Agribiz and the Third World, Goats Working for the U.S. Forest Service, Alternative Sanitation Systems and More

Learn about solar energy, Mt. Everest, Xylitol and other short news bits.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
January/February 1977
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You'll learn why the U.S. Forest Service employed goats and many more interesting facts in this collection of tidbits.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA


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THE UGLY AMERICANS. Del Monte, Campbell's, Carnation, United Brands, Castle & Cooke, and other based agribiz giants are "warring with the landless peasants of the Third World," according to the Pacific News Service. The PNS reports that the monster corporations are expanding their $30 billion investment in overseas operations, forcing hundreds of thousands of peasants off the land ... and then hiring the displaced people back as field hands and farm workers at artificially low wages. Guatemala, Honduras, the Philippines and Mexico are specifically named as countries in which this activity which includes intimidation, political payoff and "bulldozing people right off the land" — is now taking place.

THE SUN is as big as a million earths, the gas at its center is 8 times denser than gold, and this "average star" gives off energy equivalent to a million million megaton atom bombs every second. And that's just a few of the facts attractively presented in the Hall of the Sun, at the American Museum-Hayden Planetarium.

IT COSTS $100 AN ACRE when men with hand tools clear firebreaks through California's Cleveland National Forest, $30 per acre when heavy machinery and herbicides are used ... but nothing when goats are allowed to eat their way through the offending mountain mahogany and other undergrowth. The U.S. Forest Service now has 1,200 of the animals handling the job.

LAETRILE, WHICH SOME PEOPLE CLAIM CAN CURE CANCER, has long been outlawed in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration. As of June 21, 1976, however, the ban on the controversial B-17 treatment was lifted in at least one state — Alaska — with the passage of H.B. 881. Alaskan Governor Jay S. Hammond, who was under heavy pressure from the medical establishment to veto the bill, allowed it to become law without his signature. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not Laetrile is ever sold legally in the Last Frontier State: The substance still must be approved by the Alaska Medical Board.

THE OFFICE OF APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY, is conducting a six-month study of "alternative rural sanitation systems." If you have any experience with dry toilets, gray-water recycling, or other such systems, the folks at OAT would like to hear from you.

WIN A LITTLE, LOSE A LOT: Cornell biologists have discovered that 2,4D — commonly applied to fields of corn as a weed killer — actually makes that corn more appetizing to aphids, corn borers, and southern corn leaf blight germs. The increased pest damage may well more than offset the benefits of 2,4-D weed control.

"SIGNIFICANT CONCENTRATIONS" OF CANCER-CAUSING CHEMICALS have been found by the Environmental Protection Agency in the air around six industrial plants in New York and northern New Jersey. Dr. Paul Altshuller, the EPA's senior scientist, says that the same carcinogens and other potentially hazardous substances have also been detected repeatedly near factories in Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Houston.

ORGANIC FARMERS consume only 40 percent as much energy as "conventional" farmers when producing a dollar's worth of food, reports Washington University's Center for the Biology of Natural Systems. Furthermore, on an acre-for-acre basis, the organic farmers net just about exactly as much ($134) as their conventional counterparts ($132). That isn't what all the agribiz advertisements say, of course, but that's what the study found.

DATRIL, TYLENOL, and other brands of acetaminophen — a non-salicylate analgesic now being heavily promoted as an aspirin substitute — "appear to be more dangerous than aspirin," according to The Medical Letter, a nonprofit drug advisory service for physicians. The Letter advises that acetaminophen, which doesn't cause the gastric bleeding sometimes associated with aspirin, can — when taken in overdose quantities — damage the liver severely enough to cause death between 24 hours and several days after ingestion. The drug advisory service further states that 66 patients in Great Britain died from such overdoses in 1973 ... mostly as a result of suicide attempts.

AMERICANS NOW SPEND $6 billion a year on snack foods and only $4.8 billion on fresh fruits, says New York State's Cooperative Extension Service

James H. Whitcomb, a geophysicist and senior research fellow at Cal Tech predicts A CALIFORNIA EARTHQUAKE of between 5.5 and 6.5 magnitude on the Richter scale before April 1977

BRAZIL AND ARGENTINA, longtime South American rivals and two of the latest nations to join the nuclear club, are already involved in an unspoken but very real Atomic Arms Race

XYLITOL (zy-lit-tall), the latest "artificial" sweetener to hit the market isn't artificial at ail (it's extracted from many kinds of vegetation, especially in Finland birch trees)

MEDICAL EXPENSES are rising so rapidly that Dr. George Dunlop, professor of surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, expects Medicare to cost $2 trillion by the year 2000 (that's if the whole plan doesn't collapse before them

So many (4,000) mountain climbers now visit Nepal that the once-pristine trails of MT. EVEREST NATIONAL PARK have become "the world's highest junkyard". The base of the planet's tallest mountain is being posted with "Don't Litter Everest" signs in three languages

THE PRIMITIVE "MORNING AFTER" BIRTH CONTROL practiced by rural residents of India's Rajasthan state (carrot seeds are chewed by women for several days after intercourse) really works, according to New Delhi scientists. The seeds, they say, act just like estrogenic agents in inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus


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