Pills and powders claiming to boost weight loss, energy, or sexual performance — available to customers of all ages on drugstore shelves — face little government oversight of their safety and efficacy. Because of legislation passed in 1994, the Food and Drug Administration has been unable to demand testing before a dietary supplement is brought to market or to stop companies from making unproven claims, according to a Jan. 29 Boston Globe column. Young people are especially vulnerable to the marketing of these products.“We have young people growing up believing the way they appear physically is their defining feature,” Bryn Austin, professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and director of STRIPED (Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders) at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told the Globe. “That sets them up for escalating weight control methods, and for any kind of pill or potion they can find that will keep them from gaining weight.”A recent study led by Austin found that use of diet pills increases the risk of eating disorders in young women. She and her colleagues also found that consumption of dietary supplements for weight loss, muscle building, and energy was associated with increased risk for severe medical events in children and young adults compared to consumption of vitamins. Read Full Story
By Dan RahnUniversity of GeorgiaLast year’s devastating hurricanes are hitting Vidalia onionsnow. The effect is troublesome at the moment, but the potentialfor Georgia growers is scary.”We’re still planting a few onions,” said Reid Torrance, theUniversity of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator inTattnall County and an area onion agent. “The primary reason isthat so much of our labor force has gone to Florida and Louisianacleaning up behind hurricanes.”Vidalia onion planting is behind schedule in Tattnall County. Andfarmers there grow more of the sweet, specialty onions than inany other county in the official growing region.Labor crews that normally have 40 workers are showing up with 15or so. “And when heavy rains come through and everything comes toa standstill for a while, we tend to lose more of our laborforce,” he said.The real problemThe labor shortage isn’t a big problem — for now. “We don’t mindhaving to plant a few onions in January,” Torrance said. “Somegrowers are helping their neighbors finish up. We’re doing OK.”The real concern, he said, “is if we have a labor shortage laterthis spring.” That would be a vastly more serious problem. TheVidalia onion harvest starts in just three months.”We will not be through cleaning up after hurricanes in threemonths,” Torrance said. “And with Vidalia onions, when it’s timeto go, we have to go. We have to get those onions out of thefields and out of the weather.”Harvested and stored properly, Vidalia onions have a fairly longshelf life for consumers. But for farmers, the window forharvesting and processing the sweet onion crop is small.”We have tended not to maximize the potential of mechanicalharvesting,” Torrance said.Machines?Some onion growers have mechanical harvesters. But for a numberof reasons, as long as the labor is here, they prefer to harvestby hand. “Some are looking harder at mechanical harvesting now,though,” he said.Some growers, he said, contract for laborers through the H-2Aprogram, a process, run by the U.S. Department of Labor, ofsecuring farm workers from other countries. These growers’ laborcosts more, but the contracts leave them in a good position in alabor-shortage year like this one.A slight shortage of transplants has delayed planting a bit, too.”We really didn’t produce the volume of plants that we thought wehad,” he said. But the transplants aren’t a problem. Many Georgiagrowers have additional plants grown on contract in Arizona andTexas.Crop looks goodFor the moment, the season’s Vidalia onion crop is looking good,Torrance said. Growing conditions have been favorable, and mostfields have good stands of onions that are growing well. Somefields, however, show signs of two viruses that are relativenewcomers to the Georgia crop.The tomato spotted wilt and iris yellow spot viruses were firstdetected in Vidalia onions in 2004. Torrance and other UGAExtension agents and scientists are helping growers identifyinfected plants. So far, the viruses haven’t caused any yield orquality losses in Vidalia onions.”We continue to be concerned about these viruses,” Torrance said,”because they’re here and we know how much they’ve hurt otherareas. So far, though, our losses have been minimal. We hope itstays that way.”(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
The London Borough of Hillingdon Pension Fund has hired Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) to oversee a £215m (€238m) index-tracking mandate.The local authority fund, which had £810m, hired LGIM to replace State Street Global Advisors, first appointed in late 2008.According to its most recent annual report, from March 2015, SSgA’s mandate for Hillingdon was worth £161m, equivalent to 20% of scheme assets.Philip Corthorne, chair of the fund’s pensions committee, cited a desire to cut management costs when describing the reasons for LGIM’s hire. “We have chosen LGIM because of its expertise in index-tracking fund management and its broad range of cost-effective pooled funds, which will enable us to take a step closer towards the government’s pooling agenda, with management and reporting of the mandate to eventually be carried out by the pool.”LGIM was among the first managers hired by the London CIV, the pooling vehicle for London’s local authority funds, and was set to manage a number of passive equity sub-funds.The manager is the largest single manager of local authority assets, overseeing £44bn, a figure significantly boosted after it won a £6.5bn passive mandate from seven pension funds in late 2015.