Zero and the Honeybee – Sweet!

A couple days ago, a quite interesting study was published that claims to identify the fact that bees are capable of understanding the mathematical concept of “zero.”

The study reportedly confirms that the honeybee is fully capable of understanding the quantitative value of nothing. Not only that, but they are gifted with the ability to correctly place zero at the beginning of a line of sequential numbers: they can understand zero, one, two, ect.

Of all insects out there, this is supposed to be the first concrete evidence to prove that the brain of an insect has the capability of understanding the concept of zero. This discovery has implications for the understanding of insect brains, but it also has implications about the evolution of complex number processing in living beings, according to articles reporting on the study.

Scientists say there are four distinct stages of understanding the concept of zero in both animal learning, and human culture, psychology, and history.

Stage one is a being understanding that zero means the absence of something, such as zero food, or zero air. A simple amount of visual processing ability can probably ensure a being can understand zero at this level.

Stage two is when a living being understands the difference between “nothing” and “something” with the concept of zero. For example, the absence of daylight once the sun sets is an understanding of zero as “something” vs “nothing.”

Stage three of understanding zero is defined as an understanding of the fact that a numeric value can be assigned to zero, and that zero belongs at the low end of a chronological sequence of numbers. The number line goes zero, one, two, three ect.

Stage four, the most advanced stage, is when a being fully understands that zero can be assigned a symbolic representation of “nothing,” for example 3 – 3 = 0.

So where do honeybees fall in these categories? Honeybees have officially achieved stage three in that process.

Believe it or not, it’s an elite few species across the entirety of life that are capable of understanding “zero” to this degree. The ability to learn or spontaneously develop an understanding of the concept of zero has so far only been observed in honeybees, vervet monkeys, rhesus monkeys, one African gray parrot, and a single chimpanzee.

This is definitely the first time such an advanced understanding of mathematics has been observed in any insects.

So why is zero so important? Throughout the history of humanity, it has apparently been demonstrably significant for a culture to understand it.

For centuries, the concept of zero as a number with a quantitative value went unnoticed. One early example is the Chinese using counting rods to mark a blank space, to represent a place holder in values.

By 628AD as far as we know, zero had a written record and people recognized it as a number by itself. An Indian mathematician named Brahma Gupta wrote about this in his book Brahmasputha Siddhanta.

His work constituted the first written record to provide an actual framework for people doing math to use zero when making calculations.

(Image credit: pixabaybooksfact, huffingtonpost, sciencebuzz)

from:    https://themindunleashed.com/2018/06/study-proves-honeybees-can-understand-a-complex-mathematical-concept.html

USDA Censorship, Bee Populations, Corporate Lobbying

Is the USDA Just a Corporate Lobbyist Group?

Story at-a-glance

  • The USDA has come under increasing scrutiny following charges of harassment and censorship. Due to mounting complaints from scientists, the USDA inspector general is opening an investigation.
  • USDA whistleblower Jonathan Lundgren, Ph.D., claims he was retaliated against when he started talking about his research, which shows neonicotinoids cause decline in bee and Monarch butterfly populations.
  • Krysta Harden, former deputy secretary of the USDA, has been hired by chemical giant DuPont to head up its “public policy and government affairs strategies” department

By Dr. Mercola

Many, if not most, of our regulatory agencies have a long history of protecting industry interests over public and environmental health. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has come under increasing scrutiny following mounting charges of harassment and censorship.

In the first week of November 2015, Jonathan Lundgren, who spent the last 11 years working as an entomologist at the USDA, filed a whistleblower complaint against the agency, claiming he’d suffered retaliation after speaking out about research showing that neonicotinoids had adverse effects on bees.1

In the U.S., nearly all corn, about 90 percent of canola, and approximately half of all soybeans are treated with neonicotinoids. As the use of these pesticides has gone up, bee and Monarch butterfly populations have plummeted.

After publicly discussing his findings, Lundgren claims that “USDA managers blocked publication of his research, barred him from talking to the media, and disrupted operations at the laboratory he oversaw.”

The Washington Post recently published an article that details Lundgren’s complaints and the retaliation waged against him.2

According to Agri-Pulse,3 the Agriculture Department’s inspector general, Phyllis Fong, has now received so many complaints about harassment and censorship, she’s opening a broad investigation to assess “whether there is a systemic problem in the department.”

Charges of Censorship Mount Against USDA

Food and Water Watch4 recently followed up on this issue, noting that “when independent, government scientists produce research that threatens corporate agribusinesses, the USDA — according to at least 10 government scientists — censors the results, waters down the findings and punishes the researchers.”

Jonathan Lundgren is one of these 10 scientists. The other 9 have all chosen to remain anonymous for fear of even more reprisals.

Lundgren’s research at the USDA shows that neonicotinoids are instrumental in the decline of bee and Monarch butterfly populations. But his work, and his criticism against factory farming, goes even deeper than that.

He has become convinced and has spoken out about the fact that toxic insecticides like neonics are not some sort of necessary evil. We don’t actually need these types of chemicals at all in agriculture.

As he notes in the video above, organic or regenerative farming actually produces higher yields and requires less land. This, I believe, even more so than his critique of neonics, poses a major threat to corporate agribusinesses.

It does not, however, detract from the USDA’s mission, which is why the agency’s mistreatment of scientists like Lundgren is so revealing.

Whistleblower Sets Up Nonprofit Science Lab and Sustainable Farm

Fortunately, Lundgren has become very outspoken about his whistleblower suit. So much so, the Shafeek Nader Trust presented him with a civic courage award last November, for taking an open stand against the USDA.

Moving forward, he’s also setting up two new businesses: Blue Dasher Farm, which he intends to be a model for large-scale sustainable farming using crop diversity and other regenerative methods, and Ecdysis, a nonprofit science lab for independent research.

According to Lundgren:5 “I don’t think science can be done, at least on this subject, in any of the conventional ways. I think we need truly independent scientists — not funded by government or industry.”

USDA Policy Encourages Suppression of Unpopular Science

This charge was made by Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), who on March 26, 2015 filed a Petition For Rulemaking with the Secretary of Agriculture.6 (PEER is also the alliance representing Lundgren’s whistleblower case.) In it, he notes that:

“The stated purpose of USDA’s scientific integrity policy is to ensure ‘the highest level of integrity in all aspects of the executive branch’s involvement with scientific and technological processes and analyses.’

However, the Policy fails to clearly prohibit political suppression and interference. While the Policy defines political suppression and interference, it does not include these acts in its definition of misconduct.

The USDA, by its own admission, has yet to develop procedures for handling scientific integrity complaints. To compound the problem, an overly broad provision within the Policy actively encourages USDA to suppress scientific work for political reasons.

The provision states that scientists “should refrain from making statements that could be construed as being judgments of or recommendations on USDA or any other federal government policy, either intentionally or inadvertently.”

USDA management routinely relies up this vague but expansively worded provision a pretext for suppressing technical work solely because the scientific conclusions expressed draw the ire of USDA corporate stakeholders.”

The Case of USDA Scientist Jeffery Pettis

The case of Jeffery Pettis adds even more weight to the notion that there’s a definitive agenda at work within the USDA to officially downplay any risks associated with neonicotinoids.

Pettis, who like Lundgren is an entymologist, headed up the USDA’s bee laboratory in Beltsville for 9 years. His career was suddenly derailed after he presented testimony about neonics before the House Agriculture Committee in the spring of 2014. As reported by The Washington Post:7

“Pettis had developed what he describes as a ‘significant’ line of research showing that neonics compromise bee immunity.

But in his opening remarks before Congress, he focused on the threat posed by the varroa mite, often put forward by chemical company representatives as the main culprit behind bee deaths.

Only under questioning by subcommittee Chairman Austin Scott (R-Ga.) did Pettis shift. Even if varroa were eliminated tomorrow, he told Scott, ‘we’d still have a problem.’ Neonics raise pesticide concerns for bees ‘to a new level,’ he said. About two months later, Pettis was demoted, losing all management responsibilities for the Beltsville lab ….

Pettis said, the USDA’s congressional liaison told him that the Agriculture Committee wanted him to restrict his testimony to the varroa mite. ‘In my naivete,’ he said, ‘I thought there were going to be other people addressing different parts of the pie. I felt used by the whole process, used by Congress.’

The hearing was ‘heavily weighted toward industry,’ he said, ‘and they tried to use me as a scientist, as a way of saying, ‘See, it’s the varroa mite,’ when that’s not how I see it.’…He said he walked up to Scott afterward, to make small talk, and the congressman ‘said something about how I hadn’t ‘followed the script.'”

Is USDA Shielding Corporations Like Monsanto?

While you would think that the USDA exists to protect you against the vagaries of industry, this is not the case. The chemical and agricultural industries spend millions of dollars to lobby for regulations that are favorable to them, and there’s a constantly revolving door between the agency and private corporations.

For example, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is widely regarded as a shill for Monsanto, and he’s always been a strong supporter of genetically engineered (GE) crops, regardless of the scientific evidence against it.

The undemocratic and highly unpopular 2005 seed pre-emption bill was also Vilsack’s brainchild. The law stripped local government’s right to regulated GE seed, including where GE can be grown. Overall, Vilsack’s record is one of aiding and abetting concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or factory farms and promoting both genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and animal cloning.

Roger Beachy is another example. Between 2009 and 2011, he was the head of National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the USDA’s main research arm, and he too is a proponent of GMOs, and has ties to Monsanto. As reported in a previous Grist article:8

“In his short stint at USDA, Beachy never hid his enthusiasm for ag biotechnology — or his disdain for organic ag. When I … asked him about funding for organic research, he came up with a novel slander against synthetics-free ag: ‘I’m concerned about the safety of organic food … I’m concerned about the issue of microbial contamination with organic.'”

To get an idea of just how broad and deep Monsanto’s reach is, take a look at the following chart. Over the years, this biotech giant has successfully infiltrated an ever increasing number of high-level federal regulatory positions in the U.S. government; many of which are positions meant to protect your food safety, including a number of top positions within the USDA.

Top USDA Official Goes to Work for DuPont

The most recent person to walk their way through the revolving door between government and industry is Krysta Harden, who spent over 6 years at the USDA — first as chief of staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack, and then deputy secretary. She’s  been hired by chemical giant DuPont to head up its “public policy and government affairs strategies” department. You would think this activity would be illegal and prohibited but it is actually encouraged.

The New York Times recently published an in-depth exposé9 on the legal battle fought against DuPont for the past 15 years over PFOA contamination and its toxic effects. The Intercept also published a three-part exposé10 titled “The Teflon Toxin: Dupont and the Chemistry of Deception” last year, detailing DuPont’s history of covering up the facts.

Earlier this month, they came out with a fourth part in the series,11 covering DuPont’s contamination of the Cape Fear River with “a new generation of replacement compounds” that likely have “the same chemical performance properties as the older generation of PFCs.”

DuPont is now working on a merger with Dow, and once the merger is completed, that chemical-seed company will be even larger than Monsanto. Considering DuPont’s history of covering up the toxic effects of their products, this gigantic entity is going to Monsanto in terms of being a serious threat, and the most perniciously evil company on the planet.

Federal Agencies Aid and Abet Corporate Stronghold

to read the remainder of he article, go here:    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/03/22/usda-corporate-lobbyist-group.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20160322Z1&et_cid=DM100981&et_rid=1410751387

More on Bee Colony Collapse

Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news

So what is with all the dying bees? Scientists have been trying to discover this for years. Meanwhile, bees keep dropping like… well, you know.

Is it mites? Pesticides? Cell phone towers? What is really at the root? Turns out the real issue really scary, because it is more complex and pervasive than thought.

Quartz reports:

Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.

The researchers behind that study in PLOS ONE — Jeffery S. Pettis, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose, Dennis vanEngelsdorp — collected pollen from hives on the east coast, including cranberry and watermelon crops, and fed it to healthy bees. Those bees had a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder. The pollen they were fed had an average of nine different pesticides and fungicides, though one sample of pollen contained a deadly brew of 21 different chemicals. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by the parasite.

The discovery means that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, is actually a significant part of Colony Collapse Disorder. And that likely means farmers need a whole new set of regulations about how to use fungicides. While neonicotinoids have been linked to mass bee deaths — the same type of chemical at the heart of the massive bumble bee die off in Oregon — this study opens up an entirely new finding that it is more than one group of pesticides, but a combination of many chemicals, which makes the problem far more complex.

And it is not just the types of chemicals used that need to be considered, but also spraying practices. The bees sampled by the authors foraged not from crops, but almost exclusively from weeds and wildflowers, which means bees are more widely exposed to pesticides than thought.

The authors write, “[M]ore attention must be paid to how honey bees are exposed to pesticides outside of the field in which they are placed. We detected 35 different pesticides in the sampled pollen, and found high fungicide loads. The insecticides esfenvalerate and phosmet were at a concentration higher than their median lethal dose in at least one pollen sample. While fungicides are typically seen as fairly safe for honey bees, we found an increased probability of Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load. Our results highlight a need for research on sub-lethal effects of fungicides and other chemicals that bees placed in an agricultural setting are exposed to.”

While the overarching issue is simple — chemicals used on crops kill bees — the details of the problem are increasingly more complex, including what can be sprayed, where, how, and when to minimize the negative effects on bees and other pollinators while still assisting in crop production. Right now, scientists are still working on discovering the degree to which bees are affected and by what. It will still likely be a long time before solutions are uncovered and put into place. When economics come into play, an outright halt in spraying anything at all anywhere is simply impossible.

Quartz notes, “Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.”

from:    http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/scientists-discover-another-cause-bee-deaths-and-its-really-bad-news.html

More on GMO’s

GMO Alert: Startling New Research

18th May 2012

By Jack Adam Weber

Time for a little GMO update and heckling of our nemesis, Monsanto and friends. New research demonstrates what most of us have suspected for years: GMOs and the poisons used on them are bad for everything on the planet. For ethical reasons, as well as the obstruction of research by Monsanto, little comprehensive GMO research has been done on humans. But finally, we are beginning to see more hard evidence showing the dangerous effects of the GMO industry.

A little over a year ago, the journal Reproductive Toxicology published the results of a study done In Quebec, Canada. It showed that Bt toxin, the pesticide now routinely genetically engineered into GE corn and cotton, was found in the blood of pregnant women and in their fetuses, as well as in non-pregnant women. This same study also discovered that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, was found in the blood of non-pregnant women. This is not good news.

Until recently, the Quebec study has been one of the few pieces of sound scientific evidence demonstrating the absorption of Bt-toxin into human blood, an occurrenceMonsanto reportedly claimed would not occur when they proposed their nasty little invention for approval some years ago. Are we surprised that they were proven wrong? Not at all. Does this stop them? Not in the least. So we have to. Read on.

A brand new scientific study now shows that the Bt-toxin, known as Cry1Ab toxin, kills human embryonic kidney cells. If you think this is alarming, there’s more. The study also shows that combining Bt-toxins Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac with RoundUp (as is now commonly done on GMO crops) can delay apoptosis, which can promote cancer. Apoptosis, by the way, is the normal and natural death of cells that occurs as a routine and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development. This study also found that glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, on its own causes necrosis, a.k.a. the death of tissue, in amounts lower than that used in agriculture.

I imagine that everyone reading this article adores ladybugs, also known as ladybeetles. Ladybugs have a shiny red shell with little white polka dots on them and cute little black heads. They are in my orchard here in Hawaii and sometimes they randomly land on me while I am working or walking around. These magical little creatures are often employed for natural pest management in organic gardens and orchards, with no side-effects, mind you!

Well, guess what? The GMO industry is killing our ladybugs. Yet another scientific study shows that Bt-toxin increases the mortality rate (death rate) of infant ladybugs, known as larvae. This research was conducted at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe.

Onto honeybees, our other beloved insect friends. It is widely believed that pesticides in general, and particularly a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, are a major contributing factor to CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, of honeybees worldwide. Some countries in Europe have already banned them; namely France, Germany, and Italy. The hundreds of millions of extra pounds of pesticides sprayed on pesticide-dependent GMO crops are also believed to be contributing to the very sad fate of honeybees. I don’t like Big Ag messin’ with the bees or the ladybugs.

So, if you are not yet on the bandwagon to stop supporting GMOs and their destruction of so many aspects of our biosphere, please jump on. Don’t buy GMO foods. Especially, don’t feed them to your children. Don’t use RoundUp, ever. Or any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides, for that matter. And please join GEM, our movement to eradicate GMOs from the face of the Earth, and learn more about dismantling the GMO machine. Bless the bees, ladybugs and each and every innocent human being on the planet now being impacted by GMOs. Bless you for taking action. From the farm here on Big Island, Hawai’i…thank you for being part of the solution.

About the Author

Jack Adam Weber is a licensed acupuncturist, master herbalist, author, organic farmer, celebrated poet, and activist for Earth-centered spirituality. He integrates poetry, ancient wisdom, holistic medicine, and depth psychology into passionate presentations for personal fulfillment as a path to planetary transformation. His books, artwork, and provocative poems can be found at his website PoeticHealing.com. Jack can be reached at Jack@PoeticHealing.com

from:    http://wakeup-world.com/2012/05/18/gmo-alert-startling-new-research/