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USDA Has Approved GE Non-Browning Apples. Is the Public Ready for Them? – March 11, 2015

The gene silencing technique used to develop Arctic apples hasn’t been thoroughly studied, critics say

I’ve been eating a lot of apples these days, mostly as part of my daily serving of salad. The fruit slices offer a perfect crisp and juicy counterpoint to the softer greens. Usually, I pre-slice the apples for my lunch salad. The slight browning that occurs as the slices oxidize from being exposed to air has never bothered me, but evidently some consumers find it unappetizing. Every year tens of tons of apples end up in in the trash, much of it due to browning and bruising. So does that mean there’s a market for genetically modified apples that don’t brown when cut?

Woman at a table with an… <a href=more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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China Imposes One-Year Ban on Ivory Imports Following Mounting Criticism – February 26, 2015

Wildlife advocates hopeful, but say more needs to be done to save African elephants from being poached to extinction

A bit of positive news to end this week with: Yesterday, China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports. From the Associated Press:

"The State Administration of Forestry declared the ban in a public notice posted on its official site, in which it said the administration would not handle any import request.

"In an explanatory news report, an unnamed forestry official told the state-run Legal Evening News that authorities hope the ban would be a concrete step to reduce the demand for African tusks and to protect wild elephants. The official said the temporary ban would allow authorities to evaluate its effect on elephant protection before they can take… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Obama Vetoes Bill Approving Keystone XL Pipeline – February 24, 2015

GOP to schedule an override vote by March 3

As promised, without much fanfare, President Barak Obama vetoed a bill that would have approved the controversial Keystone XL pipeline shortly after it landed on his desk today.

Obama in the Oval OfficeOfficial White House Photo by Pete Souza"Through this bill the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest, the president wrote in his veto message.

"The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously. But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people. And because this act of Congress conflicts with established… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Plastic Debris is Contributing to the Potential Extinction of Endangered Marine Species – February 23, 2015

Threatened or near threatened species make up 17% of all marine animals impacted by manmade debris, says report

A few days ago, I wrote about a study quantifying the ginormous amount of plastic debris that’s making its way into our oceans every year. (In case you haven’t heard it yet, 9 million tons of plastic is expected to end at sea this year, and researchers say the trash will likely increase tenfold over the next decade.) Now yet another study, which attempts to quantify how much of sea life is impacted by stuff we throw away, says this flotsam is contributing to the potential extinction of some already endangered marine species.

seal entangled in fishing netPhoto courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris Programmore

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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9 Million Tons of Plastic Waste WIll End Up in Our Oceans in 2015, Says New Study – February 12, 2015

Researchers warn that the trash could increase more than tenfold in the next decade

We’ve all heard about the great Pacific garbage patch and other huge swirls of plastic trash floating around in our world’s oceans damaging marine ecosystems and sea creatures. But what’s not been clear is  just how much more plastic is making its way from land to sea every year. Now we have an estimate.

 A new study in the February 13 issue of the journal Science calculates that about 8 million tons of plastic waste wound up in the world's oceans in 2010 — equal to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.

plastic trash in oceanPhoto by… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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