South Korean Poultry Approved for Sale in U.S. Despite Bird Flu Outbreak

Photo credit: Demotix

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published a final rule that will allow the Republic of Korea to begin exporting poultry products to the U.S. 

Photo credit: Demotix

Food & Water Watch questions President Obama’s motivation behind allowing potentially diseased South Korean chickens to be sold in America’s supermarkets. Photo credit: Demotix

Most alarming is that Korean poultry flocks have become infected with various strains of avian influenza, prompting the Korean government to cull more than 11 million chickens and ducks in January in order to prevent the disease from spreading further. Recent reports have the disease afflicting other species and sickening dogs.

The rule becomes effective on May 27.

Food & Water Watch filed comments opposed to the rule when it was first proposed last January. In the comments, the environmental watchdog cited violations of U.S. food safety and inspection standards written by FSIS auditors who visited Korean poultry slaughter and processing facilities in 2008 and 2010.

In those audits, FSIS auditors found the following:

2008

Inspection activities were performed by company employees with no government oversight
Failure to implement and verify sanitation programs
Failure to implement and verify Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points requirements within the food safety regulatory system
FSIS staff was unable to visit Korean government laboratory facilities that conducted chemical and microbiological analyses of poultry products

2010

The Republic of Korea food safety authority did not provide adequate control …

for post-mortem inspection in the facilities that would be eligible to export to the U.S.
over the implementation of laboratory quality systems within its residue program.
over the implementation of laboratory control quality systems for its microbiological testing program for products destined for export to the U.S.

While the Republic of Korea acknowledged the deficiencies in the 2010 audit, there was no follow-up on-site verification conducted by FSIS to determine whether those issues had been properly addressed or not. Instead, FSIS relied on written assurances.

“We find the decision by FSIS to be irresponsible and surmise that it is trade related,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “This final rule may by a little goodie that the U.S. is using to entice South Korea to join Trans Pacific Partnership talks. Once again, it may yet be another instance of the Obama Administration allowing trade to trump food safety.”

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U.S. Farmers Increase Planting of GMO Corn Banned From China Markets

gmocorn

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) and Bunge Ltd., two of the world’s largest grain traders, are intent on increasing corn exports to China, however, U.S. farmers have plans of their own. 

gmocorn

The wide-scale planting of GMOs that aren’t approved by key importing countries will chip away at the competitiveness of U.S. grain and feed exports. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Six months after China started rejecting shipments of corn made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Bunge stated it wouldn’t accept deliveries of the variety developed by Switzerland’s Syngenta AG, reports Bloomberg.

ADM plans on testing the GMO corn, and may end up rejecting it as well. Regardless, farmers will soon begin planting the crop this spring due to its high yield for the U.S. market. 

Bloomberg reports:

Exporters and farmers going in two different directions on GMO corn underscores a new set of challenges faced by international agricultural commodity traders. Even as demand continues to grow in line with the global population, China and other countries have been slower than the U.S. to approve new types of crops amid concerns about food safety and threats to biodiversity from [GMOs]. China’s curbs on some modified corn threaten to block millions of tons of imports and in so doing cut into the profits of international trading houses.

“It’s a significant issue for major North American traders,” said Andrew Russell, a New York-based analyst for Macquarie Group who recommends buying ADM and Bunge shares. “Anything that puts Chinese growth potential at risk is a significant issue.”

Traders rerouting shipments originally destined for China to other markets may lose $30 to $50 a ton, said Tim Burrack, an Iowa corn and soybean farmer who’s also the former chairman of the U.S. Grains Council’s trade committee.

Bunge isn’t buying the Syngenta GMO corn, an insect-repelling variety known as Agrisure Viptera, or another modified variety from the Swiss company called Agrisure Duracade. On Feb. 21, ADM executives said they wouldn’t accept Duracade until the GMO is approved by China and other major importers. The company also hasn’t committed to Viptera.

The wide-scale planting of GMOs that aren’t approved by key importing countries will chip away at the competitiveness of U.S. grain and feed exports. 

Corn containing Duracade will be planted on 250,000 to 300,000 acres this spring, which will be harvested in the autumn, according to Reuters. 

ADM shares have dropped 1.9 percent this year in New York while Bunge has fallen by 4.2 percent. Syngenta has seen a 4.6 percent decline in Zurich.

As China cuts back on GMO imports, U.S. growers are seeking to boost yields to counter a 34 percent plunge in corn prices over the last year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has projected farm income will fall 27 percent over the course of 2014—a four-year low.

Since January, Syngenta has sold out of its Duracade variety, part of a broader trend toward modified crops.

However, that brings up another problem for farmers and traders. If different types of grain are not separated, then traders risk cross-contamination of non-GMO crops with crops containing modified organisms.

Even if farmers carefully separate their grain, such contamination can still occur in several ways, including inadvertent mixing and cross-pollination by bees or wind.

Ultimately, that’s a risk many farmers have come to accept as they plant Viptera and other strains in hopes of increasing their yield for the U.S. market. 

“While American farmers search for imaginary yield gains from GMOs, they need to be mindful of the fact that contamination of their neighbor’s organic and non-GMO fields will not be tolerated by our nation’s trading partners or the American public,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!.

——–

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World Health Organization Reports Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012

pollution

In new estimates released Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported about 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012.

pollution

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk as 1 in every 8 deaths is linked to it.

In particular, the new research reveals a stronger connection between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart disease, as well as cancer. The report also found air pollution plays a role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates used improved measurements and technology, enabling scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes both urban and rural areas.

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

airpoll

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director of General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, which shows the vast majority of air pollution deaths are tied to cardiovascular diseases.

Outdoor Air Pollution-Caused Deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

40 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
40 percent: Stroke
11 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
6 percent: Lung cancer
3 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children

Indoor Air Pollution-caused deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

34 percent: Stroke
26 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
22 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
12 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children
6 percent: Lung cancer

The estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were tabulated using a new global data mapping system, which incorporated satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements and data on pollution emissions from key sources, as well as modeling of how pollution drifts in the air.

Risk Factors Are Greater Than Expected

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves.

Regarding outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry,” said Dr Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to healthcare cost savings as well as climate gains. WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.” 

Later this year, WHO will release indoor air quality guidelines on household fuel combustion, as well as country data on outdoor and indoor air pollution exposures and related mortality, plus an update of air quality measurements in 1,600 cities from all regions of the world.

——–

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World Health Organization Reports Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012

pollution

In new estimates released Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported about 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012.

pollution

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk as 1 in every 8 deaths is linked to it.

In particular, the new research reveals a stronger connection between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart disease, as well as cancer. The report also found air pollution plays a role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates used improved measurements and technology, enabling scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes both urban and rural areas.

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

airpoll

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director of General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, which shows the vast majority of air pollution deaths are tied to cardiovascular diseases.

Outdoor Air Pollution-Caused Deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

40 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
40 percent: Stroke
11 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
6 percent: Lung cancer
3 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children

Indoor Air Pollution-caused deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

34 percent: Stroke
26 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
22 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
12 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children
6 percent: Lung cancer

The estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were tabulated using a new global data mapping system, which incorporated satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements and data on pollution emissions from key sources, as well as modeling of how pollution drifts in the air.

Risk Factors Are Greater Than Expected

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves.

Regarding outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry,” said Dr Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to healthcare cost savings as well as climate gains. WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.” 

Later this year, WHO will release indoor air quality guidelines on household fuel combustion, as well as country data on outdoor and indoor air pollution exposures and related mortality, plus an update of air quality measurements in 1,600 cities from all regions of the world.

——–

Related Content:

9 Chinese Cities Exceeded Beijing’s Abysmal 2013 Air Pollution Levels
Science on Trial: Big Oil Funds Attacks on EPA Air Pollution Standards
East Coast Sick of Midwest’s Cross-State Air Pollution

World Health Organization Reports Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012

pollution

In new estimates released Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported about 7 million people died as a result of air pollution exposure in 2012.

pollution

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk as 1 in every 8 deaths is linked to it.

In particular, the new research reveals a stronger connection between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and heart disease, as well as cancer. The report also found air pollution plays a role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

The new estimates used improved measurements and technology, enabling scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes both urban and rural areas.

Low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

airpoll

“Cleaning up the air we breathe prevents noncommunicable diseases as well as reduces disease risks among women and vulnerable groups, including children and the elderly,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO assistant director of General Family, Women and Children’s Health. “Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves.”

Included in the assessment is a breakdown of deaths attributed to specific diseases, which shows the vast majority of air pollution deaths are tied to cardiovascular diseases.

Outdoor Air Pollution-Caused Deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

40 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
40 percent: Stroke
11 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
6 percent: Lung cancer
3 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children

Indoor Air Pollution-caused deaths—Breakdown by Disease:

34 percent: Stroke
26 percent: Ischaemic heart disease
22 percent: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
12 percent: Acute lower respiratory infections in children
6 percent: Lung cancer

The estimates of people’s exposure to outdoor air pollution in different parts of the world were tabulated using a new global data mapping system, which incorporated satellite data, ground-level monitoring measurements and data on pollution emissions from key sources, as well as modeling of how pollution drifts in the air.

Risk Factors Are Greater Than Expected

“The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes,” said Dr Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “Few risks have a greater impact on global health today than air pollution; the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe.”

WHO estimates indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in 2012 in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves.

Regarding outdoor air pollution, WHO estimates there were 3.7 million deaths in 2012 from urban and rural sources worldwide.

“Excessive air pollution is often a by-product of unsustainable policies in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management and industry,” said Dr Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “In most cases, healthier strategies will also be more economical in the long term due to healthcare cost savings as well as climate gains. WHO and health sectors have a unique role in translating scientific evidence on air pollution into policies that can deliver impact and improvements that will save lives.” 

Later this year, WHO will release indoor air quality guidelines on household fuel combustion, as well as country data on outdoor and indoor air pollution exposures and related mortality, plus an update of air quality measurements in 1,600 cities from all regions of the world.

——–

Related Content:

9 Chinese Cities Exceeded Beijing’s Abysmal 2013 Air Pollution Levels
Science on Trial: Big Oil Funds Attacks on EPA Air Pollution Standards
East Coast Sick of Midwest’s Cross-State Air Pollution