This Week in Eco News

Happy Friday! Here is a compilation of stories we followed this week. We circulate these internally and publish synopses throughout the week as Eco News, which you can find all week long — in real time — in the column to the right. You can also find them at this link, and you can sign up to receive them via email each Thursday. If you see a story you think we should include, drop us a line at [email protected].


Unmasking the No on Prop 37 Lies and Dirty Tricks
Big Ag knows that most Californians and in fact, most Americans, support the labeling of GMOs. In desperate attempts to mislead consumers into voting no on Proposition 3 the food industry has been putting out a slew of misinformation in the form of dirty lies and tricks about the GMO labeling initiative. [Organic Consumers]

Serving Science or Monsanto?
Last week, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released a “statement” on GMO labeling that sounds suspiciously supportive of pro-GM industry giants. They claim “mandating such a label can only serve to mislead and falsely alarm consumers.” Interesting that a scientific group would oppose transparency and consumer awareness. [Appetite For Profit]

McDonald’s 3rd-Quarter Net Income Falls, Hurt by Stronger Dollar
For the first time since 2003, McDonald’s global sales rose less than 2 percent, and its net income dropped almost 4 percent. CEO Don Thompson blamed the economy for the fast food giant’s lackluster performance, but he’s missing the point: consumers are becoming more aware McDonald’s bad practices, yet the company does not seem to think that’s reason enough to make significant changes to the nutritional value of its food or make a move to become more sustainable and conscious of animal welfare issues. [Washington Post]

Can Farms Bounce Back from Superstorms Like Sandy?
As the the east coast recovers from Sandy and as we assess the damage done to farms in the area, we should ask ourselves, "What does the rise of a hyper-volatile climate mean for farms — and our food supply?" [Mother Jones]

US EPA Fails to Protect Salmon from Dangerous Chemicals
Conservation groups and fisherman have filed lawsuits against the EPA, demanding that pesticide restrictions be implemented around salmon streams. The EPA is mandated by law to protect dwindling species like salmon under the Endangered Species Act, and while the agency has requested that chemical companies change their pesticide product labels voluntarily to include buffer requirements, Dow AgroSciences, Makhteshim Agan, and Cheminova have refused to take the request seriously. [Beyond Pesticides]

Study: Roundup and Other Pesticides Directly Linked to Parkinson’s, Neurodegenerative Disorders
A shocking study recently published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology shows that chronic exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup formula, the active ingredient of which is glyphosate, as well as too many other common pesticides and herbicides is one of the primary environmental factors responsible for causing neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons. [Natural News]

Did Farmers of the Past Know More Than We Do?
Modern industrial agriculture relies on a system of diminishing biodiversity and relentless consolidation – and it ravages soil, a complex organism that flourishes in response to diversity. The health of our food supply relies on healthy soil. It’s a truth our ancestors knew, and one that we must remember if we are to foster a more sustainable food system. [New York Times]

An Oyster in the Storm
Centuries of human abuse of New York’s harbor shores nearly destroyed thriving oyster kingdoms. Since the passing of the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, the harbor and waterways have been getting cleaner, so there is enough dissolved oxygen to support oyster life. However, a newly-introduced population is still budding – and storms like Sandy continue to flood our vulnerable shorelines. [New York Times]

Antibiotic Resistance Killing Off Bees
Yale researchers have a new theory on what may be causing the epidemic of honeybee die-offs: resistance to an important antibiotic called tetracycline, which is used to prevent colony-destroying infections and other bacterial diseases. [Yale Daily News]


Will San Diego Make the Desalination Mistake?
There are numerous reasons to think San Diego’s plan to build a desalination plant would be unwise, including environmental problems with brine, the huge energy requirements, continued unsustainable demand and the unwarranted high economic costs, among others. [Aguanomics]

US Pollution Case Tests International Law
Can a business operation located in a foreign country be held liable for water pollution in the United States? That premise will be tested when a federal court decides whether a defunct Canadian zinc smelter, whose parent company has acknowledged that the release of thousands of pounds of the heavy metal into the Columbia River ended up in a Washington State National Recreation Area. [AP]

Pennsylvania Report Left Out Data on Poisons in Water Near Gas Site
Several Pennsylvania landowners who say they were sickened by contaminated drinking water are suing the state. The landowners claim the Department of Environmental Protection deliberately withheld its knowledge of several known toxins found within water testing results. [New York Times]

Americans Favor Water Recycling, but There’s an "Ick Factor"
People in the United States care deeply about their water supply even if they don’t always know much about it, as one survey found. Enter drought and potential freshwater scarcity and most are willing to accept the use of highly treated recycled wastewater returned to their water supply, although the perception of disgust remains. [Reuters]

New Publication Sheds Light on Agricultural Water Use in Texas
Texas water use in agriculture has been steady since the 1970s, yet yields have grown greatly due to more efficient and productive use of irrigation water. Keep it up Texas! [PhysOrg]

Q&A: Pat Mulroy on Las Vegas and the Journey to Water Efficiency
One of the most important people in the American water landscape is Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Hear what she has to say about where water conservation and efficiency is headed and the fact that water solutions are more likely to resemble a “mosaic” rather than a “silver-bullet.” [Circle of Blue]

The Burly Men of UCCHM Raise Water Awareness
Because Southern California has a semi-arid climate and has been in the midst of a drought since 2005, some male water researchers of the University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM) are desperate to get their message of water conservation across so they “have decided to do something never done before to get our point across: STOP SHAVING.” (see the photos.) [Water 50/50 ]


How NYU Stayed (Partly) Warm and Lighted
When much of lower Manhattan was blacked out, most of New York University had light, heat and hot water. How? Last year the school installed a “cogeneration” unit, burning natural gas to make electricity but also using the heat that would otherwise go to waste for heating and cooling. Another example of energy efficiency’s big side benefit: reliability. [New York Times]

Michigan Proposal 3 : Voters Reject 25 by 25 Renewable Energy Mandate
Michigan voters rejected a proposal that would have amended the state’s constitution, requiring the state’s utilities to derive at least 25 percent of their annual electric retail sales from renewable sources by 2025. The utility-funded group that opposed the measure was called – irony alert – Clean Affordable Renewable Energy for Michigan. [MLive]

Coal’s Decline Forewarned
Coal production would boom if we just got rid of all those regulations, right?! Wrong. Analysts agree that much of the best coal in Southern West Virginia has already been mined, leaving thinner and lower quality seams, meaning production and productivity are dropping. [The Charleston Gazette]

Sandy: The Power Sector’s 9/11
Hurricane Sandy may very well be a dividing line between how the power industry operated in the past, and how it will operate in the future. Ultimately, power generation and the grid that manages that power must become more resilient. [Intelligent Utility]

Obama May Levy Carbon Tax to Cut US Deficit, HSBC Says
Rumors have been growing about the possibility of a carbon tax being introduced in the US. Now multinational bank HSBC says President Obama could consider a carbon tax to tackle greenhouse gas emissions and raise enough new revenues to cut the deficit in half by 2022. [Bloomberg]

Hurricane Sandy May Have Long-Term Impacts on Public Health
Maybe we should focus on public health as another aspect of the food, water and energy nexus? The effects of the power outage due to Hurricane Sandy brought up countless health problems: food spoilage, water supply contamination and interrupted access to routine medical care, for example. [E&E News]