Wednesday

Auto Safety Groups, U.S. Senator Call for Investigation of CarMax

Safety advocates claim that the nation’s biggest seller of used cars is failing to fix vehicles subject to recalls. In a petition filed with the Federal Trade Commission, 11 safety groups allege that CarMax engages in deceptive advertising by claiming every vehicle it sells passes a rigorous 125-point inspection. The groups said the inspection fails to look at whether a car has been recalled and repaired. “Car dealers shouldn’t sell used cars that have a safety recall to consumers, period,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who supports the petition. “Far too many times we have seen the tragic and often fatal consequences when deficient cars are allowed on the road, and it’s time for the FTC to do everything it can to put a stop to it.” Though U.S. law bars auto dealers from selling new cars that are under a safety recall, no such restriction applies to used cars. Los Angeles Times, The New York Times

U.S. regulators warn that air bags in millions of cars could explode, but still haven’t ordered a formal recall. Safety officials were alerted by Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. that cars equipped with its air bags and kept in very humid climates could explode upon deployment, sending metal shrapnel flying. Takata says it is aware of at least six incidents of ruptured airbags, all occurring in either Florida or Puerto Rico. But Takata says it doesn’t know the root cause, nor how many vehicles are at risk. U.S. safety regulators say they are investigating the incidents but have yet to determine a cause or identify a safety defect, a necessary step in launching an official safety recall. In the meantime, they have asked car makers to initiate limited recalls, focusing mostly on Southern states and territories, to replace the air bag inflator module. The Wall Street Journal

Panel blames pilots for crash last year that killed three people and hurt 187. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the pilots flying the Asiana Airlines jet that crashed in San Francisco last July, hitting a sea wall just short of the runway, didn’t understand crucial details of the cockpit automation. Among other problems, the pilots mismanaged their landing approach and inadvertently shut off an automatic speed control system that might have prevented the accident. The NTSB also cited the pilots’ failure to monitor their airspeed and altitude, as well as a decision to abort the landing that came too late. The crash was the first fatal airliner disaster in the U.S. in more than four years. Los Angeles Times, The New York Times

New generation of GMO crops appears likely to win U.S. approval. Agribusiness interests say the plants—soy and corn engineered by Dow AgroSciences to tolerate two herbicides, rather than one—are a safe, necessary tool to help farmers fight so-called superweeds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture appear to agree, and their final decisions are expected this summer. But many health and environmental groups say the crops represent another step on a pesticide treadmill: an approach to farming that relies on ever-larger amounts of chemical use, threatening to create even more superweeds and hazards from potentially harmful compounds. “We’re at a crossroads here,” said an analyst at the Center for Food Safety, an advocacy group. “With these, we’re dramatically increasing farmer dependence on herbicides.” Wired

Lawmakers push for more consumption of Atlantic spiny dogfish despite health warnings. The push for dogfish, a type of shark that is abundant but little in demand, emerged a year ago. Nineteen members of Congress from the Northeast wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture asking the agency to buy dogfish under a program that purchases surplus food and then makes it available to the National School Lunch Program and other federal programs. Such a purchase would, the lawmakers argued, be a win-win: cheap food for institutions and a boost for struggling Northeastern fishermen. But state health officials warn that dogfish is high in mercury. For instance, Maine advises pregnant and nursing women, women who may get pregnant and children younger than 8 to avoid the food. It says other people should eat no more than two dogfish meals a month. Discover

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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