Mothers for Nuclear is a new environmental organization started by two mothers, Heather Matteson and Kristin Zaitz, to organize pro-nuclear mothers to speak out and begin an international dialogue about nuclear power and environmental protection. Like them, I used to be skeptical of nuclear power – I am Finnish, and I grew up very aware of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. After learning more, however, my perspective has changed. My story about how I came to support nuclear power was published originally as one among their many eye-opening Nuclear Narratives over at the Mothers for Nuclear blog.
I grew up in Finland, where I was never far from a forest. Nature and animals were my first love, and books the second. It was not an uncommon thing for me to go out in the forest with our dogs and climb up a tree to find a good place to read.
Fresh new parents are a on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. Exhausted, happy, uncertain, afraid, panicking. Every decision seems like life and death. I vote for giving them the best evidence-based support we can, while holding the judgement.
After the introduction of modern formula in the mid-20th century, for a time in the developed world, breastfeeding was almost shunned upon. Today the balance is well shifted and breastfeeding is recommended to all mothers who are able to do so. But just how pronounced are the benefits of breastfeeding compared to formula?
I was recently prompted into taking a closer look at the science of breast vs formula feeding once more by a good friend who works as a consultant to mothers with breastfeeding issues, manages breastfeeding forums, gives talks on the topic and also blogs over at Milk and Motherhood. She is the most compassionate and supportive person I know, and she is uncomfortable with the political pressure to strongly promote breastfeeding, while all she would like to do is to allow women to fulfil their personal dreams of motherhood, whatever they might be. I find this to be a great sentiment, especially in the light of the available evidence: it is in the best interest of mothers and their babies that we are allowed to use both methods of infant feeding. Depending on the situation, breast and bottle-feeding both have their own set of benefits. Babies as well as mothers are worse off if the access to either of the options is culturally sabotaged. Continue reading
In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, last but not least comes a post about the integrity of research, how funding may influence research results, and what corporate involvement with scientists may entail. And if scientists mostly are not influenced by industry, why are there so many conflicting study results? Continue reading
In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, question 14. deals with glyphosate resistant-weeds: whether they pose a problem, and why campaigners against glyphosate should be the last ones to worry about this particular issue. Question 15. looks at the soil ecosystems: what do we know about the effects of glyphosate on soil micro-organisms? Does it affect nutrient balance and mineral uptake? Plus comments on what one troubled study found out about earthworms. Question 16. delves into whether there is a relationship between glyphosate and the situation of Monarch butterflies or bees. Continue reading
In my series 17 Questions about Glyphosate, question 13. looks at glyphosate and its impacts on farming methods and the environment.
Even if glyphosate poses no risk for the consumers, perhaps its problems lie in the effects on the environment? Let’s look at some of the details.
13. Does glyphosate use enable bad farming practices?
Glyphosate helps preserve soils with no-till
Glyphosate is often used in combination with genetically engineered crops, particularly ones which are able to synthesise their aromatic amino-acids even in the presence of glyphosate. They are called RoundUp Ready (RR) crops, and are a big part of the existing Herbicide Tolerant Crops (HTCs). Many people believe this combination of RoundUp and GMO crops to be detrimental to the environment, but there tends to be little evidence to back up their assumption.
The USDA has actually documented the benefits to the environment from the combined use of herbicides and HTCs such as RR crops. The key benefit comes from how glyphosate enables farmers to omit the tilling step – move to no-till. Tilling leads to erosion and nutrient run-off, among other things, and avoiding it has many benefits. Continue reading
Series 17 Questions about Glyphosate questions 7.-11. I go through the evidence for whether glyphosate can be detected, and if so then in which quantities, in each of the following: air and rainwater, urine, breastmilk, wine, and wheat. I have also added extra sections on glyphosate in honey, vaccines, and tampons.
Question 12. delves into the common verbal images of farmers ‘drenching’ their fields in pesticides, and how much farmers actually use.
7. Is there glyphosate in the air and rainwater?
Despite the case for there being less need to worry about glyphosate than most other pesticides, there are still many arguments around which rely rather on making scary claims about the abundance of glyphosate in our environment. They make the silent implication that this level of detection must be significant and should make us worried about health effects. But often the claims of glyphosate in something or other are misleading, and sometimes downright false. Continue reading