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archives - november 1999

November 30, 1999

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: "60 Minutes II does Consumer Reports tonite!" - Of course, Consumerdistorts.com does Consumer Reports every day.

web site of the day: "The 3rd WTO Ministerial Conference" - Here's the official web site for the World Trade Organization conference. If can't get through, this may be due to the "electrohippies" who are trying to stage a "virtual sit-in."

'letter to the editor' of the day: "Anti-Biotechies Peddle Superstition, Fear" - A letter in The Wall Street Journal by the American Council on Science and Health's Gilbert Ross.

commentary of the day I: "What Price Workplace Safety? - New Rules Spark Debate Over Science, Business" - David Saito-Chung comments in Investor's Business Daily about OSHA's ergonomics proposal.

commentary of the day II: "Turning Science Into Gold" - Daniel Greenberg comments in The Washington Post, "Scanning the journals of research, you can get the impression that venerable values of truthfulness and openness are crumbling in the get-rich economy that swiftly turns scientific knowledge into wealth. It is a correct impression, and, despite proclamations of concern from the chieftains of science and occasional correctives, the known episodes of dubious dealing continue to increase." Hey Dan, what about U.S. Government 'secret science?'

commentary of the day III: "Silliness in Seattle" - About the protests at the World Trade organization meeting in Seattle, The Indianapolis Star-News comments, "Anything that can be blamed on capitalism will be the object of protest: industrial pollution, population growth, the migration of jobs to Third World countries, the use of pesticides in agriculture, the depletion of natural resources, and perhaps worst of all, the non-stop growth of consumer demand for all the riches that capitalism can provide."

commentary of the day IV: "Snake oil and cell phones" - Here's something that Australian columnist Stewart Fist and I can agree on -- "don't buy devices to cure theoretical problems that may or may not exist, especially when the claims appear exaggerated or unsupported."

scare of the day: "Cooking with gas 'may pose health risk'" - "Women who cook with gas hobs and cookers may have some increased risk of respiratory diseases, according to a study of elderly people," reports The Daily Telegraph.

lawsuit of the day I: "Four N.Y. Utilities Dragged Into Clean Air Litigation" - "The legal war over alleged Clean Air Act violations at coal-fired power plants-previously focused on Midwest and Southern utilities-has spread to four New York utilities, with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer saying he is targeting eight plants in his state. Spitzer's announcement Monday came as he filed suit, along with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, against American Electric Power Company for allegedly illegal modifications to 10 AEP plants in Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, charges AEP made modifications that boosted generating capacity at the plants without conducting environmental reviews required under the Clean Air Act. The reviews likely would have forced the installation of upgraded emissions controls," reports The Energy Daily. Click here for my related New York Post op-ed.

lawsuit of the day II: "Tourist sues restaurant after toilet mishap" - "A Canadian tourist who claims his penis was crushed by a faulty toilet seat in a New York restaurant has sued the restaurant owner for $2.3 million. Lawyers for Edward Skwarek say he had been sitting on the toilet in a restaurant owned by the coffee retailer Starbucks Corporation, when he turned to reach for toilet paper behind him. The lawyers say the seat shifted, causing his penis to be caught and crushed between the seat and the bowl. The suit alleges the coffee house was careless in not fixing a defective toilet seat. It also claims Mr Skwarek has suffered a crushed penis that now deviates to one side, retrograde ejaculation, infertility, severe bruising and sexual function impairment. Mr Skwarek is seeking $1.5 million in damages and his wife $765,000 because she has been deprived of his services," reports the Australian Broadcast Corp.

legal theory the day: "Loggers' Suit Alleges Ecological 'Religion' Guides Forest Policy" - The Los Angeles Times reports loggers have claimed the U.S. Forest Service violated the constitional separation of church and state by adopting as timber policy the religion of the Deep Ecology movement (i.e., trees have spiritual value.) If they succeed, maybe this will work against the anti-chemical preachers, too.

"Antibiotech Effort Bloomed Despite Little Funding and Lack of Consensus" - The Wall Street Journal reports on the genesis of the anti-biotech movement.

"Improve booze warning labels" - The Deserset News thinks alcohol warning labels are too obscure.

"Trade Meeting Delayed After 'Security Breach'" - "The World Trade Organization's effort to launch a new round of global trade talks, the largest trade event ever held in the United States, could be shaping up as one of the biggest protest events as well. WTO critics are calling it the "Battle in Seattle." Authorities were forced to delay for several hours the start of Monday's activities after an apparent attempted break-in at the convention center overnight," reports The New York Times.

"Children's diet healthier in 1950 than today " - "Young children in the early 1950s had healthier diets than those of the 1990s despite austerity and food rationing, according to a study published today," reports The Guardian.

"Frankenfoods or lifesavers?" - Dennis Rice writes, "While almost every new technology brings with it debate over its benefits, the recent introduction of genetically modified, or GM, foods into the marketplace has generated a controversy which seems to intensify almost daily. In Europe, for instance, there is now a moratorium on approval of new GM seeds, and major supermarkets and food retailers there are either clearly labelling or refusing to carry GM food products. Closer to home, some estimate that GM products can be found in 60 per cent of the food on Canadian grocery shelves, a statistic that seriously alarms the North American green movement. Consequently, it is now working to bring the European perspective to our shores, led by cultural heavyweights like Canada's pre-eminent "green" scientist and TV host, Dr. David Suzuki."

"Scrapie concern prompts US proposal on sheep,goats" - "The U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday proposed to limit state-to-state movement of sheep and goats in the United States to stop the spread of a deadly disease called scrapie. Scrapie, which is similar scientifically to so-called mad cow disease, has been found in as many as 1,000 U.S. sheep and goat flocks. Scrapie is a degenerative and fatal disease that targets the central nervous systems of the animals," reports Reuters.

"Thalidomide, the birth-defect pariah, makes comeback" - "Thalidomide, the morning sickness drug that produced flipper limbs in thousands of babies in the 1950s and 1960s, is making a comeback as a tumor fighter, helping to more than quadruple the share price of its manufacturer Celgene Corp. since the year began," reports Reuters.

"France to urge food safety caution at WTO meeting" - "France said on Monday it would push the World Trade Organisation to take a cautious approach to food safety during a new round of free trade talks opening this week in Seattle," reports Reuters.

"Drugs with GMOs to require label in Switzerland" - "Pharmaceuticals containing genetically modified organisms must carry a warning label in Switzerland from January 1, 2000, the Intercantonal Office for the Control of Medicines (IKS) said on Monday," reports Reuters.

"Tampax makers on trial over health warning" - "The makers of Tampax went on trial at London's High Court on Monday accused of failing to give proper warnings to women over the risk of the killer condition Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) that can result from the use of tampons," reports Reuters.

"Judge's OK expected on Dow Corning reorganization plan" - "After four years of legal wrangling, Dow Corning Corp. should learn Tuesday whether a judge accepts its bankruptcy reorganization plan that includes a $3.2 billion settlement over silicone breast implants the company no longer makes," reports the Associated Press.

"Greenpeace says site of Bhopal disaster is still contaminated" - "Toxic chemicals still poison soil and water near the site of the world's worst industrial disaster in central India - 15 years after the disaster claimed at least 7,000 lives, the environmental group Greenpeace said Monday," reports the Associated Press.

"More than half of world's rivers in trouble, conference learns" - "The fouling of the waterways and surrounding river basins contributed to the total of 25 million environmental refugees last year, for the first time exceeding the world's 21 million war-related refugees, said the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century," reports the Associated Press. "Environmental refugees"?

"Big tobacco changes tune to stop FDA" - "After decades of downplaying smoking's dangers, cigarette makers plan to argue before the Supreme Court this week that the Food and Drug Administration has no right to police the industry because tobacco products are too deadly for the FDA to regulate." reports The Boston Globe.

November 29, 1999

FDA fatheads?: Fear of margarine: The trans fat myth - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed to require that information on trans fatty acids be included on nutrition lables. But do trans fats increase the risk of heart disease or junk science? You be the judge.

"Ecoactivists go after wrong target" - "A group opposed to genetically engineered plant life is taking credit for a weekend vandalism spree at research facilities in Puyallup and Seattle. Maybe a little too much credit," reports The Seattle Times.

commentary of the day I: "Tobacco-izing telephones: Stewart Fist's latest folly" - The Junkman comments in The New Australian (nov. 29 - Dec. 5), "Stewart Fist, the technology columnist for Rupert Murdoch's Australian, is desperate. His long-running campaign against the mobile telephone industry remains painfully short on science. His only long suit is rhetoric, fueled by the mobile phone industry's past bad luck in choosing consultants and The Australian's tolerance for nonsense."

commentary of the day II: "Slowdown in Seattle" - Even The Boston Globe recognizes that "many [protests about the WTO] cloak hostility to the increasingly international nature of economic activity." I wonder if The Globe's editors would include the Invisible Government and Global Monoculture ads placed in The New York Times by the Turning Point Project?

commentary of the day III: "Trade circus in Seattle" - The Boston Herald editorializes, "Environmental damage, subsidized competition, 'dumping' products here below cost - such complaints should be greeted with skepticism.They are usually a smokescreen for some special interest that wants higher prices."

junk commentary of the day: "WTO's record explains protests in Seattle" - This op-ed in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says, "Greens see no particular reason either to love or hate trade. They don't share the religious beliefs of economists, who love trade as indiscriminately as they love growth." But Greens have their on set of religious beliefs, either the 'environment uber alles' and/or Marxism.

debate of the day: USA Today debate: "Risky medicine" - USA Today comments "Hospitals reuse medical devices designed for one-time use only." The opposing view counters, "These devices are safe; competitors invent threat that doesn't exist."

resurrected scare of the day: "Fresh evidence on pylon health risks" - "The fierce debate over the health risks of living close to electrical power lines could be given a sensational twist this week by the publication of fresh research," reports the BBC.

scare of the day: "Government prepares for meteor strike " - "The UK government is to establish a panel of experts to advise on the risk of the Earth being hit by a meteor," reports the BBC.

hypocrisy of the day: "Turning farmland into suburbs poses risks" - "When a resident asked that his wellwater be tested, the state Department of Agriculture found unacceptable levels of pesticides. More tests showed 32 of 80 wells had levels of DDT, DDE, BHCs above state-accepted limits," reports the Associated Press. I wonder if North Carolina is similarly upset about the dioxin in Ben & Jerry's ice cream which may be almost 200 times higher than "safe" levels?

anti-trade ad of the day: "Invisible Government" - As the World Trade Organization gets together in Seattle, the anti-biotech, anti-chemical, anti-trade Turning Point Project takes out this ad in The New York Times.

"The Most Dubious News Stories of the Year" - From the National Anxiety Center.

"Gasoline Dispute Highlights Environmental Concerns" - "Twenty-three days after the World Trade Organization was born in 1995, the new agency received its first official trade complaint: Venezuela alleged that clean-air rules in the United States were unfairly favoring U.S. refineries' gasoline over Venezuelan fuel. It demanded a change. No way, replied the United States--the rules are reasonable and help keep the air clean. So began a case that has come to encapsulate environmentalists' belief that the WTO can force countries to weaken their protection of clean air and water," reports The Washington Post.

November 28, 1999

media 'assist' of the day: "On Chicken's Front Line" - Less than a week after OSHA announces its ergonomics proposal, The Washington Post runs a front-page story on the difficulties of working in a chicken procesing plant. Watch for this article to be used by ergonomics advocates -- especially those on Capitol Hill -- to advance the OSHA proposal. The headline should read "Newspaper shills for hometown industry -- big Government."

"Tobacco Showdown Is Set Supreme Court to Decide on FDA's Assertion of Authority" - The Washington Post reports on upcoming Supreme Court arguments over whether FDA can regulate tobacco.

'silencing science' of the day: "CSU prof predicts hurricane increase" - "[Colorado State University professor William] Gray said he has a hard time finding federal money. He gets some funding from the National Science Foundation, but more and more of it comes from private sources, such as the insurance industry. State Farm and USAA insurance companies help pay for his hurricane forecasts. 'I've been critical of global warming and am persona non grata.'" Note that The Washington Post report missed this bit of info. BTW, our book, "Silencing Science," makes an excellent holiday gift.

"U.S. Says It Has 'Real Problem' With Europe on Food" - "The United States has a 'real problem' with Europe over European efforts to restrict imports of genetically modified foods as well as over past unresolved trade disputes, Deputy Treasury Secretary Stuart Eizenstat said Friday," reports Reuters.

"Pricetag for meeting emission targets shrinks" - "[The Canadian] bill for meeting Kyoto commitments [is] now seen at roughly $1.6-billion a year, paling in comparison to past predictions of $17-billion," reports The Globe and Mail.

"Qld Govt plans to make tobacco giants pay" - "The Queensland Government is investigating United States-style court action to force tobacco companies to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs," reports The Sunday Mail.

"Blair drops plan to cut speed limit to 50mph" - "A plan to cut the national speed limit from 60mph to 50 has been ditched by Tony Blair after fears that the move would cost Labour the votes of motorists at the next general election. " reports The Independent. So I guess it was really about votes, not safety.

"Seattle fears 'Green rage'" - "The siege of the WTO is organised into four days: tomorrow for human rights; Tuesday for trade unions; Wednesday for the environment; and Thursday in protest against biotechnology," reports The News Unlimited.

"Vatican theologians say 'prudent yes' to GM foods" - "The Pope has given his blessing to genetically modified food in a move which will reignite the controversy over the ethics of genetic engineering." reports The News Unlimited.

"The Week That Was November 27, 1999" - The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

commentary of the day I: "Free trade benefits all" - Julian Morris comments, "Almost all arguments against free trade blame it for problems it has little to do with. Free trade enables people to lead better lives and it benefits the environment as well."

commentary of the day II: "Protesters aside, WTO meeting holds promise" - From an op-ed in The Boston Globe: "The link between trade and environmental standards has received much attention in the run-up to Seattle. One concern is that greater economic openness will lead countries to relax environmental standards, seeking to attract firms by reducing their cost of doing business. There is little evidence, however, of a race to the bottom, not least because lax regulation of environmental standards often goes hand in hand with factors that raise the cost of doing business, such as poor enforcement of commercial law."

commentary of the day III: "Kyoto's Economic Sucide Pact and the Melbourne Age" - Aaron Oakley comments, "The problem with environmentalist extremists is that they literally cannot see past their own ideological prejudices. On the contrary, they are more inclined to treat their prejudices as self-evident truths. This appears to be the case with the ill informed editor of the Melbourne Age, Michael Gawenda, as exemplified by his editorial 'The world's worst polluter'."

November 27, 1999

Ben & Jerry's article of the day: "EU, UK study calls for action on dioxins in food" - "A European Union-sponsored study published on Friday called for binding limits for dioxins in foods, warning the presence of the dangerous chemicals in some breast milk and human tissue was above recommended levels... The report said those eating fatty foods, particularly fatty fish, meat and dairy products, were most at risk." Would the EU ban Ben & Jerry's ice cream?"

scare of the day: "Eye disease threatens to blind young Britons" - "An eye disease that can leave its victims blind is becoming rife among younger people in Britain. Experts describe the epidemic as frightening, and warn that if it continues at its current pace it will make a million people blind within 15 years and could strike people as young as 30. There has been virtually no research into the disease, although scientists are sure it is caused by something in 'modern living.' Speculation about the cause ranges from more intense ultraviolet light as a result of the thinning ozone layer, to artificial sweeteners, pesticides or chemicals in plastic food wrap," reports Scripps Howard.

commentary of the day I: "Musclebound Superfund" - The Boston Globe editorializes, "As far as we know, nobody living near a waste site has ever been shown to have been made seriously ill from it. The states are perfectly capable of deciding how fast to clean up which sites - which aren't going anywhere - and to what standards. Congress should admit that it wrote a law that has never worked well, and just get out of the cleanup business for all sites except the government's own."

commentary of the day II: "The critics of capitalism" - The Financial Times editorializes, "Communism may be a dying political creed, but capitalism still has its enemies. Next week's Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation is set to be swamped by thousands of protesters... Environmentalists and human rights groups complain that free trade encourages the destruction of natural resources and the use of child labour in the pursuit of foreign markets. However, imposing a social agenda on the WTO would be a great mistake, and not only because of the risk that it would be used as an excuse for protectionism. Social aims would often conflict with the aims of free trade, confusing the WTO's purpose. Some social issues ought to be tackled at a global level, but specialist organisations should take up the causes."

commentary of the day III: "Milking the Tobacco Cash Cow" - The New York Post editorializes, "Hypocrisy, thy name is government. After all the sob stories about the need for tobacco companies to make good on the Medicaid money they've cost the 50 states, it turns out the politicians in those states are going to use the big bucks they've garnered for -- you guessed it -- lots of other stuff!"

junk commentary of the day: "God save the planet" - God flush the Kyoto Protocol.

"Chernobyl's Last Working Reactor Restarted After Repairs" - "Ukrainian authorities Friday restarted the last working nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant, ignoring international pressure to shut it down," reports the Associated Press.

"EU parliament demands more power over GMOs" - "The European Parliament on Friday demanded that it be given joint decision-making powers with European Union governments on any future legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," reports Reuters.

"EU candidates face huge environmental bill, EU says" - "East European countries hoping to join the European Union must spend around 120 billion euros to bring their environmental standards into line with EU norms, the bloc's top environmental official said on Friday," reports Reuters.

"EU Commission defends proposed baby toy ban" - "The European Commission on Friday rejected criticism of its plan to ban some baby toys made from PVC containing chemicals called phthalates, saying it had no intention of withdrawing the controversial proposal," reports Reuters.

"Tighter WTO rules said needed for gene sugar beet" - " Concern is growing about the adequacy of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules for trading genetically modified (GM) sugar beet, the International Sugar Organization said in a report," reports Reuters.

"U.S. Group Launches Protests Against Biotech Foods" - "A French farm activist and protesters in rubber fish masks took part on Wednesday in what a U.S. green group said would be the first in a series of demonstrations at American supermarkets against genetically modified foods," reports Reuters.

"New Zealand approves GM cows" - "Scientists in New Zealand have been given the go-ahead to raise two herds of genetically-modified cows - but they cannot introduce any human genes into the animals," reports the BBC.

"Jury out on sheep dip" - "A government committee has concluded there is not enough evidence to prove organophosphate (OP) sheep dip has caused serious medical problems to people exposed to it at low levels," reports the BBC.

"Science: Story of the century" - "Scientific breakthroughs dominated the great news events of the 20th Century, according to a poll of journalists," reports the BBC.

"High-tech companies want to study OSHA ergonomic proposal" - "Several technology companies this week say they are adopting a wait-and-see attitude toward new workplace regulations proposed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration," reports IDG.

November 26, 1999

victory of the day: "Monsanto wins UK ban on attacks on GM test crops" - "U.S. life sciences company Monsanto has won a permanent ban on the destruction of genetically modified crops by a British group opposed to biotechnology, a Monsanto spokesman said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

junk commentary of the day: "A Hippocratic Oath for Scientists" - Sir Joseph Rotblat comments in Science that scientists should take an oath to act in "socially responsible ways." Of course "socially responsible" is enviro-code for being mindlessly anti-chemical, anti-biotechnology, anti-nuclear, and pro-global warming treaty.

commentary of the day I: "WTO Woodstock" - The Wall Street Journal editorializes, "There are a lot of heavy issues confronting the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle. Toxic waste, debt forgiveness, genetic engineering, child labor, threatened indigenous tribes, endangered trees and turtles, AIDS, pollution--and that's just the protest menu. The official agenda for the meeting is trade, specifically trade liberalization. But it's going to be hard to hear what the assembled worthies are saying above the din of tens of thousands of activists converging on Seattle for the mother of all protests."

commentary of the day II: "Using health as an excuse to block trade; Safety is often a pretext for non-tariff barriers" - Neville Nankivell writes in The National Post (Nov. 25), "Technical trade barriers are another growing threat to market access. These include labelling restrictions, content regulations, standards-related and environment-related measures and outright product bans based on very dubious science."

commentary of the day III: "Smoking out the rule of law" - George Bragues writes in The National Post (Nov. 25), "Stripping most legal defences from tobacco firms, but not from other makers of dangerous products, augurs a return to arbitrary rule."

commentary of the day IV: "Food and agriculture give WTO heartburn" - The Seattle Times editorializes (Nov. 25), "If fear is effectively exploited in the name of protectionism, this trade round will be known as nothing more than prattle in Seattle."

commentary of the day V: "Seeking smarter regulators" - Susan Dudley and Wendy Gramm comment, "A review of the history of NHTSA's regulation of seat belts suggests that it is the regulators, not the air bags, that need to be smarter."

commentary of the day VI: "New OSHA regs need rethinking" - The Boston Herald editorializes, "OSHA's regulation is not final, and employers still have a chance of infuencing it in the coming months. But all in all, waiting for the National Academy of Sciences report in 2001, and using it in the design of any regulations, is smarter than plunging ahead of OSHA's schedule of promulgation before the year 2000 is out."

"Britain to study cancer claims at chip plant" - "British health officials will carry out a year-long study of cancer claims by employees of a semiconductor plant in Scotland, officials said on Thursday," reports Reuters.

Franken-briefs? "'Superheroes against GM-pants' protest at UK store" - "Environmental protestors said on Thursday they had seized cotton underpants from Marks and Spencer Plc's new flagship store in the north of England in protest at the use of genetically modified cotton," reports Reuters.

"Sport stretches may be a waste " - "Millions of people worldwide who stretch before sport in the hope of preventing injury are wasting their time, according to groundbreaking Australian research." reports The Age.

"EU tries again for harmonised mad cow controls" - "The European Commission on Thursday proposed new EU-wide controls on cattle parts most at risk of carrying mad cow disease, aimed at replacing flawed legislation that has threatened a transatlantic trade row," reports Reuters.

"EU court adviser says France cannot block GMOs" - "A judge at the European Union's top court on Thursday said France was not justified in freezing the approval of genetically modified maize, in a non-binding opinion likely to have a major influence on the final outcome of the case," reports Reuters.

"Grim toll of smoking" - "More than 122,000 British smokers will die prematurely in the year 2000 from a smoking-related disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)," reports the BBC.

"South east faces climate change" - "The richest region in the United Kingdom, the southeast corner of England, "has potentially more to gain, and certainly more to lose" from climate change than anywhere else in the country, a report says," reports the BBC.

"Families Fear Toxic Dump Is Harming Unborn Kids" - "Greater Glasgow Health Board bosses are concerned dangerous chemicals dumped at the Paterson's landfill site at Mount Vernon in the city could be linked to the miscarriages," reports The Daily Record.

November 25, 1999

Moderate caffeine consumption not associated with miscarriage, study says - But the accompanying editorial is written by long-time caffeine hater Brenda Eskenazi. Click here for Reuters coverage. Click here for CNN coverage. Click here for MSNBC coverage.

"French to make beef ban decision 'within 10 days' " - "France yesterday sent the text of the Anglo-French beef deal to its independent safety agency, which will decide whether to endorse removal of the British beef embargo 'within 10 days', Paris said," reports The Independent.

"UK farmers say beef deal 'step in right direction'" - "A 'protocol of understanding,' reached by Britain and France in their row over beef trade is a step in the right direction, British farmers' leaders said on Wednesday," reports Reuters.

"EU eases Belgian dioxin food safety measures" - "European Union veterinary experts decided on Wednesday to ease measures designed to contain an outbreak of dioxin poisoning in Belgium earlier this year, EU officials said," reports Reuters.

"EU fears legal action if GMO deadlock remains" - "Europe's top environment official admitted on Wednesday the European Commission feared being taken to court unless it tried to break the deadlock over authorising new genetically modified organisms," reports Reuters.

Italian study of the day: "Sportsmen encouraged to have sex" - "Having sex makes men more aggressive, improving their performance on the sportsfield, it is claimed," reports the BBC.

commentary of the day: "Warning Signs: Giving Thanks" - Alan Caruba writes, "Amidst all the doom and gloom news provided by the television news media and daily newspapers, there is much to be thankful for."

"Ocean drift disruption could chill Europe" - "Scientists have found evidence that the Atlantic Ocean current which gives Europe its mild climate is being disrupted," reports the BBC.

"Millennium miracles" - It's Thanksgiving, so I'll be polite. MSNBC's Francesca Lyman writes, "National religious leaders are appealing to their congregations’ moral values to draw attention to what they see as the greatest threat to God’s creation -- global warming -- and joining hands with environmentalists to adopt lifestyle changes that would be healthier for the earth."

"Pushing it" - From The New Scientist: "In the European Union, the party's over for cigarette advertising and the sponsorship of sport by the tobacco industry. Is it time governments tightened the rules on drinks advertising and sponsorship?"

"Experts hope to clear up warming controversy" - "The general conclusion of their study is that the sun may have played a dominant role in pre-industrial climate change (from 1600 to 1800, for example) but it has not played a significant part in long-term climate change during the past few decades," reports CNN.

"Senator Worries Environmentalists" - "Sen. Bob Smith's rise to the Environment and Public Works Committee chairmanship has raised concern among environmentalists that he may steer a sharply different course than his moderate Republican predecessor, the late John Chafee of Rhode Island," reports the Associated Press.

"China now leads world in sulfur emissions, study shows" - "An ambitious analysis of global sulfur emissions estimates spanning two centuries shows that the United States, Europe and the former Soviet Union have stabilized their emissions over the past 20 years, while mainland China's sulfur emissions have soared. China now leads the world in the dubious distinction of most sulfur emissions produced in a country."

"Nature versus natural" - The Globe and Mail comments (Nov. 24), "However biologically true, this laissez faire ecological morality is hard for modern Canadians to deal with. We want nature to be fair; we want all creatures to peacefully co-exist in a democratic, multispecies ecological state much like our liberal, democratic multicultural one. Good liberals that we are, we abhor other species causing unplanned and unpredictable revolutions in waters we have decided people are ordained to govern according to our sense of the right. Nature sees our pretension, smiles and then replies: In the natural world, there are no rewards and punishments -- there are only consequences."

November 24, 1999

Ben & Jerry's comparison of the day: Refinery effluent safer than Ben & Jerry's? - "The federal Environmental Protection Agency for the first time has proposed a possible ban on industrial discharges of the powerful pollutant dioxin into San Francisco Bay," reports The San Francisco Chronicle (Nov. 23). The article says EPA wants to set Tosco's dioxin discharge limit at zero -- currently it's 0.14 trillionths of a gram per liter of water discharged. Our study reported a sample of Ben & Jerry's ice cream contained 80 trillionths of a gram of dioxin per serving of ice cream. It appears that a liter of refinery effluent is about 570 times "safer" than a serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream -- dioxin-wise that is. Don't forget, Ben & Jerry's continues to maintain "The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all."

regulatory groin kick of the day: Think tank report on ozone transport questions basis of federal lawsuit against Midwest utilities - Resources for the Future -- a center-left, EPA-funded think tank not typically critical of the EPA -- says in a new report: "...even during weather conditions leading to major ozone violations in the Northeast, utilities in southern Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania have relatively small effects, per ton of NOx emissions, on New York and New England..." Just this month, the EPA goaded the Department of Justice into filing lawsuits against Midwest utilities on the bogus theory that their emissions travel hundreds of miles to cause serious air quality problems in the Northeast. The release of a report so contrary to current EPA policy is so surprising that it makes me wonder whether RFF is trying to position itself favorably for an EPA run by a George W. Bush administration.

another win for the bad guys? "Biotech Crops Spur Warning" - "More than 30 farm groups across the country today warned their members about the dangers of planting genetically engineered crops, saying the practice had become so unpopular with consumers that farmers were risking their livelihoods if they cultivated them again this year," reports The Washington Post.

media release of the day: From the American Farm Bureau: "Harvard Study Shows New Food Regulations Bad For Public Health" - "A Harvard University analysis of new federal food safety regulations shows that unintended impacts of the rules could be more harmful to public health than the compounds they attempt to regulate."

commentary of the day I: Pesticide Turkeys - Find out why Sens. Robert Torricelli and Patty Murray should be looking over their shoulders on Thursday.

commentary of the day II: "Unsafe at any price? Different Standards for organic luvvies" - Roger Bate writes in The Wall Street Journal Europe (Nov. 23), "The Directors of Monsanto and other American agro-chemical companies must be crying in their sleep, if they can sleep at the moment. While their new technologies are attacked by every conceivable pressure group and most newspapers, they have to sit and (literally) watch more dangerous rival products being promoted on TV."

commentary of the day III: "Bad Economics, Not Good Ergonomics" - Robert Hahn writes in The Wall Street Journal, "The Occupational Safety and Health Administration this week announced its proposed ergonomics standard, aimed at preventing repetitive-stress injuries. If OSHA really is able to prevent such injuries, why doesn't it go into business? It stands to make a bundle if it can simply explain to 1.6 million firms how they could save $5 billion annually and prevent 300,000 workplace injuries a year. If Washington then went to Wall Street to issue an IPO, it could easily raise $50 billion."

commentary of the day IV: "Repetitive Bureaucracy Syndrome" - The Chicago Tribune editorializes, "Last year, Congress directed the National Academy of Sciences to study the problems and extent of repetitive-stress injuries caused in the workplace. The research, to be completed in early 2001, is likely to provide critical new information about the causes and the extent of such on-the-job injuries. But then, why let scientific evidence stand in the way of a good opportunity to impose a government bureaucracy's will on the nation?"

commentary of the day V: "OSHAme on them! " - The New York Post comments, "Ho, hum. Another week, another outrageous effort by the Clinton administration to overregulate American business."

outrageous claim of the day: "Breast cancer link to smoking at puberty" - "Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria director Robert Burton said data from a US study, recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests women exposed to passive smoking up to the age of 12 had an almost five times greater risk of developing breast cancer. The risk of that disease for women who were exposed to passive smoking, and were also active smokers before age 12, was seven times greater. Professor Burton said yesterday that based on the findings, the risk of developing breast cancer from tobacco exposure could be the same as for lung cancer -- meaning smoking could have caused up to 75 per cent of breast cancer cases," reports the The Australian. Click here for the Junkscience.com write-up from last December of the American Journal of Epidemiology study.

junk commentary of the day I: "Bye-bye butterball? Fare well without Thanksgiving turkey" - Animals rights nut Dr. Neil Barnard writes at MSNBC.com, "... vegetarians typically live almost 10 years longer and enjoy far lower rates of heart disease, stroke, cancer and several other diseases than do meat-eaters, there’s no better time to go cold turkey on turkey and other meats." Click here for some things to keep in mind.

junk commentary of the day II: "OSHA's push for better health" - The Boston Globe unconditionally -- and mindlessly -- supports OSHA's ergonomics proposal. But even The Washington Post recognizes weaknesses in the proposed rule. Check out related commentaries in today's Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and New York Post. Then e-mail your comments to The Boston Globe.

junk marketing of the day (next to Ben & Jerry's, that is): "Maker, promoter of zinc lozenges to settle federal charges" - " A company and cable network that touted a brand of zinc lozenges as a way to prevent colds and alleviate allergy symptoms have agreed to settle federal charges that they could not back up those claims, regulators announced Tuesday," reports CNN. Click here for MSNBC coverage.

sound advice of the day: "Abolishing OSHA" - In light of OSHA's recent ergonomics proposal,. it's time to revisit this article by Thomas J. Kniesner and John D. Leeth appearing in Regulation (July 1996). Kniesner and Leeth conclude, "Perhaps a good direction for workplace safety policy would be to phase out OSHA -- if the agency cannot be shut down at this time -- with an immediate revision of OSHA's current approach to standard-setting, inspections, and fines. State policymakers in the meantime should work to reform their workers' comp. programs. Insurance rules, when set by companies subject to market forces, protect safety in the most cost-effective manner. As important, state policymakers should reform their tort law systems to allow workers to seek redress from employers in true cases of negligence and reckless endangerment."

Health Canada hires Disney character: "Canada government hires tobacco industry 'Insider'" - "The Canadian government announced on Tuesday it had hired Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, the man who blew the whistle on the U.S. tobacco industry and inspired the movie "The Insider", as a special health consultant on national tobacco policies," reports Reuters. Click here for my review of "The Insider," Wigand's story as told by Disney.

where's the fire EPA? EPA rushes diesel health assessment document - The EPA released a draft of the "Health Assessment Document for Diesel Emissions" on November 15. The agency is allowing only two weeks for review before putting it before the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) for final approval. Industry groups like the Engine Manufacturers Association are trying to get extension for more public and peer review. Despite EPA's claims of diesel emissions being "highly carcinogenic", the science is very controversial. Check out a recent court ruling and recent comments from a National Cancer Institute scientist.

"Thanksgiving Meal Full of Rodent Carcinogens-Report" - "The traditional Thanksgiving feast -- turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and the rest -- has plenty of rodent carcinogens, a health advocacy group said on Tuesday, but this need not spoil the holiday meal," reports Reuters.

"UK and France agree peace treaty on beef" - "The long-awaited breakthrough in the Anglo-French beef war came last night after the two sides agreed on a detailed text of a deal to lift France's embargo," reports The Independent.

"Time called on smoke-filled pubs" - "A study has shown that introducing no-smoking areas is good business for pubs. The research showed that takings in pubs that had introduced no-smoking areas were up by seven per cent," reports the BBC.

scare of the day: "Deafness threat of millennium fun" - "A charity says that pub and clubgoing over the extended Millennium holiday could seriously damage your hearing," reports the BBC.

"Ministers drop Atlantic oil fight" - "The UK Government has decided not to challenge a High Court judgment relating to oil exploration in the north Atlantic. Greenpeace succesfully argued that the government had failed to take steps to protect and conserve a 'virtually unique' undersea world from exploitation by the oil industry," reports the BBC.

U.S. export of the day: "Ottawa ponders ergonomic rules" - "Federally regulated businesses -- including airlines, banks and broadcasters -- could soon be subject to ergonomic regulations similar to those unveiled yesterday in the United States," reports The Globe and Mail.

"Reports of monarch's death greatly exaggerated" - "The monarch butterfly was adopted as the symbol of resistance by anti-GM food campaigners after claims that genetically-altered corn might be killing America's favourite butterfly. Reports since suggest the threat, if it exists at all, is modest," reports The Irish Times.

November 23, 1999

Ben & Jerry's coverage of the day: "The Controversy That Wasn't" - From About.com: "If a nationally branded food item in your grocery store contained levels of a probable carcinogen that exceeded government guidelines, would you expect the media to report it?" Click here for our Ben & Jerry's study.

junk verdict of the day: "Jury awards $2.146 million in herbicide suit" - "A jury in Cuming County has awarded a Wisner man $2.146 million in one of the largest verdicts ever awarded in a negligence case in Nebraska... [even though] physicians testified there was no medical evidence that Pramitol could have caused Eyl's skin condition," reports The Lincoln Journal Star. Click here for a profile of the herbicide Pramitol.

"Reynolds Tobacco Lauds Legal Victory in Minnesota Class Action" - "In another important legal victory for the tobacco industry, a federal court in Minnesota has denied certification of a class-action suit seeking smoking cessation and medical monitoring programs for smokers and former smokers in Minnesota."

menu of the day: "ACSH Holiday Dinner Menu 1999" - A holiday publication from the American Council on Science and Health.

'upcoming junk' of the day: Secondhand smoke and child behavioral problems - A study to be published in the December issue of Environmental Health Perpspectives reports that secondhand smoke "could cause subtle changes in children's neurodevelopment and behavior." I translate "subtle" to mean "only observable by those who wish an association to exist." The study is not new research; it's a review of 17 epidemiologic studies that have attempted to separate the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy from secondhand smoke exposure. I'm not sure how the authors reach their tenuous conclusion since they acknowledge, "However, studies to date are difficult to interpret because of the unknown influence of uncontrolled confounding factors, imprecision in measurements of smoking exposure, and collinearity of pre- and postnatal maternal smoking."

commentary of the day: "Campaign threatens poor" - Julian Morris comments in The Financial Times, "The environmentalist campaign against trade in GMOs is misconceived. If it is successful, it will harm the poorest people in the world."

junk proposal of the day: OSHA Proposes New Ergonomics Standard - This is OSHA's web page for its ergonomic proposal. Click here for CNN coverage. Also check out these media releases:

re-hashed junk of the day: "Environmental Tobacco Smoke Linked to Lung Cancer and Other Health Effects" - "The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced today the availability of the most comprehensive report on the health risks of secondhand smoke ever conducted. The monograph, "Health Effects of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke: The Report of the California Environmental Protection Agency," links secondhand smoke, also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), not only with lung cancer, but with heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), nasal sinus cancer, and a host of other diseases in both adults and children." Click here for the monograph.

'fish out of water' of the day: "Is your cell phone killing you" - "There's more data suggesting problems with the radiation from cell phones than the FDA had when it banned silicone breast implants. Are we all at risk?", reports PC Computing. Of course, the FDA had no -- none, nada, zip -- data implicating silicone breast implants when they were banned. Click here for evidence that PC Computing should stick to comparing PCs and printers. The author is obviously not aware of the controversy over George Carlo's credibility. Click here [music link] for Carlo's theme song.

media release of the day I: "Misunderstandings About Basic Mineralogy Used to Create Scare Tactics Over Fertilizer, Reports Ironite Products Company " - "A recent report by two environmental advocacy groups and misunderstandings about basic mineralogy are being used to create scare tactics over fertilizer."

media release of the day II: "Activists Attack Bio-Engineered Food Despite Benefits to the Poor and Sick " - From the National Center for Public Policy Research: "At a time when Americans should be giving thanks for the benefits new biotechnologies offer the developing world, the environment and health, a coalition of environmental groups, Members of Congress and anti-technology Luddites are protesting these benefits and threatening their future."

EU postpones PVC toy ban - The European Commission postponed a decision to implement an emergency ban on PVC plastics in children's toys yesterday after new information emerged. Some major toy manufacturers said they would abide by the ban on a voluntary basis. Another reason for the delay was that some EU member states did not believe the emergency ban was justified by proper science. 'It is a bit of a surprise to see an emergency action being taken on phthalates. I don't think the science is saying at all that there's an immediate risk,' said Jim Bridges, the head of the European Union scientists committee on toxic substances. [Daily Report for Executives; 11/23; pg. A-4]

Chemical manufacturers object to EPA testing scheme - The Chemical Manufacturers Association said yesterday it objects to the "triggers" EPA identified for advancing chemicals up a three-tier set of tests designed to protect children's health. "The triggers ought to be linked to a specific health effect rather than having a positive finding in one test automatically advance a chemical into the next tier, where all the tests for that tier would have to be done. The criteria for triggering more detailed studies should belinked to the illness or effect that is being tested," said CMA's Sandra Tirey. [Daily Report for Executives; 11/23; pg. A-23]

"Formal fen-phen settlement filed in court- officials" - "Court officials said on Monday that lawyers have filed the formal paperwork in the $3.75 billion settlement between American Home Products Corp. and people who took fen-phen, the diet drug cocktail health officials have linked to possible heart-valve damage," reports Reuters.

"EU postpones vote on whether to ban some baby toys" - "European Union governments on Monday postponed a vote on a proposed ban on sales of some baby toys made from PVC softened with chemicals called phthalates," reports Reuters.

overstatement of the day: "Mild heart valve defects confirmed with diet drug use" - This study "confirms" nothing. The authors state, "... these results should be considered preliminary, pending study of a larger number of dexfenfluramine patients." The study did not pre-screen study subjects for heart valve regurgitation risk factors. Note this story is about dexfenfluramine, not fenfluramine, the "fen" portion of the now defunct diet drug combination, fen-phen.

"Girl, 13, could be youngest BSE case" - "A girl of 13 may be the youngest person to have contracted the human form of BSE, the fatal disease linked to eating infected beef, in a case being anxiously monitored by doctors and government officials," reports The Guardian.

"US wants WTO working group to study biotech crops" - "The United States supports establishing a World Trade Organization working group to study issues surrounding genetically modified crops, rather than moving directly to negotiations, a top U.S. trade official said on Monday," reports Reuters.

"Europe seeks to end GM licensing block" - "Margot Wallström, the European Union's new environment commissioner, is to try to end the EU's 18-month de facto moratorium on licensing genetically modified products." reports The Financial Times.

"Another case of mad cow disease found in France" - "A new case of mad cow disease has been discovered in southwest France, bringing to 26 the number of cows found with the disease this year, the Agriculture Ministry said Monday." reports the Associated Press.

November 22, 1999

hypocrite of the day: Greenpeace director urges Monsanto to go "organic," but takes only small steps on his own farm - Greenpeace executive director Lord Peter Melchett has called for Monsanto to abandon pesticides and biotechnology. Mellchett says that, in return, Greenpeace would work with Monsanto to produce "the world's first genuine life sciences company based on ecological, organic and holistic principles." [New Scientist, October 16, 1999] But Melchett should put his own money where his mouth is. Melchett's own 800-acre farm is only in the process of being 30 percent organic. [Farmers Weekly, April 2, 1999].

"Carlo resorts to rhetoric" - From a recent letter to the editor of Radio Communications Report about newly-minted cell phone hysteric George Carlo: "If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If both the law and the facts are against you, appeal to sentiments. If the law, the facts and sentiments are against you, ask rhetorical questions."

"Army launches task force to track down Agent Orange victims" - From The Korea Herald. Click here for "Alleged victims of defoliant Agent Orange come forward." How about a task force to track down Ben & Jerry's victims?

junk proposal of the day: "OSHA offers standard on ergonomics" - The Washington Post reports on the Occupational Safety and Health Administartion's ergonomics proposal, due out today. Click here for New York Times converage. This proposal will open employers to lawsuits for virtually any injury whether or not employment related. Click for recent editorials by The Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily. Click here for a recent Wall Street journal op-ed.

enviro cruelty of the day: "Globalization vs. Nature" - This week's New York Times ad from The Turning [My Stomach] Point Project. The enviros aim to keep the Third World just that, hoping that disease and poverty do their dirty work for them. Count the bodies at the Malaria Clock and water quality counter.

junk journalism of the day: "Trans Fat Blues" - The Los Angeles Times reports uncritically on the trans-fat craze. Click here for some perspective.

Canadian climate claptrap: "Our climate is changing" - Here's the Canadian government's campaign to con citizens about global warming.

irony of the day: "Too much tofu induces ‘brain aging,’ study shows" - "A Hawaii research team says high consumption of the soy product by a group of men lowered mental abilities" reports The Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

bizarre article of the day: "A turn for the better: Scientists pondering the state of the planet at millennium's end temper gloomy predictions with hope" - Message for Boston Globe reporter Scott Allen: Your village called. Its idiot is missing. From an uncritical mention of "The Population Bomb" to quoting Maurce Strong to the statement "Humans dammed up so much water that geophysicists say it has perceptibly altered the way the planet rotates" to the sappy poem at the end of the article, Allen (and his editor) probe new depths of journalism.

"Traffic may worsen hay fever and asthma" - "As roads grow ever more congested, commutes lengthen. Even though individual vehicles spew less pollution, the air remains choked with combustion byproducts. Now, urban denizens have yet another reason to hate traffic: It pollinates their air," reports Science News.

"UK to host international GM meeting in Edinburgh" - "Britain will host an international conference in February on the safety, scientific and consumer concerns about genetically modified food, a government spokeswoman said on Monday," reports Reuters.

"UK shoppers distrust food safety pledges-survey" - "Fewer than one in five British shoppers trust the government to tell the truth about food safety, according to a survey published on Monday," reports Reuters.

"Austria snubs GM crops as 'forbidden fruit'" - "Mistrust of genetically modified crops is spreading throughout Europe and is particularly rampant in Austria -- the European Union's champion organic farmer," reports Reuters.

"Changing climate threatens English country gardens" - "Fears that roses, rhododendrons, green lawns and oak trees may eventually fall victim to global warming are to be investigated in the first study of climate change on gardens. " reports The Independent.

"Coming a cropper: The undoing of Monsanto's GM dream" - A chronology in The Guardian.

November 21, 1999

controversy of the day "Ten a day OK, smokers told" - "Only one month after the world's biggest tobacco company, Philip Morris, admitted for the first time that smoking can kill you, one of Britain's top experts on the effects of the habit has provoked outrage in the anti-cancer establishment by insisting it's fine to smoke 10 cigarettes a day, passive smoking is no problem, and the Government is wasting money telling people to quit," reports The News Unlimited.

scare of the day "Women alerted on risks from tight clothes" - "Endometriosis, the painful condition that can cause infertility and afflicts up to two million British women, may be triggered by wearing tight clothing during teenage years, according to new research," reports The Daily Telegraph.

"Church Commissioners drawn into GM crop dispute" - "A government 'Minister' for the Church of England, involved in a crucial decision on whether to allow the Ministry of Agriculture to use Church land for GM crop trials, earns thousands of pounds a year from Bell Pottinger - the lobbying and PR firm that advises Monsanto."

"EU signals on labelling raise hopes in UK beef row" - "The European Commission said on Friday Britain's beef exports could carry labels identifying them as British, opening the way to a potential breakthrough in the row over import bans imposed by France and Germany," reports Reuters.

"Cold showers are good for you -- official" - "Cold showers and cold baths, which were part of the regular regime of Edwardian gentlemen, may be set for a comeback. Later generations have dismissed cold showers as a masochistic fetish designed to control sexual appetite. But now German doctors have found that immersion in cold water has beneficial effects on body chemistry," reports The Independent.

"More than 60 per cent of US food has a GM ingredient" - "More than 60 per cent of food on sale in the United States contains a genetically modified component it was disclosed yesterday, as consumer groups flocked to the first public forum on the subject in Chicago. The proportion of processed foods containing some GM ingredients is even higher," reports The Indepenent.

"Tighten Pentagon Medical Rules" - "The Pentagon's plans to beef up oversight of experimental drugs may be imperfect, but they will greatly improve the safety and efficacy of its efforts to protect troops against biological weapons," comments The Los Angeles Times.

"Sharks, Snakes and Spiders Qualify for Global Protection, U.S. Says" - "Some of the most feared creatures on Earth - sharks, rattlesnakes and poisonous tarantula spiders - are so close to extinction they are now in need of protection themselves," reports the Environment News Service.

"The Week That Was November 20, 1999" - The Science and Environmental Policy Project writes about sea-level rise.

"Scientists join forces to study Arctic ozone " - "An international team of scientists has been gathered together to undertake the biggest study yet of ozone levels over the Arctic," reports the BBC.

November 20, 1999

Ben & Jerry's comparison of the day "EU clamps down after dioxin found in German clay" - "The European Commission on Friday said it had imposed an emergency dioxin limits on certain German clays, which can be used as additives to animal feed," reports the Reuters. According to the article, the limit set by the EU is 0.5 nanograms per kilogram (i.e., 0.5 x 10-9 per 1,000 grams). Another way to state this level is 0.5 x 10-12 per gram (divide both sides by 1,000), or 0.5 parts per trillion (ppt). Our study of Ben & Jerry's ice cream reported dioxin levels of 0.79 ppt of dioxin in the ice cream. So what would the EU do with Ben & Jerry's ice cream since, as Ben & Jerry's itself warns, "The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all"?

Ben & Jerry's coverage of the day "What Next, Ben & Jerry? Sludge Ripple?" - That's the title of an article in the December 6 issue of Insight magazine about our study of Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

book of the day "World Expert Debunks Tropical Rain Forest Myths" - "In a new book published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Philip Stott, Professor of Biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and Editor of the Journal of Biogeography (Blackwell Science), argues that our conception of the 'Tropical Rain Forest' is the result of a century of colonial myth making, first by imperialists, then by environmentalists."

"The toxic truth about a scare campaign" - "Once upon a time Greenpeace wanted to save the world. Now it just wants to save itself, no matter what distress this might cause the rest of us," reports the Courier-Mail.

junk advertising of the day "AMA asks Florida to stop using journal's name to sell citrus" - "After getting an angry letter from the American Medical Association, the state decided to stop mentioning JAMA in ads touting the health benefits of orange juice," reports the Associated Press. I called the American Cancer Society on this same issue years ago.

study of the day "Birth weight linked to mother's blood pressure: studies" - "An Australian study has concluded that low birth weight in babies is not, as commonly believed, only related to the mother's diet and factors like smoking during pregnancy," reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Click here and here for the studies in this week's British Medical Journal.

scare of the day "Candles can create health risk" - "Vanilla, lavender and other scented candles can make a home seem cozy and inviting for the holidays, but such candles may also be hazardous to your family's health, according to the American Lung Association (ALA)," reports Reuters.

junk lawsuit of the day "Drug firm says baby powder suit without merit" - " Drug and health care companies Pfizer Inc. , Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Johnson & Johnson said Friday that their medicated baby powder products are safe and that a lawsuit filed by the Center for Environmental Health is without merit," reports Reuters.

turkey tips "Physics talks turkey this Thanksgiving " - "Whether you like dark or white meat, cooks can look to physics for some tips for making sure that Thanksgiving turkey is quickly gobbled up. Harold McGee, a writer on food science, has come up with some scientifically-based, and very effective, tips for making sure your turkey rules the roost next Thursday."

"Court Voids Local Bans on Outdoor Tobacco Ads" - "State and local governments cannot prohibit outdoor tobacco advertising, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Friday," reports The Los Angeles Times.

"Climate change low on horizon; $100-million fund urged" - "The federal government should mount a $100-million campaign to educate the public on climate change and to persuade people to adopt a more energy-efficient lifestyle, according to recommendations by a government-appointed advisory group," reports the National Post.

"Giant belch may have helped rise of mammals-study" - "A giant belch of methane gas from deep under the sea 55 million years ago may have helped mammals take over the world, researchers said on Friday," reports Reuters.

"Deadline looms for tougher SUV emission standards" - "Environmentalists hope that by the end of the year they'll have one less reason to hate sport utility vehicles. That's the deadline by which President Clinton is supposed to finalize proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would toughen auto emission standards for all cars and force SUVs, minivans and small pickup trucks to meet the same standards as cars," reports the Associated Press.

"Lawyers see formal fen-phen settlement filed soon" - "Plaintiffs' lawyers on Friday said they expect to soon file the formal paperwork in the record $3.75 billion settlement between American Home Products Corp. and people who took fen-phen, a diet drug combination health officials have linked to possible heart-valve damage," reports Reuters. Click here for my related Wall Street Journal op-ed.

"U.S. judge vows to keep massive tobacco case moving" - "Despite vowing to keep the U.S. Justice Department's massive lawsuit against the tobacco industry moving forward, a federal judge said on Friday that it still may be three years before the case goes to trial. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler acknowledged the historic lawsuit, which accuses the tobacco industry of fraud and deceit since the 1950s, may never get to trial if a settlement can be reached or if she ended up dismissing the case." reports Reuters.

November 19, 1999

No hot date tonight? Listen to the Junkman on the radio! - I'll be guest hosting Radio America's nationally syndicated The Gary Nolan Show tonight from 9-10 pm EST. If you can't get the show on the radio, they tell me you can listen to it on the Internet at www.radioamerica.org/listen.htm. You'll need Real Audio player software, which can be downloaded for free. Mike Fumento, Michael Gough and Alan Caruba will be my special guests tonight. You can call the show with comments and questions at 1-800-510-8255. Weenie-greenies are especially encouraged to call!

daffy-nition of the day: What's a 'consumer'? - A review of the the list of presenters at yesterday's FDA biotechnology hearings reveals a number of well-known anti-biotech activists who registered only as "consumer" for their affiliation. Also, several organizations listed presenters under different organizational names in order to get multiple presenters although they actually were from the same organizations.

commentary of the day I: "A retreat from scientific reason" - Roger Bate writes in The Financial Times, "The EU ban on using phthalate plasticisers in toys is unjustified and must not be extended to medical products."

commentary of the day II: "Food for the Future" - Greg Easterbrook writes in The New York Times, "... it would be a mistake if the underwhelming results of the first generation of transgenic crops led to laws or boycotts that blocked the second and third generations. After all, it is the world's poorest people who would have the most to lose."

commentary of the day III: "Environmentalists’ Latest Catalog of 'Horrors' on Dioxin" - Michael Gough and Angela Logomasini write, "The Center for Health, Environment and Justice recently released its latest report claiming that all Americans are 'at serious risk from the daily intake of dioxin in food.' Here we go again. Adding nothing new to the research, this "study" contributes to a large and growing collection of dangerous environmentalist hype."

commentary of the day IV: "Toxic lawyers threaten health; Paint lawsuits may help keep the lead in" - Ken Smith writes in The Washington Times (Nov. 18), "Notwithstanding the industry's record on lead paint or the fact that industry management today had nothing to do with decades-old practices that the federal government itself encouraged at the time, paint manufacturers may face a number of lawsuits on the issue before it's over."

commentary of the day V: "Voodoo fearmongers " - Mona Charen writes in The Washington Times (Nov. 18), "From alar and dioxin to PVCs and silicone, the media create one scare after another - and not just about chemicals. After every plane crash, the press whips up hysteria about flying, despite the reality that flying is safer than driving or even walking. So the next time you hear that serving your kids broccoli or giving your baby a rattle treated with PVCs is going to poison him, ask the old Roman question: Qui Bono? Who benefits from the scare?" Click here for the Mike Fumento column mentioned by Mona.

commentary of the day VI: "Bankrolling Junk Science" - Doug Bandow writes in The Washington Times (Nov. 18), "Silicone breast implant litigation has become a legal Hydra, with two heads replacing every one that is cut off. The scientific evidence is overwhelming: Implants do not cause disease. Yet the trial bar persists in squeezing damages from a largely bankrupt industry and now threatens to twist scientific research to advance its case... The trial bar has long subverted the legal process to enrich their clients and themselves in the name of justice. It is important not to allow liability lawyers to subvert government research in the name of science."

commentary of the day VII: "Warning Signs" - Alan Caruba writes, "Does anyone doubt that the Environmental Protection Agency is not controlled by Al Gore through his handpicked Administrator, Carol Browner? That means the EPA lawsuits announced on November 4th against seven Southern and Midwestern utilities were cleared by his office and campaign advisors. This is just part of the war on America the Clinton-Gore Administration has been waging since it took office."

commentary of the day VIII: USA Today Debate: "The Insider" - Click here for the view that Brown & Williamson engaged in a campaign of intimidation. Click here for the view that Brown & Williamson never threatened Wigand. Click here for my review of "The Insider."

today's Gore-ing: "Hypocrisy on tobacco from Al Gore" - Dan Thomasson writes, "... Gore, whose penchant for cheap shots while professing the high road is well-known, had better look to his own associations, past and current, before he waves a finger of morality at his opponent over tobacco."

"Gene foods debated at FDA hearings" - "The debate over genetically modified foods -- already a hot topic in Europe and other parts of the world -- intensified at public hearings here Thursday as activists accused the government of not doing enough to keep the public safe and informed," reports MSNBC. Click here for the FDA home page on the hearings. Click here for Washington Post coverage. Click here for New York Times coverage.

"Midwest Farmers Lose Faith They Had in Biotech Crops" - "As farmers this month place their orders for spring planting, there is growing evidence that a boom is fading," reports The Wall Street Journal.

"More people smoking despite known health risks" - "Thursday is the American Cancer Society's "Great American Smoke Out," a day smokers around the country are encouraged to kick the habit. Despite millions of dollars in state spending for anti-smoking campaigns, more adults and teens are smoking now than in the early 1990s," reports CNN.

"Testing shows safer turkeys this year" - The Center for Science in the Public Interest tests itself for bacteria. Click here for the CSPI press release.

"Drink driving linked to mental illness " - "People convicted of drink-driving at a young age are likely to develop a mental illness or go on to commit violent offences, according to researchers in Finland," the BBC reports.

"Low tar cigarettes linked to cancer upsurge " - "Cigarettes marketed as light or low tar may be responsible for a significant increase in a rare form of lung cancer, the government's chief medical officer has said," reports the BBC.

"Climate change warning" - "A draft report on the probable impacts of climate change, written by the world's leading climate scientists, carries a stark warning - that the world may be in for some nasty shocks," reports the BBC.

"Gun deaths, injuries down since 1993 - U.S." - "The rate at which Americans are killed by guns has declined 21 percent since peaking in 1993, but firearms remain the second leading cause of injury-related deaths behind traffic accidents, federal health officials said Thursday," reports Reuters.

"Glavany says British beef ideas sound good" - "French Agriculture Minister Jean Glavany said on Thursday the latest British proposals to end the beef war seemed sufficient but had to be submitted in writing before French scientists could check them," reports Reuters.

"French cry "sour grapes" over UK Beaujolais boycott" - " French wine lovers relishing their first sip of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau on Thursday ridiculed calls to boycott the beverage by British farmers furious at France's ban on their beef," reports Reuters.

"Two-tiered market evolving for GM crops" - " European and Japanese consumers have balked at the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops, but Japan is ahead of Europe in building a two-tiered market that prices GM-free food at a premium to gene-altered varieties. " reports Reuters.

November 18, 1999

Consumerdistorts.com: Consumer Reports to launch scare over food can coatings - From Consumerdistorts.com: "Sources say Consumer Reports may try to scare the public with a December- or January-issue report about bisphenol-A, a chemical used to make food can coatings."

Ben & Jerry's article of the day I: "A Spoonful of Poison?" - Media critic News Watch reports on our Ben & Jerry's dioxin study.

Ben & Jerry's article of the day II: "Ben & Jerry's 'Tasty Toxins'" - About.com reports on our Ben & Jerry's dioxin study.

commentary (and enviro-bait!) of the day: "Pedestal Politics: Sainthood in store for Ocean State Episcopalian?" - Brian Bishop, director of Rhode Island Wiseuse, comments on the legacy of the recently deceased Sen. John Chafee.

today's Gore-ing I: "Ever the Global Gloomster" - George Will writes in The Washington Post, "Never in recorded history have birth rates been as low, or per capita food production as high, as at the moment. Gore must pray for relief from the accumulating evidence that Earth is not really hanging in precarious balance."

today's Gore-ing II: "Gore's gall is showing in cig attack on Bradley" - "Team Gore is now going after rival Bill Bradley because one of the Madison Avenue types who worked on Bradley’s TV ads used to run Young & Rubicam, which handled Joe Camel the symbol of tobacco evil. Now some might call this the height of hypocrisy, since Gore’s new No. 1 image-maker is Carter Eskew, mastermind of the $40 million tobacco-industry ad blitz that helped kill federal anti-tobacco legislation last year."

junk legislation of the day: "Aid for Nuclear Workers Sought Bill Eyes $100,000 Each for Cancers at Paducah, Other Plants" - "The Clinton administration yesterday sent Congress legislation that would give $100,000 to each person who became ill after working at nuclear weapons facilities in Paducah, Ky., and elsewhere," reports The Washington Post. The U.S. Government has no business handing out taxpayer money as compensation without proof that employment at nuclear weapons plants caused illness.

B.S. of the day: "Benefits of Clean Air Regs Top Costs Four to One" - The Environment News Service reports, "The economic value of the public health and environmental benefits that Americans obtain from the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 exceed their costs by a margin of four to one, according to a new study. The report by the Environmental Protection Agency projects that the law and its associated programs prevent thousands of premature deaths and millions of asthma attacks related to air pollution every year." The bulk of the "benefits" comes from the assumption that air pollution causes premature mortality combined with EPA's valuation of each life saved at roughly $5 million. But -- as discussed many times on this page - there is no credible science that air pollution in the U.S. is causally associated with premature death.

"Frost-free forecast for 2050" - "In 50 years parts of Britain will be free of frost and snow, allowing gardeners to grow exotic plants like pomegranates and bananas, according to the National Trust," reports The Guardian.

"Officials chew over wording of beef war treaty" - "Hopes remained high yesterday of a rapid settlement in the beef dispute, despite the start of European Union legal proceedings against France," reports The Independent.

"GM foods needed to feed world, UK scientist says" - "A British scientist argued on Wednesday that genetic modification technology is not a big, bad monster sponsored by profit-hungry multinationals, but a scientific means to efficiently feed a hungry world," reports Reuters.

"The tide turns against Greenpeace" - From the Social Issues Research Centre: "Greenpeace anti-GM food activists may well have done the organisation's reputation irreparable damage. In place of the pious deference shown by the British Press to the movement's every word on biotechnology, a consensus is now growing that the mindless vandalism of recent weeks has gone too far."

"US poised for a biotech food fight" - "Europe's suspicion of genetically altered foods crosses the Atlantic," reports The Christian Science Monitor.

"Splitting headache; Monsanto's modified soya beans are cracking up in the heat" - "It seems barely a week goes by without another piece of bad news for the agribiotech giant Monsanto. Now researchers in the US have found that hot climates don't agree with Monsanto's herbicide-resistant soya beans, causing stems to split open and crop losses of up to 40 per cent," reports The New Scientist.

"Germany to keep beef ban until labelling clear" - "Health Minister Andrea Fischer said on Wednesday that Germany would not lift its ban on importing British beef until the issue of clearly labelling the origin of produce had been settled by the European Union," reports Reuters.

"In hot water...; After years of overfishing, global warming could decimate Europe's cod" - "Warmer waters in the Atlantic may be driving the dramatic decline in stocks of cod and other white fish off the coasts of Europe. Even though fishermen have cut their catches by a third in the past two years, young fish especially are still disappearing from a wide area across the northeast Atlantic, scientists warn," reports The New Scientist.

"Mean and minty" - "Peppermint oil could be a new, cheap weapon in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, filariasis, dengue fever and West Nile virus. Researchers in India have found that the oil not only repels adult mosquitoes but also kills the larvae," reports The New Scientist.

"French Greens slam nuclear contract with Australia" - "France's Greens on Wednesday demanded the government tear up a contract for state-run nuclear group Cogema to reprocess Australian nuclear waste, saying it violated their 1997 electoral pact with the ruling Socialists," reports Reuters.

"U.S. judge rejects request to transfer tobacco case" - "A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request by Philip Morris Inc. to consolidate the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against the tobacco industry with cases already brought by foreign governments," reports Reuters.

junk of the day: "Light-To-Moderate Alcohol Consumption and the Risk of Stroke among U.S. Male Physicians" - "Light-to-moderate alcohol consumption reduces the overall risk of stroke and the risk of ischemic stroke in men. The benefit is apparent with as little as one drink per week. Greater consumption, up to one drink per day, does not increase the observed benefit," reports a study in The New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 18). Click here for the accompanying editorial. The statistical associations are weak and of borderline significance. The study population appears biased (rich, white males). The risk factors for stroke are many. This is a silly study.

"Mortality among Recent Purchasers of Handguns" - "The purchase of a handgun is associated with a substantial increase in the risk of suicide by firearm and by any method. The increase in the risk of suicide by firearm is apparent within a week after the purchase of a handgun and persists for at least six years," reports a study in The New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 18). Click here for the accompanying editorial that notes, "The problem is that suicide is so rare among handgun purchasers that even a highly specific screening tool would yield many more false positives than it would identify real cases, so screening is probably not a good option."

"Thalidomide may treat bone cancer" - "Thalidomide, the drug infamous for causing ghastly birth defects during the 1960s, appears to be effective against a highly lethal form of bone cancer, even in patients in advanced stages of the disease," reports MSNBC. Click here for the study. Click here for the accompanying editorial.

November 17, 1999

Consumerdistorts.com of the day: "Trans Fat to Debut on Label" - The FDA has proposed that nutrition labels carry information on trans fatty acids. But is there any reason to be concerned about trans fats? Find out what today's Nutrition News Focus has to say.

farce of the day: "Florida tobacco plaintiff says she was addicted" - A 44-year old nurse testifies in the Engle tobacco trial, "I had no idea there was anything wrong with cigarettes at all."

"Reynolds Tobacco Hails Appeals Court Ruling" - "Judge Easterbrook points out that insurance companies ' ... have on their staffs physicians with ready access not only the Surgeon General's conclusions and medical databases, but also direct access to information about health costs. Of all entities in society, insurers have the best information about the relation between smoking and health problems.'"

"Government Orders Agent Orange Probe" - "South Korea's defense minister ordered an inquiry into a report that the U.S. military used Agent Orange and other toxic defoliants along the border with North Korea in the late 1960s," reports the The Los Angeles Times. Click here for a related story, "Pentagon Affirms Agent Orange Use."

"EPA agents accused of going too far" - Check out the picture from the EPA brochure -- it's frightening to think that Carol Browner commands agents who carry weapons.

commentary of the day I: "Fun Facts to Know And Tell About Biotechnology" - Holman Jenkins writes in The Wall Street Journal, "... the massive crop technologies already being employed on the farm are probably worth the risk. To feed itself over the next four decades, mankind will have to produce a larger quantity of food than all the food produced since the beginning of time. We're still waiting for Greenpeace's answer to that one."

commentary of the day II: "PETA's animal rights are all wrong" - Don Feder writes in The Boston Herald, "In [PETA's] inverted moral universe, a lab rat has exactly the same standing as a critically ill baby. The rodent may not be sacrificed to save the child."

commentary of the day III: "A life without cigarettes" - Andy Rooney writes, "I forget why I knew it was wrong to smoke. In high school, our football coach told us all not to, though he also told us not to eat pie. I mention all this because, while I always hope the people who sue get the money from the tobacco companies, it's ridiculous for them to claim they didn't know smoking was bad for them. People were calling cigarettes "coffin nails" when I was growing up in the 1930s."

commentary of the day IV: "Organic Food Not Always Safer; They are much more likely than other foods to turn into killers" - Roger Bate writes in The Dayton Daily News, "Using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Dennis Avery, the Virginia-based director of global food issues for the Hudson Institute of Indianapolis, found that organic and natural foods are much more likely than other foods to turn into killers." Roger Bate is a co-editor of "Fearing Food," available at the Junkscience.com store.

nostalgia of the day: "40 Years Ago This Month: Americans Panicked Over Cranberry Safety Scientists Reflect on the Anniversary of the First 'Carcinogen' Panic of the Century" - From the American Council on Science and Health: "On the 40th anniversary of the great "cranberry scare" of l959, scientists at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) urged Americans to 'eat, drink, and be wary' of those who attempt to frighten us about trace levels of synthetic chemicals in foods."

junk of the day: "Evidence mounts for link between environment and birth defects: study" - Note that, despite the headline, this MSNBC article fails to cite any specific scientific data linking chemicals in the environment with birth defects. I wonder why...

"Thinning Sea Ice Stokes Debate on Climate Debate" - "The great ice cover that stretches across the top of the globe has become about 40 percent thinner than it was two to four decades ago, scientists have found after analyzing data collected by nuclear submarines plying the Arctic Ocean. Since the ice is already floating in the water, no rise in sea level has accompanied its melting, as happens when land-based glaciers shrink. But the finding raises anew the question of whether climatic changes observed in recent decades are the result of the atmosphere's natural behavior, or a global warming caused by human activity, or some combination of the two," reports William K. Stevens in The New York Times.

"Schroder ready to close all nuclear plants" - "Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was close to a deal last night with his Green coalition partners on the timetable to close all of Germany's 19 nuclear power plants," reports The Independent.

"Closing of Brookhaven Reactor Dismays Scientists, Pleases Environmentalists" - "Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory were dismayed Tuesday at the Department of Energy's decision to permanently close an aging nuclear reactor that has been shut since 1996, but environmentalists praised the move," reports The New York Times.

"Gore Announces an Environmental Initiative" - "Seeking to win the active support of environmental groups that have so far failed to muster much enthusiasm for his presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore announced Tuesday that President Clinton would sign an executive order to require environmental reviews in all new trade agreements," reports The New York Times. Click here for Associated Press coverage.

"EPA changes course on Denver Superfund site" - "Environmental Protection Agency regulators reversed themselves Monday and recommended that radioactive waste be removed from a contaminated former chemical plant after years of complaints from neighbors and environmentalists," reports the Associated Press.

"Dairy firms sue Belgium over dioxin 'incompetence'" - "The Belgian Dairy Industry Confederation (CBL) said on Tuesday it would sue the government for 2.5 billion Belgian francs ($64.10 million) in damages over its "incompetent" handling of the dioxin-in-food crisis," reports Reuters.

"Tough times ahead for U.S. seed makers" - "U.S. seed companies may be in for tough times over the next few quarters as a brewing global backlash against genetically modified crops threatens to curtail seed sales, agribusiness analysts said," reports Reuters.

"U.S. farmers at crossroads as GM debate swirls" - "Terry Francl remembers a conversation with his grandfather nearly three decades ago when he was told that the move to use fluoride in drinking water in the United States was a communist plot. The American Farm Bureau Federation economist likes to whimsically compare his grandfather's distrust and suspicion of the dental care compound to the hostile public reaction to genetically modified (GM) foods in Europe and Asia," reports Reuters.

"Tasmania halts GM crops, for review" - "Tasmania is moving towards becoming the first Australian state to ban genetically modified organisms in agriculture, as part of a 'clean green' market edge," reports The Age.

"Glavany shrugs off EU legal moves on beef" - "French Farm Minister Jean Glavany on Tuesday shrugged off legal action designed to get France to lift its ban on British beef, saying a provisional accord with Britain had almost been reached," reports Reuters.

"EU's Byrne tells Germany to lift British beef ban" - " European Food Safety Commissioner David Byrne said on Tuesday it was time for Germany to act to lift its ban on British beef, and urged it to draw up a timetable for doing so," reports Reuters.

"Tough EU tobacco laws planned" - "Cigarette packs could soon be required to carry a stark 'Smoking Kills' health warning under planned European Union legislation which would also tighten controls on the manufacture and sale of tobacco products," reports the BBC.

"Mouthwash predicts high blood pressure" - "A simple mouthwash test could help predict which young people will develop high blood pressure later in life, believe Australian scientists," reports the BBC.

November 16, 1999

commentary of the day I: "Get rid of malaria, then DDT" - Brendan O'Neill comments, "... there is still a lack of evidence that DDT has a profoundly detrimental impact on the environment, or that it causes lethal harm to people... According to one authoritative study by malaria experts at the [Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences], 'use of [DDT] should not be abandoned unless its known detrimental health effects are greater than the effects of uncontrolled malaria on human health'." Click here for the Malaria Clock and "100 Things You Need to Know About DDT."

commentary of the day II: "Is the EPA Killing Our Children?" - EPA advisory committee member Bill Spencer compares Carol Browner to mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. Spencer writes, "According to a comprehensive risk-assessment study conducted by Harvard University, the EPA's ban on just two classes of effective pesticides will cause up to 1,000 premature deaths each year due to decreases in disposable income and increases in the price of food."

junk lawsuit of the day: "NY Attorney General sues GE over PCBs" - "New York's attorney general on Monday announced a lawsuit against General Electric Co. to try to force the industrial giant to dredge parts of the Hudson River contaminated with toxic PCB decades ago," reports Reuters. Click here for Mike Fumento's related article in Forbes (July 26, 1999). Click here for New York Times coverage.

book review of the day: "A shock on the roadside: we’re getting tidier" - "Fearing Food" is featured in this Sunday Telegraph column (Nov. 14) by Robert Matthews. "Fearing Food" can be purchased for the lowest price on the web at the Junkscience.com store.

MVP update: Marie Curie still womping Rachel Carson - Maries Curie leads Rachel Carson by 12,000 votes in Nando's voting for MVP of the century. Click here to cast your ballot for Marie Curie, whose work paved the way for nuclear physics and cancer therapy. Click here for Rachel Carson's "legacy of death."

television review of the day: "Unlikely Seeds of Disaster in Big Apple" - From Los Angeles Times TV critic Joel Greenberg: "A scientist says CBS' 'Aftershock' 'doesn't have much to do with a likely reality.'"

"Arctic sea ice melts by almost a half " - The Independent reports, "Scientists have detected a significant reduction in the thickness of the Arctic sea ice, which they say is related to global warming. Over the past 20 to 40 years the ice has lost up to 40 per cent of its depth right across the Arctic at 29 sites monitored by nuclear submarines."

"Global warming could starve polar bears" - "Climate change is threatening polar bears with starvation by shortening their hunting season, according to a study by scientists from the Canadian Wildlife Service," reports the BBC.

"Green campaigners condemn government move to extend definition of terrorism" - "Ecology groups gave a hostile reaction yesterday to government proposals to strengthen anti-terrorist laws to cover direct action by animal rights, religious and green campaigners," reports The Independent.

"Environmentalists tired of waiting on EPA " - "Environmental groups say the Environmental Protection Agency is taking too long to establish long-past-due standards intended to make pollution discharge limits comparable every Great Lakes state," reports the Associated Press.

"Commonly used chemicals" - Mitzi Perdue writes about the agreement between the EPA, EDF and CMA over high production volume chemicals.

"Scientists weed danger gene out of GM crops" - "Scientists have made a breakthrough in their attempt to rid genetically modified crops of antibiotic-resistant genes," reports The Times.

"US hopes science will prevail in GM crop debate" - "'We want to see a regulatory process that is transparent, timely, science-based, not politicized,' said U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky. 'If the process can be straightened out somewhat, I think a lot of the friction will disappear,'" reports Reuters.

"GM food debate begins to bite in Asia" - "Asia, the biggest eatery in the world, is beginning to be swept by the global storm over genetically modified (GM) food as apathy bows to rising consumer concern and regulators chew on billion dollar decisions," reports Reuters.

"Japan approves new GMOs amid consumer criticism" - "Japan on Monday approved seven new varieties of genetically modified (GM) crops as safe for human consumption, ignoring demands by a consumer lobby that it follow the European Union and slap a moratorium on the import of new GM strains," reports Reuters.

"France near beef deal as deadline looms" - "Britain and France on Monday were tantalisingly close to a deal on the beef crisis, but the European Commission still intended to consider legal action against Paris, EU officials said," reports Reuters.

"EU seeks further U.S. hormone-free beef guarantees" - "The European Commission is still unhappy with controls on hormone-free beef exports from the United States and may consider imposing a formal ban on the meat later this month, EU officials said on Monday," reports Reuters.

"Britain denies concessions as beef war heads for the courts " - The Independent reports, "France faces the start of EU legal action today for failing to lift its ban on British beef, despite signs that Paris may be on the point of accepting British safeguards against any future outbreak of mad cow disease." Click here for coverage by The Times.

"French exporters at odds on British wine boycott" - "French wine exporters were divided on Monday over the impact of a threatened British boycott of this year's Beaujolais Nouveau, called in response to a French ban on British beef. While wine lovers worldwide are awaiting Thursday's traditional party to uncork the early crop of Beaujolais wine, some British conniseurs have vowed to swig English beer to show their solidarity with cattle breeders," reports Reuters.

"No enduring impact in Japan nuclear accident -IAEA" - "Japan's worst nuclear accident earlier this year resulted from human error and poor design at a fuel processing plant, but caused no significant contamination, the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Monday," reports Reuters.

"'Bioavailability' is the real test for DDT hazard" - "The tests currently used to detect old DDT and other organic pollutants in the soil may overestimate the risk to living organisms, according to Cornell University researchers who say the real issue for government regulators at toxic cleanup sites should be "biological availability" of aging toxins."

"Smoke Two After Dinner and Call Me in the Morning" - From The New York Times: A physician wrings her hands about her patients' smoking and FDA regulation of tobacco.

November 15, 1999

commentary of the day: "A Dip of Dioxin to You, Too" - Michelle Malkin comments in The Omaha World-Herald about our report on dioxin in Ben & Jerry's ice cream.

junk commentary of the day: "Assault on the Clean Air Act" - In this editorial about end-of-session congressional legislation responding to lawsuits the government filed against a group of midwestern and southern utilities earlier this month, The Washington Post says, "The midwestern and southern pollution floats to the northeast, and seriously fouls the air of New York and New England." But the EPA's own experts on ozone transport doubt its significance. The Ozone Transport Assessment Group says, "The distance of ozone transport between the precursor emissions and ozone removal is in the range of 150 to 500 miles. The transport of ozone manifests itself differently at the local, sub-regional and regional scales. In general, local (30-150 miles) transport contributes most to the non attainment of the 120 ppb standard. Beyond 100 - 200 miles the ozone concentrations tend to decrease with increasing transport distances. Statistical correlation analyses of the regional ozone pattern suggest ozone transport distances of up to 300-500 miles, but it is not clear to what extent this actually represents transport of ozone and/or precursors, or is a meteorological correlation." [From Final Report, Vol. I, OTAG Air Quality Analysis Workgroup, June 2, 1997.]" Send your comments to The Washington Post.

enviro-idiocy of the day: "Global Monoculture" - Check out this week's New York Times ad from The Turning Point Project -- a coalition of environmental extremists. Apparently, there is something wrong with: Africans having "clover-leaf" highway interchanges; Asians making automobiles; Latin Americans living in housing developments, etc. Unbelievable.

daffy-nition of the day I: "Green, as in G.O.P." - This commentary by Robert T. Stafford in today's New York Times defines "partisanship" as Republicans not caving in to Democrats on environmental issues.

daffy-nition of the day II: "Ocean's pulse gives clues to climate" - The Boston Globe reports, "Even the few remaining skeptics of global warming would likely agree that understanding the ocean-atmosphere connection is vital." "Few," Gracie? Since when does "few" mean more than 19,000?

"Biz group sees red over 'green' Gov" - Ferederic U. Dicker reports in The New York Post, "New York's top business group yesterday expressed "alarm" over Gov. Pataki's plan to impose strict new air-emission requirements on the state's electric utilities. The Business Council of New York, in its first-ever criticism of the governor, said it was also concerned about other recent Pataki environmental initiatives."

"USDA Seeks to Slaughter 365 Sheep; Officials Fear Vermont Herds Came in Contact With Mad Cow Disease" - The Washington Post reports, "'There's nothing wrong with our sheep, and the risk is theoretical,' said Faillace, who says he can sell all the cheese he can make. 'We just want USDA to get off our backs.'"

"Hong Kong grapples with heavy pollution" - The Associated Press reports, "Medical research statistics show that about 2,000 people die prematurely in Hong Kong each year from respiratory and cardiovascular complications, according to Kim Salkeld, deputy secretary for the environment."

"Government launches tobacco ban appeal" - The BBC reports, "The government is to launch an appeal against a High Court decision that delays the introduction of the tobacco advertising ban."

"'Smell of battle awakens Gulf War syndrome'" - The BBC reports, "The powerful physical symptoms of some Gulf War veterans can be triggered by smells, sounds and even the tastes they associate with the war, say psychologists."

"GM Food Must Show Benefits for Consumer -Scientist" - Reuters reports, "Consumer resistance to genetically modified food can be overcome if scientists develop products with benefits people can understand, a leading British scientist said on Sunday."

"Terrorism law to cover animal militants" - The Times reports, "An anti-terrorist law covering militant political, religious and environmental activists is to be introduced in the Queen's Speech on Wednesday."

"Less stringent ozone limits are on the horizon; Relaxed rules from the past are likely coming back, making compliance easier" - The Beacon Journal reports, "The federal government is moving toward relaxed clean-air limits that will be easier for Northeast Ohio to meet."

"Noticed the Weather Lately?" - Craig and Keith Idso comment on the National Environmental Trust's global warming advertising blitz.

"Vaccine takes joy out of smoking" - The Sunday Times reports, "In what could be the last gasp for the tobacco industry, scientists have come up with a vaccine that can block the effects of nicotine for up to a year."

"South Africa to lift ban on UK beef " - The Guardian reports, "South Africa is to lift its ban on British beef by the end of the year, providing a massive boost to resume worldwide sales which dried up in the wake of the BSE scandal."

November 14, 1999

Secondhand smoke in the workplace and HDL cholesterol levels - Japanese researchers report in the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology that workplace exposure to secondhand smoke was associated with a 70 percent increase in lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol among women. No association was reported for men. The study examined 3,062 workers in 27 municipal offices with few smoking restrictions. The reported results are based on a comparison of nonsmokers in the upper two-thirds of offices ranked by smoking intensity with nonsmokers in the lower third. The researchers note their results did not account for home exposure to secondhand smoke or other factors known to affect HDL levels.

Alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk among young women - A study in the November 1999 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reports that moderate alcohol consumption (10 drinks per week) among women 25-42 years of age was not significantly associated with breast cancer risk (relative risk = 1.20, 95 pecent confidence interval 0.69, 2.11). The authors conclude, "Overall, these results suggest that there is unlikely to be a large effect of moderate alcohol consumption on breast cancer risk in young women. However, given the width of the confidence intervals in this study, we cannot exclude a modest effect." Translation? We found nothing but give us more taxpayer money (the study was funded by the National Institutes of Health) anyway.

"1999 the hottest year of the millennium" - The News Unlimited reports, "This year is set to be the hottest of the millennium. With only six weeks to go to the New Year, the weather in Britain has been so much warmer than usual that only an unusually long cold snap in December would bring the annual average temperature below the previous record, according to one of Britain's top climate scientists."

"Consuming Democracy: activism, elitism and political apathy" - Frank Furedi writes, "Consumer activism thrives in the condition of apathy and social disengagement. Consumer activists regard their campaigns as a superior alternative to parliamentary democracy. Their attitude to political participation expresses a strong anti-democratic ethos."

"The Week That Was November 13, 1999" - From The Science and Environmenal Policy Project: "The irrepressible Marla Cone is at it again. Her report in the LA Times (Nov. 4), espousing a global warming study sponsored by the Union of Confused Scientists, sparked a fearful LA Times editorial two days later. Read about it in our Letter to the Editor (which they are unlikely to print). It's GLOBAL COOLING you should be fearful of, dummies!"

"Food labeling fight leaves farmers in the cross fire " - Scripps Howard reports, "If the federal government begins requiring labels on genetically modified foods, opponents of the move predict it could be a disaster for American agriculture, making it harder to export farm goods."

"Campaign to maim scientists" - The News Unlimited reports, "Booby-trapped letters, designed to slice the fingers off unsuspecting victims, have been sent to dozens of American scientists. The attacks, thought to be the work of a hardline wing of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), represent an international escalation of the activities of the British-based animal rights' movement."

November 13, 1999

Ben & Jerry's update of the day I: Ben & Jerry's acknowledges its dioxin problem - Ben & Jerry's has acknowledged on its web site its dioxin problem. But Ben & Jerry's tries to smear the Junkman rather than change its marketing. Such a shame. Since Ben & Jerry's still says "The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all," I guess their ice cream remains unsafe!

Ben & Jerry's update of the day II: "Scientists link sterility with high dioxin levels" - "Women suffering from severe endometriosis and men aged under 35 with low sperm counts usually have high levels of dioxin in their body, researchers have discovered," according to findings presented at a conference of the Japanese Society of Fertility and Sterility in Tokyo on Friday. The measured levels of dioxin in fat ranged, on average, from about 8 to 20 parts per trillion. In our study, we measured about 5 parts per trillion of dioxin in our sample of Ben & Jerry's "World's Best Vanilla." -- and dioxin accumulates in body fat. No wonder Ben & Jerry's says "The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all."

junk of the day: "FDA Wants Food Labels To List Trans Fatty Acids" - The Washington Post reports, "The Food and Drug Administration proposed yesterday that consumer food labels list the amount of trans fatty acids, a type of fat that significantly increases the risk of heart disease." This is absolute junk -- if nothing else, Walter Willet, the Nurses Health Study and the Center for Science and Public Interest are red flags. Click here for links to three explanatory articles. Click here for Associated Press coverage. Click here for Reuters coverage.

"Food labeling fight leaves farmers in the cross fire" - Scripps Howard reports, "If the federal government begins requiring labels on genetically modified foods, opponents of the move predict it could be a disaster for American agriculture, making it harder to export farm goods."

"What the press won't tell about day-care 'science'" - Maggie Gallagher comments in The New York Post about the latest study on day-care.

"Climate threat to mountains" - The Scotsman reports, "Some of Scotland's most famous mountain scenery could be changed beyond recognition within a generation by the forces of global warming, according to a new study."

"Dead Sea is shrinking" - The Associated Press reports, "The Dead Sea is dying."

"West Coast warned of warming woes" - CNN reports, "Warm, wet winters and dry, hot summers over the next century are predicted to wreak havoc on West Coast water supplies, according to two recently released studies on the impact a few degree rise in temperature over that period of time."

"Smoking linked to leukemia" - Reuters reports, "Smoking can cause cell damage and changes in the body's immune system that could increase the risk of adult leukemia, British researchers said Friday."

"Blood test for CJD created" - The BBC reports, "A laboratory test to identify either BSE or similar diseases in humans has been created by US scientists."

November 12, 1999

movie review of the day: "The Insider: Whistleblowing or Sucking Air? - Here's my review of "The Insider" -- the new movie about tobacco industry "whistleblower" Jeffry Wigand.

"Rite Aid pushed on tobacco products" - The San Jose Mercury News reports, "California pharmacies have become the latest battleground in the campaign to end smoking as a new coalition of the state's top health organizations launched a campaign Wednesday that calls on Rite Aid to stop selling cigarettes."

Ben & Jerry's responds (sort of): No change in dioxin marketing planned - Here's Ben & Jerry's response to a recent inquiry about our report. Click here to send your comments to Ben & Jerry's. If Ben & Jerry's believes there is no safe level of dioxin exposure, why do they insist on poisoning our kids?

corporate boneheads of the day (again!): "Biotech Companies Take On Critics of Gene-Altered Food" - The New York Times reports that Monsanto executives, including chairman Robert Shapiro, plan to meet with food terrorist Jeremy Rifkin. Monsanto has already tried to appease Greenpeace. Anti-biotech forces aren't interested in working with industry to ensure safety; they want no biotech. I'm continually amazed that Monsanto doesn't get this. It's no wonder Monsanto shareholders wish that Shapiro's parents had the terminator gene.

correspondence of the day: "Emission Impossible" - Here's the transcript of a report on climate change broadcast by the Australian Broadcast Corporation's "4 Corners" program. Click here for a letter to ABC by EVAG Coordinator, Barry Hearn, and the ABC "response."

commentary of the day I: "Ben & Jerry's dioxin surprise" - Terry Corcoran writes in the National Post, "Now you would think, given the tough stand taken by the company against dioxin, that a report that Ben & Jerry's World's Best Vanilla Ice Cream contained unsafe levels of dioxin would be newsworthy. But it's not, apparently. The fact that Ben & Jerry's zero-tolerance for dioxin doesn't extend to its own ice cream is not something that warrants coverage. Some companies, it seems, are more equal than others." This editorial also appeared in The Ottawa Citizen (Nov. 11).

commentary of the day II: "Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall" - In another commentary about our Ben & Jerry's dioxin test, the American Council on Science and Health's Francis Koschier notes, "According to Ben and Jerry's spokesperson Chrystie Heimert, the company stands by its statement regarding no safe level of dioxin. But, while Ms. Heimert acknowledged that there is dioxin in their ice cream, she denies that the company is planning a nationwide recall of what Steve Milloy calls 'Tasty Toxics Ice Cream.'"

commentary of the day III: "Warning Signs" - Alan Caruba writes, "With the exception of the Detroit News, the Burlington Free Press, and the Conservative News Service, the rest of the nation’s press corps ignored the [Ben & Jerry's] story."

commentary of the day IV: "Driving and Talking Do Mix" - Bob Hahn writes in The New York Times, "Washington and the states should find out what makes a material difference in safety. Until then, state and local governments should let the 77 million Americans who own cellular phones make their own decisions about when and where to use them."

'must see' of the day: "OER proudly presents Greenpeace's war on the Periodic Table!!" - From Dr. Aaron Oakley, "The Periodic Table of the elements is central to the understanding and appreciation of chemistry. But if you believed Greenpeace, almost every element is dangerous. This periodic table links to Greenpeace web-sites than cast the elements element in a bad light. No Element is safe!."

scare of the day I: "Deadly E. Coli Bug May Affect Half of U.S. Cattle" - Reuters reports, "A deadly strain of E. coli bacteria is far more common in U.S. cattle than previously thought, and may be found in half the animals that are made into ground beef, steaks and other cuts, a senior U.S. Agriculture Department official told Reuters on Wednesday." Click here for some perspective.

scare of the day II: "PVC toys banned over health fears" - The BBC reports, "An immediate ban has been placed on chewable plastic baby toys which may pose a health risk to youngsters, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has announced."

redundancy of the day: "U.K. starts hearings on safety of mobile phones" - Reuters reports, "A team of British experts began unprecedented public hearings on Thursday to gather evidence about potential health risks from mobile phones, officials said." Didn't the Canadians just go through this exercise?

chemophobia of the day: "Pesticide blamed for 123 illnesses in Florida" - CNN reports, "Health authorities are calling for a safer alternative to fighting Mediterranean fruit flies than a pesticide believed to have sickened as many as 123 people in Florida." For comparison, a 1992 study in the Archives of Environmetnal Health reported, "Surveys were performed to assess the acute health effects of aerial application of malathion bait over a large urban area. Three indirect attempts to assess utilization of health care services were made: (1) surveillance of a major hospital emergency department was undertaken, (2) ambulance dispatches were reviewed, and (3) emergency treatments for asthma at a university hospital were reviewed. These assessments were negative but insensitive. Prevalence of self-reported symptoms was assessed with two surveys that were subject to severe time constraints. Personal interviews of the same individuals, before and after the spraying, were conducted: one was conducted by telephone and the other by residential visit. Results indicated no detectable increase in acute morbidity. Also, after the spraying, there was a decrease in anxiety- related symptoms."

"Our health in a warming world" - MSNBC resident bonehead Francesca Lyman is at it again. Click here for some sense.

"Florida court extends deadline in Engle case" - Reuters reports, "The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday extended until Nov. 29 its deadline for plaintiffs in the Engle sick-smokers suit to respond to a cigarette makers' request that the court throw out the massive class action case."

"Study of Pacific Northwest shows widespread effects of global warming" - Scripps McClatchy Western Service reports, "Joined by several of his University of Washington colleagues, Philip Mote this week unveiled the nation's first comprehensive assessment of the way global warming is likely to affect climate, forests, fish and water supplies in a specific region - in this case, the Pacific Northwest. The scientists cautioned residents and leaders to start preparing for big changes."

political correctness of the day: "Boston Globe bans ads for all tobacco products" - Reuters reports, "The Boston Globe, a unit of the New York Times Co., on Thursday became one of a small number of U.S. newspapers to ban advertisements for tobacco products, the Globe said."

"Irish cough and splutter at proposed smoking ban" - Reuters reports, "Irish pub landlords, furious at a proposal to ban smoking in public places, on Wednesday challenged the government to ban cigarettes altogether."

"Talks to continue on beef dispute - French official" - Reuters reports, "The parties involved in the row over France's ban on British beef share a common goal of resolving the dispute, and talks will continue to that end, a source close to Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said on Thursday."

"Don't forget methane, climate experts say" - CNN reports, "The inclusion of methane, the primary component in natural gas, in emission strategies is key to curbing global warming, according to a team of atmospheric scientists, economists and emissions experts. The scientists found that by including methane in abatement strategies, the costs of meeting United States emission-reduction targets could be lowered."

"Federal Judge Rules on Trade Panels" - The Associated Press reports, " A federal judge has ruled that U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky must name at least one environmentalist to each of two panels that advise her on negotiating trade agreements for wood and paper products... In her ruling, Rothstein held that, 'Matters affecting the wood and paper products sector are dramatically and inextricably intertwined with the environmental health and protection of this nation.'"

"GM crop trials leap in size" - The BBC reports, "The critical full-scale trials of genetically-modified (GM) crops planned for the UK next year will involve 75 sites, each up to 10 hectares (25 acres) in size."

"Treat eaters like smokers" - Nancy Giurati writes in The Chicago Tribune (Nov. 11), "We could make eating on public streets illegal, just as has been done with cigarette smoking in many communities."

November 10, 1999

socialism of the day: Consumers Union sponsors socialist organization - Is "economic redistribution" really in consumers' best interests?

scare of the day: "Cradling phone can cause 'mini-stroke' " - The BBC reports, "People who cradle the telephone between their head and shoulder could be putting themselves at risk of a 'mini-stroke', leading to temporary loss of vision and speech problems." Click here for Reuters coverage.

'health scare without shame' of the day: "Mercury Man Commends National Pharmacy Chain For Ending Sales of Mercury Fever Thermometers" - Greenpeace's attack on the periodic table continues. Check out this recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial for a little perspective on mercury. Note it doesn't even mention mercury thermometers as a threat.

humor of the day: "New study too frightening to release" - From The Onion.

"Medical Journal Cites Misleading Drug Research" - The New York Times reports, "Reports of research on drugs tend to exaggerate the drugs' benefits, making them sound better than they really are, according to an article and editorial being published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association." Click here for the JAMA article.

"Watchdog 'too close to industry'" - The Independent reports, "A pollution watchdog was yesterday accused of being 'too close' to companies it monitors. The Environment Agency, which prosecutes firms that pollute land, rivers and atmosphere with dangerous chemicals, needs a 'cultural shift', Friends of the Earth (FoE) campaigner Mike Childs told MPs."

"Brown scraps green taxes" - The BBC reports, "The government has scrapped its commitment to raise fuel prices further in its pre Budget report. And it is planning substantial modifications to the controversial climate change levy on industry."

"Researchers stung by claims of AIDS origin" - Reuters reports, "An eminent U.S. medical research center will release lab specimens from a 1950s polio vaccine project in Africa in hopes of dispelling claims that its scientists inadvertently caused the AIDS epidemic, officials said Monday."

"Green Group Warns on GM Tree Development" - Reuters reports, "An international environmental group said on Tuesday a growing number of genetically modified (GM) trees were being cultivated without reliable safeguards and called for a global moratorium on their commercial release."

"Activists Destroy British Columbia Research Trees" - The Environment News Service reports, "Reclaim the Genes, an underground group opposed to genetic engineering, said they orchestrated the killing of 500 evergreen saplings at Silvagen Inc.'s research center at the University of British Columbia last week. A similar group called the Genetix Goblins claim they destroyed 1,000 cedar, Douglas fir and other evergreens on Halloween night at Western Forest Products' Saanich forestry center near Victoria."

"U.S. pursues two-track biotech crop strategy" - Reuters reports, "The United States said on Tuesday it will seek negotiations in the World Trade Organization to establish clear science-based rules for the approval of genetically-modified crops, in case bilateral talks with the European Union fail."

"EU's top judges asked to rule on landmark GMO case" - Reuters reports, "The European Union's top judges were asked on Tuesday to rule whether France had the right to suspend authorisation of genetically modified (GM) crops."

"Greenpeace challenges French green light for GM-modified maize" - Agence France-Presse reports, "The international environmental group Greenpeace went before the European Court of Justice on Tuesday in a bid to annul France's green light for the marketing of genetically engineered maize."

"CIIT publishes formaldehyde cancer risk assessment" - "A team of scientists at CIIT, working under the latest draft guidelines for cancer risk assessment established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have published an up-to-date risk assessment for cancer from inhaled formaldehyde, a frequent toxicant in air pollution and in some workplace environments. The comprehensive document integrates the latest mechanistic knowledge on the toxic effects of exposure to inhaled formaldehyde, including site-specific modeling of dose of formaldehyde delivered to the upper respiratory tracts of animals and humans."

"Air Quality Criteria for Particulate Matter" - EPA's "External Review Draft" (October 1999).

"Recycling revolution losing steam" - The Associated Press reports, "A host of factors, including a faster stream of trash generated by a booming economy, are to blame."

"Push continues for lowering of greenhouse gas emissions" - The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, "The Australian Conservation Foundation has renewed calls for the Federal Government to lower Australia's greenhouse gas emissions."

"Heart disease may begin in childhood" - Reuters reports, "Heart disease may begin at a very young age, a Cleveland researcher reported Tuesday at an American Heart Association meeting."

"Alcohol dependency may hinder smokers' quitting attempts" - Reuters reports, "Coupled with nicotine addiction, alcohol dependency in smokers makes kicking the cigarette habit even harder, researchers suggest."

"Ireland's pubs fume as MPs eye smoking ban" - Reuters reports, "Irish MPs on Tuesday recommended banning smoking in public -- a move greeted as a breath of fresh air by non-smokers but pilloried as a smokescreen by irate pub landlords who fear it will kill off business."

November 9, 1999

"Food rules out of sync, study says: Dioxin in ice cream safe, but far exceeds federal standards" - From the front page of Sunday's Detroit News. Click here for the related media release and study. Send your comments to Ben & Jerry's.

irony of the day: "Cigar smokers risk early death" - The BBC reports, "Cigars can cause an early death from coronary heart disease (CHD), despite the belief of some smokers that they are safer, says research." Check out the BBC picture. Cigar smoker Winston Churchill died at age 90. Now that's an early death?

scare of the day: "Flu pandemic could kill 200,000, US experts estimate " - Reuters reports, "Another deadly flu pandemic is 'highly likely, if not inevitable,' according to experts, and could take the lives of more than 200,000 persons in the US alone."

commentary of the day I: "George Pataki, First in the Nation?" - About Gov. Pataki committing New York to California-style auto-pollution standards, The New York Post comments, "New York traditionally has prided itself on 'leading the nation' in any number of ways. All too often, the net result of such 'leadership' was to increase the cost of doing business here - and thus render the state that much less competitive relative to other states."

commentary of the day II: "Government data should be public" - Tony Obadal comments on OMB's watering-down of the data access law.

empty-head commentary of the day: "Dirty tactics by some utilities" - The Boston Globe's Thomas Oliphant isn't smart enough to recognize that the federal lawsuit against Midwest power plants is about politics and the shifting of regulatory costs, not pollution. Click here for my New York Post op-ed explaining why.

MVP update: Curie still in the lead - Marie Curie is still beating Rachel Carson in Nando's voting for the most valuable people of the century. Don't forget to cast your ballot for Marie Curie.

"Bush Approach to Pollution: Preference for Self-Policing" - The New York Times reports, "In any assessment of Bush's environmental record, the unmistakable subtext is the governor's relationship with business and industrial leaders. As an advocate of limited government, Bush believes that lawsuits and regulations are not the best way to achieve clean air and water. Instead, his aides say, Bush has pursued a cooperative approach that emphasizes voluntary solutions instead of government mandates."

"Studying Deep Ocean Currents for Clues to Climates" - William K. Stevens reports in The New York Times, "Now some scientists believe they may have identified a comparable kind of oscillation involving deep ocean currents. They say this oscillation could warm and cool substantial parts of the globe on longer time scales of centuries to millenniums."

"Obesity shortens life by four years" - The BBC reports, "Obese heart patients live on average four years less than their slim counterparts, researchers have calculated."

"European court to hear French GM maize challenge" - Reuters reports, "Europe's highest court will on Tuesday hear the arguments in a dispute over whether France had the legal right to freeze the authorisation of three strains of genetically modified (GM) maize."

"Blair says beef war may come to end 'within days'" - The Independent reports, "Tony Blair raised hopes last night that the two-month-long Anglo-French beef war could be over in days, after a meeting with his French counterpart, Lionel Jospin."

"Post traumatic stress linked to heart disease" - The BBC reports, "A major study of Vietnam veterans has found those who plagued by anxiety attacks or depression as a result of their experiences are also far more likely to suffer from heart problems."

"Scientists discuss GM threat to butterflies" - The BBC reports, "There seems little consensus in the scientific community as to the precise impact genetically-modified (GM) corn (maize) will have on monarch butterflies."

"The Week That Was November 6, 1999 " - The Science and Environmental Policy Project reports on the fifth Conference of the Parties to the global climate treaty.

"Some alcohol may benefit liver, animal study suggests" - CNN reports, "Liver specialists meeting in Dallas heard surprising results from an animal study recently, showing that light alcohol consumption seemed to speed the recovery of damaged livers in rats." Click here for MSNBC coverage.

"Flooding in Himalayas creates global warming concerns" - The Christian Science Monitor News Service reports, "For years now, glaciers from Patagonia to the Swiss Alps have been watched for melt because of 'greenhouse' gases and the reputed global warming effect. But in South Asia, the question is not if the ice is melting - but how fast." Click here for some perspective on melting glaciers.

"Healthy lifestyles could prevent 80% of heart disease" - Reuters reports, " A healthy lifestyle -- including a low-fat, high-fiber diet, exercise, and moderate alcohol intake -- can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease, report Massachusetts researchers. A large study conducted in nurses suggests that a healthy lifestyle can cut heart risk by as much as 80%."

November 8, 1999

World's Best Hypocrisy? "Unsafe levels of dioxin found in Ben & Jerry's ice cream" - A new study reports, "Ben & Jerry's states in promotional literature that 'The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all.' An independent laboratory measured dioxin in Ben & Jerry's 'World's Best Vanilla'® ice cream. Assuming the measurement is correct and that it is representative of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and based on U.S. Government information about the potential health effects of dioxin, Ben & Jerry's ice cream may cause about two hundred of cases of cancer among its consumers." Send your comments to Ben & Jerry's.

Are you a professional risk expert? Junkman looking for signatories on amicus brief - If you are an expert in risk, PhDs preferred, you may be interested in signing an amicus (friend of the court) brief, I'm putting together. E-mail me for details.

"Let's Hear It for Sound Science and Common Sense" - Frank Garner writes in the Florida Grower, "Out there in the popular press, where agriculture frequently gets punched in the nose by environmental activists and anti-pesticide crusaders, fortunately there are also voices that balance all the political and emotional rhetoric with some much-needed sanity and science. Two of these voices belong to Bruce Ames and Michael Fumento."

"Toxin Threatens a Wonder of the Northwest" - The Washington Post reports, "Blubber samples from 47 live orcas showed PCB concentrations up to 500 times greater than those found in human beings. 'The levels are high enough to represent a tangible risk to these animals,' said Peter S. Ross, a research scientist with the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, British Columbia, and lead author of the study, titled 'High PCB Concentrations in Free-Ranging Pacific Killer Whales, Orcinus orca.'" Hmmm... sounds a lot like 'Unsafe levels of dioxin found in Ben & Jerry's ice cream,' doesn't it?

commentary of the day: "Dangerous Fictions About Bioterrorism" - D.A. Henderson, who wrote a back-cver endorsement of 'Silencing Science', writes in The Washington Post, "Biological terrorism is a hot media topic these days, but by confusing fact and fiction, coverage could cause more harm than good. While national security and public health experts become increasingly concerned about bioterrorism, misleading stories are appearing -- including the recent anthrax scenario on ABC's 'Nightline.'"

stupid government warning of the day: "Chewing Tobacco Use Linked to Dental Caries" - From the National Institutes of Health: "If you think a 'chaw' of tobacco won't hurt you, chew on this: Chewing tobacco users are more likely to develop dental caries, particularly on the root surfaces of their teeth, than those who don't use tobacco, say scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)." This is just in case the oral cancer warning doesn't work?

"Clean Air Counterattack" - Not surprisingly, The New York Times supports the Clinton Administration's lawsuit against Midwest power plants.

this week's scary anti-biotech ad: "Biotechnology=Hunger" - From the Turning Point Project.

"German scientist 'faked cancer research'" - The Guardian reports, "German university investigators are on the verge of exposing a 'scientific Chernobyl' involving scores of bogus scientific papers they claim were fraudulently published by a cancer research professor who duped the international medical community for 15 years. "

"Animal rights gang 'branded reporter'" - The Daily Telegraph reports, "An investigative journalist who infiltrated the Animal Liberation Front says he has been abducted by activists and branded on his back with the initials ALF."

"Galileo at the other end of the telescope" - The Boston Globe reports, "More than 350 years after his death, Galileo Galilei, the father of modern science, is enjoying a renaissance of revisionism... There's little doubt that Galileo's insistence that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of our planetary system put him at extreme odds with the Catholic Church and led to his being condemned and placed under house arrest for the last years of his life. But the picture emerging today is breathing new life into the man, providing context and texture to the one-dimensional anecdote that Galileo was a scientific crusader and enemy of Church. He was partly that. But now, from across three centuries, he is speaking to us about our 20th century battles over science vs. religion and creationism vs. evolution."

"Sickening Food" - Science News reports on food safety.

November 7, 1999

commentary of the day I: "EPA sneak attack" - About the federal lawsuit against Midwest power plants, The Indianapolis Star-News editorializes, "What this case boils down to is that the EPA is now aggressively interpreting the Clean Air Act in ways that no one in the industry could have ever predicted. It is trying to throw a penalty flag long after the game is over. Let's hope these lawsuits get what they deserve -- tossed out quickly."

commentary of the day II: "Challenging That Cheeseburger" - Danial Akst writes in The New York Times, "Imagine that you're a trial lawyer. You've noticed that Americans are getting fatter, and that the government blames obesity and inactivity for more than 300,000 premature deaths every year. You've also noticed that scientists believe fatty foods kill people, and that fast-food outlets are selling cheeseburgers with both hands."

'to do' of the day: Send a letter to Time about its anti-meat article - Here are some points to make about Will We Still Eat Meat? (Time, Nov. 8). E-mail your comments to letters@time.com.

"Pataki to Impose Strict New Limits on Auto Emissions" - The New York Times reports, "Gov. George E. Pataki will impose new state vehicle emissions standards that are more stringent than federal requirements, a step that is expected to help push the entire auto industry to develop lower-pollution cars, trucks and vans."

"Labour councils continue ban on British beef" - The Daily Telegraph reports, "Bans on British beef are still being maintained by Labour councils across the country at the same time as the Government fights to persuade Europe that it is safe to eat."

"Why Eating Is so Natural" - Ellen Rupert Shell writes in The Los Angeles Times, "Last month, the Journal of the American Medical Assn. reported that leptin, a hormone discovered five years ago by Rockefeller University researcher Jeffrey M. Friedman, is not the weight-loss panacea once hoped. Some will no doubt regard this finding as yet another disappointing setback in the effort to make sense of the obesity epidemic. But the announcement might more accurately be seen as evidence of how far we have come in understanding what was a totally baffling conundrum: why so many have lost the battle to achieve and maintain a healthy weight."

"Gulf veterans snub government" - The BBC reports, "A Gulf War veterans' association has broken off links with the government after accusing officials of "leaving old soldiers to die"."

November 6, 1999

be here Monday a.m.: Junkscience.com to announce major news - That's all I'll say and I'll say no more -- except that if I ran a certain business, I'd be re-evaluating my junk science-fueled marketing.

scare of the day I: "Mobile phone 'brain risk' " - The BBC reports, "Radiation emissions from mobile phones could place users at risk of brain conditions including Alzheimer's Disease, according to new reports."

scare of the day II: "Japan Sees Quake Risk at Nuclear Sites" - The Los Angeles Times reports, "Japanese activists and some seismologists point out that some of this earthquake-prone archipelago's 51 nuclear reactors are built in areas where quakes are likely. They also contend that four dozen nuclear-related treatment and processing facilities could also be prone to radiation leaks in the event the 'big one' strikes. 'I think the situation right now is very scary,' says Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University. 'It's like a kamikaze terrorist wrapped in bombs just waiting to explode.'"

commentary of the day: "Facing Up to Climate Shift" - The Los Angeles Times editorializes, "Few issues confronting policymakers seem harder to get a handle on than global warming. Many scientists definitely link hurricanes, floods, droughts and other natural disasters to climatic change. But many environmental activists base their predictions of dire calamity on speculative science and advocate politically unrealistic solutions."

error of the day: "Declaring war on a quiet epidemic" - The Chicago Tribune comments, "The Journal of the American Medical Association added new meaning to the term "fat of the land" last week when it published studies showing that obesity has reached near-epidemic proportions in the U.S." Sorry, but Mike Fumento beat JAMA to the punch with his 1998 book, "The Fat of the Land : Our Health Crisis and How Overweight Americans Can Help Themselves ."

junk commentary of the day: "Clouded vision on clean air" - The Boston Globe criticizes the U.S. for not agreeing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by 2002.

"FOCUS-UK extends commercial GM crops ban to 2002" - Reuters reports, "Britain on Friday extended for a further three years its ban on the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops." Click here for BBC coverage. Click here for coverage by The Independent.

"GM crops 'could be sold as food before trials are complete'" - The Daily Telegraph reports, "FOOD grown in farm trials of genetically modified crops could be sold for human or animal consumption within two years, the Government said yesterday. Until now, the crops grown in the field trials have been destroyed but Michael Meacher, Environment Minister, said this could end if Europe and national regulatory bodies approved the crops for human or animal consumption."

"Air study blames cars for cancer causing pollution" - The Environment News Service reports, "The most comprehensive study of urban toxic air pollution ever undertaken shows that motor vehicles and other mobile sources of air pollution are the primary source of cancer causing air pollutants in southern California."

"Fresh hopes of lifting beef ban in Berlin and Paris as Germans join latest talks" - The Independent reports, "German officials unexpectedly joined their British and French counterparts for talks over British beef yesterday, in a new sign that the latest negotiations could pave the way to a lifting of the ban by Berlin as well as Paris."

"No cancer risk from test-tube fertilization, research says" - Reuters reports, "Women who undergo test-tube fertilization programs are no more likely to develop breast or ovarian cancer than other women, an Australian research group said Friday after a 20-year study."

"Scientist debates conclusions on effects of cell phones" - Web MD reports, "A researcher, whose new study finds microwaves can harm rats' memory, says that extrapolating his findings to cell phones is premature. A Wired News article November 3 said scientists had linked memory problems in rats "with the microwaves emitted by mobile phones." But it would be premature to conclude that cell phones are dangerous, said University of Washington research professor Henry Lai, Ph.D., principal author of the research, to be published in the January issue of the journal Bioelectromagnetics."

"Greenpeace court victory prompts jobs warning " - The BBC reports, "Greenpeace campaigners are jubilant after winning a court case they brought to try to force the UK Government to give greater protection to marine life around the British coast."

"FOCUS-Canada ups cigarette tax, vows to cut smoking" - Reuters reports, "Canada on Friday said it was raising tobacco taxes in five eastern provinces and vowed to intensify its efforts to cut smoking, particularly among the young."

"US Farm Bureau wants WTO negotiations on GM crops" - Reuters reports, "The United States' largest farm organization wants upcoming World Trade Organization talks to include a negotiating group on market access issues surrounding genetically-modified (GM) crops."

November 5, 1999

be here Monday a.m.: Junkscience.com to announce major news - That's all I'll say and I'll say no more -- except that if I ran a certain business, I'd be re-evaluating my junk science-fueled marketing.

good news of the day: "In 1900, the prognosis was grim" - USA Today reports, "With all our problems at the end of the 20th century, we're at least fortunate that when we get sick, we can usually go to a doctor. And the doctor usually can do something to help make us better."

lawsuit victory of the day: "3M Wins Breast Implant Trial in San Diego" - "3M announced today that a jury in Judge Robert J. O'Neill's court, of the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Calif., found 3M not guilty of all counts alleged against it by plaintiff Marva Smith. Over the past five years, 3M has won in cases involving 18 plaintiffs, losing with just one plaintiff."

insanity of the day: "World Wide Hunger Strike" - I think he's wrong (and nuts), but the Notmilkman is on a hunger strike until bovine growth hormone is recalled by the FDA. I'm going to miss you, Bob.

commentary of the day: "Warning Signs" - Alan Caruba writes, "On Halloween, The Washington Post had a story about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation had discovered evidence of 'religious extremists, racists, cults and other groups preparing for violence as New Year’s Eve approaches.' I would dearly love to know what those 'other groups' are, but let me share my suspicion they are the eco-terrorists and the animal rights terrorists. I suspect they may have some dramatic and very nasty plans for the New Year’s weekend."

"Rats Dive into Cell Phone Debate" - Wired News reports, "Cell phones may cause long-term memory loss, a recent study on laboratory rats indicates."

"Toxic chemicals found in groundwater of some US cities" - Reuters reports, "While most US groundwater is safe to drink, a new report suggests that this may not be the case in certain cities in the eastern United States." Of course, you'll note, the study presents no evidence the water is usafe to drink.

"The waste of recycling" - Betsy Hart writes in Jewish World, "... maybe the trip to the end of the driveway has become a sort of religious pilgrimage. But if people really are determined to feel guilty about waste, they'd be better off feeling guilty about the waste involved in their recycling."

biotech/food round-up:

global warming round-up:

  • media release of the day: "Ministers pledge to finalize climate agreement by November 2000" - "Ministers and officials from 166 governments are concluding two weeks of climate change talks here after setting an aggressive timetable for completing the outstanding details of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol by November 2000, thus triggering its early ratification by governments."

  • study of the day: "A Possible 20th-Century Slowdown of Southern Ocean Deep Water Formation" - From Science (Nov. 5): "The rate of deep water production in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica may have been slowing down during the 20th century, which may explain why the planet is warming up. Fluctuations in deep water formation could be connected to 1500-year climate oscillations, like the thaw of Europe after the Little Ice Age (1350 - 1880 A.D.) and possibly even the trend of global warming since 1975, which some scientists link to human activity. Scientists already know that changes in upper ocean circulation are a key part of climate events like El Niño. Now, Broecker et al. suggest that cycles of deep water formation, which could affect deep ocean circulation patterns, may also trigger climate changes. After examining measurements of chlorofluorocarbon-11 (a marker of deep water formation) concentrations in the Southern Ocean, the researchers discovered an apparent two-thirds decrease in that ocean's rate of deep water production during the last 100 years, a dropoff that coincides with the end of the Little Ice Age. These findings could help decide whether the current warming trend is driven by natural or human causes."

  • "Cold, then warmer? La Nina may mean an ongoing climate change" - The Fresno Bee comments, "It's nearly impossible for an average person to judge the methodology of weather experts who offer differing views of global warming. What's notable is that these warnings are coming from the scientific mainstream and cannot be easily dismissed."
  • "Europe's climate forecast is hot" - The BBC reports, "Average temperatures across the continent are expected to rise between 0.1 and 0.4 degrees Centigrade each decade. Very hot summers will become at least twice as frequent as they are now and perhaps 10 times more frequent."

  • "California's environment threatened by global warming" - "A new two-year study by California's leading ecological scientists concludes that climate change poses a range of serious challenges for the state's environment and economy."

  • "Grandchildren and global warming" - "'If you want to know what our grandchildren will see when they go scuba diving in the Santa Barbara Channel 50 years from now, just take a look off the coast of Baja California; that's what they will see -- a completely different mix of species,' said Steve Gaines, director of the Marine Science Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara."

  • "Deadline for global warming deal" - The BBC reports, "Ministers have pledged to reach a deal within a year on how to go about reducing the greenhouse gas emissions which many scientists believe will cause global warming."

  • "Progress but no deal at global warming meet" - Reuters reports, "Environment ministers meeting in Bonn on Thursday went into the last round of talks designed to get nations to reduce pollution that causes potentially dangerous global warming."

tobacco round-up:

  • "Little Progress In Reducing U.S. Smoking -US Study" - Reuters reports, "Some 48 million Americans smoked in 1997, or about 24.7 percent of the nation's adult population, according to a U.S. government survey released Thursday, which one official said showed a 'total lack of progress' in reducing smoking during the past decade." Click here for MSNBC coverage. Click here for Associated Press coverage. Click here for Reuters coverage.

  • report of the day: "Smoked Out: Anti-Tobacco Activism at the World Bank" - A new report from the Institute of Economic Affairs says, "The World Bank (WB) has joined the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a world war on tobacco. As its initial broadside, the WB recently published an astonishing report. The following paper exposes the many follies and economic errors in what is not a decent economic study, but a document for crusaders. Whatever one's personal attitude to the poisonous weed, most past studies of the economics of smoking found that it has net social benefits (see e.g. K. Viscusi: Rational Risk Policy, OUP, 1998). Thus, for the US it was estimated that in 1993, the social costs and benefits per packet of cigarettes smoked were as follows. Social Costs: Medical care $0.55; Sick leave $0.01; Group life insurance $0.14; Fires $0.02; Second hand smoke $0.25; Local taxes on earnings $0.40. Total costs to society were therefore $1.37. Social benefits: Nursing home savings $0.23; Pensions and social security payments saved $1.19; Excise taxes paid $0.53. The total social benefits were $1.95, yielding a net social benefit of $0.58 per pack of cigarettes. The benefit could be even higher as this estimate takes at face value the highly disputed scientific basis for the dangers of secondary smoke."

  • "Rout of the new evil empire" - The Economist reports, "EVER since the collapse of communism, America has been casting around for a new enemy. Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic gamely volunteered for the role. But no great nation can define itself against such tinpot figures. Some Republicans want to demonise China. But American business is not willing to kiss goodbye to a billion potential customers. As for Pat Buchanan’s idea of going the whole hog and demonising all foreigners, it is rapidly turning him from a merely marginal figure into an irrelevance... With the release on November 5th of Michael Mann’s new film, 'The Insider', big tobacco takes yet another step towards filling the place once occupied by the Soviet Union."

  • "Disney Snuffs Out Most Smoking At U.S. Theme Parks" - Reuters reports, "Just months after banning tobacco sales at its U.S. theme parks, Walt Disney Co. said Wednesday it will now tighten smoking restrictions at the famous tourist attractions in Florida and California."

  • "American Cancer Society National Leaders Screen 'The Insider'; True Story Told in Motion Picture Prompts Anti-Tobacco Outrage" - "The national leadership of the American Cancer Society, the nation's leading voluntary health agency, today reacted with outrage to the events portrayed in the new motion picture 'The Insider'." For a reality check, check out Holman Jenkins' recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

  • "Smoking by young people" - An exchange between Philip Morris and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in the British Medical Journal.

"Cleaning the air: Every local jurisdiction must do its part" - The Dallas Morning-News comments, "Dallas Fort-Worth's air will be cleaner, and the region may avoid a federal anti-pollution crackdown, if final recommendations of the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee are put into effect."

"Millions, State's Rights, Worker Safety at Stake in Nuclear Shipment Lawsuit" - The Environment News Service reports, "The U.S. Department of Energy is suing the state of New Mexico over the state’s restrictions on hazardous waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson says the state permit requirements could cost taxpayers an additional $33 million and put workers at risk, but New Mexico officials say the federal government is breaking its promise to let the state oversee operations at the waste storage site."

"'Toxic air' in cabins, inquiry told" - The Australian reports, "Airline safety and the health of crew and passengers were at risk from the 'hidden issue' of toxins from jet oils contaminating cabin air, a Senate inquiry heard this week."

"Environmental Leaders, Scientists Demand Action on Contaminated Muds Dumped in America's Waters" - "On Tuesday, Nov. 9, environmental leaders and scientists from across America will demand action on contaminated muds that are dredged from harbors and dumped in America's waters, exposing people and the environment to deadly toxins."

November 4, 1999

junk report of the day: "America's Choice: Children's Health or Corporate Profit; The American People's Dioxin Report" - This is the "Technical Support Document" for the resurrected dioxin scare foretold by Junkscience.com last Tuesday. The document comes courtesy of Lois Gibbs and her Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Looney Lois, who grabbed the spotlight during the groundless health scare at Love Canal, assembled virtually the entire enviro community to help her drag out the tired, old dioxin horse and beat it to death yet again. Junkscience.com has obtained a copy of the report. It contains no new information, just warmed-over fearmongering (i.e., Dioxin is everywhere and is associated with virtually every illness). The report makes a number of unwarranted and extreme recommendations, including: ban municipal, medical and hazardous waste incineration; stop chlorine bleaching of paper; phase out PVC; stop production of the herbicide 2,4-D; and phase out coal-burning. I wonder why Looney Lois omitted "Return to the stone age"? My favorite aspect is the cast of characters that produced and reviewed the report, including: Arnold Schecter (U. Texas School of Public Health); Ted Schettler (Physicians for Social Responsibility), Linda Birnbaum (US EPA), Barry Commoner (Queens College), Lynn Goldman (former EPA pesticide chief), Philip Landrigan (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine), George Lucier (NIEHS), Dave Ozonoff (Boston University School of Public Health) and David Rall (formerly of the National Toxicology Program, now deceased). Get the butterfly net for this crew! And if America's choice is between corporate profits and the drivel of Looney Lois and the Enviro-clown Circus -- I'd like my dividends reinvested, please.

lawsuit of the day: "U.S. sues major utilities, alleging pollution-control violations" - The Associated Press reports, "In one of its largest environmental enforcement actions, the government Wednesday filed a series of lawsuits charging that 32 big electric utility companies and their subsidiaries made illegal repairs to facilities, causing the release of massive amounts of air pollutants throughout the Midwest and East Coast." The idea for this lawsuit was recently floated by New York State AG Eliot Spitzer. Here's what I had to say in the New York Post about that idea. Click here for New York Times coverage.

stupid quote of the day: Reno's rhetoric on shaky ground - In announcing a federal lawsuit against Midwest utilities, Attorney General Janet Reno said, "When children have trouble breathing because of pollution from a utility plant hundreds of miles away, something must be done." But Reno should know that the EPA's own experts on ozone transport doubt the significance of the phenomenon. The Ozone Transport Assessment Group says, "The distance of ozone transport between the precursor emissions and ozone removal is in the range of 150 to 500 miles. The transport of ozone manifests itself differently at the local, sub-regional and regional scales. In general, local (30-150 miles) transport contributes most to the non attainment of the 120 ppb standard. Beyond 100 - 200 miles the ozone concentrations tend to decrease with increasing transport distances. Statistical correlation analyses of the regional ozone pattern suggest ozone transport distances of up to 300-500 miles, but it is not clear to what extent this actually represents transport of ozone and/or precursors, or is a meteorological correlation." [From Final Report, Vol. I, OTAG Air Quality Analysis Workgroup, June 2, 1997.]" Unless Reno can connect local respiratory problems with the Midwest power plant emissions, it's unlikely that kids hundreds of miles away will be affected.

lefty fearmongering of the day: "Your cell phone is killing you" - From Mother Jones. No comment necessary.

crocodile tears of the day: "Environmental Panel's New Look" - The enviro-loonies are screaming about supposedly "mean" comments I made [music link] about who will assume the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee following the death of Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.). But as today's Los Angeles Times editorial and yesterday's San Jose Mercury News editorial indicate, the enviros are hypocrites (big surprise). The enviros only mourn Chafee's passing because he helped them in their cause.

junk commentary of the day: "Will We Still Eat Meat?" - As part of Time magazine's "Beyond 2000: 100 Questions for the Next Century," the editorial director of the Worldwatch Institute writes, "the era of mass-produced animal flesh, and its unsustainable costs to human and environmental health, should be over before the next century is out."

"Will Malthus Be Right?" - As part of Time magazine's "Beyond 2000: 100 Questions for the Next Century," Niles Eldredge writes, "The tide is running back toward Malthus."

food/biotech round-up:

global warming/ozone depletion round-up:

tobacco round-up:

"Church to create 'green' graveyard" - The Times reports, "The Church of England is to create its first "green" cemetery after demand from worshippers for an environmentally friendly burial."

"Reports track health problems among Hanford nuclear site workers" - The Associated Press reports, "Hundreds of former Hanford nuclear reservation workers are reporting a number of work related ailments, mostly diseased lungs and hearing loss, researchers said."

November 3, 1999

malpractice of the day: Consumer Reports isn't a physician, but plays one on the Internet anyway - From Consumerdistorts.com: Consumer Reports recommended tamoxifen, the alleged breast cancer prevention drug, to women last month. The recommendation was inappropriate at the time and, now, the current issue of The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Nov. 3) drives this point home. Even assuming tamoxifen works -- and the jury is still out -- the decision to take tamoxifen involves weighing the risks and benefits on an individual basis. It can only be made by a woman and her physician -- not a magazine whose reputation is derived from testing toasters.

terrorist deal of the day? White House strikes deal with PETA over chemical testing - The White House Council on Enviromental Quality (CEQ) and animal protection groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), have cut a deal concerning the new program to test the toxicity of 2,800 high production-volume (HPV) chemicals, according to Chemical & Engineering News (Nov. 1). Animal rights groups were concerned the testing program would cause too many animals to be killed. But official U.S. policy is NOT to deal with terrorist groups. So what is PETA and its ilk?

'you heard it here first' of the day: "Sen. Chafee's Son to Fill Term: Republicans Elect Smith to Chair Environment Committee" - Junkscience.com readers knew yesterday that Sen. Bob Smith would take over as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Although Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok) would have been a better choice than Sen. Smith (R-N.H.), Smith should be an improvement from the recently deceased Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.). Check out the response of the San Jose Mercury News. which calls Smith and Inhofe, "dumb and dumber."

'secret science' of the day: "NIH Not Told Of Deaths in Gene Studies: Researchers, Companies Kept Agency in the Dark" - The Washington Post reports, "Scientists and drug companies have failed to notify the National Institutes of Health about six deaths that occurred in gene therapy experiments in the past 19 months, keeping details of the deaths from becoming public, according to interviews with researchers and federal officials... Because they decided the deaths weren't caused by gene therapy, they argued, federal regulations don't require them to notify the NIH--a new interpretation of those regulations that stands in sharp contrast to the one held by NIH officials and a decade of practice. The researchers said they reported the deaths to the Food and Drug Administration, which keeps such information secret. But NIH officials in the federal office that oversees gene therapy are adamant that even deaths not initially believed to have been caused by the therapy must be reported to the NIH and made public, because often it is not clear until later whether the therapy actually caused the deaths."

'ready-fire-aim' of the day? "Circular Epidemiology" - University of Pittsburgh epidemiologist Lewis Kuller writes in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Nov. 1), "Circular epidemiology can be defined as the continuation of specific types of epidemiologic studies beyond the point of reasonable doubt of the true existence of an important assocation or the absence of an association... There is a very substantial risk that erroneous results of epidemiologic studies based on [circular epidemiology] will be used to deter effective public health and preventative medicine programs." This may sound reasonable but Kuller goes on to say "For example, industry has been very effective in using observational epidemiologic studies that have failed to demonstrate a relation between the amount of salt in the diet, especially from processed foods, and blood pressure levels to prevent a reduction in the amount of salt in processed foods." Hmmm...methinks the salt controversy is quite genuine. Further, a Medline search reveals that Kuller has been advocating reduced dietary salt for some time. Is "circular epidemiology" Kuller's new tactic in the jihad against dietary salt?

'letter to the editor' of the day? "DDT" - from Chemical & Engineering News (Nov. 1): Bette Hileman omitted several things in her Government Insights "Dilemma over malaria" (C&EN, Sept. 20, page 41). She never mentions that DDT is remarkably nontoxic to humans. People have eaten several ounces of DDT with no ill effects. During WWII, hundreds of thousands of people were literally doused with DDT powder in order to kill lice and fleas, and they suffered no apparent harm. Hileman reports that breast-fed babies in South Africa receive up to 18 times the maximun daily intake recommended by the World Health Organization, and the worst she can say is that some studies show it shortens time of lactation. It is persistent, yes, but not harmful to people. In discussing the increase in malaria cases, there was no mention of population growth, which is highest in many malarial regions. Global warming cannot be much of a factor, since the tropic and subtropic regions warm very little. Any warming affects mostly summer nights and winters in the high latitudes. However, reduced use of DDT is by far the main cause of the increase in malaria. On islands like Madagascar and Sri Lanka, malaria was endemic until it was virtually eliminated by DDT. Now, of course, it's resurgent. We could prevent most of the 500 million cases and 2.7 million deaths each year by carefully and sensibly increasing the application of DDT. My career has been spent in R&D, and it pains me to say that the day when there are "cheap, effective alternatives" to DDT may be far in the future. After all, over 50 years have passed since WWII. Elliott Doane, Oklahoma City. Don't forget to check out "100 Things You Need to Know About DDT."

'commentary of the day I: "Hypoxia Hysteria" - Michael Fumento writes in Forbes (Nov. 15), "They call it the "DEAD ZONE." It sure makes good copy. The two words appear in headlines in Newsweek, the New York Times and the Washington Post. In Science, it's "death by suffocation." The articles are all about fertilizer runoff that flushes down the Mississippi River basin, giving rise to algae blooms in the Gulf. When these die and decay, they suck the oxygen out of the ocean water, allegedly killing fish. Proposed solution to this environmental problem: Cut way back on nitrate fertilizer on farms and the number of farms themselves within the drainage basin of the Mississippi. It could be done, but it would be massively expensive and it might not accomplish any improvement in the Gulf. The truth is that no one knows exactly what's going on there, or what all the causes are."

'commentary of the day II: "Forget the Movie and TV Show. I'll Wait for the Book." - Holman Jenkins comments in The Wall Street Journal about the "The Insider," the new movie about tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand. Click here for more about Wigand.

"UK: Scotland; Mobile phone masts boom ahead " - The BBC reports, "A Scottish Parliament committee has heard that there will have to be a huge increase in the number of telecommunications masts and dishes over the next few years... The firms dismissed suggestions of any health risks and said if the planning authorities insisted on large exclusion zones of up to 200 metres around masts, whole areas of the city centres would be without mobile phone links."

"Study links childhood trauma and smoking; Children 'faced with a terrible burden of stressors'" - CNN reports, "People who have experienced certain negative situations during childhood, from abuse to a parent's divorce, are more likely to smoke, according to a study published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)." Click here for the study. Click here for Reuters coverage.

"Few Federal Checks Exist on the Growing of Crops Whose Genes Are Altered" - The New York Times reports, "The United States Agriculture Department, the primary agency responsible for assuring the ecological safety of such plants, has not rejected a single application for a genetically engineered crop. Scientists who studied the approvals say the department has frequently relied on unsupported claims and shoddy studies by the seed companies. Department officials defend their decisions but acknowledge that their system for weighing applications is evolving."

"Scientists see GM corn risk to butterflies limited" - Reuters reports, " Pollen from genetically modified corn may harm monarch butterfly caterpillars, but the pollen doesn't travel very far, suggesting there is limited risk to butterflies just a few feet away from the corn fields, researchers said on Tuesday." Click here for Washington Post coverage.

"Risks clear for Florida smokers, tobacco lawyers say" - Reuters reports, "A lawyer defending R.J. Reynolds Tobacco against potentially massive punitive damages in a Florida class-action case on Tuesday said a plaintiff who fell victim to lung cancer had been reminded of the risks of smoking every time she picked up a pack of cigarettes."

"French win new scientific inquiry into safety of British beef" - The Independent reports, "Britain unexpectedly agreed last night to a wide ranging new scientific study on the safety of its beef exports in what will be seen as a big concession to France." Click for coverage by The Guardian.

"Despite Global Warming, Southeast Cooler Last 50 Years" - "Despite record-breaking heat this summer and increased levels of greenhouse gases in our air, the climate in the southeastern United States actually has cooled slightly over the past 50 years. North Carolina State University atmospheric scientists have found that annual mean daily temperatures at 52 weather stations across the region have decreased, on average, 0.10 degree Celsius -- or about 0.18 degree Fahrenheit -- from 1949 to 1994."

"Ministers Trade Blame At Global Warming Meet" - Reuters reports, "The world's environment ministers met Tuesday to hammer out details of a deal on cutting emissions of polluting gases, but the conference air was filled with often bitter recriminations over slow progress."

"Developing countries point finger at richer states over climate change" - Agence France-Presse reports, "Ministers from tropical island states, Africa, Asia and Latin America warned richer countries wrangling over a world climate deal that they are facing an environmental catastrophe not of their making. Seychelles Vice President James Michel spoke of his country's coral reefs and marine life which, without urgent action, 'will soon be a relic of global lethargy.' He lashed the industrial states which had become economic giants but which 'now claim economic distress at the cost of submerging small island states.'"

"Informal talks to begin in global warming summit" - Reuters reports, "Environment ministers start informal talks on global warming on Wednesday deeply split over how mankind can pollute less without hindering economic growth."

"Europe, Argentina Make Climate Commitments" - The Environment News Service reports, "The 15 nation European Union has announced that it is "willing and ready to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by the Rio+10 Conference" in 2002. The Rio+10 conference marks the 10th anniversary of the 1992 UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro at which the UN Convention on Climate Change was signed."

"Report says that advances don't end need for radioactive waste site" - The Associated Press reports, "According to an Energy Department report to Congress, developing and using a new high-tech process to make some of the nation's radioactive waste less dangerous would not eliminate the need for a national waste storage facility."

"'Label perfumes that irritate'" - The BBC reports, "Skin experts want the international perfume industry to tell consumers whether their products contain chemicals which can cause skin irritation."

November 2, 1999

upcoming dioxin scare: "America's Choice: Children's Health or Corporate Profit; The American People's Dioxin Report" - A re-energized dioxin scare will hit on Thursday, November 4, courtesy of Lois Gibbs and her Center for Health, Environment and Justice. Looney Lois, who grabbed the spotlight during the groundless health scare at Love Canal, assembled virtually the entire enviro community to help her drag out the tired, old dioxin horse and beat it to death yet again. Junkscience.com has obtained a copy of the report. It contains no new information, just warmed-over fearmongering (i.e., Dioxin is everywhere and is associated with virtually every illness). The report makes a number of unwarranted and extreme recommendations, including: ban municipal, medical and hazardous waste incineration; stop chlorine bleaching of paper; phase out PVC; stop production of the herbicide 2,4-D; and phase out coal-burning. I wonder why Looney Lois omitted "Return to the stone age"? My favorite aspect is the cast of characters that produced and reviewed the report, including: Arnold Schecter (U. Texas School of Public Health); Ted Schettler (Physicians for Social Responsibility), Linda Birnbaum (US EPA), Barry Commoner (Queens College), Lynn Goldman (former EPA pesticide chief), Philip Landrigan (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine), George Lucier (NIEHS), Dave Ozonoff (Boston University School of Public Health) and David Rall (formerly of the National Toxicology Program, now deceased). Get the butterfly net for this crew! And if America's choice is between corporate profits and the drivel of Looney Lois and the Enviro-clown Circus -- I'd like my dividends reinvested, please.

quote of the day: Carol Browner: 20th Century Highwayman? - In response to the recent appeals court decision against the EPA's air quality standards, EPA administrator Carol Browner said, "We believe the soot and smog standards put in place almost two years ago ultimately will stand and deliver as promised protection of the health of 125 million Americans, including 35 million children." [Emphasis added.] Of course "stand and deliver" is a phrase used by 18th century English highwaymen, the translation being "Stick 'em up!" How appropriate for Carol Browner's air quality standards, the most expensive environmental regulation of all time -- more than $100 billion in annual compliance costs -- based on "secret science."

congressional news of the day I: "Bond Statement on New Study of OSHA's Ergonomics Rule" - "[A new] study raises serious questions about how far from reality OSHA is in their calculations of the impact for the ergonomics regulation," said Sen Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business.

congressional news of the day II: Sen. Smith to return to GOP and assume key committee chairmanship - Sen. Robert Smith (I-N.H.), who bolted the Republican party several months ago to become a presidential candidate from the Tax Reform Party, will rejoin the GOP and become chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The chair was made vacant by the death last week of Sen. John Chafee (R-R.I.).

biotech announcement of the day: "New studies due on Bt corn impact on butterflies" - Reuters reports, "Some 20 scientists who spent the summer trying to pinpoint whether genetically engineered Bt corn pollen can kill the monarch butterfly will release their findings [today]."

"Sen. Chafee's Death Shakes Environmentalists" - Reuters reports, "To hear environmentalists tell it, the death last week of Rhode Island Republican Sen. John Chafee has created a vacancy that cannot be filled."

"Little Women" - The Los Angeles Times reports, "Girls are hitting puberty sooner, but not because of hormone additives in food, experts say. The culprits? Better nutrition and changing sociological factors."

commentary of the day: "After a Crash, Fear Overtakes Logic" - John Allen Paulos writes in The New York Times, "Confronted with these plane crashes and the nonstop media coverage and speculation that accompany them, one might be excused for momentarily entertaining some strange ideas about a link among them. Indeed, some news reports have even implied that the Atlantic seaboard is a new Bermuda Triangle."

"Key Tobacco Case Enters Money Phase" - The Associated Press reports, "Lawyers for the industry were scheduled to give opening statements today in a landmark lawsuit that they fear could cripple the nation's cigarette makers."

"Firearms in the Home: Parental Perceptions" - A study in the November issue of Pediatrics reports, "Although the majority of gun-owning parents (53%) endorsed safe storage as the best firearm injury prevention strategy, 61% of parents who do not own firearms endorse not owning guns as the best way to prevent pediatric firearm injuries."

daffy-nition of the day: "New Efforts to Uncover the Dangers of Mercury" - The New York Times reports, "Most people think of mercury as the shiny liquid metal in thermometers. But it has other forms, and it is a less visible, and very toxic, kind -- methylmercury -- that is troubling scientists, environmentalists and government officials... But subtle, mostly neurological, effects of low doses are now emerging as the long-term legacy of mercury. Slower reflexes, reduced coordination and poorer vision are evident in people ingesting small amounts of mercury in fish. But the effects are difficult to measure and despite decades of study, experts disagree on the levels of mercury that are safe in air, water and food." [Emphasis added.] In the context of environmental health, a "subtle" health effect is one that has no credible scientific evidence to prove its existence. A synonym would be "make-believe."

"Global Warming Conference Heads Into High Gear" - Reuters reports, "An international conference on global warming moves into high gear Tuesday with environment ministers from around the world gathering in Bonn to hammer out details of a deal on cutting emissions of polluting gases."

"Complex Climate Talks Make Some Headway" - The Environment News Service reports, "Some progress has been made during the complex and intricate climate change talks at the Fifth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-5)."

"Gas stoves may increase asthma risk in adults" - Reuters reports, "The California researchers examined rates of asthma-related emergency room visits in more than 500 adults with asthma. They found that individuals who used gas stoves seven or more times per week had twice the rate of asthma-related emergency room visits compared with less frequent users or people who did not use gas stoves."

"Tough new smoking law takes effect in Hungary" - The Associated Press reports, "Men and women gathered outside Budapest offices Monday, dragging deeply on cigarettes as a new tough anti-smoking law took effect across the country."

"French may lift ban if British beef is labelled" - The Independent reports, "The European Commission hopes to resolve the Anglo-French beef crisis "this week", it said last night. A voluntary labelling scheme for British beef could lead to France lifting its ban and allay consumer fears in Germany."

"Seventh German state sticks to beef ban" - The Guardian reports, "Britain was last night anxiously monitoring another row over the safety of its beef as a seventh German state declared it would not lift its ban."

"Officials kept quiet over possible BSE risk from cosmetics" - The Guardian reports, "Government officials were for years worried that women might be at risk of infection from the BSE agent by using anti-ageing creams but never warned the public, it emerged yesterday." Click here for coverage by The Times.

November 1, 1999

survey of the day: "ER Physicians: 'FDA is Too Slow'" - "A new nationwide poll of emergency room physicians sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) finds that delays in FDA approval of new drugs and medical devices is viewed as a serious problem by a majority of these specialists. 'Despite recent changes, doctors remain dissatisfied with the slow place of the FDA approval process,' said CEI policy analyst Gregory Conko.

commentary of the day: "Science gap at the EPA" - Bonner Cohen writes in The Washington Times (Oct. 31), "Every now and then, an event occurs that is of such magnitude that in its wake things are simply not the same as they once were. Such may be the outcome of a landmark study in the Oct. 28 issue of the British science journal Nature. Scientists have uncovered a hole in our knowledge of many of the chemicals we regulate that is so deep that what has passed for reliable data about them are flawed at best, perhaps even entirely useless."

"Pro-GM food scientist 'threatened editor'" - The Guardian reports, "The editor of one of Britain's leading medical journals, the Lancet, says he was threatened by a senior member of the Royal Society, the voice of the British science establishment, that his job would be at risk if he published controversial research questioning the safety of genetically modified foods."

"German states to keep ban on beef" - The Guardian reports, "A new threat to beef exports surfaced yesterday when several German states said they would not accept British meat in spite of the EC ruling that it was safe."

"Bacterium 'was what started BSE'" - The Daily Telegraph reports, "Evidence supporting a theory that BSE was caused by bacteria found in contaminated water, sewage and the soil - not by a rogue prion protein - has been gathered by a team of British scientists."

"French move to end beef war - but a German battle looms " - The Independent reports, "The Anglo-French beef war was heading towards resolution yesterday as the two governments edged to a compromise which would allow British beef back onto the French market."

study of the day: "Stratospheric water vapour changes as a possible contributor to observed stratospheric cooling" - UK researchers report in Geophysical Letters (Nov. 1), "The observed cooling of the lower stratosphere over the last two decades has been attributed, in previous studies, largely to a combination of stratospheric ozone loss and carbon dioxide increase, and as such it is meant to provide one of the best pieces of evidence for an anthropogenic cause to climate change. This study shows how increases in stratospheric water vapour, inferred from available observations, may be capable of causing as much of the observed cooling as ozone loss does; as the reasons for the stratospheric water vapour increase are neither fully understood nor well characterized, it shows that it remains uncertain whether the cooling of the lower stratosphere can yet be fully attributable to human influences. In addition, the changes in stratospheric water vapour may have contributed, since 1980, a radiative forcing which enhances that due to carbon dioxide alone by 40%."

correspondence of the day: "U.S. Sperm Trend Conclusions" - An exchange of letters about sperm counts in the November issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

"Scientists Find MTBE Degrades Naturally" - Environmental Health Perspectives (November 1999) reports, "...naturally occurring microbes can digest MTBE and convert it into less toxic by-products."

"Indiana town grits its teeth over fluoridation vote" - The Associted Press reports, "Conspiracy theories are flying, teeth are decaying and a part-time magician is gulping down toothpaste to make a point. It's enough to make an outsider think there's something in the water. Actually, the issue gripping this eastern Indiana city on the eve of Tuesday's election is what's not in the water: fluoride. Dentists desire it, a group of safe-water activists fear it and City Council candidates in Tuesday's election wish the subject would just disappear."

"Canada wheat board looks to genetic segregation" - Reuters reports, "The chief of the Canadian Wheat Board said on Friday that the Canadian grain exporting agency must mobilize to identify and segregate genetically modified wheat and barley from natural grain."

"EU postpones decision on Agrevo, Monsanto GM crops" - Reuters reports, "The European Union said on Friday it had postponed a decision on whether to approve three new genetically modified organisms (GMOs), after government experts said they needed more time to consider the applications."

"GM beet could have health benefits - Novartis" - Reuters reports, "Genetically modified sugar beet can benefit consumers worried about bulging waistlines and heart disease, a sugar biotechnology executive said on Thursday."

"La Niña will whip up U.S. winter weather" - Science News reports, "The continuing La Niña contrasts with conditions over the past 23 years, during which the Pacific has hosted an unusually large number of strong and long appearances of El Niño. Some researchers have identified this shift as a potential sign of greenhouse warming, although others see it as a natural fluctuation."

"Impact of Air Pollution on Reproductive Health" - This editorial in Environmental Health Perpsectives (November 1999) claims, "Air pollution may have an impact on adverse reproductive outcomes in both females and males."

"Ministers to abandon action on pesticides" - The Daily Telegraph reports, "Plans for a green tax designed to reduce the use of pesticides have been abandoned after opposition from farmers."