Friday, June 29, 2012

GO with the GOOD GREEN ... away...away with toxic pesticides...

Indeed a Shared Perspective - Thank You!!

Non-Toxic Pesticides Round Up

Blog Of The Week
Thursday, June 28, 2012

We asked our Healthy Child Network what they do to get rid of pests in their homes. Here are some great advice they sent us! Remember to go to their blogs to read the full articles.
Lori from Groovy Green Livin’ educates us about 3 Mosquito Repelling Plants:
Pot of basil
Basil is a known mosquito repellent (it’s also known to repel flies). Planting fresh basil around your outdoor eating areas is a simple way to repel those pesky mosquitoes. If there’s no time to grow your own pick up fresh basil at your local farmers market or supermarket and place it in a vase on the table. If mosquitoes are circling your head and buzzing in your ear while you are trying to catch some z’s place a vase of basil on your night table to keep the mosquito and the buzzing away.
Catnip is a natural mosquito repellent. “Catnip” is the common name for a perennial herb of the mint family. It is native to Europe and is an import to the United States and other countries. The catnip plant is now a widespread weed in North America. In August 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET.
To grow your own catnip you’ll need a perennial herb called Nepeta cataria, which can be found at a nursery or by purchasing the seeds online. Line your yard with catnip to ward off mosquitoes. Another option is to place catnip oil directly on your skin. Note of caution to cat owners-cats might find you irresistible.
Citronella has been a known mosquito repellent for quite some time. You can find citronella scented candles, bracelets, buckets and sprays. The scent from the citronella plant itself is your best bet in keeping the mosquitoes away since that provides the strongest protection. Citronella’s strong smell tends to mask your scent, making it harder for mosquitoes to find you.
According to eartheasyCitronella is a perennial ‘clumping’ grass which grows to a height of 5 – 6 feet. It can be grown directly in the ground in climate zones where frost does not occur. If grown in the garden or near the patio, it should be planted in the ‘background’, behind small decorative flowers and shrubs. In northern climate zones citronella can be grown in a large pot or planter, ideally with casters, so it can be rolled indoors during winter.
Hilary from Accidentally Green teaches us a lot of home prevention methods in Make Your Own Insect Repellent:
  1. Cut the leaves and stems of catmint and rosemary, then place in a container and cover with a cup of boiling water. Steep for an hour, cool and use the herbal tea as a repellent spray.
  2. Crush parsley and mix with apple cider vinegar. Rub the mixture on your skin.
  3. Place a handful of fresh basil leaves into a glass measuring cup. Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the basil. Let the leaves steep for two to four hours. Squeeze the basil leaves to get out as much of the liquid as possible. Pour the infused liquid into a spray bottle. Add 1/2 cup of vodka to the squirt bottle. Shake gently to mix the contents and apply this all-natural insect repellent by spraying it on your skin. (While this mixture is safe, especially compared to DEET brands, be sure to keep out of the reach of children.)
The great news? Not only does this keep mosquitoes away, but ticks are repelled by basil, too.
Kristina of The Greening of Westford shows us a simple way to get rid of fruit flies in Fruit Flies Be Gone:
How do I deal with the fruit flies? Fruit flies are pretty easy to deal with without using any sort of pesticides. All you need – a small glass, apple cider vinegar and some plastic wrap. Don’t use your good, expensive apple cider vinegar (ACV) with The Mother; cheap store brand works great.
  1. Fill the glass with about an inch or so of ACV
  2. Place some plastic wrap over the top and poke some holes.
  3. Sit it by your fruit bowl.The fruit flies, attracted to the ACV, crawl in through the holes then can’t get out.
  4. You’ll need to change the vinegar every few days. It loses its effectiveness.
I used to use a piece of paper wrapped into a cone shape stuck in a jar for years. It worked, but it’s a pain when you have to change the vinegar. I find this method much easier.
April of Frugally Green Mom shares Green Ways to Keep Pests At Bay:
Living in Florida, we have more than our fair share of bugs to deal with! I’m not fond of bugs, but I also want to limit my family’s exposure to DEET. Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there to help keep bugs at bay!
  1. Remove standing water from your yard.
  2. When grilling, throw sage or rosemary on the coals to keep the mosquitos away.
  3. Add 2 tsp of vanilla extract to a water-filled spray bottle.
  4. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts of water and witch hazel, then add 10 drops of essential oil. You can add more or less essential oil at your discretion. Best bets are citronella, lemon grass, lavendar or eucalyptus—mosquitos hate these scents!
Got ants problems? Take a look at the all natural ants deterrent from Trina at O’Boy Organic:
  • Get a small spray bottle and fill it with soapy water. When you see the ants just give them a good spray.
  • Don’t throw those cucumber peels in the compost just yet, set them out where you are having issues with the ants, placing either the peels or slices on a small towel or directly on the counter. Ants have a natural aversion to cucumbers so once they come near, hopefully they will turn around and go home.
  • Got fresh Mint or Mint tea bags? Leave them around where you see those ants, it also works as a natural deterrent
  • Now if you can find where these little suckers are coming from then mix cayenne pepper, citrus oil, lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds in a small container. Soak some cooking string in the mixture then lay in the path of where they are coming from.
  • Mix one liter of water to 1 teaspoon of borax and a cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the mixture and then place them in a small container such as a used yogurt container with lid. Make small holes in the lid so the ants can get through, they will take bait back to the others where it will eventually kill the colony. IMPORTANT: Use indoors only and keep away from pets and children.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tony Budden of 'Hemporium SA' - The Global Benefits of HEMP

High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty World | Union of Concerned Scientists

High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty World | Union of Concerned Scientists

High and Dry is the third in a series of reports highlighting genetic engineering’s limitations and demonstrating the importance of increasing public investment in more effective—but often neglected—agricultural technologies. The first two reports in the series are Failure to Yield and No Sure Fix.
Droughts can be devastating to farmers and to the people who depend on the food those farmers produce. The historic Texas drought of 2011 caused a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses, making it the most costly drought on record.
While extreme droughts capture the most attention, mild and moderate droughts are more common and collectively cause extensive damage. Climate scientists expect the frequency and severity of such droughts to increase as the global climate heats up.
Furthermore, agriculture accounts for the lion's share of water extracted from rivers and wells, setting up conflicts between food production and other uses. Other important organisms, such as fish, also compete with humans for fresh water. So there is a vital need for crop improvements that will increase drought tolerance and water use efficiency (WUE).
Biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have held out the promise that genetic engineering can accomplish these goals, creating new crop varieties that can thrive under drought conditions and reduce water demand even under normal conditions. High and Dry offers an analysis of the prospects for delivering on that promise.
Extent and severity of drought conditions in the U.S. on August 30, 2011. The darker areas are regions of severe to exceptional drought where cspB corn would likely be of little use. (Click on map for larger version with legend.)

A Small Bang for Big Bucks

Though the mid-2000's saw a surge in field trials for crop varieties with engineered drought tolerance traits, as of 2012 only one such variety—Monsanto's DroughtGard, containing the engineered genecspB—had been approved by the USDA.
The results so far paint a less than spectacular picture of DroughtGard's effectiveness: USDA analysis of data supplied by Monsanto show that DroughtGard produces only modest results, and only under moderate drought conditions at that. The report estimates that cspB corn would increase the overall productivity of the U.S. corn crop by only about one percent. And DroughtGard does not improve water use efficiency.
The evidence suggests that alternatives to GE—classical breeding, improved farming practices, or crops naturally more drought-tolerant than corn, such as sorghum and millet—can produce better results, often at lower cost. If we neglect these alternatives because of exaggerated expectations about the benefits of GE, we risk leaving farmers and the public high and dry when it comes to ensuring that we will have enough food and clean freshwater to meet everyone's needs.

Why Drought Tolerance Is So Challenging

There are several reasons why a GE magic bullet for drought tolerance may prove elusive. Drought tolerance is a complex trait that can involve many different genes, corresponding to different ways the plant can respond to drought; genetic engineering can manipulate only a few genes at a time. And in the real world, droughts vary widely in severity and duration, affecting the crop at different stages of its growth, so any engineered gene will be more successful under some drought conditions than others.
Genes that improve drought tolerance may have other effects on crop growth, some of which may be undesirable—a phenomenon known as pleiotropy. This has been commonly observed with many otherwise promising drought tolerance genes, and is likely a reflection of the interconnectedness of drought response with many other aspects of plant growth.
Molecular biologists try to reduce the negative effects of pleiotropy by ensuring that the engineered genes only become active under drought conditions, but if droughts are prolonged, the harmful effects may be hard to avoid.

Market Uncertainties

If Monsanto's cspB corn can meet these challenges, it will still face market hurdles. For starters, DroughtGard will have to compete in the marketplace with drought-tolerant varieties produced through less expensive breeding methods.
Another challenge for cspB corn is that farmers buy their seeds well before they plant. Because drought is not reliably predictable, many farmers may not want to pay the higher price of engineered drought tolerance just in case drought occurs. This may largely restrict planting of cspB corn mainly to areas where moderate drought is frequent, such as the western regions of the U.S. Corn Belt.
Other factors important for marketing seed include the overall quality of the corn varieties that the cspB is placed in and how these compare to competitors varieties.


Given the status of R&D on GE drought tolerance and water use efficiency and challenging questions about its prospects, UCS recommends that:

Congress and the USDA should substantially increase support for public crop-breeding programs to improve drought tolerance.

Congress and the USDA should use conservation programs funded under the federal Farm Bill to expand the use of available methods for improving drought tolerance and WUE.

The USDA and public universities should increase research devoted to finding better ways to store and conserve soil water, groundwater, and surface water, and better farming methods to withstand drought.

In particular, organic and similar methods that improve soil fertility simultaneously improve the capacity of soil to store water for crop use during drought, while mulches can reduce soil temperature and reduce evaporation. These methods should be encouraged through incentives.  

Public and private research institutions should devote more funding and effort to improve crops that are important in drought-prone regions in the Southern Hemisphere.

Researchers at the USDA and public universities should carefully monitor the efficacy and possible undesirable effects of cspB corn. Such monitoring is important because this variety is the first GE commercial drought-tolerant crop, and the resulting information would enhance our understanding of GE drought tolerance.

The USDA and public universities should expand their research on using plant breeding to improve water use efficiency—a vital concern that has not attracted major efforts from the biotechnology industry.