Exposure to Ozone Kicks Up Chances of Autism 10-Fold in at-Risk Kids


“The increase in risk is striking.”

Having a higher number of copies of genes has been shown to raise the risk of a child developing autism, as has early exposure to various pollutants in the mother’s environment.

Researchers have now shown that when these two factors are combined, an individual has 10 times the chance of developing the condition, demonstrating the importance of stepping beyond the question of nature versus nurture and looking at the bigger picture.

The analysis by a team led by scientists from Pennsylvania State University is one of the first to examine genetic differences across the whole genome in conjunction with environmental factors surrounding an individual as it develops.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) covers a variety of behaviours involving social interactions and communications, presenting with degrees of severity.

“There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of genes involved and up until now – with very few exceptions – these have been studied independently of the environmental contributors to autism, which are real,” says Penn State researcher Scott B. Selleck.

Those genes can affect numerous functions in the brain, potentially affecting a bunch of different neurological circuits that influence anything from social interactions to eye contact.

The question on just how heritable autism is has long been debated, with some early twin studies estimating as much as 90 percent of the condition is the result of genes passed down from parents.

Other researchers suggest the environment shares more of the blame, with the consensus now hovering around 50 percent genetics, 50 percent environment.

This new study shows how complicated the story just might be when it comes to such complex neurological conditions.

“Our team of researchers represents a merger of people with genetic expertise and environmental epidemiologists, allowing us for the first time to answer questions about how genetic and environmental risk factors for autism interact,” says Selleck.

Research involved 158 children with autism who were selected through a previous study, and 147 controls who were closely matched in age and demographic.

The team examined a feature called copy-number variations (CNVs); sequences that have been duplicated at least once to form repeats through the genome.

Previous research on individuals with ASD has already shown a higher tendency for their genomes to contain more CNVs than the rest of the population, and that the more of these repeats an individual has, the lower their measures of social and communication skills.

In addition to the subjects’ genetic variations, the team analysed their family’s residential history, comparing the addresses with data on air quality from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air Quality System.

“This allowed us to examine differences between cases of autism and typically developing controls in both their prenatal pollutant exposure and their total load of extra or deleted genetic material,” says researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto from University of California Davis.

Each risk factor on its own – larger numbers of CNV and high amounts of particulate in the air – was found to elevate the risk of autism, in line with previous research.

Once they started to combine the figures, one result in particular stood out.

Ozone, as one of the pollutants examined, hasn’t previously been considered a hugely significant risk factor for ASD.

The gas, consisting of three oxygen atoms, is formed from other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which react in the presence of sunlight. Those molecules are generally released in vehicle exhaust, industrial processes, and electrical utilities.

The effect of ozone on those with high CVN numbers ramps up the chances of developing the condition, more than either would account for on their own.

Compared with those the bottom quarter of CNV numbers, and the bottom quarter of ozone exposure, there is a ten-fold risk of developing autism for those in the top quarter for both measures.

“This increase in risk is striking, but given what we know about the complexity of diseases like autism, perhaps not surprising,” says Selleck.

While the study didn’t analyse the cause, the researchers did speculate that ozone could increase the number of reactive oxygen species, such as peroxides, that are known to cause stress to cells and damage DNA.

It’s possible that having more variations of genes responsible for certain autism-related functions could open individuals to more oxidation damage.

The researchers acknowledge their sample size was relatively small, and since ozone occurs in conjunction with numerous other pollutants, there could be confounding factors that need to be pulled apart. It also doesn’t point at a single cause, instead hinting at one way a number of key genes could be affected by the environment.

Still, given the complexities of the condition, the study does show how variables we’ve previously dismissed might be working in combination.

“It demonstrates how important it is to consider different types of risk factors for disease together, even those with small individual effects,” says Selleck.

The Number of Deadly Heatwaves Will Only Keep Rising, Experts Warn


Majority of the world population could be exposed by 2100.

One of the consequences of a warming planet is more heatwaves, and more heatwaves that are hot enough to kill. Those deadly heatwaves are set to keep growing in number, according to a new study.

Researchers compared projected temperatures with data from past heatwaves and found that a massive 74 percent of the world’s population could be exposed to potentially deadly heatwaves by 2100, if carbon gas emissions continue to rise at the current rates.

If the nations of the world successfully cut back on the amount of carbon getting into the atmosphere, we’re still looking at 48 percent of the people on the planet dealing with heatwaves that can kill in the next 80 years or so, according to the team from the University of Hawaii.

They also put together a web app showing how the situation could get worse as temperatures rise across the globe.

“We are running out of choices for the future,” says lead researcher, Camilo Mora. “For heatwaves, our options are now between bad or terrible.”

“Many people around the world are already paying the ultimate price of heatwaves, and while models suggest that this is likely to continue, it could be much worse if emissions are not considerably reduced.”

For the study, the team combed through 30,000 relevant references in publications from 1980 to 2014 to find information about deadly heatwaves of the past, including the 2003 European heatwave that claimed 70,000 lives and the 2010 Moscow heatwaveresponsible for around 10,000 deaths.

From their data the researchers picked out 783 deadly heatwaves covering 164 cities and 36 countries, using them to identify a temperature and humidity threshold beyond which heatwaves start to become killers.

The threshold varies from place to place, and depends on the way temperature combines with humidity and other factors like wind speeds, but the experts say people have died in temperatures as low as 23°C (73.4°F).

At the moment, about 30 percent of the world’s population gets exposed to heatwaves beyond this threshold for 20 days or more every year, the researchers say, but much worse could be to come.

For humans, our core body temperature needs to be around 37°C (98.6°F), otherwise problems start happening – problems that can be fatal if the body temperature goes much higher.

And it’s the most vulnerable people on the planet who don’t have the shelter or the technology to protect themselves from the heat.

Atmospheric scientist Daniel Mitchell, from the University of Oxford in the UK, wasn’t involved in the research but thinks it leaves out some relevant factors that contribute to mortality rates, such as city design and available medical support.

“There are lots of things that can lead to mortality that have nothing to do with the climate,” he told Kendra Pierre-Louis at Popular Science.

However, Mitchell does agree that the study brings up some necessary points and is “a good step in the right direction”.

According to Camilo Mora we’re going down a path “that will become increasingly dangerous and difficult to reverse” if we don’t start making serious cuts in our production of greenhouse gases.

“Actions like the withdrawal from the Paris agreement is a step in the wrong direction that will inevitably delay fixing a problem for which there is simply no time to waste,” he says.

Source: Nature Climate Change.

Earth Just Passed 410 PPM CO2 Levels for the First Time in Human History


IN BRIEF

Earth just crossed another dangerous threshold in relation to climate change: an atmospheric carbon dioxide reading of 410 ppm. This is just more evidence that a concerted, global effort is needed for the health and survival of our planet.

Breaking Dangerous Records

On April 18, Earth breached its latest climate change milestone. For the first time in human history, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were measured at 410 parts per million (ppm). The Keeling Curve, a University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography program, recorded the milestone at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This was a sobering moment for scientists, albeit hardly surprising.

Since last year, when our planet’s dangerous new normal atmospheric CO2 levels were 400 ppm, scientists have warned the public that the next milestone of 410 ppm was coming.

Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off.“We’re in a new era,” Ralph Keeling, director of the Scripps Institution’s CO2 Program told Yale Environment 360 at the time we passed this milestone. “And it’s going fast,” Keeling added. “We’re going to touch up against 410 pretty soon.”

There is nothing uniquely significant about the numbers 400 or 410, but they offer points of comparison to scientists. “These milestones are just numbers, but they give us an opportunity to pause and take stock and act as useful yard sticks for comparisons to the geological record,” University of Southampton paleoclimate researcher Gavin Foster explained to Climate Central in March.

Via Keeling Curve

Beating Back The Tide

Now, more than ever, it is critical for all countries to work together to achieve a greener world. While natural factors like El Niño have driven more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the past two years, these new records are mostly driven by humans burning fossil fuels in tremendous amounts and, in turn, creating record amounts of carbon dioxide.

“The rate of increase will go down when emissions decrease,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) atmospheric scientist Pieter Tans told Climate Central. “But carbon dioxide will still be going up, albeit more slowly. Only when emissions are cut in half will atmospheric carbon dioxide level off initially.”

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]

Recognizing the importance of taking action to stop climate change, scientists and laypeople across the United States marched for science on Earth Day, April 22. Addressing the crowd in San Diego, Keeling declared: “The climate change debate has been over for decades.”

Recent research shows that the global energy supply must be only 25 percent (or less) dependent on fossil fuels by 2100 to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Various countries are taking action to meet their own goals that are in accord with these global guidelines. China, for example, has introduced a cap on coal and will peak coal emission by 2030. Germany will ban combustion engines by 2030. Here in the U.S., high-profile advocates for the environment have funded a 20-year clean energy fund to the tune of $1 billion.

Britain recently set a record the world was happy to see: it had its first coal-free power day in 135 years. Now is the time for a concerted, worldwide effort, and hopefully we’ll start seeing more positive records.

Source:futurism.com

Your tap water contains fluoride, aluminum, lead, chloride, chlorine and lithium. Use cilantro to purify water


By using natural cilantro, however, you can purify your water to make it safe to drink in a 100% natural way.

Many people use plastic water filters to to remove undesirable things from tap wtaer, but using cilantro is a more natural, purer way in which to do this.

Tap water has been known to include chlorine, fluoride, and different amounts of dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, chlorides, sulfates as well as the metals iron, manganese, copper, aluminum, nitrates, insecticides and herbicides.

Scarier still, some tested tap water has shown traces of pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics and mood stabilizers, proving you never really know what could be in your water each time you turn on the tap.

Although found only in traces, heavy metal accumulate in your body if not flushed out, and can lead to serious health problems further down the line. Accumulative heavy metals have been linked to Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s.

Cilantro is so effective at removing these toxins because chemicals bind to cilantro, extracting themselves out of the water when they come into contact with it. It’s like nature’s own water filter.

Douglas Schauer from Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Indiana has been studying the effects of cilantro as a water purifier.

He said “The organic toxins we can take care of pretty easily with a number of different methods, but the only way to really get rid of those heavy metals is to treat them with filtering agents like activated charcoal, but those types of materials are kind of expensive. They are a little expensive for us to use, but they are very expensive for the people living in that region.”

Use a hanful of cilantro into about every 2 litres of water you wish to use to ensure cleaner, better water.

The History of Earth Day.


Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.

Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

The Idea

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

Earth Day Today

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism. Despite these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a relevant, powerful focal point. Earth Day Network brought 250,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.

Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more chapters—struggles and victories—into the Earth Day book.

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is launching an ambitious set of goals to shape the future of 21st century environmentalism.

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We must seize this moment to inspire global actions that safeguard the earth against the unprecedented challenges of the 21st century.

In the four years leading up to 2020, Earth Day Network will launch a series of bold, thematic initiatives to galvanize unparalleled global collaboration.

Earth Day 2016’s theme was Trees for the Earth. That year we set the ambitious goal of planting 7.8 billion trees – one for every person on the planet – by Earth Day 2020.

The theme for Earth Day 2017 is Environmental and Climate Literacy. Before we can solve the dire environmental threats facing us in the 21st century, we must build a global citizenry knowledgeable in environmental science and fluent in local and global ecological issues.

For Earth Day 2017 we’re launching toolkits to give schools, colleges, and community groups across the world the resources to hold their own teach-ins for Environmental and Climate Literacy or other Earth Day events.

Source:http://www.earthday.org

Canadian river vanished in just four days


First ever observed case of ‘river piracy’ saw the Slims river disappear as intense glacier melt suddenly diverted its flow into another watercourse

A view of the ice canyon that now carries meltwater from the Kaskawulsh glacier, seen here on the right, away from the Slims river and toward the Kaskawulsh river.
A view of the ice canyon that now carries meltwater from the Kaskawulsh glacier, seen here on the right, away from the Slims river and toward the Kaskawulsh river. 

An immense river that flowed from one of Canada’s largest glaciers vanished over the course of four days last year, scientists have reported, in an unsettling illustration of how global warming dramatically changes the world’s geography.

The abrupt and unexpected disappearance of the Slims river, which spanned up to 150 metres at its widest points, is the first observed case of “river piracy”, in which the flow of one river is suddenly diverted into another.

The continental-scale rearrangement was documented by a team of scientists who had been monitoring the incremental retreat of the glacier for years. But on a 2016 fieldwork expedition they were confronted with a landscape that had been radically transformed.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2017/04/yukon_map/giv-3902r6J93i3f2WM0/

“We went to the area intending to continue our measurements in the Slims river, but found the riverbed more or less dry,” said James Best, a geologist at the University of Illinois. “The delta top that we’d been sailing over in a small boat was now a dust storm. In terms of landscape change it was incredibly dramatic.”

Dan Shugar, a geoscientist at the University of Washington Tacoma and the paper’s lead author, added: “The water was somewhat treacherous to approach, because you’re walking on these old river sediments that were really goopy and would suck you in. And day by day we could see the water level dropping.”

The team flew a helicopter over the glacier and used drones to investigate what was happening in the other valley, which is less accessible.

“We found that all of the water that was coming out from the front of the glacier, rather than it being split between two rivers, it was going into just one,” said Best.

The Kaskawulsh River, seen here near its headwaters, is running higher now thanks to the addition of water that used to flow into the Slims River.
 The Kaskawulsh River, seen here near its headwaters, is running higher now thanks to the addition of water that used to flow into the Slims River. Photograph: Jim Best/University of Illinois

While the Slims had been reduced to a mere trickle, the reverse had happened to the south-flowing Alsek river, a popular whitewater rafting river that is a Unesco world heritage site. The previous year, the two rivers had been comparable in size, but the Alsek was now 60 to 70 times larger than the Slims, flow measurements revealed.

The data also showed how abrupt the change had been, with the Slims’ flow dropping precipitously from the 26 to 29 May 2016.

Geologists have previously found evidence of river piracy having taken place in the distant past. “But nobody to our knowledge has documented it happening in our lifetimes,” said Shugar. “People had looked at the geological record, thousands or millions of years ago, not the 21st century, where it’s happening under our noses.”

Prof Lonnie Thompson, a paleoclimatologist at Ohio State University who was not involved in the work, said the observations highlight how incremental temperature increases can produce sudden and drastic environmental impacts. “There are definitely thresholds which, once passed in nature, everything abruptly changes,” he said.

Between 1956 and 2007, the Kaskawulsh glacier retreated by 600-700m. In 2016, there was a sudden acceleration of the retreat, and the pulse of meltwater led to a new channel being carved through a large ice field. The new channel was able to deliver water to the Alsek’s tributary whose steeper gradient resulted in the Slims headwater being suddenly rerouted along a new southwards trajectory.

In a geological instant, the local landscape was redrawn.

Where the Slims once flowed, Dall sheep from Kluane National Park are now making their way down to eat the fresh vegetation, venturing into territory where they can legally be hunted. The formerly clear air is now often turned into a dusty haze as powerful winds whip up the exposed riverbed sediment. Fish populations are being redistributed and lake chemistry is being altered. Waterfront land, which includes the small communities of Burwash Landing and Destruction Bay, is now further from shore.

Sections of the newly exposed bed of Kluane Lake contain small pinnacles. Wind has eroded sediments with a harder layer on top that forms a protective cap as the wind erodes softer and sandier sediment below. These pinnacles, just a few centimeters high, are small-scale versions of what are sometimes termed “hoodoos.”
 Sections of the newly exposed bed of Kluane Lake contain small pinnacles. Wind has eroded sediments with a harder layer on top that forms a protective cap as the wind erodes softer and sandier sediment below. These pinnacles, just a few centimeters high, are small-scale versions of what are sometimes termed “hoodoos.” 

A statistical analysis, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, suggests that the dramatic changes can almost certainly be attributed to anthropogenic climate change. The calculations put chance of the piracy having occured due to natural variability at 0.5%. “So it’s 99.5% that it occurred due to warming over the industrial era,” said Best.

Thompson, who has documented glacial retreat on Mount Kilimanjaro, predicts that there will be an acceleration in the observations of river piracy events as glaciers retreat globally.

“I think we could see similar divergence in streams in the Himalayas as well as throughout the Third Pole region, the Andes of Peru, other sites in northern Canada and Alaska,” he said. “Often these events occur in remote and poor parts of our planet and thus go largely unnoticed by the larger population but greatly impact the livelihood of many families downstream.”

Source:www.theguardian.com

The Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables in 80 Years


Extinction of Fruits and Vegetables

Story at-a-glance

  • Ninety-three percent of seeds were lost from 1903 to 1993
  • Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply
  • The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction

Seeds represent the foundation of life. We depend on them for food, for medicine and for our very survival. In many ways, you can trace the underpinnings of any given culture through the heritage of their crops and seeds.

It wasn’t long ago when seeds were mostly the concern of farmers who, as the Worldwatch Institute put it, “were the seed producers and the guardians of societies’ crop heritage.”1 But this is no longer the case.

Once considered to be the property of all, like water or even air, seeds have become largely privatized, such that only a handful of companies now control the global food supply.

Agriculture has been around for 10,000 years, but the privatization of seeds has only occurred very recently. In that short time, seed diversity has been decimated, farmers have been put out of business due to rising seed costs… and the pesticide companies that control most seeds today have flourished.

According to Worldwatch:2

“…by the early 1900s, the U.S. and Canadian governments began promoting the development of large export-oriented agriculture industries based on only a few crops and livestock species.

To maximize uniformity and yields, seed breeding moved off the farm and into centralized public research centers, such as U.S. land grant universities. Variety development became commodity-oriented.

Scientific advances in the 1970s and ’80s heralded a new era in agriculture. To boost flat sales, Monsanto and other agrichemical companies ventured into genetic engineering and transformed themselves into the biotechnology industry.

They bought out traditional seed companies and engineered their herbicide-resistant genes into the newly acquired seed lines.”  It’s been all downhill from there…

93 Percent of Seeds Have Been Lost in the Last 80 Years

If you were alive in 1903, you would have been able to choose from more than 500 varieties of cabbage, 400 varieties of peas and tomatoes, and 285 varieties of cucumbers.

Eighty years later in 1983, the varieties had dwindled sharply, to just 28 varieties of cabbage, 25 varieties of peas, 79 for tomatoes, and just 16 varieties of cucumbers.

In a comparison of seeds offered in commercial seed houses in the early 1900s to the seeds found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory in 1983, researchers found 93 percent of seeds were lost over eight decades.

The National Geographic infographic below shows just how many varieties of fruits and vegetables appear near extinction.3  Even more concerning is the fact that the data is already more than 30 years old, and the problem may have gotten even worse since.

For the record, it’s not only fruits and vegetables that are disappearing. The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 plant species are in danger of extinction.4

Food Variety Infographic

Loss of Seed Diversity Coincides with the Consolidation of Seed Companies

Seeds have traditionally been saved and shared between farmers from one harvest season to the next. Farmers rarely ever had to buy new seed. Nature, when left alone, provides you with the means to propagate the next harvest in a never-ending cycle.

Now, however, farmers relying on patented seeds must buy them each year from pesticide companies like Monsanto. Saving such seeds is illegal because it is considered to be patent infringement.

Many farmers depend on Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) (and patented) seeds. More than 90 percent of US soybeans and 80 percent of corn acreage is planted with Monsanto’s patented GM seeds.5

For 200 years, the patenting of life was prohibited, especially with respect to foods. But all of that changed in 1978 with the first patent of a living organism, an oil-eating microbe, which opened the proverbial floodgates.

Patenting of life forms was never approved by Congress or the American public. But as far the GMO industry is concerned, they own a gene, wherever it ends up.

According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), as of August 2013 Monsanto owned 1,676 seed, plant, and other similar patents.6 This was the plan all along. As reported by Friends of the Earth International:7

“At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years.

The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it.

They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.”

Seed Industry Consolidation Increases Along with Seed Costs

In 1996, there were still about 300 independent seeds companies left in the US. By 2009, there were fewer than 100.8 With the rise of GM crops and seed patents, meanwhile, the pesticide industry has been snapping up an ever-growing share of the seed industry.

Just four agrichemical companies own 43 percent of the world’s commercial seed supply, and 10 multinational corporations hold 65 percent of global commercial seed for major crops.9 According to Philip Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University:10

“The commercial seed industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in the last 40 years as transnational corporations entered this agricultural sector, and acquired or merged with competing firms.

This trend is associated with impacts that constrain the opportunities for renewable agriculture, such as reductions in seed lines and a declining prevalence of seed saving.”

He further stated,“[t]he Big Six chemical/seed companies [Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Syngenta, DuPont and BASF] have increased their cross-licensing agreements to share genetically engineered traits, strengthening the barriers to entry for smaller firms that don’t have access to these expensive technologies.”11

Howard has also compiled the graphic below, which depicts changes in ownership involving major seed companies and their subsidiaries from 1996 to 2013.12

As for seed costs, prices for GM soybean seeds rose 325 percent from 1995 to 2011, with GM soybean seed costing about 47 percent more than non-GM soy.13 GM corn seed is also about double that of conventional seed, and according to the Center for Food Safety:14 “In addition to the cost of seeds, a ‘trait fee’ is charged—this fee has also precipitously risen from $4.5[0] per bag of soybean seed in 1996 to an estimated $17.50 by 2008.”

As the Worldwatch Institute reported:15 “With the profitability of seed increasing over the last 15 years, largely because of patents and contracts, the money and incentive for public institutions to develop new varieties are declining. Farmers also are saving less seed.”

seed industry structure

Insane Government Policy Targets Seed Swap at Community Library

The Cumberland County Library System in Pennsylvania set up a “seed library” at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library last year. Locals could borrow heirloom seeds for the growing season and then replace them at the end of the year. The library thought the system would encourage “residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring self-sufficiency skills.”16

All was well in the community… until the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) sent a letter telling them they were violating the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds. For good measure, the USDA also sent in a high-ranking official and lawyers to meet with the library. As Global Research reported, the USDA was only doing their job, stopping possible “agri-terrorism” at the hands of community residents planting heirloom tomatoes…17

“Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down. Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, ‘continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.’

Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of ‘agri-terrorism.’…While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.”18

In reality, “old-fashioned” seed swaps such as the one attempted at the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library are one of the best ways to secure non-GMO, heirloom seeds for your garden. You can try this on your own with friends and neighbors or local gardening clubs. The National Gardening Association, for instance, has an online seed swap that allows you to post either seeds you’d like to share or seeds you’re looking for. It’s a free service and, as they say on their site, “one gardener’s extras are another’s treasures.”19 If you’re interested in learning more, keep an eye out for the film “Seed: The Untold Story,” which is slated to be released in 2015.

Fukushima Radiation: Hundreds Of Millions Of Salmon Completely Die Off On U.S. West Coast.


Following the catastrophic effects of Fukushima, now millions of Salmon are missing from the pacific ocean and are presumed dead. Fears that ocean food chain has been damaged to the point that sea life could die off as a result. New data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have now found that Salmon numbers have dropped dramatically from the Sacramento River.

Fukushima Radiation: Hundreds Of Millions Of Salmon Completely Die Off On U.S. West Coast

New data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have now found that Salmon numbers have dropped dramatically from the Sacramento River. Enenews.com reports The Oregonian: Worst Klamath chinook run on record forecast — The worst run forecast on record for the Klamath River’s chinook salmon could close all salmon fishing along most of the Oregon Coast this summer… Mendocino Beacon: Returns of spawning Klamath River fall Chinook are projected to be the lowest on record in 2017.“The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy… “the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented”… “This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California”… said Council Chair Herb Pollard. Juneau Empire: Spring king fishing canceled by emergency order… the Juneau area will be closed for king salmon fishing… biologists expect a second-straight year of record-low king salmon returns on the Taku River. “We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean. The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon… Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean

“The salmon runs this year will present a challenge for ocean fishermen and managers throughout the West Coast,” said Executive Director Chuck Tracy… “the low forecast for Klamath River fall Chinook is unprecedented”… “This year will be an exceptionally difficult year for ocean salmon fisheries, especially in Oregon and California”… said Council Chair Herb Pollard. Juneau Empire: Spring king fishing canceled by emergency order… the Juneau area will be closed for king salmon fishing… biologists expect a second-straight year of record-low king salmon returns on the Taku River. “We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean. The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon… Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean

The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon.. Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean

Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean salmon pastures have failed… Minato-Tsukiji: Japan chum salmon landings the worst in 24 years — This year’s chum catch in Japan is very poor, with declines in landings not only in the Hokkaido region but also in Honshu… Also, chum sizes are also getting smaller… Russ George: Hundreds of Millions of Pacific Salmon Missing and Presumed Dead — Across 10,000 miles of North Pacific ocean pasture declarations from Japan and the USA are reporting a cataclysmic collapse of Pacific Salmon. The fish are tragically starving at sea as the plankton pastures have turned into clear blue lifeless deserts… Collapse of North Pacific ocean fish pastures has resulted in near total collapse of Pacific Salmon… It’s not just Pacific salmon that are dying in the North Pacific all forms of ocean life are being reported dead and dying [in] stunning numbers… Hokkaido Shimbun: Salmon landings in Hokkaido in 2016 are the lowest in three decades — The number of salmon caught in Hokkaido in 2016 plunged 29.4% from the previous year… The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check… Minato-Tsukiji: The harvest in Hokkaido was the worst in 24 years… Beginning with the Sanriku area, landings all over Honshu were below those of the previous year… The number of returning four-year-olds, which are regarded as the main shoal, was a record low…… Read More:

“We’ve been in a period of low productivity, not just on the Taku, but on several rivers up and down the coast,” Juneau Area Management Biologist Daniel Teske said… Nobody knows exactly why Southeast king salmon are struggling, but biologists do know where the fish are being affected: in the ocean… The increased die-off must be happening in a marine environment, Teske said, otherwise numbers on the four rivers wouldn’t fall at the same time… Undercurrent News: Japanese salmon fisheries in historic collapse — Landings in Hokkaido, Japan are the lowest in nearly three decades, reports the blog RussGeorge.net. The volume of salmon caught at main fishing ports, including Hokkaido, plunged 30-40% in 2016 from the previous year. The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years. The collapse has been confidently attributed to the starvation of four-year-old Chum salmon… Russ George: Japanese Salmon Fisheries in Historic Collapse… News from Japan is terrible for NW Pacific fish… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check and indeed is worsening every year… Given the shortfall of fish and the scrawny condition of the fish that were caught all evidence points to a cataclysmic collapse of ocean pasture primary productivity and fish starving at sea… Across the Pacific ocean salmon pastures have failed… Minato-Tsukiji: Japan chum salmon landings the worst in 24 years — This year’s chum catch in Japan is very poor, with declines in landings not only in the Hokkaido region but also in Honshu… Also, chum sizes are also getting smaller… Russ George: Hundreds of Millions of Pacific Salmon Missing and Presumed Dead — Across 10,000 miles of North Pacific ocean pasture declarations from Japan and the USA are reporting a cataclysmic collapse of Pacific Salmon. T

he fish are tragically starving at sea as the plankton pastures have turned into clear blue lifeless deserts… Collapse of North Pacific ocean fish pastures has resulted in near total collapse of Pacific Salmon… It’s not just Pacific salmon that are dying in the North Pacific all forms of ocean life are being reported dead and dying [in] stunning numbers… Hokkaido Shimbun: Salmon landings in Hokkaido in 2016 are the lowest in three decades — The number of salmon caught in Hokkaido in 2016 plunged 29.4% from the previous year… The figure represented the lowest level in 28 years… Local fishermen have been increasingly concerned over the fact that the trend of meager catch that continued in recent years has not been held in check… Minato-Tsukiji: The harvest in Hokkaido was the worst in 24 years… Beginning with the Sanriku area, landings all over Honshu were below those of the previous year… The number of returning four-year-olds, which are regarded as the main shoal, was a record low..

Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits.


Six more islands have large swaths of land, and villages, washed into sea as coastline of Solomon Islands eroded and overwhelmed.

The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons.
The remains of one of six partially eroded islands in the Solomons. 

Five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to rising seas and erosion, a discovery thought to be the first scientific confirmation of the impact of climate change on coastlines in the Pacific, according to Australian researchers.

The missing islands, ranging in size from 1 to 5 hectares (2.5-12.4 acres) were not inhabited by humans.

But six other islands had large swaths of land washed into the sea and on two of those, entire villages were destroyed and people forced to relocate, the researchers found.

Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas.
Many of the Solomon Islands are low-lying and prone to flooding from rising seas. 

One was Nuatambu island, home to 25 families, which has lost 11 houses and half its inhabitable area since 2011, the research said.

The study is the first that scientifically “confirms the numerous anecdotal accounts from across the Pacific of the dramatic impacts of climate change on coastlines and people,” the researchers wrote in a separate commentary on an academic website.

The scientists used aerial and satellite images dating back to 1947 of 33 islands, as well as traditional knowledge and radiocarbon dating of trees for their findings.

The study raises questions about the role of government in relocation planning, said a Solomon Islands official.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/maps/embed/may/2016-05-10T01:00:49.html
Map of Nuatambu Island.

“This ultimately calls for support from development partners and international financial mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund,” Melchior Mataki, head of the Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Council, was quoted as saying in the commentary.

The Green Climate Fund, part of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was founded to help countries deal with climate change.

Ad hoc relocation has occurred on the islands, the study said. Several Nuatambu islanders moved to a neighbouring, higher volcanic island, the study said. Other people were forced to move from the island of Nararo.

Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, is among those who had to relocate from Nararo. He told researchers: “The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea.”

Source:www.theguardian.com

Fluoride Officially Classified as a Neurotoxin in World’s Most Prestigious Medical Journal.


In recent years, many have protested to have industrial sodium fluoride removed from the water supply, as evidence states it is harmful from many scientific sources.

The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, had labeled fluoride as a neurotoxin alongside lead, arsenic and mercury. 

Author, Stefan Smyle, broke the news and explained by the Facebook page “Occupy Food,” which linked the published report from The Lancet Neurology, Volume 13, Issue 3, in March 2014, by authors Dr. Philip J. Landrigan and Dr. Phillippe Grandjean.

Industrial Chemicals Identified

In the summarization of the report, a review examined and found five different neurotoxicants: polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, lead, toluene, and methylmercury. The summary further states that 6 other developmental neurotoxicants were identified: fluoride, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, manganese, chlorpyrifos, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and tetrachloroethane.
ADHD, Dyslexia, and other cognitive impairments

In the report from The Lancet, the authors came up with a global prevention strategy stating, “Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity.”

Included in the report, it was noted that neurodevelopment disabilities, including dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and many various cognitive impairments, are on the rise in millions of children around the world, in what is called a “pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity.” They further say: “To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, we propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse.”

The report correlates with the 2013 findings that was found in a Harvard University meta-analysis funded by the National Institutes of Health. It found that children who lived in highly fluoridated water have “significantly lower” IQ scores than children who live in areas with low levels of fluoride in their water supply.

Fluoride also linked to Cancers

Fluoride has been linked to various forms of cancer, and has been in our drinking water. It is different in comparison with the natural calcium fluoride, that is used in dental offices and in drinking water supplies.

Across all of North America, fluoride is in the water supply, but in Europe it is banned and is the case in many other countries.