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Insecticide spraying in Brazil, 2014. Photo: Malova Gobernador via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Zika, microcephaly, and pesticides: half-truths, hysteria, and vested interests

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

26th February 2016

Those who dare suggest that pesticides might be implicated in Brazil's microcephaly outbreak are being furiously attacked as irrational, nonsense-spouting 'conspiracy theorists', writes Claire Robinson. But the attackers have an uncanny ability to get their own facts in a twist. And among them are writers linked to industries with huge economic interests in the matter. more...
Chafer Sentry applying glyphosate to stubbles in North Yorkshire on a sunny December day. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

Another 15 years? EU set to relicense glyphosate

Arthur Neslen / Guardian Environment

25th February 2016

The European Commission is poised to renew the licence for glyphosate - the herbicide last year deemed ‘probably carcinogenic' by the WHO - for another 15 years. The decision follows from EFSA's contrary finding, based on secret, non peer-reviewed, industry-funded studies. more...
London's air pollution is so bad, it can be seen on occasion. Photo: David Holt via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Five ways to slash London's lethal air pollution

John Weeks

24th February 2016

Today's threats of legal action by ClientEarth against the UK Government highlight the problem of London's poisonous air, which is killing some 10,000 people a year, writes John Weeks. Fortunately there are simple, low cost, effective measures that could be taken to bring about big improvements to the city's air quality, fast. more...
Serious pollution in Stoke Newington, North London, England, 3rd April 2014. Photo: David Holt via Flickr (CC BY).

40,000 air pollution deaths a year, say doctors

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

23rd January 2016

A new report from leading physicians published today reveals the excess mortality caused by UK air pollution, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The Government has already been found in breach of the EU's Air Quality Directive, but its policies remain weak. Will it finally step up to prevent early deaths from this silent killer? more...
At least Canterbury's badgers will be safe, for now. Photo: Ian Blacker via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Shoot first, ask no questions later: more badger culling, less science

Lesley Docksey

23rd February 2016

With 29 applications for new badger culls, writes Lesley Docksey, the government still has no idea how many badgers there are in the cull areas, or how many of them have TB. Nor does it want to find out. The badger culling project is getting less scientific by the day - or should that be by the square kilometre? more...
Demonstration outside EFSA's Brussels HQ organised by Corporate Europe Observatory on 5th April 2002 marking ten years of corporate capture. Photo: Corporate Europe Observatory via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Key evidence in EU's risk assessment of glyphosate must not remain 'trade secret'

Corporate Europe Observatory

22nd February 2016

The chemical industry and the European Food Safety Authority are refusing to disclose key scientific evidence about glyphosate's risks, citing 'trade secrets' protection, writes Corporate Europe Observatory. They must be compelled to publish the 'mysterious three' scientific studies EFSA used to assess glyphosate as 'unlikely' to cause cancer to humans - contradicting the IARC's view. more...
IAEA fact-finding team leader Mike Weightman visits the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on 27 May 2011 to assess tsunami damage. Photo: Greg Webb / IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

No bliss in this ignorance: the great Fukushima nuclear cover-up

Linda Pentz Gunter

20th February 2016

The Japanese were kept in the dark from the start of the Fukushima disaster about high radiation levels and their dangers to health, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. In order to proclaim the Fukushima area 'safe', the Government increased exposure limits to twenty times the international norm. Soon, many Fukushima refugees will be forced to return home to endure damaging levels of radiation. more...
 last month announced an amendment to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act to help families in Flint, Michigan who have been exposed to lead poisoning through contaminated drinking water. But it will do nothing to put those responsible for the crisis i

Flint water crisis - will anyone be prosecuted?

Jane F. Barrett, University of Maryland

18th February 2016

Amid the growing call for those guilty of causing Flint, Michigan's water crisis to be prosecuted, Jane F. Barrett finds little prospect of criminal charges under the Safe Drinking Water Act. But federal, state and common laws offer prosecutors a range of potential charges, from malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance to involuntary manslaughter. more...
These red bananas are naturally red and high in beta carotene. So why the need to develop a patented GM banana that does the same job? Photo: Choo Yut Shing via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Gates Foundation: stop 'biopirated' GMO banana feeding trials

Vanessa Amaral-Rogers

17th February 2016

The Gates Foundation has received a 57,000 strong petition denouncing its support for a 'biopirated' GM banana program in Africa, and calling on it to suspend a feeding trial on US students, writes Vanessa Amaral-Rogers. The banana threatens both the health of the students, say campaigners, and the future of African agriculture. more...
Sand dunes and beach at Druridge Bay, Northumberland, where a huge new opencast coal mine is planned. Photo: Fiona in Eden via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

No coal, no fracking: end fossil fuel production on UK soil by 2020!

Guy Shrubsole / Friends of the Earth

16th February 2016

The government makes bold claims about tackling climate change and phasing out coal power stations, writes Guy Shrubsole. Yet it's 'relaxed' about two huge new coal mines that would produce ten million tonnes of coal, blighting landscapes and afflicting the health of vulnerable communities. It's time to say no to all onshore fossil fuel production. more...
Kaoto Kan, as prime minister of Japan, responding to the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe on live television, 14th August 2013. Image: NNK World TC via Youtube.

Fukushima PM Naoto Kan: 'if you love your country, let nuclear go!'

Linda Pentz Gunter

12th February 2016

Nuclear power is a uniquely hazardous technology that can destroy entire nations, Japan's prime minister at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster has warned British MPs. The lessons of from such catastrophes must be heeded in other countries that believe that nuclear fission can be harnessed safely, writes Linda Pentz Gunter - or they, and the world, will reap the whirlwind. more...
Beached whale in the Firth of Forth, Scotland, being removed using earth-moving equipment, September 2013. Photo: Patrick Down via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Heavy metal poisoning in Scotland's beached whales

The Ecologist

15th February 2016

High levels of toxins mercury and cadmium have been found in all organs of the whales recently beached on Scotland's North Sea coast, including the brain. The research shows that rising mercury levels in the oceans leads to toxic stress in the long-lived marine mammals. more...

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Since 2014, the insecticide Pyriproxyfen has been use to kill mosquitos in water tanks in Brazil. Water tank in Bahia state, northeast Brazil. Photo: Francois Le Minh via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Argentine and Brazilian doctors suspect mosquito insecticide as cause of microcephaly

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

10th February 2016

With the proposed connection between the Zika virus and Brazil's outbreak of microcephaly in new born babies looking increasingly tenuous, Latin American doctors are proposing another possible cause: Pyriproxyfen, a pesticide used in Brazil since 2014 to arrest the development of mosquito larvae in drinking water tanks. Might the 'cure' in fact be the poison? more...
The densely conditions in Brazil's 'favelas', like this one in São Paulo, and the need for water tanks and containers, create idea conditions for Aedes mosquitos. And as the world warms, the mosquitos' range is expanding. Photo: Fernando Stankuns via Fli

Hotter planet helping spread of Zika virus mosquitos

Nadia Pontes

10th February 2016

The Aedes mosquitos that carry the Zika virus and dengue fever are not just perfectly adapted to life in cities, writes Nadia Pontes. They are also being helped along by warming climates which increase their range. It's time to get serious about the health implications of a hotter planet. more...
Banana plantation in Cienaga, Magdalena, Colombia. Photo: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Disease may wipe out the world's bananas - unless we adopt agroecological solutions

Angelina Sanderson Bellamy, Cardiff University

7th February 2016

Bananas are at the sharp end of industrial agriculture's chemical war on pests and pathogens, writes Angelina Sanderson Bellamy. But even 60 pesticide sprays a year isn't enough to keep the diseases at bay. It's time to seek new solutions with little or no use of chemicals, working with nature, growing diverse crops on the same land - and breaking the dominance of the banana multinationals. more...
Cyclist wearing face mask to protect against polluted air. Photo: Hamish Irvine via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Time to crack down on car pollution - the silent killer with powerful friends

Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor

3rd February 2016

Air pollution from vehicles is killing tens of thousands of people every year in the UK alone, write Jean Lambert, Molly Scott Cato & Keith Taylor, an outrage set into stark focus by VW's 'test cheating'. The EU's response? To relax tests and allow cars to be more polluting - with the full support of the UK government. more...
Aedes Aegypti mosquito feeding on human blood. Photo: James Gathany via jentavery on Flickr (CC BY).

Pandora's box: how GM mosquitos could have caused Brazil's microcephaly disaster

Oliver Tickell

1st February 2016

In Brazil's microcephaly epidemic, one vital question remains unanswered: how did the Zika virus suddenly learn how to disrupt the development of human embryos? The answer may lie in a sequence of 'jumping DNA' used to engineer the virus's mosquito vector - and released into the wild four years ago in the precise area of Brazil where the microcephaly crisis is most acute. more...
Glyphosate, the 'probable carcinogen' in your shed. But wil the EU re-licence it based on EFSA's deeply flawed, pro-industry scientific assessment? Photo: Kit Reynolds via Flickr (CC BY).

EU must not re-approve glyphosate based on flawed EFSA study

Michèle Rivasi & 65 other MEPs

1st February 2016

The European Commission must not re-approve the 'probably carcinogenic' weedkiller glyphosate so long as its assessment is based on secret industry studies, actual products are not investigated, and in the absence of scientific criteria for endocrine disruption, write 66 MEPs in this Open Letter to Commissioner Andriukaitis, in charge of health and food safety. more...
Photo: Quincas Moreira via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Flint drinks lead-laden water; Republicans attack Clean Water Act

Farron Cousins / DesmogBlog.com

22nd January 2016

To save a small amount of money residents of Flint, Michigan, have been forced to consume hazardous levels of lead in their drinking water, writes Farron Cousins. Just the moment for the Republican House Speaker to attack the Clean Water Act. more...
Cell phone user in downtown Deland, Florida. Photo: austinhumphreys via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Radiating corruption? The frightening science and politics of cell phone safety

Gary Null

8th February 2016

A growing body of scientific evidence show that cell phone users suffer a range of negative health impacts from infertility and brain tumors to hyperactivity and memory loss, writes Gary Null. Yet the Center for Disease Control has taken a weak and ambiguous stance on the issue, reflecting industry interests at the expense of citizens. We deserve - and must demand - better. more...
Photo: Weiderinder.de.vu via Wikimedia (Public domain).

Disgraceful 'Honour' for failing to protect people from poisons

Georgina Downs

18th January 2016

Easy to miss in the New Year Honours list: a little-known civil servant for 'services to pesticides regulation'. But none the less shocking for that, writes Georgina Downs. Paul Hamey MBE is the very man who has been responsible for ensuring that rural residents receive no proper protection from repeated exposure to toxic mixtures of pesticides on nearby farms. Go figure. more...
The Aliso Canyon methane cloud seen in infra-red as a dark, menacing plume erupting from the breached gas well. Photo: from video (see embed) by Pete Dronkers / Environmental Defense Fund.

Aliso Canyon methane catastrophe is telling us: go renewable, now!

Pete Dronkers

14th January 2016

The massive methane leak at Aliso Canyon in California tell sus everything that's wrong with fossil fuels, writes Pete Dronkers: toxic, under-regulated, unsafe, and climate destroying. But the catastrophe also brings us a timely message: this is the time for the California, the US, and the world, to begin a rapid transition away from fossil fuels and into our clean, green, renewable future. more...
Under TTIP, this landscape of small farms interspersed with trees and woodland in the foothills of the Alps in Bavaria, Germany, might be unable to survive. Photo: Renate Dodell via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

TTIP: the downfall of European agriculture?

Dario Sarmadi / EurActiv.de

14th January 2016

The TTIP 'trade agreement between the US and the EU would devastate EU farms as it opens them up to competition from larger, less regulated US operations, writes Dario Sarmadi. This is the conclusion of a new study to be published tomorrow, which also finds that small-scale farmers would be the first to go - with the big winners the large agri-food corporations. more...
RoundUp by Monsanto. Photo: Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube via Flickr (CC BY).

EU regulator attacks IARC scientists on weedkiller safety

Arthur Neslen / Guardian Environment

13th January 2015

A fierce dispute is raging over whether glyphosate, the world's biggest weedkiller, causes cancer, writes Arthur Neslen. The row has pitched EFSA, the EU's food regulator, against 96 of the world's top medical scientists - and comes shortly before the EU is to decide on renewing glyphosate's licence. more...
How much Roundup is in your breakfast cereal? We don't know, as USDA and EPA have created a bureaucratic logjam that means the 'probably carcinogenic' herbicide is not tested for. Photo: Trish via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

USDA and EPA must come clean over Roundup residues

Carey Gillam / USRTK

12th January 2016

Each year the US Department of Agriculture manages to test for over 400 pesticides in food, writes Carey Gillam. But glyphosate, the world's biggest-selling herbicide, is not among them, even as evidence of its dangers mounts. It's time for USDA and EPA to stop their buck-passing - and give consumers their right to know. more...

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