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WRITING FOR THE MEDIA
Sample Press Releases

  • City mayors agree on climate change

  • Labeling genetically engineered foods

  • Mining rider on the Kosovo bill

  • Walking kids to school


    Sample Press Release #1

    EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE Tuesday, Sept. 28, 1999, 12:01 a.m.

    CONTACTS: Name, phone

    MAYOR PETER CLAVELLE AND FOUR CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS WARNS OF GLOBAL WARMING RISK, URGE NATIONS TO STEP UP SOLUTIONS FIGHT

    Statement Cites Threat to Burlington, Highlights Economic Benefits of Early Action

    Mayor Clavelle joined more than 567 mayors and local elected officials across the United States today announcing their concern over the impact of global warming on their communities, and called on both Congress and the Administration to boost efforts to fight the problem. The bi-partisan group of officials are elected leaders from cities and towns of all sizes in nearly every state in the Union.

    Citing a sharp rise in extreme weather -- heat waves and intense storms that scientists have long predicted as a result of global warming -- the local officials say they face potentially crippling costs as the long-term warming trend continues. All ten of the warmest years on record have occurred since 1980, with 1998 the hottest ever. Scientists predict global average temperatures will rise by as much as 6 Fahrenheit over the next century (during the last ice age, by contrast, the average was just five to nine degrees cooler than today).

    "Federal disaster funds cannot begin to cover the economic and human losses that have been caused by these weather disasters," say the officials in their statement. "Local communities bear the brunt of the human and economic damage, and are witnessing a decline in the quality of life we have worked so hard to achieve."

    Fortunately, the local leaders say current technology combined with smart management allows communities to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that cause global warming. Measures that address global warming pollution, they say, can also "save money, create jobs and strengthen the local economy."

    Burlington is participating with more than 64 U.S. cities in a program called the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign, run by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

    Six prominent local officials initiated the statement and called on their peers from across the country to join them in signing the Mayor and Local Official Statement on Global Warming. They are Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, Toledo Mayor Carleton Finkbeiner, Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, Portland (OR) Mayor Vera Katz, New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, and Miami-Dade County Clerk Harvey Ruvin.

    "Local leaders are realizing that global warming could represent a serious danger to their cities and counties. The good news is that local communities can reduce their contribution to the pollution that causes global warming," said Minneapolis Mayor Belton. "Policies that encourage energy efficiency, waste reduction and alternate transportation not only cut emissions, they save taxpayers money, cut traffic and improve air quality."

    * * *

    This project was organized with the help of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (510/540-8843), and Ozone Action (202/265-6738).


    Sample Press Release #2

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    CONTACT: Name, number

    Tuesday, August 24, 1999

    NEW RESEARCH FINDS GENETICALLY ENGINEERED INGREDIENTS IN COMMON FOODS; LARGEST U.S. CONSUMERS GROUP CALLS FOR LABELING

    Public Health Officials, Doctors Express Concern Over Long-Term Effects of Genetically Engineered Crops

    Tuesday, Aug. 24, 1999 - A survey of food items commonly found in your shopping cart, released Monday in Consumer Reports, found genetically engineered foods in products from powdered infant formulas to tortilla chips. These findings today prompted Consumers Union - the largest consumers organization in the U.S. - to recommend universal labeling of products containing genetically engineered (GE) foods.

    "The U.S. requires labeling orange juice 'from concentrate' and vegetables as 'frozen.' Ignoring 'genetically engineered' threatens to undermine public trust in a labeling system millions rely on every day," said Jean Halloran, director of the Consumer Policy Institute, a division of Consumers Union.

    The discovery of GE foods in so many products has sharpened concerns from scientists who worry about the long-term effects of GE crops. Some fear the process of genetic engineering may actually increase natural toxins or decrease nutrients in some foods, and that additives in GE foods could cause allergic reactions.

    The move by Consumers Union was applauded by some public health officials, doctors, scientists and environmentalists, who cite a growing list of concerns over GE foods.

    "No long-term studies of the impact of genetically modified foods on health, particularly the health and development of babies, the sick or elderly, have been done," said Dr. Martha Reed Herbert, pediatric neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "The promoters of this uncontrolled and profit-motivated experiment on people and nature have no scientific grounds for claiming these substances are safe."

    The Consumer Reports survey found genetically engineered ingredients in several powdered infant formulas, including Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula, Similac Isomil and Nestle Carnation Alsoy. A study released in June by Greenpeace also found GE ingredients in several baby and medical foods.

    Medical experts are calling for extensive testing of GE foods. "The US government has extensive tests for new drugs developed through biotechnology," said Dr. Paul Billings, a director of the Council for Responsible Genetics. "Biotech foods have the same properties, the same potential for adverse effects on health or the environment, but we don't test them. It's not responsible."

    Recent studies also reveal that GE ingredients may lessen the health benefits of certain foods. A study from the Center for Ethics and Toxics found that some GE soy had 12 to 14 percent lower levels of phytoestrogens, which are of proven value for cardiovascular health and are suspected cancer-fighters. "This is an essential component of a crop specifically recommended for its health benefits," said Marc Lappe, director of the center. "Consumers have a right to know if the nutritional value of their foods has been altered by genetic modification." Consumer Reports found GE soy in several soy burger products, including McDonald's McVeggie Burgers, Morningstar Farms Harvest Burgers and Boca Burger Chef.

    Consumer and environmental groups, including the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the Environmental Defense Fund and Friends of the Earth, called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to establish labels for genetically engineered foods in July. In a letter to President Clinton dated Aug. 18, the Sierra Club called for extensive testing, environmental assessment and labeling of genetically engineered products.

    The International Center for Technology Assessment has a lawsuit pending against the FDA, asking for mandatory labeling of GE ingredients and alleging the department ignored warnings about the potential hazards of GE foods. The group cited two federal laws that require labeling of food made with GE crops and internal FDA documents showing FDA departmental scientists are concerned about the safety of genetically engineered foods.

    The following experts are available for more information on the potential environmental or public health effects of genetically engineered foods:

    • Paul R. Billings M.D., Ph.D.
      Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director of the Heart of Texas Veteran's Integrated Service Network and Director, Council for Responsible Genetics
      Phone

    • Marc Lappe, Ph.D.
      Director, the Center for Ethics and Toxics
      Former head of the State of California's Hazard Evaluation System
      Phone

    • Martha Reed Herbert M.D., Ph.D.
      Instructor in Neurology, Harvard Medical School
      Pediatric Neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital
      Phone

    • Jean Halloran
      Director of the Consumer Policy Institute, a division of Consumers Union
      Phone

    For a complete copy of Consumer Reports' article or copies of the reports referenced above, contact: Name, number


    Sample Press Release #3

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    CONTACT: Name, phone

    May 13, 1999

    GORTON ADDS RIDER TO EMERGENCY KOSOVO BILL GRANTING SPECIAL EXEMPTION TO
    WASHINGTON MINE

    Conservationists and Community Leaders Call on President to Veto

    Washington, D.C. (May 13, 1999) - An anti-environmental rider sponsored by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) has been attached to an unrelated emergency appropriations bill. The rider grants a special favor to a mining company planning to open a cyanide-process gold mine in Senator Gorton's home state.

    The rider postponed, until the end of the 1999 fiscal year, implementation of a precedent-setting decision by the Interior and Agriculture Departments to protect public lands from illegal dumping of mine waste, a practice that has been allowed for many years by the government despite the fact that it violates the 1872 Mining Law. This decision is widely regarded as one of the most important environmental decision related to mining in the last century because it is one of the few provisions which protects the environment. The 1872 Mining Law has long been exploited by the industry to make windfall profits at the expense of taxpayers and the environment.

    "The taxpayers have been taken to the cleaners. This rider allows the mining industry to continue dumping massive piles of waste on our public land in clear violation of the law," said Steve D'Esposito, President of Mineral Policy Center. "The Clinton-Gore team should veto this bill. If Senator Gorton and the mining industry want to reform the mining law, they should do it through an open, public debate which examines the entire law, not just the part the industry doesn't like."

    The Emergency Appropriations Bill contains funding for victims of Hurricane Mitch as well as spending for military operations in Kosovo. Several riders, including Senator Gorton's, may prompt a Presidential veto. Still, the President would be under substantial pressure to sign bad legislation if hurricane relief and funding Kosovo spending were at stake.

    "This is the same mining company that got $65 million from taxpayers to not mine next to Yellowstone National Park," said Dave Kleigman from the Okanogan Highlands Alliance in Washington State. "Now Senator Gorton wants to give away $500 million in publically owned gold at no cost, and another 500 acres of publically owned land for an illegal mine waste dump."

    Under the 1872 Mining Law, the mining industry has extracted over $240 billion dollars of publicly-owned minerals without paying a penny to taxpayers while leaving taxpayers with a $32-to-$72 billion bill to clean up more than 500,000 abandoned mines. Twelve-thousand miles of rivers and streams and 180,000 acres of lakes are polluted by mining.


    Sample Press Release #4

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, October 6, 1999

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Name, phone

    STUDENTS NATIONWIDE SET PACE FOR "WALK OUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL" DAY

    Parents, Local Officials Step Out to Make Neighborhoods Pedestrian Friendly

    Washington, DC - Hundreds of schools nationwide will participate in "Walk Our Children To School" events today as part of an on-going effort to encourage daily walking and make communities more pedestrian friendly -- especially for young walkers.

    Established by the Partnership for Walkable America (PWA), the day aims to curb rising inactivity rates among young people by diminishing the growing trend of parents driving children everywhere.

    "The goal is not to create another one-day event, but rather to get parents thinking about how often they shuttle their kids just a short distance and to encourage them to try walking this distance with their children to gauge the safety of their neighborhood sidewalks," says PWA representative Mark Fenton, editor-at-large of WALKING Magazine. "We hope parents will use this day to discover what needs to be done to make neighborhoods safe for kids to walk every day - and then take action to make this a reality."

    Few Americans and far fewer children engage in the most basic form of travel: walking. Currently, only 10% of elementary and high school students walk to school, a 23% decrease from 1990. According to a 1996 Surgeon's General report, about 14% of young people report no recent physical activity.

    PWA attributes the low number of children who walk to school to sprawling, poorly planned communities with busy streets and unsafe walkways.

    "Kids aren't walking to school because parents feel their communities aren't safe," says Harold Thompson of the National Safety Council, a founding PWA member. According to Thompson, well-lit sidewalks and clearly marked street crossings are part of providing a safe route to school.

    Roughly 5,700 pedestrians are killed by automobiles every year and nearly 30,000 are injured. Of these, almost one-third are under age 15. To help parents gauge the walkability of their towns, PWA created a Walkable America Checklist. As parents walk to school with their children, they can survey what made walking inviting or difficult. The checklist offers suggestions for what can be done immediately to improve walking conditions and how to encourage long-term change.

    Last year, 170,000 walkers took to the sidewalks. This year, more than 1,000 schools will participate. Plans for the day include:

    • Silver Spring, Md. - Yesterday, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Ricardo Martinez joined students and parents to walk to Silver Spring Elementary School. McGruff the Crime Dog and Montgomery Country Police officers led the way.
    • Bronx, N. Y. - Elementary schools will create "walking school buses" whereby students, led by local officials, begin at one end of the route and walk toward the school "picking up" others along the way. "Passengers" will wear bright orange safety vests.
    • Los Angeles, Calif. - Over 300 events are planned citywide. City council members will walk with students, who will each receive a "Personal Walk Diary" to record how much they walk.
    Log on to www.hsrc.unc.edu/publicaware/walk to learn about these and other events nationwide. PWA is an alliance of public and private organizations and individuals committed to promoting a more walkable America. For more information, go to http://www.nsc.org/walkable.htm.


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    ©1999 Environmental Media Services