Saturday, March 22, 2014

Agriculture and Environment

Farming has a rather large impact on the environment. Searching through the web I came to this webpage.  It's about an organization that works with local farmers and also promises to be environmentally responsible while they do it. It's a great site to check out if you're interested in learning more. There's even options to donate to their cause if you feel inclined.

http://www.farmland.org/programs/environment/solutions/pacific-northwest.asp

Friday, March 21, 2014

Save Money and Resources With Garbage


Did you know…
            In terms of food waste...
  • The global volume of food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tons of "primary product equivalents." Total food wastage for the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tons.
  •  Food wastage's carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tons of CO2 equivalent of GHG released into the atmosphere per year.

  • The total volume of water used each year to produce food that is lost or wasted (250km3) is equivalent to three times the annual flow of Russia's Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. The Volga river can be seen below.

  • Similarly, 1.4 billion hectares of land - 28% percent of the world's agricultural area is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.
  •  Fruit wastage contributes significantly to water waste in Asia, Latin America, and Europe, mainly as a result of extremely high wastage levels.
  • Similarly, large volumes of vegetable wastage in industrialized Asia, Europe, and South and South East Asia translates into a large carbon footprint for that sector.


More did you know facts...
  • The billions of pounds of plastic make up about 40 percent of the world’s oceans surfaces.
  • Some of the highest emissions levels come from landfills and contribute to climate change.
  • The garbage you create, and dispose of, affects biodiversity through the use and wastage of natural resources, the emissions produced, and pollution that collects in streams, rivers, and oceans.
 See more at: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=2726&ArticleID=9611#sthash.j0ybjgjY.dpuf


Now lets look at this on a personal level…
            I live with my partner, 3 small children, 2 small dogs, and 4 houseguests. The garbage that our home creates is more than the average home. I used to think we did our part with reducing and reusing garbage recycling the obvious items like glass, metal, and paper. Additionally, I thought creating a compost heap was too much energy and I was helping the landfills by donating biodegradable material that would help break down other material in the landfills. However, according to the facts above, I could help the environment even more by creating a home compost heap. A home composting heap will also help give my houseguests something to do besides drive me crazy, or burn some of my kids’ energy, or save me money on fertilizer (personally I like the idea of exhausting my kids and guests).

How can you make a difference…
            If you already recycle and compost, GREAT! Do you have to throw out food that has gone bad in your refrigerator or freezer?  

That’s a lot of food and money that is being wasted. Here are some ways to limit that:
  • Plan meals, use grocery lists, and avoid impulse buys. Only buy items when you have used up all previously bought perishable items.
  • Don’t over-buy. If you're making a salad, don’t buy an extra bag of lettuce just in case; and buying in bulk really isn’t your friend.
  • When you shop don’t be afraid to buy funny-looking fruit. In a lot of cases the funny fruit gets tossed even though nothing is wrong with it aside from its unusual figure.
  • Eat leftovers.
  • Designate a night each week to eat leftovers instead of making another meal.
  • Store food properly in the refrigerator.
  • Understand expiration dates.

For more ways to save food and money go to

Sources included:

Thank you for your time, have fun saving money and most importantly, saving our resources!

Written by: Tiffany William

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Removing One To Save Another

The rainforest in Mauritius is considered a global biodiversity hotspot, but it's being destroyed, and foreign species are partly to blame. The country's method to control those species are stirring up controversy. Take a look at the video below and decide for yourself.

video


Is the importance of strong biodiversity worth the suffering of animals? 
Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Strong Biodiversity Helps Humans Thrive

People rely on a strong healthy ecosystem for food we eat and to make a living. When a particular species start to dwindle in population, the entire ecosystem will start to dismantle. When an ecosystem begins to weaken and suffer, so do the people around it, especially the poor.

The World Bank is an organization dedicated to eliminating poverty across the globe. They invest a large amount of their money and time into making sure cultures and communities maintain strong biodiversity. In Sierra Leone, where over-fishing has dramatically lowered the biodiversity in marine life, The World Bank has invested in trying to bring back the marine ecosystem to the villages. They did this by improving surveillance and prosecution of illegal fishing, and providing training on sustainable fishing practices. With fish being one of the only sources of protein for the villagers, having no fish would be very, very bad news. They would get very thin and weak and eventually die off themselves.

Fortunately for people in the US, we have a vast number of sources to pull from, given our fortune and power. Other countries are not so lucky – and biodiversity directly and immediately affects the people of these poorer countries.

To find out more about The World Bank and what they are doing to help biodiversity, check out their website here!

You Cant Take Out Just One Species, Everything is Affected

In Australia, dingoes are notorious for preying on sheep and other livestock. Farmers over the years have tried to limit the loss of livestock by poisoning the dingoes. After a study conducted by the University Of South West Wales, researchers found there were dramatic impacts on the biodiversity in regions where the dingo population has decreased.


Researchers studied 14 forested regions in Southeast Australia; half of which had experienced dingo poisoning in the past 5 years.
In areas where the dingo population had dropped, population in large plant-eating animals such as kangaroos and wallabies had increased, as well as a high number or red foxes (Australia's most invasive species). These species make for ready prey for the dingo, but they seem to thrive in population where the dingoes had been poisoned.



From there the domino effect is in full swing. Both species needed more food as the population began to grow. The herbivores began to diminish the plant life making it scarce and minimal. This same plant life worked as great shelter and cover for smaller mammals such as possum and bandicoot. Now with the ground cover gone, they are exposed to predators like the red fox...which are now in excess and require more food.  So now the population in rodents and small mammals has dramatically dropped due to the lack of plant life.

The loss of mammals in biodiversity has massive impact on communities and cultures. The farmers were simply trying to prevent loss of livestock by poisoning the dingoes, but they didn't realize the damage they were actually causing around the country.  You cannot simply remove a species from an area. This has a very large domino effect and can easuly damage biodiversity in the long run.

Source Article

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Be Careful What You Plant

Believe it or not, the plants that you introduce into an ecosystem have a great impact. Previously in this blog there was a post regarding biodiversity written by Mary HoeflerH.  Hoefler stated, “Invasive species are species introduced to an environment in which they are not native.  They take over native species’ resources and can cause irreparable damage. Invasive species are the second largest threat to biodiversity.” Invasive species can come in the form of weeds, flowers, trees, insects, reptiles, and animals. For this post I am directing my attention to plant life.


How does one flower or tree affect so much? Take the Purple Loosestrife for example,











While this is a very beautiful plant and provides beautiful color throughout the summer months, the reproduction of the plant greatly impacts the surrounding habitat such as a wetland. This plant reproduces both by seed that can be carried by waterways and root fragments. Like many other invasive plants, if only one plant is introduced to a watershed it will multiply like rabbits.  It also requires special guidelines for removal due to the root fragments because multiple others will grow in its place if done improperly. So if a single plant is introduced to the new environment, it spreads and takes all necessities from the native green life and subsequently destroys the life reliant on the native greens.  There have been attempts to remove invasive plants like the Purple Loosestrife, but many attempts result in billions of dollars spent and a return of the plant soon after.

What are some other plants that are considered invasive? Here are a few sites that can answer that thoroughly,

On this site they include all invasive species that can be categorized by organism types, habitats, species names, and locations,

Other reasons why introduction of invasive plants changes biodiversity: When a plant that is not native to a new environment it can carry foreign stowaways. Such stowaways include insects, or even viruses that can kill other plants. 

How do these invasive plants start? Many start as ornamental plants from nurseries and garden shops. Others instances are as a result of industrial trade.

To help prevent any more invasive species from affecting ecosystems: thoroughly research the plants that you choose for your surroundings, try to buy material locally. Refer to: http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/invasives.html

Did You Know?

  • Ballast Water: Since 95% of all foreign goods by weight enter the U.S. through its ports, the potential for invasive species impacts on coastal communities is immense.
  •         The invasive algae Caulerpa is thought to have been introduced to U.S. waterways after being discarded from aquaria.
For more interesting facts about invasive species to to: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/habitat/pathways.cfm

Source for Purple Loosestrife:

Written by: Tiffany Williams

How Can We Preserve Biodiversity?

        How can we preserve biodiversity? Since biodiversity plays a big role in our lives, people should take an interest in helping ease the pressure on the loss of biodiversity. Making simple changes in our everyday routines can protect biodiversity in our ecosystem. 


        Trying to lower the human activities that cause climate change is one way that we can ease this pressure. Some of the activities that cause climate change include the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. People need to find new ways to do these activities in a way that does not influence our climate. The change in climate affects a number of species on the planet in ways that can increase the number of extinct species. 
Another action that can be taken to limit the effect on biodiversity is by prohibiting the purchase of products that are made from animals' skin, fur, bone, shell, beak, or hooves, particularly of endangered species. Buying these unsustainable products is not that necessary in our lives as there are many other alternatives. Buying wood and wood products that are produced in a sustainable and legal way is another way to promote biodiversity. Take the example of illegal logging into consideration. People need to question where their garden furniture or wood flooring comes from and whether or not it was produced sustainably. You can in fact look for the Forest Stewards Council label when you are buying wood In order to make sure that you are only buying wood from a sustainable source. Also you can reduce your paper use by using recycled paper. Using recycled paper can save up to twenty four trees per tone of paper.

Buying sustainable seafood also plays a big role in preserving biodiversity. 80% of the planet’s species live underwater. This marine life is being affected by overfishing and pollution. In your home or restaurant it is important to choose sustainable fish and try to avoid endangered seafood such as Bluefin Tuna or Northsea Cod and try to find seafood that is labelled with the Blue MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) logo. 
All of these changes are simple and can be done easily, so why not do them and protect your life and other species living in the ecosystem?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Overfishing Part 3: The Impact on Ecosystems

In part two of my series on overfishing, I discussed how our excessive fishing activity can affect species diversity within an ecosystem, or the number of species per area in relation to their distribution under normal stresses. To conclude my three part series on overfishing I will take a look at ecosystem diversity, and how it may be affected by disproportionate fishing operations.


Thankfully, there are no known eradications of specific ecosystems due to fishing activities alone. However, there are a number of examples where the regional distribution of ecosystem varieties over large areas of our oceans and coastal land have been reduced excessively. In essence, our fishing activities have threatened the diversity of our ecosystems.

One pertinent example of this threat has been observed in our practicing of mariculture, the farming of economically viable sea life. Overindulgence in this activity has significantly modified coastal and estuarine habitats on many parts of the planet. In the coastal regions of Ecuador and Thailand, mangrove habitats that serve as essential nursery habitats for many fishes, are being dug out and replaced with ponds to build fish farms. Although mangrove ecosystems have been depleted significantly on a regional scale, they have not yet completely disappeared globally.

The popular fishing method of Trawling
Another way in which our fishing activities contribute to the destruction of habitats that marine organisms rely on to build their communities has been observed in the coral reef complexes of the Caribbean. Overexploitation of the fish in these regions has directly caused a number of coral reef die-offs. Furthermore, fishermen in Southeast Asia are using dynamite and cyanide to catch these reef fish for the aquarium market, as well as for local consumption. Such practices quite obviously harm large regions of coral reefs, which serve as a home for numerous varieties of sea creatures. The more commonly used fishing method of trawling, where large heavy nets are dragged along the ocean floor, has been shown to damage sea grass or rocky habitats, displacing sea-floor dwellers, and weakening structures that help create homes for marine life.

Now that I have discussed a number of ways in which overfishing threatens the biodiversity of our oceans, you may be asking yourself what you can do to help. The number one way to have an impact is to tell others about my series, and educate them about what you learned. Many people do not even know that overfishing is an issue, or what it even entails. Furthermore, you can join organizations or groups geared towards putting pressure on your government to address these issues and crack down on fisheries that practice unsustainable fishing methods. They can also work on securing large portions of Marine Protected Areas where fishing is banned and natural resources are protected. Lastly, you can reduce your consumption of seafood, thereby reducing the demand for fish.


Our oceans are a truly magnificent spectacle; let’s preserve them as best we can so our future generations can enjoy them to the extent that we did. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Sharks and Dead Zones


I want to discuss the issues concerning the marine life within the oceans. It has never been that clear how much of the sea marine life cover within their life time.  However, recently scientists in the U.K.'s Cornish coast came across a great white shark that was first tagged off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida. The 4.4 meter fish became the first great white shark observed to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Tagging sharks helps learn more about their movements, biological behavior and health of the shark.


This brings me to the issues that are currently present within our waters. Extensive coastal pollution, climate change, over-fishing and the practice of deep-sea trawling. Many sharks are being killed from over-fishing and trade. Since sharks are the 'apex predator' of the seas, they have a big role on the balance of the ecosystem, they are on top of the food chain. Each life form in the ocean works together within the environment to help recycle waste, maintain the ecosystem, and provide services that others use and benefit from.


Dead zones within an ocean are low-oxygen areas that are 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. When oxygen gets too low, marine life cannot be supported. Countries have been aiming towards restoring and conserving wetlands. The main goal is to assure the damage does not pass the point of no return.



The attached graph is compiled by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook. It shows a great visual of the increase in number of dead zones over many years. One can simply start by shrinking the dead zones. This can be done by not polluting our rivers with dumping, clean up sewage plants, preserve wetlands and also promote farming practices that reduce runoff.

Monoculture IV: The Future


    
          Monoculture is defined as “large areas of land cultivated with a single crop, either a plant or tree, using methods that employ a high use of inputs such as agrotoxic chemicals and machinery.  It has been used for thousands of years to maximize the yield of food crops useful to mankind."
While any use of monoculture compromises natural biodiversity, the model employed by small, family farms has proven to be sustainable for millennia.  It is only since the dawn of industrial technology that systematized monoculture of vast geographic areas for a mass global market of foodstuffs has reached the level where it seriously threatens biodiversity over much of the world.  Modern global monoculture requires the application of synthetic fertilizers, highly toxic herbicides and insecticides, the diversion of natural resources such as water, and the depletion of microbes and erosion of soil, among a host of other consequences.  It now takes only “a few people to cultivate thousands of acres of corn or soybeans as far as the eye can see in a fraction of the time it was done in the past.”  (“The Future of Monoculture”:  factory-farming.com)
Although it has greatly increased the yield and often lowered the cost of key crops, the gains realized through monoculture all too often have NOT gone to solving problems like world hunger as is often maintained.In fact it exacerbates many of the problems by using up arable land for lucrative but shortsighted folly such as government-subsidized ethanol, in addition to depriving much of the world’s people of former livelihoods in agriculture.
“Another downside is loss of nutrients in the soil, especially trace minerals.  The heavy use of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) as the primary chemical fertilizers result (sic) in nice looking produce but seriously deficient in key nutrients.”  (“The Future of Monoculture”:  factory-farming.com)

Recent developments show a strong, growing opposition to the industrial monoculture practices of the major agritech giants like Monsanto, such as recent resolutions brought forth by the company’s shareholders.  It is also increasingly clear that the industry’s major claims of greater quality and efficiency attributed to monoculture and bioengineering are more likely the result of having extracted genetic material from crops produced by old-fashioned cross-breeding.  In fact the future of monoculture may well resemble the past of monoculture as enough people become aware of the consequences and get involved--either by protesting, divesting, or practicing and supporting the old organic methods of farming which kept monoculture down to a smaller, more sustainable practice.





Sunday, March 16, 2014

New Driver New Car ..No Money

New Driver New Car..No Money

You're probably wondering why I have a picture of a cartoon car here. I have it on here because I want you to think about those old movies that you would watch about using alternative ways to get around, or another way to make your car run. When I was younger I would watch the movie "The Shaggy Dog."  In that movie they created a way to keep the car running with just plain old grass.  In today's world we see so many different smart cars out there, there are ones that can parallel park themselves, some are even electric, but then again all of them come back to the basic way of getting your car to get around and that is by gas. 
Why can't we create something that we use without using gas?  Most of the gas is either polluting the air or getting spilled in the ocean where it can hurt other harmless creatures. I know the idea of having a Jetson type of car isn't going to be here in a while, still technology is moving fast, but apparently not fast enough to create something that doesn't use any type of gas.
Not only that but gas is so expensive nowadays. According to USA Today, that's not going to stop soon.  I mean, how many of us are broke and can't really afford to put money in a car because the gas prices keep on rising to point where you would rather take the bus?  With all this technology that we have on cars, why can't we create something that is cost-effective or at least something that will help us survive in today's world where people barely have jobs and can hardly afford the car that they have now?
Yet this might not be such a bad thing because, as I said, it kind of makes you want to take a bus when you think about the rising gas prices. You have to look at all the other methods that people are using to get around besides a car.  For Portland there is the Max, bus, bike, walking, running, streetcar, etc. If we use these other methods we can be saving money and it will help keep us in shape. Which kind of makes me want to give up my car.
Reference
Gary, S., @gbstrauss, & USA, T. (n.d). Look for gas prices to surge again soon. USA Today.

Pesticides Affecting Biodiversity Worldwide

As a homeowner or a renter there is a common urge to maintain the appearance of the yard or garden of one's home, not just for beauty's sake, but for property value.  With spring around the corner many people will soon go back to those enthralling joys of yard and garden maintenance. What many people don’t realize, however, is how much a little weed killer, Miracle Grow, pest killer can affect the wildlife and ecosystems around them.

When it comes to the yard, patches of weeds or insects can drive some people crazy.  As a reaction to a yard full of weeds, the quick and easy thing to do is go to the local lawn and garden store for weed killer (herbicides) or insect killer (insecticides). After the eager green thumb enthusiast spreads the herbicide and insecticides all over the lawn: the resident wildlife such as grasshoppers, spiders, ants, beetles, worms, and other life can either absorb through fat solubility (which gets stored in the fat cells) or by water that the toxins have dissolved into.


Then the next animals in the food chain continue the cycle of life by eating the above listed wildlife. In reaction to the lower level life containing poison levels, the higher animals in the food chain will contain lethal levels of toxins.  These pictures will help explain,




While many people believe that the chemicals are only targeting a specific weed or insect, an entire ecosystem is being damaged due to “bioamplification” or a ripple effect.  For one recent example, “A chemical used to control insects and non-native birds is likely to blame for the deaths of hundreds of birds…as many as 700 birds in Australia have been found dead” for more on that news go to 



In the United States, one example of a decline in a species due to insecticides is the Grassland-bird species. For more information regarding the Grassland Bird go to


Does this effect humans?  Yes. The chemicals that are used in yards can be absorbed through the skin of your children as well as yours and become stored in your fat cells thus multiplying the levels of chemicals in your future children. For more information regarding how pesticides affect people go to



What can you do? Listed below are possible sites for recipes of organic pesticides and herbicides to try out instead of buying toxic. If you don’t like what you see, don’t worry, there are over 2 million other sites to try from. Or when you go to the local lawn and hardware store, Home Depot, for example, has a selection of organic herbicides and pesticides. However, going to the National Pesticide Information Center online at http://npic.orst.edu/ingred/active.html, or calling 1-800-858-7378 is highly recommended to know what specific ingredients to avoid.



Sources:

Written by Tiffany Williams

Walk and Do the Right Thing

Walk and Do The Right Thing

Okay, so today I did the annual Shamrock Run (or in my case, walk). This is a marathon, so it came in groups which are 15K (9 miles), 8K (5 miles), and 5K (3 mile) . My original idea was to only do the 5K but somehow I kept on walking till I hit about 7 miles. When I was doing this I thought about writing what I learned from what I had done on here. One thing that we should start doing is going for walks and stop trying to drive our cars everywhere we go because, as we all know, this can cause pollution because most other cars aren't hybrid or eco-friendly. Also it keep us healthy and gives us time to explore the wonderful city we call Portland.
The thing about this day is that I saw things that I thought were totally wrong and I think should be noted. Well first off, let's not leave a bunch of crap--by crap, I literately mean crap (I think most of it is from the horse that some police officer rode on or something)--because there were quite a few of them lying around.  I am sorry but our city isn't a place where you can put your animals' poop anywhere, because this is not a city dump. It's a place where we all live and breathe, and have fun marathons. This marathon started early in the morning, so there was enough time where they could have cleaned it up before that and also we didn't really need to use horses because horses can get easily sick when put in the rain. 
Once I got to the 2-mile walking zone I saw refreshments for people who ran or were in need of water. One of the things I didn't see was a trash can/recycle bin for when the runners/walkers were done with their drinks.  So what happened was that most people that did this marathon didn't have anywhere to put their paper cups, so they mostly threw them on the ground.  For me, I think they should have put trash cans/recycle bins somewhere because we really don't need to litter the streets. This was only one incident that I saw that needed trash cans/recycle bins.  The others were the Clam Chowder in the little cups and water bottles that they gave out at the end.  I also thought it would have been helpful if there were trash cans during the marathon because some of us can't handle a run or our body decides to betray us and make us throw up all the food that we might have eaten earlier. Nobody wants to see that. 
I mean I know the run is for a very good cause but at the same time we have to keep in mind that we need to also be protecting our planet as well.  If people didn't know where to put their cups they could have easily just thrown them into the water where birds and fish can die from them. If we keep on doing what we are doing it could go get rid of 86 different species.  If we don't start cleaning when we do these marathons then we're just making the United States polluted. Other than that, it was a great run.  Hopefully next year they will do a little bit better.
Here is some research and also a link to the Shamrock Run, so maybe you might want to try next year
Shamrock Run link
http://www.shamrockrunportland.com/
research reference 
Madren, C. (2012). Dead in the Water. Scientific American, 307(5), 20.

Kan, H., Chen, R., & Tong, S. (2012). Ambient air pollution, climate change, and population health in China. Environment International, 4210-19. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2011.03.003




Monoculture III: Will Monsanto Turn Over a New Leaf?



      Perhaps the number one biogenetic engineering corporation in the world, Monsanto has been promoting and aiding the cause of monoculture for decades.  Whether manufacturing insecticides and herbicides like DDT and Roundup with disastrous unanticipated consequences, or bioengineering crops to withstand them, Monsanto’s century-long prominence in modern agriculture has been devastating to biodiversity and organic farming.  But there are hopeful signs that pressure by concerned citizens and failure to realize expected financial gains could cause the biotech giant to change its ways.
Although it has prevailed so far in court battles with individual farmers over the use of seeds for its Roundup Ready strain of corn, its actions have galvanized opposition to GM agriculture and alienated consumers.  In one heavily publicized case from 1999 they sued a Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser for growing Roundup-tolerant canola without paying any royalty or “technology fee”.  Monsanto claimed that nearly 95% of Schmeiser’s canola contained the Roundup Resistant gene.  Because canola pollen can travel for miles, carried by wind or insects, Schmeiser claimed that the concentration of Roundup Resistant canola was due to natural pollination and the fact that he had sprayed Roundup on about three acres of the field that was closest to a neighbor’s Roundup Resistant canola.  Many plants survived the spraying, showing that they already contained the gene, and that his hired hand had harvested the crops months later and kept seed from that part of the field and planted it the next year.
       Other testers showed a significantly lower concentration of Roundup resistance but still in excess of 50%.  The court found in favor of Monsanto but awarded nothing in damages.  
Recently Monsanto’s aggressive pursuit of farmers using its bioengineered crops or seeds without paying them has led to an appeals court’s decision to bind the biotech giant to promise not to sue organic farmers.  There have been plenty of cases in which the company has engaged in raw intimidation and made accusations that turned out not to be backed up by hard evidence.  In addition, there are reports of new superweeds that are also resistant to Roundup, as well as a peer-reviewed medical study from 2013 linking the incidence of glysophate in Roundup Ready crops to the development of celiac disease (gluten intolerance) in humans. 
Celiac disease is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5 percent of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression.  The study found that exposure to glysophate caused digestive problems in fish similar to gluten intolerance.  A study from 2005 in Costa Rica found an increased incidence of intestinal nephritis in male sugar cane workers from ages 20 to 40, exposed to glysophate which is used there to dry out and improve ripening of crops.


Year
A History of Monsanto
1901
John Francis Queeny founds Monsanto Chemical Works.  First product is artificial sweetener Saccharin
1919
Expands to Europe by entering partnership with Graesser’s Chemical Works.  Produces vanillin, aspirin and salicylic acid.
1944
Manufactures DDT (along with 15 other companies).
1960-1970
Important producer of Agent Orange for US Air Force in Vietnam War.
1965
Monsanto chemist invents Astroturf.
1968
First company to produce light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
1970
Monsanto chemist invents glysophate, primary compound in the company’s Roundup brand of weedkiller.
1972
DDT banned in US.
1977
Stops producing PCBs prior to Congress banning their domestic production 2 years later.
1982
Monsanto scientists first to genetically modify a plant cell.
1987
Conducts first field test of genetically engineered crops.
1993
Files patent application for Celebrex.
1994
Introduces recombinant version of bovine somatropin, rBST, artificial bovine growth hormone to increase dairy production.
2007
Partners with BASF to research, develop, and market new plant biotechnology products.

      
      In the long run genetically modifying consumer crops can be inefficient and expensive.  Monsanto executive David Stack estimates that adding a new gene takes roughly ten years and $100 million to go from a product concept to regulatory approval.  Added to that are the court costs and bad publicity the company’s heavy-handed legal tactics have created. 
Monsanto’s vegetable division Seminis, which claims to be “the largest developer and grower of vegetable seeds in the world” currently has no new GM vegetables in development, reverting to “good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same technology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia.”  Of the 13 new GMOs the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is tracking, only two are from Monsanto.




The World is Fragile: Let's Work Together So It Doesn't Shatter


Biodiversity, the variety of life of Earth, has been discussed thoroughly in posts of varying perspectives thoughout this blog. These posts and perspectives help us better understand biodiversity’s important role in our everyday life and its crucial role in everything around us. By understanding its importance, learning about how to protect it is of the utmost importance. There are many steps that one can take to insure the safety of our world’s variation of life, a few big steps follow:


1) Pushing for Biodiversity Parks - These parks' sole purpose is to honor the evolutionary heritage reflected in biological diversity. The parks would offer protection for endangered species and evolutionary distinctive ecosystems.
2) Reclaiming lost habitats - This means to restore current land used for farming, ranching, logging (a few examples) back into a flourishing ecosystem. Allowing nature to restore itself without our presence is the only way to produce this outcome.
3) Ecotourism - If protecting biodiversity for a healthier Earth isn’t your cup of tea, maybe protecting biodiversity for profits may be more compelling. Not only does biodiversity increase our Earth’s health, it can be a form of wealth that comes in the form of Ecotourism. An example of this can be seen in Rwanda where one of its biggest economic engines is Gorilla watching. Tourists pay up to $1,000 an hour just to be in contact with these rare species!
4) Enforcement of Laws - There are many laws set in place to protect the species on this planet. When these laws, commissions, and treaties are fully enforced it produces positive effects. Pressure on non-compliant nations is key and can be created with the strict enforcement of the laws; hopefully resulting in higher rates of species protection. The creation of new laws can also create this pressure on non-compliant nations. Ecuador has currently used this tactic by establishing constitutional rights for nature. “The law gives Ecuadorans the right, and obligation, to protect ecosystems, even if they are not directly injured themselves” (Roman).
5) Education - Bioliteracy may be one of the most important ways to make a difference. As a society, we only protect what we value. With more education on the topic of nature and biodiversity the knowledge gained can help reignite the love of our planets diversity.

Without biodiversity, everything on this planet will suffer and balance will be lost. In order to keep this balance, we must all do our part. Your part can be spreading the word about the importance of biodiversity to others, by doing some of the things listed above, or even by taking the time to research the topic on your own time. The world is fragile; let’s work together so it doesn’t shatter.

Reference:
http://www.thesolutionsjournal.com/feature_article/2009-02-24-facing-extinction-nine-steps-save-biodiversity

Further Reading:

Joe Roman book, Extinction’s in the House: How Saving Endangered Species Can Save Us (Harvard University Press).