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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

News Follow-Up

Air Date: Week of

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New developments in some of the stories we’ve been following recently.


CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the news we've been tracking lately. Research by scientists at the University of California at Berkeley showing that genetically modified strains of corn in the U.S. have spread into crops in Mexico is being challenged. C.S. Prakash is a professor of plant genetics at Tuskegee University and president of AgBioWorld, a pro-biotech information center. He says the UCal. researchers misinterpreted their results when they scanned Mexican corn seed for evidence of transgenic DNA sequences.

PRAKASH: It was flawed in the methodology, and the most likely explanation of the results that they observed were, in fact, they were simply finding some false positives, or artifacts that they concluded were to be transgenes.

CURWOOD: Professor Prakash says the gene flow from transgenic to non-transgenic corn is bound to happen sometime somewhere. But, he says, the UCal. study, published in Nature, does not provide the scientific evidence to prove it, and that about 100 scientists have signed a petition asking the journal to review the data.


CURWOOD: The town of Libby, Montana, is on its way to becoming a Superfund site and getting millions of federal clean-up dollars from the fund. Asbestos was spread throughout the community for decades because the mineral was in vermiculite that was minded in the town. Todd O'Hare from the Montana governor's office says the state decided to use its one so-called silver bullet to fast track Libby to the top of the Superfund list.

O'HARE: I think taking a look at the health concerns that are related with Libby, the fact that you're dealing with a company, in W.R. Grace, that's bankrupt, I think the concern was that we needed to get this mess cleaned up and we needed to get it cleaned up as soon as possible.

CURWOOD: There are 60 days of public comment before the Superfund designation is made final.


CURWOOD: Another mining operation received a setback recently. This one aims to extract clay, to be made into premium kitty litter. County Commissioners in Nevada denied the Oil-Dri Corporation's permit to build a processing facility in Washoe County. Oil-Dri's Bob Vetere says the decision leaves the company with less appealing options on where to site the plant.

VETERE: If we were to go into BLM property, then it becomes a much more out in the open plant, as opposed to being hidden around the side of a mountain. If we decide to haul it out of Washoe County to process it, then all the jobs leave Washoe County. If we decide to haul it out of state, then the state of Nevada loses all the jobs and the revenue from it.

CURWOOD: Vetere says Oil-Dri intends to proceed with the cat litter mine. And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.



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