The National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine reports that genetically engineered foodcrops are not unhealthy, contradicting organizations such as Greenpiece, and refuting the notorious 2012 Seralini finding that they increased the chance of tumors in rats.
The study actually finds positive traits: yields are higher and less pesticides are required than with traditionally grown crops.
But with genfoods, there is also the issue of patents and trademarks. Monsanto, the largest company in the field, claims intellectual property rights to its products arguing that they are comparable to any other industrial invention. Farmers fear that these patents will drive up the price of seed. A take-over bid of Monsanto by the giant chemical company Bayer deepened these fears. However, Monsanto has rejected the bid for financial reasons.
HARMONY OF THE SEAS
The Dutch city of Rotterdam, one of the largest ports in the world, had recently enacted a ‘green zone’ where older fossile fuel vehicles are prohibited. However, the world’s largest cruise ship, the Harmony of the Seas, recently moored there, right outside the green zone. At full throtlle, its six diesel engines produce emissions equalling those of a medium-sized city. When idle, it still uses 185 gallons of fuel per hour for its generators and the fumes waft right into Rotterdam’s Green Zone, largely offsetting its benefits.
The cruise industry has grown rapidly in recent years. The number of passengers has increased from 1.4 million in 1980 to an expected 24 million this year. That equates to about 2800 pounds of emissions per person. Rotterdam expects to receive 80 of these ships this year, up twenty from last year. The City is looking into providing them with electricity from shore.
GREAT BARRIER REEF
A favorite port of call of cruise ships is Brisbane, Australia, from where one can get to the Great Barrier Reef, one of the 7 wonders of the world and home to the clownfish, a.k.a. Little Nemo. The 2003 Pixar movie made so many people want one of these cuties for they aquariums, that the population has dwindled dramatically and even vanished completely in some places. In response, the Saving Nemo Conservation Fund was established to breed clownfish and take the pressure of the natural population.
The sequel ‘Finding Dory’ is due out in July. Dory is a Blue Tang fish. Ecologists fear that the Dories will suffer the same popularity as the Nemos. An added concern is that they grow to 16 inches, too big for most aquariums, and will be disposed where they do not belong.
Nemos and Dories are important to the reef, because they eat the algae smothering the coral. But they can’t do much about the warming of the oceans choking huge sections of the Reef.
Predictions of the reef’s future are dire, but mention of it has been omitted from a UNESCO environmental report at Australia’s request, because it could harm tourism. Environmental issues are not big in Australia. The upcoming elections are all about the economy. The spectacular growth of the cruise industry cannot be but good news over there.
BRAD LANCASTER INTERVIEW
By the way, if you enjoyed last week’s interview with Brad Lancaster about our water issues, check out his interview in this month’s Desert Leaf!