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October 27, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-10-27

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,4

8A - Thursday, October 27, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Companies sued
for calling bottles
biodegradable

California law
makes mislabeling
of bottles illegal
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The
California attorney general's
office yesterday sued three com-
panies over allegations they
misled consumers by marketing
plastic water bottles as biode-
gradable.
The lawsuit - said to be
the first government action to
enforce the state's environmen-
tal marketing law - accuses
ENSO Plastics of Mesa, Ariz.,
of falsely claiming their bottles
will biodegrade in less than five
years, leaving behind no harm-
ful materials.
It is illegal in California to
labela plastic food or drink con-
tainer as biodegradable when
such materials can take thou-
sands of years to break down, if
at all.
"Californians are committed
to recycling and protecting the
environment, but these efforts
are undermined by the false and
misleading claims these compa-
nies make when they wrongly
advertise their products as 'bio-
degradable,"' Attorney General
Kamala Harris said in a state-
ment.
Environmental groups have
long griped about plastic bot-
tles, which typically wind up in
the trash after a single use and
can only be recycled a num-
ber of times before the plastic

degrades.
In 2008, the state Legislature
enacted a law banning com-
panies from false advertising
on plastic food and beverage
containers after finding that
"littered plastic bags and plas-
tic containers have caused and
continue to cause significant
environmental harm and have
burdened local government
with significant environmental
cleanup costs."
The bill banned the use of
words like "biodegradable,"
"degradable" or "decompos-
able" in the labeling, a law that
will expand to all plastic prod-
ucts beginning in 2013.
Harris' lawsuit states that
ENSO claimed in marketing
materials to have developed
a resin additive that contains
microbial agents that speeds
up the centuries-long process
required to break down plastic.
The suit also said the compa-
nies are calling the bottles recy-
clable when, in reality, plastic
recyclers consider such bottles a
contaminant and will pull them
out of recyclable plastics.
The suit names two compa-
nies that sell water in ENSO's
bottles: Aquamantra, of Dana
Point, Calif., and Balance Water,
of West Orange, N.J. The prod-
ucts are found in stores across
the country, ranging from small
shops to major grocery store
chains and health food stores
such as Whole Foods.
ENSO didn't immediately
return two calls for comment.

Passengers are welcomed by lion dance to celebrate tbe airplane'sinaugaral commercial tbigbt tram Japan, at Hong Kong International Airport yesterday.
Boein g77s inaugural
flight lanldsin Hong Kon

Pb
del

AB(
(AP) -
ed 78
gers y
8-min
pictur
aviatio
The
chang
think
windo
and a
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It's
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ing Co
mater
matica
The fi
Hong
aviatio
asts -
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"It's

ne's debut was of history. New cars come out all
the time but how often do new
ayed more than planes come out?" said Stepha-
nie Wood. She and her husband
three years Dean, of Davie, Fla., won a char-
ity auction, paying nearly $18,700
CARD ANA FLIGHT 7871 for two business-class seats.
- Boeing's much-anticipat- Another passenger paid $32,000.
7 carried its first passen- The most noticeable feature of
yesterday on a four-hour, the plane is its windows, which
ute flight filled with cheers, are 30 percent larger than older
e-taking and swapping of jets. Passengers no longer need to
tn stories. hunch forward to see the ground.
new long-haul jet aims to Those in the middle of the plane
e with the way passengers can even glance out part of
about flying with larger the windows. The shades are
ws, improved lighting replaced with a glare-reducing,
ir pressure and humidity electrical dimming system that
oser resembles that on the adds tint to the window within
d. 30 seconds.
not the fastest jet or the "The windows are absolutely
t jet but the plane, nick- amazing. You're not confined.
I The Dreamliner by Boe- You've got the outside inside,"
trp., is built of lightweight Wood said.
ials that promise to dra- The $193.5 million plane's
lly improve fuel efficiency. debut was more than three years
rst flight, from Tokyo to delayed because of manufactur-
Kong, was filled with 240 ing problems. But that didn't
tn reporters and enthusi- bother the fans who broke out in
some of whom paid thou- applause at every opportunity.
of dollars for the privilege. The highlight for many was a
silly, but it's a little piece rainbow-colored light show that

transformed the sedate white
interior into something closer to
the Las Vegas strip.
Many of the 106 enthusiasts
on board the flight by Japan's All
Nippon Airways were carrying
memorabilia from past inaugu-
ral flights and snapping photos
of everything from the overhead
bins to the bathroom with a win-
dow and bidet.
Thomas Lee, of Los Angeles,
handed out his own press release
and biography. There was his
first inaugural flight - the Boe-
ing 747 as a 17-year-old boy in
1970 - and then the Airbus A380
four years ago.
"I'm not crazy," he said. "For
an aviation enthusiast, this is as
high as it gets. It's like going to a
movie on opening day."
He and the rest of the coach
passengers paid the apt sum of
78,700 yen, about $1,035, to-be
part of the inaugural flight.
The 787 has been sold by Boe-
ing as a "game changer," promis-
ing to revolutionize air travel just
as its 707 did by allowingnonstop
trans-Atlantic service and the
747 did by ushering in an age of

mass travel.
The 787 is designed to connect
cities that might otherwise not
have nonstop flights. Planes like
the Boeing 747 and 777 and the
Airbus A380 can fly most long-
haul routes but finding enough
daily passengers to fill the mas-
sive jets is a challenge. The A380
typically has 525 passengers but
can hold up to 853.
The 787 only carries 210 to 250
passengers. That means it can fly
nonstop routes that larger planes
can't profitably support like San
Francisco to Manchester, Eng-
land or Boston to Athens, Greece.
"It's goingto be a hub-avoiding
machine," said Ernie Arvai, part-
ner with aviation consulting firm
AirInsight. "You'd pay extra not
to go to (London's) Heathrow."
Connecting such smaller cit-
ies is the "holy grail" of air travel,
said Richard Aboulafia, analyst
with the Teal Group. That's why
the plane is the fastest-selling
new jet in aviation history. There
were 821 orders for the 787 before
its first flight, although 24 were
recently canceled by China East-
ern Airlines because of delays.
Former
U.S. Rep.
Howard
Wolpe dies
at age 71
Wolpe played part
in passing of federal
anti-apartheid act

6
6

Local, organic food not always
safer despite growing popularity

Yemeni women protesters burn their veils during a demonstration demanding
the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh yesterday.
Yemeni women
burn full-body
veq~Uil s in protest

Women play key
role in uprising
against president
SANAA, Yemen (AP) - Hun-
dreds of Yemeni women on
Wednesday set fire to traditional
female veils to protest the gov-
ernment's brutal crackdown
against the country's popular
uprising, as overnight clashes
in the capital and another city
killed 25 people, officials said.
In the capital Sanaa, the
women spread a black cloth
across a main street and threw
their full-body veils, known as
makrama, onto a pile, sprayed it
with oil and set it ablaze. As the
flames rose, they chanted: "Who
protects Yemeni women from
the crimes of the thugs?"
The women in Yemen have
taken a key role in the uprising
against President Ali Abdullah
Saleh's authoritarian rule that
erupted in March, inspired by
other Arab revolutions. Their
role came into the limelight ear-
lier in October, when Yemeni
woman activist Tawakkul Kar-
man was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize, along with two
Liberian women, for their strug-
gle for women's rights.
Wednesday's protest, how-
ever, was not related to women's
rights or issues surrounding the
Islamic veils - rather, the act of
4%

women burning their clothing is
a symbolic Bedouin tribal ges-
ture signifying an appeal for help
to tribesmen, in this case to stop
the attacks on the protesters.
The women who burned
clothing in the capital were
wearing traditional veils at the
time, many covered in black from
head to toe.
The women's protest came as
clashes have intensified between
Saleh's forces and renegade
fighters who have sided with the
protesters and the opposition in
demands that the president step
down.
Medical and local officials
said up to 25 civilians, tribal
fighters and government soldiers
died overnight in Sanaa and the
city of Taiz despite a cease-fire
announcement by Saleh late
Tuesday. Scores of others were
wounded.
A medical official said seven
tribal fighters were among those
killed in Sanaa's Hassaba dis-
trict. Another medical official
said four residents and nine sol-
diers also died in the fighting
there.
Government forces also
shelled houses in Taiz - a hotbed
of anti-Saleh protests - killing
five people, including four mem-
bers of one family, a local official
said. All officials spoke on condi-
tion of anonymity because they
were not authorized to speak to
the media.

Pathogens caused Group. "Unfortunately, there
are regulatory gaps, with some
20 recalls of producers being completely
foo in exempt from FDA safeguards."
organic food in past The FDA, which oversees the
two years safety of most of the U.S. food
years supply, often must focus on
companies that have the great-
WASHINGTON (AP) - est reach. A sweeping new egg
Shoppers nervous about food- rule enacted last year would
borne illnesses may turn to require most egg producers to
foods produced at smaller farms do more testing for pathogens.
or labeled "local," "organic" Though the rule will eventu-
or "natural" in the hopes that ally cover more than 99 percent
such products are safer. But a of the country's egg supply,
small outbreak of salmonella in small farms like Larry Schultz
organic eggs from Minnesota Organic Farm of Owatonna,
shows that no food is immune Minn., would not qualify. That
to contamination, farm issued a recall last week
While sales for food pro- after six cases of salmonella
duced on smaller operations poisoning were linked to the
have exploded, partially fueled farm's eggs.
by a consumer backlash to food A new food safety law Presi-
produced by larger companies, dent Barack Obama signed
a new set of food safety chal- earlier this year exempts some
lenges has emerged. And small small farms as a result of farm-
farm operations have been ers and local food advocates
exempted from food safety laws complaining that creating cost-
as conservatives, farmers and ly food safety plans could cause
food-lovers have worried about some small businesses to go
too much government interven- bankrupt. The exemption cov-
tion and regulators have strug- ers farms of a certain size that
gled with tight budgets. sell within a limited distance of
The government has tradi- their operation.
tionally focused on safety at Food safety advocates unsuc-
large food operations - includ- cessfully lobbied against the
ing farms, processing plants, provision, as did the organic
and retailers - because they industry. Christine Bushway of
reach the most people. Recent the Organic Trade Association,
outbreaks in cantaloupe, which represents large and
ground turkey, eggs and pea- small producers, says food safe-
nuts have started at large farms ty comes down to proper opera-
or plants and sickened thou- tion of a farm or food company,
sands of people across the coun- not its scale.
try. "How is the farm managed?
"While it's critical that How much effort is put into
food processors be regularly food safety?" she asks. "If you
inspected, there is no way the don't have really good manage-
Food and Drug Administration ment, it doesn't matter."
would ever have the resources Smaller farms do have some
to check every farm in the coun- obvious food safety advantages.
try, nor are we calling for that," Owners have more control over
says Erik Olson, a food safety what they are producing and
advocate at the Pew Health often do not ship as far, lessen-

ing the chances for contamina-
tion in transport. If the farm is
organic, an inspector will have
to visit the property to certify
it is organic and may report
to authorities if they see food
being produced in an unsafe
way. Customers may also be
familiar with an operation if it
is nearby.
But those checks aren't fail-
safe. The FDA has reported at
least 20 recalls due to patho-
gens in organic food in the last
two years, while the Agricul-
ture Department, which over-
sees meat safety, issued a recall
of more than 34,000 pounds of
organic beef last December due
to possible contamination with
E. coli.
Egg safety is equally ambigu-
ous. While many people like to
buy cage-free eggs, those chick-
ens may be exposed to bacteria
on the grounds where they are
roaming.
So what can a consumer do?
Experts say to follow the tra-
ditional rules, no matter what
the variety of food. Cook foods
like eggs and meat, and make
sure you are scrubbing fruit and
cleaning your kitchen well.
Do your part, and hope for
the best, the experts say.
"Labels like organic or local
don't translate into necessarily
safer products," says Caroline
Smith DeWaal of the Center for
Science in the Public Interest.
"They are capturing different
values but not ensuring safety."
Bushway of the Organic
Trade Association says one of
the best checks on food safety
is the devastating effect a recall
or foodborne illness outbreak
can have on a company's bot-
tom line.
"It's just good business to
make sure you are putting the
safest products on the market,"
she says.
A

DETROIT (AP) - Former
Democratic U.S. Rep. Howard
Wolpe, who helped pass the fed-
eral anti-apartheid act in 1986,
has died. He was 71.
The seven-term congress-
man had recently been ill with
a heart condition, former staffer
Ken Brock said Wednesday. He
died Tuesday at his home in Sau-
gatuck.
Wolpe, who also unsuccess-
fully sought the governor's office
in Michigan, served in Congress
from 1979-1992. As chair of the
U.S House Subcommittee on
Africa, he authored and man-
aged legislation imposing sanc-
tions against South Africa for its
system of white-minority rule.
"Howard was a very pleas-
ant guy, a gentleman in all
respects," said Battle Creek Dr.
Joe Schwarz, who teaches at the
University of Michigan's Gerald
R. Ford School of Public Policy.
"He was exceptionally bright
and exceptionally committed
to his mission," Schwarz said.
"He had a real deep and abiding
interest in African affairs where
he made his name in Congress."
Wolpe once served as Spe-
cial Envoy to Africa's Great
Lakes Region under President
Bill Clinton "where he initiated
peace talks and helped end civil
wars in Burundi and the Demo-
cratic Republic of the Congo,"
Democratic Rep. John Dingell
said in a statement.

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