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Friday Finds: Big Ag’s Sugar Daddy

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11 February 2011, 6:37 AM
Radiated bird brains, Clorox cleaning, peak oil Wikileaks
A recent USDA decision allows farmers to plant genetically modified sugar beets. Photo courtesy of Uwe Hermann.

USDA gives Big Ag some sugar in GE beet decision 
In a move that directly contradicts the finding of a U.S. federal judge, last week the Department of Agriculture said that farmers could start planting their genetically modified sugar beets, reports the New York Times, despite concerns raised over GE crops by environmental and organic groups. The decision to allow farmers to plant the beets before a (legally required) environmental impact assessment was conducted was most likely brought on by fears that blocking the crops’ planting would result in a sugar shortage, an odd concern for a country who's known to have a bit of a sweet tooth

Clorox freshens up stance on ingredient disclosure
Hooray! This past Tuesday, cleaning company Clorox announced it would allow consumers to know just what’s in all of those cleaners and cleansers, reports the LA Times. The announcement comes after sustained pressure by environmental and health groups, including Earthjustice, which argue that consumers have a right to know what’s in their toilet bowl cleaner. After all, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Latest Wikileaks freaks out peak oil predictions
A Saudi oil expert says that the country’s oil reserves may be off by as much as 40 percent, reports the Guardian, raising fears that we may soon hit a period known as “peak oil,” an era where global oil production tops out. Sadad al-Husseini, a former head of exploration at a Saudi oil company who issued the warnings, is no Chicken Little. According to a Wikileaks cable from a U.S. consul, the expert is not a “doomsday theorist,” and his “pedigree, experience and outlook demand that his predictions be thoughtfully considered."
Scientists find effect on radiated birds is no brainer
Researchers have found that the brains of birds living near the Chernobyl nuclear accident site are five percent smaller when compared to birds not exposed to background radiation, reports the BBC. The study is just the latest to find negative effects among animals living near Chernobyl, such as reductions in wildlife populations and insect diversity. Though the researchers don’t know exactly how the radiation exposure resulted in smaller brains, you’d have to have a bird brain to believe that the two aren’t at all related.
Feds won’t spill the beans on Canadian pipeline safety plan
The public won’t be seeing any emergency response or worst case scenario plans anytime soon for an oil pipeline that will run from Canada to the U.S., reports Greenwire. After the public interest law firm Plains Justice asked for the information through a Freedom of Information Act request, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration declined the request, despite having previously released the same information for two other pipelines. Though there was no comment from the administration on the agency’s denial of this most recent request, a comment last year by the pipeline agency’s chief that the response plans "have not been made public for no particular reason,” somehow hasn’t provided peace of mind to those concerned about the potential pipelines. Shocking. 


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