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Tag Archive: Bacillus thuringiensis


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Report: Monsanto’s Latest GM Maize Doesn’t Reduce Pests or Increase Yields

And it’s banned by most of Europe
by Christina Sarich
Posted on December 10, 2015
 Monsanto promised that its latest and greatest GM crop, MON810, a genetically modified (GM) insecticidal maize banned by most of Europe, would increase yields and stop crop loss due to pests. A new report from the government of Aragon in Spain says those promises are empty. [1]

There is an inserted gene in the DNA of MON810 which allows the plant to make a protein that harms insects that try to eat it. The inserted gene is from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, which produces the Bt toxin that is poisonous to insects in the Lepidoptera order, including the European Corn Borer. [2] Three quarters of the corn grown in Aragon, Spain is currently genetically modified, but conventional varieties were tested against GM Maize varieties in 2014.

“Helen,” “Zoom,” and “Kayras” – the non-GM isogenic (parent) lines (plant varieties) – were compared with the GM varieties derived from each line. The genetic insert was the MON810 construct from the US company, Monsanto.

The report found that:

“Per hectare, from 12.6 to 14.3 kg of maize were harvested. The GM varieties and the non-GM conventional comparator had very similar yields – the difference was between 0.2 and 0.3 kilos.”

This means the GM maize did not produce more than conventional strains of maize.

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New Study Links GMO Food To Leukemia

New Study Links GMO Food To Leukemia

 

Last September, the causal link between cancer and genetically modified food was confirmed in a French study, the first independent long-term animal feeding study not commissioned by the biotech corporations themselves. The disturbing details can be found here: New Study Finds GM Corn and Roundup Causes Cancer In Rats

Now, a new study published in the Journal of Hematology & Thromboembolic Diseases indicates that the biopesticides engineered into GM crops known as Bacillus Thuringensis (Bt) or Cry-toxins, may also contribute to blood abnormalities from anemia to hematological malignancies (blood cancers) such as leukemia.[i]

A group of scientists from the Department of Genetics and Morphology, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Brasilia, Brasilia/DF, Brazil set out to test the purported human and environmental biosafety of GM crops, looking particularly at the role that the Bt toxin found within virtually all GM food crops plays on non-target or non-insect animal species.

The research was spurned by the Brazilian Collegiate Board of Directors of the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (ANVISA), who advocated in 2005 for evaluations of toxicity and pathogenicity of microbiological control agents such as Bt toxins, given that little is known about their toxicological potential in non-target organisms, including humans.

While Bacillus Thurigensis spore-crystals have been used since the late 1960’s in agriculture as a foliar insecticide, it was only after the advent of recombinant DNA biotechnology that these toxin-producing genes (known as delta endotoxins) were first inserted into the plants themselves and released into commercial production in the mid-90’s, making their presence in the US food supply and the bodies of exposed populations ubiquitous.

What the new study revealed is that various binary combinations and doses of Bt toxins are capable of targeting mammalian cells, particularly the erythroid (red blood cell) lineage, resulting in red blood cell changes indicative of significant damage, such as anemia. In addition, the study found that Bt toxins suppressed bone marrow proliferation creating abnormal lymphocyte patterns consistent with some types of leukemia.

The researchers also found that one of the prevailing myths about the selective toxicity of Bt to insects, the target species, no longer holds true:

It has been reported that Cry toxins exert their toxicity when activated at alkaline pH of the digestive tract of susceptible larvae, and, because the physiology of the mammalian digestive system does not allow their activation, and no known specific receptors in mammalian  intestinal cells have been reported, the toxicity these MCAs to mammals  would negligible [8,22,23]. However, our study demonstrated that Bt spore-crystals genetically modified to express individually Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac or Cry2A induced hematotoxicity, particularly to the erythroid lineage. This finding corroborates literature that demonstrated that alkali-solubilized  Bt spore-crystals caused in vitro hemolysis in cell lines of rat, mouse, sheep, horse, and human erythrocytes and suggested that the plasma membrane of susceptible cells (erythrocytes, in this case) may be the primary target for these toxins [33]

The study also found:

1) That Cry toxins are capable of exerting their adverse effects when suspended in distilled water, not requiring alkalinization via insect physiology to become activated as formerly believed.

2) That a dose of Cry1Ab as low as 27 mg/kg, their lowest tested dose, was capable of inducing hypochromic anemia in mice – the very toxin has been detected in blood of non-pregnant women, pregnant women and their fetuses in Canada, supposedly exposed through diet.

3) Whereas past reports have found that Bt toxins are generally nontoxic and do not bioaccumulate in fatty tissue or persist in the environment, the new study demonstrated that all Cry toxins tested had a more pronounced effect from 72 hours of exposure onwards, indicating the opposite is true.

4) That high-dose Cry toxin doses caused blood changes indicative of bone marrow damage (damage to “hematopoietic stem cell or bone marrow stroma”).

The authors noted their results “demonstrate leukemogenic activity for other spore-crystals not yet reported in the literature.”

Health And Wellness Report

Food Safety – Health  :  Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) – Poisons in Our Foods – Bioethics – Medical Research

Study: GMO toxins found in nearly all pregnant women, unborn babies

 

pregnant women

by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A recent study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology debunks yet another lie of the biotechnology industry concerning genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). According to an analysis conducted by researchers from the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada, 100 percent of pregnant women and their unborn babies tested positive for GMO toxins in their blood, proving that transgenic materials are not effectively broken down and eliminated during digestion as we have all been told.

The study, which is featured in the new Jeffrey Smith documentary Genetic Roulette (http://www.naturalnews.com/037272_Genetic_Roulette_movie_GMO.html), examined the blood of 30 pregnant women and 39 non-pregnant women. The research team, led by Aziz Aris and Samuel Leblanc, looked for glyphosate (Roundup); gluphosinate, an active ingredient in various broad-spectrum herbicides; Cry1Ab, the Bt toxin of gluphosinate; and several metabolites of both glyphosate and gluphosinate.

Upon observation, they noticed that the non-pregnant women all had high levels of both glyphosate and gluphosinate in their blood, while none of the pregnant women had either of the two chemicals in their blood, illustrating that some type of metabolic change takes place when women become pregnant. As far as the other chemicals were concerned; however, 100 percent of the pregnant women and their unborn babies tested positive for 3-methylphosphinico propionic acid (3-MMPA), a metabolite of gluphosinate, while 93 percent of maternal blood and 80 percent of fetal cord blood tested positive for the Bt toxin Cry1Ab.

This is highly concerning, as it shows not only that these two untested chemicals are effectively bypassing the digestive systems of pregnant women, but that they are also persisting in their bloodstreams for an untold amount of time, where they proceed to infect the bloodstreams of unborn children. The long-term health effects of such exposure are largely unknown, as few formative safety studies have ever been conducted on either Bt toxin or the pesticide and herbicide chemicals used on GMO crops.

Gluphosinate, Cry1Ab both linked to causing major health problems

Existing studies do suggest; however, that gluphosinate, the precursor to 3-MMPA, can cause cancer, DNA damage, and reproductive toxicity. The European Union (EU) actually banned the use of gluphosinate in member states after determining that the herbicide is a significant threat to environmental and human health. (http://www.cbgnetwork.org/2785.html)

“This paper shows that this GM protein (Cry1Ab) can survive extensive food processing to enter the diet,” says the U.K. group GM-Free Cymru. “It can then survive human digestion to enter the blood of the person eating it and then cross the placenta to enter the fetus.” (http://www.gmfreecymru.org.uk/pivotal_papers/crucial24.htm)

Another recent study found that rats fed a lifetime of GM corn, many varieties of which contain the Cry1Ab toxin, developed horrific tumors all over their bodies. Compared to a control group not fed GM corn, GM corn-fed male mice died prematurely at a 66 percent higher rate, and GM corn-fed females died prematurely at a 250 percent higher rate. (http://www.naturalnews.com)

Be sure to check out the informative new film Genetic Roulette, which takes a comprehensive, in-depth, and scientific look at the non-safety of GMOs, and how these untested poisons are destroying the health of the world: http://geneticroulettemovie.com/

Sources for this article include:

http://www.greenmedinfo.com

Published on Jul 7, 2012 by

BT corn was created by scientists by splicing a gene into the corn that kills root worms that can destroy entire crops. The idea worked for nearly a decade but now crops in North America are suffering severe damage where BT-resistant worms have grown more common. More than half of the corn grown in North America and much of the world is BT corn. Critics of genetically modified foods say that people are now left with the worst of both worlds: GM food that has unknown effects on humans that don’t work. The growing resistance of bugs to GM foods leads to the possibility of major crop losses and an uncertain future for GM foods. Al Jazeera’s John Hendren reports

Environmental

 

 

 

Trouble on the horizon for GM crops?

 

Seed Daily
by Staff Writers
Tucson AZ (SPX)


Caterpillars of the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, feed on many different plants and pose a serious threat to cotton farming. Credit: Gyorgy Csoka.

Resistance of cotton bollworm to insect-killing cotton plants involves more diverse genetic changes than expected, an international research team reports in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. To decrease sprays of broad-spectrum insecticides, which can harm animals other than the target pests, cotton and corn have been genetically engineered to produce toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

Bt toxins kill certain insect pests but are harmless to most other creatures including people. These environmentally friendly toxins have been used for decades in sprays by organic growers and since 1996 in engineered Bt crops by mainstream farmers.

Over time, scientists have learned, initially rare genetic mutations that confer resistance to Bt toxins are becoming more common as a growing number of pest populations adapt to Bt crops.

In the first study to compare how pests evolve resistance to Bt crops in the laboratory vs. the field, researchers discovered that while some the of the lab-selected mutations do occur in the wild populations, some mutations that differ markedly from those seen in the lab are important in the field.

Caterpillars of the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, can munch on a wide array of plants before emerging as moths. This species is the major cotton pest in China, where the study was carried out.

Bruce Tabashnik, head of the department of entomology at the University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who co-authored the study, considers the findings an early warning to farmers, regulatory agencies and the biotech industry.

“Scientists expected the insects to adapt, but we’re just finding out now how they’re becoming resistant in the field,” Tabashnik said.

To avoid surprises, researchers have exposed cotton bollworm populations to Bt toxins in controlled lab experiments and studied the genetic mechanisms by which the insects adapt.

“We try to stay ahead of the game,” he said. “We want to anticipate what genes are involved, so we can proactively develop strategies to sustain the efficacy of Bt crops and reduce reliance on insecticide sprays. The implicit assumption is what we learn from lab-selected resistance will apply in the field.”

That assumption, according to Tabashnik, had never been tested before for resistance to Bt crops.

Now for the first time, the international team gathered genetic evidence from pests in the field, enabling them to directly compare the genes involved in the resistance of wild and lab-reared populations.

They found some resistance-conferring mutations in the field were the same as in lab-reared pests, but some others were strikingly different.

“We found exactly the same mutation in the field that was detected in the lab,” Tabashnik said. “But we also found lots of other mutations, most of them in the same gene and one in a completely different gene.”

A major surprise came when the team identified two unrelated, dominant mutations in the field populations. “Dominant” means that one copy of the genetic variant is enough to confer resistance to Bt toxin.

In contrast, resistance mutations characterized before from lab selection are recessive – meaning it takes two copies of the mutation, one provided by each parent, to make an insect resistant to Bt toxin.

“Dominant resistance is more difficult to manage and cannot be readily slowed with refuges, which are especially useful when resistance is recessive,” Tabashnik said.

Refuges consist of plants that do not have a Bt toxin gene and thus allow survival of insects that are susceptible to the toxin. Refuges are planted near Bt crops with the goal of producing enough susceptible insects to dilute the population of resistant insects, by making it unlikely two resistant insects will mate and produce resistant offspring.

According to Tabashnik, the refuge strategy worked brilliantly against the pink bollworm in Arizona, where this pest had plagued cotton farmers for a century, but is now scarce.

The dominant mutations discovered in China throw a wrench in the refuge strategy because resistant offspring arise from matings between susceptible and resistant insects.

He added that the study will enable regulators and growers to better manage emerging resistance to Bt crops.

“We have been speculating and using indirect methods to try and predict what would happen in the field. Only now that resistance is starting to pop up in many places is it possible to actually examine resistance in the field.

I think the techniques from this study will be applied to many other situations around the world, and we’ll begin to develop a general understanding of the genetic basis of resistance in the field.”

The current study is part of a collaboration funded by the Chinese government, involving a dozen scientists at four institutions in China and the U.S. Yidong Wu at Nanjing Agricultural University designed the study and led the Chinese effort.

He emphasized the importance of the ongoing collaboration for addressing resistance to Bt crops, which is a major issue in China. He also pointed out that the discovery of dominant resistance will encourage the scientific community to rethink the refuge strategy.

Tabashnik said China is the world’s top cotton producer, with about 16 billion pounds of cotton per year. India is number two, followed by the U.S., which produces about half as much cotton as China.

In 2011, farmers worldwide planted 160 million acres of Bt cotton and Bt corn. The percentage of cotton planted with Bt cotton reached 75 per cent in the U.S. in 2011, but has exceeded 90 per cent since 2004 in northern China, where most of China’s cotton is grown.

The researchers report that resistance-conferring mutations in cotton bollworm were three times more common in northern China than in areas of northwestern China where less Bt cotton has been grown.

Even in northern China, however, growers haven’t noticed the emerging resistance yet, Tabashnik said, because only about 2 percent of the cotton bollworms there are resistant.

“As a grower, if you’re killing 98 percent of pests with Bt cotton, you wouldn’t notice anything. But this study tells us there is trouble on the horizon.”

 

Related Links
University of Arizona
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

 

 

 

Nano-pesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener agriculture?

 

Seed Daily
by Staff Writers
Vienna, Austria (SPX)


Nano-pesticides encompass a great variety of products, some of which are already on the market. The application of nano-pesticides would be the only intentional diffuse input of large quantities of engineered nano-particles into the environment.

Nanotechnology has developed tremendously in the past decade and was able to create many new materials with a vast range of potential applications. Some of those innovative materials are promising to reduce environmental pollution. For instance, carbon nanotubes and metal nano-particles are great candidate materials for cleaning polluted water and soils.

However, the risk that nano-particles may pose to human and environment health is not yet fully understood. The precautionary principle therefore suggests keeping environmental release of nano-particles minimal until their fate and toxicity is better understood.

“A good understanding of nano-materials is essential to evaluate whether the benefits overcome potential new risks”, explains Thilo Hofmann, dean elected at the Faculty of Geosciences, Geography and Astronomy of the University of Vienna.

Among numerous proposed applications, nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize agricultural practices and food systems. Research has been extremely active over the past few years to develop new pesticides products based on nanotechnology.

“Nano-pesticide research is emerging at high speed at the agrochemical labs, however, this topic has not reached public awareness or state authorities so far, nor are any products available at the marked.

“Since those nano-pesticides have new or enhanced properties, this will change in near future and will inevitably result in both new risks and new benefits to human and environmental health”, states Thilo Hofmann.

Nano-pesticides encompass a great variety of products, some of which are already on the market. The application of nano-pesticides would be the only intentional diffuse input of large quantities of engineered nano-particles into the environment.

Innovation always results in both drawbacks and benefits for human and environmental health. Nano-pesticides may reduce environmental contamination through the reduction in pesticide application rates and reduced losses.

However, nano-pesticides may also create new kinds of contamination of soils and waterways due to enhanced transport, longer persistence and higher toxicity.

The current level of knowledge does not allow a fair assessment of the advantages and disadvantages that will result from the use of nano-pesticides. As a prerequisite for such assessment, a better understanding of the fate and effect of nano-pesticides after their application is required.

The suitability of current regulations should also be analyzed so that refinements can be implemented if needed. Research on nano-pesticides is therefore a priority for preserving the quality of both the food chain and the environment.

Publication in “Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and TechnologyNano-pesticides: state of knowledge, environmental fate and exposure modeling: Melanie Kah, Sabine Beulke, Karen Tiede and Thilo Hofmann. Critical Reviews of Environmental Science and Technology (2012)

 

Related Links
University of Vienna
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

 

 

 

New way of monitoring environmental impact could help save rural communities in China

 

Terra Daily
by Staff Writers
Southampton UK (SPX) Jun 25, 2012


File image.

University of Southampton researchers are pioneering a new way of measuring and monitoring the impact of industrial and agricultural development on the environment. Working in collaboration with East China Normal University, the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology and the University of Dundee, the team has created the world’s first long-term record of ecosystem health, which examines the past condition of environmental resources in China’s Yangtze basin region, and helps develop forecasts for the future.

“We have examined what effect modern intensive farming techniques have had on ‘ecosystem services’ – things like food, fuel, soil and clean water – in the Yangtze basin area. From this we get an overview of the condition of these resources, which are essential for the survival of local communities,” says lead researcher Professor John Dearing from the University of Southampton.

The team drilled core samples at two lakes in the region, west of Shanghai, and have made detailed studies of the sediment they retrieved.

Professor Dearing explains, “The data we have compiled came from the analysis of microfossils, geo-chemistry, mineral magnetism, and sediment accumulation rates.

These different analyses give us clues about the past health of the environment – for example, pollen samples tell us about the diversity of plant species at a given time, while metal content can be used to measure air quality. By bringing all the information together, we have been able to track the condition of environmental resources over a 200 year period.”

In addition, researchers have examined official statistical records and climate models to give trends on land use, population, gross domestic product (GDP), temperature and precipitation. By comparing these statistics with the core sample data they have seen that as GDP in the Yangtze region increased sharply in the 1970s, the quality of ecosystem services suffered a downward trend.

Improved environmental regulation and policies encouraged a partial stabilisation in the 1980s, but the downward trend continued sharply in the 1990s and beyond. The study findings have been published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1.

Professor Dearing comments, “Intensive agriculture has lifted many Chinese rural communities out of poverty in the last 30 years, but irrigation, mechanisation and fertilisers that came with it have degraded soils badly and there is already evidence of declining water quality.

Economic development and an increase in regional wealth are clear trade-offs for the decline in ecosystem services. However, in the long-term, this decline will be a threat to local livelihoods and could reach a ‘tipping point’, becoming irreversible.

“Financial indexes, like the FTSE 100 or Dow Jones, are used to monitor the health of an economy, and this project has led us to consider that palaeoecological records could provide the basis for a regional ‘ecosystem service index’, monitoring the health of a region’s environment.”

Where suitable, researchers hope to use the technique they have developed in China for other areas of the world, with the aim of helping policymakers to prioritise the most urgent environmental problems and identify which strategies work best to tackle them.

 

Related Links
University of Southampton
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up

 

 

 

 

NOAA: Gulf of Mexico ‘dead zone’ predictions feature uncertainty

 

Terra Daily
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jun 25, 2012


File image.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists is predicting that this year’s Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone could range from a low of approximately 1,197 square miles to as much as 6,213 square miles. The wide range is the result of using two different forecast models. The forecast is based on Mississippi River nutrient inputs compiled annually by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

The smaller dead zone forecast, covering an area slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, comes from researchers from the University of Michigan. Their predicted size is based solely on the current year’s spring nutrient inputs from the Mississippi River which are significantly lower than average due to drought conditions throughout much of the watershed.

The larger dead zone forecast, the equivalent of an area the size of the state of Connecticut, is from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University scientists.

The Louisiana forecast model includes prior year’s nutrient inputs which can remain in bottom sediments and be recycled the following year. Last year’s flood, followed by this year’s low flows, increased the influence of this “carryover effect” on the second model’s prediction.

Hypoxia is caused by excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water.

During May 2012 stream-flow in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers were nearly half that of normal conditions. This resulted in a decrease in the amount of nitrogen transported by the rivers into the Gulf. According to USGS estimates, 58,100 metric tons of nitrogen (in the form of nitrite plus nitrate) were transported in May 2012 by the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers to the northern Gulf.

The amount of nitrogen transported to the Gulf in May 2012 was 56 percent lower than average May nitrogen loads estimated in the last 33 years.

The two smallest recorded dead zones to date are in 2000 when it measured 1,696 square miles and a 15 square miles dead zone in 1988. Last year’s dead zone measured 6,765 square miles. The largest hypoxic zone measured to date occurred in 2002 encompassing more than 8,400 square miles.

“This forecast is a good example of NOAA, USGS and university partnerships delivering ecological forecasts that quantify the linkages between the watershed and the coast,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

“Regardless of the size of the dead zone, we should not lose sight of the ongoing need to reduce the flow of nutrients to the Mississippi River and thus the Gulf.”

“These forecasts are the product of decades of research, monitoring, and modeling on how decisions we make in the vast drainage basin of the Mississippi and its tributaries translates into the health of the coastal zone of the Gulf of Mexico,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt, Ph.D.

“Comparing the actual hypoxic zone against the predictions will help scientists better understand the multi-year memory of this complex land-sea system, and ultimately better inform options for improving ecosystem productivity.”

The actual size of the 2012 hypoxic zone will be released following a NOAA-supported monitoring survey led by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium between July 27 and August 3.

Collecting these data is an annual requirement of the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force Action Plan. Additional NOAA-supported surveys led by the National Marine Fisheries Service and Texas A and M University will also provide an indication of the progression of the dead zone during the year.

The average of impacted waters over the past five years is approximately 6,000 square miles, much larger than the 1,900 square miles which is the target goal set by the Gulf of Mexico/Mississippi River Watershed Nutrient Task Force.

The hypoxic zone, that form each spring and summer off the coast of Louisiana and Texas, threaten valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries. In 2009, the dockside value of commercial fisheries in the Gulf was $629 million. Nearly three million recreational fishers further contributed about $10 billion to the Gulf economy, taking 22 million fishing trips

This year’s forecast is just one example of NOAA’s growing ecological forecasting capabilities, supported by both NOAA and USGS science, which allow for the protection of valuable resources using scientific, ecosystem-based approaches.

 

Related Links
NOAA
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics

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Cyber Space

 

 

Apple Quietly Pulls Claims of Virus Immunity

By Hamish Barwick, Computerworld-Australia    Jun 24, 2012 11:30 am

In the wake of the Flashback botnet which targeted Mac computers, Apple has removed a statement from its messages on its website that Mac operating system X (OS X) isn’t susceptible to viruses.

Apple removed the previous statement “It doesn’t get PC viruses” and replaced it with “It’s built to be safe,” and “Safeguard your data. By doing nothing” with “Safety. Built in.” A comparison of the old and new messages is currently available here.

According to Sophos U.S. senior technology consultant Graham Cluley, this is a sign that Apple is starting to take security seriously.

“I view the changes in the messages pushed out by their marketing department as some important baby-steps,” he wrote in a blog entry.

“Let’s hope more Apple Mac owners are also learning to take important security steps — such as installing antivirus protection.”

In addition to changing its marketing messages, Apple has released a security guide for the iPhone operating system iOS and announced in February that OS X 10.8, or Mountain Lion, would include a new feature called Gatekeeper that would restrict which applications users can install on their devices.

Cluley is not the only security expert who has urged Apple to improve its OS protection.

In a recent interview with Computerworld Australia, Kaspersky Lab co-founder Eugene Kaspersky said the company needed to extend time frames for supporting older operating systems. For example, in May this year Apple ended support for OS X 10.5, also known as Leopard, when OS X 10.7 was released.

“Apple has stopped supporting some older operating systems but there are still millions of people using these systems,” he said. “It means if vulnerabilities are found, any kind of bad guys will be free to infect these machines.”

Apple Australia was contacted by Computerworld Australia but declined to comment.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

 

 

 

Malware Gets Snoopy

By Mark Gibbs, NetworkWorld

via PCWorld.com

The world of malware has, over the last couple of decades, morphed to become not just a mechanism with which to subvert people’s computers and steal money, but also a way for corporations and sovereign states to conduct cyber espionage.

An example of malware being used for industrial cyber espionage emerged two months ago with a worm, which had previously been quite rare, breaking out suddenly in Peru and neighboring countries.

This worm, specific to the electronic drafting software AutoCAD, is called ACAD/Medre.A and is written in AutoLISP, the language that is used to script operations in AutoCAD. ACAD/Medre.A has a very devious agenda: It e-mails copies of the drawings the user opens to over 40 mail boxes hosted at two different Chinese ISPs.

The antivirus firm ESET in San Diego was the first to detect the outbreak in Peru and noted that they could “see detections at specific URLs, which made it clear that a specific website supplied [an infected] AutoCAD template that appears to be the basis for this localized spike … If it is assumed that companies which want to do business with [the company at the URL] have to use this template, it seems logical that the malware mainly shows up in Peru and neighboring countries. The same is true for larger companies with affiliated offices outside this area that have been asked to assist or to verify the – by then – infected project and then [infect] their own environment.”

In other words, someone or some organization — not necessarily in China — planted the infected template. As a result they were able to swipe the drawings of all of the companies competing for some project, presumably to gain an edge in securing business.

ESET estimates that something like 100,000 drawings were stolen before ESET, with the help of Autodesk, the Chinese National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center, and the Chinese ISPs involved, were able to contain the problem. For a detailed look at the technology behind the attack, see the posting “ACAD/Medre.A Technical Analysis” in the ESET Threat Blog.

ESET now offers a free, stand-alone cleaner which will search for and remove ACAD/Medre.A infections.

Lessons from Stuxnet

So industrial cyber espionage is a big deal, but even more impressive and much more worrying is military cyber espionage because the stakes and consequences are much higher.

And there’s a serious problem with military cyber espionage: In the real world if someone attacks you with something like a cruise missile, once it’s landed you won’t be able to put the missile back together and lob it back at whoever sent it. That’s the nature of real-world armaments. You can build really smart and deadly devices and, even if they malfunction, the enemy will very, very rarely be able to turn your technology against you.

Not so with software armaments. Consider the much-discussed Stuxnet, the computer worm that first appeared about two years ago. Stuxnet targets Siemens industrial control systems and is said to be responsible for damaging equipment used by the Iranian nuclear program.

The Stuxnet worm is an impressive example of sophisticated software engineering relying, as it did, on four new zero-day attacks along with several known vulnerability exploits used by other malware.

On top of that, Stuxnet it is very complex. According to an article in Vanity Fair, “In terms of functionality, this was the largest piece of malicious software that most researchers had ever seen, and orders of magnitude more complex in structure. (Malware’s previous heavyweight champion, the Conficker worm, was only one-twentieth the size of this new threat.)”

When the worm was discovered and publicized in June 2010, there was an immediate denial-of-service attack on two mail lists that concern industrial systems security which, it could be assumed, was intended to slow down dissemination of the news to the worm’s targets. You can see that contingent damage was involved in supporting the original attack — a consequence that will become more commonplace in future where military cyber espionage is involved.

Since the first discovery of Stuxnet there have been at least two more variants identified, each incorporating “improvements” that were designed to do things such as increase the infection rate of the malware.

So, who was responsible for this stupendous feat of coding? The Russian mafia? Chinese hackers? Nope, just a few weeks ago it was revealed that Stuxnet was created by a joint U.S. and Israeli intelligence operation called “Operation Olympic Games” which was started under the Bush administration and expanded under the Obama administration!

Apparently Stuxnet did its job because, it is estimated, some 1000 centrifuges used by the Iranians to purify nuclear material that are controlled by Siemens systems, were damaged during the period Stuxnet was active.

Mission of Malware

Whether this was all that was intended is unknown, and a report by the Institute for Science and International Security says: “If Stuxnet’s goal was the destruction of all the centrifuges in the [Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz], Stuxnet failed. But if its goal was to destroy a more limited number of centrifuges and set back Iran’s progress in operating FEP while making detection of the malware difficult, it may have succeeded, at least for a while.”

Interestingly, a worm considered a descendent of Stuxnet, Duqu, now appears to be currently designed to steal information, but its modular architecture suggests that it could be tasked with other goals in future versions.

Even more intriguingly, Duqu appears to have been coded in an odd programming language which researchers have called “the Duqu Framework.” This framework has since been identified by Kaspersky Labs as a custom version of C called Object Oriented C complied with the Microsoft Visual Studio compiler.

I’d suggest that Stuxnet and Duqu as military cyber espionage weapons were actually failures, not because they probably only caused limited damage, but because we launched a weapon that can, and will, be turned against us.

Why? Because code is code. It’s a set of ideas frozen into binary and when you execute that code — when you make the ideas actually do something — the bits don’t vanish and the ideas don’t get mangled. They’re still there. No matter how much you encrypt, hide, and obfuscate your code and your ideas, there’s always someone, somewhere who can decrypt, find, and unobfuscate all of it.

Even when the malware is military grade, it would be foolish to assume that the enemy can’t profit from our research and development, because when we attack they get a clean copy of the weapon we attack them with. And there are lots of really clever people out there, clever people who don’t live in the U.S. and who don’t have our best interests at heart. They have access to powerful computers and software just like we do and they are more than capable of decoding what we’ve sent out and turning our ideas against us.

So, my friends, we’re on the verge of a new world of hurt for the enterprise. Cyber espionage, both industrial and military, is coming of age, and in our efforts to compromise the plans and programs of other nations and enterprises, we’re also spreading what are, in effect, the prototypes for sophisticated advanced software weapons that will eventually be available for anyone with the need, the opportunity, and the guts to use them. You think computer security is tough today? Just wait …

Gibbs is insecure in Ventura, Calif. Your threat assessment to gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about wide area network in Network World’s Wide Area Network section.

 

 

 

Stuxnet cyberattack by US a ‘destabilizing and dangerous’ course of action, security expert Bruce Schneier says

Schneier calls Stuxnet ‘mistake’ for US, argues world needs to tackle cyber-arms control

By , Network World

 

Revelations by The New York Times that President Barack Obama in his role as commander in chief ordered the Stuxnet cyberattack against Iran’s uranium-enrichment facility two years ago in cahoots with Israel is generating controversy, with Washington in an uproar over national-security leaks. But the important question is whether this covert action of sabotage against Iran, the first known major cyberattack authorized by a U.S. president, is the right course for the country to take. Are secret cyberattacks helping the U.S. solve geopolitical problems or actually making things worse?

Bruce Schneier, noted security expert and author, whose most recent book is “Liars and Outliers,” argues the U.S. made a mistake with Stuxnet, and he discusses why it’s important for the world to tackle cyber-arms control now in an interview with Network World senior editor Ellen Messmer.

SLIDESHOW: Worst data breaches of 2012 — so far

The question is going to be debated whether Stuxnet was a good tactic to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon by sabotaging its facility through a malware attack in a covert action that was ultimately discovered. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News last night, former National Security Agency director, retired Gen. Michael Hayden, said he thought it amounted to “taunting Iran.” Based on the mix of military leadership, governmental leadership and ethical questions it raises, is Stuxnet a suitable approach?

There are two parts to this analysis. The first is tactical: Is a cyber-weapon more or less suitable than a conventional weapon? In 2007 Israel attacked a Syrian nuclear facility; it was a conventional attack with warplanes and bombs. Comparing the two, Stuxnet seems far more humane — even though it damaged networks outside of Iran. The other part to the analysis is more strategic. Stuxnet didn’t just damage the Natanz nuclear facility; it damaged the U.S.’s credibility as a fair arbiter and force for peace in cyberspace. Its effects will be felt as other countries ramp up their offensive cyberspace capabilities in response. For that reason, Stuxnet was a destabilizing and dangerous course of action.

David Sanger’s NY Times article of June 1, headlined “Obama order sped up wave of cyberattacks against Iran,” offers a vivid account of how President Obama decided cyberattacks against Iran should proceed through cooperation with Israel through use of the Stuxnet malware. However effective this might have been in stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, it’s now widely thought that the Stuxnet malware got out of control, spreading in the wild. What’s your view on this, assuming the Times article is fully accurate?

It seems to be correct.

Sanger’s article was very interesting, and it is worth reading, but it basically confirmed everything we all knew. We knew that Stuxnet was the work of Israel and the United States. We knew that it was intended as a pinpoint attack, and spread beyond its intended target. Other investigative journalists uncovered these truths already. What Sanger’s article added to the discussion was detail about the program from inside both the Obama and the Bush administrations.

Richard Clarke’s book “Cyber War” draws the distinction between cyber-espionage and cyberattacks. He argues cyber-espionage should basically be considered a routine, acceptable practice of any country as part of government intelligence operations. But he argues other state-sponsored operations, such as putting malware secretly into a power grid for example, or launching an actual attack, is distinctly different, and has to be considered in the realm of offensive weapons. Clarke suggests cyberweapons should be subject to arms control agreements of various sorts much as other types of weapons that can be used in war are today. Do you draw the distinction between cyber-espionage and cyberweapons along these lines? And should there be an effort by the U.S. and others to craft treaties related to cyber-arms?

Of course there’s a difference between intelligence gathering and offensive military actions. Throughout history, there has been a bright line between the two. And what’s true in the geopolitics of the physical world is no different in cyberspace. This same distinction also exists in computer security more generally. There is a fundamental difference between passive eavesdropping attacks and more active attacks that delete or overwrite data. As to arms control agreements, I think it is vital for both society and cyberspace that we begin these discussions now. We’re in the early years of a cyberwar arms race, an arms race that will be expensive, destabilizing, and dangerously damaging. It will lead to the militarization of cyberspace, and the transformation of the Internet into something much less free and open. Perhaps it’s too late to reverse this trend — certainly you can argue that military grade cyberweapons like Stuxnet and Flame have already destroyed the U.S.’s credibility as a leader for a free and open Internet — but the only chance we have are cyberweapons treaties.

If so, how do you think that should proceed?

I’m not an idealist. I know that cyberwar treaties will be difficult to negotiate and even more difficult to enforce. Given how easy it is for a country to hide a chemical weapons plant, I know that it will be even easier to hide a cyberweapons plant. I also know that there is a lot of money and power trying to sow cyberwar fears.

But even with all of this, I think there is enormous value in the treaty process — and in the treaties themselves. I think we need to proceed by starting the dialogue. We made a mistake with Stuxnet: We traded a small short-term gain for a large longer-term loss. We can’t undo that, but we can do better in the future.

Read more about security in Network World’s Security section.

 

 

Another Crook Caught Because of Posting on Facebook

By Christina DesMarais, PCWorld

Yet another criminal has managed to get himself caught after posting on Facebook.

Convicted robber James Tindell skipped out of Oregon earlier this year to avoid court-ordered drug treatment and other conditions he had accepted so as to avoid prison.

Tindell (Source: Multnomah County Sheriff)

But instead of flying under the radar, Tindell made Facebook posts that taunted his probation officer, complained about the judge who sentenced him, and ranted about the criminal justice system. Not only that, he posted things like “I’m in Alabama” and a sonogram of his unborn child that showed the name of the hospital in Alabama where it was taken.

His probation officer spotted the posts and asked prosecutors to issue a nationwide arrest warrant. Tindell was then apprehended after getting pulled over for speeding — another genius move by someone running from the law.

In the end the clueless criminal was ordered to reimburse the state $2600 for flying him back to Oregon and sent to prison for 2½ years.

It’s far from an isolated case.

Last year a thief in Georgia used a cell phone he found in a stolen purse to post a picture of himself on the victim’s Facebook page. He likely didn’t know the phone’s owner had it set up to automatically post photos to the social network.

And in April a dim-witted British crook was busted after a friend posted a photo of him on Facebook with a TV he’d stolen.

Charles Holden stole a plasma TV, a PlayStation, and some games from a house in which he formerly had roomed. He then sold the goods right outside the door while one of his friends snapped a picture of the transaction.

The victim, suspecting Holden, snooped around on his Facebook page as well as those of his friends and spotted the incriminating photo, which led to an arrest.

And this one is classic: A Pennsylvania man back in 2009 stopped to check his Facebook account on a computer in the home he was in the process of robbing. He forgot to log out before taking off with his loot.

Of course, the victim later noticed his mistake and gave police identifying information to make a speedy arrest.

Although you’d think enough of these stories have surfaced that malefactors would

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Survival / Sustainability

 

Is Bugging Out Really Worth It?

 

Urban Survival Site

Is Bugging Out Really Worth It?A lot of hardcore preppers insist that you have a bug out bag and a bug out location. Many of them say that when the SHTF, the cities will burn to the ground. And even if they don’t burn, the people living in them will starve to death or be murdered by looters.

Personally, I don’t think things will ever get quite that bad. (The only exception would be if there were an EMP blast or a nuclear war, but that is beyond the scope of this site.) The government has contingency plans for natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes. I’m not saying they’ll do a great job (for example, FEMA after hurricane Katrina), but usually order will be restored in a few days, long before people start killing each other for food. There are also contingency plans for an economic collapse. There have been hundreds of examples of economic collapse in history, and it almost never happens overnight. Things can get really bad, but at the same time the descent is slow enough to where the government and the people can adapt and avoid absolute chaos.

So my point is: It’s not as dangerous to be in the city during a disaster as most people claim. And if things actually get so bad in the cities that you can’t survive there, you won’t be much better off in the country, anyway. I want to show you a quote from The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse. The author, Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, was living in Argentina during the hyperinflation and economic disaster it experienced in 2001. Here’s what he has to say about living in the country:

…the kind of home invasions people living in the country have suffered here in Argentina are the stuff of nightmares. The same tranquility [in the country] that people like so much works in the bad guys’ favor. You can scream all you want, but no one will hear you. They can spend days in your house raping and torturing, without worry if a neighbor saw them…

You might be planning on having guards posted 24/7 and that you’ll shoot first and ask questions later. But unless you have an army at your disposal, you could easily find yourself overwhelmed by the criminal gangs that head into the countryside. The reason there will be so many criminal gangs in the country is they know the police will be too occupied in the city to respond in time, and they know people in the country have lots of food and weapons. And sure, you could shoot everybody that steps food on your property, but that’s a good way to wind up in jail. Just because there’s been a disaster doesn’t mean the police won’t eventually be there to lock you up. You have to be realistic.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Last Minute Preps

 

Urban Survival Site

Last Minute PrepsImagine the shit has hit the fan and you didn’t bother to prepare. A pandemic is spreading across the country like a wildfire, maybe an earthquake has knocked out the power and water. Perhaps there’s been a terrorist attack and part of your town is in flames, or hyperinflation has hit a critical point where prices are rising throughout the day. If something like this occurs, you’ll have to run to the nearest grocery store and get what you can, while you can.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get everything you need to last for several months, but it might still be possible to get enough to ride out whatever disaster has occurred. Pull the kids out of school and keep your cell phone handy. You and your family will have to work together and keep in touch. If you own multiple cars, take them to the gas station caravan-style and fill up. Also buy some containers and fill them with extra gas.

On your way to the grocery store, call your doctor to renew any prescriptions you might need. When you get there, each of you should grab a different cart and take a different part of the list. Don’t get into fights with other last-minute shoppers. And if the store doesn’t have something you’re looking for, forget about it and move on. Maybe the next store you go to will have it.

You will need cash! First go to an ATM and withdraw as much as you can, or go to a store that offers cash back and get as much as they’ll allow. Some stores might not be able to accept plastic in this situation. Hopefully you already have a lot of cash on hand because if the power is out everywhere you just might be up the creek with no paddle.

The list is below. I suggest sending the kids or the wife to get the non-food items as most people will be fighting over the food and water.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Why Do I Prepare?

 

Urban Survival Site

 

I haven’t visited my own site in a while. Unfortunately, despite it’s popularity, it’s not the kind of site that generates a lot of revenue and I need all the money I can get to continue prepping for the future. I hope it’s helped many beginners get started.

Since my last post, I’ve had a few people ask me what I expect to happen. In other words, what exactly am I preparing for? Do I think there will be a nuclear war, bioterrorism, a zombie outbreak, or what? There are many types of survivalists, but personally I am expecting an economic depression far worse than the Great Depression, a disaster that will literally be talked about for centuries.

Why do I expect something so horrible to happen? First, you should know that I subscribe to the Austrian School of Economics, the only economic theory which has accurately predicted every economic downturn since before the Great Depression. It maintains that government intervention, taxation and deficits harm economies while free markets and minimal government lead to prosperity. If you understand Austrian economics and take at look at what’s happening in our country, it’s not hard to predict what’s going to happen. I’m no expert, but I’m going to lay out the basics as well as I can so that you will understand what’s coming.

The Federal Reserve (essentially the central bank of the United States) is the cause of all the booms and busts since 1913. In a truly capitalist country, the market would decide where to set interest rates (the rate at which banks borrow money). But the Fed insists on controlling them. And when the Fed keeps interest rates too low, it makes it possible for the government to run larger deficits.

Part 1: There was a boom in the late 1990′s (mostly in tech stocks) because of the easy money made available by artificially low interest rates. When people realized how overvalued those stocks were, it led to a bust in 2000, and a major recession would have cured the problem and put the economy back on stable footing. Contrary to popular belief, recessions are the cure because they cause people to stop wasting their money and start saving again. The recession would have been very short. But George W. Bush didn’t want to inherit a recession, so he and the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, decided the Fed should lower interest rates even more. This delayed the major recession we needed, made the problem much worse, and led to…

Part 2: A boom in housing in the mid 2000′s. When people started defaulting on their mortgages and banks realized how overvalued houses were, it led to a bust in 2008, and a short depression would have fixed the problem (read about the Depression of 1920. The government did nothing and the economy recovered in 1 year). A short depression would have hurt a lot more than what we’re going through now, but at least things would be back to normal by now. But Obama didn’t want to inherit a depression, so he and the new chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, decided the Fed should lower interest rates to virtually zero. This delayed the depression, made the problem much much worse, and led to…

 

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

 

 

 

Selenium controls staph on implant material

 

Intern Daily
by Staff Writers
Providence RI (SPX) Jun 25, 2012


Qi Wang swirls a solution of selenium nanoparticles in the lab. Coatings of the nanoparticles appear effective in fighting staph bacteria in medical device materials, according to a new study. Credit: Webster Lab/Brown University.

Selenium is an inexpensive element that naturally belongs in the body. It is also known to combat bacteria. Still, it had not been tried as an antibiotic coating on a medical device material. In a new study, Brown University engineers report that when they used selenium nanoparticles to coat polycarbonate, the material of catheters and endotracheal tubes, the results were significant reductions in cultured populations of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, sometimes by as much as 90 percent.

“We want to keep the bacteria from generating a biofilm,” said Thomas Webster, professor of engineering and orthopaedics, who studies how nanotechnology can improve medical implants. He is the senior author of the paper, published online this week in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research A.

Biofilms are notoriously tough colonies of bacteria to treat because they are often able to resist antibiotic drugs.

“The longer we can delay or inhibit completely the formation of these colonies, the more likely your immune system will clear them,” Webster said. “Putting selenium on there could buy more time to keep an endotracheal tube in a patient.”

Meanwhile, Webster said, because selenium is actually a recommended nutrient, it should be harmless in the body at the concentrations found in the coatings. Also, it is much less expensive than silver, a less biocompatible material that is the current state of the art for antibacterial medical device coatings.

Webster has been investigating selenium nanoparticles for years, mostly for their possible anticancer effects. As he began to look at their antibiotic properties, he consulted with Hasbro Children’s Hospital pediatrician Keiko Tarquinio, assistant professor of pediatrics, who has been eager to find ways to reduce biofilms on implants.

Studying selenium
For this study, Webster and first author Qi Wang grew selenium nanoparticles of two different size ranges and then used solutions of them to coat pieces of polycarbonate using a quick, simple process. On some of the polycarbonate, they then applied and ripped off tape not only to test the durability of the coatings but also to see how a degraded concentration of selenium would perform against bacteria.

On coated polycarbonate – both the originally coated and the tape-tested pieces – Wang and Webster used electron and atomic force microscopes to measure the concentration of nanoparticles and how much surface area of selenium was exposed to interact with bacteria.

One of their findings was that after the tape test, smaller nanoparticles adhered better to the polycarbonate than larger ones.

Then they were ready for the key step: experiments that exposed cultured staph bacteria to polycarbonate pieces, some of which were left uncoated as controls. Among the coated pieces, some had the larger nanoparticles and some had the smaller ones. Some from each of those groups had been degraded by the tape, and others had not.

All four types of selenium coatings proved effective in reducing staph populations after 24, 48, and 72 hours compared to the uncoated controls. The most potent effects – reductions larger than 90 percent after 24 hours and as much as 85 percent after 72 hours – came from coatings of either particle size range that had not been degraded by the tape. Among those coatings that had been subjected to the tape test, the smaller nanoparticle coatings proved more effective.

Staph populations exposed to any of the coated polycarbonate pieces peaked at the 48-hour timeframe, perhaps because that is when the bacteria could take fullest advantage of the in vitro culture medium. But levels always fell back dramatically by 72 hours.

The next step, Webster said, is to begin testing in animals. Such in vivo experiments, he said, will test the selenium coatings in a context where the bacteria have more available food but will also face an immune system response.

The results may ultimately have commercial relevance. Former graduate students developed a business plan for the selenium nanoparticle coatings while in school and have since licensed the technology from Brown for their company, Axena Technologies.

 

Related Links
Brown University
Hospital and Medical News at InternDaily.com

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

 

Nature fights back – bugs devour GM Monsanto corn with a vengeance

Friday, June 22, 2012 by: Tony Isaacs

corn

(NaturalNews) Corn genetically engineered by Monsanto to kill western corn rootworm is reportedly being devoured by those pests with a vengeance. Thanks to heavy reliance on the genetically modified (GM) crops, the tiny rootworm pest has overtaken fields, outsmarting the genetic engineering that was supposed to keep it away.

Nature fights back against GM corn
The GM corn, launched in 2003, is engineered to produce a protein, known as Cry3Bb1, derived from a bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. In theory, rootworms ingest Bt corn roots and the protein is fatal. However, recent reports indicate that pesticide-resistant rootworms are showing up weeks earlier and more voraciously than ever.

In a research paper published in the July/August/September 2012 issue of the journal GM Crops & Food, scientists reported that samples taken in 2010 indicated that rootworm populations had an eleven-fold survival rate on Cry3Bb1 maize than did control populations. The paper noted that resistant corn rootworm populations first identified in 2009 had three-fold survival rates on Cry3Bb1 maize at that time compared to other populations.

Mike Gray, a professor of entomology with the University of Illinois reported: “We’re still early in the growing season, and the adults are about a month ahead of schedule,” explained Gray. “I was surprised to see them – and there were a lot.”

Reports of increasing rootworm damage began coming in last year after Iowa State University researcher Aaron Gassmann published a study saying that the rootworms in Iowa were becoming resistant to GM corn, creating so-called “superbugs.” Farmers in several states found that the western corn rootworm was surviving after ingesting an insecticidal toxin produced by the corn plants.

Read Full Article Here

New study on Monsanto corn suggests GMO trees could devastate forest ecosystems

24Apr2012

By

“Some trees are being genetically engineered to contain the Bt toxin,” notes Anne Peterman of Stop GE Trees.  “This could be a tremendous threat to forest ecosystem soils, in which beneficial fungi are a key component of the forest ecosystem.”

The feds have allowed seven southeastern states to plant GM forests. See Alien Forest, Alien Ocean, Alien Sky; and watch the award-winning documentary, “A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees” (2005, 46 mins) which details the appalling effects allowed by the Monsanto-owned federal government. (You can buy the full length film at Amazon.) ~ Ed.

By Ryan Villarreal
International Business Times

Bioengineering agricultural giant Monsanto has touted the safety of genetically modified crops, but a new study has found that insecticide-containing corn can be harmful to the overall health of soil ecosystems.

Genetically modified corn has been linked to a decrease in a subterranean fungus that forms a symbiotic bond with plant roots, allowing them to draw in more nutrients and water from the surrounding soil in exchange for carbon.

Researchers at Portland State University conducted a study to examine the effects of corn genetically engineered with the bacteria-derived insecticidal toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, on growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).

AMF is important for the overall health and fertility of soil ecosystems, and was found to form less bonds with the roots of Bt corn than with non-Bt corn.

“Because these fungi rely on a plant host for nutrition and reproduction, they may be sensitive to genetic changes within a plant, such as insect-resistant Bt corn,” Tanya Cheeke, a PhD student in biology at Portland State, told the American Journal of Botany.

Cheeke conducted the study as part of her doctoral research into the impact of genetically modified crops on soil ecosystems.

“What makes our study unique is that we evaluated AMF colonization in 14 different lines of Bt and non-Bt corn under consistent experimental conditions in a greenhouse using locally collected agricultural field soil as the AMF inoculum,” Cheeke told AJB.

Cheeke planted corn seeds containing the Bt gene and without it into soil containing AMF to simulate agricultural conditions on modern industrial farms.

Cheeke also tested AMF growth with other crops in soil formerly planted with both Bt and non-Bt corn. With soybeans planted in both soils, AMF root bonding was not harmed, leading Cheeke to conclude that the Bt gene was not directly toxic to AMF, but that its only known damage is to root bonding with Bt corn.

According to Cheeke, in 2011, 88 percent of corn cultivated in the U.S. was genetically modified with insecticides like Bt.

Read Full Article Here

Documentary- A Silent Forest. The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees- Full Movie

Bad Seed Danger of Genetically Modified Food

 

Uploaded by on Oct 15, 2011

This documentary exposes a vast conspiracy to contaminate and control the world’s food supply through genetic engineering of food crops. Leading scientists, researchers and activists present the facts that you need to know about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The methods used to genetically engineer plants are imprecise and extremely dangerous. Eighty percent of food sold in North America already has ingredients made of GMOs that have not been adequately tested for safety. This program presents all the facts about this alarming controversy and features the best-known, most credible bio tech / agriculture authorities in the world today.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Environmental

New study on Monsanto corn suggests GMO trees could devastate forest ecosystems

24Apr2012

By

“Some trees are being genetically engineered to contain the Bt toxin,” notes Anne Peterman of Stop GE Trees.  “This could be a tremendous threat to forest ecosystem soils, in which beneficial fungi are a key component of the forest ecosystem.”

The feds have allowed seven southeastern states to plant GM forests. See Alien Forest, Alien Ocean, Alien Sky; and watch the award-winning documentary, “A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees” (2005, 46 mins) which details the appalling effects allowed by the Monsanto-owned federal government. (You can buy the full length film at Amazon.) ~ Ed.

By Ryan Villarreal
International Business Times

Bioengineering agricultural giant Monsanto has touted the safety of genetically modified crops, but a new study has found that insecticide-containing corn can be harmful to the overall health of soil ecosystems.

Genetically modified corn has been linked to a decrease in a subterranean fungus that forms a symbiotic bond with plant roots, allowing them to draw in more nutrients and water from the surrounding soil in exchange for carbon.

Researchers at Portland State University conducted a study to examine the effects of corn genetically engineered with the bacteria-derived insecticidal toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, on growth of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).

AMF is important for the overall health and fertility of soil ecosystems, and was found to form less bonds with the roots of Bt corn than with non-Bt corn.

“Because these fungi rely on a plant host for nutrition and reproduction, they may be sensitive to genetic changes within a plant, such as insect-resistant Bt corn,” Tanya Cheeke, a PhD student in biology at Portland State, told the American Journal of Botany.

Cheeke conducted the study as part of her doctoral research into the impact of genetically modified crops on soil ecosystems.

“What makes our study unique is that we evaluated AMF colonization in 14 different lines of Bt and non-Bt corn under consistent experimental conditions in a greenhouse using locally collected agricultural field soil as the AMF inoculum,” Cheeke told AJB.

Cheeke planted corn seeds containing the Bt gene and without it into soil containing AMF to simulate agricultural conditions on modern industrial farms.

Cheeke also tested AMF growth with other crops in soil formerly planted with both Bt and non-Bt corn. With soybeans planted in both soils, AMF root bonding was not harmed, leading Cheeke to conclude that the Bt gene was not directly toxic to AMF, but that its only known damage is to root bonding with Bt corn.

According to Cheeke, in 2011, 88 percent of corn cultivated in the U.S. was genetically modified with insecticides like Bt.

Read Full Article Here

Documentary- A Silent Forest. The Growing Threat, Genetically Engineered Trees- Full Movie


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Cyber Space

‘Hurt Locker’ Studio Sues 2,514 Over Copyright Infringement

By Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PCWorld    Apr 24, 2012 7:41 AM

'Hurt Locker' Sue 2,514 Over Copyright InfringementVoltage Pictures, the movie studio that gained its fame by producing the Academy Award-winning film “The Hurt Locker” and targeting 24,583 BitTorrent users in a piracy-related lawsuit last year, is on another copyright infringement crusade.

According to TorrentFreak, the studio has filed a new lawsuit in Florida against 2,514 unnamed defendants, all of whom are accused of illegally downloading “The Hurt Locker.”

[RELATED: So, You’re Being Sued for Piracy]

The lawsuit lists the IP addresses of the 2,514 defendants, and admits that Voltage Pictures does not know their identities. Voltage Pictures is asking for a subpoena to obtain the true names and addresses of the defendants, probably so it can threaten them with legal action and force them to settle for around $3,000 apiece.

This is the how piracy-related copyright lawsuits typically work; they’re never meant to actually see the inside of a courtroom. Instead, companies subpoena Internet service providers for the IP addressees’ personal details, and then spend their time attempting to get people to settle for somewhere between $1,000 and $3,000.

If Voltage Pictures can get even 15 percent of the 2,514 defendants to settle for $3,000, the studio will make around $1.13 million.

Read Full Article Here

Identity Theft: When Millions of Dead People Apply for Credit Cards

By Tim Greene, NetworkWorld    Apr 23, 2012 3:40 pm

Seems that the threat of identity theft doesn’t end, even with death. Identity thieves apply for millions of credit cards per year using personal information of the deceased, a study shows.

The identification data for nearly 2.5 million dead people — names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers — are used by criminals to fill out credit card applications each year, according to a study performed by ID Analytics.

BACKGROUND: IRS: Top 10 things every taxpayer should know about identity theft

MORE: The Most Mortifying Moments in IT Security History

The majority of those — about 1.6 million — are typos made by identity thieves when entering Social Security Numbers, and thereby flagging matches with SSNs listed in the Social Security Administration Death Master File, the study says.

Read Full Article  Here

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Survival / Sustainability

BBC – Horizon – How to Survive a Disaster Part.1

Uploaded by on Apr 21, 2011

When disaster strikes who lives and who dies is not purely a matter of luck. In every disaster, from those people face once in a lifetime, to those they face every day, there are things that can be done to increase the chances of getting out alive.
Horizon has gathered a team of leading experts to produce the ultimate guide to disaster survival. Through controversial experiments, computer simulations and analysis of hundreds of survivor testimonies from plane crashes to ferry disasters and even 9/11, they will reveal what happens in the mind in the moment of crisis and how the human brain can be programmed for survival.

BBC – Horizon – How to Survive a Disaster Part.2

BBC – Horizon – How to Survive a Disaster Part.3

BBC – Horizon –  How to Survive a Disaster Part.4

BBC – Horizon –  How to Survive a Disaster Part.5

Ultimate Emergency Food – Urban Survival

Uploaded by on Feb 12, 2012

I don’t see enough talk about sprouting in the survival community. Not only is sprouting an inexpensive, easy way to grow organic, non-gmo food free of radiation, it’s also perfect for starting seedlings.

Many of you already have seeds (probably heritage, non-gmo) in your stores in the event that you have to grow a victory garden. Well adding a sprouter kit only makes sense to me. You can grow food indoors with very little light, water and heat AND you can start your seedlings for your garden!

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Activism

10 Arrested–Including Vietnam Veteran, Minister, Students, Unemployed–At Wells Fargo Action

 Ahead of the big bank’s shareholder meeting tomorrow, 10 activists were arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, at a Wells Fargo office, where they were sitting in to demand CEO John Stumpf grant them time to address the meeting.

Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, as well as National People’s Action director George Goehl, occupied the headquarters of the bank’s Home Mortgage division, calling for time for the 99% Power coalition to address the shareholder event and present their demands, which include reducing principal on underwater mortgages and paying their fair share of taxes.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Hawaii wants GMO foods labeled (opinion)

By Hesh Goldstein, April 24 2012
(NaturalNews) For years Monsanto has infiltrated our islands because of our year round planting and growing cycle. Unfortunately, what they are planting and growing is detrimental to the health of anyone that consumes it. Because of Monsanto’s financial power, they succeed in “buying” state and federal politicians that regularly bend over forward for them and acquiesce to anything they say. This is evidenced by the fact that Monsanto’s former attorneys, employees and okole kissers, head key government…

Citizens, OCA pledge to help Vermont and other states raise money to fight Monsanto

By Ethan A. Huff, April 24 2012
(NaturalNews) America is at a crucial tipping point in the fight for food labeling transparency, as the state of Vermont could be the first in the union to require mandatory labeling of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). But Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and the Vermont state legislature need some serious prodding from the public to make it happen, as Monsanto’s intimidation and threat tactics are on the verge of killing this important first step towards real food freedom. Similar to the ballot initiative that Californians will have the opportunity to vote on this fall (http://www.naturalnews.com), H.722, also known as the Vermont Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, would require that all GMOs and products that contain GMOs be properly labeled. And H.722 is supported by more than 90 percent of Vermonters, and also has overwhelming support from the Vermont House Agriculture Committee (http://www.naturalnews.com/035628_Monsanto_Vermont_GMO_labeling.html).

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Community

Caine’s Arcade

Published on Apr 9, 2012 by

A 9 year old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store is about to have the best day of his life. Help Caine’s Scholarship Fund: http://CainesArcade.com

Get the Caine’s Arcade Theme Song on iTunes!
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/caines-arcade-single/id518928144

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Articles of Interest

Assange’s mainstream friends U-turn after show boom

Published on Apr 24, 2012 by

The media that once praised Julian Assange, hailing him a hero for his work as a whistleblower, has now drastically changed its tune, after the debut of his talk show on RT. While some say it’s due to journalistic jealousy, others believe the U-turn is political. Laura Smith reports from London.

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