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Farm Relief FDA Wakens to Local Needs


Small farms, farmers’ markets, local food processors and community food banks have been given a reprieve, because on December 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to take a second look at proposed new laws that would have put many of them out of business. The new rules, proposed under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), came under fire from consumers, farmers and others with voices that were heard. The FDA said its “thinking has evolved,” and


“…significant changes will be needed in key provisions


of the two proposed rules affecting small and large farmers. These provisions include water quality standards and testing, standards for using raw manure and compost, certain provisions affecting mixed-use facilities and procedures for withdrawing the qualified exemption for certain farms.”


Source: TheDailyGreen.com


Mercury Mystery How Sinking Organic Matter Plagues Fish


University of Michigan and University of Hawaii researchers claim to have solved a long-standing scientific mystery of how mercury gets into open- water fish. Based on their study findings, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, they also project that mercury levels in Pacific fish will rise in the coming years. The researchers discovered that up to 80 percent of the toxic form of mercury,


methylmercury, is generated deep in the ocean, most likely by bacteria attached to sinking pieces of organic matter. Mercury found in Pacific fish near Hawaii likely traveled thousands of miles through the air before being deposited in the ocean, the team concludes, blaming industrial nations such as China and India that rely on coal-burning power plants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes that large fish have the highest levels of methylmercury because they live longer and have more time to accumulate it.


Portland on Tap City Voters Reject Fluoridation Again


Portland, Oregon, residents have rejected a plan to fluoridate city water for the fourth time since 1956, making it the largest city (pop. 900,000) in the United States without fluoride in its water supply. In the 1950s, cities throughout the U.S. championed water fluoridation as a way of fighting tooth decay, but the effort backfired when a condition called fluorosis emerged, which ironically is characterized by tooth enamel discoloration and erosion. Anti-fluoride forces say that water treatment is not the key to better dental health for children. Fluoride


Action Network Executive Director Paul Connett, Ph.D., has a better idea. “We urge the legalization of dental therapists in Oregon who will treat the low-income children dentists refuse to treat.”


Vanishing Whales Illegal Hunting Continues to Decimate Species


Whales are still being killed, despite an international ban on commercial whal- ing. According to Greenpeace, many whale species are down to around 1 percent of their estimated former abun- dance before the days of commercial whaling.


Fourteen whaling nations came together in 1946 to form the Interna- tional Whaling Commission (IWC) to manage whale stocks and recommend hunting limits where appropriate, but the continuing decline of populations forced the IWC to call for an outright ban on all commercial whaling in 1986. Yet Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to defy the ban, each harvest- ing hundreds of whales every year. Several green groups, including the Natural Resources Development Council (NRDC), recently petitioned the U.S. government to take ac- tion against Iceland under the Pelly Amendment to the Fisherman’s Protec- tive Act. “The Amendment allows the president to impose trade sanctions against a country that is ‘diminish- ing the effectiveness’ of a conserva- tion agreement—in Iceland’s case, the whaling moratorium and another international treaty that prohibits trade in endangered species,” writes the NRDC. The petition names several Ice- landic firms—including major seafood companies with ties to the country’s whaling industry—as potential targets for trade sanctions.


To learn more, visit iwcoffice.org, Greenpeace.org and nrdc.org.


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