Monday

Monsanto’s genetically modified sweet corn hits supermarkets. It’s the first crop of the controversial biotech giant’s sweet corn, which is engineered to resist some pests and a common herbicide. The arrival worries critics, who say such foods may pose environmental and health risks and in recent months have convinced some food companies not to sell the product. But Wal-mart, the nation’s No. 1 grocer, confirmed it will sell the corn, which is not labeled as a genetically modified product. The decision is expected to fuel debate about whether the U.S. should require that such products are tested for safety and labeled for consumers. Although genetically modified corn has been in U.S. processed foods since the mid-1990s, critics say eating it right off the cob could raise the risks. Chicago Tribune

Oil-producing region in southeast Nigeria plagued with toxic drinking water. A United Nations report a year ago slammed multinational oil companies, particularly Royal Dutch Shell, and the Nigerian government, for 50 years of devastating pollution in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta. The report said Ogoniland needed the world’s biggest ever oil clean-up, taking at least 25 years and costing an initial $1 billion. Shell and the government swiftly pledged to act. But residents say they have seen no evidence work has begun. Shell says it is committed to a cleanup, but argues the government must also do its part. The government last week said a new committee would work on the report’s recommendations. Reuters

Chinese police arrest nearly 2,000 in counterfeit drug crackdown. Authorities said they also seized more than $182 million of fake pharmaceuticals. The detentions and seizures, which occurred in late July but were announced Sunday, included drugs to treat patients with diabetes, high blood pressure and even rabies, according to a statement from the nation’s public security ministry. The statement didn’t specify whether the fake drugs were meant for the domestic or international market. China and India are the world’s  biggest suppliers of counterfeits, which cause 700,000 deaths a year among malaria and tuberculosis sufferers alone, according to the Washington-based International Policy Network. The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg

Authorities urge caution at agricultural fairs amid rise in swine flu cases. The alert was based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention citing 12 new cases of the H3N2 virus in the past week in Hawaii, Ohio and Indiana. All of the cases involved people who attended or exhibited swine at an agricultural fair. Officials suggest, among other precautions, that people at high risk for the flu — including children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems — avoid exposure to pigs at upcoming annual county fairs. Strains of the swine flu virus caused a pandemic in 2009 that led to thousands of deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. The Washington Post, Medical News Today

Cellphone safety likely to come under new scrutiny. Congress is expected to say, as soon as this week, that a year-long investigation by the Government Accountability Office has found the Federal Communications Commission’s cellphone-safety regulations are woefully out of date. Congress may also urge the FCC, whose radiation-limit rules are 15 years old, to take a fresh look at how children in particular may be affected by radio waves. The GAO findings, however, won’t address whether cellphones are safe or dangerous, or if they can cause cancer — a hotly contested question that top scientific organizations say is still uncertain. The Washington Post

Recalls: foods with chopped onions (comprehensive list), Burch Farms Caribbean Gold cantaloupes, Armour Active Packs wrap sandwiches, Shiley adult tracheostomy tubes

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein and Bridget Huber

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