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Different Conclusions Reached On Safety Of Glyphosate

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11 glyphosae herbicide by Scott Nelson via Flikr

Different conclusions were reached last year by the WHO’s IARC and EFSA regarding the safety of glyphosate. Given that EFSA’s review of glyphosate relies almost entirely on industry funded, unpublished studies, to reach any other conclusion from the WHO would be unthinkable.

The reason that other eminent international scientists advising the WHO have already come to different conclusions is, as the EFSA themselves admit, purely because the other scientists are considering a much wider range of evidence than just industry studies, and they are looking at the impacts of glyphosate as it is actually used. Although glyphosate is always used in combination with a range of other often toxic chemicals, and although researchers have found that glyphosate mixes as sold to farmers and gardeners can be 1000 times more toxic than glyphosate acting on its own, EFSA insists on looking at the impact of glyphosate alone. It is blindingly obvious that the WHO approach is right from the perspective of public safety, and that the EFSA approach simply serves the interests of the pesticide companies.

The arguments about glyphosate have shone a harsh light on the secrecy surrounding pesticide regulation, from the three top-secret studies by pesticide companies, which the regulators have used to claim it is safe (but which they refuse to the public), to the scientists who insist their identities must remain secret as they take decisions on pesticides that affect the lives of millions of people.

The EFSA’s decision were as follows:

  • EFSA – European Food Safety Authority
  • The report concludes: “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and proposes a new safety measure that will tighten the control of glyphosate residues in food”
  • Carried out a risk assessment & peer review
  • Risk assessment was carried out by Germany’s Federal Risk Assessment Institute (BfR)
  • Peer review group is made up of EFSA scientists and representatives nominated by EU Member States, they are all anonymous.
  • The scientists are independent experts with a three year mandate
  • The first part of the review assesses the use of glyphosate as a herbicide and for foliar spraying for desiccation in cereals
  • The second part of the review considers the findings from the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) and finds that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans
  • The EU assessment only looks at the active ingredient glyphosate
  • The EU leaves the assessment of each marketed mixture to national governments/regulators
  • There were five industry-sponsored studies into the carcinogenicity of glyphosate on mice used in the EFSA decision, three of which have been dubbed ‘the mysterious three’ as they are not publicaly available (or available to the IARC) – two were identified or leaked, and non-EFSA scientists who have read then say they do not support EFSA’s case.

The World Health Organisation’s IARC decision:

  • IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer (under the WHO)
  • Declares glyphosate is a category 2A ‘probable human carcinogen’
  • This was found as part of a review into the carcinogenicity of five chemicals (as well as organophosphates tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion and diazinon)
  • Review was published in the Lancet Oncology
  • The IARC report looked at both glyphosate and glyphosate-based formulations
  • IARC assesses generic agents, including groups of related chemicals, as well as occupational or environmental exposure, and cultural or behavioural practices.
  • IARC assessed studies which were absent from the EU assessment (however these were added later according to EFSA’s website)
  • Looks at the impacts of glyphosate alone, and as it is used in mixtures

November 2015 – 96 prominent scientists from 25 countries to voice strong opposition to the EFSA report.

Environment

How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener

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green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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