envirohealth: pesticides, gardasil & ‘6-legged soldiers’

fanta has 300x more pesticide than tap water
fanta has 300x more pesticide than tap waterfrom daily mail: Fizzy drinks sold by Coca-Cola in Britain have been found to contain pesticides at up to 300 times the level allowed in tap or bottled water. A worldwide study found pesticide levels in orange and lemon drinks sold under the Fanta brand, which is popular with children, were at their highest in the UK. The research team called on the Government, the industry and the company to act to remove the chemicals and called for new safety standards to regulate the soft drinks market. The industry denies children are at risk and insists that the levels found by researchers based at the University of Jaen in southern Spain are not harmful.

merck seeks fda approval for gardasil in boys
merck seeks fda approval for gardasil in boysfrom wsj: Merck is asking federal regulators to expand the use of its human papillomavirus vaccine to boys and young men. The company has asked the FDA to approve the Gardasil vaccine’s use in males ages 9 to 26 years to prevent genital warts and other lesions, CNBC’s Mike Huckman reported. In 2006, the FDA approved giving the vaccine to girls and women of those ages. We talked with a Merck spokeswoman who pointed to studies showing Gardasil’s effectiveness in young males. But the request will likely renew questions about Gardasil’s cost-effectiveness, especially with a price tag of $360 for a three-dose regimen. In August, Harvard researchers suggested the vaccine wasn’t worth the cost in older women likely to have been exposed to HPV by the time they were to get vaccinated. Merck has also asked the FDA to expand Gardasil’s use to women ages 27 to 45 years. The vaccine is a key product for Merck, which estimates sales this year of as much as $1.6 billion. But sales have slowed, down 4% in the third quarter compared to a year earlier.

flashback: the latest absurd marketing scheme from merck

terrorists could enlist ‘6-legged soldiers’ in bio-attack
terrorists could enlist '6-legged soldiers' in bio-attackfrom danger room: Terrorists could easily contrive an “insect-based” weapon to import an exotic disease, according to an entomologist who’s promoting a book on the subject. Jeffrey Lockwood, an entomologist at the University of Wyoming, is on the talk show circuit to promote his new book, Six-legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that planning a bio-terror attack using insects would “probably be much easier” than developing nuclear or chemical weapons. ‘Today’ does not post the transcript, but the Daily Telegraph quotes him as saying: “It would be a relatively easy and simple process … A few hundred dollars and a plane ticket and you could have a pretty good stab at it.”

Nothing like a little bio-warfare scare to drum up sales for your book. Military historian Max Hastings, for one, gave Lockwood’s book a less-than-stellar review this weekend in the London Sunday Times. But he also noted:

terrorists could enlist '6-legged soldiers' in bio-attack“The last section of Lockwood’s book is the most plausible and interesting, because it addresses the risks of biological terrorism in our own times. In particular, the author speculates about the consequences if terrorists were to broadcast Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the yellow fever virus. The consequences of a yellow fever epidemic in America, where scarcely anyone is inoculated against the disease, could be devastating.”

As Noah has noted here, biodefense labs have soaked up massive amounts of funding in recent years to deal with precisely this kind of theoretical threat. But the real question, thus far, seems to been whether the boom in biodefense research has actually made us safer.

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