KC GlobeNews JULY 2003 Bio-Eco-Net Special Vol.4, No.7-8

Current events, trends, travel, politics, eco and tech topics.

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Biotechnology companies often claim that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) -- specifically genetically altered seeds -- are essential scientific breakthroughs needed to feed the world, protect the environment, and reduce poverty in developing countries.

This view rests on two critical assumptions, both of which we question. The first is that hunger is due to a gap between food production and human population density or growth rate. The second is that genetic engineering is the only or best way to increase agricultural production and thus meet future food needs.

We challenge the notion of biotechnology as a magic bullet solution to all of agriculture's ills, by clarifying misconceptions concerning these underlying assumptions.

1. There is no relationship between the prevalence of hunger in a given country and its population.
2. Most innovations in agricultural biotechnology have been profit-driven rather than need-driven.
3. The integration of the seed and chemical industries appears destined to accelerate increases in per acre expenditures for seeds plus chemicals, delivering significantly lower returns to growers.
4. Recent experimental trials have shown that genetically engineered seeds do not increase the yield of crops.
5. Many scientists claim that the ingestion of genetically engineered food is harmless. Recent evidence however shows that there are potential risks of eating such foods
6. Transgenic plants which produce their own insecticides closely follow the pesticide paradigm, which is itself rapidly failing due to pest resistance to insecticides.
7. The global fight for market share markets is leading companies to massively deploy transgenic crops around the world without proper advance testing of short- or long-term impacts on human health and ecosystems.
8. There are many unanswered ecological questions regarding the impact of transgenic crops.
9. As the private sector has exerted more dominance in advancing new biotechnologies, the public sector has had to invest a growing share of its resources in enhancing biotechnological capacities in public institutions and in evaluating and responding to the challenges posed by incorporating private sector technologies into existing farming systems.
10. Although there may be some useful applications of biotechnology (i.e. the breeding drought resistant varieties or crops resistant to weed competition),because these desirable traits are polygenic and difficult to engineer, these innovations will take at least l0 years to be ready for field use.

Source: Miguel A. Altieri, UC Berkeley and Peter Rosset, Food First

Read the complete article here:



So-called socially responsible funds used to mean a clean conscience but lackluster returns. That's no longer true.

According to financial research firm Lipper, so-called socially responsible funds have performed about in line with regular diversified equity funds over the past three-year and five-year periods. Because of that, people who want to keep their money in the market but still sleep well at night have been voting with their dollars.

Just last year, at a time when investors withdrew nearly $10.5 billion from diversified U.S. equity funds, they added $1.5 billion to socially responsible investing (SRI) funds.

There are some decided advantages to these investments. A big one is the amount of research behind them. Portfolio managers in the category typically apply rigorous environmental and social screens to their companies, and because of that the fund companies need to do a lot more qualitative research. Result? They get to know their portfolio companies extremely well.

One caution, though, is that "green" can mean different things to different managers. Defense contractors are almost always ruled out, as are cigarette manufacturers and companies that make alcoholic beverages. But beyond those obvious categories the rules become a lot more subjective. For example, some managers will not invest in pharmaceutical firms because of their history of polluting, while others try to applaud their efforts to clean up the industry.

Because of all the variables and differing approaches, green investing can be maze like for newcomers.

To make your life easier, we've selected a couple of investments that any environmentally conscious investor--in fact, any investor--would be happy to own.

To learn more about these funds visit their website or read the full article in FSB (see link below).

Stock Fund
Parnassus Equity Income (parnassus.com)

Bond Fund
Calvert Social Investment Bond (calvertgroup.com)

Stock and Bond Fund
Pax World Balanced Fund (paxfund.com)

Index Fund
Vanguard Calvert Social Index Fund (calvertgroup.com)

Hedge Fund
Green Cay Asset Management (greencayasset.com)

Private Asset Management
Walden Asset Management (waldenassetmgmt.com)

Angel Investing
Investors' Circle (investorscircle.net)

Fortune Small Business article "Is It Finally Time to Invest Green?"

[Thanks Jenn!]

1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening,
whatever. Never let the brain idle. " An idle mind is the devil's
workshop," And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is
with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets,
keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable,
improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to

a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.


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[Thanks Cori!]

The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals.

Just go to their site and click on "feed an animal in need" for free. Or better yet, bookmark it to your Favorites list and make a habit of clicking on it every day when you turn your computer on.

This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange
for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.


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30 years ago scientists discovered that common industrial gases were destroying Earth's protective ozone layer. In 1974 Sherwood Rowland of UC Irvine and Mario Molina of MIT published the first powerful evidence of the impending danger.

They discovered that the ozone layer was under attack from chemical-based compounds called chlorinated fluorocarbons or CFCs which were used as aerosol gases or refrigerants. These substances have gradually been phased out under a 1987 UN treaty, the Montreal Protocol.

Now satellite readings and ground observations show for the first time that the dangerous rate of ozone loss is finally slowing.

CFCs last from 45 to 100 years in the atmosphere. So even if the rate of growth in the ozone holes continues slowing, it will take at least 40 or 50 years before all the ozone depletion stops and recovery begins.

Ozone hole 'could be stabilising'

Ozone hole 'set to shrink'

Hints of ozone recovery spotted

There is a parallel universe, and a lucky group of academics and corporate R&D types are lucky enough to live there. It is known as Internet2, or I2, and it is a place where speeds are up to 1,000 times faster, vast datasets can be moved like virtual feathers, and there are no pop-up ads.

Internet2 is actually two things. Specifically, it is an organization -- a not-for-profit consortium of more than 200 U.S. universities and scores of big-name companies that are working together on the development of a faster, cooler information superhighway. Internet2 is also the name of the network itself -- a virtual land where activities that seem incredible to most people are taking place every day.

Last month, for example, a group of poets scattered across the U.S. joined via I2 videoconferencing to perform a live, 90-minute poetry reading as a dedication to Columbia University professor and poet Kenneth Koch (1925-2002). Internet2 has enabled a Washington, D.C., surgeon to direct a gall bladder operation in Columbus, Ohio. And symphony orchestras in Miami and Atlanta have been able to practice together in real-time.

Touch Me, Heal Me

Remember the Star Trek holodeck? Internet2 creates a similar collaborative experience through the use of "haptics," a remote feedback technology that lets participants "touch" things that might be on the other side of the globe. They get the shape, texture and density of the object through the computer. This nifty feature is useful for things like distance learning and telemedicine.

Say there are only a handful of doctors capable of performing a new procedure. I2 allows them to share their knowledge. In fact, their precise hand movements can be captured by a computer so that students can retrace them as though they are putting on a magic glove.

Some of the new technologies that I2 researchers are playing with include IPv6, or Internet Protocol Version 6; multicasting; and quality of service (QoS) -- all of which provide a level of efficiency that will enable radical new advances in applications. Imagine an entire library housed online. Or a virtual laboratory where a scientific team in Australia could work on a nuclear-physics experiment shoulder-to-shoulder with its counterparts in the U.S. Those are no longer science-fiction concepts -- the future is here.

The Long Horizon

The Internet2 consortium started out in 1996 as an effort among 34 universities and numerous corporate research labs. Internet2-connected universities have committed more than US$80 million per year in new investments on campuses since then, and corporate members have committed upwards of $30 million so far. Internet2 institutions also receive funding via grants from the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.

"Experimentation wasn't possible on the commercial Internet," said Internet2 spokesperson Greg Wood in a recent interview with NewsFactor. "There's a need to have a place where the long horizon can foster new technologies to be used in high-performance networks."

High performance is crucial for Internet2 because its major selling point is a lack of network constraints -- freedom from the performance bottlenecks that can cripple applications on the commercial Internet. "In the Internet2 environment, the network is no longer in the way," Wood said. "There are issues about optimizing end-to-end performance, but it's almost never the case that the backbone network is the problem."

At roughly the same time that Internet2 began forming, the U.S. government began its own project called Next Generation Internet. That initiative has basically the same goals as Internet2 but is centered around the needs of government agencies, such as the Department of Defense and NASA. The two projects share data.

>From Cave to Stars

Internet 2 recently linked some 500 educators and students located in Seattle and Virginia, allowing them to participate in a live, virtual classroom. Teachers and students were able to interact from coast to coast. Virginia Tech associate professor of engineering Ron Kriz recently spoke with NewsFactor about the tele-immersion project, known as Cave Automatic Virtual Environment, or CAVE.

Unlike the aforementioned fictional holodeck, objects in the virtual environment cannot actually be physically handled, he explained. "The effects are all visual. You feel like you're in the middle of it. You can stick your head in an object. The walls effectively disappear, and stereo objects feel like they're right there, and they're projected to infinity," Kriz said.

Perhaps no field will benefit from Internet2 more than astronomy, with its monumental data-processing requirements. One of I2's stellar projects is the creation of a link between a sophisticated telescope located at the Gemini Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and its twin, on Cerro Pachon in the Chilean Andes. Astronomers now can see the skies in the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously in real-time.

"Because Gemini is a single observatory with two telescopes, it is especially useful to us," Gemini spokesperson Peter Michaud told NewsFactor last year. The Gemini linkage, under development for five years, is just one example of how computing and adaptive optics processing are advancing the field of astronomy. "Because of computer processing power, we can now produce images from the ground that are several times sharper than what is possible with the Hubble Space Telescope," Michaud said.

The Next New World

Though the possibilities for I2 are boundless, what is still a ways off is the means of meshing this parallel universe with today's relatively mundane online world. Experts agree that the I2 revolution will not become apparent to the average cyber citizen for several years -- at least -- but they are quietly preparing the groundwork for a system that does not replicate the Wild West character of the first Internet.

The driving concept behind the standards discussions is the achievement of a balance between regulation and openness. "The Internet so far has been sort of chaotic in its adoption," said John Muleta, executive vice president of OI Systems, in a webcast. "I2 is an evolving set of standards" designed to be as flexible and agile as the new Internet itself. "We don't want to go to the point where it's codified through some kind of legislation or statute," Muleta said.

Source: Ellen Powell, www.NewsFactor.com

If you haven't seen a GM Hummer hogging the road somewhere then you're probably living far from any major intersection.

As the poster child for overconsumption and utter disdain for the environment the GM Hummer has given birth to parody websites such as this one brought to you by the Sierra Club:


Thanks to all who wrote in! And to everyone else, speak up!

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Various versions of this email are making the rounds... whoever started this is a real wacko!


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If your vendor turns out to be reliable, I owe you $5,000.

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