Researchers Confirm That Neonicotinoid Insecticides Impair Bee’s Brains

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Credit: Lilla Frerichs/public domain

Courtesy of Grant Hill @ Phys.org

Research at the Universities of St Andrews and Dundee has confirmed that levels of neonicotinoid insecticides accepted to exist in agriculture cause both impairment of bumblebees’ brain cells and subsequent poor performance by bee colonies.

The contribution of the neonicotinoids to the global decline of insect pollinators is controversial and contested by many in the agriculture industry. However, the new research, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, demonstrates for the first time that the low levels found in the nectar and pollen of plants is sufficient to deliver neuroactive levels to their site of action, the bee brain.

Dr Chris Connolly, a Reader in the Division of Neuroscience at Dundee’s School of Medicine, has spent several years examining the risk from neonicotinoids and other commonly used classes of pesticides on both honeybees and bumblebees.

He and his colleagues at Dundee carried out combined laboratory and field studies and the data was analysed by Professor Steve Buckland at St Andrews. The results showed very low levels of neonicotinoids caused bumblebee colonies to have an estimated 55 per cent reduction in live bee numbers, a 71 per cent reduction in healthy brood cells, and a 57 per cent reduction in the total bee mass of a nest.

Dr Connolly says the paper represents the best scientific evidence to date connecting neonicotinoid consumption to poor performance of bees and that the effects of the pesticide must be considered by policy makers seeking to protect the abundance and diversity of insect pollinators.

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2014: The Year Propaganda Came Of Age

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Courtesy of Raúl Ilargi Meijer @ The Automatic Earth Blog:

From just about as early in my life as I can remember, growing up as a child in Holland, there were stories about World War II, and not just about Anne Frank and the huge amounts of people who, like her, had been dragged off to camps in eastern Europe never to come back, but also about the thousands who had risked their lives to hide Jewish and other refugees, and the scores who had been executed for doing so, often betrayed by their own neighbors.

And then there were those who had risked their lives in equally courageous ways to get news out to people, putting out newspapers and radio broadcasts just so there would be a version of events out there that was real, and not just what the Germans wanted one to believe. This happened in all Nazi – and Nazi friendly – occupied European nations. The courage of these people is hard to gauge for us today, and I’m convinced there’s no way to say whom amongst us would show that kind of bravery if we were put to the test; I certainly wouldn’t be sure about myself.

Still, without wanting to put myself anywhere near the level of those very very real heroes, please don’t get me wrong about that, that’s not what I mean, I was thinking about them with regards to what is happening in our media today. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think Joseph Goebbels had anything on US and European media today.

That propaganda as a strategic and political instrument has been refined to a huge extent over the past 70-odd years since Goebbels first picked up on Freud’s lessons on how to influence the unconscious mind, and the ‘mass-mind’, as a way to ‘steer’ an entire people, not just as a means to make them buy detergent. These days, the media can make people believe just about anything, and they have the added benefit that they can pose as friends of the people, not the enemy. Continue reading

Legal Personhood for Apes

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Courtesy of Stephen Wells @ Huff Po:

The fundamental problem for animals is that our laws consider them “things.” With this definition, animals — and the humans who care about their interests — often don’t have legal “standing” to bring lawsuits in their own defense. Granting animals “legal personhood” is one way the law could recognize animals as living beings with interests, or rights, of their own. This month, in an unprecedented decision, a court in Argentina ruled that an orangutan named Sandra has legal rights as a nonhuman “person” and not as a thing. Argentina’s Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights argued Sandra is a nonhuman person deprived of her freedom by being held captive in the Buenos Aires Zoo, where she displayed signs of psychological suffering. The court unanimously agreed and, barring a successful appeal by the zoo, Sandra will soon be transferred to a Brazilian sanctuary.

To be a “legal person,” one doesn’t need to be human, or even alive — American courts routinely extend personhood rights to nonhumans: to corporations, municipalities, and even ships. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney alluded to this when he famously said, “Corporations are people, my friend.” The fact is that American legal history is packed with heated conflicts about whether or not slaves, women, children, Native Americans, and corporations could be considered “legal persons.”

Meanwhile, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court declared that chimpanzees are not “persons” under the law in a lawsuit by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NHRP). Tommy, an aging chimpanzee, was forced for many years to work in the entertainment industry and is now kept isolated in a small, dank shed in Gloversville, New York. NHRP president (and past ALDF Board Chair) and attorney Steve Wise argued that Tommy should have personhood rights, and asked for a writ of habeas corpus — a common law cause of action previously used by human slaves to challenge arbitrary detention and confinement. NHRP argued that Tommy, along with several other chimpanzees, should be released to a reputable sanctuary run by the North American Primate Sanctuary Alliance. Continue reading

The Empire is Crumbling, That is Why it Needs War

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Courtesy of Andre Vltchek @ Counterpunch:

Last night, in Beijing, I sat in a historic Szechuan restaurant with a friend who happens to be a Chinese diplomat. We exchanged some stories, ordered food, and then, suddenly, my throat felt dry and my eyes got misty.

I bowed and thanked her for the heartfelt offer China made to rescue Russia.

Just before leaving my hotel, I read the news on the RT:

“China’s foreign minister has pledged support to Russia as it faces an economic downturn due to sanctions and a drop in oil prices. Boosting trade in Yuan is a solution proposed by Beijing’s commerce minister.

‘Russia has the capability and the wisdom to overcome the existing hardship in the economic situation,’ Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists. China Daily reported Monday: ‘If the Russian side needs it, we will provide necessary assistance within our capacity.’”

By no means was I representing the Russian Federation here, in Beijing, nor was my friend representing China that night, at the dining table. It was an informal meeting attended by just a few friends, nothing more.

Not to mention that I am not really, ‘technically’ a Russian. Yes, I was born in Leningrad but almost my entire life I spent elsewhere… all over the world, to be precise. And in my veins, not that it really matters; it is also all confused… there circulates an explosive mixture of Russian, Chinese and European blood.

But lately, to be Russian, to me and to many others, is much more than just about blood. ‘I am a rebel; therefore I am Russian’, to paraphrase Albert Camus. Or: ‘I am Russian because I refuse to abandon the struggle.’

‘Ya Russkii!’ or ‘Cubano soy!’ It simply feels good, and makes one proud, and stronger.

***

The world is in turmoil. Like in the early 1940’s, something tremendous is gaining shape, something irreversible. Continue reading

Four-Fifths of Public Want Green Party in TV Leaders’ Debates – poll

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 Photo: Nick Ansell/PA

Courtesy of Patrick Wintour @ The Guardian:

Nearly four-fifths of the public want to see the Green party represented in next year’s televised leaders’ debates before the election, according to an ICM opinion poll. The poll is likely to put more pressure on broadcasters to lift their objections to including the Greens.

At present, the broadcasters have said Labour, the Conservatives, Ukip and the Liberal Democrats will all be involved in at least one of the three planned debates

The poll, which was conducted between 12 and 16 December, shows 79% support for the involvement of the Green party, a support reflected pretty evenly across age, gender and region. Even Conservative voters support the Greens’ involvement by a 62%-to-36% margin. Ukip identifiers support the Greens’ participation by 70% to 26%, Liberal Democrats by 86% to 14% and Labour supporters by 82% to 14%.

The question put to poll respondents read: “You may have seen or heard that ITV has announced proposals for a televised leaders’ debate in the runup to the 2015 general election which is likely to be held in May next year. ITV currently propose to invite the leaders of the Conservative party, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Ukip to participate, but not the leader of the Green party. Do you think that the leader of the Green party should or should not also be invited to join in the ITV leaders’ debate?”

The Greens say it was verified by ICM to ensure there was no bias. ITN was asked to participate in the framing of the question, but refused to do so. Continue reading

Big-Picture Study Of Fracking Operations Suggests Even Small Chemical Exposures Pose Risks

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Courtesy of Lynne Peeples @ Huffington Post:

April Lane’s work often brings her to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she monitors pollution from natural gas production sites around the area’s rich shale reserves. Exposure to toxins, she says, have left her with chronic headaches, nausea and a hesitancy to have more children.

“I’ve decided having another baby is probably not going to happen for me. I’m too scared of what the health effects might be,” said Lane, 28, of Little Rock, a mother of one and an environmental health advocate who has led citizen groups in tracking threats from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations.

A paper published Friday in Reviews on Environmental Health may give credence to her personal suspicions. The paper suggests that even tiny doses of benzene, toluene and other chemicals released during the various phases of oil and natural gas production, including fracking, could pose serious health risks — especially to developing fetuses, babies and young children.

“We hear a lot of anecdotal stories all the time,” said Dr. Sheila Bushkin-Bedient, of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany-SUNY and co-author on the paper, “but now that we’ve had a decade of opportunity to observe the ill effects from these chemicals on people and animals, the evidence is no longer just anecdotal.”

The boom in the extraction of oil and natural gas continues across large swaths of the U.S., but not without resistance. Many environmental groups oppose fracking — which uses a mix of pressurized water, sand and chemicals to unlock hydrocarbon reserves in shale rock — even as the industry maintains that processes like fracking are safe.

A small Texas town near the birthplace of the fracking boom is the latest case in point: In November voters approved a ban on the practice, due in part to concerns about air and water contamination.

Still, more than 15 million Americans now live within one mile of such oil and gas operations. Continue reading

Dramatic Correlation Shown Between GMOS and 22 Diseases – OPED

Courtesy of Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers @ Eurasia Review:

There is a growing movement for labeling of GMO crops, and many would go further and ban GMOs completely. Currently there is a close vote in Oregon on a GMO labeling initiative, with advocates for labeling 0.3% behind and raising money to check ballots (we urge your support). Those who profit from GMOs spent $20 million to prevent labeling in Oregon. Several states in the Northeast have put in place laws that will require labeling.

Vermont is about to be sued to prevent GMO labeling. GMO profiteers have an unusual marketing strategy. While most companies brag about their product, the GMO industry spends hundreds of millions to hide their product. The US does not requiring labeling of GMOs despite the fact that 64 countries around the world label GMO foods.

Millions have marched against Monsanto urging labeling or the banning of GMO products. There is a national consensus in favor of labeling but the government has been unable to respond. Indeed, President Obama’s food czar is a former Monsanto executive. The deep corruption of government is putting the health of the American people at serious risk.

The research highlighted below, “Genetically engineered crops, glyphosate and the deterioration of health in the United States of America,” was published in The Journal of Organic Systems this September and links GMOs to 22 diseases with very high correlation. We reprinted many of the graphs from the study that show an incredible correlation between the rise of GMO crops that use the herbicide glyphosate and a wide range of diseases.

Glyphosate was introduced to the marketplace in 1974 but data on its use is only available since 1990. Monsanto has genetically modified foods so that they are resistant to glyphosate, a herbicide Monsanto sells, resulting in a dramatic increase in the use of glyphosate. The study points out that research has shown that “glyphosate disrupts the ability of animals, including humans, to detoxify xenobiotics. This means that exposures to the numerous chemicals in food and the environment, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals and carcinogens, could be causing levels of damage that would not occur if the body were able to detoxify them.” Continue reading