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Julia Olmstead's Posts

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Growth promoters in beef may damage sperm

As reported by the BBC, a University of Rochester study found recently that men whose mothers ate lots of beef during their pregnancies had lower sperm counts than the sons of women who ate little or no beef while pregnant: Among sons of mothers who ate a lot of beef, 17.7 percent had a sperm concentration below the World Health Organization sub-fertility threshold of 20 million sperm per millilitre of seminal fluid. The figure for the sons of lower beef consumers was 5.7 percent. Lead researcher Professor Shanna Swan said the findings suggested that exposure to growth promoters contained in …

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‘Cause what else can we feed our cattle?

According to a recent story in the Corn and Soybean Digest, a group of 30 state and national agribusiness groups are asking the USDA to let farmers plant corn on land currently set aside for conservation through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Why take this land out of conservation? Yep: ethanol. These groups, who mostly represent livestock producer interests, say they need that land to grow enough corn for both ethanol and livestock. Most CRP land has been set aside because it's not well-suited to crop production -- it's prone to severe erosion, it floods regularly, it's hilly and therefore …

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It’s only natural

About twice a day, an email from a mystery man/unflagging anti-ethanol crusader named Ray Wallace appears in my inbox, chock full of excerpts from the latest ethanol slams and, on lucky days, choice quotes from politicos and the like sounding less-than-smart about the whole business. I'm not sure how I got on his listserv, and I can't quite say how you can (but if you'd really like to, let me know and we can probably work something out). Anyhow (I'm getting to my point), I mention Ray so as to credit him for alerting me to this quote, contained in …

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Season Shot: Ammo with flavor

Here's something for Mr. Khosla to throw some money at: Season Shot, ammunition that dissolves upon baking, leaving behind only the delicious flavor of your choice -- Cajun, Lemon Pepper, Garlic, Teriyaki, or Honey Mustard. Think this doesn't belong on an environmental blog? Think again. According to Season Shot's creators: Our environment is the basis for the sport of hunting. Without a healthy environment how would our hunting fare? Why damage the very thing that allows us to do what we love? Season Shot is the answer. This is the first truly environmentally safe ammunition, Season Shot stands out above …

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Carbon offsets and human rights

More evidence was released today demonstrating the complexity and oxymoronic nature of "ethical capitalism." This time it has to do with carbon offsets. According to "A funny place to store carbon," a report issued today by the World Rainforest Movement, villagers living along the edges of Mount Elgon National Park in east Uganda, the site of a Dutch-owned carbon offset project, have been beaten, shot at, and repeatedly denied access to their land by armed park rangers guarding the "carbon trees" inside the park. The FACE (Forest Absorbing Carbon-dioxide Emissions) Foundation's carbon credits are sold to European offset companies with …

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Saving gas the non-hybrid way

A nice story from Mother Jones this month on "hypermilers," people who use all kinds of wacky techniques to maximize fuel economy: He starts the truck--well, gets it rolling--by releasing the emergency brake and putting the gearshift in neutral before jumping out and pushing the 3,330-pound vehicle down his sloping driveway with the engine off. He jumps in and, without braking, turns right, swerves around a dead skunk in the road, and then takes a left turn--again without braking--to a stop sign. Ahead, the light is red. "This is a long light," he says. "I'm screwed. We have to throw …

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More from Lester Brown on ethanol and food costs

Worried that no one's going to post on ethanol today? Let me ease your troubled mind ... The world may soon be facing the highest food prices in history, according to Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute. The group released a missive today that says increased corn demand caused by the ethanol boom will dramatically raise food costs in the near future: The competition for grain between the world's 800 million motorists who want to maintain their mobility and its 2 billion poorest people who are simply trying to survive is emerging as an epic issue. Soaring food prices …

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Biodiesel means trouble for Uganda

As reported by Reuters yesterday: The president of Uganda asked the National Forest Authority boss to quit after he refused to license a palm oil company to destroy a pristine rainforest on an island in Lake Victoria, according to his resignation note. According to the article, a palm oil plantation would offer economic benefits that outweigh environmental concerns. They'll need to break the law to move ahead, but according to the president's office, they have to act fast to beat out other countries that might also try to court the palm oil company. Clearly this is an incredibly short-sighted act, …

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Finally, teh soy and teh gay, united

Looks like there's more to soy biodiesel than protecting the environment and energy independence -- it's also going to help keep down the homosexual population! Yes, it seems that medical "evidence" has finally shown homosexuality is not genetic at all. It is, in fact, your momma's fault for giving you soy-based formula. Let's keep that "devil's food" out of the mouths of babes and in our fuel tanks! Seriously, though, soy products (that aren't fermented) do contain high levels of phyto-estrogens, which are analogous to the female hormone estrogen. Studies are mixed as to the effects of soybeans' chemicals and …

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A look at the impacts of biofuels production, in the U.S. and the world

Nothing but blue skies from now on? Photo: house.gov Great news! We can finally scratch "driving less" off our list of ways to curb global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil! Biofuels will soon not only replace much of our petroleum, but improve soil fertility and save the American farmer as well! Sound too good to be true? Well, yes. But you could be excused for buying the hype. Ethanol and biodiesel are being promoted as cures for our energy and environmental woes not just by flacks for corporations like Archer Daniels Midland, BP, and DuPont, but by …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food