Connect with us

Environment

Different Conclusions Reached On Safety Of Glyphosate

Published

on

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 Given that EFSA’s review of glyphosate relies almost entirely on industry funded, unpublished studies, to reach any other conclusion from the WHO would be unthinkable.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.

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

Published

on

self-driving cars for green environment
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

Continue Reading

Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

Published

on

Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending