A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
With lockdowns in place and budgets slashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many environmental protections vanished this past year, leaving some of the world's most vulnerable species and habitats at risk. But conservationists at the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation were faced with an entirely different threat.
Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Brett Wilkins
New data released Friday revealed pigs slaughtered at plants piloting a controversial new system—which speeds production while replacing many government inspectors with slaughterhouse employees—had much higher rates of fecal and digestive matter contamination than animals processed in other plants, information that the Trump administration hid from the public while expanding the system.
<div id="3d1b9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a8b85539bdb4b59a69c715198e4bfd66"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1362824326123249665" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">“This new data should end this argument once and for all: Meat companies should not be left to police themselves to… https://t.co/ocjzYckRaR</div> — Food & Water Watch (@Food & Water Watch)<a href="https://twitter.com/foodandwater/statuses/1362824326123249665">1613757614.0</a></blockquote></div>
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As unusually cold temperatures descended on the south and central U.S. this week, it wasn't only humans who struggled to adjust.
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The clone in question is a black-footed ferret named Elizabeth Ann, and her lineage could bring much needed genetic diversity to the imperiled species.
"[I]t was a commitment to seeing this species survive that has led to the successful birth of Elizabeth Ann," Ryan Phelan, the executive director of biotechnology conservation nonprofit Revive and Restore, said in a Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) press release. "To see her now thriving ushers in a new era for her species and for conservation-dependent species everywhere. She is a win for biodiversity and for genetic rescue."
Cutting-edge science and a blast from the past! Meet Elizabeth Ann. She’s the first-ever cloned black-footed ferret… https://t.co/L4SShmmXOQ— US Fish and Wildlife (@US Fish and Wildlife)1613669102.0
Elizabeth Ann's birth was a joint effort from FWS, Revive and Restore, ViaGen Pets and Equine, San Diego Zoo Global and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She arrived on Dec. 10, with the birth first announced on Thursday.
The history of the black-footed ferret makes her birth an especially important milestone. The species once lived throughout the U.S. West, FWS recovery coordinator Pete Gober told The New York Times. But their numbers dwindled as their primary prey, prairie dogs, also declined due to habitat loss, poison and disease. At one point, scientists believed the black-footed ferret to be extinct.
"We thought they were gone," Gober told The New York Times.
That changed in 1981, when a ranch dog named Shep dragged one back to his owners' home in Wyoming. However, disease wiped out much of the newly discovered ranch population. The FWS captured 18 ferrets for a breeding program, but all of the ferrets they have bred and released since have come from just seven parents.
That's where Elizabeth Ann fits in. She is a clone of Willa, one of the last wild-caught black-footed ferrets whose genes were never passed on, according to FWS. However, they were preserved by the San Diego Zoo Global's Frozen Zoo in 1988, making Elizabeth Ann's birth possible.
"With these cloning techniques, you can basically freeze time and regenerate those cells," Gober told The Associated Press.
Scientists determined that her genome had triple the unique variations of the current ferret population, meaning that Elizabeth Ann's descendants could play a role in boosting the species' genetic health, according to FWS.
That won't happen right away, The New York Times reported. First, Elizabeth Ann will be joined by other Willa clones, as well as clones of a male named Studbook Number 2. The clones will breed, while their offspring will be interbred with wild ferrets. Scientists need to make sure that none of the mitochondrial DNA from the clones' surrogate mother, a domestic ferret, is passed on.
Cloning, which involves copying the genes of one plant or animal to make a new one, is emerging as a conservation strategy for imperiled species. Viagen, a Texas-based company that helped clone Willa, also cloned a Przewalski's wild horse last summer, The Associated Press reported. The Przewalski is a Mongolian horse species whose population of around 2,000 is descended from only 12 animals.
Cloning could also recover extinct animals. Ben Novak, Revive and Restore's lead scientist, wants to bring back the passenger pigeon, and the nonprofit is also looking into cloning a wooly mammoth. Some conservationists argue that these efforts take funding away from protecting existing species, The New York Times reported. But Novak argued that the genetic technology required for both de-extinction and conservation is the same.
The FWS also noted that it is not abandoning more traditional conservation efforts.
"Successful genetic cloning does not diminish the importance of addressing habitat-based threats to the species or the Service's focus on addressing habitat conservation and management to recover black-footed ferrets," Noreen Walsh, director of the Service's Mountain-Prairie region, said in the press release.
The dramatic cold snap that devastated Texas's power grid also had a major impact on the state's nonhuman inhabitants.
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c87ecbcf4da4d0862b45da74bd59aea0"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/SeaTurtleConservation/posts/5368924459814606"></div></div><p>The rescue involved a collective effort. Social media posts showed a retiree hauling turtles in the back of her car and Texas Game Wardens lining the deck of their ship with turtles.</p>
<div id="3d490" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8f68413eccafac89ed421ca127f450ca"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1361460058530308096" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">My mom is retired, & she spends her winters volunteering at a sea turtle rescue center in south Texas. The cold sna… https://t.co/91yz3BNAY6</div> — Lara (@Lara)<a href="https://twitter.com/lara_hand/statuses/1361460058530308096">1613432347.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="73055" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f26ef4bafb29456ed9d70ec5f4edafe"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1361843910453063682" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Texas Game Wardens assigned to Cameron county rescued 141 sea turtles from the frigid waters of the Brownsville Shi… https://t.co/I9IFZwTqnl</div> — Texas Game Warden (@Texas Game Warden)<a href="https://twitter.com/TexasGameWarden/statuses/1361843910453063682">1613523864.0</a></blockquote></div>
Domestic cats are adorable human companions, but they can have a terrifying impact on birds and other wildlife. Their hunting has contributed to the extinction of 63 birds, mammals and reptiles, and they are the number one human-caused threat to birds in the U.S. and Canada, according to American Bird Conservancy.
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A giraffe's life is a hard one, crowded by humans, stressed by habitat fragmentation and threatened by poaching. But for females, friends could make it better and longer, a recent study finds.
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If you've ever had a hard time thinking when a noisy truck rattles by, you're not alone.
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By Theresa Crimmins, Erin Posthumus, and Kathleen Prudic
The rapid spread of COVID-19 in 2020 disrupted field research and environmental monitoring efforts worldwide. Travel restrictions and social distancing forced scientists to cancel studies or pause their work for months. These limits measurably reduced the accuracy of weather forecasts and created data gaps on issues ranging from bird migration to civil rights in U.S. public schools.
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By Ajit Niranjan
The way food is grown around the world threatens 24,000 of the 28,000 species that are at risk of extinction, according to a report published Wednesday that calls on world leaders to urgently reform the global food system.
Feeding the World<p>The food system sits at the heart of four worsening global crises: climate, extinction, hunger and obesity. With more than a third of the world's land used for agriculture, experts are grappling with how to feed a growing population more food that is healthy — while at the same time killing less wildlife and emitting fewer <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/un-report-woefully-inadequate-climate-pledges-spell-32c-temperature-rise/a-55878680" target="_blank">greenhouse gases</a>.</p><p>For decades, environmental activists have held up organic farms, which avoid synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, as a nature-friendly alternative to conventional agriculture. Some farmers have turned to regenerative practices that store carbon dioxide in soils and make crops more resilient to storms and droughts.</p><p>But ecologists say there is a catch.</p>
The Organic Dilemma<p>Because <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/organic-farming-certificate-africa/a-52352517" target="_blank">organic</a> and regenerative farms typically yield less food per hectare than industrial farms, sustainable farmers need to use more land if they are to grow the same amount of food.</p><p>A 2019 <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12622-7" target="_blank">study</a> published in the journal Nature Communications found that adopting organic farming across the UK would, in fact, lead to more greenhouse gas emissions. Lower yields at home would be offset by imported food from croplands that would expand onto natural ecosystems.</p><p>In the US, a detailed lifecycle assessment of a regenerative farm found that its greenhouse gas emissions for each kilogram of meat were 66% lower than conventional alternatives, but took up 2.5 times more land, according to a <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2020.544984/full" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published in December in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.</p><p>Experts say there isn't enough land to feed the world and its growing appetite for meat through sustainable farms alone, even if they were built on marginal lands like degraded cropland.</p><p>The only thing that will allow us to farm in a sustainable way is changing our demand for food, said Benton. "That sounds horribly elitist, middle-class, 'let's all go vegan'," he said. But it could free up demand for land that could then be satisfied by sustainable farms. </p><p>Beef and a few other red meats, for instance, supply 1% of the world's calories but account for 25% of the emissions that come with changing how land is used, according to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-03138-y" target="_blank">study</a> published in the journal Nature in January. To produce the same amount of protein as tofu, beef uses up 75 more times land.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Indonesia, foreign demand for commodities drives companies to raze rainforests to grow soy for cattle and <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/indonesia-palmoil-deforestation-peatlands-fires-climate-change/a-53587027" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">oil palm</a> for cooking and use in processed foods.</p><p>In many cases, the food is not even eaten. About a third of all food made is lost during production or wasted.</p>
Cheap, Unhealthy Food<p>The charge sheet ecologists have against industrial agriculture is long: destroying forest homes of endangered mammals like orangutans; killing bees that farmers rely on to pollinate crops; chopping trees that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere; and degrading soils that future generations will need to feed themselves.</p><p>But doctors, too, are worried.</p><p>Expanding farmlands raises the risk of zoonotic diseases crossing from animals to humans. Factory farms pump antibiotics into livestock that encourages the growth of bacteria that are resistant to treatment. And then there's nutrition.</p><p>Obesity rates have tripled in the last half century amid a rise in foods high in fat and sugars and a fall in physical activity, bringing greater risk of heart disease and some cancers. The World Health Organization has called on the food industry to reduce the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods, and make sure that healthy choices are affordable to everybody.</p><p>"Our current food system is a double-edged sword shaped by decades of the cheaper food paradigm," said Susan Gardner, Director of UNEP's Ecosystems Division. It aims to make more food, quickly and cheaply, without considering the costs to biodiversity and health, she said.</p><p>But at the same time, cheap food prices and productivity increases in agriculture have given more people access to food, said Irene Hoffman, Secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), who was not involved in the report. "Otherwise, our current food insecurity index would be much, much higher."</p><p>The world population has doubled in the last 50 years to 7.8 billion people. While food production has kept up, 1 in 10 people today still go to bed hungry each night. By 2050, when the population is expected to reach nearly 10 billion people, the competition for land will be even greater because of efforts to grow plants to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.</p><p>A landmark <a href="https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0140673618317884" target="_blank">study</a> published in the medical journal Lancet in 2019 found that world leaders could feed 10 billion people and still stay within a "safe operating space on Earth" by radically changing food production and shifting diets.</p><p>And doing so, the authors found, would make people healthier.</p><p>A move to healthy, sustainable diets would involve eating half as much red meat and sugar globally, and twice as many nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes. It would avoid more than 7 million premature deaths per year, as well as reducing pressure on <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/biodiversity-sixth-mass-extinction-animals-plants-kew-conservation-species-gerardo-ceballos/a-55099955" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nature</a>. </p><p>This, in turn, this would also make the farms more resilient to shocks like climate change, disease and soil erosion, safeguarding food supplies for the future.</p><p><span></span>"There's often a tendency to play nature against agriculture, which is absolutely not the case," said Hoffmann. "Agriculture depends on biodiversity, it is shaped by biodiversity [and] it manages biodiversity." </p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-food-biodiversity-extinction-food-waste-health-meat-plant-based/a-56416006" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em></p>
By Jacob Carter
Since 1918 the federal government has implemented its authority under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to hold industries accountable for the death of birds due to their operations. Such operations include the spraying of insecticides that poison birds, maintaining oil pits that can lead to drowning, or contact with infrastructure such as wind turbines that can cause death on impact.