Free Trade Area of the Americas
In the middle of a tug-of-war
between the United States and Brazil, the co-chairs
of the negotiations, the 8th ministerial meeting of
the Free Trade
Area of the Americas (FTAA) will take place Nov.
20-21 in the U.S. city of Miami.
A broad range of civil society
groups, including environmentalists, is opposed to
the hemisphere-wide agreement.
The 34 countries of North and
South America and the Caribbean, with the exception
of Cuba, will be represented at the meeting, where
ministers will try to clear the way for the free flow
of goods and services in the region beginning in 2005.
The United States is reportedly
seeking a "broad" agreement that establishes
regional rules for intellectual property rights, investment
and government procurement, as well as a reduction
of tariffs throughout the hemisphere.
Meanwhile, Brazil, the largest
Latin American market, is mostly looking for a pact
that reduces the barriers standing in the way of market
Brazil charges that the U.S.
farm subsidies cost the South American giant millions
of dollars in losses. But the U.S. government, like
Japan and the European Union, does not want to deal
with the issue outside of the World
The gradual elimination of trade
and investment barriers in the region is the aim of
the FTAA, an initiative that emerged from the 1994
of the Americas. The traditional policy of U.S.
aid through financial credits to the developing South
has been replaced by the idea of a Canada-to-Argentina
free trade zone.
The areas of negotiation within
the FTAA include: market access, investment, services,
public procurement, dispute settlement, agriculture,
intellectual property rights, subsidies, anti-dumping
rules, and competition policies.
The "Tripartite Committee",
comprising the Inter-American
Development Bank, the Organization
of American States and the U.N.
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean,
provides analytical, technical and financial support
for the FTAA process.
There are many who view the trade
agreement with skepticism. A study
by Canada's International
Development Research Center indicates that the
FTAA is considered a means for strengthening the U.S.
negotiating position against the European Union and
the countries of Southeast Asia.
of the Earth says that the implementation of the
FTAA would have negative consequences for the environment.
Accords on services, which would range from the oil
industry to tourism, would make it difficult for governments
to limit investment and to regulate environmental
Groups like the Coalition
of Immokalee Workers, based in the U.S. state
of Florida, say they fear a repeat of the experience
(North American Free Trade Agreement), the 1994 treaty
between Canada, Mexico and the United States. After
the agreement entered into force, they say, the Mexican
market was flooded with U.S. corn, driving down prices
and forcing small farmers out of business.
But defenders of the treaty point
to the fact that Mexico's trade with its big neighbor
to the north currently runs at a surplus.
- IPS Special Coverage
Free Trade Area
of the Americas
Free Trade Agreement
of the Earth - FTAA environmental impact
Organization of American
for Latin America and the Caribbean
of Immokalee Workers
World Trade Organization
Transnational Oil Companies
Thirty thousand Indians from
the Ecuadorian Amazon were able to put the U.S.-based
petroleum giant ChevronTexaco in court on charges
of environmental destruction.
The unprecedented trial began
Oct. 21 in Ecuador. Tierramérica invites you
to check out some Internet sites to learn more about
international oil companies.
An assessment report, contracted
by the plaintiffs, was presented in October. Global
Environmental Operations, entrusted with the study,
estimated that the costs for cleaning up the rivers
and underground water supplies affected by the ChevronTexaco
oil operations would reach 6 billion dollars.
The oil company denies that it
is responsible for the contamination in Ecuador and
affirms that it follows environmental safety standards.
On its web site, British Petroleum,
one of the world's biggest oil firms, states that
oil exploitation activities can have environmental
impacts, such as altering habitat, contamination,
introduction of non-native species, the non-sustainable
use of resources and contribution to climate change.
The presence of transnational
oil companies in Latin America dates to 1950, when
the consumption of fossil fuels in the region began
to accelerate rapidly.
From the 1950s to the 1970s,
the big oil companies, known as "The Seven Sisters"
(Exxon, Gulf, Texaco, Mobil, Standard Oil of California,
British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell), controlled
more than 98 percent of petroleum production in the
countries that later formed OPEC
(Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).
Through their subsidiaries, these
companies held exclusive rights over initial exploration
and, following the entire process, over the final
marketing of petroleum products internationally.
OPEC today controls approximately
40 percent of the world's crude supplies. And through
recent acquisitions and mergers, such as British
Petroleum, Amoco and Arco, or that of Exxon-Mobil,
the biggest private western transnationals will go
from controlling 10 percent of the global oil market
in 1997 to approximately 25 percent next year.
on world energy indicates that in 2002 Saudi Arabia
was the world's leading producer of petroleum, followed
by the Russian Federation and the United States.
In Latin America, Mexico was
the leading oil producer, with Venezuela coming in
a close second.
There are many Internet sites
that allow web surfers to follow the performance of
the oil industry. The web page of the U.S.
Department of Energy provides a daily review of
prices and production levels on a country-by-country
Organization of Petroleum
British Petroleum, Amoco
impacts of oil exploration
Statistical Review of World Energy June 2003
Department of Energy
reserves - by region
International Year of
an effort to attend to the problems of hunger and
malnutrition, among others, the United Nations General
Assembly on Oct. 31 declared 2004 the International
Year of Rice. Sixty percent of the world's 1.3
billion poor live in Asia, and rice is their principal
According to the U.N.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it is
urgent to boost rice supplies, given the growing demand
by a population with very limited income and whose
numbers are growing exponentially.
A study by the International
Rice Research Institute (IRRI) states that the
average person in countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam
and Burma consume 150 to 200 kilos of rice a year,
representing two-thirds or more of their daily calorie
intake and approximately 60 percent of their daily
protein consumption. "For the poorest, rice is
a luxury," says the study.
Among the notable characteristics
of this cereal is its low level of sodium and zero
cholesterol. Rice is also an important source of vitamins
(thiamine, riboflavin and niacin) and minerals (phosphorous,
iron and potassium). Rice also has limited amounts
of protein, containing eight amino acids essential
for the human body.
Worldwide, more than 585 million
metric tons of rice were produced
in 2001, 84 percent in Asian countries. The vast
majority of consumers are in Asia (91 percent). Latin
America represents 3.7 percent of consumption and
Africa 3.4 percent.
The prediction that growing demands
for rice will outstrip production has led organizations
like FAO to support the development and cultivation
rice, produced by cross-pollination of two species.
Hybrid varieties discovered in 1974 by Chinese scientists
currently produce 15 to 20 percent more than traditional
Accompanying poverty is malnutrition.
According to figures from the non-governmental Bread
for the World Institute, there are 840 million
people suffering malnutrition worldwide. Of that total,
more than 95 percent live in developing countries
and more than 153 million are five years old or younger.
An estimated six million of these young children die
of hunger each year.
Land, water and labor resources
are on the decline in rice producing countries, there
are those who put forth other
arguments in the world hunger debate.
Health Organization, for one, states that hunger
is the result of poor distribution and inequality,
not the lack of food."
Year of Rice
Facts - Essential Food for the Poor
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
for the World Institute
Rice for Food Security
Magnificently decorated, peacocks
carry in their plumage more than just an evolutionary
riddle. A new
study reveals that the brilliant colors of peacock
feathers are the result of a delicate and complex
structure similar to glass, and are not pigments,
as in other bird species. The new discoveries could
serve to improve telecommunications and create new
microchips for computers.
The blue royal or common peacock
is the most familiar. Its scientific name is Pavo
cristatus and it belongs to the Phasianidae
family. In the 17th and 18th centuries the English
Newton was already studying the origins of the
colors in this majestic bird's feathers.
The neck and chest of the male
peacock are a metallic blue-green. The long tail feathers
are green-hued and have dark circles towards the tips,
resembling eyes. During courtship, the male displays
his tail feathers, which measure around 1.2 meters,
forming a broad fan as he slowly struts around the
female, who generally feigns indifference.
The reproductive unit usually
consists of one adult male and one to three females.
Studies show that the most colorfully decorated males
are generally chosen over less showy males. In peacocks,
more ostentatious plumage is linked to a stronger
Darwin, father of the theory of evolution, suggested
in 1871 that this preference on the part of females
in selecting their mate is another form of natural
The blue royal peacock is native
to India and Southeast Asia, where they can be found
in the wild, and in nature parks. These birds feed
on snails, spiders and insects, as well as grains
In the times of King Salomon,
peacocks were presented in offerings alongside gold
and silver. Today, they have been domesticated and
can be found around the world, and are even kept as
Scientists admire these unique
birds, whose genetic
code has already been deciphered, and is sure
to hold even more secrets.
American Breeding Bird Survey
The biggest environmental-automotive
event in the world, Challenge
Bibendum, highlighted the latest technological
advances in the field of so-called "green cars",
which represent an attempt to reconcile mobility and
This year's exposition drew several
car, truck and bus manufacturers
that work with alternative
fuels, and low levels of pollutant emissions.
Organized by the Michelin
Group, a tire manufacturer, participants compete
for awards in the categories of lowest emissions and
noise, and best performance, safety and design. The
vehicles are subject to a series of tests
by a technical team.
According to a study by the World
Business Council for Sustainable Development, global
population growth (expected to reach 8.1 billion people
by 2030) and increased urbanization are the two factors
that will dramatically increase pressure on the world's
ecosystems, in large part due to greater transportation
Dependence on petroleum, a non-renewable
energy source, for driving the automotive industry,
air pollution and its effects on human health, and
emissions of greenhouse
gases are just some areas of concern.
In the United States, the number
of vehicles utilizing alternative fuels grew from
455,000 in 2000 to more than 518,000 in 2002. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes
that lists the least contaminating vehicles, the ones
with best gas mileage.
Cars with fuel cells, hybrid
vehicles (gas/electricity), electric
and diesel are some of the initiatives in the different
sectors of the automotive industry that aim to lay
the groundwork for the future of ground transportation.
Several factors can make a car
more environmentally efficient. Some qualities that
define the automobiles of the future include insulation
in the roof and floor to cut down the need for air
conditioning, ultra-light tires to conserve energy,
and a double-layered air circulation system. Such
is the case of the gas-electric hybrid Toyota
Prius 2004, winner of the Challenge Bibendum.
Hybrid Cars in Race against Climate Change
to green vehicles
vehicles - questions and answers
Whale Hunting Season
Thirty-six dead whales is the
result of Iceland's whale hunting season, which ended
in the first week of October, according to the International
Fund for Animal Welfare.
With the renewal of the hunt
after a 14-year moratorium, the European island nation
dealt a blow to the efforts of whale conservationists
-- and possibly to its own national economy.
Despite its recent "re-admission"
in 2002 to the International Whaling Commission (IWC),
created in 1946 to regulate the development of the
whaling industry, Iceland decided to take to the seas
to hunt Minke whale in August of this year.
The country thus made use of
an IWC exception that allows hunting of certain species
for scientific purposes, which environmentalists consider
a dangerous loophole.
The move could be counterproductive
for Iceland, where whale-watching excursions for tourists
has been a growing industry. IFAW reports that 40
percent of the people who visit Iceland take a whale
watching tour, generating around eight million dollars
in revenues annually.
It was in the 11th century that
Spain's Basque fishermen began commercial whale hunting.
By the 20th century, with high-tech hunting methods,
the world's whale populations were nearly wiped out.
IFAW estimates that Norway and
Japan kill more than 1,300 whales each year. The IWC
has established quotas for the number of whales of
the various species that may be hunted, and there
are also sanctuaries,
set aside to protect the sites where whales feed and
Hunters are not the only danger
that whales face. Climate change, the thinning of
the atmospheric ozone layer, pollution and sonar are
also threats to the giant sea mammals.
In June of this year, the IWC
approved the Berlin Initiative, which aims to organize
efforts to protect whales and dolphins. Eventually,
a combination of protective measures and more advantageous
economic alternatives than hunting could emerge --
so that the world does not lose forever the song
of these intelligent and majestic beings.
Fund for Animal Welfare
for Cetacean Research - Japan
Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species
The Kyoto Protocol has suffered
a setback that threatens its very existence. Russian
president Vladimir Putin stated Sep. 29 that his country
is undecided as to whether it will ratify the international
accord for curbing emissions of greenhouse gases.
The signature of Russia alone,
which hosted the latest United
Nations Conference on Climate Change, would be
enough for the Protocol to enter into force.
Established in 1997, the Kyoto
Protocol is an international treaty that has set
a goal that by 2008 to 2012 the industrialized countries
will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by five
percent below their 1990 rates. Failure to meet the
target could force a country to cut back its industrial
Although the initial draft of the Protocol lacked
specifics, beginning with the
Marrakech meetings in late 2001, five main points
were defined: legally binding commitments for industrialized
countries; alternative implementation methods to emissions
implementation); minimization of impacts in developing
countries, including assistance to diversify their
economies; reports and assessment by a team of experts
and compliance evaluated by a committee.
As a complement to the 1992 U.N.
Framework Convention on Climate Change, the first
international agreement to deal with the issue, the
Kyoto Protocol is a response to growing concern that
gases emitted by human activities, particularly carbon
dioxide, contribute to the greenhouse effect and to
More frequent heat waves, floods,
and drought are predicted as a result of the average
global temperature increasing by one to 3.5 degrees
centigrade by 2001, says the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change, founded in 1988, and
entrusted with providing scientific information for
the Kyoto Protocol.
The Protocol will take effect
once it is ratified by 55 countries, including those
responsible for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas
emissions. As of Sep. 29, 2003, 84
countries had signed and 119 had ratified or adhered
to the protocol, but the refusal of the United
States -- which alone produces 25 percent of the world's
greenhouse gases -- means the survival of the treaty
falls to Russia.
Washington based its withdrawal
from the Protocol on arguments that curbing emissions
would be too much of an economic burden and that the
scientific research linking emissions with global
warming are questionable.
The aim of the Putin government
is to double Russia's gross domestic product (GDP)
within a decade, bringing with it an increase in greenhouse
gas emissions, and thus requiring costly investment
if the country is to meet the Protocol goals. Without
Russia, the future of the Kyoto Protocol is uncertain
Framework Convention on Climate Change
on Climate Change
of the Kyoto Protocol - as of Sep. 29, 2003
Climate Change: A Beginner's Guide to the UNFCCC and
Environmental Protection Agency
thousand years climate history
Implementation - Forestry Congress
Panel, comprising 60 international scientific
organizations, has called on all countries to ban
human cloning experiments. The appeal reflects the
viewpoint of a broad swath of the scientific community,
warning that the cloning process -- which has been
conducted with animals -- deteriorates genetic mechanisms
and would cause human suffering.
Many of the cloned mammals die
before reaching maturity due to "genetic errors"
or deficiencies in their embryonic development. This
makes techniques for cloning human non-viable, says
Dolly the sheep, the world's
first cloned animal, in April 2003 became part of
Scotland Museum in Edinburgh, two months after
having been euthanized because she suffered a progressive
Several countries have proved
able to clone mammals. In 2001, Brazil became the
first developing country to clone a live animal, with
the birth of Victoria, a calf, in an experiment conducted
by the Brazilian agro-research enterprise EMBRAPA.
The InterAcademy Panel, however,
does not oppose the use of cloning techniques for
purposes of scientific research.
With no global consensus on the
issue, the use of embryonic cells, or mother cells,
for medical purposes has been gaining ground in many
countries. These cells have the capacity to create
any type of tissue in the body.
Researchers at the Roslin
Institute, near Edinburgh, Scotland, plan to experiment
with special cells, extracted from embryos left over
from the artificial fertilization process that couples
may opt for when they cannot conceive through natural
Bioethics Committee of UNESCO (United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)
says it is up to each country to decide on whether
to permit or ban studies using embryonic cells.
The conclusions of the InterAcademy
Panel were covered in a recent edition of Science
magazine, which suggests that it may never be possible
to copy human beings using cloning methods.
Museums of Scotland
On September 11 the Cartagena
Protocol entered into force, the first international
treaty on the transfer, management and use of organisms
modified using biotechnology techniques. It is hoped
that the treaty will foment the safe use of transgenics,
an issue that has awakened a heated global debate,
pitting the United States against Europe.
Adopted in 2000 by the parties
to the Convention
on Biological Diversity, the treaty seeks to make
international trade in genetically modified organisms
(GMOs) more transparent through security measures
that meet the needs of consumers, industry and, most
of all, the environment.
The Protocol is intended to prevent
potential conflicts between trade rules and the international
biosecurity regimen, says a guide to the treaty provided
by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The process of reconciling the
legitimate interests of trade, biosafety and others
has not been easy. There is a bitter dispute between
those who see biotechnology as the road to food security
and those who point to ethical, environmental, health
and social reasons to establish tight controls for
The United Nations Food and Agriculture
issued a Statement on Biotechnology in March 2000,
maintaining that this branch of science offers powerful
tools for sustainable development of agriculture,
fishing and forestry, as well as for the food industry.
Meanwhile, environmental groups
believe that the biological wealth inherent in traditional
crops is a global natural heritage threatened by genetic
contamination. They blame biotech transnationals like
the world's leading seed producer, of pressuring governments
to discard mechanisms for controlling transgenic products.
And the United States and the
European Union are at the forefront of the dispute.
Last July, the European Parliament adopted a law requiring
all foods containing GMOs to be labeled so that consumers
are aware of what they are buying and eating.
The United States and other producers
of transgenic crops, including Argentina, are demanding
that the World Trade Organization (WTO)
suspend the ban on sales of genetically modified foods
in the EU, imposed in 1999.
In June of 2003, the republic
of Palau became the 50th country to ratify the Cartagena
Protocol on biosafety, allowing the treaty to enter
into force. The first meeting of the parties to the
Protocol will take place in Kuala Lumpur in February
on Biological Diversity
- dispute on biotech products
World Ozone Day
The scientific community estimates
that the ozone layer, which filters the ultraviolet
rays of the Sun, could recover its density by the
middle of this century. Recent studies show an improvement,
a closing of the so-called ozone hole, but only in
the upper stratosphere.
Efforts to limit production and
use of ozone depleting gases must continue, and that
is the point of World
Ozone Day, observed every Sep. 16.
A report from the American Geophysical
found that the depletion of the ozone in the upper
stratosphere -- 35 to 45 km above the earth's surface
-- has slowed since 1997.
But the authors state that only
a small percentage of ozone is located at that level,
and the problem of ozone depletion remains serious.
Ozone is a harmful contaminant
in the atmosphere closest to earth, but in the stratosphere,
it protects the planet from excessive solar radiation.
The process of restoring this protective shield should
continue with the progressive elimination of ozone-depleting
gases like chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
The Montreal Protocol, signed
Sep. 16, 1987, limits the use of substances that damage
the ozone layer. In 1985, the international community
agreed on the Vienna
Convention to protect the ozone layer from CFCs,
and other gases like methyl bromide, halons and carbon
Since the scientists Mario
Molina, of Mexico, and F.
Rowland, of the United States, warned of the role
of CFCs in the depletion of stratospheric ozone, concern
about environmental and health consequences have led
to international campaigns, and the Nobel Prize for
Chemistry was awarded the two experts in 1995.
The United Nations Environment
OzonAction website underscores that the international
fight to protect the ozone layer is a success story
among global environmental campaigns.
Since 1985, studies have revealed
the existence of the ozone hole over Antarctica.
In 2000, the U.S. National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA)
reported that the hole had reached a record size of
28.3 million square km, three times bigger than Australia
or the United States, including Alaska.
But in 2002, abnormally warm
climate conditions produced the smallest ozone hole
- Ozone Secretariat
Total Ozone Mapping
There are 100,000 protected areas
around the world, which together would cover an area
larger than China and India combined. But very few
provide benefits to the communities that inhabit them.
Some 2,500 delegates are meeting in Durban, South
Africa until Sep. 17 to discuss the problem, under
the auspices of the Fifth
World Congress on Protected Areas.
Organized by the World Conservation
Union (IUCN), it
is the largest forum for drafting an international
agenda on protected areas. The main objective is to
promote national policies to preserve biodiversity,
with "benefits beyond borders."
Land and water ecosystems of
biological importance -- due to their species diversity
-- have been included in the category of national
parks, landscapes, reserves, or natural monuments,
set aside to protect a country's biological heritage.
But the latest concept of "protected
area" takes into account wildlife areas and the
notion of sustainable use reserves, according to the
Commission on Protected Areas, comprising a network
of environmental experts.
In May 1997 the first Latin American
Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas was
held in Santa Marta, Colombia, where participants
assessed progress and limitations in applying the
concept of the Biosphere Reserve in Latin America.
In March of this year, the First
Congress on Protected Areas took place in Managua,
Nicaragua, under the theme of "promoting conservation
for development and integration."
Congress on Protected Areas
IUCN - World Conservation
Commission on Protected Areas
Bank - on protected areas
WTO on the Road to Cancun
The August 30 agreement on granting
poor countries access to low-cost medicines was among
the few items of good news on the rocky road towards
Trade Organization's Fifth Ministerial Conference,
to begin in the Mexican city of Cancun on Sep. 10.
Disagreements persist in nearly all other areas of
the ambitious negotiating agenda, including agricultural
trade, services and investment. The environment, meanwhile,
is but a marginal issue.
The WTO, founded in January 1995
as a result of the accords of the Uruguay Round of
trade talks (1986 to 1994), will gather the trade
ministers from its 146 member states in the Caribbean
coast city of Cancun, Mexico. The officials have four
days to try to overcome the obstacles standing in
the way of achieving the goals set out in the Doha
Previous ministerial meets took
place in Singapore, Geneva and Seattle. The latest
was in the Qatar capital, in late 2001, and now the
ministers are getting ready to head to Cancun to continue
the WTO-led process of global trade liberalization.
The WTO has no agreement specifically
dedicated to the environment, but it does have a Committee
on Trade and Environment, which discusses, for
example the trade provisions in multilateral environmental
accords, "green" labels on export products
and the representation of environmental groups in
Nations Environment Program and representatives
from some international environmental agreements will
have an ad hoc presence at the Cancun conference.
In the UNEP document on Trade
and Environment, the agency's director, Klaus
Toepfer, calls for more active UN participation in
trade negotiations, and urges greater emphasis on
issues such as trade in environmental goods and services,
as well as curbing the negative environmental impacts
of agricultural trade subsidies.
The compatibility of WTO rules
and the standards set by environmental treaties is
a crucial matter. There are some 20 multilateral environmental
accords, such as the Montreal
Protocol on reducing ozone-depleting gases, which
sets restrictions for the production, consumption
and trade of aerosols that contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons).
Likewise, the Basel
Convention monitors trade and transport of toxic
waste, and the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),
regulates commerce in wildlife.
Multilateral organizations like
the World Bank,
specialized groups like the Trade
Forum, and the Institute
for Agriculture and Trade Policy, as well as representatives
from a broad spectrum of civil society groups will
also be on hand in Cancun, proposing different approaches
and alternatives to the international trade negotiations.
Fifth Ministerial Conference
Committee on Trade and Environment
United Nations Environment
Document on Trade and Environment
Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Materials
Secretariat of the
for Agriculture and Trade Policy
persistence of the cockroach over hundreds of
millions of years -- in which it hasn't much changed
in appearance -- while the planet has undergone dramatic
transformations is an impressive feat, but not enough
to win people's affection.
Indeed, the feeling of disgust
towards cockroaches is practically universal. Perhaps
contributing to the negative image is the fact that
cockroaches carry bacteria and microorganisms that
cause illness among humans.
Geologists from the University
of Ohio, in the United States, reported in 2001 the
discovery in a mine of the largest complete fossil
of a cockroach that inhabited the plant 300 million
years ago, 55 million years before the first dinosaurs.
The " Artopleura apustulatus" measured 8
These resistant bugs play an
important ecological role by incorporating nutrients
into the environment. Cockroaches consume organic
matter, and their waste in turn feeds microscopic
organisms that turn it into humus, enriching the earth's
But their resistance is just
what makes them so frustrating. Scientists in many
countries are at work to develop insecticides to control
cockroach populations where they have become a problem.
The Agricultural Research Service
the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,
identified the key mechanisms for insecticide resistance
developed by the German cockroach, Blatella germanica,
one of the most common cockroach species around the
world, measuring 12 to 16 mm.
The female produces 18 to 48
eggs every 20 to 25 days and, like all cockroach species,
it can carry bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea,
hepatitis, salmonella and tuberculosis, and the insect
itself can trigger allergies.
entomologist Steven M. Valles discovered a substance
called esterase in several cockroach species that
made them resistant to pesticides.
Valles's studies revealed that
mutations in the proteins of the insect's nervous
system were related to the ability to tolerate poisons.
It is of little comfort
to know that of the more than 4,000
cockroach species that inhabit the planet, only
a handful choose to share our homes.
Agricultural Research Service - cockroach resistance
Cockroach Home Page
Addictions - Tobacco
The death toll from tobacco use
could reach one billion this century, according to
estimates by the International Union Against Cancer
(UICC), a network
of 30 organizations from around the world.
If current rates of consumption
continue, the number of deaths attributed to tobacco
-- 100 million in the past hundred years -- will skyrocket,
says the World Health Organization (WHO).
The alarm was sounded during
the World Conference on Tobacco, held in Helsinki
Aug 3-8. Around 2,000 experts from more than 100 countries
studied international policies and proposals from
anti-tobacco groups. They also took a look at the
possibilities of achieving the goals set by the Convention
on Tobacco Control.
The Convention, signed in May
by 192 countries, includes among its objectives the
total ban on advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco
A study by the Pan-American Health
explains that tobacco consumption has been a part
of human cultures for hundreds of years, but it wasn't
until the past century that cigarettes began to be
manufactured on a massive scale.
Smoking became widespread and
today one out of three adults in the world smokes.
The U.S.-based center Science,
Tobacco and You explains that nicotine is the
cause of tobacco addiction. Nicotine is an active
ingredient in cigarette smoke. It is an alkaloid that
produces pleasant sensations and affects the chemistry
of the brain, says the center's website.
In 1492, when Christopher Columbus
reached the New World, he didn't pay much attention
to the tobacco plant, native to the Americas. He was
focused on finding gold. But some of his crew quickly
developed the habit of smoking… and the rest
Health Organization - Tobacco Free Initiative
Convention on Tobacco Control - final text
Tobacco and You
ASH - Action on Smoking