Friday, April 8, 2011

Biosolids EW, but wait..

Did you know that biosolids (human waste) from sewage treatment plants are treated and used as sustainable agriculture fertilizer in some parts of the world? Biosolids are a solid organic by-product of purification systems that treat wastewater from U.S. homes and industry. Biosolids have a range of uses. They primarily are used as natural fertilizer to improve the quality of land for agriculture and increased crop yields, but did you ever think that the food we consume are grown and developed by what comes out of us? Yes it’s true, so what do you think of this..

Let’s start with the pros. There are many advantages of biosolids. Biosolids recycling benefits are an excellent source of safe, organic nutrients. Biosolids can improve crop production, reduce soil erosion and protect water quality, provide topsoil for recreational uses, rescue strip-mined lands, enrich forest lands and conserve landfill space. Some people believe that biosolids pose a threat to human health and are not safe. Biosolids have been used for decades, if not centuries, with no demonstrated adverse affects to human health. The organic matter in biosolids improves soil, suitability for crop growth and water-holding capacity. Also, the application of biosolids reduces the need for commercial fertilizers. Recycling biosolids instead of disposing of them saves landfill space and can save communities money. Biosolids meeting strict quality criteria and applied at approved rates help improve crop growth and yield, according to studies done by the Pennsylvania State University and others. Nutrients found in biosolids, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and trace elements such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, sulfur and zinc, are necessary for crop production and growth.” 
Biosolids basically promotes farming, reduces emissions from transportation to landfills or it’s even a good free fertilizer. 

Biosolids: Yes? No? Maybe so?

Now the cons. Many people believe that there are potential health hazards to biosolids. There can be contamination following the build up of industrial waste and its true composition is unknown. It may contain hazardous chemicals and it’s possibly transferable to crops. Also the odour can cause problems for people who live where biosolids are used and many may not feel comfortable with the smell. Biosolids also contain nitrogen and phosphorus, which in excess can move into groundwater or surface water causing problems for animals.

With all the pros and cons I have mentioned, I believe that biosolids can cause problems for other people, but I personally love the fact that it is environmentally friendly. We, as the public are the potential stakeholders and we are influenced by the western view of human waste. By the pros I`ve mentioned, it is clear that biosolids not only benefits the environment but it helps crop production and growth. Right now, our environment is what I want to take care of and even though biosolids seem a little bit gross, I think it is beneficial in various ways.
Wow..never realized how many pros biosolids actually had..

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thank you technology!

Technology, technology, technology...where do i even begin? Let’s just say, it has a very big role in most aspects of our lives. Technology has the potential to improve the quality of life and provide many benefits to others. Many doctors and nurses use technology to improve our health which leads us in living longer. I personally think that a lot of people will not be able to survive without technology.

Medical technology plays a very important role in protecting the public’s health in various stages. The industry stands ready to provide whatever assistance is needed to prevent any illnesses and to help those already infected to recover fully and quickly.  Stethoscopes for example help the doctor listen to a person’s heartbeat, which are the sounds of the heart valves closing. It can also be used to detect problems with the lungs such as asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis. There are also electrical stethoscopes, which use a kind of microphone to pick up and amplify the sound. With this use of technology, doctors have the ability to understand what is taking place inside our body and the effects it has upon our self.

Also, x-rays show the diagnosis of many diseases. Xrays can be used to to view, moniter or daignosis bone fractires, join injuries and infections, artery blockages, abdominal pain and even cancer. This form of technology is very helpful to human beings due in finding out what is causing them pain or why they’re not feeling the way they should be feeling. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation. They sit between gamma and ultraviolet on the spectrum. Their penetrating power is useful in diagnostic medicine, for which they are best known, but they also have a variety of other uses. Since everyone’s body functions differently and people have different problems, doctors’ use x-rays to understand some of our internal body systems. 

I believe that the importance of technology has a big impact in our lives. Technology like medications such as targeted therapies for cancer, antidepressants, medical and surgical procedures, medical devices such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans, screening tests such as fecal occult blood test for colorectal cancer, electronic support systems such as telemedicine, and electronic medical records all influence each and every one of our lives. Each of us uses technology everyday but we don’t think about what technology can do for us and how it can help our life. Many types of technology helps different parts of your body. Medical technologies include diagnosis of diseases (e.g. X-ray), treatment of diseases (e.g. chemotherapy for cancer), prevention of diseases (e.g. immunization), screening for diseases (e.g. mammography), rehabilitation (e.g. physical therapy), automation and reducing errors (e.g. computerized order physician entry) and improving quality of life of patients (e.g. artificial legs and arms). These technologies all develop medical procedures and give us the capability to recognize and appreciate the human body and the internal systems. Canadians have not only made great contributions to the world, but they have helped understand our internal body systems and assisted with maintaining our health. 
Do you? 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Feeding a Growing Population vs Conserving Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variability of all living organisms. It makes up the structure of the ecosystems and habitats that support essential living resources. It helps provide for basic human needs such as food, shelter, and medicine. As we recall the meaning of biodiversity, we would not want our world that we live in to endure. This can happen by relying only on a few highly productive livestock breeds and crop varieties, which therefore allows less productive breeds to become extinct and allows the genetic diversity to decrease. This leads us to the various differences between industrial and sustainable farming. The picture below clearly shows many differences between these two types of agriculture.
 By looking at the picture above, it is clearly shown that industrial agriculture is not good and it is taking over to provide people with cheap and large amounts of food, but at the same time putting the health and well being of those species at risk. If the agriculture industry keeps up with the rapid growth of the global human population, more industrial farming would be used instead of sustainable farming and it can not only cause species to become extinct but there are also environmental health concerns such as, monocultures are wearing away biodiversity among both plants and animals. Industrial agriculture depends on expensive inputs from off the farm (e.g., pesticides and fertilizer), many of which generate wastes that harm the environment. The picture below shows industrial agriculture and how it is completely dependent on oil-based products from fuel to pesticides and fertilizers.

Sustainable farming on the other hand, produces foods without excessive use of pesticides and other hazardous chemical inputs. It is healthier than industrial farming as organic crops contain significantly more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Organic foods contain higher levels of antioxidants, which help fight certain types of cancer as well. In sustainable farming there aren’t any animal waste issues as they do not raise more animals than the land is capable of sustaining. Because of this farmers are able to use manure as fertilizer for their crops. No chemical fertilizers are needed as it avoids pollution problems. Sustainable farmers recognize the importance of protecting the natural environment. They manage their farms in a responsible manner, maintaining the fertility of the land and preserving resources for future generations. Natural farming is the nature-healing way of growing food as said in the picture below.  

In my opinion, I personally don’t think it’s worth getting rid of some species just to get cheaper and more of one specific type of food.  By researching about industrial farming and comparing it with sustainable farming, it shocks me to see that industrial agriculture actually takes place where we live. It causes continuous production of animals which reduces genetic diversity. This leads to animals becoming extinct and biodiversity reducing. It has caused many problems which made animals extinct and has caused harmful diseases to human beings. So you decide, industrial or sustainable farming?



1. Jessica's Blog
2. Frances's Blog

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Designer babies are a term used by the media to describe the future of modifying or selecting our children’s genes for desirable characteristics.  In order to select healthy embryos, new and improves technology allow parents and doctors to screen embryos for genetic disorders. In the future because of the level of technology increasing, we may be able to modify embryos and choose many characteristics such as medical and cosmetic and use genetic technologies to modify them. In the Oxford English Dictionary, designer babies are defined as “a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with in vitro fertilization to ensure the presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics.” If a couple is having difficulty conceiving a child, because the quantity or quality of the man's sperm is poor, in vitro fertilisation or IVF can be used. This is where the egg is fertilized outside the woman's body and then implanted back into her uterus. Below is a picture of In Vitro Fertilization.

Designer babies have many pros to it. Genetic screening can reduce the baby's chances of being born with several serious diseases like Famial hypercholesterolemia, rare blood disorders such as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, etc. In January 2009, a British mother gave birth to a healthy baby girl having used the process of IVF to ensure her child did not inherit her breast cancer causing BRCA1 gene. The birth was the first of its kind and has been slammed by many disability and pro-life organisations as unethical. I believe that designer babies do have many advantages, but also I do not think its right. After reading about the British mother, many thoughts had come into my head that maybe designing a baby isn’t bad and it depends on how a human being would look at it. Below is a picture of the British mother who saved her baby girl from having breast cancer.  

Mothers are getting more options 

Designer babies originally began with the idea of checking embryos for diseases or other problems before being inserted into the womb. However, this leads to changes that you would never think of. Changes such as cosmetic changes are pushing it a bit too much over the line. The next step will be to make the “perfect” child. There is a huge difference between protecting your child and the perfect child. I personally think that preventing a child from becoming who he or she wants to be is wrong. If you made the child to be more artistic and creative than logical, they might grow up following a different path than what nature intended for them. I don’t know, to me that does not seem fair and right.
I believe that genetic research has gone too far and hundreds of thousands of dollars have being spent on researching for designer babies, when it could be spent on researching for incurable diseases. If the genetic research of designer babies continues, then more traits concerning the babies could be changed. Now ask yourself this question, would there be any diversity in our world anymore? Imagine almost everywhere you go, you see a blond blue-eyed person. That would be pretty cool, I can’t lie but this example is a pretty extreme example, but it can become reality if more parents decide to have a designer baby.

The video below is talking about designer babies. I agree with exactly what they’re saying and their view on designer babies. Do you do too? Watch the two minute video and tell me what you think.


1. "Designer Babies: Creating the Perfect Child - CNN." Featured Articles From The CNN. 30 Oct. 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.
2. "Designer Babies: Ethical Considerations (ActionBioscience)." ActionBioscience - Promoting Bioscience Literacy. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.

Johnson, By Priya. "Pros and Cons of Designer Babies." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.
4. Way, By The. "Designer Babies – Like It Or Not, Here They Come | Singularity Hub." Singularity Blog Covering Robots, Genetics, Stem Cells, Transhumanism, The Brain, The Future. Web. 13 Nov. 2010. 5. "What Is a Designer Baby?" Bionet - New Discoveries in Life Sciences - Explore the Science and Debate the Issues. Web. 13 Nov. 2010.


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Human Intervention of Biodiversity in our Ecosystems

Biodiversity is the key point to a human’s life as it revolves around a human’s existence. As we know now scientists consider humans as the most invasive species, as we can greatly make a huge impact on the environment. The media has enforced this and has been focusing on the negative consequences due to human interaction.
"The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our eyes to grow sharper"

Then again, human intervention is being used also to positively affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems. For example, “Over 8,000 tree species, 10% of the world's total, are threatened with extinction.” (1) The Global Trees Campaign found this important because they’re threatening many important species, so they decided to begin to save various amounts of trees from preservation. This campaign involves the partnership with a series of organizations, including government agencies, non-government organizations, research institutions and local groups to help prosper the consciousness of tree species that encounter many threats. Human involvement can play a major role because the more we help, the more successful this campaign can be and can positively affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems. This campaign strives to be successful and doesn’t impact negatively on human needs.   
World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) was founded in 1967 by Senator Alan MacNaughton, and has become one of the country's leading conservation organizations, enjoying the active support of more than 150,000 Canadians.”(2) It is another organization being used to positively affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems. It is an organization that protects various types of wild life species and habitats. As years passed by, this association has grown and is not only protecting wildlife species and habitats but also, protecting life on Earth, including our own. This is a group that its work revolves around life and living because their goal is to protect and restore ecosystems and to make a living on a healthy planet. By humans joining and becoming one of their partners in the organization, this protects many species around the world and also gives children a healthier future. WWF Canada puts effort into everything they do, just like any other organization. But what is different about this organization? Not only does it preserve species that are at danger, but it protects habitats and focuses on approaching global threats.

Human involvement is clearly being used to affect the biodiversity of our ecosystems in a positive way. Although the media has focused on negative consequences due to human interaction, humans have also contributed in a positive way to help the biodiversity of our ecosystems. “The human population is at 6 billion; with an annual global growth rate of 1.8%, three more people are added to the earth every second.”(3) As the human population increases, it affects the biodiversity of our ecosystems positively and negatively, but as for the media they focus only on the negative aspects. Now in this world, there are organizations, campaigns, initiatives and projects that are useful to humans so they can get involved and have a positive effect on the biodiversity of our ecosystems.

1.       Flauna, and Flora. "The Global Trees Campaign." Global Trees Campaign. Web. 21 Sept. 2010.
2.       Conservation Successes in Canada." World Wildlife Fund Canada - Local to Global Environmental Conservation. 2008 WWF Canada. Web. 22 Sept. 2010.
3.       Miller, R. R. "Impacts on Biodiversity." Index. Web. 22 Sept. 2010.

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