Observations on local and not so local environmental events, including people and their surroundings.
Brazil Set to Legalize Terminator Seeds
Brazil may be the first country to defy the 13 year UN
moratorium on the commercial sale of terminator seeds. This would be the “thin
edge of the wedge” to gradually collapse the ban on the engineered seeds.Terminator seeds are those engineered to
produce a crop but the seeds from the crop will not germinate or sprout if
planted. So if a farmer buys a GM seed that also has the terminator trait, he
cannot save seed and avoid buying seed from the corporation next planting.
That is bad enough but many of the crops that are GM spread
their pollen via insects, other animals and the wind spreading their traits to
non-GM fields. The spread of terminator traits would be disastrous to organic
and more traditional farmers, forcing them to purchase seed from corporations.
It would eventually drastically reduce the biodiversity of food crops as seed
houses sell what is commercially viable.
The Judicial Commission is meeting this week to review their
decision about Terminators. Whatever their decision, it amounts to an advisory
one and the Brazilian Government may choose to break the moratorium. This would
be the first small step in collapsing the 193 country agreement to keep these
dangerous seeds out of the food stocks.
Commission passes the bill this week,” says Centro Ecológico’s Maria José
Guazzelli, “the Congress could make it law after it reconvenes in February.
While most of Brazil is celebrating a Christmas birth, the seed multinationals
will be celebrating the death of the 10,000-year right of farmers to save
seeds.” GM Watch
A child of the terminator seed is the zombie seed. It is
modified to be able to germinate if it is treated by a specific chemical, one
that is produced by the gene tech corporation of course. Zombies are currently
popular in the entertainment business, but in my opinion that’s where they
Worm guts may save the world from the avalanche of plastic
accumulating in the environment. Humans
produce about 80 million tonnes of polyethylene every year. An amateur
beekeeper in Spain has discovered a caterpillar that actually munches and
thrives on the plastic. It helps that Federica Bertocchini is a biologist working
at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology in Spain.
She noticed that her beehives were infested with these “worms”,
the larvae of the wax moth, Galleria
mellonella, and were happily munching through her honeycombs. She tossed
them into a plastic bag and found they quickly escaped by chewing holes in the
Polyethylene is slow to biodegrade and often fails to do so
over many months. Scientists have tried exposing it to various life forms like
bacteria and fungi but the process is slow. The wax worms are fast, munching
holes in the plastic and converting it to ethylene glycol.
The wax moths may be found …
These have stayed dry since June
The Province of British Columbia, Canada, continues to
swelter under unseasonably hot, dry conditions. This forest fire season in the
province has been the worst on record with numerous mass evacuations needed. It
has also been the most costly.
Eastern Vancouver Island is usually drier than the west
coast and much of the mainland coast, but this year it is parched. A
combination of higher than usual temperatures and lack of rain has dried out
There has been no useful rainfall since June and none is in
the forecast. The water hauling trucks are being kept busy in the rural areas.
Saturday, we saw another upswing in temperatures with
temperatures once again peaking in the 30s Celsius. In my area today’s
temperature is expected to reach 32 degrees C. (90 F). The government web site
warns that this weather system seems to be stalled over the province.
We may look on the bright side, I suppose. The stagnant air
may allow outflow …
Colony of Pectinatella magnifica
Lost Lagoon in Vancouver, BC, has been harbouring a strange
life form. It looks like human brains are sitting in the shallow water but fortunately
that isn’t the case. The warm water and abundant microscopic floaties in the
lake have made perfect conditions for a variety of Bryozoan.
Bryozoans are tiny animals without backbones. Individuals
are around half a millimetre(0.02 inches), but form colonies of thousands which
can reach over two feet across. They may be anchored to the bottom or free
The variety found in Lost Lagoon is not native to the area,
but was originally found east of the Mississippi River. Over the past few decades
the variety has spread across N. America and Europe.
The jelly blobs are not harmful to humans but they are pretty
repulsive to us. The colony forms around a base of mucus and the surface of the
colony is also covered in mucus. These little organisms actually clean the
water by consuming microscopic bits of organ…