Truth in seafood labeling

Do you prefer that your Salmon come from wild-caught sources, or that if farm raised it comes from Scotland instead of Thailand? How accurate ARE those labels at the fish counter? The Universtiy of Hawaii took a look at this recently. They were assessing the levels of mercury in fish offered for sale that were mislabeled. Their study took measurements of mercury from fish purchased at retail seafood counters in 10 different states show the extent to which mislabeling can expose consumers to unexpectedly high levels of mercury, a harmful pollutant. Fishery stock "substitutions"—which falsely present a fish of the same species, but from a different geographic origin—are the most dangerous mislabeling offense, according to new research by University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa scientists.

Toxic Algae Scare Prompts Backlash Against Farms

What do a no-drink order in Toledo and a backlash against factory farming have in common? A lot, as it turns out. Residents of Ohio's fourth-largest city were advised for multiple days earlier this month to refrain from drinking their tap water because it had been contaminated by toxic algae. As residents struggled to deal with their contaminated water supply, the culprit behind the problem became readily apparent: factory farms. The Ohio Agriculture Advisory Council (OAAC) is proposing a regulatory crackdown that could forever change industrial farming practices in this Midwestern state.

New way to diagnose ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed - and misdiagnosed - behavioral disorder in children in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, there are currently no reliable physiological markers to diagnose ADHD. Doctors generally diagnose the disorder by recording a medical and social history of the patient and the family, discussing possible symptoms and observing the patient’s behavior. But an incorrect evaluation can lead to overmedication, which has parents everywhere concerned.

Update: Ebola virus in Africa, Middle East

The deadly Ebola virus is spreading rapidly in West Africa and the main concern is its spread from its point of origin and be carried possibly to other countries, including the Middle East. With the death toll rapidly nearing the 1,000 mark, West Africa’s latest Ebola virus epidemic is already the worst outbreak of its kind to occur according to the World Health Organization and other international public health bodies.

Origami in Space

An ancient art form is beginning to take off in a way no one thought possible: on a spaceship. Origami, or Japanese folding paper, is currently being developed into solar panels at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at The California Institute of Technology. Solar panels that have endless applications. Space travel has already turned over the possibility of solar-powered flight via folding panels, but this particular reincarnation is different. Developers cite a more intricate fold that allows for efficient deployment of the solar arrays. And it doesn’t stop there. Origami may one day be used in self-assembling solar arrays that are launched into space to power the earth below.

Water quality alerts do not seem to deter some surfers

Nearly three in 10 surfers admit they knowingly surf during health advisories – nearly the same amount that chooses not to surf during periods of elevated bacteria. About 40 percent of surfers said they were unaware if they had ever surfed during an active health advisory. The data can help public officials better warn surfers of potential health risks, said Anna Harding, co-author of the study and professor in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "Beach advisories for bacteria are not having their intended effect of dissuading surfers," Harding said. “The lack of awareness about advisories – and willingness to take risks surfing in water that may be contaminated – suggests the need to educate surfers about behaviors that make them vulnerable to illness."

Herbicide Use To Increase Dramatically

The US is poised to 'deregulate' GMO corn, soybean and cotton varieties resistant to the herbicides 2,4-D and dicamba. The result will be a big increase in the use of those herbicides, as high as 600%. Only a huge public outcry can now stop the GMO-herbicide juggernaut. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and proposed approval for new GMO corn and soybean varieties genetically engineered to be resistant to the toxic herbicide 2,4-D.

Plant Language

A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, one that allows them to share an extraordinary amount of genetic information with one another. The finding by Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, throws open the door to a new arena of science that explores how plants communicate with each other on a molecular level. It also gives scientists new insight into ways to fight parasitic weeds that wreak havoc on food crops in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Habitat protection for the Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect more than a half-million acres of critical habitat across the West for the yellow-billed cuckoo, a songbird that lives along rivers and streams. The bird was proposed for Endangered Species Act protection in October 2013 as part of a 2011 agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity to speed protection decisions for 757 imperiled species nationwide. Today’s proposal would protect 546,335 acres of streamside habitat in nine western states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. "This is an important victory not just for yellow-billed cuckoos but for rivers and streams across the West," said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center, which first petitioned for the cuckoo’s protection in 1998.

The power of distributed power!

Once upon a time when a big power plant retired, it was replaced by one as big or bigger. But not anymore. Energy efficiency is increasingly reducing the need for more power. And when it is needed, distributed generation may be enough. That's how utilities increasingly view the market, according to this year's Strategic Directions: U.S. Electric Industry report issued August 12 by Black & Veatch. The report is based on a survey of 576 utility leaders from May 7 to May 27.