Current Events October 6, 2011
Cookies Bad for the Environment? • Palm oil found in baked goods, shortening, cooking oils, candy bars, margarine, and candy • Oil palm is grown as an industrial plantation crop, often (especially in Indonesia) on newly cleared rainforest or peat-swamp forests.
Ecological Problems • The Sumatran tiger, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, Asian elephant, and Sumatran rhinoceros.
Role of US Consumers • Because of the impending trans-fat labeling regulation, many food manufacturers are seeking alternatives to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. • If companies replaced the 2.5 billion pounds of partially hydrogenated oil used annually in foods needing a solid fat with palm oil, U.S. palm oil imports would triple. • Such an increase would require about 1,240 square miles of new oil palm Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest
Growing Deer Population Threatens Forests • The white-tailed deer was almost hunted to extinction 100 years ago on the East Coast. • Today there are an estimated 20 million white-tailed deer. • In 1990, Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia began study on impacts of deer on biodiversity
Deer and Biodiversity • The Smithsonian closed off about 10 acres behind an eight-foot tall wire fence- its a world without deer.
Deer and Biodiversity • Inside it is practically a jungle. Greater age structure. Many of them are young trees. • Source: NPR
Genetically Modified Forests • Planned replacement in the southeastern U.S. of native pine plantations with genetically engineered eucalyptus • Rapidly growing Australian tree Eucalyptus plantation, Uruguay Southeastern US pine plantation
Genetically Modified Forests • Controversial gene splice that restricts trees' ability to reproduce • If such a fertility control technology is proven effective, it could open the door to many varieties of wild plants to be genetically engineered • ArborGen has been seeking government deregulation of its eucalyptus, which is primarily engineered to resist freezing temperatures, since 2008. • Source: Scientific American
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • In 2007, South Korean scientists altered a cat’s DNA to make it glow in the dark and then took that DNA and cloned other cats from it — creating a set of fluffy, fluorescent felines. • What’s the point of creating a pet that doubles as a nightlight? Scientists say the ability to engineer animals with fluorescent proteins will enable them to artificially create animals with human genetic diseases.
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • The Enviropig, or “Frankenswine,” as critics call it, is a pig that’s been genetically altered to better digest and process phosphorus. • So scientists added an E. Coli bacteria and mouse DNA to a pig embryo. • This modification decreases a pig’s phosphorous output by as much as 70 percent — making the pig more environmentally friendly.
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • Pollution-fighting plants • Scientists at the University of Washington are engineering poplar trees that can clean up contamination sites by absorbing groundwater pollutants through their roots. • The plants then break the pollutants down into harmless byproducts that are incorporated into their roots, stems and leaves or released into the air.
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • Venomous cabbage • Scientists have recently taken the gene that programs poison in scorpion tails and looked for ways to combine it with cabbage. • Why would they want to create venomous cabbage?
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • AquaBounty’s genetically modified salmon grows twice as fast as the conventional variety — the photo shows two same-age salmon with the genetically altered one in the rear. • If the FDA approves the sale of the salmon, it will be the first time the government has allowed modified animals to be marketed for human consumption.
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • People may soon be getting vaccinated for diseases like hepatitis B and cholera by simply taking a bite of banana. • Researchers have successfully engineered bananas, potatoes, lettuce, carrots and tobacco to produce vaccines, but they say bananas are the ideal production and delivery vehicle.
Example of Bizarre Genetic Engineering • British scientists have created a breed of genetically modified hens that produce cancer-fighting medicines in their eggs. • The animals have had human genes added to their DNA so that human proteins are secreted into the whites of their eggs, along with complex medicinal proteins similar to drugs used to treat skin cancer and other diseases. • Source: Mother Earth News