Friday, February 26, 2021

This week, EWG released an analysis showing that during the Trump administration, an overwhelming majority of federal farm subsidies, courtesy of taxpayers, went to the largest and wealthiest farms, while smaller, struggling family farms were shortchanged.

“The staggering amount of taxpayer dollars flowing to farmers last year did nothing for small farmers, who don’t have much of a safety net,” said Anne Schechinger, EWG senior economic analyst. “Over time, federal agricultural subsidies have been a major contributor to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few in rural America. President Trump doubled down on these policies, somehow finding more money to throw at wealthy farmers and landowners.

EWG explored environmental racism in America, looking at places like Flint, Mich., Anniston, Ala. and communities in North Carolina surrounded by industrial factory farms. It is clear that due to policies, structures and practices enabled by both politicians and industrial priorities, a number of environmental hazards disproportionately burden communities of color.

On Thursday, EWG applauded the Senate confirmation of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as the next energy secretary.

“Granholm comes into the job uniquely positioned to rapidly and permanently put the U.S. on track to realize a future where homes, businesses and vehicles will all be powered with clean, renewable energy,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Advancements in wind, solar and battery storage have provided a roadmap for how Granholm and the Biden administration can harness government resources and innovation to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy.”

And finally, EWG joined a group of more than 30 environmental and public health organizations calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to take a series of steps to protect public health and the environment from the toxic fluorinated “forever chemicals” known as PFAS from being incinerated or dumped in landfills.

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

Children’s Health

The Conversation: What are phthalates, and how do they put children’s health at risk?

Many companies have voluntarily removed phthalates, and many consumer products are now labeled “phthalate free.” The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website also offers a way to search for details about chemicals in cleaning and personal care products.  

Farm Subsidies Soared Under Trump

Bloomberg: In Trump farm bailout, top 1% reaped nearly one-fourth of aid

Their portion crept up to 24% in the first half of 2020, the most recent period covered in the data, as farm aid hit a record level with coronavirus relief payments, according to the Environmental Working Group analysis. Reprinted by many media outlets including Yahoo! NewsYahoo! FinanceHerald Mail MediaThe Detroit NewsThe Sacramento Bee,  Bangor Daily NewsDemocratic UndergroundGazetteXtraHerald Mail Media, and Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  

DTN/Progressive Farmer: Washington Insider– Thursday

This week, it seems that battle is rejoined. A new report by an ag advocacy organization says that the Trump administration aimed its “bailouts” increasingly to the nation’s biggest farms. The report was written by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy group that highlights issues of equity, which it is watching closely as the Biden administration designs potential new climate-related and other financial incentives for farmers.

Forbes: Outlook (Finally) Looking Brighter For Farmers

“These farm subsidies need to be curtailed,” Anne Schechinger, senior economic analyst at the Environmental Working Group, told Politico. “So many Americans are still struggling with the pandemic-induced economic crisis, but farmers are really doing well.”

Iowa Capital Dispatch: Environment group: Trump’s final year in office saw spike in farm subsidies

President Trump’s administration spent $20 billion on farm subsidies in its last year, four times the level at the beginning of his term, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group reported Wednesday.

Beef Magazine: 7 ag stories you might have missed this week – Feb. 26, 2021

3. Just 1% of farm aid recipients collected 23% of subsidy payments in 2019, up from 17% in 2016. Their portion crept up to 24% in the first half of 2020, the most recent period covered in the data, as farm aid hit a record level with coronavirus relief payments, according to the Environmental Working Group analysis. – Farm Futures

Bleeding HeartlandUnder Trump, farm subsidies soared and the rich got richer

The Environmental Working Group’s analysis of records from the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that subsidy payments to farmers ballooned from just over $4 billion in 2017 to more than $20 billion in 2020 – driven largely by ad hoc programs meant to offset the effects of President Trump’s failed trade war.

Lost Prairie Press: Environment group: Trump’s final year in office saw spike in farm subsidies

President Trump’s administration spent $20 billion on farm subsidies in its last year, four times the level at the beginning of his term, the nonprofit Environmental Working Group reported Wednesday. Much of that aid went to the largest farms, the group said.

The Storm Lake Times: Big subsidies to subside

A database Environmental Working Group released on Wednesday showed $61 million in federal farm support has flowed to Buena Vista County since former President Donald Trump started a trade war with China in 2018. 

WNAX: EWG And Farm Group Differ Over Report On Farm Payments

This week, the Environmental Working Group released an analysis of federal farm payments from 2017 through 2020. EWG’s Senior Economic Analyst Anne Schechinger says those payments increased $16 billion over that time.

Groups Call on EPA to Rethink PFAS Waste Disposal

E&E News: Groups press EPA to improve ‘forever chemicals’ disposal (subscription)
Environmental Working Group legislative attorney Melanie Benesh similarly commented in a statement that the current guidance “doesn’t go far enough” in protecting vulnerable communities. Anna Reade, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, also argued for accountability from PFAS manufacturers.

Biden’s Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Detroit Free Press: Jennifer Granholm confirmed as energy secretary in bipartisan Senate vote

Environmental groups praised the confirmation. “We look forward to working with her as she implements the president’s ambitious agenda to combat the climate crisis and speed up the transition to clean energy,” said Ken Cook, president of the activist organization Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Lansing State Journal

Cleaning Products

Environmental Health News: Use of Disinfectants Has Soared, Sparking New Examination of Ingredients

“Given the huge concern for reproductive toxicity and birth defects in humans, it really makes sense to take a precautionary approach,” Samara Geller, a research analyst for Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy organization that pushes for regulation of chemicals in consumer products, told EHN. Reprinted by EcoWatchNation of Change

WLWT 5 (Cincinnati): 20 natural cleaning products that are safer for you and the environment

There’s no universal standard that denotes a natural cleaning product, so we looked to product verification from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to help guide the research for this piece. The EWG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that researches the ingredients of personal care, baby care, and cleaning products. Reprinted by WBAL TV 11 (Baltimore),ABC5 (Oklahoma City, Okla.)ABC 25 (West Palm Beach),ABC 5 (Oklahoma City)ABC 12 (Albuquerque, N.M.)ABC22 (Sacramento, Calif.),  NBC 3 (Sacramento)NBC 5 (Burlington, VT).

Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database

ABC 10 (Sacramento): Green Beauty: Non-toxic shampoo and conditioner | Meg Unprocessed

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a database that ranks shampoos and conditioners based on their ingredients.

BabyGaga: Hair Straightening Creams Putting Black Women At Higher Infertility Risk

According to the nonprofit, Environmental Working Group, an organization focused on health and environmental safety, the average woman uses 12 health and beauty products each day which could contain over 164 chemicals. 

Insider Beauty: Now there’s more to love at The Detox Market

Not long after seeing the Toxic Beauty documentary, my beauty and personal-care shopping habits changed dramatically. I would spend copious amounts of time looking at ingredient lists and popping products I was considering into the EWG’s Skin Deep database before adding them to my cart. 

EWG VERIFIED™: Cosmetics

HelloGiggles: The Best Clean and Green Products from the 2021 Beauty Crush Awards

“I couldn’t find a clean version that stayed put for the life of me—until Naked Poppy’s Clean Liquid Eyeliner made it to market in 2020, that is. The vegan formula holds up all day and is verified by the Environmental Working Group. What more could an ingredient-conscious cat-eye enthusiast want?”

TreeHugger: The 8 Best Organic Shampoos of 2021

All of the company’s shampoos and conditioners are made with a biodegradable formula, have an Environmental Working Group (EWG) Verified mark, and also the NSF/ANSI 305 organic certification. The EWG mark lets shoppers know that the product is free of chemicals with health concerns.

The Zoe Report: How To Create A More Sustainable Beauty Routine

Another detail to look for is the Environmental Working Group’s verification on ingredient selection, transparency, and manufacturing. “To be EWG-certified means that your products do not contain potentially unsafe chemicals,” says holistic skin specialist Kristina Holey, who explains the certification is a great jumping-off point when deciding on formulas.

Endocrine Disruptors

The New York Times: What Are Sperm Telling Us?

Above all, don’t microwave foods in plastic or with plastic wrap on top. Avoid pesticides. Buy organic produce if possible. Avoid tobacco or marijuana. Use a cotton or linen shower curtain, not one made of vinyl. Don’t use air fresheners. Prevent dust buildup. Vet consumer products you use with an online guide like that of the Environmental Working Group.  

Environmental Health News: WATCH: Fertility crisis leaves little time for solutions

Pay attention to cosmetics and personal care products, using guides like those generated by the Environmental Working Group.

Justice for Black Farmers

Fern’s Ag Insider: Debt relief for minority farmers needs more thought, say critics

White farmers collected nearly 97 percent of the $9.2 billion in USDA pandemic payments from May through October 2020, said the Environmental Working Group, which tracks farm payments. Reprinted by Successful Farming

Food and Farmworkers

The Counter: The CDC recommended states prioritize farm workers for the Covid-19 vaccine. Some large agricultural states have not.

The problem with the CDC guidelines is that, similar to safety protections for workers, there is no federal standard for vaccine prioritization, said Jared Hayes, policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group. This is especially problematic for a workforce that frequently moves across state lines, he said.Investigate Midwest: The CDC recommended states prioritize farmworkers for the COVID-19 vaccine. A few large agricultural states have not.

The problem with the CDC guidelines is that, similar to safety protections for workers, there is no federal standard for vaccine prioritization, said Jared Hayes, policy analyst for the Environmental Working Group. This is especially problematic for a workforce that frequently moves across state lines, he said.  

Truthout: Pandemic May Have Left 265 Million People With Acute Food Shortages in 2020

As Scott Faber, senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported, farmers in the U.S. were already facing labor shortages prior to the pandemic, and with tightened immigration as well as the heightened risk and poor compensation associated with these jobs, “food processors and farm labor contractors may struggle to find other workers willing to risk their lives to work in meat plants, packing sheds or produce fields.”  

Nitrate Water Pollution

The Guardian: More than 25m drink from the worst US water systems, with Latinos most exposed 

“We’re just seeing so many new studies that show lower and lower levels of nitrate can be dangerous. They can increase the risk of cancer if you have low-level exposure over many years,” said Anne Schechinger, a senior economic analyst with the Environmental Working Group (EWG) who authored a recent report on nitrates. “It really makes you wonder if the EPA is keeping us safe with a lot of their maximum contaminant limits they’ve established.” Reprinted by Yahoo and Consumer Reports

PFAS

East Country Magazine: Law Firms Soliciting Firefighters to Join Firefighting Foam PFAS/PFOS Lawsuit

Researcher Graham Peaslee, Ph.D., a professor of physics at Notre Dame, stated,“And if you’re sweating and you have sweat pores, could some of these chemicals come off the thermal layer and get into the skin? The answer is probably,” according to the firengineering.com article written by The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-partisan organization.

Mashed: Read This Before Storing Your Food In A Plastic Container

The plastic that your fast food comes wrapped in may pose risks as well. Quick-serve chains need food packaging that is not only sturdy, but resistant to water, grease, and food stains. Unfortunately, that has led to a lot of packaging created with synthetic chemicals known as PFASs or PFCs (via Environmental Working Group).

PFAS in Drinking Water

AZ Family: What you need to know about PFAS chemicals in drinking water

PFAS contamination has been documented at military sites across the country, according to David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.

Baltimore Sun: Maryland must restrict this cancer-causing chemical | Reader Commentary

The state must also set maximum contaminant levels in drinking water, surface water and various foods to protect public health. For more on the dangers of PFAS and the need for legislation to protect public health, see the Environmental Working Group and Maryland PIRG.

Environmental Leader: PFAS Regulation: What You Can Expect in 2021

The current non-binding figure suggested by the EPA is 70 parts per trillion of both chemicals. This is amply disputed by a number of state panels and independent organizations – most notably the Environmental Working Group, which advises for a safe level as low as 1 ppt.

Potassium Bromate

Eat This, Not That: The Unhealthiest Guilty Pleasure Foods on the Planet

Banned in the United Kingdom and Canada, potassium bromate is still lurking in some U.S. foods such as pizza, wraps, rolls, bread crumbs, and bagel chips, according to a 2015 analysis by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG). Reprinted by MSN

EWG Guide to Sunscreens

Prevention: 14 Best Natural Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin, According to Dermatologists

We dug into the Environmental Working Group’s ratings for each of these sunscreens. The lower the rating (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the top score), the safer the sunscreen. These ratings are based on consumer health concerns, ingredients, and UVA/UVB balance for optimal sun protection. Reprinted by MSN

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Medical News Today: The Good Kitchen: Menu, how it works, and alternatives

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen: This is a list of produce with the highest and lowest levels of pesticide contamination, according to annual research by the Environmental Working Group.

NewsMax: Should You Buy Organic Foods?

To help consumers sort out the good, the bad, and the ugly facts about organic and conventional foods, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has come to the rescue over the years with data and information.

U.S. News and World Report: Organic Meal Delivery Services

Nevertheless, if you’re looking to boost your intake of organic items, start with foods where the organic label makes more of a difference. Berkman suggests reviewing the “Dirty Dozen” list compiled by the Environmental Working Group.