Thursday, January 19, 2006

European Greens are killing innocent Africans

Uganda Fighting for Right to Eradicate Malaria

Explained Tren in written remarks submitted to the committee, "DDT is safe for human use, and there has never been a peer-reviewed replicated study showing any human harm from the chemical, even though billions have been exposed to it (hundreds of millions in moderate to high doses).

"It's utterly disgraceful for a powerful company like Bayer not only to put commercial interests above human life, but also to lie in the process," Tren said. "We fear that commercial entities such as Bayer ... are using bad science and fear about DDT in order to advance their own particular interests.

"Ultimately it is poor children in Africa that pay for these policy failures, based on abused science," added Tren. "We urge the U.S. government to insist that years of scaremongering and bad science be reversed and to take a strong stance against the EU and Bayer Crop Sciences."
Until now, Uganda has bowed to outside pressure, but Health Minister Jim Muhwezi is determined to use DDT. Speaking at a World Malaria Day commemoration in April 2005, Muhwezi noted, "DDT has been proven, over and over again, to be the most effective and least expensive method of fighting malaria."

Many countries with a high incidence of malaria rely on international aid to fund their malaria-control programs and thus are forced to adopt policies that aid agencies and the European Union prefer.

Don Roberts, professor of Tropical Public Health at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, noted "there is overwhelming evidence that malarious countries are being pressed by rich countries not to use DDT. It is a chilling thought that rich and powerful countries are willing to trade the lives of poor rural people for reasons that have no basis in science."

"The aggressive European opposition to DDT use in Africa is a disaster," said Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "For all the time they spend talking about assisting Africa, European governments do far more harm than good.

"As Ugandan Health Minister Muhwezi points out, the best thing Europe can do for Africa is stop arm-twisting them into foregoing the use of DDT," said Burnett. "Do Europeans care about African lives? If they do, they must turn their backs on the politically correct rhetoric of environmental activist groups and allow DDT to start saving lives. European Greens are killing innocent Africans."

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Podcast on Nuclear Power

Check out This Week in Nuclear Podcast. This is a great way to keep up on the news related to nuclear power. Show your appreciation and give a donation!

More glowing farm animals

Green-tinged farm points the way

Pigs and chickens that glow in the dark may signal a new era for the farm yard.

UK scientists at the Roslin Institute say they have dramatically improved the technique for introducing modifications to an animal's genetic make-up.

So far, the researchers have used the new method to introduce a jellyfish gene that makes their pigs and chickens fluoresce - to prove changes will work.

Now, the scientists expect to create animals that are resistant to disease
or can be used to study disease.

The new technique uses viruses to carry chosen genes into fertilised eggs. Once altered, the eggs are then implanted in surrogate females.
"We're now piggybacking on this medical research as a way of producing transgenic animals, and what makes these vectors exciting is the fact that they're very efficient," said Dr Whitelaw, from Roslin's department of gene expression and development.

"Rather than the minority of animals ending up transgenic, the majority end up transgenic."

Three Green Piggies

Taiwan breeds green-glowing pigs (Hat Tip: Fox News)

Scientists in Taiwan say they have bred three pigs that "glow in the dark".

They claim that while other researchers have bred partly fluorescent pigs, theirs are the only pigs in the world which are green through and through.

The pigs are transgenic, created by adding genetic material from jellyfish into a normal pig embryo.
The scientists will use the transgenic pigs to study human disease. Because the pig's genetic material is green, it is easy to spot.

Solar/Nuclear Detente?

Rocky Mountain High (Hat Tip: NEI Nuclear Notes)

I spend the morning with Larry Kazmerski, director of photovoltaic research. He’s an engineering veteran, always high-spirited, and one of the world’s leading authorities on solar electricity. I listen for awhile, then pose a question. “What do you think our ultimate solution is going to be?”

He eyes me cautiously. “You’re probably not going to believe this,” he says, “but around here we think it should be nuclear and solar. We’re big nuclear enthusiasts, although we don’t broadcast it much. I think we need nuclear to cover our base load of electricity and solar for peaking power. Solar’s best right when we need it—on hot summer days. If we do that, we can retire the fossil fuels—‘conserve’ them at least. It’s the only way we’re going to beat global warming.”

I am a bit astonished. “You know, that’s exactly what I’m going to say in my book—we need a nuclear-solar alliance.”

His eyes widen. “You’re going to write THAT book!” he says. “I know a hundred people waiting to read that book. Our big problem in the Department of Energy is the nuclear and solar people won’t talk to each other.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Unintended Consequences Yet Again...

Beware how you meddle with climate change

Everyone knows trees are "A Good Thing". They take in the carbon dioxide that threatens our planet with global warming and turn it into fresh, clean oxygen for us all to breathe.

But now it seems we need to think again. In a discovery that has left climate scientists gasping, researchers have found that the earth's vegetation is churning out vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent even than CO2. This is not a product of trees and plants rotting, which everyone already knew was a source of methane; it is an entirely natural side-effect of plant growth that scientists had somehow missed. Yet it is by no means trivial: preliminary estimates suggest that living trees and plants account for about 10 to 30 per cent of the methane entering the atmosphere.

The discovery, reported by an international team of scientists in the current issue of the journal Nature, is adding fresh fuel to the debate over the confidence we can put in global warming science.
...evidence pointing to huge holes in the science of atmospheric methane has been circulating for years. In 1998, Nature carried a study showing global increases in methane were mysteriously levelling off. Now it seems that deforestation - that bĂȘte noire of the environmentalist movement - may have helped combat the rise of this greenhouse gas.

Everyone knows fossil fuel power stations are hefty producers of CO2 and need urgently to be replaced. Yet they are now also recognised as hefty producers of aerosols - tiny particles in the atmosphere that play a key role in reflecting the sun's heat back into space. The scientific consensus was that this is a minor benefit of fossil fuel burning. But last month Nature published new research showing aerosols may be twice as effective at keeping the earth cool as was thought. Suddenly, wholesale closure of power stations no longer seems such a good idea.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The cost of political pandering: millions of lives

Brandon: Pandering to politics costs lives

Suppose that over the next year the entire population of the Memphis metropolitan area were to die: 2,700-plus people gone each and every day, over a million in a year. And further imagine that another 200 million-plus, more than half the population of the entire U.S., were made chronically ill and, in a majority of those cases, unable to work.

Then consider that it was all caused by a disease that could have been eliminated through use of a common, cheap chemical, but the government refused to allow it, even though no scientific evidence had ever shown it to have caused harm to humans.

Imagine the outcry.

Such a scenario is being played out over much of the globe: One million to three million people dead annually, 200 million to 300 chronically ill from malaria, because governments won’t allow the use of the pesticide DDT to kill mosquitoes that carry the disease.
Although there was some questionable evidence that DDT, in large quantities, caused thinning of the shells of the eggs of some bird species (this is still being debated in the scientific community), there was not then — nor now — one scintilla of scientific proof that DDT had caused a single human death or a single human cancer.
...malaria had been eliminated in the U.S. prior to DDT being outlawed. But for much of the rest of the world — especially Third World nations — the loss of DDT saw the number of malaria cases begin skyrocketing. And deaths.

GM corn provides iron

GM maize 'could help fight against iron-deficiency'

Nearly two billion people, mostly women and children in poor countries, get too little dietary iron. This is the main cause of anaemia, which can stunt children's development and cause chronic fatigue in adults.

Lead researcher Eva Stoger of Aachen University in Germany and colleagues modified the maize by adding genes to its DNA from both soybean and the Aspergillus niger fungus.

The two genes work together to retain iron from the soil and make it available in a form that humans can absorb.

Granting a better future

From the GoldenRice web site

The University of Freiburg has been awarded a grant under the Grand Challenges in Global Health Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Found­ation. During the next five years and on the basis of Golden Rice, the laboratory of Peter Beyer will coordinate an international consortium that will develop biofortified rice capable of accumulating iron, zinc, high-quality protein and vitamin E in the grain.

Organic food is self-indulgent, wasteful and immoral

Why we must all give up organic in 2006

This a wonderful article on the moral evils of organic food. Not that I agree with everything he has to say - I don't think his belief about SUVs being evil has any factual basis in reality, but that's a very minor nit pick. He expresses beautifully something I have believed for some time: it is self-indulgent, wasteful and yes, actually immoral to indulge in the fantasy that expensive, inefficient organic food is better for us and the environment. The truth is exactly the opposite.

It's self-indulgent, wasteful and frankly immoral. But you know how it is. I was swept along with the trend, and it felt good at the time. But I don't want to be a hypocrite. So I'm giving up organic food in 2006

....When it comes to basic needs such as food, the most important development of the last century has been the creation of nitrogen fertilisers. By replacing the nitrogen lost when a crop is harvested you can continue to plant the same plot of land each year without losing productivity. This means the same area of land produces anything up to double the quantity of food.

...Let's farm the current 1.5 billion hectares of farmland organically. A rough estimate suggests that we could sustain a global population of around 2.4 billion.

...forget western luxuries such as national parks, or indeed, parks. Even if we managed to double the world's farmland and maintained productivity in increasingly marginal areas (like the Cairngorms), we're still short. That's still 200 million dead people. Just because the Soil Association tells us that synthetic fertilisers are wrong.
...The inefficiencies of organic land use make it less environmentally friendly than conventional farming whose efficiencies mean we can return land to nature.

...if we are self-indulgently to insist that we are so important that we should be fed organically, with its yields some 20% to 50% lower, that can only put an additional, unnecessary strain on feeding the planet. Every organic mouthful makes it more difficult to feed the most vulnerable. As the distinguished Indian plant biologist CS Prakash put it: "The only thing sustainable about organic farming in the developing world is that it sustains poverty and malnutrition."

Organic food – because it's so inefficient to produce – is considerably more expensive than conventionally farmed food. Yet it brings no health benefits and doesn't even taste better. If it did, then the Advertising Standards Authority wouldn't have upheld complaints against the Soil Association for describing organic as "healthier" than conventionally farmed food. Or as the Food Standards Agency put it in 2004: "Organic food is not significantly different in terms of food safety and nutrition from food produced conventionally."

Sir John Krebs of the FSA has noted: "A single cup of coffee contains natural carcinogens equal to at least a year's worth of carcinogenic residues in the diet." Yet we're tacitly encouraging the nation's poor to spend cash on this indulgence. Consider Sir John again: "Dietary contributions to cardiovascular disease and to cancer... probably account for more than 100,000 deaths per year in Britain. Food poisoning probably accounts for between 50 and 300... pesticides in food, as well as GM food, are not responsible for any deaths."

The quality of lower-income household diets has a direct impact on the health and vigour of the nation. Yet we delight that the nation's poor are increasingly spending money they don't need to on a middle-class indulgence.

...Patrick Holden of the Soil Association has insisted that you can't test the benefits of organic farming scientifically because organic farming is "holistic, integrated and [represents] joined-up thinking". Apparently, "holistic science strays into territory where the current tools of understanding that are available to the scientific community are not sufficiently well developed to measure what's going on".

...Many years ago I was taught that you shouldn't confine yourself simply to giving things up. That positive resolutions were important, too. So here's mine: In 2006 I shall tuck into food made more productively and at a lower cost than organic and regular conventional agriculture. A food whose production increases biodiversity in fields and lowers pesticide use. A food enjoyed every day by 280 million Americans and indeed much of the livestock that we eat. A food that has brought nothing but health benefits to those who enjoy it. That's right. Call it what you will. Genetically Modified, GM, transgenic. I just like to think of it as safer, more productive, kinder to its local environment, and kinder to the globe. That's what I call good food.

Actually, I don't believe the author of this piece goes far enough. Africa needs an agricultural revolution now. The benefits of nitrogen fertilizer and the hybrid varieties of the "green revolution" produced by researcher Norman Borlaug and others that saved over a billion lives in the 20th century have had little impact on Africa. Genetic engineering is finally bringing the agricultural revolution that Africa needs. But organizations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth actively oppose "geneically modified," or "GM" foods - so much so that they have convinced the (well fed) leaders of some (starving) African nations to ban GM corn donated for famine relief.

So "think globally/act locally" - buy genetically modified foods which use less land and need far less pesticides, and avoid organic food, which uses far more land and cannot claim any real health benefits -- may, in fact, actually be more harmful! And stop supporting groups that spread lies that kill millions of helpless human beings.

Zambia still bans food for famine victims

Zambia says ban on gene-altered maize stands

Zambia said on Thursday a ban on gene-altered maize remained in force despite pressure from millers arguing it delayed shipment of grains to the southern African country.

Zambia faces severe food shortages and the government declared a national food emergency last year to attract more donor support to save people on the brink of starvation. It says 1.7 million people need food handouts because they are far too poor to afford commercial purchases.

Monday, January 02, 2006

USAID spends millions on ineffective malaria prevention advice

From the Africa Fighting Malaria web site:

"The Malaria epidemic is like loading up seven Boeing 747 airliners each day, then deliberately crashing them into Mt. Kilimanjaro." -Dr. Wenceslaus Kilama, Chairman, Malaria Foundation International

Let DDT take care of malaria scourge

Mosquito nets alone are insufficient. DDT, a chemical insecticide which kills mosquitoes, was used to eradicate malaria from the US and western Europe by the mid-20th century, saving untold numbers of human lives. In 1971, the US banned DDT based largely on unsound science and scaremongering. Largely for this reason, DDT is absent from USAID control strategies despite its proven success. Where DDT was used in Zambia to target malarial mosquitoes, reported cases of the disease plummeted 75% in two years. In SA, DDT was removed from national malaria control strategies in 1996 to appease environmental interest groups. Cases had increased tenfold by 2000, when the government promptly reintroduced the chemical and watched the malaria burden drop nearly 80%.

Yet DDT continues to be demonised. Its use in public health programmes is limited to spraying tiny amounts of the chemical inside houses — not aerial spraying of agricultural fields as opponents would have you believe. Spraying it on the inside walls once a year is sufficient not only to destroy mosquitoes coming into contact with the chemical, but also to stop mosquitoes from entering the house. Moreover, DDT has not been linked to a single case of human cancer in five decades of use. Perhaps DDT’s adversaries would relent if they, like many African children, were bitten every night by deadly insects.

DDT remains the cheapest and most effective means of combating malaria. The US has the money to buy DDT and the political might to rebrand its image.

How DDT can stop millions of malaria deaths

How DDT can stop millions of malaria deaths

This is a fantastic, must-read article. I have not read anywhere else such a concise yet complete and lucid account of all of the facts and forces that have consipired to condemn millions of Africans to unbelievable suffering and death. The extract below is just the tip of the fur on the bunny-ear. This is just a wonderful article. Please, please read it. I guarantee it will change the way you view the world and, believe it or not, it could change your life...

Every year, more than a half-a-billion people suffer agonising pains and fevers because of malaria, a disease that is entirely preventable and curable. In Africa, someone -- normally a child -- dies every 30 seconds from this disease, causing unimaginable grief, human suffering and economic stagnation.

It needn't be this way, however; about 50 years ago, malaria was eradicated from Europe and the United States, and right now some countries have successful anti-malaria programmes. Yet, far from helping countries with malaria, many donor agencies and United Nations organisations actually hamper the fight against the disease and the deadly mosquitoes that transmit it.

One of the best ways of controlling malaria is to use the insecticide that most environmentalists love to hate -- DDT. If mosquitoes and parasites were not enough to contend with, the politics surrounding the use of DDT and vested interests that oppose it make it nearly impossible for countries to use DDT for malaria control in spite of its incredible success.
When used in malaria control, DDT is sprayed in tiny quantities on the inside walls of houses. This application repels mosquitoes so that they don't enter houses to feed on humans, and kills them if they do enter.
Growing campaigns by environmentalist groups during the 1960s culminated in the hearings into DDT by the newly formed US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After eight months and extensive, in-depth hearings presented with evidence from experts both for and against DDT, the presiding Judge, Edmund Sweeney, ruled that DDT should not be banned. Despite the popular view that DDT was highly damaging to the environment and human health, there was, in fact, little scientific evidence to support these beliefs.

Yet DDT was banned anyway by the head of the EPA, William Ruckelshaus, in a neat example of politics trumping good science. The EPA had just been formed and its head was keen to demonstrate that the agency could and would take decisive actions to protect the environment. The fact that banning DDT wouldn't actually help the environment was neither here nor there.

Since the EPA banned DDT in agriculture, countless studies have been conducted into the potential impacts of DDT on human health, yet none of them have been able to find any concrete evidence of actual human harm. DDT is remarkably non-toxic to humans; people have tried to commit suicide by eating it and failed miserably. DDT is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which may sound alarming, but is the same classification given to coffee and many other foodstuffs in our daily diet.

What can I say. Environmental politics trumped science and millions died. And environmental groups still fight the use of DDT to battle maralia. This eco-fundamentalist caused haulocast must stop now! Please, please read this article.

If you do nothing else after reading this article, please check the web site of any environmental group you support with your money and see what their position is on the use of DDT for malaria control. Do not just call and ask them what their position is and take their word for it - look at what they've actually said in press releases, articles, and information on their web site.

Just do it. Then act. Millions of lives depend on what you do. Or don't do.

Today's Random Medical News

See Consumer Freedom for more...

Zambia Allows Its People to Eat

The government of Zambia ... has altered its anti-GM food policy, allowing millions of starving Zambians access to food aid.

Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa has finally ordered agricultural officials to allow GM corn into the country, greatly expanding the amount of food that will reach his country's under-nourished population.

Mwanawasa's decision represents a remarkable turn from his previous condemnation of GM foods (
he labeled them "poison" and "intrinsically dangerous"). Mwanawasa didn't exactly come up with this "scientific" opinion himself -- some green thumbs helped him grow it. In 2002 The Washington Times reported that then-U.S. foreign aid chief Andrew Natsios "criticized environmental groups as 'revolting and despicable' for urging starving nations such as Zambia to reject American corn because of genetic alteration." The same article reports that American officials specifically identified Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth among those activist groups.

As a result of activists' pressure, when
millions of his people faced famine in 2002, Mwanawasa spurned offers of donated GM food, leading to food riots. Former Zambian agriculture minister Guy Scott condemned "the various international NGOs that have spoken approvingly of the [Zambian] government's action," wondering how groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth "will square the body count with their various consciences."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Let Them Eat Precaution

How Politics Is Undermining the Genetic Revolution in Agriculture

The genetic revolution has offered more promise than substance, except in agriculture, where it has brought profound benefits to farmers and consumers for more than a decade. More nutritious food is now produced with less environmental costs because genetically modified crops require almost no pesticides. Vitamin-enhanced crops and foods are helping to reduce malnutrition in parts of the developing world, and a wave of biopharmaceuticals is being developed. Yet, for all its achievements and promise, agricultural biotechnology is under intense fire from advocacy groups warning of “Frankenfoods” and fanning fear of a “corporate takeover” of agriculture by biotech firms. Mired in a rancorous trade and cultural war between Europe and the United States and inflamed by a politicized media, this technology remains dramatically underutilized, with particularly tragic consequences for millions of starving people in Africa and other poverty-stricken regions.