Posted by & filed under GMOs, Health & Disease.

Mosquitoes engineered with a jumping gene vector to express a DNA-cutting enzyme produce >95 % male offspring; unfortunately both enzyme and vector target genomes of diverse species from slime moulds to humans.

by Dr Mae Wan Ho

This commentary has been sent to the editors of the journal Nature Communications, inviting them and the researchers who have reported the creation of the new transgenic mosquitoes in the journal to reply.

A good trick but no consideration of risks

A team led by Andrea Crisanti at Imperial College London in the UK was widely reported to have made a breakthrough or even a ‘quantum leap’ in creating transgenic mosquitoes that could eradicate malaria [1]. Unfortunately, it is potentially the most hazardous genetically modified organism (GMO) to have been created, and should go no further from the laboratory. The researchers have not considered the risks involved, which would have been obvious from a casual review of existing literature.

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Posted by & filed under Economics, Society.

Is the government preparing to dispose of our forests and other public land?

Planning laws inhibit prosperity. That’s what we’re told by almost everyone. Those long and tortuous negotiations over what should be built where are a brake on progress. All the major parties and most of the media believe that we would be better off with less regulation, less discussion and more speed. Try telling that to the people of Spain and Ireland.

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, General, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Soil Rehabilitation, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

I believe that a revolution can begin from this one strand of straw. Seen at a glance, this rice straw may appear light and insignificant. Hardly anyone would believe that it could start a revolution. But I have come to realize the weight and power of this straw. For me, this revolution is very real. — Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution (1)

Under the guidance of Patrap C. Aggarwhal, the Friends’ Rural Centre (FRC) in India, part of a nationwide network of rural development co-operatives established over a century ago to support rural communities in a variety of ways, had experimented with revolutionary farming methods for approximately five years before their discovery of Fukuoka’s landmark work in 1983. Located outside Hoshangabad in Rasulia, Madhya Pradesh, for much of its long history the FRC had survived thanks to funding from abroad. By 1987, however, and for the first time in a century, the FRC was able to claim its independence from foreign aid. Consistently high levels of productivity coupled with drastic cuts in operating costs made for a decidedly viable concern. This, as Aggarwhal emphatically asserts, became possible as a direct result of implementing rishi kheti, or ‘natural farming of the sages’, as he dubbed the natural farming methods first reintroduced by Masanobu Fukuoka. “We practised rishi kheti at Rasulia for about eight years,” he writes. “I can state with full confidence that the community gained in every conceivable way.” (2)

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Urban Projects, Village Development.

Living in a large city does not mean you cannot live permaculturally. Indeed, it can be quite the opposite. While most permaculture pillars deal with designing your land, and your immediate environment, it is crucial to focus on the people aspect. A culture without an eclectic community of entities is a monoculture. Cities are the quintessential ground for polyculture….

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Posted by & filed under Courses/Workshops.

What: A course in permaculture design with Lisa DePiano, Jonathan Bates, Javiera Benavente, and friends
When: On weekends, staggered across September – December 2014
Where: Holyoke, MA, USA

Note: Early Bird Rate ends August 1st, save $250!

Be a part of a global movement to regenerate our communities and create the world we want to live in.

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Posted by & filed under Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Rehabilitation, Structure, Urban Projects.

Soil before and after

After ten years of learning from and collaborating with a mega-diverse, globally inspired, edible forest garden, new wonders are under foot. Paradise Lot, here in Holyoke, Massachusetts, USA, has a soil story to tell, and we are finally getting around to deciphering its wonders.

Since 2004, each year we installed a portion of our design of perennial polycultures of multi-purpose plants into sheet mulched garden beds. Although we knew adding copious amounts of carbon and nitrogen rich materials onto the nutrient poor, lifeless ground, would one day “bear fruit", we got real fruit and lots of it, along with fruit of another kind — humus.

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Posted by & filed under General.

This Saturday, June 21st, is the fourth annual International Ragweed Day. For those who are allergic to ragweed pollen, the various varieties of ragweed (Ambrosia ssp.) can be a real bane of life. When someone you care about is swollen up like an itchy tomato and popping antihistamines and decongestants just to get out of bed in the morning, you might be tempted to want to eradicate the plant entirely. But is it all bad?

From an ecological perspective, and particularly in the Americas where it is native, we must first think of ragweed’s significance as a food for wildlife — notably quail, but also including some now-rare butterflies and moths. However, for those of us living in cities and towns where these creatures rarely venture anyway, any value to hypothetical wildlife is moot. Some herbalists may be inclined to follow up on ethnobotanical evidence that the Cherokee used ragweed to cure insect bites and pneumonia.

But for the rest of us permaculturalists, I think the most exciting way to simultaneously dispose of ragweed and put it to use is as a compost activator, particularly in sheet mulches. I should say here that all of my experimentation has been done with giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida) and not with common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), for a few simple reasons: it’s more common here in eastern Kansas, it’s easier to spot at a distance, and it’s much easier to harvest in quantity. Given a good thick stand of the stuff, one person can fill a pickup truck with giant ragweed in an hour!

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Posted by & filed under Community Projects, Energy Systems, Society, Village Development.

The Earthworker Cooperative is a community-led initiative addressing two significant problems; the stark reality of climate change, and a lack of secure, dignified work in sustainable industries. Earthworker is responding to these issues by setting up an Australia-wide network of community-owned cooperatives in sustainable industries. This is beginning with Eureka’s Future – a worker-owned factory manufacturing high-quality solar hot water systems in Morwell, Victoria, in the heart of Australia’s coal-dominated Latrobe Valley.

The project is one attempt to move beyond the oftentimes paralysing jobs vs environment dichotomy. Forging unlikely alliances between trade unions, environmentalists, small manufacturers, power-station workers, and faith groups, the project is a powerful endeavour to revitalise local economies, address climate change, and assist a ‘just transition’ to clean renewable energy. While many acknowledge the need to move away from coal and towards sustainable industries, Earthworker is providing a tangible means to do this, while ensuring no one is left behind.

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Posted by & filed under Aid Projects, Community Projects, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Village Development.

A few generations ago Rusinga Island on Lake Victoria, Kenya, had lush green forest with many species of herbs and trees and the lake was clean with rich aquatic life. As the population grew, the trees were cut for fuel and the practice of modern farming has led to a degraded landscape and a polluted lake.

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Posted by & filed under Consumerism, General, Health & Disease.

The DIY medicine cabinet in full simplicity

It happened a bit more rapidly than I expected: One day my wife Emma read a list of horrors associated with fluoride and toothpaste, and by the evening, she’d sworn off store-bought toothpaste. In the weeks to come, I watched our other toiletries disappear. Realizing she was right, as is often the case with greener, kindlier things of the world, I soon followed suit. Over the next couple of months, we’d converted ourselves completely: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste and whatever else came up.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Deforestation, Health & Disease, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

Photo © Craig Mackintosh

At PermaEthos we are working hard to get our first flagship farm profitable and already thinking about the next few farms. We are working to teach Permaculture to as many people as we can and spread as much knowledge as we can as fast as we can. One reason we are doing this is the true environmental catastrophes that are modern agriculture and modern home “lawn care”. These two activities release more toxins into our environment every year than many more feared types of pollution. They damage soil ecosystems and harm animals of every size and shape from microbes to humans.

Of all of these chemicals it has been insecticides, and, more specifically, nicotinoids that have been implicated as being at least a factor in CCD, or colony collapse disorder. Now before a I proceed I want to state that I love honey bees. I am a new bee keeper myself and want as many people keeping bees as we can get. I say that because the next thing I am going to tell you is, as far as food productivity in North America goes, it should not matter if not a single honey bee existed here. In truth we should not ‘need’ honey bees at all in the US — now we do, don’t misunderstand me, I am simply saying we should not need them in order to have productive farms and permaculture systems. Hear me out because if you don’t already know what I am about to tell you, then you are about to understand how bad things really are perhaps for the first time.

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Posted by & filed under Biodiversity, Community Projects, Deforestation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss.

At the eleventh hour, even as the coal miner’s dozers clawed and smashed their way through our precious local forest, we won an amazing reprieve.

We went to the Land and Environment Court seeking an urgent stay of execution for Leard State Forest – a place that has been the backdrop of my life, from my childhood right through to today.

And we won!

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