Jun 24, 2004 (CIDRAP News) A substance that was smeared on dairy cows near Seattle, killing three and sickening seven others, was a chromium compound, but the episode did not endanger consumers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said late yesterday. Three of the cows later died, and Koopman said he dumped thousands of pounds of milk as a precaution, according to reports. It wasn’t clear exactly how many cows were exposed to the toxin, but the FDA said the number was fewer than 20. See also: The FDA said its Forensic Chemical Center in Cincinnati had been working on the case “around the clock” since Jun 20. The lab first analyzed residues of the substance found on the cows and identified it as a chromium compound. Koopman estimated that he had lost $17,000 to $20,000 since he discovered the toxin, according to the Post-Intelligencer story. He said the three cows that died were worth $2,000 each, and he was unable to sell at least 100,000 pounds of milk. The other seven cows have recovered but still weren’t giving milk, he said. The FDA called the substance “a strong oxidizing chromium compound” but did not identify it more specifically. Tests revealed “no identifiable risk from this agent associated with milk from any of the exposed cows,” the agency said. The FDA said no milk from the sick cows entered the food supply. Some milk from healthy animals in the herd was voluntarily held pending the test results, but FDA officials in Seattle yesterday were advising firms that they could release the milk, the agency said. The FDA said it tested for chromium in milk from the sick cows, milk from cows that were exposed to the agent but didn’t get sick, and milk from unexposed cows. “Concentrations of chromium in all samples of milk from dairy cattle directly exposed to and made ill by the toxic substance were well below the level of 100 parts per billion allowed for drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency,” the agency said. The FDA announced Jun 21 that it and several other agencies were investigating the incident at a dairy farm in Enumclaw, Wash., about 50 miles southeast of Seattle. Dairy farmer John Koopman reported that 10 cows got sick on Jun 6, and all had a reddish-black substance and blisters on their backs, according to stories this week in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times. A report by the Post-Intelligencer today quoted an unnamed federal investigator as saying the compound contained “chromium 6a known carcinogen with a variety of pharmaceutical and industrial uses.” The story also quoted James Mayer, a University of Washington chemistry professor, as saying that chromium 6 compounds are “corrosive, aggressive chemicals” that are used in industry but not in any household products. Jun 23 FDA news releasehttp://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2004/ucm108315.htm Jun 21 FDA news releasehttp://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2004/ucm108313.htm On May 4, vandals hit two trucking companies that haul milk for WestFarm Foods, according to a Post-Intelligencer report. The vandals opened valves and removed plastic covers on tanker trucks, resulting in the loss of 600,000 pounds of milk, and also punctured truck tires, the story said. A union official denied any knowledge of the attacks and said the union didn’t condone them. In a Times story yesterday, Seattle FBI agent Patrick Adams was quoted as saying there was no evidence of any link to terrorism in the case. He said the agency was looking at former employees or anyone else who might have held a grudge against Koopman. Newspaper reports said there was speculation that the episode could be linked to a recently resolved labor dispute between West Farm Foods, the marketing arm of the Northwest Dairy Association, and the Teamsters Union. Koopman is a member of the association’s board. The lengthy dispute was settled May 26. “Chromium levels in all milk samples tested from the cows that came into contact with the toxic substance but did not become ill were below the minimum detection level of less than 1 part per billion,” the statement said. In addition, the milk would have been diluted by a factor of 5,000 to 50,000 when mixed with milk from other farms before processing, officials said.
“Thus pension funds operating schemes that are subject to VAT – eg defined benefit schemes – may expect a reduction in fees.”Northern Ireland scheme begins shift out of equitiesNorthern Ireland’s local government pension scheme (LGPS) posted a 21.7% investment return in the 12 months to 30 March, according to its annual report.The Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC) reported that the pension fund grew to more than £7bn by the end of March.During the year, NILGOSC appointed Unigestion to a £327m global equity mandate and allocated £100m to the M&G UK Residential Property fund.“This latter commitment forms part of NILGOSC’s medium-term strategy to reduce reliance on global equity markets and diversify its returns by investing in assets that provide longer term, stable and inflation-linked cashflows,” the pension fund said.As part of the move to reduce equity exposure, NILGOSC initiated the sale of £175m of UK equities, crystallising gains. It also put in place a 50% hedge of its US dollar exposure.The fund increased its exposure to infrastructure to 1% of the portfolio during the 2016-17 period. The investment was made through a collaborative venture with the Lothian Pension Fund in Scotland, and included a £10m co-investment.NILGOSC said: “The underlying principle behind this collaboration on alternative investments is to identify assets that are in the mutual interest of investors and their stakeholders, specifically through the benefits of scale and improved commercial terms.“It is intended that this co-investment strategy will sit alongside the core primary infrastructure funds to help NILGOSC build a diversified portfolio of assets in line with its strategic allocation to the asset class.”Isle of Man public sector liabilities rocket by 28%The Isle of Man’s public sector pension liabilities increased by more than a quarter in the 2016-17 financial year, according to an actuarial report.The report by Hymans Robertson said that combined liabilities for five local government schemes grew from just under £3bn to £3.8bn, an increase of 27.8%.The schemes are largely unfunded, with benefits being paid from government accounts and a small reserve fund, worth £82.4m at the end of March.Earlier this year, unions approved a plan to increase contributions to the largest of the island’s public sector funds, the Government Unified Pension Scheme. In March this year contributions rose by 2.5 percentage points to 7.5%, while benefits were reduced by 6%.The five schemes cater for more than 20,000 active, deferred and pensioner members. UK-based asset managers face a £40m (€44.7m) annual tax bill as a result of investment research cost unbundling, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).The OBR – set up in 2010 to provide an independent review of the government’s fiscal policies – said the effect of MiFID II rules would cause investment research to be subject to VAT.Last month, EY senior manager Jochum Zutt said defined benefit schemes could make a saving on investment costs due to the tax change.He said: “The costs incurred throughout the supply chain would reduce as a result of the research being taxable. This is because the broker providing research to this investment manager would be slightly better off compared to the current position, as it would be entitled to recover VAT associated with the research.
James Farmer QC, LL.M (Hons) Auckland, Ph. D CambridgeAlso published in LawNews Issue 14, 14 May 2020Family First Comment: Excellent commentary and analysis from a Lawyer (published in the latest LawNews of the Auckland District Law Society) who has examined the proposed cannabis legislation in detail – and highlights “the inherent contradictions of the bill and its failure to achieve its stated goal of reducing harm from cannabis use by allowing adults to cultivate and use cannabis without legal sanction”. James Farmer QC concludes:“No doubt the middle classes who fashionably use cannabis for their recreation will happily bear the extra costs of, and enjoy the greater access, to their habit and also be relieved that their reputations are no longer at risk from prosecution. The harm that is being done with the growth of the cannabis, meth and heroin markets elsewhere is to them someone else’s problem.”Read this excellent article. What does the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill (to be voted for or against in the Referendum) provide?My previous paper on cannabis legalisation http://www.jamesfarmerqc.co.nz/legal-commentary/the-forthcoming-referendum-on-the-growing-and-supply-of-cannabis-for-personal-recreational-useThe inherent contradictions of the Bill and its failure to achieve its stated goal of reducing harm from cannabis use by allowing adults to cultivate and use cannabis without legal sanctionThis Bill does not absolutely legalise cannabis. It does so only in the limited sense that it allows adults to cultivate limited amounts of cannabis for their own use under strict conditions including limiting consumption to their own homes and to special cannabis cafes. It also permits and regulates cannabis production, wholesale distribution and licensed specialist cannabis retail outlets. Further, it controls price, quantity sold and potency and imposes excise tax and a levy intended to fund services “that will assist in reducing the harm caused by cannabis use”. In short, the more cannabis that is sold and used, the more money that will be raised to apply in measures to reduce the harm that is being caused.There is a very long list of offences, which can lead to prosecution and conviction with a fine or in some cases imprisonment, in the Bill. These include: home-growing more than permitted (fine or imprisonment if more than 10 plants: cl. 24), possessing more than 14 grams in a public place or in a vehicle (cl.29), supplying or purchasing more than 14 grams per day (cls.31, 36), possessing cannabis under the age of 20 (cl. 32), supplying or offering to supply a person under the age of 20 (cl. 35), selling to a person under the age of 20 (fine or imprisonment: cl. 38), consuming cannabis in a public place or in a vehicle (cl. 37), selling cannabis without a license (fine or imprisonment: cl. 39), supplying by mail or courier (cl. 40), importing or exporting (fine or imprisonment: cl. 41), exposing a person under 20 to cannabis emissions or vaping (cl. 43).One very serious anomaly is that this Bill, if enacted, will emasculate the very beneficial provision that was enacted in August last year referred to above, namely section 7(5)(6) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. That provision applies to all drug offences, affirms prosecutorial discretion and directs that a prosecution should not be brought for possession or use unless it is in the public interest to do so. In that respect, consideration must be given “to whether a health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial to the public interest”. Clearly, given the option of prosecution or voluntary submission to counselling, medical or other therapeutic assistance, most if not all offenders who are apprehended will take the latter. That is what is envisaged also in the Bill in the case of youth offenders who are subject to an infringement fee or fine but will be waived if the offender engages with a support service.Under the Bill, however, it will no longer be an offence for an adult to possess or use cannabis (within the allowable limits) and so there will be no ability to incentivise a user to seek health or therapeutic assistance to deal with what may well be harmful effects from regular cannabis use or addiction. In its campaign for the Bill to be supported at the referendum, the Green Party seems to have overlooked the fact that, if passed, the Bill will be destroying the benefit that section 7(5)(6) of the 2019 amendment achieved when it was enacted last year, an enactment which its spokesperson described at the time as “a triumph for compassion and a triumph for common sense”.So will this Bill, if it passes the referendum hurdle and is enacted, achieve its other main objective claimed by its supporters – the elimination of the Black Market and, with it, a safer drug for those desperate for that form of recreation? I refer above to the American experience which has been that the drug lords have simply switched cultivation and supply to a more potent and cheaper drug that undercuts the price of regulated and lawful marijuana with the result of a substantial increase in deaths from drug use. In New Zealand, it will not be difficult for meth manufacturers and sellers to do the same. Cannabis will be subject to regulatory costs, to excise tax, to the levy and then income tax that licensed growers, distributors and retailers are not able to avoid. The meth and heroin markets do not have regulatory, excise or other tax costs. Nor do illegal cannabis suppliers who will have little difficulty in undercutting the regulated product and increasing its THC potency beyond the regulated limit for those who want a bigger kick.That has been the Canadian experience to date. Those who cite Canada as a success reform story should read the following recent account of the Canadian experience from The Guardian:https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/apr/05/stoners-cheered-when-canada-legalised-cannabis-how-did-it-all-go-wrongThe journalist who researched and wrote this piece said: “… all drug [reform] laws are unworkable, illogical, unjustifiable, unscientific, counterproductive and generate unintended consequences – in fact, drug laws often create the exact opposite outcome to those desired.”There is another perspective of the relationship between legally and regulated produced and sold cannabis and black market cannabis which, once stated, is obvious. The point was made by Patrick Cockburn, who refers to the body of scientific research that establishes a firm link between cannabis use and the onset of schizophrenia (as to which see also the Judgment of Jagose J in The Queen v. Brackenridge  NZHC 1004), and then says (https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/cannabis-legalisation-psychosis-billy-caldwell-william-hague-schizophrenia-a8410581.html):“…legal restrictions alone will not stop … people who take cannabis from going on doing so. But the legalisation of cannabis legitimises it and says a message that the government views it as relatively harmless.”And on the subject of the legislating to eliminate the black market, he says:“The legalisation of cannabis might take its production and sale out of the hands of criminal gangs – [as stated above, I would suggest not entirely] – but it would be put into the hands of commercial companies who want to make a profit … and increase the number of their customers. Commercialisation of cannabis has as many dangers as criminalisation.”Drs Robin Murray and Wayne Hall have recently researched the increase in the use of cannabis in those States in America that have legalised cannabis and found that the risk of dependence among those who use cannabis was estimated at 9% in the 1990s but is now closer to 30% with attendant increases in such harmful effects as cognitive impairment and effects on the unborn child by women who use it to combat nausea. They also refer to some evidence of increased risks of depression and suicide but then say that “by far the strongest evidence concerns psychosis [including] an increased risk of later schizophrenia-like psychosis”: Will Legalization and Commercialization of Cannabis Use Increase the Incidence and Prevalence of Psychosis, (American Medical Association, JAMA Psychiatry, 8 April 2020).No doubt the middle classes who fashionably use cannabis for their recreation will happily bear the extra costs of, and enjoy the greater access, to their habit and also be relieved that their reputations are no longer at risk from prosecution. The harm that is being done with the growth of the cannabis, meth and heroin markets elsewhere is to them someone else’s problem.James Farmer QCREAD MORE: http://www.jamesfarmerqc.co.nz/legal-commentary/will-the-proposed-cannabis-legislation-achieve-its-overarching-objective-of-reducing-the-harms-assoc