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By Nicole Ferox

Did you know that in order to receive organic certification, packaged foods must be free of not only toxic pesticides but also thousands of added chemicals like artificial preservatives, colors and flavors? Only 40 synthetic substances have been reviewed and approved for organic packaged foods. By contrast, thousands of chemicals can be added to conventional packaged foods, many of which don't require independent government review or approval for use.

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Orange grove in Polk County, Florida. jmsilva / iStock / Getty Images

Advocates from public-health and environmental groups delivered more than 45,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday asking the agency to deny a proposal that would expand spraying antibiotics on citrus fields.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

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Antibiotic-resistance is a growing concern, and now a new study from the University of Southern California (USC) has pinpointed another way it can spread: through wastewater treatment plants.

The study, published in Environmental Science and Technology last week, found that if bacteria in wastewater treatment plants are exposed to just one type of antibiotic, they can actually develop resistance to several drugs.

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By Daniel Ross

Hurricane Florence, which battered the U.S. East Coast last September, left a trail of ruin and destruction estimated to cost between $17 billion and $22 billion. Some of the damage was all too visible—smashed homes and livelihoods. But other damage was less so, like the long-term environmental impacts in North Carolina from hog waste that spilled out over large open-air lagoons saturated in the rains.

Hog waste can contain potentially dangerous pathogens, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. According to the state's Department of Environmental Quality, as of early October nearly 100 such lagoons were damaged, breached or were very close to being so, the effluent from which can seep into waterways and drinking water supplies.

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In the past 30 years, food allergies have become increasingly common in the United States. Changes to human genetics can't explain the sudden rise. That is because it takes many generations for changes to spread that widely within a population. Perhaps the explanation lies in changes to our environment, particularly our internal environment. Shifting lifestyle practices over the last half-century—increasing antibiotic and antimicrobial use, surface sterilization, air filtration and changes to diet—have changed our internal environment and wiped out important bacteria with beneficial health effects.

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In a significant win in the fight to save antibiotics, McDonald's—the largest and most iconic burger chain on the planet—announced Tuesday that it will address the use of antibiotics in its international supply chain for beef by 2021.

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Sanderson Farms announced Friday that it will stop unnecessarily administering two medically important antibiotics—the only two it reports using—in its chickens by March 1, 2019. The company will use the two antibiotics only when treating ailing animals or to control diseases in flocks with some sick birds. "This is a welcome change of heart and good news for people's health," said David Wallinga, senior health officer at NRDC. "To inspire consumer confidence, however, these new pledges will need to be independently verified."

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By Erik D. Olson and Lena Brook

We live in partisan times, as anyone who had to sit through Thanksgiving dinner with distant relatives can probably attest. But even your crazy uncle would agree that the safety of our food shouldn't be a partisan issue. No one wants their child to get sick from eating a hamburger, chicken, or—in the case of the current E. coli outbreak—romaine lettuce. Yet last week's empty Thanksgiving salad bowls are a harbinger of what's to come if our federal government does not start taking food safety seriously.

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By David Wallinga, MD

Heading into the holidays, many of our families are planning meals centered around a delicious turkey, ham or brisket. But a new analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and our partners at Food Animal Concerns Trust shows that our families' health is at significant risk from how these American meats are typically produced.

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By Lena Brook

Less than two weeks ago, JBS USA, one of our country's largest meat processors, announced a high-risk recall of nearly 7 million pounds of its raw beef, over concerns it may be contaminated with Salmonella Newport. Nearly 60 patients in 16 states have so far been made sick. This recent outbreak of infections tied to contaminated ground beef is especially worrisome because S. Newport is a strain of Salmonella that has often been resistant to antibiotics. It may also be the largest beef recall in history for Salmonella.

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By Jonathan Hahn

In 1991, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District launched a Spare the Air program to keep residents in the San Francisco Bay Area informed of high ozone-level days, when air is smoggy and exposure to poor air quality poses health risks. Now, the air district might need to update its alert system for something other than just ozone: antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs).

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