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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 35,773

Journal Archives

Organic Pesticides. Yes, They Do Exist, And Are Used.



Of course, there is no discussion about the absolute level of the pesticides, and the fact that such levels are insignificant and pose no known risk. But there is a deeper deception in this video and many studies looking at the difference in pesticide exposure between conventional and organic produce. They are only testing for pesticides not used by organic farmers. They are not testing for pesticides that are used in organic farming.

The game, therefore, is completely rigged, and the outcome is assured. If they tested only for organic pesticides the results would be flipped.


The fact is that the use of pesticides are allowed in organic farming, mostly derived from natural sources but also some synthetic chemical deemed “essential.” There is no apriori reason to assume that chemical pesticides derived from natural sources are safer or better for the environment that synthetic ones.


I am also not arguing for the overuse or simplistic use of pesticides as an easy solution. The consensus seems to be for integrated pest management. There are also some techniques favored by organic farmers which can help reduce reliance on pesticides. Whatever works is good, but we should follow the evidence, not ideology."


Just a little perspective.

How many MLS supporters are on DU?

Buck up folks. Don't be intimidated.



"A new study shows that the world could wean itself off of fossil fuels within the next ten years. The right mix of measures would have to be put in place for that to happen, University of Sussex researchers say, but it should be possible if government leaders commit to it.

Last year, leaders of G7 industrial nations reached an agreement to phase out fossil fuels by 2100. But it could be done in a fraction of the time with a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort, says Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex.

In a study published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science, Sovacool analyzed immense energy transitions in the past and compared them with successful energy revolutions that have occurred in recent modern history.

He states that the shift from wood to coal in Europe took between 96 and 160 years. Mainstream adoption of electricity, meanwhile, took 47 to 69 years.



I am more cynical about this than the fact that I posted it might indicate. Still, discussion is worthy.



"Birds that live in urban areas are better at figuring out how to access new sources of food compared to rural birds of the same species, says a new study. City birds also show stronger immune responses than their country cousins, perhaps because urban life brings them into contact with a wider array of pathogens.

The study is part of a larger body of research exploring what characteristics enable species to thrive in human-dominated landscapes. Scientists reason that in the urban wild, birds have to be opportunistic, flexible, and innovative to take advantage of food sources provided (deliberately or not) by people. And they have to be willing to tolerate the noise and hubbub of people and traffic in cities.

To test these predictions, researchers from McGill University captured 50 Barbados bullfinches (Loxigilla barbadensis) and brought them back to the laboratory for behavioral and physiological tests. This species does well in both wild and developed parts of Barbados, and the researchers captured birds from eight different sites representing a rural-to-urban gradient on the Caribbean island.

Urban Barbados bullfinches have a stronger reaction than do rural ones to an injection of a compound called phytohemagglutinin, the researchers reported recently in Behavioral Ecology. This is a standard test of immune function and suggests that the urban birds have more robust immune responses, a finding in line with other studies.



Berry birdy interesting.

Female suicide bomber wounds 13 in Turkish city of Bursa

Source: Reuters

A female suicide bomber wounded at least 13 people when she blew herself up near the main mosque in the northwestern Turkish city of Bursa on Wednesday, officials said, the fifth suicide bombing in a major urban centre this year.

Photographs from the scene showed the severed torso of what appeared to be the bomber lying at the side of the mosque. Police ushered dazed passers-by out of surrounding streets as ambulances and forensics teams arrived.

The local governor's office said the woman was thought to have detonated a device she was wearing at 5:26 pm (1426 GMT) near the western gate of Bursa's Grand Mosque. Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said 13 people were injured, none critically.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Read more: http://in.reuters.com/article/turkey-blast-idINKCN0XO1U6

Ford recalls 202,000 vehicles for transmission issue

Source: MLive

Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it's issuing five safety recalls covering about 285,000 vehicles.

The largest recall includes 201,900 vehicles from the 2011 and 2012 model years for a transmission issue linked to at least three accidents.

The Dearborn automaker has issued a safety recall for the 2011-2012 Ford F-150, and 2012 Ford Expedition, Ford Mustang and Lincoln Navigator for a potential problem with the output speed sensor in the transmission's lead frame.

The company said that in certain conditions the part can lead to a temporary downshift into first gear. Depending on how fast the vehicle is going, that could lead to an abrupt reduction in speed that could cause the rear tires to slide or lock up.

Read more: http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2016/04/ford_recalls_202000_vehicles_f.html

Well, then.

One way to get Big Agriculture to clean up its act


"This month, I set out to discover whether what we think of as “Big Ag” is cleaning up its act.

What’s to clean up? There’s widespread agreement that, as industrial agriculture has intensified over the past 75 years, concentrating on relatively few crops and dramatically increasing yields, it has also polluted waterways and degraded soil. But we’ve also seen increased focus on such practices as no-till farming and cover cropping, which mitigate or even reverse that damage. How widespread are those practices? Are they having an impact?


First, though, you should know that, yes, Big Ag is at least beginning to clean up, but adoption of conservation practices still has a long way to go. No-till (growing crops without plowing up the soil) is used on about 38 percent of the acreage of America’s four biggest crops but doesn’t seem to be increasing. (Corn is holding steady; soy has ticked down.) Fertilizer use remains stubbornly high. Cover cropping (growing crops over the winter or at fallow times so the soil isn’t bare) inspires enthusiasm and wins converts — it’s the Bernie Sanders of conservation practices — but as of 2012, the first year the USDA tracked it, it was used on less than 5 percent of crop acreage.

Not all practices are appropriate for all farms, of course, and many of the practices being implemented are too new to be reflected in USDA data. But I found general agreement that farmers are increasingly focused on these issues and that conservation, particularly in the face of climate change, is important to them.


Let’s talk, instead, about money. If conservation practices are to be implemented more broadly, somebody has to pay.



If farming issues concern you, this piece is very much worth the time it takes to read it. It's quite well researched. There is also a discussion about it on Facebook in the group Food and Farm Discussion Lab.

"Hunger Hormone" May Drive Fat Storage, Not Appetite


"Everyone is familiar with the complaints of a hungry stomach. For years, scientists attributed the gnawing increase in appetite before a meal to ghrelin, a hormone which is secreted in the gut and circulates in the blood, playing a role in food intake and storage. Researchers have found that levels of ghrelin, dubbed the “hunger hormone,” peak before meals and recede after eating.

Given its association with appetite, ghrelin is a tempting drug target for potential obesity treatments—but findings thus far have not lived up to expectations. Experiments that knock out the genes coding for ghrelin and its single receptor, GHSR (growth hormone secretagogue receptor), have been inconclusive: Remove the hormone or receptor, and rodents used in the experiments do not necessarily lose their drive to eat.

Now a team of researchers at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Paris believe that scientists have had it wrong all along. In a study published this week in Science Signaling, they report that ghrelin does not enhance appetite in rats but rather increases weight gain and fat buildup.

Unlike in earlier work, in the new study the researchers used a novel genetic method that kept the ghrelin receptor functional but modified it to have greater signaling in response to ghrelin—in other words, the receptor would enhance the hormone’s effects. The team then performed a series of experiments, first in isolated cells and then in rats. As expected, exposing ghrelin to modified receptors prompted a more potent response compared with the unaltered GHSR.



Plant protein behaves like a prion

Molecule that controls flowering time misfolds when expressed in yeast.

"Prions, the misfolded proteins that are known for causing degenerative illnesses in animals and humans, may have been spotted for the first time in plants.

Researchers led by Susan Lindquist, a biologist at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, report that they have found a section of protein in thale cress (Arabidopsis) that behaves like a prion when it is inserted into yeast.

Deadly animal prion disease appears in Europe
In plants, the protein is called Luminidependens (LD), and it is normally involved in responding to daylight and controlling flowering time. When a part of the LD gene is inserted into yeast, it produces a protein that does not fold up normally, and which spreads this misfolded state to proteins around it in a domino effect that causes aggregates or clumps. Later generations of yeast cells inherit the effect: their versions of the protein also misfold.

This does not mean that plants definitely have prion-like proteins, adds Lindquist — but she thinks that it is likely. “I’d be surprised if they weren’t there,” she says. To prove it, researchers would need to grind up a plant and see whether they could find a protein such as LD in several different folded states, as well as show that any potential prion caused a misfolding cascade when added to a test-tube of protein. Lindquist adds that because she's not a plant scientist — her focus is on using yeast to investigate prions — she hasn't tried these experiments. The study is reported on 25 April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.



The Strong Evidence Against Spanking

A review of the available research finds that physical punishment is significantly linked to bad outcomes for kids.

"Around the world, an average of 60 percent of children receive some kind of physical punishment, according to UNICEF. And the most common form is spanking. In the United States, most people still see spanking as acceptable, though FiveThirtyEight reports that the percentage of people who approve of spanking has gone down, from 84 percent in 1986 to about 70 percent in 2012.

“The question of whether parents should spank their children to correct misbehaviors sits at a nexus of arguments from ethical, religious, and human-rights perspectives,” write Elizabeth Gershoff of the University of Texas at Austin, and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor of the University of Michigan, in a new meta-analysis examining the research on spanking and its effects on children.

The researchers raised concerns that previous meta-analyses had defined physical punishment too broadly, including harsher and more abusive behaviors alongside spanking. So for this meta-analysis, they defined spanking as “hitting a child on their buttocks or extremities using an open hand.”


“Thus, among the 79 statistically significant effect sizes, 99 percent indicated an association between spanking and a detrimental child outcome,” the study reads. Those outcomes were: “low moral internalization, aggression, antisocial behavior, externalizing behavior problems, internalizing behavior problems, mental-health problems, negative parent–child relationships, impaired cognitive ability, low self-esteem, and risk of physical abuse from parents.”



And there it is.

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