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Ecological News

Irrespective of whether rains have been normal or deficient, farm incomes have remained frozen.

Ground Reality - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 07:50


                                                                  Pic Courtesy: NDTV
First, the good news. For the third consecutive year in a row monsoon is expected to be normal. With 97 per cent of the long-term average, the Indian Meteorological Department has predicted well-distributed rains in the summer months ahead.
But that’s not all. While we tend to believe the weathermen, and for obvious reasons, the fact remains that there is a 44 per cent probability of a below-normal rainfall. Even last year, the IMD had predicted 96 per cent of the long-term average but as many as 240 districts had gone dry, and were faced with drought-like conditions. At the same time, in some areas it not only rained but poured. Nearly 15 per cent of the country’s land had faced floods. According to Down to Earth magazine: “Last year, monsoon has actually been anything but normal, with extremely heavy rain for few hours compensating dry spell for weeks and months, indicating a huge disparity in temporal distribution.”
It is therefore best to keep your fingers crossed. Excess rainfall in some areas and deficit rains in another region does make up for the average assessment but it has been observed that rainfall averages have often turned out to be deceptive. Nevertheless, the next monsoon forecast is expected around May 15 and that will give a clearer picture about the onset of the rains and its distribution for the months of June-July. But the prediction of a normal monsoon certainly provides the much needed feel good factor for economy.
Timely sowing and timely harvesting is what farmers look up to. This year, the prediction is that the rains will remain quite widespread during the entire season, especially in the months of June and September. Although, in July and August when most sowing operations for the summer crops take place, rains are expected to be a little less comparatively but still the prediction is that these will be closer to the normal. If the rains get delayed during July-August it means the sowing too gets delayed. The more the delay in sowing the crop, the higher is the probability of fall in production.
Considering that 60 per cent of the net-sown area is dependent on rains, the predictions of a normal rainy season certainly brings cheers. This will bring in much needed respite for the 240 districts (of the 640 districts) that faced drought last year. Some of the worst affected regions were in Bundelkhand, Jharkhand and in parts of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana where the dry spell had continued for several years in a row. Water shortage was so acute that in some parts of Chhattisgarh and Gujarat farmers were asked not to cultivate paddy. The north western mountain zone comprising Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir as well as Uttarakhand too had received scanty rains. 
If agriculture does well, it has a domino effect on the overall economy. Expectation of a good foodgrain output keeps food inflation under control. It enhances the availability of drinking water as well as for irrigation by keeping the groundwater recharged, and keeping the 81 major reservoirs filled to the brink. At the same time, higher agricultural growth props up the rural economy thereby increasing the sale of consumer products thereby boosting the manufacturing and industrial output. In an election year, a good monsoon therefore plays a very significant role in propping up the general sentiment in favour of the ruling party.
That there is a positive correlation between rainfall, food production and economic growth is well known. During the two consecutive years of drought – 2014-15 and 2015-16 – food grain production declined, and so did the agricultural growth rate. It came down to minus 0.8 per cent for 2014-15 and minus 0.1 per cent in 2015-16. Once the monsoon rains became normal in 2016-17, agricultural growth bounced to 6.8 per cent. This year, with an expected record foodgrain production of 277.49 million tonnes, agricultural growth is expected at 3 per cent. 
But despite a bountiful monsoon for two years in a row and a record production that followed, farmers were at the receiving end. Prices of farm products crashed across board, ruling 15 to 40 per cent below the Minimum Support Price (MSP). There have been innumerable incidents of dumping of agricultural commodities like tomato, potato and onion on the streets. At many a places farmers had fed the ripened crop to cattle. Prices of almost all other crops – cotton, soybean, mustard, pulses, sunflower, millets, and even wheat and rice had remained low. Surplus production did not automatically translate into higher prices for farmers.
The prediction of a normal monsoon for the third year in a row therefore is no guarantee that it will stabilise farm incomes. Considering that the real income of farmers for the five years ending 2015-16 had remained almost frozen, with an average increase of barely 0.44 per cent every year, I don’t expect any quantum jump in farm incomes. In fact, several studies show that irrespective of whether rains have been normal or deficient, real farm incomes have remained frozen for at least three decades now.
This is primarily because to keep food inflation low the entire burden has been conveniently passed on to farmers. Agriculture is being deliberately kept impoverished. The challenge for the policy makers therefore is to stop hiding behind the normal monsoon predictions but take appropriate steps urgently to enhance farm incomes. It is time to move away from ‘price policy’ to ‘income policy’ for farmers. Good rains or deficit monsoon, what the farmers need is an assured income package every month. They can’t be left at the mercy of rain gods any more. #  
Categories: Ecological News

‘Zombie Deer’ Apocalypse: Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease Exploding Across U.S., New Data Reveals

Environews.tv - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 19:44

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/041718-zombie-deer-apocalypse-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-exploding-across-u-s-new-data-reveals/"; reddit_title = "‘Zombie Deer’ Apocalypse: Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease Exploding Across U.S., New Data Reveals"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — From Alaska to Florida, states are bracing for the spread of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, an incurable and inevitably fatal malady that afflicts deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It is now found in 25 states, two provinces in Canada, as well as Norway, Finland, and South Korea.

Testing of animals killed during the most recent hunting season, from fall 2017 to early winter 2018, showed CWD appearing in places it’s never been seen before. Two mule deer killed in two different locations in Montana in October 2017 tested positive for CWD, representing the first time the disease has been detected in the wild there. On January 25, 2018, a white-tailed deer found dead in Mississippi tested positive, marking the first case in that state.

It’s a disease that “continues its slow, methodical progression,” Matt Dunfee, Project Coordinator at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, told EnviroNews during an in-depth interview. “Managing this disease is incredibly difficult.”

Neither bacteria nor virus are responsible for chronic wasting disease. Often called the “zombie deer disease” for its effect on the animals’ motor skills, it is caused by abnormal, misfolded proteins called prions (pronounced: pronounced: \ˈprī-än\, or pree-on). CWD primarily affects brain and spinal tissue, leading to a long, slow, neural degeneration. Infected animals also lose weight and may act strangely.

Chronic wasting disease is part of a class of illnesses known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), the most notorious of which is mad cow disease. To date, no humans are known to have contracted illness related to CWD, but recent research reported by EnviroNews shows that it is possible.

Deer With Chronic Wasting Disease

The spread of CWD worries wildlife managers, hunters and conservationists alike. Immediately after finding infected deer last fall, Montana established two special deer hunts to test additional animals.

“The reason for those special hunts [was] solely to determine the prevalence of disease in the herds,” said John Vore, Game Management Bureau Chief with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Eight additional animals near Bridger tested positive, but results are still coming in.

The sudden appearance of the disease in Montana prompted neighboring states Oregon and Washington, which are still officially CWD-free, to prohibit bringing animals or animal parts from the Big Sky state. It also led to a brouhaha with Wyoming — a state which has lost 19 percent of its mule deer in one herd, while suffering a 10 percent annual decline from 2003 to 2010 of a white-tailed deer herd to CWD.

Wyoming CWD Map

Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission asked Wyoming to stop feeding elk in the wintertime. In a December 7, 2017 letter to his counterpart at the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, Chairman Dan Vermillion wrote, “As westerners, we all intimately understand that feeding wildlife is a mistake and ultimately harms the very wildlife we all cherish.” Vore said the letter has prompted conversations in both states. He added, “Anytime where you artificially congregate animals like that it’s just a breeding ground for not only CWD but all kinds of diseases.”

Wyoming began elk feeding unusually early last year, and the state resumed wolf hunting after the Trump Administration removed the species from protection under the Endangered Species Act on April 25, 2017. Despite the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission’s own 2016 presentation that reads, “Modeling suggests selective wolf predation may decrease CWD prevalence,” the state allowed the killing of 76 wolves out of a population of only 380.

Michigan found itself with so many deer heads to test during the 2017 hunting season that they were lined up on a laboratory floor like a spooky animal factory waiting for bodies. As the disease spread north in the state, test results were delayed due to a nationwide shortage of CWD testing kits.

In Wisconsin, another hotspot for chronic wasting disease, testing declined from 30,271 animals in 2006 to just 9,685 in 2017 – even though the number of infected deer has risen, with positives jumping from 205 to 593 during this period. Local journalist Ron Seely told Wisconsin Public Television, “The [Department of Natural Resources] isn’t collecting enough data in a scientific way.” Meanwhile, CWD has just spread to Milwaukee County, home to almost one million people.

Testing Deer for Chronic Wasting

2017 saw the spread of chronic wasting disease in many states. Positive tests for CWD in Pennsylvania deer doubled while Lancaster County saw its first recorded infection. In Arkansas, 70 new cases of CWD were found and the disease spread to three new counties. The first case of CWD in southern Iowa was confirmed, while Nebraska found chronic wasting disease in five new counties. In South Dakota’s Wind Cave National Park, a 2017 research study found 24 percent of deer in the eastern area of the park are infected, while six percent in the western section are carriers.

Unfortunately, it’s not only the U.S. that is experiencing an increase in CWD. In Saskatchewan, Canada, testing found at least one area where 43 percent of the herd was afflicted with CWD. A 15-year old moose was found dead of chronic wasting disease in Finland, the first-ever case in that country.

The disease spreads among animals, both captive and wild, as prions are shed through feces, saliva, urine or blood. These prions can persist in the environment for very long periods of time, where healthy animals can pick up the disease from plants or soil. Studies have shown that CWD prions remain infectious in pastures for at least two years, while prions from scrapie, a related prion disease affecting sheep, remain active up to 16 years.

“The natural environment is a reservoir for prions that cause chronic wasting disease,” states a new study published December 22, 2017, in Scientific Reports. Researchers from the University of Illinois found a connection between the clay content of soil and its ability to hold onto and immobilize CWD prions. Soil acidity was also a factor. Where the soil is less than 18 percent clay and pH is greater than 6.6, the disease spreads more readily. A pH value of 7 is neutral; values below that indicate acidity, and levels above 7 are considered alkaline. The data could prove valuable to wildlife managers in the future.

The relentless spread of CWD has recently garnered the attention of federal legislators. A bipartisan bill, H.R. 4454, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), would authorize $35 million for the implementation of CWD management strategies by state and tribal wildlife and agriculture agencies. A similar Senate bill, S.2252, introduced by Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D), would allocate $60 million.

“In Montana, hunting is a part of our way of life because it helps provide our families with food, manage our wildlife, and sustain rural economies,” Tester said in a statement. “It is critically important that we stop the spread of chronic wasting disease before it diminishes our big-game herds and undercuts our outdoor economy.”

Vore told EnviroNews that additional resources “would help Montana a lot” but added that he is concerned about the long term. Right now, he said that CWD is top-of-mind in the state, with residents and hunters understanding the threat, but he’s seen other states where people lose interest after a time. “We need to keep CWD management on people’s minds.”

Chronic wasting disease “presents greater challenges than anything we’ve ever seen,” said Darrel Rowledge, Director of the Alliance for Public Wildlife. It’s an issue that goes beyond the hunting and wildlife community. It has the potential to infect humans and there are emerging concerns about its potential impact on agriculture.

With chronic wasting disease moving relentlessly across state lines, even areas far from current infections may not be safe. The nearest infected area to Alaska is in Alberta, Canada, but the state’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Bob Gerlach, is sounding the alarm. And with Mississippi now showing CWD-infected deer, Florida is warning hunters to be on the lookout.

Dunfee, who is a conservation biologist and a hunter, sees the growing involvement of organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, which supports Tester’s bill, as good news for improved public awareness and political action. “I’m passionate about our wildlife resources, and I want to see better, more science-based management techniques for CWD.”

OTHER REPORTS ON PRION DISEASE BY ENVIRONEWS:

HEALTH ADVISORY: Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe to Eat – Study: Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease Could be Moving to Humans

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Alberta, Canada – Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.” Chronic wasting disease is an…

Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk

(EnviroNews Colorado) – A Colorado State University scientist is investigating the role wild horses may play in slowing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a 100 percent fatal and contagious brain-destroying infection, ravaging the country’s deer and elk herds. The findings take on increased significance considering recent…

Invasion of the Zombie Elk – Chronic Wasting Disease Spreading Fast, Nearing Yellowstone Herds

(EnviroNews Nature) – In the late 1980s, farmers in Great Britain started to notice their cows stumbling around, acting strangely and losing weight. The problem got continually worse, until in 1993, more than 36,000 cattle in the UK died in a single year from mad cow disease. Prior…

PRION BOMBS! – Physicians Group Says Stericycle Undoubtedly Releasing Deadly Prions and Radiation

(EnviroNews Utah) – PRION: a word that many have never even heard before, but little do they know that this deadly and virulent “pest” may be lurking right on their dinner plate, or inside their cute little pets Fluffy and Rover, or even right in dear ol’ Gramma’s…

Dr. Tyler Yeates MD Calls Out Stericycle For Incinerating Deadly Brain-Attacking Prions Into the Environment – Stericycle Owns Up to it

(EnviroNews Utah) – North Salt Lake City – In a shocking admission Thursday night at a heated town hall meeting, a VP from Stericycle has admitted that the company is allowed to accept and burn deadly and arguably indestructible brain-destroying prions at its North Salt Lake incineration facility…

Dr. Brian Moench of UPHE Discusses the Potentially Deadly Burning of Prions by Stericycle Medical Incinerator

(EnviroNews Utah) – Following Stericycle’s simply flabbergasting admission last Thursday night where they acknowledged that they are allowed to accept and burn deadly and largely indestructible prions, protestors took to the streets outside one of the country’s last standing hazardous medical waste incineration plants. Prions are the malformed…

Amy Uchida, 4th Year Medical Student at the U of U, is Asked About Stericycle’s Incineration of Deadly Prions

(EnviroNews Utah) – According to documents on the Department of Environmental Quality website, Stericycle’s permit needs to be renewed by August 19, 2013. The company’s current permit expires on Feb. 19, 2014. Regg Olsen is listed as the contact at the Department of Air Quality (DAQ) in charge…

The post ‘Zombie Deer’ Apocalypse: Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease Exploding Across U.S., New Data Reveals appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Big Win for ‘El Lobo’: Fed. Court Strikes Down ‘Egregious’ Management Rule For Mexican Wolves

Environews.tv - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 21:38

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/040418-big-win-el-lobo-fed-court-strikes-egregious-management-rule-mexican-wolves/"; reddit_title = "Big Win for ‘El Lobo’: Fed. Court Strikes Down ‘Egregious’ Management Rule For Mexican Wolves"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Nature) — In a win for nature fans, the United States District Court in Arizona struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service/USFWS) management rule for the endangered Mexican grey wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), finding that it “provides only for short-term survival of the species and fails to further the long-term recovery of the Mexican wolf in the wild.”

The litigation was filed by a coalition of conservation organizations including the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Environmental Law Center, WildEarth Guardians, New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and Friends of Animals. The suit took aim at a 2015 rule, which decided the fate of the Blue Range Pack in eastern Arizona — the only wild population of Mexican wolves in the U.S.

On April 2, the Court ruled, in making its determinations, the Service ignored the “best available information” for preserving the long-term survival of the species. Specifically, the Court called the agency’s allowance for a single population of 300-325 animals to be “arbitrary and capricious,” saying the agency ignored studies showing the Blue Range Pack is of poor genetic diversity and too far from other packs in Mexico to successfully propagate.

Furthermore, the Court found that the Service’s decision to allow agency personnel to kill wolves for management objectives didn’t contain “adequate protection” for the species.

“Mexican wolves have struggled for almost a century, largely because of human efforts to eradicate the species,” said Judy Calman, staff attorney for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. “These embattled, iconic animals shouldn’t also have to struggle against the very agency tasked with saving them, and we’re extremely pleased that the court agrees.”

The Court said the Service chose not to take the best science into account when it crafted the rule, and explained this was central in its ruling, stating in its opinion that the USFWS “misapplied and misinterpreted [scientific] findings in such a manner that the recovery of the species is compromised.”

Part of what the Court saw as an “egregious oversight” involved the Service using findings from 1998 instead of more recent science better representing the Mexican wolf’s current plight.

“This is not a case in which the agency was required to choose between conflicting scientific evidence,” United States District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps wrote. “On the contrary, the best available science consistently shows that recovery requires consideration of long-term impacts, particularly the subspecies’ genetic health.”

“Unfortunately, politics supplants wildlife biology in key parts of the Service’s Mexican wolf reintroduction rule,” said Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center. “It’s amazing we had to go to court to prove that population caps, more killing, and less territory harms Mexican wolves, but the court made the right decision today.”

The 2015 rule will remain in place until the Service drafts a new one. The 2017 Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, currently being litigated, was built partially on assumptions from the 2015 rule. It now seems possible that Monday’s ruling could factor into that lawsuit as well.

OTHER GREAT STORIES FEATURING ‘EL LOBO’ FROM ENVIRONEWS

Breaking News: Wildlife Orgs Sue Trump Admin for Failing to Protect ‘El Lobo,’ the Mexican Wolf

(EnviroNews Nature) – Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis…

Governments in CO/UT/NM/AZ Deliberately Derailed Mexican Wolf Recovery, Documents Reveal (Investigative Report)

(EnviroNews Colorado) – After decades of deliberation the final revision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan (the Plan) was released at the end of November, but former USFWS officials tell EnviroNews it strays far from scientists’ minimum recommendations for recovery of the…

Victory for Mexican Gray Wolves: Court Stops Injunction, Allows Releases from Captivity to Proceed

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) can continue to release Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) from captivity into the wild after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction halting the program on April 25, 2017, which conservationists say…

OTHER GREAT STORIES ABOUT WOLVES FROM ENVIRONEWS

Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

These Species Should Be ‘Endangered’ But Aren’t Due to Political Horse Trading, Report Reveals

(EnviroNews Colorado) – Special-interest politics – not sound science – decides the fate of species on the brink of extinction in the U.S., according to a new expose’ from the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, Suppressed: How Politics Drowned Out Science for Ten Endangered Species (Suppressed), profiles ten…

It’s Done: Trump Signs HJR 69 into Law Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On April 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69) into law. The legislation rescinds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2016 Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule). The Refuge Rule was enacted to protect native…

Bill Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups, Sails Through Senate to Trump’s Desk

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On March 21, 2017, in a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69), a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule), which has been in…

Center for Biological Diversity Sues Trump for Signing HJR 69 Allowing Slaughter of Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews USA Headline News) – Washington D.C. – The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 20, 2017, against the U.S. Department of Interior (Interior) and Secretary Ryan Zinke, after President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution…

Shocking Video Shows the Guts of HJR 69: Trump’s Alaskan Bear Cub/Wolf Pup Killing Bill

(EnviroNews Nature) – Playground, a news and media site, has produced a graphic video showing shocking hunting practices that are now legal in Alaska’s wildlife refuges. These methods, which have been called “scientifically indefensible” and “unsportsmanlike” by defenders of animal rights, include hunting bears from aircraft, killing bear…

Elk Hunting Group Wants to Expand Wolf-Killing Derby into Montana: $1,000 Bounty per Wolf

(EnviroNews Montana) – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which has funded wolf-killing derbies in Idaho to the tune of $150,000 since 2013, is now seeking to expand its $1,000-per-kill bounty program to the neighboring state of Montana. RMEF provides funds to the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM),…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Idaho Wolf-Killing Contest Killed for One More Year – Kind of…

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Facing a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has revoked a permit allowing for a “predator derby” to take place on approximately three million acres of public lands in north-central Idaho near the town of Salmon. The derby originally called for…

California the First to Ban Predator Prizes While Idaho Forges Ahead With Wolf-Killing Derby

(EnviroNews California) – Van Nuys, CA – Will not allowing prizes for California wildlife hunting derbies deter such events from taking place? Groups like Project Coyote certainly think so. On December 3, with a 4 to 1 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission passed a motion prohibiting…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

The post Big Win for ‘El Lobo’: Fed. Court Strikes Down ‘Egregious’ Management Rule For Mexican Wolves appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

A paradigm shift is needed in economic thinking if agriculture has to be saved.

Ground Reality - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 18:23


If a bountiful harvest is left for cattle to feed on, imagine the plight of the farmer who grew the crop.  
It is official. For almost a decade now, farmer’s real income stands frozen. Yes, you heard it right, frozen. A Niti Aayog paper has worked out that the real income of a cultivator has increased barely by 0.44 per cent every year over a five year period leading to 2015-16. In other words, farm incomes have stagnated.
This was followed by the severe blow inflicted by demonetisation in 2016. The pressure to sell their produce at whatever price they are able to get resulted in an unprecedented crash in farm prices, forcing farmers to throw their produce onto the streets across the country. Tomato, potato and onions have been the worst hit. The impact is still lingering. For instance, an analysis published recently by Agrowonshowed that by invariably buying at a distress price, Maharashtra farmers have been short changed to the tune of Rs 2,579-crore alone for pulses, and Rs 769-crore for oilseeds, this season.
The story is same everywhere. Just to illustrate, an interesting estimate done by Swaraj Abhiyan shows that farmers are likely to incur a loss of Rs 325-crore in the case of barley. The modal price is ruling at 15 per cent less than the procurement price of Rs 1,410 per quintal. For chana, it has shown a dramatic fall of 30 to 38 per cent in the market prices in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Gujarat when compared with the prices farmers received a year ago. For mustard, farmers have been protesting seeking lifting of the entire stocks arriving in the mandis. The situation in ENAM markets is no different. In fact, despite the fanfare the fact remains that none of the proposed 585 eNAM mandis have been able to buy from farmers at the MSP. The modal price that is being provided in the eNAM markets, which is based on the average price recorded in a day’s trading, is in reality a distress price.
It certainly has been a bitter harvest.
The terrible agrarian crisis that prevails has brought farmer’s anger to the fore. Over the year, farmers’ anger has spilled to the streets. Between 2014 and 2016, a period of two years, farmers protests across the country increased by a whopping 680 per cent. In 2016, the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) recorded 4,837 protests, roughly 14 protests a day. Since then the number and intensity of farmers’ protests have only multiplied.
Unless the agrarian crisis is able to sway the electoral outcomes I don’t think the political leadership will ever understand the severity of the socio-economic fallout. The dominant economic thinking is that agriculture has to be sacrificed to achieve economic growth. Agriculture therefore is being deliberately kept impoverished to keep the reforms viable. Former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has time and again iterated that the biggest reform would be when a sizeable percentage of population in agriculture is moved to the cities which are in need of cheaper labour. This is what the World Bank had directed way back in 1996, seeking 400 million people to be moved out of the rural areas in the next twenty years, by 2015. Successive governments have merely followed the economic design. Left, Right or Centre, the underlying economic thinking remains the same. Keeping agriculture starved of public sector investments, and turning farming into an uneconomical enterprise was (and is still) considered to be the best way to push farmers out of agriculture.
In such depressing times, agriculture needs to be reinvented. It needs more than a booster dose. It needs a paradigm shift in economic thinking if agriculture has to be saved. Considering that employment in the cities has been shrinking over the years, the only alternative we have is to reinvent agriculture. Let me explain. Since 2004-04, despite the high GDP growth rate, against the requirement of 1.25- crore jobs a year, only a fraction of jobs in the labour intensive industry have been created. In other words, against the expectation of 17.5-crore jobs, only 1.6-crore new jobs have come. Forcing people out of agriculture therefore does not make any economic sense. Since the job market has dried up, common sense tells us that the challenge should be to make farming economically viable and ecologically sustainable. With 52 per cent population dependent on agriculture, almost 60-crore people, the emphasis should be on providing gainful employment in rural areas. This can only happen if the economic thinking shifts from creating an army of dehari mazdoor in the cities to rebuilding farming.
Land is the only economic security the poor have. Divesting the poor of their meagre land assets is certainly not good economics but has been legalised now because of the growing focus on farm land grab across the globe. In India, a majority of the farmers now are landless tenant workers. If only they were given small pieces of land, the economic fallout would be enormous. I don’t understand the logic of giving big business huge tracts of land at almost a throwaway price of Re 1 per square mts. If only such vast tracts of land were made available to millions of landless farm workers at Re 1 per square mts, the entire face of rural India will undergo a transformation beyond recognition. That is the first step required to rebuild farming. It has to be accompanied by a farm income policy that assures a minimum living package every month.
It’s a question of priorities. The 7th Pay Commission is expected to benefit 45-lakh central government employees and 50-lakh pensioners. Finance Minister says it will cost an additional Rs 1.02-lakh crore every year. But when implemented by State governments, PSUs and colleges across the country, Credit Suisse bank tells us that the additional burden will be around Rs 4.5-lakh crore. This will benefit an estimated 1 to 2 per cent of the population, the salaried class. Surprisingly, no economist has ever asked where the money will come from nor has anyone raised the question of widening fiscal deficit. In fact, the industry calls it a booster dose since the additional money into the hands of employees is expected to create more demand.
But talk of providing a profitable price to farmers; economists are quick to raise eyebrows. Although, only 6 per cent farmers get the benefit of MSP, some studies point that if the MSP regime is properly implemented it will entail an additional expenditure of Rs 45,000-crore every year. Where will the money come from is what the economists are asking. Nobody asked where will the Rs 4.5-lakh crore for 7th Pay Commission will come from. That’s how an inequitable and unjust economic system has been designed.
Imagine the demand that will be created from the rural areas if agriculture is to receive even an annual additional budgetary provision of Rs 4-lakh crore.  Although economists will raise heckles of widening fiscal deficit and the elite is going to question the source of money, the fact remains that the huge demand created in the rural areas will propel the economy in a rocket dose. This is not only good politics, but also good economics. #

Redressal of farmers woes need new economic thinking. National Herald. April 1, 2018
http://epaper.nationalheraldindia.com/textview_458_3308196_4_1_8_01-04-2018_71_0.html
Categories: Ecological News

Wyoming Schedules Wild Bison Hunt So a Grand Total of Three Animals Can Be Culled

Environews.tv - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 17:15

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/033018-wyoming-schedules-wild-bison-hunt-grand-total-three-animals-can-culled/"; reddit_title = "Wyoming Schedules Wild Bison Hunt So a Grand Total of Three Animals Can Be Culled"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGF) has sanctioned an upcoming bison hunt on the North Fork because the area’s population has skyrocketed to a whopping 18 animals. There will be two tags available for resident hunters and one tag for non-residents, making a grand total of three animals to be culled. The state’s preferred number of bison for the area is 15.

“The second Wyoming has just a few animals over their ‘goal,’ they start killing,” said Bethany Cotton, Wildlife Program Director at WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), in an email to EnviroNews.

The bison season will run from September 1 to November 1, 2018. Many residents in the North Fork area do not like the buffalo because they can destroy fences and be a road hazard.

At a meeting at Big Horn Federal Savings Bank on March 24, WGF biologist Tony Mong from Cody Region, said when a vehicle hits a 1500-pound bison, “it’s a mess.” The buffalo on the North Fork are older males “who got tired of the fast pace of living in Yellowstone.” According to Mong, “they’re older bulls kind of living on their own.” This will be the first time “in recent memory” people will be able to hunt bison in the North Fork.

Ranchers also fear the bison carry disease that may be contagious to their cattle. As EnviroNews reported earlier this year, there are no documented cases of brucellosis being transmitted from bison to cattle in the wild.

Wyoming has also announced grizzly bear hunts for 2018 — the first such hunt in over 40 years. Hunters will be allowed to kill 10 male and 2 female grizzlies in the tri-state Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) in the Yellowstone region, and an additional 12 grizzlies outside that area. The Cowboy State will allow the hunting of grey wolves again this year too. Idaho, another state in the DMA, is currently considering opening hunting season for just one male grizzly bear.

The American bison (bison bison) is the state mammal for Wyoming and the U.S. National mammal. Tens of millions of bison once roamed the American prairies. Now, they are only found in the wild in a few places with about 5,000 specimens spanning two different herds in the Yellowstone area.

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The post Wyoming Schedules Wild Bison Hunt So a Grand Total of Three Animals Can Be Culled appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Idaho to Open Grizzly Hunting Season So Yokels Can Kill One Male Bear in Name of ‘Management’

Environews.tv - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 17:38

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/032918-idaho-open-grizzly-hunting-season-yokels-can-kill-one-male-bear-name-management/"; reddit_title = "Idaho to Open Grizzly Hunting Season So Yokels Can Kill One Male Bear in Name of ‘Management’"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Idaho) — Boise, Idaho — On March 22, 2018, Idaho’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to direct the Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) to collect comments on a proposed grizzly bear hunting season. Idaho would allow all hunters together to shoot a grand total of one (1) male grizzly bear (yes, you did read that right), but plans to make grizzly season official are moving forward nonetheless.

Where and when people will be able to comment on the proposed hunting season has yet to be announced. Once comments are received, the IDFG is expected to use them in formulating a hunting plan for the Commission to consider.

“Idaho’s plan to open a grizzly bear hunting season is extremely reckless and dangerous,” Kelly Nokes, a staff attorney with WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), told EnviroNews. “Aside from the fact that Idaho will almost certainly violate its prior commitments under the delisting rule by opening an entire trophy hunting season for only one male grizzly bear, the State is blatantly disregarding the important role its remote wild landscapes play in fostering necessary connectivity amongst isolated grizzly bear populations.”

This hunt, and the one scheduled in Wyoming, would be the first such events in the lower-48 states since 1975 when grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) were protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last year, on the recommendation of the Obama Administration in 2016, the grizzly was removed from the list of protected animals, allowing states to manage the populations themselves.

“It’s disappointing that another state is moving in the direction of hunting grizzly bears,” Andrea Santarsiere, Senior Attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity (the Center), told the AP. She also questioned the ability of hunters in Idaho to hunt just one male bear and not shoot any females.

The Center is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by wildlife advocates and Native Americans in an effort to restore protections for grizzlies under the ESA. According to The Missoulan, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula has “denied the federal government’s request to delay proceedings in six lawsuits” and “rejected requests by three different [environmental] groups to decide the case based on technicalities” in an effort to speed up the judicial process before the Idaho and Wyoming hunting seasons start. Judge Christensen has asked that arguments be reduced to a single set of briefs for a hearing in August.

“I don’t think we always make our best decisions, our best briefs or our best arguments in the context of emergency injunctive relief motions,” U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen said in Missoula on March 13, 2018. “It’s not efficient to deal with issues of this importance in the context of restraining orders.”

Using a formula based on a state’s terrain in the Demographic Monitoring Area (DMA) around Yellowstone National Park, and the mortality rates of grizzly bears, Montana, which is not looking to open a grizzly hunting season could allow six males to be killed, while Wyoming has opened up the opportunity to shoot 24 grizzlies (10 male bears and 2 females within the DMA and 12 outside the DMA). Toby Boudreau, Assistant Wildlife Chief for the IDFG, said Idaho wasn’t looking at hunting in the area outside the DMA this year. About 700 grizzlies live in Yellowstone and the DMA.

Boudreau also told the AP most hunters would prefer to hunt male bears, but the inadvertent killing of a female bear in the DMA would be subtracted from next year’s planned hunts in Wyoming and Idaho. Multiple killings may lead to the end of hunting seasons altogether.

“This irresponsible hunt will all but prohibit grizzly bears from reclaiming key historic habitats, such as in the Bitterroot Ecosystem. Such careless action provides a concrete example of why federal protections are so critically important for this still struggling iconic species,” Nokes concluded to EnviroNews.

As a subspecies of the brown bear, the grizzly (Ursus arctos horribilis) is not considered threatened or endangered internationally because of the large numbers of bears in Alaska and other areas. According to National Geographic, grizzlies can live up to 25 years in the wild, reach about 8 feet (2.5 m) in length and weigh up to 800 pounds (363 kg).

The post Idaho to Open Grizzly Hunting Season So Yokels Can Kill One Male Bear in Name of ‘Management’ appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Know how hollow is your food.

Ground Reality - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 15:37


Breeding for high yield is inversely proportionate to its nutrition content 
-- Pic courtesy The Express Tribune
Ever heard of a traditional rice variety -- Mappilai Samba? Well, the demand for this rice variety, which is low in productivity, is growing exponentially. Ever heard of A2 milk? With some multinational dairy giants getting into its marketing, the demand for A2 milk too is growing all over the world.
Both the examples I mention above are actually linked to some particular traits that remain hidden in some varieties of food, mostly traditional. At a time when foods are becoming nutritionally inferior, devoid of minerals, vitamins and have also become tasteless, there is resurgence in the demand for foods that are healthy and carry medicinal traits.
"Some people are looking for brown rice varieties, some looking for traditional scented varieties, some farmers are keen on drought-resistant varieties, and most are now hooked on to Mappilai Samba rice variety which has medicinal properties that can enhance the libido," Sridhar from Save the Ricecampaign explained. Mappilai Samba is not the only rice variety which comes with medicinal properties. There are a large number of traditional rice cultivars which have medicinal properties.
Mappilai in Tamil means son-in-law. I hope you have already guessed why this particular rice cultivar has its name derived after son-in-law. Well, it’s a usual practice in some parts of Tamil Nadu to make available quite a sizeable quantity of Mappilai rice variety to the bridegroom's family once a marriage is fixed. As Sridhar said, it enhances the libido. People consider it as a Rice Viagra.Similarly, A2 is a particular character in some cow breeds that makes it milk qualitatively superior than what you have been generally drinking. What makes it more significant and relevant for us is that most desi cows and buffalo breeds contain A2 allele gene. In other words, milk of desi cattle breeds contains the A2 allele making it richer in nutrients and much healthier than the milk of exotic dairy cattle breeds. If you are regularly drinking A2 milk, the chances are that in the long term you will not have to suffer from allergies, diabetes, obesity and cardio-vascular diseases. The demand for A2 milk therefore is soaring.
Not many know that when the improved and high-yielding crop varieties of wheat and for that matter other crops were developed by agricultural scientists between 1950s and 1970s, there was an inversely proportionate decline in the availability of nutrients. Crop yield is directly proportionate to the loss in nutrient value. The higher the crop productivity, the steep is the decline in its nutritional value. The decline varies from 15 to 40 per cent on an average, with as high as 80 per cent slump in the availability of some minerals like copper in the case of wheat.
Before you shrug at what appears to be inconsequential fallout of a great improvement in science, let me explain. A shortfall in copper intake results in an elevated cholesterol levels. In simple words, it means the disappearance of traces of copper mineral from the modern wheat varieties that are being cultivated all over the world is in a way responsible for the higher levels of cholesterol. Several studies have shown that the decline in copper mineral perhaps is absolutely crucial, considering the rise in heart diseases as a consequence.
In the past seven decades, after the 2nd world War, of the 12 important nutrients that scientists studied, there has been a visible decline in six of them. In a study conducted by the Bio-Communications Research Institute at the Kansas University in the US, it has been conclusively established that in a period of 40 years – between 1950 and 1999 – the availability of at least 6 nutrients – Proteins, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorous, Riboflavin and Ascorbic Acid has significantly dropped. The decline varies from 6 per cent in case of proteins to 38 per cent for Riboflavin.
This makes me go back to my university days, when we were taught the high-yielding varieties (HYVs) that were being developed in the agricultural universities actually reduced the nutritional content in these varieties. I recall when I was a student in the mid-1970s we were told that this was a small price to be paid for feeding the nation. The challenge before agricultural scientists was to increase crop productivity.
In simple words, we knew that the more productive a plant is there is going to be a proportionate decline in nutrients, minerals and vitamins. But at that time the challenge was to increase production. In other words, the food in our food has simply disappeared. Some call it the ‘hollow’ food. But still, the tragedy is that not many nutritionists are aware of this.
It is the intensive farming system that the Green Revolution promoted that has actually sapped the nutrients from your food. Your food is not only tasteless but is also devoid of nutrients. Whether it is broccoli, asparagus or rice, the nutrient decline is clearly visible. You fill your belly, but your body remains deprived of the building elements. The National Institute of Nutrition has found that the protein in moong dal for instance has dropped by 6.12 per cent, and in masoor dal by 10.4 per cent. Similarly, carbohydrates in wheat have fallen by 9 per cent; availability of iron in apple has come down by 60 per cent, and in tomato by 66 per cent. 
You are what you eat. And what you eat certainly depends on the health of the plant, which in turn is dependent on the soil health. Healthy soil not only supports biodiversity – more bees, more earthworms, more birds – restricts run-off and erosion, and is also is also a storehouse for soil nutrients and carbon. The two-pronged strategy therefore should be based first on rebuilding soils. Considering that intensive farming under Green Revolution has already taken a heavy toll of the soil, my suggestion is to launch a Project Soil on the same lines as Project Tiger.
Secondly, call it pure food or safe food, the organic food movement has certainly brought healthy food devoid of harmful chemicals on the table. The more the demand for organic food, the more will be the shift from chemical to non-chemical farming practices. But it’s also high time now to move to the next step. Nutritionists must now shift focus to some of the unique and crucial medicinal properties that some traditional crop varieties contain. The emphasis must shift to creating new value chains – from farmer to your plate – by digging out the nutritional and medicinal strengths that remain hidden in the traditional crop varieties. #
क्या आपको पता है आपका भोजन खोखला है? Dainik Bhaskar, Mar 23, 2018https://www.bhaskar.com/news/ABH-LCL-devinder-sharma-article-in-bhaskar-5835890-PHO.html
Categories: Ecological News

Recap: Students, Activists, Rock Downtown Oakland at March for Our Lives (Raw Video Coverage)

Environews.tv - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 19:18
reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/032818-recap-students-activists-rock-downtown-oakland-at-march-for-our-lives-raw-video-coverage/"; reddit_title = "Recap: Students, Activists, Rock Downtown Oakland at March for Our Lives (Raw Video Coverage)"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews California) — Oakland, CA — Students, poets, singers and activists took to the podium on March 25, 2018, at the historic March for Our Lives demonstration in Oakland, California. The event was attended by over 3,000 people and was a vibrant part of what news agencies and research firms are classifying as one of the largest protests in the history of the United States.

The featured video in this story shows Ivan Garcia who turned out to represent the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission. He started off by calling by name, all 17 of the students gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.

“Oftentimes we fail to understand that these victims were just like us,” Garcia asserted. “They were young people who went to school every single day, just like us… They had to do their homework every night, just like us. They laughed, they cried and they had their own things that they were passionate about, just like us.”

“I don’t want my sister to grow up in a country that normalizes mass shootings — especially in schools,” Garcia continued, adding, “It is our duty to rise up when people in power do not.”

Also amongst the speakers was Sevan Apollo, a local poet who helped organize the event as well. He used his skills with words and letters to make a point: “To the ones who oppose us: Maybe there’s a reason why ‘AR-15’ backwards looks a lot like ‘NRA’ — but not today.”

Apollo continued:

Our safety is more important than your profits. There is no return on investment when it comes to human life. Our self worth is more important than your net worth. Our children’s lives are not for sale, so we’re no longer buying your agenda. We no longer can afford to.

“It’s amazing that people who love guns are surprised that we are now triggered,” Apollo declared. “So, let me hammer this point, because there is something that you need to know: The four chambers of our hearts is more powerful than the chambers in your guns!”

Apollo wasn’t the only poet taking the podium though. 15-year-old Samuel Getachew threw down the gauntlet as well, making one point crystal clear: “Black Lives Matter.” In few other places, could this phrase (and movement), strike more of a chord than in Northern California, where only days earlier the area had witnessed one of the most gruesome police attacks on an unarmed, innocent black man in recent memory. And Getachew made sure people, and the media, heard the name of that man one more time:

Last Sunday, Stophon Clark was shot 20 times by police officers while standing in his grandparents’ backyard in Sacramento. The police thought his cell phone was a gun. It is impossible to talk about guns in America without talking about the criminalization of black bodies.

“I thought a lot about the Second Amendment, and how it doesn’t seem to quite apply to everyone, and how a black man with a gun is a threat, but a white man with a gun is a patriot,” Getachew said. “And I find it fascinating how the right to bear arms comes second only to free speech, but is 11 amendments above outlawing slavery.”

The post Recap: Students, Activists, Rock Downtown Oakland at March for Our Lives (Raw Video Coverage) appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Farmers' suicides statistics point towards denial of income being the main causes

Ground Reality - Sun, 03/25/2018 - 12:01



Chart Courtesy: Business Standard

For the past two years, we have seen news reports and videos of distraught farmers throwing tomato, potato and onions onto the streets. Recently a video of an angry farmer ruthlessly destroying the cauliflower plants in his field has gone viral. We have seen videos of farmers dumping ripe tomatoes into the streams and on the highways.  That farmer’s are unable to recover even the harvesting and transportation cost in most cases is now a well established fact. The anger they express by throwing their produce under such deplorable circumstances is therefore understandable.
Farmers are being denied their rightful income. 
The latest set of farmer suicide statistics compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) that were recently presented in Parliament is a clear cut pointer to the fact that much of the agrarian distress is primarily because farmers are unable to realise a remunerative price for his produce. As against 12, 602 suicides recorded in 2015, the 2016 data puts the total fatalities at 11, 370, which includes suicides by landless farm workers. While the statistics have certainly been tailored to show a decline, the point which emerges very loudly is that the suicide rate has gone up in States which have a significantly higher percentage of cultivable area under irrigation.
Lets first look at how the data has been presumably been fine tuned to show lesser number of suicides. For Punjab, total suicides have been shown as 271. This is only a third of what three universities – Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana; Punjabi University, Patiala; and Guru Nanak Dev University at Amritsar have compiled after a house-to-house survey. Accordingly, 16,600 farmers and farm workers had taken their own lives in the 17 year period beginning the year 2000. In other words, the universities have officially reported an average of 1,000 farm suicides a year. But what the NCRB statistics have listed is a highly truncated figure of 271. I am sure researchers in other States would be able to provide many more such glaring discrepancies.   
Nevertheless, returning to the issue of growing income insecurity among farmers, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka, have shown a substantial hike in the suicide rate. This defies the general understanding that suicides are high in India because roughly 60 per cent of the crop lands do not have assured irrigation facilities. Any shortfall in monsoon rains therefore hits crop production leading to farm suicides. Agrarian distress is also often blamed on the lack of irrigation in central and peninsular India. While I agree that policy focus must shift to providing assured irrigation, there seems to be something else besides irrigation that somehow is not answered by shifting the blame for agrarian crisis to rainfed agriculture. That’s too simple.    
There are of course a number of reasons that have been cited time and again but essentially everything boils down to the failure of the markets to assure a profitable income. Take the case of the two predominantly agricultural States of Punjab and Haryana, comprising the food bowl. In Punjab, which has 98 per cent assured irrigation; the NCRB has recorded 271 farm suicides in 2016. This shows an increase of 112 per cent over the 2015 suicide toll of 124. In neighbouring Haryana, which has 82 per cent of the cultivable area provided with assured irrigation; the suicide rate has jumped by 54 per cent, from 162 in 2015 to 250 in 2016. Now what I don’t understand is if lack of irrigation is what fuels agrarian distress then how come Punjab and Haryana too have turned into hotspot of farmer suicides.
I often hear experts blame the low irrigation potential in Maharashtra to be primarily responsible for the agrarian crisis. Vidharba and Marathwada have in recent times emerged as the farm suicide capital of the country. But since only 18 per cent of Maharashtra’s agricultural lands have been provided with irrigation, it is easier for experts and economists to justify lack of irrigation as the primary reason for the spate of suicides. I have always stretched this inconceivable argument to make a comparison with Punjab. Every farm in Punjab is irrigated and yet the suicide rate has been climbing with every passing year
Along with lack of irrigation, another reason that is openly cited and largely agreed by Ministry of Agriculture, Niti Ayog and even the agricultural universities is that farmers are dying because of low crop productivity. Higher the crop productivity, higher is the net farm income goes the refrain. Again, I find this reasoning too does not hold true. Punjab has the highest crop productivity in the world among cereal crops – wheat, rice and maize – and yet there is hardly a day when I don’t find news report of two, three or four farmers committing suicide. Crop productivity is also very high in Haryana, often at the 2nd level after Punjab, and yet it seems farm suicides are increasing.
What therefore becomes crystal clear is that the problem is somewhere else and we are looking for solutions elsewhere. I am certainly in favour of bringing more area under irrigation as well as increasing crop productivity. But this must be accompanied by enhanced net income.  While I am aware that policy planning is aimed at ensuring that foodgrain production registers an increase, it is the failure to assure a profitable income into the hands of farmers that has actually accentuated the agrarian crisis. The Minimum Support Price (MSP) that the government announces for 23 agricultural commodities every year is worked out keeping the consumer prices in mind. More often not, the MSP is lower than the cost of production a farmer entails. No wonder, when a farmer’s undertakes cultivation, they don’t realise that they are actually cultivating losses.
Enhancing farm incomes has never been on the top of the economic agenda. Even when it comes to MSP, the fact remains that only 6 per cent farmers are able to sell at MSP. The remaining 94 per cent farmers are dependent on the exploitative markets. If after 70 years of Independence, the average income of a farm family in 17 States, which is roughly half the country, is Rs 20,000 a year as the Economic survey 2016 has shown, the primary cause of the terrible agrarian distress that prevails is before us. The 2016 NCRB data for farmer suicides has made this abundantly clear. #

आमदनी दोगुनी करने के वादों के बीच किसानों की आत्महत्या का सिलसिला जारी है, आंकड़े गवाह हैं... Gaon Connection, Mar 26, 2018. https://www.gaonconnection.com/desh/latest-report-on-farmer-suicide-data-by-ncrb-because-agricultural-crisis-msp
Categories: Ecological News

Farmer suicides: All over the world farmers are being kept impoverished to keep consumers happy

Ground Reality - Fri, 03/23/2018 - 11:20

Kiranjit Kaur, daughter of a farmer who committed suicide, speaks at a public forum in Chandigarh. 

“My name is Kiranjit Kaur. My father was a farmer. He committed suicide two years ago”
There was a hushed silence in the room.
Kiranjit, a young girl in her early twenties, was presenting her heart rending testimony before a small audience comprising politicians, economists, civil society leaders and farmers and farm women who had lost their son or father over the last few years, at an event organised by ‘Committee for Farmers and Families of Agrarian Suicide Victims’ at Chandigarh recently. With the State government officially admitting that 16,000 farmers and farm workers have ended their own lives since the year 2000, the frontline agricultural State of Punjab has now turned into a hotbed of farm suicides. There is hardly a day when I don’t find news reports of two, three or four farmers committing suicide not splashed in the daily newspapers.
While the testimonies were being presented, and tears rolled from the eyes of many participants, including experts, the common factor one could visualise was mounting indebtedness. But there is more to it than what meets the eye. Over the years, travelling across the country and meeting many families of farmers who had taken poison or hung themselves from a tree or rooftop, I have tried to look at the reasons that added to growing indebtedness. After all, it is a known fact that farming has been rendered uneconomical over the years, and farmers have been forced to draw more credit thereby pushing them into a vicious cycle of indebtedness. Credit pe credit, and then taking credit from another source to pay back the earlier credit has now become a norm.  
The first time I visited a farm victim’s family to understand the reasons behind the sudden spate of suicides was in 1987 when 37 farm suicides were reported from Warangal district in Andhra Pradesh. Across the country, from Bundelkhand to Vidharbha, from Karnataka to Punjab, I have tried to ascertain the reasons behind the suicide epidemic. If more than 3.18 lakh farmers have ended their own lives in the past 22 years as per the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) statistics, there must be a range of reasons that would have forced these farmers to die. That farmers are under stress whatever be the localised conditions, is a foregone conclusion. But peeling the layers one by one, I have come to the conclusion that invariably it boils down to the denial of a rightful income.
Farmers have been deliberately kept impoverished. They have been denied a profitable income, leaving them at the mercy of banks or the money lenders. If after 50 years of Green Revolution, the average income of a farming family in 17 States, which is roughly half the country, stands at a mere Rs 20,000 a year as per the Economic Survey 2016, there is something terribly going wrong with the way successive governments have treated agriculture. To keep food inflation under control, farmers are being deliberately paid low prices (Read my article: How the match is fixed against farmers http://www.catchnews.com/pov/total-recall-how-the-match-is-fixed-against-indian-farmers-1432731942.html). Therefore average farm incomes have remained more or less frozen over the years, with the annual rise in farm prices not evening matching the inflation rate.  
Now read another testimony from abroad. “We were growing food, but couldn’t afford to buy it. We worked 80 hours a week, but we couldn’t afford to see a dentist, let alone a therapist. I remember panic when a late freeze threatened our crop, the constant fights about money, the way light swept across the walls on the days I could not force myself to get out of bed.” The farmer who said this is not from India. Ginnie Peters is a US farmer, whose husband had committed suicide last year. Now this may startle you. If even in the US, where we hear of massive subsidies being doled out to farmers, how come some farmers are committing suicide? Well, the answer is simple. Nearly 80 per cent of the US farm subsidies go to the agribusiness companies and the rich farmers.  
Dr Michael Rosmann is a US farmer, who also is a psychologist. In an article in the journal Behavioral Healthcare, he wrote: “Farming has always been a stressful occupation because many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producers.” And like he said, the biggest factor is that the output prices are not in the control of farmers. To keep inflation low, the entire burden is very conveniently passed on to hapless farmers. The same article quotes Marguerite Metenier, a French farmer, whose husband shot himself in the face a year ago. She bemoans: “How can anyone want to be a farmer today? What is the point to being in debt all the time, and toiling for no reason? We are sacrificed so the consumer is always happy with low prices.”
Kiranjit is too young to understand the political economy of food. She may not realise that her father died not because farming was an unproductive profession, but because the consumers have to be kept happy with low prices. What she doesn’t realise is that every time a farmer undertakes crop cultivation, he invariably ends up cultivating losses. #
Killing Fields of Rural India. DNA. Mar 23, 2018http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-killing-fields-of-rural-india-2596584
Categories: Ecological News

93% of Bottled Water Tested in ‘Shocking’ Study Tainted With Microplastics — View List of Brands Accused

Environews.tv - Thu, 03/22/2018 - 23:33

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/032218-study-93-bottled-water-contaminated-microplastics-view-list-culprit-brands/"; reddit_title = "93% of Bottled Water Tested in ‘Shocking’ Study Tainted With Microplastics — View List of Brands Accused"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Countless millions of people purchase bottled water believing it’s healthier and safer to drink than tap water. In 2015, the average American consumed about 37 gallons of bottled water, according to bottledwater.org. But now, a new report out of the State University of New York at Fredonia, released in March 2018, found 93 percent of the bottled water it tested was contaminated with microplastics, leaving many consumers stunned.

“This is shocking,” Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program Erik Solheim told Orb Media (Orb). “Please name one human being on the entire planet who wants plastic in his or her bottle.”

Commissioned by the nonprofit journalism project Orb Media, researchers examined 259 bottles from 11 brands with 27 lots. According to the study, a lot is “an identification number assigned by a manufacturer to a particular production unit.” The bottles came from 19 locations in 9 different countries and included international brands: Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Nestlé Pure Life, and San Pellegrino; and national brands: Aqua (Indonesia), Bisleri (India), Epura (Mexico), Gerolsteiner (Germany), Minalba (Brazil), and Wahaha (China).

“I think [the contamination] is coming through the process of bottling the water. I think that most of the plastic that we are seeing is coming from the bottle itself. It is coming from the cap; it is coming from the industrial process of bottling the water,” lead researcher Sherri Mason told Agence France Press (AFP).

The study reports an “average of 10.4 microplastic particles >100 um per liter of bottled water,” which is “twice as much as [was measured in a] previous study on tap water.” That study was also commissioned by Orb. In response to the new study, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced it would review the risks of plastic in drinking water, which the organization says up to this point are still relatively unknown with regards to the microplastics found in bottled water.

“There are connections to increases in certain kinds of cancer, lower sperm [counts], [and] increases in conditions like ADHD and autism,” Mason told AFP. “We know that they are connected to these synthetic chemicals in the environment, and we know that plastics are providing kind of a means to get those chemicals into our bodies.”

Microplastics have also been found in beer, fish, and sea salt and no one knows at this point what happens to them in the body. However, a spokeswoman for the UK Food Standards Agency told The Independent it was unlikely the amount of microplastics found in the water would harm consumers. Still, people are concerned about bioaccumulation over time in people who drink bottled water regularly.

“There is no scientific consensus on testing methodology or the potential health impacts of microplastic particles. Therefore, this study’s findings do nothing more than unnecessarily scare consumers,” the International Bottled Water Association wrote in a press release. “Consumers can remain confident that bottled water products, like all food and beverages, are strictly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and, thus, are safe for consumption.”

The report has not been peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal yet, which leaves it open to criticism. Still, with recent studies by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showing 170 million homes in the U.S. are drinking water contaminated with radiation, while 250 million Americans are consuming Chromium 6 with their water, many people are wondering where to turn to get safe, pure H2O.

“We don’t even know all the chemicals in plastics,” Jane Muncke, Managing Director of the Food Packaging Forum, told Orb. “There’s so many unknowns here.” According to Muncke, the plastics could be getting lodged in bodily tissue.

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(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country’s leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its…

The post 93% of Bottled Water Tested in ‘Shocking’ Study Tainted With Microplastics — View List of Brands Accused appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests

Environews.tv - Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:37

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/031618-wy-legislature-passes-sneaky-end-session-alec-bill-criminalizing-enviro-pipeline-protests/"; reddit_title = "WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) — Cheyenne, Wyoming — EDITOR’S UPDATE: In a surprising move, It was announced that Governor Matt Mead has vetoed this controversial bill, and lawmakers were unable to gather the necessary votes to overturn the veto. The original story on SF0074 is below:

As the Wyoming legislative session came to a close on March 10, 2018, Senate File 0074 (SF0074), also called the “Critical Infrastructure Bill,” sponsored by State Senator Leland Christensen (R — Teton County), passed the Wyoming House with a vote of 36-23. Called “perhaps the most hotly debated bill in the session” by the Jackson Hole News and Guide (JHNG), the bill levies heavy fines between $1,000 and $100,000 against anyone caught knowingly trespassing on, or impeding access to, “critical infrastructure” sites. The monetary penalties will also be accompanied by up to 10 years in jail.

“[The Critical Infrastructure Bill] targets unarmed, peaceful protestors at oil and gas pipelines, dams, and trans-basin water diversions,’’ wrote the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) in a Facebook post.

In the first version of the bill, fines would have been much greater — between $10,000 and $1,000,000. Non-profits, including the Powder River Basin Resource Council, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Wyoming Outdoor Council and the AFL-CIO, complained alleging First Amendment violations, which convinced the Legislature to amend the bill. That was one of at least 10 amendments required to get the bill to pass the House.

“This was where the big fight came down to in the House,” Rep. Andy Schwartz (D — Teton) told the JHNG. “All the ranchers were saying, ‘I’ve got critical infrastructure on my property and this bill is so badly written I don’t know what I can and can’t do.’ What if you’ve got a pipeline running through your property and 1,000 head of cattle. What happens if the cows damage something?”

Infrastructure sites protected by the bill include pipelines, power plants, refineries, railroad tracks, water treatment and telecommunication facilities. The bill has now moved on to Governor Matt Mead, who opponents are encouraging to veto the bill.

“We need to tighten up security on these facilities significantly,” Christensen told the JHNG. “As a nationwide provider of electricity, oil, and gas, an attack on these facilities could have national repercussions that would greatly affect Wyoming’s economy.”

Co-sponsor, State Senator Ogden Driskill (R — Devils Tower), told the Casper Star Tribune he couldn’t remember any attacks on “critical infrastructure,” but he believes that Wyoming is vulnerable, citing current trespassing laws with fines between $250 and $700, as being too weak to deter acts of sabotage.

Opponents of the bill see SF0074 as a way to keep people from protesting and as a reaction to North Dakota’s Standing Rock demonstration over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Its provision targeting organizations that support protests could make NGOs less likely to send supplies to protestors.

According to Wyofile, Christensen said business interests and national law enforcement groups proposed the bill. However, Wyofile points out “Its language mirrors model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).” One of ALEC’s bills has the same structure and wording as much of SF0074, including the title “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.” According to Counterpunch, “two of the bill sponsors of SF0074, Republican [State] Senators Eli Bebout and Nathan Winters, are ALEC members.”

“What’s raising red flags for us is that it goes beyond to try and chill free speech or rope organizations into being vulnerable to some kind of unjust accusation we would have to defend against,” Jill Morrison, an organizer with the Powder River Basin Resource Council told the Casper Star Tribune.

In an email, Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter Director Connie Wilbert wrote, the bill is “explicitly designed to crush public opposition to projects like the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines, by preventing the kind of protests that occurred at Standing Rock.”

The bill was sent out of committee after an unusual deadline extension, which many in the legislature didn’t even know was possible and thought made “a mockery of the democratic system” according to the JHNG. SF0074 first passed the Wyoming Senate with a 25-5 vote before it went to the House.

The post WY Legislature Passes Sneaky End-of-Session ALEC Bill Criminalizing Enviro, Pipeline Protests appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives

Environews.tv - Mon, 03/12/2018 - 17:09

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/031218-utah-tribes-demand-cabinet-position-lawmaker-breaks-tears-mistreatment-natives/"; reddit_title = "Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Amidst frustration over a recent lack of progress on Native American concerns, several tribal leaders aligned with representatives of the Utah House Minority in an effort to advance the discussion. Their demand was simple: they want to see the Director of Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs (UDIA), Shirlee Silversmith, elevated to a full gubernatorial cabinet position, “rather than [just] a secondary level position.”

Alongside other tribal leaders, Virgil Johnson, an elder from the Goshute tribe in western Utah, spoke of parity between tribes and state government, and as an example, pointed to places like Washington, Nebraska and New Mexico where gubernatorial cabinet-level positions already exist.

In the past, Utah’s Division of Indian Affairs has administered educational programs, housing assistance, and economic development in cooperation with the federal government, to address the specific needs and concerns of Utah’s Native people. At the March 6 press conference, a coalition of advocacy groups, including the League of Native American Voters, Utah Diné Bikéyah and the Utah Tribal Association, joined in the effort as well — all hoping to increase the power of Native voices in Utah’s government.

While endorsing more involvement and management interaction, Representative Mark Wheatley, (Democrat – Murray, SL County) explained his own history with the Utah Native American Consortium of the early 70’s. Wheatley called for a cabinet-level position; just like exists in other western states. “It is shameful that we have individuals living, in my terms, in third-world conditions,” he said. Wheatley is a member of the Utah House Native American Legislative Liaison Committee.

Joining Wheatley from the Minority block, Representative Susan Duckworth (Democrat — Western SL County) was moved to tears by what she described as a special relationship with her Native friends, adding she felt a “quiet reverence” when in their presence. She described the cabinet role proposal as recognition that’s been “a long-time coming” and endorsed the idea completely.

Moroni Benally, Co-Founder of the League of Native American Voters, told EnviroNews Utah that the tribes in the state believe Governor Gary Herbert’s (R) office is open to a conversation about reorganizing the Division of Native American Affairs. He also expects, a joint standing committee will hold some “reasonable and rational discussions” toward this goal during the legislature’s interim study. Gavin Noyes, Executive Director of the Utah Diné Bikéyah also stood in solidarity with the other advocates at the press event.

Recent frustrations for tribes in the West, and particularly in Utah, include a downsizing of the Obama Administration’s Bears Ears National Monument, created in December, 2017, and located in southeastern Utah near tribal reservations in the Four Corners area. By way of an executive order, President Donald Trump has ordered his Interior Department to reduce the monument by roughly 85 percent. That move is being challenged in court by environmental groups and several tribes.

Tribes throughout the US desire a greater voice in legislative and executive branches of government. An order in Federal District Court is presently re-districting the political boundaries in San Juan County, Utah (one of the state’s poorest), where Native voters say they have been underrepresented for decades.

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The post Utah Tribes Demand Cabinet Position, Lawmaker Breaks into Tears over Mistreatment of Natives appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

A call for making Minimum Support Price (MSP) for procuring crops legally binding.

Ground Reality - Fri, 03/09/2018 - 11:17




For the past two weeks, farmers in the Durg district in Chhattisgarh have been dumping tomatoes on to the streets. In just one village – Parsuli in Durg district -- an estimated 100 quintals has been either fed to cattle or left to rot in the crop fields. After a relatively better marketing season that lasted till the first week of January, retail prices have been continuously on the decline. 
Far away, farmers in Erode district in Tamil Nadu are a worried lot. The retail price of cabbage has crashed. Against a price of Rs 12/kg last year, farmers are getting on an average Re 1 per kg. In Chhattisgarh too, tomato prices have crashed leaving farmers in the lurch. Not fetching more than Rs 1 to 2 per kg, farmers have simply abandoned the tomato harvest. The deplorable price they are getting in the market is not even enough to meet the plucking and harvesting cost. 
This is primarily because of higher production. Whether it is cabbage, tomato, potato, onions or for that matter any other crop, the higher the production, less is the price. A higher production enables the middlemen to form cartels and manipulate the prices often to the extent of exploitation. Admitting that it is because of over production, T Rajaganesh, a farmer from Erode district asks: “Farmers spend at least 45,000 per acre a month to cultivate cabbage. Add to it the cost of labour, maintenance and fertiliser, and the cost shoots up to more than 50,000 a month. Since it takes almost three months to yield, we have to spend at least 1.5 lakh per acre before harvesting. How can we realise profit with a farmgate price of 1 per kg?”
In the case of tomato too, average cost of production comes to about Rs 90,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre for small farmers. For the big farms, the production cost is a little higher, at Rs 1.25 lakh per acre. Till the first week of January, when I travelled to meet tomato farmers in Durg district, the prices were much better, about Rs 1000 per crate of 25 kg. But with the advent of tomato crop from Karnataka, the supplies swelled, and prices slumped.
Now, let’s take the case of chana. The fresh arrivals have begun to arrive in the markets. According to news reports, chanaprices are ruling at about Rs 3,600 per quintal against the Minimum Support price (MSP) of Rs 4,400 per quintal, a drop in 20 per cent in the retail price. With the production expected to increase to 10 million tonnes this (from 9.33 million tonnes last year) on account of an 8 per cent increase in the area sown, prices are further expected to dip with arrivals picking up. Even wheat price has remained below the MSP by 6 to 8 per cent in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh where early crop harvest hit the mandis.
In February last week, market price for tur dal was ruling at Rs 4,500 per quintal against the procurement price of Rs 5,500 at Tandur market in Telengana. In the first week of March, prices of mustard and pulses in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were ruling much below the officially announced MSP. Meanwhile, reports of tomato being dumped on the streets in Chhattisgarh have again poured in. This is the third year in a row when tomato prices have crashed to Re 1 per kg. In fact, this is the third year in a row when prices of almost all the agricultural commodities have crashed across the country. After two years of back-to-back drought in 2014 and 2015, production had picked up after a favourable monsoon season in 2016, 2017 and now in 2018. While the increase in production has brought cheers to the government, the drop in prices has added to the misery of farmers.
It is here that I see the relevance of a very timely suggestion made by Dr T N Prakash, chairman of the Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission. Delivering an endowment lecture at Mysuru, he called for making the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of crops to be legally binding. He said: “Consumers have legal protection if produce is sold above the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and can approach the courts, but even after 70 years of independence, farmers don’t have similar protection.”
For the third year in a row, prices of almost all the commodities are ruling 20 to 45 per cent lower than the MSP in various parts of the country. At times of glut, traders have ruthlessly exploited farmers. Even the introduction of Unified Market Platform in Karnataka, which led to the expansion of 585 eNAM (National Agricultural Market) throughout the country, farmers have not gained. The concept of model price, which is based on the average of day’s trading, is in reality a distress price and needs to be dispensed with. eNAM in reality is a nationwide platform being created to make it profitable for spot trading.
In addition to 23 crops for which the MSP is announced every year, my suggestion is to direct the State Governments to work out the MSP for highly perishable commodities like tomato, potato, onion, and veggies. Many states already have State Farmers Commission, which has more or less become retiring rooms for political appointees. The immediate need therefore is to convert them into State Agricultural Prices Commission, with the mandate to provide higher income to farmers, similar to that in Karnataka. If Karnataka can ensure procurement of 14 crops at prices that are much higher than the MSP announced by the Centre, I see no reason why other states cannot rise above the Cong-BJP charade to follow the trend. #

Make MSP legally binding Deccan Herald Mar 29, 2018
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/667222/make-msp-legally-binding.html
Categories: Ecological News

WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest

Environews.tv - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 17:27

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/030718-wy-oil-co-clearing-final-hurdles-preparation-drill-pristine-bridger-teton-national-forest/"; reddit_title = "WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) — Casper, Wyoming — In February 2018, the Deputy Forest Supervisor of Bridger-Teton National Forest released a set of guidelines and requirements for a proposed oil and gas drilling project within the Forest’s borders. True Oil LLC, a Casper, Wyoming-based petroleum company, wants to explore about eight square miles of land for a project known as the “Lander Peak Proposal,” which is slated to include road construction, drilling and pipeline building as early as this year.

Despite a local news publication reporting on February 28 that True Oil had already been given the green light, Lisa McGee, Executive Director of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, a group that objects to the project, told EnviroNews no final decision notice has been issued. She added that the park district ranger informed her that the news reports were premature and inaccurate. However, the decision is expected this month and a Forest Service press release states that once stipulations are met, “True Oil may begin work on their exploratory activities on their two well pads.”

“True Oil is seeking to expand development in one of the best native cutthroat trout fisheries on national forest land in the entire country,” McGee said. While she approves of the new conditions, which include a requirement for baseline water-quality testing and a prohibition on diesel fracking fluids, she said, “As managers of lands all Americans own and value for multiples uses, the Forest Service could have done more to safeguard these uses.” She said she and her co-objectors will encourage additional changes be made to the approval and potential mining process, stating, “An adequate reclamation bond would be a good start.” Reclamation bonds are aimed at assuring land altered by mining will be returned to its original state.

Objections to the Lander Peak project were formally placed by The Wyoming Outdoor Council, The Wilderness Society, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Trout Unlimited and the owners of the nearby High Lonesome and Cottonwood Ranches. In their letters, these parties cited concerns about the project’s impacts on the environment and local infrastructure. The first three groups also stated in their shared objection that the Forest Service “impermissibly limited the scope of the [environmental assessment] to two wells.”

They point to a three-phase master development plan (MDP), submitted for approval by True Oil in 2010, for 40 gas wells. This MDP would start with two exploratory wells and then expand if those wells show promise. But, True Oil later withdrew that plan and submitted environmental assessments (EA) for approval on only the first two wells.

“The Forest Service complied with the request — despite public comments in 2012 and 2015 urging it to acknowledge the MDP in its analysis — and prepared an environmental assessment for just the two wells,” the groups wrote in May 2017. They suggested the Forest Service require a full-scale environmental impact statement (EIS) “that acknowledges the company’s full-field [MDP].”

In response to the objections, Derek Ibarguen, Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, issued a letter to the Big Piney district ranger outlining a series of conditions and tasks to be completed before the final decision notice is issued for True Oil. These include requirements for the inspection of equipment for invasive aquatic species, spraying for invasive plants, a road-maintenance plan, pipeline pressure tests and a prohibition of using diesel-based fracking fluids.

“Discussions during the objection process have resulted in a number of improvements to the project,” Big Piney District Ranger Don Kranendonk said.

While Wyoming’s 2009 Range Legacy Act generally forbids new oil and gas explorations in the Bridger-Teton portion of the Wyoming Range, the 4,800-acre Lander Peak leases were grandfathered in because they were issued in 1969. In 2013, the Trust for Public Land purchased and retired a series of similar preexisting energy leases owned by Plains Exploration & Production Company in the Wyoming Range.

True Oil has had three natural gas wells in production in Bridger-Teton since the 80s and another was drilled in 2001. In January 2017, the Forest Service decided to permanently protect Bridger-Teton from oil and gas drilling. However, along with being pre-leased, the Lander Peak area was not part of the areas protected in 2017.

If True Oil later seeks to punch more wells and resubmit an MDP, it will be subject to an additional National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, which could include a full EIS.

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The post WY Oil Co. Clearing Final Hurdles in Preparation to Drill Pristine Bridger-Teton National Forest appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution

Environews.tv - Wed, 03/07/2018 - 03:19

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/030618-students-grades-5-12-shake-walls-utah-state-capitol-hazardous-air-pollution/"; reddit_title = "800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Utah) — Salt Lake City, Utah — Marching to the state capitol in Salt Lake City on a beautiful but chilly, pre-spring day, more than 800 students from campuses like Rowland Hall (one hour, three minutes, one-way on foot) the Madeleine Choir School (seventeen minutes, one-way), the McGillis School and Judge Memorial Catholic High School, brought pickets, speeches and song, as they converged on the State Capitol on Monday, March 5, to tell Utah lawmakers they’ve had enough bad air days. The event was titled, Utah Students for Clean Air Rally.

Besides offering scientific evidence to back up their demands, they also added some unique perspectives during the last week of this year’s state legislative session. “As a kid, I’m going to be breathing the bad air longer than all of the adults here, unless we start cleaning it up,” said Milo Shaw, age 12, of the Madeline Choir School. He called on Utah lawmakers to put funding into a wood-fired heater exchange program that aims to reduce particulate pollution during winter days.

For students like Milo, each “red air day” advisory for the Wasatch Front comes with mandatory confinement indoors to avoid exposure to Utah’s toxic air when it becomes trapped by atmospheric inversions and the mountainous bowl surrounding the Salt Lake Valley. Young lungs and airways reside at the very bottom of the poisonous soup – a cocktail containing nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter (PM 2.5). These substances, along with many others, collect when winter air is heavy and still, begetting a dangerous and even deadly environment.

After arriving and assembling in the Capitol Rotunda, the student speakers, along with Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and state Representative Patrice Arent (D), were introduced by Brian Moench, MD, Founder of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE). As an anesthesiologist at the University of Utah Medical Center, Dr. Moench has been instrumental in exposing the medical hazards of the Beehive State’s noxious air, and he explained his views on additional public health problems that have gone unaddressed by state and federal lawmakers.


Utah has long-suffered from poor air quality and activists have been stymied recurrently by the manufacturing, mining and refining lobbies, in a state where lawmakers receive most of their election funds from special interests. Governor Gary Herbert (R) himself was called out last year for accepting more than $18,000 in campaign contributions from the coal industry. EnviroNews wanted to know what has changed in the past five years since this issue boiled to the surface, nowadays even being compared to the hideous air in Beijing. Dr. Moench asked the student mob why they were in school to begin with. He then suggested it was because they were there to learn and then went on to let them know that “by coming [there] today, they [were] making the world a better place for [themselves], for [their] family, for [their] city and for [their] state.”

Dr. Moench told the students that pollution affects the proper function of their lungs, heart, and even their brain, the organ most crucial for becoming an effective learner. He compelled them to contact their lawmakers and gave them the phone number to do it. Meanwhile, students called upon all adults to either get busy on the issue or to get out of their way.

Jessica, of Judge Memorial Catholic High School, expressed her concern as an asthma patient like 25 million others in the country. She pointed out that chronic Pulmonary obstruction disease affects 4% of Utah’s population, including people who have never used tobacco. She told the assembled audience that her research has informed her understanding that pollution, especially pervasive in the air, causes pre-term deliveries, low birth weigh, stillbirths and other avoidable complications in expecting mothers.

“People 65 years of age or older now have a higher chance of heart attacks and lung disease,” Jessica continued. She went on to say that care for the environment was a Christian value that should be addressed not just on Sunday but “lived every day.”

Olivia, age 11, from Salt Lake City’s Madeleine Choir School declared that the young generation was being denied a common resource, that of clean air, and that the students were at the Capitol on this day “not to ask, but to demand action and accountability now.” She went on to ask how all the adults have failed in making the world she is growing up in and inheriting, better for her and her generation.

Utah policymakers have not addressed specific clean air bills to this point in their 45-day legislative session, but under the leadership of a former Utah Transit Authority (UTA) board member and the retiring Speaker of the House of Representatives, the state is overhauling its approach to transit, including the adoption of more electric mass transit from the 2017 session. Last November, Governor Herbert announced that the UTA Board would be revised and that a new Transit Commission would replace the former Board. In addition, Speaker Greg Hughes declared on KSL Radio that the changes would completely overhaul the way that transportation is considered in the Beehive State.

Utah doctors like Brian Moench and the next generation of researchers, health advocates, administrators and new physicians are becoming experts in the comprehension of environmental threats to public health. They say that previous policy in Utah has been killing people and making them sick and that the epidemiology is clear even if the air is not.

The post 800 Students, Grades 5-12, Shake the Walls at Utah State Capitol over Hazardous Air Pollution appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

It is important for farmers to understand the MSP arithmetic

Ground Reality - Mon, 03/05/2018 - 12:17



Not getting the right price, dairy farmers spill milk on the street as a mark of protest.
Addressing the 5th National Convention of Farmer Leaders, which concluded at Chandigarh recently, I asked farmers whether they would be satisfied if the wheat price was to be raised by Rs 150 per quintal as per their demand of providing 50 per cent profit over the cost of production.
The answer was a resounding No.
A farmer got up and asked: “Sir, please clarify. You are saying that if wheat MSP is increased by Rs 150 per quintal it will meet our demand of implementing the Swaminathan Commission recommendation. But as per our calculations, raising the wheat price by one and a half time over the cost of production would bring the wheat price to over Rs 3,500 per quintal.” 
I was certainly taken by surprise at this new set of calculations that was presented. This only showed how misinformation was being spread around. Later, I learnt that some farmer leaders had been going around telling farmers that the demand of MSP plus 50 per cent would translate into a price of Rs 3,625 per quintal.
Since it is mired in technical details, I know it becomes rather difficult for majority farmers to understand the how the MSP is worked out. The three abbreviations –- A2, A2+FL and C2 – that are floating around are certainly not easy to comprehend. I therefore decided to simply it for them to easily grasp. I told them that whatever you spend on cultivating a crop, like fertiliser, pesticides, seed, and cost of hiring tractors etc is computed and is placed under the head of A2 cost. This also includes the labour a farmer employs. In simple words, it is the actual cost a farmer undertakes. In addition, a farmer’s family is also engaged in the crop operations and this is calculated separately under the head of family labour, called FL. When we add family labour of a farmer to the actual cost he has incurred in cultivation, it becomes A2+FL.
According to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), which works out the MSP for 23 crops every year, the A2 plus FL cost of wheat comes to Rs 817 per quintal. Since the MSP this year has been announced at Rs 1,735 per quintal, the government claims it is already paying farmers a profit of 112 per cent over the actual cost a farmer undertakes, including his family labour.  
Now there is something called as C2 cost. This is the comprehensive cost which in addition to A2+FL also includes the rental value of the land and the interest on farmers own assets. According to CACP, this has been computed at Rs 1,256 per quintal for wheat. But since the MSP has been announced at Rs 1,735 per quintal for this year, it means that over the C2 cost the government is already paying a profit of 38 per cent. On the other hand, farmer unions are demanding 50 per cent over the cost of production. In other words, farmers are demanding 50 per cent more over the C2 cost of Rs 1,265 per quintal, which comes to Rs 1,884 per quintal. If you deduct Rs 1,735 from Rs 1,884, it comes to Rs 149 to be exact. Rounding this figure, I had earlier said that all that the government needs to do is to raise the wheat price by another Rs 150 per quintal, and the farmers demand would be met.
But would that satisfy farmers, the answer is no.
While it is true that even the UPA government had been paying higher profit than this, I think the time has come when we should move away from price policy to income policy. Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the wheat MSP was higher by 125 per cent, barley by 110 per cent and gram 105 per cent. So the question that needs to be asked is what the big deal when the government says it is providing a higher profit. That even the UPA government had been doing, but it never made that kind of a claim. Again, if I ask farmers I am sure they would reject this so called increase in procurement price that the government claims as anywhere near the actual cost of production they incur.
That the MSP is less than the actual cost of production for various crops, and in different regions, is well known. The cost of cultivation of wheat in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh is certainly higher than the cost in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Since the prices are averaged before being announced, invariably Punjab farmers have been at the receiving end. In Haryana, for instance, the cost of production as worked out by the Haryana Agricultural University was Rs 2,219 per quintal. The MSP that was announced by the Centre was Rs 1,625 per quintal, which means for every quintal sold, a farmer suffered a loss of Rs 594 a quintal. 

The ‘one size fits all’ approach has already inflicted heavy damage by way of reduced farm incomes to farmers in progressive states. It is here that I see the role of Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, which has forced the State government to procure 19 crops, at procurement prices it has fixed, to be a very significant development. Other states too need to follow the trend. 

Just to give you an idea, a study done by Prof R S Ghuman for the Punjab Government had worked out that between 1997 and 2007, Punjab farmers incurred a loss of Rs 62,000-crore by being denied their rightful income. Interestingly, if this is the economic loss farmers incur in a state where more than 90 per cent wheat is procured at the officially declared MSP, imagine the loss farmers are suffering in other states.
Another report submitted by the Punjabi University concludes that every third farmer in Punjab is below the poverty line. In other words, even in a progressive state where more than 90 per cent wheat is procured which means farmers get the benefit of MSP, a third of the farming community is somehow surviving below poverty levels. Most of the 16,000 farmers and farm workers who committed suicide in the past 17 years, between 2000 and 2017, fall in this category.
I think it is very important for farmers to understand the MSP arithmetic. Unless they know how they are being taken for a ride with very clever jumbling of figures, they will never be able to understand how they have been deliberately kept impoverished all these years. And unless they understand the economic jigsaw, they will never be able to stand up and ask the right questions. #
Categories: Ecological News

Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk

Environews.tv - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 15:36

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/022718-wild-horses-may-hold-solution-slowing-spread-fatal-chronic-wasting-disease-deer-elk/"; reddit_title = "Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Colorado) — A Colorado State University scientist is investigating the role wild horses may play in slowing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a 100 percent fatal and contagious brain-destroying infection, ravaging the country’s deer and elk herds.

The findings take on increased significance considering recent research by Canadian and German scientists who found that the dreaded prion disease is easily transmitted to cynomolgus macaques (Macaca cynomolgus). Genetically speaking, this monkey is the closest thing to humans that can be used in laboratory research. Last year, Health Canada (the country’s equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control) issued a health advisory, warning that the “most prudent approach is to consider that CWD has the potential to infect humans.”

Making the situation even bleaker, the first cases of CWD were recently diagnosed in Montana and an explosion of the disease in other herds around the country, even the notion of a mitigating technique is welcome.

But can wild horse really help slow the spread of this deadly disease across the vast landscapes of the West? We explore that proposition below, but first a little background on the prion itself.

Prions: The Unkillable Killer

Prions (pronounced: \ˈprī-än\, or pree-on) are malformed proteins that cause abnormal folding of certain otherwise normal proteins in the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Lacking a cell nucleus, a prion is not a bacteria or a virus, nor is it even alive — though it behaves much like a living, reproducing pathogen.

Prion diseases include transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“mad cow disease”) in cattle, “scrapie” in sheep, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

First discovered in Colorado in 1967 in captive mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), CWD has since spread to wild and captive cervids including mule deer, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), moose (Alces alces shirasi) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus). Thus far, the infected animals span the U.S., two Canadian provinces, Norway, and South Korea.

Captive Elk With Chronic Wasting Disease at the Sybille Wildlife Research Unit

Symptoms of the “zombie deer disease” include severe weight loss (wasting), stumbling, and listlessness, with the disease eventually leading to death in all cases. The spread of the sickness has exploded in cervids throughout the West over the past decade, with about one-half of Colorado’s deer herds and one-third of its elk herds believed to now be infected.

CWD spreads through animal-to-animal contact and the contamination of food sources. Humans can increase the dispersal through the transportation of live animals, infected carcasses or contaminated crops; products made with cervid urine, saliva, or feces; and wildlife management practices that cluster animals together, such as federal and state agencies baiting and rounding up elk into wintertime herds.

Testing a Deer for Chronic Wasting Disease

While a single case of CWD has yet to be found in humans, the CDC and other government agencies recommend that hunters take precautions when dressing deer and to test meat before eating. Disturbingly, prion illnesses can incubate in the human body for several decades before manifesting symptoms.

For years, Dr. Mark Zabel, Associate Director of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, has been trying to stop the spread of CWD. In a phone interview with EnviroNews, he said studies have shown that horses are “atypically resistant” to prions and that there has “never been any case of naturally occurring horse prion disease.”

Good News for Horses, But What About Deer and Elk?

Zabel said he has “pretty strong evidence” he hopes to publish this year demonstrating that one of the most common ways for CWD to spread is when cervids browse on vegetation contaminated from infected saliva, urine, and feces. Hence, he said it’s possible that horses can consume some of the CWD-tainted material and “interrupt that indirect transmission of CWD prions from cervid to cervid.”

There are of course many obstacles to this plan, the most obvious being whether horses could even make a dent in the sheer amount of contaminated vegetation in the forest and whether the resulting ecosystem impacts would outweigh any benefits. Another hitch is that after consuming the prions, the horses would just release them back into the environment in their manure.

Wild Horses in Wyoming — Photo: Images by Ottilia

While acknowledging the limitations of the proposal, Zabel said that, “As prions traverse through the alimentary tract of an animal… the titers decrease.” What that means is, even though the prions would still be present in a horse’s manure, after it digests them, they would be far less concentrated, as well as sequestered in a substance cervids have no interest in browsing.

With his expectations firmly in check, Zabel is curious to find out if “[by tweaking] the indirect transmission just a little bit… [if] those processes would be enough to interrupt the indirect transmission of prions, and [if] that might be enough to stop the spread across the landscape into new areas.” He has applied for funding to test the hypothesis.

If Horses Can Put a Damper on CWD Prions, What Then?

As of March 2017, a total of 59,483 wild horses (Equus ferus) roam free on public lands across 10 western states, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Since the 1971 passage of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, the BLM has managed these creatures through sterilization and by setting population limits in herd management areas (HMA) to “protect scarce and fragile resources in the arid West and ensure healthy animals.”

Additional specimens are rounded up and kept in pens or sold. The BLM currently houses 44,493 horses in off-range pastures, corrals, and sanctuaries and removes thousands more from the wild every year, with anywhere from half to the majority of the creatures getting adopted, though advocates offer evidence of some horses being sold for slaughter.

Wild Horse on the Western Landscape — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Author and wild horse advocate William Simpson told EnviroNews in a phone interview that he wants the BLM to release captured wild horses into the forest to gobble up vegetation that may be contaminated with prions and reduce wildfire fuels, the way he’s doing on his WildHorse Ranch in the Cascade-Siskiyou region of Northern California.

Does The Wild Horse Belong on the American Landscape?

Most studies estimate wild horses, along with dozens of other species of megafauna, such as giant sloths, wooly mammoths, and saber-tooth tigers, disappeared from North America around twelve thousand years ago — the most likely extinction culprits being rapid warming and overhunting.

Some scientists, such as Ross Macphee, curator of the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, claim that domestic horses contain much of the same genetics as their wild ancestors, with other studies corroborating that evidence.

Wild Horses Battling for Position — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Wild horse advocates assert that returning the animals to their ancestral range, including the forest, makes ecological sense. Indeed, a 2017 study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution concluded that wild horses likely lived in “post-glacial forests,” a finding backed by several other studies.

“Horses have evolved on this biome, so putting them out there is just reintroduction of a proven native species,” said Simpson, adding that this method is the only one “that [would allow] scientists to study wild native horses in their environment, abating the prion problem.”

For Simpson, it’s not only about prion mitigation. He argues wild horses can also cut back on vegetation responsible for fueling California’s recent large wildfires, though a recent body of science points to climate, rather than fuels, as the main driver.

Wild Horse — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Gary MacFarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater in Moscow, Idaho, maintains that releasing horses in public forests would do more harm than good. “I think [the introduction of horses is] kind of a manipulation of the national forests and I don’t think it’s right, especially in wilderness [areas],” MacFarlane said in a phone interview with EnviroNews. “The idea of wilderness is to have a few places where we decide not to consciously exert our will and let nature roll the dice.”

Though CWD has yet to be found in free-roaming deer or elk in Idaho, MacFarlane is concerned about the spread. However, informed by his degree in range management and the interaction between animals and the vegetation they eat, he points to what he believes to be the root cause of CWD’s spread: “[the] North American wildlife management model.”

MacFarlane asserts that over the last century, state fish and game agencies focused so heavily on propagating game species that they “didn’t look at the unintended consequences.”

Wild Horse on Western Landscape — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Combined with development and grazing that have reduced available habitat, an increasing number of deer have been forced to congregate in the few remaining winter ranges, MacFarlane explained. And it’s in those ranges that the highest disease transmission likely occurs.

Other than Simpson’s ranch and Zabel’s still unfunded proposal, there are no concrete schemes to introduce wild horses onto the land for the purpose of prion abatement or fuel reduction, and certainly not in national forests or wilderness areas.

Wild Horse — Photo: Images by Ottilia

Even if the horse angle is unfeasible, as CWD continues to spread like wildfire, perhaps Zabel’s research will open other doors that might lead to a solution.

All of the excellent photographs of wild horses featured in this article were provided by Images by Ottilia. You may visit their Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/ohmphotos/

OTHER REPORTS ON PRION DISEASE BY ENVIRONEWS:

HEALTH ADVISORY: Venison, Elk May No Longer Be Safe to Eat – Study: Deadly Chronic Wasting Disease Could be Moving to Humans

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Alberta, Canada – Early results from an ongoing study testing human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a growing epidemic among deer and elk, has led Health Canada to warn “that CWD has the potential to infect humans.” Chronic wasting disease is an…

Invasion of the Zombie Elk – Chronic Wasting Disease Spreading Fast, Nearing Yellowstone Herds

(EnviroNews Nature) – In the late 1980s, farmers in Great Britain started to notice their cows stumbling around, acting strangely and losing weight. The problem got continually worse, until in 1993, more than 36,000 cattle in the UK died in a single year from mad cow disease. Prior…

PRION BOMBS! – Physicians Group Says Stericycle Undoubtedly Releasing Deadly Prions and Radiation

(EnviroNews Utah) – PRION: a word that many have never even heard before, but little do they know that this deadly and virulent “pest” may be lurking right on their dinner plate, or inside their cute little pets Fluffy and Rover, or even right in dear ol’ Gramma’s…

Dr. Tyler Yeates MD Calls Out Stericycle For Incinerating Deadly Brain-Attacking Prions Into the Environment – Stericycle Owns Up to it

(EnviroNews Utah) – North Salt Lake City – In a shocking admission Thursday night at a heated town hall meeting, a VP from Stericycle has admitted that the company is allowed to accept and burn deadly and arguably indestructible brain-destroying prions at its North Salt Lake incineration facility…

Dr. Brian Moench of UPHE Discusses the Potentially Deadly Burning of Prions by Stericycle Medical Incinerator

(EnviroNews Utah) – Following Stericycle’s simply flabbergasting admission last Thursday night where they acknowledged that they are allowed to accept and burn deadly and largely indestructible prions, protestors took to the streets outside one of the country’s last standing hazardous medical waste incineration plants. Prions are the malformed…

Amy Uchida, 4th Year Medical Student at the U of U, is Asked About Stericycle’s Incineration of Deadly Prions

(EnviroNews Utah) – According to documents on the Department of Environmental Quality website, Stericycle’s permit needs to be renewed by August 19, 2013. The company’s current permit expires on Feb. 19, 2014. Regg Olsen is listed as the contact at the Department of Air Quality (DAQ) in charge…

The post Wild Horses May Hold a Solution to Slowing Spread of Fatal Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected

Environews.tv - Thu, 02/22/2018 - 23:07

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/022218-stunning-report-170m-americans-now-drinking-radioactive-water-see-h20-affected/"; reddit_title = "Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — More than 170 million Americans, or around 52 percent of the entire population, may be at risk of radiation exposure through their drinking water, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), one of the country’s leading water testing organizations. The EWG published its findings based on a compendium of data collected from over 50,000 public drinking systems nationwide between 2010 and 2015. The report reveals a shocking trend: much of the nation’s drinking water “contains radioactive elements at levels that may increase the risk of cancer.”

The EWG reported its findings after President Donald Trump re-nominated Kathleen Hartnett White as head of the White House’s own Council on Environmental Quality. In an interview in 2011, Hartnett White admitted to falsifying data while she was head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), in a scheme to show radiation levels were below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit in communities where levels actually exceeded those thresholds. She justified the falsification because she said she “[didn’t] believe the science of [radiation-caused] health effects” espoused by the EPA. Hartnett White also said she “placed far more trust” in the work of the TCEQ, which she admitted again in 2017 ignored EPA regulations. While her name has been withdrawn at her own request, many remain concerned about the safety of America’s drinking water.

According to EWG’s research, radium is the most common radioactive element found in U.S. water systems, and the problem is pervasive coast to coast. The non-profit NGO found radium 226 and radium 228 lurking in tap water in all 50 states. The EPA on the other hand, lumps the two isotopes together when measuring. So, in at least one capacity, the EWG went a step further than the federal government in testing America’s water supplies.

Radium is naturally occurring and usually found in drinking water at levels less than one picocurie per liter. The EPA has set the maximum level for safe drinking water at five picocuries per liter. As reported repeatedly by EnviroNews, any exposure to ionizing radiation presents a risk. Radiation is also bioaccumulative, and like many other contaminants, can bioconcentrate its way up the food chain. The EPA classifies all ionizing radiation carcinogenic.

“Radium in drinking water is a nationwide problem, in the same way that radon in homes has become a primary health concern. Although radium in water is often natural, certain industries can exacerbate the problem. Oil and gas production can cause local groundwater contamination by radium,” said Marco Kaltofen in an email to EnviroNews. Kaltofen is the Affiliate Research Engineer for the Nuclear Science and Engineering Program in the Department of Physics at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on radiation in the environment.

About 20% of radium consumed through drinking water is absorbed by the body. Some of that will be excreted through the urinary tract; the rest, the body interprets as calcium, which in turn gets deposited in tissues and bones. Exposure to high levels of alpha radiation, the primary form in radium, for extended periods, may depress the immune system and cause anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, and some types of cancer.

“The most visible human-caused radium problem is at the West Lake Landfill near St. Louis, Missouri. This is an illegal radioactive waste dump where [the] EPA has recently agreed to spend more than $200,000,000 to begin removing some of the radium and other radioactive materials,” said Kaltofen, whose paper about that ongoing crisis is set to be published in the Journal of Applied Radiation and Isotopes soon.

As for the EWG, the group is not impressed with EPA standards, saying that the agency relies on science collected in the 1970s, and is more concerned with the feasibility and cost of removing contaminants from the water system, rather than placing human health first.

Bill Walker, Editor-in-Chief and Vice President with the Environmental Working Group wrote this:

Radiation in tap water is a serious health threat, especially during pregnancy. But the Environmental Protection Agency’s legal limits for several types of radioactive elements in tap water are badly outdated. And President Trump’s nominee to be the White House environment czar rejects the need for water systems to comply even with those outdated and inadequate standards.

The EWG decided that instead of assessing the threat to public health by comparing its data to the “EPA’s 41-year-old legal limits,” that it would instead stack the findings against the “respected and influential” California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment. That agency set health goals in 2006, and maintains separate safety thresholds for both radium 226 and 228 – levels that are “hundreds of times more stringent than the EPA limit for the two isotopes combined.”

For example, where the EPA’s safety limit is five picocuries per liter, the California public health goal for radium 226 is 0.05 picocuries per liter, while for radium 228 it is just 0.019 picocuries per liter. The public health goals set by the California Office of Environmental Hazard Assessment are not enforceable by law.

Radium isn’t the only contaminant the EWG found though. The group looked for six different types of radiation, including radon and uranium. The EWG also created a tap water database and interactive map to help citizens learn more about the water quality where they live and to display highlighted areas where radium is a pervasive problem.

EWG Interactive Radium Map

The EWG has been conducting extensive water testing throughout the U.S. for years. In August of 2017, EnviroNews published an article about another EWG study that revealed at least 250 million Americans are also drinking Chromium 6, a.k.a. “the Erin Brockovich carcinogen,” in their tap water. In that article, Robert Colman, a project manager with the EWG, pointed out that the contamination numbers are almost certainly even higher than their research indicated because “water from most smaller utilities and private wells usually is not tested for chromium 6,” leaving people to wonder if that may also be the case for radiation.

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(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – Hexavalent chromium (chromium 6), nicknamed the “Erin Brockovich Carcinogen,” is said to “[cause] cancer when ingested at even extraordinarily low levels.” Created as a byproduct from numerous industrial activities, the substance is now in the drinking water of 250…

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The post Stunning Report: 170m Americans Now Drinking Radioactive Water — See if Your H20 is Affected appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

The entire banking system has been structured to serve only the rich and powerful

Ground Reality - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 09:45


Courtesy -- IndiaTomorrow.net
For 96-year-old Ramdiya from Kaithal in Haryana, an old age pension of Rs 1,600 he receives every month is his only social security. But for several months now, he is being deprived of his only life line at this advance age. To recover a loan of Rs 50,000 he had taken way back in 2006, the bank has been mercilessly deducting the entire amount from his old age pension that is routed through his bank account.
Ramdiya is not the only beneficiary of the old age pension scheme whose only life line has been suddenly snapped. This is against the banking norms but then that’s the extent of cruelty that the poor and the marginalised sections of the society are subjected to by the banking system. Banks are known to paste the name and photo of the defaulting farmers on notice boards in the tehsil headquarters; recovery agents not only harass but also physically thrash the defaulters; inability to pay back the loans invariably results in seizure of movable and immovable property which is put to auction. I wonder why the same privileges are denied to the corporate defaulters, after all both the farmers as well as the industrialists draw loans from the nationalised banks. Why then different strokes for different class of defaulters.    
The relative ease, with which corporate defaulters have been able to defraud banks, adding on to the piling up of non-performing assets (NPAS) and still getting away without even an idea of remorse, clearly shows how the entire banking system has been structured to serve only the rich and powerful. After all, if Rs 11,400-crore has been fraudulently sucked out of Punjab National Bank (PNB) by Nirav Modi and his associates, and they have very conveniently escaped to safer havens to escape arrests it clearly shows that the fear of banking regulator is only for the aam aadmi. While all kinds of inhuman ways are applied to recover dues from farmers, some recovery tactics even surpassing barbaric norms, the same banks have always refrained from even making the names of corporate defaulter’s public. The Finance Ministry as well as the RBI have time and again pleaded before the Supreme Court not to disclose the names of wilful defaulters saying it will reduce investor’s confidence.
With tacit protection being accorded by the Finance Ministry, no wonder the banks are now saddled with NPAs amounting to a staggering Rs 9.5 lakh crores. On the other hand, the total outstanding farm loan as of Sept 2016 stood at Rs 12.6 lakh crore. But when the farmers demand the outstanding debt to be written-off the mainline economists and policy makers are quick to reach saying that it leads to a moral hazard and will upset the national balance sheet. On the other hand, writing-off corporate bad loans is viewed as economic growth, as the chief economic advisor had once remarked. Even the economic policies therefore provide a escape route for corporate defaulters. They know for sure that their bad debts will be easily written-off in the process to attain economic growth.    
Earlier, the Public Accounts Committee of the parliament had estimated that the total outstanding loans of public sector banks till mar 2017 stood at Rs 6.8-lakh crores.  Out of this, 70 per cent belongs to the corporate sector, whereas only 1 per cent of the defaulters are farmers.  Already, in the past 10 years, Rs 3.60 lakh crore of bad debts has been written off by banks. But what I fail to understand is why none of the corporate chiefs whose companies have defaulted on bank loans have been put through the same strenuous scrutiny and made to undergo the same level of inhuman recovery tactics that farmers are forced to.
In fact, while defaulting farmers are routinely put in jail and are made to pay upfront for jail expenses, company heads escape with huge ‘haircuts’. For instance, Sree Metalick co owed Rs 13,000-crore out of which only 7 per cent was recovered under insolvency resolution process. A Haryana farmer, who had borrowed Rs 6-lakh for laying irrigation pipeline in his crop fields on the other hand was sentenced to two years imprisonment by a district court a few weeks back and also ordered to deposit Rs 9.80 lakh.
If Rs 11,400-crore that Nirav Modi as duped the banks was to be used for farm loan waiver of up to Rs 1.5-lakh per farmer, my estimate is that it could benefit as many as 30-lakh farmers. My estimate is based on Maharashtra government’s claim that its proposed Rs 34,000-crore loan waiver will benefit 89 lakh farmers. A third of Rs 34,000 crore is what Nirav Modi has defrauded the banks with, and using Maharashtra’s calculations, Rs 11,400-crore could have wiped-off bad loans of 30-lakh farmers. Add to this Rs 3,695-crore ‘default’ by Rotomac chief, and another Rs 9,000-crore that Vijay Mallaya ran away with, another set of 30 lakh farmers could have emerged free from the burden of bad loans they carry. In simple words, the massive swindle of public exchequer inflicted by just three captains of Indian industry could have wiped away the tears of over 60 lakh farmers reeling under farm indebtedness. #

The Other side of the PNB fraud. DNA. Feb 21, 2018
http://www.dnaindia.com/analysis/column-the-other-side-of-the-pnb-fraud-2586842
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