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Stinging rebuke: Court rules against EPA’s lax approval of Dow’s bee-poisonous pesticide

RT | September 11, 2015

A federal appeals court in the US has rejected a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to approve an insecticide harmful to honeybees without proper verification of the chemical’s effects.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Thursday that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) improperly approved and registered the pesticide sulfoxaflor, made by Dow AgroSciences, in violation of the agency’s regulatory protocol.

Environmentalists and representatives of the honey and beekeeping industries said sulfoxalfor is a type of insecticide chemical known as a neonicotinoid that is associated with mass death among bee populations worldwide.

The court agreed with sulfoxaflor’s neonicotinoid status in its ruling, finding that the EPA based its regulatory decision on “flawed and limited data,” and that sulfoxaflor approval was not based around “substantial evidence.”

The EPA used studies and materials provided by Dow to assess the chemical’s effects on bees and other species. Based on insufficient data given to it by Dow, the agency proposed certain conditions on the approval of the chemical, the court found.

Yet the EPA went ahead with unconditional registration anyway even though Dow had not met those conditions or offered updated studies, the court said.

“Given the precariousness of bee populations, leaving the EPA’s registration of sulfoxaflor in place risks more potential environmental harm than vacating it,” the ruling stated, adding that the EPA must provide more data on impacts of sulfoxaflor before moving forward with the chemical.
“It’s a complete victory for the beekeepers we represent,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney representing the American Honey Producers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, and other plaintiffs, according to Reuters. “The EPA has not been very vigilant.”

Dow AgroSciences, a division of Dow Chemical Co., first registered sulfoxalfor in 2010 for use in three of its products, including the brands Transform and Closer. In a statement, Dow said it “respectfully disagrees” with the court’s ruling and that it intends to “work with EPA to implement the order and to promptly complete additional regulatory work to support the registration of the products.”

The EPA said it will review the ruling, but offered no further comment to Reuters.

The plaintiffs in the case filed a lawsuit against the EPA in late 2013, arguing the EPA’s approval process of the chemical fell short of its legal oversight demands. Shortly before the EPA cleared sulfoxalfor in May 2013, the European Union enacted a two-year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (sulfoxaflor is considered by many to be a “fourth-generation neonicotinoid”) in light of scientific studies that indicate their harm to bees.

The suit was the first to invoke the US Endangered Species Act to protect bees, claiming the EPA violated the act by not sufficiently considering the impact of pesticides on honeybees and other imperiled wildlife categorized as threatened or endangered under federal law. Bees pollinate plants that are responsible for at least a quarter of Americans’ food.

Neonicotinoids were developed in the 1990s to boost yields of staple crops such as corn, but they are also widely used on annual and perennial plants in lawns and gardens. Researchers believe the neonicotinoids are causing some kind of unknown biological mechanism in bees that in turn leads to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

CCD has led to the deaths of tens of millions of honeybees in the US, with annual death rates of about 30 percent. A 2013 US Department of Agriculture study reported that CCD has caused the devastation of an estimated 10 million beehives. This year, the USDA said that 42.1 of managed honeybee colonies were lost from April 2014 to April 2015, the second-highest annual loss on record.

Pesticide producers argue that the current massive bee die-off worldwide is not caused by chemicals, but mite infestations and other factors.

Honeybees pollinate more than 100 US crops – including apples, zucchinis, avocados, and plums – that are worth more than $200 billion a year.

In May, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulations on pesticide use that seek to protect managed bee populations during certain periods of the year.

READ MORE:

Insecticides cause honeybee colony collapse, study shows

​US govt’s wanton approval of harmful pesticides fueling ‘bee holocaust’ – lawsuit

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US encircling Russia with bioweapons labs, covertly spreads them – Russian FM

RT | June 11, 2015

The US is obstructing international efforts to eradicate biological weapons, seeking to involve other nations covertly in research on weaponized diseases, Moscow charged. America’s record of handling bioweapons is poor.

The accusations of mishandling biological weapons voiced by the Russian Foreign Ministry refer to a recent report that the US military shipped live anthrax by mistake. Last week, the Pentagon admitted sending samples of the highly dangerous disease to at least 51 labs in 17 US states and three foreign countries.

The delivery “posed a high risk of outbreak that threatened not only the US population, but also other countries, including Canada and Australia. Of great concern is the shipment of bacteria to a US military facility in a third country, the Osan Air Base in South Korea,” the Russian ministry said in a statement.

It added that an anthrax outbreak incident occurred in 2001, which also involved a US military lab.

For Russia such incidents are of particular concern, because one of its neighbors, Georgia, hosts a research facility for high-level biohazard agents. The Richard G. Lugar Center for Public and Animal Health Research near Tbilisi is an undercover American bioweapons lab, a branch of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Russia believes.

“American and Georgian authorities are trying to cover up the real nature of this US military unit, which studies highly dangerous infectious diseases. The Pentagon is trying to establish similar covert medico-biological facilities in other countries [in Russia’s neighborhood],” the Russian ministry said.

Moscow says the US is de facto derailing international efforts under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), a 1972 international treaty aimed at eradicating bioweapons worldwide.

“The US administration is obviously not interested in strengthening this convention. It’s known that in 2001 the US unilaterally torpedoed multilateral talks in Geneva to work on a verification mechanism for the BWTC and have since obstructed their restart. Decades of international effort to strengthen the convention were derailed,” the statement said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s indictment comes amid a wider list of accusations against the US over what Moscow sees as American violations of various international agreements dealing with weapons control, non-proliferation and disarmament.

The statement came in response to a US annual report on the issue, which accused Russia of various wrongdoings. Moscow considers such reports “megaphone diplomacy.” Such tactics aren’t aimed at resolving any differences, but instead support America’s pretense to be the ultimate judge of other nation’s behavior, the ministry said.

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Breast cancer cases near Welsh nuclear plant 5 times higher than expected – academic

RT | June 10, 2015

Breast cancer rates are five times higher than expected near a defunct nuclear power plant in Wales, according to a study by environmental scientist Dr Chris Busby.

The power plant in Trawsfynydd, which has not been in use since 1993 but is yet to be decommissioned, relied on a nearby lake to operate its cooling system.

It’s alleged that contaminated water was returned to the same body of water.

Busby’s investigation claims 90 percent of those living in areas downwind of the plant have been tested.

The report, published in the Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, says: “Trawsfynydd is a ‘dirty’ nuclear power station. As it has carbon dioxide gas-cooled graphite block reactors, its releases to air are higher than most other types of nuclear reactor.

“In addition, all the liquid releases are discharged to the lake, where they have accumulated to the lake body sediment,” the investigation claims.

“Results show very clearly that the downwind population has suffered because of these exposures.”

“This is most clear in breast cancer in younger women below 60, where the rates were almost five times the expected.”

“Additionally we see a doubling of risk in those who ate fish from Trawsfynydd Lake, which supports the conclusion that it is mainly a nuclear power station effect that is being seen.”

Busby, who has acted as an adviser to the Green Party, has been the subject of controversy in the past.

In 2011, his claims there was a leukemia cluster in North Wales were met with opposition from other prominent environmental activists, including the [pro-nuclear energy] Guardian writer George Monbiot.

In a piece for the paper published in 2011, Monbiot wrote that Busby’s claims “were the result of some astonishing statistical mistakes.”

He claimed an assessment of Busby’s findings – which were not peer-reviewed – found that Busby has counted Welsh leukemia incidences twice and overestimated the number of child leukemia cases by 90 percent.

Public Health Wales is currently investigating, in co-operation with local health teams, whether or not such a cluster exists around Traswfynydd.

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , | Leave a comment

EU drops controls on dangerous chemicals after TTIP pressure from US – report

RT | May 22, 2015

EU proposals to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer, fertility problems and diabetes were allegedly dropped following pressure from US trade officials amid talks on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Draft EU criteria could have banned some 31 pesticides containing dangerous endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), but according to documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe and cited by The Guardian, they were cast aside amid fears of a trade backlash by a powerful US lobby.

According to the report, a high-ranking delegation from the US Mission to Europe and the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited European Union trade officials in July 2013 in a bid to urge the EU to drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favor of a new impact study. The TTIP trade deal was at stake, and the EU allegedly agreed to the US demands.

TTIP is a highly controversial proposed EU-US free trade treaty that has been criticized for its secretiveness and lack of accountability.

AmCham representatives allegedly “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances. The US trade representatives reportedly suggested taking a risk-based approach to regulation, and “emphasized the need for an impact assessment” instead.

The secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, allegedly sent a letter to the environment department’s director, Karl Falkenberg, telling him to drop the draft criteria, suggesting that “as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals” instead.

“We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances,” she allegedly wrote.

The result, according to The Guardian, was that legislation planned for 2014 was “kicked back until at least 2016, despite estimated health costs of €150bn per year in Europe from endocrine-related illnesses such as IQ loss, obesity and cryptorchidism – a condition affecting the genitals of baby boys.”

On top of this, ahead of the meeting, AmCham had allegedly warned the EU of “wide-reaching implications” if the draft criteria came to be approved. According to The Guardian, AmCham wanted an EU impact study to set looser thresholds for acceptable exposure to endocrines, based on a substance’s potency.

Bas Eickhout, a Green member of the European Parliament, told The Guardian : “These documents offer convincing evidence that TTIP not only presents a danger for the future lowering of European standards, but that this is happening as we speak.”

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of the UK House of Commons is currently carrying out an inquiry into the proposed TTIP and its impacts on the environment and the developing world.

“We are very concerned that the US government has a long history of lobbying against EU action on chemicals, and that TTIP could provide a method for them to institutionalise this,” EAC wrote in January, adding that the US approach to chemicals regulation is generally acknowledged to be “outdated and ineffective.”

“Our strong belief that the inclusion of chemicals within TTIP will lower protection in the EU, and will further slowdown efforts to protect human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals,” the committee warned.

Earlier this year, CHEM Trust (a UK charity whose aim is to prevent manmade chemicals from causing long-term damage to wildlife or humans) and around 150 other civil society groups signed up to a joint statement against regulatory cooperation in TTIP.

“Civil society groups denounce ‘regulatory cooperation’ in the TTIP negotiations as a threat to democracy and an attempt to put the interests of big business before the protection of citizens, workers and the environment,” the statement said.

According to the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 report, many endocrine-related diseases and disorders are currently on the rise. Global rates of endocrine-related cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, prostate, testicular and thyroid) have been increasing over the past 40-50 years, researchers say.

“Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion. However, only a small fraction of these chemicals have been investigated in tests capable of identifying overt endocrine effects in intact organisms,” the report stated.

Scientists warn that while numerous laboratory studies support the idea that chemical exposures contribute to endocrine disorders in humans, the “most sensitive window of exposure to EDCs is during critical periods of development, such as during fetal development and puberty.”

Read more: US lawmakers agree to fast-track secretive international trade deals

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nearly 200 scientists warn of cellphone health risks

RT | May 13, 2015

Biological and health scientists from Russia and Iran to the USA are calling on the UN, the World Health Organization and national governments to develop strict regulations concerning devices and cellphones that create electromagnetic fields.

The scientists are from 39 nations and have authored 2,000 peer-reviewed papers on the health and biological effects of non-ionizing radiation, which is part of the electromagnetic field spectrum. In a letter, they say that devices like cellphones pose risks of cancer, genetic damage, changes in reproductive system, and learning and memory deficits.

“Putting it bluntly they are damaging the living cells in our bodies and killing many of us prematurely,” said Dr. Martin Blank, from the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University, in a video message.

“We have created something that is harming us, and it is getting out of control. Before Edison’s light bulb there was very little electromagnetic radiation in our environment. The levels today are very many times higher than natural background levels, and are growing rapidly because of all the new devices that emit this radiation.”

One example that was cited is the cellphone. Blank pointed to a study which showed that as cellphone usage has spread widely, the incidence of fatal brain cancer in younger people has more than tripled.

The scientists see the unregulated use of radio frequency radiation in cellphones and Wi-Fi as developing into a public health crisis. Blank said biologists and scientists are not being heard from committees that set safety standards, that safety limits are much too high and that biological facts are being ignored.

“They are not protective,” he added. “We are really all part of large biological experiment without our informed consent. To protect ourselves, our children, and our ecosystem, we must reduce exposure by establishing more protective guidelines.”

Scientists are appealing to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to “convene and fund an independent multidisciplinary committee to explore the pros and cons of alternative to current practices that could substantially lower human exposure to RF and ELF fields.”

They request that the deliberations be “transparent and impartial,” and involve industry players in the field. However, scientists believe industry “should not be allowed to bias the process or conclusions.” Once completed, the analysis would offer the UN and WHO a guide for precautionary action.

Questions have surfaced about the safety of EMF among the scientific community and with the public, but it is largely absent from national debate despite the ubiquitous use of devices, particularly in the United States.

“…In the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place…to suggest it might be a problem – maybe, eventually, a very public-health problem – is like saying our shoes might be killing us,” wrote journalist Christopher Ketchum in a 2010 GQ article called “Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”

Ketchum said a 2008 study sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France reported that after a decade of cellphone use, the chances of getting a brain tumor – specifically on the side of the head where you use the phone – go up as much as 40 percent for adults.

Read more: ​Berkeley to vote on ‘right to know’ law on cellphone radiation risks

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Psychiatric drugs kill 500k+ Western adults annually, few positive benefits – leading scientist

RT | May 13, 2015

Psychiatric drugs lead to the deaths of over 500,000 people aged 65 and over annually in the West, a Danish scientist says. He warns the benefits of these drugs are “minimal,” and have been vastly overstated.

Research director at Denmark’s Nordic Cochrane Centre, Professor Peter Gøtzsche, says the use of most antidepressants and dementia drugs could be halted without inflicting harm on patients. The Danish scientist’s views were published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.

His scathing analysis will likely prove controversial among traditional medics. However, concern is mounting among doctors and scientists worldwide that psychiatric medication is doing more harm than good. In particular, they say antipsychotic drugs have been over-prescribed to many dementia patients in a bid to calm agitated behavior.

Gøtzsche warns psychiatric drugs kill patients year in year out, and hold few positive benefits. He says in excess of half a million citizens across the Western world aged 65 and over die annually as a result of taking these drugs.

“Their benefits would need to be colossal to justify this, but they are minimal,” he writes.

“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm.”

Gøtzsche, who is also a clinical trials expert, says drug trials funded by big pharmaceutical companies tend to produce biased results because many patients took other medication prior to the tests.

He says patients cease taking the old drugs and then experience a phase of withdrawal prior to taking the trial pharmaceuticals, which appear highly beneficial at first.

The Danish professor also warns fatalities from suicides in clinical trials are significantly under-reported.

In the case of antidepressants venlafaxine and fluoxetine, Gøtzsche casts doubt over their efficacy. He said depression lifts in placebo groups given fake tablets almost as promptly as groups who partake in official clinical tests.

He also stressed the results of trials of drugs used to treat schizophrenia are disconcerting, while those for ADHD are ambiguous.

Commenting on the negative side effects of such pharmaceutical drugs, Gøtzsche argued the “short-term relief” appears to be replaced by “long term harm.”

“Animal studies strongly suggest that these drugs can produce brain damage, which is probably the case for all psychotropic drugs,” he said.

“Given their lack of benefit, I estimate we could stop almost all psychotropic drugs without causing harm – by dropping all antidepressants, ADHD drugs and dementia drugs … and using only a fraction of the antipsychotics and benzodiazepines we currently use.”

“This would lead to healthier and more long-lived populations.”

Gøtzsche says psychotropic drugs are “immensely harmful” if used for prolonged periods.

“They should almost exclusively be used in acute situations and always with a firm plan for tapering off, which can be difficult for many patients,” he adds.

Gøtzsche’s views are sharply contradicted by many experts in the field of mental health. But others, including a diverse group of medical experts and institutions affiliated with the Nordic Cochrane Centre, argue otherwise. The Nordic Cochrane Centre is an independent research hub dedicated to scrutinizing and monitoring the effects of health care.

The debate on psychiatric drugs has gathered momentum in recent times. In the discussion, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Gøtzsche’s arguments are contradicted by Professor of Mood Disorders Allan Young and John Crace. Crace, himself a psychiatric patient, writes for the Guardian.

Crace and Young say a broad body of research indicates the drugs are effective and that they are just as helpful as drugs for other ailments. They also argue mental health conditions are the fifth most significant contributor to disabilities worldwide.

While Gøtzsche stresses clinical trials bankrolled by pharma giants churn out skewered results, Young and Crace say the efficacy and safety of psychiatric medication continues to be monitored after research trials come to a close.

However, both Young and Crace acknowledge concern over the side effects and effectiveness of psychiatric medication.

“For some critics, the onus often seems to be on the drug needing to prove innocence from causing harm rather than a balanced approach to evaluating the available evidence,” they write.

“Whether concerns are genuine or an expression of prejudice is not clear, but over time many concerns have been found to be overinflated.”

The BMJ discussion is a preamble to the Maudsley debate at Kings College London on Wednesday. The debate takes place three times a year at the university’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN).

Wednesday’s debate focuses on the impacts of psychiatric medications, and poses the question of whether they prove more destructive for patients than beneficial.

May 13, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 2 Comments

Navajo Nation struggles with fallout from uranium mining

RT | May 9, 2015

Waste outside an abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation, Cameron, Arizona (Image from ehp.niehs.nih.gov)

Waste outside an abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation, Cameron, Arizona (Image from ehp.niehs.nih.gov)

As part of a cleanup settlement, the US will pay out more than $13 million to start dealing with hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation territory. Navajo officials tell RT it is just the first step on a long road ahead.

The money will be put into an “environmental response trust” managed by the Navajo Nation with the support of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

“It will provide us with funding to do a very specific task under the cleanup process that’s authorized by the federal superfund law,” Stephen Etsitty, executive director of the Navajo Nation’s EPA, told RT’s Ben Swann.

The funds will cover evaluations of 16 abandoned mines throughout Navajo lands, chosen from a list of 46 priority sites. There are hundreds of sites that still need to be addressed. By one estimate, there are more than 1,200 abandoned uranium mines within the borders of the Navajo Nation, a 27,000-square-mile territory stretching across Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

The EPA says it has repaired 34 homes, surveyed 521 mines, compiled a list of 46 priority sites for cleanup, and performed stabilization or cleanup work at nine mines so far. The agency has also provided safe drinking water to more than 1,800 families.

A 2014 settlement set aside $985 million from a multi-billion dollar settlement with subsidiaries of Anadarko Petroleum Corp to clean up approximately 50 abandoned Kerr-McGee mining operations in the Navajo Nation.

Federal surveyors found rich uranium deposits on Navajo lands in the 1940s, and the government authorized private contractors to extract the ore for US weapons and energy needs. About 4 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from the area between 1944 and 1986, after which the mining was halted. The federal government, through the Atomic Energy Commission, was the sole purchaser of the ore until 1966.

Navajo miners worked without any kind of protective gear or decontamination protocols for wages sometimes less than $1 an hour. In her 2011 book, Yellow Dirt: A Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed, journalist Judy Pasternak wrote that the miners suffered radiation exposure four times that of the Japanese exposed to nuclear bombs during World War II.

In the 1950s, cancer rates among the Navajos were so low, they were thought naturally immune, wrote environmental journalist Sonia Luokkala. By 2004, cancer had become the leading cause of illness and death among the Navajo.

A 2014 survey by the EPA of about 500 abandoned mines found radiation levels up to 25 times higher than normal. Many of the mines with the highest radiation levels were found within a quarter mile of human habitation.

“Chronic exposure is definitely one thing we want to get a better understanding of,” Etsitty told RT. Many of the Navajo live in the remote areas of the reservation, often close to the abandoned mining pits that have since filled up with water. Humans and animals drink the water from the pits, often not aware of the possible issues with radiation or toxicity.

“We still have not completed meaningful public health studies to begin answering those questions,” Etsitty said. The DOJ settlement should offer a little bit of help in the process, but merely surveying the extent of the contamination and environmental impact will take much more money and time.

May 9, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Nuclear Power | , , , , | Leave a comment

Yemen suffers vital food and aid shortages as shelling continues

RT | April 28, 2015

Amid constant shelling by the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen is struggling to import even essentials such as food and water, with a UN-imposed arms blockade on Houthi fighters interrupting any deliveries to the country.

Speaking at UN Security Council closed-door consultations on the crisis in Yemen, the United Nations envoy to Yemen warned that UN arms embargo targeting the Houthis is having a collateral impact on aid deliveries.

“Implementation of the new targeted arms embargo … could inadvertently restrict the flow of much-needed commercial goods and humanitarian assistance to Yemen, including food, fuel and medical supplies,” Jamal Benomar told reporters after the briefing.

Around 10 vessels containing food supplies for Yemen are still waiting to enter the country’s ports, as many Yemeni sea outlets are now being cut off by Saudis who refuse to allow any international vessels to dock in Houthi-controlled areas.

According to the UN, the number includes three ships awaiting clearance at Hodeida, with one carrying 13,500 tonnes of rice. Another six ships carrying fuel, corn and construction products are awaiting clearance from the coalition to dock at the nearby Salifa port.

Yemen which imports more than 90 percent of its food, mainly by sea, has been struggling to feed the population for weeks. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that at least five merchant ships were not allowed to pass. Only two or three of those vessels have been able to offload their cargo, ship tracking data and shipping sources told Reuters.

“Ships with wheat need to wait up to five days for permission to enter. Several seem to be delayed,” a German commodities trade source told the news agency.

Aid deliveries have also been hindered by the Saudis who have now been engaging the Houthi forces from the air for over a month now.

Two Iranian cargo planes headed for Yemen were forced to turn back by Saudi Arabia last week. On Friday Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Saudi Arabia’s chargé d’affaires in Tehran to express its protest over the move.

“We consider all options for helping the Yemeni people and immediate dispatch of humanitarian aid and transfer of the injured,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Sunday.

The food that does eventually enter the war-torn country is being moved slowly around Yemen as shortages of fuel continues, United Nations’ World Food Programme said.

With a price tag of $10 per liter of petrol, hospitals are suffering the worst, with the UN humanitarian agency OCHA warning that fuel supplies to generate powers will dwindle for one more week before running out in two weeks time.

Prices for wheat products have also skyrocketed in the country and have risen by more than 40 percent since February. Medicine prices have risen by more than 300 percent, the UN said.

The humanitarian situation in Yemen has become catastrophic, humanitarian agencies said on Monday, as over 12 million people need help, according to UN figures.

“It was difficult enough before, but now there are just no words for how bad it’s gotten,” said International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokeswoman Marie Claire Feghali. “It’s a catastrophe, a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The lack of safe drinking water supply is also becoming a widespread problem in Yemen, a country of vast sand dunes and dessert.

“There’s a consensus on water sharing across the Middle East – since water is generally pretty scarce there. President Hadi cut the water budget by 70 percent and that was one of the many decisions that created the sentiment against him,” Danny Makki of the Syrian Youth Movement, told RT.

Meanwhile Yemen’s exiled government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared three areas in Yemen as “disaster” zone. Yemeni Human Rights Minister Izzedine al-Asbahi proclaimed that fighting in the country has “turned Yemen back 100 years,” due to the destruction of infrastructure. Provinces of Aden, Dhalea and Taiz, have suffered the most, al-Asbahi told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Since the Saudi-led bombings started on March 26, more than 1,000 people, including an estimated 551 civilians have been killed, the United Nations said last week. UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead.

“The impact on civilians is the major concern – a bombing campaign has been happening for over a month, and a hundred of killed civilians are children,” Joe Stork from Human Rights Watch told RT.

Commenting on Monday’s UN Security Council meeting, Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin said that the warring parties have agreed on some measures in resolving the conflict.

“They [the warring parties in Yemen] agreed on a whole series of arrangements for settling the political crisis. The only remaining issue was the way the collective leadership would be structured,” Churkin told reporters.

Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia said the first phase of the campaign, codenamed operation Decisive Storm, had achieved all of its goals and was concluded. The new phase, operation Restoring Hope, was announced with a focus on diplomacy, but didn’t rule out new airstrikes. Less than 24 hours later, airstrikes resumed with fighting continuing until this day.

April 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Monsanto shuns WHO verdict that Roundup ‘probably’ causes cancer

RT | March 21, 2015

The active ingredient in the world’s most widely-used Roundup herbicide has been classified as “probably” carcinogenic to humans by a branch of the World Health Organization. The agrochemical giant Monsanto, has immediately rejected the new conclusions.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in their latest study said that there was “convincing evidence” that glyphosate in Roundup can cause cancer in lab animals.

St. Louis-based Monsanto was not pleased with WHO conclusions, claiming that scientific data does not support their assumptions and urging the health watchdog to hold a meeting to explain the findings.

“We don’t know how IARC could reach a conclusion that is such a dramatic departure from the conclusion reached by all regulatory agencies around the globe,” Philip Miller, Monsanto’s vice-president of global regulatory affairs, said in a brief statement released soon after the report was published.

The study, published Friday in the journal Lancet Oncology also said it found “limited evidence” that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for “non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” The conclusion of the research was based on studies of exposure to the chemical in the United States, Canada, and Sweden that date back to 2001.

According to the study, Glyphosate is used in more than 750 different herbicides in air dissemination during spraying, in water and in food. IARC said glyphosate was traced in the blood and urine of agricultural workers.

IARC has four levels of classifications for cancer agents. Glyphosate now falls under the second level of concern known as ‘probable or possible carcinogens.’ The other agents are classified either as carcinogens, ‘probably not carcinogenic’ or ‘not classifiable’.

Glyphosate, which was invented by Monsanto back in 1974, is a broad-spectrum herbicide used to kill weeds, especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses known to compete with commercial crops.

In the US the herbicide is considered safe since 2013, when Monsanto received approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for increased tolerance levels for glyphosate. In its original assessment the US watchdog said glyphosate can “be used without unreasonable risks to people or the environment.” The EPA said it would consider IARC’s evaluation.

A German government evaluation conducted for the European Union last year also found the herbicide safe to use. “The available data do not show carcinogenic or mutagenic properties of glyphosate nor that glyphosate is toxic to fertility, reproduction or embryonal/fetal development in laboratory animal,” the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said.

Monsanto insists that “all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health,” according to Miller.

Glyphosate is mainly used on genetically modified corn and soybeans, thus the general public is unlikely to face the greatest risk of exposure, according to the report.

However, “home use” is not the issue, said Kate Guyton of IARC.

“It’s agricultural use that will have the biggest impact. For the moment, it’s just something for people to be conscious of.”

Last month, a leading US environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, accusing regulators of dismissing the dangers of glyphosate.

In a recent report by the Center for Food Safety, the heavy proliferation of Roundup was linked to a drastic 90-percent drop in the population of monarch butterflies in the US. Roundup has become a leading killer of Glyphosate-sensitive milkweed plants – the only spots where monarchs lay eggs, as the plant is the only food source for monarch larvae.

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism | , , | Leave a comment

San Diego sues Monsanto for bay pollution & persistent contamination

RT | March 17, 2015

Agrochemical giant Monsanto has been sued by the City of San Diego and the San Diego Unified Port District for selling chemicals the multinational knew were harmful to the ecology, including that of the now heavily polluted San Diego Bay.

According to the San Diego Reader, city agencies filed suit on Monday, alleging Monsanto hid its knowledge of the toxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Despite being aware of these facts, the company peddled its chemical compounds for industrial use, including shipbuilding, electrical component manufacture, food packaging and paint plasticizers.

The city and port were previously held responsible by the San Diego Regional Water Control Board for the bay’s pollution, resulting in fines of $949,634. The city set aside $6.45 million to improve the Shipyards Sediment Site, the most notoriously polluted section of the bay. City and port authorities have already sued shipbuilding companies BAE and NASSCO, and are now going for Monsanto.

“PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in Bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay,” the city said in the lawsuit. “PCB contamination in and around the Bay affects all San Diegans and visitors who enjoy the Bay, who reasonably would be disturbed by the presence of a hazardous, banned substance in the sediment, water, and wildlife.

“PCBs were not only a substantial factor in causing the City and Port District to incur damages, but a primary driving force behind the need to clean up and abate Bay sediments. In addition, fish consumption warnings are posted at locations in and around Bay tidelands warning the public that fish within the Bay may contain contaminants and directing consumption limitations.”

Monsanto was the practically the only PCB producer in North America, marketing the products under the name Aroclor from 1930 to 1977, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The lawsuit claimed Monsanto had known about the risks of inhaling or ingesting PCBs since the 1930s.

A report from 1969, the suit noted, showed that a Monsanto committee discussed ways to continue propagating the organic pollutants, which have been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, among others.

“There is little probability that any action that can be taken will prevent the growing incrimination of specific polychlorinated biphenyls as nearly global environmental contaminants leading to contamination of human food (particularly fish), the killing of some marine species (shrimp), and the possible extinction of several species of fish eating birds,” the internal Monsanto report said.

“Secondly, the committee believes that there is no practical course of action that can so effectively police the uses of these products as to prevent environmental contamination. There are, however a number of actions which must be undertaken to prolong the manufacture, sale and use of these particular Aroclors as well as to protect the continued use of other members of the Aroclor series.”

Through the suit, the city and port want to recoup costs of removing PCBs from the bay and for loss of natural resources.

PCBs have been banned in the United States since 1979.

Much of Monsanto’s PCB production occurred in plants based in Anniston, Alabama and Sauget, Illinois, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

In 2013, a Missouri appeals court ruled that a lawsuit — alleging PCBs produced by Monsanto caused cancer — could move forward in a reversal of a lower court’s decision.

The case, according to attorneys for the plaintiffs, is monumental given the plaintiffs alleged “general population” — and not occupational — exposure.

“The case represents the first time that injured victims have sought to hold a company accountable for producing a chemical that has contaminated the entire planet, including every person in the United States,” wrote Allen Stewart, P.C., a Dallas law firm that handles lymphoma claims.

“The plaintiffs are three lymphoma patients who each have elevated levels of PCBs in their blood. The original Monsanto Co. (now known as “Pharmacia Corp.”) produced more than 99% of all of the PCBs ever used in the United States. Because PCBs are far more persistent in the environment than most other chemicals, PCBs are now a ubiquitous environmental contaminant. Today, PCBs can be found in measurable levels in virtually any sample of soil or air, and also in the food chain. PCBs contaminate fish, dairy products, beef, pork, poultry, and eggs.”

Read more: DuPont pushing for lenient plan in cleaning up toxic former munitions plant

March 17, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

WHO urges limitation of daily sugar intake to less than 50 grams

RT | March 4, 2015

The World Health Organization recommends consuming less than 50 grams of sugar a day for the sake of preventing obesity and tooth decay.

The ‘50 gram’ amount is equal to 12 teaspoons of sugar. If that sounds like a lot, bear in mind that a single can of soda already contains around 10 teaspoons.

The WHO recommendations that this limit include all types of free sugars such as glucose, fructose, table sugar added to processed foods and drinks and those naturally present in fruit juices, honey and syrups.

A recent WHO survey showed, predictably, that people around the globe eat much more sugar than they really need. Both kids and adults in North America and Central America sweeten their lives with more than 95 grams of sugar every day. To reach overall average, this figure should be halved.

In some areas the figure is even higher. For example an average resident in South America gets 130 grams of sugar on daily basis.

The WHO insists that free sugar should cover less than 10 percent of an individual’s daily energy intake.

“We have solid evidence that keeping the intake of free sugars to less than 10 percent of total energy intake reduces the risk of [being] overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development said in a statement.

Current results differ a lot depending on the area. In Hungary and Norway sugar covers less than 8 percent of daily intake, while Spanish and British people get 17 percent of their daily energy from sugar. Portugal is among the worst performers as data showed rates among children there were as high as 25 percent.

March 4, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment