Sunday, May 22, 2005


Stuff that people have been eating for thousands of years is suddenly bad for you

Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has met with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in an effort to exempt french fries from a California list of foods requiring warnings that they could cause cancer. California is revising a citizen's right-to-know law passed in 1986 and will likely include specific warnings about food-based acrylamide. The chemical was previously considered an industrial agent until a 2002 study reported that it occurred naturally in many carbohydrate-rich foods. It occurs in cereals, for instance, though high levels in potatoes have been a focus, scientists say. It is released when the food is baked or fried.

Studies have linked acrylamide to cancer in animals, according to the World Health Organization, and McDonald's and Burger King have been sued in California for not providing warning labels about their fries. Some consumer advocates say Kempthorne is misguided, arguing he should be lobbying the food industry to slash levels of the chemical. But Kempthorne wants potatoes - Idaho's No. 1 agricultural product accounting for $2 billion of the state's economy - off the table in the law's revision, concerned that certain changes could stoke fear among consumers and dent potato sales that have already been hurt by low-carbohydrate diet trends. "It could have negative economic impact on interstate commerce," said Mike Journee, a Kempthorne aide. "How are you going to get away from something that's naturally occurring?".....

In a measure backed by Kempthorne, potatoes and other foods would be exempted from warning requirements if it could be shown that acrylamide was formed solely from the foods' natural makeup and was released as a result of being cooked, and if producers did everything possible to cut the chemical to the lowest possible levels. Should California's 35.4 million consumers sour on french fries because of cancer fears, potato industries in Oregon and Washington would take a hit, industry officials warned. "If the french fry business in California drops, it would hurt everybody," said Keith Esplin, director of the Potato Growers of Idaho....

A 2002 Swedish National Food Authority study first reported that acrylamide occurred naturally in some starch-rich foods - as a result of cooking or heat processing. Until then, the chemical was generally thought of as an industrial agent, used in food packaging and even to treat sewage, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Swedish study provided the impetus for reviewing the law, Monahan said, saying the effort may take until April 2006 to complete. It likely won't require warning labels on packages, opting instead for cautionary signs in restaurants and stores. "We want people to still eat the foods that are good for them," Monahan said. "We just want people to know, so they can make good choices."....

Industry advocates counter that science hasn't proven a link to human cancers and that state-by-state efforts to require warnings could create chaos. They also note that people have been eating potatoes since about 750 B.C. in South America, and french-fried potatoes since at least the 1830s, when French and Belgium diners popularized the preparation style, according to "The Secret History of French Fries," a history of the tuber

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Science gave a Parkinson's victim new life but animal rights activists called him a Nazi

Mike Robins is a man redeemed. Thanks to pioneering surgery, the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease that were wrecking his life are now under tight control. With the flick of a switch, he can turn off the uncontrollable tremors that stopped him holding down a job, having a social life or even getting to sleep. Not surprisingly, Robins reckons he is lucky to be fit and alive. Others are not so sure.

At a recent public meeting to discuss a proposed animal research centre in Oxford, 63-year-old Robins was jeered and ridiculed when he tried to show how surgery, perfected through animal experiments, had transformed his life. 'I was bayed at,' said Robins, a retired naval engineer from Southampton. 'Several hundred people were shouting. Some called out "Nazi!", "bastard!" and "Why don't you roll over and die!" I tried to speak, but was shouted down. It was utterly terrifying.' ....

'I wanted people to see how a person can benefit from animal experiments,' said the Oxford surgeon Tipu Aziz who operated on Robins and spoke at the debate. 'That is why I asked Mike to appear at the debate. I am now very sorry I put him through that horrible ordeal. To these people, Mike's existence is a refutation of their core beliefs. They say animal experiments do no good. Then Mike stands up, switches his tremors on and off, and their arguments are blown away. That's why they shouted him down.'

Now Robins has a panel sewn into his chest and uses a gadget like a TV remote to control his symptoms. When Robins switches the current on his incapacitating symptoms - waving right hand and shaking right leg - disappear instantly. It was this striking demonstration of medical science that Robins hoped to give last month but was blocked because the meeting had been packed by anti-vivisectionists. 'I want to show them what had been done for me but found myself in a room full of 250 people who were baying for my blood. The venom was horrific.' ...

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Only a Greenie would think that warmth or CO2 was bad for crops

Environmental lobbyists argue that continuing human-caused global warming poses a significant threat of world famine. They say hotter temperatures will cause crops to wither on the vine and increase the evaporation rate of moisture from the soil. The available evidence, however, undermines their claims, say Dennis T. Avery (Hudson Institute) and H. Sterling Burnett (National Center for Policy Analysis).

Indeed, a warmer planet has beneficial effects on food production. It results in longer growing seasons -- more sunshine and rainfall -- while summertime high temperatures change little. And a warmer planet means milder winters and fewer crop-killing frosts.

Botanists have long realized that CO2 enhances plant growth, which is why greenhouse owners pump large volumes of CO2 into their sheds -- to grow more tomatoes or carnations. This was confirmed by 55 experiments conducted by research scientist Sherwood Idso, formerly of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For example:

* Increasing CO2 by 300 parts per million (ppm) above the current atmospheric level of more than 370 ppm enhanced plant growth by 31 percent under optimal water conditions, and 63 percent under water scarcity.
* With a 600 ppm CO2 increase, plant growth was enhanced 51 percent under optimal water conditions and an astonishing 219 percent under conditions of water shortage.

Based on nearly 800 scientific observations around the world, a doubling of CO2 from present levels would improve plant productivity on average by 32 percent across species. Controlled experiments have shown that:

* Under elevated CO2 levels, average yields of cereal grains - including rice, wheat, barley, oats and rye - are 25 percent to 64 percent higher.
* Tubers and root crops, including potatoes, yams and cassava, yield 18 to 75 percent more.
* And yields of legumes, including peas, beans and soybeans, increase 28 to 46 percent.

Source: Dennis T. Avery and H. Sterling Burnett, "Global Warming: Famine -- or Feast?" National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 517, May 19, 2005.

(Summary from here)


Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming. Their numbers are still small, but they represent growing cracks in what had been a virtually solid wall of opposition to nuclear power among most mainstream environmental groups. In the past few months, articles in publications like Technology Review, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Wired magazine have openly espoused nuclear power, angering other environmental advocates.

Stewart Brand, a founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and the author of "Environmental Heresies," an article in the May issue of Technology Review, explained the shift as a direct consequence of the growing anxiety about global warming and its links to the use of fossil fuel. "It's not that something new and important and good had happened with nuclear, it's that something new and important and bad has happened with climate change," Mr. Brand said in an interview.

For many longtime advocates of environmental causes, such talk is nothing short of betrayal. Because of safety fears that reached a peak during the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and unresolved questions of how to dispose of nuclear waste, environmentalists have waged unrelenting campaigns against plants from Shoreham on Long Island to Diablo Canyon near the California coast. But as mounting scientific evidence points to a direct connection between increasing carbon emissions and climate change, Mr. Brand and others have come to see conventional fuels like oil and coal as a greater threat.

In his article, Mr. Brand argued, "Everything must be done to increase energy efficiency and decarbonize energy production." He ran down a list of alternative technologies, like solar and wind energy, that emit no heat-trapping gases. "But add them all up," he wrote, "and it's just a fraction of enough." His conclusion: "The only technology ready to fill the gap and stop the carbon-dioxide loading is nuclear power."

In recent statements, three top environmental experts - Fred Krupp, the executive director of Environmental Defense, and Jonathan Lash, the president of the World Resources Institute and James Gustave Speth, the dean of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies - have stopped well short of embracing nuclear power, but they have emphasized that it is worth trying to find solutions to the economic, safety and security, waste storage and proliferation issues rather than rejecting the whole technology.

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Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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