The National Rifle Association is worried that Kansas might try to discourage gun ownership. So it is throwing its weight behind a bill that would prevent the state from spending money lobbying against “any legal consumer product”—a category that includes, among other things, tobacco and junk food.
Although State Bill 45, debated yesterday by a state Senate committee, focuses on lobbying efforts at the state and local level, a broad interpretation of the language could prevent Kansas from spending anything on programs that discourage the use of harmful products. The bill could “scuttle public health campaigns and other proven public health programs,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reported yesterday, citing testimony from a Democratic senator and a representative from the American Cancer Society.
Oh noes! It seems that the world’s foremost drug dealers are not happy that they are finding it difficult to unleash new nicotine delivery systems on the American public:
The Food and Drug Administration’s new Center for Tobacco Products, established under a 2009 law that gives the agency jurisdiction over tobacco, must review all new cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, as well as any changes to existing brands.
But the agency has yet to clear any products under the new system, and some cigarette makers are frustrated by the backlog of applications.
The FDA typically evaluates new drugs and other products with a “safe and effective” standard. But Lawrence Deyton, the Center for Tobacco Products’ director, says that standard “doesn’t work for tobacco products.”
But Jack Russo, a tobacco industry analyst with the investment firm Edward Jones, says the new regulatory framework is likely to slow the pace at which products get to the shelves.
“It’s going to be tough really to get any new product through,” says Russo, who also notes that the apparent FDA logjam is frustrating for an industry looking to expand as more people quit smoking.
Getting any new product on the market might help a company “outperform the competition a little bit, in what is a very tough industry to grow,” Russo says. “So every little bit helps … but the FDA certainly isn’t making it easy on anybody.”
Imagine that! The FDA is making it harder to introduce products that have a nasty habit of leading to an early grave.
Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, isn’t at all troubled by tobacco companies’ “not being able to get their products on the market as quickly as they would like.”
The industry’s history of innovation “shows us that it tends to make the products more addictive, more appealing and more harmful,” McGoldrick says. “And we don’t need any more of that.”
Well, tobacco companies DO need more ways to attract new customers…their old ones die each and every day.
Read or listen to the whole story from NPR:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been without a permanent director for six years, as President Obama recently noted. But even if someone were to be confirmed for the job, the agency’s ability to thwart gun violence is hamstrung by legislative restrictions and by loopholes in federal gun laws, many law enforcement officials and advocates of tighter gun regulations say.
For example, under current laws the bureau is prohibited from creating a federal registry of gun transactions. So while detectives on television tap a serial number into a computer and instantly identify the buyer of a firearm, the reality could not be more different.
When law enforcement officers recover a gun and serial number, workers at the bureau’s National Tracing Center here — a windowless warehouse-style building on a narrow road outside town — begin making their way through a series of phone calls, asking first the manufacturer, then the wholesaler and finally the dealer to search their files to identify the buyer of the firearm.
About a third of the time, the process involves digging through records sent in by companies that have closed, in many cases searching by hand through cardboard boxes filled with computer printouts, hand-scrawled index cards or even water-stained sheets of paper.
In an age when data is often available with a few keystrokes, the A.T.F. is forced to follow this manual routine because the idea of establishing a central database of gun transactions has been rejected by lawmakers in Congress, who have sided with the National Rifle Association, which argues that such a database poses a threat to the Second Amendment. In other countries, gun rights groups argue, governments have used gun registries to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to his 2010 effort, according to the indictment Wednesday of a Nevada lobbyist.
F. Harvey Whittemore of Reno faces four felony counts in connection with the alleged scheme to funnel funds to Reid.
Reid was not accused of any wrongdoing.
The indictment says that the “vast majority” of about $138,000 in donations Whittemore delivered to Reid’s campaign in March 2007 were actually funded by the lobbyist, who allegedly reimbursed employees of his firm and their spouses for donations.
Whittemore, who has represented gambling, tobacco and land development interests, sometimes described as bonuses the reimbursements of $5,000 for $4,600 in gifts and $10,000 for $9,200 in donations.
Human serum albumin from transgenic rice could ease shortages of donated blood.
One can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, but new research suggests that a bit of transgenic tweaking may make it possible to squeeze blood—or at least blood protein—from a grain of rice. In a study published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe rice seeds that can produce substantial quantities of a blood protein called human serum albumin, or HSA.
HSA is in high demand around the world, both for its role in drug and vaccine production and for use in treating patients with severe burns and other serious conditions such as haemorrhagic shock and liver cirrhosis. The primary source of therapeutic HSA is donated human blood. To overcome limitations caused by blood shortages and contamination of donated blood by viruses, researchers worldwide have been working to create functional HSA either synthetically, with the help of yeast and bacteria, or in transgenic organisms such as cows and tobacco.
In China, which has suffered from HSA shortages and contaminated blood supplies, the idea of using an abundant crop like rice to supplement or even supplant the current albumin supply is an attractive one. “We could ease demand for HSA and reduce the potential risk of spreading viruses in blood plasma. That’s what prompted me to do something like this,” says Daichang Yang, a plant biotechnologist at Wuhan University, China, who led the research.
A new book, “Merchants of Doubt,” by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway shines the light on the strategy behind these efforts. It documents how a small group of well-connected scientists, driven mostly by the fear that acknowledging the reality of human-induced global warming will lead to government regulation that stifles the free market and private enterprise, have collaborated with conservative groups and fossil fuel companies to manufacture doubt about the science of climate change.
Their strategy replicates the one used by the tobacco industry to cast doubt on the link between smoking and cancer — in fact, some of the same people have been involved with both campaigns. The strategy is to relentlessly challenge even well-established climate science, portray dissenters as victims of a liberal environmentalist agenda, and try to discredit the leading researchers in the field.
The operation is not the only reason, but it has played a role in stalling congressional action on climate legislation. And, although one independent review after another has exonerated the climate scientists and reaffirmed the basic science of human-induced global warming, many top researchers have received death threats and in other ways continue to be harassed.