Monthly Archives: December 2014

EPA Sued Over Nanotechnology Pesticides

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The Center for Food Safety (CFS), in conjunction with several other groups, filed a lawsuit last week against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the agency’s failure to regulate new nanomaterial pesticides. The lawsuit results from several years of EPA inaction on a 2008 legal petition demanding that they regulate these pesticides.  George Kimbrell, a senior attorney with CFS said “Six years ago we provided EPA a legal and scientific blue print to address to regulate these novel materials under its pesticide authority. The agency’s unlawful and irresponsible delay ends now.”

Nanotechnology involves manipulating materials at the atomic and molecular level. Nanomaterials are so small that they cannot be seen with an ordinary microscope — a strand of human hair is 50,000 to 80,000 nanometers wide. Beyond being really really small, nanomaterials often behave differently because of their size, in ways that are unpredictable compared to the same material/s produced at a larger scale.

These unknown properties increase the potential for biological interaction and toxicity. If nanomaterials enter the blood stream, they can move freely through all organs and tissues. As Jaydee Hason, CFS senior policy analyst puts it, “Nanomaterials are novel technologies that pose unique risks unlike anything we’ve seen before.”

Nano-silver is the most common nanomaterial in consumer products, often used for its antimicrobial properties. However, since they are intended to kill bacteria, the products qualify as pesticides , which the EPA recognizes. In their petition six years ago, CFS identified 260 nano-silver consumer products, a number that is now over 400. While a definitive number is hard to find since there are no labeling requirements for nano-scale products, The Project on Emerging Nanotechnology says there over 1600 consumer products using nanotechnology.

According to the EPA, “silver nanoparticles have been incorporated into many consumer products…dietary supplements, laundry detergents, body soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disinfectant sprays, kitchen utensils, clothing and children’s toys.”  This despite a lack of knowledge regarding “release of silver nanoparticles” from these products, how and where they may travel once loose, and an inadequate understanding of “the physico-chemical properties of nanoscale silver [regarding] transport, transformation, exposure, and bioavailability of this element.”

CFS is representing itself, its sister nonprofit, the International Center for Technology Assessment, as well as, Beyond Pesticides, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Production Action, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in the lawsuit.

 

Egypt Bans New ‘Exodus’ film for “Historical Inaccuracies”

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exodus mythUpdate 12/31 – Morocco has also banned the film but for reasons unrelated to history. Shortly after Egypt, the United Arab Emirates also banned the film.

Citing “historical inaccuracies” as the cause, Egyptian officials have banned the new film ‘Exodus’ according to Variety. Key among the film’s problems are “the film’s depiction of Jews as having built the Pyramids and the Biblical story of a miracle by Moses causing the Red Sea to part so that the Jewish people could escape from the pursuing Egyptian army.”

According to Ancient Egypt Research Associates, Egyptians built the Giza pyramids between 2589 BC and 2504 BC. Many other sources offer the same general dates for pyramid construction.

Since the famed pyramids were built hundreds of years pre-dating Abraham (father of Judaism) and there’s no archaeological evidence of the Exodus occurring, the next question is whether Jews were ever held in Egyptian bondage at all. Juan Cole comments that “Israeli leader Menachem Begin asserted in speeches that Jews built the pyramids” though I don’t know if this is the beginning of the false assertion or not. Cole further mentions that at the time in question there were probably not “‘Jews’ as opposed to Canaanites with a special emphasis on a particular deity among others.”

Is it ethical to continue telling the Passover story as typically presented when the premise of “The story of Passover has its beginning in the days of Abraham” is clearly false?

An Epidemic of Wireless Spousal Stalking

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The Independent reports today about warnings from domestic violence campaigners regarding epidemic levels of covert surveillance by abusive spouses of their partners’ cell phones and computers. Easy to obtain, inexpensive software and hardware packages allow one “to eavesdrop on the victims of domestic violence via their mobiles and other electronic devices, enabling abusers clandestinely to read texts, record calls and view or listen in on victims in real time without their knowledge.” Campaigners are also concerned that the British police and justice system are unaware of how large the problem is and how to appropriately address it.

Findings from two recent surveys by Women’s Aid and Digital Trust revealed astonishing numbers. Over 40% of domestic violence victims seeking help from Women’s Aid report they had been tracked or harassed through electronic devices. The Digital Trust, which assists victims of online stalking, says that over half of abusive partners “used spyware or some other form of electronic surveillance to stalk their victims.”

Activists are increasingly concerned at Christmas time when children may visit estranged parents and receive electronic gifts loaded with spyware as a way to gain access to personal information and whereabouts of their ex. Today, it is quite easy to hide spyware in innocuous gifts where they remain inconspicuous and untraceable.

Speaking to The Independent, Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said “Domestic abuse is about control and perpetrators will use any means available to maintain and increase their control.” Another campaigner noted that stalking occurs in a variety of domestic settings including partners who live together and those who have already split apart.

That Smartphones Affect the Brain Isn’t Really News

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It’s been known for decades that microwave radiation affect brain and other living tissue. A BBC report that University of Zurich scientists, investigating activity in zones related to touch with the thumb, forefinger and middle finger, have ‘discovered‘ brain changes among smartphone users, is of no significance.

It’s pretty astonishing that this counts as news when little is publicized about the over 200 studies going back nearly 30 years demonstrating actual health related impacts to brain tissue from exposure to microwave radiation. There are several thousands of other studies looking at health impacts to the rest of your body. Several chapters of The Bioinitiative Report focus or touch on brain effects from microwave radiation.

Ground-breaking Swedish researcher Lennart Hardell has repeatedly found significant (brain) cancer risk associated with cell phone use. His team’s latest paper “confirm a statistically significant increased risk for glioma” which is a brain / spine cancer originating in glial cells.

glioma incidence risk Hardell 2014The risk for developing glioma increased after “time from first use of the wireless phone and number of hours [of] use over the years.” After 10 years of cell phone use, you would be 1.5 times more likely to develop glioma; users of 25 years or more had triple the normal risk. Other research has found decreased survival rates in patients who develop glioblastoma multiform from use of cellular and cordless phones.

What if we end up creating a persistent increase in brain cancers among people only 30 years old? Is the convenience of cell phones and wi-fi worth that? Have we already witnessed the beginning of a surge in brain cancers from widespread wireless use?