Recent Posts

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
In the News / Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy
« Last post by Little Feather on July 23, 2016, 04:42:58 AM »
Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy

Washington Post Editorial 7/23/2016

DONALD J. TRUMP, until now a Republican problem, this week became a challenge the nation must confront and overcome. The real estate tycoon is uniquely unqualified to serve as president, in experience and temperament. He is mounting a campaign of snarl and sneer, not substance. To the extent he has views, they are wrong in their diagnosis of America’s problems and dangerous in their proposed solutions. Mr. Trump’s politics of denigration and division could strain the bonds that have held a diverse nation together. His contempt for constitutional norms might reveal the nation’s two-century-old experiment in checks and balances to be more fragile than we knew.

Any one of these characteristics would be disqualifying; together, they make Mr. Trump a peril. We recognize that this is not the usual moment to make such a statement. In an ordinary election year, we would acknowledge the Republican nominee, move on to the Democratic convention and spend the following months, like other voters, evaluating the candidates’ performance in debates, on the stump and in position papers. This year we will follow the campaign as always, offering honest views on all the candidates. But we cannot salute the Republican nominee or pretend that we might endorse him this fall. A Trump presidency would be dangerous for the nation and the world.

Why are we so sure? Start with experience. It has been 64 years since a major party nominated anyone for president who did not have electoral experience. That experiment turned out pretty well — but Mr. Trump, to put it mildly, is no Dwight David Eisenhower. Leading the Allied campaign to liberate Europe from the Nazis required strategic and political skills of the first order, and Eisenhower — though he liked to emphasize his common touch as he faced the intellectual Democrat Adlai Stevenson — was shrewd, diligent, humble and thoughtful.

Donald Trump painted a dark picture of America during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, but some of his doomsday stats are rather dubious. The Post's Fact Checker examined 25 of his key claims. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

In contrast, there is nothing on Mr. Trump’s résumé to suggest he could function successfully in Washington. He was staked in the family business by a well-to-do father and has pursued a career marked by some real estate successes, some failures and repeated episodes of saving his own hide while harming people who trusted him. Given his continuing refusal to release his tax returns, breaking with a long bipartisan tradition, it is only reasonable to assume there are aspects of his record even more discreditable than what we know.

The lack of experience might be overcome if Mr. Trump saw it as a handicap worth overcoming. But he displays no curiosity, reads no books and appears to believe he needs no advice. In fact, what makes Mr. Trump so unusual is his combination of extreme neediness and unbridled arrogance. He is desperate for affirmation but contemptuous of other views. He also is contemptuous of fact. Throughout the campaign, he has unspooled one lie after another — that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, that his tax-cut plan would not worsen the deficit, that he opposed the Iraq War before it started — and when confronted with contrary evidence, he simply repeats the lie. It is impossible to know whether he convinces himself of his own untruths or knows that he is wrong and does not care. It is also difficult to know which trait would be more frightening in a commander in chief.

Given his ignorance, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr. Trump offers no coherence when it comes to policy. In years past, he supported immigration reform, gun control and legal abortion; as candidate, he became a hard-line opponent of all three. Even in the course of the campaign, he has flip-flopped on issues such as whether Muslims should be banned from entering the United States and whether women who have abortions should be punished . Worse than the flip-flops is the absence of any substance in his agenda. Existing trade deals are “stupid,” but Mr. Trump does not say how they could be improved. The Islamic State must be destroyed, but the candidate offers no strategy for doing so. Eleven million undocumented immigrants must be deported, but Mr. Trump does not tell us how he would accomplish this legally or practically.

What the candidate does offer is a series of prejudices and gut feelings, most of them erroneous. Allies are taking advantage of the United States. Immigrants are committing crimes and stealing jobs. Muslims hate America. In fact, Japan and South Korea are major contributors to an alliance that has preserved a peace of enormous benefit to Americans. Immigrants commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans and take jobs that no one else will. Muslims are the primary victims of Islamist terrorism, and Muslim Americans, including thousands who have served in the military, are as patriotic as anyone else.

The Trump litany of victimization has resonated with many Americans whose economic prospects have stagnated. They deserve a serious champion, and the challenges of inequality and slow wage growth deserve a serious response. But Mr. Trump has nothing positive to offer, only scapegoats and dark conspiracy theories. He launched his campaign by accusing Mexico of sending rapists across the border, and similar hatefulness has surfaced numerous times in the year since.

In a dangerous world, Mr. Trump speaks blithely of abandoning NATO, encouraging more nations to obtain nuclear weapons and cozying up to dictators who in fact wish the United States nothing but harm. For eight years, Republicans have criticized President Obama for “apologizing” for America and for weakening alliances. Now they put forward a candidate who mimics the vilest propaganda of authoritarian adversaries about how terrible the United States is and how unfit it is to lecture others. He has made clear that he would drop allies without a second thought. The consequences to global security could be disastrous.

Most alarming is Mr. Trump’s contempt for the Constitution and the unwritten democratic norms upon which our system depends. He doesn’t know what is in the nation’s founding document. When asked by a member of Congress about Article I, which enumerates congressional powers, the candidate responded, “I am going to abide by the Constitution whether it’s number 1, number 2, number 12, number 9.” The charter has seven articles.

Worse, he doesn’t seem to care about its limitations on executive power. He has threatened that those who criticize him will suffer when he is president. He has vowed to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their innocent relatives, no matter the illegality of either act. He has vowed to constrict the independent press. He went after a judge whose rulings angered him, exacerbating his contempt for the independence of the judiciary by insisting that the judge should be disqualified because of his Mexican heritage. Mr. Trump has encouraged and celebrated violence at his rallies. The U.S. democratic system is strong and has proved resilient when it has been tested before. We have faith in it. But to elect Mr. Trump would be to knowingly subject it to threat.

Mr. Trump campaigns by insult and denigration, insinuation and wild accusation: Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Hillary Clinton may be guilty of murder; Mr. Obama is a traitor who wants Muslims to attack. The Republican Party has moved the lunatic fringe onto center stage, with discourse that renders impossible the kind of substantive debate upon which any civil democracy depends.

Most responsible Republican leaders know all this to be true; that is why Mr. Trump had to rely so heavily on testimonials by relatives and employees during this week’s Republican convention. With one exception (Bob Dole), the living Republican presidents and presidential nominees of the past three decades all stayed away. But most current officeholders, even those who declared Mr. Trump to be an unthinkable choice only months ago, have lost the courage to speak out.

The party’s failure of judgment leaves the nation’s future where it belongs, in the hands of voters. Many Americans do not like either candidate this year . We have criticized the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the past and will do so again when warranted. But we do not believe that she (or the Libertarian and Green party candidates, for that matter) represents a threat to the Constitution. Mr. Trump is a unique and present danger.
Thoughts and Ideas / Chickens Can Protect You From Malaria
« Last post by Little Feather on July 22, 2016, 07:42:53 AM »
 Chickens Can Protect You From Malaria

Deadly mosquitoes take one whiff of chickens and fly off as fast as they can.
Malaria-transmitting mosquitoes avoid chickens, according to a new study that finds the deadly insects take a whiff of chickens and turn in the other direction.

Odors emitted by chickens and possibly other species could therefore provide protection for humans at risk of getting mosquito-transmitted diseases like malaria, reports the study, published in the Malaria Journal.

"We were surprised to find that malaria mosquitoes are repelled by the odors emitted by chickens," co-author Rickard Ignell of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences said in a press release.

"This study," he continued, "shows for the first time that malaria mosquitoes actively avoid feeding on certain animal species, and that this behavior is regulated through odor cues."

To determine which species the mosquitoes prefer as prey, Ignell and his colleagues collected data on the population of human and domestic animals in three Ethiopian villages. They also collected blood-fed mosquitoes to test for the source of the blood that the mosquitoes had fed on.

The researchers discovered that while the mosquito Anopheles arabiensis strongly prefers human over animal blood when seeking dinner, it randomly feeds on cattle, goats and sheep when outdoors. In all settings, however, it avoids chickens, according to the new study.

The scientists next isolated compounds found in chicken feathers and placed them in mosquito traps set in 11 thatched houses in the villages. In at least one residence, the researchers even placed a live chicken in a cage near the trap. A single volunteer, aged between 27 and 36 years old, slept under an untreated bed net in each of the houses.

The study period lasted 11 days. Control traps were deployed as well, using hair, wool and feathers from other types of birds.

Ignell and his team found that significantly fewer mosquitoes were caught in traps baited with chicken compounds than in control traps. The live chicken also worked wonders in repelling the blood-sucking insects.

"People in sub-Saharan Africa have suffered considerably under the burden of malaria over an extended period of time and mosquitoes are becoming increasingly physiologically resistant to pesticides, while also changing their feeding habits, for example, by moving from indoors to outdoors," Ignell said.

"For this reason there is a need to develop novel control methods," he added. "In our study, we have been able to identify a number of natural odor compounds which could repel host-seeking malaria mosquitoes and prevent them from getting in contact with people."

Maybe we'll all be spritzing ourselves with eau de chicken as a result, if the goal is to ward off mosquitoes and the diseases that they can carry.

As for sleeping next to a live chicken, people living in the areas in which the research was conducted share their living quarters with their livestock, so having an actual chicken close by at night would not necessarily be unusual and could offer health benefits until the researchers are better able to pinpoint the mosquito-repelling compounds.

In the News / Animals healing humans a new focus
« Last post by Little Feather on July 22, 2016, 05:44:28 AM »
 Animals healing humans a new focus at Ag Progress Days Equine Experience


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Animal lovers may instinctively know it, but many people may not realize the therapeutic value of our domesticated four-legged friends. Visitors who come to the Equine Exhibits Building at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 16-18, can learn more about how animals help humans heal.


"People connect with animals, sometimes when they cannot connect with people," said Ann Macrina, senior instructor in the College of Agricultural Sciences' Department of Animal Science and coordinator of the Ag Progress Days Equine Experience.


Macrina pointed out that using animals to improve human health is a new research initiative for the National Institutes of Health. "While we've long known the emotional and physical benefits for people, medical field personnel are now embracing use of animals in the treatment and healing process," she said.


Several activities at the event will illustrate how animals help people, Macrina noted. For example, psychologist and behaviorist Dr. Gesa Wellenstein will present a session on how she uses dogs and horses in her practice to treat psychological issues.


Service dogs act as guide dogs for the blind while others serve as health-detection dogs. They can sense cancer, low blood sugar and impending seizures in their owners. Nancy Dreschel, instructor in small animal science at Penn State, will discuss raising these puppies and how they will go on to become service dogs.


Therapeutic riding provides an opportunity for those with disabilities to improve their physical and mental well-being through riding horses. For those who can't or don't wish to ride, interaction with horses provides great psychological benefit, Macrina said. As prey animals, horses often react visibly to people's emotions, providing for instant feedback and reflection in a nonjudgmental way.


Hands On Therapeutic Riding and the Capital Area Therapeutic Riding Association will be on hand to provide information on physical and psychological therapies for people with physical or emotional challenges. These include cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder and confidence building, to name a few. In addition, Victory Therapeutic Horsemanship will provide information on how its program helps veterans.


Miniature horses will greet visitors all three days. "Children and adults in wheelchairs really connect with the miniature horses because they aren't daunted by their size," Macrina explained.

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 16; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 17; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 18. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at http://agsci.psu.edu/apd. Twitter users can share information about the event using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and Facebook users can find the event at http://www.facebook.com/AgProgressDays.



EDITORS: Ann Macrina can be reached at 814-863-4202 or at alm106@psu.edu .



More than 600 people have gotten sick so far this year in outbreaks of Salmonella traced to pet chickens or ducks kept in backyard flocks. And health officials are warning that as tempting as it might be to nuzzle up to a fluffy chick, owners of poultry pets should rein in the affection to protect themselves from illness.

Forty-five states have reported outbreaks of Salmonella linked to live poultry in backyard flocks this year, the CDC said this week. A total of 611 people have been infected, including 138 who had to be hospitalized. One patient died, although Salmonella was not considered the main cause of death.

The CDC said this is the largest number of illnesses linked to live poultry on record; there were about 180 such cases in the first six months of last year.

The outbreaks -- eight since January of this year -- have affected people of all ages. One-third of infections have been in children under 5 years old.

All live poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean, health officials warned. People can be infected by coming in contact with bird droppings. But there are steps you can take to avoid illness:

    Don't kiss chickens and ducks or bring them close to the face.
    Always wash hands well with soap and water after handling feathered pets, and keep hands away from the face.
    Don't let live poultry inside the house.
    Don't let kids under 5 handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry without adult supervision.

Internist Dr. Len Horovitz, an attending physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said symptoms of salmonella infection include nausea and vomiting.

"You may or may not have blood in the stool. Fevers, chills, abdominal pain," he said.

Antibiotics are used to treat patients, but those with more severe symptoms may require hospitalization for intravenous medication.

"It doesn't go away by itself. Once Salmonella gets in the body, it can go from the gastrointestinal tract if it's untreated into the bloodstream and become fatal," Horovitz said.

Bird owners who fell ill in the most recent outbreaks said they purchased live baby poultry from a variety of locations -- feed supply stores, websites, hatcheries and friends. Contact with the birds occurred in a variety of places including the owner's homes, someone else's home, at work and in schools.

"Children don't have to own pets to get it," Horovitz said, advising parents to think twice about offering to take home the classroom pet duck for the weekend or vacation.

Dr. Sherrill Davison, director of the Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, told CBS News that people should only buy baby chicks and ducks from reputable sources.

"The USDA and CDC have programs in place for hatcheries and for the feed stores that sell the baby chicks or ducklings to reduce the incidence of Salmonella," said Davison.
Paralyzed pets rock their wheels: 30 awesome animals
31 Photos
Paralyzed pets rock their wheels: 30 awesome animals

Just how many small poultry flocks there are throughout the U.S. is unknown, she said, but there's been lots of interest in recent years in keeping poultry as pets -- including "layers" that produce fresh eggs for their owners. Pet flocks can now be found in cities and suburbs all over the country, not just rural areas. But issues with Salmonella may crop up when people don't care for their chickens and ducks properly.

Like other family pets, chickens and ducks need fresh water and food, clean living areas, good ventilation, and protection from predators, Davison said. Cage cleaning and keeping separate clothes and shoes used solely for handling and caring for poultry will reduce the risk of infection.

Davison said that the birds can carry salmonella in their intestines but may not show any symptoms, so avoid eating eggs that have any fecal matter on the shells or eggs that had cracks because they may have become contaminated.

"When you're in the coop area, it is essential whether it's a young person or adult, to wash your hands. The key also is not having birds in your house, especially near food preparation areas. I really do advise against that," said Davison.

If you buy new birds, she said, wait at least three weeks before adding them to your existing flock. Keep wild birds -- which can carry Salmonella and other diseases that can infect poultry -- at a distance by not hanging wild bird feeders nearby.

And just like dogs and cats, pet chicks and ducks should have a veterinarian, too, Davison said.

"Sometimes the information on the internet isn't correct and sometimes it can hurt the bird and is damaging to welfare of the bird. Call someone to help you," she said.

"You can talk with universities in your state that have veterinary schools, and also talk with your state's department of agriculture to people who can help with advice for backyard flocks," Davison said.
Eat Well / Do you know what you're really eating?
« Last post by Little Feather on July 13, 2016, 12:19:29 PM »
Do you know what you're really eating?

Are you really eating what you think you're eating?

For example, is the "extra-virgin olive oil" you're tossing with your salad really as pure as the label says, or is it diluted with cheaper soybean oil?

Or is it really a steal of a deal when you get a lobster roll at a fast-food chain for half the price of what you'd pay in Maine?

According to award-winning journalist Larry Olmsted, you're being fooled. What you're actually getting is "fake food" or what he describes as "a massive industry of bait and switch, where you get something other than promised."

In his new book, "Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do About It," Olmsted takes an in-depth look at fraud in the food industry and explains how you can shop for the real deal.

"Really good olive oil, real Kobe beef -- it's just not what you're usually getting. And I want people to enjoy these foods," Olmsted told "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "They taste better and they are generally much better for you."

So why aren't you getting "real food?" Olmsted blames it on poor regulation, especially over food labels. What makes it even tougher to regulate is that not all cases are illegal.

"Some of the adulteration -- when they cut olive oil with other oils or substances, they cut honey with corn syrup -- that is a violation of the law. But a lot of it is labeling issues that are unregulated," Olmsted said. "Like 'natural' would be the perfect example. You could slap 'natural' on pretty much any food product. It's meaningless."

Some commonly sold "fake" foods that aren't what their labels promise include:

    Kobe beef
    Orange juice
    Apple juice

The poster child for fake food is the red snapper, Olmstead said. A study by Oceana -- a nonprofit ocean conservation group that tests seafood authenticity nationwide using DNA -- found that you get real red snapper less than 6 percent of the time. Instead, the fish you're likely to actually get are tilefish or tilapia substitutes.
Watchdog: FDA food recall procedures put consumers at risk
Play Video
Watchdog: FDA food recall procedures put consumers at risk

In the book, Olmsted writes that that the seafood industry is "so rife with fakery -- both legal and illegal -- that it boggles the mind." Ninety-one percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported and current FDA law mandates that just 2 percent of that be inspected every year. According to Olmsted, the FDA falls "woefully short" even of that.

"They're lucky if they inspect half a percent," Olmsted said. "It's a low bar and they can't even come close to making it."

    Olmsted provides tips on how to avoid specific counterfeit foods at the end of every chapter in his book. One general way in which you can avoid counterfeit foods is by shopping at big-box stores, in part because their large volume enables them to dictate standards and certifications from the food producers.

"They say you have to get this certification or we won't buy from you," Olmsted explained. "Whereas the FDA is asleep at the switch."

You can also be a smarter shopper with the following tips:

    Read labels carefully
    Avoid artificial colors and so-called "natural flavors"
    Buy whole rather than processed foods when possible
    Cook more, which gives you control over your own ingredients

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.
« Last post by Little Feather on July 12, 2016, 02:47:24 AM »


Often thought of as a weed, this edible succulent is enjoying the attention of farmers and foodies alike.

Purslane may be one of the most ideal summer greens around. Yeah, to grow on purpose.

Unlike lettuce, spinach and other tender greens that readily bolt in pounding heat of summer, purslane thrives. It is also extremely nutritious, high in vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and other minerals. Or perhaps you just want to add another tasty addition to your microgreen production. Purslane can do that, too. This edible succulent is simply too good to overlook when it comes to planning the summer garden. And as you may have noticed when it has volunteered in your paths or around your yard, it practically grows itself.

Selecting Seed

The two types of purslane seed most common in seed catalogs are Gruner Red and Goldberg—though according to Wikipedia, there are over 40 different varieties in cultivation (do with that what you will). If looking for heirlooms or alternatives, you may also find seed under the verdolaga, it’s Spanish name.

Start seeds the simple way by planting in soil blocks that are easily transplanted into the garden once growing season ...
Cultivated purslanes generally have larger leaves than wild purslane and grow upright, making harvesting easier. If you want to propagate your own variety, seed can be harvested from wild purslane once the plant has senesced, but the production may be more variable, yields lower and stems shorter. However, what you lack in convenience you may make up for in flavor.

1. Grow Purslane As Microgreens

Microgreens can be a nutritious treat, as well as an excellent market item—especially for chefs. To grow purslane as microgreens, use a perforated seedling tray. Cover the bottom with organic potting mix to at least 1/2-inch deep. Sprinkle seeds evenly but thickly overtop, and cover with a thin layer of soil mix. Place in sunny area at about 75 degrees F, and keep moist until germinated. Once germinated, a slightly cooler temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F, is optimal. Keep the soil moist, irrigate the sprouts from underneath to avoid splashing the plants. Cut the microgreens when the reach 2 to 4 inches.

2. Keep Soil Dry

Although soil fertility for purslane doesn’t have to be particularly high, as a succulent, purslane does enjoy a drier, well-drained soil. It is a fast grower, so it can often outcompete many other weeds, but a good preemptive flame-weeding or stale seed bedding is always recommended before direct seeding it into the ground.

As a member of the same family, purslane will share diseases with other succulents. It is also somewhat susceptible in my own experience to fungi if the season is too wet and planting too dense, as it actually prefers a dry climate.

3. Grow In A Warm Spot

Purslane cannot tolerate cold and prefers germination temperatures of 70 degrees F or more. Wait to place in field until days are long and average temperatures are above 70 during the day and 50 at night, preferably warmer.

Purlsane can be started in seed containers or sown directly into beds. Seeds should be sown every 3/4 inch in rows 8 inches apart. Thin to roughly two or three per foot in row. If transplanting, sow in flats and transplant once first true leaves appear at roughly 8 inches apart.
4. Harvest In The Morning For Tartness

When harvesting purslane, take into consideration the malic acid content of the plant, which is higher in the morning than at night thus making it more tart. Some will prefer this while others may find they enjoy purslane harvested in the evening, when the flavor is milder.
5. Cool Immediately After Picking

Purslane is a delicate crop and should be cooled immediately after harvest. Warm temperatures after harvest will bring out the mucilaginous texture of the crop. Gardeners can either pick off stems continuously over several weeks or cut the whole plant. It will regrow if 2 inches or more of the plant is left on the stem, though it should get no more than three weeks of harvest if the flavor begins to decline and the plant shows signs of bolting. Store purslane in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, and use within a week.
6. Seek Out Chefs

If looking to grow a lot of purslane, contact chefs beforehand. It will sell a bit at market, but it is a specialty crop and may need some other outlets to move it. Ask chefs at what size they would prefer it and how many pounds. And since it is a rarer green, consider selling at herb prices.
In today’s globalized world, it is not inconceivable that one might drink coffee from Colombia in the morning, munch cashews from Vietnam for lunch and gobble grains from Ethiopia for dinner. That we can enjoy these products is thanks, in large part, to expanded pesticide use across the developing world.

Every year, some 3.5 billion kilograms (7.7 billion pounds) of pesticides — a catchall term for the herbicides, insecticides and fungicides applied to crops from seed to harvest — are used to preserve the quality and quantity of fruits, vegetables and grains. Herbicides, such as Monsanto’s weed killer glyphosate, make up the bulk of the pesticides applied worldwide.

In the developing world, where swelling populations, increased urbanization and growing economies create a demand for ever-more food — produced quickly and inexpensively — pesticide application rates are rising. Bangladesh and Thailand have quadrupled their pesticide use since the early 1990s, while Ghana, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, countries newer to the pesticide game, have seen a 10-fold increase over the same period, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

But it’s Brazil that has become the developing world’s largest pesticide user, says Victor Pelaez, an economist at Brazil’s Federal University of Paraná who studies pesticides and their regulation in that country. “Brazil is [the] second largest consumer of pesticides after the United States,” he says. The global pesticides market is estimated to be US $45 billion.

“In 2015, US $9.6 billion of pesticides were sold in Brazil,” Pelaez says. “Compare that to US $14.9 billion sold in the US.”

Brazil is a top exporter of soybean, corn and cotton, Pelaez says, with soy being its top cash crop. During the 2014–15 season, Brazil produced 97 million metric tons (107 million tons) of soybeans, just a hair shy of the US, the world’s leading soybean producer. And with booming agriculture comes a heavy dependence on pesticides. It is estimated that Brazil consumes around a billion liters (260 million gallons) of pesticides every year, and more than a third of that is applied to soybeans, according to a report from Brazil’s scientific research institute Fiocruz.

China comes in a close second among the developing world’s major pesticide consumers — in fact, some estimates have it, and not Brazil, in the top spot. It also manufactures tremendous amounts of pesticides. The country is estimated to have over 2,000 pesticide companies making more than 4.8 billion pounds (2.2 billion kilograms) of pesticides, some of which is exported. While Monsanto and Syngenta, two leading agribusiness companies, together hold close to one-third of the global fertilizer and pesticide market, experts say it is astounding that China is now rivaling the pesticide production of multinational corporations.

More Food — With Trade-offs

Pesticides have boosted crop production since the dawn of agriculture. Ancient civilizations used ashes, sulfur and salts to keep pests at bay. Since then, in the race to fend off fungal diseases like tomato blight and insects like the potato beetle, pesticides have gotten stronger. And historically, at least, they have consistently paid off.

By applying chemicals designed to kill, reduce or repel insects, weeds and diseases harmful to crops, developing countries are producing and exporting more food than ever before. Agricultural expansion, with farmers moving deeper into areas like the Brazilian Amazon to produce cereals, and Indonesia’s tropical forests to grow oil palms, is leading to more pesticide use. And so is crop intensification: Boosting yields by growing more food on the same area of land inevitably leads to more pesticide use. In fact, a 2012 study reported in Food Policy analyzing FAO data from 1990 to 2009 found that a 1-percent increase in crop output was associated with a 1.8-percent increase in pesticide use.

But with intensified agriculture and increased reliance on pesticides come trade-offs. Pesticides have been proven to harm pollinators like bees, according to a recent report released by the US Environmental Protection Agency. They’ve also been shown to disrupt ecosystems by adversely affecting nontarget plant species, and those that mimic hormones can harm animal health.
Of particular concern to many is pesticides’ toll on human health.

Of particular concern to many is pesticides’ toll on human health. Pesticides have been proven to have a variety of impacts in this arena, ranging from acute, deadly poisoning to respiratory conditions to cancer, particularly in children.

“One can confidently state that there is at least some association between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer,” wrote the authors of a 2007 review of dozens of studies looking at pesticide exposure and childhood cancers published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Scientists admit that conditions like cancer are difficult to link with pesticide exposure because those kinds of diseases can take decades to develop. Last year, the World Health Organization declared that glyphosate — the most commonly used herbicide in the world — is “probably carcinogenic.”

Despite harrowing findings being published in the scientific journal The Lancet Oncology, the agribusiness companies marketing the pesticides have not stopped their production. Monsanto, which makes almost one-third of its earnings from glyphosate, says it “strongly disagrees” with the WHO’s conclusions.

Occupational exposure is a common problem in developing countries, where workers applying pesticides are less likely than workers in developed countries to use protective equipment. The ramifications of this exposure can go beyond the worker. A 2010 study in Ecuador published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that prenatal exposure to pesticides from mothers who worked in the Ecuadorian flower industry was associated with impaired visual memory and motor tasks in their children. Several US studies are tracking intellectual impairment and behavior problems in children exposed to pesticides. But in the developing world, sparse health-care infrastructure is a major barrier to understanding the extent of pesticide poisoning.

The epidemiology of pesticide exposure globally is not fully understood and most of the time underdiagnosed, according to the Pan American Health Organization, an international public health agency based in Washington, DC, “Pesticide poisoning cases are under-reported by 50 percent to 80 percent regionwide,” reported the PAHO in 2011, referring to the Americas.

Though it is difficult to study the health effects of pesticide use, especially in developing countries, the PAHO correlates the rise in childhood pesticide poisoning with increased import of pesticides for agriculture.

“These chemicals are designed to kill living organisms, and children are particularly vulnerable to them,” the report’s authors write. “Pesticides undoubtedly have important uses, but how much is too much?”

Problems arise when hazardous pesticides are distributed to people without adequate training regarding potential dangers and proper handling — as was the case in 2013 in India when 23 schoolchildren were killed after eating a meal contaminated with the pesticide monocrotophos. To improve pesticide management and avoid serious poisonings, the FAO is calling on countries to adhere to an “International Code of Conduct of Pesticide Management,” a voluntary framework that promotes best practices to prevent and reduce exposure to pesticides during handling, storage, transport, use and disposal.

That this international code of conduct is nonbinding is symptomatic of how difficult it is to control and manage pesticide use. While various international conventions — such as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants — have been organized to regulate specific pesticide chemicals, and international agencies such as the FAO have issued guidelines, such as “Save and Grow,” with suggestions for pesticide reduction, there is no comprehensive global regulatory framework to help guide policy for the transport, storage and use of pesticides.

Reducing Dependence

“How much is too much?” is a question with which Jules Pretty, a professor at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, is constantly grappling. What’s encouraging is the growing evidence that farmers can lower their dependence on pesticides while maintaining agricultural production, sometimes by employing techniques that date back thousands of years.

Over the past 25 years, Pretty has been studying sustainable agriculture practices around the world. He has shown that there’s growing proof that integrated pest management — a strategy that uses alternative, diversified and historic agronomic practices to control pests — can help reduce pesticide use in a variety of farming systems. In 2015, Pretty and colleagues published a meta-analysis of 85 field sites in 24 countries in Asia and Africa that employed IPM techniques and reduced pesticide use while boosting crop yields. Some eliminated pesticides entirely by using techniques such as crop rotation and pheromone traps to capture pests, says Pretty.

“Thirty percent of the crop systems were able to transition to zero pesticides,” Pretty says. Not only that, but surprisingly, he says, “the innovations around sustainability are happening in the poorer countries: Bangladesh, India and countries in Africa. We really could be holding these up as beacons.”

    Farmers who use pesticides in China, for example, were shown through farmer field schools that pests could infest their rice crops for 40 days before harvest with no effect on yield, Pretty explains. These community learning programs, which are increasingly popular worldwide have the potential to avoid a lot of unnecessary spraying, says Pretty.

“It’s the idea of an outdoor learning environment where they do experiments,” he explains. Instead of forcing farmers to adopt a new practice or follow a new policy, farmer field schools allow farmers to experiment with new techniques with their peers. But these new practices are often difficult to adopt. Farmers have to see the benefits before they rein in pesticides. “When farmers can see that themselves, the learning is very significant and then they persuade other people,” Pretty says. “You get a ripple effect.”

Pretty is confident that if enough farmers in enough developing countries can become convinced of the benefits of sustainable farming practices like IPM, the world’s reliance on pesticides can be lowered.

“I think we’ve never seen the system more driven by sustainability concerns, small farmer concerns, and more IPM concerns,” Pretty says. “We’re providing both small and large farmers with the opportunity to be able to say, ‘we know what to do, we don’t need pesticides.’”

TOPICS: Environment

TAGS: agriculture, brazil, cancer, envionment, food, food policy, pesticides
Aleszu Bajak

Aleszu Bajak is a journalist who covers science, technology and public health. He's no stranger to the lab bench, having worked in gene therapy and marine biology. He is the founder of LatinAmericanScience.org, and his work has appeared in magazines such as Nature, Science and New Scientist. Follow him on Twitter: @aleszubajak.

FARMER'S FORUM / Landowner GIS mapping course and map packages
« Last post by alaliber on July 11, 2016, 02:48:05 AM »
Learn how to map your land using open source software and freely available data. This self-paced, video-based course on DVD is an excellent introduction to digital mapping tools (GIS) for landowners or permaculture designers. It will allow you to visualize the terrain of the land, perform site planning based on slope, aspect, and other features, and use GIS maps with open source software and Google Earth. You will learn where to obtain freely available aerial photos, topographic data, soil maps, and other spatial layers, and how to view and manipulate the data. Details at: http://www.earthmetrics.com/courses/
For those that prefer a final product, I offer different levels of map packages that include the finest detail mapping layers available for your property. The products can be customized to your land and needs, include free visualization software, and require no specialized mapping knowledge. Details at http://www.earthmetrics.com/landowner-mapping-services/

Andrea Laliberte
Brownsville, OR

Trump’s Top Strategist Wrote This Brutal Open Letter To Trump Voters
By Colin Taylor


One of Donald Trump’s top campaign strategists, former communications director Stephanie Cegielski, has resigned from his campaign in protest of Trump’s ridiculous statement that “only he can solve” the bombing in Pakistan (whatever that might mean). She has penned a devastating open letter to his supporters, explaining to us why she originally supported Trump, and how his excess and dishonesty turned her against him. She issues a stark warning to Trump supporters that the supposed “authenticity” of Trump is nothing but smoke and mirrors, a soap opera character  – and that at the end of the day, Donald Trump only cares about himself. A brutal denunciation of Trump as both a candidate and a person, it might be the most complete evisceration of the orange-haired rabble-rouser yet written.

It will be interesting to see if Donald Trump’s supporters will be able to dismiss this evisceration so easily. They can’t cry “liberal media” or establishment bias – this comes from inside his own camp, the people who know him better than any of his supporters. It’s also a significant indication that Trump’s own advisers are becoming increasingly tired of his racist antics and his utter refusal to formulate any kind of substantial policy proposals. They recognize that he is utterly unprepared for the presidency and has no desire to change that.

An Open Letter to Trump Voters from His Top Strategist-Turned-Defector

Even Trump’s most trusted advisors didn’t expect him to fare this well. Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it. The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12% and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50%. His candidacy was a protest candidacy.

It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya on American Idol. President Trump would be President Sanjaya in terms of legitimacy and authority. And I am now taking full responsibility for helping create this monster — and reaching out directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal.

My support for Trump began probably like yours did. Similar to so many other Americans, I was tired of the rhetoric in Washington. Negativity and stubbornness were at an all-time high, and the presidential prospects didn’t look promising.

In 2015, I fell in love with the idea of the protest candidate who was not bought by corporations. A man who sat in a Manhattan high-rise he had built, making waves as a straight talker with a business background, full of successes and failures, who wanted America to return to greatness.

I was sold. Last summer, I signed on as the Communications Director of the Make America Great Again Super PAC. It was still early in the Trump campaign, and we hit the ground running. His biggest competitor had more than $100 million in a Super PAC. The Jeb Bush deep pockets looked to be the biggest obstacle we faced. We seemed to be up against a steep challenge, especially since a big part of the appeal of a Trump candidacy was not being influenced by PAC money.

After the first debate, I was more anxious than ever to support Trump. The exchange with Megyn Kelly was like manna from heaven for a communications director. She appeared like yet another reporter trying to kick out the guest who wasn’t invited to the party. At the time, I felt excited for the change to the debate he could bring. I began realizing the man really resonates with the masses and would bring people to the process who had never participated before.

That was inspiring to me. It wasn’t long before every day I awoke to a buzzing phone and a shaking head because Trump had said something politically incorrect the night before. I have been around politics long enough to know that the other side will pounce on any and every opportunity to smear a candidate.

But something surprising and absolutely unexpected happened. Every other candidate misestimated the anger and outrage of the “silent majority” of Americans who are not a part of the liberal elite. So with each statement came a jump in the polls. Just when I thought we were finished, The Donald gained more popularity.

I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far. And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all.

He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters. The Donald does not fail. The Donald does not have any weakness. The Donald is his own biggest enemy. A devastating terrorist attack in Pakistan targeting Christians occurred on Easter Sunday, and Trump’s response was to tweet, “Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead, 400 injured. I alone can solve.”

Ignoring the fact that at the time Trump tweeted this (time-stamped 4:37 p.m.) the latest news reports had already placed the number differently at 70 dead, 300 injured, take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous, cartoonish, almost childish arrogance of saying that he alone can solve. Does Trump think that he is making a cameo on Wrestlemania (yes, one of his actual credits)?

This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever. Superhero powers where “I alone can solve” problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump.

What was once Trump’s desire to rank second place to send a message to America and to increase his power as a businessman has nightmarishly morphed into a charade that is poised to do irreparable damage to this country if we do not stop this campaign in its tracks.

I’ll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now. You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.

He doesn’t want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some. If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.

The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump. And if you are one of the disaffected voters — one of the silent majority like me — who wanted a candidate who could be your voice, I want to speak directly to you as one of his biggest advocates and supporters.

He is not that voice. He is not your voice. He is only Trump’s voice. Trump is about Trump. Not one of his many wives. Not one of his many “pieces of ass.” He is, at heart, a self-preservationist.

In fact, many people are not aware of the Trump campaign’s internal slogan, but I will tell you. It is stolen from a make-believe television presidency onThe West Wing where Martin Sheen portrayed President Bartlet. The slogan on the show amongst the idealistic group of Bartlet’s staff was “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet.”

Inside the Trump camp, the slogan became “Let Trump Be Trump.”

It is a repurposed slogan that seemed spot-on for the candidate. He is an intelligent, charismatic man who is involved in every aspect of his organization and would rather speak from the cuff than read briefing notes and recite them. I, in fact, admire Trump for this. But saying this qualifies him to be president is like saying that Seth Rogan is suited to be president. Another extraordinary improvisor, not an extraordinary presidential candidate.

Trump has undoubtedly lived up to the slogan, right down to his main public-relations liaison. Rather than go for a focus-group Washington insider, his communications person had previously taken press calls for the Trump Organization and directed them to the appropriate Trump child. She joked that before joining the campaign she thought “Common Core” was a class at Equinox.

The primary problem with this? What I’ve seen the longer I’ve helped prop him up along with the millions who are helping Trump is that we got the slogan wrong. A more accurate internal slogan would read, “Let Trump Help Trump.”

I don’t dismiss any single Trump constituent, which is why I believe it’s important to let you know that the candidate does.

I, too, think our country has gone off track in its values. I, too, think that we need a dramatic change of course. But I am, in my heart, a policy wonk and a believer in coming to the table with necessary knowledge for leading the free world.

The man does not know policy, nor does he have the humility to admit what he does not know — the most frightening position of all.

I remember watching the second Trump debate and thinking, After this, he is going to have to start hammering it home on policy; the country needs substance to make an informed decision.

I wished for it six months ago and am still waiting for it today. He had an opportunity after the terror attacks in Belgium and instead he used the opportunity to talk about closing the borders and what a mess that country had become. I was appalled that he offered no condolences or words of support; he merely gave his “build a wall” stump speech and talked about his greatness.

I felt sad for him at that moment.

And now, with the latest horrifying terror attack in Pakistan, my sadness has turned into anger.

I consider myself a part of the silent majority that led to Trump’s rise, which is why I want you to know that I am with you — I wanted Trump to be real, too.

He is not.

He even says so himself. His misogyny? That’s the character.

His presidential candidacy? That’s a character, too.

The problem with characters is they are the stuff of soap operas and sitcoms and reality competitions — not political legacies.

Trump made me believe. Until I woke up. And he has no problem abusing your support the same way he cheated hard-working men and women out of millions of dollars, for which he is now being sued.

I came into this eager to support a savvy businessman who received little outside funding. I loved Trump’s outsider status. But a year has now passed since I was first approached to become part of Team Trump.

While the pundits pontificated about what type of PR stunt Trump had up his billion-dollar sleeves, I met with people who convinced me he was serious about changing the political conversation. I wanted to raise millions for him. I wanted to contribute to millions of votes.

And as part of that support, in October, I supported the internal decision to close the Super PAC in order to position him as the quintessential non-politician. I still supported him with great passion after that. The decision to close the Super PAC was part of that devotion to his message of outsider change.

But something was shifting.

Without intending to do so, I began to hear and evaluate him more critically and skeptically as a member of the voting public rather than a communications person charged with protecting his positions.

I no longer felt that he was the leader the country was looking for, and I found myself longing — aching, really — for policy substance that went beyond building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. What were once bold — although controversial — statements now seemed to be attempts to please the crowds, not direction to lead this country to a better place. I began to realize his arrogance and isolation had taken over and were now controlling his message.

And here’s what he tapped into: the unprecedented, unbelievable anger.

Because we are all angry — and we all have a right to be. But Trump is not our champion. He would stab any one of his supporters in the back if it earned him a cent more in his pocket.

Unfortunately, the more vitriolic Trump has become, the more the people responded to him. That drove him to push the boundaries further and further.

I also started seeing a trend of incompetence and deniability.

When there was a tweet that contained an error, he would blame it on an intern; when there was a photo containing a World War II Nazi Germany background, he would blame it on an intern; when he answered questions in an overtly controversial fashion, he would claim that he did not properly hear the question. He refused to take responsibility for his actions while frequently demanding apologies from others.

Imagine Trump wronged you, even in the smallest possible way. He would go to the grave denying he had ever done anything wrong to you — ever.

Trump acts as if he’s a fictional character. But like Hercules, Donald Trump isa work of fiction.

No matter how many times he repeats it, Trump would not be the “best” at being a president, being in shape, fighting terrorism, selling steaks, and whatever other “best” claim he has made in the last 15 minutes.

He would be the best at something, though. He is the best at looking out for Donald Trump — at all costs.

Don’t let our country pay that price.



Eat Well / Penn State Extension resource guide makes veggie dishes simple
« Last post by Little Feather on June 17, 2016, 08:35:40 AM »
New Penn State Extension resource guide makes veggie dishes simple, flavorful

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Many people struggle to find ways to incorporate vegetables into their diets. To help individuals and families add the healthy flavor, texture and color of vegetables to their meals, Penn State Extension has released the "Totally Veggies Resource Guide."

According to a 2015 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 14 percent of American adults get the recommended 2 to 3 cups of vegetables in their daily diets. Research shows that consuming enough vegetables has a positive effect on human health -- providing essential vitamins and minerals not found in other foods, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers, and promoting weight loss when eaten in place of foods with higher amounts of fat and calories.

Studies also have shown that nutrients in food work synergistically and that taking supplements is not as beneficial as eating the whole vegetable.

The research-based "Totally Veggies Resource Guide" discusses how to shop for, prepare and successfully introduce flavorful vegetable dishes for your family. Utilizing the Penn State Extension Vegetable Supper Club curriculum, the 44-page, full-color guide offers an overview of vegetable cooking techniques and a selection of simple vegetable-based recipes, such as Swiss chard lasagna and strawberry salsa. Each recipe includes a breakdown of the nutrition information, including calories, fat, sodium and fiber per serving and facts about the nutrients found in different vegetables.

The "Totally Veggies Resource Guide" was prepared by Frances Alloway, Dori Campbell and Mary Ehret, extension educators and registered dietitians, as part of the Totally Veggies lesson series (http://extension.psu.edu/health/courses/totally-veggies), a curriculum designed for educators to encourage individuals and families to eat more vegetables and increase the varieties that they choose for better health.

The "Totally Veggies Resource Guide" is available for $10 plus shipping and handling. The guide can be previewed online at http://extension.psu.edu/publications/agrs-138/view

To order, call toll-free 877-345-0691 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. All major credit cards are accepted.

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10

Banner or Text Ads Available