Sep 10, 2014

Save Michigan Wolves From Being Hunted

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Fans of “Teen Wolf” have many opportunities to help real wolves, including the wolves in Michigan, who came back from near extinction and are now about to be hunted.
“The simple fact of the matter is, we’re having a wolf hunt because people want to hunt wolves,” said Marvin Roberson, a staff forest ecologist with the Michigan Sierra Club. “There’s no scientific reason to hunt wolves. They’re an endangered species success story. They’ve come back from zero in Michigan over the past 25 years to 650 or so.”
Marvin said wolves haven’t killed any people in Michigan, and in fact more Michiganders have been injured by hamsters than wolves. It was made-up stories against wolves that got all this going in the first place.
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Meat Matters Webinars: Meat, Livestock & Human Health

Register for all four. Attend the ones you can.

With the global meat-eating explosion, meat production can’t be far behind. The U.S. currently produces more than 9 food billion animals — and their manure — for meat each year. Federal officials are thinking about where meat fits into revamped dietary advice for Americans. Nutrition aside, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart are asking where meat production and consumption fit into the notion of sustainability; there are huge amounts of manure, water, antibiotics, hormones and energy involved. In short, meat matters. How much meat to eat, and what kind? It affects your health, the public’s health and to the environment we all share.
1) September 15, 2014 12pm ET/9am PT   Meat Racket 
In his new book, Meat Racket, investigative reporter Christopher Leonard adds to the public spotlight on why meat (and who produces it) matters. Dr. Michael Greger, physician-host of Nutrition Facts, and staff scientist at the Humane Society of the United States, explores why a meat industry that treats food animals well could also better serve public health. Moderating is Bob Martin,  director of the Food System Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and former director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.

2) October 23, 2014, 1 pm ET/10am PT.  Food Day Special:  The 21st Century Jungle. The U.S. produces over 9 billion food animals annually, but meat factories, slaughterhouses and packing plants remain invisible to most. (In several states, it’s illegal to document and show what's happening inside.) Conditions within these facilities are critical to public health, food safety, and of course the health of workers. Updating the lessons Upton Sinclair’s classic, The Jungle, is Ted Genoways’ new book, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food. Join the conversation with Ted Genoways and Joann Lo, Executive Director of the Food Chain Workers Alliance, moderated by Keeve Nachman, PhD, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future's Food Production and Public Health Program.

3) December 4, 2014, 1pm ET/10am PT   What Meat to Eat
What we eat has rippling effects beyond our own health. For the first time, experts advising the USDA on the newest (2015) version of its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are considering the sustainability of the American diet. That’s also on the agenda for Menus of Change, a joint effort of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America.  Author, physician and nutrition expert, Walter Willett, MD, MPH, presents. Roni Neff, PhDDirector of the Food System Sustainability Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, and editor of Introduction to the U.S. Food System, discusses sustainability and the Dietary Guidelines.  Hugh Joseph, PhD of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University will moderate. 

4) January 2015.  Cultivating Health. 
Our gut bacteria shape our health. Dr. Martin Blaser, past president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), explains the connection highlighted in his recent book  Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern PlaguesDr. Lance Price, public health professor at George Washington University, explores the contribution of industrial meat production, including its reliance on antibiotics. IDSA cosponsors. 

REGISTER TODAYContact for more information or sponsorship opportunities.

Sep 2, 2014

Van Buren landfill seeks tenfold increase in radiation allowances

12:29 PM, September 2, 2014 

A hazardous waste landfill near Belleville [see map below] that has gained the attention of Michigan lawmakers for accepting low-activity radioactive oil and gas fracking waste from other states is seeking approval for a tenfold increase in allowable radiation levels in the materials it receives.

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How to make your voice heard

USEcology is asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to allow it a tenfold increase in the level of radiation in waste it stores at its Wayne Disposal landfill in Van Buren Township.
To voice an opinion on the request:
Contact the Snyder administration:
Gov. Rick Snyder: 517-373-3400 or P.O. Box 30013, Lansing, MI 48909
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality: 800-662-9278
Contact your state representative or senator:
Visit and click “contact your representative” or “contact your senator” to find the lawmakers who represent you and how to contact them.

Aug 4, 2014

Schuette Sues to Block Great Lakes Clean-Up As Thousands Denied Clean Drinking Water

Vote for Mark Totten for Attorney General

Mark Totten for Michigan Attorney General
August 4, 2014
Contact: / (269) 203-3520
Schuette Sues to Block Great Lakes Clean-Up 
As Thousands Denied Clean Drinking Water
Sides with major campaign contributors in lawsuit
that harms Michigan families, Great Lakes 
KALAMAZOO — As state and national attention focuses on how Great Lakes pollution is denying nearly a half-million people clean drinking water in Michigan and Ohio, Attorney General Bill Schuette is in court fighting efforts to clean up Lake Erie and prevent the very contamination now at issue. Schuette has received tens of thousands of a dollars in campaign contributions from the industrial polluters he is championing in his law suit.

Mark Totten, a Democratic candidate for Michigan Attorney General, stated: "Industry doesn’t need another lawyer; Michigan children who can’t drink the water out of their own faucets do," said Mark Totten, Democratic candidate for Attorney General. “Yet again, Schuette has put his donors and political career ahead of keeping our families and children safe, and families throughout southeast Michigan are paying the price.”

The case at issue was brought by industrial groups challenging a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay that would prevent the algae blooms currently grabbing headlines in Lake Erie. Schuette said he joined the Chesapeake case to ensure similar clean-ups were not contemplated for the Great Lakes. The primary plaintiff in the case is the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has donated thousands of dollars to Schuette’s Attorney General campaign. For example, on September 27, 2010, the Farm Bureau wrote Schuette a check for $20,000.

The states surrounding the Bay and the federal government have all backed the plan, known as the “Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint.” For years, pollution has severely degraded the waters of the Chesapeake, causing not only environmental harm but damaging local economies. After years of regulating point sources (i.e., drain pipes), the state and federal partners decided serious measures to curb non-point sources was necessary to restore the waters. The primary source of non-point pollution is agricultural run-off that elevates levels of phosphorus in the Bay – the very pollutant that led to the toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie this past week.
In Sept. 2013 the industry challengers lost their case. They appealed and Schuette, along with other state attorneys general, filed a brief supporting the industrial groups. Except for Michigan, which does not lie within the watershed, all of the state AGs who joined the brief are located within the Mississippi basin and are worried about limits being placed on pollutants entering the river.

In explaining his reason for joining a case half-way across the nation that concerns a body of water nowhere near Michigan, Bill Schuette explained: “If this [plan] is left to stand, other watersheds . . . could be next.” Of course, for Michigan “other watersheds” means the Great Lakes.

As the President’s “Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan” recently concluded, “[n]onpoint sources are now the primary contributors of many pollutants to the lakes and their tributaries.” Just three months ago, the President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes published an article in the Detroit Free Press chiding Bill Schuette for meddling in the Chesapeake clean-up plan and warning that Schuette’s efforts could threaten clean drinking water from Lake Erie – a prophecy now come true.

In addition to receiving the criticism of several environmental groups, Schuette’s counterparts in other states have also criticized him. Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, filed a brief in the same case opposing Schuette. In a statement accompanying his brief, Herring said: “Each Bay state, including Virginia, voluntarily entered into the current Bay restoration plan because of the economic, recreational, environmental, and intrinsic value of a healthy Chesapeake Bay. I hope the courts and my colleagues, none of whom serve a state which touches the Bay, recognize that fact and allow Virginian and its partners to continue their work.”
This release is available online here.
Mark Totten is a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at Michigan State University College of Law. He holds a law degree and a PhD in ethics from Yale University. Totten previously served as an attorney in the United States Department of Justice and as a clerk on a federal court of appeals. A media kit including a biography and media photos is available here.
Visit online at: or on Twitter at: @MarkTottenForAG
Contact: / (269) 203-3520.

Paid for by Mark Totten for Attorney General · PO Box 19463, Kalamazoo, MI 49019, United States
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Jul 30, 2014


by Sierra Club's Genetic Engineering Action Team (GEAT)
July 16, 2014


When people think of honeybees, honey comes to mind. Most people are not aware that honeybees are a major pollinator for crops that produce one third of American food, including over 140 fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. Yet honeybee populations are in significant decline.


There is a a strong body of scientific peer reviewed papers linking the honeybee demise to a widely-used class of neurotoxic pesticides called neonicotinoids ("neonics" for short). This new class of pesticides has been registered for use since the early 1990's. Commonly used neonics are imidacloprid, clothiandin, thiamethoxam (and others). Traditionally, pesticides are applied directly to the soil or plant. In 2005, Monsanto received patents to "coat" their propriety genetically manipulated seeds with neonics, primarily manufactured by Syngenta and Bayer. Since 2005, seed treatments became the new norm, in order to protect emerging seedlings from pests. These neonic coated seeds are encapsulated with a material which releases the pesticide slowly.

Neonics are systemic pesticides that are taken up through roots and leaves and distributed throughout the entire plant, including pollen and nectar. They are even present in the tiny drops of fluid which form on the plant's surface. Neonics are slow to break down. They contaminate surface water, ground water, and soil. The entire food chain becomes contaminated.

Neonics endanger not only pollinators, but also other beneficial species that inhabit these ecosystems, such as butterflies, earthworms and birds. Many are calling this critical situation the next Silent Spring.


Neonics are used extensively as seed dressings on corn, soy, sunflower, canola, as well as on horticultural crops. (

Most conventional corn seeds and virtually all genetically manipulated corn seeds are now treated with a neonic seed treatment. Corn is grown not only for human consumption, but also to feed animals raised in livestock factories and feedlots and to drive our cars.


The surge in seed treatments coincided closely with the crash in honeybee populations. In 2006, David Hackenberg, former president of the American Beekeeping Federation, and other beekeepers discovered their foraging bees left the colony in search of pollen and nectar but did not come back, which is highly unusual for a social insect to leave a queen and its brood or young behind. This finding of neurobehavioral disruption is a significant distinction of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Other responses include disruptions in bee mobility, navigation, feeding behavior, foraging activity, memory and learning, and overall hive activity.

Neonics also impair the bee's immune system, leaving it much more susceptible to attacks by parasitic fungi and other disease agents.

Exposure to neonics has both lethal and sublethal effects on honeybees. Lethal effects occur when bees die within a few hours from exposure to a high dose. Sublethal effects, measured at very low doses in parts per billion or even parts per trillion, result in various harmful symptoms.


The U.S. EPA has allowed the very rapid and ubiquitous expansion of neonic application to most farmland in North America. EPA registration was based solely on the data submitted by the companies manufacturing their proprietary pesticide (primarily Bayer Crop Science). In addition, the EPA did not consider sublethal effects on honeybees in the approval process.

(EPA spokesperson Margie Fehrenbach's wrote to Sierra Club (9/10/2008), stating: "With the recent concerns about the unusual honey bee losses in this country, we are now examining more advanced methodologies for assessing behavioral effects, such as mobility, navigation/orientation, feeding patterns, learning performance, and community ecology. In order to appropriately evaluate these types of sub-lethal effects and to use the information in a regulatory context, standardized methods and protocols need to be developed for assessing these types of behavioral effects."


Numerous independent scientists signed a statement which included: "When those with a vested interest attempt to sow unreasonable doubt around inconvenient results, or when governments exploit political opportunities by picking and choosing from scientific evidence, they jeopardize public confidence in scientific methods and institutions, and also put their own citizenry at risk. Safety testing, science-based regulation, and the scientific process itself, depend crucially on widespread trust in a body of scientists devoted to the public interest and professional integrity. If instead, the starting point of a scientific product assessment is an approval process rigged in favor of the applicant, backed up by systematic suppression of independent scientists working in the public interest, then there can never be an honest, rational or scientific debate."

Many believe the crisis of worldwide bee deaths threatening the global food supply has been worsened by an industry-funded misinformation campaign and that public relation companies hired by leading chemical companies (Monsanto, Bayer, and Syngenta) have been distracting policy makers from identifying the causation of honeybee decline.


In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority officially labeled neonics to be an "unacceptable" danger to bees feeding on flowering crops and the regulations contained "major weaknesses." Following that review, the European Commission implemented a continent-wide two year suspension of the three most-used neonics.


Sierra Club's Pollinator Protection Campaign is a special project of the Sierra Club's GEAT. The evidence points to neonic seed coatings as an important cause of Colony Collapse Disorder. Most corn, soy and canola are genetically manipulated and "coated" with neonics.
(Sierra Club policy states: "Genetic engineering is a new technology which, unlike traditional breeding methods, allows the transfer of genetic material from one organism into a host organism of an unrelated species, thus bypassing the natural reproductive barriers between species.")

Sierra Club's GEAT wrote the EPA, urging the regulatory agency to suspend all neonic seed treatment product registrations until it can obtain scientific evidence that the effects are not causing harm to America's honeybees.

Sierra Club's GEAT worked with Kevin Hansen, who produced the outstanding documentary "Nicotine Bees." The film included an interview with independent scientist Charles Benbrook, PhD, who explained in layman's terms how neonics are decimating honeybee populations. Sierra Club's GEAT then distributed copies of Nicotine Bees to every member of Congress, along with a letter from the National Honey Bee Advisory Board, stating: "Nicotine Bees vividly describes a very real threat to the pollinators of our country."

Sierra Club's GEAT sent a press release (11/11/2009) announcing the release of Nicotine Bees. The McClatchy newspaper publisher picked up the story, which made its way to federal regulatory agencies.

Following the Purdue study entitled "Multiple Routes of Pesticide Exposure for Honey Bees Living Near Agricultural Fields," Sierra Club's GEAT sent a press release (1/10/2012) with the header: "New research should nail the coffin lid shut on a toxic bee-killing pesticide." Again, our release was picked up on the McClatchy wire.

Sierra Club and other groups and beekeepers (3/21/2013) filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against the EPA for failure to perform adequate toxicity evaluations and allowing registration of the pesticides on insufficient industry studies.

According to Dr. Benbrook, the EPA has never denied an application for a new pesticide, nor banned a currently registered product because of adverse impacts on bees, nor is it likely to without new legislation and a push from the public and Congress. Therefore Sierra Club sent numerous action alerts for members to encourage Congress to support the Saving America's Pollinator Act of 2013 (H.R. 2692).


  • Tell the story.
  • Call Congressional representatives to support the Saving America's Pollinator Act of 2013 (H.R. 2692). Phone calls are more effective than emails.
  • Encourage garden centers to refrain from selling neonic-treated plants.
  • Replace grass with edibles and pollinator plants in residential and business areas.
  • Plant edible gardens.
  • Install backyard beehives.
  • Encourage cities to ban neonics.
  • See the Cleveland Hts, Ohio, ordinance which bans outdoor pesticides on public grounds. (


As Dr. Benbrook so eloquently explained in his Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture (12/2008), "Our failure to ask ecologically-grounded questions, coupled with the economic power behind the private sector push toward high-cost systemic, genetic engineering and proprietary pest management technology, has set the stage for a series of train wrecks."

The EPA claims the agency will review the situation in 2018. Clearly, that's not good enough. The time is now for EPA to quit dodging the illusion of oversight and, instead, cancel these bee-killing pesticides. If we travel too far down our current path, we could create conditions in our food system much like those that brought down the financial system.

For further information, contact Laurel Hopwood at <>
(volunteer) Chair, Sierra Club Genetic Engineering Action Team
(volunteer) Coordinator, Sierra Club Pollinator Protection Campaign