Friday, April 22, 2011

Observations From the Back Row: 4-22-11

“De Omnibus Dubitandum”

We live in a time when great efforts have been made, and continue to be made, to falsify the record of the past and to make history a tool of propaganda; when governments, religious movements, political parties, and sectional groups of every kind are busy rewriting history as they wish it to have been, as they would like their followers to believe that it was. - Islam Bernard Lewis', historian

Energy saving light bulbs 'contain cancer causing chemicals' Fears have been reignited about the safety of energy saving light bulbs after a group of scientists warned that they contain cancer causing chemicals. …..Their report advises that the bulbs should not be left on for extended periods, particularly near someone’s head, as they emit poisonous materials when switched on. The bulbs are already widely used in the UK following EU direction to phase out traditional incandescent lighting by the end of this year.

The Department for the Environment insists the bulbs are safe, despite the fact that they contain small amounts of mercury which would leak out if the glass was broken.

My Take – Whoa….Safe in spite of the “small amounts of mercury”. I thought there was “no safe level of mercury”. What we have here is another stupid greenie idea imposed on the public by a bunch of stupid bureaucrats given unbridled authority by a bunch of unprincipled politicians. So…..why isn’t the Precautionary Principle being applied here? In the E.U. the (PP) has become almost sacrosanct. Why no outrage from the greenies and their acolytes in government and the media? Viv Forbes really is right. The green movement really is “an unholy alliance of environmental scaremongers, funds-seeking academics, sensation-seeking media, vote-seeking politicians and profit-seeking vested interests.” Besides….the stupid really are dangerous.

Genetic breakthrough may stop spread of malaria The development is seen as a potential breakthrough in preventing the spread of one of the world's most dangerous diseases. Malaria kills up to a million people a year, mostly children living in Africa where the disease is endemic, and strikes down a further 500 million victims who fall seriously ill.

A decade ago, scientists created the first GM mosquitoes but their potential use in stemming the transmission of malaria has been stymied by the theoretical inability of the engineered insects to out-compete the non-GM mosquitoes living in the wild that actually harbour the blood parasite.

However, a new study has shown that it is possible for GM mosquitoes to rapidly pass on malaria-blocking genes to wild mosquitoes with the help of a second gene that spreads the GM trait within the sperm-producing cells of male mosquitoes.

The plan is to physically attach the synthetic gene, called the homing endonuclease gene, to an anti-malaria gene and insert the entire genetic construct into male GM mosquitoes released into the wild. The endonuclease gene should then ensure that nearly all the sperm cells produced by these GM males will carry the anti-malaria trait into the next generation of mosquitoes.

Malaria in numbers
• 500 million new cases of malaria are reported worldwide each year.
• 1 million deaths are caused by malaria each year, the majority in Africa.
• 57 countries are registered as 'malaria-endemic', with the disease posing a threat to human life.
• 200,000 people die of malaria each year in India.
• 2 million cases of malaria were reported in Pakistan after last October's floods.
• 1.3 per cent rate at which malariacan decrease gross domestic product in countries with high disease rates.
• 765 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are said to be at risk from malaria, according to the World Health Organisation.
My Take - First off…..if bed nets by themselves were so great this wouldn’t be happening. Secondly, if bed nets and pyrethroidal pesticides were so great together this would be happening. Thirdly, if this can really be done in the wild this will be a major blessing for humanity. The problem with all of these types of solutions is the delivery system. Can this take place in the wild? We can only hope.

Now…..what will the greenies do? They hate anything that is GM. If everything they stand for and promote is “for the children”, as they claim, they will wholeheartedly support this? If they do however, this will completely undermine all of their arguments about genetic modification. If they stand against this it will expose them for the irrational misanthropic people they really are. This will be interesting to watch.

Anti-pesticide activists exploit poor kids While it’s not surprising that children from the inner city and Latino farmworker communities might perform slightly less well than average American children on development tests, anti-pesticide activists can make it news if they can link that performance to pesticides. And so they have tried.

Environmental Health Perspectives published three studies today purporting to link prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides with substandard performance on development tests by the aforementioned groups of children.
I’m sure than the well-known anti-pesticide activist-researchers involved (Brenda Eskenazi, Frederica Perera and Mary Wolff) expect to overwhelm the media with their message by releasing all three studies at once, but here are the underlying fatal flaws common to all three studies:
• Even accepting the study results at face value for the sake of argument, the test score deficiencies are insignificant. There is no meaningful developmental difference between a child who scores a 100 on an IQ test vs. one who scores a 101.4.
• Childhood development is a complex, multifactorial phenomenon, which these researchers have magically reduced down to blood levels of pesticide metabolites. While most reasonable people would point to the children’s general plight in Lower Social-economia as the likely cause of whatever development issues they may have, Eskenazi, Perera and Wolff have conjured up a superficial statistical analyses to advance their personal financial and political agendas as well as the bureaucratic and political agenda of their funding agency, the anti-pesticide EPA.
• There is no known biological mechanism that explains how legal exposures to pesticides might lead to developmental problems.

My Take - This whole business of IQ is another one of those ethereal "findings" from these studies that are conclusions in search of data. The first time I came across this was during the Litulis Kilgore days. Kilgore was operating an illegal pest control business using methyl parathion (MP), one of the most toxic liquid pesticides developed for exclusive use in agriculture. In sunlight it would breakdown within 24 to 48 hours. It was never meant to be used in homes or businesses.

These people have been followed by the Center for Disease Control for years. What did they find? They “think” that MP “may” have caused an IQ problem. Why only a maybe? Because the findings weren’t consistent! It appeared to be true in one group and not in another. There is a reason for that. It isn’t true. IQ is a complicated and subjective thing and trying to pin this on pesticides is another article of faith by the green movement. It was only two months ago that they were claiming that piperonyl butoxide, a synergist mixed with pesticides also caused it.

We need to get this. These studies are all conclusions in search of data.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax -
Of cabbages and kings,
And why the sea is boiling hot,
And whether pigs have wings."


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