Consumers Vote “No” on Costly Organic Smoothies “Made of Swiss Chard, Cashew Milk and Himalayan Salt”

(p. D1) As recently as last month, one could hardly throw a lentil in New York City without hitting an Organic Avenue storefront, with its orange banner, stick-figure logo and promise of better living through $9 cayenne-infused lemonade.
Kat Schamens, a yoga teacher and fitness-apparel designer, liked it that way. “I would always think, ‘I can’t wait to go in and get my chickpea soup,’ ” she said.
In mid-October, Ms. Schamens learned that Organic Avenue’s 10 stores had been shuttered and that the company had filed for bankruptcy. “I kind of freaked out,” she said. “I was distraught. I lost my yoga for a minute.”
. . .
(p. D7) The loyalty of devotees like Ms. Schamens and Ms. Kerin notwithstanding, there is an admitted emperor’s new clothes quality to paying $25 for a lunch of vegetable shavings and a smoothie made of Swiss chard, cashew milk and Himalayan salt.
“You can’t get people to crave this food,” the former investor said. “You can’t build a long-term business off what Gwyneth Paltrow likes.”
Some researchers began to publish studies questioning the necessity and safety of juice cleanses. And the fashion world started to feel pushback from nutritionists and eating-disorder activists against its support of juicing in early 2013, after the Council of Fashion Designers of America announced a 50 percent discount for models on Organic Avenue juices during New York Fashion Week.

For the full story, see:
KATHERINE ROSMAN. “How Organic Avenue Lost All Its Juice.” The New York Times (Sun., NOV. 5, 2015): D1 & D7.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 4, 2015.)

Hungry Suffer Due to G.M.O. Bans by Europe’s “Coalition of the Ignorant”

(p. 6) CALL it the “Coalition of the Ignorant.” By the first week of October [2015], 17 European countries — including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland — had used new European Union rules to announce bans on the cultivation of genetically modified crops.
. . .
I have spent time with malnourished children in Tanzania whose families were going hungry because cassava crops were wiped out by brown-streak disease. That was particularly painful because in neighboring Uganda I had recently visited trial plots of genetically modified cassava that demonstrated complete resistance to the virus. The faces of the hungry children come to mind every time I hear European politicians boast about their country’s G.M.O. ban and demand that the rest of the world follow suit — as Scotland’s minister did in August.
Thanks to Europe’s Coalition of the Ignorant, we are witnessing a historic injustice perpetrated by the well fed on the food insecure. Europe’s stance, if taken up internationally, risks marginalizing a critically important technology that we must surely employ if humanity is to feed itself sustainably in an increasingly difficult and challenging future. I can only hope that the Continent’s policy makers come to their senses before it is too late.

For the full commentary, see:
MARK LYNAS. “With G.M.O. Policies, Europe Turns Against Science.” The New York Times, SundayReview Section (Sun., OCT. 25, 2015): 6.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary was updated on OCT. 24, 2015, and has the title “With G.M.O. Policies, Europe Turns Against Science.”)

FDA Forces Child to Go to London to Get Drug to Fight His Cancer

(p. A15) How far would you go to get a drug that could save your child’s life? Across an ocean? That is exactly what the federal government is forcing some American families with dying children to do.
In 2012, when Diego Morris was 11 years old, he was diagnosed with a deadly cancer in his leg called osteosarcoma. Doctors at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., removed the tumor, but the prognosis was poor. There was a significant risk that even extensive chemotherapy after surgery would not prevent the cancer from returning.
Fortunately, a team of doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City had developed a revolutionary new drug, mifamurtide (MTP), that can prevent osteosarcoma from coming back. A study by Dr. Eugenie Kleinerman of MD Anderson and Dr. Paul Meyers of Sloan Kettering showed the drug resulted in a 30% reduction in the osteosarcoma mortality rate at eight years after diagnosis.
The drug was approved in 2009 by the European Medicines Agency and is currently the standard of care in Europe, Israel and many other countries. In 2012 it received the prestigious Prix Galien Award, the gold medal for pharmaceutical research and development in the United Kingdom.
MPT was exactly what Diego needed. But there was one problem: The drug was not available in America because the Food and Drug Administration had rejected it, demanding additional studies. That meant that Diego had to travel from Phoenix to London to get the drug he needed to save his life–a drug that was available in almost every industrialized nation and should have been available in the U.S.

For the full commentary, see:

DARCY OLSEN. “Winning the Right to Save Your Own Life; As the FDA dawdles, 24 states pass ‘right-to-try’ laws giving terminally ill patients access to drugs.” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., Nov. 27, 2015): A15.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 26, 2015.)

Olsen’s commentary is related to her book:
Olsen, Darcy. The Right to Try: How the Federal Government Prevents Americans from Getting the Lifesaving Treatments They Need. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015.

Process Innovations from “an Uber of Trucking” Can Increase Transport Efficiency

(p. B1) Investors are pouring millions of dollars into startups hoping to disrupt the $700 billion trucking industry, the latest example of Silicon Valley’s efforts to upend the traditional economy.
A series of startups are vying to become an “Uber of trucking,” leveraging truck drivers’ smartphones to quickly connect them with nearby companies looking to ship goods. The upstarts aim to reinvent a fragmented U.S. trucking industry that has long relied on third-party brokers, essentially travel agents for trucking who connect truckers with customers.
Silicon Valley’s interest in trucking has accelerated in recent months. San Francisco-based Trucker Path Inc. says it is aiming to reach a $1 billion valuation next year. The latest entrant, Seattle-based Convoy, said Tuesday it had raised $2.5 million in seed funding from investors including Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, Salesforce.com Inc. founder Marc Benioff, eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and Uber Technologies Inc. co-founder Garrett Camp.

For the full story, see:
JACK NICAS and LAURA STEVENS. “Startups Accelerate Efforts to Reinvent Trucking Industry.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Oct. 27, 2015): B1 & B6.

Disney Used Money from His Cartoons to Fund the “Audacious” Breakthrough Snow White

(p. C2) The 1920s were no doubt a time much like our own, full of people who could see ways to advance and exploit new technologies, and Disney was one of those. But plenty of people have ideas; only a few manage to make them reality. Like many an Internet entrepreneur, Disney was able to do so because of a combination of serendipity and tenacity. You can read a lot into that sketch of a mouse he came up with.
“He doesn’t have the financial backing to support what it is he’s doing,” Carmenita Higginbotham, an art historian who teaches at the University of Virginia, says of his early career. “He wants to be a bigger voice than he is. And it’s a perfect metaphor, him being this small mouse, this seemingly insignificant figure or individual within this big industry that he wants to break into.”
The parallel to the Internet age is also evident in the speed of his ascension. His “Steamboat Willie” cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse in effect went viral after its premiere at the Colony Theater in New York in 1928, propelled by its innovative merging of image and sound.
That gave him enough credibility and money to try something audacious: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a project that, we’re told, he outlined to his staff in 1934 by calling a meeting and enacting all the parts himself.
“What Disney was proposing had never been done, never even been tried: a feature-length, story-driven cartoon,” says the narration, read by Oliver Platt. There followed a typical Hollywood story of cost overruns and jeopardized deadlines — the animation technique used required more than 200,000 separate drawings.

For the full review, see:
NEIL GENZLINGER. “The Mind that Built the House of Mouse.” The New York Times (Sat., SEPT. 12, 2015): C1-C2.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date SEPT. 11, 2015, and has the title “Review: PBS’s ‘Walt Disney’ Explores a Complex Legacy.”)
(Note: Genzlinger is reviewing the two part documentary on “Walt Disney” that aired on the “American Experience” series of PBS on Mon., Sept. 7 and Tues., Sept. 8, 2015.)

Cuomo Bans the Fracking that Could Revive New York’s Southern Tier

(p. A25) CONKLIN, N.Y. — The main grocery store here was replaced by a Family Dollar store, already faded. The historic front of the town hall, a castle no less, is crumbling, and donations are being solicited. The funds earmarked to strip off the lead paint from the castle’s exterior went instead to clear mold from the basement.
This town of roughly 5,500 residents looks alarmingly like dozens of other towns and cities in New York’s Southern Tier, a vast part of the state that runs parallel to Pennsylvania. Years ago, the region was a manufacturing powerhouse, a place where firms like General Electric and Westinghouse thrived. But over time companies have downsized, or left altogether, lured abroad or to states with lower taxes and fewer regulations.
. . .
In western New York, . . . , Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, pledged $1 billion in 2012 to support economic development. Since then, he has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into numerous Buffalo-area projects.
The Southern Tier has proved to be a harder fix. It is predominantly rural and lacks a significant population core that typically attracts the private sector.
The region is resource rich, but landowners are angry the government will not let them capitalize on it. Some had pinned their hopes of an economic revival on the prospect of the state’s authorizing hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking; many of them can recite the payment formula gas companies were proposing: $500 a month per acre.
But the Cuomo administration, citing health risks, decided last year to ban the practice, leaving some farmers contemplating logging the timber on their land, a move that could destroy swaths of pristine forest.

For the full story, see:
SUSANNE CRAIG. “Former Hub of Manufacturing Ponders Next Act.” The New York Times (Weds., SEPT. 30, 2015): A20-A21.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date SEPT. 29, 2015, and has the title “New York’s Southern Tier, Once a Home for Big Business, Is Struggling.”)

Hawaiian Culture Changed Swiftly in Century After 1777

(p. C1 & C6) It’s startling just how swiftly change came to Hawaii after Capt. James Cook first sighted the island of Kauai in 1777: In little more than a century, Ms. Moore writes, “a closed and isolated culture, bound by superstition and religious ritual, with no understanding of individual freedom or private property,” had been transformed into “a society of thriving capitalism, Protestant values, and democratic institutions.”

For the full review, see:
MICHIKO KAKUTANI. “Hard Truths in the Past of a Tropical Eden.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., SEPT. 22, 2015): C1 & C6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date SEPT. 21, 2015, and has the title “Review: ‘Paradise of the Pacific,’ the Hard Truths of Hawaii’s History.”)

The book under review, is:
Moore, Susanna. Paradise of the Pacific: Approaching Hawaii. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.