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Monday Briefing

California push for a ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered foods reflects nationwide concerns. The California measure, likely to be on the state’s November ballot, comes as groups are working to block the Obama administration’s expected clearance of a new genetically modified corn. Some farm groups and environmentalists fear that the new corn…

Friday Briefing

Food and beverage industries beef up spending on lobbying and crush anti-obesity legislative efforts. A Reuters investigative report found that the industries more than doubled their spending in Washington during the past three years. Meanwhile, they largely dominated policymaking — pledging voluntary action while defeating government proposals to change the nation’s diet. In contrast, the…

Thursday Briefing

Major British scientific review finds no evidence of health risks from cellphones. The analysis by the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency evaluated hundreds of studies and found no conclusive links between cellphones and cancer, brain function or infertility risks. Still, the agency said monitoring should continue because little is known about long-term effects, given that few people used cellphones before the late 1990s. The agency also called for children to avoid excessive use. The analysis was described as the biggest review ever of cellphone safety evidence. Some experts have been wary, including the World Health Organization, which called cellphone radiation a possible carcinogen. BBC, USA Today

Criminal Probe Spotlights Tree Poisoning to Make Way for Billboards FairWarining Investigates

Criminal Probe Spotlights Tree Poisoning to Make Way for Billboards

As long as there have been billboards, trees have been getting in the way. And billboard companies have been removing them–sometimes legally, sometimes not. Now a rash of alleged tree poisonings in Florida have implicated a top billboard company and sparked a criminal investigation. But it turns out that rogue behavior by billboard operators is nothing new.

Wednesday Briefing

Mad cow discovery in California prompts major South Korean supermarket chain to pull U.S. beef from its stores. The chain, Lotte Mart, said the move was taken to calm worries among its customers, not because of any quality issues. Another South Korean chain, Home Plus, also suspended sales but, within hours, resumed selling U.S. beef….

Tuesday Briefing

Consumer advocates sound alarm about toxic chemical in Tide. The group Women’s Voices for the Earth commissioned tests on 20 cleaning products and found what it described as problematic levels of 1,4 dioxane in Tide Free & Gentle (fragrance free) and Tide Original Scent. Small amounts of 1,4 dioxane, a solvent that federal authorities consider a probable carcinogen, are formed during the manufacturer of detergents and other products. Advocates raised concerns with Procter & Gamble, which makes the laundry detergent brand, but the company says levels of the substance are tiny. Federal authorities have yet to indicate what constitutes a safe level in consumer goods. The New York Times

Monday Briefing

Scientists increasingly question “sustainable” seafood labels. Some researchers say the certification systems rating the environmental credentials of food retailers’ seafood give consumers a false impression that purchasing certain products helps the ocean more than it really does. Supporters, however, say the ratings are helping transform many of the world’s wild-caught fisheries, giving them a financial…

An Earth Day Reminder: It’s Not About Bad People

In a world where so much power is concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few, it’s always tempting to pin the blame for whatever goes wrong on the moral failings of the powerful. Earth Day, coming up this Sunday, offers a useful reminder that the problem—as leftists used to say—is not bad people, but…

A Punishment BP Can’t Pay Off

Two years after a series of gambles and ill-advised decisions on a BP drilling project led to the largest accidental oil spill in United States history and the death of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, no one has been held accountable. Sure, there have been about $8 billion in payouts and, in…

Friday Briefing

Chinese town with widespread lead poisoning now a dumping ground for defective electronic components. Guiyu, on the South China Sea coast, first made headlines in the early 2000s, as a place where old computers and gadgets from the western world were getting recycled. At the same time, its soil has been found to be so saturated…