Monsanto’s Roundup may be linked to fatal kidney disease, new study suggests


A heretofore inexplicable fatal, chronic kidney disease that has affected poor farming regions around the globe may be linked to the use of biochemical giant Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide in areas with hard water, a new study has found.

The new study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Researchers suggest that Roundup, or glyphosate, becomes highly toxic to the kidney once mixed with “hard” water or metals like arsenic and cadmium that often exist naturally in the soil or are added via fertilizer. Hard water contains metals like calcium, magnesium, strontium, and iron, among others. On its own, glyphosate is toxic, but not detrimental enough to eradicate kidney tissue.

The glyphosate molecule was patented as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s. The company soon brought glyphosate to market under the name “Roundup,” which is now the most commonly used herbicide in the world.

The hypothesis helps explain a global rash of the mysterious, fatal Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology (CKDu) that has been found in rice paddy regions of northern Sri Lanka, for example, or in El Salvador, where CKDu is the second leading cause of death among males.

Furthermore, the study’s findings explain many observations associated with the disease, including the linkage between the consumption of hard water and CKDu, as 96 percent of patients have been found to have consumed “hard or very hard water for at least five years, from wells that receive their supply from shallow regolith aquifers.”

The CKDu was discovered in rice paddy farms in northern Sri Lanka around 20 years ago. The condition has spread quickly since then and now affects 15 percent of working age people in the region, or a total of 400,000 patients, the study says. At least 20,000 have died from CKDu there.

In 2009, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health introduced criteria for CKDu. Basically, the Ministry found that CKDu did not share common risk factors as chronic kidney disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and glomerular nephritis, or inflammation of the kidney.

Based on geographical and socioeconomical factors associated with CKDu, it was assumed that environmental and occupational variables would offer clues to the disease’s origins – or in this case, it came from chemicals.

The new study noted that even the World Health Organization had found that CKDu is caused by exposure to arsenic, cadmium, and pesticides, in addition to hard water consumption, low water intake, and exposure to high temperatures. Yet why that certain area of Sri Lanka and why the disease didn’t show prior to the mid-1990s was left unanswered.

Researchers point out that political changes in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s led to the introduction of agrochemicals, especially in rice farming. They believe that 12 to 15 years of exposure to “low concentration kidney-damaging compounds” along with their accumulation in the body led to the appearance of CKDu in the mid-90s.

The incriminating agent, or Compound “X,” must have certain characteristics, researchers deduced. The compound, they hypothesized, must be: made of chemicals newly introduced in the last 20 to 30 years; capable of forming stable complexes with hard water; capable of retaining nephrotoxic metals and delivering them to the kidney; capable of multiple routes of exposure, such as ingestion, through skin or respiratory absorption, among other criteria.

These factors pointed to glyphosate, used in abundance in Sri Lanka. In the study, researchers noted that earlier studies had shown that typical glyphosate half-life of around 47 days in soil can increase up to 22 years after forming hard to biodegrade “strong complexes with metal ions.”

Scientists have derived three ways of exposure to glyphosate-metal complexes (GMCs): consumption of contaminated hard water, food, or the complex could be formed directly within circulation with glyphosate coming from dermal/respiratory route and metals from water and foods.

Rice farmers, for example, are at high risk of exposure to GMCs through skin absorption, inhalation, or tainted drinking water. GMCs seem to evade the normal liver’s detoxification process, thus damaging kidneys, the study found.

The study also suggests that glyphosate could be linked to similar epidemics of kidney disease of unknown origin in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and India.

Recent investigations by the Center for Public Integrity found that, in the last five years, CKDu is responsible for more deaths in El Salvador and Nicaragua than diabetes, AIDS, and leukemia combined.

30 Things To Do Before You Die.


Most bucket lists include things like, “Go on an adventure in a far-off land,” “Learn a new language, or “Buy a dream car.” Although all these experiences can make our lives more exciting, the reason we crave these activities goes a little deeper.

What drives each of these desires is one common connector, an innate yearning to belong and to feel love. When we do what we love, we become an expression of love and our happiness is infectious.

As I check off my own adventure list — skydiving, going swimming with wild dolphins, climbing Mayan Ruins in Belize — I find that with each activity I complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment, purpose and self-worth.

Which led me to think about our human desire to make a difference and live life more fully. All of us want the same thing: to be happy and live a wonderful life. But how we meet this need often differs from person to person.

In the spirit of loving life to the fullest, I’ve revised my list of things to do before I die. These seemingly simple acts have transformed my life. What it comes down to is not how long your life is, but how wide you live it and these 30 ideas can help.

30 things to do before you die:

1. Stop worrying about debt.

2. Forgive your ex-lovers.

3. Stop trying to control your outcome.

4. Look in the mirror and love yourself unconditionally.

5. Leave the job you hate.

6. Find your purpose and live it full heartedly.

7. Adopt a furry friend.

8. Don’t feel guilty for holiday weight gain.

9. Trust that everything is in right order.

10. Travel to the place you keep thinking about.

11. Try something that scares you daily.

12. Be open to change.

13. Let go of your past.

14. Stop trying to change people.

15. Stop looking for answer outside of yourself.

16. Stop thinking you did something wrong.

17. Be your weird, crazy, beautiful self.

18. Follow your heart.

19. Risk everything for love.

20. Reject rejection.

21. See the world as a beautiful, safe, and loving place.

22. See everyone as equals.

23. Give up all attachments to stuff.

24. Recognize the journey is the reward.

25. Stay hopeful and optimistic in difficult situations.

26. Welcome all life lessons.

27. See the opportunities in every challenge rather than give up.

28. Live your values.

29. Inspire others by your own bigness.

30. Play with the world.

Yield Trends Are Insufficient to Double Global Crop Production by 2050.


Abstract

Several studies have shown that global crop production needs to double by 2050 to meet the projected demands from rising population, diet shifts, and increasing biofuels consumption. Boosting crop yields to meet these rising demands, rather than clearing more land for agriculture has been highlighted as a preferred solution to meet this goal. However, we first need to understand how crop yields are changing globally, and whether we are on track to double production by 2050. Using ~2.5 million agricultural statistics, collected for ~13,500 political units across the world, we track four key global crops—maize, rice, wheat, and soybean—that currently produce nearly two-thirds of global agricultural calories. We find that yields in these top four crops are increasing at 1.6%, 1.0%, 0.9%, and 1.3% per year, non-compounding rates, respectively, which is less than the 2.4% per year rate required to double global production by 2050. At these rates global production in these crops would increase by ~67%, ~42%, ~38%, and ~55%, respectively, which is far below what is needed to meet projected demands in 2050. We present detailed maps to identify where rates must be increased to boost crop production and meet rising demands.

Discussion and Conclusions

Numerous studies have shown that feeding a more populated and more prosperous world will roughly require a doubling of agricultural production by 2050 [1][7], translating to a ~2.4% rate of crop production growth per year. We find that the top four global crops – maize, rice, wheat, and soybean – are currently witnessing average yield improvements only between 0.9 to 1.6 percent per year, far slower than the required rates to double their production by 2050 solely from yield gains. This is because yield improvements are below ~2.4% per year in many areas of our most important agricultural lands. At these rates maize, rice, wheat and soybean production may increase by ~67%, ~42%, ~38%, and ~55% respectively, by 2050 globally. There is a 90% chance that the total global production increase from yields alone would be between 34–101% for maize, 21–59% for rice, 4–76% for wheat, and 13–84% for soybean by ~2050. Thus, if these yield change rates do not increase, land clearing possibly would be needed [3] if global food security is to increase or even maintained (Table 1).

We found that the top three rice and wheat producing nations are witnessing very low yield growth rates. China, India and Indonesia are witnessing rice yield increases of only 0.7%, 1.0%, and 0.4% improvement per year. China, India, and the U. S., the top three wheat producers similarly were witnessing yield increases of only 1.7%, 1.1%, and 0.8% per year, respectively. At these rates we found that yield driven production growth in India and China could result in nearly unchanged per capita rice harvests, but decline steeply in Indonesia.

In many of the smaller crop producing nations, maize, rice, or wheat yield improvement rates are below the 2.4% doubling rate. Unfortunately, a high percentage of total calories consumed in these countries are from these four crops. This is particularly true for maize throughout much of Africa (e.g., Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe), Central America (e.g., Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama), and parts of Asia (e.g., Nepal, Georgia).

Rice provides ~19% of dietary energy globally. Rice provides a higher percentage of total calories consumed in countries such as Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and North Korea, yet yields are declining, −0.1% to −3.2% per year. Elsewhere rice yields are increasing too slowly to overcome the impact of their population growth. In some of the world’s top rice producers, e.g. India and China, the per capita production may remain nearly unchanged. In numerous smaller rice producers across the world where rice is an important significant provider of daily dietary energy such as in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Benin, Togo, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, Nepal, and in Sri Lanka, the per capita production may also remain unchanged.

Wheat provides ~19% of global dietary energy. Wheat comprises an even larger portion of the diet in some countries where yields are declining, particularly Eastern European countries of Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine. In many countries, such as Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, wheat yield increases are too low to maintain their current per capita harvests.

Our analysis identifies where yield improvements are on track to double production and where investments should be targeted to increase yields. The observed rates of yield change result from several location-specific, socio-economic, and biophysical factors that are described elsewhere [23]. Many studies illustrate that intensification can be unsustainable [32][36], but several notable projects in Africa [37] and elsewhere [38] have shown that sustainable intensification is possible and necessary to boost global crop production.

Clearly, the world faces a looming and growing agricultural crisis. Yields are not improving fast enough to keep up with projected demands in 2050. However, opportunities do exist to increase production through more efficient use of current arable lands [4] and increasing yield growth rates by spreading best management practices and closing yield gaps under different management regimes [38][42] across the globe. A portion of the production shortfall could also be met by expanding croplands, but at a high environmental cost to biodiversity and carbon emissions [4][43][45]. Alternatively, additional strategies, particularly changing to more plant-based diets and reducing food waste [4][46][48] can reduce the large expected demand growth in food [3][4].

Source: PLOS

Russian Roulette — An Excerpt From the Wired E-Book John McAfee’s Last Stand.


Twelve weeks before the murder, John McAfee flicks open the cylinder of his Smith & Wesson revolver and empties the bullets, letting them clatter onto the table between us. A few tumble to the floor. McAfee is 66, lean and fit, with veins bulging out of his forearms. His hair is bleached blond in patches, like a cheetah, and tattoos wrap around his arms and shoulders.

More than 25 years ago, he formed McAfee Associates, a maker of antivirus software that went on to become immensely popular and was acquired by Intel in 2010 for $7.68 billion. Now he’s holed up in a bungalow at his island estate 15 miles off the coast of Belize. The shades are drawn so I can see only a sliver of the white sand beach and turquoise water outside. The table is piled with boxes of ammunition, fake IDs, Frontiersman bear deterrent, and a single blue baby pacifier.

McAfee picks a bullet off the floor and fixes me with a wide-eyed, manic intensity, his light blue eyes sparkling. “This is a bullet, right?” he says in the congenial Southern accent that has stuck with him since his boyhood in Virginia.

“Let’s put the gun down,” I tell him. I’d come here to investigate why the government of Belize was accusing him of assembling a private army and entering the drug trade. It seemed implausible that a wildly successful tech entrepreneur would disappear into the Central American jungle and become a narco-trafficker. Now I’m not so sure.

But he explains that the accusations are a fabrication. “Maybe what happened didn’t actually happen,” he says, staring hard at me. “Can I do a demonstration?”

He loads the bullet into the gleaming silver revolver and spins the cylinder.

“This scares you, right?” he says. Then he puts the gun to his head.

My heart rate kicks up; it takes me a second to respond. “Yeah, I’m scared,” I admit.

“We don’t have to do this.”

“I know we don’t,” he says, the muzzle pressed against his temple. And then he pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. He pulls it five times in rapid succession. There are only six chambers.

“Reholster the gun,” I demand.

He keeps his eyes fixed on me and pulls the trigger a sixth time. Still nothing. With the gun still to his head, he starts pulling the trigger incessantly. “I can do this all day long,” he says to the sound of the hammer clicking. “I can do this a thousand times. Ten thousand times. Nothing will ever happen. Why? Because you have missed something. You are operating on an assumption about reality that is wrong.”

It’s the same thing, he argues, with the government’s accusations. They were a smoke screen—an attempt to distort reality—but there’s one thing everybody agrees on: The trouble really got rolling in the humid predawn murk of April 30, 2012.

Source: http://www.wired.com