This Week in Eco News - July 26, 2013

Here's what you need to know this week in food, water and energy news: New York's hospitals have a new wonder drug in Wholesome Wave's "veggie prescriptions" and the Gulf is host to another oily explosion. You can sign up to receive this dispatch via email each Friday (click here). And if you see a story you think we should share, drop us a line at [email protected]

Best of the Web Video - Food

What is Meatless Monday?

Going meatless once a week may reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.
Take Action
: Pledge to go meatless this Monday. Join the growing number of individuals, families and institutions pledging to improve their health and the health of our planet.


Poor Dietary Habits Killing People More Than Smoking

The Health and Metrics Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington identified the top ten risk factors for health loss in 2010 and the number of deaths attributable to each. Poor dietary habits ranked at the top of this list - and are responsible for over 200,000 more deaths than smoking, the next deadliest risk factor. [Food Safety News]

Meat Groups Sue USDA Over Meat Labeling Rule

Back in May, the USDA implemented new rules that require labels on packages of meat to identify the country in which the animal was born, raised and slaughtered as well as outlawed mixing cuts of meats from different countries in the same package. While this pleased many food safety advocates, environmentalists and farmers, it angered meat industry groups who are now suing the USDA because they don't want to have to tell you about the origins of your meat. [Associated Press]

Monsanto Withdraws Bids to Grow GMO Crops in Europe

Monsanto has basically given up all hope (for now) of selling GMO seeds in Europe due to overwhelming opposition. The EU's adamant resistance to GMO crops stands as a sad reminder of how American lawmakers roll out the red carpet for agro-giants and their controversial products. [Los Angeles Times]

Farmers Markets Become ''Pharmacies'' in NYC

Wholesome Wave has launched their Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program in New York City public hospitals. The program allows doctors and nutritionists to assess the health and nutritional habits of patients and families at risk for obesity and provide "prescriptions" to consume more fruits and vegetables to be purchased at farmers' markets. [WFUV]

EU Bans BASF Pesticide Over Bee Health Fears

As part of ongoing efforts to protect pollinators from agricultural poisons, the European Union is banning fipronil, another bee-endangering pesticide. Beekeepers and environmentalists in the US are currently suing the EPA in order to instate similar bans, but in the meantime American bees would be better off buzzing away to Europe. [Reuters]


A Clear Decision: Sydney Water Catchment Fracking Ruled Out For Now

Much as the largest US city - New York - bars fracking in its watershed, so too does Australia's biggest after a recent Sydney water authority prohibition. Unlike New York's fracking ban, Sydney's is only temporary and company that holds the drilling permits still wants the gas. [The Sydney Morning Herald]

DOE Study: Fracking Chemicals Didn't Taint Water

The preliminary results of an ongoing one-year Department of Energy study of a western Pennsylvania fracking site has found no evidence that frack fluid chemicals have migrated to shallow drinking water aquifers. Poorly constructed or faulty wells (as well as surface storage and handling of wastewater) are the most likely pathways to surface water and well water contamination by frack fluids. [AP]

Alaska Looks for Answers in Glacier's Summer Flood Surges

"The idea that glaciers change at a glacial speed is increasingly false" as global warming increases the speed of glacial melt around the world. In Juneau, Alaska, the rapid melt of the nearby Mendenhall Glacier is causing flooding, threatening people and homes along the Mendenhall River. [New York Times]

Funny story: An executive of the company that operates the burning rig also happens to head up an oil and gas industry association fighting against federal oversight. His group's rationale is that safety regulations "threaten to take our eye off the ball on what is really important."

Running Dry

Water treatment corporations, such as Dow and Siemens, are attempting to sell their technology in the developing world, where at least 800 million people don't have access to safe, clean water. These companies face problems of affordability, usability, poor energy supplies for infrastructure operation and variable weather from climate change. Plus, you know, the inability to make a profit. [Chemical & Engineering News]

Worse Floods Ahead for UK as Climate Warms, Say Scientists

A study on "atmospheric rivers" found that longer periods of heavy rain will make flooding more regular and severe in northwestern Europe, among other regions. As global warming causes more water vapor to saturate the atmosphere, higher rainfall (and thus flooding) is expected. [Guardian]


Report Lists Indian Point Among Reactors at 'Risk of Early Retirement'

According to a new study, there are 12 nuclear power plants across the country at high risk of being shut down based in a review of 11 risk factors such as the cost of safety retrofits and repairs, rising operating costs and competition from other energy sources. Among them: New York's Indian Point. [The Journal News]

Fight Over Gas Fracking Moves to the Coasts

With natural gas prices at an all-time low (for now) due to the fracking boom, energy companies are clamoring to build new liquefied natural gas terminals, or retrofit old ones, so they can sell their gas abroad. Hmm, didn't the argument in favor of fracking have something to do with domestic energy security? [Earth Island Journal]

'Nobody Understands' Spills at Alberta Oil Sands Operation

Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta - off bounds to the public and the media, by the way - have been ongoing for at least six weeks. A scientist working on the operation says the situation is chaos: "Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking." [Toronto Star]

Offshore Regulation Critic in Middle of Latest Gulf Well Blowout

Yet another offshore rig is burning in the Gulf of Mexico after an undersea natural gas well blew out. Funny story: An executive of the company that operates the burning rig also happens to head up an oil and gas industry association fighting against federal oversight. His group's rationale is that safety regulations "threaten to take our eye off the ball on what is really important." [Fuel Fix]

China Coal-Fired Economy Dying of Thirst as Mines Lack Water

The water and energy nexus is approaching crisis stage in China where there's a looming collision between the country's increasingly scarce supplies of water and its plan to power economic growth with coal. [Bloomberg]