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Archives - November 2001

November 30, 2001

"It Might Not Have Been a Clone" - "News of a cloned human embryo re-ignited a smoldering debate. That wasn’t the researchers’ intention. They wanted to focus on the prospects of medical therapies involving stem cells derived from cloned human embryos. The real focus, though, should be on the hype — if not scam — of embryonic stem cell research." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"European Parliament Rejects Genetics Report" - "BRUSSELS - After a morning of passionate debate, with cries of ``cannibalism'' and ``sub-humans,'' the European Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly rejected a 300-page draft report on the ethical, legal, economic and social implications of human genetics. Robert Goebbels, the socialist Euro-MP who chaired the special committee throughout its year-long discussions, told Reuters Health after the vote that it left Parliament looking ''ridiculous and undignified.'' (Reuters Health)

"Packard, Stanford researchers uncover gene family critical to asthma development" - "STANFORD, Calif., Nov. 29, 2001 - A novel gene family that appears critical to the development of asthma in mice has been identified by researchers at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. The finding may revolutionize treatment and diagnosis of the more than 15 million people in the United States who suffer from asthma. It may also explain why incidence rates have climbed rapidly in industrialized countries over the past 20 years, say the researchers." (Stanford University Medical Center)

"ABC’s of Bioterror: A is for Anthrax" - "On June 8, 2001, President George W. Bush called for remediation of the threat of biological warfare because it is one of the “true threats of the 21st century.” His words proved prescient, as by September this nation suffered the world’s first bioattack of the 21st century with anthrax." (Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

From the Pathogen Protection Society? "Consumer group cites food irradiation safety fears" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 29 - A national consumers group on Thursday issued a report accusing government food safety regulators of ignoring possible safety hazards in irradiated food.

The report criticizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failing to study the potential effects of chemicals produced when some food is struck with electromagnetic radiation during decontamination. A handful of studies from Germany suggest that the chemicals, called cyclobutanones, can cause DNA mutations in both human and animal cells.

Irradiation is currently allowed for beef, poultry, fruits, vegetables and spices. The agency is considering expanding rules to allow irradiation of processed foods and shellfish.

"The FDA has never conducted a formal analysis of the potential toxicity of these chemicals in foods that the agency has already legalized for irradiation," stated the report, issued by the consumer group Public Citizen. (Reuters Health)

"Fried breakfast and tea 'a risk to women'" - "AN English breakfast washed down with a scalding cup of tea may put women at risk of cancer of the gullet, according to new research." (Telegraph)

"A Dose of Sanity" - "Christie Whitman shows she's not afraid of mice." (Wall Street Journal)

"Greens to protest at 300 Exxon UK filling stations" - "LONDON - The StopEsso campaign said yesterday that more than 300 UK Esso filling stations will be targeted by thousands of protesters this weekend in a bid to urge motorists to boycott the oil giant because of its stance on global warming." (Reuters)

"Kyoto pact could see weak NZ economic growth - NBNZ" - "WELLINGTON - Ratifying the Kyoto pact on climate change may reduce New Zealand economic growth by as much as one percent, the National Bank of New Zealand said yesterday. The NZ government said in August it would seek to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by September 2002, after a compromise agreement was reached at a meeting in July of around 180 nations at a United Nations conference in Bonn.

New Zealand's commitment to reducing emissions was commendable but problematic as it would place the country at a competitive disadvantage, the National Bank, owned by Britain's Lloyds TSB , said in a commentary, adding it could lead to a substantial and permanent output loss." (Reuters)

"Survey Says: We Don’t Believe the Hype" - "Recently, I had a most unexpected, but illuminating, experience. With a local farmer, I was called on to defend genetically modified crops in a major public debate held at a very beautiful cathedral in southern England. The audience of around 300 comprised local school children and their teachers. And the end of the exchange, the audience would vote to determine who ‘won’ the debate.

The Green opposition was rabid in its denunciation of biotechnology in agriculture. The chair of the debate, a well-known politician and BBC radio personality, assured us that we would be roundly defeated, lucky indeed if we obtained any votes at all.

But when the vote was taken, he was staggered: we won overwhelmingly – by two-thirds. We were further amazed by the outstanding speeches from the floor praising the potential of biotechnology, especially for the developing world. The opposition seemed to be quite shaken by the outcome.

What had happened? The students had, some for the first time, been allowed to hear the voice of reason, sound scientific argument, and down-to-earth practical farming." (Philip Stott, Tech Central Station)

"Great GM debate ready for the off" - "IT HAS been touted by some as a battle royal between opposing factions of the genetic modification school of thought. But others may see it as David and Goliath. Although not quite the hottest ticket in town, demand for access to next Tuesday’s debate in London on whether it is time to put GM foods back on the shelf, staged by a leading retail magazine, is a sell-out." (The Scotsman)

"Most Americans can Articulate Expected Benefits of Food Biotechnology" - "A survey conducted for the International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that most Americans (61%) believe and can state how biotechnology will benefit them or their families in the next five years. Consumers anticipate benefits including: improved health and nutrition (39%); improved quality, taste, and variety of foods (33%); reduced chemical and pesticide use on plants (21%); reduced cost of food (9%); and improved crops and crop yields (9%)." (IFIC)

"Do benefits outweigh side effects?" - "TO begin, let me directly address the first question: Do the benefits of GM crops outweigh the risks of possible side effects?

The answer: No damaging side-effects have been detected from any genetically engineered crops submitted for approval. This basic fact must be noted at the outset of the debate itself.

With respect to Bt Cotton, experience from South Africa and China, where it has been approved for on-farm production, shows large benefits. The use of chemical pesticides have been reduced dramatically. This has reduced production costs for farmers, protected the environment from pesticide residues, and reduced illness and death from pesticide poisoning.

No damaging side-effects have been found. And huge benefits have accrued to all sections of society. It should therefore not be a surprise that Indian farmers want to grow Bt Cotton." (Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Economic Times)

"Tackling Concerns Over Food Shortage" - "Food shortages in parts of Asia and less developed areas of the world could get worse without the use of new technologies to boost production.

The need to increase food production and the impact of new technology on food and agriculture will be discussed at a forum moderated by Professor Samuel Sun Sai-ming, professor and chairman, Department of Biology, Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Sun says biotechnology is considered to be among the most powerful and economically promising technological means for use in many areas of food production but there is also the need for greater transparency." (South China Morning Post)

"GM Paper Trail Costs; Who will pay the price of consumers' fear about genetically modified foods" - DECEMBER 7 is D-Day on mandatory labelling for all foods containing more than 1 per cent genetically modified material. But even with these new regulations in place, overseas experience shows consumers will be wanting even more evidence their food is derived from crops that are not genetically modified." (Weekly Times)

"Arthritis Gene Found in Iceland's Gene Pool" - "ZURICH - Researchers studying Iceland's isolated genetic pool have found a gene linked to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) that could help treat the debilitating joint disease, the two companies running the project said on Thursday." (Reuters)

November 29, 2001

"Bjorn Again! Fundamentalist Greens Launch Smear Campaign" - "Suggesting to ideological environmentalists that the natural world is not about to collapse under the assault of a greedy and heedless humanity is akin to telling a convention of Southern Baptist preachers that gambling, drinking and dancing are not sins. In both circumstances, the Green ideologues and the Baptists will denounce you as a venal heretic who must be cast out of the company of decent men and women before you contaminate them with your dangerous ideas.

Bjorn Lomborg, the author of the superb book The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, just published by Cambridge University Press, has raised the ire of the environmental fundamentalists. Consequently, this former Greenpeace member is now suffering through a savage disinformation campaign orchestrated by some of the world’s largest and most prominent environmentalist lobbying groups, including the World Wildlife Fund and the World Resources Institute." (Ronald Bailey, Tech Central Station)

Another green myth crashes and burns? "Slash and burn; If we want more mahogany, we need to mimic hurricanes and fire" - "EFFORTS to re-establish the world's mahogany trees are misfiring. "Green" forestry practices, such as selective logging, are not helping saplings as much as clearing large patches of rainforest. "Forest departments around the world have invested millions of dollars doing something that doesn't work," says Laura Snook of the Indonesia-based Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Snook and her team in Central America have found that planting mahogany under the forest canopy-a practice known as enrichment-is futile.

Part of the reason is that mahogany thrives on natural catastrophes. Snook's team has found that it needs events such as hurricanes and fires to survive. "If we are to encourage the regeneration of mahogany," she says, "we need to learn how to mimic nature." (New Scientist)

"New computer program detects overlooked gene segments: Previous estimates of human gene number too low" - "In order to study genes for a wide variety of research, diagnostic, or therapeutic purposes, scientists use computer programs that analyze DNA sequences. These programs indicate where pieces of genes are located within what is frequently a vast and complex genetic landscape. Although conventional programs detect many parts of genes with ease, they fail when it comes to detecting two important elements—the very first pieces of genes, and the nearby "on" switches of genes called promoters." (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

"Scientist Uses Tombstones to Track Environmental Changes" - "Tom Meierding has always been fascinated by graveyards. Over the last 25 years, he's visited more than 700 cemeteries and measured about 15,000 tombstones to see what kind of environmental secrets they might reveal.

His tombstone studies showed, for example, that much of the degradation to stones, monuments, and buildings in the Northeast United States is the result of environmental factors of 70 years ago. The assumption had been that the destruction was caused by the more recent effects of acid rain." (National Geographic News)

Sigh... here we go again: "Cancer secret: memo reveals Alcoa risk" - "MINING giant Alcoa has known for years that pollution from its Kwinana and Wagerup alumina refineries could cause cancer, leukaemia and other health problems, according to confidential company documents." (West Australian)

And it's also known that emissions are well within health limits. Nothing like a breathless press beat-up to upset the locals.

"Air pollution causes lung disease in school-age children" - "CHAPEL HILL - Children who grow up breathing polluted air may be at increased risk of lung disease, according to a study of school-age children in Mexico. Researchers reached that conclusion after evaluating standard chest x-rays of 241 southwest metropolitan Mexico City children and another 19 from a small coastal town. The city children were exposed daily to high levels of a variety of pollutants, compared to the absence of such pollution in the coastal town comparison group." (University of North Carolina School of Medicine)

"Erin Brockovich: The Real-Life Sequel" - "Unlike Emma Bovary and Scarlett O'Hara, Erin Brockovich is a real, live person. She's a 41-year-old mother of three with a gift for publicity. Julia Roberts won an Oscar playing her in the eponymous movie about a legal assistant who got 650 prospective plaintiffs together in 1993 in the desert town of Hinkley, Calif., to sue Pacific Gas & Electric for making them sick. Three years later, PG&E settled for $333 million.

Now she's into line extension. "She has become an Oprah-style self-help guru, touring the United States with husband number three, Eric, offering words of inspiration to crowds in exchange for upwards of $15,000," reported the Times of London a week ago [ED: NOV. 18]. She's just come out with a book, and NBC is closing a deal with her for a TV talk show.

Moreover, she has found an even bigger target for a lawsuit: ExxonMobil, the energy giant, with $149 billion in assets." (James K. Glassman, Tech Central Station) [This article was first published in the Wall Street Journal]

"Selenium-Enriched Broccoli May Help Prevent Cancer" - "NEW YORK - A diet containing selenium-enriched broccoli sprouts and florets may protect against breast and prostate cancer, according to the results of a study in laboratory rats. Previous research has suggested that selenium can protect humans against prostate and other cancers and reduce cancer deaths. As a result, there has been increasing public interest in selenium supplementation, according to lead study author Dr. John W. Finley of the United States Department of Agriculture's Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota." (Reuters Health)

"Vitamins Shown to Help and Hinder Heart Treatment" - "BOSTON - Two studies in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine send mixed signals about the benefits of vitamins for people fighting heart disease." (Reuters)

"Australian research offers hope for treating eating disorders" - "Australian scientists have sought a patent for a genetic discovery which could lead to new treatments for diabetes, obesity and other eating disorders. They have identified six genes linked to obesity and diabetes and now hope to develop drugs which can deactivate the conditions." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Another Fenton fundraiser? "International Certification System for Marine Aquarium Trade Aims to Protect Coral Reefs, Ensure Quality of Fish and other Organisms" - "ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 27, 2001) —The Marine Aquarium Council (MAC) today launched a new certification system that aims to protect coral reefs and ensure the quality of organisms in the marine aquarium trade. MAC challenged aquarium hobbyists and industry operators, public aquariums, conservation organizations and government agencies to support the system they all helped to create." (Fenton Communications)

Now they're asking for advice from school kids: "Pupils get say on global warming" - "Simple explanations of climate change terms have been prepared for young New Zealanders who are being asked for their ideas on how the country should respond to global warming. The Government wants the children to take part in a national consultation exercise as it considers ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement that will set up measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming." (New Zealand Herald)

These children apparently need "simple explanations of climate change terms" but can presumably make complex risk-benefit analyses based on highly uncertain global climate science. Truly remarkable, these young New Zealanders.

"Scientists Find Hot Activity Under Arctic Ice Cap" - "WASHINGTON - Deep below the frozen surface of the Arctic Ocean, scientists aboard a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker discovered a searing caldron of activity, including numerous underwater volcanoes and deep-sea hot springs that may harbor previously unknown marine organisms. The findings about the hot times under the polar ice cap were presented on Wednesday by scientists who participated in the nine-week Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation." (Reuters) | NSF release

"GM mosquito bid to tackle malaria" - "Genetically modifying mosquitoes could be the way to stop the spread of the killer disease malaria. An Australian team think they have found a way to "infect" whole mosquito populations with detrimental genes. This could block the flies' ability to transmit the malaria parasite, or make them particularly susceptible to pesticides. The scientists say they would only have to release relatively few GM mosquitoes to kick-start the process." (BBC Online)

"Eight Months Prison Recommended for Jose Bove" - "Political discourses on GM crops are not relevant in court, prosecutor says. Breaking of law must be punished, whether by Bove or anyone else." (Tom Hargrove, PlanetRice)

"Study Tracks Health of Cloned Animals" - "A new study from a biotechnology company says nuclear transfer-based cloning produces cows and pigs with normal health and genetic characteristics. Wisconsin-based Infigen, Inc. presented the results of its four-year study this week at the National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council meeting. The study tracked the cloned animals into adulthood. Infigen said the study results were consistent for transgenic cattle (clones genetically altered to produce pharmaceutical proteins on a commercial scale in their milk) and for non-transgenic cattle." (AgWeb.com)

"Genetically Modified Corn DNA Found" - "DNA from genetically modified corn has found its way into native corn varieties growing in remote southern Mexico, heightening fears about the dangers of bioengineered crops. Scientists fear the accidental spread of laboratory-inserted genes could give some plants an advantage that would allow them to crowd out other varieties, reducing the world's biological diversity." (AP) | University of California, Berkeley release | Mexican study raises GM concern (BBC Online)

"Pharmacia to Shed Monsanto" - "NEW YORK - Pharmacia Corp. on Wednesday gave investors welcome news that it would spin off its underperforming agricultural unit Monsanto Co., but also warned that sales growth for its blockbuster arthritis drug Celebrex may skid more than Wall Street had feared." (Reuters)

"New Zealand's Alliance to seek changes to GMO legislation" - "The minor partner in New Zealand's coalition government, the left-wing Alliance Party, said on Wednesday it would seek changes to proposed legislation on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Alliance MP Phillida Bunkle said her party would use a "differentiation" process in the coalition agreement with Prime Minister Helen Clark's Labour Party over the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Amendment (Genetically Modified Organisms) Bill." (Reuters)

November 28, 2001

Anti-chemical hysterics won't like this: "U.S. Will Use Once-Banned Human Tests" - "WASHINGTON -- Three years ago, in response to mounting criticism from environmentalists and physicians, the Clinton administration stopped using information from industry studies conducted on humans to determine the amount of pesticides that could be applied to fruits, vegetables and other crops. Now the Bush administration, siding with manufacturers on whether such studies are ethical and scientifically valid, has told the pesticide industry it will use data from such tests, in which paid volunteers swallow small doses of the products." (LA Times)

What an extraordinary thing - using human data when evaluating human risk...

"Certain jobs may be linked to male infertility" - "NEW YORK, Nov 27 - The results of a small study suggest that a man's job may influence his fertility, but the researchers say more investigation is needed before definitive conclusions can be made. The research team found that men employed as engineering technicians, finance analysts, corporate and computing managers, and teachers were more likely to be infertile than men in other professions." (Reuters Health)

Techs, analysts, managers and teachers... A few weeks ago it was decorators and typesetters, before that, pesticide applicators and bicycle riders (they might have been before pet owners and jeans- & jockey brief- wearers...). Will they never tire of dredging these quirky little weak associations?

"Small study supports food allergy-ADHD link" - "ORLANDO, Nov 27 - Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are seven times more likely to have food allergies than children in the general population, according to the results of a small, preliminary study. "This recent study shows that food allergy may play a role in the development of ADHD," Dr. Joseph Bellanti, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health." (Reuters Health)

Yeah, it also shows ADHD may predispose children to food allergies too, or that a subset of children have greater susceptibility to both or... Conclusion-leaping should be an Olympic sport, there's no end of talented potential competitors out there.

While we're running "Gosh! Gasp!" stuff: "Canadian researchers find cancer suspect from grilled meat in human milk" - "A food chemical known to cause cancer in rats has been discovered in human breast milk, according to a group of Canadian researchers. The study represents the first time that the chemical, mostly associated with grilled meats, has been found in human breast milk, they say." (American Chemical Society)

"Baby born with alarming lead levels due to mother's petrol sniffing" - "A baby born at the Alice Springs Hospital last week has been found to have more than five-times the normal level of lead in its blood because its mother is a petrol sniffer." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Study: Urban Sprawl May Reduce Forests" - "ATLANTA - Urban sprawl could reduce forests in the South by 12 million acres by the year 2020, affecting the habitat of a number of native plants and wildlife, a federal study concluded." (AP)

"September 11 attacks weigh on Earth Summit plans" - "CAPE TOWN - The September 11 attacks in the United States weigh heavily on South Africa's plans for the World Summit on Sustainable Development next year with dates and financing still uncertain, organisers said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Clean air catalytic converters emit platinum pollutants" - "The devices on cars that keep polluting emissions from reaching the air are spewing out other potentially toxic substances that are building up along U.S. roads. The culprits are catalytic converters." (Environmental News Network)

"New emissions rules offer drivers bigger headaches" - "Starting next year, drivers of relatively new cars could see those little "check engine" lights illuminating the dashboard turn into an expensive nightmare, thanks to a new system of emissions-control mandates the Environmental Protection Agency is set to unleash on the country." (USA Today)

Ben Santer's favourite excuse: "Researchers discover that volcanic eruptions masked global warming during the past 20 years" - "LIVERMORE, Calif.— Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who examined temperature data from 1979 to 1999, have discovered that large volcanic eruptions cooled the lower troposphere (the layer of atmosphere from the Earth’s surface to roughly 8 km above it) more than the surface, and likely masked the actual warming of the troposphere." (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)

Haven't we travelled this road before? The big problem for the "if things were different, they wouldn't be the same" crowd is that the atmosphere has been unusually clear of particulates ejected by explosive volcanic events for quite a few years now but the troposphere stubbornly refuses to respond as models insist it must. See the satellite global tropospheric mean temperature track here. For those experiencing difficulties loading the interactive page, here's the monthly mean anomaly trace to September, 2001 as a graphic. Obviously, atmospheric temperature did react to the 1997/98 El Niño and, equally obviously, returned to "normal" following that event.

"The Variable Energy Output of the Sun Appears to Be the Major Determinant of Decadal- to Millennial-Scale Global Climate Change" - "Summary: In a paper posted in Science magazine's "Science Express" (www.sciencexpress.org) on 15 November 2001, Lamont-Doherty's Gerard Bond and nine other scientists from the United States, Germany and Switzerland present a stunning array of evidence in support of what many people have long believed - but have been unable to prove - about the role of the sun in orchestrating global climate change here on earth." (co2science.org)

"Elevated CO2 May Slow Plant Decomposition Rates, Increasing Soil Carbon Storage" - "Summary: The title says it all. Besides stimulating plants to produce more biomass, atmospheric CO2 enrichment often induces them to produce tissues that are more resistant to physical, chemical and biological degradation." (co2science.org)

"Ecological Changes in Tropical Montane Cloud Forests: Harbingers of Global Warming?" - "Summary: As highly-climate-sensitive cloud forest ecosystems in certain parts of the world experience disruptions that mimic what models of CO2-induced global warming suggest should be happening, are we catching an early glimpse of the folly of our fossil-fueled ways? Earth-Science Reviews 55: 73-106." (co2science.org)

"The Medieval Warm Period in Greenland" - "Summary: Telltale traces of the past presence of long-dead seabirds speak to us of times when the forbidding shores of East Greenland beckoned them to take up seasonal residence there. Boreas 30: 228-239." (co2science.org)

"Interactive Effects of Elevated CO2 and Temperature on Rice" - "Summary: Rice plants grown at ambient air temperatures were unresponsive to atmospheric CO2 enrichment. However, when ambient air temperatures were raised by 2°C, atmospheric CO2 enrichment enhanced total plant biomass by 22%. Thus, for this particular cultivar, global warming would definitely be a good thing. Advances in Space Research 27: 1541-1545." (co2science.org)

"Green Alert, November 27, 2001 Vol. 1, No. 10" - "Rising sea levels due to melting glacial ice and thermal expansion of ocean water is one of most popular and enduring global warming catastrophe scenarios many expect to arise from the atmosphere’s increasing concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2). Thanks to a newly-recognized negative feedback factor, such tales of gloom and doom may not play out quite that way." (co2andclimate.org)

Inevitably: "Giant iceberg splits from Antarctica" - "Scientists are tracking a giant iceberg which has broken off an Antarctic glacier. The new ice fragment is around 25 miles long by nine miles wide and is considered evidence of climatic change." (Ananova)

"More pressure on Australia to sign Kyoto treaty" - "Britain's Environment Minister has urged Australia to ratify the proposed Kyoto treaty, saying the best way to convince the United States to join the battle against global warming is for every other country to ratify the accord." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Today's wacky warning: "Summers could turn deadly, data say; Doctors blame global warming" - "Global warming could kill more elderly Arizonans with heatstroke as their state suffers from more floods and droughts, worse air quality and the spread of tropical diseases from Latin America. That's the warning from Physicians for Social Responsibility, a liberal doctors' group worried about the health effects of climate change." (Arizona Daily Star)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT; November 20, 2001 Vol. 2, No. 44" - "The fact that the sun influences earth’s climate hardly should come as a surprise. We see its influence, daily. Days of abundant sunshine typically are warmer than days with a lot of cloud cover. Winter (when days are shorter) is colder than when summer’s days are long. When a major volcanic eruption injects a large amount of dust into the upper atmosphere to act as a sort of sun shade, the years following the event typically are cooler than years when there is no such volcanic activity. Over very long time scales humans have been unable to directly observe the relationship, but there are good indications it exists." (co2andclimate.org)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT; November 5, 2001 Vol. 2, No. 43" - "When the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense, Sierra Club and others ran into trouble selling their message of panic about the potential for global warming, Ted Turner’s global warming foundation provided them with the million dollars they spent on Democratic pollsters to figure out how to resuscitate the moribund Kyoto Protocol and put it back into play here in the U.S. What they got for their money was advice to re-brand their product.

A team of linguists advises that the green lobby stop using terms like climate change and global warming and substitute the phrase "CO2 Blanket." We kid you not.

If the Sierra Club thinks a picture of the earth sporting a CO2 blanket will convince American consumers annually to fork over more than 2% of our GDP in order to adjust the surface temperature of the planet a tenth of a degree, more power to 'em. We don’t have benefit of focus group reaction to the concept. But we wonder, did they contemplate the potential of fact-based alternative marketing scenario?" (co2andclimate.org)

"German minister says green goals may harm economy" - "BERLIN - German Economy Minister Werner Mueller said yesterday ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming could put the country at a massive economic disadvantage." (Reuters)

And about time: "Mail and Express reject Greenpeace ad" - "Both the Daily Mail and the Daily Express have refused to run an ad for Greenpeace in which the environmental pressure group calls on consumers to boycott Esso. A full-page ad was due to appear in all the national and regional newspapers on December 1 as part of the "Stop Esso" campaign. The campaign calls for a UK boycott of Esso service stations in protest at the company's support for the US withdrawal from the Kyoto climate change pact." (Guardian)

I admit not having much time for the media generally but a couple of tabloids just went up in my estimation - no prizes for guessing which ones.

"Organic row brewing as rival groups square up" - "A CROSS-BORDER battle for supremacy in the £800 million a year organic food and farming market entered a new phase yesterday with the appointment of a Scottish representative by the Soil Association, the Bristol-based market leader in the field. This follows an intensive marketing campaign by the group in Scotland, including a mail shot to the 570 members of the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) which operates its own independent certification scheme, urging them to defect." (The Scotsman)

"Biotechnology: A Solution to Hunger and Starvation" - "Few, if any, food issues have sparked as much international debate as biotechnology. Scientists, activists, politicians and consumers are among the multitudes who have weighed in with opinions on the topic." (Amy Bakker, American Farm Bureau Federation)

"Speech by David Byrne, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection: "Risk versus benefit" - "A lot of damage has been done by the polarisation of the GM issue. Hard-line positions have played into the hands of those who claim that the US wants to force-feed GM food to European citizens, without any consideration for their ethical concerns or consumer rights. Both industry and politicians now have to face the consequences of that." (David Byrne, Europa)

"Biotechnology may improve Australian sugarcane" - "SYDNEY - Biotechnology could become an integral part of Australian sugarcane production, the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations (BSES) said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Full GM separation may double prices - US farmers" - "BRUSSELS - Full separation of genetically modified (GM) soybeans from traditional varieties could double their cost to importers in the European Union, delegates at a food conference heard yesterday. New EU proposals on traceability and labelling for food derived from GM crops now on the table, but U.S. farmer and industry groups fear they will be unworkable and could force the creation of two separate production chains. "Strict identity preservation could easily double the price of soybeans," Jerry Slocum, president of the North Mississippi Grain Company, told the Agra Europe conference." (Reuters)

"UPDATE - China rule on GMO soy may not come this week" - "SINGAPORE - Beijing is likely to release long-awaited details of China's new rules on genetically modified organisms, not perhaps this week as some market participants had expected but in the near future, traders said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Warning for councils over GE decisions" - "The Government's cautionary nod to genetic engineering could result in problems for local authorities, warns Nelson City Council. It says that unless clear rules are drawn up soon on how GE field trials are to be conducted, the responsibility will fall to councils by default. That will not only create extra work for councils, but also put them in a difficult position if their communities are divided on the issue, it says." (Nelson Mail)

"Death rate of cloned sheep a blow to wool industry" - "As many as nine out of 10 cloned lambs are dying soon after birth at the South Australian research centre that produced Australia's first cloned sheep, Matilda. The South Australian Research and Development Institute's chief scientist, Dr Simon Walker, said yesterday that the high death rates were unexpected and raised doubts about the use of cloned sheep for commercial breeding." (Sydney Morning Herald)

November 27, 2001

"DDT and Africa's war on malaria" - "One of the most powerful weapons in the war against malaria is the insecticide DDT - effective in curbing the disease but lethal to wildlife. The BBC's Mike Donkin examines South Africa's controversial use of the chemical and the pressures facing neighbouring Mozambique as it struggles to battle malaria without it." (BBC Online)

Well, yes and no. DDT shouldn't be used for general agriculture and it was most certainly abused. For malarial control, however, it remains without peer. See DDT FAQ; Facts Versus Fears: DDT; Junk Science of the Century: The DDT Ban and; The Malaria Toll for a lot more on this topic.

"For Radiation, How Much Is Too Much?" - "n their efforts to protect Americans from the hazards of radiation, federal agencies have found themselves in a quandary. People are constantly exposed to radiation from natural sources — from cosmic rays, radon seeping out of the earth and radioactive substances in soil, water, food and even from potassium in the human body itself. Compared with this radiation, the amounts coming from human efforts like nuclear plants are, relatively, minuscule. So, the question is, How closely must this radiation be regulated?" (Gina Kolata, New York Times)

"DNA repair could reduce sunburn" - "A chemical involved in immune-system signalling may be able to reverse some types of skin damage caused by sunlight. It could reduce sunburn by activating DNA-repair mechanisms, a new study suggests, raising the possibility that the chemical might be used to prevent or treat skin cancer.

High-energy ultraviolet light is thought to promote skin cancer by damaging the DNA within cells. Skin cancer, the most common malignancy among people of Western European descent, strikes over one million people each year in the United States alone." (Nature News)

"Cool response to suicide savior" - "Cancer specialists today urged caution in response to new research suggesting how cells exposed to dangerous levels of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) might be spared apoptosis, which expels mutated cells to limit damage naturally." (BioMedNet News)

"Cancer ravages Montreal hospital lab staff" - "MONTREAL - Health investigators in Montreal are trying to find out why 18 people working in a single hospital laboratory have developed cancer in the past three years, 15 of them dying from it. The three still alive have breast, lung or brain cancer, and no clue as to what is causing it. They all worked in the lab at Montreal's Ste-Justine Hospital." (CBC)

"Diabetes 'will push up heart deaths'" - "DEATHS from heart disease will rise unless urgent action is taken to tackle the increase in diabetes, according to a report published today. It says the steady fall in deaths from heart disease over the past 20 years is unlikely to continue because of the "diabetes time bomb". Sedentary lifestyles and a rise in obesity have led experts to believe that the number of diabetics in Britain will double to reach three million by 2010." (Telegraph)

Poorly designed experiment of the day: "Squirrel pounces on bird lover's nutty headwear" - "THE nutty inventor from Crackpot Cottage ended up with a pain in the neck when he walked through the woods to test his new-fangled bird-feeding hat." (The Times)

"El Niño predictions up to nine months ahead" - "The question of when and how hard the next El Niño or La Niña will hit can now be answered up to nine months ahead of the event, thanks to work by CSIRO's climate scientists. CSIRO has begun estimating long-range probabilities of receiving above or below median rainfall over much of the country, based on forecasts of whether El Niño or La Niña conditions will develop in the Pacific Ocean. "We use sophisticated climate models run on a supercomputer to predict sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. These temperatures provide a measure of the strength of El Niño and La Niña," says Dr Ian Smith, from CSIRO Atmospheric Research." (CSIRO)

"TRMM CONTINUES TO PROVIDE DIVERSE INSIGHTS INTO CLIMATE PROCESSES ON ITS FOURTH ANNIVERSARY" - "The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, the world's first space mission dedicated to observing and understanding tropical rainfall, has successfully completed its fourth year of continuous data gathering by providing exciting new insight into tropical and global rainfall and hurricanes." (NASA News)

"Global Warming Seen Moderating" - "Global warming could level out in the 22nd century, say scientists who have for the first time pushed their computer models of the world's climate to 2200. Previous models had shown that efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions would only slightly slow the Earth's warming by the year 2100, but had not looked further out, said Aiguo Dai of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. Dai's study on the future of Earth's climate appears in the Dec. 1 issue of Geophysical Review Letters." (Discovery News)

No idea about the weather a week from Thursday but they're modeling climate 200 years hence.

The Week That Was November 24, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

From the Department of fevered imaginations: "Climate warning for fish farmers" - "Fish species being farmed by the Tasmanian aquaculture industry may have to change to cope with the effects of global warming." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

II: "Climate change may put heat on business" - "SOME of Tasmania's key industries – from tourism to farming – may suffer losses due to global warming, a conference in Hobart heard yesterday." (The Mercury)

"Antarctic plants repair themselves" - "Dutch researchers funded by NWO have studied the effects of the hole in the ozone layer on the vegetation in Antarctica. The repair mechanisms of lichens and mosses appear to be effective even at low temperatures. Nevertheless, the ecology of the Antarctic is still under threat. The rise in temperature caused by the greenhouse effect is doing irreparable damage." (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)

Here's a little tip guys, no one knows just why there has been an anomalous temperature increase around the Antarctic Peninsula but, since the Antarctic generally has been cooling for the last 50 years or so, enhanced greenhouse is a most unlikely cause.

"Pollution Concerns Over Energy Plants" - "TORONTO - Bush administration plans for hundreds more electricity generating plants will substantially increase emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, a North American environment commission said Monday. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation, which monitors the environmental affects of the North American Free Trade Agreement, estimated carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. electricity sector could increase from 14 percent to 38 percent by the year 2007." (AP)

"Consumer groups urge govt to reject proposed power charges" - "Consumer groups have urged the Victorian government to reject a proposal by the state's five electricity retailers to raise prices, saying it would increase household power bills by up to $94 a year." (AAP)

Hmm... wouldn't there be a howl if any government was stupid enough to try to implement Kyoto, along with the consumer cost imposts required by the silly thing.

"Ottawa announces 28 anti-emission initiatives" - "OTTAWA -- The federal government released details Monday of its plans to spend more than $425 million on 28 initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The measures target transportation, energy, industry, buildings, forestry and agriculture -- key sectors accounting for 90 per cent of Canada's emissions. They will reduce emissions by more than 23 megatonnes." (CP)

More terrorism: "Greenpeace targets oil tanker near Port Botany" - "Greenpeace campaigners say they are preventing an oil tanker from unloading a shipment near Port Botany in Sydney. Greenpeace says its climbers have boarded the Bow De Jin tanker, which is carrying a shipment of shale oil from the Stuart Oil project in Gladstone in Queensland." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Genetically engineered T cell tackles kidney cancer" - "As part of a project financed by NWO, an experimental method has been developed to tackle metastasised kidney cancer. After being engineered outside the body, T cells taken from the body’s own immune system attack the cancer. Clinical studies in the next few years will show whether the medication also works in actual practice." (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)

"New bacteria target cancers in mice" - "Scientists from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins have created bacteria that selectively target large advanced tumors in mice. Results of their experiments are reported in the November 27, 2001 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions)

"Animal Clones as Food Source Face U.S. Scrutiny" - "WASHINGTON - While world attention focused on Monday on a report of the first cloned human embryo, regulators were already at work looking at whether animal clones are safe for the U.S. food supply. Animal cloning has progressed since 1997, when researchers introduced Dolly the sheep, the first cloned adult mammal. Biotechnology companies have produced duplicates of prized animals and are marketing the technology to animal owners. With the field moving quickly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (news - web sites) (FDA) is weighing whether to regulate cloned farm animals that people might consume." (Reuters)

"Iron-loving bacteria can learn to consume uranium" - "One researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia thinks she has found a type of bacteria that can be modified to clean up uranium contamination. Biochemistry professor Judy Wall has been working with the bacteria known for creating the rotten egg smell of stagnant water with the goal of harnessing them to help remediate sites contaminated with radioactivity.

Through such methods as creating mutant genes in the DNA, Wall hopes to decipher the code governing the bacterium's electron transport system. The result could be the release of a bacterium with a reduced appetite for sulfur or iron -- and a huge hunger for uranium." (Environmental News Network)

Book review: "The Seeds of Change" - "LORDS OF THE HARVEST; Biotech, Big Money, and the Future of Food, By Daniel Charles.

Genetically modified foods have become a staple of the American diet; not surprisingly, they are a featured item on the nation's journalistic menu as well. StarLink corn, Roundup Ready wheat and Bt soybeans have all become familiar to news and supermarket consumers alike -- sometimes because of their promise, sometimes because of their potential consequences and sometimes because things already have gone wrong. Advocates on both sides are eager to instruct the public in how to greet some of the most important new technologies on Earth." (Marc Kaufman, Washington Post)

Book review: "Also Sprach Homo mutans: a review of Shrinking the Cat Genetic Engineering Before We Knew About Genes" - "To provide a background for considering possible benefits and drawbacks of genetic engineering, Hubbell discusses the successes and failures from centuries of selective breeding and tinkering with corn, silkworms, cats, and apples." (Norman A. Johnson, Science)

November 26, 2001

"Terrorism and You -- The Real Odds" - "The odds of dying in an automobile accident each year are about one in 7,000, yet we continue to drive. The odds of dying from heart disease in any given year are one in 400 and of dying from cancer one in 600, yet many of us fail to exercise or maintain a healthy diet. We have learned to live with these common threats to our health. Yet we have been afraid to return to the malls and the skies." (Michael L. Rothschild, Washington Post)

"Ban of chemicals in breast milk defeated" - "Labour MEPs have "appalled" environment ministers by unexpectedly blocking plans to control dangerous chemicals that build up in breast milk.

They angered colleagues and environmentalists by defying the socialist whip in the European Parliament to vote down the plans. The moves had already been agreed by environment ministers, including Britain's Michael Meacher, and accepted by the MEPs' representatives in committee negotiations.

The result, described by other MEPs as "a disaster", is bound to lead to a Whitehall row as it appears to have been the result of pressure from the Department of Trade and Industry encroaching into Mr Meacher's area of responsibility. Mr Meacher told The Independent on Sunday yesterday: "I am appalled by this vote and will vigorously pursue this matter on Monday." (Independent)

Members of the European Parliament are not all hysterical anti-industry psychotics - imagine that...

"Scientists finding fungi a valuable ally in habitat restoration" - "An offhand experiment in decontamination by a curious mushroom expert has led to technology that environmental scientists say could make dramatic repairs to the torn fabric of the globe's ecosystems.

When E. coli contamination threatened Paul Stamets' inlet in Olympia, Wash., the mycologist -- on a lark -- laid down some mushroom beds upland to filter the water. A year later, the coliform count had nearly disappeared.

Those mushroom mats have evolved into promising technology called mycoremediation, in which fungi work as eco-warriors to rapidly break down waste. Stamets partnered with a group of scientists at Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL) to create the technology." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Apathy of the young hits green policies" - "The green crusade has fallen victim to public apathy. Fewer people are willing to make sacrifices to protect the environment than a decade ago, according to a report in British Social Attitudes. Despite high-profile issues such as genetically-modified food, BSE in cattle, and the transport crisis brought on by problems on the railways, people are less likely than before to take a stand." (Independent)

Apathetic or discerning? "Genetically-modified food" isn't an issue outside the media and comic theatre groups; "BSE" is open to significant questions, not least of which is whether it is really associated with so-called 'new variant' CJD and; as far as transport goes, the more affluent young of today are far more likely to get in the car and get where they want to go while finding it little problem. "Apathy" is a strange description for not wasting time on theatrical non-issues.

"As China's wallets get fatter, so do its citizens" - "BEIJING — As prosperity has grown in the world's most populous nation, so has the girth of its citizens. Rich diets and couch-potato lifestyles have created hundreds of millions of overweight people in China, a country where famine is recent and hunger remains common in some rural areas. "The transition (to flabbiness) that took 50 years in the United States and Europe, in China has taken only 10 or 15 years and is accelerating," said Dr. Tim Gill, Asia-Pacific regional coordinator for the International Obesity Task Force, which is linked to the World Health Organization." (Knight Ridder Newspapers)

"New study clarifies cancer-insulin link" - "High insulin levels caused by inactivity and excess weight may make cancer more likely, according to scientists with the American Institute for Cancer Research, or AICR. AICR researchers say their new theory — based on a review of scientific literature dealing with obesity and cancer risk — could provide the "missing link" that explains why cancer is more common among the overweight and the obese." (Washington Times)

Today's GW hand-wringing: "Storm warning" - "TASMANIA faces seasons of heavy rain and violent coastal storms followed by periods of parched weather as a result of climate change. Australia's leading climate change experts will predict Tasmanian weather patterns at a forum in Hobart today. "In Tasmania, global climate change is likely to mean drier summers, autumns and springs with more rainfall in winter," said Gwen Andrews of the Australian Greenhouse Office." (The Mercury)

Seattle P-I's convinced though: "Bush blunders on climate treaty" - "The world has something to celebrate now that the world's nations at long last have agreed to the framework of the Kyoto climate treaty. But Americans have precious little to celebrate, thanks to the Bush administration's disgraceful refusal to sign on to the protocol, which aims to reduce the fossil-fuel emissions that contribute to global warming." (Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial)

"Bone repair boosted by discovery" - ""Designer" molecules that encourage the growth of new bone could speed the healing of fractures or help cancer patients. Scientists at Northwestern University in the US say they have recreated the structure of bone at a microscopic level. The molecules that form this structure - created by the team - "mimic" the appearance of tiny collagen fibres, which are key to strong bone growth." (BBC Online)

November 24-25, 2001

"Media modesty versus meltdown" - "The American Statistical Association offered at its annual meeting a t-shirt bearing the motto: 'Uncertainty: one thing you can always count on.' Yet a story in the Washington Post after 11 September appeared to contradict this, reporting that 'one intelligence official said there is a "100 percent" chance of an attack should the United States strike Afghanistan'.

This seeming guarantee of future terror poses a challenge for the news media as well as for the general public. What does it mean to say that a catastrophe is virtually certain - and how should we respond?" (David Murray, Sp!ked)

"Firearms interest soars in Bay State" - "If a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged, a similar attitude adjustment could be boosting the size and changing the face of the region's gun-toting population. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, gun instructors say, attendance at firearms courses in Massachusetts has skyrocketed among a broad swath of the population for whom personal safety has become a big worry. Most instructors are reporting that their classes have grown by 50 percent or more since the attacks." (Boston Globe)

Funny, didn't see this in the papers: "Delayed sexual development in adolescents" - "Sir--Jan Staessen and colleagues (May 26, p 1660) report a delayed sexual development and a reduced testicular volume in adolescents in the Wilrijk and Hoboken suburbs of Antwerp, Belgium (study group), compared with those in Peer (control group). They suggest exposure to endocrine disruptors (polychlorinated biphenyls [PCBs] and dioxins) during sensitive life stages as a possible explanation for the observed phenomenon, although they note no correlation between serum concentrations of dioxins and PCBs and testicular volume. We disagree with their conclusions because there are strong indications that the observed differences between the areas are related to shortcomings in the methods, and because hormone measurements done in the 80 male adolescents do not substantiate their conclusions." (Correspondence, The Lancet) [Authors' reply follows, same page]

Isn't it disappointing that the media, so keen to beat the drum about so-called endocrine disruptors and their alleged hazards last May, have since failed to even mention any contention regarding methodology and result of the touted study.

"Ancient mines cause modern pollution" - "NEW YORK, Nov 23 - Toxins produced by mines and smelters thousands of years ago may be taking their toll on the health of people living today in the Middle East, according to researchers. "Even after 2000 years of dilution by environmental agencies such as wind, the heavy metals remain in high concentrations and continue to exert toxic effects on plants and animals including the humans who inhabit the area," said F. Brian Pyatt of Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham, UK." (Reuters Health)

"New York families plan lawsuits over recent West Nile virus deaths" - "MINEOLA, N.Y. - The families of two people who died of West Nile virus this fall plan to sue Nassau County for not spraying against infected mosquitoes. After spraying insecticide by helicopter in 1999 when the virus was first found in the region, the Long Island county limited spraying in 2000 to one smaller area and this year did not spray at all." (AP)

Hmm... quite apart from the fact that spraying may not have made any significant difference anyway, you can't completely eliminate risk, suing the county will only effectively increase everyone's taxes, win, lose or draw. Why not go after the real cause of the perceived problem? The spraying would likely have been done were it not for anti-chemical hysteria fostered by so-called "environment" and "public health" groups, why not go after them instead? After all, they've got deeper pockets than does the county these days.

"Levels of carcinogen in air fall dramatically" - "A regulation forcing refineries to reduce the amount of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, in gasoline has led to a dramatic fall in the level of the substance detected in air-quality measuring stations, Environment Canada says. The federal department said benzene concentrations in the air last year were down more than 50 per cent from 1992 levels." (Globe and Mail) [Complete]

"Euro Coins Could Cause Skin Disease" - "STOCKHOLM - Two of the eight euro coins due to come into circulation in January release so much nickel that people allergic to the metal could develop hand eczema, according to a study obtained by Reuters on Friday. Just five minutes of contact with one-euro (88 cents) and two-euro coins containing nickel alloy could trigger symptoms, including skin inflammation or itching, the study by a Swedish dermatologist and British laboratory scientist said." (Reuters)

"Cellphone shops turn deaf ear to safety" - "RETAILERS are failing to give parents crucial warnings on the potential risks of mobile phones to their children’s health, Scotland on Sunday can reveal. Shops have been urged to give government-produced leaflets on the possible dangers posed by mobile phones to parents considering buying one for their children. But with just a month to go before Christmas, when handsets are again expected to top children’s wish lists, a survey of 20 shops across Scotland found just one that gave out the leaflet without asking." (Scotland on Sunday)

"CJD death toll predicted to jump next year" - "THE number of people dying from the human form of mad cow disease is expected to rise by 40% next year, according to official forecasts. Figures published by the CJD surveillance unit in Edinburgh suggest that about 35 people will die from the illness, which would be the highest annual total since the first recorded death in 1995. The total for this year is expected to be 25. Up to this month, 102 people have died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). A further nine are alive but suspected of having the disease." (Sunday Times)

Just in case you found vCJD deaths estimate drops again (New Scientist) too reassuring I guess. And, still trying to reclassify ovines as bovines:

"1,500 sheep 'could have had BSE'" - "An analysis of the potential spread of BSE among Britain's sheep flock has suggested that up to 1,500 animals could have been infected at the height of the epidemic. No cases of the so-called mad cow disease have been observed in sheep." (BBC Online) | Twenty sheep may have BSE, study says (The Times)

"The rat-protection racket" - "An environmental group recently got into the rat-protection racket. Astonishingly enough, it did so without giving to the American Trial Lawyers Association — at least not directly. The Fund for Animals announced that it is suing the Interior Department to block the department's plan to exterminate the rats on Anacapa Island, a part of the Channel Islands National Park located off the coast of Southern California. The offending rats are neither endangered nor unique to Anacapa Island. However, they have been feasting on a native seabird long enough to threaten it with an endangered species listing." (Washington Times editorial)

"Give food fascists the final word? Fat chance" - "The food fascists are at it again. They're already telling us what we ought to eat, and now they want to make us eat it. An official from the World Health Organisation is in Australia now, telling us that we are among the most obese nations in the world, which is probably true, but then preaching the message of government compulsion to make us change." (Padraic P. McGuinness, Sydney Morning Herald)

"In praise of bad habits" - "In the Western world we live in an age that is, by all objective criteria, the safest that our species has ever experienced in its evolution and its history. We are healthier than any of our predecessors have been. We live on average considerably longer than even our immediate progenitors. Today, the infant death rate is less than 6 per 1000 live births. Just 100 years ago the figure was 150. Even in the late 1950s four times as many children died in their first year of life than they do today.

Our diet, contrary to all the 'anti-junk food propaganda', is not only the most nutritious but also the most free from potentially dangerous contaminants and bacteria that we have ever consumed. Despite the class divisions which remain within our society, and which reflect themselves in the health gap between the rich and the poor, we have, as Harold Macmillan once famously said, 'never had it so good' when it comes to a lack of objective risks to our lives and to our wellbeing." (Dr Peter Marsh, Sp!ked)

"Should we implement the Kyoto Protocol? No!" - "The great 'global warming' caravan has descended in full force on Marrakech in southern Morocco. And what a caravanserai for a 1960s soul: 'Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, they walk into mine....'" (Philip Stott on the "No" side of the Sp!ked debate) | Click here to see responses from Jeff Norman; Bill Durodié; David Wojick; Richard Courtney and more.

"Millions of flood homes 'unsaleable'" - "MILLIONS of homeowners face being unable to sell their homes after insurers threatened to withdraw cover from homes at risk of flooding.

... Affected areas include Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, Kent, Sussex, particularly Lewes, and large parts of Yorkshire including areas close to Hull and the Don Valley. But insurers have said that with the risk of flooding from global warming “anyone living near a river” could be in danger." (The Times)

Insurance companies wish to hide behind "global warming" as an excuse to offload insured risks onto the public purse (good for shareholders and profits if they can do so). The sad fact, of course, is that these homes are built on flood plains and flood plains are so named because, well, that's where flood water goes (duh!).

"UNEP figures confirm 2010 Kyoto targets will not be met" - "Fears that greenhouse gas emissions will be well above the 2010 Kyoto targets have been confirmed by the latest global emissions report from the UN Environment Programme, UNEP. Despite a small reduction in emissions since 1990 from the countries that are party to the Kyoto Protocol, the trend is upwards in the foreseeable future, predicts UNEP. Reductions in emissions from 1990-1995 are now believed to be due largely to economic collapse in several of the eastern European countries." (Edie)

Good work Sherlock! What tipped you off? The rational scientific world has been pointing this out for years. The EU illusion is a political artifice designed to wrest trade and manufacturing advantage but absolutely nothing more. The Kyoto Protocol serves no climatically useful purpose whatsoever and was never designed to do so.

"That sinking feeling" - "Most people have never heard of Tuvalu, the world's second-smallest nation. Now, it's an environmental cause celebre because it seems to be slowly slipping into the Pacific. SIMON HOUPT reports" (Globe and Mail)

Most notable for actually including the following passages:

"From 1978 to 1999, the [Tuvalu-] relative sea-level rise was 0.07 millimetres a year [about one-quarter of one inch per century] -- "minuscule," [Dr. Wolfgang Scherer, director of the National Tidal Facility at the Flinders University of South Australia in Adelaide] says. Since his facility has been gathering data, in the past eight years, the average increase in relative sea level is 0.0 millimetres."

"Some Tuvaluans wish that the environmentalists would stop trying to do them any favours. Elisala Pita, the assistant cabinet secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment, says his country isn't sinking. Reached this week at his office on the main island of Funafuti, he lashes out at those who say they are trying to help Tuvalu in the name of environmentalism. "Things are getting out of hand," he fumes. "Tuvalu is being used for the issue of climate change. There is a lot of misleading information. People are writing books or articles saying Farewell to Tuvalu, saying Tuvalu is sinking, telling all these lies, just using Tuvalu to prove their point. As a Tuvaluan, I am extremely disappointed and deeply hurt because those are not facts. No island is sinking. Tuvalu is not sinking. It is still floating."

Pita continues, "Climate change is important to us, but it's not an issue we would use to justify our policies on migration or foreign aid. That's totally not right, it's unjustified and scientifically not based on findings. There is vulnerability to climate change everywhere. In India, the problem is on a much bigger scale. There are coastal erosions on Tuvalu, of course, but that doesn't mean the island is sinking. This erosion is caused by man-made infrastructure." Beachhead erosion has been increasing for years because the Tuvaluans use sand -- one of the only natural resources they have -- for construction materials. Pita pleads for the truth to be heard around the world. "I'm sorry, my friend, I can't help you," he says. "We do not entertain people doing news based on rumours."

Not bad Simon Houpt, reporting the whole story, not bad at all.

"Arctic seal's odyssey" - "An arctic seal is on its way home through the UK after heading off-course and ending up in the Mediterranean." (BBC Online)

Let's see, if:

"Mediterranean shrimp find 'a sign of global warming'" - "A rare Mediterranean shrimp found off Britain for the first time in 87 years could be a sign of global warming, according to a marine expert. ..." (Ananova)

then this Artic seal's appearance in the Med. must be a harbinger of extraordinary global cooling?

"Oil firms fear Kyoto too costly; Ratifying treaty could make Canada uncompetitive" - "CALGARY - Oil and gas companies could move out of Canada if the Kyoto climate-change agreement boosts costs too much, Charlie Fischer, president and chief executive of Nexen Inc., said yesterday. "We're an international company, we invest money not only in Canada, but in the United States and other parts of the world. If the opportunity to invest in Canada becomes uncompetitive, then we will reallocate our capital to other jurisdictions." (Financial Post)

Better way late than never - I guess: "Pan industry grouping formed to handle Kyoto policy concerns" - “A coalition of New Zealand business organisations spanning the electricity, petroleum, gas, forestry, agriculture, cement and transport industries has come together to work on Kyoto climate change policies. This coalition has formed because of rising concerns about the current direction of Government policy”, Pan Industry Group spokesman Chris Baker said in a statement today. The major concerns are the integrity of the overall process, and the Government’s dismissal of the economic risk the Kyoto Protocol represents to NZ. “We are united in our concern. We don’t want to see our economy sacrificed and we want to see the process allow sufficient time for the full impacts to be understood." (Press release)

Done in a last-minute hurry fellas? "Pan Industry Group," P.I.G.. PIG? Oh good choice guys, good choice! Green-retained PR firms are going to have a field day with that one! Imagine, for a moment, the throwaway lines already ceded to your debate opponents: "What's to say? Even the polluting industries group call themselves PIGs!"... Remember that anti-industry greens don't need to be right or even vaguely truthful (why start now), they just need the catchy sound bite and you're handing it to them. What was wrong with say, "Employers' Group" as an eg [facetious pun]?

Might I suggest that you do yourselves and your country the great service of hiring a PR flack or two? After all, your opponents will accuse you of doing so anyway.

PIG forsooth!

"Tooth of tiger, thigh of thylacine ... the trick to conjuring up a long-dead creature" - "In another small step in a controversial plan to clone a species that has been extinct for more than half a century, DNA has been extracted from a Tasmanian tiger tooth and a dice-sized piece of bone cut from a thylacine's femur." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Speeding up the Evolutionary Process -- Biotech firm uses patented method to accelerate development" - "From TV dinners to computers, improving speed and efficiency are deemed the true hallmarks of progress. The same tenet holds true in science: Why wait thousands of years for nature to do its work when it can be done in a few months? This is the concept behind the new biotech firm Morphotek. Using a patented technology platform called morphogenics, the company has given evolution's normal crawling pace a rocket-powered backpack." (Hal Cohen, The Scientist)

"Harper rallies GM protesters" - "Scotland's only Green MSP is attempting to give a morale boost to protesters fighting a genetically modified crop test site on the Black Isle. Robin Harper was due to meet demonstrators at the GM protest camp at Munlochy on the Black Isle. They have kept a vigil for the past four months." (BBC Online)

"Biotech Foods May Be Safer" - "After all the hoopla about transferring genes to plants, the European Union has issued a report summarizing 81 research projects financed by the EU over the last 15 years on genetically modified (GM) crops and the products from them. The research found that the risks to human health and the environment were the same as with conventional plant breeding. In fact, the report concluded GM products are even safer than conventional foods because of more precise technology and greater regulatory hurdles.

Opponents of GM foods raise the specter of out of control weeds, allergies, and other problems. However, regulations require testing for these and more potential problems. So far, the biggest benefit of GM crops has been the reduction in use of pesticide sprays – a boon to the environment - but the EU has had a freeze on new GM products for two years. The report is available here

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Readers of NNF who disagree with our reporting on the proven safety of GM crops repeatedly charge that we are in the pocket of corporate agriculture. The sad truth is that no one has offered us a dollar for voicing our opinion of scientific studies. The same question needs to be asked of those who view this as dangerous. What [are] your motives? The facts on this issue seem pretty clear." (Nutrition News Focus)

"Forestry group abandons GM trial" - "One of four field trials approved for genetically modified pine trees and sheep has been abandoned by Carter Holt Harvey because the forestry giant does not want to be at the centre of a "political storm". Proposed new rules for GM experiments are to go before the cabinet on Monday and may be introduced to Parliament as an amendment bill next week." (New Zealand Herald)

"Wheat getting left behind in technology race" - "Farmers in Canada and the United States may fear the market impact of genetically modified wheat. But over the long term, says North Dakota State University economist Bill Wilson, delays in scientific advancements of wheat have made the crop a poor cousin to corn and soybeans." (The Western Producer)

"Chain pledges GM-free house brands" - "Consumer demand in New Zealand is driving one supermarket chain to ensure its house brands are GM-free.

Products containing genetically-modified (GM) ingredients will need to be labelled from December 7. The food industry has opposed labelling, saying it will increase costs. The Greens say consumers will view a GM-label as they would a skull and crossbones - no one will buy GM products." (Evening Post, NZ)

"PHILIPPINES: Guard towers and barbed wire to protect Monsanto's latest trial farm" - "Biotech giant Monsanto Philippines will implement stricter security measures when it undertakes another controversial field trial of its Bacillus Thuringensis (Bt) corn in a few weeks.

A more secure trial farm is necessary, according to Liza Parreno, Monsanto’s field supervisor, to prevent militant environmental groups destroying the area, as they did during the last Bt trial in Tampakan, South Cotabato, in August this year.

So the trial farm will be located on a half-hectare lot, surrounded by double eight-foot walls, and with plain iron sheets and barbed wire at five-meter intervals. Furthermore guard houses and a watchtower, staffed by local residents, will be built into the four corners of the farm." (just-food.com)

"World food issue hampered by GM" - "ROME, Italy – The controversy over the acceptability of genetically modified varieties of food is a divisive issue percolating near the surface of the international campaign against world hunger. It was on display in early November as agriculture ministers, food bureaucrats and activists gathered for a week of meetings hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which is organizing the anti-hunger campaign." (The Western Producer)

"China Could Be Asia's Biotech Star -Research Group" - "SINGAPORE - China could well become Asia's brightest biotechnology star but the region first needs to develop its venture capitalists' market to support the fledgling industry, the Singapore arm of SG Securities says." (Reuters)

November 23, 2001

"The CDC’s Public Health Turkeys" - "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention performed admirably in managing the recent anthrax attacks. But that performance is a lone highlight for an agency in desperate need of something useful to do." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Radiant Hopes for the Holidays" - "Finding a silver lining from the recent anthrax scares isn’t easy. But thanks to the Postal Service, people may finally discover one: a clearer understanding about a life-saving food processing technology called irradiation." (Duane D. Freese, Tech Central Station)

"vCJD deaths estimate drops again" - "The human form of mad cow disease is likely to claim about 200 victims in the UK, according to a new estimate of the likely size of the vCJD epidemic. This total is much lower than the predictions of previous modelling studies and suggests the outbreak is at its peak. There have been 111 confirmed or probable vCJD cases in the UK to date." (New Scientist) | Human BSE 'epidemic' downgraded to 200 cases (Telegraph)

"Osteoporosis study was ignored" - "A curious story appeared this week in one of the country's national newspapers (oh, the Globe, if you must know). Page 1, it was, and for good reason: Canadian researchers had shown that men and women suffer spinal fractures from osteoporosis in equal numbers.

But the actual research was published months ago, in a journal called Osteoporosis International, and it attracted no media attention. Indeed, a follow-up paper, published in the same journal a few weeks ago, also got little or no play.

The unfortunate fact is that most of the research we hear about comes from the pages of the major players in scientific publishing -- Science, Nature, Cell, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet and a half-dozen others." (Michael Smith, CNEWS Science)

"Coffee may boost estrogen levels in women" - "NEW YORK, Nov 22 - Drinking more than two cups of coffee daily may boost estrogen levels in women and could exacerbate conditions such as endometriosis and breast pain, study findings suggest. According to the researchers, women who drank the most coffee had higher levels of estradiol, a naturally occurring form of estrogen, during the early follicular phase, or days 1 to 5 of the menstrual cycle." (Reuters Health)

Sigh... "Parliament misled over recycled dioxins" - "A government minister has twice misled parliament over a serious health hazard after being given misleading and inaccurate information by Whitehall's environment watchdog, a television investigation revealed last night." (The Guardian)

"One Maryland County Moves to Regulate In-Home Smoking" - "BALTIMORE, Nov. 21 — A suburban Washington county has approved a strict antismoking measure that would impose $750 fines against residents if the odor of their smoking irritates neighbors." (New York Times)

"Smoking dagga can increase cancer risk" - "Paris - A person who smokes dagga could be increasing his or her chances of falling ill with several types of cancer, according to a report to be released by the French health ministry on Thursday.

"A marijuana cigarette contains 50mg of tars, while a tobacco cigarette contains 12mg," the report declares. "The concentration of other carcinogens from these tars is also greater." (Sapa-DPA)

"England's woodlands growing to 1,000-year record total" - "There are now 25 trees for every person in England and oaks have become the country's commonest species, according to a doomsday book of the country's trees published yesterday by the forestry commission. By 2020, there should be more woods in England than when William the Conquerer first ordered a count in 1086, when it was estimated that trees covered 15% of the country." (The Guardian)

Another Montreal Protocol / EU farce in the making: "UK facing 'fridge crisis'" - "Thousands of old fridges could soon be found littering streets and waste grounds across the UK, following the introduction of an EC directive controlling their disposal." (BBC Online)

"The Good News is the Bad News is Wrong" - "First, the good news. Petroleum, coal and natural gas supply around 84% of energy consumption in the U.S. and 80% worldwide. For now and the near future, fossil fuels are key to improving human health and welfare - and the environment. The reason is that energy use is essential to eradicating poverty that is destructive to humankind and the earth. We are grateful that longevity, human welfare and the environment have improved dramatically in the 20th century owing to unfettered access to energy." (Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

"Forest management may mitigate global warming" - "MADISON --A study published today, Nov. 23, in the journal Science suggests that forest management may be used to restrain the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas." (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

'Global warming' needed? "Excess winter deaths linked to temperatures in cold homes" - "The lives of several thousand people in the United Kingdom each year could probably be saved by improvements in the insulation and heating of their homes, a new study by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has suggested." (British Medical Journal)

Jump off the Marrakesh Express before it's too late - "Blowing smoke may be the best image yet for the 200-plus pages of impenetrable globaleze that make up the content of the Marrakesh Accords. Adopted earlier this month in the Moroccan city somewhere south of Casablanca, the Marrakesh Accords are the latest step in the relentless attempt by the world's Greens to impose the Kyoto Protocol on the world economy. (Terence Corcoran, National Post)

"Plan would cost less than future damage" - "A balanced view of climate change must consider both the costs and benefits of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the potential future costs of not taking immediate action." (David Anderson, National Post)

" That's wishful thinking" - "In a recent article, I argued that the enthusiasm for Kyoto felt by our political leaders is based on a manifest ignorance of the relevant science and economics. After reading the response, above, from David Anderson, the Minister of the Environment, I rest my case." (Ross McKitrick, National Post)

"Tobin's remarks stir Kyoto hornet's nest; PM denies cabinet rift" - "OTTAWA - Jean Chrétien yesterday denied there is a rift in the Cabinet over ratifying the Kyoto climate-change treaty. "The government has one policy that we all agree on," the Prime Minister told the House of Commons, trying to deflect opposition charges that the government is sending mixed messages on its commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. "We want and we hope that we will be able to sign the Kyoto agreement ... the negotiations are not terminated yet. At the meeting in Bonn, we made progress on some elements of it. We made more progress at the meeting in Marrakesh last week." (Alan Toulin, Financial Post)

"Seoul to Ratify Kyoto Protocol Next Year" - "With 165-countries around the world having agreed to implement the Kyoto Protocol in Morocco just this past weekend, the Korean government is moving quickly to draw up comprehensive measures on global warming. Officials in Seoul decided Wednesday to ratify it within the first half of next year and prepare for its implementation." (Chosun)

"Carbon curbs tipped to push up prices" - "The Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming could add 4c a litre to the price of petrol and 8 or 9 per cent to commercial and residential electricity prices by 2008, according to a study by PA Consulting Group. The study, commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development, looks at the effect of a proposed regime of tradeable permits to emit greenhouse gases." (New Zealand Herald)

Today's scam: "You Can Plug Into 'Green' Power Option; Costs Extra But Pays Off in Helping to Cut Pollution" - "While government, environmentalists and utilities wrangle over how to cut pollution from the nation's power plants, consumers can take the issue into their own hands by buying "green" power. They can do so even in states like Georgia, where environmentally troublesome "brown" power --- coal and nuclear --- dominate." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Germany over-supports renewable energy - economist" - "MAINZ, Germany - Germany is too generous in its support of renewable energy since it can already easily meet European Union green power targets, a German energy research institute said." (Reuters)

"Biotechnology In Food And Agriculture" - "Biotechnology provides a set of tools that, if appropriately integrated with other technologies, can be applied for the sustainable development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, as well as the food industry. Biotechnology includes a wide array of techniques and applications. Examples include micropropagation, allowing for multiplication of virus-free plants; marker-assisted selection applied to conventional breeding, or genetic engineering, for the production of genetically modified organisms with new, improved traits. The impact of modern biotechnology on the environment and human and animal health needs careful assessment on a case by case basis. FAO may provide advice and assistance to countries on this matter. However, final decisions on the use of biotechnology remain a national responsibility.

This website contains a range of features that may be of value to anyone interested in the role and impact of biotechnology in food and agriculture." (FAO)

Book review: “The Green Phoenix: A History of Genetically Modified Plants” - "Lurquin's book is the first to describe accurately the history of plant genetic engineering. For students labouring at the bench and getting frustrated at the lack of reproducibility of their experiments, reading this work will provide reassurance. Even scientists who are no longer at the bench, and are now mostly preoccupied with administrative and teaching duties, will find it an important reminder that research is a demanding task, with much disappointment and controversy, and few successes." (F. C. Botha, Nature)

"Reversing the biotech 'brain drain'" - "CSIRO Livestock Industries has commenced a huge biotechnology recruitment drive that aims to reverse some of Australia's scientific 'brain drain'. They are inviting the best scientists in the world to join their world class team, with particular focus on scientists specialising in modern biotechnology - areas such as bioinformatics, cell biology, molecular genetics, protein biochemistry and immunology are being targeted. "CSIRO Livestock Industries Australia is about to dramatically increase its present capacity in the biotechnology sphere in response to the changing needs of the nation's livestock industries," says Livestock Industries Chief, Shaun Coffey." (CSIRO)

"Delhi acts on genetically engineered crops" - "NEW DELHI - Perturbed over the controversial BT cotton flooding the markets of the western state of Gujarat, the federal government on Tuesday sent a high-level team to the state to prevent further flow of the genetically engineered crop into commercial centers and ensure its quick procurement." (Asia Times)

"India to destroy illegally grown GM crops" - "AHMEDABAD, India - Authorities in India's western Gujarat state have begun procurement of illegally grown gene-engineered cotton from farmers to prevent replanting of the seeds, officials said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Bt Cotton Firm Seeks More Time For Appeal" - "NEW DELHI: Navabharat Seeds, accused of supplying genetically engineered Bt Cotton to farmers in Gujarat, has sought a week's time from the Delhi High Court to file an amended petition against the order on the crop's destruction. The firm's counsel, Vineet Bhagat, told the court Monday that more time was required since his client was not reachable as the Gujarat government had pressed criminal charges against the company in Ahmedabad." (Times of India)

"Allay fears over genetically-modified food" - "CHENNAI, NOV. 21. The Chairman of the M.S. Swaminathan, Research Foundation, Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, has suggested the setting up a national commission on genetic modification for food and health security without further delay for an objective and speedy risk- benefit to inspire public trust in the genetically modified (GM) food varieties." (The Hindu)

"EU biotech progress hindered by poor funding" - "Europe's pledge to be at the cutting edge of the biotechnology revolution is being hampered by poor support and funding for scientific research, the European Commission said in a report due on Thursday. The development of biotechnology is seen as crucial for related sectors such as pharmaceuticals and was singled out by European Union leaders at a summit in Stockholm as an area of innovation which needs to be strengthened." (Reuters)

"Our chance to use GM to make things better" - "In the 1980s many of us hoped that New Zealand manufacturing and innovation would develop so we would be the Switzerland of the South Pacific. It wasn't to be. However, the gods must favour us, because we are being given a second shot at it. When the Government announced its decision on the report of the Royal Commission into Genetic Modification, the Prime Minister emphasised that we could not afford to turn our back on the opportunities offered by this new technology." (Owen McShane, New Zealand Herald)

November 22, 2001

"UK: Save our farms, save our food, says FOE" - "Friends of the Earth today called for radical measures, including a new legally enforceable code for supermarkets, to safeguard the future of farming in the UK - for the benefit of consumers, rural economies and the countryside. Launching Get real about food and farming, a new report spelling out Friends of the Earth's vision for the future of farming in the UK, the organisation said the Government must act now to protect the farming economy which has been seriously undermined by successive food scares, disease and the impact of cheap imports." (Reuters)

This is bizarre given FoE's history of absurd anti-chemical campaigns, largely targeting farming. They've run fundraisers on everything from traces of herbicides in the water table to "chemicals in breast milk" and now they are calling on the "gummint" to rescue farmers from the result of scares they either instigated or perpetuated. Amazing!

"Allergic to real life; Most of those who claim to have a food allergy are just on a diet" - "The myth of food allergies has finally been exposed. Celebrities and their pretenders won’t, after all, choke to death if their vegetables are not lightly steamed or they accidentally bite into wheat-infested bread. One in five claims that food intolerance is the root of their physical malaise, but the true figures are nearer 1-2 per cent of the population. In recent tests most of those who were surreptitiously fed foods — disguised in soup — to which they were supposedly intolerant showed no ill-effects whatsoever. From now on, we are told by the trend pundits, eating everything is set to be the new food fad — the triumph of the well adjusted." (The Times)

"Physical training in your dreams" - "Scientists have come up with just about the best news that a couch potato could ever want to hear. They say you can increase the strength of your muscles just by sitting back and imagine yourself taking exercise." (BBC Online)

So what's new? An unfortunate number of "scientists"/"ecologists"/...  have been doing research this way for decades.

"Shooting Match: Does the anti-gun crowd think you're stupid?" - "How bad has the post-September 11 era been for the anti-gun lobby? To understand fully, consider a simple thought experiment:" (Sam MacDonald, Reason)

"Black Death caused by 'ebola' virus, not rats" - "THE Black Death was not caused by rats passing bubonic plague bacteria but by an ebola-like virus transmitted from person to person, British scientists said yesterday. A study at Liverpool University suggests the disease that first appeared in Europe in 1347 and spread like wildfire for 300 years did not need insanitary conditions and could strike again at any time." (Telegraph)

"Cancer death rates falling" - "Fewer Australians are dying from cancer, making Australia one of the few countries in the world where cancer mortality rates are falling for both men and women. The latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show since 1993, mortality rates have decreased at a rate of 1.7 per cent a year for men and 1.3 per cent for women." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Environmental apathy grips Australia" - "People's concerns about the environment have dropped to a new low, with more people saying they don't have time to do anything about it, new figures show. Concern about environmental problems among households has dropped to its lowest level since recording by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) started in 1992." (AAP)

"The instructional tale of the million-dollar fish" - "I thought it was a case of fish worship. You know, the sweatshirt that says, "Fish Worship: Can It Be Wrong?" Mic Dinsmore, executive director of the Port of Seattle, was saying that the third runway at Sea-Tac airport was going to cost an extra $200 million. The Port needed that to build cisterns to store enough rainwater to cover one acre, 390 feet deep, so that when it rained really hard, it would not flood three small streams and imperil the salmon. How many salmon? Dinsmore wasn't sure. In Des Moines, Miller and Walker creeks, maybe 200." (Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times)

"Trade group rebuts effort to shut NY nuke plants" - "NEW YORK - Arguing that customer costs would increase, an electric trade association in New York opposed a recent effort by environmental groups and local elected officials to shut nuclear power plants due to security concerns, the group said in a statement this week." (Reuters)

"NY regulator ordered to review impact of NYC turbines" - "NEW YORK - New York's highest court handed community and environmental groups a victory by requiring the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to evaluate the environmental impact of 10 new power plants in New York City or face closing them, the groups said in a statement." (Reuters)

"Britain launches new schemes to help fuel poor" - "LONDON - Britain will spend 15 million pounds ($21.27 million) on pilot power and renewable energy schemes to help low-income households heat their homes better in winter, said the government yesterday. The schemes are part of the government's fuel poverty strategy to cut heating costs and ensure all poor households can afford to keep their homes sufficiently warm by 2010." (Reuters)

While imposing some of the world's most onerous fuel taxation (some 300% on unleaded gasoline) and making the problem worse with absurd "climate levies" on their grid mains electricity generation, they're in a panic about "fuel poverty"? And, after ripping off £multi-billions annually, their sop to the populace is £15 million? No wonder they pretend to believe in "catastrophic human-induced climate change" - they're using the scare to justify their entrenchment as modern-day robber barons.

"UK emission trading to go ahead despite EU concerns" - "LONDON - Britain is pushing ahead with plans to allow industry to trade pollution rights despite the EU declaring the scheme fails to dovetail with its own proposed system, British officials said this week." (Reuters)

"Tobin hints Canada may not sign Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - Brian Tobin cast doubt on Canada ratifying the Kyoto Agreement on climate change by saying Ottawa would do nothing to handcuff industry in its ability to compete with the United States. "There is a very strong consensus around the Cabinet table and in caucus that Canada must do nothing in competitive terms that would handcuff our capacity to compete around the world and with the United States," the Industry Ministry told mining industry executives yesterday. His comments are the first from a senior government to raise strong concerns about Kyoto." (Financial Post)

"Green group urges Canadians to adopt a polar bear" - "TORONTO - Canadians can give the environment a big bear hug this winter if they adopt a polar bear in a program sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund." (Reuters)

When WWF says "sponsored by" here they really mean they are running another fundraiser and not that they are actually sponsoring anything. The excuse this time is that they need the money to provide polar bears with shades and sunblock or something about protecting them from global warming. WWF carefully neglect to mention that there are such things as polar bears now despite the MCO (Medieval Climate Optimum) that ended fewer than seven centuries past, not to mention the Holocene Maximum, that period of the Holocene (current interglacial period) when the planet was significantly warmer for about three thousand years. Or are they suggesting that polar bears only evolved into being polar bears since the 14th Century AD? Oh puh-lease!

Has CO2-Induced Global Warming Been Wrongly Accused of Decimating Cloud-Forest Ecosystems?" - "Summary: With the publication of an important new paper in Science, it's sure beginning to look that way." (co2science.org)

"A 700-Year History of Baffin Bay Sea-Ice Extent" - "Summary: Once again, real-world data reveal something quite different from what climate alarmists call recent unprecedented warming. Would you believe a return to Little Ice Age conditions? No, that's not possible, is it? Climatic Change 49: 129-145." (co2science.org)

"The Little Ice Age in China" - "Summary: Evidence continues to accumulate to refute some of the favorite claims of climate alarmists who view the rising CO2 content of earth's atmosphere as - according to an advertisement for the new book Climate Change: Science, Strategies & Solutions (Eileen Claussen, Editor) - "the greatest environmental challenge of the 21st Century". Progress in Natural Science 10: 54-61." (co2science.org)

"Ice Shelf Behavior Along the Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica" - "Summary: The ice shelves in question have lost about 6.8% of their area over the past 34 years. Should we all relocate to higher ground?  Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 7097-7106." (co2science.org)

"Getting warmer?: Science remains unclear in the debate over global warming" - "UNTIL IT WAS overshadowed by the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, combating the potential dangers of global warming was at the top of the international political agenda. The issue remains undecided and has grown even more contentious since the Bush administration renounced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which outlined an extensive international proposal to try to control global climatic change." (Contra Costa Times)

"Robots put ocean weather under Australian spotlight" - "Australia's commitment to a revolutionary international ocean monitoring system has been confirmed following the successful pilot testing of robotic ocean samplers off the country's north-west. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have committed significant resources towards Australia's initial contribution in a multi-million dollar international project named 'Argo'." (CSIRO)

"OCTOBER 2001 GLOBAL TEMPERATURE WARMEST ON RECORD, U.S. TEMPERATURE SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE" - "November 21, 2001 — October 2001 was the warmest October on record globally, scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said today. NOAA scientists calculated last month's climate conditions using the world's largest weather database. The preliminary globally averaged temperature was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 C). This was 1.0 F (0.6 C) above the 1880-2000 long-term mean, the warmest October on record. October global temperatures have been above average 23 of the past 25 years." (NOAA News)

More "somethingest" fanfare? Probably not too surprising that data dredging comes up with some sort of "somethingest" given our relatively minute climate record, even less so when you consider UHIE and rising global population. Checking the (even shorter) GHCC global average atmospheric temperature anomaly track, however, does not show the planet to be suffering any kind of fever to September this year.

"Geologists use lichens to track climate changes" - "Lichens — those ubiquitous plants that dot rocks around the globe — may help provide answers to where, and how rapidly, the Earth's climate is changing. Many of the Earth's great glaciers have been retreating since the last Little Ice Age reached its most recent advanced position in the mid-1800s. But scientists are not sure how fast that change has occurred or whether the dramatic changes reported in Europe also occurred in other parts of the world." (Environmental News Network)

"Genetic trickery 'cons' cancer" - "A new type of gene therapy which fools cancer cells into committing suicide has been developed by scientists. The technique, which has proven effective on all types of cancer, is a potential breakthrough in the fight against the disease." (BBC Online)

"Genetic engineering, conservation and development" - "Who is to own nature? Market society often bundles complex rights of access, transferability and control and calls it ownership. This bundle of rights is especially complicated in natural systems -- embedded in international treaties, national law, and local usage. Distribution of rights is vigorously contested. How rights -- public, private, and hybrid -- are defined and distributed present both dilemmas and opportunities for conservation and development." (Earth Times)

"GM body gets first request" - "Australia's watchdog on genetically modified organisms has received its first application to grow a GM crop. The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator said yesterday that Cotton Seed Distributors had sought approval to plant up to 480 hectares of GM cotton in three Queensland shires. GM cotton already accounts for a third of Australia's cotton production, but the application is the first to go through the office's approval process since its creation this year." (AAP)

"Trailing Edge: A Shot in the Dark" - "From a backyard battle with squirrels came the idea for the gene gun—the tool that creates biotech crops by shooting helpful genes into plant cells." (Technology Review)

"Animal rights group to protest at biotech event" - "LONDON - Animal rights activists launched a campaign yesterday to kick British drugs testing laboratory Huntingdon Life Science Group Plc out of a biotechnology conference." (Reuters)

November 21, 2001

"Workplace source of adult asthma: respiratory experts" - "BOSTON - Respiratory specialists say hundreds of thousands of people with asthma may have developed the disease from their workplace. A panel of experts at a meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthmas and Immunology in Orlando, Fla., say about five per cent of all adult asthmas cases can be linked to workplace substances." (CBC)

"`Making' the News:  The Sunday Times and British Climate" - "Conclusion: It is highly disconcerting to see a journal with the long and distinguished history of the Sunday Times stooping to this level of journalism. The question which begs to be asked is: If the evidence for global warming is that compelling, why is it necessary for those who believe in global warming, to misrepresent data in this manner to support their cause? The data which was altered was not that of the so-called skeptics, this was the data collected and published by those who believe in global warming. By so crudely altering this data not only does the Sunday Times do a disservice to itself, it also calls into question the motives of ICCUK and CRU who have remained noticeably silent over this obvious  misrepresentation of their data by their media acolytes in the Sunday Times." (Miceal O'Ronain & John L. Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Wetter winters increase flood risk" - "UK scientists say weather records show that prolonged spells of heavy winter rain are becoming more frequent. They say the chance of several days' downpour has more than doubled since 1960. They believe the change is contributing to a heightened flood risk - it matches a trend towards less rain in the summer. The scientists believe both natural and human-induced climate change may be responsible." (BBC Online)

Certainly not the most alarmist, nor least balanced piece on this to come out of the UK today (pretty tidy Alex, not too bad at all). The graphic at the end of this piece looks a bit dodgy though. Compare that with CRU's seasonal and annual tracks for England and Wales since about 1760, found here.

World Climate Report Volume 7, Number 6, November 19, 2001

"Should we implement the Kyoto Protocol? No" - "Global warming has become the great environmental worry of our day. There is no doubt that mankind has influenced and is still increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2, and that this in turn influences temperature - but we need to separate hyperbole from realities in order to choose our future optimally." (Bjorn Lomborg, Sp!ked Global Warming Debate) | Debate Main Page

"Getting ready for a hot new world" - "No matter what the cause, climate change will have an economic impact on Michigan. At first look, global warming seems like every Michigander's dream." (Michigan Live)

Letter of the moment: "Climate history" - "I disagree profoundly with Richard Dixon’s overheated view of "global warming" in his article, "Catastrophic consequences of climate change" (Comment, 17 November).

First, he exhibits little sense of climate history; we are emerging out of a Little Ice Age, which ended around 1880. Secondly, new scientific work has challenged the link between carbon dioxide and temperature. Many surface temperature curves in-dicate that the warmest recent period fell between the 1930s and 1940s. Finally, Pacific island sea-level curves show no sea-level rise.

We should remember that climate change is the norm, not the exception, and that controlling human emissions of so-called "greenhouse gases", one small set of factors out of the millions controlling climate, will not halt climate change." (Philip Stott, The Scotsman)

"UK emissions allowance auctions to start Feb 2002" - "LONDON - Britain said yesterday it will start auctioning emissions reduction allowances and incentives in late February, ahead of the planned launch in April of the world's first national CO2 emissions trading scheme." (Reuters)

"Scientists develop way to remove carbon dioxide from atmosphere" - "Scientists have developed a method of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reduce the impact of global warming caused by the greenhouse effect. The annual symposium of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in Hobart has heard that fertilising the Southern Ocean with iron assists photosynthesis - which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." (Radio Australia)

Some real climate science at work: "Forecasting better odds for farmers" - "The development of Australia's first long-term climate forecasting system will bring benefits for primary producers and land and water managers. The ambitious system using Indian and Pacific Ocean observations and developed by CSIRO, will become a management tool to improve the odds in favour of primary producers, beginning with Queensland grain growers and Tasmanian fish farmers. "We're working to replace guesswork with a clearly researched framework for rainfall and pasture growth probabilities," says CSIRO oceanographer, Dr Peter McIntosh." (CSIRO)

"UK: Blair urged by EC to up GM crop acreage in Britain" - "The European Commission yesterday [Monday] urged Tony Blair to do more to encourage the planting of GM crops across Britain. The British Prime Minister, was meeting with the internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein, has in the past defended the biotech industry, but such views have been staunchly opposed by other sections of government and many consumers." (just-food.com)

"Croatia Biotechnology Draft Law Bans Biotech Products" - "Report Highlights: This draft law shows that Croatia is heading toward a ban on the importation, marketing, use, and production of the products of agricultural biotechnology. The ban would be in place until biotechnology is regulated by other, more specific legislation. The draft is dated September/October 2001. The draft law is just one aspect of the Croatian government’s an anti-GMO policy. The government also conducted an anti-GMO ad campaign this summer promoting Croatia as a GMO-free tourist destination (see HR 1008)." (Foreign Agricultural Service)

"Swiss reject bid for open-air GMO wheat test" - "BERNE - A Swiss government agency has rejected a request by researchers to conduct controlled open-air tests of genetically modified wheat for fear of the study's potential damage to the environment, officials said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Church continues battle vs genetic-modified food" - "ILAGAN, Isabela -- The war over genetically modified organism (GMO)-laced crops and coal mining in Isabela is far from over. Roman Catholic Church leaders led by Bishop Sergio Utleg of the Diocese of Ilagan and priests in 35 towns and two cities in the province renewed their campaign against Bt-corn farming and coal mining." (Inquirer News Service)

"Stores strike early with GM ban" - "Supermarkets are ducking a potential food fight by pre-empting new labelling rules on GM products. They are already checking the GM status of food before the rules come into full force on December 7 next year. The move comes as the controversy over genetic modification heats up, with two local bodies declaring their regions GM-free. Although the step has raised retailers' eyebrows, they believe such moves will not see products removed from shelves.

Greenpeace has named five food manufacturers which it says do not have a written policy to be GM-free - Nestle, Pam's Products, Arnott's, Ingham Chicken and Kraft. Nestle and Kraft deny this, saying they have told Greenpeace of a GM-free policy and they are attempting to provide consumers with unmodified foods." (New Zealand Herald)

"No-frills brands free of GM tags" - "New Zealand's major food retailers are moving to ensure low-budget house brands do not have to carry a "genetically modified" label. But one chain wants its brand completely GM-free. Progressive Enterprises is protecting its house brands by guaranteeing they will have no genetically modified ingredients. Merchandise general manager Mark Brosnan said the company, which owns the Foodtown and Countdown chains, was working with suppliers to achieve GM-free status for their Signature and Basics ranges, which make up about 25 per cent of the house brands market. (New Zealand Herald)

November 20, 2001

"ON BIODIVERSITY: ARE THERE STILL TIGERS IN TriBeCa?" - Philip Stott's latest essay, comes complete with apologies to James Thurber. Click on the "Biodiversity" link in the left-hand column (direct hyperlink not available). (AntiEcoHype)

"Youth Forum on the Ethics of Science and Technology" - "UNESCO is organizing a Youth Forum on the Ethics of Science and Technology, which will take place on 18 December 2001 in Berlin, Germany, as part of the Second Session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). Young scientists from all over the world will meet to discuss ethical issues brought about by the progress of science and technology. In preparation of the meeting, UNESCO wishes to launch a debate on these issues on the Internet. For this purpose, we have opened this discussion forum to allow you to give us your opinion on the subjects that will be discussed during the Youth Forum. The ideas that we receive through this online forum will be shared during the debates." (Media release)

"Al-Qa'eda's atom plans were spoof science" - "DOCUMENTS found last week in an al-Qa'eda safe house in Afghanistan that purport to be instructions on how to build a nuclear weapon were shown yesterday to be based on a spoof scientific article. The "plans" were discovered in a ruined house in Kabul after the Taliban fled the city, and included notes ostensibly showing how to create a nuclear device. Although the partly burnt documents may well confirm that al-Qa'eda was trying to get hold of weapons of mass destruction, they also indicate that the group had little idea what it was doing and absolutely no sense of humour." (Telegraph)

Who said they had any thing to do with al-Qa'eda? Weren't the "partly burnt documents" conveniently "found" by a grandstanding reporter? If these terrorists had access to and the technical know how to deploy and detonate a nuclear device they would hardly have invested several years and a half-million bucks planning and executing a low-tech hijacking scheme.

"Task force wants strict NYC environmental rules" - "NEW YORK -- Concerned that the airborne debris from the World Trade Center wreckage is damaging people's health, a task force of New York politicians called Monday for strict environmental guidelines in the cleanup effort." (CNN)

"Vieques Environmental Appeal Nixed" - "BOSTON - A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from environmental groups that hoped to use the Endangered Species Act to halt Navy bombing exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques." (AP)

"Polluted drinking water linked to low birth weight" - "NEW YORK, Nov 19 - Certain groups of women may be at risk for having a smaller-than-average size baby if their tap water is contaminated with organic chemicals, researchers report. In a study of women exposed to PCE (perchloroethylene), a dry-cleaning chemical, researchers found that women over 35 years of age and those with several past miscarriages were at greater risk of having a small-for-gestational age infant when exposed to the chemical." (Reuters Health)

Sorry fellas, but at +35 years and with a history of miscarriage, these women are already at greater risk of having a small-for-gestational age infant - with or without perc.

"Anthrax concerns boost popularity of food irradiation" - "The recent fatal anthrax attacks that have struck in the US appear to have increased public support for the irradiation of food. Irradiation technology has been used to eliminate anthrax spores in contaminated mail, bringing the benefits of the technology to the forefront.

A Porter Novelli telephone survey of 1008 adults conducted early this month found that 52% of consumers said the government should require irradiation to ensure a safe food supply. This contrasts starkly with a similar survey carried out last year, when only 11% of consumers said they would buy irradiated foods if available.

About two thirds (64%) of the consumers who took part in the survey expressed concern about the contamination of the US food supply with anthrax or other biological agents." | New survey indicates consumer views on irradiation are changing (just-food.com)

"CSPI Hops On Potter" - "The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is picking a fight with Harry Potter. The film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone made over $93 million in its first weekend, and CSPI has been riding the popularity of the film to push its anti-consumer agenda -- specifically by using discredited charges to attack Coca-Cola's literacy campaign connected with the film.

As Guest Choice Network's executive director writes in an op-ed published by Scripps Howard News Service, CSPI launched a website featuring "countless references to Harry and his friends" that rehashes a CSPI report attacking soda that "was so flawed that it had to be retracted and revised days after its release… All this comes courtesy of a group that has blasted the soft drink industry for '"predatory" marketing campaigns aimed at children and adolescents' -- exactly what the Center itself is doing in slamming Coke and Harry." (For more on the campaign against soda, see our report Hop on Pop.)" (GuestChoice.com)

"Bugs enjoy hamster sex" - "Cross-species coupling is generally frowned upon. But in the liberal labs of California it is actively being encouraged. Bugs that are persuaded to get down and dirty with hamster cells are rewriting sex manuals in the act." (Nature News)

"Conjugal rights (and wrongs)" - "Unprecedented evidence that bacteria can "mate" with mammalian cells does not have quite the evolutionary implications it might suggest, say leading geneticists. "This one does not have me very excited," said Bill Martin, an expert in microbial gene transfer and professor of botany at Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf. "I know of zero, zilch, nyeht, nada evidence that such a 'transfer-genes-simply-because-it-is-possible' mechanism has occurred in any eukaryotic cell," Martin told BioMedNet News." (BioMedNet News)

"Salmonella rate in turkeys alarms food safety groups" - "Many Americans could find an unwelcome guest at their Thanksgiving table - a new federal survey found that 13 percent of turkeys are contaminated with the salmonella bacteria responsible for 1.3 million illnesses and about 500 deaths a year in the United States.

Government, industry and interest groups say consumers - who are expected to handle 45 million turkeys this Thanksgiving Day - should take heed from the warning that pathogens could be in their kitchen, and follow proper handling and preparation procedures to minimize risks.

This year, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began compiling data on 2,200 turkey samples taken at 43 slaughtering plants. The government has been collecting data on chicken and beef plants since 1998." (Scripps Howard News Service)

Does this mean they want more sub-therapeutic antibiotic use in poultry-raising enterprises to reduce bacterial contamination risk?

"We're Not Picking On Ohio State" - "It must have been a slow news month in October 2001 for the Ohio State University public relations office. A press release from them made it into the news media that excess iron increased the risk of intestinal infections. They wrote "an overdose of iron in the nation's diet could be rendering thousands of otherwise healthy people prone to intestinal infection."

Makes you want to avoid iron like the plague? Well, the facts don't justify the hype. This October press release was for a study published in the May 2001 Journal of Nutrition in which human colon cancer cells grown in a dish were exposed to excess iron and found to be more susceptible to bacterial attack.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The senior scientist of the study believes that we should identify individuals with iron deficiency and treat them rather than fortifying foods with iron. There is legitimate scientific debate about that point, but this study cannot be used to make recommendations for people. Iron is absorbed by small intestine cells, not colon cells even though this type of colon cancer cell acts like a small intestinal cell. And cells in a dish are not likely to give us useful information about how much iron people should be consuming." (Nutrition News Focus)

The US has 'Freedom to Farm' and in the UK: "Farmers may need licence to farm" - "Britain's farmers might need a "licence to farm", and risk being struck off a new national register if they fail to prove their competence to raise livestock or grow crops, under proposals being considered by government officials and advisers." (The Guardian)

"Even Small Rise in Family Income Helps Young Children from Poor Families" - "A small amount of money can make a big difference for young children from poor families, increasing their social skills and readiness for school to levels seen in children from middle-class families, according to a new study." | Poverty, Maternal Depression Linked to Slowed Early Development (Child Development)

"Misleading vaccination statistics put lives at risk" - "Children have been dying and resources wasted because for decades the World Health Organization has accepted information about vaccination coverage that is often unreliable and sometimes wildly wrong. Occasionally vaccinations are recorded more than once, says Anthony Burton of the vaccines division of the WHO in Geneva. "If your data are over-reported, you may not be paying attention to a problem area and kids who normally would have got vaccinated will get a disease and die," he says." (New Scientist)

"Mystery surrounds Indian child deaths" - "The reason for deaths and illness in Indian children who received vitamin A during a UNICEF-sponsored anti-blindness campaign remains unclear, eight days after the supplements were given. The vitamin A was administered to 3.2 million children under five years old in the form of a bottled syrup. But less than 24 hours later the first deaths had been reported and thousands were taken to hospital after complaining of nausea, fever and vomiting. Local reports say 15 children have died and over 3000 have been taken ill. The authorities in Assam have halted the administration of vitamin A to children while an investigation takes place." (New Scientist)

"Coal may be cause of poisoned Balkan groundwater" - "Over 100,000 Balkan villagers may have died from kidney failure brought on by toxic chemicals seeping into their well water from shallow coal deposits.

Robert Finkelman of the US Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia, has found that well water in regions where people suffer from Balkan endemic nephropathy has elevated levels of organic poisons such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

First recognised in 1956, the condition affects villagers aged 40 to 60 in valleys along tributaries of the Danube. Unlike most victims of kidney failure, only about 20 per cent of them have high blood pressure, but 40 to 50 per cent get normally rare urinary-tract cancers. The disease appears to affect some villages but not others nearby.

Villagers get their water from shallow wells. And when Finkelman's team carried out tests in wells in the former Yugoslavia, it found that toxic chemical concentrations are higher in water from affected areas than from unaffected areas nearby. That argues for a geological cause, he told a meeting of the Geological Society of America in Boston." (New Scientist)

"Price, less pollution to spur coal use-US industry" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 19 - Many U.S. power plants that use natural gas to generate electricity will slowly shift to coal as a cheaper, more reliable fuel source, coal industry officials said Monday at an Energy Department conference. Coal is already the largest source of fuel for power plants in the United States, accounting for about 50 percent of the total electricity generated each year, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said." (Reuters)

"Melting glaciers diminished Gulf Stream, cooled Western Europe, during last Ice Age" - "At the end of the last Ice Age --11.5 to 13 thousand years ago -- the north Atlantic deep water circulation system that drives the Gulf Stream may have shut down because of melting glaciers that added freshwater into the north Atlantic Ocean over several hundred years, confirm researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s paleoclimate program." (NSF)

"Plan Calls for Using Oceans to Soak Up CO2; Critics Cite Perils" - "In the continuing debate over global warming and how to fight it, some scientists and entrepreneurs advocate using the oceans as a sponge to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Others are saying not so fast. They argue that widespread ocean dumping of carbon dioxide could unbalance the aquatic environment." (New York Times)

The Week That Was November 17, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

Uh-oh, even Planet Rice fell for this one: "Climate Change Threatens Billions in Tropics with Starvation" - "Global climate change may cut harvests of the world's most important food crops--rice, wheat, and corn--by a third in some crucial parts of the planet, scientists warn. The decline comes as there is an urgent need to raise yields to feed a growing global population. The scientists have found evidence that rising temperatures, along with greenhouse gas emissions, can damage the ability of the vital cereal crops to flower and set seed. New studies indicate that every 1 degree C rise in the tropics can cause yields to drop as much as 10%." (Planet Rice)

"UK organic group calls for more money from government" - "LONDON - Britain must pump more money into organic farming to help restore lagging consumer confidence in the food sector and make Britain more competitive in Europe, a leading organic group said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Jury clears protest pair who cut down GM maize crop" - "A JURY yesterday backed the right of environmental protesters to destroy genetically modified crops in a verdict that will put pressure on the Government's policy over field trials. Barbara Charvet, 59, and Jim Ridout, 26, were cleared of causing criminal damage to two acres of maize at a farm in Preston Wynne, Herefordshire, after arguing that they had exhausted all channels to stop the GM trial going ahead. They had told the jury they destroyed the crop to protect the public because they were worried about cross-pollination, pollution to conventional crops and possible effects on the food chain." (Telegraph)

"Slow Magic: Agricultural R&D a Century After Mendel" - "This report tracks trends in agricultural R&D over the past several decades. We also put research policies in a much longer timeframe, highlighting the critical importance that the accumulated stock of scientific knowledge has on today’s productivity performance and its effect on innovation and economic growth in the future." (Philip G. Pardey, Nienke M. Beintema, IFPRI)

"Malaysia's Prime Minister Pushes Plan for 'Bio Valley'" - "KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysia has registered one biotechnology patent in its 44 years of independence. But that hasn't deterred Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad from trying to build a national biotech industry from scratch." (Wall Street Journal)

"New from IFPRI -- Seeds of Health: A Newsletter for Practitioners in Agriculture and Human Nutrition" - "Seeds of Health is published three times a year, presenting recent scientific findings and issues relevant to agricultural strategies, and in particular plant breeding, for improving micronutrient nutrition in developing countries." (IFPRI)

"Recent developments in the conduct of Latin American agricultural research" - "Abstract: Following two decades of increasing investments, growth in public agricultural research spending in Latin America stalled during the 1980s, reflecting shrinking government contributions and declining donor support in the midst of general economic crises. Data for more recent years show some signs of recovery with an average rate of growth for an 11-country sample of 4 percent per year during the first half of the 1990s (compared with 1 percent during the 1980s). Nonetheless, this regional trend masks significant variation among the various countries. The regional averages are also heavily influenced by developments in Mexico and Brazil; two countries that accounted for almost two-thirds of total Latin American agricultural research investment in the mid-1990s." (Nienke M. Beintema and Philip G. Pardey, IFPRI)

"US soy cargoes get okay to leave China ports" - "SINGAPORE - Traders said on Monday Chinese quarantine authorities have allowed the first U.S. soy cargoes this season to leave port for crushing, even though one importer said it had yet to get formal permission. The market has been watching the fate of the first U.S. soybean shipment as a test of a Chinese import system mired in uncertainties due to stringent quarantine inspections and new rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO)." (Reuters)

"Soybean genes losing their punch against Phytophthora" - "According to the results of a two-year Ohio State University study funded by the Ohio Soybean Council, Phytophthora isolates were recovered from 82 of 86 locations in 20 counties in northwest and southern Ohio. Many of the isolates killed plants carrying six specific resistant genes: Rps1a, Rps1b, Rps1c, Rps1k, Rps3a and Rps6." (AgAnswers)

November 19, 2001

"Spending the tobacco money: Is this what the court had in mind?" - "Tom Koehler thought he had a ready partner last year when he applied for a grant to help thousands of union workers quit smoking.

Koehler and two colleagues approached the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco (MPAAT), which was created to help smokers stop. The group saw the estimated 174,000 smokers among Minnesota union members as prime targets for its efforts.

MPAAT said no." (Star Tribune)

"Sad Example Number 4,286" - "Universities often get carried away with the importance of research carried out by their faculty in the hope of attracting publicity and funding. A particularly sad example was a press release from Ohio State University that stated a cup of black raspberries a day would help prevent cancer of the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer is a particularly bad form of cancer, and medicine does not have a lot to offer, so patients are always looking for hope. But this story was based on feeding rats a special diet that contained 5 or 10 percent freeze-dried black raspberries. A control group just received the diet, and all groups were dosed with a chemical to induce cancer of the esophagus. The study appeared in the August 15, 2001 issue of Cancer Research.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The press release isn't even sure if mice or rats were used in this study. It also neglected to point out that the higher dose of blackberries was less effective than the low dose. Even if the stuff prevented every cancer in rats, it is simply a starting point for many years of research before we know if it is even relevant for humans." (Nutrition News Focus)

"Tallying cost of arsenic rules: Small water systems may face big bill" - "Drinking-water systems in as many as 150 Washington communities, primarily in the Puget Sound area, will need to be overhauled or at least fixed under new federal standards that lower acceptable levels for arsenic.

No one is quite sure how much the changes will cost, but household water bills across the country could rise anywhere from $32 a year to as much as $327 a year in areas with hard-to-resolve arsenic issues, according to estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency." (Seattle Times)

"Crop protection review will hit smaller growers" - "MANY growers of so-called minor crops face a bleak future in the face of a European review designed to harmonise crop protection products across the EU, a government official has admitted.

The loss of many of these treatments will impose severe financial pressure on the European horticultural industry and could even lead to the disappearance of some production sectors, said Peter Chapman of the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

"For food and vegetables there may also be an impact on the consumer with rising prices, reduced choice, empty shelves and increased food air miles," he told delegates at the annual British Crop Protection Council conference at Brighton." (The Scotsman)

"Prove allegations, MMDA chief dares Greenpeace" - "GARBAGE czar Benjamin Abalos Sr. on Sunday challenged the environmental group Greenpeace Philippines to prove its allegations that the new garbage technology being pushed by Metro Manila mayors violated many environmental laws abroad. Abalos, chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority, said the environmental group should substantiate its charges to help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources evaluate thermoselect, a new technology that uses high temperature to recycle garbage." (Inquirer News Service)

"What protects us from radiation? Some answers are found in more than 100 yeast genes" - "A novel search of 3,760 "nonessential" yeast genes has revealed 107 new genes that may determine how we resist, or are hurt by, radiation -- and whether we succumb to, or survive, cancer. More than tripling the number of mutant genes known to influence radiation damage, the work was carried out at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and reported today in the journal Nature Genetics. Previously, fewer than 30 such genes were known." (NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences)

"The 'long wave' swamps cyclones" - "Weather experts now say they know why there haven't been as many cyclones off the Queensland coast in recent years. Meteorologists believe it's been caused by a phenomenon known as a 'long wave pattern' in the upper atmosphere." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Aventis to apply for GM canola release" - "Biotechnology company Aventis says its trials of genetically modified canola have been so successful, it's about to apply for permission to release hybrid varieties of the grain." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"UK rules biotech roost" - "British biotechnology companies have captured the lion's share of venture capital in this year's cash-starved corporate environment, a new report says. The survey, by accountants Ernst & Young, says UK biotechnology firms won 39% of the venture capital money put into biotech from January to June 2001. And despite the fact that initial public offerings (IPOs) have ground to a near-halt, more than half of those companies which have made it to market have been British." (BBC Online)

"Organic foods cop it sweet under GM label laws" - "Only organic food eaters will know for sure when the ingredients in their meals have been genetically modified under new labelling rules. The national consumer watchdog has signalled that foods marketed as organic or natural will be subject to tougher requirements than conventional products under the new GM label scheme. It is likely to mean that a bottle of canola oil sourced from 100 per cent genetically altered plants would not have to be labelled, but an "organic" pasta source containing a trace of possibly GM-tainted ingredient would have to be identified." (Sydney Morning Herald)

November 17-18, 2001

"Building New York: Putting Health Risks in Perspective" - "Remarks presented by ACSH President Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan at a special conference convened by Secretary Andrew Cuomo, Friday, November 16, 2001" (ACSH)

"Children at higher risk of mobile phone radiation" - "YOUNG children absorb up to 50% more radiation in their brains than adults when they use mobile phones, research has revealed. The results will reinforce calls for parents to limit the use of the phones by schoolchildren. Radiation penetrates halfway through the brain of a five-year-old. The penetration falls to 30% for a 10-year-old, compared with just a small area around the ear in an adult. Absorption rates are greater in children because their ears and skulls are smaller and thinner, according to the study, led by Om Gandhi, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah." (Sunday Times)

Hmm... near-zero plus 50% equals... ? And this is how much risk? Hmm... again.

"Young People in 2000 - Food for thought" - "The recent reports from both the CRC and the SHEU show that over-zealous health promotion and media overload can actually have a detrimental effect on health and may in part be responsible for creating a fear of food among young people." (Social Issues Research Centre)

Good grief! "'Frightening' increase in asthma cases over just two years baffles doctors" - "One of the biggest studies of asthma is this week expected to reveal a "frightening" increase in the number of British people suffering breathing-related diseases." (Independent)

So what could change population-wide in just two years? Only two things spring to mind: infectious agent-driven epidemic (dubious) or; change in diagnostic classification. The question is: are people actually sicker or have the study authors simply shifted the goalposts?

Today's "could/might/may/suggests": "Nanoparticles in air bad news for people" - "OAK RIDGE, Tenn., – Tiny airborne particles too small to see are more plentiful and may pose a greater health hazard than previously thought, says an Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher studying airborne particles in the Great Smoky Mountains and beyond." (Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

II: "Diesel fumes risk to children" - "Small particles found in diesel exhaust fumes can penetrate into the lungs of children, research indicates. The study is the first offering what is said to be conclusive evidence that particles from diesel exhaust reach, and are taken up by, cells that reside on the deepest part of the lung." (BBC Online)

Particles were found in the lungs of people, in this case children, who breath air containing particulates (don't be rude, they're trying to set up an income stream here).

Dr John Harvey, of the British Thoracic Society, said: "This research is clear evidence that current levels of air pollution are damaging the lungs of children across the UK."

While it is intuitively appealing to conclude that this demonstrates health-effect it actually does no such thing. These 22 children were, um... healthy. Can we demonstrate that these exposures cause ill-health? Seems to me that we're still at the stage of say, demonstrating that water is present in tumor cells and concluding therefore that water causes tumors - simple presence does not demonstrate effect.

It's alleged that PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter) loads have increased along with road traffic and pollution controls. So what effect is immediately obvious in the populace? On Thursday, the Beeb also ran "UK population set to rise" containing figures from the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS): "Britons can also look forward to a longer life, as the survey points to an increase in life expectancy for men and women of about three years." Methinks increased PM10 = increased life expectancy is not quite the correlation they're looking for.

"Pollution takes more lives in Hong Kong" - "HONG KONG: Hong Kong's worsening pollution problem is causing a rise in deaths and air quality must be improved in order to save lives, a newly released study said on Saturday. Based on government records of air pollutants and deaths between 1995 to 1997, the Hong Kong University study linked the territory's increasingly serious pollution problem to premature deaths for the first time." (AP)

"Mass testing to trace BSE" - "Around a quarter of a million cattle are to be tested for BSE to discover the extent of the disease in the national herd, according to a government adviser. The new programme, in line with a European Union directive, will cost the government £50m. The scheme follows criticism from leading scientists that the scale of the existing sample programme is not big enough." (BBC Online)

"vCJD: health risks and health scares" - "What a programme making dream this must have been for the Panorama crew. It featured a fatal disease, a government scientist turned whistleblower, a buried report, and a set of surgical instruments locked in a hospital attic. The disease was variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an illness with a complex and turbulent history, and now thought to be transmissible through the reuse of contaminated surgical instruments. The whistleblower was the government microbiologist Dr David Hurrell, who audited the country's surgical equipment cleaning procedures, and told all to Panorama." (Alex Vass, BMJ)

"£155,000 for vCJD victim an insult" - "A FATHER accused the Government yesterday of insulting the memory of his daughter with a compensation offer of £155,000. Donna McIntyre was 22 when she died in August from the human form of “mad cow” disease. Her family, from Aberdeen, has been offered the sum from a central compensation fund, but Billy McIntyre rejected it as disgraceful, calling it “an insult to myself and my family but, most importantly, to Donna and her memory”. Mr McIntyre, 55 and a former electrician, added that he planned to challenge the sum in court. (The Times)

"Millions of animals condemned to death in EU ruling on testing" - "Millions of animals, including mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs, will be force-fed or injected with suspect chemicals under the largest- ever laboratory testing programme proposed by the European Union.

The upsurge in animal experiments follows European Parliament approval for an investigation into the potential dangers of 30,000 chemicals used in everyday household products from paint to perfume. According to a secret government document leaked to The Independent on Sunday, at least 12 million mammals and fish will test the 30,000 chemicals. The figure could rise to 50 million if scientists decide that the animals' offspring must be tested too." (Independent)

More chemical hysteria: "Pollutant limits 'should be cut'" - "Experts have called for tough new safety limits on chemical pollutants that have been linked to cancer and infertility. They say the safe limit for daily intake of dioxins and PCBs should be revised down from 10 picograms per kilogram of body weight to two. A picogram is equivalent to a billionth of a gram. However, the Food Standards Agency has admitted that about a third of the UK population may exceed this level in their daily diet." (BBC Online)

"3rd Circuit Shoots Down Gun Suit Theory" - "In a major victory for gun manufacturers, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld the dismissal of a suit brought by Camden County, New Jersey, that accused gun makers of creating a "public nuisance" and sought to recoup the governmental costs associated with gun-related crimes." (Law.com)

Ah... nature's own: "Cow's Urine for Anthrax Protection" - "Letter to the Editor, Times of India, Nov 16, 2001 - Sir, Those bearing faith and confidence in medicinal properties of the mother cow's products namely, milk, curd (yoghurt), ghee (clarified butter) (must be churned out of curd, and not directly from milk or milk-cream), urine and dung may follow following routine, in addition to the suggestions from the modern science, for protection from possible infection due to unexpected contact with the anthrax virus (sic). 1) Drink 25 ml of cow urine (gomootra) daily in the morning, empty stomach or avoid taking anything 30 minutes prior or subsequent of drinking the gomootra."

Note from [Professor C.S.] Prakash: This person must be a follower of Vandana Shiva who never gets tired of extolling the virtues of indigenous knowledge and bemoaning how that is 'threatened' by the corrupt modern science.

"Ford drops plans for hybrid-powered Explorer, report says" - "DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford Motor Co. has scrapped plans to use a form of hybrid power on the Explorer sport-utility vehicle, an effort that had been designed to sharply improve fuel efficiency, a newspaper said Friday. The Explorer is the world's best-selling sport-utility vehicle. Ford engineers and other insiders told the Detroit Free Press that the automaker acted because of a cash crunch and less success with the gasoline-electric hybrid than expected." (AP)

Oops! "Exodus from paradise because of global warming" - "THE effects of global warming are forcing the inhabitants of a tiny South Pacific nation to abandon their homeland because of rising sea levels." (The Scotsman)

Really? Not so fast: "Tuvalu residents staying put despite sea level fears" - "Residents of Tuvalu are not abandoning their homes next year and may not do so for decades, despite the threat rising sea levels are said to pose to the islands."

Poor Lester, still can't get one right: "The Washington-based Earth Policy Institute's Lester Brown, had said the surrounding Pacific waters have risen to dangerous levels due to global warming. "The leaders of Tuvalu have conceded defeat in their battle with the rising sea, announcing that they will abandon their homeland," Mr Brown said. "New Zealand has agreed to accept all 11,000 citizens of Tuvalu, with migration expected to start in 2002."

However, New Zealand officials have flatly denied the migration plans.

A 10-year scientific study has found no evidence of sea level rises around Tuvalu.

Tuvalu Deputy Secretary to Government Simeti Lopati, says no decision has been made. "We are not leaving Tuvalu just yet, and no decision has been taken on that," Mr Lopati said. "Some people might be exaggerating it a bit." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

Undeterred, The Scotsman gives free-rein to Fiends of the Earth's Dick Dixon: "Catastrophic consequences of climate change" - "CLIMATE change is probably the biggest environmental threat facing the human race. Even in the best case, we will see more unpredictable weather and rising seas, leading to floods, drought, failed harvests, the spread of disease and whole species being wiped out. In the worst case, the Earth’s climate will be thrown so far out of balance that it will flip to a new state. And as island nations disappear beneath the waves, and food and water shortages become commonplace, we can reflect that it is all our own fault." (Richard Dixon. The Scotsman)

Still going with this one: "Warning on future for wildlife" - "SOME of Ireland's rarest wildlife could be extinct within 50 years, it was warned today [16th]. And it is all to do with climate changes throughout the British Isles, causing threatened habitats to disappear and species to move, a new report states. For the first time, scientists using sophisticated computer modelling have predicted how animals and plants will be forced to move as our climate changes." (Belfast Telegraph)

Um... how did these poor critters survive the Medieval Climate Optimum and the subsequent Little Ice Age then if "sophisticated computer modelling" supposedly "proves" such change to be lethal? Perhaps they may not make it in "sophisticated computer models" but they certainly have survived extraordinary real-world change in the past.

And yet again: "Global warming may hit skiing" - "Scientists are warning that global warming is melting Alpine glaciers at an unprecedented rate. They claim that in 15 years time, many low level ski resorts could have no snow at all." (BBC Online)

"US stance on global warming criticised" - "Paris - French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius attacked the United States on Thursday for its environmental policy, homing in on its decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark UN agreement on curbing climate change." (AFP)

"U.S. STILL ON TRACK FOR ANOTHER COOL WINTER" - "Don't let the recent short-sleeve temperatures fool you: The U.S. remains on track for a repeat of last winter, NOAA forecasters said Thursday. In an update to its official winter 2001-02 outlook, NOAA's National Weather Service said it still expects the coming winter to bring abrupt swings in temperature and precipitation, including heavy lake-effect snows in the Northeast and Midwest, cold air outbreaks in the South and the potential for Nor'easters along the East Coast.

Forecasters said the winter outlook update, which covers December 2001 - February 2002, is missing the influences of either a strong El Niño or La Niña climate pattern, and paves the way for a winter of weather extremes. "When neither climate pattern is present, other climate factors can play a significant role in the day-to-day winter weather we experience," said James Laver, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center." (NOAA News)

"Link energy policy and climate issues" - "The potential contradiction between Canada's position on energy development and climate change needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

On the one hand, the federal and provincial governments are scrambling to take advantage of the United States' increasing demand for energy, including oil and gas, stated so clearly in the Bush administration's new national energy policy report. At the same time, the federal government has committed Canada to ratifying the Kyoto protocol and meeting the challenge of reducing its annual greenhouse gas emissions to an average of 6 per cent below our 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012." (AP)

"Science Panel Says: Global Warming, A Fiction Spurred by Politics" - "Human burning of fossil fuels isn’t the primary culprit of global warming. So said a group of four eminent scientists speaking to representatives from congressional offices, the Bush administration, think tanks and interested industries Thursday. Moreover, the level of such warming is not now alarming." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

Physician, stick to medicine - for you know zip about global climate!: "Climate change--the new bioterrorism" - "The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP7) ended last week in Marrakech with nothing concrete for its efforts. The US administration effectively blocked the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which aimed to limit the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide by an average of 5% of 1990 levels by 2012. In abruptly reneging on campaign pledges about limiting greenhouse gases, and throwing the commitment of the previous two administrations into a U-turn, the US Government claims that the terms of the Kyoto Protocol will cost the USA too much, that developing countries are not required to act, and that the protocol is too short-term in outlook.

COP7 claims to have finalised the rulebook for the Kyoto Protocol, especially about how to measure emissions and reductions, how much so-called carbon sinks (forests, crops, and soils) can contribute, and the rules for compliance. But the Protocol has yet to be ratified by enough of the Parties to the Convention--the only industrialised country to have signed up is Romania. The European Union countries are likely to sign. Russia and Japan are needed as key signatories. If just one other industrialised country besides the USA refuses to ratify, the Protocol is effectively ended." (British Medical Journal editorial)

Comes complete with a Devra Davis book review no less: The global experiment with "an n of one"

"Ministry to set up office to boost anti-global warming drive" - "TOKYO, Nov. 16" - The Environment Ministry will set up by Tuesday an office to boost the fight against global warming nationwide based on the government's policy of seeking ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by next year, Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Friday. The office will be headed by the ministry's global environment bureau chief and consist of some 10 officials, she said.

''It is essential to change the lifestyle and awareness of every citizen in order to curb global warming,'' Kawaguchi told a press conference." (Kyodo)

"Ministry to push business on gases" - "In preparation for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the environment ministry plans to press businesses to reduce their output of greenhouse gases by requiring them to track and report the levels of their emissions. However, sources said the ministry will not force companies to reduce emissions for the time being, as some business leaders opposed the ratification of the accord without participation of the United States. But if its effort to prod firms into cutting emissions voluntarily fails to produce appreciable results by 2005, the ministry intends to get tougher. Possible courses of action include setting reduction targets for individual businesses or requiring companies to formulate reduction plans." (Asahi Shimbun)

"Kyoto: an early test of leadership" - "Two significant events took place last Saturday. In Marrakesh, four years of negotiation culminated in representatives of nearly 160 countries agreeing to binding rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. In Australia, voters returned the Howard Government, which opposes ratification of the treaty." (The Melbourne Age editorial)

Inside baseball: The Melbourne Age is a Fairfax publication (read way left-of-center and they are even believed to actually pay misanthropic/sociopathic/"global warming" hand-wringer Claire Miller to write the rubbish published under her name) is totally opposed to the center-right Howard Government. For reasons not divinable, they pretend to both human advocacy and total-protectionist conservationism (which they incorrectly equate with "environmentalism"). That the two positions are mutually exclusive appears to concern them no more than science (or the lack thereof) or even simple balanced presentation of available facts.

Letter of the moment: "Ideological bias slants article on pollution" - "IN REPORTING on pollution, it would be useful if you occasionally put things into some kind of economic context to avoid portraying rich countries as villains and poor countries as victims (Global warming will leave no one untouched, November 14.)

If the US's share of global greenhouse emissions is about 25% against Africa's 3%, that's simply because it is the world's largest economy, accounting for a similar proportion (27%) of global gross national product.

SA is the largest "polluter" in Africa for the same reason we are the continent's most powerful economy. When last has anyone bought a car, aircraft or factory made in Burundi?" (Robert Gentle, Business Day, ZA)

"Global warming more common than thought, deep-sea drilling off Japan now demonstrates" - "CHAPEL HILL – Core samples from a deep-sea drilling expedition in the western Pacific clearly show multiple episodes of warming that date back as far as 135 million years, according to one of the project’s lead scientists. Analysis of the samples indicates warming events on Earth were more common than researchers previously believed." (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"New robotic float benefits ocean scientists" - "The International science community is putting its faith in a new type of ocean measuring tool. The robotic float is a cylindrical-shaped object which can measure ocean temperature and salinity at various depths. The float can sink to a depth of two kilometres, drift for 10 days then rise to the water's surface, taking measurements along the way -that information is relayed via satellite to scientists around the world. Australia's CSIRO is working with 13 other countries in deploying three thousand floats around the world." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Hydro Group Pushes Hydroelectricity to Fight Climate Change" - "OTTAWA, Ontario, CA, 2001-11-16 The annual meeting of the Canadian Hydropower Association was used to emphasize the seriousness of climate change, and to promote the role for the country's electricity sector to play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions." (SolarAccess.com)

Montreal lumbers on and on: "Progress reported in cutting down CFCs; Global fund helping switch in production" - "Thailand had set a good example in deploying economic measures to help industry phase out ozone-eating chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), said Sitanon Jesdapipat, director of Chulalongkorn University's Centre of Ecological Economics. Mr Sitanon said the country had wisely used money from the global environmental fund to help manufacturers introduce non-CFC cooling agents to refrigerators and air compressors." (Bangkok Post)

Remarkable what a perspective reality-check can do: "Protest Group Softens Tone At WTO Talks" - "DOHA, Qatar, Nov. 11 -- The way the plan was originally conceived, six boats loaded with anti-globalization activists were to sail into the port of this Persian Gulf sheikdom to protest the World Trade Organization meeting here. "We were organizing everybody in our movement," said Jose Bove, the French farmer renowned for vandalizing a McDonald's restaurant.

The scheme was scrapped, however, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Bove, one of a few dozen activists roaming the halls at the conference center where the WTO meeting is being held through Tuesday, instead has joined in staging occasional demonstrations.

Profound changes have buffeted the anti-globalization movement since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In an era of suicide hijackings, war and anthrax in the mail, the movement's leaders are finding it difficult to generate much indignation about problems like sweatshop wages or food impurities." (Washington Post)

"Biotech for a Hungry World" - "Heralded as a technology that could help alleviate world hunger, agricultural biotechnology has yet to reach this goal. Nevertheless, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report released last July concluded the technology still holds great potential benefit for developing nations attempting to feed their people.

The UNDP Human Development Report 2001 noted that while the technology raises questions about environmental and health risks, it also stresses the unique potential of genetic engineering techniques for creating virus-resistant, drought-tolerant and nutrient-enhanced crops. As a result, the report urged greater public investment into research and development to ensure biotechnology meets the agricultural needs of the world's poor." (Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology)

"American Bakers Association's Position Paper on Biotechnology" - "The American Baker's Association's (ABA) Biotechnology Subcommittee and Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee (FTRAC) issued a policy position paper, which outlines ABA's role in food biotechnology and the industry's proposed plan to influence or direct the future development and release of biotech crops and ingredients. The position statement covers ABA's position on the technology, marketing and trade, and ways to increase knowledge building and consumer information. The complete ABA position paper (7 pages plus appendix of biotech web sites) is available here [PDF]" (AgBioView)

"A Bt Corn Variety That Will Control Corn Rootworm" - "Despite bad publicity and huge costs to the food industry following the StarLink debacle, genetically enhanced corn may soon earn its keep. The much-anticipated release of a Bt corn variety that controls corn rootworm may happen in time for limited 2002 planting, pending regulatory approval in the United States and Japan.

Every year corn rootworm gobbles a billion dollars of farm profits through yield loss or control cost, reports USDA. That's a big round number for such a little larva, and it's growing as the western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) adapts to foil corn-soybean rotations that once starved generations that hatched in soybeans every other year." (AgWeb.com)

"New company's delegates wary of GM crops" - "There's no point growing genetically modified crops unless somebody wants to buy them, says Agricore United. Farmer delegates attending the grain company's annual meeting fear that introducing GM crops before the marketplace is ready could risk prairie export markets. ''Let's make sure we can sell it before we grow it,'' said delegate Bill Ridgeway of Grosse Isle, Man. ''We don't want to destroy our markets. That's the point of this resolution.'' The resolution opposed the ''distribution and licensing'' of new GM grains unless markets have been secured and a system of identity preservation has been developed to ensure they aren't mixed in with other grains." (Western Producer)

"Rutgers' Food Policy Institute Report Shows That Americans Confused and Undecided About Biotechnology" - "NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- As Thanksgiving approaches, shoppers will head for the supermarket, choosing holiday foods that appeal to their personal preferences, family traditions, and budgets. But, according to a study released today by the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers, one thing shoppers probably won't be thinking about as they fill their shopping carts is whether or not the foods contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Despite the widespread availability of products containing genetically modified soy and corn ingredients, only four-in-ten Americans are aware that GM foods are for sale at their local market." (ASCRIBE NEWS via COMTEX)

"Aventis, AVEBE start GM potato research in Germany" - "Research into the commercial use of genetically-modified potato starch has been agreed in Germany by Aventis CropScience in a joint venture with Dutch cooperative AVEBE, a spokesman said on Thursday. Aventis CropScience is a unit of German-French pharmaceuticals group Aventis. The two have set up a joint venture called Solavista GmbH based in Potsdam in east Germany, where Aventis CropScience has carried out GM and other research into potatoes, Aventis CropScience spokesman Gerhard Waitz said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Shoppers Divided About GM Foods" - "Shoppers in Australia will soon have more information about genetically modified ingredients on their food labels, than any other nation in the world. New stringent labelling laws will come into effect in three weeks. From December the 7th, foods or processed foods that contain any GM ingredients must list them on the label, with a few minor exceptions." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"GM Labels On Smallgoods, Not Fresh Meat" - "While food processors complain the new laws are 'draconian' and will force the price of food up, the labels are unlikely to affect the producers of grain and livestock. Ben Russell, who manages the gene technology program for Safemeat Australia, says fresh meat won't need labels, but some processed product like smallgoods will." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"GM application to be lodged" - "Hamilton-based AgResearch's commercial arm and a Scottish biotech company are preparing to lodge their first genetic modification application with the Environmental Risk Management Authority. AgResearch announced a joint venture between its commercial arm, Celentis, and PPL Therapeutics, which cloned Dolly the sheep, in December last year. AgResearch won't say what the new project involves but said it related to more work in pharmaceuticals." (Waikato Times)

November 16, 2001

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's ... Soda?" - "The much-anticipated movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone opens nationwide this weekend. So does another extreme and, frankly, silly crusade against soft drinks by the "food police" at the Center for Science in the Public Interest." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Bioterrorism, Anxiety, and the New Normalcy" - "Americans are feeling anxious, edgy and vulnerable—with good reason. The accelerating appearance of cases of anthrax, innumerable hoaxes and false alarms about terrorist attacks, the spectre of smallpox as a weapon, combined with spiraling unemployment and the contraction of the US economy for the first time in almost a decade, have disrupted the predictability and tranquility of our lives. And the mixed messages we've gotten from officials—be vigilant but return to your routines; more people are mysteriously falling ill, but everything is under control—are little help." (American Council on Science and Health ACSH))

"Flying remains safe way to travel" - "The American Airlines crash on Monday couldn't have happened at a worse time for the embattled airline industry. Americans were just starting to get over their post-Sept. 11th anxieties about flying the friendly skies, and now this. The public surely will feel even more terrified about boarding an airplane than ever. But the fact is that flying is a lot safer than most Americans think." (Stephen Moore, Detroit News)

"Cell Phone Lawsuits Face a Scientific Test" (PDF) - "Evidence that radiation from cell phones increases the risk of brain cancer has not fared well in the court of scientific opinion; is it acceptable in the court of law?" (Science News Focus)

"What's the Story? Childhood Immunizations" - "The text of this leaflet is based on ACSH's special report The Promise of Vaccines: The Science and the Controversy, by David R. Smith, M.D., President, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, Texas. (ACSH)

"Traditional Holiday Dinner Replete with Natural Carcinogens, Health Group Finds" - "November, 2001. The traditional American holiday meal, which typically includes mushroom soup, roast turkey, potatoes, green salad, fruit and pumpkin pie, is really a chemical feast of toxins and carcinogens—all courtesy of Mother Nature.

That was the conclusion of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) in its annual "Holiday Dinner Menu". Happily, the scientists at ACSH assure us that these natural chemicals are safe. ACSH's Holiday Dinner Menu highlights the chemical carcinogens that Mother Nature has put in our food to make the point that the mere presence of a supposed cancer-causing agent—whether natural or synthetic—does not necessarily make that food dangerous." (ACSH)

"A Multistate Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Linked to Alfalfa Sprouts Grown from Contaminated Seeds" - "Most foodborne outbreaks associated with E. coli O157:H7 have been traced to foods derived from cattle, especially ground beef and milk. In June and July 1997, the state health departments of Michigan and Virginia concurrently received an increased number of reports of E. coli O157:H7 infections compared with the numbers in similar periods the previous year. We describe the epidemiologic, environmental, and laboratory investigations that led to the identification of alfalfa sprouts grown from contaminated seeds as a new vehicle for E. coli O157:H7 infection in humans." (Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal)

"Low-fat diets can cut children's nutrient intake" - "NEW YORK, Nov 15 - Well-intentioned parents who limit their child's dietary fat in the name of good health may be depriving their growing son or daughter of essential nutrients, researchers report. Their study of children with and without high cholesterol found that unsupervised, parent-imposed low-fat diets were also lower in zinc and vitamin E compared with diets that did not restrict fat. Zinc is a mineral that is essential for growth and development and helps the immune system fight infectious diseases. Vitamin E, an important antioxidant vitamin, may also protect against certain diseases." (Reuters Health)

"Curry spice could slow Alzheimer's, study shows" - "NEW YORK, Nov 15 - Diets rich in curcumin--a compound found in the curry spice turmeric--may help explain why rates of Alzheimer's disease are much lower among the elderly in India compared with their Western peers." (Reuters Health)

"British work on vCJD victims not 'statistically significant'" - "British researchers who claim to have found a second genetic marker for susceptibility to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), the human form of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), have not done enough work of "statistical significance" to support their conclusion, according to a leading Norwegian immunologist." (BioMedNet News)

"N.S. tar pond no cause for alarm: study" - "SYDNEY, N.S. - People living around Nova Scotia's tar ponds have not been exposed to dangerously high levels of lead and arsenic, according to a provincial government report. The study, released Thursday, was based on medical tests conducted on 372 people during the summer – about 30 per cent of all residents north of the tar ponds and coke ovens. The final report concludes that residents do not have a higher level of lead or arsenic in their bodies than people who live in other parts of North America or Europe." (CBC)

"Chemical in auto engine cleaners can affect nerves, CDC says" - "ATLANTA - Repeated exposure to a chemical found in some car maintenance products can cause numbness in the hands, feet and forearms, the CDC said Thursday." (AP)

"Depressed? Eat Some Sushi, Scientists Say" - "STOCKHOLM - Remember your mother telling you: "Eat your fish. It's good for your brain." She may just have been right. Scientists think they have evidence that fish oil could cure mental disorders such as depression and dyslexia -- conditions increasingly common in the Western world." (Reuters)

"'Victory' for breast implant victims" - "Plans to tighten up the safety procedures governing breast implants were adopted by the European Commission on Thursday. It will mean women going for breast implant surgery will be better informed of the risks and side-effects of the operation." (BBC Online)

"Jurors Reject Tobacco Suit" - "Jurors rejected a lawsuit yesterday that sought to force four tobacco companies to pay for annual medical tests for 250,000 healthy West Virginia smokers, according to The Washington Post.

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

"The good, the bad and the ugly of skepticism" - "Skeptics are a strange bunch. Certainly, a healthy dose of skepticism is essential to science and crucial to helping us all weed out truth from the everyday noise of media and advertising.

But there are those who, in spite of overwhelming evidence, still cling to theories and beliefs that have little basis in fact. Some of these "skeptics" deny evolution, others deny that the world is round and, increasingly, some deny that human impact on the environment poses a serious threat to society, and to life in general." (David Suzuki, CNEWS Science)

I love this guy, he cracks me up! The above, by the way, is the lead to another assault on ex-Greenpeacer, Bjorn Lomborg, here painted as a tool of the evil corporate empire.

More green fairy tales exposed: "Survey supplants guesswork in estimating forest visitors" - "About three-quarters of a billion hikers, sightseers and other visitors have suddenly vanished from national forests, after a new tally proved that earlier counts were vastly inflated and based more on guesswork than fact.

Instead of the nearly 1 billion annual forest visitors reported to Congress and cited until recently by U.S. Forest Service officials, including former Chief Mike Dombeck, the new figures show that about 209 million people actually visit national forests each year.

The sharp revision surprised Forest Service officials who had been touting national forests as the leading federal provider of recreation, claiming that forests annually draw more than three times as many people as live in the United States. They quietly have removed the earlier, higher count from Web sites and publications." (The Oregonian)

"Senate Multi-Emissions Proposal Would Undermine Economic and Energy Security" - "The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is holding hearings on the appealingly titled Clean Power Act of 2001 (S. 556), introduced by Senator James Jeffords (I-VT), which supporters say will reduce emissions of air pollutants from the nation's power plants. To do this, however, the bill requires power plants to drastically reduce emissions of three pollutants as well as a naturally occurring gas within an unreasonably short period of time. But this approach will drive up electricity prices, compromise the reliability of the nation's electricity supply, and undermine America's economic strength." (Charli E. Coon, Heritage Foundation)

"US energy demand to rise by one-third by 2020 - EIA" - "WASHINGTON - U.S. energy demand is expected to increase by one-third over the next two decades, as businesses and consumers use more oil and electricity to fuel a growing American economy, according to a government report released this week." (Reuters)

"Lets' clear the air about pollution levels" - "America's air quality continues to get better, with particularly strong progress in the Chicago area. A recently released Environmental Protection Agency report concludes that "since 1970, aggregate emissions of six principal pollutants tracked nationally have been cut 29 percent."

And Chicago, which once stood out as one of the nation's smoggiest cities, is now in compliance with the federal smog standard.

This good news might come as a surprise to most people. We might be exposed to cleaner air, but we're also exposed to the drumbeat of gloomy media accounts to the contrary. However, the reality that air pollution is declining needs to be taken into account in current debates over costly new air-quality measures." (Ben Lieberman, Chicago Sun-Times)

"Emissions Could Boost Electric Costs" - "THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S top air pollution official told Congress last week that a Senate bill to restrict power plant emissions of four major pollutants could boost the cost of electricity by as much as 50 percent by 2015.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.), could lead to massive switching from coal to natural gas as the fuel for generating electricity, "threatening fuel diversity" at a time the US is trying to reduce dependence on imported energy, says Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assistant administrator Jeffrey Holmstead." (Chemical Market Reporter)

"German parliament ups subsidies for green energy" - "FRANKFURT - Germany's parliament has agreed to increase subsidies next year for four kinds of renewable energy, overruling Economics Minister Werner Mueller who had wanted to cut financial support for the sector." (Reuters)

"Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Reconsideration of the 610 Nonessential Products Ban" - "SUMMARY: This final rulemaking amends the current regulations that implement the statutory ban on nonessential products that release Class I ozone- depleting substances under section 610 of the Clean Air Act, as amended. This final rule does not affect the use of Class II ozone-depleting substances. This rulemaking was developed by EPA based on new and compelling information that was gathered and indicates limited continued use by some sectors of Class I substances in products where the use of those substances today should be considered a "nonessential use of Class I substances in a product" based on the availability and widespread use of alternatives. The products affected by this rulemaking are aerosol products, pressurized dispensers, plastic foam products, and air-conditioning and refrigeration products that contain or are manufactured with Class I substances ( e.g., chlorofluorocarbons). Through this action, an additional category of products will be added and some products will be removed from the list of banned products (i.e., products that cannot be introduced into interstate commerce)." (EPA)

"Skin expert issues winter sports warning" - "SKIERS and snowboarders should heed sun safety messages this winter to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, says an expert from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Few think they need to worry about the effects of the sun – the wrong attitude, says skin cancer expert Dr Mark Birch-Machin.

He says indulging in high altitude winter sports can expose the skin to very high levels of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Holidaymakers therefore need to take as much care of their skin on a skiing or snowboarding break as they would do on a summer beach vacation. Snow also reflects 85% of the sun's harmful UV rays, which bounce back off the ground.

The higher skiers and snowboarders go, the greater their risk of serious sunburn because there is less atmosphere to filter the UV rays. In general the air filters 4% less UV rays for every 1,000 feet above sea level - meaning that at an altitude of 5,000 feet - and most ski resorts in Europe and the US stand at or above this height – there is 20% more UV radiation than at sea level." (University of Newcastle upon Tyne)

"4 myths about global warming" - "NOW THAT YET another confab on the 1997 Kyoto global warming protocol has ended with participants patting each on the back for being such good enviros, you can expect even more pressure on President Bush to embrace the pact.

According to polls, Americans support the pact, which ostensibly will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012. Alas, the public has bought into four myths that beg to be debunked." (Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)

"Job growth tipped for environmental technologies" - "Promoting technologies that would ease climate change could boost economic growth and employment significantly by 2010, according to a report being put together by a think tank commissioned by the Environment Ministry." (Japan Times)

"Oceans Temps, Solar Cycles Linked" - "WASHINGTON -- The brightening and dimming of the sun may account for a 1,500-year cycle of cooling and warming on parts of the Earth, a study of ice in the North Atlantic suggests. Researchers found that a very slight difference in the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth can have a powerful chilling effect on the climate: ice builds up in lands bordering the North Atlantic, the average temperature drops in Europe and North America. ``Whether the whole Earth is affected, we don't know for sure yet, but it is certainly implied,'' said Gerard C. Bond, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y." (AP) | Persistent Solar Influence on North Atlantic Climate During the Holocene [PDF] (ScienceXpress) | A Variable Sun Paces Millennial Climate [PDF] (Science)

"Tracking Climate Change on the Tundra: Team Devising New Tools" - "If global warming occurs as scientists predict, it could be exacerbated by changes in Arctic thaw lakes and their basins, which make up the majority of the landscape on the Arctic Coastal Plain. That's why University of Cincinnati assistant professor of geography Wendy Eisner is leading a team that is developing ways to monitor these basins." (University of Cincinnati)

"A chance to act" - "Canada's cities are making an offer that Environment Minister David Anderson would be foolish to refuse. The country's municipal governments are prepared to deliver one quarter of the reduction in greenhouse gases that Ottawa promised at last weekend's climate-change conference meeting in Marrakech." (Toronto Star)

"Weather watchers hedging bets on wetter than average summer" - "This summer could be a good one for gardeners and firefighters in both east and west Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology's outlook for December to February shows the odds are high for above-average rainfall on both sides of the continent.

On a cautionary note, the bureau said the outlook had "modest skill at best" for summer in the regions of increased rainfall probability." (Canberra Times)

"Molecular 'nanogenerator' developed that can target cancer cells and destroy them" - "NEW YORK, November 15, 2001 – Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) have developed a molecular nanogenerator that releases a cascade of atomic fragments known as alpha particles on the inside of cancer cells. These nanogenerators consist of a single radioactive atom contained inside a molecular cage and attached to an antibody that homes in on cancer cells -- carrying the generator to the interior of those cells and destroying them. The results of this work are published in the November 16 issue of Science." (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)

"Hunger in America 2001" - "This report proves what many of us have known for some time: despite our nation's great wealth and power, despite the fact that America's farmers can feed a good share of the entire world, about 31 million Americans don't know, for certain, if they or their families will have enough to eat. Worse yet, nine million of these people are children who have to line up at a soup kitchen or food pantry to get a meal. The fact that 10% of all families in the most powerful nation in the world don't know where their next meal will come from is simply unacceptable." -- Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry" (America’s Second Harvest)

"Biotech And You" issue number 4, Fall, 2001  - "Don't Hold the Salt: Salt-tolerant crops could improve farming in developing countries; How Sweet It Is: A new variety of biotech potatoes could simplify sugar production; Golden Opportunities: Advances in biotechnology could help prevent childhood malnutrition; Curing Kernels: An AIDS vaccine could soon be available thanks to biotechnology." (Council For Biotechnology Information)

"EC-sponsored Research on Safety of Genetically Modified Organisms; Review of Results" - "This website provides a comprehensive review of the results of EC-supported research into the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms.

It presents research carried out under successive EC Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development from 1985 (Biotechnology Action Programme) to 2000 (Fifth Framework Programme)." (European Commission)

"THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY CONTROVERSY" - " - "The second most widely grown transgenic crop in the United States are maize (Zea mays) cultivars that have been engineered to express genes for various insecticidal protein endotoxins (Bt toxins) from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The principal target species for Bt toxin-expressing maize (Bt maize) is the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), one of the most damaging pests of maize in North America. Losses attributable to European corn borer damage exceed over $1 billion annually in the United States alone. Bt toxins are widely believed to be selectively toxic, only affecting those insects (e.g. lepidopteran larvae) that have a gut alkaline enough to activate the Bt protoxin by enzymatic proteolysis. Receptor binding by the C-terminal domain of the active toxin is the major determinant of host specificity by the different Bt toxins.

Given the growing agricultural importance of Bt maize as well as Bt cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) and Bt potato (Solanum tuberosum), it is not surprising that a storm of controversy arose following the publication in Nature of a preliminary study by Losey et al. (1999). This paper raised serious concerns about the ecological safety of Bt maize cultivation to non-target lepidopterans, in particular the larvae of monarch butterfly (Danaus plexipus)." (Plant Physiology)

"Pioneering Advocate Of GM Food In China" - "Peking University biologist Chen Zhangliang, 40, is China's most passionate proponent of genetically modified foods and plants and a leading scientist in the field. His work promises to transform the way Asians grow their food." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"Reaching the inner ear of the EC: How scientists lobby for their interests at the European Commission" - "In 1999, one US university alone spent US$ 760 000 on lobbying politicians for funding to improve its science facilities. Boston University was criticised when it contracted a professional lobbying agency, Cassidy & Associates, to do the ‘dirty’ work. And that is how it would be considered in the medieval world of European science politics. Welcome to the arcane, unintuitive and dimly lit labyrinth of the European Commission (EC). While some wander the narrow passageways with no more than a tallow torch to light their way, eventually joining the dusty skeletons, others seem to be friends with its keepers, and know the passwords to the secret rooms." (Andrew Moore, EMBO)

November 15, 2001

soft cartoon.gif (146819 bytes) "Junk activism" - "Junk science-fueled activist groups are in trouble. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, few are paying attention to their extreme and, frankly, silly crusades. While many groups sensibly have tempered their activism, the "food police" at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are escalating the campaign against soft drinks. Exploiting the release of new "Harry Potter" movie, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," CSPI is trying to advance its anti-soft drink campaign by attacking Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the movie and promotion of the "Reading Is Fundamental" program for children." (Steve Milloy, Washington Times)

"Tuberculosis Group Tries to Spur Research for New Antibiotics" - "PARIS, Nov. 14 — Trying to entice major drug companies into plunging into the tuberculosis market, the new Global Alliance for TB Drug Development is to release a study on Thursday that estimates that the market will be worth $700 million a year by 2010.

But because big pharmaceutical companies prefer to concentrate research on drugs that will yield $1 billion in yearly sales, it is not clear how much incentive will be provided. The study assumes that half the $700 million would be spent on the low-profit generic drugs that are now used." (New York Times)

"Academics blame lack of funding for Africa's Aids crisis: Study reopens debate on impact of patents on epidemic" - "Activists say patents allow drug companies to charge prices for Aids medicines that put them out the reach of most Africans. The industry has countered that without the profits that patents guarantee, the drugs would not have been invented.

New research from two academics claims, however, to undermine both of these positions, at least in part. Amir Attaran of Harvard University and Lee Gillespie-White of the International Intellectual Property Institute tried to find out exactly how many Aids drugs were patented in sub-Saharan Africa. The answer, they believe, is not many." (Financial Times)

"FEATURE - Do patents threaten food security?" - "GENEVA - Global food security is under threat from "bio-pirates" who take plants from developing countries, change them slightly then patent the new varieties, according to anti-poverty groups and activists." (Reuters)

"Ovarian cancer rates soar" - "The number of cases ovarian cancer in England and Wales has soared by nearly 20% over the last 20 years. In Scotland, the rate has risen by nearly a quarter." (BBC Online)

Wonder if this will slow down those who tout oral contraceptive pill (OCP, "The Pill") risk. The prognosis for sufferers of ovarian cancer is poor. Susceptibility declines by half for women who have ever taken the pill, more than nine-tenths for long-term OCP users.

"Scientists a step closer in the fight against cancer" - "Melbourne scientists have developed a vaccination which wipes out cancerous tumours in mice." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

If only people were mice...

"Gene may fend off prions" - "People who lack a gene involved in immune responses may be three times more likely to suffer from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), a new study suggests. The result, if borne out in larger studies, could point researchers toward therapies for the incurable brain disease." (Nature News)

"Germans try to sabotage health risk tests on chemicals" - "A German bid to de-rail plans for sweeping new tests on thousands of chemicals in used in the EU is being resisted by British MEPs in Strasbourg. The EU Commission propose to update checks on at least 30,000 chemicals which could pose human health risks. But German centre-right MEPs have been coming under intense last-minute pressure from the German industrial lobby groups not to back measures which could mean the withdrawal of some established chemicals and a costly search for substitutes." (Ananova)

"Mice with human protein, COX-2, exhibit age-related memory loss similar to Alzheimer's disease" - "A new player is emerging in the complex world of the brain. This player, a protein called COX-2, appears to be critically important in the brain's normal functioning, as evidenced by its ability to wreak havoc in mice that have too much of it." (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions)

"Experts say anti-lead poisoning efforts fall short" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 14 - States and localities should move more aggressively to prevent lead exposure among low-income children, but may need more help from the paint industry or the federal government to do it, US experts told lawmakers Tuesday.

Witnesses said that state and municipal efforts have had some success at removing toxic lead-based paint from older housing. But the programs can target only a fraction of the federally estimated 25 million homes that have significant lead levels inside, they pointed out.

Advocates called on Congress to send more money to states for lead cleanup and to enact stricter rules on acceptable lead levels. They also called on lead paint manufacturers--who allegedly knew of the toxicity of their products--to help pay for the cost of cleanup." (Reuters Health)

"Lung Association CEO To Testify for Bill to Reduce Power Plant Pollutants" - "Electric power plant emissions are seriously damaging public health and the environment. To counter this damage, the American Lung Association supports S. 556, the Clean Power Act, including its emissions targets and deadlines. The legislation is aimed at reducing and capping emissions of all four major power plant air pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and mercury." (media release)

Here's a news flash for ALA (a.k.a. Gasbags America): CO2 isn't a pollutant - it's an essential trace gas. The "harm" perpetrated by the other cited power plant emissions is greatly overstated and diminishing as new technology comes online. ALA's alleged body counts from power plant emissions suffer a significant flaw - absence of actual bodies.

"Carbon Trading Market Expands to Chicago, Mexico City" - "CHICAGO, Illinois, November 13, 2001 - The city of Chicago will become the first American municipality to commit to participate in the development of a carbon emissions trading system, Mayor Richard Daley announced today. At the same time, Mexico City officials also announced their intention to join in the carbon trading initiative." (ENS)

"Why We All Love Wally Broecker" - "Summary: There are people at both poles of the global warming debate who truly believe what they say they believe about atmospheric CO2 and potential global change. There are others who do not. In this week's Editorial, we discuss a recent paper by a scientist who, in direct opposition to our views, strongly endorses curtailing anthropogenic CO2 emissions, but who does not attempt to ignore - or alter! - the many facts that raise serious and valid questions about that policy." (co2science.org)

"Recent Studies Show Global Warming May Enhance Soil Carbon Storage and Thereby Slow Its Own Progression" - "Summary: Long-held beliefs about the temperature dependency of  ecosystem net CO2 exchange rate - and, therefore, ecosystem carbon sequestration potential - are inexorably crumbling before the advancing tide of real-world scientific research." (co2science.org)

"Uncertainties in Anthropogenic Radiative Forcing of Climate" - "Summary: There's lots of them; and they're big. Journal of Geophysical Research 106: 5279-5293." (co2science.org)

"Breakup of Small Antarctic Ice Shelves Is Not Evidence of Anthropogenic Climate Change" - "Summary: Sorry, climate alarmists. The natural ebb and flow of millennial-scale climate oscillations is probably the cause of the recent ice shelf breakups. Geology 29: 787-790." (co2science.org)

"Atmospheric CO2 and Groundwater Quality: Is There a Connection?" - "Summary: Very possibly. Oecologia 127: 540-548." (co2science.org)

"Kyoto calculations" - "Canada's Environment Minister has developed quite a facility for the lingo of pollution agreements. In Morocco last week for United Nations-sponsored talks on global warming, David Anderson spoke easily of terms such as fungibility, the interchangeability of pollution credits. But when he tried to explain how Canada will meet its obligations under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a pact for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions linked to the warming of the planet, his tongue became tangled." (Globe and Mail)

Oh woe! We're all goin' t' [broil/freeze/drown/die of thirst/have bad hair day/other*] "Global Warming Will Leave No One Untouched" - "GLOBAL warming, even the most marginal of environmentalists say, is by far one of the most burning issues of this age. It is an issue that will leave no one untouched, suggests environmental affairs minister Valli Moosa. In fact, so catastrophic are the consequences, climatologists tell us, that unless we all take up the cudgels now, the world is doomed." (Business Day (Johannesburg))

* choose fear-du-jour or insert random 'other,' season with large grains of salt to taste.

"The Toothless Kyoto Dragon" - "When the final “i”s were dotted and the last “t”s were crossed this week at the United Nation’s Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP-7) on climate change in Marrakech, Morocco, Oliver DeLeuze heaved a great sigh of relief. "The Kyoto Protocol is saved," whooped the head of the delegation from the European Union.

If you wonder what saving that accord means, the answer is, well, not much. Not much for the 165 countries that signed the agreement designed to “save” the protocol. Not much for the United States that didn’t. And not much for the climate that the protocol is ostensibly designed to keep from warming." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"Turnaround on Kyoto Protocol" - "TOKYO - Japan is set to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming after an accord on the treaty was reached at the United Nations climate talks in Morocco on the weekend.

"We will begin full-fledged work for concluding the Kyoto Protocol in 2002," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told a meeting of the Global Warming Prevention group on Monday evening." (Asia Times)

"Kyoto Treaty: Miners Must Kill Or Be Killed" - "It was too much to hope that post-September 11 the world would become a more level-headed place. Years of post-Cold War fat living allowed the world to entertain idleness like the Kyoto Treaty on global warming and, now that the leaner years are ahead, we should dispense with such nonsense." (Miningweb (Johannesburg))

"Gene labels scare off food makers" - "Food manufacturers are discarding genetically modified ingredients from their products to avoid having to display GM food labels from next month. Big food companies have caved in to consumer resistance and sought non-GM sources for ingredients. Despite earlier industry estimates that 40 to 60 per cent of processed foods included GM ingredients, the largest supermarket chain, Woolworths, now expects only "a handful" of its house brands may require GM labels." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Commentary: Do Benefits Outweigh Side Effects" - "To begin, let me directly address the first question: Do the benefits of GM crops outweigh the risks of possible side effects?

The answer: No damaging side-effects have been detected from any genetically engineered crops submitted for approval. This basic fact must be noted at the outset of the debate itself. With respect to Bt Cotton, experience from South Africa and China, where it has been approved for on-farm production, shows large benefits. The use of chemical pesticides have been reduced dramatically.

This has reduced production costs for farmers, protected the environment from pesticide residues, and reduced illness and death from pesticide poisoning.

No damaging side-effects have been found. And huge benefits have accrued to all sections of society. It should therefore not be a surprise that Indian farmers want to grow Bt Cotton." (Per Pinstrup-Andersen, The Economic Times)

"Blood gene saps malaria" - "One in ten people in the west African country Burkina Faso have a gene that defends them against malaria, a new survey shows.

The gene encodes a mutant form of haemoglobin, red-blood cells' oxygen-carrying molecule. People with one copy of the gene are 26% less likely to get sick with malaria. Those with two - one from mum and one from dad - have an unprecedented 93% reduction in malaria risk." (Nature News)

"Biotechnology hurting land, panel hears" - "Remembering the land and respecting the Earth was the focus of a discussion by aboriginal scientists Saturday at the Mendel Art Gallery.

The four scientists talked about aboriginal teachings about the Earth and food, indigenous systems for management of food production and Native perspectives on biotechnology in the three-hour discussion." (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

"Pitching Pharma: Biotechnology and the Media" - "Abstract: Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have recently enjoyed a rapid increase in media coverage. In this article, the author offers advice on understanding and working with journalists to create a more positive impression of these burgeoning industries." (Clive Cookson, HMS Beagle)

"UPDATE - Argentine organic farmers seek anti-GM court fight" - "BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Argentine organic farmers expect a ruling soon on whether a legal challenge against the state's support of genetically modified (GM) corn crops will go to trial, the group's president said.

The Argentine Movement for Organic Production (MAPO) filed a complaint last week against the Agriculture Department demanding that it stop approving the use of and suspend all past authorizations of BT corn, modified to resist insects.

MAPO, which represents 300 organic farmers, also wants to bring a stop to the use and sale of GM corn seeds." (Reuters)

"New GM food products 'to guarantee safety'" - "The next generation of genetically modified food products are more likely to be accepted if they are proven safe and have clear consumer benefits, a leading food scientist has said.

Prof Fergal O'Gara, director of Biomerit Research Centre in UCC, said GM food-producers had changed emphasis to developing products where the consumer benefit was more obvious." (Irish Times)

"GM protesters face crop damage charges" - "Six people arrested during a demonstration at Wales's only GM crop trial have been charged with criminal damage. The six, who include environment journalist George Monbiot, were charged on Wednesday by North Wales Police and will appear at Mold magistrates' court on 20 November. It is expected the protesters will plead not guilty to the criminal damage of the fodder maize crop, which is being grown by Flintshire farmer John Cottle. The six are understood to be prepared to claim in court they acted in the public interest and continue their argument that Wales should be GM-free." (BBC Online)

November 14, 2001

"Living under flight path drives up blood pressure: study" - "STOCKHOLM - New research has found a possible link between high blood pressure and living close to a flight path. A study in Stockholm has found the noise of aircraft flying overhead may be damaging to people's health. Researchers compared 266 people living close to Stockholm's Arland Airport with people who lived in another part of the area, away from aircraft noise. In areas subjected to intense noise levels, above 55 decibels, 20 per cent of people had high blood pressure. In less noisy neighbourhoods, just 14 per cent of people had high blood pressure." (CBC)

And this is due to noise rather than socio-economic status? More affluent people tend not to live under flight paths because they can afford not to - they can also afford better health care, tend to have healthier lifestyles, consumption patterns... but no, noise causes heart disease (better stay away symphony orchestras then).

"Insurer told to halt mold-related moves; Farmers says dropping comprehensive policies a financial must" - "AUSTIN – State Insurance Commissioner Jose Montemayor on Monday ordered Farmers Insurance Group to halt plans to eliminate its comprehensive homeowners policies in Texas and suggested the company may be violating state law. The action came in response to Farmers' decision Friday to not renew the comprehensive homeowners policies of 600,000 customers in Texas beginning Dec. 30. Farmers blamed the decision on its soaring mold claims in the state." (Dallas Morning News)

"DVT hits 1 in 20 high-risk passengers" - "TENS of thousands of passengers on long-haul flights unwittingly may develop potentially dangerous blood clots each year, a new study suggests. Three studies have shown that one in 20 "high risk" passengers suffers from a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) on a transatlantic flight. The definition of high risk includes people with circulation problems or a history of thrombosis." (Telegraph)

"Stockings, heparin found to eliminate 'coach class' syndrome" - "ANAHEIM, Calif., Nov. 13 – In healthy individuals, “compression” stockings reduced the incidence of leg blood clots that are common on long-haul flights. Compression stockings put pressure on the leg muscles to help return blood flow from the legs.

For people with cardiovascular disease and those who are at high risk for clots in the legs, a single injection of the blood thinner heparin did the trick, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2001 conference. People with a history of heart disease or stroke are considered at high risk for deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) on long plane rides, says researcher Gianni Belcaro, Ph.D., from the University of Chieti in Chieti, Italy. However, DVT is a condition that can also affect people who are apparently healthy, he says." (American Heart Association)

"Firms Wary of Challenging Asbestos Claims" - "The strategy of challenging the veracity and value of asbestos claims that bankrupt Babcock & Wilcox Co. is attempting in two New Orleans courtrooms was a tactical failure almost 20 years ago and lawyers watching the case don't think it has much chance in succeeding now." (Law.com)

Uh-oh! Now decaf's gonna getcha! "Decaf coffee linked to rheumatoid arthritis risk" - "SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 13 - Decaffeinated coffee may raise women's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, according to the findings of two studies presented here Tuesday at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting. "We concluded that decaffeinated coffee consumption was an important yet modifiable risk factor in the development of rheumatoid arthritis," said lead author Dr. Ted R. Mikuls, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Given the global popularity of coffee, our findings have potential public health implications." (Reuters Health)

EU chemophobia: "Chemical Risk to Europeans Up to Parliamentary Vote" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 12, 2001 - Today, non-governmental organizations representing millions of EU citizens called upon the European Parliament to support Europe’s move towards a better chemicals policy on Wednesday’s plenary vote on the Chemicals White Paper. Key aspects of the Environment Committee’s report could be dropped as a result of chemical industry pressure, warns the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a federation of 134 member organizations in 25 countries." (ENS)

II: "EU deputies to call for widespread chemicals tests" - "STRASBOURG, France - The European Parliament is expected to call today for widespread testing of chemicals to assess their health and environmental impact, a move likely to face opposition from the industry." (Reuters)

"Cardiac gene identified as link to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)" - "ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A Mayo Clinic study published in the Nov. 14 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association has identified a cardiac gene as a link to sudden death syndrome (SIDS). This finding represents the first molecular evidence to unlock the mystery behind SIDS." (Mayo Clinic)

"Duke researchers find strong genetic link for Parkinson's disease" - "DURHAM, N.C. – Duke University Medical Center researchers have completed a genomic screen of Parkinson's disease suggesting that multiple genes are involved in the origins of the most common form of Parkinson's disease that occurs later in life.

The findings provide strong evidence that Parkinson's disease has an important genetic component and is not caused exclusively by environmental factors, said Margaret Pericak-Vance, director of Duke's Center for Human Genetics and senior author of the study that appears in the Nov. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The new findings challenge the results of previously published studies of twins that suggested environmental factors are the primary cause of Parkinson's disease, with only a minor genetic contribution." (Duke University Medical Center)

"Study finds no reduction in deaths or heart attacks in heart disease patients treated for depression and low social support" - "ANAHEIM, Calif.: Treating patients who are depressed and lack social support with counseling and psychotropic drugs soon after a heart attack did not lower their risk of death or of having a second heart attack. However, the treatment program reduced patients’ depression and increased their level of social support, according to a study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and presented today at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference." (NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

"Epidemic diabetes warning" - "Health experts are warning of an epidemic in diabetes as growing numbers of Australians suffer from obesity and poor diet." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"US military must wage war with weight, says obesity expert" - "The US military has an important war to wage on fat within its own ranks, according to a study authored by Richard Atkinson, MD, professor of medicine and nutritional sciences at the University of Wisconsin.

Atkinson, who is also president of the American Obesity Association, recently presented his findings to a national conference on obesity, saying: "The Armed Forces are not immune from the obesity epidemic sweeping this country […] It's time we recognize obesity as a chronic disease and dedicate federal resources into research and effective treatment programs." (just-food.com)

"Journals allow "ruling clique to be the keepers of the gate" - "Eminent ecologists are dominating debate on the extinction of species and preventing other views from being heard, says a US fisheries expert who sees the controversial Bjorn Lomborg as a natural product of his time." (BioMedNet News update)

"An American Alternative to Enviro-Gloom: Reduce Global Poverty" - "The Kyoto Protocol is saved." So announced Olivier DeLeuze, head of a delegation from the European Union at the meeting of representatives from about 170 nations who gathered in exotic Marrakech, Morocco to decide what to do about the earth’s climate.

Again, the subject was the Kyoto Protocol, which requires industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse-gas emissions below 1990 levels. And after two weeks of deliberations among those countries participating in Kyoto, a deal on many of the particulars was reached. Fortunately, for America and for the world, the United States is not a party to the treaty." (James K. Glassman, Tech Central Station)

"Report Summary Spins Global Warming, Says a Participant" - "Condensing the 700-page report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) into a 20-page summary requires selectivity, says Kenneth Green of the Reason Public Policy Institute -- who was an expert reviewer for the Working Group I and Working Group II volumes of the IPCC Third Assessment Report.

As with past summaries for policy-makers, the summary tends to downplay uncertainty, emphasize human culpability and generally provide only information supporting policy options favored by the United Nations -- the immediate adoption of international agreements to reduce the emissions of "greenhouse gases." (NCPA)

"General Assembly Warned Of Continuing Threat From Global Warming, Rising Sea Level Danger To Island Nations" - "The global issue immediately threatening his country was that of rising sea levels due to climate change, the President of Micronesia told the General Assembly this morning as it continued its general debate.

It was the fourth day of the Assembly’s annual overview of international affairs, which began on Saturday, seven weeks later than originally planned, because of the terrorist attack of 11 September against the host country.

President Leo Falcam said Micronesia contributed “infinitesimally” to the problem of human-induced climate change, yet it was among the “front-line” States dealing with its impact. Credible scientific evidence suggested the global warming was greater than the most extreme estimates just ten years ago, when his country became a member of the United Nations. It could already be too late, because the rising sea level caused by global warming was already causing population movements." (United Nations)

"Asylum request puzzles Tuvalu" - "AUSTRALIA is rescuing asylum seekers from sinking boats only to send them to a sinking country. Tuvalu, a tiny nation slowly being swallowed by the Pacific, is the latest Australian neighbour asked to process asylum seekers. Frightened by rising sea levels allegedly caused by the greenhouse effect, Tuvaluans recently asked if they could come to Australia. Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said no, but now his representatives have asked if asylum seekers can go to Tuvalu." (Courier-Mail) | Sinking Pacific nation asked to take in refugees (AFP)

"Don't Boo-Hoo for Tuvalu" - "It's nice to know, even in these troubled times, that eternal verities remain. One is outright lying about environmental issues in order to stampede world leaders who currently have bigger fish to fry." (Patrick J. Michaels, Cato Institute) | Cabanes et al, Science 294: 840-842 (PDF)

"UPDATE - Poor planning played a role in Algeria flooding" - "ALGIERS - Poor planning and worse maintenance, not the wrath of nature, explain the high death toll from flash flooding in Algeria, experts said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Bangladesh flood and drought forecasting could bring farmers, cholera victims relief" - "A cooperative new research project studying oscillations in the Indian Ocean and rainfall in the major river basins pouring into Bangladesh should help researchers better forecast floods and the associated spread of cholera in the low-lying nation." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"Agreement in Marrakech Sustains Kyoto Protocol" - "WASHINGTON, DC-After hours of grueling around-the-clock negotiations, representatives from over 160 nations concluded a two-week UN-sponsored conference in Marrakech November 10 by reaching an agreement on language aimed at achieving ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The deal came about only after last-minute concessions by the European Union to countries dubbed the "gang of four," Russia, Japan, Australia, and Canada. It sets the stage for legislative bodies around the world to ratify the global warming treaty beginning next year. By far the biggest winner in Marrakech was Russia." (Bonner R Cohen, Earth Times News Service)

"Wildlife will wander in warmer world" - "Global warming could condemn some of the rarest wildlife in the British Isles to extinction by 2050, scientists believe. While some species may migrate to cooler regions, others will be unable to move or to adapt. Other species may find their range reduced, although there will be gains for those able to roam further afield. And conservationists will need new techniques to manage a warmer world. The warning comes in a report from the UK Climate Impacts Programme, entitled Climate Change and Nature Conservation in Britain and Ireland." (BBC Online) | Climate warning for Scotland’s wildlife (The Scotsman)

"Thin-air syndrome" - "Ottawa is thrilled with the new Kyoto Protocol deal signed last weekend in Marrakech. But why, when they don't seem to understand the science?" (Ross McKitrick, National Post)

"A Climate Treaty Without U.S." - "Delegates from 160 governments have hammered out the details of a landmark treaty to reduce the output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The occasion would have been even grander were the world's No. 1 polluter, the United States, a signatory." (Hartford Courant editorial)

"Pretoria to Ratify Kyoto Protocol" - "South Africa will ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Environmental affairs minister Valli Moosa has given instruction for his department to ratify the controversial protocol and has expressed confidence that world nations will follow suit." (Buanews (Pretoria))

"Minister to talk with Keidanren on Kyoto pact ratification" - "TOKYO, Nov. 12 - Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tuesday she has requested a meeting with the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) to seek industry's support for Japan's plan to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. ''It is important to gain understanding for a step forward at a time when the Japanese economy is in very bad shape,'' Kawaguchi told a press conference." (Kyodo)

"Business leaders not as keen on green as govt" - "The government hopes to ensure that next year's ordinary Diet session will ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, following an international agreement reached Saturday in Marrakesh, Morocco, on the small print for implementing the global warming treaty.

The nation's business community, however, has made clear its regret over an accord that does not include the United States, saying that country's freedom from the agreement's restrictions would undermine Japan's international competitiveness." (Yomiuri Shimbun)

"Greenhouse compromise 'worth it for agreement'" - "The compromise reached at the Marrakesh meeting to establish the rules for implementing the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse emissions has been welcomed by Australia's leading expert on greenhouse accounting." (Canberra Times)

"UK nukes want higher prices for their CO2-free power" - "LONDON - Britain should pay nuclear power generators extra for their electricity in recognition they do not produce greenhouse gases and to make it economic to build new plants, nuclear power companies argued yesterday." (Reuters)

"Environmental Group Critiques Coal Study" - "An environmental group released a study Thursday critizing a federal advisory panel's call for increased production from coal-fired power plants." (E&E Publishing)

"Potential of tailoring drugs to genetic makeup confirmed--but challenges remain" - "At a time when harmful drug reactions are thought to rank just after strokes as a leading cause of death in the U.S., the potential benefits of tailoring drugs to a patient’s genetic makeup have been confirmed in a systematic study led by University of California, San Francisco scientists.

The quantitative assessment of the promise of this new approach – known as pharmacogenomics –confirms that many harmful drug reactions previously thought to be non-preventable may now actually be averted using genetic information about patients to select their drug therapies." (University of California - San Francisco)

"EU pols: Health funding plan too biotech-heavy" - "BRUSSELS, Nov 13 - European Union plans for research funding risk neglecting major diseases, according to a draft report to be voted on at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and researchers have criticised the European Commission's proposal for its "sixth framework programme for research," which covers the next 6 years. They say the health component of the proposal focuses too much on genomics and biotechnology, and not enough on individual diseases like cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's." (Reuters Health)

"INTERVIEW-Scientist sees hope for Africa in GM crops" - "CHICAGO, Nov 13 - African farmers waging the age-old battle against pests and crop disease are not nearly as well-armed as their counterparts in Europe and North America. But biotechnology could provide them with powerful tools to help feed a growing population and reduce hunger, Kenyan plant scientist Florence Wambugu said." (Reuters)

"'Gene gun' blazes away in biotech fight on famine" - "A designer "gene gun" blasting slivers of metal into an innocent soybean plant may sound like a futuristic and far-fetched way to ward off famine by improving the food supply of the world's poorest countries. So does subjecting stalks of defenceless corn to doses of high-voltage electricity, or bombarding them with sound waves. But these are just some of the techniques used by scientists striving for more versatility in altering plant cell structures in the controversial research area known as biotechnology, which tries to improve on the precision of natural plant breeding." (Reuters)

"First Tillage Study Findings Released by ASA" - "The American Soybean Association (ASA) has released the findings of its first-ever conservation tillage study that shows how the availability of soybean seeds enhanced through biotechnology has allowed and encouraged farmers to implement reduced tillage practices that protect farmland from wind and rain erosion." (AgricultureLaw.com)

November 13, 2001

"Junk Activism, Harry Potter and Coke" - Junk science-fueled activist groups are in trouble. In the wake of the Sep. 11 attacks, few are paying attention to their extreme and, frankly, silly crusades.

While many groups sensibly have tempered their activism, the "food police" at the Center for Science in the Public Interest are escalating the campaign against soft drinks. (Steve Milloy, JunkScience.com)

"Flu Shots: A Good Idea for Those Who Are At Risk" - "To the Editor: Vaccinations against influenza—the "flu shot"—should indeed be encouraged by our public health officials, but not merely to allay fears concerning confusion with anthrax symptoms ("Flu Shots Won't Alleviate Worries...", Nov. 1).

Influenza, a largely preventable disease, continues to kill over 20,000 Americans each year, despite the availability of an effective vaccine. Yet, between one-third and one-half of those who would most benefit, such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic diseases, remain unprotected.

If more Americans get their flu shots, even though provoked by unwarranted fear of contracting anthrax, the net effect of this scare might actually result in saving lives, those that would have otherwise been lost to an old foe, influenza." (Gilbert Ross, M.D., Wall Street Journal)

A vote of confidence for Health Canada - not: "Independent agency needed to monitor drug reaction reports: journal" - "HALIFAX - There's a new call for an independent agency to monitor adverse drug reactions in Canada. In an editorial, the Canadian Medical Association Journal says it doesn't make sense for the pharmaceutical companies and Health Canada to be in charge of warning Canadians about problems with drugs." (CBC)

"Consumers More Receptive to Meat Irradiation Now" - "If it is good enough for the U.S. mail, then maybe irradiation technology has a larger role to play in food safety. Apparently, concerns about the safety of the food supply has increased public support for the use of irradiation to kill pathogens in food.

A new Porter Novelli survey, conducted among 1,008 U.S. adults from November 2-6, 2001, found consumers have moved from trepidation to a strong level of support for the technology. More than half (52 percent) said the government should require irradiation to help ensure a safe food supply. (A similar Porter Novelli survey conducted last year found that only 11 percent of consumers said they would buy irradiated foods if they were available)." (AgWeb.com)

"Environmental regulators struggle over release of information on chemical and biological hazards" - "WASHINGTON-- Environmental regulators find themselves caught between conflicting mandates to give the public information about chemical and biological hazards and at the same time keep that information away from terrorists. (AP)

"Organophosphate Insecticides Being Scrutinized, Restricted" - "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing the risks of organophosphate (OP) pesticides, which are widely used in agriculture. Most regulatory actions resulting from the initial assessment have affected OP use on fruits and vegetables. Preliminary results of EPA's cumulative assessment, which examines the risks of OPs as a group, are to be released December 1 and may result in additional use restrictions." (ERS)

"A drink a day takes some arterial stiffness away" - "ANAHEIM, Calif., Nov. 12 – Light to moderate alcohol intake may slow age-related stiffening of the arteries, according to research presented today at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2001 conference. This study is the first to look specifically at the effect of alcohol on the gradual stiffening of the arteries as people age, which causes increased systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading). Researchers also examined whether alcohol consumption alters the age-associated increase in intimal media thickness (IMT), which is the thickness of the innermost layers of an artery." (American Heart Association)

"Diabetic German judge sues Coca-Cola for his health condition" - "ESSEN: The Coca-Cola company went on trial here on Monday, accused by a German judge suffering from diabetes of failing to warn of a health risk for consumers of the famous soft drink. Hans-Josef Brinkmann, 46, a court vice-president in the east German town of Neubrandenburg who drank two bottles of Coca-Cola a day for years, maintains the company is partly responsible for his condition. Brinkmann says that from 1994 onwards he consumed the soft drink and candy bars regularly because of his stressful workload -- until he was diagnosed with diabetes in 1998.

Brinkmann plans to bring a similar case against Masterfoods, manufacturers of Mars Bars, Snickers and Milky Way chocolate candy, in January." (AFP)

"Leg Length May Hold Clues to Male Health - Doctors" - "LONDON - Leg length may determine more than a man's stature but could also be an indicator of his chances of developing diabetes and heart disease, British researchers said Tuesday. They found that men with short legs had an increased risk of heart disease and a condition that can lead to diabetes.

"This provides supportive evidence for the hypothesis that impaired growth during childhood increases the risk of these conditions," Smith said in a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health." (Reuters)

"Antitrade activists face tough sell" - "As world trade meeting wraps up in Qatar, activists find little appetite for US-bashing in shadow of 9/11." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Trading Up in Qatar" - "The real protests at this week's World Trade Organization talks aren't public. They're happening behind closed doors, and they're coming from farmers' groups, unions, and corporations." (Christian Science Monitor)

"British Energy calls end to nuclear waste reprocessing" - "BRITAIN'S biggest nuclear power generator has told the government it intends to stop sending its nuclear waste for reprocessing. British Energy says it wants to dispose of its spent nuclear fuel by storing it at its nuclear power stations around the UK for 20 years, while radioactivity decreases, before sending it to an underground repository." (Sunday Times)

"It's time to recycle spent nuclear fuel" - "What will be done with the more than 43,000 metric tons of spent fuel stored at Fermi 2, Donald C. Cook, Palisades and other nuclear power plant sites around the United States?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, spent nuclear fuel is not strictly nuclear waste. It contains a huge store of valuable plutonium and uranium that can be extracted to make new reactor fuel for producing electricity. Prudence dictates that this waste should be stored in facilities designed for the purpose, not in a variety of ways at individual nuclear plants scattered across the country (the current approach).

This fuel should be stored in a facility built for that purpose, but not permanently discarded. Instead, it should be possible to retrieve the valuable energy resources contained within it and recycle them." (Kim Kearfott, Detroit News)

"Weather Forecasters Look Ahead, Far Ahead" - "Competing for companies and consumers seeking reliable weather information, commercial forecasters are sharply expanding the boundaries of their predictions. Not long ago, five, six or seven days was considered the practical limit for accurately forecasting temperature and precipitation in a particular place at a particular time. But the Weather Channel, on its Weather.com Web site, and its archrival, AccuWeather.com, two of the largest commercial purveyors of weather information, have been leaping into the forecasting future.

There is also no independent organization that tracks the performance of commercial forecasts, so it is up to people using the services to judge how, say, today's two-week forecast for Cleveland matches up with what conditions actually occur there two weeks from now. Last March, noting the lengthening commercial forecasts, the American Meteorological Society — the largest organization of American atmospheric scientists — issued a statement essentially repudiating the idea that local weather could be accurately forecast two weeks ahead. "There is no scientific basis for the deterministic prediction of day-to- day weather beyond a week or two," the statement read. "Claims of skillful predictions of day-to-day weather changes beyond this limit have no scientific basis and are either misinformed or calculated misrepresentations of true capabilities." (New York Times)

"Marrakech nudges climate treaty onwards" - "The Morocco climate conference succeeded in patching together a compromise which every country could endorse. The optimists say it was at least a working compromise, a springboard for serious action later. The pessimists say it was what always happens at meetings like this - more dilution of previous agreements. What Marrakech certainly means is that the Kyoto Protocol can now enter into force." (BBC Online)

"Long way ahead on Kyoto deal, say groups" - "Major environmental groups reacted with caution to a Climate Change agreement reached this weekend in Marrakech under which 170 countries pledged to cut back "greenhouse gas" emissions by 2012.

The decision to move forward on putting the 1997 Kyoto Protocol into practice was welcomed, but the groups point to weaknesses and loopholes that may prevent the treaty from making a significant dent in global warming trends." (OneWorld.net)

"Australia to earn Kyoto credit" - "AFTER years of painful and protracted negotiations, Australia has emerged a clear winner in the final agreement over operating rules for the Kyoto Protocol, finalised in Marrakesh at the weekend." (The Australian)

"Australia `No' to Kyoto" - "In his first major interview after his weekend election victory, Australian Prime Minister John Howard had this to say about the Kyoto Protocol -  Transcript from ABC TV 12 Nov 2001" (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"NZ to finalise Kyoto legislation" - "Climate change legislation is expected to be introduced to New Zealand in the next six months, after international ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in Morocco." (OneNews)

Um... who ratified The Protocol in Morocco?

"Gov't to hold meeting on Kyoto Protocol policy Mon." - "TOKYO, Nov. 12 - The government is set to hold a meeting Monday evening to discuss Japan's policy regarding the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming following an accord over the treaty reached Saturday at U.N. climate talks in Morocco.

The global warming prevention headquarters is expected to discuss Japan's ratification of the protocol in the 6 p.m. meeting at the prime minister's official residence, government officials said." (Kyodo)

"Japan to ratify Kyoto Protocol" - "Japan has finally decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, despite resistance from the United States and domestic industries, the government said Monday evening." (Mainichi Shimbun)

"Rising N.S. tides blamed on global warming" - "PORTLAND, Maine - The tide is coming in a little farther on parts of the east coast and it's being blamed on climate change. International researchers have found the sea level has risen as much 0.6 metres in Nova Scotia during the past 250 years." (AP)

The Week That Was November 10, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"Modern methods unsuitable for Scottish farms" - "A WARNING that in-vogue practices such as minimum tillage, umbrella farming and equipment sharing can create more problems than solutions has come from a leading agronomist.

... He also had a word of caution for growers tempted to follow the trend for reduced cultivation systems, such as min-till, eco-till and no-till. "Most Scottish soils are not inherently suitable for minimum tillage. And looking at calculations in terms of machinery, the fact is there are no genuine savings to be made on machinery across the board and the risks are extremely high," he said. He also challenged the notion of environmentally-friendly eco-tillage, maintaining that ploughing to release nitrogen in the soil and then "spoon-feeding" applied nitrogen according to crop requirements would limit leaching problems associated with ploughing. Phillips pointed out that considerably more was being spent on weed control with residual herbicides in these systems." (The Scotsman)

"Private Investments in Agricultural Research and International Technology Transfer in Asia" - "This report provides original estimates of private sector agricultural research and development efforts in Asia during the 1990s. The report examines seven Asia countries (India, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and China). The examination provides an assessment of the trends in private sector R&D developments in the agricultural inputs industries in each country." (ERS Agricultural Economics Report No. 805)

"Immune system discovery may lead to preventive therapy for diabetes" - "BOSTON – By manipulating a cell that controls the immune system’s response to infections, researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and their colleague have prevented the onset of diabetes in mice predisposed to the disease. The finding one day may lead to the development of a preventive therapy for people at risk for type 1 diabetes." (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

"FEATURE-Farmers face threats over Britain's GM crop trials" - "LONDON, Nov 12 - A leaked report, several heated telephone calls and then David Rose's countryside neighbours turned nasty, putting paid to his dream of dragging what he calls outdated farming techniques into the 21st century. The farmer says he was shocked at how quickly the quiet village he has lived in for most of his life turned against him and his plans to take part in the British government's controversial trials of genetically modified (GM) crops." (Reuters)

"Protesters Don't Grasp Africa's Need" - "NAIROBI, Kenya -- They can buy their food in supermarkets. They can eat fast food, home-cooked food, restaurant food. They can choose the more expensive organic foods, or even imported foods. They can eat fresh, frozen or canned produce. Then, from their world of plenty, they tell us what we can and cannot feed our children." (Florence Wambugu, LA Times)

"CII concerned at illegal use of GM cotton" - "NEW DELHI: The Confederation of Indian Industry has expressed "deep concern" at the illegal use of genetically-modified Bt cotton, saying GM crops should be tested adequately and released for commercial use only after all the necessary environmental conditions have been met.

In a statement, CII's national task force on biotechnology says the present controversy on unauthorisedly grown Bt cotton in Gujarat may have a "backlash" on a fledgling biotech industry trying to follow the rules.

It says "surreptitious cultivation of GM seeds by profiteers who do not wish to follow regulations will jeopardise the larger interests" of this industry, which is committed to pursuing its business in "an ethical and well-regulated manner." (Times of India)

"Scientists Fear Invasion of 'Superweeds'" - "ROME - Beware the invasion of the superweeds. Scientists fear genetically modified, or GM, crops, already under attack for allegedly creating ``mutant'' food, could also create plants that are resistant to herbicides and insects. These could germinate from a previous harvest, hampering weed controls. GM herbicide- and insect-resistant crops are being planted on millions of acres of arable land, mainly in North America, but some scientists worry about their impact on the environment." (Reuters)

"FEATURE-Canola farmers go GM but watch exports" - "WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Nov 13 - Canada, one of the world's largest agricultural exporters, is planting ever more genetically modified crops, despite worries about a key export market and consumer concerns about food safety." (Reuters)

November 12, 2001

"What, me worry?" - "You have a better chance of getting killed by lightning than by anthrax" (George Gray and David Ropeik, Boston Globe)

On bureaucrats and 'puters: "How foot and mouth is fuelled by computers and cluelessness" - "ON a 17th-century Dutch map of Venezuela, inland from the coast, what is meant to be the Amazonian jungle extends for thousands of miles of pimply hills and one or two elegant trees. It looks like the park at Petworth. Among them, the cartographer has scattered one or two bodies here and there, and above them he makes a passing reference to the locals' drinking habits with the words: "Hic alcoholados." It was all he knew of that distant wilderness.

It turns out that the ministry that deals with farming - ex-Maff, now Defra (but if you ring them up, it's the same people, same telephone numbers, same mindset, even one of the same ministers) - has just about the same grasp of the geography of Great Britain as that poor Dutchman had of the Venezuelan interior. The epidemiologist Professor Roy Anderson, of Imperial College London, told the Commons Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee last week that he had asked Maff-Defra recently for the database of farm locations by which the spread of foot and mouth disease had been monitored. Immensely helpful, they sent him the data, but the co-ordinates they provided left him perplexed. Half the farms he tried to look up, as Prof Anderson told the committee, "were out in the North Sea." (Daily Telegraph)

Click here for the accompanying cartoon comment. Methinks climate models deserve the same fate. At this time we lack useful data and sufficient understanding of climate forcing needed to create models of any value. Even the contemporary surface temperature record amalgam is seriously corrupted by UHIE and proxies are used in lieu of absent long-term data, vague clues from which we make a number of assumptions. Unfortunately, the misuse of some proxies is a real embarrassment. See Number Watch's November issue (scroll down to "Leaf Mould") for a recent example.

"Ritalin May Cause Long-Lasting Changes in Brain-Cell Function, UB Researchers Find" - "SAN DIEGO -- Scientists at the University at Buffalo have shown that the drug methylphenidate, the generic form of Ritalin, which physicians have considered to have only short-term effects, appears to initiate changes in brain function that remain after the therapeutic effects have dissipated. The changes appear to be similar to those that occur with other stimulant drugs such as amphetamine and cocaine, said Joan Baizer, Ph.D., UB professor of physiology and biophysics and senior author of the study." (UB News)

"Winter is season of risk in a pregnancy" - "WOMEN who have their babies in winter have an increased risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening condition marked by high blood pressure. Risks rise by 26 per cent if the baby is born in December rather than August, according to a study that included every pregnancy in Norway over a period of more than 30 years." (The Times)

Hmm... there might be something in a seasonal variant like this since people's diet and exercise regimes certainly change with the seasons. Much better than the bizarre long-term life-risk by birth month nonsense touted recently anyway.

"Ministers sought to bury vCJD report" - "A senior expert on hospital decontamination methods has told Panorama how he was asked to destroy all evidence of a Government-commissioned report into standards of decontamination in English hospitals." (Panorama)

"Concern WTO will drop environment from agenda" - "Environmentalists monitoring the World Trade Organisation summit are concerned the global environment is about to be dropped from the agenda." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Asia's economic problems bad news for environment" - "BANGKOK, Thailand - Jobs were slashed, the stock market plunged and their currency withered. But many Thais detected a silver lining in the dark economic clouds - fumes from Bangkok's once infernal traffic jams thinned, dust swirls off construction sites vanished.

Elsewhere in Asia, the 1997 financial crisis and ensuing economic downturn were likewise viewed as a boon for the continent's battered environment as polluting factories closed, car sales plummeted and mega-projects were scrapped.

"It offers a time for us to rest and breathe," Ng Cho-nam, president of the Conservancy Association in Hong Kong, said then.

But while major construction is still on hold, and Bangkok's air may be cleaner, experts concur the breathing space was short-lived and say Asia's continuing economic woes are proving highly destructive to the environment." (AP)

Strangely, it always comes as a shock to the natur über alles brigade that environmental defence and repair is a very expensive business - one only sustained by economies generating sufficient societal surplus beyond mere sustenance of the community. Worse, the eco-flakes have never worked out that Kyoto would be environmentally devastating if implemented by suppressing the wealth generation that facilitates environmental sensitivity.

"Case for nuclear power hit by security fears" - "THE first findings of the government taskforce charged with solving Britain’s energy quandary will land on the desk of energy minister Brian Wilson within the next fortnight.

His mission: to replace the electricity generated by Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors without breaching the government’s Kyoto commitments on greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear power provides around a quarter of Britain’s energy needs, with gas and coal generating 40% and 30% respectively. Renewables, such as wind power, make up a paltry 4%. But over the next 25 years, all bar one of the country’s nuclear reactors will be decommissioned." (The Scotsman)

"Tokyo to ratify Kyoto accord" - "Japan still wants the U.S. on board, but will move on the Kyoto Protocol without Washington, if it must." (Asahi Shimbun)

"ANALYSIS - US isolated as world moves on climate treaty" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - The first global multilateral talks since the September 11 attacks ended in success on the weekend with most of the world declaring it would push ahead with a major anti-pollution pact, but the United States will not be joining the party." (Reuters)

"Warming Pact a Win for European Leaders; Negotiators Rally Global Community but Say Impact May Be Modest Without U.S. Role" - "The global warming treaty concluded early yesterday in Morocco by 160 countries marked an important victory for European and environmental leaders in rallying the international community behind a document that was rejected earlier this year by President Bush." (Washington Post)

"FACTBOX - What was agreed in Marrakesh?" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Environment and energy ministers from around the world agreed on the weekend on the rules governing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change." (Reuters)

New Zealand's not entirely a branch office for Greenpeace: "Kyoto Protocol - At What Cost?" - "The New Zealand Government has embarked on a consultation process that will inform Cabinet decisions leading to ratification of the Kyoto Protocol next year.

Federated Farmers encourages all farmers to attend the nearest public meeting or forum and make it clear you do not accept the potentially negative impacts on the farming community from ratifying the Protocol." (Press Release)

II: "Govts Gung Ho Approach on Kyoto Carries Huge Risks" - "ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Ken Shirley urges a more precautionary approach by New Zealand at the Moroccan meeting of the Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

"The gung ho approach of the Labour Government on this issue is totally inappropriate when the Protocol is surrounded in uncertainty with huge risks of economic damage to New Zealand. A recent report by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research showed a negative impact on New Zealand's commercial forestry industry and yet, up to that point, the Government had been claiming that forestry would be the big winner under the Kyoto Protocol." (Press Release)

"New hope of giving sight to the blind" - "LIGHT-SENSITIVE receptors that make up the eye’s retina have been grown from cells taken from the iris, raising the prospect of restoring sight to many blind people. Scientists in Japan have successfully coaxed the iris cells of rats, which do not normally detect light, to form specialised photo-receptors known as rods, which are essential to sight. Although the research is at an early stage, the results have been promising enough to suggest that a similar technique may work in human beings." (The Times)

November 10-11, 2001

"Changing Environmental Awareness: Societal Concerns and Scientific Responses" - "Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 22nd Annual Meeting, Baltimore Convention Center, 11 - 15 November 2001
Baltimore, Maryland, USA" (SETAC)

Some of these sessions look like fun - wish I could attend:

Tuesday Theme Speaker - Christine Todd Whitman - "Christine Todd Whitman, United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, will speak on Tuesday at the SETAC 22nd Annual Meeting in Baltimore."

Wednesday Theme Speaker - Pete Myers - Opportunities and Challenges Arising from Endocrine Disruption. - "Along with co-authors Dr. Theo Colborn and Dianne Dumanoski, he wrote "Our Stolen Future," a book that explores the scientific basis of concern for how contamination threatens fetal development, with possible wide-ranging impacts on human potential."

See: "EPA Program Based on False Information" - "A scientific study that spawned a federal law requiring the testing of chemicals for their potential to interfere with hormonal processes has been found to be the product of scientific misconduct." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com) and; Our Swollen Future for more on why this has such entertainment potential.

"Pollutants affect babies' brains" - "Exposure to environmental pollutants in a mother's blood and breast milk can hinder the development of a baby's brain before and after birth, research shows. However, scientists believe the harm can be partly offset by ensuring that young children are given a stimulating home environment." (BBC Online) | Environmental exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and quality of the home environment: effects on psychodevelopment in early childhood (The Lancet)

Long-winded way of demonstrating that children from lower-income families (more likely to live in industrial areas and more likely to have exposure to industrial compounds) also appear to have less stimulating environments, which leads to slower development (effect within "stimulating" households is insignificant). Whether the compounds are themselves related or are merely markers of socio-economic status remains unexplained (and apparently unconsidered - but then, this is an attack on industry so science and reality probably have no relevance).

More EU chemophobia: "Toxins in oily fish break safety limits" - "More than a third of Britons are eating "healthy" oily fish that contain levels of cancer-causing chemicals that break new safety limits. The European Commission will set new safety limits this Thursday on the amounts of toxic PCB and dioxins in foods which are five times lower than existing British levels." (Independent)

Unfortunately, the EU pretends not to notice that these compounds are "cancer-causing" only in rodents at truly extraordinary doses - there is no indication that environmental exposure has any effect on humans whatsoever.

"The Global Harm of Swedish Precaution" - "POLICY FORUM, Friday, November 16, 2001, 12:00 p.m. -- In 1969, Sweden adopted the first "precautionary principle" legislation in the world. From that first step, Sweden has led the world with legislation that has made it harder to bring new technologies to the market and banned existing "safe" technologies. Robert Nilsson, professor of toxicology at the University of Stockholm, was initially a supporter of those policies but now believes that they are denying science its proper role in risk assessment and depriving consumers of useful technologies." (Cato Institute)

"Green Beams; Zapping anthrax is no problem for SureBeam, but getting rid of human pests is proving a lot tougher" - "For San Diego's SureBeam Corp., you can't buy publicity like the anthrax hysteria. Thanks to the sicko(s) responsible for mailing anthrax-laced letters, the Post Office awarded the smallish company a $26 million order in late October for eight of its electron-beam irradiation systems to go after anthrax spores and other biological threats.

But not everyone is celebrating SureBeam's windfall. Behind the headlines, the company is waging a fierce battle with Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, the self-appointed watchdog outfit that has been campaigning for several years against SureBeam's primary business of making machines that zap Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and other food-borne bugs." (Seth Lubove, Forbes Magazine)

"Alarm at plans to zap fruit imports" - "A new move to import irradiated food has consumer and environmental groups worried. An Australian firm dealing in tropical fruits wants to use electron beams and x-rays, instead of chemical fumigants, to get rid of pests. A ban on the controversial treatment was lifted two years ago, but this is the first time someone has tried to import produce exposed to a radiation dose. With some consumers already anxious about genetic modification, the application could tap into public unease about food." (New Zealand Herald)

"Busy Bee Brockovich Looking to Sting Again" - "On Wednesday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a massive punitive damage award in Baker v. Exxon, a case in which a district court jury had punished Exxon for its role in the 1989 oil spill in Prince William Sound.

But in the same week that the Ninth Circuit restored some sanity to our legal system, predatory trial lawyers were gearing up to further exploit American tort laws and inflict still more punishment on Exxon." (Nick Schulz, Tech Central Station)

"Alabama Retains Disclaimer on Evolution" - "MONTGOMERY, Ala., Nov. 9 — Alabama is maintaining its distinction as the only state where biology textbooks include a sticker warning students that evolution is a "controversial theory" that they should question. The State Board of Education voted without dissent on Thursday to place the disclaimer on the front of 40,000 new biology textbooks to be used in public schools." (AP)

"Terrorists At Gun Shows?" - "Citing the threat of terrorism, a pair of gun-control organizations is asking Arizona Governor Jane Hull (R) and the governors of 36 other states to push legislation that would require background checks on firearms sold privately at gun shows, according to The Arizona Republic.

In "The Facts About Gun Shows," Associate Policy Analyst David B. Kopel demonstrates that there is no "gun show loophole." "Despite what some media commentators have claimed," he writes, "existing gun laws apply just as much to gun shows as they do to any other place where guns are sold." Attempts to shut down gun shows are simply further attacks on the First and Second Amendments." (Cato Institute)

Gasp! "Environment a Non-Issue at World Trade Talks" - "DOHA, Qatar, November 10, 2001 - The World Trade Organization's 4th Ministerial Conference approved today by consensus the text of the agreement for China's entry into the organization. China will become legally a member 30 days after the World Trade Organization (WTO) receives notification of the ratification of the agreement by China's Parliament.

The 142 member governments of the WTO are meeting at the Qatar International Exhibition Centre. It is the first WTO ministerial conference since anti-globalization protesters, concerned that environmental and labor protections may be lost as international trade expands, shut down the WTO meeting in Seattle in 1999." (ENS)

"Listen to Inventors, Not Activists" - "ACTIVISTS at this weeks' World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial in Qatar are demanding that governments weaken protection of patents on "essential" medicines. Although their proposals no doubt spring from a desire to do good, the unintended consequences could be very harmful and would far outweigh any benefits." (Business Day (Johannesburg))

Oh... Paul's upset! "Lomborg's treatise "as thick as a brick and almost as intelligent" - "Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish statistician whose latest book dares to suggest there is little wrong with the world's ecological balance, has inspired open contempt from one of the eminent biologists he chose to ridicule as a doomster.

Lomborg has produced "a book as thick as a brick and almost as intelligent," begins Paul Ehrlich, professor of population studies at Stanford University, in his review of The Skeptical Environmentalist (TSE), published tomorrow." (BioMedNet News)

Paul "Population Bomb" (and other bombs incidentally) Ehrlich has never been right yet so there could be a lot in Lomborg's treatise - must get me a copy of that.

"EPA Said to Admit Pollution Rule Unlikely in 2001" - "WASHINGTON - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged it will likely miss its self-imposed deadline for issuing stricter power plant air pollution standards by year-end, environmental sources said on Friday.

The Bush administration's proposal is awaited by the head of the Senate Environment Committee, who has pledged to push ahead with legislation requiring drastic cuts of at least 75% in four pollutants spewed by US utilities." (Reuters)

"Seeing Red Over Green; Being nice to environmentalists can backfire" - "William Clay Ford Jr. thinks he can run a car company that produces gas-guzzling sport utes and still be a committed environmentalist. "My environmental ethic really isn't something that's an add-on or is extraneous to our company," says Ford.

If he really thinks it's that easy being green he ought to meet James Hurst, 54, a Eureka, Mont. lumber mill owner. Hurst has driven a Ford all his life. His father drove Fords. So did his grandfather, who owned a Model T. Hurst now doubts he'll buy a Ford again and is so hopping mad he even considered dropping a Ford pickup from a logging helicopter. He was talked out of it, for the time being at least.

The source of Hurst's ire: Bill Ford's environmental bent. Hurst, along with thousands of angry Western pickup truck owners--from cattlemen to farmers and loggers--are refusing to buy Ford products because of a $5 million contribution that the Ford Motor Co. Fund gave to the National Audubon Society in February." (Monte Burke and Robyn Meredith, Forbes Magazine)

"Beavers dislodged" - "Algonquin Park used to be teeming with the aquatic rodents. But the population has plunged, prompting a controversy among environmentalists and timber companies. This time, the beaver would probably side with the loggers." (Martin Mittlestaedt, Globe and Mail)

Poor Martin, all the wacky green ideology rammed downed his throat leaves a little to be desired. Turns out (big revelation to the real world) that total preservation of old growth forest isn't all that conducive to biodiversity - not wildlife friendly at all actually.

Want to try a little biodiversity quiz? Click here to go to Professor Philip Stott's AntiEcohype site.

"Ozone hole 'heading for Europe'" - "A small "hole" in the ozone layer is opening up over the North Atlantic and heading for Europe, say climate researchers. They predict that it will move over Greenland to southern Scandinavia in the next few days.

The mini-hole over Europe seems to be appearing because of unusual air currents in the atmosphere. The ozone loss is not thought to be linked to the breakdown of ozone by chemicals." (BBC Online)

Gee! It's nachural? Nah...

"After agreement on the details, Kyoto climate pact set to prompt big changes" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco From insulation hidden behind walls at home to highly visible power plants outdoors, the first international treaty to fight global warming is poised to change landscapes, and lives, around the world except in the United States." | Key Points in the Kyoto Agreement (AP)

Well, perhaps not just the US. Australia's Right-of-centre Coalition Government (Liberal Party - equating roughly to America's Republicans or the UK's Tories - in coalition with the National Party - sort of rural Republicans) has been comfortably returned - meaning there'll be no Kyoto ratification without the US.

The Australian Labor Party (The Opposition - loosely equating to US Democrats but not to be confused with the Australian Democrats, a clinging-to-the-left-edge-of-a-flat-Earth fringe only slightly less flaky than the Greens - who are like Greens everywhere) had promised to ratify the silly thing forthwith - they also suffered significant leakage of primary votes both to the government and the Greens - suggesting that they can't buy the fringe votes with ridiculous and ill-considered positions on absurd 'fight-the-phantom' treaties. Doubtless, their union membership-based heartland constituency will not tolerate similar forays in the future and so neither Australia's Left- or Right-of-centre political mainstream will toy with Kyoto unless it's completely renegotiated into a truly global commitment that can accommodate the US and developing nations. This means that only one more industrialised nation need come to its senses (virtually any will do) and decline to ratify then Kyoto can never enter into force - good riddance!

In the round just passed, Canada (typically) metaphorically stood around with its hands in its pockets, scuffing its toes in the dirt and saying "I dunno. Whatever you guys decide'll do us, I guess." Russia went for the imaginary dollars to be gained from hot air sales, pressing for maximum "carbon credits" following the collapse of its industrial base and economy, while Japan, poor Japan, backed the wrong Australian position and got stuck holding a treating it neither supports nor can afford. All this for a protocol that has zero prospect of addressing "global warming" even if "enhanced greenhouse" should eventually prove to be some sort of problem, however slight. What a stupid game this is.

"Deal Reached to Curb Global Warming" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco - Negotiators reached an agreement early Saturday on rules governing a treaty on climate change, the first international accord to curb global warming, a spokesman for the European delegation said.

The agreement, accepted in a closed-door meeting of chief delegates, still needed approval by the full plenary of the climate conference and was expected as a matter of course." (AP) | Deal Struck on Fine Print of Kyoto Climate Accord (Reuters)

"British deal rescues climate change treaty" - "A LAST-MINUTE agreement brokered by British politicians put the international climate-change talks back on track in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh yesterday." (Sunday Times)

And they admit to this?

"Bills planned to ratify Kyoto pact" - "The government plans to submit several bills to next year's ordinary session of the Diet to lay the groundwork for Japan's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by the end of 2002 following the completion of a rule book for the pact, government sources said Saturday." (Japan Times)

"Supercomputer expected to speed up atmospheric research" - "BOULDER, Colo. - Scientists expect a powerful new supercomputer to speed up their research on regional and global climate change, droughts and fires. The National Center for Atmospheric Research and its parent organization, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, announced late Thursday they were acquiring the IBM SP supercomputer, known as Blue Sky." (UCAR/NCAR)

Terrific, now we can produce nonsense in half the time (or maybe twice as much nonsense in the same time). The bottom line is that we still need to know what to model and how to represent it - things that remain in the realm of the great unknown at present.

"U.S. Says Climate Change Warrants Real Commitment" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco, November 8, 2001 - The Bush administration has come a long way from its position upon taking office in January that climate change might not be a serious concern. Yesterday, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky told climate negotiators meeting in Marrakech that global climate change warrants "real commitment."

In a statement delivered to the 7th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dobriansky said the administration of President George W. Bush will "continue to play a leadership role" in addressing the long term challenge of climate change both at home and abroad." (ENS)

So far, the Bush administration has done absolute wonders in the leadership department - by telling the EU they can insert their foolish economic suicide pact where the sun don't shine. Works for me.

"U.S. Reports Sharp Rise in Emissions" - "WASHINGTON - The government reported a steep increase in U.S. emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide as international negotiators were wrapping up talks to complete a global warming pact President Bush has rejected.

The unusually large 3.1 percent jump in carbon dioxide emissions in the United States in 2000 was the biggest since the mid-1990s. At fault, the Energy Information Administration said Friday, were strong economic growth, more use of fossil fuels due to colder weather and a drought that impeded hydroelectric power generation." (AP)

"October Warm in Britain?" - "According to the BBC, the `Central England Temperature' (CET) in October was an all-time high. And just in time for COP7... Even assuming the British got their computers working properly this time (something we can't take for granted), would it be so surprising if the CET  was rising?" (John L Daly, Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"UAF SCIENTISTS SHARE RESULTS OF ARCTIC RESEARCH ON GLOBAL WARMING" - "Fairbanks, Alaska – Several hundred international scientists studying environment change in the Arctic will meet Nov. 14-17 in Salt Lake City to report the results of recently completed studies that document major changes and improve scientific understanding of the Arctic as an integrated regional system.

The meetings are the first in which terrestrial, marine and atmospheric researchers sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Polar Programs will meet jointly to share data, discuss its scientific implications and coordinate future integrated efforts.

The objective of the research is to contribute fundamental documentation and understanding of the Arctic’s terrestrial, marine and atmospheric environments in support of Arctic System Science and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, leading to an enhanced predictive capability." (University of Alaska Fairbanks)

"Shucking Petroleum" - "Chemical firms have dreamed for decades of a plastic made from cheap, renewable materials that are easy on the landfill. Finally, a refinery that can pull off this feat opens this month.

Straw into gold. Water into wine. Frogs into princes. Now comes another truly miraculous conversion: Corn into plastic.

Chemical giants have spent decades dreaming of finding a simple, renewable and environmentally safe raw material to turn into plastic. For the better part of six decades plastic has been the antithesis of all that: It is made from petrochemicals drained from oil deposits that took millions of years to form and will one day run out; it requires dirty production methods; and it lasts almost forever, refusing to break down for thousands of years.

Now a solution is at hand. After more than a decade of meticulous molecular manipulation and a bet of half a billion dollars, a new plant has just begun producing a plastic polymer that is derived from mere kernels of corn. Finally--a plastic made from renewable resources, that requires 20% to 50% less energy to produce, and composts into harmless carbon dioxide and dirt." (Jonathan Fahey, Forbes Magazine)

How fickle we are. On the one hand holding global negotiations to deal with "life- and planet-threatening carbon dioxide emissions" and, on the other, lauding production of a plastic that "composts into harmless carbon dioxide and dirt."

Which is right? Technically, neither. That's not to imply that CO2 is not "harmless" - actually that's far too mild a term, it's essential - and more would be great for life on Earth. The claims of threat from this source are simply too bizarre for words.

"Hunger fighters see biotech hope for poor nations" - "CHICAGO - The way plant scientist and Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug sees it, the challenge of feeding a growing world population greatly simplifies the debate over food and biotechnology." (Reuters)

"World's Worst Diseases Face New Foe: Biotechnology" - "LONDON - Genetic engineering, often slammed by environmental and consumer groups for its role in altering staple foods, may have found a niche. It could help save the lives of millions from the world's most endemic diseases.

By using biotechnology to incorporate useful genes into an almost limitless variety of common plants, from rapeseed and tobacco to potato, tomato and banana, scientists aim to produce cheap and stable vaccines in an edible form--and beat disease.

Scourges such as cholera, tuberculosis and hepatitis, all responsible for the deaths of millions every year, including many children in developing countries, have been targeted as candidates for vaccines that can be engineered from plants." (Reuters)

"Biotech industry set to double by 2003" - "SCOTLAND’S growing biotechnology industry is on target to double in size by 2003. The latest figures from Scottish Enterprise, to be announced on Tuesday, reveal that since March 1999, 28 new biotechnology companies have been created, equivalent to a growth rate of 30% per annum." (The Scotsman)

Cartoon du jour (GuestChoice.com)

"Woolworths talks to lawyers as mayor pushes GM boycott" - "Woolworths New Zealand is taking legal advice after a West Auckland mayor called on residents to boycott GM produce. The supermarket contacted its lawyers as soon as it heard of Waitakere mayor Bob Harvey's plan to tell people not to buy GM products. Woolworths, a major employer which also runs Big Fresh, and Price Chopper supermarkets, is worried it will lose business after Mr Harvey's comments." (National Business Review)

"CWB clarifies position on GM wheat" - "Senior Canadian Wheat Board officials were doing damage control on Parliament Hill last week, assuring MPs that they are not opposed to genetically modified wheat. In fact, board chair Ken Ritter said he thinks it will happen and there will be benefits for farmers who choose to grow GM varieties." (Western Producer)

"Global GM crop area expected to [increase]" - "The global area of transgenic crops, often referred to as genetically modified or GM crops, is likely to reach 50 million hectares, or 125 million acres, at the end of 2001. Preliminary information from a global survey conducted by Dr. Clive James, chairman of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- biotech Applications (ISAAA), indicates that this is more than a 10% year-on- year growth compared with 2000." (Hoovers)

"Are Genetically Altered Foods The Answer To World Hunger" - "(Pre-Dated Material) Biotechnology is one of tomorrow's tools in our hands today. Slowing its acceptance is a luxury our hungry world cannot afford." (Earth Island Journal)

"N. Dakota Farmer Takes Case to WTO" - "DOHA, Qatar - North Dakota farmer Tom Wiley had never been outside the United States until last week. On Saturday, the 49-year-old was in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, traveling on the protest ship Rainbow Warrior to persuade trade ministers to halt production of genetically modified food." (AP)

November 9, 2001

"EPA Program Based on False Information" - "A scientific study that spawned a federal law requiring the testing of chemicals for their potential to interfere with hormonal processes has been found to be the product of scientific misconduct." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Getting better all the time" - "Developing countries are widely thought to be losing out from ever-faster technological change. Not so, argues Robert Guest: science is rapidly improving the lives of poor as well as rich people." (The Economist)

New book: "The Precautionary Principle: A Critical Appraisal of Environmental Risk Assessment" - "The "precautionary principle"—the environmental version of the admonition first, do no harm—is now enshrined in numerous international environmental agreements including treaties addressing global warming, biological diversity, and various pollutants. Some environmentalists have invoked this principle to justify policies to control, if not ban, any technology that cannot be proven to cause no harm. In this innovative book, Goklany shows that the current use of the precautionary principle to justify such policies is flawed and could be counterproductive because it ignores the possible calamities those very policies might simultaneously create or prolong.

The precautionary principle, unfortunately, does not provide any method of resolving such dilemmas, which are commonplace in the field of environmental policy. To address that problem, Goklany develops a framework consistent with the precautionary principle to resolve such dilemmas. That framework ranks potential threats to the environment on the basis of their nature, magnitude, immediacy, uncertainty, persistence, and the extent to which they can be alleviated.

Applying that framework to three contentious environmental policy issues facing humanity and the globe—DDT, bioengineered crops, and global warming—Goklany shows that some popular policy prescriptions, despite good intentions, are in fact likely to do more harm than good." (Indur M. Goklany, Cato Institute)

"Sprawl Alert" - "With anthrax in the mail, smallpox in the background and other terrifying bioterrorism attacks only anticipated, it is a good thing that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention is so concerned about the public health that it has produced a report on the dangers of . . . suburban sprawl.

Specifically, a huge set of researchers at the CDC and lobbyists at the Sierra Club and Sprawl Watch are so concerned that their study "Creating a healthy environment: The impact of the built environment on public health" was released even before the anthrax scare subsided. The authors of this timely study seem to find buildings a far greater threat to public health than bioterrorism." (Washington Times editorial)

Today's Clapp-trap: "Getting back to normal" - "Normal. It's such a nice, safe word, bringing to mind a world where every American doesn't worry about such things as airport security and routine mail delivery. In that world, people, companies and organizations go about their usual jobs. Power plants fight against anti-pollution controls, timber companies strive for more taxpayer-subsidized logging in unspoiled national forests, oil companies try to drill in wildlife refuges and some in government try to help them." (Philip E. Clapp, Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Sigh... "Groups: Stop selling arsenic-treated wood" - "TALLAHASSEE -- Two national environmental groups want Lowe's and Home Depot stores to stop selling arsenic-treated wood, saying new tests show that children increase their cancer risk by just touching the boards. Representatives for the two retail giants said Wednesday that they have no plans to stop selling arsenic-treated wood, and will await further direction from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." (St. Petersburg Times)

Another scare campaign and extortion effort from EWG (Environmental Wacky Group?)

"Treated Wood Council Response to Environmental Working Group Report" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 -- The following statement was issued by the Treated Wood Council in response to a paper that the Environmental Working Group has issued to the media for release November 8" (U.S. Newswire)

"Junk Mail" - "Your Advisor received a letter recently from someone wanting him to write to Michigan legislators opposing two bills coming up for votes. These would require that only pasteurized milk and milk products be sold to consumers. The letter points out that "homogenized milk is a highly processed food, and is as much a health hazard as are other processed foods," "pasteurization degrades the nutrient value of milk," "[tuberculosis] cannot transfer from the cow to a human by way of milk," and "many outbreaks of food poisoning were actually from pasteurized products and fraudulently associated with raw milk products."

This issue was so important to the writer, that she sent it just two days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I think a lesson in perspective is really needed here.

HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Obviously the writer of this letter does not know that milk used to be a major source of tuberculosis before pasteurization. She believes that the well documented cases of food poisoning from raw milk and soft cheeses were really from pasteurized products and a conspiracy of media and public health professionals blamed raw milk. Pasteurization is considered one of the most important public health innovations ever. Concerning milk being a processed food, of course it is. But the processing makes it safer (pasteurization), more palatable (homogenization), and more nutritious (addition of vitamin D). Do you think the cow simply sat on the carton?" (Nutrition News Focus)

"Beware killer neckties, doctors told" - "Male fashion's most annoying accessory - the common necktie - could be society's silent killer.

Men searching for an excuse not to wear a tie have finally been offered a valid reason - Capital and Coast Health is warning staff to restrain ties or ditch them altogether for fear of spreading bacteria such as antibiotic-resistant superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)." (Evening Post, NZ)

"Weather Looms Large at Climate Talks" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco - Its limited forests are dwindling, its desert is encroaching on more villages and drought is becoming more frequent. If any country knows the meaning of climate change, it's Morocco." (AP)

This is not the first version of this AP file I've seen that contains:

But the long-term concern is global warming. The Moroccan Network for the Environment and Durable Development cites studies indicating that the average temperature in Morocco will rise 41 degrees by 2100.

I had (naïvely, perhaps) thought this to be a typo that would be corrected in due course. On reflection, I believe this is simply an example of journalistic ignorance. So how did they come up with an an incredible figure like +41 degrees (scale unspecified)? Here's how I think it occurred:

  1. Morocco uses Celsius (°C) while Jamey Keaten (our intrepid AP writer) reports in Fahrenheit (°F).
  2. MNEDD cites a possible but improbable +5°C warming by 2100.
  3. Keaten looks at ambient temperature conversion chart, sees +5°C equates to +41°F.
  4. Keaten doesn't know 0°C = +32°F and fails to execute the rest of the desired conversion (41-32=9).
  5. Extreme (and highly unlikely) warming projection of +9°F becomes a ludicrous +41°F.

This would simply be amusing were it not for the fact that Joe Sixpack and Freda Aerobicsclass actually get the bulk of their information and apply pressure to politicians on the strength of garbage like this. Worse, Associated Press did not catch the error and tell Keaten to learn at least a little about the topic under discussion but actually distributed the piece!

If this is a demonstration of general knowledge about temperature and people really do accept such nonsense figures uncritically then the world's governments may actually sign up for the Kyoto Protocol out of pure ignorance. What a terrifying prospect.

"Climate treaty's 'minimal' impact" - "As the United Nations climate conference in Marrakesh draws to a close, a new analysis just published in the journal Science concludes that the impact of the re-modelled Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions will be minimal.

Under the original Protocol, governments of industrialised nations agreed that by the year 2012, their net emissions of greenhouse gases will be on average around 5% lower than they were in 1990.

But the new analysis by William Nordhaus, an economics professor at Yale University in the United States and a former presidential advisor, says the actual impact will be much lower." (BBC Online) | Global Warming Economics, William D. Nordhaus, Science, 294: 1283-1284 (PDF)

"Climate Talks Focus on Carbon Dioxide" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco - Negotiators worked Thursday to fashion rules for reporting and verifying how much carbon dioxide countries spew from their factories and soak up in their forests, key elements in a landmark agreement on global warming." (AP)

"Hard Bargaining at U.N. Climate Talks in Morocco" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Energy and environment ministers from around the world were locked in hard bargaining on Thursday, racing against a deadline set by the chairman of talks on bringing a 1997 anti-global warming treaty into force. ``The conference will finish its work on Friday. It's desirable that it should end in success, but if it is a failure it will be declared on Friday night,'' Moroccan Environment Minister Mohamed El Yazghi told a news conference." (Reuters)

"Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations Needed at Marrakech: A TCS Interview" - (Dr. Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

"Russia prevents Kyoto deal" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco, Nov 8 - Russia emerged today as the main obstacle preventing a deal to conclude the Kyoto Protocol, the historic but troubled UN accord on global warming." (AFP)

"Russia will not ratify Kyoto pact if interests ignored: report" - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 8 - A Russian lawmaker heading the ecology committee at the country's lower chamber said Moscow will not ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming if its national interests are ignored, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Wednesday.

The report from Marrakech, where U.N. climate talks aimed at adopting a rule book for the Kyoto pact are underway, quoted Vladimir Grachev as saying, ''If Russian interests have been ignored, we will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.''

The State Duma committee chairman said Russia in particular disagrees with other countries on the system to verify countries' achievements in cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

''We disagree those countries, particular developing states, which have not assumed any obligations, will take part in the verification regime. This is unfair,'' the lawmaker was quoted as saying." (Kyodo)

"NZ appeals for nations to ratify Kyoto Treaty" - "New Zealand has made an impassioned plea for nations to fulfil their international obligations by ratifying the proposed Kyoto treaty to curb global warming." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Kawaguchi hints Japan will ratify Kyoto pact without U.S." - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 8 - Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi indicated Wednesday that Tokyo will ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming without the United States if Japan reaches an agreement with other countries over mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other operational rules on the pact." (Kyodo)

"Ministers fail to reach agreement at U.N. climate talks" - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 8, Kyodo - Environment ministers meeting Thursday at the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change failed to reach agreement Thursday on the issue of adopting a rule book to enforce the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Discussions to resolve the dispute largely between Japan and the European Union on conditions to peg the landmark treaty on emissions cuts are likely to continue until the final COP7 session Friday, according to Japanese government sources." (Kyodo)

"Ex-Japanese official chosen as Kyoto panel member" - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 8 - A former Japanese trade ministry official was chosen as a member of a panel overseeing the trading of credits earned from greenhouse gas emission reductions, the Japanese delegation attending U.N. climate talks here said Wednesday." (Kyodo)

"Australian business could loose if government doesn't ratify Kyoto" - "Australian business has been warned it may be the loser, if the government doesn't ratify the Kyoto Treaty on climate change. The comment's been made by Belgium's Energy Minister Olivier Deleuze, who's currently leading E-U negotiations at the climate change summit in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh." (Radio Australia)

And they certainly will if the government does ratify. It is actually quite gratifying to note the EU views Australia such a competitor that they wish to see the country so harmed in order to compete.

"Greenpeace wants WTO members to bar new talks until US backs Kyoto" - "Greenpeace International called on WTO member countries to refuse to engage in a new round of trade liberalisation talks at least until the US ratifies the Kyoto treaty and the WTO adopts effective measures to address environmental destruction." (Ananova)

Surprise of the day: "'Flood spending must increase' - minister" - "More money must be spent on protecting England and Wales from the threat of flooding, a government minister has conceded. Responding to a critical report from the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), Environment Minister Elliot Morley said: "I accept in relation to demands for the future, further resources will have to be allocated." (BBC Online)

Congratulations BBC! You almost managed to get through this piece without the near-obligatory "climate change" reference. Couldn't quite manage but it did take 'til the 9th sentence to squeeze in a passing mention in "The report says more needs to be done to take into account factors such as climate change, and that computer modelling should be used more to pinpoint areas at risk."

Omitting such irrelevant trivia completely: Homes in flood plains 'may have to be abandoned' says The Times. Perhaps they noted that these regions are flood plains and were such long before anyone dreamt up such synthetic emergencies as "enhanced greenhouse-induced global warming."

"Mutant proteins may be key to defeat chemical warfare" - "COLLEGE STATION, November 8 - Enzymes - proteins commonly used to speed up chemical reactions - can render chemical warfare agents and insecticides harmless by breaking them apart. A group of chemists at Texas A&M University is now genetically modifying one of these enzymes, phosphotriesterase, to make it both faster and more selective. "We know that some natural enzymes have detoxifying properties, so we are trying to make them faster, better and cheaper," says Frank M. Raushel, a professor of chemistry who has been working on enzymes for the last 30 years." (Texas A&M University)

"Patent on genetically modified mouse upheld in Europe" - "MUNICH - European officials upheld Harvard University's patent on a genetically modified mouse Wednesday, throwing out a complaint by Greenpeace and other groups. Bernd Isert, head of the European Patent Office's appeals department, upheld the patent, but also said it is too broad and oversteps ethical limits. Isert said the patent should be reworded to apply only to mice." (CBC)

"FEATURE - GM crop research slow to reach hungry Third World" - "LONDON - With thousands of the world's poor dying from starvation every day and millions going to bed on an empty stomach, many desperate voices are calling on richer countries to use genetic science to wage an all-out war on famine." (Reuters)

"Focus-GM fears alive and well" - "LONDON - The debate may have cooled and slipped off newspapers' front pages, but European consumers still show little appetite for genetically modified foods three years after near panic swept them off supermarket shelves. The European Union, anxious not to cede the scientific race, has gently tried to reopen a public debate, but so far there are few signs that moves to address consumer concerns will jumpstart stalled EU approvals for GM crop growing." (Reuters)

"Scientists develop GM walnut plants" - "Walnuts grown from genetically modified plants could soon be in supermarkets. Although the nuts themselves will not be genetically altered, the roots of the walnut trees will be modified to fight infection. The hybrid plants are designed to combat a bug called Agrobacterium which causes cancerous growths in roots." (Ananova)

"INTERVIEW - China's GMO details still in the works" - "BEIJING - China is still working on the long-awaited details of its new rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO), but they should not disrupt normal trade, a senior official said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Unexploded bombs force evacuation of genetic engineering labs" - "HOUGHTON, Mich. - Two unexploded bombs were found on the campus of Michigan Technological University, and the school is offering a $2,000 reward for information on the case. Campus police discovered the bombs at about 3:30 a.m. Monday during what was supposed to have been a routine campus search near the U.J. Noblet Forestry Building and the U.S. Forest Service Engineering Laboratory. Work at the labs include genetic engineering research for the forest products industry." (AP)

November 8, 2001

Promo: "Trees are the Answer!" - "The 3rd printing of my book "Greenspirit - Trees are the Answer" has arrived. I have also produced a 28-minute broadcast quality video "Trees are the Answer" Both can be previewed and ordered from my web-site." (Patrick Moore, Greenspirit.com)

"'Noiseload' causing high blood pressure: study" - "VANCOUVER - Researchers are now saying all noises are taking a toll on people's health. Everything from loud music to leaf blowers could be having an effect on blood pressure and on children's ability to learn." (CBC)

"Exercise 'halves cancer risk'" - "Taking regular exercise is likely to slash your chances of getting bowel cancer, say scientists." (BBC Online)

"I just can't eat that stuff" - "Many people are changing diets in a belief that they have a food intolerance. But, Roger Dobson asks, is the diagnosis the real problem?" (Independent)

"Vaccine prevents day-care respiratory infections" - "NEW YORK, Nov 07 - A vaccine that protects against bacteria that are a major source of respiratory infections can help reduce the number of these infections in children in day-care centers, according to a study from Israel. Use of the vaccine also reduced the use of antibiotics among toddlers at day-care centers, the researchers report." (Reuters Health)

"Rutgers-led research team finds Hudson River is cleaning itself" - "NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – A Rutgers-led team of scientists has discovered that nature may be slowly scrubbing the lower portion of the Hudson River free of pollution in a "washing machine" of its own making. Their findings were presented today (Nov. 7) at the 113th meeting of the Geological Society of America in Boston." (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)

"EPA Puts New Restrictions on Two Key Apple Pesticides" - "U.S. apple producers are facing new restrictions on the use of two key broad-spectrum pesticides, changes the U.S. Apple Association says could add to growers' economic woes.

As part of its ongoing review of the safety of many existing agricultural chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently ordered apple producers to begin cutting back on their use of both phosmet and azinphos-methyl. The new "mitigation" guidelines aimed primarily at reducing risks posed to exposed farmworkers will be in place for four years for azinphos-methyl, and five years for phosmet, and will apply to growers of several other crops as well. At the end of the "time-limited" registration period, EPA will conduct another review and determine whether to either extend or cancel registration." (AgWeb.com)

"New recommendations to assess male fertility question previous standards" - "New recommendations from an NICHD study question current standards for determining whether a semen sample is normal or abnormal. Under the new recommendations, many men formerly considered fertile may, in fact, have difficulty fathering a child. Conversely, men who fall below the threshold of the current standards, may be capable of fathering a child." (NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development)

"Green activists blast French caviar ad campaign" - "PARIS - Green activists blasted department store Galeries Lafayette yesterday for an ad campaign showing supermodel Laetitia Casta reclining in a bowl of caviar, saying it further threatened the Caspian Sea's sturgeon stock." (Reuters)

Um... those sturgeon eggs were never going to hatch anyway fellas, so Laetitia probably didn't hurt any little fishies during the photo shoot - although how saleable the product was afterwards is a matter of some conjecture.

From the "I feel so much better now" files: "Sky survey lowers estimate of asteroid impact risk" - "Princeton, N.J. -- The odds of earth suffering a catastrophic collision with an asteroid over the next century are about one in 5,000, which is less likely than previously believed, according to research published this month.

Astronomers using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey found that the solar system contains about 700,000 asteroids big enough to destroy civilization. That figure is about one-third the size of earlier estimates, which had put the number at around two million and the odds of collision at roughly one in 1,500 over a one hundred-year period." (Princeton University)

"Economic costs focus environmental debate" - "The economic burden of environmental regulation quickly became the focus of a fractious debate today on "The Global Environment." Green activists and free-market apologists made little effort to hide their disdain for one another on a "question time" panel before students at the London School of Economics and Political Science." (BioMedNet News)

"free-market apologists"? Yeah, this looks like a balanced report, couldn't possibly involve any preconceptions...

"Climate talks move into final phase; Negotiators clear major hurdle" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco -- Bargaining late into the night, negotiators agreed that signatory nations will face mandatory consequences if they fail to meet targets set by a global warming treaty. After clearing that hurdle, the negotiators on Wednesday handed over the final phase of talks to their ministers, to complete the landmark treaty." (AP)

"Ministerial-level talks begin to adopt Kyoto rule book" - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 7 - The ministerial segment of U.N. climate talks kicked off in Marrakech on Wednesday to adopt a rule book to implement the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming by straightening out contentious points." (Kyodo)

"Environment ministers set off on UN climate treaty marathon" - "Environment ministers from around the world have set off on a three-day race to complete the United Nation's global warming treaty, the keystone of efforts to fend off damaging climate change. UN secretary-general Kofi Annan pleaded with the world community to seal an accord that has been dogged by squabbles for nearly four years and came close to death after the United States abandoned it in March." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Global Warming Talks Start to Show Results" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Government ministers from around the world were one step closer Wednesday to bringing a 1997 climate change treaty into force after their officials reached a key agreement." (Reuters)

"US stands firm on global warming" - "As environment ministers gather in Morocco to negotiate final details of the Kyoto global warming treaty, the United States has pledged not to discourage other nations from joining a treaty it still insists it will not sign." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Want to save the planet? Don't fly" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Some campaigners have insisted on going overland to Marrakesh's U.N. conference on climate change, not because they are scared of flying, but because they are worried about what aeroplanes do to the planet.

Twelve campaigners from as far away as Norway and Finland spent up to three days on trains and boats to attend two weeks of talks on a treaty that would force richer countries to cut pollution.

"I've been worried for many years that these conferences contribute more to the problem than to the solution," said Ben Matthews, an environmental scientist who travelled from Norway." (Reuters)

Matthews is right - for all the wrong reasons. UNFCCC's CoPs are a 'solution' in desperate need of a problem.

"Global Warming to Hit Key Food Crops - U.N. Agency" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Harvests of some of the world's key food crops could drop by up to 30 percent in the next 100 years due to global warming, a U.N. agency said on Wednesday. The grim prediction was made by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in a document released in Marrakesh which hosts a U.N.-sponsored climate change conference. The report said scientists have found ''evidence that rising temperatures, linked with emissions of greenhouse gases, can damage the ability of vital crops such as wheat, rice and maize.'' (Reuters)

Same old hysterics, same old misleading presentations. Statement 1: "New studies indicate that yields could fall by as much as 10 per cent for every one degree Celsius rise in areas such as the Tropics." Statement 2: "... the U.N. team of scientists that advise governments, estimate that average global temperatures in the Tropics could climb by up to three degrees Celsius by 2100." Statement 3:  "According to U.N. scientists, current climate models predict a global warming of about 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2100." Usual casual assumption: that must mean tropical yields could be expected to fall 30% and maybe global yields by 14% - 58%. True or false?

False actually. While models can come up with figures of +18°C enhanced greenhouse warming for the freeze-dried and super-cold polar air masses there is little or no change expected in the tropics because water vapour, particularly in the dimer (double molecule) formation found there but not in polar regions, already blocks the radiation window - there's next to no room for greenhouse warming in the already saturated tropical atmosphere. (Duh!) That's why their statements include estimate that average global temperatures in the Tropics could climb by up to three degrees Celsius by 2100. By summing all possible changes (including less-cold minima) they're coming up with a mean global change, intimating that it will occur everywhere - not so. Most observed warming is actually a "less colding," with negligible increase in upper bound temperatures. A region (imaginary) with a temperature range of -40°C to +10°C (mean -15°C) that changes with enhanced greenhouse to a range of -20°C to +10°C (mean -5°C) has technically warmed by +10°C, an enormous increase even by UNFCCC's IPCC standards, yet it becomes more life/crop friendly, not less. And this is how we get global temperature increase when the temperatures are not really rising, just some places are not getting down to quite the same extremes of super-cold.

H2O (the most prolific and significant greenhouse gas) is present in the atmosphere at up to 40,000ppm (parts per million) while CO2 is present at about 370ppm. We obviously have much more scope for cooling the planet by drying the atmosphere but, fortunately, no one's been stupid enough to suggest it yet. What's all the fuss over an insignificant greenhouse gas like CO2?

"What Kills People During Air Pollution Episodes?" - "Summary: The answer would seem to be a no-brainer - air pollutants, right? To some extent, that is correct, especially when pollutant concentrations are abnormally high. But under less extreme conditions typical of the vast majority of pollution episodes in most of the world's larger cities, the authors of an intriguing new study suggest something else is actually the culprit." (co2science.org)

"Cold homes contribute to thousands of UK deaths" - "LONDON, Nov 07 - As many as 30,000 Britons, most of them elderly, die unnecessarily each winter because their houses are too cold, researchers said on Wednesday.

Despite having mild winters by European standards, Britain has around 40,000 more deaths from December to March than would be expected from rates during the rest of the year. This is one of the highest winter-related increases in death rate in Europe.

Old and poorly heated houses are to blame for many of these extra deaths, according to research conducted at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation." (Reuters Health)

See also "fuel poverty" - the UK has the highest energy taxation in the developed world.

"Arctic Temperature Trends" - "Summary: We review several recent papers describing temperature trends in the Arctic, for this is the place where climate alarmists claim CO2-induced global warming should be first and most obviously evident. But is this review really necessary? Haven't the CO2 vilifiers already announced that the dreaded day is upon us? ... and that the planet has been sweltering in it for at least the past two decades? Why bother with data?" (co2science.org)

"Ecosystems Slowed 1990s Greenhouse Gas Buildup" - "BOULDER, CO — The earth's land-based ecosystems absorbed all of the carbon released by deforestation plus another 1.4 billion tons emitted by fossil fuel burning during the 1990s, but we can't rely on this convenient uptake to head off global warming in the future, according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas entering the atmosphere from human activities." (UCAR release)

"Land won’t soak up carbon indefinitely say top scientists" - "A paper to be published this week in the journal Nature provides a new global view of terrestrial carbon sources and sinks and warns that current sinks cannot be counted on to mop up carbon dioxide emissions indefinitely." (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) | Forests 'only temporary carbon absorbers' (BBC Online)

Usual Nature / Max Planck Institute coalition hyping disaster without mitigation lines prior to/during UNFCCC CoPs

"Forests (Growth Response to CO2)" - "Summary: The scientific literature continues to indicate that as the air's CO2 content continues to rise, earth's forests will likely display enhanced rates of photosynthesis and biomass production, thereby leading to greater carbon sequestration within their woody tissues and the soils in which they grow." (co2science.org)

"A Thousand-Year Record of Typhoons in Southern China" - "Summary: If, as climate alarmists are quick to claim, the past century's global warming was truly "unprecedented" within the context of the last millennium, and if warmer temperatures truly spawn more frequent and intense weather events, as they are also quick to claim, this incredible weather history from southern China should be just what they've been looking for to prove their case. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91: 453-464." (co2science.org)

"Ohio and Maine Geologists Use Lichens To Track Recent Climate Changes in New Zealand" - "Cincinnati -- There is little question that many of the Earth's great glaciers have been retreating since the Little Ice Age reached its most recent advanced position in the mid 1800s. The bigger questions remain. How fast has that change occurred, and were the dramatic changes reported in Europe similar in other parts of the world?" (University of Cincinnati)

"The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period: Were They Real?" - "Summary: Does the sun rise in the east? Climatic Change 48: 53-82." (co2science.org)

"Antarctic Sea-Ice Trends" - "Summary: They provide a nice touch of reality in a world of highly-hyped but imaginary global warming phenomena. Geophysical Research Letters 28: 1595-1598." (co2science.org)

Elevated CO2 and Plant Disease: Is There a Detrimental Connection?" - "Summary: Quite the contrary. In the study here reviewed, atmospheric CO2 enrichment completely alleviated the yield-reducing effects of fungal pathogenic attack in hydroponically-grown tomato plants. New Phytologist 149: 509-518." (co2science.org)

"Arctic winds bring taste of winter" - "A WEEK after people were basking on the beach, Arctic winds have brought a taste of winter to many parts of Britain. After the warmest October on record, the Met Office issued a severe weather warning yesterday, forecasting snow and frost." (Telegraph)

Darn, there goes another good GW scare in the making! Just get a good "Warmest [fill to suit] in [N] [Months/Years/Convenient Temporal Unit]" and you get an inconvenient Arctic breakout! Wouldn't you think it'd at least have the curtesy to wait until politicians had been terrorised into destroying the global economy? Doesn't the Earth want to be 'saved' from its burden of people? Sheesh!

"Why the big animals went down in the pleistocene-was it just the climate?" - "There wasn't anything special about the climate changes that ended the Pleistocene. They were similar to previous climate changes as recorded in deep sea cores. So what tipped the scale and caused the extinction?" (Geological Society of America)

"BP challenges Govt to sign Kyoto Protocol" - "The Federal Government has been criticised by a petrochemical multinational for not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"BP criticised for urging Fed Govt to ratify Kyoto Protocol" - "A peak business group has criticised petrochemical company, BP, for urging the Federal Government to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Govt defends refusal to ratify Kyoto Protocol despite BP's plea" - "The Federal Industry Minister, Nick Minchin, has rejected a call from a major multi-national oil company to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"How what’s in the water may tell us about the changing world climate" - "Environment Director of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Professor Ann Henderson-Sellers, has told a conference that verifying model predictions of changes to the Amazon rainforest may have significant consequences for understanding the global climate.

Professor Henderson-Sellers said that isotopic analysis of water and other elements could be the key to validating or improving numerical models used to predict the effects of climate change. Isotopes, which are structurally different forms of the same element, are analysed by ANSTO to provide important data for climate modellers.

'Global Climate Models (GCMS) are the predominant tool with which we predict the future climate. In order that people can have confidence in such predictions, GCMs require validation. Isotopes are a novel and fully independent means of evaluating GCMs,' she told the conference." (ANSTO)

  1. Shouldn't we know what we are trying to model first? We don't even know what the relative forcings are yet.
  2. They may be on to something here - I've always wondered whether it was something in the water that made people place so much faith in the bizarre output of highly speculative models.
  3. What's wrong with squandering time, effort and funds 'chasing the phantom?' See below:

"Funds for R&D declining for genetically modified crops" - "NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 5: Noted agricultural research scientist LT Evans of Australia on Monday said that while the next agricultural revolution depended on genetically modified seeds to increase agricultural output to feed the growing population in the world, developed countries and the World Bank are allowing lesser funds for research and development in agriculture. Evans was delivering the first lecture in the series of Sir John Crawford Lectures organised jointly by the Australia—India Council and the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

Evans said that in the more developed countries, the private sector has provided the substantial finance needed to develop GM crop varieties. In developing countries the funding of agricultural research and development has fallen sharply following serious cuts in foreign aid for R&D down by 57 per cent in the eight years between 1988 and 1996. Even World Bank funding for rural development fell by 47 per cent between 1986 and 1998, Evans said. According to Evans, agriculture has had to compete with other issues such as maintenance of biodiversity, the amelioration of global warming, the promotion of sustainability, non-farm rural development etc for foreign aid." (Indian Express)

"UN Population Fund's State of World Population 2001 Report" - "Human activity is altering the planet on an unprecedented scale, the report points out. More people are using more resources with more intensity—and leaving a bigger “footprint” on the earth—than ever before. To accommodate the nearly 8 billion people expected on earth by 2025 and improve their diets, the world will have to double food production and improve distribution." (United Nations Population Fund) Read the entire report: The State of World Population 2001

"New strains of rice promise better health, eyesight" - "MANILA - A modest bowl of rice is something Asia's poor and hungry will always look forward to, but scientists hope new strains of the staple food will do much more than fill empty stomachs. (Reuters)

"Congress may clear GMO sales in Brazil -paper" - "SAO PAULO, Brazil, Nov 7 - Brazil's Congressional Commission on Biotechnology will soon present a proposal for a law that could break a lengthy legal deadlock over genetically modified crop sales, a financial paper said on Wednesday. The office of Congressman Confucio Moura, the commission spokesman, said details of the bill were still being worked out but Moura expected to present it to Congress on Tuesday. Moura's office could not confirm or deny details of the bill presented in the Valor Economico financial paper." (Reuters)

"FEATURE-Labelling laws leave EU in GMO quandry" - "BRUSSELS, Nov 8 - Europe's attempts to solve a transatlantic row over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by tough food labelling rules have yet to bear fruit, leaving the 15-nation bloc vulnerable to legal challenge, officials say. With policy makers acutely aware of balancing public concerns over new varieties of gene-spliced crops with their potential benefits, the European Commission plans compulsory labels for all food products made from them. But public opinion in Europe, bruised by the mad cow and dioxin scandals, has proved sceptical to GMOs, often characterised in the press as ``Frankenstein foods.'' (Reuters)

"Let GM show us short green grass" - "For once the Government has made the right decision and has allowed genetic modification field trials to be conducted provided there are satisfactory controls. To have done otherwise would have been to surrender to the scientific Luddites and ill-informed doom-sayers who, according to a letter in this newspaper, have so terrified one woman that she agonises over buying food products in a supermarket." (Garth George, New Zealand Herald)

"The illusions of 'Frankenfood'" - "In the comparatively halcyon days before September 11, the media and many policy makers worried less about anthrax in the mail than they did about genetically modified foods on the store shelves. Needless to say, everyone's priorities have been readjusted in light of recent events. However, it would be unfortunate if we failed to take note of two developments concerning what its opponents call "Frankenfood." (Thomas Niles, Washington Times)

"UK: Wales abandons GM-free stand" - "Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones has confirmed that Wales will be abandoning its stand to remain an official GM-free zone. Speaking to the Welsh assembly in Cardiff last week, Jones explained that should the country maintain is defiance against GM crops, it will effectively be breaking community law and thus face a hefty EU fine. “The wolves are at the door,” he said: “We will end up with infraction proceedings; we will have to pay that fine. That is not something we can properly say to the people of Wales we are prepared to do.” (just-food.com)

"India May Burn GMO Cotton Fields; To Compensate Farmers" - "NEW DELHI--Indian Authorities may burn thousands of acres (hectares) of cotton fields in western Gujarat state because farmers used genetically modified seeds that didn't have government approval." (AP)

"The irony of illegal Bt cotton" - "THE ISSUE of illegal Bt cotton making headlines in the Indian media provides some valuable lessons. It shows that many of our farmers would readily employ `improved' varieties of crops when given a choice, and that biotechnology clearly offers solutions to certain agricultural problems. Ironically, it also exposes the consequences of regulatory foot-dragging that sadly spawned this proliferation of `unapproved' seeds." (C. S. Prakash, The Hindu)

"Conference on genetically modified crops" - "NEW DELHI: Amid the controversy on genetically-modified Bt cotton, the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding is set to hold a four-day conference to discuss future challenges while farmers' groups led by former minister Balram Jakhar blamed the government on Monday for not exercising enough caution on GM crops." (Times of India)

"AUSTRALIA: Insurers reluctant to cover GM industry against potential damage claims" - "The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has dampened the hopes of the biotechnology industry with the revelation that it believes “the unforeseen risks of genetically modified foods may be too high for insurers”.

The refusal to offer cover against any litigation from consumers will leave GM farmers, and biotechnology and food companies liable for potentially large claims damages themselves. Such claims could involve consumers claiming allergic reactions to GM foods, the cross-contamination of organic crops and the development of mutant weeds, resistant to conventional herbicides." (just-food.com)

"Uganda Looking At Introducing GMO Cotton To Boost Output" - "KAMPALA, Uganda -- Ugandan scientists are studying the possibility of introducing genetically modified cotton to boost output, an official at the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday." (Dow Jones)

"China Grains-Quarantine Eases, Hopes Emerge on GMO" - "SINGAPORE, Nov 6 - China has eased quarantine inspections for South American soybeans, triggering hopes that the first U.S. cargoes this season would face no major hurdles, traders said on Tuesday." (Reuters)

"New-crop US soybeans arrive in China - US industry" - "WASHINGTON - The first shipment of new-crop soybeans from the United States has arrived at a northern Chinese port and is facing no delays, a U.S. industry official said he was informed by the U.S. Agriculture Department." (Reuters)

"EU: Ten states face legal action over non-implementation of GMO Directive" - "Ten European Union member states, including the UK, can expect to receive Reasoned Opinions from the European Commission because they have failed to implement the commission’s updated Directive on the laboratory use of GMOs." (just-food.com)

"School urged to go GE-free" - "Three Wellington seventh formers are campaigning to their board of trustees for the Wellington school to become the first GE-free school in New Zealand. Onslow College students Andy Taylor, Lalita Heymans and John Jameson have gathered 531 signatures from fellow students - more than half of the 1001 students at the school. On Monday they presented a GE-free proposal and the petition to the board. The board said it wanted more information before it would agree to adopt the students' campaign." (Evening Post)

November 7, 2001

"New anthrax vaccine created" - "Scientists in India have created a new vaccine for anthrax, which they say could be less toxic and longer lasting than the one that is currently available. The alternative, which is now ready for clinical trials, has been developed by a team, from the Centre for Biotechnology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, led by Dr Rakesh Bhatnagar." (BBC Online) | Indian Drugmaker Offers New, Safer Anthrax Vaccine | Panacea Biotec offers safer anthrax vaccine (Reuters)

"Anthrax outbreak to be simulated at UK post room" - "The UK Health and Safety Executive plans to release non-harmful bacterial spores into a postal sorting office to understand how biological weapons such as anthrax can spread." (New Scientist)

"Mayo Clinic Develops One-Hour Anthrax Test" - "WASHINGTON - The Mayo Clinic said on Monday it had developed a test for anthrax that works in one hour and can be used both on people and in the environment." (Reuters)

"Oil industry spray could kill anthrax" - "A disinfectant developed to kill bugs in oil pipelines could go on the market as an anti-anthrax spray." (BBC Online)

"The Best Biodefense; Protecting drug patents can protect our long-term health" - "A few grams of anthrax sent through the U.S. mail have killed four people, infected nearly a score more, and caused thousands to take prophylactic antibiotics. However, it is the panicky response to the anthrax attacks by some of our leaders in Congress and the administration that could cause much greater harm to American health in the future." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

"Biologists Naive About Terror Threat, Expert Says" - "LONDON - A scientific adviser to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned biologists Tuesday they should become less naive to prevent the risk of their work being abused for terrorist purposes. "Our colleagues in the physics community have long understood the application of physics in weaponry," Dr. George Poste said in an interview during a pharmaceutical conference." (Reuters)

"Gun Sales Jump After September 11" - "Americans concerned about personal safety following the terror attacks of Sept. 11 are taking matters into their own hands, applying for permits to carry concealed weapons and buying guns in increasing numbers.

In "Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun," Jeffrey R. Snyder shows that crime-rates are reduced in states that adopt concealed-carry laws.

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

In "Invitation To Terror: This Plane Is A Gun-Free Zone," Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies Robert Levy explains that law-enforcement officers can't be everywhere, but an armed, trained citizenry can be. That's why pilots, flight attendants and even trained passengers should be allowed to carry arms on board aircraft if they want to, he says." (Cato Institute)

"Attacks Haven't Slowed Environmental Radicals" - "PORTLAND, Ore. — The new war on terror hasn't slowed down one group — environmental radicals who have claimed responsibility for at least five acts of sabotage over the past two months." (FoxNews.com)

"Greens vs. Poor People" - "On Halloween, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman went forward with a move that should scare the daylights out of poor folks in New Mexico and throughout the Southwest." (Nick Schulz, Tech Central Station)

"Global warming and evolution: Here's Chapter I" - "In the future, biological communities may depend critically on the relative abilities of the plants and animals to evolve in response to altered seasonal interactions, says a researcher who has characterized the first adaptive evolutionary response to global warming." (BioMedNet News) | Genes show seasonal trends (Nature) | Global warming 'altering genes' (BBC Online) | A mosquito evolving in response to climate change (AP) | Global warming changes mosquitoes' genetic "off" switch (New Scientist)

Lots of excitement on this (and coverage too, although I have no intention of linking even a moderate fraction of the items). Note that the baseline data is from 25 years ago (you remember, when we were at the height of impending ice age hysteria because the world had been in a cooling cycle since the '50s?). The media don't seem to have noticed the significance of the dates involved yet and the enhanced greenhouse industry appears in no hurry to enlighten them.

What everyone should note, of course, is that this species, on the edge of suitable habitat range, is an adaptable little survivor, adept at exploiting its habitat to the max. And that's the rub isn't it - it's not a matter of controlling climate (as if we could) but of adapting to whatever climate we happen to experience at the time.

In need of a little global warming: "Cold homes 'killing elderly'" - "Thousands of vulnerable elderly people are dying unnecessarily each year because their homes are too cold, research shows." (BBC Online)

"Chemical pollution and human sewage could be killing corals" - "BOSTON — You can forget global warming as the sole culprit. A combination of human sewage and shipyard discharge may be responsible for the development and spread of deadly black band disease in corals, researchers at the University of Illinois say." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Scallop shells hold clues to changes in Antarctic climate" - "BOSTON---Collecting pretty seashells is more than a vacation pastime for scientists from the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, whose analyses of scallop shells are filling gaps in Antarctica's temperature record for the last century. The researchers will report on their work Tuesday (Nov. 6) at a meeting of the Geological Society of America in Boston." (University of Michigan)

Absolutely everybody wants to join the silly-circus: "Climate Change, Environmental Racism: Addressing Racism and Labor in the Climate Change Negotiations" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco, Nov. 6 -- The lack of transparency and public participation in the climate negotiations will further worsen conditions for Indigenous Peoples, people of color and workers in the United States and U.S.-Mexico border. Speakers from Indigenous Environmental Network, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, CorpWatch and Redefining Progress held a briefing on Tuesday in Marrakech, bringing issues of racial justice and worker's rights to the center of the climate change negotiations." (U.S. Newswire)

"Going back on Kyoto" - "THE European Union has advocated that members carry out trade sanctions against countries that do not comply with targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, for example, the United States.

Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and a delegate at the upcoming seventh United Nations conference of parties taking place in Marrakech, Morocco, said he does not agree with this measure.

“Non-compliance is, of course, a legitimate matter to address for countries voluntarily entering an agreement, but is inappropriate for those who elect not participate to in an agreement, for example, the US,” he said when contacted through e-mail." (New Straits Times)

"Morocco's water resources threaten by cereals output" (sic) - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Water resources in Morocco are expected to shrink by up to 35 percent in the next 20 years, leading to a sharp fall in cereals output, an official said yesterday." (Reuters)

As a result of - you guessed it - "global warming" - naturally.

"Sceptics 'threaten' climate pact" - "Environmentalists at climate talks in Morocco say Australia and Japan are leading moves to renege on agreements, made just four months ago, to tackle global warming." (BBC Online)

"Hurdles Remain as U.N. Climate Talks Intensify" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Environment and energy ministers from around the world gathered Tuesday to finalize rules for a global warming treaty, but some delegates said bringing it into force would face political hurdles." (Reuters)

"Old Rivalries Threaten to Undermine Climate Talks" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco, November 6, 2001 - Climate negotiators from around the world are just past the midpoint of their two week meeting to hammer out the finer points of keeping 38 industrialized nations from emitting greenhouse gases linked to gobal warming. They are running into the same old rivalries between industrialized and developing countries, corporate and green groups that have plagued attempts to agree since the Kyoto Protocol was written in 1997." (ENS)

Recycled silly-story of the moment: "African mountains snow melting down - Greenpeace" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Africa's highest mountain might lose its all-year ice cap and snow by 2015 due to climate changes threatening to worsen an already tight water supply, the environmental group Greenpeace said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Bende prepares greenhouse gas plans" - "Norwegian Environment Minister Børge Brende intends to have a domestic trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions ready by 2005 at the latest and hopes to reveal his quota system by March of next year." (Aftenposten)

"Britain MOD blocks 4 offshore wind power projects" - "LONDON - Britain's Ministry of Defence wants to stop four offshore wind projects because of fears their whirring turbine blades could interfere with air defence radar systems, said a ministry official yesterday." (Reuters)

Gee, national security can still outweigh dreaded emission fears? Imagine that...

Even Californians want reliable electricity supplies: "Energy panel lifts air rules" - "California energy regulators have suspended environmental protections to clear the way for higher-polluting power plants that would run decades longer than planned. Acting under Gov. Gray Davis' long-standing power emergency orders, the state Energy Commission voted 3-2 Oct. 17 to lift a requirement that the quick-to-build generators cease operation within three years or convert to systems that burn much cleaner. The move, which circumvents rules passed by the Legislature last year, would allow the plants to run dirtier, "simple cycle" turbines throughout their 30-year life. Commissioners also temporarily waived a rule excluding developers of "major" polluting generators -- typically emitting 100 tons or more of pollutants a year -- from the agency's fast-track licensing process." (Sacramento Bee)

From the new Malthusians: "'Shortsighted' world lets population swell" - "The United Nations says developed countries are not paying their share of controlling world population growth. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says much more money is also needed to care for people with HIV/Aids. In the State of World Population Report 2001, UNFPA says the funding shortfall is already showing its effects. And it says the costs of delay will increase rapidly over time. The report says human numbers have doubled since 1960 to 6.1 billion people, with most of the growth in poorer countries. World population will grow by 50% to a medium projection of 9.3 billion by 2050, it says. The highest estimate is 10.9 billion people; the lowest is 7.9 billion." (BBC Online) | World Facing Disaster as Population Booms -- U.N. (Reuters)

"Molecular Farming Under Fire" - "OTTAWA -- The next wave of genetically altered plants are on the horizon, and activists are warning the hue and cry over plant molecular farming will dwarf any previous controversy over other such products.

The new outcry over plant molecular farming coincides with a public forum currently underway in Ottawa. The federal government's Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has called for the public's views on plant molecular farming --or "pharming" as it's sometimes referred to in the industry." (Wired News)

"FAO Votes for Broad Limits on Crop Patents" - "The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Conference has approved an international treaty that largely bans the patenting of non-genetically modified crops, a step aimed at protecting plant diversity as a tool for eradicating world hunger." (IPS)

"The irony of illegal Bt cotton" - "THE ISSUE of illegal Bt cotton making headlines in the Indian media provides some valuable lessons. It shows that many of our farmers would readily employ `improved' varieties of crops when given a choice, and that biotechnology clearly offers solutions to certain agricultural problems. Ironically, it also exposes the consequences of regulatory foot-dragging that sadly spawned this proliferation of `unapproved' seeds." (C. S. Prakash, The Hindu)

"The complexity of bioethics" - "Like it or not, the biological sciences of today are embedded as never before in a world of fractured social, economic, and political concerns. In this world, it becomes increasingly difficult to discuss all the relationships between the deployment of science-based technology and the many relationships and impacts that deployment might have outside of science/technology, which is usually defined (as it must be) in the confined terms of laboratory experiments." (Nature Biotechnology)

"Biotech firms must forego royalties if they aim to feed developing world - expert" - "Dr Lloyd Evans, honorary research fellow of Canberra-based Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has urged biotech companies to forego royalties on their patented GM innovations if they are to be used for breeding better crops in developing countries.

Delivering a lecture entitled "Malthusian concerns and agricultural revolutions", Evans pointed out that in recent years, publicly funded agricultural research in and for developing countries has witnessed a steady decline. This, he argues, must be turned around with public and private sector partnerships." (just-food.com)

"Philippines Set To Issue Rules On GMO Crops This Year" - "MANILA-- The Philippine government expects to issue before the end of the year a set of administrative guidelines governing the commercialization, import, use and distribution of crops and seeds containing genetically modified organisms." (Dow Jones Newswires)

"EU attempts to streamline biotech "vision" - "The face-off between European political institutions may threaten the efforts of the European Commission even to set a clear strategic vision for biotechnology and the life sciences, let alone implement it. Despite wide consultation among "stakeholders" in the life sciences, including a meeting held in Brussels at the end of September, consumer and industry representatives remain concerned that good intentions could flounder on the rocks of realpolitik either within the Commission or between the Commission and the other institutional pillars of the European Union." (Nature Biotechnology)

"Europe Biotech: plant biotechnology in our daily life" - "Plant biotechnology issues regularly dominate the media, and questions are being raised as to the benefits and dangers of research in this area. Public concern and interest mean that decisions being taken in this scientific field are very much in the spotlight. A documentary film and a video-linked conference on plant biotechnology in Europe will take place at major science museums in Brussels, London, Madrid and Munich. These will examine the facts and fiction behind the discussion on genetically modified food." (CORDIS)

November 6, 2001

"Bioterrorism expert insists information is key in anthrax fight" - "LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Ronald M. Atlas, the incoming president of the 42,000-member American Society for Microbiology, says the best protection against fear of bioterrorism isn't gas masks, it's information. "The fear of anthrax is far greater than the reality of what has happened - and that's probably just what the terrorists wanted," he said." (AP)

What a surprise that the names Masry and Brockovich crop up in what appears to be another broad-trawl tort case in the making: "Exxon Oil Spill's Cleanup Crews Share Years of Illness" - "VALDEZ, Alaska -- The toll of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is a sadly familiar one: 250,000 dead birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals--all victims of the oil tanker that ran over a reef late one April night and drained 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound.

There are others whom almost no one talks about, although unlike the birds, most of them are still alive. They are the people who scraped oil off the beaches, skimmed it off the top of the water, hosed it off rocks. Workers who stood in the brown foam 18 hours a day, who came back to their sleeping barges with oil matted in their hair, ate sandwiches speckled with oil, steered boats through a brown hydrocarbon haze that looked like the smog from hell.

After that summer, some found oil traces in their lungs, in their blood cells, in the fatty tissue of their buttocks. They got treated for headaches, nausea, chemical burns and breathing problems, and went home. But some never got well." (LA Times)

Alaskans contemplating joining their little party should first find out what the residents of Hinkley, CA, now think of these "environmental heroes."

You can find previous mentions of Masry & Co. by running the site search above and, lest that not be enough, here's a sampling from Mike Fumento's site retrieved with a single-word search: Errin' Brockovich; Erin Brockovich, Affirmed; The Truth About Erin Brockovich; The Dark Side of Erin Brockovich; 'Erin Brockovich,' Exposed; John Stossel reports: "Contaminated Story – Questions Arise from Scientific Claims in Film Erin Brockovich."; Erin Go Away!; The Real Gal; A Feel-Good Story with a Bad Taste; Toxics Suit Cites PG&E in 4 Deaths

Must be hormone week or some such:

"Editorial sets the record straight on the interpretation of the American Heart Association's new hormone replacement therapy guidelines" - "BOSTON - A groundbreaking editorial addressing the mass confusion and misinterpretation on the cardiovascular benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) written by leading cardiologists, Dr. Michael E. Mendelsohn and Dr. Richard H. Karas, appears in this month's issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The editorial raises significant questions about the interpretation of the American Heart Association's (AHA) new guidelines and the Heart Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) trial.

The editorial, "The Time Has Come to Stop Letting the HERS Tale Wag the Dogma," discusses the widespread impact of generalizations made by the media and medical press in response to the recent AHA guidelines on HRT and cardiovascular disease. Confusion and misinterpretation immediately followed publication of the AHA guidelines, partially because the short summary recommendations that HRT should not be initiated for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, did not adequately detail the limitations and scope of HERS." (New England Medical Center)

"HRT doesn't raise risk of post-heart attack stroke" - "NEW YORK, Nov 05 - Women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are no more likely to have a stroke following a heart attack than women who do not take supplemental estrogen, researchers report." (Reuters Health)

"A fish named Wayne-Wanda?" - "Hermaphrodite fish are on the rise, thanks to the birth control pill and other natural and unnatural forms of estrogen that have made their way into the water. Feminized fish were first found downstream from sewage plants in the United Kingdom. "Closer to home, we have observed intersex White Perch in various locations in the Great Lakes," explained Chris Metcalfe, professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University in Ontario." (Geological Society of America)

"Pesticides, breast cancer linked: doctor" - "OTTAWA - A doctor has told a federal government committee that there is a link between pesticides and breast cancer. Dr. Nicole Bruinsma was testifying before the House of Commons committee on the environment on behalf of the Canadian Public Health Association. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998." (CBC)

"Florida citizens raise concerns about pesticide sprayings to eradicate mosquitos" - "In the Florida state capital city of Tallahassee, where mosquitoes abound and carry serious diseases, some citizens are more worried about the negative health and environmental impacts of pesticides sprayed to wipe out the insects than they are about contracting West Nile virus or encephalitis." (Environmental News Network)

"Effects Of Eating PCB-Contaminated Great Lakes Fish" - "The University at Buffalo's Toxicology Research Center will receive $1.3 million over the next five years as a participant in a new six-member children's environmental health research center. The center was formed to study the effects of eating large quantities of contaminated Great Lakes fish on Laotian and Hmong refugees." (UniSci)

"Statisticians seek clues to what causes disease clusters" - "COLLEGE STATION, November 5- Texas A&M University statisticians help medical researchers analyze epidemiological data, mapping and assessing geographic clustering of cancer and leukemia." (Texas A&M University)

Random chance usually.

"Survey highlights diet headache" - "Britons are eating record amounts of unhealthy "comfort" food, says a survey of the nation's diet. Chocolate, chips, cakes, and pastries all figure prominently in the National Food Survey 2000. However, we are also spending more on fruit - and nutrition scientists say that, on balance, our diets are the most wholesome that we have enjoyed for a century. Even so, obesity rates are spiralling upwards in the UK, because although we are not necessarily eating much more, we are exercising less." (BBC Online)

Gee, couch potatoes with a calorie intake sufficient to sustain intense manual labour end up as lard balls. Imagine that...

"Diet in adolescence linked to ovarian cancer risk" - "NEW YORK, Nov 05 - Adolescent girls who consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer, according to findings from a large US study. But the researchers found that adult women's consumption of fruits and vegetables had no relationship to their ovarian cancer risk.

The report, published in the November 1st issue of the journal Cancer, disputes the role of diet and lifestyle in a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer. Antioxidants, which are abundant in fruits and vegetables, were thought to minimize risk. These compounds may protect against many disorders, including several types of cancers, by neutralizing disease-causing free radicals in the body.

The results also contradict those from another study published recently in the same journal. In the earlier report, consumption of vegetables and fish appeared to protect against ovarian cancer, while frequent consumption of red meat and starchy foods increased a woman's risk." (Reuters Health)

"Parents Don't Believe Stimulants For ADHD Are Safe" - "The popular perception may be that parents clamor to put their children on stimulant medications such as Ritalin at the first sign of hyperactive behavior. But a new University of Florida study has found that many parents actually are quite frightened of drug therapy.

ADHD experts increasingly are recommending stimulant medications as the "gold standard" treatment for curbing inattentiveness and hyperactive or impulsive behavior.

But in focus groups organized by University of Florida psychiatrist Dr. Regina Bussing, parents and other primary caregivers rarely mentioned prescription drugs when asked to name treatments that worked for their children.

Instead, they spoke extensively about the bad reputation such medications have among their friends and relatives, and their fears that the drugs would do lasting harm to their children." (UniSci)

Just to demonstrate how 'bad' everything is: "UK waterways 'cleaner than ever'" - "Waterways in England and Wales are probably cleaner than they were before the industrial revolution, a survey has claimed. The improvement in the chemical quality of rivers and estuaries is attracting back otters, salmon and birds in their droves, according to the pollution watchdog, the Environment Agency. The news came as the Agency caught the first salmon from the River Mersey in living memory. The three foot long fish, weighing nearly 15lbs, was caught on Monday at Warrington, and was then returned to the river." (BBC Online)

"Payne & Ink" - Henry Payne's Ford Motor Company timeline. (Detroit News)

Everybody's got to get into the act: "Church calls for unity on climate change" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco--"I think God is weeping when he looks at the ecological damage that human beings have caused to the planet," said David Hallman, Coordinator of the World Council of Churches (WCC), during the ongoing climate talks in Marrakech.

Speaking to an ecumenical delegation comprising Christians and Muslims at Hotel Kenzi Farah, Hallman called for an active involvement of Christian and other faiths in eco-justice.

"What humans are doing now through carbon emissions, is to destroy what God loves. It is different from the fight against apartheid in South Africa." (Earth Times News Service)

Returning previously sequestered carbon to the atmosphere from whence it came is known to help plant life and the entire biosphere. And feeding God's creatures, assisting them to be fruitful and multiply, "destroys what God loves" how, exactly?

"Enhanced greenhouse" makes days longer now? "Global warming 'may have altered mosquito genes'" - "A mosquito that lives inside a carnivorous plant may be the first creature known to have had its genes altered by global warming. US scientists say the pitcher-plant mosquito, Wyeomyia smithii, uses day length - known as the photoperiod - to programme its life cycle. They say the insect has adjusted to take its environmental cues from days that would previously have been too short and cold." (Ananova)

Uh-huh... and daylight saving makes the house paint peel and curtains fade faster from all that "extra" sunlight eh?

"SATELLITES SHED LIGHT ON A WARMER WORLD" - "While winter may be approaching, researchers using data from satellites and weather stations around the world have found the air temperature near the Earth's surface has warmed on average by 1 degree F (0.6 degree C) globally over the last century, and they cite human influence as at least a partial cause.

"Warming around the world has been widespread, but it is not present everywhere," Hansen said. Warming in the past 50 years has been rapid in Alaska and Siberia, but Greenland has become cooler. The lower 48 United States have become warmer recently, but only enough to make the temperature comparable to what it was in the 1930s.

Hansen and Imhoff are making a special effort to minimize any distortion of the record caused by urban heat-island effects as they research global warming. It is recognized that recorded temperatures at many weather stations are warmer than they should be because of human developments around the station. Hansen and Imhoff used satellite images of nighttime lights to identify stations where urbanization was most likely to contaminate the weather records." (NASA/GSFC)

Isn't it remarkable how we keep returning to general agreement that Earth's mean temperature has continued to recover, albeit only slightly, from the LIA (Little Ice Age).

Over roughly the same period, global atmospheric CO2 has increased from about 280ppm (parts per million) to about 370ppm. When all greenhouse gas emissions are converted to CO2 equivalent values, Earth's atmosphere has already absorbed at least half the increase involved in the UN's much-hyped doubling of atmospheric CO2 (possible, although doubtful, in perhaps another century).

So how come the planet was cooling from the 1950s through the '70s when atmospheric CO2 was most certainly increasing? Why don't we see some significant fraction of the touted +6°C rise in global temperature? (+6°C is the absurd figure being used to stampede governments and panic voters.) We're half way through the possible increase and we've seen nothing outside the range of previously experienced normal variability in planetary temperatures.

Is the world wrong - or are the models?

I like this! "Whale numbers elicit joy, perplexity" - "Pacific gray whales are washing up on shore in unusually low numbers — a sharp turnaround from the past two years, when the beach-carcass count was unusually high.

And marine biologists aren't sure why.

Some whales appeared to have a hard time finding enough food and reproducing in the late '90s, perhaps due to climate changes. This year, whales are reproducing at rates far below the decade-long averages, but there have been far fewer sightings of skinny whales and the numbers of dead stranded whales has plummeted." (Seattle times)

This is a good one! Whales may be starving because: a) it was too warm in the Bering Strait and the food chain suffered [a shift in plankton species, from one that often sank and fed the bottom-dwelling amphipods to a species that floated and eluded the amphipods on which the whales feed] or; b) it was too cold and the Bering Strait ice season too long, thus denying whales access to feeding grounds. Interesting simultaneous events.

"New evidence for sea-level rise along the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia" - "Global warming impacts various conditions on our Earth, one result being changes in sea level. Scientists have recently discovered that the sea level along the coast of Maine has risen 30-50 cm since 1750 A.D. and along the coast of Nova Scotia as much as 60 cm. They were able to go back in time, so to speak, by studying the evidence of change by using high-resolution sea-level records based on foraminiferal and chronological analyses of salt marsh peat sequences." (Geological Society of America)

"What Drives the Costs of Flood Disasters?" - "BOULDER -- Politics, more than climate, influences the federal costs of flood disasters, according to a new study. States are far more likely to receive federal funds through a presidential disaster declaration in years when the president is running for reelection, say researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Cooperative Institute for Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The team identified a 46% increase in disaster declarations during presidential reelection years, independent of the amount of precipitation or flood damage and whether the president is Republican or Democrat." (NCAR)

"Minister delivers climate change warning" - "Environment minister Rhona Brankin has warned Scotland's coastline is being threatened by the weather through the process of climate change. Her warning came as Scotland's biggest coastal protection scheme was completed in Fife." (BBC Online)

New items posted on John L Daly's site: Still Waiting For Greenhouse.

The Week That Was November 3, 2001 brought to you by SEPP

"Marrakech climate change conference enters decisive week" - "MARRAKECH-Delegates from over 170 nations will be settling down to business this week in this picturesque Moroccan city. Their task is to add meat to the skeleton that is the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty adopted in December 1997 to combat the threat of global warming. As has become increasingly clear over the last four years, the pledges made at Kyoto to reduce manmade emissions of greenhouse gases were just that - statements of intent." (Bonner R. Cohen, Earth Times News Service)

The Post fails to recognise that George Walker Bush is showing leadership in bringing the world back to a rational position on so-called enhanced greenhouse: "Needed: Leadership on Warming" - "In Marrakesh this week, representatives of more than 160 nations are meeting to push the Kyoto Protocol on global warming a step closer to ratification. As delegates hammer out the mechanics for implementing the protocol, the United States is once again on the sidelines, as it has been since President Bush announced his decision in March to abandon the Kyoto process." (Washington Post editorial)

"Critics of Kyoto Talks Say Air Now a Commodity" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Can we really trade the air we breathe?

Critics of U.N.-organized climate change talks rhetorically asked the question at a news conference Monday to charge that experts meeting in Marrakesh were far removed from real issues that affect the lives of ordinary people throughout the world." (Reuters)

"European ministers gear up for climate talks" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco--As the strength of the Bonn accord risks being seriously undermined by the current negotiations, European Environment Ministers will meet Tuesday for urgent talks in Marrakech. Ministers are due to meet formally on Wednesday for "high level" negotiations to give a nod to the Kyoto Protocol, whose ratification has proved a delicate task." (Earth Times News Service)

"Green groups plan fresh Esso garage protests in UK" - "LONDON, Nov 5 - Green activists said on Monday they will descend on hundreds of Esso garages across Britain and Ireland on December 1 to urge motorists to boycott the oil giant because of its stance on global warming." (Reuters)

"Japan 'to back climate treaty'" - "Reports from Japan say Tokyo has decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on tackling climate change." (BBC Online)

Great graphic and caption with this one - "Unseasonal snow in Japan: Tokyo thinks the treaty makes sense" Unseasonal snow? Sounds like global warming to me (and if you believe that I'll tell you another).

"Kawaguchi vows best efforts to reach final accord at COP7" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 - Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi told the United States on Monday that Japan will do its best to reach a final agreement at an ongoing U.N. global warming conference in Morocco." (Kyodo)

"Australia called on to follow Japan's Kyoto decision" - "Environmentalists have called on Australia to follow Japan and move to ratify the Kyoto protocol on global warming. Government sources say Japan will ratify the UN protocol even if the world's biggest greenhouse gas producer, the United States, remains opposed. It would become the first big industrialised nation to ratify the Protocol." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Penalty problem strikes climate talks" - "The global climate talks in Morocco have hit turbulence over the penalties for countries that fail to meet their Kyoto Protocol target of greenhouse gas cuts. Australia, Japan and Russia appear to be reversing their acceptance that the penalties should be legally binding." (New Scientist)

"Government must address Kyoto threat" - "With the world staring down the barrel of a recession the government has to pull back its timetable for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol Carter Holt Harvey’s Chief Operating Officer Jay Goodenbour said today.

“The Climate Change treaty is one of the most complicated and far reaching treaties ever negotiated. Its economic consequences are highly unpredictable. Most developed economies are already reeling from the effects of September 11 and a slowing US economy.

“Several recent independent assessments indicate that Kyoto will hurt our ability to export, will increase costs and cost jobs. The Government’s planners admit they will have to intervene in the market by using subsidies and other protective mechanisms to protect the New Zealand economy from the international inequities caused by those countries not part of the Kyoto Protocol." (Media release)

"U.S. urges international coalition against hunger" - "ROME - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman called on Monday for the international community to work together to eradicate hunger and said biotechnology could help." (Reuters)

"Green MPs consider breaking law" - "Green Party MPs may join other anti-genetic modification protesters in lawbreaking activities and were meeting today to discuss just how far they should go." (Evening Post)

"Complaint laid against GM activists" - "ACT MP Gerry Eckhoff today laid a complaint with police against four people he says have indicated they will "undertake criminal activities" over genetically modified technology." (NZPA)

"FEATURE-Brazil drags heels on green light for GM soybeans" - "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Nov 6 - Consumers may soon have serious cause for concern if agricultural powerhouse Brazil allows sales of genetically modified (GM) crops. Supplies of staple foods such as soybeans might never be the same again.

Brazil, a leading world producer of soybeans, coffee, sugar, beef, corn and orange juice, is one of the world's last bastions blocking the advance of GM crops despite fierce lobbying from powerful multinationals such as U.S.-based Monsanto.

Brazil's soybean fields are already riddled with unknown amounts of beans -- estimated by some analysts at up to 60 percent in the key southern crop areas -- which are grown from modified seeds smuggled in from neighbouring Argentina.

But if Brazil were to permit the widespread cultivation and sale of genetically modified soy, which might still take many months due to the country's labyrinthine legal system, the global balance between modified and unmodified beans might change forever." (Reuters)

"FEATURE-Money matters to U.S. farmers as they embrace GMOs" - "CHICAGO, Nov 6 - Fifth-generation farmer Kevin Swanson's love for genetically modified soybeans has fully blossomed since his tentative embrace of the technology in 1997. He planted only Roundup Ready soybeans this year on several thousand acres of his sprawling Nebraska farm, having just dipped his toe in one year after its 1996 commercial debut." (Reuters)

November 4-5, 2001

"Don't Blame Sodas for Kids' Obesity" - A letter from the Junkman in today's Los Angeles Times.

"Food allergies 'are often just a trendy excuse for gaining weight'" - "BRITAIN'S growing obsession with food allergies is faddish and largely unfounded, according to a report to be published this week. Around one in five Britons believe they suffer from allergies and intolerance to foods that are often wheat and dairy-based. However, research by the British Nutrition Foundation claims that less than one per cent of adults have a potentially life-threatening food allergy and less than two per cent are affected by a milder food intolerance." (Telegraph)

"Whose leg is she pulling?" - "Close your eyes, place the palm of your left hand over the third eye in the centre of your forehead, and empty your mind. Next, put your right hand into your pocket and take out your wallet. Keeping your eyes tightly closed, extract all the notes and place them in this envelope. Now you are on the road to recovery." (Sunday Times)

"Acne may protect against disease" - "The bacteria that cause acne may protect sufferers from other infections and cancer in later life. Scientists believe that the presence of the bugs, known as propionibacteria (P. acnes), may help to crank up the immune system so that is more effective at tackling subsequent infections." (BBC Online)

"Surprises in survey of exercise and the pill" - "Young women who exercise and take the contraceptive pill may have an increased risk of getting osteoporosis, says a visiting US calcium expert. Professor Connie Weaver, head of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in Indiana, says a two-year study on bone density in young women produced alarming results. The study of 180 women between the ages of 18 and 30 originally aimed to test the effects of exercise on young women's bone density. "We thought, if anything, that young healthy women who were exercising would increase bone mass," said Professor Weaver. "We were in for some big shocks." (New Zealand Herald)

"Breast 'most common cancer'" - "Breast cancer has overtaken lung cancer to become the most common form of the disease in the UK, statistics show." (BBC Online) | Breast cancer toll tops smoking deaths (The Times)

"Breast drug doubts for healthy women" - "A drug given to healthy women to prevent breast cancer may have side-effects which outweigh any potential benefits, say experts. Tamoxifen has been hailed as a "wonder-drug" in the treatment of women who already have the disease, and is undoubtedly responsible for a part of the steep drop in death rates over recent years in the UK. When compared to the risks represented by a recurrence of breast cancer in women, the side-effects are far less significant." (BBC Online)

"Cancer drug fears calmed" - "BREAST cancer specialists have moved to reassure 7,000 women taking part in a trial to assess the effects of a protective drug after results from Canadian researchers indicated the treatment might cause cancerous growths elsewhere in the body. The drug, tamoxifen, has become the favoured treatment for women who already have breast cancer. The trial - part of an international programme - is aimed at finding out if it can reduce the chances of women with a high genetic risk from developing the disease." (Sunday Times)

"Tests show flyers' leg clots common condition" - "Researchers into economy-class syndrome tested the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of people - and found eight with blood clots. Three long-distance travellers who volunteered for the study were told to take blood-thinning drugs for three months after clots were found in their lungs. Another three people had clots deep in their legs, and two more had clots near the surface of their legs." (New Zealand Herald)

"Clot risk cut" - "DOCTORS say they have proved that compression socks can cut the risk of airline passengers developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Tests were carried out under simulated flight conditions on knee-length socks designed to combat potentially fatal blood clots. The findings showed they reduced the chance of changes in the blood that can trigger DVT." (Sydney Daily Telegraph)

"Ford's environmentalism is crystallized in speech" - "As some of you may know, I have been a lifelong environmentalist. When I joined Ford Motor Co. 20 years ago, I struggled to reconcile my environmental ethic with working for an industrial company. Early in my career I was even asked to stop associating with environmental groups. I continued to associate with environmental groups throughout my career. And now, as chairman of one of the world's largest corporations, I am in a unique position to be a catalyst for change." (Indianapolis Star)

Told you it was time to jettison Ford shares - told you I did!

"Animal rights protesters face trial" - "Animal rights protesters this week face their most serious hurdle in a two-year campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences and its associates. The three principal co-ordinators of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty - Greg Avery, Natasha Taylor and Heather James - have been charged by Cambridgeshire police with conspiracy to incite a public nuisance, conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and conspiracy to incite criminal damage. A trial, due to start on Wednesday at Basildon crown court, is expected to last for up to six weeks. Lawyers acting for the animal rights protesters admit there is no dispute about the factual events that have given rise to the public nuisance charges." (Financial Times)

"Government accused of U-turn on nuclear energy" - "Friends of the Earth has accused the Government of being "pro-nuclear" after a review of energy policy suggested that 15 nuclear power stations could be built in Britain to replace the current stock of ageing generators. The review of energy needs for the next 50 years, which is being done by the Cabinet Office's performance and innovation unit, will conclude that the existing 15 generators be replaced. It says that the building of new power stations will be necessary "insurance" after Britain becomes a net importer of oil and gas, according to reports." (Independent)

"Japan objects draft from climate warming panel" - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 2 - Japan on Friday expressed objection at a plenary session of the U.N. climate talks that the head of a working panel had unilaterally approved a controversial draft on a proposed rule book for enforcing a global climate warming pact." (Kyodo)

?!! "Japan coughs up, Australia splutters" - "Japan has drawn up plans to ratify the Kyoto protocol on climate control, leaving the United States and its main backer, Australia, further isolated in the debate over measures to combat global warming. Japan's pro-ratification stance dramatically improves the chances of the Kyoto protocol being adopted. It also increases Australia's exposure to international criticism by magnifying its hardline negotiating position." (Sydney Morning Herald)

"Japan Set to Ratify Kyoto Climate Pact Without U.S." - "TOKYO - In a rare and bold move that will keep the United States isolated, Tokyo is preparing to ratify the Kyoto global warming pact even without the world's biggest economy and polluter, government sources said on Sunday." (Reuters)

Actually, this is what Japan's representative is reported to have said:

"Japan will make independent decision on Kyoto pact: Tanaka" - "WAKAYAMA, Nov. 3, Kyodo - Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka on Saturday said Japan will make its own decision on how to deal with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at curbing global warming, which has become fragile since the United States withdrew from the pact earlier this year.

''Japan will keep pushing the United States (to return to the protocol's framework), but in the end, we will make an independent decision,'' Tanaka said in her first appearance at a cabinet town meeting held at a tented hall in this western Japan city." (Kyodo)

Letter du jour: "Climate control" - "I am disturbed by your publication of a climate change supplement with the Ecologist (last week). Not only is global warming seriously in doubt, but the measures to deal with it will be disastrous for the developing world. The global warming hoax is taking scarce resources away from serious and real problems, such as providing safe water and sanitation in the developing world." (Richard Tren, Africa Fighting Malaria)

A fortunate spell of benign weather and, according to the Sunday Times: "Nature thinks winter won't happen" - "METEOROLOGISTS have declared it Britain's strangest autumn. A month of high temperatures, culminating in last week's Indian summer, has thrown nature into disarray. By November Britain's trees should have thrown off their leaves, migratory birds should have winged their way to Africa and butterflies should be dying or hibernating. This year, however, those things are only just starting to happen across much of the country. Scientists believe that in some areas this year's winter may be forgotten altogether, with trees such as oaks keeping their leaves through to spring." (Sunday Times)

"Global warming 'could affect' winter birds" - "Some of Britain's best-loved visiting birds are under threat from global warming, claim conservationists. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), species that overwinter in the UK are at risk of losing their favourite feeding and breeding grounds." (BBC Online) | Water birds face death as warming sinks mudflats (Independent)

Sigh... "Acid threat to Ireland's lakes" - "NEW research indicates that Ireland's increasingly warm weather may be causing the peaty soils that dominate the country to release toxic acids that would otherwise stay locked up for centuries. This could mean rivers, streams and lakes becoming as acid as they were in the worst days of acid rain, when emissions from power stations turned rain into a long-term poison for wildlife." (Sunday Times)

"Kyoto needs early ratification" - "International talks between parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change have resumed in Marrakech, Morocco, on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, with 163 countries and nongovernmental organizations attending. The aim is to finalize the details needed to implement the protocol, which requires industrialized countries to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases. There is broad agreement among scientists that such gases trap heat into the atmosphere, with the risk of catastrophic climate changes. The European Union has undertaken to reduce its greenhouse gases by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012." (Margot Wallstroem, The Daily Yomiuri)

"FEATURE-GMO crops: here to stay or gone with the wind?" - "CHICAGO, Nov 5 - Consumer pressure will not force North and South American farmers to abandon genetically modified crops but it could blight the development of a new generation promising many medical or nutritional benefits?" (Reuters)

"Genetic law scrutiny called for" - "Opposition leader Bill English is calling for a special committee of MPs to oversee the Government's legislation on genetic modification (GM). The Government is planning laws to allow GM field trials but ban commercial release of GM products in all but limited circumstances. Mr English said it was technical area that needed close attention." (NZPA)

"UN food agency approves GM framework" - "The United Nations food agency has approved a framework for protecting the variety of the world's crops, seen as key to winning the war on hunger. The so-called International Convention on Plant Genetic Resources was originally agreed by member states of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at a meeting at its Rome headquarters in July. The convention, which aims to ensure that plant genetic resources can be preserved and made available for research and plant breeding, will come into force after it is ratified by at least 40 states." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) | FAO Approves Landmark Pact to Save Crop Variety (Reuters)

"Delay inexcusable, we can’t deny Bt to our farmers: Ajit" - "NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 2: IN the first categorical endorsement of Bt Cotton by the Government, Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh today said that the delay in its introduction—even if it is for one year—is ‘‘inexcusable’’ and burning the crop in Gujarat, as ordered by the Government two days ago, is ‘‘not the solution.’’ (Indian Express)

November 3, 2001

"Workers and Residents Are Safe, Officials Say" - "Environmental and health officials sought to assure a City Council committee yesterday that there were no indications of serious long-term health risks to workers or residents at or near ground zero, amid growing concerns to the contrary." (New York Times)

Not a recommended treatment: "Worm infestation 'beats asthma'" - "The humble hookworm may have a secret which could help scientists investigating treatments for asthma. Infestations with these parasites are commonplace in countries such as Ethiopia. The worms migrate through the body via the lungs to the gut, then attach themselves to the lining to drink blood. Researchers found that Ethiopians who showed signs of having had hookworm infestation were far less likely to report wheezing - a key symptom of asthma." (BBC Online)

"Beefing up the debate" - "George Venters is a no-nonsense public health consultant from Hamilton, Scotland, who took a break from his grandchildren's Halloween party on 31 October to tell me about his 'little obsession': the question of whether ingesting bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) causes new-variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (nvCJD) in humans. In short, is there a link between eating beef from mad cows and contracting a fatal neurological illness? Venters doesn't mince his words: 'No there isn't. From the evidence available, it appears that BSE is not a cause of nvCJD.'" (Sp!ked)

Novel defence of the day: "Energy drinks on trial" - "Was the Darwin high school student high on caffeine when he robbed a supermarket of $17,000 at knifepoint?

The 17-year-old drank up to 11 cans of energy drink the day before he drove from Darwin to Katherine on May 19 armed with a butterfly knife and carrying balaclava. His conviction for armed robbery has highlighted the possible side-effects of caffeine-laced energy drinks at a time when caffeine is being added to more products than ever before.

Psychiatric and medical evidence tendered to the court suggested that he could have been suffering from "caffeinism", a psychosis triggered by too much caffeine." (The Melbourne Age)

"Laws to outlaw drugs in animal feed" - "NEW laws will be introduced to make it illegal for farmers to use antibiotics in animal feed without permits. The regulations are part of a national strategy to combat an escalation in antibiotic-resistant bacteria being transferred from intensively reared animals to humans. The sweeping reforms are being implemented by the federal and state governments and the animal-food industry in a bid to slow the spread of the bacteria within hospitals and the wider community." (The Adelaide Advertiser)

"Europe Bans Creosote by 2003" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, November 1, 2001 - The marketing and use of creosote and all products treated with it are to be banned throughout the European Union, the bloc's executive branch, the European Commission, has revealed. Industrial applications of the wood preservative will also be reduced." (ENS)

Continuing the attack on chemicals: "Water, Lindane and Lice" - "NEEDHAM, Mass., Nov. 1 -- The National Pediculosis Association (NPA) and Los Angeles County Sanitation District's (LACSD) efforts to eliminate lindane got a huge boost from an impressive list of other organizations during the time for public comment on the EPA's Preliminary Risk Assessment for Lindane." (PRNewswire)

"Study: Dental sealants for children on Medicaid can reduce dental costs" - "CHAPEL HILL – Dental sealants -- the plastic coatings applied to children’s teeth to reduce cavities -- cut the number of fillings and extractions children from poorer North Carolina families needed by about two-thirds, a unique new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows." (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

These are the dental sealants that HAA zealots claim are such a health hazard (HAA = hormonally active agents - formerly known as endocrine disrupters except that no one can find any disruption of the human endocrine system from these pathetically weak mimics). How these zealots arrive at the conclusion that rotten teeth are better for kids than trace exposure to HAAs remains a mystery.

"Warning to be wary of environmental schemes" - "GOVERNMENT may have to rethink its policy on replacing production subsidies with environmental support payments, said Richard Crane, agricultural specialist with a leading accountancy firm, speaking at a joint Deloitte & Touche/HSBC conference on farming in 2002 and beyond.

Farmers who opt for these environmental schemes are likely to find themselves disappointed and out of pocket, he said, adding: "In the majority of cases, the costs of the scheme at least equal, if not outweigh, any revenues that are paid in terms of capital and maintenance. It is not a way for farmers to claw back on area aid schemes which are being modulated." (The Scotsman)

"Canada blasts greens for attacking Kyoto stance" - "OTTAWA - Canada, blasting green groups for criticizing its approach to a new round of global warming talks, denied environmentalists' accusations Friday that Ottawa wanted to back away from a legally binding treaty to cut the emission of greenhouse gases." (Reuters)

"PM reiterates support of Kyoto treaty" - "OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien has strongly rejected claims that fighting climate change will cripple the economy, and says he still intends to ratify the Kyoto Treaty next year. Replying to a joint letter from the Canadian Chamber of Congress and the Business Council on National Issues, which have stated major concerns about ratification, Chretien shows no sign of backing down. "The government of Canada is committed to addressing the challenge of climate change," he says in a letter to the two groups obtained by The Canadian Press." (CP)

"U.S. greenhouse gas emissions up 12% in 1999 from 1990" - "WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 - The amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the United States in 1999 totaled 6,746 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalents, some 12% more than was emitted in 1990, reflecting increases in emissions of CO2 and other types of gases, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Friday." (Kyodo)

"More hot air on global warming" - "AS NEGOTIATORS are confabbing in Marrakech to work out the details of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the Kyoto-lovers are using the September 11 attacks as a reason why President Bush should embrace global warming treaty after having walked away from it earlier this year. Bad idea." (Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle)

"U.S. defends position on global climate" - "MARRAKECH, Morocco - Despite the U.S. rejection of a global climate treaty in March, American officials contend they are not idle at negotiations over global warming. Nearly 4,000 delegates from 163 countries and nongovernment organizations are attending a two-week conference here to work out technical details of the climate treaty, signed by nearly 180 nations in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997." (AP)

4,000 partygoers and these represent just a fraction of ticket holders on the enhanced greenhouse gravy train. Isn't it time they got a real job?

?!! "Many sceptics won over by recent climate change data" - "A growing body of scientific research has bolstered the view that human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels, have contributed to a recent rise in global temperature. Moreover, many of the notable sceptics among the scientific community no longer need to be convinced." (Irish Times)

"Scientists say there is no evidence of catastrophic man-made global warming" - "VANCOUVER, Nov. 1 - The popular hypothesis that increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from increased industrial activity have caused global temperatures to rise over the past century and, if unchecked, will cause catastrophic warming is incorrect, according to a new book, Global Warming: A Guide to the Science, released today by The Fraser Institute." (PRNewswire)

"A “Hole” Lot of Alarmism Should Be a Lesson in Marrakech" - "Scary autumn tales about the Antarctic ozone “hole” have become an annual media ritual that treats the phenomenon of ozone thinning as an ominous threat to human health and the environment. Thus far, 2001 is proving to be no exception." (Ben Lieberman, Tech Central Station)

"Spain’s Kyoto obligations in danger" - "An in-depth review of Spanish energy policy has criticised the country’s inability to address its greenhouse gas emissions, which were the second most generous in the EU allocated under the burden-sharing agreement for compliance with the Kyoto Protocol." (Edie)

"Warm October may signify global changes" - "Records tumbled as both Ireland and Britain experienced the warmest October in decades, and in some cases, centuries. The usual autumn chill was forgotten in many places with October's average temperatures almost matching those of September." (Irish Times)

Now this is about climate change: "When mammoths roamed England" - "A clash of the mammoths could have taken place in what is now southern England thousands of years ago. Fossils found in Buckinghamshire and Norfolk suggest that two types of mammoth lived side-by-side in prehistoric times. Scientists believe herds of more advanced mammoths moving south from Siberia encountered primitive European ones. The newcomers were better adapted to a cold climate and eventually outbred their contemporaries." (BBC Online)

"Activists Keep Hopeful Eye on Climate Talks" - "Environmentalists say they are encouraged by progress toward finalising implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change at ongoing talks in Morocco - despite the lack of participation by the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases." (Inter Press Service)

"Four crucial countries block progress at international climate change talks" - "Russia, Australia, Canada and Japan, all crucial to the successful implementation of the Kyoto climate change agreement, are objecting to the wording of the Protocol, blocking any significant progress." (Edie)

"Japan shares 'worst input' prize at climate confab" - "MARRAKECH, Nov. 1 - A global network of nongovernmental organizations chose Japan, Australia, Russia and Canada as recipients of its ''Fossil-of-the-Day'' prize on Wednesday for providing the worst input at the ongoing U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Marrakech." (Kyodo)

"Coastline under threat from global warming" - "Areas of strategic importance or "high value" dotted along our coastline must be protected from the potentially devastating effects of global warming, according to leading Irish experts on climate change." (Irish Times)

"Pew center looks at climate change progress in the US" - "While US President Geroge W. Bush maybe has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol talks on climate change, major US firms have taken an interest in verifying their own green house gas emissions, according to a report by the Pew Center on Climate Change released earlier this week." (Earth Times News Service)

"EPA says Senate utility emissions bill too costly" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 1 - The Bush administration said on Thursday it opposes a Senate plan to drastically cut U.S. electric power plant air emissions because the proposal is too costly and could harm national security.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee met to consider a controversial bill proposed by Vermont Independent Jim Jeffords, the committee chairman who has pledged to push a hard-line emission cut starting in 2002 through the Senate.

But armed with a new Environmental Protection Agency analysis of parts of Jeffords' plan, the administration and Republican committee members raised a wall of opposition.

The EPA study said Jeffords' proposal would boost U.S. consumers' electricity rates by up to 50 percent. It could also harm national security by spurring power shortages as coal-burning utilities were forced to shutter plants that emit too much pollution." (Reuters)

"Don't fail to regulate carbon emissions" - "By acting now to regulate carbon pollution, the Florida Energy 2020 Study Commission can show foresight and initiative in confronting one of our biggest environmental challenges.

Unfortunately, its most recent draft report does not take the threat of carbon emissions into account. This is a mistake. Human-caused carbon emissions are a major contributor to global warming, the impact of which will hit Florida harder than anywhere else in the country.

The World Wildlife Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council recently have released reports that outline the global-warming threats to Florida." (Miami Herald)

Well, at least they've got The Miami Herald fooled.

"Big firms buy pollution rights ahead of Kyoto" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco, Nov 2 - Big firms are buying permits to pollute from countries that are installing clean energy, hoping to profit from an ``emissions trading'' scheme that has yet to be created, the World Bank said on Friday." (Reuters)

"Switch to gas will be costly" - "The production cost of electricity will surge by 8.6 billion baht a year if natural gas replaces coal in power generation. An official at the National Energy Policy Office said the planned switch from coal to gas would increase production costs by 59 satang a unit. The production cost of coal was 65 satang a unit while the cost for gas was 1.24 baht a unit. ``The annual production cost of gas-fired power generation will be about 8.6 billion baht higher than that of coal. This means the public will be forced to bear rising power prices,'' he said." (Bangkok Post)

"US firms said to need govt plan on global warming" - "WASHINGTON, Nov 2 - U.S. companies investing billions of dollars to reduce pollution emissions could be at a competitive disadvantage in the future if the government does not come up with a formal plan to fight global warming, environmentalists warned on Friday." (Reuters)

"Subsidiary COP7 bodies begin talks on forest industry" - "MARRAKECH, Oct. 31 - Subsidiary bodies taking part in the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change began deliberations Tuesday on unresolved issues of wood and forestry products in relation to greenhouse gas emissions." (Kyodo)

"Cautious welcome to Tesco's announcement on organic food" - "Reacting to the announcement today that Tesco supermarket intends to grow its organic food sales to £1 billion within five years Soil Association Director Patrick Holden, said: "This is a welcome recognition by Tesco that the company has to meet the demands of its customers who increasingly want to buy organic food. However, three-quarters of organic food in the UK is currently imported and it is vital that Tesco operates a British first policy, giving preference to organic food from UK sources instead of cheaper imports." (Press Release)

But Patrick, you keep trying to tell us that the organic scam isn't about money - it's for consumers. OK, by that reasoning, cheaper organic produce from overseas would be good for consumers and is to be encouraged - isn't it?

"Beating back the forces of nature" - "One of the most curious and spurious arguments mounted by those who are philosophically opposed to genetic engineering is that it is not natural. From the moment our forebears lifted their knuckles from the ground and had a look around, they thought the horizon looked pretty exciting. Since then, they have been using their hands and minds to expand the serious limitations imposed by nature." (Gordon McLauchlan, New Zealand Herald)

"Government Strangles GM With Red Tape" - "Huge compliance costs and mind-numbing bureaucracy threaten to all but kill the country's genetic modification research and development industry.

Despite the government's guarded go-ahead for GM field trials, a new tier of regulation and scientific vetting will make commercial GM projects uneconomic, if not impossible. Foresters and scientists yesterday warned the go-ahead for GM field trials - with an accompanying ban on commercial releases for a further two years - was little more than a Clayton's approval for GM." (National Business Review)

"Bacteria 'to make wood products'" - "Scientists have confirmed that cyanobacteria, one of the most ancient forms of life still living on Earth, have the genetic capability to synthesise cellulose, the polymer that gives plants their stiffness. The information could eventually lead to genetically modified bacteria being employed to make paper and other wood-derived products, reducing the need to cut down forests." (BBC Online)

"Flax growers reject GM proposal" - "Imagine the hullabaloo if the genetically modified canola that has cropped up in conventional fields in recent years was a variety designed to make plastics or pharmaceuticals. That's a scenario one GM expert is trying to prevent. University of Saskatchewan professor Alan McHughen wants research into GM crops that produce high-value industrial products shifted from canola to another oilseed. ''I'd like to encourage more people to look at flax as the host for some of these things,'' said McHughen, who has written a book about the potential and hazards of GM food." (The Western Producer)

"Position Paper on Biotechnology Urges Mandatory Labeling of GM Food and Ingredients" - "WATERLOO, ON, Nov. 1 - A report urging caution on food biotechnology will be considered for adoption at the Annual Meeting of the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) in Kitchener on November 5th." (CNW)

"Safety of Bacillus thuringiensis Proteins Used to Control Insect Pests in Agricultural Crops" - "This document reviews the safety assessment for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) delta-endotoxin proteins that have been introduced into agricultural crops to provide protection against insect pests. Information is provided on the scientific basis for U.S. EPA approvals for the introduction of Bt proteins into agricultural crops. Download the PDF document here." (AgBioWorld)

"GM Maize And Potato Types Are Developed" - "New varieties of genetically modified potato and maize which will give a higher yield and are disease-resistant have been developed. The varieties have been developed by scientists at the Kenya Agriculture and Research Institute (Kari). Agriculture Minister Bonaya Godana yesterday said the potato and maize were undergoing trials and biosafety measures at various Kari stations. Dr Godana said the two crops were among the major staple foods widely consumed in Kenya." (The Nation (Nairobi))

"Bt fiasco Highlights Systemic Failure" - "The Bt cotton issue has resurrected standard myths over genetically modified food. While concerns about safety are legitimate, myth should be separated from reality. Bt cotton is created by inserting a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium, into cotton seed. There is no evidence Monarch caterpillars were killed by Bt cotton. Brazil nut genes were never inserted into soyabean and didn’t lead to any allergy-related deaths.

In India, however, the Bt cotton issue also illustrates continuous systemic failure." (Financial Express)

"Singh throws weight behind use of GM crops" - "NEW DELHI - Amid controversy sparked by cotton grown in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Federal Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh said he favors the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops to increase productivity, but only after careful trials are held to prevent any impact on the environment or health." (Asia Times)

"India: Textile Ministry Favours Bt Cotton" - "The Textile Ministry favours acceleration of commercial production of bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton in the country in order to help the mills get the required variety and reduce imports. If the Textile Ministry has its way, then development of Bt cotton would be taken up in the mini-mission I of the Technology Mission on Cotton (TCM)." (Hindu Business Line)

"Let Bt Cotton Grow" - "As the air becomes crisp all over the great northern plains, a tiny little insect called the bollworm goes about its destructive business of chomping away at the blooming cotton bolls all across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This year, as you might know, some desperate farmers in Gujarat, decided to plant Bt Cotton, a genetically engineered cotton seed: in its genome resides a strip of DNA from a bacterium that kills the bollworm.

The results were spectacular. The bollworms died when they tried to eat the cotton and yields grew by more than 50 per cent. That's the good part. But the fields planted with Bt Cotton will be destroyed if the Union ministry of environment has its way." (The Newspaper Today)

November 2, 2001

"Flu Shot Frenzy Not Anthrax Answer " - "I suggested in last week's column that public health officials be excused for "honest" mistakes inadvertently leading to two postal worker deaths from inhalation anthrax. But their bad advice about the flu shot as an aid to the diagnosis of anthrax is another matter." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Risk, science and society" - "Public discussions of risk consistently overestimate dangers and undervalue the benefits we obtain by living in a complex society." (Professor Sir Colin Berry, Sp!ked)

"Overdosing on news can be bad for one’s mental health, scholar says" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In these uncertain times, what do authorities on uncertainty management advise? Although it sounds counterintuitive, some suggest that people should back off now and then from information seeking. In some cases, too much information can be hazardous to one’s mental health. " (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Postal terrorism" - "American investigators are finding evidence of anthrax contamination in more and more public buildings, and the number of people infected with the disease continues to mount. But senior officials are giving conflicting signals about who might be behind the anthrax attacks, and about how to handle them." (The Economist)

"So far, Americans stay coolheaded" - "WASHINGTON - Amid confusion about the nature and the extent of the terrorist attacks on America, the US public isn't panicking. Far from it, in fact. Most signs show that, as of now, the nation is meshing old routines and a new wariness with something approaching aplomb." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Antibiotics and Safeguarding the Food Supply: Statement by Coalition On Animal Health Regarding 'Keep Antibiotics Working' Press Conf." - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 -- Following is a statement from Coalition on Animal Health in response to today's press conference by "Keep Antibiotics Working" (U.S. Newswire)

"Early Infections Protect Against Later Allergy: ERJ" - "There is increasing evidence from numerous epidemiological studies to support the "hygiene hypothesis." This hypothesis proposes that infections acquired early in life result in a certain maturation of the immune system which inhibits the development of allergic diseases. Strong arguments for such an effect are the findings that relate early life day care attendance and increased number of older siblings to a significantly reduced risk of asthma in childhood and adolescence." (UniSci)

"Estrogen found in soy stimulates human breast-cancer cells in mice" - "CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The increasingly consumed isoflavone genistein – a plant estrogen linked to the health benefits of soy – has been shown in a series of University of Illinois studies to stimulate the growth of estrogen-dependent human breast-cancer cells implanted into laboratory mice.

The findings of three studies, funded by the National Institutes of Health, are detailed in the Journal of Nutrition (November), Carcinogenesis (October) and Cancer Research (July)." (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

"Telling the sheep from the cows" - "When scientists testing for BSE got sheep's brains mixed up with cows', it was a major scandal. But, Steve Connor says, maybe they were right after all." (Independent)

And maybe so-called nvCJD has nothing to do with cows and sheep or the consumption thereof.

"Doctors: 'Sunshine' Vitamin D Can Cut Diabetes Risk" - "LONDON - Making sure that babies and young children get enough vitamin D can reduce their risk of developing diabetes, scientists said on Friday. Type 1 diabetes, which starts at an early age, has been associated with a deficiency of vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin, which is also found in fortified milk and dairy products, cod liver oil and some fatty fish." (Reuters)

"Mediterranean shrimp find 'a sign of global warming'" - "A rare Mediterranean shrimp found off Britain for the first time in 87 years could be a sign of global warming, according to a marine expert. The pistol shrimp was discovered by a fisherman in Falmouth Bay, off Cornwall, and is now in a quarantine tank at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay. The bright orange creature, named after the way it produces a loud cracking noise with its claws to help stun its prey, is normally found in the Mediterranean. According to aquarium staff this is the first time it has been recorded in British waters since 1914 - and only the seventh time since 1868." (Ananova)

"Insurers see more disasters due to climate change" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Global warming will cause a massive increase in weather-related disasters such as hurricanes in coming decades, major insurance companies said yesterday." (Reuters)

"New Book Tosses Cold Water on Global Warming Alarmists" - "Editor’s Note: Dr. Sallie Baliunas, the distinguished Harvard astrophysicist and co-host of Tech Central Station, and Dr. Willie Soon are the co-authors of Global Warming: A Guide to the Science, a new book released by the Fraser Institute. The book refutes the widespread belief that increased industrial activity is causing potentially catastrophic global warming." (Sallie Baliunas, Tech Central Station)

"Voluntary Global Warming Pollution Schemes a Failure; NRDC Report Demonstrates Need for Mandatory CO2 Controls" - "WASHINGTON — Voluntary pledges by electric power companies to cut heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution have been an abject failure, according to a new report by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). The findings demonstrate the need for legally binding CO2 control measures." (Natural Resources Defense Council)

"Congress urged to limit greenhouse gases" - "WASHINGTON -- Congress is being urged to enact mandatory limits on greenhouse gases linked to global warming so regulators and companies alike can plan ahead with certainty.

Environmental officials and political leaders from states as diverse as mile-high Colorado and coal-burning West Virginia were appearing Thursday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee headed by Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., to back legislation to modernize electric power plants.

But state officials and leaders were split over Jeffords' determination to pass a "four-pollutant" bill setting government limits on industry emissions of carbon dioxide along with mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, according to prepared testimony." (AP)

"U.S. is quiet in climate talks" - "WASHINGTON -- The United States won't stand in the way of negotiations among other countries on terms and mechanisms of a global climate treaty that President Bush has disavowed, the State Department says." (AP)

"Kyoto 'not a done deal yet'" - "Difficult arguments lie ahead as the world tries to finalise details of the Kyoto agreement on climate change, UK Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett has warned. But the prize of success after a two-week conference in Morocco could be fresh action on wider issues including global poverty, Mrs Beckett predicted." (BBC Online)

"Kyoto climate talks face new hurdle" - "MARRAKESH, Morocco - Negotiators hoping to wrap up a deal to bring the Kyoto accord on global warming into effect faced a new hurdle yesterday as a handful of countries sought to delay fixing rules for punishing excessive polluters." (Reuters)

"Finding a future for GM crops" - "Some parties to debates over the safety of genetically modified crops don't want to hear the results of objective research. But that isn't an excuse for not doing it." (Nature Editorial)

"Life sciences and biotechnology – a strategic vision for the European Union" - "It is clear that the current proposed regulations on traceability and labeling face several challenges, some technical in nature, while others are political (or even biopolitical). The technical issues are numerous, but the most serious one is the task of establishing and enforcing labeling standards for GM-derived food products that do not contain residual transgenic DNA or protein. The political issues relate to the splitting of the recent regulation proposal into two reports to be dealt with within two different streams, which is likely to complicate the issues. Newspaper Rapporteur, David Bowe, an experienced EU legislator on the topic of GMOs, stated, "I am concerned that we will find ourselves with two different approaches and two different directions." (Shane Morris, Centre for Safe Food)

"Australia enters era of future plants" - "Australia must embrace 'the new biology of genomics' to maintain its edge in world agriculture, says one of Australia's most eminent plant biologists." (CSIRO)

"Scientific care can give sense a win" - "Lobbyists for farmers, scientists and research institutes have hailed the Government's decisions on genetic modification as a victory for science, progress and prosperity. Groups opposed to GM field trials are incensed. The Green Party is digging in for a return bout at the election next year, and wilder types are threatening to dig out trial crops.

Any such criminality should be met with the full force of the law, which did not appear to be the case when a crop of modified potatoes was pulled out by "Wild Greens" near Christchurch in 1999. Their spokesman, Nandor Tanczos, entered Parliament on the Green Party list later that year. He still maintains wilful destruction in these circumstances is "legitimate." (New Zealand Herald editorial)

"Protesters in two minds on sabotage of GM trials" - "Genetic modification opponents are divided over whether sabotaging field trials is the best way of protesting against them. Anger at the Government's decision to allow GM experiments to be done in the field under tight conditions has prompted some groups to threaten to vandalise research projects and pull up GM crops." (New Zealand Herald editorial)

"Indian plan to destroy GM cotton crop seen failing" - "AHMEDABAD, India - India's plans to destroy genetically modified cotton are unlikely to succeed because nearly 70 percent of the crop has already entered the market, officials said yesterday." (Reuters)

November 1, 2001

"The man who fed India and Pakistan now turns to Africa; Interview / Dr. Norman Borlaug" - "Dr. Norman Borlaug has likely saved more lives than any person alive. The native Iowan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, largely for helping India and Pakistan avert large-scale famine that threatened both nations in the 1960s. His work on high-yield agriculture, which produces smaller more nutritious grains, soon spread to Asia and much of the third world. Borlaug recently spoke to the Monitor about his career and current world hunger issues." (Christian Science Monitor)

"Bayer's Headache: U.S. Government Uses Heavy Hand For Cheap Cipro" - "Bad Bayer! Very bad Bayer!"

What terrible thing did the pharmaceutical company do? It developed an effective drug called Cipro. Therefore it left our government with no choice but to bully the company into discounting the price of the drug it sells to the feds by about half, which was already less than half of its wholesale price.

By so doing, the U.S. has become a thief. And it has opened a Pandora's box that will haunt us long after the anthrax scare has passed." (Michael Fumento, Investor's Business Daily)

"High anxiety" - "Last week, many Washingtonians began feeling slightly feverish, fairly faint and nervously nauseated. Even when their tests for anthrax exposure came back negative, they were unable to concentrate or read for any length of time. Oddly, many thought they felt much better when they put aside the morning paper.

These unfortunates may well have become victims of Headline Anxiety Disorder of Anthrax in The Washington Post, or HAD-A-WP. This temporary, treatable condition was manifested in readers who spent too much time last week looking at the above-the-fold stories in The Post." (Washington Times editorial)

Gary Brookins 'Media Coverage' (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

"Myths of the Month" - "Closing in on two months after Sept. 11, anxiety is running high and fast. The anthrax campaign has had a fairly wide effect -- not in killing people but in scaring them, and thus undermining national resolve. We in the media have to a great degree returned to our accustomed role of hand-wringing and armchair-doubting and second-, third- and fourth-guessing." (Michael Kelly, Washington Post)

"Ghost Buster; America finds a worthy worry" - "Finally, after 30 years of public phobias, America has anthrax--something worth being afraid of. Alas, what's also spreading fast is the sense that the government isn't doing a very good job of handling it. But how would they know? This country's presumably serious people have spent so many years building towering infernos of hysteria, panic, litigation and political demagogy out of this or that presumed threat to public health that it's little wonder the system barely knows how to deal with something real.

Lawn chemicals, nuclear power, food additives, fluoridated water, high-tension wires, implanted silicon, cancer clusters, agricultural pesticides, the ozone layer, allergies, microwaves, vaccines, bioengineered foods--how did a sophisticated, well-educated people manage to let itself be frightened by modern life itself?" (Wall Street Journal, October 26)

"EPA to Tighten Limit on Arsenic in Drinking Water" - "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration said Wednesday it would reinstate a Clinton-era plan to sharply restrict the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water to help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes." (Reuters)

"Profile: Toby Bradshaw - Research Continues" - "Last May, Toby Bradshaw, an associate professor at the University of Washington's botany department and College of Forest Resources, hit the headlines not for his work on trees, but as a result of a fire set by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)—an extremist group that maintained Bradshaw was damaging the forest ecosystem with genetic engineering." (AgBiotech Buzz)

Peta's at it again: "Milk makes you fat: animal rights activists" - "TORONTO - Some parents are upset over a campaign by animal rights activists to persuade children from drinking milk. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a Canada-wide anti-dairy program by handing out leaflets near schools. They tell the children that diary products are bad for their health and cows are abused. PETA members also hand out trading cards with cartoon characters called Windy Wanda, Pimply Patty and Chubby Charlie. The message on the back says dairy products cause gas, pimples and obesity." (CBC)

"New study shows effects of extended TV viewing" - "Tasmanian researchers have found extended television viewing stunts growth in teenage boys. The Menzies Centre in Hobart conducted a six week study of adolescent boys during winter 1999, and discovered a strong association between TV viewing habits and growth. The centre's Professor Graeme Jones says those who did not grow at all were not getting enough vitamin D, which comes from sunlight." (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Diabetes 'tidal wave' threatens Australia, conference told" - "Australia could be threatened by "a tidal wave of diabetes" within the next decade or two if trends towards overweight and obesity continued, the Planning Institute of Australia's national congress was told yesterday.

Australian National University epidemiologist Tony McMichael painted a grim picture of cities as breeding grounds for disease, past present and future, where new and more exotic dangers reared their heads just as medical science believed it was getting on top of the problem." (Canberra Times)

"EU Eco-Farming Not So Green After All, Says Group" - "Environmentally friendly farming practiced by the Dutch for 20 years isn't as friendly as many people had hoped, according to a new study. The research showed that, contrary to expectations, the methods have not resulted in a broader diversity of plant and animal species than is found on conventionally managed farms." (National Geographic)

"Planet Earth is doing fine, thank you" - "When it comes to the environment, we all know -- or think we know -- that Planet Earth is in deep trouble. But the untold story of the last decade has been that much, indeed most, of what we think we know just ain't so. Planet Earth is doing just fine, thank you very much." (Thomas Bray, Detroit News)

"Melt down" - "There is new evidence that the Greenland ice pack is in retreat. The finding may be a foretaste of still more rapid melting, and in turn, rising sea levels.

The ice sheet over northwest Greenland has thinned by 10-15 cm a year over the past 40 years, two scientists calculate. The trend indicates "a significant long-term thinning", says one, Niels Reeh, of the Technical University of Denmark." (Nature)

How unusual for Nature to run something like this with UNFCCC's CoP in progress - NOT! The piece actually carries an interesting spread of opinions:

"Paterson is convinced that the thinning is due to the Earth's recent temperature rise: "I'd stick my neck out and say that it's an effect of global warming." Taken with signs of shrinking sea ice over the North Pole and melting at Greenland's coast, "it's just one more thread in the story", he says.

"The general consensus is that the central part of the ice sheet is in balance," cautions climate researcher Ellen Mosley-Thompson, of Ohio State University in Columbus. "But if the thinning is real, and if it were to continue for decades to centuries, that would translate into changes in the ice sheet."

Others are less sure. "Up to today, there's been no convincing sign of Greenland growing or shrinking overall," says Philippe Huybrechts of the Free University of Brussels in Belgium. In fact, Greenland has bucked climate trends, ending the twentieth century slightly cooler than it began, he adds."

"British butterflies 'in decline'" - "Loss of habitat and climate change are having a devastating effect on British butterflies, say conservationists.

With the recent rise in temperatures across the UK, one would think the prospects for heat-seeking butterflies were good, but three-quarters of the 46 butterfly species studied have been found to be in decline. "Britain is right on the edge of the range of a lot of butterflies which are more at home in warmer parts of Europe," Richard Fox of Butterfly Conservation, in East Lulworth, Dorset, told BBC News Online. "We would expect most species of butterfly in Britain to have done well in the global warming that we have seen over the last few decades." (BBC Online) | Global warming fails to boost butterfly visitors (Telegraph)

So... butterflies don't believe that the alleged warming is real? Maybe it is only an artefact of UHIE-corruption of the data set - after all, nature wouldn't lie to us.

"Turmoil in organic fruit industry" - "Tasmania's organic fruit growers are in turmoil after discovering that a spray widely used on tree seedlings is genetically modified. Some orchardists have started pulling out trees that have been treated with the spray, and even digging out surrounding soil in the hope of protecting their organic accreditation." | Organic farmers query tree treatment (Australian Broadcasting Corp.)

"Un-Happy Halloween! Eco-Scare Tactics Are Designed to Poison Minds" - "As if America hasn’t had enough real threats of bioterrorism, a few fear-mongering pseudo-ecologists have decided to use Halloween to spread public angst about the safety of their food." (Duane D. Freese, Tech Central Station)

"Patchwork of Laws: State Legislatures Take on GM Foods" - "Should the trend for states enacting ag biotech legislation continue, it may result in a national patchwork of laws that vary state to state. Both consumer advocates and the biotech industry maintain that this piecemeal approach creates problems." (AgBiotech BUZZ)

"GM spin prompts mistaken gratitude" - "The generally favourable business reaction to the decision on genetic modification provides a fascinating example of how political spin can skew a debate." (New Zealand Herald)

"GM sites on alert for sabotage" - "Research organisations have strengthened security as protesters angered by the Government's decision on genetic modification threaten to sabotage field trials." (New Zealand Herald)

"PM tosses early election line in the cauldron" - "The possibility of an early election was raised by Prime Minister Helen Clark during a heated debate in the Labour caucus over genetic modification. The Herald understands that the normally controlled party leader raised the prospect on Tuesday as frustration grew over Maori MPs' position on genetic modification." (New Zealand Herald)

"Anti-GE Maori occupy Erma office" - "Maori protesters today unfurled anti-GE banners at the Environmental Risk Management Authority and refused to leave for more than half an hour. The central Wellington office occupation coincided with a march to Parliament by an anti-GE hikoi (march) that had passed through much of the North Island." (New Zealand Herald)

"Designer life: inside the GM labs" - "GM research can now go ahead - but what exactly is it? ANDREW LAXON reports on what our scientists are up to." (New Zealand Herald)

"Organics' spot assured by the Government" - "The Government yesterday gave an assurance it would continue to support organic farmers and said the decision on genetic engineering would not compromise New Zealand's "eco-friendly" status." (New Zealand Herald)

"Genetically Altered Crops Increasingly Popular In Africa" - "Farmers in the Makhatini Flats of South Africa were skeptical when told they wouldn't need to use chemicals to keep worms from devouring their cotton, the head of a farming group in the area said. But Themetshe Joseph Buthelezi was willing to try anything to improve the quality of life in the region - one of the poorest in the world - including trying cotton genetically engineered by St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. "I really wanted to make more money, and I wanted my people to make more money," Buthelezi said.

About 90 percent of the farmers in the region now grow the cotton, genetically engineered to produce its own pesticide, said Buthelezi, who was to tell his story Wednesday at the Corporate Council on Africa Summit here." (Corporate Council On Africa)

"Indian farmers win reprieve on banned cotton crop" - "NEW DELHI - Hundreds of farmers in western India who were ordered to destroy their genetically modified cotton crops won a reprieve yesterday when a federal committee told state authorities to buy the cotton." (Reuters)

"Genetically Modified Crops Could Solve Africa's Poor Soils" - "There is unlikely to ever be a single "magic bullet" that can solve the problem of poor soils in Africa, but there are signs that genetically modified (GM) crops could be one element in a broader solution, says Professor Jennifer Thomson of the University of Cape Town. In a submission to the national assembly's environmental affairs committee during public hearings on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) she said the logic behind this was simple." (South African Press)