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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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Developments in stories we’ve been following.


TOOMEY: Time now to follow-up on some of the new stories we’ve been tracking lately.

The State of Washington recently extended a ban on the use of clopyralid on residential and commercial lawns. Clopyralid is a weed killer. But if it gets into compost, it can kill flowers and vegetables. Dow AgroSciences manufactures the herbicide, and is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to redesign the labels on products containing clopyralid. Garry Hamlin is the company spokesperson.

HAMLIN: At this point, we’re doing a fair amount of research to find out why clopyralid does not break down well in compost, when it does break down very well in soil. But, we won’t have an answer to that in the short-term, which is why we need to remove this product from residential turf use.

TOOMEY: One exception to the ban: golf courses can continue to use clopyralid if the grass clippings are kept away from composting facilities.


TOOMEY: On the genetically modified food front, Zimbabwe recently refused a 10,000 ton U.S. shipment of GM corn. The country feared its cattle might inadvertently ingest the corn, which would make the beef unfit for trade with Europe. Andrew Natsios is the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, which attempted to deliver the shipment.

NATSIOS: In the middle of a food emergency in which people’s lives are at risk, raising an issue like GMO corn doesn’t make any sense at all. No one has ever died of any genetically modified foods. But the reality is that, in the Southern African drought, 13 million people are at risk.

TOOMEY: Natsios says USAID redirected the shipment of GM corn to neighboring Mozambique and Zambia.


TOOMEY: The plight of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot has improved. To prevent extinction, an aviary in the Caribbean National Forest is rearing captive birds for the wild. The aviary recently released nine birds to join the 25 parrots already living in the forest. Sam Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says so far, so good.

HAMILTON: They need to flock together to increase their chance of survival in the wild. And immediately, we saw the newly released birds calling back and forth to the wild flock, and actually flying with the flock. So, that was exciting to see for the first time.

TOOMEY: The Fish and Wildlife Service will work with the Puerto Rican government for the next 34 years to try to reestablish a stable population of the birds.


TOOMEY: And finally, for years, the Bureau of Land Management has been wrestling with the controversial issue of wild horses roaming on public lands. Ranchers have complained that the horses tear up fencing and vegetation. So now, the BLM says it will soon start injecting horses with a contraceptive vaccine to prevent pregnancy for up to a year. Officials say the goal is not to wipe out the horse population, just a slow reproduction in the wild, wild west. And that’s this week’s follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.



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