Tag Archives: greenstuff

In a first, a drone helps nab illegal logger in Peru

aerial-farm-768x432.jpg?sfvrsn=f7f7b4c4_

<br /><p>Jimmy Pinedo of Conservation International Peru, pictured above, operating a drone. (© Widber Flores Villacorta)</p><p>On Nov. 17 of last year, a man was caught illegally cutting down trees in Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest.</p><p>Sadly, this was not out of the ordinary: Despite the area’s protected status, illegal farming and logging still occur in this swath of forest in the Amazon River basin, and people are routinely caught and fined.</p><p>What was out of the ordinary about this case: The culprit was caught by a drone.</p><p>That same week in November, Jimmy Pinedo of Conservation International Peru had been training a group of park rangers from Peru’s national protected-area agency (known by its acronym in Spanish, SERNANP) to use drones as a forest monitoring tool.
The eyes in the sky aim to provide a new weapon in the fight to stop illegal logging in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, a swath of dense rainforest twice the size of New York City.</p><p>Before the training, community members living in the Alto Mayo reported a suspiciously large amount of timber being collected on a property within the protected forest. A SERNANP ranger attempted to investigate the property, but it was located on the
opposite bank of the wide and aggressive Mayo River — an impossible trip to make in the limited time he had.</p><p>Instead, he attended the drone workshop — with the property’s coordinates in hand.</p><p>Drones are an <a href=”https://ift.tt/338dPlh&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>increasingly popular tool</a> for conservationists. The drones can capture detailed
high-resolution images of objects on the ground, as well as human activities that threaten nature, such as illegal logging, mining and poaching. These images spare rangers from long-distance hikes or travel to potentially dangerous areas.</p><p>The drones’ popularity is growing as the technology improves, says Max Wright, remote sensing and spatial modeling analyst at Conservation International. “It’s staggering how quickly drone technology is advancing,” he said. “The
drones that we are using today have much greater range and data-collection capabilities than even what was available a few years ago.”</p><p>This range proved useful in the case of the illegal logger in Peru.</p><p><b>Flying to the scene</b></p><p>At the drone workshop in Alto Mayo, park ranger Onmer Cenepo surveyed the property from a launch site about 2 kilometers (roughly 1.2 miles) upstream, using a <a href=”https://ift.tt/2kez5mB&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Phantom 4 DJI quadcopter</a>,
a camera-equipped drone capable of high speeds and long flights.</p><p>Hovering 100 meters (328 feet) above the ground, the drone showed the rangers a large quantity of wood piled up on the other side of the Mayo River. Armed with this evidence, Frank Ramirez, the Alto Mayo indigenous community’s chief and coordinator
of the Control and Monitoring department in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, called authorities to take action.</p><p><img style=”display:block;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;” src=”https://ift.tt/337SGrF&#8221; sf-size=”100″ /><i>Aerial photo of the illegal logging, pictured above, captured by a drone. (© Conservation International Peru)</i></p><p>It turns out the offender had a permit to harvest roughly 57 cubic meters (2,000 cubic feet) of land, about the size of two school buses. Instead, he was harvesting an area three times that size — which was illegal. According to Ramirez, the logger
received a written citation and will be fined for the illegal timber extraction by the regional environmental authority.</p><p>The hope is that this incident, and others like it, will discourage other farmers from illegal logging and developing protected land. Conservation International and partners are ramping up efforts to train rangers to patrol and monitor using drones. There
is a clear need: Though deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon in 2017 was <a href=”https://ift.tt/2NwC8mr&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>down 13 percent</a> from 2016, and Peru
declared a <a href=”https://ift.tt/2nccciL&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>new national park</a> in early 2018, incidents like the one in November elicit
concern from conservationists for the future of Peru’s forests — and hope that drones can improve protection and enforcement.</p><p>“In the future, I could see small teams of rangers going out into the protected area to systematically map the forests at fine resolution or using drone imagery to verify deforestation events in remote — or even dangerous — areas,”
Wright said.</p><p>In the past two years, Conservation International has trained 10 SERNANP rangers and three partners from ECOAN (Asociación de Ecosistemas Andinos), a Peruvian organization that aims to reduce deforestation. The local indigenous community has also
been trained to operate drones. Conservation International is also piloting acoustic sensors that capture the sound of chainsaws and sends the coordinates to the ranger’s office, which can then send a drone to investigate.</p><p>As drones continue to get smaller and more powerful, they will play an increasingly important role — and offer hope for protecting Peru’s forests.</p><p><i>Cassandra Kane is the communications manager for Conservation International’s Conservation Finance Division.</i></p><p><i>Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates <a target=”_blank” rel=”noopener” href=”https://www.conservation.org/act”>here</a&gt;. Donate to Conservation International <a href=”https://ift.tt/2WJfnA5&#8243; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here.</a></i></p><hr /><p><b>Further reading</b></p><ul><li><a href=”https://ift.tt/2nccciL&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Peru establishes new national park in the Amazon<br /></a></li><li><a href=”https://ift.tt/338dPlh&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Conservation tools: How drones can save rainforests<br /></a></li><li><a href=”https://ift.tt/2JHLHhk&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Low-flying, crime-sniffing drones: Coming soon to the Amazon?</a></li></ul><hr />

In palm oil, Liberia sees economic boom — but forests may lose

Will lead to ebola outbreak in Liberia. Plantations breed conditions that support disease.

<p><b><i>Editor’s note: </i></b><i>Surrounded by heavily deforested neighboring countries, Liberia resembles a green island in satellite images </i><i>— yet this forest’s future is by no means guaranteed. </i></p><p><i>Liberia views palm oil development as a huge opportunity for economic growth and international trade. But embracing the </i><a href=”https://ift.tt/30YLAUN&#8221; target=”_blank”><i>booming industry</i></a><i> is not without its costs. Without proper oversight, </i><i>the country’s vast forests could be cut down and replaced by oil palm plantations, </i><i>destroying critical natural resources and the benefits they provide for the communities who depend on them.</i></p><p><i>Once mired in decades of civil war, in recent years a more peaceful Liberia has emerged as a conservation leader focused on sustainable economic growth. To understand both the opportunities and the challenges that increased palm oil production poses for Liberia and its prized forests, Human Nature sat down with Liam Walsh, technical director for Conservation International (CI)’s Liberia office. </i></p><p><b>Question: Liberia’s forest resources are immense. Can you give us some background on them? </b></p><p><b>Answer: </b>Liberia’s forests provide a wide range of significant benefits to the Liberian people and the international community, such as habitat for globally important biodiversity, a range of ecological services, ecotourism potential, timber
and non-timber forest products and significant revenue for the country from commercial forestry development. To put it in perspective: Only one-tenth of West Africa’s original <a href=”https://ift.tt/2e7E7NI&#8221; target=”_blank”>Upper Guinean rainforest</a> remains, and 40 percent of that is in Liberia. Kept intact, this extensive forest has the incredible opportunity to help mitigate climate change.</p><p>CI started engaging with Liberia in 1999; the actual office here was set up in 2003. Initially, the focus was on helping Liberia create a network of protected areas across the country. The focus gradually shifted over time to include more <a href=”https://ift.tt/30S1LD6&#8243; target=”_blank”>work with communities living in or near forests that lie outside of the protected network</a>.</p><p><b>Q: What role did forests play in Liberia’s conflicts over the last few decades?</b></p><p><b>A:</b> During Liberia’s civil war, timber revenues were used to finance conflict. When the war ended, Liberia initiated a forest sector reform process and the United Nations lifted its three-year embargo on the sale of timber from Liberia. The
goal now is to transform Liberia’s forest into an engine for sustainable development. Questions remain on how this will take place — and whether the vast majority of Liberia’s population will benefit.</p><p><b>Q: </b><b>How are forests </b><b>— and natural resources more generally —</b><b> tied to Liberia’s economic development? </b></p><p><b>A: </b>In the aftermath of an extended period of civil war, Liberia is facing some severe development challenges. Consider this: At least 60 percent of the country’s population lives in predominantly forested ecosystems and depends substantially
on forests for their livelihoods, local food production and rural development. That’s nearly 700,000 households. However, poverty and the need for economic growth and development are significant drivers of degradation of natural resources in
the country.</p><p><b>Q: </b><b>What does the palm oil industry currently look like in Liberia?    </b></p><p><b>A: </b>Palm oil production in Liberia is considered by the government to be one of the most important industries for the future. They believe Liberia will become a major exporter of oil palm products in the West Africa region in the next five years,
and that, eventually, they can potentially export their products to Europe. Since 2009, four international palm oil companies have been granted concessions (areas of land the government grants companies to plant a crop) in Liberia for palm oil production
on 620,000 hectares (more than 1.5 million acres) of land. The palm oil industry has grown substantially across the globe and has made tangible contributions to poverty alleviation in parts of the world such as Indonesia and Malaysia. However, palm
oil production is also associated with a range of environmental issues including widespread deforestation.</p><p>Currently, palm oil development in Liberia is at a nascent stage, but given the scale of the concessions, the potential for growth is significant. Major land concessions in Liberia extend over vast areas that include forest that is high in biodiversity
and provides valuable ecosystem services for communities such as flood regulation, carbon sequestration, timber and ecotourism. In both industrial and conservation terms, landscapes in Liberia are in high demand. <i><b>(See drone footage of an oil palm plantation below.)</b></i></p><p></p><p><b>Q: What do palm oil concessions mean for Liberia’s forests?</b></p><p><b>A:</b> Palm oil is responsible for large-scale forest conversion in many parts of the tropics, particularly Indonesia and Malaysia. There is considerable conservation-worthy forest across the different palm oil concessions in Liberia, and the potential
for conversion of natural forest in these areas is very high. In fact, most deforestation that has occurred in the last 10 years in Liberia has occurred in areas where large-scale palm oil development is taking place.</p><p>So on the one hand, palm oil investment has the potential to support local agriculture and economic development — providing more jobs, economic growth and export opportunities. But on the other hand, the scale of these concessions raises concerns
about potential negative impacts on communities, forests and ecosystems. How do we balance those two seemingly competing objectives?</p><p><b>Q: Where does CI fit in? </b></p><p><b>A: </b>The position we take at CI is that <a href=”https://blog.conservation.org/2016/10/what-you-need-to-know-about-palm-oil-in-5-charts/”>palm oil is not the enemy</a> — the problem is where and how it’s grown.
And that essentially captures what we’re trying to do in Liberia; we want to influence where and how palm oil production takes place<b>. </b>Within palm oil landscapes, the first thing we want to do with palm oil producers and communities is
to use the best possible science to map what we refer to as “go” and “no-go” areas for palm oil development.</p><p>“No-go” areas are ones we have identified as being best suited for conservation. These are areas that are important not only for biodiversity but for the ecosystem services they provide for people such as flood regulation, carbon sequestration,
non-timber forest products and income from ecotourism. Once we’ve identified these areas and companies have agreed to set them aside, we then work closely with communities to conserve these forest areas in the long term.</p><p>“Go” areas are those areas where we think the sector can realize its economic potential. We identify degraded areas, or areas without much forest, that are suitable to be developed for palm oil —  both today and in the future, taking
into account the climate change impacts predicted for the area. Once areas for responsible cultivation are identified, we want to support sustainable production practices on that land, and ensure that companies are employing best agricultural practices
on the degraded land that they do cultivate, such as maintaining soil fertility and minimizing and controlling erosion.</p><p>We are also supporting implementation of better government policies that back sustainable palm oil production; ensure proper monitoring systems are put in place; and support national initiatives that bring different stakeholders within the sector together
to discuss key issues and build consensus. This holistic approach will allow us to find a way forward so the sector can progress in an environmentally and socially responsible manner — and potentially be replicated in other countries involved
in palm oil production.</p><p><b>Q: Outside of Liberia, what is CI trying to do in the larger context of palm oil?  </b></p><p><b>A: </b>In addition to mapping and identifying “go” and “no-go” areas for development, CI works with impacted communities and with governments to conserve forested areas within concessions and ensures the companies are following
best practices within the areas that they do cultivate.</p><p>Crucially, CI looks at things from a broader governance perspective, recognizing that national policies play a big role in palm oil production. We also work directly with companies that source palm oil to improve their supply chains and strengthen demand
for sustainable palm oil.</p><p><b>Q: What makes palm oil such an appealing and lucrative crop to grow?</b></p><p><b>A: </b>When you compare palm oil to other vegetable oils, it’s quite a remarkable crop. It can be grown in a lot of different areas, it’s a versatile product that can be used in so many different things. And there’s the simple fact
that if we were going to substitute palm oil for something else, we would probably need a lot more land to produce the same amount of oil that we need for all the consumer products that use it. So at CI, we’d rather see that people are focused
on getting palm oil production right rather than forcing people to use alternatives that will pose even greater challenges to keeping forests standing.</p><p><i>Liam Walsh is the technical director of CI Liberia. Sophie Bertazzo is a staff writer for CI.</i></p><p><i>Want to read more stories like this? </i><a href=”https://www.conservation.org/act”><i>Sign up</i></a><i> for email updates. </i><a href=”http://www.conservation.org/donate”><i>Donate</i></a><i&gt; to Conservation International.</i></p><hr /><p><b>Further reading</b></p><ul><li><a href=”https://ift.tt/30YLAUN&#8221; target=”_blank”>What you need to know about palm oil — in 5 charts</a></li><li><a href=”https://ift.tt/30S1LD6&#8243; target=”_blank”>Conservation agreements reduce people-park conflict in Liberia</a></li><li><a href=”https://blog.conservation.org/2014/04/why-palm-oil-isnt-the-enemy/”>Why palm oil isn’t the enemy</a></li><li><a href=”https://ift.tt/2LEaSnq&#8221; target=”_blank”>How ‘protected’ are Amazon’s protected areas?</a></li></ul><hr />

Keep Clear Of Germs and Wash Your Hands

Most of us have been taught to wash our hands since early childhood. But the hand hygiene we were taught can be improved. Especially now during summer vacation when we spend more time out of our own friendly-germ environment and possibly traveling, it makes sense to follow sensible precautions.

When do you wash hands? Naturally, after toilet use and after touching yucky things like garbage. How about:

  • Before starting to cook. While cooking, after you’ve handled raw meat. After any time you’ve handled raw meat.
  • Before eating. Coming in from the street and ravenous? Take a minute to wash before attacking the meal.
  • If you’re taking care of a sick person, wash before and after contact. Wash before and after treating a cut or a wound.
  • Wash well after changing diapers or wiping a child or adult.
  • Got a runny nose? Even if you’re not sick, do everyone a favor and wash your hands after a nose-blowing session. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow to minimize spreading airborne cooties.
  • You love your pets, but their body wastes and food are as germy yours. So wash after handling pet food and changing kitty litter or the newspaper in the hamster’s cage.

Running water and soap are your best tools for hand-washing. Remember that the backs of your hands and between your fingers need lathering too. Use a nail brush to get dirt out from under your nails. Avoid using water that’s already been used, for example, water standing in a basin.

How long to lather? 20 seconds will do it. Or hum “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice while soaping up.

Dry thoroughly. If no clean towel is available, swish your your hands around to dry in the air. Dirty towels are worse than useless, they’re dangerous, especially if sick people are using them.

A hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content will do instead of washing, but not as efficiently as water and soap, and especially if your hands are greasy or dirty with visible dirt. Rub the sanitizer between your palms, on the backs of your hands and between your fingers until it’s almost evaporated. Wave your hands to air dry.

Note that some substances, notably pesticides and heavy metals, aren’t removed from the skin with alcohol.If you’ve had contact with pesticides, wash with soap and water. Call a poison control center if the contact has been extensive, and follow instructions.

Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)-based hand sanitizers are safe when used as directed, but older children and adults might swallow some to get drunk. Bad idea.  Swallowing more than two mouthfuls will poison a person.

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, from 2011 – 2015, U.S. poison control centers received nearly 85,000 calls about hand sanitizer exposures among children. Children may be particularly likely to swallow hand sanitizers that are scented, brightly colored, or attractively packaged.

Hand sanitizers should be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used with adult supervision. Child-resistant caps could also help reduce hand sanitizer-related poisonings among young children.

:: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

 

Bees and Beekeepers Feel the Sting of Trump Administration’s Anti-Science Efforts

Bees and Beekeepers Feel the Sting of Trump Administration’s Anti-Science Efforts

Bee populations are suffering nationwide, yet regulators continue to approve anti-bee actions.




Beekeeper Jeff Anderson minds his colonies in a California cherry orchard.

Beekeeper Jeff Anderson says the Trump administration’s anti-bee and anti-science efforts are hurting his business.

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

It’s been a particularly terrible summer for bees. Recently, the U.S. EPA announced it is allowing the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor back on the market. And just a few weeks prior, the USDA announced it is suspending data collection for its annual honeybee survey, which tracks honeybee populations across the U.S., providing critical information to farmers and scientists.

The Trump administration pushed for these two anti-bee actions, even though our nation’s honeybee populations have been nosediving for years. Last winter, beekeepers reported a record 40 percent loss of their colonies.

A honey bee alights on a cherry blossom in Stockton, California.

A honey bee alights on a cherry blossom in Stockton, California.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

Longtime beekeeper Jeff Anderson, owner of California-Minnesota Honey Farms, says the picture is even grimmer if you look at bee losses across the entire year, particularly in the spring and summer when farmers are spraying pesticides. It’s not just bees that are suffering, he says. Beekeepers are also feeling the sting of the Trump administration’s anti-bee and anti-science efforts. And consumers of healthy, fresh foods are next.

Were you surprised to learn that the USDA pulled its honeybee colonies report?  

No. The USDA quit doing the honeybees survey because they absolutely don’t want to document what’s happening, because then they’d have to do something about it.

How do you feel about the EPA reregistering sulfoxaflor?

One thing that stood out to me in the EPA’s notice is that it said it’s “providing long-term certainty for U.S. growers to use an important tool to protect crops and avoid potentially significant economic losses, while maintaining strong protection for pollinators. The wording, “long-term certainty… to use,” seems totally wrong for a regulatory agency to make a promise like that. It predisposes a defensive position for all decisions going forward.

Basically, the EPA’s buddies at Dow AgroSciences want to make billions on this pesticide, and the EPA is going to let them. But please don’t lie to us and say that sulfoxaflor is somehow pollinator safe. I’m not buying.

Why do bees get such short shrift by regulators and legislators?

Beekeeping has always been the ugly stepchild in agriculture. Agriculture needs us, but not everybody in agriculture needs us. Corn growers and wheat growers don’t need my bees. Cherry, almond, and blueberry growers need my bees. Any of the healthy foods that are in our diet need insect pollination, and if you want to eat chicken, beef, whatever, most of that doesn’t need my bees. But when it comes to our healthy, nutritious foods like nuts and fruits, almost all of those need insect pollination.

Farmers know that pesticides are a problem. In Minnesota, the standard question I get from farmers when I walk into a room or get gas at a gas station is, “How are the bees doing?” I tell them, “Well, not so good.” And it’s getting to be that most farmers these days will say, “It’s all these chemicals, isn’t it?” I tell them, “It should give you some pause to think about that because you and I are next. We just haven’t started coughing as much yet.”

Our environment is sick and our bees are a good indicator when that’s the truth. When my beehive gets sick, there’s something not right within the flight range of those bees. But the chemical industry is the one who speaks for everybody on the Hill, so it doesn’t matter what farmers think. That’s the reality.

Anderson minds his colonies in a California cherry orchard.

Anderson minds his colonies in a California cherry orchard.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

How are your honeybees faring this year?

I’ve had about 90 percent honeybee loss between last spring and this spring. I typically run about 3,000 colonies in our spring count and we instead we had 300.

If you want to look at my winter losses, they were probably about like what the Bee Informed Partnership survey is claiming, around 40 percent. And that is almost exclusively painted up in the press like that’s the annual number that the industry is losing, which is absolute hogwash because it isn’t the full story. The spring losses are greater than the winter losses because generally most things die when they’re most exposed to pesticides. Is that rocket science? No. It’s just that nobody talks about it.

Has the bee die-off impacted your ability to do business?

I used to have all of my adult children working for me. My oldest, Jeremy, has worked with bees ever since he got out of diapers. He’s been my foreman for 20 years. Now, with honey production way down, he’s barely getting paid enough to put food on the table. Things are getting tight because our honey crops are way off. The most barrels of honey I ever produced was about 450. Last year, I had about 68 barrels. Sick bees don’t make honey.

That’s the other part of the bee story. I run a family operation and I can’t keep my kids employed anymore. When you can’t keep hives alive, you can’t keep income coming in. We all talk the demise of bees, but the demise of the beekeepers gets overlooked a lot of times. Beekeepers all have a form of PTSD. We just don’t get it in the military.

Is climate change impacting your bees?

Yes, but not like you’re thinking, where it’s too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.

Neonicotinoid pesticides like sulfoxaflor cause problems with thermoregulation in affected insects. One of the problems we have with overwintering our bees is that the cold will now kill a beehive. That didn’t used to be normal. Before, most of the bees in the Midwest stayed all winter. The beekeeper would wrap them with insulation and give them a top entrance, so they could ventilate the moisture out of the colony. And the bees would be just fine, coming out in the spring big enough to split into separate hives. If you try to do that with a bee colony now, it’s dead by November.

It’s not the extreme temperatures. It doesn’t even have to get that cold. They have bee mortality in Florida at 40 degrees. The hive simply can’t thermoregulate.

Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so.

Anderson works with members of his family in this photo from 2014. He once employed all of his adult children but can no longer afford to do so.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

Do you plan on continuing as a beekeeper?

My plan today should have been to go up to Fargo, North Dakota, for the bee convention with a for sale sign for anyone who wants my operation. That’s what I should have been doing.

My parents’ generation, they would have stuck with it because they knew you might have a bad year, but it was an anomaly, and the next year was going to be better. That’s what farmers always think. For the most part, that’s true. In the grand scheme of things, you’ve usually got one year in 20 that’s down, so it really wasn’t a stupid decision to dip into your savings to push things forward.

But in year after year after year we keep setting records for low honey production in the U.S. This year, we were down to 300-some hives. You don’t just take 300-some hives and magically sneeze and all of a sudden you’ve got 3,000. You work your tail off, you buy bees from other beekeepers, you get extra queens, etc. It costs a lot of money, and I decided I’m not gonna throw good money after bad in this operation. If Honey Farms can’t pay its way, than it’s going to cease to exist. I see no reason to put the 50 cents I have set aside for retirement into trying to manage a bee operation when I’m 62.  

What can people do to support bees?

Consumers are starting to understand that what they put in their mouth has a great deal to do with how often they see their doctor. There’s a direct connection between your health and what you eat. It’s not rocket science. Vote with your checkbook. The chemical industry is in charge on the Hill, unless we can un-buy Congress.


Editor’s note: In 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that sulfoxaflor could not be used in the United States, following an Earthjustice lawsuit. The court found the EPA violated the law by approving sulfoxaflor without reliable studies regarding the impact that the insecticide would have on honeybee colonies.

“At a time when honeybees and other pollinators are dying in greater numbers than ever before, Trump’s EPA decision to remove restrictions on yet another bee-killing pesticide is nothing short of reckless,” says Earthjustice attorney Greg Loarie, who litigated the sulfoxaflor case. “Scientists have long said pesticides like sulfoxaflor are the cause of the unprecedented colony collapse. Letting sulfoxaflor back on the market is dangerous for our food system, economy, and environment.”

Exclude from Recent Victories: 

COMMENT: USDA Disregards Congress, Plans to Relocate Research Agencies to Kansas City

FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE

Contact: Reana Kovalcik
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
202-547-5754, rkovalcik@sustainableagriculture.net

USDA Disregards Congress, Plans to Relocate Research Agencies to Kansas City, MO
NSAC urges Senate to take a final stand against relocation of ERS and NIFA

Washington, DC, June 13, 2019 – Despite ongoing opposition from core stakeholders and multiple warnings from Congress not to proceed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has chosen to act with unprecedented disregard for good governance. Today, USDA charged forward with relocation and reorganization plans for two key federal research agencies: the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announcing its decision to relocate a majority of the agencies’ services and staff to Kansas City, MO. The move is being carried out with little to no oversight from lawful federal procedural rules, and has been broadly opposed by Congress Members and many key stakeholders. In response to this announcement, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) issued the following comment:

“We are shocked and dismayed that USDA has from the beginning refused to go through the proper channels – including the solicitation of public comment and adhering to the directives of Congress – for such a significant and disruptive change as relocating essential government research agencies,” said Juli Obudzinski, NSAC Interim Policy Director.

“The fact that USDA has totally ignored good governance guidelines and congressional directives in their efforts to reorganize and relocate ERS and NIFA sets a dangerous precedent for the future. No Secretary has previously or should now have the authority to unilaterally uproot federal agencies and undermine core functions of government. Despite claims that this relocation will better serve American agriculture, the truth is that USDA’s decision has led to a mass exodus of highly trained experts from both ERS and NIFA. The resulting agency brain drain will ultimately cripple both agencies’ research functions, an effect that will be further exacerbated by isolating the offices more than a thousand miles away from key partners and collaborators in the nation’s capital.

NSAC is deeply troubled by the unilateral decision to uproot these core scientific agencies, and by the significant collateral damage that is sure to result. We call on Congress to fulfill its essential role in providing the proper checks and balances on the use of Executive power and urge the Senate to follow the House’s lead by standing against this ill-conceived proposal. We urge both Chambers of Congress to use their full authority to restrict USDA from using any current or future agency funds to relocate or reorganize either ERS or NIFA.”

###

About the National
Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that
advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic,
and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural
communities. Learn more and get involved at: http://sustainableagriculture.net

The post COMMENT: USDA Disregards Congress, Plans to Relocate Research Agencies to Kansas City appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Run in sprints – for your heart and perfect body, new research confirms it

reformation bathing suit

Want a summer body and the fastest way to lose weight? Run in sprints, according to new study

If your knees are still young and your mind willing, running is by far the best way to keep your heart and bones strong. It’s by far the easiest way to lose weight but you need to be committed. Recent studies show that swimming and cycling may have very little positive effect against osteoporosis (and can even be putting your bones at risk). And as we learn in grade school, it’s never too young to start keeping your bones strong.

I started running 2 years ago, I admit, to lose weight I had been gaining from childbirth. Not the actual birthing but after I stopped nursing. I started running on a trip to Costa Rica. Not a fan of gyms, driving or working very hard to exercise, running seemed like the least hassling option for looking better. Side benefits I now see are plenty… I eat better as I crave less fatty foods, I feel better as the positive hormones cycle through my body, and people respond to me more favorably creating lots of positive feedback loops. I had been feeling so good about myself that one year after running I started combining it with Iyengar yoga to lengthen the muscle mass I had started to build.

"jogging energy electricity"

When I started running I only took cues from my body. As I was already in my 40s yet was quite active as a teen and young adult in my 20s, I had some muscle memory and some basic skills that carried through with me. When I first started running I decided that I would run for 3 miles (about 5 kilometers) and do it every other day. My step-son told me that it’s good for the body to have a day off to burn fat.

So I started out. From the outset I decided that I would never stop running. Even if I was going slower than the walkers. I wanted to keep my hips and leg muscles engaged in the running position and I wanted to improve with every run, even if it was just a tiny bit. If I was sick and needed to take a day or two off, I would return to the run a bit slower than my last run. This way I was never discouraged.

I did two other important things: I told myself that I can’t quit. That not running 3 days a week for myself would be like not giving my kids breakfast in the morning or taking the dog out for a walk.

Somehow among all my friends with “great tips” from speed-walking yoga gurus to crossfit enthusiasts, I decided to go with my intuition. In order to advance in my running and improve my heart health and overall effect I would sprint 3 times during my 3 mile run. I normally started the sprinting sessions, about 150 yards at a time, after I had run halfway or even two thirds of the way in. I would start sprinting only at the time when I felt my heart rate was stable (I could feel it inside me, I don’t wear a monitor); and during the sprint I would run as fast as I can.

Being a little competitive I sometimes like to sprint past the people who try to run ahead of me. Lucky for me I live on the Mediterranean Sea so have a lovely wind and backdrop for my sport. Hopefully you too can find a forest or a cool path that makes you happy to run through. One of my rules: never change the route. This way my mind can’t play tricks on me to shorten the route. Also I know what to expect most of the time — although today I saw a colt taking a bath in the sea — did not expect that!

The results of my two year running combined with yoga have been exceptional and it really does boil down to what you do and what you eat. If you run and do piles of yoga but then eat meals of junk food, soda and processed food, well it might not give you the effect you want. That said I do eat whatever I want but cravings for sweets and fried foods and meat have tapered off.

reformation bathing suit pin-up model style

This is me. I eat what I want; but I am committed to exercising. I ride my bike as much as I can; and exercise about 5 days a week – 2 runs, combined with 3 sessions of yoga.

To my chagrin and not surprise a new study on running looks at the approach I have taken and it confirmed my intuition.

In a new observational study that looked at more than 70 scientific papers, the results were in line with what my body had told me. Compared to high intensity training (HIIT) like working out at the gym, taking it in stride with sprinting (SIT) is the key to losing weight.

“The data shows that sprint interval training led to a 39.95% higher reduction in body fat percentage than HIIT. Additionally, SIT participants exercised for 60.84% less time than HII.”

All Findings:

  • Sprint interval training (SIT) vs High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • SIT resulted in a 39.59% higher reduction in body fat percentage than HIIT.
  • SIT significantly outperformed HIIT in Body Fat Percentage (BF%) reduction while requiring 60.84% less time spent exercising than HIIT.
  • SIT participants spent 81.46% less time sprinting in comparison to time spent doing high-intensity intervals of HIIT.
  • On average, SIT conducted 10% fewer workouts per week and these workouts were 44% shorter in comparison to HIIT.
  • During these workouts, the SIT group did 4.68% fewer sprints than the HIIT participants did their high-intensity intervals.
  • These sprints were 85.64% shorter in duration than the high-intensity intervals of the HIIT group.
  • Sprint interval training vs Moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT)
  • SIT resulted in a 91.83% higher reduction in body fat percentage than MICT.
  • SIT significantly outperformed MICT in Body Fat Percentage (BF%) reduction while requiring 71.17% less time spent exercising.
  • SIT participants conducted 15.54% fewer workouts every week on average compared to MICT.
  • These workouts for SIT were 60.12% shorter than MICT workouts.

For those that want to try it know that sprint interval training requires intense bursts of energy, where you give it your all, but you have long rests in between (in my case jogging at a slow pace) so it makes it super easy to achieve the desired effects without a lot of time or effort. The key here is just committing to it. Once you have the game plan, stop wasting hours and hours at the gym. You are telling yourself lies and spending money for no reason.

Your time can be spent doing so many other things, like hanging out with your friends or making a healthy home-cooked meal at home for your kids.

Peace out and read about the whole study here.

 

EPA takes Monsanto’s side on glyphosate

wtf

Alternative Roundup Label



The pesticide world has been abuzz with the outcome of the third glyphosate trial. Earlier this month, Bayer (Monsanto) was found liable for Alva and Alberta Pilliod’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and was ordered to pay over $2 billion total in damages.

In light of the World Health Organization’s determination in 2015 that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Roundup, is a ‘probable human carcinogen,’ more than 10,000 individuals who have been exposed to the herbicide and suffered from cancer are in the process of suing the chemical giant, recently acquired by Bayer.

You’d think this precedent-setting verdict, the third consecutive against Bayer, would put the gears in motion for EPA to withdraw glyphosate from circulation. But disturbingly, the agency plans to keep the chemical on the market.

Seriously EPA?

Internal memos show that this administration went as far as to reassure Monsanto that they “have their back” when it comes to pesticides like Roundup.

We’ve already seen this EPA getting cozy with industry executives. Consider the chlorpyrifos fiasco — former Administrator Scott Pruitt decided not to ban the neurotoxic pesticide after meeting with Dow Chemical (chlorpyrifos’ manufacturer) executives.

But this is a new low. Ignoring recommendations of the World Health Organization, and dismissing concern from members of EPA’s own Scientific Advisory Panel over the hazards of glyphosate is a blatant disregard for sound science and public health.

Glyphosate has to go

Glyphosate is used on more than 100 crops, including corn, soy, cotton, canola and sugar beets. Use as skyrocketed over the past decade as “Roundup ready” crops that are genetically engineered to tolerate application of the herbicide have become standard in industrial agriculture systems.

While dangers are highest for pesticide applicators, farmworkers and rural communities exposed during spraying, residues of the chemical have been found in numerous food and drink products as well.

The U.S. Geological Survey found glyphosate in nearly all water and air samples taken in recent testing, and a recent study found the chemical in the bodies of pregnant women. In addition to its link to cancer, studies have also linked glyphosate to birth defects, liver damage, and hormone disruption.

Given the widespread exposure to this chemical that science has shown can harm human health, EPA must revise the recommendation that glyphosate be re-registered without restrictions. It’s time to invest in effective systems of farming and weed control that don’t rely on chemicals that put our health at risk.

Sign on to PAN’s petition today, telling EPA it’s time to put public health and the environment above the interests of corporations like Monsanto (Bayer).

Photo: Global Justice Now | Flickr

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