Fracking linked to higher hospitalisation rates

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University have found that people who live in areas near hydraulic fracturing are more likely to be hospitalised for heart conditions, neurological illnesses and cancer. The study appears in the scientific journal PLOS ONE and is one of a small, but growing number suggesting that the practice could be affecting human health. The study looked at hospitalisation rates between 2007 and 2011 comparing various areas within Pennsylvania and found that there was a significantly higher number of hospitalised patients in areas where fracking is carried out. The researchers summarised that, “hydraulic fracturing as determined by well number or density had a significant association with cardiology inpatient prevalence rates, while well density had a significant association with neurology inpatient prevalence rates.” Lead author Dr Reynold Panettieri, a professor of pulmonary medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said the study did not prove that fracking itself was causing the illnesses, but states it was suggestive. The researchers believe that the study “supports the concept that healthcare utilisation should be factored into the value (costs and benefits) of hydraulic fracturing over time.”

Access to nature is vital for mental health

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America has found that, “Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation.” More simply, walking in nature could lead to a lower risk of depression. The study found that people who walked in a natural area for 90 minutes showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression compared to the participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting. Co-author Gretchen Daily commented, “These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanising world.” As urbanisation, disconnection from nature and mental disorders, such as depression have grown dramatically, Daily believes these “findings can help inform the growing movement worldwide to make cities more liveable, and to make nature more accessible to all who live in them.”

US Government GM standards ‘outdated’— Monsanto's false claims over GM soybean safety

The team led by MIT-trained systems biologist, Dr VA Shiva Ayyadurai PhD, has found that “genetically engineered soy (the GMO) creates significant disruption to the levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, and glutathione, an important anti-oxidant necessary for cellular detoxification.” The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Agricultural Sciences and concludes: “The US government's current standards for safety assessment of GMOs, based on the principle of "substantial equivalence," is outdated and unscientific for genetically engineered food since it was originally developed for assessing the safety of medical devices in the 1970s.  The current criteria for assessing "equivalence" considers only basic nutritional and superficial characteristics such as taste, sight, smell and touch, for declaring GMOs safe for human consumption, allowing them to be fast-tracked to market without independent scientific testing.  If formaldehyde and glutathione were criteria, then the GMO would likely not be deemed "equivalent" to its non-GMO counterpart. This finding calls into question the FDA's food safety standards for the entire country.”

Other GM news finds Monsanto falsely claiming its genetically modified (GMO) Intacta Roundup Ready 2 Pro soybeans are safe when a new study from the Genok Centre for Biosafety says that they are not. The study, commissioned by the Norwegian Government, “examines a dossier submitted to the Brazilian government by Goliath transnational agribusiness Monsanto, and claims the compendium was badly flawed and lacked the data and cohorts necessary to authoritatively state GM crops are safe.”

Plans to release GM moths in Britain

Scientists have claimed that genetically engineered moths may be released in Britain soon to prevent devastating damage to broccoli and kale crops. The research was carried out at Oxford University’s spinoff, Oxitec, and has shown that releasing insects with tweaked genes to produce only male offspring causes populations to crash quickly, limiting damage from caterpillars. Indoor trials show that levels have been controlled within just eight weeks, and scientists are now set to carry out new outdoor trials in New York State after gaining approval from the US Department of Agriculture. GeneWatch UK claim the moths would be impossible to recall if anything went wrong but scientists said they were optimistic about the findings and future trials.

WHO expert confirms glyphosate is genotoxic

Earlier this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared glyphosate, the world’s most widely used weedkiller, as a “probable human carcinogen”. Now one of the co-authors of the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) report, Professor Christopher Portier, has reiterated the IARC’s conclusions, and said: “Glyphosate is definitely genotoxic. There is no doubt in my mind.” The Soil Association released new figures at a scientific briefing in London on 15 July 2015. The figures revealed that glyphosate use in UK farming has increased by 400% in the last 20 years and it’s one of the three pesticides regularly found in routine testing of British bread. They are now calling for a UK ban. Responding to the IARC conclusions, Claire Robinson from GMWatch said, “Outside the United Kingdom, the reaction to the WHO IARC report has been dramatic. Some retailers in Switzerland and Germany have removed Glyphosate products and France has committed to do so by 2018 and German states are calling for an EU wide ban. The Danish Working Environment Authority has declared it as a carcinogen and El Salvador and Sri Lanka have banned it and the Colombia government has banned aerial spraying on coca crops.” Isn’t it time that the UK — and all countries — followed suit?

Protect Freedom of Information (FOI) laws

UK campaigning community, 38 Degrees, have posted a petition asking for citizens to stand up for democracy. The government wants to restrict Freedom of Information (FOI) laws meaning that the truth will be even harder to come by. The petition states that, “Newspapers and several Conservative MPs have already spoken out against the plans. A huge people-powered petition - signed by hundreds of thousands of us - will add even more pressure on the government to scrap their idea.” Accountability and transparency are vital — keep democracy alive and sign the petition!


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