Monday, October 16, 2017

Is your food production poisoning farmers? Ask Prius to ban organophosphates.

Almond, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, walnuts and many other foods we consume routinely may contain vestiges of very toxic chemicals that can cause farm workers to faint, vomit or feel sick said Eriberto Fernandez- United Farm Workers Foundation. Interview: Amy Goodman. Democracy Now. May19. 2017 (1)

Once you know some of the pesticides and agricultural products are highly toxic, wouldn't that motivate you to support a more sustainable food system that supports you, but also the farmers and other people involved.  A way we can achieve this is 1. cultivating organic produce 2. supporting local sustainable farmer cooperatives CSA (organic or no spray) 3.  buying or consuming products grown in sustainable ways- respecting the land and the workers. 4. In rank maybe #1- influencing policy, to create more regulations that support sustainable multi-crop agricultural systems, friendly for people and the environment.

"Consumers, we all eat and we all have a role to play in changing the way American diet operates. [Consumers] can call out local grocery stores or their local assembly to make sure they offer more organic sustainable products."  Eriberto Fernandez (1)

Recently as this month, on May 5th 2017, cabbage pickers farming at the Baker's field, county-California, USA were sickened by what appear to be volatile residues of a previous spraying at a nearby orange orchard. Allegedly the chemical sprayed was Vulcan TM - a chemical from Down, which contains chlrpyrifus. This product was banned as a home products in 2001, but it is still allowed in Agriculture (about 8000 million pounds in the US)said Kristin Schafer -Pesticide Action Network North America (interview by Amy Goodman May 5th, 2017.)

For decades workers and environmental organizations have requested more restricted regulation of organochlorides, the group of chemicals of which this pesticides are part of. This pesticides are in the same group of the agent orange.

Does this chemical pass this simple test to make the American workers safer? It does not appear so.

"Every regulation would have to pass a simple test. Does it makes makes the lives better or safer of America? If the answer is not, we shall get rid of it."--President of USA, Donald Trump. Sitting Next to Down Chemicals Andrew N Liveris.  If the workers or the public get sick, who is responsible,
EPA Prius, director, the president, or Dow Chemical?

Note: written in May 2017. Saved Draft. Released online. Oct 16, 2017. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Good microbes love real food. Feed yourself good healthy, real food. MS
Thanks to Bill Gates conversation with Ed Young about microbes and  the coming documentary on microbes  for inspiring me to write this In the Nutshell - about the good microbes in our guts- for busy people.
Email me if you have questions.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dakota Access Pipeline Easement permit Denied. Environmental Assessment will follow.

After months of pacific resistance by indigenous tribes from North America and the rest of the Americas, the government finally took the decision to halt the project known as the Dakota Access Pipeline. This project that seeks to transport 500K barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois have not been granted the easement it was seeking. Instead they suppose to complete an environmental assessment and possible find new routes for the pipeline if approved.
One of the main sources of conflict concerning the debated route was that it puts at risk the water of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. The protestors those called themselves the water protectors.  The Standing Rock Tribe reservation is located very near the proposed route thus the tribe was at the center of this cause. The project if approved as it was original stated, would have crossed near/over several sources of water including a portion of the Mississippi river and Lake Oahe. In addition, if a spill were to occur the soil may also be compromised.
Over the pass months Indigenous peoples have also argued for religious rights. The Standing Rock tribe said that the land where the proposed project would pass over sacred land. Their ancestors had been buried in that land which is now under the Corps of Engineers management. They called for the respect of ancient treaties that give them some cultural and religious protection.
The protestors or water protectors directed by the Standing Rock tribe included many Indian Nations, foreign indigenous peoples and outside supporters. The protestors opted for non-violent means of protest and prayer. Even though the protest were meant to be pacific in nature that was not the case. Because of violence exerted against the protestors by the Access Pipeline guards and the North Dakota Police (water canyons), outside observers (e.g., Amnesty International), and news reporters came to report on the protests.
The North Dakota Pipeline Access received protestors that tried to access their facilities with dogs that attacked them. This treatment was covered by Democracy Now an independent news source and because of the impact, it was also published in the general media. The violence against the indigenous peoples seen in the media helped the initial small movement to gather more visibility and adepts. The Dakota government try to indict journalist Amy Goodman from Democracy Now, and protestors which further aggravate the tensions. Later on the North Dakota police also attacked protestor with water hoses and intimidated them with rifles. These developments called for more support and for the public to request the intervention of the Department of Justice.
Environmentalist and concerned citizens from other places travel to the site to support the Indigenous people and to learn about the issue.  In addition to the site protest in North Dakota famously known as NoDALP, citizens gathered in many US cities to protest both the treatment to the indigenous peoples exerted by the Dakota Police as well as the environmental implications of an oil pipeline.
While The Standing Rock Tribe leaders met with Obama early on (Oct 25th, 2016), it wasn't until today (Dec 4th, 2016) that the President of the United States Mr. Barak Obama, The Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Justice --reached the decision to halt the project, and informed the protestors. Then Standing Rock Tribe published the news.
The Indigenous people rejoiced and were thankful to the president and the Army Corps for doing the right thing. It is not everyday that one sees this type of development in a conflict of this magnitude. This gives us hope that negotiations and pacific solutions are possible. This give us hopes that the rules and regulations that suppose to protect the people indeed may favor them rather than corporations.
Since, a new presidential administration is about to take place next month, the corporate side hopes for a new decision that favors them while the indigenous people expect for the decision taken today to be respected. This is still an open book.

December 4th. Environmental News highlight.
Disclosure: I have been advocating in favor of an environmental assessment, and in favor of #noDALP.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

An Environmental Assessment Needed for North Dakota Pipeline

Why an environmental assessment is required for the proposed pipeline.
1. It is a massive 7500 project crossing several states.
2. The cost- benefit analysis of such project need to be evaluated. Number of jobs/potential cost of environmental damage, land change, and potential spills. Where do the oil will go and to whom it will benefit? According to Bobby Kennedy Jr. the oil will be sent to China and only about 30 jobs will be created. If that is the case, could you said it is worth to risk the water of so many towns?
3. If the pipeline spills it is usually the USA government (tax payers) who will have to pay for repairs and environmental remediation.
4. Which towns -populations- may risk water pollution?
5. What are the implications of creating conflict between Indigenous people and the Corps of Engineers? (aka Government.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Environmental News: President Barak Obama and Standing Rock Sioux meet about ND pipeline. #NoDPL #News

Mirna Santana

The Joy of Nature: Fall Colors

In the splendor and beauty of this Autumn or Fall season we experience awe. This is the season that perhaps best shows us the delicate threads of life, the temporality of things. This beauty would last but a few days or at most a few weeks. Then it is gone, and the trees will be bare and yet in that nudity, they are ready to confront the harsh winter.  We may experience this beauty just as it is or we can do so with the curiosity of a child or the inquiring mind of a scientist. Why do the colors change?

Some of my most special moments of contemplating nature happens when we experience nature as it is.  It is the experience of being alive and being just another living creature within the environment. For example, It was a magic moment when I experienced the splendor of this tree in its pick colors and let that experience travel within my body, integrating it into my whole being. The experience of togetherness with nature happens just before the decision of placing my bag on the ground and proceeding to take the picture. Because the first moment was pure contemplation and in the second the rational mind was involved. Yet, as I love taking snap shoots of all things nature, I also experience the joy of an ordinary daily activity. As a trained scientist, there is also that wonder and inquiring about nature and what we observe. Do we really know what the changing trees are doing?

As it happens, the tree is doing a lot through this changing process. The changes are also the result of physiological responses to changes in environmental conditions. The tree receives the signals of the upcoming winter (cold days with some warm ones, less light, cloud covers) and starts to get ready for it. Many processes are involved in the changing colors. Some are physiological responses that scientists understand such as relocation of nitrogen and nutrients before the leaf falls and the protective value of anthocyanin, red pigments from chlorophyll inhibition. Less light and colder temperatures let the trees know that they can stop producing chlorophyll, the green pigments and the more efficient among plant pigments. But the tree needs to be alive when the chlorophyll is not working for the tree. Other pigments take the job of continuing the processes such as carotenoids (orange, yellowish colors to stand out. Eco-physiological responses to weather (less light, cold days) and cloud cover bring about anthocyanins (red pigment) to the game. Others potential evolutionary or coevolutionary processes that may signal herbivores to get off the plant or residents to move on, because the leaves are going to fall are not well studied and thus not well understood. When I first so the hypothesis I thought all things mushrooms (I am biased towards them.) There is a link between the mushrooms above and those below the trees, because the leaves of all trees eventually fall.  A suit of ecological hypotheses including the defense mechanism activation to avoid predation by signaling danger (red) and other hypothesis have been proposed. Other theoretical works suggest physical/environmental factors such as soil moisture, temperature, tree position and status (dominant tree vs seedling), amount of light available and so on, play stronger roles in the outcome of the colors.  However, funding for studies that do not involve molecular or genetics are low these days so many field scientists take data on leaf phenology (changes) and correlated patterns to available environmental data (e.g. precipitation) through time. Yet many of us, would not seek answer to these questions and mostly watch the colors as tourist do.

Speaking of tourism, the Autumn brings about a lot of tourism and economic incentive to several states and countries. The colors are more intense in the USA and Canada than they tend to be in Europe. Seasonal variations influence the outcome of the colors . But if you are going to any place famous for the Autumn colors, you do not need to concern about what causes the changes. The leaf trackers (e.g., Department of Natural Resources) or the tourist agencies, webpages and brochures could tell you when and where the colors are picking. They will tell you what the best locations are for you to take your trip to observe the Autumn in its magnificence. If you do, you and the trees would be somehow 'conspiring' to bring more wealth to those regions. Of course, the trees never get pay for providing aesthetic value or moments of awe. For those who enjoy the changing trees on their yards, the raking of leaves may be another time for peaceful relaxation or rage. Cities in which the conditions allow for these scenes of changing colors wisely invest on planting attractive deciduous trees. The trees naturally respond to the conditions and make their residents and visitors glad. Because we already know that nature has a positive impact on the wellbeing of people, and the wealth of cities, I say, lets stop here and lets get out to enjoy the Autumn colors while they last.

Copyrights © Mirna Santana
Biologist and Freelance writer
Published by Mirna Santana blog on Environment, October 2016.