Can bees be trained to sniff out cancer? – Salon.com

Can bees be trained to sniff out cancer? – Salon.com.

nsects offer key advantages over mammals and electronics, however, because of their antennae. For example, electronic nose devices have trouble detecting an odor amid more complicated conditions, like when there’s a greater mixture of gases, as is found in human breath. And studies have revealed that sniffer dogs identify odors correctly only about 71 percent of the time, while also requiring at least three months’ training. Bees, in contrast, have achieved an accuracy rate of 98 percent and can be trained in about 10 minutes.

In developing “Bee’s,” the Portuguese native needed something that enabled the user to easily transport bees into the instrument and safely suck them back out using a vacuum. The source material also had to be malleable enough to shape into a system with well-defined pathways that don’t impede their movement. She eventually settled on glass as the material because of its flexibility and transparency. “To know the results of a breath test, you’d have to see the behavior of the insects,” she says. “Everything is about their behavior.”

Prototypes have undergone field testing, and although it didn’t find any instances of cancer, it did turn up a case of diabetes that was later confirmed. It’s unlikely, though, that the concept will amount to anything beyond being an exhibition curiosity. While there was a brief period in which she felt ambitious enough to reach out to potential collaborators, the process proved so time consuming and unfruitful that she ultimately gave up. The only organizations that seemed even remotely interested in her idea were a handful of charities. So for now, “Bee’s” exists as one of those purely academic exercises to show, as she puts it, the “symbiotic relationship” humans have with nature and how “technology and science can better foster these relationships.”

“I think there’s only four labs in the world doing research into insects for disease screening, which shows you that this approach doesn’t go over well in the western world,” says Soares. “Medical and health technologies are a big business, and the bottom line is they just don’t see how something like this can be profitable.”

Glen C. Rains, an agricultural professor at the University of Georgia, largely concurs, though he adds that there are more complex issues besides economics. The entomologist, as well as licensed beekeeper, has dealt with numerous challenges while developing a similar device called the Wasp Hound, which uses a batch of five wasps to detect the presence of bedbugs. Rains’ system is a bit more elaborate in that it uses a camera to record the wasps’ behavior. The data is then fed into software that analyzes these movements to determine if the bugs actually did indeed detect these unwanted guests. After over a decade of development, Rains has forged a partnership with Bennett Aerospace, an engineering firm, to refine the technology for large-scale real applications.

Geoengineering Could Reduce Critical Global Rainfall | Climate Central

Geoengineering Could Reduce Critical Global Rainfall | Climate Central.

Climate researcher John Fasullo, one of the authors of the study, said geoengineering options present a “Pick your poison” dilemma. “Climate change is one ill, but geoengineering contains its own downsides as well.”

 

The study focused on one geoengineering proposal that has gained traction among geoengineering proponents and some policymakers looking for a technical fix to the climate challenge. The plan, known as solar radiation management, involves injecting small particles that reflect sunlight, or possibly even giant mirrors, into the upper atmosphere, to reduce the amount of incoming solar radiation, thereby cooling the Earth’s surface.

 

The new study simulated the effects of using solar radiation management in an environment in which the amount of greenhouse gases in the air is four times the level observed at the start of the industrial revolution. That is far higher than today, since the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main long-lived greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere has not yet doubled from the preindustrial level.

 

The study found that blocking some incoming solar radiation would alter the temperature profile of the atmosphere by cooling the lower atmosphere. At the same time, increased amounts of greenhouse gases would continue to warm the air at higher altitudes. That would make the atmosphere more stable and reduce the amount of storminess that would occur, said Simone Tilmes, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo.

 

According to Tilmes, “it’s not possible” for geoengineering to bring the climate back to where it was in preindustrial times, because the climate system will still be responding to the increased amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

 

Change in average precipitation (without geoengineering) projected for the end of the 21st century, showing a wetter planet overall.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: IPCC Fifth Assessment Report.

 

For example, increased levels of CO2 cause plants to release less water vapor through evapotranspiration, which can reduce precipitation over land, Tilmes said. That response would continue to occur even if geoengineering were to succeed in bringing global average surface temperatures back to where they were before the industrial era began in the mid-to-late 19th century.

 

The study is part of an international effort among climate scientists to gain insight into the possible side effects of the geoengineering proposals that have been put forward as last-ditch plans to diminish the severity of global warming. Interest in geoengineering has increased in recent years as efforts to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases have stalled.

 

Based on the study, a benefit of geoengineering — in addition to reducing global average surface temperatures — could come into play with extreme precipitation events. Such events present the risk of flooding, as was seen recently in Colorado when a 1-in-1,000 year rainfall event led to extensive flooding.

 

In a world with more CO2, precipitation extremes are becoming more severe and more common. According to the National Climate Assessment, released in draft form in January, the most extreme precipitation events have increased in every region of the contiguous U.S. since 1950, a trend that the study attributed partly to increased evaporation from manmade global warming. At the same time, a more intense water cycle is likely to lead to more frequent and severe drought in other areas, such as in the Southwestern U.S.

 

However, if the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface were reduced, the study suggests that the frequency of heavy precipitation events would also decrease. In fact, relative to preindustrial conditions, geoengineering would produce about a 20 percent reduction in heavy precipitation events globally, with significant regional variations, Fasullo said.

 

It might be possible to pursue a middle-of-the-road geoengineering option that would offset some of the manmade warming while avoiding a harmful impact on precipitation — a “Goldilocks” scenario — but studies on such options have not yet been completed, and Fasullo and Tilmes both expressed skepticism that such a geoengineering sweet spot exists.

“We have to be aware of the problems” with geoengineering, Tilmes said. “It helps the conversations and the arguments about the impacts of geoengineering.”

Wild Bumblebees need protection | EcoWatch

Conservation and Science Leaders Demand Protection of Wild Bumblebees | EcoWatch.

 

To prevent the spread of disease to wild populations of agriculturally significant bee pollinators, petitioners asked U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to use its authority to regulate commercial bumblebees. Specifically, the petitioners want APHIS to create rules prohibiting the movement of bumblebees outside their native ranges and regulate interstate movement of bumblebee pollinators within their native ranges by requiring permits that show the bumblebees are disease-free before being transported.
The letter comes nearly four years after an initial petition for rulemaking, which asked the APHIS to regulate the movement of commercial bumblebees to help control the spread of parasites to wild bees. The agency has not responded, despite dramatic declines in several native bee populations across the country. Researchers believe that pathogens transmitted by commercial bumblebees are likely part of the problem, prompting the call for agency intervention to help stem native bumblebee losses and avert the associated impacts on the U.S. food system.
“It has been almost four years since we filed our petition asking that APHIS regulate the movement of commercial bumblebees,” said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “Several species of bumblebees are in steep decline and it is urgent that APHIS take action soon to protect these important pollinators.”
Bumblebee pollination is essential to the reproduction of many crops and native flowering plants, and pathogens of bumblebees can act as indirect plant pests that pose a significant threat to agriculture and native ecosystems.
“Without immediate agency intervention we will likely continue to see a dramatic decline in bumblebee pollinators with perilous and potentially irreversible consequences,” Giulia Good Stefani, attorney with NRDC said. “One-third of the food on our plates depends on pollinators. A failure to protect our bumblebees has direct implications for the health of the ecosystems that depend on them and for the security of our food supply.”
The unregulated interstate movement of bumblebees outside their native ranges may already have introduced diseases that have led to the rapid endangerment of four formerly common bee pollinators and the possible extinction of a fifth bumblebee. The last reported sighting of a Franklin’s bee (Bombus franklini) was in August 2006, and, without regulation, the western bumblebee (Bombus occidentalis), the rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis), the yellow-banded bumblebee (Bombus terricola), and the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus) are each in danger of disappearing throughout significant portions of their distribution ranges.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.

Monsanto Insiders Dump Stock as the Truth about GMOs Spreads across Wall Street | REALfarmacy.com | Healthy News and Information

Monsanto Insiders Dump Stock as the Truth about GMOs Spreads across Wall Street | REALfarmacy.com | Healthy News and Information.

 

Just the fact that Monsanto’s GE wheat trials got out of control and contaminated a wheat field in Oregon — causing Japan and South Korea to ban U.S. wheat imports — has resulted in 150 groups now demanding the USDA keep a tighter lid on Monsanto’s GMO experiments. These groups are fed up with seeing the market value of their crops destroyed by sloppy “open field” experiments being conducted by Monsanto that spread genetic pollution across the country and contaminate non-GMO crops. (Monsanto goes even further and actually sues the farmers whose fields they contaminated!)

Hedge funds dumping Monsanto

As InsiderMonkey.com reports, Monsanto “has experienced declining interest from the entirety of the hedge funds we track.”

The report goes on to say:

At the top of the heap, Jeffrey Vinik’s Vinik Asset Management said goodbye to the largest stake of the 450+ funds we monitor, totaling close to $100.8 million in [Monsanto] stock. Sean Cullinan’s fund, Point State Capital, also dropped its [Monsanto] stock, about $54.7 million worth.

These sales leave Stephen Mandel’s Lone Pine Capital with the largest holdings of Monsanto, over $613 million worth of the company’s stock. Natural News urges all investors to ditch Lone Pine Capital and take your money somewhere else that doesn’t invest in “the world’s most evil corporation.”

Blue Ridge Capital also owns over $320 million in Monsanto stock and should be immediately abandoned by all investors.

Monsanto share prices plummeting ever since the March Against Monsanto

So far this year, Monsanto (MON) share prices have plummeted from a high of $109 to a current trading range around $95. That’s a drop of nearly 13%, and the bad news for Monsanto just keeps coming.

For one, the European Union’s new food safety guidelines affirm the methodology and findings of the Seralini GM corn rat study. As much as the biotech industry and all its pimped-out science trolls have attempted to attack the study, the secret is already out: GM corn causes cancer tumors and consumers accurately see GM corn as equivalent to a “poison” symbol on foods.

The Seralini study, by the way, found that:

• Up to 50% of males and 70% of females suffered premature death.

• Rats that drank trace amounts of Roundup (at levels legally allowed in the water supply) had a 200% to 300% increase in large tumors.

• Rats fed GM corn and traces of Roundup suffered severe organ damage including liver damage and kidney damage.

• The study fed these rats NK603, the Monsanto variety of GM corn that’s grown across North America and widely fed to animals and humans. This is the same corn that’s in your corn-based breakfast cereal, corn tortillas and corn snack chips.

Anyone who is still investing in Monsanto is investing in this:

The Privatization of Water: Nestlé Denies that Water is a Fundamental Human Right | Global Research

The Privatization of Water: Nestlé Denies that Water is a Fundamental Human Right | Global Research.

water-fluoridation-1

The current Chairman and former CEO of Nestlé, the largest producer of food products in the world, believes that the answer to global water issues is privatization. This statement is on record from the wonderful company that has peddled junk food in the Amazon, has invested money to thwart the labeling of GMO-filled products, has a disturbing health and ethics record for its infant formula, and has deployed a cyber army to monitor Internet criticism and shape discussions in social media.

This is apparently the company we should trust to manage our water, despite the record of large bottling companies like Nestlé having a track record of creating shortages:

Large multinational beverage companies are usually given water-well privileges (and even tax breaks) over citizens because they create jobs, which is apparently more important to the local governments than water rights to other taxpaying citizens. These companies such as Coca Cola and Nestlé (which bottles suburban Michigan well-water and calls it Poland Spring) suck up millions of gallons of water, leaving the public to suffer with any shortages. (source)

But Chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, believes that “access to water is not a public right.” Nor is it a human right. So if privatization is the answer, is this the company in which the public should place its trust?

Here is just one example, among many, of his company’s concern for the public thus far:

In the small Pakistani community of Bhati Dilwan, a former village councilor says children are being sickened by filthy water. Who’s to blame? He says it’s bottled water-maker Nestlé, which dug a deep well that is depriving locals of potable water. “The water is not only very dirty, but the water level sank from 100 to 300 to 400 feet,” Dilwan says. (source)

Why? Because if the community had fresh water piped in, it would deprive Nestlé of its lucrative market in water bottled under the Pure Life brand.

In the subtitled video below, from several years back, Brabeck discusses his views on water, as well as some interesting comments concerning his view of Nature — that it is “pitiless” — and, of course, the obligatory statement that organic food is bad and GM is great. In fact, according to Brabeck, you are essentially an extremist to hold views opposite to his own. His statements are important to review as we continue to see the world around us become reshaped into a more mechanized environment in order to stave off that pitiless Nature to which he refers.

The conclusion to this segment is perhaps the most revealing about Brabeck’s worldview, as he highlights a clip of one of his factory operations. Evidently, the savior-like role of the Nestlé Group in ensuring the health of the global population should be graciously welcomed. Are you convinced?

CBC.ca | Daybreak North | Paralyzed crows not west nile virus

CBC.ca | Daybreak North | Paralyzed crows not west nile virus.

Necropsies on eight young birds from B.C.’s northeast have ruled out viruses like West Nile.  But the mystery deepens because the birds were found to have broken wings and legs.  Daybreak’s Betsy Trumpener speaks with Helen Schwantje.

audio on the page

The mystery surrounding dozens of paralyzed birds that were discovered in B.C.’s northeast has deepened after veterinarians ruled out West Nile virus but found wing and leg fractures.

Last month, dozens of paralyzed ravens and crows were dropped off at a Dawson Creek rehabilitation clinic, sparking concerns about West Nile, which can also affect humans.

Despite efforts to save them, all 30 birds eventually died.

Veterinarians have now ruled out West Nile, saying no viruses of any kind were found in the eight or so birds sent for a necropsy.

But the young birds showed wing and leg fractures, they said.

“Bones can be broken when they fall out of nests … or if they are coming out of the nest earlier than they should before the wings can really support them. So, maybe that’s not that unusual,” said wildlife veterinarian Helen Schwantje.

“We just don’t see large numbers of them very often,” she added.

A spokesperson for the province’s Fish and Wildlife Branch said officials don’t believe there is a risk to human health.

Last week, dozens of black birds started falling from the sky in Winnipeg.

Residents described a “blanket of black” that looked like something out a Hitchcock movie.

Animal experts are also trying to figure out the cause of those deaths.

 

Surge of investment in farming threatens £5trn catastrophe – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent

Surge of investment in farming threatens £5trn catastrophe – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent.

 

 

The threat posed to agriculture by environmental hazards such as climate change and water scarcity is now so great that it could wipe as much as £5 trillion off the value of the world’s farm land, equipment and stock in any one year, a heavyweight study is warning.

Agriculture in the UK and worldwide is under huge financial and physical stress. A surge of investment on the back of a boom in the global food commodities market meets an increasingly precarious physical environment for farming – creating a dangerous asset bubble that threatens to burst, according to the Oxford University research.

As a result, the total value of the world’s estimated $14trn worth of “farmland assets and agricultural capital stock” could see trillions of dollars wiped off its value in a single year – with a one in 20 chance that the figure could hit $8trn (£5.2trn) the report said.

“Potential losses at this scale would be catastrophic and no private insurer could cope. This is going to be an issue in the UK and globally,” said Ben Caldecott, programme director at the University of Oxford’s Smith School, adding that he was not able to quantify the risk for Britain.

The research team based their risk estimates on traditional insurance methodologies and stressed that an $8trn devaluation would only result from an environmental catastrophe.

“It could be a tipping point in biodiversity decline or habitat degradation making agricultural zones significantly less productive. Or, more likely, a combination of things coming together,” he said.

But the chance of smaller, but still enormous, write-offs across the global agricultural industry in the coming years is high, as, for example, increasing cases of drought and flooding make land less productive and the influx of investors becomes an exodus. This would have far-ranging and unexpected consequences across the world, the report finds.

“For example, the Arab Spring has demonstrated how water supply constraints in North Africa, coupled with extreme weather in Russia can affect food security and prices and contribute to governmental collapse and broader geopolitical tension,” the report said.

The report doesn’t predict which parts of the world would be hit hardest by environmental hazards, how they might suffer or what it would mean for food supplies and future investment in farming.

However, farming experts said any environmental misfortune big enough to prompt huge write-downs would clearly have a huge impact on food supplies, as well as future investment in farming. It could also hit people’s pensions because many of the investors that have piled into the agriculture sector in recent years have been pension funds.

Farmland is increasingly bought as an investment, to be managed by another party, rather than by farmers. Financial institutions see it as an opportunity to improve their returns by switching their money from flagging stock markets into fast growing agricultural land and food production.

But Mr Caldecott warns they could be in for a shock because many have based their decision on whether to buy into farming on financial models that largely ignores the dangers posed by environmental risk factors.

“The amount of value potentially at risk globally is significant,” Mr Caldecott said, drawing an analogy between the financial crisis that is still hurting the global economy and the problems faced by agriculture.