Category Archives: Ecology

Mississippi Bans Meat-Related Names for Vegetarian Product Labels

Mississippi Bans Meat-Related Names for Vegetarian Product Labels


Source: miikkahoo, “Veggie Burger with Zucchini/Feta/Pea Patty,” wikimedia.org, June 13, 2018

A new law in Mississippi (SB 2922) bans the use of certain descriptive words traditionally associated with meat products on labels for vegetarian and vegan plant-based products. As of July 1, 2019, words such as “burger” and “hot dog” can only be used if the product is made of animal meat. That means the name “veggie burger” is no longer permitted on labels for plant-based patties. The ban also applies to food made from insects and meats made in a lab from cultured animal cells (as opposed to slaughtered livestock).

Andy Berry, Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President, stated last year, “We’re concerned about how those products are labeled… People have a choice, and we don’t want them to be mislead or maybe even tricked into buying something that is ‘meat’ that has no meat in it.” The new law is meant to protect consumers from confusion and manufacturers from unfair competition with plant-based products, according to proponents.

The ban is being challenged in court by the Institute for Justice and the Plant Based Foods Association, among other groups. Missouri passed a similar law in 2018, which is also being challenged in court as a First Amendment violation by groups including the Good Food Institute and the ACLU.

Jessica Almy, Director of Policy at the Good Food Institute, said, “There is no evidence that consumers are confused by plant-based bacon or veggie burger labels, and federal laws are already in place that prohibits consumer deception. This law is a tremendous overstep of state powers.”

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson defended the law, saying, “It’s not a free speech violation to require the truth in consumer products. And to claim that something is meat that isn’t meat is not true.”

A US District Court in California previously ruled that consumers were not being tricked into mistaking plant-based products for animal-based products in a 2013 case regarding the use of the word “milk.” The ruling stated, “The crux of the claims is that a reasonable consumer might confuse plant-based beverages such as soymilk or almond milk for dairy milk, because of the use of the word ‘milk.’ The Court finds such confusion highly improbable because of the use of the words ‘soy’ and ‘almond.’ Plaintiffs essentially allege that a reasonable consumer would view the terms ‘soymilk’ and ‘almond milk,’ disregard the first words in the names, and assume that the beverages came from cows. The claim stretches the bounds of credulity.”

Vegan and vegetarian products have come under labeling scrutiny in other places as well. In Canada, Blue Heron Creamery can no longer use the word “cheese” for their plant-based dairy-free products as of Feb. 2019. Words like Cheddar and chèvre are also prohibited. A German court ruled similarly against cheese-substitute manufacturer TofuTown in 2016. In the European Union, “veggie burgers” may soon be called “veggie discs” following the European parliament’s agriculture committee approval of a ban on using meat-related terminology on vegetarian food.

Sales of plant-based “meats” increased 42% from 2016 to 2019; the market for these products is worth an estimated $12.1 billion in 2019 and could reach $27.9 billion by 2025. Beyond Meat, a plant-based food manufacturer, almost doubled its net revenue from $32.6 million in 2017 to $87.9 million in 2018. Fast food restaurants such as Burger King and Del Taco now offer plant-based “fake meat” substitutes in some locations.

 


Sources:

AP, “Mississippi Lawmakers Have Real Fears about ‘Fake Meat,'” wreg.com, Mar. 4, 2019

Daniel Boffey, “‘Veggie Discs’ to Replace Veggie Burgers in EU Crackdown on Food Labels,” theguardian.com, Apr. 4, 2019

CaseText.com, “Ang v. Whitewave Foods Co.,” casetext.com, Dec. 10, 2013

Melissa Kravitz, “Should Plant-Based Proteins Be Called ‘Meat,'” salon.com, Dec. 22, 2018

LegiScan, “Mississippi Senate Bill 2922 (Adjourned Sine Die),” legiscan.com (accessed July 8, 2019)

Baylen Linnekin, “Mississippi Sued for Awful ‘Veggie Burger’ Ban,” reason.com, July 6, 2019

Alex Lowery, “Fake Meat Bill Passes House, Heads to Senate,” msfb.org, Jan. 25, 2019

Bettina Makalintal, “Vegan Creamery Can’t Call Its Product ‘Cheese’ Anymore,” vice.com, Feb. 21, 2019

MarketsandMarkets, “Plant-based Meat Market Worth $27.9 Billion by 2025 – Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™,” prnewswire.com, May 23, 2019

Niamh Michail, “German Court Rules against ‘Vegan Cheese’- but What Should Plant-Based ‘Alternatives’ Be Called?,” dairyreporter.com, Apr. 28, 2016

Sarah Min, “Beyond Meat Stock Price More than Doubles as Fake Meat Company Goes Public,” cbsnews.com, May 2, 2019

Sarah Min, “Fake-meat Fans Sue Mississippi over Labeling Rules for ‘Meat,'” cbsnews.com, July 3, 2019

Kelsey Piper, “Mississippi Is Forbidding Grocery Stores from Calling Veggie Burgers ‘Veggie Burgers,'” vox.xom, July 3, 2019

Kate Welsh, “Vegan ‘Meat’ Shouldn’t Be Called Meat, According to Meat Lobby,” myrecipes.com, Feb. 7, 2018



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It's time for energy freedom in Alabama

It's time for energy freedom in Alabama



Alabama is ranked 13th in the nation as having the greatest solar potential, yet only 0.26% of its energy comes from solar, leaving the state far behind others when it comes to total installed solar capacity. According to an annual report produced by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Alabama ranked 29th in the United States for solar production in 2018. Solar in the Southeast, a blog dedicated to highlighting the ever-growing southeastern solar market, reported Alabama as ranking dead last in the seven-state southeastern region. By failing to adopt more solar, and other clean energy technologies, Alabama is missing out on lower energy prices, increased jobs in the solar economy, cleaner air and water, and a more resilient power infrastructure that protects our communities.



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Climate Change Threatens 38% of World’s Primates

Climate Change Threatens 38% of World's Primates


A ring-tailed lemur eats grass. This primate is endangered and lives in Madagascar.

A June 17, 2019 study published in Nature Climate Change found that 38% of primates are threatened by climate change, including lemurs, langurs, and orangutans.

The researchers found that these animals are threatened by extreme weather conditions caused by rising temperatures related to climate change. 16% of the primates are endangered by cyclones, especially those in Madagascar, and 22% are endangered by droughts, especially in the Malaysia Peninsula, North Borneo, Sumatra, and West Africa.

Among the 607 types of primates examined by the peer-reviewed study, 100 types were vulnerable to cyclones, 134 were impacted by droughts, and 19 were troubled by both cyclones and drought.

Over 90% of the primates threatened by cyclones and 65% of those vulnerable to drought were listed as “threatened with extinction” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Twenty-three species impacted by cyclones are “critically endangered,” and 26 are vulnerable to drought.

The study stated, “As the pressures exerted by extreme climatic events on primates are not preventable or controllable, it is critical to maintain primate populations’ resilience to catastrophic mortality and habitat loss caused by these events.” Ways to do this include creating sustainable land-use projects to limit conflicts between primate and humans and strategies to improve human living conditions to reduce illegal hunting of primates.

 



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Zoos – Top 3 Pros and Cons


 

Pro 1

Zoos educate the public about animals and conservation efforts. As of Apr. 2019, there are 236 accredited zoos in the United States. The zoos attract over 181 million visitors annually, which is more than the approximately 131 million yearly spectators of the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB combined.

According to a study of 26 zoos worldwide published in Conservation Biology, visitors to zoos increased their knowledge of biodiversity and specific individual actions to protect biodiversity.

Robin Ganzert, PhD, President and CEO of American Humane, stated, “zoos provide people, especially impressionable children, with the opportunity to see these remarkable animals up close. People won’t protect what they don’t love, and they can’t love what they don’t know. No matter how closely programs like Planet Earth depict animals, nothing will match the bond of seeing them in real life. Just look at a child’s eyes at the zoo when he or she encounters a tiger or similarly majestic animal.”

Con 1

Zoos don’t educate the public enough to justify keeping animals captive. A review published in Animal Studies Repository concluded, “to date there is no compelling or even particularly suggestive evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, and interest in conservation in visitors.” Even a study widely cited to justify the argument that zoos educate the public stated, “there was no overall statistically significant change in understanding [of ecological concepts] seen” because visitors know a lot about ecology before going to the zoo.

TV shows such as Planet Earth bring wild animals into living rooms, allowing people to see the animals in their natural habitats without causing harm to animals such as the endangered snow leopard. Romesh Ranganathan, a British comedian, stated, “It still slightly surprises me that anybody thinks that we should have zoos at all. The animals always look miserable in captivity… [T]he idea that kids only get excited about things they can see in the flesh is ridiculous. My kids are obsessed with dinosaurs that no longer exist, and Skylanders, which have never existed.”

Pro 2

Zoos produce helpful scientific research. 228 accredited zoos published 5,175 peer-reviewed manuscripts between 1993 and 2013. In 2017, 173 accredited US zoos spent $25 million on research, studied 485 species and subspecies of animals, worked on 1,280 research projects, and published 170 research manuscripts.

Because so many diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans, such as Ebola, Hantavirus, and the bird flu, zoos frequently conduct disease surveillance research in wildlife populations and their own captive populations that can lead to a direct impact on human health. For example, the veterinary staff at the Bronx Zoo in New York alerted health officials of the presence of West Nile Virus.

Zoo research is used in other ways such as informing legislation like the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act, helping engineers build a robot to move like a sidewinder snake, and encouraging minority students to enter STEM careers.

Con 2

Zoos are detrimental to animals’ physical health. A study of 35 species of carnivores, including brown bears, cheetahs, and lions, found that zoo enclosures were too small for the animals to carry out their normal routines, which led to problems such as pacing and more infant deaths. Polar bears, for example, had an infant mortality rate of 65% due to small enclosures.

About 70% of adult male gorillas in North America have heart disease, the leading cause of death among gorillas in captivity, although the condition is almost completely absent in the wild. Other great apes have similar health problems in captivity.

Captive elephants live about half as long as wild elephants: 18.9 years v. 41.7 years for Asian elephants and 16.9 years v. 35.8 years for African elephants. Of 77 elephants in 13 zoos, 71 were overweight and spent 83% of their time indoors, contributing to early death.

Pro 3

Zoos save species from extinction and other dangers. Corroboree frogs, eastern bongos, regent honeyeaters, Panamanian golden frogs, Bellinger River snapping turtles, golden lion tamarins, and Amur leopards, among others, have also been saved from extinction by zoos.

Zoos are also working to save polar bears, tigers, and wild African elephants from habitat loss, apes and rhinos from poachers, dolphins and whales from hunters, and bees and butterflies from population declines, among many other efforts to help many other animals.

23% of birds and 47% of small mammals (weighing less than about 2.2 pounds) are negatively impacted by climate change. By keeping populations of animals and conducting wild repopulation, zoos can help preserve species in danger from climate change. There were only nine California condors in the wild in 1985. A joint conservation effort between the San Diego and Los Angeles Zoos with other organizations resulted in a population of 276 California condors in the wild and another 170 in captivity by 2016.

Przewalski’s horses, the last wild horses, were declared extinct in the wild in the 1960s when about 12 lived in zoos. By 2018, breeding programs at zoos increased the number to 2,400 horses, and 800 were reintroduced to the wild.

Con 3

Zoo confinement is psychologically damaging to animals. Animal behaviorists often see zoo animals suffering from problems not seen in the wild, such as clinical depression in clouded leopards and gibbons, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in brown bears, and anxiety in giraffes. The animals experience these issues due to smaller enclosures, changes in diet and activities, and the introduction of things not seen in the wild, such as medical exams and people with cameras. The Toledo Zoo ran a psychiatric program in which a gorilla with premenstrual depression was prescribed Prozac. To ease them into new habitats, an agitated tiger was given Valium, and anxious zebras and wildebeests were given Haldol.

A study of captive chimpanzees found that “abnormal behaviour is endemic in the population,” and includes behaviors such as eating feces, twitching, rocking back and forth, plucking hair, pacing, vomiting, and self-mutilation, among others. The study concluded that the cause of such behavior could be mental health issues.

About 24% of captive orcas have “major” to “extreme” tooth wear and 60% had tooth fractures as a result of stress-induced teeth grinding. As a result of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which exposed the psychological damage done to orcas by SeaWorld, California outlawed captive orca breeding.

 

Footnotes:

  1. National Geographic, “Zoo,” nationalgeographic.org (accessed May 8, 2019)
  2. Schönbrunn Palace, “Zoo,” schoenbrunn.at (accessed Apr. 23, 2019)
  3. CBC, “Trapped in a Human Zoo,” cbc.ca, (accessed Apr. 23, 2019)
  4. Krista Langlois, “Something Mysterious Is Killing Captive Gorillas,” theatlantic.com, Mar. 5, 2018
  5. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Currently Accredited Zoos and Aquariums,” aza.org, Apr. 2019
  6. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Visitor Demographics,” aza.org (accessed May 7, 2019)
  7. Maury Brown, “Why MLB Attendance Dropped below 70 Million for the First Time in 15 Years,” forbes.com, Oct. 3, 2018
  8. NHL, “NHL Attendance (1975-76 through 2018-2019),” records.nhl.com (accessed May. 7, 2019)
  9. NBA, “NBA Breaks All-Time Attendance Record for Fourth Straight Year,” nba.com, Apr. 12, 2018
  10. Brandon McClung, “NFL Attendance Lowest since ’10 Despite Chargers Rebound,” sportsbusinessdaily.com, Jan. 2, 2019
  11. Andrew Moss, Eric Jensen, and Markus Gusset, “Evaluating the Contribution of Zoos and Aquariums to Aichi Biodiversity Target 1,” Conservation Biology, Aug. 22, 2014
  12. Robin Ganzert, “Zoos Save Species — Visit One This World Wildlife Day,” thehill.com, Mar. 3, 2018
  13. Tse-Lynn Loh, et al., “Quantifying the Contribution of Zoos and Aquariums to Peer-Reviewed Scientific Research,” facetsjournal.com, Mar. 15, 2018
  14. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Research and Science,” aza.org (accessed May 7, 2019)
  15. C. Robinette, L. Saffran, A. Ruple, and S.L. Deem, “Zoos and Public Health: A Partnership on the One Health Frontier,” One Health, Nov. 23, 2016
  16. Taronga Conservation Society Australia, “10 Endangered Species Saved from Extinction by Zoos,” medium.com, May 18, 2017
  17. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “AZA and Animal Program Conservation Initiatives,” aza.org (accessed Apr. 17, 2019)
  18. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Pollinator Conservation,” aza.org (accessed Apr. 17, 2019)
  19. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Climate Change and Wildlife,” aza.org (accessed Apr. 17, 2019)
  20. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Marine Mammal Conservation,” aza.org (accessed Apr. 17, 2019)
  21. Michela Pacifici, et al., “Species Traits Influenced Their Response to Recent Climate Change,” nature.com, 2017
  22. Association of Zoos & Aquariums, “Conservation Success Stories in AZA-Accredited Zoos and Aquariums,” aza.org, Apr. 20, 2017
  23. US Fish & Wildlife Service, “California Condor Population Information,” fws.gov, May 7, 2018
  24. Jan Flemr, “Long Way Home as Przewalski’s Horses Fly to Mongolia,” phys.org, July 19, 2018
  25. Jane Palmer, “The World’s Last Truly Wild Horse,” bbc.com, Nov. 11, 2015
  26. Lori Marino, et al., “Do Zoos and Aquariums Promote Attitude Change in Visitors? A Critical Evaluation of the American Zoo and Aquarium Study,” animalstudiesrepoistory.org, 2010
  27. John H. Falk, et al., “Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter: Assessing the Impact of a Visit to a Zoo or Aquarium,” docplayer.net, 2007
  28. Romesh Ranganathan, “Zoos Are Prisons for Animals — No One Needs to See a Depressed Penguin in the Flesh,” theguardian.com, Mar. 13, 2017
  29. Edna Francisco, “Zoo Carnivores Need More Space,” sciencemag.org, Oct. 1, 2003
  30. Ian Sample, “Stress and Lack of Exercise Are Killing Elephants Zoos Warned,” theguardian.com, Dec. 11, 2008
  31. Alex Halberstadt, “Zoo Animals and Their Discontents,” nytimes.com, July 3, 2014
  32. Daniel Engber, “The Tears of a Panda,” slate.com, Sep. 14, 2006
  33. Jenni Laidman, “Zoos Using Drugs to Help Manage Anxious Animals,” toledoblade.com, Sep. 12, 2005
  34. Lucy Birkett and Nicholas E. Newton-Fisher, “How Abnormal Is the Behavior of Captive, Zoo-Living Chimpanzees?,” journals.plos.org, June 16, 2011
  35. John Jett, et al., “Tooth Damage in Captive Orcas,” sciencedirect.com, May 2018
  36. Natasha Daly, “Orcas Don’t Do Well in Captivity. Here’s Why,” nationalgeographic.com, Mar. 25, 2019
  37. Shelby Isaacson, “Mote Ranked No. 1 Nonprofit in Published Research by Top Zoos and Aquariums,” mote.org, Apr. 4, 2018
  38. Zoo Atlanta, “Representative Research,” zooatlanta.org (accessed May 8, 2019)
  39. Bronx Zoo, “Bridging the Gap,” bronxzoo.com (accessed May 8, 2019)



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Permanent Daylight Saving Time Considered by States

Permanent Daylight Saving Time Considered by States


Permanent daylight saving time means that when clocks are adjusted to “spring forward” by an hour from March to November, they would never “fall back,” thus creating more sunlight in the evening hours.

A permanent daylight saving time (DST) bill, HB 1196, was signed into law in Washington state on May 8, 2019. The law would enact DST year-round if Congress were to amend the Uniform Time Act to allow the change. Currently, states may opt-out of the time change only if they remain on standard time all year. Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states that stay on standard time throughout the year, so residents never change their clocks.

Many other states are considering similar laws or appeals to Congress, including California, New York, and Texas. In Illinois, a group of high school students lobbied State Senator Andy Manar (D) to introduce SB 533 to end daylight saving time after learning about the issue in civics class.

Bills to move to permanent daylight saving have died in Idaho, Mississippi, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming this year.

At the federal level, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL), and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced the Sunshine Protection Act on Mar. 6, 2019, which would switch the whole country to permanent DST. Florida enacted a permanent DST law in 2018, the first state to do so. In a Mar. 15, 2019 opinion piece, Rubio and Buchanan noted that permanent DST could benefit the economy, lower health risks, and reduce crime.

Heidi May Wilson, a spokesperson for the National Parent Teacher Association, stated, “National PTA is opposed to daylight saving time during the winter months because of the safety factor.” Not changing the clocks in the fall would make winter mornings even darker and colder for kids walking to school or the bus stop.

Internationally, the European Union (EU) got rid of the twice-yearly time switch, and will allow member states to choose to stay on “permanent winter” or “permanent summer time,” essentially standard time and daylight saving time respectively, in 2021.

In 2019, DST runs from Sunday, Mar. 10 to Sunday, Nov. 3 in the United States.

 


Sources:

Joel Achenbach, “Springing forward to Daylight Saving Time Is Obsolete, Confusing and Unhealthy, Critics Say,” washingtonpost.com, Mar. 8, 2019

Ballotpedia, “California Proposition 7, Permanent Daylight Saving Time Measure (2018),” ballotpedia.org (accessed May 13, 2019)

Daniel Boffey, “European Parliament Votes to Scrap Daylight Saving Time from 2021,” theguardian.com, Mar. 26, 2019

Cassie Buchman, “These High School Students Want to End Daylight Saving Time in Illinois. Lawmakers Are Listening,” pjstar.com, May 12, 2019

LocktheClock, “Current Legislation,” sco.tt/time (accessed May 13, 2019)

Marco Rubio, “Senators Rubio, Scott, Representative Buchanan Introduce Bill To Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent,” rubio.senate.gov, Mar. 6, 2019

Marco Rubio and Vern Buchanan, “Trump Is Right. Daylight Saving Time Should Be Permanent,” washingtonpost.com, Mar. 15, 2019

Reid Wilson, “Dozens of States Consider Move to Permanent Daylight Saving Time,” thehill.com, May 12, 2019



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Strict Abortion Laws Passed in Several States

Strict Abortion Laws Passed in Several States


Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signs the Alabama abortion law on May 15, 2019
Source: Kay Ivey, Twitter post, twitter.com, May 15, 2019

At least five states have passed strict abortion laws in 2019, partially in an effort to challenge Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.

Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion on May 15, 2019 that is meant to go into effect in Nov. 2019. The law makes abortion illegal in almost all cases, does not have exceptions for rape or incest, and includes felony penalties of up to life in prison for doctors who perform abortions.

Alabama State Representative Terri Collins stated the law “is about challenging Roe v. Wade and protecting the lives of the unborn because an unborn baby is a person who deserves love and protection.”

Leana Wen, MD, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, stated, “Politicians in Alabama just passed the most extreme and dangerous policy since Roe vs. Wade… Alabama is putting women’s lives at even greater risk.”

Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Mississippi passed “fetal heartbeat” laws that ban abortion when a “heartbeat” has been detected, generally around six weeks.

According to Jennifer Kerns, MD, MS, MPH, OB-GYN at the University of California at San Francisco, “At six weeks, the embryo is forming what will eventually develop into mature systems. There’s an immature neurological system, and there’s a very immature cardiovascular system. [The “heartbeat”] is a group of cells with electrical activity… We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system.”

Sarah Horvath, MD, OB-GYN with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, further explained, “What’s really happening at that point is that our ultrasound technology has gotten good enough to be able to detect electrical activity in a rudimentary group of cells.”

Georgia’s law is set to go in effect on Jan. 1, 2020. However, the Kentucky law has been struck down by a federal judge and the Ohio and Mississippi laws are currently being challenged in courts.

Eleven other states have “fetal heartbeat” bills in the works, including Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

As of May 1, 2019, Guttmacher Institute lists 18 states with laws that would make abortion illegal or otherwise restrict access should Roe v. Wade be overturned: nine states have bans and five have other restrictions from before Roe v. Wade still on the law books, six have near-total bans, and seven have laws saying abortion will be restricted as much as possible.

Elizabeth Nash, MPP, Senior States Issue Manager at the Guttmacher Institute, stated, “There’s a real momentum around banning abortion at the state level and it’s stemming from the shift in the U.S. Supreme Court.” That shift was the Trump administration’s addition of two conservative Associate Justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Some states have chosen to pass laws that would keep abortion legal if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the US Supreme Court. New York passed a law on the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on Jan. 22, 2019. At least nine other states have followed suit, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

 


Sources:

Erin Corbett, “Abortion Is Still Legal in All 50 States,” fortune.com, May 17, 2019

Nicole Chavez, “The Rising Wave of Abortion Restrictions in America,” cnn.com, May 18, 2019

Erin Corbett, “New York’s Landmark Abortion Rights Bill Protecting Roe v. Wade Decision Now Law,” fortune.com, Jan. 23, 2019

Amanda Michelle Gomez, “States Are Already Pre-Filing ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bans for the New Year,” thinkprogress.org, Dec. 20, 2018

Guttmacher Institute, “Abortion Policy in the Absence of Roe,” guttmacher.org, May 1, 2019

Katie Reilly, “Alabama’s Abortion Ban Is Designed to Challenge Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. Here’s What Happens Next,” time.com, May 15, 2019

Rachael Rettner, “Is a ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Really a Heartbeat at 6 Weeks?,” livescience.com, May 17, 2019

Adam Rogers, “‘Heartbeat’ Bills Get the Science of Fetal Heartbeats All Wrong,” wired.com, May 14, 2019

Leana Wen, Twitter post, twitter.com, May 14, 2019





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E-Cigarette Flavorings Linked to Cell Damage and Heart Disease

E-Cigarette Flavorings Linked to Cell Damage and Heart Disease


Vaping using an e-cigarette
Source: Lindsay Fox, “Vaping,” wikimedia.org, Mar. 26, 2016

A May 27, 2019 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that the flavorings used in e-cigarettes caused DNA damage and cell death, among other health problems.

The researchers tested six flavorings on lab-grown cells: fruit, tobacco, sweet tobacco with caramel and vanilla, sweet butterscotch, cinnamon, and menthol. The latter two were found to be the most toxic, even without nicotine.

The flavorings damaged endothelial cells, a type of cardiovascular cell that lines blood vessels. The damage make it harder for the cells to form new blood vessels or heal wounds, which increases the risk of heart disease.

Joseph Wu, MD, PhD, Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and senior author of the study, stated, “Until now, we had no data about how these e-liquids affect human endothelial cells. This study clearly shows that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes. When we exposed the cells to six different flavors of e-liquid with varying levels of nicotine, we saw significant damage. The cells were less viable in culture, and they began to exhibit multiple symptoms of dysfunction.”

Some e-cigarette supporters promote vaping as a way to stop smoking. The Truth Initiative, an advocacy group devoted to eliminating tobacco, stated, “Using e-cigarettes is substantially less harmful to individual health than inhaling smoke from combustible tobacco, such as cigarettes and cigars.” A study published in New England Journal of Medicine found that smokers who turned to vaping were more successful at quitting traditional cigarettes than people who tried nicotine patches, gum, or other smoking cessation products.

An estimated 10.8 million American adults and 3 million high school students use e-cigarettes.

 


Sources:

Krista Conger, “E-Cigarette Use, Flavorings May Increase Heart Disease Risk, Study Finds,” med.stanford.edu, May 27, 2019

Angelica LaVito, “CDC Blames Spike in Teen Tobacco Use on Vaping, Popularity of Juul,” cnbc.com, Feb. 11, 2019

Bailey King, “Flavored E-Cigarettes May Lead to Heart Disease, Study Finds,” phillyvoice.com, May 28, 2019

Won Hee Lee, et al., “Modeling Cardiovascular Risks of E-Cigarettes with Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell–Derived Endothelial Cells,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, June 2019

Lauran Neergaard, “Study Suggests E-Cigarette Flavorings May Post Heart Risk,” apnews.com, May 27, 2019

Lisa Rapaport, “Almost One in 20 U.S. Adults Now Use E-Cigarettes,” reuters.com, Aug. 27, 2018

Peter Roff, “We Could Vape Our Way to Health—If the Government Gets out of the Way,” newsweek.com, May 10, 2019

Truth Initiative, “E-Cigarettes: Facts, Stats and Regulations,” truthinitiative.org, July 19, 2018



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Illinois to Be 11th Legal Recreational Marijuana State

Illinois to Be 11th Legal Recreational Marijuana State


Marijuana at a cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas
Source: Associated Press, “West Virginia Posts Online Medical Marijuana Survey,” Oct. 19, 2017

Illinois lawmakers approved recreational marijuana bill HB 1438 on Friday, May 31, 2019. Governor J.B. Pritzker, JD, has indicated he will sign the bill, which will make Illinois the eleventh state to legalize recreational marijuana.

The law is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, at which point cannabis possession and sales will be legal for adults over 21 years old. Only currently licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell marijuana at first, with more licenses expected to be issued mid-year.

Governor Pritzker (D) tweeted on May 31, 2019, “The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equality-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it more and giving so many a second chance.”

Illinois is the first state to legalize commercial sales of marijuana via legislation. Vermont legalized possession via legislation in 2018, but has yet to legalize commercial sales. The other nine states have legalized recreational marijuana via ballot initiative.

Additionally, the governor will pardon everyone convicted of possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana and the attorney general will expunge public records of the convictions and arrests. People who have been convicted of possessing 30 to 500 grams will be able to petition for their conviction to be expunged.

State Representative Anthony DeLuca referenced a 1980s anti-drug commercial by cracking an egg into a frying pan during the legislative debate and stating, “this is your brain on drugs.” The lawmaker later stated, “This bill moves in the opposite direction of moves I’m trying to make as a parent, telling kids getting stoned is an acceptable recreational activity. I just have a real problem with that. No matter how you package this — whether it’s revenue or criminal justice reform, or people are smoking it anyway, I can guarantee where we’ll be in 10 or 20 years, and it’s not going to be good.”

Illinois legalized medical marijuana in 2013 and is one of 33 legal medical marijuana states.

 


Sources:

David Aaro, “Illinois Poised to Legalize Recreational Marijuana,” foxnews.com, June 2, 2019

Austin Berg, “What You Need to Know about Marijuana Legalization in Illinois,” illinoispolicy.org, June 1, 2019

Robert McCoppin, “Here’s When Marijuana Will Be Legal in Illinois, and Answers to Other Burning Questions about Recreational Weed,” chicagotribune.com, June 3, 2019

Karen Pierog, “Illinois Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Wins Legislative Approval,” reuters.com, May 31, 2019

WGN Web Desk, “Illinois Lawmaker Uses Egg, Frying Pan Demonstration During Recreational Marijuana Debate,” wgntv.com, May 31, 2019



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