The world food situation is starting to get very, very tight. Unprecedented heat and wildfires this summer in Russia and horrific flooding in Pakistan and China have been some of the primary reasons for the rapidly rising food prices we are now seeing around the globe. In places such as Australia and the African nation of Guinea-Bissau, the big problem for crops has been locusts. In a world that already does not grow enough food for everyone (thanks to the greed of the elite), any disruption in food production can cause a major, major problem. Tonight, thousands of people around the world will starve to death. So what happens if things get even worse? Many agricultural scientists are now warning that global food production is facing dangers that are absolutely unprecedented. Crop diseases such as UG99 wheat rust and the “unintended effects” of genetic modification pose challenges that previous generations simply did not have to face. The outbreak of a real, live global famine looks increasingly possible with each passing year. So are you and your family prepared if a global famine does strike?
Already, there are huge warning signs on the horizon. Just check out what agricultural commodities have been doing. They have been absolutely soaring.
A recent article on the Forbes website noted a few of the agricultural commodities that have skyrocketed during this year….
Here’s what’s happened to some key farm commodities so far in 2010…
- Corn: Up 63%
- Wheat: Up 84%
- Soybeans: Up 24%
- Sugar: Up 55%
Are you ready to pay 84 percent more for a loaf of bread?
You better get ready – these raw material prices will filter down to U.S. consumers eventually.
So what is going to happen if the world food situation gets even tighter?
Don’t think that it can’t happen.
The following are 5 potential dangers to global crops that dramatically reduce the world food supply….
UG99 Wheat Rust
UG99 is commonly known as “wheat rust” or “stem rust” because it produces reddish-brown flakes on wheat stalks. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico believes that approximately 19 percent of the global wheat crop is in imminent danger of being infected with UG99.
Ultimately, it is estimated that about 80 percent of the wheat on the globe is capable of catching the disease.
There is no known cure.
This current strain of wheat rust was discovered in Uganda in 1999 and has spread into areas of Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen and Iran. It is feared that this crippling disease will spread even farther into south Asia, devastating the fertile growing regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
If that happens, you might as well kiss world food stability goodbye.
A recent article in the Financial Times contained an absolutely stunning quote from one prominent agricultural scientist….
“You can talk about crying wolf,” says Ronnie Coffman, director of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project at the University of Cornell in the US, “but it is a wolf”, he asserts, driving across the corn fields of Kansas.
Later on in the same article, Coffman warns that this disease could cause a devastating famine in which literally millions of people would die….
“It can be absolutely devastating if environmental conditions are right,” he says. “You can count the number of people who could die from this in the millions.”
Mad Soy Disease
Mad Soy disease is spreading at an alarming rate among soy farms down in Brazil. Previously the disease had been confined to the north part of the country, but now it has been increasingly spreading south. This disease retards the maturation of infected plants, and it has been causing yield losses of up to 40 percent. The USDA says that “there are no known effective treatments.”
Verticillium Wilt is a fungus that prevents lettuce from absorbing water, causing it to quickly grow yellow and eventually wilt. This dangerous fungus is very hard to get rid of totally because it can stay in the soil for up to seven years.
Today, Verticillium Wilt is spreading all over Monterey County, California. Considering the fact that Monterey County produces more than 60 percent of the lettuce in the United States, that is very bad news.
In 2009, a disease known as “late blight” attacked potato and tomato plants in the United States with a ferocity never seen before. According to a press release from Cornell University, late blight had “never occurred this early and this widespread in the U.S.” when it started showing up all over the place early last year.
Late blight begins as ugly brown spots on the stems of potato and tomato plants, and as the spots increase in size, white fungal growth develops until finally a soft rot completely collapses the stem.
This was the disease that was responsible for the Irish potato famine in the 1850s. A major new outbreak could occur without warning.
While it may or may not technically be a disease (depending on how you look at it), genetic modification is having a very serious affect on crops around the globe.
For example, about 10 years ago Chinese farmers began to widely adopt Monsanto’s genetically modified Bt cotton. Well, researchers have found that since that time, mirid bugs that are resistant to the Bt pesticide have experienced a complete and total population boom.
Today, six provinces in Northern China are experiencing what can only be described as a “mirid bug plague”. Mirid bugs eat more than 200 different kinds of fruit, vegetables and grains. Chinese farmers in the region are completely frustrated.
In the United States, a different problem is developing. The complete and total reliance of so many U.S. farmers on Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide has resulted in several varieties of glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” developing in many areas of the United States.
The most feared of these “superweeds”, Pigweed, can grow to be seven feet tall and it can literally wreck a combine. Pigweed has been known to produce up to 10,000 seeds at a time, it is resistant to drought, and it has very diverse genetics.
Superweeds were first spotted in Georgia in 2004, and since then they have spread to South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri.
In some areas, superweeds have become so bad that literally tens of thousands of acres of U.S. farmland have actually been abandoned.
But that is what we get for trying to “play God”.
We think that we can just do whatever we want with nature and there will not be any consequences.
One of the most frightening things about genetic modification is that it actually reduces that amount of crop diversity in the world.
For example, if nearly all farmers start using the same “brand” of genetically modified plants that are all virtually identical, it sets up a situation where crop diseases and crop failures can cascade across the planet very easily.
Genetic variety is a very desirable thing, but today our scientists are just doing pretty much whatever they want without really considering the consequences.
It has been said many times that genetic engineering is similar to “performing heart surgery with a shovel”.
The truth is that we just do not know enough about how our ecosystems work to be messing around with them so dramatically.
Perhaps even more frightening is that once these genetically engineered monstrosities have been released into our environment, it is absolutely impossible to recall them. They essentially become a permanent part of our ecosystem.
But can we afford to make any serious mistakes at this point?
The truth is that we already live in a world that is not able to feed itself.
Tonight, approximately 1 billion people across globe will go to bed hungry. Every 3.6 seconds someone in the world starves to death, and three-fourths of those who starve to death are children under the age of five.
It is currently being projected that global demand for food will more than double over the next 50 years.
So what is going to happen if we start seeing widespread crop failures in the coming years?
The global food supply is not nearly as stable as most people believe. At some point, it is going to be tested severely.
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A controversial chemical used for decades in the mass production of food containers and baby bottles has been linked to male infertility for the first time.
Bisphenol-A (BPA), known as the “gender bending” chemical because of its connection to male impotence, has now been shown to decrease sperm mobility and quality.
The findings are likely to increase pressure on governments around the world to follow Canada and ban the substance from our shelves.
BPA is used widely to make plastic harder and watertight tin cans.
It is found in most food and drink cans – including tins of infant formula milk – plastic food containers, and the casings of mobile phones, and other electronic goods.
It is also used in baby bottles though this is slowly being phased out.
BPA has been the subject of intense research as it is a known endocrine disrupter which in large quantities interferes with the release of hormones.
Earlier studies have linked it to low sex drive, impotence and DNA damage in sperm.
Now a new five year study claims to have found a link between levels of BPA in the blood and male fertility.
For their study of 514 workers in factories in China, researchers at Kaiser Permanente, a California-based research center, found that men with higher urine BPA levels were two to four times more at risk of having poor semen quality, including low sperm concentration, low sperm vitality and mobility.
What is more the amount of the BPA in the blood seemed to be inversely proportional to sperm quality.
Even those with less than the national average BPA levels in America were effected, it was claimed.
“Compared with men without detectable urine BPA, those with detectable urine BPA had more than three times the risk of lowered sperm concentration and lower sperm vitality, more than four times the risk of a lower sperm count, and more than twice the risk of lower sperm motility,” said study lead author Dr De-Kun Li.
He claims the research, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, was the first human study to report an adverse association between BPA and semen quality.
Previous studies found a negative link between BPA and male reproduction in mice and rats
It was also the third study in a series by Dr Li and his colleagues examining BPA’s effect on humans.
The first study, published in November 2009, found that exposure to high levels of BPA in the workplace increases men’s risk of reduced sexual function.
Increasing BPA levels urine are also associated with worsening male sexual function, according to the second study, published in May 2010.
The latest study, funded by the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, throws further doubt on the safety of BPA.
“The finding of the adverse BPA effect on semen quality illustrates two points: first, exposure to BPA now has been linked to changes in semen quality, an objective physiological measure,” Dr Li said.
“Second, this association shows BPA potential potency: it could lead to pathological changes of the male reproductive system in addition to the changes of sexual function.
“When you see this kind of association with semen you have to wonder what else BPA has an effect on,” said Dr Li.
As a precautionary principle, he said, “Everybody should avoid BPA as much as you can.”
The researchers noted that BPA may also affect female reproductive systems and have adverse effects on ailments such as cancer or metabolic diseases.
BPA has already been banned in Canada and three US states.
Bottles and cans containing the chemical have been linked to breast cancer, heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity and other disorders.
Most manufacturers of baby bottles have stopped putting it in their products but older stock containing the chemical is still on sale.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supports its removal and has stated concerns regarding the impact of the chemical on babies and young children.
It can affect disorders associated with metabolism, fertility and neural development.
Richard Alleyne, Telegraph, Thu, 28 Oct 2010 19:00 CDT
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Survival rates of men with prostate cancer might soon be increased with a new vitamin E treatment which could significantly reduce tumor regrowth.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) prostate cancer researchers are leading the fight against the disease, which kills 3000 Australian men a year.
Dr Patrick Ling, whose research will be a centerpiece of the new $354 million Translational Research Institute (TRI) when it opens in Brisbane, is leading a team of researchers who have identified a particular constituent of vitamin E, known as tocotrienol (T3), which can inhibit the growth of prostate tumors.
Construction of TRI officially began Oct. 19 at the Princess Alexandra Hospital. The world-class facility brings together some of Queensland’s best medical researchers from four leading Australian research facilities to turn their work into accessible and potentially life-saving health treatments.
Dr Ling’s research has been funded by Davos Life Science in Singapore, who recently awarded him a further $128,000 to undertake a one-year study of the long-term effectiveness of T3 to prevent the recurrence of treated prostate cancer tumors.
“Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in developed countries,” Dr Ling said.
“It is responsible for more male deaths than any other cancer, except lung cancer.”
Dr Ling said existing chemotherapy and hormonal therapy treatment of prostate cancer was insufficient because it failed to kill off the prostate cancer stem cells (CSCs) which were believed to be responsible for the regrowth of tumors.
However, the research team have discovered a particular form of T3, called gamma-tocotrienol (Î³-T3), can successfully kill off the prostate cancer CSCs.
“Currently there is no effective treatment for metastatic prostate cancer, because it grows back after conventional therapies in more than 70 per cent of cases,” he said.
“But with y-T3, QUT researchers have found a better way to treat prostate cancer, which has the potential to inhibit recurrence of the disease.”
Dr Ling said in animal trials, y-T3 completely inhibited tumor formation in more than 70 per cent of the mice implanted with prostate cancer cells and fed the vitamin E constituent in water. In the remaining cases, tumor regrowth was considerably reduced, while tumors reformed in 100 per cent of the control group.
The findings were published recently in the International Journal of Cancer.
The next stage of Dr Ling’s study has begun and will determine the long-term effectiveness of the y-T3 treatment, with plans to progress to clinical trials in the future.
“Previous clinical trials using another vitamin E constituent to inhibit prostate cancer development were unsuccessful, but these trials did not use the vitamin E constituent y-T3,” he said.
“Other research has found y-T3 is also effective in suppressing other types of cancer, including breast, colon, liver and gastric.”
Dr Ling said while not all vitamin E preparations had the active constituent, natural vitamin E obtained from palm oil was rich in y-T3.
Professor Ross Young, from QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), said one of TRI’s greatest strengths was to bring together leading researchers.
“Collaboration, which combines the expertise of researchers from different disciplines and institutions to achieve common goals, will lead to better solutions,” Professor Young said.
QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake said TRI would greatly benefit Queensland’s and Australia’s economy and ability to attract the world’s best researchers to our shores.
“By having this world-class facility producing research of the highest quality, we will be increasing Queensland’s international competitiveness in research,” Professor Coaldrake said.
TRI is a collaboration of QUT, the University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Mater Medical Research Institute, with funding from the Australian Government, Queensland Government, The Atlantic Philanthropies, QUT and UQ.
Dr Ling is based at IHBI and the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre — Queensland, a comprehensive research center to investigate new ways to treat prostate cancer established by QUT and the Princess Alexandra Hospital with funding from the federal government.
His research is funded by world-leading tocotrienol manufacturer Davos Life Science. The Singapore-based company produces y-T3 from sustainable palm plantations.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2010)
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Severe burn injuries in children have been shown to rapidly deplete the levels of vitamin E in their body’s adipose, or fat tissues, a new clinical study has found.
Stored levels of this important antioxidant were reduced more in a few weeks than might normally be possible in years.
An analysis of eight children with third-degree burns over much of their body found they lost almost half of their stored vitamin E in three weeks, even though they were being given about 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E and other nutrients in a high-calorie diet.
Researchers are not certain what the implication of such rapid vitamin E depletion may be, but concluded in their report that “the depletion of vitamin E may be a very significant problem in patients with burn injury” and other forms of severe trauma.
One particular concern may be the possibility of peripheral neuropathy, since nerve damage is common in patients with severe burn injuries, and has also been associated with vitamin E deficiency in humans. Studies have not yet been done to determine whether heavier supplementation with vitamin E after a burn injury would help address this or other health and healing issues.
The findings of this clinical study were just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a professional journal, by scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University; the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas; the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and other researchers.
“This is one of the first studies we’ve done that measures vitamin E in the body tissues of children,” said professor Maret Traber, a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute, and one of the world’s leading experts on vitamin E. “Vitamin E in adipose tissue does not fluctuate much on a short-term basis. To find this level of vitamin E loss in such a short time was dramatic, unexpected and somewhat alarming.”
Of some concern, Traber said, is that of eight burn patients studied, three of them already had tissue levels of vitamin E that would be considered deficient upon admission to the hospital, shortly after their injury.
Some diet surveys of healthy children have concluded that up to 90 percent of them have vitamin E intake below that which nutrition experts recommend. This essential nutrient is an important antioxidant, plays a role in the immune system, nervous system, and performs many other metabolic functions. It is commonly found in fats, nuts, and some vegetables and seafood products.
“Unfortunately, with the modern American diet too many people are getting most of their vitamin E from foods that aren’t particularly good for them, things like ice cream or potato chips,” Traber said. “It’s probable that most people don’t get enough of this vitamin at all, and that’s one of the reasons we’re looking at people who have suffered severe illness or injury, in which vitamin E deficiencies may complicate other health problems.”
With the issue of burn injuries, expert say, one common result is a huge increase in metabolic rate as the body works overtime to deal with the trauma of burns, skin loss and oxidative stress. The patients in this study all had major injuries, with burns over 29 percent to 93 percent of their body. They were treated at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Texas, however, which has one of the leading burn treatment centers in the world, and all of them survived.
In the United States, about 100,000 people each year suffer burn injuries that are sufficient to require hospitalization, and 5,000 deaths occur as a result. Severe burns are associated with a systemic inflammatory response, increased production of reactive oxygen species and severe depletion of plasma antioxidants, previous research has shown.
Prior to this, it was not known that any mechanism existed that would so rapidly draw down body tissue levels of vitamin E. Low tissue levels of vitamin E are ordinarily observed only after years of inadequate absorption caused by certain genetic defects or diseases.
The report concluded that burn patients may not be receiving adequate vitamin E nutrition, and theorized that increased vitamin E supplementation may decrease the neuropathy, or nerve damage, that is often associated with severe burns. Further studies to address the mechanism and consequences of this issue are planned, they said.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E for children ages 4-8 is 10 I.U. per day. Traber said she would recommend performing studies with burn victims and giving them the “tolerable upper limit” of vitamin E as defined by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, which would be 400 I.U. per day. This is 40 times higher than the RDA but also a level of supplementation that many people take routinely. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, must also be consumed with some amount of fat-containing food in order to be absorbed by the body.
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Shriners of North America.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2010)