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English badger. Photo: Kentish Plumber via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

England's £100m badger cull extensions condemned

The Ecologist

23rd August 2016

England is about to extend its badger cull policy to five new areas of the country, proving that only that science is a dead letter to May's conservative government as it was to Cameron's. While bovine TB infections in cattle rise in the existing cull areas, Wales has just achieved a cull-free 14% reduction. more...
How will the promoters of GMO golden rice ensure that malnourished children receive it in the first place? Will they also ensure they get the dietary fat they need to actually assimilate the carotene once they have eaten it? Photo of children playing in M

Millions spent, no one served: who is to blame for the failure of GMO Golden Rice?

Angelika Hilbeck & Hans Herren

15th August 2016

The real reason why 'golden rice' remains uncultivated after a 20 year effort is its poor agronomic performance, write Angelika Hilbeck & Hans Herren. But beyond that, the very idea of golden rice as a 'solution' to Vitamin A deficiency fails to recognise the real causes of malnutrition - poverty, hunger and poor diet. How will golden rice reach poor children in the first place? And will they ever get the rich, oily diet they need to assimilate its fat-soluble nutrients? more...
Most rice-eating peoples like their rice white - and will avoid yellow rice as the colour is an indicator of the deadly mould that causes beri-beri disease. Photo: rice and curry on banana leaf in Riau, Indonesia, by John Walker via Flickr (CC BY).

Beri-beri disease and resistance to GM 'Golden Rice'

Ted Greiner, PhD

13th July 2016

Rice-eating peoples are very particular about the rice their diets are based on, writes Ted Greiner. And they have a strong aversion to yellow grains, the tell-tale sign of the deadly mould that causes beri-beri disease. That alone makes GMO 'Golden Rice' a non starter; 107 Nobel Laureates had better start eating their words. more...
Tank destroyed by depleted uranium (DU) munitions on Iraq's 'Highway of Death' in the first Gulf War, February 2003. Photo: Christiaan Briggs via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Chilcot: UK insists it has 'no long-term legal responsibility to clean up DU from Iraq'

Doug Weir

11th July 2016

The Chilcot report reveals that the UK has disclaimed any duty to decontaminate the toxic, radioactive ash left behind by its DU munitions, or even monitor the impacts on human health, writes Doug Weir. But Iraq and other countries are working towards a UN Resolution this October that would hold contaminating governments like the UK and the US legally accountable for DU pollution. more...
Whited Sepulchre of science? The Royal Society's imposing building overlooking St James's Park, London. Photo: Steve Slater via Flickr (CC BY).

Royal Society must end its partisan, unscientific support for GM crops and food

Steven Druker

13th July 2016

The Royal Society purports to provide unbiased information on scientific issues, writes Steven Druker. But its new guide on GMOs is grossly misleading - glossing over the many dangers inherent to the technology with bland, unsupported re-assurances. The Society must end its partisan promotion of GMOs or risk its reputation as Britain's premier scientific body. more...
A flayed whole dog placed in a cooking pot with other ingredients to make the 'dog elixir' soup for South Korea's 'Boknal' festival. Photo: courtesy of Anneka Svenska.

Korea's disgusting dog-eating 'festival' must end

Anneka Svenska

11th July 2016

With the coming of summer, South Korea's 'Boknal' dog-eating festival is under way, writes Anneka Svenska. Known for the extreme cruelty deliberately inflicted on dogs to improve the taste of their meat, Boknal is a barbaric relic rooted in ignorance and pseudo-medical superstition whose time is well and truly up. more...
Spot the difference! Golden rice and ordinary rice. Photo: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY).

Pro-GMO campaign exploits Nobel laureates in 'Golden Rice' Greenpeace attack

Claire Robinson

4th July 2016

Greenpeace is being attacked for 'crimes against humanity' by 100 Nobel laureates for blocking GMO 'golden' rice, reports Claire Robinson. But the low-yielding crop is years away from going on sale, and there is no proof of any nutritional benefit to the malnourished children it's meant to benefit. Could the distinguished prize-winners have fallen for slick pro-GMO PR and spin? more...
Are we the real lab rats? If glyphosate herbicides can mess up rats uterine development, what's it doing to humans? Photo: Tatiana Bulyonkova via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Glyphosate disrupts rats' uterine development

GMWatch

21st June 2016

As the EU prepares to vote on whether to re-authorise glyphosate this week, a new study finds that commercial formulations of the herbicide alter the development of rats' uteruses, potentially causing cancer and affecting fertility. more...
Jo Ruxton, co-producer of 'A Plastic Ocean'. Photo: via plasticoceans.net

Plastic Ocean - why the world should declare plastic 'hazardous waste'

Lesley Henderson, Brunel University London

8th June 2016

Plastic is ubiquitous around the world's oceans, writes Lesley Henderson, but although it's visible from space, it can be surprisingly elusive in the water - as she heard from Jo Ruxton, producer of the investigative documentary 'A Plastic Ocean'. Solutions to this growing hazard have also proved elusive to date, hence the film's strong focus on action: educational, cultural and legal. more...
'End of Route - Cyclists dismount'. Traffic signage at Kew Green, West London. Photo: Mark Hillary via Flickr (CC BY).

Lies, damn lies and the national cycling 'strategy'

Donnachadh McCarthy FRSA

31st May 2016

The government's new 'strategy' for cycling is a feeble attempt to hide huge cuts to local transport budgets with a minute line of funds that would take over 2,000 years to bring the UK up to Dutch cycle lane standards, writes Donnachadh McCarthy. We must demand better! more...
GM soy and corn are now a major export for Brazil, Argentina and other South American countries, as from this cornfield near Sao Paulo. But GMO agribusiness is having severe impacts on health and environment, and importers are increasingly demanding non-G

Scientific error, omission and misrepresentation: the Royal Society on GM crops

Soil Association

27th May 2016

The Royal Society has form on GM crops, writes the Soil Association - consistently Gung-ho! for the last 20 years, while refusing to engage with critics of the technology or even accept the existence of any problems. Its latest effort represents more of the same, while exposing this once August body to ridicule for its egregious scientific howlers. more...
Badger, seen at the British Wildlife Centre, Newchapel, Surrey. Photo: Peter Trimming via Flickr (CC BY).

Alas poor Brock! The insanity of the badger cull

Martin Hancox

27th May 2016

The lives of all the thousands of badgers slaughtered in the name of TB eradication have been lost in vain, writes Martin Hancox. The cryptic reservoir of bovine TB is the cattle themselves, and no amount of badger killing will make the slightest difference to the problem. Once we have grasped this reality the solution is astonishingly simple: improved TB testing that picks up all infected cattle. more...

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What the European Parliament wanted to ban: glyphosate being applied to oilseed rape as a pre-harvest dessicant. Photo: Chafer Machinery via Flickr (CC BY).

Glyphosate in the EU: product promoters masquerading as regulators in a 'cesspool of corruption'?

Colin Todhunter

17th May 2016

With EU ministers due to decide tomorrow on the future of the glyphosate in the EU, Colin Todhunter finds evidence of collusion between regulators and the corporations whose sales of the 'probably carcinogenic' herbicide add up to many billions of dollars a year - evidence that underlies a legal action alleging fraud by the European Food Safety Authority against the EU's 508 million citizens. more...
Crop spraying in the British countryside close to a rural resident's home. Spraying of pesticides, including glyphosate, regularly takes place in the locality of homes and gardens with no protection for those living there. Photo: courtesy of UK Pesticides

No, the UN has not given glyphosate a 'clean bill of health'

Georgina Downs

17th May 2016

News headlines today suggest that a UN report on glyphosate residues has given the controversial herbicide a clean bill of health, writes Georgina Downs. But that's seriously misleading: the panel concludes that exposure to the chemical in food is unlikely to cause cancer. But that does not apply to those exposed to it occupationally or who live near sprayed fields. more...
Sunset at Papeete, French Polynesia. Photo: Pilottage via Flickr (CC BY).

ALERT: Critically Endangered Species: Homo sapiens

Willemijn Heideman

11th May 2016

The IUCN has mysteriously placed Homo sapiens outside its systems of thinking when defining the criteria for Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable Species, writes Willemijn Heideman: our collective inability to tackle our existential crises makes our survival on this planet a highly uncertain prospect. more...
Staff at a Bristol primary school, a member of the Pesticide Safe Bristol Alliance, campaigning to keep glyphosate out of their school and other places where children play. Photo: via Harriet Williams.

Pesticide-free cities are possible! But there's more to it than vinegar

Harriet Williams

9th May 2016

Bristol's decision to trial vinegar as a weedkiller in place of glyphosate certainly grabbed headline-writers' imaginations, writes Harriet Williams. But with a wide choice of proven chemical-free weed control strategies available, might this experiment be 'set up to fail'? more...
Explosion cloud from the UK's Operation Hurricane atomic bomb test on Australia's Montebello Islands, 3rd October 1952. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Public domain).

Chernobyl, genetic damage, and the UK nuclear bomb tests - justice at last?

Chris Busby

6th May 2016

Britain's nuclear bomb test veterans suffered severe genetic damage from radiation, writes Chris Busby, and their case for compensation is being heard in the High Court today. Key to their case is evidence of similar damage inflicted on in utero babies exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl disaster, and how the dreadful health impacts of radiation cascade down to future generations. more...
Cabbage white butterflies eating the leaves, flowers and pods of a plant similar to Camelina, together with a deformed butterfly that been fed a diet rich in long chain n-3 fatty acids. Compound image by GMWatch & edited by The Ecologist.

GMO lobby's false claims to defend GM oilseed against deformed butterfly findings

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

9th May 2016

A recent scientific study found the same long-chain omega-3 oils that are engineered into a new GM Camelina oilseed variety make butterflies grow up with deformed wings, writes Claire Robinson. Attempts by the 'pro-science' non-scientist Mark Lynas to discredit the study are a mixture of ignorance, research failures, 'straw man' arguments and outright errors. more...
Commercial almond orchards in the US receive some 2.1 million pounds of glyphosate a year - hence the strips of bare earth beneath these trees near Vernalis, along 132 west of Modesto, CA. Photo: Tom Hilton via Flickr (CC BY).

Withdrawn: the EPA's memo on the increasing use of glyphosate on food crops

Carey Gillam / USRTK

10th May 2016

The EPA's release of an internal memorandum last month showing the increasing use of the cancer-linked weedkiller glyphosate looked like a welcome opening up of information to the public, writes Carey Gillam. But then it was suddenly withdrawn, along with other related documents - though not before she grabbed her copy and reviewed the scale and scope of glyphosate usage. more...
Overheating? 2015 was actually the hottest year on record, and since then the heat has continued to rise. Image: Met Office (CC BY-NC-SA).

Scientists must challenge poor media reporting on climate change

John Krebs, University of Oxford

5th May 2016

The deliberate misrepresentation of climate science in our media deserves an urgent corrective, writes John Krebs. Recent misreporting by The Times - passing off partisan, unscientific, non-peer reviewed, ill-informed climate change-sceptic opinion as 'science' - deserves particular opprobrium. more...
When UK farmers spray their fields with pesticides close to rural homes, residents get no protection, and bizarre court rulings have effectively denied them their legal rights. Photo: Aqua Mechanical via Flickr (CC BY).

From Hillsborough to pesticides: establishment cover-ups, lies and corruption

Georgina Downs

4th May 2016

The British establishment does nothing quite so well as lies, cover-ups and high-level corruption, writes Georgina Downs - whether it's the Hillsborough disaster or permitting polluters to poison us. Georgina won her own High Court legal victory protecting rural residents from pesticide exposure as long ago as 2008 - only to have it snatched away as Court of Appeal judges closed ranks. more...
Female Aedes aegypti mosquito filled up on human blood. Photo: Stephen Ausmus / USDA via Flickr (CC BY).

Analysts slate GM mosquito firm, shares plummet

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

28th April 2016

Investment analysts say Oxitec's GM mosquito technology 'won't work, is way too expensive, and is many years from generating even minuscule revenue', writes Claire Robinson. As shares in its owner, Intrexon, slump, three law firms have announced they are investigating. more...
White storks on road near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Many parts of the Chernobyl region have low radioactivity levels and serve as refuges for plants and animals. But other areas are acutely radiotoxic. Birds tend to be especially susceptible to radiation impact

At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife

Timothy A. Mousseau, University of South Carolina

27th April 2016

Field studies show that the intense radioactivity released by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters is seriously and unequivocally damaging to wildlife, writes Timothy A. Mousseau - in stark contrast to theoretical studies that show little or no impact on plant and animal health and populations. more...
How CRISPR works: what could possibly go wrong? In fact, an awful lot, as it turns out. Image: James atmos via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

CRISPR and the three myths of precise genome editing

Jonathan Latham, PhD / Independent Science News

25th April 2016

The very term 'genetic engineering' implies high precision in the alterations made to genes and deep understanding of their consequences, writes Jonathan Latham. In fact, we have never had either. And even with the arrival of CRISPR and other 'gene editing' systems, that remains the case: technologists are thrashing about in a perilous sea of unfathomable complexities and unknowable outcomes. more...
Radioactivity warning sign on the hill at the east end of Chernobyl's Red Forest, so called due to the characteristic hue of the pine trees killed by high levels of radiation after the disaster. Photo: Timm Suess via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

Blind mice and bird brains: the silent spring of Chernobyl and Fukushima

Linda Pentz Gunter

25th April 2016

Evolutionary biologist Timothy Mousseau and his colleagues have published 90 studies that prove beyond all doubt the deleterious genetic and developmental effects on wildlife of exposure to radiation from both the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. But all that peer-reviewed science has done little to dampen the 'official' perception of Chernobyl's silent forests as a thriving nature reserve. more...

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