News bites, June 2016

This article was originally published in June 2016

USDA won’t regulate GE mushroom

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will not regulate a mushroom genetically engineered (GE) with the gene-editing CRISPR technology. CRISPR enables researchers to change letters of the mushroom DNA code to create a variant that’s more resistant to browning. The mushroom won’t be regulated like other GE foods because no new genes were added — making it the first CRISPR-edited organism to receive a green light from the U.S. government. (NPR/Quartz/Nature)

Sugar more addictive than cocaine

Sugar is a toxic substance that can be more addictive than cocaine and should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol, according to research reported by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers say the brain pathways for excessive sugar, tobacco and cocaine are similar and increase dopamine levels, needing more and more to get to the same reward levels. (National Institutes of Health)

Fast food and chemical exposure

People who eat fast food regularly are being exposed to significantly higher levels of phthalates, hormone-disrupting chemicals linked to a range of adverse effects on reproductive, behavioral and respiratory health. That’s the finding of a new study in Environmental Health Perspectives, which looked at fast food consumption by nearly 9,000 people and found that those who reported eating more of it in the past day had urinary phthalate levels as much as 40 percent higher than those who had eaten no fast food in the 24 hours before testing. Previous research suggests phthalates are associated with food packaging. (Civil Eats)

Glyphosate increase

A study published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe says glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold globally since Monsanto’s so-called “Roundup Ready” GE glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. The study finds that GE herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56 percent of global glyphosate use and that no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use in the United States. (Environmental Sciences Europe)

FDA proposes pork antibiotic ban

The Food and Drug Administration has proposed banning an antibiotic used to fatten up pigs for slaughter, saying the company that makes it hasn’t proved it cannot cause cancer in people. Several studies have shown the antibiotic, carbadox, can cause cancer in rats, and there are worries it could stick around in pork products and affect people. Carbadox already is limited in Canada, Australia and the European Union. (

Judge rejects federal salmon plan

For the fifth consecutive time, a federal judge has rejected the government’s plan for protecting salmon in the Columbia River Basin, saying the system of fish-blocking dams “cries out for a new approach.” The question of how to offset the impacts of hydroelectric dams on threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead has been subject to more than 20 years of legal conflict. Judge Michael Simon’s ruling calls for a new environmental analysis that considers dam removal as well as a new plan by March 2018. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Dairy fat linked to lower diabetes risk

A new study finds the dairy fats found in milk, yogurt and cheese may help protect against Type 2 diabetes. The research, published in the journal Circulation, which spanned decades, included 3,333 adults and found people who had the most dairy fat in their diet had about a 50-percent lower risk of diabetes compared with people who consumed the least dairy fat. The finding builds on a body of evidence suggesting dairy fat may have protective effects in cutting the risk of diabetes and in helping people control body weight. (Circulation)

Outlook dire for Bluefin tuna

The latest scientific assessment paints a likely bleak future for the Pacific Bluefin tuna, a sushi lover's favorite, whose population has dropped by more than 97 percent from its historic levels. A draft report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean reportedly shows the current population of Bluefin tuna is estimated at 2.6 percent of its “unfished” size. Overfishing has continued despite calls to reduce catches to allow the species to recover. (The Seattle Times)

Sun for longevity

A long-term study of Swedish women has found that nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to research in the Journal of Internal Medicine. The findings indicate that avoiding the sun “is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking.” Exposure to sunlight is the main source of vitamin D and deficiencies in the vitamin have been linked to cardiovascular deaths and more aggressive skin cancers, the researchers said. (

Long-term multivitamin use beneficial

A daily multivitamin may protect men from heart attack and stroke in the long-term, says a new study. Data from more than 18,000 male physicians found that multivitamin use for more than 20 years was associated with 44 percent lower risk of major cardiovascular events. The same effect was not seen over shorter periods. (The Journal of Nutrition)

Also in this issue

Letters to the editor, June 2016

PCC's body care standards, Amazon Prime Now delivery, Health benefits of asparagus, and more

Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

Learn how the California nut industry has been rocked with organized crime, farmland planted with GE crops has declined, the popularity of Cosmic Crisp apples is set to skyrocket, and more news from the field.

Your co-op community, June 2016

Vitamin Angels Success, Fremont 5K, July 4th Freedom Festival, and more