Archives – March, 2012

Death by Delay: Obama Team Stalls on Chemical Regulation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has drafted a “chemicals of concern” list to restrict the use of certain chemicals and alert the public to their possible dangers. But the list remains secret and dormant because it’s stuck at the Obama administration’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review.

OIRA is a division of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). According to Katie Greenhaw, Regulatory Policy Analyst at the government watch-dog group OMB Watch, OIRA has 90  – 120 days to review rules from a regulatory agency, before releasing the rule back to the agency to open it up for public comment. Rules then go back to OIRA for additional review before being published as final rules. This rule has been stuck at OIRA for almost two years. That means the public hasn’t even laid eyes on it. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 26, 2012

New Toxic Sludge PR and Lobbying Effort Gets Underway

- by Sara Jerving

A trade association known for using the terms “compost,” “organic,” and “biosolids” to describe sewage sludge is investing in a new public relations campaign to influence policymakers and the public. The US Composting Council (USCC), which was founded by the disposable diaper industry, will be expanding its long-standing efforts to “rebrand” sewage sludge, which is increasingly disposed of on agriculture crops and through garden centers without telling the public that their food is being grown in medical, industrial, and human waste.

Earlier this year, the USCC announced that it hired a PR firm, Colehour + Cohen, to help with the rebranding efforts and that it will also be increasing lobbying efforts. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 16, 2012

USDA to Serve Kids More “Pink Slime”

Pink SlimeA product made by grinding up connective tissue from cows and beef scraps that used to be made into dog food is too disgusting to serve at McDonald’s, Burger King or Taco Bell, which have all dropped it due to public pressure, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) thinks it’s fine to serve in school lunches. The USDA plans to buy seven million pounds of the “Lean Finely Textured Beef” (LFTB) from Beef Products Inc. (BPI) and serve it to school children this spring. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 13, 2012

Atrazine and the Roots of ALEC’s State Data Quality Act

- by Rebekah Wilce

The herbicide atrazine, one of the most heavily used herbicides in the United States has been found in almost 94 percent of U.S. groundwater and can harm human health in multiple ways. ALEC has promoted “model” legislation friendly to Syngenta, atrazine’s primary manufacturer, across the country. At least once, this legislation was introduced to ALEC by a lobbyist paid by Syngenta. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 9, 2012

Consumer Pressure Spurs Campbell’s to Announce Phase-Out of BPA

- by Rebekah Wilce

Campbell's Disney Princess CanSuccumbing to public pressure to eliminate the use of bisphenol A (BPA) (a suspected endocrine disruptor) found in baby bottles, plastic bottles and in the lining of food containers, Campbell’s announced at a February shareholder meeting that it will begin to phase out of the use of BPA in its soup can linings.

The phase out is a huge victory for groups such as the Breast Cancer Fund (BCF), Healthy Child Healthy World (HCHW), the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and Consumers Union that have been campaigning to limit the use of BPAs in the United States for many years. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 7, 2012

More Free Sludge! Calabasas, California Offers Free Sewage Sludge “Compost”

"Organic Biosolids Compost"

- by Rebekah Wilce

Good news! The sewage treatment plant in Calabasas, California has been giving away free sludge! Free sludge, you say? That potent stew of human and industrial sewage sludge laced with flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, pharmaceutical residues, phthalates, industrial solvents, resistant pathogens, and perfluorinated compounds? “Composted” sludge, which can bioaccumulate in plants grown in sludge-contaminated soil? Oh, goodie. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 6, 2012

Activists Rally Around Wisconsin Dairy Farmer Facing Criminal Charges

- by Rebekah Wilce

As snow started to fall, a Mennonite dairy farmer arrived at the courthouse in Baraboo, Wisconsin, on March 2 for a hearing on four charges against him related to the production and distribution of milk and other foods. Vernon Hershberger operates Grazin’ Acres Farm, a small family dairy farm in Loganville, and is part of a private food club that leases his cows and receives distributions of raw milk and other foods via what he calls a members-only “food pantry” on the farm. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 5, 2012

Rampant GMO Contamination Unchecked by Judge

GMO Corn

- by Rebekah Wilce

A judge in New York sided with Monsanto and against organic farmers in the first case of its kind seeking to protect famers from being accused of patent infringement upon unintentional contamination by Monsanto’s GMO seed.

Organic farmers sought a judgment against Monsanto to protect themselves from being sued for patent infringement when their crops are unintentionally contaminated with the company’s genetically modified (GMO) seed, was dismissed in federal district court in New York by Judge Naomi Buchwald called the plaintiffs’ concern an “intangible worry, unanchored in time.”

In fact, Monsanto has already filed “over a hundred lawsuits involving hundreds of farmers for illegally using GMO patented seeds, and there have been judgments as high as a million dollars, with the average judgment being about $170,000,” according to Paige Tomaselli, Staff Attorney for the Center for Food Safety (CFS). CFS was a plaintiff in the case and spoke on the subject of GMO contamination at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) annual conference in Madison on February 25.

That’s a pretty tangible worry for farmers that don’t intend to grow genetically engineered crops. The plaintiffs collectively represent over 300,000 farmers and eaters. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 5, 2012

Sewage Sludge Rash? Texas Musical Fest-Goers Blame “Dillo Dirt”

- by Sara Jerving

Nine months before tens of thousands flocked to a popular music festival in Austin, Texas, the concert park grounds were spread with sewage sludge. It was autumn of 2009, and sewage sludge was used as a “fertilizer” to make the grass — parched from prior dry seasons — green. But it rained the weekend of the festival, turning the grounds into a huge mud pit, with a stench that one concert-goer described as the smell of “pig manure,” with the consistency of pudding.

Following the event, several attendees reported rashes and other maladies that they believe were contracted from coming in contact with the churned up human and industrial waste. The local media was abuzz with stories of the festival’s epidemiological aftermath.

The city of Austin markets its sewage sludge as “organic” compost under the trade name “Dillo Dirt” — in tribute to the native nine-banded Armadillo. The sludge qualifies for “unrestricted use,” which means it has been “cleared” for use even on vegetable gardens (although there used to be a warning printed on the bag suggesting gardeners not use it on vegetable gardens). There are some 265 facilities across the country that handle hazardous sludge and many of them are attempting to market sewage sludge as “compost.”

Two years have passed since the Austin City Limits (ACL) 2009 festival at Zilker Park and those affected have few answers about what happened to their bodies after the event. (more…)

Leave a Comment March 2, 2012



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