Short items

Methane rising?

Atmospheric concentrations of methane have risen for the first time since 1998, show 2006-2007 data released by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The spike in levels of the potent greenhouse gas may be the start of a worrying trend. 

Opium in Afghanistan 

Plans to legalise opium production in Afghanistan are ’unworkable and unnecessary’, according to Mark Malloch-Brown, UK foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the United Nations, writing in the British Medical Journal (336 972)in response to a scheme promoted by the Senlis Council (Chemistry World, March 2008, p6). 

Say What? 

"You cannot do your job - how much money do you need to do it? "

Representative John Dingell grills US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director Andrew von Eschenbach on 22 April, on the FDA’s ability to adequately inspect imported food and drugs, after Chinese supplies of the blood thinner heparin were contaminated and linked to at least 80 US deaths. 

" I’d shut down every drug coming in from China until they were deemed safe " 

Representative Bart Stupak explains on 10 May how he’d tackle the problem.  

" In 30 years at the FDA I never saw anything like this before " 

Former FDA commissioner William Hubbard on 14 May, commenting on von Eschenbach’s 5 May letter to Congress asking for a $275 million cash infusion to ensure the safety of imported food, medical devices and drugs.  [Source: New York Times