Love is no stranger to Los Angeles based artist Amanda Oleander, who is a highly accomplished illustrator and fine artist. She has created a series of illustrations that showcase what it’s like to be madly in love with someone, and how that love transforms over time in a long-term relationship. According to her biography at amandaoleander.com, she became an international sensation after her illustrations were featured in E! Entertainment, working as their very first in-house illustrator.
Let us then explore what has made Amanda’s view on love so unique with her illustrations that can be found on her amazing Instagram account (@amandaoleander).
The post The Unspoken Side Of Long Term Relationships Revealed In Honest Illustrations appeared first on Femalista.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A coalition of farming, consumer, and environmental groups delivered 97,325 public comments to the Department of Justice today, urging the agency to reject the Bayer (BAYN) and Monsanto (MON) merger. The agency closes its comment period today regarding its conditional approval of the merger.
The groups argue the merger threatens competition and innovation in our food system, compromises the future sustainability of agriculture, and harms farmers, agricultural workers and consumers. Regardless of the divestitures DOJ is requiring of Bayer, the merger could significantly reduce farmer seed choice, decrease quality and diversity of seeds, and increase prices.
The groups, including Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Farm Aid, Family Farm Defenders, Consumer Federation of America and ActionAid USA, are delivering 97,325 comments signed by farmers and people across the country urging the agency to reverse its decision and reject this merger.
“This toxic mega-merger would be disastrous for people, pollinators, and the planet,” said Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner, Friends of the Earth. “It’s critical that the Department of Justice prioritize the interests of farmers and consumers over the pesticide industry, and reject this disastrous merger.”
“Since the Department of Justice has given its blessing to the Bayer-Monsanto merger, three seed companies will, in effect, control the majority of seed germplasm and seed markets in the US, and a significant portion of those markets throughout the industrialized world. The DOJ may as well stop wasting time on merger reviews- and be up-front about the fact that they have absolutely no problem with corporate mergers and market consolidation further undermining the ability of farmers to access non-genetically engineered seed in a competitive marketplace,” said Jim Goodman, board president and organic dairy and beef farmer, National Family Farm Coalition.
“Ultimately this merger leads to less competition, less innovation, and higher prices for farmer inputs. This couldn’t come at a worse time for our farmers who are dealing with dropping farm incomes for a fifth straight year and with massive uncertainty in world trade,” said Aaron Lehman, president, Iowa Farmers Union.
“No matter how you cut it, a Bayer/Monsanto merger spells higher costs for farmers and locks in the chemical-heavy agricultural practices that threaten our health and the bees and other pollinators critical to food security” said Daniel Raichel, an attorney with the Nature Program at NRDC. “The Department needs to reverse course and block the merger before we all suffer the consequences.”
“A diverse diet is as important for pollinators as it is for humans. Allowing this merger will limit the diversity of seeds for farmers, who rely on diversity of crops for a profitable farm. Limiting seed types or crops to those that can withstand drenching by pesticides will expand the toxic forage for pollinators, and destroy the natural, diverse food that science has shown supports the health of pollinators,” said Michele Colopy, program director, Pollinator Stewardship Council.
“The Justice Department is missing an important opportunity here to stand up for competition in an increasingly uncompetitive market,” said Mark Cooper, senior fellow, Consumer Federation of America. “Bayer and Monsanto have used their control over chokepoints in the supply chain to stifle competition. By binding traits, seeds, and chemicals, these companies are able to misuse intellectual property to the detriment of competition and consumers. The proposed merger would fuel even more abuse.”
“Our food and farming system is in crisis because it is dominated by a handful of agribusiness companies,” said Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, campaigner, ActionAid USA. “They use their immense power not only to control markets and squeeze farmers but also to control policies. They are pushing a destructive model of agriculture and false solutions like biofuels which may actually be making climate change worse.”
An overwhelming majority of farmers surveyed across the country oppose the Bayer-Monsanto merger, with 93% expressing concern that it will have a negative impact on independent farmers and farming communities. A poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 9 in 10 Americans have serious concerns about the merger. Nearly 325 consumer, farmer, and environmental groups oppose it, and more than 1 million Americans have signed petitions calling on DOJ to block it.
DOJ appears intent on downplaying this overwhelming public opposition, even making it difficult to submit public comments to the Department. Representatives from the organizations were not allowed to deliver in person the over 1 million comments to the DOJ back in November 2017, and in order to meet today’s deadline, all public comments needed to be sent by mail and needed to be received – not postmarked – by today’s deadline.
Communications Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, email@example.com
Their plan: try to understand what happens to carbon as it sinks from the well-lit surface of the ocean down to the dimmer “twilight zone.”
Elephants, found in both Africa and Asia, are vital to maintaining the rich biodiversity of the ecosystems that they share with other species.
WWF focuses its conservation efforts on saving the world’s largest mammal in sites across both continents. We work with wildlife managers, governments and local communities to stop poaching, reduce human-wildlife conflict and improve monitoring and research.
Here’s a look at some interesting elephant facts.
1. How many muscles does an elephant trunk have?
An elephant trunk has up to 40,000 muscles in it. A human has more than 600 muscles in his/her entire body. Elephants use their trunks to pick up objects, trumpet warnings and greet one another.
2. What’s the difference between Asian and African elephants?
There are more than 10 physical characteristics that differentiate Asian and African elephants. For example, Asian elephants are smaller than their African brethren, and their ears are straight at the bottom, distinct from the large fan-shaped ears of the African species. Only some male Asian elephants have tusks, while African elephants—both male and female—grow tusks.
3. Do elephants have a dominant tusk?
Elephants are either left- or right-tusked, and the dominant tusk is generally smaller because of wear and tear from frequent use.
4. How often do elephants give birth?
Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal—22 months. Females give birth every four to five years. Matriarchs also dominate the complex social structure of elephants and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation or in small bachelor groups.
5. How do elephants help their ecosystem thrive?
Elephants are important ecosystem engineers. Many tree species in central African and Asian forests rely on seeds passing through an elephant’s digestive tract before they can germinate.
6. What’s the most urgent threat to elephants?
Today, the greatest threat to African elephants is wildlife crime, primarily poaching for the illegal ivory trade, while the greatest threat to Asian elephants is habitat loss and resulting human-elephant conflict. WWF uses our expertise in policy, wildlife trade, advocacy, and communications in an effort to stop wildlife crime and illegal ivory trade, reduce human-elephant conflict, and protect elephant habitats. You can help, too, by signing on to stop wildlife crime.
7. How does WWF help humans and elephants peacefully coexist?
As wild spaces shrink, elephants and humans are forced into contact and often clash. WWF helps prevent and mitigate elephant-human conflict through various programs, including electric fences to protect crops and trained response teams to safely drive wild elephants away from farms and human habitation.
Week to week, their names and professions vary, changing to fit the different surroundings and people they move between. They’re the chameleons of the rain forest.
“I watch a lot of James Bond movies,” one of them jokes.
The men in question can’t be named or pictured, because they’re undercover investigators for a deforestation watchdog group called Eyes on the Forest (EoF). And they’re routinely putting their safety on the line to protect Thirty Hills, one of the last great swaths of rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Since the 1980s, Sumatra has been clearing its forests at a breakneck pace, largely for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Eyes on the Forest was founded in 2004 in Riau Province–the epicenter of the deforestation–to expose that destruction to the world.
The group has since become legendary. Through detective work, photography, satellite imagery, and, more recently, drone footage, EoF has produced a slew of investigative reports detailing Sumatra’s deforestation, as well as the political and corporate corruption driving it.
Their investigations have helped land six Indonesian government officials in jail, including a former governor of Riau Province. EoF reports were key to a campaign against Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the world’s largest paper companies with a deforestation legacy of more than 2 million hectares, that forced APP to pledge to stop pulping tiger habitat to make toilet paper. Google lent them assistance to develop a cutting-edge online map that tracks deforestation and deforestation drivers like APP. Eyes on the Forest uses satellite imagery NASA provides freely to the public and WWF-Indonesia is a part of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s science initiative to test their radar satellite images.
EoF’s investigations have long focused on Sumatra’s Riau Province. In 2014, the group expanded its network to Borneo as several NGOs established a consortium; and in 2015 the network was redeveloped as Kalimantan’s Eyes on the Forest network. In 2016, EoF was asked to open a new network in Sumatra’s Jambi Province, to monitor loss of the vulnerable forests of Thirty Hills.
“WWF-Indonesia and partners had just secured a concession there to protect a big chunk of forest outside Thirty Hills National Park,” says Jan Vertefeuille, head of wildlife conservation advocacy for WWF-US. “And we believed that encroachers had cleared some of the forest in the concession while we were waiting to get the license. Eyes on the Forest brought the model they developed in Riau for use in monitoring the concession.”
In March 2016, with support from a handful of office-based staff, four EoF investigators began exploring Thirty Hills in disguise. They quickly discovered a number of encroachments in the forest concession; the biggest was a 3,200-acre palm oil plantation. “We heard about that one through a local informant,” says Nursamsu, EoF’s founder and coordinator. “Based on what we found, we believe a village leader hostile to WWF ‘sold’ it to a powerful individual in Jakarta.”
Thanks to that discovery, PT. Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT), the company that WWF-Indonesia and partners started to manage the concession, has filed a police complaint against the plantation owner. Meanwhile, EoF’s investigators continue to patrol other parts of the concession undercover.
It’s dangerous work. In 2007 during a patrol in Riau’s Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the investigators was attacked by angry mob, kidnapped, and held hostage by an encroacher. “The encroacher and his men beat me and the others with me, and then took me to his house,” he says. “It took six hours for us to be released.”
Despite that experience, the investigator says he’s as committed as ever to protecting Thirty Hills and Sumatra’s other forests. Plus, he likes his job. “You have to think on your feet and blend into different settings and situations. You have to adapt quickly to new things,” he says of his work. “I enjoy that.”
BOSTON – The Massachusetts legislature failed to pass legislation yesterday that would restrict the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. H. 4041, An Act to Protect Massachusetts Pollinators, would have restricted the use of neonics to licensed pesticide applicators only.
Jason Davidson, Food and Agriculture Campaign Associate at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:
Bees and other essential pollinators are dying off at alarming rates, and harmful insecticides are largely to blame. It is extremely disappointing to see the Massachusetts legislature ignore this devastating problem and fail to pass this much-needed bill. These common sense restrictions on neonics would have been a boon for the environment and food system of Massachusetts. The legislature has ignored the support and expertise of more than 180 scientists, businesses, beekeepers, farmers and conservationists who formally endorsed this bill.
The failure of the state legislature comes after Massachusetts beekeepers lost 65 percent of their honeybee hives last year, a rate 25 percent higher than the national average. Thousands of scientific studies implicate neonicotinoids as a key contributor to these declines.
During the legislative session, more than 100 Massachusetts scientists and academics sent a letter to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture in support of H. 4041. However, the clock ran out at midnight, July 31, when the legislative session came to an end.
Communications Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four major brands of children’s sunscreen products sold across the U.S. contain engineered nanoparticles, according to laboratory results released today by Friends of the Earth U.S. Nanoparticles were found in Aveeno® Baby Natural Protection®, Banana Boat® Kids, Neutrogena® Pure and Free® Baby and Thinksport Kid’s Safe sunscreen.
Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles are widely used in sunscreens due to their transparent appearance. The size and chemical characteristics of nanomaterials can potentially create unique and unpredictable human health and environmental risks.
“Potentially hazardous nanomaterials shouldn’t be used in sunscreens or other products ahead of safety assessment, oversight and labeling, especially those intended for children,” said Ian Illuminato, senior health and environment campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S. “Consumers must be empowered to make healthy decisions for their families and to avoid exposure to chemicals that put them at risk. Companies should make information on nanoparticle ingredients used in their products available to the public and avoid using these ingredients in children’s products. Our government should test and require approval for these products before commercialization.”
The unique properties of nanomaterials, including tiny size and vastly increased surface area to volume ratio, have enticed manufacturers to experiment with these ingredients in hundreds of consumer products including sunscreens, cosmetics, baby formula and other food products.
Often, nanoparticles have made it into these products without mandatory safety assessment, regulation or labeling. While Europe already requires the safety testing and labeling of nano-ingredients in sunscreens, the U.S. has yet to follow suit.
Friends of the Earth’s review of consumer products has found that nanoparticles have entered just about every category of personal care product on the market, including deodorant, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, hair conditioner, sunscreen, anti-wrinkle cream, moisturizer, foundation, face powder, lipstick, blush, eye shadow, nail polish, perfume and after-shave lotion. We have also found nanoparticles of concern in other children’s products including baby formula, see Friends of the Earth U.S. report “Nanoparticles in Baby Formula: Tiny New Ingredients are a Big Concern.”
Read more about the risks of nanosunscreens and recommendations for companies, regulators and consumers in the report Nanoparticles in Children’s Sunscreen: 2018 test results, health concerns and recommendations for parents, companies and regulators.
The post Children’s sunscreen contains hidden nanoparticle ingredients, new testing finds appeared first on Friends of the Earth.
- July 26 is International Mangrove Day, dedicated to the unique forests that survive at the interface of land, river and sea.
- Mangroves protect coastlines from storm surges, filter out pollutants, and are home to a wide array of diverse life.
- However, mangroves have declined rapidly around the world, losing out to shrimp farms, tourist resorts, agricultural and urban land over the past decades.
- What does the disappearance of this special forest ecosystem mean for our planet? Experts respond.
The tsunami that struck Southeast and South Asia in late 2004 killed nearly 230,000 people and destroyed villages, towns and cities across 14 countries. But some affected areas escaped the massive devastation that other regions saw — thanks to healthy mangroves dotting their coastline and acting as protective barriers.
Sitting at the edge of land and sea, mangroves are unique in many ways. The mangrove trees and shrubs form dense forests, their special, intertwining roots helping them survive in the saline and brackish waters they call home. These forests are skilled at filtering pollutants from river water. They are adept at trapping excess sediment before it reaches the ocean. They are also carbon powerhouses, a tract of mangrove locking away many times more carbon in the soil than a similarly sized area of rainforest. Moreover, mangrove swamps are important nurseries for several fish species, and support a massive diversity of wildlife, including tigers, crocodiles, otters, turtles and several species of birds and insects.
Given all that mangroves do, it is unsurprising that the forests have a special day dedicated to them: July 26, International Mangrove Day. However, mangroves have declined rapidly around the world, losing out to shrimp farms, tourist resorts, agricultural and urban land over the past decades.
What does the disappearance of this special forest ecosystem mean for our planet? This is what some mangrove experts have to say.
Catherine E. Lovelock, professor of biological sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia
Without mangroves we would all be diminished and many people would suffer. It’s a dismal scenario that includes coasts with barren, unproductive shores, collapsed fisheries, turbid, polluted water, little protection for communities from severe weather events and sea level rise and loss of many types of animals and plants. It would be a world without mangrove tigers, mangrove honeyeaters, mud crabs or mangrove mud whelks. While these losses are felt most intensely by communities that have removed or degraded their mangroves, they ultimately affect all of us through reduced food security, enhanced migration, and increased potential for conflict.
Losses of mangroves also release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, arising from destruction of their biomass and the release of the large carbon stocks held in their soils. This affects all of us on the planet as it contributes to global warming, further accelerating global climatic change.
Protection and restoration of the mangroves that we have already lost or degraded should have the highest priority because of the benefits to people, biodiversity and the planet. In my country, Australia, restoring the mangroves and other coastal wetlands will benefit the iconic Great Barrier Reef, improving water quality and fisheries. In other countries where I work, for example Myanmar, conserving and restoring mangroves is critical for the health of the communities of the Irrawaddy Delta who rely on the mangrove for their livelihoods and security. If we all attend to the conservation and restoration of mangroves not only will local communities benefit, but the global community will benefit by increasing the carbon sink of the coastal zone, helping to limit global warming.
Beth Polidoro, associate professor at Arizona State University and co-chair of marine fishes, Red List Authority, IUCN
Mangroves are important habitat-forming species at the interface of freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. As such, they provide a number of critical ecosystem services including protection from coastal erosion and storm damage, natural filters for pollution and sediment, carbon sequestration, and critical habitat for a wide variety of species, including nursing grounds for many coastal fishes. It is estimated that 80 percent of global fish catches are directly or indirectly dependent on mangroves. A world without mangroves would likely mean a world with fewer fishes, more coastal damage, and unknown ecosystem and public health consequences related to changes in pollutant, sediment and carbon cycles.
Norman Duke, professorial research fellow, mangrove hub, James Cook University, Australia
Love them or hate them, we all depend on mangroves and tidal wetlands. They have been the quiet achievers that have somehow adapted to fit among our everyday lives. Facing the sea and bordering river and stream estuaries, these habitats offer essential services that will be sorely missed when they are further diminished. But our communities are driven by short-term gain in alternate land uses, and detrimental pollution. There appears to be little regard for the advantages provided by natural ecosystems because they have rarely been valued in our terms. After all, their services have been provided for free. Why should we now pay for these benefits? And this is the nut of the current dilemma. Tidal wetlands are highly threatened by both an expanding global footprint of human development, coupled with rapid alterations to the world’s climate. The world we live in is fast changing and the natural environments must adapt and adjust to survive!
The challenge is to convince people that mangroves are useful, and healthy natural environments are good for them! One seemingly rational approach has been to give a fiscal value to natural places. But that is not easy. While we can relatively easily place a dollar value on the support and harboring of local and nearshore commercial fisheries by mangroves, what about recreational values? There are many major environmental benefits that usually go under the fiscal radar. That means we are grossly undervaluing such natural places. For mangroves, these benefits include shoreline protection and mitigation of waterways troubled by severe flooding and violent storms, plus their acknowledged extreme capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere — five greater than other forested places. And each of these things is increasingly threatened already as the climate changes.
And, of course, perhaps the greatest threat of all is rapidly rising sea levels. The effects on shoreline and estuarine places will be, and already is, extreme and devastating for natural environments as well as human society. How do we put a value on shoreline places?
At the end of the day, we know it will be immense — so does it really matter how much it is? The only way forward, it seems, is to better inform and educate human communities. This is our greatest and most urgent challenge!
While the public perception of tidal habitats remains divided, these valuable places are rapidly being removed and damaged beyond recognition, and diminished benefits. The question is, can these habitats cope?! And is there enough time for them to adapt? Our best available evidence suggests they are not coping well! The squeeze is real, with accumulative pressures of ever-increasing human populations, resource demands and development combined with the progressive impacts of changing climate and rising sea levels. These are impacts never known on Earth before. There seems little reason for optimism!
So my message is all about promoting better awareness and education. People don’t have to love mangroves to appreciate their value. Mangrove natural habitats really need our greater understanding and help at this time.
Majestic mangroves — healthy humans!
Gabby Ahmadia, lead marine scientist at the World Wildlife Fund
Although mangroves are an invasive species in Hawaii where I grew up, the more I learn about them, the more I appreciate them. They are often the stepchild of marine conservation — as they are muddy and buggy and hard to maneuver in — and ownership gets confused or lost as they straddle the land and sea. But their benefits outweigh a few mosquito bites and dirty boots — from their roles as nursery habitats to coastal protection to carbon storage. Unfortunately, global mangrove loss is occurring at an alarming rate. This not only has negative impacts for coastal communities and fisheries health, but also contributes disproportionally to climate change as the deep, sprawling roots of mangroves that make it hard to walk around and trap all the mud are also important for trapping carbon.
I’ve been to fancy hotels on beaches for meetings that used to be mangrove forests. I’ve seen endless aquaculture ponds from airplanes — many that are no longer viable, that used to be mangrove forests. We need to do better.
Of all coastal ecosystems, mangrove conservation has some of the greatest potential in terms of return on investment. While I would never argue for just conserving one type of coastal ecosystem, mangroves do provide some “easier” wins. If done right, mangrove restoration is a viable option that can be done at scale. They have higher adaptive capacity mangroves as they are less vulnerable to climate change. And the potential to include mangrove conservation in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to address climate change should be a motivator for governments.
Conservation of mangroves is a sound investment, and bringing partners together to tackle this global issue is critical. We need to bring our knowledge, creativity and expertise together to be smarter about how we can shift mangrove trajectories in a more positive direction globally. As one step toward this effort, WWF and partners have formed a Global Mangrove Alliance for concerted conservation action for global impacts.
Dan Friess, associate professor and head of the mangrove lab at the National University of Singapore
If mangroves disappeared we would lose a key resource for hundreds of millions of people across the tropics and subtropics. Mangroves provide so many ecosystem services to coastal communities and beyond; fisheries, fuel and timber, medicinal products, coastal protection, and numerous cultural and spiritual services. These would be almost impossible to replace.
Luckily, a world without mangroves isn’t something we are going to see any time soon. Global mangrove deforestation rates have declined substantially since the 1980s — we are not losing them as fast as we used to, though there are some countries that still continue to destroy their mangroves rapidly. This is in part due to changes in industries and deforestation drivers (e.g. the intensification of aquaculture) but also because stakeholders and governments are now seeing the real value of mangroves and improving their conservation and restoration. There are many dedicated local communities, researchers, NGOs and government representatives working toward the better protection of this important ecosystem. We are still losing too much mangrove area, but I’m cautiously optimistic.
Alfredo Quarto, program & policy director/co-founder of the Mangrove Action Project
“If there are no mangroves, then the sea will have no meaning. It’s like a tree with no roots, for the mangroves are the roots of the sea!” — Quote by Mad-Ha Ranwasii, a Thai fisherman and village headman, 1992.
Mangroves are the rainforests by the sea. Mangrove forests fringe large stretches of the subtropical and tropical coastlines of Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Now, less than 15 million hectares (58,000 square miles) remain — less than half the original area. Mangrove forests are vital for healthy coastal ecosystems in many regions of the world. These forest wetlands support an immense array of marine and coastal life, serving as vital fish nurseries, nesting and feeding grounds for migratory birds, last stands for Bengal tigers and lemurs and a wide variety of other mammals including manatees and proboscis monkeys, and a myriad of insects and reptiles, including sea turtles and saltwater crocodiles. Mangroves also support the health and productivity of coral reefs and seagrass beds. In addition, mangroves play an important, life-supporting role for countless traditional coastal communities and indigenous peoples who depend on mangroves for life and livelihoods.
Yet mangroves are one of the most threatened habitats on Earth, with an annual loss outpacing other tropical rainforests. Their disappearance is primarily due to clearing for shrimp aquaculture, timber and fuelwood extraction, charcoal production, urban and agriculture expansion, pollution, coastal road construction, and other industrial and infrastructure developments. Cleared forests and degraded wetlands are turned into shrimp ponds, oil ports, tourist hotels, golf courses and marinas. Today, it is imperative to counter these losses. This is one of the challenges taken up by Mangrove Action Project since its founding in 1992.
The importance of the protective mangrove buffer zone cannot be overstated. Mangroves are living buffers against the forces of storms and waves that can otherwise devastate a coastline. In regions where these coastal fringe forests have been cleared, tremendous problems of erosion and siltation have arisen, and terrible losses to human life and property have occurred due to destructive hurricanes, storm surges and tsunamis. Today there is a growing urgency to recognize the importance of conserving and restoring protective mangrove greenbelts to lessen the dangers from future catastrophes, because as oceans warm and sea levels rise, so will the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and storm surges.
Mangroves now are also recognized for their important role in combating climate change, sequestering up to five times more carbon than other forest ecosystems, storing that carbon in their peat soils for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Because nearly half of humankind today lives in cities and settlements located along the now more vulnerable coasts, and because many industries such as aquaculture are situated along these same coasts, climate change and consequent sea level rise cannot be ignored. Shrimp aquaculture, which plays a significant role in the so-called “Blue Revolution,” has been and still is one of the greatest threats to mangroves. Current examples of such threats can be found today in Malaysia’s Pitas mangroves of Sabah, or the remaining mangrove areas of Honduras, Myanmar and Indonesia, where new shrimp farms continue to encroach upon primary and degraded mangrove wetlands. With the increasing threat of climate change looming over our planet, the ongoing clearing of mangroves for shrimp production, or for whatever other reasons, must now be perceived in an entirely new caution light.
Seeking the most effective path toward long-term mangrove conservation and recovery, Mangrove Action Project (MAP) promotes the concept and practice of community-based ecological mangrove restoration (CBEMR). This holistic approach to mangrove restoration views the proposed plant and animal communities to be restored as part of a larger ecosystem, connected with other ecological communities that also have functions to be protected or restored. Mangrove forests can self-repair, or successfully undergo secondary succession, if the normal tidal hydrology is restored and if there is a ready source of mangrove seedlings or propagules from nearby stands that are accessible to reseed an area.
CBEMR focuses on re-establishing the hydrology and topography, which will facilitate this natural regeneration process. CBEMR also engages local communities in the restoration process, empowering them to be stewards of their environment, and enabling them to regain the livelihoods ruined when the mangroves were destroyed. Five- to 10-day intensive workshops train local people to do CBEMR, and long-term community management and monitoring plans ensure project sustainability.
Many challenges remain, however, such as the need for more robust monitoring and evaluation with internationally recognized outcome indicators. Also, there are challenging issues of land tenure and site availability; restrictions imposed by donors; carbon offset plantings encouraging ecosystem conversion rather than true mangrove restoration; and securing government permits and approvals.
Reforestation programs where the mangroves have been lost would therefore aim to re-establish mangrove forest protection, while furthering the potential for sustainable development. The improvement of mangrove ecosystems through restoration will enhance their functions as a natural water treatment system and spawning and nursery grounds for fish and shrimps, thereby improving health and livelihood possibilities to the benefit of marginalized local communities; and restoring the vital carbon sequestration powers of these forests.
We at MAP recognize that all of this work cannot be done without involvement of local communities and community-based NGOs working with the cooperation of local government, scientists and educators in this process of conserving and managing their coastal resources. Just as mangroves are the “roots of the sea,” it is hoped that this expanding network of partners and projects will continue to strengthen and spread its roots throughout the world.
WASHINGTON, DC – The European Court of Justice made a precedent-setting decision today that all new types of genetic engineering techniques and applications to seeds and food need to be regulated as GMOs.
This decision, which was in response to a case filed by Friends of the Earth France, affirms that new genetic engineering techniques like gene editing should be classified under the EU legal definition of GMOs. It also affirms that new genetic engineering techniques must be subject to the same EU safety laws that cover most existing GMOs, to check for their impacts on human health and the environment which include safety assessments, traceability and GMO labeling.
Dana Perls, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S, issued the following statement in response:
These genetic engineering techniques could radically change our food system, threatening non-GMO and organic agriculture and the livelihoods that depend on it. We applaud the European Court of Justice for this forward-thinking decision and encourage the USDA to follow its lead. All products made with genetic engineering, including ones made with gene-editing tools like CRISPR, should be regulated, assessed for health and environmental impacts, and labeled.
Communications Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, email@example.com
I have been skeptical of supplements for a long period of time. Supplements are generally of low quality, they don’t prevent or cure cancer, they don’t prevent colds, they can’t boost the immune system, and they don’t prevent heart disease. Now there is a powerful review of omega-3 supplements that shows that it has little effect on cardiovascular disease.
Unless one has a chronic disease or is chronically malnourished, there are precious few instances where supplements are necessary. A couple of cases where supplements may be critical include prenatal folic acid supplements to prevent neurological defects in the developing fetus, vitamin C to prevent scurvy, and vitamin D supplements for individuals who do not produce enough endogenous vitamin D. In each of these cases, however, supplements are necessary to counteract a micronutrient deficiency that results from a chronic deficiency in the diet.
The benefits of omega-3 supplements have always been intriguing to me because it is a supplement that I thought might be useful for improving cardiovascular health. But as I reviewed before, the evidence seemed awfully weak. With this new study, there may be no evidence whatsoever supporting the use of omega-3 supplements, at least for cardiovascular disease.
What are omega-3 supplements?
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the primary ingredients in these supplements, are generally found in fish, as it is produced by the phytoplankton that is the primary food source of much of the prey for larger fish and bio-accumulates up the food chain. However, for humans, there are other sources of omega 3 oils including walnuts and edible seeds, eggs (especially those from chickens who are fed extra omega-3 supplements), and other non-fish sources.
Omega 3 fatty acids are considered one of the “essential’ fatty acids” because they are important to normal growth in young children and animals, and because humans (and many other mammals) cannot biochemically manufacture omega-3 fatty acids. Generally, humans consume adequate amounts of the fatty acid and only rarely are required to take omega-3 supplements to maintain proper health.
Now for some science. There are three principal omega-3 fatty acids – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The main sources of ALA in the U.S. diet are vegetable oils, particularly canola and soybean oils. ALA can be converted, usually in small amounts, into EPA and DHA in the body. EPA and DHA are found in seafood, including fatty fish (trout, salmon, and tuna) and shellfish (including crabs, lobsters, clams, and mussels).
Without getting into a lot of complex biochemistry, omega-3 oils are converted by various organs into key agents that are necessary for development and for regulating some aspects of the immune response. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are converted by enzymes into what is now known as eicosanoids–thromboxanes, prostacyclins, and the leukotrienes. Eicosanoids, which have numerous biological functions such as wound repair, typically have a short lifespan in the blood–they are quickly metabolized by enzymes. However, if the rate of synthesis exceeds the rate of metabolism, the excess eicosanoids may be dangerous.
As I keep saying, the immune system is not some pathetic network in the body – it is quite robust and can only be damaged through chronic disease or malnutrition. A normal diet that includes the fatty acids is more than sufficient to keep that part of the immune system running very well. It does not mean that taking omega-3 supplements will cause your immune system to be even better. That is a fallacy.
Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are important for a number of bodily functions, including muscle activity, blood clotting, digestion, fertility, and cell division and growth. Specifically, DHA is important for brain development and function.
Once again, just because a little bit of omega 3 in the diet may be good, it’s possible that excess amounts may not be. One of the major myths of the supplement industry is “if a little is good, a lot is better.” There is an assumption that the body is so weak that it constantly needs to be given omega-3 fatty acids or any other supplement to survive. Well, that’s just not supported by science.
Why did omega-3 supplements become a thing?
Observational studies done in the late 1980s seem to indicate relatively low death rates due to cardiovascular disease in Inuit populations with high seafood consumption. These results began the rush to consume omega-3 supplements and created a booming supplement industry for the product. A lot of researchers began to critique these studies because confounding factors may have been as important as the fatty acids themselves.
Since the publication of those initial studies, much research has been done on seafood and heart disease. And the results don’t give much credence to the cardiovascular benefits of omega 3 fish oils as a useful supplement.
Are there benefits of omega-3 supplements?
There are some very specific benefits of omega-3 supplements that are supported by strong scientific evidence.
- Infant development – Omega-3 supplements, especially in the form of DHA, might be important for young children. The nutritional value of seafood is particularly important during early development. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consume at least 8 ounces but no more than 12 ounces of seafood each week and not eat certain types of seafood that are high in methylmercury — a toxin that can harm the nervous system of a fetus or young child. However, the recommendation includes consuming seafood, not omega-3 supplements, although if one is afraid of consuming seafood, it is useful in this case.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – A 2012 systematic review concluded that the types of omega-3s found in seafood and fish oil may be modestly helpful in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The review of 23 studies concluded that “a fairly consistent, but modest, benefit of (omega 3 fish oils) on joint swelling and pain, duration of morning stiffness, global assessments of pain and disease activity, and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” The benefits are just on the border of clinically significant, and will not reverse the course of the disease, but it may be helpful.
- Other claims–Omega 3 fish oil supplements also have been claimed to prevent or treat other conditions–allergies (meta-review says no), asthma (research says no), Crohn’s disease (ineffective), cystic fibrosis (no useful clinical data according to meta-review), kidney disease (no solid clinical evidence), lupus (no evidence), obesity (no evidence), osteoporosis (no conclusive clinical evidence), and ulcerative colitis (no evidence).
In general, omega-3 supplements, even ones rich in EPA and DHA, may not help prevent or manage health conditions. In fact, more omega-3 fatty acids may not be better.
Moreover, some of the benefits of consuming seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids may result from people eating it in lieu of other, less healthful, foods. The so-called Mediterranean diet is an example of a high fish diet that may be linked to better cardiovascular outcomes.
In general, there is no conclusive or, in some cases, negative evidence regarding the benefits of omega 3 fish oil for most health conditions. In fact, even the annoying and wasteful National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, which pushes junk medicine under the guise of the National Institutes of Health, provides a fairly negative review of the benefits of omega 3 fish oil.
Omega-3 supplements and cardiovascular disease
Many individuals take omega-3 supplements to prevent heart disease. But what does the science say after nearly 30 years since that initial epidemiological study was done with Inuit populations?
There have been several studies that have evaluated the potential benefits of omega 3 fish oil supplements, which are rich in EPA and DHA, on heart disease risk. These studies compared the number of cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks or strokes) or the number of deaths in people who were given the supplements with those in people who were given placebos or standard cardiovascular care.
The results of individual studies were inconsistent with a range of results from clinically useless to somewhat useful. In 2012, two separate meta-analyses (the best kind of evidence available) of these studies were published – the first one analyzed only those studies which included individuals with a history of heart disease, and the other one analyzed studies of individuals both with and without a history of heart disease. Neither meta-analysis found convincing evidence of protective benefits for omega 3 fish oil supplementation.
A new systematic-review (considered the pinnacle of the hierarchy of biomedical research), published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, seems to indicate that there isn’t much value of omega-3 supplements for preventing cardiovascular disease. The study included 79 randomized controlled trials that lasted greater than 12 months. Over 112,000 patients were included in these studies. In addition, the study participants were from Asia, Europe, North America, and Australia.
The study showed no effect of omega-3 supplements on the following cardiovascular outcomes:
- All-cause mortality, risk ratio (RR, see Note 1) of 0.98.
- Cardiovascular mortality, RR = 0.95.
- Cardiovascular events (stroke, heart attack, and other related events), RR=0.99.
- Coronary heart disease mortality, RR=0.93.
- Stroke, RR=1.06.
- Atrial fibrillation, RR=1.06.
Omega-3 supplements that contain ALA also had little effect except for minor risk reduction in three cases:
- Possible reduction in cardiovascular event rates.
- A 9% relative reduction in coronary heart disease mortality.
- A 33% relative reduction in arrhythmias.
However, in each case, the absolute reduction was relatively small, and the quality of the studies that showed this possible reduction were of low-quality.
The authors concluded that:
This is the most extensive systematic assessment of effects of omega-3 fats on cardiovascular health to date. Moderate- and high-quality evidence suggests that increasing EPA and DHA has little or no effect on mortality or cardiovascular health (evidence mainly from supplement trials). Previous suggestions of benefits from EPA and DHA supplements appear to spring from trials with higher risk of bias. Low-quality evidence suggests ALA may slightly reduce CVD event risk, CHD mortality and arrhythmia.
Overall, this powerful review did not provide robust evidence that omega-3 supplements have an important effect on cardiovascular events. If you are taking these fatty acids because you think they’re going to protect you against heart attacks, this robust evidence says that it’s a waste of money.
Like with nearly every supplement I’ve examined, the claimed benefits of the omega-3 supplements far exceed what is shown by the actual clinical evidence. There is some evidence that omega-3 supplements may be slightly beneficial in a few conditions, but an adequate diet probably negates the needs of the supplement even there.
And as for the use of omega-3 supplements in preventing cardiovascular disease, there are better choices – like statins, where powerful systematic reviews have shown that they actually do improve cardiovascular outcomes.
The short summary is that you shouldn’t waste your money on omega-3 supplements.
- A risk ratio measures the relative risk of a particular outcome between an experimental group and a control group. A number greater than 1.0 implies that the experimental group has a higher risk of an outcome compared to the control. A number less than 1.0 implies the experimental group has a lower risk than the control. Any number that is statistically equivalent to 1.0 means there’s no difference between the groups. Thus, an RR = 0.98 means that the omega-3 supplement group shows no difference in risk of all-cause mortality than the control group.
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Most people would be surprised about how many species of cold-water corals and amazing sponges you’d find on the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean. Even as the scientist who has identified three quarters of the registered seafloor communities designated for special protection in the Antarctic, I’ve never seen them myself either!
That is, I’ve never seen them in their natural environment before. Until now.
Getting ready to dive in the submarine, 19 Jan 2018
The seabed of this truly special place is home to corals and other animals that create 3D structures, providing shelter for fish and habitat for countless other organisms. They are an indispensable element in a complex ecosystem which feeds the Antarctic Ocean and all the other larger and more well-known species in it like penguins, seals and whales.
Submarine image of the seabed in the Antarctic, 23 January 2018
The reason why right now I’m more excited than I’ve ever been in my 25 years as an Antarctic biologist is that, this time, I get to go to the bottom of the sea myself! Having done lots of expedition-based research into the depths of this unique ocean, now I can see first-hand what I have been studying for so many years.
Usually, this type of scientific research is hard labour; digging through the large amount of bycatch caught in trawl nets and the time-consuming job of sorting it into taxonomic groups for analysis. But the destruction that this method causes has always disturbed me. But here we are, gently gliding by in a two-person submarine, taking photographic evidence and collecting a few specimens that might even be new species.
Down we go!
I became pretty obsessed with the marine invertebrate life of the Antarctic region at quite a young age. Since then, I’ve encountered and studied some truly impressive seabed communities in the Antarctic and now I’m venturing out to locate additional areas that are in need of special protection.
In a really meaningful way, our exploration of the bottom of the sea will help determine specific areas that should be a priority for protection from an expanding commercial fishing fleet, which jeopardises the wellbeing of one of the world’s last pristine marine ecosystems; an ocean that connects all oceans.
The evidence of any ‘Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems’ that we encounter on this expedition will be submitted to the Commission for the Antarctic Ocean. It is our hope that registering these ecosystems will support and strengthen the submitted proposal for what will be the largest protected marine area in the world.
Antarctic feather star found at approximately 300 meters depth at Kinnes Cove in the Antarctic Sound, 23 January 2018
I am eager to see these marine protected area proposals develop and mature and be passed by the Commission for the Antarctic Ocean. In this endeavor, the objectives of Greenpeace and I align, and I feel privileged to collaborate with them on this project.
Hopefully my dream as a scientist coming true just now – going to the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean – will help achieve an even bigger dream: to see it protected!
Dr. Susanne Lockhart is an Antarctic biologist with the California Academy of Sciences, currently aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in the Antarctic Ocean.