Already High Food Contamination Risk Is Increasing Due To Gov’t Shutdown

Already High Food Contamination Risk Is Increasing Due To Gov’t Shutdown

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spent the better part of the last two days trying to reassure the public that food safety is not at risk during the shutdown.  Yesterday and into today, through a series of tweets, Dr. Gottlieb explained (1) that routine food safety inspections are not taking place now; (2) that he is trying to get them re-started by next week – though he is not sure how to do it because FDA guidance requires routine inspections to cease when there is no funding; and that (3) high-risk food safety inspections are continuing.  The key fact that most people don’t know is that there are very few food safety inspections in the U.S, which Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich pointed out in a story and in a devastating series of tweets.  

Why This Matters: The good news is that your food is almost as safe now as it ever was. The bad news is that our safety inspection system is woefully underfunded and inadequate.  But we should have already deduced that fact given the two deadly e-coli outbreaks in the last year.  The law on food inspections is relatively strong, but not being fully implemented.  And lax agricultural practices and health and safety regulations regarding pesticides and use of certain fertilizers create further loopholes that create more risk than most people realize.

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Rep. Ted Lieu’s march to 100% renewables

Rep. Ted Lieu’s march to 100% renewables

This week, California Congressman Ted Lieu introduced the first major climate bill of the 116th Congress. In a statement, Lieu said that: “There is no threat greater to our nation’s security than climate change. Failing to protect our planet will endanger the lives of millions, hurt our economy and jeopardize our children’s future. The wildfires […]

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Trump threatens to pull FEMA money from wildfire victims

Trump threatens to pull FEMA money from wildfire victims

Earlier this week President Trump tweeted out the above tweet and while many of us have ceased to be truly stunned by anything the president says and tweets, him stating that he won’t give government aid to desperate Americans struggling to survive is deeply troubling. Trump’s claim that “forest management” will magically stop the hellish infernos that California experiences each summer has been disproven numerous times but by actual fire scientists.

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Virginia Regulators Ignore Environmental Justice Concerns, Grant Pipeline Permit

Virginia Regulators Ignore Environmental Justice Concerns, Grant Pipeline Permit

Ignoring the pleas of residents of the historic African American community of Union Hill in Richmond, the Virginia state air pollution control board voted unanimously to approve a natural gas compressor station there. 

Why This Matters:  The large and powerful fossil fuel industry always seems to have the upper hand — in DC and in state capitals around the country.  The ruling probably does not matter because the pipeline is mired in more serious federal court litigation.  But environmental groups were disappointed that Democratic Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, replaced two skeptical air pollution control board commissioners whose terms had run out, with two pro-pipeline commissioners.  Governor Northam, according to The Post, attended a political fundraiser with Dominion executives in recent days.  Yup.  It’s all about the money.  

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Defense Think Tank Wades into Ocean Sustainability Fight

Defense Think Tank Wades into Ocean Sustainability Fight

A new “front” opened yesterday in the fight to ensure that the world’s ocean resources are used sustainably, with the launch of the Stephenson Ocean Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  The Project’s web site explains its objective — to raise awareness about the ways that competition for marine resources contributes to instability and geopolitical risk for the United States.

Why This Matters:  Full disclosure — I (Monica) have had a long standing interest in the issue of ocean resources and national security, and have been working to help CSIS get the ball rolling on the project.  I believe that if you substituted the word “oil” for “fish” in the paragraphs above, no one would even blink at the national security implications and environmental significance of this work. Fish in my view could be even more important than oil to a larger segment of the public globally — those in the developing world who don’t have cars but do eat fish. The resources available at the Department of Defense (both technical and financial) could be a game changer for efforts to ensure ocean sustainability into the future.  

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One Wondrous Thing: Free Digit!

One Wondrous Thing: Free Digit!

One of the biggest threats to whales across the globe is getting fatally ensnared in derelict fishing gear.  National Geographic last week told the story of a leading sperm whale researcher working in Dominica in 2015 who spied a familiar juvenile whale named “Digit” with fishing rope tangled on her tail and midsection, which kept her […]

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