For decades, other countries have used radiation to zap and kill bacteria in dozens of food products, a method that is believed to help curb food-borne illnesses without causing harm to consumers, The Washington Post reports.
The technology uses three forms of nuclear energy—gamma rays, electron beams, and X-rays—to eliminate bacteria in a process that can take minutes.
Although a slew of global health organizations and America’s own Food and Drug Administration have approved the use, it’s still seen as some sort of boogeyman that could result in teenage mutant ninja avocados. Instead, farmers use antibiotics and chemicals to steer clear of food-borne illnesses, but those efforts have negative side effects and incidence rates of such sicknesses are up.
Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, says an “anti-science movement” is to blame for America’s failure to adopt the practice widely.
“Not using irradiation is the single greatest public health failure of the last part of the 20th century in America,” Osterholm told the Post.
In other news...
- Epic Fail: Oregon spent $250 million on a website for Obamacare sign-ups but couldn’t get it to work, so it’s ditching it entirely. Instead, it’ll have state residents use the federal site, a service the state just bought into for $5 million. (via National Public Radio)
- Chemo Kills Employment: About 30 percent of women who underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer were unemployed four years later, in a study from the University of Michigan. (via Science Daily)
- Bear Hugs Galore: Wildlife preservation workers have finally figured out the mystery of a baby bear named Tahoe showing up in a kennel in their driveway. The snuggly-looking 10-week-old was left by a man who found Tahoe clinging to her dead mom. (via NBC News)
- Another Mass Sentencing: Egypt is breaking its own horrifying precedent by sentencing 680 people to death after a swift mass trial on charges of violence during protests. A month ago, the same judge sentenced 529 others to death. (via The New York Times)
- Take Guns Out of the Ballgame: An oddly behaved Georgia man terrified parents and kids at a children’s baseball game by walking around with a gun in his holster and taunting parents, saying, “See my gun? Look, I got a gun and there’s nothing you can do about it.” The game was canceled for fear of gun violence. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a controversial pro-gun bill into law last week, earning kudos from the National Rifle Association. (via The Washington Post)
- Glaring at the Sun: The Koch brothers and their conservative allies are spending heavily to fight incentives for solar energy panels and renewable energy. They’re calling for a tax on home solar-power installations to make the option less attractive. (via The New York Times)
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