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Archives - June 2003

June 30, 2003

"DDT pregnancy warning" - "Being exposed to the pesticide DDT in the womb could delay a woman becoming pregnant as an adult, researchers suggest.

...So although DDT may delay pregnancy, DDE may protect against this cause of infertility.

The researchers say this may be why large variations in human fertility have not been seen since the introduction of DDT." (BBC News Online)

Which is an interesting exploration of not very much. Despite being abused and grossly overused in agriculture, exposing billions of people and several generations, no human morbidities are attributed to environmental exposure to DDT and/or its metabolites. The only agreed human effect of this compound has been the saving of millions of lives by suppression of insect vectors.

DDT might delay a daughter's pregnancy and it might protect her against infertility... Well, that's definitely worth raising a warning that could conceivably (ooh) discourage sub-Saharan African anti-malarial campaigns.

"Greens Just Keep Singing the Blues" - "If anyone doubts that the tone of the debate over environmental policy in this city is in serious need of improvement, he or she need only look at the reaction to the release this week of the Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever "Draft Report on the Environment."

This report, the product of more than two years' work collaborating with more than two dozen federal departments and agencies and state and private-sector contributors, is designed to help answer a question I posed at my confirmation hearing 21/2 years ago: Are America's environmental policies making our air cleaner, its water purer and its land better protected -- or not?

But judging by the reaction of some professional environmentalists to our report, you'd think we had tried to pass off "The Skeptical Environmentalist" as "Silent Spring." (Christine Todd Whitman, The Washington Post)

"Study Indicates Oil Wealth Can Indirectly Benefit Forests" - "The indirect benefits for rain forests of oil and mineral industries sometimes outweigh the direct environmental costs, according to a study released today by the Center for International Forestry Research. The report, titled Oil Wealth and the Fate of the Forest:  A Comparison of Eight Tropical Countries, indicates national wealth from oil and minerals strengthens domestic currencies, which makes activities like farming and logging -- both associated with rain forest destruction -- less attractive.  Additionally, countries wealthy in oil and minerals tend to develop their urban centers, which draws people out of tropical forests and into cities, leaving the forests to recover from whatever destruction has occurred before." (UN Wire)

"Starving farmers destroy rainforest to buy food" - "Millennia-old trees and rare wildlife in Madagascar are vanishing as hungry families, their crops shrivelled by drought, sell bags of charcoal to survive" (The Observer)

Oh, here's a gem! "Scientists set out to discover if insects are disappearing from Britain" - "Experts believe falling insect numbers explain a decline in some bird species - and they have developed a device to prove their case

Do you remember? Windscreens were covered once, at the end of a car trip in high summer, with an insect massacre: splattered moths and squashed flies and wasps and gnats and God knows what. But in recent years more and more drivers seem to be finding their windscreens clear." (Independent)

Don't suppose reduced debris collisions with the vehicle could have anything to do with advancing aerodynamic design and improved air flow perhaps? Auto bug massacres still occurring at rates of yesteryear may well have manufacturers recommending a new career path for their design engineers, no?

"U.S. Pushes for Global Climate Watch" - "PARIS - The United States is accelerating its push for other countries to help develop a global climate watch system to monitor environmental threats like El Nino or rising sea levels, a U.S. official said Friday.

During a weeklong trip in Europe, Conrad Lautenbacher, head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tackled an environmental debate in which the United States has often been at odds with other countries in recent years.

Lautenbacher said current observation methods, such as those involving satellites or floating buoys on the seas, don't provide a complete picture of environmental threats.

"We need to reach the next level of observing systems ... to make wise policy decisions in the future," he told reporters at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, summing up the message of his trip to Germany, England and France." (Associated Press)

"US reports 1.3 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions" - "WASHINGTON, June 27 - US carbon dioxide emissions, which are considered a culprit in global warming, increased 1.3 percent in 2002, according to a preliminary government estimate released Friday.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) said CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels rose from 5.686 billion metric tonnes in 2001 to 5.762 billion metric tonnes in 2002.

The 2002 increase is close to the average growth in emissions from 1990 to 2002 of 1.2 percent but a reversal of the 1.4 percent decline in 2001, which was attibuted to weak economic conditions." (AFP)

"States warming up to carbon dioxide reduction laws" - "CONCORD, N.H. - (KRT) - Imagine this state's White Mountains no longer draped in white during the winter. The foliage that attracts thousands of leaf-peepers in the fall fails to burst into fiery reds and golds. Fierce storms batter beachfront property along the state's sliver of coastline.

Hoping to stave off such a future and save a $1.1 billion tourism industry, New Hampshire is at the forefront of an increasing number of states tackling a problem once assumed to be so big that only the federal government could take it on: global warming." (Chicago Tribune)

"TVA Ruling Fails to Settle Clean Air Act Debate" - "ATLANTA, Georgia, June 27, 2003 - The Tennessee Valley Authority can ignore the Environmental Protection Agency's orders to clean up pollution at nine of its coal-fired power plants, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The ruling, made strictly on procedural grounds, did little to clarify the ongoing debate over the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act, which the government alleged the federally owned power company had violated." (ENS)

"Borlaug urges shift to gene revolution" - "SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Nobel Peace Laureate Norman Borlaug says the 21st Century challenge to agriculture will be producing sufficient supplies of food to sustain the world’s continued population growth

“The world has the technology, either available or well-advanced in the research pipeline, to feed 10 billion people,” said Borlaug, who delivered the keynote address during the second day of the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento.

“Extending the Green Revolution to the Gene Revolution will provide a better diet at lower prices to many more food-insecure people.” (Farm Press)

"Royal Society president accuses Meacher of twisting facts to suit case against GM foods" - "The president of the Royal Society, the national academy of sciences, lambasted the former environment minister Michael Meacher yesterday for putting his own spin on the safety of GM food.

Lord May of Oxford, a former chief scientific adviser to the Government, said Mr Meacher had twisted the facts to suit the case against the introduction of GM foods.

Lord May said that the former minister was guilty of distortion and an ideological conviction, which had hampered an honest approach to the science of GM. He was referring to an article Mr Meacher wrote in The Independent on Sunday.

He said: "The recent newspaper articles by Mr Meacher appear to show an ideological opposition to GM crops, and present a severely distorted account of the scientific facts and uncertainties surrounding GM foods." (Independent)

"GM-free food in UK is contaminated- survey" - "The contamination is condemned by GM critics as being part of a deliberate campaign by the American biotechnology industry to force feed GM food to consumers." (FoodIngredientsFirst.com)

"GM crops touted to fight poverty" - "Genetically modified crops are the key to eradicating poverty and hunger in the Third World, says a leading African biotechnology expert. Investment and research into genetically enhanced crops, such as corn and sweet potatoes, could create a "green gene" revolution that pulls the African continent out of decades of economic and social despair, said Dr. Florence Wambugu, CEO of A Harvest Biotech Foundation International, a non-profit organization that advocates using agricultural biotechnology as a tool for aiding the poor." (National Post)

"Vilsack: Biocrops crucial" - "Washington, D.C. - Gov. Tom Vilsack said Wednesday that he isn't giving up on making Iowa a leading producer of crops for pharmaceutical and industrial products despite the qualms of the food industry.

"That's the future of our state," Vilsack told reporters at the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual convention, which wrapped up Wednesday.

Vilsack, who was using the convention to recruit biotech companies to Iowa, said adequate regulations are needed to ensure that pharmaceutical and industrial crops can be kept separate from corn intended for food and animal feed." (The Des Moines Register)

"Scientists Create Many Biotech Crops" - "WASHINGTON - Americans may not know it, but most eat genetically modified food daily. And two Midwestern scientists — one an unassuming gardener, the other a no-nonsense executive — are largely responsible." (AP)

Ah, Frankenpets: "GM fish glows in the bowl" - "A Taiwanese company has created a genetically modified (GM) ornamental fish that glows in the dark. The Taikong Corporation took DNA from a jellyfish and inserted it into a zebra fish to make it shine a yellow-green colour. GM animals are frequently used in labs and flocks of GM sheep make valuable proteins in their milk, but the "Night Pearl" zebra fish is the first gene-altered pet to go on sale to the public. For some, the animal will be a fascinating novelty; for others, it will raise fears of a trend for bio-engineered "Frankenstein pets." (BBC News Online)

June 27, 2003

"McJunk Science: Over Five Billion Fooled" - "McDonald's caves to the dubious demands of frantic food police and misinformed environmentalists" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"'Unacceptable risk' of chemical disaster" - "The UK's system for regulating synthetic chemicals amounts to "a gigantic experiment with all living things", an environmental watchdog says." (BBC News Online)

"Birds on the wire" - "In January 2003, on what was presumably a slow weekend for news, The Observer newspaper delivered its readers an astonishing scoop. Mobile phones, it announced, were responsible for the decline of the British sparrow population. The only evidence cited by its reporter was a correlation between the dwindling of the sparrow population and the introduction of mobile phone masts. But a correlation, as any science reporter ought to know, is not evidence of causation. Two months later, by the time the theory was officially disowned by the British Trust for Ornithology, it scarcely seemed to matter. It was easy for the story to strike a chord. Mobile phones, many of us seem to believe, are doing us harm. We just have to find out what harm they are doing." (SIRC.org)

"UK economist rubbishes green sceptic" - "Data used by the "sceptical environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg to show that problems such as global warming, deforestation and malnutrition have been exaggerated just doesn't add up, a British economist argues today." (The Guardian)

"Greenpeace slams Spain over Rainbow Warrior fine" - "MADRID - Spain is holding Greenpeace's flagship Rainbow Warrior in port and will not release it unless the environmental group pays a fine of 300,000 euros ($343,100), the group said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Putin urged to ratify Kyoto pact" - "LONDON, England -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is being urged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions as he opens a high-level energy conference in London. Environmentalists say a $6 billion joint venture between British and Russian oil companies -- agreed on Thursday -- will be disastrous for the planet unless the Kyoto pact is in place." (CNN.com)

"FEATURE - Deep rocks might ease global warming; or leak?" - "OSLO - Rocks deep below the North Sea or the Ohio River in the United States could be burial grounds for global warming despite opposition from environmentalists who fear a leaky, short-sighted fix." (Reuters)

"Irish Sellafield Suit Thrown Into Disarray" - "LONDON, UK, June 26, 2003 - An international tribunal has delivered a setback to Irish efforts to stop nuclear fuel manufacturing at the Sellafield nuclear plant in the UK. It has emerged that Ireland could face legal action from the European Commission for having brought the case in the first place." (ENS)

"The monarch is dead? Long live the monarch" - "THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY is alive and well, flying proudly over Midwest cornfields. But that hasn't stopped the beautiful black and orange insect from becoming the poster child of the movement to stop the spread of genetically modified agriculture. Go anywhere near downtown Sacramento this week and you will see the butterfly's image hoisted high among the demonstrators gathered to protest outside a conference of farm ministers from governments across the globe.

In a sense, the monarch is the perfect symbol for the protesters, an apt metaphor for their movement: Fears about its future were based on the misreading of a single, narrow study. Those fears were spread far and wide by people who had never read the science but who wanted to believe the worst. And when later, more exhaustive research proved them wrong, few noticed or cared. And so the myth persists." (Daniel Weintraub, Alameda Times-Star)

"Monsanto takes on Canada's wheat chief" - "The campaign by the US agri-food group Monsanto to win wider approval for its genetically modified wheat has brought a confrontation between the company and Canada's official wheat exporter, the Canadian Wheat Board.

The board, fearing approval in Canada would damage its exports, has demanded Monsanto Canada withdraw its application for government approval of GM wheat. This week the company refused, insisting its application was "responsible and appropriate".

The board must now decide whether to proceed with its threats of legal action. "We will do everything in our power to ensure that GM wheat is not introduced in Canada until customers a nd farmers want it," said Adrian Measner, the board's president." (Financial Times)

June 26, 2003

"US to call for system monitoring the environment" - "The US is to urge the world's governments to set up an "integrated Earth observation system" to "take the pulse of the planet". It would combine satellite and ground-based observations of weather, climate, vegetation and other environmental indicators. The Bush administration is to hold an Earth Observation Summit in Washington this summer to which it hopes the G8 group of industrialised countries will send cabinet-level representatives." (Financial Times)

"French Cabinet approves plan for a new environmental charter" - "PARIS — France's Cabinet approved a plan Wednesday that would modify the constitution to give environmental protection as much weight as human rights. President Jacques Chirac is behind the environment charter, an attempt to make France a world leader in promoting environmental concerns. The bill is expected to go before parliament this fall." (Associated Press)

"Hot Words: A claim of nonhuman-induced global warming sparks debate" - "In a contretemps indicative of the political struggle over global climate change, a recent study suggested that humans may not be warming the earth. Greenhouse skeptics, pro-industry groups and political conservatives have seized on the results, proclaiming that the science of climate change is inconclusive and that agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, which set limits on the output of industrial heat-trapping gases, are unnecessary. But mainstream climatologists, as represented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), are perturbed that the report has received so much attention; they say the study's conclusions are scientifically dubious and colored by politics." (David Appell, SciAm)

"Dobrianksy Highlights Need for New Technology to Store Carbon Emissions" - "A U.S. official says the deployment of technologies that capture, separate, transfer and store carbon emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels will provide an enormous boost to sustainable growth in developed and developing countries around the world." (Washington File)

"EU Reaches Climate Emissions Trading Breakthrough" - "STRASBOURG, France, June 25, 2003 - Governments and Members of the European Parliament have clinched a deal to create a climate emissions trading system for the European Union. The agreement removes any doubt that the scheme to trade emissions allowances will become a reality from 2005. The law setting up the system is now set to enter force at the end of this year. First national emission allowance allocation plans will be due from EU member states the following March." (ENS)

"Hate The Corporation, Love The Hunger" - "It turns out that the motley crew of organic farmers, anarchists, celebrity chefs and wild-eyed Luddites holding "teach-ins," getting themselves arrested, and running around naked in Sacramento this week don't like corporations. Who would have guessed?" (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Agriculture secretary pushes new crops, counters critics at biotech meetings in Sacramento" - "Sacramento -- As hundreds of protesters swarmed the state capitol beating drums and waving signs denouncing genetically modified food crops, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman convened a conference at a nearby convention center that pushed the opposite message: Gene-spliced crops are here to stay -- and what's more, they're good for both people and the planet." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Former environment minister has distorted GM facts, says Lord May" - "In response to newspaper articles by the former environment minister, Michael Meacher, published in ‘The Independent on Sunday’ and ‘The Daily Mail’, Lord May of Oxford, the President of the Royal Society and former Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government, has today (25 June 2003) issued the following statement." (The Royal Society, London)

"Biotech meeting takes aim at hunger - U.S. firms push altered crops; protesters cite perils" - "Sacramento -- As street demonstrations against an international biotechnology conference here subsided Tuesday, another battle for the hearts and minds of foreign agricultural ministers was being waged, without the ruckus, on the floor of the conference's expo.

Representatives from about 50 corporations pitched their newfangled computer technology and bioengineered organisms to representatives from more than 100 countries, while a few environmental groups preached the benefits of small-scale, low-tech agriculture." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Lamy: White House "Spin" On GM Food Counterproductive" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. "spin" tying European mistrust of genetically- modified food to worsening the problem of starvation in Africa is counterproductive to resolving the transatlantic dispute, Europe's top trade official said Wednesday." (Dow Jones)

"Swiss reject GM moratorium" - "25/06/03 - The Swiss Parliament has rejected a moratorium on GM crops. The Lower House voted to reject the moratorium by 77:70, reflecting an about-turn by the Lower House to support the Upper House, which at the beginning of June voted overwhelmingly against any moratorium by a majority of 29 to six votes." (FoodNavigator.com)

"Biotech Food Myths, Misconceptions and Misinformation -- A Response to False Activist Claims" - "On June 15, a group of anti-biotech organic food activists calling themselves the "Independent Science Panel" issued a report called The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World, regarding crops and foods improved using modern biotechnology techniques. That report makes a series of claims regarding bioengineered crops that is not supported by the depth and breadth of extensive scientific and economic data collected in laboratory tests, field trials and commercial cultivation over the past two decades. The following report from the AgBioWorld Foundation is a point-by-point refutation of those assertions." (AgBioWorld.org)

"Monsanto persists in bid to introduce genetically modified wheat to Canada" - "WINNIPEG, Canada - Monsanto's Canadian subsidiary said it would maintain its request to the Canadian Wheat Board to introduce the genetically modified wheat variety "Roundup Ready" into Canada." (AFP)

"FDA unlikely to seek labels on cloned animal meat, milk" - "WASHINGTON — U.S. consumers will most likely not know when they buy hamburgers, bacon, and milk products from cloned animals, a technology that could be available by next year, government and industry officials said Wednesday. John Matheson, regulatory review scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, said the agency would not require labels on cloned animal products if they are considered as safe as traditional food. "If we find no problems with the products, we have no legal basis to require labels or have companies differentiate between them," he said at an annual biotech industry conference." (Reuters)

"US Seeks to Seize Food Tainted with Medicine Crops" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. food products tainted with traces of pharmaceutical crops would immediately be seized from grocery store shelves under a proposal being considered by the Bush administration, government officials said yesterday

U.S. food industry groups and consumer advocates have raised concerns about the possibility new crops engineered to produce medicines could accidentally seep into the food supply. Pharmaceutical crops, which are still in the experimental stages, are not approved for human or animal food." (Reuters)

June 25, 2003

"Study: Power Lines, Breast Cancer No Link" - "GARDEN CITY, N.Y. -- A study that sought to explain the high rate of breast cancer on Long Island found no evidence to support fears that living near power lines causes the disease.

Researchers called the findings reassuring and said the study suggested they could rule out electromagnetic fields and focus on other risk factors for breast cancer, which strikes 200,000 women each year in the United States.

``All around, it is good news,'' said Dr. M. Cristina Leske, the lead researcher on the study, which is to be announced Wednesday and will appear in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology." (AP)

"Lunatic Conspiracy Targets -- Tap Water?" - "If you thought that a loony obsession with malevolent forces spiking our drinking water was limited to fictional characters from "Dr. Strangelove," think again. Such characters are very real -- and they belong to the extreme environmentalist movement. National Review reports that the same crowd who brought you the entirely unfounded hysteria over Alar on apples and falsely accused biotech corn of mass-murdering monarch butterflies is now warning of a deadly substance that nameless, faceless government officials are purposely putting in your tap water: fluoride." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Total beverage consumption and beverage choices among children and adolescents" - "From the ABSTRACT: BMI is positively associated with consumption of diet carbonated beverages and negatively associated with consumption of citrus juice. BMI was not associated with consumption of milk, regular carbonated beverages, regular or diet fruit drinks/ades, or non-citrus juices. In conclusion, total beverage consumption and beverage choices are strongly related to age, race, and gender. BMI was only related to consumption of diet carbonated beverages and milk, and those relationships were weak." (International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition)

"New York City Schools Cut Down on Fat and Sweets in Menus" - "Acknowledging that obesity is epidemic among New York City schoolchildren, the Education Department is reducing the fat content in the 800,000 meals it serves daily and banning candy, soda and other sugary snacks from school vending machines.

Gone may be lunchroom staples like beef ravioli, potato salad and macaroni and cheese; the department has so far failed in trying to reformulate these foods with healthier ingredients. Favorites like chicken nuggets, cheese pizza and Jamaican beef patties will remain on the menu, but in smaller portions or in a leaner (read: less finger-licking) form." (New York Times)

"Ice cream that's just right for the right" - "American ice cream lovers who were left cold by Ben & Jerry's nauseating right-on-ness now have an alternative: the Star Spangled Ice Cream Company.

"Like millions of your fellow Americans, you enjoy ice cream," starts its website, "but you do NOT enjoy seeing your money funnelled to wacko left-wing causes." It continues: "When you serve Star Spangled, you serve your country, because we donate 10pc of our profits to charities that support… the US Armed Forces." (UK Daily Telegraph)

"U.S. and Other Countries Outline Program to Curb Carbon Emissions" - "WASHINGTON, June 24 — An array of industrialized and developing countries agreed today on the outline of a cooperative research program aimed at capturing and storing carbon dioxide, the main smokestack emission linked to global warming. The agreement came halfway through a three-day conference in McLean, Va., organized by the Bush administration, which has argued for more than a year that a technological breakthrough will be needed to stabilize levels of so-called greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere." (New York Times)

"Ice Core Studies Prove CO2 Is Not the Powerful Climate Driver Climate Alarmists Make It Out to Be" - "Summary: Studies of polar ice cores demonstrate that variations in atmospheric CO2 concentration are not what make or break ice ages. By inference, there is little reason to believe they have played, or are currently playing, a major role in the establishment of the Modern Warm Period." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Decadal-Scale Climate Oscillations (Asia)" - "Summary: Climate alarmists fret about what they believe to be unprecedented warming over the past quarter-century. However, earth's climate is always changing on this timescale and others; and we must understand these natural swings in temperature before we can ascribe any recent warming to human-induced causes." (co2science.org)

"FACE Experiments (Trees -- Pine)" - "Summary: How is the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content likely to affect earth's forests? A long-term and still-ongoing FACE experiment being conducted in a loblolly pine plantation at the Duke Forest in North Carolina is providing some rare insights into this question." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Over Half a Century of Length-of-Snow-Season Data for Northern Eurasia" - "Summary: What do the data show? A shrinkage in snow season length, as would be expected in the face of unprecedented concomitant global warming? No change in snow season length? Or possibly even a slight increase in snow season length? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2003GL016873." (co2science.org)

"South African Rainfall in the 20th Century" - "Summary: How has it changed as the earth has gradually emerged from the global chill of the Little Ice Age? Natural Hazards 29: 139-154." (co2science.org)

"Severe Storms in the United States" - "Summary: Are they getting worse? Are they becoming more frequent? Is global warming to blame? The authors' review of the scientific literature provides some interesting answers to these important questions. Natural Hazards 29: 103-112." (co2science.org)

"The Effect of Elevated CO2 on Plant Size Variability" - "Summary: In a monospecific stand of vegetation, are all individual plants equally benefited by atmospheric CO2 enrichment? A group of scientists from Japan investigates this intriguing question. Global Change Biology 9: 619-629." (co2science.org)

"Response of AM Fungal Spore Production to Elevated CO2" - "Summary: How does it vary in the field? … for eleven species of fungi? … growing in the soil under sixteen species of plants? … in monoculture? …in polyculture? New Phytologist 157: 579-588." (co2science.org)

"Global Warming: Nature or Nurture?" - "I'm wondering if the major media outlets reported on the following item. Maybe I just happened to miss it, but I have my doubts.

The June issue of Scientific American highlighted some research results out of Columbia University. Recently, Professor Richard Wilson published a peer-reviewed article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters where he reported the results of his studies on the amount of solar energy that our sun has been producing over the last 24 years. During this time period, the amount of energy the sun is producing has increased by 0.05% every 10 years.

Now that may not sound like much to anyone, but, as Prof. Wilson points out in his article, the cumulative effects of this trend could be significant. For example, if this trend had begun even earlier, say as little as about 100 years ago, it would account for a significant amount of the global warming that has become so important to both climatologists and environmentalists." (Kevin Van Cott, Mises.org)

"Ontario government urges people to cut back on barbecuing to control smog" - "TORONTO -- Ontario's environment minister is urging people to forgo backyard barbecues this week in order to reduce smog, but says coal-fired plants are only a "small part" of the province's pollution problem." (CP)

"Africa becomes battleground in global biotech war" - "LUSAKA - It is little surprise the transatlantic battle over genetically modified food came to be fought on the scorched fields of Africa's peasant farmers. Here the ability of a field of maize to resist pests and drought is a matter of life and death. Yet, while millions of its people faced food shortages last year, Zambia's government told aid agencies to take back thousands of tonnes of GM maize, preferring to wait for unmodified aid than feed GM food to its hungry people. The continent's leaders have become pawns in a wider mesh of conflicting trade and economic interests, bombarded by a confusing array of information blurring into propaganda." (Reuters)

"Egypt eager for new biotech crops, would not oppose GM wheat" - "Egypt is keen to plant new biotech crops and would not be against the purchase of genetically modified wheat if the crop is commercialised in the US, according to an official with the Egyptian Agriculture Ministry." (just-food.com)

"Critics slam Bush for "ignorant" GM foods comments" - "LONDON - A transatlantic storm is brewing over genetically modified crops, with the U.S. extolling the benefits of biotechnology and Europeans insisting on proof that "Frankenstein foods" really are safe to eat.

In the latest salvo in what is turning into a bruising battle, President George W. Bush accused European nations of contributing to famine in Africa because of their reluctance to accept GM foods.

But critics in Europe said his comments are more about promoting the biotech business than ending world hunger.

"He can only have been informed by the multinationals, the Monsantos of this world, to make a statement which displays as much ignorance as that," Patrick Holden, of the environmental group the Soil Association, told Reuters." (Reuters)

"Study sees big gains from modified crops" - "European farmers would derive big benefits from plant biotechnology - and the environment would gain from reduced pesticide use - according to the first Europe-wide study of the economic impact of genetically modified crops.

The US National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy is analysing the effect that 15 GM crops would have on European agriculture. It released the first three case studies - for insect-resistant maize, herbicide-tolerant sugarbeet and fungus- resistant potato - at the Bio 2003 conference in Washington.

The results show that for those three crops GM varieties would increase annual yields by 7.8bn kg, cut pesticide consumption by 9.7m kg and increase farm income by €1.05bn ($1.22bn, £730m).

The study was funded by the US Biotechnology Industry Organisation and two biotech companies, Monsanto and Syngenta, but was carried out independently by the NCFAP, a non-profit research foundation based in Washington." (Financial Times)

June 24, 2003

Tort lawyer whinge du jour: "Critics Say 1993 Court Ruling Undermines Science" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2003 - A group of legal experts and scientists believe a 10 year old Supreme Court ruling is undermining the role of science in many of the nation's courts. The opinion, which emerged from the 1993 case of Daubert vs. Merrell-Dow, was intended to assist federal judges in deciding whether to allow expert testimony into the court room, but critics say it tilts the scales of justice in favor of polluters and product liability defenders." (ENS)

Anyone interested in either justice or science could want but one thing for Daubert - make it much stronger.

"Jim Wahner: Get kids moving, teach nutrition to fight obesity" - "Obesity among our children is an alarming national trend, but the first reaction of many policy-makers is to go for quick, easy and ineffective solutions.

Banning "bad" foods, taxing "bad" food ingredients and removing "bad" foods from vending machines are all being touted as ways to solve the problem. These quick-fix solutions might make lawmakers and regulators feel like they are actually reducing obesity, but of course they're not. Taxes and additional regulations won't cause anyone to lose a single pound.

Experts in health, weight control and fitness agree that a much more effective way to stem the obesity epidemic is to put physical education and nutrition education back in schools. That way, our children can develop the tools they need to develop healthier eating and activity habits." (The Capital Times)

"Lawyers Congregate To Pick Your Food (And Your Pocket)" - "Listen carefully when you hear professor [Richard] Daynard and his trial lawyer friends talk about fat deposits," cautions Center for Consumer Freedom Executive Director Rick Berman in a Boston Herald op-ed. "They're really referring to their bank accounts, not your love handles."

Amusingly, Daynard, the organizer of this weekend's food-company lawsuit summit, now insists: "we're not doing this to make trial lawyers rich, that's for sure." He should tell that to legal shark John Banzhaf, who says: "the very fact that lawyers are going to be making money out of [suing restaurants] is exactly what we're counting on, 'cause that's what made it with tobacco." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"E.P.A. Calls U.S. Cleaner and Greener Than 30 Years Ago" - "WASHINGTON, June 23 — In its first comprehensive analysis of the quality of the environment in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency said today that the nation's air, water and land were cleaner and better protected than they were 30 years ago but that problems remained with impure waterways, polluted air and the acceleration of suburban sprawl." (New York Times) | EPA Issues Environmental Overview, Critics Describe Report As Overly Politicized (Washington Post)

"Carbon Sequestration Focus of Leadership Forum" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 23, 2003 - Energy ministers from 14 countries and the European Union gathered today in Tyson's Corner, Virginia for a three day discussion of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using commercially workable carbon capture and storage technologies known as carbon sequestration.

The first meeting of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, hosted by the U.S. State and Energy Departments, will identify potential areas of multilateral cooperation on carbon sequestration - the capture and permanent storage of carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere." (ENS)

"Too much carbon dioxide? Just pump it underground" - "A new surge of research and urgency on global warming focuses on how to capture and store the rising levels of CO2." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"The Insincerity Principle" - "Environmentalists have long promoted hydrogen as a panacea for environmental and economic ills, including air pollution, climate change, and dependence on imported oil. But a new study by Caltech researchers published in the journal Science raises concerns that releasing large amounts of hydrogen into the atmosphere -- which could occur if hydrogen becomes a common fuel -- might itself pose risks, including damaging the ozone layer, altering global climate, and changing the growth rates of soil microbes.

Research on the environmental implications of widespread use of hydrogen is still in its infancy, and the Caltech results may or may not stand up to scrutiny by other researchers. Indeed, a few experts have already challenged some of the study's assumptions. Yet regardless of hydrogen's net environmental effects, the response to the study has already told us a great deal about whether environmentalists take their principles seriously." (Joel Schwartz, TCS)

"Biotech woes . . . and the culprits" - "America learned long ago that what's good for General Motors isn't necessarily good for the country. This axiom applies equally to the biotechnology industry, which has lobbied for — and gotten — stultifying regulation that constrains R&D, inflates prices, and deprives consumers of new food products.

This is not a new phenomenon. Acutely aware of the potential conflict between short-term self-interest and the public interest, the patron saint of capitalism, Adam Smith, warned in the 18th century that any policy advocated by businessmen should receive "scrupulous" and "suspicious" attention. Businesses have often pressed for government interference with free markets; past examples include tariffs on steel and limits on imports of Japanese automobiles.

Scientific bodies repeatedly have examined the potential risks of biotechnology and concluded that regulatory policy should focus on the risk-related characteristics of individual products, rather than on how those products were developed." (Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko, The Washington Times)

"FRANCE: Anti-GM Farmer Becomes a Hero" - "PARIS, Jun 23 - The arrest of farmer José Bové in a little town in southern France is beginning to do more damage to the government than to him. Shortly after 6am Sunday, a police force moved up to his house in Larzac, about 700 kilometres south of France. The policemen, accompanied by guard dogs and moving under helicopter cover, smashed through a glass door and arrested Bové. Bové had been sentenced to ten months imprisonment for destroying a genetically modified test plantation back in 1997. The police moved in to enforce the court order. The raid provoked a wave of protests all over France. In nearby Montpellier where Bové was taken to prison, farmers and union members took over the local police headquarters. Protests were held in Paris and elsewhere." (IPS)

"Jailed GM rebel may win pardon" - "The French justice minister, facing an unprecedented storm of protest over the jailing of the militant farmer José Bové, hinted yesterday that the anti-globalisation leader could be granted a presidential pardon." (The Guardian)

"The Promise of Sacramento" - "Seldom does an international conference hold out as much promise for progress in agriculture as the upcoming Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, Calif. This is because we are now on a cusp; we have reached a point where new agricultural technologies have matured to the point where they can be used by developing nations for their own betterment, rather than remaining in the hands of the most developed nations, with strong and well-funded research programs." (Andrew Apel and C. S. Prakash, TCS)

"Bush Urges Europe Drop Resistance to Biotech Foods" - "WASHINGTON - President Bush renewed his criticism of European nations on Monday for refusing to accept genetically modified foods and contended the ban was contributing to famine in Africa.

"For the sake of a continent threatened by famine, I urge the European governments to end their opposition to biotechnology. We should encourage the spread of safe, effective biotechnology to win the fight against global hunger," Bush told a biotechnology conference.

European countries are concerned about the safety of genetically modified foods. The EU also says it provides more aid to African countries than the United States and that it has done nothing to turn African countries away from biotechnology." (Reuters)

"Activists Say U.S. Manipulating Meet to Promote GM Food" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 23 Activists have gathered at a California conference this week to counter what they call the U.S. administration's attempts to force-feed genetically engineered (GM) crops on developing countries. They reject Washington's argument that science and technology provide all the answers to fight against hunger. "It is a myth that science and technology play a critical role in reducing hunger in developing countries. The claim that we must accept genetically engineered foods if we are to feed the poor in the Third World is simply 'poorwashing'," Anuradha Mittal of California-based Food First told IPS on Monday." (IPS)

"Frankenfood Fight: How about feeding some hungry people?" - "Don't be fooled by the scruffy beards and embroidered Guatemalan vests of typical anti-biotech protesters. Those who battle "Frankenfoods" may resemble homespun, grassroots demonstrators. In fact, they usually belong to an under-scrutinized network of generously funded activist groups, well-endowed charities, and self-interested organic food producers which collectively hog-ties companies that make genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Nearly invisible amid all this are people in developing nations who would gain from these advances if only these Luddites would let them." (Deroy Murdock, NRO)

"No proof of GM health risks" - "GM foods have never been shown to pose any risk to human health, according to new Environment Minister Elliot Morley. He was speaking the day after his sacked predecessor, Michael Meacher, said studies on the effects of GM foods on human health had been "scientifically vacuous", and warned the government against rushing the debate. Adequate testing, sound scientific conclusions and an understanding of the effects on people were still lacking, he said. But Mr Morley told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There have been studies in this country, there have been studies in France, there's been studies by the food and agricultural organisations of the UN." (BBC News Online)

"BRAZIL: The Battle Over Transgenic Seeds" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 23 - Besides questions of human health and the environment, the battle over genetically modified (GM) crops involves a global market of seeds that moves around 30 billion dollars a year.

That is the estimate of Rabobank International, a Dutch bank with close ties to agriculture that predicts that the business could triple in size, given the potential of the market.

Trade in GM seeds is competing with traditional methods of growing, in which farmers hold onto part of their harvest for seeds -- a system that is losing ground in the face of intellectual property laws and legislation designed to protect crops that are genetically engineered to boost yields and resistance.

Groups like Vía Campesina, an international farmers' organisation, argue that seeds are part of humanity's heritage, and should be freely available to farmers and not subject to the rules of the market." (IPS)

June 23, 2003

"Court Upholds Tougher Rule on Arsenic Limits in Water" - "WASHINGTON, June 20 — A federal appeals court today upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's stricter requirements for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water. The agency standard of 10 parts per billion, the equivalent of one teaspoon per 1.3 million gallons of water, substantially reduced the previously acceptable level of 50 parts per billion. The standard, scheduled to go into effect in 2006, was challenged in a lawsuit by the State of Nebraska and the City of Alliance, Neb., which argued that regulating drinking water was a state responsibility and that the agency had exceeded its authority." (New York Times)

"Curb Their Enthusiasm" - "On HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the female lead character portrays a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. It is appropriate that this show is a comedy, because NRDC has long been a bad national joke. How are we to take seriously the claims of an organization that for the last decade has used baseless fear and science fiction to get the public's attention? Its tactics are reminiscent of the little boy who cried wolf, except the apocryphal shepherd boy got only three chances. NRDC, despite dozens of attempts to needlessly scare the American public, has yet to receive the deaf ear it deserves.

In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency is bending itself into a pretzel to accommodate this gang of activist lawyers." (Alex Avery, TCS)

"Obesity campaign eyes school drinks" - "School authorities that sign exclusive contracts to sell soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi in vending machines could become the next big target of the growing legal movement against the US obesity epidemic. John Banzhaf, a George Washington University law professor, told a conference on legal strategies against obesity that schools abused their duty of trust if they sold potentially unhealthy products in return for finance from corporations. Such "pouring rights" contracts have become common in the US, as school boards have sought to supplement falling budgets through commercial partnerships." (Financial Times)

"What We Don't Know About Obesity" - "Trial lawyers say there is a clear culprit in the obesity epidemic: a fast food industry that keeps plying Americans with calorie-laden, cheap meals and snacks. The food companies are as bad for Americans' health as the tobacco companies, they say, and the lawyers intend to litigate. A conference this weekend in Boston is examining legal approaches to fighting obesity.

But there is just one problem. It was clear that persuading people not to smoke would go a long way toward getting rid of excess lung cancer and emphysema deaths and preventing huge numbers of people from suffering heart attacks and strokes.

With obesity, researchers say, it is not clear what causes it or what its effects are. Are people overweight because of fast food, large portion sizes, too little activity, calorie-packed foods, constant snacking? A combination? Something else entirely? Would slimming down make overweight people any healthier? At this point, the scientific evidence is not clear." (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"AFRICA: A Struggle for Survival, as Man Engages Hungry Animals" - "MAPUTO, Jun 20 - A battle is raging throughout the African sub-continent between subsistence farmers, usually the poorest villagers of the region, and game parks over crop destruction wrought by hungry wild animals.

"A wart hog doesn't recognise property, only food," says Sam Kunene, a farmer in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa.

"To a buffalo or other foraging animal, there's no difference between a herb that grows wild in the bush and a stalk of maize, except the latter is more tasty," says Sipho Vilane, a game ranger in Swaziland.

"As for elephants, they can destroy a farmer's field in minutes. Sometimes it isn't even food they are after. They can just be destructive," Vilane says.

It is not a new battle, but for millions of peasant farmers, it is a matter of life and livelihood. Game animals are wild, and if their movements are not restricted they will wander outside the parametres of parks and into neighbouring communities. Their agenda is simply to find new supplies of food." (IPS)

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" - "The British newspaper The Independent warns us of a serious threat to our aesthetic appreciation of the world. "Global warming may wipe out a fifth of wild flower species, study warns," is the alarming headline. But there's more to the story." (Iain Murray, TCS)

"'Green' cars fail environment test" - "John Prescott did it to one of his Jaguars to set an example. The Queen did it to a Rolls-Royce. And thousands of other drivers have done it as the Government urged them to invest in 'green' cars to help the environment and save money. But their gesture could be in vain. Research to be published this week claims that the vast majority of environmentally-friendly cars in the UK are no less polluting than modern conventional models - which continue to improve." (The Observer)

"Bove jailed over GM crop damage" - "TOULOUSE, France -- Radical French farmer-protester Jose Bove was arrested at his home on Sunday and taken to prison to serve a 10-month sentence for destroying genetically modified plants, his lawyer said." (Reuters)

"Biotechnology: Science has yet to find evidence for health and enviro concerns" - "The U.S. and the EU are not in the same camp when it comes to the future role of bioengineered crops in the world food system. The U.S. has rapidly adopted genetically modified (GM) crops and is in favor of making this cost-saving and environmentally friendly technology available to its own farmers and anyone else, including poor countries. Alternatively, the EU is doing its best to prevent further introduction of biotech crops in Europe or elsewhere." (Colin A. Carter, The Sacramento Bee)

"U.S. biotech industry pushes hard on international stage" - "SAN FRANCISCO -- International discord over genetically modified crops is more pronounced than ever as thousands of biotech executives and government officials, including President Bush, gather at pro-biotechnology conferences on both U.S. coasts." (AP)

"Agricultural Technology Conference in Sacramento: CON - Who owns the seeds?" - "Next week, the U.S. government is convening a ministerial-level conference on agricultural science and technology in Sacramento. I will also be coming to Sacramento, but not to participate in the conference. Rather, I will be there to speak with ministers, elected officials, activists and community members about my opposition to the biotechnology agenda of the U.S. government and the biotech industry being advanced in Sacramento." (Percy Schmeiser, San Francisco Chronicle)

"Agricultural Technology Conference in Sacramento: PRO -- Listen to sound science on agricultural technology" - "Beginning Monday, government ministers from more than 100 countries will join U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in Sacramento for the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology.

These international leaders are meeting to discuss the critical role science and technology can play in improving agricultural productivity in developing countries. Ultimately, the goal is to alleviate world hunger and poverty in an environmentally sustainable way." (C. S. Prakash, Martina Newell-McGloughlin, San Francisco Chronicle)

"Blair buried health warning on GM crops, says sacked minister" - "Meacher says PM dismissed evidence on bacteria so that modified crops could be sold to public" (Independent)

"Meacher's GM charges rejected" - "Claims by former minister Michael Meacher that the government played down a report criticising the safety of GM food have been denied by an environment spokesman. An official at the Department for Rural Affairs (Defra) said the government regarded both health and environment as "top priorities." (BBC News Online)

"Michael Meacher: Are GM crops safe? Who can say? Not Blair" - "At Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons last Wednesday Tony Blair stated that "it is important for the whole debate [on genetic modification] to be conducted on the basis of scientific evidence, not on the basis of prejudice". Exactly so. But what does the science actually indicate? Not, I think, what he appears to believe." (Independent)

"'Superweeds' signal setback for GM crops" - "The dispute over genetically modified crops will intensify today with news of the evolution of "superweeds", which are resistant to the powerful weedkillers that GM crops were engineered to tolerate. The development, which comes as the sacked former environment minister Michael Meacher puts himself at the head of the anti-GM campaign, will be seized on by opponents of the technology as undermining its rationale." (Independent)

June 20, 2003

"Pesticide-Sperm Count Link Is Impotent" - "“Scientists for the first time have shown a link between levels of widely used agricultural pesticides in men’s bodies and the number and quality of their sperm,” shrieked USA Today this week." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

From the land of fruits and nuts: "Better safe than sorry" - "SAN FRANCISCO is poised to become the first city in the nation to adopt the Precautionary Principle -- a new policy framework widely used in western and northern European countries for developing laws that protect our health and environment.

For years, Bay Area leaders from the breast cancer, public health, environmental health and environmental justice communities have worked to promote the Precautionary Principle.

Next week, as a result of their hard work, the Board of Supervisors is expected to pass -- and Mayor Willie Brown to sign -- a new environmental code that embraces the Precautionary Principle as the lens thorough which future regulations will be evaluated." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"SARS: Post-mortem of a Panic" - "SARS was supposed to be the worst disease outbreak since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. But as it flickers out, it has killed fewer people in six months than died every ten minutes during that great pandemic." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

NYT still doesn't get it: "Censorship on Global Warming" - "When it comes to global warming, the Bush administration seems determined to bury its head in the sand and hope the problem will go away. Worse yet, it wants to bury any research findings that global warming may be a threat to human health or the environment.

Gone is any mention that the 1990's are likely to have been the warmest decade in the last thousand years in the Northern Hemisphere. Gone, also, is a judgment by the National Research Council about the likely human contributions to global warming, though the evidence falls short of conclusive proof. Gone, too, is an introductory statement that "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment." All that is left in the report is some pablum about the complexities of the issue and the research that is needed to resolve the uncertainties." (New York Times)

Sounds like a much more honest document stripped of some of it's eco-theistic hand-wringing doesn't it. Ol' Gray, however, apparently cannot cope with the concept that nasty people are not toasting the planet. How disappointing it must be for the neo-Malthusian Club of Romers that humanity has not, in fact, run out of essential resources, fossil fuels are abundant, food is far more abundant than ever before, human lifespans and quality of life are both generally increasing and our society is so affluent it can spare time, effort and no small amount of finance pampering competitor species. How wonderful to have such a secure and carefree life that they must invent phantom problems to worry about. How sad that they would misdirect so much effort from helping other, less fortunate societies achieve their lofty lifestyles. On reflection, sounds like Ol' Gray's editorial writers suffer badly from getalifeitis.

"Global warming 'threatens Earth with mass extinction'" - "Global warming over the next century could trigger a catastrophe to rival the worst mass extinction in the history of the planet, scientists have warned.

Researchers at Bristol University have discovered that a mere 6 degrees of global warming was enough to wipe out up to 95 per cent of the species which were alive on earth at the end of the Permian period, 250 million years ago.

United Nations scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict up to 6 degrees of warming for the next 100 years if nothing is done about emissions of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, the chief cause of global warming.

The Permian mass extinction is now thought to have been caused by gigantic volcanic eruptions that triggered a runaway greenhouse effect and nearly put an end to life on Earth." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"After 1 year, Kyoto Protocol still so much hot air" - "A year has passed since Japan ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for curbing global warming, but the protocol has still to take effect because many countries are in disagreement over the wisdom of cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions.

Russia, which has not yet ratified the global environment accord, is said to be key to the success or failure of the war on global warming, but Moscow has been slow to tackle the issue.

Meanwhile, the United States, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, remains set against the Kyoto Protocol, while little progress has been seen in getting developing countries involved in the protocol framework." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"New Zealand farmers sniffy over 'flatulence tax'" - "WELLINGTON - New Zealand farmers are being asked to cough up NZ$8.4 million (2.9 million pounds) a year to help reduce greenhouse effects caused by flatulence of their millions of sheep and cattle -- and they say the plan stinks.

Last year New Zealand signed up to the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and agreed to reduce production of greenhouse gases which are suspected of being a major cause of climate change.

Now the government plans to introduce a tax to help pay for research into livestock emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, which account for more than half of the country's greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"Africans Challenge Bush Claim that GM Food Good for Them" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 19 - As the transatlantic dispute over the future of genetically modified (GM) food heats up, African activists say it is time to publicly challenge the image that the Bush administration is presenting on the issue. Washington, they say, is not entitled to speak on behalf of African states on the matter. "How can one country decide for another country without taking into account the opinion of the other country's people?" Amadou C. Kanoute, regional director of the African office of Consumers International said at a conference here Tuesday organised by Public Citizen. "Genetic Engineering (GE) will not solve the problem of hunger," he added." (IPS)

"Will Protectionism Trump Science?" - "In the summer of 1999, the journal Nature published a study suggesting that pollen from genetically modified corn might harm monarch butterfly populations, sparking a worldwide controversy over transgenic food crops. While follow-up studies have proven the pollen presents no danger to monarchs, the foundations of fear had been set, and soon other allegations regarding the safety of plant biotechnology emerged." (Rep. Nick Smith, TCS)

"Talks Collapse on U.S. Efforts to Open Europe to Biotech Food" - "WASHINGTON, June 19 — Talks between the United States and the European Union over opening up Europe to genetically modified foods broke down in Geneva today, the Bush administration announced, heightening trans-Atlantic tensions.

American officials said they would soon request that the World Trade Organization convene a panel to hear their case, in an effort to end a ban that farm groups say is depriving agricultural businesses of hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

The Bush administration called Europe's policy illegal, saying that scientific research had shown genetically altered crops to be safe. The European Union "denies choices to European consumers," Richard Mills, a spokesman for the United States trade representative, Robert Zoellick, said in a statement today." (New York Times)

"US pursues challenge against European ban on bio-engineered foods" - "WASHINGTON - The United States said it would press ahead with a WTO complaint over a de facto EU ban on genetically modified foods after talks failed to sway the Europeans. Washington said it would call for a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel, after the European Union stuck by its guns at technical level talks in Brussels. "We are disappointed but not surprised that these consultations have not resulted in any changes to the EU's five year old illegal and unscientific moratorium," said US Trade Representative spokesman Richard Mills. "We'll be moving forward with requesting a panel," he said." (AFP)

"Biotech Wheat Threat 'Predictable'-Monsanto Canada" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Monsanto Co.'s Canadian division is not surprised that the Canadian Wheat Board is considering legal action to stop a line of genetically modified wheat from getting government approval, a spokeswoman said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Australian farmers fear future without GM food ban" - "From the middle of Julie Newman's canola fields, the yellow flowers stretch across the Western Australian countryside for miles in every direction. The canola - known as oilseed rape in Britain - is sold as GM-free. Last month the Australian government granted licences to genetically modified food crops, which means it could now lose that automatic status forever." (The Guardian)

June 19, 2003

?!! "Popular Pesticide Faulted for Frogs' Sexual Abnormalities" - "WASHINGTON, June 18 — Scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency say there is "sufficient evidence" to conclude that the country's most widely used pesticide, atrazine, causes sexual abnormality in frogs. They are recommending that the agency conduct more research to understand atrazine's mechanisms and its broader impact on frog populations." (New York Times)

EPA: Freaky Frogs Not Linked With Herbicide

"CGFI: Organic Fear Profiteers Milk Big Bucks from Shoppers; Horizon Dairy Pockets Profits at Expense of Consumers, Farmers" - "CHURCHVILLE, Va., June 18 -- "It doesn't matter what's true, it only matters what consumers believe." Sadly, these are the words of Horizon Organic Dairy CEO Chuck Marcy commenting this year to dairy marketing professionals on consumer misperceptions regarding non-existent health and safety benefits of milk marketed as organic. Today, according to the Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI), Marcy is taking that philosophy all the way to the bank, announcing that Horizon has achieved $200 million in annualized sales -- $200 million earned at the expense of misled consumers and economically strapped family dairy farmers." (U.S. Newswire)

"Smoky Screen. Would eliminating cigarettes from movies slash smoking rates?" - "Last night I watched Backdraft, the 1991 Ron Howard movie that was condemned by anti-smoking activists for showing firefighters with cigarettes in their mouths. There's an obvious irony when smoke inhalation is both an occupational hazard and a way of unwinding, when men who fight fire also like to play with it. At the same time, the constant puffing by Backdraft's characters makes psychological sense: If you think nothing of plunging into a blazing building, the possibility of lung cancer in 40 years is not likely to faze you.

In other words, the smoking in Backdraft is by no means gratuitous; it's there for a reason. For the film's anti-smoking critics, however, the artistic merits of this choice were irrelevant: Even if the smoking scenes made Backdraft a better movie, giving cigarettes to all those tough, courageous men was socially irresponsible because it set a bad example for our nation's youth." (Jacob Sullum, Reason)

"Seattle Comes to Sacramento; The anti-globalization crowd's next festival of folly" - "Trade and agricultural ministers from at least 75 countries are expected to attend the Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, CA, from June 23 to 25. According to the Department of Agriculture, the gathering "will focus on the critical role science and technology can play in raising sustainable agricultural productivity in developing countries." Sacramento is part of the run-up to the big World Trade Organization ministerial meeting this September in Cancun, Mexico, where negotiators from 180 countries hope to change the way farm goods are traded, among other things." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Report by the E.P.A. Leaves Out Data on Climate Change" - "The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs." (New York Times)

"The Forest and the Trees" - "All of us engage in activities that involve burning fossil fuels, and according to some self-proclaimed environmentalists we should feel guilty doing so due to the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) which can lead to ever-dreaded global warming. However, the botanical literature is full of 1,000s of articles showing that elevated atmospheric concentrations of CO2 will be beneficial for plants throughout the world.

Virtually every plant growing on the Earth evolved when CO2 levels were 10 times higher than modern concentrations. When we add CO2 to the atmosphere, plants feel a lot more at home, and they dramatically increase their rate of photosynthesis and they close their stomates (openings in the leaves) thereby reducing transpiration. This combination makes them grow faster and become more water-use efficient and more resistant to drought. The smaller stomatal pores in the leaves further protects the plants from other potential stresses floating around in the atmosphere such as elevated ozone and sulfur dioxide. The plants see elevated CO2 as a gift of the Industrial Revolution - it's like they're going home again." (Dr. Robert Balling, TCS)

"Chile Enters Greenhouse Emissions Market" - "With the building of a new hydropower project, Chile has become the first developing country to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and therefore qualify to sell emissions credits to developed countries under a mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. The World Bank, Chile and the six countries and 17 companies that compose the Prototype Carbon Fund announced yesterday in Santiago that, through the Chacabuquito hydropower project, Chile was able to deliver verifiably lower greenhouse gas emissions." (UN Wire)

A step too far? "Genetically Modified Decaffeinated Coffee Plants Produced" - "LONDON - If you crave the taste of coffee but can't handle caffeine because it makes you jittery or keeps you awake at night, Japanese scientists may have the answer. Researchers at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology in Japan have produced genetically modified coffee plants they say have less caffeine but taste just as good as the real thing." (Reuters)

"USDA Lacks Data, Oversight of Biotech Crops - Group" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture should stop issuing permits for field tests of new, genetically modified crops until it has determined whether they hurt human health or the environment, an activist group said on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"U.S. Policing of Biotech Crops Denounced" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 18, 2003 - Federal government agencies are failing to monitor genetically engineered crops to protect the environment and public health, according to two separate studies released today." (ENS)

"'New Report' on Genetically Modified Crops is neither Independent nor Scientific" - "CHURCHVILLE, Va., June 17, 2003 -- A panel of activists claiming to be scientists from "many disciplines, committed to the promotion of science for the public good" is actually two organic special interest groups campaigning to stop modern agricultural techniques, and there is nothing new in their "new report," according to the Center for Global Food Issues.

In an apparent attempt to create confusion and promote misleading propaganda in advance of the upcoming Ministerial Conference and Expo on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, this inappropriately named "Independent Science Panel" was created by the Institute of Science in Society and Food First -- both of which oppose scientific advances in agriculture and are paid advocates of low-yielding organic farming, according to the Center for Global Food Issues." (CGFI Press Release)

"EPA's Biotech Regulations Robust, Official Says" - "The U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with the private sector since the early 1980s to develop robust regulatory and scientific standards for pesticide-related biotechnology products seeking registration, says Stephen Johnson, EPA assistant administrator." (Washington File)

"New GM Grass Could Ease Hayfever Woes" - "LONDON - Scientists in Australia have developed genetically engineered grass that could ease the woes of hayfever sufferers. The genetically modified (GM) hypoallergenic grass has been altered so it lacks two common hayfever allergens, which should reduce itchy eyes and stuffy noses. "The beauty of this grass is that it will benefit the wider public," German Spangenberg, of the Plant Biotechnology Center at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, told New Scientist magazine on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Growing GM Wheat in Canada 'Not An Option' - CWB" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - The Canadian Wheat Board may consider legal action to stop Monsanto Co. from growing genetically modified wheat in Canada outside limited government-run trials.

"We've given strong assurances to our customers that we will make sure this situation is resolved in Canada and we intend to take whatever action necessary to do that," Adrian Measner, president and chief executive of the big grain marketing agency, told Reuters on Wednesday.

It is the strongest statement the board has made to date on how far it will go to prevent GM wheat from being grown in the near future in Canada -- and one that Measner plans to repeat to world wheat traders at an International Grains Council meeting in London next week." (Reuters)

"BRAZIL: Scientists Lead Charge in Favour of GMOs" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Jun 18 - Scientists in Brazil are on the move to defend continued research of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), enlivening a debate that is already having major impacts on the world agricultural markets.

Brazil is seen as the final front of resistance to genetically modified soya in the Americas. The vast majority of the U.S. and Argentine soya production involves GM seeds. As the world's top soya producers and exporters, the three countries are the main contenders for market share.

The government so far upholds the ban on commercial farming of GMOs in Brazil due to a June 2000 court ruling, but also because of pressure from the environmental movement and the European market's preference for conventional soya.

But it is increasingly difficult to maintain this stance, due to the pressure from farmers, agri-business and scientists interested in the new "transgenic" technology." (IPS)

June 18, 2003

"In vitro study suggests acrylamide causes DNA damage" - "Acrylamide, a possible human carcinogen that has been found in a variety of fried and starch-based foods, appears to exert its mutagenicity (the capacity to induce mutations) by forming DNA adducts and introducing genetic mutations, according to a study in the June 18 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. DNA adducts can interfere with the DNA replication process and lead to mutations and, in theory, to tumor formation." (Journal of the National Cancer Institute)

"Fast-food restaurants told to warn of addiction" - "Fast food's biggest players on Thursday will receive a jolting demand from the law professor who helped bring Big Tobacco to its knees: Display warning notices about the alleged addictive nature of fatty foods.

John Banzhaf III, of George Washington University, is sending the demand in certified letters to CEOs at six major fast-food chains — McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut — as a necessary first step, he says, toward filing a lawsuit against the fast-food giants within six to nine months.

What he is demanding is the posting of signs in all restaurants warning customers that studies on animals have shown that eating fatty foods causes addiction-like reactions.

In the letter, obtained by USA TODAY, Banzhaf says "a growing body of evidence" indicates fast food "can act on the brain the same way as nicotine or heroin." (USA Today)

Hmm... dubious data du jour: "Study: Herbicides May Lower Sperm Counts" - "ST. LOUIS -- A group's study claims to have linked three common farm chemicals to lower sperm counts and quality, following up on its earlier findings that semen in rural mid-Missouri men appears significantly poorer than in urban males.

Findings released in November had suggested the rural-urban difference in sperm quality, marking what the authors said was the first convincing evidence that semen quality -- measured by the count, shape and movement of sperm -- varied geographically.

The researchers, led by the University of Missouri-Columbia's Shanna Swan, said then that they suspected environmental factors -- namely exposure to herbicides and pesticides in tainted air or water -- may explain the disparity." (Associated Press)

Cluster, schmuster: "Tungsten Doubted for Nev. Cancer Cluster" - "FALLON, Nev. -- Tungsten probably is not the main cause of a Fallon leukemia cluster that has sickened 16 children and killed three since 1997, federal scientists said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the metal shows up in elevated levels all over Nevada, including areas where leukemia cases are within normal ranges. Tungsten had been suspected of causing the Fallon outbreak because it turned up in unusually high levels in the area's population. Tests this year also showed high levels of tungsten in residents of Yerington, Pahrump and Lovelock, but the communities have shown normal levels of leukemia cases. (Associated Press)

"Doubts on Whether 20th Century the Hottest Ever" - "SAN FRANCISCO, USA, Jun 17 - Assertions that the 20th century was the warmest of the millennium and that within a hundred years the earth's average temperatures could rise 3.5 degrees centigrade are two of the most publicised hypotheses in the battle to curb climate change. But is there sufficient evidence to sustain these theories? Not according to astrophysicist Willie Soon." (IPS)

"Tropical Forest 'Weirdness' in Costa Rica" - "Summary: The authors of a controversial study of less than 2% of the tree species in a single patch of wooded land in Costa Rica suggest that the growth response of earth's tropical forests to rising temperature is such that it produces a large positive feedback (release of CO2 to the atmosphere) that "in future years would accelerate global warming." Do you believe them?" (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Decadal-Scale Climate Oscillations (Arctic)" - "Summary: An understanding of these natural phenomena is essential to our ability to detect signs of possible anthropogenic CO2-induced global warming in earth's polar regions." (co2science.org)

"FACE Experiments (Trees -- Aspen)" - "Summary: There have now been sufficient FACE studies of aspen trees conducted to get a good feel for how they will likely respond to simultaneous increases in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (which produces positive effects) and ozone (which produces negative effects) in the years ahead." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Extreme Precipitation Trends of North America" - "Summary: Climate models suggest that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations will result in an increase of heavy precipitation as a consequence of greenhouse gas-induced global warming. Do North American data of the last century confirm or refute this prediction? Natural Hazards 29: 291-305." (co2science.org)

"Super-Cyclone Frequency and Intensity 'Down Under'" - "Summary: Will bigger and stronger tropical cyclones vex Australia if post-Little Ice Age warming continues for a few more years? Nature 413: 508-512." (co2science.org)

"Effects of Elevated CO2 on the Growth and Physiology of Peach Seedlings" - "Summary: It is a well known fact that most woody plants respond in a very positive manner to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. Will peach trees hold true to form? A study conducted by an Italian scientist at the University of Edinburgh provides some answers. Plant Biosystems 136: 177-188." (co2science.org)

"Elevated CO2 Influences C3/C4 Plant Growth Interactions" - "Summary: How do C3 and C4 plants respond to atmospheric CO2 enrichment when they are grown together in mixtures? Do they help or hurt each other? A FACE study of cotton and sorghum attempts to provide some answers. Global Change Biology 9: 452-460." (co2science.org)

"At Long Last … A Plant That May Possibly Be Harmed by Elevated CO2" - "Summary: Once in a blue moon, there is an experiment that appears to indicate that a plant may be hurt, instead of helped, by atmospheric CO2 enrichment; and the authors of this paper suggest that the pseudoviviparous alpine meadow grass they studied is one of those plants. Annals of Botany 91: 613-622." (co2science.org)

"CANADA: NGOs Want Industries to Follow Europe's Kyoto Approach" - "OTTAWA, Jun 17 - The federal government should force the country's most polluting industries to adopt a European-style system of trading greenhouse gas emissions, or it risks failing to meet its goals under the Kyoto Protocol, say environmental groups." (IPS)

"Hope and Science, Fear and Superstition" - "Two views about biotechnology and its necessity underscore a worldwide conflict not only between importing and exporting nations of genetically modified products but between rich and poor nations." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Buon Appetito!?" - "I find Italy's prodotti nostrani, or home-grown products, hard to beat for quality. Undoubtedly, they contribute to one of the best cuisines in the world. So is this a reason to support the continuation of European restrictions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? No way." (Dominic Standish, TCS)

"India's GM seed piracy" -"The farmers here like genetic modification (GM). In fact, they like it so much they are illegally cross-breeding Monsanto's insect-resistant cotton with local plants to create their own GM varieties." (BBC News Online)

"Schmeiser Says: 'Reach For Your Wallet'" - " Pity poor Percy Schmeiser. Convicted of stealing genetically improved seeds (which he falsely claims landed on his fields without his knowledge), Schmeiser has been transformed by the likes of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth from common criminal to anti-biotech martyr. And that makes his fibs a matter of real importance." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Humans may spread GM seeds" - "Hitch-hiking on farm machinery, the seeds of sugar-beet weeds can travel more than a kilometre from the field where they were born. In theory, such seeds could spread genes from genetically modified (GM) crops into their wild relatives. But the finding, some of the first evidence of gene flow from crops through seeds, rather than pollen, should not increase worries over the environmental impact of growing GM foods, researchers say." (NSU)

"More regulations for biotech products aren't necessary, says Food and Drug Administration" - "WASHINGTON — Genetically engineered foods from crops that have already been reviewed and approved by two government agencies shouldn't have to jump through a third regulatory hoop at the Food and Drug Administration, an FDA official told Congress.

FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford said Tuesday that the agency is inclined to reject a proposal made by the former Clinton administration that would require biotechnology companies to notify the FDA before putting products on the market. Biotech crops are already regulated by the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency." (Associated Press)

"Biotech Aids Predictability of New Food Traits, Official Says" - "Because of its increased precision over traditional forms of genetic modification, bioengineering increases the predictability that a trait introduced into a food would be desirable and reduces the risk of introducing a detrimental trait, a senior U.S. official says." (Washington File)

June 17, 2003

"A Second Opinion on Sunshine: It Can Be Good Medicine After All" - "Can sunshine, now shunned by so many who fear skin cancer and wrinkles, save many more lives than it harms?" (New York Times)

Politically incorrect research of the day: "Nicotine byproduct may counter Alzheimer's plaques" - "NEW YORK - A byproduct of nicotine metabolism may prevent the formation of the brain-clogging plaques linked with Alzheimer's disease, according to a test-tube study. The preliminary finding offers a potential explanation for previous research linking cigarette smoking with a delayed onset of Alzheimer's, said study author Dr. Kim D. Janda, a professor of chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California." (Reuters Health)

"Simulated global environmental changes impact plant diversity" - "Until recently, little attention has been paid to the potential ecological effects on plant diversity from combined global environmental changes including increased atmospheric CO2, warming, elevated nitrogen pollution, and increased precipitation. This new study shows how quickly some environmental changes can alter the species complexion of a California ecosystem." (Carnegie Institution)

The Indy apparently prefers Stanford's version: "Global warming may wipe out a fifth of wild flower species, study warns" - "One in every five species of wild flower could die out over the next century if levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere double in line with predictions, scientists said yesterday. A study of the impact of global warming on plants has found that most of the environmental changes are likely to result in a substantial loss of plant life. Even though plants need carbon dioxide to survive, the research found that higher levels of the gas reduced numbers of wild flowers by 20 per cent, and cut overall plant diversity by 8 per cent." (Independent) | Plant diversity threatened by climate change and buildup of greenhouse gas, study reveals (Stanford University)

"Researchers start using global climate simulator" - "Researchers have begun operating a new global climate model for a supercomputer system they claim can accurately re-create climate changes on Earth. The model, to operate on the Earth Simulator supercomputer system, is designed to provide a more detailed, accurate forecast of climate changes, and can re-create climate changes occurring over a 100-year period in only about three months, according to a team member." (Japan Times)

"Oceans may not slow global warming" - "Scientists say they may have underestimated the rate of global warming. An international team led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science has found continental shelves in wet tropic areas are not the large carbon sinks previously believed. Oceanographer, Doctor Greg Brunskill says global warming models could require reworking: "If the ocean is less able to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, then the increase in global warming could indeed possibly happen faster than we think," he says." (ABC Radio Australia News) [Complete]

"Colorado to field 'biopharmed' corn; State OKs acres for disputed crop" - "Biopharming" is not just in Kansas anymore. Or Iowa and Nebraska. Ready or not, it's headed to Colorado. Soon, tiny seeds will be tucked beneath the soil somewhere in Phillips County. What eventually grows out of that soil will be corn - not the kind that ends up on a kitchen table, but on a laboratory table. Last week, the state signed off on Meristem Therapeutics' application, already approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to grow Colorado's first biopharmaceutical crops on 30 acres on the Eastern Plains." (Denver Post)

"Agriculture event to draw protests; Conference to probe food biotechnology" - "SACRAMENTO - An upcoming world agricultural symposium organized by the US Department of Agriculture has police girding for riots, although no one's sure how many protesters will converge on California's capital later this month to demonstrate against biotechnology, genetically modified food, and corporate farming." (Boston Globe)

"Biotech Wars: Food Freedom Vs. Food Slavery" - "Monsanto through the U.S. government, is trying desperately to reverse its failing fortunes by creating markets for its genetically engineered crops (GMOs) through coercion and corruption.

The E.U. has not yet cleared GM crops for commercial planting or GM food for imports. Brazil has had a ban on GM crops. And India has not cleared GM food crops and has stopped the spread of genetically engineered Bt. Cotton to Northern India after its dismal performance in Southern India in the first season of commercial planting in 2002.

E.U., Brazil and India are all under attack overtly and covertly, for not rushing into adopting genetically engineered crops without caution and ensuring biosafety." (Vandana Shiva, ZNet)

"GM wheat seen getting mixed reception in Asia trade" - "SYDNEY - The world's first commercially produced biotech wheat, looming in North America, is likely to by-pass some big Asian import markets but could create a battleground in others, producers and traders said yesterday. Genetically modified (GM) wheat, one of the biggest and most complex bioengineering plays, could be just a year away with life sciences giant Monsanto Co well advanced in seeking regulatory approval in the United States and Canada. However, Monsanto told Reuters yesterday it would not launch the product in Australia, the world's second-largest wheat exporter after the United States. Australian wheat leads in most Asian markets, against fierce U.S. competition." (Reuters)

June 16, 2003

"Treaty on Trade in Biotech Organisms to Become Law" - "MONTREAL, Canada, June 13, 2003, - The small Pacific island nation of Palau today became the 50th country to ratify an international treaty that seeks to safeguard the Earth's biological diversity, triggering the treaty's entry into force. It is the first treaty that formally protects biological diversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms. The United Nations treaty, known as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, or the Biosafety Protocol, will enter into force in 90 days, on September 11." (ENS)

"House Panel Slams EU For Biotech Food Ban" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 13, 2003 - Citing a new report that Sudan has rejected U.S. food aid that contained genetically modified (GM) food, House Speaker Dennis Hastert told a Congressional panel Thursday that the action is the direct result of the European Union's "unconscionable" ban on biotech crops. Sudan's decision is the latest evidence that the EU's ban on approving new biotech crops is contributing to the hunger problem in Africa, Hastert said, and is spreading baseless skepticism about GM food across the world." (ENS)

"France's Chirac says not yet ready to accept GMOs" - "PARIS - French President Jacques Chirac last week said the conditions for his country to accept genetically modified organisms (GMOs) were not yet fulfilled and that each country should be left free to accept or refuse them." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - Southern Africa to share info on GMO crops" - "JOHANNESBURG - Southern African countries want to start sharing information on genetically modified (GMO) crops to help formulate policy towards the controversial technology, South Africa's science minister said. Transgenic crops are at the centre of a worldwide debate on whether scientists should change the genetic code of living organisms. The United States citing a so-far unblemished safety record, promotes their use while the European Union advocates a more cautious approach." (Reuters)

"INDIA: 'Protato' Leaves Bad Taste in Critics' Mouth" - "NEW DELHI, Jun 13 - India's plans to develop an indigenously developed, genetically modified (GM) potato are a distorted way of addressing the needs of the poor and hungry in India, environmentalists and food security experts here say. This week, Manju Sharma, head of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) that falls under the Ministry of Science and Technology, announced that the protein-rich 'protato' would be cleared for commercial production within six months. Sharma said she was confident that the GM potato, which has genes from the amaranth plant spliced into it, would ''reduce the malnutrition problem in the country''. But this drew a welter of protests from globally-known campaigners for biosafety, like Vandana Shiva, who have called the 'Protein Potato' or 'protato' a hoax." (IPS)

"GM food companies 'driven by profit not health'" - "Eight out of 10 people believe that they do not know enough about the long-term health effects of genetically modified food to allow the commercialisation of GM crops. Their concerns are made clear in the findings of a poll that adopted the Government's own GM debate questionnaire. The survey, conducted by the Internet Marketing Research Services, an internet polling organisation, used a sample of 2,400 people. Its results are likely to reproduce closely what the Government's own pollsters will report in September, just before a decision is taken whether to give the go-ahead to GM crops." (Daily Telegraph)

"Test 'Frankenstein food' on humans to assess risks, urges Meacher" - "Trials on humans to test the health risks of GM crops should be carried out over the next decade, according to the former Minister who had responsibility for the issue. Michael Meacher, the Environment Minister who until his resignation on Friday led the Government's policy on GM crops, said last night that without the tests the public could never be sure that GM crops were safe." (The Observer)

"Michael Meacher: Green enthusiast slowly marginalised" - "Michael Meacher, tipped to be sacked in every reshuffle since New Labour came to power, finally lived up to expectations yesterday. His departure means there is now only one minister left from the Callaghan era - Margaret Beckett, his former boss at the environment department.

Mr Meacher had clung on for six years as the junior minister with the highest profile because he had a remarkable technical grasp of complex environmental issues, including global warming, nuclear power, waste, GM crops and pollution." (John Vidal and Nicholas Watt, The Guardian)

That his "technical grasp" of environmental issues was "remarkable" is an example of British understatement, I presume. Meacher's inability to distinguish between a tropical cyclone and the El Niño Southern Oscillation is certainly remarkable. So, too, his apparent confusion over the Antarctic winter ozone anomaly and allegedly anthropogenic enhanced greenhouse-forced "global warming." His extraordinary adherence to eco-theistic superstition over understanding of biotech crops definitely qualifies. Yes, it really does seem that Meacher's "technical grasp" of environmental and policy issues is truly remarkable.

"Conservancy Abandons Disputed Practices; Land Deals, Loans Were Questioned" - "The Nature Conservancy announced last night that it is permanently abandoning a range of practices, from drilling for oil to lending employees money to selling undeveloped land to its trustees as home sites. The board's actions followed a day-long, closed-door meeting at the charity's Arlington headquarters, during which it weighed issues and criticisms raised over the past month by two U.S. senators and by some of the nonprofit organization's 1 million members." | Special Report | (Washington Post)

"A Mighty Wind" - "Cape codders tend to be vain about their environmental sensitivities, so you would think they'd cheer the coming of alternative energy. But supporting the construction of dozens of towering turbines visible from their beaches, boats and waterfront homes is a very different thing from avoiding tern nesting grounds or attending a lecture on shoreline erosion. Even before Gordon finished his analysis of the shoal's sands, a forceful and well-connected army of opposition had formed." (New York Times)

"Risky living" - "While few of us think about any real, cumulative risk that we might face (for example, the chances of someone our age dying within one calendar year from today), we are increasingly anxious about imperceptible risks - those that usually rank around the 'getting struck by lightning' figures. We often feel uncertain about the data relating to exposure to particular events, such as infections, toxicants and environmental changes. This uncertainty can induce irrational responses - and such responses can create further problems." (Colin Berry, sp!ked)

"Impotence warning hits Bike Week" - "Male cyclists are twice as likely to suffer from impotence as those who stay away from bikes, according to a new study. The report also found that certain saddles can cause health problems for women cyclists." (BBC News Online)

"Environmental terror group targets Ford boss" - "THE safety of Bill Ford Jr, the great grandson of Henry Ford and chief executive of the family car company, is under threat from a group of environmental terrorists responsible for a spate of arson attacks near his country home." (The Times)

"Cow breath heating up atmosphere" - "Bad breath in cows is contributing to global warming, researchers say. Researchers at the University of Nebraska are developing an additive to cattle feed that they hope will cut down or eliminate the 400 to 600 litres of methane gas the average cow produces while breathing each day. "Most people want to talk about belching and farting, but that's only a small percentage of gas released," said Ken Olsen, a range livestock nutritionist at Utah State University. He said more than 90% of a cow's gas emissions are absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream and exhaled. Globally, livestock produce 20% of the methane gas released into the atmosphere each year." (National Post)

"What Global Warming, says Russian Leader" - "MOSCOW, Jun 13 - The Russian government is having second thoughts about signing the Kyoto Protocol, which intends to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming. Russia must weigh it pros and cons carefully before ratifying the Kyoto protocol, President Vladimir Putin's chief economic adviser Andrei Illarionov told journalists in Moscow earlier this month. "There are several important questions which are yet to be answered," he said. "There have been no serious studies confirming that global warming is taking place." The third International Conference on Climate Change is due in Moscow in September, but it is not clear now what position Russia will take. "We are going to find out what is really going on on this planet -- warming or cooling," Yury Izrael, chair of the organising committee for the conference said in a statement. "The most important issue is whether ratifying the Kyoto protocol would improve the climate, stabilise it or make it worse," Izrael said. "This is not very clear." (IPS)

"Mad in Britain" - "Oh dear! The insanity is spreading. The Sunday Telegraph, probably the sanest of British newspapers, devotes a whole page to the climate change myth. Worse than that, it is combining with the Carbon Trust (Making sense of climate change) to offer the Innovation Awards 2003 for companies with new ideas to exploit the carbon racket. Thousands of businesses struggling to survive in the real economy are suffering from escalating taxes to fund these essays into the imaginary economy." (Number Watch)

"Cold Burn" - "A little climate modeling is a dangerous thing. For decades, scientists have been loading almost every gas man and nature can emit, belch, erupt or fizz forth into the atmosphere into their software-driven crystal balls, just to see what happens - at least to the output of the models." (Russell Seitz, TCS)

"The ICE Age Isn't Over" - "How soon will you be driving a hydrogen-powered car? Toyota, which has already run ads trumpeting its hydrogen cars as "now on the road and ready-to-drive," actually has only a half dozen hydrogen fuel cell cars - extremely expensive prototypes - driving around in the U.S. and Japan. Honda and Daimler-Chrysler have a handful of hydrogen cars operating, chiefly in California. General Motors, which has reportedly spent over a billion dollars on hydrogen fuel-cell research, has expressed "hopes" of selling a million hydrogen cars a year by 2015. We'll see." (Ralph Kinney Bennett, TCS)

"EU group pours cold water on Prodi's hydrogen dream" - "BRUSSELS - A hydrogen policy panel will cut European Commission President Romano Prodi's commitment to hydrogen research down to size on Monday, showing it up to be around one-sixth what he promised and less than U.S. funding." (Reuters)

"Iceland wants to become world's first hydrogen-powered economy" - "TOKYO - Iceland could become the world's first economy free from the fossil fuels that add to global warming if it manages to produce enough hydrogen using renewable energy sources to run fuel cells, an official said here. "Iceland has the goal to have become a hydrogen economy by the year 2040," said the country's ambassador to Japan, Ingimundur Sigfusson. "However, to realise this vision Iceland is dependent upon the development of fuel cell technology and the technology for storage of hydrogen, which is still a handicap," he told AFP. (AFP)

"Fuel cells without harmful greenhouse effects still a long way off: experts" - "TOKYO - The fuel cell, which is intended to protect the environment from harmful greenhouse gases emitted by cars and in electricity generation, has many problems to be solved before it can become a major source of power, experts said.

Invented in 1839 by William Grove from Britain, the fuel cell produces electricity through a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, which leaves water as its only by-product.

Aside from automobiles and other forms of transport, the power source can also be used as a heater, an air-conditioner, to supply hospitals or blocks of flats with electricity and to power portable computers.

But its expensive price tag, bulkiness and the difficulty of transporting and storing hydrogen -- which is very explosive -- preventing most people from using this environmentally-friendly power source, according to a group of experts who met recently in Tokyo for a global conference on gas." (AFP)

June 13, 2003

"EPA: Freaky Frogs Not Linked With Herbicide" - "Environmental Protection Agency says atrazine does not cause sexual deformities in frogs" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Media Blow Gulf Vet Birth Defect Study" - "Study Finds Higher Rates of Specific Birth Defects In Gulf War Veterans' Children" (Associated Press); "Birth Defects High in Children of 1991 War Veterans" (Baltimore Sun); "More Birth Defects Found among Gulf War Vets' Children" (Seattle Post Intelligencer); "Study Links '91 Gulf War Vets and Birth Defects" (Newsday). The headlines go on and on, but the point is made. The media and Gulf vet activist groups finally have evidence of a real manifestation of so-called Gulf War Syndrome, right? Wrong. The study actually showed a lower rate of defects among vets' children." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"Iraq-Attack Think Tank Turns Wrath on NGOs" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 12 - Having led the charge to war in Iraq, an influential think tank close to the Bush administration has added a new target: international non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is setting its sights on those groups with a "progressive" or "liberal" agenda that favours "global governance" and other notions that are also promoted by the United Nations and other multilateral agencies.

AEI and another right-wing group, the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, announced Wednesday they are launching a new website (www.NGOWatch.org) to expose the funding, operations and agendas of international NGOs, and particularly their alleged efforts to constrain U.S. freedom of action in international affairs and influence the behaviour of corporations abroad.

The organisations are especially alarmed by what they see as the naiveté of the Bush administration and corporations that provide NGOs with funding and other support. "In many cases, naive corporate reformers, within corporations and in government, are welcoming them," complained John Entine, an AEI fellow." (IPS)

"Mad Cow Fiction, Stranger Than Truth" - "If you're among the millions of Americans whose summer plans include a sandy beach and a wild work of fiction, we recommend taking along mad-cow disease selections from New Scientist magazine, The New York Times, or the Great Falls Tribune. Or perhaps your tastes run more toward on-line articles from PETA, the Organic Consumers Association, or the immodestly self-named Dairy Education Board. Any way you slice it, there are plenty of imaginary tales being told about "mad cow" this month, mostly by self-promoting organic food activists, animal-rights lunatics, and assorted other professional scaremongers." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Groan... "Group: Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Hurt Ozone" - "WASHINGTON - Widespread use of the hydrogen fuel cells that President Bush has made a centerpiece of his energy plan might not be as environmentally friendly as many believe. Scientists say the new technology could lead to greater destruction of the ozone layer that protects Earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. Researchers said in a report Thursday saying that if hydrogen replaced fossil fuels to run everything from cars to power plants, large amounts of hydrogen would drift into the stratosphere as a result of leakage and indirectly cause increased depletion of the ozone." (Associated Press) | Hydrogen fuel could widen ozone hole (NSU)

Of all the reasons not to be overly excited about hydrogen as an energy source, surely this is a prize winner.

"EU assembly, govts start emissions trading talks" - "BRUSSELS - European Union lawmakers launched talks this week aimed at finalising a bill to cap "greenhouse gas" emissions from big industry and start a scheme of emissions trading by 2005." (Reuters)

"Changing global nitrogen cycle impacting human health, says Colorado University-led study" - "Despite greatly increasing food production for humans, the growing use of nitrogen as a nutrient is affecting people's health far beyond just the benefits of growing more crops, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder-led study." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"Who cares what 'the people' think of GM foods?" - "For a couple of hours this afternoon, a few dozen Greenpeace types, assorted yogic flyers from the Natural Law Party, a handful of pensioners, and perhaps the odd scientist or farmer are going to sit down and talk about GM food. The gathering, in Harrogate, is the last in a series that makes up GM Nation?, the Government’s public debate about whether Britain should grow transgenic crops.

You may not have noticed, but the consultation has been running for a couple of weeks. According to ministers, it’s an unprecedented chance for the man in the street to influence their decisions. Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, says it’s designed to “ensure all voices are heard”.

The exercise has been farce from start to finish. And I’m not sure I want the man in the street to set Britain’s science, technology and agriculture policy. One of the six meetings — held midweek at major population centres, such as Taunton and Harrogate — spent much of its time discussing whether the Sars virus might come from GM cotton in China. It’s more likely to have come from outer space. I can think of more useful ways to waste time and money." (Mark Henderson, The Times)

"EU Under Pressure over GM Crops" - "BRUSSELS, Jun 12 - Prominent African writer and activist James Shikwati made a strong appeal at a forum in Brussels this week for introduction of genetically modified crops to feed the hungry. Shikwati, who is director of the non-governmental organisation Inter-Region Economic Network (IREN) based in Kenya spoke at a meeting organised by TechCentral Station, a U.S. online journal on global public affairs. TechCentral Station promotes free markets and use of technology, but acknowledges that such promotion raises important public issues. IREN campaigns for policies that would support development of Africa." (IPS)

"New review highlights need for science-based standards on GM foods" - "The International Council for Science has published a new report in which it sets out to answer the most important "societal dilemmas" concerning GM foods." (EurActiv.com)

"Seeds of doubt: Monsanto in court" - "Did Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser intentionally plant patented, genetically engineered (GE) seed on his Saskatchewan farm in 1997 and 1998? Chemical giant Monsanto says he did; he says he didn't. The question is important because Schmeiser has become a major figure in the anti-GE movement, lecturing widely on the wrongs done him by Monsanto." (E/The Environmental Magazine)

Schmeiser has already been adjudged a liar and a thief - rightly, unless you believe he "accidentally" achieved some 98% RR type purity in his crop. He has an interesting habit of changing his story too, claiming at first that passing trucks "spilled" the offending seed (over his entire crop) and then that he deliberately and knowingly planted patented seed but that it was his traditional right as a farmer to steal rather than pay royalties on Monsanto's intellectual property. Some of his peers apparently disagreed and tipped off Monsanto.

"Brazil soy exporters to pay GM royalty 2004 - Monsanto" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil - Biotech giant Monsanto said it expects Brazilian soybean exporters to pay royalties as of 2004 for shipments of the company's genetically modified "Roundup Ready" soybeans." (Reuters)

June 12, 2003

In case of grey goo: "Science inquiry asks if small is beautiful" - "The government yesterday launched a study of the possible benefits and risks of a technology that is beginning to revolutionise science." (The Guardian)

"We must not be blinded by science" - "Nanotechnology will revolutionise our lives - it should be regulated" (Caroline Lucas, The Guardian) [Caroline Lucas is a Green party MEP]

"EU Commission launches campaign to reduce pollution-induced illnesses" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's executive Commission launched a long-term program to curb the incidents of pollution-induced allergies, respiratory diseases and cases of asthma.

The program, in effect from 2004 to 2010, will consist of research establishing links between the environment and health, such as the effects of various forms of pollution on the human body.

According to the European environmental agency, one in seven children in Europe suffer from asthma -- an increase in cases over the past 30 years for which environmental neglect is held accountable." (AFP)

"Even safe mercury levels harm brain" - "Low levels of mercury are already thought to damage the nervous systems of fetuses and babies. Now, a study in Brazil suggests that adults may be just as sensitive to mercury as children, and that current levels regarded as safe for adults could in fact be impairing their brain function. Some researchers are dismissing the study as too small." (New Scientist)

"How safe is your food?" - "BRUSSELS The dangers lurk in the unlikeliest places. In dishcloths, for example. A recent survey of restaurants and cafés in Britain recently found that 9 out of 10 dishcloths were contaminated with potentially harmful microbes. On supermarket meat counters. When scientists investigated ground beef, turkey, chicken and pork in Washington supermarkets a couple of years ago, they found salmonella in one-fifth of the samples, with 85 percent of those pathogens resistant to at least one kind of antibiotic. No wonder eggs sunny side up and rare hamburgers are now officially unsafe. But just how dangerous is the food we eat?" (International Herald Tribune)

"Obesity: Individual Problem Demands Individual Responsibility" - "Center for Consumer Freedom Executive Director Rick Berman joined Twinkie-taxer Kelly Brownell on a panel yesterday to discuss "remedies" for America's "obesity epidemic." Brownell began by saying that his presentation was a "very superficial analysis" and complaining that ConsumerFreedom.com calls him nasty names. Berman countered by saying CCF "affectionately" refers to people like Brownell and Center for Science in the Public Interest president Michael Jacobson as the food police. Good times were had by all." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"INTERVIEW - Cameco CEO predicts comeback for nuclear power" - "TORONTO - Nuclear energy's time may have come - again. Touted in the 1950s and 1960s as the answer to the world's energy problems, then vilified for the Chernobyl (1986) and Three Mile Island (1979) disasters, nuclear energy is poised for a comeback, according to Gerald Grandey, chief executive of Cameco Corp., the world's biggest uranium producer." (Reuters)

"Natural gas in dangerous decline, says analyst" - "CALGARY - Gas production and drilling results in Western Canada have been so "dreadful" in recent months almost no amount of drilling can overcome production declines in the next few years, according to a report by FirstEnergy Capital Corp.

Martin King, commodities analyst for the energy investment specialist, said poor drilling and poor production results in the last months of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, despite a large industry push to find new reserves, mean the industry won't be able to halt accelerating decline rates.

"Overall, the best characterization of the latest five to six months of gas production results in Western Canada would be: dreadful," Mr. King wrote in a report to clients. "Given the limitations of the drilling fleet and the supply of capital within the basin, we believe that almost no amount of drilling can now be achieved to overcome steady natural gas production declines in the next few years." (Financial Post)

"Scientists develop GM 'protato' to feed India's poorest children" - "The Indian government raised the global biotechnology stakes yesterday by saying it intended to feed "nutritionally enhanced" GM potatoes to poor children as early as next year. But objectors claimed that the plan, which relies on the potatoes being scientifically approved, was risky and naive, and would barely impact on malnutrition. Scientists claim the controversial potato, known as the "protato", contains at least a third more protein than normal tubers, and that it holds "high-quality nutrients." (The Guardian)

"Scientists find modified foods are safe to eat" - "Genetically modified crops are safe to eat but scientists have more doubts over their long-term environmental impacts, according to the largest-ever review of the evidence surrounding agricultural biotechnology. Regulators will also have to tighten loopholes, improve monitoring and become more transparent to maintain public confidence in the technology, says the report, published yesterday." (Financial Times)

"ICSU releases GMO synthesis report" - "The International Council for Science (ICSU) today announced the release of a new report entitled New Genetics, Food and Agriculture: Scientific Discoveries - Societal Dilemmas. A synthesis of more than 50 science-based reviews, the report assesses the risks and benefits of applying new genetic discoveries to food and agriculture. It deals with key questions such as who needs GM foods? Are they safe to eat? Are regulations adequate?" (International Council for Science)

"Europe's stand on GM crops 'hitting the poor'" - "THE European Union is ignoring a “moral imperative” to promote genetically modified crops for their great potential for helping the developing world, Britain’s most respected scientific ethics group said yesterday. Tough import and labelling regulations are deterring poor countries from growing GM produce, even though their farmers stand to gain more from the technology than any other group, according to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics." (The Times)

June 11, 2003

"UK study doubts power line, leukaemia link" - "LONDON - The type of magnetic field produced by power lines does not cause a gene-repair defect that can lead to cancer, British researchers said on Tuesday. The findings add to scientific evidence that power lines and electrical appliances probably do not lead to childhood leukaemia, Dr. David Lloyd and colleagues report in the British Journal of Cancer. "Studies like ours have so far failed to uncover a pathway by which magnetic fields could cause childhood leukaemia -- and it's looking probable that none exists," Lloyd said in a statement." (Reuters Health)

"Atmospheric mercury has declined -- But why?" - "The amount of gaseous mercury in the atmosphere has dropped sharply from its peak in the 1980s and has remained relatively constant since the mid 1990s. Scientists who have just concluded a study of atmospheric mercury say they cannot reconcile the amounts actually found with current understanding of natural and manmade sources of the element." (AGU)

Kyoto propaganda du jour: Correspondence received - "In November 2002 I sent an email to most of the members of the Canadian government questioning their decision to endorse the Kyoto protocol.  The few who actually replied simply referred me to the Government of Canada Climate Change website.  However, much to my surprise today I received the following reply from the office of David Anderson, Canada's minister of the environment.  I was also surprised when in his letter he stated that the "skeptics" of climate change have limited expertise and are guilty of "selective use of a few scientific papers".  Not only that, their arguments have been "thoroughly refuted by the broader global science."  Of course the IPCC's conclusions are beyond reproach and their climate models are just fine, thank you very much.  Well, you can read the whole reply for yourself, which I have attached to this email. The powers of Junk Science are strong indeed." Click here for Anderson's reply

Aha! If model & data disagree, change the data! "For the first time, satellite data support theory of global warming" - "WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - For nearly a decade, critics who dispute global warming have pointed to a single source of data to prove climate change isn't real: satellite measurements of the atmosphere's temperature.

But a new analysis of satellite-based temperatures has thrown doubt onto their decade-old conclusion that Earth's atmosphere isn't warming.

The inquiry by a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company shows significant warming of the upper atmosphere. The temperature rise is nine times larger than shown in previous studies and meshes more closely with other global warming findings, like melting glaciers, warming oceans and, perhaps most importantly, computer models of global climate." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

"Climate Change Places Development Targets at Risk; New report urges rich nations to take leadership role" - "BONN, June 9, 2003—Development efforts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) to reduce poverty by 50 percent by 2015, and to sustain progress beyond, are at risk because of the adverse impacts of climate change on the livelihoods of poor people in developing countries, especially because of the changes in the availability of natural resources, according to a report released today by the World Bank and nine other bilateral and multilateral development-oriented institutions, during the meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)." (World Bank)

"Russia must end uncertainty over Kyoto-UN" - "BONN, Germany, June 10 - Russia should end the uncertainty over whether it will ratify the Kyoto Protocol and finally say when it plans to accept the international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a U.N. official said. Most industrial nations, with the notable exception of the United States, the world's biggest polluter, have ratified the 1997 protocol which seeks to reduce richer nations' emissions of gases blamed for global warming. But the targets to bring such emissions below 1990 levels by 2012 will only take effect if Russia signs up." (Reuters)

"Global Terrestrial Productivity in the Last Decades of the 20th Century" - "Summary: In a world of increasing environmental pressures produced by the expanding human population of the globe, it would seem almost a foregone conclusion that the world's plant life would be fighting a losing battle to preserve both its productivity and planetary presence. Appearances, however, can sometimes be deceiving." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Health Effects of Temperature (Hot Weather)" - "Summary: Will global warming spawn mass episodes of heat-related deaths? Of course they will … according to climate alarmists. But when real-world data are carefully analyzed, a very different conclusion is reached." (co2science.org)

"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants - Miscellaneous)" - "Summary: Oak, pine and sour orange trees have been studied intensively with respect to their long-term response to atmospheric CO2 enrichment by many different scientists. A number of other plants, however, have only been investigated once or twice in this regard. This summary is devoted to those less-studied species." (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Tropical Cyclone Trends" - "Summary: How bad have they become over the last century or more of what climate alarmists call "unprecedented" global warming? The popular media says the trends are disastrous and their implications catastrophic. So do many governments. So do international insurers. Science, however -- not the magazine, but the rational pursuit of truth -- says something quite different. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 84: 635-644." (co2science.org)

"In Search of a Mechanism for the Weak Solar Forcing of Climate" - "Summary: How close are we getting to finding one that works? What are we learning in the interim? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016650." (co2science.org)

"The Climate History of the Holocene as Recorded in German Stalagmites" - "Summary: What does it tell us about the Modern Warm Period? Quaternary Science Reviews 22: 555-567." (co2science.org)

"CO2 Assimilation by a Wetland Sedge" - "Summary: Marsh plants are nothing to sneeze at when it comes to sequestering carbon. Functional Ecology 17: 222-230." (co2science.org)

"Rice in Sri Lanka: Photosynthesis and Transpiration Responses to Elevated CO2" - "Summary: It takes water to produce food. But it need not take more water to produce more food in the future. Scientists in Sri Lanka demonstrate how it will happen. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 189: 71-82." (co2science.org)

"US high court to decide local diesel vehicle ban" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court said it would decide whether a federal clean air law pre-empted California regulations that prohibit the purchase of new diesel-fueled vehicles. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, a local air-quality district for the Los Angeles area, adopted the rules in 2000. They prohibit operators of a fleet of 15 or more vehicles from purchasing new diesel-fueled vehicles." (Reuters)

"Bush admin warns of shrinking US natgas supply" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said this week it sees only "limited opportunities" to boost dwindling natural gas supplies over the next 12-18 months and called for conservation to head off a summer shortage." (Reuters)

"Greenpeace tells coal industry to shut up shop" - "International environmental watchdog Greenpeace yesterday called on the coal industry to stop producing coal and to invest instead in clean and renewable energy. "The coal industry bears a heavy responsibility in inflicting damage to the environment," a Greenpeace statement quoted one of its activists as telling a conference of coal companies in Bali." (AFP)

"UK power up, focus on margins, emissions rules" - "LONDON - British forward electricity prices rose on concerns about tighter supplies this winter and the impact of tougher emissions rules for coal power stations which will come into force in 2005. "There are fundamental concerns about margins this winter. A shortness of supply could cause high prices in January and February," said a trader at a large generator." (Reuters)

"GM crops 'good for developing countries'" - "Genetically modified (GM) crops can contribute substantially to improving agriculture in developing countries, an independent scientific think-tank has concluded. In a discussion paper out on Tuesday to coincide with a national GM debate in the UK, the influential Nuffield Council on Bio-ethics says the technology has the potential to increase crop yields and improve the livelihoods of poor people. The need to feed an ever-increasing global population is the GM lobby's most powerful argument for why European nations should invest in research into GM and open up their markets to GM products." (BBC News Online)

June 10, 2003

"British Scientist Puts Odds for Apocalypse at 50-50" - "LOS ANGELES - This is the way the world might end: A genetically engineered pathogen is released, debris from an erupting "supervolcano" blocks the sun or scientists in the biggest "bioerror" of them all accidentally trigger a matter-squeezing "big bang."

The demise of civilization has been predicted since it began, but the odds of keeping Planet Earth alive and well are getting worse amid a breakneck pace of scientific advances, according to Martin Rees, Britain's honorary astronomer royal." (Reuters)

"Vaccines fueling autism epidemic? Report: U.S. infants exposed to mercury beyond EPA, FDA limits" - "The mother of an autistic child wonders aloud when health officials will wake up to the epidemic that has claimed not only her son but hundreds of thousands of other children in the United States, with no end in sight. She muses, "Maybe someday this will be as important as SARS and we'll get the same attention. God knows we need it." (WorldNetDaily)

"Vehicle traffic associated with increased carcinogen levels" - "Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have learned that assessing a community's cancer risk could be as simple as counting the number of trucks and cars that pass through the neighborhood. The findings are relevant for urban communities where people live close to high volume roadways. The researchers identified a significant association between vehicle traffic and curbside concentrations of carcinogens benzene, 1,3-butadiene and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)." (Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health)

"Rich Countries' Greenhouse Gas Emissions Ballooning" - "BONN, Germany, June 9, 2003 - The emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from Europe, Japan, the United States and other industrialized countries could grow by 17 percent from 2000 to 2010, despite measures in place to curb them, according to a new United Nations report. Greenhouse gases blanket the Earth, trapping the Sun's heat close to the planet's surface." (ENS)

"Pollution fights 'global warming'? Study finds smoke protects planet from greenhouse gases" - "It turns out there's a silver lining to the cloud of smog that drapes large cities around the world, as an international team of atmospheric scientists conclude pollution protects the planet from "global warming." (WorldNetDaily)

"UN climate body dampens hope as rejects projects" - "BONN, Germany - A United Nations climate change body has held its first review of projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions around the globe - and failed to approve a single one." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - Thailand to grow more palm for alternative fuel" - "BANGKOK - Thailand will spend nearly $200 million to more than double its palm oil production in the next four years and promote its use as an alternative fuel for vehicles to reduce diesel consumption, a minister said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Bioengineered food can't be forced down Europeans' throats" - "President Bush's full-bore tactics to overwhelm European objections to bioengineered food are overblown and prone to backfire. While we appreciate the good that crops such as "golden rice," infused with daffodil genes for extra vitamin A, may do to nourish people, fears over food safety and altering farmland and natural habitats are legitimate and must be reasoned through with persuasive scientific evidence." (The News Journal)

"Let's do a Monsanto" - "The government says that it wants a 'great debate' about GM - we must call its bluff" (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

June 9, 2003

"Potatoes feared as diabetes trigger" - "Australian researchers have found that mothers who eat vegetables such as potatoes and turnips when pregnant could increase their child's risk of developing diabetes. It has long been suspected that there is an environmental trigger for type 1 diabetes, but only now have researchers found a possible cause. The culprit is bafilomycin, a toxin found in some bacteria called streptomyces that infect vegetables such as potatoes, sugar beets, turnips and radishes." (The Australian) | Potatoes during pregnancy linked to juvenile diabetes (Sydney Morning Herald)

"The Invisible Hand's Green Thumb" - "Adam Smith may not have known it at the time he penned his famous phrase, but it's turning out that the invisible hand happens to have a green thumb.

A growing body of research supports a controversial proposition, one that's forcing environmentalists and the general public to rethink long-held views on business, markets, energy use, technology and the environment. The proposition is that, as the subtitle of an important new book puts it, "poverty, not affluence, is the environment's number one enemy." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

"Climate change hits butterfly habitats" - "Britain's butterflies are being hit by a double whammy of climate change and changing land use, scientists have warned. A survey has revealed that dozens of the rarest types are in severe decline. Removal of their habitats has prevented the butterflies spreading their wings and moving north to take advantage of the warmer and wetter weather." (The Guardian)

Uh-oh! "Plants Prospering From Climate Change" - "WASHINGTON, DC, June 6, 2003 - Climate change during the past two decades has improved conditions for much of the world's plant life and the Earth is now a greener place as a result, finds a new study published today. Global changes in temperature, rainfall and cloud cover have given plants more heat, water and sunlight in areas where climatic conditions once limited growth, according to the study jointly funded by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.

The study finds that in general, for the period 1982 to 1999, areas where temperatures restricted plant growth, it became warmer; where sunlight was needed, clouds dissipated; and where it was too dry, more rain fell." (ENS)

Now even the Environment News Service has gone and publicised it - the biosphere actually prospers under global less-colding* (regardless of causation)! So, given that there appears no dispute that glaciations (ice ages) are not biosphere kind, while warm episodes certainly are, what possible application of logic could suggest that massive effort, at unbearable expense and human suffering, should be applied to preventing or reducing less-colding?

* Some have written to ask why I refer to the dread "global warming" as "global less-colding" so, for those who may have missed much of the early discussion on this ridiculous topic, here it is in very brief form:

  • Even if it is true that global mean temperature is increasing significantly (although this might be no more than measurement error induced by increasing urban bias in the measurement - and there is significant evidence to suggest this is so), global maxima appear largely unaffected while super-cold minima appear to be moderating.
  • Example: a region with an average maximum of +10°C and average minimum of -50°C has a mean temperature of -20°C while, should the average max temp remain the same and the average min rise to -30°C, has a mean temp of -10°C. According to professional hand-wringers and distopians, that's a disastrous +10°C warming - to me, it's a beneficial less-colding since maxima are largely unchanged while lethal cold is less bitter.
  • To apply that: the majority of demonstrable temperature change is in super-cold winter air masses and nocturnal minima with little disturbance of warm air mass and/or diurnal temperature - hence "less-colding" as opposed "warming."

"Hot? Blame the pavement; Researchers indicate city's blacktop fuels rain, smog, warmth" - "With a pave-it-all mentality, Houston is clearly warmer than the surrounding plains, its asphalt-covered roads and roofs storing heat and stoking summer's fiery temperatures by up to 9 degrees. But now there's evidence Houston's blacktop makes the city a wetter place, too. Scientists say nearly half as much more rain is falling in some areas because of this self-heating." (Houston Chronicle)

"Getting the Cows to Cool It" - "Cattle are a prodigious source of methane, a major contributor to global warming. Scientists are at work on some remedies." (Los Angeles Times)

"USDA Teaming with Farmers to Fight Global Warming" - "BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is setting up incentives for farmers to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the battle against global warming, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said on Friday. Veneman said the USDA will provide an unspecified amount of financial incentives for farmers, as well as technical assistance and training in management practices to increase the removal of harmful carbon dioxide and other gases from the atmosphere, a process called "carbon sequestration." (Reuters)

"Last Man Standing" - "Now that the European Union, Japan and Canada have signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, with the USA and Australia opting out, all eyes are now on the `last man standing' - Russia. The protocol cannot come into legal effect until Russia ratifies it. If they refuse to do so, the protocol and all the bureaucratic carbon trading structures it envisaged are dead." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Nice Nukes" - "Twenty-three years after Sweden voted in a referendum to phase out nuclear power as soon as possible, it's still needed. Vast amounts of money will be poured into nuclear reactors to upgrade them." (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"'Natural' isn't better" - "The Emperor was much admired by his courtiers when he paraded in his new clothes. They had all been taken in by the scheming tailors who claimed that their clothes were of such fine quality that only those with the most refined taste could appreciate them.

Like all good fairy tales, this one tells us much about the frailty of human nature, particularly our readiness to believe the most fantastic claims if the marketing is good enough.

A modern example - which also happens to involve a Royal - is organic food, sales of which are expanding rapidly despite being much more expensive than conventionally produced food. Its success must be partly down to Prince Charles, who is a strong and vocal supporter. Yet organic food appears no different from ordinary food, and tastes no different when put through properly controlled blind trials." (Geoffrey Hollis, sp!ked)

"Federal study finds toxins in baby food" - "Health Canada scientists have found that most cereal-based baby foods, usually the first solid meals given to infants, regularly contain multiple mycotoxins, potentially harmful moulds more often associated with sick building syndrome.

The department's Bureau of Chemical Safety is in the midst of a health hazard assessment of the findings of the study of infant cereals that tested 363 products -- including cereal mixes, teething biscuits and creamed corn -- bought in stores across Canada.

The tests even found ergot alkaloids, the fungus from which the hallucinogen LSD is derived.

"They are still examining the results in more detail but [Health Canada officials] did indicate to me that there is nothing that represents anything alarming from a health and safety standpoint in the data," said Margot Geduld, Health Canada spokeswoman." (National Post)

Hmm... maybe they should mandate biotech-enhanced (Bt protected?) grains since less insect damage generally equates to lower mycotoxin levels.

"Genetically-altered foods now a staple" - "MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Once a tiny kink in the food chain, genetically modified foods have become a staple in America's diet. Almost one-third of all corn planted in Wisconsin this spring will come from genetically-altered varieties. Among soybeans, nearly 80 percent of the crop will be genetically modified. Nationwide, some 40 different crops are approved for commercial use, according to the Council for Biotechnology Information. These crops are increasingly becoming ingredients in everything from soups to pizzas to soft drinks. "We eat genetically modified foods every day," said C. Neal Stewart, a plant geneticist at the University of Tennessee. "If you have any romantic notions about natural foods, lose them." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

"Genetically modified crops? Not in my backfield" - "The GM debate: Americans are already free to sit down to a complete GM dinner, but should we have the same choice in Britain? As the Government prepares to publish the results of its crop trials, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall comes out fighting for nature" (The Observer)

"My case for science and sense" - "Observer science editor Robin McKie puts the case for genetically modified food" (The Observer)

"Expert View: GM and the real food for thought" - "On Tuesday the National GM Debate was launched in Birmingham. At the first evening of the planned six-week discussion, which attracted some 180 participants, the organisers at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs were rather encouraged by it all. However, it remains to be proved that the debate is actually needed." (Ragnar Lofstedt, Independent)

"GM feed alert over organic chickens" - "A farmer was forced to dump more than 1,200 organic chickens after they were illegally fed on genetically modified soya beans, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

It is the first time that organic food has been stopped from going on sale in Britain because of GM contamination - alarming environmentalists and food safety groups.

The affected soya beans came from Italy, in breach of a European Union ban on the sale of any GM crops to farmers and consumers." (Independent)

"Greenpeacers lock Mba research station gates over genetically modified wheat" - "MORDEN, Man. - About 15 Greenpeace demonstrators locked themselves inside an agricultural research station Thursday to protest the facility's testing of genetically modified wheat.

"We want to let people know about the risks that GE (genetically engineered) wheat pose to the environment and pose to Canadian farmers and to let the Canadian government know that we will not let them carry on these close ties they have with Monsanto," said Holly Penfound, one of the protesters.

Monsanto Canada is an arm of multinational biotech giant Monsanto in St. Louis. Monsanto has developed wheat and canola varieties known as Roundup Ready because they are resistant to the herbicide. That makes if easier for farmers to control weeds.

Environmentalists have concerns the genetically modified strains may not be safe for human or animal consumption. They also fear the strains will contaminate general grain production." (CP)

June 6, 2003

"Cancer Miracle or Mirage?" - "The announcement of a new cancer drug, Avastin, has perked up investors' ears; there's a lot of hype but are there results?" (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Exploiting Chemical Fears" - "War profiteers" are those who use military conflict to make a quick buck or push an agenda that would fail in peacetime. That describes various extremist environmental groups and their champion, New Jersey Democratic Senator Jon Corzine." (Michael Fumento, Scripps Howard News Service)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT, June 4, 2003 Vol. 4, No.11" - "Even as the curtain rises on what is predicted to be a season of more frequent hurricanes than the U.S. recently has experienced, we offer for consideration yet another major study that is unable to find a link between global warming and increasing tropical storm and hurricane frequency or intensity. This one comes from Raghavan and Rajesh in the May 2003 edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS)." (GES)

"World's vegetation is cleaning more carbon from skies" - "Twenty-year study finds trend is strongest in Amazon region, surprising researchers. (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Australia steps up controls on greenhouse gases" - "CANBERRA - Australia will step up controls on synthetic greenhouse gases - which do less harm to the environment than traditional gases - but the government says it will still not ratify a global deal on climate change." (Reuters)

"Spain off target for greenhouse gas emissions" - "MADRID - Spain said its greenhouse gas emissions had risen 34.8 percent between 1990 and 2000, showing the country is far from reaching international targets for taming pollution. Under the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations pact to tackle global warming, the European Union has promised to cut emissions to eight percent below 1990 levels by the end of the decade." (Reuters)

"City Cleared on Making Diesel-Soot Study" - "New York City does not have to study the health effects of soot from diesel sanitation trucks, the state's highest court ruled yesterday. Beginning in 1999, in preparation for the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, the city used diesel trucks to transport waste from Manhattan to New Jersey. The New York attorney general, Eliot L. Spitzer, argued that the city should have studied the environmental impact of particulate emissions of 2.5 microns or less. Instead, the city studied larger emissions. The state appeals court found yesterday that at the time, there was no technologically feasible method to evaluate the smaller emissions." (New York Times)

"Fear over GM crops may be disregarded" - "Strong public opposition to genetically modified crops in the series of debates that began this week would not stop them being planted commercially in Britain, Margaret Beckett acknowledged yesterday. Under European law the Government cannot use public opposition as a reason to ban GM crops. But it is holding public meetings designed to allow people to air their views over whether they should be grown." (Independent)

"Green Group Questions UK Govt's Neutral GM Stance" - "LONDON - Green campaigners questioned on Thursday whether the government was truly neutral on genetically modified (GM) crops, saying ministers highlighted GM's potential benefits while overlooking many of the public's concerns." (Reuters)

"Margaret Beckett: GM has not polluted the Government" - "From a speech by the Environment Secretary to the Green Alliance conference at the Royal Society, in London" (Independent)

"Frankenfoods v Luddites: Greens may squawk, but bio-engineered crops are coming" - "“GM NATION?” No, thanks. Few people have a kind word for the government-sponsored debate on genetically modified crops that kicked off in Birmingham on June 3rd. Scientists complain that it gives a platform to Luddites, paranoiacs and assorted fuzzy thinkers. Green pressure groups argue, loudly, that the whole thing is a smokescreen. They reckon the offending seeds will soon be planted, and no arguments—or evidence of popular disquiet—can do anything about it.

Both sides are right. The debate is an unholy mess—hardly surprising, since the government cannot decide what it thinks. Michael Meacher, the environment minister and an isolated GM sceptic, appears to be using the green lobby to leverage his own position. He has insisted that the public must be consulted on such technical issues as whether GM technology poses a threat to the organic food industry. Yet Mr Meacher and his friends are doomed. Like it or not, Frankenfoods are coming." (The Economist)

"Biotech corn gets state's approval" - "A French company can grow the state's first produce destined for the medicine cabinet - a test crop of pharmaceutical corn - on 30 acres somewhere in Phillips County, the state Agriculture Department decided Wednesday. The recommendation, by a three-member review panel, paves the way for Meristem Therapeutics to plant genetically modified corn in far northeast Colorado." (Denver Post)

"GM label rules head to vote" - "A committee that has spent more than three years trying to devise rules for voluntarily labelling of genetically modified food may be on the verge of success. Doryne Peace, chair of a Canadian General Standards Board committee on GM labeling, told a House of Commons committee May 28 that a stalemate over labelling standards may have been broken at an early May meeting. The 53 members of the industry-government committee will be asked to vote in June on the latest version of the proposed rules." (The Western Producer)

June 5, 2003

"Scientists starve malaria parasite" - "Scientists have discovered a way to kill the malaria parasite - by targeting its sweet tooth. Malaria kills 3,000 children every day and the parasite that causes the disease is becoming harder to treat as it develops resistance to more and more drugs. So scientists are striving to come up with new ways to combat the killer." (BBC News Online)

"Fish is not always 'brain food'" - "Warnings about methylmercury contaminated fish are not just for young children and expectant mothers, according to new research published today in Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source. Adults who regularly eat contaminated fish could find that their concentration, dexterity and verbal memory are impaired." (BioMed Central)

"Pediatricians call for more action on phthalates" - "NEW YORK - An organization of U.S. pediatricians is calling for further research into the effects on children of chemicals used to make fragrances last longer and soften plastic in toys and medical tubes. The chemicals, known as phthalates, have been linked in previous studies to birth defects and other harmful effects in animals, according to the report, published in the June issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)." (Reuters Health)

"Limits Urged on Possible Cancer-Causer" - "WASHINGTON - A consumer group wants the government to force makers of french fries and other foods to reduce levels of a possibly cancer-causing substance in their products. The substance, called acrylamide, made headlines last year when it was discovered in fries, potato chips and other high-carbohydrate foods cooked at high temperatures. Junk food's not the only culprit: The Food and Drug Administration later found fairly high acrylamide levels in foods from breakfast cereal to coffee. While acrylamide causes cancer in animals, scientists haven't yet proven if people really are at risk — and if so, what is a safe level. So while the FDA encourages manufacturers to look for ways to lower acrylamide levels in food, it hasn't yet ordered reductions." (AP)

"CORE Problem" - "NEW YORK - Greenpeace, the radical international environmentalist group, recently came under attack from an unusual source. The organization that has spent decades attacking the institutions of capitalism wasn't attacked by the oil or chemicals industry, but by the New York based Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In what is increasingly a black and white issue, CORE charges Greenpeace with being racist and keeping Africa poor, sick and underdeveloped." (Richard Tren, TCS)

"Greens glum as World Environment Day heads for 30th anniversary" - "PARIS - Ecologists sounded a note of dismay on the eve of the 30th United Nations World Environment Day, an annual event aimed at boosting awareness about the planet's deteriorating health." (AFP)

"Prince asks scientists to look into 'grey goo'" - "Fears by the Prince of Wales that armies of microscopic robots could turn the face of the planet into an uninhabitable wasteland have prompted the nation's top scientists and engineers to launch an inquiry.

Having attacked GM foods in the past, Prince Charles has more recently turned his attention to nanotechnology, the ability to manipulate matter at scales of billionths of a metre.

Concerned by claims by environmentalists that swarms of rogue "nanomachines" could one day reduce all in their path to "grey goo", the prince has asked the Royal Society to help him to weigh up the risks." (Daily Telegraph)

"Farm run-off linked to Barrier Reef damage" - "Inspired by the population studies that found a link between smoking and lung cancer, reef scientists have compiled what could be the most compelling evidence yet that farming is harming the Great Barrier Reef." (New Scientist)

Also from New Sensationalist: "Global warming's sooty smokescreen revealed" - "Smoke is clouding our view of global warming, protecting the planet from perhaps three-quarters of the greenhouse effect. That might sound like good news, but experts say that as the cover diminishes in coming decades, we are in for a dramatic escalation of warming that could be two or even three times as great as official best guesses." (New Scientist)

"Researchers make holiday plans in Milan" - "Each year about 100 million people head for the Mediterranean with leisure on their minds. It is the world's biggest tourist movement but it could soon be a thing of the past. "The Mediterranean will become too hot for summer tourism," says environmental economist Bas Amelung of the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands." (NSU)

"Three States Sue EPA Over Carbon Dioxide" - "BOSTON - Three states filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, arguing the agency is failing to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, which they say is required by the Clean Air Act." (Reuters)

"Bill to Reduce Greenhouse Gases Fuels Policy Debate" - "When United States Senators Joseph Lieberman and John McCain introduced a bill earlier this year to limit the emission of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, they infused new energy into the debate over U.S. policy on global warming.

The legislation would set a nationwide cap on pollution from factories, businesses, power plants and gas burning vehicles, which collectively produce 80 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the bill is controversial because it sets mandatory emission-reduction goals that the Bush administration hopes to reach through voluntary means." (VOA News)

Full of all the usual misinformation: "The United States is responsible for 25 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions..." Um, in a word, no - total anthropogenic GHG emission is something less than one-fifth of the amount cited for the US alone (the vast majority is all-singing, all-dancing, all natural) and North America is a net carbon sink (a consumer of atmospheric CO2), so the US is not responsible for rising atmospheric carbon levels. The attempt to reclassify the essential trace gas, CO2, as an atmospheric pollutant is merely irritating nonsense.

"Common Sense" - "Recently, the House International Relations Committee approved a "Sense of Congress" resolution, introduced by Rep. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), that embraces the Kyoto Protocol's vision of an impending climate catastrophe, advocates Kyoto-style energy suppression policies, and implicitly scolds President Bush for withdrawing from the Kyoto negotiations. That's the bad news.

House leaders kept such language out of the final version of the State Department authorization bill last year, and are likely to do so again this year. That's the good news.

However, public policy is a protracted struggle, and the partisans of energy rationing are relentless. To win the long-term battle for hearts and minds, friends of affordable energy must go on the offensive. For starters, they should fight fire with fire, explaining via their own Sense of Congress resolutions why the Kyoto paradigm of climate alarmism and energy rationing is a dangerous delusion." (Marlo Lewis, Jr., TCS)

"Windmills Sow Dissent for Environmentalists" - "Proponents of wind farms view those who oppose them as heretics, obstructing the promise of clean renewable energy, while opponents decry them as producing insufficient power to warrant their blight on the landscape.

For now, the wind farm here is the largest east of the Mississippi, but the wind-energy industry, long a staple of the California landscape, is blowing eastward. Unobstructed winds, favorable economics and the absence of local zoning laws are attracting developers, and soon more than 400 turbines could be sprouting across 40 square miles of West Virginia's most scenic mountaintops." (New York Times)

"Czechs prefer coal, nuclear in energy plan to 2030" - "PRAGUE - The Czech Republic will look to increase its dependence on coal and nuclear plants for its energy needs to 2030, a draft strategy presented by Industry Ministry showed. Deputy Industry Minister Martin Pecina unveiled the main points of the strategy at an Energy Forum in Prague, saying the country should do as much as it can to limit its future dependence on imports of energy resources." (Reuters)

"Science, Anybody?" - "When the British public recently voted Winston Churchill as the Greatest Briton Ever, it confirmed something we have long known: our achievements in mathematics, science and literature pale in comparison to the bristle of British bulldog tenacity." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"EU Ratifies U.N. Biosafety Protocol" - "STRASBOURG, France - The European Union Parliament ratified a three-year-old U.N. biosafety protocol regulating international trade in genetically modified food Wednesday. The protocol lets countries ban imports of a genetically modified product if they feel there is not enough scientific evidence the product is safe and requires exporters to label shipments containing genetically altered commodities such as corn or cotton. The EU Parliament's move opens the way for EU governments to give the U.N. accord, negotiated three years ago in Montreal, Canada, legal effect throughout the 15-nation bloc later this month." (AP)

"Chicken company defends products after GE claim" - "Chicken company Inghams Enterprises today declared its products free of genetic engineering (GE), after a claim by Greenpeace that tests on a product had revealed GE soy ingredients. (New Zealand Herald)

"Spanish farmers plough lone GM furrow in Europe" - "LISBON - Spanish farmers, alone in Europe, already grow gene-modified crops on a commercial scale and would gladly plant more if U.S. efforts force the European Union to ease restrictions on biotechnology." (Reuters)

"Top UK miller to cut North American wheat if GM okayed" - "LONDON - Britain's biggest flour miller Rank Hovis said this week it would stop using North American wheat if the United States or Canada began commercial planting of GM varieties as it might contaminate non-GM grain during shipment.
Hovis' Wheat Director Peter Jones said if large-scale opposition to genetically modified (GM) food continued among Britons, Hovis would have to import high-protein grain from countries such as Germany or Australia to avoid gene altered material creeping into its bread." (Reuters)

June 4, 2003

"Activist Resigns as McDonald's Takes 'Green' Seat" - "WASHINGTON, Jun 3 - The recent appointment of fast food giant McDonald's to the advisory board of an environmental group has drawn accusations of ''green washing'' from environmentalists and led one board member to resign in protest. But both the company and the group strongly deny the accusations.

Paul Hawken, a well-known activist and environmentalist respected for his strong opposition to corporate globalisation, resigned two weeks ago from the Green Business Network (GBN), a Washington-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that says it is working to make businesses adopt better environmental practices." (IPS)

"Rich nations to emit more greenhouse gases, says U.N." - "BERLIN — The world's most industrialized countries will increase their emissions of the gases blamed for global warming by 17 percent this decade, a setback after a near stabilization in the 1990s, a U.N. report said Tuesday. The predicted increase comes despite international efforts to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, and experts said nations needed to do more. "These findings clearly demonstrate that stronger and more creative policies will be needed," said Joke Waller-Hunt, executive secretary of the U.N. climate change convention." (Reuters)

"No State Shall..." - "Six New England states are usurping the federal treaty power in the name of addressing climate change. Neither the President nor the Congress has been willing to defend their constitutionally delegated powers from this usurpation. The result is bad policy and bad precedent. " (Jon Reisman, TCS)

"On Assessing Surface Air Temperature Trends" - "Summary: Just how much has the planet warmed over the past century? A new way of evaluating surface air temperature trends that removes the warming effects of intensifying urban heat islands and land use changes suggests that the answer to this question is much less than is typically claimed by climate alarmists and probably totally unrelated to the concomitant rise in the air's CO2 concentration." (co2science.org)

Subject Index Summaries:
"Decadal-Scale Climate Oscillations (North America)" - "Summary: What can they tell us about climatic trends of the past few decades? Until we can confidently answer this question, it is premature to blithely attribute recent climate change to anthropogenic causes." (co2science.org)

"Long-Term Studies (Woody Plants – Sour Orange Trees)" - "Summary: A CO2-enrichment study of sour orange trees has been in progress at Phoenix, Arizona since 1987. What have we learned from this experiment about the temporal evolution of the consequences of the aerial fertilization effect of elevated CO2 in the life of a long-lived woody plant?" (co2science.org)

Current Journal Reviews:
"Convective Available Potential Energy: Mistreated by Models" - "Summary: An atmospheric property that is "a potential indicator of climate change," is treated in such a way by modern climate models that it cannot be reproduced by them, even when forced with data that should prescribe its trends. Journal of Geophysical Research 107: 10.1029/2001JD001082." (co2science.org)

"Arctic Ocean Temperature Variability" - "Summary: What does a knowledge of its true long-term nature reveal about the "extraordinary" warming of the Arctic Ocean in recent decades? Geophysical Research Letters 30: 10.1029/2002GL016441." (co2science.org)

"Six Years of CO2 Enrichment of a Nutrient-Poor Grassland" - "Summary: Natural or semi-natural grasslands cover a large part of earth's terrestrial surface. How will they respond to atmospheric CO2 enrichment where soils are low in nutrients and precipitation might possibly be somewhat reduced? Global Change Biology 9: 585-600." (co2science.org)

"CO2 Effects on Late-Season Photosynthesis of Sweetgum Trees" - "Summary: This latest research report in a continuing set of studies of the net photosynthetic response of sweetgum trees that have been exposed to an extra 200 ppm of CO2 since August 1996 reveals they are not exhibiting any down-regulation of their enhanced ability to capture and remove carbon from the atmosphere. Tree Physiology 23: 109-118." (co2science.org)

"Rice in Sri Lanka: Its Growth and Yield Response to Elevated CO2" - "Summary: Will the warm, subhumid climate of the tropical island off the southern tip of India be conducive to the yield-enhancing effects of atmospheric CO2 enrichment? Or will it be restrictive? Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science 189: 83-95." (co2science.org)

"Study expands commercial US wind power potential" - "SAN FRANCISCO - About a fourth of the United States packs winds powerful enough to generate electricity as cheaply as natural gas or coal-fired plants, according to a study by Stanford University researchers." (Reuters)

"Coal generated 51 pct of German electricity in 2002" - "FRANKFURT - Coal-fired power plants, the most polluting of generators, continued to produce more than half of Germany's electricity last year despite a significant rise in green power output, electricity association VDEW said. The share of lignite and hard coal in total power production last year was 51 percent, compared to 53 percent in 2001, the group said." (Reuters)

"Green Weak" - "Kermit the Frog's famous refrain notwithstanding, in Europe, it is actually easy to be Green. Citizens here do believe the hype - and most of the national governments as well as the European Union institutions act accordingly, treating environmental policy as a religion.

This week Europe holds its annual "Green Week," a celebration of the environment sponsored by the EU that is always accompanied by lots of glossy folders containing printed material no one ever reads and plastic jewel cases containing CD-ROMs that go right into the trash." (Craig Winneker, TCS)

"Biotech revolution costing organic farmers" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Fig Newmans cost more today than a year ago. That's because the organic cookie maker Newman's Own now buys its corn syrup from Austria, since it no longer trusts domestic corn syrup to be free of genetically modified organisms. The corn syrup from Austria, which bans the planting of genetically modified crops, costs the Santa Cruz company more and has forced it to hike its prices. It's not alone. The biotechnology revolution has always given organic farmers and their customers pause for concern. Now, it's actually costing them money." (Associated Press)

"The GM mirage will not help the poor" - "Painstaking development efforts, not the GM promise of miracle yields, hold most hope for the hungry, argues ActionAid's Alex Wijeratna" (The Guardian)

"Biotech is benign" - "Europe's continued blocking of GM imports is illegal, unjustified and founded on ignorance" (William Farish, The Guardian)

"Canadian wheat may contain traces of GM crops - CWB" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Canadian wheat shipments may contain traces of genetically modified canola and corn, because of the way the different crops are handled in the same facilities, but buyers can remove most of the GM grain, the Canadian Wheat Board said." (Reuters)

"Italy optimistic on EU approving GMO rules" - "ROME - Italy, which takes over the European Union presidency in a month's time, said this week it was optimistic that legislation on genetically-modified food could be approved and help end a trade spat with the United States." (Reuters)

"APEC says GMO debate beyond it, asks scientists" - "KHON KAEN, Thailand - APEC trade ministers will ask scientists to decide whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe after Japan irked the United States by asking for such products to be labelled, Thailand said." (Reuters)

"Public 'needs voice' on GM issue" - "The man in charge of the nationwide debate on genetically modified food says he will be "dismayed" if the government does not take into account public opinion on the issue. But Professor Malcolm Grant, head of the independent group organising the consultation, says that does not mean the government will simply abide by public opinion." (BBC News Online)

"Tense but informed start to national debate on genetically modified crops" - "As debates go it was probably at least as intelligent and informed as the average discussion around Tony Blair's Cabinet table. In tone, it was quite possibly more polite. The national debate on genetically modified crops got off to a tense but civilised start yesterday with the first public meeting at Birmingham's NEC." (Financial Times)

"GM crop trials 'pose threat to property prices'" - "Property prices could be undermined if land is polluted with traces of genetically modified crops, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said yesterday at the start of a Government-sponsored debate on whether Britain should approve commercial GM varieties.

Surveyors and land agents warned of "long-term chaos" in the property market unless buyers were provided with information on the farms, allotments and gardens where GM crops were or had been grown.

The RICS said accurate information on where GM crops were planted was essential to buyers wishing to purchase or rent land for non-GM or organic production and to financial institutions lending against land and property." (Daily Telegraph)

June 3, 2003

"Hyperbole, Thy Name Is Brownell" - "Imagine this front-page news story: 'SARS epidemic infects 60 million Americans, with economic losses exceeding $1 trillion. In response, government announces a massive public health campaign, industry pledges full cooperation regardless of cost, school districts agree to take all necessary measures.' Fortunately, SARS hasn't reached these proportions, but obesity has ... The obesity epidemic threatens the foundations of our society as would a massive SARS outbreak." So write food nannies par excellence David Ludwig and Kelly Brownell in last Thursday's Boston Globe." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

Forever trying: "Building the Movement to Stop Global Warming: Speakers/Leadership Training" - "Green House Network, in a partnership with Clean Air-Cool Planet and the Massachusetts Climate Action Network, invites interested individuals to a weekend conference to help build the movement to stop global warming." (Green House Network)

"Getting a Vertical View of Greenhouse Gas Emissions" - "BOULDER, Colorado, June 2, 2003 - Policymakers, governments, and citizens deserve accurate climate information on which to base decisions about temperature changes around the planet, and researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe their new airborne experiment will fill a current gap in climate modeling and monitoring of greenhouse gases." (ENS)

"Scientists study rising seas" - "Two scientists at a Scottish university are examining the effect of rising sea levels on a Fife estuary as part of a 1m euro project. The Eden Estuary near St Andrews is one of five sites across Europe being assessed for the study into the impact of global warming." (BBC News Online)

"Renewable Energy on U.S. lobbying agenda" - "Citing a new study, The Renewable Energy Action Project (REAP) today asked Congress to implement a more robust Renewable Fuels Standard and called on the New York and California delegation to realize that an aggressive RFS is the best way to reduce climate change gases, reduce petroleum use and create sustainable economic development from coast to coast." (SRI Media)

"Plant estrogens don't cool hot flashes: study" - "NEW YORK - Advised to avoid hormone replacement therapy, breast cancer survivors often look to herbal remedies that contain estrogen-like chemicals called phytoestrogens to quell menopausal hot flashes. But these plant-derived substances are no more likely than a placebo to cool hot flashes, according to a study published in the June issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology." (Reuters Health)

"Comment: Playing the 'natural' card" - "Shady marketing undermines both science and corporate responsibility, says Jon Entine" (EthicalCorp.com)

"Genetically modified fat protects mice from obesity" - "Fat has long been recognized as an important source of energy. Surprisingly, however, recent studies have revealed that fat also plays an important role in regulating energy, in part by secreting hormones that govern the storage and use of fat and glucose (or sugar)." (University of California - San Francisco)

"Tests find traces of GM crops in US wheat supply" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tests have revealed that traces of genetically modified grains are repeatedly creeping into U.S. wheat supplies, even as the debate rages over whether the world's first biotech wheat variety should be released in North America, grain industry sources said.

Biotech soybeans and corn, the two most widely grown genetically modified crops in the world, are the common culprits. Traces of the GM crops have been found not only in unmilled wheat but also in flour used to make bread and other foods, sources said." (Reuters)

"US consumer groups slam biotech firms for ending talks" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. biotech companies suppressed a campaign to strengthen government oversight of genetically modified foods, fearing this would hurt a U.S. trade case against the European Union, consumer advocates said.

The U.S. biotech industry and its critics, who have been meeting privately since early 2001, said they failed to reach a consensus on how the government should handle new biotech products like biopharmaceutical crops and transgenic animals." (Reuters)

"GM debate 'risks being facade'" - "As a national debate on genetically modified (GM) crops begins on Tuesday, the government's handling of the issue has been criticised as chaotic. An alliance of eight consumer and environmental organisations says organisational failings mean the public has little chance to have its say. That could leave the way open for the widespread growing of GM crops against most Britons' wishes, they claim." (BBC News Online)

June 2, 2003

"The Marketing of a Superbaby Formula" - "Many parents, persuaded by intense advertising campaigns, are choosing to buy baby formulas that suggest they will bolster I.Q. and improve eyesight in infants." (New York Times)

"Plan for America's new diet: Less sprawl, less fat, less frenzy" - "If you're an American, the statistics say you're out of shape - and you don't need another study to tell you why. Your life is high in stress and calories and low in free time and physical activity.

With two-thirds of adults overweight and 25 percent barely moving, the shape of America is not good. But now, experts looking at the bigger picture are becoming more convinced it's not all your fault. Obesity, they say, is not really caused by that extra Oreo. It's the result of urban sprawl, a frenetic lifestyle and global food policy.

And for the first time, public health, zoning, transportation, fitness, education, government, legal and business interests have aligned in determination to stop the runaway train of national disrepair." (Detroit Free Press)

"The Real Fat Cats" - "I don't know about you, but obesity is starting to frighten me.

It's not because researchers at the Journal of Health recently estimated $93 million is spent annually dealing with ailments such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and other diseases associated with obesity. I figure that cost is covered from the hundreds of billions in health care savings trial lawyers and state attorneys general have already achieved by wiping out the last great threat against living forever - smoking.

No, it's because the World Health Organization - the United Nations' health watchdog - has declared obesity to be a disease that has become epidemic among human populations around the globe, and now it appears to be spreading to real watchdogs!

According to a story in the nation's ever-observant newspaper, USA Today, "obesity in pets is on the rise." A study by the Purina Pet Institute, apparently examining the ribs of millions of these and other pets -- though not turtles or fish -- found they were disappearing under layers of fat." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Quorn linked to asthma attack" - "Quorn could have caused a severe allergic reaction, researchers suggest. There have been concerns that the meat substitute could cause stomach upsets. But Swiss and German doctors have detailed the case of an asthmatic who had a severe allergic reaction to the food." (BBC News Online)

Push-poll du jour: "US survey reveals most Americans unaware of antibiotics in meat" - "30/05/03 - A US survey, sponsored by a leading organic produce supermarket, has revealed that almost three quarters (74 per cent) of Americans are concerned about the presence of antibiotics in meat production, yet less than half (48 per cent) are aware that the meat they buy is commonly raised on feed that contains antibiotics.

The survey report went on to highlight that only 27 per cent of those surveyed are aware of the scientific dialogue documenting problems caused by overuse of antibiotics in animals raised for food. Once they learn of the reports showing a connection between the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed and its effect on humans, the majority (59 per cent) has a high desire to avoid these products and want meat and poultry raised without such antibiotics, the report reveals." (FoodProductionDaily.com)

"How They Won the Battle and Lost the Rain Forest" - "It seemed too clear-cut: A feisty American environmental group stops a big, bad multinational paper company from chopping down an Indonesian rain forest larger than the state of Delaware. Hailing the power of consumer boycotts, the environmental group takes out full-page newspaper ads declaring victory.

That was 14 years and many trees ago. The reality was more complicated then, and has become even more complicated since. The multinational company is gone from Indonesia, but so is a chunk of rain forest it sought to develop. Gone, too, is another swath of rain forest the company had pledged to protect -- victim to a state-owned Indonesian company that gladly stepped in." (The Washington Post)

"Natural History" - "History, Herodotus wrote, is recorded "in the hope of preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done." Fortunately, nature also writes its history. Coupled with that written by men, nature's records can ameliorate the tendency to sensationalize current trends in climate into something unusual or dangerous. The historical record - both man and nature's - does not support the view from catastrophism." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"EU, Russia to Cooperate on Meeting Pollution-Reduction Targets" - "May 31 -- The European Union and Russia said they would work to turn the Kyoto Protocol on reducing carbon emissions into a ``real tool'' for reducing global warming, after EU leaders met Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.

``We agreed to make every effort to ensure that the Kyoto Protocol becomes a real tool for solving the problems of global warming, and to this end we shall seek its entry into force as soon as possible,'' the EU and Russia said in a joint statement.

The 1997 agreement obliges signatories to limit smokestack emissions and environmental damage. Carbon emissions, such as those produced by factories, power plants and cars, have been cited as a cause of global warming." (Bloomberg)

"INTERVIEW - EU climate laws mean some pain, long-term gain - MEP" - "BRUSSELS - The European Union's determination to reduce its greenhouse gases will cost industry and consumers in the short term but have economic benefits in the future, a key European Parliamentarian said." (Reuters)

"Australia says no plans to sign Kyoto Treaty" - "CANBERRA - Australia, the world's largest coal exporter, reaffirmed its opposition to ratifying the Kyoto treaty on combating climate change, saying it was not in the national interest." (Reuters)

"S.F. anti-war groups turn focus to Ford" - "As many anti-war activists struggle with what to do next, one corner of the movement is focusing on gas guzzlers -- in particular, those produced by Ford Motor Co. -- in a nationwide protest campaign that starts today in San Francisco.

Led by two San Francisco nonprofits that raked results from other "corporate accountability" campaigns, the activists say Ford "as a symbol of American entrepreneurship" has not lived up to its hype as a leader in fuel efficiency. Ford answers that it's giving customers what they want and that activists are being unreasonable." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Poor WCF III, the trials and tribulations of being a fallen poster child of the whactivists...

"Iowa to harness wind at compressed air power plant" - "SAN FRANCISCO - A novel project to wed wind energy with underground compressed air to produce electricity is planned for Iowa, a state aiming - with a boost from billionaire investor Warren Buffett - to become a big player in wind generation." (Reuters)

"Farmers burned as green energy plant faces export" - "£30m power station goes bankrupt after eight days, leaving growers high and dry" (The Guardian)

"Thomas Odhiambo, 72, Scientist Who Helped Africa's Farmers, Dies" - "NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31 — Thomas R. Odhiambo, the Kenyan scientist who founded an international insect research center renowned for giving African farmers low-cost solutions for pest control, died here on Monday. He was 72." (Associated Press)

"Crisis in the Cupboard" - "The plentiful food supply we take for granted has come at the expense of agricultural diversity. Now the bugs and blights are taking their revenge" (Newsweek)

"U of Minnesota leads effort to break impasse over GMO safety" - "For the first time, parties on both sides of the controversy over genetically modified food are coming together to set industrywide safety standards. Working groups are being formed to set standards for building human and environmental safety into the entire development process for fish modified for increased production in fish farms and plants modified to produce pharmaceuticals. Such standards could become the basis for regulation of GMO safety much as general food safety is now regulated and monitored." (University of Minnesota)

"Harvest of GM corn reaps fears of contamination" - "AS genetically modified corn began to be harvested for the first time this month, the focus of the Philippines’ debate on biotechnology crops is shifting to fears that the commercial planting of this corn variety may lead to the contamination of other agricultural produce." (InterPress Service)

"African food on table at summit" - "US-Europe divide over trade barriers and gene-modified food was aired Sunday at G-8 meeting." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Bush's evangelising about food chills European hearts" - "The fight over GM crops exposes the weaknesses of globalisation, says Jeremy Rifkin" (The Guardian)

"Ministers briefed to back off GM crops" - "MINISTERS have been warned that they should not be too zealous in their support for GM crops because there are no immediate advantages to the country. This verdict, on the eve of the launch of a national GM debate, is from an interim report by the Cabinet Office strategy unit which has been assessing the strict costs and benefits of GM technology." (The Times)

"Coming soon: the great GM crops debate. But does the Government really want your views?" - "It's obscure. It's small scale. It's been starved of funds. It has not been nationally advertised. In fact, it hasn't been advertised at all. You could be forgiven for thinking the Government doesn't want you to know about it. Yet this is the National GM Debate. Starting tomorrow, it will be the only official chance people will have to make their views known over whether genetically modified crops should be commercially grown in Britain." (Independent)

"Meacher denies 'chaotic' GM policy" - "The environment minister, Michael Meacher, today defended the government's policy on genetically modified crops after unions and consumer groups attacked it as "chaotic" and "badly organised". Eight organisations, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Consumer Association and Unison, have written to the environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, urging her to "get a grip" on a national debate on GM crops, which begins tomorrow." (Press Association)

"Tories urge support for labelling GM foods" - "The Tories have increased pressure on the government to drop its opposition to plans to label genetically modified food.

Responding to reports yesterday that cabinet ministers were concerned to "minimise the risks" of a US backlash on the issue, Tim Yeo, the shadow trade and industry secretary, said the government needed to back the rest of Europe on labelling.

Mr Yeo said he would write to Patricia Hewitt, the trade and industry secretary, calling on her to "confirm that in this area she will be on the side of consumers." (Financial Times)