Japanese government to set new “sea sanctuary” category

The Japanese Environment Ministry has opened a 10 person panel of experts to discuss the definition and the process of designation of coastal and other water areas as “sea santuaries”. This comes after a 1992 study found that over ten percent of tidal land in Japan have been lost since 1976 and about three percent of marine forest has also been lost in the same period.

The article only gives these dates. But I would not be surpised if these are the latest figures. It usually takes about 10 years for the Japan government to act on any approved proposal. That means any action from this panel will probably only take effect in 2017 at the earliest. You can call me cynical but must also call me a realist.

Click here to read the full article from Daily Yomiuri.

Is cloned food safe?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to endorse that cloned food is safe. If given the go ahead FDA will allow the sale of cloned cattle, pig and goat, but not sheep, pending comments over the next three months and final approval.

But is cloned food really safe?

Sure, the direct result is just a cow, a pig, or a goat. But, surely, there must be a reason why nature “chooses” to make every single organism across species as well as within species different.

This reminds me of the Borg Collective in Star Trek: The Next Generation. If one central area is attacked successfully the whole system collapses. That is not so far fetched. We have examples in our modern world. Disease is one.

Take Aids, for example. It is a virus which knows how to bypass the body’s defences. But not everyone is susceptible to the disease. You may be a Aids carrier but may not be HIV positive. In other words, variation helped contain Aids in this instance.

Variation in life has this important function. It simply means we react or relate differently to the same conditions. On the biological level this has saved us from completely being wiped out.

Rat plagues work in the same way. I once watched an old Eastern European television documentary on a rat exterminator. He gave a step-by-step psychological guide to the rat socio-structure. There is always one rat which is smarter, or less trustful of the exterminator’s method. Literally. this man would feed the rats right out of his hand. He gained the trust of the rats infesting a farm. Once they trust has been created he begins to feed them rat poison out of his hand. But the rats ate the poison becuase of the established trust. Even as the other rats around them were dying the rats continued to accept the “food”. The remaining handful of rats which were cautious to his “gifts” were then killed with a rifle. In this way he was able to exterminate an entire rat population that had taken over a farm property. If some were left behind this would be disastrous because you then have supersmart, superwise rats the next time around.

But coming back to cloned food, why are we in such a hurry to sell it? Are we in some kind of meat shortage that I do not know about? It seems it is all about money, and nothing else.

Why are we always trying to play God? Make yourself heard that you don’t want cloned food before it is too late, especially if you are an American citizen.

Don’t forget to have your say over the next three months with the FDA.

The ocean, microbes and biodiversity

Human beings have such a habit of underestimating things. A recent survey of the ocean suggests that the Earth’s bioversity may be ten times more than previously thought.

In a single litre of sea water scientists can have as many as 20,000 species of microbes – they were only expecting to find two thousand. This number means that there could be more than ten million species of microbes alone.

Dr Sogin, one of the members of the research team in the new findings, said, “It really points to our lack of knowledge and how much more there is to learn.”

But should not the greatness of this number in itself teach us that it is impossible to master the knowledge? Should it not tell us that there will always be more to learn? And should it not make us aware of the fact that we are really insignifcant in the scheme of things?

We are but one species among tens of milllions if not hundreds or even thousands. It is estimated that the average species has a lifespan of 100,000 years. Some of these have changed little from since the beginning. Others have come and gone without us even knowing. And Man’s vanity has kept his species going for perhaps much too long.

Today we know approximately the age of our planet (3.5 billion years old) and how much longer it will exist if no “hiccups” occur (another 3.5 billion years). The Earth is middle aged. The present human species, with our ability to understand and record history in our own unique way, has only been here for 10,000 years. Some may stretch that back to thirty thousand years more. Either way the rest of the history of the planet makes this time – our time – insignificant.

I doubt we, as intelligent comprehending animals, will last much more than another 50,000 years. And that is being generous I think. But as for life itself it will go on as if nothing happened until the very end because we are just another species among millions, millions that have been far more successful at surviving than we have been so far.

We think six billion human beings is a great number when on our very bodies we may find more than that of any one species of microbes.