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Want Babies? Eat Organic Produce – April 6, 2015

Pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables linked to poor semen quality, says study

For couples struggling with infertility issues, the list of probable causes can be long, running the whole gamut from genetics to age to sexually transmitted diseases. Now there’s one more to add to the list, at least in the case of men: their diet of conventionally produced fruits and veggies.

A new study shows that men who eat conventionally-grown produce with higher levels of pesticide residues — like peppers, spinach, strawberries, apples, and pears — have lower sperm counts and percentages of normally-formed sperm than those who eat produce with lower pesticide residues. (Check out my earlier report about the variations in pesticide exposure risk from conventional produce.)

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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Obama Administration’s New Rule to Govern Fracking on Federal Lands Draws Swift Criticism – March 20, 2015

Energy industry files lawsuit, environmentalists say rule falls short of what's needed to protect public health and safety

The Obama administration unveiled its first major federal regulation on fracking today and the backlash from the energy industry and its supporters was swift. Less than an hour of the announcement, two energy groups — the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance — filed a lawsuit challenging the rule, calling it “a reaction to unsubstantiated concerns.” Meanwhile, environmental groups say the rule falls short of providing Americans the protection they deserve.

Gas FlarePhoto by Sarah Craig/Faces of Fracking The rule, they point out, applies only to oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Which means, in regions like Pennsylvania,… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Pesticide Risk from Conventional Produce Varies Dramatically, New Study Shows – March 19, 2015

Consumer Reports analysis offers a risk guide for 48 fruits and vegetables; recommends organic produce

When it comes to shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables, I usually follow a very basic rule of thumb: For leafy greens, berries, and anything that grows in direct contact with the soil — like onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots — buy organic. For the rest, go with locally grown, even if it might not always be organic. The idea being to minimize exposure to toxic agricultural chemical residues as far as possible (and support the local farming economy). But it seems my method might not be quite as effective as I’d thought.

an array of vegetablesPhoto by Natalie MaynorThe researchers analyzed 12 years… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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USDA Has Approved GE Non-Browning Apples. Is the Public Ready for Them? – March 11, 2015

The gene silencing technique used to develop Arctic apples hasn’t been thoroughly studied, critics say

I’ve been eating a lot of apples these days, mostly as part of my daily serving of salad. The fruit slices offer a perfect crisp and juicy counterpoint to the softer greens. Usually, I pre-slice the apples for my lunch salad. The slight browning that occurs as the slices oxidize from being exposed to air has never bothered me, but evidently some consumers find it unappetizing. Every year tens of tons of apples end up in in the trash, much of it due to browning and bruising. So does that mean there’s a market for genetically modified apples that don’t brown when cut?

Woman at a table with an… <a href=more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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China Imposes One-Year Ban on Ivory Imports Following Mounting Criticism – February 26, 2015

Wildlife advocates hopeful, but say more needs to be done to save African elephants from being poached to extinction

A bit of positive news to end this week with: Yesterday, China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports. From the Associated Press:

"The State Administration of Forestry declared the ban in a public notice posted on its official site, in which it said the administration would not handle any import request.

"In an explanatory news report, an unnamed forestry official told the state-run Legal Evening News that authorities hope the ban would be a concrete step to reduce the demand for African tusks and to protect wild elephants. The official said the temporary ban would allow authorities to evaluate its effect on elephant protection before they can take… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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