No. 177, June 6-12, 2002


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Brown urges support for GM food labeling

Durham, North Carolina, May 30— Cynthia Brown, US Senate candidate for the Democratic Party primary in North Carolina, issued a statement today regarding federal legislation that would mandate labeling of all food products containing Genetically Engineered ingredients.

“This law is long-overdue,” said Brown. “Our Congress has waited until thousands of products on our supermarket shelves already contain ingredients that are not proven to be safe—ingredients that have been rejected by consumers in most European countries. I can only hope that our elected representatives will side with the American people on this one and not with Monsanto’s campaign contributions.”

The Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act of 2002 was recently introduced in the US House of Representatives by Rep. Dennis Kucinich and in the Senate by Sen. Barbara Boxer; it is one of a number of bills dealing with genetically modified foods being introduced in this session of Congress.

Candidate Brown worried, however, that the Right to Know bill’s effectiveness would be undercut by a provision of the Fast Track bill passed by the House of Representatives and under consideration in the Senate.

“This essential piece of information about our food may be taken away from us before the Right to Know law is even passed,” Brown warned. “If Fast Track passes in the Senate, labeling foods to indicate the presence or absence of GMOs [genetically modified organisms] will become illegal—they’re calling it a ‘barrier to trade’. You bet it is! People don’t want these ‘frankenfoods’ anywhere in the world. If consumers can avoid them, they do. So the biotech companies have spared no expense to make it illegal to tell consumers what they’re eating.”

A recent survey by North Carolina Citizens for Safe Food indicated that over 80% of Food Lion shoppers would buy food labeled as containing no Genetically Engineered ingredients.

Brown wished Kucinich and Boxer “all the support the American people and Congresspersons of conscience can give them,” but concluded, “we’ve got to stop Fast Track, or this law—however necessary—will be thrown out the minute it’s passed.”

Source: Statement by Cynthia Brown for Senate Campaign

NC groups call on Sen. Edwards to oppose Yucca Mtn. waste dump

Durham, North Carolina, May 30—A coalition of North Carolina citizens led by Durham City Councilwoman Tamra Edwards met with Senator John Edwards’ staff yesterday to express their staunch opposition to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear dump and to urge Edwards to vote against the Nevada site.

Pressure is growing on Edwards to express his views on Yucca Mountain as the debate over the proposed national high-level nuclear waste dump heats up. Nationally, attention is focusing on the North Carolina Democrat, who is widely viewed as a swing vote. Thus far, fourteen environmental and religious groups have signed on to a letter exhorting Edwards to vote against the dump. In a vote on Yucca in 2000, Edwards voted in favor of the dump, due, according to the Raleigh News and Observer (5/8/00) to lobbying from Carolina Power & Light’s executive vice president, William Orser.

“As an aspiring presidential candidate, Edwards’ vote on Yucca could be a harbinger of his upcoming national policy choices on both environmental and energy policy issues. Yucca Mountain is in step with the unsustainable, industry-driven policy of increased reliance on nuclear energy, and it is deeply incompatible with environmental protection,” said Nora Wilson, a project organizer with the North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network.

Last December, the General Accounting Office referred to the Yucca project as a “failed scientific process,” and stated that a site recommendation would be premature. Industry lobbying has intensified, and a Senate vote on Yucca Mountain could come as soon as late June. Citizens cited the hundreds of outlying technical and scientific questions about the project, as well as the risks associated with as many as 100,000 nuclear fuel rod shipments traveling across 44 states, as reasons for Edwards to vote against the repository.

Source: NC WARN

Conservationists support habitat protection for the Appalachian Elktoe mussel

By Charles Matthews and Missy Neff

Asheville, North Carolina, June 5 (AGR)—On Tues., June 4, approximately thirty people attended a public hearing in Erwin, Tennessee, to debate whether the United States Fish and Wildlife Service should designate critical habitat for the Appalachian Elktoe mussel in rivers and tributaries in which the mussel still survives.

A critical habitat is a specific geographic area that is essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species that may require special management and protection. The Appalachian Elktoe is an endangered mussel species that serves an important function in cleaning rivers and is generally considered an excellent measure of the overall aquatic health. The hearings were largely dominated by pro-environment forces, including five speakers from the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project (SABP).

A few opponents to the critical habitat designation voiced concerns about scientific uncertainties regarding the Elktoe along with fears of economic decline in affected areas provided such designation. Environmental groups and private citizens were quick to respond to these concerns by arguing that there are significantly more financial incentives to designate critical habitat for the Elktoe than not. Clean water -- which the Elktoe helps maintain -- would cost less money to purify, while bringing in greater recreational revenue, argued environmentalists.

One opponent to the critical habitat designation was Southern Appalachian Multiple-Use Council executive director Steve Henson. Henson portrayed environmentalists as radical extremists bent on driving down private land values. In the past he has gone as far as to equate environmental organizations and their actions to al-Qaida terrorists and the attacks of Sept. 11.

Terry Bagwell of the Nolichucky Outdoor Center spoke in favor of the critical habitat designation to water quality and tourism. Others offering support for the designation included East Tennessee State University botanist Tim McDowell, Marcy Reed of the Tennessee Committee for Wilderness Planning, and Francis Lambert of the Tennessee League of Women Voters.

Source: Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project


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