Monday, June 30, 2008


Gardeners have been warned not to eat home-grown vegetables contaminated by a powerful new herbicide that is destroying gardens and allotments across the UK. The Royal Horticultural Society has been inundated with calls from concerned gardeners who have seen potatoes, beans, peas, carrots and salad vegetables wither or become grossly deformed. The society admitted that it had no idea of the extent of the problem, but said it appeared 'significant'. The affected gardens and allotments have been contaminated by manure originating from farms where the hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid has been sprayed on fields. Dow AgroSciences, which manufactures aminopyralid, has posted advice to allotment holders and gardeners on its website. Colin Bowers, Dow's UK grassland marketing manager, told The Observer that links to their products had been proved in some of the cases, but it was not clear whether aminopyralid was responsible for all of them and tests were continuing. 'It is undoubtedly a problem,' he said, 'and I have got full sympathy for everyone who is involved with this.' He said the company was unable to advise gardeners that it was 'safe' to consume vegetables that had come into contact with the manure because of pesticide regulations. 'All we can say is that the trace levels of aminopyralid that are likely to be in these crops are of such low levels that they are unlikely to cause a problem to human health.' Guardian

China's recent plastic bag ban has been immediately accepted by consumers. In a country where billions of plastic bags are used each day, the government's top-down policy move will likely benefit the country's environment and energy security well before market forces or consumer-led efforts are able to achieve similar impact. . . Shoppers have embraced the ban without significant complaint, despite sacrificing some degree of shopping convenience. Older generations have reminiscently turned back to the woven baskets or plain cloth bags they used before plastic alternatives entered the Chinese market in the 1980s. Younger people are busy checking out online shops for more fashionable "eco-friendly" bags. Those who do pay for plastic bags are trying to buy as few as possible, foregoing the long-engrained perspective of "better more than fewer" prevalent before the ban. ENN

Municipal governments, police departments and school districts are tightening their belts as the budgets local taxpayers fill get stretched by high fuel costs, the Los Angeles Times reports. . . . In suburban school districts like Seattle's Northshore district, school bus routes are being cut, or children are being asked to walk farther to their bus stops so the bus has to make fewer stops and squeeze a few more miles to the gallon. Diesel, which runs most school buses, has been at or near all-time high prices per gallon, and currently sits at an average of about $4.76 a gallon. Gasoline prices hit a new record, of nearly $4.09 a gallon, and that has some police departments eliminating patrols or even putting their beat cops in golf carts to save on fuel. Daily Green

Kenya's Tana River Delta, inhabited by 350 species of birds, lions, elephants, rare sharks and reptiles, is about to be converted to sugar cane production over the objections of conservationists and local communities. The Kenyan government has approved a proposal by a publicly traded company based in Nairobi to covert 2,000 square kilometers of the pristine delta into irrigated sugarcane plantations. ENS