News bites, September 2015

This article was originally published in September 2015

PCC eyeglass drive a success

PCC collected 673 pairs of unneeded or unwanted eyeglasses this spring to be distributed to people in Togo, West Africa, as part of a drive by the body care company, Alaffia. There are very few optometrists in Togo and eye exams cost as much as one month’s wages. A pair of eyeglasses can cost up to four month’s wages.

Your donations made a difference. Thank you!


Bacon-flavored seaweed?

Scientists have discovered a seaweed that tastes like bacon and has twice the nutritional value of kale. Researchers from Oregon State University have patented a strain of seaweed, dulse, which grows naturally along ocean coastlines, but that they’ve developed a way to farm commercially and harvest. OSU’s dulse is not yet for sale to the public. (Quartz)


Bumblebees and climate change

Canadian researchers have published in the journal, Science, the first comprehensive study of the specific effects of climate change on bumblebees and found the bees are not adapting. Bumblebee species are vanishing from the southern part of their range at the rate of about 5.6 miles per year, but have yet to colonize the area previously too far north that, thanks to climate change, is now a suitable habitat. Some species almost are extinct. (Modern Farmer)


Fracking toxic

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in California uses a host of highly toxic chemicals that have unknown effects on drinking water supplies, wildlife and crops because state regulatory agencies don’t fully understand what oil companies are doing. A report by the California Council on Science and Technology found oil operators have unrestricted use of more than 300 additives — many of them hazardous or unknown to science. Recycled oil field wastewater used for crop irrigation may contain chemicals used during fracking and water is not tested for fracking chemicals. (Los Angeles Times)


Carcinogenic 2,4-D?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed a new herbicide for use on genetically engineered crops as a possible carcinogen . Dow Chemical’s 2,4-D was one of two active ingredients in Agent Orange and still is sprayed widely on farm crops, golf courses, parks and bodies of water used by recreational swimmers. The Lancet Oncology reports strong evidence that 2,4-D causes an imbalance in the body called oxidative stress, and moderate evidence it leads to immunosuppression, but the WHO panel concluded there was insufficient information to make a stronger link to cancers. (Washington Post)


EPA sued for pesticide policy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being sued for failing to disclose all ingredients in pesticide compounds. Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Center for Environmental Health and Beyond Pesticides charge EPA has endangered public health by not requiring disclosure of so-called “inert” ingredients. A body of evidence shows “inerts” can be just as harmful as active ingredients. The federal law regulating pesticides gives EPA authority to disclose ingredients considered hazardous. (Courthousenews.com)


Food enjoyment lost

Forty percent of consumers have lost enjoyment in foods due to safety and quality concerns and many actively are seeking stores that offer product alternatives, according to a new survey by Daymon Worldwide. Research indicates one-third of today’s respondents are more concerned about food product safety and quality than they were a year before and approximately half are more concerned than they were five years ago. Among the concerns are MSG, GMOs, dangerous bacteria, high mercury levels, fertilizers and other additives, and heightened fears are driving demand for food with fewer ingredients. (businesswire.com)


Doctors support GE labeling

SERMO, an online community of physicians, conducted a survey of its members on whether they favor GMO labeling and found the overwhelming majority, averaging 68 percent, do support mandatory labeling. New York, California and Florida were the top three states in favor of required labeling. (SERMO)


Daily soda and diabetes risk

A study published in the British Medical Journal finds that people in the habit of drinking one sugar-sweetened beverage — such as a soda or sweetened tea — every day had an 18 percent increased risk of developing diabetes over a decade compared with people who steer clear of sugary beverages. The researchers pooled data from 17 previously published studies that evaluated the link between sugary drinks and diabetes risk. After adjusting estimates for body weight, researchers found that even for thin or normal-weight people, one sugary drink per day was associated with a 13-percent increased risk. (NPR)


France bans Roundup

France is the latest country to ban sales of Monsanto’s herbicide, Roundup, for home garden use after the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified its active ingredient, glyphosate, as “a probable human carcinogen.” Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka already have banned or limited sale of glyphosate products. Russia banned the import of GE foods in 2014 and has banned cultivation of GE crops. (phys.org)


Spokane sues Monsanto

Spokane has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, alleging that the company sold chemicals for decades that it knew were a danger to human and environmental health. The lawsuit alleges Monsanto is responsible for the high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the Spokane River. EPA has said that PCBs are probable carcinogens, are linked to inducing many types of cancers, and impair the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system. (The Spokesman Review)

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