Environmental group co-founder talks about chemicals found in humans

CHAMPAIGN – If you make a dangerous chemical in a pesticide lab, 120 laws regulate your work.

Cross the hall and do it in a consumer products lab – 0 regulations, says Kenneth A. Cook, who co-founded the Environmental Working Group in 2002.

Organic blueberry yogurt recalled

Organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm has launched a voluntary recall of its organic fat-free blueberry yogurt in six-ounce cups coded with the following dates: April 13, 14 and 15 and April 25 and 26, 2008.

The recall is in response to consumer complaints of "tiny beads the size of mustard seeds" in these yogurt batches, according to Schnucks, one of the grocery chains accepting the yogurt cups back for refunds.

Residents turn in plenty of old pills

DANVILLE – About 500 Vermilion County residents turned in hundreds of bottles of old prescription pills this past week, enough to fill almost four 30-gallon cardboard drums. The medication will soon be picked up and eventually incinerated.

"All this stuff won't go into the river," said John Bodensteiner, pharmacist at Carle RX Express Pharmacy, 622 N. Gilbert St., Danville, which served as the dropoff site for this first-ever Vermilion County pharmaceutical collection. The collection's "been far beyond our expectations."

Ag Day 2008 scheduled for Thursday at DACC

DANVILLE – The public is invited to Ag Day 2008 at Danville Area Community College.

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday at the college campus, 2000 E. Main St.

Movement looking to ditch streams' many names

URBANA – You can't step in the same river twice, and for that matter, it might have a different name the next time you walk along its banks.

Same body of water, different maps: Upper Salt Fork, Upper Salt Fork Drainage District, Salt Fork, Salt Fork of the Vermilion River, Spoon River, Upper Salt Fork Ditch, Upper Salt Fork Drainage Ditch, Upper Salt Fork River.

Super Mario meets super computing in virtual environment

Until we all have Star Trek-like holodecks at home, there's not much economy of scale in manufacturing equipment for room-sized virtual environments like the CAVE and CUBE at the University of Illinois' Beckman Institute.

Which is why the specialized wireless handheld controller people used to reach into and navigate the virtual worlds projected in the rooms – on three sides in the case of the CAVE and completely surrounding them in the CUBE – cost $60,000.

Agency accepts your old drugs for safe disposal

DANVILLE – From Monday through Saturday, Vermilion County residents will have a more environmentally safe way of getting rid of their old prescription drugs, rather than throwing them away or flushing them.

The Vermilion County Recycling program and Carle Rx Express are collecting unused drugs for safe disposal. The event is sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Soil, water testing scheduled near Champaign site

CHAMPAIGN – Testing for soil and groundwater contamination is expected to begin later this month in the north Champaign neighborhood surrounding a former manufactured coal-gas plant owned by AmerenIP.

Testing could begin as soon as March 31, and will include 38 new soil borings, including 29 off-site, and drilling 10 new monitoring wells, nine of them off-site, according to Brian Martin, a consulting environmental scientist for Ameren.

Vermilion County Farm Bureau educating with place mats

DANVILLE – Visitors to many Vermilion County restaurants this week will be able to learn about agriculture while they eat.

The Vermilion County Farm Bureau is distributing more than 27,000 place mats to about 30 restaurants around the county as part of its celebration of National Agriculture Week, which is March 16-22.

Weak dollar, higher demand raise food prices

CHAMPAIGN – Area agricultural leaders say that a weakening U.S. dollar and more mouths to feed around the world – not ethanol plants – are largely responsible for the increased prices consumers are paying for food products.

"When you find yourself paying more money for a box of corn flakes at the grocery store, only a few pennies of that increase came from the price of corn," said former Illinois Farm Bureau President Ron Warfield of Gibson City.