VaLerie’s Blog

Methyl Iodide – A Terrible Strawberry Pesticide from Arista LifeSciences Corporation

Do We REALLY Have to Choose Between Ozone Layer Depletion and Cancer?   by VaLerie K


Love those strawberries that come from that world leader in health – California? 

Then you need to know about this.

On September 25, 2009, the U.S. EPA publicly agreed to reopen its decision on methyl iodide, a highly toxic pesticide that has been used on strawberries, among other crops, in California (by far the leading producer of US-grown strawberries) for the past couple of years.

Before methyl iodide hit the scene in late 2007, the pesticide of choice was methyl bromide, but it needed to be phased out because of its proven ozone-depleting qualities.  So what did Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corporation provide to strawberry farmers instead?  Methyl idodide, a chemical that, while it does not seem to harm the ozone layer, reliably causes cancer in lab experiments.

That’s right, researchers use methyl iodide to induce cancer in animals so they can study the disease.

Thanks to continued pressure from health and farmworker rights groups, the EPA is reassessing its prior decision to allow the use of methyl iodide in California.  This decision is being made NOW, and you can have an impact.  At the end of the article are links to action websites where you can add your voice or help fight this prime example of corporate greed over human lives.

Farmers And Environmentalists Fighting Off Toxic Pesticide From California Fields  by Dolores M. Bernal, NEWS JUNKIE POST
Oct 6, 2009

Environmentalists and labor groups have joined forces to stop a new cancer-causing pesticide from being used in crops across California. The pesticide, commonly known as “MIDAS Soil Fumigant,” uses methyl iodide as its key ingredient. Methyl iodide is extremely great at killing bugs, but also at killing animals and humans — causing cancer and harm to the nervous system to those exposed to it for long periods of time: migrant farm workers and their families.


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Pharmaceutical Giant Wyeth is Busted – for secretly hiring ghost writers to put a rosy spin on Hormone Therapy Drugs


So.. is this common practice for pharmos?

Hormone Replacement Therapy to treat symptoms of menopause (we’re talking drugs) is rife with danger.  We all hate feeling like crap and feeling out of control of our bodies, but there are many natural ways of lessening and even preventing the range of symptoms that can accompany menopause, as well as the more serious health issues associated with it.

Ladies, get with it.  The pharmaceutical industry is not your friend (and may be tricking your doctor).

It was recently discovered that pharmaceutical giant Wyeth paid to have misleadingly positive articles written about their hormone drugs, passed on to experts in the field to ‘review’, then submitted to Medical Journals with those experts listed as authors to give the appearance that the articles were objectively and independently researched.  Pretty sneaky.  But why did Wyeth go to all that trouble?

Maybe because a research study in 2002 testing these same hormone drugs on female subjects was CANCELED because of mounting evidence linking the drugs with increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.  So they stopped testing on live subjects because of the dire health risks, yet Wyeth continued pushing these drugs and doctors continued prescribing them.  Chilling, isn’t it?

Posted by VaLerie K

Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy

Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by a pharmaceutical company played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.


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Sun Safety Tips For Kids


from Environmental Working Group
posted by VaLerie K

Kids are more vulnerable to damage caused by the sun. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. Keep your family safe in the sun by using a sunscreen that’s effective and safe. Take these special precautions with infants and children:


Infants under 6 months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin. So when you take your infant outside, take special care:

  • COVER UP your baby’s sensitive skin with protective clothing, tightly woven but loose-fitting, and a sun hat.
  • MAKE SHADE with your stroller’s canopy or hood. If you can’t find a shady spot to sit, put up an umbrella.
  • AVOID SUN DURING MIDDAY — take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • FOLLOW PRODUCT WARNINGS FOR SUNSCREEN ON INFANTS UNDER 6 MONTHS OLD – Most manufacturers advise to avoid use for infants or to consult a doctor before using. The American Academy of Pediatrics now says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when shade is not available.



Quick Tip: Make Your Own ‘Enhanced Water’  by VaLerie K


Now that it’s summer where I live and the sun’s rays are steeper so we sweat and lose fluids, it’s more important than ever to drink plenty of water each day.  There is really no substitute, all the sugar and added ingredients in enhanced waters do NOT provide extra benefits that you can’t get from basic H2O (and you know soda is a terrible thing to drink, regular or diet, right?  If not, click HERE and HERE). 

Plus you can probably save yourself some cash (water may not be free, but it’s still relatively cheap, especially if you filter your own water at home).

But wait, I have a confession to make.  I drink a lot of the stuff, but even to me, sometimes water seems kinda boring.  Maybe these tricks I’m about to share will help you discover a latent love for the liquid of life, or like me you will enjoy the variety and have renewed zest for drinking good ole WATER.


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Future Weather the Movie: Philly Filmmaker Jenny Deller is on a Quest to Make a Feature Film Sustainably

by VaLerie K

future_weather_synopsis_01.gifEver think about the wastefulness of the entertainment industry?  Here’s a biz where they build a whole city in a matter of weeks, only to dismantle it or blow it up in the end.  A movie crew can sweep into a city, a major U.S. city that is struggling to maintain funding for basic public services, and make streets over to look like Toronto in the 1800s, filled with horses and carriages with fake street signs and gas lamps.  Or a movie crew can make a summer day look like fall, or a sunny day into an overcast sky pouring rain.  And as is probably obvious, these movie and tv projects use an enormous amount of energy and resources, usually without really taking the environmental cost into account.

And yet there is a lone warrior, on a noble mission to actually produce an independent feature film without a huge carbon footprint.  Ok, she’s not so lone as all that, Jenny Deller has gathered a group of talented and dedicated folk around her to work toward making the story come to life in as environmentally-friendly way as possible.  “Future Weather” is a tale about a plucky tween determined to learn to grow trees from seed in an effort to help slow global warming.  Deller and her team have also developed a resource blog about all things green and sustainable. where you can find all kind of info from green gifts for any occasion, to how to navigate the complex world of plastic recycling, to a review of an automotive product called ‘the blade’ that you can attach to your car to reduce carbon emissions instantly.

For Future Weather: The Movie [website], click HERE.

For Future Weather Report [the Blog], click HERE.

To see the BiG TeA PaRtY blog post about our participation in GreenFest Philly 2008’s Eco-Film Fest, programmed and hosted by none other than Jenny Deller and Future Weather the Movie, click HERE.

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Reduce Your Staple Use  By VaLerie K


Staples – so tiny, so innocuous, so ubiquitous.  Who would think they are a big planetary pollution culprit?  But they are. 

According to Practical Environmentalist website, common office staples “gobble up energy at every step of their production and use”.  The ore to make the galvanized steel has to be mined, transported, smelted to form staples one at a time, the staples are re-heated and coated with a layer of zinc, cooled and assembled into stacks, packaged, transported again to be sold in stores, many are thrown out during use (I don’t know about you, but for every successful staple, I often blow through a couple that don’t work out), and on top of all that they put a strain on the paper recycling stream by jamming machinery and necessitating industrial magnets and screening filters to get the little buggers outta there, and after they are removed they are too tiny to recycle so they end up in a landfill anyhow.  SHEESH!


There are commercial ‘staple free staples’ out there, which punch a hole through the pages and fold back the punched-out bit at the same time – a brilliant idea.  But I’ll do you one better.  I learned a ridiculously simple technique when I was little (I must have had a hippie teacher way ahead of her time).

1.  Fold back the corner of your stack of papers to form a triangle, like so:






Many people feel that all-natural cleaning products don’t work as well as toxic chemical cleaners. No matter that many commonly used cleaning products can burn your skin, injure your pet, pollute the air in your house, contaminate tap water, or make your child sick (especially babies who aren’t walking yet and have a very up-close relationship with floor and furniture).

Is it really more important to get a coffee stain out of your favorite blouse than it is to have an unpolluted water supply? Which is better: a spotless bathtub or safe air to breathe?

Besides, in many cases, natural household cleaners DO work just as well as their toxic cousins, or so close that it’s hardly worth complaining. Why not at least give it a TRY, when the stakes are so high?

If you’re thinking that buying all-natural, non-toxic cleaning products will be too expensive, then check this: the article I’ve selected includes some recipes for cleaning products you can make yourself out of stuff you probably already have in your kitchen cabinet. Green cleaning doesn’t have to drain your bank account! Happy cleaning and GO GREEN!! Love, VaLerie K

A green home is good enough to eat

Using natural products to clean a house spares environment,
protects your health – and smells positively edible

by Catherine Porter
The Toronto Star

I cleaned my house with salad dressing the other day.

The recipe for all-natural wood cleaner and polish called for nothing but olive oil and vinegar.

It felt bizarre – like wearing dental floss as jewelery. But it worked beautifully. The console in the front hall still gleams like a church pew.

I didn’t want to eat it, despite my predilection for salad. If I did, that would be okay.

Which is the whole point of green cleaning.

“There are over one million poisonings a year in North America, and 60 per cent are children under six, most of whom have eaten household cleaners,” says Rob Grand, the owner of the green retail store Grassroots.

Getting rid of all the chemical cleaners in my house was my next step in lightening my ecological footprint. True, it’s not as big a step as, say, ditching my car. But it’s easier. And it makes a difference – not just to my health but to the environment.

Cleaning products and services are the leading source of toxic air pollution in our homes, according to the Consumers Guide to Effective Environmental Choices, published by the U.S.-based non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists.

They’re also causing water pollution. Hormone-disrupting chemicals from antibacterial soaps and cleaning agents – among other things – were [found last year] in San Francisco Bay during a year-long study by the Environmental Working Group, an American non-profit agency.

One of the chemicals, triclosan, has been shown to feminize fish.



Turn out your lights for Earth Hour tomorrow night!  [posted by VaLerie K]

Earth Hour commemorative poster© Shepard Fairey

That’s right, tomorrow night – Saturday March 28th.

Grab a flashlight or some candles and take a stand with people from all over the planet:

On March 28, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time, millions of people across the globe will turn out their lights to raise awareness and take action to fight climate change.  Will you vote for Earth with your light switch?


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Probable Carcinogens Found in Baby Toiletries
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 48 popular children’s bath products and found that 61% contained two toxic chemicals that are potentially very unsafe for kids  by VaLerie K
This was all over the news recently, maybe you’ve heard about it.  In case you haven’t I’m including the article from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website below.

There’s good news too: on EWG’s cosmetics safety database, called “Skin Deep”, you can look up specific baby products, or view a complete list and find out what is safe and what is not.

To get to EWG’s Parent’s Buying Guide, the safety guide to children’s personal care products, click HERE.

For the results of the test with a list of tested products, click HERE.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Report: Toxic Chemicals Found in Kid’s Bath Products
Environmental Working Group, March 2009

Children’s bath products are often marketed as safe and gentle. However, laboratory tests commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found these products are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane – and, in many cases, both. These two chemicals, linked to cancer and skin allergies, are anything but safe and gentle and are completely unregulated in children’s bath products.


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American taste for soft toilet roll “worse than driving Hummers”

Extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply toilet roll made from virgin wood causes more damage than gas-guzzlers, fast food or McMansions, say campaigners

written by Suzanne Goldberg, Guardian UK

aborigines_toilet_paper.jpgposted by VaLerie K

The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country’s love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public’s insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom.

“This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous,” said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council.

“Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution.” Making toilet paper has a significant impact because of chemicals used in pulp manufacture and cutting down forests.


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