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Bender M.,Zero Mercury Working Group | Lymberidi-Settimo E.,Environmental Working Group
Journal of Public Health Policy | Year: 2014

More than a decade in the making, a new, legally binding treaty on mercury will be adopted by governments in the fall of 2013. The treaty's objective is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic mercury emissions through a range of provisions - including an article devoted to reducing exposure to mercury. Global emissions have increased since 2005, with the environmental health burden increasingly shifting to developing countries. Time is of the essence to reduce pollution because (i) exposure risk to mercury is much greater than previously thought and (ii) mercury already in the environment can be re-emitted via processes in the natural cycle, resulting in a longer lag time before pollution reduction can have a demonstrable effect on the food chain. Health professionals can assist in reducing exposure, choosing mercury-free products and urging governments to ratify the treaty as quickly as possible so that it can take effect. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Source

West P.C.,University of Minnesota | Gerber J.S.,University of Minnesota | Engstrom P.M.,University of Minnesota | Mueller N.D.,Harvard University | And 7 more authors.
Science | Year: 2014

Achieving sustainable global food security is one of humanity's contemporary challenges. Here we present an analysis identifying key "global leverage points" that offer the best opportunities to improve both global food security and environmental sustainability. We find that a relatively small set of places and actions could provide enough new calories to meet the basic needs for more than 3 billion people, address many environmental impacts with global consequences, and focus food waste reduction on the commodities with the greatest impact on food security. These leverage points in the global food system can help guide how nongovernmental organizations, foundations, governments, citizens' groups, and businesses prioritize actions. Source

Lunder S.,Environmental Working Group | Hovander L.,University of Stockholm | Athanassiadis I.,University of Stockholm | Bergman A.,University of Stockholm
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2010

While young children are rarely included in biomonitoring studies, they are presumed to be at greater risk of ingesting environmental contaminants - particularly those that accumulate in foods or shed from consumer products. The widely used fire retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are ubiquitous contaminants in the indoor environment and are widely detected at higher levels in Americans than in individuals from other countries. However, there are only three studies of PBDEs in U.S. children. We hypothesized that PBDEs are present in higher concentrations in young children than their mothers. PBDEs were assessed in blood samples collected concurrently from 20 mothers and their children, ages 1.5 to 4 years. The chemical analyses were performed by GC/MS applying selected ion monitoring. The samples were analyzed for 20 PBDE congeners; 11 were detected. ∑PBDEs for children were typically 2.8 times higher than for mothers, with median child:mother ratios varying from 2 to 4 for individual congeners. In 19 of 20 families studied, children had higher ∑PBDE concentrations than their mothers with significant (p < 0.01) concentration differences for five of the PBDE congeners. Decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-209) was quantitated in 13 children and 9 mothers. Other studies indicate PBDEs are not elevated at birth, suggesting that early life is an intense period of PBDE intake. Children's increased hand-to-mouth activity, dietary preferences, and exposures from breast milk may result in greater ingestion of PBDEs than adults. These findings suggest that measurements from adults likely do not reflect exposures to young children despite sharing homes and similar diets. © 2010 American Chemical Society. Source

News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/green/

Cans of Campbell's brand soups are seen at the Safeway store in Wheaton, Maryland February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron More (Reuters) - Campbell Soup Co said it will label all its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients derived from genetically modified organisms, becoming the first major food company to respond to growing calls for more transparency about contents in food. The world's largest soup maker broke ranks with peers and said it supported the enactment of federal legislation for a single mandatory labeling standard for GMO-derived foods and a national standard for non-GMO claims made on food packaging. The company, which also makes Pepperidge Farm cookies and Prego pasta sauces, said it would withdraw from all efforts by groups opposing such measures. (bit.ly/1OeE1Md) Several activist groups have been pressuring food companies to be more transparent about the use of ingredients, especially GMO-derived ones, amid rising concerns about their effects on health and the environment. Several big companies such as PepsiCo Inc, Kellogg Co and Monsanto Co have resisted such calls and have spent millions of dollars to defeat GMO-labeling ballot measures in states such as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and California, saying it would add unnecessary costs. Monsanto Co said in a statement Friday that it sells seeds to farmers, and does not manufacture or sell food products from crops grown from those seeds. The six biggest agrochemical and biotech seed companies — Monsanto, Dupont, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience, BASF Plant Science and Syngenta AG — spent more than $21.5 million to help defeat a 2012 California proposition labeling proposition, according to state election data. However, in 2014, Vermont became the first U.S. state to pass a law requiring food companies to label GMOs on their products, which will come into effect in July. Pro-labeling groups such as Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Just Label It cheered Campbell's move. "We applaud Campbell's for supporting national, mandatory GMO labeling," Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at EWG said. Advocacy group Just Label It said Campbell's move was a step closer to reaching the goal of a federally crafted national GMO labeling solution. Campbell said late on Thursday that if a federal solution is not achieved in some time, it was prepared to label all its U.S. products for the presence of ingredients that were derived from GMOs and would seek guidance from the FDA and approval by the USDA. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which represents more than 300 food companies opposed to mandatory GMO labeling, said it respected the rights of individual members to communicate with their customers in whatever manner they deem appropriate. However, the GMA said it was "imperative" that Congress acted immediately to prevent the expansion of a costly patchwork of state labeling laws that would ultimately hurt consumers who can least afford higher food prices. Kellogg and Pepsi were not immediately available to comment on Campbell's move. Campbell said in July that it would stop adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) to its condensed soups for children and use non-genetically modified ingredients sourced from American organic farms in its Campbell's organic soup line for kids. The company also said it would remove artificial colors and flavors from nearly all of its North American products by July 2018.

News Article
Site: http://cen.acs.org/news/ln.html

What’s unusual is that for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, EPA is poised to restrict chemicals that have long been on the market. And in a striking change from the past, the likelihood of a federal court knocking down these regulations is much lower. EPA’s odds of successfully restricting or banning chemicals improved markedly in June. After years of wrangling, Congress passed legislation to overhaul the nation’s 40-year-old statute governing chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). President Barack Obama signed it into law on June 22, enacting the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The law is named for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat who for decades championed legislation to improve the safety of chemicals and the chemical industry. In what is possibly the biggest change under the updated law, Congress has mandated that EPA systematically review the safety of commercial chemicals—defined as substances that aren’t regulated as food, drugs, or pesticides. The agency’s goal is to ensure that no chemical in U.S. commerce poses an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. The agency hasn’t even tried to regulate a commercial substance since 1991, when a federal appeals court slapped down the agency’s ban under TSCA of cancer-causing asbestos products. “The court effectively found that EPA had to prove it had analyzed every conceivable way of restricting asbestos and had chosen the one that was least burdensome to industry,” explains a statement from Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of health and environmental groups that lobbied for TSCA reform. The enormous legal onus of showing that it had chosen the least burdensome option effectively halted EPA from regulating chemicals currently in commerce. Notwithstanding the court decision, EPA under the Obama Administration in 2009 began to scrutinize and plan for possible regulation of a handful of controversial chemicals or classes of substances, including bisphenol A and phthalates. The agency expanded this work in 2011 and now is working on 90 compounds or classes of chemicals. Those substances are linked to adverse reproductive or developmental effects; are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances; are probable or known carcinogens; are chemicals found in children’s products or consumer products; or are chemicals detected in human blood, urine, or tissue in biomonitoring programs. EPA has finished reviewing some of these compounds, determining that some pose no risk and flagging a handful for deeper examination or regulation. The task of reviewing the risks posed by each chemical in commerce is huge and could drag on for a generation. Completing safety reviews of the estimated tens of thousands of chemicals now on the market is likely to take a couple of decades, observers from industry and environmental organizations agree. Plus, any restriction, ban, or phaseout of a particular chemical would take effect years after EPA completes a safety review of the substance, points out Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney with the Environmental Working Group. Given the deadlines established in the law, Benesh figures it will take 35 years for the Lautenberg Act to fully affect chemicals on the market today. In contrast, the old statute put the agency in a bind. If EPA suspected that a chemical might pose a risk, the agency had to document that the substance actually presents a risk before it could require chemical makers to produce additional information. Plus, EPA could demand the information only by going through the formal federal regulation-making process. This takes a minimum of 18 months to complete but usually takes years. Now, EPA can issue an administrative order requiring manufacturers to provide toxicity data in addition to using the formal process. Another change that Congress made in the law involves company trade secrets. Like the original TSCA, the revised statute requires EPA to shield from public view any data that chemical manufacturers claim as confidential business information. Health and environmental groups have complained—and many in industry agreed—that companies overused these assertions, which never expired under TSCA and didn’t require EPA review. Under pressure from the Obama EPA, chemical manufacturers have voluntarily lifted a multitude of outdated or questionable claims. The rewritten law also directs EPA to review the thousands of trade secretclaims for chemicals’ identities that companies made in their TSCA filings over the past four decades. Companies seeking to maintain those claims must reassert and substantiate them, and EPA must determine whether they are still justified, says Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. Up-front substantiation of confidentiality claims is one of several costs that small and midsized chemical manufacturers are worried about under the revised law, says Daniel Newton, senior manager of government relations at the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates. EPA’s new powers to demand toxicity information will likely require greater outlays by companies too, Newton says. On top of this, Congress gave EPA the authority to impose fees on chemical makers and processors to offset some of the agency’s costs of implementing the various provisions of the Lautenberg Act. The agency will set those fees after consultation with industry, and the law specifies that small businesses will be charged less. Negotiators on Capitol Hill were long stuck on whether and how to override state action on chemicals. In a bipartisan compromise that led to final passage of the Lautenberg Act, lawmakers allowed states to retain bans and other chemical-related laws and regulations that were enacted by April 22 of this year. If EPA either determines a compound poses no unreasonable risk to human health or the environment or decides to regulate the substances, the law forbids states from acting on that chemical. States, however, may act on chemicals that EPA hasn’t reviewed or isn’t in the process of assessing. Another key result of Congress’s revision of TSCA isn’t written into the Lautenberg Act. As EPA implements the statute, lawsuits challenging the agency’s moves are certain to crop up, attorneys for industry and environmental groups tell C&EN. Litigation asking courts to interpret the legal limits of a statute is par for the course when Congress gives new powers to an agency.

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