Bits and Pieces: Pesticides, Fresh Water, Vegetable Gardening and More

Short summaries of environmental, lifestyle and economic news.

| July/August 1976

Aerial spraying of the pesticide Endrin against cutworms in south-central Kansas has resulted in illness among some local residents, and the deaths of cattle, horses, dogs, and more than two million fish in area lakes, ponds, and streams. Failure to turn spray machines off at critical times—and "drift" of the compound due to application on windy days—were cited as "probable causes". One dairy farmer in the region was forced to dump his herd's milk production for five consecutive days due to contamination, and others are now concerned that pasture and forage may be tainted by the man-made poison,

Did you know that a nationwide returnable-bottle system would save 115,000 barrels of oil a day ... that 73% of the people in this country favor such a plan ... and that as much as 56% of what you pay when you buy a beer or soft drink is for the container? These facts and more on energy, solid waste, materials, litter, employment, and consumer issues related to the throwaway-bottle controversy are presented in Bottles and Sense, a 20-page publication by the Environmental Action Foundation. Copies are available from EAF (724 Dupont Circle Building, Washington, D.C. 20036) for $1.00 each.

The U.S. government has hidden four billion dollars in new currency in a vault inside Pony Mountain near Culpeper, Virginia, The seven-million-dollar facility—which is also designed to accommodate 400 people, and costs approximately $1.8 million a year to guard and maintain—holds the "cache of cash" as a hedge against any nuclear attack that might wipe out the nation's money supply. But, as Senator William Proxmire has wryly pointed out, a more probable end to the doomsday plan might be that "we would have money and no people except for a few lonely radioactive government officials".

Federal Trade Commission administrative judge Lewis Parker has ruled that Seattle-area manufacturers do not have to label the "native" Alaskan curios they sell as "machine made in Seattle". According to that city's Post-Intelligencer , the judge commented that "many products which the consumer purchases are not what they appear to be" and that 'revealing the whole truth would do away with unfounded assumptions which consumers might have".

Dubious honor of becoming first two insects listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act has been bestowed upon two varieties of butterflies: the Schaus swallowtail and Bahama swallowtail. Keith M. Schreiner, Associate Director of the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the event is "particularly disturbing because the real name of the game in endangered species is the conservation of ecosystems, and some of the best indicators of the health of an ecosystem are insects".

$250 cash reward goes to any gardener who can somehow manage to top one of the following current world's records for largest vegetables: tomato (4 lb., 4 oz.), watermelon (197 lb.), squash (378 lb.), and sunflower (21', 5-1/2"). Prize money is offered by Grace's Gardens (Autumn Lane, Hackettstown, N.J. 07840), which specializes in selling seed for rare and gigantic garden crops, and calls its catalog (available for 25¢ ) "the world's most unusual". After reading the brochure's 16 pages full of such items as yard-long beans, 12-foot-high corn, and 65-inch-long banana squash, we can only agree.

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