EWG News Roundup (12/21): Farm Subsidies for Millionaires, Trump Ignores Consumers with GMO Rule and More

This week President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill – a package that will allow the wealthiest farmers, their relatives and millionaire city slickers to receive even more taxpayer-funded farm subsidies, even if they don’t live or work on the farm. Concurrently, the president also announced plans for even more work requirements for struggling Americans who receive meager federal food assistance just to put food on their tables.

“At the very same time that President Trump is enriching the largest and most successful farmers – and their distant relations – with unlimited farm subsidies, he is also launching a new front in his war on America’s hungry,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

In addition, this week the Trump administration announced a woefully inadequate plan to protect children from lead exposure and released the final GMO food disclosure rule that will allow the genetically engineered ingredients in many foods to remain hidden from consumers.

Over on our Children’s Health site, we put the recent news of the two new Herbal Essences products earning the EWG VERIFIED™ seal into perspective for parents.

And finally, we published an analysis of the expansion of renewable energy sources and the jobs it’s creating in America’s heartland.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

EWG VERIFIED Herbal Essences Shampoos

Chicago Tribune: Giant Proctor & Gamble teams with health watchdog to revamp shampoo

In August 2015, Procter & Gamble Co. held a focus group for its Herbal Essences shampoo — a brand launched in 1971 and inspired by wildflowers, herbs and fresh mountain water. But during the sessions, something much less peaceful came up: repeated references to the industry's long-time tormentor, the Environmental Working Group. Reprint of Bloomberg News article.

Drug Store News: Herbal Essences unveils new EWG Verified products

Procter & Gamble’s beauty brand, Herbal Essences announced that it has formulated two new sulfate-free botanical shampoos. These two new formulations meet the Environmental Working Group’s stamp of approval for verification.

Farm Bill

UPI: Trump signs farm bill, announces food stamp work requirement rule

Under the previous farm bill, such subsidies sometimes went to relatives who did not live or work on the farm, according to the Environmental Working Group, which has criticized the new provision. This new rule may enable more money to go to people who are not farmers, the group has said. 

Las Vegas Review-Journal: Opinion – Farm bill shows that Republicans and Democrats can spend harmoniously

The Environmental Working Group’s Scott Faber has been a longtime critic of farm subsidies. On Wednesday, however, Faber praised the measure’s drinking water reforms and provisions to promote organic farming. The next day he released a statement that lit into the farm subsidies for “millionaires and city slickers.” Distributed by Creators Syndicate.

Government Executive: Agriculture Readies Second Round of Tariff-Related Farm Aid

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group, which advocates and educates on health issues, had on Nov. 19 released a critical analysis of the earlier round of payments. “Unfortunately, President Trump’s farmer bailout program is not necessarily helping the farmers most threatened by his escalating trade war,” the group's communications deputy director, Sarah Graddy, told Government Executive on Tuesday.

Successful Farming: Trump Signs 2018 Farm Bill

“At the very same time that President Trump is enriching the largest and most successful farmers — and their distant relations — with unlimited farm subsidies, he is also launching a new front in his war on America’s hungry,” said Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group. 

GMO Labeling

Business Insider: A new rule requires GMO products to be labeled by 2022, and some food companies are rejoicing

In an online statement, the Environmental Working Group called the USDA's latest decision “unlawful” and “disappointing.”  “At a time when consumers are asking more and more questions about the use of genetic engineering, today's rule will further undermine the technology by sowing greater confusion among Americans,” the organization wrote. Reprinted by Yahoo! FinanceAlbany Times Union,  SeattlePISFGate and 27 other media outlets.

Feedstuffs: Support mixed for bioengineered food labeling rule

Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, criticized the lack of disclosure required under the rule. “At a time when consumers are asking more and more questions about the use of genetic engineering, today’s rule will further undermine the technology by sowing greater confusion among Americans who simply want the right to know if their food is genetically modified – the same right held by consumers in 64 other countries,” Faber said. 

Environmental Protection Agency and Lead Policy

Common Dreams: Trump Plan to Protect Kids From Lead Falls Far Short

The long-awaited plan by the Trump administration to “wage a war against lead” and protect children from exposure to the potent neurotoxin is a woefully unacceptable response to this public health crisis, said Environmental Working Group. Reprint of EWG news release. 

EcoWatch: Trump Plan to Protect Kids From Lead Falls Far Short

The long-awaited plan by the Trump administration to "wage a war against lead" and protect children from exposure to the potent neurotoxin is a woefully unacceptable response to this public health crisis, said Environmental Working Group. Reprint of EWG news release.

EPA Roll Back of Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)

Iowa Public Television: Policy Changes Ripple Down To The Farm

The American Farm Bureau Federation applauded the move while the Environmental Working Group warned many of the nation’s small waterways would no longer be protected from pollution. Officials with the EWG believes tap water safety across the country could be in question.

DTN The Progressive Farmer: New WOTUS Rule Dials Back Federal Reach

The Environmental Working Group criticized the proposal for not taking into account that small streams are sources of drinking water. EWG said small streams provide at least some drinking water for more than 110 million people in 30 states.

Asbestos in Talc

Bridgewater Courier News: Johnson & Johnson: Rutgers expert advises consumer to be 'skeptical' about personal care products

Barrett recommended the Environmental Working Group’s "Skin Deep" Cosmetics Database as a resource for understanding what’s in the personal care products. Reprinted by Medical Health News. 

Consumer Affairs: Johnson & Johnson isn’t the only one who uses talc. Is it time to ditch all powdered makeup?

“There is no law that prohibits the presence of asbestos in cosmetics,” warns the Environmental Working Group, which has called on Congress for years to establish tougher regulations on cosmetics. “The Food and Drug Administration encourages companies to carefully select talc mines to avoid asbestos contamination, but it does not have the power to regulate products that contain talc,” the group adds.

Body Burden

MindBodyGreen: This Is The Best Hormone Advice We've Heard All Year

Pay close attention to toxins; they matter to your hormones. In an article for the Environmental Working Group, Sonya Lunder, MPH, wrote, “Once disputed as a contributor to breast cancer, environmental pollutants are now known to play a significant role. Chemicals in our food, water, and homes can alter DNA and gene expression to change the way breast cells develop, making tissues susceptible to cancer.” 

Cleaning Products

TIME: 5 Costco Kirkland Signature Items You Should NEVER Buy

Despite the detergent’s name, The Environmental Working Group has given Kirkland’s “Environmentally Responsible” liquid laundry detergent an F-grade for environmental friendliness, citing risks of asthma, skin irritation, cancer, and harm to the environment. Some customers on Consumer Reports also reported getting rashes after using Kirkland’s Free & Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent.


Allure: Dangerous Levels of Mercury Found in Some Skin-Care Products Bought on Amazon and eBay

“Most Americans are aware that mercury is dangerous, but many people don't realize that [it's] sometimes used as the active ingredient in skin-lightening creams,” explains Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which was one of the advocacy groups behind the letters and who issued a press release about the findings. “Mercury cannot be used more than 1ppm in skin creams, but the FDA lacks resources to adequately police the marketplace.” Reprinted by Yahoo! Lifestyle

New Beauty: High Levels of Mercury Found in These Skincare Products

Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney for the Environmental Working Group (EWG)—which is one of the 51 advocacy groups bringing the issue to light—explained in a press release that these findings are a major problem for those buying skincare products online, especially skin lightening creams since mercury is a bleaching agent.

Refinery29: Pivoting To Politics: How The Kardashians Rebranded In 2018

In a season 15 episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kourtney journeyed to Washington, where she partnered with the Environmental Working Group for better laws governing cosmetics in the U.S.

ELuxe Magazine: The 10 Best Organic Serums for All Skins

According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, women in the US apply an average of 168 chemicals to their faces and bodies every single day. Additionally, it is very possible for many of those chemicals to be absorbed through our skin and into our bloodstream. This includes pesticides, as well as known potentially carcinogenic and toxic ingredients like parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals and PEG compounds, ethoxylated ingredients, propylene glycol, chemical preservatives, and many other undesirables.


The San Luis Obispo Tribune: What’s a CBD bath bomb? Atascadero business has plenty of products to ease aches, pains

Firefighters, who use Action Wipes to clean soot, debris and carcinogenic substances from their skin after battling blazes, have also embraced the product, Curt Van Inwegen said, noting it was the first body wipe on the market to be verified by the Environment Working Group (EWG), which tracks chemical safety in consumer products.


Eco18: 5 Eco Organization to Donate To During the Holidays

The Environmental Working Group is a leading advocate devoted to public health. EWG works to educate and empower consumers allowing them to make safer, more informed decisions about the products they use in their daily life (including pesticides in food!) EWG’s impact is causing companies to improve their ingredients for the consumer’s benefit. Donate here 

Insteading: 10 Gifts To Give That Will Change The World

Through breakthrough research and education, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) works to empower people to live healthier lives. EWG is non-profit and non-partisan and focuses on informing the public about harmful chemicals, GMOs, and other additives that affect the products, food, and water supply that we rely on every day.

Food Additives

MSN Lifestyle: 30 Scariest Additives Hiding in Your Food

You’ll find the ingredient on the Environmental Working Group’s food additive watch list. One toxicity study found that prolonged exposure to low levels of aluminum exposure to Alzheimer’s disease, although more research is needed. While there is still scientific uncertainty around these additives. EWG explains that their place on the additive “watch list” is warranted due to their widespread use.

Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health

Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine):Letter to the editor: Eat plant-centered diet to benefit environment and your health
The Environmental Working Group’s “Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health” is a comprehensive resource that explains the connection between our food choices and greenhouse gas emissions. Its tips for shopping, decoding labels on meat and dairy, and colorful graphics make clear how our choices can contribute to environmental degradation.

Monsanto’s Glyphosate

Legal NewsLine: Consumer alleges Kellogg fails to disclose two products contain herbicide

The plaintiff cites testing done by the Environmental Working Group that claims the defendant's products contain herbicide glyphosate. He alleges that the defendant does not disclose the information that the products contain or likely contain glyphosate and that the health representations on the products are false. 

PFAS in Food Wrappers

Business Insider: Whole Foods packaging contained little-known chemicals linked to cancer until a report called them out. Here’s how to protect yourself.

Another common category to watch out for is cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has identified 66 cosmetic and personal care products with PFAS from 15 different brands. Aside from referencing the EWG's database, consumers should look for the words "fluoro" or "perfluoro" among the ingredients on their cosmetic items. Reprinted by SF Gate and 22 other media outlets.

EWG's Consumer Guide to Seafood

Triple Pundit: Millennials’ Food Choices Means Canned Tuna Stays on Shelves

As for canned tuna’s carbon footprint, there’s some debate. While the Environmental Working Group claims not eating canned tuna saves 6.1 kilograms of CO2 per kilo of canned tuna, a studycommissioned by the WWF estimated the carbon footprint of canned tuna to be far lower.

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Reader’s Digest: 25 Easy Ways to Be Healthier Than Ever in the New Year

Abide by the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Dirty Dozen” list to discover which fruits and vegetables are highest in pesticides, then buy those organic. Find out these other facts you didn’t know about organic food. Reprinted by MSN.

Nature’s Path: Does Organic Food Lower Your Cancer Risk?

Eating organic food may also help cancel out the harm done by pesticide residues in conventional foods. It could aid in boosting our immune systems and protect against the numerous environmental toxins we can be exposed to on a daily basis in today’s modern world. One helpful tool for eating organic is the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen/ Dirty Dozen list. It helps shoppers determine which fruits and vegetables are the “cleanest” and “dirtiest” in terms of pesticide residues.

Tap Water Database 

The Worcester Telegram (Worcester, Mass.): Complaints persist over color, taste of water in Shrewsbury; officials stress it’s safe to drink

Mr. Tozeski said the new filtration system was not specifically designed to filter out hexavalent chromium-6, a carcinogen unexpectedly detected in some of the town’s wells in 2016, after a report from the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit watchdog group. Reprinted by Wicked Local Shrewsbury. 

PFAS in Drinking Water

Associated Press: NY council recommends contaminant limits for drinking water

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group estimates that more than 1,500 water systems across the country may be contaminated with the chemicals. Exposure at high levels is linked to some forms of cancer and other problems. Reprinted by the San Francisco ChronicleSFGate, the Seattle PIU.S. News & World Report and 110 other media outlets.

MLive: Ann Arbor-area school on bottled water after PFAS contaminates well

Health risks for PFBS, or perfluorobutane sulfonate, include cancer, harm to the immune system and liver, hormone disruption, and harm to fetal growth and child development, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Teflon Cookware

Mercola: The Wrong Cookware Can Decrease Manhood

The contamination problems were not limited to the Ohio and West Virginia areas as demonstrated by the Teflon report released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which found PFOA in 94 water districts across the 27 states. The same report highlighted research demonstrating PFOA is dangerous at levels 1,300 times lower than previously recognized by the EPA.


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