Archive for November, 2015

Toxic pesticide banned on genetically engineered crops

Washington D.C. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), responding to litigation, has announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo.” Approved by the agency just over a year ago, Enlist Duo is a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D that Dow AgroSciences created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered crops, designed to withstand being drenched with this potent herbicide cocktail. In its court filing, EPA stated it is taking this action after realizing that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

Dow created Enlist crops as a quick fix for the problem created by “Roundup Ready” crops, the previous generation of genetically engineered crops designed to resist the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. Just as overuse of antibiotics has left resistant strains of bacteria to thrive, repeated use of Roundup on those crops allowed glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” to proliferate, and those weeds now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland. Enlist crops allow farmers to spray both glyphosate and 2,4-D without killing their crops, which they hope will kill weeds resistant to glyphosate alone. But some weeds have already developed 2,4-D resistance, and the escalating cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment will continue unless EPA stops approving these chemicals, and USDA stops rubber-stamping new genetically engineered crops.

http://www.panna.org/press-release/epa-pulls-registration-dow-enlist-duo-herbicide-citing-high-toxicity-levels (more…)

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UAB study suggests oil dispersant used in Gulf oil spill causes lung and gill injuries to humans and aquatic animals.

The study findings suggest that Corexit exposure caused oxidative stress to epithelium cells, leading to a breakdown in their ability to function as a barrier. The exposure also increased the frequency of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. “The evidence that Corexit causes structural and functional abnormalities in airway tissue includes dispersant-induced cell detachment, edema, contraction in cell diameter and increased permeability

New research from investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggests that Corexit EC9500A, an oil-dispersal agent widely used in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, contributes to damage to epithelium cells within the lungs of humans and gills of marine creatures. The study also identifies an enzyme that is expressed in epithelial cells across species that has protective properties against Corexit-induced damage.

The investigators say that finding a way to boost or enhance that enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 or HO-1, could prevent lung damage in cases of exposure to oil dispersal agents in future. The study, published in PLOS ONE on April 2, 2015, looked at epithelium cells — the cells lining the airways of humans and the gills of certain marine species, in particular zebrafish and blue crabs.

The Deepwater Horizon spill, which began April 20, 2010, involved 205.8 million gallons of crude oil that spilled from a well head blow-out during the next three months. A dispersant, Corexit EC9500A, was used to degrade and break down the oil. A total of 1.84 million gallons of chemical dispersant was sprayed on the water or applied below the surface of the water.

The epithelium is a thin layer of cells that provides a continuous, critical and a highly regulated barrier to environmental insults. Inflammation of these cells can lead to a loss of integrity of the epithelium, causing an increase in permeability across the airway. Swelling of the airway with a corresponding reduction in airflow also can occur

There were some 48,000 workers involved in the cleanup operations, and it is possible that workers were exposed to Corexit via inhalation,” said Veena Antony, M.D., professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine and senior author of the paper. “Cough, shortness of breath and sputum production were among symptoms expressed by workers.”

http://www.uab.edu/news/innovation/item/5923-uab-study-suggests-oil-dispersant-used-in-gulf-oil-spill-causes-lung-and-gill-injuries-to-humans-and-aquatic-animals-also-identifies-protective-enzymehttp://www.uab.edu/news/innovation/item/5923-uab-study-suggests-oil-dispersant-used-in-gulf-oil-spill-causes-lung-and-gill-injuries-to-humans-and-aquatic-animals-also-identifies-protective-enzyme (more…)

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Chemical dispersants can suppress the activity of natural oil-degrading microorganisms


During the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the application of 7 million liters of chemical dispersants aimed to stimulate microbial crude oil degradation by increasing the bioavailability of oil compounds.

However, the effects of dispersants on oil biodegradation rates are debated. In laboratory experiments, we simulated environmental conditions comparable to the hydrocarbon-rich, 1,100 m deep plume that formed during the Deepwater Horizon discharge.

The presence of dispersant significantly altered the microbial community composition through selection for potential dispersant-degrading Colwellia, which also bloomed in situ in Gulf deep waters during the discharge. In con- trast, oil addition to deepwater samples in the absence of dispersant stimulated growth of natural hydrocarbon-degrading Marinobacter. In these deepwater microcosm experiments, dispersants did not enhance heterotrophic microbial activity or hydrocarbon oxidation rates. An experiment with surface seawater from an anthropogeni- cally derived oil slick corroborated the deepwater microcosm results as inhibition of hydrocarbon turnover was observed in the presence of dispersants, suggesting that the microcosm findings are broadly applicable across marine habitats.

Extrapolating this comprehensive dataset to real world scenarios questions whether dispersants stim- ulate microbial oil degradation in deep ocean waters and instead highlights that dispersants can exert a negative effect on microbial hydrocarbon degradation rates.

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/04/1507380112.full.pdf  (more…)

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This compilation of scientific papers published by the Coalition for a GM-Free India on 26th March, the 11th anniversary of the official approval of Bt cotton in India showcases mounting evidence on the adverse impacts of transgenic crops/ food on various fronts.
This publication is a compilation of numerous scientific references of studies, surveys and analyses that point to various adverse impacts of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and foods. Needless to say, the implications of this living, irreversible technology have to be understood on different fronts (as much as possible, because there is also severe dearth of research, that too on long term implications and from independent sources) by policy makers and individual citizens before GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are released into the environment, given that such deployment would take place on a large scale in agriculture.


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