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Ecotopia #232: Energy–Delusions of Stability

Posted by on 11 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

April 9, 2013

Tonight we are talking with the editor of a book that is an eye-opener, both visually and editorially. ENERGY: OVERDEVELOPMENT AND THE DELUSION OF ENDLESS GROWTH is published by the Post-Carbon Institute and Watershed Media; it’s coffee-table sized, with full color, wall-to-wall photographs, but also containing rich text by internationally renowned specialists.

With us now on the phone is Tom Butler, who is coeditor of this book with George Wuethner. Tom is editorial projects Director for the Foundation for Deep Ecology in Sausalito and president of the Northeast Wilderness Trust in Bristol, Vermont. Thanks for being with us tonight, Tom.

Listen to the Interview

–The cover of your book shows the Deepwater Horizon, source of the Gulf Oil spill, sinking in flames. Why did you choose that photo to illustrate your narrative of “overdevelopment and the delusion of endless growth”? (You obviously had hundreds of other powerful photographs to choose from—deserts, oil-covered birds, devastated marshland.)

–We think that most of our listeners know well that we are in the midst of an energy and growth crisis—neither is sustainable. So we’re ready to hear about what you discuss in Part I of the book, “taking a deeper look at the energy crisis,” [underline added] examining the “less visible . . . range of ideas and assumptions—the worldview—behind our energy choices.” (our underline, 7)

…Please tell us more about some of the “less visible” aspects of our cultural choices.

…How does world and especially western culture hide the delusion of endless growth?

…You cite California (35) as an example of a state that has done a pretty good job of conservation and per capita consumption. Yet our electricity use (and related fossil fuel consumption) has risen overall. How does this illustrate the conundrum (or dead end) of endless growth?

–You write of and advocate “energy literacy.” What is that? How do people become truly energy literate? Can this literacy change the world’s view of itself and its energy use?

–Getting back to the book, we were especially interested in your section, Part IV, called “False Solutions.” We don’t have time to talk about each of these, but perhaps you could tell us a little about (your choice of) false solutions:


…Nuclear power

…”Clean” coal




…Oil shale

and especially, if you’d like to discuss it

…Geoengineering. [Note: We recently interviewed a Northern California resident who is particularly alarmed about alleged “chem trails” and dispersion of aluminum and other metal products by commercial and military aircraft. We—Steve and Susan—are skeptical of some of the claims that are made about secret agencies poisoning the atmosphere. But in your book, the ETC essay on “Retooling the Planet” talks about the threat of more widespread geoengineering projects. <http:www.etcgroup.com.> Anything you can say to raise our geoengineering literacy would be appreciated.

–In Part VII you describe “What We Are For.”  Who is the “we” in “what we’re for.” How can you/we “reframe the discourse” in positive terms?

–We’ve already briefly discussed the idea of “ecological literacy.” How might that play out in terms of nonconfrontational or positivist strategies?

–As our time permits, let’s review (your choice of) other positive directions that people can take:






…Family planning

–A huge question we regularly ask on this program: What will it take to bring about change on the scale that you are calling for? Do we have to go to the brink? over the brink? Will our politicians save us? Are people literate enough and smart enough to do the right thing voluntarily?

Are you an optimist?

—-We’ve been talking with Tom Butler, co-editor of ENERGY: OVERDEVELOPMENT AND THE DELUSION OF ENDLESS GROWTH. Before we go, we hope you will tell us a little more about yourself and the organizations that you work with.

…You are editorial director of the Foundation for Deep Ecology. What is the Foundation and what does it do? (What is “deep” ecology?) <http://www.deepecology.org/>

…You are also president of the Northeast Wilderness Trust. What are some of its projects? <http://www.newildernesstrust.org/>

…We’d also like to learn more about the Post-Carbon Institute and Watershed Media, publishers of this book. [We have previously raved about and given away our copy of CAFO: Confined Animal Feeding Operations, another book that seems an unlikely candidate for a “coffee table” treatment.]

Thank you, Tom Butler. The book is ENERGY: OVERDEVELOPMENT AND THE DELUSION OF ENDLESS GROWTH, published by Watershed Media and the Post-Carbon Institute. Thanks very much for being with us on Ecotopia.

Ecotopia #218 The State and the Stork

Posted by on 16 Jan 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: 15 January 2013

This week on Ecotopia we’ll be returning to a topic that is of deep concern to environmentalists and activists everywhere, but we’ll be focusing on it from the perspective of U.S. history. Our guest will be Derek Hoff, professor of history at Kansas State University, who has written THE STATE AND THE STORK, which looks at population debates and public policy from colonial times to the present.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Derek Hoff

You are listening to Ecotopia on KZFR, exploring ecosystems: environmental, social, technological. Tonight our topic is the intriguing one of “The State and the Stork,” taken from the title of our guest’s new book that explores “the population debate and policy making in US history.” On the phone with is Derek Hoff, who is a political and economic historian at Kansas State University.

–In the introduction to your book, you say that “a surprisingly large and varied number of Americans have perceived population trends as snakes in the garden.” Please explain that statement and how it lead to the focus of your book. which garden? which snakes? [Let’s emphasize in the discussion that you are focusing on American history, though we’ll no doubt talk about global issues along the way.]

–You also note early in the book that attitudes toward population—social, economic, and political—have fluctuated over the times. What are some of the major theories of population that you’ve discovered? [limiting growth, quality of life, people as a cash crop]

–In this first part of the interview, we thought we’d focus on more distant U.S. history. What, for example, were the attitudes of the founders toward population? How did views evolve in early Republic, especially after Thomas Malthus’s essay on population came out?

–How did population issues intersect with the slavery debate? [the demographics of slavery, the question of slavery, westward expansion, Reconstruction, voting rights].

–You write about agrarian America and the effects on the U.S. of Europe’s industrial revolution. With population growth and the development of the U.S. came cities, in some ways validating the Malthusian thesis … hotbeds of disease and poverty and crime. How did the growth of the cities fit affect population policy? How did immigration and cheap labor fit in?

–You trace “the birth of the modern population debate” to the late 19th century and the pre-WW II period. How did it come to be framed in the popular mind during those times? How about in the minds of economists? [Keynesian economic theory and influence.]

–Before we turn to the post-WWII era, we’d like to approach a subject that we could spend hours on: 20th century exclusion, racism, eugenics. We’d like to ask about just one element that particularly interests us: eugenics. Where did this movement come from and how did it affect public policy?

–In the first part of the program, you spoke with us about population and policy through the first half of the 20th century. Now we hit the baby boomers, a good many of them among our listeners (with their hearing aids turned up). The boom was linked to postwar prosperity and new views of the relationship between population and the economy. Please tell us about that.

–You write that the U.S. and global baby booms also raised fears of overpopulation here and abroad. This seems to have been a period of increased governmental efforts to control population via international organizations as well as such programs such as LBJ’s Great Society. What was happening, and how successful were governmental agencies in getting involved in family planning?

–In your chapter on “Diffusing the Population Bomb,” you discuss the Zero Population Growth movement as well as conservative and liberal views of population. Please tell us a little about the right and the left and their conflicting yet evolving views of fertility rates.

–Your closing chapter focuses on “Population Aged,” they greying of the baby boomers. What do you see as interconnections among population and aging issues, including such topics as Social Security and taxation policies?

–Near the end of the book, you note that “…emphasis on the aging of the population, however justified by spiraling deficits, has encouraged policy makers to think of babies as future taxpayers rather than as potential environmental or social externalities.” Our impossibly broad closing question for you: What do you think the next generation will say and do about population and public policy?

The State and the Stork is published by the University of Chicago Press. You can learn more about the book at <www.press.uchicago.edu> and you can learn more about Derek and his work at the Kansas State history department website <http://www.k-state.edu/history/faculty-staff/hoff.html.>


Ecotopia# 217 Wild and Scenic Film Festival 2013

Posted by on 10 Jan 2013 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Date: 8 January 2013

Each year, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers to the Grass Valley and Nevada City. The festival runs this weekend, opening with an art reception and showing of 3-D films Thursday night, closing with the awards ceremony on Sunday.

In this program we talk first with Samantha Hinrichs, the Festival’s public relations officer about the incredible line up of films, workshops, and ecoevents taking place. We’ll also talk with two film makers who will be showing their works and will be present at the festival:

Tom McMurray is the Founder and CEO of the Marine Ventures Foundation.  He will be showing a film called A Changing Delta, describing the restoration of the Colorado River in Mexico and how this affected both the river and the communities that depend on it.

Rodney Rascona, has done a film titled “Black Inside: Three Women’s Voices,” which describes the effects of cooking indoors over a wood fire which affects the health of women and families all over the globe.

 Listen to the Program

Our Discussion with Samantha Hinrichs

Samatha Hinrichs,is PR Director, Wild & Scenic Film Festival which I a project of SYRCLE [”circle”], the South Yuba River Citizens League.

–Let’s start with days/dates, hours, and venues for the Festival. [Thursday-Sunday, multiple venues GV and NevCity.]

–Please give us some history on the Festival. How long has it been taking place? What’s your mission? What’s the connection to the South Yuba River Citizens’ League [SYRCL–”circle”]?

–What’s the theme of this year’s festival? [A Climate of Change]

–How many films will you be showing? How are your films selected? [~117 films, 29 of which are premieres, and host over 100 filmmakers and activists, along with over 4500 festival attendees over the course of three days, 10 venues in Grass Valley and Nevada City.]

–You always have an all-star lineup of filmmakers and others who appear live and in person at the festival. Who are some of the notables this year? Are there films that you are particularly excited about?

–The Festival does far more than screen films. Please tell us about some of the satellite activities:

…Greening the festival

…Kids’ sessions and young filmmakers

…Meeting filmmakers

… Paddle Day

… Happy Birthday Aldo Leopold

… Award Ceremonies

–There are a range of passes available, three-day to select events. Please give us the details about Festival passes [We’re not allowed to talk about ticket prices]: how you can get them, how you can get in to see the films that you especially want to see. Anything else you’d like to tells us?

www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org for all the info.

Talking with Tom McMurray

One of the Festival film titles that intrigued us is “A Changing Delta,” telling about the restoration of a section of the Colorado River in Mexico and its effect on the community.  Dr. Tom McMurray is President and CEO of Marine Ventures Foundation which led this project and made the film. Tom will be at the Festival showing the film twice on Saturday, and we’ll give you the times an locations at the close of the interview.

–You’re both a filmmaker and and action-oriented environmentalist. Please tell us about your background and how it led to you founding Marine Ventures.

–”A Changing Delta” takes place in Mexico, where the Colorado River now ends in a sink due to overallocation and drought. Please tell us about Marine Venture’s efforts to change that. Who was involved? What were/are the aims of the project? [“Our film focuses on how a group of people are trying to restore not just a river bit their community, their culture around the river and their heritage for their children.”]

–Your Marine Ventures Foundation emphasizes citizen engagement and citizen science. Plus high technology. [We’re especially interested in the idea of “citizen science” How do these all come together in a project like the Colorado Delta?

–Please tell us about the process of making the film. What’s the technical process? Who actually shoots the images? How do you select images and interviews to raise important points? How do you prepare the script?

–What do you hope for by way of a response to your film? Beyond the Festival where will it be shown?

— What will be the effect of the new US-Mexico treaty on the Delta and how does this catalyze restoration? [“The US and Mexican government have approved an addition to the water treaty that governs water flow across the US border to Mexico. The treaty will enable water allocated to Mexico to be stored in the US until it is needed and more importantly will enable the allocation of water for restoration of the Colorado River Delta. This is very exciting news for the Restoration effort and all the communities along the river.”]

–Please tell us a bit about the other projects you’ve been involved with. [Conservation projects in the US, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Bahamas and Western Australia.] Do you do films for all or most of your projects?

–In addition to seeing your film on Saturday, where can interested listeners learn more about your work? [marineventures.org]

Talking with Rodney Rascona

Another of the films that attracted our attention is titled “Black Inside—Three Women’s Vioces.” It is based on the alarming fact that nearly two million people die around the world every year as a result of cooking over an open fire. Rodney Rascona is the film’s Director and Producer.

–We were interested to learn that this film was commissioned by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation. What is this initiative and how were you attracted to the project?

–Where did you travel to make the film? Can you tell us a little about what you saw and the people you spoke with?

–Who are the women whose stories you decided to tell in the film? [Sarah—Africa; Vandana—India; Monica—Peru] Actually, it sounds as if you don’t tell their stories; you let them tell you own. Why did you approach the film in this way?

–Each of the women switched away from open fires to cookstoves. What impact did this have on their lives and the lives of their families?

–What are some of the other stories that didn’t make it into the film?

–In one of your press releases, you say that the film “will lay out the arguments, the issues and the solutions presented by the brilliant minds engaged in this social imperative.” Please describe the breadth of this initiative and the kinds of solutions that are being proposed.

–You have placed a number of still photos on your website <rascona.com>. These include portfolios on health care, American Life, Halfway Houses, Pink London. Please tell us about these photos. How do these portfolios differ from a film like Black Inside?

–What is your next project? Social and/or cinematographic?

More info about the film is available at <http://www.blackinside-thefilm.com>.  See more of Rodney’s incredible photography at <http://www.rascona.com>. There is also a detailed press release at





The Point Is 12-29-12

Posted by on 29 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

This edition of The Point Is featured four interviews on the topics of education, war and peace, and the California budget.

Click here to listen to the program.

Or click on individual names to hear their segment of the program.

Beth Swadener, Arizona State University, on global access to education.

Vincent Ornelas, Chico State University, on community service as part of education.

Elaine Hallmark, Beyond War, on paradigm shifts and the opportunity to realize a peaceful world.

Chris Hoene, California Budget Project, on the state of the state.


Scroll down for more information about the interviewees and to see the interview questions.

Interview with Beth Swadener, Arizona State University

Beth Blue Swadener, teachers at Arizona State University in the School of Social Transformation. She is Professor of Culture, Society and Education and Professor of Justice and Social Inquiry, which gives you a general indication of her interests. More specifically, she is a specialist in early childhood education and has traveled all over the globe collecting children’s and family stories.

–First, please tell us about your work at ASU. Obviously your interests are far removed from typical academic interests. What do you teach? What are you trying to provide your students?

–You have written and edited a number of books and articles on social justice and education. A representative title seems to be “Challenges to Inclusive Education in Kenya: Postcolonial Perspectives and Family Narratives,” in a book called Inclusive Education: Examining Equity on Five Continents. Please tell us about your research and writing:

…Where have you traveled?

…How do you conduct your research? How do you collect these narratives?

…What are the central problems in equity and inclusion that you’ve encountered?

…Do you see these problems in the U.S. as well as abroad? [Please include mention of your work in Native American schools.]

–One of your articles addresses “living in ethical and caring ways.” Is that a school and/or a family issue? Can schools presume to teach ethics? Whose ethics? [Note: In US elementary schools, one sees a number of posters with phrases like, “Respect your classmates,” “We don’t put up with exclusion,” “Stop Bullying. Are these on the right track? effective?]

–Another of your articles discusses “critical pedagogy in the neoliberal era: small openings.” Especially since No Child Left Behind and in the current educational/political climate, teachers find themselves pressured to teach to the test and to avoid “controversial” subjects. What do you see as the openings for critical or mindful teaching in our time?

–A much too broad question, but here goes: What are your best hopes and wishes for meaningful reform in education around the world? How can/will/might this come about? How soon? Are you optimistic? How can our listeners keep in touch with you and learn more about your work?

For information on the Jirani Project in Kenya, click here:  http://jiraniproject.org/

If folks want to submit proposals (we will extend the deadline) for workshops or skill shares for the 12th annual Local  to Global Justice Teach-In taking place in February, here is that link: http://localtoglobal.org/proposals.html  (or see home page same site)

Vincent Ornelas, California State University, Chico

Vincent Ornelas teaches in the school of Social work and is president of the Chico Chapter of California Faculty Associates. He has degrees from USC and has done a great deal of work with young people, including being Director of Legislative Advocacy for the Exceptional Children’s Foundation of Los Angeles and the Program Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Pasadena. Since arriving in Chico, Vincent has been an active member of the CSUC Chicano/Latino Council. He is also working to establish linkages between the School of Social Work and community-based organizations that target underserved populations in our region. It’s been my pleasure to work with him on one of these projects, the Love Chapmantown Community Coalition.

–We’re talking about the aims of education. Broadly, what are yours? Is education about jobs? independence? ethics? What do you want for your students?

–Some people [myself included] think that traditional classroom education—books, courses, homework, tests—may have outlived its usefulness, that hands-on, on-the-job training is more directly useful. What do you think?

–Can you give us some examples of how kids learn outside the classroom based on your work with the Boys and Girls Club and other out-of-school projects? –Tell us about the linkages you and the School of Social Work are establishing in the Chico Community. [Feel free to mention our work on Chapmantown: asset mapping, internships, community surveys, etc.] How does such work translate into changing communities?

–What do you see as the greatest barriers to improving quality of life in Chico, the Northstate, and Beyond? [The “beyond” part might include discussion of whether Chicoland is uniquely privileged and that our solutions may not apply in areas of higher poverty, greater population, lousy weather . . . ]

–What kinds of linkups do you see as possible and desirable in Butte County among, say, the schools, the college and university, the business community, city and county government, and the neighborhoods?

–What do you expect to be doing in your work in 2013 to foster the kinds of changes you advocate?

You can read more about Vincent Ornelas on the School of Social Work Website, http://www.csuchico.edu/swrk/

Elaine Hallmark, Beyond War Coalition

Elaine Hallmark is Executive Director of Beyond War, which, for over thirty years, has argued that war is obsolete in this age of nuclear weapons, and that we must shift our world view and our actions to truly recognize that we are one–we are all interconnected on one small planet.  Beyond War has supported local groups all over the world in raising public awareness and educating on living beyond war.

–You have recently written, “We are experiencing a period of change of historic magnitude,…as worldviews shift from separateness, fear, and security through competitive dominance and win-lose violence to oneness, hope, and security through cooperative interdependence and win-win peace.” Could you please explain that conviction?

–Beyond War as an organization has a history going back to the 1980s, though the present organization, which you direct, has a more immediate history dating to 2003. Could you give us a brief history? [As you’d like, feel free to mention related work done by Beyond War, e.g. Rio + 20.]

–On December 18, you made a dramatic statement to your members. Please tell us about that. [Hearing about the statement, my colleague on this program, Sue Hilberbrand, said, “This sounds like a declaration of victory. Hoo-rah!” Is it? Who will take up the legacy of Beyond War?]

–You see us the world as being in an era of “breakdown and of breakthrough, as economic, social, political and other human systems we have created out of a culture of violence necessarily give way to new systems based on a very different view of reality: a culture of peace.” How do you see this transition taking place? Will we be driven to the brink? over the edge? Do you have confidence that humans can change over to a culture of peace without having a global breakdown?

–Depending on what happens between now and New Year’s, the country may go over what the media call the “financial cliff,” with automatic tax increases and cutbacks. Among the cutbacks would be a 9% cut it military funding. Wouldn’t that be a pretty good thing? Shouldn’t we perhaps drive the tanks over the fiscal cliff?

–In the last hour on The Point Is, we discussed education in the post-Sandy Hook era. What are Beyond War and its legatees doing to educate peacemakers or to prepare kids to live in a nonviolent world and to adopt nonviolence as their credo?

–2013 will be a busy year for you as you transition to your legacy organizations. But in terms of war and peace and your personal activism, what do you see as the biggest concerns?

Get more information about Beyond War: Click here beyondwar.org

Chris Hoene, California Budget Coalition

Chris Hoene is the Executive Director of the California Budget Project. Chris has also worked with the National League of Cities and with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C., as well as the Public Policy Institute in San Francisco. He also wrote a doctoral dissertation on the effects of Prop 13 on California.

–Many of our listeners are aware of the work of the California Budget Project through our local project here in Chico. But for those who aren’t, please tell us a bit about the scope of your work. [State Budget, State Taxes, Federal Taxes & Budget, Work, Wages, & Incomes, Education, Health Human Services & Child Care] You are an advisory group, but are you also a lobbying organization?

–Let’s start with the good news. You recently wrote about he passage of Proposition 30, the “Jerry Brown Tax Hike”. You said “our state has taken a major step forward in stabilizing the budget and reinvesting in education and other public systems.” Which systems will benefit most? What has been left out?

–As we speak, Washington is still on the brink of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which would lead to cuts in the military, medicaid payments to doctors, unemployment, and minumum tax, to name a few. I’m assuming that CBP has thought about the consequences for California, since (as you report on your web site), over 33% of California spending comes from the Federal government. What are the worst and best scenarios?

–You’ve also written that “state policymakers should strive for budget decisions that permanently place the state on solid financial footing while also reinvesting in public systems that are essential to all Californians and to broadly shared economic growth.” As a policy analyst and planner, what do you see as the steps we need to take in California to bring about this stability?

…health and human services funding. Is it out of control?

…education. What is needed to fund the public schools, k-12 adequately? post-secondary ed? adult ed?

…jobs, jobs, jobs….the universal mantra among politicians. What can California do to create jobs that pay a decent, living wage? Do you see possibilities within the “green industries”? If military spending were to be cut, how would the state suffer and how would we generate alternative positions for military people?

–What did you learn about the effects of Proposition 13 from your dissertation?

–The California Budget Project is not funded by the state. Where do you get your funds? How do you maintain your independence?

–How can interested listeners learn more about the CBP and become involved with its work?

For more information go to <cbp.org>


1. Teach Your Children 3:02

2. Where Do the Children Play? 3:54

3. School’s Out 3:30

4. Sweat 8:42

5. What’s So Funny ’bout Peace, Love and Understanding 3:33

6. Give Peace a Chance 4:52

7. Money Honey 3:36

8. Money-Drunk 3:04

9. Easy Money 3:41

10. Bargeld 7:17

Ecotopia #213 Nanoparticles, Acidic Oceans, and EcoEthics

Posted by on 12 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

 11 December 2012

This week on Ecotopia, we’ll be interviewing BRITA BELLI, who is the editor of E -the Environmental Magazine, the largest independent magazine dedicated to green issues. She is the author of The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates (Seven Stories Press) and blogs about autism and toxins at <autismandtoxins.com>.

Her magazine recently ran a feature on “nanoparticles,” tiny chemical molecules that are added to processed food for various reasons and are virtually unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. We’ll ask her to tell us about nanonparticles and what we need to know about their effects on our health.

We’ll also ask her about a recent series of articles in E-Magazine concerning ocean acidification, how it is happening, what its effects are on marine life.

Listen to the Program

Our Conversation with Brita Belli

About E-Magazine

–E-The Environmental Magazine covers an incredible range of topics on the environment, health and nutrition, economics, and ethics. Could you tell us a little about the mission and history of the magazine? Who is your audience? (Who are your advertisers?) <www.emagazine.com>

–You also write a good number of the articles for the magazine, blog regularly, and write books. Please tell us something of your personal background and how you came to be such a passionate writer on so many environmental and health issues.

About Nanoparticles

Scroll Down to Read Brita’s Article and the FDA “Fact Sheet” on NanoParticles

–In the current issue of the magazine, you’ve written and article titled “We Know Nanoparticles Are in Our Food, But It’s Still Unclear What Harms They Pose to Our Health.” What are “nanoparticles” anyway? Where do they come from? How do they get into food? What are they designed to do? [“deliver vitamins and nutrients, alter consistency, and preserve freshness”]

–Please give us some examples of foods in which they are used. [“A lot of white processed foods contain nano-sized titanium dioxide for pigment purposes—including Mentos, Trident gum, M&Ms and Nestle Original Coffee Creamer. “]

[Our personal experience is not great, but includes a discussion with a university “human ecology” professor, whose research had included adding dessicants to chocolate chip cookies, thus making them absorb water and remain soft.]

–E-Magazine contacted the Food and Drug Administration and “an FDA spokesperson admitted that the agency does not track which foods contain the particles, but relies on companies to voluntarily offer information.” What information do the companies offer voluntarily? What–in your judgement–is not being revealed?

–You note that “The FDA has thus far preferred a hands-off approach, treating nanoparticles as equivalent to their larger-scale counterparts.” How does the FDA treat the larger additives? Why do you think the FDA is taking this approach? Shouldn’t all food ingredients be made public–except, maybe, the “secret” formula of Coke?

[Quote from the FDA Nanotechnology Fact Sheets: “The very changes in biological, chemical and other properties that can make nanotechnology applications so exciting also may merit examination to determine any effects on product safety, effectiveness, or other attributes.” Our italics added–this quote shows a bias toward nanoparticles and a casual attitude toward taking action. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/GuidanceDocuments/ucm300914.htm?source=govdelivery]

–You refer to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars which is taking up the problem of nanoparticles. What are they examining? What kinds of issues are they raising? <http://www.nanotechproject.org/>

–You mention as well that nanotechnology is not limited to food, but is used in food packaging and plastics as well. What kind of research is being done on these nonfood uses?

[“In 2011, researchers found that inhaled carbon nanotubes (used in plastics and computer chips) can damage the lungs similar to asbestos, giving rise to cancer.”]

–What additional kind of science is under way and what research ought to be required on the use of nanotechnology in both food and nonfood products? And how should this be included in the regulatory process?

[“Each nanoparticle reacts differently with the human body and each needs thorough testing before it can be considered safe for consumption.”]

–How can interested listeners learn more about nanoparticles and voice their concerns?  [Check
As You Sow:  www.asyousow.org/ , National Resources Defence Council <nrdc.org>, Friends of the Earth <www.foe.org/>g

About Ocean Acidification

A couple of weeks ago on this program we talked with Robert Wintner, “Snorkel Bob,” about some of the dangers to the coral reefs due to extraction of the fish. In an article in the May/June issue of E-Magazine, Brita discusses another threat, not only to the coral reefs, but to “the entire ocean food web.” In this segment, we’ll ask her about that article: “This is your ocean on acid.”

–You begin that article with stories about the decline of the shellfish industry–clams, oysters, and others. What is happening to these fisheries, and how is it tied to ocean acidification? What are the specific effects on shellfish?

–You also write about the coral reefs, which are not only threatened, but according to many experts, may collapse completely within our lifetime. How are the reefs affected by acidification?

–What is the magnitude of ocean acidification? How is it caused? [A huge question, we realize, since so many variables are involved.]

–OK, we and most of our listeners are totally convinced about the dangers and causes of ocean acidification (along with climate change and other virulent effects of human presence on the planet). What is being done? One of your interviewees, Rob Jackson, referred to “piecemeal solutions”–What are they and why won’t they work?

–Are there some success stories in reef and shellfish restoration that point the way to larger, more comprehensive solutions?

–A global solution to ocean acidification would involve a world wide effort to reduce of greenhouse gas emissions. Given the very mixed results of Kyoto, Copenhagen, Rio 20, what do you see as the probability of reform? Can/will the US take a leadership role? [Several of the people we’ve interviewed on the program have said flatly that we can’t depend on governments and legislation to accomplish environmental reform. Do you agree?]

About Ecoethics

–We’d like to ask you about the topic of one other issue of E-Magazine (December 2010), which raised the question, “Do we have a moral obligation to save the planet?” What is your degree of optimism that the earth’s 7.3 billion people (and growing) will answer that question affirmatively?

–What topics are you writing and thinking about next?

This has been Ecotopia on KZFR, and we have been talking with Brita Belli, editor, writer, and activist on environmental issues. We strongly encourage listeners to check out E-The Environmental Magazine <www.emagazine.com/> and her blog <www.autismandtoxins.com>. Thank you for taking time to be with us tonight.


Brita's Article on Nanoparticles 

It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that not only are we largely unaware of nanoparticles in our food supply, but that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can offer little in the way of specifics. Contacted for this issue’s cover story on the use of nanoparticles in food—microscopic particles used to deliver vitamins and nutrients, alter food consistency and preserve freshness—an FDA spokesperson admitted that the agency does not track which foods contain the particles, but relies on companies to voluntarily offer information.


As such, comprehensive information about which particular foods contain nanoparticles is hard to come by. Groups that are attempting to provide a go-to guide, particularly the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, have captured just a sliver of products. In some cases, particularly when it comes to supplements, packaging will tout the inclusion of nanosilver or nanoiron. But in most cases, consumers have no idea if a food product or its packaging contains nanomaterials. What’s worse, scientists are still uncovering the possible health impacts of ingesting nanoparticles and discovering that these tiny particles could cause harm when they enter the bloodstream through the digestive tract and accumulate in organs


The FDA has thus far preferred a hands-off approach, treating nanoparticles as equivalent to their larger-scale counterparts. But science shows us that the particles’ small size makes them capable of bypassing the blood-brain barrier and lodging in lungs, bringing unintended consequences. In 2011, researchers found that inhaled carbon nanotubes (used in plastics and computer chips) can damage the lungs similar to asbestos, giving rise to cancer. Ingested nanoparticles may have more subtly damaging effects—including inducing over-absorption of a particular vitamin or mineral to a toxic level. Each nanoparticle reacts differently with the human body and each needs thorough testing before it can be considered safe for consumption; but there’s been no such cautionary delay in bringing these products to market.


What do we know about where nanoparticles are found? A lot of white processed foods contain nano-sized titanium dioxide for pigment purposes—including Mentos, Trident gum, M&Ms and Nestle Original Coffee Creamer. Food packaging is another route of exposure, though it’s nearly impossible to determine which contain nanoaluminum and nanosilver, used for its antibacterial properties. What’s needed—with nanoparticles and all chemicals—is a precautionary approach that safety tests firsts and approves second. Instead, researchers are scrambling to determine adverse health outcomes, industry is keeping quiet, the FDA is avoiding the issue and consumers are left in the dark.


The FDA “Fact Sheet” on Nanotechnology


Fact Sheet: Nanotechnology

April 2012


Nanotechnology Overview


Nanotechnology is an emerging technology that has the potential to be used in a broad array of FDA-regulated products, including medical products, foods and cosmetics. Nanomaterials, developed using nanotechnology, are measured in nanometers — equal to about one-billionth of a meter — so small that they can’t be seen with a regu­lar microscope. These nanomaterials can have different chemical, physical, or biological properties than their conventionally-scaled counterpart materials used in many products regulated by FDA.


FDA has long encountered the combination of promise, risk, and uncertainty that accompanies emerging technologies. Nanotechnology is not unique in this regard. The very changes in biological, chemical and other properties that can make nanotechnology applications so exciting also may merit examination to determine any effects on product safety, effectiveness, or other attributes. Understanding nanotechnol­ogy remains a top FDA priority. FDA is monitoring the evolving science and has a robust research agenda to help assess the safety and effectiveness of products using nanotechnology.


Strong science is critical to FDA’s ongoing review of the products it regulates. FDA is investing in an FDA-wide nanotechnology regulatory science program to further enhance FDA’s scientific capabilities, including developing necessary data and tools to identify properties of nanomaterials and assess the impact they may have on products. In general, FDA considers the current framework for safety assessments sufficiently robust and flexible to be appropriate for a variety of materials, including nanomaterials.

FDA is maintaining a product-focused and science-based regulatory policy to appropriately regulate products using this emerging technology. Legal standards vary among various product-classes that FDA regulates. FDA will regulate nanotechnology products under existing statutory authorities, in accordance with the specific legal standards applicable to each type of product under its jurisdiction. The agency is taking a prudent scientific approach to assess each product on its own merits, and does not make broad, general assumptions about the safety of nanotechnology products.


FDA’s Action on Nanotechnology

In June 2011, FDA issued a draft guidance a Draft Guidance for Industry entitled, “Considering Whether an FDA-Regulated Product Involves the Application of Nanotechnology” to present its thinking on considerations related to nanotechnology.[1] In that draft guidance, FDA indicated that the Agency would issue product-specific guidances in the future, as appropriate.


Accordingly, FDA is issuing for public comment two product-specific draft guidance documents to address the use of nanotechnology by the foods and cosmetics industries. Both guidance documents are being issued as part of FDA’s ongoing implementation of recommendations from FDA’s 2007 Nanotechnology Task Force Report. They are:


Draft Guidance for Industry: Assessing the Effects of Significant Manufacturing Process Changes, including Emerging Technologies, on the Safety and Regulatory Status of Food Ingredients and Food Contact Substances, Including Food Ingredients that are Color Additives1


Draft Guidance for Industry: Safety of Nanomaterials in Cosmetic Products2

The draft foods guidance alerts manufacturers to the potential impact of any significant manufacturing process change, including those involving nanotechnology, on the safety and regulatory status of food substances. This guidance describes the factors manufacturers should consider when determining whether a significant change in manufacturing process for a food substance already in the market:


Affects the identity of the food substance;

Affects the safety of the use of the food substance;

Affects the regulatory status of the use of the food substance; and

Warrants a regulatory submission to FDA.

The draft foods guidance also recommends manufacturers consult with FDA regarding a significant change in manufacturing process for a food substance already in the market.


The draft cosmetics guidance, describes FDA’s current thinking on the safety assessment of nanomaterials when used in cosmetic products.

Cosmetics are not subject to premarket approval; however, they must be safe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions use, and they must be properly labeled.


Cosmetics manufactured using nanomaterials are subject to the same legal requirements as any other cosmetics. Companies and individuals who market cosmetics are legally responsible for the safety of their products.

In general, the processes currently in use for assessing safety are appropriate for cosmetics containing nanomaterials. However, data needs and testing methods should be evaluated in light of the properties or functions that may be exhibited by nanomaterials used in cosmetic products


FDA’s Approach to Regulation of Nanotechnology Products


FDA will continue to regulate nanotechnology products under its existing statutory authorities, in accordance with the specific legal standards applicable to each type of product under its jurisdiction. FDA intends to ensure transparent and predictable regulatory pathways grounded in the best available science.


One size does not fit all. We intend our regulatory approach to be adaptive and flexible. It is necessary for technical assessments to be product-specific, taking into account the effects of nanomaterials in the particular biological and mechanical context of each product and its intended use.

Particular approaches for each product area will vary according to the statutory authorities. The scope and issues covered in the two draft guidance documents released today – one for foods and one for cosmetics – reflect this approach.

FDA’s regulatory policy approach is consistent with relevant overarching U.S. government policy principles, and supports innovation under appropriate oversight.


Industry remains responsible for ensuring that its products meet all applicable legal requirements, including standards for safety — regardless of the emerging nature of a technology involved in the manufacturing a product. FDA encourages industry to consult early with the agency to address any questions related to the safety, effectiveness, or other attributes of products that contain nanomaterials, or about the regulatory status of such products.


Comments on the Draft Guidance Documents


Anyone may comment on any guidance at any time. In order to ensure that FDA considers comments on these draft guidance documents in developing the final guidances, electronic or written comments on these draft guidances should be submitted within 90 days of the publication of the notice of availability in the Federal Register. Electronic comments should be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov/3. Written comments should be submitted to the Division of Dockets Management, (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

For More Information


Draft Guidance for Industry: Considering Whether an FDA-Regulated Product Involves the Application of Nanotechnology4, June 2011


Draft Guidance for Industry: Assessing the Effects of Significant Manufacturing Process Changes, including Emerging Technologies, on the Safety and Regulatory Status of Food Ingredients and Food Contact Substances, Including Food Ingredients that are Color Additives5, April 2012


Draft Guidance for Industry: Safety of Nanomaterials in Cosmetic Products6, April 2012







[1] Draft Guidance for Industry; Considering Whether an FDA-Regulated Product Involves the Application of Nanotechnology; Availability7. 76 FR 34715; June 14, 2011.





KZFR Community Radio 90.1 FM

Record of Public Discussion:


Program: Ecotopia on KZFR, Tuesday, 6-7 pm

Programmers: Susan and Stephen Tchudi


Date: 11 December 2012


Guest(s), Issues Discussed, and Length of Discussion(s):

Brita Belli, Editor, E-The Environmental Magazine. Topics include “nanoparticles,” small molecules being placed in food products that may be harmful to your health, but are largely unregulated by the FDA; ocean acidification and its effects on shellfish; the general state of the enviornmental movement and the odds favoring or disfavoring its ultimate triumph.



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