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archives - january 2000

January 31, 2000

SHARK of the day: "Powerful attorney hints he will pursue mobile health issue" - "Peter Angelos, the powerful Baltimore lawyer who has successfully litigated against the tobacco industry, asbestos manufacturers and others in personal injury cases, is looking into the mobile phone health issue. 'We have some people we represent and we're looking at that,' Angelos told RCR last week. Angelos confirmed his law firm is looking into whether mobile phone technology poses an occupational hazard to wireless workers. 'We're taking a look into the matter,' said Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and a heavyweight Democratic donor... John Pica, an associate of Angelos, said the firm already is involved in a class-action lawsuit in Anne Arundel County Circuit court in Maryland in which two National Security Agency employees allege that the electromagnetic field from an audio tape erasing machine caused their brain tumors," reports RCR.

COMMENTARY of the day I: "Fear and ignorance on biotech" - The Chicago Tribune editorializes, "It would be a travesty if the U.S. allows fear and ignorance to crowd out crucial public education about biotechnology's potential."

COMMENTARY of the day II: "Still hate SUVs?" - Ken Smith writes in The Washington Times (Jan. 29), "Already the vehicles have suffered a blizzard of complaints. At best, critics dismiss them as needless luxuries (meaning they are comfortable). At worst, they regard SUVs as threats to human life and the Earth's environment. In a column last May, Geneva Overholser of The Washington Post referred to them as 'inexplicably popular extravagances' and 'nonsensical, gas-guzzling behemoths.' 'I feel like a lunatic about SUVs,' she wrote, 'and I hereby invite you to join me in raving.' One hopes that the Chevy Metro and other micro-cars she doubtless favors can get her through the snow drifts the next time she needs to get to the hospital."


  • "No reliable test for GM-free food" - "Science must play a leading role in restoring public confidence on food safety, says a new report issued by the UK Government Chemist Dr Richard Worswick. And on the controversial subject of genetically-modified (GM) food, hesays that it is impossible to prove that any processed food is free of GM material," reports the BBC.

  • "GM deal finds favour all round" - "There has been a broad international welcome to an agreement by a United Nations conference on rules governing the trade in genetically-modified food products," reports the BBC.

  • "Global deal agreed on GM food" - "After intense negotiations, a global agreement has been reached on safety rules for genetically modified products that allows countries to bar those seen as a threat," reports The Times. Summary of Protocol

  • "Anti-GM farmers start tour" - "American farmers opposed to genetically modified crops will begin a tour of Britain this week to try to persuade growers and politicians that the new technology poses a threat to family farms," reports the The Daily Telegraph.

  • "Cornucopia of Biotech Food Awaits Labeling" - "The international trade agreement reached this weekend to require labeling of genetically modified agricultural commodities is a boost to activists who are calling for an even more extensive scheme to slap labels on all food products that contain any trace of a biotech engineered ingredient. Yet, carried to that extreme, few foods on U.S. supermarket shelves would escape labeling," reports the Los Angeles Times.

  • "Farmers wonder about price of labeling genetically modified foods" - "Farmers like Antonio Wunsch know that consumers are worried about eating genetically modified foods. What he doesn't know is whether they are ready to pay for proof that they are eating foods with traditional ingredients," reports Agence France-Presse.

  • "Green groups applaud intl bio-safety trade pact" - "Environmental groups on Saturday applauded an agreement reached by international regulators in Montreal on regulating trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in food," reports Reuters.

  • "Greens and free-traders cheer GM crop deal" - "To the surprise even of many negotiatiors, more than 130 countries at the weekend agreed an international protocol regulating trade in genetically modified seeds and crops, the first treaty concluded under the 1992 United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity," reports The Financial Times.

  • "EU welcomes international bio-safety trade pact" - "The European Union said on Saturday that it welcomed an agreement reached by international regulators in Montreal on regulating trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in food," reports Reuters.

  • "France welcomes U.N. bio-safety trade pact" - "French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet applauded on Saturday an agreement reached by international negotiators in Montreal on regulating trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in food," reports Reuters.

  • "Another controversy on genetically modified crops" - "Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. said it would not turn away genetically modified grains, four months after warning its grain suppliers to segregate the crops," reports The Times of India (Jan. 30).

  • "Govt compiles manual on non-GM foods" - "The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has compiled a manual concerning the distribution of soybeans and corn that have not been genetically modified in addition to a new labeling system for food using genetically modified produce due to take effect in fiscal 2001, ministry sources said Saturday, "reports The Daily Yomiuri.

  • "Watchdog calls for freeze on genetic trade" - "Australia's genetic watchdog yesterday urged the Federal Government to freeze all exports and imports of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) in response to a new international agreement on them," reports The Age.
  • "Europe ponders total US meat ban" - "The European Union is poised to begin a new and potentially damaging trade war with the United States. The dispute concerns the safety of US meat, and the belief in Europe that the Americans are unable to guarantee the purity of the meat they export," reports the BBC.

    "Heat wipes out giant Antarctic ice shelf - "Nearly 300 square kilometres of a large ice shelf in Antarctica have disintegrated since October, caused by steadily warmer temperatures," reports The Independent.

    "NASA staff joining North Pole ozone study" - "Thirteen scientists and technicians from the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are participating in what organizers call the most comprehensive study of ozone losses over the North Pole," reports the AP.

    "Environmentalism increasingly intermingled with religion" - "Over the past decade, religion and environmentalism have quietly discovered each other. This planet of ours may never be the same," reports Scripps Howard News Service.

    "Pesticide wastes threaten health in Mali" - "Some 200 tons of discarded pesticide wastes have contaminated soil, water and wildlife in parts of northern Mali, a government study has shown. This waste poses a serious health threat, the study indicated," reports Agence France-Presse.

    "France reports fourth mad cow case this month" - "Another case of mad cow disease (BSE) has been discovered in France, bringing to four the number of cattle found suffering with the deadly brain-wasting disorder since January 1, the government said on Monday," reports Reuters.

    January 30, 2000

    "U.S. Accepts Trade Agreement for Altered Food" - "The United States today accepted under pressure a new international trade agreement that could speed the labeling of genetically engineered foods on the world market, a move that puts new pressure on U.S. farmers to separate the increasingly controversial foods from the overall supply." reports The Washington Post. Other coverage: New York Times | BBC | Associated Press | Reuters | Australian Broadcasting Corp | Canadian Press | The Independent

    COMMENTARY of the day I: "Protocol for a diminished future" - Terry Corcoran comments in The Financial Post, "As the sun set over Montreal last night, delegates and ministers from more than 130 nations at the Biosafety Protocol negotiations were busy hammering nails into the coffin of the biotech food industry. It may not be totally dead, but there's little doubt that any international agreement to regulate trade in genetically engineered crops and food products will severely curtail the great promise of increased production, safety and quality of the world's food supply."

    COMMENTARY of the day II: "Misguided Truck Ratings" - The Detroit News comments, "Federal regulators are preparing new procedures to rate the rollover risk of light trucks and sport-utility vehicles. Consumers presumably will apply the data to purchase decisions, thereby improving public safety. But an anti-truck mentality has so skewed the process that drivers simply cannot trust the results."

    "Bradley's Doctors Say He Is in Excellent Shape" - "In their first comprehensive interviews on the topic, Bill Bradley and his three cardiologists said the former senator was in excellent physical condition and his bouts of irregular heartbeat were not a serious hazard to his health, or to his ability to serve as president, despite their recent increased frequency," reports The New York Times. But what about Al Gore's ticking time-bomb?

    "The heat is on" - From The News Unlimited: "Daffodils that bloom before Christmas, lawns that grow all year round, and the demise of white winters: it's not hard to spot the impact of global warming."

    January 29, 2000

    BEN & JERRY'S MOMENT of the day: "Rally against dioxin emissions planned at Dow, Shintech units" - "Environmentalists plan to stage a rally Friday at the Dow Chemical Co. plant and the Shintech Inc. polyvinyl chloride plant under construction near Plaquemine," reports The Advocate (Jan. 27).

    If Lois Gibbs wants to have a rally about the dreaded dioxin in Louisiana, how about at the Ben & Jerry's at Jackson Square in New Orleans? I'll bet human exposure to dioxin is much greater at that Ben & Jerry's than at the Dow and Shintech plants.

    'MUST READ' of the day: "Trial Lawyers On Trial: Lawsuit Fever Cheats Consumers, Taints Democratic Process" - From the January 2000 issue of Reader's Digest.

    "Dental sealants pose no risk from leaking estrogen" - "Dental sealants do not appear to leech dangerous amounts of an estrogen-like compound, results of a recent study suggest," reports Reuters.


  • "Gene modification talks wrap up in Montreal" - "In the final hours of international talks Friday on trade in genetically modified food and other products, negotiators found themselves knocking heads over the same issues that doomed an agreement nearly a year ago," reports the Associated Press.

  • "Frito-Lay Doesn't Want Bioengineered Corn" - "Snack food maker Frito-Lay Inc. has asked its hundreds of contract farmers to grow corn that has not been genetically modified in case U.S. consumers shun bioengineered products," reports The Los Angeles Times (Jan. 28).

  • "Canada accused of creating problems at bio-safety conference" - "Canada angered delegates at a UN conference on genetically modified foods Thursday when it demanded changes in several areas other countries say have already been dealt with," reports the CBC.

  • "China, India Lead Asia Race on GM Crops" - "The world's two most populous countries, China and India, are racing to develop genetically modified crops to feed their growing populations, an official of Monsanto Co said," reports Reuters.
  • HYPOCRISY of the day: "Feds promote smoking" - The Boston Herald comments, "No one ever accused the Clinton administration of consistency. But it has reached a new low by providing money to build stores that sell discount cigarettes while claiming that reducing teen smoking is a priority and seeking vast sums from tobacco companies in court."

    JUNK COMMENTARY of the day: "Coal ash rules" - The Indianapolis Star-News -- usually wise to enviro shenanigans -- urges the precautionary principle in the face of fearmongering about coal ash residue in drinking water.

    "Heart woe dogs battling Bradley" - "Democrat Bill Bradley yesterday was forced to make another belated admission of an irregular heartbeat flareup," reports The Boston Herald. But what about Al Gore's ticking time-bomb?

    "EU to unveil stance on food safety and trade" - "The European Commission is expected next week to unveil its long-awaited policy paper on how to handle food safety issues in trade disputes affected by conflicting or insufficient scientific evidence," reports Reuters.

    "U.S. Acknowledges Radiation Caused Cancers in Workers" - "After decades of denials, the government is conceding that since the dawn of the atomic age, workers making nuclear weapons have been exposed to radiation and chemicals that have produced cancer and early death," reports The New York Times.

    "EU acts against Germany, Britain over environment" - "The European Commission took legal action on Friday against several European Union member countries for failing to adopt legislation aimed at protecting the environment," reports Reuters.

    "Mystery cow illness in Belgium affects third farm" - "The Belgian Agriculture Ministry said on Friday that a mysterious illness which had caused the death of 10 cows at two farms had affected a third farm. A ministry spokeswoman said eight cows had died at the third farm, which was supplied with sugar beet pulp feed by a firm that had also supplied the other two affected farms," reports Reuters.

    "OSHA Extends Comment Period on Ergonomics" - "The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it has extended the comment period on its controversial ergonomics standard which would require 'jobs to be fitted to the workers,' a standard which would take businesses many years and billions of dollars to accomplish." Sen. Bond's media release

    January 28, 2000

    SHORT-LIVED MEMORY of the day: Science plugs Tulane web site on environmental estrogens - Science plugs a Tulane University web site on environmental estrogens in its NetWatch section this week. The site is run by John McLachlan who was forced to retract a controversial 1996 study published in (and trumpeted by) Science. I guess Science has already forgotten about this most embarrassing moment. E-mail your comments to Science at science_letters@aaas.org.

    EPA GOOF of the day: EPA error risked halving India's rice harvest - E. S. R. Gopal of the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science catches the EPA with its science down (once again) in the Jan. 13 issue of Nature.


  • "Talks on Biotech Food Turn on a Safety Principle" - "Around midnight last night, Juan Mayr, who is chairman of the global biosafety talks here, told delegates after a long day of negotiations to go back to their hotel rooms and 'dream about the precautionary approach.' It was a reference to one of the most important issues remaining in the effort to formulate the world's first treaty regulating trade in genetically modified products: Must a nation have scientific proof before it can ban a genetically engineered crop or animal? Or can it act even in the absence of scientific certainty?'," reports The New York Times.

  • "Some Differences Narrowed in Bio-Safety Talks" - "Negotiators working on an international agreement to regulate trade in genetically modified organisms have narrowed some differences, but much work remains to be done to finish by Friday, environmental diplomats said early on Thursday morning." reports Reuters.

  • "The Benefits And Politics Of Biotechnology" - Comments from Sen. "Kit" Bond in the Congressional Record.

  • "Do genetically modified foods affect human health?" - "The controversy over genetically modified (GM) foods was a deciding factor in the proposal for a European Food Agency. In the UK, a report on the health implications of GM foods (www.doh.gov.uk/gmfood.htm ) con cludes that 'there is no current evidence that GM technologies used to produce food are inherently harmful'; this is true, but one cannot conclude that all applications will be harmless," according to a letter in The Lancet.

  • "Latin America divided on trade rules for genetically altered products" - "Latin America would like to speak with one voice on the international stage, but at UN-sponsored talks here on global trade rules for genetically altered products, the region is sharply split. The differences are largely between the European Union, the developing world and the world's six major grain exporters. That alignment puts Argentina, Chile and Uruguay on the same team as Australia, Canada and the United States -- together known here as the Miami Group," reports Reuters.

  • "EU says time is ripe for biosafety agreement" - "After five years of negotiations, countries need to finish work this week on a United Nations biosafety pact to regulate trade in genetically modified seeds and commodities, European Union environmental ministers said on Thursday," reports Reuters. BBC coverage
  • "American Lung Association Requests Supreme Court Review of Air Quality Standards Cases" - "The American Lung Association today filed a request for review, known as a petition for certiorari, with the U.S. Supreme Court on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards cases (American Trucking Association v. U.S. EPA)."

    A fat tax? - Extending value added tax (VAT) to foodstuffs which are high in saturated fat, could save between 900 and 1000 premature deaths a year in the UK, suggests Dr Tom Marshall from the University of Birmingham in this week's BMJ.

    "A cold war in the sky " - The Independent blathers about ozone depletion. Click for sanity.

    "No association found between prenatal ultrasound and childhood leukaemia" - "We could not detect any association between exposure to ultrasound during pregnancy and lymphatic or myeloid leukaemia, and the results of the study are therefore reassuring. The strengths of the study are its size, the exclusion of children with Down's syndrome, and the use of prospectively assembled exposure data," reports a new study in British Medical Journal.

    "1 in 10 middle-schoolers smokes" - "Smoking among high schoolers dropped in 1999 for the first time since the government began keeping track at the start of the decade. But nearly one in 10 children are already smoking cigarettes in middle school," reports MSNBC. AP coverage | American Legacy Foundation media release | CTFK media release

    "Satellite instruments reveal evidence the atmosphere has gotten warmer and wetter over the past decade " - "Frank Wentz, a physicist at Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, Calif., has confirmed that the atmosphere has gotten warmer and wetter over the last decade. The results of his research will appear in the January 27, issue of Nature."

    "Scientists find that of tons of carbon dioxide get stored in the subtropical oceans" - "The cold Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica soaks up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere like a sponge, but scientists have discovered that the greenhouse gas doesn't stay there. Now researchers have found that the carbon dioxide actually ends up deep in the subtropical ocean and will reporttheir findings in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science."

    "American Home, plaintiffs settle 'fen-phen' suit" - "American Home Products Corp. and the family of a woman who died after taking the popular diet drug cocktail 'fen-phen' have settled a civil lawsuit, a lawyer for AHP said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

    "EU says Germany delays moves to lift UK beef ban" - "Germany has told the European Commission it will not consider lifting its ban on British beef until March 17, EU officials said," reports Reuters.

    "France reports third mad cow case this month" - "France on Thursday reported its third case of mad cow disease (BSE) this month as the country prepared to begin testing its own cattle herds for the deadly brain-wasting disorder," reports Reuters.

    "'Grim future' for Europe's wildlife" - "Many European species are under threat across the continent, says UK conservation group the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)," reports the BBC.

    "BAT wants UK legal age to buy tobacco raised" - "British American Tobacco Plc on Thursday suggested raising the legal age for buying tobacco in Britain to 18 from the present 16 as part of its proposals to resolve conflict with the UK government and health lobbies," reports Reuters.

    "Emissions trading plan agreed for 12 U.S. states" - "In an effort to reduce the dangerous effects of smog in northeastern states, a dozen states have agreed to let utilities and other industrial plants trade emissions credits, an advisory panel said on Thursday. 'This is just another bold step in our efforts to provide cleaner air for our citizens and protect our natural resources,' said John Cahill, chairman of the Ozone Transport Commission," reports Reuters.

    January 27, 2000

    CARTOON of the day: By Henry Payne

    CONTEST of the day: "Name that nightmare" - From EVAG: "In an effort to foment public hysteria, Greenpeace have created this rather interesting- looking character... Consequently, we have opened the 'Name That Nightmare' line for reader suggestions on a name for the `peas' nightmare creation."

    REPORT of the day I: "BSE: A Disaster of Biblical Proportions or A Disaster of British Science?" - From the Institute of Economic Affairs, everything you could possibly want to know about "mad cow" disease.

    REPORT of the day II: "Genetically Modified Nonsense" - From the Institute on Economic Affairs, Tom De Gregori writes on genetically modified organisms.

    COMMENTARY of the day I: "From Shakespeare to Defoe: Malaria in England in the Little Ice Age" - CDC's Paul Reiter writes in Emerging Infectious Diseases, "The history of the disease in England underscores the role of factors other than temperature in malaria transmission."

    COMMENTARY of the day II: "Sensational science or science fiction?" - Marc Le Mageur comments in The National Post (Jan. 26), "Canada has a food safety process that is widely recognized as one of the best in the world. In fact, we have recently announced the establishment of an independent expert panel to help assess our future scientific requirements to meet the growing complexity of food biotechnology so that Canada's food regulatory system remains at the leading edge of these developments."

    'LETTER TO THE EDITOR' of the day: "Don't listen to the doomsayers" - Philip Stott scores in today's San Jose Mercury News with a letter about this Paul Ehrlich-authored commentary.

    "An open letter to food sellers" - In The National Post (Jan. 26): "The following open letter was issued to Canadian food companies and grocery retailers at the international conference in Montreal on trade in biotech foods. It is signed by Gord Surgeoner, president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, Wilf Keller, leader of the Brassica Biotechnology Group and head of the transgenic centre at the Plant Biotechnology Institute, NRC, Saskatoon, and 150 other scientists."

    Today's GORE-ING: "Gore: Dad’s Farm Taught Me How to Respect Environment..." - From the Republican National Committee: "An October 29th, 1992, Washington Times’ report exposed a large waste dump in a ditch on the Gore property. The dump - located dangerously close to the Caney Fork River - was full of pesticide and oil containers, aerosol cans, tires and piles of unrecycled cans and bottles. Among the items clearly visible: empty containers of a tobacco growth retardant, "Royal MH-30." According to previous statements from the Gore campaign, Gore’s father stopped farming tobacco in 1980, 12 years before pictures of the dump were taken. A spokesman for MH-30’s manufacturer, Uniroyal, said disposal of the pesticide in an open dump "would be inappropriate," and a federal E-P-A official confirmed state fines for improper dumping of a pesticide at the time began at $500 per incident, with federal penalties as high as $25,000."

    "Optimism at Global Trade Talks on Genetically Modified Crops" - "Negotiators trying to forge the first global treaty regulating trade in genetically modified products have tentatively agreed to eliminate a proposal requiring exporters of genetically modified crops like corn and soybeans to obtain permission in advance from each importing country. Under the preliminarily agreement, information about such crops would be posted to a central clearinghouse. It would be up to each country to decide whether to ban the imports," reports The New York Times.

    "Employers Won't Be Held Liable for Home Offices" - OSHA will regulate home manufacturing, reports The Washington Post.

    "The seas rise, the glaciers disappear" - Philip Stott's "Ecohype of the Moment."

    "Study Finds Strong Evidence Jefferson Fathered Slave Son" - "Daniel P. Jordan, the [Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation's] president, said at a news conference, 'Although paternity cannot be established with absolute certainty, our evaluation of the best evidence available suggests the strong likelihood that Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings had a relationship over time that led to the birth of one, and perhaps all, of the known children of Sally Hemings.'"

    "Farmers label halon gas sale 'bizarre'" - "Queensland's biggest producer group, Agforce, says it is "bizarre" that the Federal Government plans to sell amost 250 tonnes of the ozone-depleting halon gas to the United States Defence Department. Under an international agreement, halon gas is being phased out of use, except for essential purposes," reports the ABC.

    EMBARRASSMENT of the day: "New Study Conducted at Yale University Concludes that 'Bad Hair Days' Affect More Than Your Appearance" - I'm not quite sure who should be more embarassed -- Procter & Gamble or Yale University. AP coverage

    PIG FIGHT AT THE TOBACCO TROUGH I: "Smokers Seek a Share" - "Victims of smoking, who received nothing under the 1998 $206 billion national tobacco settlement, have filed class action suits in six states," reports The Washington Post.

    PIG FIGHT AT THE TOBACCO TROUGH II: "Pennsylvania Gov. Ridge Proposes to Invest PA's Tobacco Funds to Make Pennsylvanians Healthier" - "Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge today proposed investing Pennsylvania's multi-billion-dollar share of the national tobacco settlement in a broad range of initiatives to improve Pennsylvanians' health." Responses: Coalition for a Tobacco Free Pennsylvania | Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania

    "Famers Declare Support For Biotechnology" - "Farmers from the United States and Canada today urged delegates attending the Biosafety Protocol to "look beyond the fearmongering" and study the facts about the biotechnology and its significant positive impact on farming and the environment."

    "Obesity is target of 10-year government campaign" - "Blasting schools for cutting back physical education programs and warning that Americans are far too fat, the federal government Tuesday opened a 10-year campaign to improve the nation's health," reports Scripps McClatchy Western News Service.

    "Pregnancy alcohol limits 'too high'" - "Even pregnant women who stick rigidly to government advice on how much is safe to drink may be damaging their unborn children, research has found," reports the BBC. The Indepedent coverage

    "China triples its genetically modified crops" - "China has more than tripled its plantings of genetically modified crops, making it the fourth-largest planter of bioengineered crops, an industry watchdog group said today," reports The Age.

    "Too many people and worse to come" - "The world's rate of population growth is unsustainable, and its present population of six billion people is about 30 per cent too high, says a New Zealand scientist and environmentalist," reports The New Zealand Herald.

    January 26, 2000

    lawsuit/eco-hypocrisy/Ben & Jerry's moment of the day: "Environmentalists sue Tosco over dioxin discharges" - "Two environmental groups have sued the Tosco Corp., alleging that its Avon, Calif., refinery discharges illegal amounts of the dangerous chemical dioxin into San Francisco Bay, a group spokesman said Tuesday. Communities for a Better Environment and San Francisco BayKeeper allege that Tosco violates the U.S. Clean Water Act by 'routinely' discharging some 20 times more dioxin than allowed by a state permit," reports Reuters.

    You've got to love the eco-hypocrisy here. The EPA allows the Tosco refinery to discharge wastewater containing 0.14 trillionths of a gram of dioxin per liter. We measured 80 trillionths of a gram of dioxin in a serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. This level of dioxin was about 200 times greater than the level the EPA says is "safe." More to the point, a serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, according to our test, contains about 570 times more dioxin than a liter of Tosco refinery effluent.

    Ben & Jerry's says, "The only safe level of exposure to dioxin is no exposure at all." Below are eight Ben & Jerry's "scoop shops" in San Francisco. Why don't they get sued? If dioxin is so dangerous, certainly direct human consumption is much worse than a little dioxin in San Francisco Bay? Oh I forgot... being "green" means never having to tell the truth!

    • Candlestick Park
      650 Gilman Ave,
      San Francisco, CA 94124
      Phone: 415-656-1376
    • Castro St.
      451 Castro Street,
      San Francisco, CA 94114
      Phone: 415-252-8181
    • Chestnut St.
      2146 Chestnut Street,
      San Francisco, CA
      94123 Phone: 415-474-8100
    • Fisherman's Wharf
      Pier 41,
      San Francisco, CA
      94133 Phone: 415-249-4674
    • Haight Ashbury
      1480 Haight Street,
      San Francisco, CA
      94117 Phone: 415-249-4685
    • Jefferson St.
      79 Jefferson Street,
      San Francisco, CA 94133
      Phone: 415-249-2662
    • North Beach
      543 Columbus Avenue,
      San Francisco, CA 94133
      Phone: 415-249-4684
    • Powell Street
      102 Powell Street,
      San Francisco, CA 94133
      Phone: 415-249-2664

    commentary of the day I: "The curse of global inequality" - Martin Wolf points out in The Financial Times, "Intellectually and morally, the arguments of those who propose the notions of zero growth or local self-sufficiency are devoid of merit. Yet it is not these arguments themselves that matter, but the passion that informs them."

    commentary of the day II: "I marched against GMOs" - Terry Corcoran comments in The National Post on some antics of the anti-GMO mob.

    commentary of the day III: "Stop Environmental Terrorism" - The Detroit News comments, "Protecting the environment is a wise and useful policy -- until it is carried to violent extremes."

    commentary of the day IV: "Go Slow on Genetic Pact " - The Los Angeles Times editorializes that the biosafety protocol "... should not serve as a pretext for circumventing the World Trade Organization rules on trade."

    biotech roundup:

    "Belgium alerts vets over mystery cow disease" - "Belgium said on Tuesday it would warn veterinarians nationwide to watch out for symptoms of illness in cow herds after a mystery disease killed 10 cows at two dairy farms," reports Reuters.

    "EU trade commissioner urges new trade talks" - "Pascal Lamy, the European Union's trade commissioner, announced on Tuesday bold plans for a new round of world trade talks before the end of this year. Mr Lamy acknowledged he was pursuing a high-risk strategy after last month's failure of the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Seattle, but he told the European Parliament's environment committee the issue was too important to wait until after this year's US presidential elections," reports The Financial Times.

    "Tap water may cause illness in elderly" - "Even where drinking water standards meet state and federal standards, the elderly may be at increased risk for waterborne gastrointestinal infections from tap water, results of a recent study suggest," reports Reuters Health.

    "American Cancer Society Airs New Television Spot Highlighting Cancer As a Presidential Campaign Issue" - "This month, ACS unveiled its first-of-its kind grassroots campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire to educate and inform presidential candidates in the 2000 election about the importance Americans place on cancer as a presidential issue."

    "Childhood poverty link to dementia" - "Children from large families run a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in later life, say researchers," reports the BBC.

    "HRT threat to breast screening" - "Screening is more likely to miss breast cancer if the woman has been taking hormone replacement therapy, according to a study," reports the BBC. JAMA study

    "Roper Starch Survey Shows Majority of Americans Opposed to Tobacco Tax Increase" - "A recent public opinion survey conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide shows that a majority of Americans do not support increasing taxes on cigarettes, even if the revenues would be used for Medicare coverage of prescription drugs. In the national survey conducted last month 53 percent of those polled said they are opposed to increasing tobacco taxes."

    "Scientific harassment by pharmaceutical companies: time to stop" - David Hailey comments in The Canadian Medical Association Journal, "The timely and accurate synthesis of clinical trial results and of other information on new drugs and new devices is essential to informed decision-making on the appropriate use of these products. However, 2 alarming trends are already impeding such assessments. First, the results of applied medical research -- which, increasingly, is being funded by the private sector -- are being released only selectively to the public. Findings that support manufacturers' claims are widely disseminated, while others may be withheld. Second, some companies appear to be ready to stifle scientific discussion by turning to the courts, seeking injunctions to prevent the release of reports or threatening researchers with legal action." Doesn't this same reasoning apply to the politically correct nonsense funded by the government?

    January 25, 2000

    today's weather: The New York Times forecast: No blizzard today, but warmer next century? - As the Washington, D.C. area is being socked with a blizzard that may leave as much as 12 inches of snow on the ground, I had to chuckle upon reading today's New York Times forecast for Washington, D.C. and Baltimore: "Morning clouds yielding to sun..." To be fair, the blizzard wasn't forecast until about 12 hours ago -- too late for the Times' print editions. I guess that's why The New York Times has hopped on the global warming bandwagon so early -- it doesn't want to be wrong about that 2-degree temperature rise 100 years from now. But if the experts can't tell us about tomorrow's weather, how can they forecast the next century's? You may want to ask that question of William K. Stevens (stevens@nytimes.com), The New York Times' resident-hysteric on global warming.

    endorsement of the day: "What is junk science?" - The Detroit News picks Junkscience.com as its "Hot Site of the Day" for Jan. 23 -- a nice birthday gift for the Junkman.

    commentary of the day I: "FDA label rule lacks scientific basis" - My op-ed in today's Chicago Sun-Times. Find out why the FDA wants to scare you about margarine and crackers.

    commentary of the day II: "The Presidency Can Be a Killer" - Robert E. Gilbert commentsd in The Wall Street Journal, "As voters prepare to elect a new president, candidates' health problems should give them pause. The presidency has been a debilitating, even deadly, job." So is Al Gore a candidate for President or a candiate for a heart attack?

    biotech roundup:

    • "Protests at GM food talks " - "Environmental groups have been staging protests outside negotiations over a proposed treaty to regulate the international trade in genetically-modified (GM) food," reports the BBC.

    • "U.N. Biosafety Protocol talks begin in Montreal" - "Fresh talks aimed at getting an international deal on trade and safety for genetically modified crops and food products began on Monday as green groups staged loud but peaceful protests outside the meeting hall," reports Reuters.

    • News from Montreal - Bits and Bites on Biosafety - Special bulletins from International Consumers for Civil Society and its NGOs in Montreal.

    • "U.S. opposes effort to expand biosafety pact scope" - "The United States opposed efforts by developing countries to expand the scope of a proposed agreement to regulate trade in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a U.S. official said on Monday," reports Reuters.

    • "Licensing procedure for genetically modified organisms turns out to be fallible" - "The procedure used by Dutch, European and global authorities when granting licenses for genetically modified organisms is a flawed one. Although applicants are required to provide information about the dangers of the newly developed biotechnology to man and the environment, they themselves decide to some extent what information is relevant. This has been demonstrated by an analysis carried out by philosophers at Leiden University as part of a project funded by the NWO¹s Council for the Humanities. The applicant ­who is naturally an interested party­ is therefore in a position to influence the outcome of the approval procedure by deciding that certain information is irrelevant to the risk assessment."

    • "Canola growers watching the biotechnology debate closely; many won't decide what to plant until spring" - "Although farmers know the advantages of biotechnology, the European public outcry has made them wary. As the debate moves to Montreal this week, where 130 countries will try to devise biosafety rules, canola growers are watching closely. Some won't decide what to plant until spring, while others have already made up their minds," reports The Canadian Press.

    • "S.Africa Sees Genetically-Modified Food Policy Soon" - "The South African government said on Monday it was pushing ahead with plans to introduce regulations this year for the labeling of genetically modified food," reports Reuters.

    • "Professor defends genetic research; Vandals torched office of MSU researcher working to boost output of nutritious food" - "A visiting Michigan State University associate professor whose office was the target of a fire set by radical environmentalists on New Year's Eve said Sunday that she heads a project aimed at increasing food production and making food more nutritious," reports The Detroit News.

    "U.S. Health Officials Reject Plan to Report Medical Mistakes" - "Federal health officials say they are unwilling at this time to embrace the National Academy of Sciences' recent call for a new federal law requiring hospitals to report all mistakes that cause serious injury or death to patients," reports The New York Times.

    "Study: commercial disinfectants effective, natural products less so" - "Tests of a variety of commercial household disinfectants show the products to be highly effective in killing disease-causing organisms, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers. Natural products, which might be more environmentally friendly, however, were less successful in killing the hazardous organisms and should not be relied on for that purpose."

    "Health scare over milk" - "A bug found in pasteurised milk causes Crohn's disease, a leading medical researcher said today," reports The Independent.

    "Heartburn Drug Linked To 70 Deaths; FDA Warning Outlines Dangers of Propulsid" - "The popular prescription nighttime heartburn drug Propulsid has been linked to 70 deaths and more than 270 significant negative reactions since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration warned yesterday... 'This is a serious problem, but in our view a rare problem,' said Florence Houn, the FDA's chief for gastrointestinal drugs. 'Doctors and patients need to understand and learn more about the risks and benefits of the drug.'... Some consumer advocates have criticized the FDA in recent years for approving drugs before they have been thoroughly studied, and for approving drugs with known risks and failing to monitor them carefully enough once they are on the market," reports The Washington Post.

    "Coroners 'concealed' BSE deaths" - "The number of victims of the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy could be higher than official figures suggest because coroners refused full inquests on some of them, it was claimed yesterday," reports The Daily Telegraph.

    "Veterans of Gulf War welcome new DU tests" - "A team of scientists from The Royal Society is to carry out an independent investigation into the dangers of depleted uranium, amid growing evidence that use of the material in shells and missiles is a cause of Gulf War Syndrome and has led to an increase in cancers among those in close contact with the weapons," reports The Independent. BBC coverage

    "UF research suggests widely used models may under predict pollution" - "New research by a University of Florida professor suggests the complex computer models underlying regulations on pollution from cars and other sources in many of the nation's largest cities may significantly underestimate pollution levels."

    "The West is in the grip of an obesity epidemic" - "The West is in the grip of an obesity epidemic, finds a study from the Netherlands in Archives of Disease in Childhood. Similar to the picture seen in the UK over recent years, the numbers of obese children in the Netherlands have almost doubled."

    "West warned on climate refugees" - "The Bangladeshi Environment Minister, Mrs Sajeeda Choudhury, has said that if climate change causes sea levels to rise in line with scientific predictions, her country will have millions of homeless people," reports the BBC.

    "40% of bars ignore law on smoking, study finds" - "Forty percent of California's stand-alone bars are flouting an indoor smoking ban that went into effect two years ago, according to estimates by a health organization," reports the Associated Press.

    "Even Quebec Gets Tough on Smoking" - "Quebecers' tolerance of smoking, and the presence here of three out of four of Canada's largest tobacco companies, translated into the nation's highest smoking rate, 32 percent of the teenage and adult population. Reflecting the enduring cultural divide between Canada's two founding peoples, 36 percent of French Canadian adults smoke, compared with 26 percent of English Canadian adults. But, one month ago, Quebec took its first steps to catch up with the rest of North America, imposing the province's first smoking segregation rules," reports The New York Times.

    "Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Expresses Disappointment in HUD Grants to Support 'Smoke Shops'" - "The Campaign for Tobacco-Free today expressed disappointment in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's decision to award $4.2 million in community development grants to four American Indian tribes to build "smoke shops" that sell discounted cigarettes."

    January 24, 2000

    Al Gore health scare! Al Gore has high risk of heart attack, study indicates -
    A Junkscience.com exclusive:

    Is Al Gore a candidate for President or for a heart attack?

    You may recall that within a few days of rival Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley's disclosure of cardiac arrhythmia -- a generally benign condition -- Gore released his own medical records in hopes of contrasting his supposedly "outstanding" health with that of Bradley.

    But perhaps Gore shouldn't have been so hasty to exploit Bradley's condition.

    A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Jan. 24) says that men with Al Gore's type of male pattern balding (called vertex balding) and high cholesterol have a statistically significant 178 percent increase in risk of coronary heart disease. Gore's combination of risk factors -- male pattern balding and high cholesterol -- was the most dangerous according to this study of 22,071 U.S. male physicians conducted by Harvard researchers and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

    "We found that the association between [male pattern baldness] and [coronary heart disease risk] was even stronger among men with hypertension or high cholesterol," reported the researchers.

    According to medical records, Gore's cholesterol level is 231 (below 200 is "normal") and his LDL cholesterol (so-called "bad cholesterol") level is high at 157 (the target level is 130). Dr. Jonathan Steinberg, chief of cardiology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital and associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical School, said Gore's LDL cholesterol level "needs to go down -- it's high at 157."

    Men with mild vertex male pattern baldness, like Gore, had a statistically significant 46 percent increase in risk of nonfatal heart attack, according to the study.

    The researchers noted their findings "agree with the results from recent large epidemiologic studies... A plausible explanation for an association between baldness and coronary heart disease may be elevated androgen levels. Men with severe baldness seem to have a greater number of androgen receptors in the scalp and higher levels of both serum total and free testosterone... High levels of androgens may directly contribute to both atherosclerosis and thrombosis, and may adversely influence risk factors such as hypertension and high cholesterol.

    The researchers called early vertex balding a "nonmodifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease." But they said it may serve as a useful clinical marker to identify men at increased risk who may benefit from "primary prevention efforts" directed at other known modifiable risk factors for coronary heart disease.

    Speaking of "primary" and "prevention," voters may want to cast their ballots in the upcoming presidential election primaries so as to prevent a heart attack in the Oval Office.

    Other study coverage: Associated Press | Reuters

    commentary of the day: Changes in the Pacific Ocean: NASA joins the Multi-Decadal Club! - Oregon State climatologist George Taylor comments on last week's announcement by NASA that changes in the Pacific Ocean will be affecting winter weather for decades to come.

    report of the day: News from Montreal - Bits and Bites on Biosafety - Special bulletins from International Consumers for Civil Society and its NGOs in Montreal.

    "Talks to Open on Divisive Issue of Gene-Altered Foods" - "Delegates from 140 countries gather in Montreal this week to try to write a rule book to govern the world's ever-expanding trade in genetically altered organisms--grains, bacteria, farm animals--with life codes that have been rearranged in hopes of improving on nature's work," reports The Washington Post. New York Times coverage.

    "In Japan, It's Back to Nature" - "Japan, the world's largest food importer, is in the midst of a struggle over how to treat genetically modified foods. The government has gone along with consumer demands for labels on such products starting next year. This has prompted a rush toward non-genetically modified tofu, beer and soy sauce in local markets, and a jump in import orders for non-genetically modified soybeans and corn from the United States, the source of most of Japan's food," reports The Washington Post.

    junk commentary of the day I: "Candidates or ostriches?" - Paul and Anne Ehrlich write in The San Jose Mercury News, "Environmental problems cast a shadow over the human future, yet they are largely being ignored in the current presidential campaign." But have the Ehrlichs ever been right about anything? Click for Mike Fumento's "Doomsayer Paul Ehrlich Strikes Out Again." Send you comments to the San Jose Mercury News at letters@sjmercury.com.

    junk commentary of the day II: "Decommissisoned But Dangerous? The nuclear industry starts a difficult new chapter." - Arjun Makhijani scares Washington Post readers about radiation. Send your comments to The Washington Post.

    "Engineered crops face barren season" - "As [farmers] across the state buy bags of seed and ready their tractors for spring planting, many are turning away from genetically engineered plants for the first time since the crops stormed the market in 1995. They fear that the crops they sow might be hard to sell if controversy over genetically modified organisms grows over the summer along with their corn and soybeans," reports The Chicago Tribune.

    "France to screen herds for mad cow disease" - "France said on Sunday it would set up a screening programme in the next few weeks to check that cattle ready for slaughter were not infected with mad cow disease," reports Reuters.

    declaration of the day: "Scientists Release Declaration Defending Biotechnology" - "More than 600 scientists from around the world signed a 'Declaration in Support of Agricultural Biotechnology,' that was released today at a conference held to coincide with UN negotiations on a Biosafety Protocol. 'We in the scientific community felt it necessary to counteract the baseless attacks so often being made on biotechnology and genetically modified foods,' said C.S. Prakash, a biology professor at Tuskegee University in the United States, and organizer of the declaration. 'Biotechnology is a potent and valuable tool that can help make foods more productive and nutritious,' he added. 'And, contrary to anti-biotech activists, they can even advance environmental goals such as biodiversity.'"

    "You aren't what you eat" - "Fresh Fields sells the myth of a better world, one overpriced vegetable at a time," reports the Washington City Paper.

    "Ozone layer over northern hemisphere is being destroyed at 'unprecedented rate' " - "Scientists are witnessing an unprecedented destruction of the ozone layer over the northern hemisphere, which could result in public health warnings being issued about the risk of skin cancer. " reports The Independent. More on ozone depletion

    "Network of massive waste incinerators planned for UK" - "Seventy towns and cities from Torquay to Sunderland have been earmarked as sites for a vast array of new municipal waste incinerators needed for England, according to Friends of the Earth," reports The Independent.

    "Gulf war veterans link illness to chemical" - "Veterans seeking to convince the ministry of defence that they are suffering from Gulf war syndrome have produced new evidence that suggests the illness was caused by an injection with the illegal substance squalene," reports The Guardian.

    January 23, 2000

    "Agriculture Secretary Forms Panel To Advise on Crop Biotechnology" - "U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman is creating a 38-member committee to advise him on crop biotechnology policy. Mr. Glickman, who created a stir last year by calling on food companies to voluntarily label products that contain genetically modified ingredients, will unveil today the list of academics, biotechnology executives, farm leaders and anti-biotechnology activists he is naming to the committee. He named Dennis Eckart, an attorney at Baker & Hostetler LLP in Washington and a former Ohio congressman, as chairman of the committee. The committee is slated to hold its first meeting March 29. Among others, Mr. Glickman named to the committee prominent biotechnology critics such as Margaret G. Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Rebecca J. Goldburg of the Environmental Defense Fund. Officials of Monsanto Co., DuPont Co., Cargill Inc. and General Mills Inc. also were named to the committee." reports The Wall Street Journal (Jan. 22).

    "Man seeks compensation from French Army for smoking habit" - "A 70-year-old French man is demanding damages from France's Defence Ministry, blaming the Army for giving him his smoking habit nearly half-a-century ago, " reports the ABC.

    "Scientists launch new assault on Arctic ozone loss" - "Scientists from the United States, Europe and other countries have launched one of the largest projects ever aimed at studying ozone loss in the Arctic atmosphere and developing ways to counteract that problem," reports the AAP.

    scare of the day: "Arctic ozone loss seen increasing cancer in Europe" - "Cold weather this winter is thinning the ozone layer over the Arctic, part of a worsening trend which will expose Europeans to skin cancer and other diseases, top scientists warned on Saturday," reports Reuters. More on ozone depletion

    "The Great Windmill Scam" - From the Science and Environmental Policy Project: "This week, we bring you a European view that should be required reading for the White House and all those zealots of 'renewable energy.' Not all Scandinavians are enamored with wind energy. Here is our edited version of a stinging indictment by Iens Elliott Nyegaard, originally published in the Swedish journal Elbranchen (June 1999) and due for publication in the Danish Engineering Society weekly Ingenioren."

    "Secret deal will bring a flood of GM" - "Leading European Union officials are trying to broker a secret deal which could result in Britain being flooded with imported GM foods," reports The Independent.

    "Why the West must swallow gene foods " - "They're boycotted by British shoppers, and this week an international conference will decide if trade in GM organisms should be controlled. But many scientists believe they are the solution to starvation in the Third World," reports the News Unlimited.

    "Tobacco is 'less risky than dope'" - "For decades, it has been been the retort of cannabis smokers: dope is not as bad for you as cigarettes or alcohol. But after years of ambiguous research, US scientists claim it is worse," reports the News Unlimited. The Boston Herald editorialized about this study last Dec. 18. Below is my unpublished letter to the editor:


    Your editorial "What's Gore Smokin" (Dec. 18) relies on a classic junk science formula -- the "one-study wonder."

    You feature Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang's study supposedly linking long-term marijuana use with head and neck cancer.

    But Zhang's 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. Zhang's 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.

    Ironically, your use of the Zhang study to oppose medicinal marijuana is as unfounded as Al Gore's hitting the panic button about global warming.

    Steven Milloy
    Publisher, Junkscience.com

    January 22, 2000

    'WWBJD?' of the day: "New rules close loophole to polluters" - "The federal government has closed a major loophole that allowed some polluters to avoid releasing information on some of their most dangerous and toxic compounds. Environment Canada will require increased disclosure from industrial polluters of their use of mercury, wood-preserving chemicals, dioxins and furans. Under the new rules, facilities using five kilograms or more of mercury will have to disclose this information. Dioxins and furans are considered so dangerous that all production must be reported," reports The Globe and Mail. WWBJD? (What would Ben & Jerry's do?) We measured dioxin in Ben & Jerry's ice cream that was 200 times what the US EPA says is safe.

    study of the day: "Study finds natural corn crops untainted by genetically engineered plants" - "Researchers hope a study showing very little cross-pollination between genetically engineered and natural corn plants will ease farmers' fears that altered crops could taint conventionally grown crops," reports the Associated Press.

    "Bradley says soda may have caused heart beat" - "'I'd had Gatorade, orange soda and I went to cream soda ... Who knew that cream soda had caffeine in it?' Bradley said. 'Caffeine is one of the things that can set this off. It is possible that that happened. So I have curtailed my cream soda. It's only a hypothesis,' Bradley said," reports Reuters.

    "Much Ado About Milk " - From the American Council on Science and Health: "One can't help but wonder why the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is acting in an apparently irresponsible manner by exaggerating the alleged hazards of milk. Why are they milking a very preliminary diabetes study for more than it's worth and frightening American parents in the process? The Committee is known for its strong support of total vegetarianism and its opposition to the exploitation of animals. Could these philosophical viewpoints have distorted the Committee's evaluation of the scientific evidence?"

    "Your Cell Phone: Health Hazard or Helpful Gadget?" - From CNET: "Depending on who you ask, cell phones are useful tools, handy communication gadgets, potential lifesavers, menacing distractions, or even dangers to our health. We'll take a look at some of the science that supports and refutes those opinions and try to assess the real risks to your health and safety."

    commentary of the day I: "Environmentalists Would Return Us To The Days Of Dickinson" - Philip Stott comments on Bridge News, "American environmentalism is founded on many myths of a utopian past, from those of the frontier and the wilderness to the famous environmentalist text, 'Silent Spring,' written by Rachel Carson in 1962. In contrast, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) of Amherst village in Massachusetts -- arguably America's greatest poet -- presents us with a reality of the past that is full of death and grieving. Today, many of her tearing bouts of pain would have been eased by the very science and development so often decried in the myths."

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

    commentary of the day III: "The science of global warming" - Betsy Hart comments, "... it's awfully hard to avoid the conclusion that many environmental alarmists are really clinging to the global warming scenario because for some reason, they want to give the cold-shoulder to human progress."

    junk science in the making? "US to test antioxidants as prostate-cancer prevention" - "A government-sponsored trial, one of the largest ever conducted, will begin late this year to test whether commonly used antioxidants vitamin E and selenium can prevent prostate cancer, a researcher told Reuters," reports Reuters. Check out my comments on the most recent diet-prostate cancer study. (Scroll down to the Jan. 5 update).

    "Golden Rice and Superbugs" - The Washington Post editorializes, "Faced with rising political opposition to biotechnology, backers often stress the immense promise the new technology holds for public health. That promise came a step closer to reality last week when the journal Science published evidence of substantial progress toward the creation of 'golden rice,' a vitamin-A-fortified strain of rice that could stave off progressive blindness from vitamin deficiency in as many as 250,000 poor children a year."

    "Cell Towers Take Root on Farms" - "A certain rural contingent has begun to speak out against the towers. Opponents say they're unattractive and they fear the health risks to people and animals," reports Wired.com.

    "Antibiotic resistance may be partly due to lack of new classes of antibacterials since 1960s" - "The rise in antibacterial resistance is partly because there have been no new classes of antibiotics introduced since the 1960s reports Professor Sebastion Amyes in an editorial this week's BMJ." BMJ editorial | BMJ report

    "US threatens GM deal" - "A new clash over plans for an international treaty on the import of genetically-modified (GM) foods is looming, with the United States expected to block the proposals again," reports the BBC.

    "EU health officials call for better labeling of genetically altered foods" - "Leading European health officials repeated appeals Friday for the labeling of genetically modified foods, saying measures need to be taken to gain public support on the sensitive food-safety issue," reports the Associated Press.

    "EU ministers to examine beef labelling issue" - "A decision to opt for a generic EU label at the meeting in Brussels would be certain to upset Germany, which has refused to lift its ban on British beef over fears the meat may still be contaminated with mad cow disease, or BSE," reports Reuters.

    "U.S. to meet EU label rules on GMOs" - "U.S. exporters are ready to meet the European Union's new one percent threshold on labelling food containing genetically modified organisms, although the system may actually heighten consumer fears, a top U.S. trade official said on Friday," reports Reuters.

    "Nicotine patch doesn't deter teen smoking-US study" - "Few teen-aged smokers who tried wearing a nicotine patch quit the habit, indicating that the stop-smoking method that works for some adults may not work for adolescents, U.S. researchers said on Friday," reports Reuters.

    "Agencies say gasoline additive is contaminating water nationwide" - " MTBE, a widely used gasoline additive that makes cars burn cleaner, has posed a cruel dilemma: It's making the air cleaner, but it's polluting the water," reports the Associated Press. Click for my related commentary in Investor's Business Daily.

    "Another fen-phen suit filed in Mississippi" - "On the heels of a successful damage suit in Fayette against fen-phen maker American Home Products, attorneys are again turning to a Mississippi court with claims of health damage caused by the diet drug," reports the Associated Press. Click for my commentary in The Wall Street Journal.

    "Sex drive warning to vegetarians and elderly" - "Elderly and vegetarian men are being warned about the effect of low protein diets on their sex lives in later years," reports the BBC.

    January 21, 2000

    commentary of the day I: "The biotech brawl in Montreal" - Terry Corocran writes in The Financial Post (Jan. 20), "The masters of agit-prop - Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians, CBC Radio's Bob Carty, assorted purveyors of junk science and fear -- are gearing up for a week-long assault on genetically modified food and biotechnology. It won't match the World Trade Organization extravaganza in Seattle, but the agitators hope the Biosafety Protocol negotiations in Montreal next week can be hyped up into a major anti-GM food fight worthy of global attention."

    commentary of the day II: "With Gulf War Syndrome, No Disease Is No News" - Michael Fumento comments, "Call it "A Tale of Two Studies," one celebrated and one ignored. Both concerned Gulf War Syndrome (GWS). The first received tremendous media coverage, though it only involved a handful of vets, was privately funded by somebody with an agenda, was conducted by people on a research gravy train, and was merely announced at a meeting. The second was utterly ignored, though it involved a huge number of vets, was publicly-funded, involved myriad researchers from all over the country, and appeared in the prestigious, peer-reviewed American Journal of Epidemiology. Why the difference? "

    studies of the day: Natural ozone depleters - Nature reports, "Methyl chloride and methyl bromide are the most common chlorine-containing and bromine-containing gases in the Earth's atmosphere and they are produced in good part from natural sources. While much attention has been focused on studying ozone-depleting gases produced by human activity (notably chlorofluorocarbons), the sources of methyl halides have received little attention until recently."

    "Group files to block new U.S. dietary guidelines" - "Saying that the meat and dairy industries have had too much influence on new dietary guidelines for 2000, a health lobbying group said on Thursday it had asked a court for a preliminary injunction blocking their release. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which advocates a vegetarian diet, filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Wednesday night seeking to block the release of a government panel's recommendations on official dietary guidelines," reports Reuters.

    "First wave of secondhand-smoke suits due in Florida" - "Anti-tobacco lawyers prepared to to file on Thursday a first wave of 300 individual secondhand-smoke lawsuits flowing from a landmark $350 million settlement of a class action brought by sick flight attendants," reports Reuters. Brown & Williamson media release

    "Greenpeace to examine French oil spill" - "Greenpeace said on Thursday it planned to investigate the oil spilled by a tanker onto the French coast after birds caught up in the slick allegedly developed tumours and other unusual symptoms," reports Reuters.

    "Biotech Products Face Major Rifts" - "What would happen if a genetically modified crop, such as corn made resistant to a certain pest, spread its seed through cross-pollination to mix with unaltered plants? Might such tampering with the building blocks of life disrupt nature's fragile food chain? Hasten the extinction of species? Unleash a biological time bomb? No one really knows the possible ramifications, and that is the problem facing hundreds of government ministers, environmentalists and other delegates converging on Montreal to try to agree on regulating trade of genetically engineered plants and animals," reports Reuters.

    "USDA Funded Research Finds that Soy, Whey Proteins May Help Prevent Breast Cancer" - If only humans were like rats.

    "Tobacco-Free Kids Statement on Canadian Government Announcement of New Tobacco Labeling Rules" - In what can only be characterized as a comical statement, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says, "Americans should have the same level of information about and protection from tobacco's dangers as our Canadian neighbors." Isn't the long-standing Surgeon General's warning sufficiently clear?

    "Tobacco companies want more government cooperation" - "Tobacco companies want to cooperate more with the UK government and the public health authorities to develop what British American Tobacco (BAT) calls 'rational smoking and health policies based on a proper understanding of the science and the lessons to be drawn from the past.'" reports the British Medical Journal.

    "Why mortality from heart disease is low in France" - A series of letters on the "French paradox" in the British Medical Journal.

    Fluoridated water not associated with hip fracture - A study in this week's The Lancet reports that fluoridation of drinking water is unlikely to pose any important risk of hip fracture. Study | Commentary

    January 20, 2000

    commentary of the day I: "TH!NK Again About Eco-Cars" - Diane Katz and Henry Payne comment in The Wall Street Journal, "So why offer so many eco-cars? Because the auto industry isn't catering to consumers but to environmental bureaucrats, who blame the internal-combustion engine for global warming. Never mind that some 98% of auto emissions have been eliminated in the past three decades. Auto makers now face crippling fines unless they fulfill sales quotas of zero-emission vehicles in some of the nation's biggest markets, including California and New York. Even if the quotas are met, they will have negligible impact on carbon dioxide emissions--but they may well reduce driver safety by putting smaller (and hence less crashworthy) cars on the road."

    commentary of the day II: "Saving Earth from environmentalists" - James Freeman writes in USA Today, "The smartest guy I know has just written a great book. So the first chance you get, buy a copy of Peter Huber’s Hard Green. The subject, "a conservative manifesto for the environment," may sound a little dry, but it’s an excellent read. Huber explains with clear logic what so many of us have felt in our guts."

    "U.S. May Be Entering New Weather Era" - "If current temperature conditions in the Pacific Ocean persist, if an upstart theory of climate cycles proves correct, and if satellite data released yesterday reflect the start of a new era, America could be about to experience a meteorological replay of the 1950s and '60s." reports The Washington Post.

    "Canada Proposes Scaring Smokers With Pictures on the Pack" - "Taking its war on smoking to a more graphic level, Canada's government proposed today that cigarette packs carry color photographs of diseased hearts and cancerous lungs and lips," reports The New York Times.

    "Pacific Ocean Showing Signs of Major Shifts in the Climate" - "Changes in the Pacific Ocean are making it more likely that winter weather in much of the United States will exhibit unusual warmth alternating with sharp cold, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported yesterday," reports The New York Times.

    "Study finds Vitamin E won't help your heart" - "A new study of more than 9,000 high-risk patients suggests that daily vitamin E pills do not help ward off heart problems, contrary to popular belief," reports the Associated Press.

    "http://www.nytimes.com/library/financial/012000novartis-vasella.html" - "Even though life sciences was greeted with enthusiasm, it has become one of the drug industry's biggest misadventures. The world agricultural market sank severely last year. Commodities prices sank. The European food market struggled, amid consumer backlash over genetically engineered products. For most life sciences companies earnings growth was almost nil; stock prices suffered," reports The New York Tiumes.

    "US national food safety plan due in July - panel" - "Consumer groups urged a White House panel on Wednesday to design a national food safety plan around a new federal agency dedicated to safeguarding meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and processed foods," reports Reuters.

    "U.S. study confirms that indoor air worsens asthma" - "Cockroaches, dust mites, mold and second-hand smoke are definitely to blame for making asthma worse, especially in children, a report to be issued on Thursday finds," reports Reuters. Press release | Report summary

    "Scientists see far lower CJD death toll in UK" - "Researchers have revised their estimates for the final death toll from the human equivalent of mad cow disease in Britain to thousands rather than millions," reports Reuters. Other coverage: BBC | New Scientist

    "Canada opts for drooping cigarette to stop smokers" - "If Canadians have still not got the message about the dangers of smoking, then a depiction of a drooping, impotent cigarette or grotesque photos of diseased lungs on cigarette packs might do the trick," reports Reuters.

    "Apples 'protect the lungs' " - "Those who ate apples had a lung capacity 138 millilitres higher than those who did not. Eating a lot of apples might simply reflect a healthy diet, suggest the authors," reports the BBC.

    "Your Environment: nature’s bedroom" - MSNBC resident bonehead Francesca Lymann says you should avoid cotton bed linens because "it is grown using intensive agricultural methods with pesticides and fertilizers, whose residues can prove unhealthy as well as environmentally damaging."

    "Freezing clouds threaten record Arctic ozone loss" - "Record low air temperatures high above the Arctic this winter are set to create the northern hemisphere's largest ever ozone hole. 'The system is primed for ozone destruction,' says Neil Harris, head of the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit in Cambridge. 'If the cold temperatures persist into February we could see a record,'" reports The New Scientist.

    "Deadly particles in air cannot be cut say ministers" - "The Government does not yet know how to solve the problem of particulates, the tiny specks of soot and other matter now regarded as the most life-threatening form of air pollution," reports The Independent.

    "Swiss cabinet opts to keep liberal stand on GMOs" - "The Swiss cabinet completed work on Wednesday on draft amendments aimed at bringing the country's environmental laws into line with advances in biotechnology," reports Reuters.

    "US says biosafety deal can be reached, despite differences with EU" - "US negotiators believe an international deal on exports of genetically modified organisms can be reached next week, despite differences between US and EU teams, a senior state department official said Wednesday," reports AFP.

    January 19, 2000

    today's Gore-ing: "Gore attacked over Colombia oil project" - "Environmentalists and human rights activists are accusing Al Gore, the US vice-president and candidate for the Democratic party presidential nomination, of hypocrisy over his shareholding in an oil company prospecting in Colombian rainforests," reports The Financial Times.

    cartoon of the day: By Henry Payne - From The Detroit News.

    commentary of the day: "Let federal agents visit bored at-home workers" - David Grimes writes in The Miami Herald, "I was hurt and a bit offended that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration backed off the idea of barging into the houses of people who work at home to make sure that they are complying with all federal health and safety standards... Call me an incurable romantic, but to me nothing breaks up the day like a beefy federal agent leading me away in handcuffs for having an insufficient-wattage bulb in my desk lamp."

    report of the day: "Agent Orange Study Accuses Air Force of Blunders, Bias" - "The Pentagon's ongoing investigation into exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War has suffered from blunders, obstruction by the Air Force and Reagan administration, bias, secrecy and the release of misleading preliminary findings, according to a General Accounting Office report," reports The Chicago Tribune. Click for the GAO report. Note that the "most" the GAO said about the potential for human health effects from Agent Orange is "While there is scientific evidence of some associations between exposure to herbicides (or the dioxin they contain) and adverse human health conditions, the effect of this exposure on human health remains controversial."

    "World Bank Sets Up Fund to Assist Pollution-Control Effort" - "The World Bank launched a new venture yesterday designed to help create a market for buying and selling reductions of emissions that have been blamed for global warming." reports The Washington Post.

    "First, vitamins must do no harm" - The San Jose Mercury News contrasts the Federal Trade Commission's order that Bayer spend about $1 million telling Americans they shouldn't take aspirin regularly unless they first get a doctor's approval with the FDA's recent decision that makers of vitamins, herbs and dietary supplements can make practically any claim they want for their products without having to prove them effective or even safe."

    EU report on fragrance allergy in consumers - The December 199 report from the Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products intended for Consumers concerning Fragrance Allergy in Consumers.

    "Genetic food talks set for Montreal this week" - "Environmental trade negotiators from more than 120 countries will gather in Montreal this week in what is likely to resemble a smaller -- and, participants hope, quieter -- version of the Seattle talks that fell apart so spectacularly in December," reports The Financial Post.

    "Britain claims flu epidemic came from outer space" - "University researchers in Cardiff have challenged the view that the outbreak is caused by the bug being passed from person to person at home or in the workplace," reports the ABC.

    "Dr. Jeffrey Wigand and the American Cancer Society Implore Calif. Voters To Keep 50-Cent Tobacco Tax" - "Jeffrey Wigand, a former research director for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and the subject of the new Touchstone Pictures film, "The Insider," will endorse the Stop Big Tobacco -- No on Prop 28 campaign during a news conference with the American Cancer Society at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, Wednesday January 19th." Click for my review of "The Insider."

    "Smokers get more tar, nicotine than thought-study" - "Smokers are making up for the allegedly lower tar and nicotine yields in so-called "light" cigarettes by inhaling harder and more frequently, researchers said on Tuesday," reports Reuters. CNN coverage | MSNBC coverage | Reuters Health

    "Smoking in decline among U.S. women, study says" - "The percentage of American women who said they smoked declined from 1987 to 1996, with more pregnant women also abstaining from cigarettes or at least cutting down, a study released on Tuesday said," reports Reuters. JAMA study | BBC coverage | CNN coverage | AP coverage | MSNBC coverage

    January 18, 2000

    eco-crapola of the day: New Turning Point Project Ad: "Can industrial agriculture feed the world?" - Here's the latest New York Times ad from the Turning (My Stomach) Point Project. Can "industrial agriculture" feed the world? Who knows? Can you trust the Turning Point Project? Decide for yourself.

    junk TV news of the day I: 60 Minutes does MTBE - The Television news program 60 Minutes reported on the MTBE controversy last Sunday night. There is no question the MTBE is a great example of "ready-fire-aim" environmental policy. But 60 Minutes wrongly gave the impression nothing is known about potential health risks from MTBE exposure. Though MTBE may foul drinking water pretty easily, environmental exposures to MTBE pose no health threat to humans. Click for my Investor's Business Daily op-ed on MTBE.

    junk TV news of the day II: NBC Nightly News junks out on trans fats - NBC senior "science" correspondent Robert Bazell reported on trans fats Monday evening. But as is evidenced by this MSNBC version of Bazell's report, Bazell was way off base in scaring viewers that trans fats cause 30,000 premature deaths each year -- or that trans fats have been linked with any adverse health effects. Bazell's chief source on trans fats, Harvard's Walter Willet, is almost single-handedly responsible for pushing the trans fats scare. Click for my report on trans fats.

    Ben & Jerry's moment of the day: Greenpeace erects a barrier to Ben & Jerry's in Russia? - The Russian news agancy Tass reports,

    The first environmental marking introduced in Russia was presented at a press conference at the Russian Office of Greenpeace on Monday. The press conference was called in connection with the appearance on the Russian market of commodities marked No Chlorine. Greenpeace officials said the No Chlorine mark was designed by Greenpeace Russia and approved by the State Committee for Standards. This is the only such act in the world. It establishes the procedure for determining commodities in the production of which no chlorine and its compounds were used. The use of the No Chlorine mark enables consumers to make a conscientious choice in favour of a less environmentally hazardous commodity. This will reduce environmental contamination, including by strong poisons such as dioxins. Several producers have already started using the new mark for their products. They have said that 'even in Russia no serious company can hope for steady development if it ignores its environmental image'."

    Ben & Jerry's first venture into the Russian market failed. Should Ben & Jerry's decide to go back to Russia, it looks like the company will have to forego the "No Chlorine" label since its ice cream, as tested by Junkscience.com, contains relatively high levels of chlorine-containing dioxin.

    off-topic commentary of the day: "Pepperoni, cheese and whining" - My op-ed in today's Washington Times about the Pizza Hut vs. Papa John's squabble.

    commentary of the day I: "Global Warming Is 300-Year-Old News" - Arthur Robinso and Noah Robinson write in The Wall Street Journal about the recent NRC report on global warming.

    commentary of the day II: "Hot air for the millennium" - Pat Michaels comments in The Washington Times, "People who don't think the federal government sometimes exaggerates things a wee bit obviously did not survive the Y2K crisis. Or perhaps they merely sizzled away in the record heat endured by our fair republic, as recently reported by the Commerce Department, which has pronounced 1998-09 the warmest years for which we have adequate records - 1998 comes in as hottest and 1999 as second-warmest. One Y2K lesson is that what is said in Washington isn't necessarily what is, depending on what "is" means. In the case of the nation's or the globe's temperature, our government has chosen to trumpet one particular climate history out of several that are available. Not surprisingly, the government tells us about the hottest, while the rest are not remarkable at all. The heated pronouncement, which actually came from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), is not a result of cooking the books. Instead, it is a result of very selective reading..."

    commentary of the day III: "Still not a crisis" - The Indianapolis Star-news comments, "The doomsayers are renewing calls for massive reductions in energy use. They're predicting killer storms, catastrophic droughts and ocean levels rising by several feet. It sounds scary. But here's something to keep in mind. The NASA satellites have been accurately recording temperature data for over 20 years. At the current rate of warming, the planet's average temperature will be higher by eight-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit in the year 2100. That's not a crisis."

    commentary of the day IV: "EPA's Blind Eye" - With the MTBE controversy as the backdrop, USA Today editorializes, "This is hardly the first time the EPA has been caught pushing rules based on shoddy science. Independent reviews of its mandatory auto emissions inspection programs find them far less effective than the EPA boasts. And the agency's rule on recycling sewage sludge as fertilizer has come under fire for not being protective enough. The list goes on. The combined effect of all this is to call into serious question the EPA's authority on environmental matters."

    commentary of the day V: "Genetically modified foods not only safe but necessary" - John Allred comments in The Columbus Dispatch, "It is estimated that the world's population will hit 9 billion within 50 years. Advances in biotechnology provide the best hope that enough food can be produced to feed an ever-expanding population. If the use of molecular biology is done with as much care as it has been up until now, our food supply should remain abundant and safe long into the future."

    commentary of the day VI: "Forbidden Flushes" - The Wall Street Journal editorializes on "toilet totalitarianism" -- "the new, low-gal toilets [that] often end up clogging and overflowing because they don't produce enough momentum to get the job done on the first try."

    commentary of the day VII: "Disregard our prior panic" - Dale McFeatters asks, "Was it only two years ago that we had the great killer asteroid scare?"

    "Hurricanes set to grow fiercer" - "Scientists in the US believe hurricanes may become more powerful in the next few decades, and that the damage they cause will be much greater. Dr Chris Landsea, of the hurricane research division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), told BBC Radio Four's environment programme Costing the Earth that global warming would not cause more frequent and intense hurricanes, but that a natural cycle could produce the same result," reports the BBC.

    "Danger to health from traffic 'is overstated'" - "Government agencies have seriously exaggerated the health dangers posed by increasing road traffic, according to an unpublished study conducted for the Department of Health," reports the Daily Telegraph.

    "Environmentalists, farmers support EPA's restrictions on biotech corn plantings" - "Both environmentalists and farmers are supporting the planting restrictions that the government is placing on genetically altered corn to prevent insects from becoming resistant to its toxin," reports the Associated Press.

    "Canada hopeful on talks on gene-modified crops" - "Canadian officials said on Monday there was a chance the world's trading blocs could settle their deep differences at talks next week and forge a deal to protect biological diversity and regulate trade in genetically modified (GM) crops," reports Reuters.

    "EU says GM safety agreement an 'absolute priority'" - "The European Union's top environmental official said on Monday it was an "absolute priority" to conclude a long-delayed deal to protect biological diversity and regulate trade in genetically modified crops," reports Reuters.

    "France reports first mad cow case in 2000" - "France reported a fresh case of the mad cow disease on Monday, the first discovered this year," reports Reuters.

    "ACTU calls for asbestos ban" - "The ACTU has called for a total ban on the use of sbestos in Australia by the end of this year," reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. The EPA tried a similar ban in the late-1980s. The EPA ban was trashed by a federal court that determined the EPA, without basis, ignored its own scientific data contradicting the agency's final decision.

    January 17, 2000

    commentary of the day I: "Agency out of control" - Bill Kovac writes in The Washington Times, "EPA is retaliating against business for successfully filing suit and having EPA's new air regulations declared unconstitutional. Although it is disturbing when opponents criticize corporate citizens for exercising their constitutional right to petition their government, it is even more frightening when a government agency retaliates against citizens for securing their constitutional rights in court. EPA is an agency that has broadly overstepped its authority. It is an agency that refuses to inform the public as to the scientific basis for its mandates. It is an agency that is out of control."

    commentary of the day II: "EPA for Honda" - The Washington Times editorializes, "One need not be a GM customer, shareholder or employee to wonder if the most dangerous emissions these days are the regulatory variety that spew from EPA."

    junk commentary of the day: "More Hot News" - The Washington Post comments, "The latest data on global warming should thin the ranks of those who deny the evidence for climate change." But it's pretty clear Post editors didn't read the report -- which, by the way, failed its mission of attempting to reconcile the differences between surface and upper atmosphere temps. For more on why this report is no big deal, check out the comments (below) by climatologist George Taylor from last Friday. Related junk commentary from the San Jose Mercury News

    "Clinton turning to regulations to plant his environmental legacy" - "As President Clinton tries to create an environmental legacy without the help of Congress, conservation proposals are falling like rain from the White House," reports the Associated Press.

    "UK air quality 'worst ever'" - "The environmental campaign Friends of the Earth says air quality in the United Kingdom last year experienced the worst deterioration since modern records began," reports the BBC.

    January 16, 2000

    "EPA Restricts Gene-Altered Corn in Response to Concerns" - "The Environmental Protection Agency has placed new restrictions on the cultivation of genetically modified corn, a response to concerns that gene-altered crops may be causing ecological disruptions." reports The Washington Post. For background info:

    commentary of the day: "Global Warming?" - The Detroit News comments, "The National Research Council study indicating the Earth’s surface has warmed in the last two decades says nothing about the warming’s cause and therefore does not justify implementing the Kyoto Treaty."

    "Alps face disaster over warming" - "But now engineers and geologists have discovered a new, alarming effect: air temperature increases are being magnified fivefold underground. A test borehole, dug in Murtel in southern Switzerland, has revealed that frozen sub-surface soils warmed by 1.2 degrees since 1990," reports The News Unlimited.

    scare of the day: "Pollution set to rip giant hole in ozone layer" - "Scientists are warning that the biggest hole in the ozone layer over the northern hemisphere will appear this spring. It is likely to trigger public alerts against going out in the sun without protective clothing across Britain and the rest of Europe. " reports The Times.

    Economically Viable Alternative Green - The altgreen site has been rennovated into a much leaner and meaner, no nonsense site. Check it out.

    January 15, 2000

    today's Gore-ing: Al Gore's 'concept car' - A cartoon from Larry Wright, in The Detroit News.

    scare of the day: "Planet faces 'abrupt changes'" - "A US report says the world could be taken by surprise by unexpected environmental problems during the twenty-first century," reports the BBC. Philip Stott says:

    Here we go again. More hand-wringing from the dreaded Worldwatch Institute, as reported by Alex Kirby for BBC Science Online: Please ask why BBC Online News reports uncritically the gloom of the Worldwatch Institute but not the more positive views expressed in Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet" by using the Official BBC Online News Complaints Form (asking the complaint to be directed to Mr. Alex Kirby, Science/Technology). Thank you."

    Earth Report 2000 may be purchased from the Junkscience.com store.

    "EPA denies ethanol decision delayed to help Gore" - "The Environmental Protection Agency denied Friday that it is delaying a decision on whether to exempt California from rules requiring ethanol in gasoline blends to avoid hurting Vice President Al Gore in the Iowa caucuses," reports the Associated Press.

    "Tamoxifen cost effective and worthy of insurance coverage" - "The drug tamoxifen is highly effective at preventing breast cancer in women at high risk and should be covered by insurance, results of a recent analysis conclude, " reports Reuters. Visit Consumerdistorts.com for more on the tamoxifen controversy.

    "Byrne promises tighter rules on GM labelling" - "EU rules on labelling GM foods will be made stricter as soon as technology becomes available to detect smaller amounts of GM material in foods, according to the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Mr David Byrne," reports The Irish Times.

    January 14, 2000

    commentary of the day: George Taylor comments on new global warming report - Here are climatologist George Taylor's comments on the recent National Research Council report, "Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change." The report is being touted by the media and enviros as "confirming" global warming.

    Comments on "Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change"

    "Reconciling Observations of Global Temperature Change" describes how surface temperatures have warmed in the past 20 years, even though upper-atmosphere temperatures have remained stable. This "surface warming" is said to be due to "a combination of human activities and natural causes," and is reputed to be real evidence that the earth's temperature is rising.

    While I agree with most of what appears in the press release, some additional comments are warranted. As a state climatologist, one whose job it is to examine data records for quality, I am very cautious about using data from individual stations to infer global trends. Local biases, particularly the "urban heat island" effect, can bias temperature measurements.

    Tom Karl, Director of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), has the same concerns. For that reason, Karl initiated the Historical Climatology Network (HCN) program a number of years ago. NCDC selected reliable long-term stations, those thought to be free of local biases (neglecting, for example, stations in growing urban areas). When HCN temperature trends are plotted for the last 105 years, there is a very slight warming, but the warmest period of the century occurred in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The December issues of Climate Variations Bulletin show the annual trends.

    What this means is that the long-term trends in temperature in one of the largest countries in the world, using the finest available surface temperature data, do not show the warming that the global data sets indicate. Why not? As Tom Karl suggested in the March, 1989 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, "all global temperature data sets are contaminated by a number of biases of varying magnitudes of which the most serious may be the global-warming bias." These statements, which were Karl's rationale for formulating the HCN, still ring true. My explanation for the difference between U.S. temperatures (which show almost no warming this century) and global data (which show a lot) is that the latter is of considerably lower quality, and much more biased, than the carefully-constructed HCN data set.

    One of the best overviews on global climate changed I have seen was Pat Michaels' testimony before the Subcommittee on National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs, of the U.S. House of Representatives in October, 1999.

    Michaels listed several major conclusions, all of them based on peer-reviewed journal publications. Of most significance are:

    • Observed surface warming is far below what the climate models have forecast. Even though the model predictions for future climate have steadily dropped as they become more sophisticated, their predictions have consistently exceeded actual observations.
    • Most of the warming has been in winter, and confined to the very coldest airmasses. The warming outside of these airmasses is only 0.2 Centigrade per century.
    • Climate variation has declined significantly on a global basis while there is no change for precipitation.
    • In the United States, streamflow records show that drought has decreased while flooding has not increased.
    • Maximum winds in hurricanes that affect the United States have significantly declined, and there is no evidence for a global increase in mid-latitude storms.
    • The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will have no discernable impact on global climate within any reasonable policy timeframe.
    Ten years ago, I believed the modelers that global warming was a serious problem that needed attention and intervention. As I studied the issue year by year, I became less and less convinced that the "problem" was truly serious.

    My current bottom line: while human activities doubtless influence climate (on a local, regional, and even a global scale), the human-induced climate change from expected increases in greenhouse gases will be a rather small fraction of the natural variations. I don't foresee global warming causing big problems. I believe that even if we controlled every molecule of human emissions we would still see substantial climate change, just as we always have.

    George Taylor
    State Climatologist, Oregon
    President, American Association of State Climatologists
    Oregon State University
    January 13, 2000

    report of the day: "Is EPA's Ozone Standard Feasible?" - The Environmental Protection Agency's estimate of the cost of meeting the new ozone standard is likely to underestimate substantially the true cost. In a new Joint Center study, Randall Lutter, Joint Center fellow and AEI resident scholar, shows that attainment of the standard in 2010 could cost nearly $5 trillion in one city and $70 billion in seven other cities. Lutter's analysis uses EPA's basic model but drops the unrealistic assumption that pollution control costs eventually are capped. Congress should avoid such infeasible standards by amending the Clean Air Act to direct EPA to balance benefits and costs in regulating air pollution. Mr. Lutter's regulatory analysis is available: Abstract | Report (PDF format)

    commentary of the day I: "Why Europe Fears Biotech Foods" - Michael Fumento writes in The Wall Street Journal, "Yet even if Europe banishes biotech, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Says Carole Brookins, a Washington agriculture consultant: 'We need to remember there's almost six billion people outside of Europe and start concentrating more on them.'"

    commentary of the day II: "No apologies for Bush's environmental record" - Sterling Burnett writes in The Houston Chronicle, "Under Bush's leadership, the environment has improved and the economy has grown at a faster rate in Texas than in the rest of the nation."

    "Green group attacks Bush " - "Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters, a national non-partisan organisation which rates the records of individual congressman, said the Texas governor "represents the biggest threat to the environment" of any of the leading party presidential candidates," reports The Financial Times.

    boneless rumor of the day: KFC not serving mutant chicken - "Restaurant chain KFC is the victim of a sick hoax claiming it has replaced chickens with a genetically modified organism. Campaigners have sent an e-mail to 100,000 people around the UK saying the company has cut production costs by breeding artificial birds with no beaks, feet, feathers or even bones. The firm has launched 'a full and rigorous investigation' - thought to include police and lawyers - into who sent the message and is considering an advert campaign to quash the rumours. PR spokesman Oliver Wheeler said yes-terday: 'I would ask the public to use their common sense. The allegations are preposterous, completely unfounded. Our chickens are reared in a tradit-ional environment with no use of genetic manipulation or artificial nutrients,'" reports The Mirror (Jan. 13).

    "Global warming real and worsening: study" - "Earth is warming and at a sharply faster rate in the last 20 years than in previous decades, according to a major study released on Thursday by the National Academy of Science's National Research Council (NRC)," reports Reuters.

    "'Frankenfood' Frenzy" - From Reason, "In the developing world, a million kids die and millions more go blind every year because they don't get enough vitamin A. Over 50 percent of pregnant women in poor countries are iron deficient, a condition responsible for nearly 20 percent of all maternal deaths. The staple food in many parts of the developing world is rice -- a grain that doesn't provide enough of these essential nutrients. Until now."

    "What’s the Matter With You People????" - Alan Caruba's weekly "Warning Signs" column.

    "Drs. Brundtland and Koop Named as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health " - "World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland, MD, MPH and Former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD will serve as honorary co-chairs of the 11th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health, scheduled to take place in Chicago, Illinois, USA on August 6-11, 2000."

    "US groups seek food safety warning label on meat" - "Makers of ready-to-eat hot dogs and deli meats should label packages to warn pregnant women, the elderly and others with weak immune systems that the products may be contaminated with listeria, six consumer groups said on Thursday," reports Reuters. Grocery Manufacturers of America media release

    "Modified corn, soy seeds still selling - firms" - "Early seed sales for 2000 crops show U.S. farmers are buying about as much genetically modified corn and soybean seed as a year ago, according to spokesmen for three major seed companies," reports Reuters.

    "POLL-U.S. farmers oppose biotech food labels" - "U.S. farmers emphatically oppose any federally-required labels on foods made with genetically modified crops as the European Union, Japan, South Korea and others move to give consumers more information, a Reuters straw poll said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

    "Novartis plays down GMO crop sowing survey" - "Novartis AG played down results of a Reuters survey on Thursday suggesting U.S. farmers planned to scale back their sowing of genetically modified crops, saying it had seen no switch so far away from its modified Bt corn," reports Reuters.

    "Scientists report on new golden, vitamin-rich rice" - "Scientists who have genetically engineered a golden rice that produces extra vitamin A reported details of their accomplishment on Thursday, saying it could help save the lives of millions of children," reports Reuters. Other coverage: BBC | MSNBC

    "Group says US air unhealthy 7,600 times in summer '99" - "U.S. air pollution exceeded healthy standards more than 7,600 times in the summer of 1999 in 43 states and the District of Columbia, with California by far the leader in breaking smog limits, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

    "White House earmarks $27 million for toxic exposure tests" - "President Clinton's next budget request calls for $27 million to develop ways of testing whether people have been exposed to hundreds of carcinogens and toxic substances," reports CNN. Pew Environmental Health Commission media release

    "Koch Industries fined $35 million over pollution charges" - "The Environmental Protection Agency slapped Koch Industries with $35 million in fines and penalties Thursday as part of a settlement over alleged contamination of lakes and streams in six states from Missouri to Texas," reports the Associated Press.

    "Opponents of implant settlement can sue Dow, Corning" - "Women unsatisfied with a settlement over silicone breast implants once made by Dow Corning Co. may sue the company's corporate parents, a judge confirmed," reports the Associated Press.

    "Extent of misclassification of death from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in England 1979-96: retrospective examination of clinical records" - This study in the British Medical Journal reports, "the rapid increase in the number of cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in this age group is likely to be real not artefactual."

    "An imperfect world: Are we going too far in the quest to put medicine on a rational footing?" - The New Scientist comments on the hub-ub over breast cancer screening. New Scientist news story.

    January 13, 2000

    report of the day: Upcoming National Research Council report 'confirms' the Earth's surface is getting warmer; Better data needed to explain discrepancies between surface and upper-air temperature trends - "Despite differences in temperature data, strong evidence exists to show that the warming of the Earth's surface is 'undoubtedly real,' and that surface temperatures in the past two decades have risen at a rate substantially greater than average for the past 100 years, says a new report by the National Research Council of the National Academies."

    study of the day: "Mass Hysteria May Be Rising - U.S. Study" - " Outbreaks of mass hysteria, including fears of poison gases in the air, may be on the rise and traditional efforts to combat them may only make them worse, an article in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine found," reports Reuters. Click for the New England Journal of Medicine: Study | Editorial

    commentary of the day: "Browner outs" - Ken Smith writes in The Washington Times about EPA administrator Carol Browner's jihad against Midwestern power plants.

    "'Human' GM cow milk plans denied" - "A UK biotechnology company has denied reports that it plans to produce commercial baby formula milk from genetically-modified cows," reports the BBC.

    "The global spread of obesity" - "Figures compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) in its "State of the World" report suggest that obesity is increasing worldwide and becoming a health problem in many of the same developing nations where malnutrition still exists," reports CNN.

    "EU proposes European food safety agency" - "In the wake of food scandals in Belgium, France and Britain, the European Commission on Wednesday proposed the creation of a European food safety agency," reports the Associated Press.

    "Potted plants aren't the answer to sick building syndrome" - "If you want to improve the quality of the air in your home or office, forget about buying a few indoor plants. You'd have to make the place look like the Palm House at Kew Gardens to have even the slightest impact, claims an Australian researcher."

    "Researcher finds alternatives to antibiotics for growing chickens" - "University of Wisconsin-Madison animal scientist Mark Cook is finding ways producers can raise chickens economically with fewer antibiotics. 'I believe that our new tools and strategies will increase both animal and human health,' he says."

    "New breakthrough may make breast-implant procedures safer" - "UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas plastic surgeons have developed a new antibiotic solution that may help reduce or eliminate capsular contracture, the most common risk associated with cosmetic and reconstructive breast-implant surgery."

    "U.S. warns EU not to derail GMO talks" - "The United States warned the European Union on Wednesday that if it pushes for food safety controls on genetically modified plants it will scupper negotiations on environmental dangers," reports Reuters.

    "Scientists reduce estimate of near Earth asteroids" - "The number of asteroids capable of colliding with the Earth and causing massive devastation is only about half of previous estimates, American scientists said on Wednesday," reports Reuters.

    January 12, 2000

    Ben & Jerry's update of the day: Dioxin level in Ben & Jerry's confirmed - An independent laboratory confirmed the Junkscience.com report of a sample of Ben & Jerry's ice cream containing about 200 times the amount of dioxin deemed "safe" by the EPA. The original Junkscience.com report was based on a biochemical method called the CALUX assay, a relatively new and highly sensitive test. The confirmation is based on traditional gas chromatography. Watch for full details to be posted soon!

    junk advice of the day: "This Year's Flu Season: No Real Cure Except Time" - The American Academy of Family Physicians advises us that we can avoid catching the flu by, among other things, avoiding secondhand smoke.

    junk commentary of the day: "Put Food Safety in One Pot" - The Los Angeles Times wants us to believe that our food supply is so dangerous only centralized bureaucracy can make it safe.

    commentary of the day I: "Biotech crop killers" - Michael Fumento writes in The Washington Times, "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 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."

    commentary of the day II: "Genetically Modified Crops Feed Ongoing Controversy" - Charles Marwick writes in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "The current furor over GM organisms is full of irony and not much science."

    commentary of the day III: "Misdirected Attention? Maybe 'Attention Deficit' Isn’t the Real Problem" - Nicholas Regush writes for ABCnews.com, "While there are some children - and some editors and producers - who obviously need major help in adjusting to our zany world, there is far too much drugging going on. The drugging is the real epidemic, not ADHD."

    commentary of the day IV: "Auto Show: Green Think" - The Detroit News comments, "Many of the hybrid vehicles being shown to the press this week seem more aimed at making a political statement than to stimulate genuine consumer interest."

    commentary of the day V: "Tobacco suit snuffed" - The Denver Post editorializes, "The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to review lower court decisions barring union health funds from suing tobacco companies on behalf of their members... As we read the recent court decisions involving third parties such as the union health funds, we are increasingly confident that a federal appellate court will one day, as it should, dismiss the federal lawsuit as well."

    "Health advice 'nannies' killed off by ministers" - "The Health Education Authority is to be closed and half its staff made redundant or moved as part of a shake-up in the way ministers inform the nation on how to lead healthier lives," reports The Daily Telegraph.

    "EU adopts food labelling rules" - "The European Union Commission has approved labelling rules that would force food companies to label products containing more than one per cent of genetically modified foods," reports the AAP.

    "IBAC Says Could Be Benefits In Delaying GMO Releases" - "The government’s biotechnology advisors have released a discussion document which suggests New Zealand could benefit from delaying the first uncontrolled release of genetically modified organisms," reports the NewsRoom.

    "Bradley attacks Gore's tobacco record" - "Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley opened a new front on Tuesday in his battle against Al Gore, accusing the vice president of protecting the tobacco industry during his political career," reports Reuters. Gore media release.

    "Tobacco exec vows no settlement of U.S. lawsuit" - "The chief executive of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., the third largest U.S. cigarette maker, said Tuesday the industry was 'totally committed' to fighting a U.S. government lawsuit and would not settle the case," reports Reuters.

    "US consumers favor GM crops to curb pesticides - survey" - "Nearly three-fourths of American consumers would support genetically modified crops if the technology means farmers can reduce pesticide use, according to a survey released Tuesday by the American Farm Bureau," reports Reuters.

    "EU acts against governments on environment laws" - "The European Commission said on Tuesday it had launched legal action against a number of European Union counties for failing to respect EU environment legislation," reports Reuters.

    "Bayer forced to roll back aspirin claims" - "Drug giant Bayer will spend $1 million to roll back its own claims that just about all adults could take aspirin to prevent heart attacks, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Tuesday," reports Reuters. ABC News coverage

    "League of Conservation Voters to Release Presidential Environmental Profiles" - "Launching an aggressive environmental information initiative pertaining to the presidential campaigns, the League of Conservation Voters on Thursday will release its "2000 Presidential Profiles." Based on extensive research, interviews and presidential questionnaire responses, the "2000 Presidential Profiles" provide in-depth information concerning the environmental record and commitment of each major Republican and Democratic presidential contender."

    "This Year's Flu Season: No Real Cure Except Time" - So says the American Academy of Family Physicians. But, says the Academy's media release, you can prevent the flu by avoiding secondhand smoke.

    "U.S. Unlikely to Require Labels on Biotech Foods" - "The federal government is not likely to require U.S. manufacturers and grocery stores to put labels on genetically modified food, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said on Monday," reports Reuters.

    "'Frankenfood' Is A Product Of The Media, Not Biotech" - From the Biotechnology Knowledge Centre.

    "Hong Kong Rejects Compulsory Labelling Of GM Food" - "Hong Kong's government has rejected calls for the introduction of compulsory labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods," reports Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Jan. 6).

    January 11, 2000

    victory of the day: "U.S. high court lets stand dimissal of tobacco suits" - "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand the dismissal of three lawsuits by union health funds seeking to force the tobacco industry to reimburse them for funds spent on the medical treatment of smokers," reports Reuters.

    "Britons Seek Tighter Controls on GM Waste" - "Nearly nine out of 10 Britons want tighter controls on waste disposal from factories that use genetically modified micro-organisms (GMMs), according to a poll released on Monday," reports Reuters.

    "Colorado State atmospheric scientist believes number of influences are overlooked in U.S. national and international climate assessments" - "Roger Pielke Sr., professor of atmospheric science, and colleagues have shown in their research that the effect of landscape and human-caused land-use changes can have a profound effect on climate variability and change. This work calls into question the realism of the climate predictions used in the U.S. regional, national and international assessments because these factors have not been included in the model. 'If land-use change is as important on the climate system as our results suggest, there is a large uncertainty in the future climate, since there is no evidence that we can accurately predict the future landscape,' Pielke said."

    "X-rays to blame for cancer and heart deaths, researcher claims" - "British experts yesterday denounced a scientist who claims most heart disease and cancer deaths are caused by X-rays. Professor John Gofman's conclusions were condemned as unscientific and likely to incite misleading alarm for patients' safety," reports The Express.

    "Bitter war of words over the safety of $1 billion sweetener" - The Express reports the the latest flare-up over aspartame.

    "Climate Change Spells Doom for Oil-Author" - "As the world's weather grows warmer and deadlier, uneasy public opinion is starting to see climate change as the ugly legacy of the oil era. So says oilman-turned-environmentalist Jeremy Leggett, who argues that oil companies are sowing the seeds of their own demise if they continue to dismiss the fight against global warming," reports Reuters.

    "USDA to spend $120 million on biotech, ag research" - "The U.S. Agriculture Department will earmark $120 million for research on bioengineered crops, food safety, pesticides and other areas of concern to American farmers, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said on Monday," reports Reuters.

    "Roller coaster rides may trigger blood clots on the brain" - "Riding roller coasters may increase the risk of developing potentially harmful blood clots on the brain’s surface, according to a case study in the January 11 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. These blood clots can compress the brain and may lead to permanent brain damage, seizures or in some cases death. Researchers report a case of a healthy 24-year-old Japanese woman who developed blood clots on the brain’s surface, known as subdural hematomas, after riding several roller coasters while spending the day at a Japanese amusement park. While at the park she rode the Fujiyama, one of the highest and fastest roller coasters in the world."

    January 10, 2000

    "Brussels set to unveil food safety authority" - "The European Commission is to unveil plans for an independent food safety authority as part of a drive to restore Europeans' confidence in food policy in the wake of a series of scares." reports The Financial Times.

    "Researchers create first global long-term precipitation data set for understanding El Niño/La niña" - "NASA scientists have completed the first globally complete long-term data set for use in understanding El Niño/La Niña events. The data set, part of the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP), is a result of rainfall analysis that examines precipitation monthly around the globe over a 20-year period."

    January 9, 2000

    junk commentary of the day: "Warming to Reality" - The Washington Post wants us to believe that human-induced global warming must be occurring because Ford and DaimlerChrysler resigned from the Global Climate Coalition, a lobbying group opposed to the Kyoto climate treaty. The Post also says, "In Congress an ostrich caucus still insists that the scientific evidence for global warming is inconclusive." Hmmm... I'll stick with the "ostrich caucus" rather than the headless chickens at The Washington Post fearmongering about global warming.

    "Nike shirts reportedly don't contain toxic amount of chemical" - "Nike soccer jerseys pulled from German store shelves after a television report do not contain a dangerous amount of a toxic antibacterial chemical, according to a report Saturday," reports the Associate Press.

    "Largest Green Group in U.S. May Not Endorse Al Gore, Says Air/Water Pollution Report" - "Despite his efforts to woo environmentalists, Vice President Al Gore is in danger of not drawing the endorsement of the Sierra Club, the largest environmental advocacy group in the United States, the environmental newsletter Air/Water Pollution Report (AWPR) has learned. AWPR is published by Business Publishers, Inc., an independent, accredited news organization in Silver Spring, Md."

    "WHO Pushes Tobacco Control Treaty" - "The World Health Organization chief warned that tobacco could take a ghastly toll in developing countries unless nations act swiftly to control the substance," reports the Associated Press.

    "Copycats" - "Around the world, anti-tobacco activists are mimicking U.S.-style litigation. However, the risks appear limited," reports the Tobacco Reporter.

    "'No health risk' from radioactive waste " - "A report commissioned by the Irish Government has concluded there is no health risk from radioactive material dumped in the Irish Sea over a period of 30 years," reports the BBC.

    "Record numbers quit smoking" - "A record number of smokers are trying to kick the habit for the new year, health campaigners have said," reports the BBC.

    January 8, 2000

    commentary of the day: " Global-Warming Theorists Want A Cooler World Economy" - "Philip Stott writes for Bridge News, "The idea of global warming is potentially dangerous precisely because it gives the false impression that we might be able to halt climate change by fiddling about with just one or two of the millions of factors involved."

    "Millions at risk from CJD, say EU scientists" - "Millions of European consumers may be at risk of catching Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD), the fatal human version of BSE - despite their governments' assertions that their countries are free of the cattle disease, the European Union's most senior scientists warned in a report yesterday, reports The Guardian.

    "OSHA's home invasion" - Even The Boston Globe is appalled at OSHA's effort to reguate workers in their homes. Other opinions: Detroit News | Sacramento Bee | Cincinnati Post | Denver Post | Washington Times

    "Tobacco litigation worldwide" - From the British Medical Journal (Jan. 8), "This article describes tobacco litigation in the United States and reviews developments elsewhere. It concludes with the bleak picture in Great Britain."

    "Virtual Climate Alert" - From the Greening Earth Society: "In the December 19, 1999, edition of The New York Times, science writer Bill Stevens reported that 1999 was the "second warmest year on record" for the United States and other global land masses and that the rate of increase has been especially dramatic since the 1970s. While these facts in themselves are correct, Mr. Stevens ignores the larger set of observations that are necessary in order to put these facts into proper perspective."

    "Forecasters say hang up the skis" - "Now that the 1990s have been confirmed as Australia's hottest decade since records began, what does the future hold? The weather is set to get even hotter, mostly drier, sea levels will rise and the NSW ski fields could all but disappear," reports The Australian.

    "The Week That Was Jan 8, 2000" - The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

    "Measure OK'd to make buying tobacco illegal for minors" - "Despite testimony from anti-smoking groups against the bill, the state Senate Health Committee unanimously approved a measure yesterday that would make it illegal for minors to buy tobacco products or to use them in certain instances," reports The Times (Trenton, NJ).

    "Cancer screening: Worth the money?" - "Doubt has been cast on the value of screening women for breast cancer - but some doctors are deeply sceptical about cancer screening programmes in general," reports the BBC.

    "Uranium on jet 'not a risk' " - "Emergency services have insisted there was no danger to the public from depleted uranium on a Korean Air Boeing 747 cargo plane which crashed near Stansted Airport," reports the BBC.

    "Canada steps up battle against cigarettes" - "The bartenders at Fred's Uptown Tavern in Vancouver are so opposed to Canada's new ban on public smoking - aimed at protecting their health - that they are suiting up in hygienic overalls and gas masks. That way they can still light their customers' cigarettes without breaking the law. But their novel protest isn't likely to move authorities," reports the Associated Press.

    "Tesco to ban produce from GM trial sites" - "The Tesco supermarket chain said yesterday that it was blacklisting crops grown in fields that had been host to genetically modified crops. The move will put pressure on farmers to reject GM trials. " reports The Times.

    January 7, 2000

    drkoop.con of the day: Dr. Koop's 'revolutionary" weight loss program - Dr. Koop ought to be arrested for this. His revolutionary plan boils down to paying Shape-Up America! $10 per week, dieting, exercising and -- here's the revolutionary part -- keeping track of your program on the Internet. What innovation! A new scam for the overweight. Your wallet is guaranteed to lose weight. You're not. And isn't Koop's Shape-Up America a non-profit? Shape-Up America is now competing with Jenny Craig. Koop is competing with Monica Lewinsky.

    junk grade of the day: "New Study Finds Public Earns an 'F' on 'Readiness' for Environmental Challenges of the Early 21st Century" - Americans get an 'F' for not paying attention to enviro-hysteria, according to the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation. If that's the case, Junkscience.com gives Americans an "A."

    junk of the day: "Scientists will not rule out cancer phone link" - "Austarlian scientists have been unable to rule out a connection between mobile phone use and cancer, after delivering the first findings of a $1.4 million national research programme... Professor Sykes used a specially-designed machine -- the only one of its type in Australia -- to determine whether radiation caused any lingering genetic change to specially bred mice. Professor Sykes said some of the mice were affected, and some weren't, with variations within treatment groups making the data impossible to read. 'What I'd like to do is repeat some of the experiments but my funding has run out,' she said," reports The Courier-Mail. A specially-designed machine and specially-bred mice produced useless data. And Sykes wonders where her funding went...

    Consumerdistorts.com of the day: Breast cancer screening by mamogram not justified, study says - Last October, Consumer Reports advised women in their 40s to have annual mammograms, even though this recommendation was rejected by an unbiased panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health. A new study in The Lancet (Jan. 8) questions the value of all mammographic screening. One thing is certain -- genuine controversy exists. Should women be advised by Consumer Reports or their physicians?

    commentary of the day I: "Tobacco and Freedom" - Roger Scruton writes in The Wall Street Journal Europe, "Tobacco is called an epidemic on the spurious ground that the methods used to measure its effect belong to the science of epidemiology. By a semantic trick, therefore, Mrs. Bruntland and her team have been able to classify as a dangerous disease what is, in fact, a voluntary activity and a source of pleasure, the risk of which entirely falls on the smoker. By the same reasoning we could link deaths from driving, drinking and junk food to 'epidemics,' and put cars, alcohol and McDonald's on the WHO's agenda. And no doubt there are activists waiting to do just that."

    commentary of the day II: "Junk science invades psychiatry" - Martha A. Churchill writes in The Detroit News, "Lots of crazy fads circulate these days among mental health professionals, and even the most respected professional organizations do nothing about it. The Legislature should not grant "parity" to mental health providers who could use these fraudulent treatments on unsuspecting patients."

    cartoon of the day: From Henry Payne, in The Detroit News

    scare of the day: "Poison soccer strip alert" - "Sportswear giant Nike is investigating claims that its soccer shirts contain a highly toxic chemical believed to disrupt human hormones," reports The Express.

    victory of the day: "Tobacco Companies Win Dismissal of California Claims " - "Philip Morris Cos. and three other tobacco companies persuaded a state judge to dismiss claims by two California cities that the industry failed to warn non-smokers about the dangers of secondhand smoke," reports Bloomberg. R.J. Reynolds media release

    "OSHA vs. Telecommuting" - The Chicago Tribune editorializes, "Facing a storm of criticism, Labor Secretary Alexis Herman has backed away from a letter put out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that says employers are obligated to assure safe working conditions for employees who work from home. But she has yet to say whether the policy has been rescinded. It should be, as befits one of the most harebrained ideas to come from Washington in years." Other commentaries: Dallas Morning News | San Jose Mercury News

    "The News? Nothing Happened" - Alan Caruba's weekly "Warning Signs" column.

    "Breast Implant Ruling Appealed" - "Dow Corning Corp. and lawyers for women who sued the company over silicone breast implants appealed Thursday to a federal judge to overturn a ruling they said could unravel the complicated settlement plan," reports Associated Press. Dow Corning media release

    "Monsanto says doing all it can for GM foods" - "Monsanto Co. said Thursday it is doing everything possible to gain public acceptance of genetically modified (GM) crops, dubbed ``Frankenstein Foods'' in Europe, amid concerns over food safety," reports Reuters.

    "Bob Carr's doomsday warnings" - "While NSW smiled and partied its way into 2000, Premier Bob Carr saw a planet collapsing under the weight of its burgeoning population. Yesterday the Premier issued a New Year wake-up call, warning humanity could be wiped out this century by overpopulation, pollution and global warming... Mr Carr's comments were also challenged by experts on population and environmental issues. Institute of Public Affairs's Mike Nahan said Mr Carr had nothing to worry about, and predictions about overpopulation had already been proven wrong." Opposing Sydney Morning Herald editorial

    "Cocktail of toxins in us all" - "The Express today calls on the Government to review the use of hundreds of toxic chemicals widely employed in Britain."

    January 6, 2000

    book review of the day: "Earth Report 2000" - Rober Bate reviews the new book Earth Report 2000: Revisiting The True State of The Planet in The Wall Street Journal Europe. Earth Report 2000 is available from the Junkscience.com Store at the lowest price around.

    cartoon of the day/today's Gore-ing: From Henry Payne, in the Detroit News

    commentary of the day: "They'll tax your cheeseburger and lecture you to boot; The Fat Patrol is closing in" - Joanne Jacobs writes in The San Jose Mercury News, "First they came for the cigarettes. Now they're after your chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. And they won't be satisfied till you're eating broccoli -- hold the hollandaise -- and trudging on the treadmill to nowhere."

    junk commentary of the day: "The doomsday millennium" - Bob Carr, the Premier of New South Wales, presses the environment panic button in this Sydney Morning Herald commentary. "Bob Carr" must be Australian for "Al Gore."

    OSHA telecommuting advisory round-up:

    • "Home-office police" - The Washington Times editorializes, "If Americans want to continue using the information superhighway as they wish, they better tell the Clinton administration they don't need any more directions from OSHA on how to get there."

    • "Servants of OSHA" - Ken Smith writes in The Washington Times, "Alexis Herman need not fear any 'dialogue' with a people of servants. Her action is one more reminder of the danger of allowing the government to shepherd the American people anywhere, including their home offices."

    • "Bureaucrats Look Homeward" - The Los Angeles Times editorializes, "This episode stands as a shining example of bureaucratic thinking at its worst: rule-making without any thought of how the real world works. Canceling the memo does not erase the time and money spent on it or restore OSHA's lost credibility."
    • "OSHA'S Tele-Furor" - The Washington Post editorializes, "It took the Department of Labor all of 24 hours to figure out something was seriously wrong with its antediluvian take on telecommuting, the popular and quickly spreading practice of allowing employees to do their jobs from home."

    • "Labor Chief Retreats on Home Offices" - The Washington Post reports on OSHA's decision not to treat home offices like OSHA-regulated workplaces.

    • "The Intruders" - The Wall Street Journal comments,

      "Yesterday the Labor Department withdrew OSHA's wacko plan to impose its rules on home workers--sending out Ghost Busters to monitor Dilbert's third-floor 'work station.' Even as she hoisted the white flag, Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said, 'We need a national dialogue on this subject.' Sorry, we're penciled in to watch a basketball game.

      Meanwhile, Andrew Cuomo has the HUD legal bulldozers rumbling over to Fannie Mae, demanding to see whether its underwriting software is violating fair-lending standards. Before Christmas Mr. Cuomo belly-slammed into the middle of New York City's fight over putting the homeless to work. About that time, the President himself grandly told suburbanites he's imposing new pollution rules on their sports utility flotilla.

      Despite all the talk about the New Democrat 12-Step program to smaller government, these are the truer instincts now emerging--intrude, give orders, force compliance, sue anyone who objects. They haven't changed."

    "Companies begin to think green" - "The next company to feel the pressure from the greens and their allies will be Exxon Mobil. On Friday several religious groups, which say they hold more than $100bn in stock, will announce a campaign to get the world's largest oil company out of the GCC," reports The Financial Times.

    "Activists have drowned out message of biotech food safety" - Carl B. Feldbaum, President of the Biotechnology Industry Organisation, comments in The Financial Times, "If we have learned anything from the discussions in Europe and the US about biotech crops and foods, it is that consumers want reassurance that foods improved through biotechnology are safe. The fact they are safe is a message that, to some extent, has been drowned out by anti-technology activists screaming about dangers even they acknowledge are unproven."

    "A sunburnt country gets even warmer" - "It's not your imagination: Australia really is getting warmer, with new figures showing that the 1990s were the hottest decade last century. The Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre data showed that Australia's mean annual temperature rose 0.8 degrees between 1910 and 1999, to 28.43 degrees." reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

    "Feeding the world remains a monumental challenge" - "World hunger persists, despite three years of bin-bursting harvests. Nearly one out of seven people still lack enough to eat. And the challenge of feeding the world's children in the next 30 years looks to be as difficult as it did in the 1960s," reports the Christian Science Monitor News Service.

    "Hollywood defends smoking on screen" - "Hollywood actors and actresses say that smoking on screen is justified if it portrays realism, according to research," reports the BBC.

    "FDA Finalizes Rules for Claims on Dietary Supplements" - "FDA today published its final rule that defines the types of statements that can be made concerning the effect of a dietary supplement on the structure or function of the body pursuant to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA)."

    "U.S Study Finds Contamination From G.E. Plants Extends Farther in Hudson" - "Releasing the final installment in its eight-year study of Hudson River pollution, the federal Environmental Protection Agency moved significantly closer yesterday to ordering a costly cleanup of buried PCB's, toxic chemicals dumped for decades at two old General Electric factories in the river's northern reaches," reports The New York Times. Michael Fumento's related Forbes article.

    "Mortality and Air Pollution: Associations Persist with Continued Advances in Research Methodology" - From the August '98 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives: "In this issue... there are papers by Fairley, Neas et al., and Lee and Schwartz. Although these papers present different approaches, they provide a reasonable representation of state-of-the-art epidemiologic research that evaluates daily changes in mortality and air pollution." The problem is not the statistical methodlogy used to analyze the epidemiologic data. The problem is the data, which is suspect. Worse, Schwartz et al. won't let any independent scientists scrutinize the data.

    "Labor withdraws letter on at-home workers" - " Facing a barrage of criticism, Labor Secretary Alexis Herman Wednesday withdrew a federal interpretation letter saying that companies’ normal workplace safety obligations also apply to employees who do their work at home," reports MSNBC. Sen. Bond's media release

    "Asthma allergens prevalent in US elementary schools" - "Nearly 3 out of every 4 Texas elementary school classrooms contain high levels of four or more allergens known to be triggers for asthma, researchers report," reports Reuters.

    "Move Over, Tomatoes! All Vegetables - Especially the Cruciferous Kind - May Prevent Prostate Cancer" - The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center actually recommends that men eat cruciferous vegetables to prevent prostate cancer -- based on a lone study of suspect quality (see the Jan. 5 news for my write-up.)

    "French beef ban case begins after paperwork hitch" - "Legal action against France over the British beef ban was formally launched yesterday when the European Commission's dossier of evidence finally arrived at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg," reports The Independent.

    "Bradley Proposal to Cut Government Subsidies for Polluters Draws High Praise from Environmentalists" - Friends of the Earth says, "Speaking at a New Hampshire luncheon yesterday, Bill Bradley announced that he would work aggressively to reduce government subsidies that reward practices harmful to the environment."

    "Friends of the Earth Action Launches Project to Spotlight Rep. DeLay's Environmental Record" - Friends of the Earth announces, "The 'Tom DeLay Watch' project, www.delaywatch.org, has already begun to draw considerable attention in DeLay's district to his abysmal environmental voting record."

    "Poll Shows Americans Want More Done on Environment" - From the Clean Air Trust.

    January 5, 2000

    programming notes: Catch the Junkman on radio -

    "The Great Egg Panic" - "New government proposals designed to check salmonella poisoning could force routine pasteurization or irradiation of the American egg supply. However, the plans are derided as political window dressing by some of the nation's leading specialists in salmonella and eggs. They challenge the plans' root assumptions, from characterization of the pathogen, to numbers of people supposedly sickened, to what should be done that could actually improve food safety," reports The Los Angeles Times.

    junk of the day I: "Broccoli, not pizza sauce, cuts cancer risk -study" - "Eating lots of broccoli, or even coleslaw, may help protect men from prostate cancer, but consuming tomato products probably will not, researchers said on Tuesday," reports Reuters.

    • I debunked the alleged protective effect of tomato products in a published letter to the New York Post last February.

    • Click for the table of study results.

    • The new study is a case-control study, the most unreliable epidemiologic study design. The results are not part of a well-controlled experiment.

    • The spotlighted result, 41 percent less prostate cancer among men consuming 3 or more servings per week of cruciferous vegetables as compared with men consuming less than 1 serving per week, is a weak statistical association -- i.e., less than a 50 percent protective effect. For a protective effect to begin to have credibility in a case-control study, it should be at least 50 percent in size.

    • The 95 percent confidence interval for the spotlighted result is comparatively wide (0.39 to 0.90) -- and gets wider as more confounding risk factors are considered. (A 1.0 upper limit on the confidence interval makes the result statistically insignificant). Since no one knows what causes prostate cancer, it can hardly be said that all confounders -- or even all the important ones -- were considered.

    • The alleged 16 percent protective effect for consuming 1 to 2.9 servings of cruciferous vegetables per week is not statistically significant. So there really is no "trend" of less risk with greater consumption of cruciferous vegetables.

    • Dietary data were self-reported -- based on memory recall of food consumption as much as 5 years earlier. I frankly don't recall how much broccoli I ate 5 years ago. I doubt any of the study subjects know with reasonable certainty either. Further, the study design assumes that only the dietary data within 5 years of cancer diagnosis is relevant -- a significant bias.

    • The study group consisted of men under 65 years of age -- a group that has 4 times less prostate cancer than men 65 or older. Cancer in "younger" men could be due to genetic susceptibility -- a risk factor not controlled in this study.
    Certainly broccoli, coleslaw, cabbage, sauerkraut, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are part of a "balanced" diet. But don't rely on them to prevent prostate cancer based on this study.

    junk of the day II: "Lawmaker urges safer pesticide use in schools" - "Gaps in government health and safety rules may threaten children whose developing bodies are especially vulnerable to pesticides used in many schools to control insects, federal officials said Tuesday," reports Reuters. Click for my thoughts on pesticide use in schools.

    junk of the day III: "Fertilizers linked to amphibian deaths" - "Researchers have discovered that a level of nitrogen-based compounds which the EPA says is safe for human drinking water - a level often found in agricultural areas as a result of using crop fertilizers - is enough to kill some species of amphibians. A new study at Oregon State University, just published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, has shown that several frog, toad and other amphibian species, especially at their more vulnerable larval stages, can be highly susceptible to fairly low levels of nitrate and nitrite exposure."

    • In the first place, this study reports nothing new. Excessive levels of nitrates/nitrites in water are well-known to be toxic to aquatic life. Researcher Andrew Blaustein didn't measure nitrites and nitrates in pond water and then link high levels with amphibian deaths in the wild. So I'm not sure what the news is here.

    • Click for Michael Gough's thoughts on some of Blaustein's earlier research.

    • Blaustein is a hysteric who thinks that frogs are early warning systems of environmental damage. But researchers recently stated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging and Infectiuous Diseases,

      "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." [Source: "Emerging Infectious Diseases and Amphibian Population Declines," Emerging and Infectious Diseases, Vol. 5, No. 6 | November-December.]

    "Americans Turn to Lawyers To Cure Nation's Social Ills" - The Wall Street Journal reports on how trial lawyers are bypassing the democratic process to effect social change.

    "Swiss Scientists Decode Protein Linked to CJD" - "Swiss scientists said Tuesday they had decoded the three-dimensional structure of the human prion protein, moving one step closer to unraveling the cause of the deadly Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease," reports Reuters.

    "Increased intake of vitamin B12 reduces risk of cancer: CSIRO" - "New CSIRO research shows that eating three times the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 and folate reduces DNA damage, which could lessen the risk of heart disease and cancer," reports the ABC.

    "Biotechnology's watchdogs bare their teeth" - "A case against a US group allegedly trying to corner the seed trade is part of a drive against genetically modified foods, writes Henry Miller ."

    "Retailers dropping bio-foods" - "The USA's two largest natural foods retailers are stripping their shelves of many genetically engineered foods, prompting manufacturers and supermarkets to keep an eye out for a biotech backlash among consumers," reports USA Today (Jan. 4).

    "Great Balls of Fire" - Mother Jones reports on litigation involving Washington State prisoners whose testicles were radiated in science experiments.

    January 4, 2000

    "Union Tobacco Ruling Bodes Well for DOJ Suit" - "U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler's ruling last month supporting union health funds in their RICO suit against the tobacco industry did more than breathe new life into labor's case. It has potentially more ominous implications for the tobacco industry Kessler is also presiding over the Justice Department's massive suit against cigarette makers," reports the Law News Network.

    "Motorists speed more, but fewer die; Better roads, safer cars cited for the drop in fatalities in Michigan and the nation" - "Thanks in large part to the removal of trees and other objects near freeways and better lighting, the national crash fatality rate, determined by the number of fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles driven, has fallen by 11 percent since the United States lifted the national 55 mph speed limit in 1995," reports The Detroit News.

    "Eco-agenda for the 21st century" - From MSNBC: "What will be the most critical environmental issues of the 21st century? A group of leading environmentalists was recently asked by the nonprofit Environment Media Services to offer their predictions. Here are summaries of what they see as the most pressing global issues."

    study of the day: "Are Gulf War Veterans Suffering War-related Illnesses? Federal and Civilan Hospitalizations Examined, June 1991 to December 1994" - Among hospitalized veterans, Gulf War veterans are not suffering more illness than veterans not deployed in the Gulf War theater, reports a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Jan 1). The study included almost 100,000 hospitalized Gulf War veteran treated in Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and California hospitals and was conducted by U.S. Navy and Department of Veterans Affairs researchers. Click for the table summarizing the results.

    commentary of the day: "The Y2K bug: We're working on it" - Terry Corocran writes in The National Post, "The Y2K spending effort is small potatoes compared with the massive regulatory and spending effort building around global warming. Bigger and more powerful task forces are at work on plans to cool the planet. Most of this scare is also a computer game, one based on less scientific fact than the original Y2K problem. At least Y2K was a genuine computer repair job. Global warming is a hypothetical scare, based on a theory that has been fed into computer models that purport to predict climate conditions over the next 50 to 100 years. With no deadline in sight, the global warming scare is capable of inflicting real damage."

    junk commentary of the day: "The bleeding of a medical journal" - The Boston Globe whines that commercialization will jeopardize The New England Journal of Medicine -- "the preeminent medical publication in the world," according to The Globe. But the NEJM publishes its fair share of junk science. The NEJM rushed to publication the alarmist report that started fen-phen hysteria. It continually provides a forum for the perpetual junk science machine known as the Nurses Health Study -- unverified epidemiologic data usually serving as the basis for weak statistical associations that are promoted without qualification. The NEJM is doing its best to scare the public about trans fatty acids. The editors have refused to stand by politically incorrect opinion articles. Will commercialization hurt the NEJM? Hurt what? Its editors long ago decided good PR is more important than quality content.

    regulatory over-reaching of the day: "OSHA covers at-home workers" - "Companies that allow employees to work at home are responsible for federal health and safety violations that occur at the home work site, according to a Labor Department advisory," reports The Washington Post.

    "Male order study seeks the truth about sperm" - "Scottish men are being asked to put their sperm in the post as part of a fertility survey. Scientists at the Medical Research Council's reproductive biology unit in Edinburgh are seeking volunteers to help them to establish whether sperm quality is declining," reports The Times.

    "Storms That Surprised Europe Show Forecast Limits" - Not surprisingly, The New York Times' William K. Stevens links the recent storms in Europe with global warming.

    "Enzyme linked to defects, miscarriages" - "New Canadian research might explain why millions of women suffer from miscarriages and give birth to babies with defects," reports The National Post.

    "EU to start legal action over French beef ban" - "The European Commission will open legal proceedings against France later on Monday over the French ban on imports of British beef," reports Reuters.

    "'Top Climate Events' Linked to Solar Motion Cycle " - Theodor Landscheidt has new piece of evidence for the strength of solar forcing.

    "Arctic ice: Might global warming make some of us colder?" - "Dr. Rothrock and two colleagues from the University of Washington's Polar Research Center recently published a 4-page paper in a relatively obscure journal called Geophysical Research Letters. But the findings in that brief paper won worldwide attention in media like the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and CNN. Not bad for data jockeys. Why all the attention? Turns out, Arctic ice is getting pretty thin, " reports CNN.

    "Is the environment hurting men?" - CNN reports the claim that chemicals in the environment are causing lower sperms counts. Click for criticism of this theory.

    "Immediate health care savings if pregnant women quit smoking, says UCSF study" - The latest from Stan Glantz: "Anti-smoking programs, if effective, would immediately pay for themselves by reducing the number of low birth weight babies and cutting the incidence of heart disease, according to a new study by UC San Francisco researchers. The evidence on low birth weight babies adds to a 1997 report by the researchers projecting significant short-term health care savings from reduced incidence of stroke and heart attacks if smoking is cut just one percent."

    "Backyard burning identified as potential major source of dioxins" - "A family of four burning trash in a barrel in their backyard - still a common practice in many rural areas - can potentially put as much dioxin and furan into the air as a well-controlled municipal waste incinerator serving tens of thousands of households, according to a new study."

    "Growing evidence of widespread GMO contamination" - "Now that millions of tests have been conducted in response to escalating worldwide concern over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, it is increasingly clear that GMO contamination of conventionally grown food is a serious issue. Ultimately, it may trigger legal action," reports Environmental Science and Technology.

    "Most recent natural disasters were not the century's worst, USGS says" - "Killer landslides in Venezuela and Mexico. Devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan. Massive floods along the East Coast of the United States. Nature has dealt staggering blows to the Earth and its people in 1999. But these were not the worst disasters of the century, either in the power of the events or in the loss of life and property that they caused."

    "Eliminating cardiovascular disease would increase U.S. life expectancy by seven years" - "If all major forms of heart and blood vessel disease were eliminated, U.S. life expectancy would rise by almost seven years and the nation would be more than $300 billion richer, according to the American Heart Association's 2000 Heart and Stroke Statistical Update, an annual report released today."

    "Tobacco still a major problem among U.S. teens and around the globe, according to American Heart Association statistical update" - "The president of the American Heart Association today called attention to two alarming trends in tobacco use: Smoking is on the increase among U.S. teens and smoking-related deaths around the globe are expected to triple in the coming century."

    "Cancer rates rising" - "Cancer experts say more people than ever before are now likely to develop the disease at some time, but the chances of survival are also increasing," reports the BBC.

    January 3, 2000

    media wake-up call: blame isn't science: Agent Orange crusade spotlighted uncritically in Zumwalt's obituary - The death of Adm. Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. is reported in today's newspapers (New York Times | Washington Post | Associated Press). Zumwalt blamed his son's cancers, lymphoma and Hodgkin's Disease (HD), on exposure to Agent Orange. But blame is not the same as science:

    • "We studied cancer prevalence and exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin (dioxin) in veterans of Operation Ranch Hand, the Air Force unit responsible for the aerial spraying of herbicides in Vietnam from 1962 to 1971... Overall, we found no consistent evidence of a dose-response gradient and no significant increase in cancer risk in the High dioxin exposure category, the subgroup of greatest a priori interest." [Am J Epidemiol 1999 Apr 1;149(7):630-9].

    • Visintainer et al. reported non-significant associations for non-Hodgin's lymphoma (32 deaths) and Hodgkin's Disease (20 deaths) in Michigan Vietnam vets. [J Occup Environ Med 1995 Apr;37(4):423-8]

    • "Military service in Vietnam was not associated with any significant increase in the risk of HD (adjusted odds ratio = 1.28; 95% confidence interval = 0.94, 1.76). Surrogate measures of potential Agent Orange exposure such as service in a specific military branch, in a certain region within Vietnam, in a combat role, or extended Vietnam service time were not associated with any significant increased risk of HD." [Ann Epidemiol 1995 Sep;5(5):400-6].

    • "Service in Vietnam did not increase the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma either in general (branch adjusted odds ratio = 1.03, 95% confidence interval = 0.70- 1.50) or with increased latency period as defined as the duration in years from first service in Vietnam to hospital discharge. Surrogate measures of potential Agent Orange exposure such as service in a specific military branch, in a certain region within Vietnam, or in a combat role as determined by military occupational speciality were not associated with any increased risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." [J Occup Med 1991 Jul;33(7):774-9].

    • "As part of a series of investigations into the health of Vietnam veterans, we conducted case-control studies involving 310 men with Hodgkin's disease, 48 with nasal carcinoma, 80 with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, 130 with primary liver cancer, and 1776 controls between 1984 and 1988... These results provide no evidence that, 15 to 25 years following service in Vietnam, the risk of these malignant neoplasms is higher among veterans." [Arch Intern Med 1990 Dec;150(12):2495-505].

    Consumerdistorts.com of the day: Milk and hormones - The January 2000 issue of Consumer Reports says that organic milk is not safer than regular milk, including milk from cows treated with bovine growth hormone. But just six months ago, Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, commended the U.N.'s main food safety body for not endorsing the safety of bovine growth hormone. Wha's going on? Check out the new addition to Consumerdistorts.com on milk and hormones.

    commentary of the day: "Y2K didn't crash the EPA's dirty schemes" - Bonner R. Cohen writes in The Washington Times (Jan. 2), "Wouldn't it be nice to start out the new millennium secure in the knowledge we had turned our backs once and for all on mind-boggling schemes dreamed up by Washington bureaucrats? A report by the Texas-based Institute for Policy Innovation and the Lexington Institute provides no such comfort. Titled "Big Government, Bad Science: 10 Case Studies in Regulatory Abuse," it throws cold water on any ideas that Leviathan has been put in its place or gotten any wiser over the years."

    "Primaries mobilise green brigade" - "Ten new players this week slipped unnoticed into Iowa and New Hampshire, where the party primary races for president are moving into high gear. The 10 environmental activists-in-training are sometimes called "green mercenaries". As members of the Green Corps, a Boston based non-profit organisation, they have been contracted out to Ozone Action, a Washington DC group. Their mission: to push global warming to the forefront of campaign issues," reports The Financial Times.

    'must read' of the day: Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet - 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. The book is a calm and rational examination of what we do know, and what we don’t know, concerning the ecology of the planet. These issues are not only relevant to current debate, but are also hotly debated in the scientific community. You can purchase Earth Report 2000 at the Junkscience.com store for only $14.00 plus shipping and handling.

    "France keeps beef ban and sues Europe" - "The crisis in Anglo-French relations deepened yesterday when France announced that it will retain its ban on British beef and take the European Commission to court over its decision to end the trade blockade," reports The Independent (Dec. 31).

    "Monsanto & The Future of Ag Biotech Stocks Report" - "Sano Shimoda, President and Founder of BioScience Securities Inc., examines the outlook for Monsanto & the Future of Ag Biotech in this timely and deeply informative 4,200-word interview from The Wall Street Transcript."

    scare of the day: "Self-copying paper, photocopying linked to health problems" - "Another reason to take an extra long holiday break this year: Some commonly used office items -- carbonless (self-copying) paper, photocopiers, display terminals -- can cause a range of health problems, results of a study suggest," reports Reuters (Dec. 24).

    "Organic food 'proven' healthier " - "Researchers say there is now firm evidence that organically-grown produce is healthier to eat than conventional crops," reports Reuters.

    January 1, 2000 -- Happy New Year!

    junk science of the 20th century: The DDT ban - I've scrupulously avoided the list-itis that plagues editors at the end of the year. But an editorial in today's' Detroit News spurred me to make one end-of-the-century selection. The Detroit News commented,"Rachel Carson, a media icon for her book Silent Spring, which led to a ban on the pesticide DDT, is making many 'Persons of the Century' lists this week. Unspoken in these tributes, however, is that mosquito-borne malaria is actually one of the few diseases on the rise at the dawn of the new millennium - in large part due to the Carson-inspired ban on DDT."

    For my money, the attack on DDT, from Carson's Silent Spring to the ban by the Environmental Protection Agency, is the mother of all junk science and, therefore, "junk science of the 20th century." Here are a few reasons why. More info on DDT can be found in "100 Things You Should Know About DDT."

    • A committee of the National Academy of Sciences wrote in 1970, "To only a few chemicals does man owe as great a debt as to DDT... Indeed, it is estimated that, in little more than two decades, DDT has prevented 500 million deaths due to malaria that would otherwise have been inevitable."

    • DDT was not banned because there was evidence it harmed wildlife or humans. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency administrative law judge who listened to 9,000 pages of testimony over seven months concluded, ""DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man... DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man... The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."

    • Despite the findings of the EPA judge, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972. Ruckelshaus never attended a single hour of the seven months of EPA hearings on DDT. His aides reported he did not even read the transcript of the EPA hearings on DDT. Ruckleshaus was a member and fundraiser for the Environmental Defense Fund -- a group who -- according to a deposition in a federal lawsuit -- conspired to discredit the scientists who defended DDT.

    But it gets even more sinister.

    Population control advocates blamed DDT for increasing third world population. In the 1960s, World Health Organization authorities believed there was no alternative to the overpopulation problem but to assure than up to 40 percent of the children in poor nations would die of malaria. As an official of the Agency for International Development stated, "Rather dead than alive and riotously reproducing."

    DDT should be hailed as one of the greatest achievements in public health. Instead, unscrupulous activists have made it the poster child for the environmental apocalypse.

    Let's hope that in the 21st century our society comes to realize that genocide by junk science is no different than genocide by the gas chamber.