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2 posts from October 2015


How Well Are Accountable Care Organizations Performing? (October 26th)

For those interested in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (or ACOs), please see my Health Affairs blog post (co-authored with Greg Berger) that summarizes ACO performance year two (2014).  The essay is titled, "MSSP Year Two: Medicare ACOs Show Muted Success" and can be found at:  http://healthaffairs.org/blog/2015/09/24/mssp-year-two-medicare-acos-show-muted-success/



Is the Intensive Use of Herbicides on Genetically Modified Food Crops Endangering the Public's Health? A Conversation with Charles Benbrook (October 20th)

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Beyond numerous other benefits derived by genetically modifying foods is herbicide resistance. This allows farmers the ability to control for weed growth without killing their crop, for example, corn and soybeans.  While a foreseeable unintended consequence, the increasing or intensive use of the herbicides, specifically glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the widely used product Roundup, has caused weeds to develop resistance.   As a result glyphosate is now beginning to be used in combination with another herbicide, 2,4-D, a component of the defoliant Agent Orange, under the product name Enlist Duo.  The question begged is to what extent do these herbicides, used independently and in combination, pose a public health risk.

During this 30 minute discussion Dr. Benbrook discusses in part the evolution of the use of these herbicides, the federal governments efforts to risk assess their use, the IRAC's (International Agency for Research on Cancer) recent finding these products are probable or possible human carcinogens, the pending National Academy of Sciences' report (scheduled to be published next year) and his thoughts regarding what can be done to safeguard exposed populations.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Benbrook, Benbrook Consulting, is a recognized expert in pest management
sytsems, pesticide use and regulation and the environmental and  public health consequences of farming system choices.  Dr. Benbrook worked in Washington, D.C. on agricultural policy issues Searchfor nearly twenty years as the agricultural staff expert on the Council for Environmental Quality, as Executive Director of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Research and Foreign Agriculture for the House of Representatives and as the Executive Director for the Board on Agriculture at the National Academy of Sciences.   He also served for six years as Chief Scientist of the Organic Center and for three years as a Research Professor at Washington State University.  Dr. Benbrook holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, an undergraduate degree from Harvard and is the author of nearly three dozen peer-reviewed articles.        

The New England Journal of Medicine essay noted during this conversation, co-authored by Dr. Benbrook and Dr. Philip Landrigan and titled "GMOs, Herbicides and Public Health," is at:  http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1505660