Plastic packaging for most fruit and veggies banned in France

The ban came into effect on Saturday under new regulations that French President Emmanuel Macron’s government says are meant to phase out single-use plastics as pollution worsens globally.

Under the new rules, leeks and carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, apples and pears and about 30 other items can no longer be sold in plastic. Instead, they should be wrapped in recyclable materials…Plastic will still be allowed for more fragile fruits such as berries and peaches, but is to be gradually phased out in the coming years…

France’s packaging industry meanwhile said it was dismayed by the new rules, particularly a ban on the use of recycled plastics.

My response is mixed – at a minimum. Though it appears that producers of cardboard – easily recycled – are gearing up to pickup the changeover. In the same vein, I would expect paper which can be made translucent to become a replacement, as well.

A Turning Point.  For the First Time, Autonomous Drones Attacked Humans


Kargu-2 drones under production at STM, Ankara, Turkey

The world’s first recorded case of an autonomous drone attacking humans took place in March 2020, according to a United Nations (UN) security report detailing the ongoing Second Libyan Civil War. Libyan forces used the Turkish-made drones to “hunt down” and jam retreating enemy forces, preventing them from using their own drones.

The field report…describes how the Haftar Affiliated Forces (HAF), loyal to Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, came under attack by drones from the rival Government of National Accord (GNA) forces. After a successful drive against HAF forces, the GNA launched drone attacks to press its advantage. From the report:

Logistics convoys and retreating HAF were subsequently hunted down and remotely engaged by the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or the lethal autonomous weapons systems such as the STM Kargu-2 (above) and other loitering munitions. The lethal autonomous weapons systems were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect, a true “fire, forget and find” capability.

Drone experts have been dreading this moment while advocating for a ban on autonomous attack drones.

Once there is a ban on autonomous attack drones – after much breast beating and pledges of honesty – their use will continue. Of course.

This is, after all, a software question. The capacity for these drones to self-destruct after such a mission is often built-in. Once the command has been entered to hunt down and kill humans relying on the AI of the drone for decision-making, an additional command will be programmed-in instructing the drone to destroy itself afterwards. Starting with wiping the software.

Folks who knit, crochet, learn from gamers – ban support for Trump and his white supremacy ideology

❝ We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

❝ This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. If you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

❝ We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy

❝ Much of this policy was first written by a roleplaying game site, not unlike Ravelry but for RPGs, named RPG.net. We thank them for their thoughtful work.

I second that emotion.

Good News for Sharks


Click to enlarge

❝ The waters surrounding the South Pacific island nation of Samoa are prime habitat for nearly 30 species of sharks and rays, and today the government took a critical step toward protecting them. At a forum to celebrate the region’s history of strong shark conservation, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi announced that the country is designating all of its national waters a shark sanctuary—the 17th such sanctuary in the world.

The regulations ban commercial fishing and the possession, trade, and sale of sharks and shark products throughout Samoa’s 128,000-square-kilometer exclusive economic zone, and prohibits the use of fishing gear typically used to target sharks, such as wire leaders. Sharks are important to Pacific heritage and healthy marine ecosystems. Yet, at least 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed every year in commercial fisheries globally.

Overdue. And all credit to the nations who have made this decision. Healthy natural environments most often include predators as part of a wholistic balance. Why – in my case – I have long opposed any hunting of predators.

UK Parliament Speaker of the House bans Trump over racism and sexism

❝ U.S. President Donald Trump must not be allowed to address the U.K. Parliament during a state visit to Britain, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said.

❝ Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to visit the U.K., but there have been calls by lawmakers not to give the president the honor of addressing both houses of Parliament after he introduced a ban on people from some majority-Muslim countries traveling to the U.S.

❝ “Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall; after the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I’m even more strongly opposed,” Bercow told lawmakers.

“I feel very strongly our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”

❝ Bercow said he has a veto over a speech in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament, and would block one. And it would be a breach with tradition if Trump spoke in the Royal Gallery behind the Lords without his name on the invitation, he said.

“An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor,” Bercow said. “There are many precedents for state visits to take place to our country that do not include an address to both houses of Parliament.”

Now, we just need to get Congress up to the same standard.

FDA says no more medically important antibiotics for livestock — Finally!


Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock

A new rule that aims to safeguard essential antibiotics for humans by limiting their use in food animals is now fully in effect.

Under the Food and Drug Administration policy, antibiotics that have been designated “medically important” — in other words, they’re needed to treat people — cannot legally be given to healthy animals to speed their growth. The policy, three years in the making, required producers of agricultural antibiotics to change labeling on the drugs to make clear they should not be used for so-called growth promotion. All manufacturers agreed to abide by the new rule.

The policy also requires that from now on, food animals can only be given medically important drugs under the supervision of a veterinarian — a move designed to restrict their use to the treatment of animal illnesses.

An FDA report on antibiotic use in food-producing animals released just before Christmas revealed that sales of medically important antibiotics rose by 2 percent in 2015, and that from 2009 to 2015 sales of these drugs to the food animal sector increased by 26 percent. The increased sales in 2015 could be the result of a commensurate rise in food animals produced — but critics of the heavy use of these drugs in agriculture note sales haven’t come down…

Scientists and public health professionals have long warned that the increasing use of antibiotics in the rearing of food animals such as chickens, pigs and cattle, and farmed fish and seafood is fueling a rise in so-called superbugs — bacteria capable of evading the drugs.

That puts at risk procedures that have revolutionized modern medicine. Organ transplants, cardiac bypass surgeries, even safe caesarean section births are an accepted part of medical practice but could become much more dangerous to perform if superbugs continue to proliferate…

As things currently stand, antibiotics can be used to prevent illness, which can also lead to prolonged use. Advocates for more judicious use of antibiotics in agriculture argue that this is growth promotion by another name. They insist disease prevention goals should be achieved through better and more humane production practices that reduce the disease risks associated with factory farming.

And, so, the battle is won; but, not the war. Humane, healthy conditions for livestock are important to the health of consumers in more ways than one. Most reasonable, informed people know this. Politicians and their appointees invoke the ever-present American god of sophistry to pretend otherwise.

Another magic bullet is going away — “antibacterial soaps” will disappear

If you’ve been spending your hard-earned money on fancy antibacterial soaps in the hopes that they’ll keep you clean and healthy, you may want to stop.

The US Food and Drug Administration just released a new, exhaustive report and ruling that there’s actually no good evidence they perform any better than plain old soap and water when it comes to preventing illness or the spread of bacteria and viruses.

What’s more, the agency is banning companies from using 19 common “antibacterial” chemicals — such as triclosan and triclocarban — in products going forward…Manufacturers have a year to reformulate products or remove ones with these chemicals from the market.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term…”

The FDA noted that the ban won’t apply to consumer hand “sanitizers” or wipes, as well as antibacterial products used in health care settings.

Another cash cow created by the “healthiness” industry bites the big one. But, cheer up. Some other health fad will come along. The same old profiteers and maybe a couple new entrepreneurs will “clean up” from consumers who continue to believe there’s always another magic cure ready to be discovered. For just pennies a day.

FDA ban on e-cigarette sales to minors started this week

The US Food and Drug Administration officially started regulating the sale of e-cigarettes on the 8th. Following a ruling that was finalized back in May, the agency now considers e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other related electronic devices “tobacco products,” and will henceforth ban sales to anyone under the age of 18.

Retailers are now banned from selling e-cigarettes to minors.

Going forward, retailers will need to treat e-cigs the same way they treat cigarettes and cigars, verifying the customer’s age against their photo ID. Meanwhile, most manufacturers will need to verify with the FDA that their products don’t carry any additional health risks. The regulations are outlined in the Tobacco Control Act of 2009, which governs the sale of tobacco products to minors.

Overdue.

Drinking water in three Colorado cities contaminated with toxic chemicals

Invisible toxic chemicals are contaminating drinking water for 80,000 people south of Colorado Springs, one of 63 areas nationwide where the chemicals, widely used to fight petroleum fires, have been measured at levels the EPA deems dangerous.

These perfluorinated chemicals rank among the worst in an expanding multitude of unregulated contaminants that federal scientists are detecting in city water supplies, including hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and anti-depressants. Perfluorinated chemicals don’t break down. Boiling water won’t get rid of them.

Military airfields are suspected by Colorado health investigators as a point where the chemicals seeped into the Fountain Creek watershed north of Widefield, Fountain and Security. Air Force officials told The Denver Post it’s too early to tell.

It has reached the point where the water in all 32 of the Security Water and Sanitation District’s municipal wells is contaminated with PFCs at levels exceeding an EPA health advisory limit of 70 parts per trillion. At one well, PFCs have hit 1,370 ppt, federal data show — nearly 20 times higher than the limit. EPA officials recommended that pregnant women and small children should not drink local water

Prolonged exposure to perfluorinated chemicals is linked to health harm: developmental damage to fetuses during pregnancy, low birth weight, accelerated puberty and distorted bones. The EPA advisory also linked the chemicals to kidney and testicular cancer, liver tissue damage, impaired production of antibodies and cholesterol changes.

Perfluorinated chemicals aren’t regulated under any national water standard, although Vermont and New Hampshire have launched state-level action. Colorado has not.

RTFA for lots more scary details. Colorado’s version of Flint, Michigan.

FDA proposes an end to powdered latex gloves

Prostate-exam

Most powdered gloves would be banned in the U.S. under an FDA proposal announced Monday.

“While use of these gloves is decreasing, they pose an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury to healthcare providers, patients, and other individuals who are exposed to them, which cannot be corrected through new or updated labeling.”

The FDA explained that the powder on latex gloves (but not synthetic gloves) can become aerosolized and carry allergenic proteins. These contribute to airway allergic reactions, surgical adhesions, and wound inflammation.

Such a ban would not create a shortage and the economic impact would be insignificant, the FDA determined after reviewing the scientific literature and analyzing comments on a 2011 notice indicating the agency’s concerns.

The ban would not apply to powdered radiographic protection gloves, and unpowdered gloves of all kinds would remain unaffected.

Wow. Such dynamism. Only took the FDA 5 years to do this, eh?