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Thursday, May 22,2014

news briefs

Environmental groups say a proposed chemical regulation act falls short 

A bill known as the Chemicals in Commerce Act, or CICA, is being touted as a way to “improve public confidence in the safety of chemicals,” but environmental groups, as well as 13 state attorneys general, have voiced objections to the act, claiming it does more to protect chemical companies than public health.

The bill would require the Environmental Protection Agency to use existing information to determine whether chemicals pose “an unreasonable risk of harm to human health or the environment,” and then further classify those chemicals as high or low priority.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, introduced CICA to the House on Feb. 27, and a revised draft was heard by the subcommittee in early May.

“This draft legislation would take us in the wrong direction,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement prior to the subcommittee’s latest hearing on the act. “This is a dangerous giveaway to the chemical industry and ignores the growing body of science that links unregulated chemicals to rising health problems, including childhood cancer, neurological diseases, and asthma.”

CICA is an attempt to reform the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have long cried that the TSCA leaves the EPA largely unable to protect consumers because it requires the agency, not chemical companies, to prove actual harm before controlling or replacing a substance.

Lawsuit over medical marijuana marketing settled 

The manufacturer of Dixie Elixirs and Edibles says this week that it has settled what might have been the nation’s first medical marijuana lawsuit. The suit by Bridge Marketing, the maker of a blend of spices called MED-a-mints, alleged that Dixie failed to provide adequate warnings on new packaging to sell the mints as part of a working agreement between the two Boulder County companies. Boulder Weekly covered the contentious battle (“Lawsuit in the land of legal marijuana,” April 24) in which Bridge’s Gary Gabriel, who has made millions of dollars in a variety of ventures from board games to pizza restaurants, fretted over the safety of packaging he said was irresponsible. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Dixie, in a press release, says it has retained the right to sell its remaining inventory of MED-a-mints and is now developing a new line of mints on its own.

House legislation cuts nutritional standards for school meals 

For two years, the Healthy Hunger-Free-Kids Act has required schools to provide healthier meals for students, including more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but a bill introduced to the U.S. House this week would exempt some schools from those nutritional standards.

A spending bill released on May 19 by the House Agricultural Appropriations subcommittee would allow schools to apply for waivers if they can prove their lunch programs have lost money over a period of six months due to nutritional standards. Jessica Donze Black, an expert with the Pew Charitable Trust’s initiative on child nutrition, said in a statement that 90 percent of schools currently report that they are meeting the United States Department of Agriculture’s updated nutrition standards for school lunches.

“Turning back now would be a costly mistake,” said Black. ThinkProgress.org reports that the biggest funder of the bill has been the National Potato Lobby, who purportedly dished out $120,000 in support of the bill in 2013. The potato lobby has historically used their financial might to oppose regulations that aim to regulate the starchy vegetable in school nutrition guidelines.

According to the Center for Disease Control, one-third of American children are overweight or obese.

A petition opposing the legislation, released by the American Public Health Association on May 19, has already garnered support from more than 100 nutrition and children’s advocacy groups, including Live Well Colorado.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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