Archive for category Green Discussion

Against Genetically Modified Foods


Against Genetically Modified Foods

Genetically modified (GM) foods are not being found to be safe for humans, or for the environment. There are a number of reasons why there a growing number of people are against GM foods. Are Genetically Modified Foods Safe? The reason to resist the growth of GM food in our diet is that it has a negative impact on our environment; plants and animals grown organically are not distorting their genetic makeup.

And in the rush to accelerate the production of genetically modified foods, scientists are short cutting testing methods. Recently, the United States Tufts University, School of Medicine was involved in testing the effects of genetically modified rice directly on children (by-passing the usual practice of testing on animals). This direct testing on children created controversy and a formal letter of protest from 22 international scientists to the University; the protest letter has been made public through various social media. 
 
The letter protested the use of children as a breach of medical ethics code since children cannot legally give their consent (since it is not deemed to be informed consent) to participate in experiments. As Professor David Schubert, Salk Institute of Biological Studies said, “…it is completely immoral to feed this rice to children without proper safety testing … [i]t’s like putting a new drug on the market with no toxicology or safety trials”.
 
In defense of their position, the Golden Rice Organization issued a press release that states they “…us[ed] the correct Chinese and US government approved processes, the trials in China went ahead last year with the formal approval of their parents and the understanding of the children”.   How do children understand the impact of genetically modified food on themselves or the environment? It’s a complex subject that many adults have a hard time understanding. Also, how can anyone (parents, children, or testing scientists) understand what the long term effects of genetically modified “golden rice” are on the human body without prior study or testing? 
 
More importantly, will the overall risks of genetically modified foods over time out weigh the alleged benefits? Farmers have cross-bred plants and animals for hundreds of years to improve their products. Improvements to size, produce yield, taste, hardiness have been achieved through relatively natural means and within nature’s own boundaries; different species were not bred together.
 
With the discovery of DNA and a method of gene extraction, the concept of genetic modification was born. The intent of genetic modification is to create food that grows quickly, yields much, is resistant to pests, to disease, and to other natural events. However a number of scientists respond that the benefits are not worth the risks; genetically modified foods often become resistant to herbicides and pesticides requiring ever increasing amounts. There is the suspicion (still unproven) that pollinating bees have been affected by the increasing use of these chemicals and that both pollinator and predator species have been affected by the genetically modified crops (also known as transgenic crops) through habitat destruction and use of dangerous herbicides and pesticides. 
 
Since the introduction of genetically modified foods, some scientists are reporting that food-related illness has increased. The only published human feeding study confirmed that genetic material in genetically modified soy transferred into the DNA of intestinal bacteria and continued to function. What long term impact will these foods have on the population and the environment?  There are many more potential risks in the development of genetically modified foods. Animals that were fed genetically modified feed appeared to suffer from increases in fetal death, low birth weight, sterility, and more. The concern is that human reproductive failure and sterility or infertility will be long term consequences to using GM foods.
 
In the US, the Department of Agriculture reports that cotton and corn crops have been genetically modified to produce their own Bt toxins since 1996. Bt modified crops are insecticidal crystal proteins and are considered effective against crop-damaging caterpillars. The toxins are considered important for pest control and since resistance to herbicides and pesticides is growing, the sentiment is that these genetically engineered Bt toxins will help to protect the crops. The issue with the GM Bt toxins is that they are considered serious allergens; ever wonder why so many more children and adults are exhibiting allergic reactions than ever before?
 

The problem with genetically modified foods is that there is also a reaction for the action; unfortunately, globally, in our rush to grow food supplies, we have not taken the time to properly test and research the long term impacts and effects of genetically modified foods. It is easy to be against GM foods – our planet is at risk.

To read more about genetically modified foods and the healthy alternative – organic foods, please visit Is Organic Food Better?
Kris Bovay is the owner of Voice Marketing Inc, the business and marketing services company, with a difference. She is also the owner of a small business website, more-for-small-business.com and an organic food website, Organic Food For Everyone. Kris has 25 years of experience in leading large, medium and small businesses … and a life-long passion for healthy food and a healthy environment. Copyright 2008 – 2009 Voice Marketing Inc.

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Scientists Ask For Higher CO2 Cuts at Copenhagen’s Spring


Scientists Ask For Higher CO2 Cuts at Copenhagen’s Spring

The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change was held in Copenhagen between 10th to 12th March and organised by the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU): the conclusions will be published into a full synthesis report next June. Almost 1,600 scientific contributions of researchers from over 70 countries have been received, and more than 2,500 delegates attended the event.

Connie Hedegaard, Minister of Climate & Energy of Denmark said that we have “to avoid the unmanageable and manage the unavoidable” and she pointed to their example: this European country has become a net energy exporter in 30 years, creating a green growth as a stable solution of the 70s oil crisis. The messages of the congress are various. The risk that current trends of the climatic system will accelerate has a more defined and significant meaning: more probable abrupt and irreversible shifts, and we are already above the worst scenarios published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001. Thus the big problem is trying to at least slow down these trends if not reverse them. The experts tell us that fast regional and global mitigation strategies are needed and that the more we wait the more expensive and ambitious actions will have to be taken in the future. The fact that scientists have come to the point of saying that “Inaction is Inexcusable” means also that people who studied relentlessly for decades are frustrated by the inaction of governments, businesses and people: it is understandable given that their work has not been considered and used enough, if not at all, up to now. They are speaking louder and clearer now. The different roles of politicians and scientists have to be combined. It is time for leaders to rely firmly on science as a basis for tough and unavoidable decisions. A “societal transformation” is being asked for by a wide group of the most intelligent people on the planet including diffusion of sustainable behaviours, innovative leadership, removal of subsidies and reduction of “vested interests”. These are all very explicit messages to politicians and public alike: there is a lot of work to do between now and next December’s COP15.

In the final debate the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, summarised the six messages given by scientists as 6 keywords: Urgency (of the climate change challenge), Direction (long term target to be defined), Action (short term targets to be set), Fairness (to the poorest and most vulnerable), Opportunity (to originate large benefits), Governance (creation of a new global multilateral era). He stated firmly that “Business As Usual is dead” and asked his colleagues to follow Obama’s call for a Green New Deal, already asked for by public opinion and by many political parties in the world.

After the final debate with the panel of scientists an impatient Rasmussen asked for clear words on the CO2 emission target to be set in the new treaty. Prof. Daniel Kammen, Obama’s Senior Policy Advisor, stated that an entire new industrial revolution is needed to cut 1990’s CO2 emissions by 80% in 2050 and Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf agreed on this point. The feeling was that the other panelists didn’t mind… At this point the Prime Minister concluded that the ambition for COP15 can be this -80% long-term objective following the precautionary principle to avoid worse impacts (than the ones presented in 2007 IPCC report) already hypothesized by new works. Overall a more direct communication between scientists and policy makers took place in this huge meeting: now it’s time for delegations to study and prepare the ground for brave steps forward to be made by the international community in Copenhagen’s crucial Conference of the Parties #15. Will we be able to navigate better our “ship” in the solar system during the over 200 rotations it will make before then?

Written by Luca Marazzi on behalf of Responding to Climate Change.

For further information on Climate Change please visit the Responding to Climate Change website –
http://www.rtcc.org

*Next event: Copenhagen, 24-26 May 2009. World Business Summit on Climate Change

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News Of Peletex Story


Antarctic Peninsula Climate

Antarctic Peninsula has been experiencing warming trends for over 40 years with an increase of 2-3 C, thus correlating with lower sea ice conditions in the Amundsen Sea and Bellinghausen Sea. Warming temperatures around the Antarctic Peninsula is changing the dynamics of the ecosystem. The rise in atmospheric temperature is causing increasing in melting of freshwater glaciers and ice shelves. Fresh water emerging into the sea counteracts the salinity within a regional area. Changes identified are;

• Decrease in sea water salinity up to 60 miles offshore
• Lower sea ice
• Decreased krill population
• Increased salp (open ocean tunicate that is reminiscent of a jelly-fish) population
• Increase in cryptophytes (single cell phytoplankton algae)
• Decrease in diatom phytoplankton
• Increase in carbon sequestering in deep ocean sinks
• Decrease in carbon availability in the food chain

The Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba), a small shrimp like crustacean is the most important zooplankton species associated with the sea ice and plays a crucial role in the Antarctic food web. On a regional basis the amount of krill appear to be declining in the southern ocean. There are definitely lower trends in krill population during lower sea ice years around Antarctica. Part of the rational for the population decline is that ice algae rely on the sea ice for protection and growth. The krill need the sea ice in order to feed on the algae and phytoplankton.

Krill occur in groups or large swarms. They are less than 3 inches in size and feed primarily on phytoplankton and sea ice algae. Krill filter diatom phytoplankton out of the water column and scrape algae from the sea ice. Apart from frequenting the sea ice to feed, krill in particular juveniles, seek protection from predators in the many nooks and crannies formed by the deformed sea ice floes. Krill is the staple food of many fish, birds and mammals in the Southern Ocean. The biomass of Antarctic krill is considered to be larger than that of the earth’s human population.

Sea- ice algae utilizes atmospheric carbon dioxide for its energy source, the same as plants do on land. Krill diet of the sea-ice algae and phytoplankton is essential for converting the carbon for use in higher animals such as fish, birds, and whales. This carbon conversion is a very critical role in predatory nutrition. Additionally krill do eliminate some of the silica from the diatom shells and carbon in sticky balls that sinks nearly two miles into the deep ocean. These cold, deep waters are able to contain carbon dioxide and prevent the gas from rising to the surface, thus immobilizing carbon that is not passed into the food chain.

In recent years there have been increases in algae phytoplankton called cryptophytes. Mark Moline, California Polytechnic State University, states that the cryptophyte population correlates with warmer temperatures and lower salinity waters that are produced by the melting of the freshwater glacier. Cryptophytes measure around 2 mm, while other plankton in the Antarctic waters are much larger and measure 15 to 270 mm. Along with the increase in cryptophyte population an increase in salp, a pelagic tunicate, population has also occurred. There are differences between salps and krill. Salps feeding efficiency is capable of grazing on smaller food sources less than 4mm, whereas, the Antarctic Krill efficiency declines on any food less than 20 mm. The salps compete with krill for the phytoplankton and thus decrease the krill population. Additionally the salps feed on krill larvae, which also cause a decline in krill numbers.

The warming trend in the Antarctic Peninsula is showing a pattern of increasing cryptophytes over other phytoplankton and the increase in the salp. This influence is due to the low sea ice and the lowering of the salinity in the seawater. Salps and cryptophytes do better in the lower salinity, while the krill and other plankton are unable to tolerate the increased freshwater regime from the glacier ice melts. This selectivity gives preference to the salps as the dominant species while decreasing krill abundance. During lower sea ice seasons the density of krill declines while the salp population increases.

Carbon sequestering into the deep ocean from the algae and phytoplankton occur by both the salp and krill. Both species eliminate the atmospheric carbon received from the primary producing algae by producing fecal pellets by the salps and sticky balls by the krill, thereby, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The salps though sequester more carbon into the cold deep ocean than the krill. However, the krill provides the most efficient pathway for carbon transfer up into the food chain. The cryptophyte dominated waters are less efficient in the food chain due to increased feeding by salps and the difficulty of the krill to utilize the cryptophytes as a food source. Migration patterns by penguins are changing, in part due to the changing krill population. Krill is a mainstay diet for penguins, and if the krill population changes, many other ecological changes occur with it.

Steve Bynum has worked at Palmer Station along the Antarctic Peninsula. He not only enjoyed the ecosystem along the Bellinghausen Sea but he has also witnessed the changing climate conditions.

Join Steve at http://www.climatechangenewsletters.com as we take a journey to discover the warming and cooling effects of our planet.

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Green Tech


To Living a Greener Life – 5 Steps

Lots of people talk about trying to live a greener life, with some even going so far as to completely change their lifestyle, but most people aren’t sure how to go green because they don’t know exactly what that means. Sure, most people know the basics that scratch the surface such as reusing, recycling and reducing the amount of waste output for their homes but there many other steps you can take to move towards a cleaner, greener environment.

If you’re wondering how you can make your life greener, here are five different tips that are simple and easy to implement and that don’t cost the you anything.  All it takes is a little dedication and after a few months, these five little things will become second-nature to you.

1. The next time you go shopping use cloth bags at the grocery store instead of paper or plastic.  These cloth bags can be purchased for as little as a few dollars each and they’re much stronger than paper or plastic bags and will last you through years of use. 

These bags help reduce waste since most people throw away the plastic and paper bags.  The hardest part of using cloth bags is remembering to take them to the store, but once you get in the habit of using them, it becomes unconscious habit.

2. Replace your standard light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.  These bulbs use less energy and last for four to five years, almost 15 times longer than traditional bulbs.  While the cost of a compact fluorescent bulb is more than your standard bulb, they easily pay for themselves over time requiring less frequent replacement and reduced energy consumption.  In fact, studies show that a CF bulb can actually pay for itself within one to two months.  One CF bulb also saves about five pounds of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide a month.  Replacing every bulb in your home can have a huge impact on the environment and on your wallet.

3. Use public transportation.  By car pooling, taking the bus, or using the subway you can cut down on the amount of gas you use and the amount of exhaust your car emits.  While it may be an inconvenience in some ways, it is one of the best ways of helping the environment.  Even better, walk or ride your bike to work if possible.  This not only saves you money and helps the environment but it also keeps you fit and healthy!

4. Adjust your thermostat by a few degrees.  By turning your thermostat down by just two degrees in the winter, you can save over 50 pounds of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide per month while lowering your heating bill.  Turning it up a few degrees in the summer can likewise save you money and save the environment. 

5. Finally, only wash your clothes or run your dish washer when you have a full load.  It wastes water and electricity to wash and dry only a few pieces of clothing.  In fact, if you can, try to wash your clothes using the cold water cycle as it uses up to 50% less energy than a warm water one. 

By just doing these basics not only you can save some serious money but you can rest assured that you’re doing your part for a cleaner, brighter future. To discover more ideas you can use around your home for living green visit http://www.greentipsforyou.com!


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Green Reuse Tip It


Green Reuse Tip It

It is good practice to reuse as much as you can. It will prevent waste and for plastic items help keep them out of dumps!

Items you can Reuse at least once:

* water bottles. as long as you keep them clean, you can reuse them several times. It will save you money just to refill the bottle with tap. refrigerate it and you are good to go.

* newspaper. you can use old newspapers to clean your windows and mirrors, as shelf liners and more. reusing newspapers can really help save on paper purchases, thus saving trees!

* donate or free-cycle. items like clothes, toys, books…almost anything can be donated or given away instead of tossed. just make sure it is clean and in decent condition.

* make compost. use your unused natural food items to make compost.

* batteries. stop buying one time use batteries and only purchase rechargeable ones.

* refillable. buy condiments, shampoos and the like in large containers and refill smaller user-friendly container for it. This will help you buy less bottles and use less plastic!

* bags. stop using paper and plastic bags. buy canvas bags and reuse them over and over again.

* paper. any time your printer messes up or you make an error when using paper, let your kids use it to color on. or, you can use it as scrap.

* clothing. use old socks, t-shits and cloth materials as rags, to clean the car or to dust with.

* egg cartons. these can be reused for arts and crafts, paint holders, taco items, or even to organize jewelry or small items.

* plastic milk jugs. these can be used for pots for plants or even to water them.

* cardboard boxes. go to a fun place with your kids that has a hill and have a summer sledding competition! cut large squares and use the cardboard as your “sleigh.”

As you can see, there are many many ways that you can reuse items you use everyday. Be creative and brainstorm about how you can make the most of everything and be a good steward to God’s planet!

Copyright © Green Christian Network, All Rights Reserved

About the Author: Cindy Taylor is a Christian stay at home Mom who love the Lord and cares about God’s planet. You can see her passion and writing at her website, Green Christian Network (http://greenchristiannetwork.com).

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