• Food Firms Launch Import Food Safety Effort

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top U.S. food companies, worried recent import scares may turn away customers, launched a plan on Tuesday to add teeth to existing safety guidelines and increase funding for bare-bones federal regulators.

    The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which includes leading companies like General Mills Inc., Cargill Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc. and Hershey Co., proposed the steps in a bid to ease fears stirred this year by reports of lead-laden toys and chemical-laced seafood and other goods imported into the United States, largely from China.

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  • Americans back Petraeus Troop Withdrawals, Oppose War

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans approve of U.S. plans for limited troop withdrawals from Iraq but are not more optimistic about the war after testimony last week from a top U.S. general, a new poll found on Tuesday.

    The poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press found modest improvements in public perceptions of the U.S. military effort in Iraq, with 41 percent saying it was going very or fairly well, up from 36 percent in July.

    The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, said in congressional testimony last week that President George W. Bush's troop build-up in Iraq had led to progress in reducing violence but that political reconciliation among warring factions remained elusive.

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  • Recalled Mattel Toys: 200 Times Legal Lead Limit

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Toymaker Mattel Inc's recent recalls involved toys that had nearly 200 times the amount of lead in paint as allowed by U.S. law, the company said in a letter released to a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

    The largest U.S. toymaker recalled millions of Chinese-made toys in August and September due to hazards from small powerful magnets and lead paint. Mattel's Fisher-Price unit recalled about 1.5 million toys because of excessive lead paint on the products based on popular characters from "Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer."

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  • Alzheimers Caregivers Sarifice Years Off Lifespan

    COLUMBUS , Ohio – The chronic stress that spouses and children develop while caring for Alzheimer's disease patients may shorten the caregivers' lives by as much as four to eight years, a new study suggests.

    The research also provides concrete evidence that the effects of chronic stress can be seen both at the genetic and molecular level in chronic caregivers' bodies.


    The findings, reported this month by researchers from Ohio State University and the federal National Institute of Aging, were published in the Journal of Immunology.

    These are the latest results from a nearly three-decade-long program at Ohio State investigating the links between psychological stress and a weakened immune status. Previous studies have examined medical students, newlyweds, divorced spouses, widows, widowers and long-married couples, in each case, looking for physiological effects caused by psychological stress.

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  • $10.5M Fine Over HGH Hormone For Celebrities

    BOSTON (AP) - A company that distributed human growth hormone to "well known athletes and entertainers" has agreed to pay a $10.5 million penalty and cooperate with law enforcement in ongoing investigations, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

    Under the terms of the agreement, Specialty Distribution Services Inc., a subsidiary of Express Scripts Inc., will not face prosecution for three years if it fully complies with terms of the agreement.

    Steve Littlejohn, a spokesman for St. Louis-based Express Scripts, said the company fully cooperated in the federal investigation and has already implemented procedures to prevent the illegal distribution of human growth hormone.
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  • Cell death in sparrow brains may provide clues in age-related human diseases

    A remarkable change takes place in the brains of tiny songbirds every year, and some day the mechanism controlling that change may help researchers develop treatments for age-related degenerative diseases of the brain such as Parkinson's and dementia.


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  • Arctic summer ice thickness halves to 1 meter

    OSLO (Reuters) - Large tracts of ice on the Arctic Ocean have halved in thickness to just 1 meter (3 ft) since 2001, making the region more accessible to ships, a researcher said on Tuesday.

    "There was loose ice everywhere we went," Ursula Schauer, leader of a scientific expedition aboard the Polarstern ice-breaker, told Reuters by telephone from the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia.

    "All of these areas have previously had two meters of ice," said Schauer, who works at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany, of a trip from Norway around the North Pole and back towards Russia. The last major survey was in 2001.

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  • African Leaders Urge Acceptance of Science & Technology

    Attitude and cultural tendencies are still major obstacles to knowledge transfer of science, technology and innovation (ST&I) in Africa and the rest of the developing world, say experts.

    The remarks were made by delegates on the opening day of a ST&I symposium in Mbarara, Uganda last week (14 September), a precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting taking place in the country in November.

    The event looked at the needs of society — particularly the private sector and industry — in relation to the scientific knowledge and human resources provided by the education sector.

    William Banage, of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences, said ST&I "goes beyond" just knowledge transfer between research institutions or north and south universities.


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  • Stevia Used in Japan, China and Brazil, But FDA Declares Herb "Unsafe"

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. health regulators warned Hain Celestial Group Inc about a potentially unsafe herb in some of its herbal teas, saying it might be dangerous to blood sugar, reproductive, cardiovascular and renal systems.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Hain dated August 17 calling the herb, a natural sweetener made from a South American herb called stevia, "an unsafe food additive." The agency released the letter on its Web site on Tuesday.

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  • How "Organic" Is Organic? New Calls For Testing Organic Foods For GMO's

    Should organics be tested for GMOs?
    A recent disturbing incident of GMO contamination of organic soybeans raises the question of whether organic foods should be tested for genetically modified material. The US National Organic Program (NOP) rules prohibit GMOs in organics but don’t require methods to prohibit GMO contamination or establish thresholds for adventitious GM presence. The Organic & Non-GMO Report asked organic industry experts if organics should be tested for GMOs.

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