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Proposed Rule Would Permit China to Export Poultry Products to U.S.

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Proposed Rule Would Permit China to Export Poultry Products to U.S.
Guangzhou officials reported in February that more than 30 percent of live poultry markets were infected with bird flu. SCMP Pictures

The Trump administration will publish a proposed rule Friday that would permit the People's Republic of China (PRC) to export its own poultry products to the U.S. It is doing so because U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) claims that the PRC's food safety inspection system is equivalent to ours. The decision comes on the heels of the PRC agreeing to resume importing U.S. beef after a 14-year ban.


We can't let trade trump food safety. While China will get U.S. beef that underwent strong food safety regulatory oversight, U.S. consumers will be subject to imports from a country whose own public health officials admit has weak food safety enforcement.

The PRC has experienced numerous avian influenza outbreaks that have led to the death of hundreds of thousands of birds. Some of the strains have been so virulent that they have killed humans that came into contact with infected poultry. At last count, there have been 268 reported human deaths since October 2016. In February, a multinational group of scientists published a study in which they found that antibiotic strains of pathogens run rampant in Chinese poultry.

Food safety scandals have continued to plague the PRC in recent years. In 2008, dairy products tainted with melamine killed six infants and caused 300,000 Chinese consumers to be hospitalized. Other food safety violations include food processing establishments recovering and reusing used cooking oil from street gutters; another food processor marinating duck meat in sheep urine in order to pass it off as lamb meat, another meat merchant marinating pork in chemicals to disguise it as beef; and companies manufacturing and exporting poultry-flavored pet treats tainted with toxins that sickened thousands of pets in the U.S.

What makes the proposed rule even more odious is that the PRC had decided to designate in advance two plants operated by Cargill as being able to export Chinese poultry products to the U.S., should the rule be finalized. Cargill is now reportedly trying to qualify to sell its U.S. beef to China—a win for Cargill, but a big loss for consumers.

To make matters worse, processed poultry from the PRC will not be subject to country of origin labeling requirements, leaving consumers completely in the dark about what they are buying and feeding to their families.

There will be a 60-day public comment period once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. Food & Water Watch urges consumers to tell USDA to cancel this dubious proposed rule when the comment period opens Friday.

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A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

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Scientists have found a way to use bricks as batteries, meaning that buildings may one day be used to store and generate power. Public Domain Pictures

One of the challenges of renewable power is how to store clean energy from the sun, wind and geothermal sources. Now, a new study and advances in nanotechnology have found a method that may relieve the burden on supercapacitor storage. This method turns bricks into batteries, meaning that buildings themselves may one day be used to store and generate power, Science Times reported.

Bricks are a preferred building tool for their durability and resilience against heat and frost since they do not shrink, expand or warp in a way that compromises infrastructure. They are also reusable. What was unknown, until now, is that they can be altered to store electrical energy, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The scientists behind the study figured out a way to modify bricks in order to use their iconic red hue, which comes from hematite, an iron oxide, to store enough electricity to power devices, Gizmodo reported. To do that, the researchers filled bricks' pores with a nanofiber made from a conducting plastic that can store an electrical charge.

The first bricks they modified stored enough of a charge to power a small light. They can be charged in just 13 minutes and hold 10,000 charges, but the challenge is getting them to hold a much larger charge, making the technology a distant proposition.

If the capacity can be increased, researchers believe bricks can be used as a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries — the same batteries used in laptops, phones and tablets.

The first power bricks are only one percent of a lithium-ion battery, but storage capacity can be increased tenfold by adding materials like metal oxides, Julio D'Arcy, a researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who contributed to the paper and was part of the research team, told The Guardian. But only when the storage capacity is scaled up would bricks become commercially viable.

"A solar cell on the roof of your house has to store electricity somewhere and typically we use batteries," D'Arcy told The Guardian. "What we have done is provide a new 'food-for-thought' option, but we're not there yet.

"If [that can happen], this technology is way cheaper than lithium ion batteries," D'Arcy added. "It would be a different world and you would not hear the words 'lithium ion battery' again."