Science and Environment

America and Antacids

America in the Weeds

Most weed killers, whether for wheat fields or suburban lawns, work by disrupting the endocrine systems of plants. The picture that emerges in the snapshot reports linked below is that common weed killers also disrupt the endocrine systems of amphibians and may disrupt those of humans, too.

The Clopyralid series, also linked below, broke the story of wide-scale contamination of farming and garden compost by a Dow herbicide and led to the weed killer’s banning in many contexts, first in California, then nationwide.

  • The War on Dandelions
  • Atrazine, Wheat and Us

Antibiotics: Farm Tool or Medicine?

Apples: Organic vs. Conventional

High Country News covertBuilt into a Corner: The Choking by Sediment of the Los Angeles Flood Control System







Chemists argue about Safety of Teflon while We All Use It

Concerning Cows, Sheep and Cannibals

cow-bell-21News reporters working in Britain in the 1980s and 1990s had to learn about livestock, particularly cattle and sheep. In 1986, a neuro-degenerative disease, long studied in sheep but theretofore unknown in cattle, appeared in dairy herds in the south of England. Soon cases of the cattle disease, formally named Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE, and informally called “mad cow disease,” were diagnosed  all over the British Isles and Ireland. A decade later, in 1996, BSE jumped species again, this time emerging in young Britons. Fifty million Britons had conceivably been exposed to it. The world’s press descended on the UK in what was the worst public health crisis on record. That year, against international competition, one of the reports posted here (see below, “A Cow & Bull Story”), won the Assn. of British Science Writer’s Award for best feature. It was followed by a systematically deployed barrage of articles in the New Statesman magazine between 1996 and 1998 that led to the then newly elected Labour government calling a public inquiry into the government’s handling of the disease.

Below are a selection of pieces from that period, along with some follow up work done for the London Evening Standard, New York Times and Los Angeles Times. The report for the Los Angeles  Times on the “mad sheep” of Vermont led to then Governor Howard Dean allowing the destruction of an infected flock owned by AIG millionaire Houghton Freeman.

  • Mad Cows in Britain cow-bell-1
  • Mad Cows in the U.S.
  • Mad Sheep in the U.S.
  • M(b)ad Scientists in Britain and the U.S.
  • A Cow & Bull Story: A profile of Harash Narang (winner of the 1997 Assn of British Science Writers Award for ‘Best Feature’)
  • Same Mistakes All Over Again. Mad Cow to Foot and Mouth

Dairies and Dairying

Death of Europe As We Knew It


E. coli O157

The Flora of North America Project

The Human Trial of Human Growth Hormone

The Mojave Desert Desecrated: Moving Tortoises for Military Bases, Casinos and Suburbs

Mayor Villaraigosa and Trees

Migration of the Monarchs

New Fruit

Palms in Twighlightdsc00500

Pipeline: Chinatown, Nevada-style

Salmonella and Eggs


Urban Farming

We are Getting Fat, Report Finds

Zero tolerance

  • After the lawn

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    Emily Green by e-mail at [at]
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