Trump Officially Eliminates Obama’s Organic Animal Welfare Rules

The Trump administration officially withdrew an Obama-era rule for higher standards regarding the treatment of animals whose meat will be sold under the organic label.

The standards were first created in 2016 under the United States Department of Agriculture. The rules had not been put in place yet. The USDA officially overturned the rule Monday, after delaying its implementation three times.

The rule would have required poultry to be housed in spaces large enough to move freely and fully stretch their wings. Livestock would be required to have some access to outdoor space year round.

The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective. The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.” – Greg Ibach, USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary

At this time animals must be raised without antibiotics or growth hormones, and the animal feed needs to be organic well. Clarity around animal welfare and living conditions is lacking. Many organic hens and cows live in similar conditions as their factory-farmed counterparts, with no room to move and little to no significant outside access. The USDA estimates that half of all organic eggs are produced from hens living in total confinement.

Consumers trust that the Organic seal stands for a meaningful difference in production practices. It makes no sense that the Trump Administration would pursue actions that could damage a marketplace that is giving American farmers a profitable alternative, creating jobs, and improving the economies of our rural areas.” – Organic Trade Association

The proposed rule drew 47,000 comments, with only 28 supporting the withdrawal, according to data compiled by the Organic Trade Association.

This is representative of the influence lobbyists and election money has at the Trump administration’s USDA.” – Mark Kastel, co-director of Cornucopia Institute

Six out of 10 Americans feel that animals used to produce organic food should be raised on farms with higher animal welfare standards. More than half of Americans believe such animals should be allowed time outside and room to move freely.


U.S. EPA reverses policy on ‘major sources’ of pollution

After 23 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the portion of the Clean Air Act designed to reduce air emissions of mercury, lead, benzene, and arsenic. This move from President Trump’s EPA is a departure from the “once-in always-in” policy established in 1995 and is the latest in a long line of attempts to revoke federal EPA regulations. The petroleum and other fossil fuel industries, utility companies, and chemical manufacturers stand to benefit from the ability to reclassify major sources of air pollution as “area” pollution. More than 4.6 million people worldwide die from airborne pollution yearly and dismantling one of the policies designed to curb it is unsustainable, unhealthy, and shows the U.S. as a country unwilling to put aside petty squabbles and focus on urgent global issues.

Recommended: Great Pacific Garbage Patch Now Twice the Size of Texas

Lower Standards

The EPA and Republicans in Congress like the leaders on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), asserts that this relaxing of the Clean Air Act will be a good thing. According to Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, “It will reduce regulatory burden for industries and the states, while continuing to ensure stringent and effective controls on hazardous air pollutants…”

Recommended: The Last Male Northern White Rhino Has Died

This policy affects stationary sources of air pollutants, which are divided into two different categories, major sources and area sources. Major sources release either 10 million tons of any listed toxic air pollutant or 25 tons per year of a mixture of air pollutants. Any other sources of air pollutants is an area source. The biggest issue of contention is the 1995 “once-in always-in” policy that permanently classifies a pollutant generator as a major source (and subject to the increased scrutiny and regulation that come with that) if it is still emitting a certain level of toxins at an assigned date. Now, those major sources that are below the threshold of pollution are no longer subject to the maximum achievable control technology.

Recommended: Ocean Plastic To Triple Within A Decade

So It Goes

This is not the first effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to recently relax regulations. The Trump administration has targeted over 67 environmental laws, more than half of which have been overturned or are in the process of being rolled back. Most of the reasons for these changes have been economic or bureaucratic. Ironically, the environment doesn’t seem to be high on the list of priorities.




Great Pacific Garbage Patch Now Twice the Size of Texas

According to a new study, there are more than 79,000 tonnes of ocean plastic and other trash (mostly plastic) all within a 1.6 million square kilometer area of the North Pacific Ocean (600,000 square miles). That’s 16 times larger than previous estimates. That’s twice the size of Texas.

Must Read: How to Detox From Plastics and Other Endocrine Disruptors

“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” is a collection of garbage located halfway between Hawaii and California. Winds and ocean currents form gyres, think of water spiraling down the drain in a vortex. These gyres draw in litter from around the world. Garbage gets trapped in the gyres and eventually large pieces break down into smaller pieces, which are ingested by marine life. The patch is growing at an alarming rate. The patch is not a solid mass of plastic. It’s not like the news pictures indicate. Some of the trash is easily visible to the naked eye, but the microplastics make up the bulk of the patch. Satellite imagery doesn’t show a giant mountain of garbage. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch looks like a cloudy soup intermixed with larger items, like jugs, fishing gear, and shoes, etc.

Related: Ocean Plastic To Triple Within A Decade

Much of the garbage is rather large. “We were surprised by the amount of large plastic objects we encountered,” said Julia Reisser, from the Ocean Cleanup Foundation. “We used to think most of the debris consists of small fragments, but this new analysis shines a new light on the scope of the debris.”

A sample that was collected during a 2015 expedition showed the majority of the garbage is microplastics less than 0.5 cm in diameter. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation launched the expedition to look at the eastern part of the patch. They used 30 vessels and a C-130 Hercules airplane to acquire and catalog more than one million pieces of plastic.

Related: Drinking Bottled Water Means Drinking Microplastics, According To Damning New Study

The new study suggests the total amount of microplastics in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch totals more 1.8 trillion pieces, a number that far exceeds earlier estimates.

The study was based on a three-year mapping effort conducted by an international team of scientists affiliated with the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, six universities, and an aerial sensor company. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation is a non-profit organization that spearheaded this research, which is the most complete and thorough study ever done on the garbage patch. It was published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Related: Many Hand-me-down Plastic Toys Are Toxic for Kids

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Explainer

Everything there is to know about our new research on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in under 3 minutes. Learn more on

Posted by The Ocean Cleanup on Thursday, March 22, 2018

It’s estimated that 80% of the trash in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is from North America and Asia. The trash from North America’s coast takes around six years to reach the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, while Japan’s garbage takes about a year.

People have been focusing on microplastics, because it’s likely to be the one to have the most adverse effects on marine life, because of ingestion. But we need to understand the full-size picture of plastics, starting from the tiniest piece to larger debris.” – Laurent Lebreton, lead author of the paper.

When you go out into the middle of the ocean, you find that there’s a lot more fishing gear than was expected.”

A lot of focus has been pushed toward land-based sources of plastic and waste and single-use plastic, and that’s fair, but it’s also good to remind us that that’s not the only source, that fishing and aquaculture and marine-based sources also contribute to the problem.”


Birth Control Pills for Men are Here. What Does that Mean for Reproductive Health?

Effective male birth control might finally be on its way, as scientists from the University of Washington Medical Center and the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, CA prepare to present their experimental oral contraceptive at the Endocrine Society’s 100th meeting in Chicago. The pill, called dimethandrolone undecanoate or DMAU, contains an androgen like testosterone, a progestin and a long-chain fatty acid (undecanoate) that keeps the birth control from clearing the body too quickly. This last component appears to be key to this new contraceptive offering, according to the study’s senior investigator, Stephanie Page, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at the University of Washington.

DMAU is a major step forward in the development of a once-daily ‘male pill’…Many men say they would prefer a daily pill as a reversible contraceptive, rather than long-acting injections or topical gels, which are also in development.”

Related: Holistic Guide to Healing the Endocrine System and Balancing Our Hormones

Mild Repercussions?

The sample size for this study was small, with a total of 83 men completing the study. At the highest dose of the contraceptive, participants had significantly lower levels of testosterone and two of the hormones required for sperm production. Previous male birth control efforts showed liver inflammation, but this new effort passed all kidney and liver safety tests.

Or Serious Side Effects?

The pill didn’t result in any liver damage, but all groups taking part in the trial reported weight gain and decreases in HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Researchers classified these issues as mild, but these side effects may indicate that men with lower testosterone experience a lower level of health.

In a recent study of over 5,000 Italian men, scientists found that men with lower sperm count were 20 percent more likely to have higher blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and weigh more. The lower sperms levels went hand in hand with decreased testosterone, leaving many men at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and decrease muscle and bone health. Dr. Alberto Ferlin, the leader of this study and a professor of endocrinology at the University of Bresci, said, “Infertile men are likely to have important co-existing health problems or risk factors that can impair quality of life and shorten their lives.”

Related: How to Detox From Plastics and Other Endocrine Disruptors

Spreading the Discomfort Around

The side effects of this pill don’t appear to be serious, but a universally reported weight gain and increased bad cholesterol is the precursor to more serious health issues later in life. But it remains to be seen if men will be interested in managing their reproductive functions with a daily pill, especially one where it must be taken with food to be effective.

I’m not saying that women need to continue taking on the majority of the faux hormone contraceptive responsibilities…in fact, why hasn’t this happened sooner!! But there are still serious health issues stemming from that that we have yet to properly address in modern medicine. Are we adding on to that dog pile? Then again, by the year 2050, giving birth will likely be an extremely dicey proposition due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


The Last Male Northern White Rhino Has Died

Sudan was our last male northern white rhino. He was 45. Sudan was suffering from multiple infections in his advanced age. He was euthanized Monday by a veterinary team in Kenya, a tam that had fought for years to save him.

We at Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was an amazing rhino, a great ambassador for his species, and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity.

One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists worldwide.” – Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta Conservancy CEO

Rhinos around the world are on the brink of extinction, and this is mostly due to poaching. Rhino horn has been highly prized in Chinese traditional medicine and as a decorative component of daggers carried by many Yemeni men. Around 30,000 rhinos from five species remain worldwide. Two species in Indonesia, the Sumatran and Javan rhinos, have around or less than 100 individuals.

Must Read: Drinking Bottled Water Means Drinking Microplastics, According To Damning New Study

Sudan spent the last years of his life under 24-hour protection from armed guards. His horn had been chopped off to deter poachers, though it had begun to grow back. His guards regularly foiled poaching attacks. But the effort to save the northern white rhino seems to have come too late for a real turnaround.

But the Subspecies May Still Survive

Researchers saved the sperm from Sudan, and from four other male northern white rhinos before they died. They think they might be able to produce a calf via in vitro fertilization. The researchers would fertilize one of the female eggs with the frozen sperm. The team could then use a female of a closely related species, the southern white rhino, as a surrogate.

Must Read: Trump Tells EPA to Dismantle Clean Water Rules

If that doesn’t work, scientists could potentially transform northern white rhino skin cells into stem cells. They would then coax those stem cells into eggs. They would then fertilize the eggs.

Since the last two remaining northern white rhinos are closely related there would need to be a way to diversify the subspecies. The stem cell option could help with that, as scientists could use any samples from any of the deceased rhino.

Many conservationists think we’d be better off spending that money elsewhere. The cost is at $800,000 to $10 million per attempt. We’re in the middle of a mass extinction, as and this scares the hell out of anyone who understands how systems work. Do you think the northern white rhino is deserving of such incredible expense to bring it back from extinction or is our money spent better elsewhere?



Ocean Plastic To Triple Within A Decade

The amount of plastic in world’s oceans is expected to triple within a decade according to a new UK government report called the “Foresight Future of the Sea.” The report found that 70% of the litter in our oceans is non-degradable plastic, and the amount of litter in our oceans is projected to increase by a factor of three between 2015 and 2025.

Both the opportunities and the challenges set out in this important report are global in scale and demand our urgent attention. We must keep pushing our scientific understanding of the oceans, harness new technologies, and support commercial innovation.” –Tariq Ahmad , Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister

Plastic chokes marine wildlife and causes numerous other health issues by exposing marine life to toxic chemicals. We also eat these toxic chemicals when we eat seafood. Around 150 million tons of plastic float in our oceans and eight million more tons of plastic come into the ocean each year, according to the World Economic Forum. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by weight if we don’t change our ways soon.

The UK was one of 193 countries that signed a resolution to eliminate plastic pollution in our oceans. A month later the UK outlawed the manufacture of products containing microbeads.



Lawsuit Filed Against Unethical Herpes Vaccine Startup – Vaccines Given Without Consent

Rational Vaccines, a startup founded by a microbiologist at Southern Illinois University, Dr. William Halford, is being sued by three subjects from experimental trials of a live herpes virus vaccine conducted in 2013 and 2016. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for adverse side effects associated with the vaccine, which was administered both in a Holiday Inn room in 2013 and on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis in 2016 without formal written consent. Neither of these trials had a physician present and were conducted without the approval of either an independent institutional review board or the Food and Drug Administration. Though Rational Vaccines has said it plans to seek FDA approval, this lawsuit alleges that the company violated U.S. and international laws protecting the rights of patients.

Questionable Research

The human subjects involved in this trial are likely to be left with many questions as to why the trial was conducted in such a shoddy fashion. There was no formal written consent. None of the usual regulating agencies were involved in the vaccine trial. After an auspicious start in a hotel room, the location of the trials was moved to an international location to better avoid these regulating industries, although subjects were given booster shots upon their return to the United States.

Related: We Consume Livestock Vaccines When We Ingest Meat

The findings from the 2013 and 2016 trials of the vaccine have not been published, yet Rational Vaccines considers the last one a success. Now they’re being sued. According to Alan Milstein, the New Jersey lawyer retained by the plaintiffs, “My clients are anxious to ensure such unethical experimentation on human subjects are not repeated…”

What Transparency?

What about the University? The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, where Dr. Halford was employed for 10 years, is still investigating his research methods on the request of the Department of Health and Human Services. While they acknowledge that his conduct violated both University code and U.S. law, the dean of the medical school, Jerry Kruse, maintains that Dr. Halford’s research was kept hidden. This contradicts quotes from an article in The State Journal Registrar of Springfield that stated “I hope this works… The initial results are astounding…Halford is “an outstanding scientist — a genius, actually…” Denying knowledge of Dr. Halford’s shady practices also seems disingenuous considering the University owns the patent for Dr. Halford’s technology and admitting to any wrongdoing stands to lose the University 15 million dollars in federal research grants.

Related: Steps To Help Minimize Vaccine Side Effects

But It’s Profit

In cases like this, it helps to go straight to the source – Dr. Halford. Unfortunately (or conveniently, if you prefer a touch of conspiracy with your vaccine news), he died of cancer in June 2017. But the company is continuing on. In fact, they’re thriving, receiving 7 million dollars in funding from billionaire businessman, FDA critic, and Trump supporter, Peter Thiel.

Is this the tale of a rogue scientist, going off the rails, trying desperately to finish his life’s work before he’s cruelly struck down by cancer? Or do we believe the university’s narrative, willing to turn a blind eye to unorthodox and frankly dangerous research practices in the hopes of new achievements and increased fundraising? How about the story of a scrappy startup with a dream, willing to find a way past any and all obstacles to bring the world something it needs at any cost? Maybe it’s all three.

Related: How To Detoxify and Heal From Vaccinations – For Adults and Children

Shakeup…or Shakedown?

One of the trial subjects, Richard Mancuso, has gone on record stating that the vaccine cured his herpes. Rational Vaccines now has a powerful backer with a proven track record of disruption at a time when patients are no longer taking doctors and researchers at their word. Many of the medical community’s common practices are out of date and actively degrading the world we live in.

Related: How Plumbing (Not Vaccines) Eradicated Disease

But is injecting people with live vaccines in a hotel room and a startling lack of transparency really the precedent we want to set for new medical research going forward?