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Friday Finds: Deforestation Barbie


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10 June 2011, 3:55 AM
EPA's chemical unveiling, arsenic-laced chicken, contaminated compost
Greenpeace says Barbie boxes contribute to deforestation in Indonesia. Photo courtesy photogirl7.1

Greenpeace battles Barbie for bulldozing trees
Mattel, the world’s biggest toy company by revenue, is under fire this week for using Barbie doll packaging that allegedly comes from Indonesian rainforests, reports the Christian Science Monitor. According to forensic testing commissioned by Greenpeace, Mattel and other toy companies used packaging made by Asia Pulp and Paper, an Indonesian paper firm that Greenpeace says destroys rainforests. In addition to fighting climate change, Indonesia’s carbon sequestering rainforests provide habitat to critically-endangered wildlife like tigers. Update: today, Mattel announced it was discontinuing use of the packaging from Asia Pulp and Paper until they could investigate Greenpeace's claims.

EPA comes clean on chemical identities
On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed names of more than 150 chemicals whose identities were previously kept confidential in health and safety studies. Environmental health groups consider the move a great first step in giving consumers more information about the ingredients in products. The announcement also comes on the heels of New York State’s decision last September to begin requiring household cleaners to reveal the chemical ingredients in their products and any health risks they pose, a prompted by an Earthjustice lawsuit.

Americans that use less gas have extra cash
Recently, the House Democratic Livable Communities Task Force found that U.S. households stalled in auto-dependent communities spend a lot more money on transportation than those with more transit options like trains and gas sipping vehicles, reports Grist. That divide is only expected to get worse as peak oil nears and gas prices continue to skyrocket, which is why the task force included a number of federal policy recommendations to lessen our pump dependence like promoting pay-as-you-drive insurance and increasing federal funding for public transit.

Compost may contain contaminants
Compost has quickly become a must-have among urban gardener types, but the nutrient-rich dirt made from the food and yard waste from local communities may contain unseemly contaminants, reports Mother Jones. Though operators sift through materials to pluck out alien items like plastic bags, every once in a while they miss a glass bottle or two. In addition, the federal government doesn’t require compost to be screened for contaminants. Despite these setbacks, most agree that compost’s benefits to the garden and to the planet far outweigh its costs. So, go ahead and get your hands dirty. Just watch out for the glass!  
 
Arsenic-laced chicken no longer on the menu
This week, Pfizer subsidiary Alpharma announced that it will discontinue U.S. sales of 3-Nitro, an arsenic-laced drug fed to chickens to help them gain weight and prevent diseases, reports the LA Times. Though the drug contains organic arsenic, which is not thought to be a human carcinogen, researchers recently discovered that chickens given the drug contained higher levels of the more harmful inorganic arsenic in their livers. Luckily, many poultry producers already no longer use this drug on their birds. In 30 days, Pfizer officially stops selling the drug.

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