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Corn Guzzler
January 2015

Downsides of Ethanol

Ethanol-PlantEthanol, which makes up 10 percent of the gasoline available at filling stations, together with other biofuels made from crops, appeared to be a way to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. However, recent research shows that the federal government’s push to up production of corn-derived ethanol as a gasoline additive since the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard was enacted in 2007 has instead expanded our national carbon footprint and contributed to a range of other problems.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group warns that continued production of corn ethanol is both worse for the climate than gasoline and bad for farmers, the land and consumers. “It’s driving up food prices, straining agricultural markets, increasing competition for arable land and promoting conversion of uncultivated land to grow crops,” according to this watchdog organization.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly weighing a proposal to cut the amount of ethanol currently required by law to be blended into gasoline by 1.39 billion gallons, equivalent to taking 580,000 cars off the roads for a year. Researchers have been trying to develop greener forms of ethanol, but none are ready for market yet.


For more information, visit epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels.

 
Mistletoe Extract Benefits Pancreatic Cancer Patients
December 2014

Natural Alternative Increases Survival Rate

mistletoeA study published in the European Journal of Cancer revealed that a mistletoe extract may lengthen life for patients with severe pancreatic cancer. German researchers tested 220 patients with advanced stage pancreatic cancer, an aggressive, often fatal disease. The patients were divided into two groups; one was given up to 10 milligrams of Viscum album (European mistletoe) three times a week for up to 12 months. Both groups received supportive care throughout the study period.

The average length of survival for those taking the mistletoe extract, 4.8 months, was nearly twice that of the other group, 2.7 months; a survival period typically dates from the original diagnosis. Within a group considered to have a good prognosis, the survival period for those that consumed the extract, averaging 6.6 months, was more than double that of the no-extract group, which averaged 3.2 months.

 
Bamboo Bamboozle
December 2014

‘Green’ Clothing Made with Toxic Chemicals

bambooBamboo is rapidly renewable and requires few pesticides to grow. However, bamboo fabric manufacturing is a chemically intensive process that doesn’t provide clear and legitimate product labeling. Misleadingly using the terms eco-friendly and green becomes greenwashing when applied to items such as bamboo clothing.

As the Fair Trade Commission describes the overall process, “Most bamboo textile products, if not all, are actually rayon, which typically is made using environmentally toxic chemicals. While different plants, including bamboo, can be used as a source material to create rayon, there’s no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product.”

This example points out the public vigilance required to secure more sustainable, environmentally friendly products. Third-party verification of all claims is recommended. Products made of the bamboo stalk itself, such as poles for furniture or planks for flooring, remain true to their naturally sustainable source.


Source: Tinyurl.com/OrganicBambooFraud

 
Cell Phones and Router Microwaves Stress Plants
December 2014

Radiation Effects on Greenery

cell-phoneEvidence of the effects of wireless technologies on human health continues to be controversial, with agreement on results remaining elusive. Now a new study published in the Journal of Plant Physiologyfound that human-generated microwave pollution can potentially be stressful to plants.

Researchers from Romania’s Estonian University of Life Sciences tested three common garden plants—parsley, celery and dill weed. They exposed each to the types of microwave radiation equivalent to those produced by cell phones and wireless routers. Then these radiation-exposed plants were compared with identical plants not exposed to the radiation.

The scientists noted that the irradiated plants had thinner cell walls; smaller chloroplasts (cellular sites of photosynthesis); smaller cell mitochondria (centers of energy production); and greater emission of volatile compounds, particularly monoterpenes and green leaf volatiles, which are protective, life-promoting components of the plants’ essential oils.

The effects were stronger for the type of radiation produced by wireless routers. While essential oil production overall was increased by the frequency of the microwaves produced by cell phones, it was decreased by the frequency emitted by the routers.

 
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