Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, Food, GMO, health, Science, sustainable development
Despite health concerns authorities push GMO, without fully admitting what they are doing
By Zhang Hong
On Aug. 17 safety certificates for genetically modified GMO varieties of corn and rice were due to be renewed by China’s Ministry of Agriculture, but the deadline came and went with no action being taken.
The failure to act was apparently not an oversight. Huang Dafang, a researcher from the Biotechnology Research Institute and a member of China’s Biosafety Committee, told state-run Xinhua news agency on Sept. 4 that the central authorities have an attitude of “active research and careful promotion” of GMOs.
Because local authorities fear public opinion against GMOs, Huang said, there was “a very slow procedure in getting approval” and the Aug. 17 deadline was missed.
The failure to act in this case amounts to a de facto approval. The curious handling of these safety certificates fits a general pattern of the Chinese regime moving toward a broad adoption of GMO food without publicly acknowledging this is happening.
Although authorities have never approved the commercial distribution of GMO rice in China, the environmental group Greenpeace reported that GMO rice was found in 4 of 15 samples bought by activists in randomly chosen supermarkets in November 2013 in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province.
Last year, the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported that 27 countries in Europe have found GMO-contaminated rice among Chinese exports, including 46 shipments in 2010, and 19 shipments in the first 10 months in 2011. According to People’s Daily, although all of the shipments were returned and supposedly destroyed, they were actually sold on the domestic Chinese market.
On July 31, China News published an article headlined, “GMO Rice Grown in Hubei on a Large Scale, Growers Refuse to Eat It Themselves.”
According to the article, farmers who grow GMO rice sell all of it, refusing themselves to eat it. Instead, they grow a small amount of conventional rice for themselves and their families. As a result, GMO rice has taken over.
A rice farmer named Dong Kejiang told China News, “It is now difficult to find conventional rice seeds.”
Not Just Rice
The Economic Observer, a magazine in mainland China, reported in June 2011 that a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences said at a forum hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture that GMO crops such as corn and rice have been illegally grown in China for a long time.
GMO corn varieties were found all over the country including in the provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Guizhou, Liaoning, and Jilin, according to the Economic Observer.
Much of the GMO food consumed in China is imported.
Professor Sun Wenguang from Shandong University Department of Economics told Epoch Times the Communist Party imports large quantities of GMO crops to alleviate food shortages, since GMO foods are relatively inexpensive. The Party intentionally conceals data such as the varieties of and lab results for GMO foods, according to Sun.
According to China-based Science Net, Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said China imports over 70 percent of its soybeans and more than 90 percent of its vegetable seeds, and most of them are genetically modified.
The extent to which the state is pushing GMO food can be seen in budgetary figures mentioned in a 2010 report.
China-based Science and Technology Daily quoted a member of the National People’s Congress who is also a director of a research institute for rice as saying that the central government had approved 30 billion yuan (US$4.9 billion) for the research and development of GMO crops, but only 180 million yuan (US$29 million) for non-GMO crops.
The state’s official data doesn’t reveal the extent of the use of GMO in China.
According to the data published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, China has issued GMO Safety Certificates for eight domestically developed, genetically modified crops, including varieties of tomato, cotton, petunia, sweet pepper, chili pepper, papaya, rice, and corn.
However, according to the Plant Genetic Engineering Center in Hebei Province, a government-funded research center, the Ministry of Agriculture has in fact issued as many as 1,110 certificates since 1996.
This plunge into GMOs may have presented Chinese society with a fait accompli.
“GMO has entered so many areas of society, it’s almost impossible to ban it now,” said Li Guoxiang.
The GMO rice whose safety certificate expired on Aug. 17 is named Bt Shanyou 63. It has a protein called Bt added to it, which helps the rice resist pests.
Dr. Wang Yuedan of the Department of Medicine at Beijing University noted that Bt is a type of bacterial protein that kills insects and bugs by dissolving and “melting” their intestines.
“The Bt protein is not a natural component of rice,” Wang said. “It is a bacterial protein. There have not been sufficient laboratory tests on the safety of this variety of rice.”
“We do not yet know what possible effects eating this variety of rice will have on human physiology, especially when this bacterial protein is absorbed into the blood stream,” Wang said. “This bacterial protein, when fully integrated into the human body, may cause allergies and may weaken the immune system.”
After Wang injected his lab rats with the Bt protein four times over a four-month period, he found their immune systems became abnormal, their spleens atrophied, and their white blood cell counts changed. He said this shows the Bt protein seriously affects mammals.
Yuan Longping is an agricultural scientist and popularly known as China’s “father of hybrid rice.” He is also a critic of the Bt rice.
During the China Development Forum 2014 Yuan told Xinhua, “A number of transgenic, insect-resistant rice varieties contain a toxic protein. If insects die after ingesting it, what happens when humans eat it? We have to be especially careful.”
Fudan University life sciences professor Yang Jinshui recently told Shanghai Daily, “The bacteria genes in GMO rice cannot be completely metabolized and eliminated.” Yang is a member of the genetic research team at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
“Rice is the staple food of the Chinese,” Yang said. “If [GMO rice is] industrialized and commercialized on a large scale, there is no turning back in our country. So we have to be extremely careful.”
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Tags: environmental issues, Food, GMO, Nature, Society, sustainable development
By Jonathan Benson, contributing writer to Natural News
No matter what personal views you might have on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), these relatively new biological creations are wreaking havoc on both the environment and human health, as thoroughly demonstrated in the scientific literature. And here are seven concrete examples of why:
1) GMOs lead to superbugs and superweeds. There is no denying the massive ecological changes that occur as a result of GMOs and their respective growing chemicals. Farmers all across North America now face a steadily increasing onslaught of “superweeds” and “superpests” that have spawned as a direct result of biotechnology.
Among 13 major pests examined as part of a 2011 study published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe, five of them were found to be completely immune to the poisons genetically implanted into Bt corn and cotton, for instance. And more recently, Brazilian farmers have reported that GMO corn is no longer resistant to pests.
2) GMOs are killing off our pollinators. GMO proponents often argue that, without biotechnology, the world would starve. But weedkillers and other chemicals applied to GMOs are killing off bees, butterflies and other pollinators that are vital in the production of one-third of the world’s food crops.
According to the latest data, honeybees, which are responsible for roughly 80 percent of the pollinating duties, are dying off at a rate of 30 percent per year. Neonicotinoids and other pesticides leave residues on crops, which are then picked up by pollinators, destroying their insides and causing them to eventually die. German professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz told SPIEGEL ONLINE that GMO crop chemicals appears to alter bees’ intestines, making them highly susceptible to parasites and infections.
3) GMOs allow corporations to control life. With natural seeds, farmers are free to save and reuse them year after year in self-sufficiency. But GMOs require seeds to be repurchased year after year, placing control of food and life into the hands of a select few transnational corporations, who, since they maintain an oligopoly, can charge high prices and keep farmers in their servitude.
4) GMOs cross-contaminate natural crops. If GMOs could exist in their own private, agrarian bubbles, their threat to humanity might be containable. But because they grow in the open air alongside other natural and organic crops that require pollination, the threat of cross-contamination is almost certain, which means the entire global food supply stands to eventually become contaminated.
5) Accidentally growing GMOs is a crime. Believe it or not, biotech corporations like Monsanto have actually sued non-GMO farmers whose crops were damaged as a result of genetic drift. This is because GMOs are patented intellectual property, meaning they can’t be grown without permission and payment.
6) GMOs place an unmanageable burden of debt on farmers. Farmers are typically lured into growing GMOs based on empty promises of increased yields and fewer crop losses. But when this doesn’t pan out, they become locked into a system of debt that, especially in poorer countries, often leads to total bankruptcy. This is part of the reason why some 1,000 Indian farmers now commit suicide every month, as they are left with no way out but to pay the piper money that they don’t have.
7) GMOs destroy biodiversity, the life-force of our planet. The viability of our planet is dependent upon a rich stock of plant life that is varied, abundant and well-balanced within the confines of a biodiverse ecosystem. But GMOs are the antithesis of all this, perpetuating a system of unsustainable monoculture that breeds soil erosion, mineral loss and, ultimately, death.
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Tags: Body & Mind, IT and Media, psychology, relationships, Science, sustainable development, technology
Children who spend five days away from their smartphones, televisions and other screens were substantially better at reading facial emotions afterwards, a new study has found.
The UCLA study suggests that children’s social skills are hurt by spending less and less time interacting face-to-face (Uhls et al., 2014).
Professor Patricia Greenfield, who co-authored the study, said:
“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs.
Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs.
The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, China, environmental issues, health, Nature, Society, sustainable development
By Hong Jiang
China’s environment has been so thoroughly assaulted by urban and industrial development that pollution in air, water, and soil has reached alarming levels. “It’s on a scale and speed the world has never known,” according to Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center. What do we know? What can be done?
Beijing’s air pollution reached a level so dramatically high in January 2013 that a new word, “airpocalypse,” was coined for it. The word has since been used to refer to the alarming air pollution in Beijing and other Chinese cities.
Beijing’s PM2.5 level reached beyond 500 in January 2013, with the high index recurring in 2014.
The smog-choked city experienced a visibility so low that it put schools and work at a halt.
World Health Organization (WHO) measures PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, as a health indicator, as it can penetrate the blood stream and enter the lungs, causing respiratory disease, lung cancer, and various other ailments. Safe exposure to PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter annually, and 25 micrograms per cubic meter over a 24-hour period—called PM2.5 index 12 and 25, respectively.
A research report released by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in February 2013 ranked Beijing as the second worst in living environment among 40 major cities in the world, according to the Daily Mail. The study considered Beijing “barely suitable” for living due to its severe air pollution.
Smog is especially severe in northern Chinese cities during the winter heating season when coal burning adds to air pollution. In October 2013, the northern city of Harbin had the record PM2.5 index of 1,000, with visibility reduced to less than 50 meters, according to data from China’s environmental protection agency.
China’s unbridled and coal-dependent development serves as the direct cause of air pollution. China consumes half of the coal in the world, used to fuel the world’s second-largest economy.
Air pollution has caused great harm to human health. Based on a “2010 Global Burden of Disease” study published in December 2013 in The Lancet, a British medical journal, air pollution led to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, which is about 40 percent of the global total.
Air pollution has reduced life expectancy by 5.5 years in Northern China, according to a study done by researchers from China, Israel, and the United States and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year.
China’s airpocalypse not only chokes the Chinese cities, but also affects other countries through long-range transport of air pollutants. About 40–60 percent of fine particulate pollution in Japan comes from China, said Hiroshi Tanimoto at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies to New York Times. The effect on Korea is even greater. Pollutants have crossed the Pacific to affect the western part of the United States.
China’s airpocalypse goes hand in hand with China’s rank as the top emitter of greenhouse gases, aiding the driver of global climate change and the threat of global warming.
Water ‘Too Dangerous to Touch’
If air pollution is bad enough, water pollution is an even worse problem and more difficult to resolve, said a report by The Economist.
“There are large parts of the urban water supply which are not only too dangerous to drink—they are too dangerous to touch,” said John Parker, globalization editor at The Economist, in a video interview. “You cannot even wash in them.”
Data from the Chinese government in 2011 shows that over half of China’s large lakes and reservoirs were too contaminated for human use. Groundwater, which accounts for one-third of China’s water resources, suffers similar pollution. Of the more than 4,700 groundwater-quality testing stations, about 60 percent showed “relatively bad” or worse pollution level. Half of the rural population lacks safe drinking water.
Chemical, pharmaceutical, and power plants spew pollutants into waterways, creating dead zones where they flow. A notable example is central China’s Huai River, pronounced dead by Elizabeth Economy in her well-known 2004 book on China’s environment, “The River Runs Black.”
If China’s air pollution makes airpocalypse, water pollution has created incidents that attract international attention. In 2007, Lake Tai suffered from a heavy carpet of blue-green algae that is cancer-inducing, and its gruesome images have circulated on the Web. The 2006 incident of a chemical spill contaminated Songhua River in Northeast China, and the government cover-up was widely criticized. Many more incidents, however, go under reported.
Some incidents of water pollution can be sadly surreal. Urban waterways in the eastern city of Wenzhou were so polluted by chemicals that a lit cigarette set the water on fire, as reported in the Daily Mail earlier this year. This is not the first time a river was on fire, and other images of water pollution show water turning black or red or orange, or carpeted with algae or dead fish.
A report on chinadialogue indicates that in 2012 over half of China’s cities had water of “poor” or worse quality. Ma Jun, an environmentalist who heads a Beijing-based green NGO, told chinadialogue, “Tackling water pollution is as serious and worthy a challenge for the authority as combating air pollution … water pollution poses a bigger health threat to about 300 million people living in rural areas.”
Polluted Soil and Food
China Daily, an English-language newspaper published by the Chinese regime, ran an editorial stated, “Soil contaminated with heavy metals is eroding the foundation of the country’s food safety and becoming a looming public health hazard.”
Nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land Resources. Chemicals such as cadmium, nickel, arsenic, lead, and mercury poison the soil, as they are dumped into waters used for irrigation.
Early this year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection admitted that there are 450 pollution-related “cancer villages” in China. Prior to that, soil pollution and its threat to health and food received limited media attention, and the Chinese government had kept data on soil pollution as a “state secret.”
The change was partly brought about by a recent scandal of cadmium in rice that set off a Hunan rice scare. According to the mainland business magazine Caijing, the city of Guangzhou inspected local restaurants and found excessive cadmium level in 44.4 percent of rice and rice products. Most of the rice came from Hunan Province.
According to Caixin’s New Century Magazine, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other institutions had reported on cadmium pollution in 2009. They sampled 100 rice paddies near mines throughout Hunan Province, and found that 65 percent of the samples exceeded the cadmium safety limit. The contaminated rice had entered the local and national market.
WHO’s website states, “Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal, and the respiratory systems.” The heavy metal is leached from mines and chemical factories in Hunan.
Also under the spotlight are Hunan’s new cancer villages, among which, Shuanqiao. China Youth reported that 26 people in Shuanqiao died of cadmium poisoning. Soil samples there showed cadmium content 300 times the permitted level, and 509 of its 2,888 villagers were tested positive for cadmium poisoning. The chemical came from the Xianghe Chemical Plant, whose pollution villagers have complained about since 2006. This example is just the tip of the iceberg of chemical poisoning in China.
Worrisome ‘War Against Pollution’
Facing catastrophic environmental pollution, the Chinese government has become alert. Prime Minister Li Keqiang announced early this year at the National People’s Congress, “We will declare war against pollution.” Li said, “Smog is affecting larger parts of China, and environmental pollution has become a major problem, which is nature’s red-light warning against the model of inefficient and blind development.”
The Chinese government has plans to clean up the environment. In September 2013, the government launched a $280 billion plan to clean up the air, and early this year, it announced an investment of $300 billion to tackle water pollution. Experts are uncertain, however, whether these investments will change the situation.
What is worrisome is the regime’s persistent attitude of a “war against nature,” that has rendered past investments in the environment limited in their effect. In Mao’s war against nature, draconian actions in agriculture destroyed the fabric of the rural ecosystem. Post-Mao pursuit of economic development has only trumped the past trend with unprecedented pollution in air, water, and soil from industrial and urban growth.
Experts on China believe the root of China’s environmental problems lies with the top-down control by the Communist Party, which has been trapped in corruption and a lack of political accountability and rule of law. Economic incentives for officials have continued to leave pollution unchecked. As some polluting factories are closed, others pop up.
“Environmental problems are one of the main outcomes of a one party-ruled, corrupted, non-humane government,” said Ahkok Wong, a university lecturer in Hong Kong, to the ROAR Magazine.
Environmental pollution has increasingly become a source of discontent and protest in China. In the 1990s, rural protests in China already included pollution-related land loss. Since the 2000s, large-scale protests expanded to cities where citizens reject polluting factories and plants. According to a Pew survey, environmental issues accounted for half of the protests in 2013 in China.
Short of fundamental changes in the political system, it is hard to foresee major environmental improvements.
As Mao obliterated traditional Chinese belief of harmony between human beings and heaven, and as the post-Mao communist regime continues to favor development over the environment, the moral foundation of the Chinese people has also been eroded, aiding corruption and disregard for others and the environment.
Without a rebuilding of a moral system, the Chinese environment will continue to suffer, along with the Chinese people.
Hong Jiang is associate professor and chair of the geography department at University of Hawaii at Manoa. She specializes in China’s environment and culture.
For more photos: China’s Environmental Catastrophe
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Tags: Body & Mind, cellphones, Children, environmental issues, health, IT and Media, Society, sustainable development, technology
By June Fakkert
NEW YORK—Scientists don’t all agree about how much electromagnetic radiation risks cellphones and other devices pose to fetuses and young children, but governments, health organizations, and insurance companies are advocating precautions.
The rapid development of a baby in the womb is a stunningly delicate process, and disruptions to it can have life-long repercussions.
“We know that exposures that occur during pregnancy can have life-long impact due to these window periods of vulnerability that occur as the brain grows and develops,” said Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein, an integrative pediatric neurologist board-certified in adult and child neurology and pediatrics. She spoke at a recent press conference for the BabySafe Wireless Project, an initiative to raise awareness about risks of electromagnetic exposure in young children.
Children have smaller brains, thinner skulls, softer brain tissue, and a higher number of rapidly dividing cells, which makes them more susceptible to damage from cellphone exposure than adults, Dr. Shetreat-Klein said.
“Disturbing scientific data continues to be revealed regarding the effects of cellphone radiation on developing brains.”
One such study was lead by Dr. Hugh Taylor, chair of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at Yale University School of Medicine.
Researchers put cellphones in the cages of pregnant mice, turned some of the cellphones on continuously during the pregnancy, and kept others completely off. The young mice whose mothers were exposed to radiation from the activated cellphones were more hyperactive and had poorer memories than the young mice whose mothers lived with the powered-off cellphones.
“They were running around these cages bouncing off the walls, not a care in the world, something that in our eyes resembles attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children,” Taylor said at the press conference.
Electromagnetic Fields and Common Sense
Underlying the debate about the risks of electromagnetic radiation is the fact that electromagnetic fields can be natural—such as the build-up of ions in the air before a thunderstorm, as well as manmade—such as the energy of a microwave oven that boils your tea water in two to three minutes.
The frequency of an electromagnetic field determines its effect on the human body. So while we aren’t afraid of being exposed to pre-storm air, common sense (and manufacturer safety mechanisms) stop us from sticking our hands into an active microwave to see if our water is hot.
The frequency of the radiation emitted by cellphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi routers falls somewhere between storm air and microwaves, and their safety profile is a murky gray area that requires consumers to stay informed and aware, and to take precautions—even if the science isn’t conclusive.
Cellphone Safety Standards
A reason researchers aren’t likely to definitively prove that cellphone radiation harms children is that it would be unethical to conduct necessary studies. Such experiments would require test and control groups, and no parent would sign up their child to be in the test group, Dr. Devra Davis points out.
Davis is the president of Environmental Health Trust and award-winning author of “Disconnect: The Truth About Cellphone Radiation, What the Industry Is Doing to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.”
According to Davis, cellphones were originally tested on full-grown men and have never been tested on women and children.
Cellphone safety standards have also not been updated in 17 years, since smartphones, tablets, and Wi-Fi became ubiquitous, and the sight of a radiation-emitting device in a child’s hand became common.
Now toy manufacturers produce plastic teething cases with colorful plastic bells and whistles that allow the youngest babies to get really close to their screens, reminding Davis of the baby suits that were once made with asbestos fibers.
The take-home message is one of precaution—that every parent can limit young children’s electromagnetic exposure.
You can keep yourself updated on Twitter with #knowyourexposure
Below is a summary of what some concerned parties say about radiation and exposure to children:
The United States government does not acknowledge known risk of using cellphones that have a specific absorption rate (SAR—the amount of radio frequency absorbed by the body) of 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg) or less.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland rated the Apple iPhone 4 at 1.07 W/kg and the Samsung SGH-E330 at 1.17 W/kg. Nokia and Motorola phones tested lower, according to the report.
The European Parliament recommends that schools and classrooms “give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises.”
French law requires that all cellphones sold in the country have SAR clearly labeled as well as the recommendation that users limit cellphone exposure to their heads by using a headset. It also bans advertising cellphones to children under 14 years old and bans giving or selling any device specifically designed for children under 6 that emits radio frequency.
Israel has banned Wi-Fi in preschool and kindergarten classrooms and limited the Wi-Fi to an hour a day in first- to third-grade classrooms.
Belgium has banned the sale of mobile phones to children under 7.
The World Health Organization reports that so far “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”; however, it also cautions that “the electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phones are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
High priority on the World Health Organization’s research agenda is developing a better understanding of the effects of radiation in utero and on young children.
The German Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents limit children’s use of mobile phones.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that children “are disproportionately impacted by all environmental exposures, including cellphone radiation,” in a letter last year urging the Federal Communications Commission to adopt radiation standards that protect children. The AAP also recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2.
In the past, Lloyds of London and Swiss Re, two major re-insurers, have both refused to cover cellphone companies for health-related lawsuits filed by cellphone users.
In 2010, Lloyds wrote that “EMF cases could be more complex than asbestos claims” and in its 2013 report on emerging risks, Swiss Re put the “unforeseen consequences of electromagnetic fields” in the highest impact category for 10 years down the road.
10 Ways to Reduce Your Wireless Exposure
BabySafeProject.org gives the following tips:
1. Avoid carrying your cellphone on your body (that is, in a pocket or bra).
2. Avoid holding any wireless device against your body when in use.
3. Use your cellphone on speaker setting or with an “air tube” headset.
4. Avoid using your wireless device in cars, trains, or elevators.
5. Avoid cordless phones, especially where you sleep.
6. Whenever possible, connect to the Internet with wired cables.
7. When using Wi-Fi, connect only to download, then disconnect.
8. Avoid prolonged or direct exposure to Wi-Fi routers.
9. Unplug your home Wi-Fi router when not in use (that is, at bedtime).
10. Sleep as far away from wireless utility meters (“smart” meters) as possible.
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Tags: environmental issues, Nature, sustainable development
Bees are the most important thing… Without bees, very little food… Or you have to do like in China where so many bees have disappeared because of pollution, the have to do it manually. But, they are many people…
Originally posted on GARDEN OF EADY:
Do you have a bee-friendly garden?
The lovely bees are looking for 2 things in your garden: nectar and pollen. If you think that your garden does not need bees, you might be wrong. You may know that some plants are pollinated by birds, butterflies, moths and wasps, but the most of the work is done by bees.
How can you make your garden bee-friendly? It is very easy.
Here are a few tips for you.
• It is recommended to plant several colors of flowers. Bees love especially white, yellow, blue, purple and violet.
• You can plant flowers of different shapes
• Do not use pesticides because they might kill bees too
• Choose plants which are flowering through spring, summer and fall
• Grow flowers in clumps
• Plant herbs like: bee balm, borage, catnip, coriander, fennel, lavender, mint, rosemary, sage, thyme
• Use native plants (bees…
View original 61 more words
By Ethan A. Huff, contributing writer to Natural News
The federal government has awarded a $750,000 grant to Washington State University WSU in Pullman to investigate the merits of organic farming in eradicating pests without the use of chemicals. Inspired by a survey conducted by researchers at nearby Oregon State University, the research project to be funded with the grant will look at how organic growing methods such as crop rotation, biodiversity and utilizing insects rather than killing them with pesticides can actually help solve the problems that plague conventional agriculture.
Heading the project is Bill Snyder, a professor of entomology at WSU, who with the help of his colleagues will analyze DNA collected from both the stomachs of predator bugs and from crops to see how the complex interactions between the two can provide sustainable solutions to the problem of crop pests. Entitled “CSI: Organic,” the three-year project will investigate the apparent successes of organic farming to identify the logistics behind how it is both beneficial and preferable to modern, chemical-based agricultural methods.
Specifically, Snyder hopes to learn more about the intricacies of predator bugs and how they affect soil health in order to figure out ways that, as an entire system, bugs, crops and soil can co-exist in harmony with one another to keep everything in a proper balance. Diversifying crops, for instance, rather than growing just one type of crop over a large acreage is one way that organic farming helps keep pests in check.
“We hope that we learn some really general lessons about how to make pests less of a problem,” says Prof. Snyder, as quoted by The Seattle Times, about the endeavor. “I’m glad when I see an aphid on something I get [at the store,] because at least I know it’s really organic.”
By Mike Adams, Naturalnews.com
When it comes to foods, superfoods and even nutritional supplements from China, “organic” is largely a hoax. This is my opinion, of course, but I’ve been researching the issue quite extensively as the key decision maker for new products in the Natural News Store. And I’ve come to the conclusion that “organic” from China is largely a fraud. Here’s why…
First off, you’re going to be shocked to learn that there is no limit to how much mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and aluminum is allowed in “organic” products.
It’s a fact: USDA organic standards place NO LIMITS on levels of heavy metals contamination of certified organic foods. Even further, there is no limit on the contamination of PCBs, BPA and other synthetic chemicals that’s allowed in certified organic foods, superfoods and supplements.
At this point, you’re probably shaking your head in disbelief and thinking, “No, that can’t be true. Organic standards must check for heavy metals and chemical contamination, right?”
No! “Organic” certifies a process of how food is grown or produced. It certifies that the farmer doesn’t add pesticides, herbicides, petroleum-based fertilizer, metals or synthetic chemicals to the crop (among other things), and it certifies that the soil must be free from such things for a certain number of years before organic certification is approved.
But organic certification does nothing to address environmental sources of pollution such as chemtrails, contaminated irrigation water, and fallout from industrial or chemical factories that might be nearby. A certified organic farmer can use polluted water on their crops and still have the crops labeled “organic.”
For this reason: the environment in which organic foods are produced is critical to the cleanliness of the final product.
Organic farming in a clean environment produces clean, organic foods. But organic farming in a polluted environment produces contaminated organic foods. And China is one of the most polluted chemical cesspools on the planet. The pictures on the right show some scenes from China, a country suffocating under a pollution nightmare.
As you view these pictures, ask yourself: Would you eat food grown there? Even if it were sold by Whole Foods and labeled “organic?”
China is an environmental nightmare
China is a nation that has virtually no environmental regulation enforcement. In China, anything goes: You can dump mercury into rivers. You can spray raw human sewage sludge on crops. You can produce factory-made chemicals and blow the waste products right into the air through smokestacks. In China, many rivers are so toxic that, from time to time, they actually catch on fire and burn.
It’s so bad that a Chinese environmental official was recently offered over US$30,000 to take a 20-minute swim in a local river.
He DECLINED. Why? Because the river there is so polluted that swimming in it would mean certain death.
It is this water that’s often used in “organic” food and superfood production in China. So even though the farmer is following organic process standards, he may be using irrigation water that’s wildly contaminated with metals, chemicals and even pesticide residues. He may be spraying hormone drugs on the crops because there’s a pharmaceutical factory upstream.
Here’s the kicker: In a country with virtually no environmental laws, “organic” food production is largely a fraud because environmental sources contaminate the foods or superfoods being produced there.
There are some exceptions to this, by the way. Notably goji berries are grown at high altitude, far away from the pollution of China’s cities and rivers. Goji berries sourced from China tend to be very clean and have very low levels of contamination. There are no doubt other exceptions to the rule, but the difficulty is in knowing what to trust that comes out of China.
In North America, “organic” is legitimate precisely because North America has far more strict environmental standards. Organic is clean food, responsibly produced, and consistently less contaminated than conventional food. The same is true across Europe, where organic standards are also strict. But in China, “organic” is often a joke. Almost a hoax, in my opinion.
And the laboratory tests bear this out. For example, we just published an investigative story on chlorella showing that “organic” chlorella from China is polluted with nearly ten times the aluminum level of “organic” chlorella from Taiwan. And the cleanest chlorella we found in terms of metals contamination was actually a non-organic chlorella produced in Korea.
China is a nation that lacks Ethics
Remember, too, that China is a communist regime. It is a country where all religion has been outlawed and the people are never taught ethics or morality. They have no moral compass. Across China, the majority of the population believes that the best way to get ahead is to CHEAT, lie and steal, even if it means harming someone else in the process.
Remember: China is the country where they put melamine in infant formula, knowing that it will kill little children. China is the country where the paint on children’s toys contains obscene levels of brain-damaging lead. China is a nation of shortcut-takers who will doanything to cheapen a product as long as they can cover it up and trick the buyer. This is why “made in China” has, for decades, been synonymous with “crap quality.”
Here’s a little note that will interest pet owners: If you buy pet treats made in China, you are murdering your pet with the most insane chemicals imaginable. The stuff that goes into some pet treats made in China is highly toxic and causes cancer. This is one of the main factors behind the alarming rise of cancers among dogs and cats in North America.
All this isn’t just secondhand information, by the way: I lived in Asia for two years and traveled extensively throughout the region. I speak a fair amount of Mandarin (Chinese), and I’ve interacted with lots and lots of people from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I can tell you that Taiwan is a country with much greater honesty, integrity and quality than China. In Taiwan, religion is allowed and openly practiced (Buddhism, mostly). In Taiwan, there is a sense of responsibility to customers. There is a philosophy of striving for quality. Taiwan is to China like revolutionary America was to the British Empire. Taiwan is a island nation of hard-working, creative, innovative entrepreneurs, and when I look to import products from Asia, I always try to find it in Taiwan first because I know Taiwan means quality.
But in China, it’s exactly the opposite: There is no sense of responsibility to customers. The overriding philosophy is to screw the customer, even on the very first order, knowing that the customer will never buy from you again! In China, the idea is to CHEAT people rather than make them happy. You see this all the way to the top of the government which is, of course, a police state communist regime where laws are enforced at gunpoint against a completely disarmed and helpless population that has no rights. China is a culture of corruption, deception and exploitation.
Now, of course, there are people in China who rebel against all this. There are exceptions to the rule, and there may even be some honest organic food producers in China that buck the trend. Not all mainland Chinese are bad people. Many wish to overthrow the corrupt government and restore freedom, liberty and justice to the country. But because they are all disarmed (China has no Bill of Rights), they are powerless against a dictatorial government. They are slaves to the system.
Health Ranger Select brand BANS all foods, superfoods and ingredients from China except for goji berries
I made a decision months ago to ban anything produced in China from my own label, with the exception being goji berries. If a food, superfood or supplement has my name on it, I will not use ingredients sourced from China unless I know and can VERIFY the end-product cleanliness of the product.
So if you see the “Health Ranger Select” brand or the “Storable Organics” brand, know that it’s clean and very carefully sourced.
We source from the USA, Canada, European countries, Peru and even Thailand for some ingredients. Mexico is acceptable for some ingredients as well. But China is a big red flag. I simply can’t trust that most foods, superfoods or supplements from China are going to be consistently clean and honest.
China is the kind of country where you order a sample of a raw material — say pomegranate juice powder — and the first batch you receive is really clean and passes all the lab tests. So you order 5000kg of the stuff, and when it arrives, it’s all full of lead and pesticides.
Chinese medicine herbs from China are notoriously contaminated with lead. The same is true for green tea and many other ingredients that naturally absorb heavy metals.
All sorts of products at Whole Foods, by the way, are grown in China but certified “organic.” What a joke.
Given that China has virtually no environmental enforcement whatsoever, the very idea that something grown in China can be certified “organic” is absurd. Without a clean environment, you can’t product clean food even if you follow organic growing standards.
So why do so many formulators and food companies in the USA still buy ingredients from China? Because they’re CHEAP.
Buying from China means higher profit
Here’s the dirty little secret of the natural products industry… and yes, the “dirty” is quite literal in this case: Raw materials from China are cheap! Across the board, raw materials (foods, superfoods, supplements) from China are about 1/4th the cost of materials grown in North America or Europe.
This means getting your ingredients from China grants your product a lot more profit in the marketplace. For those selling through Whole Foods — whose product shelves are littered with ingredients made in China — this profit margin is essential to economic survival.
If you’re buying a superfood powder sold at Whole Foods and paying $50 at retail, the actual ingredient cost that goes into that superfood canister is often as little as $5. So sourcing those materials from China is crucial to having the margins. Whole Foods might only pay your company $22 or so for a product they sell at $50. So your company has to buy the materials, pay for shipping, insurance, labor, packaging, formulations and everything else and still somehow make a profit to stay in business. So you source from China. You make a really nice-looking label, you get it “certified organic” with a nice USDA logo on it, and you sell it to Whole Foods which adds another layer of legitimacy to the product.
But inside the bottle, there could be mercury hiding in there. Or pharmaceutical residues. Or pesticide residues. Or just about anything, including melamine.
Now, obviously Whole Foods has a level of quality control in place, and they do require C of A’s for products they carry. But China is expert at FAKING these documents and tricking importers, formulators and manufacturers.
In China, the idea of forging a laboratory analysis document is no big deal. Fabricating fake documents is routine. You have to understand the philosophy of these people living without any code of ethics, surviving under a police state communist regime: There are no ethics. No values. No moral compass. Forging a fake lab report is no different to them than planting seeds: it’s just one more step needed to make money. There is no moral difference in their minds between telling the truth and lying. It’s a “relativistic” morality philosophy.
I’m not saying all people in China are liars and deceivers. But a lot of them are. Anyone who has actually lived there for any length of time knows exactly what I’m talking about. This is a country where deceptive manufacturers take white sesame seeds and coat them in toxic black ink just to sell them as “black sesame seeds.” This is a country where infant formula producers spike their formula with kidney-destroying melamine in order to make an extra five cents a pound, even while killing babies by the thousands. THEY DON’T CARE. China is a nation that has abandoned morality and even attacked it. This is a country where the Falun Gong group of meditation advocates and yoga practitioners is arrested and thrown in prison by an extremely oppressive, dictatorial government.
Look, cultures are different everywhere around the world. You want to hang out with really nice, intelligent and honest people? Get yourself some Dutch friends. They’re the most upstanding, moral, educated bunch of folks you’ll ever meet.
You want to hang out with highly-innovative rule followers? Get yourself some German friends. They follow the rules. And they’re smart, innovative people on top of that. Brilliant minds. Some of the greatest scientists in history came out of Berlin.
You want some friends who are wildly creative? Those are Americans. Americans make the best movies, the best music (well, along with UK musicians anyway), and a lot of the best computer software on the planet. Americans are rebels. They break the rules and forge a new path. America is a nation founded on rebellion.
But if you’re looking for people who will stab you in the back in a business deal, go the China. There, you will find the most back-stabbing, dishonest cheaters and liars you’ll probably ever meet, short of Nigera’s “Prince Nubula” whose emails promise you’ll receive a million dollars if you only send them $5,000 first.
Why you won’t hear this truth anywhere else
I know that telling the truth is unpopular and not politically correct. I’m not interested in winning a popularity contest. What I’m doing here is flat-out telling the truth that most other people are too afraid to say on their own: The very idea of “organic” coming out of China is a disturbing contradiction.
And organic standards have a huge gap in the fact that they don’t require foods to actually be free from mercury or other contaminants. Overall, organic is a wonderful standard and I’ve been a strong advocate of organic, but when a “USDA organic” label is slapped on a product grown in China, you really have to scratch your head and say, “Yeah, it might be organic, but is it clean?”
It may be, but you just don’t know until you test it. “Organic” grown in the USA can be assumed to be clean, but organic grown in China must be assumed contaminated unless proven otherwise.
Until China enforces some really strict environmental standards, “organic” from China is largely a fraud in my opinion. It’s a hoax. You can lie to yourself and say, “Well it’s ORGANIC so it must be clean!” but you’ll be swallowing mercury, lead, pesticides and other synthetic chemicals in various amounts.
Laboratory tests confirm everything I’m telling you here. This is the dirty little secret of the organic food industry that nobody’s talking about.
China’s environmental nightmare
Just how polluted is China’s environment? As I mentioned above, it’s so bad that a Chinese environmental official was recently offered over US$30,000 to take a 20-minute swim in a local river. He declined the offer, as would any sane person.
Are these the same rivers that are being used to produce “organic” crops in China? You have to wonder. A river can be so inundated with smelting factory runoff and chemical pollution that even bacteria struggle to survive in it; yet this water can be legally sprayed on crops that are exported to America as “organic.”
If you buy “organic” foods, superfoods or supplements grown in China, you need to know about this.
As The Guardian reports:
“A recent government study found that groundwater in 90% of China’s cities is contaminated, most of it severely. The head of China’s ministry of water resources said last year that up to 40% of the country’s rivers are “seriously polluted”, and an official report from last summer found that up to 200 million rural Chinese have no access to clean drinking water.”
By the way, this is another story altogether, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that China is headed for an environmental collapse. The country has polluted itself far beyond the point of long-term sustainable life. Children are being born as mutants. Rivers support no fish life. Soils are building up obscene levels of contaminants and becoming so toxic that crop yields are affected. Cities are so filled with airborne pollution that the mere act of breathing causes cancer. And on top of that, China’s one-child policy has resulted in mass gendercide where baby girls are routinely — and yes, I mean ROUTINELY — murdered, drowned, suffocated, etc., because the family wants a son, not a daughter.
In its quest for economic power, China has poisoned itself to death, and now it’s only a matter of time before the nation collapses in a cesspool of toxicity and lies. The economic “boom” of China is nearly over, and it will be followed by an environmental implosion so huge and disgusting that the world will be absolutely horrified. Remember: China is so corrupt that it won’t stop factories from openly dumping toxic waste directly into the groundwater supplies. Instead of acknowledging the source of pollution, Chinese officials simply accept bribes and cover it up. The corruption in China is so deeply rooted in the culture that honesty and accountability can never overcome the deception.
With some exceptions, when you buy food grown in China, you are buying food produced in the most toxic environment on planet Earth, grown by some of the most deceptive and most corrupt liars and back-stabbers on the planet, all ruled by one of the most dictatorial and tyrannical governments history has ever known. That about sums it up.
Ultimately, China has a terminal environmental crisis on its hands, compounded by an eternally corrupt, dictatorial communist regime government that oppresses freedom and outlaws religion while forcing families to kill their own baby girls under its population control mandates.
In summary, China suffers from:
• An environmental nightmare
• An almost complete abandonment of morals and integrity
• A deeply corrupt communist police state political system that mandates the mass murder of baby girls
Is this the vibe you really want to be putting into your body?
Originally published by http://www.naturalnews.com
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By Paul Darin
Since the 1950s, many technologies that were once considered to be science fiction have become science fact. The impossible dream of controlling the weather with technology might not only be technologically possible, but it may be happening at the hands of governments around the world.
Using technology to modify the weather is nothing new. In 2007, the Chinese government created an artificial snowfall in Nagqu County, Tibet. The process involved dispersing silver iodide into the atmosphere. The 2007 snow was not the only storm of its kind—the Chinese government has employed similar methods since then in an attempt to alleviate drought conditions.
In fact, this method of weather modification has been ongoing since the 1940s. Project Cirrus during the 1940s and ‘50s and Project Stormfury during the 1960s and ‘70s attempted to use the method of “seeding” hurricanes in order to weaken or destroy them.
The projects were conducted by the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), according to USA Today. According to the NOAA, the experiments were unsuccessful due to “geographical restrictions.” It was also difficult to determine if the hurricanes had weakened naturally or as a result from the chemical seeding.
The U.S. government may have gone a step further in influencing weather not with ballistics or chemicals, but with electromagnetic energy.
The High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (Project HAARP) out of Gakona, Alaska, was managed by the Air Force, the Navy, and others from its inception in 1993 to its alleged closure last year. HAARP consisted of a 180 large antennae arrays, each about 72 feet tall, that used electromagnetic radio wave radiation with a range of 3.6 million watts to energize the ionosphere.
According to the Alaska Dispatch, the project was shut down during summer 2013 due to lack of funding. However, the shutdown was only supposed to be temporary. Little information is available on its status, and the official website remains unavailable.
HAARP is surrounded by a great deal of controversy, as many conspiracy theorists relate the work done at HAARP to the ionosphere research done by Nikola Tesla during the turn of the 20th century, which involved many applications including remote transmission of wireless electricity using the ionosphere.
Their largest claim is that HAARP can be used to influence the weather. This may be true, as laboratory experiments have shown that directing a beam of radiation energy at the ionosphere can greatly affect the moisture particles and free electrons in the atmosphere. In theory, the affects from this could be a movement of the earth’s jet stream, which could greatly affect weather patterns.
Skeptics have blamed HAARP for natural disasters such as the 2011 Japanese earthquake, among others, according to the Alaska Dispatch. Conspiracy theorists have proposed that HAARP has caused earthquakes, droughts, storms, and floods, as well as various diseases. The 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 and the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster have also been attributed to HAARP by critics.
The United States owns and operates 3 of the 180 HAARP arrays: one in Gakona, Alaska; another in Fairbanks, Alaska; and a third in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Russia operates one in Vasilsursk, Russia, and the European Union operates one in Tromsø, Norway.
In theory, if these machines work in tandem, they could change the weather anywhere in the world, according to the History Channel documentary “That’s Impossible: Weather Warfare,” but the possible impacts of that level of interference with the natural world are yet to be discovered.
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New research shows that the extreme air pollution in China could severely impact agriculture and food supplies, because it is blocking out the light plants need for photosynthesis.
He Dongxian at China Agricultural University found that chilli and tomato seeds grown in Beijing took over two months to sprout due to pollutants reducing light levels in the greenhouse by about 50 percent. In comparison, seeds grown in the lab under artificial light took around 20 days to germinate.
If the smog continues, He told the Guardian her findings suggest Chinese agriculture will suffer conditions “somewhat similar to a nuclear winter.”
Describing the greenhouse plants, He said, “They will be lucky to live at all. Now almost every farm is caught in a smog panic,” according to the South China Morning Post.
“A large number of representatives of agricultural companies have suddenly showed up at academic meetings on photosynthesis in recent months and sought desperately for solutions,” she added. “Our overseas colleagues were shocked by the phenomenon because in their countries nothing like this had ever happened.”
This past week, nearly one-quarter of China has been enveloped by a thick haze, including Beijing, which is on an unprecedented orange alert, with red being the most dangerous to health.
The Yanzhao Evening News reported that a man in Hebei Province is suing local authorities for failing to deal with the smog, and also seeking compensation.
His lawyer refused to comment, because this is the first such case of a citizen suing the regime over air pollution, making it a sensitive issue.
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By Tara MacIsaac
We are engulfed by electromagnetic fields all day everyday, and the fields are only getting stronger as technology progresses and spreads. The health effects are of increasing concern, as it has been shown they not only affect individuals, but also harm DNA passed along to offspring.
Wi-Fi routers, cell phones, cordless phones, baby monitors, electric blankets, alarm clocks—all of these devices are damaging, says electrical engineer and environmental consultant Larry Gust. He discussed the dangers and how people can protect themselves in a video presented by Electromagnetic Health this week.
Here’s a look at the health effects, recommended maximum levels of exposure, the levels most people are exposed to, and tips on how to protect yourself.
Health Effects Overview
Dr. Martin Blank, who studies the effects of electromagnetic radiation at Columbia University, pointed out in a 2012 lecture uploaded to YouTube that the damage to DNA disrupts normal cell growth and protein production.
He cited studies that have shown DNA damage causes cancer. Illustrating the impact of the field emanated from a simple daily device, he said it has been shown electric blankets greatly increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage.
Electric field health effects:
-Muscle and nerve pain
-Bed wetting in children
Radio frequency health effects:
-Inability to concentrate
Electric, Magnetic Field Exposure
Recommendations for the maximum exposure in electric fields vary from about 3 volts per foot at the upper end of the spectrum to 1.5 volts or fewer per foot at the lower end. The typical bedroom has 3 to 9 volts per foot.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the maximum level for a magnetic field in a home should be 3 to 4 milliGauss.
In Marin, Calif., a 4-year-old girl had an 80 milliGauss field around her bed and in the play yard she frequented, recalled Gust. She was lethargic, had no appetite, and had rectal bleeding. As soon as the field was cleared, her symptoms vanished.
Maximum Recommended Levels of Radio Frequency Exposure
The BioInitiative Report was produced by a working group of doctors. Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University of Albany co-edited it. The Building Biology Report was released by the International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology, a non-profit research and advisory institution.
Typical Radio Frequency Exposure Levels
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Chinese company leads apparent global market fraud
While clothes marketed as organic bamboo fabric are gaining popularity worldwide, it turns out no organic bamboo textiles have actually been certified. Behind the apparent fraud is the Chinese industry giant Tenbro.
The amount of “organic” bamboo fabric Tenbro exports annually is 20 times greater than the amount of American-produced organic cotton exported annually. Yet the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) public database, the leading authority on certification, does not contain any “organic bamboo.”
In Europe and Japan, sales of this non-existent material are on the rise, and organic bamboo bags and clothing are marketed as the “new organic cotton.” Organic bamboo textiles are sold as environmentally friendly, natural, anti-bacterial, and breathable.
Shanghai Tenbro Bamboo Textile Co., Ltd. and the related Jiago Chemical Fiber Co, Ltd. actually exported 216,000 tons of fabric with a false internationally accredited organic certificate. The company’s description of the fabric reads: “Trendy Bamboo fibre materials. Nature, Organic, Elegant.”
The company was reported for seal abuse, having used old versions of certification seals on its website without actually being certified, Lebi Perez, Inspection and Training Coordinator at the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) told Epoch Times via email. OCIA certificates comply with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) guidelines and are supported the world over.
The silky material known as organic bamboo is actually viscose rayon made from bamboo fibers. Actually, what Europeans and Japanese are buying is viscose rayon made from bamboo fibers. Truly organic bamboo textile would be coarse, not having the smooth texture of rayon.
Rayon is not an eco-friendly alternative to cotton textiles, since it takes almost twice the energy to make compared to cotton-based textiles. The process of making rayon also involves many chemicals and it eliminates some natural benefits of bamboo, such as it’s anti-bacterial effect.
The most common solvent used in viscose rayon production is carbon disulfide, which is highly toxic and a dispersant (50 percent of the substance is released into the air when used in production). A newer form of rayon, Lyocell, dissolves plant fibers with the somewhat less toxic amine oxide. However, Lyocell depends on nanotechnology for fiber shaping, which is a technique not fully understood for its impact on human health, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In the United States and Canada it is illegal to market rayon made from bamboo pulp as “bamboo.” It should be labeled “rayon” or “rayon made from bamboo.” The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned the public about chemically-made rayon sold as natural bamboo textiles and sued several major retailers for misleading consumers.
Is Tenbro the only company doing this? Tenbro holds a vague patent in China on bamboo rayon. It will “sue any illegal overseas buyer of bamboo fiber products … accredited by the State Intellectual Property Bureau,” according to their website. They will “take legal actions to those suppliers with fraud intellectual properties or pirating our intellectual properties.” It is not entirely clear what this means or what legal claims Tenbro makes.
The Organic Bamboo Textile Dream
It is possible to grow bamboo in a natural way, even if the organic status of textiles is cast in doubt. Since 2012, a specific organic bamboo grove standard has been in place. If a grove is on clean soil, uses pure water, adds no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and does not grow bamboo in a monoculture, it can be qualified as “organic bamboo.”
Actually, the fast-growing plant is used in reforestation efforts to regenerate bare soil and raise groundwater levels. This is how bamboo earned its reputation as a natural and environmentally friendly crop.
Traditionally, it was common sense to plant the versatile crop in gardens. According to drawings of the “four gentlemen” on the Chinese website Minghui.org, plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemums have traditionally represented integrity and are valued as true artistic subject matter in Chinese culture. Bamboo represents “morality.”
It is also possible to make textile fibers from the softer inner bamboo stalks and leaves mechanically, and mix them with other fibers into a textile you could make cloth from. However, this kind of natural bamboo textile is still in development; it is not mass-produced and not commonly for sale.
Certified organic bamboo is used for food or medicinal purposes, or construction, not for textile production. IFOAM is currently recruiting for the Bamboo Switch-Asia project. This project “funded by the European Commission addresses the urgent needs in China for increasing safety and green practices in agro-food processing. More precisely, it aims to transform the highly polluting and resource-consuming edible bamboo shoot industry into a sustainable value chain.”
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LED light bulbs are becoming increasingly popular with designers and consumers of green technology, as they use less electricity, last longer, and emit more light on a pound-for-pound basis than traditional incandescent bulbs. However, while it may be tempting to look at them as having solved the problem of environmentally-unfriendly lighting, researchers from the University of California would advise against such thinking.
Scientists from UC Irvine and UC Davis pulverized multicolored LED Christmas lights, traffic signal lights, and automobile head and brake lights, allowed residue to leach from them, and then analyzed its chemical content. They discovered that low-intensity red LEDs contained up to eight times the amount of lead allowed under California law, although generally brighter bulbs tended to contain the most contaminants. While white bulbs had a lower lead content than their colored counterparts, they still had high levels of nickel.
Besides the lead and nickel, the bulbs and their associated parts were also found to contain arsenic, copper, and other metals that have been linked to different cancers, neurological damage, kidney disease, hypertension, skin rashes and other illnesses in humans, and to ecological damage in waterways. UC Irvine’s Oladele Ogunseitan said that while breaking a single bulb and breathing its fumes would not automatically cause cancer, it could be the tipping point for an individual regularly exposed to another carcinogen.
LONDON—The shelves of Britain’s first “social supermarket” are stacked with surplus foods that would have otherwise gone to waste, offered at up to a third of normal retail prices. The store opened its doors to customers in Barnsley, Yorkshire on Monday.
The store is accessible via membership card and is available only to shoppers on benefits such as income-based jobseeker’s allowance or pension credit. Around 500 residents in the area have been invited to participate.
Although a first in the UK, the idea behind the store is not new. Around 1000 similar stores have already been set up in Europe, with around 600 of them in France.
The organization behind the initiative in the UK, Community Shop, is already an industry expert in providing surplus food solutions for supermarket brands. Besides this store, Community Shop is looking to open more locations in the UK in 2014.
Social entrepreneur, Sarah Dunwell, who is directing the pilot scheme at Company Shop, Community Shop’s parent company, said that the stores will act as a “bridge between food charities and the mainstream retail shopper.”
“It’s designed to take the pressure off people who have a low family budget,” she said.
Whereas food banks give immediate support, Dunwell said that social supermarkets can provide a long-term solution for people living on the poverty line.
Supermarket chains Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Tetley, Co-operative Foods, Ocado, Marks & Spencer and manufacturers Young’s and Muller are supporting the scheme. All are providing surplus food to the Community Shop.
The global snacking company Mondelez International, owner of Cadbury and the brands formerly owned by Kraft Food, is also taking part.
Tony Bilsborough of Mondelez International said they are finding innovative ways to ensure surplus food “reaches people’s plates.” They are looking to support the scheme as it rolls out to other areas.
In the first six months of this year, Tesco produced 28,500 tonnes of food waste. Dunwell said the scheme provides an “ethical solution to waste disposal.”
No Compromise on Quality
Dunwell stressed that the store is providing good quality food that are all in date.
What is different, she explained, is that there will be less choice.
“There will always be cheese but maybe one day it will be cheddar and another day it will be Red Leicester,” she said.
In addition, the stores carry frozen food products with labels from competing supermarket chains that normally wouldn’t be seen together.
“For example, you’ll get an Asda lasagna, next to a M&S lasagna, next to a Tesco lasagna. Actually I like looking at those next to each other.”
Other items could be trial products or have labelling errors. The store will not serve any alcohol or tobacco.
Dunwell said that the social supermarkets are expected to be self-sufficient after the first year. John Marren, chairman of Company Shop, is investing in the project until it hits profit.
Six stores are forecast to open in London by mid 2014, backed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and chairwoman of the London Food Board Rosie Boycott. Twenty stores are projected to open in the UK by the end of 2014.
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