Friday

Movement to label genetically modified foods gains momentum. Labeling bills have been proposed in more than a dozen states over the last year. One of the most closely watched labeling efforts is a proposed initiative in California that is expected to be on the November ballot. Almost all processed foods in the U.S. contain ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators say these pose no danger, but that hasn’t quelled popular suspicions. The debate pits consumer groups and the organic food industry against more conventional farmers, agricultural biotechnology companies like Monsanto and many of the nation’s best-known food brands like Kellogg’s and Kraft. The New York Times

Japan’s radiation release far higher than initially estimated. The amount of radiation emitted from the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns, the plant’s operator said, represented about 17 percent of the release from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the worst-ever nuclear accident. The calculation is the first by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. and higher than any of the earlier estimates from government regulators since the accident. But medical and nuclear safety experts said the new figures won’t significantly alter their views on the health risks stemming from Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident. The Wall Street Journal, Reuters

Workplace safety regulators struggle to police dangerous fields such as tower climbing. Tower climbers, the roughly 10,000 workers who build and maintain the nation’s TV, radio and cell towers, aren’t hired directly by the corporations that rely on their labor. They’re subcontractors, sometimes separated by layers of other contractors from the companies that ultimately pay for tower projects. Experts say the field is emblematic of a change in the way companies deal with risky work – and in OSHA’s ability to hold them accountable. Since 2003, almost 100 climbers have been killed on the job, 50 of them on cell sites. But OSHA has not sanctioned cell carriers for safety violations in any of those deaths. ProPublica, PBS Frontline

Four VA medical units in Northern California accused of safety violations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration charged the Department of Veterans Affairs centers with 25 violations, citing such problems as overflowing trash cans of biohazardous waste and exposed syringes. A VA hospital in Mather and an outpatient clinic in Martinez each were charged with 10 serious violations and one minor violation. An  outpatient clinic in Oakland was accused of two serious violations and an outpatient clinic at the Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield was accused of one. OSHA can’t impose fines on other federal agencies, so no financial penalties were proposed. Separately, OSHA cited Rich Products Corp. for 23 safety violations at its frozen food plant in Brunswick, Ga., and proposed penalties of  $80,385. San Francisco Chronicle, OSHA

Detergent packets pose a hazard to children. Small laundry detergent packets, including Tide and Purex brands, have arrived on store shelves in recent months, touted as a solution to bulky bottles and messy spills. But doctors say children are confusing the brightly colored packets with candy and swallowing them. Nearly 250 cases have been reported this year to poison control centers around the country. What’s more, the symptoms doctors observe, such as nausea and breathing problems, are more severe than typical detergent poisoning. “We look at these pods as being clearly more dangerous than the standard detergent,” said a Dallas toxicologist. The Associated Press, ABC News

Recalls: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco sedans, Lexus GS 350 sedans, kitchen table sets sold by Stoneberry, Kitchen Selectives 6-Speed BlendersFranck’s Pharmacy prescriptions, dried shitake mushrooms sold at CostcoTaste of Roux jarred vegetarian soupsMt. Airy frozen, raw chicken breastsZenner’s Smoked Brotwurst

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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