A biotech company is hoping to cash in on a genetically modified salmon. If the F-D-A approves the fish, it would be the first transgenic animal species available for human consumption. The Great Lake Radio Consortium’s Nancy Cohen reports:
A biotech company is hoping to cash in on a genetically modified
salmon. If the FDA approves the fish, it would be the first transgenic
animal species available for human consumption. The Great Lake Radio
Consortium’s Nancy Cohen reports:
Aquaculture firms are developing fish that are resistant to disease,
consume low-cost diets and grow faster. The Massachusetts-based Aqua
Bounty Technologies took part of the genetic code from a fish called the
ocean pout, and added it to the Atlantic salmon. The ocean pout’s
genetic material acts as a kind of switch that turns on the salmon’s
Joe McGonigle is with Aqua Bounty. He says the result is a salmon that
grows twice as fast as other farmed salmon.
“You can get more heart healthy omega 3 protein on the market at a
lower price, you can produce fish more quickly, you can use fewer
resources and you can manage water quality and fish health, in a much
better way than under current conditions.”
But critics are concerned about the environmental impact on native fish
populations if genetically modified fish were to escape into the wild.
Every few years, the amount of corn being used to produce ethanol doubles in the United States. That’s causing concern that too much of the country’s corn crop is being taken out of food production. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
Every few years, the amount of corn being used to produce ethanol
doubled in the United States. That’s causing concern that too much of the
country’s corn crop is being taken out of food production. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
Demand for ethanol is increasing as more states start requiring the corn-
based fuel to be blended with gasoline, and Congress has required that
the amount of renewable fuel used in the U.S. triple in the next six years.
Keith Collins is chief economist for the USDA. He’s says he’s not
worried about a food shortage. He says there were record corn crops in
2004 and 2005, and there’s 35 million acres of cropland in reserve in the
“Some of that has to stay there because its environmentally fragile land,
but some of it could come out if demand for food goes up, and demand
for fuel goes up. I think we have a very strong resource natural resource
base that can produce a lot more agricultural commodities, both for food
and for fuel.”
Overproduction has kept corn prices as low as they were in the 1950s,
but Collins expects corn to get more expensive over the next few years as
ethanol production increases.
DuPont has agreed to take part in a new E-P-A program aimed at eliminating the use of a potentially toxic chemical. The chemical is known as C-8. And it’s used to make Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant products. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Fred Kight has the story:
DuPont has agreed to take part in a new program aimed at eliminating
the use of a potentially toxic chemical. The chemical is known as C-8,
and it’s used to make Teflon and other nonstick and stain-resistant
products. The voluntary program was proposed by the EPA. The Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Fred Kight has the story:
The EPA wants DuPont and seven other chemical companies to
completely eliminate C-8 in the next nine years.
The effort is drawing praise from environmentalists. Timothy Kropp is a
senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group. He says finding
a substitute for C-8 can decrease pollution and damage to human health…
“This chemical is ubiquitous in people’s blood, and it’s persistent and
everywhere throughout the environment. It is such a wide ranging
chemical with so many concerns that it’s high time that someone took
care of this.”
One EPA official says this is a great opportunity for the industry to get
ahead of the curve and demonstrate leadership in protecting the
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal party has gone down to defeat in the country’s national election. The Conservative party, under leader Stephen Harper, will form the next government. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Dan Karpenchuk reports… there is some concern among environmental groups that Harper will pull out of the Kyoto Protocol:
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal party has gone down to
defeat in the country’s national election. The Conservative party, under
leader Stephen Harper, will form the next government. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Dan Karpenchuk reports… there is some concern
among environmental groups that Harper will pull out of the Kyoto
Stephen Harper won the election by persuading voters it was time for a
change, but the fact that he was given only a thin minority, demonstrates
that Canadians aren’t completely sold on his policies, among them his
position on the Kyoto Accord to reduce heat trapping gases. Harper said
only days before the election that he will reconsider Canada’s position on
“You know, I’ve said for a long time, we’re not going to be able to achieve
the Kyoto targets in Canada. That’s just a fact, I’m sorry we lost a decade
finding that out.”
Harper said he wants to move Canada beyond Kyoto and bring in his
own clean air act, but a coalition of social advocacy and citizens groups,
formed just before the election, said they had deep misgivings about a
At least one environmentalist said it would mean a complete reversal for
Canada, the end of its commitment to the Kyoto protocol, and bring
Ottawa closer in line with Washington’s policies on global warming.
Exotic insects and diseases that attack plants can be very destructive and cost millions of dollars to fight. Just ask those cities fighting the invasion of the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams reports… a recent study looks at where new potential pests are coming from:
Exotic insects and diseases that attack plants can be very destructive and
cost millions of dollars to fight. Just ask those cities fighting the
invasion of the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle. The
Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Rebecca Williams reports… a recent
study looks at where new potential pests are coming from:
Inspectors at airports, ports and borders nab between 40 and 60 thousand
different potential plant pests each year. That’s according to a study in
the journal, Biological Invasions.
Author Deb McCullough says global trade is leading to an increase in the
number of non-native insects and diseases that could become problems.
“China in particular which has become one of our major trading
partners…most of the kinds of climate that you’ll find in China, you’ll
find somewhere here in the U.S., and there’s really an awful lot of
opportunities for exotic insects to become established here.”
McCullough says it’s hard to estimate how many new potential pests
could be slipping past inspectors. She says at best, inspectors go through
just 2% of agricultural cargo coming into the U.S. each year.
Prairie plants are being lost to development.(Courtesy of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)
Many modern medicines come from prairie plants or the fungus that is found beneath them. (Courtesy of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory)
You’ve heard about the ark Noah built to save the world’s animals. Now comes news of another kind of ark – one designed to help save the world’s plants. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sandy Hausman has that story:
You’ve heard about the ark Noah built to save the world’s animals. Now
comes news of another kind of ark – one designed to help save the
world’s plants. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sandy Hausman
has that story:
(Sound of walking through the prairie up then under)
You might say Pati Vitt is looking for the right stock to fill the ark.
She’s dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, her long brown hair in braids, a field
notebook in hand, and a pencil tied to her pants. For nine months of each
year, she wanders along railroad tracks, through old cemeteries and
nature preserves, filling shopping bags with the seeds of prairie plants.
Vitt is a conservation scientist with the Chicago Botanic Garden. She has
studied these plants since she was a child. She knows their Latin names.
She dreams about them at night. She even knows the intimate details of
their reproductive lives:
“One does it having teeny little flowers and taking small little bees, and
another one does it by having huge flowers and lots of nectar and they
have really big bees or maybe a moth that pollinates them.”
And, she says, prairie plants are hearty. Native to the Upper Midwest,
they can handle icy winters and long, hot droughts, but they can’t fight
plows or bulldozers. Farmers and developers have destroyed almost all
the land where prairie plants once grew. Today, one-tenth of one percent
of the original prairie remains.
“That means that what we’re looking at right here is one-tenth of one
percent of the population that this plant once enjoyed. I’m sorry. Even
though there’s a lot in this prairie, this plant should be endangered,
because there are so few acres of its habitat left and everyday we’re
coming and we’re taking more and more of it. The prairie habitat is more
endangered than tropical rainforest.”
That worries Vitt, not only because she thinks the prairie plants are
beautiful, but because they may have value to people. For example, she
says about half of our modern medicines came – originally – from plants
or the fungus found in the soil beneath them.
“If you think about penicillin… penicillin came from mold. We might be
standing on a treasure trove of antibiotics, which we need, but if we let
the plants go, we let the soil fungi go, we let the potential antibiotics go.”
(Sound of seeds dropping into a jar)
So Vitt is collecting prairie seeds from about 1,500 plants and shipping
them to the English countryside.
(Sound of birds)
Just south of London, the British government has built what it hopes will
be the largest seed bank in the world devoted to wild plants. The
building looks like a series of greenhouses made from concrete, stone,
glass and steel. In the basement, fire and bombproof vaults hold billions of
seeds from 24,000 species:
“That’s the exciting bit. We thought big.”
Michael Way is a scientist at the Millennium Seed Bank. He says it’s
needed now because a lot of wild plants are in danger of
disappearing because of global warming and the pace of human
development. Way believes a third of the world’s plant species could be
gone by 2050.
“You hope that the worst is not going to happen. Of course, from time to
time the worst does happen. If a plant population is destroyed, if a
decision is taken to build houses or factories or roads on a particular area
which was home to some quite special plants, seed banking is one tool
you can use to protect that genetic diversity that might be unique to that
Each day, seeds arrive from Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East
and the Americas. They sit in colorful plastic crates — waiting to be
cleaned, dried and frozen. Way says these seeds could survive for a
century or more.
“Seeds are tough – small but tough, and the whole point of seeds is to be
dormant and allow themselves to be transported around, so unless we do
something really stupid, they will remain viable.”
Back in the U.S., Pati Vitt says seed banks like the one near London
could mean the survival of humanity, since people can’t live without
“I think fundamentally we all understand that we are a part of nature, but
in our daily lives we get so cut off from it that we forget.”
She sees the Earth as a garden, and she wants people to act like
gardeners. Setting up seed banks is an important first step.
“We will have the tools that we need to bring things back if necessary.”
Maggots can be used as a medical treatment. Specifically, to help treat wounds. (Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)
Maggots can be used to disinfect a wound due to their attraction to the bacteria. (Courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)
An ancient medical treatment is starting to be used again to treat wounds. But for many people, just the thought of the treatment is stomach-turning. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Melissa Ingells has the story:
An ancient medical treatment is starting to be used again to treat wounds,
but for many people, just the thought of the treatment is stomach turning.
The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Melissa Ingells has the story:
Ray Peterson has already lost one leg to diabetes. On his remaining foot
there’s a deep wound, and it’s not healing. It’s not getting better because
of the diabetes. He could lose his second leg.
His doctor is taking the dressing off Peterson’s wound. The wound…is
ugly. It looks like someone drilled a quarter-sized hole deep into
Peterson’s foot. The wound smells bad, and then the doctor finds
maggots. The blowfly larvae are squirming around in there. The doctor
is not surprised, though. He put the maggots there a few days ago. It’s
part of the treatment to save Ray Peterson’s leg.
They’re not exactly the kind of maggots you’d find in your garbage can,
but they’re similar. Last summer the FDA approved maggots as medical
The maggots eat the dead tissue, not the live flesh. In a process
researchers don’t completely understand… the maggots actually clean
and disinfect the wound much better than a surgeon could. Apparently,
they’re attracted to the bacteria in the dead tissue.
Ray Peterson is in his doctor’s office, trading in some big, full maggots
for some new hungry ones.
The old, fat maggots are washed off with saline. The doctor has to dig around
with the tweezers to get a few strays out.
Ray Peterson says he doesn’t mind seeing the process.
“I enjoy watching them, truthfully.”
The doctor cleans the wound a bit more and then places tiny, new maggots on
it with a small spatula.
(Sound of office)
There are plenty of maggot jokes as Dr. Dowling and the nurses work on
Peterson’s foot. Dowling says that his staff has become comfortable with
the maggots, but many health care professionals are not.
“Actually the patients react much better than the doctors. Every patient
I’ve done it on has been very excited and enthusiastic. I can’t say that’s
always the case for the medical community at large. I’ve had some
doctors tell patients if you have maggots on your foot, don’t come in my
office, but I think that will go away with time the more it’s accepted.
The new maggots start moving around as soon as they feel warmth and smell
food. Dr. Dowling and his nurses quickly contain them with a bandage.
“We build a cage around the wound to hold the maggots in, we’ll put the
maggots in, cover up the cage, and leave it there for two to three days,
and during that time the maggots will increase in size two to three times.
And then, when they come in we’ll take the cage off and wash the maggots out
with saline solution, and look at the wound and decide if it needs another
application or not.”
Several clinical studies have been conducted on the maggot treatment.
The results have been overwhelmingly good, but because the idea is so
repulsive to many patients or their doctors, the practice is still not
Robert Root Bernstein is a professor of physiology at Michigan State
University. He co-wrote the book “Honey, Mud, Maggots and other Medical Marvels.”
“Taking a maggot or a bunch of maggots and putting them in a wound and watching
them crawl around in there is not something that most people find appealing, and
usually okay for the patient – the patient doesn’t actually have to look. It’s the
practitioners who have to deal with these squirmy little things and have to put
them in and take them out who seem to have most of the problem with the therapy.”
Root Bernstein says maggot therapy might catch on. That’s because doctors are seeing
more and more diabetic wounds as the rate of diabetes keeps going up in the U.S.
When medicines such as antibiotics don’t work on the stubborn wounds,
patients and doctors sometimes turn to the maggot therapy as their last hope for
Ray Peterson found out about maggot therapy when his daughter saw an
article in a local newspaper. He says at first his friends were a little put
off, but then started kidding him about the procedure.
“They call me maggot man. Just for a joke. I go along with them. You’re a pretty
good sport about this. You gotta be.”
And Peterson says the good-natured ribbing is sure a lot better than the
alternative. Peterson also thinks if people can get past the “ick” factor…
more people’s limbs might be saved by maggot therapy.
The United States Coast Guard is trying to find something missing on the Great Lakes this winter. They’re looking for ice. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson reports:
The United States Coast Guard is trying to find something missing on the Great Lakes this
winter. They’re looking for ice. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mike Simonson reports:
There’s no significant ice on the Great Lakes. Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Damren at
Sault Saint Marie, Michigan says the little ice that’s out there is thin.
“But other than that, sir, It’s been really, really warm here this winter. The whole place should be
covered in ice right now, but there’s hardly any out here at all.”
Perhaps even more unusual is that fishing boats have been operating on Lake Superior’s south
shore. Eric Johnson has been fishing for 50 years, but he says casting out nets in mid-January
doesn’t happen very often.
“Well, just occasionally. I think we fished up to about this time in about ’83. Normally we quit about
the middle of December.”
The weather is turning a little colder. The Coast Guard is concerned about people going out on
thin ice. An old Coast Guard saying is that ‘the only safe ice is in a glass of scotch.’
People who buy a hybrid car or truck this year could get a bigger tax credit. The IRS has issued new tax credit guidelines for the purchase of hybrids. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Celeste Headlee reports:
People who buy a hybrid car or truck this year could get a bigger tax credit. The IRS has issued
new tax credit guidelines for the purchase of hybrids. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Celeste Headlee reports:
Beginning this month, hybrid owners will be eligible for a tax credit of up to 3,400 dollars. That
money will be subtracted directly from what the taxpayer owes the IRS. Under previous tax law,
hybrid owners could only claim a 2,000 dollar tax deduction.
Don McKenzie is a Vehicles Engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He says the new
law is a step forward because it’s performance based… vehicles with better fuel economy are
eligible for a higher tax credit.
But he says the credit is phased out after a company builds about 60,000 eligible vehicles… and
there’s another important component missing as well.
“It doesn’t require an increase in overall fleet fuel economy and it is possible that some
automakers could use increased sales of hybrid vehicles to offset increased sales of gas guzzlers.”
Automakers are responsible for getting their vehicles certified as eligible vehicles. They hope to
have vehicles certified beginning this summer.
Officials say a new outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease
could erupt after a fence was cut at an infected hunting preserve in Wisconsin. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Christina Shockley
Officials say a new outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease could erupt after a fence was cut at an
infected hunting preserve in Wisconsin. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Christina
Authorities say someone intentionally cut a hole in a perimeter fence at the preserve in central
Wisconsin. They say tracks indicate deer had gone in and out of the area through the hole…
before the owner saw it and notified the Department of Natural Resources.
Alan Crossley is with the Wisconsin DNR. He says officials shot deer around the preserve to try
to limit the chance the disease would spread to wild deer.
“We have to try to assess whether any deer escaped from that shooting pen. Then we’re going to
be meeting to talk about okay, should we try to do any additional shooting of deer in a larger area
around that pen.”
Crossley says it’s now even more important to monitor deer near the preserve in the years ahead.
He says it will take time to determine how their overall efforts to combat the disease are working.
So far, CWD has been found in the wild in ten states, including Wisconsin, New York and