ENEWSPF News http://www.enewspf.com/ Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:27:27 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev (info@mypapit.net) American Academy of Pediatrics Reaffirms Opposition to Legalizing Marijuana for Recreational or Medical Use http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58553-american-academy-of-pediatrics-reaffirms-opposition-to-legalizing-marijuana-for-recreational-or-medical-use.html Updated policy statement includes option for “compassionate use” of marijuana for children with debilitating or life-limiting diseases

Elk Grove Village, IL—(ENEWSPF)—January 26, 2015. In an updated policy statement and technical report, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its opposition to legalizing marijuana, citing the potential harms to children and adolescents.

The AAP policy statement, “The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research, and Legal Update” and an accompanying technical report will be published in the March 2015 Pediatrics (published online Jan. 26). In the policy, the Academy reaffirms its position against the legalization of marijuana, states its opposition to “medical marijuana” outside the FDA regulatory process, and presents recommendations to protect children in states that have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.

The Academy also recommends that marijuana be decriminalized, so that penalties for marijuana-related offenses are reduced to lesser criminal charges or civil penalties. Efforts to decriminalize marijuana should take place in conjunction with efforts to prevent marijuana use and promote early treatment of adolescents with marijuana use problems.

“We know marijuana can be very harmful to adolescent health and development,” said Seth D. Ammerman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse and an author of the policy statement. “Making it more available to adults – even if restrictions are in place – will increase the access for teens. Just the campaigns to legalize marijuana can have the effect of persuading adolescents that marijuana is not dangerous, which can have a devastating impact on their lifelong health and development.”

For adolescents, marijuana can impair memory and concentration, interfering with learning, and is linked to lower odds of completing high school or obtaining a college degree. It can alter motor control, coordination and judgment, which may contribute to unintentional deaths and injuries. Regular use is also linked to psychological problems, poorer lung health, and a higher likelihood of drug dependence in adulthood.

The AAP opposes medical marijuana outside of the usual process by the Food and Drug Administration to approve pharmaceutical products. Only limited research has been conducted on medical marijuana for adults, and there have been no published studies of cannabinoids -- either in the form of marijuana or other preparations -- that involve children. The Academy supports further study of cannabinoids, which limited research to date shows can help specific conditions in adults.

“While cannabinoids may have potential as a therapy for a number of medical conditions, dispensing marijuana raises concerns regarding purity, dosing and formulation, all of which are of heightened importance in children,” said William P. Adelman, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Adolescence and an author of the policy statement. “We need further research to determine the efficacy and correct dosing for cannabinoids, and we need to formulate cannabinoids safely as we do for any other medication.

However, given that some children who may benefit from cannabinoids cannot wait for a meticulous and lengthy research process, the Academy recognizes some exceptions should be made for compassionate use in children with debilitating or life-limiting diseases.

The AAP also recommends:

Research and development should be conducted of pharmaceutical cannabinoids. The AAP recommends changing marijuana from a DEA Schedule 1 to a DEA Schedule 2 to facilitate this research. 

The federal and state governments should establish robust health surveillance regarding the impact of marijuana, particularly on children and adolescents. 

In states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, the AAP strongly recommends strict enforcement of rules and regulations that limit access, marketing and advertising to youth.

Where marijuana is sold legally, either for medicinal or recreational purposes, it should be contained in child-proof packaging to prevent accidental ingestion.

The AAP discourages adults from using marijuana in the presence of children because of the influence of role modeling by adults on child and adolescent behavior.

“It is true we do not yet have data documenting changes to child health in response to the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado, though there have been reports of child ingestion and injuries,” said Sharon Levy, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse. “It took several generations, millions of lives and billions of dollars to establish the harms of tobacco use on health, even though these harms are overwhelming. We should not consider marijuana “innocent until proven guilty,” given what we already know about the harms to adolescents.”

# # #

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults

Source: www.aap.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:25:47 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58553-american-academy-of-pediatrics-reaffirms-opposition-to-legalizing-marijuana-for-recreational-or-medical-use.html
Diaper Compound May Expand Power of Microscopes http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58550-diaper-compound-may-expand-power-of-microscopes.html NIH-funded study may change the way scientists photograph large tissues

Bethesda, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--January 26, 2015.  Pour, mix, set, add water and voila: highly detailed images of the inside of cells. A study, partially funded by the National Institutes of Health, showed that a modified form of the superabsorbent chemical used in disposable diapers can expand brain structures to four and a half times their original size. The process called expansion microscopy will allow scientists to take super-resolution pictures of healthy and diseased tissue throughout the body using common microscopes.

“For centuries, a scientist’s ability to look at cells has been constrained by the power of the lenses they used to magnify them. We decided to try something different, and physically magnify the cells themselves,” said Edward Boyden, Ph.D., associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, and a leader of the study published in Science.

Dr. Boyden and his colleagues discovered that if they linked brain cell proteins to a mesh of sodium polyacrylate and then added water, the polyacrylate mesh swelled and greatly expanded the size of protein complexes while preserving their normal structural arrangement in the cell. This allowed the scientists to see previously hidden submicroscopic details of cell structures. 

“Expansion microscopy is a potential game changer,” said Walter Koroshetz, M.D., acting director of NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “This is the kind of outside- the-box technical innovation that expands the capability of microscopes widely used in the scientific community to explore the fine structure of the nervous system in health and disease.”

To demonstrate the technique’s potential, the scientists took pictures of cell protein complexes before and after swelling. They also developed a special labeling molecule that allowed them to both visualize protein complexes and link them to the superabsorbent meshes.

Image of diaper compound used to expand brain cells

Swollen brain cells - Scientists modified the superabsorbant diaper compound, polyacrylate, to magnify brain tissue. Courtesy of Boyden lab, MIT, Cambridge, MA.

They performed experiments on both rodent brain slices and cells grown in petri dishes. In each case, the scientists fixed cell proteins in place with formaldehyde and then gently stripped the cells of their fatty membranes before treating them with labeling molecules. Before treating with acrylate, the scientists took pictures of certain parts of the cells with a high powered microscope designed to capture fine protein complex details. Then they applied the acrylate, polymerized it to form a mesh, used enzymes to clear away unlinked proteins from the mesh and expanded the structures with water. After expansion, they took pictures of the same locations using a lower powered microscope.

Dr. Boyden’s team showed that expansion microscopy improved the second microscope’s ability to resolve details of the cells’ protein complexes. For instance, spaces between rows of skeletal microtubule filaments were easier to see. Expansion also helped the scientists see more clearly the two sides of synapses, the communication points between nerve cells.

Finally, the scientists showed that the overall three dimensional protein complexes within a certain brain cell circuit could be successfully enlarged.

“Our results show that we can scan large chunks of brain tissue with nanoscale precision. We think this can be applied to a variety of tissues and help answer a lot of different questions in science and medicine,” said Dr. Boyden.

In the future, Dr. Boyden and his team plan to test ways to combine the technique with other visualization methods and use it to study diseases in human brain tissue.

This work was supported by grants from NINDS (NS087724), NIMH (MH103910), the New York Stem Cell Foundation, the MIT Center for Brains Minds and Machines (NSF CCF-1231216), Jeremy and Joyce Wertheimer, Google, NSF CAREER Award CBET 1053233, the MIT Synthetic Intelligence Project, the MIT Media Lab, the MIT McGovern Institute, and the MIT Neurotechnology Fund, NSF Graduate Fellowship, Fannie and John Hertz Graduate Fellowship.

For more information on cutting-edge neuroscience research:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov
http://www.nimh.nih.gov
http://www.braininitiative.nih.gov

NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The NINDS mission is to reduce the burden of neurological disease – a burden borne by every age group, by every segment of society, by people all over the world.

About the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit http://www.nimh.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®

Reference

Chen et al. “Expansion Microscopy” Science, January 15, 2015. DOI: 10.1126/science.1260088

Source: nih.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:06:44 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58550-diaper-compound-may-expand-power-of-microscopes.html
Wyoming to Strengthen Fracking Chemical Disclosure in Response to Citizen Pressure http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58547-wyoming-to-strengthen-fracking-chemical-disclosure-in-response-to-citizen-pressure.html Victory: Legal challenge prompts agreement requiring closer scrutiny of bids to keep chemical information secret

Pavillion, Wyoming. "Produced" water is brought back to the surface after fracking takes place. The water and fracking fluid is placed into evaporation ponds.

Pavillion, Wyoming. "Produced" water is brought back to the surface after fracking takes place. The water and fracking fluid is placed into evaporation ponds.  Photo courtesy of Ecoflight

Casper, WY —(ENEWSPF)--January 26, 2015.  Under a settlement agreement approved late Friday, the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission must adopt more rigorous policies for scrutinizing industry requests to keep the identities of fracking chemicals secret.

The Oil & Gas Commission must require substantially greater factual support for oil and gas industry claims that the identities of fracking chemicals used in Wyoming qualify as trade secrets or confidential commercial information and are therefore exempt from state public disclosure requirements.

The settlement is the result of a public-interest lawsuit challenging state regulators’ decisions to withhold the identities of dozens of fracking chemicals from the public, despite evidence that many fracking chemicals cause serious health conditions and have the potential to contaminate soil and drinking water. Earthjustice represented the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks, and the Center for Effective Government in bringing the lawsuit and negotiating the settlement with the Oil & Gas Commission and Halliburton Energy Services, Inc., which intervened in the case to represent industry interests.

“The family that looks out their kitchen window and sees a drilling rig shouldn’t be left in the dark about what chemicals are being pumped into the ground under their home,” said Katherine O’Brien, Earthjustice attorney. “The reforms required by today’s settlement will ensure that oil and gas companies don’t get a free pass from public disclosure laws in Wyoming.”

“Our state claimed credit for being the first to require public disclosure of fracking chemicals, but included a huge loophole,” said Bob LeResche, a landowner from Clearmont, Wyoming and a Powder River Basin Resource Council board member. “This settlement goes a long way in closing that loophole, and if properly administered, will make Wyoming a genuine leader in fracking transparency.”

“We believe the public has the right to know which chemicals are being injected underground during fracking,” said Bruce Pendery, the Wyoming Outdoor Counsel’s chief legal counsel.  “This agreement is another good step in that direction, and we credit the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Halliburton for working cooperatively with us to improve the Commission’s disclosure policies for the benefit of Wyoming citizens.  Ultimately, I’m confident that full transparency will win out because it’s the right thing to do and it’s in the best interest of both industry and the public.”

“Although we are happy that this settlement improves community access to information, Wyoming residents need better protection of their health from fracking,” said Bruce Baizel, Earthworks Energy Program director. “We don’t think there should be any trade secret exemption. If a company wants to inject something through a drinking water aquifer, it needs to make public what it’s injecting, no matter what state it’s operating in. Period.”

“This settlement raises the bar on trade secrecy claims and makes it harder for companies to hide away chemical data important to protecting public health by simply rubber stamping it as secret,” said Sean Moulton, Director of Open Government Policy at the Center for Effective Government. “More states should follow suit and require detailed substantiation of such claims around fracking chemicals.”

“Disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking is very important to us as landowners,” added Wayne Lax, a member of the Powder River Basin Resource Council who lives near proposed oil and gas operations in Laramie County, Wyoming.  “Industry and the state claim that fracking chemicals are just 95 percent water and sand and a few harmless chemicals under our kitchen sink, but we know better and should have the right to find out the truth for ourselves.  I hope that under this settlement citizens will now be able to more readily find out the name and quantity of the chemicals being used near our homes.  The state’s ‘trade secrets’ loophole allowed the industry to dance around the rules.  Properly prioritizing disclosure in the name of public safety should be a priority of our state’s oil and gas regulators.”

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has seven days to adopt and begin implementing the new disclosure policies.

Read the final order and Settlement Agreement Filing.

Background

In 2010, Wyoming became the first state to require oil and gas companies to disclose the identities of chemicals used for fracking.  But in subsequent decisions, the Oil & Gas Commission granted numerous exemptions from the disclosure requirement based on weakly documented industry claims that the chemicals are “trade secrets,” which are protected from public disclosure under Wyoming law.

Because many fracking chemicals are linked to serious short-term and chronic health conditions—including respiratory distress, rashes, convulsions, organ damage, and cancer—and have the potential to contaminate soil and drinking water, in 2012 public interest groups represented by the non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice sued the Oil and Gas Commission to demand broader disclosure of fracking chemical identities as required by Wyoming law.

In response to their lawsuit, in March of 2014 the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that the exemption from public disclosure for trade secrets is narrow, the public’s right to know is paramount, and the Oil & Gas Commission bears the burden of proving that secrecy is justified.

Today’s settlement agreement resolves the groups’ lawsuit and implements the Wyoming Supreme Court’s ruling by requiring the Oil & Gas Commission to adopt a new framework for evaluating trade secret claims. The new policies require oil and gas companies to provide detailed information demonstrating why specific chemical identities qualify for the narrow trade secrets exemption under Wyoming law. These policies will ensure that the Oil and Gas Commission receives the information necessary to identify legitimate confidentiality claims and prevent companies from evading disclosure requirements based on weak, boilerplate assertions that the chemicals they use are trade secrets.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: www.earthjustice.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:39:50 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58547-wyoming-to-strengthen-fracking-chemical-disclosure-in-response-to-citizen-pressure.html
Earthjustice: President Obama Proposes To Permanently Protect 12 Million Acres of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as Wilderness http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/58546-earthjustice-president-obama-proposes-to-permanently-protect-12-million-acres-of-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge-as-wilderness.html Calls on Congress to put this special place off-limits to oil and gas development

Members of the Porcupine caribou herd enter the mountain valleys of the Arctic Refuge, where they find lush vegetation. Caribou are constantly feeding even while migration in order to gain enough weight for the meager winter months. Arctic Refuge, Brooks

Members of the Porcupine caribou herd enter the mountain valleys of the Arctic Refuge, where they find lush vegetation. Caribou are constantly feeding even while migration in order to gain enough weight for the meager winter months. Arctic Refuge, Brooks Range, Alaska. Florian Schulz / visionsofthewild.com

Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--January 26, 2015.  The following is a statement from Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen:

“We applaud and thank President Obama for adopting a conservation plan that for the first time proposes to designate a large portion of the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness to protect it from exploitation and development. We call on Congress to follow the President’s lead.

“Known as ‘The Sacred Place Where Life Begins’ to Alaska Native communities and teeming with rare wildlife, this is a place of incalculable beauty and value, to be protected like Yellowstone and Yosemite, not turned into another polluted oil patch."

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: www.earthjustice.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:36:54 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/58546-earthjustice-president-obama-proposes-to-permanently-protect-12-million-acres-of-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge-as-wilderness.html
New Pesticide To Be Marketed Amid Misleading Claims That It Is ‘Safer for Bees’ http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58545-new-pesticide-to-be-marketed-amid-misleading-claims-that-it-is-safer-for-bees.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--January 26, 2015.  Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it completed the registration of a new pesticide, flupyradifurone, that would be marketed as an alternative to neonicotinoid pesticides, and “safer for bees.” A closer look at this chemical reveals that the agency is grossly misleading the public on the ecological safety of flupyradifurone since the chemical is systemic, persistent, and highly acutely toxic to adult honey bees. At a time when bees are declining, advocates say it is inappropriate for EPA to introduce yet another bee toxic chemical to the market.

Douglas Kirk1Flupyradifurone (“Sivanto”) is a new systemic, butenolide insecticide from Bayer CropScience that is to be used on crops such as citrus, cotton, potatoes and many others, and also as seed treatment. Note: EPA is still considering soybean seed treatment. The chemical is a neurotoxic insecticide that can inhibit nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR) in the nervous system. Neonicotinoids, widely linked to devastating health impacts on bees, affect the nervous system in the same way. However, EPA states that flupyradifurone differs from neonicotinoids because of the way it binds to the receptors and is metabolized. However, most troubling is that, based on EPA’s registration documents, the chemical is highly toxic to adult bees for short-term oral exposures.

According to EPA, flupyradifurone went through a rigorous assessment review, given the elevated concerns surrounding bee decline and its link to pesticides. However, EPA’s review raises more questions than answers on why this latest chemical with potential risks to bees is being registered. EPA’s registration document states, “While the acute oral toxicity study indicates that flupyradifurone is highly toxic to individual adult honey bees, longer-term laboratory-based studies of both larval and adult bees show no adverse effects up to the highest dietary concentration tested.” For bees that come into surface contact with the chemical, EPA states in one document that the chemical is “practically nontoxic to adult bees on an acute contact exposure basis.” But in another document it reports, “In the acute contact toxicity test, some bees showed movement coordination problems or lethargy at the two highest concentrations…” after a few hours of exposure. Despite this, EPA concludes that its review of submitted field studies “did not result in any adverse effect on overall colony performance or overwintering capacity..” EPA documents can be found here.

As a systemic pesticide, it is expected that flupyradifurone will be taken up by the plant and persist in all plant tissues, including pollen and nectar. EPA finds that while residues in pollen were higher than those in nectar, “residues declined in pollen and nectar within a two-week window following treatment.” This means that bees can expect to endure at least two weeks of exposure to high levels of flupyradifurone residues on pollen and nectar. For adult bees that forage on this pollen and nectar, death is imminent as the agency has already found that flupyradifurone is highly acutely toxic from ingestion (oral exposures). To further compound this, EPA notes that the field studies reveal high mortality in adult bees within 24 hours of treatment. Note: It is also important to point out that EPA seemingly believes that it will be acceptable for bees to touch or tread on flupyradifurone residues, as long as they do not ingest it from pollen. This is certainly counterintuitive to natural bee behavior and anyone observing bees.

So why is EPA maintaining that this product is safer for bees? EPA believes flupyradifurone is less toxic than current insecticides on the market, including neonicotinoids. In fact, comparing toxicity values of flupyradifurone and imidacloprid, flupyradifurone is less toxic by the oral route (LD50 3.4ug/bee) than imidacloprid (LD50 0.004ug/bee). While flupyradifurone is less toxic than imidacloprid and some other neonicotinoids, bees are still at risk from flupyradifurone. EPA believes that in spite of the acute oral toxicity, flupyradifurone has no measurable impact on bee colonies and that there is “compelling evidence that the compound is not having a pronounced effect on bees…” EPA states that in making its decision it considered 38 studies, all of which are most likely industry studies, to reach its conclusion. The agency also finds in its registration document that flupyradifurone is “less toxic” to mammals, birds and aquatic organisms (even though it is very toxic to freshwater invertebrates and crustaceans), compared with pyrethroids, neonicotinoids, chlorpyrifos and others. Flupyradifurone is very persistent with half-lives in soil ranging from 38-400 days.

Of concern is the agency’s failure to take into account the cumulative impact of flupyradifurone and neonicotinoids like imidacloprid and clothianidin on bees and other non-target insects in the environment. Neonicotinoids, as well as a host of other insecticides are currently used as seed treatment and in other areas of agriculture and home and garden sites. Adding flupyradifurone to the chemical mix found in the environment will mean that bees and other non-target organisms will be exposed to mixtures of chemicals that have yet to be evaluated for their combined or synergistic effects, and possibly compounding the already dire plight of pollinators.

It was less than one year ago that EPA introduced to the market sulfoxaflor, another bee-toxic insecticide registered by EPA despite warnings from concerned groups and beekeepers. Beekeepers have since sued EPA over the registration of sulfoxaflor. Given the global phenomenon of bee decline and the precautions taken in the European Union regarding bee health with its two-year suspension of neonicotinoid pesticides, advocates are calling it irresponsible for EPA to allow into the environment yet another chemical with a high hazard potential for bee health. To many, EPA’s decision appears counter to current agency and interagency work to protect pollinators.

A recent government sponsored national survey indicates that U.S. beekeepers experienced a 45.2% annual mortality rate with their hives between April 2012 and March 2013. During the winter of 2013/14, two-thirds of beekeepers experienced loss rates greater than the established acceptable winter mortality rate. EPA, which is part of the White House Task Force on Pollinator Health, tasked with stemming the tide on bee declines, has a responsibility to bees, the environment and beekeepers in protecting bees and other pollinators from dangerous pesticides.

Sources: EPA News Release, www.beyondpesticides.org 

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:32:10 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58545-new-pesticide-to-be-marketed-amid-misleading-claims-that-it-is-safer-for-bees.html
USDA Offers Food Safety 'Plays' for Super Bowl XLIX Festivities http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58541-share-on-facebook-share-on-twitter-share-on-email-more-sharing-services-1-usda-offers-food-safety-plays-for-super-bowl-xlix-festivities.html WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--January 26, 2015 – Super Bowl Sunday is about much more than football. In fact when many people think about the Super Bowl, they think about the mouth-watering appetizers, delicious buffalo wings and spicy chili that they will enjoy with their friends.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day of the year in the U.S. (behind Thanksgiving). This means there are more opportunities for a food safety fumble to cause food poisoning while preparing and serving game day party foods in the home. While chips, finger foods, and dips might be a football fan favorite, these dishes involve a lot of people sharing communal items, which increases the risk of foodborne illness. Also if you serve buffet style, that means foods will be left out for long periods of time—all of these scenarios can be recipes for disaster.

In January, Kansas State University released the results of a study that tracked parents’ food handling behavior in the kitchen. After preparing a test meal that included meat injected with tracer bacteria, 82% of study participants left meat-originating bacteria around the kitchen on sinks, refrigerators, and cabinet handles. To promote safe food handling the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a food safety playbook to help you keep your Super Bowl food both safe and delicious.

Plays to Food Safe Homemade Chicken Wings

Make sure your frying oil temperature is 375 °F before starting to fry.

Before frying, pat dry the chicken wings to prevent oil splatter when submerged in hot oil.

Make sure not to overcrowd the chicken wings in the frying basket. If the wings are crowded, they can be undercooked.

To take a temperature of your wings, place them on a clean plate covered in paper toweling. Use a clean food thermometer to check the internal temperature, for food safety the temp should be 165 °F. You should measure several wings before you finish cooking each batch.

If the wings are below the minimum safe internal temperature of 165 °F submerge them again in the hot oil.

Plays to a Food Safe Buffet

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

Hot foods must have a heat source to keep them warmer than 140 °F.

Cold foods should be kept on ice to remain at a safe temperature below 40 °F.

Perishable foods left out longer than two hours should be discarded and replenished with fresh servings.

Plays to a Food Safe Kitchen Towel

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds to avoid spreading bacteria to your towels.

Never reuse paper towels. This product is for single use only. When used multiple times, bacteria can find their way onto the towel and hitch a ride around the kitchen.

Kitchen towels build up bacteria after multiple uses. To keep the bacteria from getting the upper hand, you should wash your kitchen towels frequently in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov and follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter. Consumers with questions about food safety, can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

Source: usda.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:03:28 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58541-share-on-facebook-share-on-twitter-share-on-email-more-sharing-services-1-usda-offers-food-safety-plays-for-super-bowl-xlix-festivities.html
Super Bowl Champions Say the NFL Needs to Rethink Marijuana http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/58540-super-bowl-champions-say-the-nfl-needs-to-rethink-marijuana.html Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—January 26, 2015. From the Drug Policy Alliance Facebook Page:
Former NFL players and Super Bowl champions are calling on the NFL to rethink their approach to marijuana! A compelling body of research shows that marijuana can help treat brain injuries (like concussions) and the continuous pain that comes with playing the game. The NFL needs to get on board. Kudos to these guys for stepping up and looking out for the health and safety of players! Read more at: https://www.facebook.com/drugpolicy/photos/a.10150420854369245.417985.7229514244/10153225686629245/?type=1&theater

Related Material:

Huffington Post

Super Bowl Champions Say the NFL Needs to Rethink Marijuana, by Marvin Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita, 01/26/2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marvin-washington/nfl-marijuana_b_6546478.html

Super Bowl week brings back fond memories for us. We shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to earn our Super Bowl rings.

For years, we put our bodies in harm's way in the ultimate team sport, and for many of our NFL colleagues, the physical damage done in pursuit of our dreams is often permanent, and sometimes terribly debilitating.

The NFL is the preeminent sports league in the U.S. but it is woefully behind the curve when it comes to marijuana and players are suffering as a result. Many former and current NFL players use or have used marijuana to treat pain associated with injuries sustained on the field. There is a compelling body of research showing that marijuana can help treat pain and brain injuries.

Roughly a year ago, Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed a willingness to consider the medical use of marijuana for players if medical experts deem it a legitimate option. He said, "We'll continue to follow the medicine... that's something we would never take off the table if we could benefit our players at the end of the day."

It is time for Roger Goodell to make good on that promise. The NFL should lead the way in developing a more rational and science-based approach to marijuana. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, abundant evidence already exists regarding the medical potential and benefits of marijuana. Roughly half of the fifty states (representing nearly half of NFL markets) have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and over 70 percent of Americans support this reform. It just so happens that this week's Super Bowl is being played in Arizona, a state that allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

First and foremost, the NFL should allocate financial resources to advance medical research on the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating brain injuries. In the case of trauma, a lot of inflammation occurs, which affects cognitive functioning and neural connectivity. A compound in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) has shown scientific potential to be an antioxidant and neuroprotectant for the brain. In a sport where closed head injuries are common, the league should be doing everything it can to help keep their players healthy during and after their careers. If the NFL wants to continue to grow its game, it must investigate potential medical solutions for its industrial disease, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). Even the federal government holds a patent on marijuana for this purpose.

Second, the NFL should abandon its policy of drug testing and punishing players for use of marijuana. The NHL does not include marijuana among its banned substances and, just this month, the NCAA announced that it plans to re-examine its approach to drug testing student-athletes for non-performance enhancing drugs like marijuana because "they do not provide a competitive advantage." The HBO show "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" reported that 50-60 percent of players currently use marijuana regularly, mostly for pain relief. Solid evidence already indicates that such use can reduce reliance on opiate-based pain medications as well as anti-inflammatory drugs, many of which present pernicious side effects.

Finally, the NFL should take a leadership role in addressing racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement as well as other injustices caused by ineffective prohibitionist policies. Many players enjoy the use of marijuana apart from its medical benefits, just as tens of millions of other Americans do. A majority of Americans now favor regulating and taxing marijuana, more or less like alcohol, and four states have approved such policies, with more likely to do so in coming years. According to the ACLU, African Americans are far more likely than other Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession even though they are no more likely to use or possess marijuana. This basic injustice should be of particular concern to the NFL given that more than two-thirds of all current players are African American.

As former NFL players, we recognize our role as leaders and role models. We firmly believe that reforming marijuana policies can, indeed must, go hand in hand with discouraging young people from using marijuana and other drugs. There is no place any longer, either in the NFL or the nation at large, for the injustices and hypocrisies of prohibitionist marijuana policies. It's time for the NFL to be a leader and create a rational and science-based marijuana policy.

Marvin Washington is a retired 11-year NFL veteran, a Super Bowl XXXIII champion and retired players CTE/Concussion advocate. He is currently a spokesman and advisory board member for KannaLife Science, a phyto-medical company.

Brendon Ayanbadejo is a Super Bowl XLVII and equal rights champion and he retired from the NFL after 13 years. Ayanbadejo is currently working for Fox Sports as an analyst/writer and sits on the executive board of Athlete Ally.

Scott Fujita is a retired 11-year NFL veteran and Super Bowl XLIV champion. He currently works as a TV/film consultant, NFL broadcaster and sports writer. Scott is also a big supporter of human rights and other causes.

Source: www.drugpolicy.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:08:55 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/58540-super-bowl-champions-say-the-nfl-needs-to-rethink-marijuana.html
In Boon to 'Fight for $15,' Study Confirms Living Fast Food Wage Totally Doable http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/58519-in-boon-to-fight-for-15-study-confirms-living-fast-food-wage-totally-doable.html

Economic researchers back up what fast food workers have argued: employers from McDonald's to Wendy's can afford to pay more

Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015
Fast-food workers striking in New York City in July of 2013. (Photo: Annette Bernhardt/flickr/cc)
Fast-food workers striking in New York City in July of 2013. (Photo: Annette Bernhardt/flickr/cc)

A growing movement of fast food workers has launched strikes, protests, and public pressure campaigns across the United States and world demanding an end to starvation wages and a minimum of $15 an hour, under the slogan "We are worth more!"

Now, a just-released paper from economic researchers is affirming what those employees have long argued: such pay is doable, affordable, and would not require mass firings, despite the claims of industry heavyweights, from McDonald's to Wendy's.

Entitled A $15 Minimum Wage: How the Fast-Food Industry Could Adjust Without Shedding Jobs, the paper was written by Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, and Jeannette Wicks-Lim, a PERI research assistant professor.

Culling data from previous studies and U.S. Economic Census surveys, the researchers chart out the potential impact of a minimum wage increase, from $7.25 to $15 an hour over the course of four years, on the industry.

Their conclusion? The fast food industry "could absorb the increase in its overall wage bill without resorting to cuts in their employment levels at any point over this four-year adjustment period."

According to the researchers, this could be accomplished through "a combination of turnover reductions; trend increases in sales growth; and modest annual price increases over the four-year period."

In fact, the paper finds, a $15 minimum wage would not even hurt the bottom-line for the fast food industry.

The study directly contradicts numerous claims by the fast food industry, which has been put on the defensive by nation-wide and global escalations of fast food worker protests.

"Mandating increased wages would lead to higher prices for consumers, lower foot traffic and sales for franchise owners, and ultimately, lost jobs and opportunities for employees to become managers or franchise owners,” said International Franchise Association President and CEO Steve Caldeira in a statement issued over the summer.

But according to Pollin and Wicks-Lim, this is simply not the case.

"In terms of policy implications, our results offer a straightforward conclusion," they write. "Achieving a $15 federal minimum wage within the U.S., phased in over four years, should be seen as a realistic prospect. This specifically means that the intended consequence of the $15 minimum wage—to improve the living standards of low-wage workers in the U.S. and their families—can certainly prevail over the unintended consequence that low-wage workers and their families would suffer from widespread employment losses."

The study follows an April report by the think tank Demos, which found that, in 2012, fast food CEOs made over 1,200 times the earnings of the average fast food worker. That ratio remained over 1,000 to 1 in 2013, according to the study.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Source: www.commondreams.org

 

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sat, 24 Jan 2015 04:10:09 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/58519-in-boon-to-fight-for-15-study-confirms-living-fast-food-wage-totally-doable.html
FDA Approves Natpara to Control Low Blood Calcium Levels in Patients With Hypoparathyroidism http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58517-fda-approves-natpara-to-control-low-blood-calcium-levels-in-patients-with-hypoparathyroidism.html Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Natpara (parathyroid horomone) to control hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels) in patients with hypoparathyroidism, a rare disease that affects approximately 60,000 people in the United States.

Hypoparathyroidism occurs when the body secretes abnormally low levels of parathyroid hormone, which helps regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.

Hypoparathyroidism is caused by loss of function of the parathyroid glands and occurs most commonly as a result of surgical removal of the parathyroid glands and more rarely as a result of autoimmune or congenital diseases. Patients with hypoparathyroidism can experience numbness, tingling, muscle twitching, spasms or cramps, abnormal heart rhythm, and seizures as a consequence of low blood calcium levels.

Hypoparathyroidism is also associated with long-term complications such as kidney damage, kidney stones, development of cataracts and calcification of soft tissues. 

Natpara, a hormonal injection administered once daily, helps to regulate the body’s calcium levels. The FDA granted Natpara orphan drug designation because it is intended to treat a rare disease.

“People with hypoparathyroidism have limited treatment options and face challenging symptoms that can severely impact their quality of life,” said Jean-Marc Guettier, M.D., director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This product offers an alternative to patients whose calcium levels cannot be controlled on calcium supplementation and active forms of vitamin D.”

The safety and effectiveness of Natpara were evaluated in a clinical trial of 124 participants who were randomly assigned to receive Natpara or a placebo. The trial was designed to determine whether Natpara can be used as a substitute for, or be used to help reduce the amount of, active forms of vitamin D or oral calcium taken by participants.
Results showed 42 percent of Natpara-treated participants achieved normal blood calcium levels on reduced doses of calcium supplements and active forms of vitamin D, compared to three percent of placebo-treated participants.

Natpara carries a boxed warning that bone cancer (osteosarcoma) has been observed in rat studies with Natpara. It is unknown whether Natpara causes osteosarcoma in humans, but because of a potential risk of osteosarcoma, Natpara is only recommended for use in patients whose hypocalcemia cannot be controlled on calcium supplementation and active forms of vitamin D, and for whom the potential benefits are considered to outweigh this potential risk. Natpara is only available through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). 

The most common side effects observed in Natpara-treated participants were sensations of tingling, tickling, pricking, or burning of the skin (paraesthesia); low blood calcium; headache; high blood calcium; and nausea.

Natpara is manufactured by NPS Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Bedminster, New Jersey.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sat, 24 Jan 2015 04:01:48 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58517-fda-approves-natpara-to-control-low-blood-calcium-levels-in-patients-with-hypoparathyroidism.html
FDA Permits Marketing of First System of Mobile Medical Apps for Continuous Glucose Monitoring http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58516-fda-permits-marketing-of-first-system-of-mobile-medical-apps-for-continuous-glucose-monitoring.html Data-sharing capability allows caregivers to monitor patient’s blood sugar levels remotely

Silver Spring, Maryland--(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today allowed marketing of the first set of mobile medical apps that allow people with diabetes to automatically and securely share data from a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) with other people in real-time using an Apple mobile device such as an iPhone.

The Dexcom Share Direct Secondary Displays system’s data-sharing capability allows caregivers to a person with diabetes to monitor that individual’s blood sugar levels remotely through a legally marketed device that is available on mobile devices. Devices like the Dexcom Share were previously available through open source efforts, but were not in compliance with regulatory requirements. The Dexcom Share system is the first of its kind to offer a legally marketed solution for real-time remote monitoring of a patient’s CGM data.

“This innovative technology has been eagerly awaited by the diabetes community, especially caregivers of children with diabetes who want to monitor their glucose levels remotely,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Today’s marketing permission paves the way for similar technologies to be marketed in the United States.”

A CGM is a device that includes a small, wire-like sensor inserted just under the skin that provides a steady stream of information about glucose levels in the fluid around the cells (interstitial fluid). CGMs are worn externally and continuously display an estimate of blood glucose levels, and the direction and rate of change of these estimates. When used along with a blood glucose meter, CGM information can help people with diabetes detect when blood glucose values are approaching dangerously high and dangerously low levels.

The Dexcom Share system displays data from the G4 Platinum CGM System using two apps: one installed on the patient’s mobile device and one installed on the mobile device of another person. Using Dexcom Share’s mobile medical app, the user can designate people (“followers”) with whom to share their CGM data. The app receives real-time CGM data directly from the G4 Platinum System CGM receiver and transmits it to a Web-based storage location. The app of the “follower” can then download the CGM data and display it in real-time.

The FDA reviewed data for the Dexcom Share system through the de novo classification process, a regulatory pathway for low- to moderate-risk medical devices that are novel and not substantially equivalent to any legally marketed device. Data provided by the device maker showed the device functions as intended and transmits data accurately and securely.

Because the device is low to moderate risk, the FDA has classified the device as class II exempt from premarket submissions. In the future, manufacturers wishing to market devices like the Dexcom Share system will not need premarket clearance by the FDA prior to marketing, but they will still need to register and list their device with the agency, as well as follow other applicable laws and regulations.

“Exempting devices from premarket review is part of the FDA’s effort to ensure these products provide accurate and reliable results while still encouraging the development of devices that meet the needs of people living with diabetes and their caregivers,” said Gutierrez.

The Dexcom Share system does not replace real-time continuous glucose monitoring or standard home blood glucose monitoring. It is also not intended to be used by the patient in place of a primary display device. Additionally, CGM values alone are not approved to determine dosing of diabetes medications. CGMs must be calibrated by blood glucose meters, and treatment decisions, such as insulin dosing, should be based on readings from a blood glucose meter. 

Diabetes is a serious, chronic metabolic condition where the body is unable to convert glucose into the energy needed to carry out daily activities. An estimated 25.8 million people in the U.S. – about 215,000 of them under age 20 – have diabetes. If left untreated, high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious long-term problems such as stroke, heart disease, and damage to the eyes, kidneys and nerves.

The Dexcom Share system is manufactured by Dexcom, Inc., located in San Diego, California.

For more information:

FDA: Diabetes Information
FDA: Medical Devices
FDA: CDRH Office of In Vitro Diagnostic Device Evaluation and Safety

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Source: fda.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Sat, 24 Jan 2015 03:59:57 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58516-fda-permits-marketing-of-first-system-of-mobile-medical-apps-for-continuous-glucose-monitoring.html
Interior Secretary Jewell Visits New Mexico’s Permian Basin to Discuss Efforts to Reduce Methane on Public Lands http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58514-interior-secretary-jewell-visits-new-mexico-s-permian-basin-to-discuss-efforts-to-reduce-methane-on-public-lands.html Administration Goal to Reduce Methane Emissions by up to 45% by 2025

CARLSBAD, N.M. –-(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  On the heels of the Obama Administration’s recently announced goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze today visited oil and gas fields in the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and met with industry officials to discuss approaches to reducing wasteful venting, flaring and leaking of natural gas (methane) from wells on public lands.

Secretary Jewell and Director Kornze’s visit to the BLM’s Carlsbad Field Office, which oversees about 25 percent of all onshore Federal oil production, underscores the President’s goal to cut methane emissions as part of his Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, harness clean domestic energy resources and cut carbon pollution. Acting BLM-New Mexico State Director Aden Seidlitz, other BLM officials and representatives from several oil and gas development companies also joined Jewell and Kornze.

“The BLM is leading by example on our public lands, updating decades-old standards to reduce wasteful venting, flaring and leaks of natural gas,” said Secretary Jewell. “Getting more of our nation’s natural gas into pipelines and delivered to market means more American energy and the creation of new American jobs.”

As part of the President’s strategy, Interior is working closely with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Labor and Transportation in developing an interagency, multi-sector strategy for improving emissions data, identifying technologies and best practices for reducing emissions and examining cost-effective opportunities to reduce methane emissions.

The BLM’s current regulations regarding venting and flaring are more than three decades old and the new draft standards, scheduled to be put out for public comment this spring, would update these requirements. The BLM is working with multiple stakeholders and reviewing a wide range of options to meaningfully reduce natural gas waste and methane pollution.

“The Bureau of Land Management is committed to ensuring that the natural gas captured from our nation’s public lands creates revenue for taxpayers and spurs job growth in rural America,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “Achieving the President’s goal would mean harnessing enough gas, that would otherwise be wasted or lost, to heat more than 2 million homes for a year.”

U.S. oil production is at the highest level in nearly 30 years and the Nation is now the largest natural gas producer in the world, providing an abundant source of clean-burning fuel to power and heat American homes and businesses. At the same time, methane accounts for 10 percent of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions, and 25 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. U.S. methane emissions are projected to rise more than 25 percent by 2025 without additional steps to lower them. About a third of these emissions come from oil and gas operations.

During their visit, Jewell, Kornze and others also received briefings regarding advances in processing applications for permits to drill, hydraulic fracturing and the operation of the Carlsbad Field Office as an Energy Pilot Office. More than 37 million barrels of oil were produced from federal leases in the Carlsbad Field Office last year, and about $589 million in royalties from federal wells went to the State of New Mexico. An Energy Bill Pilot Office with 82 employees, the Carlsbad group has been completing more than 1,400 NEPA actions each year for the past two years in support of oil and gas and associated development.

Secretary Jewell last August visited North Dakota’s Bakken Region to inspect new technologies being employed by some companies in the region to capture and reduce natural gas and methane emissions. Jewell in January also met with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and representatives from the oil and gas industry, non-government organizations, and Colorado officials in a roundtable discussion regarding efforts to reduce methane emissions during the production, storage and transportation of oil and gas.

Source: doi.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:17:51 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58514-interior-secretary-jewell-visits-new-mexico-s-permian-basin-to-discuss-efforts-to-reduce-methane-on-public-lands.html
Ahead of Obama Visit, Doctors Without Borders Warns US Pressure on India Could Impact Access to Medicines for Millions http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58513-ahead-of-obama-visit-doctors-without-borders-warns-us-pressure-on-india-could-impact-access-to-medicines-for-millions.html NEW DELHI—(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  Ahead of US president Obama’s visit to India, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expressed deep concern over the US government’s heightened efforts  to undermine access to affordable medicines from India—often called the "pharmacy of the developing world." Millions of people across the globe rely on Indian low-cost generics, just as MSF relies on these to carry out its medical work.

The US has been scaling up pressure on India and increasing visits to the country over the last several months in order to aggressively campaign against India’s patent law. The country’s law sets a high bar for what merits a patent in an effort to prevent abusive pharmaceutical patenting practices, such as "evergreening," which put profit over public health by blocking production of more affordable generics. The US is pushing for India to adopt intellectual property (IP) measures similar to those common in the US and EU, which would ultimately result in unaffordable medicine prices for both India and the countries that rely on affordable medicines made in India.

“The alarm bells should be going off for the new Indian government,” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, executive director of MSF’s Access Campaign. “The US is pushing India to play by its rules on intellectual property, which we know will lead to medicines being priced out of reach for millions of people.”

US pressure already appears to be having an impact: the new Indian government has been delaying a decision to allow generic production of an exorbitantly priced patented anti-cancer medicine that is unaffordable in the country—an action recommended by a Health Ministry expert committee to increase access to affordable versions. A "compulsory licence" issued by the Patent Controller in 2012 for an unaffordable cancer drug brought its price down by 97 percent almost instantly.

Click Here to Read the Briefing Document: PERSISTENT US ATTACKS ON INDIA’S PATENT LAW & GENERIC COMPETITION

Also in response to US pressure, the Indian Commerce Minister in November set up a high-level "think tank" to draft national IP policy. The first draft of the policy recently released is alarming. It emphasizes patent monopolies as the key driver of innovation, when such claims have been refuted by numerous studies and experts at the World Health Organization, which have found IP in fact to be a barrier to both access to affordable medicines and innovation for medicines desperately needed by developing countries for diseases such as tuberculosis.

“We need the Indian government to pay very careful attention to what the US is up to right now,” said Rohit Malpani, director of policy and analysis for MSF’s Access Campaign. “India has been a leader in promoting access to affordable medicines and new innovation models, but this could all unravel very fast if the Indian government caves in to US pressure. The think tank so far seems to be singing to Big Pharma’s tune of undermining global efforts to finally overhaul today’s system of how medicines are developed and priced.”

At the same time, the Obama visit comes in the wake of a critical decision by India’s Patent Controller to deny a patent to pharmaceutical company Gilead for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir—an example of how important India’s law is to encouraging price-lowering generic competition. The drug is priced in the US at US $84,000 for a three-month treatment course ($1,000 per pill), though studies estimate its production for a three-month course could cost as little as $101 (about $1 per pill). The UK’s National Health Service is delaying introduction of the drug because of its cost, and protests have erupted in Spain over the drug’s rationing as a result of its price.

Unsurprisingly, discontent is already being expressed, and the patent rejection is likely to be brought up by US officials accompanying President Obama.  

“India’s decision to reject the patent for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir could unleash fierce competition among Indian companies to launch affordable versions of the life saving drug this year," said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Manager of MSF’s Access Campaign. "Let the exorbitant prices being charged for this hepatitis C drug in many countries serve as a cautionary tale to India—this is what could happen here if the US succeeds and gets India to change its policies. India now faces a challenge: future access to essential medicines for millions of people will depend on the new Indian government’s decisions and the kind of patent and innovation system it endorses."

Source: www.doctorswithoutborders.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:15:10 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58513-ahead-of-obama-visit-doctors-without-borders-warns-us-pressure-on-india-could-impact-access-to-medicines-for-millions.html
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Annual Union Membership Report http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/58512-statement-by-afl-cio-president-richard-trumka-on-the-bureau-of-labor-statistics-annual-union-membership-report.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  Today’s release of the annual union membership numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in this economic recovery, people are either seeking out good union jobs or taking matters into their own hands by forming unions to raise wages and ensure that new jobs are good jobs.

In 2014, workers made great strides and confronted great challenges, including major organizing wins at American Airlines, multiple state legislative victories on the minimum wage and innovative campaigns conducted by carwash workers, among others. We recognize, however, that right-wing billionaires’ extremist politics, a rapacious Wall Street and insufficient advocacy from political leaders thwarted further progress.

In the State of the Union this week, President Obama celebrated the fact that our economy has benefitted from 58 consecutive months of job growth and reiterated the need for laws that strengthen unions and give workers a voice. But the most important question is not simply how many jobs we’re creating, but are we creating jobs that raise wages for all? A strong recovery must be built on family-sustaining, not poverty-level jobs. Today’s news confirms what most of us already knew: workers are finding good union jobs despite political ideologues -- and jobs are coming back as the economy slowly rebounds, but neither are nearly enough.

Key trends include:

Union density edged up for workers 16 to 24 from 4.2 to 4.5%

Public sector union density growth largely due to women

Union density growth in Leisure and Hospitality

Union membership increased among Latino men

Largest growth, 1.8% among Asian American women

Union membership increased for Black women and men

Black men and women remain the groups with the highest union density

Noteworthy 2014 Worker Wins

More than 92,000 workers chose to join AFSCME, including 20,000 home health care workers who were recently the target of Harris v Quinn. This was double AFSCME’s organizing goal for the year.

14,500 customer service agents who work for American Airlines voted for union representation with CWA after the merger with US Airways. This victory was especially significant for 9,000 former American Airlines agents who have been part of a 19-year long organizing effort.

Workers at an Alabama Copper parts plant voted to organize as members of the United Steelworkers despite extensive political intimidation and efforts by Governor Robert Bentley to dissuade workers from unionizing.

Mechanics, technicians, and maintenance personnel at the Red River Army Depot near Texarkana, TX successfully organized into the IAM.  This victory follows successful campaigns by workers earlier in the year where 925 employees joined the union at the Corpus Christi Army Depot in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Nurses and hospital workers voted to form unions at two hospitals in Connecticut. The workers, who will be represented by AFT Connecticut, had to overcome attempts by hospital administrators to intimidate the workers.

Source: www.aflcio.org

Related Article:

Union Membership Rate in 2014 is 11.1 Percent, Down From 11.3 Percent in 2013

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:07:36 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/commentary/58512-statement-by-afl-cio-president-richard-trumka-on-the-bureau-of-labor-statistics-annual-union-membership-report.html
American Academy of Pediatrics Urges Parents to Vaccinate Children to Protect Against Measles http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58507-american-academy-of-pediatrics-urges-parents-to-vaccinate-children-to-protect-against-measles.html Elk Grove Village, IL—(ENEWSPF)—January 23, 2015. A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California – and has grown to more than 50 confirmed cases in multiple states – is a stark reminder of our nation's responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and its 62,000 member pediatricians urges parents, schools and communities to commit to protecting our nation's infants, children, adolescents and adults with the most effective tool we have – vaccination. 

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease that spreads easily through the air or on infected surfaces. It causes rash, high fever, cough, runny nose and red watery eyes; people who are infected with measles can spread the virus up to four days before they develop symptoms. In rare cases it can cause encephalitis that can lead to deafness or mental retardation. Of every 1,000 people who get measles, 1 to 2 will die.

"A family vacation to an amusement park – or a trip to the grocery store, a football game or school – should not result in children becoming sickened by an almost 100 percent preventable disease," said AAP Executive Director/CEO Errol R. Alden, MD, FAAP. "We are fortunate to have an incredibly effective tool that can prevent our children from suffering. That is so rare in medicine.

"Vaccines are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children from very real diseases that exist in our world," Dr. Alden said. "The measles vaccine is safe and effective. The AAP urges parents to have their children immunized against measles, as well as other infectious diseases, and to talk with their child's pediatrician if they have questions about any of their child's recommended vaccines,"

The AAP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at age 12-15 months, and again at 4-6 years. High immunization rates in a community will protect those who cannot be vaccinated, including infants under 12 months of age. These infants are at the highest risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death due to measles.

"Measles virus is one of the most contagious viruses in humans," said Yvonne Maldonado, MD, FAAP, vice chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. "Delaying vaccination leaves children vulnerable to measles when it is most dangerous to their development, and it also affects the entire community. We see measles spreading most rapidly in communities with higher rates of delayed or missed vaccinations. Declining vaccination for your child puts other children at risk, including infants who are too young to be vaccinated, and children who are especially vulnerable due to certain medications they're taking."

More information about MMR vaccine is available at http://www2.aap.org/immunization/ and www.HealthyChildren.org.  

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.

Source: www.aap.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:48:33 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/58507-american-academy-of-pediatrics-urges-parents-to-vaccinate-children-to-protect-against-measles.html
Energy Department Creates Jobs Strategy Council to Focus on Job Growth in Energy Economy http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58506-energy-department-creates-jobs-strategy-council-to-focus-on-job-growth-in-energy-economy.html WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)—January 23, 2015. Today, Secretary Moniz announced the creation of the Jobs Strategy Council (JSC), an initiative focused on accelerating job growth in American-made clean energy sources while implementing the President’s Climate Action Plan, during a roundtable with the business leaders of Energy Intensive, Trade Exposed industries and their unions, the United Steelworkers, the United Autoworkers, the Machinists, the IUE-CWA, and the AFL-CIO. Building on the President’s effort laid out in the State of the Union to empower working Americans with the education and training they need to earn higher wages and to encourage businesses to decide to innovate and create good, high-paying jobs, the Council will integrate the research, technical and economic resources of the Energy Department to respond to the workforce and economic development needs of the energy industry.

 “The energy sector has created tens of thousands of good-paying jobs that lay the foundation for long-term careers and provide a major opportunity for social mobility in disadvantaged communities,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Technological advances in oil and gas extraction, the doubling of renewable energy production in five years, and steady growth in energy efficiency are instrumental for America’s economic recovery and will continue to be imperative to supporting innovation for our 21st century energy system.”

Continued growth in energy production is expected to produce 2.4 million STEM jobs in the next three years. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the jobs created in STEM fields paid, on average, between 160 to more than 300 percent more than the U.S. average. This growth can be seen across the energy sector:

Solar: According to the Solar Foundation, as of 2014, there were nearly 174,000 jobs in the solar industry. That represents 86 percent employment growth since 2010.

Manufacturing: After a decade of decline, American manufacturing is coming back, adding 786,000 new jobs since February 2010.

Wind: According to AWEA, an estimated 85,000 Americans are currently employed in the wind power industry and related fields.

Oil and Gas: As reported by the Energy Information Administration, between 2003 and 2012, employment in the oil and gas industry increased by 92 percent

Increased demand for STEM jobs and an aging energy workforce throughout many energy sectors has created a skills gap that the Jobs Strategy Council will work to address through partnerships with the private sector, community college systems, union apprenticeship programs, and other educational institutions, building upon the groundwork set forth in President Obama’s Ready to Work job training strategy. The Council will also assist the private sector, municipalities and states with the development of a resource tool kit and workshop materials that instruct states on how to access the Department’s technical knowledge and funding opportunities to create state-based energy jobs plans.

Working with industry partners and other federal agencies the Council will develop a methodology for providing consistent, usable data measuring energy job growth to take advantage of economic opportunities and more clearly align work force development systems with energy industry skills’ needs.

The Council consists of members from 20 offices within the Department of Energy, including representatives from the Department’s National Laboratories.  It will also work directly on interagency partnerships with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Defense, Commerce, Agriculture, and Veterans Affairs.  The Council will meet quarterly and is chaired by The Secretary of Energy.

Source: energy.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:45:18 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58506-energy-department-creates-jobs-strategy-council-to-focus-on-job-growth-in-energy-economy.html
Obama Administration Urged to Fast-track Airplane Carbon Cuts http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58500-obama-administration-urged-to-fast-track-airplane-carbon-cuts.html Six national environmental organizations today called on the EPA and FAA to move quickly to set emission standards to curb greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s aircraft fleet.

Aircraft are one of the fastest-growing carbon emissions sources, on track to triple by 2050 without regulations.

Aircraft are one of the fastest-growing carbon emissions sources, on track to triple by 2050 without regulations. Dramatic aviation emission reductions are readily achievable. Photo courtesy of Angelo DeSantis
Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  Six national environmental organizations yesterday called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to move quickly to set emission standards to curb greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s aircraft fleet.

In letters to the EPA and the FAA, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, the National Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and the Sierra Club asked for strong standards that reduce aircraft emissions as quickly as possible. The letters urge the EPA to act under the Clean Air Act “with the goal of proposing final standards no later than the end of 2015.”

In May the EPA will issue a proposed determination of whether aircraft carbon pollution endangers public health or welfare. Today’s letter asks agency officials to simultaneously start analyzing how to make airplanes less polluting. Unless the EPA takes that second step quickly, regulations could be delayed for years.

“The Obama administration needs to finally hold the airline industry accountable for its massive greenhouse gas emissions,” said Vera Pardee, a senior attorney with the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “The EPA has delayed action for years, and our climate is paying the price. It’s time for federal officials to give this rapidly growing source of planet-warming pollution the attention it requires.”

Aircraft are one of the fastest-growing carbon emissions sources, on track to triple by 2050 without regulations. Dramatic aviation emission reductions are readily achievable, a recent International Council on Clean Transportation report shows. Despite the airline industry’s claim that fuel costs already force them to operate as efficiently as possible, the report found a 27 percent gap between the most and least fuel-efficient airlines serving America’s domestic market. 

In 2010, the Center, Friends of the Earth, and other environmental organizations represented by Earthjustice sued to force EPA to set standards on greenhouse gas pollution from aircraft. A judge quickly ruled that the EPA is required to address aircraft emissions under the Clean Air Act. After further delay by the EPA, the groups threatened in 2014 to file a new lawsuit, which finally prompted the agency to launch the first step in its rulemaking process. 

“Airplanes are critical to today’s global economy, and in order to combat climate disruption we need robust performance regulations for the sector,” said Friends of the Earth policy analyst John Kaltenstein. “The Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Aviation Administration must hold all modes of transportation, including the aviation industry, to the highest pollution standards so that we may curb these substantial emissions.”

"Emissions from commercial aircraft are expected to soar in coming decades, so now is the time for the Environmental Protection Agency to set strong standards to ensure our aircraft are more efficient and pump out less carbon pollution,” said Jesse Prentice-Dunn, a campaign representative with the Sierra Club. “The Obama administration has already set historic standards that will double the efficiency of our passenger cars and put new technology to work on freight trucks, all while spurring innovation and saving consumers money at the pump. Strong standards for commercial aircraft can bring those same benefits to a new sector of our economy while using less oil and emitting less carbon pollution than ever before."

Read letter to the EPA supporting strong standards to curb greenhouse has pollution.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.

Source: www.earthjustice.org

 

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:21:14 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58500-obama-administration-urged-to-fast-track-airplane-carbon-cuts.html
Union Membership Rate in 2014 is 11.1 Percent, Down From 11.3 Percent in 2013 http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/58499-union-membership-rate-in-2014-is-11-1-percent-down-from-11-3-percent-in-2013.html Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—January 23, 2015. In 2014, the union membership rate--the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions--was 11.1 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.6 million, was little different from 2013. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers.

The data on union membership are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that obtains information on employment and unemployment among the nation's civilian noninstitutional population age 16 and over. For more information, see the Technical Note.

Highlights from the 2014 data:

Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.7 percent), more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.6 percent). (See table 3.)

Workers in education, training, and library occupations and in protective service occupations had the highest unionization rate, at 35.3 percent for occupation group. (See table 3.)

Men had a higher union membership rate (11.7 percent) than women (10.5 percent) in 2014. (See table 1.)

Black workers were more likely to be union members than were white, Asian, or Hispanic workers. (See table 1.)

Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($763) were 79 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($970). (The comparisons of earnings in this release are on a broad level and do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences.) (See table 2.)

Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.6 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (1.9 percent). (See table 5.)

Industry and Occupation of Union Members

In 2014, 7.2 million employees in the public sector belonged to a union, compared with 7.4 million workers in the private sector. The union membership rate for public-sector workers (35.7 percent) was substantially higher than the rate for private-sector workers (6.6 percent). Within the public sector, the union membership rate was highest for local government (41.9 percent), which includes employees in heavily unionized occupations, such as teachers, police officers, and firefighters. In the private sector, industries with high unionization rates included utilities (22.3 percent), transportation and warehousing (19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.8 percent), and construction (13.9 percent). Low unionization rates occurred in agriculture and related industries (1.1 percent), finance (1.3 percent), professional and technical services (1.4 percent), and food services and drinking places (1.4 percent). (See table 3.)

Among occupational groups, the highest unionization rates in 2014 were in education, training, and library occupations and protective service occupations (35.3 percent each). The lowest unionization rates were in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (2.5 percent) and sales and related occupations (3.1 percent). (See table 3.)

Selected Characteristics of Union Members

The union membership rate was higher for men (11.7 percent) than for women (10.5 percent) in 2014. (See table 1.) The gap between their rates has narrowed considerably since 1983, when rates for men and women were 24.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.

Among major race and ethnicity groups, black workers had a higher union membership rate in 2014 (13.2 percent) than workers who were white (10.8 percent), Asian (10.4 percent), or Hispanic (9.2 percent).

By age, the union membership rate was highest among workers ages 45 to 64--13.8 percent for those ages 45 to 54 and 14.1 percent for those ages 55 to 64.

The union membership rate was 12.3 percent for full-time workers, more than twice the rate for part-time workers, 5.8 percent.

Union Representation

In 2014, 16.2 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group includes both union members (14.6 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million). (See table 1.)

Earnings

In 2014, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $970, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $763. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement, this earnings difference reflects a variety of influences, including variations in the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry, age, firm size, or geographic region. (See tables 2 and 4.)

Union Membership by State

In 2014, 30 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below that of the U.S. average, 11.1 percent, 19 states had rates above it, and 1 state had a rate equal to that of the nation. All states in the East South Central and West South Central divisions had union membership rates below the national average, and all states in the Middle Atlantic and Pacific divisions had rates above it. Union membership rates declined over the year in 27 states and the District of Columbia, rose in 18 states, and were unchanged in 5 states. (See table 5.)

Nine states had union membership rates below 5.0 percent in 2014, with North Carolina having the lowest rate (1.9 percent). The next lowest rates were in South Carolina (2.2 percent) and Mississippi and Utah (3.7 percent each). Three states had union membership rates over 20.0 percent in 2014: New York (24.6 percent), Alaska (22.8 percent), and Hawaii (21.8 percent). (See chart 1.)

State union membership levels depend on both the employment level and the union membership rate. The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.5 million) and New York (2.0 million). Over half of the 14.6 million union members in the U.S. lived in just seven states (California, 2.5 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.8 million; Pennsylvania, 0.7 million; and Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio, 0.6 million each), though these states accounted for only about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.

Related Material:

Union Members Technical Note

Table 1. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by selected characteristics

Table 2. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation and selected characteristics

Table 3. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry

Table 4. Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by union affiliation, occupation, and industry

Table 5. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state

Access to historical data for the tables of the Union Membership News Release

Statement by US Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez on the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Union Membership Report

Source: www.bls.gov, www.dol.gov

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:17:16 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/58499-union-membership-rate-in-2014-is-11-1-percent-down-from-11-3-percent-in-2013.html
Center for American Progress Report Calls for Egypt and the United States to Make a Major Course Correction in Bilateral Relations http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/58498-center-for-american-progress-report-calls-for-egypt-and-the-united-states-to-make-a-major-course-correction-in-bilateral-relations.html Washington, D.C. —(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  Four years after Egypt’s revolution, the region’s most populous country represents a central test in the broader battle for stability and progress in the Middle East. The bilateral relationship between the United States and Egypt has drifted apart. The two countries should use the proposed strategic dialogue this year to reflect on the lessons learned from the past four years of transitions in Egypt and to apply those lessons to broaden relations, says a report released today by the Center for American Progress.

“At a time when Iran nuclear negotiations and the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham have dominated U.S. Middle East policy, Egypt should remain a top priority. But both the United States and Egypt cannot afford simply to go back to the old way of doing business,” said Brian Katulis, CAP Senior Fellow. “The two countries should work together to establish a broader framework for cooperation on the economic, political, and security fronts that more effectively addresses the roots of instability and extremism.”

Based on field research in Egypt, the report analyzes the recent security, political, and economic trends in the country. “The challenges of violent extremism in Egypt today require a balanced and sophisticated approach—one that modernizes Egypt’s security institutions but also links reforms to a more positive path for political and economic reforms,” said Mokhtar Awad, Research Associate with the National Security and International Policy team at CAP. “The current environment in Egypt is helping breed a new generation of jihadists and extremists.”

Among the recommendations made in the report are:

Comprehensive security-sector reform to help Egypt meet the evolving threat of militant terrorist groups

An open dialogue to counter violent extremism with political and economic reforms focused on pluralism and basic rights

A new framework for economic reform that helps transition Egypt’s economy away from decades of donor dependency and crony capitalism

The report was released at an event hosted by CAP and The Century Foundation. The event featured a keynote address by retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis—former commander of the U.S. Central Command—and two panels of experts discussing the future of the nation four years after its revolution.

Click here to read the report.

Source: www.americanprogress.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:08:12 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/opinion/analysis/58498-center-for-american-progress-report-calls-for-egypt-and-the-united-states-to-make-a-major-course-correction-in-bilateral-relations.html
California Plan Violates Protections from Pesticide Spraying, According to Lawsuit http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58497-california-plan-violates-protections-from-pesticide-spraying-according-to-lawsuit.html Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  Pesticide-centered Program Approved Despite 30,000 Opposition Letters. Eleven groups, including Beyond Pesticides and the City of Berkeley, sued the California Department of Food and Agriculture yesterday over the agency’s approval of a statewide “pest management” plan that allows pesticide spraying on schools, organic farms and residential yards, including aerial spraying over homes in rural areas. California regulators approved the program despite tens of thousands of public comment letters calling for a less toxic approach that would cdfaprotect the vitality and resilience of the state’s food system and the economic interests of organic farmers.

“Environmental review laws are there to prevent abuses,” says Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides, “Agencies cannot make unilateral decisions to ignore mandatory health and environmental safety standards.”

“The state offers no evidence to support its conclusion that this pesticide-centered program will have no effect on our health,” said Debbie Friedman, cofounder of MOMS Advocating Sustainability. “As a parent, I am particularly disturbed that health risks of pesticide residues for children aged two and under are dismissed based on the absurd reasoning that infants spend most of their time indoors.”

The approved program allows the state to use, without any additional environmental review, 79 pesticides that cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm and are also highly toxic to bees, butterflies, fish and birds. Pesticides used in the program include chlorpyrifos, which is banned in Europe and a recent U.S. EPA study found poses hazards to workers and drinking water; the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, which is highly toxic to bees; the deadly, ozone-depleting fumigant methyl bromide, which is being phased out because of an international treaty; and chloropicrin, which causes genetic damage. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation last week announced strict new standards for chloropicrin because of the threat is poses to public health.

“This program puts people and some of California’s most imperiled species, like salmon and tiger salamanders, directly in harm’s way from dangerous pesticides,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s frightening that the state would spray these toxic chemicals throughout California without fully analyzing their effects or telling the public of the consequences.”

The plan, approved Dec. 24 as part of the Statewide Plant Pest Prevention and Management Environmental Impact Report, allows these dangerous chemicals to be used anywhere in the state, any time into the indefinite future, without an option for affected communities to stop the spray. The state can also approve new pesticide treatments and treatment sites behind closed doors without public scrutiny or notice.

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda Superior Court, outlines numerous ways the spray plan violates state environmental laws, including failure to notify the public of future pesticide spraying and failure to analyze the impacts of the pesticides on human and environmental health, including harm to infants and contamination of drinking water.

“What will it take to make the state accountable to the tens of thousands of individuals who wrote comment letters asking the state to adopt a modern, sustainable pest management approach that would ensure that food and nursery plants are not contaminated by pesticides?” said Nan Wishner, board member of the California Environmental Health Initiative.

“Municipal drinking water sources that are already contaminated with pesticides would be further degraded by this pesticide program. How can the department realistically claim that pesticides sprayed under this program will never reach any of those bodies of water?” said attorney Jason Flanders of ATA Law Group.

The suit was brought by Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Working Group, California Environmental Health Initiative, MOMS Advocating Sustainability, Center for Food Safety, City of Berkeley, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Environmental Health, Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, Beyond Pesticides, Californians for Pesticide Reform, and Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment. The plaintiffs are represented by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, and Hampton, along with ATA Law Group.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: www.beyondpesticides.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:05:20 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58497-california-plan-violates-protections-from-pesticide-spraying-according-to-lawsuit.html
Petition Seeks 3 Million Acres of Critical Habitat for 9 Endangered Species Found From Maine to North Carolina, West to Illinois http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58496-petition-seeks-3-million-acres-of-critical-habitat-for-9-endangered-species-found-from-maine-to-north-carolina-west-to-illinois.html 9 Animals Are Among Hundreds Wrongly Denied Habitat Protection Since 1978

WASHINGTON --(ENEWSPF)--January 23, 2015.  The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to designate critical habitat for nine endangered species that are among more than 600 federally protected species illegally denied specific habitat protections since 1978. The nine species, found from Maine to North Carolina and west to Illinois, include the roseate tern, Shenandoah salamander, Roanoke logperch, Hay’s spring amphipod, two tiger beetle species and three species of freshwater mussels. The petition requests that the Service designate as much as 3.2 million acres for the nine species, all of which continue to suffer substantial declines related to loss of habitat.

“You can’t save plants and animals without saving the places they live,” said Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director at the Center. “Despite the fact that species with critical habitat are twice as likely to be recovering as those without it, the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to designate critical habitat for hundreds of listed species.”

The Service’s failure to designate critical habitat for more than 600 federally protected species is in direct violation of the Endangered Species Act and several court rulings upholding that all endangered species should receive designated areas of protected habitat. Today's petition seeks critical habitat protection for just a fraction of these, focusing on nine species in dire need of habitat-based protections to survive. Overall these nine species have been waiting for critical habitat for an average of 25 years.

The Endangered Species Act prohibits federal agencies from adversely modifying critical habitat in actions they fund, permit or carry out and requires conservation measures to mitigate actions that might harm those habitats. All nine of the species are declining because of threats to their habitat — threats that may have been addressed had critical habitat been designated earlier. For example, in 2014, more than 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River in North Carolina, contaminating over 70 miles of river habitat, including habitat for two of the species included in the petition, the Roanoke logperch and James spinymussel. The loss of this habitat makes the remaining habitat for these two species all the more important.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to designate critical habitat for these nine species and hundreds more is pushing them closer to extinction," said Hartl. "We hope the agency will correct this wrong and designate critical habitat so we can get them on the road to recovery before it's too late."

Background on the Species

The Hay’s spring amphipod is Washington, D.C.’s only endangered species and is one of the most critically endangered animals in the United States. The amphipod only lives in a few small springs in Rock Creek Park, which is completely surrounded by urban development. The hydrological dynamics that create these springs can easily be altered by even the simplest careless activities. Paving over a small part of the any remaining watersheds that feed these springs could easily destroy or degrade them.

The Roanoke logperch is a tiny fish that lives in a few river systems in Virginia. They are visual predators and hunt for prey by flipping over small pebbles at the bottom of rivers and streams with their snouts to find tiny invertebrates to eat. Logperch require clear, unpolluted water in unaltered river systems to survive.

The Shenandoah salamander is an exclusively terrestrial salamander found on three mountain ridges within Shenandoah National Park. The salamander requires very specific habitat conditions — cool and moist montane forests above 2,600 feet — that unfortunately overlap with some of the highest-use areas of the park. As a result the Shenandoah salamander is under increasing threats from the spread of invasive species, pollution, human activities as well as climate change.

The roseate tern is a beautiful seabird — breeding adults often have a pinkish-rose color wash on their undersides, a trait that made the tern a target of the millinery trade in the early 1900s. After protection under both the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act, the seabird rebounded significantly, but its population has fallen by 1,000 breeding pairs mainly due to continued habitat based threats.

True to their name, tiger beetles are ambush predators that pounce on their insect prey and kill them with their large jaws. The puritan tiger beetle and the northeastern beach tiger beetle are important invertebrate predators along river/estuary bluffs and wild beaches respectively, and their presence is an indicator of a healthy shoreline ecosystem. Unfortunately both tiger beetles are declining rapidly, and the Service has recommended uplisting both species to “endangered.”

The James spinymussel, dwarf wedgemussel, and clubshell are three species of freshwater mussels for which the Center is seeking critical habitat in this petition. Freshwater mussels are one of the most endangered group of animals in the United States, with over 88 species protected by the Endangered Species Act, and their broad decline is an indicator of degraded water quality throughout the country. The dwarf wedgemussel was once found in rivers all along the eastern seaboard, and the clubshell was once abundant in the Ohio River valley system, so much so that they were an important food source to native American tribes across the East. Freshwater mussels can live for more than 100 years and have very complex life cycles.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Source: www.commondreams.org

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shirkop4@shireweb.biz (Press Release) Fri, 23 Jan 2015 20:02:05 GMT http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/science/science-a-environmental/58496-petition-seeks-3-million-acres-of-critical-habitat-for-9-endangered-species-found-from-maine-to-north-carolina-west-to-illinois.html