Category Archives: mnp is for the aminals

Genetically Modified Food – Documentary


It’s Monday again, and it’s time for a documentary. I haven’t watched this one, but as a caveat, sometimes I worry that people have the wrong conception of science. Though it makes sense to worry about the healthfulness of what you eat, I do find that some people tend to go overboard without a true understanding of the issues at hand. To say that humans have not been “genetically modifying” their food in a certain sense, since agriculture and husbandry, would display a certain level of naiveté. After all, that’s the reason that all our crops haven’t blighted and all our animals haven’t died, on one hand, in regards to selective breeding. However, with all that said, I’m not trying to eat scientifically altered food without knowing whether or not it’s safe for me and my chil’lens. Either way, somebody let me know if this documentary is worth its salt, or I’ll watch it later tonight.


So, once upon a time I had a job, and, every morning I’d walk into it to the sound of FOX & Friends, a so-called morning show being watched by the night guy that I was going to relieve. Well, let me say that over the years I’ve grown an appreciation for the subtle ignorance of the show, and the nuances. It’s almost like an aged cheese… except never really on the sharp side. Anyway, a few glasses of wine ought to make it easier to swallow.

It’s not that I’m, like, down with women in skimpy bathing suits championing a cause, as is seen in this video about PETA, but it’s just the attitude which this show takes that makes me sort of cringe. The dude introducing the story says, “For sommme reason PETA has a problem with the way KFC treats their livestock,” as if there’s absolutely no tangible reason why someone might be disgusted with KFC’s practices. Well, he doesn’t say that exactly, but he definitely *WANTS* to be saying that.

Then, to make matters worse, the guy goes on to ask if “liberal causes like these have gone too far.” Excuse me? Since when is caring about what you eat and the environment actually something liberal? I feel that conservatives have backed themselves into a corner by choosing to define anything environment-oriented/science-supported as a “liberal cause” and denying objective reality. PETA, that said, is clearly a “liberal” group and does tend to use shock-value tactics, but, what difference does a simple categorization make if you agree with the cause? Hell, I care about my taxes and my finances – making me… a conservative?

Note: I will refer to him as “the guy” for we do not speak the name of the evil one on this blog. Also, the guy DOES indeed have a point about PETA, but it’s poorly made. And, at what cost?

Anyway, sometimes I wonder if they broadcast this crap so I’ll link to it… or because they actually believe the words coming out of their own mouths. “They think they environment is more important than humanity.” I’m not even going to start on how silly that is…


One Quarter of Earth’s Mammal’s Face Extinction

The baiji dolphin is functionally extinct, orangutans are disappearing and even some species of bats—the most numerous of mammals—are dying out. A new survey of the world’s 5,487 mammal species—from rodents to humans—reveals that one in four are facing imminent extinction.

“Mammal species that are just declining, not necessarily near extinction, that’s 50 percent,” says conservation biologist Jan Schipper of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which keeps the Red List of Threatened Species. “And 836 species—especially rodents and bats—we determined they are threatened but we don’t know how threatened, because we don’t know enough about them.”

Schipper and more than 1,700 scientific colleagues spent the past five years surveying the state of the world’s mammals. The results, published in Science to coincide with IUCN’s conference on biodiversity this week, reveal that 1,139 mammals around the globe are threatened with extinction and the populations of 52 percent of all mammal species are declining.

South and Southeast Asia are home to the most threatened mammals, from monkeys to rare rats. And many mammals in the species-rich tropical Andes Mountains of South America, Africa’s Cameroonian highlands and Albertine Rift as well as the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are also in trouble. Deforestation, along with hunting or gathering food are the prime causes of the rapid declines in land mammals, such as elephants in Asia; most endangered marine mammals, like the vaquita in Mexico’s Gulf of California, are killed by fishing nets, ship strikes or pollution.

.::Read the rest @ -> Scientific American

Only one-quarter?  SWEET! Does this include NeoCons?  I’m just asking, I’m not, like, hoping or anything.

The photo above is a map of predicted extinction hotspots from 2006.  More info can be found here.  PS. yes, it’s a kid’s site.  Can you handle the truth, I ask?

and sweeter.


PORTERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — National forests and parks — long popular with Mexican marijuana-growing cartels — have become home to some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides, federal officials said.

The grow sites have taken hold from the West Coast’s Cascade Mountains, as well as on federal lands in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Seven hundred grow sites were discovered on U.S. Forest Service land in California alone in 2007 and 2008 — and authorities say the 1,800-square-mile Sequoia National Forest is the hardest hit.

Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the U.S., have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes.

Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending.

.::Read the rest at -> AP Website

Well, isn’t that just the sweetest thing you ever heard…? Fortunately, I’m sure there are one or two simple solutions to this problem.  Thanks to Jen for the link.

The Alaska Women Reject Palin Rally


Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage.  The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators).  This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state.  I was absolutely stunned.  The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by.

Thanks to my sis for passing along the good news.

.:: For more photos & a first hand account of the rally –> check Mudflats

Underwater Sculpture Reef

Even though we’ve been majorly slacking off on our ART DAY! representation – you all already should know how we feel about art. Right? Just checking.

That being said, this project by Jason de Caires Taylor was lifted from the pages of Modern Design – a European freeware mag in which MNP was recently featured.


Words cannot describe how beautiful and absolutely haunting these statues are. The most astute and learned of our readers will even notice the allusion to Mt. Vesuvius tossed in there for fun.


The best thing about these sculptures is that they are there to help produce a natural (naturally man made, anyway) reef for all the pretty fishies. Preserving the ecosystem is paramount for Taylor, and the big draw for artificial reef is that it alleviates pressure from the naturally occurring and rapidly disappearing counterparts.


This project is also a study of and a metaphor for “change over time.” As our original source says, Jason’s sculptures gradually give way to their sea environments, changing, changing and changing, and likely even disappearing over time – all to promote ocean awareness. These sculptures are visitable by glass-bottomed boat and/or underwater scuba tour.


Nuclear Is Not Clean


There are communities in the Southwest still suffering from the effects of the uranium mining from the nuclear boom of the 1940′s – 1980′s (more below). But, when nuclear proponents tout the idea that nuclear energy is the clean energy savior for the planet, it is pretty convenient to ignore the community health disaster that uranium mining inevitably brings along. I wish it were more suprising to hear this:

On public lands within five miles of Grand Canyon National Park, there are now more than 1,100 uranium claims, compared with just 10 in January 2003, according to data from the Department of the Interior. [...] In the five Western states where uranium is mined in the U.S., 4,333 new claims were filed in 2004, according to the Interior Department; last year the number had swelled to 43,153.

The push to extract more uranium has caused controversy not just involving federal land but private and state land as well. In Virginia, a company’s plan to operate in a never-mined deposit spurred a hearing in the Legislature. In New Mexico, a Navajo activist group is challenging in federal court a license issued just over the reservation’s east border.


Most of the new claims are in the vicinity of the Grand Canyon:

Uranium is “a special concern,” he added, because it is both a toxic heavy metal and a source of radiation. He worries about uranium escaping into the local water, and about its effect on fish in the Colorado River at the bottom of the gorge, and on the bald eagles, California condors and bighorn sheep that depend on the canyon’s seeps and springs. More than a third of the canyon’s species would be affected if water quality suffered, he said.

“If you can’t stop mining at the Grand Canyon, where can you stop it?” asked Richard Wiles, executive director of the Environmental Working Group.

The energy-versus-environment debate is apparent within the Interior Department, which granted the mining claims through its Bureau of Land Management. Among the mining critics is Steve Martin, superintendent of the Grand Canyon park and an Interior Department employee himself. “There should be some places that you just do not mine,” Martin said.

I wonder which places he thinks you should mine? Here is a look at a Tufts student’s research on the Navajo Nation’s experience with uranium mining:

In North America, many people think of clean drinking water and uncontaminated land as a birthright. For members of Navajo Nation, access to these basic needs isn’t as easy to come by. An area the size of West Virginia sandwiched between Arizona and New Mexico, the Navajo reservation’s austere land of buttes and mesas is beautiful but burdened by toxic waste. Forty years of uranium mining has created an environmental justice nightmare that scientists and researchers like Jamie deLemos are working to redress.

deLemos, an environmental health doctoral candidate at Tufts School of Engineering and a student in the Water: Systems, Science, and Society program, has been working with engineering associate professor, John Durant, and Tufts Public Health and Family Medicine’s Doug Brugge as part of a large-scale project to understand the health impacts of uranium mining.

Uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation is the result of mining operations conducted during the boom of the atomic age in the 1940s through the 1980s. Many Navajos employed in the uranium mines were directly exposed to high levels of radiation toxicity from mining, but also indirectly from environmental exposures created by residual waste. As miners extracted uranium from the ore, leftover tailings–accumulated waste material from extraction and processing activities–open pits, and mine shafts dotted the landscape.

In July 1979, in Church Rock, NM, millions of gallons of low-level radioactive waste burst from a dam and contaminated the surrounding watershed of New Mexico and Arizona. Almost 30 years later, the U.S.EPA and Navajo Nation EPA are working to clean up these since-abandoned mines, and epidemiological researchers are assessing the extent of the health risk.

Although uranium is often associated with radiological toxicity, it is much more hazardous from a chemical toxicity standpoint. “Uranium is a kidney toxin. Kidney disease is three times higher among the Navajo (or Diné) people than in the general U.S. population,” deLemos said. Her information comes from working on a large community based-participatory research project called the Diné Network for Environmental Health, or DiNEH project. Along with Dr. Johnnye Lewis, director of University of New Mexico’s Community Environmental Health Program, and members of the Eastern Navajo Health Board, the project team has been studying the effects of toxic exposures on the Navajo Nation. Through work on this project, deLemos was named one of this year’s Switzer Environmental Fellows by the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation.

As part of Lewis’ team, deLemos uses her environmental health and geochemistry skills to address the extent of uranium contamination, to discover the chemistry that controls uranium transport in water and soil, and to identify areas at high risk for uranium exposures. In March 2006, deLemos and fellow graduate student Naomi Slagowski traveled to New Mexico to obtain 150 samples, including soil, water and vegetation from a heavily burdened mining area. deLemos and Slagowski worked with Tommy Rock, a Navajo and Northern Arizona University graduate student.

“Some people, because of the historical abuses–of which there are many–are not interested in letting you on their land,” said deLemos. “They’ll say, ‘How are you different from other researchers who’ve come and done nothing to change things for us or never come back and report what you’ve found?’” deLemos worked with Rock who translated the language and helped foster trust with community members. “People automatically accepted him through clanship and his Navajo language skills; and when he was with us, we were okay.”

As part of her geochemical assessment, deLemos worked with former mentor and geochemist Benjamin Bostick at Dartmouth College. Using a combination of laboratory and x-ray spectroscopic techniques, she evaluated the chemical form of uranium in contaminated sediments and how soluble these forms are. “One state is soluble and one isn’t,” said deLemos. “And the soluble form is much more toxic.” In 2000, the U.S. EPA issued the Radionuclides Rule, which set the maximum contaminant level safety standard at 30 micrograms per liter of drinking water. “What my data show is that when contaminated sediments are wet, the amount of uranium that dissolves into the water can exceed this rule by more than a factor of 100,” said deLemos. “This has serious implications for contaminating groundwater supplies.”

“People still haul water even if they’re on a public water supply, either for cultural reasons, or because they prefer the taste,” said deLemos. However, the Navajo Nation has deemed any unregulated water supplies unfit for human consumption, even though chemical and bacteriological analysis haven’t, as of yet, been systematically performed on all wells. “All water sources that have been tested are given a rating with a stop-light system, and everything unregulated is given a yellow or a red light,” deLemos said. “When people who are hauling water see this, it’s a little confusing. It’s hard for people to give up what they’ve been doing their whole lives–and when you can’t provide them with an acceptable alternative, it’s a real challenge.”

Providing clear information, and possible alternative water sources, perhaps in an easy-to-read map, is the next phase of deLemos’ project. “Historically, there’s been a lot of recommendations and no offer of alternatives and no follow up,” said deLemos, adding that in the past other researchers have issued statements such as, “‘We recommend that for your livestock, you don’t eat kidney or liver,’ but they eat the whole sheep as part of the culture,” deLemos said. “Or ‘We recommend you stay off the banks of the river.’ Well, that’s like telling someone around Boston to stay off of 95.”

After presenting her current research to the community at this summer’s 4th Annual Navajo Nation Drinking Water Conference hosted by the Navajo Nation EPA, deLemos realized that Navajos need straightforward answers.

“People have basic questions: Are my livestock going to get sick if they eat this grass? Can I take water from this well or pond? You have to balance between cutting-edge science and something that’s actually going to be immediately useful and relevant to these impacted communities.”

Profile written by Julia C. Keller, Communications Specialist, Tufts School of Engineering

[Grist, LATimes, Tufts E-News]

In Vitro Meat Consortium


I find this highly unappetizing (especially the close up of mouse muscle). But is it inevitable?

The world has seen the first international conference on manufacturing meat. This is the process, tested so far only at laboratory scale, of growing pork, chicken, or beef through cell culture in vats instead of raising and slaughtering animals.

Read the rest…

[dot earth]