Hinterland Green

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dangerous Chemicals in Food Wrappers & Microwave Popcorn Bags May Make Way Into Human Blood

SHOCK: University of Toronto scientists have discovered that chemicals used to line junk food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags are migrating into food. It is being ingested by people and is suspected of contributing to chemical contamination observed in blood. So, you should be very wary about those wrappers on foods you and your children love to eat.
Perfluorinated carboxylic acids or PFCAs are the breakdown products of chemicals used to make non-stick and water- and stain-repellent products ranging from kitchen pans to clothing to food packaging. PFCAs, the best known of which is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are found in humans all around the world.

"We suspected that a major source of human PFCA exposure may be the consumption and metabolism of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate esters or PAPs," says Jessica D'eon, a graduate student in the University of Toronto's Department of Chemistry. "PAPs are applied as greaseproofing agents to paper food contact packaging such as fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags."

In the U of T study, rats were exposed to PAPs either orally or by injection and monitored for a three-week period to track the concentrations of the PAPs and PFCA metabolites, including PFOA, in their blood. Human exposure to PAPs had already been established by the scientists in a previous study. Researchers used the PAP concentrations previously observed in human blood together with the PAP and PFCA concentrations observed in the rats to calculate human PFOA exposure from PAP metabolism. Source: Science Daily
Read more:  Dangerous Chemicals in Food Wrappers Likely Migrating to Humans | Science Daily

Sunday, November 7, 2010

TRAFFIC India Finds Black Magic Behind Illegal Owl Trade

TRAFFIC India finds use of owls in black magic and sorcery driven by superstition, totems and taboos is one of the prime drivers of the covert owl trade.

TRAFFIC India’s report entitled “Imperiled Custodians of the Night” was launched today by Shri Jairam Ramesh, Hon. Minister of Environment and Forests at his office in New Delhi.

Hunting of and trade in all Indian owl species is banned under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 of India.

While the exact number of owls traded each year countrywide is unknown, it certainly runs into thousands of individuals and there are anecdotal reports of owls becoming rare throughout India due to loss of suitable habitat especially old growth forests.

In light of such reports, TRAFFIC is calling for measures including better law enforcement to curb the trade in owls immediately.

TRAFFIC also calls for raising awareness of the beneficial and vital role of owls in the ecosystem, the birds being of particular benefit to farmers through their predation of rodents and other crop pests.
Read more:  Black magic behind illegal owl trade in India | WWF

Stem Cell Researchers Turn Skin into Blood, Could Treat Cancer & Other Ailments

Stem cell researchers turn skin into blood, could have far-reaching effects including the treatment of cancer, other ailments.

Mick Bhatia of the McMaster's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine authored a study which shows stem cell researchers found a way to turn a person's skin into blood. This groundbreaking process could be used to treat cancer and other ailments. According to the AFP, the method uses cells from a patch of a person's skin and transforms it into blood that is a genetic match, without using human embryonic stem cells, the study, which appeared in the journal Nature, said.
By avoiding the controversial and more complicated processes involved with using human embryonic stem cells to create blood, this approach simplifies the process, researchers said.

With the ability to create blood for transfusion from a person's own skin, the advance means someday patients needing blood for surgery or to treat anemia could bypass the blood bank and derive the necessary supply from themselves.

The breakthrough could also see future uses such as allowing patients undergoing chemotherapy to endure a longer regime of treatment without the breaks currently needed to rejuvenate the body. Researchers have been able to perform the skin-to-blood transformation in the past, but while using human pluripotent stem cells, widely known as embryonic stem cells.

Stem cells that are derived from human embryos hold significant promise for medical breakthroughs but also carry risks, such as the potential to create tumors. But researchers say their new method can create enough blood for a transfusion from a four by three centimeter (1.6 by 1.2 inch) patch of adult human skin, and can avoid those potential hurdles. Source: AFP
The study said clinical studies could start in 2012. This is groundbreaking and could advance cancer treatment in the near future. For all those people who say stem cell research shouldn't be undertaken, the scientists involved have accomplished a major feat that will have far-reaching effects.

Read more: Cellular 'alchemy' transforms skin into blood | Nature

World's Most Expensive Beer, Nail Ale, Brewed by Nail Brewery from Melted Ice from Antartica

World's most expensive beer auctioned for $800 is the Antarctic Nail Ale, made from melted ice from Antarctica.

Antarctic Nail Ale (Elitechoice.org)
Well, the world's most expensive beer is Antarctic Nail Ale. Brewed by Nail Brewing with ice brought back from the Antarctica, a bottle recently sold for $800 at a recent auction in Fremantle. All proceeds from the ale will go to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which will soon leave on their seventh campaign to stop Japanese killing whales in the Antarctic sanctuary.
According to Beer Advocate, the previous most expensive beer in the world was a $765 bottle of "The end of History" brewed by Brewdog's. In a high alcohol level beer brewing war earlier this year, Scottish brewery "Brewdog's" brewed eleven bottles of 55% Alc beer sold in animal carcasses.

Nail Brewing Australia's brewer John Stallwood says "It is great to sell the most expensive bottle of beer in the world but it is all about a good cause. It is also good that a beer about saving the whales is now most expensive beer in the world rather than high alcohol beer sold in animal carcasses. I think future beers that sell for over $800 won't just be unique but will also be for good causes.
Nail Ale, which is a limited edition beer, only 30 were bottled, was brewed at Edith Cowan University in Perth.  Brewer John Stallwood said, “Over 90% of beer is water, so the Antarctic Nail Ale could possibly be the world’s oldest and purest beer.”

Beetle Study Suggests "Battle of Sexes" Plays a Bigger Role in Evolution than Previously Thought

A new study of beetles by the Exeter, Okayama and Kyushu Universities recently published in Current Biology shows a genetic 'battle of the sexes' could be much harder to resolve and is even more integral to evolution than previously thought, according to Science Daily.
This battle, observed across many species and known as intralocus sexual conflict, happens when the genes for a trait which is good for the breeding success of one sex are bad for the other -- sparking an 'evolutionary tug-o-war' between the sexes.

It has previously been thought these issues were only resolved when the trait in question evolves to become sex-specific in its development -- meaning the trait only develops in the gender it benefits and stops affecting the other. An example of this is male peacocks' tails, used for mating displays, which are not present in females.

Professor Dave Hosken, from the Centre for Ecology & Conservation (Cornwall) at the University of Exeter, said: "This kind of genetic tussle is everywhere in biology. For example, in humans, male hips are optimised for physical activity, whereas female hips also need to allow child bearing. That's the sort of evolutionary conflict we're talking about, and these conflicts were previously thought to be resolved by sex-specific trait development. Source: Science Daily
This is very interesting and speaks volumes to why women seem to always win the battle of the sexes.