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Archives - October 2002

October 31, 2002

"Popular weed killer feminizes native leopard frogs across Midwest" - "Atrazine, the most popular weed killer in the U.S., has now been shown to feminize native male leopard frogs throughout the nation's Corn Belt. UC Berkeley biologists found feminized leopard frogs in all atrazine-contaminated bodies of water sampled in a swath from Utah to the Iowa-Illinois border. Developmental endocrinologist Tyrone Hayes says the herbicide, also used widely outside the country, could be a factor in amphibian declines worldwide." (University of California - Berkeley)

"Frog Sex-Change Claims Flawed; Jumping to conclusions could hurt farmers and the environment" - "Churchville, VA, Oct 30, 2002 - A recent study by Tyrone Hayes and colleagues published in Environmental Health Perspectives and soon to be published in Nature, purports that low concentrations of the herbicide atrazine cause hermaphroditism in North American frogs. The study suffers from methodological shortcomings and data inadequacies that make data interpretation difficult and call into question the authors' conclusions. Scientific research favorably reviewed by the Center for Global Food Issues released this week also finds this study to be flawed." (Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues)

"MALARIA: Africa Meeting Addresses Dangers Of Insecticide Resistance" - "Scientists at the third annual meeting of the African Network for Vector Resistance to Insecticides said yesterday in Johannesburg that insecticide resistance in mosquitoes is complicating efforts to stop the spread of malaria, Africa's biggest killer, which claims the lives of one person every 30 seconds and 2,500 children under age 5 every day.

The World Health Organization recommends the use of insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent the spread of malaria, but parasite-carrying mosquitoes in many countries are resistant to the insecticide, delegates said, adding that women and children are the most vulnerable to the disease." (UN Wire)

"WHO sets out world's deadly top 10" - "Just 10 avoidable risk factors, including malnutrition, unsafe sex, smoking and poor sanitation, account for a massive 40 per cent of global deaths each year, warns the World Health Organization. The WHO's new data on patterns of death and illness appear in its World Health Report 2002, launched on Wednesday. The WHO says that cheap remedies exist and that governments of all countries can do more to prevent unnecessary and premature death. It concludes such countermeasures could extend average life expectancy by five to 10 years." (NewScientist.com news service)

"Modern food, ancient scare tactics" - "It’s easy to sound like a broken record when it comes to genetically improved food crops. More and more thinking people are starting to realize that biotech blackballing is based on fear, not science.

The latest research clearly indicates that farmers who grow genetically enhanced varieties tend to make more money and use less chemical pesticide in the process. Recent science shows that biotech crops can actually help the environment by preserving precious topsoil.

A recent issue of the journal Nature Genetics includes a study, issued by the University of Toronto, concluding that biotech foods “could save millions and millions of lives” in the Third World. And in the International Herald Tribune, the executive director of the UN World Food Program recently wrote that “all scientific risk assessments thus far show that the biotech foods now on the market are every bit as safe to eat as their conventional counterparts.” He adds that “the European Union recently cited 81 separate studies that support this view.”

So why is Europe still resisting this reliable, revolutionary technology? Why are countless poor sub-Saharan Africans dying of hunger, when a plentiful supply of modern food has been offered freely by Western nations? Why is the government of Zambia, for instance, refusing to let perfectly good food aid into the country, preferring instead to see millions starve? Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, “direct action” vigilantes, and even the “natural” food industry, all deserve some portion of the blame.

Hooded vandals are still ravaging the British countryside, pulling out environmentally incorrect plants by the roots. Five of them were jailed and fined last week, but they defiantly vowed to commit additional crimes.

Greenpeace Canada and INFACT (of Nestle boycott fame) are sounding alarms because the Canadian grocery chain Loblaws is supposedly selling “contaminated” baby food. Contaminated with what, you ask? Genetically improved ingredients. In response, the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph (Ontario) fired off a press release chastising Greenpeace for foisting its “erroneous” agenda on the public.

A French organic farmer interviewed in today’s Chicago Tribune made it clear just why the “natural” and “organic” food industry loves this kind of scare-mongering. “If there was a TV program the night before about mad cow or genetically modified organisms,” he said, “there would be new customers” the next day.

Dr. Norman Borlaug, who won a Nobel Prize for his work on the Green Revolution, sums it up nicely by urging policymakers to support new technologies and “stand up to the anti-science crowd.” He also notes that the “international donor community” has abandoned sound science because they are “afraid of antagonizing powerful environmentalist lobbying groups.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Tap Water Poses Risks, Study Says" - "The water that residents of California's largest cities get from their taps might meet most government safety standards, but it still poses some health risks and needs to be treated more thoroughly, according to a study scheduled to be released today by an environmental organization. The report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, titled "What's on Tap," concluded that antiquated waterworks and pollution are combining to affect the quality of drinking water residents receive in many cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco." (Los Angeles Times)

"For a Sickening Encounter, Just Turn on the Tap" - "KARACHI, Pakistan — Dr. Shahana Urooj Kazmi earned a Ph.D. in microbiology in the United States with research on camphylobacter, which causes diarrhea in infants. Now the chairwoman of the University of Karachi's department of microbiology, she can walk a novice through the gut-wrenching symptoms of e. coli, shigella, giardia and sundry other intestinal bugs with the detachment of a bored tour guide on a London double-decker.

Dr. Kazmi doesn't drink the water in Karachi. Enough said?

Well, not really. Plenty of cities have water problems. Few have water problems to rival Karachi's. One scientist here tied Karachi water a few years ago to 50 separate ailments. A second recent analysis by government water experts found at least 70 percent of all Karachi water samples fouled by microbes, chemical pollutants, or both." (New York Times)

"New York's trash holds steady; Big Apple residents throw out less than their grandparents" - "New Yorkers throw out about the same amount of trash as they did 100 years ago, a survey has shown. But the ingredients of garbage have changed radically, with a shift to organic waste that releases greenhouse gases. Garbage peaked at 940 kg per person in 1940, according to the city's records. The least wasteful years were 1961 and 1963, during which each citizen chucked out a mere 320 kg. "This really debunks the myth that urban citizens discard more than they did before," says Daniel Walsh, a geochemist at Columbia University in New York City. "Their grandparents discarded twice as much as they do now." (Nature Science Update)

"La Niña? El Niño? New York Calls the Whole Drought Off" - "New York City lifted its emergency drought declaration yesterday, suspending restrictions on water use that were imposed in April, when falling reservoir levels presented the likelihood of yet another crisis in a city already facing more than enough of them. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the frequent drenching rains that swept across the region in recent months, particularly in September and October, nudged the city's reservoirs back to about 68 percent of capacity, almost precisely normal for this time of year. When the restrictions end on Friday, New Yorkers will be able to wash their cars again, and the city's fountains will resume their old effervescence." (New York Times)

"Increasing nitrogen in Earth's soils may signal global changes, say U. of Colorado researchers" - "The rapid increase of nitrogen falling from the sky as a result of fossil-fuel combustion and crop fertilization, combined with carbon stored in Earth's soils, could change the rate of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rising into the atmosphere, according to a new study spearheaded by University of Colorado at Boulder researchers." (University of Colorado at Boulder)

"Global efforts to combat climate change shifting into action, Annan says" - "30 October – Global efforts to combat climate change are shifting towards realizing existing international goals, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message to a key gathering in New Delhi on the leading treaty designed to address the weather phenomenon. In his message to the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Mr. Annan said the gathering “marks a transition in which the focus is increasingly on implementation of what has been achieved.” (UN News)

"India ensures heated start to climate conference" - "A global conference on climate change got off to a bad start yesterday when the Indian government omitted all reference to the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the draft declaration to be signed by more than 180 countries, including Britain. The draft includes no commitment to reduce pollution in the future, either." (The Guardian)

"India rejects pressure to cut greenhouse gases" - "NEW DELHI, India -- India, one of the world's most populous but poorest countries, rejected pressure for poor nations to step up efforts to cut gases that contribute to global warming. Developing countries struggling to feed their hungry produced only a tiny fraction of greenhouse gases and could not afford the cost of extra emissions cuts, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said in opening ministerial talks at a U.N. climate conference on Wednesday." (Reuters)

"Don't Blame Poor Nations for Global Warming - India" - "NEW DELHI, Oct 30 - India, host to an ongoing U.N. conference on climate change, set the tone Wednesday for the final stretch of negotiations by saying that developing countries should not be expected to cut emissions when they needed to take care of their impoverished, hungry people first." (IPS) | Who stands where at the climate meet (Times of India)

"Dirty dealing in Delhi; Bush bullies the world on climate change" - "The Bush administration has never disguised its contempt for the Kyoto protocol, which aims to curb global warming. George Bush pulled out of the climate change deal on arriving in office, saying it would place unacceptable limits on American growth. The president was not prepared to contemplate changing the way Americans produced and consumed energy. So the United States continues to burn coal, oil and gas - which lifts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is slowly cooking the earth's weather system - altering it, perhaps irrevocably, and ensuring floods and droughts appear more frequently. Although the president's team have belatedly been forced to accept the phenomena of climate change, they have done little about it. The US remains a country which is powered by coal, where people instinctively drive rather than walk and where masses let the plane take the strain. George Bush's message, which echoes his father's, is clear: the American way of life is not up for negotiation." (The Guardian)

"USA Holds Back Agreement on Global Warming" - "NEW DELHI, India, October 30, 2002 - The refusal of the United States to support the Kyoto Protocol continues to hamper negotiations at the United Nations climate change conference. As the talks near completion, deep divisions remain between negotiators over the roles of the industrialized and developing worlds in the effort to address climate change." (ENS)

"Michael McCarthy: Kyoto was never going to save the earth, anyway" - "It is a treaty written by environmental activists for ordinary people - who will not make these sacrifices" (Independent)

Actually Mike, it can't work because it's based on the flawed premise that, by tinkering with a few variables, we can 'control' a coupled, non-linear, chaotic system. Kyoto is not, nor can it ever be about climate.

"Climate Credits from Hydropower Dams Challenged" - "NEW DELHI, India, October 29, 2002 - Seven hydropower dam projects in Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uganda that have been proposed for climate emissions credits under the Kyoto Protocol are just business as usual and will not reduce emissions, charge two rivers protection organizations.

In a report issued at the international climate negotiations taking place this week in New Delhi, the International Rivers Network of Berkeley, California and CDM Watch of Bali, Indonesia claim that these big hydro projects could undermine the entire Kyoto Protocol by providing carbon reduction credits for projects that do not reduce the totality of global greenhouse gas emissions." (ENS)

"INTERVIEW - EU's Prodi says he's banking on a hydrogen future" - "BRUSSELS - With energy firms and green groups racing to find a fuel source which can wean the world off its oil dependency, Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission, is banking on an eventual winner: hydrogen. Gram for gram, hydrogen produces more energy than any other substance and produces only water and energy when burnt, making it the green fuel of the future for its supporters. But making and storing it is still far costlier than traditional fuels." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - New RSPCA chief puts WTO in her sights" - "LONDON - The new director general of Britain's leading animal welfare charity - the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - wants the World Trade Organisation to start taking animal rights seriously." (Reuters)

"When corn is king" - "The ubiquitous vegetable is wreaking havoc on everything from public health to foreign policy, argues writer Michael Pollan." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Green Technology" - "DES MOINES -The chairman of Syngenta, the Swiss-based agricultural firm, said last week that the way to reduce world hunger and preserve the environment is to produce much more food on roughly the same amount of land - and the way to do that is through technology.

The chairman, Heinz Imhof, who is a trained agronomist, spoke here in the middle of Iowa on Friday at a symposium honoring the 2002 winner of the World Food Prize. The $250,000 award goes each year to men and women - mainly agricultural scientists, often from developing countries - who have done the most to reduce hunger and boost the global supply of food." (James K. Glassman, TCS)

"Playing on plants' own genetic material to breed-in desirable traits" - "Research pointing to a wide range of natural genetic variations in plants and animals could make the idea of genetically modified food more palatable." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"When is a vegetable not a vegetable?" - "The potato might seem undeniably a vegetable. But Monsanto Corp. has modified the humble tuber to the point where the government no longer classifies some varieties as vegetables." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Slowing insect resistance to genetically modified crops" - "Genetically modified Bt crops are now widely used in the USA. These crops contain genes from bacteria that make them toxic to some insect pests. A central concern in regulating these genetically modified crops is the risk of insects evolving resistance to the Bt toxins. To reduce this risk, the "high dose/refuge" strategy is now being used, in which non-Bt fields (refuges for insect pests) are planted near Bt fields (where there is high dose of toxin)." (Blackwell Publishing Ltd )

"Legislators mull biotech wheat liability, Monsanto fights back" - "A US senator is fighting to make biotech companies liable for contamination of crops grown near fields of GM grain. Senator Bill Bowman plans to introduce a bill giving farmers in North Dakota the right to sue biotech companies for damages if their wheat is contaminated by biotech grain, reported the Associated Press. Bowman said wheat farmers need some way to collect damages if their organic or non-biotech crops are contaminated, especially in a windy state. "There is no question in my mind [...] that this is going to cross-pollinate with our varieties of spring wheat. The extent of that only time will tell," Bowman said." (just-food.com)

"Europe shows little taste for U.S. biotech crops" - "BUTOW, Germany -- After three years of testing a new crop on their farm in the rugged countryside north of Berlin, the Niehoff family reached an inescapable conclusion. Germany isn't ready for a biotech potato. Even as farmers in America are completing their biggest harvest yet of genetically engineered food, the Niehoffs, along with the rest of Europe, are shunning the stuff. "The whole way of thinking in America is different about that," said Inka Niehoff, a 22-year-old agriculture student who studied for a year in Wisconsin and Oklahoma. "It makes life easier for the farmer, but it's the consumer who doesn't want it. Everyone is afraid of it." (Chicago Tribune)

"Criticism of Zambia's GM decision" - "A Zambian opposition party has criticised the government's decision to reject a donation of genetically-modified food aid for nearly three million of its people facing famine. A leader of the UPND opposition party, Saqwibo Sikota, told the BBC's Network Africa that there was no scientific evidence that such food was harmful for consumers. "We have a lot of GMO foods already coming into Zambia and it seems a bit hypocritical to say we can't have the GMO maize" he said." (BBC News Online)

October 30, 2002

"Gene-Mappers Take New Aim at Diseases" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 — A $100 million project to develop a new kind of map of the human genome was announced today by an international consortium. Its goal is to hasten discovery of the variant genes thought to underlie common human diseases like diabetes, asthma and cancer." (New York Times)

"Japan carmakers off hook in landmark pollution suit" - "TOKYO - A Japanese court yesterday ordered the central and Tokyo city governments to pay compensation for health problems caused by diesel exhaust fumes but rejected a demand that vehicle makers be made to pay as well." (Reuters)

"Natural disasters could cost $70 billion this year, UN environment agency says" - "29 October – The financial toll from natural catastrophes worldwide could top $70 billion by the end of this year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today. Releasing findings of a study conducted by a re-insurance company called Munich Re which is part of the agency’s Finance Initiative, UNEP told delegates attending a climate change meeting in New Delhi that disasters have already cost countries about $56 billion during the first three quarters of this year." (UN News)

"Coral reefs serve as records for reconstructing climate and storm patterns" - "A recent study of coral formations in different tropical locations will be used to help geologists reconstruct climate and storm patterns of the past and to learn more about reef preservation." (University of Cincinnati)

"Antarctica's hungry birds seek shelter off Britain" - "We knew they wandered, but not this far. In a series of phenomenal journeys, the seabirds of the Southern Ocean, of Tristan da Cunha and the Falkland Islands and Antarctica, are coming to Britain and the north-east Atlantic in increasing numbers. Their unprecedented trips to the opposite end of the globe may be linked, some scientists think, to climate change and its effect on the productivity of plankton and the organisms at the bottom of the food chain." (Independent)

"Has the Historical Rise in the Air's CO2 Content Negatively Impacted Human Health?" - "Summary: For those of you who regularly read CO2 Science Magazine, the answer should come as no surprise. It has not. In fact, just the opposite is more likely to be true." (co2science.org)

"Biodiversity (Among Genotypes)" - "Summary: Atmospheric CO2 enrichment is often thought to be a selective factor among genotypes of a given plant species on the assumption that it elicits a range of growth responses among them. A mounting body of evidence, however, suggests this concept may be the exception rather than the rule." (co2science.org)

"Health Effects of Temperature (Cardiovascular)" - "Summary: Will global warming be bad for our cardiovascular health?" (co2science.org)

"CO2 to the Rescue ... Again!" - "Summary: Atmospheric CO2 enrichment helps plants cope with any number of environmental threats to their existence. Now comes a study that shows how it does the same for soil microbes, and how the carbon sequestration consequences of this phenomenon may likewise benefit a host of other life forms." (co2science.org)

"Arctic Sea Ice Trends" - "Summary: The 1979-1999 trend in Northern Hemispheric sea-ice extent is decidedly downward, as would be expected for a globally warming world. Nevertheless, finer-scale observations suggest we should not be too quick to accept the latter phenomenon as the cause of the former. Polar Geography 24: 1-12." (co2science.org)

"More Controversy Over Earth's "Adaptive Infrared Iris" - "Summary: A clashing of the minds is a far cry from a meeting of the minds; and until the latter occurs with respect to certain important meteorological phenomena having significant implications for earth's future climate, it seems premature to vociferously lobby for drastic actions to reduce anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 2: 99-101." (co2science.org)

"Floods and Droughts: How Bad Can They Get?" - "Summary: The story coming out of southern Manitoba in Canada suggests they could be a heck of a lot worse than they have been throughout the entire period of European settlement. All it takes is a cooler climate. Quaternary Research 58: 103-111." (co2science.org)

co2science.org would appreciate your help: "Contribute to the Center" - "The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change is a 501(c)(3) public charity that relies heavily upon the readers of CO2 Science Magazine to supply its budgetary needs. While other magazines and journals often charge annual dues and subscription fees in excess of $100, our electronic journal has remained free to anyone with a computer and access to the Internet. Please help us keep it that way by sending your generous donation today." (co2science.org)

"Greens Protest Stance at UN Climate Talks" - "Lambasting a United Nations-sponsored meeting on climate for failing to provide a platform for those communities already affected by pollution-related climate change, environmental groups said Tuesday that they would mobilize a global network to amplify these voices.

The decision was taken at the end of a weekend meeting of environmental groups and people's movements, which was held parallel to the official eighth Conference of the Parties (COP-8) negotiating the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in the Indian capital of New Delhi." (OneWorld South Asia)

"U.N. Climate Negotiations Back on Track" - "NEW DELHI, Oct 29 - Concerted efforts by the European Union, China and the Group of 77 bloc of developing countries appear to be getting the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol back into the 'Delhi Declaration', expected to be issued at the close of a 10-day U. N. conference on climate change here on Friday. ''The negotiations are going better and we are convinced that we will find a good result,'' Thomas Becker, who represents the EU at the eighth Conference of the Parties (COP-8) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said at a press briefing Tuesday. Becker's optimism contrasted with the EU's disappointment on Monday, when it was discovered that the first draft for the Delhi Declaration did not even mention the Kyoto Protocol, which the EU ardently supported through several rounds of negotiations." (IPS)

"Provinces grumble as Canada pitches Kyoto treaty" - "HALIFAX, Nova Scotia - Canada is still set to ratify the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming this year, even as its provinces grumble at its terms and insist that they should not foot the bill, Environment Minister David Anderson said. Speaking at the end of a one-day meeting in a Halifax casino, Anderson acknowledged he did not set the agenda to ratify the treaty, which would oblige Canada to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. But he said the chance of delay was "highly unlikely," despite complaints from the provinces that a government plan on how Canada will meet the Kyoto targets is short on detail about what ratification will cost and on who needs to act." (Reuters)

"Chrétien says he won't meet first ministers before ratifying Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is refusing to meet with the premiers before the federal government moves to ratify the Kyoto accord." (CBC News)

"Delhi climate talks split on Kyoto" - "Countries attending a UN meeting on climate change are divided over what should be included in the final document of the conference.

Delegates from 170 countries are divided on the text of the Delhi Declaration, which will sum up the discussions of the 10-day meeting. As drafted at present, the declaration excludes any reference to the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to be implemented next year and which sets targets to cut the emission of greenhouse gases and restrict global warming. The final declaration is said to concentrate more on how countries should prepare and adapt for climate change rather than stop it happening." (BBC News Online)

"Upgrading dams could light 30 million US homes" - "NEW YORK - While solar and wind power capture the fancy of environmentalists, the hunt for new cheap, renewable sources of electricity needs to look no further than existing dams. According to Voith Siemens Hydro Power, campaigning to upgrade generating equipment at the nation's hydropower projects, an additional 30,000 megawatts could be squeezed from those dams, enough to run about 30 million homes. That adds up to eight times more power than currently flows from all the wind power facilities in the country combined." (Reuters)

"Oregonians not fooled by green food scare" - "Next Tuesday, Oregon voters will be asked to decide whether or not to force food companies to label foods that were prepared using genetically improved methods, “even if the final product shows no trace of biotech ingredients. The campaign for this edict, organized by organic food marketers and environmental scaremongers, recently attracted the support of Paul McCartney, who recorded a 30-second radio commercial endorsing the measure.

But it looks like not even nostalgic Beatlemania or alarmist cries of “bioterrorism” will save Oregon’s “Measure 27” from defeat next week. KGW television is reporting new polling numbers showing that 65 percent of Oregon voters are opposed to the ballot question.

It’s not yet clear just why Oregonians are rejecting anti-biotech hysteria so forcefully. Perhaps it’s the widely reported estimate that forcing labels on genetically improved foods would cost the average family over $550 per year, as food companies would have to pass their expenses on to consumers. Or maybe it’s the concern that restaurants would go broke trying to track biotech ingredients, or even adding daily “genetic disclaimers” to their menus. The president of one upscale restaurant group told Salem’s Statesman Journal that restaurateurs would quickly see a “closed for business” label slapped on Oregon if Measure 27 passes.

Regardless of their reasons for opposing an expensive, needless labeling mandate, Oregonians should know two things. First, federal courts have already ruled that similar laws passed in other states are unconstitutional. And second, there’s an ulterior motive behind social activists’ calls for biotech food labels. Some have been boasting for 5 years that labeling “has the same effect as a ban.” Andrew Kimbrell of the misnamed Center for Food Safety spelled out the battle plan back in 1997. “We are going to force people to label this food,” he told an on-line magazine. “If we have it labeled, then we can organize people not to buy it.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"FEATURE - Gene-altered cotton brings hope to Indian farmers" - "IDAR, India - Farmers have hailed India's nod for the commercial production of genetically modified cotton, after a protracted controversy, welcoming it as a miracle solution for hard-hit cotton growers. "It's certain to change the fortunes of the cotton industry," said Ishwarbhai Patel, a cotton farmer in Idar, a drought-prone town in the western state of Gujarat. "It's a huge relief for us because spending on pesticides was so much." The arrival of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton has huge significance because the country devotes nine million hectares to growing cotton - more than any other country - but whose yields are much lower." (Reuters)

"Puerto Rico Host to Experiments on 'Pharm Crops'" - "SAN JUAN, Oct 29 - Puerto Rico is host to open air field experiments with genetically modified (GM) plants unfit for human consumption as food, according to a recent report by Genetically Engineered (GE) Food Alert, a U.S.-based coalition of environmental and consumer advocacy groups." (IPS)

"Zambia slams door shut on GM relief food" - "Zambia set a controversial precedent for developing countries yesterday by confirming that it would not accept genetically modified relief food despite the threat of famine. The government said that concerns about the impact on health and the environment made the food too risky to be distributed to an estimated 3 million hungry people." (The Guardian)

One assumes the whackos are really proud...

October 29, 2002

"Don't Blame Columbus for All the Indians' Ills" - "Europeans first came to the Western Hemisphere armed with guns, the cross and, unknowingly, pathogens. Against the alien agents of disease, the indigenous people never had a chance. Their immune systems were unprepared to fight smallpox and measles, malaria and yellow fever. The epidemics that resulted have been well documented. What had not been clearly recognized until now, though, is that the general health of Native Americans had apparently been deteriorating for centuries before 1492." (New York Times)

"Branson targets Aids and malaria in African campaign" - "Sir Richard Branson is considering a move back into condoms, 14 years after his Virgin Group sold its Mates brand. He is also commissioning a study to assess whether the DDT pesticide should be reintroduced, on a limited basis, on to the African continent to quell the spread of malaria. The two initiatives would be conducted under the auspices of Sir Richard's private Health care Foundation and reflect his growing concern about the spread of Aids and malaria in Africa." (The Guardian)

"Thirst Quenchers" - "It's often said that water shortages are leading to conflict and may lead to wars in the future. The United Nations is so concerned with global water issues that it has designated next year as the year of Freshwater. Even the symposium of the World Food Prize, held in Des Moines, Iowa last week, concentrated on the coming water shortage. Despite the attention paid to water, there is very little understanding about what prompts water shortages and other water-related problems. The main reason water is in such short supply is that it is subsidised, supplied and sold by governments in nearly every country of the world. Markets are rarely to be seen; and when they are, they are never free." (Roger Bate, TCS)

"Lake level fuels climate concern" - "The water level in a remote central Asian lake has risen markedly since 1998, suggesting that global warming is now a reality. Scientists here say they believe the rise is linked to climatic changes." (BBC News Online)

"COMPUTER MODEL SUGGESTS FUTURE CROP LOSS DUE TO POTENTIAL INCREASE IN EXTREME RAIN EVENTS OVER NEXT CENTURY" - "An increased frequency of extreme precipitation events has been observed over the last 100 years in the United States. Global climate models project that similar trends may continue and even strengthen over the coming decades, due to climate change. Now, a study using computer climate and crop model simulations predicts that U.S. agricultural production losses due to excess rainfall may double in the next 30 years, resulting in an estimated $3 billion per year in damages." (NASA/GSFC)

"UN climate meet in India divided over Kyoto pact" - "NEW DELHI - The European Union slammed a draft declaration at a U.N. climate convention in the Indian capital yesterday for not mentioning the Kyoto accord on reducing global warming. "The European Union thinks the declaration is not strong enough. It should include the Kyoto Protocol," conference spokesman Michael Williams said. Delegates from 185 countries are attending the conference, likely to be the last major climate meeting before the protocol is expected to take effect. The draft drawn up after the first five days of discussions at the 10-day meeting said "climate change and its adverse effects should be considered within the framework of sustainable development through enhanced international cooperation." (Reuters) | EU Furious over Weak U.N. Draft on Climate Change (IPS)

"Russia Goes Cool on Kyoto" - "A media report from India, suggests that Russia may not ratify the Kyoto Protocol this November after all. The First Secretary of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nikolai Pomoshnikov, is quoted as saying "We have sent the Protocol documents to different ministries for their assessment and if we decide to ratify it, various domestic laws too would have to be amended and so it will take at least three months to one year to decide over ratification". With some reports that Canada is also seeking to re-negotiate some of its Kyoto terms, it seems the Protocol is not likely to be up and running this year - if ever." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"TWIN THREATS TO KYOTO TREATY" - "European Union officials and environmentalists criticized two developments at talks in New Delhi aimed at curbing global warming. One was a retreat by Russia from its announced plans to speedily ratify the Kyoto protocol, the first to require cuts in heat-trapping gases. Russia's delegate said the details needed more study. The other issue was a draft declaration from negotiators halfway through the 10-day conference that appeared to reflect the views of the Bush administration, which rejected the pact last year. Without American participation, ratification by Russia is essential for the treaty to have legal force." (Andrew C. Revkin, NYT Briefs)

"World is Not for Sale, Negotiators Told at U.N. Meet" - "NEW DELHI, Oct 28 - It seemed a world away from the carpeted, perfumed and air-conditioned halls of Vigyan Bhavan (House of Knowledge), where the fate of the world's fragile atmosphere is being bartered and haggled over under the auspices of the U. N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Here at a rally of fishermen, rickshaw pullers, peasants and activists ending a two-day Climate Justice Summit on Monday, there were no slick brochures and promotional compact discs of the sort being distributed at the U.N. meeting that started Oct. 23 and ends Friday.

There was also none of the diplomatic thrust and parry, loaded press briefings, incomprehensible jargon and legalese, cocktails and sumptuous dinners attendant on the Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP-8) of the UNFCCC.

Instead, there was the unambiguous declaration that sought to fool nobody: ''Our World is Not For Sale,'' stated repeatedly and in unison by nearly 5,000 marchers that came to the Indian capital for the occasion, hailing not only from distant Indian states but from several countries - developed and developing." (IPS)

"Three provinces foment Kyoto accord rebellion; Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C. work to ditch federal plan" - "HALIFAX - Three provinces opposed to the Kyoto Protocol are banding together to tell the federal government they are ready to go ahead with their own "made-in-Canada" plans. Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan are trying to persuade other provinces to join their revolt over Kyoto, reject Ottawa's plan and substitute their own approach to dealing with global warming. The dissident provinces want more time to deal with reducing greenhouse gases and seek an approach that will not harm their economies. David Anderson, the federal Environment Minister, said Ottawa wants to be flexible in implementing the treaty and is willing to listen to the different plans being put forward by the provinces." (National Post)

"Kyoto opponents want to stall planned ratification by Canadian government" - "TORONTO - Canada's provincial governments sought Monday to delay the nation's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by proposing a meeting on the matter in January.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien has said Parliament would vote on ratifying the protocol by the end of the year. Chretien's Liberal Party holds a solid majority in the federal legislature, making approval likely.

Ratification by Canada, one of the world's major producers of industrial pollution, is crucial for the protocol negotiated by more than 100 countries in 1997." (Associated Press)

"Provinces Grumble as Canada Pitches Kyoto Treaty" - "HALIFAX, Nova Scotia - Canada is still set to ratify the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming this year, even as its provinces grumble at its terms and insist that they should not foot the bill, Environment Minister David Anderson said on Monday." (Reuters)

"Work-at-home plan targets gas emissions" - "EDMONTON - Workers who do their jobs from home could soon be putting money in their employers' pockets under an Alberta pilot project that gives companies tradable greenhouse-gas credits for keeping their employees off the road.

The plan, which enjoys strong support within the Alberta government, is expected to provide a glimpse of the post-Kyoto era, in which Canadians work from their home computers for a couple of days each week rather than driving to a central office. It is also expected to produce the country's first organized market in emissions credits -- a concept envisioned under the Kyoto accord but which has not yet been introduced in Canada." (National Post)

"FEATURE - Car of the future or a lot of hot air?" - "PARIS - Visionary 19th century French writer Jules Verne once described a fantastical future world where cars would run on air. He may not have been totally wrong. Inventor, car enthusiast and environmentalist Guy Negre has built a car powered by compressed air and hopes it will be chuffing along roads across the world within the next few years. Inside Negre's car, cold air compressed in tanks to 300 times atmospheric pressure is heated and fed into the cylinders of a piston engine." (Reuters)

"Labels, shmabels… is it safe?" - "We saw this coming a mile away. On the heels of last week’s launch of the US Department of Agriculture’s new organic food labels, that same agency is now warning consumers that organic fruits and veggies might not be all that desirable after all.

The Reuters news wire is reporting on the comments of Elsa Murano, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety, who spoke at last week’s World Food Prize symposium in Iowa. Murano warned, says Reuters, that “consumers should be wary of organically grown foods.”

“We must remember,” Murano told her Des Moines audience, “that bacteria and parasites are also all-natural.” Murano defended the use of preservatives in conventionally grown produce, which she said are there “to preserve food against the growth of microorganisms” found abundantly in manure-grown organic varieties.

Elsewhere, the Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI) notes that E.coli bacteria, “a deadly pathogen found in every cattle herd the USDA has tested, is found in the manure which organic farmers use as a primary source of fertilizer.” This organism, says CGFI, “afflicts an estimated 20,000 people in the United States each year, killing up to 500.”

None of this seems to matter to hard-core organic food activists. Their chief complaint lately has been that the organic movement has been “taken over” by large companies. “When we said organic,” whines Joan Gussow in USA Today, “we meant local.” These same corporations, of course, have the resources to ensure that the marketplace has organic foods that are safe to eat." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"GM cells help fight cancer" - "Specially adapted stem cells could help patients beat advanced blood cancers, researchers say. The genetically modified cells are "strengthened" so they are not damaged by chemotherapy. Cancer Research UK scientists say the new technique could make stem cell transplants safer and more effective." (BBC News Online)

"Europe's Biotech Madness" - "FOR FOUR YEARS the European Union has refused to license new genetically modified crops. It has pursued this policy even though Americans eat biotech products every day without apparent ill effects; even though European tourists arriving in America do not generally bring suitcases full of non-modified food with them; even though Europe's own health commissioner says the ban violates international trade rules; and even though an anti-biotech policy discourages developing countries from embracing a technology that could greatly boost their farm output. Last week the Europeans made a show of renouncing their absurd policy. Unfortunately, it was only a show." (The Washington Post)

October 28, 2002

"Author of Gun History Quits After Panel Faults Research" - "ATLANTA, Oct. 26 — An Emory University professor has resigned after an academic panel released a report strongly critical of his research for a widely debated book about the history of guns in America. The professor, Michael A. Bellesiles, said in a statement that he "cannot continue to teach in what I feel is a hostile environment." Mr. Bellesiles said the controversy surrounding his book, "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture," had made it impossible for him to continue his research. Emory officials said Mr. Bellesiles' resignation would take effect Dec. 31. He has been on paid administrative leave this semester. The 40-page report, released on Friday, concluded that Professor Bellesiles had been "guilty of unprofessional and misleading work." (AP)

"Health Panel Finds All-Natural Carcinogens Galore in Holiday Foods" - "October, 2002—New York, NY. Scientists associated with the American Council on Science and Health once again have analyzed the natural foods that make up a traditional holiday dinner—and once again have found that they are loaded with "carcinogens": chemicals that in large doses cause cancer in laboratory animals. None of these chemicals are made by man or added to the foods. Indeed, all of these "carcinogens" occur naturally in foods. But ACSH scientists have good news: these natural carcinogens pose no hazard to human health." (ACSH)

"Medical research 'often flawed'" - "Clinical trials of many new drugs and treatments are flawed and possibly unethical, a study suggests. Experts in the United States have found that many researchers fail to follow international guidelines when they are carrying out studies funded by the pharmaceutical industry." (BBC News Online)

"Landmark ruling: airline wins blood clot case" - "In what has been described by lawyers as the world's most important case to date on deep vein thrombosis, the NSW District Court has dismissed a claim against Dutch airline KLM by a female passenger who suffered the potentially deadly condition during a return flight to the Netherlands.

A lawyer involved in the case, Ari Abrahams, who represented KLM, said yesterday the ruling was the first DVT decision of real substance in the world and had attracted considerable interest as a result.

Unlike earlier pro-airline decisions in the United States and Germany, which contained no reasons, the recent judgment of Judge William Knight included a detailed analysis of cases from around the world.

The result throws into serious doubt the prospects of obtaining compensation for the 600-700 plaintiffs whose claims have been lodged with the Victorian Supreme Court in the past 15 months by Melbourne firm Slater and Gordon." (Canberra Times)

"US animal rights activists indicted for stalking" - "BOSTON - A dozen animal rights activists have been indicted for stalking an insurance company executive, calling him a "puppy killer" and threatening to burn down his home, prosecutors said. The 12 defendants allegedly harassed the Boston businessman for five months because they thought his employer helped sell insurance to Huntingdon Life Sciences, a British drug-testing company." (Reuters)

"Greenland Melting? (Item contributed by Miceal O'Ronain)" - "On October 24, 2002, the National Geographic Channel and the National Geographic News, ran a story titled "Greenland Melting? Satellite to Help Find Answer". After an overview of a new NASA satellite named ICESat to be launched in December 2002 and tasked to the study of ice and how it moves, the report goes on to examine the impact of `global warming' on the Greenland ice cap. The focus of the story was the Greenland fishing village of Ilulissat, on the west coast of Greenland at (69.2°N,51.1°W), The National Geographic reports that 10% of all Greenland's icebergs come from Ilulissat (which means "place by the icebergs") and that the residents of the town say the ice is changing and not for the better, or so says the National Geographic.

An obvious question is: has the temperature in and about Ilulissat changed as would be expected under conditions of global warming? While there is no temperature history for Ilulissat available, there are two nearby GISS Stations which can be used as a proxy for the temperature conditions in the vicinity of Ilulissat. The two stations are Jakobshavn (69.25°N, 51.07°W) which is a mere 6km (3.7 miles) north of Ilulissat and Egedesminde (68.7°N, 52.75°W) 86km (53.3 miles) south-west." (Still Waiting For Greenhouse)

"Rumble of a coming ice age" - "A remarkable change in the waters of the North Atlantic has thrown what one leading oceanographer is calling a "curve ball" into thinking that the planet will gradually warm due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Instead, there is a real possibility that global warming may soon trigger the sudden onset of an ice age that could last hundreds of years. "In just the past year, we have seen ominous signs that we may be headed toward a potentially dangerous threshold," says Dr. Robert Gagosian, president and director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. "If we cross it, Earth's climate could switch gears and jump very rapidly -- not gradually -- into a completely different mode of operation." (National Post)

"S. Korean heating fuel demand seen up on colder Nov" - "SEOUL, Oct 28 - South Korean heating energy demand is expected to be higher than normal in November, industry sources said on Monday as weathermen forecast below-normal temperatures for next month. "We had the first ice in Seoul on October 22 this year, and temperatures have since been eight degrees (Celsius) below normal," Kim Seung-bae, an official at Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA), told Reuters. "The low temperatures are expected to continue through next Sunday, and we expect to have many cold days in November," he said." (Reuters)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: U.S. Reiterates Kyoto Opposition At UNFCCC Talks; More" - "Head U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson reiterated yesterday at a U.N. climate-change conference in New Delhi that the United States will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases, saying the treaty would cause "significant harm to our economy." (UN Wire)

"CLIMATE CHANGE II: Report Highlights Poor Countries' "Mitigation" - "WASHINGTON -- The Pew Center on Global Climate Change released a new study here yesterday indicating that Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey are achieving significant "mitigation" of their greenhouse gas emissions through actions not directly intended to limit emissions." (UN Wire)

"Kyoto on an unsustainable Timetable" - "A leading advocate for energy efficiency and conservation says Ottawa's timetable for cutting carbon dioxide emissions may be unrealistic. "If we try to do even half of Kyoto ourselves, it is going to be really hard," says Professor Mark Jaccard, an environmental economist at Simon Fraser University who has pegged the cost of meeting Kyoto at $45- to $60-billion. Jean Chrétien, the Prime Minister, has pledged to sign the accord by the end of the year. The protocol is designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, produced largely through the burning of fossil fuels, and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming. Jaccard, like many observers, wonders how the government can possibly make the cuts necessary to meet Kyoto in just seven years." (Financial Post)

"Ottawa, Provinces Set for Showdown Over Kyoto Pact" - "OTTAWA - The Canadian government and Canada's 10 provinces are set for an angry showdown on Monday when they discuss Ottawa's plan to implement the Kyoto accord on cutting global warming. Although Prime Minister Jean Chretien wants the federal parliament to vote on whether to ratify Kyoto by the end of the year, his officials took until last Thursday to produce a first draft of proposals on how to implement it." (Reuters)

"Hostility in Canada's West Threatens Climate Policy" - "Opposition from several provinces and business groups threaten ratification of the Kyoto climate control protocol even if it is endorsed by Parliament." (New York Times)

"Alberta rallies provinces in campaign to shelve Kyoto" - "HALIFAX -- The Alberta government is leading a push among provinces at a crucial Kyoto Protocol meeting in Halifax today to persuade Ottawa to delay ratification of the controversial accord for up to eight months." (Globe and Mail)

"Kyoto forecasts best taken with a grain of salt" - "GI=GO is the basic formula that applies to all computer-based economic modelling. It stands for ''Garbage in equals garbage out,'' and it should be kept at the top of the mind when dealing with the outlandish claims on both sides of the argument about ratifying the Kyoto Protocol." (Globe and Mail)

Hmm... methinks Hugh Winsor should take some of his own advise, particularly where climate models are concerned since enhanced greenhouse-induced catastrophic warming occurs solely within the bowels of said less-than-useful models. They're 'spun up' with garbage, fed garbage and produce... climate predictions? Oh sure...

"Stop global warming or NY submerges - Greenpeace" - "NEW DELHI - By the year 2080, Manhattan and Shanghai could be underwater, droughts and floods could become more extreme and hundreds of millions of people will be at risk from disease, starvation and water shortages." (Reuters)

"Better get used to it, say climate experts" - "As big storms go, yesterday morning's was not quite on the scale of October 16 1987 when some 15 million trees were uprooted in a wild night that changed the face of southern England. But ecologists said yesterday it was a timely reminder that the terrifying weather once assumed to take place only every 250 years is now liable to occur far more frequently." (The Guardian)

"US, New Zealand teaming up on climate" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 -- The governments of New Zealand and the United States, although maintaining separate positions on the Kyoto global warming treaty, will work together more closely on research related to global climate change, officials of both countries said Friday." (UPI)

"Tree farms won't halt climate change" - "The Kyoto Protocol to halt climate change is based on a scientific fallacy, according to the first results of CarboEurope, a Europe-wide programme that has pioneered research into the carbon budget. The protocol says that countries can help meet their targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases over the next decade by planting forests to soak up carbon dioxide. But the soil in these "Kyoto forests" will actually release more carbon than the growing trees absorb in the first 10 years, the new research shows. "Countries will be able to claim carbon credits for the forests. But that won't reflect what is happening in the atmosphere," says Riccardo Valentini of the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy. He presented the CarboEurope data last week in Valencia, Spain." (New Scientist)

"World unable to cope with famine, UN says" - "Global warming is helping to cause an unprecedented series of famines which is pushing the world beyond its ability to cope, according to the United Nations.

The warning – the starkest yet issued by the UN on how climate change is affecting world food supplies – comes as a second massive famine looms in Africa. The new head of the UN World Food Programme, James Morris, will announce in London tomorrow that drought in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa is precipitating a food shortage as great as the one now afflicting southern Africa." (Independent)

"Greenpeace shuts down Esso Luxembourg petrol pumps" - "LONDON, Oct 25 - Green campaigners handcuffed themselves to Esso petrol pumps in Luxembourg on Friday, closing down all the company's stations in the cheap-fuel country and widening a UK-based protest, Greenpeace said. "None of the 28 Esso stations are operating today in selling petrol," said Louise Fraser from Greenpeace in Luxembourg. "Police have turned out at some stations but it's been fairly peaceful -- we hope to remain the rest of the day," she told Reuters, adding over 600 protestors from 31 countries were taking part. Drivers from neighbouring countries often buy petrol in Luxembourg, with four of every five cars filling up their tanks registered outside the country, as it has one of the lowest motor fuel tax rates in the European Union." (Reuters)

"Britain says addressing green power industry woes" - "LONDON - Britain's energy minister said last week a government White Paper on energy policy, due early next year, will address problems faced by green energy firms since last year's power market reforms." (Reuters)

"Scotland's tourists ignore wind farms" - "WIND FARMS do not put tourists off visiting beauty spots and most holidaymakers would even be interested in visiting one, a survey indicates. Nine out of ten tourists visiting some of Scotland’s top scenic areas say the presence of wind farms makes no difference to their holiday, according to a poll by MORI Scotland. The research, commissioned by the Scottish Renewables Forum, is likely to stir controversy over wind farms. Earlier this month tourism operators in Scotland succeeded in having a proposed wind farm in the Solway Firth referred to a public inquiry. They say the plans would spoil the East Stewartry Coast National Scenic Area." (The Times)

"Organic foods pose challenge to consumers - USDA aide" - "DES MOINES, Iowa - The head of food security of the U. S. Department of Agriculture last week said consumers should be wary of organically grown foods." (Reuters)

"How safe is GM food?" - "Surely the donation of many thousands of tonnes of emergency food supplies should alleviate the suffering of millions of hungry people, should it not? Not, it turns out, when the food has been genetically modified. In southern Africa, hunger now affects some 14 million people. The USA has donated GM maize to help alleviate the crisis, but in Zambia the food rots in warehouses because the government believes it unsafe. President Levy Mwanawasa has even called GM maize "poison", saying he is not prepared to "use our people as guinea pigs". In some areas, citizens have rioted and looted to get to the food." (The Lancet)

"McCartney Promotes GM Food Labeling" - "EUGENE, Ore. - Paul McCartney has endorsed a ballot measure in Oregon that would require labeling of genetically modified foods. McCartney's 30-second radio ad in support of Measure 27, which would require all foods made with or derived from genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such, began airing Thursday." (AP)

"GM approval 'will be influenced by money'" - "An environmental group attacked the Government yesterday after it emerged that ministers could take into account finance as well as science in deciding whether GM crops can be grown commercially. Previously ministers have insisted that approval would be based solely on the scientific and environmental evaluation of farm trials. Yesterday, however, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said other factors, including "costs and benefits", would also be considered." (Independent)

"Sowing disaster? How genetically engineered American corn has altered the global landscape" - "It's an hour-and-a-half drive over switchbacks from the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca to the village of Capulalpan, a settlement of some 1,500 people nestled in the Sierra Norte Mountains. The thick forest and remoteness of this mountainous region has long enabled the local Zacateca Indians to maintain their cultural integrity and, to a great extent, write their own rules. When Mexican clocks were turned back for daylight saving time in the spring, the Zacatecans refused to make the adjustment, insisting that they live in ''God's time,'' not in what they derisively call ''Fox time,'' referring to President Vicente Fox in far-off Mexico City. Carlos Castaneda wrote about this region as a center for natural transcendence in his book Journey to Ixtlan. But over the past year, this tiny puebla among the cedars and the wild mustard of the Sierra Norte has been unwillingly thrust into the center of a worldwide controversy over something quite different than the quality of its peyote: genetically engineered corn." (The Nation)

October 25, 2002

"Beware Drug Company Marketing" - "I can believe that 79-year old Pfizer pitchman Bob Dole uses the impotence treatment Viagra. I have a harder time believing that 37-year old baseball star Rafael Palmeiro does -- he denied use prior to accepting a $500,000 endorsement deal from Pfizer.

In any event, such amusing celebrity endorsements have helped make Pfizer a marketing powerhouse in the pharmaceutical industry. But not all of Pfizer’s marketing is so entertaining." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Bayer says no plan to test pesticides on humans" - "FRANKFURT - Germany's Bayer AG said yesterday it wanted to be able to use data collected by testing pesticides on humans but was not seeking to revive the trials which are currently banned in the United States. "We haven't done it since 1998 and I don't foresee any new case where we plan to do this kind of study," Bayer spokesman Peter Kraus said. But he said Bayer did want to use data collected in the tests conducted four years ago." (Reuters)

"Report examines use of antibiotics in agriculture" - "Antibiotics have been used against infectious diseases with great success and have been a part of agriculture for many years, but scientists have long recognized a down side. The concentrated and widespread use of antibiotic agents has resulted in the emergence of drug-resistant organisms, some of which can now survive most commercially available antibiotics. A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), "The Role of Antibiotics in Agriculture," carefully considers the issues." (American Academy of Microbiology)

"USDA: Organic foods may be more contamination-prone" - "DES MOINES, Iowa - The head of food security of the US Department of Agriculture on Thursday said consumers should be wary of organically grown foods. "We must remember that bacteria and parasites are also all-natural," Elsa Murano, under secretary for food safety, said at the World Food Prize symposium that draws hundreds of researchers and government officials from around the globe. "Foods that have fewer or no preservatives can pose a challenge to consumers if they don't know what all-natural implies and how these foods should be handled and prepared." (Reuters)

"Food Fight" - "Why is a popular--and healthy--meat substitute under such relentless attack? Tony Soprano has nothing on the Center For Science In The Public Interest. Fresh from deep-sixing Olestra, Procter & Gamble's noncaloric fat substitute, it's now trying to whack a popular and healthy meat substitute called Quorn , from U.K.-based Marlow Foods Ltd. , a unit of AstraZeneca . Made from a fungus called "mycoprotein," it's used in 90 imitation beef and chicken products and is Europe's top-selling meat alternative." (Michael Fumento, Forbes)

"Zapping Common Sense" - "Activists have re-ignited debate over the World Health Organization-endorsed practice of irradiating food, a common practice used to kill dangerous pathogens like salmonella and E.coli bacteria. The process has long been approved in the U.S. for use on raw chicken and beef, spices, and dried seasonings.

In recent months, more and more retailers and meat companies have been offering irradiated meat to customers: from Florida to Iowa, and even in hyper-sensitive New York City, consumers are learning that irradiated meat is likely to be safer to eat. And last month the nation’s largest ground beef producer announced plans for a line of irradiated products, signaling that the potentially life-saving practice is in demand by average Americans.

None of this, of course, matters to activists at Public Citizen (Ralph Nader’s anti-consumer group). Following an announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon begin allowing irradiation of fruits and vegetables as well, Public Citizen launched into a typical tirade-via-press-release.

The group’s complaints range from the unproven and unlikely assertion that irradiated veggies will be robbed of all their nutrients, to the anti-globalist view that applying irradiation technology to more foods will somehow create “more opportunities for multinational companies.” (Oh, the horror!)

Still, if you can’t find irradiated meat at your grocery store yet, it could be that the store manager has been getting pressure from the self-styled socialists at Food And Water, a Vermont-based lobbying “collective” claiming 125,000 members. Promising unrelenting protests at U.S. supermarkets, the group’s president recently told the Orlando Sentinel: “We’ll be in front of as many as we can.”

Thankfully, a few level-headed commentators have weighed in as well. In Florida’s Gainesville Times, one op-ed writer says that food irradiation represents “another layer” in our “current food safety protocols.” He also notes that “the [public] acceptance level of irradiated products seems to be increasing.”

In Salt Lake City, Scripps Howard’s Jay Ambrose told Sunday’s Deseret News that “fears about irradiation are silly and dangerous.” Ambrose also notes, correctly, that the process is endorsed by the USDA, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Food expert says more tests needed before fried foods are tabled" - "A Purdue University foods and nutrition associate professor is one of the nation's experts invited to Chicago at the end of the month to discuss the discovery of a potential carcinogen in starchy, fried foods." (Purdue University)

Duh! "Significantly lower physical activity levels in obese adolescents contribute to continued obesity" - "Ekelund, et al.found that metabolic rates and the number of calories expended during exercise were the same whether an adolescent was obese or normal weight; however, the obese adolescents were less active and sustained even moderate-intensity activities for shorter periods of time." (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)

"Increasingly salty Mediterranean favors ice sheet growth" - "About 150,000 years ago, an anomalous ice age was triggered by an increasingly salty Mediterranean Sea, a development that's occurring today and may start new ice sheet growth in the next few decades, according to a study at the University of Minnesota." (University of Minnesota)

The price of 'eco' taxes? "Winter deaths among elderly rise" - "More and more elderly people are dying unnecessarily during winter cold snaps, a charity has claimed. Official figures released on Thursday show that excess winter deaths increased by 10% last year." (BBC News Online)

"Climate change for London" - "Warmer summers and wetter winters are what Londoners can look forward to in the future, according to a new report. The research, entitled London's Warming, expects global climate changes to have a massive impact on life in the capital. It predicts increases in air pollution and even more uncomfortable journeys on the Tube due to rising temperatures. The study, which was commissioned by the London Climate Change Partnership, was unveiled by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and Environment Minister Michael Meacher." (BBC News Online)

"Human pressures 'ruining mountains'" - "The mountainous regions of the world are inexorably succumbing to the growing press of humanity, says a United Nations report. Agriculture, building, war and climate change are all helping to tame what were once wildernesses." (BBC News Online) | Mountain wildernesses increasing threatened, UN environment agency reports (UN News)

And yes, even here global warming gets a run, this time as a threat to mountains (they'll wilt in the heat?).

"Asian dust storm causes plankton to bloom in the North Pacific" - "In the spring of 2001, two robotic Carbon Explorer floats recorded the rapid growth of phytoplankton in the upper layers of the North Pacific Ocean after a passing storm had deposited iron-rich dust from the Gobi Desert. The carbon measurements, reported in the October 25 issue of Science, are the first direct observation of wind-blown terrestrial dust fertilizing the growth of aquatic plant life." (DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

"Study predicts Amazon deforestation could affect climate in US" - "New mathematical simulations of climate behavior by Duke University researchers indicate that deforestation in the Amazon can cause a reduction of rainfall in the Midwestern United States and the Dakotas in the summer, when precipitation is most needed for agriculture." (Duke University)

"Study Finds Storm Cycles Etched in Lake Beds" - "Four times since the last ice age, the Northeast has been struck by cycles of storms far more powerful than any in recent times, according to a new study." (New York Times)

"Greenland Melting? Satellite to Help Find Answer" - "Today the world's ice is restless. Warmer temperatures are melting ice and eroding glaciers from Greenland to Antarctica. But scientists do not know how global warming may affect Earth's two major ice sheets, in Greenland and Antarctica, which hold 77 percent of the world's fresh water—enough to potentially raise the sea level approximately 225 feet (70 meters). In early December, NASA plans to launch ICESat, a satellite dedicated to the study of ice and how it moves." (National Geographic)

"World may fail to meet greenhouse targets - UN" - "NEW DELHI - The world may not meet its targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions under a global pact unless the United States, the world's biggest polluter, reduces greenhouse gases, a U.N. official said yesterday. "If you look at the current policies taken in the U.S., it's unlikely the Kyoto (Protocol) targets will be met," Joke Waller-Hunter, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Climate Change secretariat, told Reuters." (Reuters)

What a marvellous name for a climate change wallah...

"It's getting warmer - just look at the frogs" - "Global warming is already affecting London, the capital's Mayor, Ken Livingstone said yesterday. You can tell by the frogs.

Mr Livingstone, who is amphibian-fancier as much as he is politician, told a conference on how London will be affected by climate change that summers have become warm enough to breed French edible frogs in his garden pond. The Mayor said rising temperatures had allowed them to breed in London for the first time since the Romans." (Independent)

Does that mean that Earth's just recovered to what it was during the Roman era or that French edible frogs have only recently found his pond a useful location for their trysts?

"US rejects possibility of signing Kyoto protocol" - "The United States has firmly rejected signing the Kyoto protocol on global warming, saying the damage the treaty would cause to its economy would also hurt developing countries. "It will have the impact of doing significant harm to our economy. We will not sign an agreement just to say that we signed it," Harlan Watson, the senior US climate change negotiator, said on the sidelines of a UN conference in India on global warming yesterday." (AFP)

"Ottawa plans push to cut emissions across Canada" - "Population will be urged to take buses, turn down thermostats to trim pollution.

OTTAWA -- In a throwback to the energy-conservation campaigns of the oil-tight 1970s, Ottawa plans to cajole and coerce individual Canadians into fighting global warming at home and in their cars.

The federal government wants every man, woman and child in Canada to cut so-called greenhouse gases for which they are personally responsible by one tonne, or 20 per cent, annually to meet the country's targets under the Kyoto Procotol." (Globe and Mail)

"Ottawa attacked as unveils plan on Kyoto targets" - "OTTAWA, Oct 24 - Canada unveiled long-awaited proposals on Thursday on how to meet its obligations under the Kyoto climate change accord but critics immediately slammed the plan as embarrassingly vague. Ottawa is in considerable disarray over Kyoto, which would oblige the country to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. Emissions levels by 2010 are in fact predicted to be 33 percent above the 1990 level. The government has yet to ratify the Kyoto protocol and resistance to the idea is rapidly building in some of the country's more powerful provinces, notably energy-rich Alberta, which is calling for a gentler "Made in Canada" solution." (Reuters)

"Ontario will fight against Kyoto, Eves says; Premier pairs up with Klein to pressure Ottawa for 'made-in-Canada' compromise" - "Ontario will join Alberta in fighting any bid by Ottawa to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and instead will seek province-by-province targets for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, Premier Ernie Eves said yesterday. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein welcomed Mr. Eves's commitment to join him in fighting the controversial protocol, which Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has said will be ratified by the end of the year." (Globe and Mail)

"Global air pollution crosses Mediterranean" - "MAINZ, Germany, Oct. 24 -- Findings from an international team of scientists revealed Thursday that the storied wine-dark Mediterranean Sea -- the crossroads of the ancient world -- is now a crossroads for air pollution. Pollution from Europe, Asia and North America meet miles above the Mediterranean with larger effects on global climate than suspected previously, such as suppressing rainfall in the Middle East and northern Africa. "This is a very important problem with political dimensions," lead researcher Jos Lelieveld, an atmospheric chemist at Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, told United Press International. "The air pollution is causing difficulties where water availability is already a problem. This is rather unexpected, but it is quite clear this is the case." (UPI)

"Spain's green energy firms say still need subsidy" - "MADRID - Removing government subsidies from renewable energy firms would be a "death sentence" for green energy in Spain, the Association of Renewable Energy Producers said." (Reuters)

"We Know Where You Live" - "The supposed coming age of renewable energy is often held up as a peaceful kingdom where the energy lion will lie down with the environment lamb. Gone - or at least severely reduced in size and influence - will be those nasty and gargantuan oil companies, with their tentacles extended across the globe. Those nuclear reactors, spewing who knows what, will be banished from the landscape. No more disturbing the caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other pristine places. Caribou and other gentle creatures will be able to frolic without a worry." (Herbert Inhaber, TCS)

"Prizes and Prices" - "Some people use science and technology to save lives. Some people use fear and superstition to get in the way. Pedro Sanchez of is one of those who save lives. This week, the Cuban-born Sanchez is being awarded the prestigious World Food Prize for his innovations in restoring nutrients to soil so as to make them more productive." (Duane D. Freese, TCS)

"GM crops can help environment by preserving topsoil – study" - "Genetically modified crops may help the environment by reducing the need to plough, thereby helping to preserve topsoil. A new study released by the Conservation Technology Information Centre (CTIC) suggests that farmers who give over their land to grow biotech crops that have a built-in tolerance to herbicides reduce the disruption to topsoil through ploughing. Dan Towery, a natural resources specialist at CTIC, said that no-till acres have increased 35% since GM crops were introduced and now total in excess of 55m acres." (just-food.com) [To see the report, click here]

"From Jo'burg to Des Moines" - "Environmentalists consider the recent Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development to be a failure. However, if their own rhetoric is to be believed, they should at least have been happy that a discussion of the costs and benefits of genetically modified food was widespread throughout the world's media." (Roger Bate, TCS Europe)

"INTERVIEW - Zambia to harvest crisis-relief maize by November" - "LUSAKA - Zambia said yesterday maize it had ordered from its farmers to ease a food crisis threatening millions of its citizens would be harvested by November, and the cabinet would make a decision next week on genetically modified (GM) food aid." (Reuters)

October 24, 2002

"Mobile radiation 'boosts cancer cells'" - "Radiation from mobile phones may be able to accelerate the growth of cancer cells, claims an Italian scientist." (BBC Online) | Italian study raises concerns about mobile phones (Reuters)

"Jacks? Dolls? Yo-Yos? No, They Want Cellphones" - "Among the second graders at the Kulosaari Elementary School, the object of desire is a Nokia cellphone." (New York Times)

"Food additives 'affect sight'" - "Scientists are warning that a flavouring, commonly found in Chinese food, could be linked to sight problems. Tests in rats have shown that high levels of monosodium glutamate (MSG) can damage the retina. MSG is found in oriental and processed foods." (BBC News Online)

"Mailing On Water Toxins Criticized" - "LAKELAND -- After receiving numerous phone calls from concerned residents, city officials Wednesday criticized a marketing campaign that claims city water has tested positive for contaminants. "We've received quite a few complaints," said Kevin Cook, city spokesman. "From our understanding, they are preying (on residents)." The National Water Safety Program mailed oversized postcards to residents that read: "The following information is vital to the health and well being of your family if you live in one of the cities listed on this notice . . ." (The Ledger)

"California urges study of alarming breast cancer rates" - "SAN FRANCISCO - Faced with an alarming and unexplained rise in new breast cancer cases, California officials called yesterday for a pilot program to monitor breast milk for signs that environmental contamination plays in a role in the spread of the deadly disease." (Reuters)

"Organic Food Marketers Make False Health Claims: Organic pesticides may cause cancer and liver disease" - "Churchville, VA, Oct 23, 2002 -- As new organic labeling laws take effect this week, the USDA has pointed out that it "makes no claim that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food." However, this has not stopped organic marketers from making such claims." (Alex Avery, Center for Global Food Issues)

"An “Organic” Chicken-and-Egg Question" - "The Washington Post took notice yesterday of a fight brewing between mainstream egg producers and their niche-market “organic” counterparts. It seems that the US Department of Agriculture’s new organic standard awards “organic” labels to egg companies based on where egg-laying hens roam, rather than what they eat. Organic agriculture activists are complaining bitterly at the thought that this might change.

Egg producers, noted the Post, contend that “allowing chickens to roam free will result in outbreaks of salmonella enteritis and avian influenza.” A University of Pennsylvania veterinary professor told the Post that “the arguments against it are so overwhelming that we couldn’t believe they weren’t going to change it.”

Meanwhile, an ocean away, British regulators are beginning to understand the dangers posed to the public by “organic” and “free range” poultry as well. Amid complaints from the activist Soil Association, UK government safety advisors suggested this week that modern industrial farms “can more easily control the spread” of campylobacter, England’s most common source of food poisoning." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Obese woman loses airline seat fight" - "OTTAWA - The Canadian Transportation Agency says a woman who complained about Air Canada making her pay extra because she was obese has no case. Two of three members on an agency panel dismissed the complaint launched by Calgary law professor Linda McKay-Panos." (CBC News)

"Another Reason to Cancel Your PETA Membership" - "If the thought of your donation to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) winding up in the pocket of a domestic terrorist isn’t enough to make you think twice about writing another check, maybe this news will.

Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest nonpartisan evaluator of non-profit organizations, announced yesterday that PETA received a “one-star” rating (out of four) in the latest edition of its nationwide service. This “Poor” showing means that Charity Navigator has determined that PETA “Fails to meet industry standards and performs well below most charities in its cause.”

You can’t do worse than one star, right? Don’t be so sure. PETA’s “Foundation to Support Animal Protection” -- now doing business as “The PETA Foundation” -- was one of just 23 organizations nationwide to receive zero stars (“Exceptionally Poor”).

Other activist groups in the one-star group include the Humane Society of the United States, the National Humane Education Society, Humane Society International, and The Greenpeace Fund." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Here is the forecast: Wet, then dry for 3,000 years" - "Here is the weather forecast for the next few hundred years – expect rain, rain and more rain before things finally settle down to a dry period lasting about 3,000 years. This most forward-looking of forecasts is made today by scientists who have studied stormy periods in the North Atlantic dating back 14,000 years." (Independent) | Stormy weather (Independent)

"New England lakes hold clues to lurking storms and floods" - "Is New England headed for troubled waters? Devastating storms and floods may lurk ahead, according to geologists at the University of Vermont. Periods of intense storminess have peaked in the North Atlantic region roughly every 3,000 years over a 13,000 year period, according to research that will appear in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Nature. Researchers studied core samples from 21 lakes in Vermont and the Adirondacks to establish regional storm patterns." (University of Vermont)

"A silver lining on every dust cloud ... at the bottom of the ocean" - "They billow up from the outback to cast a gloomy pall over coastal cities, spoiling the washing and coating cars with red dirt. But, far from being a mere nuisance, dust storms may be doing life a favour by feeding iron to microscopic ocean plants, which makes them bloom and soak up carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for global warming." (The Sydney Morning Herald)

"CLIMATE CHANGE: U.N. Meeting Opens With Call For Kyoto Implementation" - "The eighth meeting of the parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change opened today in New Delhi with the election as meeting president of T.R. Baalu, who called for urgent adoption of the convention's 1997 Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions.

"The rise in temperature is already beginning to affect physical and biological systems. Frequent floods and droughts are having serious impacts. Depleted moisture combined with heat stress is projected to reduce the global yield of major food grains," Baalu told delegates from 185 countries." (UN Wire)

"Scepticism Hangs over Climate Change Meet" - "NEW DELHI, Oct 23 - Another round of international talks on curbing global climate change began Wednesday in India, a country that sees the United States and the developed world as being part of the problem rather than the solution to global warming." (IPS)

"Members target US at UN Climate Change Conference" - "The Indian environment minister opened the United Nation Climate Change Conference today by calling for a consensus among the participating members. A call that is a tacit admission of the deep division that is plaguing the international community on the issue of climate change." (NDTV.com)

"Developed-developing world fissures emerge on climate change" - "Differences between the developed and developing countries came to the fore over the responses to climate change and funding of technology transfer, on the very first day of the global conclave here today. Taking a dig at the developing countries, European Union supported by Canada insisted that they should submit their national communications at the earliest on steps taken to control climate change." (Outlook India)

"More trees to lock up carbon" - "NEW DELHI A new round of negotiations starts this Wednesday on the Framework Convention on Climate Change. Enough countries have ratified the convention's Kyoto Protocol to allow it to go forward. Now they are debating how the protocol will work. Expect plenty of controversy, especially when it comes to forests.

The decisions made in New Delhi by parties to the United Nations climate change convention could be of profound significance not just for our overheated climate but also for millions of poor farmers in the developing world. The war against climate change could become a war against poverty.

The Kyoto protocol's Clean Development Mechanism, know by its initials as the CDM, will enable industries in the developed world to meet a portion of their greenhouse gas emissions targets by investing in climate change projects in developing countries, which themselves are not subject to emissions caps. Financing forestry schemes is one way of doing that. The science is simple enough. When trees grow they take in carbon dioxide and lock it up in the form of wood. Forests thus have the potential to help reduce global warming." (IHT)

"U.N. Forum to Discuss Climate Change" - "NEW DELHI, India - Weather catastrophes around the world show there is little doubt the Earth's climate is changing, the outgoing head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change warned Wednesday." (AP)

"Climate change could bring malaria, dengue fever to southern Ontario: report" - "OTTAWA -- People in the Toronto-Niagara region can expect increased exposure to malaria, dengue fever and hantavirus in coming years due to climate change, says a major new report. The diseases are projected to spread because climate change favours the northward movement of disease-carrying birds, insects and rodents, says the study obtained by The Canadian Press." (CP)

"While Klein attacks, Chrétien backs Kyoto" - "TORONTO - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein brought his case against the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases to Bay Street on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien took took his case for ratification to the Liberal caucus." (CBC News)

"Damage to energy sector would hurt Ontario, Klein warns" - "Ralph Klein will warn Ontarians today that their economy is inextricably tied to the Alberta energy sector and that any damage the Kyoto Protocol wreaks on the oil-and-gas industry could have painful consequences in Canada's most populous province." (National Post)

"UK climate change levy still threatens aluminium" - "LONDON - Despite changes in the UK's climate change levy covering primary aluminium smelters, downstream manufacturers still face paying the extra tax, Jim Morrison, President of the Aluminium Federation (ALFED) said." (Reuters)

"Despite surplus, India can't feed growing hungry" - "NEW DELHI - India, the world's second most populous nation, produces more food than it can eat but its tens of millions of poorest are growing hungrier and more malnourished by the year." (Reuters)

"UN expert urges speedy action to fight global hunger" - "Voicing outrage that millions of people around the world still suffer from hunger, a United Nations expert has urged speedy action by governments and the UN system to meet the target of cutting the number of chronically malnourished people in half." (UN News)

"Study on worms may hold clues to aging" - "A tiny worm that barely lives more than a week under normal conditions may hold clues that could help keep us stronger and healthier until old age finally catches up with us, researchers say." (Associated Press) | Rutgers and Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers seek fountain of youth among the worms (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)

October 23, 2002

"People take up most of the planet, US study says" - "WASHINGTON - Humans take up 83 percent of the Earth's land surface to live on, farm, mine or fish, leaving just a few areas pristine for wildlife, a report issued yesterday said.

People also have taken advantage of 98 percent of the land that can be farmed for rice, wheat or corn, said the report, produced by scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network in New York." (Reuters) | New map shows human 'footprint' covers most of the Earth (WCS)

Corollary: Increasing 'organic' farming will destroy all remaining wildspace - therefore 'organic'/low productivity farming should be banned?

Save the planet - trash organic!

"Organic labels are here. Whoopee." - "Amid unprecedented fanfare this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun allowing food companies to label their offerings as “organic.” Of the top 50 newspapers in America, at least 45 have printed feature stories or editorials on the subject since Friday, totaling over 53,000 words.

Most of that coverage promoted the myth that “organic” means “better” -- even though the USDA says plainly that the new label “makes no claim that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.” Only three major newspapers (out of 45) bothered to point that out.

Meanwhile organic and anti-biotech food activists, bereft of scientific merit, pound their drumbeat onward. Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association went out of his way to torture the truth in a recent press release, claiming that “products bearing the ‘USDA Organic’ label are certainly safer and better than conventional food.” The Organic Trade Association has even gone on record claiming that the new standards will bring about “an unprecedented era for… public health.”

Other commentators are more honest, but their words still betray the real meaning behind the new “USDA Organic” label. Organic cookbook author Elaine Lipson told the Boulder Daily Camera that “the reasons to buy organic are environmental reasons,” and that “the health question is really tough.” And Sandra Steingraber, an activist and Organic Trade Association spokesperson, told the Associated Press on Sunday that buying organic “is a little like tithing to a church.”

Speaking of religious fervor, the uncompromising Chefs Collaborative (CC) is crowing about the new organic standards as well. CC’s Peter Hoffman told New York Newsday that his organization is “on the forefront of championing [organic] products,” saying that only organic produce is “the right product” to serve.

For a welcome bit of intelligent reasoning, we recommend a Q-and-A on organic foods and their mythical benefits published by the Center for Global Food Issues, a project of the Hudson Institute." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Homocysteine risk not as high as expected" - "NEW YORK - During the past few years, researchers have suspected that high levels of the amino acid homocysteine increase the risk of heart disease. Now, two new reports bolster the connection between high homocysteine and a higher risk, but the risk is more modest than expected. So while it is not a bad idea to eat more oranges, grains, leafy green vegetables and other foods that are rich in homocysteine-lowering substances called folates, testing for homocysteine levels should, for the time being, be reserved for certain high-risk individuals, experts say." (Reuters Health)

"Amino Acid May Not Predict Heart Attacks" - "Levels of homocysteine in the blood may not be very helpful in predicting heart attacks and strokes in healthy people, a new study finds." (New York Times)

"Study Records Elevated Mercury" - "BURLINGTON, Vt. - A study of Californians who loaded their lunch and dinner menus with fish shows 89 percent wound up with elevated mercury levels in their bodies.

The research, presented Saturday by San Francisco internist Dr. Jane Hightower at a symposium of environmental health experts in Vermont, is one of the first studies to document mercury levels in Americans who eat more fish than the Environmental Protection Agency recommends.

Doctors are increasingly interested in the possible risks of eating too much mercury-tainted fish, and the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration are trying to better inform the public about the subject.

It is a thorny problem because of the widely recognized benefits of fish, a high quality protein source loaded with heart-protecting Omega 3 fatty acids." (AP)

"The Academy Takes a Dive" - "The National Academy of Sciences, a private, non-profit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scientists and engineers, is often in the news. Consistent with its 1863 charter from Congress - which commits it "to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare," and to "advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters" - the Academy conducts studies on a broad range of subjects related to science and technology. Most of these are sponsored (that is to say, paid for) by the federal government." (Henry I. Miller, TCS)

"Study Is Unsure on Tainted Polio Vaccine's Cancer Role" - "The polio vaccine used in the United States from 1955 to 1963 has long been known to have been contaminated with a cancer-causing monkey virus, but even after years of study it is not clear whether the vaccine is linked to any cancers in people, scientists reported yesterday. Still, if the vaccine does contribute to cancer, it is highly unlikely to cause more than an extremely small increase in the risk for certain rare types, the scientists say." (New York Times)

"Under-16s 'should not take aspirin'" - "Parents are being told not to give aspirin to children under 16, because of possible links to a rare disease that attacks the brain and liver. The Medicines Control Agency issued the "safety first" advice because of links between the painkiller and Reye's Syndrome, which children have a one in a million chance of developing. The drug watchdog is now considering a proposal to make the advice obligatory on all products containing the popular painkiller." (BBC News Online)

"Delhi hosts latest climate summit" - "Climate change and its serious impact on economy, agriculture, will be the centre of discussion at a ten-day UN conference beginning in the Indian capital, Delhi, on Wednesday." (BBC News Online)

"U.N. conference to discuss implementation of Kyoto protocol on climate change" - "NEW DELHI, India - Government leaders and environmental scientists from around the world will meet in the Indian capital Wednesday to discuss implementation of a landmark treaty that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming. The 10-day U.N. Climate Change Convention will focus on preparing governments and civil societies, especially in developing countries, for the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which comes into effect early next year, the United Nations said in a statement." (AP)

Hmm... methinks that should read: could come into effect as early as next year...

"Ontario stand on Kyoto as hazy as smog on a summer day" - "Is it a revival of that grand old Ontario tradition -- fence sitting if necessary but not necessarily fence sitting -- or a straightforward cop-out?

The position of the Ernie Eves government on the Kyoto Protocol is so remarkably opaque that critics and foes are stumbling over themselves to characterize it.

Both sides want to believe that Ontario is with them but Mr. Eves has been adept enough at exploiting the federal government's clumsy handling of the greenhouse-gas issue that no one really knows what he's thinking. It's enough to bring tears to the eyes of those who fondly remember the days when Bill Davis ruled Ontario by obfuscation." (Globe and Mail)

"Ottawa, Alberta working on Kyoto peace deal" - "OTTAWA and EDMONTON -- Alberta and Ottawa appear to be edging toward a deal on the controversial Kyoto Protocol, federal and provincial sources said yesterday, although Alberta Premier Ralph Klein suggests serious work remains. Mr. Klein said that federal officials have contacted their counterparts in Alberta in looking to close the gap between the two sides on a plan to combat global warming." (Globe and Mail)

"How fast should we go on Kyoto? (Pro)" - "Ratifying Kyoto does not preclude us from developing a "made in Canada" plan on climate change; it compels us to do so. Kyoto provides an internationally agreed framework for meeting targets; it does not dictate how countries are to meet them.

There is no doubt that Canada's "ratification-readiness" would be greatly enhanced by a national plan to meet our Kyoto targets. But the foot-dragging of the past few years has made it clear that no such plan will materialize until ratification is assured. For better or worse, implementation is contingent on ratification -- not, as some political and business leaders maintain, the other way around. By protracting the debate on ratification, we are running out the clock on implementation." (Globe and Mail)

"How fast should we go on Kyoto? (Con)" - "The Prime Minister's out-of-the blue decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol by the end of this year is at best aggressive and at worst paternalistic. While responsible action must be taken to protect the environment for future generations, rushing to ratify Kyoto without adequate consultation or a clear understanding of an implementation plan could have dramatic negative consequences for all Canadians. Canada should delay ratification until the design and cost of an implementation model is more clear." (Globe and Mail)

"Climate Talks Will Shift Focus From Emissions" - "The latest round of international talks on global warming begins today in New Delhi, with delegates focused more on ways to adapt to changes than on cutting emissions of gases that scientists say are the main cause of rising temperatures.

The shift in focus is to some extent motivated by the Bush administration's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 climate pact completed last year and endorsed by most of the world's countries, rich and poor." (New York Times)

"Urgent need to cut greenhouse gases" - "Developed countries must start working urgently towards massive cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, says a UK environmentalist group. The call from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) comes on the opening day of a climate conference in the Indian capital Delhi." (BBC News Online)

"Signs of A Potentially-Powerful CO2-Induced Negative Climate Feedback Phenomenon" - "Summary: Recent analyses of ice-core chemical data suggest there has been a 30% increase in the air's carbonyl sulfide (COS) concentration over the course of the Industrial Revolution. We demonstrate that the COS increase is a linear function of the concomitant increase in the air's CO2 concentration, laying a foundation for further investigations of what could be a potentially-powerful COS-induced climatic counterforce to contemporaneous increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations." (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summaries: Growing Season" - "Summary: Is the length of the growing season changing; and, if it is changing, is global warming the cause?" (co2science.org)

"Trends in Southern Ocean Sea-Ice Season" - "Summary: Just how short has the sea-ice season at the bottom of the world become over what climate alarmists claim to be the period of most dramatic global warming of the past millennium? Annals of Glaciology 34: 435-440." (co2science.org)

"Tropical Cyclones in a Warmer World" - "Summary: The authors of this modeling study note that "from a simple thought, it is expected that the increase in atmospheric moisture due to the global warming may lead to an increase in the intensity, and frequency of tropical cyclones." But, they ask, "Is this simple thought true?" Journal of the Meteorological Society of Japan 80: 249-272." (co2science.org)

"Despite Lower Carbon Dioxide Emissions, Diesel Cars May Promote More Global Warming than Gasoline Cars" - "WASHINGTON - Laws that favor the use of diesel, rather than gasoline, engines in cars may actually encourage global warming, according to a new study. Although diesel cars obtain 25 to 35 percent better mileage and emit less carbon dioxide than similar gasoline cars, they can emit 25 to 400 times more mass of particulate black carbon and associated organic matter ("soot") per kilometer [mile]. The warming due to soot may more than offset the cooling due to reduced carbon dioxide emissions over several decades, according to Mark Z. Jacobson, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University." (AGU/SU/NSF)

"Portable Gas Heaters Tied to Infant Breathing Problems" - "TUESDAY, Oct. 22 -- Pollution from wood-burning stoves and gas and kerosene heaters may aggravate airway trouble in babies. A new study of 890 infants in Connecticut and Virginia showed these secondary heat sources significantly raised the risk of wheezing and coughing in babies exposed to them in their first winter. These heaters can release fine particles as well as carbon monoxide and nitric dioxide gases, all of which irritate the lungs. Portable gas heaters are often poorly vented and spew these irritants back into the room." (HealthScoutNews)

"Transplant hope for cancer patients" - "Scientists have found a way to harvest more stem cells from a baby's umbilical cord. It could help in pioneering transplant operations to treat adults with leukaemia." (BBC News Online)

"French farmer Bove fined for destroying GM crops" - "FOIX, France - Militant French farmer Jose Bove was ordered to pay a 3,000 euro ($2,927) fine yesterday by a court in southwestern France for destroying a field of genetically modified (GM) crops two years ago." (Reuters)

"Green group launches bid for GM-free Britain" - "LONDON - Green group Friends of the Earth yesterday urged local authorities to become GM-free zones, as a new poll it sponsored showed 57 percent of Britons do not want the country to commercialise genetically modified (GM) crops." (Reuters)

"Monsanto, Scotts delay bid to market controversial biotech golf course grass" - "WASHINGTON - The makers of a grass genetically designed to help keep golf courses free of weeds have withdrawn their application to begin selling it after getting several questions from the U.S. Agriculture Department. The Scotts Co. and Monsanto Co., which developed the biotech grass through a joint venture, said they haven't given up on marketing the grass and will submit a new application next year." (Associated Press)

"US biotech industry holds off on planting some crops" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. biotech industry said yesterday it would voluntarily stop growing some gene-spliced crops in the Midwest and Plains states to ease fears of accidental contamination of food or animal feed.

The self-imposed directive, which goes beyond any current government regulation, comes as the industry continues to lick its wounds from the StarLink biotech corn incident two years ago.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization said its members have agreed to plant crops bioengineered for pharmaceutical and industrial purposes far away from their traditional counterparts." (Reuters)

"Fuel for the Fire" - "As if things were not bad enough for the biotech industry in Europe, new rules governing the authorization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the European Union that took effect this month will make it even harder for companies to bring new products to the market and keep them there." (Renee Cordes, TCS Europe)

October 22, 2002

"Crushed flier wins obesity payout" - "Virgin Atlantic has paid a woman passenger £13,000 (US$20,289) compensation, after she was squashed by an obese person who sat next to her on a transatlantic flight. Barbara Hewson, from Swansea, south Wales, suffered injuries including a blood clot in her chest, torn leg muscles and acute sciatica and remains in pain two years on. The obese passenger had only been able to fit into her seat by raising the arm rest, which meant her body parts weighed down on Mrs Hewson.

In the United States, budget US carrier Southwest Airlines now charge larger passengers for two seats. But the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance has taken on airlines over discrimination against overweight people." (BBC News Online)

"Got fat kids? Blame the “three N’s”" - "Even the most casual observers of current events in the U.S. have heard of the “obesity epidemic” that is supposedly gobbling up our children by the thousands. But Dr. Keith-Thomas Ayoob told New Jersey’s Bergen County Record last week that parents shouldn’t rush to blame food companies and restaurants for their kids’ pudgier-than-normal silhouettes.

Ayoob, a professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, told the Record that “the amount of food children take in hasn’t changed much over the years, so something else is happening.” This, of course, runs counter to the messages promoted by activists who dream of anti-McDonald’s headlines about “fallen arches.”

It also cuts against the grain of food cops like Kelly Brownell (who continues to insist that schools bear the financial burden of removing vending machines in the name of nutritional purity); unscientific academics pushing taxes on “bad” foods and soft drinks; and, of course, the overzealous trial lawyers who are eager to capitalize on the resulting public hysteria.

Even government bureaucrats are getting into the game. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services met last week with representatives from the major fast-food restaurant chains. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson told the Washington Post that restaurants must “find ways to merchandise healthier foods” [Shades of things to come: Australia’s federal government announced plans last week to force fast-food vendors in that country to limit the marketing of “super-size” meals].

Which brings us back to Dr. Ayoob. If kids really aren’t eating more than ever, then where does he place the blame for the letting out of American kids’ trousers? “It’s all the fault of “the three N’s,” he says: Nintendo, Netscape, and Nickelodeon. The Bergen County Record sums up Ayoob’s sensible philosophy: “A child who spends his time watching television, playing computer games, or surfing the internet isn’t getting any physical activity.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Climate change fears to dominate talks" - "Fears that climate change could prove devastating for developing countries will be high on the agenda of the international talks on curbing climate change that start in New Delhi tomorrow.

The meeting, which will be attended by 80 ministers, is expected to be the last big conference on climate change before the 1997 Kyoto Protocol comes into effect next year.

India wants the meeting's political declaration to stress the vulnerability of developing countries to climate-related damage. "For India and a very large number of countries 'putting the last first' is a centre-stage concern in the global response to climate change," it says." (Financial Times)

"The sky is far from falling in on the climate" - "This week the climate change caravanserai has moved on from Kyoto, via The Hague and Marrakesh, to Delhi, where portents of our imminent demise will be divined from the entrails and innards of computer models.

It is time to say “enough”. This latter-day millenarian nonsense has to stop. Our childish discovery that climate alters is making a mockery of science, of history, of the long and turbulent geology of the Earth, and of human adaptation to climate and weather from time immemorial, and long before." (Philip Stott, The Times)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT: October 21, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 30" - "Hypothetically, what if The Washington Post devised a course to train potential members of its writing staff and called it Creative Reporting 101? An early assignment might consist of writing an article on global warming. The professor could stipulate a story as a basis for an article and allow students to use additional sources of information, including the Worldwide Web. What follows are the story that is to be the foundation for students’ creative reporting, two efforts to fulfill the assignment, our grading of them, our commentary, and a punchline." (GES)

World Climate Report Volume 8, Number 4, October 21, 2002 (GES)

"Shifting Sands: Dunes hold heaps of material—and climate clues, too" - "Scientists sometimes travel to the ends of Earth in search of clues about our planet's past climate. Hidden in the accumulated layers of arctic icepacks and seafloor sediments are subtle variations that track global temperature trends. Lately, researchers have been braving a different type of extreme environment—the desert—to garner evidence of ancient weather patterns. The shifting sands of dunes, the archetype of transience, might seem an unlikely place to search for long-lasting records of environmental conditions. However, climate changes that stabilize dunes into more permanent geological formations essentially freeze them in time, transforming them into chronicles of the weather patterns that sculpted their shape." (Science News)

"Despite lower CO2 emissions, diesel cars may promote more global warming than gasoline cars" - "Laws that favor the use of diesel, rather than gasoline, engines in cars may actually encourage global warming. Diesels can emit 25 to 400 times more mass of particulate black carbon and associated organic matter ("soot") per kilometer. This may more than offset the cooling due to reduced carbon dioxide emissions over several decades." (American Geophysical Union)

"Technique offers transplant hope" - "Changes in sperm engineering have allowed scientists to dramatically reduce the chances of transplanted pig organs being rejected by human patients. A new technique suggests the success rate could be improved from 4% to 88%, according to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." (BBC News Online)

"Brazil says unclear on China GMO soy rule extension" - "SHANGHAI - Brazil, the world's second-largest soybean producer, said yesterday it was unsure how China's extension of temporary rules on bio-engineered food imports would affect Sino-Brazilian soybean trade." (Reuters)

"The Science and Politics of Super Rice" - "Reversing its once-enthusiastic embrace of genetic experiments, China has imposed restrictions on many domestic varieties of genetically modified crops." (New York Times)

October 21, 2002

"Faith in Science Isn’t Going to Win This One for Us" - "More than 40 years of research has yet to document a single case in which antibiotic use in food animals has caused human disease due to antibiotic resistance. That scientific stamp of approval by default should reassure us. Yet, the FDA is poised to pull flouroquinolines from already limited and closely monitored use in poultry with no good evidence that it poses a threat. Meanwhile, we find ourselves a couple of congressional votes away from a near total ban on subtherapeutic feeding. Plus, food vendors are voicing growing impatience with holding back a rising tide of consumer unease about antibiotics in their food.

Science may be on our side, but it’s not going to win this fight." (Alex A. Avery, CGFI)

"Judge Voids Rules on Pharmaceutical Tests" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — A federal judge has struck down rules that required drug companies to test their products in children. The rules were intended to give doctors and parents more information about the drugs' safety and the proper dosage. "The pediatric rule exceeds the Food and Drug Administration's statutory authority and is therefore invalid," said Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. of the Federal District Court here. In the ruling, issued on Thursday, Judge Kennedy said that the food and drug agency was overreaching, just as when it tried to regulate tobacco products. In both cases, he said, the agency's rules were inconsistent with the statutory framework established by Congress." (New York Times)

"Gender-bending risk to children" - "Minute amounts of ''gender bender'' chemicals found in food and the environment are affecting the behaviour of pre-school children, new research shows. The Environment minister Michael Meacher said yesterday the research was very disturbing and he would ask his officials to "urgently'' examine its implications tomorrow morning. The study – carried out by doctors and scientists at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam – is the first in the world to show that normal levels of the chemicals affect humans. It follows a host of studies showing that gender-benders can turn wildlife species, from gulls and alligators to fish and turtles, into hermaphrodites. In the case of the children in the study, the chemicals caused girls to play with guns and pretend to be soldiers, and boys to play with dolls and tea sets and dress up in female clothes." (Independent on Sunday)

"Is there a 'geek' syndrome?" - "Observers are mystified by an explosion in autism cases, especially in California, where the increase has been more than 200 per cent. In Ottawa and Silicon Valley, CAROLYN ABRAHAM explores one controversial theory: That people with superior technical ability but poor social skills are meeting and mixing genes in high-tech centres, and having offspring susceptible to a disorder whose traits hold up an eerie mirror to our computerized culture" (Globe and Mail)

"Fat children outweigh fat adults, Statscan says" - "More than a third of Canadian children aged 2 to 11 are overweight, and half that number are obese, according to newly published Statistics Canada data. Worse, Canada now has more fat children than fat adults. And the younger the children, the greater the obesity problem -- a clear sign, experts say, that Canada's obesity epidemic is galloping out of control and that the health consequences will be staggering." (Globe and Mail)

"Health fears 'handled badly' by ministers" - "The UK public has little confidence in how the government handles health issues such as BSE, MMR and pollution, a survey has suggested. The poll, for the National Consumer Council (NCC), suggested that recent governments of both parties had "kept people in the dark", "manipulated" or even "ignored" concerns. There have been several issues over the past decade which have sparked widespread fears among the UK population. They include the BSE and vCJD crisis, which famously included then agriculture minister John Gummer publicly feeding beefburgers to his children to try to demonstrate the safety of British beef." (BBC News Online)

"Air pollution and health" - "The health effects of air pollution have been subject to intense study in recent years. Exposure to pollutants such as airborne particulate matter and ozone has been associated with increases in mortality and hospital admissions due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease. These effects have been found in short-term studies, which relate day-to-day variations in air pollution and health, and long-term studies, which have followed cohorts of exposed individuals over time. Effects have been seen at very low levels of exposure, and it is unclear whether a threshold concentration exists for particulate matter and ozone below which no effects on health are likely. In this review, we discuss the evidence for adverse effects on health of selected air pollutants." (Lancet 2002; 360: 1233-42)

"Tough health rules threaten power groups" - "The electricity industry faces potentially huge costs from an expected toughening of regulations on the siting of power lines by the National Radiological Protection Board. Within the next few weeks, the NRPB will issue proposals for new guidelines on electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from power cables. These will reignite the debate over the potential link between power lines and cancer." (Daily Telegraph)

"Why 'sustainable development' is neither" - "Our lives are governed by unlikely constructions of jargon, self-contradicting oddities that sometimes come crashing to the ground (mutually assured destruction, Progressive Conservative), or stay perilously aloft despite their contradictions (constitutional monarchy) or give rise to new impossibilities (pre-emptive self-defence).

This fall, Canadian debate is full of the clangorous tones of another such verbal collision: sustainable development. We come to it by way of our painful struggle over the Kyoto Protocol, and through Jean Chrétien's recent promise to double our foreign aid for "sustainable" projects.

In other places, it's been a prominent concern for 15 years. If you spend even a short time in the hallways of the United Nations, you will hear it uttered endlessly. Dropping the phrase "sustainable development" in UN circles is the equivalent of mentioning Jesus at a Republican Party gathering.

But just when we're first applying it at home, "sustainable development" is beginning to fall apart. For such a successful phrase, it has always eluded precise definition. Grade-school children now learn the 1987 explanation that brought it into the mainstream, by Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland: "The ability of humanity to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This is fine and worthy, and about as applicable as "buy low, sell high." So environmentalists, governments and agencies have published libraries full of more precise formulations: As tabulated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the phrase now has as many as 57 competing definitions." (Doug Saunders, Globe and Mail)

"Salmon jam B.C.'s Adams River" - "ADAMS RIVER, B.C. - Scientist are baffled by the huge sockeye salmon run in B.C.'s Adams River. There may be as many as five million fish trying to fight their way up the river to spawn. "That would be bigger than ever seen before," said fish biologist Brian Riddell." (CBC News)

"Quebec wants bilateral agreement with Ottawa on Kyoto" - "MONTREAL - Quebec wants to negotiate its own agreement on Kyoto with the federal government. The province's environment minister, André Boisclair, said Friday Quebec wants to ensure the way the government implements Kyoto protects its provincial interests." (CBC News)

"Ontario opposed to Kyoto plan" - "OTTAWA, MONTREAL, TORONTO -- Ontario is joining Quebec and Alberta in challenging Ottawa's strategy to cut greenhouse-gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, placing another obstacle in front of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's plans to ratify the deal by year-end.

Ottawa is making it almost impossible for provinces to support the Kyoto accord because it is mismanaging plans to implement the treaty and is risking economic disaster in Central Canada, Ontario's Environment Minister said yesterday.

Chris Stockwell said Ontario estimates the federal government may ask it to bear as much as 35 per cent of the burden for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions under Kyoto, a demand he warns will mean "huge job losses, a huge drag on the [economy] and billions of dollars in lost revenue" for Ontario." (Globe and Mail)

"Alberta plan rated too weak" - "Alberta's plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions does not go far enough to meet Ottawa's requirements for fighting global warming, says federal Environment Minister David Anderson. The provincial strategy, unveiled Thursday as an alternative to the Kyoto protocol, falls short in its less aggressive goals for reducing emissions, Anderson said." (Edmonton Journal)

"Kyoto plan favours Alberta, Quebec says" - "MONTREAL - Quebec's environment minister said yesterday that Ottawa's plan to implement the Kyoto Protocol would give energy-rich Alberta a "free ride" and penalize provinces like his own that have large manufacturing sectors.

André Boisclair said the province still favours ratification of the climate-change accord and is trying to line up other pro-Kyoto provinces to resist a federal government stance that it considers too cozy to Alberta. The only potential ally he would name is Manitoba, which also criticized Alberta yesterday." (National Post)

"Incoherent on Kyoto" - "The Kyoto Protocol is being compared by Albertans to the national energy program, in the sense that they fear an Ottawa-led attack on the energy industry. Kyoto is being compared by the federal government to the free-trade agreement, in the sense that it amounts to a "leap of faith" that will ultimately pay dividends for the country. But perhaps another comparison to the politics of the 1980s is the doomed Meech Lake accord. Kyoto is turning rapidly into Canada's biggest national unity issue. And the Liberal government has no one to blame but itself." (Globe and Mail)

"Global warming: governments may wind up in court - smh.com.au" - "Environmental groups say that tourism operators and private citizens could in future sue companies and governments for the consequences of global warming. The United Nations has just completed a report which estimates that natural disasters, including those related to climate change, could cost insurance companies up to $150 billion within 10 years. Next week the Australian Conservation Foundation will release research that says farmers in particular have a case to sue for loss of earnings on the basis of the link between droughts and climate change."

Cartoon Comment Only the trend has been changed to protect the gravy train?

"Disaster Area" - "The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) just released a document that calls for reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. No surprise there. But this time UNEP is saying such reductions are needed so that climate-disaster economic losses can be curtailed.

The UNEP Finance Initiatives Climate Change Working Group report (October 8, 2002) tries to pin economic losses from natural disasters like storms and floods to the air's increase in human-made greenhouse gases which supposedly has caused a globally-averaged warming. This warming, the report alleges, should have spawned more - or more powerful - climate-related disasters like storms. (Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, TCS)

"Cosmic rays 'linked to clouds'" - "German scientists have found a significant piece of evidence linking cosmic rays to climate change. They have detected charged particle clusters in the lower atmosphere that were probably caused by the space radiation. They say the clusters can lead to the condensed nuclei which form into dense clouds. Clouds play a major, but as yet not fully understood, role in the dynamics of the climate, with some types acting to cool the planet and others warming it up. The amount of cosmic rays reaching Earth is largely controlled by the Sun, and many solar scientists believe the star's indirect influence on Earth's global climate has been underestimated. Some think a significant part of the global warming recorded in 20th Century may in fact have its origin in changes in solar activity - not just in the increase in fossil-fuel-produced greenhouse gases." (BBC News Online)

"Aircraft vapour trails are climate scourge" - "Airlines could boost their emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and still halve their impact on global warming. That is the paradoxical conclusion of a new study into the effects of commercial aviation on the environment." (New Scientist)

"Max Planck Society - Press Release - Food for Thought: What are the Likely Side Effects of Fertilizing Phytoplankton with Iron?" - "Mark Lawrence, leader of the BMBF-supported Junior Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, has pointed out that the use of iron fertilization of oceanic phytoplankton as a means to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could result in significant, unwanted side effects on the climate and the atmospheric chemical composition (Science, 20 September, p. 1993, 2002)."

"India may face more pressure at climate meet - The Times of India" - "NEW DELHI: A US study says soot particles from industrial pollution, traffic, outdoor fires and household burning of coal and biomass fuels are contributing to regional climate changes in China and India.

A recent UN report on the Asian Brown Cloud, debunked by the Indian government and staunchly defended by the UN, said South Asia was covered by a 3-km-deep blanket of pollution which was changing weather patterns, impacting crops and killing lakhs of people by respiratory disease.

Experts, who feel such studies could be used to divert attention from control of greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries, say India and other developing countries may come under increased pressure to take more responsibility for checking global warming when a major international conference on climate change opens here next week."

"Indian cow source of global warming : HindustanTimes.com" - "While the climate change conference is all set to start in New Delhi next week, an international team of scientists here have suggested that India can help reduce global warming by changing the diet of its cows and buffaloes. The research on alternate eco-friendly cattle feed is being done at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Ruminants - cows, buffaloes, sheep and goat - belch out methane, one of the greenhouse gases, that contributes to global warming. Western countries believe that India's contribution to global warming from this source is high because it has a large cattle population."

Check out these dingbats: Picture | 2nd picture (AP)

"Fuel efficiency vs. air quality -- The Washington Times" - "In the early 1990s, California's legislature decided that, by 2003, each automaker would have to sell a certain number of zero-emissions vehicles along with conventional cars and trucks. Engineering and economic realities didn't matter. A mere legislative snap of the fingers, and viable electric cars (which are the only alternative fuel vehicles remotely close to being usable that qualify as "zero emissions" vehicles) would simply appear, beginning with the 2003 models. Ten years later, electric cars still aren't ready."

"BBC NEWS | Scotland | Blowing in the wind" - "Who could possibly oppose the idea of clean, green energy from 'renewable' sources like the sun, the wind and the waves? It seems people with the prospect of a giant wind farm on their doorstep are increasingly unenthusiastic. Of all the renewable power sources it is the most controversial and it is likely to get more so with an estimated 150 wind projects seeking approval in Scotland alone."

"Kansas City Star | 10 21 2002 | Impact of Gulf of Mexico `dead zone' felt on Midwestern farms" - "TWENTY MILES OFF THE LOUISIANA COAST - From a research boat, the "dead zone" looks and smells and tosses like any ocean. You just don't see many folks fishing. It was mid-September. As oxygen probes dropped to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, researcher Nancy Rabalais sat in the ship watching a bright orange line creep down a computer screen.

A summertime phenomenon, the low-oxygen zone shrinks in the fall. Fishers in the Delta count on autumn storms such as Hurricane Lili to mix up the waters and restore some of the marine life upon which thousands of incomes here rely. Now it is mid-October. And farmers 1,000 miles to the north harvest their own bounty of corn and soybeans. There is a link, scientists say, between lush Midwestern farmland and the lifeless areas of the gulf. Nitrogen from crop fertilizer is thought to be the dead zone's prime culprit."

"‘Negative Campaigning’ for the New U.S. Organic Food Standards" - "Organic food is certainly safer and better than the chemical-doused, genetically contaminated, or irradiated food typically found on grocery store shelves." --- Organic Consumers Association press release, Oct. 1, 2002

"When you eat food that is organically grown, you are taking a pledge to your health, while helping our environment, one bite at a time. ." --- Organic Trade Association, Oct. 1, 2002

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture launches its new official organic food standards, the organic industry is ratcheting up its ‘negative campaigning’ against conventional foods.

In Britain, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority recently forbid the organic food industry to make any claims that its products are safer or more nutritious. It says the industry has offered no evidence to justify such claims. (The industry told a 1999 House of Lords hearing it hadn’t had time or funding to do the tests!)" (Dennis T. Avery and Alex A. Avery, CGFI)

"Row looms over organic poultry" - "Government safety advisers are risking a row with Britain's free range and organic poultry producers by suggesting factory farms can more easily control the spread of the most common food poisoning bug. They say that a "key principle" of a "well-run broiler farm" is that chicken should be the only type of livestock to help reduce cross-infection. The interim conclusions come from a working group pulling together measures to reduce the amount of campylobacter in the food chain. The foods standard agency maintains there is no evidence generally of a significant safety or health advantage over conventional foods. It has yet to consider the poultry report but organic campaigners already fear the agency and the big producers will use it to justify intensive farming." (The Guardian)

"Organic Gets an Additive: A U.S.D.A. Seal" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 — Beginning on Monday, the Department of Agriculture's new seal labeling food organic will appear in grocery stores, making clear to consumers for the first time what produce has been raised without conventional pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones.

Until now, this debate about organic food has been confined largely to the elite consumer, according to the industry. Until mainstream consumers feel that organic food is worth the higher prices and extra effort it takes to find it, the number of organic farms will remain minuscule.

"It is very, very important to reach out to all consumers and make money if the organic movement is to make a difference," Mr. Cole said.

To that end, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, will post information on its Web site beginning on Organic Monday. The site, www.ewg.org, will use data from the Agriculture Department showing the chemicals found on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables and those grown organically.

"Organic is the gold standard for chemical-free food," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the group, "and we want consumers to know what they are eating." (New York Times)

'Chemical-free' food? What nonsense! The only valid distinction I can think of is "basically grown in poop."

"Tweaking Genes to Help Plants Survive Elements" - "For centuries, farmers have sought to discover and modify crops that can grow in otherwise inhospitable areas -- places that are too dry, too salty and too cold. While plant breeding has led to some advances, the progress has been slow, and frost, drought and high salinity still greatly limit global agriculture. But new research has begun to explain how plants adapt to hostile conditions, and advances in biotechnology have allowed scientists to start to use and significantly expand those adaptations." (Washington Post)

Letter of the moment: "Governments must take the initiative and push genetically modified crops" - "Sir, Pete Riley of Friends of the Earth urges the European Union's environment ministers not to cave in to pressure from the US government and biotechnology companies and lift the moratorium on approving new genetically modified food and crops (Letter, October 16). The reality, of course, is that pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth have been calling the shots on genetically modified crops and food in Europe, not the US government, the biotech industry or anyone else. ..." (Dr Nigel Halford, Financial Times)

"Row grows over GM food aid for Africa, as 14 million starve" - "A United Nations human rights envoy has been accused of endangering efforts to save 14 million people from starvation after he questioned the safety of genetically modified food destined for southern Africa. Jean Ziegler, a UN special investigator for food, claimed that big corporations had more to gain from the use of GM food in the developing world than the poor countries that were trying to fight starvation." (Independent)

October 18, 2002

"How Reliable Is Ballistic Fingerprinting?" - "The sniper spree in the Washington, D.C., area has spawned calls for "ballistic fingerprinting" of firearms." (Steve Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Sniper Case Renews Debate Over Firearm Fingerprinting" - "WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 — The sniper shootings in the suburbs of Washington have produced an intense debate over whether the government should create a nationwide database of ballistic fingerprints, electronic images of the unique markings that every gun makes on the bullet it fires and the shell ejected from it." (New York Times)

Blimey! They've discovered that poverty is not good for you: "Poor face multitude of environmental health threats" - "NEW YORK - Poor people in the United States have long been believed to suffer from more noise and air pollution, crowding and other unhealthy environmental factors than their wealthier counterparts. Now, study findings suggest that that exposure to such environmental hazards and the associated health risks may be higher than previously thought." (Reuters Health)

"Increase in Autism Baffles Scientists" - "Trying to account for a drastic rise in childhood autism in recent years, a California study has found that it cannot be explained away by statistical anomalies or by a growing public awareness that might have led more parents to report the disorder.

But the study's authors, who reported their findings yesterday to the California Legislature, said they were at a loss to explain the reasons for what they called an epidemic of autism, the mysterious brain disorder that affects a person's ability to form relationships and to behave normally in everyday life.

"Autism is on the rise in the state, and we still do not know why," said the lead author, Dr. Robert S. Byrd, an epidemiologist and pediatrician at the University of California at Davis. "The results are, without a doubt, sobering." (New York Times)

"An Ominous New Era" - "Pity the poor Environmental Protection Agency. Regulating industries is a slow and cumbersome process, frustrating for officials because it often fails to achieve the results they want. So the agency has come up with a new strategy, one that turns the Constitution on its head and gives unelected regulators the power of the sovereign. It's called regulation-by-litigation, and a lot of industries had better watch out." (Andrew P. Morriss and Bruce Yandle, TCS)

"Out of place prions trash cells; Faulty rubbish disposal may be behind mad cow disease and CJD" - "A malfunctioning waste-disposal system may be behind the degenerative diseases scrapie, mad cow disease (BSE) and their human counterpart Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). A mouse cell study now suggests that nerves die when tiny amounts of misshapen prion protein are left too long in the wrong place." (NSU)

"People near freeways are exposed to 30 times the concentration of dangerous particles" - "People who live, work or travel within 165 feet downwind of a major freeway or busy intersection are exposed to potentially hazardous particle concentrations up to 30 times greater than normal background concentrations found at a greater distance, according to two recently published UCLA studies." (UCLA)

"The Seattle Times: Local News: High levels of pesticide DDT found in Lake Chelan trout" - "A spot check by the Environmental Protection Agency has found lake trout from the crystalline waters of Lake Chelan containing high concentrations of DDT, enough to concern state officials who say they need more tests to gauge the public-health risk. Of 143 lakes randomly checked nationwide by the EPA, Lake Chelan's DDT levels were the highest. But diagnosing the extent of the problem, and determining whether the public should be warned about eating fish, will be difficult. Not only is the lake huge — more than 50 miles long and 1,500 feet deep — but public-health officials contend there's little concrete knowledge about the risks of adults eating fish laced with trace amounts of DDT, a pesticide banned in 1972, the same year Congress passed the Clean Water Act."

"Newsday.com - Lobstermen say lobsters still dying, blame West Nile spraying" - "HARTFORD, Conn. -- A group of about 30 lobstermen brought their pots to the state Capitol Thursday, telling lawmakers that pesticide spraying near Long Island Sound is killing their catch. Officials in New York and three Connecticut towns have been spraying pesticides in an attempt to kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. The lobstermen blame the spraying for a massive die-off of lobsters that began in 1999. They say that because lobsters and mosquitoes have a similar makeup, a pesticide that kills one will kill the other."

"Kilimanjaro's ice 'archive'" - "The ice fields of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania have given up remarkable new information about the African climate stretching back more than 11,000 years. Cores drilled into the glaciers high up on the peak support earlier evidence that there were three catastrophic droughts on the continent in the intervening period." (BBC News Online)

"India calls for sustainable development to counter threat of climate change" - "NEW DELHI, India - India on Sunday called for the adoption of renewable energy policies, especially in developed countries, to reduce gases believed to be warming Earth's atmosphere. Rising temperatures threaten to melt polar ice caps, causing sea levels to rise and threatening the existence of low-lying islands. Many scientists also warn of an increase in floods, droughts and other natural disasters due to warmer weather." (AP)

"The new climate change culprit" - "An elephant has just crashed into the arena where Canada's climate debate rages, but who noticed? Last month, scientists at the University of Victoria announced that they had discovered a vast energy source off the coast of Vancouver Island in Canadian territorial waters. The source is known as methane hydrate: a solidified form of methane gas that can substitute for fuels such as petroleum.

In one swoop Canada's energy picture has changed due to the size of the find, although the reserves may not be exploitable for some years. Yet, more profoundly, a foundation underpinning the Kyoto Protocol on climate change has been transformed." (National Post)

"Firms breaking promises on emissions, study says" - "Most of Canada's largest corporate greenhouse-gas emitters have failed to honour voluntary pledges to limit pollution responsible for global warming, says a new study by the Pembina Institute and the David Suzuki Foundation. The list of corporations that are participating in Canada's voluntary program to curb emissions but that have actually had big increases includes TransCanada, SaskPower, Imperial Oil, Stelco, Husky Oil and Epcor Utilities Inc., according to the report, which was released yesterday." (Globe and Mail)

"Minister preaches Kyoto values to Alberta; Anderson urges oilpatch to put economics aside" - "CALGARY - David Anderson, the federal Minister of Environment, marched into the heart of the Canadian oilpatch yesterday to tell Albertans the decision to ratify the Kyoto accord on climate change is one of values, not economics. "Canadians don't see this issue in a theoretical, economic way; they don't see it in economic terms.... In the end, it comes downs to values," Mr. Anderson told an audience at the University of Calgary." (National Post)

Horse spit...

"Ottawa Pushes Back Key Meeting on Kyoto Accord" - "CALGARY, Alberta - Ottawa has postponed a key meeting with the provinces on Canada's plans to ratify the Kyoto accord on global warming, a sign Prime Minister Jean Chretien's government was unable to nail down the specifics of implementing its plans in time.

Federal and provincial environment and energy ministers were due to meet on Monday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to discuss how Canada would meet its commitments to cut greenhouse gases under Kyoto, and how much it would cost the economy.

On Thursday, federal Environment Minister David Anderson abruptly pushed back the date, a move that surprised officials in Alberta, which had released an alternative climate change plan they said would do less harm to its energy-producing economy." (Reuters)

"Alberta offers its version of Kyoto" - "OTTAWA - The Alberta government is banking on the development of new technology to help it cut harmful greenhouse gases. The proposal is one part of a 50-year plan outlined by the province on Thursday. Alberta, which is opposed to ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, has argued that Canada should come up with its own approach to combating climate change." (CBC News)

"Blame cities for global warming" - "At the end of September, Arthur DeGaetano, a Cornell University climatologist, reported that Americans suffer 10 more hot summer nights than they did 40 years ago, but only "if they live in or near a major city." In rural areas, the average increase has been only two or three more hot nights. "This means that cities and suburbs may be contributing greatly to their own heat problems," says DeGaetano. He won't dismiss completely the theory that human activities are creating a more general global warming. He leaves room for doubt that "greenhouse gases could be a factor, but not the one and only cause." "Natural climate variability," the kind that has always existed -- industrialization or no industrialization -- is, according to DeGaetano, more likely a cause." (Edmonton Journal)

"World lags behind Kyoto CO2 emissions targets - IEA" - "PARIS - The world is not on track in reducing its carbon dioxide emissions and needs to do more to tackle global warming, the head of the of International Energy Agency (IEA) said." (Reuters)

"Carbon trading, climate change, and the Kyoto protocol" - "NEW DELHI and WASHINGTON, D.C. (18 October 2002)—As the next major meeting on global climate change opens in New Delhi next week, a potentially controversial report concludes that deals to counteract the carbon emissions of the smokestack industry could benefit more than the environment. It reveals that carbon-trading deals in forestry could sharply reduce poverty among the rural poor, while also providing businesses with an inexpensive way to "off-set" their carbon emissions. The research counters the view that most carbon-trading deals between industry and tree growers in developing countries will have negative environmental and social consequences." (FutureHarvest.org)

Told yer so: "New Zealand plans carbon tax to meet Kyoto targets" - "WELLINGTON - New Zealand announced plans yesterday for a carbon tax that will push up fuel costs but help the country meet targets under the Kyoto climate change agreement. The tax of up to NZ$25 ($12) a tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent will be levied sometime after 2007, and only if the controversial Kyoto protocol comes into force internationally. It would raise retail petrol prices by up to six percent, diesel by 12 percent, and gas and electricity prices by eight to nine percent, government papers showed. Big losers would be coal users, whose costs would jump 19 percent." (Reuters)

See yesterday's comments under "New Zealand's Solid Energy Fiscal Year Coal Exports +8% On Year; New Record"

"Wind Magic" - "Any sufficiently advanced technology," says Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law, "is indistinguishable from magic." Magic works as entertainment when the excitable human imagination sees the seeming suspension of physical laws. But the material cosmos does not operate by alchemy, luck, superstition or magic. The physical laws, uncovered by science, show a predictable universe." (Sallie Baliunas, TCS)

"Alliance sends Bracks energy wish-list - theage.com.au" - "In the belief that tomorrow's State Government energy statement will fail to curb Victoria's high greenhouse gas pollution, a broad alliance of industry, unions, local government, environmentalists and alternative energy groups have written their own energy wish-list. The alliance is concerned that while the government has released its $100 million greenhouse strategy and has encouraged wind farms, it has done little else to reduce the state's reliance on polluting brown coal electricity."

"EPA set to OK Massachusetts vehicle emissions program" - "WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency proposed approving a vehicle low emission program for Massachusetts, but will postpone acting on those parts of the plan that include the tough zero emission standards adopted in California that Justice Department lawyers oppose." (Reuters)

"WFP sends Zambia non-GM S.African white maize" - "JOHANNESBURG - The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) has sent 16,000 tonnes of GM-free maize to Zambia to feed the hungry while the government there decides whether to accept U.S.-sourced gene-modified food, a spokesman said yesterday." (Reuters)

"China steps up biotech research" - "China is set to quintuple its investment on research in agricultural biotechnology to $500 million by the year 2005, according to leading agri-research firm Monsanto of USA. Noel Borlongan, Monsanto government and public affairs director in the Philippines said, once China reaches the $500-million mark, it could top US spending on this area, signaling its leadership bid in the agricultural engineering field. China’s increasing investment in agri-biotech research belies claims by some anti-biotech groups that the world’s largest agricultural country is slowing down in this field, Borlongan said." (Philippine Star)

"EU lifts ban on GM food, may trigger labelling row" - "NEW DELHI: The decision of the European Union to end the ban on Genetically Modified food this week after four long years is likely to renew the debate over labelling and strict monitoring here. Import of unlabelled GM soyabean oil, which triggered a major debate between the agriculture, health and environment ministries here, is still pending resolution and is expected to set the tone for import and marketing of all other GM food in the country. The agriculture ministry has been at the forefront in pushing for stringent labelling rules for GM food thus far contending that existing environment laws require this as well, but the note forwarded is still being processed by the law ministry." (Economic Times)

October 17, 2002

"Fishy food-scare debate heats up" - "When The San Jose Mercury News slated a story on activists’ roles in the “comeback” of Atlantic swordfish populations, they probably didn’t expect much disagreement. But fishermen, through their trade association, are speaking up.

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) tells that Mercury News that the vaunted “Give Swordfish a Break!” campaign deserves none of the credit. Any swordfish turnaround, it says, is due to self-imposed fishing limits and quotas that were put into place two years before the swordfish boycott began. And swordfish imports “nearly tripled” during the activist-led boycott, which ran from 1998 to 2000.

NFI spokeswoman Linda Candler told the Mercury News that seafood boycotts “keep American fishermen from fishing but allow for more imports to come in. These campaigns only punish those abiding by the law. They do more harm than good.”

In today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer, an opinion piece by Center for Consumer Freedom research director David Martosko points out that today’s snowballing boycott of Chilean Sea Bass owes its limited success to the same charlatans that foisted the earlier swordfish crusade on an unsuspecting American public." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Killing people" - "Activists in the environmentalist movement have a callous disregard for people. You say: "What do you mean, Williams? We can't think of a more caring people." First, I'm not talking about sensible people who're concerned about clean air and water. I'm talking about the movement leaders and the politicians they have under their thumbs. Let's look at it." (Walter Williams, Washington Times)

"Tampa Trib editors say “no” to animal radicals" - "The Tampa Tribune has become the first major Florida newspaper to unequivocally condemn “proposed ballot measure that would permanently enshrine animal rights in the state’s constitution." In a Saturday editorial, the Tribune wrote: “If there is one ballot initiative this year which least deserves protection in the state constitution, it is Amendment 10.”

Calling the proposed amendment “an abuse of the initiative process” that would “cheapen” Florida’s constitution, the Tribune noted that the initiative would have “no practical effect here, except as propaganda for animal rights activists nationally.”

The Florida Farm Bureau's director of agricultural policies told reporters yesterday that the ballot measure (supported by illegal campaign contributions from Farm Sanctuary), was a bad idea all along. "It is a cynical – one might say greasy – attempt,” Cockrell said, “by national animal-rights groups that would lard up our state's constitution in order to advance a national agenda and perhaps to fatten those organizations' treasuries." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"FEATURE - Steamy India discovers joys of air conditioning" - "NEW DELHI - Indians used to sweating through searing summers have discovered the joys of air conditioners, making this nation of more than one billion one of the world's hottest air conditioner markets. Sales have been bumper this year and firms expect them to get better in a country where the summer mercury routinely rises above the 45 degree Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) mark." (Reuters)

Hmm... a couple of notables here: firstly, despite the claims of various misanthropic/technophobic organisations, post green revolution India is doing fairly well, with increasing disposable income - not bad for a country of roughly one billion souls that experienced serious food deficit only a few decades ago and, secondly; they're going to need significantly increased electrical generation to meet the needs of their growing economy and to power their consumer goods. What price green interference with building increased generating capacity receiving increasingly short shrift in a major country surging into the technology age?

Uh-huh... "Saving the planet saves money; Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is good for the pocket" - "Leading an energy-efficient life could save you £80,000 and save the planet more than 1,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases, a UK environmental scientist has calculated. The analysis shows that measures to alleviate climate change need not come with a financial punishment. About a third of the emissions in developed countries come from cars, homes and leisure activities. Raising public awareness could lead to big cuts, says David Reay of the University of Edinburgh." (Nature Science Update)

Presumably, this originally came with the caveat "... good for the pocket - except for the millions of people employed in the fossil fuel industries; societies and/or community services supported directly or indirectly by fossil fuel royalties and/or taxation; those employed in energy intensive industries; transport ..." Probably should have read "... good only for those who prosper in a retracting economy and who thrive on deflation, escalating unemployment and declining services..." Whether recycling is a net gain for the environment is a moot point, certainly some metals and glass recycling can be cost-efficient but, for the most part, no joy and probably a net energy loss in recovery, separation, transport and reformation. In one of their [increasingly rare] lucid moments, even New Scientist stated that the most environmentally friendly thing users could do with their magazine once they'd finished with it was to burn it.

"New Zealand's Solid Energy Fiscal Year Coal Exports +8% On Year; New Record" - "WELLINGTON -- Government-owned Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd. said Thursday it exported 1.8 million metric tons of coal in its financial year ended June 30, up slightly more than 8% compared with 1.66 million tons of exports in the previous financial year." (Dow Jones)

Hmm... wonder if that'll keep happening with New Zealand's left-leaning coalition government mulling carbon taxes on, well... just about everything, in the name of "arresting global warming" (charges'll never stick) - it's either that or corking all their livestock apparently (anyone got a market for some very buoyant sheep?). Ah Kyoto...

"Kyoto Protocol May Become Effective Next Year" - "BONN, Oct 17 - Senior UN and German government officials expect the landmark Kyoto Protocol to come into effect early next year - despite U.S. President George W. Bush's refusal to back it. This is pointed out in statements issued in the run-up to the 8th Conference of the Parties (COP 8) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that opens next Wednesday in New Delhi." (IPS)

"Don't hate us for opposing Kyoto" - "Dear Rest of Canada, This is your sister Alberta calling. We have to talk, now, about the Kyoto protocol. The buzz we're picking up from back East is that some of you think Alberta is a compliant stooge for oil companies, those Satans-in-hard-hats who put profits before environmental responsibility. That all we want is to keep the royalty payoffs coming and to hell with the planet, so anything we think can be dismissed as narrow self-interest, as in, "Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?" (Southam News; Calgary Herald)

"Klein backs off from anti-Kyoto ad blitz" - "EDMONTON - Ralph Klein is giving up his national advertising campaign against the Kyoto Protocol. The Alberta premier says he dumped the idea after getting feedback from focus groups in Toronto. They warned the province that the campaign would be seen as self-serving propaganda. But Klein says he'll keep pushing business groups and other politicians to oppose Kyoto." (CBC News)

"British rain puts paid to car of the future" - "IT IS the technology of the future, promising nothing less than saving the world’s environment and heralding the new hydrogen economy. But the first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to be shown to the British media was beaten yesterday by the British weather. The Ford Focus Fuel Cell Vehicle has a top speed of 130mph and a range of more than 200 miles, and is fuelled by 4kg (8.8lb) of hydrogen in a tank in the boot. The £1.7 million car emits no carbon dioxide or other gasses, and the water that dribbles out of the exhaust pipe is so clean you can drink it. Ford and other carmakers believe that hydrogen fuel cells are the technology to end the 100-year reign of the internal combustion engine. They envisage mass production starting by 2010 and sales overtaking petrol cars by 2020. However, the car, the result of research costing £300 million, came to a sudden halt while being driven by The Times in the Cornish rain, and the world’s top fuel cell engineers failed to fix it. “It’s not been tuned to Britain’s climate,” one said." (The Times)

"Preaching to the organic, anti-corporate choir" - "Last night in Washington, DC, an audience of nearly one hundred true believers were treated to a two hour tag-team rant from the organic food industry’s propaganda triumvirate. Andrew Kimbrell, who leads the organic food-funded (and misnamed) Center for Food Safety, presented a “book reading” from his latest opus Fatal Harvest, along with Michael Sligh of the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) and Wes Jackson, who founded the Land Institute.

Fatal Harvest was bankrolled by the Foundation for Deep Ecology, whose representatives were also in attendance. The Foundation, endowed with money from eco-zealot Doug Tompkins (who founded the ”Esprit” and “The North Face” clothing companies), also funded over 95 percent of Kimbrell’s 1999-2000 Turning Point Project ad campaign.

Alas, the actual “book reading” consisted of two brief paragraphs; in truth, the event was equal parts teach-in and political rally. Kimbrell presented his retrograde vision for 1950s-style farming unapologetically, calling lifesaving genetic food improvements a “biological attack on our planet” and describing the crusade against modern agriculture “our most important political battle.”

Wes Jackson, the philosophical grandfather of today’s green-food scaremongers, added to the rallying cries, calling on farmers to “beat your plowshares back into swords” and fight for organic-only food.

With the first USDA standards on organic foods poised to go into effect next week, and the state of Oregon voting next month on mandatory biotech food labels, one might have expected Kimbrell to be content, if not a little smug. On the contrary, he insisted: “None of us think that the organic standards should be a ceiling. They should be the floor, maybe even the basement of the house that we’re trying to build.”

Indeed, self-styled agriculture “experts” on the Left have their sights set on more than just agriculture. RAFI’s Sligh was quick to insist that “progressive food activists” work together with those in other movements. “Food has got to be organic,” he said, “and it has got to be just…. We have got to incorporate ‘social justice’ models into what we eat.”

Andrew Kimbrell was more blunt about his intentions. Acknowledging Ralph Nader as “my mentor, my teacher,” Kimbrell complained bitterly that America is “a corporate oligarchy – we all know that,” before calling on activists to make “political choices” to conquer “corporate control” in all aspects of their daily lives.

Recent excursions by big food companies into organic products have activists worried. Noted organic-only food zealot Joan Gussow recently told The San Francisco Chronicle: “When we said organic we meant local…We meant social justice and equality.”

Everyone who eats, take note: in unveiling its new “organic” standards, the U.S. Department of Agriculture carefully points out that it “makes no claim that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Biotech's warrior; Lawyer of fen-phen fame defending maker of engineered corn" - "From the outset of the fen-phen litigation in 1996, Peter Resnik knew it would push the limits of science, medicine, and law. The case quickly grew into one of the largest mass tort actions in American legal history, with 45,000 women claiming to have developed serious heart and lung conditions from taking the popular diet drugs.

Science emerged in Fisons' favor. Studies linked fenfluramine, not phentermine, to the deadly side effects, and Fisons was dismissed from the case.

The litigation continues against the maker of fenfluramine, American Home Products (now Wyeth), and to cover its anticipated costs, the company has set aside about $14 billion.

The victory barely behind him, the Boston attorney embarked on yet another high-profile case - this time, defending Garst Seed Co., the seller of the genetically modified Starlink corn that sneaked, unapproved, into the nation's food supply two years ago. Like the fen-phen litigation, the Starlink cases promise to play out in courts across the nation, once again bumping into the boundaries of science, law, and regulation." (Boston Globe)

"New EU rules to end ban on GM food" - "Legislation expected to bring the end of a four-year ban on the sale and use of new genetically modified food products in Britain and the rest of Europe takes effect today. The rules - which MEPs have described as the toughest GM licensing laws in the world - will ensure that all GM food and crops undergo a series of rigorous risk assessment tests before they are authorised for sale, marketing, or even planting anywhere in the EU. They have been drawn up with the specific aim of assuaging consumer fears for what critics call "Frankenstein foods". (The Guardian)

"France says not ready to end ban on new gene crops" - "PARIS - France this week repeated it would oppose any removal of an effective European Union ban on developing new genetically modified crop strains until precise labelling rules for GM products come into effect, which could take several months." (Reuters)

"GM could hold back the tears; Enzyme discovery may lead to tasty tear-free onions" - "A new finding could lead to genetically modified onions that don't make us cry as we chop them. Researchers in Japan have identified the enzyme that releases a tear-duct-tickling chemical when an onion is cut." (Nature Science Update)

"African divisions disrupt relief effort" - "The six countries worst affected by southern Africa's food crisis have tried in vain to form a united front on whether to accept genetically modified relief food, a debate which is already affecting the region's 14 million hungry people. Logistics in several countries have been disrupted as a result of Zambia's decision to refuse the GM maize even when it is milled, a hardline stance approved by those who fear that the technology will take root as a result of the crisis." (The Guardian)

"Zambians starve as food aid lies rejected" - "Despite a terrible drought, the African state says it is right to refuse GM maize from the US" (The Guardian)

October 16, 2002

"Exposure to atomic bomb radiation associated with nervous system tumors" - "A study of the effects of radiation exposure among Japanese atomic bomb survivors has found that exposure to even moderate doses of radiation is associated with an increased incidence of nervous system tumors. The finding appears in the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (NCI)

"Study looks at Gulf War vets, Lou Gehrig's disease" - "NEW YORK - A new study suggests that veterans who served in the Persian Gulf region during the Gulf War are at greater risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, than veterans not deployed to this region. The study, funded by the US Department of Veteran's Affairs, was presented here Tuesday by Dr. Edward J. Kasarskis at the American Neurological Association's 127th annual meeting. However, some experts said the jury is still out on whether or not there is a connection." (Reuters Health)

"Deodorant not linked to breast cancer: study" - "NEW YORK - Contrary to Internet lore, women who use antiperspirant or deodorant are not at increased risk for breast cancer, researchers report.

Their study of more than 1,500 women is the first clinical trial to investigate the widely circulating rumor. While several cancer organizations have issued statements that there is no reason to suspect personal hygiene products as a risk factor for breast cancer, many women remain afraid. In particular, some women believe that products contain harmful substances that can be absorbed, particularly by skin that has become cut or irritated by shaving.

The current report, published in the October 16th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, may ease these fears, Dana Mirick of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health." (Reuters Health)

"New studies advance scientific knowledge of drinking water disinfection byproducts" - "BETHESDA, MD (October 15, 2002) – In its September/October issue, the International Journal of Toxicology is pleased to publish the last in a series of four studies examining possible reproductive and developmental health effects from two byproducts of drinking water chlorination. These studies fill significant data gaps identified by a Federal Advisory Committee formed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on drinking water regulations.

Small amounts of disinfection byproducts, including bromodichloromethane (BDCM) and dibromoacetic acid (DBA), are formed in drinking water when chlorine disinfectants combine with naturally occurring organic matter. Several epidemiology studies have reported a possible association between these byproducts and adverse reproductive outcomes, including spontaneous abortion. Because the existing toxicology data was very limited, the Federal Advisory Committee recommended that BDCM, in particular, should be thoroughly studied for a potential causal relationship to reproductive and developmental toxicity." (EurekAlert)

"Pesticides banned many years ago still in some foods" - "About 20 per cent of the food we eat is contaminated with trace amounts of pesticides, even though most of them have been banned for decades, a new report says. A typical diet features between 60-70 hits daily of toxic chemicals such as DDT, dieldrin and dioxin, according to the study published in today's edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health." (Globe and Mail)

"Earth 'depends on creepy-crawlies'" - " - "Two leading British scientists are calling for a switch of research effort towards some of the Earth's smallest creatures. They say we know far too little about most of the other species that share the planet with us. It is humans' success, they argue, that threatens so many other species with oblivion. And the situation is so grave they believe we are approaching the Earth's sixth mass extinction." (BBC News Online)

"Greenhouse gas emissions rising" - "NEW DELHI: Nine days before the climate change theme envelops Delhi, the news is that greenhouse gas emissions, which are supposedly contributing to global warming, continue to be on the rise. When delegations from 186 countries meet here for the eighth conference of parties to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from October 23, they will be looking at who should do what, amid country divides. They will meet in a background of an average rise of 6.8 per cent in emissions (over 1990) by the richest industrialised countries. As part of the Kyoto Protocol negotiated under this convention, developed countries were to reduce emissions such as carbon dioxide by an average of five per cent on 1990 figures." (Times of India)

"Protein Power: Much Ado About a Gram or Two" - "Summary: It has recently been suggested that observed decreases in the nitrogen concentrations of some seed crops growing in higher-than-normal atmospheric CO2 concentrations may require us to eat more of those grains and their derivatives in a future high-CO2 world in order to get the amount of protein we require. Is this really so?" (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summaries: Malaria" - "Summary: Climate alarmists claim the dreaded disease will expand its prevalence over the earth as global warming grows ever more intense. Do real-world observations vindicate them?" (co2science.org)

"Interaction of CO2 and Light on Plant Growth" - "Summary: Sometimes people claim that the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment will be reduced or non-existent when environmental conditions conducive to robust growth are less than optimal. We here evaluate that claim with respect to light intensity." (co2science.org)

"CO2 and Nitrogen Effects on Soil Carbon Sequestration: The Whole is Often Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts" - "Summary: In prior carbon sequestration commentaries, we have discussed how atmospheric CO2 enrichment and nitrogen deposition each tend to enhance the capacities of earth's soils to capture and store carbon. In this essay, we look at what happens when both phenomena occur at the same time." (co2science.org)

"More Reasons to Question the Veracity of the Global Surface Air Temperature Record" - "Summary: A new study of the nature of the increasing divergence of the surface and tropospheric air temperature records of the last two decades of the 20th century points to the likelihood of the surface air temperature record being significantly in error. Journal of Climate 15: 2412-2428." (co2science.org)

"A 4000-year Pollen History from Peru" - "Summary: Four major climate epochs that climate revisionists would have us ignore are identified in this South American proxy climate record. Mountain Research and Development 18: 159-172." (co2science.org)

"Post-Little Ice Age Histories of Four Icelandic Glaciers" - "Summary: A study of lowly lichens in the paths of four Northern Icelandic glaciers reveals that two of them have not been in continuous retreat since the supposed end of the Little Ice Age. In fact, one of them has actually experienced recent periods of significant expansion. The Geographical Journal 151: 215-227." (co2science.org)

"White House, EPA clash on lower vehicle emissions" - "WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is again at odds with the White House on clean air policies, with the EPA proposing Tuesday to approve a vehicle low-emission program for Massachusetts that Justice Department lawyers oppose for California. The Massachusetts program incorporates the California vehicle low-emission standards that the Bush administration said earlier this month infringed on the federal government's authority to set vehicle mileage requirements." (Reuters)

"WHO you callin’ dangerous?" - "This morning, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its latest report on the powder-keg issue of genetically improved foods. The 8-page release takes the form of a Q-and-A about issues related to biotech foods, and has some activists hopping mad.

Why all the hubbub? WHO went out of its way to answer the question, “Are GM foods safe?” Here’s a part of WHO’s answer:

GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.

Canada’s National Post pointed out in a Saturday editorial that “a systematic campaign of misinformation” has allowed “environmentalists and anti-corporate activists” to “portray biotechnology as an enemy of human health.” The National Post continues: “This propaganda may play well on the poster-boards of Western health-food shops, but it is entirely baseless.”

The good news is that more and more reputable opinion leaders are seeing the light. Today’s New York Times tells the story of soybeans that are being “genetically engineered to cause fewer allergic reactions.” And in Australia last week, the Canberra Times reported that “there is no basis in fact of any adverse effect from eating foods derived from GM crops….[T]he environmental benefits of a number of these crops are enormous.”

Even the Roman Catholic Church, generally no friend of modern agriculture, officially endorsed “animal and vegetable technologies” a few days ago, declaring that “they are for the good of man.” Explaining the Church’s position, a bishop from the Philippines said that “God has conceived animals and vegetables as good creatures for man’s needs.” (Animal rights activists, take note.) He also observed that genetically improved foods “are certainly not more risky than the foods we already consume.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

This one believes the nice people at NGOs: "UN food envoy questions gene-modified crop safety" - "GENEVA - A UN human rights envoy Tuesday questioned the safety of genetically modified (GM) food and said big corporations had more to gain from its use than poor countries fighting starvation. Jean Ziegler, the UN special investigator on the right to food, said he put the views of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who say humans are at risk if they consume GM food over a period of time, before that of the World Health Organization, which says it is safe." (Reuters)

"Haven and hell" - "As the EU prepares to lift its moratorium on GM crops, two experts offer a vision of Britain 15 years on" (Hugh Warwick and Philip Stott, The Guardian)

"'Better Dead Than Fed'?" - "I grow poison on my farm, feed it to my family and sell it to unsuspecting consumers in the U.S. and around the world. That's what the president of Zambia seems to think. As 3 million people in his country face starvation, Levy Mwanawasa has let some 15 million metric tons of donated corn sit untouched in storage because some of it is genetically modified." (John Reifsteck, TCS Europe)

"FEATURE - South Africa ploughs lonely furrow for GM crops" - "JOHANNESBURG - An emotive regional debate on the safety of genetically modified food aid has thrown a spotlight on South Africa's stance on biotechnology, exposing a lonely but unwavering policy." (Reuters)

"China Grains-GMO headache back after short respite" - "HONG KONG - Headaches over China's rules on genetically modified (GM) crops have returned after a respite, with Beijing saying it may take 60 working days or more to get documents necessary for soy imports, traders said yesterday." (Reuters)

October 15, 2002

"An Effort to Undo an Old Reservoir in Yosemite" - "For most of the past century, the Hetch Hetchy Valley, 15 miles north of its more famous and bigger sibling within the park, has served as a 300-foot-deep bathtub holding melted snow from the High Sierra for people and businesses in San Francisco and its suburbs. Now a group of environmentalists wants to drain the eight-mile-long reservoir and restore the valley to what John Muir once described as a "grand landscape garden, one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples."

The proposal has generated excitement among employees of the national park, consternation among San Francisco's water interests and political feuding between the environmentalists and City Hall. A citywide ballot measure in November calls for raising $1.6 billion to improve the Hetch Hetchy water delivery system, which several studies have shown to be outdated and vulnerable to a big earthquake, but environmentalists are opposing it.

The environmentalists want to dismantle the 80-year-old O'Shaughnessy Dam on the Tuolumne River and release the 117 billion gallons of water behind it in the Hetch Hetchy Valley. More than 1,900 acres of submerged valley floor would be uncovered, an area that Muir liked to call the "Tuolumne Yosemite." (New York Times)

"Science group to assess biodiversity loss" - "Efforts to halt the decline in the world's plant and animal species could fail unless governments fund reliable ways to measure the rate at which they are disappearing, the Royal Society, the UK's national academy of science, warned on Monday.

World leaders agreed at last month's Johannesburg summit on sustainable development to achieve a significant slowing of biodiversity loss by 2010 - but no international consensus existed on how to monitor progress, it said." (Financial Times)

"Geologist links reef bleaching to pollution" - "A geologist specialising in fossil reefs says corals thrived in hotter temperatures before humans walked the earth, pushing pollution forward as a key contributor to current bleaching problems. The Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst recorded bleaching last summer, as sea temperatures soared. Brian Rosen from the Natural History Museum in London has studied coral fossils in Europe and says he has found reefs thrived in hotter temperatures." (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"Climate Research Looks To Land Use" - "TAMPA - Coal-burning energy plants and gas-guzzling automobiles aren't the only culprits in causing global climate changes. Land-use changes - urban sprawl, cutting down or replanting forests, and farm irrigation practices - might be just as responsible, according to a study paid for by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration." (Tampa Tribune)

"New thinking needed on atmospheric physics, study suggests" - "An atmospheric phenomenon called "sprites" could be pumping 50 times more energy into the upper atmosphere than was previously thought, suggesting our understanding of the global atmosphere is incomplete, according to University of Houston space physicists. Sprites are large, brief flashes of light that occur very high in the atmosphere above large thunderstorms." (University of Houston)

"New Website Targets Climate Change Science" - "WASHINGTON, October 14, 2002 - The US Climate Change Science Program Office has launched a new website that will be the main clearinghouse for information on the Bush Administration's interagency climate science initiative. This includes the White House's Strategic Plan, which will provide the principal guidance for the US global change and climate change research programs during the next several years." (EarthVision Environmental News)

"India's GDP to be impacted by global warming" - "With earth's temperature rising and leading to increase in sea level, climatic change will have serious impact on agriculture, economy and human health, an issue, which will be hotly debated at an international meet in New Delhi later in November.

The discussion is important for India as an increase in global temperature can result in fall in food production and decline in India's Gross Domestic Product by a significant 4.9 per cent in this century according to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change.

Billed to be the largest-ever international gathering in India, the 8th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, beginning on October 23, will be attended by 186 countries." (rediff.com)

"Retreat on Clean Air" - "The Bush administration has taken another step backward in the fight against air pollution. Last week, it joined the automobile industry in a lawsuit charging that a California program encouraging manufacturers to sell cleaner, more fuel-efficient "hybrid" vehicles — cars powered by a combination of gasoline and electricity — usurped federal authority.

The suit is a direct challenge to California's longstanding authority to set emission standards tougher than the federal government's. More broadly, it is further evidence of President Bush's unwillingness to offend his political allies by pushing the industry to develop cleaner cars and thus lessen urban smog and the dangers of global warming." (New York Times)

"Air Ball" - "The Environmental Protection Agency's recently released Latest Findings on National Air Quality confirms the good news that America's air quality is improving. Unfortunately, many involved in environmental issues insist on telling the public otherwise. The report details the positive trends for virtually every major pollutant covered by the Clean Air Act (CAA). It states that "since 1970, aggregate emissions of the six principal pollutants tracked nationally have been cut 25 percent." Consequently, air quality has "shown improvements over the past 20 years for all six principal pollutants." Other CAA programs, such as the one designed to fight acid rain, have also yielded emissions reductions." (Ben Lieberman, TCS)

"FEATURE - Cape Cod wind farm plan stirs up controversy" - "BOSTON - The image of a thicket of 40-story wind turbines humming in the breeze off the coast of Massachusetts' Cape Cod, a futuristic environmental paradise to some, may soon be a daily reality for locals used to postcard-perfect seascapes. A plan to build the country's first offshore commercial wind-powered electricity generator in cape waters has sparked a fierce debate over nearly every aspect of the project, driving a wedge among New England environmentalists." (Reuters)

"Jump-start for 'hybrid' cars?" - "Pennsylvania and New Jersey are considering legislation to require that total vehicle sales include a percentage of low- or zero-emission cars. Other states have enacted such laws. But the federal government has joined a lawsuit to overturn them." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"Sniff. What's Cooking? Funny Fuel, That's What." - "Making one's own fuel from a mixture of vegetable oil and methanol without paying taxes on it is a growing practice, particularly in Britain." (New York Times)

"FEATURE - Organic food-hungry Britons pile on the air miles" - "LONDON - If you believe the organic salad you just ate was good for you and for the environment, think again. Chances are, its ingredients flew half way across the world, polluting the air and burning more energy than was saved in growing them." (Reuters)

"Oh… you meant that organic food…" - "One week from today, the USDA’s new organic-food labeling requirements go into effect. As we approach “O-day,” the same self-anointed environmental saviors who agitated the loudest for the new regulations are whining that they will hold advantages for the “wrong” products.

The Los Angeles Times reports today that the organic food industry “has become a big farmer’s game” and quotes a local organic farmer’s complaint that “the movement has been adopted by big-ticket commerce.” Up the road in San Francisco, the Chronicle characterized organic growers yesterday as “the foes of large agriculture businesses,” and gave another activist a soap box to grumble that “corporations are going to walk away with the whole organic name we created.”

Why this hostility? Didn’t the organic food movement want to convert the masses? A clue comes from organic-only food zealot Joan Dye Gussow in a separate San Francisco Chronicle Sunday feature. “This isn’t what we meant,” carps Gussow. “When we said organic we meant local. We meant healthful. We meant being true to the ecologies of regions. We meant mutually respectful growers and eaters. We meant social justice and equality.”

Gussow, by the way, is an “overseer” of the Chefs Collaborative and sits on the advisory board of the misnamed Center for Food Safety. She is also a director of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, a $75 million philanthropy that doles out money to anti-consumer activist groups like the Tides Center, the Western Organization of Resource Councils, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Gene Jugglers Take to Fields for Food Allergy Vanishing Act" - "The soybeans growing on a test plot in Hawaii look, grow and taste like other soybeans. But some people who eat them will notice a big difference, because the beans have been genetically engineered to cause fewer allergic reactions. The project is one of several efforts to use genetic engineering to reduce allergies from foods like wheat, rice and peanuts. Scientists are aiming beyond food allergies, too. A group in Australia has worked on removing allergens from ryegrass, a major cause of hay fever. And at least two groups hope to genetically engineer the deadly ricin toxin out of castor plants." (New York Times)

"EU deadlocked on GMO food control, mulls compromise" - "LUXEMBOURG - EU farm ministers dug in their heels on plans to control genetically modified food yesterday, with little hope of progress towards lifting an effective ban on GM products until at least next month." (Reuters)

"US shifts tactics in GMO clash with EU" - "The clash between the US and the European Union over the safety of genetically-modified foods was supposed to come to a head this week. The US had long warned that it would launch a World Trade Organisation challenge if the EU did not lift its four-year-old de facto moratorium on approving GM corn and other crops already deemed safe by the EU's top scientists. The result would be a titanic trade struggle pitting the US, its farmers and biotech companies against the EU, wary consumers and host of environmental lobby groups out to rid the world of what they deem as "Frankenstein foods". But though new rules come into force this Thursday which the European Commission hopes will help to restart the approvals process, some EU member states are still refusing to lift the ban. And, surprisingly, the US is unlikely to do anything about it." (Financial Times)

"GM crops save lives" - "Through a systematic campaign of misinformation, environmentalists and anti-corporate activists have sought to portray biotechnology as an enemy of human health. This propaganda may play well on the poster-boards of Western health-food shops, but it is entirely baseless.

Fortunately, most Third World leaders are not swallowing this range-fed tripe. GM crops are scientifically engineered to grow large and taste good. But their modified DNA also offers improved resistance against pests, disease and drought -- the three deadly horsemen of Third World subsistence agriculture." (National Post)

October 14, 2002

"A poxy panic" - "The controversy over who should receive the smallpox vaccine in the event of a terrorist biological attack is as irrational as the UK government's decision to stockpile vaccine." (Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, sp!ked)

"BBC NEWS | Health | Darwin's theory 'may explain ill health'" - "People become ill because their bodies are unable to cope with the pressures of modern Western life, according to a leading scientist. Professor Randolph Nesse believes that conditions like heart disease, obesity and drug abuse can all be explained by the fact that the human body was not designed for the 21st Century. He suggests many serious illnesses occur because the human body has failed to evolve and is still designed for a much simpler existence."

So mismatched that human life expectancy has roughly doubled over  the last century...

"What the world needs more of - accountability" - "You're bored, so you blame your job. Your kid's failing, so you blame the teacher. Your family's unhappy, so you blame the world. Shame on you for playing the blame game, pointing the finger at everyone but yourself for what's wrong with your life and the world. Granted, you're hardly alone in this exercise, and that's part of the problem." (Liz Doup, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

"Cholesterol pill works so well, stroke study ends early" - "A major European trial of a cholesterol drug has been halted two years early because of its remarkable success in reducing heart attacks and strokes even among people with normal cholesterol levels.

Although it is common for drug trials to be halted because of dangerous side effects, it is rare for one to be stopped for outstanding results." ( National Post )

"New Zealand Herald - Hundreds rally against moth spraying" - "Hundreds of people protested today against aerial spraying due to begin on Monday to eradicate the painted apple moth. A three year $90 million aerial spraying of biological insecticide Foray 48B, or Btk, will begin on Monday over about 160,000 people in 40,000 households."

"Health scare over toxin in henna shampoos and hair dyes" - "Henna shampoos, cosmetics and hair colourings used by women are at the centre of a health scare, after scientists found that henna contained a highly toxic chemical. A panel of scientists last week called for a Europe-wide ban on a chemical which occurs naturally in henna plants." (Independent on Sunday)

"Phytoestrogen safety under scrutiny" - "11/10/02 - Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) reports this week that the Committee on Toxicity (COT) is consulting on a draft report that looks at the implications for human health of phytoestrogens in our diet. The group recommends more research and a greater check on infant formulae." (NutraIngredients)

"Costs and Benefits in Europe" - "TechCentralStation-Europe recently had a conference in Copenhagen on the merits of using cost-benefit analysis in environmental policy making. While I agree with the general conclusion of the participants that the use of such tools is gaining wider acceptance I would like to stress another point which also emerged from the conference: we still have a long way to go before governments actually base their decisions on the findings of cost-benefit analyses." (Martin Ågerup, TCS Europe)

"Letting the sea protect the land" - "An imaginative attempt to protect coastal land against flooding has begun in eastern England. It allows the sea to flood low-lying land, creating saltmarsh which forms a barrier against the force of the tides. The marsh attracts birds and other creatures, besides protecting the coast more cheaply than artificial defences." (BBC News Online)

"Was it good fishing or global warming?" - "Some unusual visitors discovered Ohio this summer. Were they just passing through or scouting for a new place to live? A flock of four bright pink-and-white roseate spoonbills appeared in July at Rocky Fork State Park near Chillicothe, only the second recorded sighting of the species in the state. As of Thursday, at least one of the tropical wading birds remained.

The number of birds and the length of their stay were unprecedented, bird experts said. But the spoonbills were not alone. Boaters spotted one to three brown pelicans on Lake Erie several times this summer. Roseate spoonbills are found in Florida, along the Gulf Coast and as far south as Argentina.

The brown pelican lives along the Gulf Coast, the Atlantic coastline south of Virginia and in Southern California. Their sightings here created a stir among bird watchers. And they raise the question of whether a string of recent occurrences points to tangible evidence that it's getting warmer." (The Plain Dealer)

"Yahoo! News - Global Warming May Have Caused Giant Squid Deaths" - "LUARCA, Spain (Reuters) - Global warming could be behind the mysterious deaths of giant squid off the north coast of Spain, a marine biologist said on Friday.

Experts at a marine life protection center in the northern region of Asturias said that of the 40 giant squid recorded in the area since 1962, three had been found in the past month.

"The increased sightings of dead giant squid could be due to various factors, from (military) maneuvers to pollution and global warming," Angel Guerra, of the Spanish Institute of Scientific Research, told Reuters as he dissected one of the squid in an attempt to establish why it had died."

"Currying favor with the green lobby -- The Washington Times" - "Many American motorists aren't aware that "BP" stands for British Petroleum, and judging from its latest ad campaign, it's safe to assume the world's second-largest energy company likes it that way. Despite the fact that it is the largest oil and gas producer in the United States and has huge holdings in eco-fragile Alaska, BP would like Americans to believe its initials actually stand for "Beyond Petroleum." That's the tag line in a blitz of billboard and TV ads BP has unleashed across America in recent weeks, emphasizing its commitment to a flock of environmentalist shibboleths, among them solar power, wind power and ratification of the Kyoto Treaty on global warming."

"Getting Shifty" - "For ideologues, when arguments are unpersuasive, you don't conclude your position is flawed. You just change your arguments." (Nick Schulz, TCS)

Promotion is the wrong word for this, scaremotion? fearmotion perhaps? Whatever: "Insuring it ends in a flood of tears" - "The unravelling of Anglo-Saxon style capitalism has continued in recent weeks with the realisation that the insurance industry's core business doesn't work. Competitive paring of rates by insurers to attract premium income, par for the course for years, has meant that even a mild crop of disasters can render insurance unprofitable. This was acceptable as long as investment returns could compensate. Now, with the demise of the bull market and consequent withering of investment returns, they can't. All this is playing out on a stage that is largely ignoring the risk of global warming. But as the United Nations environment programme pointed out in a report this week, this danger is real and present." (Jeremy Leggett, The Guardian)

[Jeremy Leggett is associate fellow at Oxford University's environmental change unit and chief executive officer of Solar Century, the UK's largest solar electric power company. His 10-year history of global warming, The Carbon War, is available via www.carbonwar.com]

"Kyoto will have minor impact on economy: federal study" - "OTTAWA - Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to comply with the Kyoto Protocol won't hurt Canada's economy very much, according to a report done for the federal government." (CBC News)

"Kyoto could cost 244,000 jobs; Federal study of climate accord reveals huge scale of economic damage" - "OTTAWA - The federal government conceded yesterday that implementing the Kyoto Protocol on climate change could cost the Canadian economy as many as a quarter of a million jobs, and $21-billion in output, by the end of the decade.

In a long awaited impact study of Kyoto, federal officials predicted the accord could mean between 61,000 and 244,000 fewer jobs by 2010. They also forecast the accord could mean gross domestic product would be between 0.4% ($5-billion) and 1.6% ($21-billion) lower than expected by the same year." (Financial Post)

"Accord will cost 'pennies,' Dhaliwal says" - "Federal Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal says the Kyoto accord will have a "reasonable" impact on the country's booming oilsands business, driving up operating costs by as little as a few pennies per barrel. Several Canadian petroleum producers have warned Ottawa recently that billions of dollars in oilsands investment are at risk if the controversial Kyoto climate change treaty is ratified, as Ottawa has promised to do this year." (Calgary Herald)

"Yahoo! News - Canada Govt Study Shows Possible Huge Kyoto Costs" - "OTTAWA (Reuters) - Implementing the Kyoto protocol could cost Canada as much as 240,000 jobs and C$21 billion ($13 billion) a year in lost economic output under one scenario advanced on Friday by the federal government. It was the most drastic of four possibilities outlined by the government as it grapples with how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, believed by many scientists to be responsible for global warming."

"Energy Bill No Closer to Passage (washingtonpost.com)" - "Two years after blackouts in California revealed serious flaws in the nation's electric power system, House and Senate negotiators are on the verge of abandoning efforts to write legislation addressing some of the problems. Senior House and Senate members met last week to discuss including electricity provisions in a larger energy bill, but failed to agree on several disputed issues. "To use a metaphor," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), the electricity package "is barely flickering."

Book review: "H is for hot air" - "Jeremy Rifkin argues that hydrogen could provide a clean, plentiful alternative to oil in The Hydrogen Economy, but Larry Elliott doesn't see it taking off" (The Guardian)

"2002 Spike in Air Pollution Reverses Downward Trend" - "California has endured its worst air pollution season in several years, as inland valleys have been smothered in a pall of haze and ozone has spread to far-flung regions unaccustomed to smog. The increase in pollution is a sharp reversal after years of improvements in air quality statewide and has renewed debate over whether California is on the right track in the fight for clean air." (Los Angeles Times)

"Blue Genes" - "Just weeks ago gene therapy celebrated one of its greatest successes, the almost-miraculous cure of a two-year-old Dutch child afflicted with "bubble boy syndrome." His severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) forced him to spend what was destined to be a short life hermetically sealed in plastic. But by removing stem cells from his marrow, genetically modifying them, and re-injecting them, researchers gave him a shiny new fully functional immune system." (Michael Fumento, TCS)

"Stanford researchers develop gene therapy technique that sharply cuts risks" - "Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center have devised a new gene therapy technique that appears to eliminate one of the major health risks linked to gene therapy. The technique, published in the Oct. 15 advanced online edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology, overcomes the need for viral vectors that have plagued gene therapy trials, while retaining the ability to insert therapeutic DNA into specific sites in the chromosomes." (Stanford University Medical Center)

"Eat, Drink, and be Merry: The Unnecessary Call for Mandatory Biotech Food Labels" (PDF) - "Executive Summary: An estimated 60 to 70 percent of the foods on grocery store shelves contain ingredients developed with advanced biotechnology - a variety of techniques that are alternatively known as bioengineering, genetic engineering, and recombinant DNA engineering. Virtually every person in the United States has consumed such foods. However, many consumers don't realize this, because labels on these products generally do not explain that biotechnology was used in their production. ..." (Greg Conko, October 2002, Cascade Policy Institute)

"Agribusiness goes organic - New law and growing appetite for wholesome foods bring mega-growers to the table" - "When Warren Weber and a band of other shaggy Northern California farmers started growing organic lettuce in the 1970s, they never thought it would come to this: organic Cheetos. Frito-Lay, maker of the popular neon-orange snack food, is plowing into the organic market. So are dozens of other mega-producers -- the very companies that organic farmers once derided as part of a chemical-dependent, agri- industrial complex choking the American food supply and deadening its farmland." (San Francisco Chronicle)

"Organic land covers area triple the size of London" - "Almost twice as many organic crops are being grown in the UK compared to a year ago and sales are the second highest in Europe, according to figures published yesterday. The report by the Soil Association, the country's largest organic campaigning and certification body, shows the area of organic land is equivalent to three times the size of Greater London, having increased from 240,000 hectares to 458,600 hectares in the past 12 months. Nearly 80 per cent of households buy some organic food, spending £920m, which is more than any other European country apart from Germany." (Independent)

"The Schmeiser story" - "Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer turned environmentalist prophet, recently lost his appeal against the biotech company Monsanto, in a case that sparked debate across Canada and Europe about GM crops.

On 4 September 2002, a panel of three Federal Court judges in Canada unanimously rejected all 17 of Schmeiser's appeal grounds, and confirmed that the farmer had violated Monsanto's patent on Roundup Ready canola. Monsanto issued a cross appeal for the farmer to pay back a larger amount of the profits that he had gained from the patented crops, but this was also dismissed." (Thomas Deichmann, sp!ked)

October 11, 2002

"Small Pox Threat Exaggerated, Part II" - "An epidemic of smallpox hysteria has broken out -- again. Feeding the frenzy is the Bush administration’s recent announcement that the smallpox vaccine will be made available to the public." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"Snipers and the Gun Lobby" - "Keeping the ban on assault weapons makes a lot of sense, while wider bans and stricter gun-control laws make even more." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Free press and copycat killers" - "WASHINGTON – The frustrating search for a sniper who has carried out a number of shootings in the Washington area so far has raised one of those classic cases of press rights vs. press responsibilities." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"EPA to allow pesticides without permits against West-Nile-virus-carrying mosquitoes" - "WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency, hoping to help stem the rapid spread of West Nile virus, said Thursday it will let some people spray pesticides on water to kill mosquitoes without having to first get permits under the Clean Water Act. "We do have the view that there are instances in fact when a Clean Water Act permit is not required with regard to the direct application of pesticides," Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA's deputy administrator for water programs, told the House subcommittee on water resources and environment." (Associated Press)

"Cancer risk for radiation workers" - "People who are exposed to even low levels of radiation at work may be at risk of cancer, scientists have suggested." (BBC News Online)

"Earth First! activist dies after fall from California redwood" - "A first-time tree-sitter with the Earth First! environmental group died after a 50-foot fall from a redwood, Santa Clara County officials said Thursday.

The man, whose identity was not released but went by the name "Naya," had been in the tree for only about 12 hours when he fell Tuesday evening, according to Dennis Davie of the Santa Cruz contingent of Earth First!

Loggers found the man after hearing moans in an area where a group of tree-sitters has been camped since August, Earth First! said. He was taken by helicopter to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead Tuesday." (AP)

"Ottawa rejects Alberta's request for Kyoto delay" - "OTTAWA - The federal government says it plans to push ahead with ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases." (CBC News)

"Canute was right! Time to give up the coast" - "A THOUSAND years after King Canute showed that man could not hold back the tide, the Government has come to the same conclusion. The Environment Agency, the government body responsible for flood defences, is planning a strategic withdrawal from large parts of the English coastline because it believes that it can no longer defend them from rising sea levels, the result of global warming." (The Times)

"EU Parliament proposes trading plan to meet Kyoto emissions levels" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Parliament approved a plan Thursday aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels through a trading scheme that will apply to major polluting industries. The European Union assembly voted 381 to 61, with 38 abstentions passing a first-draft of a plan to meet targets for reducing carbon dioxide agreed in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The plan is likely to face tough scrutiny from EU governments which must approve it before it becomes law around the 15-nation bloc. Some are seeking exemptions for their industries." (AP)

"Germany to press EU for new greenhouse gas targets" - "BERLIN - Germany's Greens, junior partners in the coalition government, said this week they would urge the EU to set new targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions which go beyond those agreed under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol." (Reuters)

"Calif. Overstepped Authority on 'Clean' Cars, U.S. Contends" - "WASHINGTON -- For three decades, the federal government has allowed California to plot its own course in its war against air pollution. But on Wednesday, the Bush administration sided with DaimlerChrysler and the General Motors Corp. in a lawsuit charging that California had overstepped its authority in revising its "zero emissions" vehicle rule last year." (Los Angeles Times)

"San Francisco Chronicle - Bush hits state's emission rules He backs carmakers in lawsuit" - "In an unprecedented federal attack on a California auto pollution program, the Bush administration backed carmakers Wednesday in a legal challenge to the state's requirements for increased sales of electric and low- polluting vehicles. Justice Department lawyers filed papers with the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco arguing that the state Air Resources Board's latest zero- emissions rules violate the federal government's exclusive authority to regulate fuel efficiency. The ARB rules do not dictate mileage-per-gallon standards but allow manufacturers to comply by selling a certain percentage of fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles that run on both gasoline and electricity. Similar arguments by General Motors and DaimlerChrysler persuaded a federal judge in Fresno to issue an injunction in June that delays enforcement of the state's rules by two years, from the 2003 to the 2005 model year. The state, backed by environmental groups, has asked the appeals court to overturn the injunction."

"Greenpeace hails Deutsche warning" - "A top investment bank has warned ExxonMobil that being tarred with the label of "environmental enemy number one" is a risk to its business. Deutsche Bank says investors should be worried about the Greenpeace-backed StopEsso campaign. The research note, published by Deutsche's Edinburgh-based energy team, has been seized on by Greenpeace as evidence that its campaign against the world's number one oil company is having a serious impact. Greenpeace has claimed that one million motorists are boycotting Esso petrol stations in Britain as a protest against Exxon's apparent unwillingness to take global warming seriously." (The Guardian)

"South Too Far for Northern NGOs" - "HELSINKI, Oct 10 - The relationship of Northern aid agencies and NGOs with the South is far from the 'partnership' they like to project, says a study released this week. The study 'Voices from Southern Civil Societies' points to inequalities despite the shift from the imperious paternalism in development aid practices during the 1990s." (IPS)

"FDA tries to remove genetic label before it sticks" - "PORTLAND, Ore. -- In an unusual move, the federal government has warned the state of Oregon that it could be interfering with national food producers if voters pass a ballot measure requiring all genetically modified foods sold in the state to be labeled." (USA Today)

"Label fight heats up in Oregon" - "PORTLAND, Ore. -- An initiative before Oregon voters this month that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods represents a potential Waterloo for U.S. farmers and food manufacturers. They see it as a beachhead in a global battle against what the United States calls misleading labeling. But proponents say it's a matter of consumer choice. ''It's costly, it sets up an absurdly complex set of regulations, and it raises a safety issue that simply doesn't exist,'' says Ken Yates of the Northwest Food Processors Association. Such sentiments help explain why a ballot initiative in Oregon, with a population of only 3.4 million people, has attracted $4.6 million in opposition funding, vs. the $10,000 collected by those who proposed it." (USA Today)

"EU Puts Off Deal on Biotech Rules" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - Divided over items from corn oil to pet food, European Union governments have abandoned hopes of reaching agreement this month on stringent biotech rules despite fears of being hauled before the World Trade Organization by Washington. The delay means no movement can be made on lifting a 4-year-old EU moratorium on new genetically modified crops, EU officials and diplomats said Thursday." (AP)

"Commentary: Biotech Food: Europe's Phony Open Door" - "I have my own test of European sincerity on the fiery issue of genetically modified food. When members of the European Parliament are at Capitol Hill luncheons, I make a point of asking if they're afraid of the meals they're eating. Invariably, they answer no. But they add sheepishly that they would risk unemployment if they publicly defended the genetically modified American imports that send protesters into the streets of the Continent." (Paul Magnusson, BusinessWeek) [Subscription required]

"Japan plans tighter rules on GMO imports for feed" - "TOKYO - Japan, one of the world's biggest grain importers, is set to tighten regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMO), with plans to ban the import and sale of unapproved biotech crops for use in livestock feed." (Reuters)

October 10, 2002

"White House makes offer on toxic chemical dispute - 10 10 2002 - ENN.com" - "WASHINGTON — The White House left open the possibility Wednesday it would consider adding chemicals at some time in the future to a list of a dozen toxic substances being phased out worldwide under an international treaty. The compromised, outlined in a letter to Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., is an attempt to resolve a dispute with Jeffords over implementation of the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants, a treaty signed last year and hailed by the Bush administration as a major environmental breakthrough."

"Post-Gazette - State to gather data on chronic illness, environmental problems" - "The state Department of Health will be gathering information on both chronic illnesses and environmental problems to create a database that could help determine to what degree environmental toxins contribute to diseases such as asthma, cancer and birth defects."

"Blood test may diagnose vCJD" - "Scientists believe they are close to developing an effective test for vCJD - the human form of mad cow disease. Researchers in Germany say studies on animals have shown that it may be possible to identify the disease in humans using a simple blood test. They said the finding could help to ensure no one gets vCJD from donated blood. At present there is no accurate test for the disease. There is no evidence that vCJD can be passed on through donated blood. However, there is a theoretical risk." (BBC News Online)

"Environmentalist's Warning of Coming Ice Age Labeled 'Bunk'" - "Capitol Hill - After years of being warned about the threat of global warming and how human activity is worsening the problem, Americans might be surprised to learn that a Massachusetts environmentalist is now warning of a possible coming ice age." (CNSNews.com)

"Control of methane emissions would reduce both global warming and air pollution, researchers find" - "Both air pollution and global warming could be reduced by controlling emissions of methane gas, according to a new study. The reason, researchers say, is that methane is directly linked to the production of ozone in the troposphere. Ozone is the primary constituent of smog and both methane and ozone are significant greenhouse gases. Mitigation should therefore be considered on a global scale and must take into account a rising global background level of ozone." (AGU)

"U.S. Feels Safe from Any Trade Threats over Kyoto" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium - The top U.S. negotiator on climate change said Wednesday the United States may face future trade disputes because of its rejection of the Kyoto pact, but such challenges were unlikely to succeed. The United States has been portrayed as the global environmental villain by green groups since it pulled out of Kyoto climate change pact last year, and some campaigners would like to see legal and trade sanctions against Washington. But U.S. Senior Climate Negotiator Harlan Watson said he doubted any country could successfully use trade rules to challenge the U.S. position on global warming." (Reuters)

"US Energy Dept sets greenhouse gas meetings" - "WASHINGTON - The U.S. Energy Department said it would hold a series of meetings beginning in November on its voluntary program for companies to report how they are trying to cut emissions of greenhouse gases linked to climate change." (Reuters)

"Bush Administration Sides With Car Makers in California Emission Fight" - "WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration sided Wednesday with auto manufacturers in opposing a California requirement that a percentage of passenger vehicles sold in the state achieve zero emissions, meaning reliance on all-electric cars. The Justice Department maintained that federal law overrides any state effort to regulate fuel economy for cars and trucks. In a 37-page filing with a federal appeals court in San Francisco, the department lawyers argued that California's zero-emission mandate impinges on what is solely a federal responsibility." (Associated Press)

October 9, 2002

"The National Academy of Junk Science" - " The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scientists and engineers "dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare." It regularly conducts studies for a variety of sponsors, most often the federal government. Recent topics include: "Students Are Safer in Buses Than Cars," "No Link Found Between Hepatitis B Vaccine and Multiple Sclerosis," "Heavier Trucks Should Be Permitted on Interstate Highways," and "Most Ocean Pollution Not From Tanker or Pipeline Spills."

The Academy is considered scientifically preeminent, and its studies are widely cited by the media and relied upon by the Congress and by executive branch agencies for the formulation of legislation and policy. Often considered to be the last word on the scientific basis for policy, they affect the allocation and expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars in the public and private sectors.

However, the published reports of two recent committees working under the auspices of the National Research Council (NRC), the research arm of the Academy, raise questions about both the competence and integrity of the Academy." (Henry I. Miller, NRO)

"The Precautionary Principle" - "The genetic modification debate has given new life to what is being called the "precautionary principle," which claims that if the possible adverse consequences are catastrophic, then preventive action should be undertaken, in spite of lacking evidence to support the prediction. This may sound like a prudent course of action, but it would in fact hold public policy hostage to those with vivid imaginations who are most vocal in proclaiming their phobias. It has been called "the categorical imperative of environmentalists," which translates to mean "thou shall not tolerate even a risk of risk" (Bate 1997). Noting a similar extreme formulation to the precautionary principle by a conservation organization, Foster, Vecchia, and Repacholi (2000, 979) argued that this interpretation meant that there could be no technological progress." (Thomas R. DeGregori, ACSH)

"Warning: you may be naturally immune to this food" - "The flap over Acrylamide -- that chemical formed by cooking starchy foods and sugary vegetables -- just got more interesting.

While unscientific know-it-alls like Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) deliver dire warnings that Acrylamide is a “nasty chemical” that “nobody wants in our food supply” [click here for audio], the journal Nature published a report last week suggesting that human beings might be immune to the chemical’s effects anyway.

Don Mottram of the UK’s University of Reading told Nature that humans “might be more tolerant” to Acrylamide than our neighbors in the animal kingdom. Nature notes that the chemical’s only cancerous effects were observed in rats and fruit flies, which “don’t eat heated food.” And besides, says Nature, lab animals only react negatively to Acrylamide when they are fed “concentrations 1,000 times higher than those found in an average diet.”

Well, it’s a good thing that’s settled. No harm, right? Don’t be so sure. The FDA is still testing over 150 food products in an effort to reduce Acrylamide levels “to the greatest extent feasible.” And CSPI, in its consistent style, in still carping about warning labels Talking about Acrylamide in a recent Financial Times story, CSPI’s Jacobson said that the FDA should consider “labeling products linked to cancer-causing agents.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"September 'is the healthiest month'" - "September is the healthiest month of the year, official figures reveal. A report from the Office for National Statistics shows that fewer people die in September than in any other month. It also confirms that people are more likely to die in January or December when the weather is coldest." (BBC News Online)

"Years of floods may follow Australian drought - study" - "SYDNEY - As if the current record-busting drought in Australia were not enough, farmers may have to prepare for extreme and recurring flooding over the next 25 years or so, according to new research on longer-term weather patterns. Stuart Franks of Newcastle University said yesterday that a study of El Nino and La Nina cycles found Australia goes through periods of up to 30 years of benign weather, followed by a quarter of a century of severe drought and floods." (Reuters)

"Tokyo Bay ignored in 'heat island' debate" - "While the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and researchers race to gather information on the "heat island" effect in central Tokyo, the possible impact of the phenomenon on the waters of Tokyo Bay is an issue that has been largely ignored." (Japan Times)

"Climate Model Inadequacies" - "Summary: The breadth and depth of deficiencies of state-of-the-art climate models make their apologists more the purveyors of political persuasion and fanatical faith than exponents of objective reality." (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summary: Medieval Warm Period (Asia)" - "Summary: Climate alarmists would like you to believe there never was a Medieval Warm Period, as its existence refutes their contention that the last two decades of the 20th century were (1) the warmest of the past millennium and (2) CO2-induced. But climate history cannot be hid forever, as we begin to demonstrate with this review." (co2science.org)

"Subject Index Summary: Microorganisms" - "Summary: A review of the recently published literature indicates that future increases in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration will likely enhance the growth and activities of soil microbial organisms, which may in turn enhance plant productivity and ecosystem carbon sequestration." (co2science.org)

"Temperature and Precipitation Biases Introduced by the Automation of Meteorological Data Collection" - "Summary: Climate alarmists frequently contend that the 20th century warming identified in data sets utilized by the IPCC is robust. But is it? A new study raises some nagging questions. Atmosphere-Ocean 40: 333-359." (co2science.org)

"A 205-Year History of Mean Sea-Level Pressure From India" - "Summary: Climate-model predictions suggest global warming will produce more extreme and variable weather. Real-world data from Madras, India suggest just the opposite. International Journal of Climatology 22: 1119-1142." (co2science.org)

Environmentally friendly tax evasion? "Frying squad foils cooking oil car scam" - "A special police unit nicknamed the "frying squad" has been formed in a market town where hundreds of drivers are believed to be running their diesel cars on cooking oil. Sniffing out unusually fragrant exhaust fumes, highway patrols have already collared several dozen offenders, who save more than 40p a litre by diverting oil from the kitchen cupboard to under the bonnet." (The Guardian)

"Farmers, environmentalists ask government to block sale of corn that may contain toxic mold" - "WASHINGTON - Farmers and an environmental group worry that a biotech corn suspected of containing toxic mold could contaminate the food supply, prompting them to ask Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to keep it off the market." (Associated Press)

Groan, the fact that it's supposed to be Bt corn reduces likelihood of insect damage, which consequently reduces the amount of aflatoxin-producing fusarium growth. Aflatoxin is quite common in stored grain - more so in non-biotech. Shameless activist attempt to associate biotech with something that sounds bad - and shame on AP for falling for it.

"WFP says seeks non-GM food aid for Zambia" - "LUSAKA - The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said that 12,000 tonnes of GM-free maize had begun arriving in Zambia and the agency was seeking another 16,000 tonnes from within southern Africa. Zambia, one of six countries in the region battling severe food shortages, banned all genetically-modified food aid in August, citing health concerns." (Reuters)

October 8, 2002

"FEATURE - Arsenic lawsuits get under US wood treaters' skin" - "Chromated copper arsenate, or CCA, has been used to protect wood from leaching and erosion for more than 70 years and is most often used outdoors in decks and playgrounds.

For the last 20 years or so, any litigation against the makers of CCA-treated wood has mostly involved individual claims against small, privately held companies.

Recently, however, several class-action lawsuits have surfaced naming big players in the CCA-treated lumber market, recalling recent legal nightmares including scores of asbestos claims that drove some U.S. firms into bankruptcy. Big Tobacco companies have also been hit by billions of dollars worth of legal claims.

"This could be a substantial litigation in terms of dollars," said Lester Brickman, a professor at Cardozo Law School in New York and an expert on asbestos litigation. "Class actions are where the money is at." (Reuters)

"Doctor opposes Gulf War syndrome 'mythology'" - "LONDON - As the world prepares for a possible second Gulf War, there is unfinished business from the first: Gulf War syndrome, the media's name for a collection of symptoms that disabled thousands of otherwise healthy veterans. More than a decade after allies fought to drive Iraqi troops from Kuwait, thousands of veterans are still suffering symptoms that range from exhaustion to loss of motor function. It makes a good news story, but Dr. Harry Lee says it is time to drop it. The reports are hurting his patients. "It's been a tragedy. It's been a mythology that's been propounded by the press and television," said Lee, who heads a team that worked with 3,000 British Gulf veterans for the Defense Ministry. "The more people cling to a group of symptoms--'I served in the Gulf so I have Gulf War Syndrome'--then they won't get better," he told Reuters." (Reuters)

"Diet Doubts" - "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a massive investigation into a possibly cancerous agent in our food. FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester Crawford announced last week that acrylamide, a chemical recently discovered in certain cooked foods, "is a problem" and that "it doesn't need to be in food." Clark University professor Clark Hattis estimated recently that "acrylamide causes several thousand cancers per year in Americans." (Howard Fienberg, TCS)

"Restrict antibiotic use in animals: scientists" - "OTTAWA - A federal science panel is calling for a crackdown in the use of antibiotics on farm animals. The panel says antibiotic-resistant bacteria is developing in humans because of what we eat. Scientists say animals fed with antibiotics have become breeding grounds for resistant bacteria that can be passed to humans." (CBC News)

"For the Ozone Layer, a New Look" - "Is the ozone layer healing? Satellite observation of the hole that developed over Antarctica in the mid-1980's shows that it has split in two and has shrunk considerably since last year, making it the smallest it has been since 1988. But federal scientists say the condition is most likely temporary and probably has nothing to do with the international ban on chemicals that deplete the ozone layer, which shields the planet from harmful solar radiation." (New York Times)

The part about the Montreal Protocol being irrelevant, I believe, it's the relevance of the Antarctic Ozone Anomaly that's moot...

"Climate change costs seen at $150 bln a year - UN report" - "LONDON - More frequent and more devastating storms caused by climate change could cost $150 billion a year within the next ten years, possibly bankrupting financial services firms, a United Nations-backed report warned yesterday." (Reuters) | Natural disasters pose huge risks for global financial sector, UN report warns (UN News)

"Air travel is major factor in global warming, says scientist" - "Air travel is having a major impact on global warming, a scientist warned yesterday. Professor Tim O'Riordan, of the UK Sustainable Development Commission, said the daily air shuttle from Aberdeen to London emitted as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and other warming gases as if every passenger travelled to their destination alone in a car." (The Herald)

"A polluted process -- The Washington Times" - "Politics, they say, is the art of compromise. You give something, I give something. In the end, we wind up with something everyone's happy with. That's how worthwhile legislation is forged, right? Yes, usually. But compromise could earn a bad name from the old-fashioned "horse-trading" under way as federal lawmakers try to hammer out a deal over energy legislation they hope to send President Bush sometime soon."

"Tissue Culture Could End Famine: Expert" - "TISSUE culture, a form of biotechnology which involves the multiplication of plant cells to produce disease-free seedlings, could be the answer to drought-stricken southern Africa if adopted on a commercial scale by both farmers and the private sector, a lecturer at the Zambia University Crop Science Department, has said. Zimbabwe and Zambia, in a dilemma over acceptance of genetically modified (GM) food, are being challenged to commercialise tissue culture, which enables farmers to produce high-yielding crops. Genetic engineering is the latest form of biotechnology. This engineering involves the manipulation of plant genes to produce disease-free, high-yielding and quality crops." (The Daily News (Harare))

October 7, 2002

"Gun Strategists Are Watching Brooklyn Case" - "A Brooklyn lawsuit has become a pivotal test that could affect civil suits against the gun industry nationally." (New York Times)

"Birds, barking, beer and bellies" - "The wacky studies that should probably never have been carried out are celebrated at the IgNobels, a spoof on the Nobels." (BBC News Online)

Speaking of which, Dr Aaron Oakley has opened a new blog, click here to check out "Bizzare Science"

"The epidemic that never was" - "Did activists and the media create a suburban legend? When is an epidemic not an epidemic? When do activist groups help a sometimes uncritical media to create one?" (BMJ)

"Newsday.com - Report: Residents near tainted wells at higher risk of cancer" - "EAST FISHKILL, N.Y. (AP) _ Residents who drink from neighborhood wells tainted with a chemical degreaser have an increased risk of developing cancer, according to a state report. The state Department of Health report released Friday found 28 percent of polluted wells in the Shenandoah neighborhood in Dutchess County were so contaminated that people who drank the water for up to 30 years face a low increased risk of getting cancer. Ten percent face a moderate increased risk."

"Dead in the water" - "We spent billions to clean up the Great Lakes and show the world that even severe environmental injuries can heal. But the celebrating began much too soon. In this special report, MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT reveals that not only is Lake Erie dying again, scientists fear that this time there is nothing they can do to save it." (Globe and Mail)

"Klamath Gothic; Good science is no longer sent over the falls" - "Once again, the environmentalists in Oregon's Klamath Basin are throwing tantrums and filing lawsuits over water and fish. The difference this time is that the grown-ups are back in charge at the federal agencies." (Kimberley A. Strassel, The Wall Street Journal)

"Is there a link between soy formula and attention deficit disorder?" - "Does soy-based infant formula lead to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? There's much speculation -- but little science -- on this association. Shedding some light on this problem, a UC Irvine-led study discovered that a mineral found in high levels in soy milk appears to be linked to behavioral problems." (University of California - Irvine)

"Ecoterror's troubling trend" - "GRAYS RIVER, WASH. – After destroying the United States Forest Service Northeast Research Station in Irvine, Pa. this summer, members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) used the incident to announce an escalation in their attacks.

"This global revolutionary movement is no longer limiting their revolutionary potential by adhering to ... nonviolent ideology," the perpetrators wrote. "While innocent life will never be harmed in any action we undertake ... we will no longer hesitate to pick up the gun to implement justice, and provide the needed protection for our planet that decades of legal battles, pleading protest, and economic sabotage have failed so drastically to achieve." (Ed Hunt, The Christian Science Monitor)

"Spare the cows" - "The people who object to those of us who enjoy eating tasty animals are at it again, this time waging war on milk-drinkers. I'm referring to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) zealots. Targeting college newspapers with ads suggesting students drink beer instead of milk shows just how far over the edge the group is. They call it their "Got Beer" campaign, named after the successful dairy industry "Got Milk" commercials. It appears the PETA people may be a little too far into the suds themselves to think straight." (Dick Boland, Washington Times)

"Coral Bleaching Found for First Time in Hawaiian Reefs" - "HONOLULU -- Scientists have found the first evidence of coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands, providing a worrisome sign of more potential environmental damage from global warming. Coral bleaching happens when the algae that populate and build the coral die off." (Associated Press) [em added]

Coral (coelenterate) has been reclassified alga (plant) now? So, that makes coral... seaweed?

Same silliness, different day: "Tuvalu's Sinking Feeling" - "A Pacific island nation fears vanishing beneath the waves. It is weighing a suit against the U.S. over emissions blamed for global warming." (Los Angeles Times)

"Climate change meet ends without pact - The Times of India" - "NEW DELHI: The two-day international conference of environment ministers and officials from 40 countries concluded on Tuesday with little movement towards a compromise from the earlier stated positions. It is meant to clear the way for the worldwide summit on implementing the UN agreement on checking climate change, scheduled here for later this month. The developing countries are, as usual, pressing the developed ones to do various things to check emissions into the atmosphere, without the former having to do likewise. Some developed countries agree with this in principle, but others, led by the US, don't."

"Global oil firms support Kyoto, executive says" - "Alberta oilpatch is alone in opposition; petroleum industry must invest in clean energy to prosper: ex-Shell engineer." (The Ottawa Citizen)

"Republicans block global warming in US energy bill" - "WASHINGTON - Republican House negotiators refused to allow a prime Senate goal - tracking U.S. companies' greenhouse gas emissions - into a comprehensive energy bill last week but a leading senator said the issue was not dead." (Reuters)

"Is the “Organic Ethic” Ethical?" - "The Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues, an agriculture policy research group, has become identified as the leading critic of organic farming, so reporters often call us for negative quotes when they’re doing a story on organic foods. The most recent example is Newsweek, which just ran a cover story on organic farming in time for the rollout in late October of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new federal organic food standards. (Alex A. Avery, Hudson Institute)

"When 'Green' Policies Harm Humans" - "We are 6 billion" is the slogan of many environmental and anti-globalization groups, most of which are run by wealthy, white, male Northern Europeans and North Americans who claim they are defending the poor and Mother Earth against the evils of globalization, multi-national corporations and modern technology. But are they really doing that much good?" (Thomas R. DeGregori, Cato Institute)

"Researchers create new strategy for removing arsenic from soil" - "A team of researchers, led by a University of Georgia scientist, has developed the first transgenic system for removing arsenic from the soil by using genetically modified plants. The new system could have a major impact on arsenic pollution, which is a dramatic and growing threat to the environment and to human and animal health worldwide." (University of Georgia)

"WEEKLY FARM: Are consumers ready for food from biotech animals?" - "WASHINGTON -- Will people eat a hot dog made from a cloned pig or drink milk from a cow whose genetic makeup was designed to be immune to mad cow disease? Researchers are working to make these animals and products a reality. In doing so, they are promoting biotechnology in farm animals as the key to advancements in nutrition and treating human diseases." (The Associated Press)

"Biotech vision glitters, but at a distance - The Times of India" - "PARIS: In the space of just two days, major events in biotechnology have shown just how alluring the gene dream can be, but also the long and troubled path that lies ahead to achieve it."

"Strict EU Limits Could Kill GM-Free Animal Feed" - "BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 4, 2002 - If the European Union imposes strict segregation and purity requirements on suppliers of animal feed to sift out genetically modified (GM) ingredients, this could force production costs of GM-free feed so high as to eliminate the option from the market, it was claimed today. The prediction comes as ministers prepare to finalize European Union legislation on the traceability and labeling of genetically modified foods and feeds." (ENS)

"South Africa offers to mill GM food for stricken region" - "LUANDA - South Africa offered last week to mill 600,000 tonnes of genetically modified grains sitting at its ports while hunger-stricken countries in the region decide whether or not to accept the gene-altered foods." (Reuters)

"US 'dumping unsold GM food on Africa'" - "Two leading international environment and development groups accused the US yesterday of manipulating the southern African food crisis to benefit their GM food interests and of using the UN to distribute domestic food surpluses which could not otherwise find a market." (The Guardian)

October 4, 2002

"Cell Phone Suit Gets Bad Reception" - "A federal judge this week dismissed an $800 million lawsuit alleging cell phone use caused a Maryland physician’s brain cancer. Judge Catherine Blake ruled the plaintiff’s scientific evidence wasn’t sufficiently reliable or relevant." (Steven Milloy, FoxNews.com)

"U.S. green group says diesel soot is big cancer risk" - "WASHINGTON — Tiny soot particles emitted by diesel-fueled cars, trucks, and construction equipment are a major contributor to the cancer risk from air pollution, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said on Thursday." (Reuters)

"Undisclosed Report: EPA Knew It Was Toxic" - "A fight for independence once again is centered on Pennsylvania. Small-town opponents of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) biosolids program are seeking legislative independence from what started as a governmental solution for a hazardous-waste problem. That solution, according to EPA's own findings, is a deadly one." (Insight)

"English and Welsh rivers 'improving'" - "English and Welsh rivers are cleaner than at any time since records began, the Environment Agency says. It says urban rivers have started catching up with rural ones. Its annual survey of over 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) of rivers and canals says the substantial improvements since 1990 have been sustained. River quality is one of the UK Government's 15 headline indicators of sustainable development." (BBC News Online)

Sigh... "News on the environment isn't always bad" - "Thanks to a ban on CFCs, the ozone layer will soon mend. It could offer a model for tackling climate change." (The Christian Science Monitor)

"Research: Deep sea basalt may help reveal volcanoes’ impact on climate" - "By examining volcanic rocks retrieved from deep in the ocean, scientists have found they can estimate the carbon dioxide stored beneath much of the earth's surface – a development that could enhance understanding of how volcanoes affect climate." (University of Florida)

"Kyoto sparks fear, loathing in Canada oil heartland" - "CALGARY, Alberta — It is a classic Canadian battle, with one region threatening separation from the country, accusations of federal betrayal, and fears that a culture hangs in the balance. But the arguments, over the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, are on the western front this time, and not in Quebec, where a push by French-speaking Quebecers to create their own nation long created painful divisions. The wealthy oil-rich province of Alberta, led by Conservative Premier Ralph Klein, says Kyoto's tough rules on the environment could devastate its oil industry, and it vows to fight the protocol every step of the way. It has threatened court action and even raised the specter of separation, despite opinion polls that show most Canadians support the international climate change treaty." (Reuters)

"EU will miss Kyoto target-top energy economist" - "BRUSSELS - The EU will be unable to reach its Kyoto targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions even if it launches new policies on boosting cleaner energy, the International Energy Agency's chief economist said. According to IEA forecasts, the European Union could boost the share of renewable power like wind and solar in its electricity generation to 30 percent by 2030, but even that would not cut enough emissions to meet climate change targets." (Reuters)

"Leukaemia alert over gene therapy" - "Gene therapy trials in the UK will be closely monitored after a child undergoing treatment in France developed cancer. Members of the Department of Health's gene therapy advisory committee (GTAC) said on Thursday they had decided against halting trials. Both France and the United States have suspended gene therapy trials in children with potentially life-threatening x-Severe Combined Immunodeficiency syndrome (x-SCID)." (BBC News Online)

"U.S. consumers challenge spread of biotech food" - "KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tomato genes crossed with fish. Vegetables that glow in the dark. Much of the modern-day lore surrounding genetic modifications to food has the ring of science fiction. But with real-life genetic alterations now embedded in a myriad of commonplace food products from produce to potato chips, Americans are starting to sit up and take their supper seriously. From the West Coast to the East, grass roots consumer groups are lining up alongside a mix of scientists and environmentalists, challenging corporate giants to answer questions about what is happening to the food they eat." (Reuters)

"Environmentalists Turn to Terrorism" - "In Africa, environmental groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have lobbied the governments of drought-stricken countries not to distribute American corn donated as food aid to their millions of starving people—because it might contain genetically modified kernels.

Thus Greenpeace and Friends say that starving Africans should forgo foodstuffs that most of those organizations’ American members have been eating for the past decade, with no ill effects, so that Western greens can make a political point.

The president of Zambia says the activists told him the corn is “poison.” This is the same pest-resistant corn approved for safety by three different U.S. government agencies, and eaten daily since 1995 by millions of Americans in such forms as corn flakes, corn flour, and, through livestock feed, hamburgers and ice cream. Biotech foods have undergone more testing than any foods in history, with no danger found." (Dennis T. Avery, Hudson Institute)

October 3, 2002

"It’s all contaminated! Run for the hills!" - "The journal Nature is reporting this week that food technologists have cracked the big mystery of Acrylamide, that “potentially carcinogenic” chemical that’s been turning up in French fries, breads, and other starchy foods. It turns out that an amino acid called Asparagine reacts with sugars to form Acrylamide when foods are cooked at high temperatures.

Setting aside the fact that Acrylamide has not been shown to cause a human hiccup, much less cancer, the news about Asparagine (which was actually first announced in Canada three weeks ago) raises all sorts of new questions.

While mainstream news commentators are busy suggesting that makers of French fries focus on using potato varieties that aren’t so rich in Asparagine, just about nobody has bothered to point the finger at all of the other foods that are naturally Asparagine-heavy -- foods like spinach and beets, its namesake asparagus, alfalfa sprouts, and even dairy, beef, poultry, and eggs. Procter and Gamble even says they’ve found both Asparagine and Acrylamide in banana chips.

Instead of recognizing that Acrylamide could form in just about anything we cook and eat (mainly those things we’ve been eating for years with no discernible ill effects), the world’s lawyers, bureaucrats and self-anointed food police have contrived public-health excuses to further regulate foods.

Yesterday the FDA announced that it is funding Acrylamide tests on baby food, canned beans, cereals, chocolates, cookies, crackers, infant formulas, nuts, and peanut butter (in addition to French fries, the well-worn standbys). The agency has actually published a “draft action plan” that aims to “reduce or eliminate” Acrylamide from the American food supply.

Not satisfied with investigating potatoes and breads, the British government is authorizing a “far more extensive research programme” and soliciting research bids from universities and private labs. And Canadian health officials are already promising to “get rid of Acrylamide as much as possible.”

Lastly, in addition to the cabal of environmental lawyers trying to use Acrylamide as an excuse to file lawsuits willy-nilly, Americans still have to contend with the granddaddy of the food cops, the Center for Science in the Public Interest. As of Monday, CSPI’s Michael Jacobson was still using Acrylamide as an excuse to publicly pillory French fries and other snacks. “People should be consuming less,” he told USA Today. “Here’s another reason.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"EPA Drops Chemical Security Effort; Agency Lacks Power to Impose Anti-Terror Standards, Lawyers Decide" - "The Bush administration has abandoned efforts to impose tough new security regulations on the chemical industry to protect against possible terrorist attacks, following months of intense internal fighting within the administration and resistance from the industry. The decision marks a victory for major chemical manufacturers who have argued they can improve security without regulatory intervention." (Washington Post)

"New Zealand Herald - Frogs' jump to oblivion 'a bad portent'" - "A worldwide decline of frogs could point to serious environmental problems, a University of Otago amphibian expert said at the beginning of this International Frog Week. "They've been likened to canaries in the coalmines; if something is going on with the frogs then it's a sure sign there's something going on in the environment," zoology senior teaching fellow Dr Phil Bishop said. More than a decade ago, almost 1400 amphibian experts gathered for a conference at the University of Kent, in England, and began to compile anecdotal evidence of the decline."

"Social Insecurity" - "Bolstered by a law increasing federal penalties for committing violence against animal industries, the FBI has begun to pay serious attention to SHAC (“Stop Huntingon Animal Cruelty”).

An FBI spokesman confirmed last week that the Bureau is now “actively investigating” SHAC. This came after the group’s leaders used an Internet website to distribute the social security numbers of nearly two dozen adults, most of whom had never heard of SHAC’s target, a medical research company called Huntingdon Life Sciences.

So why did SHAC target these people? In a bid to put pressure on a stock trader who dared to do business with Huntingdon, SHAC targeted his neighbors. In addition to their social security numbers, SHAC declared its intention to use “e-mail accounts [and] credit card information” in order to coerce this broker’s neighbors to gang up on him.

In a recent magazine interview, Huntingdon Life Sciences marketing director Andrew Gay told the story of how his company and its shareholders have been terrorized by animal rights zealots, both in Europe and in the U.S. During the last two years, for instance, both he and Huntingdon CEO Brian Cass were physically beaten and hospitalized by SHAC thugs. And ordinary investors who had bought shares of stock in HLS were stalked, harassed, and otherwise intimidated in their own homes. “Why,” he asks, “should anyone who’s a shareholder in a legitimate company have to put up with that stuff?”

Today on National Review Online, Discovery Institute senior fellow Wesley Smith writes about the steps being taken to expose what he calls animal-rights “brownshirts.” Huntingdon Life Sciences is not alone in fearing for the safety of its employees, stockholders, and customers. The SHAC reign of terror has grown to include insurance companies, foodservice providers, and even janitorial companies." (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Researchers find evidence that Antarctic ice stream has reversed its flow" - "It is virtually impossible for a river or a stream to first stop its flow and then reverse course. But an Antarctic ice stream has done just that and scientists from the University of Washington and other institutions are trying to figure out exactly why." (University of Washington)

"Highest mean temperature ever measured" - "The mean temperature for Norway from January to September this year is 2.2C above normal. It is the highest measured reading since the Meteorological Institute began its records in 1866. So far 2002 has been 0.4C warmer than the same period in 1989 and 1990 when the mean was 1.8 degrees above normal. The main reason to the warmer outlook is high readings from western Norway and Trondelag, the Meteorological Institute reports." (Aftenposten)

"World Climate Report" Volume 8, Number 3 (October 7, 2002) (GES)

"VIRTUAL CLIMATE ALERT: October 1, 2002 Vol. 3, No. 29" - "High in the Caucasus and the mountains spanning the border between Russia and Georgia, a huge chunk of ice broke off a glacier and started an avalanche that hurtled at 60 mph into a 20-mile stretch of the valley below. The avalanche laid waste to everything in its path, including several rural villages near the town of Karmadon. Fifteen people are known to be dead; as of a few days ago a hundred still were missing. What triggered this tragedy? According to the September 25th edition of The Los Angeles Times, it was global warming." (GES)

"Bad Compromise; The energy bill isn’t worth an ill-considered tradeoff" - "The final touches of a comprehensive energy bill — the first of its kind in a decade — are being crafted by House and Senate negotiators this week. No one on either side of the political aisle doubts the need to pass a bill. But in its haste to finish, Congress risks making some bad compromises. Indeed, there are signs this week that key Republicans and their allies may be willing to make an imprudent tradeoff in order to get out of town to campaign for November." (Nick Schulz, NRO)

Uh-huh... "Canada can exceed Kyoto and save $200 billion: study" - "OTTAWA - Canadians can more than meet the emissions target in the Kyoto Protocol and save $200 billion by conserving energy, according to a study released Wednesday. The study was done by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Climate Action Network of Canada." (CBC News) | The allegations (PDF)

"Lougheed primed for showdown on Kyoto" - "CALGARY and OTTAWA - Alberta and Ottawa moved closer to a legal showdown over the Kyoto Protocol yesterday, as former premier Peter Lougheed primed the province for a battle of National Energy Program proportions, while David Anderson, the Environment Minister, threatened to enact new legislation to strengthen Ottawa's hand on the issue. Mr. Lougheed, who successfully fronted Alberta's legal challenge of the hated NEP in the 1980s, said Ottawa may have the legal ability to ratify the treaty, but implementing it could be another matter. He also noted provinces have the right of ownership of their resources." (Financial Post)

"smh.com.au - Greenhouse gas levels soaring" - "Households may be producing twice as many greenhouse gas emissions as previously thought. The CSIRO yesterday released the findings of a week-long audit of 10,000 households which revealed that each household could produce nearly 30 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, or the equivalent of having six cars on the road. Previous figures by the Australian Greenhouse Office suggested Australia's 7 million households each produces 15 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year. Ross Kingsland of the CSIRO's education unit said cars are a blind spot for people, with 13.6 tonnes per year of an average household's total coming from private vehicles. Heating, hot water and refrigeration are the next highest contributors."

"Increased CO2 levels are mixed blessing for agriculture" - "A new study suggests that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could be a boon for agricultural crops, as this greenhouse gas helps crop plants grow and reproduce more. But that boon comes with a price. Greater growth and reproduction may hurt the nutritional value of crops. "If you're looking for a positive spin on rising CO2 levels, it's that agricultural production in some areas is bound to increase," researchers said." (Ohio State University)

"Malaria genomes cracked" - "A hundred years after the discovery that mosquitoes transmit the malaria parasite, another landmark in the fight against the disease has been reached. The complete genetic codes of both the human malaria parasite and the mosquito that spreads it have been deciphered by an international team. The information is expected to lead to novel ways of tackling the infection that blights so many lives around the world." (BBC News Online)

"Scramble for Green Gold Kills Asian Biodiversity" - "NEW DELHI, India, October 2, 2002 - The quest to commercialize plant genes by transnational companies and national governments is destroying a wealth of genetic resources and livelihoods across the Asia-Pacific region, says a report released Tuesday. "Plants are vanishing so quickly that...one major drug [becomes] extinct every two years," said the coauthors of the report, Genetic Resources Action International (GRAIN), a Barcelona based campaigns group, and Kalpvriksha, an Indian environmental organization." (ENS)

"FoE warns about impending GM trade war" - "Friends of the Earth (FoE) has warned that a trade war could be looming between the US and the EU over the labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and has condemned US attempts to force Europe to accept such products. The EU recently voted to tighten even further its regulations on the labelling of GM products, and has rejected complaints from the US – where GM foods are much more widespread – that the restrictions were illegal under international law, that they will restrict trade and be costly to US business." (FoodNavigator)

"Africans seek WHO direction over GM relief aid" - "LUANDA - Southern African ministers said they wanted further clarification from the World Health Organisation on the safety of genetically modified foods needed to combat a crippling food crisis in the region." (Reuters)

"INTERVIEW - Farmer work in crop science key to beating hunger" - "MACCARESE, Italy - Plant breeders and farmers need to work together in poor countries to improve local crop varieties and aid the war on hunger, scientists said yesterday. "We need to bring farmers into the process of plant breeding and have them take many of the decisions," said Salvatore Ceccarelli, a barley breeder with the Aleppo, Syria-based International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)." (Reuters)

October 2, 2002

"Stop Those Presses! Blonds, It Seems, Will Survive After All" - "Apparently it fell into the category "too good to check." Last Friday, several British newspapers reported that the World Health Organization had found in a study that blonds would become extinct within 200 years, because blondness was caused by a recessive gene that was dying out. The reports were repeated on Friday by anchors for the ABC News program "Good Morning America," and on Saturday by CNN. There was only one problem, the health organization said in a statement yesterday that it never reported that blonds would become extinct, and it had never done a study on the subject." (New York Times)

"Judge rejects cancer link to mobiles" - "A US judge has thrown out the evidence filed against several mobile-phone firms in an $800m lawsuit that alleges the devices cause brain tumours. The move clears the way for the dismissal of the suit against several manufacturers, including cell-phone giant Motorola, which was brought by American neurologist Christopher Newman. Dr Newman's lawyer, John Angelos, said the ruling was a blow to similar cases filed against mobile-phone companies." (BBC News Online)

"US consumer groups seek cancer warning labels" - "01/10/02 - US consumer groups are demanding immediate action from the government to inform consumers that popular foods such as fried potatoes and crisps contain high levels of a potential carcinogen, according to a report in the Financial Times. "The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to give us more guidance, and that may mean labelling products linked to cancer-causing agents," said the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a leading health advocacy group." (FoodProductionDaily)

"Britons warned: chickens could be full of drugs" - "The use of antibiotics in animals destined for the food chain is in the news a great deal this week, with reports yesterday from the US about the risks to human health being followed by more evidence today that hormone use is declining across the Atlantic under pressure from consumer groups. Now the UK’s Soil Association, the organic food promoter, has highlighted the case of controversial antibiotic growth promoters which are banned elsewhere in Europe being used in chickens reared in the UK following a rise in chicken health problems." (FoodNavigator)

"Call for 'informed debate' on antibiotic use" - "Yesterday we reported that scientists investigating the effect of antibiotics in animals had discovered that there was an extremely small risk to humans and that the use of such treatments to preserve the safety of the food chain was worth that risk. Now new data released at the same Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in California this week has revealed that companies involved in rearing animals for the food chain are in fact using fewer and fewer antibiotics – a result of increasing pressure from consumers and of new developments in animal husbandry." (FoodNavigator)

"Arctic pollution causing polar bears to change sex" - "Polar bears, Arctic foxes and Inuit peoples are under threat from man-made toxins such as polychlorinated byphenyls (PCBs) that build up in the food chain, new research reveals. Environmental and animal groups are calling for a global ban on the production of the chemicals to safeguard the future health of those groups. Some scientists believe the PCBs are leading to "gender-bender" polar bears in Norway and Greenland, after the discovery of a number of female bears which had both male and female sexual organs." (Independent)

"Hard-Hit Monarch Butterflies Demonstrate Their Resilience" - "In January, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies were killed by a storm on their winter roosting grounds in Mexico, leaving scientists and countless monarch lovers wondering how the surviving insects would fare when they migrated back to the United States and Canada.

Now scientists have learned that, as many feared, monarch numbers plunged over large areas of the United States this summer, particularly on the East Coast, where butterflies showed up late and in small numbers or didn't show up at all. But more surprising, a new study has found that these resilient insects have had what is adding up to be a surprisingly average year in the heart of their breeding range in the Midwest." (New York Times)

"Rethinking Precaution" - "Emotions run high when the debate topic is the contentious issue of climate change and the Kyoto protocol, but even diametrically opposed advocates found themselves agreeing this week on the usefulness of cost-benefit analysis in decision-making." (Craig Winneker, TCS)

"Land use 'alters climate'" - "The way humans alter the surface of the Earth may be a key factor in climate change, scientists believe. They say land-use changes are probably just as important as greenhouse gas emissions. They think tropical land surface changes are probably a greater influence on climate than the seasonal El Nino weather disturbances in the Pacific." (BBC News Online) | LANDCOVER CHANGES MAY RIVAL GREENHOUSE GASES AS CAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE (NASA/GSFC)

"Sahara desert's advance appears to be reversing" - "The tides of sand have turned in the Sahara. The desert's advance in the 1970s and 1980s, which caused drought and famine throughout North Africa, has been put into reverse. New analysis of satellite pictures of the Sahara's southern edge shows that vegetation is sprouting in a 4,000-mile band from Mauritania in the west to Eritrea in the east." (Boston Globe)

"ScienceDaily Magazine -- Birds Are Responding To Global Warming, But Forecasting Impact Of Climate Change Won't Be Easy, Biologists Report" - "ITHACA, N.Y. -- Earlier springs with warmer temperatures over the past 30 years have prompted a ubiquitous North American bird species, tree swallows, to begin laying eggs, on average, a week or more earlier. But whether these harbingers of global warming are being adversely affected by changing weather patterns isn't clear, biologists in New York, Wisconsin and California report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS ). When tree swallows start earlier, they often lay more eggs, say the biologists, referring to data collected by thousands of volunteer citizen-scientists who have watched the birds' nest boxes for 40 years."

"Boston Globe Online Health | Science Could global warming produce a big chill?" - "WOODS HOLE - In what would be a surprising byproduct of global warming, average temperatures in North America and Europe could drop by 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming decades as melting polar ice and increased water evaporation profoundly alter the ocean currents that keep both regions warm, say researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution."

"A skeptic's guide to global warming" - "A new critique of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global warming reveals what's wrong with the science behind Kyoto. (David E. Wojick, National Post)

"Uncertainty About CO2 as a Climate Driver: Is It Increasing or Decreasing?" - "Summary: In a rambling commentary on various reasons why people do or do not consider the CO2 produced by the burning of fossil fuels to be a significant force for climate change, Lee Kump concludes "we ultimately must use and trust [the] climate models" that put CO2 in the climate-driver's seat. Much of what he reports in his discussion, however, suggests we would be wise to do otherwise." (co2science.org)

"Regional Precipitation Trends (North America)" - "Summary: Is real-world precipitation in North America doing what climate alarmists say it is, i.e., becoming more variable and intense, leading to more frequent and intense floods and droughts?" (co2science.org)

"Water Use Efficiency (Trees)" - "Summary: A host of scientific studies clearly demonstrates that earth's trees and shrubs will continue to exhibit increases in water-use efficiency as the air's CO2 content continues to rise, thereby enabling them to better cope with drought stress and grow in regions that historically have been too dry for them." (co2science.org)

"Current Carbon Sequestration Commentary: Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition: Its Long-Term Impact On Carbon Sequestration in Soils" - "Summary: The world is a complex and interconnected place, where very little happens independent of everything else. So it is with anthropogenic CO2 emissions; they are accompanied by emissions of nitrogenous compounds that influence a host of biological phenomena in ways that ultimately enhance the removal CO2 from the atmosphere and temper its ability to induce global warming." (co2science.org)

"More Evidence for Millennial-Scale Climate Oscillations" - "Summary: Pollen records from all of North America bear witness to the reality of naturally-forced millennial-scale climate change that periodically brings us Modern Warm Period-type weather. Geology 30: 455-458." (co2science.org)

"Visits to the Doctor by the Elderly: The Role of Temperature" - "Summary: Are you a senior citizen, age 65 or older? If so, bundle up this winter and pray for a little warmth. Your health may depend on it! International Journal of Epidemiology 31: 825-830." (co2science.org)

"A Twenty-Year Record of Changes in Antarctic Sea Ice" - "Summary: Over what climate alarmists claim are the fastest-warming two decades of the fastest-warming century of the past millennium, and in one of earth's polar regions - where CO2-induced global warming is supposed to be most dramatic, due to the ice-albedo feedback phenomenon - one would expect to see sea ice in rapid retreat ...... if you believe the climate models. On the other hand, if you don't believe the climate models, you will not be surprised to learn that what is actually happening is just the opposite of what the models predict. Journal of Geophysical Research 107: 10.1029/2000JC000733." (co2science.org)

"US ready to ratify a 'modified' Kyoto Protocol" - "New Delhi, Oct 1 The United States today asserted that it would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol in its present form but might consider doing so if the Protocol incorporated ''more rational'' modifications." (UNI)

"Ottawa's Kyoto research 'fishy'" - "The government's research into the economic impact of the Kyoto Protocol is incomplete, unscientific and not reliable enough to justify immediate ratification, a report to be released this morning will argue." (Joseph Brean, National Post)

"Caught Between Coal and Kyoto" - "MOSCOW, Oct 1 - Russia's move towards greater use of coal may help the economy but damage the environment, experts say.

President Vladimir Putin has called for greater exploitation of Russia's coal reserves. But this policy could clash with Russia's commitments to reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, environmentalists say.

"By preparing to burn more coal for its energy needs, Russia aims to free more natural gas for lucrative exports to Western markets," Natalia Olefirenko, climate programmes co-ordinator with Greenpeace Russia told IPS. "It is a flawed approach, and it amounts to a sell-out of the Russian environment because growing use of coal is likely to adversely affect the country's ecological balance and cause acid rains." (IPS)

"German industry emissions trade response nears - FT" - "FRANKFURT - German industry has only days remaining to respond to a government plan on emissions trading, which aims to cut down on greenhouse gases, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper said yesterday." (Reuters)

"Finnish TVO launches nuke plant construction tender" - "HELSINKI - Finnish nuclear power producer TVO launched a tender to build the country's fifth nuclear reactor, the first in Western Europe in over a decade, in response to expected growing electricity demand." (Reuters)

"UK consumers uneasy over GM crops and food - report" - "LONDON - Britain's consumers are still uneasy over genetically modified crops and food, a report published yesterday showed, as the government prepares to debate the issue in public before deciding on whether to roll out commercial plantings." (Reuters)

"Biotech Bypass of the South Costs Millions of Lives" - "BROOKLIN, Canada, Oct 1 - Developing a handful of biotechnologies to prevent and treat diseases could save millions of lives in developing countries each year, say the authors of a study released Monday in Nature Biotechnology magazine. It would also ensure those countries do not fall behind the rest of the world, as they did with information technology (IT) and during the 'green revolution', they add." (IPS)

"WFP ships 81,500 tonnes of maize to southern Africa" - "JOHANNESBURG - The World Food Programme will offload 81,500 tonnes of United States-sourced maize into southern African ports over the next few days to bolster its starvation-relief supplies, officials said yesterday.

That the maize is sourced from the U.S. would have been a problem six weeks ago, when Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe all expressed publicly their concern over the safety of genetically modified food. But recent agreements have left only Zambia still refusing U.S. sourced maize, and Lee said the Zambian government was expected to reach a decision on its future GM policy in the next few weeks." (Reuters)

"Should biotech farmers pay for "contamination"?" - "I have a right not to have my fields contaminated by genetically modified crops," declared organic wheat farmer Robert Quinn. Quinn, who operates the Quinn Farm and Ranch in Big Sandy, Montana, made this assertion at a recent conference on agriculture and the environment sponsored by the Political Economy Research Center." (Ronald Bailey, Reason)

October 1, 2002

"Cellphone: A Convenience, a Hazard or Both?" - "Fears that cellphones are linked to cancer and other disease are ill-founded, but then there's the matter of cellphones and cars." (New York Times)

"Suit linking cancer to phone dismissed" - "BALTIMORE — A federal judge yesterday dismissed an $800 million lawsuit filed by a Maryland doctor who said cell phones caused his brain cancer. U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake ruled that none of the evidence submitted by Dr. Christopher Newman was substantial enough to warrant a trial. The lawsuit was brought against cell-phone manufacturer Motorola Inc. and major wireless carriers. The telecommunications world was watching the case closely; if it succeeded, it would have opened the door to other lawsuits against the $45 billion industry. Similar claims against mobile-phone carriers also have failed." (AP)

"Deflating Self-Esteem's Role in Society's Ills" - "Low self-esteem is to blame for a host of social ills, from poor academic performance and marital discord to violent crime and drug abuse.

Or so goes the gospel, as written over the last several decades by social scientists, self-help book authors and the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility, a panel created in 1986 by the California Legislature to conduct a three-year study of the topic.

Recently, however, some psychologists have begun debunking the notion that a poor self-image is the malady behind most of society's complaints — and bolstering self-esteem its cure.

"D" students, it turns out, think as highly of themselves as valedictorians, and serial rapists are no more likely to ooze with insecurities than doctors or bank managers." (New York Times)

"Countries Meet In Bonn To Review Controlled Chemicals List" - "Monocrotophos -- a highly toxic insecticide used in many developing countries in Asia and elsewhere to protect crops from pests -- could this week become the 32nd product subject to prior informed consent procedures under the Rotterdam Convention on pesticides and hazardous chemicals." (UN Wire)

"Cap of Silt Seals DDT on Sea Floor" - "An unprecedented experiment to entomb a giant underwater deposit of DDT off the Palos Verdes Peninsula under tons of clean sand appears to be working, according to a study to be released today. In fact, the best solution to the continuing DDT pollution in the region may be to bury more of the decades-old pesticide dump, the report concludes." (Los Angeles Times)

"All U.S. Coral Reefs Face Human Threats" - "SILVER SPRING, Maryland, September 30, 2002 - Every U.S. coral reef system is suffering from both human and natural disturbances, warns a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The first national assessment of the condition of U.S. coral reefs links development, pollution and destructive fishing practices with the decline of reefs in U.S. waters and around the globe." (ENS)

"Come on In, the Hudson's Fine" - "The slime is gone from the Hudson River, and the swimmers have returned." (New York Times)

"Dr. Phil on fast-food lawsuits: “A load of crap!”" - "Still trying his case against fast food restaurants in the court of public opinion, trial attorney Samuel Hirsch and his clients argued on Thursday’s Dr. Phil Show that the restaurant industry is responsible for the weight problems of its customers and their children.

An appalled Dr. Phil McGraw’s response: “Oh, what a load of crap! I don’t know how many grams of fat are in a Big Mac, but I’d have to be a moron to not know that it’s fattening.”

Hirsch’s latest legal strategy, promoted with help from tobacco lawyer John Banzhaf, is to sue on behalf of overweight children. But Dr. Phil handily disassembled Hirsch’s tactic of blaming restaurants.

Turning to Roberta Pelman, the mother of one teenage plaintiff, he asked: “Is anyone forcing you to buy this [fast food] for your child?” Pelman’s answer: “Forcing me? No.”

As an op-ed writer for The Chattanooga Times put it recently, “getting at the root of childhood obesity is scarcely the goal” of these fast-food lawsuits. And The Dayton Daily News weighed in last week with an editorial noting that “McDonald’s is getting a bad rap from Mr. Hirsch and his clients, no doubt about it. And it’s not fair.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"Antarctic Ozone Hole Shrinks, Divides in Two" - "GREENBELT, Maryland, September 30, 2002 - The ozone hole over the Antarctic this September is not only smaller than it was in 2000 and 2001, but has split into two separate holes, according to scientists in the United States and Europe." (ENS)

"Unusually small ozone hole attributed to strong upper level weather systems" - "Scientists from NASA and the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed the ozone hole over the Antarctic this September is not only much smaller than it was in 2000 and 2001, but has split into two separate "holes". (NASA/GSFC)

"Flood alert as Britain faces 'highest tides yet'" - "Some of the highest tides that are ever likely to hit Britain's coasts will arrive next week, prompting fears of widespread flooding in low-lying coastal areas if weather conditions deteriorate. The alignment of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun next Monday and Tuesday means that tides will be between 20 and 30 per cent higher than normal – and more if wind and weather are adverse." (Independent)

"India to Welcome Climate Change Delegates" - "NEW DELHI, India, September 30, 2002 - The next step in global action to deal with a warming climate will be taken in New Delhi in October when the 186 countries that are Parties to the United Nations climate treaty meet to prepare for the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol." (ENS)

"New parks, motion on Kyoto by year end" - "OTTAWA - - New parks, new rules on pesticides, a strategy for urban transportation and renewed commitment to the Kyoto Protocol - the throne speech was music for environmentalists." (National Post)

"Klein warns of Alberta separatism" - "'Don't push us too hard,' Premier says as he signals huge backlash against Kyoto.

BANFF - Ralph Klein is warning Ottawa not to "push us" on the issue of the Kyoto Protocol or it will face another separatist threat from Alberta.

"I don't think Albertans are ready to leave Canada," the province's Premier said in an interview on the weekend. "I hope that the government will come to its senses and we'll explore all of our constitutional options before that's [separation] even considered. If you ask Albertans now if they want to leave, they would say no. But don't push us too hard." (National Post)

"Ministry eyes tax on CO2 emissions" - "The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to impose a new tax on petroleum, natural gas and coal that takes into account the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the production of energy, ministry officials said. Tentatively called the energy-environment tax, its stated purpose is to fund measures to combat global warming and to promote alternative energy sources and conservation." (The Asahi Shimbun)

New items posted on Still Waiting For Greenhouse

"Automakers Park Electric Cars Despite Loyal Drivers" - "NEW YORK, Sep 30 - The world's biggest automakers are abandoning their experiments with battery-powered cars, saying most drivers are unwilling to give up their cheaper fuel-burning vehicles. Companies like Ford and General Motors (GM) also say they will focus on producing hybrid gas-electric vehicles and other cutting-edge technologies that offer greater versatility than electric vehicles (EVs). But electric-car advocates say carmakers are just offering excuses so they do not have to give up producing gas guzzlers." (IPS)

"Cull of 6.5m animals 'may not have affected' spread of foot-and-mouth" - "Britain's handling of the foot-and-mouth epidemic faced devastating criticism last night when an inquiry concluded that the culling of more than 6.5 million animals many have played no real role in curbing the spread of the disease.

Draft conclusions from a committee of MEPs lists sweeping criticisms of government policy and suggests that, in future, vaccination should be considered much earlier in an outbreak.

In particular the document argued that the controversial culling policy may, in effect, have been unnecessary." (Independent)

"A Courtroom Champion for 4-Legged Creatures" - "CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Among the high-flying lawyers who roam the halls of Harvard Law School, Steven M. Wise, 51, is an oddity. Instead of devoting himself to the fine points of torts or contracts, he teaches the school's first ever course in animal rights law. Moreover, Mr. Wise, who runs a small law firm that litigates for the interests of animals, has written two well-reviewed books on the subject, "Rattling the Cage: Toward Legal Rights for Animals" and the recently released "Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights." (New York Times)

"Organic lunch? Berkeley Teens vote “no” with their feet" - "As the US Department of Agriculture prepares to phase in a new set of rules on which foods may be labeled “organic,” at least one segment of the population seems to think all the fuss is more trouble than it’s worth.

This week in Berkeley, California -- home to the modern organic food movement and Alice Waters, its high-priestess -- the local public high school announced that it will soon discontinue its much-vaunted organic lunch program. “From the very start, it never caught on,” says school board member Terry Doran.

Berkeley High was apparently faced with lots of real-world hurdles in its attempt to bring in organic meals from the surrounding area. For starters, says The San Francisco Chronicle, the program “couldn’t raise enough money selling students the fancy meals at $3 to $4 apiece -- the typical price of school meals.” Even with $400,000 in subsidies from the political fringe-dwelling Center for Ecoliteracy, organic food just proved too expensive to keep on the menu.

Even with high-profile backing from publications like Newsweek (last week’s cover story was little more than a marketing pitch dressed up like news), the real world always seems to catch up with organic food marketers. In the United Kingdom, where the Scottish parliament is debating its agricultural future, an Edinburgh University professor recently told lawmakers that organic farming is a waste of land, money and fossil fuel, with “no scientific support” for claims that its products were healthier or safer.” (Center For Consumer Freedom)

"NEW ZEALAND: Genetically engineered potatoes set for farm trial" - "The New Zealand government has issued a paper concerning potential controls for the release of genetically engineered produce. A moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is currently in place in New Zealand, but the 94-page paper issued last week proposes a “conditional release” category between field testing and full release. The conditional release would not begin until the moratorium expires in October 2003." (just-food.com)

"New Zealand Herald - Erma confirms approval of human-gene cow research" - "New Zealand’s new organisms watchdog today approved a bid by crown science company AgResearch to develop in containment a range of genetically engineered cattle and transgenic milks -- some containing human proteins. The Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) gave its permission only after cutting back the wide-ranging scope of the "development" application, and limiting it to 7-1/2 years instead of the 10 years sought by Agresearch."