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Thursday, 25 February 1999
Today's "Toxic News for the Net"
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"Big Schizophrenia Study Shows Environmental Role." New York Times, 25 February 99, A19. Though the best predictor of whether a person will develop schizophrenia is a family history, Danish researchers found in a large epidemiological study that people who are born in urban areas or born in the winter months, especially February and March, have a slightly greater risk of developing the illness than those born in summer months or in rural areas. Smoking increases risk as well. Still, scientists reassure that it is very difficult to pinpoint the causes of schizophrenia as any number of things could impair the normal migration of nerve cells in the brain. The study is published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Perdue to Help Farmers Dispose of Chicken Waste. Company Planning to Turn Tons of Manure Into Fertilizer and Sell It Elsewhere." Washington Post, 25 February 99, B1, B5. Perdue Farms Inc. announced a joint venture with AgriRecycle Inc. to buy as much as 120,000 tons of chicken manure from farmers on Maryland's Eastern Shore each year and turn it into fertilizer pellets to be sold in areas where it would not threaten the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. EPA regional administrator W. Michael McCabe praised the plan, but added that EPA will continue to draft rules to limit the amount of manure farmers may apply as fertilizer in areas where it could threaten vulnerable waterways.
"Glaxo Wellcome's New Flu Drug Fails To Clear FDA Panel on Trial Results." Wall Street Journal, 25 February 99, A4. Conflicting data from clinical trials of Relenza, a much- anticipated new drug that would markedly reduce flu symptoms, keep the drug unapproved by the FDA. Clinical trials in the U.S. are showing less benefit from Relenza than trials in Europe though overall tests show that taking Relenza can lessen chances of catching the flu to nearly 84%. The first in a new line of drugs called neuraminidase inhibitors, Relenza works by preventing the duplication of the flu virus. Glaxo, hoping the drug would be available by the next winter flu season, will meet with the FDA to clarify data. Similar drugs are expected to be reviewed by the FDA this year.
EDITORIAL & COMMENTARY
"Women With Implants Are Not Faking Symptoms For Cash [Letters]." New York Times, 25 February 99, A18. Ilena Rosenthal, Director of the Humantics Foundation for Women, communicates daily with thousands of women who claim they can trace their injuries or illnesses to having breast implants. In this editorial she challenges Dr. Elizabeth Connell's defense of silicone manufacturers, "Dangers of silicone are overstated, overhyped" (Forum, Feb. 7). She attacks Dr. Connell's credibility on several counts, including her association with the Dow Chemical PR company and her participation in a "campaign defaming all doctors and scientists who dare to report their findings on the damage to women's bodies and immune systems by calling them 'junk scientists'...".
ACROSS THE USA, from USA Today
"Frederick, Maryland [Across the USA]." USA Today, 24 February 9911A. Organic farms may go out of business because of a 1998 law which limits the amount of nutrient runoff from farms into waterways. Since organic farmers use animal manure and not chemical fertilizers, it is difficult for them to precisely measure the amount of nutrients in runoff, which also contains phosphorus and nitrogen.
"Sante Fe, New Mexico [Across the USA]." USA Today, 24 February 99, 11A. The U.S. Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has filed for a waste permit and should know by June or July if it is approved. Public hearings are anticipated although the DOE contends that a permit for hazardous waste is not necessary since the plant's radioactive waste is regulated by the U.S. EPA, which has already certified WIPP.
"Oklahoma City, Oklahoma [Across the USA]." USA Today, 24 February 99, 11A. The U.S. EPA has details about last year's 18,000-gallon spill of hog waste from a Pig Improvement Co. farm onto a field. Attorney General Drew Edmondson went to court to get the information. He contends that the groundwater in the area could be affected and the landowners have rights to this information.
"U.S. and Allies Block Treaty On Genetically Altered Goods." New York Times, 25 February 99, A1, C4. Delegates agreed to resume talks by May 2000 regarding a global treaty to regulate the trade of genetically modified plants, seeds and other organisms. Negotiations were suspended due to a disagreement over whether or not agricultural commodities like soybeans, corn and cotton, which account for 25 to 45 percent of the U.S.'s genetically modified crops, should require advance approval from importing countries. While the U.S., allied with Canada, Australia, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, believe agricultural commodities should be exempt from the treaty to prevent the blocking or stalling of profits from farm exports, 130 other nations are angered by this prioritization, believing potential risks to the environment should come first, meaning no exemptions.
TOXICS IN THE NEWS: RADIOACTIVE WASTE
"Agency Plans Offer to Take Atomic Waste." New York Times, 25 February 99, A19. "U.S. to Offer Nuclear Waste Plan. Pending Permanent Dump, Government Would Own Spent Fuel." Washington Post, 25 February 99, A2. The permanent repository for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas, will not be open until 2010. Until then, the Energy Department plans to claim ownership to reactors and finance their temporary storage. The Energy Department has been unable to begin accepting waste in 1998, as contracted with several utilities, who have been funding this promise since 1982 and are now suing the department for breach of contract. Energy Secretary, Bill Richardson, says he will propose to the Senate committee today that the Energy Department "take title'" of the waste held by utilities and finance continued storage. This initiative is expected to prompt negotiations with utilities.
"Rampaging Rustics! [OP-ED]." New York Times, 25 February 99, A27. In a tongue-in-cheek piece, freelance writer David Ivins expresses alarm of the threat of "rural sprawl." "Rural sprawl began quietly with the infiltration in ever-increasing numbers, of wildlife -- squirrels, rabbits, songbirds and other small, cuddly, apparently innocuous creatures -- into our suburbs and the fringes of our major cities. Now it seems that these small animals were only the advance guard of a cunningly planned invasion that also includes deer, coyotes, beavers, mountain lions, bears and other despoilers of our cherished suburban and urban habitats. Areas that otherwise would be given over to job creation and highly profitable logging, strip mining and oil drilling are being expropriated by wild animals, which are inherently valueless since they contribute nothing to our economy. Once these beasts establish themselves, shielded by hellbent wildlife-protection groups and misguided politicians from Al Gore to Christie Todd Whitman, they can never be dislodged."
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