My ADFA Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia Inc business cards have arrived in the mail. I am now officially ADFA’s Social Media Voice and I’m very proud and honoured to be asked to take on this very important role and one that I am very passionate in getting the word out that there is no safe asbestos, asbestos kills. Helping via Social Media to create awareness, support and advocacy is a very powerful tool in today’s modern technology.Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia (ADFA) is a not-for profit organisation working to provide support to people living with asbestos related diseases, family members, carers and friends. ADFA is a community based group founded by Trade Unions, victims, families of victims, and concerned citizens to meet the needs …Read more
A new study has found that 42 countries or territories around the world permit the harvest of marine turtles — and estimates that more than 42,000 turtles are caught each year by these fisheries.The research, carried out by Blue Ventures Conservation and staff at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Ecology and Conservation, is the first to comprehensively review the number of turtles currently taken within the law and assess how this compares to other global threats to the creatures.All seven marine turtle species are currently listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.Frances Humber of Blue Ventures and a PhD student at the University of Exeter, who led the research, said: “This is the first study to comprehensively review the legal take of turtles in recent years, and allows us to assess the relative fisheries threats to this group of species. Despite increased national and international protection of marine turtles, direct legal take remains a major source of mortality. However, it is likely that a fraction of current marine turtle mortality take is legal, with greater threats from illegal fisheries and bycatch.”The first marine turtle harvest legislation was instigated in Bermuda in 1620 to protect “so excellent a fishe” and prohibited taking any turtle “under eighteen inches in the breadth or diameter.”But large scale commercial taking of turtles continued all over the world for centuries, with global capture peaking at over 17,000 tonnes in the late 1960s. For example, during the peak of Mexico’s sea turtle exploitation in 1968 it is estimated that the national take was over 380,000 turtles.Increased conservation awareness at an international scale has led to greater protection of marine turtles, with 178 countries now signed up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) restricting the international trade of turtle products.The direct take of turtles has continued legally in many regions and countries, often for traditional coastal communities to support themselves or small-scale fisheries supplying local markets with meat, and sometimes shell. The fisheries are an important source of finance, protein and cultural identity, but information can be scarce on their status — despite often being listed as one of the major threats to turtle populations.The researchers collated data for all seven species of marine turtles from over 500 publications and 150 in-country experts.They estimate that currently more than 42,000 marine turtles are caught each year legally, of which over 80% are green turtles. Legal fisheries are concentrated in the wider Caribbean region, including several of the UKs Overseas Territories, and the Indo-Pacific region, with Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua and Australia together accounting for almost three quarters of the total.The data indicates that since the 1980s more than 2 million turtles have been caught, although current levels are less than 60% of those in the 1980s.Bycatch — the unwanted fish and other marine creatures trapped by commercial fishing nets during fishing for a different species — is thought to be a far higher cause of death for marine turtles, likely running into hundreds of thousands each year.Illegal fishing also continues to be a major cause of mortality, with the researchers estimating a minimum of 65,000 turtles taken from Mexico alone since the year 2000. The scale of global illegal capture is likely to be severely underreported due to the difficulties collecting information on such an activity.Dr Annette Broderick, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, added: “We were surprised to find that there are 42 countries with no legislation in place that prohibits the harvest of marine turtles, although for many of these countries these harvests provide important sources of protein or income. It is however important to ensure that these fisheries are operating at a sustainable level.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.Read more
July 17, 2013 — New research on the global maize (corn) trade suggests that any disruptions to U.S. exports could pose food security risks for many U.S. trade partners due to the lack of trade among other producing and importing nations. The study, while not primarily focused on plant disease, population growth, climate change or the diversion of corn to non-food uses such as ethanol, suggests that significant stresses in these areas could jeopardize food security. This is particularly true of nations like Mexico, Japan and the Republic of Korea that have yet to diversify their sources.Share This:Maize is at the center of global food security as increasing demands for meat, fuel uses, and cereal crop demands increase the grain’s pivotal importance in diets worldwide. It is used as a basic raw material in producing starch, oil, protein, alcohol, food sweeteners and as a dietary staple. Disruptions in any one major exporter’s supplies could lead to price shocks. The centrality of maize means that it would become a critical food security risk if major exporters experience disruptions due to non-food diversions, plant diseases and climate impacts, according to the article.The researchers studied trade patterns from 2000-2009 and determined that the U.S. is by far the largest exporter, exporting four times as much maize as Argentina, the next largest exporter. Drs. …Read more
Oct. 5, 2012 — When comes to minor complaints, chronic conditions and even fatal illnesses, people sometimes turn to ginseng and other herbal remedies.
A team of scientists from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has been working on a new approach to drug development involving chemistry, biotechnology, mathematics, computer power and 5000-year ancient practices in Chinese medicine. The groundbreaking regime for herbal study and testing called quantitative-pattern-activity-relationship (“QPAR” in short) verifies the quality and health benefits of traditional herbs. While Western pharmacology focuses on purified chemical compounds such as Vitamin C, Prof. Chau Foo Tim from the Department of Applied Biology and Chemical Technology and Dr Daniel Sze from the Department of Health Technology and Informatics studied the impact from a mix of compounds, a unique property in herbs.
“Information-rich pattern called chromatographic fingerprint were used to prove the authenticity of a medicinal plant. Our research team has further utilized the ‘big data’ three dimensional (3D) fingerprints to give a good presentation of active ingredients and bioactivities that allow scientists to excavate any healing power from a mix of compounds,” said Prof. Chau.
To further bridge the gap between Chinese and Western medicines, Prof. Chau and Dr Sze have been working on a completely new drug classification and rating standard to establish a scientific link between traditional herbs and various diseases. The new QPAR standard for the first time links medicinal properties to cells, genes and proteins that trigger or contribute to a disease. For example, the magic fungus Ganoderma (靈芝) could be investigated for its ability to improve immunity by stimulating Dendritic Cells and therefore cell-mediated immune responses in our body.
“This is an innovative framework that quantifies the effect of traditional herbs would have on human health and common diseases on a sound scientific basis. QPAR can be used to verify how well Ganoderma can boost immunity and give a rating,” said Dr Sze.
The research is still at an early stage but if successful, scientists will only have to do laboratory tests and crunch on computers to build databases, and get an accurate projection of active ingredients, efficacy and toxicity for preliminary herbal study in the future.
Another breakthrough is that QPAR uses mathematical methods to make predictions and the sophisticated algorithms tapped into 5000-year ancient system of Chinese medicine which was based on the flow and balance of positive (yang) and negative (yin) energies in the body. “We believed that blending the Chinese understanding of diseases into the western medicines would yield an approach more successful in unlocking the full potential of Chinese herbs,” Dr Sze continued.
Dr Albert B. Wong, the founding president of the Modernised Chinese Medicine Association who was also a member of Hong Kong SAR Government’s Panel on Promoting Testing and Certification Services in Chinese Medicine Trade, shared his views on this novel technique. “Health benefits of herbal remedies are widely known but not yet proven. People don’t want to waste money or gamble on unproven treatments and then miss the chance of beating the diseases. New innovations are needed to bring transparency and credibility into herbal medicine.”
Dr Wong also believed that this innovation would drive the evolution of herbal trade. “Herbs can be grown, hand-picked or collected. The quality of active ingredients and medicinal effects also varies with region, altitude, growing techniques and processing methods. QPAR provides a scientific way to quickly verify the authenticity and active ingredients by different sources, making herbal trade fairer and more transparent. Drug companies would better control the prices and quality of raw herbs and also enforce standardisation and consistence across products. From the consumers’ point of view, it is worth to spend the money on products that can give exactly what they want for their health benefits.”Read more