Saturday, March 26, 2011

Human Waste as FERTILIZER?

Biosolids (human waste) are used as sustainable agricultural fertilizers in some parts of the world. This means the food that we consume are grown and ripened by the stuff that comes out of us. However, farmers don’t think of it as we do. Farmers actually find biosolids very useful and a great innovation. Question: Are biosolid fertilizers unsanitary or valuable?   

Biosolids as fertilizer

Biosolids are treated sewage waste meaning they are refined before being used as fertilizer. Therefore, it is filtered, but not a 100% pure. Then again nothing is. Moreover, research proves that the health hazards are minimal. As mentioned earlier nothing is perfect, so health wise biosolids used as fertilizers is not a bad option. 
Biosolids has a good effect on the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies all promote biosolids recycling as an environmentally safe and cost-effective solution for managing wastewater residuals. These factors benefit not only the farmers, but the society, too. Biosolids contain a vast amount of nutrients. Some of which are nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other trace elements. All these are essential in productive agricultural soils. Moreover, they contain organic matter, which can't be artificially manufactured. Organic matter plays a significant role in soil structure. It improves moisture retention, tilth and the ability of soil. It also increases the uptake of nutrients and minerals in plants. It basically improves crop production. Additionally, it reduces erosion and protects the quality of water. Water is improved because soil is improved, as well. This means the water-holding capacity of soil is increased. Lastly, biosolids are eco-friendly as they are recycled waste. Thus, they conserve precious landfill space. Biosolids are a huge innovation as it has a sparse risk of harming anything within the earth. 

Sewage Treatment Flowchart

When there is good, there is also bad. 
Biosolids fertilizer is food grown using our poop. Gross. Biosolids are also said to be made of pharmaceuticals, steroids, flame-retardants, metals, hormones and human pathogens, among other things. According to EPA, there are 100 toxins found in sewage sludge. However, Dr. Alan B. Rubin, a principal author of E.P.A. concluded that while more long-term research needed to be done, he was convinced that biosolids — including those containing the compounds recently listed by E.P.A. — pose no serious health risk. Dr. Alan B. Rubin further added on the topic of biosolids, "it is causing an impact on the quality of life." 
Although, research proves health risks are involved and our minds jump to the conclusion that biosolids are unsanitary, it is proven that quality of life is improved. 

In this issue, the potential stakeholders are us, the public. We are the consumers and personally biosolids are the right way to go. They have contributed positively to every aspect that they are used for, aside from the fact that there are possible health risks. Then again, nothing is 100% perfect. Finally anything environmentally friendly is an automatic approval. 

Biosolids as fertilizer? Beneficial? Valuable? 100% YES! 

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sustainable Agriculture is Right for YOU

The human race is a dominating and growing group. Our numbers just continue to increase and so we expect and need our sources of survival to increase, too. This mainly includes our food sources. A demand for food is always rising and surprisingly they are quickly met. Well, how is that so?

Industrial Agriculture
Industrial agriculture has become the dominant way of producing food. It is modern farming where genetic technology is used to produce large amounts of food but it has little concerns for the environment, animal welfare or food safety. It involves the help of machinery, chemicals and genetic technologies to produce the food that we eat. This method is very destructive, but the production is cheap. The organisms are fed chemicals and antibiotics to induce maturity to quicken their development. Thus, they are likely to carry diseases. Also, the production causes pollution, health hazards and can possibly lead to extinction. Although, it means cheap and plentiful food, it also means extinction, reduction in genetic diversity, and likely to be hazardous to you.

Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable agriculture is the ethical and moral way of producing food. It is both philosophy and a system of farming. This method works with natural processes to minimize waste and conserve resources, while maintaining and improving farming profitability. Sustainable agriculture uses existing resources to produce uncontaminated and nutritious food, while preserving the environment. This system has become a second choice because industrial agriculture meets the population’s demand quicker and is cheaper. But is industrial produce really cheaper than sustainable produce. From the statistics of animals slaughtered and disruptions in the environment from industrial agriculture, it seems that organic food is the better buy.

Industrial agriculture mass produces the organisms that are in high demand quickly. Thus, those organisms are highly productive livestock breeds and crop varieties. The continuous production of these animals reduces the genetic diversity. As these animals become our daily meals, the others that are less productive become endangered and then extinct. Also, once an organism from a food chain is extinct the other organisms within the food chain will become extinct, not long after. The biodiversity on Earth is depleting.

Industrial agriculture has caused more than enough problems on Earth. It has pushed animals into extinction and has spread many diseases and hazards, itself. Furthermore, sustainable agriculture should be regarded as the number one method to produce food. The production is in harmony with nature. Moreover, our food sources would be healthier and clean if most of our produce comes from sustainable farm. Cost or Life?

Difference between Industrial and Sustainable Agriculture
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

"I asked for a BLUE-EYED baby!"

Designer Babies?
Designer babies are babies whose genetic makeup have been artificially selected through the process of genetic engineering combined with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics.

This process was originally used to screen embryos for genetic diseases and select healthy embryos to decrease the chance of a baby being born with genetic disorders. There are many cases where this has been successful and inspiring. The case of Adam Nash could be used as an example. Adam Nash's embryo was selected because it did not contain Fanconi Anaemia, a disorder his sister suffered from . Adam became his sister's keeper doubling her chances of survival.

Left to right: Molly Nash (sister) and 4-week-old, Adam Nash

The IVF process has a high possibility of the woman dying during birth. Moreover, the baby may also be born with a low-birth weight and genetic defects.

Nowadays, this process enables a parent to choose up to gender, hair, eye and skin colour of their future child. Yet, these traits and modifications do not come free. They are extremely expensive!

Ethically these procedures are found wrong. Many believe they are being taken too far and abused. They were meant for medical purposes, but now are used for cosmetic purposes, too.

Society as we know it, is a difficult place to fit in. Imagine a person with a mental illness! Usually they are treated very differently from the average person. Thus, a baby who undergoes IVF to be cured from their illnesses would feel more welcomed into society because they will be no different from another. However, a “designer baby” who discovers they have undergone the process of IVF for cosmetic reasons will feel abandoned by parents and find it hard to be treated average due to their extraordinary intellectual ability and physical attributes.

Personally, I disagree with the idea of “designer babies.” First of all, a person's true beauty comes from the heart and all humans are created in the image of God, appearance shouldn't be stressed. Also, after reading My Sister's Keeper, a story about a young girl who was born to save her sister, it upset me to learn about a girl who did not get the chance to live. She was a “designer baby” that suffered. She had no freedom and wasn't shown the same amount of love her ill sister received, though all the times her sister was in the hospital, so was she. It's just that there are many eager donors that can help. In my opinion, it's just wrong.

Everyone is beautiful in their own and unique way.


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Sunday, September 26, 2010

David Suzuki Foundation

"Our vision is that within a generation, everyone acts on the understanding that we are all interconnected and interdependent with nature."

The David Suzuki Foundation is a Canadian environmental organization co-founded by David Suzuki. It's dedicated to protect the diversity of nature and quality of life. The foundation works “with government, business and individuals to conserve our environment by providing science-based education, advocacy and policy work, and acting as a catalyst for the social change that today's situation demands” (David Suzuki Foundation). It focuses on four major causes.

Climate Change
Climate change is basically the results of global warming. Global warming is what happens when the insulating, life-protecting layer that is our atmosphere turns into a suffocating, heat-trapping blanket woven of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases” (David Suzuki Foundation). The effects of global warming are altered long-term weather patterns and a rise in the average global temperature. Moreover, global warming has already begun. However, there are ways to slow down the process of climate change, so that many after our generation can experience a better world. The foundation has on-going projects concerning this cause:
  • Trottier Energy Futures
  • Countdown to Copenhagen
  • Olympics
  • Play it Cool

Many human activities impact the health of all people. For example, some ingredients used in personal care products are actually industrial chemical, which obviously is harmful. Also, plastic water bottle use can lead to ovarian and breast cancer for women. Water from water bottles are more harmful than water from the tap. Water bottles are not only harmful to us, but also to the environment, as well. “The David Suzuki Foundation is promoting policies to bring Canadian environmental health standards up to par with the best in the world” (David Suzuki Foundation). The foundation has two projects focused on this matter:
  • What's Inside? That Counts
  • Go Pesticide Free

Many of our oceans are suffering from industrial fishing, oil spills, climate change and an infinite amount of pollution. Although, we may not see it, these things are occurring daily. For example, just recently an oil spill took place in the Gulf of Mexico, which was a disaster. The oil spill not only destroyed wildlife, but coastal communities, too. The foundation has organized projects, so that we can help protect and make a difference:
  • Healthy Oceans
  • Sustainable Seafood

Wildlife and Habitat
Human activities have caused disruptions in wildlife. Many animals have lost their habitats due to deforestation and human infrastructures. Also, climate change has an impact on wildlife as it causes widespread species extinction, changes the patterns of life on earth, migration and behaviour changes. All of these events can be changed and stopped. Protecting the natural creations in our world “is more than a moral responsibility; it has important consequences for human health and welfare” (David Suzuki Foundation). The foundation has projects concerning this cause, too:
  • Grizzly Bears
  • Habitat Matters

What You Can Do
We, as individuals can also partake in protecting our environment by making a few adjustments every now and then. They don't have to be big steps, but they can be small footprints. Any change we make can make a difference. Act positively!


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