Skip to content

Category Archives: Science

The IAEA Manila Conference on Nuclear Power in Asia a Great Success

| 0 comments

Sep. 1 (EIRNS)–The three day conference on Nuclear Power in the Asia-Pacific Region, sponsored by the IAEA in Manila, concluded today with a rousing call from the Duterte government’s Energy Secretary for reopening the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Plant and proceeding onwards with nuclear power.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that the conference had provided him and others with a “virtual crash course on the entire chain of launching  a nuclear program and the importance of public information.” He said that he and others had visited the Bataan plant Thursday morning. “The timing of this summit is perfect,” Cusi said. “As a coincidence we had a hearing also in the Senate. We discussed also nuclear power plants and today we inspected the BNPP and there are a lot of discussions,” he said.

It should be noted that Butch Valdes, the head of the Philippines LaRouche Society, had organized a tour of the Bataan plant for politicians and engineers several years ago, which sparked the growing interest in reversing the disaster of shutting the plant after its completion in 1985, without producing a single watt of electricity. He has since been the leading spokesman for restoring the Bataan plant, and was invited to address the conference on Wednesday (see the accompanying report on his presentation).

Cusi said that “with intensified electrification programs, increasing population, and strong GDP growth, demand for electricity is expected to grow by an average of 5 percent per year… This is the most pressing concern for the country,” and that “given its known characteristics, nuclear energy can be a viable choice for the country.”

Cusi said one of the things they learned was how other nations launched their own nuclear programs.

The meeting was chaired by the Philippine Ambassador to the UN, Zeneida Angara Collinson, who told the press: “For me the most important thing is the understanding of our people about what nuclear energy, nuclear power is all about. Having understood that, then we can form our own opinion.”  She noted that experts who attended the event claimed that the BNPP was sturdier than the nuclear reactor in Fukushima, which was damaged by an earthquake and a tsunami. She said that while a single nuclear reactor will cost billions of pesos, it is cheaper to run because of the relatively cheap cost of fuel, and noted the dozens of nuclear plants being constructed in Asia. “They can no longer get [energy] from biomass, solar,” she said, adding that they were “fluctuating and we cannot use them as baseload.”  The ambassador said the Philippines is already lagging behind.

“Malaysia already has a nuclear science university,” she said, explaining that knowledge in nuclear science can be applied to agriculture and health.

Prospect of Another Rice Revolution To Feed World’s Hungry, Says International Rice Research Institute Scientist

| 0 comments

Nov. 10 (EIRNS)–Citing two senior scientists, Dr. Jauhar Ali and Li Zhi-Kang, {Asia Sentinel} correspondent John Berthelsen said the world could be on the verge of experiencing another rice revolution. Berthelsen said the variety, Green Super Rice, developed jointly by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, has the potential to feed millions who now go hungry.

The target is to plant 20 million hectares in another 10 years, according to Dr. Ali, who is the regional project coordinator at IRRI. Next year, as much as 1 million hectares in Asia and Africa will be planted in the new strains, which have been produced by intricate crossbreeding and back-crossbreeding to produce multiple strains that are more resistant to salinity, more impervious to drought and disease, and can achieve above-average yields without the use of fertilizers or pesticides, making them environmentally safe, Dr. Ali told Berthelsen in a recent telephone interview.

The article says some 25,000 hectares have been planted in Vietnam and another 5,700 hectares in the Philippines. Additional lines have been planted in India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and other countries, achieving yields far above conventional strains and impelling farmers to ask for more. Those 5,700 hectares being planted in the Philippines are expected to produce 90,000 tons of rice. “At that point, they realized they have gold on their hands,” Ali reportedly told {Asia Sentinel}.

Research to come up with Green Super Rice — which does not involve genetic modification, making its strains acceptable to anti-GMO activists — began in 1998 with the launch of an international rice molecular breeding program originally involving more than 18 countries and 36 institutions. Funding constraints eventually reduced the program to just IRRI and the Chinese Academy, said {Asia Sentinel}.

IRRI Working to Create an Entirely New Rice Plant, 50% Higher Yield- Genetic Manufacturing, Not Just Modifying!

| 0 comments

Sept. 30, 2014 (EIRNS)–The International Institute for Rice Research (IRRI), in the Philippines, is now in year six of what they expect will be a 20-year success story to manufacture an entirely new rice plant, at a higher level of photosynthetic power, than any current variety. It will increase rice yields by 50 percent, a great prospect for mankind, half of whom rely on rice for their daily diet.

Rice is among plants known as C3, for the three-carbon compound they synthesize under sunlight. But corn, sugar cane, and some other crops, are C4 producers. The IRRI program is working to upgrade rice to the C4 level, by painstaking genetic engineering. See updates on the progress, on c4rice.irri.org

This project exposes the gullibility of those who oppose plant improvement through bio-technology, because they are induced to fear it, and wrongly equate it to the evil of cartel corporate control over life forms (seeds, plants, human genes and diseases, etc.), food, and medicine. The extreme corporate control–in particular, patent rights over life forms–is entirely wrong. It was foisted on the United States (the Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, and since) by the British imperial commodity circles, and then worldwide through the WTO; it must be stopped. But GMO methods and improvements themselves are advancements to serve mankind.

The IRRI C4 rice project is reported on, including comparative color photos of C3 and C4 rice and corn leaf proteins, respectively, in the October, 2014 issue of the {National Geographic}. In it, IRRI Director Robert Zeigler states, “We do feel a bit betrayed by the environmentalist movement. I can tell you that, if you want to have a conversation about what the role of large corporations should be in our food supply, we can have that conversation–it’s really important. But it’s not the same conversation about whether we should use these tools of genetics to improve our crops. They’re both important, but let’s not confound them.”

Robert Zeigler, Director of the IRRI, Praises BRICS and AIIB as Crucial for Transforming Rural Development Worldwide

| 0 comments

Sep. 27, 2014 (EIRNS)–Dr. Robert Zeigler, Director of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, based in the Philippines) for the past ten years, said on Sept. 25 that the New Development Bank of the BRICS and the Chinese-initiated AIIB have the potential to “transform rural societies.” Speaking at a Brookings Institute event, Dr. Zeigler said in his presentation that the world was already in the opening stages of a new “Green Revolution,” with new technologies (which allow for flood resistant and drought resistant capacities in the same breed of rice, among others). The problem, he said, was to get farmers to understand and agree to utilize these discoveries.

Asked by EIR how the BRICS and AIIB will affect the global food crisis, he said that the creation of new infrastructure, especially in transportation, will “make farmers far more open to the new technologies, because of the enhanced connectivity to markets.” He said he has seen this opening to new technologies in areas where the necessary infrastructure has been developed.

Another questioner noted that the G-20 had made food security a leading item for development, but that it never went anywhere (“You noticed,” responded Dr. Zeigler), and that the upcoming Millennium Goals meetings will likely get the same result, so what should be done?

Dr. Zeigler hit directly on the failed global economic system: “All the arm-waving at the global fora has produced no results. The bureaucrats re-package existing money and call that their contribution. To transform the system, you need a SOLID RESEARCH BASE, long term, both internationally and in the national systems, together with an education system to generate the needed scientists, making it a viable career for our youth. {If you let the private sector make all the decisions, you are in trouble.} Wall Street looks at the immediate return on investment, not what is best for society.” He brought down the house when he added: “Look at the pharmaceutical industry, left largely to the private sector–we get Rogaine and Viagra, but no cure for Ebola!”

He also complained, as he has for many years, that the governments around the world which once funded the IRRI and other agriculture research centers has massively gutted that funding, leaving them “working on a shoestring budget.” See Dr. Zeigler in EIR:

“Meeting the Challenge of Expanded Rice Production,” May 10, 2013 http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2013/eirv40n19-20130510/30-35_4019.pdf

“Rice–Scientific Breakthroughs to Transform Agriculture,” May 17, 2013 http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2013/eirv40n20-20130517/08-18_4020.pdf

Interview March 2, 2007, http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2007/eirv34n09-20070302/54_709_interview.pdf )

Is Enterovirus America’s Ebola?

| 0 comments

Sept. 27, 2014 (EIRNS)–As the deadly Ebola virus sweeps across Africa, Americans continue to be assured that there is no real danger of the epidemic spreading to the U.S.  Aside from the fact that that is a total lie, the truth is that Americans have more immediate infections they should be worried about.

As the long-term effects of the economic breakdown assert themselves, health officials are sounding the alarm as previously dormant infections are not only reasserting themselves, but doing so in a far more virulent form than seen previously.  One such case is enterovirus D68.

Enteroviruses are a genus of positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses associated with several human and mammalian diseases, the best known being polio. Serologic studies have distinguished 68 human enterovirus serotypes on the basis of antibody neutralization tests. The D68 strain is a severe respiratory infection that strikes primarily children.

The rare strain starts out with symptoms similar to the common cold: a runny nose and a cough. It quickly turns more serious, especially in children with asthma, landing its victims in intensive care.  In recent cases, the virus is also causing paralysis, leading infectious disease specialists to wonder if they are dealing with a new, even more virulent strain than D68.

Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is only reporting a couple of hundred confirmed enterovirus cases, public health officials and medical practitioners warn that this number does not in any way reflect the true number of people who are infected or sick, since the CDC doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report cases of enterovirus D68 infection.

According to Dr. Claudia Hoyen at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, enterovirus D68 has probably affected thousands of children in Cleveland, Ohio, alone. She says about 20 children typically go to the intensive care unit each month with respiratory symptoms indicating enterovirus D68 infection at her hospital alone. Hoyen says the intensive care unit there has treated 80 children each month for the last two months.

Reports from Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Utah tell similar stories.

Until now, EV-D68 was an uncommon member of the enterovirus family of microorganisms. You know a few of its relatives–Rhinovirus (culprit of the common cold), Coxsackievirus (famous for hand foot mouth disease) and, as mentioned, Poliovirus. Discovered in 1962, EV-D68 has kept a relatively low profile, causing only six small outbreaks between 2005 and 2011 in the Philippines, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. Because it was rare, very few laboratories are set up to test for EV-D68, which also explains why we have no idea as to the full scope of this emerging epidemic.

Health officials continue to tell parents “not to panic” if their children begin to exhibit severe wheezing and/or difficulty breathing, BUT they urge them to visit an urgent care center or emergency department with experience treating children immediately. If that isn’t possible, parents are urged to call 911.

There was a time, not so long ago, when viral-mediated diseases like smallpox and measles and polio wreaked havoc on American children. Thanks to immunizations, those days seemed largely behind us. However, the rapid-fire spread of EV-D68 is a clear example of how fast and furious infectious disease can roam through an unprotected community. The rapid spread of this dangerous virus, for which there is no vaccine or anti-viral medication available, should serve as a wake up call for all of us.