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Archives - June 2001

June 29, 2001

"Bleeding N.Y.C. - For Profit" - "WHY is the American Red Cross trying to reduce New York City's blood supply by 25 percent? Why does state Health Commissioner Dr. Antonia Novello support such a move?

The answers are most unappealing. For the Red Cross, the answer appears to lie with its financial difficulties. For Novello, the answer is an inability to distinguish real from theoretical risks - topped off by bureaucratic peer pressure." (Steve Milloy, New York Post)

"Animal Rights, Research Wrongs" - "Actress Mary Tyler Moore this week movingly challenged a U.S. Senate subcommittee to do more in the struggle against juvenile diabetes. Ms. Moore suffers from juvenile diabetes and chairs the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Children's Congress.

But another of Ms. Moore's charitable affiliations — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — is trying to block the type of research efforts she so desperately advocates and has even branded her own organization unworthy of financial backing for its support of biomedical research." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

Reminder: John Stossel Challenges the Doomsayers' Warnings on Genetic Engineering, Human Cloning and Global Warming, in a One-Hour Special, Tampering with Nature with John Stossel.

Tampering with Nature airs tonight, 10-11 p.m. ET on the ABC Television Network.

"Burger King Adopts Strict Animal Welfare Requirements" - "The Burger King Corporation has adopted strict guidelines and audits for the humane handling of food animals and is petitioning the USDA enforce the federal Humane Slaughter Act. Burger King said its new guidelines will require the company’s suppliers to adhere to the strictest standards in the industry in the care, housing, transport and slaughter of cattle, swine and poultry." (AgWeb.com)

"Children ignore mobile phone advice" - "A study of children and mobile phone use has found that some spend up to 45 minutes a day making calls. Last year the government's Stewart Report warned against children using mobiles because of the unknown effects of microwave radiation on developing brains. But the study, by the Centre for Science Education at Sheffield Hallam University, found that 90% of the under-16s own a mobile and one in 10 spend more than 45 minutes a day using it." (BBC Online) | Children ignoring mobile phone dangers (Telegraph)

"Power lines 'doubled leukaemia risk'" - "Children exposed to emissions from power lines and electrical appliances could face a doubled risk of developing leukaemia, the World Health Organisation has found.

Australian authorities are expected to issue suggestions for concerned parents in the next few weeks as the new findings back concerns voiced in recent British and United States studies.

In a review issued yesterday, the organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that magnetic fields generated by electrical currents were possible carcinogens. This was based on a link between an increased risk of leukaemia and high exposure to fields around electrical wiring.

Scientists said the findings were statistical, not medical, and the cause of childhood leukaemia remained a mystery. Animal tests had not shown any evidence that magnetic radiation caused cancer." (Canberra Times)

"Davis Throws Switch on New Plant; Calif. Governor Touts Power Facility as 'Beginning of the End' of Shortages" - "FELLOWS, Calif. June 27 -- In the hot and dusty scrublands here, Gov. Gray Davis today ceremoniously flipped the start switch for the first new power plant to be constructed in California in nearly 13 years -- an early but important sign that the state may be easing away from its ongoing energy crisis." (Washington Post)

"FACTBOX - Details of Bush energy legislation proposal" - "WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush submitted a legislative proposal to Congress yesterday, outlining more than a dozen measures to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil with by boosting domestic supplies, modernizing pipelines and electricity grids, and encouraging energy efficiency." (Reuters)

"Health cost of vehicle emissions substantial, conference told" -"The health cost of vehicle emissions was similar to that of road crashes, a clean air conference was told on Thursday. The risk to individuals was low, but the whole population was exposed and the total effect was likely to be substantial, Professor Alistair Woodward said.

Studies in Europe and the United States indicated health costs of vehicle-related air pollution were at least as great as road crashes, Professor Woodward said. Air pollution caused more deaths, though fewer years of life were lost because many victims were elderly, he said." (Dominion)

"Puerto Rico Shells Out for Big Guns" - "Who is getting what client is a favorite topic among Washington lobbyists. What their competitors are getting paid is even more fascinating to them.

So they can thank Kenneth McClintock, minority leader of the Puerto Rico Senate, for providing copies of contracts between the island's government and some Washington lawyers and lobbyists. McClintock, a member of the pro-statehood party, thinks Gov. Sila Calderon is spending too much on lobbying to get the Navy to stop its bombing exercises on the island of Vieques.

According to the contract papers, Puerto Rico is paying Winston & Strawn as much as $500,000 from Jan. 29 through June 30; Covington & Burling, as much as $300,000; and BKSH & Associates, as much as $250,000." (Washington Post)

"Pesticide bylaw upheld by Court" - "OTTAWA -- A Quebec municipality can regulate pesticide use, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday in a decision that environmentalists and municipalities alike called history-making.

The decision to uphold a bylaw in the Montreal-area community of Hudson has broad implications for the use of pesticides across Canada, and for municipalities' right to regulate themselves.

"It is reasonable to conclude that the town bylaw's purpose is to minimize the use of allegedly harmful pesticides in order to promote the health of its inhabitants," Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube wrote for the court." (CP)

"Environmental group to sue EPA" - "WASHINGTON -- An environmental group is taking the Bush administration to court over its decision to suspend tighter arsenic standards for drinking water that had been adopted by former President Clinton. The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator, Christie Whitman, for ignoring a June 22 congressional deadline for having a new plan to reduce arsenic levels." (AP)

"Charity Is New Force in Environmental Fight" - "PHILADELPHIA — From a suite of offices in a high-rise here, a $4.8 billion foundation called the Pew Charitable Trusts has quietly become not only the largest grant maker to environmental causes, but also one that controls much more than the purse strings.

Unlike many philanthropies that give to conservationist groups, Pew has been anything but hands-off, serving as the behind-the-scenes architect of highly visible recent campaigns to preserve national forests and combat global warming. Though some of its money goes to long-established groups, Pew has also created its own organizations, with names like the National Environmental Trust and the Heritage Forest Campaign." (New York Times)

"Court hands victory to property owners" - "In a major victory for private-property owners nationwide, the US Supreme Court has dramatically expanded the ability to receive government compensation when regulations impact the value or use of land." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Court Issues Split Marshland Ruling" - "WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Rhode Island man has the right to challenge the state's prohibition on development of his coastal marshland property, but stopped short of ruling he was owed compensation for claimed economic losses.

The splintered ruling in Anthony Palazzolo's 40-year struggle to build on the land left each side of the property-rights issue - conservatives and officials of Rhode Island - with something to boast." (AP)

"Cranberry juice reduces urinary tract infections in women" - "Regular drinking of cranberry juice seems to reduce the recurrence of urinary tract infections in women, concludes a study in this week's BMJ." (British Medical Journal release)

"Big baby plus large parents equals big teens" - "NEW YORK, Jun 28 - A teenager's odds of being overweight seem to begin in the womb, but parents' body size makes a significant difference in whether big babies become big teens, researchers in Finland have found. Still, they say, it is unclear whether genes or the family environment make the greater contribution to children's weight." (Reuters Health)

"Group wants FDA to label "phantom fat" in foods" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 28 -The group once responsible for urging food processors to use trans fat instead of saturated fats is now petitioning the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize a proposal that would unveil the "phantom fat" in processed foods.

On Wednesday, the Center for Science in Public Interest (CSPI) sent a letter to the FDA, urging the government to finalize a proposed regulation that would outline the amount of trans fat in their foods.

Trans fat is formed when vegetable oils are processed to make them more stable and solid. They are found in margarine, baked goods and other processed foods, and are used by restaurants for frying. The use of trans fats became popular in the late 1960s, after saturated fats were conclusively linked to an increased risk of heart disease." (Reuters Health)

"China Seen Headed for U.S. Coronory Problems" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - While obesity is not yet a problem, China's transition from a rural to increasingly Westernized society is likely to lead to an epidemic of heart ailments brought on by fatty diets, smoking and other factors, experts predicted on Thursday.

That prospect was discussed by Chinese and U.S. epidemiologists gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who warned action is needed to discourage or even outlaw some unhealthy lifestyle choices associated with economic modernization." (Reuters)

"Discovery heralds way for plants to survive drought" - "Scientists have found out how plants open and close their stomata - the tiny pores through which they breathe. The discovery could open the way for genetically engineered crops which could survive drought. The ``biological Morse code`` used by plants to control the stomata is described in Nature today by Gethyn Allen and Julian Schroeder from the University of California, San Diego and colleagues from Munich and Tubingen in Germany." (Guardian)

"Researchers Study Milk from Cloned Dairy Cows" - "The world's first herd of cloned dairy cows is producing milk at the Wisconsin-based Infigen Inc. farms, where the animals will be used for research and to demonstrate the viability of cloned dairy animals in a commercial environment.

The 18 cloned, two-year-old cows began production following calving, beginning in December 2000. Their milk will be evaluated and compared with milk from non-cloned Holsteins, as a part of the company's research with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)." (AgWeb.com)

"EU food industry concerned over GMO label rules" - "BRUSSELS, June 28 - European industry representatives said on Thursday that food completely free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) was almost impossible and EU draft labelling rules were both unenforceable and costly." (Reuters)

"Court victories for GM crop rebels put CPS on the spot" - "The crown prosecution service promised last night to continue with criminal proceedings against protesters who damage genetically modified crops, despite losing a major case for the third time in a year. Prosecutors said they would treat all cases of alleged damage to GM fields on their merit and bring charges if they felt that such action was in the public interest." (Guardian)

"The big civil-disobedience-thing, cha-cha…" - "Each week on his HBO show, Saturday Night Live alumnus and Monday Night Football broadcaster Dennis Miller weighs in on current events with remarkable candor. Taking stock of the goings-on in San Diego, and perhaps preparing for an upcoming interview with the Sierra Club's Carl Pope, Miller notes this week: "Civil disobedience is the greatest engine for change the world has ever known. However, all that today's so-called civil disobedient seems to be protesting is boredom and guilt over having well-off parents, while killing time between Dave Matthews concerts. Throwing a chair through the window of Starbucks because you disapprove of their treatment of coffee pickers in South America is juvenile." [note: this site contains adult language]" (GuestChoice.com)

"Cottoned On; Government scared of fashionable green lobby" - "The recent India visit by personable Greenpeace activists protesting genetically modified (GM) crops inevitably attracted some media attention. It seemed to have caught official attention, too. For, nearly coinciding with the visit was the environment ministry decision to postpone commercial clearance for a GM crop — transgenic Bt cotton. The ministry committee on genetic engineering has asked for one more year of field trials, to be held under the guidance of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Just what the ICAR boffins will discover over and above the data collected by three years of trials is more difficult to understand than a primer on genetics." (Statesman)

"Could biotech help the environment?" - "Protesters call biotechnology a ticking time bomb for the environment. In fact, researchers are finding the technology may help the environment if it's judiciously used. Already, it's saving energy in factories, reducing pesticide use in some crops, and replacing petroleum-based products, such as polyester, with renewable ones, like so-called "green plastics." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Korea says food processors used Starlink corn" - "SEOUL, June 28 - Five South Korean companies used banned Starlink corn to make edible corn starch and they should be punished for the violations, the Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) said on Thursday." (Reuters)

Today's "climate" extortion I: "Airport passengers can pay extra tax to combat global warming" - "Passengers at Luton Airport are being asked to pay a "green tax" to help combat global warming caused by aircraft emissions.

People flying from the airport can contribute 0.2p per mile to help fund a tree planting programme around the town. The trees will soak up carbon dioxide pumped out of planes. The optional levy works out at around 69p on a flight to Edinburgh and £3.60 for a journey to Tenerife.

Future Forests, the group organising the tree planting, said the scheme was a step forward in cutting greenhouse gases created by airlines." (Ananova)

II: "World's Poor Face Rising Risk of Flood And Famine" - "GENEVA - The world's poor face a mounting threat from flood and famine, their vulnerability increased by climate change and globalization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"El Niño Repellent?" - "New satellite images of the Pacific Ocean hint that El Niño will not return this winter. Instead, La Niña-like weather patterns will persist thanks to a "Pacific Decadal Oscillation" that might also repel strong El Niños." (NASA)

"Stalagmite has climate warning" - "There were dramatic changes in the amount of radioactive carbon swirling around in the Earth's atmosphere during the last Ice Age, far greater than previously thought, scientists have found. The discovery was made by studying a half-metre-long stalagmite recovered from a now submerged cave in the Bahamas." (BBC Online)

"An Assessment Built on Guesswork" - "Scientists ask “ What if . . .?” questions in order to find out how the world operates. But the rules of science demand thorough testing and validation of the results. Otherwise it isn’t science.

On the matter of global climate change, a few scientists are making fantastic prognostications without validating the basis for their findings. A clear example is an account on the possible effects of possibly human caused global warming on the United States. The National Assessment Synthesis Team, an advisory committee to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, put together the report." (Dr. Sallie Baliunas, TechCentralStation)

"UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall to 10-Year Low" - "LONDON - Britain's emissions of greenhouse gases, blamed by many scientists for global warming, have fallen to a 10-year low mainly as a result of a drop in pollution from power stations, the government said on Thursday. Emissions from the electricity industry dropped after new clean-burning gas power stations replaced older plants fueled by coal and oil -- both big producers of carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for climate change. Gas use in generation has grown from nothing in 1990 to around 30 percent." (Reuters)

"Bush climate change programs fuel dispute" - "WASHINGTON -- The White House says it will turn over a 50-page budget-related report on climate change to Congress, but only after House Democrats demanded a full accounting. Rep. George Miller of California and 35 other Democrats had told White House budget director Mitch Daniels he must turn over any budget and planning documents related to the Bush administration's policies on global warming." (AP)

"Bush Not To Change Global Warming Policy At Talks With Koizumi" - "WASHINGTON, June 28 - A White House spokesman on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of U.S. President George W. Bush changing his policy of rejecting the 1997 international pact on global warming, in response to persuasion from Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi." (Bernama-Kyodo)

"UN climate talks show "huge" gaps, storm over US, Japan" - "THE HAGUE, June 28 - Efforts to resuscitate the UN's Kyoto Protocol on global warming exposed big differences between its parties Thursday and reignited charges that the US sought to sabotage the treaty. "The differences are huge," Swedish Environment Minister Kjell Larsson, whose country currently chairs the European Union (EU), told AFP." (AFP)

"EU Urges US to Let Other Parties Go Ahead With Kyoto Protocol" - "The European Union (EU) on Wednesday urged the United States to let other parties go ahead with the agreed Kyoto Protocol to continue the fight against global warming." (People's Daily)

"EU presses Japan on Kyoto" - "THE European Union mounted a final effort to save the Kyoto protocol on global warming yesterday with a direct appeal to Japan to ratify the accord with or without America." (The Times)

"Japan's Political Will Key In Climate Talks" - "BRUSSELS, June 28 - The European Union (EU) environment chief said Wednesday whether Japan has the political will to make upcoming U.N. climate talks a success is crucial for salvaging the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming." (Bernama-Kyodo)

June 28, 2001

"US Panel to Reconsider Mad-Cow Blood Donor Limits" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. health officials struggling with how far to restrict blood donations from people who have spent time in countries with mad cow disease will take the issue back to an outside advisory panel on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Why Veggie Diet May Reduce Heart Disease, Cancer" - "LONDON - Vegetarians may have a lower risk of heart disease and bowel cancer than meat and fish eaters because of an acid found in fruit and vegetables, Scottish scientists said on Thursday.

Like people taking low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks vegetarians have lots of salicylic acid, aspirin's main anti-inflammatory component, in their blood." (Reuters)

"Giant rain gauges reveal record of past climate" - "Scientists are investigating a mysterious decline in water levels in the crater lakes of western Victoria. Local Aboriginal people are recorded as saying 'drought came with the white man', but researchers have concluded that land-use change is probably not a factor. "These changes are definitely pre-greenhouse," says Dr Roger Jones, from CSIRO Atmospheric Research. "However there are signs that recent warming is affecting evaporation rates from the lakes." (CSIRO)

"NYU researcher unlocks mystery of recurring hole in Antarctica’s sea ice" - "Located at the southernmost tip of the Atlantic Ocean, Antarctica’s Weddell Sea is one of the most ice-covered bodies of water on the planet. During the winter, the pack ice extends well north, reaching all the way to 60°S. However, there is a recurring anomaly in this otherwise unremitting sea of ice – a huge area of open water that forms in the ice pack during the coldest part of the year. The opening is known as the "Weddell Polynya" and can occupy an area of 100,000 square miles (larger than the island of Great Britain)." (New York University)

"Urban sprawl 'mars anti-global warming efforts'" - "Sprawling towns and cities built for cars are harming the international fight to curb global warming, according to a new report. Built-up areas are helping to make road transport the fastest-growing source of carbon emissions, warming the earth's atmosphere, according to the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington DC-based research organisation." (Ananova)

"World weighs climate treaty chances" - "Delegations from more than 100 countries are meeting in The Hague to consider a compromise proposal designed to allow the Kyoto protocol on global climate change to be ratified. Following US President George Bush's decision to renounce the protocol, the two-day informal meeting is attempting to come up with a new formula that will be acceptable to a full conference next month in Bonn, Germany." (BBC Online)

"Japan opens rift with Europe over global warming" - "The international effort to save the Kyoto Protocol on global warming foundered yesterday as major differences opened up between Europe and Japan.

The Japanese government criticised a last minute European proposal aimed at salvaging the Kyoto agreement, which has been in jeopardy since President George Bush's government announced in March that it would not ratify the agreement. The Japanese Environment Minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi, said the European plan, devised by the Dutch Environment Minister, Jan Pronk, has "a lot of problems" and insisted that the treaty cannot work without American participation." (Independent)

"Japan, US to develop technology to cut CO2 emissions:" - "Japan and the United States will jointly develop technology to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide, a move Tokyo hopes will bring Washington back to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, a report said Wednesday." (AFP)

"Little Hot Air Exhausted on Capturing Carbon" - "“What goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel, got to go round.” An apt description of the carbon cycle, and one that most climate change alarmists forget about completely when contemplating policy options." (Kenneth Green, Director of Environmental Program, Reason Public Policy Institute)

"Democrats Demand Climate Documents" - "WASHINGTON - House Democrats are telling the White House it must turn over to Congress any budget and planning documents related to the Bush administration's policies on global warming. The effort is similar to pressure being brought to bear on Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force by congressional investigators who want Cheney's records as well." (AP)

"Russia seeks wider "sinks" use in climate talks" - "SCHEVENINGEN, The Netherlands, - Russia is insisting at informal climate talks that more of its forests and farmland be counted as "carbon sinks" to reduce its greenhouse gas totals, Germany's environment minister said yesterday." (Reuters)

"NZ carbon dioxide emissions rose 22 pct in '90s" - "WELLINGTON, - New Zealand, whose carbon dioxide emissions grow 22 percent in the decade of the 'nineties, is further away from its commitment to the Kyoto global warming treaty to cut greenhouse gases, the government said yesterday." (Reuters)

"EU presses Japan, US to allow deal on Kyoto" - "BRUSSELS, - The European Union's top environment official said yesterday the future of the Kyoto pact on global warming depended on the political will of Japan and the non-interference of the United States." (Reuters)

"Shelf life of UK nuclear plants may be extended" - "Construction of new nuclear power stations in the UK is unlikely in the near future despite the government's decision to put it back on the menu as part of the comprehensive energy review, industry leaders said on Tuesday." (Financial Times)

"UPDATE - House panel debates US nuclear plant liability law" - "WASHINGTON, - U.S. House lawmakers were at odds yesterday over the speed of renewing an insurance liability law that the U.S. nuclear power industry says is crucial before any new nuclear power plants can be built." (Reuters)

"A Brave New World of Cats Without Tears?" - "NEW YORK - This is not to be sneezed at. The man who cloned the first mammal in the United States -- Amy the calf -- is working on a new project, a cat that won't make allergic pet lovers miserable." (Reuters) | Entrepreneur Envisions a Cat That Doesn't Cause Allergies (New York Times)

"Public acceptance of biotech food growing: report" - "CHENNAI: Public acceptance of biotech food is growing worldwide, according to latest surveys which said people were more concerned about pesticides, packaging and tampering than genetic engineering of plants." (Times of India)

"All Aboard The Biotech Bandwagon" - "The Virginia Biotechnology Association's executive director is preparing for the group's annual conference in Alexandria, and Washington area law firms are tripping over themselves to sponsor the October event.

"We were very quickly deluged with interest. One law firm told us money is no object," says Herzog, who has already been approached by multiple firms that want to be the event's top sponsor. "It seems law firms are especially aggressive in making these connections right now." (Washington Post)

"USA: Research shows biotechnology already saving farmers billions of dollars" - "One of the first comprehensive assessments of the advantages of genetically modified crops indicates they are already saving farmers in the US billions of dollars every year. According to a report in the Financial Times newspaper, a new study suggests only consumer resistance is preventing farmers from multiplying these savings many times over." (just-food.com)

"Alternative Crops Would Benefit From Biotech" - "Preliminary results of a study partially funded by the Council for Biotechnology Information show the potential for new biotech crops, markets and applications beyond what is currently enjoyed by corn, soybean and cotton growers. "We’ve established that biotechnology can deliver substantial benefits to traditional growers," said Leonard Gianessi, Senior Research Associate, National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy at BIO 2001 news conference." (AgWeb.com)

Union-Tribune's Bio2001 coverage

"Edible vaccines" - "Recently the glare of the media spotlight has fallen on genetically engineered food crops bred to resist herbicides and insects. Meanwhile, plants engineered with human proteins to produce drugs and vaccines for human consumption have escaped notice.

Well, take note: At least 350 genetically engineered pharmaceutical products are currently in clinical development in the United States and Canada. Scientists believe that potent drugs and vaccines will soon be harvested just like wheat and corn." (ENN)

"agbiotech Offers Hope for Poor and Hungry in Developing World" - "SAN DIEGO--June 27, 2001--Dismissing the claims of biotech critics, a leading Kenyan scientist says agbiotech will help poor countries learn to feed themselves.

Florence Wambugu, Ph.D., director of Kenya's AfriCenter of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agribiotechnology Applications, told attendees of the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference in San Diego that the benefits of agbiotech far outweigh any potential harm.

``No one can say there are no risks. Every new technology is a double-edged sword, and you must manage the risks to obtain the benefits,'' she said. ``But there is not a shred of evidence that eating genetically modified food will be bad for anyone's health.'' (BW HealthWire)

"Food producers cashing in on public fear; Non-GM labels mushroom in stores" - "Some food producers are cashing in on public fear of genetically modified organisms by putting a "non-GM" sign up for their products displayed on supermarket shelves. Somchit Navapipat, a spokeswoman for the biotechnogy giant Monsanto, urged authorities to put a stop to the practice, saying it was giving GM products a bad image. The "non-GM" sign has been spotted on a wide range of products ranging from fresh fish to beverages. Ms Somchit believed most, if not all, of those signs were a sham, aimed mainly at luring consumers to buy such products." (Bangkok Post)

"U.S. gene-altered crops rejected overseas" - "U.S. exports of crops with a biotech component are facing restrictions in foreign markets, says a new report by the General Accounting Office, the research arm of the U.S. Congress. The report was requested by Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, now senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

In many parts of the world, consumer concerns are growing about the safety of biotech foods, which have led key market countries to implement or consider regulations that may restrict U.S. biotech exports." (ENN)

June 27, 2001

EWG's orchestrated attack on Stossel is giving ABC's Tampering with Nature (due to air Friday) plenty of free publicity: "Calif. parents attack ABC News special" - "LOS ANGELES - ABC News executives scrambled Tuesday to decide how to respond to a group of California parents demanding that footage of their children be removed from correspondent John Stossel's TV special on the environment, set to air later this week." (Reuters) | Parents Complain About ABC Special (AP) | Stossel Accused of "Tampering" (E! Online) | UPDATE 1-Calif. parents attack ABC News special (Reuters)

Latest reports are that ABC have dropped footage of the kids from Tampering with Nature, which rather proves the point likely being made by Stossel, that EWG et al edit environmental "truth." Defense rests?

"Death by chocolate" - "Chocolate kills. Earlier this year, a flock of gulls feasting on some uneaten Valentine's Day chocolate dumped at a local landfill fell dead from the skies. The cause of death, announced this week by the provincial agriculture office in Abbotsford, B.C., was "chocolate toxicity." For many animals, the active ingredients in chocolate -- caffeine and theobromine -- can be lethal. The manager of the dump told The Vancouver Sun that chocolate should not even be mixed in with ordinary landfill garbage. In the interests of public safety, therefore, this newspaper feels duty-bound to call for an immediate and permanent ban on all chocolate products." (National Post)

"New York Votes to Ban Phones Held by Drivers" - "ALBANY, June 25 — New York will become the first state to ban talking on a hand-held cellular telephone while driving, under a bill that the Assembly passed today and that the governor promised to sign later this week. "It's a good bill," said Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker. "This is going to save lives, I'm sure." (New York Times)

"New York Outlaws Cell Phones In Cars" - "New York is the first state in the United States to prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. Its legislature voted overwhelmingly yesterday to pass a ban that Gov. George Pataki is expected to sign into law quickly, according to Reuters.

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

In the Regulation magazine article, "Should You Be Allowed To Use Your Cell Phone While Driving?" regulatory scholars Robert W. Hahn, Paul C. Tetlock and Jason K. Burnett show that the present danger posed by cell phone use while driving does not warrant intervention by government.

Thierer's television interviews on this issue and other cell phone regulation resources are available at http://www.cato.org/special/cellphone/." (Cato Institute)

The old "Flesh eating bug in the banana" trick eh? En Français this time: "Canada Declared Safe From Flesh-Eating Bananas" - "OTTAWA - Canada's main food inspection body took the unusual step on Tuesday of reassuring Canadians that imported bananas were not carrying the dreaded flesh-eating disease nectrotizing fasciitis. "A banana cannot be the carrier of the bacteria," Rene Cardinal, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency spokesman, told Reuters. He said the agency began receiving calls from panicked day-care centers, hospitals and medical offices a few weeks ago, after an old Internet rumor was translated into French and revived." (Reuters)

"What's eating you?" - "Another day, another food scare, and another fad. This time it's soy sauce. On other days we've woken up to bad eggs, good salmon, bad salmon, bad beef, perfectly fine beef, good red wine, good white wine, bad coffee, good coffee, indifferent coffee ... so many pieces of confusing and contradictory advice about what is harmful and helpful in your diet, that it is tempting to ignore it all." (Guardian)

"Sub-normal research" - "Correspondent Mike Thomas nominates an item from Danish researchers that deserves a place in the collection of any junk science aficionado. Dutifully reported by the BBC (who else?) the report contains the exquisite observation that more than 40% of young men have sub-normal sperm counts. Number Watch has news for the “researchers” – 50% of almost anything is sub-normal. It is, of course, the old endocrine disrupter and sperm count scam, which is like one of those round-bottomed figures that come up again however many times you knock them down.

The researchers, Skakkebaek and Sharpe, acknowledge that there is no firm evidence linking specific chemical exposures to human male reproductive problems, but a little thing like that does not deter them.

On the basis of their lack of evidence, they argue for a re-examination of phthalates' human reproductive toxicity, for more data on exposure levels, and for studies of the effects of exposure to combinations of chemicals. (i.e. more research is needed, i.e. keep giving us the money).

WWF, the global environment campaign, is urging precautionary action now, because it says testicular cancer and lowered sperm counts occur decades after exposure. It wants the European Union to agree a presumption against the use of endocrine disrupters." (Number Watch)

"US deaths from heart disease, cancer fall" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 26 - Fewer Americans are dying from heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the US, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.

But that's just the good news.

Although these age-related death rates continued to fall in 1999 when compared to 1998 figures, there were increases in other leading causes of death, such as high blood pressure, chronic lower respiratory diseases and diabetes, according to the CDC report." (Reuters Health)

Puzzling. We are pretty sure that people are not immortal. Mortality from heart disease and cancer are falling so presumably the ubiquitous "other causes" must ascend the mortality tables, unless people are expected to expire from absolutely nothing. Makes as much sense as listing 97-year-old lung cancer "victims" as dying of "smoking related causes" I s'pose.

"The dangers of 'safe sun'" - "Are sunbathers really at risk of skin cancer - or are public health zealots turning a summer perk into a source of anxiety and fear?" (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick and Bríd Hehir, Sp!ked)

Today's "could, might, maybe" piece: "Autism 'may have quadrupled'" - "The number of cases of autism could be four times higher than previously reckoned, warn scientists." (BBC Online)

"Blood Restrictions Would Cut Quarter of New York Supply" - "WASHINGTON, June 26 — The New York City region, already desperately short of blood, stands to lose at least a quarter of its potential blood supply as the Food and Drug Administration moves toward restricting donations from people who may have been exposed to mad cow disease in Europe." (New York Times)

"Scaring the daylights out of parents" - "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has long made public-relations hay out of Dr. Benjamin Spock's suggestion, late in life, that parents feed their kids only veggies (and no milk!) after age 2. Now, in Spock's home town of New Haven, PETA has erected a billboard designed to scare parents. It reads: "Got Sick Kids? Drinking milk contributes to colic, ear infections, allergies, diabetes, obesity, and many other illnesses." (GuestChoice.com)

"Sweet music for milking" - "Dairy cows produce more milk when listening to relaxing music, say researchers." (BBC Online)

"Environmental Group Opposes Interior Department Nominee" - "President Bush's nominee for the Interior Department's top legal post is drawing criticism from environmentalists, who say the attorney continues to represent ranchers’ interests and support “destructive” livestock grazing on public lands." (AgWeb.com)

"Ontario ready to SWAT polluters" - "Ontario's new 65-person environmental SWAT team targetting polluters across the province was unveiled yesterday. Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer also announced the $5-million team would be a permanent initiative with troop reinforcements to come." (Toronto Sun)

"Reducing mercury pollutants from coal burning plants" - "A mercury emissions control system now used on municipal waste incinerators is being adapted to function on coal-fired power plants by Consol Inc. of Library, Pennsylvania. The system is expected to remove not only mercury but also sulfur pollutants that can create visible plumes and contaminate other pollution control devices.

The Consol project is one of six new projects selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to curb mercury emissions from coal-fired plants more effectively that systems in use today and at a fraction of current costs. The program is designed to address environmental objections to the continued burning of coal to generate electricity. Coal currently generates just over half of America's electrical power." (ENN)

"EU energy chief eyes continued coal subsidies" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's energy policy chief said yesterday that she would propose allowing Europe's coal industry to continue to receive aid despite EU plans to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2010." (Reuters)

"Tough new EU air quality rules await MEPs vote" - "BRUSSELS - A major piece of European Union air pollution legislation, setting tough emissions limits on power stations, hangs in the balance following the failure of EU officials to finalise the law yesterday. The talks followed a disagreement over the final shape of the legislation between the European Parliament, which has consistently pushed to make the laws tougher, and national governments." (Reuters)

"Villagers reject eco-fund offer" - "People opposed to the construction of a 735-megawatt coal-fired power plant in tambon Bor Nok have rejected the operator's attempt to set up an environment fund. Suchin Chor-rahongse, chairman of tambon Bor Nok's administrative organisation, submitted a letter to the governor denying a report that the TAO had agreed to accept a 150-million-baht fund offered by Gulf Power Generation Co. Gulf Power reportedly proposed the fund to TAO members to compensate for any adverse effects on the environment arising from the plant's future operations." (Bangkok Post)

"U.S. GOVERNMENT SUED OVER RULING ON AIR CONDITIONERS" - "NEW YORK, New York, June 26, 2001 - A legal challenge has been filed against the Department of Energy (DOE) over the agency's attempts to block an energy efficiency rule for air conditioners.

The state attorneys general of New York, Connecticut and California have joined the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Consumer Federation of America and the Public Utility Law Project in filing suit against Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham for his department's attempt to weaken a rule made in the final days of the Clinton administration." (ENS)

"Open sesame for nuclear power 'an exercise to save BNFL'" - "The government yesterday opened the door for a nuclear power renaissance in the UK to fill any future gap in the country's energy supply. It conceded there was only a limited role for renewable energy in combating a growing dependence on potentially insecure supplies of oil and gas. The prime minister, in setting the terms for a review of Britain's energy objectives over the next 50 years, also indicated a radical shake-up of the present system of energy regulation, to avoid California-style black-outs." (Guardian)

"States huddle over climate change ahead of Bonn" - "SCHEVENINGEN, The Netherlands Ministers from dozens of countries yesterday pored over the latest proposals to curb global warming gasses at a final gathering before key U.N. talks next month in Bonn." (Reuters)

"Kyoto global warming rescue effort runs into money problems" - "Signatories to the UN's Kyoto Protocol on global warming on pored over a lifeboat plan aimed at saving the troubled treaty from sinking, but some forbidding clouds lay ahead. The compromise was put forward by Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, hoping to save the accord from oblivion after the United States, the biggest culprit in the climate change crisis, ditched it in March." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Rep. Peterson Details Political Game-Playing on Global Warming" - "Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.), one of Congress’ resident global warming skeptics, tells Tech Central Station’s Science for the Earth Host Sallie Baliunas that doomsday types regarding the impact of climate change actually led him and his staff to study the issue more closely. After the Kyoto Protocol was inked in late 1997, the politics played with the science of the issue became as disturbing as they were interesting." (TechCentralStation)

"Climate contracts cropping south" - "A new study on climate change shows that when it comes to agriculture, the cropping sector will be the most effected by greenhouse gas emissions." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Taking No Chances" - "Disaster-Conscious Firms Treat Global Warming as a Reality" (Washington Post)

"Penguins in Trouble Worldwide" - "Around the world, many penguin populations are declining, researchers say, and evidence is mounting that global warming is a prime cause." (New York Times)

"U.S. Should Show Leadership in Emissions Reductions, Not Beg the Poor, Says World Resources Institute" - "WASHINGTON, June 26 -- Whether seen through the lens of per-capita, annual, historical or projected-future emissions, the U.S. is still the world's most significant polluter and should take action on climate change before asking developing countries to do so, concludes a new study released today by the World Resources Institute (WRI)." (U.S. Newswire)

"The Art of Swallowing Camels" - "In his first book about CO2 and climate (Idso, 1982), our father crafted a chapter of this title, which he derived from the well-known statement of Christ (Matthew 23:24): "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel."  He used this device to depict the great lengths to which the climate alarmists of two decades past would often go to convince the world of the validity of their predicted Armageddon-like global warming, noting that their actions only led them to trade the gospel of simple logic for the most egregious of fables.  It is now twenty years later; and as the Preacher rightly said (Ecclesiastes 1:9), "there is no new thing under the sun." | A 1000-Year Record of Spring Sea Ice Conditions in Baffin Bay | Temporal Trends in Thunderstorms (co2science.org)

"O, fearful new world" - "FOOD is "hazardous" to your health. Or so argued Greenpeace activists protesting the Bio 2001 biotechnology convention in San Diego as they stormed a grocery store this weekend and stuck "hazardous" labels on foods that may contain genetically modified (GM) corn, soy or cottonseed.

They call them Frankenfoods. They warn that GM foods are dangerous to human health, even though there is not one documented case of someone being hurt by eating Frankenfood. They complain that GM foods will result in "monocultures" - - or a world with a single variety of crop. They apparently don't know or care about seed banks, which exist to ensure biodiversity of food crops. The anti- biotech crowd boasts that it is pro "biodiversity."

The Anti's biggest beef with GM foods is that corporations develop them. "The real violence being done here is being done every day by these corporations up in their ivory towers," said Adam Hurtler, a spokesman for the anti-Bio 2001 protest, Bio Devastation 2001." (Debra Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)

"Protests dwindle at San Diego biotech conference" - "SAN DIEGO - Foes of genetic engineering dressed up as ears of corn and sported signs saying "Design Your Own Baby" on Monday, but were only able to muster a few dozen protesters at the biotech industry's biggest annual meeting.

Threats of massive protests - which had produced a small army of police at the ready - failed to materialize by mid-afternoon and many of the 15,000 executives, investors, scientists and researchers attending the conference quickly got down to debating the latest developments in a field dedicated to developing new foods and medicines." (Reuters)

San Diego Union-Tribune's Bio2001 coverage

"Scientists, legal experts want curbs on genetic plundering; Public must not lose out to technology" - "Genetic scientists and legal experts have urged the government to issue a law controlling the use of genetics and biomedical technology. But the law must not obstruct medical progress, said Assoc Prof Prasit Palittapongarnpim, acting deputy director of the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (Biotec)." (Bangkok Post)

"Official: Seed Patents Needed to Boost Research" - "ROME - Seed patents, which some critics attack as harmful to poor farmers, are a vital incentive for research and a means of encouraging plant diversity, a life sciences industry official said on Tuesday. ``We are strongly in favor of an intellectual property regime for the food and seed industry, because if you don't have strong intellectual property rights, you won't have incentives for research,'' said Patrick Heffer, scientific coordinator of the International Association of Plant Breeders (ASSINSEL). ``We consider both plant breeders' rights and patent laws necessary to have sufficient incentives to create new varieties of plants and promote food security,'' he told Reuters." (Reuters)

"Modifying Africa: How biotechnology Can Help Alleviate Hunger And Poverty In Africa" - "Thank you very much for visiting my website, dedicated to my new book Modifying Africa: How biotechnology can help alleviate hunger and poverty in Africa. I am honored by your visit and the time that you have taken to find out what is happening to Africa, especially as concerns biotechnology." (Florence Wambugu)

"Plants Could Deliver HIV Vaccine In The Future" - "HIV-suppressing proteins packed into spinach could be the first step in using of plants as a cheap, safe method of delivering AIDS vaccines.

The idea of using plant "factories" to fight disease isn't new, but Dr. Alexander Karasev of Thomas Jefferson University and his team, who presented the research at a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Orlando, Fla., are some of the first to focus on HIV." (Jefferson Center for Biomedical Research)

"Could biotech help the environment?" - "Protesters call biotechnology a ticking time bomb for the environment. In fact, researchers are finding the technology may help the environment if it's judiciously used. Already, it's saving energy in factories, reducing pesticide use in some crops, and replacing petroleum-based products, such as polyester, with renewable ones, like so-called "green plastics." (Christian Science Monitor)

"USA: Monsanto to share soybean genetic knowledge" - "US biotechnology giant Monsanto has announced it will share key genetic information to accelerate the development of a soybean with improved oils and more protein. This development will help develop healthier soy products for consumers worldwide while improving the economic value for US soybean farmers, the company said." (just-food.com)

"Report Says Biotech Crops Fare Well" - "Leonard P. Gianessi, president of the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy was cited as telling BIO 2001 that biotechnology has been applied to virtually every crop planted in the States and has produced some dramatic results against viruses and insects that have rampaged through U.S. fields in the past and pose potential threats for the future, adding, "The technology has been working perfectly." (UPI)

"Philippines plans rules on imported GM products" - "MANILA - The Philippines, a big importer of feed ingredients, plans to issue rules on the importing of genetically modified products, Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor said yesterday. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will soon issue the policy on gene-altered crops after getting the views of officials at the departments of agriculture, health, science and technology, and trade, Montemayor said. (Reuters)

"Consumer Awareness of Genetically Modified Foods May Be Taking Root; Poll Finds Public Confidence in Government Regulators Mixed" - "SAN DIEGO and WASHINGTON, June 26 -- Americans are more aware of genetically modified food than they were six months ago, but confidence in the ability of government regulators to manage these products is mixed, according to a Zogby International poll released today by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology." (PRNewswire)

"World's First Herd of Cloned Dairy Cows in Production at Infigen; Company Plans to Submit Evaluation of Milk to FDA and National Academy of Sciences" - "DEFOREST, Wis., June 26 -- Infigen, Inc. announced today that the world's first herd of cloned dairy cows is in milk production at the company's farms. Infigen is a privately held biotechnology company merging genomics and reproductive technologies to advance both animal agriculture and human health. The milk will be evaluated and compared with milk from non-cloned Holsteins, as a part of the company's review to be shared with the United States Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)." (PRNewswire)

"Canada's burgeoning biotech sector evident at industry meeting in California" - "SAN DIEGO - Finding the right people to develop Canada's growing biotechnology industry is quite a challenge nowadays. "A lot has to be done at the recruitment level," Alex McPherson, president and chief executive of Alberta-based BioMira, told a group of about 200 people at Bio 2001, a major biotech conference that opened in San Diego on Monday." (CP)

"New technique increases survival of cloned cows" - "ATHENS, Georgia -- Scientists at the University of Georgia announced a breakthrough Tuesday in cloning technology, which they say makes the process more efficient. The new procedure, according to lead scientist Steve Stice, has a success rate of one in seven when it comes to the viability of embryos for Black Angus cows." (CNN)

June 26, 2001

EWG (or is that Eeuuuuggh?) is after Stossel again: "Parents Complain About ABC Special" - "NEW YORK - Several parents who agreed to let their children be interviewed for an ABC News special on the environment now want them out of it because they didn't like correspondent John Stossel's questioning. They made their wishes known Monday, more than two months after the interviews took place and four days before the special, ``Tampering with Nature,'' is scheduled to air.

It's the second dispute in a year involving Stossel, a libertarian who has rankled environmental and consumer groups with his views. Stossel had to apologize last August for a misleading report on organic produce, and the Environmental Working Group, which called for ABC to fire him then, was instrumental in Monday's complaint.

``In my mind they were dishonest,'' said Brad Neal, whose children Brandon, 10, and Samantha, 8, were interviewed. Although he did not agree to make the complaint against Stossel until being contacted by the Environmental Working Group, Neal said: ``I was clearly getting upset. But they helped me direct my anger.'' (The advocacy group posted a copy of the parents' letter on its Web site.)

During the program, Stossel looks into global warming, genetic engineering and human cloning. The parents from the affluent Pacific Palisades section of Los Angeles said ABC asked to interview their children on Earth Day, April 15, to hear their views on the environment.

The parents were particularly upset about Stossel asking the children for a show of hands on how many of them believed scientists were unanimous on the dangers of global warming. A preview of the special asserts that children are often given one-sided information about environmental dangers.

``I am concerned that these kids are being portrayed as if they were brainwashed or not being told the truth,'' said Michael Scott, whose children Rachel, 10, and Zachary, 8, were interviewed. (AP)

"Physicist Said to Be Top Choice for Science Adviser to President" - "WASHINGTON, June 24 — The director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, John H. Marburger III, has emerged as the leading candidate to be President Bush's science adviser, federal officials said today.

Dr. Marburger, a physicist, was president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1980 to 1994." (New York Times)

"Uranium threat could be wider than feared" - "ARLINGTON, Virginia -- Thousands more workers than first thought could face serious health threats from exposure to plutonium and other highly radioactive matter that fouled a large amount of uranium recycled by U.S. nuclear weapons programs, a published report says." (AP)

Again... "Chemical query over testicle problem" - "Researchers say chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system may be implicated in male reproductive disorders. They believe the chemicals may interact with individuals' genetic susceptibility to cause a range of increasingly common problems.

The researchers have given a new name, testicular dysgenesis syndrome (TDS), to the problems, which include poor semen quality and testicular cancer. They have particular concern about phthalates, chemicals used to soften plastics." (BBC Online)

"Air Pollution Policy Up For Review" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 25, 2001 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is asking for public comment on potential revisions to a rule that requires power plants to install the best pollution control technology available. The review is part of a Bush administration effort to cut the costs of power generation and reduce the burden of environmental regulations on businesses." (ENS)

"Engineers develop technology to reduce industry emissions" - "ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio University engineers have developed technology that cleans pollutants from the exhaust of coal-fired power plants and other industrial smokestacks more efficiently and cheaply than currently possible, a device that could prove useful for companies facing new federal air quality regulations." (Ohio State University)

"Few firm answers expected from fuel economy panel" - "DETROIT - A panel of experts will likely say next month that the U.S. government could raise its fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks by a modest amount with few penalties in safety or cost, according to sources familiar with their discussions." (Reuters)

"Link found between livestock and antibiotic-resistant bacteria" - "WINNIPEG -- Another link has been added to the chain researchers are forging between the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the widespread use of the drugs in large-scale livestock operations.  "It seems that the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is increasing and also the number of these confinement livestock facilities are increasing," says Darrin Qualman, executive secretary of the National Farmers Union." (CP)

Here's another, equally valid muse: "It seems like the EU is having increasing food-quality problems and also the use of livestock antibiotics is being restricted."

"Speak loudly and carry a big number"

Oh, what a big one!
I’ve never seen one as big as that before.
Old music hall song

Cancer will kill 5 million British smokers yells the headline in The Times, June 25th. The number comes from a SIF, well know to regular readers, Sir Richard Peto. It only applies, of course, unless ministers intensify efforts to help people to quit. Having taken on board all the fiddles that were invented by CDC in America, Britain’s big numbers man adds on a bit then extrapolates over 50 years to get a really impressive total.

Never coy about scientific and statistical niceties, he goes on “There are about ten million smokers in Britain and about five million will be killed by tobacco if they do not stop.” This sets a new record for anti-tobacco claims, raising the claimed hit rate to a startling 50%.

Fellow SIF, Professor Gordon McVie, adds his piece for the rest of the world, where tobacco is going to kill one billion people “…the challenge for the developing world is to make sure it does not make the same mistakes that we have, by becoming ensnared in a cancer-causing life-style of fags, booze and junk food.”

Presumably it is all right to carry on taking the junk science." (Number Watch)

"New evidence debunks benefits of breast self-examination" - "Many studies have examined the effectiveness of various screening tools for breast cancer, which accounts for 30% of diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. In 1994 the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination (now the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care) concluded there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening using breast self-examination (BSE). After reviewing relevant articles published since then, the task force states there is fair evidence to recommend that BSE not be taught routinely to women aged 40-69 years because it provides no benefit." (CMAJ release)

"Change your life, not your keyboard" - "Doubts surround the benefits of ergonomic keyboards in preventing repetitive strain injuries at work, writes BBC News Online's technology correspondent Mark Ward." (BBC Online)

Grant time again? "Amazon forest 'could vanish fast'" - "The destruction of the Amazon rainforest could be irreversible within a decade, according to a US scientist. James Alcock, of Pennsylvania State University, says the forest could virtually disappear within half a century. His estimate of the possible rate of destruction is faster than most others and Mr Alcock, professor of environmental sciences at Penn State's Abington College, says the danger lies in a complex feedback process.

Research published in the journal Science earlier this year suggesting that deforestation rates in the Amazon could reach 42% by 2020 were based on unreliable facts and "ecological futurology", Brazil's science and technology ministry said." (BBC Online)

"Early monsoon lashes northern India amid global warming fears" - "NEW DELHI, June 25 - "Annual monsoon rains arrived across northern India ahead of schedule Monday amid warnings that the downpour that lashed the region overnight were directly influenced by global warming." (AFP)

"Dutch host bid to save Kyoto" - "Renewed efforts to salvage the Kyoto climate treaty have got under way in The Hague. The 1997 treaty aims to reduce pollution levels in industrialised countries over the next decade, but the United States is refusing to back it. Four days of talks will be hosted by the Dutch Environment Minister, Jan Pronk, who heads the UN forum on climate change." (BBC Online)

"Business Executives, Religious Leaders, Economists, and Scientists Urge Action at 'Citizens Summit on Climate Change'" - "WASHINGTON, June 25 -- A broad-based coalition of community leaders -- representing more than 100 million Americans and over $300 billion in annual revenues -- gathered today at a Citizens Summit on Climate Change to urge lawmakers to slow global warming." (U.S. Newswire)

"Science abused as global warming alarm" - "STANFORD, Calif. - A new political dogma is being spun in the media. "Science," they say, has now "proved" that global warming is a real danger and that human beings are responsible for it, so that we need to take drastic steps to reduce greenhouse gases.

This has been the widespread response to a recent publication by the National Academy of Sciences, which many in the media have taken as proof that we need to follow the drastic requirements of the Kyoto accords, in order to reduce the threat of global warming.

There were some pretty heavy-weight scientists involved in the NAS discussions of the global warming issue.

But, as the report itself stated clearly, these scientists not only did not write the report, they didn't even see it before it was published. They "were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendation nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release."

So much for "science" having "proved" global warming and its human causation." (Baltimore Sun)

"Carbon case grey rather than Green" - "The McLeod tax review has left the door open to a carbon tax, or at least ajar. It is unenthusiastic, but cannot come up with a theoretical reason to reject it. The view that activities which harm the environment are always and everywhere to be curtailed, and that tax is the way to do it, to the review committee smacks of paternalism, forcing the decisions of the many to conform to the opinions of a few." (New Zealand Herald)

"Nuclear power back on agenda" - "Tony Blair on Monday launched the first comprehensive review of energy needs for 20 years in a move that could lead to a long-term revival for nuclear power.

Downing Street said the review by the Cabinet Office's Performance and Innovation Unit, which reports to the prime minister, would aim to meet "the challenge of global warming while ensuring secure, diverse and reliable energy supplies at a competitive price". The review will be chaired by Brian Wilson, energy minister, an advocate of nuclear power." (Financial Times) | Blair opens way for a nuclear comeback (Independent)

"Low-fat foods may still tip the scales on dieters" - "FAT-FREE foods may contain less fat, but they often contain an unexpectedly high number of calories, says a leading dietitian. SA spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia Tania Ferraretto says low-fat foods lack taste so manufacturers compensate by boosting sugar content – which means the number of calories rises. "When you take the fat out of food it tastes bland, so sugar is often added to improve the taste. But when you add sugar, the calories go up," she says. "Many people are trying to be healthy and eat low-fat, but they're actually consuming a lot more calories than they think." (The [Adelaide] Advertiser)

"Diet boost for diabetics" - "Eating less meat and sugar may help some diabetics, a US research team has said. Replacing animal protein with vegetable protein also helps, according to the team from the University of South Florida. Patients were able to reduce the amount of insulin they took, or even stop using it altogether, after six months on the diet. The findings apply to Type II diabetics, who cannot make enough insulin in the pancreas or may be unable to make proper use of it." (BBC Online)

"EU 'plays politics' with food integrity" - "The farm sector has been told it has to consider itself part of the total food quality chain, in terms of maintaining integrity with trading partners in Europe. At the opening of the World Food Forum in Sydney this morning, more than three hundred delegates were told that farmers, food processors and supermarkets needed to ensure they were honest and open with the consumer.

Australian Food and Grocery Council says any message from the European Union should be taken with a grain of salt. Mitch Hooke says the push for greater regulation on GMO's and food safety is the Europeans 'playing politics'. And he's warning Australian farmers and processors not to be fooled, as the Europeans are gearing up to use these issues at the next world trade round, as non-tariff trade barriers." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Don't allow patents on food: environmental groups" - "ROME - Consumer and agricultural advocates are demanding multinational companies not be allowed to patent foods and seeds. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has invited delegates from more than 160 countries to discuss genetic resources." (CBC)

"Bi-Partisan Members Of Congress Support Biotech Crops" - "A resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the benefits of biotechnology." (107th CONGRESS, 1ST SESSION IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AS INTRODUCED IN THE HOUSE)

Union-Tribune's Bio2001 coverage

"In Your Face, Out of Our Genes: the Battle of San Diego" - "SAN DIEGO, California, June 25, 2001 - A day of reckoning has come for biotechnology. As anti-biotech protesters confronted police to make their views known in the streets outside the San Diego Convention Center, inside Carl Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, welcomed some 12,000 delegates to the annual meeting with an address entitled "Keeping the Faith." (ENS)

"Spirited Debate at Biotech Meeting; Critics of Genetically Modified Foods Share Concerns at World's Biggest Biotech Conference" - "SAN DIEGO -- Critics of genetically modified foods are letting bioengineers know their concerns at the world's biggest biotech conference here, accusing companies of favoring profits over consumers' health.

Outside the convention center Monday, police outnumbered protesters. The crowd of protesters listening to music, dancing and performing street theater numbered no more than 50 -- at times even less.

Elsewhere, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals staged a protest at a Burger King restaurant in the nearby city of Mira Mesa. Police there also outnumbered the 80 protesters who turned up. Two demonstrators were arrested after they stood on the counter and made speeches." (AP)

"FDA tentatively orders labels for food with 3%-5% content; Local labs unable to test lesser amounts" - "The Food and Drug Administration has made labelling compulsory for local products with between 3% and 5% of genetically modified ingredients. The FDA is expected to issue a regulation on labelling by the end of the year.

Speaking after a meeting of the working committee considering GMO food products, FDA secretary-general Vichai Chokeviwat said even though Greenpeace wants labels on all products with GMO content, the committee tentatively settled on 3-5% because it would be difficult for local laboratories to test for the least amount of GMO content in each product.

European nations require products with 1% GMO content to be labelled. South Korea requires 3% and Japan 5%.

Dr Vichai said the labelling requirement was merely being enforced to inform the public the product contains GMO ingredients. He said the labelling was not to inform the public the product was dangerous." (Bangkok Post)

"Lack of Standards Makes 'Non-GMO' Labeling Risky Business; IFT Panel Discusses Potential Liability of Making 'Non-GMO' Claims On Food Products" - "NEW ORLEANS -- Industry experts speaking at a Sunday panel discussion on food biotechnology at the International Food Technologist's (IFT) Annual Expo shared concerns that labeling food products as ``non-GMO'' may put food companies and manufacturers at risk for liability. Increasing pressure from anti-biotech activist groups and product recalls associated with StarLink corn have compelled some food companies and retailers to source ``non-GMO'' ingredients to protect the reputation of their brands." (PRNewswire)

"Sixty companies apply for GMO exemption" - "Companies involved in genetically modified crop trials haven't wasted any time applying to be exempt from publicly listing trial sites under the new Gene Technology Act. The Act requires all GM trial sites to be published on the internet, unless it can be proved that there is a public benefit in keeping the details private. Acting Gene Technology Regulator, Elizabeth Caine says her office has been inundated with applications for exemption from the law." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Sri Lanka to suspend GM food ban at WTO's behest" - "COLOMBO - Sri Lanka announced yesterday it would comply with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) request to suspend one of the world's toughest bans on genetically modified (GM) food, but insisted the restrictions would be reimposed.

The ban, which went into effect on May 1, will be lifted this week after the WTO asked Sri Lanka to give its trading partners 60 days to prepare for the restrictions, the country's top food safety official said." (Reuters)

June 24-25, 2001

"Organic Industry Groups Spread Fear for Profit" - "(Washington, DC) -- Citing recent polling data that 85 percent of American consumers incorrectly believe organic foods to be safer or more nutritious than less expensive conventional products, a new report details a multi-decade marketing campaign by organic and natural products retail interests promoting false or misleading food safety and fear campaigns to promote organic product sales.

Detailing a history of food fears, market manipulation, use of non-profit front groups and consumer-directed misinformation campaigns, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture Director of Consumer Affairs and two leading Washington, DC-based think tanks expose the history and market forces that disparage non-organic, conventionally-grown foods and that are specifically designed to create broad public misperceptions over food safety issues." (NoMoreScares.com) [Download a full copy of the report in Adobe Acrobat Format. To download the free acrobat reader, click here]

"Surprise Attack on the Navy" - "President Bush may have just handed the Navy one of its worst setbacks since Pearl Harbor. It will leave as its only memorial the willingness of politicians to give in to loud-mouthed activists and to cave in to every bizarre health scare that drops from the sky. And it won't even make for a good movie. In an announcement that caught everyone completely off-guard, Mr. Bush has declared that training exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, including offshore gunfire, bombing, and Marine maneuvers, will end within two years. Since then, U.S. Navy Secretary Gordon England says he advised the president to abandon the range, thereby completely refuting everything his own department has said about the terrific importance of keeping the range." (Michael Fumento, Washington Times)

This is Fumento's update on the Vieques farce. I wonder if it will be as eminently quotable as was his last piece, see Liberal Use by Jonathan Chait.

"N.Y. may take drivers' phones" - "On Monday the New York legislature is expected to pass, and Republican Governor George Pataki has said he will sign, the nation's first statewide law banning the use of hand-held cellphones while driving. Drivers would still be able to use headset phones.

Critics and supporters see the measure as a breakthrough. ''For better or worse,'' said Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, one of the largest cellphone carrier companies, ''this will probably spark similar legislation all over the country.'' (Boston Globe)

"New theory links mobile phone use and cancer" - "A team of Sydney researchers has published what it claims is the first scientific hypothesis about how radiation from mobile phones might cause cancer. The theory is that mobile phone use could cause ongoing stress to body cells, leading them to express "heat shock proteins", which human cells sometimes release in response to injury or infection. Such a "chronic activation of the heat shock response" could affect the "normal regulation" of cells, resulting in cancer, writes Dr Peter French in the June edition of the scientific journal Differentation." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Play areas to teach lost art of risk-taking" - "DESIGNERS of children's equipment are developing new "extreme" playgrounds amid fears that youngsters have lost their sense of danger.

Political correctness over safety and the fear of legal claims if a child as much as traps a finger have been blamed for neutering adventure in Britain's playgrounds.

Now, psychologists are warning that the trend is creating a new generation of timid youngsters. They say that "mollycoddling" children may prevent them from fully developing their sense of balance or the ability to weigh risks.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents admitted last week that British Standards may have gone too far towards ruining children's fun and that some local authorities were "ultra-conservative".

Many playgrounds have become little more than padded gardens. Seesaws have been removed in some because they contravene European Union rules if they hit the ground. Slides seldom rise more than a few feet above the ground." (Sunday Times)

"Study finds couch potatoes more likely to get adult-onset diabetes" - "Men who watch 20 hours of television or more a week are twice as likely to develop late-onset diabetes as their peers who spend an hour or less in front of the goggle box on a weekly basis, according to a US study. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, who studied data on more than 37,000 men, reported that the men who spent a significant amount of time watching TV sharply increased their risk for the condition, which typically occurs in overweight adults aged 40 and over." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Healthy fats difficult for consumers to swallow" - "NEW ORLEANS - French fries might lower cholesterol if they are cooked in the right kind of shortening, but most consumers won't get a chance to eat them. The shortening, known as Appetize, is one of a series of healthier food products that have struggled as public concern about fat has declined in recent years, even as obesity has reached epidemic proportions. "Health is not a primary driver in our food selection. You must have taste first," said Robert Brown, who follows industry trends for snack-food giant Frito-Lay.

Food scientists gathered here for their annual convention this week haven't given up the search for their holy grail - a healthy, tasty, affordable substitute for bad fats - but they're scratching their heads over the declining consumer interest. Among supermarket shoppers who said they are very concerned about nutrition, only 46 percent of consumers say they are worried about the fat content, down from 60 percent in 1996, according to a poll last year by the Food Marketing Institute. (AP)

"Jurors distort evidence to favor their tentative verdict as they move through the course of a trial" - "WASHINGTON — Presenting further proof that jurors are vulnerable to human error, psychologists at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management found significant evidence of a deep bias affecting both students and prospective jurors. Kurt A. Carlson, M.S., a graduating doctoral student and J. Edward Russo, Ph.D. present their work in the June issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Carlson and Russo hypothesized that “predecisional distortion” of new information could cause a juror to evaluate trial evidence with a bias toward supporting whichever party that juror currently favors. Already known to sway consumer decisions, predecisional distortion would then bias juror decisions as well. Such a finding could raise questions about the adequacy of conventional jury instructions to not reach a verdict prematurely." (American Psychological Association)

"European Parliament votes for tougher ozone controls" - "A proposal committing to reduce smog levels to UN recommended levels and providing better information to the public about problems of air pollution locally has received all-party support in the European Parliament’s plenary session." (Edie.net)

"Cattle battle" - "The Walkerton crisis brought the problem of manure in streams to urgent attention. Now, a cow-watching Ontario scientist says we've been looking at it all wrong." (Globe and Mail)

"China bans use of PPA drugs" - "BEIJING: China has cancelled the registration of all drugs containing phenylpropanolamine or PPA, since the composition may cause a series of adverse reactions, an official newspaper reported on Saturday. The state drug administration (SDA) said the production and sales of drugs containing PPA are now illegal, and all stocks of the drug should be destroyed under the supervision of local drug administrations." (Times of India)

"More US regulations needed to prevent mad cow - US panel" - "WASHINGTON - A panel of U.S. food industry and consumer experts said on Friday that stronger government regulations and more funding for animal disease prevention programs were needed to keep the United States safe from mad cow disease and its deadly human variant." (Reuters)

"Preserved red meat linked to cancer" - "LYON, France -- Eating lots of preserved meats such as salami, bacon, cured ham, and hot dogs could increase the risk of bowel cancer by 50 percent, early results of a major new study have suggested. However, when it came to fresh red meat -- beef, lamb, pork, and veal -- there seemed to be no link." (AP)

"Food authority bans some soy and oyster sauces" - "Food authorities have banned some soy and oyster sauce imports due to fears they could cause cancer. The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) has asked quarantine officers to ban any imported soy and oyster sauces containing dangerous levels of the chemical chloropropanol, a potential cancer-causing agent. It has banned 22 brands from entering Australia, including sauce products from Golden Mountain in Thailand, Pearl River Bridge in China, Lee Kum Kee from China and Hong Kong and Wanjasham in Taiwan." (AAP)

Um... if these Asian sauces are such risky carcinogens, why do Asian societies exhibit lower incidence rates than Western societies? Are Asians then purportedly genetically adapted to soy sauce? For more on the mortal dangers of the condiment cupboard, see Chris Hurst's commentary in The Independent.

"An Arrest in Series of Fires in Phoenix Adds a Plot Twist" - "PHOENIX, June 22 — When some partly built luxury homes at the edge of the desert here starting going up in flames three years ago, there were twinges of sympathy for a group that claimed to be setting the fires to halt the relentless destruction of open spaces. The self-proclaimed eco-terrorists even sent letters to local news organizations warning, "If you build, we will burn."

But what had seemed a tale of self- appointed folk heroes, who reportedly set fire to 11 houses under construction and sent shudders through the community, now appears to be a tale of one man's psychological distress." (New York Times)

"Oslo says to meet Kyoto goals with new technology" - "OSLO - Norway said on Friday it would promote new pollution-free technology in power plants to help it keep a promise to combat global warming under an international climate pact rejected by the United States." (Reuters)

"EU mission to pursue Japan nod for Kyoto" - "BRUSSELS A European Union mission is slated to visit Japan on July 9 to urge Tokyo to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, even if the United States does not participate, EU officials said Saturday." (Kyodo)

"Japan, EU can save Kyoto Protocol" - "The city of Kyoto is linked to a landmark agreement. In the Kyoto Protocol, the industrialized countries committed themselves to reducing their emissions of gases that drive climate change. Europe remains committed to making the Kyoto Protocol work, and we look forward to working with Japan in this endeavor. Let's always remind ourselves: There is one partner with whom we cannot negotiate--the climate itself." (Margot Wallstrom, Yomiuri Shimbun)

"China Strongly Opposes Junking of Kyoto Protocol" - "China on Sunday voiced its strong opposition to any attempt to junk the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change, vowing to "work untiringly" for the early enforcement of the document." (People's Daily)

"Think Tanks offer climate policy to Kyoto" - "WASHINGTON, June 22 -- An international trust fund for energy research and development, supported by a "small tax" on carbon emissions, may be a practical and palatable policy alternative to the Kyoto protocols rejected by President Bush, according to a leading think tank. Other think tanks favor different approaches.

The proposal, "The Fix: Global Warming Policy Practitioner's Handbook," published by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center on Regulatory Issues, in Washington is one of the more moderate that have emerged as European policymakers continue to voice their disappointment over Bush's action, and U.S. policy experts develop alternatives to address global warming by reducing carbon emissions. Other policy options have ranged from immediate adherence to Kyoto, to no government interventions or fundraising whatsoever." (UPI)

"Badgering Bush on global warming" - "President George Bush was treated with official cordiality and unofficial slight by several European leaders. He was also savaged unmercifully by a sensationalist, gossipy European press, which presented the president of the United States as a Texas cowboy with stupid ideas about foreign affairs and global issues. This is to say, Bush was treated much the same way as he is treated by American liberals and the American "mainstream" media." (Linda Bowles, WorldNetDaily)

"Is Bush a closet green? The answer could well be yes" - "Take this assessment from Eileen Claussen, a former Clinton administration official with responsibility for climate change: "The Clinton administration agreed to ambitious targets in Kyoto but didn't try to put in place a programme to meet the targets. This administration is doing the reverse. They may end up with a policy more forward-looking than the Clinton administration proposed or than the Bush administration ever thought they would consider."

The stunning thing about this judgment is that it is not from a Bush spin-doctor. It is from an independent liberal who, in a few months, has come to see the Bush administration as remarkably green." (Sunday Times)

"Coal gasification creates less pollution, but process remains costly" - "FORT LONESOME, Fla. - Not far from the coal power plant owned by Tampa Electric Co., a roadside billboard in this remote region implores passersby to "Upgrade Your Salvation." While selling the power of prayer, the sign also sums up the beliefs of Tom Berry, a Tampa Electric engineer who can preach for hours on end about the virtues of the company's Polk County facility, one of the nation's cleanest and most efficient coal-burning plants.

Tampa Electric, a unit of TECO Energy Inc., has spent more than $500 million US of its own money and another $120 million in federal funds to test a process in which coal is converted into a cleaner-burning gas and then burned to make electricity." (AP)

"UPDATE - French power bills to rise on high wind prices - CRE" - "LONDON - French electricity bills will rise significantly as the government has set high guaranteed prices for wind-generated electricity, said the country's energy watchdog CRE on Friday." (Reuters)

"Greens fight greens in Wales's war of the wind farms" - "The wind that cuts across Denbigh Moor, a stretch of wild and desolate Welsh moorland a few miles north-east of Snowdonia, seems to be a permanent feature of the landscape.

Wind power has now become the focus of a bitter controversy in Wales, fomenting a feud between people who should be natural allies.

On one side stands the Welsh Assembly's environment minister, Sue Essex, and the Assembly's nature conservation advisers, the Countryside Council of Wales. Against them are ranged environmentalists and companies such as Cambrian, who accuse the minister and her advisers of blocking every major wind farm scheme that has been proposed since the mid-1990s." (Independent)

What a surprise! Not everyone is enthusiastic about profiteers blighting the countryside with bird-mincing white elephants at massive taxpayer expense. Imagine that...

"An Endangered Act: Sacrifices to a Green Agenda" - "It started with the best of intentions: to protect all creatures great and small by requiring that when a plant or animal got close to the survival line, everything feasible would be done to prevent its extinction and promote its recovery in the wild.

So dictated the Endangered Species Act of 1973, perhaps the most noble-minded of the environmental laws of the 1970's — and perhaps the one that has turned out to be the most practically cumbersome and politically controversial.

Fights between human and environmental interests were always expected, and they have arrived with regularity, most recently in Oregon's Klamath Basin, where 1,400 farmers have been denied vital irrigation water to protect the bottomfeeding suckerfish.

But much of the trouble the act has prompted comes from lawsuits brought by environmentalists who have learned to use the Endangered Species Act as a weapon." (New York Times)

"It's bad taste that makes the mob mad" - "Don't blame Wall Street or a secret cabal for the ghastliness of global culture." (National Post)

"The Pure Fool of the Month: Percy Schmeiser" - "While not small, and not organic, at least Percy Schmeiser is an actual farmer. Unlike the professional activists -- such as convicted terrorist Jose Bove -- who masquerade as farmers, Percy does own and operate a farm. A corporate farm by definition (like most farmers today he's incorporated), and a large farm (over a thousand acres), and a farm on which he freely and happily uses synthetic chemicals and other technology. Unfortunately for Percy, according to his own neighbors and a Canadian court, he chose to steal these farming tools rather than pay for them." (PureFoods.org)

"Scientist Addresses Real Issues at Anti-Biotech Demonstration" - "SAN DIEGO, June 23 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Biodevastation 2001, a protest against the annual conference of the Biotechnology industry Organization, is turning out to be a bio-fizzle as the promised crowd of 8,000 protestors has been no larger than 300. San Diego's Television Channel 10 said, "The one thing you can say about the rally in Starlight Bowl is that it wasn't well attended. They were expecting crowds in the thousands -- what they got was a couple of hundred." (Center For Global Food Issues)

"San Diego biotech conference opens as hundreds protest" - "Hundreds of protesters, some dressed as ears of corn or genetically engineered tomatoes, gathered Sunday in Balboa Park and marched downtown for a colorful protest of an annual biotechnology trade show.

The protests were largely peaceful on the opening day of Bio 2001, the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference, which Gov. Gray Davis was to address in the evening.

Demonstrators gathered in Balboa Park before beginning an afternoon march to the San Diego Convention Center along San Diego Bay, where the trade show's 15,000 participants were registering." (San Diego Union-Tribune's Bio-2001 index)

"Battle for control of world's crop genes" - "More than 150 governments gathered in Rome yesterday for what many see as a make-or-break meeting which will determine whether the genes of the world's major crops remain in the public sector or are allowed to be further patented. The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), most EU governments, many G77 developing nations, and grassroots non-governmental groups and farmers` networks are concerned about "bio-piracy", in which commercial companies patent germ plasm - the part of the germ cell that contains hereditary material - and privatise gene banks.

They are pressing for a binding global agreement that will govern the use of the crop seed varieties and genetic resources which underpin global food security." (Guardian)

"Indian Government Committee Encourages Additional Large-Scale Trials Of Insect-Protected Cotton By Mahyco, Monsanto's Seed Partner In India" - "The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of India's Ministry of Environment said today that insect- protected cotton has performed better than conventional cotton, and it is encouraging Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited (Mahyco), Monsanto's seed partner in India, to conduct additional large-scale trials of the insect- protected cotton this growing season." (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee)

"Corn pollen research set to determine GM impact" - "Research will be carried out to determine how far corn pollen is carried by the wind in an effort to learn what impact genetically modified produce has on normal farm produce, the Agriculture, Foresty Ministry said Saturday.

This kind of research, which will begin in August, has never before been conducted in this country.

In the autumn, a U.S. genetically modified corn, Star Link, was found mixed with other corn, causing a public outcry.

Some experts contend that scattered pollen was the cause of the hybrid corn, leading to mounting concern among organic farmers that if GM produce is cultivated on a large scale, its pollen might adversely affect organic produce.

The research will be carried out at the Agriculture Environmental Technology Institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the Stock Feed and Farm Institute in Nishi-Nasumachi, Tochigi Prefecture." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Protesters warn on genetic engineering" - "Environmentalists and gene ethicists today urged Premier Steve Bracks to cancel his upcoming trip to the US to promote Victoria as a genetic engineering centre, saying its was a risky new technology which should not be at the top of Victoria's priorities.

A couple of dozen protestors on the steps of Parliament this morning put on a "genetically engineered street theatre" to highlight their concerns." (The Age)

June 23, 2001

"Crunchy numbers" - "THIS IS THE age of the number, and a lot of us can't do the math. We don't want to admit it, though, so when the latest survey, poll, statistic, or advocacy group's analysis pelts us with percentages, charts, graphs, and projections, we tend to swallow them whole rather than ask stupid questions. Sociologist Joel Best seeks to liberate us, and his new book, ''Damned Lies and Statistics,'' deserves a place next to the dictionary on every school, media, and home-office desk." (Boston Globe editorial)

This week's shameless data dredging: "Diet linked to one in three cancers" - "LONDON, Jun 22 - Almost one in three cancers could be prevented through healthier eating, a major international conference heard this week. Researchers making presentations at the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer in Lyon, France, linked thousands of cases of cancer in the western world to poor diet and a lack of exercise. Conference attendees were also told of the preliminary findings of one of the world's largest studies investigating the relationship between the disease and what people eat." (Reuters Health)

"Don't live - or the Big C might kill you" - "Planning to use your cellphone or hair removal products, eat a variety of foods or even breathe today?

Well, look out - you might be in danger of cancer.

One of New Zealand's biggest killers, cancer - which kills a quarter of the population aged over 45 - or even just the risk of cancer has always been a hot topic.

The soy sauce cancer scare is not the first and will not be the last. And a look through the past 13 years of Herald files found it is not the most unusual by any means." (New Zealand Herald)

"British Soy Sauce Scare Leaves Bad Taste in Asia" - "HONG KONG - Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan soy sauce producers on Friday challenged warnings by Britain's food watchdog that some of their products may contain worrying levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

Australia and New Zealand followed Britain in warning consumers that certain soy sauce products contained traces of a chemical that could cause cancer if taken daily, and some supermarkets in New Zealand pulled supplies from their shelves." (Reuters)

This week, fibre good: "Fibre slashes bowel cancer risk" - "A diet rich in fibre can reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer by as much as 40%, say scientists. The data on the potential benefit of fibre comes from the biggest ever study of diet and cancer. It contradicts recent US studies which found little protective effect." (BBC Online)

"Aspartame possible therapy for sickle cell anemia" - "NEW YORK, Jun 22 - The artificial sweetener aspartame could one day be used to treat the symptoms of sickle cell anemia, preliminary study findings suggest." (Reuters Health)

"Precautionary Nonsense" - "For fear that something harmful may possibly arise, do nothing." This is how Henry Miller and Gregory Conko summarized the precautionary principle, which is worldwide environmentalism's most consistently-applied weapon against technology and progress. Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Miller and Conko say that "[r]adical environmental groups brandishing the precautionary principle have prevailed upon governments in recent decades to assail and intimidate the chemical industry and, more recently, the food industry." But these groups' agendas seldom have anything to do with food safety or the public interest: "Most proponents of precautionary regulation are more anti-business and anti-technology than they are pro-safety." (GuestChoice.com)

"Bed-share warning over baby's death" - "A leading pathologist has repeated warnings to parents of young babies not to share the same bed, after the death of a new-born boy in south Wales. An inquest in Cardiff heard that sharing a bed is "increasingly" seen as a factor in suspected cot death cases." (BBC Online)

Here it comes: "Heat on smoky heater owners" - "PEOPLE who continually create excess smoke from their woodheaters should be barred from using them, Tasmania's leading researcher in the field said yesterday. Associate professor John Todd, of the University of Tasmania, said polluters should be given three or four warnings before the ban.

Professor Todd said public education had been tried for several years, with little success, so it was time to get tough. "In terms of the number of heaters still belching out smoke all the time, it's just unacceptable," he said. He said that unless stricter regulations were brought into force Tasmania might have to ban woodheaters totally." (The Mercury)

"EU chief slams Boeing over gas-guzzling new jet" - "BRUSSELS, June 22 - The European Union's top environmental official lashed out at U.S. aircraft maker Boeing on Friday for planning to make a gas-guzzling new high-speed airliner.

In a letter to the Seattle-based aircraft giant, EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom accused Boeing's Vice-Chairman Harry Stonecipher of nonchalance towards the environmental impact of the planned new 'Sonic Cruiser' jet.

Wallstrom criticised comments Stonecipher made to The Times newspaper on Tuesday in which he appeared to dismiss concerns about increasing greenhouse gas emissions from aviation as a ``bandwagon'', saying there were was ``plenty of fossil fuel still around.'' (Reuters)

"EU Drafts Ambitious Climate Emissions Trade Plan" - "BRUSSELS - A wide range of major European Union industries will be forced to take part in buying and selling the right to emit carbon dioxide (CO2), under a draft EU law seen by Reuters on Friday. Oil refiners, electricity generators, metals smelters and processors and makers of cement, glass, ceramic, pulp and paper would all be required to take part in the ``emissions trading'' scheme which would start in 2005, the draft says." (Reuters)

"Former U.S. EPA Official Calls On Bush Administration `To Fundamentally Change America's Energy Future by Using New Power Technologies'" - "SAN DIEGO and WASHINGTON--June 22, 2001-- Edward W. Furia, the first Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Middle Atlantic States (1971-1973) told U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) officials in written testimony that ``the present energy crisis would not exist if alternative energy technologies had been developed and deployed earlier; unfortunately, it seems that it takes a crisis -- in this case, rolling blackouts, steep oil and gas prices, and global warming -- to move America to action." (BUSINESS WIRE)

By Jove, he's right! If things weren't the same they'd jolly well be different and that's a fact!

On the other hand, if alternatives were viable they would have been deployed - instead, all that they have done is waste vast sums of taxpayers' money in absurdly lavish subsidies and various boondoggles - and they're still worth jack.

"Connecticut Gov. Rowland vetoes `Sooty Six' bill aimed at cutting power plant emissions" - "HARTFORD, Conn. -- Gov. John G. Rowland vetoed the bitterly contested "Sooty Six" bill Friday aimed at forcing the state's oldest and most-polluting power plants to reduce emissions. The bill had been debated for four years as environmentalists and the electric power industry squared off." (AP)

"Protest, cream-pie greet Enron boss in California" - "SAN FRANCISCO — Enron Corp President Jeff Skilling delivered a stinging indictment of California's botched power deregulation scheme Thursday — and was greeted with pie-in-the-face from protesters angry over his company's role in the debacle. He then calmly outlined his view of why residents of the state — which has seen soaring power prices, rolling blackouts, and utility bankruptcy — should be angry, pinning blame for the energy mess on government regulators and their failed 1996 move to revamp California's energy system." (Reuters)

"Conserving California" - "AS Peterborough reported the other day, Barbra Streisand has issued "A Call To Conserve" to her fellow Californians. For various reasons, the state is in the midst of a worsening energy crisis and facing a hot, sweaty summer of rolling blackouts, so Barbra has come up with some useful tips on conservation: "Avoid running your appliances during the peak hours"; "Only run your dish-washer when it is fully loaded and air-dry your dishes instead of using the dry cycle"; "Use warm or cold water to wash clothes and try to line-dry as much as possible."

Sadly, some cynical types have scoffed at the notion of Barbra carrying a wash-basket and clothes-pegs out to the garden, and it may even be the case that Malibu is one of those prissy municipalities with a zoning ordinance forbidding such unsightly things as washing lines. It's also true that the entire statement reads like a note to the scullery maid that Barbra's press agent accidentally released to the media. But that doesn't mean celebrities can't make their own useful contribution to lowering energy consumption. Herewith, "A Call To Celebrities To Conserve": (Mark Steyn, Daily Telegraph)

"Argentine Lawmakers Approve Kyoto Climate Protocol" - "BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, June 22, 2001 - The Argentine House of Representatives has approved the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement which aims to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases are linked to global warming." (ENS)

Yeah, hurray... "Bubbling under" - "New models show that dumping carbon dioxide in the deep ocean could lock up the greenhouse gas. New models show that dumping carbon dioxide in the deep ocean could lock up the greenhouse gas for centuries. Carbon dioxide naturally dissolves into the surface of the ocean from the air, but the process is slow. Some scientists believe that by injecting the gas into deep waters we can help speed nature along." (New Scientist)

"EU mission to visit over Kyoto protocol" - "BRUSSELS A European Union delegation will visit Japan on either July 6 or 9 in an effort to save the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming, EU diplomatic sources said Wednesday. The schedule is tentative, but those two days are the only ones on which the EU mission can visit Japan and Australia, who are traditionally allies of the United States on climate change, the sources said." (Kyodo)

The Week That Was June 23, 2001 brought to you by SEPP has been posted.

"Warming up without CO2" - "Plants take in CO2 from the atmosphere through stomata, small openings in their leaves. The more stomata, the more CO2 in the air. Presented with fossil leaves from past periods of global warming, researchers would expect to find more stomata if CO2 were the only cause of warming. But fossil leaves from some periods of warming that occurred millions of years ago have few stomata. The authors must conclude that factors other than high CO2 levels may have been responsible for these periods of global warming." (BioMedNet News) | Abstract | Paleobotanical Evidence for Near Present-Day Levels of Atmospheric CO2 During Part of the Tertiary (PDF) (Science)

"NASA'S TERRA SATELLITE CAPTURES A WORLD OF SUNLIGHT AND HEAT" - "The beginning of summer is an annual reminder that our world is driven by sunlight, and new Terra satellite measurements show just how much the Sun influences the Earth's climate system.

The first observations, from March 2000 to May 2001, of the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instruments aboard Terra are the most accurate global radiation or energy measurements ever and include the first complete year of such essential data since 1987." (NASA/GSFC)

"Satellite shows no El Nino in Pacific yet, but one due" - "While change may be on the way, the Pacific is still dominated by the strong, larger-than-El Nino/La Nina pattern called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), according to the latest data from the U.S.-French TOPEX/Poseidon satellite mission, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. The PDO is a long-term ocean temperature fluctuation of the Pacific Ocean that waxes and wanes approximately every 10 to 20 years. "This continuing PDO pattern of the past three years signals more of the unusually dry conditions that have afflicted the North American west coast," said JPL oceanographer Dr. William Patzert." (NASA/JPL)

Better coverage than the "farming caused malaria" misinterpretation doing the rounds this week: "Malaria: The Bug That Changed Genes" - "THURSDAY, June 21 -- Genes that began mutating thousands of years ago when confronted by the malaria virus have evolved over the centuries to actually protect humans from the deadly disease, says a new study. The finding may lead to an understanding of how natural selection works to develop genetic protection and immunity against infectious diseases, according to lead author Sarah Ann Tishkoff, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Maryland." (HealthScoutNews)

"Animal Rights Terrorists Gather to Plot Havoc" - "On June 30th, the enemies of humanity will gather at an annual Animal Rights conference to be held in McLean, Virginia. Their cause may be animal rights, but their objective is to deprive humans of new cures for AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, along with the development of new medical techniques to bring an end to other causes of suffering. And that's just one element of an agenda aimed at every living man, woman and child on earth." (Tom DeWeese, APC)

"Animal crackers and grizzly business" - "Bush runs into difficulty over his nation’s obsession with creatures great and small.

The great ideological rift defining America in the early part of this century will not be over money, or war or even mere politics, but over all creatures great and small: the grizzly bear, the suckerfish, the caribou and the bichon frisé dog.

Animal issues provoke more heated popular debate in America than any other single subject, including taxation — how to treat them and protect them, whether to shoot them, eat them, work them or wear them, and above all how to balance their rights against human needs." (The Times)

"Making Medical Progress a Crime" - "If you get all your news from The New York Times, you'd think that the Bush administration is wrestling with its most important and controversial biomedical policy issue: whether to allow federal funding of research using stem cells from frozen embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. (The latest Times story, on Senate Republicans who support the research, is here.) Unfortunately, through a great trick of policy misdirection, the administration has already taken a much more extreme and dangerous position on a more important biomedical issue: whether to criminalize "therapeutic cloning." (Virginia Postrel, Reason)

"EU: Safe food at competitive prices is continuing goal, says Fischler" - "Food health scares have eroded consumer confidence in food safety and agriculture, the EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler told the European Parliament yesterday, but it is still possible to make policy changes to ensure food quality “to everyone and not only to a few who can afford it."

Fischler added that it is no small task to combine these briefs of safety and competitive price, but “in the long run, only the combination of the different demands of society will pay off.”

He maintains that the way forward for European agriculture is to continue pressing for less intensive farming systems, an approach first adopted by governments about ten years ago." (just-food.com)

"Those Who Are Blind To The Fruits Of Progress" - "The Luddites are coming! The Luddites are coming!

That's right. The anti-technology, anti-commerce, anti-trade activists who disrupted the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle two years ago, who bum-rushed the Emerald City's constabulary, who caused the city's shopkeepers millions of dollars in property damage, are descending on San Diego.

They aim to make their noisy presence felt at the Biotechnology Industry Association's international convention opening Sunday. The annual gathering will bring more than 12,000 industry leaders to San Diego, which boasts the nation's third-largest concentration of biotech companies.

The activists hope to use San Diego as a backdrop to continue their disinformation campaign against biotechnology. To frighten the American people into believing that bioengineered agricultural and pharmaceutical products are a threat to public health and well-being." (San Diego Union Tribune)

"Science and agriculture in Africa" - "We are delighted to receive for publication an article by Boru Douthwaite of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria. Boru is the Impact and Adoption Specialist for IITA and is part of a team whose mission is to enhance the food security, income, and well-being of resource-poor people - primarily in the humid and subhumid zones of sub-Saharan Africa. The centre conducts research on methods of increasing agricultural production and improving food systems, and on the sustainable management of natural resources. It works in close partnership with national and international stakeholders. Boru's paper specifically addresses the role that biotechnolgy can play in meeting these objectives, arguing that it is one of many tools that can and should be employed to bring hope to some of the poorest farmers in the world. He also views it has having the potential to contribute significantly to increasing biodiversity on our planet, something which conventional approaches and the 'Green Revolution' have inadvertently reduced." (Social Issues Research Centre)

"Five reasons why GMO food labels don't work" - "Last year, one of my farmer colleagues grew some genetically engineered sweet corn and table potatoes. Neither the Bt sweet corn nor the potatoes required any insecticides to manage pests. After harvest, the two crops were sold in his farm market in Hillsburgh, Ont., fully labelled, alongside their conventional counterparts.

The genetically engineered Bt sweet corn outsold the conventional by a margin of 3-2. Same for the potatoes. The two products were sold for the same price, and while many consumers were more interested in taste, for others, the primary selling point was the reduction in pesticide sprays and worm damage." (Douglas Powell, National Post)

"Environmental Assessment on Releasing Pink Bollworms Available" - "The U.S. Department of Agriculture has prepared an environmental assessment for the proposed confined release of a genetically altered pink bollworm. The pink bollworms, pests of cotton, will be placed outdoors in special containers that will allow them to interact with the outside environment without being able to leave the container. These pink bollworms have been altered to fluoresce green under certain lighting conditions." (AgWeb.com)

"JAPAN: Japan's snack recalls exacerbate biotech fuss" - "TOKYO, June 22 - Distrust over genetically modified (GM) foods in Japan deepened on Friday after the third recall in less than a month of snack products containing unapproved gene-spliced potato.

Japan's Bourbon Corp said it had voluntarily recalled some of its snack products after traces of unapproved NewLeaf Plus potato were detected.

It was the second case this week after the nationwide recall by Calbee Foods of its 'Jagariko' snack on Wednesday and Japan's third since the imposition in April of stricter rules to guard against imports of unapproved GM products." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace has Govt’s ear, farmers turn shrill; Say NGO influenced Bt cotton decision" - "New Delhi, June 22: THE build-up to the Centre’s decision to extend the trial period for Bt cotton by a year is more interesting than the decision itself: the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) invited farmers, seed companies to a dialogue on whether Bt cotton should be grown commercially, and surprise, surprise, ‘‘foreign NGO’’ Greenpeace was part of what the Ministry called an ‘open discussion behind closed doors’.

Much to the farmers’ chagrin and environmentalists’ delight, the very next day, the government announced its decision to extend the trial period by a year." (Indian Express)

"Consumers Must Know Value Of GMOs" - "Don Carlson, President, Dennis Detillieux, Secretary and Gerald Wurm, Treasurer of the Humboldt and District Marketing Club discussed at a recent meeting, according to this letter, what they could do to counteract all the negative information about GMO crops and biotechnology.

"Maybe we should start a class action lawsuit against Percy Schmeiser for losses we've incurred because of his ongoing battle with Monsanto" was a wry suggestion. "Perhaps we should do our part in voicing our concerns by writing a public letter" was another." (StarPheonix)

"GM flax yanked off market; European customers' fears fuel unprecedented move" - "A genetically modified (GM) flax seed developed at the University of Saskatchewan has been taken off the market because of European fears the variety will contaminate other flax produced in Canada.

The last of the 200,000 bushels of Triffid flax seed worth at least $2.5 million was rounded up from farms across the Prairies and crushed earlier this year and deregistered April 1." (StarPheonix)

"Field experiments resume on virus-resistant papaya" - "A field experiment on genetically modified papayas was yesterday allowed to resume by Deputy Agriculture Minister Nathee Klipthong.

The field trial, by the Agriculture Department, was put on hold by a cabinet resolution in April after demands by greens that all GM field trials be scrapped in the absence of a biosafety law and good preventive measures." (Bangkok Post)

"FoE calls for stricter safety tests on GM produce" - "The way in which genetically modified goods are approved is not enough to protect human or animal health, environment group Friends of the Earth claimed yesterday. Its findings appear in a new report which claims current procedures are unlikely to pick up unexpected health effects, such as toxins or allergens, that may be created by GM foods." (The Scotsman)

"Africa Needs Biotechnology Tools To Aid In Sustainable Development And Disease Control" - "The ability of African countries to access, assess and utilise biotechnology, is crucial for future economic development in Africa. Agricultural biotechnology projects for small-scale cotton farmers in South-Africa show that this technology has a role to play in sustainable agriculture. Dr John Wafula said during a visit of African biotechnology stakeholders to the EC, "We want the European Union to aid Africans in the utilisation of biotechnology in a responsible and safe way, thus improving the livelihood of the communities in Africa." Dr. Wafula is the Deputy Director of the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), and his sentiments are echoed by AfricaBio - the Biotechnology Stakeholders' Association." (AfricaBio-EuropaBio)

"Field trials of GM foods restricted" - "THE state's research organisations are carrying out more than 110 projects using genetically modified organisms. But information released on the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator's website yesterday shows little use will be made of GM organisms in field trials. Most of the GMO research is being carried out by universities and research organisations in strictly controlled laboratory conditions." (The Advertiser)

"Aventis plans for GM protests" - "In the aftermath of Australia's new Gene Technology Act coming into force, Aventis Crop Science has raised concerns about the potential for protests, if it's forced to reveal the location of its trial sites for genetically-modified crops. Under the new Act all sites are to be made public, unless an exemption can be granted under commercial confidentiality rules. Aventis has just received approval to plant nine winter trial sites in New South Wales and Victoria with genetically modifed canola. Its agri-chemical colleague, Monsanto has the go-ahead to plant six GM canola sites in the two states and Western Australia. Naomi Stevens from Aventis says the potential for protests from anti-gm groups is at the forefront of the company's concerns, and contingency plans have already been put in place.

Naomi Stevens: We're protected by the common law as much as anybody else. There are trespass situations and we would also keep the local authorities informed if there was a situation anywhere. So it would be no different to anyone protecting a shop or local business." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Greens call for tougher GM law" - "Greens Senator Bob Brown, has dismissed the concern of Aventis, that protesters will target its trial sites of genetically modified crops. He's demanding immediate changes to the law, to force companies to disclose the location of field trials.

Bob Brown I notice that there is a lot of comment about there may be sabotage of these crops, but the real problem is the sabotage of the organic farming industry in Australia by those big multinationals. That's the real problem. That is a multi-million dollar threat. It's far beyond any threat from a few greenies crossing a fence and pulling out a few plants." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

June 22, 2001

"Congress Working Hard to Make Schools Safe for Roaches and Rodents" - "The U.S. Senate this week acted to make schools safer for cockroaches and other pests. A bill promoted by anti-pesticide activists and agreed to by the cowering pesticide industry sailed through Senate approval.

If enacted, the legislation would require schools to tell parents what pesticides they are using and when, would prohibit use of pesticides in areas where kids congregate, prohibit some pesticides from being used in areas within 24 hours of a child's presence and require states to develop pest-management plans for their schools that don't involve pesticides." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Warning: "Biodevastation" Activists Spread False Fears About Safe Foods: Misleading Attacks on Milk Cause Unnecessary Concerns for Parents and Consumers" - "(San Diego/ New York, Friday, 22 June 2001) Caveat Emptor. Consumers and Journalists beware-Biodevastation activists aim to target you over the next few days with false and misleading information about food safety, nutrition and the environment. The same people who brought you a long list of other false health and environmental scares-including the infamous Alar in apples scare, the Dow-Corning breast implant campaign-and dozens of other debunked fears are at it again. This time the scaremongers are targeting such safe foods as milk and other dairy products in your local supermarket and at food retail outlets such as Starbucks." (ACSH)

"Cancer link chemicals in farm's eggs" - "An investigation has begun in north Wales after tests revealed high levels of cancer-causing chemicals in tests on chicken eggs taken near foot-and-mouth pyres." (BBC Online)

"Farm toxins 'not due to foot-and-mouth'" - "Tests have failed to find unexpectedly high levels of cancer-causing substances in milk, eggs, soil and grass on farms near foot-and-mouth pyres, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said yesterday." (Independent)

"Teens exposed to toxic chemicals at work: report" - "NEW YORK, Jun 21 - As teenagers across the country gear up to begin their summer jobs, a new study reports that exposure to chemical toxins such as cleaning agents, bleaches and acids can cause serious harm to these young workers.

"This study documented what has long been suspected but without adequate confirmatory data--that children under 18 years of age in the United States who hold part-time jobs are at some risk of toxic exposures while on the job," Dr. Alan Woolf of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health." (Reuters Health)

"Smoking drinkers '50 times more at risk from cancer'" - "PEOPLE who drink more than a bottle of wine a day as well as smoking more than 20 cigarettes increase their risk of getting throat cancers by more than 50 times, specialists said yesterday.

Early results from a huge European study of diet and cancer also show that eating about 1lb (500 grams) of fruit and vegetables every day, not including potatoes, decreases the risk of throat cancers by 50 per cent. But the researchers in the Europe-wide investigation, part of which began 15 years ago, have found no protective effect from eating fruit and vegetables on lung and stomach cancers." (Telegraph)

But is that 50 times 1:1,000,000,000 risk? 1:200 perhaps? What is the actual risk? 50 times X doesn't tell us anything useful at all.

"UN to pay $243 mln for Gulf War environment studies" - "GENEVA, — The United Nations Gulf War reparations body is set to pay $243.3 million on Thursday to five Middle Eastern countries to fund studies on environmental damage caused by Iraq, diplomatic sources said." (Reuters)

"Sudbury neutrino study solves problem" - "In the media -- have you noticed this? -- scientists are always making "breakthroughs." They're "on the front lines" of research. They're "battling" this or that. In reality, if you ask any scientists, things are much less dramatic in the lab. Research, for the most part, is tiny steps, sometimes forward, sometimes not. The big breakthrough -- like its World War I original -- is mostly a figment of the imagination." (Michael Smith, CNEWS Science)

"CARA bill up for a new run" - "Washington -- A bill to spend more than $3 billion a year on land conservation and recreation nearly cleared Congress last year, and now its supporters are trying again." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Fair water use for all" - "Can government turn off the tap for farmers and other water users to provide more water for endangered fish? Only if it pays the people it leaves high and dry.

This was the message of a major court decision last month involving water usage in California's heartland.

The ruling was a victory for water users in the San Joaquin Valley whose supplies dried up during the last drought because federal environmental policy didn't balance the needs of fish with the needs of people.

The landmark decision in Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District v. US should encourage regulators to be thoughtful in crafting environmental policy - and more likely to remember that humans, as well as wildlife and fish, have interests that deserve respect." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Viruses to destroy disease" - "Scientists are harnessing the destructive power of tiny viruses to combat potentially deadly bacterial diseases. They have already discovered a virus that can destroy the E. coli bacterium that can cause severe food poisoning. They are now working on other viruses which may have the potential to kill off the bacteria that cause other serious diseases." (BBC Online)

"UK: Link between milk and Crohn's disease under investigation" - "The Food Standards Agency (FSA) insisted yesterday that the reported link between milk and Crohn's disease has not been “universally proved.” Nevertheless, the food watchdog revealed that it is set to identify “precautionary measures” aimed at reducing human exposure to a bug found in milk believed to cause the disease." (just-food.com)

"Heart link to problem pregnancies" - "Mothers who have low birthweight babies or pregnancy complications are far more likely to suffer from heart problems later in life, say experts. The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, supports the theory that there may be a genetic link between the two." (BBC Online)

"Spread of farming may have given rise to the biggest killer in human history" - "Malaria became the biggest killer in human history after the invention of agriculture in about 8,000BC, according to scientists who have found evidence to suggest that the rise of the disease can be attributed to the spread of farming." (Independent)

"Researchers trace disease-fighting gene mutation" - "WASHINGTON - Hundreds of millions of people are now protected from contracting severe malaria - the mosquito-borne disease that is the world's deadliest infection - because of a gene mutation that arose thousands of years ago. Researchers report Friday in the journal Science that they have traced the natural evolution in Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean area of the mutation that gives some protection from malaria's most serious effects." (AP)

"Toilet habits 'could cause stroke'" - "The way some people go to the toilet could be a matter of life or death. Squatting may increase the risk of stroke, particularly if a person is defecating, researchers suggest." (BBC Online)

"Attack on tax status of environment group Conservatives ask IRS for new ruling" - "In a move that could hobble environmental protests, a conservative lobbying organization has petitioned the Internal Revenue Service to rescind nonprofit status for a San Francisco environmental group.

Environmentalists say a positive ruling by the IRS would have a chilling effect on nonprofit organizations that sometimes engage in lobbying or protests.

The unusual action by the Frontiers of Freedom Institute in Arlington, Va., against Rainforest Action Network (RAN) could represent a new strategy by conservative groups alarmed by recent large-scale protests against world trade and multinational corporations." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Energy crisis accelerated, not helped, by increased oil production" - "Researchers predict only 30–50 years at most before reserves begin to decline sharply. Increasing oil production will hasten the day when demand for oil outstrips supply and will make an inevitable oil crisis far more unmanageable, researchers from the University of Rochester say." (University of Rochester)

Or, if we starve everyone for the next 30-50 years, there'll be lot's more food available in 100 years' time?

"US fuel rules may cause more pollution - report" - "CHICAGO - A U.S. government program designed to encourage automakers to make vehicles that increase the use of alternative fuels such as ethanol may have increased demand for gasoline and worsened environmental damage, according to a draft study by U.S. government agencies for Congress." (Reuters)

"White House Backs Ethanol That Consumers Don't Use" - "A report prepared for Congress by the Bush administration recommends continuing federal subsidies for ethanol-fueled vehicles. But it does so despite finding that the program has failed to live up to either of its goals: reducing gasoline consumption and substantially increasing the use of alternative fuels, The New York Times reports today.

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

"Greenpeace traps British trawler in fishing protest" - "Greenpeace activists have trapped a British-owned trawler in a port to protest its method of fishing and Norway's national fisheries policies.

The Arctic Corsair, owned by the Boyd Line of Hull, England, is docked in the Norwegian Arctic port of Tromsoe on its way to the Barents Sea. Greenpeace say 11 of its activists have boarded or blocked the Russian-flagged ship with ropes and rubber boats to prevent it from leaving port.

However, its owner said the ship had not planned to sail to the fishing grounds for about two weeks anyway. John Williams, Boyd Line's manager, said his company is known as one of the fishing concerns that most actively supports conservation efforts. "Frankly, I think they got the wrong ship." Mr Williams said the company would not immediately ask police to remove the activists. "As far as we are concerned, they are welcome to stay on board," he said." (Ananova)

"Bush's 'fast-track' aspirations face Kyoto backlash" - "WASHINGTON - After President George W Bush's repudiation of the Kyoto Protocol accord on climate change, environmental groups are forming a united front against the administration's request for "fast-track" trade negotiating authority.

"The administration's rejection of the Kyoto accord on climate change cast legitimate doubts on the administration's ability to ensure that global environmental protections are integrated into our globalizing markets," said Fred Krupp, executive director of Environmental Defense, a Washington-based advocacy group." (Asia Times)

"EU and Canada agree to promote climate protocol" - "STOCKHOLM - Canada and the European Union agreed yesterday to work together to promote the Kyoto Protocol, the international pact to combat global warming that has been rejected by the United States." (Reuters)

"Number of the month – 15" - "15 is the number of European countries that have not yet ratified the Kyoto treaty, but nevertheless arrogate to themselves the right to bad-mouth Dubya for being honest about the issue.

In reality the European leaders must be grateful to the American President for getting them off an uncomfortable hook. Because of proportional representation, most European governments have Greens with Neolithic ambitions in their coalitions, who invariably bag the ministries concerned with the environment. Thus economic suicide is built into their declared policies and it is very convenient to have an outside agency to blame for not adopting it.

You have to hand it to the Greens, however. By picking on carbon dioxide for the construction of their prime myth they have chosen the one product that is common to all real industry. When the myth is exposed they resort to the precautionary principle – Ah but what if you are wrong? On the basis of such reasoning everyone should stay in bed all day.

Incidentally, Number Watch attended a meeting at the Institute for Economic Affairs in London in which Philip Stott performed a superb demolition job on Global Warming. OK, any schoolboy could do it if he were allowed access to truthful information, but Philip did in extemporaneous style and covered all the defects of the theory – political, economic and scientific. It is a pity the performance was not televised for the whole world to enjoy. Particularly striking was the evidence from recent stories of how widespread political censorship is keeping the myth alive in the British media and totally suppressing any opposing evidence." (Professor John Brignell, Number Watch)

"Livestock tax is in the wind" - "A TAX on farm animals' flatulence was proposed yesterday by a think-tank sponsored by the New Zealand government. New Zealand has little heavy industry, so methane emissions from its 45 million sheep and 10 million cattle make up almost half the country's contribution to the world's greenhouse gases.

In a report, the taxation review panel said: "We have been unable to find any explanation why ruminant methane should be excluded from a carbon tax regime." It said the tax would be levied on farmers according to how many head of animals they had and would accord with the Kyoto protocol on global warming." (Telegraph)

"Study Cites Carbon Dioxide's 'Sink'" - "WASHINGTON - New estimates of the United States' contribution to global warming show that forest growth, crops and rivers absorb a quarter to a half of the nation's yearly 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels. But that cushion against a buildup in atmospheric greenhouse gases will likely disappear over the next century as forests mature and absorb less carbon, said Stephen Pacala, a Princeton University researcher." (AP) | Scientists reconcile opposing views of U.S. role in greenhouse gas problem (Princeton University) | Carbon Sink Estimates Reconciled | Consistent Land- and Atmosphere-Based U.S. Carbon Sink Estimates (PDF) (Science Magazine)

"NASA Marshall scientist seeks improved methods for weather prediction in southeast U.S." - "A new NASA-developed technique to improve numerical weather prediction – one that looks to the ground as well as the clouds – may one day help forecasters increase the accuracy of spring and summer weather predictions." (NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center)

"Warming's spiritual cost" - "THE NATION'S Catholic bishops are intent on breaking the logjam that prevents the United States from dealing with the threat of global warming. Their statement last week was a welcome call for Americans to ''contribute equitably to global solutions.'' (Boston Globe)

"Panel urges action on climate change" - "WASHINGTON, June 20 -- Climate change -- to a new, slightly warmer climate -- is real, but the situation calls for long-term policy action over decades, rather than quick action over the short haul, according to a panel in Washington, D.C.

Senator Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., delivered that message at an event sponsored by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, which is run by the slightly right-of-center American Enterprise Institute and the slightly left-of-center Brookings Institution." (UPI)

"Minister refuses to row over Bush's 'wrong' environment stance" - "Environment Minister Michael Meacher says he has no plans to confront George W Bush over his decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol." (Ananova)

"Blue Planet: Certainty of climate uncertainty" - "Since June 6, when the National Academy of Sciences gave their stamp of approval to the work of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, U.S. officials have had a tough time dismissing the conclusions of the IPCC report.

Yet uncertainties big and small about global warming do remain. Indeed, uncertainty itself is a field of scientific study -- one almost tailor-made for climate research. Predicting potential climate futures involves hundreds, if not thousands, of variables." (UPI)

Henry Payne's comment (Detroit News)

"The Kyoto Delusion" - "The education of George W. Bush on global warming is simply summarized: Honesty may not be the best policy. Greenhouse politics have long blended exaggeration and deception. Although global warming may or may not be an inevitable calamity (we don't know), politicians everywhere treat it as one. Doing otherwise would offend environmental lobbies and the public, which has been conditioned to see it as a certain disaster. But the same politicians won't do anything that would dramatically reduce global warming, because the obvious remedy -- steep increases in energy prices -- would be immensely unpopular." (Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post)

"Advocacy posing as 'research'" - "Two new studies in the latest Journal of the American Dietetic Association set new standards for conflicts of interest in scientific research. Both reach essentially the same conclusion: that a strict vegan diet can (with careful monitoring) result in good overall health for children and even infants. While this would indeed be unusual and groundbreaking news if it were reliable, a closer look at the "scientists" presenting these reports raises some serious questions.

Virginia Messina sits on the scientific advisory board of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (an animal-rights front group posing as a nutrition-advocacy organization). She is also the author of two books: The Convenient Vegetarian and The Vegetarian Way. Not exactly an open-minded and unbiased researcher. Messina's lab partner, Ann Reed Mangels, is also hard to consider impartial. A board member of the Vegetarian Resource Group in Baltimore, Mangels wrote a chapter of Debra Wasserman's 1999 book Simply Vegan, in which she openly advocated meat- and milk-free diets for all children." (GuestChoice.com)

"UK: FSA remains lukewarm on organics despite booming growth in demand" - "The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) yesterday confirmed that its stance on organic foods remains lukewarm. Dr Andrew Wadge, head of the FSA's Chemical Safety and Toxicology Division, told delegates at an organic food briefing held by the Society of Food Hygiene Technology (SOFHT): "The Food Standards Agency considers that there is not enough information available at present to be able to say that organic foods are significantly different in terms of their safety and nutritional content to those produced by conventional farming." (just-food.com)

Toxic-typewriter, Naomi Klein, at it again: "When choice becomes just a memory" - "Europeans would be forgiven for thinking that the war against genetic tampering in the food supply has been all but won. There are labels in the supermarkets aisles, there is mounting political support for organic farming, and Greenpeace campaigners are seen to represent such a mainstream point of view that the courts have let them off for uprooting genetically modified crops. ... The real strategy is to introduce so much genetic pollution that meeting the consumer demand for GM-free food is seen as not possible. The idea, quite simply, is to pollute faster than countries can legislate - then change the laws to fit the contamination." (Naomi Klein, Guardian)

Ms Klein conveniently forgets that the only "GM-free" food is composed of weeds and wildlife, all domesticated species have been genetically modified over millennia. Whether trying to terrorise the populace into consuming only wild stocks is particularly conservation- or eco-friendly is a moot point. Serious conservationists seem to favour biotechnology in agriculture for its promise to reduce the agro-footprint despite increasing human demand, thus leaving more room for wildlife habitat.

"Greens tell UK to halt GM crops or face new crisis" - "LONDON - UK environmentalists called on the government to rethink its "enthusiastic" stance on genetically modified foods yesterday, saying their production could usher in a new health crisis similar to mad cow disease." (Reuters)

"Technological evils: a thorough defense" - "A recent survey of Americans by an environmental organization found that 90 percent believe chemicals, pollution and waste are responsible for problems like asthma and chronic diseases. If that's your viewpoint, may I suggest a slim book by University of Houston economics professor Thomas DeGregori." (Jim Barlow, Houston Chronicle)

"Study finds ginseng has no mood-boosting effect" - "NEW YORK, Jun 20 - Despite claims that ginseng has mood-enhancing properties, researchers conducting a study found no evidence that the herbal supplement can enhance mood in healthy young adults anymore than a sugar pill.

If further study shows that the herb can help certain groups of people, such as the elderly or those who are anxious or fatigued, then the supplements should be clearly labeled as such, the researchers conclude in the report published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association." (Reuters Health)

"Transgenic cotton fails to get environmental nod" - "IN A major triumph for environmentalists, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has withheld environmental clearance for large scale cultivation of transgenic Bt. cotton. Instead, it has called for fresh large scale field trials under the direct supervision of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research under their Advanced Varietal Trials of the All India Co-ordinated Cotton Improvement Project." (Economic Times)

"GM giants escape strict new laws" - "The Federal Government's controversial gene technology regulations, which came into effect yesterday, have been attacked by the opposition and green groups for being hastily implemented and failing to protect farmers and consumers." (The Age, Melbourne)

"GM laws please industry but criticised by environmentalists" - "New regulations over genetically modified (GM) organisms have been welcomed by the industry groups, but criticised by environment groups. The national laws replace a voluntary system, with the independent Office of the Gene Technology Regulator to police them." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Farmers want sites of GM crop trials kept secret" - "A company which ran three genetically engineered crop trials in Tasmania says moves to stop site details from being published on the Internet are in the interests of the farmers involved. New laws allow the locations to be published on the net, but farmers have applied to have them kept confidential. The national Gene Technology Regulator will assess the claims against a public benefits test." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"JAPAN: Government mulls extending GM labelling requirements" - "In response to the recent GM-contaminated snack food recall by manufacturer Calbee Foods, the Japanese government is considering extending the requirements of labels on genetically modified food products. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries revealed that it is likely to revise labelling requirements to cover ingredients such as processed GM potatoes.

According to Kyodo News, the Japanese government has approved only 35 GM foods for human consumption. The Food and Drug Administration in the US has approved 51." (just-food.com)

"'No need' for Welsh GM trials" - "In another twist into the GM controversy, BBC Wales learns that the government was advised there was no need to hold trials in Wales at all. Ministers in the then Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions were told by their own scientific advisers that removing Welsh sites would have no impact on the validity of the research." (BBC Online)

June 21, 2001

"Scientists decry lack of data on PCBs in the Hudson" - "The PCB-laden fish off North Jersey's Hudson River shoreline could soon be sandwiched between projects stirring up thousands of pounds of the carcinogenic chemical. But New Jersey is so woefully short on data that it's unclear how many pounds of PCBs are in its waters now, much less how dredging could affect the situation, two scientists warned state legislators on Tuesday.

The "severe" lack of data makes it hard to predict whether New Jersey would benefit from the federal government's half-billion-dollar plan to remove PCBs from the upper Hudson River or what the effect would be of similar dredging plans for shipping channels in Newark Bay, they said." (Bergen County Record)

"Ashcroft Aims for Tobacco Settlement"  - "U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, has decided to try to settle the federal government's massive landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry, Justice Department officials said yesterday.

In "When Theft Masquerades as Law," Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies Robert A. Levy explains government lawsuits against socially unpopular -- but deep-pocketed -- industries including the gun manufacturers, HMOs, and tobacco companies. He writes that, "when we condone the selective and retroactive application of extraordinary legal principles, intended specifically to transfer resources from disfavored defendants to favored plaintiffs -- or indeed to the public sector -- we substitute political cronyism for fundamental fairness, make a mockery of justice, and trample on our precious liberty."

In "Clinton's Tobacco War: How High the Constitutional Price?" Director of Natural Resources Studies Jerry Taylor writes that presidential mandates to "save our kids from Joe Camel run roughshod over our most basic civil liberties and threaten to actually ban cigarettes as we know them." (Cato Institute)

"New AMA president takes on gun lobby" - "CHICAGO, Jun 20 - The new president of the American Medical Association says it is time to use science to attack the "uniquely American epidemic" of gun violence. In an unusual move Dr. Richard Corlin abandoned the usual language of an inaugural address by an AMA president and instead talked about his secretary who was shot and killed by random gunfire." (Reuters Health)

"Mobile phone effects on eyes study to begin" - "Scientists from the University of Sydney are about to begin a world-first study into the effects of mobile telephones on the eyes of long-term phone users. The university's School of Applied Vision Sciences has been granted $300,000 by the federal government to fund a two-year study into how the heating of body tissue by mobile telephone radiation affects people's eyes over a long period." (AAP)

"US drivers want better mileage when they fill up" - "By a nearly 5-to-1 margin, Americans surveyed say they would favor a new law that would force car manufacturers to increase auto and truck fuel mileage." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Groups urge hike in U.S. vehicle-fuel standard" - "WASHINGTON, June 20 - Two advocacy groups on Wednesday urged Congress and the Bush administration to hike vehicle fuel-economy standards sharply in coming years to cut U.S. reliance on foreign oil and protect the environment.

The Union of Concerned Scientists and Center for Auto Safety said federal fuel-efficiency standards for new cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles should be raised to 40 miles per gallon by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020." (Reuters)

If only the construction of tinfoil buzz-boxes were "safer" then they'd have a point.

"$17.9 MILLION PLEDGED FOR CLEANER SCHOOL BUSES" - "LOS ANGELES, California, June 20, 2001 - The South Coast Air Quality Management District has approved $17.9 million in grants to 28 school districts to purchase 169 new, clean burning natural gas school buses or less polluting diesel models to help reduce children's exposure to toxic diesel soot.

"These compressed natural gas-powered buses, and lower-emission diesel models, will cut children's health risk from breathing diesel soot, which the state of California has declared a cancer causing agent," said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

AQMD's action on June 15 will fund the purchase of 102 compressed natural gas (CNG) school buses, CNG fueling stations for the vehicles, as well as 67 lower emission diesel buses in 28 school districts in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

"Combined with AQMD's school bus rule, this is a major step toward providing students a diesel free ride to school," Wallerstein said." (ENS)

"Green groups row over clean air report" - "A row has broken out between environmental groups over the health risks posed by waste incinerators. A controversial study on public fears about the health effects of waste incinerators prepared by the National Society for Clean Air is to be launched a conference in London. It suggests that the potential for health impacts from modern incineration plants are now so low as to be negligible." (ITN) | Row over incinerator health risks (BBC Online)

"Ford's replacement tires ripped" - "WASHINGTON -- Government investigators are examining data collected by a congressional committee that reportedly shows Ford Motor Co. is replacing Firestone tires with other brands that fail more often. Michael Jackson, deputy secretary of transportation, told the House Commerce Committee that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would give a preliminary response to its analysis on Wednesday." (AP)

"Cough and cold medicines restricted after PPA ruling" - "Cough and cold medicines with paracetamol and chlorpheniramine are now classified as dangerous drugs and cannot be sold over the counter without the supervision of a pharmacist. This is the effect of a ban on the use of phenylpropanolamine (PPA), which came into effect yesterday. The National Drug Commission considers paracetamol, chlorpheniramine and PPA individually as dangerous drugs. However, it approved cough medicine containing the three ingredients in small amounts as an "over-the-counter" drug." (Bangkok Post)

"Selenium Research Points to Curative Powers" - "NEW YORK - Once thought to be a deadly carcinogen, selenium is now seen as a new wonder mineral that lists cancer prevention, AIDS suppression, and anti-aging among its numerous benefits to humans and animals.

Selenium has been recognized as an essential micro-nutrient for over 40 years, but only since the 1990s has research broadened awareness of its curative powers in areas as diverse as immune system enhancement, virology, arthritis and coronary disease, according to the Selenium-Tellurium Development Association, an international trade group." (Reuters)

"Scientist encouraged by mad cow disease efforts" - "LONDON - A British scientist reported Wednesday that research aimed at finding a treatment for the human form of mad cow disease is showing promise and could lead to a drug within about five years.

The fatal illness, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, occurs when normal proteins found in the brain, known as prions, change shape and prompt healthy prions to do the same. When enough prions have done so, they deposit a plaque on the brain and surround the mark with spongy holes, killing the victim." (AP)

That's certainly the popular hypothesis at this stage but it's far from a certainty.

"World health groups' advice on BSE" - "International guidelines to prevent the future spread of BSE around the world have been agreed by a joint meeting of the World Health Organisation, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Office International des Epizooties, the world's animal health organisation." (just-food.com)

"Obesity linked to asthma in women but not men" - "TORONTO, Jun 20 - Obese women have almost double the risk of developing asthma compared with women who are not obese, Canadian researchers reported here at the 2001 Congress of Epidemiology. However, the link between obesity and asthma risk did not apply to men in the study." (Reuters Health)

"Lose weight, use more oil" - "ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS - A Japanese company has created a new kind of cooking oil it claims actually fights fat. Kao Corporation, in conjunction with American conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland, presented its new-fangled oil at a conference in Rotterdam. Kao created the product and launched it in Japan in 1999.

Archer Daniels announced it was ready to introduce the oil in the United States in a few years. "It's going to be a difficult market proposition. We have been saying fat is evil, it makes you fat, it causes heart disease," says Gary Miller of Archer Daniels." (CBC)

Good luck fellas, the fear-mongers managed to pretty well kill Olestra.

"Don't throw out that canola oil!" - "In the coming weeks you may receive an e-mail that begins "Consumer alert! Canola oil is hazardous to your health!" Throw it right in the trash: the e-mail, not the canola oil. The Akron Beacon-Journal reports on this hoax and the curious story behind it, including the allegation that Canola is "an industrial oil and does not belong in the human body." The author of this tall tale is one John Thomas, a name that is almost certainly a nom de plume. Considering that much of the same information in this e-mail hoax also turns up in articles on "natural foods" and "health & wellness" web sites (for example: Moonlight Health, Best Health, and Karinya Natural Health Products), it's not hard to figure out who's driving this scare campaign. The author even claims that "Canola Oil is the suspected causative agent for Scrapie," which is a sheep disease related to mad cow. For more information on this hoax and the hucksters responsible for it, read the excellent summary at www.about.com." (GuestChoice.com)

"Hens might require salmonella testing" - "Hens might become the first live animals to require testing for salmonella, if new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations are approved in the White House this month. The proposals, which govern action to be taken if a flock of birds is found to be infected with salmonella, will make it necessary for farmers to disinfect hen houses, implement pest control measures and conduct annual testing for the bacteria." (just-food.com)

"AMA Urges Phasing Out Antibiotic" - "CHICAGO - The American Medical Association wants the government to phase out the overuse of antibiotics in livestock, broadening the organization's campaign to curb human resistance to the lifesaving drugs. At its annual meeting, the AMA's policymaking House of Delegates approved a resolution this week urging that "non-therapeutic" use of antibiotics in animals be phased out or eliminated. The measure refers specifically to antibiotics that are given to humans as well." (AP)

"Soy sauce cancer warning" - "High levels of potentially cancer causing chemicals have been found in some soy sauce products. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning to consumers following the results of tests on 100 samples, of which 22 gave cause for concern. However, the FSA has stressed that the majority of samples contained none of these contaminants whatsoever, and that all those from major retail chains were completely safe." (BBC Online)

"U.S. Warns About 13 Chinese Herb Products" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. health officials warned consumers on Wednesday to stop using 13 Chinese herb products containing a chemical that regulators said may cause kidney damage. The products contain aristolochic acid, a plant chemical linked to kidney failure and an increased risk of kidney cancer, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement." (Reuters)

"Nigeria Moves Against Food Crisis, World Bank Predicts Shortage" - "With Nigeria currently at the verge of a food crisis, the plight of her citizens may worsen by 2020, the year the World Bank says Africa will experience food shortage.

To avert the looming famine based on the World Bank projection of 250 million tonnes, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Malam Adamu Bello, in Abuja yesterday, held a meeting with chairmen of boards of agricultural research institutes to map out strategies to tackle the menace." (The Guardian, Lagos)

"Tightening environmental screws" - "AN increase in environmental legislation in SA, much of which contains First World liability standards, poses an immediate challenge to businesses. The criminal, civil and ecological liabilities associated with this scenario are extensive and potentially lethal in a corporate sense, as the size of fines has increased.

Compounding the urgency to manage these risks are efforts being made to give effect to constitutional environmental rights and the effect of globalisation. Private citizens have access to environmentally related company information, private prosecutions are a reality, and the possibility of class-action suits has increased. The costs clean-up orders can be large. Environmental administrative compliance requirements have escalated and are becoming difficult to satisfy." (Business Day, ZA)

"Health food on the menu; Pesticide-free fruit, veggies for patients" - "Patients at state-run hospitals will get pesticide-free fruit and vegetables with their meals. Dr Suvit Viboonpolprasert, deputy health permanent secretary, said hospitals should not only treat people, but also ensure they get nutritious food.

The Agriculture Ministry had a pilot a project to grow pesticide-free vegetables, and the produce would initially be supplied to 25 hospitals in 23 provinces.

A survey last year by the ministry found pesticide residue in 58% of market vegetables labelled pesticide-free." (Bangkok Post)

"New skin from old hair" - "Scientists can now grow skin from hair follicles - cutting out the need for painful skin grafts. Researchers from the Swiss biotechnology company Modex Therapeutics, based in Lausanne, said they can use the stem cells found in hair follicles to grow new skin. They are hopeful this technique, called Epidex, could soon mean an end to the painful process of taking skin from other parts of the body for grafts." (BBC Online)

"Scientists Debug Human Genome Bacteria Theory" - "LONDON - Humans did not acquire genes directly from bacteria as previously thought, American researchers said on Wednesday. One of the big surprises of the sequencing of the human genetic code, apart from the relatively small number of genes we have and how little we differ from other organisms, was that 223 of our genes seemed to have come from bacteria.

Scientists working for the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, which sequenced the 3.1 billion letters of DNA that make up humans, found genes they thought had come directly from bacteria, although they did not understand the mechanism by which they had transferred. But researchers at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's research center in Pennsylvania have debugged the theory. They say new research shows bacteria genes did not transfer directly to humans but through common ancestors hundreds of millions of years ago." (Reuters)

"Tough gene technology laws to reduce risk to human health" - "New national laws controlling gene technology come into effect today. The Gene Technology 2000 Act has been described as the toughest legislation in the world to control gene technology. The acting gene technology regulator, Liz Cain, says the voluntary system of overseeing the use of genetically modified organisms has been replaced by a rigorous regulatory system. Ms Cain says people who breach the laws will liable for fines of more than $1 million." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Protesters gear up to oppose biotech convention" - "NEW YORK, June 20 - Warning of ``designer babies'' and ``frankenfoods,'' opponents of genetic engineering are gearing up to protest what they call a dangerous and unpredictable technology as scientists from around the world meet in San Diego starting this weekend.

As the scientists, corporations, researchers and investors discuss the next step in understanding human genetics, protesters will hold meetings to oppose what some of them described as the ``corporate colonization of life itself.''

The annual convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization is expected to draw hundreds of people to seminars discussing science, technology, finance, communications and management over four days." (Reuters)

"Plant Vaccine Promises Safe Genetic Modification" - "SYDNEY - Australian scientists say they have scored a world breakthrough by developing a vaccine to make plants immune to viruses. Because of how it works, they say, the vaccine sidesteps consumer concerns about genetically modified food.

The vaccine could increase yields of major crops such as wheat and barley by up to 30% by activating plant defense mechanisms to knock out diseases before they take hold, in the same way a shot in the arm can protect humans from flu.

But unlike other forms of genetically modified (GM) food, rejected by many consumers around the world, the Australian technique does not change plants by inserting a foreign gene. It simply silences an existing gene." (Reuters) | 'Hairpin RNA' beats plant viruses (CSIRO release)

"GENETIC ENGINEERING CALLED RISKY BUSINESS FOR WINE INDUSTRY" - "SAN FRANCISCO, California, June 20, 2001 - California wine makers will face massive consumer rejection if they accept genetically engineered (GE) grapes, says a new report by Greenpeace.

More than 30 requests for field trials of engineered grapes have already been granted in California and other states, including research into GE grapes resistant to Pierce's disease.

News reports of field trials conducted by the University of Florida to engineer a wine grape resistant to Pierce's disease have been touting the grape as a potential panacea for California's grape disease problem. But the researchers have acknowledged that the gene inserted into wine grapes creates a protein similar to a substance in bee venom that can cause anaphylactic shock in some people.

A Greenpeace survey of British retailers representing 80 percent of the UK's wine sales found that all would refuse to carry wine made from gene altered grapes. Britain is the largest export market for California wine, consuming 30 percent of the state's wine exports." (ENS)

"Biotechnology promises major advances for U.S. Army" - "WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A report being released today (Wednesday, 6/20) recommends that the U.S. Army take advantage of dramatic advancements in biotechnology that promise to help soldiers survive and perform better in the 21st century." (Purdue University)

"Behind the Label" - "Barely more than a third of the public believes that genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Instead 52 percent believe such foods are unsafe, and an additional 13 percent are unsure about them. That's broad doubt on the very basic issue of food safety.

Perception of Genetically Modified Foods Safe (35%) : Unsafe (52%) : No opinion (13%)

Nearly everyone, moreover — 93 percent — says the federal government should require labels on food saying whether it's been genetically modified, or ``bio-engineered`` (this poll used both phrases). Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare." (ABCNews.com)

Naomi Klein pretending to misunderstand Loblaws' not wishing to be a target for activist lawsuits:  "How magic markers are messing up our food system" - "In the aisles of Loblaws, between bottles of President's Choice Memories of Kobe sauce and Memories of Singapore noodles, there is a new in-store special: blacked-out labels on organic foods. These boxes used to say "free of genetically modified organisms," but then Canada's largest grocery chain decreed that such labels were no longer permitted." (Globe and Mail)

"New GM laws under fire" - "AUSTRALIA'S new gene modification laws begin today but opponents say they fail to protect consumers and landholders from GM contamination. The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator officially begins operation, taking over from the regulator's interim office and the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee. The regulator will oversee the trials and release of GM crops. It also has the power to fine and shut down trials or releases and will for the first time list where trials are being held." (AAP)

"Protesters warned to stay clear of GM trial sites when locations are revealed" - "As biotech companies prepare to identify the sites of their genetically modified crop trials tomorrow, protestors and environmental activists have been warned to stay away, or face fines of up to A$10,000. People caught trespassing could also find themselves in jail, warned international biotech giant Aventis Crop Science.

GM crop trials have been conducted in Australia for some years but only now, with the implementation of the Gene Technology Act, have companies had to reveal exactly where the trials are taking place. The companies must identify the sites by way of road address and global-positioning satellite co-ordinates, and many are expecting protests from anti-GM campaigners. The first clash could occur when Aventis plants its summer GM canola crop in the South East." (just-food.com)

"GMOs become a rights protection issue" - "The government should devise policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) with an eye toward human rights protection, said a legal expert yesterday. GMOs were a human rights issue because there are concerns that GM products might be harmful to health and the environment, said Jakkrit Kuanpoth, a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. "There are conflicting rights in GM development," he said, adding the government should strive for balance. While researchers had the right to experiment with GM, the public had the right to a decent environment." (Bangkok Post)

"Dow/Pioneer Receive U.S. Approval for New Bt Corn Trait" - "Dow AgroSciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., Tuesday morning, said a new generation of Bt traits for corn was granted full food and feed registration with the U.S. government, with the processing moving ahead in other countries, such as Canada and Japan." (AgWeb.com)

"L.A. to turn smoggier, stormier as earth warms - study" - "LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles could become as hot as central Mexico, wrapped in smothering smog in summer and wracked by violent winter storms...

Catchy headline, followed immediately by the "I'll be rich... if I win the lottery" disclaimer:

...if the most dire projection for climate change plays out over the next 80 years, according to a study released this week." (Reuters)

"Climate Science Rx: A Manhattan Project of Research" - "Remarks by James K. Glassman, Seminar on Climate Change, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C." (TechCentralStation)

"Tax may cut greenhouse gases" - "The nation can cut its greenhouse gas output by 2 percent with the introduction of a carbon dioxide emissions tax, an environment committee said in an interim report released Wednesday. The committee under the Central Environment Council said that the 2 percent cut by 2010 from 1990 levels is achievable if a tax of 30,000 yen per ton of carbon emitted were introduced. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan is required to cut greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012." (Japan Times)

"INTERVIEW - Belgian climate chief calls for clarity on Kyoto" - "BRUSSELS - The man who will represent the European Union at climate change talks next month has challenged the other nations involved to say exactly where they stand on the Kyoto global warming pact. Belgian Energy Minister Olivier Deleuze said yesterday countries should state, ideally by next week, whether or not they will push ahead with the 1997 global warming deal, which the EU backs but the United States opposes." | INTERVIEW - Belgian EU presidency will push for energy tax (Reuters)

"UK says it will push ahead on Kyoto treaty" - "LONDON - Britain's Labour government said yesterday it would push ahead with efforts to cut greenhouse gases by meeting its commitments under the Kyoto treaty, even though the pact has been abandoned by the United States." (Reuters)

"Britain could become as cold as Moscow" - "Britain's winter climate could become as cold as Moscow's, according to new evidence that the vital ocean currents of the North Atlantic are beginning to change." (Independent) | Cooler Europe seen as global warming hits (AFP)

"As North Atlantic current slows, concern rises" - "Each second, millions of cubic meters of cold, dense Arctic seawater slip over the top of an undersea ridge stretching between Greenland and Scotland, then slide thousands of meters to the floor of the Atlantic to begin a journey of global proportions.

Now, a team headed by oceanographer Bogi Hansen, with the Faroese Fisheries Laboratory in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, reports that during the past half century, the flow of cold water south through a key gap in the ridge has slowed measurably.

If that reduction isn't offset by higher flows elsewhere along the ridge, they say, their measurements could signify that human-induced climate change is beginning to apply the brakes to the main engine-driving North Atlantic Ocean circulation - which in turn affects conditions ranging from regional climate patterns to economically important fisheries worldwide." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Ocean drift" - "The latitude of the southernmost point of Canada's Hudson's Bay is 55.43N. Right about where Edinburgh is an ocean away in Scotland.

Why does the climate of the former favor polar bears, while the climate of the latter favor men in kilts? Because there is a phenomenon known as the North Atlantic Drift. The drift is turbocharged by the Gulf Stream, a great warm salt river flowing north into the Atlantic along the US coast. It is recognized by oceanographers as the most powerful current in the global ocean.

Take away its moist, warm breezes, and northern Europe will see a building boom in igloos." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Water plan may include effects of climate change" - "California's next comprehensive water plan could, for the first time, consider how the state's water supply might be affected by global climate change. An advisory committee, which meets today in Los Angeles, will take the unprecedented step of discussing how the next water management blueprint, which is due in two years, could respond to ways a changing climate might alter our water outlook." (Contra Costa Times)

June 20, 2001

"Claims, Counter-Claims and Disclaimers: Our Daily Diet of Carbon Dioxide-Centered Controversy" - "Every week – make that day – we get comments on our web site, some good, some bad.  The former, of course, make us happy, and convince us we are on the right track.  The latter make us sad, but also convince us we are on the right track.

A couple of weeks ago we received a communication of the latter type that concluded by saying "your site is an embarrassment to the word ‘science’ … I can only hope that your server is based in California and that a terminal blackout kills your site for good."

Knowing full well that we are as science-based as a site can possibly be, we were curious about what it was that so incensed the writer, so we wrote to him in an attempt to find out.  We asked him if he could "give us just one or two examples of what you think is untrue or illogical about our website," noting that "it’s much easier to focus on a specific matter than on a more nebulous general condemnation." | Borehole Temperature Records: Can They Be Used to Reconstruct Accurate Air Temperature Histories? | Unprecedented Warmth in Northern Québec? | Heating and Cooling Degree-Days in Turkey (co2science.org)

World Climate Report Volume 6, Number 20 is now online

"Kyoto's backers look to Russia, Japan" - "WASHINGTON - President George W Bush's opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change - a major irritant on his maiden presidential visit to Europe last week - has underscored the importance of Russia and especially Japan.

"One of the main tasks in front of us is to get Japan on board," Svend Auken, the Danish energy and environment minister, said in Washington. Auken, who spoke at the World Bank on Thursday, echoed European Union (EU) leaders in asserting the goal would be to push forward with the Kyoto framework - with or without the United States.

Activists welcomed the sentiment. "Placing the future of the climate in President Bush's hands is too risky a business to even be considered," said Jennifer Morgan, climate change campaign director at the World Wildlife Fund." (Asia Times)

"Emissions that count" - "If the Kyoto agreement collapses - which, thanks to Bush, looks increasingly likely - a third way has emerged which may yet save the planet." (John Vidal, Guardian)

Henry Payne's comment (Detroit News)

"Opposition claims Hill and US agreed on Kyoto withdrawal" - "Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has denied reaching an agreement with the United States before the US decision to dump the Kyoto Treaty on global warming. The Opposition claims Liberal backbencher Bruce Bilson told a conference in Tasmania that Senator Hill had phoned the US before its announcement, and reached an agreement over the move. Mr Bilson denies making the comments, and Senator Hill says it was not the case." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Australia welcomes talks with EU on Kyoto pact" - "CANBERRA - Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday he welcomed a visit by European Union delegates who are seeking to shore up support for the Kyoto climate treaty." (Reuters)

"You think we care about the planet?" - "Somebody did a survey a few weeks back that purported to show how disapproving Australians were of President Dubya's decision to walk away from the Kyoto agreement on global warming. Apparently, 80 per cent of us believe Australia should ratify the agreement, without the United States if necessary.

I have to tell you that when I heard this, I let out a horse laugh. We're not fair dinkum. It may be that 80 per cent of us would be happy to see our government sign a piece of paper expressing concern and good intentions about climate change, but there's no way we'd be prepared to accept the disruption and costs necessary to significantly reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases." (Ross Gittins, The Age; SMH)

Gittins is actually a believer but is realistic enough to recognise the survey results. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been tracking these issues for years and the results are clear. Two-thirds of the Australian population rank "environmental concerns" below health, crime, education and unemployment. "Global warming" ranks 9th among "environmental concerns" among the general population. One in ten of the population, presumably those with nothing better to do than worry about illusory "threats," rank "environmental concerns" their number one worry. Among these, "global warming" ranks last at 10th on the list of "problems."

These stats tell us that, for most of the population, global warming is either a total non-issue or as good as, while fewer than one in one-hundred could have ranked "global warming" as a bill-topper. Considering that the Australian Greenhouse Office has a budget greater than $10 for every Australian, their indoctrination campaign obviously isn't cutting it. Politician have tracking polls too, and know that less than 1% of the country's votes are significantly influenced by rushing to address the phantom hazard of "global warming." Given that the Greens already have a mortgage on these fringe votes, there's no value in pretending. George Walker Bush is exactly right and has now grabbed the high moral ground of honest response to boot.

"BUSH DISLIKES PRODUCT, NOT PROCESS, OF KYOTO TALKS" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 19, 2001 - During television appearances over the weekend, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the Bush administration intends to continue negotiations toward an international climate change agreement - but not the Kyoto Protocol.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, 39 industrialized nations are committed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012. But the Protocol will not take effect until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations emitting at least 55 percent of the six greenhouse gases.

President George W. Bush has said that the U.S. will never ratify the Kyoto Protocol in its current form.

Powell told "Fox News Sunday" that "the Kyoto Protocol, as far as the United States is concerned, is a dead letter. The Kyoto process is not a dead letter."

The president wants to "part of a process" of climate change negotiations.

"The process produced a product that was flawed, and now we need to use the process to produce a product that will be successful, will be more comprehensive, make maximum use of developing technologies, and be equitable for all the nations of the world and deal with the specific problem," Powell told "Fox News Sunday."

During an appearance on ABC's "This Week," Powell told host Cokie Roberts that "we don't think the Kyoto Protocol was the way to go."

"He supports the Kyoto process, but he does not like the product that that process produced, called the Kyoto Protocol," Powell added. "The United States is not walking away from the problem of global warming. We just think that there are other ways to look at this problem, and we are going to seek those other ways and be coming forward with ideas, ideas that will be technologically based and ideas that may well be market based, to put incentive into our markets to move in the direction of reducing these dangerous emissions." (ENS)

"Both Sides Now: New Way That Clouds May Cool" - "Though the scientific consensus says that humans are warming the earth by adding heat-trapping gases to the air, there is continuing uncertainty about the possible cooling influence of clouds. Now a new analysis suggests that human activity is also altering the way some clouds form, perhaps intensifying their sun-blocking, planet- cooling effect.

Some chemicals released by smokestacks, charcoal grills and car exhausts could indirectly increase the sun-reflecting power of clouds by changing the size and number of water droplets, according to researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Washington.

Their work, described in the current issue of Science, is an important reminder that much is not known about the behavior of clouds in the human-altered atmosphere, said Dr. O. Brian Toon, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Colorado who is not involved in the study. "Almost no work is actually being done to model in detail how clouds respond to the polluted climate," Dr. Toon said.

Scientists have long known that clouds reflect the most sunlight back into space, exerting the strongest cooling influence, when they are dense and composed of small droplets. The more droplets, the more surface area; the more surface area, the more light is blocked." (New York Times)

"Scientists want test of carbon dioxide storage in ocean" - "WASHINGTON -- The frigid sea off the coast of Norway could be the ideal place to test the idea of storing carbon dioxide in the depths of the ocean, according to scientists in that country. Environmentalists are increasingly worried about the threat of climate change from "greenhouse warming," which many believe is caused by the release of industrial gases such as carbon dioxide." (AP)

"A market for pollution?" - "Twenty-five companies and nonprofit groups have agreed to join a groundbreaking program that will fashion a system for trading credits in greenhouse gases, the chief culprits in global warming. The Chicago Climate Exchange — based in the city known for trading commodities such as wheat, corn and cattle — hope the project will become a model for the nation as the Bush administration grapples with solutions to the worldwide problem. The voluntary plan "would represent a major step forward while an appropriate regulatory framework for greenhouse gases evolves," said Paula DiPerna, president of the Joyce Foundation, which is financing the study." (Washington Times)

"Global Warming And Studs Damaging Some Highways" - "Global warming is causing serious damage to the highways of Europe's most northerly countries where lack of snow is allowing studs and chains on the tires of vehicles to grind away road surfaces. Now, researchers at Newcastle University, England, have been asked to help develop wear-resistant concrete for use in Iceland, one of the worst affected countries which faces road repair bills of millions of pounds and a major public health scare." (UniSci)

"Coral Reef Survival" - "In recent years, conservation biologists have become alarmed about the bleaching of coral reefs around the world. A reef becomes bleached when its symbiotic algae die because of warmer water temperatures or some other environmental shock. Without its algae, the coral too can die.

But a new study shows that coral bleaching may not necessarily be so bad. It may, in fact, allow coral to dump one type of algae in favor of another that is better suited to help it survive." (New York Times)

"Let Firms Design Own Computer Stations" - "A recent study by the prestigious Mayo Clinic found no link between repetitious computer use and hand injury. The findings debunk the claim that Congress condemned millions of workers to serious injury by blocking federal regulation of workplace ergonomics." (Detroit News)

"Older women are more likely to get breast cancer if they have high bone density, say University of Pittsburgh researchers" - "PITTSBURGH, June 19 – Investigators from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health have found that older women with high bone mineral density (BMD) are nearly three times as likely to develop breast cancer as are older women with low BMD, and that their tumors tend to be at an advanced stage at diagnosis." (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center)

Let's be unequivocal: HIGHER BMD DOES NOT CAUSE BREAST CANCER. It may be a marker for higher hormone levels (but might not). Note also that the subjects with breast cancer were generally older and heavier, both risk factors in their own right. Having a first-degree relative with breast cancer or a history of benign breast disease was also associated with the development of breast cancer in these participants. Nothing is mentioned here about incidence among those with mid-range BMD.

Bottom line ladies, you're much better off without osteoporosis and by ignoring hysterical headlines (which will be generated by the above lead) pointing to small associations but lacking any indication of causation.

"Ferraro Is Battling Blood Cancer With a Potent Ally: Thalidomide" - "She remembers hearing the word thalidomide half a lifetime ago, when she was a young mother in Queens and it was a pharmaceutical scourge that maimed children. Now, Geraldine A. Ferraro punches a single tablet of thalidomide through a foil seal before she goes to bed every night. She swallows the pill that once was banned around the world, then sleeps like a rock for eight solid hours." (New York Times)

Protecting bugs at your children's expense: "Children's Pesticide Exposure to Be Curtailed Under U.S. Senate Education Bill" - "WASHINGTON, June 19 -- If it becomes law, schools may become safer for children and teachers, as a result of a provision in the education bill passed last week in the U.S. Senate. The legislation, resulting from an historic agreement between organizations representing the environment, children and labor and groups representing the chemical and pest management industry and agriculture, the U.S. Senate included in its education bill legislation (adopted by unanimous consent today) to protect children from pesticides and promote safer pest management practices in schools. The legislation, the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA) of 2001, sponsored by Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), is included in the Better Education for Students and Teachers Act, S.1, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)." (PRNewswire)

"Cell phone patents raise safety questions" - "Even as major cell phone manufacturers argued that phones pose no health risks, the companies were filing patents for devices such as antenna shrouds designed to protect users from radiation emitted by the phones.

The Network World discovery of the patents, which date to the early 1990s, adds fuel to the raging debate about whether cell phones cause health problems ranging from brain tumors to eye cancer to fatigue and memory loss. The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) recently reported that most studies "have found no adverse health effects, but the findings of some studies have raised questions about possible cancer and noncancer effects that require further investigation." (IDG)

"Politics decides who's dumb and dumber: study" - "TORONTO, Jun 19 - "I have strong opinions of my own--strong opinions--but I do not always agree with them." Does this quote rank as one of the stupidest phrases uttered by any politician, or is it merely a minor misspeak? Your response may depend on whether or not you support the politics of the speaker, according to the results of a new study on verbal bloopers presented here Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society." (Reuters Health)

It took a study to figure out that politics affect perception? That there might be [gasp] bias?

"Energy drink health probe urged" - "HEALTH authorities are being urged to investigate the medical implications posed by energy drinks. South Australian Democrat MP Mike Elliott is concerned by the high caffeine content in the drinks and wants health authorities to take seriously the risked posed by caffeine and other legal drugs. Mr Elliott said research in the United Kingdom had shown that if the entire population there stopped caffeine use there would be a nine to 14 per cent drop in coronary heart disease and a 17 to 24 per cent reduction in strokes. (AAP)

"Cola wars heat up again" - "Slowing the spread of junk science is a lot like trying to un-spill a glass of water. Once the damage is done, the product has a life of its own. Sunday's Providence Journal provided a great illustration of this in a story about the "temptation" offered by soda-machine contracts which often add tens of thousands of dollars to local school budgets. "It's been a fountain of bad news lately," the story goes, "for soda companies eager to do business in schools." The article points to two studies to buttress this claim: "…a study that found that one soft drink a day gives children a 60-percent greater chance of becoming obese, regardless of diet and exercise. Another concluded that drinking cola made active girls five times more likely to have bone fractures." The problem here is that the "science" is corrupt. No matter how often it's quoted in newspapers or on television, a lie is still a lie. For more information on the cultural war being waged against soda pop (and the questionable "research" being used as ammunition), read our report entitled Hop on Pop." (GuestChoice.com)

Hmm... "Pokemon points to more complex learning in kids" - "TORONTO, Jun 19 - Ever heard of Jigglypuff, Eevee or Snorlax? Probably not. But millions of kids have, and their depth of knowledge about the complex world of Pokemon characters is changing what we know about how youngsters think and learn, researchers say.

"What children are learning--and it is clear they are learning a lot and in a deep, structured way--they're learning from one another. And they are passing this on to each other," said graduate researcher Beth Lavin of Rutgers University in New Jersey. She and co-researcher Dr. Rochel Gelman presented their findings here at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Society." (Reuters Health)

"Greenpeace unhappy with efforts to expand Chinese nuclear industry" - "Environmental groups have launched a campaign to block international efforts to help China expand its nuclear power industry. European and American companies are looking to China as a vast and largely untapped market for nuclear energy. The European Commission is currently pushing a plan that would lend China funds over a 30 year period to help it develop at least six new nuclear power stations and possibly more. Preliminary talks are now under way in Beijing with proponents suggesting a deal could be in place by the end of the year." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Energy panel OK's price caps in West" - "WASHINGTON - Federal regulators, acting to stop politically explosive increases in the cost of electric power this summer, expanded price restraints on energy in California and other Western states yesterday. ''It's time to stop blaming and start solving problems,'' said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Curt Hebert Jr. The unanimous vote by the five-member commission came as the battle over energy price controls looms in Congress and as the debate grew more political with a GOP group launching television ads blasting California Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat." (Boston Globe)

How this will generate more electricity, make more available and/or encourage lower consumption remains opaque.

"3 States Plan a Court Fight on Air-Conditioner Efficiency" - "WASHINGTON, June 18 — New York, California and Connecticut and several environmental and consumer groups are going to court to try to stop the Bush administration's decision to weaken efficiency standards for central air-conditioners." (New York Times)

"US coal power technology seen saving $7 bln/year" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. consumers could save up to $7 billion per year on their electricity bills as part of six new government-funded projects that will reduce pollutants emitted from coal-burning power plants, the Department of Energy said this week.

The DOE will give six groups nearly $8 million in federal funding to design technologies that will reduce mercury emissions from 90 percent to nearly zero. The technology will reduce costs for coal power plants that would be passed to consumers." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace seeks alternatives for mercury use" - "NEW DELHI: Environment activist group Greenpeace has asked the Union government to initiate an action plan to rapidly phase in safe, non-toxic alternatives to mercury use in India." (Times of India)

"EPA tries to clear air in parks" - "SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, Va. -- Park ranger Christi Gordon stands atop Hawksbill Peak, the highest point in this popular park, and surveys the terrain. Normally she'd be looking into West Virginia, 30 miles away. Today she can't even make out the next few ridges.

''We should be able to see the Allegheny Mountains,'' says Gordon, the park's air-quality specialist, as she peers into murky, grayish air draped like dirty gauze over the scenery. ''More and more often, we see hazes that look like what we're seeing today.''

The lousy air at Shenandoah during the summer is not an aberration. The air in national parks across the USA is sullied with smog, haze and even toxic mercury. Much of that pollution comes from vehicles, power plants and factories, many of them in urban areas hundreds of miles distant." (USA Today)

"Reducing Certain Types of Air Pollution Not Always a Straightforward Matter" - "UNIVERSITY PARK, PA, June 18, 2001 - When attempting to make a dent in the amount of air pollution in a city or region, the method usually involves the reduction of "primary pollutants." For example, when a city wants to control the amount of sulfates in the air, which affect visibility, are damaging to our lungs, and which are the main component in acid rain, it seems prudent to limit the emissions of sulfur dioxide. However, a team of Penn State meteorologists has found that this direct approach might not work depending on the location, meaning that reducing one component does not always reduce the target." (EarthVision)

"Diet enacts expanded diesel pollution law" - "The Diet enacted legislation Tuesday that expands the scope of an air pollution law to cover particulate matter from diesel-burning automobiles and increases the responsibility of vehicle owners.

The new legislation, passed by the House of Representatives during an afternoon plenary session, adds particulate matter -- tiny particles contained in the sooty exhaust of diesel vehicles -- to the nitrogen oxides currently regulated under the Law Concerning Special Measures for Total Emissions Reduction of Nitrogen Oxides from Automobiles in Specified Areas.

The House of Councilors has already given the legislation the green light." (Japan Times)

"Public attitude to GM food is changing" - "A SIGNIFICANT change in the public’s attitude to genetically modified food has been detected by the director of a public food watchdog body. Professor Robert Pickard, director of the British Nutrition Foundation, suggests this may be down to more balanced television documentaries on the subject and its likely benefits." (The Scotsman)

"The Public is Overwhelmingly Optimistic and Supportive of Genomics Research" - "However, Knowledge and Understanding Remain Modest; Harris Interactive Study Finds Overwhelming Majority Believes They Haven't Eaten Genetically Modified Food

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 19 -- This twentieth issue of Harris Interactive Health Care News (view full version at http://www.harrisinteractive.com/about/vert_healthcare.asp) is based on a survey, Public Awareness in the Age of Genomics, that Harris Interactive  conducted for the American Museum of Natural History. The newsletter covers some of the topics within the survey that was based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults conducted during February and March of this year. The focus is on public knowledge of, attitudes to, and expectations for the application of Genomics in medicine." (PRNewswire)

"US grain groups uneasy on upcoming EU biotech rule" - "WASHINGTON, June 19 - Initial European proposals on regulating genetically modified foods, which could help ease a ban on biotech crop approvals, are ``unworkable'' for the U.S. grains industry, U.S. corn industry officials said on Tuesday. The European Commission is due to unveil new proposals on the labeling and traceability of goods containing genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs, on June 27." (Reuters)

"Protesters Plan to Swarm San Diego Biotech Convention" - "Genetically engineered foods could cause indigestion when the Biotechnology Industry Organization holds its annual convention in San Diego. Even before the scientists, executives and financiers begin arriving on Sunday, thousands of activists are expected to hit the streets in what is becoming an annual protest.

At the BIO conference in Boston last year, demonstrators dumped genetically engineered soybeans as 2,500 people rallied peacefully against everything from gene patents to the price of medicines. This year, activists hope for twice that turnout as biotech becomes a poster child for the science-driven global economy they find scary." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Monsanto's Remake" - "Monsanto is the biotechnology company everyone loves to hate. It was one of the first multinational corporations to commercialize genetically modified crops, and soon became the poster child for opponents of genetic engineering." (Vancouver Sun)

"Eco-terrorism unmasked" - "The Seattle Post-Intelligencer offered a three-fer yesterday on the subject of eco- and agro-terrorism. This problem is growing for law enforcement and biotech companies, as the terrorists increase their numbers and diversify their targets. The central Post-Intelligencer article on the subject lists nearly 50 separate attacks since 1996 that have been recorded in Oregon and Washington alone. Targets have included meatpacking plants, egg farms, mink (fur) operations, and a wide variety of farm plots where genetically improved crops are grown. "You have people coming here trying to destroy your livelihood," said one farmer whose property was raided.

In a revealing final story, eco-terrorist Josh Harper agreed to be interviewed about his tactics and motives. The 26-year-old denies direct involvement with either the Earth Liberation Front or the Animal Liberation Front, but sees himself as a soldier, defending the earth from attack. He has tossed lighted flares and smoke canisters at Native American whalers, charged through a police line outside a conference of bio-medical researchers, and participated in dozens of demonstrations against so-called "factory farms" and meat-processing plants. Harper's goal, in his own words: "The complete collapse of industrial civilization." (GuestChoice.com)

"BIOTECHNOLOGY LAB SABOTAGED IN IDAHO" - "MOSCOW, Idaho, June 19, 2001 - The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has claimed responsibility for sabotaging the University of Idaho biotechnology building last week in a show of opposition to genetic engineering.

This is the second strike by the group at the new biotech building. The Earth Liberation Front is an international underground organization that uses economic sabotage to protest the destruction of the natural environment. In North America since 1997, the ELF has caused more $40 million in damages.

A communique released by the ELF stated, "Survey stakes were removed and the exterior of the new building painted with such sentiments as 'NO GE' and 'Go Organic'."

"Biotechnological research may be intended for good ends by the scientist, as was nuclear research, but in our free enterprise police state society it will be used almost solely for greed and control," the communique continued. "With genetic engineering we are creating another bomb."

The University of Idaho, in partnership with Monsanto's Naturemark, genetically modifies potatoes to be resistant to various viruses and pests. The university, Naturemark and Idaho 4-H are also working on an educational program called "Biotechnology and Potatoes," aimed at teaching students of all ages about plant biotechnology, and offering hands on genetic engineering.

The partnership also supports the Young Enterprise Program, in which Naturemark supplies their genetically modified NewLeaf potatoes to students who then market them to local communities.

"Through the University of Idaho Biotechnology Program we are teaching our children to work in a field which is developing faster than its effects, both physically and ethically, can be monitored and has the potential for causing catastrophic harm to all humans and the planet," wrote the ELF activists, who called themselves the Night Action Kids." (ENS)

June 19, 2001

Another hysterical moment coming on? "PBS documentary gauges human toll on environment" - "What is happening to Earth's capacity to support the human species and civilization? And, more importantly, what can we do about it? These are two critical questions that journalist Bill Moyers explores in his upcoming report, EARTH ON EDGE, which premieres on PBS on June 19." (ENN)

"Farmers may get climate forecast years ahead" - "SCIENTISTS in the US are working on research that it is hoped will lead to accurate weather forecasts two years ahead for Australian wheat farmers. Roger Stone, acting director of the Queensland Centre for Climate Applications, said he was optimistic about research under way at the Scripps Institute in California. "The institute hopes to produce climate forecasts for Australian wheat-growing areas that have a one [or] two-year lead time," Dr Stone said. At present, season forecasts are not available until late autumn and wheat growers are unable to use the information to full advantage because it is too late for major crop decisions." (Adelaide Advertiser)

But... Bob reckons they know what the weather will be like in 50-100 years and here they are telling us that they hope to extend trend forecasts a whole year, or even [gasp] two! (Which really will be a fantastic advance on current ability)

"Panel chief calls on world to proceed with Kyoto targets" - "The head of an intergovernmental panel on climate change says the world should proceed with Kyoto targets even if the United States does not ratify the protocol. ... [here's the best bit] Dr Watson says there is new and stronger evidence to show most global warming over the last 50 years is due to human activity." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | Scientist cites new evidence on global warming (Radio Australia)

And that evidence would be... ?

Don Hudson's a believer though: "Europeans duh-struck by Bush visit" - "Before President Bush took off for last week's blitz of Europe, he ordered a White House study to see whether that global warming stuff was for real. Big surprise. The report said, "It's real, and particularly strong within the past 20 years." Yet, Bush operative Ari Fleischer said they still had to determine whether global warming was caused by "humans." As opposed to what, Ari? Chipmunks?" (Don Hudson, Charlotte Observer)

People have always been responsible for ice ages and solar eclipses too, eh Don?

Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee is a believer too: "The need for the Kyoto protocol" - "OF ALL the crimes against the environment that President Bush has committed during his brief tenure, trampling his own promise to reduce carbon dioxide emissions may prove to be the most damaging." (Barbara Lee, San Francisco Chronicle)

But not everyone is so well indoctrinated: "College students plan Kyoto protest" - "Conservative college students from around the nation will travel to Washington this summer to train in preparation for protests they will hold in Bonn, Germany, against the Kyoto climate treaty. Following the cue of their classmates on the left, who have protested at other high-profile world events, the students plan to demonstrate peacefully outside of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a conference of the parties to the treaty, distributing literature to passers-by. They also hope to meet with members of the U.S. delegation to the July 16-17 conference as well as European political leaders and media." (Washington Times)

"Kyoto: Do the math and man the dikes" - "If the Kyoto agreement were to be ratified and put into effect, which is occurring among none of its significant signatories (including Canada), the consequence for the world's climate would be minimal. Why?

If the science proffered by Kyoto's adherents is correct, the difference between the temperature of a world in which Kyoto targets were met and that in which current trends were tolerated would be marginal by 2050. Kyoto just doesn't make enough difference to matter in the great scheme of things.

On this ground alone, the treaty is terribly flawed, especially in light of its probable costs to the world's leading economies. Remember, it is only those economies that signed on to the Kyoto agreement. The exploding economies of China, India, Brazil and many other industrializing nations are exempt." (William Thorsell, Globe and Mail)

"Bush is Right on Global Warming ...not that reporters would understand" - "Climate, Richard Lindzen of MIT fondly reminds us, always changes. It must. Over centuries, responding to stresses internal and external, the earth is either warming or cooling, just as the temperature from day to day heats or chills. It could stay the same, but not for very long. "Climate change," then, is not a calamity but a truism.

Evidence from ice cores, glaciers, boreholes and tree rings, deposits of microscopic animals on the sea floor, pollen in lake beds, and mineral deposits in caves show clearly that surface temperatures in some centuries have been very different from temperatures in others. From roughly 800 until 1200 a.d., for example—during what's called the Medieval Warm Period—the Northern Hemisphere became so hot that the Vikings cultivated Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. By the 1300s and 1400s, a widespread cooling had begun that devastated Europe with shortened crop-growing seasons, and human lifespans fell by 10 years. That "Little Ice Age" persisted until the late 19th or early 20th century. Such major climate swings occurred long before the industrial age. More important, the earth's cycles of warming and cooling predate human existence—not to mention sport-utility vehicles." (James K. Glassman and Sallie L. Baliunas, Weekly Standard)

Yet another hot air confab: "Commonwealth delegates discuss global warming" - "Delegates from throughout the Commonwealth are discussing the problem of global warming at the Scottish Parliament. Members of 11 governments are gathering for the 32nd Annual Conference of the British Island and Mediterranean Region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association." (Ananova)

"ADVISORY/Climate Change Panel: What's in Store for California Water?" - "A discussion of the latest research into climate change and its potential effects on California's water supply will be held Wednesday, June 20, in Los Angeles at a meeting of the State Water Plan Advisory Committee. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, 700 North Alameda St., downtown Los Angeles." (BUSINESS WIRE)

Never mind the "Department of Strategery," here's one from the realm of "Fevered Imagerinating."

"Dry Ice Age" - "That certainly was an unhappy picture of an energy-starved nation's capital that appeared in The Washington Times Friday. There stood Mayor Anthony Williams, mopping his brow against the heat in Georgetown following a series of manhole fires that have left area utility lines badly corroded and badly hampered in their ability to provide life-saving electrical power. D.C. government officials had to hustle out everything from air-conditioned buses to 10,000 pounds of dry ice to trailer-size generators to aid city residents.

Juxtaposed to the Georgetown news account was one detailing, of all things, European fury at the refusal by President George W. Bush to strap the United States to an energy-starvation diet with health hazards all its own." (Washington Times editorial)

"Norwegian Sea proposed as storage site for carbon dioxide" - "WASHINGTON - Researchers in Bergen, Norway, have proposed a large scale demonstration project, in which carbon dioxide (CO2) would be pumped directly from offshore oil and gas fields to the deep waters of the Norwegian Sea. The project would test the conclusions of a theoretical study, using computer models, that suggests the Norwegian Sea, through transport to the Atlantic Ocean, would provide safe, long term storage of this greenhouse gas, which would otherwise enter the atmosphere and contribute to global warming." (AGU)

"Evidence for El Niño and cultural development" - "In the July issue of the journal Geology, a team of researchers has suggested that the climate phenomenon known as El Niño has been a contributing factor in the rise and fall of ancient civilizations in Peru. Using archeological evidence from sites along the Peruvian coast, scientists from the University of Maine, Yale University, University of Pittsburgh and University of Miami suggest that the fate of organized Peruvian societies may be related to environmental changes caused by flood cycles starting about 5,000 years ago." (University of Maine)

"Shift from forest to crops lowers temperatures" - "BOULDER — The large-scale conversion of forests to croplands in the midwestern United States over the last century has led to a measurable cooling of the region's climate, according to Gordon Bonan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Bonan's new study, sponsered by the National Science Foundation, is the first to document the link between regional climate change and a major change in temperate forest cover. "Human uses of land, especially clearing of forest for agriculture and reforestation of abandoned farmland, are an important cause of regional climate change," concludes Bonan. The cooling is the result of the changeover of the region to crops, which reflect more sunlight back into space than forests." (ENN)

"Refrigerator disposal releases ozone-depleting chemicals" - "Shredded foam insulation from junked refrigerators is releasing substantial amounts of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, into the earth's atmosphere — and the more finely shredded the foam, the faster the release, a Danish researcher reports." (ACS)

"Boeing admits new plane will guzzle fuel" - "BOEING has agreed that its new high-speed plane would use more fuel than existing airliners but said there was “plenty of fossil fuel still around”. The Sonic Cruiser will burn up to 35 per cent more fuel than other planes in order to accelerate to just below the speed of sound (760mph).

The American aviation company accepted that the extra fuel would increase carbon emissions but said the environmental price was worth paying to save time for busy executives. The new delta-wing jet, which Boeing expects will enter service between 2006 and 2008, is likely to be filled with business executives prepared to pay a premium to shave an hour off transatlantic flights and five hours off the London-Sydney journey." (The Times)

"Lowering Emissions: A Tricky Equation" - "LONDON In the 40 years since the first generation of commercial jets entered widespread service, emissions per distance flown have been cut by more than two-thirds and noise levels have been reduced by close to 90 percent.

These are results of design enhancements and new materials that have produced sleeker and lighter airframes, and engines that run hotter and more efficiently. Engineers have been compelled to seek these improvements by continually more stringent standards, set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations body, and by commercial needs.

Fuel is one of the biggest costs that airlines face, so the more efficient manufacturers can make planes, the better. Planes that run more economically also emit fewer pollutants and make less noise. But achieving further gains will be more challenging, because of three forces the industry must always contend with: physics, chemistry and economics." (International Herald Tribune)

"Airport noise linked to poor reading" - "THE academic performance of children at school near an airport is damaged by constant exposure to aircraft noise, research has found.

A study of schools close to Heathrow Airport discovered a significant impact on pupils’ reading abilities. The researchers, from Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, said that the noise led to “negative consequences for cognitive development and well-being”. Professor Stephen Stansfeld said the results were not conclusive but suggested grounds for concern." (The Times)

"ExxonMobil fights back" - "ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil group, is planning a public relations offensive to win back consumers and investors, confidential documents suggest - amid fears the company is losing the war of words over climate change which has triggered a petrol boycott.

The public relations drive comes as the Stop Esso Campaign has widened its action against the oil major, drawing in Germany, Norway, and New Zealand as well as Britain, where it started.

A briefing paper drawn up for Exxon in Britain by Insight Research and passed on to the Guardian calls for an opinion survey to try to gauge the depth of anger against the company.

The oil group hopes to win back public support by asking survey respondents to be aware "the slight warming that has occurred in the last 50 years is likely the result of natural climate variations rather than energy use." (Guardian)

"G.M. Will Oppose Efforts to Tighten Fuel Efficiency" - "DETROIT, June 17 — General Motors is taking a stand against efforts to raise federal fuel-economy standards.

G.M.'s chief executive, Rick Wagoner, said on Friday that the company would oppose not only any move to increase fuel-economy standards for automobiles, but also any effort to tighten the definition under which vehicles are considered light trucks, which qualify for more lenient gas- mileage standards than cars.

Mr. Wagoner said in an interview with reporters that federal regulation of automotive fuel economy had been a failure and should be scrapped, not reworked. "Suffice it to say, it hasn't worked and, in our view, it won't work," he said." (New York Times)

"Roads 'threaten countryside'" - "A rural watchdog is warning that a series of damaging road schemes through open countryside could be given the go-ahead by ministers under the guise of taking an "integrated approach" to transport problems. The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) says government studies designed to find alternative solutions to congestion are being used to revive road projects which had previously been shelved." (BBC Online)

The other way of looking at it is "Countryside threatens roads."

Da kemicals gonna get us! "DENMARK: 16% of PVC cling-films are dangerous" - "Dangerous substances within PVC-based cling-film may be contaminating foodstuffs. According to the Danish Food Ministry, the main contaminant is the softener used, a carcinogenic substance called DEHA.

Studying films on the market, food authorities found that 16% overstepped the accepted limits on how much DEHA can be transferred to the foodstuffs. Two films were pronounced unacceptable for the packaging of any type of food containing fat." (just-food.com)

"New genetic risk factor for susceptibility to Alzheimer's disease" - "Alzheimer's disease (AD) researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have singled out a new genetic risk factor for the debilitating brain disease that affects 4 million Americans today and will strike as many as 14 million during the next 50 years." (Molecular Psychiatry) | Alzheimer's genetic susceptibility could bring fear and misunderstanding, religious scholars say (Science and Religion News Service)

Here we go again: "Salmon Lovers Reminded to 'Fish For Our Future' at Seafood Counter" - "Seafood Populations Are in Trouble ... Whole Foods Market(R) and Marine Stewardship Council Provide Consumers With Sustainable Seafood Alternative To Help Preserve World's Fish Stocks" (press release)

"Elusive radicals escalate attacks in nature's name" - "SEATTLE, June 18 - Federal investigators in the Northwest are facing increasingly sophisticated and violent eco-terrorists whose trail often vanishes at the building they've torched or the farm they've raided." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"New Markets for Biotech" - "AG Biotech: Developing countries turn to genetically modified crops.

Much of the push to commercialize the first generation of genetically engineered crops has come from large companies in the United States and Western Europe. But the next big producers of biotech crops could very well be nations in the developing world. While battles over genetically modified foods have slowed the technology's progress in Europe and North America, countries such as China and India are now gearing up to commercialize dozens of genetically modified plants in the next few years (see "Eating the Genes")." (MIT Technology Review)

"CSPI shifts its weight on biotech" - "The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is publicly conceding that genetically improved food crops are a positive environmental and agricultural phenomenon. In a letter to the New York Times, CSPI biotech project co-director Gregory Jaffe objected to a rather one-sided article appearing on June 10 ("As Biotech Crops Multiply, Consumers Get Little Choice"). Jaffe points out that while the Times' article dwelled for 1,500 words on the supposed environmental and food-safety risks associated with biotech foods, it ignored "this technology's benefits to farmers and the environment."

This position represents the completion of a long about-face for CSPI, whose director Michael Jacobson wrote barely a year ago that "genetically modified crops raise genuine ecological concerns" and that "people troubled by genetically modified foods can choose organic foods, the production of which minimizes risks due to pesticide residues in food and water, builds up soil, and protects wildlife." (GuestChoice.com)

"CHINA: GMO product rules confuse domestic market" - "SHANGHAI, June 18 - Chinese enquiries for soybeans are drying up due to uncertainty over the government's new rules on genetically modified (GM) products and hopes that Chicago prices will fall further, traders said on Monday.

The rules, announced early in June, were unlikely to alter China's soybean output for 2001 because most of the seeds have already been sown, but some said next season's crop might get a boost if imports of GM soybeans are hit." (Reuters)

"Scientists meet here on genetic engineering" - "Genetically engineered trees are the latest fuel for the ire of environmental terrorist groups opposed to biotechnology. But when the smoke clears, biotech trees may prove to be some of the most environmentally friendly creatures in the forests, scientists say.

Tree scientists from government, universities, and the forestry and biotechnology industries gathered Sunday at the Regal Riverfront Hotel in St. Louis for the Society for In Vitro Biology's annual congress to discuss field trials and environmental risks from biotech trees.

Trees are one of the most visible and recognizable symbols of the environmental movement, said Armand Seguin of the Canadian Forest Service. Trees capture attention in ways other crop plants can't, he said. "It would seem silly to see people chaining themselves to maize plants," Seguin said." (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

"Farmers, Serve-Ag query GM trials" - "A Tasmanian Government audit of genetically modified crop trial sites has highlighted growing anxiety amongst farmers involved in past trials. The state audit of 57 former GM canola trials, found only seven had NO evidence of volunteer plants. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association spokesperson on gene technology, Rod Thirkell-Johnston, says many farmers are fed up with the way the trials have been conducted.

Rod Thirkell-Johnston: I think very few people would be at this stage be prepared to take part in trials, and certainly not in commercial production. I very much doubt if there would be any more GE canola crops considered in Tasmania.

And it seems that it's not only farmers who are becoming reluctant to continue trials of genetically modified crops. Serve-Ag, the Tasmanian company commissioned to conduct most of the GM crop trials, is now reconsidering its position. Chief executive, Buzz Green says the requirements for monitoring regrowth are time-consuming and costly, and he expects it will be increasingly difficult to recruit farmers to host any future GM crop trials." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Sask professor says labelling food as modified gives wrong impression" - "Labelling food as genetically modified gives consumers the unjustified impression such products are risky, an academic told the annual meeting of the Consumers Association of Canada on Friday.

Health Canada requires labels on foods that could pose health concerns such as warnings about peanuts, noted Grant Isaac, associate professor of biotechnology management at the University of Saskatchewan.

So any labels about genetically modified ingredients could be interpreted as warnings, even though Health Canada requires that any foods approved for sale have already been scientifically tested and proven safe, Isaac said." (Vancouver Province)

"Opinion: Greenpeace Has A Black Eye" - "Careless reading of recent newspaper articles could mislead one into thinking that there exists in the Philippines, a massive public resistance to the introduction of genetically engineered foods and medicines. There isn't. But a well-funded, well-organized lobby of environmental activists and organizations, led by Greenpeace International, is trying hard to create this misimpression. They are claiming that "civil society," and even the local Catholic Church, opposes biotechnology and genetic engineering on the grounds of food safety and religious ethics. Responsible churchmen deny it and uphold a more tolerant Vatican statement." (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

"GM food sprouts new controversy" - "The Union environment ministry is in a dilemma. Environmentalists are fuming at what they see as a deliberate government strategy to push through the commercialisation of transgenic cotton without any debate, while the Union agriculture minister has just asked the environment minister to examine issues related not just to genetically-modified (GM) crops but also products. The GM issue now seems ripe for controversy, something the environment ministry officials had hoped to avoid. Meetings on these issues are scheduled on Monday and Tuesday." (Times of India)

"Centre approves Rs 5 cr for biotech park" - "PALAMPUR: Centre has approved projects worth about rs five crore for Himachal's first biotechnology park at Nankaghat. As per the recently announced biotechnology policy, Himachal proposes to set up two such parks, in association with the private sector, to boost biotech-based ventures. "The new biotechnology policy of Himachal is only about a week old and we have already received between Rs 4-5 crore worth of support from the centre. We expect the private sector to also come forward in a big way", state chief secretary A K Goswami told PTI." (Times of India)

June 18, 2001

"Panel chief calls on world to proceed with Kyoto targets" - "The head of an intergovernmental panel on climate change says the world should proceed with Kyoto targets even if the United States does not ratify the protocol. Dr Bob Watson chairs a panel of thousands of scientists representing all parties to the agreement." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Funny, I thought the IPCC was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, composed strictly of government representatives. (Which is what their charter says) The key question is whether the IPCC represents any scientists at all.

"Europe Sees Climate Pact as Flawed but Vital" - "GOTEBORG, Sweden--Long before the Iron Curtain fell 12 years ago, Western Europeans could get a whiff of what might have been their future. Coal smoke in Prague left soot in a visitor's nostrils. Exhaust-spewing jalopies on the streets of Budapest cast a pall of sulfurous smog over the city. From East Berlin to Bucharest, factories belched so much ambient poison that respiratory ailments were epidemic in industrialized cities." | Version II of this article here (Carol Williams, LA Times)

Oh dear! Carol Williams obviously doesn't realise that pollution levels were so high in the East and low in the West simply because capitalism and wealth generation funds technological improvement and pollution reduction.

Carol, Western Europeans weren't 'getting a whiff' of their impending future but of their past and it remained in the impoverished East because they couldn't afford to do better.

Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol will wreck much of the wealth generation upon which our constant environmental improvement depends. If you're out to wreak havoc on human living conditions and the environment, Kyoto is the way to go. On the other hand, if you aim to make the world a better place, The Protocol is an unmitigated disaster that can never be permitted.

"How Dangerous Is Global Warming?" - LA Times Q&A session with Richard Lindzen and Andrew Weaver representing the nay-sayers and and doomsdayers respectively.

"US says Kyoto pact dead, but alternatives can be found" - "The United States says the Kyoto environmental pact is dead -- but believes Washington can take the lead to develop a better way to address global warming." (Radio Australia)

"Five weeks to settle climate rift" - "Whatever the degree of mayhem outside on the streets of Gothenburg, Texan charm clearly had a field day at the summit table within. There were - officially at least - no accusations of American perfidy on climate change, or of European paranoia. The two sides simply agreed blandly to disagree for the moment. But the time for reaching any real agreement is very short." (BBC Online)

"EU to crusade for climate change accord" - "GOTHENBURG, Sweden, June 16 - The European Union on Saturday took on a lead role to salvage something from the stricken Kyoto Protocol, a major international pact to combat global warming which has been rejected by the United States.

EU leaders ended a two-day summit with agreement to go on and ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol by the end of this year." (Reuters)

"Parallel Fears For the Planet Earth" - "PARIS -- A delicious moment during George W. Bush's week-long Wanderjahr through Europe came when a reporter asked why, if the Europeans were so indignant about U.S. rejection of the Kyoto treaty on global warming, none of the European Union nations had ratified it yet.

"That's a good question," said President Bush at the press conference Thursday in Goteborg, Sweden. He then prodded EU President Romano Prodi: "I'd be interested in your answer."

Touché! The European leader mumbled something about how the treaty ratification process had started, and how all the EU countries supported the treaty in principle. But the exchange revealed that, at this point, Kyoto is more a political rallying cry than a practical plan to alter the environmental effects of global climate change. The treaty hasn't even been legally endorsed by its most vocal supporters." (Washington Post)

Whether the Germans can afford Kyoto is moot: "Germany cannot pay for planes to carry Euro-army" - "THE European Union's rapid reaction force was struggling to get past first base yesterday as Germany said it could not afford to pay for the 73 transport aircraft it has offered to contribute." (Telegraph)

"Taking the heat on Kyoto" - "It would have been easy for President Bush to avoid the slings and arrows. He didn´t have to say in March that the United States wouldn't implement the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. No other industrialized nation has ratified the agreement, and none seems likely to in the near future.

He could have said nothing or, better still, mumbled something about taking it under consideration, and his meeting with European leaders would have taken on an entirely different tone. He could have forestalled their lectures on American imperialism and their calls for the United States to drastically reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases.

Yes, it would have been easier to skip over Kyoto, but it wouldn't have been right. Because, despite a lot of hot air to the contrary, the Kyoto Protocol is bad policy not only for the United States but even for the anti-global warming movement." (Charli Coon, Washington Times)

"EU puts pressure on Australia in bid to revive Kyoto" - "The European Union will send a high-level delegation to Australia in an attempt to turn around the Federal Government's tacit support for the US abandonment of the Kyoto climate control treaty. The visit is part of a frantic last-minute EU effort to revive Kyoto and is likely to coincide with the final weeks of the campaign for the key Aston by-election where both the Government and Labor are negotiating for Green preferences." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Bootleggers, Baptists, and Global Warming" - "As the negotiations over the Kyoto Protocol drag on, environmentalists, corporations, and governments are lobbying in backrooms for provisions that will benefit their own interests. Our interests would be best met if the protocol were scrapped altogether." (Hoover Digest)

"Climate Confusion" - "While many scientists link the causes of climate change to humans burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, other scientists say there’s not enough evidence to blame people. As Doug Schneider reports in this week’s Arctic Science Journeys Radio, one scientist says the climate may be responding more to natural cycles and that the climate may actually have begun to cool." (Alaska Sea Grant College Program and the University of Alaska Fairbanks)

"Jack Kelly: Facts and global warming; A prominent scientist says the media got it wrong" - "Is the media misreporting of global warming a product of bias, stupidity, carelessness, or all three? Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at MIT and one of 11 scientists who wrote the report the National Academy of Sciences sent to President Bush last week is among those who wonders why journalists always seem to get the facts wrong.

CNN's Michelle Mitchell, whose coverage was typical, said the NAS report represented "a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room."

None of this is true, said Lindzen in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.

"Science, in the public arena, is commonly used as a source of authority with which to bludgeon political opponents and propagandize uninformed citizens," Lindzen wrote. "It is a reprehensible practice which corrodes our ability to make rational decisions."

A big problem is that journalists rarely report what the scientists themselves said in the NAS report, or in the earlier report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, relying instead on misleading summaries prepared by political aides.

"The Summary for Policymakers, which is seen as endorsing [the UN treaty drafted at] Kyoto, is commonly presented as the consensus of thousands of the world's foremost climate scientists," Lindzen said. "The NAS panel essentially concluded that the IPCC's Summary for Policymakers does not provide suitable guidance for the U.S. government." (Post Gazette)

"A Bush doctrine for Europe" - "SEVERAL European diplomats observed privately during George W Bush's first European tour how different he is from Tony Blair. The Prime Minister is supremely confident in public but more hesitant in private. By contrast, the American President sometimes stumbles in public, but in private has a very clear road map of where he wants to go. He is also far better informed than much snobbish commentary had led them to suppose." (Daily Telegraph)

"Attached garages can funnel toxic fumes into homes" - "Alaskans love their attached garages for cold-weather comfort and convenience. A ride through one of Anchorage's newer neighborhoods proves it: row after row of modern homes with garages tucked under living spaces. But would Alaskans love attached garages as much if they knew the structures might be poisoning them?" (Anchorage Daily News)

"Teen health risk of gas cookers" says the BBC. The researchers are a little more reticent, however:

"Gas cooking has a harmful effect on the lung function of adolescents" - "Gas cooking has a harmful effect on the lung function of girls who are susceptible to allergies, concludes research in Thorax.

Over 700 Italian school children aged 11-13 years were interviewed by a physician and categorised according to how often they were in the kitchen while the mother cooked using a gas stove. Lung function measurements were taken and skin prick tests were used to evaluate susceptibility to eight common allergens. Blood samples were also collected to determine serum IgE level: a marker of allergic susceptibility. The results were analysed separately for boys and girls.

There was no association between time spent in the kitchen and lung function level in boys, but a reduction in lung function was detected in girls. The team then stratified boys and girls into four groups on the basis of their serum IgE level. The reduction in lung function was significant in girls with a high IgE value whereas no significant deleterious effects were evident in girls with a low IgE value or in boys with either a low or high IgE.

At present, the relationship between exposure to gas stoves and susceptibility to allergies is not fully understood, explain the authors. Although conclusions based on these results could be limited by the design and the relatively small size of the sample, they suggest that kitchen emissions merit inspection and appropriate ventilation to protect lung health." (BMJ release)

"New evidence finds no association between coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer" - "There is no association between coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer, finds new evidence in Gut, despite previous studies suggesting a protective effect of coffee consumption. This presumption may be premature, report the authors." (BMJ release)

"Sleeping cure can make driving safer" - "A BIG cut in road accidents could be achieved by better treatment of sleep disorders, a study in Canada has shown. As many as a fifth of all road accidents are believed to be caused by drivers too tired to be safe. Many suffer sleep apnoea, a breathing disorder that makes them snore heavily and wake up regularly during the night." (The Times)

Henry Payne's comment on driver distraction

"Greens fight coal-fired power plants" - "EDMONTON -- While Alberta Premier Ralph Klein was visiting Washington to try to speed up Alberta's energy exports to the United States, environmentalists in two provinces were asking Ottawa to slow them down.

Groups in Alberta and Saskatchewan have asked federal environment minister David Anderson for an independent review of the cumulative effects of major expansions to several coal-fired power plants now before Alberta's energy regulator." (CP)

"Showdown over energy price caps" - "Meetings of federal regulatory commissions don't generally fire up much public interest. But today's meeting of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) could prove an exception. One reason is that the commission is taking on one of the summer's hottest issues - the high cost of electric power in the West." (CSM)

"Energy plan hurdles" - "After firmly rejecting the Kyoto Protocol that would have put caps on energy use, President George Bush still has to navigate his energy plan through Congress. It is a real departure from the failed policies of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter. But with the shift of power in the Senate, its fate is in doubt." (S. Fred Singer, Washington Times)

"Interior aides back Arctic drilling" - "ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 17 — The head of a group campaigning for oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and an Alaska lawmaker who has promoted North Slope oil development were named to key Interior Department positions. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said Saturday she has appointed Cam Toohey as her special assistant for Alaska and state Sen. Drue Pearce as a senior adviser on Alaska issues." (Reuters)

"Nobody goes, so why do they care?" - "Anyone for a quick trip to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

I thought not. The arctic is one of those places we might like to read about or see pictures of, but very few of us are likely to ever set foot on the place. It's a long and expensive trip, has no amenities and most of the year the climate is, to say the least, inhospitable. The New York Times excitedly reported the other day that tourism in ANWR is way up this year, but conceded that more people are likely to pass through a fast food restaurant on an average day.

So why is everybody so upset about the Bush administration's proposal to open ANWR to oil and gas drilling?" (Thomas J Bray, Detroit News)

"Politics of clean air behind ethanol push; Move 'not based on science,' S.F. expert says" - "California's need for ethanol in its gasoline is about as clear as a smoggy day in Los Angeles. But while scientists and environmentalists debate the fine points of the fuel mix, the tanker truck already appeared to be headed to a gas station near you -- propelled from the Midwest by an odd blend of politics, chemistry and clean-air rules. The Bush administration last week denied a request from California Gov. Gray Davis for a waiver from federal requirements that gasoline sold in most of California be mixed according to a particular recipe." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Magnifying glass reveals difficulty in building power" - "California hasn't seen a net increase in energy production in the last 20 years, and Gov. Gray Davis is battling President George W. Bush over the energy prices the lack of power has created. At the same time, Americans everywhere are watching the cost of energy rise, making energy policy part of Washington´s daily rhetoric. The close-up look at California and the rest of the nation now has Americans realizing that they won´t escape the energy mess anytime soon." (Washington Times)

"EU plans to force bio-fuels into petrol" - "BRUSSELS - The European Commission plans to present proposals later this year requiring oil refineries to mix a percentage of bio-fuel with petrol to cut carbon dioxide emissions, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Friday. The plans, being drawn up by EU Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, are still being worked on within the Commission and will not be ready before September, De Palacio's spokesman Gilles Gantelet told Reuters." (Reuters)

"In the firing line; Is NATO's dream fuel connected to a cluster of 14 childhood leukaemia cases near a naval airbase?" - "A senator has demanded that the US Navy hand over documents that could reveal if a link exists between a military fuel and a cluster of 14 childhood leukaemia cases near a naval airbase in Nevada.

Concerns about health risks have mounted since the fuel, called JP-8, was introduced to American airbases in the 1990s after trials in Britain in the 1980s. Animal tests have shown that it can cause lung, kidney and liver damage, and is highly toxic to the immune system. The Pentagon has even commissioned studies to determine whether JP-8 exposure contributed to Gulf War syndrome." (New Scientist magazine)

"Taiwan hopes to echo high-tech success in biotechnology industry" - "TAIPEI, Taiwan (June 17, 2001 11:16 a.m. EDT) - Taiwan hopes to repeat its information technology success in the biotechnology sector through tax breaks and other investment incentives, a business newspaper reported Sunday.

Venture capitalists investing in biotech businesses would be free from a 25 percent capital income tax and would receive financial aid to take the business public, according to the Economic Daily News.

The plans, being drafted by a special development committee, were expected to be finalized before the end of the year, the paper said." (AFP)

"An end to insulin jabs" - "The prospect of an end to daily insulin injections for diabetics has been brought closer with a successful cell transplant of pig cells into a baboon. Researchers from the United States took specially coated insulin-producing pancreas cells and injected them into the diabetic animal, which has not needed insulin for a year. UK diabetes campaigners say the success of this research is the way scientists were able to "coat" the cells so that the body does not attack the donor material." (BBC Online)

June 15-17, 2001

"The Junk Science Top Five" - "What exactly is junk science? In a word, fraud. In a sentence, it's faulty scientific data and analysis used to advance a special interest. Who cares? Maybe you should." (Steven Milloy, National Post)

See also the final instalment of National Post's Junk Science Week. In case you missed any instalments, here are the links to the daily themes: Day 1: SMOG; Day 2: GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS; Day 3: BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT & SCIENCE; Day 4: PESTICIDES & DIESEL; Day 5: GLOBAL WARMING

"A precautionary tale" - "Risks are ubiquitous in everyday life, and we constantly make decisions about them. Whether to drink the water in Acapulco, for example, or whether to buy a motorcycle or a station wagon. Whether a holiday is better spent skiing or sitting at home in front of the fire. Society imposes various regimens to mitigate risks, and often these are controversial. Underlying the controversies about various issues - such as chlorinated water, pesticides, gene-spliced foods and hormones in beef - has been a fundamental, almost philosophical question: How should regulators, acting as society's surrogate, approach risk in the absence of certainty about the likelihood or magnitude of potential harm?" (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, National Post)

"Climate protocol dismissed as gesture politics" - "Europe should follow George Bush's lead and abandon the Kyoto Protocol, urged one of Britain's leading climatologists during a passionate public debate last night. "The Kyoto protocol is little more than gesture politics, for it will not work either politically or scientifically," said Philip Stott, professor of biogeography at the University of London. "Even if all the countries achieved all the cuts in emissions proposed [in the Kyoto protocol], the effect would be a temperature change by 2100 of 0.07 to 0.2 [degrees Celsius] at best." (BioMedNet News)

"The politics of climate change" - "As George Bush continues to collide with the Europeans over Kyoto, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences appears to have given the green side a big boost. "NAS Tells Bush Global Warming is Real Problem," was the Washington Post headline. As usual with the climate science game, there is more here than meets the eye.

This NAS report in no way represents the opinion of the thousands of members of the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS is a quasi-governmental agency set up by federal law to advise the U.S. Congress. When Congress, in this case at Mr. Bush's request, asks the NAS to study something, it has a working arm -- the National Research Council -- that does the job." (David E. Wojick, National Post)

"U.S. scientists' report doesn't support the Kyoto treaty" - "Last week the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released a report on climate change, prepared in response to a request from the White House, that was depicted in the press as an implicit endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol. CNN's Michelle Mitchell was typical of the coverage when she declared that the report represented "a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room."

As one of 11 scientists who prepared the report, I can state that this is simply untrue. For starters, the NAS never asks that all participants agree to all elements of a report, but rather that the report represent the span of views. This the full report did, making clear that there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends and what causes them." (Richard S. Lindzen, National Post)

Much hand-wringing of the "Our gravy train is derailing! What are we going to do?" variety - I. "Greenhouse scientists frustrated at US position on Kyoto treaty" - "A meeting of greenhouse scientists in the Australian state of Queensland has expressed frustration at the U-S government's opposition to a global warming treaty. President George W Bush has met with European leaders in Sweden and told them he's decided to abandon the 1997 Kyoto accord on climate change because it was too inflexible." (Radio Australia)

II. "More Hunger and Poverty May be Enduring Impact of Climate Change" - "As policy makers around the world grapple with the economic and political issues raised by climate change, Dr. Robert Watson, the World Bank's Chief Scientist and the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called on the international community to "keep the scientific warnings of the potential effects of climate change uppermost, as we work together to limit the magnitude of climate change in a cost-effective way, and make ourselves less vulnerable to the climatic changes that lie ahead." (World Bank)

III. "Warming World Challenge for Africa" - "There is now "observational evidence" that the earth is getting warmer than it has been at any other time during the last 10,000 years, according to Dr. Robert Watson, World Bank Chief Scientist and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There is "tragic irony" in Africa's vulnerability, Watson said." (AllAfrica.com)

IV. "Japan Predicts Century of More Floods, Downpours" - "TOKYO - Japan will be plagued with more heavy rains and floods this century due to expected temperature rises in urban areas, the Cabinet Office said in its annual white paper released on Friday." (Reuters)

V. "Mr Bush's insouciance over global warming will soon seem out of date" - "With the optimism of its youth, The Independent prefers to hope where others despair. The crisis of the Kyoto agreement on measures to deal with global warming, however, cannot but prompt gloom about the future. There are several potential reasons for looking on the bright side of life which, upon examination, turn to dust." (Independent)

VI. "Bishops say fighting global warming is a moral duty" - "ATLANTA - The nation's Catholic bishops declared yesterday that acting to stop global warming is a moral imperative. The statement, which immediately was compared to the bishops' best-known policy statements on arms control and the need for economic justice, was issued as President Bush is in Europe defending his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, which attempts to limit emissions of fossil fuels." | President unswayed on climate accord (Boston Globe)

VII. "Divisions over Kyoto set the scene for explosive Bonn" - "Europe's continuing support for the Kyoto treaty and its renewed intention to ratify it even without the US was last night being interpreted by environment analysts and diplomats as a further, but perhaps final, escalation of the war of words in the run-up to the crucial Bonn meeting in July." (Guardian)

VIII. "EU mission to urge progress in Kyoto pact" - "GOTEBORG, Sweden European Union leaders agreed Friday to send a diplomatic mission to Japan, Australia and Canada -- traditional U.S. allies in talks on climate change -- in a bid to obtain their commitments to ratifying the 1997 Kyoto Protocol." (Kyodo)

IX. "Methane threatens to repeat Ice Age meltdown" - "55 million years ago, a massive blast of gas drove up Earth's temperature 7C. And another explosion is on the cards, say experts" (Independent)

X. "Impasse on Gases: Who Moves First?" - "In recent days, President Bush has repeatedly said a major reason for his rejection of a proposed agreement to stem global warming is that it would require industrialized countries to cut heat-trapping gas emissions while exempting developing countries from similar obligations. His view — shared by the Senate in a 95-to-0 vote on a 1997 resolution — is that rapidly growing countries like China and India are poised to pass industrialized countries in output of these gases, and so everyone must move to solve the problem." (New York Times)

XI. "Japan Promotes Treaty on Global Warming, but Keeps Its Options Open" - "TOKYO, June 14 — Japan's foreign minister, Makiko Tanaka, said today that Tokyo would work "to the last moment" to persuade the United States to support the Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming. Ms. Tanaka's comments, made on the eve of her first official trip to the United States, were the latest in a drum roll of remarks by senior officials here this week aimed at supporting European efforts to convince Washington to reconsider its opposition to the accords to limit greenhouse gas emissions." (New York Times)

XII. "The Global Warming Gap" - "President Bush's overseas trip has done nothing to narrow the gap between his administration and Europe on global warming. For their part, the Europeans accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that man-made gases are heavily responsible for the warming of Earth's atmosphere. They believe that the consequences are likely to be calamitous unless the industrialized world commits itself, as it did in the Kyoto accord of 1997, to binding reductions in greenhouse gases." (New York Times)

Larry Wright's comment on Kyoto ratification.

"Japan must lead the effort to keep the Kyoto Protocol alive" - "The rest of the world is watching what steps Japan will take in regard to the Kyoto Protocol for preventing global warming." (Asahi editorial)

"Japan Not to Ratify Kyoto Pact Without US: Foreign Minister" - "Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka said Friday that Japan will not ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming if the United States stays out of the framework that imposes binding limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, Kyodo News reported. " (People's Daily)

"Campaigners hail Kyoto decision" - "Environmental campaigners have welcomed the European Union's decision to press ahead with implementation of the Kyoto protocol on global warming." (Ananova)

"A New Strategy to Help Capture Greenhouse Gas" - "Each day, 5,000 tons of compressed carbon dioxide flow from a natural gas plant in central North Dakota beneath the prairie, through 200 miles of pipes, to an oil field in Saskatchewan. There, the carbon dioxide is pumped nearly a mile below ground into depleted oil reservoirs, where it is expected to remain for thousands if not millions of years, away from the earth's atmosphere and climate." (New York Times)

The Week That Was June 16, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"Bush, too, is worried about this place called Europe" - "ACCORDING to Goran Persson, currently the "EU President" (in media shorthand) and Prime Minister of Sweden, the purpose of the European Union is that "it's one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to US world domination". Sweden was scrupulously relaxed about Nazi world domination and Soviet world domination, but even in the chancelleries of Stockholm there comes a time when you have to get off the fence." (Mark Steyn, Sunday Telegraph)

"Greenpeace Boards 'Wrong' Oil Rig in Bush Protest" - "AMSTERDAM - Greenpeace activists on Saturday boarded a North Sea rig they said was operated by U.S. oil major Conoco, in protest at President Bush's rejection of the Kyoto climate change pact. But a Dutch unit of Canadian oil firm Gulf Canada said it owned the platform and Greenpeace had made a mistake." (Reuters)

"Drilling at Arctic refuge still on agenda" - "WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration will not give up its efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling despite strong opposition in Congress, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said Thursday. Norton, underscoring President Bush's persistence, plans a return trip to the pristine Alaska refuge next week, which would fulfill her promise to see it in summer conditions and gather more viewpoints." (AP)

"Energy Disruptions Brighten Future of Coal, a Fossil of a Fuel" - "GILLETTE, Wyo., June 15 — Switch on a light somewhere in the country and the odds are one in two that it will be powered not by oil, natural gas, uranium, water, wind or anything else but by coal, that Industrial Revolution-era fuel that seems, at least for now, to have reclaimed a 21st-century future." (New York Times)

"Alta toughens pollution standards for new coal-fired power plants" - "EDMONTON -- Only a day after Alberta Premier Ralph Klein made a sales pitch for Alberta coal to the White House, his government announced tougher pollution standards for new coal-fired power plants. But the new rules won't apply to seven existing plants that supply almost 70 per cent of Alberta's electricity. The government hopes the new standards for sulphur and other emissions will set the stage for the construction of new plants or the expansion of existing ones, Environment Minister Lorne Taylor said Friday. "That is the ultimate goal," he said. "We have an 800-year supply of coal here." (CP)

"5 Pollutants Are Listed as Most Toxic to Children" - "SAN FRANCISCO--Diesel exhaust is one of the most damaging pollutants affecting children in California, according to an advisory panel of some of the state's top scientists. The prestigious Scientific Review Panel on Friday gave preliminary approval to a list of five toxic air pollutants that the state believes most damage people from conception to adolescence. In addition to diesel exhaust, the list includes lead, acrolein, dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Such chemicals are largely byproducts of combustion, according to panel members." (LA Times)

"Exhaust study hot air" - "From the Executive Summary of School Buses and Diesel Fuel by Daland R. Juberg. To read the full report, click here." (National Post)

"'Secret' Rulemaking Threatens U.S. Industry; Forces Companies to Improperly Label Products as Hazardous" - "WASHINGTON, June 14 -- One of the nation's leading health and safety attorneys today urged Congress to put an end to the "secret rulemaking" process involving hazardous materials, and recommended that the House of Representatives help implement reforms to prevent abuses and scientific errors that threaten U.S. industry.

"The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) use of and reliance on declarations of hazards and (non-consensus) standards developed 'in closed-door sessions,' without private sector input or public accountability, in my opinion constitutes illegal rulemaking, a misuse of taxpayer dollars and a conflict of interest that should be prohibited," said Henry Chajet, a partner with Patton Boggs LLP, and the former Associate Professor of Safety Law at the Johns Hopkins University Graduate School of Public Health. "Without congressional intervention, companies would be forced to erroneously label their products as "hazardous." (PRNewswire)

"Inquiry launched into vaccine 'link' with autism" - "THE World Health Organisation has launched an investigation into a possible link between vaccines that contain mercury and a rise in the incidence of autism among children in Britain." (Sunday Times)

"ADA responds to mercury filling litigation" - "WESTPORT, Conn., Jun 15 - A recent lawsuit concerning mercury use in dental amalgams may cause many people with serious medical conditions to seek unwarranted dental treatments in hopes of curing their illnesses, according to a statement by the American Dental Association (ADA).

A coalition of public interest groups filed a complaint on Tuesday alleging that the ADA and the California Dental Association have misled the public about the dangers of mercury in tooth fillings.

"The complaint is without merit and we will mount a vigorous defense," Peter Sfikas, general counsel for the ADA, told Reuters Health. "We completely deny the contention that the ADA has been at all secretive about mercury use in dental amalgams," he added.

The ADA's position, as stated in its news release, is that "it is a scientific fact that mercury in dental amalgam chemically combines with other ingredients, including silver, to form a biologically inactive substance." (Reuters Health)

Damned if they do... "Qantas ban on victims of DVT" - "QANTAS has banned people from flying with them if they are at risk from deep vein thrombosis. The airline has refused tickets to a number of travellers because they fear they may suffer from the condition, which is also known as "economy class syndrome". Businessman Rolf Lenhart was last week banned from a flight after developing DVT on a trip last year. Despite an assurance from his doctor that he was fit to fly, the Qantas Club member was denied a ticket because the airline could not guarantee a seat with extra leg room. The 56-year-old is now threatening to sue Qantas, claiming he has been discriminated against." (Sunday Herald Sun)

"British scientists report cancer cure in laboratory mice" - "LONDON (June 16, 2001 07:27 p.m. EDT) - Media reports said Saturday that British scientists have reported extremely positive results from a new anti-cancer treatment they have developed combining medication with radiation therapy." (AFP)

"Better diet may help prevent breast cancer: study" - "NEW YORK, Jun 15 - A diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce a woman's risk of developing breast cancer, according to researchers from New York University and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. Only a handful of previous studies have examined the link between vegetable intake and breast cancer, and their results have been conflicting, according to Dr. Paolo Toniolo, from New York University, and associates." (Reuters Health)

"Mad cow disease discovered in cow born after 1997" - "LONDON (June 15, 2001 09:47 p.m. EDT) - On Friday, officials in Britain confirmed a case of mad cow disease in an animal born after controls on feed were introduced to eradicate the illness. The cow was born May 27, 1997, almost 10 months after mammal meat and bone products were banned from animal feed, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said. It was the second such confirmed case." (AP) | New BSE case rings alarm bells (BBC Onlne)

"Watchdog warns of risks in exotic 'energy' drinks" - "Exotic plant extracts routinely added to high-energy soft drinks should be more strictly controlled, Britain's Food Standards Agency has warned. The agency, set up last year to protect consumers, is calling on the European Commission to investigate the rapidly expanding use of medicinal herbs such as ginseng, guarana, and echinacea as stimulants and flavourings by the £178m energy drinks sector, following a crackdown on "health" drinks in the US." (Independent)

"Pesticides are safe: Proving the unprovable" - "This guest editorial by Dr. Keith Solomon, Professor in the Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph and Director of the Centre for Toxicology, originally appeared in Ground Swell, the newsletter of the Crop Protection Institute." (National Post)

"Conservation Tillage Initiative 'Planting Without Ploughing' Brings Gold Award To South Africa Group" - "The ABSA Gold Trophy for 2001, awarded by the KwaZulu-Natal Premier in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers, has been won by the Xoshindlala (chasing away hunger) Planting Without Ploughing project in South Africa. The project started in 1998.

The project is managed by Bill Berry of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agricultureat Cedara, with close support from Richard Fowler, Agricultural Research Council Grain Crops Institute, and Dr. Jim Findlay, an independent consultant on conservation tillage supported by Monsanto. Findlay, a South African, formerly was head of Monsanto Africa Product Development until his retirement in the mid- '90s. He is a renowned expert on conservation tillage in Africa, and is also consulting for Monsanto on its small holder projects in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.

A team of supervisors and extension workers in the field helped establish Planting Without Ploughing. During the 2000-2001 season, more than 700 farmer plots were established, with many other farmers adopting the technology. An estimated 1,200 farmers are now using the no-till technology as a result of the program." (Monsanto Canada)

"MPs split on GM food labels" - "The clock is ticking down on a debate over the appropriate way to label genetically modified foods. So far, Parliament is a House divided. Charles Caccia, veteran Toronto Liberal MP and chair of the House of Commons environment committee, has proposed that mandatory labeling be the law. The proposal will receive three hours of parliamentary debate before being put to a free vote in the autumn after MPs return from their summer recess. Last week featured the second hour of debate and while the government already has decided voluntary labeling is the way to go, the debate has shown divisions within almost all parties. A House of Commons vote to send the mandatory labeling idea to a committee for study would be an embarrassment for the government." (The Western Producer)

"No modified raw materials to be allowed; Safety assurances needed, says FDA" - "The Food and Drug Administration will not allow genetically modified materials to be used as the main ingredient in baby food products unless their safety can be assured, the agency said yesterday. It also expects rules on labelling of GM food to be in place by the end of the year." (Bangkok Post)

"Monsanto Eliminating Technology Fees to Farmers in 2002" - "This week, Monsanto Company announced plans to simplify the pricing for corn and soybean traits produced through biotechnology. Starting with the 2002 season, Monsanto will eliminate the technology fee paid to Monsanto by growers who plant YieldGard insect-protected corn, Roundup Ready corn and Roundup Ready soybeans and replace it with a royalty paid by seed companies licensed to market those products." (AgWeb.com)

June 15, 2001

"At Least the Biotech Terrorists Are Consistent ... They're Always Wrong" - "Oops, they did it again. Biotechnology terrorists started another scare that didn't pan out." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

According to this EPA press release: The SAP will review the results of this investigation and other information related to EPA's review of StarLink corn at a public meeting on July 17-18.

"Consumer group complains of genetic food experiments" - "BOSTON - An American consumer group claims the U.S. government is carelessly experimentating with genetically modified organisms." (CBC) | Fewer signs of support for genetically altered crops (Christian Science Monitor)

The U.S. PIRG has decided it needed to join the cluster of activist groups trying to frighten the public about biotechnology. So on Thursday, June 14, U.S. PIRG held a press conference to stir up concern about the biotech field trials that are being conducted legally in the United States. PIRG stands for Public Interest Research Group, but there was not much research involved in this effort (or public interest for that matter). All PIRG had to do was look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website to find a listing of legally permitted field trials that are being conducted according to USDA guidelines.

Extensive studies are conducted long before field trials begin. These determine whether there is any unreasonable risk in testing the agronomic efficacy of a plant in the field. But PIRG would like us to believe that field trials spring up with no thought or supervision by the USDA. They'd like us to believe that field trials could lead to mass contamination of the environment. That should have been put to rest in February when scientists at Imperial College in London completed a 10-year study of the potential for biotech crops to create so-called superweeds. The study found that biotech crops -- like other crops -- do not survive well in the wild, and are no more likely to invade other habitats than their unmodified counterparts.

This PIRG report was nothing more than a simple, misleading way for another activist group to join in the fun of beating up on corporations that are developing new ways to meet global food demand.

"Scientists Point to Lessons Learned from Starlink Scare" - "Eat, drink and be wary of those who try to scare you about the safety of your food." That was the message issued today by food safety scientists at the American Council on Science and Health who noted that the scare about bioengineered foods was distorted and exaggerated--and completely without scientific merit." (ACSH)

"Junk media and corporations" - "If there's a consistent theme in the media's treatment of science it is that corporations are prime perpetrators of bad science and killer products and the role of the media is to defend the public. Environment groups and many government agencies also ride anti-corporate sentiment, usually portraying corporations as villains. More often than not, however, the opposite is true. Junk science -- factual distortion, exaggeration of risk, science steeped in politics and ideology -- is generally used to attack corporations and undermine good science, and good scientists." (Terence Corcoran, National Post) Check out National Post's Junk Science Week here.

"CJD Case Confirmed in Hong Kong" - "A woman in Hong Kong is suffering from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the human form of mad cow disease. Britain's National CJD Surveillance Unit confirmed that the 34-year-old woman has variant CJD. This is the first known case of the deadly, brain-wasting ailment in Hong Kong. The woman is listed in stable condition. Neurologists believe the woman probably contracted the disease by eating beef in Britain. The patient lived in Britain for extensive periods." (agWeb.com)

"Vitamin C produces gene-damaging compounds, test-tube study in Science reports" - "Vitamin C, known to be a DNA-protecting "antioxidant," is a switch hitter, also capable of inducing the production of DNA-damaging compounds, suggests a study in the 15 June issue of the international journal, Science. Mutations caused by these compounds have been found in a variety of tumors." (American Association for the Advancement of Science)

"Govt soothes mobile radiation fears" - "The federal government on Thursday reassured local communities there was nothing to fear from radiation produced by mobile phone towers. An information poster sent to schools and local governments said exposure levels around mobile base stations were less than 0.1 per cent of the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) limit. Government Senator Ian Campbell said the poster, launched today, was developed in response to a lack of information about electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from mobile phone towers." (AAP)

"Demonizing Dietary Fat" - "An outstanding article appeared in the March 30, 2001 issue of Science magazine which was entitled "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat." This was nine full pages of scientists' skeptical views on past promises that reducing dietary fat would conquer heart disease. This magazine can be found in most university libraries; its Web site is accessible only to subscribers.

During the past 30 years, avoiding dietary fat has been the mantra for most of the public and many scientists. However, a significant number of disbelievers among researchers were ignored by the media and their peers. It is becoming clearer that data simply do not link total fat intake with a major impact on heart disease or most types of cancer.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Two telling quotes from this article include: "[Scientists] say, 'you really need a high level of proof to change the recommendations,' which is ironic, because they never had a high level of proof to set them." People who have claimed this all along were dismissed by the majority. And, "Everybody used to complain that industry didn't do anything on nutrition, yet anybody who got involved was blackballed because their positions were presumably influenced by industry." Who else should industry turn to but the best experts they can find?" (Nutrition News Focus)

"AIDS in New York Less Urgent than Predicted but More Urgent than Widely Believed, Public Health Group Says" - "New York, NY—June 2001. Although AIDS remains a major health problem in New York City (NYC), previous estimates of the number of persons infected with the AIDS virus in NYC were overstated, according to a new report by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), AIDS in New York City: Update 2001." (ACSH)

"Study Links Psoriasis, Cancer Risks" - "CHICAGO -- People with severe psoriasis may have a higher risk of developing lymphoma and skin cancer, a study suggests. But researchers are unsure if the risk comes from the psoriasis itself or from the drugs often used to treat the most severe cases." (AP)

"Microbes and the dust they ride in on pose potential health risks" - "Potentially hazardous bacteria and fungi catch a free ride across the Atlantic, courtesy of North African dust plumes. Government researchers who made the discovery believe the stowaway microbes might pose a health risk to people in the western Atlantic region." (USGS)

"U.S. asbestos exposure will cost $200 billion" - "Asbestos has overtaken environmental liabilities including claims from exposure to hazardous waste sites in terms of net cost to U.S. property and casualty insurers. Settlements to individuals exposed to asbestos in the United States and related expenses will ultimately reach $200 billion, according to a study conducted by Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, an actuarial and management consulting firm to the financial services industry." (ENN)

"Burning now an option to clean up ocean oil spills previously thought incombustible" - "University Park, Pa. --- Penn State researchers have shown in laboratory experiments that some open water oil spills previously thought to be incombustible potentially can be cleaned up via burning, the most efficient, rapid and environmentally friendly option." (Penn State)

"Court urged to suspend ban on PPA" - "The Food and Drug Administration is wrong to ban PPA, an ingredient in cold pills, the Administrative Court was told. The ban takes effect on Monday. Petitioner Thep Vejvisit, owner of a Bangkok surgery, wants the court to postpone it. He says there is no clear evidence that taking pills in which PPA is the main ingredient causes bleeding of the brain.

Dr Thep said the ban was imposed after research at Yale University found that people who took cold pills mixed with PPA had a higher chance of haemorrhaging than people who did not. However, he said the FDA could not conclude from the report that PPA caused brain haemorrhage. "Further research is needed to prove this assumption. Even the US and England do not ban PPA which means they don't believe in the research as much as Thailand does," he said." (Bangkok Post)

"Candles now blamed for Earth's pollution" - "Candles are now being blamed for global pollution problems. Burning candles can lead to high levels of pollutants, called particulates, released into the atmosphere. Research by the US Environmental Protection Agency shows the pollution from a burning candle can exceed standards the agency sets for outdoor air quality." (Ananova) | Forget Kyoto ­ scented candles are America's new environmental fear (Independent) | Candles might be polluting your home, EPA says Multiple wicks raise toxin level (USA Today)

"Australia to End Commercial Coral Harvest on Reef" - "CANBERRA - Australia is to phase out commercial coral harvesting on the Great Barrier Reef in a bid to protect the world's largest living reef formation. While it is prohibited for tourists or private individuals to take coral from the reef, there are currently 36 operators with licenses to harvest 200 tons of coral a year from 50 authorized areas. Most of the harvested coral is used in private aquariums. But Environment Minister Robert Hill said he wanted to outlaw the practice which allows licensed scuba divers to chip coral away from the reef using hammers, chisels and metal bars." (Reuters)

For heaven's sake! The reef's bigger than a lot of countries and growing all the time. It is not some fragile and rare flower in need of total no-take protection. Protectionist conservation gone stark, raving mad.

"George W's Greens" - "WASHINGTON -- When the final draft of his Monday speech about global warming on the eve of his presidential visit to Europe was presented to George W. Bush, he could barely believe his eyes. It contained specific -- and huge -- commitments of U.S. money. At the eleventh hour, the president had all reference to dollars stricken.

That was only the final step in the toning down of President Bush's message to the Europeans about climate change. According to administration sources, the text was changed considerably, in substance as well as money, over the span of a week.

The good news for Bush's core constituency is that he had the wit and courage to correct a policy running out of control. The bad news, said one high-ranking official, is "the president is not being well served when he is forced to correct the final decision."

Intense secrecy inside the Bush administration and blanket denials that there are no disagreements cannot hide the truth. For weeks, a contingent of greens inside the administration has been pressing the president to look more and more like Al Gore. Bush has been forced to fight his own advisers in order to maintain his rejection of the Kyoto treaty and his call for more science to determine the true causes of climate change." (Robert Novak, Creators Syndicate)

"Persson non grata" - "WHY does the EU exist? According to Sweden's prime minister, Goran Persson, who holds the union's rotating presidency, "it's one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to US world domination." (Daily Telegraph)

Henry Payne's comment

"Patronizing Bush" - "WASHINGTON -- What is it that attracts so many Americans to Europe? Americans are attracted to Europe by its superior charm, its suave, relaxed, cool hypocrisy. Think of the continental cafe, where the ladies and gentlemen swank from table to table exuding a wealth and importance that is exquisitely nonexistent. Think of Europe's pride in the euro, and the Europeans' lack of confidence in it." (R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Creators Syndicate)

The National Anxiety Center's "Warning Signs" June 18, 2001 ~ Vol. 3, No. 25 has been posted.

"Bianca Jagger attacks Bush over environment" - "Bianca Jagger is calling for a boycott of US oil firms after President Bush opted to abandon the Kyoto environmental agreement. The activist has joined the European Green Party in condemning the US president after he pulled out of the global agreement to take pollution-cutting measures." (Ananova)

"VP Cheney doubts global warming" - "Washington - US Vice President Dick Cheney said on Wednesday doubts lingered over the existence of global warming, and reaffirmed the US position that the Kyoto Protocol to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was ill-conceived." (Sapa-AFP)

"Heads Up!" - "Chicken Little is making a comeback, and this time she's a bipartisan doomsayer. These days, both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans are warning of death from above." (Sam MacDonald, Reason.com)

"Climate Change Info Centre Opens in Alberta" - "CALGARY, June 14 - The Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta and Albertans are working together to make it easier to find information about climate change. The Public Education and Outreach Centre, announced today, is an 18-month pilot project aimed at providing Albertans interested in responding to climate change with easy access to information and training programs." (CNW)

I assume this means the population isn't sufficiently worried about phantom scares - more indoctrination needed.

"Viewpoint: global warming natural, may end within 20 years" - "COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Global warming is a natural geological process that could begin to reverse itself within 10 to 20 years, predicts an Ohio State University researcher.

The researcher suggests that atmospheric carbon dioxide -- often thought of as a key "greenhouse gas" -- is not the cause of global warming. The opposite is most likely to be true, according to Robert Essenhigh, E.G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conservation in Ohio State's Department of Mechanical Engineering. It is the rising global temperatures that are naturally increasing the levels of carbon dioxide, not the other way around, he says." (Ohio State University)

"Heated Words On Global Warming" - "President Bush on Thursday parted ways with Europe over climate change, maintaining his opposition to a global warming treaty but pledging to seek "new channels of cooperation" on the issue." (CBS)

"Could fizzy drinks solve global warming?" - "Washington - Can global warming be curbed by soda pop? Far-fetched as it may sound, scientists and industry leaders are working on technologies to capture power plant carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming, and use them for commercial purposes. Commercially marketed carbon dioxide is used for oil and gas exploration, fire extinguishers, dry ice and ... carbonated beverages like Pepsi and Coca-Cola." (Sapa-AFP)

"Kyoto and science do not mix" - "IF YOU want to understand whether the 1997 Kyoto global warming pact makes sense, don't limit yourself to the sonorous words of editorials and European diplomats. Listen to two of the 11 scientists on the National Academy of Sciences panel who wrote the very report which editorial writers and diplomats love to cite -- if not read." (Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)

"China Vows to Make Further Efforts to Fight Climate Change" - "China is willing to make unremitting efforts with the international community in the framework of the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Change Treaty, in a bid to deal with climate change for the benefit of future generations, said an official from the Foreign Ministry.

When asked to comment on US President George W. Bush's recent talk on global climate change, spokesman Sun Yuxi stressed that the Climate Change Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol represent the common will of the international community on the climate issue." (People's Daily)

"Bush and European Leaders Still Split on Global Warming" - "GOTEBORG, Sweden, June 14 — Despite a studiously cordial tone and carefully measured words, President Bush and European leaders expressed sharp differences and conflicting intentions about global warming today at a summit here of the European Union and the United States." (New York Times)

"Hopes Now Higher For Completing The Kyoto Protocol" - "GOTHENBURG, Sweden, June 14 -- World Wildlife Fund commended European leaders for their commitment today to proceed with finalizing the Kyoto climate treaty even though the United States will not be participating at this stage. According to Swedish Prime Minister Gvran Persson, "the EU will stick to the Kyoto Protocol and go for ratification." On the differing stances of the EU and the United States he said, "We agreed to disagree on substance." | Statement of National Environmental Trust President on Bush-EU Talks on Global Warming (U.S. Newswire)

"Bush Gives Final Thumbs-Down to Kyoto Treaty" - "GOTHENBURG, Sweden - President Bush gave his final thumbs-down Thursday to the Kyoto climate treaty, ignoring entreaties by European leaders to throw America's weight behind the landmark agreement." (Reuters)

"Bush Defends Kyoto Treaty Decision" - "GOTEBORG, Sweden - President Bush sparred Thursday with European leaders over climate change, unwavering in his opposition to a global warming treaty. Sweden's prime minister accused Bush of pursuing ``wrong policies'' that endanger the environment." (AP)

"Hot air to dominate summit" - "BRUSSELS - Sweden, which heads the rotating European Union (EU) presidency, says the most difficult issue at Thursday's EU-US meeting will be Washington's unwillingness to observe the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty designed to reduce the greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming.

"It is impossible to say where we will end up, but the EU has demanded that the issue be on the Gothenburg agenda," said Ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson, Political Affairs Director in the Swedish Foreign Ministry." (Asia Times)

"U.S. President Bush in Sweden to defend his rejection of Kyoto treaty" - "GOTEBORG, Sweden - U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday parted ways with Europe over climate change, maintaining his opposition to a global warming treaty but pledging to seek "new channels of co-operation" on the issue." (AP)

"Bush, EU downplay Kyoto divisions" - "GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- Sweden's prime minister is playing down differences between the EU and the United States over global warming at President Bush's first summit with European leaders. As anti-U.S. protesters clashed with police outside the summit in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson told a news conference: "The European Union sticks to the Kyoto Protocol and (will) go for a ratification process." (CNN) | Goteborg Statement -- Summit Of The United States Of America And The European Union In Goteborg, Sweden | Press Conference By President Bush, Prime Minister Persson Of Sweeden And EU Commission Chairman Prodi In Goteborg (U.S. Newswire)

"Global hypocrisy about global warming" - "IN EUROPE THIS week, President Bush is facing criticism and protests as he defends the administration's position on the Kyoto Protocol, which requires developed countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the unfounded belief that it will stop global warming. What's hard to understand is why Bush's position has made the United States the pariah.

The Kyoto Protocol requires industrialized countries to reduce their emissions to below 1990 levels by 2010. But amid the global warming hysteria, no one is placing humans' contribution to greenhouse gases in perspective.

Nature is responsible for more than 95 percent of greenhouse gases --- volcanic eruptions, evaporation of water, decaying matter and so on. The United States, with the world's largest economy, logically produces about a fifth of the less than 5 percent of the planet's greenhouse gases that are man- made." (Atlanta Constitution-Journal)

"Kyoto accord left out in cold" - "Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, dismissing calls to take the initiative, said Japan will not immediately ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on global warming." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Environmentalists angry over Kyoto delay" - "Environmental groups in Norway are surprised and angry that the country's Labour Party government wants to delay signing the Kyoto pact. They're accusing the government of being cowards.

"This is disappointing, said Kåre Olerud of Norway's leading conservationist group, Norges Naturvernforbund. "The government is leaning back in its easy chair instead of being a driving force in climate politics." (Aftenposten, Norway)

And that's the situation in a nutshell Kåre, Kyoto is all climate politics and no climate science.

"S. Africa Approves Kyoto Agreement" - "CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The South African Cabinet approved Wednesday an international agreement aimed at combatting global warming. The government had also ratified amendments to the Kyoto protocol subsequently negotiated in Montreal and Beijing, chief government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe told a press briefing." (AP)

"3 dominant oil firms split on global warming" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S.-European rift on global warming extends to the world's three dominant oil companies. BP Amoco P.L.C. and Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which are based in Europe, have joined the campaign to reduce global warming. Exxon Mobil Corp., which has its headquarters in Irving, Texas, remains outside the campaign, arguing in newspaper advertisements and speeches for a more cautious approach." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Polluted Clouds May Give Patchy Cooling to World" - "WASHINGTON - As greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warm up the Earth, clouds that contain air pollution particles may provide patchy cooling in some parts of the planet, researchers said on Thursday. Clouds reflect much of the sun's heat into space, and therefore are critical to interpreting the planet's changing climate picture, according to a study in the journal Science." (Reuters) | Polluted clouds might bring patchy cooling in a warming world (University of Washington)

"AUSTRALIA: Herbal medicines in food could cause potential health problems" - "Food and beverage products containing natural medicines should come with health warnings, according to the pharmacological organisation Australia's Adverse Drug Reaction Hotline.

Geraldine Moses, director of the Hotline, told Channel News Asia that the time has come to realise that natural medicines are not as safe as they seem. They interact with prescription drugs and products containing herbal additives, and have many side effects. Furthermore, they are not really "natural": "Zinc tablets don't grow on trees and red clover tablets don't come out of the ground [...] they are just drugs" (just-food.com)

"Too dumb for our own good?" - "The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) demonstrated in front of a Starbucks coffee shop near the White House today along with cohorts from Friends of the Earth, the Center for Food Safety, and Co-op America, bringing its activist muscle to our nation's capital. OCA leader Ronnie Cummins was on hand to denounce the restaurant chain for its refusal to accede to various demands. OCA has been trying to strong-arm Starbucks into reversing its positions on (1) genetically modified beans, (2) dairy products from cows raised with growth hormones, and (3) its financial arrangements with its South American trading partners. Cummins declared in front of the modest crowd that "the gloves are off" and insisted privately that "Starbucks is worried" about the damage done to its image in recent months. When asked if consumers should be left alone to vote with their pocketbooks on the question of whether Starbucks is behaving responsibly, Cummins replied, "Most consumers aren't smart enough to know what they want." (GuestChoice.com)

"Environmentalist Terrorists Under Fire" - "WASHINGTON - Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., detailed his plans Wednesday for a full-out legal assault on ecoterrorism, including a bill that would convey mandatory prison sentences for violence against environmental and life-sciences research." (UPI)

"Supreme Court of Canada to hear mouse patenting case" - "OTTAWA - Canada's top court has granted an application to hear arguments on whether a genetically-modified mouse can be patented. The so-called Harvard Mouse has been patented in the United States, Europe and Japan. The mouse has been genetically altered to develop cancer and it is widely used in cancer research. On Aug. 3, 2000, the Federal Court of Appeal stirred controversy when it ruled the mouse's creator, Harvard University, could patent the critter." (CBC)

"Changing colors in mice" - "As published in Genes & Development, researchers from the University of Virginia have developed a new and powerful transgenic mouse model system. This system allows scientists to introduce a foreign gene into the mouse and turn this gene on and off at will through a simple dietary change. The paper details the careful genetic manipulation behind this work and the eye-catching results – mice that change color when a special supplement is added to their drinking water, and revert back to their original color once the supplement is removed!" (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

"'Grow-in-the-dark' algae may promise dietary supplements, glowing pigments, and more, say Science authors" - "By tinkering with a single gene, researchers have weaned photosynthetic algae off their dependence on sunlight and engineered them to grow and thrive in darkness. This accomplishment, reported in the 15 June issue of the journal Science, could pave the way towards clean, efficient, and inexpensive production of microalgae, which are used in a variety of commercial applications.

Common microalgae products include fluorescent pigments used in scientific labeling, dietary supplements such as beta-carotene and the fatty acid DHA, which is essential for nervous system development in infants, and feed for farm-raised fish, shrimp, and other aquaculture products." (AAAS)

"British Tobacco Titans Scoff at Nicotine-Free Cigarette Project" - "Jun. 12--Maverick tobacco executive Bennett LeBow is trying to make a nicotine-free cigarette. One might think smokers, health advocates and farmers, eyeing a potential market-expanding, less harmful alternative to traditional tobacco, would be jumping for joy. Think again.

LeBow has had to search far and wide for farmers willing to grow his genetically modified tobacco. Health officials, agricultural experts, lawmakers and farmers have all seriously questioned and, in some cases, attempted to block Liggett Group and its parent company, Vector Group, from making a less-dangerous cigarette. LeBow's "frankenfags" supposedly taste and smell just like the real thing but are stripped of addictive nicotine and cancer-causing nitrosamines through genetic engineering." (Knight Ridder/Tribune)

"Loblaws pressures for GMO labels" - "TORONTO - Canada's largest grocery chain has ordered producers to take labels off foods identifying them as free of genetically modified organisms. Loblaws, which includes Provigo and Superstores, is urging the federal government to set standards on food labelling so consumers aren't misled.

Many organic products claim to be "GMO-free"— something for which there are no federal regulations. That's why Loblaws is asking its food producers to stop making the claims on their labels. Food manufacturers say that's unfair." (CBC)

"FEATURE-Argentine farmers bet on biotech" - "Argentina, a major grain and oilseed producer, is second only to the United States in the use of biotechnology products and has recently re-dedicated itself to promoting their development and attracting biotech companies that want to invest here.

After 3 years of a de facto moratorium on approving GM products, Argentina in May authorized the use of Monsanto's RR cotton. Weeks later, the government created a biotechnology commission and Agriculture Secretary Marcelo Regunaga set off for the United States, where he met with biotech companies and visited research centers. ``We share the biotechnology policy of the U.S.,'' said Regunaga in a recent interview. ``I told (U.S. Agriculture) Secretary (Ann) Veneman that in all the international forums, we need to present a common position in which Argentina would have a more aggressive attitude than it has had in the past.''

Argentina is betting that biotechnology is the wave of the future." (Reuters)

"US report on StarLink fails to soothe Japan, Korea" - "TOKYO, June 14 - Grain importers in Japan and South Korea, the two top U.S. corn buyers, have shrugged off a U.S. government report that found no link between bioengineered Starlink corn and human allergy cases, traders said on Thursday.

``The announcement will not help our corn imports resume to normal,'' said a trader with a major trading house. ``This can also not help Japan change its view against the StarLink corn because it is not approved in the United States for human consumption.''

In April, Japan's Health Ministry imposed new stricter rules to guard against imports of unapproved biotech products and the ministry began checks for unapproved GM crops in food imports at unloading ports and in food products on the domestic market. The new rules established zero tolerance for imports containing unapproved gene-altered products and required mandatory labelling for approved GM products." (Reuters)

"More brands found with GM soy" - "Five baby food and milk products sold in Thailand have been found with genetically engineered ingredients, Greenpeace Southeast Asia said yesterday." (Bangkok Post)

June 14, 2001

"Arsenic flap and 'sound science'" - "... In a city that thrives on discord, the need to base decisions on "sound science" is a baseline concept that Democrats and Republicans alike can agree on. The problem is that everyone has a different idea of what exactly sound science is. And that's significant because, in the end, science (sound or otherwise) affects political decisions on everything from drinking water to energy policy.

"Over the last 40 years, and accelerating over the last 20, science has become very political in Washington," says Steve Milloy, a Cato Institute scholar and webmaster of Junkscience.com. The quest for scientific "truth," Mr. Milloy says, has devolved into a battle among interest groups that push a point of view, commission studies to prove they're right, and then lobby to change laws and regulations. The road from science to policy is long, and the opportunities for quarrel and input are many. To understand just how complicated the process is, it is instructive to look at a single case, like the current row over the rules on arsenic and drinking water." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Environmental fantasies run amok" - "Over the last 20 years, I have taught some of brightest college students from America and around the world. My students are as well prepared and challenging today as they were when I began my career, with one exception: We have produced our first generation of environmentally challenged citizens.

Since birth, they've been told of worsening environmental conditions, immoral business practices and an imminent environmental apocalypse.

Every day I see a disconnect between my very bright students and their latest cause. Everyone is trying to save something--save the whales, save the rain forest, save the seals. While these are all worthy causes, passion without reason or facts quickly becomes zealotry. And zealots do little to create practical solutions to complex problems.

This generation imagines that environmental utopianism is a moral stance. It is not. It is a flight from ethical complexity into absolutist fantasy. This generation won't face the reality that there are trade-offs between investments in the environment and investments in other aspects of life that nourish us." (Don L. Coursey, Chicago Tribune)

"Former Greenpeacer's Web site upsets B.C. environmentalists" - "VANCOUVER -- An ecologist who helped found Greenpeace in British Columbia says North America's forests are green and growing. "The good news is that here in Canada and the United States our forests are healthy, abundant and growing," said Moore. "It's unfortunate, though, that the public in general has the opinion that the forests are shrinking...." There is as much forest today as there was 100 years ago, he said. At www.forestinformation.com, Moore cites a report on the state of the world's forests by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations." (CP)

Good grief! "Greenpeace protesters cleared" - "Environmentalists who camped at the top of a north London incinerator, forcing it to shut down for six days, have been cleared of criminal damage charges. The five Greenpeace activists were alleged to have run up a £10,000 damages bill during their action. But the jury cleared them of breaking the law during their protest." (BBC Online)

"Number of sex partners linked to prostate cancer" - "NEW YORK, Jun 13 - Men's risk of prostate cancer may increase in tandem with the number of female sex partners they have had in their lifetime, according to the results of a new study. This finding supports the theory that prostate cancer may be triggered by an infectious agent, because men with more sex partners tend to have an increased risk of exposure to infection, according to Karin A. Rosenblatt of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her colleagues. The findings are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology." (Reuters Health)

"CDC finds no evidence StarLink™ (Cry9c protein) caused allergic response" - "In response to a request from EPA in October of 2000 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in investigating possible adverse health effects among people who had reported to FDA that they may have had an allergic reaction to eating corn products contaminated with the Cry9c protein in StarLink™ corn.

CDC’s investigation did not find any evidence that hypersensitivity to the Cry9c protein was responsible for the self-reported allergic responses that people experienced last fall." (CDC release) | Click here for the report (PDF file) | Biotech Corn Didn't Cause Reactions (AP)

"UK food watchdog denies European mad cow epidemic" - "LONDON, Jun 13 - Britain's food watchdog told consumers on Wednesday there was no massive hidden mad cow disease epidemic in western Europe but vowed it would not relax tough checks on imported beef. The Food Standards Agency said test results for mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), on cattle in the European Union were "encouraging", showing only 76 out of 1.7 million animals had tested positively in the year to April." (Reuters)

"BSE Tests Provide Encouraging Results" - "According to the EU’s latest results, only 76 out of 1.7 million healthy cattle have tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) during the first four months of this year.

“The figures are encouraging, and tend to indicate that there is no massive, hidden epidemic of BSE in Europe but we cannot be complacent,” said John Krebs, chairman of the Food Standards Agency. “That is why the Food Standards Agency continues with 100 percent checks on imported beef; why we will not tolerate any breaches of the BSE controls, and why we will examine any new evidence rigorously.” (AgWeb.com)

"Experts to warn against mad cow complacency" - "PARIS, Jun 13 - An international conference on mad cow disease will urge all countries to take preemptive measures to combat the fatal brain-wasting illness, a participant said on Wednesday. Andrew Speedy, a senior official with the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the four-day conference here would probably ask all countries to gauge the risk that their herds will develop the disease. He said veterinarians, food safety experts and health officials at the meeting would also call on governments to adopt systems to detect mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)." (Reuters)

"Scientist: Bleaching May Help Reefs" - "Coral bleaching - in which colorful reefs turn ghostly white - may not necessarily signal environmental catastrophe after all, a researcher says.

Coral reefs are made up of the calcium skeletons of million of polyps. The beautiful pinks, greens and blues of the reefs come from algae that live on the reef and provide the polyps with nutrients. Coral bleaching happens when the algae coating disappears. While coral can live for short periods without algae, reefs die if the coat is lost permanently.

But researcher Andrew Baker of the New York Aquarium said bleaching may actually help reefs adapt to changing conditions. Baker transplanted sections of coral in Panama from lower to shallower depths and vice versa, and found that coral bleaching and death did not go hand-in-hand. In fact, coral that had been transplanted from lower depths to shallower depths bleached more and died less. Coral that was transplanted from shallow to deeper water, meanwhile, bleached less and died more, Baker reported Thursday in the journal Nature." (AP) | Study says bleaching could be a hidden strength for corals (WCS release)

"Religious Leaders Issue Statement Criticizing Bush Administration On Climate Change" - "HARRISBURG, Pa., June 13 -- On Wednesday, June 13, the Interfaith Climate Campaign of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches released a statement deploring the Bush administration's current stance on climate and energy issues on moral and religious grounds. It criticizes the President's speech of Monday, June 11, for misrepresenting the recent report of the scientific panel he appointed to advise him, and for failing to acknowledge the United States' and his administration's ethical responsibilities." (PRNewswire)

"What Price Climate Control?; Why the Kyoto Protocol is a bad insurance policy" - "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures to rise and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise," declared the recent National Research Council report, Climate Change Science, requested by President Bush. No one argues with any of the above claims, but they do not in themselves mean that the world is headed toward a climate disaster due to humanity’s activities." (Ronald Bailey, Reason.com)

"Berlusconi says Italy committed to Kyoto accord" - "BRUSSELS - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who took office two days ago, said yesterday that Italy would honour its commitment to the Kyoto accord on global warming." (Reuters)

"EU's Persson pessimistic on U.S. climate talks" - "STOCKHOLM - Swedish Prime Minsiter Goran Persson said on Tuesday he was still pessimistic that any concrete progress could be made on persuading the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions at Thursday's EU-U.S. summit." (Reuters)

"Be thankful we escaped Europe's clucking elitists" - "The story line for George W. Bush's first trip to Europe was set some time ago and was shallow and silly from its inception. By now it is so established that it is reducible to jokes that depend entirely on the conventionality of conventional wisdom." (Michael Kelly, Seattle Times)

"Boycotts Move From Securing Rights to Extorting Favors" - "Far be it for anyone from this side of the Atlantic to say nay to anybody’s right on the other side to stage a boycott, especially after what Americans did to British tea.

But Europeans are turning what once was a means of protesting a lack of political or civil or economic rights into the art of coercing politically or, at least, environmentally correct thinking.

Witness the boycotts in recent years of U.S. soybeans because they’re genetically modified or U.S. oil companies because they haven’t endorsed Green positions on global warming." (Duane D. Freese, TechCentralStation)

"Cheney pushes Bush energy plan; more nuclear power" - "WASHINGTON, June 13 - Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday trumpeted the Bush administration's plan to bolster domestic energy production and make the country more energy efficient, stressing the need to diversify supplies and expand nuclear power generation before plants get much older." (Reuters)

"US nuclear plants squeeze power as critics fret" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Blocked by public opinion from building new nuclear plants, operators have been squeezing more electricity out of existing nuclear plants in an effort to meet demand in California and other parts of the country." (Reuters)

"Solving Asia's nuclear-waste dilemma" - "Nuclear energy is news again. It has always been an issue for some people -- environmental activists and energy industry groups -- but nuclear power has largely faded from public consciousness, despite periodic incidents that highlighted fears of a catastrophic mishap at a nuclear power plant. The luxury of indifference is about to end, however. New political and economic pressures will force countries to make some hard choices about nuclear energy. The contradictions between government policy and public sentiment are going to become more salient in the decades ahead." (Japan Times)

"GM food report backlash" - "Surprise!" So Conrad Brunk, co-chairman of the now disbanded Royal Society's expert panel on genetically modified food, described the intense backlash to its report, Elements of Precaution: Recommendations for the Regulation of Food Biotechnology in Canada, released last February. The Royal Society report - a document that more resembled a Greenpeace hatchet job than a reasoned analysis of the science surrounding GM issues - aroused understandable outrage from this country's scientists." (National Post) Check out National Post's Junk Science Week here

"Group says Canada too slow on GMO labelling" - "TORONTO - The Council of Canadians is accusing Canada's food distributors of dragging their feet in developing a system for labelling genetically modified foods. Thirty-six countries have mandatory GMO labelling laws, while Canada is still working on developing voluntary standards." (CBC)

"Loblaws orders GMO-free labels removed" - "Loblaws, Canada's largest grocery retailer, has ordered its suppliers to remove or cover by Sept. 1 any labels that identify food as being free of genetically modified ingredients. The move has angered many of the organic food processors that market their breakfast cereals, pastas and other products in the store's health food department as being free of chemical additives and genetically modified material. (Globe and Mail)

"Magistrates acquit GM crop protesters" - "Seven protesters who dressed as grim reapers and cut down and trampled on a genetically modified maize crop in a protest over government trials were acquitted yesterday by Weymouth magistrates of aggravated trespass.

It is thought to be the first time that magistrates rather than a jury have acquitted GM protesters. Since the Greenpeace trial when Lord Melchett and 18 others were acquitted, there has been official concern that juries are more likely to take the protesters' side.

On hearing the news, several local people visited another GM field near Weymouth and started to pull the crop down." (Guardian)

"Biotech Farmers Respect Consumers" - "GENEVA - Biotech-engineered foods can be good, but U.S. farmers must allay the fears of European consumers if they want to build exports to the valuable market, a growers' association said Wednesday. ``U.S. farmers have plenty of confidence in biotech,'' said Fred Yoder, who farms in Plain City, Ohio. ``But we have to be sensitive to what the markets tell us to do.'' Yoder is chairman of the biotechnology working group of the National Corn Growers Association. The association sent a delegation to Europe to meet officials and farm lobbyists - and learn about consumer concerns there." (AP)

"GM soy in U.S. needs 10 pct less herbicide - study" - "AMSTERDAM - Farmers in the United States planting Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) soy reduced their use of herbicides by an average of about 10 percent, Dutch researchers said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Students Found An Information Shortfall In Biotechnology" - "Transition year students from around the country believe, according to this story, that biotechnology will have an important role to play in the lives of people in the future, but they want more information and education on the subject." (Irish Examiner)

"Czech Tesco says branded products do not use GMO's" - "PRAGUE - Tesco Czech Republic said yesterday it does not use genetically manipulated organisms (GMO's) in its house brand products after it came under fire from the Czech branch of Greenpeace." (Reuters)

"Genetics delay ripening, control post-harvest loss" - "NEW DELHI: Scientists have isolated a gene part, called promoter, from tomato plant and hope to use it in modified form for delaying fruit ripening by a technology that can be extended to several other perishable fruits and vegetables.

The country does not have proper cold storage and refrigerated transport facilities which causes wastage of almost twenty per cent of all perishable fruit and vegetables due to rotting, Dr Kailash Bansal, principal scientist at Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI), the institute which accomplished the task, told PTI." (Times of India)

"The GE calf they wanted to kill" - "New Zealand's first transgenic calves have been born at AgResearch's Ruakura research station, and three more are expected in the next few days. The calves are the first to be born here with a human gene inserted to produce human protein myelin in their milk. Researchers say the protein could help multiple sclerosis sufferers." (New Zealand Herald)

"GM trials must continue" - "THE director general of the European Union’s environmental department believes that trials of genetically modified crops must continue. Jim Currie, in Scotland to talk to parliament’s transport and environment committee about the European Commission’s document Environment 2010 - our future, our choice, told The Scotsman: "We take the view that we need to get a GM balance based on the precautionary principle - legislation in place to look at the science, continue to monitor, while recognising that there is no demonstrable proof that they are harmful." (The Scotsman)

"Agbiotech Bulletin - June 2001"


  • Virtual College Of Biotech Produces First Grads
  • Are You Getting Federal Tax Credit For Your R&D?
  • President’s Column
  • First Tri-National Forum On Biotechnology In Agriculture, Guadalajara, Mexico
  • High Anxiety And Biotechnology: Who’s Buying, Who’s Not, And Why? NABC Conference
  • Saskatchewan Agbiotech Update
  • MBR Offer For Philom Bios Expires
  • The Biotechnolgy Revolution In Global Agriculture: Invention, Innovation And Investment In The Canola Sector
  • AWB Presents Workshop: Developing The Business Plan
  • Lab Provides Valuable Tools Against Insect Pests
  • Biotechnology For Europe
  • Knowledge Management In The Era Of The Internet
  • Regulatory Column
  • Substantial Equivalence And Regulating GMOs
  • Have Some Fun - Visit SABIC
  • People Watch
  • "Distinguished Researcher Award" To U Of S Scientist
  • Graduate Student Seeks Industry Partners
  • Web Watch
  • Events
  • Ag-West Biotech Board Of Directors
  • Ag-West Biotech Publications (Ag-West Biotech)

June 13, 2001

"PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT IN EPA DECISIONS" - "A National Dialogue convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and hosted by Information Renaissance - July 10 - July 20, 2001" (Information Renaissance)

Breathless blurt of the day: "PRESS BRIEFING: Thursday, June 14, 2001 -- Genetically Engineered Crops" - "New Study Finds Thousands of Experimental Field Tests of Genetically Engineered Crops Across the U.S.

Raising Risk, Field Testing of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S., a new report to be released jointly by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG) and the Genetically Engineered Food Alert examines the field testing of genetically engineered crops in the U.S., documenting for the first time the extent of the field testing being conducted today and the risks associated with the release of genetically engineered plants into the environment." (media release)

Wow! PIRG & GEFA will let you in on information so secret you'd have to click here to get it.

"The Green Emperor has no clothes" - "Acid rain, global warming, polluted rivers, species loss, deforestation, falling sperm counts, desertification – everywhere the world seems to be going to hell in a hand cart and only radical changes in our lives and major population reductions can halt the decline. Or at least that’s what the mainstream green groups tell us. But former Greenpeace member and Danish academic, Bjorn Lomborg, says that’s a load of old rubbish, in fact the environment is doing much better than ever before." (Roger Bate, Daily Express)

"Greens preaching 'phantom problems'" - "Nearly every grim prediction environmentalists have made about the Earth's future is wrong, asserts a respected university professor and former member of Greenpeace. The environment is actually improving, Bjorn Lomborg says in his new book, The Skeptical Environmentalist." (National Post)

"Dire warnings of environmental doom overblown" - "It's comforting to know that, despite the flurry of interest in the Green Party in B.C. and a wave of anti-Bush sentiment in Europe, the global backlash against the environmental protest movement appears to be growing.

Leading former Greenpeacers are amongst those now speaking out against the misinformation from the latter-day eco-zealots.

Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, now a forest industry booster, will today launch an interactive website in primary schools, including Vancouver's Bayview Elementary, to help counter the steady diet of fuzzy eco-propaganda being fed our kids. Moore says the website is aimed at counter-acting the myth that North America's forests are shrinking, when they are actually growing in volume." (The Province)

"Justices Say Warrant Is Required in High-Tech Searches of Homes" - "WASHINGTON, June 11 — In an important declaration of the constitutional limits on new privacy- threatening technology, the Supreme Court ruled today that the use by the police of a thermal imaging device to detect patterns of heat coming from a private home is a search that requires a warrant.

The court said further that the warrant requirement would apply not only to the relatively crude device at issue but also to any "more sophisticated systems" in use or in development that let the police gain knowledge that in the past would have been impossible without a physical entry into the home." (New York Times) | High-Tech Devices Require a Warrant (Washington Post)

"The Supreme Court and Mandatory Energy Conservation" - "On Monday the Supreme Court ruled that police need a search warrant before they can use thermal imaging equipment to spy on the homes of suspected indoor marijuana growers. You might think this is a victory for individual rights. (I do.) But do you realize what a setback this is to government-mandated energy conservation? Click here." (Sam Kazman, Competitive Enterprise Institute)

"Welcome to FP Editorial's 3rd Annual Junk Science Week" - "Science issues often dominate the news, from global warming to smog to genetically modified food and pesticides. Science also drives major industrial and business developments. But all too often, it isn't real science. ...

We begin with a subject first tackled on this page last year. They say smog kills thousands of Canadians every year. But the science behind those claims is bogus, as Kay W. Jones, one of the world's leading experts, reported last August. But still, governments, activists and the media routinely attribute deaths to smog. Mr. Jones takes up the debate again. We begin with a reprise of his original commentary.

The Big Lie about smog deaths
One by one, the big Green guns of Canadian environmental politics paraded up to the microphone yesterday to set the scene for Toronto Smog Summit 2001: Federal Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale, Transport Minister David Collenette, Ontario Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer, half a dozen Toronto area mayors and local politicians. Also on hand was federal Environment Minister David Anderson, who laid out a swath of political hypocrisy about Canada's position on global warming, took a shot at George Bush and the Europeans, but stopped just short of announcing that Ottawa planned to declare carbon dioxide a toxic pollutant. (Terence Corcoran)

Errors cloud health report
Something has changed since last August, when I reviewed Toronto Public Health's May 2000 report, Air Pollution Burden of Illness in Toronto, and found it rife with errors regarding the health consequences of air pollution. Toronto Public Health issued a new report in December that repeats the same errors -- and more -- and it has embarked on a troubling pattern of obfuscating the truth. (Kay W. Jones)" (National Post)

"Pollution feared as insects turn pink" - "ENVIRONMENTALISTS yesterday called for an urgent investigation of a possible pollution incident after the discovery of pink grasshoppers at a wildlife centre." (The Scotsman)

Grasshoppers eh? I thought it was supposed to be blushing pachyderms...

"American consumers sue over mercury fillings in teeth" - "LOS ANGELES - Consumer groups are suing the American and California Dental Associations, claiming they have been misled about the dangers of mercury fillings. Kids Against Pollution, Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome Inc., the American Academy of Biological Dentistry and a group of patients have collectively put their names on the lawsuit." | PEI targets dental mercury (CBC) | Dental Groups Sued Over Mercury in Fillings (Reuters)

"Tomato growers fuel ketchup row" - "Consumers need to eat an entire bottle of tomato ketchup a day to reap any of the major health benefits, warn tomato growers. It is agreed that the antioxidant lycopene is more readily absorbed in processed tomatoes than the fresh fruit. But the British tomato growers say the processing industry is using this fact to "mislead" the public by failing to mention that to get all the benefits, a person would need to consume an entire 200ml bottle of ketchup a day." (BBC Online)

"Fatty acids may play role in children's allergies" - "NEW YORK  - A perceived increase in allergies among children in the industrialized world has been blamed on everything from environmental pollutants to sanitizing products. Now, a team of researches from Finland suggests that diet may play a role.

Their study, published in a recent issue of the journal Allergy, found that children who eventually developed allergies ate less butter and more margarine compared with children who did not develop allergies. The allergic children also tended to eat less fish, although this dietary difference was less significant.

While it is too soon to make dietary recommendations aimed at lowering the risk of allergies, the findings provide evidence of a link between certain dietary fats and allergic diseases such as asthma, according to Dr. Teija Dunder and colleagues at the University of Oulu." (Reuters Health)

"Lyme Disease Is Hard to Catch and Easy to Halt, Study Finds" - "Lyme disease, although a problem, is not nearly as big a problem as most people think. The bigger epidemic is Lyme anxiety." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"Does estrogen ward off bone breaks? Jury still out" - "NEW YORK, Jun 12 - For years, women have been told that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause may help prevent bone breaks, despite the fact that scientific evidence of this was lacking. Now, a new review of 22 studies suggests HRT may lower bone fracture risk for some women, but experts say the findings still leave the HRT question unanswered.

In an analysis of trials in which postmenopausal women received HRT, British researchers found that across the studies, HRT cut fracture risk by 27%. But many of the trials were of questionable quality and most were not designed to gauge fracture risk, making them less-than-ideal measures of HRT's effectiveness, according to some experts." (Reuters Health)

"Gun Law: Let the People Vote" - "The Michigan Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on whether it should block a proposed referendum on a new, more liberalized concealed weapons law. If the high court does not allow the referendum, the law will go into effect next month. It is a close question, but in our view, the people of Michigan should have a chance to vote on the law." (Detroit News editorial)

"Pronk Injects New Life into Kyoto Protocol" - "AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, June 12, 2001 - Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk has issued what could become the basis for world agreement, even without America, on how to implement the United Nations Kyoto climate protocol." (ENS)

"Cooler heads on Kyoto" - "In an effort to cool off European leaders still fuming about his decision to dispatch the original Kyoto Protocol, President George W. Bush yesterday announced the establishment of a U.S. Climate Change Research Initiative, which will commit even more taxpayer dollars to studying the will-o´-the-wisp of global climate change caused by mankind's industrial activities.

While Mr. Bush proposed Hindenberg-sized programs well overinflated with taxpayer dollars, he also sandbagged his European opponents by insisting that any new initiatives addressing the problem must be grounded in earthly logic and sound science." (Washington Times editorial)

"European Poll Shows Support for Climate Treaty Without USA" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 12, 2001 - More than 80 percent of respondents to a new public opinion poll in four European countries want their governments to go ahead with the Kyoto climate change protocol whether the United States is involved or not. The poll results were released today by the World Wide Fund for Nature, an international conservation organization which supports the Kyoto Protocol." (ENS)

"EU tells Bush it's committed to Kyoto protocol" - "The European Union on Tuesday has reasserted its commitment to the Kyoto protocol on climate change, two days before the issue gets an airing at the EU-US summit in Sweden. In a joint statement with the European Commission, the Swedish EU presidency said it regrets that President Bush, who on Monday unveiled a research-based initiative to deal with climate change, is still balking at Kyoto's targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Bush hits others for global warming" - "President Bush yesterday tried to pre-empt European criticism of his wait-and-see approach to global warming by blaming the rest of the world, including Europe, for creating most greenhouse gases. Hours before embarking on his first presidential visit to Europe, the president delivered his most stinging indictment of the Kyoto Protocol, which would force the United States to dramatically reduce emissions while exempting many other countries. In place of Kyoto, he called for further study of global warming." (Washington Times)

"Australia happy to work with US towards new global warming treaty" - "Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says Australia is prepared to work with the United States, to come up with a new international agreement on global warming. US President George W Bush has restated his decision to abandon the Kyoto Treaty on climate change, after a 10-week review of the US policy on global warming. Mr Bush's latest statement has received a hostile response from European leaders." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"DESPITE MEDIA HYPE: Science of climate change unsettled" - "A report of an Arctic ice meltdown in a hyperbolic press release from the U.S. Global Change Research Program last year was greeted with doomsday headlines that labeled humans responsible for global warming.

The World Resources Institute immediately trumpeted that finding as a reason President Bush should resume climate talks and seek ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol --- an action that would require slashing U.S. fossil fuel use by 30 percent. That kind of a cutback, most economists will tell you, almost surely would destroy a huge number of American jobs and shatter our fragile economy.

Now for some good news about Arctic ice --- news that the media for one reason or another have chosen to ignore. A Swedish researcher, performing a re-examination of the data garnered on Arctic ice by U.S. submarine measurements, reported in Geophysical Research Letters in March that there has been no thinning of ice in the Arctic Sea for the past dozen years. " (Frederick Seitz, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Book review: "The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850" - "... Carbon dioxide emissions have become the new witchcraft, the most recent devil to blame for the inherent instability of climate. But Fagan is rightly cautious about current climate-change science, commenting sensibly that "long-term climatic projections require models of mind-boggling complexity" which "are no better than the technology and software that run them, or the data fed into them".

This book, however, is better than any model, for it is a study of real climate and real people in Europe throughout the last Millennium. And the tale is one of human adaptation, or failure of adaptation, to inexorable change that "is almost always abrupt, shifting rapidly within decades, even years, and entirely capricious." (Philip Stott, booksonline)

"Two Crises of Unbelievable Magnitude: Can We Prevent One Without Exacerbating the Other?" - "Two potentially devastating environmental crises loom ominously on the horizon.  One is catastrophic global warming, which many people claim will occur by the end of the next century.  The other is the need to divert essentially all usable non-saline water on the face of the earth to the agricultural enterprises that will be required to meet the food and fiber needs of humanity’s growing numbers in but half a century (Wallace, 2000; Tilman et al., 2001).  This necessary expansion of agriculture will also require the land that currently supports a full third of all tropical and temperate forests, savannas and grasslands, according to Tilman, et al., who also correctly state that the destruction of that important natural habitat will lead to the extinction of untold numbers of plant and animal species." | A 21st-Century Weakening of the Thermohaline Circulation? | Fine and Not-So-Fine Sea Ice Models (co2science.org)

"THE POLITICS OF ‘WARMING'" - "President Bush told the environmental Chicken Littles to get lost yesterday.

Bravo to that.

Just before leaving for a tour of Europe, Bush rejected the "sky is falling" assertions of the radical environmentalists. He was commenting on a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences on climate change.

Typically poor reporting by the national media suggested that the NAS survey "settles" everything on global warming and creates the need for the United States to adopt the Kyoto Protocol.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, in Monday's Wall Street Journal, Richard S. Lindzen, one of the NAS scientists working on the study, disputed the media's reports.

"I cannot stress this enough," Lindzen wrote. "We are not in a position to confidently attribute past climate change to carbon dioxide or to forecast what the climate will be in the future. . . . One reason for this uncertainty is that, as the report states, the climate is always changing; change is the norm."

Given the uncertainties involving greenhouse-gas emissions, why should the United States - or any country, for that matter - risk its economic future?" (New York Post editorial)

"The Politics of 'Science'" - "No one should be surprised that a National Academy of Sciences panel concluded that global warming is an important problem and the planet will warm somewhere between 1.4 and 5.8º C by the end of this century. That's the same range projected by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in a report to be released with great fanfare some 60 days from now. The same people produced both reports, and with the same process: groupthink. Here's how it works: To produce whatever you want, all you have to do is select the right people, but include a few dissenters who can then be listed as participants even as they are ignored by the dynamics of the larger group." (Pat Michaels, Cato Institute)

"Germany Substitutes Wind for Nuclear Power" - "BERLIN, Germany, June 11, 2001 - The German government has unveiled plans for massive development of offshore wind power to help the country reconcile its climate protection goals with its nuclear phaseout policy." (ENS)

No surprises here, their constant bleating about illusory hazards tends to give me gas too.

"Lawmakers say ``clean coal'' crucial part of U.S. energy plan" - "WASHINGTON, June 12 - A bipartisan group of House lawmakers on Tuesday called for more funding of ways to clean up coal, the country's largest source of electricity production, as the United States struggles to develop a long-term energy plan." (Reuters)

"Feds choked up over smog" - "New federal anti-smog regulations could restrict when homeowners mow the lawn, Environment Minister David Anderson warned yesterday. The federal government announced also more than $110 million in spending on clean-air initiatives, including a program designed to aid the possible use of hydrogen-powered cars in the future. Anderson told an audience at the Toronto Smog Summit at City Hall that the federal government will impose new rules by 2004 for two-stroke, gas-powered engines used in devises such as lawnmowers and chainsaws. And people will have to endure some inconvenience when these changes come into force, the minister warned." (Toronto Sun)

"Green Menace" - "Misleading propaganda about biotechnology from green organisations in Europe is obstructing Africa's attempts to combat hunger, claims a Kenyan academic. "We don't get data, we get opinions," says Margaret Karembu of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Kenyatta University in Nairobi. She delivered a scathing attack on the greens at a conference in London last week." (New Scientist)

"Finland wants more GM testing in Nordic cold" - "HELSINKI - Finland yesterday called for more domestic research into genetically modified (GM) plants and bacteria so it could better assess the effects of introducing such organisms to the cold Nordic climate." (Reuters)

"Qld Cabinet approves biotechnology research code" - "In an Australian first, the Queensland Cabinet has approved a code of ethical practice for biotechnology research and development in Queensland. The State Government says the code provides certainty to universities and organisations on areas of research acceptable in Queensland and their duties of disclosure from their findings." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"US farm group concerned over EU's new GM rules" - "BRUSSELS - A major U.S. farm lobby expressed concerns yesterday over new European traceability rules, for genetically-modified (GM) crops, that have been designed to remove a major irritant in transatlantic trade." (Reuters)

June 12, 2001

"UN welcomes US position on climate change" - "UN climate change negotiator Jan Pronk has welcomed as "a positive contribution" the statement by US President George W Bush that he is committed to combating global warming despite his rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. "It means the United States are willing to continue their efforts," Mr Pronk said." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Amazing thing that - especially since the U.S. never said otherwise.

"Plan to salvage Kyoto" - "Dutch Environment Minister, Jan Pronk, who heads the United Nations forum on climate change, has presented a compromise proposal in an effort to rescue the Kyoto protocol aimed at curbing global warming." (BBC Online)

"Kyoto Protocol campaign launched" - "The Environment Ministry on Monday kicked off a campaign to heighten interest and awareness in the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate-control agreement, in an effort to promote its coming into force by 2002.

The campaign, under the theme of "2002! Putting the Kyoto Protocol into Force," will consist of 11 public symposiums and 12 study sessions for environment experts, including some 2,200 local government-commissioned climate change researchers and activists around the nation." (Japan Times)

"A Skeptical Europe Awaits Bush on 5-Day Trip" - "PARIS, June 10 — Across Europe, there is little love of America's new president and a growing perception that the United States, under his leadership, is looking out only for itself these days — polluting the skies, breaking treaties and flirting with new arms races." (New York Times)

"Bush softens stance on key global issues" - "WASHINGTON - In rapid succession, the Bush foreign policy team has softened or reversed an array of early decisions and statements on key issues concerning North Korea, the Middle East, Bosnia, and on how seriously to take global warming." (Boston Globe)

"Turn off the alarms" - "Concerns about global warming expressed in a hastily assembled report ignore statistics that downplay the doomsday scenario." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial)

"The Conservation Myth Stars as Latest (Sub)Urban Legend" - "When President Bush gave the commencement address at Yale a few weeks ago, a group of protesters carried posters blaring, “Conservation, Not Consumption.” That view appears to represent the sum and substance of the opposition to the administration’s recently announced energy plan" (James K Glassman, TechCentralStation)

"Turner Blasts Bush on Environment" - "WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. — The Bush Administration ignores clean technology and focuses on developing new oil and coal projects because the president wants to repay energy companies for helping finance his campaign, Ted Turner charged in a speech. ``That's who owns them,'' Turner told the annual meeting of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition on Saturday night. ``It's time we started acting intelligently or we aren't even going to be here in 100 years.''

He said the Bush Administration wastes too much time on ``rogue nations'' like North Korea, while refusing to comply with the Kyoto Accords, which call for reducing the output of greenhouse gases. ``We're now being called a rogue state'' because of that action, Turner told about 400 cheering people. ``We should be worrying about global warming and environmental degradation, not North Korea.'' (AP)

For someone who states that religion is for losers, Ted sure sounds a lot like an evangelist - the only difference being that his religion is misanthropic eco-extremism. Like most wannabe world-savers, Ted wants you to do as he says, not as he does (you should only have one child and not notice that he has five).

"Tech Central Co-Host Praises Bush’s Science-Based Approach to Global Warming" - "Statement of Harvard Astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas" (TechCentralStation)

GW scare du jour I: "Less Snowfall Could Spell Big Problems for State" - "SACRAMENTO--New scientific research suggests that global warming, even by what experts consider conservative estimates, will severely shrink the Sierra snowpack, which is crucial to sustaining California's economy and population.

Within a lifetime, Californians will begin to see a shift in precipitation that will bring less snow and more rain to the mountains, say scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. They recently calculated the effect of an atmospheric increase of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius in the next 60 years--a rate of global warming that many experts consider highly likely." (LA Times) | Scientists: Global Warming Will Cripple California (KGTV TheSanDiegoChannel.com)

II: "Climate change affecting even remote arctic environment, study says" - "The remoteness of one of the world's largest ecosystems has not made it immune from global environmental problems, according to a major new report on the state of Arctic biodiversity, funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF)." (National Science Foundation)

III: "Turning up the heat: global warming" - "It's alarming to think that in the not-too-distant future, the only place you'll be able to see the famed snows of Kilimanjaro is in the freezer of a research lab." (60 Minutes Australia)

IV: "Is Alaska melting?" - "Surveys over the past four years confirm that Alaska's hundreds of glaciers are melting at a rapid pace. The Columbia glacier now melts at half a mile a year, and has retreated eight miles in the past 16 years. The permafrost - ground that has been frozen for thousands of years - is frozen no longer. As underground ice melts, roads are cracked and broken, or twisted out of shape; buildings and telephone poles tilt as if dislodged by an earthquake.

Is this the face of global warming?" (Christian Science Monitor)

"Coral Records Pacific Climate Changes Over 100 Years" - "Coral extracted from a remote central Pacific island has helped scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, construct a valuable new record of climate conditions during the 20th century.

The record, which allowed the researchers to trace sea surface conditions over a 112-year period, may hold implications for long-range climate forecasting and predictability due to the central tropical Pacific's key influence on climate conditions around the world." (UniSci)

"Topographic Features Improve Climate Model Predictions" - "By adding topographic features to their hydrologic model, researchers at the University of Illinois can better assess the impact of climate variability and global warming on terrestrial systems such as stream ecology, water quality and water resources management.

"Hydrologic models provide an essential link between the physical climate and terrestrial systems," said Praveen Kumar, a UI professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Modeling the terrestrial hydrologic dynamics properly is crucial to predicting the atmospheric dynamics as well as predicting the climate's impact on terrestrial systems." (UniSci)

"Bush Appeases Europe on Global Warming" - "President Bush will map out steps today to spend more on research on global warming, hoping to defuse criticism that could sour his first presidential trip to Europe, according to Reuters. A senior White House official said Bush, who leaves for Spain tonight, would make no commitments on reducing emissions of gases, allegedly a cause of global warming, other than stating his intention to try. European leaders were outraged by Bush's rejection of the 1997 Kyoto treaty, which requires industrial nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that many scientists blame for global warming.

Cato Institute scholars have long opposed the Kyoto treaty and have written extensively about it and global warming. In testimony before Congress, Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies Patrick Michaels explained why the Kyoto Protocol is "a useless appendage to an irrelevant treaty." In "Kyoto's Chilling Effects," Michaels writes that the protocol has poor chances of being ratified by the United States as "Both Democrats and Republicans can agree that Kyoto will wreck our economy, according to just about every credible study that uses realistic policy assumptions." Director of Natural Resource Studies Jerry Taylor agrees in "Hot Air in Kyoto," stating that "impoverishing society today to avoid a very uncertain problem tomorrow would harm, not help, future generations." (Cato Institute)

"German Nuclear Shutdown Protested" - "BERLIN - Supporters and opponents of nuclear power on Monday protested a deal being signed by the German government and utilities to shut down the country's 19 nuclear power plants.

Hailed by its backers as a historic shift of energy policy in Europe's biggest economy, the deal could take decades to carry out. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and executives of four power companies were to sign the deal in Berlin later Monday.

The government and utilities approved the nuclear phaseout a year ago, but needed time to negotiate details of the legislation to be submitted to parliament. The last of the power companies, E.On, approved the deal Sunday.

Anti-nuclear activists oppose the deal, which sets no fixed date for the last plant to close, because they want a quicker shut down.

Pro-nuclear politicians do no want Germany to abandon nuclear power and warn that it could impede efforts to curb emissions of greenhouse gases in line with the international pact signed in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, by forcing Germany to switch to other fuels, such as oil." (AP)

"Emissions change has inspectors crying foul" - "They've tried complaining to lawmakers. They've sued the state and former Gov. Christie Whitman. Now many private garage owners want out of the motor vehicle inspection program it cost them thousands of dollars to join, saying that a new, easier, and quicker emissions test planned to start next year will make their investment worthless. And they want their money back." (Bergen County Record)

"Unforeseen results of pollution control" - "Pollution-controlling devices installed on cars since the 1960s may be contributing to heavy metal pollution in remote regions of Greenland as well as the rest of the Northern Hemisphere.

Although catalytic converters have significantly reduced emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons, the technology uses heavy metals to lower those exhaust emissions. And now, apparently, scientists have found evidence that these coverters are emitting large amounts of these elements into the atmosphere. The metals - platinum, palladium and rhodium - are toxic and have the potential to accumulate in plants and animals thus entering the food chain." (Earth Times)

"Short-term exposure to air pollution may trigger heart attack in at-risk patients" - "Short-Term Exposure to Air Pollution May Trigger Heart Attack in At-Risk Patients BOSTON-Brief exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate air pollution - as little as two hours - may temporarily increase the risk of heart attack particularly among people already at risk for heart disease, according to a study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center." (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) | Tiny air pollutants linked to heart attack (American Heart Association)

"Teacher loses lung to blackboard chalk" - "Add chalk to the list of potential occupational hazards of teaching: A veteran teacher in her 40s was recently diagnosed with fibrosis in her lungs and had to undergo a lung transplant because of accumulation over the years of chalk dust in her respiratory system." (Jerusalem Post)

"Antibiotic use varies widely in Europe" - "NEW YORK, Jun 11 - For the first time researchers have looked at what type and how often Europeans are using--and possibly overusing--antibiotics, shedding light on how drug-resistant bacteria might develop.

The study shows that antibiotic sales vary widely, with a more than 4-fold difference among the 15 countries in the European Union, reports Dr. Otto Cars and colleagues from the Swedish Institute for Infectious Diseases Control, Stockholm, Sweden. They found that France had the highest sales, followed by Spain, Portugal, and Belgium. Low sales took place in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, with the lowest sales taking place in the Netherlands.

The French had almost 37 daily antibiotic doses per 1000 people per day in 1997, compared with just about 9 doses per 1000 people in the Netherlands per day. Overuse of antibiotics is thought to be a major contributor to the emergence of drug resistant-bacteria, a problem that is growing around the world." (Reuters Health)

"Environmentalists try to block new wireless towers" - "Environmental groups are mounting a bare-knuckled campaign to oppose many of the USA's proposed new wireless towers. They say the towers are a death trap for birds, harmful to nearby wetlands and just plain unsightly.

Their petitions before the Federal Communications Commission threaten to delay construction of hundreds of towers for months just as the wireless industry seeks to rapidly expand its networks to serve rural areas, fill in coverage gaps and relieve congestion." (USA Today)

"Mobile firms patent 'brain shields'" - "Mobile phone companies have been developing their own devices to reduce the amount of radiation absorbed by the brain." (BBC Online)

"Ericsson denies report on health hazards" - "LONDON: Leading mobile phone firm Ericsson on Monday denied a British newspaper report that the company, along with Nokia and Motorola, was patenting devices to reduce the risk of brain tumours among users." (Times of India)

"Solar Flares Raise Concern Over Safety of Airlines" - "WASHINGTON, June 11 — In Greek legend, Icarus flew too close to the sun and crashed when its heat melted the wax that held his wings together. That idea seems quaint, but now some scientists think the Greeks may have been right to fear flying too close to the sun.

The problem is not the sun's heat, but the ionizing radiation it emits. For the last few months the sun has been at or near the peak of its "storm" season, when the solar wind, a thin but steady stream of protons that flows by at a gentle million miles an hour or so, is supplemented by bursts of protons moving at nearly the speed of light.

These proton bursts, called solar flares or coronal mass ejections, comprise billions of tons of particles. Unlike the solar wind, the flares are strongly directional; when the sun's magnetic field directs them to Earth, they can expose people flying at high altitude, above much of Earth's protective atmosphere, to ionizing radiation.

There is no evidence so far that this exposure is dangerous. In fact, the flares' disruption of radio communication is probably a bigger threat to passengers." (New York Times)

"Best Intentions Wreck US Economy" - "When fauna and flora take precedence over humans, there is a serious problem that has nothing to do with the ugly face of capitalism.

The United States is frothing about its energy vulnerability. California is suffering rolling blackouts that threaten its neighbours and petrol prices are higher than they have been in a decade.

It's important to separate the energy crisis from the rise in oil prices. There is no shortage of fuel for cars, trucks and heating homes; it's just very expensive. Electricity is in very short supply though, leaving the Pacific Northwest with sporadic power cuts.

Both problems -- high prices and shortages -- are the result of well intentioned but misguided policies to save the environment. The result has been an excessive focus on conservation for which the country is now reaping its reward." (Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)

"Saving private stewardship" - "Interior Secretary Gale Norton has repeatedly suggested that property owners are often the best stewards of their own land, and she recently asked Congress for $60 million in the fiscal year 2002 budget to fund two innovative private stewardship programs, which will provide those landowners positive incentives to preserve the habitats of endangered species.

More than 80 percent of the money will go towards establishing a "Landowner Incentive Program," which will be awarded on a competitive basis to private landowners attempting to protect and manage land on which endangered or at-risk species are found, providing both technical and financial assistance. The remaining money will go towards a "Private Stewardship" grant program, which will also provide financial incentives to individuals and groups voluntarily attempting to preserve endangered and at-risk species on private lands.

Mrs. Norton's proposals should go to the head of the class (or at least, the Congress), for the simple reason that positive incentives tend to work. Currently, if a property owner stumbles across an endangered critter (say a Shenandoah salamander) on his property, he has three unhappy options: Squash the critter and hope no one finds out; sell the land before anyone does find out; or wait for the government to find out and plan on being squashed when that land can neither be used nor sold." (Washington Times editorial)

"Scientists Warn on Hiking Power Rates" - "Negative effects on the weather and the climate are likely to hit Uganda soon following hiking of electricity prices, world climate prediction experts here have warned.

Scientists interviewed at the International Research Institute for Climate Predictions at Columbia University say that the sudden increase of power charges are likely to lead to rampant destruction of vast amounts of forest cover with adverse effects on the weather and climate." (New Vision, Kampala)

"Not in Our Backyards" - "A recent court ruling challenges us to consider how environmental rights should be balanced against socio-economic rights

At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, poverty "alleviation" was recognised as a key to achieving "sustainable development". When we host Rio+10 next year, this issue will, no doubt, be an agenda item.

A judgement of the Constitutional Court, handed down just last week, tests the real relationship between poverty and the environment. The mainly white residents of upmarket Kyalami used the environment as a reason to block temporary housing of Alexandra flood victims in their neighbourhood." (Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)

"Whitehall's big shake-up is black news for green ideas" - "THE biggest changes in Tony Blair's radical overhaul of the machinery of government last Friday - the dismembering of John Prescott's sprawling Environment and Transport empire and the abolition (or is it the beefing up?) of Maff - have attracted the least attention. But what happened in this government's first few hours was extremely interesting and may yet prove to be a costly mistake." (Charles Clover, Daily Telegraph) | New green ministry faces tests (BBC Online)

"'I tawt I taw' a bunny wabbit at Disneyland: New evidence shows false memories can be created" - "About one-third of the people who were exposed to a fake print advertisement that described a visit to Disneyland and how they met and shook hands with Bugs Bunny later said they remembered or knew the event happened to them." (University of Washington)

"Using computer doesn't increase risk of carpal tunnel syndrome" - "ST. PAUL, MN – Using a computer at work doesn't increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, according to a study published in the June 12 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology." (American Academy of Neurology)

"Sad workers may make better workers" - "In the past few decades, the popular belief in the area of organizational behaviour and organizational psychology has been that happy workers are better workers. However, new research at the University of Alberta shows that sad workers are more productive." (University of Alberta)

"Continuing Activist Crimes Attract Increased Scrutiny, Concern" - "Several recent incidents--including two serious arson fires in the Northwestand the publication of an arson manual on the Earth Liberation Front's website--have prompted new concern by law enforcement officials and lawmakers.

An FBI spokeswoman warned that the Earth Liberation Front was "upping the ante" by the publication of the online arson manual (www.earthliberationfront.com/main.shtml - reported in AMP News May 30, 2001). She noted that while the ELF claims it doesn't commit violent acts that hurt people, "Arson fires are unpredictable." (AMP News Service)

"GMO Corn Vs. Non-GMO Corn? No Difference, Researchers Concludes" - "Animals who eat genetically modified corn and soybeans showed no difference in weight gain, efficiency, milk composition or overall health when compared with animals fed traditional feed, according to a literature review conducted by an animal science specialist." (Dan Murphy, Meeting Place)

Agbiotech Bulletin - June 2001

June 11, 2001

"Europe Chills for Bush" - "As President Bush sets off for Europe, with media alarums everywhere warning of his alienation from leaders on the continent who've embraced the Kyoto Treaty, it's worth recalling a story former U.S. arms-control director Ken Adelman tells about one of Ronald Reagan's first showdowns with the Europeans.

Secretary of State Alexander Haig explained to the new President that although the Law of the Sea Treaty -- the Kyoto of its day -- was seriously flawed, the U.S. had little choice but to accept some version of it. It was, after all, the product of years of negotiation among 150 countries. Mr. Reagan interrupted: "Al, isn't this what the whole thing was all about?" Mr. Reagan explained: The ability to say no to something "really stupid," even if 150 countries had already said yes, was one of the main reasons for his candidacy and Presidency." (Wall Street Journal)

"Scientists' Report Doesn't Support the Kyoto Treaty" - "Last week the National Academy of Sciences released a report on climate change, prepared in response to a request from the White House, that was depicted in the press as an implicit endorsement of the Kyoto Protocol. CNN's Michelle Mitchell was typical of the coverage when she declared that the report represented "a unanimous decision that global warming is real, is getting worse, and is due to man. There is no wiggle room."

As one of 11 scientists who prepared the report, I can state that this is simply untrue. For starters, the NAS never asks that all participants agree to all elements of a report, but rather that the report represent the span of views. This the full report did, making clear that there is no consensus, unanimous or otherwise, about long-term climate trends and what causes them.

By Richard S. Lindzen. Mr. Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at MIT, was a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on climate change." (Wall Street Journal)

"Bush won't waver in opposing pact on global warming" - "President Bush plans to tell European allies this week that he wants to spend millions of dollars on research into the causes of global warming and technologies to reduce it, but he will not back down on his opposition to mandatory controls on emissions of greenhouse gases, administration officials said." (Bergen County Record)

"Waiting to take action on global warming is unwise" - "Now that it's almost summer, we may be feeling the effects of global warming. At first glance it might seem like an easy thing to decide if our planet is heating up. This is far from the case. Even if we can determine that global climate change is taking place, it is another thing altogether to determine the cause and to determine which, if any, of our human activities are responsible for it." (Honolulu Star)

"Bush to take leadership role on global warming" - "June 10 — President Bush on Monday will commit the United States to a leadership role on global warming, while reiterating his view that the Kyoto accord to limit greenhouse gases is “fatally flawed,” according to a series of talking points obtained Sunday by MSNBC.com. Bush’s statement will come just hours before he leaves for Europe, where leaders have criticized him on the climate change issue." (MSNBC)

"U.S. Losing Status as a World Leader in Climate" - "In little more than a decade, the United States has fallen significantly behind other countries in its ability to simulate and predict long-term shifts in climate, according to a wide range of scientists and recent federal studies." (New York Times)

Well... not exactly. The U.S. is definitely the big-ticket spender on climate science. The problem appears to be that many of the results produced are not politically correct (Oops! No catastrophic warming in these results, again! Go back and keep trying 'til you get it right!) and so don't get media and political play. It isn't that the U.S. is not doing the research but rather that it is doing research which produces too accurate a result - one not desired by command and control ideologues. (Dorks! You must be able to produce something scary on these budgets - you're falling behind the rest of the world!)

Curiously, the expertise of climatologists and meteorologists of the ilk of Lindzen, Christy, Singer, Taylor, et al is ignored while that of Watson (whom, as I recall, is scientifically qualified similarly to "Milk-snatcher Thatcher" and who has been involved in a purely administrative role for at least a decade) is exalted as definitive. A truly bizarre situation.

"New warming study no more definitive" - "A month ago, President Bush asked the prestigious National Academy of Sciences to review research into global warming, notably a much-quoted study by a United Nations science panel, and clarify the issues. Is Mother Earth's temperature really rising? Yes, an 11-person NAS review panel appeared to say late last week.

But as anybody who actually takes a look at the NAS report will find, its conclusions quickly get a lot less definitive than they sound in the opening sentences. Indeed, the third sentence of the report contains this astonishing skinback: "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes are also a reflection of natural variability." Translation: We still don't really know how much of the warming that has been observed -- about one degree Fahrenheit in the last 100 years -- may be man-made and how much may reflect natural cycles.

The review is shot through with other important qualifiers: the computer models that confidently say what the temperature will be a century from now are totally unable to simulate climate events of the past whose outcome is already known; little is yet known about the "feedback effects" of warmer temperatures, which may dry out the earth's surface but create extra water vapor in the atmosphere, which blocks the sun's rays; carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere seems to be proceeding more slowly than predicted.

And in a gently worded but devastating critique -- alarmist media please take particular note -- the NAS authors point out that a widely quoted summary of findings issued by the United Nations "reflects less emphasis on communicating the basis for uncertainty and a stronger emphasis on areas of major concern associated with human-induced climate change." In other words, the UN bureaucrats have been caught trying to scare the socks off you in the hopes of amassing more power." (Thomas J Bray, Detroit News)

"Kyoto climate treaty is a waste of money, environmentalist says" - "THE Kyoto climate change treaty is an ill-judged response to global warming that will cost millions of lives and do the developing world more harm than good, according to a book due out this summer.

The cost of limiting carbon dioxide emissions far outweighs the damage that global warming will eventually do to the world and merely postpones the problem for six years, Bjorn Lomborg, an environmental statistician, has calculated. As a result, he argues, trillions of pounds that might otherwise be spent on fighting poverty and malnutrition and improving infrastructure in developing countries will be wasted." (The Times)

"Time to Act on Warming" - "IN THE UPROAR surrounding his renunciation of the Kyoto protocol on global warming, President Bush said he'd ask a Cabinet-level group to come up with new U.S. proposals to address climate change. As part of that work White House aides asked the National Academy of Sciences to review the state of global warming science. Wednesday they got their answer: a report that endorses previous assessments by a U.N. scientific panel and underscores once more that temperatures are rising and human activity is contributing. Here is not only new impetus for action, but an opportunity for Mr. Bush to move beyond the stance of waiting for scientific clarity. It's not clear how he will use it: spokesman Ari Fleischer was quick to note the areas where uncertainty still exists even while acknowledging the seriousness of climate change. As partisans pick through the document for sentences to support their positions, we'd suggest focusing on the one that says today's policy decisions will influence the extent of any future damage to vulnerable people and ecosystems. It's time to act." says this Washington Post editorial. And in case you missed their stance: Wrong Way on Warming

"Parade of intended consequences" - "Over the years, the phrase "unintended consequences" has come up with increasing frequency, as more and more wonderful-sounding ideas have led to disastrous results. By now, you might think that people with wonderful-sounding ideas would start to question what the consequences would turn out to be and would devote as much time to discovering those consequences as to getting their ideas accepted and turned into laws and policies. But that seldom, if ever, happens.

Why doesn't it? Because a lot depends on what it is you are trying to accomplish. If your purpose is to achieve the heady feeling of being one of the moral elite, then that can be accomplished without the long and tedious work of following up on results." (Thomas Sowell, Washington Times)

From MSNBC's resident airhead, Francesca Lyman: "The endless summer" - "May 9 — If Americans have a fuzzy, faraway vision of global warming, government researchers now warn that climate change could have “far-reaching” consequences for our health. A world rocked by hotter and more chaotic weather could trigger a variety of heat-related health effects, from heat stroke and death to resurgent tropical diseases like malaria and yellow fever." (MSNBC)

"White House Aide: Europe Playing Game on Climate" - "WASHINGTON - A top White House aide said Sunday Europeans critical of the United States for rejecting the Kyoto global warming treaty were playing a "a little bit of a game" to hide their own objections to it. "I think that they've been driven by emotion rather than by science," White House chief of staff Andrew Card said on "Fox News Sunday." He spoke a day before Bush was to leave for his first presidential trip to Europe, during which the debate over global warming is likely to be a major issue.

Card noted European countries critical of President Bush for abandoning the 1997 Kyoto treaty to fight global warming have also failed to ratify the pact. "So I think it's a little bit of a game that they're playing," he said." (Reuters)

"Cleanest London air for 400 years" - "IF you want to taste clean air, go to London. According to new research, the capital's atmosphere is cleaner than at anytime since 1585.

In findings that will surprise cyclists and pedestrians labouring through the capital's traffic fumes in the sun, a Danish professor has argued that the decline of industry and the domestic fireplace, together with cleaner exhausts, means that the level of smoke particles and sulphur dioxide have fallen by more than 95% since their peak in the 19th century. They are back down to levels last seen in the year William Shakespeare left Stratford to savour the sweet air of London." (Sunday Times)

"Calif. request for fuel waiver denied" - "CRAWFORD, Texas, June 10 — The Bush administration will not exempt California from a rule requiring that gasoline contain clean-burning additives such as corn-based ethanol. The decision has far-reaching consequences for the oil industry and Midwestern farmers." (AP)

"The case against capping energy prices" - "President Bush is being hammered for not ordering enough energy conservation. He is also being pounded, often by the same critics, for not capping the wholesale price of electricity. The critics contradict themselves. By letting prices reflect the reality of supply and demand, government provides the greatest incentive to conserve." (Seattle Times)

"Bill to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Benefits Farmers, Environment" - "Jun. 7--WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.--A bill recently introduced to the Senate would not only reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but also provide monetary support and incentives for farmers to practice conservation on their croplands.

By combining conservation with economic benefits, this bill has the potential to make a difference for the environment and agriculture, according to the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), a national public/private partnership working for agricultural conservation.

The Domestic Carbon Conservation Incentive Act provides national criteria and financial incentives for carbon storage practices in the United States. Introduced by Sen. Sam Brownback, (R-Kan.) last month, S. 785 would amend the Farm Bill to establish a carbon storage program, similar to the Conservation Reserve Program, that pays landowners and operators to hold carbon in the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere." (Knight Ridder/Tribune)

I have nothing against farmers. In fact, most everything I eat comes from farms, so I can be said an active supporter of farming. On the other hand, I also realise that this pork-barrelling is getting too bloody ridiculous for words! There are good reasons to encourage conservation tillage farming - but "global warming" sure isn't one of them.

"Purple grape juice may stain lips but can help heart: study" - "The cardiac benefits of purple grape juice could outweigh the frustration of clothes launderers battling their staining potential, according to a new study. Researchers at Washington's Georgetown University concluded that drinking grape juice not only has a direct effect on blood clotting but also increases the level of antioxidants, crucial in the battle against oxygenated free radicals chemical byproducts of the body's process of turning food into energy." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"UCSF research featured at international meeting on bone and calcified tissue" - "An analysis of eight recent observational studies suggests a reduction in hip and non-spine fractures among individuals taking statins, medicines commonly prescribed for the treatment of elevated cholesterol levels, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco reported today." (University of California, San Francisco)

"Airlines 'knew blood clot risk'" - "Airlines have known about the possible links between long-haul flights and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for 10 years, a BBC investigation has found. BBC One's Panorama programme also says that dozens of airlines turned down or ignored requests from scientists to study blood clots among passengers." (BBC Online)

"Mobile telephone masts 'can detect stealth bombers'" - "MULTI-BILLION pound stealth bombers could be rendered obsolete by a British invention that uses existing mobile telephone masts to detect and track aircraft that were previously invisible to radar.

Stealth fighters and bombers such as the F117, B1 and B2 played key roles in the Gulf and Kosovan wars as they are almost impossible to detect using conventional radar. However, the ease with which the mobile telephone mast system developed at Roke Manor Research at Romsey in Hampshire can be used to detect the aircraft has greatly concerned the military." (Telegraph)

"Phone firms looked at radiation risks in 1993" - "THE major mobile phone companies were investigating ways of shielding against radiation as long ago as 1993, according to evidence unearthed by the Wireless Consumer Alliance." (The Times)

"No evidence of cancer link" - "SCIENTIFIC evidence does not suggest that mobile phone use will induce or promote cancers, the British Medical Association says.

The radiation is non-ionising — it does not break chemical bonds — so is unlikely to promote cancer, the BMA says in a report, adding that the few experiments that suggest otherwise have not been replicated. The same applies to a single study that found a decline in fertility in rats, which has yet to be repeated under controlled conditions." (The Times)

"Mobile firms patent cancer shields" - "THE world’s largest mobile telephone manufacturers have been patenting devices to reduce the risk of brain tumours among users while rejecting claims of any health hazards." (The Times)

"Antimicrobial steel makes house calls" - "MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - Throw away those antibacterial sprays. A California family constructing a germ-free home from the ground up. The home is being built with an Ohio company's specially coated steel designed to give its owners a break from mold, mildew, bacteria, even fingerprints. "I suffer from asthma and allergies, and I know mold and mildew can aggravate my problems," said homeowner Madeleine Landry, 58, of Northridge, Calif. "I'm also allergic to many of the cleaning products that are normally used to get rid of germs." (AP)

"Dirty hands 'poison thousands'" - "Almost a third of men and many women do not wash their hands after going to the toilet vastly increasing the risk of food poisoning, says a survey. Many are transferring germs straight from toilet to plate because they also do not wash their hands before preparing food." (BBC Online)

"Repetitive stress pain was just 'hysteria'" - "HULL, Que. - Repetitive stress injury -- the condition once so widespread it spawned a generation of batwing keyboards, ergonomic footstools and steel-and-black-nylon braces -- is going the way of the typewriter, experts say. "The whole RSI thing has sort of evaporated in a cloud of smoke," says Edward Shorter, history of medicine chairman at the University of Toronto. "The fact is that most of these people didn't have carpal tunnel syndrome. They had hysteria." (National Post)

"Smokers 'risk breast cancer spread'" - "Women with breast cancer who smoke are twice as likely to get secondary tumours in the lungs, doctors have found. An American doctor compared women whose breast cancer had spread with those whose had not. She found women with breast cancer which had spread, or metastasised, to the lung were twice as likely to be smokers as those whose cancer had not spread.

Smoking is not a direct risk factor for breast cancer." (BBC Online)

"Germany, US at nuclear poles" - "As President Bush prepares to leave today on a six-day trip to Europe - his first extended visit - many Europeans are looking for explanations of why he rejected the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

For Germany - not one of Mr. Bush's scheduled stops - his declaration last month of plans to promote new nuclear power plants, part of a broader policy on meeting America's future energy needs, only added to the astonishment." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Seabrook's new spark: Revisiting nuclear power" - "SEABROOK, N.H.- This is where nuclear power was stopped in its tracks: a vacated lump of unfinished concrete rising 219 feet above the salt marshes that line New Hampshire's slice of coast. The half-finished containment dome of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station, halted in 1984 by protests and cost overruns, was designed to cover the second of two 1,160-megawatt reactors that had been planned for the facility. But revived interest in nuclear power might finish the job after all. Seabrook, and its sole operating reactor, are about to go on sale under New Hampshire's utility deregulation plans. And a potential bidder, Entergy Corp. of New Orleans, says it may consider building another reactor at the site." (Boston Globe)

"Consumers come round to GM foods" - "A survey commissioned by the Government agency Biotechnology Australia shows almost half of Australian consumers would be willing to eat genetically modified foods. The survey of one thousand people showed 45 per cent wouldn't eat them, while 6 per cent weren't sure. But when asked if they would eat gm-foods which had been modified to TASTE better, only 43 per cent said yes. The survey also found that men and younger people had a generally higher acceptance of gm-foods than women or older Australians." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"EU Sees New Genetic Food Proposals" - "BERLIN -- The European Union's top consumer protection official expects the EU to present new proposals for regulating genetically modified foods in June, a newspaper reported Sunday. EU commissioner David Byrne, in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost daily, said the proposal would include provisions allowing consumers to sue if genetically modified food is not properly labeled. ``If the labeling is inadequate, consumers will be able to sue,'' he told the paper. ``In addition, new laws for genetically modified animal feed and seeds are planned.''

Under pressure notably from the United States, EU officials have been seeking ways to end a three-year EU suspension on the marketing of new genetically modified foods while also addressing deep suspicions among the European public about such foods." (AP)

"Plans lodged for more GM oilseed rape sites" - "NEW applications have been lodged with the Scottish Executive to trial genetically-modified oilseed rape in the North-east. Aventis Cr- Science hopes to plant strains of GM rape near Udny Station and Daviot. The company says the sites would form part of a UK-wide farmscale evaluation of new strains of the crop." (Aberdeen Press & Journal)

June 9-10, 2001

"Recovering Earth" - "It hardly needed explanation. 'Everyone knows the planet is in bad shape,' thundered a Time magazine article last year. The seas are being polluted, the forests devastated, species are being driven to extinction at record rates, the rain is acid, the ozone layer vaporising, and the rivers are so poisonous fish are floating on the surface, dead.

As Al Gore, former US vice-president, put it in his book Earth in the Balance : 'Modern industrial civilisation is colliding violently with our planet's ecological system.' We inherited Eden and are leaving our children a depleted rubbish tip.

But there's a growing belief that what everyone takes for granted is wrong: things are actually getting better." (Observer)

"Activists' Diesel-Fuel Report Smoky, Says Public Health Group" - "New York, NY—Contrary to the claims of the activist group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), there is no scientific validity to fears that diesel exhaust emissions from school buses pose a cancer risk to schoolchildren.

This was the conclusion reached by scientists affiliated with the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), which today released a peer-reviewed analysis entitled School Buses and Diesel Fuel. The ACSH report criticized a recently promoted report on diesel exhaust, authored by the NRDC.

The NRDC report, No Breathing in the Aisles, is replete with invalid and unsupported assertions, according to the ACSH document. NRDC's allegations, the ACSH report states, are based on uncontrolled observations and unjustified extrapolations. The ACSH report was authored by renowned toxicologist Daland R. Juberg, Ph.D., DABT, and reviewed by 12 independent colleagues in academia and consultative toxicology, in addition to the ACSH professional staff." (ACSH)

"Scary study: Selenium deficiency causes flu virus to mutate into more dangerous forms" - "CHAPEL HILL -- Influenza virus that has been passed through mice deficient in the trace nutrient selenium mutates and emerges from the mice more virulent than before, a new study shows. While the research was limited to rodents, it's likely that something similar happens in humans deficient in selenium and, possibly, in other nutrients, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists say. That's because humans and mice are so similar biologically, and the mice were infected with a human influenza virus." (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"Hazardous chemicals found in tiles, Greenpeace says" - "Canadian vinyl floor tiles have high concentrations of organotins, a compound that causes reproductive damage in animals, says the environmental group Greenpeace." (Globe and Mail)

"Despite Progress, War on Cancer in U.S. Is Not Won" - "WASHINGTON - The toll cancer takes on America has moderated in the past decade, but the war against the group of diseases that kills 550,000 people annually in the United States is far from won, experts say.

There was plenty of good news in the annual report on cancer in America published on Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The overall death rate and the rate of diagnosis of new cases of most types of cancers continued their decline from peaks registered in 1991 and 1992." (Reuters)

"Pylons 'spread foot and mouth'" - "One of the world's leading experts on the effects of radiation believes electricity pylons have helped spread foot and mouth disease. David Henshaw, a professor of physics at Bristol University, says the high-voltage power lines make the virus even more virulent. He believes the virus, carried by the wind, is electrically charged by the power lines and so better able to "stick" to animals. The principle works in much the same way as static electricity ­ just as a statically charged balloon sticks to clothing, so the statically charged foot and mouth virus adheres to animals." (Independent)

"Millions are driven to attack their computers" - "It is known as 'desk rage', and it is becoming an epidemic. One in four Britons admits to beating their computer - and the attacks are often sparked by a torrent of annoying emails. A study of the computer habits of 4,200 workers by computer firm Novatech showed that a quarter of Britons happily admit to attacking their computers." (Observer)

"Dieticians told size of plate can affect appetite" - "WINNIPEG - Researchers in obesity are studying the effects of vitamins and even plate size on people's appetites." (CBC)

"JAPAN: Eating sugar can aid weight loss" - "It is possible to eat sugar and lose weight, according to Japanese researchers, just as long as that sugar contains dietary fibres.

A research group from the Kagoshima University overturned the traditional assumption that sugar causes weight gain after experimenting with the dietary habits of mice and rats. Professor Makoto Fujii, from the university's school of agriculture, and assistant Professor Hou Dexing found that the animals lost weight when they ate sugar combined with arabinose, a sugar found in dietary fibre." (just-food.com)

"USA: Bill will restrict sugar, fatty foods in schools" - "The amount of sugar and fat in food served up to children in Californian schools is set to be restricted after the senators voted 22-15 to approve a bill by Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Commerce. The bill was created in response to fears about the growing numbers of inactive, obese and unhealthy school age children. Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento explained that these overweight children will suffer from health problems such as diabetes and heart disease: "These are children who will burden our health care system in the next ten, 20 and 30 years." (just-food.com)

"Wheezing in kids on the rise in UK: study" - "NEW YORK, Jun 08 - Nearly twice as many young children in the UK now have wheezing problems including asthma and cold-related wheezing compared with rates a decade ago, study finding suggest." (Reuters Health)

"Diet and hygiene could be behind asthma epidemic" - "THE number of pre-school children with wheezing disorders has doubled over the past 10 years, according to a study published today. The rise in asthma and non-allergic breathing difficulties may be caused by changes in diet or obsessive hygiene in the home, a team of researchers reports. But it has ruled out increased exposure to traffic pollution." (Telegraph)

"Hong Kong patient has human form of mad cow disease, officials say" - "HONG KONG - Doctors suspect that a Chinese woman is suffering from the human form of mad cow disease in what would be the first case of the lethal brain-wasting sickness in Hong Kong, health officials said. After performing brain scans and tests, doctors believed the unidentified 34-year-old woman has variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the Hospital Authority said." (AP)

"Judge Restricts Farm's Pesticide Use Near School" - "In the first court-ordered limit on use of a legal pesticide in Ventura County, a lemon rancher has been barred from spraying on the portion of his orchard closest to an elementary school when students are on campus. The preliminary injunction issued Friday by Judge Henry Walsh also requires rancher Daniel Campbell to notify Ventura Unified School District officials 72 hours before any spraying, and mandates that licensed pest-control advisors be on site during all applications." (LA Times)

"Doggy bags are in the dog house" - "Taking away unfinished food is common among those who eat out in the city's less expensive restaurants. However, many establishments have become concerned that, if customers do not follow basic food hygiene rules, the restaurant may be held liable for any food poisoning that results." (The [Melbourne] Age)

"Climate change natural" - "The very first sentence of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report to the White House released on Wednesday states unambiguously: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures ... to rise."

Only near the end of the report do we learn of the considerable uncertainties that could negate this clear and unequivocal conclusion: "Because of the large and still uncertain level of natural variability inherent in the climate record and the uncertainties in the time histories of the various forcing agents (and particularly aerosols), a causal linkage between the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the observed climate changes during the 20th century cannot be unequivocally established. The fact that the magnitude of the observed warming is large in comparison to natural variability as simulated in climate models is suggestive of such a linkage, but it does not constitute proof of one because the model simulations could be deficient in natural variability on the decadal to century time scale."

But there is no such "fact" that the magnitude of the observed warming is large." (S. Fred Singer, National Post)

The Week That Was June 9, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"National Academy of Sciences Raises More Climate Questions" - "On June 6, 2001, an 11-member panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released "Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions," a report they prepared for President George W. Bush. The report confirms important points that many analysts critical of mainstream portrayals of climate change science and policy have argued for years." (Ken Green, TechCentralstation)

"Bush Seeking to Assure Europe on Global Warming" - "WASHINGTON - President Bush will outline steps on Monday to advance research into global warming as he tries to assure Europeans of his concern about climate change just before his first visit to Europe as president, aides said on Friday." (Reuters) | Leaders Seek Global Warming Research (AP)

"The Kyoto accord finally flames out" - "The great policy fiasco known as climate change is unravelling. Nations are at each other's throats, corporations are sparring for the spoils, the science is a gas and most people couldn't give a hoot. Who's got the keys to the SUV? And we want more electricity!

The freshest news is the report of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, commissioned by U.S. President George W. Bush to come up with the hard facts on global warming. Instead, it came up with scientific mush. Some of the language seemed hard enough. "Global gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." But these declarations gradually unwound into a maze of uncertainty and unproven hypothesis." (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

"NAS report political, Cato says" - "WASHINGTON, June 8 -- The National Academy of Sciences report on global warming that was released on Wednesday is "more politics than science," and is "less a report on the state of greenhouse science than it is a report on the state of the alarmist argument for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," according to the libertarian Cato Institute. The NAS report predicted that temperatures would increase between 2.5 degrees and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, and agreed with the assessment by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that greenhouse gases are the likely cause of the warming. "A close reading of that report reveals that the alarmist argument is in pretty bad shape," says Cato scholar Jerry Taylor. "The most telling thing about the report is the fact that it simply ignores without comment important scientific findings that conflict with the alarmist vision of future warming," he adds." (UPI)

"Galloping glacier; Surge follows decades of inactivity" - "Tokositna Glacier -- The Tokositna Glacier is rumbling and crackling as it moves forward through the craggy peaks of the Alaska Range this summer on a journey that's surprised the experts and given tourists a rare view of a force that shaped the earth.

After decades of inactivity, the Tokositna suddenly began surging in late February, moving forward at a rate of about eight feet per day. That might not sound like much, but it's pretty zippy for an alpine glacier, said Guy Adema, the National Park Service's glaciologist at Denali National Park.

There are about 40 glaciers in Denali, covering about 1 million acres. About one-quarter are surge-type glaciers, that gallop forward suddenly at a rapid rate. Surges are generally thought to be caused by a buildup of meltwater beneath the glacier, Adema said. "We think it has something to do with the water outlets being blocked," he said. When the water builds up, it acts as a lubricant, allowing the glacier to slide forward at a much faster-than-normal rate. While scientists think they know how glaciers surge, they're not exactly sure why." (AP)

"Badger revival is boosted by winter warming" - "BADGER numbers have been boosted to their highest in a century after a succession of mild winters, a study shows.

There are estimated to be up to 350,000 badgers in Britain, as many as 40,000 more than three years ago. Rising average winter temperatures are proving crucial to the badger’s breeding success, with the milder conditions more than cancelling out the damaging effects of drier summers, the report says.

Chris Newman, of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, said that global warming was helping the badger to increase its numbers greatly." (The Times)

"Tech Gains Show Clean Fuel Use -- Not the Fuels Themselves -- Is Key to Cutting Air Pollution" - "For decades, environmental regulators have focused on the environmental impacts of fuels, passing myriad regulations governing the import of fuels, the handling of fuels, the additives put into fuels, and so on. Grand schemes to move away from fossil fuels have led to programs that poured money into alternative fuels research, and at times, regulators have gone so far as to mandate the very nature of fuels they felt desirable. For example, California’s Air Resources Board went so far as to mandate that a certain portion of the vehicle fleet run on electricity. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has called for so many different forms of gasoline that boutique markets have been created across the country, with shortages and price spikes as a result. Anyone who recalls Jimmy Carter’s “synfuels” program will remember the millions of tax dollars poured down a hole of chasing new fuels, rather than trying to use existing fuels better." (Kenneth Green, TechCentralStation)

"Nuke Agency Evicts Greenpeace From Web Site" - "GENEVA - Nuclear processing agency Cogema has won a cybersquatting case against Greenpeace International, having the environmentalists evicted from a site bearing the French concern's name." (Reuters)

"Shell Suppliers Give $60M to Taco Bell" - "LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Taco Bell franchise owners will receive $60 million from taco shell suppliers to help recoup losses from a massive recall in response to a genetically altered corn scare last year. Under the deal announced Friday, Taco Bell parent Tricon Global Restaurants will join its suppliers in seeking damages from the companies who introduced the bioengineered corn into the U.S. food supply." (AP)

"GM trials face delay as crops destroyed" - "Six out of 13 of Britain's GM oil seed rape trials have been covertly destroyed by opponents in the past few weeks, potentially delaying for at least a year the future commercialisation of the controversial crop.

The pharmaceutical giant Aventis yesterday admitted that the attacks, all of which were on seeds developed by the company, had taken place but declined to say whether the damage would affect the data they were designed to collect. The trials are a legal step before the crops can be given a commercial licence." (Guardian)

"Modified genes increase longivity of fruits" - "SINGAPORE: Researchers at Singapore's National University are reported to have developed a system of modifying genes to delay fruit ripening by up to four months. They have cloned and modified the genes which fruits and plants use to produce ethylene, the gas which causes ripening, the 'Straits Times' said on Saturday." (Times of India)

"As Biotech Crops Multiply, Consumers Get Little Choice" - "CHICAGO, June 9 — Despite persistent concerns about genetically modified crops, they are spreading so rapidly that it has become almost impossible for consumers to avoid them, agriculture experts say." (New York Times)

"SINGAPORE: China Oilseeds - GM turmoil as S. American soy arrives" - "SINGAPORE, June 8 - China's new rules on genetically modified (GM) foods have caused turmoil in the oilseed market as huge amounts of gene-spliced soybeans are set to arrive there from South America, traders said on Friday. They said according to the new rules, announced on Wednesday and effective immediately, all production, sales and import of GM foods requires government approval certifying that they do not cause any harm to humans, animals or the environment. The new regulations also require that GM products be labelled as such before being put on sale. But traders said the announcement left many details unclear, including which authorities were in charge of issuing such certificates and even the definition of GM foods. The new rules were announced just as more than 1.5 million tonnes of soybeans are scheduled to arrive each month in China from South America." (Reuters)

June 8, 2001

"Bush Push for Son of Kyoto is Misguided" - "President Bush plans during next week’s trip to Europe to soothe European leaders who are upset with his rejection of the Kyoto global warming treaty. A proposal offered by Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill may very well achieve the President’s goal.

If so, the President may want to stay in Europe. The O’Neill proposal is bound to upset Americans interested in developing a rational national energy policy." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

NRC report commentary by John L Daly: "National Academy of Pseudo-Science" - "Today, radical environmentalists will be celebrating. The U.S. National Academy of Science (a somewhat devalued title by now) has just released a report by a selected committee of climatologists who were commissioned by President Bush to provide an independent U.S. assessment of the current state of climate science.

While many in the climate community hoped for a more balanced or critical approach to the IPCC, the National Assessment, and an earlier report by an NAS panel on the surface-satellite conflict, all we got today was a 100% endorsement of the IPCC and its processes, including the infamous `Summary for Policymakers', full endorsement for the discredited `National Assessment' (which even most climatologists could not stomach) , and full endorsement for the earlier NAS report on surface-satellite temperatures conflict.

This report contained no new science, no new evidence, and most critically - it did not address in any detail a single point of contention raised by global warming sceptics. Specific problems with this latest report are - (quotes in red)

  "Temperatures are in fact rising" - Only according to the surface record, mostly from third world instruments. The satellite record shows little or no warming, and the surface record from the U.S. shows a climate today little different to what it was 70 years ago. This remark confirmed the committee's support for the surface record - no reason given.

"There is general agreement that the observed warming is real and particularly strong within the past twenty years." With this remark, the committee have clearly rejected the satellite temperature record outright, with not a single reason offered. Because the satellites show no strong warming `within the past twenty years', the committee clearly have given 100% blessing to the disputed surface record - without so much as a reason to justify that choice.

"The committee generally agrees with the assessment of human-caused climate change presented in the IPCC Working Group I (WG1) scientific report." - So they toss the ball back into the IPCC court, choosing not to raise a single point of criticism of that over-politicised UN body. This is hardly surprising as several committee members were themselves involved in the IPCC process.

"The committee finds that the full IPCC Working Group I (WG 1) report is an admirable summary of research activities in climate science, and the full report is adequately summarized in the Technical Summary."  The IPCC summary was also highly selective, choosing to summarise only those research activities which reinforced the IPCC mindset. That this NAS committee should find it so admirable clearly establishes them as ideologically pro-IPCC with no scientific justification offered.  They gave no reasons for the selectivity exercised by IPCC reviewers, accepting some research studies, but ignoring others.

"After analysis, the committee finds that the conclusions presented in the SPM and the Technical Summary (TS) are consistent with the main body of the report." - Again no discussion of the numerous points of difference between the two IPCC documents raised many times by sceptics.  The SPM and TS are clearly incompatible in many respects, but the committee again resorts to endorsement without justification.

On sulfate aerosols, whose effects are highly disputed - "The monitoring of aerosol properties has not been adequate to yield accurate knowledge of the aerosol climate influence."  This is an admission that little is known about these aerosols, but the committee did not proceed to find any fault with models which use those aerosols to prevent the models from over-heating their virtual earths beyond existing real climate.  Those aerosols are used in the models like an accountants `balancing item' in a balance sheet, and are assumed to be real only in order to keep the models in some kind of agreement with current climate.  The committee should have been more detailed on this issue, given their admission that little is known about the effect of aerosols in the real world.

On solar forcing, the direct effect of which the committee claims to be small (+0.3 w/m2) , they dismiss the well published secondary feedback effects of solar forcing - "Numerous possible indirect forcings associated with solar variability have been suggested.  However, only one of these, ozone changes induced by solar UV irradiance variations, has convincing observational support."   With these dismissive words, the entire body of published and peer-reviewed solar science built up over the last ten years is thrown out - without so much as an explanation.

On the `National Assessment' - "The U.S. National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts, augmented by a recent NRC report on climate and health, provides a basis for summarizing the potential consequences of climate change."   The  National Assessment has been one of the most criticised climate documents of recent times.  It was attacked not merely by global warming sceptics, but also by scientists normally sympathetic to the IPCC and the global warming scenario.  It was a manifestly political and alarmist document and exceeded even the alarmism normally associated with radical environmental groups.  But this NAS committee endorses the National Assessment. More shame to them for doing so.

On the delicate issue as to why the satellites and surface do not agree as to recent warming trends - "The finding that surface and troposphere temperature trends have been different as observed over intervals as long as a decade or two is difficult to reconcile with our current understanding of the processes that control the vertical distribution of temperature in the atmosphere."   With these mealy-mouthed words, the committee put themselves squarely in the business of pseudo-science, not science.  Having admitted they could not understand why the satellites measuring the free atmosphere were producing a different trend to the surface record, this lack of understanding did not compel them to question the validity of the models which depend critically on an assumption that an enhanced greenhouse must warm the troposphere first, before the surface warms.  What has been observed is quite the reverse.  From this, it requires no great leap of thinking to conclude that either the models are working to a completely false premise, or else the surface record itself is wrong, or both.  Either way, having endorsed the models without explanation, and having endorsed the surface record again without explanation, they could only pass off this fundamental conflict with the inane and worthless comment given above.

In conclusion, the NAS committee made many assertions, none of which they chose to justify or explain other than to state it was `their view' - as if their mere authority as representing the National Academy of Science were enough to prevail in the argument.

Well it isn't.  The days when mere `authority' could win an argument or debate are long gone.  Such deference is more characteristic of a medieval priesthood, not a modern science where every important claim must be justified and explained. Only evidence counts in this modern world, and this committee have provided none, merely re-stated what has already been stated in politically contaminated documents by the IPCC and National Assessment.

For that reason, the National Academy of `Science' hardly deserve their name any more." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Scientists Urge Bush to Act on Global Warming" - "A panel of American scientists declared today that global warming was a real problem and was getting worse, a conclusion that may lead President Bush to change his stand on the issue as he heads next week to Europe, where the United States is seen as a major source of the air pollution held responsible for climate change, according to The New York Times.

In the Cato Institute book, "The Satanic Gases: Clearing the Air About Global Warming," Patrick J. Michaels and Robert C. Balling Jr. explain why global warming is vastly overrated as an environmental threat. The book marshals an impressive array of scientific data to argue that the initial forecasts of rapid global warming were simply wrong." (Cato Institute)

Predictable coverage of the NRC report, here's a small sample:

"White House 'Global Warming' Backers Put Heat on Bush" - "WASHINGTON - White House insiders are working hard to undermine President Bush's rejection of the anti-American Kyoto climate treaty, says a leading critic of the theory of global warming. What’s more, warned Dr. S. Fred Singer in a breakfast meeting Wednesday, if you like energy shortages and rolling blackouts in California, you will love the enforced cuts in energy use that the Kyoto Protocol would require." (Wes Vernon, NewsMax) | Bush's Secret CO2 Meeting? (Diane Alden, NewsMax)

"Europe to snub Bush pollution curbs plan" - "PRESIDENT BUSH wants a system of voluntary controls on American companies to combat global warming in an alternative to the Kyoto climate treaty to be presented to European Union leaders next week.

The proposals are expected to be rejected today by EU environment ministers who debated climate change last night at a meeting in Luxembourg. Britain and Ireland were represented by civil servants because of the general election and the Irish referendum on EU enlargement." (Telegraph)

"If not Kyoto, what?" - "President George Bush finds himself under siege after rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that would impose punitive energy sanctions on the U.S. economy in response to unjustified global warming fears. Foreign politicians, American political opponents, and fund-raisers for environmental groups are all ganging up on him. Of course, the critics are being disingenuous. Mr. Bush announced his opposition to Kyoto during his campaign and has never wavered. His position also reflects the U.S. Senate vote of 95-0 against any such treaty that would cause severe economic damage to the United States, but exempt most of the rest of the world. And while the American public may express concern about global warming, a recent Time/CNN poll indicates that less than half would be willing to pay an additional 25 cents for a gallon of gasoline." (S Fred Singer, Washington Times)

Sigh... "Shrinking Arctic Ice Threatens Inuit, Polar Bears" - "ABOVE THE NORTH POLE - Global warming (news - web sites) shrinking the Arctic icecap is making life harsher for Inuit and polar bears, but paradoxically it might chill Europe by shutting off a warm ocean current. Inhabitants of the Arctic say higher temperatures, which scientists say are rising faster than anywhere else on Earth, are adding to the stresses of life near the Pole rather than giving a slight relief from the bone-chilling cold." (Reuters)

"Take your sunscreen when you head – North" - "IQALUIT - The sun is shining, the snow is melting and the hunters are out. A typical spring scenario in Canada's North, but this spring something is different. Many Inuit say they're getting severe sunburns. Simanek Kilabuk says the sun seems much stronger, reflecting off the snow. He told CBC News, "It was never like that before, I've noticed a big difference." Other hunters say they suspect ozone depletion and climate change are the major causes of sunburn." (CBC)

"Nord Pool says no green certificate trading in 2001" - "HELSINKI - Nordic power bourse Nord Pool says it would not launch green energy certificate trade this year, Nord Pool President Torger Lien told Reuters yesterday. "Nord Pool could be ready to do it but other elements are not ready," he said on the sidelines of the Finnish Electricity Association's 75th anniversary seminar, citing uncertainty over who would issue the certificates and whether they will become mandatory in Nordic countries." (Reuters)

"'Green' Europe Fails to Pass Energy Tax" - "LUXEMBOURG - President Bush's decision to tear up the Senate-opposed Kyoto Protocol on "global warming" got a shot in the arm Tuesday as his main critics in the European Union failed to push a Europe-wide energy tax.

European Union leaders reacted strongly against Bush's announcement, but now find themselves unable to meet the strict targets of the Kyoto agreement as an energy tax is the main plank of the EU's pledge to cut emissions.

The EU's tax package ran into trouble on a number of different levels at a meeting of EU energy ministers in Luxembourg, as Spain and Britain supported a proposal to link the controversial tax to opening the continent's energy market to competition.

Germany, France and Italy all resisted the link, which would force them to speed up the slow pace of liberalization in their own industry sectors." (UPI)

"Risk of death greater in diabetics regardless of sex, age or affluence" - "A study in this week's BMJ finds that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of death - irrespective of age, sex or affluence - compared to those without diabetes. This excess mortality exists even in the poorest areas of the United Kingdom, where death rates are already above the national average, and presents a depressing snapshot of the prospects for diabetic people in the UK today." (BMJ)

Healthier people live longer? Imagine that...

"Diet and hygiene could be behind asthma epidemic" - "THE number of pre-school children with wheezing disorders has doubled over the past 10 years, according to a study published today. The rise in asthma and non-allergic breathing difficulties may be caused by changes in diet or obsessive hygiene in the home, a team of researchers reports. But it has ruled out increased exposure to traffic pollution." (Telegraph)

At last! The Holy Grail of excuses: "Gene variant linked to obesity risk" - "NEW YORK, Jun 07 - Two common variations in a gene involved in metabolism may make people slightly more or less vulnerable to obesity, researchers in Austria have found.

And although the obesity-promoting variant seems to have only a weak effect in any individual, the investigators say it is so common in the population that the genetic trait may contribute to the condition in a significant number of people. The researchers estimate that more than 50% of the population has the obesity-promoting version." (Reuters Health)

On risk, perception and arsenic... (Salon)

"GREENPEACE UNCOVERS HIDDEN DANGERS IN THE HOME" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 7, 2001 - A Greenpeace report released Wednesday shows that children are needlessly exposed to hazardous chemicals found in vinyl plastic childcare products and home furnishings.

Independent laboratories analyzed items for Greenpeace, from vinyl mattress pads to vinyl flooring, and found a range of additives, primarily phthalates and organotins, but also lead, cadmium and bisphenol A. The chemicals found in the products have been shown to cause a variety of adverse health effects." (ENS)

This time of year again, already? How time flies and we're back here with the phthalate nonsense again. Guess it must be though, because MSNBC's resident bonehead, Francesca Lyman, has decided it's time to terrorise parents over abatement of juvenile dental caries:

"Dental sealants: Something to smile about?" - "June 6 — This week, Your Environment tackles questions from readers about whether protective dental sealants are effective and safe for children. Most dentists are pleased that the plastic coverings do such a good job at preventing tooth decay, but some scientists raise questions about potential risks. Columnist Francesca Lyman talks to the experts and offers their advice to parents." (MSNBC)

Curiously, while Lyman manages to dredge up HAA-hysteric, Frederick Vom Saal, who claims that pathetically weak HAAs (Hormonally Active Agents, formerly known as "endocrine disruptors" except that no one can demonstrate any disruption of the human endocrine system by these agents) present a hazard worthy of worry (and significant research grants), she omits to mention the believed health benefits of much more potent hormone mimics. I refer, of course, to the phytoestrogens claimed to be of such benefit (and so much more effective estrogen mimics than is bisphenol-A).

See, as a current example: Men who eat soy and tomatoes reduce their risk of prostate cancer, study shows "... The soy chemical found to reduce prostate cancer in mice is called genistein, one of two compounds in soy that belong to a family of chemicals known as isoflavones. Isoflavones are phytoestrogens, plant based chemicals that mimic the effects of estrogen in the body. Researchers theorize that the prevalence of soy in Asian diets may be one reason why men in Asia have a lower rate of prostate cancer than men in the United States. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men." (ENN)

"Testicular cancer deaths plunge" - "The number of men dying from testicular cancer in the UK has fallen by almost three quarters in less than a decade, research suggests." (BBC Online)

"Cape Breton frogs died of natural causes" - ""HALIFAX - According to early findings of an autopsy, about 300 frogs found dead near a marsh in Cape Breton died because of a long, cold winter. The leopard frogs were found in May on the shore of a marsh in New Waterford, Nova Scotia. Scientists feared contaminated water might have killed the animals. But P.E.I. animal pathologist Scott McBurney says the frogs likely froze to death while hibernating near the marsh. He says he's found no signs of toxins in the animals." (CBC)

"'Health risks' of mowing the lawn" - "Gardeners who use a petrol-driven lawnmower could be breathing in cancer-causing chemicals along with the smell of freshly-mown grass. A Swedish-based scientist has found that just one-hour's mowing could produce the same amount of carcinogens as an average car does in a 150km drive." (BBC Online)

"Measles Vaccine Causes Lymphoma Remission in Mice" - "WASHINGTON - The battle against advanced non-Hodgkin's lymphoma may have an unlikely new weapon -- the measles vaccine. Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said on Thursday mice injected with human cells containing the cancer went into remission after receiving a derivative of the Edmonston-B strain of the vaccine." (Reuters)

"Greenhouse gas concerns not seen halting oil projects" - "OTTAWA -- The federal government is not contemplating putting any brakes on tar sands developments over environmental concerns, despite alarms raised by environmentalists over resulting greenhouse gas emissions, says the chairman of Syncrude Canada Ltd." (Globe and Mail)

"Despite hoopla no new US nuclear plants soon" - "NEW YORK - Despite haunting memories of the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents, the U.S. nuclear power industry appears poised for a rebirth as a worsening energy shortage and the high price of alternative fuels force utilities to seek new supply. But energy executives caution it may be years before completion of the next new plant." (Reuters)

"Acid Rain Problem Isn't Solved, Just Put On Hold" - "On Earth Day, April 22, in Massachusetts, a statewide survey of acid rain damage to the state's lakes, ponds and reservoirs was conducted. Now, analysis reveals that cleanup efforts have accomplished very little. Paul J. Godfrey, director of the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC) at the University of Massachusetts, sees no appreciable change in damage from acid rain in the last decade to those lakes, ponds and reservoirs, according to data collected in the statewide survey. "Preliminary results suggest that we have not gained any ground on the acid rain problem but, at least, we haven't lost any, either," said Godfrey." (UniSci)

"People's Needs Should Come First, Not Wildlife" - "In a year or so, another round of talks on African wildlife - specially the elephant - will take place outside the continent.

Emotions will run high and probably cloud the real issues at the biennial parley of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). The Kenya Wildlife Service and a myriad NGOs claiming to be involved in sustainable wildlife utilisation will despatch representatives to "articulate Kenya's position".

It will be the same old dossier: Poaching is on the increase and lifting the ban on the international ivory trade will result in the extermination of the elephant.

The only problem with this scenario is that communities hosting the wildlife will hardly have been involved in preparation of the paper. Indeed, they will probably get to know about the conference proceedings and deliberations through the media.

And so the conference cycle will continue. The losers are the communities residing adjacent to game reserves and national parks - in Maasailand, Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo, Tsavo, Meru, Mt Elgon and Mt Kenya.

Despite being told they own the resource, local communities have become pawns in the politics of wildlife conservation. Instead, the key players are the so-called conservationists (mostly foreigners), owners of tourism resorts and the government to some extent.

Then there are the spectators. These are Western nations who offer nothing but cheer loudly as Africans squabble over the future of a resource that should easily be utilised to enrich the continent and its people." (The Nation (Nairobi))

"Cattle used to fight malaria" - "Scientists have discovered a cheap and effective way of controlling mosquitoes in South Asia - sponging cattle with insecticide. The usual method of controlling malaria carrying mosquitoes is to spray houses with insecticide. But this is becoming increasingly expensive for the region, which is looking for new methods of control. As the region's malarial mosquitoes are zoophilic - they feed predominately on animals and only secondarily on humans - scientists decided to look at treating the cattle instead of people's homes." (BBC Online)

"Australians Now Prepared To Eat GM Food: Survey" - "Australians were now prepared to eat genetically modified foods, a new study has found. A study by Biotechnology Australia (BA) found for the first time there were more people prepared to eat GM foods than those who were not. Of more than 1,000 people surveyed, 50 per cent said they would eat GM foods, 45 per cent would pass on a GM dinner, while five per cent were unsure or did not know.

When asked if they would eat a GM food if it was healthier for them, 60 per cent said yes.

BA public awareness manager Craig Cormick said as people were learning more about GM foods they were overcoming their initial fears. "Just like the microwave oven, as people learn more about GM food, the more they understand it and are not frightened of it," he told AAP. "When we first started (these surveys), just 28 per cent said they would eat GM foods, and it has gradually increased as the technology has changed." (AAP)

"Belgium plans EU biotech food push" - "BRUSSELS, June 7 - Belgian Farm Minister Jaak Gabriels said on Thursday agriculture needed to embrace biotechnology and promised to promote the issue during the Belgian presidency of the European Union. Gabriels, who for six months from July will chair the monthly EU farm ministers meetings, said he would devote an informal ministerial meeting to biotechnology in September." (Reuters)

"Liberal MP pushes caucus for GMO labels" - "OTTAWA - A federal government MP is urging his party to make it clear which food on Canadian store shelves contains genetically modified organisms. Charles Caccia, who represents a riding in Toronto, has drafted a private member's bill to make it mandatory for companies to identify any GMOs in a product's ingredients." (CBC)

"Maize Imports Threaten Country's EU Beef Quota" - "Zimbabwe risks losing the lucrative European Union (EU) beef quota if genetically modified (GM) maize finds its way into the country's livestock industry following the need to import grains because of this year's forecast maize deficit of 150 000 tonnes.

Andrew Meikle, the chairman of the Commercial Grain Producers Association (CGPA), yesterday said his association had already communicated its concerns to the country's Bio Safety Board, which he said was however handicapped by a lack of financial resources to check the presence of genetically modified maize in the imported grain." (Financial Gazette (Harare))

"Protesters damage GM crops in Scotland" - "Protesters have damaged genetically modified crops at a remote farm in Scotland. The vandalism occurred at Roskill Farm, Munlochy on the Black Isle, near Inverness." (Ananova)

"Researchers Say New Techniques Can Reduce Pesticide And Fertilizer Use" - "University of California researchers report that new farming techniques hold great promise to reduce the use of conventional pesticides and fertilizers on seven major crops. Funded through Biologically Integrated Farming Systems grants, the projects involve farmers interested in reducing the use of agricultural chemicals on walnuts, apples, dairies, rice, citrus, strawberries and prunes.

For example, UC officials said 83 percent of participating walnut growers eliminated the use of conventional insecticides after employing pheromones, or sex attractants, to disrupt the mating behavior of codling moths, the major walnut pest, which also attacks apples and pears. Also, three of four of those growers used cover crops in their orchards to help reduce runoff of farm chemicals and dependence on chemical fertilizers.

The work shows promise but must next be proved on a large-scale, commercial basis, said Joe Grant, the UC Cooperative Extension farm adviser in Stockton who is leading the walnut study. Now in its third year, the study involves 12 growers and about 20 orchard blocks." (Knight Ridder/Tribune)

June 7, 2001

"Bush Push for Son of Kyoto is Misguided" - "President Bush plans during next week’s trip to Europe to soothe European leaders who are upset with his rejection of the Kyoto global warming treaty. A proposal offered by Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill may very well achieve the President’s goal.

If so, the President may want to stay in Europe. The O’Neill proposal is bound to upset Americans interested in developing a rational national energy policy." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Livestock may be vaccinated against farting" - "A new anti-farting vaccine for sheep and cattle might cut down on Australia's greenhouse gas emissions." (Ananova)

It's no secret I have little time for the standard of a lot of the reporting found in today's media and this doesn't help. Ananova even have the wrong end of the cow.

For those who may have a burning interest in livestock etiquette, this piece actually refers to: Graziers flock to block burps from Australia's CSIRO, and yes, all the media attention (and CSIRO spinning) is focussed on the sexier "greenhouse gas" angle.

If truth be told, however, the whole point of the research is to improve the feed conversion efficiency of livestock by reducing freeloading fauna and flora of the gut while retaining populations from which the animals derive benefit. It's largely coincidental that a percentage of these freeloaders produce methane, which the animals belch to atmosphere rather than bloating.

Regrettably, in these times of global warming orthodoxy, it's near impossible to get research funding for such manifestly useful research and so, virtually every application must hype any possible "global warming" connection, no matter how tenuous. The downside of the situation being that results have to be written up as though that were the original object of the exercise and the media takes this as "evidence" that the "problem" is being taken seriously - and then writes such fatuous nonsense as cows being vaccinated against farting - to save the world from "global warming" forsooth!

"Bush warming up to climate talks?" - "June 6 — A review commissioned by the White House concludes that the United States should continue to be part of the U.N.-led discussion on a climate change treaty. President Bush had said earlier that the United States would no longer work with the treaty process, but the report provides what one source described as a way for the president to backpedal ahead of a trip to Europe next week." (MSNBC)

The report: "CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE: AN ANALYSIS OF KEY QUESTIONS, a new National Research Council report requested by the Bush administration, examines science's current understanding of global warming. The report will be released during a one-hour telephone news conference beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Thursday, June 7."

Click for the 24 page report (Download in MS-Word format).

The embargo hasn't stopped items like this though: "U.S. Study Warns of Global Warming" - "WASHINGTON - In a study commissioned by the White House, the National Academy of Sciences said Wednesday that global warming "is real and particularly strong within the past 20 years" and said a leading cause is emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels." (AP)

"FAS Says Chinese Innovations Could Reclaim Huge Regions for Farming, Reduce Threat of Climate Change" - "WASHINGTON, June 5 -- A report prepared for the Federation of American Scientists identifies effective, fast-working Chinese methods that can return degraded lands in South China to productive agriculture, reduce dangerous flooding and landslides, and play a key role in blocking climate change.

An area of South China, about the size of California and once covered with dense forests, has been severely damaged and in some place reduced to near desert conditions from forest clearing and poor agricultural practices. "Chinese research that has received little attention even within China, provides key tools for restoring degraded lands to prosperous agriculture while addressing some of the world's most pressing environmental issues," says Dr. Walter Parham, the report's author. "The Chinese would welcome joint projects with U.S. scientists to refine these methods and test them in South China. The results would be directly useful to land restoration efforts in many parts of the world -- including those of the U.S." (U.S. Newswire)

FAS say deforestation's warming the planet but NCAR say forests are bad 'coz they warm the planet:

"Shift from Forest to Crops Lowers Temperatures" - "BOULDER — The large-scale conversion of forests to croplands in the midwestern United States over the last century has led to a measurable cooling of the region's climate, according to Gordon Bonan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The new study, which appears in the June issue of the Journal of Climate, is the first to document the link between regional climate change and a major change in temperate forest cover. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

"Human uses of land, especially clearing of forest for agriculture and reforestation of abandoned farmland, are an important cause of regional climate change," concludes Bonan. The cooling is the result of the changeover of the region to crops, which reflect more sunlight back into space than forests." (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

Actually, these juxtaposed items pretty well describe the state of humanity's understanding of climate forcing - some guess that the planet's warming unusually, some guess it's not, some guess it's not really warming at all and some state with delightful candour, we dunno if any of it's true - which is the truth of the matter.

"Bush to Give Europe Views on Climate, Not Details" - "BEDFORD, Va. - President Bush is likely to give his views on international efforts to fight global warming when he visits Europe next week but is unlikely to offer a detailed alternative to the Kyoto climate treaty he rejected, U.S. officials said Wednesday." (Reuters) | Bush seeks to appease anger in Europe over climate change (Financial Times)

"Greenpeace Prepares Protests for Bush Europe Tour" - "BRUSSELS - President Bush can expect vociferous protests from environmentalists during his visit to Europe next week, the head of Greenpeace said on Wednesday. Gerd Leipold, the newly appointed executive director of the global environmental group, said Bush was an ``extremist politician'' who had committed ``crimes against the environment'' and could expect an angry reception from activists." (Reuters)

World Climate Report Volume 6, Number 19 has been posted (GES)

"COP6 chair acquiesces to Japanese demand" - "BRUSSELS A climate change proposal being drafted this week gives Japan preferential treatment on the use of forests to absorb the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, European and Japanese officials said Tuesday.

Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, who will chair the resumed COP6 session of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn in July, has told Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi that he would do Japan "a favor" to meet Tokyo's demand on the issue, the officials said." (Kyodo)

"The Guns of Vieques A Very Silly, but Very Trendy, Cause" - "You could think of other reasons for putting Al Sharpton in prison – but he was put there on May 23 for illegal actions in a cause concerning the U.S. Navy and Puerto Rico. This has become a very, very trendy political cause.

New York's big Rev. is one of a large cadre of politicians piling onto the bandwagon against the Navy's gunnery facility on the island of Vieques. A group of House members has written to President Bush protesting the Navy's use of Vieques, suggesting that because of the Navy's occasional bombing and shellfire, the island has higher rates of death and cancer than the rest of Puerto Rico." (Michael Fumento, National Review)

"Obesity Tops Smoking As Health Risk" - "LOS ANGELES -- Obese adults have more chronic health problems than smokers, heavy drinkers or the poor, according to a study released Wednesday.

The report by the RAND institute in Santa Monica found that obese people have on average nearly twice the chronic health troubles of people who of normal weight.

``We didn't expect this big difference,'' said Roland Sturm, a RAND economist and lead author of the survey, which was published in the latest edition of the British journal Public Health." (AP)

"Beware the loofah, beware the tea cosy. Most of all, watch out for perilous socks" - "Caution: socks can damage your health. As can tights. And trousers, and beanbags, leaves, tea cosies, place mats, bread bins, clogs and false teeth. Not to mention vegetables.

This is the warning from the Government in its latest compilation of domestic accidents reported by hospitals, which finds that home is where the hurt is.

The data in the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System report shows that in 1999 there were 10,773 cases of people treated in hospital for accidents "caused by" socks and tights, 5,945 caused by trousers, 1,317 by beanbags, 1,171 by leaves, 787 by sponges and loofahs, and 37 by tea cosies. The numbers were similarly worrying for many other household objects ­ 933 people had to attend accident and emergency departments after unscheduled and injurious encounters with false teeth." (Independent) | The danger that lurks on your kitchen table (Telegraph) | Danger! don't get too cosy with that teapot (The Times)

"The Bug That Ate the Burger" - "E. Coli's Twisted Tale of Science in the Courtroom and Politics in the Lab" (STATS)

Data dredging funds required: "Cancer cluster mysteries need focused research" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 06 - Federal and academic investigators who hunt the elusive causes of cancer clusters across the country told lawmakers Tuesday that researchers need better coordination of health data collection in counties and states in order accomplish their mission.

While most cancer clusters can be blamed on smoking, poor diet, and other lifestyle factors, the public remains concerned that elevated cancer rates in their communities could come from pollution in the air, water and soil. Recent movies depicting environmental pollution and a link to cancer--including the hit "Erin Brockovich"--have helped stoke public fears." (Reuters Health)

"Lawmakers eye incentive for cars that save on fuel" - "State lawmakers hoping to steer Massachusetts motorists away from gasoline-guzzling SUVs yesterday promoted several pieces of legislation that would eliminate sales taxes on electric and hybrid-fueled vehicles. If passed, the bills would make Massachusetts just the second state, after Arizona, to give such financial incentives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Unlike Arizona's approach, one bill being weighed at the State House could double to 10 percent the sales tax on the biggest gas guzzlers." (Boston Globe)

"Report: U.S. nuke storage plan is safe" - "One of the issues the new U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle, may find on his plate almost immediately is the question of what to do with nuclear waste. Just last week, Daschle went on record against the underground nuclear waste repository under construction for more than a decade at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Critics say there are questions about the site's safety and reliability.

But on Wednesday, the day Daschle became the Senate's most powerful member, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences has released a report urging speedy, international action on nuclear waste disposal, including underground storage.

The scientists -- from seven nations -- say the problem of nuclear waste disposal isn't a problem at all from a scientific standpoint. The problem, they say, is that many people view nuclear waste management to be a purely technical issue. It's a message the scientists say they hear all the time.

The report asserts that current methods of nuclear waste disposal are safe and that now is the time to move ahead." (CNN)

"New Requirements for Nuclear Waste Site in Nevada" - "WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration agreed to tougher health protection requirements for a proposed nuclear waste site in Nevada, ignoring pleas from the nuclear industry and Republican allies in Congress.

The requirements announced by the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday would limit radiation exposure from the Yucca Mountain site to no more than 15 millirems a year for people 11 miles away, including no more than 4 millirems from groundwater.

A millirem is a measurement of the biological effects of radiation on human tissue. According to the EPA, the standard would mean a person living 11 miles from the waste site would absorb every year a little less radiation than a person would get from two roundtrip transcontinental airline flights.

By comparison, background radiation exposes people to about 360 millirems of radiation annually. Three chest X-rays expose a person to about 18 millirem, the agency said." (AP)

"Russian parliament approves nuclear waste imports" - "MOSCOW - Russia's lower house of Parliament has approved a proposal that would permit the import of other countries' nuclear waste for reprocessing. There was little debate on the issue. Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry says it could earn as much as $20 billion US by importing thousands of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel over 10 years." (CBC) | Analysis: Russia's nuclear waste plan (BBC Online)

"Democrats seek energy task force hearing" - "WASHINGTON — Democrats on a House committee urged Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., to look into Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, which met privately with major Republican donors in formulating the Bush administration's energy policy.

California Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the Government Reform Committee, asked chairman Burton to conduct a congressional hearing on what took place at the Cheney group's secret meetings and the identities of all participants." (AP)

"UPDATE - New US coal plants to power 20 million homes" - "NEW YORK - After a decade in which almost no coal-fired power plants were built in the United States, suddenly 34 coal plants are being planned across the country to meet increasing power needs, analysts said this week.

"New coal-fired power generation will play a critical role in solving the nation's electricity needs in the coming decades," said Merrill Lynch analyst Daniel Roling.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, looking to avoid the growth of California-style rolling brownouts, has called for 1,300 new power plants over the next 20 years to meet booming electricity demand." (Reuters)

"Congress told cancer vaccines depend on cash flow" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 06 - Experimental vaccines against cancer are showing promise in the laboratory, but their ultimate success depends on healthy government funding of basic research, a leading researcher told members of Congress and staffers Wednesday." (Reuters Health)

"Antibiotics for asthma" - "BACTERIA might be to blame for many cases of asthma. Researchers in Finland and the US have found evidence that a bacterial protein can trigger the disease, while another American study has shown antibiotics can help sufferers. Everything from pollution to excessive hygiene has been blamed for the dramatic rise in asthma around the world. But a growing number of studies suggest that Chlamydia pneumoniae, a common cause of lung infections, is involved in at least some cases." (media release)

"Rx for PETA: decontamination" - "Bruce Friedrich may have an interesting welcoming party when he returns from Europe in October to attend Wisconsin's World Dairy Expo. After People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' "vegan coordinator" declared a few weeks ago that Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) would be "welcome in this country" for its "positive effects on animals," he jetted off to Europe for the summer. Now Wisconsin congressman Mark Green wants the USDA to "decontaminate" Friedrich before he is allowed to re-enter the United States for the dairy convention. "Based on his comments," said Rep. Green, "Mr. Friedrich's re-entry to our country must be closely monitored." (GuestChoice.com)

"Fields of opportunity? Biocrops can 'grow' medicines cheaply, plentifully - and controversially" - "OMAHA, Neb. - Stepping over the stubble of last year's cornstalks, Barry Wiggins used a measuring wheel to pace off an exact acre of farmland. He marked the plot with orange flags, then used a hand-held gizmo to take a satellite reading of its precise location on Earth. Only then did Wiggins rip open a bag of seed corn and pour it into the planting equipment that sat behind his tractor.

When the corn sprouts here, it will not look like anything special. But the federal government is requiring unusual measures to mark this field because this corn is not intended for anyone's dinner plate. Instead, it has been genetically engineered to produce a pharmaceutical: a protein being tested as a vaccine for hepatitis B." (Seattle Times)

"US corn groups aim to ease biotech fears in Europe" - "WASHINGTON — As one food safety concern subsides with the containment of foot-and-mouth disease in Europe, a delegation of U.S. grain growers will meet with European Union officials next week to calm consumer fears over genetically modified crops.

Representatives from the National Corn Growers Association and U.S. Grains Council travel to Europe on Sunday as EU officials prepare to finalize a new policy on biotech foods that would require new labeling and "traceability" rules." (Reuters)

"Environmentalists try to block approval of genetically modified salmon" - "MONDARIZ, Spain -- Environmental campaigners warned Tuesday that introducing genetically engineered fish into Atlantic Ocean salmon farms will cause irreversible damage to the species. However, supporters of genetically modified fish-farming said it would allow increased production while relieving the pressure on wild stocks of Atlantic salmon.

The dispute over genetically engineered, or transgenic, salmon flared as the 18th annual meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO) got underway with government representatives from Canada, the United States, Russia and the European Union. The transgenic salmon issue is expected to be handled formally later during the five-day meeting at the northwestern Spanish spa resort of Mondariz." (CP)

"China Enacts Genetic Product Rules" - "BEIJING - China has enacted new regulations on producing and using genetically modified farm products, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday. Rules approved May 23 by Premier Zhu Rongji are designed to protect the environment and human health while promoting research, Xinhua said. China has enthusiastically pursued genetically modified products in its drive to be self-sufficient in food supplies for its 1.26 billion people. The country has not seen the level of heated debate that has raged in Europe and elsewhere over their safety." (AP)

June 6, 2001

"BSE 'cross-infection' risk" - "Meat sold for human consumption could be infected with BSE because of accidental cross-contamination at slaughterhouses, warns a group of leading scientists. Experts are calling for urgent action to investigate the theoretical risk of UK abattoirs being contaminated with mad cow disease." (BBC Online) | Weak BSE rules 'leave food chain still at risk' (Telegraph) | BSE beef 'may still be reaching markets' (The Times)

Scare campaign? Nah... "Fowl play" - "In Oxford's covered market, organic chickens are on sale at £6.80 per kg. - around £11.00 for an average sized bird. Good quality free range chickens are also on sale at £3.06 per kg. - just over £5 for the same family meal." (Social Issues Research Centre)

"Full-body scans bring warning" - "WASHINGTON -- Food and Drug Administration officials are worried that the growing popularity of full-body scans for early health screening might be exposing thousands of Americans to unnecessary and potentially dangerous radiation." (Bergen County Record)

"Heavy consumption of tainted fish curbs adult learning and memory" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — PCB-laden fish from Lake Michigan affect not only young children but also adults over age 49, researchers say. Many of the former big eaters of sport-caught fish now have high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in their blood and problems with learning and memory.

Schantz previously reported that high levels of PCBs in adult fish-eaters resulted in barely a hint of problems with fine motor skills such as dexterity and hand steadiness. In the latest work, researchers also did not find statistically significant problems with many other cognitive abilities, such as executive function (planning and attention) and visual-spatial function." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) | Tainted fish 'harm anglers' brains' (BBC Online)

"'Anti-chemotherapy' ad rapped" - "An advert suggesting chemotherapy was "ineffective" in prolonging the lives of cancer patients has been criticised by the advertising watchdog. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the advert by the Cancer Prevention Research Trust (CPRT) was wrong to make the claim." (BBC Online)

"And the Oscar for best Hollywood Nanny goes to…" - "Long-time anti-tobacco zealot Stanton Glantz is raising a stink in California about the degree to which big-budget Hollywood movies depict characters smoking. He's so certain that the presence of a cigarette on-screen signifies some sort of dirty shenanigans that he calmly tosses around terms like "rackets" and "payola." Could it be that movies show people smoking because some people in real life choose to smoke? Glantz doesn't think so, and demands that film producers pay for anti-tobacco commercials to run in theatres before any movie showing a lit cigarette. He also wants filmed tobacco use to be an instant qualifier for an "R" rating. In an era when activists are suing OSHA to ban all workplace smoking nationwide, and even some New York City neighborhoods are banning outdoor smoking (registration required), he might just get what he wants." (GuestChoice.com)

"Germans may ban smoking while driving" - "German drivers may be banned from smoking behind the wheel just months after talking on mobile phones while on the road was declared 'verboten'. Transport experts from all political parties have already signalled their support for a suggested law to stop people smoking while driving. They say it would prevent accidents and save lives. Manfred Heise, MP for the conservative CDU opposition party, said: "Smoking while driving distracts the driver just as talking on a mobile phone does. It has to be banned." (Ananova)

"Cap could stop drowsy drivers drifting" - "SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Australian researchers have developed a "cap" to be worn by drivers. The headwear reads brainwaves and warns motorists when they're about to fall asleep." (CBC)

"Windsor hosts forum featuring hydrogen as alternate fuel" - "WINDSOR, Ont. -- The answer to the world's dwindling oil supply may be parked in this southwestern Ontario city: a pollution-free Ford Taurus that's fueled by hydrogen. Ford's experimental P2000 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle is the most cutting-edge vehicle on display at this week's international forum on advanced vehicle technologies and alternative fuels." (CP)

And all this wonderful free-hydrogen is coming from... ?

"Poll: Americans Want Energy Cake, Eat It Too" The Washington Post reports in its front page today that according to a new Post-ABC News poll, public support for President Bush has fallen in recent weeks, led by eroding confidence in his energy and environmental policies as well as growing concern over the direction that Bush and the Republican Party are leading the country. The president's overall job approval rating stands at 55 percent, down 8 percentage points since late April.

In "Why Policymakers Should Ignore Public Opinion Polls," author Robert Weissberg, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, argues that "public opinion polling measures the wishes and preferences of respondents, neither of which reflect the costs or risks associated with a policy." As a result, polls are useless to policymakers who must pay attention to tradeoffs among values, second-best possibilities and unexpected risks. And since "improvements would make the product (poll results) too expensive or too difficult to obtain from weary respondents," policymakers should simply ignore the polls and focus on their own judgment, Weissberg says." (Cato Institute)

Henry Payne's comment (Detroit News)

"Energy Deal Between Canada, U.S. Could Increase Greenhouse Gases" - "TORONTO, Canada, June 5, 2001 - Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will rise a staggering 44 percent above targets set out in the Kyoto Protocol if Ottawa increases oil and gas production to meet mounting U.S. demands, says a new report from the David Suzuki Foundation. The report offers additional ammunition to critics who charge that U.S. energy plans will increase the already heavy burden of greenhouse gases produced by developed countries." (ENS)

"The Unstable Sands of Climatic Uncertainty" - "How likely is it that the world will get 6°C hotter by 2100?  This is the "burning" question Stephen H. Schneider asks in a Commentary article in the 3 May 2001 issue of Nature.  His inspiration for the interrogative is the most recent assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts a mean global warming somewhere in the range of 1.4-5.8°C between now and 2100, and which does so with the straight-faced assurance that any degree of warming within this range "should be considered equally sound." | A Step Change in Baltic Sea Ice Extent | Solar Forcing of Drought in Mexico | Woody Plants Invading Alaskan Arctic Tundra (co2science.org)

"Vulnerable Caribbean Nations Prepare for Global Warming" - "KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 4, 2001 - Global warming is predicted to hit the Caribbean islands with natural disasters of increasing number and severity, regional climate change experts are warning. Governments and inter-governmental agencies, community groups and scientists are mobilizing to deal with the danger." (ENS)

"Global Warming Makes Us Colder" - "During a typical English summer, when the rain is lashing against the windows with terrifying ferociousness, it's hard not to wish for the rapid onset of global warming. But if you thought it would bring warmer temperatures to this green and sometimes pleasant land, think again say climate scientists." (Sky News)

"How the North is getting burned" - "At first, the big melt confused the people of Sachs Harbour, who found themselves suddenly catching salmon and spotting bizarre bird species from the south. But now they're worried -- the rising temperatures are wreaking havoc with the environment and with their way of life." (Globe and Mail)

"Italy's New Government May Side with Bush on Climate" - "ROME, Italy, June 5, 2001 - Italy will back a strong European Union statement condemning American climate policy later this week despite having earlier attempted to water down the wording, Environment Minister Willer Bordon said yesterday. The statement will be the last from the environment council before negotiations on the Kyoto climate protocol resume in Bonn, Germany in July." (ENS)

"Bush Charts Global Warming Course" - "WASHINGTON - President Bush met with members of his Cabinet on Tuesday to chart a new course on global warming that focuses largely on voluntary measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other sources.

There was no discussion of mandatory measures, a senior administration official said.

When he meets with European Union leaders in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 14-15, Bush hopes to have in hand an alternative to the 1997 Kyoto global-warming agreement that he denounced in March, the official said." (AP) | Bush warming up to climate talks? (MSNBC)

"Canada's stance on pollution debunked" - "OTTAWA -- Canada's negotiating position in international climate-change talks is based on questionable science, two new studies say.

The findings give Canada's critics a fresh club to hit the federal government with. Even before the publication of the studies, environmentalists had fingered Canada as one of the leaders of a cabal of countries who they say aim to weaken the 1997 Kyoto accord on global warming." (Globe and Mail)

"Bush Will Not Overturn Clinton Marine Protections" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 4, 2001 - The Bush administration has decided to retain an executive order passed by former President Bill Clinton, which authorized a new nationwide system of marine conservation areas. The announcement comes as President George W. Bush works to win over skeptical environmentalists amid a storm of criticism of his environmental policies." (ENS)

From command and control central: "World's Sprawling Cities Unmanageable, UN Habitat Warns" - "NEW YORK, New York, June 4, 2001 - Sprawling in every direction, the world's metropolitan areas are dangerously unmanageable, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) warned today during the launch of its first ever report on "The State of the World's Cities." The existing institutions governing the administration of cities are not adequate to control today's sprawling urban centers, the UN agency says." (ENS)

"The paradigm warrior in pursuit of environmental justice" - "She's into redefining paradigms. Picketing the World Bank office in New Delhi, educating tribal groups and farmers in rural India, lecturing multinationals, are her preferred weapons. That’s Vandana Shiva, the celebrated eco-feminist, for you. Author of eleven books, winner of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award—or the “alternative Nobel”—and guest speaker at numerous universities on issues such as eco-feminism, agricultural ecology, biotechnology, intellectual property rights and globalisation (she claims all of them fit neatly under the umbrella of environmental justice) is no stranger to awards.

Which is probably why she takes the latest accolade—Asiaweek magazine has recently ranked Ms Shiva as the fifth most powerful communicator in Asia—in her stride.

Interestingly, this “powerful communicator” is often accused of distorting facts. Jairam Ramesh, member of the Congress party says, “She’s so scholarly and articulate, so of course she’s a good communicator. But unfortunately, with her, any resemblance to facts is totally coincidental. She’s been proven wrong many, many times. In fact, her misinformed convictions make her dangerous”.

A senior member of the Bharatiya Janata Party concurs. The gentleman, who had occasion to participate in a debate with her, was left ruing the encounter as a complete waste of time. “Her facts were just wrong. I spent most of my time correcting them instead of debating with her”.

Fellow NGO activist Pradeep S Mehta of the Centre for International Trade, Economics and Environment (CITEE), also wonders about her communication abilities. “Although she can communicate well, she’s been able to get through to only those who remain in tight compartments. She’ll not be able to convert those who are in the know. Moreover, she doesn’t like to enter into a debate on a serious platform.” (Financial Express)

"Green guru in call for compulsory GM studies" - "A NOBEL Peace prize winner has called for the introduction of compulsory biology studies among wealthy urban nations to improve understanding of food and agricultural issues.

Dr Norman Borlaug, often described as the father of the "green revolution" said that this understanding would help counter the irrational fears stirred up by zealots against genetic modification techniques.

"The intensity of attacks against GMOs by certain groups is unprecedented and, in certain cases, even surprising given the potential environmental benefits that such technology can bring in reducing the use of crop protection chemicals," he said." (The Scotsman)

"Genetically modified trees, good news for paper industry" - "Traditionally the raw material of the pulp and paper industry depends on the natural forest where trees which are more than 50 years old are felled. As it is increasingly seen as unacceptable to hew such trees, Thai paper manufacturer Advance Agro Public Company Ltd has found a solution.

The company uses trees which are only five years` old, the youngest in the world. Currently major producers of pulp and paper such as Brazil use seven-year-old trees while Sweden and Finland still use 40-year-old trees. ``We are the first in the world to discover this and we did it by making the best use of Thailand's natural geography and climate combined with the agricultural skills of the Thai people,`` said deputy managing director Paisan Srisa-an during a media tour of the company's plant recently.

The company had conducted a 20 year research which culminated in the use of genetically modified Eucalyptus trees." (New Straits Times)

"Monsanto Forms Committee to Guide Introduction of Biotech Wheat Products" - "Monsanto has formed a wheat industry advisory committee to provide advice and counsel the company on how best to bring forward biotechnology products in wheat. The committee comprises a cross section of wheat industry participants from seed trade and farming through grain handling and exports to flour milling and baking." (AgWeb.com)

"U.S. Studying Safety of Animal Clones As Food" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. regulators said on Tuesday they have urged companies that clone livestock to apply for their permission before they put the animals' meat or milk into the food supply. The Food and Drug Administration is developing policy guidelines on whether cloned animals that are not genetically modified should be tightly regulated like drugs. The agency plans to issue its position after the National Academy of Sciences completes a report assessing if cloned animals pose any hazards to animals, human health or the environment. The report is due out early next year." (Reuters)

"Dupont Says Patented Corn Not Mexican" - "MEXICO CITY - The Mexican subsidiary of international chemicals giant Dupont on the weekend denied that a variety of yellow corn the company recently patented in Germany exists naturally in Mexico, as Mexican farmers and authorities claim, Mexico City daily Reforma reported.

Dupont Mexico spokesman Alvaro Peon Zapata said the company had conducted exhaustive research to prove that corn exhibiting the characteristics of its Optimum HOC/HO variety does not occur naturally in Mexico." (iMexNews)

June 5, 2001

"Thinking 'drains the brain'" - "Scientists have come up with proof that too much thinking can be exhausting. The impact of straining the grey matter is likely to be more pronounced in older people. A team from the University of Illinois in the US carried out research on rats. They found that concentration drains glucose from a key part of the brain in the animals." (BBC Online)

Great! Now we can have a Federally-mandated Thinking Limit (been in force at the EPA for years).

"Girls' iron deficiency, low math scores linked" - "CHICAGO (June 4, 2001 06:06 p.m. EDT) - New research linking even mild iron deficiency with low test scores may help explain why teen-age girls tend to do worse than boys in math. The study found that compared with children with normal iron levels, iron-deficient youngsters were more than twice as likely to score below average on a standardized math test. The increased risk was found even in iron-deficient children who had not developed anemia. The difference in performance was most striking in adolescent girls, who also had the highest prevalence of iron deficiency." (AP)

"How Britain spawned a global epidemic" - "Advised in 1990 to ban certain exports, the U.K. decided to risk being seen as the nation that gave mad-cow disease to the world.

Indeed, in recent months it has become clear that BSE has spread to other European countries that imported the U.K. meat and bone meal for pig and poultry feed. It appears some farmers in those nations either deliberately fed the MBM to cows, or there was unintentional "cross contamination" of cow feed with poultry and pig feed containing the MBM.

As well, United Nations agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization have warned that an unknown quantity of the beef byproducts exported from the U.K. to Europe were then repackaged, relabelled and shipped to potentially dozens of other countries worldwide." (Ottawa Citizen)

Perhaps, if BSE is really caused by consumption of infected feed. Thus far, feeding experiments attempting to infect cattle have not been successful and prion contamination merely the most popular hypothesis.

"US high court won't review rule on PCB disposal" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 04 - The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to review the federal Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) final rule adopted in 1998 on the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

PCBs, which have been used for cooling and lubricating transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment, are considered by the EPA to be "highly likely to pose a risk of cancer to humans."

The high court without comment or dissent rejected an appeal by a group representing about 100 electric utilities; a unit of Entergy Corp.; Mississippi Power Co., a unit of Southern Co.; a unit of American Electric Power Co. Inc.; and General Electric Co." (Reuters)

"Free-Market Environmentalists Gaining Stature" - "In 1983, Terry L. Anderson, an economist with a strong libertarian bent, was invited to Washington to lecture the Reagan administration's Interior Department on the virtues of free-market environmentalism.

The session should have been friendly, because Anderson and the new Reagan team agreed on the need to cut red tape to encourage development in the West. But Anderson went much further, arguing that government subsidies and other traditional environmental policies were far less effective in managing natural resources and the environment than market forces and the self-interest of private land owners.

When Anderson criticized subsidies for Western water projects as wasteful and inefficient, Robert N. Broadbent, director of the Bureau of Reclamation, exploded: "I've had enough of you kiddie car economists telling us how to run this place."

For years, Anderson and his acolytes operated on the fringes of the environmental policy debate, advancing proposals that were rejected out of hand by Republicans, Democrats and mainstream environmental groups. But two decades after the first Reagan administration, they are in the vanguard of a land management movement that is gaining acceptance in the West and is being used as a model by Bush administration officials looking for ways to shift power and regulatory responsibilities back to the states." (Washington Post)

"Tomboy link to mother's hormone" - "A mother's testosterone levels can decide whether they are more likely to have a tomboy. Scientists have found that women with higher than average levels of the male hormone testosterone are more to have girls who are interested in Scalectrix and toy trucks than Barbie dolls and make-up." (BBC Online)

"Study: Low hormone doses work as well as higher ones" - "TRENTON, N.J. (June 4, 2001 08:25 p.m. EDT) - A major study funded by the top seller of a hormone therapy for menopause reveals low doses of estrogen and progestin worked just as well as higher doses, with fewer side effects." (AP)

"Licorice-eating moms-to-be may give birth earlier" - "NEW YORK, Jun 04 - Scientists in Finland have reported that pregnant women who eat large amounts of licorice may be at increased risk of delivering their baby early. Women who consumed at least 2-1/2 packages containing 100 grams of black licorice candy each were more than twice as likely to deliver their baby before 38 weeks--about 2.5 days earlier compared with women who ate little or no licorice." (Reuters Health)

It surprises anyone that consumption of 250gms (about 9oz) of black licorice produces some uh... effect?

"Pets 'double children's risk of asthma attacks'" - "Dogs, cats and other household pets can more than double the chance of children suffering asthma, paediatricians said yesterday. Research in America showed that clearing the house of pets, or other triggers for the disease, could cut asthma rates among children aged six to 17 by 45 per cent." (Independent)

At least, that's the theory in the 1st week of June. Of course, in the last week of May... Keeping pets 'prevents allergies' (BBC Online)

"Child's snoring may undermine intellectual growth" - "NEW YORK, Jun 04 - Young children with snoring problems may have academic difficulties into their teens, even after the snoring has stopped, study findings suggest.

The report in the June issue of Pediatrics found that middle-school students ranked in the bottom quarter of their class were nearly three times more likely to have suffered from loud and frequent snoring during early childhood than those in the top quarter of their class. Further, students ranked lower in their class were more than three times more likely to have undergone a surgical procedure known as a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy in an attempt to cure their snoring." (Reuters Health)

"Osteoporosis 'runs in families'" - "Brothers and sisters of people with the crippling bone disease osteoporosis are much more likely to suffer from the disease themselves. Research has shown that siblings of osteoporosis suffers are six times more likely to have a low bone density than the general population." (BBC Online)

So poor/inadequate nutrition may affect all the children in a family? Nah! Must be genetic.

"Vibrators withdrawn over cancer danger" - "Danish sex shops have been ordered to take many vibrators off their shelves over a cancer risk." (Ananova)

Nope. I haven't a thing to say.

"Ice crest plunges from Alpine peak" - "ROME - The ice and snow crest that formed on top of the Gran Zebru' mountain in the Italian Alps over the last century broke off overnight and plunged more than 2,600 feet, but no one was injured, a mountaineer said Monday.

The 12,759-foot Gran Zebru' is part of the Ortles mountain range near the Swiss and Austrian border. Its giant white cap formed by snow drifts made it one of the more challenging Alpine peaks for climbers.

Experts said the crest, made of hundreds of cubic meters of ice and snow, gave way under its own weight, a phenomenon that was relatively rare as it only happened every 100 to 150 years." (AFP)

What? No claims of "global warming" being the cause? Give 'em time I s'pose.

"The dirt on organics" - "LOS ANGELES -- Call it the tomato gap. In cities across North America, the grocery-shopping experience has segregated into twin solitudes of produce -- an organic-food elite and an untouchable class of plain old vegetable buyers. Now, suddenly, some researchers are arguing that the gap is meaningless, and that most North American veggies today can lay roughly equal claim to being "health food." (Globe and Mail)

"Consumers sceptical about GM feedback" - "Despite the scheduled introduction of GM food labelling later this year, Australians still don't consider themselves well informed about genetically modified food, a survey has found. Only 13.1 per cent of people interviewed in April thought consumers had been kept informed about the pros and cons of GM food, according to the ACNielsen survey. "Despite initiatives by the federal government to publish information on GM food and to introduce GM food labelling (in December), it is clear consumers still have misgivings on the subject," marketing manager Anton van den Bergs said.

According to the survey, consumers believe GM foods have not been around long enough to reveal long term side effects. It also found overwhelming support for mandatory labelling of GM foods, and an increase in the number of consumers willing to pay extra for GM-free products. On the other hand there was also an increase in the number of consumers who would be happy to eat GM foods." (AAP)

"Bill to criminalize crop tampering gains important sponsor" - "ALBANY, N.Y. - A bill creating a new crime in New York of vandalizing crops has gained an important sponsor in the state Assembly.

Assemblyman William Magee, chairman of the Assembly`s agriculture committee, said he has agreed to carry the measure. It was first introduced by state Sen. Carl Marcellino, a Nassau County Republican, in response to a July 2000 attack at an agricultural research field on Long Island in which vandals trampled what they believed to be genetically engineered corn.

``What you`ve done is destroy somebody`s life work and inhibited their ability to do their research,`` Marcellino said. ``The authorities look at that and say, `It`s corn, it`s two stalks of corn.` But it may be somebody`s life work. How do you measure the value of that?``

Currently, such acts are classified as misdemeanor criminal mischief. The Marcellino-Magee bill would create a new crime of criminal destruction of a field crop grown for personal, commercial or research purposes.

In the third degree, the new crime would be a Class E felony with possible imprisonment of up to four years in prison. If the value of the damage exceeds $10,000, the crime would become a Class D felony and violators could get up to seven years in prison." (AP)

"WA ponders GM crop ban" - "THE State Government may classify genetically modified crops in the same way as dangerous and banned plants to keep them out. This would stop farmers from growing GM plants in WA, stop the sale of GM seed and force landholders with GM plants on their properties to rip them out. Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said he was considering the drastic measure as a way of stopping the release of GM crops in WA. This could happen as soon as next year." (West Australian)

June 4, 2001

"Greenpeace accuses Govt of ignoring environment 'warning signs'" - "An international Greenpeace activist has accused the Australian Government of ignoring serious environmental dangers. Bill Hare says people are not being told about the potential risks associated with climate change, because the Government does not want to alarm the community." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Well gee! The Australian Gummint don't promote the `peas' ridiculous climate hysteria. Imagine that...

"Trees and warming" - "THE COAL and power-generating companies that produce much of the carbon dioxide contributing to global warming have long maintained that instead of putting limits on them, the world should simply grow more trees. The trees, they said, would act as carbon sinks, growing faster and absorbing more carbon dioxide as power plants spewed more of it into the atmosphere." (Boston Globe hand-wringing editorial)

"Climate change may spark more monster forest fires" - "EDMONTON - Changing climate conditions indicate the monster blaze that wiped out the hamlet of Chisholm this week may be a sign of bigger and more devastating fires to come, according to a Canadian Forest Service scientist." (Edmonton Journal)

Uh-huh... "Children most at risk from climate change, report says" - "OTTAWA -- Many parents don't know it, but their children stand to suffer most from the chaotic weather caused by climate change, a report released yesterday said. From last winter's blizzards in Newfoundland to the current drought in Alberta, the nation's weather is changing and parents have to adapt, according to the Canadian Institute of Child Health." (Globe and Mail)

The Week That Was June 2, 2001 brought to you by SEPP has been posted

"Kyoto Alternative to Rely on Voluntary Cuts" - "Administration officials preparing an alternative to the 1997 global warming agreement that President Bush disavowed in March are focusing on voluntary measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- an approach unacceptable to most U.S. allies in Europe and Japan." (Washington Post)

"New Focus on an Old Nuclear Problem" - "PEACH BOTTOM, Pa., June 1 — The nuclear plant here split its first atom in December 1973. Both halves are still here. So is all the other fuel that the twin Peach Bottom reactors have used in almost three decades of making electricity. The same is true at more than 120 other nuclear power plants around the country, even though nearly 20 years ago their owners signed a contract with the federal government for the Department of Energy to take the fuel to Nevada for burial, beginning in January 1998." (New York Times)

"Reprocessing Used Fuel" - "WASHINGTON, June 3 — Is it really waste? For years, nuclear engineers have argued that used fuel should be "reprocessed" to extract the uranium fuel that was not consumed and the plutonium that was produced in the reactor." (New York Times)

"UPDATE - Japan power utility bows to nuclear 'no' vote" - "TOKYO - Buckling under public pressure, Japan's largest power utility said on Friday it would postpone loading a controversial nuclear fuel at a plant in the country's rural north.

Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc's (TEPCO) plans were derailed after residents in nearby Kariwa village opposed the loading of MOX fuel at the nuclear plant, the world's largest and which supplies the capital with a fifth of its power. "In view of the request that we received, we decided not to load MOX fuel during the current maintenance period," TEPCO said in a statement, referring to a formal request for a postponment from local authorities following a weekend referendum." (Reuters)

GAM kicks off its doom and gloom series: "Death wish" - "The human race looks like it's going the way of the dinosaurs: We're driving ourselves to extinction. Starting today, in a dramatic series of articles, Globe and Mail reporter ALANNA MITCHELL goes to the world's environmental disaster zones to find out just how desperate the situation is - and what might save us from ourselves." (Globe and Mail)

"Environmentalism, Animal Rights Activism, and Eco-Nazism" - "Who are less like the Nazis— agronomists and genetic engineers, or those who would straightjacket such sciences?" (Thomas R DeGregori, ACSH)

"THE DEADLY CHEMICALS IN ORGANIC FOOD" - "IF you buy organic food because you think it's free of the cancer-causing pesticides used on other farms, think again. "Organic" farmers routinely spray their crops with naturally occurring pesticides - and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified pyrethrum, a top organic pesticide, as a "likely human carcinogen."

Feeling paranoid yet? Well, in fact, the EPA made that call in secret, almost two years ago! The revelation about pyrethrum, with other recent findings, calls into question the superiority of organic farming.

For decades, activists have claimed that organic food is healthier and kinder to the environment than "chemically farmed" food. Organic farmers, for example, didn't use synthetic pesticides.

What most people don't realize - and activists try to hide - is that organic farmers are allowed to use a wide array of natural chemicals as pest killers. Moreover, these natural poisons pose the same theoretical (but remote) dangers as the synthetic pesticides so hated by organic devotees." (Alex Avery, New York Post)

"Variety in diet could be a factor in obesity problem in the U.S., according to a review of the research" - "WASHINGTON — Eating a limited variety at mealtime may be a good way to control weight, according to a new study that reviews the research on diet, food intake and repercussions to body composition. This study appearing in the current issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), demonstrates that being exposed to a variety of foods may not be the spice of life when trying to lose weight." (American Psychological Association) | Too much variety 'makes you fat' (BBC Online)

Gosh, if your food is boring you're less likely to overindulge... how do they derive such startling observations?

"Sedentary death syndrome? Believe It" - "WASHINGTON - Apparently being fat and out of shape has a new name - sedentary death syndrome. A professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia said he invented the term to drive home his point that, in the United States, even the Grim Reaper is flabby. Frank W. Booth hopes to use the coinage, which he shortens to SeDS, to make the public and the federal government pay more attention and spend more money on getting the public to be more active." (AP)

Doubtless, SIDS charities will be delighted to have copycat competition trying for health dollars with a sound-alike pleading term.

Speculative report: "Peanut warning for eczema sufferers" - "Scientists are warning that peanuts and peanut oils may cause allergies in children with eczema. They found that 90% of children with peanut allergies had previously had eczema. Peanut allergy can cause anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. The link between the two conditions has not yet been confirmed, but scientists have speculated that exposing broken skin to peanuts or peanut oils could spark off the allergy." (BBC Online)

Note that the research has not even been released yet.

From the Toil Association: "Fears over drugs in poultry" - "The Soil Association is warning that the level of potentially damaging drug residues in food may be higher than government figures suggest. In a report, the organisation, which advocates organic farming, raises concerns over the effect residues found in chicken and eggs may have on humans." (BBC Online)

"Petrol blend cancer fears" - "PETROL containing a banned chemical suspected of causing cancer may soon be allowed for sale at independent service stations. The foul-smelling additive MTBE has been blamed for contaminating ground water supplies overseas. Several American states have banned its use in petrol amid evidence it is carcinogenic in animals. But Federal Cabinet is considering allowing imported petrol to contain MTBE in a bid to keep pump prices down." (Herald Sun)

"Skin cancer cases surge" - "Skin cancer is one of the most rapidly increasing forms of cancer in England and Wales, with more than 5,700 new cases each year. Scientists blame an increase in foreign summer holidays, combined with poor use of sunscreen, for the enormous rise." (BBC Online) | Skimpy clothes blamed for rise in skin cancer (Independent)

"Challenge Planned to Ashcroft's Delay of Gun Control Rule" - "Gun control advocates are growing increasingly concerned that a decision by Attorney General John Ashcroft to delay putting into effect a Clinton administration regulation involving background checks of handgun buyers may be intended to weaken the program.

One group, the Violence Policy Center in Washington, is so troubled by the delay that it is scheduled to file a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Washington on Monday against Mr. Ashcroft, the Bush administration's leader on gun policy. The suit contends that the delay is a violation of federal law and an effort by Mr. Ashcroft to repeal the Clinton administration regulation and replace it with a rule that would threaten the background-check system created by the Brady Law." (New York Times)

"DuPont turns into a green crusader" - "Polyesters made from corn starch ... computers and electronics powered by agricultural feedstock ... a non-polluting chemical industry that uses renewable resources?

Call Dr Paul Tebo an optimist. He sees a future where a giant company like DuPont is accepted as a crusading global environmentalist - able to use advances in biotechnology to create new safe products, eliminate waste, drastically curb energy demands and stop depleting the world's precious resources." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Ban on pig organ research is lifted" - "A voluntary freeze on research into using pig organs for human transplants is expected to be lifted by the European Commission, following appeals from its scientific advisers. Despite widespread public fears about the risks and ethics of pig organ transplants, European commissioners are under pressure to agree to a new European Union-funded programme of research into the safety of the technique later this year." (Independent)

"Alter Genes, Risk an Ecosystem?" - "...The genome of an organism is a complex and dynamic environment unto itself. Any analysis of how genetically altered organisms will affect the environment must take into account all the ways in which the traditional "outside" environment interacts with the newly recognized and equally complex "internal" genetic environment, some scientists suggest." (Washington Post)

I tried to consult various experts on this but the astrology line had a recorded message saying no one was going to call and the local fortune teller was down the pawn shop, having had a bad day at the track...

"US presses EU for changes in crop rules" - "WASHINGTON - The United States expressed concern on Friday about the European Union's plan to require new labeling and "traceability" rules for genetically modified crops, EU officials said at their weekly briefing." (Reuters)

"GM plan 'a licence to contaminate'" - "Food containing genetically modified ingredients banned in Britain will go on sale here with a GM-free label under controversial proposals to be presented this week by the European Commission. The plan, which follows lobbying from America, one of the world's biggest producers of GM crops, would allow traces of untested products to contaminate food claiming to be GM-free. The proposal, which will be presented this week at an EU Council of Environment Ministers, will provoke fury from environmentalists, consumer groups and organic producers who are opposed to allowing any GM traces in their food. They will see it as a "licence for contamination." (Independent)

"Government 'forced' to approve GM seed use" - "IN WHAT some environmentalists fear could be the thin end of the wedge to increase genetically-modified crops in Greece, the country's agriculture minister, George Anomeritis, has approved the use of GM cotton seeds to help make the country's cotton crop immune to pests.

In announcing the decision to cultivate GM cotton, Anomeritis took an apologetic tone. Apparently in fear of criticism from vocal left-wing parties and organisations, he claimed the decision was forced on Greece by Brussels. "We do not favour such a policy, but we must enforce the European Union decision," he said. Greenpeace has called for a burst of consumer activism. "We appeal to all citizens to refuse to play the role of the uncritical consumer and seek a bigger say in matters concerning what they eat," said local activist Myrto Pispini." (Athens News)

June 2-3, 2001

"EPA Urged to Release Dioxin-Cancer Study " - "An expert scientific panel formally urged the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday to release a study that has been in the works for more than a decade and concludes that consumption of animal fat and dairy products containing traces of dioxin can cause cancer in humans." (Washington Post)

Two points:
  • The Washington Post report is misleading. The Science Advisory Board did not conclude dioxin causes cancer in humans. Only about one-third of the members wanted to reach this conclusion. The others did not. The SAB also said it was inappropriate for the EPA to quantify cancer risks without also characterizing the uncertainty -- i.e., the EPA should acknowledge the risk could be zero. Click for the SAB report.


  • Remember Ben & Jerry's!

"Friends of the Earth, enemies of the truth" - "The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Great Britain's watchdog agency for deceptive ads, ruled this week that Friends of the Earth (FoE) is engaging in unwarranted scare tactics with its latest fund-raising push. FoE's campaign asked the public "Do you really know what you're eating?" before warning that "today's food is laced with dangerous hidden ingredients." Since the leaflets and mailers in question explicitly endorsed organic food alternatives, ASA concluded that FoE lied by implying that pesticide residues used on conventional fruits and vegetables were somehow more harmful than manure residues left on organically-grown produce." (GuestChoice.com)

This ought to liven up the organic produce section down the local market: "Dead bodies could enrich soil faster: scientist" - "STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - Corpses could be recycled into organic soil, a Swedish scientist has suggested. The environmentally-friendly form of burial was reported Friday in the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet. The new green method transforms the human body into organic matter in a few weeks. Bodies buried in coffins can take between 50 and 60 years to decompose.

The corpse recycling method was developed by biologist Susanne Wiigh-Masak, who found that cremation emits poisonous gases with unknown effects, making it even less eco-friendly than conventional burial. The process works by immersing the body in liquid nitrogen, producing up to 30 kilograms of pure organic matter. The organic matter is then placed in a thin, easily degradable coffin. When the coffin is buried near the ground surface, it enriches the soil like autumn leaves. The Church of Sweden has given its blessing to the new burial method." (CBC)

"Diabetes Risk Increases with Expanding Waistlines" - "VIENNA - If expanding waistlines, tight clothes and declining athletic ability are not incentive enough for baby boomers to watch their weight, Danish scientists may have a more compelling reason. They have discovered that people who become overweight and obese in middle age more than double their risk of developing diabetes compared to their more weight-conscious contemporaries." (Reuters)

"Liposuction Shown to Improve Cholesterol Level" - "VIENNA - Liposuction not only removes excess fat from the hips, abdomen, bottom and thighs, it can also help improve cholesterol levels. New research presented at an obesity conference on Friday shows that the surgery, in which fat is sucked out of the body through a tube by a vacuum-like machine, seems to have additional health benefits. "Liposuction usually is performed for cosmetic reasons but our data show...it can significantly change a person's cholesterol level, which could benefit a person's heart health," said Dr. Fitz Hoppichler, of the University of Salzburg." (Reuters)

"Cholesterol-lowering foods to be banned" - "Most of the Logicol cholesterol-lowering products will be removed from supermarket shelves before the end of the month after concerns about the safety of one of the key ingredients. Government health ministers yesterday decided cholesterol-lowering margarines containing plant sterol esters could remain on sale as long as they carried health warnings, but further research was needed on other products such as milk and mayonnaise.

The Australia New Zealand Food Authority (ANZFA) said the decisions followed findings plant sterol esters could affect people's ability to absorb vitamin A. ANZFA had recommended the ingredient should be allowed to be used in edible oil spreads - margarines - as long as they carried a warning." (AAP)

"CHEMICAL EXPOSURE CALLED UNLIKELY CAUSE FOR MARINES' BLISTERS" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2001 - The Department of Defense (DoD) said Thursday that symptoms in Gulf War veterans were probably not caused by exposure to chemical warfare agents.

The DoD released the results of its latest investigation of events during the Gulf War. The case narrative, "Reported Chemical Warfare Agent Exposure in the 2d Reconnaissance Battalion," focuses on a group of Marines who reported experiencing injuries that appeared symptomatic of chemical warfare agent exposure.

Investigators from the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, Medical Readiness and Military Deployments concluded the Marines involved were unlikely to have been exposed to chemical warfare agents. This assessment is based on interviews of the Marines who sought treatment and the medical personnel who treated them and the opinion from a medical expert who specializes in identifying chemical warfare casualties." [More information is available at: http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/2d_recon] (ENS)

"Climate sensitivity may be higher than many think, researchers say" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In the wake of mounting evidence of global warming, decision-makers are wrestling with related policy issues. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois have shown that the probability of severe climate change is much greater than many scientists or policy-makers had thought. "The size and impacts of anthropogenically induced climate change strongly depend on the climate sensitivity – the change in equilibrium surface warming due to a doubling of the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere," said Michael Schlesinger, a UI atmospheric scientist. "According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the climate sensitivity lies between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Centigrade." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

This is a good one. No idea about the relative importance of various forcings but allocates "probabilities" anyway:

"Our results show that the probability density function very strongly depends on which radiative forcing factors have actually been at work during the period of the temperature measurements," he said. "At present, the most likely scenario is one that includes anthropogenic sulfate aerosol forcing but not solar variation. Although the value of the climate sensitivity in that case is most uncertain, there is a 70 percent chance that it exceeds the maximum IPCC value.

Translation: in order for people to be "responsible" for alleged accelerated climate change, solar irradiance must be constant (it isn't, click here for graph) and the sulfate aerosol excuse ("masking" of anthropogenic warming via increased aerosol albedo) must be valid. This point has been covered to death but, for those not familiar with it, the sulfate aerosol mask hypothesis is a dog that just won't hunt. The great majority of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols are in the northern hemisphere and they are not particularly durable (unlike CO2, they don't mix throughout the global atmosphere but precipitate or decay, i.e., those produced in the northern hemisphere complete their atmospheric lifecycle in the northern hemisphere). Empirical measure shows the atmosphere to be warming slightly in the northern and cooling in the southern hemisphere (where there is a virtual absence of these aerosols) - the inverse of what should be anticipated if these reflective particles are temporarily overwhelming purported anthropogenic warming. Moreover, sulfate aerosols are concentrated relatively close to emission points in Europe and North America and least prevalent over Siberia and Mongolia, suggesting that the latter pair should demonstrate at least winter warming since GHG forcing is most effective in dry, cold air masses (they could wish, having just suffered through their worst winters for many decades).

Given that the authors state "the most likely scenario is one that includes anthropogenic sulfate aerosol forcing," which is highly unlikely since the physical world demonstrates the inverse response to that anticipated, and, "but not solar variation," which is demonstrably false, the assertion "Although the value of the climate sensitivity in that case is most uncertain, there is a 70 percent chance that it exceeds the maximum IPCC value" is truly bizarre.

A tragic demonstration of science being sacrificed on the altar of politically correct assertion.

"Climate change debate is far from over" - "WASHINGTON--As residents of the Northern Hemisphere prepare to welcome another summer, the seasonal rise in temperatures and the violent weather that oftentimes accompanies it will invariably take on political overtones.

Gone are the days when thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, droughts, floods, and plain old hot weather were seen as the inevitable manifestations of what a popular 1890s tune called "the Good Old Summertime." To those who believe that human activities--notably the burning of fossil fuels--are contributing to an artificial, and potentially dangerous, warming of the planet, the things that earlier generations took for granted are now "further proof" that global warming is for real." (Earth Times)

"Cool view of biology's carbon war" - "Grasslands, the most anonymous of all ecosystems, are set for their moment in the sun. "They are saving our skins right now. Without them, the world would be a lot hotter," Greg Retallack, professor of geological sciences at the University of Oregon, told BioMedNet News.

Retallack's controversial analysis, just published online and due to appear in the July issue of The Journal of Geology, argues that grasslands have kept our planet cool for the past 40 million years by capturing carbon dioxide from the air and burying it deep in richly organic soil.

He sees capture of the planet's thermostat by humble grasses as just the latest round in a war between plants and animals - biology's consumers and producers of carbon dioxide - that has been going on for at least 500 million years. And each change in fortunes, triggered by evolutionary adaptation, has caused the planet to heat up or cool down." (BioMedNet News)

"Canada Pollution Levels Could Rise" - "TORONTO — Canada's pollution levels will rise dramatically if it increases oil and gas production to meet mounting U.S. demands, an environmental watchdog group warned Friday. By 2010, greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 44 percent above the amount Canada set as its target if the country expands energy supplies, said the David Suzuki Foundation in a report." (AP)

Suzuki Foundation? And someone pays attention to their fanciful hand-wringing?

"Climate Changes Provoke Health Fears" - "In the 1950s severe weather caused worldwide death and destruction estimated at $4-billion a year; by the 1990s that amount had escalated into tens of billions of dollars." (Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg))

Same old abuse of figures. Factor in 40 years of inflation, the increased value of assets (the result of significant wealth generation over the same time frame), population increase (more people having more assets and placing them in traditionally vulnerable sites) and you start to wonder why "normal" extreme weather events are racking up so little dollar-value damage bills. This doesn't indicate increasing storm severity, nor is it a symptom of increasing severe event frequency - it's a symptom of wealth in that there's a larger dollar-value asset base to take a hiding from the inevitable events as they occur.

"Govt will stick to Kyoto Protocol vow" - " The government has decided to stick to the framework of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in international negotiations on climate change, and will not seek to backtrack on Japan's goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to levels 6 percent below those of 1990, government sources said Thursday." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Berlusconi's support for Bush on Kyoto creates rift in EU" - "Italy has broken ranks with its EU partners over the Kyoto protocol in the first challenge to Europe's unity on climate change and the inaugural rift with the new Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

Even before the premier's formal appointment, Italian diplomats in Brussels have switched tack and called for Europe to acknowledge that Kyoto is effectively dead without US support. The move threatens to undermine the EU's strategy of putting maximum pressure on Washington by pledging to ratify Kyoto next year, with or without the USA.

It also raises the possibility that George Bush may now have some crucial support from Mr Berlusconi over climate change when the US President meets EU heads of government at Göteborg, in southern Sweden, this month." (Independent)

"New research can improve regional U.S. snowfall forecasts during el niños and la niñas winters" - "For the first time, researchers have identified how El Niños and La Niñas change snowfall in specific regions of the continental United States. These findings may lead to more accurate winter season snowfall forecasts when either event is occurring.

Snowfall amounts change during different stages of the winter in several areas of the U.S. depending on whether El Niño or La Niña conditions exist in the equatorial Pacific. The most significant changes in snowfall occur in the Northwest, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Midwest and northern Texas." (NASA/GSFC)

Here we go again: "Children at extra risk from pollution linked to climate change, report says" - "OTTAWA -- A greater number of very hot days due to climate change will increase air pollution problems in Canada's big cities, with children at special risk, says a report by the Canadian Institute of Child Health. Childhood asthma and respiratory problems, already a major public health issue, will likely be aggravated if global warming projections are accurate, suggests the federally funded report. (CP)

"Shift from Forest to Crops Lowers Temperatures" - "BOULDER — The large-scale conversion of forests to croplands in the midwestern United States over the last century has led to a measurable cooling of the region's climate, according to Gordon Bonan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The new study, which appears in the June issue of the Journal of Climate, is the first to document the link between regional climate change and a major change in temperate forest cover. NCAR's primary sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

"Human uses of land, especially clearing of forest for agriculture and reforestation of abandoned farmland, are an important cause of regional climate change," concludes Bonan. The cooling is the result of the changeover of the region to crops, which reflect more sunlight back into space than forests." (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research)

"Global Warming Melts Australia's Glaciers" - "SYDNEY - Australia's glaciers are melting. In the land of outback deserts this is not as strange as it sounds. Scientists say the shrinking of Australia's little-known glaciers on remote, sub-Antarctic Heard Island in the Indian Ocean reveals global warming now stretches from the tropics to the edge of Antarctica. ``The recession of many glaciers during the past 50 years has been unprecedented in modern times for Heard Island,'' glaciologist Andrew Ruddell, with the Australian Antarctic Division, told Reuters on Friday." (Reuters)

"Energy Department Initiatives Back Bush Plan" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2001 - Despite objections from Democrats and environmentalists, the Energy Department is moving ahead rapidly with actions to support the Bush Administration's long term energy plan. Alongside efforts to reinforce the nation's electric grid and natural gas network, the agency is also working to boost research into alternative energy sources.

This week, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham called for new investment in electrical transmission infrastructure and interstate natural gas pipeline projects, funding for new nuclear energy projects, and reviews of renewable energy research and development programs." (ENS)

"Nuclear Waste Dump in Nevada Is Dead for Now, Daschle Says" - "A plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, long opposed by Nevada, has become a casuality of the change in control of the Senate.

Senator Tom Daschle, the South Dakota Democrat who will become the majority leader, said on Thursday of the plan, 'As long as we're in the majority, it's dead.'" (New York Times)

Daschle should be more worried about radiation in the Capitol!

"Portion of Bush energy plan right on target, Clean Power Group says" - "Five electricity-generating companies working together as the Clean Power Group see the new National Energy Policy proposed by the Bush administration on May 17 as just the medicine the nation needs.

The group has developed a specific regulatory proposal that would expedite the development of increased generation from new and existing sources without sacrificing the environment, says Joel Bluestein, director of the Clean Power Group.

The plan is based on a national cap and trade system that sets emission caps that get progressively tighter over time. Emissions limits would be set and tradable emission allowances issued to participating companies. They could then directly cut their emissions, or buy allowances from companies that have achieved surplus reductions.

In this way, the proposal provides a guarantee that the environment will always be getting cleaner, the group says." (ENN)

"Exxon CEO Talks About Energy Crunch" - "DALLAS (AP) — The chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp. says he can't imagine any company building new U.S. refineries, and that gasoline-making capacity will be further strained in the next few years by clean-fuel rules. Lee Raymond said a big hurdle in the short run is that U.S. refiners are gearing up to spend $8 billion over the next few years to meet government standards for reducing sulfur content in gasoline and diesel fuel.

The result, he said, would be refineries closing temporarily for retooling and leaving some independent gasoline marketers unable to find supplies. ``It's a very complex system, and the more you load on to it, as we're finding out, the bigger the problem,'' Raymond said.

Raymond said companies are reluctant to build new refineries because profit margins are too small — they could invest in other things ``and you wouldn't have the aggravation of everybody accusing you of always cheating'' by manipulating gasoline prices." (AP)

"Animal Welfare Organization Calls on President Bush to Act Against 'Animal Rights' Extremists" - "PORTLAND, Ore., June 1 -- The National Animal Interest Alliance, an organization of animal professionals and enthusiasts, today called on the Bush Administration to investigate the exploitation of IRS charitable tax-exempt status by certain "animal rights" groups that use intimidation, harassment and deception to raise money.

In a letter to President Bush, NAIA President Patti Strand writes: "We believe that the Administration's goal to increase the flow of money to legitimate charities through new tax deductions is both admirable and necessary. However, we also believe that organizations that benefit from tax-exempt status and misuse constitutionally protected speech to threaten businesses and private citizens should not benefit from federal help." (PRNewswire)

"Militants Steps Up Arson Efforts" - "PORTLAND, Ore. - The Earth Liberation Front, a shadowy group blamed for costly arson attacks across the country, is stepping up efforts to punish companies and institutions it says are threatening the environment, the FBI said Friday.

The ELF this week posted a manual on its Web site that tells would-be arsonists how to build simple incendiary devices.

On Friday, the group claimed responsibility for fires last month at the University of Washington and a tree farm in Oregon. Several hours earlier, three logging trucks were torched in an Oregon forest. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and federal authorities were investigating.

FBI officials said the group is making good on a promise it made earlier this year to ratchet up the violence. The agency considers the ELF one of the nation's most dangerous terrorist groups." (AP) | Earth Liberation Front claims responsibility for UW fire (Seattle Times) | UW seeks emergency funding to replace torched building (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

"Potato Vaccine Protects Mice From Stomach Bugs" - "NEW YORK - A potato-based vaccine that protects against several stomach diseases has passed the first round of animal tests, researchers in California report.

For several years, scientists have been trying to develop vaccines that are delivered through foods such as potatoes and tomatoes rather than needles. The hope is that edible vaccines may be more practical for use in developing countries, since the foods do not need to be refrigerated as ordinary vaccines must, and the edible vaccines do not require syringes and other medical equipment.

So far, plant-based vaccines have met with limited success. One problem has been figuring out a way to get edible vaccines into gut tissues without being destroyed by digestive juices.

Drs. Jie Yu and William H. R. Langridge, of Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, got past this obstacle by designing a vaccine around the cholera toxin, which can latch onto the lining of the gut without being destroyed by digestive juices. Normally the ability of the toxin to survive in the gut has harmful consequences, leading to cholera, but the researchers were able to use the toxin without causing disease." (Reuters Health)

"Farmer stands firm on GM trials" - "Another attempt to convince the Flintshire farmer who is running Wales's only genetically-modified crop trials to pull out of the project has failed. Organic farmers from Pembrokeshire travelled to north Wales to meet John Cottle, who is hosting trials of GM fodder maize. The meeting was amiable but the points of view on both side are at stale-mate." (BBC Online)

"GM Labelling Must Cover All Food Items, Urges Academy" - "Mandatory labelling of genetically modified food should extend to all products and the level of GM content at which labelling is required should be cut from five to one per cent, the Academy of Medicine said yesterday. In a submission to the Environment and Food Bureau, the academy accepted that, initially, mandatory labelling could be confined to pre-packaged or processed food and the threshold set at five per cent or above. But the GM content limit should be reduced to one per cent and the rules made to cover all food items prepared or sold in public within one or two years after any law took effect.

The three-month public consultation on GM labelling ended yesterday. The academy admitted labelling all food items could be technically impossible. But it said it should be a general principle recognised in any new law and its application should only be limited by labelling technology. "This covers everything, all food with a GM element. The public should have the right to know. This should be the principle and we will work out the details later," said academy president Dr Leong Che- hung." (South China Morning Post)

Today's moron feature: "Radical Green Group: We Set Fires" - "A radical environmental group Friday claimed responsibility for setting two fires last month that destroyed a university lab and a commercial tree farm. The fire at the University of Washington's urban horticulture center in Seattle last week destroyed the offices of scientists who did research into the genetic modification of trees to make them larger and more useful to the timber industry. Not far away and at about the same time, two buildings on the Oregon tree farm were also destroyed by a firebomb. There, scrawled on a wall, police found the signature of the ELF, as well as the message: "You Cannot Control What is Wild." The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) on Friday claimed responsibility for those fires." (CBS)

"Extension for gene report" - "State Parliament has extended the date for a report on Gene Technology in Tasmania. Parliament yesterday agreed to give the Parliamentary Select Committee until the end of June. The Government's policy on genetically modified organisms will be announced shortly after.

The moratorium on GMO crop trials will remain in place until the new policy is announced. The move coincides with a survey of Tasmanians` opinions on the use of GMOs. While almost 65 per cent support the moratorium, a similar number think labelled genetically modified foods should be allowed into the State.

A representative of Biotechnology Australia, Craig Cormick, says the survey still found a lot of misunderstanding of some of the GMO detail." (ABC News Online)

June 1, 2001

"Second-Hand Smokescreens" - "World No-Tobacco Day 2001 was yesterday. Sponsored by the World Health Organization, the theme was secondhand smoke. The event’s poster featured “Secondhand Smoke Kills” emblazoned over a photo of the Marlboro Man riding into the sunset.

WHO proclaimed, “Second-hand smoke is a real and significant threat to public health. Supported by two decades of evidence, the scientific community now agrees that there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke… The evidence is in, let us act on it.”

That’s quite an ironic statement, though. It appears the WHO doesn’t even put much faith in its own research on secondhand smoke." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"PPA ban isn't science, it's statistical malpractice" - "Health Canada announced this week that over-the-counter cold medicines and appetite suppressants containing phenylpropanolamine (PPA) were being withdrawn from the market for fear the ingredient increases the risk of stroke.

Consumers have been advised not to take any PPA-containing products and to dispose of any such products stored at home. The targets of the ban include such brand names as Acutrim, Alka-Seltzer, Comtrex, Contac, Dexatrim, Dimetapp, Robitussin CF and Triaminic.

Health Canada -- wrongly -- says this advice is based on its assessment of PPA's safety. ... But plop-plop, fizz-fizz, oh what junk the Yale study is. It doesn't credibly implicate PPA as causing stroke. Even accepting the results at face value, the claimed risk is essentially trivial." (Steven Milloy, National Post)

"Antibiotics may stop indigestion" - "A DOSE of antibiotics could help patients suffering from acute indigestion and heartburn, researchers suggest today. They have found evidence that the Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which are responsible for stomach ulcers, may also contribute to acid reflux, the condition in which stomach acid creeps back into the throat. Wiping out the bug with a course of antibiotics reduced the frequency of the gastric disorder in volunteers, the scientists at University Hospital, Zurich found." (Telegraph)

"Controls needed for farm antibiotics" - "A summit looking at Australia's use of antibiotics has recommended that ALL antibiotics, including those used in agriculture, should only be available on prescription. Chair of the summit, Dr John Turnidge from the advisory panel on anti-microbial resistance, expects pig and poultry farmers and feedlots to be affected. But he says more controls are needed and alternatives found, to prevent widespread resistance to antibiotics.

John Turnidge: Now many farmers will be concerned about that, and we've yet to work out some details where they won't be disadvantaged by such a process. That'll take perhaps months and years to sort through. But yes, we will be wanting an audit trail, we will need to know which antibiotics are going where and how they're being used, so that we can balance that against the resistance germs that are appearing." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Cellphone calls blamed for aircraft incidents" - "Cellphones are being linked to at least two incidents in which aircraft made serious sudden uncontrolled movements.

An aircraft preparing to land at Wellington last Christmas Eve unexpectedly turned right and climbed during an instrument approach. A passenger's cellphone was thought to be the cause. No fault was found with the aircraft and the possibility of ground interference was rejected.

In another incident, an aircraft cruising on autopilot, suddenly rolled 30 degrees after a cellphone rang in a cockpit flightbag." (New Zealand Herald)

"Can voting Labour lead to an early demise?" - "In this week's BMJ, Dorling, Davey Smith and Shaw describe how mortality relates to voting patterns in different areas. Generally, mortality is higher in Labour areas, reflecting underlying socio-economic and health inequality." (BMJ)

Maybe... and maybe voting big-spending, big-taxing Labour (Democrat, in U.S. parlance) kills people off much quicker.

"Farmers to be paid for clean air, water" - "In less than twenty years, farmers could be PAID to provide clean air and water. That's the prediction of Dr Steven Cork from the CSIRO, a keynote speaker at the National Native Vegetation conference in South Australia's Barossa Valley. Dr Cork, leader of the Ecosystems Services Project, believes paying farmers to manage their land effectively is a sure-fire way to improve the quality of natural resources, in the country and the city.

Steven Cork: Many of them are getting to the point where it costs us more to get the services from engineering solutions. For example say, clean water for most cities around the world, it costs a lot to build water filtration plants and a lot of cities are now discovering it's actually cheaper to repair the catchment, so that nature does the water filtration for them." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Maybe... then again: Unusual source of ocean water contamination may rewrite environmental textbooks

"How mowing your lawn adds to Sydney smog" - "BACKYARD grass, and the mowing of it, could be contributing up to a quarter of the chemicals responsible for Sydney's summer smog levels. The familiar smell of freshly cut grass is now known to host normally harmless chemicals which, when combined with industrial pollution, create photochemical smog. The level of these chemicals is thought to be so significant that, combined with similar chemicals emitted from trees, they could rival in volume the amount of more harmful chemicals emitted from motor vehicle exhausts.

A study by the CSIRO divisions of Atmospheric Research and Energy Technology shows that when grass is mowed, it increases the production of the chemicals, classed as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 100 times.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority commissioned the study to investigate the extent to which trees and plants were contributing to urban pollution -- collectively known as biogenic sources.

"We were surprised," said CSIRO scientist Ian Galbally. "It was always assumed grasses didn't emit VOCs. "It's very new research so all we can say is that it does represent a significant fraction [of total air pollution]. "And when I say significant, I mean just that. There is a lot of grass out there." ([Sydney] Daily Telegraph)

This week, fish good: "Fatty fish 'cut cancer risk'" - "Eating fatty fish such as salmon, herring, and mackerel could reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. Essential fatty acids - especially omega-3 fatty acids contained in large amounts in fatty fish - have previously been proved to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells." (BBC Online) | Eating sardines twice a week halves risk of contracting prostate cancer (Independent)

"Tide against organic salmon bid" - "Alaska's push to win organic certification under federal law for its wild salmon suffered a setback Wednesday when a federal study panel ruled against the idea. Adding insult to injury for Alaska salmon producers: The panel said farmed fish raised in ocean net pens or other enclosures possibly could qualify as organic." (Anchorage Daily News)

"Probiotic milk may help prevent common childhood infections" - "Probiotic milk (milk containing bacteria that colonise the intestine and stimulate antibody production) may slightly reduce respiratory infections among children attending day care centres, finds a study in this week's BMJ. These findings suggest that these bacteria may help prevent common infections, particularly in high risk children.

Although encouraging, we do not yet have a final answer on whether probiotics are sufficiently effective in preventing common childhood diseases that they can be routinely recommended, writes Professor Christine Wanke of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, USA." (BMJ)

"Stay Slim -- Cut the Fat Not the Sugar" - "LONDON - Overweight people, worried about cancer, heart disease and diabetes, don't need to drop sugar but should focus instead on eating less fatty food, nutritionists say. Obesity has risen dramatically over the past 30 years because of unhealthy diets and lack of exercise and it threatens to become a global epidemic, according to the World Health Organization. But a recent European scientific study has provided ammunition for the international sugar industry to fire back and claim that sugar isn't fattening." (Reuters)

"New UNEP Publication Look at Eliminating Halon Dependency" - "PARIS — Developing countries are facing the dual challenge of ensuring effective fire protection and complying with the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer by phasing out halons, which are very effective fire extinguishing agents." (United Nations Environment Programme)

"Environmental groups offer deal to feds" - "LOS ANGELES -- Environmental groups seeking to get species declared endangered more quickly are offering federal officials something in return: some relief from lawsuits. Members of two groups that have sued to protect declining species -- the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife -- are proposing to delay some of its suits against the Fish and Wildlife Service for several months." (AP)

Well ain't that nice of 'em? Hopefully they'll get a counter offer they can't refuse.

"Ancient Wisdom"

"We are the ones that live closest to the land, to Mother Earth. We live with it, we experience it, with our hearts and souls, and we depend upon it. When this Earth starts to be destroyed, we feel it." -- Caleb Pungowiyi, Yupik Native from Nome, Alaska.

These were the heart-tugging words of an Eskimo native as quoted on page 81 of `Climate Change Impacts on the United States' - better known as the `National Assessment' .  On page 70, they state - `Caleb Pungowiyi is a Yupik Eskimo who lives in the Arctic, moving back and forth from Alaska to Siberia in pursuit of walrus and other sea mammals. Gathering food directly from the land and the sea makes the Yupiks very careful observers of what is going on around them.'   The intended human image from this characterisation? A hardy, but wise, Eskimo living close to nature in a traditional Eskimo lifestyle, imparting his ancient wisdom to a `greedy' unfeeling industrial society. 

But the reality? Let Caleb Pungowiyi describe himself. Here is his own opening introduction to his testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives sub-Committee on 6th April 2000. 

"Good morning Mr. Chairman, and members of the Subcommittee. My name is Caleb Pungowiyi. I currently serve as a Special Advisor on Alaska Native Affairs, to the Committee of Scientific Advisors for the Marine Mammal Commission and am a former member of the Alaska Scientific Review Group. I am also a member of the Indigenous Peoples Council for Marine Mammals (IPCoMM), and a life-long subsistence user of marine mammals. I am testifying today in my capacity as Chair of IPCoMM's Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) Reauthorization Committee, and as a Consultant and former Executive Director of the Eskimo Walrus Commission."

It seems Caleb Pungowiyi is not what the National Assessment made him out to be. Even his home town of Nome fails to show global warming in its instrumental record, hardly evidence of the `destruction' he mourns in the opening quote.  A full read of his testimony reveals someone well versed in the ways of scientific and political bureaucracy, a well-connected and tertiary-educated career bureaucrat, not the `noble native' image painted by the National Assessment.

But it gets worse. Look up this website to see how Pungowiyi and his organisation operates when it comes to the commercial exploitation of Alaska's wild life.  In Tasmania, we provide absolute protection to our unique wildlife, but then, we don't have Pungowiyi's ancient wisdom to persuade us to do otherwise.  Tasmanian Devils are not for sale, but Alaskan walruses?  They would be a lot safer here - as far from Pungowiyi as possible.

Like everything else in the discredited `National Assessment', the beatification of Caleb Pungowiyi to evoke sympathy for the global warming cause was an act of political deception of the American public." (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT Vol. 2, No. 21" - "If recent headlines are to be believed, findings published in the May 24th edition of Nature cast doubt on the effectiveness of trees as carbon dioxide sinks. "Tree planting no defense against global warming," screams the Agence France Presse headline. "Results suggest that planting trees may not thwart global warming," opines the Associated Press. "[These] findings suggested a limit to the value of forest planting to counter carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes," adds Andrew Revkin of The New York Times, helpfully. What a coincidence that the precise sticking point of the Clinton/Gore negotiating position on the Kyoto Protocol at the Hague, last year, (a negotiating posture so unacceptable to the European Union that they preferred no deal to that deal) now supposedly is undermined just as Bush/Cheney negotiators ready themselves to pull up to the table in Bonn. Doubt concerning our interpretation on that score is allayed by an interview published by The Times of London with their own science correspondent Mark Henderson, that same day." (GES)

"CORRECTED - Denmark to ratify Kyoto global warming treaty" - "In COPENHAGEN story headlined "Denmark ratifies Kyoto global warming treaty" published yesterday, please note vote was not actual ratification of treaty but approval by parliament for the Danish government to ratify the treaty at a later unspecified date. A corrected version follows:" (Reuters)

"Jeffords urged to back Kyoto" - "Paris - The environmental group Friends of the Earth wrote to defected US senator - James Jeffords - on Wednesday, urging him to back the Kyoto Protocol and the reduction of greenhouse gases." (SAPA)

"Italy wavering on climate change - EU diplomats" - "BRUSSELS - The first chink in the European Union's united stance on fighting climate change opened this week when Italy said it was unhappy with a draft declaration on the Kyoto protocol, EU diplomats said yesterday.

According to diplomatic sources, Italy said it did not like part of the declaration - due to be released by EU environment ministers next week - that would commit the 15-country bloc to ratifying the 1997 global warming treaty by the end of 2002.

Some diplomats said they feared the Italian reservations were a foretaste of the policies of the in-coming government of Silvio Berlusconi, the centre-right media tycoon who has expressed doubts about the environmental agreement the United States rejected in March." (Reuters)

"IEA says spray can propellant could be future fuel" - "LONDON - An environmentally-friendly compound used as a propellant in about 10 billion aerosol spray cans every year could become a significant source of future energy, the International Energy Agency said yesterday. Dimethyl-ether (DME) is a clean fuel that can be made from natural gas, coal or biomass and could be used for power generation, domestic use and transport, the West's Paris-based energy watchdog said in a statement." (Reuters)

" UK shops mistaken to drop GM food - industrialist" - "LONDON - Lord Haskins, Chairman of Northern Foods Plc, criticised UK supermarkets yesterday for turning their backs on supplying genetically modified food to consumers, saying people could make up their own minds. Haskins, whose company is one of Britain's leading chilled food and grocery manufacturers, said the country could miss out on the GM revolution by giving in to "paranoid" consumers and environmental pressure groups. "Their (the supermarkets') attempts to outlaw all genetically modified food were wrong," Haskins told a conference organised by the U.S. Embassy, the Royal Agricultural College and the School of Oriental and African Studies." (Reuters)

"Jose Bove Takes Anti-GM Fight to Britain" - "Jose Bove, the walrus-moustachioed French sheep farmer who is renown for his attacks on genetically modified crops, and for destroying a McDonald's restaurant, is taking his fight to Britain next month." (PlanetRice)