Welcome to the World of the Super Rat
By Paul E McGinniss
[Editor's note: On Tuesday, California's Proposition 37—a measure that would have required genetically engineered (GE) foods to be labeled—was defeated. The labeling law lost because large agricultural chemical companies like DOW and Monsanto spent more than $45 million on misinforming voters on the potential health risks associated with eating and growing GE foods. The post below outlines how this industry is gearing up to spread even more toxic pesticides and herbicides across America as part of its farming regime. In addition to the potential danger of eating GE foods, the potential fallout from the toxic chemicals used in GE farming is incalculable.]
Just when I thought the new super weeds invading the Earth (you know, those hard-to-kill, terminator-like weeds which have become immune to toxic herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup) were scary enough, now I learn about super rats, which, like super weeds, have become immune to the poisons designed to kill them.
An ongoing study by Dr. Dougie Clarke, head of biological sciences at the University of Huddersfield’s School of Applied Sciences, UK, has shown that widespread use of rodenticides has led to rats becoming resistant to previously effective, commonly used rat poisons. Over time, in areas treated with these poisons, the rat population will evolve exclusively into the Super Rat type that pass the resistance gene to their offspring.
And, it gets worse. Australian Museum naturalist Martin Robinson reported, "A lot of suburban rats have become immune to the poison baits. And that when they become immune to the bait, they can actually become addicted to it."
In order to combat the rodents, stronger poisons are being introduced that are deadly, even to the Super Rats. But, there is worry that Super Rats could potentially become genetically resistant to these stronger poisons as well.
Like herbicides and pesticides used widely on farms and throughout the country, rodenticides can pose a high risk to humans, animals and wildlife.
According to Beyond Pesticides, "The American Association of Poison Control Centers annually receives between 12,000 and 15,000 reports of children under the age of six being exposed to these types of products, with black and Hispanic children living below the poverty line being disproportionately affected." The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that these rodenticides “are, by far, the leading cause of [pesticide-related] visits to health care facilities in children under the age of six years and the second leading cause of hospitalization.”
The rise of the super rat parallels the rise of the super weed. Studies show that Genetically Modified Crops Have Led to Pesticide Increase. A report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, shows that U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides than ever before to kill weeds and insects because genetically modified crop technologies have sparked the rise of "super weeds" and "super bugs" that have become immune to the poisons currently used to kill them.
Ironically, one of the purported benefits of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) technology was that the genetically modified plants, which were made resistant to the insecticides and herbicides sold along with them, would reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides. In fact, according to Charles Benbrook and other scientists, new weed species have become resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, causing farmers to use increasing amounts of glyphosate and other weed killing chemicals to try to control the so-called "superweeds."
And, according to Benbrook, the introduction of genetically modified "Bt" corn and cotton crops, which are engineered to be toxic to certain insects, has triggered the rise of "super bugs" which are now resistant to the crops with the spliced-in genetic toxin.
There is much evidence that GMO crops and the herbicides used with them are poisoning the world's drinking water.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 88,000 tons of Roundup were used in the U.S. in 2007 alone. In a groundbreaking study published last year in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, evidence surfaced that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's patented herbicide, Roundup, is polluting the groundwater in areas where it is being applied.
In 2011, the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, published a study which found Roundups's glyphosate was in 60-100 percent of all air and rain samples tested, indicating that glyphosate pollution and exposure is now omnipresent in the U.S. Accumulating evidence indicates that glyphosate is also resistant to biodegradation.
A new and alarming study published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology, supports the emerging connection between glyphosate and the emergence of neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinson's disease and Parkinsonian disorders. Human epidemiological studies have found an association between Roundup exposure and miscarriages, birth defects, neurological development problems, DNA damage and certain types of cancer.
But, the big agricultural-chemical companies do not seem to have learned from their past mistakes. They have taken the approach, as with the battle against the super rat, that the way to solve the problem of super weeds and super bugs is to spray even more toxic poisons to kill the very invasive species caused by their dangerous experiments on the environment and our health.
Clearly, Dow and Monsanto have joined forces to poison America's Heartland. They have partnered to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2,4-D, one half of their infamous defoliant, Agent Orange, in support of a weed management program to kill super weeds. These even-more-toxic herbicides are to be sold in tandem with a corn that is genetically engineered to be immune to the poison. This modified corn has been dubbed "Agent Orange Corn."
With this Orwellian approach to farming, there is a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America’s corn belt over the next decade.
Visit EcoWatch’s GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM page for more related news on this topic.
Paul E McGinniss is The New York Green Advocate. He is a green building consultant and real estate broker in New York. He is pretty much obsessed with all things environment and has lately become a resiliency addict.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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