Showing posts from February, 2015

Yeast may be the answer to replacing palm oil

B. McPherson

Palm oil is used in a myriad of places around the world. From face creams to biodiesel, palm oil is everywhere in today’s modern world. Why? Because it’s a cheap(relatively), versatile substance that remains soft but solid at room temperature, is non-toxic and edible and can be produced by trees and sunlight.
It sounds like an all around winner but as the palm oil industry has grown along with massive tropical plantations of the oil palm major environmental damage is becoming evident. About 87% of the world’s palm oil is produced from plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia. The ripping up of rain forests has far reaching deleterious effects on the people and animals that were living there.
Now the insatiable appetite for palm oil is industrializing tracts of land in Africa with Nigeria leading the way in leasing out land for palm oil plantations.
Researchers at the University of Bath may have come up with an alternative to digging up the tropical forests and evicting the …

Mad cow disease shows up in Alberta

B. McPherson Mad cow disease can cause this CJv in humans An animal destined for the beef market was found in Alberta to carry mad cow disease. This is the first case of mad cow since an isolated case in 2011. The public has been assured that the sick animal never made it to the slaughter house. During the initial outbreak of mad cow in 2003 in Canada the beef industry in Canada took a huge economic hit. This is not expected to be the case with this incident.
While it is early days in this investigation, there is speculation that cattle feed pre-dating tighter restrictions was fed to the animal in its first year. In 1997 the Canadian government mandated that feed formulas be changed to exclude the processed remains of ruminant animals. Protein is a valuable commodity in the agricultural industry and it was routine to feed cattle processed “waste” from slaughtered carcasses of cattle and sheep.
Mad cow disease is known by other names: bovine spongiform encephalitis, BSE, transmissible …

TTIP will tighten corporate noose

B. McPherson
For those who believe that giant corporations rule, the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) is an ominous development. For proponents, it will bring about a new era of free trade between the USA and the EU.
The two great political entities are long time trade partners with few serious disputes over tariffs and markets. This proposed new trade agreement would eliminate even more of them. Together the USA and EU trade represents 60% of global GDP.
Negotiations have taken place largely out of the public’s purview but in March 2014 the German newspaper Die Zeit, leaked some of the content
Proponents of TTIP assure the public that this agreement once implemented will reduce artificial barriers to trade, reduce or remove tariffs and result in cheaper goods for consumers. Those who oppose the agreement are not convinced.
Key to environmentalists in the EU is the assurance that their higher standards for environmental protections will not be eroded. Th…

Madagascar millions face famine from locust plague

B. McPherson
As many as 13 million people will face famine if the recurring  locust plague is not curbed this year. The insects which resemble large grasshoppers hatch in the billions and create huge hungry swarms which can devastate a field of crops, eating everything green. It has been estimated that the swarms consume over 100,000 tonnes of greenery every day.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO) is pleading for funding to combat this year’s hatch of eggs which is expected to coincide with the end of the rainy season in May. To date nearly US$29 million has been spent on a variety of methods to fight the insects over the past two years. The programme was planned for a three year stint, but funds are drying up. The FAO needs more than US$10 million to fund this year’s effort. They warn that if measures are not taken the previous years’ efforts may go to waste.
Some money is being provided by the Madagascar government but accusations have been made of incompetence and mos…