Sustainable Living


I wrote about the release of GM mosquitos when they started the first trial in the Cayman Islands about 8 years ago.

Mosquitos are pollinators too

After we posted that article we kept track of what was happening.

In 2015 Genewatch UK published an article titled GM insect factories might become antibiotic-resistant bacteria factories. Their concern was mass production of GM insects in factories, using tetracyclines as an additive in their feed, could lead to drug resistance in their microbiota, in the same way that treating bees with tetracyclines has selected for antibiotic resistance. Oxitec’s GM insects may then disseminate antibiotic resistance when released into the environment in the repeated, largescale releases needed to vastly outnumber wild pest insect numbers.

This is a big deal – the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 700,000 people die each year from antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.

Then just as Florida was thinking of releasing the GM mosquitos Physicians from the area expressed their concerns: These GM insects are programmed to require tetracycline as a maturation factor. If they do not receive the antibiotic in sufficient dosage to penetrate every cell and neutralize the implanted lethal gene, the insects die in early larval stage. If they receive a sufficient dosage, they will live and reproduce.

They asked that nasal swab studies be done to assess pre and post release bacterial resistance.  According to one of the doctors involved the company continued to spend big money marketing the concept but did not run the cheap cultures to soothe residents fears. Physicians Vote No To GM Mosquitos

In January 2017 in the Cayman Islands Oxitec announced The release of some 8 million modified mosquitoes in West Bay has had a significant impact in reducing populations of the disease spreading insects.

In June 2017

In  October 2017 a report was released identifying the success of the project claiming a 62% suppression rate.

An $8 million plan for an island wide rollout of the genetically modified mosquito program was aborted at the last minute in late 2017 amid budget cuts and concerns that the technology has yet to fully prove itself.

Instead government opted for a much smaller-scale deployment, testing the GM mosquitoes in combination with other suppression techniques in a $588,000 trial throughout 2018.

But in May of 2018  a cache of internal emails was released following an open records request. In those communications staff at a management level expressed serious doubts about the impact of the technology in controlling natural populations of the disease-spreading insects. They also expressed concerns about the claims being made on its behalf by British biotech firm Oxitec. The emails state that the report was generated by Oxitec which stood to gain from a deal of close to US $8 million dollar that would expand the project to entire island.

The Revealing and disturbing MRCU Oxitec Emails – Editorial

If it were not for the release of those emails, it seems likely that Oxitec’s claim that its program had led to a “62 percent suppression rate” of the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti population in the West Bay pilot area would have gone unchallenged by government officials. That may well have led to the awarding of a two-year, US$8 million contract to Oxitec based on, at best, incomplete data.

Instead, the government budgeted “only” $940,000 in 2018, essentially for Oxitec to rerun its pilot tests in West Bay from 2016 and 2017.

In November 2018 it was announced that the release of the GM mosquitoes has stopped and no new public funds are committed to the project next year.

It seems like this may be the final chapter in this GM Mosquito story in the Caymans.

https://www.caymancompass.com/2018/11/13/gm-mosquito-release-halted/

 

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The next time you go to use a throw away plastic cup – think about where it could end up.

 

March 2011 046

Most people who visit Dominica exclaim over and over how green it is!

Most of the people who live here say one of the reasons they put up with all the challenges of living on a small island with low incomes is the access to nature.

Lucky for me growing up my parents loved to immerse in nature; our most frequent family outing was an experience in nature; visiting a lake or a park for a day or a week holiday. I still remember the feelings of well being after being immersed in nature and the deep refreshing sleeps after.

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Immersion in Nature is now scientifically proven to be healing!

I first learned this concept – nature is healing as part of a conscious lifestyle for health and wellness – in the 1980’s from the Rasta’s I studied during my year’s sabbatical in the West Indies studying Herbal Medicine; Appropriate Technology and Vegetarian Cooking!

Repeatedly as I interviewed people who were part of the Rasta Movement and interested in Healthy Conscious Living I heard that Immersion in Nature – gardening; hiking trails; nature walks; river baths; hot water soaks or visits to ‘Dr. Sea’ – was an intricate part of their Healthy Lifestyle.

Now Forest Bathing is offered everywhere.

The scientifically-proven benefits of exposure to nature include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Improved mood.
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD.
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness.
  • Increased energy level.
  • Improved sleep.

 

 

 

 

A new study released within the last few days by the Center for Disease Control and  Prevention has shown a marked increase in Autism;  it now affects 1 in 88 children, 1 in 54 boys, an increase of 28% since and a frightenly huge jump from 1 in 10,ooo cases seen in the 1980’s.

As a early childhood education teacher I began to see the increase in autism in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I was told by parent after parent that they thought immunizations had changed their child overnight, they had observed different behaviours.

This was repeatedly refuted by the vaccination companies, but now as the rates of autism increase people are looking at vaccination as a possible cause of autism.

Another suspected source of neurotoxins in children is environmental toxins and agricultural chemicals such as organophosphates.

My husband was recently diagnosed with dementia, after a few years of research I have realized that dementia is also increasing rapidly and there are starting to be a few studies linking agricultural chemicals and dementia.

I asked the Neurologist when we went to Guadeloupe for testing and diagnosis; we discussed that there were no studies at that time that we know of. I kept researching and the links are becoming more clear.

See the studies below

Parkinsons
Exposure to certain toxins or environmental factors may increase the risk of later Parkinson’s disease, but the risk is relatively small.

Dementia

Cognitive impairment in agricultural workers and nearby residents exposed to pesticides in the Coquimbo Region of Chile.

Association between background exposure to organochlorine pesticides and the risk of cognitive impairment: A prospective study that accounts for weight change.

 

 

Autism

Prenatal chlorpyrifos leads to autism-like deficits in C57Bl6/J mice.

Prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides and risk of autism spectrum disorders and other non-typical development at 3 years in a high-risk cohort.

 

When I moved to Dominica in the 1990’s and traveled the island catching rides I often talked about water conservation. I already saw signs of less water in the dry river beds and low water levels of rivers. I had first came to the island in 1981 and the observation was personal.

Everyone laughed at me and said; Dominica does not need to  conserve water.

This year for this first time I remember Dominica has been warned that there could be a drought.

Tropical Storm Erica showed us that not all precipitation contributes to higher water levels in out rivers, as runoff from hard rains after long dry periods can leave as quickly as it comes.

Tips

All household faucets should be fit with aerators. This is hands-down the single best home water conservation method – and the cheapest!

Be sure taps are fully off before leaving your home. Leaving a rap running can waste gallons of water.

Check the household water system for leaks regularly. A small drip from a faucet can waste 20 gallons of water per day.

Don’t leave the water running to wash dishes. If you use a basin when washing dishes by hand, you use half the water.

Ensure  toilets are working properly. A “running” toilet with a loose or stuck seal can waste thousands of gallons of water.

Fill the washing machine with clothes before doing the load. This allows you to wash more clothes with the same amount of water.

Go to the Beach or the River. Take advantage of Dominica’s natural hot pools, rivers and ocean beaches. Private swimming pools use large amounts of water.

Hide a small water bottle or 2 filled with water/sand in your toilet water tank. This means every time you flush the toilet you save 1/2 or 1 litre of water.

Insulate hot water pipes. It’s inexpensive and very easy to insulate water pipes with pre-slit foam pipe insulation. Since hot water comes faster we don’t waste water running the tap while it heats up.

Just use the hose to rinse off the car or equipment when washing them. Use a pail of soapy water first to clean the car then turn the hose on.

Know that every drop of water saved is valuable! Climate change is here!

Low-flow faucet aerators.  This is hands-down the single best home water conservation method – and costs very little!

Make showers quick! Long, hot showers can use 5 to 10 gallons every unneeded minute.  

Not to leave the water running when you shampoo or soap up in the shower. Turn the water on to wet the body; turn it off to soap or shampoo then back on to rinse.

Open the facet a little less than full force when using the hose or tap. In Dominica water pressure can be high and that means a lot more water flows when the tap is on.

Purchase water saving household equipment. Washing machines that are water saving use less water per cycle.

Quit letting the hose run when u wash your car. Better yet don’t turn on the hose until you are ready to rinse.

Replace regular shower heads with water-saving shower heads, It’s easy and inexpensive to install water-saving low-flow shower heads. “Low-flow” means using less than 2.5 gallons per minute.

Save a few liters of water every day. This will add up to saving 1000’s of gallons of water over a lifetime.

Turn it off while brushing. After wetting the toothbrush, turn off the water while brushing. This can save 684 gallons of water in a year’s worth of brushing

Utilize efficient watering systems. We can greatly reduce the amount of water used for gardening by utilizing soaker hoses, installing drip-irrigation systems and watering plants in the early morning or late evening so the water does not evaporate as quickly. Water sprinklers use much more water often with greater lost to evaporation.

Verify the water from your guttering is caught in a rain barrel water catchment system covered for mosquitos. Free water for all your outdoor needs.

Wash sheets, towels and clothing only when they need it. Wearing an outfit more than once or washing sheets and towels less frequently can cut water usage in half.

Xeriscape with plants that suit the environment. Keep lawn surfaces to a minimum and plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants. Use native plants and flowers known to thrive in the area you live. Around Salisbury we would focus on drought resistance flowers and shrubs; perhaps cactuses and succulents. In Pond Case and Laudat we would grow plants that love the wet cool conditions there.

Yes these little tips do make a difference. Never under estimate the impact of one person in the world wide scheme of things. 

Zest for living in a mindful manner results in less resources being used per person and family. This ensures resources will still be there for our grandchildren.

It is always prudent and mindful to conserve precious drinking water as one of Dominica’s most important resources.

We are putting chemicals originally developed as neuro toxins in the second world war on our food and therefore in our food, our rivers, our soil and our oceans. This affects those who apply the chemicals, and those who consume them as well as those who are nearby when the application is happening or afterwards.

The following information is a copy and paste from Medscape, I have highlighted a few sentences

Authors:

Frances M Dyro, MD  Associate Professor of Neurology, New York Medical College; Neuromuscular Section, Department of Neurology, Westchester Medical Center

Organophosphates (OPs) are chemical substances originally produced by the reaction of alcohols and phosphoric acid. In the 1930s, organophosphates were used as insecticides, but the German military developed these substances as neurotoxins in World War II. They function as cholinesterase inhibitors, thereby affecting neuromuscular transmission.

Organophosphate insecticides, such as diazinon, chlorpyrifos, disulfoton, azinphos-methyl, and fonofos, have been used widely in agriculture and in household applications as pesticides. Over 25,000 brands of pesticides are available in the United States, and their use is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Diazinon was sold in the United States for 48 years with 14.7 million pounds sold annually. It was the most widely used ingredient in lawn and garden sprays in the United States. Diazinon was found under the brand names Real Kill, Ortho, and Spectracide. In the past decade, the EPA reached an agreement with the pesticide industry to end the production of diazinon by March 2001 for indoor use and June 2003 for lawn and garden use. Chlorpyrifos (Dursban) was involved in a negotiated phaseout in June 2000. These phaseouts resulted from recognition of the special risk that these substances posed for children. Four percent of patients presenting to poison control centers report pesticide exposure. Of those patients, 34% are children younger than 6 years.

Toxic nerve agents used by the military are often of the organophosphate group; an example is sarin, the nerve gas used in a terrorist action in Tokyo in 1995. In anticipation of military use of OP neurotoxins during the Gulf War, the US military was given prophylactic agents which some believe caused some of the symptoms of Gulf War syndrome.

With the emergence of the West Nile virus in the northeastern United States, programs of spraying have been implemented in large urban areas, in particular New York’s Central Park.

Controversy exists regarding the long-term effects of exposure to low levels of potentially neurotoxic substances.

Therapeutic uses of organophosphates

Several organophosphate agents are being tried therapeutically. Cholinesterase inhibition, which in large doses makes these agents effective pesticides, also may be useful in other doses for treating dementia. Metrifonate has been used to treat schistosomiasis and is undergoing trials for the treatment of primary degenerative dementia.

The organophosphates pyridostigmine and physostigmine are carbamate anticholinesterases that have been used for many years for the treatment of myasthenia gravis. Although the short-duration anticholinesterases are generally safe, reports of their abuse are associated with a picture similar to pesticide intoxication.

One of the author’s patients had been diagnosed erroneously as a myasthenic. Long-term “therapeutic” doses of physostigmine chemically altered her neuromuscular junctions to the point where she had to be slowly weaned from the drug.

Sung and others have reported on the ability of these substances to induce nicotinic receptor modulation. This explains the action of these drugs and may result in development of more effective agents.

Historic and new uses of organophosphates

The first organophosphate was synthesized in 1850. Physostigmine was used to treat glaucoma in the 1870s. By the 1930s, synthetic cholinesterase inhibitors were being used for skeletal muscle and autonomic disorders. Some organophosphates were tried in the treatment of parkinsonism.

In 1986, testing began for tacrine, the first cholinesterase inhibitor to be tried for Alzheimer disease; it was released for clinical use in 1993. It is no longer in use. The blood-brain barrier has been the limiting factor in developing a cholinesterase inhibitor for use in dementia. Drugs such as rivastigmine are now widely used. Reported adverse effects are nausea and vomiting, with resultant weight loss because of the increase in cholinergic activity. It has been shown to be useful in mild to moderately severe Alzheimer disease.

Pyridostigmine has been tried for the fatigue of postpolio syndrome but showed no benefit.

 

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1175139-overview

Dominica is a leading producer of Bay Oil; the West Indian Bay Oil is antiseptic and the scent is heavenly; we export the oil all over the world.

I have been using and promoting the use of bay oil as a cleaning agent for over 20 years.

I utilized this oil to make my own cleaning products for Eco Clean, an ecologically friendly cleaning company I owned and operated in Canada people raved about the scent.

Pimenta racemosa. Indigenous to northern South America and the Caribbean, this tropical bay is a sturdy, evergreen tree of the Myrtle family which has been cultivated for commercial purposes for 80-90 years in Dominica. Not to be confused with the bay leaf or laurel (laurus nobilis) native to the Mediterranean area.

To grab a handful of these leaves and steep a tea is truly heavenly and a gift from the earth ….. but that is a whole other post!

Bay oil is used in herbal healing preparations, perfumes and cosmetics of all kinds and also for making Bay Rum.

There are at least 3 kinds of Bay tree grown throughout Dominica but the distilleries I know use the most common bay and are concentrated in the Carib Territories and the south east of the island. As you tour the island you can often smell the distillery before you see it!

The oil is produced in several small distilleries, many of which are run as co-operatives, by distilling the steam from boiling leaves, a traditional process using fire that gives Dominican oil its distinctive dark colour and sweet, spicy, aroma. This oil can be used for many, many things and the agro processing waste is traditionally used as a soil enhancement.

Recently we have been producing a more highly refined bay oil extracted by steam distillation of  the leaves. This is a clear oil that is claimed to be more potent and is a natural product but I love the dark oil made traditionally and I hope efforts are made to keep this knowledge alive.

I clean with bay oil and wrote my first article about bay oil for the Times over 10 years ago. It is a great cleaning agent for almost all surfaces. It may stain a pourous surface so test it out before using if in doubt. It imparts a nice scent which is said to repel cockroaches and some other pests plus it kills bacteria without impinging on the environment.

I would hope other niche markets for tropical bay oil may also evolve as medicinal uses are further investigated.

It is, for instance, an important ingredient, in a herbal supplement promoted for aiding stress associated with the withdrawal symptoms people suffer when quitting smoking.

The bay tree itself is hardy and can even be grown on poor, rocky soils, we could take advantage of this and the fact that unlike some other plant extracts, it is not easy to produce an acceptable synthetic substitute, as bay oil is a particularly complex essential oil with over 20 components. We all know what happened to vanilla when they found a chemical copy.

This oil is easy to store and ship – as most essential oils do, it has a long shelf life. We could truly become the world source for organic bay oil!

Dominica Essential Oils and Spices Co-op right here in Dominica is the best place to get bay oil; you can buy the oil right there in small medium and large bottles. Once in a while they don’t have butafter over 15 years of purchasing there, that has hardly ever happened to me.

Buy Bay Oil add it to your mop water or cleaning water – just a few drops required and a few drops of any liquid soap (liquid soaps are very similar – dish soap and shampoo are not that different and they rarely contain phosphates) to distribute the oil evenly through the water; you will be amazed how easy it is to clean greenly.

Cleaning with Bay Oil means we keep the environment clean too!

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