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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Monsanto lobbyist swears pesticide safe enough to drink...until journalist offers him a glass

Lobbyists are known for talking a big game, and none have that reputation more than the ones who work for embattled chemical company Monsanto. But what happens when a journalist asks one to put his money where his mouth is? Cringeworthy results.

Monsanto has recently made headlines once again when a World Health Organization report found that the ingredient glyphosate was likely posing considerable risk to people.

According to the :

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in a report Friday that glyphosate was "probably carcinogenic" to humans. The agency said the chemical, used in more than 750 products made by Monsanto and other companies, has been found in water, air and food during spraying. But WHO said use of the weed killer is often low in areas where most of the public would face the greatest risk of exposure.

In the United States, Monsanto seems intent to keep exposure low, despite insisting that it's harmless. In other countries, particularly in undeveloped countries with lax regulations, the herbicide is used liberally and the health effects are beginning to become extremely worrying. A recent study found cases of cancer having doubled in a short time, just as the use of crop dusting and industrial-scale use of herbicides has skyrocketed. Sri Lankans have experienced similar problems. According to a study done by Rajarata University and the California State University, glyphosate was linked to a spike in kidney problems, as well as a host of other ailments.

In the fallout, Monsanto has gone on the offensive, issuing press releases and rallying their army of well-paid lobbyists in the hopes of killing the story.

In a clip released in anticipation of an upcoming french documentary about Monsanto, a flack hired by Monsanto to argue that the active ingredient in its Roundup weed killer products is harmless towards people is put on the spot. After towing the official line that Roundup is not raising the cancer rates in areas where it is used heavily, one such lobbyist Dr. Patrick Moore swore that Roundup was so safe that he would drink it and nothing would happen, leading to an amazing exchange between the interviewer and an increasingly frantic Moore.

"You can drink a whole quart of it and it won't hurt you."

"You want to drink some? We have some here."

"I'd be happy to, actually."

Within seconds of accepting, and perhaps realizing that the interviewer was dead serious, Moore has a crisis of conviction and backs away. "Not really," he demurs. "But I know it wouldn't hurt me."

The interviewer presses on. "If you say [it's safe], I have some."

"I'm not stupid," Moore answers.

According to Moore, people try to commit suicide with his products all the time but fail. (Not exactly a great sales pitch.) However, each time he is offered a glass of the "harmless" chemical, Moore panics. Sensing he is losing control of the narrative (and looking like a hypocrite), Moore gets angry and walks out of the interview, with a final comment that the interviewer was "a complete jerk."

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2 die and several injured following bear attack in India

Bear prints.

A 52-year-old estate worker who was attacked by a bear while attempting to save his wife from the animal at Kotagiri, died at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital on Wednesday, despite treatment.

On Monday, a wild bear mauled to death a 50-year-old woman, Mathi, at Thothamokke near Kotagiri. It also attacked two others, Halan (52) - husband of Mathi and Kumar (24), who tried to save the woman from the animal. Both of them were admitted to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital. But despite medical care, Halan died in the hospital on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the animal also attacked a forest watcher Karunamurthy and forester Stalin before being gunned down by forest officials. While Karunamurthy was admitted at CMCH, Stalin was admitted to a private hospital in the city.

According to hospital sources, Karunamurthy was admitted to the CMCH with a suspected bullet injury sustained while the bear was being shot by forest officials. However, scan reports revealed that he sustained injuries due to piercing of the bear's nails. He is currently undergoing treatment for the injury.

Sinkhole swallows garden sheds in Swanley, UK

The sink hole swallowed two sheds

The hole appeared in Swanley several days ago, but residents have said no repair plan has been put in place.

Joe Hutchings, of Oliver Road, said he saw his shed half-standing, and then he watched the whole structure collapse.

Thames Water said a sewer broke after the ground collapsed and it would work with Sevenoaks council to see what investigations could be carried out.

BBC reporter Zac Daunt-Jones said the hole was a few metres deep and about 6.5ft (2m) by 9.8ft (3m) across.

Gary Kent, who saw his shed and Mr Hutchings's shed fall in the hole last Thursday, said: "The bricks started becoming unsafe around the doorway and it's imploded on itself, and the next-door neighbour's shed's gone down there as well, plus all their contents."

Mr Kent said residents were left not knowing where to turn, and Mr Hutchings said nobody seemed to be willing to give them any advice.

In a statement, Thames Water said its sewer was in working order before the sink hole appeared, but the ground movement caused it to break.

It said: "We're very sympathetic to how worrying this situation must be, so we'll get in touch with the council to see what further investigations can be carried out."

Tornadoes hit Oklahoma, killing one person and injuring others

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The slow start to the nation's tornado season came to a violent end Wednesday, when tornadoes raked Tulsa during its evening rush hour, killing one person and injuring others.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Capt. Billy McKelvey said one person was killed in a mobile home park near suburban Sand Springs that was nearly destroyed Wednesday amid severe weather. It wasn't yet clear whether it was a tornado or straight-line winds that hit the park, which McKelvey said could accommodate 40 to 50 trailers. McKelvey said he believed at least 15 people were hurt, but he did not have an exact number yet.

"It could have been much worse," he said.

Tornadoes were seen elsewhere in Oklahoma, as well as in Arkansas, but no injuries were reported from those.

A small tornado swept across parts of Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb where 24 people died in a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado in 2013. Other twisters formed along a line from southwest of Oklahoma City to east of Tulsa, and some touched down in the Ozark Mountains of northwestern Arkansas.

Until Tuesday, when a waterspout formed over an Arkansas lake, the U.S. hadn't had a tornado in more than a month.

Television video Wednesday evening showed roof damage in a Moore neighborhood — the Moore storm two years ago scraped lots to their foundations. A glass door at the Tulsa building that houses the National Weather Service office was smashed, and several cars in the parking lot lost their windows.

Don Ruffin said he and a neighbor were at a convenience store in far southeast Moore when he saw the tornado approaching.

"I don't know how close it was to us, but it looked like it was coming toward us, and so we didn't take any chances," Ruffin said. "We got in our vehicles, ran home and got in our shelters."

Ruffin said after the storm passed, there were some fences knocked down and "patio furniture thrown everywhere."

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said statewide, nearly 80,000 power outages were reported. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said an overturned tractor-trailer had snarled traffic on Interstate 35, a major north-south route.

"Those troopers are working their guts out there right now," Lt. John Vincent said.

The tornado season usually ramps up for parts of the U.S. in March, but weather patterns funneled cold air into much of the country, depriving the atmosphere of the warm, moist air necessary to form bad storms for most of the month.

That all changed this week. Southerly winds pushed temperatures into the 70s and 80s across the Ozarks and Southern Plains, while weather fronts churned the air into Wednesday's storms.

Meteorologist Jeff Hood in Little Rock said a weak waterspout tornado briefly touched down in Bull Shoals Lake in Marion County in northwest Arkansas on Tuesday night. He said it will likely be classified an EF0 — the weakest tornado with wind speeds of 65 to 85 mph. A waterspout forms over water. The tornado never made it onto land, and there were no reports of damage.

"This will be the 'tornado' that breaks the drought for March," Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center, said before Wednesday's storms hit.

Before this week, only about two-dozen twisters had been recorded this year during a period when about 120 are typical. The last time the U.S. had no twisters in March was nearly 50 years ago, according to figures from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.