kirby, BBC Online)

Well blimey! There's some suspicion that there's been a net glacial reduction in the Alps since the end of the LIA (Little Ice Age, C1450-1880). Not that this is any particularly shocking concept to students of geography (for those who may not be aware, the Alps can be bounded by a grid roughly 45°N-47°N, 10°E-20°E, i.e., they're closer to the equator than say, Seattle or Paris but nearer the pole than are New York or Rome).

Of course, relative proximity to equator or pole only tells a small part of the story since glacial area and volume is basically determined by precipitation and significant ice masses may take many millennia to react to even quite large variations in temperature. This piece omits to mention that it talks about net reduction since there have been numerous advances and retreats of varied duration and, indeed, some glaciers are advancing while near-neighbors retreat. Correctly, it states that most significant change is evident in small, low latitude glaciers. Given that these are basically remnant fragments of the last great glaciation and are doomed to thaw unless there is a new such event in the near future (God forbid), that particular bit of intelligence is a real "Ho, Hum, yawn, yawn" piece of trivia.

Odd that no one was pointing to "retreating low latitude glaciers" during the great global cooling scare of the 1960s and 1970s, although it had been reportedly occurring for well over a century. Then again, only "evidence" ostensibly supportive of the scare du jour stands any real chance of significant exposure in our hysterical media world so it probably should not be surprising.

"Birders Watch in Despair As N.Y. Wetlands Drown" - "A newly released National Park Service report has found that the "salt marsh islands are disappearing into the bay, transforming grassy green meadows into submerged mud flats." The rate of disappearance is extraordinarily fast -- between 40 and 60 acres per year.

The cause of the marsh loss is unknown. Scientists point to many suspects, including sea level rises caused by global warming, toxic wastes leaching from landfills and a decades-old decision to dredge channels and pits in the marshes." (Washington Post)

Global warming-caused sea level rise? Why would the sea level rise only in these marshes and not elsewhere around New York? Subsidence into dredged channels maybe but intensely localised sea level rise? Sheesh!

"Ministry to seek 5.9 bil. yen on global warming" - "TOKYO, Aug. 24 - The Environment Ministry will likely include a plan to spend 5.9 billion yen on measures to curb global warming in its budgetary request for fiscal 2002 beginning next April, which is double the figure requested last year, ministry sources said Thursday. The move is apparently part of Japan's aim to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming to bring the treaty into effect by 2002, although Tokyo has yet to formally announce such an intention." (Kyodo)

"Drought-Proof Crop Research Takes To Field" - "Genetic engineering may offer hope to farmers who watched their crops wither in the heat this summer. Kingston-based Performance Plants Inc. is working on inserting specific gene sequences that cause plants to protect themselves from heat and lack of moisture.

CEO David Dennis was cited as saying the technology will initially be used in corn, soybean and canola crops, adding, "It would give the farmer some insurance against big losses. The hope for the farmer is that it would stabilize yield." (The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon))

"Poor Nations Can't Afford Biotech Food Fear" - "NORWICH, ENGLAND-David Walker, an agricultural economist who lives on his family's farm outside Norwich, England and recently served as senior economist in London for the Home-Grown Cereals Authority and previously was executive director of the Alberta Grain Commission, writes in this opinion piece that the delay in the commercialization of genetically modified crops in affluent Western Europe may be acceptable in the context of the peace of mind it brings to consumers even though it lacks any kind of scientific basis. This implicit waste, however, is not an indulgence appropriate for those faced with poverty." (Grand Forks Herald)

"Development-Sri Lanka: Lobbying Puts Ban on GE Food at Risk" - "COLOMBO, Aug 24 - Four months ago, Sri Lankan environmentalists were a jubilant lot. Now they are disappointed as a landmark ban on genetically engineered (GE) foods from Sep. 1 may be deferred due to protests from western governments and the private sector here. One of the fresh concerns raised in the implementation of the ban is whether it would affect food aid like wheat flour from the United States.

''The decision in May was a landmark one and we completely backed the government on this,'' says Hemantha Vithanage, an environmental scientist and executive director of the Environmental Foundation Ltd (EFL), expressing disappointment in the then postponement.

But in an Aug. 22 letter to President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the EFL expressed concern about a new official committee that had been appointed by Health Minister John Seneviratne to look into the ban. ''We understand the aim of this committee is to move towards lifting the ban, which was so courageously promulgated by the Food Advisory Committee (FAC) of the health ministry.'' (IPS)

"Greenpeace takes campaign to cyberspace" - "Greenpeace is taking its campaign to cyberspace to call for a law on adequate labelling of genetically modified food, the organisation announced on Thursday. Claiming its ``cyber action'' to be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, Greenpeace Southeast Asia will urge the public to express opinions on the issue through email to authorities concerned, in this case the Food and Drug Administration." (Bangkok Post)

August 24, 2001

"Activist Attention Disorder" - "Another class-action lawsuit concerning the attention deficit disorder medication Ritalin bit the dust last week. Of the five such lawsuits filed in 2000, this is the fourth to be either dismissed or withdrawn." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Councilors eye limited sites for OxyContin" - "The painkiller OxyContin should be removed from most of Boston's drugstores and sold only from 10 secure pharmacies scattered across the city, two city councilors said yesterday.

That drastic move is the only way to curb the robberies that have plagued area pharmacies, councilors Brian Honan and Paul Scapicchio said, calling on the state to temporarily suspend rules requiring all pharmacies to carry the drug. There have been 40 pharmacy robberies since February." (Boston Globe)

See Scare-Mongering Over 'Hillybilly Heroin' Deprives the Rest of Us (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"U.K. Government to Investigate Benefits of Eating Organic Food" - "LONDON -- Although some food researchers might find the concept hard to swallow, the British government has pledged to more closely investigate the supposed nutritional benefits of eating organically grown food.

The Food Standards Agency says it will host a seminar later this year to consider "how consumer choice between organic and conventional food could be further informed by research." Political pressure has been growing in Britain for some definitive information on the differences between the two." (Wall Street Journal)

This week, coffee bad: "Abstention from filtered coffee may reduce heart disease risk factors" - "Elevated serum concentrations of homocysteine (tHcy) and cholesterol are associated with increased risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD). Previous studies found that consumption of large amounts of unfiltered coffee resulted in increases in serum tHcy and cholesterol, suggesting a specific effect related to brewing methods. In a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Christensen et al. studied a group of healthy nonsmoking volunteers, 47% of whom drank filtered caffeinated coffee an average of 4.9 cups per day. Cholesterol and tHcy levels went down in those subjects who abstained from filtered coffee, indicating that refraining from commonly consumed amounts of coffee could contribute to a long-term reduction in IHD risk." (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

"Urban legends that can kill" - "Since there are more vaccines than ever before, more people are getting vaccinated, and fewer people are dying from the diseases. That tends to make us think of those diseases less often. Now, however, thanks largely to the Internet, reports of side effects from vaccinations such as autism are encouraging some people to avoid them. No vaccine or food is entirely safe, and concern about side effects is never unwarranted. Years of research have found no basis for the urban legends about vaccination, which only increases the risk for children. Research is continuing." (BioMedNet News)

"U.S. Investigating Johns Hopkins Study of Lead Paint Hazard" - "Amid growing concern about the safety of medical research involving humans, the Department of Health and Human Services opened an investigation on Wednesday into a lead-paint study in Baltimore overseen by Johns Hopkins University." (New York Times)

"New approaches tackle antibiotic resistance" - "NEW YORK, Aug 23 - Disease-causing bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the effects of antibiotic medications, but two teams of scientists have developed new battle plans for attacking resistant bacteria. One set of researchers has identified molecules that kill virulent bacteria when given along with the antibiotic vancomycin. Another team reports the discovery of a gene on E. coli that controls the bacterium's susceptibility to a class of antibiotics derived from vancomycin." (Reuters Health)

"Regular consumption of caffeinated carbonated beverages may result in bone loss" - "In an article in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Heaney and Rafferty investigated the effect of caffeinated and noncaffeinated beverages on urinary calcium excretion in a group of 30 women with an average age of 31 years.

Though the caffeine in the drinks was primarily responsible for excess calcium excretion, previous studies of the effect of caffeine have shown a compensatory drop in calcium excretion over the 24-hour period following ingestion. The fact that the small calcium loss from carbonated beverages was offset by reduced excretion later in the day, and the habituation of the subjects to frequent consumption, lead the authors to conclude that the main cause of calcium loss from carbonated beverages was their lack of the nutrients needed for bone health. Carbonated beverages displace milk in the diet, eliminating a major source of bone-building calcium." (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

Sounds more like an insufficiency of dietary calcium then doesn't it.

"Salmonella from eggs? A real-world risk assessment" - "Isn't everybody afraid to eat eggs?" asks the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Not so, reports the paper's food editor, noting that egg consumption has risen about 20 percent since 1996. As for the great Salmonella Enteriditis (SE) scare of 2001, the Post-Gazette adds a little common sense to the hysteria: "The chance of an egg being contaminated by SE is 1 in 20,000. If it is contaminated and you cook it, it's perfectly safe… if you're eating [the national average of] 258 eggs per year, and the chance is 1 in 20,000, that's once every 54 years - and even that has to be an egg that is time- and temperature-abused and undercooked by you."

In a related Post-Gazette article, local egg farmers defend the much-maligned practice of "beak-trimming" young chicks. The Egg Nutrition Center's Donald McNamara also weighs in, saying that the animal rights activists have it all wrong - the practice is intended to prevent the cannibalism of injured birds. "That's where the term 'pecking order' comes from," says McNamara. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture supervisor John Stella agrees: "McDonald's is crazy [for giving in to animal-rights pressure tactics]. This does not hurt the chicken." Says local farmer Ina Greenwalt: "It's just like trimming your fingernails." (GuestChoice.com)

"Deep vein thrombosis study on hold" - "A proposed world-first independent study into the relationship between deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and traveling is on hold. The Federal Government has declined to fund the Australian study run by Griffith University's Centre for Aviation Medicine and Human Factors Research." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"NASA Pulls Plug on Costly Satellite" - "LOS ANGELES - Citing the $10-million-a-year operating costs, NASA is pulling the plug on a satellite that has measured the ozone hole for the past decade." (AP)

Does this mean we won't get any more of those ridiculous broadest / deepest / prettiest colored Antarctic ozone depletion event in n weeks hand-wringing releases? Don't bet on it.

"HHS LAUNCHES EXPANDED PLAN TO COMBAT "MAD COW DISEASE" - "HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today unveiled a department-wide action plan outlining new steps to improve scientific understanding of BSE, commonly known as "mad cow disease," and related diseases known as TSEs. The plan incorporates a comprehensive approach to further strengthen surveillance, increase research resources, and expand existing inspection efforts to prevent BSE and TSEs from entering or taking hold in the United States." (U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services release)

"Earth Island Journal: the Nanny Culture's propaganda broadsheet" - "The Earth Island Institute is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that used to confine its nannying to forestry and ocean issues. Lately, however, much of its work has been focused on perpetuating (or even starting) food scare campaigns. Its monthly magazine, the Earth Island Journal (EIJ), has become a propaganda mouthpiece for various segments of the Nanny Culture; in many cases, an EIJ article can kick-start a misinformation campaign and elevate it to the level of conventional wisdom among environmental activists.

This month's EIJ provides two such examples. In one article, EIJ editor Gar Smith (a writer best known for his conspiracy theories about the "U.S. military's plan to alter the ionosphere") re-tells the fable of Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer-turned-activist that organic-foods activists tried to pass off as a simple, unbiased farmer (whose livelihood was destroyed by big, bad Monsanto). This EIJ article tries desperately to gloss over the facts, choosing instead to blame Monsanto for "infecting" and "contaminating" Schmeiser's fields (a view which a Canadian court has firmly ruled invalid). EIJ also gives Schmeiser the gift of free advertising by soliciting donations for his legal defense fund and plugging his web site.

Turn a few pages, and the Earth Island Journal features another tall tale, this one about "mad pet disease." Reporter Ann N. Martin's previous projects have included a hit piece on the pet food industry, co-written with the Humane Society of the United States' Michael W. Fox. Now she's jumped on the mad-cow-disease bandwagon by insisting that (1) the disease has indeed arrived in America, and (2) it's your dog and cat that will get it first. In a wild claim worthy of mad cow scaremongers John Stauber and Michael Hansen, Martin claims that mad cow disease "likely exists in the US and Canada because both countries have the same conditions that existed in the UK prior to the outbreak." She then goes on to advise readers to only buy "healthy alternatives from companies like…" - followed by the names of companies who sell the dog & cat equivalent of "natural" and "organic" foods.

The Earth Island Institute doesn't produce this kind of slanted advocacy journalism out of thin air: it takes some serious money, and much of it comes from the foundation world. Examples of private philanthropy underwriting the Earth Island Journal include the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Fund ($1,515,000 to date); the Foundation for Deep Ecology ($520,000); the (Ted) Turner Foundation ($370,000); the Rockefeller Brothers Fund ($354,000); the Nathan Cummings Foundation ($302,500); the Tides Foundation ($216,990); and the Bullitt Foundation ($210,000)." (GuestChoice.com)

"UK fertiliser usage falls to 1970s levels, says report" - "Despite claims by the environmental lobby that farmers use far too much fertiliser on both arable crops and grassland, there are now clear signs that overall usage is falling back to the levels of the 1970s. The annual report of the Fertiliser Manufacturers Association (FMA) makes this clear in statistics relating to 1999-2000." (The Scotsman)

"Leakey Warns of Mass Extinctions" - "CAPE TOWN, South Africa, August 23, 2001 - The world is losing between 50,000 and 100,000 plant, insect and animal species a year, Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey said Wednesday at a lecture. This is much higher than a similar estimate Leakey gave in 1997. "Human activities are causing between 10,000 and 40,000 species to become extinct each year," Leakey said then." (ENS)

And these numbers are extracted from which orifice exactly?

"Fungal enemy could explain worldwide amphibian die-off" - "A development of a new form of fungus could explain the mystery of amphibian die-offs throughout the world, a large group of scientists now believes." (ENN)

"Military Chafes at Wildlife Rules" - "The Pentagon is moving toward asking Congress to rewrite the Endangered Species Act and other laws so military training exercises can be exempted from restrictions to protect sea turtles, desert tortoises, shorebirds and other rare creatures.

Military officials have said they would like more flexibility in environmental rules, in large part because of growing friction between those protections and training exercises on California's military bases, including Camp Pendleton, Ft. Irwin, Point Mugu and Coronado's Naval Amphibious Base." (LA Times)

"Bjorn Lomborg's wonderful world" - "Melting ice caps, deforestation, acid rain, mass extinction - statistician Bjorn Lomborg has done his sums and says it's all untrue or overblown. In the last of a three-part series, BBC News Online's environment correspondent Alex Kirby weighs up the claims made in Dr Lomborg's controversial new book." (BBC Online)

Poor old Alex, BBC Online's resident hand-wringer, just can't bring himself to believe that not all is doom and gloom. He seems to prefer the radicals' fright-night features to rigorous analysis - poor fellow.

"Push for Govt to intervene in Greenpeace activists' cases" - "The Federal Government is being urged to secure the release of two Greenpeace protesters being held in the United States. They have both been charged with conspiracy to violate a safety zone, which carries a maximum six year jail term." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Really? Ain't gonna happen guys & nor should it:

"PM rules out intervening in Greenpeace case" - "Prime Minister John Howard today ruled out intervening in a US court case involving two Greenpeace activists facing up to 11 years in jail for protesting against a missile defence test.

“I think all Australians who are charged with crimes in another country, particularly a country that observes the rule of law such as the United States, have to be dealt with by the courts,” Mr Howard told ABC radio." (AAP)

"Separating shark myths from reality" - "Many coastal resorts in Tottori Prefecture, which normally would have been thronged with beach-goers, have suffered heavy damage because sightings of shoals of hammerhead sharks earlier this summer have scared away would-be swimmers." (Daily Yomiuri)

Actually, there's not too much wrong with this as a shark article, but check out the paradigm shift later in the article, suddenly, we get to everything being due to "global warming." This is one shark article that is well separated from reality.

"Spate of shark attacks may be statistically simple" - "UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - A recent wave of shark attacks has some swimmers nervously wading close to shore in Florida and the Bahamas. But at Penn State, an expert in probability is calling the problem predictable. David Kelton, a professor of management science at Penn State's Smeal College of Business, used probability theory to explain the attacks. While people are looking at ocean currents, temperatures or a disruption in the animals' food supply to explain the sharks' presence, Kelton is saying it's actually not surprising the attacks seem to occur out of the blue in 'clumps' and then not at all for a long time." (CBC)

"Global warming a natural process, scientists argue; Mankind 'not to blame'" - "HALIFAX - Human beings are not the cause of climate change and expensive, global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases will not stop the ice caps from melting or the planet from warming, says a group of scientists gathered in Halifax this week.

''I believe what mankind is doing has nothing to do with flooding and with drought,'' says Petr Chylek, chairman of the International Conference on Global Warming, underway at Dalhousie University. ''It is quite possible that we can cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero, and we'd still have global warming.'' (Richard Foot, National Post)

"Linking Science And Policymaking On Global Warming" - "Global warming and the human impact on greenhouse gas emissions are prominent in today's news and are critical discussion points in international climate policy negotiations. Identifying uncertainties and appreciating their magnitude is an integral part of understanding climate change and effectively responding to the human impact on the global systems." (UniSci)

Here's an imaginative piece: "Why burn coal when wind power is cheap and plentiful?" - "The United States should make a large investment in wind farming to help meet the nation’s electricity needs and address global warming, two energy experts from Stanford’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have concluded. Writing in the August 24 issue of the journal Science, Associate Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and Teaching Professor Gilbert M. Masters conclude that wind power is an abundant, clean and affordable alternative to coal and other fossil fuels." (Stanford University release)

Wind is certainly plentiful (if unreliable) but wind power is not. Note that wind generation provides just 1/520th of the amount of electricity generated by coal-fired plants in the U.S.. The coal-fired cost inflation relies on the alleged environmental and human health "costs" ("global warming" ...).

"Photosynthesis Redirected To Produce Hydrogen As Fuel" - "Hydrogen holds great promise as the "green" energy source of the future. Though ubiquitous, it rarely exists in a pure form in nature. Present methods of producing hydrogen for fuel -- such as extraction from natural gas -- are energy inefficient and polluting." (UniSci)

"Ethanol Wastes Energy and Robs Taxpayers" - "For three decades, farm lobbyists and Midwest politicians have touted the wonders of ethanol to finagle billions of dollars in federal subsidies. But there is new evidence that the corn-based fuel additive actually requires more energy to produce than it ultimately yields." (Detroit News)

"Clean-air rules too lax, firms say" - "Clean-air rules being considered for Ontario's fossil-fuel power plants are so lax that they will allow companies installing antipollution equipment as far away as Haiti to claim they are helping to clean the province's air, says an influential group of electric-generating companies." (Globe and Mail)

Which firms, you say? Oh, only those that expect to make massive profits by disadvantaging competitors with the "right" legislation.

"Fresh air blows into a globally heated debate" - "Going into Marks and Spencer's food hall I am confronted by a placard. "No to GM Foods - it goes without saying!" is the banner, and M&S then lists all the foods it sells which have been quarantined from any hint of a modified gene.

There is something insufferably smug about that "it goes without saying", as though we are all part of a right-thinking consensus marshalled against internationalist conspiracies to poison us. The Green movement in Europe has made such a successful grab for our consciences that anyone who challenges its arguments is regarded as a Herod, prepared to consign yet unborn generations of our children to a future of hunger, thirst, pollution and biological mutation." (Christopher Hudson, Evening Standard)

"Committee recommends voluntary biotech food labelling" - "OTTAWA -- A federal advisory committee recommends voluntary labelling for genetically modified food, with consideration of a mandatory system if a voluntary one doesn't work. The Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee said Thursday the federal government should make a "significant effort" to monitor the long-term health effects of GM foods. The committee of experts, which the federal government set up last summer, calls on Ottawa to appoint a chief safety officer for GM foods, and a high-level committee to oversee GM food regulation." (CP) | GM monitoring, but no mandatory labels: study (CBC) | Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee Issues Interim Report on Improving the Regulation of Genetically Modified Foods and Other Novel Foods in Canada (CNW)

"Genetic Engineering report: Weak, Meek and Reeking of biotech bias" - "MONTREAL, Aug. 23 - Greenpeace Canada today reacted to the release of the Canadian Biotech Advisory Committee's (CBAC) interim report, calling it "weak, meek and reeking of biotech bias." The committee, established by the federal government, is dominated by the biotech industry and its allies. The committee's process was so skewed, Greenpeace and more than 80 other environmental, health and consumer groups boycotted it." (Greenpeace Press Release)

Oh... the `peas didn't turn up and nobody noticed. Tell you what guys, you keep not turning up & we'll all try real hard to notice that you're not there. If we don't call you in a decade or two, well... just figure it must be working and keep right on staying away, OK?

"Food Fight: Public Fear Battles Biotechnology" - "SCIENTISTS have found in biotechnology a powerful tool for extending the green revolution. Yet some of the most promising advances, including a Virginia Tech professor's nutritionally enriched lettuce, may never make it to the world market because of public fears.

The introduction of genetically modified crops demands stringent government regulation. Valid environmental and health issues range from the effect of pest-resistant toxins to possible allergic reactions. But much of the public bases its resistance on little other than vague worries. Most don't even know that they already eat bioengineered foods, according to a recent poll." (Roanoke Times)

"Activists destroy GM corn crops in France" - "PARIS - Activists in southern France invaded and uprooted 800 square metres of bio-engineered corn Wednesday, protesting against genetically modified food. One of the reasons for the recent wave of protests against GM crops in France – there have been four GM uprootings since June – is readily available information on where genetically engineered food is being grown in the country." (CBC)

"French Green minister wants debate on GM crops" - "PARIS, Aug 23 - French Environment Minister Yves Cochet said on Thursday he wanted a public debate on whether genetically modified crops should be grown in open fields rather than enclosed sites after activists destroyed a test site." (Reuters)

"Protesters arrested at GM crop farm" - "Eleven protesters have been arrested for attempting to halt the planting of genetically modified crops at a Highland farm." (BBC Online)

"Australian Government: Biotechnology Research a Priority for Commonwealth" - "Biotechnology research is crucial for Australia's future, and this is reinforced by the high level of Commonwealth funding and initiatives in this area. This was the key message of a presentation today by Ms Patricia Kelly, Head of Biotechnology Australia, at Science Meets Parliament. "Biotechnology is a field which offers many potential benefits in areas such as health, agriculture and the environment. Australia is in an exciting position with respect to biotechnology, with our scientists coming up with many innovative ideas in this field," said Ms Kelly. "The Commonwealth Government is clearly committed to supporting the efforts of scientists in this field, providing approximately $300 million per year in funding to research in biotechnology." (M2 Communications)

"Industry push for delay on GM label" - "EXISTING stocks of genetically modified food could escape the Federal Government's new labelling regime for another year under a draft plan that has outraged consumer advocates. The Australia New Zealand Food Authority proposal would postpone the recall of existing transgenic products without proper labelling until December 2002 – 12 months after the scheme was to take effect and more than two years after health ministers announced the new labelling rules." (The Australian)

"Greenpeace alleges U.S. intervention in Thai GMO labeling rule" - "BANGKOK, Aug. 23 - Greenpeace Southeast Asia on Thursday alleged intervention by the United States in Thailand's drafting of a regulation for food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to protect U.S. food producers." (Kyodo)

August 23, 2001

"California Can't Live Without Power, Can't Live With It" - "California has suffered from rolling power blackouts for much of the summer. When Californians flick a switch and a light actually turns on, they may be excited by a chain of events the rest of us take for granted. But while some people are concerned about a lack of power, demanding more generators and power lines, others are worried about the consequences of too much power. They claim that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by high-voltage power lines are detrimental to our health." (Howard Fienberg and David Murray, TechnoPolitics.com)

"The Safety Nazis: Precautionaries Shrug Off The Burden Of Proof" - "The European Union bans certain American beef, without proof of harm. The European Parliament slaps tough new regs on genetically modified food, despite the potential for cheaper, more nutritious crops. A U.S. environmental movement seeks to ban lifesaving plastic blood bags, transfusion equipment and other medical devices. What gives? A strange new doctrine fundamentally at odds with science is making inroads in the most scientifically advanced countries in the world. Advocates call it "the precautionary principle:" (Bonner R. Cohen, American Spectator)

"CJD transfusion risk 'tiny'" - "The Department of Health has stressed that the chances of being infected with variant CJD during a blood transfusion are tiny. Officials issued a statement in response to comments by the head of the American Red Cross who said she would do all she could to avoid having a blood transfusion in the UK." (BBC Online)

"IUD safety fears are a myth, research shows" - "One of the best methods of contraception which has fallen out of use because of a mixture of myth and misinformation is due for a renaissance following a major study showing it is safe." (Independent)

"Just say no to global summits" - "WASHINGTON - With the benefit of hindsight, it is tempting to conclude that the protesters in Genoa, Italy, were right, but for the wrong reasons. The phenomenon of highly orchestrated annual meetings of world leaders should be halted. Those controversial spectacles have degenerated into costly global photo opportunities at which presidents and prime ministers strut the world stage - and accomplish little of substance." (Murray Weidenbaum, Christian Science Monitor)

"Former Ohio environmental chief at center of latest Bush administration showdown with conservationists" - "WASHINGTON The latest environmental flash point for the Bush administration is a bit of a surprise. After all, Donald Schregardus, Bush's pick to be the nation's top environmental enforcement officer, was so low profile during eight years as Ohio's top conservation official that some environmentalists in that state still can't pronounce his name.

A dozen national environmental groups have announced opposition to his appointment, with a spokesman for one calling Schregardus a "one-man environmental wrecking ball." Two Democratic senators New York's Charles Schumer and California's Barbara Boxer have placed a "hold" on his nomination, effectively halting confirmation by the full Senate." (AP)

"Food-scare nannies go nuclear over irradiation" - "Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) have taken their jihad against food irradiation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Complaining that the food irradiation industry routinely uses euphemisms like "electronic pasteurization" to describe an important weapon against food-borne illness, the two groups have long been opponents of the process in any form (they once opposed USDA approval of labels reading "irradiated for safety"). Public Citizen's latest press release claims that this word substitution sets "a new standard for false advertising," and a letter from the two Nanny groups to the FTC targets six different companies that have decided to rename their product rather than allow their opponents to use words like "irradiation" to scare people away.

But what's so wrong about referring to food irradiation by the term "electronic pasteurization"? For the record, the entry for "pasteurization" at www.dictionary.com includes "The act or process of destroying most microorganisms in certain foods, such as fish or clam meat, by irradiating them with gamma rays or other radiation to prevent spoilage." And regardless of what you call it, food irradiation (especially of fresh meat) remains a revolutionary tool in the fight against food-borne illnesses. The US Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and American Dietetic Association all think so, often calling food irradiation "a potential life-saver." (GuestChoice.com)

"Report fuels battle over nation’s nuclear waste" - "Aug. 22 — The Energy Department has signed off on using Nevada’s Yucca Mountain to store nuclear waste from across the nation, but the state’s senior lawmaker — who happens to be the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate — says killing the project is his top priority." (MSNBC)

"Study boosts case for controversial US nuclear site" - "Studies by the US Department of Energy have concluded that plans to build a controversial nuclear waste repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada, would comply with strict atomic safety standards aimed at protecting the public. The verdict is an important step in the long approval process for the project, which could become the first civil spent-fuel repository in the world, and comes as the US is contemplating building more nuclear power plants." (Financial Times)

"Japan power industry seeks public support for MOX" - "TOKYO - Japan's Federation of Electric Power Companies said this week it would spend about 500 million to 600 million yen ($4.14 million to $4.97 million) over one year from October to seek public support for the use of controversial mixed oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel." (Reuters)

"Oil Exploration Possible Near Great Barrier Reef" - "CANBERRA, Australia, August 21, 2001 - In Parliament today, Australian Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill left open the option of future oil drilling near the Great Barrier Reef, raising fears that the environment of world's longest reef might be damaged." (ENS)

Nice try but rubbish nonetheless. The actual proposal is for seismic testing to within 50km (about 30 miles) of the 350,000 km2 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). The reef zone about which everyone gets so excited represents a mere 5% of this region with the remainder a huge surrounding buffer zone. There is no discussion of "drilling the reef" at all - merely that they'll be exploring in the Coral Sea, beyond the bounds of the GBRMP.

"Pipeline to ease Europe's reliance on North Sea" - "The European Commission on Monday hailed the construction of a 300km oil pipeline in Ukraine as a crucial step in reducing Europe's dependence on North Sea oil." (Financial Times)

Seems an odd way for the EU to be slashing dirty oil use (to fight "global warming" of course). They do send rather mixed signals don't they?

"Number of the month - 40" - "40 is the number of staff at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. A large portion of the funds available for scientific research in the UK have been diverted to the establishment and maintenance of this unit. One is John  Daly. Compare and contrast. In honour of the achievements of CRU our section on Chartmanship has been updated." (Number Watch)

"Whose fault is global warming anyway?" - "The world's climate is changing, but a group of international scientists meeting in Halifax this week says it may not be mankind's fault. About 80 scientists from around the world are meeting at Dalhousie University this week for the First International Conference on Global Warming and the Next Ice Age. "This is really probably the largest conference ever held on climate change in Canada," said Petr Chylek, conference organizer and professor of physics and atmospheric science at Dal." (Halifax Chronicle-Herald)

"Dutch defy seas, but indulge rivers" - "With half of its territory below sea level - and much of the rest threatened by coastal or river flooding - the Netherlands is taking climate change very seriously. Global warming is expected to cause the seas to rise by somewhere between four inches and three feet during this century, while increased rainfall may enhance the flood risk for low-lying towns and cities behind the Dutch sea defenses." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Chinese Archeologist Deciphering Ancient Climate Changes" - "China cypress stumps buried in a bog of primitive forest remains found in Gaoyao, south China's Guangdong Province, may hold clues to climate changes several thousand of years ago. Carbon dating tests show that the trees in the 10-square- kilometer muddy basin in this tropical region are more than 2,000 years old. Chinese archeologists were excited at the discovery of the ancient forest this year. They believe it was a shrinking virgin forest, which used to stretch across a much larger area along the Pearl River some 2,000 to 5,000 years ago." (People's Daily)

"Scientist urges Americans to seek their 'own private Kyoto'" - "A scientist says people in the US should ignore president George W Bush and sign up to the Kyoto agreement themselves. David Reay, of the University of Edinburgh, reckons lifestyle changes and home improvements could help achieve many of the climate goals set out at Kyoto." (Ananova)

Several correspondents have commented on this item from yesterday: Greenpeace in doll demo over GM baby food claim - mainly along the lines of "were the `peas' protest dolls PVC- / phthalate-free?"

Given the noise that the `peas have been known to make regarding these products these are probably pertinent questions. The answers are likely to be negative since the fluorescent green brigade is eminently flexible over the products with which they will be associated depending on the fundraising scare du jour. Similar questions arose when they were playing with Montezuma's Revenge (there's another view of Monte here).

Looks like someone forgot to tell the butterflies they were supposed to be decimated by biotech crops: "Butterflies abound across Minnesota, rest of country" - "With their colorful wings, butterflies can be seen fluttering about Minnesota farm fields in groups so thick they look like clouds. Experts say ideal weather conditions, especially in the Southwest, where many butterfly species migrate from, have fueled a butterfly explosion across the nation. "It's off the Richter scale," said John Weber Jr. of Nevis, Minn. Each of the past nine years he has led a team of volunteers counting butterflies in various spots across the state. This year his count is more than double that of years past. "It has been spectacular," said Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association." (Pioneer Press)

"Putting the blame for StarLink where it belongs" - "After all the dust has settled on the StarLink corn fiasco, who's to blame? David Erickson, a past chairman of the American Soybean Association, lays responsibility squarely on the shoulders of activists who "saw an opportunity and exploited it for all of its worth"; news outlets, which "abandoned their responsibility to fully explain the science and provide perspective on risk"; and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which "risked undermining public confidence in the regulatory system while increasing public concern over biotechnology."

Erickson argues in the Chicago Tribune that "we know enough already to say that low levels of StarLink pose minimal risk to health," and says that the EPA "messed up big time" in only approving the corn as animal feed in the first place. "In fact," writes Erickson, "for all the headlines, activist positioning, recalls and loss of markets, no illness has been linked to StarLink after nearly a year." (GuestChoice.com)

"China Official: Work On GMO Rules Needn't Hinder Imports" - "BEIJING -- China's chief trade negotiator Long Yongtu said Wednesday that agricultural imports needn't suffer as Beijing irons out the details of its new rules on genetically altered crops. Trade groups have complained that China's rules requiring safety certification for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are overly vague and leave too much to inspectors` discretion. Long, when asked at a news conference Wednesday whether importers will be granted a grace period as Beijing clarifies its GMO rules, said: "I would think so, because we have to take some time to lay out the detailed rules." He added: "Until then, I think that we are going to make sure this flaw will not become a hurdle to trade." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Philippines Against Total Ban On Genetically Modified Product" - "Philippine Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor has expressed his opposition to the idea of totally banning products laced with genetically-modified organisms (GMO in the country. "We should not fear new technologies. Let us instead look into the safe and judicious use of GMO-laced products," he said at a convention held recently in the central city of Cebu, the Philippine News Agency reported Monday. (Xinhua News)

August 22, 2001

"Pesticide Registrants liable for pesticide related illness" - "A California appellate court ruled Aug. 14 that pesticide companies can be sued for making and selling insect sprays that allegedly make children ill, according to an item in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Manufacturers had argued that EPA approval of pesticides for residential use barred such suits under state law. However, the appeals court said that although EPA-approved warning labels could not be challenged, a jury could still decide whether a chemical's dangers to human health outweighed benefits. A state Superior Court judge earlier had dismissed the suit brought by parents who claimed ant spray had caused brain damage to their unborn child and sickened their baby daughter. The couple's landlord had their home and yard sprayed several times in 1997 to control an ant infestation." (ACPA "This week & next": IN THE COURTS)

California getting into the EMF scare business? - Informants tell me that California has opened EMF project documents for public comment (by Sept. 10). The report is supposed to be available at http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/deodc/ehib/emf/RiskEvaluation/riskeval.html, although I have not been able to access the server. This report apparently concludes that powerline magnetic fields are "more than 50% possible" to cause childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, spontaneous abortion, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease). It also claims that magnetic fields are responsible for 40% of miscarriages(!).

Exactly how the 3 project employees arrived at this startling conclusion remains a mystery given that there is no plausible biological mechanism yet discovered by which EMFs could be assumed causal for any or all of these effects. The Executive Summary (http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/deodc/ehib/emf/RiskEvaluation/5.exec_sum.pdf - if you can't open that file there's a copy here) was not particularly illuminating on this point. It does, however, inform us that this involved review of existing work in the field (i.e., no new experimental evidence was generated) and that the reviewers began with near-zero prior confidence that EMFs could cause epidemiologically detectable disease (so why were they pursuing it to begin with?).

California would like public comment and so I'll comment publicly. Always recognizing that the executive summary may not fairly represent the review conducted, this looks suspiciously like a few, sometimes conflicting opinions dressed up in a white lab coat in an effort to give an impression of scientific rigor. There's no new evidence of risk, just 3 opinions, and it's guaranteed that other reviewers will disagree with some or all of the conclusions.

Perhaps California is trying to avoid having to build new power generating capacity by generating EMF scares instead. Here in the Junkyard Column would seem the appropriate final resting place for California's little foray into generating unfounded scares.

"Warmer periods in Alaskan area not confined to modern times" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In the northwest foothills of the Alaska Range, the last 150 years have been warm by historical reckoning, scientists report. However, they note, two other lengthy periods of climatic warmth appear to have occurred in that region during the last 2,000 years.

The findings come from a comprehensive geochemical analysis of sediment samples taken from Farewell Lake in a remote, environmentally sensitive area of Alaska. The work provides the first continuous record of temperature change spanning the last two millennia from that region, they write in the Aug. 21 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Doesn’t Anything Good Ever Happen to the Planet?" - "The world is in a funk, make that a blue funk.  Everywhere you look – on television, at least (thanks to ever-vigilant environmental reporters and politically astute producers) – there’s a gaudy freak-show of nature occurring: storms that bring massive flooding, non-storms that bring widespread drought and famine, disturbed seas heaving themselves beyond their bounds, new outbreaks of killer diseases, disappearing corals, and flaming forests that threaten nature, cities and government research labs alike.  Capping it all off, the litany of bad news is routinely blamed on global warming, which in turn is attributed to ever-increasing anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide." | SO2, CO, Smoke or Low Temperature: Which Kills More? | Urban Warming in China (co2science.org)

"Got to admit it's getting better" - "What sort of world will we leave to our children? Probably a cleaner, healthier one than we inherited, says academic Dr Bjorn Lomborg, author of the controversial new book The Skeptical Environmentalist. In the first of three-part series focusing on claims made in the book, Dr Lomborg explains why we should chill-out about global warming." (BBC Online)

"EU questions Pacific forum's stance on climate change" - "The European Union (EU) has questioned why this year's Pacific Island Forum leaders' meeting in Nauru seemed to avoid the issue of logging in its discussions on climate change. The head of the European Commission's general directorate for development, Christian Falkowski, says he is astonished that despite containing a strong statement about rising sea levels, the forum's final communiqué makes no mention of the Pacific's own contribution to global warming." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Falkowski doesn't get it, none of this is about illusory anthropogenic warming but all about getting wealthy Western nations, principally the U.S., to pay lots of money.

"Heads-Up from Antarctica" - "Dr. Wayne Trivelpiece, director of seabird research for the US Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program, and his colleagues have found that as seas have warmed, sea-ice formation in winter has become uncertain. Since the mid-1970s the annual formation of pack ice has no longer extended reliably to the north of the South Shetland Islands. Indeed, on average that range is being reached now in only two of every 8 years. ..." (climatenetwork.org)

A little dated but fully deserving a run in the Junkyard. The mid-1970s gives a baseline reference beginning right about the end of the global cooling scare, making it useless for any meaningful comparisons other than noting that the world does not seem headed precipitously into the next ice age. As far as declining Antarctic sea ice goes, that's a fallacy. Click here and here for brief reviews of papers indicating just the reverse.

For those who may be unaware, the South Shetlands are south of Cape Horn, north of the Antarctic Peninsula - smack in the middle of the Antarctic Warm Anomaly. Unlike the Antarctic generally, which shows a slight but consistent cooling trend, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed a couple of degrees. The British Antarctic Survey, who are studying this phenomenon, specifically deny any association with "global warming." Here's a cache copy of their "Retreating Ice Shelves Q&A" rebutting contrary claims about the Larsen Ice Shelf (they've since changed their site's domain name & I don't know the link for the current file). Here's the temperature track for Signy (British), and Orcadas (Argentinian), South Orkney Islands, these islands are of similar latitude, although east of the South Shetlands. Here's the track for Amundsen-Scott Base, South Pole, Antarctica, as far south as you can get, right in the centre of the Antarctic continent and where enhanced greenhouse forcing should exert its strongest influence on the coldest, driest surface air on the planet. [Temperature Tracks curtesy John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse]

Heads-Up from Antarctica? Trivelpiece might want to keep his head down and stop proliferating drivel pieces.

"Looking to the moon for better satellite images" - "For the first time, CSIRO and US scientists are using the moon to check and calibrate sensors on board weather satellites. The 'moon tuned' sensors are expected to provide a wealth of improved information about climate change and air pollution. "The moon is the perfect object to point the satellite sensors at in order to check them," says Dr Ian Grant from CSIRO Atmospheric Research." (CSIRO release)

"Deadly daylight: Skin cancer is nation's fastest-growing form of cancer; it's a threat even in gray Northwest" - "When Maureen Reagan, daughter of ex-president Ronald Reagan, died at 60 on Aug. 8, some people were surprised at the cause. "Skin cancer? I didn't think people died of that," said one Seattleite.

They do, of course, and more of them all the time. Skin cancer is the fastest-growing form of cancer in the country — even though it's one of the most preventable and is the target of research on many fronts, including the search for a vaccine. Scientists also just announced identification of a gene for melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer." (Seattle Times)

Sigh... it's not that daylight is deadly, although changes in lifestyle, fashion and available leisure time have certainly increased people's exposure to UV. Along with the doubling of average life expectancy, this means more skin cancer across the population. This does not mean you should avoid all exposure, however, since there are significant health benefits derived from sunlight. Just try really hard to avoid sunburn, which is when you do more harm than good.

"Retreat on Clean Air" - "Christie Whitman says that one of her main goals as President Bush's chief environmental officer is to streamline the Clean Air Act without diminishing its effectiveness. On the face of it, this is a laudable objective. Even Mrs. Whitman's predecessor at the Environmental Protection Agency, Carol Browner — who built a stellar record on clean air by aggressively using nearly every regulatory lever the act has to offer — was heard to complain about its complexity." (New York Times)

"Liberals brace for smog-plan backlash" - "OTTAWA -- The federal government is bracing for a backlash from consumers who may be upset by rising costs and disruption associated with new measures to cut pollution, documents obtained by The Globe and Mail say." (Globe and Mail)

"Canada fears Bush stalling on lawsuits" - "WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government may be on the brink of withdrawing from lawsuits that could lead to cleaner Canadian air, particularly in smog-filled Ontario." (Globe and Mail)

"Protesters arrested in smog sit-in" - "More than a hundred protesters jeered, sang and blocked traffic in front of Ontario Power Generation's downtown headquarters yesterday, demanding reductions in smog pollution." (Globe and Mail)

"Two Accused of Staging Mercury Contamination" - "CHICAGO, Aug. 21 — For a short while last year, the Fritzes of Arlington Heights became the first family of mercury contamination. Homeowners in northeastern Illinois had already been fretting about possible mercury leaks from a local gas company's meters, and the discovery of the toxic silvery beads inside the Fritz home last September seemed to confirm the worst fears." (New York Times)

"Study suggests link between popular arthritis medications, heart trouble" - "CHICAGO - While critics say the analysis is flawed and no cause for alarm, researchers have linked the popular and heavily promoted new arthritis drugs Vioxx and Celebrex to a small but troubling increase in the risk of heart attacks and strokes." (AP)

By "small" they mean "statistically insignificant association" - see also "big deal;" "so what?" ...

"UK: Scientists launch human trial to prove health benefits of drinking milk" - "Scientists from the Universities of Southampton and Reading have embarked on groundbreaking three-year human trials seeking to establish whether drinking cow’s milk can help boost the human body’s immune system. Following on from successful experiments conducted on mice and rats in the US, the British scientists are focusing on conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to see if the fat, which is only found in cow’s milk, can help the body fight viral infections and perhaps even reduce the growth of cancerous tumours. (just-food.com)

"Lycopene, beta-carotene no help to immune system" - "NEW YORK, Aug 21 - People over the age of 65 who are taking the dietary supplements lycopene or beta-carotene with the hope that they are bolstering their immune systems may be wasting their time and money, according to British researchers. "Supplementation with relatively low levels of beta-carotene or lycopene is not associated with either a beneficial or detrimental effect on several aspects of (immune cell health)," the researchers write in the August issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition." (Reuters Health)

"Bug-spray passengers lining up to sue" - "Travellers who claim they became sick from bug-killers sprayed in aircraft that fly to New Zealand and Australia are poised to sue a United States airline. A lawyer for the first claimants says thousands of other travellers may be lining up for compensation. The Herald earlier reported that flight attendants were suing United Airlines, but the new action is the first big legal move by passengers." (New Zealand Herald)

"Rule Takes Bite Out of Anti-Mosquito Effort" - "One of summer's most incessant pests has turned out to be a big beneficiary of a new policy protecting California's waterways: the bloodsucking, disease-carrying mosquito. Local agencies charged with hunting down and killing the insects say their never-ending battle suffered a severe blow last month when the state adopted restrictions on the use of aquatic pesticides--their best weapon against mosquito larvae." (LA Times)

"Forestalling pesticide, antibiotic resistance possible, theory predicts" - "WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – For years, farmers and agribusinesses have talked about being on the "pesticide treadmill": A few years after a pesticide is introduced, insects develop resistance to it. So another chemical is used – at least until the bugs overwhelm that one. Then another chemical is used. Then another. Then another. But Barry Pittendrigh, assistant professor of entomology at Purdue University, says it's possible to stop the treadmill, or at least slow it to a crawl." (Purdue News)

"Record Peanut Production by Farmers Using Mutants" - "In a major breakthrough, several groundnut farmers in the western Indian state of Maharahshtra have achieved a record production of up to 10.5 tonnes per hectare this summer with the genetically improved varieties developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) situated near the state capital Mumbai." (Press Trust Of India)

"Scientists find way to tame prions" - "Genetically engineered molecules that keep rogue proteins called prions from spreading may one day be a treatment for a family of degenerative brain disorders related to mad-cow disease. The engineered molecules, immune proteins called antibodies, appear to clear renegade prions by preventing them from binding to healthy cells." (Globe and Mail)

"Researchers make key genome public on the Internet" - "Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine, DuPont and the University of Campinas in Brazil, with partial funding from the National Science Foundation, have sequenced the genome of an important organism, Agrobacterium, and made it freely available on the Internet. This information is available at http://www.agrobacterium.org." (University of Washington)

"Food fights can't feed the hungry" - "BENEATH THE DEBATE in industrialized nations over biotechnology foods lies a tragic irony: Those who have the most may deny this promising technology to those who need it most. That is the conclusion of a recent United Nations report warning that the world's poorest cannot afford for its richest to stall biotechnology on the basis of scientifically unfounded fears. Without biotechnology, the UN's Human Development 2001 report says, developing nations may be unable to feed their rapidly expanding populations." (Hans Kornberg, Boston Globe)

"Market enforcers" - "Biotech firms found persuasion didn't work, so they are using a new tactic: coercion" (George Monbiot, Guardian)

Poor George, he just can't get a handle on baseless fear campaigns being ultimately unsustainable. Every time you cry wolf a few more percent of the population figure out that it's a waste of their time and effort listening. The great pity of it is that, should a genuine need ever arise to alert the population to a serious threat, they'll have been so inured to hysterical background noise that few, if any, will listen.

"Greenpeace and friends cry wolf (again) on biotech soybeans" - "The European Commission (EC) has delivered a well-deserved slap to the enviro-Nannies at Greenpeace, ruling that there is no scientific evidence that a particular brand of genetically improved soybeans poses any health risk whatsoever. Greenpeace had been crying wolf lately, after Belgian scientists found an unidentified string of DNA in the plant genome; but, as an EC spokesperson told the Reuters news service, "there is no reason to say the product is unsafe for the plant itself or for those who eat it."

Add this latest false alarm to Greenpeace's well-worn broken record, says the Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI). "Greenpeace is wrong again," says CGFI, having previously warned the world "that genetic engineering of crops would cause new and dangerous food allergies (it hasn't) and that biotech corn would endanger the Monarch butterfly (Monarchs are thriving, and field research says the biotech-protected corn is much safer for Monarchs than the alternative of pesticide sprays)."

Tanzania's Dr. Michael Mbwille, the Africa editor of the non-profit Food Security Network, is conscious of the damage done by Greenpeace and its food-scare partners; he used even stronger words. "Greenpeace," Mbwille wrote today, "prints and circulates these lies faster than the Code Red virus infected the world's computers. If we were to apply Greenpeace's scientifically illiterate standards for soya universally, there would be nothing left on our tables. That is because no one yet knows with complete precision the genetic makeup of any of the foods we eat; and of precious little else, for that matter. Even the prized organic comestibles that help pay for Greenpeace's food fear campaign must fall into this category. DNA is DNA, and there is no mystery about it, period."

Just one week ago, the Organic Consumers Association's Ronnie Cummins (another food-scare Nanny of the highest order) had this to say to Private Equity Week magazine: "We feel the hey-day of ag-biotech has peaked and it's going to be a downhill ride for them now, because no new countries are moving to produce genetically engineered crops." Someone had better show Ronnie Cummins this morning's New York Times. The Times noted that even New Zealand, long known for its acquiescence to Precautionary-Principle-weilding activists on biotech matters, has decided to move ahead with government trials of genetically improved crops." (GuestChoice.com)

"Feed us the facts" - "GLOBE ANALYSIS: This week, Ottawa serves up its report on genetically modified food. It may not satisfy public hunger for clear labels, says ethics writer MICHAEL VALPY" (Globe and Mail)

"Truth in labelling" - "A committee heavy with the agri-corp end of the food business has issued draft standards on labelling food containing "genetically modified organisms." The drafters invited public comment. But they released their draft on a summer Friday and it isn't available on a Web site — both signs that comment's the last thing they want. But they needn't wait for people to write for copies. They should withdraw the draft right now and redo it. What they've produced is so weak that it only meets the needs of those pushing genetically modified corn, soybeans and canola, not the needs of people who'd like to know when they're eating it. As their proposal stands, as much as 5 per cent of a food product could be altered — but producers could still label the food as being non-genetically modified." (Toronto Star Editorial)

"GM food labelling should be mandatory" - "Do you know whether genetically modified potatoes or sweet corn are being grown in Ontario? Does the Harris government even know if field trials for these crops are taking place." (Toronto Star editorial)

"Panel advises giving OK to animal feed containing 1% GMOs" - "TOKYO, Aug. 21 - An advisory panel to the farm ministry issued a report Tuesday advising the government to allow the sale of animal feed containing up to 1% of unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMOs). However, any genetically modified food variety imported from abroad should already have been approved by respective foreign authorities using the same safety testing standards as in Japan, the report said." (Kyodo News)

"Corn Growers Welcome Japanese Biotech Tolerances" - "Monday, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture approved a draft prosal setting a one percent tolerance for unapproved biotech hybrids in livestock feed. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) says they welcome the move, as it sets the stage for addressing StarLink-related problems." (AgWeb.com)

"Greenpeace in doll demo over GM baby food claim" - "Greenpeace activists have blocked the HQ of a Swiss-based food manufacturer with hundreds of baby puppets. Greenpeace says it found between 34 and 66% of soya in Gerber/Novartis baby food products sold in the Philippines was genetically modified. The company says its baby food is GM free and that it will investigate the claims." (Ananova)

"Legal bid to stop spread of GM trials" - "OPPONENTS of genetically modified crops are ready to take on the Scottish executive by mounting legal action to prevent further trials, The Scotsman has learned. The unprecedented move is aimed at halting tests of a pesticide on GM oil seed rape.

Protesters are set to seek a judicial review of the way ministers have handled the trials at Roskill Farm, on the Black Isle, near Inverness. They claim the executive did not comply with a European directive on the issue by failing to assess adequately the impact of the trials and not taking local opinion into account." (The Scotsman)

August 21, 2001

"Chemicals 101: Selling Anti-Environmentalism to Kids" - "When I started teaching 20 years ago, I could not have imagined such a perverse display -- industries and their front groups trying to justify everything from deforestation to the extinction of species:

  • The coal industry's Greening Earth Society passed out videos and teacher guides on the "fallacies" of global warming;
  • The "Temperate Forest Foundation" offered a video titled The Dynamic Forest, in which insects and fire hurt forests, but industry provides the needed remedies with the help of chain saws;
  • The American Farm Bureau, avowed enemies of environmental education, propositioned teachers to reconsider the dangers of chemical herbicides and insecticides.

They were selling lies, and the teachers were buying -- quickly filling their bags with curricula as corrosive as the pesticides that the Farm Bureau promotes.

Where were the largest environmental groups to counter this frontal assault on environmental education? Where was the outcry of the educational community? Most Americans consider our public schools to be hallowed ground, where young people learn about the world through carefully chosen curriculum. Yet corporations now view schools as convenient locations for the dissemination of propaganda "debunking" environmental concerns." (John F. Borowski, VegSource Interactive, Inc.)

Actually John, this was simply the real world redressing some of the environmental propaganda that has been shovelled over kids for decades. They weren't "selling lies" but rather giving away materials promoting a perspective that differs from your own misanthropically warped worldview. Your hysterical (and possibly actionably slanderous) response is regrettable typical of so-called environmentalists - spout male bovine excreta and accuse anyone with a different perspective of being the big-profit bad guy.

Such a shame you haven't figured out that much of today's wildlands exist only because farm productivity has been so boosted by the very chemicals you so despise. Given any thought to the ol' "renewable resource" line pushed by greens over the decades John? Ever noticed that forest products are, in fact, renewables? Thought not. How 'bout the generally accepted view that fossil fuels are the remains of ages old biota - that derived its carbon content from the atmosphere originally; or that liberation of that carbon to atmosphere is actually restoring that which existed naturally; or maybe that humanity's actions are helping the biosphere to recover from the life-inhibiting disaster of excessive sequestration? Didn't stop to consider that either eh?

Curious isn't it John? The very things you view as environmental disasters I see as environmental saviours. The difference between us is that I consider you misguided but you'd call me a liar because I view things differently from you. There's perhaps one more difference John - I'm not paid to hold my views. -- B.H.

"Science Education Paradox; How Can The Same System Produce Scientific Elites And Illiterates?" - "The United States by any conceivable measure has the finest scientists in the world. But the rest of the population, by any rational standard, is abysmally ignorant of science, mathematics and all things technical. That is the paradox of scientific elites and scientific illiterates: how can the same system of education that produced all those brilliant scientists also have produced all that ignorance?" (David Goodstein, Technology Review)

"Fear Factor" (Michael Katz, Forbes Magazine)

"Fungiphobia" - "The cover shows a woman in a white biohazard suit standing in front of a staircase, her face obscured by a respirator mask. "Lurking, Choking, Toxic Mold," it says, with "Mold" in giant type, spanning the full width of the cover. Inside, under the heading "Haunted by Mold," a blurb summarizes the plot: "It grows in the walls. It chokes your child and renders your husband senseless." In short, it’s your "worst nightmare." This is not a horror novel. It’s the cover story of the August 12 New York Times Magazine." (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

"Health" foods? "Sprouts infected thousands in late 1990s: report" - "NEW YORK, Aug 20 - Raw sprouts can be hazardous to your health, investigators warn. Sprouts from contaminated alfalfa and clover seeds were responsible for a series of outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness and urinary tract infections in the late 1990s, according to researchers at the California Department of Health and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

"As currently produced, sprouts can be a hazardous food. Seeds can be contaminated before sprouting, and no method can eliminate all (disease-causing organisms) from seeds," Dr. Janet C. Mohle-Boetani of the Division of Communicable Disease Control in Berkeley, California, and colleagues report in the August 21st issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The research team recommends that seed and sprout growers make efforts to reduce contamination, and that people with weak immune systems avoid sprouts altogether." (Reuters Health)

"Copper answer to food poisoning" - "A greater use of copper benches and sinks in kitchens could help combat dangerous bacteria such as E.coli, say researchers. They have found that the metal appears to have bacteria-killing properties. A team from the University of Southampton found that E.coli 0157, one of the more dangerous strains of the bug, can live for more than a month on stainless steel. This is the material used in most commercial kitchens and food processing plants. However, at room temperature, copper killed the bacteria in just four hours. Even at cooled temperatures it killed the bacteria in 14 hours." (BBC Online)

"Roddick launches Body Shop 'Boycott Esso' protest" - "Body Shop founder Anita Roddick is urging a boycott of Esso over its support for George Bush's withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol." (Ananova)

Esso Dismisses Green Campaign Allegations - "LONDON - Esso dismissed a boycott campaign against it by Green campaigners including Body Shop founder Anita Roddick as ``ridiculous'' on Monday." (Reuters)

"Electric Gold" - "Lee Iacocca is introducing a souped-up, zero-emission golf cart. California's regulators will make it quite profitable." (John Turrettini, Forbes Magazine)

"Junk Economics" - "How do you win an antitrust case? Go after the other guy's economist.

Pity the poor economist. Practitioners of the dismal science, they're the guys who get laughed at for predicting six of the last two recessions. Now their lives are getting worse. Defense lawyers are starting to attack economists in antitrust cases for practicing what might kindly be called junk economics. And courts are listening." (Michael Freedman, Forbes Magazine)

"There’s Gold in That Dirty Mess; The Kyoto deal will take a lot of pollution out of the atmosphere—and put some of it on trading floors. The profits of clean air" - "Aug. 27 issue — Now you’ve seen everything: a giant multinational getting credit for saving the rain forest. Prodded by an NGO called The Nature Conservancy, General Motors recently parted with $10 million to help rebuild a Brazilian forest that had been devastated by water-buffalo ranching. An altruistic move by a corporate behemoth? Yes and no. While GM says its aim was to “restore and preserve” the rain forest, national or international governing bodies may eventually award the company credits for the carbon dioxide that those trees will absorb over the next 40 years. GM might then be able to use those credits to help meet its own requirements for cutting emissions of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. In this case, what’s good for GM is good for the world’s environment." (Newsweek)

Just one minor point... CO2 ain't a "pollutant" - it's a trace gas vital to life on Earth.

"Rainforest soaks just buying time" - "THE world's reliance on its rainforests to clean up the atmosphere was short-sighted, a leading researcher in the US said yesterday. Dr Joe Berry said rainforests' ability to absorb carbon dioxide was expected to be saturated by the middle of the 21st century. "At the moment they're buying us time to change over to something other than a carbon-based . . . economy," said Dr Berry, the Carnegie Institute's chief investigator of rainforest research." (The Advertiser, South Australia)

"EU says no evidence that U.S. GM soybeans unsafe" - "BRUSSELS, Aug 20 - The European Commission said on Monday there was no scientific evidence that unidentified DNA fragments in gene-modified soybeans made the product unsafe. Belgian scientists discovered gene fragments in Roundup Ready soybeans, grown from seeds developed by biotechnology giant Monsanto Co. which are spliced with a bacterium to make them resistant to Roundup herbicide. ``From a scientific point of view there is no reason to say the product is unsafe,'' Commission spokeswoman Andrea Dahmen told a news briefing." (Reuters) | Publication Regarding Herbicide-tolerant Soybeans; Claims of Mystery DNA Mislead (Marcia Vincent, Technical Communications Manager, Monsanto)

"Natural antifreeze may protect crops, organs for transplants" - "Researchers have found a way to synthesise an antifreeze in the bodies of fish living in polar seas, which could eventually protect crops from frost and preserve human organs destined for transplants, according to a study which has been released." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | Synthetic antifreeze could prevent ice growth (ACS release)

"Science Group Protests Sri Lankan Biotech Ban; Agbioworld Foundation Calls For Support Of Beneficial Technology" - "The AgBioWorld Foundation called upon the Sri Lankan government to rethink its ban on biotechnology food imports imposed earlier this month. "This was a reckless decision," said C.S. Prakash, professor of plant genetics and president of the AgBioWorld Foundation. "And it will prevent the Sri Lankan people from benefiting from this safe and promising technology." (Agbioworld Foundation)

"Proposed GM food labels called "meaningless" - "MONTREAL - Greenpeace Canada has denounced draft federal standards for voluntary labelling of genetically modified (GM) food. The environmental group says the standards are much weaker than those in Europe and will allow more GM "contamination" in Canada's food." (CBC)

"Genetically Modified Crops -- What Do Scientists Say?" - "In covering the issue of genetically modified crops, the national media have generally reported the views of anti-biotech interest group representatives, biotechnology company spokespersons and of federal regulatory agency officials. Often not reported in news stories in the national debate on this science question are the views of individual plant biologists. However, plant scientists with in-depth knowledge of modern transformation technologies offer views on this subject which merit public dissemination." (Checkbiotech.org)

"These plants eat nails for breakfast" - "Researchers say they are close to harnessing the enormous potential of "metal-eating" plants to clean contaminated land or be reaped for their metals in a smelter. "These plants have this extraordinary capacity to accumulate metals and we've now seen how they do it," said David Salt, a plant molecular physiologist and the leader of the study. Within two years, he said, cloned hyperaccumulators could facilitate phytoremediation, the use of the plants to clean up contaminated land.Scientists have enjoyed some success with phytoremediation experiments, but most known hyperaccumulators are small. By genetically modifying larger plants to become hyperaccumulators they could speed the process, making way for development in brownfields, urban sites left unusable by industrial tenants. Newly engineered hyperaccumulators could also pave the way for phytomining, the process of smelting hyperaccumulator crops and reaping their metals for other uses." (Jon Bricker, National Post)

"Sri Lanka Urged To Postpone GM Food Controls" - "COLOMBO, Aug 20 - Sri Lanka's business community appealed to the government on Monday to delay plans to bring back tough controls on genetically modified (GM) food on September 1." (Reuters)

"Genetically Modified Plants: Monsters or Miracles?" - "The term GMO or genetically modified organism has recently come to designate organisms, especially plants, which have been altered by adding one or a few genes through recombinant DNA techniques. This is now often contrasted with what is called "traditional" plant breeding techniques. The use of recombinant DNA techniques, collectively termed "genetic engineering" has come to be viewed as something altogether new and different from anything that "traditional" plant breeders do. Some even see it as "unnatural" and the potential source of mutant plants that could be harmful to the environment and human health." (Nina Fedoroff, Life Sciences Consortium and Biotechnology Institute, The Pennsylvania State University)

"Comparing Spending on 'Anti-Biotechnology in the World' and for 'Biotechnology Research in the Developing World'" - "See below the latest Annual Report from Greenpeace. It shows that Greenpeace's received a global income in the past year of 143 million Euros (US$ 131.28 million) and it spent 7 million Euros (US$ 6.52 million) — an almost double of its expense in 1999 — in opposing agricultural biotechnology worldwide. This number is just by Greenpeace alone, and we must recognize that many millions in addition were spent cumulatively by other organizations such as FOE, Western-funded local NGOs, organic-coalitions etc.

If one assumes conservatively that about $15 million was spent last year on anti-biotechnology activism, just consider how much progress could have been made if this (along with the funds to counter this by the industry) were to be used to fund agricultural research in the developing countries including all sustainable options to improve food security. Think also of all the damage being done to thwart the progress and the missed opportunities in research investment. Currently the investment in biotechnology research at the CGIAR centers (the most important potential developers of the technology for the poor in the developing world) is pitiful; for instance the total budget at the International Rice Research Institute on transgenic rice research impacting 4 billion people was about $1 million." (C.S. Prakash, Agiobioworld via foodsecurity.net)

"Saving Lives Through Research; Vitamin A Deficiency and Dr. Alfred Sommer" - "The loss of eyesight can be among the most serious misfortunes to befall anyone. Although the exact number of blind persons in the world is not precisely known, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are about 40 million blind persons in the world, with a further 110 million persons with low vision, who are at risk of becoming blind. Furthermore, according to the WHO, nine out of ten blind people live in the developing world. Tragically, more than two-thirds of today's blindness could be prevented or treated. Apart from the personal toll involved, blindness also imposes a considerable economic burden on society-in India and the USA, for instance, the cost of blindness to society is estimated conservatively by the WHO at $4.6 and $4.1 billion respectively." (Lasker Foundation)

"New report on regulation of GM food due Tuesday" - "A federal-government advisory committee widely criticized as biased in favour of the biotechnology industry will publish a report Tuesday on the regulation of genetically modified food that is expected to be a careful attempt to find consensual middle ground." (Globe and Mail)

"A Step Forward for Genetic Engineering in New Zealand" - "AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Aug. 20 — The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification has recommended that research on genetically modified crops and animals "proceed with caution," elating the nation's biotechnology interests while dismaying opponents of the technology, particularly the nation's influential Green Party.

The commission's report explicitly rejects the idea of a nation free of genetically modified crops and animals, saying it would not be in New Zealand's social, environmental or economic interests. Although it calls for a number of additional restrictions on genetic modifications, the report argues that the technology can be used "in a way that does not threaten New Zealand's `clean green' image." (New York Times)

August 19-20, 2001

Apparently, "All the news that's fit to print" includes whining that the Bush-Cheney Administration is not the plaything of the radical green movement. At least, that's the impression given by New York Times with their editorial No Greens Need Apply and companion piece Norton Charts a Different Course for the Interior Department. Just who died and made the misanthropists of some value to society and/or the planet remains unclear.

NYT seems unaware that the environment has improved greatly over the last century, at least in the wealthy West. Nor do they appear to realize that this improvement is the result of technological advance and, most significantly, wealth generation. Only where societal surplus exists, of both finance and effort beyond mere subsistence, do populations desire and support conservation and restoration - wealthy peoples like to have "nice" places and make available as wildlife habitat those regions not immediately required by the society. Oddly, NYT ignores the fact that these actions are optional and can only be supported in the long term if they do not unduly inhibit wealth generation or the society that hosts and supports them.

It isn't green obstructionism that fosters conservation and environmentalism but rather net societal wealth. Strangling society with green bureaucracy simply destroys society's ability to afford the preservation and restoration that wealthy peoples desire. If we, as a society, were to pay the kind of attention to green misanthropists that NYT seems to think they deserve then most of the great farming advances of the past 5 decades or so would be banned, productivity would plummet and, far from an increase in forest and wildlands as previously cleared farmlands have been abandoned and allowed to revert, increasing amounts would be under the plough. Tough luck for wildlife if low productivity "organic" farming should become too fashionable but that's where "greens" would have us go.

By encouraging, or at least not unnecessarily obstructing wealth generation, the Bush-Cheney Administration is actively encouraging environmentalism while a posturing NYT is in favor of inhibiting society's ability to be environmentally friendly. Who'd a figured the NYT wants to trash the planet?

"Stop Living" - "One solution to polluted drinking water is to simply not drink. That will reduce deaths from poisoning, but increase deaths massively from dehydration. One solution to road accidents is to never travel. One solution to sexually transmitted diseases is celibacy for everyone. One solution to internet porn is to disband the internet. Such is the absurd type of reasoning made in a peer-reviewed scientific paper in Science (v.293, p.1257, 17 Aug 2001), titled `Hidden Health Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation'." | Two Coolings Make One Warming - Updates (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

The Week That Was August 18, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"UK launches world’s first national emissions trading programme" - "The Government has launched its £215 million UK Emissions Trading Scheme, which could cut up to two million tonnes of carbon a year from the atmosphere by 2010 and generate new job and investment opportunities for industry.

The scheme will significantly increase the value and size of the global emission trade, which the World Bank has estimated to be worth about US$100 million, involving roughly 55 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions reductions." (Edie news)

That looks about right, the U.K. gummint wasting £215 million of public monies on a nonsense scheme to limit emissions of the most globally useful gas liberated by human action. The biosphere thrives on CO2 and, despite misanthropists' hysterical pronouncements, there's no known downside to returning it to the atmosphere from whence it originally came. What a stupid game this is.

"CBI chief in 'shelve climate levy' plea" - "CBI chief Digby Jones has called on the Government to suspend the Climate Change Levy in a bid to bolster the UK's ailing manufacturing sector. The levy, introduced in April, has been imposed on electricity generators who use fossil fuels. It is part of a European Union campaign to reduce harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide. But the generators' non-domestic customers are subsequently picking up the tab - they are facing an average 5% hike in bills - and the CBI Director-General said the Government should take note of this." (Belfast Telegraph)

From the PCGCC (Pew Center for Generating Climate Claptrap?): "The Climate Challenge Begins at Home" - "Now that the rest of the world has resolved to move ahead with the Kyoto global warming treaty, pressure is mounting on the Bush administration to get back in the game." (Washington Post)

"Firms climb toward 'climate neutral'" - "Here's a quiz. For all the talk about slowing global warming, which of the following have taken steps to do it:

  1. Countries that have just agreed to implement the Kyoto Protocol?
  2. Environmental groups?
  3. Some of the world's biggest polluters? (Christian Science Monitor)

Still continues the myth that CO2 is a "pollutant" but makes the point that only alleged "polluters" are actually doing anything while the accusers engage in pure rhetoric.

"A Deal Rescuing Nothing" - "NEW YORK -- The 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming seemed headed for the dustbin of history when the Bush administration declared last March that it was pulling out. Then in July, Europe led a coalition of nearly all the world's nations--minus the U.S.--to rescue the Kyoto pact with a grand compromise. The deal, in fact, rescues nothing. In their zeal to get a deal--any deal--the Europeans and environmentalists crafted an agreement that is acceptable to so many nations precisely because it will have no impact on the emissions of the greenhouse gases. In its quest to kill the treaty, the Bush administration has, ironically, driven the rest of the world to embrace Kyoto rather than face the need to fix its flaws." (LA Times)

"EU aims to achieve Kyoto through energy efficiency" - "BRUSSELS - Forget nuclear power, hydrogen-fueled cars and carbon "sinks" - the low-cost, low-tech way to cut greenhouse gas emissions is loft insulation and double glazing, European Union lawmakers are claiming." (Reuters)

"Tropical seabirds are warming to Britain's welcoming waters" - "Unusual seabirds from the furthest corners of the world are converging on British waters this summer as the effects of global warming disrupt migratory patterns. The increased presence of whales, dolphins and other sea creatures also points to increased feeding potential linked to climate change." (Independent)

More likely the warm phase of the NAO is responsible but that isn't near as interesting to global warming hysterics is it. See http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/NAO/; http://www.met.rdg.ac.uk/cag/NAO/; http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/data/teledoc/nao.html for more on the North Atlantic Oscillation.

They are right, however, about a warmer world being more life-friendly, which makes the coverage given to global warming hand-wringers' claims of looming disaster all the stranger.

"Scientists see way to make nuclear waste safe" - "Physicists believe they are close to the Holy Grail for the world's nuclear industry, a solution to the critical problems posed by its growing stockpile of nuclear waste. In what seems like an unlikely act of modern alchemy, an elite group of nuclear physicists believe they can "transmute" highly radioactive nuclear waste into lower grade radioactive waste." (Independent)

"A Tug of War Over Energy Consumption; New Demands Offset Gains in Efficiency" - "First, human behavior has interceded to move the goalposts. More people are wealthy today, so they buy bigger houses and outfit them with central air conditioning and a heated pool. Their household appliances may be much more efficient than they were 20 years ago, but there are many more of them. Also, electronics and telecommunications, the pillars of today's technological revolution, have become conservation's most important new allies and its most aggressive new enemies." | 'Vampire' Devices Consume Power While Not in Use (Washington Post)

"End the emissions hassles" - "Forcing motorists to spend half a day (or more) in line awaiting a state emissions inspection might be justified – if cleaner air were the result. But the reality is these mandatory programs are largely a waste of time and money. Instead of cleaning up the air, all they do is clean out motorists' wallets." (Washington Times editorial)

And the Henny Penny award goes to... "Britain's asteroid defence station goes ahead" - "MORE than 65m years after a disaster from space probably wiped out the dinosaurs, the government is proposing a national research centre to protect mankind from the same fate.

Lord Sainsbury, the science minister, will launch a competition this week for the contract to build a centre to research and explain the danger of human life being snuffed out by a giant asteroid. Museums and astronomical observatories will be invited to submit tenders to build and house the new multi-million-pound centre." (Sunday Times) | Asteroid centre to assess chances of fatal impact (Independent)

"Danger lurks in heavenly waft of incense - report" - "The alarm bells are out for New Age meditators –and for old hippies - after a New Scientist report has shown incense to be far more carcinogenic than cigarette smoking. The findings drew a pointed response from Green MP and cannabis law reform campaigner Nandor Tanczos: "I think that it (incense) should be banned and police given powers to stop and search anyone for it who are wearing orange robes." However, churches that use it, notably the Catholic Church, said use was so minimal that any risk to congregations was inconsequential." (The Dominion)

"It hurts and it's debilitating, but few will admit to RSI" - "It's the forgotten workplace injury. Styled as a rort in the 1980s, when compensation claims peaked, repetitive strain injury has become the hidden Australian workplace epidemic, according to medical experts." (The Age)

Actually, it's not forgotten in Australia - it's just doubtful that it ever really existed.

"Computer games stunt teen brains" - "Hi-tech maps of the mind show that computer games are damaging brain development and could lead to children being unable to control violent behaviour" says The Observer

"Leukaemia inhibitory factor in human milk" - "NEW DELHI: That mother's milk is a storehouse of beneficial compounds for the infant is well known but now scientists have discovered a substance in it that protects the child from tissue injury and septic shock. The leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) has been isolated from human milk samples by scientists in the Department of Experimental Medicine and Biotechnology in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Chandigarh." (Times of India)

"Baldness linked to heart disease" - "As if life was not hard enough for men who go bald before their time, they have now been told they may well succumb to heart disease as well. New research by dermatologists has shown a clear link between men who lose their hair before the age of 30 and later problems including heart attacks and angina." (Independent)

Silly season recycling: "Tracking sex hormone pollution" - "Scientists have developed a way to measure the concentration of the female sex hormone oestrogen in river water. The technique can also be used to monitor oestrogen levels in water supplies destined for human consumption. Small quantities of oestrogens are excreted from the body and enter the sewage system. Although these chemicals seem to be largely removed in sewage treatment, it seems that minute quantities remain and thus can enter rivers to which treated sewage is discharged." (BBC Online)

So-called evidence of declining sperm counts is less than compelling, to say the least. Japanese studies citing the feminisation of male fish refer to discrete locations where hormone pollution levels are truly extraordinary and it would be surprising if no effects were found.

"Private study claims to find high dioxin levels" - "An Auckland environmental scientist claims to have proof that some Paritutu, New Plymouth, properties have far higher levels of dioxin in their soil than the national average. But the scientist and those who commissioned the soil samples declined to make public the report.

Dr Fitzpatrick did say, however, that the highest level of dioxin in the soils sent to the USA was 19 parts per trillion (ppt). The lowest was 0.7ppt. But Taranaki Regional Council (TRC) technical services manager Gary Bed ford said the findings were no cause for concern. The New Zealand guideline for dioxin in residential areas was 1500ppt, he said.

An investigation by Taranaki medical officer of health, Patrick O'Connor, released last week, found no evidence of high rates of illness in current Paritutu residents." (The Daily News, NZ)

"Who gets cancer?" - "Each week the media seems to announce another cancer breakthrough, accompanied by sensational headlines that have been called "the pornography of cancer". Breathlessly we are told how we get cancer, how we can avoid it, or how the latest medical breakthrough will cure us. The problem is, hardly any of these stories are true." (The Age)

"Meat firms deny role in spread of BSE" - "Only one British food company is prepared to admit it may have used mechanically recovered meat (MRM) during the height of the BSE epidemic, despite tons of the slurry being produced for human consumption in the late Eighties." (Independent)

The industry is reluctant to be subjected to trial by media and The Indy professes to be surprised?

"Rio falls apart down Mexico way" - "Taxol, the drug used in cancer treatment, was originally discovered in the bark of the Pacific yew tree, which grows in the forests of the north-west US. Curare, a constituent of the arrow poison used by Colombian and Ecuadorian Indians, has been widely used as a muscle relaxant in surgery. And Taq polymerase, which is used in DNA fingerprinting, was discovered inside a micro-organism living within the geothermal springs at the Yellowstone National Park in the US.

It is an enduring feature of human psychology that just a few key examples will generally stick in the mind and work on the imagination far more effectively than any number of statistics - so people are optimistic about playing in lotteries and pessimistic about the safety of nuclear power. But the very success of some research discoveries is now, perversely, hampering efforts to catalogue and preserve knowledge of the world's diverse biology." (Financial Times)

"Mystery DNA?; No, just more unfounded fears from Greenpeace" - "Mystery DNA found in soya!" trumpeted the headlines spurred by Greenpeace's well-heeled propaganda machinery throughout the globe. Greenpeace's web sites boldly warns of "unknown" and "alien" genes found in biotechnology-improved soya suggesting heretofore uncharted dangers and risks.

By Greenpeace's scientifically illiterate standards, all foods should now be banned due to our lack of complete awareness of their genetic make-up." (Michael Mbwille, FoodSecurity.net)

"Corn Cloth Causes Stir At Market" - "A new fleecelike fabric made from corn rather than petroleum is being touted as revolutionary by its inventor at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market at the Salt Palace Convention Center. But at least one major outdoor retailer -- Patagonia Inc. -- is refusing to use the new textile until it can be made from corn that has not been genetically engineered." (Salt Lake Tribune)

Patagonia Inc., again. If they're really so worried about biotech-enhanced product then perhaps they shouldn't eat this cloth...

"'Superfish' to ease food shortage" - "A genetically-modified "superfish" could be the key to easing food shortages in the developing world as well as helping accident victims, according to researchers. The tilapia is said to be the second most important food fish in the world, after the carp. Now geneticists at Southampton University hope to increase the speed of its growth through genetic modification. It is also hoped that the research will lead to the cheap production of a blood-clotting agent, which is used in treating injuries." (BBC Online)

"Rootworm: A Biotech Boon?; Corn Designed to Kill Common Pest Stirs Hope as Pesticide Alternative" - "WAYNESBORO, Va. -- Armed with a shovel and a machete, two men entered a lush stand of corn ripening on a rolling Shenandoah Valley farm and began digging up stalks to examine the roots. The corn looked healthy, and entirely normal.

But below ground, something with potentially great implications was happening: An especially destructive and widespread pest, the corn rootworm, was being killed without the use of chemical pesticides. Genetic engineering was employed instead, and the men were there to study the results." (Washington Post)

"Soybean Industry Dealing with China Rules" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. soybean industry, hoping to minimize disruptions to a major export market, is asking China to set a transition period for new rules on imported foods that have been genetically modified. On June 6, China put into effect rules governing genetically modified organisms. But the details on how the regulations are to be implemented still have not been laid out by China." (Reuters)

Strengthening the case for biotech? "Toxic Food Kills Boy, Affects 680 in Indian State" - "GUWAHATI, India - A 14-year-old boy died and 30 more fell ill in India's Assam state, where 680 people have reported sick after eating insecticide-contaminated food in the past nine days, officials said on Sunday." (Reuters)

"India still studying commercial use of GM foods" - "NEW DELHI - Citing safety concerns, India said last week it had allowed several research studies but not yet approved the commercial production and use of genetically modified foods in the country." (Reuters)

August 18, 2001

Yesterday, JunkScience.com featured the ridiculous coverage of yet more nonsense from, as Sorry, wrong number! puts it, one of the great apostles of scare, Devra Lee Davis. We must apologize for omitting an absolute gem by Joseph Brean, National Post. So carefully did Brean examine this "study" that he managed to relocate it to the U.K. publication, Nature. Joe, the citation you seek is Hidden Health Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, [Luis Cifuentes, Victor H. Borja-Aburto, Nelson Gouveia, George Thurston, Devra Lee Davis. Science 293, 1257-1259] Click here for the article in PDF (166Kb).

Oh, and Joe? JunkScience.com featured this junk in part because Davis et al generated it by relying on the methodology of a misanthropic, anti-technology advocacy group:

One framework for conducting such analyses has been developed by S. Farrow et al., in Improving Regulation: Cases in Environment, Health and Safety, P. Fischbeck and S. Farrow, Eds. (Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, 2001), pp. 429–442.

Resources for the Future Joe? They're a clinging-to-the-left-edge-of-a-flat-Earth lobby group and Devra Lee doesn't appear a whole lot further up the evolutionary tree. Joe, you should ought to apologize to Nature Magazine - they're apt to be pretty insulted by your insinuation they published junk like this. What Science's excuse may be we simply cannot imagine, 'though it appears associated with E-in-C Don Kennedy's conversion to enhanced greenhouse religion.

This year's iteration of the annual "global warming drowning island nations" myth: "Ocean claims PNG atolls" - "PEOPLE are starving on a group of atolls in north-east Papua New Guinea as the ocean drowns low-lying islands. Coupled with fierce monsoon rains on the neighbouring island of Bougainville, up to 50,000 people are said to be facing famine in the region. On Thursday, North Solomons (Bougainville) provincial administrative secretary Francis Kabano said his appeals for food and other aid had been met by a deafening silence from the National Disaster and Emergency Service in the capital, Port Moresby.

"In the case of the atolls, the people of the Carterets are now starving," Mr Kabano said. The disaster coincides with the convening of the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru, where discussion of global warming and rising sea levels is at the top of the agenda. On all the Carterets atolls, rising sea levels have lifted the soil salt levels, causing banana and vegetable crops to wither." (Courier-Mail)

The situation of the Caterets population is tragic, certainly no laughing matter. The nonsense regurgitated regarding causation is, however, something of a joke. Since they're recycling the nonsense we'll be good global citizens and help out by recycling last year's items, along with the responses of the day (and besides, we're not prepared to waste any more time on this junk):

September 27, 2000 - PNG atolls hit by rising sea levels - "Communities on Bougainville's atoll islands most threatened by rising sea levels are calling on the provincial government to assist in resettling them. They include the outer atolls of Mortlock, Nuguria, Tasman, Nissan and Carterets groups. Since the 1960s, the Carterets group has suffered the effects of global warming commonly known as the greenhouse effect.

Shorelines of the atoll islands have been washed away at an alarming rate by rising seas and the islanders fear that in the next five to 10 years, some the atolls will be flooded. The Bougainville provincial government at one stage had a resettlement programme where Carteret Islanders from the most affected atolls were resettled in central Bougainville. However, they returned home to the islands after the troubles on the mainland worsened in 1990." (Radio Australia)

Oh good grief! What utter nonsense! PacNews, echoed by at least the LA Times, ran the real reason last November. Under News Briefs, 11/11/99, sub-headed, "Sinking Islands", here's what the LA Times printed:

A group of islands in New Guinea is sinking into the Pacific at the rate of 4 to 6 inches a year, and a team of government scientists has recommended that their 20,000 residents be quickly relocated to a larger island. The Duke of York Islands are sinking not because of rising sea levels, but because of seismic activity. In 1994, two volcanoes on opposite sides of one of the islands erupted for four months. When the activity ceased, evacuees moved back, but the regional news service Pacnews now reports that further subsidence is forcing officials to move the inhabitants to the Gazelle Peninsula on New Britain. Many buildings on the islands are already under water.

Situated at the south-western end of the Pacific "Ring of Fire", these islands are not geologically stable and certainly do not make suitable platforms from which to measure mean sea level.

Australia is geologically stable, has a huge Pacific shore and, according to National Tidal Facility data, struggles to find sea level change in the order of one-half of one inch per century. Tuvalu, further to the east and frequent howler about "sea level rise", displays no trend at the Funafuti tide gauge.

So, why would there be such specious reports and who would be making them? We didn't have to wait even an hour to find out - here's the answer:

September 27, 2000 - Global warming campaign launched in the Pacific - "A coalition of non-government organisations in the Pacific has launched a campaign demanding action from Pacific leaders to reduce global warming. The campaign aims to give the World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace and the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre a stronger voice at the international climate change summit to be held at The Hague, in November.

World Wide Fund for Nature spokesman Cedric Schuster says it wants to get as many signatures on petitions as possible from Pacific islanders. He says these petitions will be presented to the Heads of Governments at the Pacific Islands Forum in Kiribati next month. Under the Kyoto Protocol, industrialised nations are charged with reducing their greenhouse emissions by 60-80 percent. Greenpeace says unless industrialised nations reduce their greenhouse emissions, fragile ecosystems like coral reefs in the Pacific, will continue to be threatened by climate change." (Radio Australia)

The World Wide Font of Nonsense, GREENP$$CE and PCRC. Imagine that...

Ever wonder why we afford the `peas no license on credibility?

"The secret to David McTaggart's [early officer in Greenpeace] success is the secret to Greenpeace's success: It doesn't matter what is true ... it only matters what people believe is true ... You are what the media define you to be. [Greenpeace] became a myth, and a myth-generating machine." - Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and founder Sea Shepard Conservation Society.

"If you don't know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then .... make it up on the spot ... for the mass-media today ... the truth is irrelevant." -- Paul Watson in Earthforce: An Earth Warrior's Guide to Strategy.

Small wonder that co-founder Dr Patrick Moore abandoned the organisation he helped found and which derisively calls him "Dr Truth". Greenpeace specialise in fraudulent misrepresentation for fundraising purposes, so much so that disillusioned former members have established an exposé site.

WWF have seemingly abandoned all pretence of a nature conservancy in favour of spurious scare campaigns, witness their bizarre behaviour over chemicals when they tried to frighten breastfeeding mothers over the welfare of their babies, current anti-biotechnology campaign and bogus global warming "study" - see a rather more prosaic report of the press conference.

PCRC is actually the NFIP (Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement). According to their website "The NFIP Movement links and unites church leaders, representatives of independence movements, land rights activists, women’s rights campaigners, environmental groups people in the island countries of the South Pacific, and NFIP activists and indigenous peoples from the countries of the Pacific Rim." Their agenda on transportation of MOX fuels, plutonium, mining, forests, climate, POPs and TBT looks suspiciously like it was written by the `peas or WWF or maybe both. No funding details are provided on the site but it has all the appearance of another front organisation for the rabid green web. Regardless, the "rising seas" claim is complete nonsense and the ABC should have known the background on the sinking islands. This leaves us wondering why they broadcast such garbage.

Not to be outdone, The Indy followed up with: November 30, 2000 - 1,000 flee as sea begins to swallow up Pacific islands - "As the world's wealthiest nations bickered about carbon dioxide credits in The Hague last weekend, the inhabitants of a remote group of coral atolls on the other side of the planet were watching the Pacific Ocean advance inexorably towards their homes. ... The islands, together with neighbouring atolls such as Takuu, home to a small community of "singing" Polynesians, are likely to be the first to be engulfed by the effects of global warming." (Independent)

Do we all feel better for having got that out of our systems? Do you suppose we can concentrate on actual causes of real world problems now? Probably not:

"Islanders press Bush on global warming" - "Leaders of the world's smallest island nations in the Pacific are demanding a meeting with President George W Bush to try to win his support as rising sea levels threaten low-lying atolls. Representatives from Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Cook and Marshall Islands have warned of an environmental catastrophe if efforts to stop global warming are not speeded up." (BBC Online)

"Atoll nations to take fears straight to Bush" - "Low-lying Pacific island nations, warning of a potential "holocaust", have decided to go to Washington in an attempt to see President George Bush and implore him to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate change." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Pacific Island leaders to urge US to reconsider Kyoto position" - "Pacific Island Forum leaders have agreed to ask the United States to reconsider its position on climate change. But Australia has avoided having itself tied to any overt attack on the US. The Forum Communiqué will be released today." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"$20 Million Effort Seeks to Predict Climate Change" - "OAK RIDGE, TN, August 15, 2001 - A research effort headed by two National Laboratories is looking to develop a climate model that will provide a scientific basis for evaluating policy alternatives related to greenhouse gas emissions.

The climate modeling programs that are to be developed will seek to unravel the complexities that balance atmospheric and ocean flows with incoming solar radiation and weather events. The project focuses on model development and the software design and engineering required for the climate research community to develop and maintain high-quality climate prediction capability that effectively uses high-performance computers.

"We have two primary goals," Drake said. "First, to restructure and redesign the climate model components with a view to enhancing performance on a range of computing platforms, and, second, to extend the model for more realistic climate simulations by including interactive carbon cycles." (EarthVision Environmental News)

Mrs Brown's recipe for rabbit pie used to read "First, catch your rabbit..." The recipe for a decent climate model should begin "First, discover your climate forcings and their relative importance..." Given that we remain relatively clueless regarding climate forcings and their relation, this represents yet another twenty million bucks down the gurgler.

"Low CO2 Growth in 2000" - "For months, we have been waiting for the year 2000 CO2 growth figures from Mauna Loa, Hawaii, and now they have just been released. The figure for atmospheric CO2 growth in 2000 was only 1.11 ppm. This compares with the value of 2.14 ppm increase for 1998, partly caused by the strong El Niño of that year.

Since 2000 was described as `warm' by the greenhouse industry, it is all the more significant that CO2 growth should fall to 1.11 ppm in spite of that `warmth', and the strong economic activity of that year.

The predictions of the IPCC that the world may be up to +6°C warmer due to rising CO2 by the year 2100 are based entirely on climate models. These models in turn rely on one key assumption - that CO2 will grow at 1% per year. That means CO2 in 2000 should have risen 3.7 ppm, not 1.11 ppm. In fact, CO2 has never risen in any single year by that 1% target figure.

The 2000 rise is only +0.3%, far short of the figure assumed by the models. This means it may be 2450 AD or later before that particular IPCC prediction can be fulfilled." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Immune system blamed for cancer" - "Long-term over-activation of the immune system may be the single most important cause of cancer, say experts. When the immune system goes into over-drive it leads to inflammation of the tissues. Many scientists agree that this inflammation may play a role in the development of cancer. However, a new report suggests that the importance of this role may have previously been under-estimated." (BBC Online)

Another "well gosh" study: "Premature birth rates a mystery: Quebec study" - "MONTREAL - A new study proves that pregnant women from disadvantaged backgrounds need more help carrying their babies to full term in Quebec, according to local public health authorities." (CBC)

It's been established for a fair while now that those from "disadvantaged backgrounds" have a reduced health status and that reduced health status does not encourage "ideal" pregnancies. Temporarily boosted nutrition isn't equivalent to lifetime affluence? Well gosh!

"WHO Seeks $11 Million to Study DVT and Air Travel" - "GENEVA- The World Health Organization Friday appealed for $11 million to finance studies on the link between air travel and deep vein thrombosis -- potentially fatal blood clots. The U.N. health agency said in a statement that the research would take two and a half years to complete." (Reuters)

"Are Car Hands-Free Phones Safe?" - "Under the headline, "Even Hands-Free Phones Found Risky for Drivers," The Washington Post reports that a new study suggests that hands-free devices for cell phones do not significantly reduce driver distraction.

Of course, "not significantly reduc[ing] driver distraction" is not the same as "risky" in this "inconclusive" study.

In "Beware of the Cellular Keystone Cops," Adam Thierer says that if preventing distraction is the goal, "it would make more sense for policymakers to ban eating Big Macs and listening to Britney Spears in our cars than it would to ban cell phone use." He goes on to say, "Imposing burdensome restrictions...is unnecessary and may actually cost lives by having the unintended consequence of discouraging drivers from carrying a cell phone in their car." Thierer also comments on proposed federal cell phone ban legislation in "Here Come the Federal Cell Phone Cops."

In the forthcoming Cato book, "Junk Science Judo: Self-Defense Against Health Scares and Scams," Steven J. Milloy teaches how to pick out spotty research findings that try to scare the public and shift policy debate with bad science." (Cato Institute)

"Green car project runs out of gas" - "Road Closed! After eight years and billions of taxpayer and shareholder dollars, the United States' Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV) has thrown in the keys. On Aug. 13, the National Research Council, in its annual review of PNGV, finally admitted that, despite the best efforts of the government to help industry produce politically correct technology -- this time an 80 mpg family car -- the laws of physics and economics just won't get out of the way. It's not going to happen." (Patrick J. Michaels, National Post)

"US mandates meat imports prove mad-cow-free status" - "WASHINGTON - The United States is requiring importers of pet food, lard, fish meal and other animal products include documents certifying that the country of origin is free of mad cow disease and its deadly human variant, a U.S. official said on Thursday. Fortifying U.S. borders against the spread of mad cow disease in Europe, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it was also considering whether to extend the new regulations to cover all beef, sheep and goat imports. Under the new rule, U.S. importers must indicate where their animal product came from, how it was processed and handled, and what livestock it includes. Animal products covered include processed proteins, fats and oils, flours, meals, fish food, and pet food." (Reuters)

"Scared new world" - "It is very difficult to speak ill of those who supposedly do nothing but good. Christopher Hitchens, the left-wing controversialist, manages it with flair. Not long ago he wrote a book depicting as a scoundrel the late and now beatified Mother Teresa. Yet I can think of no one else successfully engaged in such arduous undertakings. Perhaps that explains the enduring affection the world has for those famous false prophets who for 40 years have almost always been wrong, the environmentalists. They claim to be doing so much good. How can one possibly hold their many erroneous pronouncements and botched prophesies against them?" (R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Washington Times)

"UK/EU: Health claims on product labelling under the EU spotlight" - "The European Commission is mulling the imposition of a stricter regulatory framework for health claims on food products, much to the consternation of British food manufacturers.

The debate over health claims on food products has centred on the divide between notions of pre- or post-market regulation. Currently in the UK, there is no official regulatory buffer zone that scrutinises health claims before products reach the market; it is up to consumers, advertising agencies and trading standards officials to police products already on the shelves and prosecute if claims are found to be misleading.

A number of recent rulings by the Advertising Standards Authority have upheld complaints against food producers that their health claims are misleading." (just-food.com)

"GM: past, present and future" - "Throughout history, there have been those who embraced change and those who clung to the old ways because they felt at least the risks were known. And since feeding ourselves was the primary occupation of mankind for most of our history, changes in food production have been accepted slowly. So we shouldn't be surprised that history is being replayed as we enter the era of biotechnology. As the fates of human society and crops have been inextricably intertwined since the dawn of civilisation, an understanding of our agricultural past may guide us in addressing today's concerns about new scientific pursuits." (Channapatna S Prakash, Sp!ked)

"Oilseed group to push for GM crops" - "The peak body for the oilseed industry has decided it's time to start pushing the benefits of genetically-modified crops. The Oilseed Federation of Australia plans to start promoting the acceptance and greater use of gm crops. Federation president Allan McCallum says now that public hysteria on the issue has died down, the industry needs to be more vocal." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Monsanto Announces Simpler Biotech Pricing" - "Monsanto Company has announced plans to simplify the pricing for corn and soybean traits produced through biotechnology. Starting with the 2002 season, Monsanto will eliminate the technology fee paid to Monsanto by growers who plant YieldGard insect-protected corn, Roundup Ready corn and Roundup Ready soybeans and replace it with a royalty paid by seed companies licensed to market those products. Thus, growers will make a single payment to the seed company for technology and seed, rather than one payment to the seed company and a separate payment to Monsanto for the right to use Monsanto's patented technology." (Delta Farm Press)

"India still studying commercial use of GM foods" - "NEW DELHI, Aug 16 - Citing safety concerns, India said on Thursday it had allowed several research studies but not yet approved the commercial production and use of genetically modified foods in the country. "The centre (federal government) has made it clear that it has not yet approved commercial release of any genetically engineered food in the country," a government statement said. The country's agriculture ministry is pursuing efforts to develop transgenic cotton, rapeseed-mustard, rice, tobacco and potato to ensure pest and disease resistance in crops." (Reuters)

"Executive accused of ignoring safety rules by extending GM trials" - "ANTI-GM activists claim the Scottish executive is about to breach European directives and ignore safety regulations by extending a crop trial. It is expected the executive will give the go-ahead to new trials in Scotland, including a second at a farm near Munlochy on the Black Isle which has been the focus of intense opposition." (The Scotsman)

August 17, 2001

"Pouring More Money Down the Federal Research Rat Hole Will Not Solve Any Problems" - "Opponents and supporters of medical research involving embryonic stem cells may not agree on the ethics of embryo destruction, but they should be able to find common ground — albeit for different reasons — on another point: The federal government's role in the research should be reconsidered." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Today's preCoP7 hysteria piece: "Study: Pollution Is Killing Many" - "WASHINGTON - More people are being killed by pollution from cars, trucks and other sources than by traffic crashes, researchers estimate in a report that says cleaning up would prolong the lives of thousands of people. The researchers, in a study in the journal Science, said that cutting greenhouse gases in just four major cities - Sao Paulo, Brazil; Mexico City; Santiago, Chile and New York City - could save 64,000 lives over the next 20 years." (AP) | Health Benefits Linked to Cutting Greenhouse Gases (Reuters Health) | Greenhouse curbs 'benefit health' (BBC Online)

This is from Hidden Health Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation, [Luis Cifuentes, Victor H. Borja-Aburto, Nelson Gouveia, George Thurston, Devra Lee Davis. Science Volume 293, Number 5533, Issue of 17 Aug 2001, pp. 1257-1259]. Click here for the article in PDF (166Kb). There was an equally ridiculous accompanying global warming whinge piece, purportedly an editorial from Science Editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy, that I didn't bother to copy. The enhanced greenhouse advocacy displayed by Science is becoming more embarrassing by the issue.

Curiously, ENN is running Communicating science to the masses: A conversation with Donald Kennedy. If rampant and unreasoning GW advocacy is Kennedy's concept of "communicating science to the masses" then the world is in serious trouble indeed. Rather than whining about the U.S. refusing to join the stampeding mob, Kennedy should exalt America's dispassionate appraisal of the available facts - it's called scientific method after all. What is a blinkered advocate doing as E-in-C of the AAAS flagship publication, the formerly-eminent Science Journal?

Oh good grief! "Small excess risk of birth defects associated with living near landfill sites" - "Researchers in this week's BMJ report small excess risks of birth defects and low birth weight among people living near landfill sites in Great Britain. As 80% of the British population lives within 2km of known landfill sites, these results have important implications and further work is needed to help explain them, say the authors." (BMJ) | Birth defect link to landfill sites (BBC Online) | Landfill sites linked to risk of birth defects (Independent) | Waste sites pose 'small' risk of birth defects (Telegraph) | 'Slight' risk of defect from landfills (The Times)

Really? 80% of the population has a statistically irrelevant - wait for it - 1% "enhanced risk" of relatively minor adverse birth events compared with the one-fifth of the population living outside the two click radius of known current or recently active landfills. Causation - unknown; confounding factors - unknown; potential confounding factors - unlimited; significance - probably none.

"Study: All cell phones distract drivers" - "WASHINGTON -- Cell phone use while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, leads to poor driver performance, according to a new study published Thursday by the National Safety Council. The study, conducted by the University of Utah, suggests local laws that allow hands-free cell phone use will have very little effect on reducing driver distractions. Instead, the study finds, any kind of cell phone use, and the cognitive engagement needed, is what impairs a driver's decision-making ability. "This study adds new data on the ongoing national debate on driver distractions and their causes," said Alan C. McMillan, president of the National Safety Council." (CNN) | Phone test backs ban on mobiles in cars (Telegraph)

"Remember the poor in energy debate" - "For many Americans, higher prices at the pump or at the meter are a mere inconvenience that might mean fewer driving vacations or cutting back on dining out or movies. But for the most vulnerable members of our society -- the poor, the elderly, minorities, children, and those on fixed incomes or with disabilities -- higher fuel prices can mean choosing between paying for medication, rent or food, or paying the heating bill." (Stephen H. Bancroft, R. Thomas Coleman, and Tucker Gunneman, Detroit News)

Henry Payne's comment on alternate fuel vehicles.

"THE Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF) claims that the manufacturing industry is beginning to feel a pinch from the Climate Change Levy." - "THE Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF) claims that the manufacturing industry is beginning to feel a pinch from the Climate Change Levy. Often referred to as the energy tax, the Climate Change Levy is causing reduced profits and increased costs according to the EEF." (Hull Daily Mail)

"Britons get wind up over turbine plan" - "ONE of the last unspoilt landscapes of the Mediterranean region is threatened with being turned into a gigantic wind farm.

The French departement of Aude is what townies dream of when they fantasise about escaping their urban purgatories and building the good life in the south. Sun-baked vineyards and medieval villages below dramatic ranges of purple hills seem to have been barely touched by progress.

But that is about to change. Regis Cogranne, pointing to a rocky crest across the valley, says: "Look over there. They say Roland of Roncesvalles stayed there. It's a sacred place to us. And now they want to put a windmill on the top of it." (Telegraph)

"Drinking hot tea may protect against skin cancer" - "Drinking hot tea may protect against skin cancer, according to a new research article just published in BMC Dermatology (http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-5945-1-3.pdf). With 1.2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer reported in the US alone each year, this information could be good news for tea drinkers." (Media release)

"Report Faults U.S. Planning in Burning Chemical Arms" - "ATLANTA, Aug. 16 — As the Army begins to step up its effort to destroy its stockpiles of chemical weapons, a new Congressional report says thousands of people who live near three chemical depots face an unnecessarily high risk in case of an accident in incinerating the gases." (New York Times)

"Big deal" of the day: "M&S and Somerfield top pesticides finding" - "Two leading supermarkets, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and Somerfield, said yesterday that they aimed to cut pesticide use on their fruit and vegetables. The statements came after the pressure group Friends of the Earth (FoE) found that 63 per cent of M&S's produce, and 59 per cent of Somerfield's, carried pesticide residues – more than any of the other nine supermarkets surveyed. However, FoE also found that in the past three years an average of almost half of the fruit and vegetables sold in all nine supermarkets contained chemical residues. Pesticide residues in food are closely monitored by health watchdogs because of fears that they could contain chemicals that in turn might trigger cancer or other illnesses." (Independent)

"Wind Chill Gauging Method Altered" - "MINNEAPOLIS - When the icy blasts of winter return to North America, those fearsome wind chill numbers won't sound quite as ominous as before. The National Weather Service and its Canadian counterpart are switching to a tamer formula for computing wind chills, one they say will provide more accurate information." (AP)

"Hindering the states one treaty at a time" - "WASHINGTON — Americans often regard global trade agreements with suspicion.

Some people think that the international treaties force the federal government to forfeit decision-making power to a foreign entity, thus diminishing American sovereignty. A recent study by Demos, a leftward-leaning think tank in New York City, says that global trade agreements affect more than just U.S. sovereignty.

"Democracy's New Challenge: Globalism, Governance, and the Future of American Federalism," written by Mark C. Gordon, a Demos fellow and Columbia University professor, says that trade agreements enable the international community to set state public policy as well. Examining the impact of globalization from a state perspective, the 151-page report says that trade agreements like the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and international law-making organizations like the World Trade Organization dictate to individual U.S. states how to conduct trade and commerce." (UPI)

"Schroeder complains frogs make German roads dear" - "PRENZLAU, Germany - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder complained this week about the high costs of building German motorways because of the extraordinary measures the government is forced to take to protect the environment." (Reuters)

"Confronting the Litany" - "What has happened to the Guardian - the newspaper of choice for the green-leaning middle classes? In place of the usual diatribes about the evils of globalisation, environmental pillage, Frankenfood and the-planet-is-going-to-hell-in-a-handcart doom-mongering, we find the first of series of articles by Bjorn Lomborg - the Danish statistician who cogently challenges each and every deeply-held assumption of the paper's core readership. A feature in the Daily Telegraph championing socialist principles and a return to the welfare state would not seem more out of place." (Social Issues Research Centre)

"Mystery Gene in Soybeans Heats GMO Debate" - "CHICAGO - Fresh controversy erupted on Thursday after scientists discovered unidentified fragments of DNA in gene-altered soybeans, jolting grain markets and heating up a simmering debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs)." (Reuters)

"Belgian Scientist Says Gene-Spliced Soy Safe" - "LONDON - Dismissing the concerns of green groups, a Belgian scientist said on Thursday his research into gene-spliced soybeans--the world's most widely-grown genetically modified crop--has not cast doubt on their safety. Marc De Loose from Belgium's Center for Agricultural Research said he and colleagues did find foreign gene fragments in Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready soybeans that had no link with the plant's DNA sequence or the genome of soya. But he said there was no evidence to suggest that the unidentifiable genetic sequence could lead to unknown and unpredictable results, dismissing assertions made by the environmental group Greenpeace." (Reuters)

"Europe Buying Beans Despite Biotech" - "Despite concerns over biotechnology in Europe, US soy exports to Europe have been increasing, in part due to demand for soybean meal to feed to livestock in place of bone meal and animal products, according to John Baize, a Virginia-based international grain marketing consultant. The largest supplier to the EU is Argentina—which plants about 90% biotech (RR) soybeans. Growers in Brazil are not legally allowed to grow biotech beans, but they are anyway, particularly in southern Brazil, according to Baize. "EU processors say they are receiving beans from Brazil with 1.5 to 60% biotech content, and it is illegal to grow," he says. Don Nickel, a Mountain Lake, Minnesota soybean producer who also serves on the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council says Brazil does not systematically test its soybeans for biotech content. This makes enforcing non-biotech production difficult and results in a product that is more uncertain for soybean importers." (ISB News Report)

"US soybean industry seeks break in China GMO rules" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. soybean industry, hoping to minimize disruptions to a major export market, is asking China to set a transition period for new rules on imported foods that have been genetically modified. On June 6, China put into effect rules governing genetically modified organisms. But the details on how the regulations are to be implemented still have not been laid out by China." (Reuters)

"Florida wineries seek help through GM grapevine" - "GAINESVILLE, Florida -- To help quench the thirst of Florida, researchers are working on genetically modified grapes that can survive the harsh conditions in the sunshine state.

France and California are known for their wines, but Florida? The intense heat and humidity spell trouble for finicky wine grapes. And worse, the tasty varieties usually die on the vine from Pierce's Disease.

But botanists have changed the genetic structure of one merlot grape so that it resists the disease." (CNN)

"Philippine House Approves Prison Term for GMO Labeling Violators" - "MANILA, Philippines, August 15, 2001 - If you are selling a product that contains genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Phillippines you may soon have to label it "genetically engineered" or go to prison. Up to 12 years in jail plus a $2,000 fine is the penalty for failing to label that was passed bys the Philippine Congress Tuesday. The bill requires the labeling of GMO derived food and food products. Under the bill, violators could be imprisoned for not less than six years but not more than 12 years. If the offender is an alien, he or she can be immediately deported without need of any further proceedings." (ENS)

"Australia GM crop field trials vital - farm lobby" - "SYDNEY - Field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops were vital to assess the potential of gene technology and ensure Australia made a considered decision about the technology's future, a farmer-backed body said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Le Figaro: Anti-GM Crop Protesters Target Wrong Sites-(Les Anti-Ogm SE Trompent De Cible)" - "Aug 15, 2001, -- Jose Bove, leader of militant French farmers' organisation Confederation Paysanne, has issued a call for the destruction of genetically modified (GM) crops, a call which risks becoming rapidly unpopular. The "Lime a grains" group, which on Monday claimed responsibility for action on three plots, did not chose their targets well.

In Monsegur-sur-Lauzon, anti-GM crop militants devastated a plot which in fact had no genetically modified crops. A few kilometres away, in the commune of Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, they destroyed crops grown for therapeutic purposes, in the struggle against cystic fibrosis. "Unfortunately we have a young girl who suffers from this terrible disease in the commune, she is appalled", says the deputy mayor Michel Seux." (Le Figaro /FT Information via COMTEX)

"Champion of Small Farmers Loses Sting" - "The halo appears to be slipping from the head of Jose Bove, France's mustachioed defender of small farmers and Roquefort cheese. Exactly two years to the day after he and his colleagues from the pressure group he set up, the Confederation Paysanne, attacked a branch of McDonald's to protest at "bad food", only a couple of thousand supporters turned up for the anniversary at the scene of the crime, Millau in southern France. Sunday's festivities were a far cry from last year, when 50,000 gathered for a Woodstock-style carnival." (South China Morning Post)

"Biotech start-up's biggest worry is eco-terrorism" - "SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- Albert Kausch fears unseen predators. The marauders, emotionally driven and with no regard for the law, could easily set Kausch's biotechnology start-up back seven months with one quick strike.

Venture capitalists? No, eco-terrorists.

Kausch is director of research for HybriGene LLC. The two-year-old company is creating new types of turf grass through genetic modification.

HybriGene's seven employees transplant genes from other organisms into turf grasses to create foliage immune to weed killers. Some of the company's grasses have insecticide built in, eliminating the need for pesticides. HybriGene is also designing the plants so that they can't spread their genetically modified traits to innocent wild grasses.

But genetic modification of plants is extremely controversial." (Providence Journal)

"Forest firms fear impact of Kyoto" - "The environmental treaty may exacerbate a world oversupply of softwood and help NZ's competitors, writes BRIAN FALLOW.

You would think that, as the world starts to do something about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, New Zealand's forestry industry would be on a winner. Growing trees, after all, mop up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and the Kyoto Protocol creates a tradeable property right that reflects this.

Timber is a much less energy-intensive building material than concrete, steel or aluminium. So a mechanism designed to reflect environmental costs in energy prices should give wood a comparative advantage. But the protocol, which the Government expects to ratify next year, is regarded with something like dread by much of the forestry industry." (New Zealand Herald)

August 16, 2001

"Study: All Major Asbestos Makers Face Bankruptcy" - "SANTA MONICA, Calif - All major U.S. asbestos makers are likely to be bankrupt within the next two years as people with asbestos-related ailments continue to file injury and compensation claims against the companies, a study published on Wednesday said. Billions of dollars of asbestos-related costs already have forced 41 firms to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the study by the California-based, independent RAND Institute for Civil Justice. Given the continuing litigation, the study said, it is time to review the way the United States' deals with asbestos claims." (Reuters)

Something's wrong with the whole asbestos picture. Probably more than half the population has been significantly exposed to asbestos and, due to its fire retardant properties, many fewer deaths likely occurred. An unfortunate minority suffer an increased risk of early mortality from this exposure but they were not targeted for morbidity or early mortality, so why are manufacturers to be driven to the wall for having used best-available materials? Materials which, parenthetically, undoubtedly saved a great many lives. Who should pay? If anyone, (moot point), then probably it should be the whole society that benefited so much from the use of the material in the first place. Same applies to materials like PCBs, magnificent safety factor involved in using a fire retardant oil in electrical transformers etc and negligible downside, if any, so why have punitive arrangements against corporations who do society's bidding by providing the desired products?

Living comes with a risk of mortality - it's a package deal - but mortality is not necessarily the fault of some deep-pocketed corporation. Get real!

"Scientists See Progress in Fight Against 'Mad Cow'" - "LONDON - U.S.-based scientists said on Wednesday they had made progress in identifying and treating the human form of "mad cow" disease, for which there is no known cure. The research by a team at the Scripps Research Institute at La Jolla, California, found that antibodies could be used to prevent and treat disease in prions, the proteins that cause the devastating brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Their findings follow news over the weekend that medical trials on a British sufferer of vCJD by Nobel Prize winner Professor Stanley Prusiner had eased symptoms of the disease." (Reuters)

Hmm... Prusiner stated (honestly) that, of the two patients treated who may, or may not, have nvCJD, one showed no change and with the other it was too early to tell. The antibody tests are in vitro culture tests and their applicability to patients remains questionable.

This leaves us with thousands of words written recently about not very much. Is nvCJD contracted by consumption of affected meat product? We don't know. If it is then the disease is not particularly contagious. Consider that a population of more than 50 million people have been consuming product from a potentially infected supply chain (now thought to possibly include the meat of sheep as well as cattle) for at least a decade. Given the minimal number of say 20 million having two potentially infected meat servings per week (100 per year for 10 years before the food chain was made "safe" or 1,000 servings each), thus 20 billion such potentially infectious meals, at the very minimum. Given the possibility of 100 cases of nvCJD then, if the source is infected beef or mutton, the contagion rate is 1:200,000,000 servings at most and likely significantly lower than that (50 million people having 5 servings per week would blow the odds against to 1.25 billion). Even at the worst case scenario you have 20 times higher odds of picking 6 from 45 numbers to win the lottery, so the risk is not exactly high. Even more damning against the assumption that Bovine/Ovine Spongiform Encephalopathy may be directly causal in nvCJD is that there has been no significant cluster (or any recognised cluster) of cases amongst slaughtermen exposed to potential infection via ingestion/injection of contaminated material by nature of their occupation. Given the contact potential via cuts and abrasions, inhalation of aerosols present in the workplace and the possibility of transport via the eye and ophthalmic nerve of "live" prions, why are slaughtermen not being extirpated by this disease?

At present there are a lot more questions than answers where purported new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is concerned.

"Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute find a way to block prions that cause mad cow disease" - "La Jolla, CA, August 16, 2001 -- Scientists working at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and at the University of California, San Francisco, have published a paper in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature that describes an antibody that clears prion infection in cell culture. This finding may point the way to a treatment for mad cow disease and its human equivalent." (Scripps Research Institute)

"Yes, it looks bad, but..." - "We are cooking our own planet, driving thousands of species to extinction and filling our skies and rivers with poison. Right? Not according to Bjorn Lomborg. In the first of three exclusive essays for the Guardian, Europe's most controversial environmental thinker argues that reports of the earth's imminent death are much exaggerated." (Guardian)

"Higher total alcohol consumption, including beer and spirits, associated with better health" - "Moderate beer and spirit drinkers may be just as "healthy" as wine drinkers, suggests a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The research shows that alcohol drinkers reported less subjective ill health than non-drinkers. But it was the overall quantity of alcohol consumed, rather than beverage type, that had most impact on health." (British Medical Journal release)

"Japanese researchers suggest lemon drink for DVT" - "Japanese researchers believe airline passengers could drink lemon juice to prevent the condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis." (Radio Australia)

"US drug firms challenge critics' numbers on R&D" - "WASHINGTON, Aug 15 - The pharmaceutical industry said Tuesday that a report by consultants Ernst & Young casts doubt on a consumer group's allegations that drug makers have overstated the cost of developing new drugs.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said the Ernst & Young report found that a study released last month by the consumer group Public Citizen had ignored the opportunity cost of research and development funding--money foregone by investing in a drug project rather than investing the funds elsewhere.

"In several key aspects, the Public Citizen approach deviates from standard methodologies adopted by previous research and the financial and accounting communities," said the Ernst & Young study." (Reuters)

"Cities use controversial pesticide to save trees" - "REGINA - Canada's elm trees are dying, under attack from the elm bark beetle that causes Dutch elm disease. But the only solution appears to be a controversial pesticide called Dursban." (CBC)

"Study: Estrogen hardens bones even in elderly, first-time users" - "CHICAGO — Estrogen-replacement therapy significantly improved bone density in frail, elderly women, according to a study that suggests beginning the treatment even late in life could be beneficial. The study, which appears in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, is thought to be the first to focus on estrogen-replacement therapy in frail women older than 75 — those at greatest risk of fractures." (AP)

"Interior's endearing insects" - "When is a persistently rare critter certainly not extinct, nor even really endangered? Such troubling waters of logic are easily traversed when a bridge for bureaucrats is at stake – specifically, the already all-too troubled Wilson Bridge." (Washington Times editorial)

"Monsanto Releases the Genome Sequence of A Bacterium That Is The 'Natural Genetic Engineer' of Plant" - "ST. LOUIS, Aug 14, 2001 -- The genome sequence for Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a bacterium that can naturally transfer DNA to plant cells, has been released by scientists at Monsanto Company working in collaboration with a research group at the University of Richmond, VA." (PRNewswire)

"Mystery DNA Is Discovered in Soybeans By Scientists" - "The world's most widely grown genetically engineered crop contains some unexpected DNA next to its inserted gene, casting some doubts on the biotechnology industry's assertions that its technology is precise and predictable." (New York Times)

Breathless press babble of the day: "US exerts pressure on EU over food labelling" - "London - The US and Europe are heading for a damaging dispute over European Union (EU) plans to label imported food that has been contaminated by genetically modified crops. A leaked memo shows the US is furious at EU plans to insist that all food containing more than 1 percent genetically modified ingredients be labelled." (Independent)

Well blimey! The U.S. is unimpressed by trade protectionism masquerading as "consumer protection" and The Indy regurgitates whacko paranoia. Meanwhile, the E.U. is busily stocking up on Brazilian soy beans, without testing or labeling, because Brazil says they don't grow biotech-enhanced crops - despite an estimated one-third being grown from pirated enhanced seed smuggled in from neighboring Argentina. What a silly game this is.

"Resistance To GM Crops Is Falling, Says ABARE" - "Market resistance to genetically modified products is falling and consumers are unlikely to be willing to pay higher prices for GM-free products, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics." (AFR)

"Clone farm" - "FACTORY farming could soon enter a new era of mass production. Companies in the US are developing the technology needed to "clone" chickens on a massive scale. Once a chicken with desirable traits has been bred or genetically engineered, tens of thousands of eggs, which will hatch into identical copies, could roll off the production lines every hour. Billions of clones could be produced each year to supply chicken farms with birds that all grow at the same rate, have the same amount of meat and taste the same." (New Scientist)

"Canada Press: Liability Issues Surface in GM Crop Debate" - "WINNIPEG, MB, Aug 14, 2001 -- While corporations like Monsanto fight for the right to own and control the genetically modified (GM) seeds they create, they also need to worry about what happens when that seed ends up where it's not wanted, a University of Saskatchewan law professor told a group of lawyers Monday, according to an article in the Saskatoon StarPheonix." (Resource News International via COMTEX)

"U.S. Efforts to Undermine Others' Biotech Laws Assailed" - "WASHINGTON, Aug 14 - Some 200 groups worldwide are protesting U.S. efforts to undermine Sri Lankan and Thai efforts to regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In a letter to U.S. officials, the coalition of agricultural, consumer, and environmental groups cited several instances in which U.S. officials allegedly have threatened to involve trade bodies or impose sanctions if the regulations on genetically modified crops were implemented. A spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office acknowledged the letter but declined comment pending further review. The embassies of Sri Lanka and Thailand were unable for comment." (IPS)

"A Global View of Sunburn Hotspots" - "Since 1995, various agencies have recognized the importance of tracking and reporting UV levels to the public as a matter of safety. referring to ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, UV levels consist of three kinds: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. Of these, UV-B is the most dangerous kind to people, increasing the risk of sunburns, cancers, and cataracts. The Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) aboard the Earth Probe spacecraft, tracks ozone depletion as well as determining ultraviolet radiation penetrating the ozone layer to reach the ground." (NASA/GSFC)

Preparation for CoP7: "Carbon dioxide levels 'highest for half a million years'" - "Experts say levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are the highest for half a million years. Figures on global warming from Germany's Max Planck Institute also reveal the last decade from 1990 to 2000 was the hottest for a millennium." (Ananova)

Eager to get going with CoP7 hype, the Max Planck Institute are up to their usual tricks. To achieve their stated last decade from 1990 to 2000 was the hottest for a millennium they omit little inconveniences like the MCO (Medieval Climate Optimum) but, what the heck...

Are atmospheric CO2 levels high? Maybe, here's an image of the graph hawked around by former veep Al Gore in his PB era (pre-beard, since you ask). Ozone Al only stopped promoting this graph when astute observers noted that temperature change predated changes in CO2 levels by 2-10 centuries. The temperature "worm" is also a little uncooperative in that it is taking an obvious dive simultaneously with the post industrial revolution increment in free CO2.

The saga continues... "Quality Control, CRU Style" - "In the Beginning... On Friday 10th August 2001, this website revealed a very visible and obvious error in the hemispheric and global temperatures being issued by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England <see the original `stop press' story here>. They  presented graphs which contained a contradiction as illustrated in Fig.1. ..." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Research Casts Doubt on China's Pollution Claims" - "BEIJING -- New studies have cast doubt on reports that China is significantly reducing the "greenhouse gas" emissions that help make it one of the world's major polluters. Research by a Japanese scientist, funded by the World Bank, raises questions about Chinese statistics that show a huge reduction in production of coal, a fuel whose consumption contributes heavily to pollution here. And at a recent conference in Beijing, a Chinese scientist reported that China will revise upward its estimates for coal consumption for 1999, wiping out half the previously reported reductions. Other research points to a serious underreporting of China's consumption of oil, another major pollutant." (Washington Post)

"Glacier reveals 60-year secrets" - "An Icelandic glacier has begun melting away to reveal the wreckage of a British war plane which crashed into it 60 years ago. Local historian Hordur Geirsson has been harnessing the powers of global warming to bring the Royal Air Force Fairey Battle bomber plane to the surface." (BBC Online)

What? Global warming? They're using black matting to take maximum advantage of available solar energy. Granted that solar emissions are the most likely "culprit" for Earth no longer being in the throes of the LIA (Little Ice Age) but...

"How real is the global warming gloom?" - "How could the globe be warming and not warming at the same time?

That’s the riddle posed to climatologists by satellite and radiosonde (balloon-borne instrument for making atmospheric measurements) data which show that while the Earth’s surface has been warming over the past decades, the lowest layer of the atmosphere shows a weaker warming trend.

The measurements are surprising, because computer simulations of the world’s climate predict that the two lowest layers of the atmosphere — which together form the "troposphere" — should be warming faster than the Earth’s surface." (Independent Bangladesh)

August 15, 2001

"Association Soiled by Junk Science Report" - "Great Britain's organic farming authority, the Soil Association, finally admits in a new report that the “perception that organic food ‘is better for you’ appears to have been largely based on intuition rather than conclusive evidence.”

Now, however, the organic promotion organization claims that it finally has “indicative evidence suggesting” organic foods might have slightly more nutrients.  If you thought that it couldn’t get any squishier than “indicative evidence suggesting,” think again. To reach that conclusion the Soil Association had to ignore more than two thirds of the research published in scientific journals." (Alex and Dennis Avery,  Hudson Institute)

"Organic food isn't better for you, says one heretic… and he can prove it." - "London's Sunday Times has been paying considerable attention to the politics of food lately, and the latest salvo comes from Edinburgh University's Professor Anthony Trewavas. Convinced that Great Britain has become a nation of "food snobs," Trewavas debunks many of the myths promoted by backers of organic-only agriculture. "If people want to farm and eat organically that's their right," he tells the Times, "but what I object to is people saying that organic food is better when really all you can do is show that it's a different form of farming and a slightly different form of food."

Trewavas' biggest concern is that the organic movement may result in less overall consumption of fruits and vegetables. He explained: "A diet high in fruit and vegetables can cut cancer rates in half - many medical investigations have established this fact. My fear is that claims that organic food is superior will lead people - especially those on low incomes - to buy organic food thinking it is better for them. But [the higher] price will actually mean they will buy and consume less, and the detrimental effects will be seen in 10-20 years on the cancer rate."

He is also critical of the food-safety "double standard" in place regarding organic produce. While conventional food producers, he says, have to "go through hoops" to demonstrate that pesticide residues are within established safety margins (which have already been "adjusted" by a factor of 100), organic growers are not subject to the same kind of scrutiny - despite widespread use of biological pesticides, and animal waste as fertilizer." (GuestChoice.com)

"AUSTRIA: Organic farmers show downward trend" - "The number of organic growers and producers in Austria is on the decline. They are currently believed to number just 18,654, down from 19,741 in 1999 and 20,207 in 1998. There are various reasons informing this decline. Some farmers have retired without a natural successor willing to take on the farm. Others have thrown in the towel, frustrated at the complexity of the certification regulations." (just-food.com)

"Judicial gun control cashiered" - "The California Supreme Court last week in Merrill v. Navegar Inc. (Aug. 6, 2001) shielded gun manufacturers from common law negligence liability for injuries inflicted by gun misuse. Gun control crusaders are mourning; gun ownership proponents are rejoicing; but the high-stakes victor was the rule of law. Sister state courts entertaining similar pioneering common law (i.e., judge invented) theories of liability to stiletto the gun industry should learn from the Merrill example." (Bruce Fein, Washington Times)

"Hyderabad granite has radioactive uranium" - "HYDERABAD: Scientists at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) here have disturbing news for residents of Hyderabad especially those living in rocky Banjara and Jubilee Hills area. They have found that the granite rocks of Hyderabad have abnormally high concentrations of radioactive uranium and thorium compared to elsewhere in southern India." (Times of India)

"Cancer, DVT link found" - "One in 10 people who developed deep-vein thrombosis turned out to have an underlying cancer, a conference of cancer experts was told yesterday. Dr Harry Gibbs, a vascular doctor at Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital, said many cancers released chemicals that multiplied the risk of dangerous blood clots up to tenfold. "People who have been treated for cancer over the last two years should take precautions when flying, such as wearing compression stockings," he said. "Patients who've been treated for cancer often do decide to go for a holiday somewhere, and it's unfortunate that for many of them complications such as DVT are far from their minds." (The Age)

"Congratulations, it's a soy!: Penn researchers take a long-term look at the safety of soy-based infant formula" - "(Philadelphia, PA) To understand whether hormone-like chemicals in soy products may influence sexual development in children, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have revisited a study on soy-based infant formula begun over thirty years ago. Their results, published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, reaffirm the safety of soy infant formula and offer evidence against the harmful effects of soy that have been presented in the popular media. According to their findings, soy formula does not appear to lead to any more health or reproductive problems than cow milk formula.

“We have found that, in terms of sexual development, there is very little difference between children who, as infants, were fed cow milk formula and those fed soy formula,” said Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH, director of the Penn Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. “The biggest concern has been whether or not phytoestrogens in soy had a ‘feminizing’ effect on children.” (University of Pennsylvania Medical Center)

Studies like this should slow down claims by chemophobes that significantly less active HAAs (Hormonally Active Agents - formerly known as "endocrine disrupters" [except that they don't disrupt the human endocrine system]) present some looming danger. After all, in vitro assays demonstrate that phytoestrogens are orders of magnitude more potent than so-called "chemicals of concern" and there has never been any in vivo effect demonstrated. It seems doubtful, however, that the anti-chemical brigade will even pause for breath since they've never shown interest in science or fact in the past.

"Life saver in a packet for diarrhoea" - "NEW DELHI: Dr Jon Rohde has a story to tell. About 10 years ago when he went to Calcutta in connection with the shooting of a documentary on children with diarrhoeal diseases to his utter surprise he found almost no such children in one of Calcutta's biggest and busiest hospitals. Rohde was made to go to Bangladesh to complete his documentary because he had no case in Calcutta. The paediatrician believes Calcutta's surprising phenomenon, was the result of widespread use of oral rehydration salts (ORS) in treating childhood diarrhoea which dramatically lowered incidence of death due to the disease in India." (Times of India)

Sigh... "Area school districts back pesticide warnings" - "Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - Congress may require schools to tell parents before any pesticides are applied in cafeterias, playgrounds, classrooms or elsewhere, and the move has the support of two of the metro area's larger school districts.

Jefferson County Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District already notify parents who have asked to be told before any pesticides are used, and officials with both districts said any additional notification requirements wouldn't be particularly burdensome.

"It's a great idea," Bill Johnson, the environmental manager for Jefferson County Public Schools, said of the proposed legislation. "Due to certain people's sensitivity - real or perceived - there should be an obligation to tell." (Denver Post)

"Consumers moving to 'greener' pastures: organic lawn care" - "WINNIPEG - The move towards pesticide-free lawn and garden care is gaining momentum in Canada. A few municipalities have passed bylaws to restrict pesticide use, so consumers are turning increasingly to more natural remedies." (CBC)

Natural not necessarily better? "Smoke greatest threat from B.C. forest fire" - "PRINCETON, B.C. - Smoke from a fast moving wildfire is blowing into Princeton, B.C., and town officials have advised people with respiratory problems to remain indoors." (CBC)

"Clearing the air, literally" - "Not even a decade ago, the atmosphere surrounding Mexico's capital was so toxic that birds died midflight and many of the city's residents were forced to walk the streets in surgical masks. But today, things are looking brighter: The skies are sometimes blue, and the volcanic range that rings the city has reemerged from the haze. "We're in the best position we've ever been in," says Luis Roberto Acosta, director of Mexico City's International Environmental Monitoring Institute (SIMA), confirming that the skies are clearing above North America's largest city." (Christian Science Monitor)

"CJD Treatment is Not a Miracle Cure, Say Researchers" - "U.S. scientists are reported to have dramatically improved the condition of a woman suffering from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease, but researchers are cautious about the situation.

British and U.S. scientists, however, are downplaying hopes of a successful treatment for variant CJD. Lead researcher Dr. Carsten Korth told BBC Radio the scientists have treated two patients and one of them did not improve. In the other patient, it is too early to tell." (AgWeb.com)

"Group Urges More Precautions Against BSE" - "The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says the United States is not taking adequate precautions to prevent bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) from entering the food supply, especially through products like hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza toppings, and taco fillings." (AgWeb.com)

"Japan May Increase BSE Testing" - "Japan is expected to begin its first mass-testing of home-bred cows for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) at its public slaughterhouses next year. According to the plan, the health ministry will test about 10,000 home-bred cows being processed at 198 slaughterhouses, say government officials." (AgWeb.com)

"FDA moves to ban cold remedy ingredient" - "WASHINGTON, Aug 14 - Moving ahead with plans to remove a once popular diet aid and cold medicine ingredient from the US market, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offered several makers of phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, on Tuesday an opportunity for a hearing prior to the withdrawal of their products.

In November, the FDA declared its intentions to ban PPA after two studies and a committee of expert advisors to the agency concluded that the ingredient, found in a number of over-the-counter diet aids and cold medicines, might cause strokes in young, healthy people.

Retailers nationwide already have voluntarily pulled several brands of those products, and a number of the larger manufacturers of cold medication have agreed to substitute ingredients. But there is no alternative to the over-the-counter diet aids, and as a result, not all manufacturers have joined the bandwagon.

These manufacturers argue that the studies were flawed and that the actual risk does not outweigh the benefits, considering the prevalence of obesity among Americans." (Reuters Health)

Mercury mania du jour: "Mercury at Bottom of Central Park Lake Linked to Coal Burning in NYC" - "TROY, N.Y. - While the debate rages over the future of the nation's energy resources, including the potential increase in the number of coal-burning power plants, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have linked coal plant emissions to toxic levels of mercury." (Rensselaer)

"Is Ethanol A Net Energy Loss?" - "During the past several months, as lawmakers and energy experts have warned of a looming energy crisis, one alternative to gasoline that has been considered is ethanol, an alcohol fuel produced from corn. But Wired News reports that a new study by David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University, threatens to nip some of the ethanol excitement in the kernel.

Pimentel's report, to be published in the 2001 edition of the Encyclopedia for Physical Sciences and Technology in September, says that producing ethanol is more trouble than it's worth: 131,000 British thermal units of energy are required to produce one gallon of ethanol, but a gallon will only give you about 77,000 Btu of fuel energy. In other words, producing ethanol results in a net loss of energy.

Consequently, Pimentel thinks the only reason people like to talk about ethanol being a valid alternative to gasoline is "politics and large corporations who are getting big bucks from the government (in the form of ethanol subsidies)."

In "Push Ethanol Off the Dole," Stephen Moore discusses how ethanol subsidies have been a costly boondoggle with almost no public benefit. In a policy analysis entitled "Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study in Corporate Welfare," James Bovard looks at the numbers behind ADM's subsidies: Every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.

"Genetic Secrets of Metal-Eating Plants Uncovered by Purdue University Scientist" - "WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Aug. 13 -- Genes thought to allow plants to accumulate large amounts of metal in their tissues have been identified and cloned by a Purdue University scientist. The finding is expected to lead to new crop plants that can clean up industrial contamination, new foods that fight disease and reduced work for some farmers." (AScribe News)

"It's all in the genes" - "Genetically modified crops could well out-organic the entire health food industry, and the geneticists are winning the battle for acceptance. JENNIFER THOMSON explains the huge potential for Africa." (Sunday Times, ZA)

"Lettuce, with A Slight Hint of Rodent 'We Haven't Tasted It. It Should, in Theory, Taste More Citrus" - "Craig Nessler knew his work would turn heads - not to mention more than a few stomachs.

Food is sacred. Rats, on the other hand, are arguably among the most reviled creatures on Earth. So from the onset, the Virginia Tech plant pathologist realized that his creation - a head of lettuce implanted with rodent genes - would never be a commercial success.

But in the growing field of vitamin-enriched fruits and vegetables, Nessler hopes his unique, if rather unappetizing, creation is just the tip of the iceberg leading to longer-lasting, more nutritious food." (Roanoke Times)

"Genetically modified foods are here" - "NEW DELHI: With increasing population on the planet, the focus of agricultural scientists is now on enhancing food production at a pace which would meet the future needs of the population. The rapid advances in biotechnology have come in handy for their efforts in this direction." (Times of India)

Biotechnology Global Update July 2001 (BKC)

"More genetically modified crops trashed in France" - "PARIS - Activists opposed to genetically modified (GM) food have struck again in France, tearing up three plots of land where bio-engineered maize was being grown on a test basis, industry groups said yesterday. Seed and plant protection industry organisations said they were "shocked" after the activists destroyed the GM maize tests in the Drome department in southeast France." (Reuters)

"Australia lags in GM-crop field, says report" - "Eventual domination of world grain and oilseed markets by genetically modified strains seems inevitable and Australia is lagging behind key trading rivals, according to a report from Australian government economists.

While neither advocating nor opposing the adoption of controversial "GM" strains by local producers, an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Research Economics report has emphasised that GM crops are likely to be, or are already, cheaper to produce than non-GM crops.

Therefore if non-GM crops do not begin to attract consistent price premiums on world markets, producers shunning GM strains could face problems." (The Age)

"GMO ingredients found in 11 goods" - "Eleven of 59 soy bean and corn-processed products subject to a government investigation were found to contain ingredients with genetically modified organisms, according to the farm ministry. One of the products -- a cornmeal used to make bread and cakes -- breaches the Japan Agricultural Standards Law because its label does not feature a warning over the product's levels of genetically modified organisms, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. According to the product's label, the cornmeal contains no GMO ingredients. In terms of weight, however, it was found that some 6 percent of its ingredients are genetically modified, the ministry said. If a food's GMO content is more than 5 percent, manufacturers are required to display this fact on food labels." (Japan Times)

"Overcooked statistics" - "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." Mark Twain would enjoy reading a book which overwhelmingly confirms his celebrated aphorism. To be published next month, the book, titled "The Skeptical Environmentalist," is by Bjorn Lomborg, 36, a professor of statistics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. It is no exaggeration to refer to the book as a demolition job of those environmental crusade "statisticians" whose targets are free markets and globalization." (Arnold Beichman, Washington Times)

"Two Coolings Make One Warming - in yet another update: Wednesday 14 August, 2130 GMT" - "Phil Jones, who heads CRU, has now emailed a number of addressees, offering an explanation as to what happened at CRU, the details of which will be reviewed later on this website. However, in a postscript to the email he said: "P.S. It would be nice in future to be told this directly, as two of you have done, rather than be told we are manipulating the data."

Obviously CRU would have preferred a `quiet word' English-style rather than a public exposure, but that's the price they must accept when they involve themselves with public issues and spend taxpayers money. How else can such institutions be kept publicly accountable?

Furthermore, it has long been argued by skeptics that the surface record compiled by CRU is faulty because of the mismatch with the satellite record, the inadequate treatment of urban heat islands, and the problems with Third World data quality. In response, the industry has cited the `careful quality control' exercised over CRU's surface record. Now we have seen a complete failure in that quality control on CRU's most important product - the hemispheric and global temperatures. If such an obvious and visible error can escape a staff of 40 at CRU for over two weeks, how many other, less visible, errors are not being picked up?

It makes the satellite record all the more compelling as the only true indicator of global temperature." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Volunteerism: The Only Way to Fight Global Warming" - "As pressure mounts for the United States to submit to a binding international agreement to reduce anthropogenic CO 2 emissions in an attempt to fight potential global warming, the rationale for that pressure is beginning to crumble; and the assault upon it is coming from a tried and true American tradition: volunteerism." | Effect of Warming on Temperature Variability in Switzerland | 20th Century Trends in Canadian Precipitation | 20th Century Trends in Southern African Rainfall (co2science.org)

"Japan Oil Development to use carbon dioxide in oil drilling" - "TOKYO, Aug. 14 - Japan Oil Development Co. has established technology to effectively extract crude oil from oil reservoirs using carbon dioxide, company officials said Tuesday. Carbon dioxide recovered from thermal power plants will be pressurized and infused into oil deposits, the officials said. Crude oil deposited in the reservoirs will then be pushed out, they said. It will be a world first for the use of carbon dioxide in the commercial production of crude oil, the officials said." (Kyodo)

The Norwegians may dispute that claim given that they've been reinjecting CO2 to assist their North Sea oil extraction for some time - though they claim it's done for enhanced greenhouse mitigation purposes.

"Nauru says action needed to halt global warming" - "Nauru's top bureaucrat has told senior Australian officials and delegates from 14 other Pacific countries that the survival of some Island nations depends on international action to curb global warming." (Radio Australia)

"Greenhouse gas trade go-ahead" - "The UK is to pay industry incentives to encourage it to cut greenhouse gases. The government says the emissions trading scheme it is launching could enable the UK to make 10% of its internationally agreed greenhouse cuts. The scheme is voluntary, and the government is to provide up to £215 million ($300 m) to fund it. It believes the scheme will give British industry a global competitive advantage. Details of the UK emissions trading scheme were announced by the environment minister, Michael Meacher." (BBC online)

"US opposition to Kyoto may sink carbon trading" - "Last month's deal in Bonn has already rekindled interest in the trading market from companies, banks and trading houses. "It is a massive boost for the market," says Frank Joshua, global director greenhouse gas emissions trading services at Arthur Andersen. It estimates that the market could trade $5-$10bn of carbon a year, which would increase to $40-$100bn a year if the US reversed its decision to stay out of the Kyoto Protocol." (Financial Times)

Meaning everyone's hoping to rip Americans off to the the tune of 35-90 billion dollars annually?

"Canberra tries to block islands' jab at US" - "Australia is lobbying against the annual gathering of Pacific island nations passing a resolution critical of the United States for failing to endorse the Kyoto protocol on climate change." (Sydney Morning Herald)

August 14, 2001

"Democrats Change Their Tune On Gun Control" - "In "Trust the People: The Case Against Gun Control," David Kopel writes that the gun control debate comes down to the basic question: "Who is more trustworthy, the government or the people?" In "Gun Policy in the Aftermath of Littleton," Cato Fellow Doug Bandow writes that gun control is misguided and that studies show that guns are used five times as often to prevent as to commit crimes." (Cato Institute)

"Winnipeg man fights for spraying against mosquitoes" - "WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg man is upset about mosquito spraying in his neighborhood and he's taking the matter the court. He's upset about the lack of spraying. The city has been inundated by the blood-sucking insects this summer and crews have been out fogging neighborhoods with the insecticide Malithion. But Scott West's home in the inner-city remains untouched. His neighbours have requested no fogging.

"What I'm looking for is a class action lawsuit to cover the costs of spraying Malithion privately," says West. West is going after the province, which issues permits to the city of Winnipeg. The permit says insecticides can't be used within 100 meters of anyone who says they don't want it. Several people have agreed to support the class action. West hopes to secure a lawyer and file a claim shortly. The province has no comment." (CBC)

"EC sets limits on mobile-phone emissions" - "The European Commission has set limits on the amount of electromagnetic waves that can be emitted by mobile phones in Europe. The standard will apply to mobile phones marketed within the European Union. It limits the amount of thermal radiation to two watts per kilogram of human tissue, said Commission mobile phone safety expert Mark Bogers. "All mobiles marketed in the European Union are well within this level already. Most emit around 1 watt per kilo," Bogers said." (IDG)

"Animal organs may cause new epidemic: report; AIDS, mad cow cited" - "The multi-million-dollar push to transplant animal organs into humans could usher in a deadly new epidemic, making it essential Canada implement safeguards around the procedure, a Health Canada report says." (National Post)

"CJD 'breakthrough' examined" - "A new drug used to successfully treat a Briton with the human form of mad cow disease may undergo UK trials. Scientists in America have given details of the drugs which have been used to treat a young English woman thought to have the disease. Rachel Forber from Merseyside was given just a year to live when she was diagnosed with suspected CJD in June, but after treatment in America she showed significant improvement." (BBC Online) | Doctors Test Therapy for a Brain Malady (New York Times)

"High fatty acid levels may mean sudden death for middle-aged men" - "DALLAS, Aug. 14 – High blood levels of “free” fatty acids may be associated with abnormal heartbeats that can lead to sudden death in middle-aged men, according to a report in today’s Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

While this study shows an association between circulating levels of free fatty acids and a high risk of sudden cardiac death, an accompanying editorial says that not all fatty acids are equal in their propensity to cause arrhythmias. The editorial suggests that increasing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, which come from fatty fish or canola oil, and decreasing the intake of omega-6 fatty acids, found in plant seed oils (corn, safflower, sunflower), is a way to reduce the risk of sudden death." (American Heart Association)

"Obesity gene pinpointed" - "An obesity gene which could pass from father to child has been discovered by scientists in Paris. But the majority of people in Europe carry the gene - so it is only one piece in the jigsaw of reasons why obesity develops. There are thought to be a number of reasons why a child or an adult grows up to be severely overweight. Being obese as a child greatly increases the chances of obesity in adulthood, and this in turn raises the risk of dangerous medical conditions such as high blood pressure and even cancer." (BBC Online)

"Decision Near on Air Rule Review" - "WASHINGTON -- As part of its sweeping effort to stimulate more energy supply, the Bush administration is scheduled to release by Friday its reassessment of a key tool aimed at reducing air pollution from power plants, factories and other major polluters.

Environmentalists warn that the quality of the nation's air hangs in the balance of the administration's reassessment. If the administration lets down the nation's guard, they argue, the air over many of America's cities will be dirtier and thousands of people will die prematurely from the noxious chemicals that will be allowed into the air." (LA Times)

Whether there would or even could be a genuine net loss of person life minutes is, however, a moot point. Cheap, abundant energy is a major component in the extended life expectancy equation and increasing its cost while chasing the chimera of test tube-pure air quality may cost a lot more person life years than it "saves." While it may be true that a person whose hold on life is so tenuous that a few "extra" particulates shortened their life by perhaps a day, do say 365 such cases really equate to a single additional heat prostration or hypothermia death caused by increased energy cost forcing a disadvantaged person's choice between adequate heating/cooling or paying the rent or maybe buying food?

Clearing early- to mid-twentieth century air carried clear and demonstrable health benefits but those gains are long behind us now. In time, technological improvement and increased efficiency will deliver further gains in air quality, whether forcing those gains at unnecessary expense provides benefit to society is less obvious and should be regarded with some suspicion.

"Now They Want Californians To Use More Electricity" - "California may be facing a persistent, escalating glut of electricity as a result of its buying too much power through long-term contracts, according to energy experts and a Los Angeles Times analysis, which that paper reports.

In "Just Say 'No' to the Energy Plan," Director of Natural Resources Studies Jerry Taylor predicted an energy glut for California. "Without the guidance of a 'comprehensive national energy strategy,' investors are currently pouring billions into the energy sector," Taylor wrote. "For instance, we're currently in the midst of a power-plant construction boom, with some 90,000 megawatts of new electricity capacity scheduled to come on line by 2002 and a staggering 150,000-200,000 megawatts by 2004. This will not only burst the electricity-price bubble but will probably produce an electricity glut in the near future." (Cato Institute)

"Clinton-era goal of high-mileage sedan by 2004 too ambitious, group says" - "WASHINGTON - Automakers probably will not meet former President Clinton's goal of developing by 2004 an affordable "super car" that travels 80 miles on one gallon of gas, the National Research Council said Monday. In its annual review of the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, the council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested the government and industry participants should set new goals. That is already under way in the Bush administration." (AP)

"West bitten by bug-protection rules" - "Western lawmakers are angry at Washington bureaucrats for ignoring endangered species in their own back yard while placing enormous restrictions on their states where similar bugs and critters are rarely found." (Washington Times)

"Poor need cheap food, says Blair rural aide" - "Haskins dismisses green lobby's campaign for traditional and organic farming as facetious." (Guardian)

"GM labelling definitions cause delay" - "A committee trying to devise guidelines for voluntary labelling of genetically modified foods has hit a snag that could delay development of its proposals, says a member of the committee. Jenny Hillard, vice-president of the Consumers Association of Canada and a member of the group trying to devise proposals for the Canadian General Standards Board, said the work has bogged down over money and definitions of GMOs." (Western Producer)

"US may provoke row over GM food labelling" - "America and Europe are heading for a damaging dispute over European Union plans to label imported food that has been contaminated by genetically modified crops. A leaked memo recording talks between British ministers and senior officials in the Bush administration shows America is furious at EU-wide plans to insist that all food containing more than 1 per cent GM ingredients be labelled with the fact." (Independent)

"Opponents of GM wheat want Ottawa's backing" - "The federal government is offering no promises to protect farmers from the alleged dangers of genetically modified wheat. But a broad coalition of farm and social groups says it will keep pressing until the government agrees on the GM wheat issue. "This is an inadequately tested experiment that has no place on our farms and in our food," said Holly Penfound of Greenpeace at a Winnipeg news conference." (Western Producer)

"Bio-diversity policy will address GMOs; To contain measures protecting native genetic resources" - "Concerns about the impact of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will for the first time be included in the new national policy on biological diversity, a leading forestry academic said. Assoc Prof Utis Kutintara, dean of Kasetsart University's Forestry Faculty, said the current five-year policy on the conservation and depletion of bio-diversity, which expires in 2002, did not mention possible negative effects of GMOs on Thailand's bio-diversity.

Speaking at a brainstorming session on the new policy organised by the Environmental Policy and Planning Office, Mr Utis, who heads the policy drafting sub-committee, said the new policy would contain various measures to protect native genetic resources and bio-diversity from the impact of GMOs. ``The measures include an environmental impact assessment on GMOs, passage of laws and regulations on their import and export, and educating the public about their pros and cons." (Bangkok Post)

"Update: Two Coolings Make One Warming" - "CRU have now altered their graph in the data section of their website three days after their failure of quality control was exposed on this site.

Now they are telling us that both the northern and southern hemispheres in 2001 were the 3rd warmest on record, a result which beggars belief as the satellites show 2001 be very, very, average.

2130 GMT: CRU's online magazine Climate Monitor are still showing the contradictory NHSH,  and Globe graphs.  In addition, CRU have offered no explanation as to why visibly contradictory graphs were allowed to escape their much-vaunted quality control system even though anyone could see the contradiction just by looking at them.  It appears that no-one in CRU's large staff spotted the contradiction even though the graphs were on display for over two weeks." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Roddick in drive to boycott Esso" - "Body Shop founder Anita Roddick has written to the bosses of 20 powerful companies calling on them to join her lead in boycotting Esso. Environmentalists accuse Esso's parent company, ExxonMobil, of sabotaging international efforts to cut global warming by putting pressure on President George W Bush not to ratify the Kyoto protocol. The first two Body Shop lorries bearing the legend 'Boycott Esso' will be on British roads from tomorrow. Roddick has ordered 2,500 Body Shop staff and the firm's distributors to buy their fuel elsewhere. The company will not pay expenses for fuel bought at Esso garages." (Observer)

People with any brains should boycott Body Shop.

World Climate Report Volume 6, Number 24 (August 20, 2001) has been posted.

"Local people try to sink tree farms" - "Local communities are in danger of being swallowed up by massive industrial tree plantations as countries take advantage of clean development mechanisms included in new global environmental guidelines.

``Placing carbon sinks [the use of forest and agricultural land to absorb carbon dioxide] under clean development mechanisms is not a triumph for Mother Earth, it is a defeat,'' Hector Huertas Gonzalez, a representative of indigenous people and local communities, told a climate conference held in Bonn, Germany, two weeks ago.

Mr Gonzalez was worried that carbon sinks would lead to the expansion of industrial tree farms into areas which are now home to local communities and indigenous people." (Bangkok Post)

"Watching Trees Grow" - "When international negotiators concluded the latest round of the Kyoto Protocol deliberations during COP6.5 in Bonn, Germany, a spokesperson for the World Wildlife Fund sniffed that new rules designed to credit Japan, Australia, and Canada for managing their forests as sinks for carbon dioxide emissions do little more than "pay polluters to watch trees grow." Well, why not? There is abundant real-world evidence that a higher atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) will have precisely that effect – and other beneficial effects besides. If industrialized nations are to be stigmatized for being CO2 sources, surely it is a matter of environmental justice that they be credited when they manage their forests, croplands, and grazing lands as sinks for those emissions. Recent reports of new research suggest some management considerations to be taken into account." (Greening Earth Society)

"Bush stance on greenhouse gases prods interest in state controls" - "If Texas ends up with state regulations to curb emissions blamed for global warming, President Bush will be partly responsible. Bush's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol's international mandates for reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is being credited with renewing interest in cutting emissions -- not just among environmentalists but also in Congress and some U.S. corporations." (Houston Chronicle)

"NEW NASA SATELLITE SENSOR AND FIELD EXPERIMENT SHOWS AEROSOLS COOL THE SURFACE BUT WARM THE ATMOSPHERE" - "New research based upon NASA satellite data and a multi-national field experiment shows that black carbon aerosol pollution produced by humans can impact global climate as well as seasonal cycles of rainfall.

Because aerosols that contain black carbon both absorb and reflect incoming sunlight, these particles can exert a regional cooling influence on Earth's surface that is about 3 times greater than the warming effect of greenhouse gases. But even as these aerosols reduce by as much as 10 percent the amount of sunlight reaching the surface, they increase the solar energy absorbed in the atmosphere by 50 percent, thus making it possible to both cool the surface and warm the atmosphere. Scientists are concerned that this heating may perturb atmospheric circulation and rainfall patterns." (NASA/GSFC)

"Clinton environmental legacy affects Bush" - "WASHINGTON, — President George W. Bush's environmental policy has been strongly affected by former president Bill Clinton's actions on the environment over the previous eight years, according to a study by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies.

Along with this study, "Untying the Climate Conundrum Knot," AEI-Brookings — a joint project of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Brookings Institution — has also recently released another study, "National Environmental Policy During the Clinton Years," which looks at developments in that administration's environmental policy during the 1990s, including statutes, regulations, and policies." (Comtex)

August 12-13, 2001

"Keeping OxyContin out of the wrong hands" - "IT IS THE SUMMER of OxyContin, the potent prescription painkiller. Pharmacies in cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland have been held up at gunpoint, and thousands of pills, worth millions on the street, have been stolen. On July 25, the FDA announced a tightened warning on the drug, and days later The New York Times Magazine ran as its cover story, ''The OxyContin Underground: How a Prescription Painkiller is Turning Into a Pernicious Street Drug.'' (Sally Satel, Boston Globe)

"Woman cured of vCJD: report" - "A BRITISH woman suffering from the normally fatal brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) has made an astonishing recovery after becoming the world's first human guinea pig in a new drug trial, the British press reports has reported." (AFP) | Briton 'cured' after CJD drug trial (BBC Online)

Wonder when the autopsy was performed that determined this woman had vCJD.

"CJD-linked meat slurry was used by one-in-10 food makers" - "One in 10 British manufacturers producing pies, sausages and burgers, used cheap meat slurry, which carried a high risk of passing on "mad cow disease". Before it was banned six years ago, mechanically recovered meat (MRM) was, in the early nineties, mass produced and used for food, but the identity of the affected brands is still unknown." (Independent)

Demonstrating just how effective enviro-misinformation is: "Poll: Canadians believe environmental quality down" - "MONTREAL -- More than three-quarters of Canadians believed the quality of the environment declined over the last decade, a poll suggests. The Leger Marketing survey of 1,504 Canadians found 77.2 per cent of respondents believed environmental conditions have gone downhill since the early '90s." (CP)

"Cleanup time" - "UNTIL THE 1970s, General Electric manufacturing plants in Pittsfield and upstate New York discharged an insulating oil containing polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, into two of the Northeast's great rivers, the Housatonic in this state and the Hudson in New York. The arduous and costly process of removing the suspected carcinogen from the sediments of the rivers has moved on separate tracks, with the same goal: getting as much of the pollutant as possible out of the water." (Boston Globe)

Clean up? Stuff up time more like.

"Vaccine dilemma: Anti-MMR mother called 'child abuser'" - "Some doctors' scare tactics leave parents angry and more confused than ever over what to do for the best." (Independent)

"Study suggests wine drinkers are healthier" - "CHICAGO - While studies suggest wine drinkers might be healthier, it may have nothing to do with knowing the difference between a full-bodied cabernet and a bold little merlot. A new study of young Danish adults found that wine drinkers generally are smarter, richer and more educated - all factors that can be associated with better health - than those who don't drink wine." (AP)

"Near Vast Bodies of Water, the Land Still Thirsts" - "This year, with shortages appearing in places that have never doubted the future of their supply, many parts of the country have discovered water may indeed be a commodity more precious than oil. Cities are cutting deals to siphon water from far away, destinies are being reshaped and species put in peril by new plans to dip straws into underground rivers or withered rivers.

A general warming trend, sprawl that covers the sponge of land that normally replenishes the nation's vast underground reservoirs, and the growing demands of agriculture and expanding cities are the reasons most often cited for accelerated water shortages." (New York Times)

"MPs 'misled' over extent of GM fish research" - "Ministers have ordered an inquiry after it emerged that Parliament was misled about the extent of Government-funded research into genetically modified fish." (Independent)

"GM fields spread new superweeds" - "SCIENTISTS have found strong evidence that genetically modified (GM) crops can spread long distances from where they have been planted and spawn "superweeds". The researchers found that GM rapeseed can blow into neighbouring farms and that different GM strains can interbreed, producing superweeds that are resistant to a wide range of herbicides." (Sunday Times)

"Genetically modified crops can help reduce malnutrition" - "KARACHI : Genetically modified crops and food can significantly reduce malnutrition, which can affect more than 800 million people world-wide and would especially be valuable for poor farmers working on marginal lands in sub-Saharan Africa. This observation was made by Human Development Report 2001, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)." (Business Recorder)

The Week That Was August 11, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"Global warming is good news for birds" - "Britain's declining population of farmland birds, including the corn bunting, yellowhammer and the wren, may have an unlikely saviour: global warming. In an unusual departure from its normally dire warnings about the risks of climate change, a report for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds admits that most farmland birds in Britain will prosper under global warming." (Independent)

"Climate change blows crops for medicines into test beds" - "New Zealand's climate change over the past century has raised the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, affecting the distribution of plants. Buffalo grass, once found only in Northland, is moving south. Paspalum now grows wild in Canterbury. In some parts of the world, climate change is causing problems, including the repeated famines in Africa. But here, the changes increase the types of crops that we can grow and provide opportunities to investigate new, valuable crops." (New Zealand Herald)

"Japan needs to play key role to advance Kyoto Protocol" - "The Kyoto Protocol neared completion at the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn. Opposition to the U.S. refusal to accept it gave rise to unexpected progress. Negotiating over global warming is a frustratingly slow process that has already lasted a decade. The only way to advance is for the more than 100 countries involved to narrow their differences and reach a consensus. Even though fighting global warming is a costly undertaking, what supports the negotiations is the rather ideological cause to ``protect the Earth's future.'' The meeting in Bonn highlighted the widening gap between a multilateral effort to achieve a common goal and U.S. unilateralism." (Asahi)

"The clean alternative" - "North York, Ont. -- Every Breath You Take (Aug. 8) presents us with a column-long list of speculative, unproven technologies of unknown costs and potential unforeseen hazards that might reduce our airborne toxic or greenhouse gas emissions, the largest part of which come from electric power generation.

Meanwhile, all of Toronto's record-setting electrical power needs this week were covered by the output of just one plant that uses safe, long-proven technology of known cost-effectiveness, produces no toxic or greenhouse gas emissions, does not depend on non-renewable resources, and has effectively zero negative environmental impact." (Globe and Mail)

August 11, 2001

"Corn Herbicide" - "MUNCIE - Atrazine, the favorite weed killer of feed-corn farmers, is no longer believed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cause cancer. Atrazine residue is commonly found in Midwestern reservoirs, groundwater, streams and rivers, as well as in rural water wells and urban drinking water, including Muncie's.

For years, the herbicide has been classified by EPA as a possible human carcinogen, based on an increase in tumors in laboratory animals. In a revised, preliminary assessment released in January, however, EPA's office of pesticide programs concluded atrazine "is not likely to be carcinogenic to humans." The preliminary assessment concurs with the findings last year of a scientific advisory panel of experts from outside the EPA." (Star Press)

"Institute an Endangered Humans Act" - "Surrounded by a wall of fire spurred by wind in the Okanagan National Forest, trapped firefighters pleaded for more than nine hours on July 11 for water to be dropped by helicopters. By the time water was finally thrown, four young firefighters, two women and two men, lay dead below, consumed by the raging fire, 140 miles northeast of Seattle.

Just what could have possibly caused this tragic delay that resulted in these deaths? Could it have been a shortage of water? Or perhaps complicated technical problems? The answer is none of the above. Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" reported that, according to unidentified firefighters, a dispatch team for the U.S. Forest Service held off on using water from the nearby Chewuch River to extinguish the flame because they were afraid it might harbor endangered fish or some other species." (Washington Times)

"Health Canada Bans Swine Antibiotic" - "Health Canada has banned the sale of the swine antibiotic carbadox after receiving reports of misuse and accidental contamination. Carbadox is sold under the brand name Mecadox by the animal health division of Pfizer Inc. The drug, which can be mixed into livestock feed, was approved in the 1970s for use in Canada and the United States to promote growth in hogs, and prevent and treat dysentery and other conditions. A public health watchdog has been pressuring Health Canada to ban the drug. Health Canada conducted a scientific review of the product. Tests showed that when the by-products of the drug are metabolized, it can cause cancer in rats, the group said in a statement." (AgWeb.com)

"Congressional nannies want to re-shape animal welfare oversight" - "Thirty-six Congressional Democrats and one Socialist, all led by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), want to create a new cabinet-level Federal department (HR 2549). They're calling it the Department of Peace. Among its proposed domestic responsibilities would be the task of writing "policies to address violence against animals." Kucinich has long been a tool of the Nanny Culture - witness his opposition to genetically improved foods. And the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is circulating an e-mail to its activist network today, urging support for this measure. HSUS and PETA have both previously used words like "violence against animals" to describe typical animal-handling procedures on large-scale farms, so it's not a huge leap to think that a "Peace" department could re-make the US meat industry (in an animal-rights image) with a few pen-strokes." (GuestChoice.com)

"DVT: anatomy of a panic" - "As airlines face lawsuits in the UK and Australia from survivors of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) - and as recent reports claim the UK government will order airlines to issue DVT health warnings with tickets for long-haul flights - the preoccupation with DVT seems to be reaching new heights." (Josie Appleton, Sp!ked)

"Australian Public Ill-Served By Misinformation Campaigns Against Gene Technology" - "The Australian public has a limited understanding of gene technology which is exacerbated by misinformation campaigns and confusing media coverage. This is one of the findings of a recent major survey into public attitudes into biotechnology, according to Mr Craig Cormick, the Manager of the Public Awareness for Biotechnology Australia." (Biotechnology Australia Media Backgrounder)

"Open Letter On Human Development Report 2001 - Are We Claiming GM Crops Can Feed The World?" - "(An Open Letter from Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, lead author of the UNDP HDR 2001 Report) UNDP's Human Development Report 2001, "Making New Technologies Work for Human Development", launched 10 July, has generated strong reactions from a number of organisations over the analysis of the potential risks and benefits of genetically modified (GM ) crops in developing countries:

"While the report in general follows the UNDP's highly respected tradition of providing hard facts and a critical view on major development issues, its assessment of Agricultural Biotechnology suspiciously reads as if it had been written by a Public Relations agency to promote genetically modified organisms." - Von Hernandez, Greenpeace, 10 July 2001

"Seven European Countries in Court Over Transgenic Micro-organisms" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, August 10, 2001 - Keeping transgenic micro-organisms from escaping into the environment is critical for the health and safety of the European population and environment, but seven countries have failed to pass laws requiring their containment that incorporate modern standards." (ENS)

This open letter is intended as a reply and further clarification of our position to all of those who are concerned by our views." (Human Development Report Office, United Nations Development Programme)

"Co-op to stop selling GM-reared pork " - "Co-op says it won't stock fresh pork reared on genetically-modified feed, following consumer unease about so-called Frankenstein foods. The Co-operative Group says its own-label fresh pork has been added to a "growing list" of meat and poultry available from animals fed on non-GM feed. GM ingredients are already excluded from all Co-op labelled products, but the chain is trying to work with suppliers to eliminate GM ingredients from animal feed. The fresh pork will be clearly labelled to tell consumers it was reared on non-GM feed. (Ananova)

"P.E.I. groups demand 'gmo-free' zone" - "CHARLOTTETOWN - A coalition of consumer groups in Prince Edward Island is demanding the province ban research of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the island. Thirteen groups have sent a letter to Premier Pat Binns asking a bill be introduced this fall to stem the tide of altered foods. "We are very disturbed (that governments) are going down this path," said Maureen Larkin of the Cooper Institute, a health and lifestyle organization. Other groups include the Council of Canadians, Oxfam and Earth Action." (CBC)

"China plans to become Asian centre for genetic engineering" - "China has signalled plans to become an Asian center for animal and food genetic engineering. Scientists are claiming advances in their cloning trials aimed at saving endangered species. Chinese scientists have been experimenting with producing animal offspring from cloned parents, and the state-run media are reporting success with a cloned goat giving birth to twins at a research center in north-western Shaanxi province. The central government is making a big investment in cloning research because of the prospect that it might allow the preservation of endangered species unique to China, including the giant panda and the freshwater white dolphin." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"SA To Get Own Bio-Technology Strategy" - "The Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the development of a final strategy on bio-technology, a science which combines technology and biology to create new products or improve existing ones.

A draft strategy, compiled by five government departments and independent experts, is to be released for public comment within two weeks, after which it will be formulated into a government policy. Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane told reporters in Pretoria that South Africa had long been engaged with bio-technology, but had failed to extract value from more recent advances in the field.

"Bio-technology can make an important contribution to our national priorities, particularly in the areas of human health, food security, and environmental sustainability," he said." (SAPress)

"Regulator says no to GM secrecy" - "BIDS to keep the location of 87 genetically modified crop sites secret have been rejected and the sites could be published on a government website in four weeks time. The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator said today it had rejected appeals by six companies and universities to suppress information about field trial sites. It published the locations of more than 500 GM crops last month but agribusiness companies Monsanto and Pacific Seeds, pharmaceutical supplier GlaxoSmithKline, and the universities of Queensland, Western Australia and La Trobe had applied to keep some sites secret." (AAP)

"Company rejects decision to reveal GM crop locations" - "The multinational crop company Monsanto plans to appeal against a decision, forcing it to reveal the locations of its trials of genetically modified (GM) crops." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Two Coolings Make One Warming" - "According to the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the Univ. of East Anglia, Norwich, England, both the northern and southern hemispheres (NH & SH) got colder in 2000. But somehow they say the world got warmer in spite of its two halves getting colder!" (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"NOAA Sees Weak or Moderate El Nino Late in Year" - "NEW YORK - The Climate Prediction Center of the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast the formation of a weak or moderate El Nino by late 2001 or early in 2002 as sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific warmed in July." (Reuters)

"NOAA UPS HURRICANE FORECAST A NOTCH AS PEAK SEASON BEGINS" - "August 9, 2001 — With hurricane season hitting its peak period, NOAA hurricane forecasters today said they expect normal to slightly above-normal activity for the rest of the 2001 Atlantic hurricane season. This is a slight increase over the May pre-season forecast, which called for a normal season." (NOAA News)

August 10, 2001

"Medical Journals Hooked on Drug Money" - "Eleven leading medical journals tried this week to extricate themselves from an embarrassing dependence on the pharmaceutical industry. The journals adopted new policies supposedly intended to prevent studies financed by pharmaceutical companies from being inappropriately influenced by the funders. Despite the apparent reasonableness of this action, it's little more than an effort to distract attention from the journals' unseemly addiction to drug money." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Cooking gases can trigger asthma symptoms" - "NEW YORK, Aug 09 - Women with asthma can have measurable declines in breathing function even after a single exposure to cooking gases, a new study has found. And prolonged exposure may lead to the need for more medication.

Dr. T. P. Ng, of the National University of Singapore, and colleagues staged 10-minute cooking sessions with 16 women with mild to severe asthma, all of them nonsmokers, who regularly cooked on gas stoves. Each woman recorded three readings on a peak flow meter, commonly used to measure breathing function in asthmatic patients, before and after single episodes of gas cooking.

Readings decreased about 3% after cooking, while greater levels of nitrogen dioxide, a product of combustion of gases used for cooking, caused further decreases--signifying impairment in normal breathing function.

Based on this, Ng's team concludes that "there is some evidence to suggest that continued exposure from repeated episodes of gas cooking in asthmatic women increases asthma exacerbations."

The researchers do acknowledge, however, that "since Asian cooking tends to use very high temperatures and liberal amounts of spices, the noxious fumes from the cooking rather than the gas stove emissions may trigger acute irritant responses." (Reuters Health)

"Rainforests Are Also A Pandora's Box Of Diseases?" - "KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 - Malaria, Monkeypox, AIDS and Ebola are considered by some scientists to be diseases of deforestation. Can the Nipah Virus, which claimed the lives of 108 humans and 1.1 million pigs during the 1999 outbreak in Malaysia, be added to the list? To these scientists, deforestation of rainforests is like opening the Pandora's box of diseases, especially the so-called new diseases like Monkeypox, AIDS and Ebola." (Bernama)

So, we should like, nuke the rainforests to protect the world from all the hideous diseases they harbour?

"Early heart disease linked to genes, insulin resistance" - "DALLAS, August 10 – Why does heart disease seem to run in families? A new study in the August issue of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association examined families who developed early heart disease to determine if it was due to shared environmental factors – fatty foods, smoking – or if it was related to a “bad heart” gene.

“The study provides further evidence that genes play a large role in early-onset coronary heart disease (CHD) and that it clusters in families, regardless of environmental factors,” says Markku Laakso, M.D., chair of the department of medicine at the University of Kuopio in Finland, and senior author of the study." (American Heart Association)

"Taking aim at accountability" - "In the wake of tragedy, the frenetic scramble for blame can net some unlikely victims. The manufacturer of a product with obvious and well-documented hazards – hazards it makes no attempt to conceal – was the latest target of one such misguided search for culpability." (Washington Times editorial)

"Europe's BSE, vCJD Cases Continue to Rise" - "Switzerland has reported another case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This brings the total number of cases confirmed in Switzerland since the beginning of the year to 22. The cow in question was born in 1995, five years after the introduction of a ban on the use of animal meal in cattle feed, reported Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper." (AgWeb.com)

"UK Food Industry May Have Withheld BSE Information" - "Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is investigating whether the food industry withheld information that could help estimate how many people were exposed to mad cow disease in the 1970s and 1980s. Officials say this information is vital to calculate the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease. The BBC has also reported that there are fears that some potentially contaminated meat ended up in school dinners." (AgWeb.com) | Meat industry attacked over CJD (BBC Online) | Meat industry 'thwarted tracking of BSE trail' (Independent) | Food firms are accused of holding back BSE research (Telegraph) | Research foiled by BSE 'cover-up' (The Times)

Don't see this every day: "Activists attack 'killer trees'" - "Campaigners armed with chainsaws have attacked 66 roadside plane trees in France. Members of the Anti-Plane Tree Commando group say they have caused too many accidents and want the trees removed." (Ananova)

"Who Owns the Earth?" - "DuPont lawyers beat back plaintiffs' drive to stake a below-surface multimillion dollar land claim. You should thank them." (law.com)

"Environmental spinmeisters" - "Shortly before the recent G8 meeting in Genoa, a series of media stories suggested that the United States and Canada were ganging up to quash a report by a G8 Task Force on the potential for renewable energy in the developing world. The report was allegedly being strangled in the cradle because the Canadian government wanted to hang onto its system of subsidies for conventional fuels and CANDU reactor exports, while George Bush was yet again looking after his Texas Buddies. A brighter, renewable energy future -- not to mention the global environment -- was being compromised by selfishness and a playing field tipped in favour of dirty, world-threatening hydrocarbons and dangerous nuclear facilities. What was, in fact, on display was a prime example of the environmental movement's ability to spin the media." (Peter Foster, National Post)

"Nuclear is Back: Deregulation Powers Nuclear Industry Renaissance" - "ATLANTA--Aug. 9, 2001--Policymakers and political leaders, now dealing with deregulation, higher prices for fossil fuels, and global warming, are becoming reacquainted with the virtues of nuclear energy. And nuclear power advocates are finding themselves in a position to benefit from the problems slamming other parts of the energy industry." (BUSINESS WIRE)

"EPA Panel to Review New Diesel Sulfur Rules" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will convene a panel of automakers, oil refiners, environmental groups and other experts to reexamine Clean Air Act standards that limit sulfur content in diesel fuel, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Diesel rule may hinge on U.S. policy shift" - "OTTAWA -- Canada may back away from deadlines it has set for oil companies to reduce the sulphur content in diesel fuel if the United States does so, leading critics to charge that the country's environmental policy is increasingly being set south of the border." (Globe and Mail)

"Poisonous playgrounds?" - "Arsenic-laced wood prompts concerns" (Francesca Lyman [who else?], MSNBC)

"Weeds 'can inherit long-lived genes'" - "US scientists say crops can pass on to related weeds genetic traits that persist for six generations or more." (BBC Online) | Ohio State release

Um, this has always been the case. The fact that the world has not been inundated with sweet corn or broccoli suggests, however, that this is not particularly significant.

"Genetically modified grains – what the markets are telling us" - "Genetically modified crops will affect the Australian grains industry irrespective of any Australian decision to adopt them or not,’ Dr Brian Fisher, Executive Director of ABARE, said today when releasing the ABARE report, Genetically modified grains: implications for Australian grain growers.

The report contains key financial and physical characteristics for specialist and mixed enterprise wool ‘There has been rapid adoption of genetically modified grain crops in north and south America that has probably lowered prices to consumers and shifted comparative advantage in grain production in favor of the producers of these crops’, said Dr Fisher." (ABARE media release)

"Report says limited premium for GM free" - "A new report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics has found price premiums for non-genetically modified grain are limited at best." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"VFF says no to GM free zones" - "The Victorian Farmers Federation says it will not support any push to create genetically-modified free zones in the state. A handful of Victorian shires have already declared themselves GM free. But a paper produced by the VFF says the zones are impractical and have no real economic advantages." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Brazil backs off approving GM soybeans--papers" - "SAO PAULO, Aug 9 - Brazil's Agriculture Ministry reversed its previous position that it would soon approve Monsanto brand genetically modified soybeans for sale in Brazil, local newspapers reported on Thursday. Agriculture Minister Pratini de Moraes abandoned the idea that the ministry was likely approve the marketing of Roundup Ready GM soybeans by Monsanto this week or in the immediate future, as had been the ministry's stance over the last few weeks, reported the financial daily Gazeta Mercantil." (Reuters)

"Swiss Cook Book Aims to Give 'Frankenfood' Flavor" - "ZURICH - How about a nice, steaming dish of genetically modified (GM) carrots as a way to whet skeptical consumers' appetite for scientifically engineered food? That's one of the suggestions in what is being billed as the world's first cookbook featuring only GM ingredients, penned by an energetic champion of the controversial technology who is also a passionate cook." (Reuters)

"Damages charge of 20p for anti-GM crop protesters" - "Jim Dutton's genetically modified maize field at Sunnymead farm near Wivenhoe, Essex, is thought to hold the record for the number of times protesters have tried to trash it. In the past few weeks there have been at least 12 night-time attempts and one daylight foray to destroy the government test trial." (Guardian)

"Japan, U.S. to hold ministerial climate talks in Sept." - "TOKYO, Aug. 9 - Japan and the United States have reached a basic agreement to hold ministerial talks over an international pact aimed at curbing global warming in late September in the U.S., a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said Thursday." (Kyodo)

"Japan undecided on Kyoto but prepares to ratify" - "TOKYO - Japanese government officials say they are preparing to ratify the Kyoto agreement on global warming even without US participation and despite Tokyo's official indecision as yet over whether to endorse the pact." (Reuters)

"NZ to ratify Kyoto next year" - "New Zealand aims to ratify the Kyoto pact on fighting climate change by September next year, the government announced on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Hill rejects call for environment taxes" - "The Federal Government and the Opposition rejected yesterday an OECD call for Australia to introduce environment taxes, despite support from rural backbenchers. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's latest report showed Australia's economy was faring well and said a carbon tax would be a cost-effective way to benefit the environment. Environment Minister Robert Hill branded the call Eurocentric, saying the Government was instead focused on building economic growth with a low-tax environment. "We're not going to impose another tax," he said." (Canberra Times)

August 9, 2001

Never "safer" - never less trusted: "Shoppers 'losing faith in supermarkets'"  - "Consumers are losing faith in supermarkets, with only one in six trusting them to sell safe food, according to new research. And three in four people (76%) are more concerned than ever before about the safety of the food they buy, the Good Housekeeping magazine survey found.

The survey found that 83% of people would pay around an extra £9 a week on their food bills to ensure safety. The top six concerns about food safety revealed by the survey were pesticides on crops (84%), food additives (82%), antibiotics in meat (79%), listeria or salmonella (72%), e-coli (71%) and BSE/CJD (70%)." (Ananova)

"No signs Swedish soldiers were exposed to uranium" - "STOCKHOLM, Aug 08 - Tests to confirm that Swedish soldiers who served in Kosovo were not exposed to depleted uranium have found that they actually have lower uranium levels than soldiers who stayed in Sweden.

Swedish Armed Services researchers tested a total of 400 Swedish soldiers--200 who had spent 6 months in Kosovo and 200 who were waiting to go to Kosovo but were never sent.

Soldiers who had not performed a tour of duty in Kosovo had four times the average level of uranium in their urine as soldiers who had just returned from Kosovo, according to a report released Tuesday from the Swedish Armed Forces. Despite the difference, none of the soldiers had unexpectedly high levels." (Reuters Health)

"Widespread 'superbug' is expert at acquiring drug-resistance" - "One of the most widely disseminated strains of an antibiotic-resistant bacterium responsible for hundreds of infections in European hospitals can be traced back to the 1950s, according to researchers at The Rockefeller University. Using the molecular tool called DNA fingerprinting, they have shown that this persistent lineage of Staphylococcus aureus is an expert at acquiring resistance to antibiotics." (Rockefeller University)

"OxyContin 'smart pill' to prevent abuse" - "ROANOKE, Va. - Seeking a drug that would be difficult to abuse, the maker of OxyContin, a prescription painkiller linked to a growing number of overdoses and deaths, said Wednesday that it has come up with blueprints for a "smart pill" that will ward off potential abusers.

The new painkiller, which has yet to be named and would not be available for at least three years, would destroy its own narcotic ingredients if crushed into a powder and snorted or injected - the typical manner in which OxyContin currently is abused." (AP)

"June babies have higher risk of anorexia" - "Anorexic women are most likely to have been born in the spring or early summer, reports a researcher in Scotland. The finding raises the possibility that a common winter infection, such as flu, may predispose an unborn baby to the condition." (New Scientist)

"Failure of Malaria Drugs and Pesticides Prompt Scientists to Return to Centuries-Old Agricultural Remedies" - "The resurgence of malaria and the rise of more dangerous forms of the disease have led scientists to recommend a return to common-sense control practices not widely used in more than half a century. Malaria, which health officials considered defeated in the 1950s and early 1960s, is making a comeback, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa." (futureharvest.org)

"International pollution a threat to Greenland" - "FREDENSBORG, Aug 08 - Chemicals originating in the US, Europe and Asia are polluting the atmosphere and oceans around the apparently pristine region of East Greenland, possibly risking the long-term health of inhabitants of the area, scientists report.

In an ongoing project, researchers at the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) have found that the inhabitants of the Eastern parts of Greenland have dangerously high levels of environmental toxins--including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides--in their blood. Although they show no signs of acute poisoning, there is a long-term risk of grave health problems, including hormonal disturbances, increased breast or prostate cancer risk, compromised immune function and birth defects. (Reuters Health)

"Govt backs deep-vein thrombosis study" - "The federal government would conduct a major study on the threat of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) to long-distance air travellers, Transport Minister John Anderson said. The Health Department study would involve data-matching up to 10,000 medical and travel records held by government agencies. It would reveal the proportion of travellers developing DVT or its more serious consequence, pulmonary embolism. Preliminary results are expected next March." (AAP)

"EPA Seeks To Narrow Pollution Initiative" - "The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that an aggressive Clinton administration initiative to reduce emissions from aging coal-fired power plants should be scaled back, after intense lobbying by the utility and refinery industries.

Under the Clean Air Act, the Clinton administration and states filed lawsuits against dozens of older power plants, alleging that they broke the law by expanding their facilities without adding modern anti-pollution devices to combat dangerous emissions. After three months of review, the Bush administration has concluded that the EPA was too inflexible in interpreting what types of plant upgrades warranted expensive new emissions controls." (Washington Post)

"Insurers Say Environmental Tax Failing to Deliver" - "BERLIN. The environmental tax, already unpopular with millions of Germans and an enduring flashpoint in the federal coalition government, took another blow on Tuesday. It came in the form of an estimate by the Association of German Pension Insurance Agencies, the VDR, that the tax on energy will fail to yield enough revenues to subsidize promised reductions in state pension premiums." (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

"The truth about the environment" - "Environmentalists tend to believe that, ecologically speaking, things are getting worse and worse. Bjorn Lomborg, once deep green himself, argues that they are wrong in almost every particular." (The Economist)

"Ralph Nader: genetic engineering is "the new slavery"" - "It would be funny if he weren't serious. In a recent speech, Ralph Nader loudly criticized the food biotech industry for daring to protect the value of its scientific advances. "The new slavery," he said, "is the ownership and control of the genetic inheritance of the world - the flora, the fauna and the human genes." Perhaps Nader would prefer the alternative, with absolutely no one investing the money, time, and human capital that it takes to develop new crops to feed the Third World." (GuestChoice.com)

"INTERVIEW - Brazil black market in GM soybeans booming" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - In Brazil, the world's No. 2 soybean grower and exporter after the United States, a ban on genetically modified crops has created a thriving black market in bioengineered soybeans that is bringing conventional seed suppliers to their knees, an industry official said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Benefiting From GE Crops" - "GE technology has shown promise of reducing the farm production costs by minimising the use of chemical pesticides, simplifying agronomic practices, improving productivity or by enhancing the value of crops. INDIAN FARMERS will immensely benefit if they are empowered with genetically engineered (GE) seeds that have capacities to work with relatively fewer inputs. The green revolution, which is based on conventional methods of breeding and selection, has reached a plateau. Excessive use of fertilizers has caused land degradation, manifesting salinity and alkalinity. Pesticides, though efficacious, have caused enormous damage because of non-judicious use or have accidentally impacted non-target organisms. Productive seeds with quality traits to match the above adversities can be developed by using genetic engineering technology." (The Hindu)

"Growing More Food On Less Land" - "During the last 50 years, the total production of food grains in India has jumped from 51 million tonnes in 1950-51 to the current level of 206 million tonnes, resulting in a self-sufficiency in food. The green revolution ushered in a “reductionist agriculture” which led at first to rapid growth in productivity but has now created crops that are increasingly dependent on higher, more costly and less efficient doses of fertilizer and pesticide. Indian cultivators are showering their crops with an estimated 90,000 tonnes of around 140 odd pesticides every year." (Telegraph, India)

"Japan Health Ministry Study OKs Monsanto GMO Potato" - "A study group on food sanitation and biotechnology under a health ministry council said that U.S.-based Monsanto Co.'s New Leaf Plus genetically modified potatoes are safe, Kyodo News Service reports.

The group, comprising outside experts under the council on pharmaceutical affairs and food sanitation of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, also decided, in line with its finding, to compile a report that the potatoes pose no health risks. The group said the import and sale of the gene-altered potatoes are expected to be officially approved in the fall at the earliest after top-level deliberations and assessment of public opinion, according to Kyodo." (Kyodo News)

"OECD says new taxes needed to control environmental problems" - "The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says Australia should bring in new taxes to control environmental problems like salinity and greenhouse gas emissions. But the Federal Government rejects the suggestion.

The OECD calls on Australia to make energy dearer. It says major economic restructuring is needed to overcome Australia's reliance on greenhouse gas producing industries and says an economy-wide tax is a way to do it. The Treasurer Peter Costello and the Environment Minister, Robert Hill, do not accept that tax is the answer. "We're opposed to carbon taxes, we think the best way to address environmental problems is with a strong economy," Mr Hill said." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Gov't panel says gas tax would reduce CO2 emissions" - "TOKYO, Aug. 8 - An Environment Ministry panel released a report Wednesday saying an environmental tax on gasoline and other fossil fuels would be effective in reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). ''The tax could be levied on various taxpayers including those in households and the transportation industry. It would have a considerable effect even at such a low tax rate as 2 yen per liter of gasoline,'' according to the report." (Kyodo)

"Bonn Voyage" - "Last month's international greenhouse gas reduction plan--negotiated without U.S. participation--is full of hot air." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Is Kyoto on your shopping list?" - "George Bush is the big business president. That, at least, is a charge critics have levelled against him many times since he arrived at the White House in January. But now a group of UK-based activists are seeking to play the president at his own game by turning American shoppers and multi-million dollar companies against him." (BBC Online)

"Studies link urban development, hotter temperatures" - "Global warming may have disastrous effects on the environment in years to come, but local warming - triggered by all the spreading concrete and pavement - is already heating things up. The effect is called an "urban heat island," and it's an accepted fact in cities across the country, where it's blamed for boosting air-conditioning bills and worsening smog." (Raleigh News & Observer)

Guess what? UHIE is also the most likely cause of illusory "global warming" as the surface temperature amalgams are progressively skewed with urban UHIE-affected readings while rural stations are closed. That would explain the discrepancy between near-surface amalgams (which suggest unusual warming) and satellite and balloon-sonde readings (which do not).

"Scientists fit another piece of global-warming puzzle" - "Tiny, previously unknown bacteria are turning out to be key sustainers of ocean life and its ability to sequester global-warming carbon dioxide." (Christian Science Monitor) | Scientists discover new source of natural fertilizer in oceans (University of California - Santa Cruz)

"Climate change challenges tree survival" - "With pollen fossils as their guide, paleoecologists track the migration of ancient forests, which are steered to new landscapes by long-term climate change. In a symposium held in her honor, University of Minnesota paleoecologist Margaret B. Davis reports that some trees may not meet the challenge of adapting to today's rapid changes in temperature and moisture." (BioMedNet News)

"Government Kyoto Deal Betrays New Zealand Forestry" - "ACT Forestry Spokesman Ken Shirley today revealed details from a secret Government-funded report, which finds that adherence to the Kyoto Protocol will strip billions of dollars of value from New Zealand's forest growing sector, drive our processing industries offshore and result in lost investment and jobs. "The NZIER report, funded by the Ministry of Economic Development and industry for the joint wood processing strategy working group, exposes the nonsense of New Zealand's excessively enthusiastic support for the Kyoto Protocol. "The Government has promised to ratify this flawed Protocol next year, and in the process will betray the New Zealand forestry sector along with other industries. "The Protocol arbitrarily classifies forests on the date they were planted, with pre-1990 plantings attracting carbon debits, effectively a tax, upon harvest, but conversely, post 1990 forests (Kyoto forests) earn a carbon credit ' a windfall gain." (scoop.co.nz)

"What's Worse? Global Warming or Global Cooling?" - "Many scientists and politicians continue to blame modern-day industrial emissions as the leading cause of a problem known as global warming, but a spokesman for the conservative environmental group Greening Earth Society warns that volcanoes pose another environmental threat -- global cooling -- a problem that is often ignored." (CNSNews.com)

August 8, 2001

"Scare-Mongering Over 'Hillybilly Heroin' Deprives the Rest of Us" - "Substance abusers have a problem the rest of us should be penalized for. That seems to be the liberal view, anyway. Last Sunday's New York Times Magazine featured a cover story about OxyContin, a wonder drug for chronic pain caused by cancer, other diseases and injuries." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"FDA advice on fish consumption" - "For Americans concerned about mercury levels in certain types of fish, guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration should prove reassuring. FDA says eating a variety of fish - the normal pattern of consumption - does not put people at risk of mercury poisoning. It is when people follow fad diets, eating one type of food or one species of fish, that problems could arise." (Christian Science Monitor)

Hmm... see FDA's Mercurial Fish Story by The Junkman

Letter of the moment: click here to see Martha Perske's (unpublished) letter taking the Globe and Mail to task for their appalling misrepresentation of a Health Canada study.

"Malaria killing 2.7 million a year" - "The human death toll caused by malaria could be more than double previous estimates and more than 75 per cent of victims are African children. A study by the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria has found that up to 2.7 million people die annually from the disease, compared with the broad estimate of "more than one million" cited by scientists and journalists for the last 50 years." (Canberra Times)

Oddly, this announcement seems to have come as a considerable shock, at least to journalists used to parroting anti-chemical activist propaganda. The 2.7 million estimate has actually been in use for some time, in fact it is the figure used, along with a conservative 400 million annual morbidity, in the Malaria Clock. While we got the 2.7m figure from WHO documents, Malaria.org and ESEF in 1999, the WHO apparently still persists in using the much lower 1950s estimate on their web site. Go figure.

"Baltimore to fight West Nile Virus with pesticides" - "BALTIMORE - Declaring itself the epicenter of the West Nile Virus this year, Baltimore announced it would spray a city park Tuesday night with pesticides for mosquitoes." (AP)

"Baltimore Official Retracts West Nile Remark" - "BALTIMORE - Baltimore may get its first human case of West Nile virus this summer, but local health commissioner Peter Beilenson says he went too far in describing the city as the new U.S. "epicenter" for the sometimes-fatal disease." (Reuters)

"You spray, so pay: US cabin crews" - "A United States airline has known for eight years that bug-killers sprayed in jets flying to New Zealand could harm passengers and crew, staff claim. Susan Matthews of Colorado has filed a lawsuit in Illinois seeking at least $US50,000 ($119,000) from United Airlines for having to work in cabins sprayed to meet New Zealand and Australian laws. Airlines and New Zealanders specialising in poisons and allergies believe the sprays are safe. But the lawsuit is backed by the US Association of Flight Attendants, which wants compensation for members." (New Zealand Herald)

"Risk Assessment Underlines Safety Of CCA-Preserved Wood; Leading Toxicologist Declares CCA-Preserved Wood Safe for Public Use" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A new scientific analysis has confirmed once again that there is no undue health risk from the use of CCA-preserved wood. The human health risk assessment (HHRA) was conducted by Gradient Corporation, an environmental consulting firm specializing in environmental risk assessment, and presented today at a meeting at the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Bethesda, MD." (U.S. Newswire)

"Ethanol fuel from corn faulted as 'unsustainable subsidized food burning' in analysis by Cornell scientist" - "ITHACA, N.Y. -- Neither increases in government subsidies to corn-based ethanol fuel nor hikes in the price of petroleum can overcome what one Cornell University agricultural scientist calls a fundamental input-yield problem: It takes more energy to make ethanol from grain than the combustion of ethanol produces. At a time when ethanol-gasoline mixtures (gasohol) are touted as the American answer to fossil fuel shortages by corn producers, food processors and some lawmakers, Cornell's David Pimentel takes a longer range view." (Cornell University)

"Rep. Knollenberg Declines A Larger Cup of CAFE" - "Advancing conservation was one goal contained in the comprehensive energy legislation the House passed just before going on its annual August recess. Amid the bill's bevy of energy-saving provisions lies a re-opening of higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ), or miles per gallon, standards. The current 27.5 mpg benchmark for passenger cars and the 20.7 mpg standard for light trucks, SUVs, and minivans have been in place for years. Yet the desire for higher fuel efficiency has long faced a tradeoff against the additional deaths on the road due to more smaller and lighter vehicles. That policy dilemma is not all that different this year either." (James K. Glassman interviews Rep. Knollenberg)

Henry Payne's comment

"A third of European produce tainted by pesticide: Commission" - "PARIS: A third of the fruit, vegetables and cereals eaten in Europe contain pesticides and almost one in 20 crops is contaminated with illegal levels of the chemicals, the European Commission said Monday. The commission uncovered the high levels of 142 kinds of pesticide after testing 40,000 samples of produce collected in 1999 from the 15 European Union countries plus Iceland and Norway, it announced. France, the continent's largest agricultural exporter, had one of the highest levels of contamination, with more than half of its production affected and 8.3 percent containing higher than permitted levels of pesticides." (AFP)

"UK Food Watchdog, Organic Group To Discuss Food Research" - "LONDON -- The U.K.`s Food Standard Agency and the pro-organic lobby group Soil Association will meet later this year to discuss what further research can be done to compare organic food with conventional food, an FSA spokeswoman said Monday.

``There was a meeting on Friday to discuss what meaningful research can be done (in this area),`` said the spokeswoman for the U.K. food watchdog. She added that there is no set date yet for the next meeting, which will include other representatives from the organic sector and from consumer organizations.

The FSA announcement comes after the Soil Association released a report Monday contradicting a study by the FSA last October that said there wasn`t enough evidence to say organic food is nutritionally different from non-organic food." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Organic (double) standards" - "It was inevitable that when Sir John Krebs, Chairman of the Food Standards Agency, first punctured the myths surrounding organic food, he would become a target for both personal abuse and zealous attempts to prove him wrong. So has his 'comeuppance' now finally arrived? Has the Soil Association now triumphed over the government bureaucrats at the FSA? Less than careful reading of the British Press might lead us so to conclude." (Social Issues Research Centre)

"Tobacco plant may help in cancer fight" - "OWENSBORO, Ky. - Could the much-maligned tobacco plant be used to help cancer patients? A California biotech company says it can, and it has set up shop in tobacco country to prove it. Large Scale Biology of Vacaville, Calif., has built a commercial ``biopharmaceutical production facility`` in this Ohio River community of 54,000. It is one of a handful of companies harnessing plants to produce useful human proteins." (AP)

"Read Any Good Fruit?" - "The E.U. approves tough new labeling for GM food, pleasing activists and complicating trade relations." (Time Europe)

CSPI, the voice of... reason? "Lessen the fear of genetically engineered crops" - 'WASHINGTON - Protesters carrying signs stating "Biocide is Homicide" and shouting concerns about the risks of eating genetically engineered foods recently demonstrated outside the biotechnology industry's annual convention. Inside the convention center, industry extolled the safety of genetically engineered foods and the benefits of future crops like "golden rice."

Neither corporate hyperbole nor radical slogans do much to inform the public. What is needed is the shaping of sensible measures to ensure that genetically engineered foods are safe. The first few first engineered crops are already providing remarkable benefits. Cotton modified to kill insects has greatly diminished farmers' use of toxic insecticides, thereby reducing costs, increasing yields, and, presumably, reducing harm to nontarget species. Likewise, biotech soybeans facilitate no-till farming, which reduces soil erosion and water pollution." (Gregory A. Jaffe, Christian Science Monitor)

"Indonesia Now Into GM Crop Production" - "This country has ventured into the production of a genetically modified (GM) crop. This gives Indonesia the distinction of being the first Southeast Asian country to go into the commercial production of a GM crop - cotton. Now robustly growing in 4,000 hectares in seven districts in South Sulawesi province are GM cotton plants being grown by thousands of Indonesian farmers. They expect to harvest their Bt cotton crop in August. And this early, they are looking forward to a bountiful harvest, as hundreds of them did last year when they participated in the trials of the promising cash crop." (Philippine Star)

"Cosmic rays linked to ozone hole" - "Cosmic rays are eating away at the Earth's protective ozone layer, say Canadian radiation scientists Qing-Bin Lu and Leon Sanche of the University of Sherbrooke. They claim to have discovered an important process underlying the growing ozone hole over the southern hemisphere. But atmospheric scientists are not so sure.

Lu and Sanche analysed ozone and cosmic ray data taken from ground stations, weather balloons and satellites. In a forthcoming paper in Physical Review Letters, they report a strong correlation between cosmic ray intensity and ozone depletion across different levels of the atmosphere and different latitudes. They also found that changes in ozone concentration matched fluctuating cosmic ray intensity between 1979 to 1992." (New Scientist)

"Environmental Leadership" - "It has become the mantra of nearly everyone worried about potential global warming: leadership.  Just last Thursday (2 August 2001), the most recent worthies to decry what they view as a lack of this virtue in the Bush White House issued a call for U.S. power plants and industries to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide.  Said Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, as quoted in the next day’s Washington Post, "the United states has a responsibility to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases," adding that "the current situation demands leadership."  Likewise, saying he had been "extremely troubled by the failure of our government to engage on this crucial issue," Connecticut’s Sen. Joseph Lieberman claimed "this failure abdicates the United States’ position as a leader in environmental affairs." Nothing could be further from the truth." | A Diminished Kyoto Protocol | A 1240-Year Record of Arctic Temperatures | Historical Flooding in Norway | (co2science.org)

"Scientists wary of climate change" - "Scientists say that changes in atmospheric conditions will lead to more torrential rain, and that steps have to be taken now to avert future tragedy." (Taipei Times)

"Global Warming's Victims Could Take U.S. to Court" - "LONDON As the rich world keeps falling out over how to deal with global warming, exasperated poor countries may come to the conclusion that when all else fails, it's time go to court. Poor countries suffer most from the increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather delivered by global warming, and the measures contained in the weakened Kyoto Protocol will offer little relief. As the climate keeps getting worse, what should they do?" (International Herald Tribune)

"Bonn gets agreement back on track" - "The agreement reached last month at the resumed climate change conference in Bonn has kept the world on track for dealing with global warming. But the agreement has weakened the targets set in the Kyoto Protocol." says Environmental Defence Society's Gary Law (New Zealand Herald)

"Hair shirts useless without support" - "Few could be surprised that global warming politics have become so fraught. For populists, it is a "good guy/bad guy" story. Those Europeans who have just indulged in what the Economist described as "a record-breaking display of righteous indignation" at the expense of the United States illustrate this aspect." (New Zealand Herald)

"Limiting greenhouse gases in India and China" - "A series of studies conducted by Daniel Sperling, PhD, of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California at Davis is pinpointing inexpensive ways to curb heat-trapping emissions from the transportation sector in developing countries." (ENN)

August 7, 2001

"California court deals blow to American anti-gun lobby" - "SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - Gun control advocates have received a major setback from California's Supreme Court. In a 5-1 decision, the justices ruled firearms manufacturers cannot be held legally responsible for the criminal use of their weapons. Activists were attempting to sue Navegar Incorporated over a 1993 attack, citing negligence in marketing weapons used in crime." (CBC) | Calif. Supreme Court says gunmaker not liable for use of weapons in killing spree (AP)

"Dredging up more junk science" - "When the Bush administration lands on the same side of an issue as the New York Times editorial board, Sen. Hillary Clinton, New York Democrat, and the Sierra Club, it's time to clear out the cockpit. The administration's latest junk science decision should cause Bush supporters to wonder: Is Al Gore secretly manning the EPA?" (Michelle Malkin, Washington Times)

"Study shows simple steps can reduce dust mite allergens in bedrooms" - "Some simple steps - allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers, weekly laundering of other bedding and very careful vacuuming and dry steam cleaning of bedroom carpets and upholstery -- can significantly reduce the levels of dust mite allergens in bedrooms, scientists with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the University of Washington and Harvard University reported today." (NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)

"Weight more closely linked to early puberty in preteen white girls than black girls" - "CHAPEL HILL – Being overweight is closely associated with earlier-than-average puberty in white girls but much less so in black girls, the first large study of the subject shows. While a link between obesity and onset of puberty also exists among black girls, the connection is weak, researchers say, but they don’t know why." (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"Tea, chocolate may be heart-healthy snacks" - "NEW YORK, Aug 06 - Compounds found in black tea, apples and chocolate may help protect against heart disease, study findings suggest. Elderly men who consumed the most of the compounds, called catechins, were 51% less likely to die of ischemic heart disease over 10 years, compared with men who consumed the least. Ischemic heart disease occurs when narrowed arteries reduce the amount of blood and oxygen getting to the heart." (Reuters Health)

"Steve Connor: Is this a food scare or should I stop eating lamb?" - "Following the BSE outbreak, and its subsequent link with new-variant CJD, it was agreed on all sides that greater openness must ensue between the scientific community, politicians and the public. Yesterday's reports linking BSE with sheep are a case in point. BSE has not yet been found in sheep, but the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has indicated that experiments under evaluation may well come to that conclusion. Yet what is the consumer to do with this incomplete information?" (Independent)

Consumers should ignore it. It's a moot point as to whether the "information" (read "speculative rumination") should have been publicised at all for it serves absolutely no public good and has probably caused harm by terrorising an already fearful populace. Were the people somehow empowered by this kite-flying exercise? Can they perhaps change their choices of a decade ago? Obviously they cannot and so the "could, might be, vague possibility of, nobody has any idea yet" media release serves no purpose beyond frightening little old ladies at their tea tables.

The much vaunted (and usually completely useless) public "right to know" desperately needs some application guidelines - may I suggest beginning with "Make certain you have sound and useful information before addressing the public" and following that with "Be absolutely sure that the public will benefit from the information." Speculation over "Sheep BSE" (Ovine Spongiform Encephalopathy perhaps?) meets neither of those criteria and should not have been published yet.

"Organic Food Is Better for You, UK Farm Group Says" - "LONDON - Britain should stop treating people like laboratory animals and start producing more natural organic food products that are safer and healthier, a report said on Monday. The report by the Soil Association, which campaigns for organic agriculture, rejected claims by some food experts that organic food was no better for the public than most of the products found on supermarket shelves." (Reuters) | Research shows organically-grown food is safer and healthier, insists Soil Association (Independent) | Report proves organic food is healthier, farm group insists (The Times)

Naturally, Greenpeace et al immediately denounced as 'seriously flawed' and 'totally unreliable' an industry-produced report, saying that there could be few things less reliable than self-promotions issuing from multinational conglomerates interested only in profits and the bottom line. Oops! No they didn't - but to be consistent they should have.

Heartland.org's Environment & Climate News, August 2001 issue is available.

"Bjorn Lomborg: A Chipper Environmentalist" - "The news from environmental organizations is almost always bleak. The climate is out of whack. Insidious chemicals taint food and drink. Tropical forests are disappearing. Species are perishing en masse. Industrial poisons pollute air, earth and water. Ecosystems are being stressed to the breaking point by the greedy, wasteful consumption of the Western lifestyle and its would-be imitators.

So it is a surprise to meet someone who calls himself an environmentalist but who asserts that things are getting better, that the rate of human population growth is past its peak, that agriculture is sustainable and pollution is ebbing, that forests are not disappearing, that there is no wholesale destruction of plant and animal species and that even global warming is not as serious as commonly portrayed.

Strange to say, the author of this happy thesis is not a steely-eyed economist at a conservative Washington think tank but a vegetarian, backpack-toting academic who was a member of Greenpeace for four years." (New York Times)

"FEATURE - Britain's Thames getting better all the time" - "LONDON - Britain's River Thames has been transformed from a cesspit into one of the cleanest urban waterways in the world in just 30 years." (Reuters)

"Study finds road humps have hidden danger" - "A new study says road humps increase the amount of pollution from cars. The traffic-calming measures can send carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide emission levels rising by between 20% and 60%." (Ananova)

"German industry, greens slam nuclear phaseout pact" - "BERLIN - German industry told a government hearing yesterday a new law phasing out nuclear energy would deprive it of vital electricity supplies which could not be replaced by a planned expansion of renewable energy." (Reuters)

"FEATURE - Germany has mixed record in drive for cleaner air" - "BERLIN - Germany likes to portray itself as the world's environmental policeman - wagging a green finger at the rest of the planet for failing to clean the dirty air over factories and power plants. Boasting that it has cut its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 18 percent in the last decade, Germany wants the world to be more German in the crusade to stop global warming by reducing the output of deadly greenhouse gases. But a closer look at the record shows, at best, a mixed performance." (Reuters)

This looks like a Reuters recycle but, what the heck, recycling is supposed to be so good for the planet.

"GM seeks to weaken clean air, diesel restrictions - WSJ" - "NEW YORK - General Motors Corp. , is quietly preparing a push to loosen the nation's clean-air rules to allow wider use of diesel engines as fuel-saving alternatives to thirsty gasoline light-truck engines, the Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition yesterday." (Reuters)

"Survey: GM Food Better Be Good for You" - "SYDNEY - What's in it for me? Australian research is showing this may be the key question in selling genetically modified (GM) foods to consumers. Surveys by government agency Biotechnology Australia show that the strongest consumer acceptance of genetic engineering is for GM foods with health benefits, such as lower cholesterol in oils, lower sugar content, or improved nutrition. If consumers perceive that the motive behind genetic modification is blind profit, the product may not sell." (Reuters)

"Taiwanese president says biotech is the big business of the future" - "TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's leader on Monday predicted that biotechnology will be one of the biggest businesses in the future and lamented that the island's resources in the new field were lagging behind other developed economies. Only about 4,000 people were researching biotechnology in Taiwan, President Chen Shui-bian told scientists and business leaders attending a biotechnology seminar." (AP)

Sigh... "INTERVIEW - Chinese dams could help Laos fight floods" - "BANGKOK - Chinese plans to dam the upper Mekong river could help Laos cope with flooding caused by global warming, a senior United Nations official has said." (Reuters)

"Too much gas in Kyoto, ANU finds" - "If the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emission reductions is ratified, most developed nations will be able to meet their commitments without reducing their gross gas emissions." (Canberra Times)

"Aide: Bush Warming Plan Likely; Card Is 'Optimistic' Kyoto Alternative Will Be Ready by Fall" - "White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. said yesterday the administration would likely present fresh proposals for revising a global warming treaty when the United States meets again with other environmental ministers in Morocco this fall, in the wake of growing congressional criticism of President Bush's handling of the issue." (Washington Post)

"Norway says will not use Kyoto "sink" loophole" - "OSLO - Norway said yesterday it would not use existing "carbon sink" loopholes in the Kyoto climate pact to bump up its current allowance of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions." (Reuters)

"Counting the costs of Kyoto deal" - "Against the odds, an international agreement to tackle global warming has survived the withdrawal of the largest emitter, the United States. After last month's conference in Bonn, it is now likely that New Zealand will proceed with its stated intention of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol next year along with enough other countries to ensure the protocol comes into force, creating binding obligations and enforceable property rights." (New Zealand Herald)

August 6, 2001

"Women living longer than ever" - "The life expectancies of both Japanese men and women increase in 2000, the health ministry says. Japanese women live an average 84.62 years, an increase of about seven and a half months, while men can expect to live to 77.64 years, a six-month jump, according to the report." (Asahi Shimbun)

Funny, I thought the Japanese had one of the highest adult smoking rates in the world and yet they are long lived.

From the "thin but interesting" file: "Does tobacco smoke prevent atopic disorders? A study of two generations of Swedish residents" - "Conclusions: This study demonstrates an association between current exposure to tobacco smoke and a low risk for atopic disorders in smokers themselves and a similar tendency in their children. There is a need for further studies with a prospective design to certify the causal direction of this association. Smoking habits and atopic disorder in parents should not be considered independent variables in epidemiological studies of the connection between exposure to tobacco smoke and atopy in children." (Clinical & Experimental Allergy 31 (6), 908-914)

"A Stand for Scientific Independence; Medical Journals Aim to Curtail Drug Companies' Influence" - "Editors at the world's most prominent medical journals, alarmed that drug companies are exercising too much control over research results, have agreed to adopt a uniform policy that reserves the right to refuse to publish drug company-sponsored studies unless the researchers involved are guaranteed scientific independence.

The New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, the Annals of Internal Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) are among the journals that have agreed to publish a joint editorial in mid-September outlining the new policy, which was drafted by a committee of editors over the last several months." (Washington Post)

"Asthma in children up despite drop in death rate" - "Asthma rates among Australian children are still rising and the death rate from the disease is double that of Britain, despite a big fall in the number of deaths since a peak in the 1980s." (Sydney Morning Herald)

Very dramatic: "double that of Britain." For the record, they're talking about 0.61/100,000 asthma mortality rate compared with Britain's 0.35.

"Gluten allergy 'doubles death rate'" - "Death rates among coeliac disease patients are twice as high as the general population despite a belief among some that it is not a dangerous illness, a study suggests." (BBC Online)

"Junk food adverts dominate kids' TV" - "A study carried out by Adelaide's Flinders University indicates that 80% of food advertisements broadcast during television programmes targeted at children are for junk food. Just one in five adverts promote core food groups advocated for healthy eating, such as fruit and vegetables." (just-food.com)

The Brussels Sprout Society doesn't spend big bucks advertising to children? Or is the suggestion that broadcasters discriminate against "healthy food" advertisers by refusing to take their money and declining to run advertisements for their produce?

"Holidaymakers 'ignore disease threat'" - "One in five British holidaymakers are putting their lives at risk by failing to get vaccinated before travelling abroad, a survey says. But 80% feel unwell while on holiday in places where vaccinations are recommended such as Asia, Africa and Central America. Out of more than 400 people questioned by a leading vaccine company, a third said they had not sought medical advice before travelling to places where tropical diseases were endemic." (BBC Online)

I've long puzzled over the arrogance and callous disregard displayed by affluent greens for the plight of impoverished regions, perhaps this goes some way to explaining it. Perhaps they are so sheltered in their pampered, ultra-safe affluence that they really have no idea that underdeveloped equates to life-threatening. Maybe they really don't know that suppressing infrastructure development, technology, chemical application, biotechnology and wealth generation actually kills millions and condemns billions more to a miserable, impoverished existence. What's even more frightening is that these naïve twits have major policy sway as representatives of NGOs.

"Conservation versus development" - "What happens when we privilege flora and fauna over people? That was the question posed by Kirk Leech as he presented his film on the Shoolpaneshwar sanctuary in Gujarat, India, at the London School of Oriental and African Studies on 26 July 2001." (Jacqui Craig, Sp!ked)

"New era radical chic" - "VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Eric Hoffer once said, demonstrating the uncanny wisdom of this waterfront philosopher: "It is maintained that a society is free only when dissenting minorities have room to throw their weight around. As a matter of fact, a dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority; what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority." (Arnold Beichman, Washington Times)

"Group says EPA acted too soon on Hudson dredging" - "WASHINGTON - A farmers' group opposed to the federal government's decision this week to force the dredging of the Hudson River to remove toxic waste last week said a federal judge ordered regulators to appear in court next week to explain the timing of their decision." (Reuters)

"Pollution makes male fish develop female traits" - "A chemical used in cleaning products can make male fish develop eggs, according to Japanese scientists. Similar concentrations of nonyl phenol have been found in drainage channels. But officials at the Japanese Environment Ministry say people are less receptive to the chemical so it is not as harmful to them." (Ananova) | Tests affirm danger to fish (Asahi Shimbun)

"Airlines 'to warn of DVT'" - "The government is to order airlines to issue health warnings about the danger of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) with tickets for long-haul flights, according to reports. A senior government figure told The Observer newspaper that voluntary guidelines to be announced in the next fortnight would be backed by statutory regulation if the airlines fail to follow the order. He said the airlines were in a mood between "deep concern and panic" about the warnings scheme.

But a spokesman for the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions described the newspaper report as "complete rubbish." He said the article's claim that airlines may soon be asked or required to issue warnings to passengers was untrue." (BBC Online)

"MP steps up DVT campaign" - "South Wales MP John Smith has urged airlines to take the threat of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) more seriously and issue compression socks to passengers." (BBC Online)

"Slaughter decision 'cost £3bn'" - "Vaccinating animals against foot-and-mouth at an early stage could have reduced the cost of the crisis by about two-thirds, research for the BBC suggests. Even now, vaccination could result in substantial savings if the disease were to continue for many months, according to the study. The research - commissioned by BBC Radio 4's Today programme - challenges the idea that the government has tackled foot-and-mouth disease in the most cost-effective way." (BBC Online)

But the 'puter models say - and look how good they done wiv global warming!

"Biotech Panderers" - "THE WORLD'S population will grow by at least 2 billion over the next two decades, requiring a big increase in farm output. But each year around 1 percent of the world's irrigated farm land is rendered infertile by build-ups of salt, making the task of keeping up with population growth all the more daunting. So scientists are working on crops that can withstand salt, and a team has recently come up with a tolerant tomato. If this and similar breakthroughs can be commercialized, large swaths of irrigated land in dry areas of India, Pakistan, China and the western United States may become newly productive." (Washington Post editorial)

"Concern over British trials of GM 'super fish'" - "A new breed of genetically modified, fast-growing "super fish" developed in Britain will be on sale around the world in as little as three years' time, scientists have predicted. Geneticists at the University of Southampton believe they are close to proving that GM tilapia – the world's second most popular fish for eating – can be safely farmed without damaging the environment or other fish species." (Independent)

"The sick rise of health fascism" - "Take a deep breath; hold it. Now exhale directly into the mouthpiece. Good. Now let's see: You hit 4.5 on Environment Canada's new Individual Carbon Polluter Exhaler, just a little above average. That means your Personal Carbon Pollution Tax for the year 2006 is $155.70. Your two children don't contribute much yet, but under the federal government's innovative Reverse Child Carbon Tax Credit, designed to capture the future carbon burden their breathing will impose on the atmosphere and the health of the planet, there's a flat $50 tax for each child." (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

"Japanese data suggest El Nino activity" - "The western Pacific Ocean is getting warmer again in ways that Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) researchers say suggest a new El Nino cycle of abnormal weather on a global scale. The group's assessment, reported Thursday, was based on readings of ocean currents and surface temperatures from a buoy off the coast of New Guinea in the western equatorial Pacific Ocean." (Asahi Shimbun)

Maybe, then again, maybe not. The reservoir of cool water along South America's west coast seems to have been gaining over the last few months so, as always, we'll just have to wait and see.

"Out of Africa" - "The modellers and the IPCC claim that `climate sensitivity' (the amount of temperature rise we would get for a given rise in energy) is about 1°C per `watt per square metre' (wm-2). Since a doubling of CO2 is claimed by modellers to increase atmospheric energy by 3.8 wm-2, it follows that the global warming the models would predict would be 3.8°C, right in the mid-range of the IPCC's predictions.

That's where this record of monthly temperature from Garissa, Kenya, comes in. Garissa is a small town sitting almost on the equator, about 220 kilometres inland from the Indian Ocean. This means, the ocean cannot dampen temperature variations there." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

The Week That Was August 4, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"PM's absence a 'blow' to forum" - "THE absence of Prime Minister John Howard from this year's South Pacific Forum would be a blow to Pacific island nations worried about global warming, forum host Nauru said today." (AAP)

"Dining out on Kyoto's credits" - "Whether you think the recent Kyoto Protocol is merely another politically motivated gaseous emission adding to the greenhouse gas effect, the agreed targets are an ill wind that will blow some businesses much good." (William Hanley, Financial Post)

Here's another great example of selective reference points: "Global warming not just theory in Alaska" - "While politicians and corporations and some scientists debate whether global warming is real, Weller and other scientists say Alaska's terrain and seashore already are changing dramatically because of higher average temperatures." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Program Seeks to Fight Global Warming" - "TRENTON, N.J. - Using the best of incentives - money - New Jersey is recruiting businesses, utilities, colleges and other groups to fight global warming. The state Department of Environmental Protection is enlisting their help to meet a self-imposed goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, stressing that by volunteering to conserve energy and switch to more-efficient or renewable energy technology, they can cut their power bills." (AP)

"How to fight gas with gas" - "Despite Kyoto, it's unlikely Western nations will impoverish themselves to help reverse global warming. New research on aerosols means we might not have to." (Jonathan Kay, National Post)

"Climate Change in the USA" - "The Earth’s climate is changing, that is certain. A change in climate will have implications for both people and natural resources. As politicians worldwide evaluate various policy alternatives many scientists will be assembling to discuss this very same topic. On Monday, August 6, 2001 researchers will soon gather for a symposium entitled "Local Ecosystem Effects of Climate Change: The Interaction between Climate Change, Societal Decisions, and Ecosystems." The session, to be held during the Ecological Society of America's 86th Annual Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, will examine the impacts of climate change and societal perceptions on ecosystems and resources in the United States." (ESA)

"From the Tree-tops to the Root Tips" - "During the past few years, nearly 500 professional journal articles show the amazing biological benefits that are a consequence of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations. Overall, biomass almost always increases with more CO2. In many cases, plant roots experience greater enhancement than does the above-ground biomass. As a consequence, the entire plant benefits from increased ability to gather water and nutrients. Within this "root region" are a variety of fungi that break down soil nutrients. This symbiotic relationship is of great benefit to the plants." (Greening Earth Society)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT Vol. 2, No. 32" - "The insistence that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a pollutant is puzzling given literally thousands of experiments pointing to the reality of CO2’s function as a building block of nature. Many within the environmental community either won’t acknowledge – or refuse to accept – the ecological benefits of a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They will say that most experimental results have been obtained under controlled laboratory conditions and archly suggest that perhaps, in the real world, things don't work like they do in the lab. Yet there now is a growing number of research projects specifically designed to experiment with higher CO2 in natural settings." (Greening Earth Society)

August 4, 2001

"Group Focuses on BSE-Related Bone Ban" - "The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is expected to petition USDA to prohibit back and neck bones in advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems that mechanically remove meat from bones, reports the American Meat Institute (AMI).

CSPI says banning these bones will decrease the risk of BSE to humans. In its petition, CSPI also claims Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) rules permit spinal cord in ground beef destined for the school lunch program --a charge USDA says is untrue.

“Taking the actions requested by CSPI would set a dangerous precedent elevating rhetoric and hysteria over science and public health,” [AMI President J. Patrick] Boyle added. (AgWeb.com)

"Lamb BSE fears heightened" - "People who ate lamb in the early 1990s may have been exposed to BSE, say UK Government officials. At that time, sheep were given the feeds blamed for introducing the disease into cattle. BSE-infected meat is widely believed to the source of the lethal vCJD illness in humans, and scientists have yet to rule out its presence in sheep." (BBC Online) | Tests for BSE in sheep still inconclusive (The Times)

Startling observation of the day: "Heart disease said to silently stalk women" - "CLEVELAND, Aug 03 - Despite attention paid to other diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease is a real threat to women's health, researchers at a Cleveland Clinic conference said today. Dr. Leslie Cho, a staff cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that women continue to underestimate their risk of heart disease. She said that only one in 25 women who have breast cancer will die from the disease, but "half of all women diagnosed with heart disease will die from heart disease." (Reuters Health)

The survival chances (even at the possible cost of a mastectomy) of those with breast cancer is higher than those who may require a heart transplant? Well gosh!

Having said that, there is a massive fund-raising/lobbying industry devoted to maintaining the distorted risk perception and ridiculously high profile of breast cancer as a poster morbidity.

The Association of State and Territory Health Officials (ASTHO) looking to fire up another EMF scare? Could be.

Flexible libbers: "Shoot sick dolphin, says pro-hunting MP" - "A pro-whale hunting MP in Norway has caused uproar by suggesting that an injured dolphin called Flipper be shot. Steinar Bastesen advised the kindest thing to do would be to put a gun against Flipper's head and pull the trigger. He has angered animal welfare activists who have been caring for the animal, severely injured by a boat propeller off Stavanger.

Mr Bastesen said: "There's no doubt that Flipper is in pain. The only way to end the suffering is to put a bullet to the animal's head. "It's as if people would prefer a suffering animal - for their own diversion - instead of putting it down," Bastesen told the Stavanger Aftenblad newspaper." (Ananova)

At the same time, Peta are running campaigns (the latest in the U.K.) claiming massive cruelty to fish perpetrated by anglers. They claim fish suffer extreme levels of pain. But wait, there's more...

"However, veterinary and marine experts do not agree that the dolphin is in pain, and Flipper's condition seems to be improving."

According to the article, this marine mammal was "severely injured by a boat propeller." This causes less distress than a hooked fish?

"From Peanuts to Industrial Strength Cleansers" - "Fuel made from farm crops has been around for years, but a University of Georgia agricultural engineer has found a new use for alternative-fuel crops: John Goodrum says biodiesel is a great industrial-strength cleanser." (AgWeb.com)

"Genome may change definition of "disease" - "NEW YORK, Aug 03 - The very definition of the word "disease" may change in coming years, as researchers learn more and more about the human genome, according to a report published in the August 3rd issue of Science. It is no longer appropriate to call every genetic abnormality a "disease," said Dr. James G. Wright, of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, and colleagues.

"We believe," Wright told Reuters Health, "that without a definition of disease, people are likely to assume that many genetic differences are diseases. This is already beginning to have an effect on the way people perceive themselves, and in increasing their fear of not being able to get or maintain health insurance."

Wright and his colleagues propose a new definition of disease: "a state that places individuals at increased risk of adverse consequences." They stress that "the key element in this definition is risk: deviations from normal that are not associated with risk should not be considered synonymous with disease." (Reuters Health)

"Search for truth could lay spectre of GM to rest" - "GENETIC modification is a controversial subject exciting strong emotions. That was no doubt one of the reasons for recent criticism of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC), and the suggestion it had failed to gauge the public mood on GM crops. It is not as simple as that." (The Scotsman)

"Biotech Food Fear ... a Luxury Poor Nations Can't Afford" - "NORWICH, England--The delay in the commercialization of genetically modified crops in affluent Western Europe may be acceptable in the context of the peace of mind it brings to consumers even though it lacks any kind of scientific basis. This implicit waste, however, is not an indulgence appropriate for those faced with poverty." (Knight Ridder/Tribune)

"GM scientists fear backlash" - "Scientists are fearful to speak out about issues surrounding genetic modification because they are worried about their jobs and their physical safety, say people working in the field." (Waikato Times)

"Ned's got a lesson for the foes of GM" - "The Green Party and its supporters did their job well by forcing the Government to have a Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. Their next task is to make sure the implementation of the controls emphasised in the report are monitored and carefully applied.

But the Greenies will be the new Luddites if now, on the principle that it is essentially unnatural, they obstruct genetic research which promises so much for the health and food supply of people in an increasingly crowded world.

They should remember that almost every step in the advancement of mankind since the first of us came down from the trees has been the result of yet another victory over the forces of nature." (New Zealand Herald)

"McCain, Lieberman Criticize Bush" - "WASHINGTON - Republican Sen. John McCain and Democrat Joseph Lieberman teamed up Friday to criticize President Bush's approach to dealing with global warming, calling for mandatory limits on greenhouse gases." (AP)

"National interests to dictate Kyoto ratification: Howard" - "Visiting Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Friday that his country will decide on the basis of national interests whether to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, even if Japan goes ahead without the United States. "Whatever decision we take will not be based on following one country or another . . . (but) based on what we regard as being in the best interests of Australia," Howard told a news conference." (Japan Times)

"Japan, Australia agree to cooperate over global warming, WTO" - "TOKYO - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and his Australian counterpart John Howard agreed Friday to continue cooperation in efforts to bring the United States back into the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on combating global warming." (Kyodo)

August 3, 2001

"Backyards more dangerous than public playgrounds" - "WASHINGTON - A report from an American government agency says more children have died from swings and monkey bars in their own backyards than in public playgrounds." (CBC)

And how much more dangerous is ballooning obesity in children denied the opportunity to play?

Is denying our kids the opportunity to develop their risk assessment skills in a reasonably "safe" environment any lesser ill than scrapes, contusions, the odd broken bone and exceedingly rare play equipment fatality?

Think about it awhile before reacting to dramatic releases and compare the number of say, lightening-strike fatalities over a similar period. How about the number who drown because they lack the necessary experience to gauge risks and/or the physical skills and fitness to handle the prevailing conditions?

Sometimes, kids are strangled when their clothing becomes entangled in the branches of a tree that they may be climbing - making kids play naked would not make them "safe" because they could still fall and break bones. Should we then cut down all trees to provide our kids a "safe" environment?

Kids need to test themselves against their environment to gain the experience that will make them "safer" for the rest of their lives. Keeping kids in sterile cocoons does not equate to "safety" - only inexperience and looming obesity-induced ill health.

Wow! "How you handle stress may affect your stroke risk" - "NEW YORK, Aug 02 - High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, and adding a tense personality to the mix might raise the risk even further, according to Swedish researchers.

In a study that measured the ability of men with high blood pressure to keep their cool during a stressful test, those who lost it were found to have a threefold greater risk of having a stroke. Unlike their calmer counterparts, these men became increasingly frustrated as they wended their way through the mental task.

Researchers speculate that this inability to adapt to a stressful situation signals a personality trait that may be an independent risk factor for stroke. Lena Andre-Petersson of Lund University and her colleagues report the findings in the August issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association." (Reuters Health)

Way back in the dark ages of my biology classes, increased blood pressure as a stress response was believed to be an evolved "fight or flight" preparation. That cerebral vascular anomalies such as strokes are more likely under these circumstances represents some kind of breakthrough? Oh puh-lease!

"Plane bug spraying put under the microscope" - "Remember when flight attendants walked down the aisle spraying the cabin with insecticide? The "welcome home" ritual stopped 10 years ago, with Qantas, Ansett and Air New Zealand international planes now sprayed on the ground every eight weeks with a residual disinfectant to avoid contact with passengers and ensure mosquitos and other bugs are killed. But the filing yesterday of a law suit by a flight attendant in the United States prompted local quarantine officials to guarantee that pest control measures were safe." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"P.E.I. considers pesticide 'buffer zones'" - "CHARLOTTETOWN - The government of Prince Edward Island is considering a pesticide ban that would forbid spraying near schools, churches, parks and sporting venues." (CBC)

"Farmers, Workers Clash at Florida Hearing on EPA Safety Rules" - "Aug. 1--As farm workers told of friends and children who were sick from pesticide exposure and of safety rules that weren't enforced, farmers shot back on Tuesday with complaints of too many rules and workers who failed to ensure their own safety.

In a rare and sometimes contentious gathering of workers and owners, both sides were trying to influence federal regulators who are considering changes to rules that protect migrant farm hands from on-the-job hazards. The Environmental Protection Agency decided to evaluate the rules." (Knight Ridder/Tribune)

"Scientists find drastic underestimations of malaria morbidity, mortality, and economic burden" - "National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD - Challenging long-standing beliefs about the international burden of malaria, scientists have presented new information about the severity of malaria morbidity, mortality, and its economic toll in a supplement to The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Titled "The Intolerable Burden of Malaria: A New Look at the Numbers," the supplement was published by the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) with support from MIM partners, including NIH, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, GlaxoSmithKline, the Rockefeller Foundation, The United Kingdom Medical Research Council, The United Nations Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Wellcome Trust, and the World Health Organization.

"With new data and a fresh look, this landmark supplement highlights the many burdens caused by malaria. To address the pervasive and intractable problems that malaria represents, it is essential that malaria's full burden on societies and families be measured both epidemiologically and economically," said Gerald T. Keusch, M.D., Director of the Fogarty International Center (FIC) and MIM, and NIH Associate Director for International Research.

For more than 50 years, the mantra of "one million annual deaths due to malaria" has been cited by scientists and journalists. Until recently, this estimate had generally gone unexamined in regard to its accuracy, clinical components, and economic implications. The supplement reports that, at a minimum, between 700,000 and 2.7 million people die annually from malaria, over 75% of them African children." (NIH/Fogarty International Center)

"Spraying Campaign Under Way to Combat Malaria" - "A seasonal spraying campaign to pre-empt a possible outbreak of malaria after the main season rains end in September, was nearing completion, a local health expert told IRIN on Thursday. The indoor spraying campaign - part of the national vector-borne disease control programme - was mounted annually in June and July in an effort to control the number of breeding mosquitoes in the country's malaria-prone lowlands, the expert said.

Malaria poses a major health threat to the estimated 50 percent of Ethiopia's population who live at an altitude of below 2,000 metres and, according to official statistics, accounts for 6 percent of all in-patient consultations. Epidemics frequently occurred following the end of the main rains, when the prevalence of standing water combined with warmer weather provided ideal breeding conditions for the anopheles mosquito, the expert told IRIN. A WHO report in 1999 said the incidence of malaria in Ethiopia had shown a dramatic increase over the past decade, with major epidemics often associated with the occurrence of El Niño events. The increasing incidence of the more virulent falciparum malaria, which was encroaching on higher altitude areas, coupled with its growing resistance to traditional drug therapy, had caused levels of mortality and morbidity to rise in recent years, especially among young children and the elderly, who were considered to be especially at risk, the expert said." (UN Integrated Regional Information Network)

"Hudson Debate Goes on Despite E.P.A. Decision" - "NORTHUMBERLAND, N.Y., Aug. 1 — A retired fisherman, Henry Nichols, is so looking forward to having the river back that when the expected dredging begins in the near future to clean the bottom, he said, the workmen "can dump the stuff right here in my field if they like." But two of his upriver neighbors, Jim and Claude Duket, who never stopped fishing, are anticipating it more mournfully, certain that the dredging will kick up contaminants and ruin the best fishing in these parts in decades." (New York Times)

"A Weed Killer Is a Block to Build On" - "St. LOUIS — Monsanto jumped headfirst into the future five years ago, when it spun off its old-line chemicals business and rechristened itself a "life sciences" company that used biotechnology to develop genetically altered crops. After investing billions in that vision — some of it to create bioengineered corn, soybeans and other crops, and some to buy large seed companies — Monsanto is prospering. But not because of any proliferation of genetically modified supercrops, which have been widely accepted in the United States but have come under fire in Europe and Japan." (New York Times)

"Study: Cutting Cholesterol for the Old Could Be Bad" - "LONDON - Scientists in Hawaii on Friday cast doubt on the benefits of reducing blood cholesterol in the elderly, with new research showing low levels could be linked to higher death rates in people over 70 years old.

Doctors and health officials have been urging people to cut their cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, the number one killer in many countries. High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor.

But earlier studies had suggested the advice may not be applicable to the elderly and that low levels of cholesterol could have a detrimental effect. So researchers at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu decided to study the impact of cholesterol on Japanese-American men aged 71-93 years. Their findings, published in The Lancet medical journal, show low levels could do more harm than good in the elderly." (Reuters)

"Health fear over 'BSE in sheep for 10 years'" - "MAD cow disease may have been present in sheep a decade ago, the Food Standards Agency admitted yesterday. If the preliminary finding was confirmed, it would have "very serious" implications, it added. Confirmation of the discovery would open a new front in the battle to purge BSE from livestock and suggest that more people may have been put at risk of contracting the deadly variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which takes years to develop." (Telegraph)

"Nine billion things to think about" - "Opponents of genetically modified foods have often challenged the need for them. I think we are now starting to see genetically engineered plants and animals whose appeal is broader and more obvious than earlier products. But the anti-GMO lobby is unlikely to quit -- and that can be a positive thing. These inventions require close scrutiny; if it's a rational, open-minded, and based on facts, we'll all benefit." (Michael Smith, CNews Science)

"GM food v. manure" - "A long list of organizations -- among them the National Farmers Union, the Council of Canadians, the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, the Canadian Health Coalition and the Canadian Wheat Board -- demand that Ottawa end its experimental planting of genetically modified wheat. A representative from Greenpeace, which opposes all genetically modified foods, declared that these crops are "pollutants" and that "the genetic modification of a staple crop such as wheat is especially disconcerting."

If such Luddite anxieties are to become federal policy, then we had better also undo the past century of Canadian agriculture, and perhaps the three before that just to be safe." (National Post)

"You say Frankenfruit, we say miracle tomato" - "Prince Charles played into the hands of the sensation-seeking media -- and drew the groans of scientists -- with his comments last year on genetically modified crops. They are, he said, ``Frankenstein foods.`` Rather than genetic manipulation, he urged investment in ``traditional systems of agriculture.``

So instead of any reasoned treatment of the issues, we got a media feeding frenzy tacitly endorsed by a public figure who might have better directed his words about plants to his plants. If His Royal Highness` objections to GM foods are due to misgivings about genetic manipulation of their genome, which from the Frankenstein comment they seem to be, then he confuses the issue right from the start." (Japan Times)

"US food industry seeks clarity on new China GMO rule" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. agriculture industry officials yesterday complained that China's new regulations governing the import of biotech products are hindering bilateral trade, especially for soybeans." (Reuters)

"Scientists find genetic basis of insect's resistance to engineered crops" - "Genetically engineered crops with built-in insecticides are an increasingly popular tool for controlling agricultural pests. Some experts, however, believe that using those modified crops could backfire by forcing the development of genetically resistant pests.

Now, a team of geneticists has identified a gene that confers high levels of resistance in a common agricultural pest – a discovery which will allow farmers and government officials to take early steps to prevent uncontrollable outbreaks." (North Carolina State University)

"Mississippi Cotton Growers Applying Less Insecticides" - "The successful combination of boll weevil eradication efforts and Bt cotton have greatly reduced the number of foliar insecticide treatments applied this year by Mississippi cotton growers." (AgWeb.com)

"An Allergy To Flawed Regulation" - [A shortened version of this piece ran in the Wall Street Journal] "One of the theoretical concerns raised about foods derived from gene-spliced, or genetically modified (GM), plants is that consumers might experience allergic reactions to them. A panel of consultants to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization has proposed a protocol for the testing of such foods. Intended to guide testing in order to determine the allergenic potential of GM foods, the protocol poses questions such as, is the source of the introduced gene allergenic, and does the gene product resemble known allergens in a neat little flow chart." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, Hoover Institution)

"Powerful partnership builds upon success" - "The Australian Greenhouse Office and the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) have signed a formal agreement kicking off a project that will see the addition to the Building Code of Australia of minimum energy performance standards for all Australian buildings." (Australian Greenhouse Office)

Oh goody, goody! Buildings with even less adequate ventilation (a.k.a. "sick buildings") and greater societal health problems under the mantra of "energy efficiency."

World Climate Report Volume 6, Number 23 (August 6, 2001) is now available

"Why the weather always wins" - "Forecasts are better than ever, but they are still not perfect. Michael Bradley reports that even though technology keeps advancing, it is the very chaos that rules the winds and rains which confounds us in the end." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Kyoto pact on climate change can be ratified without the United States, developing nations say" - "UNITED NATIONS -- A 133-nation bloc of developing nations said Thursday there are enough key countries to ratify the Kyoto treaty on global warming without the United States, but the pact would be stronger with Washington. "The caravan is marching forward," said Iranian Ambassador Bagher Asadi, speaking for the so-called Group of 77, which has expanded since its formation in 1964. "It would have marched in a more robust manner if the Americans had joined." (AP)

"Republican Senators Offer Kyoto Treaty Alternative" - "WASHINGTON - A trio of conservative Republican senators on Wednesday rolled out a bill they said was the U.S. answer to the Kyoto global warming treaty rejected by the Bush administration. The legislation proposed by Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, Frank Murkowski of Alaska and Larry Craig of Idaho would spend $2 billion over 10 years on new technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." (Reuters)

"Senate Panel Wants Warming Plan" - "WASHINGTON - Legislation to devote $4.8 billion over 10 years to research technologies to fight global warming and create new climate change offices was approved Thursday by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee." (AP)

"Up In Smoke; Energy executives join environmentalists in opposition to Bush" - "President George W. Bush has spent much of his short tenure in office being pilloried by organized environmentalists as a marionette of energy producing industries.  Now, even some of Bush’s supposed puppeteers are complaining that they too are on the wrong side of closed doors when it comes time to formulate environmental and energy policy. “What businesses want is certainty,” an anonymous environmental manager for an unidentified international energy firm complained to The New York Times.  “Bush has injected only turbulence.” Bush's sin in this case: refusing, at least for the time being, to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

The Times story exposes a curious rift among energy companies and an emerging coalition between some of them and environmentalists. On one side are environmentalists and some energy execs that support a regulatory regime on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants; the regime would create caps on levels and then issue tradeable permits to companies. On the other side are energy execs who are absolutely opposed to such a scheme. A May 10, 2001 Wall Street Journal story on the same topic characterized the pro-regulatory energy executives who were working with environmentalists for a carbon dioxide trading system as “sensible” and “farsighted.” Yet that story failed to ask a basic question: Why would folks who earn a living in the energy industry be peeved at a president who refuses to impose tighter regulations?" (Michael W. Lynch, Reason)

August 2, 2001

"Bush loosens restrictions on guns" - "While no one thought President Bush would be racing to add new restrictions on guns, the speed with which his administration has moved to roll back existing measures has alarmed some gun control advocates. They warn that other federal laws and programs could be repealed in coming months, leading to a dramatic overall shift in US gun policy." (Christian Science Monitor)

"EPA backs PCB-dredging plan for Hudson River" - "WASHINGTON -- The Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed a Clinton administration proposal to dredge PCBs from the Hudson River but plans to implement the plan in stages, according to a New York congressman." (AP)

See Stirring up Sleeping Dogs in the Hudson (Michael Fumento)

"Contentious Details Await E.P.A. Cleanup Plan for Hudson" - "The decision by the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator, Christie Whitman, to proceed with an ambitious, expensive and complicated pollution cleanup plan for the Hudson River appears to have settled the most important overarching question about the river — whether to dredge it to remove the PCB's on its bottom.

But legal experts, environmentalists and politicians said there were inevitable skirmishes ahead in evaluating how the cleanup might proceed — from the mechanics of its engineering to the way the dredging sites look or smell or block the boats on the water. They said those fights could be just as fierce as the battle, decades long, over whether to dredge." (New York Times)

"Senate OKs new arsenic standards; EPA required to put rules into effect immediately" - "WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to require new arsenic standards for drinking water, approving compromise language that would add pressure on President Bush to lower acceptable levels of the carcinogen." (AP)

"Campaign aims to reduce antibiotic use" - "DENVER - A national media campaign aimed at coaxing patients away from excessive use of antibiotics in order to reduce the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria will begin soon in Colorado. The National Institutes of Health will head the four-year, $2 million information campaign, medical researchers said Tuesday." (AP)

"Flight attendant sues over Aust airline sprays" - "Flight attendants are being sickened by exposure to pesticides that are sprayed on airplanes serving Australia and New Zealand, a lawsuit filed against United Airlines claims." (The Age)

"Burning incense may cause cancer" - "PARIS: Burning incense could cause cancer according to a scientific study conducted by researchers from Taiwan, who found high levels of carcinogens in the smoke of incense burned in Buddhist temples. "We truly hope that incense burning brings only spiritual comfort, without any physical discomfort, but there is a potential cancer risk," Ta Chang Lin, who led the study, says in the report." (Times of India)

"Five indicted in coolant smuggling scheme" - "LYME, Conn. - A federal grand jury has indicted five men on charges of smuggling into the United States as much as 1,000 tons of Freon, an air conditioning coolant that eats away the ozone layer." (Boston Globe)

Here's a commodity that's worth smuggling solely because countries allowed themselves to be stampeded into signing on to the Montreal Protocol. Has The Protocol done anything environmentally useful? Very doubtful. Is it necessary? Equally doubtful - but it has certainly created some criminals.

Click here to view a collation of NASA EP/TOMS graphics, see how volatile stratospheric ozone levels are and just how much of a 'problem' the so-called 'hole' isn't.

"Solar storms destroy ozone, study reconfirms" - "A new study confirms a long-held theory that large solar storms rain electrically charged particles down on Earth's atmosphere and deplete the upper-level ozone for weeks to months thereafter. New evidence from NASA and NOAA satellites is helping scientists better understand how man and nature both play a role in ozone loss." (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center--EOS Project Science Office)

"US pioneers 'weather control powder'" - "A company in the United States says it has invented a powder which can be used to remove clouds from the sky and even stop the development of hurricanes. They say the new product could help many areas of the world which are subject to extreme weather conditions." (BBC Online)

"As House votes on energy plan, oil booms" - "While Congress begins voting on President Bush's supply-boosting energy plan, the world's oil companies are already spending at a record pace to explore and drill from the flatlands of Brazos County, Texas, to the polluted waters of the Caspian Sea.

In fact, the oil companies are now awash with so much money, they don't have enough places to spend it. They are practically accumulating cash faster than the US Treasury. With such fat pocketbooks, the industry may now be in a position to smooth out the boom-and-bust cycles that have dogged its past. That, in turn, could mean less volatility for consumers at the gas pump. More broadly, it's a reminder that the free market, not Washington, will ultimately decide what happens to the nation's energy supplies." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Report Bolsters Case for Ending Costly, Ineffective CAFE Rules" - "Federal fuel economy standards are relatively ineffective in reducing U.S. oil consumption, a national panel of experts has concluded. The report strengthens an already strong case for dumping the fuel economy regulations." (Detroit News)

"UPDATE - US House rejects stricter SUV mileage standards" - "WASHINGTON - In a big win for automakers, the U.S. House of Representatives refused to require sport utility vehicles to meet the same higher gasoline mileage requirements as passenger cars in six years." (Reuters)

"World Bank boss sees poverty as an asset" (AAP)

Not quite right. Wolfensohn actually said that people should be considered a valuable asset rather than objects of charity. Not the impression you get from AAP's headline though.

"Mayo Clinic study links excess weight with early heart attack" - "ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A ten-year Mayo Clinic study of patients arriving at the emergency room has found that overweight or obese patients had their first heart attacks at a younger age than their normal-weight counterparts." (Mayo Clinic)

"Organic farmers hope to gain global clout" - "Australia's organic food producers are being urged to band together to become more powerful global players. Commercial alliances, even among diverse food groups such as meat and vegetables, would increase Australia's clout in a rapidly growing world market, producer Simone Tully said." (AAP)

"Bioengineered food sows ethical concerns" - "Whether it's the result of global protesters, well-publicized mistakes slipping into the food chain, or a sudden awareness of the speed with which bioengineered foods are filling the supermarkets, Americans' support for genetically modified foods is eroding." (Christian Science Monitor)

"GM findings in NZ to be considered" - "The Federal Government will examine the findings of a New Zealand Royal commission which has backed the use of gene modification in agriculture and medicine. Health Minister Michael Wooldridge said although Australia already had tough rules on GM products, there might be something to learn from New Zealand's experience. He was backed by Biotechnology Australia, which described the Royal commission as the world's first appraisal of GM technology." (Canberra Times)

"Tassie eyes GE edge on NZ" - "THE State Government and organic producers believe the findings of a New Zealand royal commission into gene technology may open doors for Tasmania. After a 14-month inquiry into the controversial issue, the royal commission this week effectively embraced GE technology. The New Zealand Government is expected to decide in November whether to adopt the recommendations, which include allowing open-air GE crop trials to continue." (The Mercury)

"Public still wary of biotechnology - survey" - "There is growing concern among Australians about the ethics of biotechnology and gene technology, particularly cloning and health-related applications, according to a new survey. Most people feel biotechnology is developing so fast that legislation can't keep up, and the financial and political power of multinational companies is more significant than the wishes of the public.

The findings are part of the largest and most comprehensive tracking survey of public attitudes to rapid change in the scientific field. Conducted for the federal government body Biotechnology Australia, the nationwide survey of 1,200 people was taken during April and May this year." (AAP)

"Humanity’s Impacts on Clouds: Could They Lead to Global Cooling?" - "In last week’s Editorial, we bristled at the hubris of Wigley and Raper (2001) in saying there is a 90% probability there will be a mean global warming somewhere in the range of 1.7 to 4.9°C over the period 1990 to 2100 if the nations of the earth do not reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.  In response to this unwarranted assertion, we described how our present knowledge of a single class of phenomena, i.e., human influences on cloud characteristics, totally invalidates this claim, citing as evidence the analysis of Charlson et al. (2001), wherein we are reminded that "man-made aerosols have a strong influence on cloud albedo, with a global mean forcing estimated to be of the same order (but opposite in sign) as that of greenhouse gases."

Taken at face value, Charlson et al.’s assessment of our current knowledge of the subject indicates there is a 50-50 chance the activities of man may actually lead to a slight cooling of the globe." | A Three-Thousand Year Record of South African Temperatures | The Little Ice Age Climate in the Caribbean Sea | The Odden Ice Tongue of the Greenland Sea (co2science.org)

"UN Official: Kyoto Deal Won't Meet Emissions Target" - "MEXICO CITY - An international pact struck in Bonn last week aimed at reducing global warming will not meet original targets for cutting emissions, the United Nations' top environment official said on Wednesday.

Klaus Toepfer, head of the U.N. Environment Program, said the Kyoto Protocol reached in Bonn would serve as an important base for future agreements but would not reduce toxic gas emissions by the targeted 5.2 percent by 2008-2012 because of some compromise measures agreed at the summit." (Reuters)

You have to admit they craft their illusion well. In UN and media parlance, CO2 has gone from essential trace gas (which is what it really is) to "pollutant" and now, "toxic gas emission." A most impressive rebranding exercise considering this minute fraction of the atmosphere ultimately supports almost the entire biosphere. Our lives depend on its presence in the atmosphere and now it's spoken of as a "toxic gas emission."

"Senate Panel Wants Warming Plan" - "WASHINGTON - Senators impatient with President Bush's handling of global warming are urging his administration to have a plan to address the climate change phenomenon by October for the next round of international negotiations." (AP)

"Alice in Kyotoland" - "Psst. Did we get a deal for you! That appears to be Ottawa's spin on last week's murky agreement in Bonn to keep the Kyoto zombie lurching forward. Don't worry, whirrs Ottawa to industry and Alberta, we didn't sell you down the river. Indeed, we did such a good job at weaseling out of the ludicrously rash commitments we made in 1997 that there will hardly be any pain at all. It might only cost pocket change, say 5- or 10-bill. Indeed, we did such a good job that we just can't release the details; it's not diplomatic to gloat. Also, the oil industry would be beaming from ear to ear, while Greenpeace would have a hissy fit. So just shut up and trust us (and with a bit of luck, the whole thing will go away).

With luck, it will, but Kyoto's aftermath becomes ever-stranger. If one were to seek literary references, Lewis Carroll, Shakespeare, Jonathan Swift and Kafka would all have to be in the starting lineup. How could one not invoke Alice in Wonderland when listening to Ottawa's claims that, although Canada committed to reduce greenhouse gases to a level 6% below those of 1990 by 2012, and although we are some 13% above 1990 levels, we are already halfway there!" (Peter Foster, National Post)

"Energy Executives Urge Some Gas-Emission Limits on Bush" - "With President Bush continuing to oppose international or domestic restrictions on gases linked to global warming, among the losers are energy companies that favor government action and have already spent millions on voluntary efforts to cut emissions.

Given little credence by the White House despite large expenditures on lobbying and longstanding ties to administration officials, these companies are shifting their focus to Congress, where several bills that would impose emissions restrictions are being debated or prepared." (New York Times)

"Ministry studying measures to cope with sea-level rise" - "TOKYO, Aug. 1 - The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry began studying measures Wednesday to cope with rising sea levels caused by ongoing global warming, ministry officials said." (Kyodo)

"Doctors warn of climate change" - "Besides making a steamy state even more so right now, global warming is sure to cause an increasingly forbidding menu of heat and pollution-related ailments in Florida, from insect-borne diseases to asthma to heart attacks and storm-surge drownings.

That's according to a new study from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) called Death by Degrees: The Health Threats of Climate Change in Florida, released during a Miami press conference Tuesday by officials of the Washington, D.C.-based national organization." | New global-warming report puts Florida at high risk (Miami Herald)

Obviously, the nearest PSR get to atmospheric science is by carrying on like air-heads.

The vast majority of computer-game-guessed warming would (and only could) occur in the polar super cold air masses and the global mean rise projected is not made of any significant increase in maximum temperature but rather less-cold minima in really cold places. A region with a temperature range of 0°C to -60°C demonstrates a mean warming of +10°C (from -30°C to -20°C) if the temperature range narrows to 0°C to -40°C and this is how most theoretical warming would be manifest. Even if there were real merit in the enhanced greenhouse hypothesis the change would really be a lessening in severity of extreme cold events (and the preservation of some of the Polar stratospheric ozone some claim to worry about) and virtually no effect in Florida (or any of the inhabited regions of the world really) because very cold, very dry atmosphere has large potential for enhanced greenhouse forcing while warm, moist atmosphere has almost none.

"Bonn voyage: 'Kyoto' goes ahead without US" - "BONN - The two-week long global climate change talks have given rise to an international agreement which the US administration will find hard to ignore, say high-ranking officials who steered the course of negotiations at the Bonn conference." (Asia Times)

Chicago, however, seems keen to get into hot air trading. At least, CCX is.

August 1, 2001

Doh... "Rainfall Runoff Blamed for Diseases" - "WASHINGTON - A heavy rainfall in upstate New York washed bacteria from a cattle barn into the water supply at a county fair, causing a death and more than 100 illnesses two years ago. Now, researchers have discovered that such events are more common than people had thought. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported Tuesday that more than half of all waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States during the last half-century followed a period of heavy rainfall." (AP) | Media release (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Significant runoff events provide a transport medium for pathogen-laden contaminants? Imagine that...

"Smoking, vitamin C don't mix: new study" - "SYDNEY: Smokers who take vitamin C supplements in the belief they are boosting their health could actually be increasing their risk of contracting cancer, new research suggests. While vitamin C normally acts as a defence against cell damage, when combined with cadmium - a naturally occurring metallic element and known carcinogen found in tobacco - it may lead to cancerous cells being created, according to a senior University of Sydney researcher. Just 250-500mg of vitamin C a day could have an impact, the university's School of Biomedical Sciences lecturer, Dr Fazlul Huq, said. And it might not only be smokers who are at risk as cadmium could be present in rice, wheat and shellfish. (Canberra Times)

For this week's fundraiser, another dioxin fright-feature: "Protesters object to burning household waste" - "Protesters have moved in to a makshift campsite on the outskirts of Swansea to draw attention to a row over what to do with people's rubbish. The local council has built a new waste disposal centre in which household rubbish will be burnt." (BBC Online)

"Inquiry to study cancer clusters at power stations" - "A wide-ranging Government inquiry is to examine claims that radiation from nuclear power stations caused clusters of leukaemia and other cancers, Michael Meacher, the Environment Minister, announced yesterday. The six-month scientific review will examine possible effects of radioactive discharges from power stations and natural sources, Mr Meacher said. The review, which will also examine claims that cancer is linked to high-voltage power cables, will look at the effects of radioactive particles that are swallowed or breathed in." (Independent)

"Clean-hand squad beats bugs" - "A simple handwashing programme among US Navy recruits almost halved the number of respiratory infections they suffered. It is well-known that frequent handwashing by hospital staff has a significant impact on infections picked up by their patients. However, there have been few research studies which clearly demonstrate how similar practices can protect ordinary people in the community." (BBC Online)

"Health Ministers approve residual antibiotic limits" - "Australia's Health Ministers have approved maximum residual limits for 12 antibiotics used in livestock production. But, they have deferred a decision on a more powerful group of antibiotics, known as Cephalosporins. (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Fears 'keep children indoors'" - "Children are not playing outside because of the fear of being bullied or knocked over by a car and by parents' concerns about strangers, charities warn. The Children's Society and the Children's Play Council say children are being crowded out of their own neighbourhoods and are turning into "couch prisoners" as a result." (BBC Online)

Not just "couch prisoners" - see also obese; unfit; unhealthy; antisocial...

"'Fat tax' may be too appealing to resist" - "Maybe going after smokers is just the tip of the iceberg. For years governments have hit smokers with special taxes because of the increased healthcare costs associated with the habit. That begged the question: Why only smokers? There are numerous other lifestyle choices that lead to more regular use of the health-care system. New "lifestyle" taxes maybe just around the corner given all the talk recently about instituting a "fat tax" on select high fat junk food." (Vancouver Sun)

"Lung cancer risk greater for women" - "The female sex hormone oestrogen may be to blame for putting women at greater risk of lung cancer. US researcher Dr Jill Siegfried, from the University of Pittsburgh, has carried out an analysis of research into why women should be a greater risk of the killer disease. In both the UK and US, lung cancer now kills more women than breast cancer. This is partly due to the fact there has been an increase in the number of women smoking since the 1960s. However, Dr Siegfried found that among people who smoke the same amount, women may be up to twice as likely to develop lung cancer as men. In addition, non-smokers who develop lung cancer are two and a half times more likely to be female than male. (BBC Online)

"Study adds fuel to debate over car efficiency" - "High-mileage cars - are they dangerous?

Not necessarily. But after the federal government slapped fuel-economy standards on automakers in the early 1970s, they responded in the short term by making cars smaller and lighter. The result: more US traffic fatalities than there might otherwise have been, according to a new National Academy of Sciences report." (Christian Science Monitor)

"ScottishPower sails into windfarm row" - "SCOTTISHPOWER has unveiled controversial plans to build the UK’s biggest windfarm - generating enough electricity to power 150,000 households - on moorland just 10 miles south of Glasgow. However, the announcement will be met with hostility by nearby communities. Consultations with people living close to the proposed site will begin next week." (The Scotsman)

"The lunatics are running the (shopping) asylum" - "A posh suburb of Austin, Texas used to have a suitably posh shopping center, complete with a gourmet food market, furrier, leather merchant, and top-notch restaurant. But one by one, they're closing or moving away. Why? It seems that the retail complex was inherited by Jeanne Daniels, an animal-rights fanatic who's imposing strict "cruelty-free" standards on her leaseholders. The final straw will come soon, as the high-society Holiday House restaurant will have to stop serving meat or close its doors. Noting that the new landlord wants to force vegetarianism down the neighborhood's throat, one fifth-grader told the San Antonio Express-News: "I would not close all the salad restaurants to try to force (Ms. Daniels) to eat in meat-only restaurants." (GuestChoice.com)

Biotech news & views:

"Dangerous GM Gets Off Scot-Free" - "One of the theoretical concerns raised about foods derived from gene-spliced, or genetically modified, plants is that consumers might experience allergic reactions to them. A panel of consultants to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization has proposed a protocol for the testing of such foods. Intended to guide testing in order to determine the allergenic potential of GM foods, the protocol poses questions -- such as, is the source of the introduced gene allergenic, and does the gene product resemble known allergens -- in a neat little flow chart.

Considered in a vacuum, this seems a reasonable approach. However, it ignores the realities of the development and commercialization of new plant varieties, and the way that foods derived from them traditionally are regulated. Or to be more precise, the way that they are unregulated." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, Wall Street Journal)

"Canadian Wheat Board Joins Forces to Oppose GM Wheat" - "Tuesday, the Canadian Wheat Board joined forces with a diverse group to oppose genetically modified (GM) wheat coming to Canada. The National Farmers Union (NFU), Manitoba's Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), the Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD), the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), Greenpeace Canada, The Council of Canadians, and the Canadian Health Coalition want the federal government to halt the approval of genetically modified (GM) wheat unless the concerns of farmers, consumers, and buyers of Canadian wheat are addressed." (AgWeb.com)

"Sites of gene-altered wheat secret: Ottawa" - "The federal government is refusing to disclose the locations of experimental fields of genetically modified wheat in five provinces, raising concerns about contamination of neighbouring conventional crops. Spokesman Stephen Yarrow said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency cannot reveal the locations of more than 50 test sites because the companies conducting the tests have expressed concerns about vandalism and industrial espionage." (National Post)

"We'll rip crops from fields, say organic farmers" - "Organic farmers are threatening to dig up genetically modified crops if the Government allows GM field trials. Tony Higginson, representative of the Far North Organic Growers and Producers, said yesterday that organic farmers were devastated by the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification's report." (New Zealand Herald)

"Who will un-do the damage?" - "The Omaha World-Herald noted in a weekend editorial that monarch butterflies "aren't threatened, after all, by genetically engineered corn that contains its own pesticide." But the damage has already been done by activist groups more concerned with scare tactics than the truth.

The World-Herald asks: "Who will comb through the World Wide Web and contact the proprietors of all those Web sites that perpetuate the idea that monarch larvae are susceptible to the pollen of the special corn plant? Who will chase down and correct the misimpression, widely held in Europe, that the monarch is a victim of a thoughtless American vendor of 'frankenfood'? This misimpression helped fuel a wave of paranoia across Europe that has ignited anti-science protests and contributed to the anti-globalization movement. And who will make sure that all the teachers who incorporated the monarch story in their lesson plans find out that the story was a false alarm?"

The whole monarch butterfly mythology is a great example of how the Nanny Culture seizes on any tidbit of research that matches their political agenda, declaring that the truth has at last been uncovered. In Omaha and elsewhere, opinion-makers are just waking up to the fact that squashing a carefully-crafted lie is like trying to un-spill water. This particular story "is likely to live on, creating confusion, worrying schoolkids and serving as an excuse for people to don masks and storm the barricades in places like Genoa and Quebec." (GuestChoce.com)

"S Korea Won't Buy US Corn Despite EPA Rules On Starlink" - "SINGAPORE -- South Korea is not keen on buying edible corn from the U.S. despite new rules set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on genetically modified corn, an industry official said Tuesday.

The EPA said Friday it won't allow any amount of genetically modified Starlink corn in food products, since it hasn't been proven safe for human consumption. The new rules are the EPA`s response to a request by Aventis Crop Science, a division of Aventis S.A. (AVE), Starlink`s developer, to allow small amounts of Starlink corn in food products." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Gmo Controls Will Hit Exporters" - "BRUSSELS, Jul 30, 2001 -- New labeling rules for genetically modified foods or foods containing GM ingredients announced by the European Commission, the European Union's executive, could prevent the import of most food into Europe if adopted by ministers of the 15 member states.

The proposed legislation set unacceptably tight limits, according to trade and industry sources. The legislation would include a maximum tolerance level of only 1 percent authorized genetically modified organisms in food and feed. Industry believes that this needs to be raised to 5 percent for the regulation to be workable.

As currently drafted, the proposal would impact heavily on U.S. producers and manufacturers." (United Press International via COMTEX)

And the inevitable "enhanced greenhouse" / "global warming" stuff:

"To some here, global warming feels real today" - "Whether or not the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ever sees oil drilling, the Gwich'in people there, whose life is based on hunting and fishing, already see the environmental impact of an oil-based economy. In recent years, they have noticed weather changes that they believe have adversely impacted the porcupine caribou herd, and they suspect that global warming and perhaps a thinning in the protective ozone layer may have something to do with it." (Christian Science Monitor)

I never heard that there was any doubt that the Arctic had recovered somewhat from the Little Ice Age that drove Viking settlers out of Greenland, nor that that warming is relative to a particularly cold period in the Holocene. It is quite possible that their impression of warming over a lifetime is accurate. What it doesn't tell anyone is whether there is anything "unnatural" about presumed warming (relative to cooler times) or even if it is merely multi-decadal cycles drawing PC attention.

"Whitman, Jeffords Clash Over Global Warming" - "WASHINGTON, DC, July 30, 2001 - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman says the Bush administration will address the problem of global climate change and greenhouse gas emissions by pursuing an approach that stresses research. Market based solutions, technology transfers to developing countries, and increasing cooperative research efforts with allies are also part of the plan." (ENS)

"Kawaguchi vows efforts to prepare for Kyoto pact ratification" - "TOKYO, July 31 - Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tuesday that Japan will make efforts to prepare for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming to bring it into force in the target year 2002, following a political accord on the pact's operational rules struck in U.N. climate talks last week." (Kyodo)

"Moving Beyond the Kyoto Impasse" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Much is being made of the Bush administration's exclusion of the United States from an agreement reached by 178 countries last week to move forward on combating global warming. But both those who deplore the Bush administration's snub and those who agree with the president that America couldn't afford to join in are losing sight of the long view. To really head off climate change, the world must eventually make even larger (much larger) cuts in its emissions of greenhouses gases than those envisioned in the Kyoto agreement and its refinements in Bonn. But we have some time." (New York Times)

"Deceptive politics of Kyoto agreement" - "Our position: When it comes to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, pay attention to what other nations do, not what they say.

The Kyoto treaty on global warming is so flawed with exemptions and loopholes that even its most ardent supporters have conceded it wouldn't do much to reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide. With nations such as China, India and Brazil exempted from emission caps, all it would really do is handicap economic growth in 38 industrialized nations, particularly the United States." (Indianapolis Star editorial)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT July 30, 2001 Vol. 2, No. 30" - "True to form, prior to COP6.5 in Bonn, Germany, the more popular major science journals trumpeted "breakthroughs" concerning the imminence of climate change apocalypse. The July 20 edition of Science and the news stories it triggered offer prime examples." (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT July 30, 2001 Vol. 2, No. 31" - "Lawyers have a term for what’s happening to the Kyoto Protocol: de minimus. That means something is profoundly inconsequential. As things now stand, the Kyoto Protocol’s impact on the potential for global warming fits this definition. Competent climate scientists acknowledge that the amount of warming Kyoto would "prevent" during the next fifty years is merely 0.07° C. Double that over a hundred years and the amount of climate change forestalled is too small to measure against the normal yearly and decadal variation of the earth’s surface temperature. It’s tough to be more minimus than that, but those hard-working environmental negotiators in Bonn managed to make minimus smaller still." (GES)