Friday, 28 September 2012

Another Friday cat blog

The upstairs cat likes to go outside; but not always. If I put him outside and he prefers to be inside he will go to humbug the bees that live a couple of feet from my door. Then I have to use the spray bottle to get him to move away and stop batting at them. They must be bumble bees because they are not solitary like mason bees. When I first moved here my landlord say me sitting in a cloud of them so he asked a university colleague to take a look at their nest. Even though nothing was done, they reduced their use of the nest for the next couple of summers. Now they are back to almost full strength.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

ethnoveterinary plants and indigenous knowledge used for backyard pigs and gamecocks in Trinidad and Tobago

Non-experimental validation of ethnoveterinary plants and indigenous knowledge used for backyard pigs and gamecocks in Trinidad and Tobago Cheryl Lans Abstract This paper documents ethnoveterinary medicines used for backyard pigs and gamecocks in Trinidad and Tobago. Fieldwork was conducted from 1996 to September 2000. Six plants are used for backyard pigs. Crushed leaves of immortelle (Erythrina pallida, E. micropteryx) are used to remove dead piglets from the uterus. Leaf decoctions of bois canôt (Cecropia peltata) and bamboo (Bambusa vulgaris) are used for labour pains or leaves are fed as a post partum cleanser. Boiled green papaya fruit (Carica papaya) is fed to pigs to induce milk let down. The leaves and flowers of male papaya plants (Carica papaya) are fed to deworm pigs. Sour orange juice (Citrus aurantium) is given to pigs to produce lean meat and coffee grounds are used for scours. Eyebright and planten leaves (Plantago major) are used for eye injuries of gamecocks. Worm grass (Chenopodium ambrosioides) and cotton bush (Gossypium species) are used as anthelmintics. Aloe gel (Aloe vera) is used for internal injuries and the yellow sap from the cut Aloe vera leaf or the juice of Citrus limonia is used to purge the birds. The ethnomedicinal literature provides support for the ethnoveterinary uses of the plants and they could be assigned level two validity. Keywords: ethnoveterinary medicine, Caribbean, gamecocks, pigs Introduction The early Spanish and/or French colonists probably introduced cock fighting to Trinidad (Moodie-Kublalsingh, 1994). It is presently an illegal sport and has been an illegal activity for at least the last century. It should be noted that keeping gamecocks is not an illegal activity in Trinidad. Cock fighting previously took place at community gayelles in rural areas distant from official scrutiny. Nowadays cockfighting takes place at one urban gayelle. Trainers supervise gamecock training and the birds are kept in stables. The term's 'trainer' and 'stable' are borrowed from horse racing and many participants (especially in earlier times) participate in both sports. Although illegal, the ‘sport’ still attracts a few hundred participants. The cockfighting season lasts from December to July (primarily the dry season) and the birds start moulting in August. Birds are imported from Spain, Cuba and Venezuela. Local birds are also exported to St. Lucia and were previously exported to Venezuela. Moodie-Kublalsingh (1994) recorded some of the folk medicine associated with cock fighting. There are references to a big wasp called 'cojón de toro', and a plant called 'matapuelco' that were used to make cocks fearless (Moodie-Kublalsingh, 1994). Except for a description of a small corm at the base of the plant that had a milky juice, the plant was not botanically identified. The pulverised fresh plant or the juice of Eupatorium ayapana was applied to the wounds of fighting cocks in Puerto Rico in the 1800s (Ewen, 1896). This paper presents a preliminary study on medicinal plants used for backyard pigs and gamecocks and a non-experimental validation of these plants. This study was part of a larger research project on ethnoveterinary medicines used in Trinidad and Tobago. The number of users, type of users of the plants or consistency of use can be a guide to their merit. However in this paper a non-experimental validation of the plants, based on a methodology developed by Browner et al. (1988) and Heinrich et al. (1992) is used as a guide to the likely efficacy of the plants. Animal welfare The ancient nature of the ‘sport’ does not justify the cruelty involved but it needs to be recognised that cockfighting continues despite existing laws and sanctions. In fact according to the website of the Humane Society in the US, animal fighting is increasing. Similarly to boxers who are not denied medical treatment, the birds involved in cockfighting require health care. It is not inconsistent with professional ethics to deplore the animal cruelty involved in cockfighting but still provide health care or information on health care while the cruel practice continues. The intent of this paper is not to support or promote cock fighting, but to document the indigenous knowledge of cock caretakers. Some of the medicinal plants and their uses may prove relevant not only for the cocks needing health care but to treat injuries in other types of backyard poultry.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Brief intro to EVM in Europe

A couple of ethnoveterinary studies were done in the 1990s: a study in Spain by Agelet and Vallès (1999) mentioned 76 EVM remedies. There was also a published report from Austria (Ludwig 1996). Allen and Hatfield (2004) compiled a survey of medicinal plants from British and Irish folk traditions. They presented 105 genera of vascular plants that were used to treat animals. In the Netherlands, herbal use for both animals and humans is similar to that in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (Van Asseldonk and Beijer, 2006). IEZ recorded 168 folk remedies for animals, including 63 plant genera (68 plant species) (Van Asseldonk and Beijer, 2006). The animals involved most frequently were horses. There were only a few remedies for pigs, and contact with the association of organic pig farmers confirmed that their members hardly used herbs. Of the 68 plant species (involving 36 families), 92% were indigenous to or naturalized in the Netherlands. Apart from nettles, there was hardly any harvesting from the wild. Wageningen University questioned organic farmers in the Netherlands on their actual medicine use, and this revealed some use of alternative remedies (Kijlstra et al., 2004; Van der Meulen et al., 2004a and 2004b; Van der Werf et al., 2004a and 2004b). A lack of knowledge regarding quality, safety, and efficacy of these remedies existed both among farmers and among the researchers. A field study of 30 organic dairy farms was done by the Dutch Institute for Food Safety RIKILT (Groot, 2003). Many of these farms used homeopathic remedies (27% of treatments), a majority used allopathic medicines ( 61% ) and phytomedicines consisted of 10% of the treatments mentioned. However, it is worth noting that in the Netherlands, as in most of Western Europe, many herbal tinctures are registered as homeopathic and were indicated as such by the farmers. Many of them should be categorized as herbal medicines due to the concentrations used. The bulk of the published studies on EVM are from Italy. An Italian study published by Uncini Manganelli et al. (2001) reported on EVM in Tuscany. Pieroni et al. (2004) conducted a survey in the south of Italy. The Rubia project, a large study coordinated in Wageningen University by Pieroni, described the actual Mediterranean use of herbs, including ethnoveterinary uses. In the survey, 135 veterinary preparations and 110 plant taxa were recorded; with Asteraceae and Lamiaceae the most mentioned botanical families (Pieroni et al., 2006). Agelet, A., and Vallès, J. 1999. Vascular plants used in ethnoveterinary in Pallars (Pyrenees, Catalonia, Iberian Peninsula, in Herbs, humans and animals/Erbe, uomini e bestie, Pieroni, A., Ed., Germany, pgs 14–35. Allen, D.E., and Hatfield, G. 2004. Medicinal plants in folk tradition, an ethnobotany of Britain and Ireland, Timber Press, Cambridge, UK. Groot, M.J.2003. Deskstudie alternatieve gezondheidszorg voor melkvee, RIKILT, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Kijlstra, A.; Werf, J.T.N. van der; Buitendijk, J. 2004. Inventarisatie diergeneesmiddelengebruik in de biologische geitenhouderij. Lelystad : Animal Sciences Group, (Rapport / Animal Sciences Group April 2004). Ludwig, M. 1996. Phytotherapie beim Rind einst und jetzt—alte Indikationen neu bewertet. Inaugural-dissertation, Veterinary University Vienna, Austria. Mul, M.F.; Reuvekamp, B.F.J. 2008. Inventarisatie van mogelijke fytotherapeutica met een werking tegen wormen bij pluimvee. Wageningen: Animal Sciences Group, Pieroni A., Giusti, M.E., de Pasquale, C., et al. 2006. Circum-Mediterranean cultural heritage and medicinal plant uses in traditional animal healthcare: a field survey in eight selected areas within the RUBIA project. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2, 2006, 16. Pieroni, A.1999. Ed., Herbs, humans and animals/Erbe, uomini e bestie, Experiences, Cologne, Germany. Pieroni, A., Howard, P., Volpato, G., and Santoro, R.F. 2004. Natural remedies and nutraceuticals used in ethnoveterinary practices in inland southern Italy. Veterinary Research Communications, 28: 55–80. Uncini Manganelli, R.E., Camangi, F., Tomei, P.E. 2001. Curing animals with plants: traditional usage in Tuscany (Italy). J Ethnopharmacol 78:171–191. Van Krimpen, M.M., Binnendijk, G.P., Borgsteede, F.H., Gaasenbeek, C.P., 2010. Anthelmintic effects of phytogenic feed additives in Ascaris suum inoculated pigs. Vet. Parasitol. 168 (3–4): 269–277. Van der Meulen, J., Kijlstra, A., Van den Berg, M., and Spruit, J.2004a. Inventarisatie diergeneesmiddelengebruik in de biologische pluimveehouderij, CIDC Lelystad, WUR, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Van der Meulen, J., Kijlstra, A., Reijmer, E. and Sielias, W.2004b. Inventarisatie diergeneesmiddelen gebruik in de biologische varkenshouderij, CIDC Lelystad, WUR, Wageningen, the Netherlands. Van der Werf, J.T.N.; Kijlstra, A.; Buitendijk, J.; Klink, M.C.M.; Munniksma, K.; Schaaf, R. van der. 2004. Inventarisatie diergeneesmiddelen in de biologische melkveehouderij. Lelystad : Animal Sciences Group, (Rapport / Animal Sciences Group September 2004).

Monday, 24 September 2012

On how the media influence Canadian democracy - conclusion

Internet searching for newspaper articles in the search engine belonging to CanWest produces more hits - 500 articles from across Canada about bird flu. One of these from the Ottawa Citizen has the most interesting headline: “Pandemic paranoia: Rumsfeld's connection to Tamiflu has conspiracy theorists spinning” “One day Americans were panic-buying Tamiflu, making the influenza remedy the most sought-after drug in the world; the next day, rumours were rampant that the U.S. response to bird-flu was more about profit than public health.” This conglomerate-owned newspaper article acknowledged what was reported in the March 12 London Independent story by Geoffrey Lean and Jonathan Owen entitled “Donald Rumsfeld makes $5m killing on bird flu drug.” The story opens thusly: ”The US Defence Secretary has made more than $5m (£2.9m) in capital gains from selling shares in the biotechnology firm that discovered and developed Tamiflu, the drug being bought in massive amounts by Governments to treat a possible human pandemic of the disease.” Even CNN Money (October 31, 2005), no leftist newspaper, reported on the links between Rumsfeld and Tamiflu. Including in their story that: “former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on Gilead's board, has sold more than $7 million worth of Gilead since the beginning of 2005”……………………………. “What's more, the federal government is emerging as one of the world's biggest customers for Tamiflu. In July, the Pentagon ordered $58 million worth of the treatment for U.S. troops around the world, and Congress is considering a multi-billion dollar purchase.” According to the Toronto Star avian flu is a problem linked to wild birds and “backyard flocks kept by families” that are the “Province’s Achilles heel” (March 1). Several newspapers neglect to make the distinction, made with all credit to the Toronto Star (March 12), that bird flu has killed or forced the slaughter of millions of chickens and ducks. Several writers only write “killed” or “decimating” (March 11) giving a completely false impression. The Star covered large Ontario poultry farms and their biosecurity protocols (March 20). One other Canadian-focussed story (March 2) was about the quarantined ducks in Quebec which tested negative for the H5N1 virus. Not a word was quoted from those owning the ducks. Nor was there any coverage of the Quebec farmers who now have to keep their flocks indoors and thus risk losing their organic certification and their livelihoods. Quebec shares a provincial border with Ontario and its citizens should be considered newsworthy by The Star. The Star found the following more interesting: Austrian cats with bird flu (March 6), data hoarding by labs (March 12), Roche drug capacity (March 16). This leads me to concur with columnist Molly Ivins who wrote on AlterNet on March 23, “for some reason, publishers assume people will want to buy more newspapers if they have less news in them and are less useful to people.” Meanwhile alternative viewpoints like those of wildlife biologist David Hancock are carried in independent outlets like Vancouver’s Bannerline Communications. Hancock spoke to Dr. George Luterbach, the Director of Veterinary Services CFIA Western Division, who confirmed that wild birds were the vectors of the H7N3 found in BC in 2004 but that wild birds did not carry the lethal form of the virus. Luterbach said the issue boiled down to getting the commercial industry exporting chicken products as soon as possible and that the CFIA had to eliminate the perception that they had not done everything possible. Hancock however linked the spread of avian flu in BC to the dumping of poultry litter including carcasses in fields by commercial farmers, which would be picked up by wild birds when feeding. The venerable BBC reports a similar theory on the spread of avian flu in a report by Dr Leon Bennun (February 17): “countries like Japan and South Korea, which imposed strict controls on the import and movement of domestic poultry after initial outbreaks, have suffered no further infections…………countries which have not yet developed a large-scale intensive poultry industry have also been largely spared. The FAO reports that in Laos, 42 out of 45 outbreaks affected intensive poultry units.” Doesn’t The Star read its own headlines? On March 20 The Star quoted a Belwood poultry farmer who said “bird flu’s always been around.” Given the recent multi-part headline in the Toronto Star (March 23, 2006), “Scientists find bird flu clue - Why virus limited in spread to people - Not easily coughed or sneezed out”; is it not in the public interest to investigate if the Canadian health service is investing taxpayer dollars in a pandemic that may not materialise but has only become important due to extensive media coverage that [who knows] may have been shaped by the extensive political connections of the biotech company with a patent on Tamiflu? Even conspiracy theories need investigation [and could sell newspapers]. An investigative report on avian flu was done by GRAIN, an international non-governmental organisation that promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity. In a post about the GRAIN report to the organic listserve I mentioned earlier, an organic farmer mused on the non-appearance of this report or even the sustainable agriculture viewpoint in the major newspapers. A musing that brings me full circle - the consolidation of the media has had a negative influence on Canadian democracy. Given the definition of democracy as the ability of all, even the little organic guy, or wildlife biologist, to have his/her viewpoint represented in the most read newspaper in Canada. I echo Camp’s call for more “meliorists” which doesn’t mean advocacy journalism, but “optimists who believe something can be done about improving things.” An activist who embodies my interpretation of that oft-quoted Edward Bulwer-Lytton expression, “the pen is mightier than the sword [of neoliberalism].”


I am going to rant about CNET today and will post the last of the media essay tomorrow. I have a few good computer programs that I have downloaded from CNET, that I use constantly. I usually check to see how often they have been downloaded and what kind of rating they get from the editors. Yet I spent hours this weekend getting rid of a funmoods toolbar that came with a program to update drivers. I removed it from the programs and yet there it still was. I googled it and found everyone ranting about it and about the quality of CNET downloads. Based on the advice of the ranters I looked in the Firefox add-ons and cleared off most of the toolbars. It was still there. Finally I had to download another CNET hosted program malwarebytes which removed it from the registry and I downloaded new copies of firefox and internet explorer. The final task I needed to do was to reset firefox. CNET seems to have turned into "CENET" or "caveat emptor NET". Programs that are rated highly by editors turn out to be duds. If you don't pay close attention when you are agreeing to download a program you end up with another unnecessary toolbar. In one case I had to uncheck the box in the agreement to find the clean download agreement. Many outraged people said that they had not downloaded funmoods but I think I briefly saw an agreement box for it when I was hurrying through a download. I've been looking for a way to update drivers for years, now I wonder if it is not all a scam. I downloaded a driver update program which allowed a certain amount of drivers to be updated and then 2 daily. When I downloaded the quota the program told me it thought that they were all the same. When I tried to update the drivers manually that the program said were in critical danger, my computer could not find any software more current than what I had. Many of the CNET programs are not "free" at all. They do a scan and tell you everything is critical, but when you try to fix what is critical you have to register and pay. Caveat Emptor NET.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Another friday cat blog

Last week I saw Mr. Longhaired Cat tagging along behind one of his humans and the two dogs that were being walked. It is not the first time that I have seen him tagging along. It reminds me of a story I read about a woman who went for a walk with her dogs. I don't remember exactly but I think there were four dogs on leashes and three cats decided to follow along. Numerous people came up to the woman to tell her that all of her dogs needed to be on a leash. They could not believe their eyes that they were actually seeing cats. I guess the same thing happened with the long snake that I wrote about last week. It stretch over part of a lawn, the right hand drain, a two car driveway, the left hand drain and a piece of the lawn on the other side. I assumed that a shallow earthquake had opened a crack in the ground that stretched across that whole distance. It was only when my siblings called out "snake" that I saw it for what it was. I stepped over it a third time to get into the house but my siblings may have detoured around it. I used my brain more effectively with Mr. Longhaired Cat. He used to hide all over the yard early in the morning and spring out when I took the upstairs cat out for his pre-dawn walk. One early morning I saw an object behind the garbage cans. It was too dark to see it properly so I worked it out mentally- not a pile of leaves, not a paint can, it is three-dimensional. As soon as I thought "three-dimensional" I thought "it's the cat". I stamped my feet and Mr. Longhaired Cat leapt out into the lighted lane where I could see him. He never pulled that trick again.

Part 2. On how the media influences Canadian democracy

A story about the Georgia Straight ran in the back pages of the provincial media on the same day that media baron Izzy Asper was being eulogized across the media landscape. The story was that the BC Liberal government had decided that this and only this alternative weekly was not a “newspaper” because it exceeded the 75% limit in space devoted to ads. They were going to remove its tax-exempt status and impose a $1 million back-tax penalty and were only stopped by a public outcry. The BC Liberal government, in the opinion of many whose views are seldom reflected in newspapers (social activists, feminists, the unwaged) are only masquerading under that name and are really neo-cons. I doubt that they attended or would have agreed with the March 2000 lecture given by Camp as Stanley Knowles Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies called “Neo-Conservatism: How to Wreck a Country with a Hammer, Part II.” Judy Rebick quipped on Rabble News (March 2002) that Camp received his transplanted heart from a socialist donor, which is why he wrote his political commentaries as a Red Tory while his contemporaries moved to the Thatcher/Reagan/Bush-led right. The Toronto Star does not provide equal coverage to small farmers or organic farmers. The last major organic story covered was in 2002 when canola farmers in Saskatchewan had the “cojones” to sue Monsanto over genetic contamination. The unbalanced coverage is very evident in the current hot topic of avian flu. Some farmers have resorted to websites and blogs to tell their stories but those outlets do not have the same impact as a national newspaper (unless of course you are Arianna Huffington compiling a fake blog by George Clooney). The Globe and Mail newspaper (which like The Star, I read on-line every day) allows 90 day searches and below are some recent headlines on avian flu revealed by the search: 1. Five countries report presence of avian flu virus 2. Don't wait till it's too late: CME. Plan now for a bird flu pandemic, report urges, it could devastate your work force 3. Avian flu killed five youths in Azerbaijan, WHO says 4. Have experts made too big of a squawk about bird flu? 5. Bird flu picks bad place to spread Only the last two articles, after a year or more of pandemic headlines, start raising questions on the level of the threat posed by the virus.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Essay for money, but brought trouble?

In this essay I illustrate how the consolidation of the media has had a negative influence on Canadian democracy. I define democracy as the ability of all, even the little guy, to have her viewpoint represented in the national media and to have the government look after her interests, and not only the interests of the multinational companies. I am not calling for “advocacy journalism” (a right wingers epithet for a progressive viewpoint); nor do I want to call for “fair and balanced” reporting now that Fox News has hijacked that famous phrase. Perhaps “equal opportunity, equal access” is the best motto for a newspaper that aims to promote democracy. ................................................................ It was not long into the muggy Brampton summer before I realized that the National Post was no leftist newspaper and I stopped reading it. I even refused free copies on the UVic campus or with my coffee from the gas station (I left Ontario after 6 months, buying a one-way ticket to the other side of Canada to get away from Mike Harris and his devil-take-the-hindmost-revolution). Columnist Stephen Gowans wrote that Dalton Camp called the National Post "a 250,000-word editorial wrapped around a newspaper." However articles on organic agriculture posted to the organic listserve I subscribe to have come more often from the Post than from the Toronto Star, even if most of the Post’s articles refer to the economic potential of organic farming due to the higher prices paid to the farmers. The business slant of the stories reflects the observation made by Dalton Camp in a lecture at the University of Waterloo on March 23, 2000: “today, half the front page of your daily paper is about money.” His comment applies not only to Lord Almost’s paper but could also refer to the Toronto Star of March 20; “Bird flu could shave $60B off GDP, manufacturers say” was the headline of one Canadian story that never mentioned the word farmer. The Post belongs to the late Izzy Asper’s megalithic CanWest Global Communications along with newspapers such as the Victoria Times-Colonist which often carries the same articles as the Vancouver Sun [one downside of media consolidation]. The media giant also owns several smaller publications but not Vancouver’s independent Georgia Straight (circulation 120,000). The Straight printed an investigative report (December 2004) on a former public servant who lost her job for requiring farmers, including relatives of the then BC Minister of Agriculture, to adhere to the environmental regulations of the province. By the way that happened to be her job. I reprinted most of the story in the Sierra Club of Canada Victoria newsletter because I did not see the story in any of the CanWest newspapers. This does not mean that I consider myself one of the “few good women” that Dalton Camp claimed were “protecting the public virtue and its interests” in his May 2001 commentary (Southam Press); although the public servant Bev Anderson definitely was. I decided to use my temporary economic independence as a post-doc to counter the news suppression effects of media consolidation.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

When I had my PhD ceremony it was just supposed to be a ritual because I had already passed. My para nymph, a Dutch farmer leader was embarrassed by his informal clothes and refused to sit on the stage until my other para nymph - luckily a Dutch colleague from my MSc persuaded him. Her clothes also clashed with mine and I found the whole thing strangely relaxing. Then my Utrecht supervisor who did an amazing amount of work making sure that my ethnochemistry was correct asked a question about the ethics of using a snakebite plant if it was known to cause cancer. I was amazed; "you've just been bitten by a snake" you have to survive first and you can worry about the cancer after was the rest of my reply. I heard the rest of the goings on afterwards from my supervisor. One of the committee members tried to persuade the others to fail me even though I had already passed. He was the only one I had not invited on and was appointed by WUR. He did not like my thesis, because he was a hard-core scientist who had already had run ins with my previous department of Ecological Agriculture. Luckily my committee included the former head of that same department, a Utrecht Veterinarian head and another ethnovet. I also found out afterwards that my supervisor had tried to influence me against inviting a Dutch farmer (who I had met while doing a class project for my Masters) because he was the first Dutch farmer to sit on stage in the Aula for 40 years. My PhD thesis is still found in many libraries, but not as many as I had hoped when I sent out about 300 copies.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Adopting REACH for Canadian health and economic benefits

Title of my proposal: Adopting REACH for Canadian health and economic benefits On September 24, 2004 I spoke to a group of organic farmers, professionals and students about the EU’s new regulatory framework REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) as part of my hosting of the seminar “Organic Farmers and the Law” at the University of Victoria. I chose this topic to illustrate the health differences between organic and conventional food in terms of chemical exposure; proposing that organic food should not be dismissed as an optional “lifestyle choice for those able to afford it”. My proposal for this paper is to suggest that current Canadian standards should be adapted to those in REACH and then actively enforced. Imported goods should also have to meet those standards. REACH shifts the burden of proof of safety back to the producers and manufacturers of chemicals. My other proposals are for organic agriculture and green industries to be promoted by the Canadian government for their economic and health benefits. My approach to this topic in 2004, which I aim to replicate in my paper, was to focus on EU Commissioner for the Environment (1999-2004) Dr. Margot Wallström. I supplemented my focus on her with a summary of the Pesticides Literature Review conducted by the Ontario College of Family Physicians and published in April 2004 ( I ended my talk with a look at the US Data Quality Act written by industry lobbyist Jim Tozzi that was slipped into a 712-page Treasury & General Government Appropriations Act in 2000 during the Bush v. Gore political upheaval. It directs the Office of Management and Budget to ensure that all information disseminated by the federal government is reliable (quality, objectivity, utility, integrity of information). The law has repercussions such as the case for Atrazine. It was banned by the EU in 2005 because it disrupts hormones in wildlife (for example it produces frogs with male/female organs). It was not banned in US despite 10 years of scientific review because a sentence was added to the final scientific assessment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2003. This sentence reads: hormone disruption cannot be considered a “legitimate regulatory endpoint at this time” because the [Bush] government has not settled on an officially accepted test for measuring such disruption”. The Data Quality Act is important because some Canadian agencies rely on US data. For example Martin Mittelstaedt reported in the Globe and Mail (May 21, 2004, pg A17), that “a comprehensive survey of more than 1,300 Americans has found traced of weed- and bug-killers in the bodies of everyone tested. The study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that the body of the average American contained 13 of these chemicals”.… health authorities in Canada had done no comparable survey on the amount of pesticides in Canadians. A spokeswoman for Health Canada, Catherine Saunders, says the agency relies on the U.S. data to estimate what Canadians may have in their bodies.” In 2003 Dr. Wallström participated in a bio-monitoring survey run by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Co-operative Bank and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes ( She was one of 50 male and 105 female participants from the UK and Belgium aged 22 to 80. Her blood (40ml) was screened at the Department of Environmental Sciences of Lancaster (UK), for 77 man-made chemicals found in every day products such as TV sets, carpets, furniture and food. Her blood had 28 chemicals, including some that had been banned decades before. The person with the highest number of chemicals in their blood had 49. Dr. Wallström became involved in politics in Sweden in her twenties and as such may have had less exposure to chemicals than poorer women, non-Scandinavians and women working in factories, agriculture and health industries. It is telling that the blood of this elite politician contained Penta-BDE flame retardants, PCBs and Organo-chlorine pesticides. Some of these chemicals, not only affect the health of women but they can be passed to babies through the placenta and breastfeeding. Selected references David, Joseph A. 2003. “Industry Test-Fires New Secrecy Weapon.” Metcalf Institute Environment Writer. December/January 2002-2003. ( Dietitians of Canada Position Paper, 2007. Community Food Security – Position of Dietitians of Canada. Fan W, Yanase T, Morinaga H, Gondo S, Okabe T, Nomura M, Komatsu T, Morohashi K, Hayes TB, Takayanagi R, Nawata H. 2007. Atrazine-induced aromatase expression is SF-1 dependent: implications for endocrine disruption in wildlife and reproductive cancers in humans. Environ Health Perspect. 115(5):720-7. Genuis SJ. Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Jun 24. [Epub ahead of print] Poissant L, Beauvais C, Lafrance P, Deblois C. Pesticides in fluvial wetlands catchments under intensive agricultural activities. Sci Total Environ. 2008 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print]. Raphael D, Curry-Stevens A, Bryant T. Barriers to addressing the social determinants of health: Insights from the Canadian experience. Health Policy. 2008 May 7. [Epub ahead of print]. Weselak M, Arbuckle TE, Wigle DT, Walker MC, Krewski D. 2008. Pre- and post-conception pesticide exposure and the risk of birth defects in an Ontario farm population. Reprod Toxicol. 25(4):472-80.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Another Friday cat blog. The upstairs cat has shall we say a somewhat reprehensible relationship with the hummingbirds that visit the yard. There were a few mortalities a few summers ago, but the spray gun seems to have worked after several months. Or maybe I tied up the hanging plants earlier this season so there was no lurking place. It was hotter this summer also, with more construction noise in the neighbourhood. The birds always hover close to him even if I am there. I am not sure what they are saying. But this week we can imagine a conversation: Hummy -Hey silly furface I see that I can hover close by and upbraid you for the death of my compadres. Tabby- Lucky for you bird brain that you remain out of reach or you might join the deceased. Hummy- Out of reach, ha, you have tied your leash around the bush and you cannot move furface. Tabby- That human will come and untie me like always so watch out longbeak.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The assessments cannot be vacated by this Court on grounds that the legislation provides an unfair result in the appellant’s circumstances. A similar statement was made in Main Rehabilitation: In our view, it is not open to the Tax Court to set aside a tax reassessment on the ground that the taxpayer ought to have been given the same favourable treatment as others who are similarly situated . The Supreme Court confirmed in 2005 in Her Majesty the Queen v Canada Trustco Mortgage Company and Mathew v. Canada, [2005] 2 S.C.R. 643, 2005 / Eugene Kaulius, et. al v Her Majesty the Queen its longstanding position that the provisions of the Tax Act must be interpreted to achieve consistency, predictability and fairness so that taxpayers can manage their affairs intelligently. The Supreme Court also established in 2005 that the Canada Revenue Agency (and a court) has considerable scope for creativity in developing the purpose of the relevant provision(s) against which the facts will be considered and examined . SUPREME COURT RULES ON GENERAL ANTI-AVOIDANCE RULE. HTTP://WWW.INTERNATIONALLAWOFFICE.COM/NEWSLETTERS/DETAIL.ASPX?G=4348A527-0EAE-4BC3-A4B2-391CC1E4751E upholding a system in which the CRA has successfully dismissed legal claims against it based on the misfeasance of their officials . The Tax Court has often held that it cannot consider the behavior of the CRA, only the correctness of the assessment . Taxpayers have been told by the Federal Court or the provincial superior courts, that the court has no jurisdiction because the claim is a collateral attack on a reassessment [because the correctness of the assessment itself was not challenged] . In short, no court would give relief . Some mechanism to control CRA abuses that do arise must exist . If a taxpayer can complain to no court, then there is no mechanism by which CRA officials can be held to account. For example Leroux has been pursuing an open and shut case of CRA misfeasance. The improper behavior of the CRA officials took place in 1996, the matter continues unresolved. This is contrary to the rule of law which requires that public officials be held to account (in a timely manner) for improper behavior , . 16. There are other instances in which the Income Tax Act has been shown to be improperly framed. Chief Justice Gerald Rip could not hear Giovanni Tozzi’s case because he did not owe any tax. Tozzi appealed to the Tax Court of Canada after the CRA rejected his application for a disability certificate to create a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). As a taxpayer he could not object to a “nil assessment” , the Tax Court of Canada had no jurisdiction to hear the case . Main Rehabilitation Co. v. Canada, 2004 FCA 403 Leroux v. Canada Revenue Agency, 2010 BCSC In Sorbara v. Canada (Attorney General), 2009 ONCA 506, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction to hear an application relating to liability for GST under the EXCISE TAX ACT (Canada). Parliament has given exclusive jurisdiction over that kind of question to the Tax Court of Canada. The appellant’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was dismissed with costs (2009 CanLII 61389). A Taxpayer Can Finally Sue the CRA for Bad Behavior - Tax Newsletter - January 2011. Roncarelli v. Duplessis. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pledged to widen the ability of a taxpayer to file a notice of objection and an appeal to the Tax Court of Canada based on the Tozzi case (Toronto Star, Nov 23, 2010).

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

This abstract was for a conference in Canada in 2006. I was supposed to go back to the US either to university or to pack. Then I got caught up in the whole 9-11 saga and had to stay in Canada just because a woman recently returned from Pakistan was on my bus and I was probably the only other brown person on the bus. I haven't left Canada since. A new social movement? Building an alternative food economy in BC Cheryl Lans, postdoc BCICS, University of Victoria The theory of the alternative economy is based on the work of Ivan Illich. Its diverse goals are to produce according to the triple-bottom line; to use soft technologies; to have more female and family-friendly workplaces; and focus on alternative medicines and health care; and alternative education. Organic food consumption is one means of expressing an alternative lifestyle now that globalisation has eroded traditional (national) culture as a source of personal identity). My SSHRC postdoctoral research examined the role that organic farmers and their supporters play in the development of a British Columbia alternative food economy. Many of the leading actors involved are female. A variety of stakeholders are attempting to forge an ‘alternative’ food economy as opposed to the globalised food economy (e.g. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), food charters, the ‘Slow Food’ movement, ‘food box’ programs and various NGOs). Their ‘counterhegemonic’ aim is for a local and sustainable food system that improves access to fresh and healthy foods and gives producers a greater share of the consumer dollar. As institutions they built cultural rules and patterns of activity like Feast of Fields that helped build an alternative economy that included organic food. Both co-ops and organic/alternative farmers support the idea of buying good and services locally thus keeping resources within the community. This also builds community, stability and social capital. Both co-ops and organic farmers are working with the triple bottom line. They factor in the land and environment and social factors like employee welfare and social justice into their business practices. Also important is limiting food miles or the distance that food travels from farm to plate.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

I've been spending the past couple of weeks trying to fix my aging computer. I finally fixed the disk errors and got rid of one trojan, now I may have created another problem by trying to update the drivers.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Last week Quebec elected a woman to lead the province joining four other territory/provincial leaders. Women are also advancing in the legal profession in Quebec. I haven't seen or read The Globe and Mail Focus section. Apparently it is a discussion of Hanna Rosin’s book, The End of Men; but below is a response to it

Friday, 7 September 2012

Walrus carpenter and progressive oysters
I’ll do my own Friday cat blog today. The feline from upstairs has grown so accustomed to his leash that he will poop and eat with it on. If the bribe is salmon dinner the response is leash, what leash? He is a spoilt not so little guy in any case and does not mind company especially since his determined and thinner potential brawling partners are always lurking about. One of those long-haired felines actually recognizes me in the lane and will cross over to where I am as some kind of message even when I am alone. The upstairs cat likes to eat pansies (Viola tricolor subsp. hortensis). He also picks caterpillars out of the lawn which I think are winter moth caterpillars (Operophtera brumata). He apparently only eats the moving ones because today he ignored a non-moving one that might have been going into pupation.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The internet is full of many interesting anecdotes of herbal products and these should be investigated. Even though these products probably could not be patented customers would be willing to buy factory-packaged versions that are guaranteed safe. One such product is a nightly gum pack made from herbs rolled in gauze (turmeric, aloe, willow bark, vitamin E, and powdered alum), that are tucked into the corners of your mouth to treat gum disease. Another such product is natural twig brushes (or toothpicks) made of bay, eucalyptus, oak, fir, juniper, neem, or roots of marshmallow, licorice, alfalfa, or horseradish.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

MONEY AND THE EPISTEMOLOGIES OF IGNORANCE CONCERNING CLIMATE CHANGE CHERYL LANS, VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA Part of the reason why there has been little consensus on how climate change should be addressed is due to the “human exemptionalism paradigm” born in Enlightenment thinking which allows scientists to claim that they can remake or replace nature with technology and thus transcend nature (Goldman and Schurman 2000; Merchant 1980; Mies and Shiva 1993; Salleh 1997). Goldman and Schurman (2000) wrote that tools such as environmental impact assessments and green cost-benefit analyses which form part of the scientific discourse around climate change reflect newly contrived universal norms and models which reflect the perspective of Western scientists. In contrast to the dualisms of Enlightenment thinking, environmental feminists have theorized social-natural relations in terms of ecological embeddedness, reflexive awareness and biological embodiment. Nature has to be included alongside capital and labor as fundamental economic categories (O’ Connor 2008). 5. GENDER AND CLIMATE CHANGE Terry (2009) claims that the mainstream policy discourse of climate change is stereotypically masculine- consisting of computer models, neoclassical economic approaches like carbon trading and quick fix technologies. While not completely agreeing I would add nuclear energy to this list (Mummy will clean up the messy nuclear waste). The majority of the politicians and businessmen involved in the climate change dispute, and in the Super Pac donations mentioned above are men. Ross (2008) found that oil-dominated economies in the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Russia, Chile, Botswana and Nigeria had repressive gender policies because of the oil wealth, which boosted male dominated construction (golf courses) and services but suppressed alternative manufacturing which served as career entry points for women (like sewing). Lisa Blaydes and Drew Linzer (2007) found that lack of economic opportunity led women to embrace fundamentalist belief systems in order to make themselves more marriageable (marriage becoming their main economic support). Few national leaders are female and only 15% of the scientists involved in the IPCC assessment report were female. Gender issues were described on half a page in the 2007 IPCC report (Quraishi 2009). Terry (2009) also discusses gendered vulnerability in which women are seen as victims of unpredictable weather, agricultural and health conditions but they are not seen as providers of solutions to climate change. Krugman (2009b) addressed the masculinity concerns behind climate change resistance in a few blog posts: “First, environmentalism is the ultimate “Mommy party” issue. Real men punish evildoers; they don’t adjust their lifestyles to protect the planet. An important part of the population just doesn’t want to believe in the kind of world in which we have to limit our appetites on the say-so of fancy experts. And so they angrily deny the whole thing.”.. “Conservatives seem deeply offended by anything that challenges the image of Americans as big men driving big cars” (Krugman 2009a). He refers to the gender findings from the 2006 American Environmental Values survey and the 2008 American Climate Values Survey. The women surveyed were more likely to want to address climate change. Men were less concerned about global warming and thought that addressing it would result in negative personal and economic consequences. Traditional male-dominated industries – coal, petroleum, and other environmentally destructive status quo industries were seen as manly and macho.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Scientific knowledge of TID will expand in the following way – by treating people with proven medicinal plants and studying how individual patients improve knowledge will be gained, and by identifying what phytochemical compounds led to the improvement, new drugs can be derived. For example a medicinal plant study in Pakistan is currently recruiting participants, see Glycemic Response to Momordica charantia in Type 2 Diabetes (contact person- Khadija I Khawaja) Momordica charantia is commonly-used remedy for diabetes and should have already been approved by the FDA. The first problem is that political pressure is continuously placed on medicinal plants because profits outweigh healthcare in certain cultures. The second problem is that most studies conducted on tropical medicinal plants are not published in the top-ranked medical journals and are therefore not well-known to western diabetes researchers. In addition it is difficult to keep track of the multiple small under-powered studies being conducted with few resources in developing countries. Another factor is that multiple non-human studies are conducted on the same plants because there is no central agency that tells scientists who are not working for the major pharmaceutical companies “enough already” it’s time for human use. An exception to this took place in the Philippines when a study demonstrated that a 100 milligram per kilo dose per day of Momordica charantia leaves was comparable to 2.5 milligrams of the anti-diabetes drug Glibenclamide taken twice per day and Pascual Laboratories Inc. was given a license to manufacture, distribute and market Momordica charantia tablets as an anti-diabetic medicine under the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants (NIRPROMP). The Khawaja study has a link to a database file for Momordica charantia on I propose an additional type of database – one that is more quantitative and is maintained by computers so that no human bias is included in the ranking process. A skilled statistician will be needed to provide the computer language that would allow dissimilar studies, small studies and poor quality studies to be ranked. This database will thus be different from existing systematic reviews that exclude studies for various reasons. This database should be internet-based and all researchers in all countries should be able to upload their published studies into it. The Cochrane database only contains randomised controlled trials. MEDLINE and EMBASE don’t tell scientists which medicinal plant is better than which or when to end non-human studies. A mock-database is provided below for twelve plants used to treat diabetes. Columns 3 and 7 currently have subjective numbers. This database is not a list of currently funded projects nor is it “direct and therefore obvious continuation of currently running projects”. Having a database that ranks all of the information means that patterns can be seen in how different plants achieve anti-diabetic effects, and relevant plant compounds can be identified. Table 1. Database of some medicinal plants used in the tropics for diabetes Scientific name Study population Quantitative rank based on all published studies (out of 10) /no of studies Allopathic Control used Properties Need for more non-human studies Likelihood of successful drug development (%) Reference 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Annona squamosa rats 2; number of studies conducted 9 glibenclamide (0.25 mg/kg) Sugar apple aqueous extract lowered fasting plasma glucose levels (P<0.05), affected serum insulin levels, serum lipid profile, liver glycogen levels and in pancreatic TBARS levels. Yes 50 1 Bixa orellana dog 7; number of studies conducted 11 annatto responsible for the hypoglycaemic episodes seen in the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) There was an increase in plasma insulin concentration. no 66 2,3 Catharanthus roseus rabbits 9; number of studies conducted 23 tolbutamide Periwinkle produced dose-dependent reduction in blood glucose no 95 4 Chamaesyce hirta syn. Euphorbia hirta rats 7; number of studies conducted 11 acetazolamide Malome increased electrolyte excretion and urine output. yes 75 5, 6 Commelina elegans mice 6; number of studies conducted 15 acarbose Water grass normalized hyperglycemia yes 66 7 Desmodium adscendens isolated rat pancreatic beta-islet cells; mice 6; number of studies conducted 21 Amor seco -fasting blood glucose levels and body weight decreased significantly (p < 0.05) yes 66 8-10 Hibiscus sabdariffa people 7; number of studies conducted 61 Sorrel- significant effect on blood lipid profile in patients with diabetes no 75 11 Laportea aestuans rats 5; number of studies conducted 9 Wood nettle -significant reduction in the fasting serum glucose concentrations and lowered cholesterol yes 65 12 Momordica charantia Multiple species 8; number of studies conducted 445 bitter melon -timulating kinases involved in peripheral utilization of glucose. Can reduce LPS-induced inflammatory responses by modulating NF-κB activation no 80 13, 14, 20 Morus alba Rabbits, rats 5; number of studies conducted 7 White mulberry may protect pancreatic beta cells from degeneration and diminish lipid peroxidation yes 58 15-17 Musa sapientum Rats, mice 6; number of studies conducted 31 chlorpropamide Banana produces a significant (p < 0.001) blood glucose lowering effect no 71 18,19 Reference list 1. Shirwaikar A, Rajendran K, Dinesh Kumar C, Bodla R: Antidiabetic activity of aqueous leaf extract of Annona squamosa in streptozotocin-nicotinamide type 2 diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004, 91(1):171-5. 2. Russell KR, Morrison EY, Ragoobirsingh D: The effect of annatto on insulin binding properties in the dog. Phytother Res. 2005, 19(5):433-6. 3. De-Oliveira AC, Silva IB, Manhaes-Rocha DA, Paumgartten FJ: Induction of liver monooxygenases by annatto and bixin in female rats. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2003, 36(1):113-8. 4. Nammi S, Boini MK, Lodagala SD, Behara RB: The juice of fresh leaves of Catharanthus roseus Linn. reduces blood glucose in normal and alloxan diabetic rabbits. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2003, 3(1):4. 5. Johnson, P.B., Abdurahman, E.M., Tiam, E.A., Abdu-Aguye, I., Hussaini, I.M: Euphorbia hirta leaf extracts increase urine output and electrolytes in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999, 65 (1): 63-9. 6. Lanhers, M-C., Fleurentin, J., Dorfman, P., Mortier, F., Pelt, J-M. 1991. Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties of Euphorbia hirta. Planta Med. 1991, 57 (3): 225-31. 7. Youn JY, Park HY, Cho KH: Anti-hyperglycemic activity of Commelina communis L.: inhibition of alpha-glucosidase. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2004, 66 Suppl 1:S149-55. 8. Barreto GS: Effect of butanolic fraction of Desmodium adscendens on the anococcygeus of the rat. Braz J Biol. 2002, 62(2):223-30. 9. Sugimoto, K., Sakurai, N., Shirasawa, H., Fujise, Y., Shibata, K., Shimodo, K., Sakata, J: Bovine cases of urolithiasis treated with traditional herbal medicine, P-3. J Vet Med Sci. 1992, 54 (3): 579 - 582. 10. Monache, G.D., Botta, B., Vinciguerra, V., de Mello, J.F., Andrade Chiapetta de, A: Antimicrobial isoflavanones from Desmodium canum. Phytochemistry 1996, 41 (2): 537 - 544. 11. Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Jalali-Khanabadi BA, Afkhami-Ardekani M, Fatehi F: Effects of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on lipid profile and lipoproteins in patients with type II diabetes. J Altern Complement Med. 2009, 15(8):899-903. 12. Momo CE, Oben JE, Tazoo D, Dongo E: Antidiabetic and hypolipidaemic effects of a methanol/methylene-chloride extract of Laportea ovalifolia (Urticaceae), measured in rats with alloxan-induced diabetes. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2006, 100(1):69-74. 13. Tongia A, Tongia SK, Dave M: Phytochemical determination and extraction of Momordica charantia fruit and its hypoglycemic potentiation of oral hypoglycemic drugs in diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 2004, 48(2):241-4. 14. Cummings E, Hundal HS, Wackerhage H, Hope M, Belle M, Adeghate E, Singh J: Momordica charantia fruit juice stimulates glucose and amino acid uptakes in L6 myotubes. Mol Cell Biochem. 2004, 261(1-2):99-104. 15. Lemus I, Garcia R, Delvillar E, Knop G: Hypoglycaemic activity of four plants used in Chilean popular medicine. Phytother Res. 1999, 13(2):91-4. 16. Oku T, Yamada M, Nakamura M, Sadamori N, Nakamura S: Inhibitory effects of extractives from leaves of Morus alba on human and rat small intestinal disaccharidase activity. Br J Nutr. 2006, 95(5):933-8. 17. Singab AN, El-Beshbishy HA, Yonekawa M, Nomura T, Fukai T: Hypoglycemic effect of Egyptian Morus alba root bark extract: effect on diabetes and lipid peroxidation of streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005, 100(3):333-8. 18. Dhanabal SP, Sureshkumar M, Ramanathan M, Suresh B: Hypoglycemic effect of ethanolic extract of Musa sapientum on alloxan induced diabetes mellitus in rats and its relation with antioxidant potential. J Herb Pharmacother. 2005, 5(2):7-19. 19. Ojewole JA, Adewunmi CO: Hypoglycemic effect of methanolic extract of Musa paradisiaca (Musaceae) green fruits in normal and diabetic mice. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2003, 25(6):453-6. 20. Chong-Kuei Lii, Haw-Wen Chen, Wen-Tzu Yun, Kai-Li Liu: Suppressive effects of wild bitter gourd (Momordica charantia Linn. var. abbreviata ser.) fruit extracts on inflammatory responses in RAW 264.7 macrophages. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2009, 122 (2): 227-233.

Monday, 3 September 2012

A typical highest ranked university is world class in a broad range of areas, has a Nobel Prize winner or two, has a good teaching and research reputation and has cutting edge facilities. So my papers have been attributed to the near-by university with no negative effect on their reputation but more builders have been hired there than the highly skilled immigrants I meet at my career workshops. It gives me a mixed feeling about the new facilities that I get to use as a community member but that may have cost me and others career wise (6 years and counting down the tubes). Some of these facilities, including housing are being built to attract faculty, apparently because the people already in the back yard like me are not adequate. The university president and others got millions to tour a few countries to encourage foreign students to come to the country because they pay higher fees. When I read the various papers about the trip and the report, 700-plus commenters did not believe that innovation had to come from outside, and felt that the purpose of the trip really was the higher fees that are more needed than ever because of federal cutbacks. What is wrong with our own students they asked? Why do we have to sell our infrastructure to others, to the detriment of local citizens? They accused the university presidents of being foreigners seeking the interests of their native countries. Maybe they are lawyers, who are not trained to recognize innovation or to generate income. Then again the business faculty has higher salaries than every one save the medical faculty and yet they have to attract foreign students to gain income instead of creating it themselves. Maybe a mining metaphor is appropriate? Innovation is a precious commodity that is only available outside of Canada and that is why the top leaders have to go elsewhere to continuously mine it. If the local people were truly top notch these leaders would know them because they would have succeeded despite the multiple barriers (professional bodies etc.) others put in their way. Does that sound like a correct metaphor? Of course a blog like this does not help either. What I have noticed at my career training is that in order to succeed you have to be continuously grateful for the opportunities even if you do not get them.