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"Junk science" is bad science used to further a special agenda, such as personal injury lawyers extorting deep-pocket businesses; the "food police," environmental Chicken Littles and gun-control extremists advocating wacky social programs; overzealous regulators expanding bureaucratic power/budgets; cut-throat businesses attacking competitors; unethical businesses making bogus product claims; slick politicians; and wannabe scientists seeking fame and fortune.

REPORT OF THE DAY: Index of leading environmental indicators (4/28/99) The Pacific Research Institute questions whether the increasing cost of pollution control is worth the shrinking benefits realized. Click here for the fact sheet. Click here for the full report.

"Put cigarettes on prescription" (4/28/99) The BBC reports "Cigarettes should be treated like pharmaceuticals and be available only on prescription, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said."

"Group's Surprising Beef With Meat Industry; Study ranks production of beef, poultry and pork as second to automobiles in ecological cost " (4/28/99) The San Francisco Chronicle reports "Environmentally speaking, the worst thing you can do for the planet is drive your sport utility vehicle to the local steak house for a prime sirloin. That, at least, is the contention of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental advocacy group that has just completed a new analysis of the ecological costs of various activities and products."

"Doctors have 'misunderstood' asthma " (4/28/99) Instead of spending tens of billions of dollars annually to comply with the EPA's new air quality standards -- regulations that will probably have little-to-no effect on asthma incidence -- why not spend public resources on research that will lead to improved treatments and perhaps a cure?

University of Buffalo allows dentist to put out media release on lawn chemicals (4/28/99) A response to Lawn Doctor?

"7 Groups Quit Food Panel; EPA Termed Soft On Pesticide Risks" (4/28/99) The Washington Post reports "All of the environmental, consumer and public interest members of the federal government's food quality advisory panel resigned in protest yesterday, accusing the Clinton administration of allowing the agriculture and chemical industries to "hijack" a 1996 law aimed at protecting children from toxic pesticides."

"U.S. Senators Unveil Alternative To Climate Treaty" (4/28/99) Only in America do you need a law to implement a voluntary program. This bill would also create an Office of Global Climate Change within the Department of Energy -- located right down the hall from the Office of Ghosts and Gobblins.

"Pollutants Found In House Dust Increase Pesticide's Toxicity" (4/28/99) With no supporting real-world health effects data, this is just laboratory nonsense.

"Boost for Gulf War Syndrome research" (4/28/99) The BBC reports "The UK and US are to share more information on Gulf War Syndrome to further understanding of the mysterious illnesses suffered by many servicemen since the 1991 conflict."

"Wealth warning over heart disease" (4/28/99) The BBC reports "Incidence of coronary heart disease is falling among the better off but rising among poorer people, a study has found."

"Where the Boys Are: Sex Ratios and Environment" (4/27/99) Mike Gough writes in Regulation Magazine about sex ratios and endocrine disrupters. [Note: This document is in PDF format.]

Rad-berries? (4/27/99) The Associated Press reports "Health inspectors in Moscow markets have found radioactive cranberries, apparently infected by lingering fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, a newspaper reported Tuesday."

"Fertility drugs not linked to increased cancer risk " (4/27/99) Reuters reports "Contradicting previous studies, a new study from Israel found no link between fertility drugs and an increased risk of ovarian and breast cancer."

A MUST READ: "Lies, Damned Lies & 400,000 Smoking-Related Deaths" (4/27/99) By Robert Levy (senior fellow, Cato Institute) and Rosalind Marimont (mathematician, retired from the National Institute of Standards and Technology). [Note: This document is in PDF format.]

"GM regulation on horizon" (4/27/99) The BBC reports "Genetically-modified (GM) food may be subject to new regulations, the government has revealed."

JUNK OF THE DAY: "Radon more damaging to genes than thought, study says" (4/27/99) This study exposed hamster cells to three to eight alpha particle "hits." Unfortunately for these researchers and this headline, the average homeowner rarely experiences more than one hit during a lifetime. A recent Columbia University study reported that one hit had no effect on mouse cells -- not to mention the radon epidemiology does not bear out any risk from low-level exposures.

"Economics and environmentalism" (4/27/99) Mitzi Perdue thinks environmentalists and economists are a good match. In one way she's right -- both are usually wrong.

"Health benefits of low-sulfur gasoline outweigh costs, study reveals" (4/27/99) You will remember study author George Thurston from the 1997 clean air battles and, more recently, his opposition to the data access law. Thurston is a thoroughbred junk scientist who fears having his results independently reviewed. I have no doubt that Thurston has wildly overestimated the health benefits. Note that this study was presented at the American Lung Association's annual conference in San Diego -- probably without being independently peer-reviewed.

"Regulators, Rocketdyne Ties Probed" (4/27/99) The Los Angeles Times reports "State health officials said they did not release the findings because they believed that the study's methodology was flawed and did not consider other factors such as smoking. In addition, the study did not find evidence of any red-flag illnesses such as leukemia, which would have alerted officials to possible contamination."

"Delivering science to the public" (4/26/99) Nature Medicine editorializes, "Scientists must resist the temptation of hyperbole, as attention-grabbing as it may be, and find a more meaningful way of getting across their excitement and pleasure in the latest findings. They must also be willing to discuss more openly with the media times of disagreement and dispute, as these will always be part of an adventurous and healthy scientific community. The media have a tremendous influence on how the public sees science and, in turn, on science policy, as there are policy makers the world over who react most strongly to public sentiment. Closer cooperation between researchers, editors and journalists is needed to present a more articulate, accurate and deeper understanding of science." [Note: You will need to register (FREE) at the Nature Medicine site to read the full article.]

"Eat your genes: how safe are GM crops?" (4/26/99) The cover story in this week's Nature.

"The Week That Was April 19-25, 1999" (4/26/99) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Bookmark update: Address change for Philip Stott's Tropical Ecology Web Site (4/26/99) The new address is www.ecotrop.org. Get the "antidote to false ecology!"

"Ottawa knew toy with plastic softener posed very little risk; Vinyl industry monitored Greenpeace drive against use of material, documents show" (4/26/99) "Health Canada issued an advisory last year recommending that parents throw away vinyl toys containing a controversial plastic softener even though it conducted a risk assessment that found almost no children would be hurt by exposure to the material, documents obtained by The Globe and Mail indicate."

"Abbott Shreholders vote down bid to phase out use of a plastic" (4/26/99) Three cheers for Abbott Labs' management and shareholders!

"Well-Done Research: New recipes for making seriously browned meats less of a cancer risk" (4/26/99) Science News' Janet Raloff writes ANOTHER dumb article. The studies that do claim well-done meat causes cancer are generally pretty easy to debunk. Click here for an example.

'Plant pesticides;' What's in a name? (4/26/99) EPA is soliciting comment on a request to substitute an alternative name for the term "plant-pesticide." You can e-mail your suggestion to opp-docket@epa.gov. Don't forget to include the docket control number OPP-300369A.

"Power-Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields and Risk of Childhood Leukemia in Canada" (4/26/99) A study in the May 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiolgy reports "little support for a relation between power-frequency electric and magnetic field exposure and risk of childhood leukemia."

"And yet, the Earth is getting greener" (4/26/99) The Daily Telegraph comments "Despite what environmentalists claim, it is largely market economics, not regulation, that improved the environment."

Bruce Ames wins National Medal of Science (4/26/99) Congratulations Bruce!

"Young and Rubenesque? The good news is..." (4/26/99) From Science News (Apr 24.): "Young women tend to be very self-conscious about their figure, especially because so few are blessed with both the genes and willpower to achieve the svelte Uma Thurman look. Indeed, many find their shape evolving instead towards a modified Rosanne Barr physique. As these latter women wrestle with self-esteem issues within a society that prizes sleek over ample, they can take heart in at least one new study. It finds that their apple shape puts them at lower risk for breast cancer than those celery stalks gliding down fashion runways." Click here for the study abstract.

"Episodes of High Coarse Particle Concentrations Are Not Associated with Increased Mortality" (4/26/99) Harvard's Joel Schwartz tries to shore up his claim that fine particles are associated with incerased mortality.

"Does an Association between Pesticide Use and Subsequent Declines in Catch of Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Represent a Case of Endocrine Disruption?" (4/26/99) This article is published without the researchers' even testing the effects of pesticides on Salmon smolt.

"PM2.5 and Mortality in Long-term Prospective Cohort Studies: Cause-Effect or Statistical Associations?" (4/26/99) Here's an exchange of letters from the May Environmental Health Perspectives. Click here for the attack and here for the response.

USA Today debate: "Concealed weapons laws" (4/26/99) The USA Today view is the Columbine High tragedy "exposes [the] fallacy of [the] 'more guns, less crime' argument." The opposing view is "studies show crime rates fall after states pass laws."

"Speeders: Crackdown? What Crackdown?" (4/25/99) A Washington Post article with lots about speeding -- but nothing about accident rates.

"Meningitis fear over gene-modified crops" (4/25/99) The Sunday Times (UK) reports "Government scientists have warned that genetically modified (GM) crops already in the fields pose a potentially catastrophic risk to health. Research indicates that altered genes in GM crops may pass to other organisms. Scientists say the genes could jump species and transform bacteria which cause disease. Concern is focused on two crops being cultivated in Spain and America which research suggests could unleash untreatable and potentially fatal new strains of meningitis and other diseases. Although the risk is small, the government's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes has opposed the planting and selling of the maize and cotton crops... The problem centres on two GM crops - Monsanto Roundup Ready Cotton and a maize crop made by Novartis - which contain antibiotic-resistance genes used in the process of creating the plant. Once the plant is growing, the genes have no function but could, scientists say, jump to other organisms and make them resistant to antibiotics. In the maize, the antibiotic gene could ultimately lead to the creation of an untreatable form of meningitis. In the cotton, the antibiotic resistance could give birth to a new strain of gonorrhoea. Experts have repeatedly called for the use of antibiotic-resistant genes to be strictly controlled in GM products. There is growing evidence that these plant genes could get into the mouths of humans and transform disease-causing bacteria. Monsanto and Novartis defended the safety of their crops. Novartis said there was no conclusive scientific evidence that the antibiotic resistance gene posed any health risk."

Gorbachev out-greens Gore (4/25/99) The Washington Times reports (Apr. 25) former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has expressed strong concern over the environmental impact of the conflict in Yugoslavia. "The massive destruction of oil refineries, petrochemical plants, chemical and fertilizer factories, pharmaceutical plants and other environmentally hazardous enterprises puts both the population and natural environment in the balkans under clear threat," said Gorbachev who is president of the Geneva-based environmental organization Green Cross International.

Chernobyl and thyroid cancer (4/25/99) The Washington Times reports (Apr. 25) that a ten-fold increase in thyroid cancer has been recorded in the Ukraine since the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear plant 13 years ago. According to the report, 1,217 young Ukrainians developed thyroid cancer since the explosion released to the atmosphere 50 million curies of radioactivity -- equivalent to 500 of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima. While there probably has been an increase in thyroid cancer incidence since the accident, the magnitude cannot be stated with certainty. Records of cancer rates before the explosion were maintained by the Soviet government. Between the absence of concern over human welfare, state security and the "efficiency" of Soviet bureaucrats, the "before" rate of thyroid cancer is probably unreliable.

"Will World Population Continue to Boom?" (4/25/99) Carolyn Lochhead writes in the San Francisco Chronicle "Yet economics demonstrates that as wealth rises, population growth slows, the so-called 'demographic transition' from high fertility and mortality to low fertility and mortality."

"Earth Day finds a few in Congress becoming a tad greener" (4/25/99) The Cincinnati Post's Bill Straub hails command-and-control environmentalism.

"In Europe, Cuisine du Gene Gets a Vehement Thumbs Down" (4/24/99) The Washington Post reports on the status of genetically-modified crops in Europe.

"Channel Islands Fox Faces Extinction, Scientists Warn" (4/24/99) One nit with this story: we're supposed to believe that DDT selectively wiped out the bald eagle population, but not the golden eagle population? Sounds like, the bald eagle population was wiped out by by something else, say hunting, not DDT.

"Beryllium safety standard is inadequate, federal official says" (4/24/99) NIOSH calls 1,200 documented cases of beryllium disease over more than 50 years "one of our high priorities."

"US playgrounds get a C- in safety" (4/24/99) The National Program for Playground Safety says the majority of America's playgrounds "are unfit for children." The Consumer Product Safety Commission made this same pronouncement several weeks ago. Hmmm....

"No link between hypnotism and madness" (4/24/99) The BBC reports "Hypnosis cannot cause mental illness, a conference on hypnotherapy will hear."

"The Mudslinging in the Wetlands" (4/24/99) The Los Angeles Times reports on a project that "has pitted environmentalists against one another, created unusual alliances among pro-environment politicians and developers and ignited a publicity nightmare for DreamWorks studio chiefs Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen."

George Lucier criticizes the Society of Toxicology (4/23/99) George Lucier, NIEHS scientist and editor of Environmental Perspectives, criticizes the Society of Toxicology for urging the use of mechanistic toxicology to debunk equivocal epidemiology but not using the same sort of information to establish risk in the face of equivocal epidemiology. Hey George, equivocal epidemiology means there probably is no risk -- I can't think of an example where it didn't. Click here for more on Lucier.

"Jury gives $ 700,000 to dairy farmers for losses blamed on 'stray voltage'" (4/23/99) The Associated Press reports "A jury awarded owners of a dairy farm $ 700,000 after deciding that "stray voltage" from an automated feeding system slashed the herd's milk output and increased the death rate among the Jersey cows."

COMMENTARY OF THE DAY: "Chronicles of earthly hyperbole" (4/22/99) Fred Singer writes in the Washington Times about Earth Day.

"Dangerous Myths" (4/23/99) The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review comments "Those enlisting in the effort to combat ``suburban sprawl'' make many a wild claim. From scare-tactic contentions that farmland development is threatening our food supply to reality-defying infrastructure cost analyses, truth often is the first casualty of this burgeoning debate. Some of the seemingly more plausible arguments of the anti-growth crowd, however, are just as suspect."

"EPA slams Logan runway plan; Birmingham says he'd block it " (4/23/99) EPA confuses itself with the Federal Aviation Admninistration.


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