Science

Less Isn't Always More

crop dusterComprehensive information about what chemicals are sprayed on food crops just got much harder to come by. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that they will no longer conduct and publish annual national surveys of "which states apply the most pesticides and where bug and weed killers are most heavily sprayed to help cotton, grapes and oranges grow." The report is used extensively by farmers, environmental advocates, chemical companies and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Don Lipton, a spokesman for the American Farm Bureau, said "farmers will be subjected to conjecture and allegations about their use of chemicals and fertilizer. Given the historic concern about chemical use by consumers, regulators, activist groups and farmers, it's probably not an area where lack of data is a good idea." One fear is that information will only be available after there's been a problem. Steve Scholl-Buckwald of the Pesticide Action Network explained, "What we'll end up doing is understanding pesticide use through getting accident reports. And that's a lousy way to protect public health."

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Yucca's Not Quite Dead Yet, but What's Plan B?

Aerial view of Yucca MountainIncreasingly, people are coming to the conclusion that the proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada might never open. Former Louisiana Senator J. Bennett Johnston, "the lawmaker perhaps most responsible" for advancing the plan for a permanent waste repository at Yucca, now says the "project should never have been billed as a place to hold waste indefinitely," reports Lisa Mascaro.

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Drug Companies: Marketing Machines Gone Awry

Prescription pillsNew York Times reporter Melody Petersen, who covered the pharmaceutical industry for four years, has now published a book titled Our Daily Meds: How the pharmaceutical companies transformed themselves into slick marketing machines and hooked the nation on prescription drugs.

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No Rush to Protect the Public

Some U.S. Congresspeople want to limit direct to consumer marketing of drugs. Rep. Bart Stupak is head of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce investigative panel.

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Pill Shills and Marketing Ills

Prescription pills"Prozac Nation: Revisited," a show that aired on U.S. National Public Radio member stations, "featured four prestigious medical experts discussing the controversial link between antidepressants and suicide. ... All four said that worries ...

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Industry Encourages More Regulation, USDA Declines

Mad Cow U.S.A. book coverThe U.S. Department of Agriculture has been criticized for not totally banning "downer" cows -- animals "too sick or hurt to stand for slaughter" -- from the food supply. So "when a coalition of major industry groups reversed their position and joined animal advocates and several lawmakers in calling for an absolute ban," why wouldn't the USDA agree?

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Painting Bottled Water Green

Glass of water"Suppose, for example, that you own a company that sells bottled water," which is "shipped, in its little plastic bottles, ten thousand miles from the bottling plant to the consumer," writes Steve Burns. "Could you possibly 'brand' such a product as eco-friendly?" If the company is FIJI Water, you'll try.

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