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archives - december 1999

December 31, 1999

MVP voting: Curie finishes 3rd, beats Carson by 90,000 votes - Marie Curie, the Junkscience.com favorite in Nando's voting for most valuable people of the century, finished in third place with 129,655 votes. More importantly, Curie crushed Rachel Carson who finished a distant fifth with 39,514 votes.

victory of the day: "U.S. judge dismisses Guatemala tobacco lawsuit" - "A U.S. federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against tobacco companies filed by the government of Guatemala, which is seeking to recover smoking-related health care-costs," reports Reuters. Brown & Williamson media release | Plaintiff lawyers' media release

scare-tistic of the day: "Smokers 'lose 11 minutes for each cigarette'" - "Every cigarette smoked cuts life expectancy by 11 minutes, bringing death six and a half years sooner for a regular smoker, says new research," reports The Independent. British Medical Journal study | The Times coverage

commentary of the day: "Understanding and Defeating the Worldwide Green Threat" - Alan Caruba's weekly "Warning Signs" column.

"Portugal green groups urge wider gene maize ban" - "Portuguese environmental groups on Wednesday hailed a government move to halt production of two genetically modified (GM) strains of maize and called for 15 other strains on trial to be denied official approval," reports Reuters.

"France ignores deadline to lift ban on British beef" - "France has told the European Union that it will ignore Thursday's deadline for lifting its ban on British beef imports, opening the way for a legal case against Paris to start next week at the EU's supreme court," reports the Associated Press. More coverage: The Independent | The Guardian.

December 30, 1999

"Vice President Announces Increased Access to Local Drinking Water Information" - Vice President announces a web site to scare Americans about harmless "contaminants" in drinking water.

"And now for a really long-range forecast: Earth could be twice as hot in AD3000" - "Global warming, if it continues unabated to the year 3000, might produce a rise in average world temperatures of 11C, which would go a long way towards making the planet uninhabitable, the calculations suggest," reports The Independent.

"Kiribati hopes millennium attention highlights environmental issue " - "When the world focuses on the island nation of Kiribati, the first country to enter the year 2000, locals hope to draw attention to global warming and the resultant danger the tiny island faces of being swallowed by the sea," reports the Associated Press.

commentary of the day I: "The century of science scares" - Michael LeGault writes in The National Post, "The 20th century has been the century of the overcooked environmental/ health scare. Certainly, news of one impending environmental crisis or another has been a dominant theme of global media coverage, especially in the past 40 years. Many of these stories have more resembled works of the imagination than works of science. Others, while having a basis in fact, have been exaggerated by activist groups with political agendas. The most imaginative and exaggerated of the century's scares follow."

commentary of the day II: "Environmental myths of 1999" - Fred Singer reviews in The Washington Times, "some of the tall tales about environmental calamities that made the news in the last year of the century."

December 29, 1999

Ben & Jerry's moment of the day: "Dioxin scare leads workers to file suit" - The Mainichi Daily News reports (Dec. 25),

In the nation's first compensation suit demanding damages for dioxin they inhaled a labor accident, six workers at a garbage incineration plant on Friday sued the government, Osaka Prefecture and organizations operating the facility.

The Osaka District Court, which received the suit, will discuss whether or not their inhaling of dioxin can be defined as a labor accident, observers say. If the court recognizes it as a work-related accident, the six will receive compensation.

The suit demands that the government, the prefecture, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co., which manufactured the plant's incinerator, and other organizations pay the six 53 million yen in damages.

The six are former and current employees of the Marukawa Kogyo company that dispatched workers to the incineration plant in Nose, Osaka Prefecture.

Under contract between Marukawa Kogyo and the plant, the six had worked near the incinerator or a cooling facility at the plant for up to 111/2 years since 1988. In July last year, it was revealed that a record high density of dioxin was detected in the cooling facility. A health check conducted later by the Labor Ministry showed that the six plaintiffs had been exposed to up to 30 times the acceptable amount of dioxins. [Emphasis added]

We measured dioxin in a sample of Ben & Jerry's World's Best Vanilla ice cream to exceed the EPA's "safe" dose by 200 times. Where are the trial lawyers?

'honors' of the day: EVAG's Honours List from 1999 - Economically Viable Alternative Green (EVAG) brings you the highlights and lowlifes collected throughout the year.

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: "Consumers Union Spotlights Top 10 Consumers Needs for Year 2000 " - Check out Consumers Union's -- and Consumer Reports' -- agenda for 2000.

"Belgium imposes new anti-dioxin food safety checks" - "The entire Belgian food chain will be subjected to a rigorous new system of checks to avoid a repeat of the country's dioxin contamination crisis, Belgian Agriculture Minister Jaak Gabriels announced on Tuesday," reports Reuters.

"War vets, activists join hands to represent defoliant victims" - "Korean War veterans and civic groups are joining up to seek compensation for Korean victims of U.S.-produced defoliants, officials of the newly formed coalition said yesterday," reports The Korea Herald.

"U.S. 1999 temperatures second-warmest of century" - "Temperatures in the United States will finish 1999 as the second-warmest on record since 1900, only topped by last year's all-time high mark, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Tuesday," reports Reuters.

junk commentary of the day: "Environmental man of the millennium" - Columnist Mitzi Perdue suggests Lester Brown of Worldwatch Institute as "environmental man of the millenium." Brown says our two biggest challenges are stabilizing population growth and climate change. This is the same Lester Brown who, in 1980, predicted it would be prudent for any American contemplating the purchase of a new car to assume that gas will cost $2 per gallon within a few years and $3 per gallon during the vehicle's lifetime.

lawsuit of the day: "Damages claim over passive smoking" - "A former nightclub croupier is claiming damages against his former employer over passive smoking - in a case believed to be the first of its kind," reports the BBC.

December 28, 1999

Another Ben & Jerry's dioxin moment: "High-Concentration Dioxin Found in Babies' Umbilical Cord" - The Jiji Press Ticker Service reports:

High concentrations of dioxin have been found in new-born babies' umbilical cords, Japan's Environment Agency said Monday, raising fresh concern about the highly toxic chemical.

An average of 14 picograms of dioxin was found in one gram of fat from the umbilical cord, according to the agency's first research on dioxin accumulation in human and animal bodies, carried out in fiscal 1998.

The amount extracted from the umbilical cords was more than half that found in breast milk, which had a concentration reading of 22.2 picograms, according to figures released by the Health and Welfare Ministry in August.

The findings come amid strong concern about dioxin's suspected role in a variety of health problems including birth defects and cancer.

Dioxin's suspected effects on human health have in recent years sparked public outrage against operators of incinerators, the main source of the chemical. The central and local governments have also come under fire for failing to properly regulate dioxin emissions.

An agency official said that the latest reading was roughly in line with the agency's projection. He said the agency cannot confirm whether the fetus is affected by its mother's body.

Researchers found an average of 57 picograms in adults' liver, while 15,000 picograms were extracted from the muscle of a kite in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo.

The research was conducted on umbilical cords from 29 new-born babies, as well as on dead human bodies and 12 types of wildlife, including birds, raccoons and whales.

We reported the amount of dioxin measured in a single serving of Ben & Jerry's World's Best Vanilla ice cream was 80 picograms. What would the Japan's Environment Agency say about that?

commentary of the day: "In defense of better food" - The Boston Herald editorializes, "Cheaper, better food, grown on fewer acres with less effort, is an unqualified benefit to humanity. How sad that it must be defended."

"Brazil's Farmers Dispute Ban On Genetically Modified Food" - "In one of the strangest twists in the dispute over genetically modified food, the government of a Brazilian state has gone to war with its farmers over their use of soybeans altered to permit use of a certain herbicide," reports The Wall Street Journal.

'dope science' of the day: "Smoking marijuana increases head and neck cancer risk" - "People who smoke marijuana may be more likely than those who do not smoke to develop cancer of the head and neck, according to a report in the December 17th issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarker and Prevention," reports Reuters. But this study is the first to make such a connection. It is very small with only 20 cancer cases who smoked marijuana. Only 10 cases smoked marijuana for more than 5 years. The results were not statistically significant, meaning they could easily have occurred by chance. Science is not a quick-and-dirty, one-study endeavor. The scientific method requires a thorough testing of ideas followed by independent replication of results.

judicial decision of the day: "Plaintiff's Experts' Testimony Against Phentermine Thrown Out In Massachusetts Phen/Fen Lawsuit " - "Scientific testimony about the effects of phentermine from two plaintiff's experts who have testified in dozens of state and federal lawsuits over the harmful effects of two drugs, phentermine and fenfluramine (phen/fen), has been thrown out for failing to meet standards of scientific evidence in a Massachusetts Superior Court case."

junk media release of the day: "New Studies on Cancer, Osteoporosis Find Soy Products Favorably Influence Health" - The soybean industry should be ashamed of telling consumers that soybeans intake "can help protect against prostate cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis, among other diseases." The new studies -- including a seven-month study of 20 women -- just aren't very persuasive as to soybeans preventing cancer.

junk commentary of the day: "The World Bank's Aim: Beef for China" - Anti-meat-head Neil Barnhard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes in The New York Times, "While smart Americans recognize the need to "Easternize" their own diets with rice, soy products and more vegetarian options, World Bank bureaucrats decided to promote a Westernization of China's diet. Instead of supporting the use of grain as a cholesterol-free dietary staple for people, the grain will be fed to cattle to produce meat."

"GMO crop use may boost food costs - Chicago Fed" - "Use of genetically modified (GMO) crops in the food system will likely increase handling and processing costs and retail food prices to some extent, a Federal Reserve Bank economist said on Monday," reports Reuters.

"Fla Supreme Court declines to step into tobacco case" - "The Florida Supreme Court on Monday declined to step into a landmark class-action lawsuit won by Florida smokers, leaving U.S. tobacco companies open to a potentially crippling multibillion-dollar judgment," reports Reuters. Philip Morris, Inc. said in a media release, "Today's Florida Supreme Court decision not to intervene in the ongoing Engle trial in Miami is a procedural decision, and not a decision on merits of Philip Morris's legal position... "The court did not review the merits of our legal position, and while the result is disappointing, it is not surprising. It is extraordinary for an appellate court to intervene in an ongoing trial. Today's two-line order will not affect the earliest possible appeal of any verdict in the case, and we firmly believe that any plaintiff's verdict should immediately be reversed on appeal," said William S. Ohlemeyer, vice president and associate general counsel at Philip Morris."

"Tobacco firms seek dismissal of U.S. lawsuit" - "Major tobacco companies on Monday asked a federal judge to dismiss a huge U.S. lawsuit seeking to recover billions of dollars of health care costs arguing that the U.S. government has no legal basis to sue," reports Reuters. Click for the complaint in U.S. v. Philip Morris et al. Check out these related commentaries:

"Where there is smoke..." - Washington Times, Sep. 29, 1999
"Another tobacco lawsuit (yawn)" - Wall Street Journal Sep. 29, 1999
"A case of fraud" - Detroit News Sep. 27, 1999
"How not to regulate tobacco" - Chicago Tribune Sep. 24, 1999
"The wrong way on tobacco" - New York Post Sep 24, 1999

"Children may sue smoking parents" - "Children exposed to their parents' smoking may soon begin suing them, a prominent public-liability lawyer has predicted," reports The Age.

December 27, 1999

"No increase in leukemia in Chernobyl children" - "There has been no increase in leukemia among children who were exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear plant after its reactor exploded in 1986, according to researchers," reports Reuters.

commentary of the day: "Biotech crop-busting comes to Canada" - Mike Fumento writes in The National Post, "The eco-terrorists know that just around the corner is the second wave of biotech foods, in which not just farmers and the environment will benefit, but consumers as well. They know that pressure could build in the Third World for crops to relieve terrible malnutrition problems that lead to crippling, blindness and early death. When that happens (or in biotech-bashers' thinking, if it's allowed to), they know that in the ensuing war of ideas and choice they cannot win."

junk commentary of the day I: "A steward for the environment" - The Boston Globe applauds departing EPA Region 1 Administrator John DeVillars. At Junkscience.com, we just applaud DeVillars' departure. A major DeVillars' accomplishment was squeezing hundreds of millions of dollars from GE regarding PCBs in the Hudson River. DeVillars will be teaching at MIT -- probably Environmental Extortion 101.

junk commentary of the day II: "Hold SUVs accountable" - The Deseret News supports the new crackdown on SUV emissions and sulfur in gasoline and adds, "The health benefits should be substantial — particularly for those people with respiratory ailments. The American Lung Association estimates that smog and microscopic soot annually account for 400,000 asthma attacks and 1 million respiratory problems, many involving children. In addition, those conditions result in 15,000 premature deaths among the elderly annually." But the EPA opnly claimed the rule would prevent 2,400 premature deaths and even that is subject to dispute. E-mail your comments to The Deserset News at letters@desnews.com.

December 26, 1999

cartoon of the day: Henry Payne on the EPA's new air pollution rules

commentary of the day: "Have the 20th century’s 'isms' been vanquished?" - Thomas Bray writes in The Detroit News, "The dangerous seeds of Utopian excess live on - extreme forms of feminism, environmentalism and multiculturalism, for example, which require governmental force to do things that human nature resists. The 20th century may not be over."

MVP voting: Curie continues to womp Carson - Marie Curie extends ler lead over Rachel Carson in voting for Nando's Most Valuable People of the Century. Click to place your vote.

junk commentary of the day: "No Retreat on Clean Air" - The New York Times editorializes in favor of unconstitutional government actions on air pollution. For background info:

"Court Blocks Another EPA Smog Rule"
"Democracy 1, Tyranny 0"
"Red Light for Regulators"
"Courts Thwart the EPA's Power Grab"

E-mail your comments to The New York Times.

"Children could 'live to 100'" - "The children of today could expect to live to at least 100 as life expectancy continues to increase, according to a senior government doctor," reports the BBC.

"Time names Albert Einstein person of century" - "German-American scientist Albert Einstein, whose theories laid the groundwork for 20th century technologies ranging from television to space travel, has been chosen as Time's Person of the Century, the magazine announced Sunday," reports the Associated Press.

"Floyd flooding highlights North Carolina's environmental woes" - "Scientists feared that Hurricane Floyd would poison drinking water wells, kill millions of fish and otherwise wreak havoc on the land, water and wildlife of Eastern North Carolina. The worst pollution horrors never materialized, thanks to cool weather, dilution by rainwater and other factors. Instead, the flooding left a different kind of environmental impact -- bringing new attention to hazards that were already festering in the rural coastal plain before Floyd hit in September," reports the Associated Press.

"Merits of Altered Crops" - Ruth Kava of the American Council on Science and Health writes in a letter-to-the-editor of The New York Times, "While opponents of genetically modified products fan the flames of public fear of use of such crops, the truth is that they do not threaten food safety, and in fact hold much promise for present and future generations."

"Study Spurs Public and Private Push to Cut Medical Errors" - "Spurred by an Institute of Medicine report last month, big employers, health care organizations, state regulators and the federal government are stepping up pressure to revamp a health care system that calls itself the best in the world, yet hides and ignores mistakes that kill tens of thousands of patients a year," reports The New York Times. But how reliable is the IOM study?

December 25, 1999 -- Merry Christmas -- Ho-ho-ho!

commentary of the day I: "Humbug--an Environmental Anthem" - Robert Oliphant comments in The Los Angeles Times about the "Humbug!" attitude of the enviros.

commentary of the day II: "1999 Was a Very Good Year!" - Warning Signs by Alan Caruba, founder of The National Anxiety Center. This week offers a look at 98-99 statistics that prove life in America means living longer, healthier, and safer lives.

"Mobile phone health safeguards anger Swiss firms" - "Swiss citizens worried that mobile phones could threaten public health have persuaded the government to issue new guidelines which telecoms companies said on Friday will burden them with an extra $630 million in costs," reports Reuters.

"Tainted Vermiculite Processed for Decades; Officials Ignored Asbestos Hazard as Mineral Was Sent to 60 Plants, Paper Says" - "The Post-Intelligencer reported last month that asbestos-related illnesses linked to the now-closed vermiculite mine in Libby, Mont., killed at least 192 people in the past 40 years. Most developed asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining," reports The Washington Post. Click for New York Times coverage.

"Prince's war on GM 'condemns world to starve'" - "The Prince of Wales and other leading opponents of genetically modified crops are consigning billions of people to a future of hunger and starvation, a former senior government adviser said yesterday," reports The Times (Dec. 23).

"Archbishop takes aim at science" - "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has used his Christmas sermon to attack the view that there is a scientific explanation for the entire natural world," reports the BBC.

December 24, 1999

commentary of the day I: "This Y2K bug is for Real" - James Freeman writes in USA Today, "Recently I asked why officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were wasting their time and my money criticizing Americans for being too fat. The CDC had just launched a national campaign to urge all of us to eat less. As you may know, the actual mission of the CDC is to prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases. How could warning people about obesity possibly prevent the spread of infectious diseases?"

commentary of the day II: "Air Pollution: EPA pushes divisive and questionable standards" - The Detroit Free Press comments, "The northeastern United States is a region of congested cities, colossal traffic jams and more oil-burning boilers than anywhere else in the country. Not surprisingly, the region has a smog problem. It's got a solution for it, too: Blame Michigan and the Midwest."

commentary of the day III: "Wolf issue an equation for science" - Fred Lebraun writes in the (Albany, NY) Times Union (Dec. 16), "Unexpectedly, science is sticking a long skewer in the hopes of those who want to reintroduce wolves to the Adirondacks."

"Love Canal: Health Hype vs. Health Fact " - From the American Council on Science and Health: "Was there ever any real health problem at Love Canal? Yes, there was, in the sense that there was an enormous amount of media-induced stress placed on residents who were terrified that they and their children would become ill. But no - there was never any documented evidence that exposure to chemicals at the site caused death or disease."

"Disaster - but was it natural?" - Not surprisingly, the enviros blame the tragedy in Venzuela on land use policies. The real problem, though, is the poverty that forces many Venezuelans to live in poorly sited and constructed homes -- topped off with inadequate warning systems and emergency services. Further restrictions on the country's natural resources will only ensure continual poverty.

"Girl dies from dengue fever in Texas" - It won't be long before the enviros blame this outbreak of dengue fever on global warming.

"Early reproduction linked to premature death" - "Experiments in fruit flies appear to support this idea" reports Reuters.

"The Week That Was December 25, 1999" - The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

"Chemical pollution slow to clear" - "UK scientists have found that some highly toxic contaminants are not dispersing in water as rapidly as they had thought," reports the BBC.

December 23, 1999

Junkman on CNN! "The legacy of Agent Orange" - I was the guest on the Wednesday evening edition of the CNN International program Insight. The topic was Agent Orange and whether it was causing illness and birth defects among Vietnamese. The show was inspired by last Sunday's 60 Minutes program featuring a report from Vietnam by Christine Amanpour. By the time I got home from the interview (45 minutes), I already had hate e-mail - from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia! I'll post a transcript as soon as possible.

Related story: "Judge rejects veteran's Agent Orange lawsuit" - "A federal judge in New York has rejected a lawsuit filed by a Vietnam War veteran who claims his cancer was caused by exposure to Agent Orange," reports The San Diego Union-Tribune (Dec. 21).

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: "Forget pesticides, eat your vegetables " - Dana Joel Gattuso writes, "The public is being fed inaccuracies in heaps by a number of vocal, special-interest environmental groups, such as the Consumers Union and the Environmental Working Group. These groups want pesticides and other synthetic chemicals banned from production, and they manipulate the facts in aggressive media campaigns to scare consumers away from foods containing pesticides."

commentary of the day I: "Perilous protection" - Kenneth Smith comments in The Washington Times about the federal government's propensity for hiding scientific data from the public. Featured examples include the National Cancer Institute attemtping to prevent access to data on the herbicide 2,4-D and the EPA successfuly preventing access to data on air pollution.

commentary of the day II: "Global climate contortionists" - About enviro claims that the weather is getting more extreme due to global warming, Michael Fumento writes in The Washington Times, "All that's becoming 'more extreme' these days is the shrillness - and ridiculousness - of the environmentalists' global-warming propaganda."

commentary of the day III: "Our mental state" - About last week's report from the Surgeon General on mental illness, The Indianapolis Star-Tribune comments, "People with clinical depression or an acute psychosis such as schizophrenia deserve all the help they can get. But tagging physical and emotional irregularities and inappropriate behavior as mental illness does a disservice to the truly ill. Worse, it may well lessen public concern and public support for the very efforts recommended by the surgeon general."

interview of the day: "Dr Truth" - In this New Scientist interview with Patrick Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace, Moore says, "I believe we are entering an era now where pagan beliefs and junk science are influencing public policy. GM foods and forestry are both good examples where policy is being influenced by arguments that have no basis in fact or logic. Certainly, biotechnology needs to be done very carefully. But GM crops are in the same category as oestrogen-mimicking compounds and pesticide residues. They are seen as an invisible force that will kill us all in our sleep or turn us all into mutants. It is preying on people's fear of the unknown."

junk science list of the day: "The century’s top environmental health leaders" - This list, compiled by MSNBC's resident bonehead Francesca Lyman, should be retitled "The century's top environmental hysterics."

"Paducah Plant Hid Risk From Workers" - " A limited review of Paducah employee death records also turned up rates of leukemia among workers that appear higher than normal, based on government mortality statistics. Epidemiologists who reviewed the findings described the data as intriguing but cautioned that a much more intensive scientific study was needed, involving investigators with full access to employee records and medical histories, to establish whether a pattern existed. Such a study has not been done at Paducah," reports The Washington Post.

"Women Who Opposed Deal on Silicone Implants Can Now Sue Companies, Judge Rules" - "A federal judge has ruled that women with silicone breast implants who voted against a $3.2 billion settlement plan offered by the Dow Corning Corporation are now free to sue the company's corporate parents," reports The New York Times.

"Miss. fen-phen settlement may endanger national deal" - "But with more than 11,000 fen-phen suits pending against the company by other diet drug users, the plaintiffs’ victory could motivate others to opt out of the settlement and sue on their own," reports MSNBC. Click for New York Times coverage.

commentary of the day: "If it save one life" - Timothy M. Wheeler, M.D. writes, "Guardians of public health have identified a new deadly threat to Americans--doctors and hospitals. In a dramatic press release, the prestigious Institute of Medicine recently announced "stunningly high rates of medical errors" resulting in death, disability, and unnecessary suffering. The Institute puts the annual death toll at the hands of doctors and hospitals as high as 98,000. Aside from a halfhearted amen from the American Medical Association, response from medical leaders has been less than rousing. Curiously, no leaders of organized medicine have called for a ban on medical education or bars on hospital doors. Of course they haven’t. That would be too extreme a response. But if you substituted "guns" for "medical errors," the high priests of public health would be raising their familiar hue and cry for more gun control. Following the logic of gun-control activists, we should lock all the hospital doors and send doctors looking for other jobs. Such drastic action would be justified, the controllers often say, “if it saves only one life.”

"Climate chiefs issue severe weather warning " - "Global warming is now changing the world's climate rapidly, and humanity faces a "critical" situation because of it, the chief meteorologists of Britain and the United States warn today in a remarkable joint statement," reports The Independent.

"French are given another week to lift beef embargo" - "Brussels has unexpectedly given France an extra week to lift its embargo on British beef before it faces court action. " reports The Independent.

"Stuff the turkey: A family row may not be the only holiday hazard" - "Beware the perils on your plate this Christmas. Turkey, veg, stuffing and more besides are full of natural substances that give lab rats cancer, warn a group of New York scientists in a spoof Christmas menu which they have designed to ridicule scare stories about pesticide residues in food and posted on the Internet. But anti-pesticide campaigners have dismissed the menu as a cheap stunt," reports The New Scientist.

"Watching Gaia from above" - "NASA's $1.3 billion Earth observation satellite, finally lifted off on 18 December just 10 seconds before the close of its 25-minute launch window. Packed with sensors for investigating how the oceans, continents and atmosphere interact, Terra is the first of 10 satellites designed to monitor the effects of human activity on the global environment over the next 15 years," reports The New Scientist.

"Row over lifting of BSE curbs" - "Proposals to end anti-BSE measures for sheep are causing a row in the meat industry. Government advisers have recommended that costly abattoir controls should be abandoned as part of the war on red tape, because there is no proof the fatal cattle disease has transferred to sheep," reports The Guardian.

December 22, 1999

junk verdict of the day: "Mississippi jury awards $150 million in fen-phen trial" - "A Mississippi jury awarded $150 million in compensatory damages Tuesday to five people who claimed their health problems could be traced to the controversial diet drug cocktail known as fen-phen," reports MSNBC. AP coverage of post-verdict shakedown| pre-shakedown American Home Products media release | My Wall Street Journal op-ed | New York Post editorial

hysteria of the day: "Scale of UK human mad cow epidemic still unknown" - "Hundreds of thousands of British meat eaters might eventually die from the human form of mad cow disease but the scale of the epidemic will not be known for years, the government's chief medical officer said on Tuesday," reports Reuters. More coverage: BBC coverage | CNN

This week's hysteria about 'mad cow' disease is an unfortunate intersection of gullible media and junk science. The new study has no bearing on whether humans can develop 'mad cow' from eating diseased cattle. The study involved genetically engineered laboratory mice injected with proteins thought to cause the disease (called "prions"). But the results from this test do not shed any light on whether humans can contract 'mad cow' from eating beef. It is not likely that simple ingestion of beef from infected cattle leads to mad cow disease. Otherwise the researchers would have fed meat to the mice, rather than inoculate them with prions. Also, prions are generally found in the central nervous system, not muscle tissue -- i.e., meat. All the mice inoculated with the prions developed the disease. But only 48 human deaths have been attributed to 'mad cow" despite widespread consumption of beef. It sure doesn't sound like what happened to the mice is what has happened to humans. Finally, a recent preliminary study in the American Society of Microbiology's journal "Infections and Immunity" (Dec. 99) raises the possibility that a bacterium could be the cause of 'mad cow' disease. "Mad cow" disease? "Mad media" disease is more like it!

'rotten book' list: "Big Books That Got the Future Way Wrong" - From Reason, a Top Ten Rotten Book List," headed by Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb.

'secret science' of the day: "Clinton touts tougher auto pollution rules" - "Warning that the growing number of automobiles is eroding clean air gains, President Clinton announced Tuesday 'the boldest steps in a generation' to fight air pollution and cut smog-causing emissions by 90 percent," reports the Associated Press. Today's Washington Post junk commentary | Washington Times op-ed, "EPA has a secret"

'Secret Science' at EPA: Public Not Allowed to Scrutinize Proposed SUV Emission, Gasoline Standards, Says the Junk Science Home Page

   WASHINGTON, May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency again is using "secret science" to push for more regulation, says Steven Milloy, publisher of the Junk Science Home Page. On May 1, the EPA proposed that sports utility vehicles (SUVs) meet more stringent tailpipe emissions standards and gasoline contain less sulfur.

   "No one can verify the statistical analysis underlying the EPA's wild assertion the rules would save 2,400 lives per year," said Milloy. "Without examining the data, we don't know the rules will save any lives whatsoever. Without the claimed benefits, there is little basis for regulation."

   The EPA claims the rules would produce between $200 million and $16 billion in net annual benefits. But up to $14.3 billion of these benefits are based on the EPA's unverified assertion.

   "This estimate of lives saved is based on a single, controversial statistical analysis," said Milloy. "Many suspect the analysis (known as the 'Pope study') is 'junk science.' The data may be of such poor quality that the statistical analysis is akin to 'garbage in-garbage out.' But the EPA has so far blocked all attempts -- even by Congress -- to have the study independently examined."

   The House Commerce Committee asked EPA administrator Carol Browner to "use all means available" to obtain the Pope study's data during a 1997 rulemaking for air quality standards. Though the EPA paid for the study, the researchers refused, and the agency refused to compel the researchers to make the data available to the public for independent confirmation.

   "Withholding scientific data paid for by taxpayers -- especially in the context of public policy -- is outrageous," said Michael Gough, a former government scientist."The scientific method requires data be available for review to see if the conclusions are valid. Without validation, the results cannot be considered scientific."

   A federal law signed by President Clinton in 1998 requires federally funded data used to support federal policy be available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. "This looks to be a good test case for the new data access law," said Milloy.

commentary of the day I: "Clinton to Detroit: Drop Dead" - About the new air pollution rules, The Detroit News comments, "In fact, the new standards will reduce targeted pollutants by a mere 0.0004 parts per million, which is statistically insignificant from the standpoint of public health."

commentary of the day II: "The modified food myth" - John R. Block writes in The Washington Times, "Fifty varieties of biotechnology-enhanced crops already have been approved in the United States. And we expect that biotechnology will help increase food productivity by up to 25 percent in the developing world. Note also that 75 million acres worldwide were under cultivation with biotechnology crops in 1998. That's up from 7 million in 1996."

"Farm Chemicals May Be Killing Fish" - "The chemicals farmers use in their fields may be linked to a huge dead zone off the coast of Louisiana where shellfish and other sea creatures are dying," reports the Associated Press. Click for Mike Fumento's "Hypoxia Hype in the Gulf of Mexico.

"GM-free canteen for Monsanto staff" - "Caterers have delivered Monsanto the final insult by banning genetically modified food from the GM giant's own staff canteen 'in response to concern raised by our customers,'" reports The Guardian. Click for The Independent's coverage.

"S.Africa's Woolworths bans GM foods" - "South African retail chain Woolworths said on Tuesday it had decided to remove all known genetically modified (GM) foods from its shelves until they were proven safe," reports Reuters.

"Tobacco companies' legal challenge dismissed" - "A legal challenge by tobacco companies to the content of an influential government advisory committee report on the health risks of smoking has been thrown out by a High Court judge," reports the BBC.

"Meat irradiation begins Feb. 22" - "New rules to allow U.S. meat plants to use low levels of irradiation to kill deadly bacteria on raw ground beef, steaks and pork chops will go into effect on Feb. 22, Agriculture Department aides said Tuesday," reports MSNBC.

"Chemical banned in US approved for use here" - "An agricultural chemical responsible for the recent rejection of a contaminated Australian beef shipment by the US has been approved for continued use in Australia, despite mounting concerns about its implications for the health of rural workers," reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

"Road Salt Deemed Safe" - "University of Victoria geography professor Harold Foster suggested that there may be a link between the use of road salt and its additives and the incidence of cancer... Health Canada has approved the additive found in salt as a food ingredient and has, since, 1995, stated repeatedly that environmental release of road salt poses no threat to human health."

December 21, 1999

'secret science' wins at EPA, again: "EPA to require cleaner fuels" - "President Clinton today will unveil tough new environmental rules that would require oil companies to produce cleaner gasolines and force automakers, for the first time, to develop sport-utility vehicles that meet the same stringent emissions standards as cars," reports The Washington Post. Click for "EPA has a secret."

outrage of the day: "The pen is mightier than DDT" - U.S. News & World Report (Dec. 27) picks Rachel Carson as one of the "25 makers of the American century," crediting her with sounding the alarm on the alleged dangers of DDT. But DDT had nothing to do with the demise of the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and brown pelican. Rather, DDT is one of the greatest public health tools of the 20th century, credited in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences with saving 500 million human lives. Rachel Carson's pesticide hysteria has helped bring death to millions in the third world -- mostly children. Click to send your comments to U.S. News & World Report.

scare of the day: "Environment Ministry Recalls Toxic Gifts" - "The Dutch Environment Ministry on Tuesday recalled 4,500 bicycle saddlebags which it had given its employees for Christmas after discovering they contained excessive amounts of the toxic metal cadmium," reports Reuters.

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: Karpatkin-think 2000 - Modern environmentalism is a political and social scam perpetrated, in part, through Consumers Union. There is little better evidence than Rhoda Karpatkin's editorial in the January 2000 issue of Consumer Reports.

bungler of the day: "Biotech Backlash Is Battering Plan Shapiro Thought Was Enlightened" - Monsanto CEO Bob Shapiro naively thought he could work with the enviros on biotech foods. That effort backfired. He recently tried again, meeting with Greenpeace. That didn't work either -- witness what happened in Seattle at the WTO meeting. Shapiro has bungled the biotech issue so badly that even proposed merger between Monsanto and Pharmacia & Upjohn is in jeopardy. Is it time for Shapiro to take the honorable way out?

mad cow study of the day: "BSE epidemic may have been caused by bug in soil" - "BSE could turn out to be one of science's greatest mistakes. New research just published by a government-funded scientist suggests that the epidemic has been caused by a bacterium and not by the mysterious particles known as prions," reports The Sunday Times (Dec. 12). Study abstract

mad cow study of yesterday: "" - "Scientists believe they have the most 'compelling' evidence yet that so-called mad cow disease has infected humans and caused fatal brain damage," reports the BBC. According to the media release, "The researchers conducted their study by first creating a line of transgenic mice genetically engineered to contain genes for the bovine prion protein. The researchers then inoculated the mice with prions from diseased cows. And approximately 250 days after being inoculated, all of the transgenic mice developed the neurologic disease." But this does not even come close to reflecting human experience with "mad cow" disease. Fewer than 50 cases of "mad cow" diseases were identified in humans -- despite mass consumption of beef. Also, humans aren't inoculated with material from diseased cows. Why not just feed diseased tissue to mice and see what happens? At least some light would be shed on the route of exposure issue. This appears to be just another animal experiment of questionable relevance to humans. It hardly establshes any meaningful link.

commentary of the day: "Pagans find religion" - Christopher C. Horner writes in The Washington Times, "Religion and faith are regular props in the 'environmental' debates, employed like Ross Perot’s famous pie charts. The most notable recent appearance was in the context of considering amendments to the Endangered Species Act. It was then, in a December 1995 speech, that Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt intimated that altering the text in any form was to violate God’s will as expressed in the book of Genesis. Recent elevation of religion in that Mother of All Environmental Debates, the Armageddon-esque theory of man-made global warming, is thus no surprise. The hypocrisy is particularly shocking, however."

"Barbie and Other Toys to Go on an Oil-Free Diet" - The New York Times touts Greenpeace's intimidation of Mattel on the issue of PVC toys. More on the endocrine disrupter scare.

"Risks for Cancer Can Start in Womb" - "Seeking to better understand the origins of breast cancer, researchers have begun to look as far back as the womb to identify prenatal factors and childhood experiences, including birth weight, diet and exercise patterns, that may affect a woman's risk of developing breast cancer," reports The New York Times.

"Cancer czar smoked for 20 years" - "Cancer "czar" Professor Mike Richards admitted today that he was a smoker until four years ago, despite knowing it massively increased his chances of getting the disease," reports This is London.

"Monsanto's P&U tie-up underlines GM woes" - "Monsanto Co's decision to merge with fellow drugs group Pharmacia & Upjohn and isolate its controversial biotech unit underlines just how badly its foray into genetic modification has backfired," reports Reuters.

"EU plans action on hormone-mimicking chemicals" - "The European Commission pledged on Monday to clamp down on a group of chemicals believed to damage both animal and human health by mimicking the effects of hormones in the body," reports Reuters.

"EU beef case against Germany seen delayed" - "The European Commission said on Monday it was still examining Germany's position on lifting a ban on British beef and any legal move could be delayed until after the Christmas holidays," reports Reuters.

"Controversial sheep dip withdrawn" - "But organophosphate dips (OPs) will be allowed back in use, possibly next year, if new containers that reduce the exposure risk to humans become available," reports the BBC.

December 20, 1999

tobacco study of the day: Secondhand smoke during pregnancy and childhood cancer - This study from the upcoming January 2000 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives -- and published here in its entirety -- basically reports a whole lotta nuthin', as summarized in the abstract. The very weak association reported for all cancers combined is a classic junk science play. No increase in any specific cancer was reported. If secondhand smoke was a carcinogen it would probably tend to cause at least one specific type of cancer -- not just act generally. Combining all cancers into a single statistical association is without biological justification. Boffetta's "Hail Mary" pass is called back for illegal motion in the backfield.

endocrine disrupter scare of the day: BPA reported to leach from dental sealants - The endocrine disrupter mob is at it again, this time reporting that bisphenol A (BPA) leaches from commercial dental sealants. The American Dental Association says "none of the dental sealants that carry the ADA Seal release detectable BPA, although it must be emphasized that there is no evidence to suggest a link between any adverse health condition and BPA leached out of dental sealants." Further info: More on BPA | Status of endocrine disrupter scare

mad cow study of the day: "Data establishes link between 'mad cow' disease, human brain disorder" - Well, not really. "Researchers are reporting what they say is the most compelling evidence, to date, that the infectious proteins called prions that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow" disease, have infected humans, causing fatal brain degeneration... The researchers conducted their study by first creating a line of transgenic mice genetically engineered to contain genes for the bovine prion protein. The researchers then inoculated the mice with prions from diseased cows. And approximately 250 days after being inoculated, all of the transgenic mice developed the neurologic disease." But this does not even come close to reflecting human experience with "mad cow" disease. Fewer than 50 cases of "mad cow" diseases were identified in humans -- despite mass consumption of beef. Also, humans aren't inoculated with material from diseased cows. Why not just feed diseased tissue to mice and see what happens? At least some light would be shed on the route of exposure issue. This appears to be just another animal experiment of questionable relevance to humans. It hardly establshes any meaningful link.

commentary of the day I: "Attack on Consumer Reports" - The Washington Post comments, "Trial could prove embarrassing for [Consumers Union], as its methodologies come under sustained attack... reviewers must have a lot of leeway -- assuming they are acting in good faith -- to give the public the benefit of their findings." But does Consumers Report always act in good faith?

commentary of the day II: "Ecological Eugenics" - Peter Huber writes in The Wall Street Journal, "Pitched on its environmental merits, the class-action lawsuit filed last week again Monsanto would be thrown out in short order. So the lawyers dressed it up as an antitrust case instead. Now it's the Microsoft case, redirected against genes."

commentary of the day III: "Into PC high gear" - Fred Singer writes in The Washington Times, "There never were as many as 2,500 scientists involved with the global warming report of the U.N.-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and there was never any agreement among the 100 or so climate scientists who actually contributed."

commentary of the day IV: "Isaac Newton " - Jeff Jacoby profiles Issac Newton in The Boston Globe.

junk commentary of the day: "Backslide on the Environment" - Melodramatics from Geneva Overholser in The Washington Post: "In fact, the evidence that we're changing the world around us, and changing it dramatically, is unmistakable."

big number of the day: "Alcohol abuse exacts $250 billion health care toll" - "Alcohol abuse costs society an estimated $250 billion per year in health care, public safety, and social welfare expenditures. Given this enormous impact, it will remain a major health problem until public understanding improves, according to a team of researchers who analyzed prevention and treatment programs."

"Lifestyle behaviors compromise public health " - "While this century's medical advances and public health efforts have dramatically reduced the threat of infectious disease in the US, another threat to public health remains - poor health due to lifestyle behaviors, say researchers. "The heaviest burden of illness today is due to chronic diseases that are, to a large degree, preventable," said lead study author C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey. Such illnesses - which are estimated to be responsible for 70 percent of all medical care spending - are linked to lifestyle behaviors involving tobacco use, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of healthy diet and exercise, and risky sexual practices."

tobacco round-up:

  • "Nation won't meet smoking goals" - "With fewer adults quitting and more youths becoming smokers, the nation won’t meet its smoking-related goals for 2000, according to researchers."

  • "Study suggests cigarette companies target youth" - "Cigarette companies have asserted that their youth-oriented advertisements are directed at young adults aged 18 or older rather than at youths aged 10 to 15, but new research suggests otherwise."

  • "High schools need to bolster tobacco control efforts" - "Suspending or expelling high school smokers may do more harm than good, yet many schools are quicker to mete out such punishments than to employ smoking prevention and cessation programs, according to a survey of South Carolina high schools."

  • "Research helps explain why women have harder time quitting smoking than men" - "New findings may help to explain why it is harder for women to quit smoking than it is for men. Women take smaller and shorter puffs when smoking cigarettes than men do, and after smoking they find greater relief from withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness and difficulty concentrating."

"Monsanto, Pharmacia & Upjohn agree to merge" - "The deal ends months of speculation that Monsanto, troubled by a depressed stock price and mounting opposition to its controversial genetically modified crops, would split off its agribusiness unit or be acquired by a larger company," reports Reuters.

"Kew plants to monitor global warming of the globe" - "Flowers and trees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are to be used as tools to detect the impact of global warming in a new project to mark the millennium," reports The Independent.

"Oxford physicist says time travel is possible" - "So not only would you have to go through a black hole and then be spat out of the other end, you would have to go through the correct part, the wormhole. But in a black hole, which might be miles wide, a wormhole would - according to the mathematics - be only a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a centimetre wide. And one of the best arguments that time travel, at least in a reasonable form like Wells's time machine, is not possible is the simple and logical one: we have not - as far as we can tell - been visited by anyone from the future," reports The Independent.

December 19, 1999

today's Gore-ing: Gore: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" belongs in time capsule - During today's debate between Democratic presidential candidates Bill Bradley and Al Gore, Meet the Press host Tim Russert asked each candidate what two items from this century would they would put in a time capsule. Gore responded one item would be a copy of Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech that include the famous quote, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" -- an ironic suggestion considering Gore's paranoid environmental beliefs.

commentary of the day: "Do no harm applies to the environment" - The Boston Herald comments, "The EPA is expected to formally adopt its latest proposal for cleaner gasoline and less motor vehicle exhaust pollution. This could have the paradoxical result in many U.S. cities - including Boston - of increasing ozone pollution."

junk commentary of the day I: "Fixing our genes" - The Indianapolis Star-News, usually a voice of reason in the junk science wilderness, sides with Jeremy Rifkin in commenting, "There is a mental and moral discipline in the Rifkin approach [to biotechnology], one that is different -- and far preferable -- to the unquestioning faith in research and experimentation expressed by Anderson [the father of gene therapy]." Rifkin is a fearmomger, pure and simple. And since when does fearmongering constitute "mental and moral discipline"? Send your comments to The Indianapolis Star-News (StarEditor@starnews.com).

junk commentary of the day II: "Biotech Foods: Second Thoughts" - The Los Angeles Times comments, "Americans are having second thoughts about genetically modified food after years of paying little attention while consumers in Europe were in hysterics... The industry, instead of fighting its ultimate customers, should concentrate on trying to build public confidence in the new technology." But it's difficult to build public confidence when the media gives credence to the groundless claims and outright fraud of anti-technology cranks. Send your comments to The Los Angeles Times (letters@latimes.com).

junk commentary of the day III: "Frightening new evidence" - The St. Louis Dispatch comments, "Emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases from the burning of fossil fuels must be reduced. Ways to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere must be explored. If Mr. Ford can turn his back on his industry and embrace the cause, anyone can." Send your comments to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (letters@postnet.com).

sucker of the day? "Shaken, not stirred" - The San Francisco Examiner seems to have fallen victim to a gag in The British Medical Journal's annual "Christmas Issue," which includes "studies" titled: "Magnetic resonance imaging of male and female genitals during coitus and female sexual arousal;" "Babes and boobs? Analysis of JAMA cover art -- Commentary: An inconclusive study;" "Alliteration in medicine: a puzzling profusion of p's;" and "Unsafe sax: cohort study of the impact of too much sax on the mortality of famous jazz musicians."

scare of the day: "'Zombie gas' plane threat" - "A toxic gas that seeps into aeroplanes knocking out pilots and turning passengers into 'zombies' is being blamed for a series of mysterious incidents that aviation experts fear could lead to a disaster," reports The News Unlimited.

"1999 Continues Warming Trend Around Globe" - "At 55.7 degrees, for instance, this year's average temperature in the 48 states is projected to fall just shy of a record 56.4 degrees set in 1998," reports The New York Times.

"Dutch government says might sue tobacco industry" - "The Netherlands is considering suing for damages from the country's tobacco industry for smoking-related health costs, the Health Ministry said on Saturday," reports Reuters.

December 18, 1999

omission of the day: "Most prognosticators fail the test of time" - This Washington Post article conveniently overlooks the failings of Paul Ehrlich and the enviro doomsayers. Send your comments to The Washington Post.

commentary of the day I: "Politically corrrect, Ford Motor Company Buckles" - Fred Singer comments on Ford's decision to pull out of the Global Climate Coalition.

commentary of the day II: "Sense, not hyperbole, on global warming" - Frank Tivnan writes in The Boston Globe, "Scientists on both sides agree that it will be at least a decade before the next generation of powerful computers can adequately measure the myriad temperature variations around the globe and give a more accurate indication if warming is happening and why.Meanwhile, no thoughtful person would dismiss warming out of hand, but common sense suggests awaiting more definitive evidence before flagellating ourselves with wounds that may prove unnecessary."

junk commentary of the day: "What's Gore smokin?" - The Boston Herald comments against medicinal marijuana because, "Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang of California's Johnson Cancer Center recently observed 'The carcinogens in marijuana are much stronger than those in tobacco.' His research shows that long-time marijuana users are at much higher risk of developing head and neck cancers than non-smokers'." In the first place, Zhang's research consists of one small study -- 20 cases who smoked marijuana and only 10 who smoked for more than 5 years -- with statistically insignificant results (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, Dec. '99). Many medical treatments, especially chemotherapy, involve carcinogenic agents -- e.g., the breast cancer drug, tamoxifen. So what if long-time marijuana use is associated with a hypothetical risk of cancer? Many patients who would benefit from medicinal marijuana would be lucky to live so long. Unfortunately, The Boston Globe, which is usually on the correct side of junk science issues, has fallen prey to "knee-jerk conservatism." Send your comments to The Boston Herald (letterstoeditor@bostonherald.com).

'letter to the editor' of the day: "Short shrift" - Clare Short, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, puts the boot into all those self-indulgent environmental correspondents with regard to their biased reporting of the WTO in a splendid letter in The Guardian.

"EPA orders cuts in smog-producing emissions" - "Nearly 400 power plants in 12 states must dramatically reduce smog-producing emissions, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled Friday," reports the Associated Press. New York Times coverage | Washington Post coverage | My related New York Post op-ed

"NTP Confirms Health Care Without Harm About Vinyl Medical Products" - "Today, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) confirmed Health Care Without Harm's assertion that di-ethylhexyl-phthalate (DEHP) is a hazard to human development and fertility. DEHP is a phthalate plasticizer used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) medical products soft and flexible. Patients are exposed to DEHP when it leaches out of PVC medical devices such as IV bags, tubing, enteral (intestinal) feeding tubes and some feeding bags, and blood bags," says Health Care Without Harm. Background on NTP meeting.

"Mowlam promises tougher GM rules" - "Mo Mowlam, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, has pledged to reform the "haphazard" labelling system for genetically modified foods at the launch of a new government website on GM crops," reports The Independent.

"CJD death toll of 48 may be 'just the tip of the iceberg'" - "The inquiry into BSE closed yesterday, the same day that the ban on beef on the bone was finally lifted, with a warning that the 48 people who have died of the human version of the disease so far in Britain may be 'just the tip of an iceberg'," reports The Independent. More coverage: The Guardian | Daily Telegraph | Daily Record | Reuters

"Italy suspends seven GM food products" - "The Italian government has temporarily suspended the use of seven genetically-modified food products, a Health Ministry statement said on Friday," rpeorts Reuters.

"Greenpeace lists French GM food suspects" - "Environmental group Greenpeace on Friday released a revised list of more than 80 French food products it said were susceptible of containing genetically modified (GM) organisms," reports Reuters.

"French agency to rule on safety of French beef" - "The French food safety agency that played a key role in France's controversial decision to maintain a ban on British beef, hopes to issue an opinion early next year on the safety of French beef, officials said on Friday," reports Reuters.

"Depleted uranium ban demanded" - "Two leading authorities on the effects of depleted uranium (DU) have told UK Members of Parliament of their fears for those exposed to the substance in Iraq and Kosovo," reports the BBC.

"Injuries, illnesses on the job at lowest levels" - "Job-related illnesses and injuries in private workplaces were at record low rates last year, government figures show," reports the Associated Press.

"Canada's ozone record dismal, group says" - "Canada is losing its reputation as a leader in protecting the Earth's ozone layer because the country isn't doing enough to destroy the chemicals that harm the upper reaches of the atmosphere, Friends of the Earth says," reports The Globe and Mail. More on ozone depletion

"The Week That Was December 18, 1999" - The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

"GM free state" - "A South Australian MP is proposing to turn South Australia into a genetically modified free crop zone," reports ABC.

December 17, 1999

Ben & Jerry's news of the day I: Public Interest Groups File Deceptive Advertising Complaint Against Ben and Jerry's - Citizens for the Integrity of Science and the Competitive Enterprise Institute have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission charging Ben & Jerry's Homemade, Inc. with deceptive marketing. FTC complaint | FTC complaint media release | Report | Report media release | Reuters coverage | United Press International coverage | Washington Times coverage.

Ben & Jerry's news of the day II: "Ben & Jerry's defends dioxin complaint" - "Popular ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's said Thursday its dioxin-free packaging was an effort to improve the environment where the company could even if the ice cream contained the controversial chemical," reports Reuters.

scare of the day: "New EPA Data Released Under Freedom of Information Act Find High Cancer Risk Tied to Wood Utility Poles Treated with Poisonous Chemicals" - "Children exposed to soil around utility poles treated with pentachlorophenol (penta), a wood preservative commonly used in pole treatment, face a risk of cancer 220 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable level, according to an EPA preliminary review obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and being released today for the first time by Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. The data means that two children born each day are pre-destined to contracting cancer from this exposure alone," says Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. But a 45-pound children who eats one serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream may be exposed to more than 600 times the amount of dioxin the U.S. EPA says is "safe," according to our report. And kids are a lot more likely to eat Ben & Jerry's ice cream than the dirt around telephone poles.

junk of the day: "Pesticide pollution is linked to cancer" - "The first firm evidence has been uncovered to link environmental pollution with cancer in human beings. Researchers have found that people with high levels of pesticides and chemicals known as PCBs in their bloodstreams are far more likely to develop genetic mutations linked with cancer of the pancreas," reports The Times. A very small study with flaky results -- check out Table 2 for results adjusted by only a couple of confounders.

'must read' of the day: "Earth Report 2000" - "Earth Report 2000 is a collection of essays written by preeminent experts in the environmental field. Some of the issues featured in this edition include climate change, state of the world’s fisheries, endocrine disruptors, and population issues."

commentary of the day: "Warning Signs" - Alan Caruba's weekly column.

"Toymakers' softener falls foul of Brussels " - "It is the stuff of toymakers' nightmares. Days before Christmas, shops across the European Union are told to stop selling some of their best-selling products because of safety fears," reports The Financial Times.

"Weather can only get warmer" - "With 15 days to go, 1999 could be about to break British temperature records. Scientists at the Met Office and East Anglia university said yesterday it could be the warmest year for Britain since records began in central England in 1659 - unless the cold snap continues," reports The Guardian.

"BSE hearings end after two years" - "Today the BSE inquiry ends nearly two years of public hearings into the catastrophic cattle epidemic that still creates political fault lines throughout Europe," reports The Independent.

"EU to bring in compulsory beef labelling early" - "European Union governments decided on Thursday that EU-wide compulsory labelling for beef should be introduced next September to boost consumer confidence in the wake of the mad cow crisis, EU diplomats said," reports Reuters.

"UK govt wins latest round of tobacco ads ban" - "The British government on Thursday won the latest round of its legal battle to end tobacco advertising ahead of a European Union deadline but was prevented from instating the ban immediately," reports Reuters. BBC coverge.

"Aluminium giant Alcoa warns on cancer risk" - "The world's largest aluminium producer Alcoa Inc has warned workers at its smelters to seek medical advice because they could be at a higher risk of developing bladder or lung cancer than the general population," reports Reuters.

"EU has not received anti-trust complaint on GMOs" - "The European Commission said on Thursday that it had not received any complaints accusing biotechnology firms of anti-competitive practices, but did not rule out such a lawsuit in Europe in the future," reports Reuters.

"Second case of CJD brain disorder found in France" - "French doctors have found a second case of the human brain disorder Creutzfeld Jacob Disease (CJD) which they suspect may be linked to beef contaminated with mad cow disease, authorities said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

"When an Agency Extends Itself; In the Tobacco Case, a Chance to Limit Chevron Deference" - "What the Supreme Court heard on Dec. 1 was a case about tobacco and the Food and Drug Administration. What the Court decides could affect the relationship between industries and government agencies with absolutely no interest in the sale of cigarettes," reports the Law News Network.

"Human stem cell research leads Science's top ten list of the best scientific advances in 1999" - "The most important scientific advance of 1999, says Science, was the progress scientists made towards controlling how human stem cells-extraordinary cells capable of giving rise to all the other cells in our bodies-assume their identities. In just one short year, stem cells have shown promise for treating a dizzying variety of human diseases. In its annual "Top Ten" list, appearing in the 17 December 1999 issue, Science salutes this research and nine more of the year's hottest scientific developments for their profound implications for society and the advancement of science."

"Evidence mounts for Arctic Oscillation's impact on northern climate" - "The trend in the Arctic Oscillation, they said, has been reproduced in climate models with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases."

"Climate program just a start, minister says" - " The federal government's $1.6-billion plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is only the first phase of its program to tackle climate change, Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale said yesterday," reports The Globe and Mail.

December 16, 1999

poll of the day: About.com poll on Ben & Jerry's complaint - Should Ben & Jerry's acknowledge the presence of dioxin in the food supply?

commentary of the day: "The Green's Ear-ie Deception" - My commentary in today's New York Post.

silliest-ever global warming claim? Global warming reduces efficacy of anti-cancer medicines - Impending global warming will worsen the rate of cancer mortality by reducing the efficacy of anti-cancer medicines, acording to a commentary in the Nov/Dec issue of The Journal of Oncology Management. In "Global Warming and Performance of Antineoplastic Therapeutic Agents," Subhash C. Arya of the Centre for Logistical Research & Innovation in New Dehli, India writes, "Such therapeutic agents have to be stored either between 2 to 8oC or in a controlled temperature not exceeding 25oC or 30oC. Any inadvertent exposure of an antineoplastic to a higher than recommended temperature for varying intervals, would reduce its potency and bioavailability... In the United States, extreme heat stress, caused by heat waves lasting several days or extremely hot and humid days, have increased in the past half century... July 1998 was the hottest month during the past 120 years. In developing countries, heat waves are accompanied by poor electricity supplies that disturb the operation of electrically operated applicances designed for maintaining temperatures at the appropriate level."

lawsuit of the day: Anti-meat group sues USDA, HHS - The anti-meat group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) charging conflict of interest and bias.

"Biotech foes vocal in U.S. but still a minority" - "A recent lawsuit and protests against genetically modified foods suggest growing opposition in the United States, but those high-profile examples overshadow a silent majority of ambivalent U.S. consumers, agribusiness analysts said on Wednesday," reports Reuters.

"Dutch corn gluten market on hold on GMO worries" - "The Dutch market in U.S. corn gluten, a major feed ingredient, has been thrown into confusion after environmental group Greenpeace charged that shipments contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) not approved by the European Union," reports Reuters.

"Greens welcome Monsanto suit, may be widened" - "European green groups on Wednesday welcomed a U.S. lawsuit against life sciences firm Monsanto Co , as one of the plaintiffs said he would not rule out the U.S. government supporting the action," reports Reuters.

"Cohen defends mandatory anthrax innoculations" - "Defense Secretary William Cohen on Wednesday defended mandatory inoculations for all U.S. troops against the deadly anthrax biological agent, saying it would be 'irresponsible' of him not to require such immunizations. 'I think it's important that this program be mandatory,' Cohen said in response to questions from troops during a visit to Dover Air Force Base," reports Reuters. Related op-ed by Mike Fumento.

"EU sees uphill battle for fast court move on beef" - "Europe's food safety Commissioner David Byrne pledged on Wednesday to consider applying for a fast-track court ruling against France over its ban on British beef, but warned it might be an 'uphill battle'," reports Reuters.

"EU Environment Ministers Fail to Cut Power Plant Emissions" - "Finnish Environment Minister Satu Hassi Tuesday harshly criticised Germany, claiming that it had blocked agreement on a European Union directive to cut air emissions from power plants and industrial boilers. Controlling emissions from old plants was the stumbling block," reports ENS.

"Cabinet okays plan to fight global warming" - "The fight against global warming is the most profound economic challenge facing the country since the Second World War, says a secret cabinet document that outlines a $1.6-billion, five-year plan to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases Canadians pump into the atmosphere," reports The Globe and Mail.

"Keep that spray: Crops made resistant to pests still do better with chemicals" - "Farmers may need to douse their fields with yet more pesticides to get the best out of genetically modified plants. At least, that's the implication of patent applications filed by Novartis of Basle in Switzerland, one of the leading companies in the field," reports The New Scientist.

"Sea sickness: Deaths of harbour porpoises are linked to PCBs and mercury" - "Is pollution leaving porpoises vulnerable to killer diseases? It seems so, now that esearchers in London have found the strongest evidence so far linking the contamination of harbour porpoises by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to deaths from infectious disease," reports The New Scientist.

"Green vs. Green: A Bitter Struggle in New York City Splits the Sierra Club" - "The underlying problem, insist the New York group members and other critics, is that the Sierra Club is increasingly part of the status quo. They say the club has become far too moderate in its dealings with business and political interests - that you shouldn't wheel and deal with the fate of the earth. This divide echoes divisions in the environmental movement as a whole: a split between pragmatists and purists, insiders and outsiders, or, as Pope puts it, between 'incrementalists' and 'visionaries.' Critics date that friction back to the 1980s, when fear of the harm president Ronald Reagan might bring to the environment brought a massive influx of members and donations to groups like the Sierra Club. That money, ironically, helped to tame its combativeness," reports The Village Voice.

December 15, 1999

lawsuit of the day: "Rifkin Sues Frankenfood Giant" - "A group of Iowa, Indiana, and French farmers sued Monsanto Co. Tuesday for allegedly selling genetically altered crops without first ensuring they were safe for consumers and the environment," reports Reuters. Other coverage: More Reuters | BBC | New York Times | Washington Post.

junk commentary the day: "Wary of cell phones" - This Seattle Times time editorial gives way too much credence to a recent study reporting that cell phone use may affect long-term memory. Click here for a more informed commentary. Send your comments to The Seattle Times.

commentary the day I: "Mentally Ill of Just Feeling Sad?" - Sally Satel comments in The New York Times, "Now that the surgeon general has put his imprimatur on the idea that one-fifth of America is in need of mental health care, we are in danger of seeing a burst of indiscriminate and misplaced new spending that could end up hurting, rather than helping, the people who need treatment most." Click for a related Chicago Tribune editorial.

commentary the day II: "If Only There Were A Vaccine for Hysteria" - Michael Fumento writes in The Wall Street Journal, "The government has already been far too craven in placating Gulf War syndrome activists. If it caves in to the anthrax vaccine hysteria, it could cripple America's ability to defend itself."

commentary the day III: "Making Heavy Weather" - Mike Fumento writes in Investor's Business Daily (Dec. 14), "When it comes to weather, the unusual is usual. All that's becoming "MORE EXTREME" these days is the shrillness of environmentalists."

report the day: "Hanford Study Design Sound but Data Analysis, Communication Fell Short" - A new National Research Council report concludes, "A study of people exposed to the radioactive isotope iodine-131 in the Richland, Wash., area was well-designed, but the study's researchers reported the findings as more conclusive than they were, according to a new report from the National Research Council of the National Academies. A number of other errors were made in communicating the findings of the study to the public, as well." Full Report

myth-bustin' of the day? "Vitamins may thwart cancer-fighting efforts" - "Vitamins are thought by many to be a key weapon in the arsenal of disease prevention. But when it comes to cancer, new research presented Monday at the American Society for Cell Biology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. suggests that using vitamins can backfire, actually helping the disease spread more quickly. Vitamins A and E, in particular, may interfere with the natural mechanism by which defective or cancerous cells self-destruct, causing concern among researchers who say that cancer patients who pop vitamins during chemotherapy and radiation therapy may unwittingly be sabotaging their own treatment. 'Everyone believes vitamins are very important,' said lead researcher Rudolph Salganik, PhD, of the University of North Carolina research team. 'The truth is we don't know how useful vitamins are for us,'" reports WebMD.

"Brazilian greens hail Amazon delay" - "Conservation groups in Brazil are claiming at least a temporary victory in their campaign to derail a new law proposed by the country's government. They say the law threatens one third of the country's rainforest," reports the BBC. Get Philip Stott's new book, "Tropical Rain Forest: A Political Ecology of Hegemonic Mythmaking," at the Junkscience.com store.

"Study finds no benefit for beta carotene" - "A study in Wednesday's Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that patients who regularly took beta carotene pills did not have "statistically significant" fewer cancers or heart disease deaths," reports the Associated Press.

"Genomes For Judges" - "The Washington, D.C.­based Einstein Institute for Science, Health and the Courts (EINSHAC) is starting off the millennium with a campaign to boost the number of science-savvy judges," reports the Law News Network.

smokin' in the White House? "Bush - I Will Lift W.H. Tobacco Ban" - Will Brownsville Station or Motley Crue [music link] perform at the Inaugural gala?

"From ads to ashes" - "January 1 is not only the start of a new millennium, it is D-Day for anti-smoking activists in Hong Kong. From then on cigarette advertisements will be banished for good from magazines and newspapers, the last step in sealing the local mass media off from publicity campaigns of tobacco conglomerates," reports The South China Morning Post (Dec. 12).

"USDA approves irradiation to make meat safer" - "U.S. meat plants will soon be able to use irradiation technology to kill deadly bacteria on raw ground beef, steaks and pork chops, federal regulators said on Monday," reports Reuters. Associated Press coverage.

"EU agrees delay in beef labelling scheme" - "European Union farm ministers on Tuesday decided that a purely voluntary labelling scheme for beef should remain in force for another year, delaying a compulsory system until 2001," reports Reuters.

"EU gives France 5 days to justify UK beef ban" - "The European Commission on Tuesday gave France five working days to justify its ban on British beef or the matter would be referred to the European Court of Justice," reports Reuters.

"Farmers urged to abandon GM trials" - "Friends of the Earth has written to 20 farmers in England and Scotland, urging them to abandon trials of genetically-modified (GM) crops, which it says are illegal," reports the BBC.

"Japan to tighten GMO approval procedures" - "Japan's health ministry said on Tuesday it would not approve any more genetically modified foods pending the introduction of tighter regulations next April," reports Reuters.

"Top chefs want labels on genetically altered food " - "In a campaign organized by Canada's organic farmers, the chefs called for mandatory labelling of all genetically modified food," reports the CBC.

"Scientists in Italy Study GM Rice" - "An international team of scientists at the Catholic University of Piacenza in northern Italy is studying genetically altered rice, spliced with a gene from soya, that resists parasites, a spokesman said Monday," reports Reuters.

"Smoking may increase risk of panic attack " - "Daily smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience a panic attack for the first time, according to the results of a new study. However, kicking the habit appears to reduce the added risk, the researchers report," according to Reuters.

"Smoking, obesity up health costs" - "Smokers, couch potatoes, and obese individuals tend to spend more dollars on healthcare than people who lead healthier lifestyles, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association," reports Reuters. JAMA study

December 14, 1999

site upgrade: Junkscience.com gets new site search engine - Junkscience.com is now using PicoSearch as the site search engine. The form is on the left side of this page. Give it a try!

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: Consumers Union favors billion-dollar lawsuits against automakers - Check out this debate between David Pittle, technical director of Consumers Union, and Mitch Silver, president of Silver Auctions, on high-dollar consumer lawsuits against automakers.

'must read' of the day: "Clearing the Air: The Real Story of the War on Air Pollution" - In this recent book published by the Cato Institute, Indur M. Goklany challenges the orthodoxy that credits federal regulation for improving air quality.

'secret science' of the day: "Regulators Set to Unveil New Standards To Reformulate Gasoline, Cut Emissions" - "Environmental regulators are close to announcing sweeping new standards that will reformulate the nation's gasoline and sharply cut tailpipe emissions from trucks and sport-utility vehicles." reports The Wall Street Journal. My take on this regulation appears in the new report "Big Government and Bad Science: Ten Case Studies in Regulatory Abuse" from the Institute for Policy Innovation and the Lexington Institute.

junk journalism of the day: "Biotech battle of Seattle, and beyond" - MSNBC's resident bonehead Francesca Lyman does her usual hack job, this time on biotech foods.

political science of the day: "Mental Illness in America: 50 Million People a Year Surgeon General's Report Addresses Barriers to Treatment" - "The report is likely to play a role in upcoming congressional debates over various bills to extend insurance coverage to mental health," reports The Washington Post. Click for the report's conclusion [music link].

Clinton-ology? "UMass researcher finds link between lying and popularity" - Now I get it.

McCain-ology? "U-M to study whether POWs experience 'post-traumatic growth'" - Inspired by John McCain's presidential bid?

"Protesters Rally Vs. 'Frankenfoods'" - "'Genetic contamination is forever,' said organic farmer Laura Trent, whose sign read, 'Get your pig gene out of my tomato.' 'No scientist has proven it safe, and most people don't even know it's happening,'" report the Associated Press.

"Raising the Anti: For Those Fighting Biotech Crops, Santa Came Early" - "Serious money is starting to flow to the antibiotech movement in the U.S., even amid debate over whether the opposition is mostly about a scientific threat, an aversion to big business or a wariness of the unknown," reports The Wall Street Journal.

"England's heart health getting worse" - "Cardiovascular disease is again on the rise in England, a major government-backed survey concludes," reports the BBC.

"Cigarette manufacturers blamed for farmers' plight" - Why is it I don't believe that the anti-tobacco industry really gives a damn about tobacco growers?

"ATF puts cork on bid to tout health benefits on wine labels" - "A California wine industry victory that allowed vintners to cite health claims on labels has now been put on ice. Under pressure from Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has stopped approving wine labels that make reference to health information," reports the Associated Press.

"EU calls for 'big picture' environment protection" - " European Union ministers approved new laws on Monday calling for a 'big picture' approach to protecting the environment," reports Reuters.

"EU approves tighter air quality standards" - "European Union environment ministers on Monday agreed new rules designed to cut health and environmental problems linked to pollution from benzene and carbon monoxide," reports Reuters.

"EU scientists recommend new Food Safety Authority" - "European Union scientists on Monday proposed setting up a new EU-wide food safety agency to coordinate advice and limit the potential for damaging trade disputes such as the one between Britain and France over beef," reports Reuters.

"EU takes tough stand on GMO trade negotiations" - "European Union environment ministers called on Monday for the rapid conclusion of a tough and binding global pact to regulate trade in genetically modified commodities," reports Reuters.

"EU poised to step up action against France on beef" - "The European Commission intends to press ahead with legal action against France on Tuesday over its refusal to lift its illegal ban on British beef as EU farm minsters meet in Brussels," reports Reuters.

"EU to fight for GM food ban" - "Following the collapse of world trade talks in Seattle, the EU has vowed to press ahead with tough new measures to control trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," reports the BBC.

"NYU researchers find that genetically engineered corn releases insecticidal toxin into soil" - "Researchers at New York University have found that insect-killing toxin from Bt corn is released into soil from the roots. The scientists say more research is needed to determine whether this exuded toxin has a good, bad, or neutral effect on organisms in soil."

"19 Cities curb autos in bid to clear air" - "Italy's latest idea to reduce air pollution: car-free Sundays." reports The Chicago Tribune.

"Environment tops kids' list of concerns" - "The most important issue that kids around the world are concerned about for the future is the environment and animal rights, says the creator of a new documentary," reports ENN.

"Is Global Warming Good For Us?" - A debate between Brandon MacGillis, Director of Campaigns and Research for Ozone Action, and Fred Palmer, President of Greening Earth Society.

"Nicotine found in 47pc of infants" - "Nearly half of Australian babies have tested positive for nicotine, a pilot study reveals," reports The Daily Telegraph.

"UN urges clean-up of polluted hot spots in Balkans" - "A U.N. expert called on Monday for the immediate clean-up of pollution caused by the NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia, saying it was endangering human health," reports Reuters.

December 13, 1999

fraud of the day: New Turning Point Project Ad: "Global Warming -- how will it end?" - Here's the latest New York Times ad from the Turning Point Project. Click here for my Washington Times op-ed about the deception of an earlier ad. Today's ad features a photo of a mosquito with the caption "Already... disease carrying mosquitoes are heading north..." But such alarmism has been called misguided by a tropical disease expert at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

scare of the day: "Seeing milk in a different light: Ads push milk to American consumers, but it may not be an ideal food for all" - "The studies, though far from definitive, suggest that consumption of cow's milk may be associated in some people with a higher risk of diabetes, prostate cancer, or ovarian cancer," reports The Boston Globe.

commentary of the day I: "Chasing Rats From Our House" - About news of an upcoming study reporing rats exposed to microwaves had impaired memory, Rikki Lee comments in Wireless Week, "Whoa, let’s get our mammals straight. Lab rats aren’t people, and to transfer behavior in the rat race to the human race based on this study and ones similar is more than premature --it’s downright irresponsible."

commentary of the day II: "Sowing Seeds of Fear" - The Detroit News comments, "Yet another environmental scare campaign is underway, this one casting biotechnology as a threat to the world’s food supply. Macomb County’s own U.S. Rep. David Bonior is among the principal provocateurs, pitching to Congress regulatory curbs advocated by Greenpeace and like groups. But there’s more politics than science behind this attack on progress."

"Oakland hearing will discuss 'Frankenfood'; Both sides get to sound off on genetically modified food" - "A federal hearing in Oakland Monday on genetically engineered foods is attracting so much interest that crowds are expected to spill into the streets, illustrating the surging interest in whether regulators should impose tougher standards on what goes on supermarket shelves," reports The San Francisco Examiner.

"France reports two more cases of mad cow disease" - "France reported two new cases of mad cow disease on Monday, bringing the number of cattle in the country found with the illness to 28 this year," reports Reuters.

"Ozone Layer Recovery in Jeopardy as Administration Backs Industry Interests at Montreal Protocol Negotiations in Beijing" - A media relase from Friends of the Earth. Click for sanity on ozone depletion.

December 12, 1999

'expert' of the day: "Cigarette company ads nullified anti-smoking messages, expert testifies" - "A Boston University professor testified Friday that cigarette company advertising was so powerful that for some smokers it nullified the anti-smoking messages issued by doctors and society," reports the News-Journal Wire Servicees. The professor is Michael Siegel. Click here and here for what you need to know about Siegel, the perfect witness for this circus of a trial where:

  • The lead plaintiff is a physician;
  • The judge is member of the plaintiff class;
  • A 44-year-old nurse who smoked for 30 years testified she didn't know smoking was risky; and
  • The parties are not allowed to discuss the trial publicly.
debunking of the day: "Anti-Perspirants -- Not a Breast Cancer Risk" - This responds to an Internet rumor that anti-perspirants are a leading cause of breast cancer.

"French premier pleads with British to understand beef ban" - "French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin appealed to the British people Saturday to understand the French ban on British beef imports, saying it was a result of deep public health concerns," reports the Associated Press.

"Crop Busters" - Michael Fumento writes in Reason (Jan. '00), "The eco-terrorists know that just around the corner is the second wave of biotech foods, from which consumers as well as farmers and the environment will benefit. They know that pressure will build in the Third World for crops to relieve malnutrition problems that lead to crippling, blindness, and early death. They know that when that happens, they will not be able to win the ensuing war of ideas."

scare of the day: "President warns nation of holiday food dangers" - "President Clinton said new safety measures for eggs on the farm and in the packing plant will greatly reduce the number of cases of potentially deadly salmonella," reports the Associated Press.

"The Kyoto Protocol: The Costly Politics of Global Environmentalism" - Fred Singer writes "The KYOTO PROTOCOL is being advertised as an international agreement to reduce the "threat" of greenhouse warming to the global climate. As its framers and supporters phrase it, global warming is the "greatest challenge to human existence on this planet;" this conveniently ignores the challenges from nuclear war, terrorist attacks with biological and chemical weapons by rogue nations, and the perennial problem of poverty and social unrest. The late Aaron Wildavsky more correctly characterized global warming as the "mother of all environmental scares." In reality, the Protocol it is a radical initiative in launching economic and social policies that threaten democratic values, economic growth, and national sovereignty."

"The Week That Was December 11, 1999" - The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

December 11, 1999

"Health study data demanded by US Chamber" - "Picking a legal fight with universities and hospitals, a major business group yesterday demanded that researchers at Harvard University and elsewhere turn over data from health studies that the researchers say is personal and confidential," reports The Boston Globe.

"Government proposes standards to curb radon levels" - "The federal government is finally attempting to regulate cancer-causing radon, taking an unprecedented approach that could save more lives and cost less money than traditional drinking water controls," reports the Associated Press.

"Jospin pleads for British understanding on beef" - "French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin made an impassioned plea on Saturday for British understanding of his government's deeply resented decision to maintain a ban on British beef imports," reports Reuters.

"UK launches biggest ever anti-smoking campaign" - "Britain urged smokers to leave their cigarettes in the 20th century on Friday as it kicked off its biggest ever anti-smoking campaign," reports Reuters. Click for BBC covergae.

"Meat processor wins battle over safety standards" - "Supreme Beef challenged the move, arguing the new standards were arbitrary and capricious.' The company said other standards permit five times as much salmonella in chicken and turkey than in red meat," reports the Associated Press.

"Agency settles lawsuit to clean Southern California air" - "Southern California's smog-fighting agency agreed to settle a lawsuit with three environmental groups Friday, a move that could end decades of litigation and lead to cleaner air under an accelerated timetable," reports the Associated Press.

"Environmental Activists Find Human Rights Defenders" - "Environmental activists who are beaten, harassed, imprisoned, raped, tortured and murdered have new and powerful champions. Amnesty International and the Sierra Club, two of the largest grassroots movements in the United States, with a combined strength of 1.5 million members, have launched a public awareness and lobbying campaign to protect the Earth's protectors," reports the Environment News Service.

December 10, 1999

fraud of the day: "The Greens' ear-ie ad" - Remember the first Turning Point Project ad attacking genetic engineering? What's wrong with that picture? Here's my op-ed appearing in today's The Washington Times.

Ben & Jerry's thought of the day: "Koreans sue U.S. chemical companies for Agent Orange exposure" - "A group of Koreans has filed a federal lawsuit demanding compensation for harm suffered after U.S.-manufactured defoliants like Agent Orange were sprayed in Korea's Demilitarized Zone in the late 1960s, their attorney said Wednesday," reports CNN. Of course, dioxin is the controversial contaminant in Agent Orange. Will "World's Best Vanilla" ice cream consumers file suit against Ben & Jerry's one day?

report of the day I: "Big Government and Bad Science: Ten Case Studies in Regulatory Abuse" - Here's the Institute for Policy Innovation's annual joint project with the Lexington Institute. This year's report on 10 of the worst regulations of the federal government features environmental and other regulations where the combination of bad science and big government results in regulatory madness that needlessly infringes on the freedom of American citizens and corporations. These regulations also place enormous financial burdens on the U.S. economy. Obviously, regulations based on bad science or even no science should be immediately rescinded by Congressional action. Authors include: Sen. James Inhofe, Steven Milloy, Philip Peters, Bonner R. Cohen, Dennis Avery, Henry I. Miller, R.J. Smith, Hugh Wise, and David L. Lewis. Executive Summary | HTML | PDF.

report of the day II: "Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Risk Assessments" - The December supplement of Environmental Health Perspectives reports on a 1998 workshop addressing the health risks of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the workplace. Check out the 13 articles by the usual anti-tobacco, junk science-fueled crazies.

junk of the day I: "Report raises concerns of human harm from antibiotics-fed chickens" - "A government report suggests up to 5,000 Americans might have suffered longer-lasting food poisoning last year because they caught an antibiotic-resistant strain from eating chicken... However, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned that the nation lacks firm statistics on food-borne infections so it's impossible to know how precise the new estimate is... The new FDA risk assessment [is] based on a mathematical model,...," reports the Associated Press. Use of the mathematical model means the report is an exercise in make-believe.Click for Reuters coverage.

junk of the day II: "Flight crews may have increased cancer risk-study" - "Airline pilots and cabin crew may have an increased risk of leukaemia and other cancers because of their exposure to cosmic radiation, Danish researchers said on Friday," reports Reuters. Click for The Lancet study. This result is based on a difference of 2.4 cases of acute myeloid leukemia (3 observed vs. 0.6 expected) among jet pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours. Crash and burn!

political science? "Senate to probe mobile phone emissions " - "There is to be a Senate inquiry into the emissions produced by mobile phones," reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Judaism meets junk science: "Torah Prohibits Tobacco, Faction of Rabbis Insists In Controversial Opinion" - "Jacob Sullum, said that the proposal starts Jewish law down a 'slippery slope.' 'There are lots of Jews who are overweight, and there are clear health risks attached to that,' he said. 'Are we going to say it's halachically impermissable to be fat -- to overeat and not exercise? If not, why not?...Is there a Jewish attitude toward drug use? What's the Jewish position toward bungee jumping? Sky diving?'"

commentary of the day I: "Politics gets in the way of food" - Joseph Perkins comments in Jewish World Review, "While false-hearted advocates of labeling say that it would simply make consumers aware when they buy genetically modified foods, the real aim of label advocates, like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, is to make American consumers wary."

commentary of the day II: "Raising a "Ruckus" in Seattle" - Alan Caruba's weekly "Warning Signs" column.

"Love Canal Revitalization Said Done" - "Twenty years ago, when 7,500 residents left Love Canal, it seemed the area would never again be a community. But the agency given the task of revitalizing the neighborhoods declared a federal disaster in 1978 because of chemical contamination has held its last meeting," reports the Associated Press.

"Blair backs farmers' move to sue French for millions" - "The Government last night threw its weight behind a move by furious British farmers to sue the French government for millions of pounds in compensation over its defiance of European Union law by refusing to lift the ban on British beef," reports The Independent.

"UK, France in beef standoff at EU summit" - "The prime ministers of Britain and France attended a European Socialists' dinner together on Thursday despite a confrontation over a continued French embargo on British beef that threatens to sour a European Union summit," reports Reuters.

"Mississippi fen-phen trial could affect thousands of lawsuits" - "A trial under way in a small Mississippi town could cause big problems for a proposed settlement of thousands of lawsuits over fen-phen, the once-popular diet drug combination alleged to cause heart and lung damage," reports the Associated Press.

"Acid rain levels out" - "A new analysis of sulphur emissions worldwide shows that the United States and Canada, along with parts of Europe and Russia, have been stabilizing acid-rain emissions over the past two decades, reports the journal Atmospheric Environment. Scientists at Washington University analyzed oil and coal consumption and metal-smelting activity -- both release sulphur -- from 1850 to 1990. Their study reveals that emissions have declined since the 1970s, when new pollution laws took effect and many factories and power plants were forced to switch from high-sulphur coal to low-sulphur coal, oil or gas," reports The Globe and Mail (Dec. 9).

December 9, 1999

for news surfers only: Surfbusters: Daily Newspaper Search - Tired of surfing through Internet newspaper sites? Try the Surfbuster search engine. The search engine searches today's news and editorial content for a number of major media sites. E-mail me your comments or suggestions for web sites to add to the search engine.

commentary of the day: "Fresh field" - The New Scientist editorializes, "It's official. Power lines don't give children leukaemia... Let's seize this opportunity to move on and concentrate our science on other, more plausible causes of childhood cancer."

corporate boneheads of the day: "Searching for Safer Toys; Mattel Launches Drive to Find Alternative Ingredients" - "Mattel is asking scientists to find a biodegradable, non-petroleum replacement for phthalates, the chemicals used to soften plastic used in teething rings, bathtub toys and other playthings, including Barbie dolls. The announcement raised hope among advocates Wednesday that Mattel’s initiative will inspire other toymakers to stop using the chemicals," reports the Associated Press. During the last twelve months Mattel's stock price has dropped from over $31 to below $12. Rather than worrying about a junk science-fueled scare, Mattel CEO Jill Barad should focus on fixing her company's poor performance. Click for more on phthalates from Consumerdistorts.com.

cartoon of the day: Henry Payne draws Ford's decision to cave on global warming - From today's Detroit News.

conference of the day: "John Lott to Participate in Guns, Crime, Safety Conference" - "Dr. John Lott of the Yale University School of Law, an internationally recognized criminal justice expert and author of the best-selling book "More Guns, Less Crime," will join fellow academics and criminal justice experts at a two-day conference on "Guns, Crime and Safety" in the Wohlstetter Conference Center of the American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th St., N.W., Washington, D.C."

"National Cancer Institute Publishes New Atlas of Cancer Mortality" - "The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has published a new atlas, the "Atlas of Cancer Mortality in the United States, 1950-94," showing the geographic patterns of cancer death rates in more than 3,000 counties across the country over more than four decades. Except for the United States, few countries have mapped cancer mortality data over such an extensive time period and in such geographic detail, making it a unique resource."

"FDA reconsiders its ruling against silicone implants: Recent scientific studies fail to show link to disease" - "Silicone breast implants - banned in the United States for most of this decade - may be back on the market in the next several years. Dr. Paul Schnur, president of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, said the Food and Drug Administration, which banned implants in 1992, is rethinking the issue because recent scientific studies have failed to show a link between implants and diseases," reports The San Francisco Examiner (Dec. 6). Click here for related commentary from today's Washington Post.

"Fighting blight" - "Genetically modified potatoes that would have prevented the Irish potato famine in the 19th century have been developed in Canada. The potatoes thwart Phytophthora infestans, the fungal blight which devastated Irish potato harvests in the 1840s," reports The New Scientist.

"EPA mulls stricter testing for transgenic crops" - "Seed companies developing genetically modified crops may be required to conduct an array of new tests to detect any harmful effects for mallard ducks, rainbow trout, honeybees, and other wildlife, scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday," reports Reuters.

"Commission to step up legal action vs France on beef" - "European Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne said on Thursday he expected the Commission to take the next legal moves against France's continued ban on imports of British beef at a meeting in Strasbourg next Tuesday. Byrne told a news conference he expected the Commission to give France five days to respond to the next stage of the legal proceedings. Failure to do so could lead to France being dragged before the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, a process that can last up to a year and a half," reports Reuters.

"France said trade not an issue in beef decision" - "French Finance Minister Christian Sautter said on Thursday the government's decision to maintain an embargo on British beef was made purely on health grounds and trade had not been a factor," reports Reuters.

"France keeps British beef ban, angers London" - "France, sparking a new diplomatic spat with London, said late on Wednesday it was sticking to its ban on British beef because of insufficient guarantees on safety following the mid-1990s 'mad cow disease' scare," reports Reuters.

"EU gives U.S. until Feb to tighten beef controls" - "European Union veterinary experts on Wednesday extended until mid-February the deadline for the United States to provide guarantees that its shipments of beef were free of traces of illegal hormones," reports Reuters.

"French court pins Seita over smoker death" - " A French court ruled on Wednesday that French cigarette maker Seita was partly to blame for a smoker's death, opening a new front in the war on tobacco firms just as Seita prepares to merge with Spain's Tabacalera," reports Reuters.

"Florida coalition sues over liability law" - "A coalition of citizens groups sued Florida and its governor on Wednesday in a bid to repeal a law it says favors 'the selfish interests of big business,'" reports Reuters.

"Police end Greenpeace GM food blockade in Hamburg" - "Police in the northern German port of Hamburg ended a blockade by environment activist group Greenpeace late on Tuesday against a shipment of genetically modified maize from the United States," reports Reuters.

"UK gets even hotter" - "Climate scientists say 1999 will be the warmest year ever recorded in the UK," reports the BBC.

"Pollution emissions rise for first time since 1993" - "The pollutants Canadian industries reported releasing into the air, water and soil surged by 12.7 per cent in 1997 over the previous year, the first time emissions have increased since 1993, Environment Canada says," reports The Globe and Mail.

European Commission Proposal on the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products adopted - Click here for the proposal. Despite the media release, the proposal allows use of either "Smoking kills" or "Smoking can kill."

Federal Register notices:

December 8, 1999

charity of the day: The Hunger Site - Make a free donation of food to hungry people around the world. Viewing the sponsors panel is all it costs.

scare of the day: "Chemical pulled from teethers lives in toys" - "Consumer activists today will report they found that baby toys sold in major U.S. retail stores contain high levels of a chemical that causes kidney and liver damage in animals," reports USA Today. Click for perpsective from Consumerdistorts.com.

research review of the day: "Emerging Infectious Diseases and Amphibian Population Declines" - Researchers write in Emerging Infectious Diseases (Nov-Dec), "Global declines in amphibian population are perhaps one of the most pressing and enigmatic environmental problems of the late 20th century. While some declines are clearly due to habitat destruction, others are not associated with obvious environmental factors. Causal hypotheses include the introduction of predators or competitors, increased ultraviolet (UV-B) irradiation, acid precipitation, adverse weather patterns, environmental pollution, infectious disease, or a combination of these. Transdermal water uptake and gaseous exchange and a biphasic life cycle are important aspects of amphibian biology. These factors led to the hypothesis that amphibians act as sentinels for global environmental degradation. However, this role has yet to be demonstrated, and many causal factors may be present."

editorial correspondence of the day: "Food-Related Illness and Death in the United States " - A letter in Emerging Infectious Diseases (Nov- Dec) from the University of Minnesota's Craig Hedberg questions the CDC's recent estimate of foodborne illness: "Estimating the occurrence of foodborne diseases is daunting. The numerous efforts, including this one by Mead et al., to provide estimates have serious shortcomings. The real challenge is to identify the gaps in our knowledge so that they can be systematically addressed and updated estimates of foodborne illness can be provided to guide prevention efforts and assess the effectiveness of current food safety measures."

study of the day: "Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and risk of adenocarcinoma of the lung" - From the International Journal of Cancer (Nov. 26): "We conducted a case-control study of adenocarcinoma of the lung and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in 7 countries. We interviewed 70 cases of adenocarcinoma of the lung and 178 population or hospital controls. All subjects had smoked fewer than 400 cigarettes in their lifetimes. Ever exposure to ETS from the parents during childhood was associated with a decreased risk [odds ratio (OR) 0.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.3-1.2], and there was a suggestion of a decreasing trend in risk with increasing duration of exposure. Ever exposure to ETS from the spouse was not associated with an increased risk (OR 1.0, 95% CI 0.5-1.8), while the OR of ever exposure to ETS at the workplace was 1.5 (95% CI 0.8-3.0). For both exposure sources, an increased risk was observed among the highly exposed, and the OR among those with the highest duration of exposure to ETS from the spouse or at the workplace was 1.8 (95% CI 0.5-6.2). A similar risk was estimated for current exposure to ETS from either source. Our results confirm previous reports of a weak effect of adult ETS exposure on risk of adenocarcinoma of the lung. Bias and confounding cannot be excluded as explanations for the apparent decrease in risk from childhood exposure."

commentary of the day I: "Glickman Sticks His Neck Out for Science" - My commentary in The Farm Journal (December 1999) about a controversial speech on biotechnology delivered by USDA Secretary Dan Glickman.

commentary of the day II: "Foes of biotechnology ignore global hunger" - C.S. Prakash writes in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Dec. 5), "Anti-technology activists accuse corporations of "playing God" by genetically improving crops, but it is these so-called environmentalists who are really playing God, not with genes but with the lives of poor and hungry people."

commentary of the day III: "Activists fail to see good in biotech crops" - J. Winston Porter writes in The Columbus Dispatch (Dec. 7), "Is it still appropriate to refer to Greenpeace as an environmental group? Greenpeace and similar groups recently have focused their well-funded international campaigns in ways that adversely affect the environment."

commentary of the day IV: "Detoxifying the EPA" - The Detroit News editorializes, "Congress should ask the Environmental Protection Agency to pay for the cleanup mandates it imposes on communities under the Clean Water Act."

corporate boneheads of the day: "Monsanto Campaign Tries to Gain Support for Gene-Altered Food" - The New York Times reports on Monsanto's use of the clumsy public relations firm Burson-Marstellar.

media release of the day: "Engine Manufacturers Support EPA Science Panel Decision On Diesel Health Report" - From Business Wire: "The Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) supports the Dec. 1 decision made by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC) to reject the latest version of the US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Diesel Health Assessment Document. As a result of the decision, EPA must revise the document to more accurately reflect scientific results before obtaining approval of the independent scientific review panel."

lawsuit of the day: "Vets Who Served in Korea File Suit Over Exposure to Defoliants" - "Korean and American veterans who served in the late 1960s filed a class action suit in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Friday against the makers of three defoliants -- Agent Orange, Agent Blue and Monuron -- claiming the chemicals have had delayed toxic effects on the soldiers exposed to them," reports the Law News Network.

junk of the day: Smoking and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease - Smoking is a major independent risk factor for heart disease among Korean men, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Dec. 8). But the conclusion is bigger than warranted by the data. Cardiovascular disease has many potential risk factors, both genetic and life style. This study only considered age, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and diabetes. The follow-up period of the study was 6 years -- that's not very long considering the cohort consisted of relatively young men, ages 35 to 59. The reported statistical associations are weak enough that adjusting by more risk factors and/or extending the study period could easily change the results. The results aren't surprising as smokers tend to lead unhealthier lifestyles. And don't forget, last year's MONICA study -- the largest on heart disease ever -- failed to link smoking and other "traditional" risk factors with heart disease.

'ivory tower' commentary of the day: "The Precautionary Principle and Scientific Research Are Not Antithetical" - Bernie Goldstein comments in Environmental Health Perspectives (December 1999), "Responsible precaution requires that we accompany proposals for precautionary actions with a research agenda to decide if the actions, once taken, are justified. The Precautionary Principle works soundly only when those who invoke it accept that the precautionary action encompasses and automatically triggers research designed to concurrently determine the wisdom of the precautionary action." But Bernie Goldstein's Ivory Tower commentary aside, in the current public policy environment, there is no benign application of the precautionary principle.

junk commentary of the day: "A new environment?" - Bill McKibben writes in The Boston Globe that Ford left the Global Climate Coalition because the company has seen the light on the science of global warming. But science has nothing to do with Ford's decision. Ford wants to continue selling SUVs while pretending to be "green."

scientist of the year: "Roger Beachy: A Leader in Revitalizing Plant Science" - "Roger Beachy is named R&D Magazine's Scientist of the Year for his innovative research and his efforts to bring the latest transgenic technologies to the Third World."

"Chances bleak for biotech working group, US says" - "There appeared to be little chance of rescuing a proposal to establish a World Trade Organization working group on biotechnology, a top U.S. Agriculture Department official said Thursday," reports Reuters.

"Greenpeace blocks U.S. corn shipment to Mexico" - "Greenpeace activists Tuesday blockaded railway tracks from Mexico's Gulf Coast port of Veracruz in a bid to stop imports of genetically modified corn from the United States," reports Reuters.

"1999 set to be the warmest year ever" - "This year is likely to be the warmest ever recorded in Britain. There was no sweltering summer, but leading climate scientists believe 1999 will be hotter on average than any year since British records began in 1659, beating the previous record set in 1990," reports The Independent.

"Crown drops beef charges" - "A hotelier believed to be the first person prosecuted under the beef-on-the-bone ban was celebrating yesterday after the charges against him were dropped," reports The Independent.

"New test for estrogen-like compounds in food" - "Researchers in England have developed a test that tells whether foods and other products contain phytoestrogens, estrogen-like chemicals that may have harmful health effects."

"US researcher says biodiversity project threatened" - "Concerns about "bio-pillaging" are threatening an effort to analyze the medicinal value of thousands of plants used by the Highland Maya in Mexico, a researcher said on Tuesday," reports Reuters.

"Brazil state pays farmers to rip out GM soybeans" - "Brazil's southernmost state will launch what may be the world's first-ever crop substitution program aimed at weeding out genetically modified (GM) crops, a top state official said Tuesday," reports Reuters.

"EU welcomes progress in protecting ozone layer" - "The European Commission said on Tuesday considerable improvements had been made to a pact to protect the earth's protective ozone layer, despite resistance from a number of developed countries," reports Reuters.

"France to announce UK beef decision on Thursday" - "France will announce on Thursday its decision on whether or not to maintain its embargo on British beef imports, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's office said on Tuesday. The French food safety agency AFSSA on Monday issued a non-committal opinion on whether France should lift the controversial ban, leaving it up to the government to decide what to do," reports Reuters.

"Off-road vehicles ruining national parks-report" - "Over 100 environmental groups on Tuesday petitioned U.S. federal agencies to drastically reduce the number of off-road vehicles (ORVs) in national parks and forests, complaining that 'motorized cowboys' are polluting and destroying the environment," reports Reuters.

"Philip Morris Appeals $26.5 Mln Award to Smoker With Cancer" - "Philip Morris said its appeal is based on arguments that San Francisco County Superior Court Judge John E. Munter improperly instructed jurors on California and federal law, and admitted irrelevant and legally impermissible evidence," reports Bloomberg.

"Brown & Williamson/NJ Court: Lawsuit By Casino Workers" - "Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. Tuesday said New Jersey State Superior Court denied class certification to a group of casino workers who filed a lawsuitagainst the tobacco industry," reports Dow Jones.

December 7, 1999

'if at first you don't succeed...': "Sensitivity to Secondhand Smoke Is Found" - "Secondhand cigarette smoke may be more dangerous than previously believed, according to researchers, who report that some women with a common gene mutation are as much as six times as likely to develop lung cancer if they live with smokers," reports the Associated Press. What's not mentioned in this article is the data are a subset of a larger study originally published in the American Journal of Public Health (November 1992) reporting that secondhand smoke was not associated with lung cancer. The 1992 study, published one month before the EPA issued its risk assessment on secondhand smoke, was ignored by the EPA even though, at the time, it was the largest completed study on secondhand smoke. The new study is simply data-dredging -- i.e., data that are sliced-and-diced to find some or any assocation between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Even the accopmanying editorial was skeptical of the new study's results pointing to the small number of never-smoking cases that were genotyped and smoker misclassification.

junk of the day: "Rats Exposed To Cell Phone Microwaves Suffer Long-Term Memory Loss, According To New Study By University Of Washington Researcher" - "Henry Lai, a research professor in the UW's bioengineering department, has linked diminished long-term memory and navigating skills in rats with exposure to microwaves like those from cellular telephones," reports Science Daily. I'm not quite sure how relevant a rat's ability to swim through powdered milk is. I'm more interested in what stroke the swimming rats used. Dog paddle? Butterfly?

MVP voting: Curie bumped out of first, but still crushing Carson - Marie Curie has been overtaken by Margaret Thatcher, Eva Peron and Mother Teresa in Nando's MVP voting -- but Curie is still kicking Rachel Carson's butt. Click here to cast your ballot for Marie Curie, whose work paved the way for nuclear physics and cancer therapy. Click here for Rachel Carson's "legacy of death."

corporate traitor/hypocrite of the day: "Ford leaves lobbying group that denies global warming" - "Ford Motor Co. has withdrawn from a lobbying group opposing the Kyoto climate treaty, saying credible evidence of global warming exists and companies should work together to find technological solutions," reports the Associated Press. Is the Ford Excursion -- and its fuel economy rating of 10 miles per gallon -- considered a "technological solution"?

"Antarctica's icy origins" - "Scientists in Antarctica have uncovered when the continent's vast ice sheets formed and are warning that they could melt as consequence of global warming," reports the BBC.

today's Gore-ing: "If only Gore were still alive" - Dick Morris comments in The New York Post, "With each mild winter day and every stifling summer season, we recall how Gore long ago warned us about the dangers of global warming. Remember how Gore, when he was still alive, used to prophesy that hurricanes would be more violent and tornadoes more deadly as the earth warmed? Those with good memories will recall how he foretold the need to spray for mosquitoes in cities like ours as global warming moved tropical diseases northward."

'big brother' of the day: "Fat alert in store for shoppers" - "Using data gleaned from cash register printouts, Department of Health-funded researchers have found a clear link between supermarket shopping habits and health risks," reports The Guardian.

"Cell Research: Welcome Controls" - The Los Angeles Times comments, "It's welcome news that the federal government will soon begin sponsoring research on cells isolated from human embryos. That's because millions with serious diseases could benefit from medical discoveries that spring from the new research." Mike Gough and I wrote about this topic in Silencing Science, available at the Junkscience.com store.

"Chernobyl Up From the Grave" - The Los Angeles Times comments, "Ukraine--under close financial supervision to control its rampant corruption--should use the proceeds to finish two partly built modern nuclear power stations. With what's left, Kiev should finance wider use of natural gas and indigenous coal, in modern nonpolluting plants, for power generation."

"Consumers want GMO-free food, but who will pay?" - "Faced with a mounting global backlash against biotechnology, seed companies and food processors are debating how to provide biotech-free foods -- and who will pay for them," reports Reuters.

"French food agency non-committal on UK beef" - "The French food safety agency issued a non-committal opinion on Monday on whether France should lift its ban on British beef imports,leaving it up to the government to decide what to do," reports Reuters.

"EU says hopes French beef ban can be lifted soon" - "The European Commission said on Monday it hoped a report from the French food agency AFSSA on the safety of British beef would lead to France's embargo being lifted soon," reports Reuters.

"Greenpeace urges India to ratify ban on exporting hazardous waste" - "The environmental group Greenpeace appealed to India on Monday to ratify a treaty that prohibits transboundary movement of hazardous waste," reports the Associated Press.

"Genetic extremism overstates risks" - "Amid increasing acts of vandalism and protests against the use of genetic engineering in forestry, a group of scientists said this month in a professional journal that scare tactics used by environmental extremists must yield to a more careful analysis of the issues based upon science."

"Smart Growth at the Federal Trough: EPA’s Financing of the Anti-Sprawl Movement" - Peter Samuel and Randal O'Toole write in this Cato Institute policy analysis, "Congress should shut down the federal government’s anti-sprawl lobbying activities and resist the temptation to engage in centralized social engineering."

"EPA's New Rules Will Worsen Smog" - Kay Jones and ben Lieberman write "On May 13, 1999, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules tightening motor vehicle emissions, including those from light trucks, a category of vehicles that includes the popular SUVs and minivans. In conjunction, the agency also proposed sharply lower standards for sulfur content in gasoline. EPA has attempted to justify these so-called "Tier 2/sulfur" rules by stating that the expected emissions reductions in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) would reduce ozone (the primary constituent of smog) and bring more areas of the country into attainment with the federal ozone standard. In fact, precisely the opposite is true -- and EPA knows it. Despite its assertions to the contrary, the evidence shows that the new rules, if finalized in their current form, would actually increase smog in most major cities, and put as many as 12 areas out of attainment with the federal standard for ozone."

"Superfund Legislation: True Reform or a Hazardous Waste?" - "Given the green light by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to produce Superfund reform legislation before the session’s end, House Republicans are racing against the clock to meld two bills -- H.R.1300, sponsored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and H.R. 2580, by Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) -- into one. The likely outcome? Reinstatement of the Superfund tax, a federalized brownfields2 program, new community reporting requirements, as well as more federal funding of a law that has proven a colossal failure. While there are some positive elements in the legislation -- largely in H.R. 2580, which includes some liability exemptions for innocent parties and gives states some added authority -- the bills, overall, expand the federal role in brownfield redevelopment and do not do enough to clean up the Superfund quagmire. Furthermore, the concoction House Republican leaders are going to come up with by mixing the two is likely to be a poisonous brew."

"Cleaner Air Has Little To Do With Clean Air Act" - "Economic growth and technological change, not expanded federal regulations, are primarily responsible for the safer, cleaner air we now breathe, according to Clearing the Air: The Real Story of the War on Air Pollution, a book published by the Cato Institute. The book provides a comprehensive examination of American air quality through data never before compiled in one place."

"U.S. Vital Statistics Show Death Rates Down, Birth Rates Up" - "As Americans say goodbye to a decade, a century and a millennium, the U.S. death rate continues to decline, and the birth rate is up for the first time since 1990, according to the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics based on 1998 data."

"Explaining how ozone "chokes up" plants" - "Penn State researchers have identified how ozone, a major smog constituent, affects the microscopic breathing pores on plants' leaves, a process that may figure in the estimated $3 billion in agricultural losses caused by ozone air pollution in the U.S. each year."

December 6, 1999

eco-hysteria of the day: "The Next World War Will Be About Water" - This week's New York Times ad from The Turning Point Project.

"Health concerns raised over barbecued meat" - "Concern that barbecued meat may increase susceptibility to breast cancer is fuelling a research project at the University of Queensland," reports the AAP.

"Veterans study links Agent Orange and birth defects" - "Children of Vietnam war veterans show a significantly higher rate of birth defects, a new report has found," reports the AAP.

commentary of the day I: "Clear the air on tobacco as a drug" - The Chicago Tribune comments, "Instead of trying to make an end run around Capitol Hill, the Clinton administration and others who want to curb smoking should take their issue directly to Congress, where everyone can find out what our elected representatives really think is the best way to guard the health of America's youths."

commentary of the day II: "Lethal Doctors?" - The Detroit News comments, "According to a study released last week by the Institute of Medicine, the medical arm of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS), more people die every year of medical 'errors' during hospitalization than in highway accidents. The academy recommends, among other things, the creation of a giant new federal bureaucracy to police hospitals to reduce the number of these supposedly preventable deaths. But its suggestion is, quite literally, overkill."

commentary of the day III: "Chaos in Seattle " - The Indianapolis Star-News comments, "Liberalizing trade among nations will do more to solve the problems of people, jobs and the environment than protests. For its part, if the still fledgling and too secret WTO, wants to win the support it deserves it must, as Clinton rightly suggested, open its proceedings to more public scrutiny."

commentary of the day IV: "Fighting the dream: Feds fund anti-growth 'eco-cranks'" - Michelle Malkin writes in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "We want what everyone, from our parents to The Brady Bunch to The Simpsons, has: a house in the 'burbs, two cars in the garage and room to grow. Growth, however, is a four-letter word to a hostile chorus of environmental cranks who don't want people like me --- young, mobile, first-time home buyers --- moving into their neighborhoods."

"Americans flunk test on ocean science" - "The Ocean Project, a nonprofit environmental group based in Washington, D.C., released results of their poll Nov. 30 showing that while 92 percent of Americans consider oceans essential for human survival, public knowledge about ocean science is abysmal," reports the Associated Press.

"Finding a place to stash the carbon dioxide" - "As a way of slowing down the 'greenhouse effect,' federal energy officials have joined scientists worldwide in studying the disposal of carbon dioxide," reports the Christian Science Monitor Service.

"Sooty Air Cuts China's Crop Yields" - From Science News: "... harvest estimates, reported in the Nov. 23 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that haze may be depressing China's farm yields by 5 to 30 percent."

"Survey finds reticence over genetically altered food" - "A national survey of attitudes towards biotechnology has found Australians are more cautious about genetic engineering of food than any other application," reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"Govt funds study to send greenhouse gases underground" - "The Federal Government and major energy companies have combined in a research study to investigate the possibility of pumping greenhouse gases deep under the earth's surface," reports the Austalian Broadcasting Corp.

"French agency to rule on beef ban Monday - source" - "French food safety agency AFSSA will likely announce later on Monday whether it thinks enough safeguards have been put in place to warrant lifting France's ban on imports of British beef, a government source said," reports Reuters.

December 5, 1999

today's Gore-ing: "Gore's latest 'discovery'" - The Boston Herald comments, "Gore, in fact, was a leader in pushing the Superfund cleanup legislation through Congress. Considering how that clumsy statute has worked out, maybe he doesn't want to billboard that as an achievement."

"Environmental Myths of 1999" - From the Science and Environmetnal Policy Project: "It's time once again to review some of the tall tales about environmental calamities that made the news in the last year of the century. Global warming took top spot, being blamed for every conceivable disaster: floods and droughts; heat waves and a coming ice age; disappearing glaciers and rising sea levels; dying corals and disappearing frogs; hurricanes and El Ninos; --- and in the offing: famine; pestilence; and even wars [started by desperate environmental refugees]."

"Gulf War: U.S. should vigorously pursue illness answers" - The Dallas Morning News falls for hometown junk science. This small study produced no connection between any chemicals -- let alone Gulf War exposures -- and the reported observations.

corporate traitor of the day: "Ford breaks ranks with industry's anti-green campaign" - "Ford, the car giant, is to deal a devastating blow to attempts by the motor and oil industry to resist pollution control. It has decided to leave the Global Climate Coalition, the main industry lobby group campaigning against the introduction of measures to control global warming. It is the first major car company, and the first US multinational, to break ranks in this way and so its move will greatly undermine industry's campaign," reports The Independent.

"The Week That Was December 4, 1999" - The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

"NGOs slam UN ozone meeting in Beijing" - "Non-governmental organizations Saturday slammed a just concluded UN-sponsored meeting on eliminating ozone depleting chemicals (ODCs), blaming developed nations for a lack of funding and international diplomats for caving into corporate interests," reports the AFP.

"Bush And Environmentalists Clash Over His Record" - "Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and conservation critics stepped up a debate of their own on Friday on Bush's environmental record as governor of Texas," reports Reuters.

"Farmers Stick With Biotech Crops" - "Farmers have been switching in droves to genetically engineered corn and soybeans over the past three years. There is growing evidence that they plan to stick with the crops next year despite backlashes against biotechnology in Europe and Japan and producers' lingering worries about the industry's future," reports the Associated Press.

December 4, 1999

Coca-Cola Syndrome? "Coca-Cola Still Haunted by Contamination Scandal in Belgium" - "What they want, the parents say, is to discover what Coca-Cola knows about the mysterious complaints afflicting their children and to demand more money in compensation than the company has been prepared to pay to other families. Their children, they say, still suffer from headaches, knee pain and exhaustion," reports The New York Times. The contamination occurred last June! I think what the parents really want to know is how much money can they pry loose from the Coca-Cola Company! "Don't go broke, sue Coke. It's the real cha-ching!"

'letter to the editor' of the day I: "Hurricane Heretic" - Steve Hochman slaps The Washington Post for omitting to mention in an earlier article that "[Hurricane forceaster William Gray's] politically incorrect but scientifically accurate views regarding global warming make it difficult for him to receive federal funding."

'letter to the editor' of the day II: "Still a secret" - In response to this op-ed by Daniel Greenberg about secrecy in privately funded research, Mike Gough and the Junkman point out there is plenty of secrecy in taxpayer-funded research as well.

global warming news of the day: "Scientists challenge conventional sea level theory" - "Australian scientists say they have discovered evidence of rapid change in world sea levels and of a dramatic fall in geologically recent times -- directly challenging current conventional wisdom... This means that the current rise in the sea level -- normally associated with environmental warming caused by the so-called greenhouse effect -- might not be that unusual...," reports Reuters.

commentary of the day: "Be Not Afraid, Use Genetics to Feed the World's Hungry" - Jack Kemp writes in The Los Angeles Times, "Superstition and sheer misunderstanding, however, are being used to browbeat the public--particularly in Europe, but increasingly in the U.S.--into opposing agricultural biotechnology, which the world needs to feed its growing population, improve nutrition and head off famine."

hypocrisy of the day? "UNESCO world heritage list recognizes historic Dutch dike system" - "UNESCO has recognized the age-old Dutch battle against the sea as an important international cultural development by including a piece of land reclaimed in the 17th century on its world heritage list," reports the Associated Press. EVAG's Barry Hearn points out, "Well! While we certainly don't have anything at all against the the magnificent engineering feat accomplished by the Dutch in the 17th century, can you imagine what the reaction of UNESCO would be should the Dutch, or anyone else, attempt such a thing today? What reaction would UNESCO and the global green loopy brigade have to any plan to drain a 28-square-mile area of marsh and shallows? Can't you just hear the "Save the rather-rusty VW's habitat" or "Protect the lesser mud-slumper" campaigns?"

those pollutin' pets: "Pets may be major cause of water pollution in urban areas" - "The research project, described in a paper published in the December issue of the Journal of Environmental Engineering, measured levels of fecal coliform bacteria in four neighborhoods in north Nashville. The object of the study was to determine if septic systems could be the cause of unexpectedly high bacterial levels that had been detected previously in local streams and tributaries. Two of the Nashville neighborhoods that the researchers studied were sewered and two relied on septic systems. The researchers could not find any evidence of leaking septic or sewer systems, but they did find high bacterial levels in runoff from streets and lawns. 'We can't say with absolute certainty that pets, along with other urban wildlife, are the cause of this bacterial pollution,' says Thackston, 'but all the signs point in that direction.'"

literature review of the day: "Does ionizing radiation induce leukaemia?" - Dr Ivor Surveyor takes an extensive look at the greenie claim that ionizing radiation causes leukaemia.

dioxin article of the day: "Sharon Beder Screws up on Dioxin" - Aaron Oakley on how an Australian academic has jumped on the enviro-anti-chemical bandwagon.

"EU says Germany willing to lift UK beef ban" - "The European Commission said on Friday Germany had confirmed its willingness to lift a ban on British beef, which would be enough to stave off the immediate threat of legal action by the EU's executive," reports Reuters.

"French agency to rule on British beef next week" - "The French food safety agency AFSSA said on Friday it would announce early next week whether it thought enough safeguards had been put in place to warrant lifting France's ban on imports of British beef," reports Reuters.

"Grim forecast for Scotland" - "Scotland may lose some bird species such as the ptarmigan and snow bunting. North Sea and North Atlantic fisheries, along with freshwater salmon and sea trout, could also be affected by changing ocean circulation," reports the BBC.

"R.J. Reynolds phasing in tobacco with less of possible carcinogen" - "RJR said its new processing method - using heat exchangers instead of direct-fire burners in tobacco barns - can reduce nitrosamine levels more than 90 percent in flue-cured tobacco," reports the Associated Press.

December 3, 1999

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: EU report undercuts upcoming Consumer Reports scare; Draft risk assessment finds no endocrine disruption from low exposures to Bisphenol A - Consumerdistorts.com has obtained (and posted in PDF format!) a copy of this closely-held risk assessment document which should pre-empt the upcoming Consumers Reports scare about the chemical bisphenol A leaching from food and beverage can linings and polycarbonate bottles.

study of the day: "Power lines not linked to cancer - researchers" - "Radiation from power lines and household appliances does not increase a child's risk of developing leukaemia or other cancers, British researchers said on Friday." Click for the UK study, New Zealand study, and critical editorial. Click for BBC and The Independent coverage.

today's Gore-ing: "Al Gore's Love Whopper" - The New York Post comments, "To spare him future embarrassment after this Love Canal business -- not to mention the "Love Story" thing -- we offer the following counsel to the vice president: 'Al, you didn't write ‘Love Shack.' That would be the B-52s, Al. You didn't host ‘Love Connection.' That would be Chuck Woolery. You never dated Jennifer Love Hewitt. That would be Carson Daly. Got that, Mr. Vice President?'"

tobacco editorial round-up:

  • "Smoked Out" - The Wall Street Journal editorializes, "... the whole tobacco crusade has exposed the government as the worst disrespecter of the law, putting forth claims and arguments that no private citizen could hope to get away with."

  • "Supreme Smoke" - The New York Times whines that the Supreme Court is unlikely to permit FDA jurisdiction over tobacco.

  • "Tobacco and the Court" - The Washington Post joins The New York Times in whining about the Supreme Court, but the editorial was not available at the Post's web site at the time of this posting.

"Study: Arctic Sea Ice Is Rapidly Dwindling; Global Warming Called Likely Cause" - "The amount of the measured ice decline has not been in dispute. Whether the shrinkage is unnaturally large is a different matter. Even 50 years is a very short time in terms of global climate variation, and there are no measurements going back for thousands of years," reports The Washington Post.

"Reliving the 1960’s, Losers Then and Now; Labor and the Greens Unite to Protest the WTO" - Alan Caruba writes, "The tired Leftists who had to get out and march one last time before the century ended turned off a lot of Americans who watched and did not like what they saw."

"U.S. Death-Climate Link Weakens" - From the Greening Earth Society: "Global warming apocalysts’ most dramatic claim is that greenhouse gas increases will kill people... These are bold claims, particularly since U.S. death rates have been falling and life expectancy rising for some time now. Will a global warming 'apocalypse' reverse this trend? History says no, according to WCR Associate Editor Robert Davis of the University of Virginia and four coauthors, who presented a paper to the International Congress on Biometeorology in Sydney, Australia, Nov. 10."

"Greenpeace says Novartis/AstraZeneca dump GMO arms" - "Greenpeace on Thursday branded the spin-off and merger of the agrochemicals arms of Switzerland's Novartis and Anglo-Swedish drugs group AstraZeneca as a move to jettison their exposure to genetically modified crops," reports Reuters.

"European toy, plastic industries pan toy ban" - "Europe's toy and plastic industries have criticized a European Union decision to ban toys containing a softening chemical the EU fears may harm babies," reports the Associated Press.

"Tampax cleared in toxic shock case" - "The makers of Tampax were cleared by the High Court in London on Thursday of blame in a case in which they were sued by a mother of two who developed Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) after use of the tampon," reports Reuters.

"Greenpeace protests at Cargill France plant" - "Protesters chained themselves to the gates of an animal feed plant in France to demand a halt to imports of genetically modified (GM) foods, environmental group Greenpeace said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

"Ozone layer over Europe dwindling - ESA" - "The ozone layer over Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavia has dwindled to worrying levels nearly as low as those found in the Antarctic, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Thursday," reports Reuters. Click here for The Independent coverage.

"UN says ozone layer to begin healing in few years" - "The United Nations said on Thursday the planet's protective ozone layer would start to heal in the next few years, but non-government organisations slammed the world body for not moving faster," reports Reuters.

"EU makes biotech concessions" - "European trade ministers have criticised the European Commission for making a surprise concession on the issue of biotechnology at the world trade talks in Seattle. The EU has agreed to the creation of a working group on biotechnology within the World Trade Organisation, which environmental groups fear will undermine other, tougher negotiations to regulate biotechnology, including genetically modified foods," reports the BBC. Click here for The Independent coverage.

"Studies offer hope for people who took fen-phen" - "Three new studies offer reassurance to millions of people who took the diet pill combination fen-phen and a similar weight loss drug. The studies suggest that the leaky heart valves some people suffered won't worsen and may actually improve," reports the Associated Press. Click here for Reuters coverage.

"Chernobyl reactor shut down following malfunction" - "The only working reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was shut down when a leak was detected in a water pipe, just six days after the plant was restarted, officials said Thursday," reports the Associted Press.

"Red flags raised about genetically engineered corn" - "In the journal Nature, researchers are raising warnings about genetically engineered corn that makes its own pesticide, giving new perspective to concerns about a development meant to reduce the need for chemical pesticides," reports the Christian Science Monitor.

"Research suggests new way of predicting climate change" - "Researchers have shown links between ocean currents and global temperature changes during the last ice age, a step toward understanding Earth's complicated cycle of warming and cooling," reports the Associated Press.

December 2, 1999

Ben & Jerry's comparison of the day: "Babies face dioxins risk" - "Breast-feeding infants are being exposed to cancer-causing dioxins through their mother's milk at levels up to 144 times higher than recommended daily limits, according to research commissioned by the European Union," reports The Financial Times. What would the EU say about Ben & Jerry's "scoop shops" in France, The Netherlands, and the U.K. that may be dishing out ice cream that contains as much as 80 times the recommended daily limits for dioxin per serving.

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: Consumers Union President advocates "no risk" policy - In a recent speech delivered in Brussels before the Assembly of Consumer Associations in Europe, Consumers Union president Rhoda Karpatkin urges the WTO to allow nations to adopt "no risk" policies.

today's Gore-ing: Al Gore discovered Love Canal? - Once again, Al Gore proves he's a legend in his own mind. Click for Washington Post coverage.

scare of the day: "Extinction point" - "A single genetically modified fish could turn Darwinian evolution upside down and wipe out local populations of the species if released into the wild, biologists warn. They add that other organisms could face the same risk from transgenic relatives," reports The New Scientist.

commentary of the day I: "Merchants of fear; Seattle protestors attack biotechnology " - Ken Smith comments in The Washington Times, " Somewhere out in the world there are 250 million children at risk of going blind because of a vitamin deficiency, a seemingly mundane threat that doesn't get much attention amid more exotic horrors. But it got the attention of scientists at Monsanto. They came up with what they believe is a technological fix for the problem and donated it to areas of the globe where the problem seems most acute. First lady Hillary Clinton, who started the Global Vitamin A partnership to focus the public on the problem, and others are looking forward to a happy ending to the story. But not everyone is so appreciative. If some of the protestors attending the Seattle riots this week had their way, there would have been no technology and no fix."

commentary of the day II: "While the WTO Burns" - The Wall Street Journal comments, "Once established, any labor-environment working groups will be impossible to get rid of. Soon they will be determining everything from minimum wage rates to environmental standards that would preclude all sorts of development -- with big business going along (a la IMF bailouts) to get its niche trade favors."

junk commentary of the day: "Messages for the W.T.O." - The New York Times editorializes that the environment is a legitimate trade consideration. Perhaps to some extent it is. But concern for the environment is not what the WTO protesters are all about -- their goal is to shut down trade. The New York Times should be aware of this since it has been running full-page anti-trade ads from The Turning Point Project which is made up of environmental groups. These adds, particularly Global Monoculture expose the environmentalists' real agenda.

"Supreme Court seems skeptical on tobacco rules" - "The U.S. Supreme Court considered Wednesday whether the Food and Drug Administration can regulate cigarettes but some justices were skeptical that an agency charged with monitoring 'safe and effective' products could bring cancer-causing tobacco products into its domain. 'It just doesn't fit,' said Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. 'It strains credibility to see how these products can be safe,' she added," reports Reuters. Click for New York Times and Washington Post coverage.

"EPA Tries to Clear the Air 9 Metropolitan Areas Pushed to File Tougher Smog Reduction Plans" - "Pressed by a lawsuit by environmentalists, the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday prodded some of the nation's most heavily polluted metropolitan areas, including Washington and Baltimore, to submit tougher and more complete plans to reduce urban smog," reports The Washington Post.

"Pylons 'double leukaemia risk'" - "The chances of a child developing leukaemia are doubled by living under an electricity power line, a scientist claimed yesterday, shortly before findings of the world's biggest investigation of the issue, which is expected to conclude there is no such link, are published," reports The Guardian.

"EU approves ban on some softened PVC baby toys" - "European Union governments unanimously approved an emergency ban on Wednesday on some baby toys made from PVC containing six chemicals called phthalates, the European Commission said," reports Reuters.

"EU says hopeful France, Germany to allow UK beef" - "The European Commission said on Wednesday that France and Germany had still not written to say when they planned to lift their bans on British beef, but said it was confident a diplomatic solution was close," reports Reuters.

"EU court upholds ban on animal growth promoters" - "A European Union court decided on Wednesday to maintain a ban on the use of beta-agonists, which when given to animals increase meat to fat ratios," reports Reuters.

"Stopping smoking 'may not prevent cancer'" - "A cancer-causing mutation is only found in smokers, and giving up may not be enough to stop the disease developing, according to researchers," reports the BBC.

"Pesticide rules too weak, report says" - "Weak pesticide regulations are putting children's health at risk and Canadians should demand tougher standards, a report to be released today says," reports The Globe and Mail.

"Blair promises to convince world to buy British beef" - "Tony Blair promised yesterday to launch a worldwide campaign to convince countries that British beef is 'the safest in the world' in response to the BSE crisis," reports The Independent.

"WTO 'seizing control of GM trade'" - "Environmental campaigners say the World Trade Organisation is set to undermine agreements on controlling genetically-modified crops," reports the BBC.

"Council opens GM-detector lab" - "Edinburgh Council has become the first Scottish local authority to open a laboratory dedicated to testing for genetically modified food," reports the BBC.

"Scientists prove acupuncture works" - "Acupuncture does have real health benefits, two separate studies have found," reports the BBC.

"nsecticide from GM corn seeps into soil - study" - "American scientists said on Wednesday they had uncovered what could be either a potential hazard, or benefit, of genetically modified corn," reports Reuters.

December 1, 1999

enviro 'sugar daddy' of the day: W. Alton Jones Foundation's Sustainable World Program: Sustaining the World or Just Extreme Enviros? - The W. Alton Jones Foundation has long been known to be a major "sugar daddy" to extreme environmental groups. The Foundation has almost single-handedly financed the endocrine disrupter scare. Check out the enviro groups (and their projects!) that have received more than $31 million in W. Alton Jones largess since 1994.

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: Consumers Union received $125,000 from Foundation crusading to eliminate pesticides; Grant may violate Consumer Reports' policy - Consumer Reports boasts it's not beholden to commercial interests. But a $125,000 grant from the W. Alton Jones Foundation -- it's okay to be beholden to political interests -- nevertheless appears to violate the magazine's own standard.

'must read' of the day: "Tropical Rain Forest: A Political Ecology of Hegemonic Mythmaking" - Philip Stott's new book "Tropical Rain Forest: A Political Ecology of Hegemonic Mythmaking" is now available at the Junkscience.com store. Stott argues that our conception of the 'Tropical Rain Forest' is the result of a century of colonial myth making, first by imperialists, then by environmentalists." The Junkscience.com price is the lowest anywhere -- $12.00 (plus postage and handling).

celebrity of the day: Junkscience.com personality goes for her 15 minutes of fame - "Ilena", an active participant in the Junkscience.com discussion forum Trash Talk, is suing a breast implant manufacturer and AOL for $10 million. However it's not implants she's suing about; she claims the manufacturer harassed and defamed her and AOL did nothing to stop it. A word to the wise: be careful what you say about or to Ilena. You may be sued for defintion defamation of character.

cha-ching! of the day: "Dow Corning Settlement Approved" - "A federal bankruptcy judge yesterday paved the way for Dow Corning Corp. to pay out $3.2 billion to settle claims by some 170,000 women who say they were injured by the company's silicone breast implants." reports The Washington Post.

commentary of the day I: "Senseless in Seattle" - Thomas L. Friedman writes in The New York Times, "Is there anything more ridiculous in the news today then the protests against the World Trade Organization in Seattle? I doubt it."

commentary of the day II: "The Myth Of The Rain Forest Casts Shadow Over Science" - Philip Stott comments, "Along with the giant panda and the whale, forests, especially tropical rain forests, have become one of the spiritual icons of the late 20th century... But the idea that forest should be the normal clothing of the Earth is just nonsense."

global government? "Lessons From Seattle" - The Washington Post editors suggest it may be time for a world environmental organization.

junk of the day I: "U.S. study finds brain damage in Gulf War vets" - "Researchers said on Tuesday they have found brain damage in soldiers believed to be suffering from Gulf War Syndrome as a result of chemical exposure during the conflict. Magnetic resonance scans of 22 veterans found reduced levels of a brain chemical called NAA, suggesting a loss of neurons in the brain stem and basal ganglia, said the report from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas," reports Reuters. But the study is small and, based on the Reuters report, there were no controls. There is no evidence that any chemicals, let alone chemicals used during the Gulf War, caused the reported observations. The researcher, Robert Haley, has been pushing Gulf Lore Syndrome for some time. Click here for New York Times coverage.

junk of the day II: "Mutation May Increase Risk From Secondhand Smoke" - "An examination of tissue from a group of Missouri women who lived with smokers found that those with a common gene mutation (in this case, the absence of a gene) were 2.6 to six times more likely to develop lung cancer, researchers report," reports the Associated Press. The data used in this study come from a 1992 study of lung cancer in 618 nonsmoking Missouri women published in 1992. That study reported no association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. The accompanying editorial for the present study says its results could be due to smoker misclassification (smokers pretending to be nonsmokers) and the study subjects who were genotyped may not have been a representative sample. The authors of the editorial conclude that many questions remain. So why send up the media flare?

presidential politics of the day: "Attacking Bush's Environmental Record" - The New York Times reports on the "30-second commercial created for the Sierra Club, attacking the environmental record of the Republican candidate Gov. George W. Bush of Texas [that] began running Tuesday on television stations in New Hampshire, which holds its presidential primary on Feb. 1."

"Protests Delay WTO Opening: Seattle Police Use Tear Gas; Mayor Declares a Curfew" - "A guerrilla army of anti-trade protesters took control of downtown Seattle today, forcing the delay of the opening of a global meeting of the World Trade Organization." Click here for New York Times coverage.

"Documents Show Officials Disagreed on Altered Food" - "Several Food and Drug Administration officials have disagreed with the agency's conclusion that genetically engineered foods can be regulated in the same way as conventional food varieties, according to internal agency memorandums read Tuesday at a public hearing," reports The New York Times.

"Report highlights passive smoking problems" - "Secret medical tests on Perth casino workers have highlighted the dangers of passive smoking, even at venues with non-smoking areas," reports the AAP.

"UK to end beef-on-bone ban before Christmas" - "Britain said on Tuesday it was scrapping its ban on beef-on-the-bone in a move it hopes will convince France and Germany to lift their embargos on imports of British beef," reports Reuters.

"Yesterday's Precocious Puberty Is Norm Today" - Jane Brody reports in The New York Times, " In a new review of existing data, in the Oct. 4 issue of the journal Pediatrics, Dr. Paul B. Kaplowitz, Dr. Sharon E. Oberfield and members of the Lawson Wilkins Pediatric Endocrine Society, concluded that 'the onset of breast development between 7 and 8 years of age in white girls and between 6 and 8 years in African-American girls may be part of the normal broad variation in the timing of puberty and not, in most cases, a pathological state.'" The endocrine disrupter crowd has been pushing the idea that chemicals are causing earlier onset of puberty.

"Genetic engineering creates supersalmon - and controversy" - "When the first genetically modified animal fillet arrives at the neighborhood supermarket, chances are it will be neither beef nor chicken. It will be salmon," reports The Seattle Times.

"Tighten bio-food rules, consumers tell U.S. FDA" - "U.S. regulators need to step up scrutiny of bioengineered foods and require labels on them to avoid the kind of public backlash that occurred in Europe, the U.S.bFood and Drug Administration was told on Tuesday," reports Reuters. Click here for Washington Post coverage.

"Cargill eyeing non-GM soy for European customers" - " U.S. commodities giant Cargill said on Tuesday it is studying whether to adopt a system that would segregate genetically modified (GM) soybeans from non-GM organisms for the purpose of supplying European consumers," reports Reuters.

"1.3 million UK smokers to quit at year-end-experts" - "Up to 1.3 million smokers in Britain will be trying to quit for the millennium, health experts said on Wednesday," reports Reuters.

"McCain drops genetically engineered hot potato" - "McCain Foods Ltd. says it will no longer process genetically engineered potatoes. The company says that although there is no evidence the potatoes are harmful, it fears a consumer backlash," reports The National Post (Nov. 29).