Saturday, March 5, 2016

Fabricating Unscientific Fables for Corporate Business Interests

This is a continuation of another post I wrote on March 29th 2014 where other well known scientists were justifying tree removal by the timber industry because they reasoned that trees in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California were responsble for why the streams and rivers went dry. According to them, the drought and climate change had nothing to do with humans lacking water. It was those evil trees gulping down the water.
Stupid unscientific things said about Forests and Trees

Illustration Matthew Twombly for NPR

Now comes another story out of South America and the Amazon rain forests of Brazil where fear about the Zika Virus is running rampant across the media, setting up a scenario for the world's pharmaceuticals & Biotechs to cash in big time on the next gold rush rumors. This is reminiscent of the bogus 2009 fearmongering propaganda story about the Franken-Mutant Swine/Bird Flu which was going to create one of the largest pandemics the world had seen in decades since the Spanish Flu. This isn't to downplay the dangers of such a virus. But some of the dumb explanations and solutions coming down to us, not from the usual suspects like  CEOs, CFOs or other execs and board members of giant pharmaceuticals, Biotechs or Agro-Chemical corporations with a vested interest in profiteering off the scare, but rather the dumb statements from some Scientists themselves who propose making mosquitoes go extinct as the solution. In other words, once again nature is viewed as flawed, badly designed and the world won't hurt if the Mosquitoes disappear. But don't worry folks, they say there won't be any bad consequences to pay for later. Other organisms they say will pick up the slack or void.

image: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

The big question is, should we eliminate for good the virus carrying mosquito, Aedes aegypti, from the environment ? Absolutely say some Entomologistts and Biologists. Would there be any dire consequences ? You'd be surprised to hear that many of the world's prominent scientists say - No! Below I'll list a few of the quoted gems these experts came up in a recent NPR article.
"There's been lots of debate in the last 10 years whether we should eradicate mosquitoes, or at least the 100 species or so that serve as disease vectors for humans. If you look at the science, the majority [of scientists] think we could probably eliminate mosquitoes without too much harm on the environment."
David Magnus, Director of Standford Univeristy's Center for Biomedical Ethics
"What we learned is that the biting midge is the only known pollinator of cacao. "If we were to eradicate that particular disease vector, we may not have chocolate by the end of it. Which a lot of people would consider a catastrophe"
Dina Fonseca Professor of Etomology at Rutgers University
In one corner of her mouth a Professor of Entomology says that the little bitting Midge is the only pollinator known for the Cacao tree, but the only consequence she could come up with as far as an environmental impact is that humans wouldn't have chocolate. The only consequence ? How does she know that ? No explanation, but then here is what she said about the elimination of the Mosquito:
"I'm not worried about eradicating an invasive mosquito. It's an urban species that specializes on feeding on people," she says. "The result of removing them is health to humans and more people."
Then we have another gem by an entomologist and biologist:
"It's sad the passenger pigeons were lost, but did ecosystems collapse? No. Did anything bad happen? We just lost a pigeon, that's a shame."
"If we took out Aedes aegypti, that would be something. Nothing good comes from them, just that people get really sick."
Andrew Read, a biologist and entomologist who specializes in the ecology and evolutionary genetics of infectious disease at Pennsylvania State University
This was a strange statement a biologist to make about the now extinct Passenger Pigeon. The Passenger pigeon used to migrate in such enormous flocks which were described as stretching for miles and dense enough to blacken the sky. They were nomadic and were constantly searching for food, shelter, and breeding grounds. They were once believed to be the most abundant bird in North America, numbering around 3 to 5 billion at the height of their population. Does Andrew Read really believe that such massive population of a single living creature had no real ecological impact on the environment they lived in ? Do a google search on the Passenger Pigeon or read what American Naturalist and Artist, John James Audubon had to say in his first hand description of them. Seriously, no impact on the environment ?

Of course the Scientific World's only viable answer for combating the Zika Virus is to genetically engineer mosquitoes with so-called 'kill-switches'. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called mosquito control “the most immediate line of defense” against its spread and they are encouraging further testing of GE mosquitoes for this solution. Here is the WHO statement:
“Given the magnitude of the Zika crisis, WHO encourages affected countries and their partners to boost the use of both old and new approaches to mosquito control as the most immediate line of defense."
… For genetically modified mosquitoes, the WHO Advisory Group has recommended further field trials and risk assessment to evaluate the impact of this new tool on disease transmission.”
WHO Report: 'Mosquito control: can it stop Zika at source?'
This degenerate worldview outlook about Nature having major flaws and being badly designed are not recent admissions by so-called scientific experts. Back in July 2010 an article published on this very subject in Nature quoted two other scientists with the same perverted perspective about making organisms go extinct.
"Yet in many cases, scientists acknowledge that the ecological scar left by a missing mosquito would heal quickly as the niche was filled by other organisms. Life would continue as before — or even better. When it comes to the major disease vectors, "it's difficult to see what the downside would be to removal, except for collateral damage", says Insect Ecologist, Steven Juliano of Illinois State University in Normal. A world without mosquitoes would be "more secure for us", says Medical Entomologist Carlos Brisola Marcondes from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. "The elimination of Anopheles would be very significant for mankind." - A World Without Mosquitoes
  Update March 30th 2016 - NPR provides another article which reveals not only how Scientists are on board with making a specific organism go on Earth extinct, but also a 5 step plan on how to go about it

Image -  Matt Twombly for NPR
"Most scientists we interviewed, as it turns out, would be all right with saying goodbye to the species. Aedes aegypti carries other deadly diseases harmful to humans, like yellow fever and dengue. Animals don't depend on this species as a major food source, and the critters don't pollinate plants. And anyway, they're an invasive species, infiltrating our cities, where they thrive."
NPR: A Starry-Eyed 4-Step Guide To Wiping Out A Mosquito
I hope nobody is putting blind faith in these Scientists or their Journalists. Never forget, the present ecological mess that our planet is presently experiencing is the result of the misuse and abuse of science by industrial scientists. Choose you Scientist wisely. I won't waste further time on the irresponsible Corporate Biotechs and their biased Consensus Supporters for correcting our Natural World's imaginary flaws while at the same time making a hefty profit under the propaganda cloak of "We only want to help poor people in other countries." But we should note that there are other more important factors which have directly contributed to the imbalance and increases in diseases which effect us. But it does seem that no one appears to be interested in changing the irresponsible human behavour which is changing our planet's environment. None or at least a very limited few of the world's authorities have any interest or backbone for devising a strategy for  reversing the negative effects created by irresponsible human behaviour by means of restoring what has been lost in the natural world. Their only answer is to obliterate through genetic engineering a mosquito with a kill switch which will cause an otherwise valuable ecosystem component to go extinct. The first thing the public needs to understand is that people in white lab coats are for the most part totally out of touch with the reality of how the natural world operates and functions. How many of you folks ever hear of any modern day college students working towards getting a PhD in Botany, Ornamental Horticulture or any other related ecological fields of study ? That's correct, None! Most of these people are out of touch with how whole plant systems actually work within their respective ecological systems. On that note, let's look at the real cause for outbreak below.

Aidenvironment - Riau 2006

Remains of peat forest in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province,
Indonesia to make way for oil palm plantation.
A recent article by veteran journalist science writer, Jim Robbins in Yale Envirnment 360 had this to say;
"A growing body of scientific evidence shows that the felling of tropical forests creates optimal conditions for the spread of mosquito-borne scourges, including malaria and dengue. Primates and other animals are also spreading disease from cleared forests to people."
Below here are some relevant quotes which highlight how human ignorance and greed have dismantled old growth forested ecosystems and changed the ecological balance to one that is more conducsive to mosquito populations growing unchecked and quickly adapting their behaviour into a more aggrassive critter which increases it's attack on human beings than previously:
"What research is demonstrating is that because of a complex chain of ecological changes, the risk of disease outbreaks, especially those carried by some mosquitoes, can be greatly magnified after forests are cleared for agriculture and roads."
"A flood of sunlight pouring onto the once-shady forest floor, for example, increases water temperatures, which can aid mosquito breeding, explained Amy Vittor, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida. She is an expert in the ecology of deforestation and malaria, which is where this dynamic is best understood."
"Deforestation creates other conditions conducive to mosquito breeding. Leaves that once made streams and ponds high in tannins disappear, which lowers the acidity and makes the water more turbid, both of which favor the breeding of some species of mosquito over others. Flowing water is dammed up, deliberately and inadvertently, and pools. Because it is no longer taken up and transpired by trees, the water table rises closer to the forest floor, which can create more swampy areas."
As agriculture replaces forest, "re-growth of low lying vegetation provides a much more suitable environment" for the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite, Vittor says. 
Yale 360: How Forest Loss is Leading To a Rise in Human Disease
Please read the entire article from the link above. Also below here are some links from research done on the benefits of why nature needs mosquitoes in ecosystems
Historical Perspective on Humans Altering the  Environment
image: Alex Wild/
An adult Mosquito emerges from its watery nursery
The image above looks like something out of a spooky Sci-Fi flick from the 1970s. Back in November 2014, Science Magazine published an article about an experiment with disease-carrying mosquitoes in Africa which showed a surprising result. They only switched to human blood just mere thousands of years ago.  Back in November 2014, there was a press release from Rockefeller University which explained how they isolated the scent that the disease-carrying mosquitoes preferred:
"The researchers guessed that Or4 must be detecting some aroma in human body odor. To figure out which one, they asked volunteers to wear pantyhose for 24 hours. And then they placed those stinky stockings in a machine designed to separate their scent into the hundreds of individual chemicals that make up body odor. The researchers came up with one match, a chemical called 'sulcatone' that was not found in pantyhose worn by guinea pigs."
Apparently, the research at both Rockefeller and Princeton Universities showed a recent switch by one variety of mosquito, Aedes aegypti aegypti, from its close cousin, Aedes aegypti formosus. The latter variety bit guinea pigs in the lab, but showed no attraction to humans; but this was not the case with the first mosquito - Aedes aegypti. Interestingly it would seem that humans have a lot of 'sulcatone', but guinea pigs do not. It appears that a variant in the Or4 gene caused the mosquitoes to be attracted to sulcatone. But the question is, when did this occur ???
"The switch from preferring animals to humans involves a variety of behavior adjustments: Mosquitoes had to become comfortable living around humans, entering their homes, breeding in clean water found in water jugs instead of the muddy water found in tree holes. “There’s a whole suite of things that mosquitoes have to change about their lifestyle to live around humans,” Vosshall says. “This paper provides the first genetic insight into what happened thousands of years ago when some mosquitoes made this switch.”
These scientists never really said how many thousands of years ago this occurred (we'll probably never know), but it’s conceivable that the beginning of  Mosquito behavioural change started at the time when humans began spreading their agricultural practices on Earth as they spread their various civilizations around the globe. On that note, there was another recent study which came out and revealed that the alteration of all the Earth's plant and animal ecosystems happened around 6000 years ago [actually the calculation was 5998 years ago] when humans spread agriculture around the globe. The University of Vermont research revealed where the pattern of human ignorance and mismanagement of the Earth's natural resources first began:

"When did human domination of the planet start? A new study in the journal Nature reports a dramatic shift in one of the rules of nature about 6,000 years ago—connected to growing human populations and the rise of farming. UVM’s Nick Gotelli used his world-leading expertise on ecological statistics to find the pattern."
“When early humans started farming and became dominant in the terrestrial landscape, we see this dramatic restructuring of plant and animal communities,” said University of Vermont biologist Nicholas Gotelli, an expert on statistics and the senior author on the new study. 
In the hunt for the beginning of the much-debated “Anthropocene” — a supposed new geologic era defined by human influence of the planet — the new research suggests a need to look back farther in time than the arrival of human-caused climate change, atomic weapons, urbanization or the industrial revolution. 
“This tells us that humans have been having a massive effect on the environment for a very long time,” said S. Kathleen Lyons, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History who led the new research.
Chart published in Nature

The above chart shows what they call a Weighted Loses curve with shaded 95% confidence intervals illustrates reduction in the proportion of aggregated species pairs in the Holocene (log scale). Dotted vertical line at 5,998 years delineates the linear model breakpoint in the trend. I'm not sure how they actually get to the 5,998 years, but that must be why the average 6000 years is used for the benefit of the readers. Apparently, prior to the beginning of human civilization spreading of agarian society's farming practices around the globe as human population spread about 6,000 years ago, the prior 307 million years revealed that Earth's various ecosystems were relatively stable with regards animals, plants, birds, etc. But that all gradually but radically changed as humans spread their agriculture everywhere they went around the globe. Here is another quote:

"For modern communities of plants and animals, recent studies show that segregated species pairs are more common than aggregated ones. But when the team investigated the composition of ancient communities using data from fossils, they were surprised to find the opposite pattern: from 307 million years ago to about 6,000 years ago, there was a higher frequency of aggregated species pairs. Then, from 6,000 years ago to the present, the pattern shifted to a predominance of segregated species pairs. An ancient rule had changed."
(Source - University of Vermont)
(Source - Nature)
Seriously, what else can I say ? Currently, it would not be a surprise to anyone that there are organizations [Biotechs, Agro-Chemical, Pharamceutical, Investors, etc] who are figuratively high fiving each other over the prospects of making some type of obscene profit over the misfortunes of others. There is currently no vaccine available for the Zika virus and only the symptoms of the virus can be treated. They also have no solution for the other avenues for which Zika virus transmission is possible. For example, like the AIDS virus, this Zika virus can also be transmitted through Sexual Contact and Blood Transfusions . Couple of problems here. First, no real leaders in our modern times wants to place recommended limitations on human sexual behaviours. They either don't have the guts or backbone to educate those who look up to them or they realize that their following just recent being told how they should live. I can only guess what their apathetic stance and reasoning is, given some time, Science just may come up with a "Fix-It-Pill" to reverse any of the negative consequences brought to us by Zika virus as a result of irresponsible human behavioural choices. Second, the Blood Industry in the medical world makes a fortune off their blood business model. Recommending the Public use safer alternative transfusions like Ringer's Lactate, Saline Solution, etc are not an option for them. There is no money in it. It's absurd. Hey, even the United States military is spending millions of dollars on non-blood surgery which makes sense from a logistics standpoint. It should honestly be noted that not all scientists and other researchers follow this corporate lead or flawed worldview about our natural world being flawed and at fault.  But people everywhere should start questioning who and what you are putting your unquestioning trust and blind faith into.
Update - March 6, 2016
This is a bit of depressing News Report which came out about the actual company who is behind the GMO Mosquitoes and the fortune they hope to reap off the ecological tradgety 
A Biotech Evangelist Seeks a Zika Dividend 

“An outbreak in the Western Hemisphere could give countries including the United States new reasons to try wiping out mosquitoes with genetic engineering."
MIT Technology Review
"Lots of organisms process detritus. "Mosquitoes aren't the only ones involved or the most important. If you pop one rivet out of an airplane's wing, it's unlikely that the plane will cease to fly."
Insect Ecologist - Steven Juliano - Illinois State University
Yeah, you betcha!

NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth News

And in another bit of flawed double standard reasoning, GMO cheerleader, Mischa Popoff, caused the "Irony Meter" to go off the scales recently on this very subject of controlling Mosquitoes. He criticized Texas Agrilife Specialist Dotty Woodson who talked with Katy Blakey about mosquito abatement for home and yard. The subject of using Bacillus thuringensis (known for it's infamous BT Toxin which kills insects), here is what spewed back in May 2015:
Mischa Popoff: "The problem with using bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to kill mosquitoes is that it kills a lot of non-target insects which are food to aquatic animals."
Ironically, there was an article of April 1st, 2016 in the online journal, "politico Magazine," Mr Popoff  made this statement below after poking fun at Cuba's small organic farmers who number around 383,000 farms, many of them small urban farms.

Mischa Popoff: "Cubans won't feed America's appetite for anything until they can feed themselves. And to that end, it's time for Cuban farmers to start using synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and GMOs."

Patrick Moore & Mischa Popoff
Let's see here, 'double standard', 'two-faced', double-tongued', 'pot to kettle black' & major hypocracy spilling out all over the place. Disagree with Mr Popoff and you are immediately labeled an anti-science Luddite from the dark ages. This is the same guy who censored, edited and deleted many of my posts on the subject of GMO discussion over at his precious journal pages on the Heartland Institute's website. Needless to say I discontinued my DISQUS account.  To the right here Mischa is pictured with his good buddy Patrick Moore who like Mischa, is both pro-gmo and climate change denier. Once again, ironically, I do not argued against GMOs from an autism, cancer, etc position, but rather from an ecosystem replication standpoint based on my own application in which all of Earth's plant communities operate efficiently under the same biological guidelines and rules found in nature and when replicated properly  negates the need for GMOS and Synthetics.  Clearly industrial science and their scientists hate biomimetics. There's no money in it which is ultimately what this has always been about. Maybe I went to the wrong science classes when younger. But if their version of industrial science has the power to control & establish what truth is, then I guess I am a Luddite after all.

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