Lack of Key Considerations in FDA Food Chemical Safety Process Leaves Consumers at Risk of Chronic Diseases

Today, a group of health, environmental, and consumer organizations challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) practice of not accounting for the cumulative health effect of chemicals in the diet when allowing new chemicals in food. Over 60 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring that FDA and industry do just that. Unfortunately, an Environmental Defense Fund investigation of nearly 900 safety determinations found that only one considered the requirement in a meaningful way.

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Ocean Algae Get “Coup de Grace” from Viruses

Scientists have long believed that ocean viruses always quickly kill algae, but Rutgers-led research shows they live in harmony with algae and viruses provide a “coup de grace” only when blooms of algae are already stressed and dying. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, will likely change how scientists view viral infections of algae, also known as phytoplankton – especially the impact of viruses on ecosystem processes like algal bloom formation (and decline) and the cycling of carbon and other chemicals on Earth.

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New Device Can Measure Toxic Lead Within Minutes

Rutgers researchers have created a miniature device for measuring trace levels of toxic lead in sediments at the bottom of harbors, rivers and other waterways within minutes – far faster than currently available laboratory-based tests, which take days. The affordable lab-on-a-chip device could also allow municipalities, water companies, universities, K-12 schools, daycares and homeowners to easily and swiftly test their water supplies. The research is published in the IEEE Sensors Journal.

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Bacteria Can Defuse Dangerous Chemical In Passaic River

Bacteria that can help defuse highly toxic dioxin in sediments in the Passaic River – a Superfund hazardous waste site – could eventually aid cleanup efforts at other dioxin-contaminated sites around the world, according to Rutgers scientists. Their research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, needs further work to realize the full potential of the beneficial bottom-dwelling microbes.

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Study Finds High Levels of Toxic Pollutants in Stranded Dolphins and Whales

Researchers examined toxins in tissue concentrations and pathology data from 83 stranded dolphins and whales from 2012 to 2018. They looked at 11 different animal species to test for 17 different substances. The study is the first to report on concentrations in blubber tissues of stranded cetaceans of atrazine, DEP, NPE and triclosan. It also is the first to report concentrations of toxicants in a white-beaked dolphin and in Gervais’ beaked whales.

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Berkeley Lab Part of Multi-Institutional Team Awarded $60M for Solar Fuels Research

The Department of Energy has awarded $60 million to a new solar fuels initiative – called the Liquid Sunlight Alliance (LiSA) – led by Caltech in close partnership with Berkeley Lab. LiSA will build on the foundational work of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP).

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Seafood Products Made From Cells Should be Labeled Cell-Based

Companies seeking to commercialize seafood products made from the cells of fish or shellfish should use the term “cell-based” on product labels, according to a Rutgers study – the first of its kind – in the Journal of Food Science. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture require food products to have a “common or usual name” on their labels so consumers can make informed choices about what they’re purchasing.

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Scientists Have Discovered the Origins of the Building Blocks of Life

Rutgers researchers have discovered the origins of the protein structures responsible for metabolism: simple molecules that powered early life on Earth and serve as chemical signals that NASA could use to search for life on other planets. Their study, which predicts what the earliest proteins looked like 3.5 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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