"Prevention is the cure for child/teen cancer." This is the welcoming statement on a website called 'TheReasonsWhy.Us', where families affected by childhood cancers can sign up for a landmark new study into the potential environmental causes.
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In December of 1924, the heads of all the major lightbulb manufacturers across the world met in Geneva to concoct a sinister plan. Their talks outlined limits on how long all of their lightbulbs would last. The idea is that if their bulbs failed quickly customers would have to buy more of their product. In this video, we're going to unpack this idea of purposefully creating inferior products to drive sales, a symptom of late-stage capitalism that has since been coined planned obsolescence. And as we'll see, this obsolescence can have drastic consequences on our wallets, waste streams, and even our climate.
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Marie Quinney and Gabriela Martinez
This article is part of The Davos Agenda.
During 2020, many of us saw images of deserted urban areas being reclaimed by animals and heard reports of carbon dioxide emissions plummeting as transportation ground to a halt. A new analysis shows that the U.S. had reached its lowest level of emissions in three decades.
NO₂ levels in the air above India (U.S. date format). World Economic Forum
Human activity is destroying our natural world. World Economic Forum Nature Risk Rising
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By Alex Truelove
We're all culprits in the plastic pollution crisis — and that's by design.
I was reminded of this recently when I ordered a set of carbon filters for my countertop compost bin. (Like most people, I don't care for smelly kitchens.) The package arrived in a layered-plastic bubble envelope. Inside I found another clear plastic bag encasing the filters. Finally, adding insult to injury, each filter was wrapped individually in plastic. That made at least three layers of plastic for each filter.
Marine litter on a remote stretch of Norway coastline. Bo Eide / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0<p>The cost to the companies making these wasteful products? Zero. In a shareholder profit-maximizing world, making disposable junk wins every time.</p><p>But what if these companies were held responsible for their products? Would it prevent the onslaught of plastic junk filling up our landfills and too often ending up in the ocean? History suggests manufacturers would design products to be more reusable, repairable and resilient, because they'd want to limit the waste they would have to manage.</p><p>Which brings us to an idea known as producer responsibility.</p><p>Producer responsibility programs have existed around the world for decades and have successfully increased collection, recycling and reuse for the products they cover. For the most part these programs regulate hazardous, hard-to-dispose-of products such as batteries, paint, mercury thermostats, carpet, pesticides, tires and pharmaceuticals. Dozens of states already have programs in place for these items.</p><p>For example, thermostat makers are required to finance and sometimes run convenient recycling programs to keep mercury, a potent neurotoxin, from escaping and causing damage. Not all programs require producers to collect their own trash, but they all require adequate financing for safe collection. Producers that redesign their products to be less dangerous or more reusable can often avoid higher fees.</p><p>Unfortunately we don't have programs in place for single-use packaging and foodware, despite the fact that those products are <em>also </em>hazardous and hard to dispose of. That's why <a href="https://uspirg.org/reports/usp/break-waste-cycle" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">we need to create them</a>. British Columbia has already implemented producer responsibility legislation, and a handful of U.S. states — from Washington to Maine — are <a href="https://www.wastedive.com/news/epr-extended-producer-responsibility-maine-new-york-trends-plastic/587623/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">considering similar programs</a>. If implemented, these programs would create jobs, generate revenue streams for local municipalities to further reduce waste and, in the long run, improve human health and help fight climate change.</p><p>With support and pressure from residents, we could see laws pass as early as 2021, forcing our product-makers to either be better or pay out.</p><p>The idea is even gaining support <a href="https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/news/press-releases/udall-lowenthal-merkley-clark-unveil-landmark-legislation-to-break-free-from-plastic-pollution" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at the federal level</a>, as members of Congress respond to growing calls from constituents to address the plastic pollution crisis. Even the remote possibility of a federal program may push states to establish their own programs first.</p><p>Perhaps unsurprisingly, industry groups that represent manufacturers of these products have <a href="https://time.com/5790656/fixing-recycling-in-america/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">already opposed</a> efforts to hold their clients responsible, which is why we must continue to push our legislators to support these programs now and into the future. In other words, the jig is up — but only if we say so.</p><p><em>The opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of</em> The Revelator<em>, the Center for Biological Diversity or their employees.</em></p><p><em><a href="https://therevelator.org/author/alextruelove/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Alex Truelove</a> is United States Public Interest Research Group's director of zero waste campaigns.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/plastic-producer-responsibility/" target="_blank">The Revelator</a>. </em></p>
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) failure on food chemical safety has left consumers at risk of chronic diseases.
We Are Sick<p>A lot of us are affected by chronic health conditions. <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/research/reports/children-diabetes-rates-rise.html" target="_blank">Diabetes in children</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr123-508.pdf" target="_blank">adults</a>; <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_258.pdf" target="_blank">attention</a>, learning and memory disorders; <a href="https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/obesity.asp" target="_blank">obesity in children</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr122-508.pdf" target="_blank">adults</a>; thyroid dysfunction; and the list goes on. Experts call them non-communicable diseases because, unlike pathogens like bacteria and viruses, we do not pass them from one person to another. <a href="https://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd-status-report-2014/en/" target="_blank">Global public health experts</a> linked tobacco use, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, and unhealthy diets to increases in the risk of non-communicable diseases.</p><p>Unhealthy diets are usually associated with calorie-dense nutrient-poor foods, often called ultra-processed foods, due to their ingredients resulting from a series of industrial processes, many requiring sophisticated equipment and technology (sweet and savory snacks, reconstituted meats). In addition to industrially produced ingredients (high-fructose corn syrup, protein isolates, hydrogenated oil), such food also contains numerous additives including dyes, flavors, emulsifiers, thickeners, and artificial sweeteners. Further, industrial chemicals used in packaging manufacturing and food processing equipment —such as bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, PFAS, perchlorate— are also found in these foods.</p><p>These intentional uses of chemical additives number in the thousands, and many have been linked to endocrine disruption, neurological and behavioral problems, cancer, and heart and liver disease.</p>
Congress Added Guardrails Against Chronic Health Effects<p>In the U.S., approximately <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2011.00166.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">10,000 chemicals</a> can be purposely added to food or enter the food supply through processing equipment and packaging, and 60 percent of the calories ingested are from ultra-processed foods. In 1958, Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate chemicals intentionally added to food or to food contact materials, commonly known as food additives, to ensure their use is safe. <a href="https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=170.3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Safe</a> means the potential toxic health effects of a new additive that becomes part of the diet must be assessed in combination with other substances already present and are expected to have similar health effects. Thus, the cumulative assessment of health effects by a class of related substances prevents the addition of intentional new or expanded uses of chemical additives that would increase chronic disease. Moreover, this approach, together with systematic review of prior safety decisions results in health risk reduction.</p>
FDA Neglected Its Responsibility to Follow the Law<p>We wanted to investigate whether and how food manufacturers and the FDA had implemented the cumulative effect requirement. To do that, <a href="https://www.edf.org/media/lack-key-considerations-fda-food-chemical-safety-process-leaves-consumers-risk-chronic" target="_blank">we downloaded and reviewed all 877 safety determinations</a> contained in the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) <a href="https://www.fda.gov/food/generally-recognized-safe-gras/gras-notice-inventory" target="_blank">notifications inventory</a>. These notices were voluntarily submitted by food manufacturers to the FDA between 1997, when GRAS notification program began, and March 24, 2020. We looked at GRAS notices because they are publicly available and FDA rules require that food manufacturers include in the notice an explanation of how they considered the cumulative health effect of a new additive. Unfortunately, our investigation showed that both the FDA and the food manufacturers appeared to have ignored this crucial safety requirement.</p><p>We searched the documents for terms "cumulative effect" and "pharmacological" presuming that any analysis of the cumulative effect of chemical or pharmacologically related substances would include those terms. We evaluated every positive finding for context and reviewed the document more closely when warranted. We found that in only one of 877 GRAS notices did a food manufacturer consider the cumulative effect requirement in a meaningful way. Notably, that one notice stopped short of establishing a safe exposure for the class as required by regulation. And we found no evidence that the agency either recognized this single attempt to follow the law or had objected to the omissions in the 876 other notices.</p><p>To better understand how these blatant omissions happened, we also reviewed the FDA's relevant guidance for industry documents to determine if they contain information to help industry understand how to consider the cumulative effect of the substance as required by law and regulations. We used the agency's online research tool and identified 21 documents related to food chemicals. For each document, we searched for key terms including "cumulative effect", "chemically related", "pharmacological effects", and "pharmacologically related". We also searched for references to key regulations or statutory provisions directly related to the cumulative effect requirement. We found next to nothing and what information was there was either incomplete or confusing.</p><p>Ten documents did not mention the legal requirement and two simply restated it. Four documents created confusion by using terms such as 'cumulative exposure' or 'cumulative intake.' Five documents provided incomplete and potentially misleading information. For example, excluding the requirement from the definition of safety or paraphrasing the safety requirement in a manner that limited the assessment to a single chemical instead of related substances in the diet.</p>
The Unknown Cost of FDA’s Six Decades of Failure<p>This is an obvious failure by the FDA and food manufacturers that has significant consequences for public health, particularly for communities already facing significant health and socio-economic disparities and for <a href="doi:%20https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-1408" target="_blank">children</a>, who are uniquely susceptible to dietary exposures to multiple chemicals. It is known that fetal and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-11-42" target="_blank">early life exposures</a> have been associated with long-term diseases or disorders that usually manifest later in life. Development of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2014.05.003" target="_blank">neurological, immune, reproductive</a>, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2015-1010" target="_blank">endocrine systems</a> have been shown to be particularly susceptible to chemical exposures. For example, several <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2014-203980" target="_blank">food additives and contaminants</a> in common foods – including nitrates, perchlorate, thiocyanate, BPA, phthalates, potassium bromate, synthetic dyes – all harm the thyroid's ability to produce a hormone essential to brain development. The common-sense preventative measure to reduce exposures is to treat chemicals in the diet with related health effects as a class – as Congress mandated in 1958.</p><p>The healthcare costs of long-lasting health conditions, especially when they arise during <a href="https://doi.org/10.1586/erp.11.93" target="_blank">childhood</a>, as well as the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(20)30128-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">economic benefits</a> of preventing exposures to substances that disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system have been documented.</p><p>How can this be remedied?</p>
Solutions<p>First, the FDA needs to add definitions of key terms such as "cumulative effect", "chemically related", "pharmacologically related" and "pharmacological effect." This should not be a heavy lift. For instance, the agency's own Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has already <a href="https://www.fda.gov/media/77834/download" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">established definitions</a> for pharmacologically related substances and pharmacological effects; food additive regulators could also implement this. We are not implying that additives be regulated as drugs; rather, that the body does not identify whether a chemical that binds to a hormone receptor is a pharmaceutical or a food additive. But it certainly may have a similar biological response with potentially different health consequences depending on the dose, duration of exposure and life-stage of the individual.</p><p>Second, the FDA should review the requirement for all forms industry must complete when submitting petitions or notifications to the agency for review of their products' safety assessment. FDA should provide clear and specific guidance to industry on what it is expected and how to accomplish it. And, of course, the agency needs to ensure compliance with the law.</p><p>Medical and scientific societies together with health and environmental organizations have formally submitted <a href="https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FDA-2020-P-2003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a petition to the FDA</a> to revise its food and color additive regulations and associated guidance to ensure compliance with the requirements in law. Safe food is fundamental to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. Putting into action the protections already available in the law and regulations would also restore the confidence in the FDA's mission to protect the public health by assuring the safety of our nation's food supply.</p><p>Lastly, these efforts should be conducted without delay so we begin to curb the epidemic of chronic diseases that continue to inflict personal and financial pain in so many families and worsen an already strained healthcare system.</p>
By John R. Platt
Let's be honest: This has been a truly exhausting year.
We started 2020 already worn thin by three years of the Trump administration, with its constant assaults on the environment and human decency on display almost every single day — and it got worse from there.
By Ken Kimmell
2020 is coming to a close, and it can't end fast enough. But as the year winds down, I am buoyed by two big climate victories on the same day, perched atop a clear change in direction mandated by the election.
By Kristy Dahl
In early January of this year, fresh off the experience of writing a year-end blog post for 2019, I started a project that I thought would make writing this year's year-end post easier. I created a little 2020 calendar on which I planned to record the one big thing that happened in the climate change space each day. In my mind I called it "The Daily Big Deal," and I could envision myself sitting here, as I am, on December 17, reviewing the year's climate-related events and deftly knitting them together in the blog post equivalent of a beautiful scarf made of reclaimed yarn. Or an ugly sweater. Or whatever.
Financial commitments to the fossil fuel industry have far outpaced commitments to clean energy in G20 countries since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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By J. Mijin Cha and Manuel Pastor
You may not know it, but Democrats and Republicans share a growing concern about the climate and environment. With extreme weather events becoming more common, many young Republicans now question their allegiance to a party that denies the reality of climate change. After the destructive environmental policies of the Trump administration, there are high hopes among many Americans that progress will be possible under a new administration — even if Biden's reluctant to abandon fracking or adopt all the language of a "Green New Deal."
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President-elect Joe Biden will soon step into a tangled web of critical foreign and domestic issues affecting Americans. As his administration begins work to address these complex challenges, issues that affect other species on Earth must not be lost in the shuffle.
MacNeil Lyons / NPS<p>The proposal, which would put wolf management in the hands of the states instead of the federal government, produced immediate outrage. A historic <em>1.8 million</em> public comments opposed the delisting, and 86 members of Congress (in both House and Senate), plus 100 scientists, 230 businesses and 367 veterinary professionals, submitted letters of opposition. Even the scientific peer reviews commissioned by the Service itself found the proposal had <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/12/science/wolves-chronic-wasting-disease.html" target="_blank">inadequate scientific support</a>.</p><p>Despite this overwhelming opposition and flawed science, the Service went ahead and stripped gray wolves of protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. In the process it also ignored the fact that gray wolves are still functionally extinct in the majority of places they once inhabited.</p>
Why States Can’t Protect Wolves<p>Prior to this year's comprehensive delisting, gray wolves living in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon, Utah and California were already being managed by state wildlife agencies. In most of these states, this so-called "management" has been a debacle, as the agencies are often staffed and directed by hunters interested in "harvesting" wildlife for personal gain or, in the case of trophy hunting, ego gratification. If wolves are eating deer and elk in order to survive, these hunters view the predators as unacceptable competition.</p><p>For many of these state decision-makers, the attitude toward wolves is at best reluctant tolerance — far from what it should be: a desire for full recovery of the species and compassionate co-existence.</p>
A radio-collared wolf watches near a group of wintering elk in the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming. USFWS / Tony and Ann Hough<p>Idaho provides the worst example of wolf mismanagement at the state level. Over the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020, the state allowed the killing of at least <a href="https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/idaho-documents-reveal-weeks-old-wolf-pups-among-570-maimed-slaughtered-wolves-2020-09-11/" target="_blank">570 of the 1,000 wolves</a> estimated to exist there. The only thing that prevented it from authorizing even more killings was a provision that would have <a href="https://idfg.idaho.gov/old-web/docs/wolves/plan02.pdf" target="_blank">returned management to the federal government</a> if population levels fell below an established threshold. This is completely unacceptable. Until state-agency staffing is more balanced, representing both the interests of hunters and those who appreciate wildlife alive, the agencies have no business making management decisions about wolves.</p><p>The bottom line is wolves need continued federal protection if they're to survive and fully recover.</p>
How to Restore Federal Protections<p>The Biden administration could begin ensuring protection of wolves through three initial actions.</p><p>First it should reverse the recent decision to delist gray wolves. The incoming secretary of the Interior could easily and immediately withdraw the rule in order to settle the inevitable lawsuit(s) that will challenge the legality of the delisting.</p><p>Second it should put <em>all</em> gray wolves in the lower 48 states under Endangered Species Act protection once again. The entire history of federal wolf protection has been piecemeal and fractured. Defining numerous different "distinct population" segments and pursuing delisting on a region-by-region or state-by-state manner does not facilitate full wolf recovery throughout their historic range; it only results in significant numbers of wolves being shot and trapped, and repeated challenges in court.</p><p>Third, once all gray wolves are again under the full protection of the Act, the administration should have the Fish and Wildlife Service finally develop a comprehensive nationwide gray wolf recovery plan. This plan is required under the Act but has never been made. The gray wolf was first protected way back in 1974; the Service has had more than 40 years to complete such a plan. It is long overdue. Once the recovery plan is completed, the Biden administration should have the Service implement it and monitor the results of the implementation. These actions will go a long way toward ensuring the recovery and long-term survival of gray wolves in the lower 48 states.</p><p>As one of North America's most iconic and ecologically important species, gray wolves can and should represent the very best of our conservation efforts and science. This will benefit not just wolves, but all other threatened species in the United States. President-elect Joe Biden has the power to make that a reality.</p><p><em>The opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of</em> The Revelator, <em>the Center for Biological Diversity or their employees</em>.</p><p><span></span><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://therevelator.org/gray-wolf-biden-administration/" target="_blank">The Revelator</a>. </em></p>
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By Dena Jones
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was sued three times this past summer for shirking its responsibility to protect birds from egregious welfare violations and safeguard workers at slaughterhouses from injuries and the spread of the coronavirus.
By David Coman-Hidy
The actions of the U.S. meat industry throughout the pandemic have brought to light the true corruption and waste that are inherent within our food system. Despite a new wave of rising COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently submitted a proposal to further increase "the maximum slaughter line speed by 25 percent," which was already far too fast and highly dangerous. It has been made evident that the industry will exploit its workers and animals all to boost its profit.