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Alger H.,The Pew Charitable Trusts | Alger H.,American Heart Association | Momcilovic D.,U.S. Food and Drug Administration | Carlander D.,Nanotechnology Industries Assoc | Duncan T.V.,U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety | Year: 2014

This article is one of a series of 4 that report on a task of the NanoRelease Food Additive project of the International Life Science Institute Center for Risk Science Innovation and Application to identify, evaluate, and develop methods that are needed to confidently detect, characterize, and quantify intentionally produced engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) released from food along the alimentary tract. This particular article focuses on the problem of detecting and characterizing ENMs in the various compartments of the alimentary tract after they have been ingested from dietary sources. An in depth analysis of the literature related to oral toxicity of ENMs is presented, paying particular attention to analytical methodology and sample preparation. The review includes a discussion of model systems that can be used to study oral uptake of ENMs in the absence of human toxicological data or other live-animal studies. The strengths and weaknesses of various analytical and sample preparation techniques are discussed. The article concludes with a summary of findings and a discussion of potential knowledge gaps and targets for method development in this area. Published 2014. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

News Article | November 9, 2015
Site: www.renewableenergyworld.com

Brazil has long been at the forefront of the clean technology revolution. With an abundance of raw materials and a large potential wind market, Brazil has seen a 19 percent increase in renewable energy capacity over the past five years according to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ 2013 Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race report. In addition, with $3.1 billion in clean technology investments in 2013, Brazil is home to a growing business environment that many U.S. clean technology companies are keen to capitalize on.

News Article | April 20, 2016
Site: www.rdmag.com

The latest scientific assessment paints a likely bleak future for the Pacific bluefin tuna, a sushi lovers' favorite whose population has dropped by more than 97 percent from its historic levels. A draft summary of a report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean seen by The Associated Press shows the current population of bluefin tuna is estimated at 2.6 percent of its "unfished" size. A previous assessment put the population at an already dire 4.2 percent. Overfishing has continued despite calls to reduce catches to allow the species to recover. In some areas, bluefin tuna is harvested at triple the levels considered to be sustainable. "The situation is really as bad as it appears," said Amanda Nickson, director for Global Tuna Conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts. Limits imposed after the previous estimates actually allowed some countries to up their catches, she said. "If those managers again fail to act in a conservation-minded way this time, it may be time for other actions, such as an international trade ban or complete fishing moratorium," Nickson said. The independent scientists who compiled the report said improved data make them more confident in their latest estimates than in previous ones. The report is due to be reviewed by the committee in July. The report estimated that in 2014, the total recruitment level of the fish, or the percentage of new fish that survive each year, was below 3.7 million fish, the second lowest level ever. Under current levels of reproduction and management of the fisheries in the Pacific, the likelihood of rebuilding stocks to healthy levels is only 0.1 percent, the report says. Cutting catches by a fifth would improve those odds to only 3 percent. Japanese eat about 80 percent of all bluefin tuna caught worldwide, and stocks of all three bluefin species — the Pacific, Southern and Atlantic — have fallen over the past 15 years as demand for the luscious, buttery pink-to-red fleshed fish has soared globally. Organizations charged with helping to manage bluefin fisheries have set a goal of rebuilding the species' population to 6.4 percent, or 42,592 metric tons, of unfished levels by 2024. But 6.4 percent levels for a species like the Pacific bluefin, which can live for up to 40 years, are no guarantee of a recovery. Many experts believe 20 percent of historic levels is the minimum size for a sustainable fishery. The international body that monitors fisheries in most of the Pacific Ocean, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, was unable to reach consensus last year on either short-term or long-term measures to help restore the bluefin population. In Europe, officials have agreed last month on implementing a recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. A next step by conservationists could include efforts to get Pacific bluefin tuna banned from international trading. Pacific bluefin tuna are spawned in the western parts of the northern Pacific but migrate throughout the ocean, complicating management of catches. The population of the species is estimated to have peaked in 1960. An earlier estimate put the 2014 population of the bluefin at 26,000 tons. The most recent reduced that estimate by 9,000 tons, to 17,000 tons. If the population of Pacific bluefins drops much further, it may no longer be economically feasible to fish for them. At that point, "Pacific bluefin would be considered commercially extinct," Nickson said.

The Pew Charitable Trusts said the bluefin and bigeye tuna species could become severely depleted due to inaction by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. Critics said a commission meeting, which wrapped up in the Indonesian island of Bali late Tuesday, also did nothing to prevent shark-finning and illegal fishing. "It's unbelievable that faced with scientific evidence on the alarming state of the Pacific's remaining tuna stocks, the countries here have done nothing to help their conservation," Greenpeace delegation head Lagi Toribau said. The Pacific is the world's largest tuna fishery, accounting for almost 60 percent of the global catch and generating about $6 billion a year. But its stocks are dwindling and conservationists say urgent action is needed to ensure the fishery remains viable. Much of the discussion at this year's meeting centred on saving bigeye tuna, which scientists estimate has fallen to just 16 percent of its "unfished biomass"—the population level before industrialised fishing began. Pew's Amanda Nickson said there was great concern that scientific advice was being ignored on conserving bigeye and bluefin—which is at just four percent of unfished biomass. "After another year with no action, the sustainability of the world's largest tuna fishing grounds remains in question," she said. The stalemate stems from the differing interests of the commission's main players—small Pacific island nations and so-called "distant-water fishing nations". The distant-water nations come from as far afield as Europe, China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan to fish Pacific tuna. The island nations accuse them of being reluctant to curb the lucrative industry in the interests of long-term conservation. "This is a very complex environment with so many different interests and sub-regional interests," said European Union head delegate Angela Martini. "The management measures that have been adopted here are not commensurate with the gravity of the issue. The situation is extremely serious."

News Article | March 24, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Last week, San Francisco residents found that their regional rail service, the BART, was experiencing systemwide delays and thwarting commutes. Such service problems aren't unusual. In response to the news, for example, one rider tweeted, “we've come to expect rush-hour equipment problems and train delays from you [BART]. What you're saying is that today ends with '-day'.” What was uncommon was the response from @SFBART, the service's official Twitter account, which happened to be run that day by employee Taylor Huckaby. Instead of merely apologizing, Huckaby explained. “BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality,” he tweeted. “We have 3 hours a night to do maintenance on a system built to serve 100k per week that now serves 430k per day. #ThisIsOurReality” While Huckaby’s response was taken by many as a refreshing bit of candor from a public agency, others were more cynical. SF Weekly's Chris Roberts equated Huckaby’s BART sanctioned “real talk” to a long con on the part of BART designed to raise enough political will to pass a $3.5 billion dollar bond measure which BART says it needs to overhaul the system and make critical maintenance changes. The problems that Huckaby highlighted are real, however, and they aren’t limited to BART or to San Francisco. Nationwide mass transit systems are faltering. Washington, D.C. shut down its Metro for 29 hours last week, citing the need for critical repairs after an electrical fire halted its rail system. The shutdown left 700,000 commuters scrambling for alternative transportation and exacerbating the city’s already awful traffic. Over the next year, New York City's MTA is closing 30 subway stations to fast track overdue repairs. Boston’s T is plagued with maintenance problems that became particularly acute during the winter of 2015 when snow and cold crippled service for a month. And all of this is happening at a time when more of us are riding public transportation than ever before. In 2014 Americans took 10.8 billion rides on mass transit—the highest number of rides in 58 years, according to the American Public Transit Administration (APTA), a mass transit advocacy group. APTA’s data reflects much of what Huckaby tweeted: Between 1995 and 2014, mass transit ridership increased 39 percent nationwide, while driving peaked in the mid-2000s. This shift to mass transit isn’t happening just in cities with established mass transit systems like New York and San Francisco. It’s also happening in cities that we don’t necessarily equate with mass transit—cities like Atlanta, Houston, and Salt Lake City. If BART and Huckaby are trying to manipulate riders into voting for increased financing—and they claim they're not—you can hardly blame them. Mass transit is starved for cash. The money that funds mass transit, whether it's bus, train, light rail, or trolley, comes from a mix of four sources: riders, federal subsidies, state subsidies, and local transit support, usually through property taxes. And all of them are shrinking. On the federal side, most of that money comes from the federal gas tax: 18.4 cents on a gallon of regular gas 24.3 cents on the gallon for diesel, with 81-percent going to fund highways and the remaining 19 percent going to mass transit. That’s right—mass transit depends on people driving cars for a significant portion of its federal funding. Unfortunately the Highway Trust Fund is perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. The fund was designed to collect the gas tax and dispense it to states and municipalities to spend on their transit projects. The money collected was to roughly equal the money dispensed minus reserves. Since 2008, however, the fund has spent more than it's received. The issue is that while costs, partly due to inflation, have increased the gas tax has remained the same since 1993, not keeping pace with inflation. At the same time, cars become more efficient, which means people are buying fewer gallons of gas. The end result is less funding for transit, and a find that's only managed to stay afloat this far through congressional dispensation. “There have been substantial declines in the gas tax between 2002 and 2012,” said Phil Oliff, a manager at The Pew Charitable Trusts and an author on a 2014 Pew study that looks at transportation funding. “When you adjust for inflation, the gas tax has declined about 31 percent at the federal level and 19 percent at the state level.” This leaves little money for the maintenance necessary to keep mass transit systems going, nevermind the expansions necessary to move increasing numbers of riders. This isn’t a problem just for mass transit, but when you’re drawing from a smaller pool of money in the first place, its impact is more acute. When combined with the fact that, at every level of governance the percentage of dollars we direct to highways exceeds what we spend on mass transit, it becomes apparent that not only does mass transit receive a smaller percentage of the pie, but that pie is shrinking. This isn’t just a problem for mass transit riders, it's a problem for drivers too. Quality mass transit trumps road building when it comes to reducing traffic. In fact, planners and economists call road building “induced demand” because it encourages people to hop into their cars instead of walking or taking mass transit. Cities like New York don’t have high rates of mass transit ridership simply because they have broad comprehensive systems, but because driving in New York City is frequently more expensive and slower than alternatives. “Bringing cars off of the roads, both saves money in terms of road building and road requirements,” said Glen Weisbrod, whose company, Economic Development Research Group, Inc., researches the economic impact of a range of development projects including mass transit. Each time mass transit proves itself be less reliable, however, it creates an incentive for people to take to the roads. Why not simply have the riders bear the full cost of the system? After all on average, the cost of a BART fare covers 68 percent of the cost of a ride, more than that of most transit systems. Subsidies make up the rest. But even if riders bore 100 percent of the cost, this would only cover the cost of daily ridership, not long-term maintenance and capital improvements. Additionally, there’s a tipping point at which transit costs will push people back into cars, and road building as already mentioned does nothing to combat traffic while also being still more costly. Finally, there’s the issue of fairness: Drivers don’t bear the full cost of roadways, so why should mass transit riders bear the full cost of mass transit? A 2015 US PIRG study found that user revenue only covered 48 percent of the costs of roads. General taxpayers, and bond dollars filled in the remaining 52 percent. The way we talk about mass transit funding could leave one with the distinct impression that it’s a burden, not a boon. “Public transportation is seen as having three kinds of benefits social, economic, and environmental,” said Weisbrod. Socially, mass transit benefits the many people who can’t (or shouldn’t) drive: children, the elderly, the blind, and St. Paddy’s day revelers. Environmentally, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and economically, Weisbrod found that for every $1 billion of annual investment in public transportation leads lead to more than $1.7 billion of net annual additional GDP, most of which stays in the local community. To get those benefits, we need to have mass transit that’s reliable and responsive to people’s needs. And for that, we need proper funding. “It’s important to understand financing isn’t funding,” said Oliff. “Financing measures like municipal bonds, infrastructure banks, and public private partners are not by themselves the solution to the country’s transportation funding challenges. Financing is an important tool, but at the end of the day they need to be repaid using revenue sources like taxes tolls or fees.” And that means getting serious about funding mass transit.

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