This is a big deal
April 27, 2015

Chipotle is officially the first major restaurant chain to go completely GMO-free.

The fast-casual chain has worked to eliminate genetically modified organisms from its offerings for more than two years, The Wall Street Journal reports. Some of the transition included, for instance, replacing a genetically modified soybean oil with a GMO-free sunflower oil.

Some GMOs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the Journal notes, but GMO critics believe they are bad for the environment and potentially harmful to humans. Common GMO crops include corn and soybeans, which are modified to be pest-resistant. The Journal notes that more than 90 percent of U.S. corn and soy is from genetically modified seeds.

"This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food," Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle, told The New York Times. "Just because food is served fast doesn't mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors." Meghan DeMaria

April 21, 2015

A bill that would add revisions to cosmetics regulations has received bipartisan support. If approved, the bill would further the FDA's ability to force companies to recall products and disclose information about public health risks.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), would be the first major revision to industry regulations since 1938, The New York Times reports. It would give the FDA the power to force recalls and disclose "serious" health effects, such as disfigurement and death, within 15 business days. Under current regulations, cosmetics companies voluntarily recall products and disclose health information.

The bill would also allow the FDA to study five cosmetic chemicals a year. The first set includes propylparaben, which is used to preserve many cosmetics, and lead acetate, which is common in men's hair dye. Meghan DeMaria

April 3, 2015

The Sacramento Kings signed 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar to a 10-day contract on Thursday, making him the first player of Indian descent to reach the NBA, ESPN reports.

Bhullar, who was raised in Canada, has been playing in the NBA Development League for the Reno Bighorns, Sacramento's affiliate. He has had a steadfast supporter in Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, a well-established businessman in India, despite Bhullar's struggles to drop extra weight and up his conditioning for the pace of the NBA game.

"He adds a very interesting dimension to the game," Kings coach George Karl said. “And our game is becoming an international game, and India is becoming one of the greatest, largest, biggest democracies in the world." Sarah Eberspacher

March 16, 2015

France's health minister, Olivier Veran, has announced her support for criminalizing advertisements that feature anorexic models.

Veran wants a forthcoming health bill to include language making it illegal for designers to employ models who have eating disorders. Modeling agencies would be required to submit medical reports verifying that their models "have maintained a healthy mass-to-height ratio," The Associated Press reports. The law would also target pro-anorexia websites, and people who run sites that promote the disorder could face a year in prison and $10,575 in fines.

If France approves the measure, it would join Israel and Spain in "cracking down on the glorification of dangerously thin models," AP notes. Spain has banned models with body mass-to-height ratios below 18, and Israel passed a law banning underweight models in 2013.

AP notes that about 40,000 people in France suffer from anorexia, and 90 percent of them are women. Meghan DeMaria

February 19, 2015

If you've got severe peanut allergies, you may want to avoid more than just peanut products and candies processed in peanut plants.

The Food and Drug Administration has advised people allergic to peanuts to avoid cumin — multiple cumin shipments tested positive for peanuts and weren't labeled as such. According to an FDA alert, people who are highly allergic to peanuts could be at risk of "a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction" if they eat the contaminated cumin, The Associated Press reports.

The recall affects more than spice jars, too. The FDA has recalled hundreds of cumin products, including spice mixes, soups, and meats with marinades that have cumin.

If you believe you have suffered a reaction to the contaminated cumin, you can file a report with the FDA. Meghan DeMaria

February 10, 2015

Bryn Mawr College, an all-female college, announced Monday that it will soon accept applications from transgender women and from people who don't identify as men.

In a press release, the school said it would consider the applications of "transwomen and of intersex individuals who live and identify as women at the time of application." Bryn Mawr will also allow "intersex individuals who do not identify as male" to apply to the college, but those who were assigned female at birth and have taken "medical or legal steps to identify as male" won't be eligible for admission to the school.

The announcement comes after a petition last year asked the school to accept transgender women. Meghan DeMaria

February 2, 2015

A research team from the University of Cambridge and the Fitzwilliam Museum has announced that two statues, obscure for more than 100 years, may be Michelangelo's last surviving bronze works.

The 3.3-feet-tall statues depict a young man and an older man riding panthers. In the 19th century, the statues were attributed to Michelangelo, AFP reports, but since the pieces were undocumented and unsigned, that credit was since dismissed.

But when University of Cambridge emeritus professor Paul Joannides found a drawing of a young man riding a panther in a Michelangelo sketch, the art world reconsidered the statues. Experts studied the bronzes and found their style and anatomy were similar to Michelangelo's 16th-century works.

Previously, it was thought that none of Michelangelo's bronze statues had survived. The two sculptures will be displayed at Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum from Feb. 3 until August 9. Meghan DeMaria

January 18, 2015

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Obama will call for reshaping the tax code by raising rates and fees for high income-earners and big financial firms while cutting taxes for the middle class.

A central component of the plan would close the so-called "trust-fund loophole" that allows hundreds of billions of dollars in inheritances to go untaxed. The plan is projected to raise $320 billion over the coming decade, according to the administration, money that would then finance middle class tax cuts and Obama's recently announced free community college initiative.

Republican lawmakers have so far resisted any tax increases under Obama, and it's unlikely they'll change course now that they control both chambers of Congress. Jon Terbush

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