October 2009 Archives

FAVREAU: Biotechnology's Hope to Benefit the Future

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Seed article "Can Biotechnology Safely Reverse the Course of Our Deteriorating Biosphere?"

Many technological developments that are first released as a "scientific breakthrough" and "great step for science" are later found to have negative effects on the environment.  Some examples of this include crop irrigation that led to malaria, fertilizer that led to microbial blooms and fish kills, and insect management that has affected the food chain.  At the time of development, these scientific technologies were believed to have a positive effect on the environment, but after years of use their negative side effects were revealed.

Scientists understand that many technologies have had a negative impact on the environment, and are now trying to solve these man made problems by creating another type of technology.  This concept of solving problems the easy way, with a "technological fix" relates to the discussion we had in class after reading "The Prophet of Garbage".  This idea of fixing one technologies mistake with another technology seems to be a complicated process that could be avoided by throughly testing and regulating technologies before they are produced.  

The SEED article argues in favor of using Biotechnology to improve our biosphere.  The article outlines many possibilities for use that would mock natural processes, using the technology of science.  One example of this is solving the problem of global warming by converting CO2 into useful products, following the same process that is used in nature to convert CO2 into photosynthesis.

The article also covers other examples of ways to use biotechnology to our advantage in terms of creating organisms that are resistant to viruses and a specific example of this would be to cure HIV.  A one time injection of blood cells that could create HIV resistant T-cells could prove to be more efficient and less expensive than the current medications used on those who suffer from HIV.

Although the article makes valid argument in favor of using biotechnology to benefit our existence and improve the environment, I believe that government regulation needs to be very careful about what kinds of technologies they allow.  I believe that there needs to be stronger regulation for new developments of scientific "fix" technologies to make sure that they will not create a negative side effect that is more dangerous than the problem they are fixing.  The rate at which scientific developments are made continues to speed up, causing many developments to slip through to production without fully being researched and tested.  I think the most important part of scientific developments is to make sure that the developments are meeting regulation standards that are protecting humans and the environment.

Tetyana Navalyana- Blog #3

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Tetyana Navalyana

 

            How many of you wash your hands several times a day in order to prevent the spread of germs? Most of us can agree that washing hands is an important part of a daily routine. It helps us avoid the bacteria that might often times make us sick. For nineteen years, my family has taught me that using hand sanitizer as well as washing my hands regularly will prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and other diseases that are out there.

            When reading the article "The Germs of Life" it helped me to better see how important it is to wash your hands, to keep yourself in shape and to also be healthy in order to prevent from getting some type of a virus. So why am I so afraid of bacteria? Growing up in a poor town Ternopil' in Ukraine, I never had enough vitamins when I was younger. The reason for this was money. We lived very poor. Sometimes even without heat, light, water or even bread on the table. Vitamins were always rare and hard to get on the market. Therefore, I never ate oranges, bananas, grapes and other fruits that are rich in vitamins and from that, I developed a very weak immune system. Every two weeks I would get sick in Ukraine, and miss school in order to not spread the virus to my peers. When I got to America, all of this changed. I started to eat more vitamins and became healthier. I don't get sick as much any more, not like I used to be when I was younger.

            We also discussed how important it is to use hand sanitizer in the university. I believe that it was a very smart idea to install sanitizer boxes in every building in order to keep every one safe and hopefully to prevent the spread of H1N1. There is a lot of diversity in this university. People come here from different towns, cities, states and countries, bringing all sorts of diseases with them. Therefore it is a good idea to not ignore this, and instead be on the safe side and sanitize your hands when you can!

Medical treatments make people feel more safety?

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Hieu Nguyen

The people today are very concern about science and technology has been going too far when they create a lot of medicals and using bacteria or chemical in the foods. But I think I will feel more safety when we have vaccinated in the hospital than if I am sick and don't have any vaccinate or any medical treatment. When I go to doctor for  treatment, it is the best way to ask more about the medical that he give me, I usually want to know is there any negative affect when I am using this treatment?

 Even though, I know some of the medical treatment will be affect us in some way but If we really need it to safe our life I will accept it, and not against it. For example, the treatment of cancer will make the patient losing hair, High blood pressure medical treatment that may cause leg swell. Thinking about the cause and affects the medical may cause you to losing hair, or leg swell but the affect you will get better, or live longer.

Thinking about vaccinate, when you go to clinic and asking for the flu vaccinate, what is vaccinate? Is it a medical?  That is just the way of using bacterial to enter to your body in order to prevent you from getting really sick when a strong flu bacteria attack your body. Not all of bacteria are harmful to us; some kind of bacteria still can help us to prevent some of the symptoms before the symptoms become worst.

 Even though, the population of bacterial grow very fast, and can be harmful to us, the article germs of life that we discuss today talk about the fearing of bacteria but I think if the science know how to use bacteria and turn them to helpful organism, be able to control them and don't make them become harmful to the world, I think bacteria is helpful to us in some way.

Germs of Life

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T. Adam Wichelmann

It's safe to say we have a love hate relationship with bacteria.  Bacteria have the ability to aid in intestinal degistion and, on the other hand, cause a person to die from severe illness.  The Germs of Life article interprets and discusses this strange relationship.  I found this article particularly interesting because it discusses a topic that is extremely relative to a current issue, germs.  With H1N1 tackling the headlines, how can we ignore this issue?

The Germs of Life article gives a brief overview of the history of the relationship between mankind and bacteria.  I strongly believe understanding the history of bacteria will help us understand the current bacteria situation and how we can monitor the human-bacteria relationship.  Bacteria have been on this earth much longer than humans.  This article dates them back over 3.8 billion years ago.  The surface of the earth is constantly changing.  Bacteria have evolved with every change and live in every corner of the earth.  Bacteria's unfailing ability to adapt has allowed it to survive.

Understanding bacteria's past and ability to adapt paints a clear picture of mankinds current state.  For many years, mankind has kept the bad bacteria at bay with anti-biotics.  Their quick success gained popularity and, today, are regularly administered to humans and animals alike.  Unfortunately, anti-biotic resistant bacteria have been making their way onto the scene as well.  What can this be attributed to?  The answer, bacteria's ability to adapt.  Bacteria has simpley adapted to the everyday anti-biotics we've been administering for the past thirty plus years.  Essentially we have put so much anti-biotics back into the environment that bacteria have been able to adapt and build an immunity.

How do we curb these bacteria?  Are more anti-biotics the answer?  These two questions are highly debated topics.  I personally think that new anti-biotics are in order, but not necessarily the answer.  I think we need to develop new anti-biotics to curb the already anti-biotic resistant bacteria, but also limit its usage.  If we slow down anti-biotic usage, than we slow down the bacteria's ability to adapt.  In order for us to slow down the use of anti-biotics, I think a strong paradigm shift is necessary.  Society as a whole is in need of a shift away from anti-biotics.  I believe our culture is too dependent on anti-biotics, and if we don't ween ourselves off of anti-biotics and shift our cultural norms, it might be too late.

A fix that could save our world . By Justin Schwartz

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            "The Prophet of Garbage," which was written by Michael Behar is one of the most fascinating articles that I have read so far this year. The article sheds light on a pressing issue that humanity has faced for sometime. The problem at hand of course is what do we do with all of our garbage and "stuff" that can't be recycled? The fact of the matter is we may have a new "technological fix."

 

The new "technological fix" is called a plasma converter, a fifteen foot tall machine that takes up a lot less room then your local landfill. The machine only takes up about a one to two car garage worth of room in fact. The plasma converter actually looks quite simple in fact, being made out of solid stainless steel gives it an almost appliance look to it. There is no Star Wars technology used here and actually the technology behind the unit has been around for sometime now. Plasma, which is heated to very high temperatures in order to cut through metal, is used to magically make our trash disappear.

 

The first company to produce the plasma converter was STARTECH. STARTECH which is a Connecticut based company has already sold units to the United States military, Vietnam, Japan, and a number of states as well as other countries. And this brings me to think could this be a fix to all of our problems or just bring on new problems? Of course there people who will say "no, way this is just another machine that makes our world even worse off." I say that we are already destroying our only home and if this plasma converter can give us energy, take our landfills and make them disappear, and give us hydrogen, the cleanest fuel we have, then why not? Taking the eye sore and environmental hazard that is the land fill out of our back yards then what is the wait. If we get rid of our landfills which are producing hazardous gases and polluting our environment, we can develop that land into something beneficial such as farming or housing.

 

There are also people who will say "there is no way that this process can not eliminate these hazardous materials without creating new ones." In The Prophet of Garbage and in a program produced by Fox News, Joseph Lango, the founder of STARTECH says that the only by products are syngas and an obsidian like material. The material has been said to break down when in contact with water. But, on the other hand in Japan they are actually taking the obsidian like material and crushing it to make bricks for roads. If the research has been done to support the use of the obsidian for this purpose is still not clear to me, but can it be any worse then what we already doing? And of course the syngas is something that one can not forget. In the program produced by Fox News they show you that the basic gases that are produced are methane, CO, CO2, and methane. These gases then can also be turned in to hydrogen which can power machines such as cars. This of course would eliminate green house gases produced by cars and reduce or dependence on fossil fuels.

 

The energy produced from the almost self sustaining plasma converter is not all used for the machine alone. In fact only two thirds of the energy is used by the machine itself and the third can be used and recycled back in to the energy grid. The steam as well can be used to heat building. Again there are more pluses to using the plasma converter. You get more energy out of a machine that is actually saving the environment. We are not using nuclear energy and we are not ruining or lakes and rivers by using hydro power.

 

Public choices have brought us to need this technology and I believe in this technology. I certainly do believe that we should test the obsidian material for flaws, but if it is already being is used in everyday products it has already been in the real world testing stage. In my eyes there is now down side to the plasma converter. We are eliminating our landfills which are eye sores on top of taking up land, polluting our environment, and producing hazardous gases. We can produce energy that is clean and that can support our ever growing population. Certainly we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and we may have yet another break through. The plasma converters gas can be turned in to hydrogen to eliminate some of the dependency on the fossil fuels. We need to invest in this technology and make the public aware of it and invest in research to bring a solid foundation which to build upon.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Rax3IWc40

 

http://www.startech.net/plasma.html

Response to Germs of Life

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Michele Serbus

            In today's society, we wash everything we touch with antimicrobial substances. Added chemicals are put on handles to prevent growth of the avian flu or H1N1. This constant need to protect us from microbes is ever growing out of proportion.

            Many microbes have a symbiotic relationship with the human body. They allow us to synthesize essential vitamins, breakdown substances our body cannot and many other things, but many people do not know the function bacteria and many other microbes play in their body. The general public is uneducated in the benefits of these microbes to their daily health. They do not realize how the competitive nature between microbes prevents infection.

            Constant exposure to antibacterial drugs has allowed some bacteria to gain a resistance. Scientists are working constantly to create a new antibiotic that can manage these bacteria until the next can be found. It is a never-ending cycle of finding a drug to the resistant strain, resistance occurring, and researching a new alternative drug for the new resistant strain.

            Prevention is the only key to the problem. Now that we know how easily we can create resistance in microbes, we can only try to lessen these effects by not dumping antibiotics down the drain into our drinking water, using antibiotics when only necessary, and using higher dosages to kill of all microbes.

The New Industrial State by Walter Adams

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In reference to World War I, Charles Dawes, from The New Industrial State article by Walter Adams, said "Sure we paid.  We didn't dicker.  Why, man alive, we had to win the war.  We would have paid horse prices for sheep if sheep could have pulled artillery to the front.  Oh, it's all right now to say we brought too much vinegar and too many cold chisels, but we saved the civilization of the world.  Damn it all, the business of an army is to win the war, not to quibble around with a lot of cheap buying.  Hell and Maria, we weren't trying to keep a set of books, we were trying to win the war!"

 

Nowadays, the question is what are we trying to win?  Why are we still fighting?  The people interviewed from the video, Why We Fight, had different responses.  They actually did not know the answer and neither do I.  In the past, we were involved in wars because we strongly believed in fighting for freedom and liberty, and to rid communism.  The video also taught me that after 1950's, defense had doubled or tripled, and we used the reasons above to hide deeper facts.  In reality, military-industrial complex is corrupting public's taxes to spend on military goods which benefit mostly corporations instead of our nation. In other words, they "take food from the homeless and pay for military".  Government does little or no negotiations in these issues therefore are ignorant of the technology price, stockpiling, and international trade barrier.  It is disappointing to say that the President can only put a few words into this.  Even if he vetoes a bill, like when Kennedy cancelled the B-70 Bomber in 1961, Congress could still pass it (Wikipedia).  This issue is addressed in The Iron Triangle, as well. If the President cannot control the military-industrial complex, how can the citizens of the United States stop this?  I do not know the answer.  I assume many of them are unaware or cannot express their opinion freely.  Last semester, I took a geography class and we learned about protests.  People's rights to speak and assemble were denied if they cause a disruption.  A disruption is a very broad term and people who participate are likely to be beaten and arrested by police.  If this is the result, what happened to our freedom and liberty? 


Phuong Thuy Pham

The Dead Zone Dilemma

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Charlie Schiller

This article was very interesting to read because it sort of hits home for me.  I live on a dairy farm where we milk cows and also grow our own crops.  We try our best to reduce chemical run-off from our fields by planting cover crops every year.  I believe cover crops are going to become a must in crop production, because they do reduce chemical run-off from fields, and also offer several benefits to our environment.  I believe this article could have discussed some of the many practices that are now becoming more popular in crop production.  The article addresses the dead zone dilemma, and discusses how chemicals that are applied to crop production fields are knowingly becoming more detrimental to the Gulf of Mexico.  It is without question a reason for concern.  "Each year in April and May as farmers in the central US fertilize their crops, nearly 450 thousand metric tons of nitrates and phosphates pour down the Mississippi River.  When these chemicals reach the Gulf of Mexico, they cause a feeding frenzy as photosynthetic algae absorb the nutrients.  The algae populations grow explosively, then die and decompose.  This process depletes the water of oxygen on a vast scale, creating a suffocating "dead zone" the size of Massachusetts where few, if any, animals can survive."

            Yes, we need to do something about this problem!  However, I do not agree that our best options are to produce biofuels or build man-made wetlands.  I believe we have to eliminate chemical run-off by directing our focus to the fields.  We can become more eco-friendly by producing biofuels, but I believe it is only a band-aid approach.  Biofuels are basically only allowing another usage for crop commodities while placing crop commodities at a higher price value.  Biofuels are becoming a hot topic because they are a new and exciting way to reduce our heavy dependence on petroleum.  It states that people are optimistic about biofuels, pointing that it uses fungi to convert the cellulose in wood chips, corn stalks, and other agricultural "waste" into biofuels.  I believe biofuels have their place for discussion in society, but I believe cover crops will be a more beneficial practice to engage in to reduce the dead zone dilemma.

            A great example of a cover crop in Minnesota is winter rye.  Winter rye is planted in the fall, and sometimes is plowed down in the spring; then the farmers will plant their main crop.  However, some farmers will cut their cover crop close to the ground, and then use the no-till planting option.  No-till planting is another great way to prevent soil erosion and chemical run-off.  A farmer can just plant the seeds right into the cover crop, and the soil would never be wide open for erosion to occur. 

The government should pass a bill to help farmers pay for a cover crop so that they could easily afford planting one.  A cover crop wouldn't only help the farmers out; it would help out all the lakes, and the next generation of agriculturalists.  Soil erosion is contributing to chemical run-off and it is a big time issue.  People a hundred years in the future will be suffering from what we have done.  Top soil is so valuable, and crops will need fertile soil to grow in to be productive.  The need for outstanding yields is only going to grow in demand.  It's very simple.  The more people in the world; the more the world has to feed the people.  The first step is for our government to realize what is going on, and help the farmers grow a cover crop on their fields.  Having a cover crop is only a win-win situation that helps the farmers and reduces chemical run-off, what is the government waiting for? 

The germs of life.

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Taylor Nordstrom

I found the germs of life article extremely interesting.  I have been wondering myself what is going to happen with all of these germs building up resistances.  So far it seems that our pattern is to just create something that will kill the new germ, and cycle continues of us creating and the germ evolving. 

I have thought on this topic before, I was trying to gauge the positives and negatives.  Some of the things I thought of were that people are living much longer lives because of preventing germs that cause illnesses and death.  No doubt that it is soon becoming a problem also in that resistances are being formed to treatments and mutant bugs are also being formed that will be hard to defend.  Take the H1N1 for instance.  This is a new mutated disease that no one was immune to, and it has the potential to be devistating.

Humans aren't the only people who have to worry about mutating bugs.  Crops are soon becoming a problem also.  Several diseases are becoming immune to the things that we put on our crops to kill them.  The idea is just to make a new poison that will kill the new bug.  So it goes back to that cycle of mutation and design something new to kill the mutation.

I see in the future more pandemics and super bugs that are really going to hurt our people.  Our overuse of antibacterial products is a little out of hand and killing our own immunities and creating super bugs.  Some careful evaluation and study is needed to figure out a good plan for our future, because down the road there will be problems.

Blog Entry #3

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Dan Aleckson

Of the different topics we have discussed over the past few weeks, I found green chemistry to be particularly interesting.  After reading about the evidence of Bispherol A found in human bodies and all over the world, it is necessary to determine how harmful it really is to humans and our planet.  Scientists know it is a toxin that has negative effects in some marine organisms, but they aren't positive on how harmful it is to humans.

Knowing exactly how harmful this toxin is to humans, and the threat it poses to the overall health of the public, is an important part of green chemistry.  If it turns out that Bispherol A, and other synthetics, don't cause the planet much harm, then is it worth it to spend millions of dollars on green chemistry?  However, if studies show that overexposure causes cancer, then green chemistry is a necessity.  It would be very important because plastics and synthetics are being used more frequently in everyday life. 

One problem that could arise with green chemistry deals with the issue of patents.  If a private organization develops a "green" (by Grossman's standards) synthetic they would end up getting a patent so they would be the only company to offer it.  Let's say this green synthetic is applicable in everyday items like cell phones, food containers, and computer components, therefore it would be important for all the new products produced around the world to use this green synthetic to stop the exposure to Bisperol A.  It would be important for the implementation of green chemistry to be available to all the manufacturers so that we could begin to reduce the effects of unsafe synthetics.  One company patenting the green synthetic could delay the mass implementation of green chemistry.  This is one potential problem with green chemistry.

Response to Grossman's perspective - Lilian Keraka

Due to the fact that I have a perpetual appreciation for environmental chemistry, Grossman's Chasing molecules is undeniably one of my favorite topics of class discussion so far. It doesn't surprise me at all that our environment is concentrated with such toxic, life threatening chemicals. It is easy for us to say that we need to develop new and improved methods of regulating pollutant release, the question is, can anything substantial be done about it? As mentioned in class, historically we have always been fully aware of the more general impacts of environmental pollution, however despite our knowledge of the risks involved, the situation continues to worsen. Hundreds of newly synthesized molecules are marketed and introduced to the natural world every year in the United States. Grossman addresses the fact that in multiple cases, regulatory framework is based on outdated toxicology evaluations. As a result, Grossman clearly stresses the need to revise and reassess current chemical safety assessments in an attempt to advocate for "greener" methods of regulation. Unfortunately, these disturbing facts continue to accumulate. The concept of "green chemistry" however, invites us to advocate for environmentally friendly techniques of pollution management. It is also important for us to be aware of the chemical dangers that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis; the very thought of this should be overwhelming. It is risky to be ignorant. We mustn't rely on what manufacturers tell us about their products; instead we should be skeptical of the synthetic chemicals incorporated in our fabrics, electronics, plastics, paints, cosmetics and so on. The key here is education; without it, we are trapped in a dark, empty corner.

Turse - 3rd Blog Entry

Sam Kim

In the second chapter of The Complex, titled The Military-Academic Complex, by the author Turse, he brings up the argument about how the government is persuading and discriminating universities into becoming a much more military centered operation.  This idea, that the govenment funding is strongly based upon the military emphasis or research aspect of a university is very concerning.  The fact that the military influence is so strong, yet is so stealthily implemented into colleges and universities, which are supposed to mold the minds of the future's greatest thinkers, is a recipe for disaster.  Why is there not a stronger public attention to the government's influence on college academics and the hidden agendas that are implemented into university curriculums?

The fact that research that is funded the most is centered around experiments that benefit the military shows how interested the government is in taking every advantage possible within the society and world, even molding and directing the path of college students.  Turse states "...universities receive more than 60 percent of defense basic research funding..." (35).  When the emphasis is placed on furthering military technology, how can other research survive or have a greater impact than the ones that are backed by the government and tax dollars?  It seems that the government is slowly snuffing out other paths of education and research besides the one that benefit the military, although it is true that there are still other forms of research still existing, that do not have direct ties with govenment activity, how can anything stand without the financial backing necessary in the long run?  Once the universities have relied long enough on the immense amount of government funding, it is impossible to back out, and therefore the military becomes a strong competitor or the only voice in how certain curriculums will be directed.  An example of such an influence is when the government threatened to deny Harvard University any funding if military recruiter were not allowed access onto the university, such a prestige school that is well known throughout the developed world being pushed around by the military influence forced upon them is surprising. 

The strong. largely unnoticed military and government influence on universities, and the overall state of colleges reminds me of the article by Slouka, "Dehumanized," which talks about education being centered around producing efficient future workers.  This corresponds to the governments interest in influencing and controlling the outcome of student's education and research.  These two articles reflect upon how our education is not centered around teaching people to become self-thinkers or to establish different views, but rather, controlling what people become and not letting them choose for themselves.  No one likes to think that they're being manipulated or controlled, people like to feel like they're in control of their own lives and maybe that is why our education seems to place equal emphasis on a wide variety of subjects and there isn't much hype about military influence in universities, but in the heart of it the dollar signs directs people toward the truth.       

Military influence over Universities

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After reading the assigned Turse chapters I found the concept of the 'Military Academic Complex' to be quiet interesting, how our government has a hold as well influences various top Universities around the country. However after watching 'Why We Fight' and re-read Turse, I found myself to be conflicted to if I agree with the militaries influence on various top Universities and Institutions or having their influence be considered a bad aspect that defeats the purpose of a higher education.


Having several friends that attend West Point and the Air Force Academy I believe these forms of higher education have a great value in the development of the future officers and leaders among the Armed Forces. As well I have several friends involved in various ROTC programs from Army ROTC, Navy ROTC and Air Force ROTC these programs and as said by them are programs that are a 'must have' for the future development and education of future officers. I believe strongly in the different military academies as well the hundreds of ROTC programs located at various Universities around the country.


I do stand behind most aspects of military academia at Universities, there are some aspects I am very confused and conflicted with. How a governments massive involvement and influence on a University can defeat the purpose of that higher education. As said by J. William Fulbright in Turse "in lending too much to the purposes of government, a university fails its higher purposes." The saying by Fulbright I agree with, a University is a form of higher education and to make a civilian higher education based solely off of providing research and development into the militaries technological advances defeats the purpose of a higher education. The hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding for research intuitions and various Universities are creating Universities research and development programs focused on developing technological advancements based on the Department of Defense interests and not their own.

         A good example of this is said by Turse that when Harvard Law School wanted Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG) recruiters off campus as said by Turse, the military rejects students if they are openly gay. The pentagon then threatened to pull Harvard Law Schools federal funding and Harvard then had to agree with the governments policies and let those recruiters on campus. This just shows how the military and government can influence a University morals and interests.

       I do believe the military's involvement within Universities or forms of higher education is a positive aspect, however when a University is influenced enough to go against its Institutional principles and morals I believe this is the point where a University as a higher education losses its purposes.   


Dan Leach

The Revolving Door

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A topic in the recent course readings that created a stir of emotions for me was in Turse's chapters one and two.  In chapter one, Turse began to talk about the "revolving door" and listed statistics and individuals that engage in the corrupt practice.  The thing that bothers me most about the "revolving door" is that it makes me question our own government.  I begin to wonder whether or not I can trust what they are doing and telling the citizens.  The "revolving door" is a difficult topic to deal with, but I think there has to be a way the people and government can get honest, reliable expertise from an industry to make informed decisions.

 

The "revolving door" is a concept used to describe the cycle of employees between an industry and the positions in the government that directly affect that industry.  It is a clear example of corruption in Washington.  Turse describes the multiple career changes of Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge Jr. who left a multimillion dollar corporation to become the undersecretary of defense in the Pentagon.  While in the Pentagon, Aldridge granted multiple expensive contracts only to retire from the Pentagon and be elected to Lockheed Martin's board of directors with a six-figure compensation and company stock.  The fact is, Aldridge has been using the "revolving door" since the 1960s.  Turse also mentions the results of a report that said "between January 1997 and May 2004, at least 224 senior government officials had taken top positions with the twenty largest military contractors."  These actions and numbers anger me, because it only reinforces my ideas that power and greed are becoming a great danger to our society.  Are our government officials doing their best to make the choices and decisions that benefit the people?  The use of the "revolving door" is making me question the overall intentions of government officials.


On the other hand, the "revolving door" does have a few benefits.  For example, there does need to be individuals from the industry in order to make informed decisions, because without them, a decision could be made that drastically changes our way of life somehow.  Also, the "revolving door" provides a flow of different opinions.  Since some officials have had many experiences, they are able to bring about viewpoints that may not have been known to other officials.

 

I feel that by using the "revolving door," our government officials are betraying our (the people's) trust in them; they are not doing their job; they are using their power to benefit themselves, and I, most certainly, do not think that is fair or right.  I also feel that the public is not entirely aware of these actions, because if they were, there would be much more public outrage.  It is a difficult topic to control, but there must be something that someone can do in order counter the corruption.  Currently, there is a law that says a government official who makes contracting decisions must wait one year before joining a military contractor or must start in an affiliate or division unrelated to their government work.   This law is a start to preventing the use of the "revolving door."  It is very important that government officials and policy makers understand the costs, benefits, and results of their decisions, and they will be unable to make informed decisions if they are not informed themselves.  The larger problem lies in the fact that high-level policy makers can join corporations or their boards without waiting, and this is where the corruption happens and the big bucks are made.  There are many government officials that do a fantastic job, but there are also a few bad apples that make me question the intent of mankind and whether our system does an adequate job of controlling "revolving door." 

 

Lisa Breuninger


Zeitgeist: Wizard of Oz Behind The Curtain

 By: Michael Lent

 

            Working three months out of the year to pay taxes is slavery.  Policing the world with the United States' military might is control and exploitation.  War is a manipulation.  The topic of the military-industrial complex from class has brought these topics to the forefront of my mind.  My true concern above the military-industrial complex is our monetary system; for that is the manner in which everyone is controlled by the Corporatocracy. 

Why does anyone go to work?  Sure, maybe, one likes their job and all that, but at the end of the day, the reason one goes to work is to earn money.  Not everyone is so fortunate to enjoy their job; those are the wage slaves.  They work for work's sake to earn money.  On a broader sense, they and everyone else earns money to pay a debt.  Tying this into "Why We Fight," why did the young man join the army?  He joined to earn money to pay for a debt he owes or a foreseeable debt such as college.  Debt is slavery.

The real trick about our monetary system, the fractional reserve banking system, is that not everyone is able to pay off their debt; this is due to interest.  When the Federal Reserve creates money, it does so with an inherent interest or debt associated with it.  What does this mean?  There is not enough money in the system to pay off the interest associated with it.  This is only compounded by the fact that 1% of world's population has 40% of the money supply.  That means someone - including governments - will always be in debt.  For the individual and for governments borrowing from the world bank, this has very powerful consequences.  This is what keeps everyone on a hamster wheel and controls governments.

            Now, let us consider more specifically how the world is enslaved.  Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was the Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953.  He was democratically elected; the Middle East had a democracy.  He was Time magazine's Man of the Year.  The U.S. took that democracy away by using the CIA to start a coup.  The reason was that part of Mossadegh's campaign was to reclaim Iran's oil.  Instead of having a foreign business drill its oil, Mossadegh wanted to allow national businesses to do so.  The Corporatocracy did not like that and so, he was removed from power. 

The world has case after case of similar manipulations.  They all fit a definite pattern.  First, economic hitmen are sent in to corrupt the leaders of a country.  Essentially, they, the leaders, get a cut of the deal - money - provided that they act as puppets and enact policies approved by the Corporatocracy.  Iraq and Saddam Hussein in particular are the perfect examples of this.  He was used to enact policies and keep Iran, an adjacent country, in line for years.  If this does not work, then CIA jackals are sent in.  They either assassinate the leader(s) or start a coup.  Saddam was targeted for years once he stopped being a puppet dictator.  However, the jackals did not succeed.  So, the military was sent in.  We all know the result of that.

            Did the U.S. invade Iraq to start a democracy?  Did we do it as a response to 9/11?  Did we invade to prevent the creation of weapons of mass destruction?  The answers are: no, the U.S. removed a democracy at one point, definitely no, there is no correlation and yes but they were fictitious.  Essentially, Iraq was invaded to remove Saddam from power because the economic hitmen failed to continue to corrupt Saddam and the CIA jackals failed in starting a coup and assassinating him.  Saddam was not playing by the rules of the Corporatocracy.  The U.S. is creating a clandestine empire via globalization.  Rome had an army that conquered the world, and everyone knew it.  Now, we are told that we are falsely spreading democracy or that there are weapons of mass destruction when in reality, there are none.

            The retired NY cop who lost his son in the attack on 9/11 in "Why We Fight" regretted having his son's name put on a bomb dropped in Iraq when he realized that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11; he felt his patriotism had been manipulated.  What would he have done if he knew that the World Trade Center was purposely demolished?  There is very well-founded evidence that the planes did not cause the towers to fall.  It goes beyond conspiracy theory.  There is much more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye - just as there has been in past decades.  Money is a much more dangerous creation than the military-industrial complex ever could be.  This is how I would like to finish up this blog post. 

I am really curious as to what the class thinks of these two movies that I found:

 

Zietgeist

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-594683847743189197#

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7065205277695921912#

 

Both movies are about two hours long.  The second is most definitely much more geared towards our class.  However, this first gives some spectacular evidence for the World Trade Center towers being demolished as opposed to attacked.  Most of the topics I brought up in my discussion are from them.  I really encourage you to watch and comment on them and my post.

I Kinda Like the Visible Hand Approach- Blog Post #3

To join the conversation regarding the piece by Adams, The New Industrial State, I would like to disagree with his approach to fix the New Industrial State, in which he recommends a free market, or as little interference as possible when it comes to private businesses that make weapons and the government that buys them.  I think it is far too ideological to think that a laissez fair approach is best when so many lives are at stake.  This technology is assembled with the sole intent of killing.  I don't believe such power should be given to the highest bidder.  With that said, at first glance it seems as though our government has routinely been the highest bidder and happy to be.  If we look deeper into the issue, as Adams did, you find that the United States government has built a relationship with these private businesses in order to establish a monopoly on weapons of mass destruction.  The makers of the weapons are protected from competition and worrying where their cash flow will come from and the United States cements its place as "the world's one and only super power" because they are the first to get new technology. 

I do agree that the ties between the private enterprises and the government are too numerous and too strong to reach the optimum efficiency in weapons development.  However, I don't believe a free market is the right approach when it comes to the military hardware.   When there is government intervention there is almost always waste, inefficiency, and barriers to trade but the government's role in weapons development can be beneficial to the people of this nation and the rest of the world when kept within reason.  

When the United States government plays a role in weapons development by financing the new technology, it stops the weapons companies from looking beyond the United States and into other markets.  Without the guarantee of the United States purchasing the new and improved weapons and technology from the arms dealers, it would be available to the rest of the world.  There would be no guarantee that the latest and greatest technology wouldn't be used against us.  Enemies of the United States would undoubtedly purchase weapons to do harm to people of this country and around the world if they could.  Our government pays billions of dollars to countries that are known to be hostile towards Western society, case and point a few counties in the Middle East in exchange for oil.  So it should come as no surprise they are going to have enough money to purchase the some of the new weapons technology.  If the ties between the private enterprises and the United States government are severed as suggested by Adams, there is no government to regulate what gets developed and for whom it gets developed for.

The close relationship between the United States government and weapon manufactures does concern me and it makes me a bit uncomfortable; however, a close relationship between the weapons manufactures and another country that sees us as an enemy is a far more terrifying thought.

Lyndsie Kaehler

FAVREAU: Effects of Genetic Testing

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After completing my reflection paper on the how gene therapy effects and is affected by society, I wanted to learn more about this field.  I found the legal aspect and they effects of the scientific breakthroughs to be very interesting.  I read an article about genetic testing, and the positive along with negative effects that can result from it.  Genetic testing gives an individual the option to know if they are at risk for a certain inheritable disease.  This topic interests me because it gives the individual the choice as to whether or not they want to be tested for the diseases, and greatly affects their lives.  Although the individual is given the choice, there are still legal sanctions that have been created due to this technology.  In 2008 the "Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act" was passed, preventing insurance companies from being able to discriminate based on one's genetic data.  I feel that this type of discrimination probably never crossed the minds of scientists when they were developing mechanisms for determining if individuals are at risk.  How many times does more negative consequences result from a development, than positive beneficial results?  This relates to many of the articles we have been reading, as to whether or not science is positively or negatively impacting society and who is in control?

For the topic of genetic testing, there both positive and negative effects to the technology.  On the positive side, it allows patients to be prepared for the disease.  There may be treatment options or preventative measures the patient can follow, and it allows them to make insightful choices regarding reproduction (the possibility of passing the trait on).  Scientists view these as extraordinarily beneficial from a scientific standpoint, but on a personal level things may not seem so bright.  For many people, the option of knowing they were highly at risk of acquiring a disease would change their whole lifestyle.  Many people don't want to know if they have are going to be hit with an incurable disease.  This choice is left up to the individual to make.

The possibility of genetic testing data falling into the wrong hands and being used against one, is very unsettling.  The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act protects citizens from being discriminated against due to their genetic make-up, but there uncertainty still remains.  Is this technology going to be used to help citizens, or is it going to develop into something that is used to create some sort of "eugenics"?  At this point, the process is a choice for each individual, but will that change in the future, and if so what kind of effects would this have on society?  

Every new technology and scientific breakthrough has the possibility of being misused.  For genetic testing, this misuse is currently being controlled by the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.  I think it is very important that regulatory agencies continue to intervene and create sanctions for new technologies so that they, like genetic testing, can be used to positively impact society, by the choice of the individual. 

Sheri Pinger Blog #2

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Response to Seed Magazine:  Getting Solar Off the Ground (July 28, 2009)

William Maness' Plans for Beaming Solar Power from Space

     This article details the resurgence of interest in Space Based Solar Power (SBSP), and the companies that are forming to accomodate this potentially highly effective and viable alternative power source.  The technology, proposed and considered as early in American history as the 1960's, the hey day of the Space Age, the idea was to place solar arrays in orbit, beaming microwaves back to earth.  The renewed interest comes in light of fluctuating costs associated with fossil fuels in use on Earth presently, and include the fact that fossil fuel consumption will eventually drain the resource completely, necessitating the need for reliable power sources.

     Solar power has been a reasonably well known, while intermittent, form of alternative power but has been limited by one major factor - darkness half the time.  Additionally, solar power is obviously more viable in sunnier places, the comparison in the article cited Phoenix vs. Seattle.  Solar sources beamed from space would provide uninterrupted sunlight 24/7 - or as per the contracted amounts agreed upon.  William Maness' company, PowerSat, is one of many that have formed and are currently signing contracts with traditional power companies (e.g., Pacific Gas & Electric who signed to buy hundreds of megawatts of power from Solaren, another SBSP company, beginning in 2016).

     A major hurdle to these SBSP companies is the almost-prohibitive cost of getting the apparatus into space, and into orbit.  The developers are working lowering the costs associated with using fuel powered rockets to get to the correct area in space, some 22,000 miles beyond where the space shuttles orbit.  Solar collectors on the ships would be used to power ion thrusters so once the rocket fuel was depleted, these ion thrusters would lift the apparatus the remaining distance into space.  Once in orbit, the plans include the positioning, on Earth, of many receivers, and that this form of power remain completely "distributable," that is, with the flick of a switch the power beam can move from say, Cincinatti to Long Beach.

     I like the idea of solar power as a means of completing replacing the need for fossil fuels, so I think companies such as those detailed in this article are critical, their work becomes almost urgent, in my mind.  I am unable to come up with many negative statements about technology under development as timely and important as this, and think it's unfortunate that we're not using it more fully at present.  I would hope that the political factions driving the fossil fuel forefront are able to step aside for this very sensible solution to some of our most profound environmental problems.







 


By: T. Adam Wichelmann
http://seedmagazine.com/content/print/troubled_water/

Have you ever thought of the consequences of drinking a "harmless" glass of water?  Most Americans would answer a strong "no".  After all, it's only water; how harmful could it really be?  According to recent studies, there might be reason to question water's seemingly harmless nature.  Scientists have found trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in at least 41 million Americans water!  As prescription drugs pass through the body, they are excreted in urine and solid waste, which subsequently finds its way into Americas water.  The article explains how scientists in the 1970's hinted at a potentially negative impact of pharmaceuticals, but water and waste treatment plants were never designed to remove them.  An expert on emerging contaminants at the USGS even states that the technology to analyze for the compounds in prescription drugs has been available since we've been using pharmaceutical products.  It wasn't until 2002 that the first large scale survey was conducted by the USGS!

From further research I found that anti-biotics became popularized and used widespread in the 1930's.  With over 70 years of pharmaceuticals contaminating our waters what kind of impact are we looking at?  The USGS currently has identified the presences of over 80 compounds in American waterways.  Recent USGS studies have showed only trace amounts of drugs allowing them to argue that only long term effects can be felt.  The article, on the other hand, hints at three possible negative effects.  First, "some contaminants may become more concentrated as they move up the food chain".  They could build concentration and have a strong effect over a lifetime.  Second, the effects of mixing these drugs could be harmful.  Lastly, as antibiotics enter the waterways, bacteria could become increasingly more resistant.  This is especially scary considering we've been using antibiotics since the 1930's.

As our class has been discussing, the potential effects of technology is now felt strongly in every aspect of our daily lives, not even a glass of water is safe.  Reading this article, I am reminded of how little we know about the consequences of new technology.  Companies, meeting the societies need for technological fixes, puts countless items on the market without studying their potentially harmful effects on the environment and mankind.  If Global warming isn't enough, I think pharmaceutical drugs in the waterways should be enough to spur more Green Chemistry initiatives.  I think it's incredibly important that we look into the long term affects of our decisions and research new green technologies.

is vitro-meat good for you or not?

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Hieu Nguyen

What are we concern to eat for dinner today? You may want to chose something that good for your health but the question here is how do you know it is good for your health or not. The article Vitro meat from seed magazine provides the information about the ground beef that would be making by stem cell. Swine flu and avian flu was happened in cultural meats, so their purpose is to provide a healthy meat which is provide enough protein, vitamin and minerals. It is also safety which the people can be healthier than eating the cultural meats which grow on the farm.
When I read this article I think the processes that make meat on the tube is really not natural and the taste also really important to me if I am chose something to eat. I think when we eat something we may consider something that is fresh, organic, and natural making. If something is not nature it is meaning it is not fresh and organic.

Thinking about science as I study in Animal science the products such as yogurts and cheese are not from nature, the process of making cheese and yogurts are using bacterial and spoil milk. We do not need to homogenize to kill bacterial as other products but the bacterial does not cause illness to the people. We can also make the products with a lot of favors and people still like to eat them. If we can think the process making meat in the tube is the same way if you making cheese or yogurts according to the argument of this article. I think I may change my mind and accept it.  

 

Taylor Nordstrom-Carbon Trading

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Carbon trading is relatively new and is becoming a huge force in big business.  Originally I thought I might go into this business since it was a small business that is going to explode soon.  I did some research on carbon trading and I decided I would not go into carbon trading on moral grounds.  Some people view carbon trading as a good thing, that those who are being very carbon efficient are getting a good benefit.  The way I veiw carbon trading is that it is a way for big business to keep polluting and just buy pretty much nothing and pollute more.

 The article does point out some good parts to carbon trading.  A lot of cities get funds from companies who buy the city carbon credits.  Some cities like Bogata use the funds to buy more energy efficient buses and cut down fuel use by 59%.  There are a lot of other instances also, like where I am from there is a wind farm of about 100 windmales that were half funded with carbon credits. 

The other side of the story is what big business does.  A big business that buys carbon credits from someone will then be able to release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  Technically they go above what they are legally able to, but since they purchased essentially nothing, they are able to go above what legal limitations are.  I personally view this wrong, in that the emissions from the business outweigh the good that they do with providing funds.  I believe carbon trading should be stopped because it is going to become a norm, and it won't be recognized how much big business is polluting, because they are providing funds to city's and green energy innitiatives.

Tetyana Navalyana- Blog #2

            "The world is addicted to meat" The Seed Magazine states clearly to all of its audiences across the world. As humans, we tend to consume meat a lot. It has been, and will always be an important part of a person's daily diet. Americans seem to consume meat the most however. Whether it is pork, beef or simply chicken, protein will always make its way to the dinner table.

            As I looked through the Seed Magazine online, I had many choices to pick from. There were articles about technology, robots, about our future, and how we can make it better for the later generations. All of these articles seemed interesting; however, there was one that caught my attention the most! It was the one about meat consumption and how there might be a way in the future where we would not have to slaughter animals in order to "put meat on the table". It would be an In-Vitro meat that would substitute the regular meat that we consume daily.

            Since many vegetarians and also people who are against cruelty complain about slaughtering animals, scientist wanted to come up with an idea that would work for both: the people who enjoy meat, and for those who are against animal cruelty. Researchers developed a cell. This particular cell contains sugar, vitamins and amino acids, everything that we can find in our normal meat. It then develops in a few weeks and later comes out as a ground meat product. Researchers have only figured out how to make the ground meat, not rich meats such as steak for example.

            This article is similarly related to the readings that we have completed for this class. In particular it can be related to the chapters three and four in the book Chasing Molecules by Elizabeth Grossman. Throughout these two chapters, the author spends some time talking about hormones. As we talked in class, there can be many pros and cons for hormones in cows for example. One way is that it is a lot easier for farmers if the cow has hormones. But the question is: is it safe? Is it healthy for people to consume foods that contain hormones? What are the different risks of consuming foods with added hormones?

            Growing up in a different country, we never even knew what the word "hormone" meant. That is because everything in our country was raised naturally. People worked day and night in the fields pulling weeds, working hard on the farm, milking cows, feeding chickens, ducks, making farmer's cheese from scratch and sour milk. So why can't people in America do something similar to this? We often times hear people who are diagnosed with cancer in the news. In Ukraine, we barely hear such incidents. Perhaps food with added hormones has to do with such a disease?

            I personally believe that everything should be natural and added hormones are wrong in any type of food. As I am also taking a nutrition class this semester, we have learned that foods with added hormones are not healthy for our bodies. That is why the In-Vitro idea might not be as good, since things in life were made to be organic and natural. What will happen if everyone decides to consume the In-Vitro meat for example? What if it leads to certain diseases that may be even worse than the H1N1 pandemic? That is why researchers must really think about different pros and cons to such a situation before making a major decision! Because for all we know, what if this In-Vitro meat brings more trouble to life?

~Tetyana Navalyana

The Dead Zone Dilemma

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I read an article from Seed Magazine called, "The Dead Zone Dilemma".  It strikes me because the preview asks, "Is saving our atmosphere killing our seas?"  The article states that in the Gulf of Mexico, a Dead Zone about the size of Massachusetts is increasing due to farmers from central US who dispose nearly 450,000 metric tons of nitrates and phosphates down the Mississippi River annually.  This facilitates the depletion of water and photosynthetic algea.  In response to the situation, the US Environmental Protection Agency plans to decrease the size of the Dead Zone to a quarter of its current size by 2015.  However, a graduate student in biochemistry fears that the law passed in 2007 will intervene with their game plan. The law requires the US to produce 36 billions of biofuel a year by 2022 as a "go green" method.  Nevertheless, most of the biofuel production comes from crops grown in the central US region.   The increase in farming will boost fertilizers and other agriculture waste to flow into the Mississippi River and therefore, expands the Dead Zone.  The Society for Conservation Biology suggests solving this problem by establishing artificial wetlands or other buffer zones to balance out pollution; this has both a disadvantage and an advantage.  The disadvantage is that we will lose the local biodiversity and the advantage is nitrogen will be removed from water.  

The author of the article ended the article with a question, if scientists, like the graduate student, should only provide facts and leave policy decisions for the general public and politicians to decide, so it wouldn't be bias.


I think the outcomes of "going green" will not be what we expect.  To start one thing, we will need to begin another and as we start converting everything to "green" products, the steps required to get there might fabricate damages.  For example, from the article, the US congress wants to produce biofuel but its production will increase the size of the Dead Zone.  It is hard to say what our solution should be but we need to balance things out and make smaller goals.  We need to stop using harmful chemicals in our daily life (even though they play a large role in our life), but we cannot produce anymore danger to the ecosystem as we try to save it.  An example of a probably solution is the "Energy Conversation Pledge" by our university.  They are taking steps to reduce energy usage by encouraging students to participate in conserving energy, such as using the stairs instead of the elevator, and be aware of how much they can save the University resources.   These are small steps that could reduce electrical consumption by 5% by 2010, which is a short amount of time. 

Scientists play an important role in contributing facts for our knowledge but what we can do is up to us.  I do not think creating artificial wetlands is a great idea nor am I going to support it, but I need to put effort in to save the ecosystem in another way, such as signing the pledge.  I am not saying scientists should not make policy decisions because they are very knowledgeable in the field.  Their expertise "applies directly to the problems....[and] can both alert us to potential ecological disasters and offer insight into how to solve them".

Phuong Thuy Pham

The moon, mars, or earth? by Justin Schwartz

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            Justin Schwartz

 

The moon, mars, or earth?

 

Do humans have to look towards the cosmos in order to conserve our race in the future? This is a question that many have thought about and is on the front lines of debate. Humans already have a planet that has sustained life for millions of years, and until recently it has been a very stable environment. Due to all of the harm we have done to the planet, some scientists are looking into space in order to secure a future for our race. Can we undo the harm that has been done to earth, or do we need to look into space for a new home?

 

            Water, one of the main ingredients needed to sustain life has not been verified on any other planet.  There is however new technology that has led scientists to speculate where water is possibly hidden. Now with the advancements in technology and the urgency to find a new home for humans there are possibilities. Two of these possibilities are the moon and mars, both of which are thought to contain forms of water.

 

            The moon would be step one in the search of a new home for humans according to Chang in the article Grand Plans for Moon and Mars, Budget Permitting. The project, which according to Chang will be a joint effort between a number of nations. This is because with the current economy NASA is not as well funded as in the past and the same goes for other countries. And although the rockets, cockpits, and rovers are much like their formers, the few changes that have been made raise costs through the roof. This is why the project will be much like have an international space station, but on the moon.

 

The moon is thought to have ice and frost buried beneath the top layers of the surface. The thought is to dig below the surface, find water, and set up an "earth" like environment for scientists to live in. while living on the moon scientists will set up radio towers on the side of the moon opposite of earth. This will block out all noise. Scientists will also explore the lunar surface in order to further research according to Chang. After life has been established on the moon, the next step is mars.

 

            No one has ever stepped on to the face of mars. But, it is very promising that there is water on the red planet. In the article by Chang, there is said to be water in the form of ice in the deep craters on mars. The problem with mars however is the planets distance from earth. This is the reason for establishing life on the moon first. The moon will allow for a cosmic "rest stop" for astronauts and scientists just like the space station is a stop before the moon.

 

            It is a very exciting time in the history of humans with the technology and science that allows us the possibility to populate other planets. There is no doubt that humans will someday have to find a new home, but is that time now? Are we looking for the "easy" or "social" fix and what happens after we are no longer able to live on the moon or mars?

 

I believe that if we are going to look to space for a new home we should also be trying to fix the one that we have now as well. Earth is running out of room and we will need more space and resources, so I say why not have the best of both worlds. Let us conquer earth and cosmos. Now the question that I leave you with is do we look to the cosmos for a new home, do we undo the harm that has been done to earth, or do we undo the harm on earth and conquer space?

Today Will Effect Tomorrow

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Charlie Schiller

"Aquafina is the best tasting water I have ever had."  This is a statement my young nephew made this past summer as we were walking around the Minnesota State Fair grounds.  As I was going through the assigned readings for today in "Chasing Molecules", all I could think about is how much we might be potentially abandoning our health for some of the quick conveniences some people in our society have the privilege of using.  Bottled water is definitely convenient, but is the plastic that makes up the bottle necessarily being used to its fullest potential?  I don't think so!  The potential consequences that are becoming more and more evident from today's readings far exceed what returns we may see from the plastic bottle.  Today's readings suggest that we are becoming more aware of some of the consequences that a few chemicals are having on our bodies from being present in the environment.  However, we have a long way to go.  "When it comes to keeping track of how petrochemicals behave in the environment, of the 30,000 or so chemicals currently in common commercial use, the environmental and health impacts of only about four percent are routinely monitored."  It suggests that we keep focusing on convenience for today, and worry about the consequential issues as they become before us later on. 

I believe we have to be thankful for what we have!  I think in our society sometimes we have a tendency to focus on what we don't have.  We usually don't realize what we are missing until someone else shows us something that is of better caliber.  We have to be aware of what we are using as a resource to make our products better and more luxurious, but yet safe for us today and generations to come.  We have done enough harm already to our environment.  No place on earth can be considered a place of natural being.  I think media and advertisements can play a big role in our judgment as far as how comfortable something is.  We want to be comfortable and fit in with our peers.  Some people are easier to please than others, and a lot has to do with income status. 

I was at a conference about a month ago, and I had the chance to listen to a speaker talked about money management.  He mentioned how crucial it is to know your wants and needs.  A person has to monitor their wants and needs to prevent themselves from a potential financial crisis later on in life.  One has to know their financial limits, but money can't buy everything.  People have to figure how what makes them happy, and go with it.  I think we have all heard the saying that "the best things in life are free".  I think this is a very good saying.  One will never have everything, and in a sense it forces one to look at all the positive things that they have.  I also think we need to monitor some of the physical items that make us comfortable.  Some things I believe are just too wasteful and too harmful to our environment.  Yes, it is the land of the free.  However, where do we draw the line?  We need to focus on greater sustainability in this entire world, and the U.S. should start leading the way.  We lead the world in waste, and that's not something to be proud of!  We all have different views and different beliefs about the world, but we also have to realize that we are all in this together.  As a society we need to find some sort of compromise between luxuriousness and sustainability that still makes us comfortable.    

Michele Serbus

The article I read from SEED Magazine was on in vitro meat. The process of making in vitro meat starts with a single stem cell or a myoblast. Jason Matheny, a vegetarian and co-founder and director of New Harvest, which is working on producing in vitro meat claims this is a humane alternative to producing meat products, but still allows us to appease our craving and need for protein in our diets. The cells are grown in a nutrient rich media, full of: amino acids, sugars, salts and vitamins. To get the cells to multiple scientists in the lab electronically stimulate, stretch, or add a mechanical pressure to cells. Matheny claims that by making meat products in the laboratory the health of consumers will benefit. Excess fat and unwanted growth hormones will not be present in their products. Although their ground meat alternative has not yet been approved for taste testing Matheny believes consumers and buyers will back this new technology once it is closer to being implemented into the market.

Its creators are looking at in vitro meat as a way to help with world's ever growing need for more meat products. Countries like China and India, which were originally low consumers of meat products, have now been doubling their meat consumption and will continue to do so.

Matheny plays off of the public's new obsession with becoming more environmentally friendly by adding that in vitro meat produces less green house gas emissions and uses less land and water. Matheny also adds consumers won't feel guilty about eating meat that is produced in a lab than meat from slaughtered animals. Considering how stem cell research is constantly being debated on whether or not it is ethical, I do not think that many consumers of meat products will be switching from the traditional way of harvesting meat to the new way to mass produce. The other issue I take into account about this new technology is how would this affect the farmers and their families that raise the livestock we consume. Matheny does not state in the article whether or not this new technology would prevail over the traditional method, but if it did, it would affect a multitude of people.

 

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