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Monthly Roundup: March

Zoë Furlong April 03, 2015

image via GMO Film


GMO OMG (2013) Directed by Jeremy Seifert
Jeremy Seifert found himself wondering about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) after looking critically at what he was feeding his young children, and after his son Finn develops a deep fascination with seeds. Seifert embarks on a quest for answers that takes him around the world. He manages to touch on a myriad of GMO-related issues, from rapidly decreasing biodiversity, to the emergence of pesticide-resistant “super bugs”, to ethical issues surrounding patenting and selling organisms, and finally to to the potential health hazards of eating GMOs. GMO OMG is at times misguided and melodramatic. But many of the issues introduced, like “Roundup-ready” crops, seem especially timely given the recent designation of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) as a “probable carcinogen” by the WHO.


Toxin, Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World, by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith.
After the publication of their first book, Slow Death by Rubber Duck (an exposé on the many chemical pollutants in everyday products), Lourie and Smith were constantly asked by readers: “now that I know what toxic substances are in my body, how do I get them out?” Lourie and Smith aim to find answers in Toxin, Toxout. They once again use themselves as guinea pigs to demonstrate how easily and quickly our bodies absorb chemicals, then put themselves through a number of “detox” methods - debunking most of them along the way. Although the book takes a critical look at the multi-billion (!) dollar detox industry, they could have dug a little deeper into the science behind supposed “detox” methods, as well as providing a more in-depth explanation of how the body naturally eliminates (and at times, fails to eliminate) toxic chemicals.


"Chemical Exposure Linked to Billions in Health Care Costs" - National Geographic, 3/5/2015
Researcher Elizabeth Grossman claims that health problems stemming from exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) is costing $175 Billion in health care costs in the European Union alone. In the U.S., the amount would likely be higher. 

"Popular weed killer deemed probable carcinogen by UN" - Aiken Standard, 3/23/2015 

Glyphosate (the most widely-used herbicide in the US and the active ingredient in Roundup) has just been deemed a “probable carcinogen” by the UN (specifically, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer). There is some evidence that glyphosate can cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in humans, and convincing evidence that it can also cause other types of cancer in mice and rats. Monsanto disagrees with the decision. 

"Senators Introduce Bill to Overhaul U.S. Chemical Regulations" - Huffington Post, 3/10/2015
Senators Barbara Boxer and Edward Markey introduced a TSCA reform bill on Thursday, calling for the EPA to review chemicals more quickly and to use a stronger standard to judge chemical safety. An alternate proposal brought forth by Sens. Vitter and Udall two days earlier outlines a new process and deadlines for the EPA’s chemical reviews, but each review could take up to seven years. Industry groups largely support Vitter and Udall’s bill, while environmental health groups welcome Boxer and Markey’s bill. Read more on these developments here and here.


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