Australian Scientists Find Plastic’s Toxic Footprint at Molecular Level

4 October, 2014 at 07:22 | Posted in animals, Body & Mind, Environmental issues, health, Nature, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Shar Adams
Epoch Times

SYDNEY—California has become the newest region to ban lightweight plastic bags, joining four states and territories in Australia in restricting the use of disposable plastics. The move comes as Australian researchers study the toxicity of plastics, which are polluting the marine environment at a molecular level.

The Californian ban was signed into law on Sept 30, making plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies prohibited from July 1, 2015, with convenience and liquor stores to follow a year later.

In Australia, non-biodegradable lightweight plastic bags are banned in Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, but the legislation does permit the use of compostable, bio-degradable bags.

While the bans on bags represent important progress, researchers are finding the threat of plastics goes deeper than the disposable products we can see. Professor Richard Banati from the the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) says the full lifecycle of plastic is not yet understood and its degradability is questionable, particularly when litter is left to float in oceans.

The present paradigm is “the solution to pollution is dilution” but his research indicates otherwise.

“Dilution has its limits,” he said in a phone interview.

Beyond the Visible

There is no doubt that on a visible pollution level plastic is a huge problem. Scientists have found evidence of plastics choking or smothering many marine animals and ecosystems.

In a report released last month, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found plastic constituted most of the rubbish floating along Australia’s coastline, with densities ranging between a few thousand pieces of plastic per square kilometre to more than 40,000 pieces.

“About three-quarters of the rubbish along the coast is plastic,” said CSIRO scientist Denise Hardesty after collating data from survey sites every 100 km along the Australian coastline. “Most is from Australian sources, not the high seas, with debris concentrated near cities.”

Professors Banati’s work, however, looks beyond the visible. Using nuclear scientific methods he is examining a more insidious interaction – plastic contamination at the molecular level.

Following the results of an earlier collaboration with biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers, who was researching plastic in shearwater birds, the two scientists found that when plastic interacts with sea water, it absorbs heavy metals, becoming more toxic as it degrades. Looking at shearwater feathers at the molecular level they have identified the presence of plastic particles.

“Micro plastic particles are perfectly bite sized pieces for things like krill, zoo plankton, filter feeders and all of the marine creatures at the very base of the marine food web,” Dr Laver said.

Professor Banati is now collecting a larger sample for further research, conducting his own survey from Hobart to Sydney Harbour.

His aim is to identify the full life cycle of plastic, its impact on marine life and the food chain.

The forensic method, he said, will make plastic traceable and in that respect make producers and consumers accountable.

It is the increasing use of plastic on a mass level that is the concern. Identifying the full life cycle of plastic will allow for a better understanding for industry and government of how and when it can best be used.

“Traceability will allow us to make policy decisions,” he said.

via Australian Scientists Find Plastic’s Toxic Footprint at Molecular Level

Elephant Raju Weeps With Gratitude As He Is Released From 50 Years In Shackles

9 July, 2014 at 12:03 | Posted in Animal welfare, animals | Leave a comment
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Press People – Huffington Post

An elephant who was cruelly kept in spiked shackles for 50 years has been released.

Held in chains, beaten, abused and living on handouts from passing tourists, Raju was a pitiful sight on the streets of India.

Day after day he was forced to hold out his trunk, begging for a few coins and was often left so hungry he’d eat plastic and paper to fill his empty stomach.

But last week a North London-based charity Wildlife SOS stepped in to save Raju.

During the daring midnight rescue, which saw the beast finally freed on 4 July, tears were seen rolling down his noble face, as if he was weeping with gratitude.

Spokesman Pooja Binepal said: “Raju has spent the past 50 years living a pitiful existence in chains 24 hours a day, an act of intolerable cruelty. The team were astounded to see tears roll down his face during the rescue. It was so incredibly emotional for all of us. We knew in our hearts he realised he was being freed.

“Elephants are not only majestic, but they are highly intelligent animals, who have been proven to have feelings of grief, so we can only imagine what torture half a century has been like for him.

Read more: Elephant Raju Weeps With Gratitude As He Is Released From 50 Years In Shackles VIDEO, PICTURES

Not Even Good Enough for Dog Food: Imported Food From China Loaded With Chemicals, Dyes, Pesticides and Fake Ingredients

17 September, 2013 at 07:28 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Environmental issues, Food, Society, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Mike Adams
Naturalnews.com

NaturalNews – Do you really know what’s in all the food you’re eating that’s imported from China? If you don’t, you’re actually in good company: The FDA only inspects 1% – 2% of all the food imported from China, so they don’t know either. Even when they inspect a shipment, they rarely test it for heavy metals, pesticides, PCBs or other toxic contaminants.

Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, added emphasis to this point as he testified this week in The House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, saying, “We don’t trust, for good reason, the Chinese to supply ingredients for our dog and cat food. Why should we trust Chinese exporters for the food that we are feeding our children and families?”

It’s a good question. Especially when, as Kastel adds, Chinese food is being routinely found to contain “unapproved chemicals, dyes, pesticides and outright fraud (fake food).”

Heavily contaminated food from China

As Natural News has already reported, food from China is frequently found to contain alarming levels of heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury) and other contaminants. Politically, China is a communist dictatorship where freedom of speech is completely outlawed. Environmental regulations are virtually never enforced. The culture is one of total deception where lying, cheating, stealing or committing fraud to get ahead is considered completely acceptable — because that’s how government is operated there. The moral decay of China is directly reflected in the alarming dishonesty of the food supply. (Yes, a country’s food exports will reflect its cultural and political philosophies. Freedom produces healthy food. Oppression and communism produces deceptive, deadly food.)

And yet, even with all this being widely known, Chinese farms are rarely inspected by organic certifiers. “U.S. certifiers are unable to independently inspect farms and assure compliance to the USDA organic food and agriculture standards that are required for export to the U.S.” explained Kastel in testimony. “These imports should not be allowed to reach our shore until and unless we have a system in place to assure consumers they are getting what they pay for. Just like U.S. grown organic commodities, the safety of these products must be rigorously overseen by independent inspectors.”

Read Kastel’s full testimony here.

Counterfeit ingredients are the new norm in China

Also testifying at the hearing was Patty Lovera, the Assistant Director of Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch. The news on food fraud out of China “is a steady stream of controversies ranging from adulteration with counterfeit ingredients like melamine in dairy products, to widespread outbreaks of animal diseases like avian flu, and high levels of pesticide residues,” Lovera testified. “Just last week, news reports described a Chinese government campaign to break up a fake meat operation, leading to arrests of more than 900 people accused of passing off more than $1 million of rat meat as mutton.”

See Natural News coverage of the fake rat meat scandal here.

You are eating far more food from China than you think

Why does any of this matter? Because you’re eating far more food from China than you probably think.

Not only do retailers like Whole Foods sell “certified organic” food grown in China, the vast majority of superfood powders sold in North America use raw materials purchased in bulk from China. Nutritional supplements, herbs and vitamins are often made using materials from China.

Not everything from China is bad, but in our own lab tests here at Natural News, we’ve been shocked to discover just how frequently products from China are contaminated with metals, chemical solvents and pesticide residues. We have rejected dozens of suppliers in our own search for clean ingredients to use in our product formulations, and we’ve even had to send back product that showed up at our warehouse and simply didn’t meet our stringent quality control requirements. (True fact: We recently had to return several thousand pounds of goji berries to one supplier after discovering the product failed our quality control review.)

But here’s the even scarier part in all this:

I am repeatedly told I’m the ONLY person asking these questions

When I talk to suppliers of raw materials, I am repeatedly told that I am the only person asking them for heavy metals tests, pesticide tests and product samples to send to our own lab.

This happens over and over again. From this, I have learned there is virtually NO due diligence being conducted by natural products retailers. Most retailers simply buy and sell, shipping boxes and moving product while turning a blind eye to the truth about what they are buying and selling. They literally do not care whether their products are contaminated with heavy metals. They just want to sell, sell, sell!

Even more shockingly — and I seem to be the only journalist reporting this jaw-dropping fact — there are currently NO LIMITS set by the USDA for contamination of certified organic foods. A product may be USDA organic and still contain deadly levels of mercury, arsenic or lead. The USDA does not test or even regulate heavy metals in foods via its organic certified program!

So you can be shopping at a famous natural products retailer and you might pick up a product carrying the USDA Certified Organic logo, thinking, “This is certified healthy and safe by the U.S. government.” You are being lied to. That product could be grown in China in a field of mercury runoff from an industrial factory. It could contain ridiculously high levels of mercury, arsenic, PCBs and even chemical solvents. You could be eating pure death while paying a premium for it!

This is not an attack on the USDA, by the way. Their organic certification program is surprisingly good for the scope of what it attempts to accomplish. But understand that USDA organic certifies a process, not a result. At the farm level, it means foods are not intentionally grown with pesticides and herbicides, but it does not say anything whatsoever about heavy metals contamination of food production fields in China.

Massive organic food FRAUD

In truth, what’s really happening right now on a global scale is a massive organic food fraud. Food is grown in China and certified organic even though no U.S. inspectors even visit the farms. That food is then imported into the U.S. and almost never inspected. It’s packaged and sold at top dollar in natural foods retail stores, emblazoned with the USDA Organic label.

But nowhere along the way — except in extremely rare cases — is that food ever tested for heavy metals or other contaminants. This is why Mark Kastel correctly states this food can’t even be trusted “for dog food,” much less to feed yourself and your family.

Make no mistake about it: China is a nation full of immoral, unethical liars and deceivers. (Taiwan, on the other hand, is very different and has a much stronger moral code as well as basic human decency.) Remember: I speak Mandarin Chinese. I’ve lived in the Chinese culture. I’ve traveled throughout Asia and even given numerous public speeches to Chinese audiences. At the same time, I’ve investigated and written about food and food safety for more than a decade. Very few people are as qualified to tell you the truth about what’s really in your food coming out of China, and I can tell you that I don’t trust it.

In fact, the only way I will eat anything from China is if I subject it to extensive testing and verify that contamination levels are acceptably low. There are some great products out of China that are completely safe and healthy. Certain medicinal mushrooms, for example, are produced in China and are very clean. Some producers of goji berries are very honest and clean. There are no doubt organic growers who are producing very clean products in China, but these would be the exception, not the rule. By default, we must all now assume that anything from China is heavily contaminated.

Almost universally, food grown in North America is cleaner and less contaminated. This isn’t true 100% of the time, but usually so.

Toxic Chinese agriculture puts honest U.S. farmers out of business

The sad part about all this is that food from China is economically displacing U.S. and Canadian farmers who are generally far more honest and ethical in their farming practices. So while U.S. farmers are being put out of business for following the rules set by the EPA, FDA and USDA, the Chinese farmers are selling us contaminated, toxic “organic” food frauds produced by breaking all the rules!

That’s why I say grow local, buy local and eat local as much as possible. And until China cleans up its act on food contamination, do your best to avoid food from China. I don’t trust it unless EVERY BATCH is comprehensively lab tested and those lab tests are made public.

Props to Cornucopia’s Mark Kastel for having the courage to lay a lot of this out in congressional testimony. Rest assured Congress will never ask me to testify on food contamination because I would describe a truth so horrifying that people would stop eating for days…

P.S. The reason all your dogs and cats are dying from diabetes and cancer these days is because you’re giving them highly toxic pet treats imported from China. They are loaded with toxic solvents and industrial chemicals that cause permanent liver and kidney damage, among other devastating side effects. You can find these toxic, colorful pet treats sold at all the major pet store retailers. They are selling you PET DEATH and making a tidy profit doing so.

Originally published by http://www.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/040266_food_fraud_china_heavy_metals_contamination.html#ixzz2egbiWg

via Not Even Good Enough for Dog Food: Imported Food From China Loaded With Chemicals, Dyes, Pesticides and Fake Ingredients » The Epoch Times

India Calls Dolphins ‘Non-Human Persons’, Bans In-Captivity Shows

29 May, 2013 at 09:17 | Posted in Animal welfare, Society | Leave a comment
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India Calls Dolphins 'Non-Human Persons', Bans In-Captivity Shows » The Epoch TimesBy Venus Upadhayaya
Epoch Times

India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, has banned public entertainment shows by captive dolphins calling it morally unacceptable.

In a statement by the Central Zoo Authority, the Government of India has advised all state governments in the country to reject any proposal to establish a dolphinarium “by any person / persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves the import [and] capture of cetacean species to [use] for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and [other] interaction purposes whatsoever.”

Avinash Basker, Legal Consultant at the Wildlife Protection Society of India said: “As far as Dolphins in captivity are concerned, it’s a great step. Dolphins hunting is illegal in India and those in captivity in the country would have been captured elsewhere in the world. Thus, it’s good for Dolphins globally.”

Basker, however, mentions that there are other challenges about Dolphin Conservation in the country. “There are sporadic reports on Dolphin meat consumption in southern Indian states. The Extent of this problem is … not known as the fishing industry is not well regulated here.”

In India, Dolphins are protected under the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972. The Indian Government has declared Dolphins from the Ganges river as its national aquatic animal with a view to protect the endangered species.

The statement released by the Central Zoo Authority mentions that cetaceans (marine mammals) cannot survive in captivity. “Cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and it is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purposes.”

Basker mentions that more countries need to come up with such policies to prevent more Dolphins from being captured. “Mentioning Dolphins as ‘non-human persons’ gives huge impetus to the Animal Rights discourse in the world. It’s a great statement,” he says.

Basker believes that the essence of this statement is that keeping Dolphins under captivity is cruel. “Under the aegis of the Wildlife Protection Act of India, Dolphins are protected as are any other species. By mentioning them as non-human persons, the government has probably tried to heighten their status under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.”

via India Calls Dolphins ‘Non-Human Persons’, Bans In-Captivity Shows » The Epoch Times

Loyal Dog Prevents Suicide: Five Cases of Dogs Saving People

25 March, 2013 at 07:41 | Posted in Body & Mind | Leave a comment
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By Jack Phillips
Epoch Times Staff

Loyal dog prevents suicide: There have been numerous instances of dogs saving people, including a recent example in France this week where a German Shepherd prevented its owner from killing herself.

The recent example of a French woman being saved by her dog as she pointed a rifle towards her heart to kill herself may seem a bit out of the ordinary, but dogs have saved people from certain death on many occasions—even within the past year.

Here are five examples:

Poland

Just several days ago, a 3-year-old girl went missing in a Polish village during frigid temperatures. But a stray dog followed her and kept her warm through the night before she was found by rescuers.

“For the whole night the animal was with the girl, it never left her. Remember, it was 5 degrees below zero and the child was wet,” a firefighter said of the incident.

The child was found clinging to the dog about two miles from her home in the village of Pierzwin. The dog apparently slept with the child through the night to keep her warm.

Indianapolis

Last November, a family dog in Indianapolis stopped armed kidnappers from leaving a family home. In the incident, a man and a woman broke in and abducted the 3-month-old daughter of Nayeli Garzon-Jimenez while her husband was working.

But the family’s pit bull mix prevented the two assailants from taking off with the child.

“She started screaming and crying,” Adolfo Angeles-Morales, the husband, told local station WISH-TV, referring to his daughter. He added, “The guy said, ‘Give me the money or we take the baby.’”

The woman assailant then grabbed the child and bolted for the door, he said.

Angeles-Morales said, however, that “one of the doggies didn’t let her go through the back door” and the woman threw the baby back.

British Colombia

A dog rescued an 11-year-old boy from a mountain lion attack in 2010 in the small Canadian town of Bar Boston, located some 150 miles north of Vancouver.

The dog, named Angel, threw herself between the boy and the puma and almost died in the scuffle.

“She was my best friend, but now she’s even greater to me,” the boy, Austin Forman, told NBC News, referring to his dog. “She’s more than a best friend now”

Before the attack, he said, “The dog knew something was up, because she ran toward me just at the right time, and the cougar ended up getting her instead.”

“I was just lucky my dog was there, because it happened so fast I wouldn’t have known what hit me,” he added.

New Jersey

Last month, an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s got lost and fell down in the snow in Piscataway, N.J., but a pit bull came to the rescue.

“She looked back at me and then barked, and there I saw a figure laying,” Cara Jones, the owner of the pit bull—named Creature—told ABC News. “She was trying to get up and the sticks kept breaking on her, so she would fall back down.”

Jones recalled not being able to figure out the reason why the dog kept trying to lead her into the brush, where the elderly woman, 89-year-old Carmen Mitchell, fell down. Mitchell had wandered into the woods around a mile from her caretaker.

Even after a full search, police with K-9 units couldn’t find her until Creature arrived on the scene.

“I had a lot of people looking down on me for having a pit bull, and I’m glad that I have her,” Jones said.

United Kingdom

In 2009, a man who fell down a 30-foot slope and broke his neck was kept alive when both his dogs kept him warm in frigid temperatures in Brixham, England.

The man, 66-year-old Michael Dyer, was walking his dogs when the incident took place. After he fell, Dyer lay unconscious in the snow.

However, as Dyer slipped in and out of consciousness through the night, his dogs stayed with him and kept his core temperature high enough to survive the cold.

“He loves those dogs and the fact they wouldn’t leave him is amazing,” his friend, Barry Robinson, told the Daily Mail.

via Loyal Dog Prevents Suicide: Five Cases of Dogs Saving People | International | World | Epoch Times

Salmon Use Magnetic Map to Find Rivers

6 March, 2013 at 07:29 | Posted in Nature, Science | Leave a comment
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By Sally Appert
Epoch Times Staff

After traveling the Pacific Ocean for years, sockeye salmon find their way home to their birthplaces using the Earth’s magnetic field, new U.S. research has shown.

“To find their way back home across thousands of kilometers of ocean, salmon imprint on the magnetic field that exists where they first enter the sea as juveniles,” study co-author Nathan Putman of Oregon State University said in a press release.

“Upon reaching maturity, they seek the coastal location with the same magnetic field.”

Scientists long suspected the salmon were using a magnetic map, but were unable to confirm it until recently. The Fraser River in British Columbia provided a useful way to study how salmon navigate.

“When they attempt to return, they are confronted with a giant obstacle: Vancouver Island is blocking direct access to their river!” Putman explained.

“So the fish must make a choice: do they use the northern inlet or the southern inlet in their detour?”

Since Earth’s magnetic field shifts over time, salmon that left the Fraser River two years ago might find a slightly different magnetic field when they return. Their magnetic map might guide them to choose the other inlet.

Since the 1950s, fisheries have been gathering data about salmon returning to this area. When they compared it with predicted changes in the magnetic field, they found that the magnetic field indeed affected the choices the salmon made.

However, Putman says this magnetic map may not work as well for salmon raised in hatcheries.

“If, for instance, hatchery fish are incubated in conditions with lots of electrical wires and iron pipes around that distort the magnetic field, then it is conceivable that they might be worse at navigating than their wild counterparts,” he said.

The paper was published online in the journal Current Biology on Feb. 7.

via Salmon Use Magnetic Map to Find Rivers | Inspiring Discoveries | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Orcas Impacted More by Salmon Supply Than Tourist Boats

Why Mosquitoes Can’t Fly in Fog

27 November, 2012 at 12:34 | Posted in Funny things :-), Science | Leave a comment
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By Sally Appert
Epoch Times Staff

Mosquitoes can fly through rainstorms without a problem, but fog is another story.

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology decided to find out why mosquitoes cannot fly in foggy weather.

Researcher Andrew Dickerson explained that when you’re as small as a mosquito, you experience the weather a lot differently.

“From a mosquito’s perspective, a falling raindrop is like us being struck by a small car,” Dickerson said in a press release.

“A fog particle–weighing 20 million times less than a mosquito–is like being struck by a crumb. Thus, fog is to a mosquito as rain is to a human.”

Mosquitoes are small enough to fly between raindrops so only get hit every 20 seconds or so, and the drops don’t hurt them. Then why do the tiny fog particles prevent their flying?

The researchers used high-speed videography and found that mosquitoes’ wings can still function properly in fog, but the tiny structures called halteres cannot.

Halteres are like little knobbed wings that flap alternately with the large wings. They help the mosquito control its flight and stay upright in the air.

When these structures flap, they hit thousands of fog particles per second. The halteres are so tiny that the particles interfere with them.

“Thus the halteres cannot sense their position correctly and malfunction, similarly to how windshield wipers fail to work well when the rain is very heavy or if there is snow on the windshield,” said Dickerson.

“This study shows us that insect flight is similar to human flight in aircraft in that flight is not possible when the insects cannot sense their surroundings.”

The research was presented on Nov. 19 at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics.

via Why Mosquitoes Can’t Fly in Fog | Inspiring Discoveries | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Bacteria on Skin Affects Attractiveness to Mosquitoes

Dogs and Humans Categorize Words Differently

24 November, 2012 at 11:10 | Posted in Science | Leave a comment
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By Sally Appert
Epoch Times Staff

Many dogs know the words for their favorite toys, but they associate these words with objects in a very different way from humans, according to a U.K. new study.

Human toddlers tend to categorize objects by their shapes. When you teach a toddler what a “ball” is, he will also call other similarly-shaped objects “balls,” but he won’t call similarly sized or textured objects “balls.”

Researchers from the University of Lincoln wanted to find out if dogs also associate words with shapes, so they experimented with a border collie named Gable, who had experience learning words.

They found that the dog didn’t use shape to identify an object. For example, if the dog learned a word such as “ball” and was then asked to fetch a ball from an array of unfamiliar objects, he’d choose objects that weren’t necessarily ball-shaped, but were a similar size to the original ball.

Then, after the dog became more familiar with the word and the object, he started to associate the word with similarly textured objects, but shape still didn’t seem to matter.

“Where shape matters for us, size or texture matters more for your dog,” the study authors said in a press release. “This study shows for the first time that there is a qualitative difference in word comprehension in the dog compared to word comprehension in humans.”

The researchers didn’t use typical words such as “ball” to test Gable. Instead they used made-up words for the toys, such as “dax.”

They also made sure all the objects smelled the same so Gable wouldn’t use scent cues.

The team concluded that the way dogs sense and think about objects is very different from the way we do, although more research is needed to confirm the results.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE on Nov. 21.

via Dogs and Humans Categorize Words Differently | Inspiring Discoveries | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Dog Swims and Plays With Dolphin (Video)

Some Honey Bees Have Thrill-Seeking Personalities

15 March, 2012 at 07:55 | Posted in Nature, Science | Leave a comment
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By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times Staff

A small number of bees in a colony may be on the lookout for adventure, rather like some humans, according to new U.S. research published in Science on March 8.

Beehives must split up when the colony becomes too large for its site, leading to varied swarming behaviors that include looking for new nest locations and for food. The researchers considered both of these behaviors to be a form of novelty-seeking.

“In humans, differences in novelty-seeking are a component of personality,” said research leader Gene Robinson at the University of Illinois in a press release. “Could insects also have personalities?”

The team found that less than 5 percent of the bees go in search of a new home. Known as nest scouts, these bees are also 3.4 times more likely to become food scouts than their fellow hive members.

The scientists believe that these bees are more willing to take risks than the others, meaning that bees can have different personalities.

“There is a gold standard for personality research and that is if you show the same tendency in different contexts, then that can be called a personality trait,” Robinson said.

“People are trying to understand what is the basis of novelty-seeking behavior in humans and in animals,” he continued. “And a lot of the thinking has to do with the relationship between how the (brain’s) reward system is engaged in response to some experience.”

Considerable differences were found in the patterns of gene activity in the brains of adventurous bees compared with their non-scouting counterparts, including production of some signaling chemicals that regulate similar behaviors in vertebrates.

“We expected to find some, but the magnitude of the differences was surprising given that both scouts and non-scouts are foragers,” Robinson said.

The researchers used different chemicals to test the relationship between brain signaling and novelty-seeking, and found that non-scouting bees could be induced to become scouts with glutamate and octopamine, while scouting could be suppressed by blocking dopamine.

“Our results say that novelty-seeking in humans and other vertebrates has parallels in an insect,” Robinson concluded. “One can see the same sort of consistent behavioral differences and molecular underpinnings.”

via Some Honey Bees Have Thrill-Seeking Personalities | Beyond Science | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Elementary School Children Investigate Problem Solving in Bees

The Antibiotics You May Be Eating Without Knowing It

13 March, 2012 at 07:12 | Posted in Body & Mind, Environmental issues, Food, sustainable development | Leave a comment
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By Martha Rosenberg

In 2008, the FDA announced that “evidence that extra-label use of these drugs [cephalosporins] in food-producing animals will likely cause an adverse event in humans and, as such, presents a risk to the public health,” and called for their prohibition. Notice the FDA says “will likely cause,” not “could likely cause” and “presents a risk” not “could present a risk”?

But by the time hearings were held two months later and lobbyists had worked their magic, the “Cephalosporin Order of Prohibition” had somehow become a “Hearing to Review the Advances in Animal Health Within the Livestock Industry.”

At the hearings, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Animal Health Institute, a Big Pharma trade group, and the egg, chicken, turkey, milk, pork, and cattle industries complained that they could not farm without antibiotics because more feed would be required, and the animals would get sick from being immobilized over their own manure.

“To raise turkeys without antibiotics would increase the incidence of illness in turkey flocks,” said the National Turkey Federation’s Michael Rybolt, Ph.D. Antibiotics “reduce the level of potentially harmful bacteria, which result in infections and sickness,” said the National Milk Producers Federation’s Robert D. Byrne, Ph.D.

Antibiotics decrease the amount of land needed to raise animals and provide a lower priced “wholesome” product for the public, said one farm operator after another. One even claimed that manure is reduced because animals eat less.

While most agriculture reps at the hearings defended the use of antibiotics for “treatment, prevention, and control of disease,” the AVMA’s Christine Hoang, D.V.M., actually went so far as to call the less feed that antibiotics make possible a “health-promoting” effect and a “therapeutic use.” Maybe she meant health and therapy for the bottom line.

After the hearings, W. Ron DeHaven, D.V.M., who was the USDA’s top vet before leaving for industry and helming the AVMA, penned a rambling, almost incoherent 18-page letter with 62 footnotes to the FDA.

The letter went something like this: Cephalosporin-resistant “human pathogens” aren’t increasing, and even if they are, they’re not affecting human health, and even if they’re affecting human health, how do you know it’s from the livestock drugs, and even if it’s from the livestock drugs, the FDA has no legal authority to ban cephalosporin.

The letter plays on terrorism fears by calling a cephalosporin ban a “food security issue” affecting “the number of animals available for the food supply.” It also plays on humanitarian sentiments by claiming a ban would impede veterinarians’ ability “to relieve the pain and suffering of animals” as if cephalosporins are painkillers and other drugs aren’t available. (And as if antibiotics are given for animals’ welfare instead of revenue welfare!)

Nowhere in the letter is there mention of the reason Big Meat won’t let go of antibiotics: The industry is able to raise thousands of animals in crowded conditions that would otherwise kill them and for prices as artificial as the drugs they are raised on.

Big Pharma’s invasion into farming is probably the biggest reason for the demise of family farms, which are no longer able to compete on price. Less than a month after the letter was sent, on Nov. 25, the FDA quietly revoked the prohibition. Good hire, AVMA!

Of course, the revolving door between government and Big Pharma lobbying has a distinguished tradition from Louisiana representative-turned-lobbyist Billy Tauzin, who presided over the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) until 2010, to former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, M.D., who prepared the country for flu outbreaks before turning up as head of Merck vaccines when she left the government.

The Antibiotics You May Be Eating Without Knowing It (Part 1)

This is the second part of a four-part series.

Next week: Antibiotics injected directly into eggs, and other Big Pharma secrets.

Martha Rosenberg is a health reporter and author who lives in Chicago.

via The Antibiotics You May Be Eating Without Knowing It Part 2 | Western Medicine | Health | Epoch Times

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Elephants Outwit Humans During Intelligence Test

5 March, 2012 at 10:10 | Posted in Nature, Science | Leave a comment
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These pachyderm problem-solvers are among the world’s most cognitively advanced animals.

By Jennifer Viegas – Discovery News

THE GIST

  • An experiment reveals that elephants not only cooperate, but that they understand the logic behind teamwork.
  • Some elephants even figured out shortcuts that researchers hadn’t thought of to obtain food rewards.
  • Elephant intelligence and ability to cooperate at least equal these same skills in chimpanzees and dolphins, scientists believe.

….
Elephants recently aced a test of their intelligence and ability to cooperate, with two of them even figuring out ways that the researchers hadn’t previously considered to obtain food rewards.

The study, published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlights not only the intelligence of individual elephants, but also the ability of these animals to cooperate and understand the value of teamwork.

Scientists now believe elephants are in league with chimpanzees and dolphins as being among the world’s most cognitively advanced animals.

“Elephant sociality is very complex,” lead author Joshua Plotnik told Discovery News. “Social groups are made up of matriarchal herds (an older female is in charge), and varying levels of relatedness among members. Cooperation in elephants was most likely necessary in a context of communal care for, and protection of, young.”

“In the wild, there are fascinating anecdotes of elephants working together to lift or help fallen members, and forming clusters to protect younger elephants,” added Plotnik, a Cambridge University researcher who is also head of research at Thailand’s Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

Read more: Elephants Outwit Humans During Intelligence Test : Discovery News

Tell Nestea to Stop Abusing Animals

15 September, 2011 at 09:16 | Posted in Animal welfare, Charity Work | Leave a comment
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PETA.org

Before taking your next sip of tea, check the label on the bottle because you may be drinking a cupful of cruelty to animals. Nestlé, the maker of Nestea, has tested and paid others to conduct painful and deadly tea tests on animals. The company has caused animals to suffer simply to investigate the possible health benefits linked to tea products and ingredients, even though not one of these experiments is legally required for beverage manufacturers, and regulators have stated that animal tests are not sufficient to prove a health claim about a product.

In these cruel tests, mice and rats were tormented and then killed by such means as decapitation.

[...]

Modern, cruelty-free research methods are available and are in use by other leading beverage companies around the world. We need YOU to join us in telling Nestea to ditch its cruel-tea to animals and to use non-animal methods instead.

Please take a moment to ask Nestea to stop testing on animals and join other brands—such as Lipton, Arizona, Snapple, Honest Tea, Tazo, Twinings, Stash Tea, Celestial Seasonings, Luzianne Tea, and others—that don’t experiment on animals.

Send polite comments to:

Paul Bulcke
CEO
Nestlé S.A.
Paul.Bulcke@nestle.com

Brad Alford
CEO
Nestlé USA
Brad.Alford@us.nestle.com

Read more: Tell Nestea to Stop Abusing Animals | PETA.org

Avaaz – Save the Saddest Dolphins 

17 June, 2011 at 17:28 | Posted in Animal welfare, Nature | Leave a comment
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From Avaaz:

The pod was swimming peacefully in the Solomon Islands when nets closed in from behind — trapping 25 wild dolphins for a luxury resort’s latest exhibit. They are now locked in tiny pens, starved of food — but we can free them.

For wild dolphins captivity is torture, their powerful sonar bounces off the walls back at them — as if they are trapped in an endless house of mirrors. Most die young from stress induced illness, but some even commit suicide. If the wealthy Resorts World Sentosa succeeds in keeping them captive then half the dolphins will die in the first 2 years — and it will legitimise the widely banned practice of capturing dolphins in the wild. We can’t let that happen — let’s use our voices to set them free.

Resorts World was forced to abandon plans for a whale shark exhibit two years ago because of the huge outcry that threatened their reputation. Let’s build a massive call now to free these intelligent, beautiful creatures — and make this a turning point in the fight to end the global wild-dolphin trade. Our petition will be delivered to Resorts World and the media. Sign now and share this with everyone!

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION! Click on the link below

Read more: Avaaz – Save the Saddest Dolphins
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The Unexplained Powers of Animals

23 August, 2010 at 08:48 | Posted in Funny things :-), Science | Leave a comment
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Many pets seem to know when their owners are coming home. (Jiayi Wang/The Epoch Times)

Unexplained Psychic Powers Like Telepathy and Premonition in Animals

By Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D.

For many years, animal trainers, pet owners, and naturalists have reported various kinds of perceptiveness in animals that suggest the existence of psychic powers. Surprisingly little research has been done on these phenomena.

Biologists have been inhibited by the taboo against “the paranormal,” and psychical researchers and parapsychologists have (with few exceptions) confined their attention to human beings.

According to random household surveys in England and the United States, many pet owners believe their animals are sometimes telepathic with them. An average of 48 percent of dog owners and 33 percent of cat owners said that their pets responded to their thoughts or silent commands. Many horse trainers and riders believe that their horse can pick up their intentions telepathically.

Read more: Unexplained Psychic Powers Like Telepathy and Premonition in Animals | Epoch Times

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WSPA – animal welfare charity

22 February, 2010 at 16:05 | Posted in Animal welfare | Leave a comment
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http://www.youtube.com/wspainternational

This is a very good website with good information. It’s important to speak up for all living beings that can’t speak up for themselves. I think.

~ Have a nice day All of You! :-) ~ ♥ ♥ ♥

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