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Teen Starts Petition to Remove Flame Retardant From Gatorade

Teen Starts Petition to Remove Flame Retardant From Gatorade


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The petition on Change.org has more than 175,000 signatures

Thinkstock/ iStockphoto

A side of flame retardant in your Gatorade?

Another reason to toss out the Gatorade: one pesky ingredient called brominated vegetable oil, which isn't nearly as nutritious as it sounds. Brominated vegetable oil, aka BVO, is a patented flame retardant found in Gatorade and other beverages — but one teenager has created a petition to get BVO out of Gatorade.

Mississippi teenager Sarah Kavanagh began a petition on Change.org, asking Gatorade and its parent company, PepsiCo, to remove BVO from its products. After finding BVO as an ingredient in her Orange Gatorade, and reading an article in Scientific American, she began to realize the dangers of the ingredient — which include reproductive and behavioral problems. Scientific American shared that BVO can build up in a person's tissue, and overexposure to bromine could cause skin lesions, memory loss, and nerve disorders.

It prompted Kavanagh to produce the Change.org petition — which has received more than 175,000 signatures. "When I scroll through the comments on my petition, I see that athletes, construction workers, grandparents and parents, and so many other consumers are tired of not being able to trust companies that claim to be making healthy products," said Kavanagh in a press release. "Gatorade hasn’t responded to my petition yet, but I’m confident that Gatorade will realize that removing this chemical will be good both for consumers and for its bottom line." (PepsiCo has not yet responded to The Daily Meal for comment.)

BVO is forbidden from use in the U.K., but is allowed in U.S. products. Gatorade has noted on its website that the ingredient is widely used by beverage makers, and "is used in very low levels in the production of select flavors of Gatorade."


Gatorade Will Remove Flame Retardant Chemical From Its Beverages

Gatorade will stop putting brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a synthetic chemical that is used as a flame retardant, into its products after a barrage of complaints, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Although the company has reportedly been considering removing BVO from its beverages for some time now, it was spurred to act after receiving overwhelming pressure from consumers regarding the potentially harmful chemical, including a popular Change.org petition that was initiated by 15-year-old Sarah Kavanagh:

A recent petition on Change.org to drop the chemical &mdash which has more than 200,000 supporters &mdash did not inspire the decision, Carter said, though she acknowledged that consumer feedback was the main impetus.

In the petition, posted by Sarah Kavanagh of Hattiesburg, Miss., &ldquoBVO&rdquo is described as banned in Japan and the European Union.

The effort quotes a Scientific American article suggesting that &ldquoBVO could be building up in human tissues&rdquo and that studies on mice have shown &ldquoreproductive and behavioral problems&rdquo linked to large doses of the chemical.

BVO is used to &ldquodistribute Gatorade&rsquos coloring throughout the bottle&rdquo equally. The Times also reports that, while Gatorade will stop including BVO in newly produced drinks, there are no plans to recall products already on the market.


Petition to &ldquoGatorade&rdquo to remove &ldquoflame retardant&rdquo chemicals in their products:

The other day, I Googled “brominated vegetable oil.” It was the last time I drank Orange Gatorade. I found out that this “BVO” is a controversial flame retardant chemical that is in some Gatorade drinks! Who wants to drink that? Not me!

I’m naturally a curious and argumentative person doing things like debate team in school. I also love sports like volleyball, and I always believed Gatorade when they said stuff in their ads about how it’s good to drink when exercising. And, just like most people, I care about my health. So, as I was sitting at home the other day drinking an Orange Gatorade, I decided to look up some of the ingredients.

The last ingredient is “brominated vegetable oil,” which has been banned in Japan and the European Union. That means, #1 it’s not necessary to make Gatorade, and #2 there is enough information out there that entire countries have banned this chemical product.

According to Scientific American, BVO has been patented as a flame retardant and is found in some beverages including some flavors of Gatorade. It is “under intense scrutiny because research has shown that they are building up in people’s bodies, including breast milk, around the world.” The same article also mentions that there are “links to impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones.”

I’m not a scientist, but if there are lots of suspicious things about putting a flame retardant chemical in Gatorade (most flavors don’t even use it!) then why would Gatorade want to put it in a product designed for people like me who are into sports and health?


Coke to Remove Flame-Retardant Chemical From All Its Drinks

Coca-Cola is in the process of removing brominated vegetable oil from its entire line of beverages, including Powerade, Fanta Orange and Fresca, a representative for the company confirmed to Newsweek on Monday. The move comes one year after PepsiCo announced it would remove the controversial chemical, also patented as a flame retardant, from Gatorade.

The move follows an online Change.org petition from Mississippi teenager Sarah Kavanagh urging soda companies to remove the Brominated vegetable oil (BVO). Her Powerade petition gathered 59,000 online signatures, while her Gatorade petition had more than 200,000, according to the AP. Despite removing the chemical, Coca-Cola says it stands by the safety of its drinks, including those that contain BVO.

"All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been&mdashand comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold," Coca-Cola said in a statement.

BVO is not approved for use in food the European Union or Japan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use in food products on an interim basis, "pending additional study." Mountain Dew, also made by PepsiCo, still contains BVO, along with Squirt and Sunkist Peach Soda, from the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, according to The New York Times.

The Associated Press reports bottles of Powerade in fruit punch and strawberry lemonade flavors sold in Detroit Omaha, Nebraska New York, and Washington, D.C. no longer have BVO on their ingredients list, but some bottles elsewhere still list it, suggesting Coca-Cola may have already begun phasing it out.

BVO is used as an emulsifier in fruit-flavored sports drinks and sodas to evenly distribute flavoring oils throughout the liquid. Without BVO, "your favorite lemony-limy soda would look like the Gulf of Alaska in the wake of the Exxon-Valdez," as the San Diego Reader put it in 1999.

"In the coming months, the Coca-Cola Company will be transitioning from the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) to sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB) and/or glycerol ester of rosin (singly or in combination)," Coca-Cola said in a statement. "Glycerol ester of rosin is commonly found in chewing gum and beverages, and SAIB has been used in beverages for over 14 years."

Coca-Cola expects the transition to be complete by the end of the year, and says Powerade fruit punch and Powerade strawberry lemonade flavors have already eliminated BVO. However, the AP reported that some bottles of Powerade still list the chemical.

The safety of BVO has been a matter of debate in the scientific community for decades. BVO contains bromine, the same element found in brominated flame retardants used on upholstered furniture and some children's bedding and clothes. Research found brominated flame retardants can build up in the body and breast milk, and human and animal studies have linked them to fertility problems, precocious puberty, neurological impairment, and changes in thyroid hormones.

A history of BVO by Scientific American notes that in 1970, a U.K. study found that rats fed brominated maize oil gathered stockpiles of bromine in their fat tissue, and the bromine remained there even after the rats returned to a bromine-free diet.

Shortly after, another study confirmed that bromine was building up in humans. Bromine serum levels found in people in the U.K.&mdashwhere BVO was in use&mdashwere higher than levels in their counterparts in the Netherlands and Germany, where BVO was not used. The highest levels of bromine were found in fat tissues of children.

In 1997, a man who had consumed two to four liters of soda containing BVO daily was admitted to the University of California, Davis emergency room for memory loss, tremors, fatigue, loss of muscle coordination, headache, and ptosis in his right eyelid. He was diagnosed with severe bromine intoxication and put on hemodialysis, and eventually recovered.

Among the approximately 10,000 chemical additives approved for use in foods in the U.S., about 3,000 have never been reviewed for safety by the FDA, according to Pew.

The FDA removed brominated vegetable oil from its list of food additives generally recognized as safe in 1970, but BVO reappeared on the list a few years later after industry group studies "demonstrated a level of safety," according to Scientific American. In 1977, BVO was placed on a list of chemicals approved on an "interim basis," pending further safety studies, where it has been since.

"Any change in the interim status of BVO would require an expenditure of FDA's limited resources, which is not a public health protection priority for the agency at this time," a spokeswoman for the FDA told the Times.


Coca-Cola and Pepsi removing controversial 'flame retardant' ingredient from all drinks

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo will both remove from all of their beverages a controversial ingredient that includes an element also found in flame retardants. Coca-Cola intends to have the ingredient, brominated vegetable oil (BVO), removed from its drinks by the end of the year PepsiCo removed BVO from Gatorade last year and said yesterday— apparently following Coca-Cola's announcement — that the rest of its products would also be dropping it, though no timeframe was given.

"All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been." Coca-Cola says that BVO is used to improve the stability of certain drinks by preventing other ingredients from separating. Though it isn't used in all sodas and sports drinks, it's reportedly been used in quite a few big ones, particularly those with citrus flavoring, including Mountain Dew, Fanta, and Powerade. BVO is apparently far from a necessity though: it reportedly isn't approved for use in the European Union or Japan, and Coca-Cola has says that it'll be able to replace it with sucrose acetate isobutyrate and glycerol ester of rosin — ingredients that are no more kindly named, but already being used in drinks and chewing gum.

The Associated Press traces the reason for BVO's removal back to a 2012 Change.org petition from a then-15-year-old girl who wanted it and other "flame retardant" chemicals removed from sports drinks like Gatorade. BVO's use has been contested long before then (humorously enough, The New York Times called the teenager's quest for BVO's removal "most likely … quixotic"), but it appears her petition nonetheless generate considerable attention to the chemical that narrowly predated the change to Gatorade, which appears to have been the tipping point for Coca-Cola's and PepsiCo's drinks at large.

As for exactly what impact BVO has on the human body, that's still open to debate — and likely why it's taken so long for anything to happen. The Mayo Clinic reports that there have been few studies on BVO, but some have found that bromine — the element it shares with flame retardants — can build up in the body. There have apparently also been some reports of memory loss as well as skin and nerve issues after drinking more than two liters of soda containing BVO in a single day. The chemical does, however, remain approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in extremely small amounts pending further study. It's been pending study now for decades.

Naturally, the beverage makers aren't framing BVO's removal as relating to a health concern. "All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been — and comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold," a Coca-Cola spokesperson says in a statement. Coca-Cola did not state why it's now choosing to make the change, noting only that it will allow the company to be "consistent with the ingredients we use throughout the world." Pepsi also denied that the change related to health issues when originally announcing that BVO would be phased out of Gatorade, telling the AP that it had simply been "hearing rumblings" from customers that they wanted the chemical out of their drinks.


Coke to remove flame retardant from drinks

Coca-Cola is removing a chemical linked with fire retardants from all its drinks by the end of the year.

Brominated vegetable oil, also known as BVO, contains bromine which is used as a flame retardant in plastics, upholstered furniture, and some clothing for children and is not approved for use in foods in Japan and the European Union.

Coca-Cola uses the chemical in Fanta, Fresca and some citrus flavored fountain drinks.

The move to remove BVO from drinks originated in a Change.org petition started by Mississippi teenager Sarah Kavanagh in 2012.

Kavanagh petitioned Pepsico to remove BVO from her favorite drink Gatorade. The company relented after the petition garnered momentum and 200,000 people signed it.

Kavanagh added Powerade to the petition, which received 59,000 signatures. Coca-Cola dropped BVO from Powerade’s fruit punch and strawberry lemonade flavored drinks in “the last month or two,” according to a spokesman.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, BVO has been linked to memory loss and skin and nerve problems when consumed in large amounts.

BVO is used by beverage makers to help stabilize ingredients in flavored drinks and prevent them from separating.

The soft drink giant said it will transition to other ingredients that are found in other beverages and also chewing gum.

Coke reiterated that its drinks are safe, saying “All of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been — and comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold. The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority.”

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


Coca-Cola to remove “flame retardant” from American drinks

Though there are exceptions running both ways, it's generally accurate to say, “Food regulations in the European Union are much stricter than in the United States.”

This especially holds true for chemical preservatives there are many for which you can say, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows this substance in food and drink, but it is banned in the EU, and possibly elsewhere too.”

For example, the chemical azodicarbonamide is, according to FDA regulations, “Generally Recognized As Safe” in food — in densities no greater than 45 parts per million. But in most of the world, azodicarbonamide is used primarily in the manufacture of rubber and plastics. Various governments in Europe and Australia consider azodicarbonamide a “respiratory sensitizer” that can trigger asthmatic reactions, and in Singapore, using azodicarbonamide in food warrants high fines and lengthy prison sentences.

Azodicarbonamide made American headlines last February when the Subway sandwich chain, presumably responding to a petition started by a health-food blogger, announced that it would henceforth stop using the chemical in its bread.

And this week another company, presumably in response to a petition, announced plans to alter its recipes so that the products it sells in America are more in line with its offerings elsewhere in the world: the Coca-Cola company will stop adding bromiated vegetable oil to its American drink products. Bromiated vegetable oil contains bromide, which has proven useful as a flame retardant, though Japan and the European Union ban it for human consumption.

Too lax?

Why the wide discrepancy between the U.S. and worldwide views of such chemical additives? Is the United States too lax about food safety where chemicals are concerned — or is the European Union too strict?

In December 2011, Scientific American reprinted an Environmental Health News article discussing the pros and cons of using bromiated vegetable oil (BVO) as a food additive. On the pro side, there's no denying that the FDA has deemed BVO safe for people. But BVO critics countered that the FDA based this decision on scanty data from a study now several decades old, and the frontiers of scientific knowledge have advanced considerably since the 1970s.

Charles Vorhees is a Cincinnati toxicologist who studied the neurological effects of BVOs in the early 1980s. In 2011 Vorhees said, "Compounds like these that are in widespread use probably should be reexamined periodically with newer technologies to ensure that there aren't effects that would have been missed by prior methods … I think BVO is the kind of compound that probably warrants some reexamination."

There are definitely cases of people who developed massive health problems after excessive consumption of bromide. Consider this example from the 2011 SciAm article:

In 1997, emergency room doctors at University of California, Davis reported a patient with severe bromine intoxication from drinking two to four liters of orange soda every day. He developed headaches, fatigue, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and memory loss.

In a 2003 case reported in Ohio, a 63-year-old man developed ulcers on his swollen hands after drinking eight liters of Red Rudy Squirt every day for several months. The man was diagnosed with bromoderma, a rare skin hypersensitivity to bromine exposure. The patient quit drinking the brominated soft drink and months later recovered.

Those two people definitely suffered bad side effects from bromide ingestion — or was it from excessive bromide ingestion? After all, a common adage in medicine says that “the dose makes the poison.” In other words, anything is dangerous if consumed to excess — even pure, clean water will kill you if you drink too much too quickly.

And drinking two to eight liters of soda per day, every day, will wreck your health regardless of whether that soda contains BVO. Indeed, one of the authors of that 1997 study told SciAm as much:

"Any normal level of consumption of BVO would not cause any health problems — except the risk of diabetes and obesity from drinking that much sugar water," said Zane Horowitz, medical director of the Oregon Poison Center and author of the 1997 case study.

It's also worth remembering: the mere fact that a given chemical is used in the production of flame retardant and other non-edible or even toxic materials does not automatically make that chemical unsafe for human consumption.

There is a well-known joke/prank wherein people will discuss the dangers of the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide” (or even collect signatures on petitions urging that dihydrogen monoxide be banned).

Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary and absolutely true warnings about it: used by the nuclear power industry, vital to the production of everything from pesticides to Styrofoam, present in tumors removed from cancer patients, and guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities.

So is dihydrogen monoxide safe for human consumption? Of course. It's not just safe, it's mandatory: dihydrogen monoxide, the compound consisting of two atoms of hydrogen for every one of oxygen, is just another way of saying “water.”


Coca-Cola Will Remove Flame Retardant Chemical From Drinks

After an online petition gathered nearly 60,000 signatures, Coca-Cola said Monday it would remove brominated vegetable oil from its entire line of beverages. You might be familiar with the oil's less technical name: flame retardant.

According to Newsweek, brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, will be removed specifically from Coke&rsquos Powerade drinks, along with Fanta and Fresca brands. Common in fruit drinks, the chemical also doubles as a flame retardant for upholstery and children&rsquos products. (Via The New York Times)

So what&rsquos it doing in soft drinks in the first place? The FDA describes the material as an additive &rdquoused on an interim basis as a stabilizer for flavoring oils.&rdquo The San Diego Reader puts it like this, &ldquowithout brominated vegetable oil, your favorite lemony-limy soda would look like the Gulf of Alaska in the wake of the Exxon-Valdez.&rdquo

And it&rsquos that &ldquointerim&rdquo tag that&rsquos crucial to BVO&rsquos continued use. The oil was labeled &ldquointerim&rdquo by the FDA in 1977, designated for more studies on its safety, but has remained on that list to this day.

According to a 2012 report by The New York Times, don&rsquot expect that label to change anytime soon. An FDA spokeswoman told the outlet that &ldquoAny change in the interim status of BVO would require an expenditure of FDA&rsquos limited resources, which is not a public health protection priority for the agency at this time.&rdquo

That 2012 inquiry came after a Mississippi teenager prodded Pepsi into removing the chemical from its Gatorade flavors. Sarah Kavanagh, then 15, said she targeted Gatorade and Powerade because of their claims to healthful qualities. (Via Change.org)

And if you're wondering what risk BVO poses to the everyday soda drinker, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says drinking excessive amounts of soda containing the chemical can result in headaches, memory loss and even hormonal disruption in extreme cases.

While small amounts of the chemical have no immediate effects, scientists have determined that the bromine stored in fatty tissues can accumulate and remain there even after changes in diet.

Regardless, Coke maintains that even with the removal, its BVO beverages are safe, saying in a statement &ldquoAll of our beverages, including those with BVO, are safe and always have been&mdashand comply with all regulations in the countries where they are sold.&rdquo

And despite the change by Pepsi in 2012, brominated vegetable oil can still be found in the company&rsquos Mountain Dew and Squirt drinks.


Teen's Petition Convinces Coke to Remove Flame Retardant From Products

Powerade lovers decided they were tired of sipping on flame retardant. Now, Coca-Cola is taking note.

Coca-Cola announced this week that it is working to remove brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, from all of its beverages. While Coke has stood by the safety of the ingredient, which distributes flavors more evenly in fruit-flavored drinks such as Powerade, the ingredient has been patented as a flame retardant and is not approved for use in the EU or Japan.

The ban comes on the heels of an online Change.org petitions started by Mississippian teenager Sarah Kavanagh. The petition, which focused on the removal of BVO from Powerade, garnered over 50,000 signatures.

"If they sell [Powerade] overseas without BVO, why risk my health and my friends’ health?" asked Kavanagh in the petition.

Kavanagh's campaign to force Coke to cut BVO from Powerade followed her successful effort to convince PepsiCo to cut the chemical from Gatorade. While Pepsi complied last year, BVO continues to be used as an ingredient in PepsiCo's Mountain Dew and Amp.

Stripping BVO from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo products is just the most recent in a line of petition-induced industry changes. Earlier this year, health blogger Vani Hari's popular petitions helped convince Chick-fil-A to switch to antibiotics free chicken and Subway remove chemicals from its bread. As "sustainable" and "organic" become go-to buzzwords across the food industry, chains have to pay more attention to customers' growing appetite for food minus the chemicals.

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(Bloomberg) -- Supply Lines is a daily newsletter that tracks trade and supply chains disrupted by the pandemic. Sign up here.Japanese exports jumped again, climbing in April by more than a third from last year’s dismal level, as recovering global trade gave a needed boost to an economy that’s stalling at home amid new waves of the coronavirus.Surging car and auto parts shipments helped power a 38% rise in Japan’s exports from a year earlier, according to figures Thursday from the finance ministry that beat all but one forecast from 26 surveyed analysts. The consensus was for a 30.8% gain.Although the data give an inflated view of the strength of exports because they’re based on a comparison with 2020’s terrible figures, the report still shows trade bouncing back -- a major positive for the global economy and Japan. Shipments climbed almost 8% compared with 2019.A separate report showed Japanese machinery orders, a leading indicator of capital spending, gained in March from the prior month.Key InsightsMore export gains are good news for an economy struggling to quell new virus waves amid a slow vaccine drive. Weak consumer spending and business investment last quarter led to a bigger-than-expected GDP contraction and raised the risk of a double-dip recession.Last month’s trade increase showed a broad-based recovery in world economies. Shipments to the U.S. and Asia rose the most since 2010, while those to the EU climbed the most since 1980, according to a ministry official.“Demand itself is very strong led by the U.S., and Chinese exports,” said economist Hiroaki Muto at Sumitomo Life Insurance Co, adding that bottlenecks in semiconductor supplies could slow gains in months ahead. “‘I expect net exports to be positive for Japan’s 2Q GDP, although it wouldn’t surprise me if 2Q GDP overall was negative.”A drop in the yen’s value gives Japan’s exporters another tailwind. The currency has fallen roughly 6% versus the dollar so far this year, increasing the value of repatriated profits for companies from Toyota to Hitachi.What Bloomberg Economics Says. “Looking ahead, we expect exports to come in above the pre-Covid level in May, supported by a recovery in European demand with progress on vaccinations. Shipments to the U.S. and China may increase at a slower pace.”--Yuki Masujima, economistTo read full report, click here.Get MoreImports rose 12.8% from the previous year, compared with analysts forecasting a 9% increase.Shipments to the U.S. jumped 45.1%, while those to the EU climbed 39.6% and those to China gained 33.9%.The trade balance was 255.3 billion yen ($2.3 billion) in the black. Analysts had expected a surplus of 147.7 billion yen.Core machinary orders increased 3.7% in March versus the prior month, compared with a 5% rise forecast by analysts.(Adds economist’s comments.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

What bitcoin’s collapse could mean for your retirement

Youngsters’ dreams of an easy, early and rich retirement were getting a pounding this week as their favorite cryptocurrencies collapsed. Prices for bitcoin (BTCUSD) and other futuristic “currencies” were in free fall Wednesday. Anyone who has bought into bitcoin since February is already in the red.

Trudeau Tightens Up Mortgages After Macklem Sounds Housing Alarm

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian officials escalated efforts to cool the nation’s booming housing market, moving ahead with tighter mortgage qualification rules after the central bank issued a fresh warning against buyers taking on too much debt.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government set a new benchmark interest rate on Thursday afternoon to determine whether people can qualify for mortgages that are insured by Canada’s housing agency. The move matches an April decision by the nation’s banking regulator to do the same for uninsured mortgages.The regulator -- the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions -- announced earlier Thursday it would implement its new rules June 1.Those steps coincided with a stern warning from Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem in the morning cautioning that Canadians should neither assume interest rates will remain at historic lows nor expect recent sharp gains in home prices to continue.“It is vitally important that homeownership remain within reach for Canadians,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.The moves come amid a surge in housing prices that’s raising concern among policy makers and economists. Cheap mortgages and new remote-working conditions have spurred a frenzy of demand for more spacious homes, with house hunters bidding up prices across the country.Canadians are so alarmed by the red-hot housing that nearly half the respondents in a Nanos Research Group poll for Bloomberg News say they’d like to see the Bank of Canada raise borrowing costs to curb demand for real estate and stabilize prices.Still, the measures announced Thursday are seen as incremental steps rather than representing a fundamental shift in policy.With the changes, home buyers will have to show they can afford a minimum rate of 5.25%. The current threshold, based on posted rates of Canada’s six largest lenders, is 4.79%. Economists have been estimating the tighter qualification restrictions would reduce the buying power of households by about 5%.The changes will have little impact on current housing price dynamics, according to Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.“This is not a game changer by any stretch of the imagination and it was highly expected,” Tal said by phone from Toronto.The measures from the government and the regulator came only hours after the Bank of Canada released its annual financial stability report, which highlighted the growing vulnerabilities associated with overleveraged households and speculative housing activity. It flagged three urban markets -- Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal -- as showing excess “exuberance,” with the national capital of Ottawa on the cusp of crossing that threshold.‘Not Normal”At a press conference, Macklem said some people have taken on “significantly” more debt, with many carrying very large mortgages relative to income. Borrowers and lenders need to understand that interest rates won’t always be at historic lows, and home buyers won’t be able to rely on rising values, he said.“It is important to understand that the recent rapid increases in home prices are not normal,” Macklem said. “Counting on ever higher house prices to build home equity that can be used to refinance mortgages in the future is a bad idea.”Outside of the warnings Thursday, it’s not clear how much the central bank can do to cool the market.Growing household vulnerabilities could give policy makers more reason to consider raising borrowing costs, for example, but higher rates would also inflate risks -- such as slow growth or a price correction. Macklem’s next interest-rate decision is due June 9 and the Bank of Canada has said it won’t consider raising its 0.25% benchmark rate until he economy is recovers fully from the Covid-19 pandemic.The Bank of Canada’s financial system review did find that Canada’s lenders could absorb a significant amount of losses in the case of another shock. The central bank said household debt and housing market vulnerabilities probably don’t pose a significant systemic threat to bank solvency, even though they could undermine future growth.“We have to look at the whole economy,” Macklem said at the press conference. “There are important parts of the economy that remain very weak, and the economy needs our support.”(Updates with context throughout.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

‘Shark Tank’ Judge’s SPAC in Talks to Merge With Insurer

(Bloomberg) -- Home-coverage startup Kin Insurance is in talks to go public via Omnichannel Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company led by recurring “Shark Tank” guest judge Matt Higgins, according to people with knowledge of the matter.The combined entity is set to be valued at over $1 billion, one of the people said. Terms could change and as with all transactions that aren’t yet finalized, it’s possible talks could collapse. A deal, if agreed, could be announced next month, one of the people said.Representatives for Omnichannel and Kin declined to comment.Chicago-based Kin says it offers affordable coverage in “catastrophe-prone” regions including California, Florida and Louisiana directly to consumers online. It is led by co-founders Sean Harper, the chief executive officer, and Lucas Ward, who is president and chief technology officer.Kin raised $63.9 million in a recent funding round from investors including Senator Investment Group, Hudson Structured Capital Management, the University of Chicago’s startup investment program, Allegis NL Capital and Alpha Edison. Earlier backers include August Capital and Commerce Ventures.The insurer recently said it surpassed $100 million in annual recurring premium after just 21 months as a carrier in an industry that still sees more than 90% of home coverage sold through brick-and-mortar agencies.Omnichannel, led by Higgins -- an executive fellow at Harvard Business School -- in November raised $206.5 million in an initial public offering. The company’s website says it’s seeking a $1 billion to $2.5 billion acquisition, which it has defined in filings as including direct-to-consumer services. Beauty entrepreneur Bobbi Brown is on the SPAC’s board.Higgins is also CEO of RSE Ventures, an investment firm that has made bets on companies including David Chang’s Momofuku, Bluestone Lane and & Pizza on behalf of billionaire Stephen Ross. Higgins is also a vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins, of which Ross is a co-owner alongside Serena and Venus Williams, among others.Another so-called insuretech company, Hippo Enterprises Inc., in March agreed to go public via a SPAC. MetroMile Inc. in February became a public company after merging with a SPAC.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

U.S. Proposes $242 Million in Penalties for Traders

(Bloomberg) -- The top U.S. energy regulator has proposed forcing three power traders, all veterans of JPMorgan Chase & Co., to pay a total of $242 million for allegedly manipulating an obscure of corner of the country’s largest electricity market.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accused GreenHat Energy LLC and its owners of placing bets on potential grid bottlenecks, known as the financial transmission rights market, that sent false price signals, according to statement Thursday. The wagers cost utilities and other traders in the PJM Interconnection market more than $179 million in losses.“Today’s order offers another reminder that the Commission has a solemn responsibility to investigate and penalize participants that engage in market manipulation,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said Thursday during a FERC meeting.Also Read: Ex-JPMorgan Traders Lost Millions on Bad Bets in Power MarketThe move comes after the number of FERC probes into wrongdoing in energy markets fell to a record low last year under the Trump Administration. Glick has made it a priority to step up investigation since he was appointed to lead the agency by the Biden Administration earlier this year.FERC proposed civil penalties totaling $179 million to GreenHat and fines of $25 million each to two of its owners: John Bartholomew and Kevin Ziegenhorn. The agency also proposed ordering them to surrender nearly $13.1 million in profits.A third GreenHat owner, Andrew Kittell, died in January. His estate is being asked to respond to the allegations. The parties have 30 days to respond.GreenHat started placing the bets in auctions held by PJM Interconnection LLC, which operates the country’s largest power market, in 2015 and kept building positions into 2018. The company kept placing the bets even as other market participants flagged PJM about the risk before it defaulted on a $1.2 million payment in June 2018 and those losses have ballooned 150 times. At the time of the default, GreenHat had less than $560,000 in collateral on deposit with the grid operator.GreenHat rigged the auctions by using inside information about sell offers made by a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc to design its own bids to buy those same transmission rights from the energy giant, the commission said Thursday. The three owners of the firm had realized “their enormous portfolio” was not expected to be profitable overall, but some of the FTRs did gain value after GreenHat bought them. GreenHat then sold these “winners” in four deals to third parties for a total of $13.1 million.“This alleged scheme is an example of a type of fraud in which perpetrators acquire assets with no intent to pay for them, and then try to turn the assets into immediate cash for themselves,” FERC said in the FERC statement.Shell didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment, nor did lawyers representing Bartholomew and Ziegenhorn. Lawyers representing Kittell’s estate declined to comment.This default by a small, new trader was the largest any U.S. grid had experienced of any kind, until the freeze that struck Texas in February left the state’s power market facing a nearly $3 billion shortfall. GreenHat’s default forced the previous PJM chief executive out. PJM also hired a new chief risk officer reporting to the board and sparked a review of credit policies across grids.Market participants have already been charged $180.5 million for GreenHat’s bad bets when factoring related costs and those losses will continue to widen until the last positions are liquidated this month, according to the market monitor’s most recent report.FERC’s enforcement team has been investigating GreenHat’s trading behavior since at least 2018, bringing fresh scrutiny on trading activity by Kittell and Bartholomew just a few years after they were part of a team investigated at JPMorgan, according to filings. In 2013, the bank settled a case alleging its traders manipulated the California power market for a record $410 million fine at the time.FERC Commissioner James Danly concurred with the GreenHat order, calling in light of the massive default, in the monthly meeting. “It’s necessary for the commission to make an official pronouncement on whether or not there was manipulation.”(Updates with reference to GreenHat using Shell’s data in the eighth paragraph. An earlier version corrected the story to say that the penalties are proposed.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

What Hedge Fund Analysts Do for Investments

Every investment class needs someone to manage it. From the market makers and clearing houses that ensure stock trading to the bankers who move currencies around the world, markets are not natural phenomena. They require management. Perhaps nowhere is that more … Continue reading → The post What Hedge Fund Analysts Do for Investments appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Are We Testing Newborns for Pot?

The science is alarmingly inconclusive, but the punishment for mothers is severe.

Employees at US hospitals are testing more and more newborns for cannabis exposure. And, with alarming frequency, they are getting the wrong results. So say a pair of recent studies documenting the unreliability of infant drug testing.

In the most recent trial, published in the September edition of the Journal of Clinical Chemistry , investigators at the University of Utah School of Medicine evaluated the rate of unconfirmed "positive" immunoassay test results in infant and non-infant urine samples over a 52-week period. Shockingly, authors found that positive tests for carboxy THC, a byproduct of THC screened for in immunoassay urine tests, were 59 times less likely to be confirmed in infant urine specimens as compared to non-infant urine samples. Overall, 47 percent of the infant positive immunoassay urine samples evaluated did not test for the presence of carboxy THC when confirmatory assay measures were later performed.
Immunoassay testing – the standard technology used in workplace drug testing – relies on the use of antibodies (proteins that will react to a particular substance or a group of very similar substances) to document whether a specific reaction occurs. Therefore, a positive result on an immunoassay test presumes that a certain quantity of a particular substance may be present in the sample, but it does not actually identify the presence of the substance itself. A more specific chemical test, known as chromatography, must be performed in order to confirm any preliminary analytical test results. Samples that test positive on the presumptive immunoassay test, but then later test negative on the confirmatory test are known as false positives.
False positive test results for cannabis’ carboxy THC metabolite are relatively uncommon in adult specimens. Among newborns’ specimens, however, false positive results for alleged cannabis exposure are disturbingly prevalent.
In April, researchers at the University of North Carolina reported in the journal Clinical Biochemistry that various chemicals present in various baby wash products, such as Johnson's Head-to-Toe Baby Wash and CVS Baby Wash, frequently cross-react with the immunoassay test to cause false positive results for carboxy THC.

“[The] addition of Head-to-Toe Baby Wash to drug-free urine produced a dose dependent measureable response in the THC immunoassay,” the investigators concluded . “Addition of other commercially available baby soaps gave similar results, and subsequent testing identified specific chemical surfactants that reacted with the THC immunoassay. … Given these consequences, it is important for laboratories and providers to be aware of this potential source for false positive screening results and to consider confirmation before initiating interventions.”

Following the publication of the UNC study, researchers at the University of Utah screened for the presence of baby soap contaminants in infant urine. Surprisingly, they didn’t find any . Rather, they concluded that the disproportionately high rate of false positive test results discovered among their samples were the result of a cross-reaction with some other yet-to-be determined constituent. They cautioned: “Until the compounds contributing to positive urine screen results in infants are identified, we encourage the use of alternative specimens for the detection and investigation of neonatal exposure to cannabinoids. Screen-positive cannabinoid results from infant samples should not be reported without confirmation or appropriate consultation, because they cannot currently be interpreted.”
Yet despite these warnings, in many instances, hospitals fail to confirm the results of presumptive drug tests prior to reporting them to state authorities. (Because confirmatory testing is more expensive the immunoassay testing, many hospitals neglect to send such presumptive positive urine samples to outside labs for follow-up analysis.) Ironically, such confirmatory tests are required for all hospital employees who test positive for illicit substances. But presently, no such guidelines stipulate that similar precautions be taken for newborns or pregnant mothers. Explains Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women : “NAPW has had calls from numerous parents who were subjected to intrusive, threatening, and counterproductive child welfare interventions based on false or innocent positive test results for marijuana. We have learned that pregnant patients receive fewer guarantees of accuracy than do job applicants at that same hospital.” 


Watch the video: At Issue: Flame Retardant Chemicals (July 2022).


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