Judge Says Public Doesn’t Need Cancer Warning Label
By Zen Honeycutt
A California federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the public does not need a warning label to inform us that cancer-causing and harmful chemicals in glyphosate herbicides are in our food or products, temporarily relieving manufacturers from the responsibility of being honest with their customers. At a time when more and more American families are struggling with diseases and their high cost, one man decided that it was an injustice to the chemical companies to have to tell us about the presence of their chemicals.
Senior United States District Judge William B. Shubb released his ruling regarding the case of Wheat Growers and Monsanto against the California Environmental Protection Agency (CA EPA), Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and the CA attorney general to remove glyphosate, the declared active chemical ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world, from the CA Prop 65 carcinogen list, a law approved by California voters by ballot initiative in 1986.
The judge ruled that OEHHA can keep glyphosate on the Prop 65 carcinogen list but the manufacturers such as Monsanto and food producers will not have to label their products with a warning label. Normally, the law states that products containing chemicals on the list, above a certain level, must label their products within a year from the listing. The label would state, "WARNING this product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer or reproductive harm." The temporary preliminary injunction granted by the judge halts the impending labeling by manufacturers of products and foods containing glyphosate and allows them not to inform their customers of this fact ... that glyphosate has been found to cause cancer in animals and to be a probable human carcinogen.
The result is that OEHHA acknowledges glyphosate-containing products can cause cancer, but cannot require the manufacturers of such products to warn consumers because it could negatively affect corporate profits.
This one judge, one man, who could not even pronounce "glyphosate" at the beginning of the hour long hearing, has just changed the law and effectively hidden the known cancer-causing effects of glyphosate from not only Californians, but from an entire nation looking to California to lead the way in health regulations.
One must ask: Why doesn't this judge want you to know what you are eating? Why wouldn't he think it wise to inform the public that cancer causing chemicals are in our food? Is it not a matter of public interest that the chemicals in this herbicide, itself an antibiotic by patent, has been proven to be neurotoxic, genotoxic, endocrine disruptors, which can lead to mental illness and increasing depression and acts of violence, are in our children's peanut butter sandwich? Why aren't couples with infertility being told that the wheat snacks they are eating are likely keeping them from getting pregnant? Why aren't parents allowed to know that the non-organic orange juice and oatmeal they are giving their baby or the hummus that they eat for lunch contains high levels of glyphosate herbicide which has been proven at ultra low levels to cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?
The answer appears to be that the judge did not consider the evidence before him. He stated that "on the evidence before the court the required warning for glyphosate does not prove to be accurate and uncontroversial" citing that "almost all other agencies have proven that glyphosate is not carcinogenic." This is simply untrue. Health and regulatory agencies of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and six Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman have issued outright bans on glyphosate, imposed restrictions or have issued statements of intention to ban or restrict glyphosate-based herbicides, including Roundup, over health concerns and the ongoing Roundup cancer litigation.
The Feb. 26, 2018 OEHHA Prop 65 ruling clearly panders to the chemical company, Monsanto, who argued that the listing and labeling of their products would lead to "irreparable harm" because public and private "enforcers" would sue, causing them to lose vast amounts of resources and loss of sales. What about the irreparable harm to Mary, California mother of two, whose father and son were both exposed to Roundup during backyard garden use, and both contracted non-Hodgkin lymphoma?
What about the irreparable harm to the mothers who spoke up at the Monsanto Tribunal whose sons were undergoing more than 60 surgeries for birth defects which were linked to exposure to glyphosate herbicide during their pregnancy? What about the irreparable harm to our nation due to the health issues and skyrocketing health care costs which have been connected to glyphosate herbicides?
Did the judge consider the evidence of collusion between Monsanto and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employees to cover up the carcinogenicity of glyphosate from the public? Or did he ignore the ghost writing, manipulation of science and lack of safety of the final formulation of glyphosate herbicides?
The impact of this ruling is that, unless further legal action is taken, consumers will not see warning labels on food informing them that they contain the cancer-causing glyphosate herbicide. Activists and non-profit organizations that have been testing food items for glyphosate will not be able to hold food companies accountable and sue on the grounds of not labeling their products. Consumers will not see a label on Roundup, warning them of cancer-causing chemicals within the products and they will continue to use Roundup where their children, grandchildren and pets play.
This ruling magnifies an enormous problem within our government. We elect politicians into office and expect them to protect us, and they don't. In addition, judges are appointed by our elected officials, and the opinion of that one person can supersede the law of an entire state or nation. This judge, appointed by President Bush in 1990, did not display any knowledge of the effects of this chemical or the process in which a chemical is listed as a carcinogen. When he asked if the chemical was harmful, the lawyer on the OEHHA side did not give a sufficient response. Monsanto's lawyer argued vehemently that the carcinogenic issue was contested and the decision of one agency should not require them to "falsely" label their products. Clearly, all Monsanto had to do was instill doubt regarding the harmful effects of the chemical in order to win their case.
OEHHA's Sam Delson commented on the case, "While the court granted the request for a preliminary injunction regarding the warning requirement, the court denied the request for a preliminary injunction on the listing itself. The court stated, 'plaintiffs have not shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the listing of glyphosate violates the First Amendment … ' We are pleased that the listing of glyphosate remains in effect, and we believe our actions were lawful. We have not decided whether to appeal the ruling."
Once again, big corporations have influenced the policies of our regulatory agencies and are getting away with hiding the truth about harmful chemicals and our food supply. Once again, activists wonder what it will take to have justice in our country, safe food, and a nation we can be proud of. Clearly, if we wait for our government to do the right thing we will be waiting forever. The answer continues to be ... it is up to consumers to get informed, to test even more, share information, and refuse to buy products which contain harmful chemicals and stop supporting a system of corruption and poison.
'Dangerous Drift-Prone Pesticide' Threatens Millions of Acres, Hundreds of Endangered Species: Farmers and Conserva… https://t.co/uIJ5st8T5A— The Progressive (@The Progressive)1518497399.0
Zen Honeycutt is founder and executive director of Moms Across America.
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By Emily Grubert
Natural gas is a versatile fossil fuel that accounts for about a third of U.S. energy use. Although it produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants than coal or oil, natural gas is a major contributor to climate change, an urgent global problem. Reducing emissions from the natural gas system is especially challenging because natural gas is used roughly equally for electricity, heating, and industrial applications.
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What RNG Is and Why it Matters<p>Most equipment that uses energy can only use a single kind of fuel, but the fuel might come from different resources. For example, you can't charge your computer with gasoline, but it can run on electricity generated from coal, natural gas or solar power.</p><p>Natural gas is almost pure methane, <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/" target="_blank">currently sourced</a> from raw, fossil natural gas produced from <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/natural-gas/where-our-natural-gas-comes-from.php" target="_blank">deposits deep underground</a>. But methane could come from renewable resources, too.</p><p><span></span>Two main methane sources could be used to make RNG. First is <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks" target="_blank">biogenic methane</a>, produced by bacteria that digest organic materials in manure, landfills and wastewater. Wastewater treatment plants, landfills and dairy farms have captured and used biogenic methane as an energy resource for <a href="http://emilygrubert.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/eia_860_2017_map.html" target="_blank">decades</a>, in a form usually called <a href="https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/biomass/landfill-gas-and-biogas.php" target="_blank">biogas</a>.</p><p>Some biogenic methane is generated naturally when organic materials break down without oxygen. Burning it for energy can be beneficial for the climate if doing so prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere.</p>
Renewable Isn’t Always Sustainable<p>If RNG could be a renewable replacement for fossil natural gas, why not move ahead? Consumers have shown that they are <a href="https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/green-power.html" target="_blank">willing to buy renewable electricity</a>, so we might expect similar enthusiasm for RNG.</p><p>The key issue is that methane isn't just a fuel – it's also a <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/ghg_report/ghg_overview.php" target="_blank">potent greenhouse gas</a> that contributes to climate change. Any methane that is manufactured intentionally, whether from biogenic or other sources, will contribute to climate change if it enters the atmosphere.</p><p>And <a href="http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar7204" target="_blank">releases</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.029" target="_blank">will happen</a>, from newly built production systems and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-methane-emissions-matter-to-climate-change-5-questions-answered-122684" target="_blank">existing, leaky transportation and user infrastructure</a>. For example, the moment you smell gas before the pilot light on a stove lights the ring? That's methane leakage, and it contributes to climate change.</p><p>To be clear, RNG is almost certainly better for the climate than fossil natural gas because byproducts of burning RNG won't contribute to climate change. But doing somewhat better than existing systems is no longer enough to respond to the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2923" target="_blank">urgency</a> of climate change. The world's <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/" target="_blank">primary international body on climate change</a> suggests we need to decarbonize by 2030 to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.</p>
Scant Climate Benefits<p><a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab9335/meta" target="_blank">My recent research</a> suggests that for a system large enough to displace a lot of fossil natural gas, RNG is probably not as good for the climate as <a href="https://investor.southerncompany.com/information-for-investors/latest-news/latest-news-releases/press-release-details/2020/Southern-Company-Gas-grows-leadership-team-to-focus-on-climate-action-innovation-and-renewable-natural-gas-strategy/default.aspx" target="_blank">is publicly claimed</a>. Although RNG has lower climate impact than its fossil counterpart, likely high demand and methane leakage mean that it probably will contribute to climate change. In contrast, renewable sources such as wind and solar energy do not <a href="https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/" target="_blank">emit climate pollution directly</a>.</p><p>What's more, creating a large RNG system would require building mostly new production infrastructure, since RNG comes from different sources than fossil natural gas. Such investments are both long-term commitments and opportunity costs. They would devote money, political will and infrastructure investments to RNG instead of alternatives that could achieve a zero greenhouse gas emission goal.</p><p>When climate change first <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/24/us/global-warming-has-begun-expert-tells-senate.html" target="_blank">broke into the political conversation</a> in the late 1980s, investing in long-lived systems with low but non-zero greenhouse gas emissions was still compatible with aggressive climate goals. Now, zero greenhouse gas emissions is the target, and my research suggests that large deployments of RNG likely won't meet that goal.</p>
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By Charli Shield
When an elephant dies in the wild, it's not uncommon to later find its bones scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.
Elephant Burial Grounds<p>Highly social creatures that form deep familial bonds, elephants have long been observed gathering at the site where a peer or family member has died — often spending hours, even days, quietly investigating the bodies or the bones of other dead elephants.</p><p>Although the popular idea that dying elephants are instinctively drawn to special communal graves — so-called "elephant graveyards" — is a myth, their tendency to go out of their way to visit the bones and tusks of the deceased isn't unlike human rituals at graveyards, says animal psychologist Karen McComb.</p><p>"They spend a lot of time touching and smelling skulls and ivory, placing the soles of their feet gently on top of them, and also lifting them up with their trunks," McComb, who's been studying African elephants for 25 years in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, told DW.</p><p>The most striking part of watching an elephant experience loss, Poole recalls, is the quietude. She still remembers one of the first elephant deaths she witnessed; a mother who birthed a stillborn calf. That elephant stayed with its baby for two days, trying to lift it and defending it from vultures and hyenas.</p><p>"I was so struck by the expression on her face and her body. She looked so dejected. It was really like, 'Oh God, these animals grieve…'. It was just so different," Poole told DW. </p>
Witnessing Emotions in Animals<p>Not all scientists are comfortable concluding that elephants grieve. Among the more than 30 reports of elephant reactions to death that Wittemyer co-reviewed in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10329-019-00766-5" target="_blank">a study published in November 2019</a> were accounts of "enormous variation and nuance" he says. "It can be incredibly involved and intricate for extended periods or can be relatively cursory checks."</p><p>In Wittemyer's own experience, it can be difficult not to attribute some kind of emotional experience to the more involved interactions between elephants and their dead.</p><p>He shares the story of an "extraordinary event" involving the death of a 55 year-old matriarch in Kenya in a protected area that happened to be near his place of work. She was visited by multiple unrelated families while she was dying, including another matriarch that exerted such enormous effort attempting to lift her to her feet that she broke her tusk, which Wittemyer says, is "like breaking a tooth." </p><p><span></span>"It was a remarkable example of this heightened emotional state, it was very clearly a very stressful interaction," he says.</p>
A Different Sensory World<p>One factor that limits our ability to fully grasp the way elephants process and respond to loss is our markedly different sensory experiences of the world.</p><p>An elephant's world is fundamentally olfactory — based on smell. Ours is visual. Previous <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25053675/" target="_blank">research</a> has shown elephants possess the most scent receptors of any mammal, and can <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17949977/" target="_blank">use smell</a> to discern the difference between different human tribes from the same local area.</p><p>That could explain why elephants exhibit such interest in sniffing the bones and tusks of others, as a <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1617198/" target="_blank">2005 study</a> from McCombs highlighted. When presented with the skulls and ivory of long-dead elephants and those from other large herbivores, including rhino and buffalo, McCombs and her team found elephants approached and were specifically attracted to the remains of their own species. </p><p>Without access to the smells an elephant picks up on, Wittemyer says "an enormous amount of stuff" could be missed by humans when studying these behaviors.</p>
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