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Laland K.N.,Center for Biological Diversity
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2017

November 7-9, 2016 witnessed a joint discussion meeting of the Royal Society and the British Academy (the UK national academies for the sciences and social sciences, respectively) entitled 'New Trends in Evolutionary Biology: Biological, Philosophical and Social Science Perspectives'. The meeting, anticipated with a mix of feverish enthusiasm and dread, sold out months in advance, the eager audience perhaps expecting radical and traditional evolutionists to go toe to toe, rather than the constructive dialogue among biologists, social scientists, and researchers in the humanities that the academies advertised. One issue under discussion was whether or not the explanatory core of evolutionary biology requires updating in the light on recent advances in evo-devo, epigenetics, ecosystem ecology, and elsewhere. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Donald Trump has triggered a review of protections that cover more than a billion acres of US public land and waters in a move that could potentially rescind the designation of several national monuments declared by previous presidents. Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order relating to the Antiquities Act, a law introduced by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906 which gives presidents the ability to name areas of federal land and waters as national monuments. The order directs Ryan Zinke, the secretary of the interior, to review about 30 national monuments that are larger than 100,000 acres and have been declared since 1996. Zinke will recommend if any monuments should be “rescinded, modified or resized”. No national monument’s status has ever been revoked previously and any attempt to cancel or shrink a protected area would almost certainly spark a legal battle waged by environmental groups. At the signing of the executive order at the Interior Department, Trump said it would “end another egregious abuse of federal power”. “I’ve spoken with many state and local leaders, a number of them here today, who care very much about preserving our land, and who are gravely concerned about this massive federal land grab,” he said. “And it’s gotten worse and worse and worse, and now we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. This should never have happened.” Zinke said: “In some cases national monuments have resulted in the loss of jobs, reduced wages and loss of public access. We feel the public, the people the monuments affect, should be considered and given a meaningful voice. “As a kid I grew up in Montana, in the west, where a lot of these monuments have taken place. This executive order is long overdue.” Zinke said the review did not have any preordained outcome and insisted that “no one loves our public lands more than me”. “I’m a lifetime supporter and admirer of Teddy Roosevelt and the president is the same,” Zinke said. National monuments have been declared by presidents of both major parties but Republicans have been angered by what they saw as overreach by Bill Clinton and, in particular, Barack Obama. During his presidency, Obama named 24 monuments on land and sea spanning more than 550m acres – more than double that set aside by Roosevelt, a well-known conservationist. During his final month in office, Obama designated 1.35m acres of southern Utah as the Bears Ears national monument. The designation, applauded by several tribal leaders who regard the area as sacred, protects an area that includes twin buttes that resemble a bear raising its head. Republicans from Utah vigorously opposed the designation and Zinke’s review will initially focus on Bears Ears. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Orrin Hatch, a senator from Utah, said Obama “betrayed” people in the state in order to “satisfy the demands of far-left interest groups”. “President Trump understands better than anyone the lasting damage wrought by past presidents under the Antiquities Act – and he stands ready to undo the harm brought about by their overreach,” Hatch wrote. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican congressman, has also raised the issue with Trump while Rob Bishop, chairman of the House committee on natural resources, has said the Bears Ears monument is the wrong size and should allow for activities such as grazing or oil and gas drilling. According for the Center for Biological Diversity, a review of national monuments since 1996 would encompass more than one billion acres of land and water set aside by Clinton, George W Bush and Obama. The vast majority of this total is made up of marine reserves – such as the expansion of the huge Papahānaumokuākea monument in Hawaii by Obama last year – but also includes land-based monuments considered contentious by Republicans. The Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument in Utah, the Cascade-Siskiyou national monument in Oregon and the Rio Grande del Norte national monument in New Mexico are among those that will be particularly scrutinized. Environmentalists argue that these areas protect wildlife such as the bald eagle, moose, bear and lynx, safeguard cultural heritage and aid local economies by boosting tourism. “This is a frightening step toward dismantling protections for some of America’s most important and iconic places: our national parks and monuments,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “President Trump is tapping into the rightwing, anti-public-land zealotry that will take us down a very dangerous path – a place where Americans no longer have control over public lands and corporations are left to log, mine and bulldoze them into oblivion. It starts with Bears Ears and Grand Staircase and only gets worse from there.” An initial report, centered largely on Bears Ears, will be submitted by the Department of Interior within 45 days. A full set of recommendations to the White House will be delivered within 120 days. It is expected that Trump will follow up the executive order with a further decree on Friday that will revisit Obama’s banning of offshore drilling in the Atlantic and parts of the Arctic. Trump has vowed to “unleash” energy development, mainly oil, gas and coal, by demolishing various environmental protections erected by Obama’s administration. A ban on coal companies dumping waste into streams has been revoked, while air and water pollution standards are set to be rewritten by the Environmental Protection Agency. Obama’s clean power plan, which would limit emissions from coal-fired power plants, is also slated for abolition, while a pause on coalmining on public lands has been lifted. This month, Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA, toured a Pennsylvania mine that had to pay out $3m last year for allowing contaminated wastewater to flow into the Ohio river. During the visit Pruitt said the “war on coal is over” and outlined a vision of deregulation and economic growth for mining communities. The malaise suffered by the coal industry has largely been caused by the availability of cheap, abundant natural gas rather than onerous environmental restrictions, according to several analysts.


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.latimes.com

Enthusiasm for science runs so deep in Los Angeles that a March for Science was organized here not once but twice. One of those times was a week after the presidential inauguration. Jennifer Wheeler was scrolling through her Facebook feed at the Temple City Library while her 2-year-old played in the toy area and her 6-month-old napped in the stroller. The more she read about the newly implemented gag orders at the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service, the more alarmed she became. Then an alert flashed on her screen. A friend from Colorado had joined a March for Science group on the social media site. Intrigued, Wheeler looked to see whether there was a March for Science group in Los Angeles. There wasn’t. And so, right there in the library, she started one. “I invited my husband to join the group, and I said, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s make this happen,’” said Wheeler, a former health policy analyst who now describes herself as a stay-at-home mom. Meanwhile, across the city, Alex Bradley, a PhD candidate in molecular biology at UCLA, was having lunch with a friend and venting his frustrations about politicians who ignore scientific research. Again. “I think I was putting him to sleep,” he said. In the midst of his rant, Bradley’s friend glanced at his phone and saw that he had just been invited to attend a March for Science in San Diego. Bradley was inspired. He had a newborn to tend to at home, and research on fruit fly oocytes to work on in his lab. But as soon as the lunch was over, he set up a private Facebook page for March for Science LA. By the end of the day the group had 2,000 members. “I was just so fed up with not doing anything,” he said. “And it seemed to me that if I was going to do something, this is one of the best opportunities I would have to make a change.” It didn’t take Wheeler and Bradley long to discover their separate efforts and decide to join forces. Since then, they’ve been joined by an array of volunteers, including lawyers, community organizers, graphic designers and social media managers. They expect thousands to join them Saturday to march from Pershing Square to City Hall and back. The lineup of speakers includes celebrity seismologist Lucy Jones, billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer and Oscar-nominated “Hidden Figures” screenwriter Allison Schroeder. (Steyer’s nonprofit group, NextGen Climate America, is one of the primary funders of the march.) “To me, scientists are unsung heroes,” Schroeder said. “They do extraordinary work, but it may not seem as exciting as being an athlete or actor or singer. This is one way to say we support you and we believe in what you do and keep doing it.” More than 500 cities around the world will host a March for Science on Saturday. The main event will take place on the National Mall in Washington, headlined by science-enthusiast-in-chief Bill Nye and an array of scientific researchers. In California, marches will occur in 41 places, including the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. The organizers of the Los Angeles march have been working together online, mainly nights and weekends. A few of them have done something like this before. Most of them have not. “They are just happy to put their energy into something positive,” Wheeler said. Though the marches will make a political point — calling on elected officials and policymakers to fund science that enhances the common good and to rely on scientific evidence when making decisions on behalf of the country — they are intended to be nonpartisan. Still, it’s no coincidence that the event falls within the first 100 days of an administration that seeks drastic cuts to the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. Top officials are openly skeptical of the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. Wheeler and Bradley know that a one-day march for science may not change anything on its own, but they are OK with that. They see their event as the beginning of a conversation. “We want people to enjoy a moment of communal energy that says, value science, dammit!” Bradley said. “But we also want to funnel all this energy into productive action.” To that end, Wheeler and her husband, Philip, a business development manager in the pharmaceutical industry, have also organized a science expo at Pershing Square that will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will include science demonstrations for kids, teach-ins by local universities and media training for scientists. “We really wanted learning to be a component of this,” Jennifer Wheeler said. There will also be booths run by the American Lung Assn., the Center for Biological Diversity and the Los Angeles chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. In some ways, Bradley said, the March for Science movement has already achieved his main goal of amassing bipartisan support for scientific research. He noted that Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, endorsed the March for Science in Atlanta. “Science is not just for us in ivory towers, or for the liberal elite, and it’s not opinion,” he said. “We want to make it known that there are Republicans and Democrats doing science and we all recognize its value.” Do you love science? I do! Follow me @DeborahNetburn and "like" Los Angeles Times Science & Health on Facebook. A rocky ‘super-Earth’ with the potential for liquid water is found 39 light-years away


News Article | April 28, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday to extend offshore oil and gas drilling to areas that have been off limits - a move meant to boost domestic production but which could fall flat due to weak industry demand for the acreage. The order could open up swathes of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans, as well as the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, that former President Barack Obama had sought to protect from development after a huge BP oil spill in 2010. "We're opening it up....Today we're unleashing American energy and clearing the way for thousands and thousands of high-paying American energy jobs," Trump said as he signed the order. Trump had campaigned on a promise to do away with Obama-era environmental protections that he said were hobbling energy development without providing tangible benefits, pleasing industry and enraging environmental advocates. But the executive order, called the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy, comes as low oil prices and soaring onshore production have pushed industry demand for offshore leases near their lowest level in years, raising questions over the impact. A Reuters review of government data showed the amount of money that oil companies spent in the central Gulf of Mexico's annual lease sale dropped more than 75 percent between 2012 and 2017. Dollars bid per acre and the percentage of acreage receiving bids both declined more than 50 percent. The figures were similar in the western Gulf of Mexico, the only other zone that got offers for leases during that period, according to the figures from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. "The Trump administration’s hasty move today toward expanding offshore oil drilling ... defies market realities and is as reckless as it is unnecessary," said David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, a non-profit conservation group. "Why on earth would someone choose to push drilling in the riskiest and most expensive places on the planet when the current oil glut will make such ventures unprofitable for the foreseeable future?" he said. The president of the American Petroleum Institute trade group welcomed the order in a statement, while an API official said the order could help the industry over the long term. The official did not respond to a request for comment directly about current offshore lease demand. "In order to meet U.S. energy needs, it is important to keep options open for the long term, so industry can start planning for and determining where the best prospects are and then make those investments the global economy will require over time," the official said, asking not to be named. The order directs the U.S. Department of Interior to review and replace the Obama administration's most recent five-year oil and gas development plan for the outer continental shelf, which includes federal waters off all U.S. coasts. Weeks before leaving office, Obama had banned new oil and gas drilling in federal waters in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, protecting 115 million acres (46.5 million hectares) of waters off Alaska and 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic from New England to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to requiring a new five-year drilling plan, the order reverses Obama's decision to place certain parts of the Arctic permanently off limits to drilling. It also requires Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to review previous presidents' designations of marine national monuments and sanctuaries. Jill McLeod, a partner at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, said Trump's order was a positive signal to the oil industry but was unlikely to trigger a surge in exploration in the near term given the costs. "The lifting of the ban does not necessarily make drilling in the Arctic a compelling proposition," she said. Environmental groups, including Oceana and the Center for Biological Diversity, criticized the order and promised to fight it in court. Democratic senators also opposed the order, saying it could threaten the fishing and tourism industries. Friday's order came on the heels of a separate decree by Trump this week triggering a review of federally managed land to determine if they were improperly designated as national monuments by former presidents. The move is intended to expand federal areas available for development.


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

After becoming the first group to legally challenge President Donald Trump's proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration Thursday for repealing protections for wolves, bears and other predatory animals that live on Alaska’s national preserves. By filing the lawsuit, the group challenged the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act, which the Republican-controlled Congress used in February to dismantle a rule made by the administration of the former President Barack Obama. The rule limited the hunting of animals such as wolves, bears and other wildlife in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges. Trump is not new to litigations because when he was a businessman he has had as many as 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades against him. And after he took office, he had been named in more than 50 lawsuits in just over two weeks, according to reports. In January, the city of San Francisco, became the first city in the U.S. to file a lawsuit over Trump's executive order targeting sanctuary cities. They claimed that Trump’s executive order restricting federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants is unconstitutional, according to CNN. Following the travel ban executive order of Trump, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed multiple lawsuits around the country with different plaintiffs who were affected by the travel ban, reports said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced January it has filed a lawsuit challenging Trump's executive order on refugees. They claimed the travel ban is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds because it creates "favored and disfavored groups based on their faith." In January, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a lawsuit against Trump for violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments. The foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution prohibits Trump from receiving any financial support from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress.


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. Lawyers representing Dow, whose CEO also heads a White House manufacturing working group, and two other makers of organophosphates sent letters last week to the heads of three Cabinet agencies. The companies asked them "to set aside" the results of government studies the companies contend are fundamentally flawed. The letters, dated April 13, were obtained by The Associated Press. Dow Chemical chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to President Donald Trump. The company wrote a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump's inaugural festivities. Over the last four years, government scientists have compiled an official record running more than 10,000 pages showing the three pesticides under review — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — pose a risk to nearly every endangered species they studied. Regulators at the three federal agencies, which share responsibilities for enforcing the Endangered Species Act, are close to issuing findings expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used. The industry's request comes after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced last month he was reversing an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow's chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children's brains. In his prior job as Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt often aligned himself in legal disputes with the interests of executives and corporations who supported his state campaigns. He filed more than one dozen lawsuits seeking to overturn some of the same regulations he is now charged with enforcing. Pruitt declined to answer questions from reporters Wednesday as he toured a polluted Superfund site in Indiana. A spokesman for the agency later told AP that Pruitt won't "prejudge" any potential rule-making decisions as "we are trying to restore regulatory sanity to EPA's work." "We have had no meetings with Dow on this topic and we are reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policymaking," said J.P. Freire, EPA's associate administrator for public affairs. "The administrator is committed to listening to stakeholders affected by EPA's regulations, while also reviewing past decisions." The office of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Natural Marine Fisheries Service, did not respond to emailed questions. A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, referred questions back to EPA. As with the recent human studies of chlorpyrifos, Dow hired its own scientists to produce a lengthy rebuttal to the government studies showing the risks posed to endangered species by organophosphates. The EPA's recent biological evaluation of chlorpyrifos found the pesticide is "likely to adversely affect" 1,778 of the 1,835 animals and plants accessed as part of its study, including critically endangered or threatened species of frogs, fish, birds and mammals. Similar results were shown for malathion and diazinon. In a statement, the Dow subsidiary that sells chlorpyrifos said its lawyers asked for the EPA's biological assessment to be withdrawn because its "scientific basis was not reliable." "Dow AgroSciences is committed to the production and marketing of products that will help American farmers feed the world, and do so with full respect for human health and the environment, including endangered and threatened species," the statement said. "These letters, and the detailed scientific analyses that support them, demonstrate that commitment." FMC Corp., which sells malathion, said the withdrawal of the EPA studies will allow the necessary time for the "best available" scientific data to be compiled. "Malathion is a critical tool in protecting agriculture from damaging pests," the company said. Diazinon maker Makhteshim Agan of North America Inc., which does business under the name Adama, did not respond to emails seeking comment. Environmental advocates were not surprised the companies might seek to forestall new regulations that might hurt their profits, but said Wednesday that criticism of the government's scientists was unfounded. The methods used to conduct EPA's biological evaluations were developed by the National Academy of Sciences. Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said Dow's experts were trying to hold EPA scientists to an unrealistic standard of data collection that could only be achieved under "perfect laboratory conditions." "You can't just take an endangered fish out of the wild, take it to the lab and then expose it to enough pesticides until it dies to get that sort of data," Hartl said. "It's wrong morally, and it's illegal." Originally derived from a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany, chlorpyrifos has been sprayed on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops for decades. It is among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with Dow selling about 5 million pounds domestically each year. As a result, traces of the chemical are commonly found in sources of drinking water. A 2012 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of chlorpyrifos. In 2005, the Bush administration ordered an end to residential use of diazinon to kill yard pests such as ants and grub worms after determining that it poses a human health risk, particularly to children. However it is still approved for use by farmers, who spray it on fruits and vegetables. Malathion is widely sprayed to control mosquitoes and fruit flies. It is also an active ingredient in some shampoos prescribed to children for treating lice. A coalition of environmental groups has fought in court for years to spur EPA to more closely examine the risk posed to humans and endangered species by pesticides, especially organophosphates. "Endangered species are the canary in the coal mine," Hartl said. Since many of the threatened species are aquatic, he said they are often the first to show the effects of long-term chemical contamination in rivers and lakes used as sources of drinking water by humans. Dow, which spent more than $13.6 million on lobbying in 2016, has long wielded substantial political power in the nation's capital. There is no indication the chemical giant's influence has waned. When Trump signed an executive order in February mandating the creation of task forces at federal agencies to roll back government regulations, Dow's chief executive was at Trump's side. "Andrew, I would like to thank you for initially getting the group together and for the fantastic job you've done," Trump said as he signed the order during an Oval Office ceremony. The president then handed his pen to Liveris to keep as a souvenir. Rachelle Schikorra, the director of public affairs for Dow Chemical, said any suggestion that the company's $1 million donation to Trump's inaugural committee was intended to help influence regulatory decisions made by the new administration is "completely off the mark." "Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws," Schikorra said. "Dow maintains and is committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in all such activity."


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: www.biosciencetechnology.com

Dow Chemical is pushing a Trump administration open to scrapping regulations to ignore the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species. Lawyers representing Dow, whose CEO is a close adviser to Trump, and two other manufacturers of organophosphates sent letters last week to the heads of three of Trump's Cabinet agencies. The companies asked them "to set aside" the results of government studies the companies contend are fundamentally flawed. Dow Chemical wrote a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump's inaugural festivities, and its chairman and CEO, Andrew Liveris, heads a White House manufacturing working group. The industry's request comes after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced last month he was reversing an Obama-era effort to bar the use of Dow's chlorpyrifos pesticide on food after recent peer-reviewed studies found that even tiny levels of exposure could hinder the development of children's brains. In his prior job as Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt often aligned himself in legal disputes with the interests of executives and corporations who supported his state campaigns. He filed more than a dozen lawsuits seeking to overturn some of the same regulations he is now charged with enforcing. Pruitt declined to answer questions from reporters Wednesday as he toured a polluted Superfund site in Indiana. A spokesman for the agency later told AP that Pruitt won't "prejudge" any potential rule-making decisions as "we are trying to restore regulatory sanity to EPA's work." The letters to Cabinet heads, dated April 13, were obtained by The Associated Press. As with the recent human studies of chlorpyrifos, Dow hired its own scientists to produce a lengthy rebuttal to the government studies. Over the past four years, government scientists have compiled an official record running more than 10,000 pages indicating the three pesticides under review - chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion - pose a risk to nearly every endangered species they studied. Regulators at the three federal agencies, which share responsibilities for enforcing the Endangered Species Act, are close to issuing findings expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used. "We have had no meetings with Dow on this topic and we are reviewing petitions as they come in, giving careful consideration to sound science and good policymaking," said J.P. Freire, EPA's associate administrator for public affairs. "The administrator is committed to listening to stakeholders affected by EPA's regulations, while also reviewing past decisions." The office of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Natural Marine Fisheries Service, did not respond to emailed questions. A spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, referred questions back to EPA. The EPA's recent biological evaluation of chlorpyrifos found the pesticide is "likely to adversely affect" 1,778 of the 1,835 animals and plants accessed as part of its study, including critically endangered or threatened species of frogs, fish, birds and mammals. Similar results were shown for malathion and diazinon. In a statement, the Dow subsidiary that sells chlorpyrifos said its lawyers asked for the EPA's biological assessment to be withdrawn because its "scientific basis was not reliable." "Dow AgroSciences is committed to the production and marketing of products that will help American farmers feed the world, and do so with full respect for human health and the environment, including endangered and threatened species," the statement said. "These letters, and the detailed scientific analyses that support them, demonstrate that commitment." FMC Corp., which sells malathion, said the withdrawal of the EPA studies would allow the necessary time for the "best available" scientific data to be compiled. "Malathion is a critical tool in protecting agriculture from damaging pests," the company said. Diazinon maker Makhteshim Agan of North America Inc., which does business under the name Adama, did not respond to emails seeking comment. Environmental advocates said Wednesday that criticism of the government's scientists was unfounded. The methods used to conduct EPA's biological evaluations were developed by the National Academy of Sciences. Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said Dow's experts were trying to hold EPA scientists to an unrealistic standard of data collection that could only be achieved under "perfect laboratory conditions." "You can't just take an endangered fish out of the wild, take it to the lab and then expose it to enough pesticides until it dies to get that sort of data," Hartl said. "It's wrong morally, and it's illegal." Organophosphorus gas was originally developed as a chemical weapon by Nazi Germany. Dow has been selling Chlorpyrifos for spraying on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops since the 1960s. It is among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with Dow selling about 5 million pounds domestically each year. As a result, traces of the chemical are commonly found in sources of drinking water. A 2012 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of chlorpyrifos. In 2005, the Bush administration ordered an end to residential use of diazinon to kill yard pests such as ants and grub worms after determining that it poses a human health risk, particularly to children. However it is still approved for use by farmers, who spray it on fruits and vegetables. Malathion is widely sprayed to control mosquitoes and fruit flies. It is also an active ingredient in some shampoos prescribed to children for treating lice. A coalition of environmental groups has fought in court for years to spur EPA to more closely examine the risk posed to humans and endangered species by pesticides, especially organophosphates. "Endangered species are the canary in the coal mine," Hartl said. Since many of the threatened species are aquatic, he said they are often the first to show the effects of long-term chemical contamination in rivers and lakes used as sources of drinking water by humans. Dow, which spent more than $13.6 million on lobbying in 2016, has long wielded substantial political power in the nation's capital. There is no indication the chemical giant's influence has waned. When Trump signed an executive order in February mandating the creation of task forces at federal agencies to roll back government regulations, Dow's chief executive was at Trump's side. "Andrew, I would like to thank you for initially getting the group together and for the fantastic job you've done," Trump said as he signed the order during an Oval Office ceremony. The president then handed his pen to Liveris to keep as a souvenir. Rachelle Schikorra, the director of public affairs for Dow Chemical, said any suggestion that the company's $1 million donation to Trump's inaugural committee was intended to help influence regulatory decisions is "completely off the mark." "Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws," Schikorra said. "Dow maintains and is committed to the highest standard of ethical conduct in all such activity."


Evans D.,Center for Biological Diversity
Nature Conservation | Year: 2012

In the second half of the 20th Century there was a growing awareness of environmental problems, including the loss of species and habitats, resulting in many national and international initiatives, including the creation of organisations, such as the IUCN, treaties and conventions, such as Ramsar and the Berne Convention, and the establishment of networks of protected areas. Natura 2000 is a network of sites in the European Union for selected species and habitats listed in the 1979 Birds Directive and the 1992 Habitats Directive. Under the Habitats Directive a series of seminars and other meetings have been held with agreed criteria to ensure a coherent network. Despite both scientific and political difficulties the network is now nearing completion. © 2015 Copyright Douglas Evans.


Bailey N.W.,Center for Biological Diversity
Trends in Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2012

A variety of theoretical models incorporate phenotypes expressed in the external environment, but a core question is whether such traits generate dynamics that alter evolution. This has proven to be a challenging and controversial proposition. However, several recent modelling frameworks provide insight: indirect genetic effect (IGE) models, niche construction models, and evolutionary feedback models. These distinct approaches converge upon the observation that gene action at a distance generates feedback that expands the range of trait values and evolutionary rates that we should expect to observe in empirical studies. Such conceptual replication provides solid evidence that traits with extended effects have important evolutionary consequences, but more empirical work is needed to evaluate the predictive power of different modelling approaches. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Bailey N.W.,Center for Biological Diversity
G3 (Bethesda, Md.) | Year: 2013

Field crickets (family Gryllidae) frequently are used in studies of behavioral genetics, sexual selection, and sexual conflict, but there have been no studies of transcriptomic differences among different tissue types. We evaluated transcriptome variation among testis, accessory gland, and the remaining whole-body preparations from males of the field cricket, Teleogryllus oceanicus. Non-normalized cDNA libraries from each tissue were sequenced on the Roche 454 platform, and a master assembly was constructed using testis, accessory gland, and whole-body preparations. A total of 940,200 reads were assembled into 41,962 contigs, to which 36,856 singletons (reads not assembled into a contig) were added to provide a total of 78,818 sequences used in annotation analysis. A total of 59,072 sequences (75%) were unique to one of the three tissues. Testis tissue had the greatest proportion of tissue-specific sequences (62.6%), followed by general body (56.43%) and accessory gland tissue (44.16%). We tested the hypothesis that tissues expressing gene products expected to evolve rapidly as a result of sexual selection--testis and accessory gland--would yield a smaller proportion of BLASTx matches to homologous genes in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster compared with whole-body tissue. Uniquely expressed sequences in both testis and accessory gland showed a significantly lower rate of matching to annotated D. melanogaster genes compared with those from general body tissue. These results correspond with empirical evidence that genes expressed in testis and accessory gland tissue are rapidly evolving targets of selection.

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