TIME Cancer

DDT, Lindane Can Cause Cancer, WHO Says

toxic pestisides lindane ddt
Arben Celi—Reuters An Albanian specialist removes toxic pesticides near the ruins of a former chemical plant in Porto Romano, a village 3 miles from the port city of Durres, May 5, 2006.

DDT was mostly banned in the U.S. in 1970, while lindane is still present in some products

Exposure to insecticides lindane and DDT can cause cancer, according to findings released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.

WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has now classified lindane, which has been used “extensively” for insect control, as carcinogenic to humans. DDT is now classified as probably carcinogenic to humans, based on evidence that DDT causes cancer in experimental animals and limited evidence that it does in humans.

The chemicals have been linked specifically to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, testicular cancer and liver cancer. Exposure to lindane can increase one’s risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 60%, according to studies conducted in Canada and the U.S.

The chemical 2,4-D, a common weedkiller, was classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans based on “inadequate evidence” in humans and “limited evidence” in experimental animals. Exposure can occur through food, water, dust or residential application, the IARC said.

Agricultural workers have had the most direct exposure to such chemicals. DDT was introduced to control insect populations on farms during World War II and widely proliferated, but most applications of DDT were banned in the U.S. in 1970. According to the study, however, exposure to DDT through food still exists in some parts of the world.

Lindane-based shampoo is also used to kill lice, while lindane lotion is applied directly to the skin to treat scabies. Both these products have been available since the early 1950s and are still approved by the FDA. Dr. Kurt Straif, head of the IARC, told the BBC that there are no studies currently available that assess the risk of these types of exposure.

DDT can still be legally manufactured in the U.S., but only sold to foreign countries.

The full study can be found here.

TIME Television

John Oliver Has Beef With the Treatment of Chicken Farmers

Many poultry farmers live below the poverty line

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver spoke about America’s favorite food — chicken. He didn’t focus his diatribe on the treatment of chickens (although video clips of Paul McCartney and Pamela Anderson assured viewers poultry is treated abysmally), but rather on the treatment of America’s chicken farmers.

According to Oliver, to sate the American appetite for chicken, the big four poultry companies use a system of contract farmers to raise their product — which currently requires 169 million chicks a week, which is as Oliver put it, “Warren Beatty numbers.”

Despite those impressive stats, according to Oliver, a surprisingly large percentage of those contract chicken farmers live at or below the poverty line. But when asked to comment about their impoverished contract farmers, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council asked, “Which poverty line are you referring to?”

As Oliver pointed out that, it doesn’t matter, because “the poverty line is like the age of consent, if you find yourself parsing exactly where it is, it you’ve probably already done something very, very wrong.”

Oliver then asked members of Congress to enact meaningful legislation to protect chicken farmers — and a call to arms to change their Wikipedia pages if they didn’t.

TIME States

Nebraska Has Ordered a State of Emergency Over Bird Flu

In this May 11, 2015 photo provided by John Gaps III, men in hazardous materials suits load dead poultry to be buried at Rose Acre Farms, Inc., just west of Winterset, Iowa.
John Gaps III—AP In this May 11, 2015 photo provided by John Gaps III, men in hazardous materials suits load dead poultry to be buried at Rose Acre Farms, Inc., just west of Winterset, Iowa.

Over 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the pathogen

Governor Pete Ricketts ordered a state of emergency Thursday after Nebraska’s Department of Agriculture confirmed the highly contagious H5N2 avian flu virus had infected a second farm.

The declaration opens up emergency funding in the hopes it can help contain the pathogen that now threatens what is, according to local officials, a $1.1 billion poultry industry in Nebraska.

“While not a human health threat, the discovery of avian influenza is a serious situation for our poultry sector, and I want to provide responders with access to all appropriate tools to address it,” said Ricketts in a statement.

The proclamation follows similar actions taken in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. More than 33 million birds in 16 states have now been affected by the outbreak, which originated in a small backyard flock in Oregon.

The outbreak has hit Americans’ pocketbooks as, the Associated Press reports, the price of large eggs in the Midwest rose by 17% since mid-April and other price increases are being seen in turkey, boneless breast meat and mixing eggs.

TIME Television

The Mad Men Title Sequence Is Eerily Similar to This LIFE Magazine Cover

LIFE Magazine April 21 1967 Cover
LIFE Magazine

The falling men on a 1967 LIFE cover seem to presage the falling man in the AMC show's opening credits

Analyzing the title sequence to Mad Men has become something of a sport for the show’s fans. Does the suited man hurtling toward earth foreshadow protagonist/anti-hero Don Draper’s literal death or his figurative demise? Does it echo the chilling photograph of a man who jumped from a burning World Trade Center tower? (Showrunner Matthew Weiner has said emphatically that it does not.) Whatever it represents, where did Imaginary Forces, the agency that produced the sequence, get the idea?

Here’s another idea: it’s now been pointed out that the design has many similarities to a 1967 LIFE Magazine cover, the first in a four-part series on “The Struggle To Be an Individual.” The cover, like Mad Men’s credits, features silhouetted men against the backdrop of a 1960s-era skyscraper. Both suggest a sense of helplessness, of ceding control to powerful forces beyond one’s self.

The Imaginary Forces team that produced the credits has spoken about some of the inspiration behind the design. Weiner initially approached them with the skeleton of an idea — a man walks into an office building, takes the elevator to the top and jumps — and they began developing storyboards. Those boards included a Volkswagen ad, movie stills and, as designer Steve Fuller told Print, “the design stew that’s been swirling around in our head over the last 15 years since we left college.”

Although a representative from AMC confirmed in an email to TIME that similarities between the LIFE cover and the title sequence are purely coincidental, the photo essay the cover advertises in many ways articulates the existential crises Draper faces in Mad Men. As an ad man, Draper sells access to an American dream he himself hasn’t entirely bought into. Even as he accumulates successes in the boardroom and the bedroom, the satisfaction never lasts longer than a few drags of a cigarette that might kill him anyway.

The ethos of the 1960s is, of course, omnipresent in Mad Men — and not just in its fastidious commitment to the furniture and fashions of the time. In post-WWII America, many Americans had settled into the comfort of corporate jobs that afforded them the same white picket fence and station wagon their neighbors boasted. Responding to that phenomenon, books like William H. Whyte’s The Organization Man, published in the mid-1950s, lamented how modern workers’ collectivist group-think ran in opposition to creativity and innovation. The sociological treatise The Lonely Crowd, which sits on the radiator in Don’s office, similarly observed that people’s yearning to understand their position as it compared to everyone else’s limited their potential for self-actualization.

The photos in “The Struggle To Be an Individual” suggest anonymity amidst this 1960s uniformity: an aerial view of an endless expressway, looping seemingly to nowhere; a housing development in which every unit looks identical; a geometry of office workers sitting row by row at the same typewriters, with the same hairstyles and the same stacks of paper.

“You can sign up for just about anything you want and it will be delivered with speed and polish,” one caption reads. “Everything you can get your hands on is worth having. The trick is in deciding what you want.” Draper, of course, can’t decide what he wants: the suburban life or the mistress in the city, the towering Manhattan skyline or the hazy skies and swimming pools of Los Angeles.

One caption, perhaps more than any other, seems to describe the journey Draper has undertaken as the series winds to a close. It accompanies the photograph of those looping Long Island expressways and dictates, almost like a meditation tape, how the driver might place himself in space and time:

Imagine yourself an astral body, streaking along, stable in the galaxy … before you know it, the unseen land will disappear behind you. Your turn will come to peel off, and home you’ll go, untouched by any weather.

TIME public health

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria From Texan Cattle Yards Are Now Airborne, Study Finds

A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas
Tom Pennington—Getty Images A herd of longhorn cattle stand as wildfire rages near on September 1, 2011 in Graford, Texas

Researchers say the bacteria are capable of "traveling for long distances"

A new study says the DNA from antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in American cattle yards has become airborne, creating a new pathway by which such bacteria can potentially spread to humans and hinder treatment of life-threatening infections.

Researchers gathered airborne particulate matter (PM) from around 10 commercial cattle yards within a 200 mile radius of Lubbock, Texas over a period of six-months. They found the air downwind of the yards contained antibiotics, bacteria and a “significantly greater” number of microbial communities containing antibiotic-resistant genes. That’s according to the study to be published in next month’s issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.

“To our knowledge, this study is among the first to detect and quantify antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes…associated with airborne PM emitted from beef cattle feed yards,” said the authors, who are researchers in environmental toxicology at Texas Tech University and at a testing lab in Lubbock.

Co-author Phil Smith told the Texas Tribune that the bacteria could be active for a long time and “could be traveling for long distances.”

His colleague, molecular biologist Greg Mayer, told the paper that some of the study’s findings “made me not want to breathe.”

Because antibodies are poorly absorbed by cows they are released into the environment through excretion. Once in the environment, bacteria will undergo natural selection and genes that have acquired natural immunities will survive.

The genes that have gone airborne are contained in dried fecal matter that has become dust and gets picked up by winds as they whip through the stockyards.

The Texas Tribune reported that representatives from the Texas cattle industry (estimated to control around 14 million beef cows) criticized the study, saying it portrayed the airborne bacteria as overly hazardous to human health.

But the mass of PM2.5 particles (the kind that can be inhaled into lungs) released into the atmosphere is eye opening, with the study estimating the total amount released by cattle yards in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas exceeds 46,000 lbs.(21,000 kg) per day.

Antibiotic-resistant bacterial DNA is already known to be transferable to humans if ingested via water or meat.


TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. How do we convince Americans that justice isn’t for sale — when in 39 states, it is?

By Sue Bell Cobb in Politico

2. It took pressure from customers and investors to make corporations environmentally sustainable. It’s time to do the same for gender equity.

By Marissa Wesely in Stanford Social Innovation Review

3. London’s congestion pricing plan is saving lives.

By Alex Davies in Wired

4. Libraries should be the next great start-up incubators.

By Emily Badger in CityLab

5. Annual replanting has a devastating impact. Could perennial rice be the solution?

By Winifred Bird in Yale Environment 360

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY groceries

National High-Price Bacon Nightmare Is Over

150127_EM_Bacon
Ray Lego—Getty Images

Bacon lovers, rejoice. The heartbreaking, seemingly endless rise of pork prices appears to have subsided.

After hitting record highs over the summer, bacon prices have come down to earth—and even cheaper prices are on the way.

The retail price of bacon hit an all-time high during the summer of 2014, but has since retreated, dropping 5.7% by early December, according to Bloomberg News. What’s more, all signs indicated at the time that prices for pork, ham, and bacon would keep on decreasing. “Hogs and pork are almost surely going to be cheaper, particularly compared to beef, next year,” Doane Advisory Services economist Dan Vaught said.

Sure enough, pork prices are plunging in early 2015. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that farmers have rebounded from a virus that decimated pig herds in 2013 and early 2014, and that the nation is riding high on the hog in terms of a record number of pigs approaching slaughter weight. Forecasts call for an all-time high of 23.9 billion pounds of pork to be produced in the U.S. in 2015.

“It’s amazing. We’ve gone from ‘We’re going to run out of pork!’ to ‘What are we going to do with all of this meat?’” John Nalivka, president of the Oregon-based agriculture-advisory firm Sterling Marketing Inc., told the Journal.

Well, one thing they’re clearly going to do is cut prices. Hogs are currently trading at four-year lows on the futures market. Supermarkets are paying less for pork wholesale, and they have begun passing along the savings in the form of cheaper ham, pork loins, and yes, bacon. Last summer, the average retail price for a pound of bacon was over $6 per pound. By December 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a pound of bacon was averaging $5.53 in U.S. grocery stores, and $5.10 in the Midwest.

The funny thing about bacon is that people love it so much that demand stays incredibly high even when prices rise, and the masses are prone to panic with the slightest hint of bacon being in short supply. And when bacon prices become cheaper, that’s a justification for some bacon lovers to take their bacon consumption to the next level. Businesses that profit on bacon-aholics will surely be more than happy to help. Look for more bacon to be incorporated into restaurant menus and on sale at supermarkets in the months ahead.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 16

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Micropayments and digital currencies will ignite an explosion of disruptive innovation.

By Walter Isaacson in LinkedIn

2. Latin America is taking the lead with progressive food policies — and putting public health above the interests of the food industry.

By Andy Bellatti in Civil Eats

3. To preserve biodiversity and lift up communities facing hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, indigenous plants might provide a solution.

By Amy Maxmen in Newsweek

4. Teacher preparation programs seek change with a pinpoint innovation approach. It’s time for a broad scale transformation of teaching.

By Kaylan Connally in EdCentral

5. Making clean plastics from biofuel waste could free up valuable farmland for food crops.

By Matt Safford in Smithsonian

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 8

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A new crowdfunded software tool for reporting sexual assault can reduce stigma and protect survivors.

By Shafaq Hasan in Nonprofit Quarterly

2. Millions of discarded laptop batteries could light homes in the developing world.

By David Talbot in the MIT Technology Review

3. A long overdue transparency plan for clinical trials will finally open results to the medical community and the public.

By Julia Belluz in Vox

4. Without role models or a road map through the upper ranks, women are leaving the tech industry at the mid-career point in droves.

By Sue Gardner in the Los Angeles Times

5. A new plan to drop strips of prairie into cropland helps preserve soil and battle climate change.

By Dylan Roth in Iowa State Daily

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: November 25

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. “White people who are sick and tired of racism should work hard to become white allies.” Here’s how.

By Janee Woods in Quartz

2. We can’t afford to ignore the innovative history of developing countries as we face the impact of climate change.

By Calestous Juma at CNN

3. Aeroponics – growing plants in mist without any soil – may be the future of food.

By Bloomberg Businessweek

4. The Obama White House is still struggling to separate policy from politics, and Defense Secretary Hagel is the latest victim.

By David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy

5. Fewer, better standardized tests can boost student achievement.

By Marc Tucker, Linda Darling-Hammond and John Jackson in Education Week

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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