Posted 17 hours ago

journeytoenglisheducation:

brains-and-bodies:

fuckyeah-nerdery:

discodick:

mindblowingscience:

pickledpennies:

m00nchaser:

If bees become extinct we will have exactly 4 YEARS to live on this planet. I don’t understand how “not giving a fuck” is more important than your life…

okay, I have a thing to say about this. I’m no expert on bees, but I am a biologist (and entomologist) so I think there is something I can contribute that’ll be of worth.

I agree entirely with the sentiment that we must protect honeybees. Obviously they are massively important for biodiversity, as well as pollinating food crops for humans. There is no doubt that if all the honeybees in the world were to vanish in a day that the consequences would be dire.

However, I disagree that the main cause for concern regarding honeybee death is the use of Genetically Modified (GM) crops. I’d be very interested to read a research paper that says ‘GM crops have killed millions of honeybees’, if indeed such a paper exists because in all honesty I find it highly unlikely that this is a true statement.

Let’s start with some facts about GM crops:

1. The development of GM crops is a highly regulated process, bound by strict country-specific legislature. A great number of trials are carried out long before commercial planting of a GM crop is even considered. It is these trials, and accompanying laboratory studies, that ensure a GM crop is safe to non-target organisms (such as honeybees) by investigating direct and indirect effects (Nap et al. 2003).

2. Crops that are genetically modified to express insecticidal proteins (for crop pest control) have a high level of specificity. This means that the insecticidal proteins being produced by the GM plant will only affect a narrow range of insect groups because of the chemical properties of the protein. For example, GM crops expressing insecticidal proteins sourced from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) will only target some Lepidopteran pests (caterpillars; Romeis et al. 2006). Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis of the literature found that GM Bt crops do not negatively affect the survival of adult honeybees or their larvae (Duan et al. 2008).

3. GM crops can be tailored such that the novel gene is expressed only in particular parts of the plant. For example, GM Bt rice plants express the toxin in the stems but not the grains (Datta et al. 1998). This technique means that gene expression can be excluded from the flowers/pollen of the crop plant, so that bees and other pollinators would not be affected. Neat, huh?

So those are a token few reasons why GM crops are safer than perhaps many people believe (as the result of a lot of questionable, non-scientific articles). To come back to our main point about honeybee death, I would like to briefly mention a few alternative explanations for the recent decline in honeybee populations. These are as follows:

1. Many bees have died as the result of broad-spectrum insecticide use. These are pesticides that lack specificity, and can be harmful to non-target organisms. Neonicotinoids are a well-studied example of this (Decourtye & Devillers, 2010). Not to worry, though, because many broad-spectrum pesticides including neonics are well on their way out. Indeed, the EU recently banned a large cohort of neonic pesticides. This is still a topic of controversy, mind (Goulson, 2013).

2. Many bees have died as the result of Varroa mite infestation. Imagine you’ve been bitten by several ticks, except those ticks are the size of dinner plates. That gives you an idea of the severity of a Varroa mite infestation on a single developing bee. The parasitisation of bees by Varroa mites and other parasites is often accompanied by disease transmission. This can result in colonies dying within two years after infestation (Johnson, 2011).

3. Many bees have died as the result of ‘colony collapse disorder’.  This is a phrase that has popped up a lot recently, and is basically an umbrella term for the various causes of bee death including parasite infestation, disease transmission, environmental stresses, and management stresses such as poor nutrition (Johnson, 2011). Colony collapse has been attributed to broad-spectrum pesticide use in some instances. However, it is has still been observed in countries where broad-spectrum pesticides have been withdrawn (in the EU, like I mentioned earlier; Johnson, 2011).

So those are my main points. Please excuse the bullet-point nature of this; I was trying to keep it fairly short. Not sure I managed that haha. But anyway, my take-home message is that GM crops are not the enemy when it comes to honeybee decline. If anything, bees are at much greater danger from the use of broad-spectrum pesticides and from parasites and diseases. Using GM can even help to alleviate some of the problems associated with broad-spectrum pesticides, as they greatly reduce the need to apply such chemicals (Romeis et al. 2006).

A finishing note: Do your homework. Go on google scholar and read some of the literature, making sure it is recent (within the past 10-15 years). Literature reviews are a great way to find out what the consensus is on any given topic. Don’t use popular media as your main source of information where science is concerned; they tend to favour scandal and exaggeration. You want to know what’s really going on? Check out some research articles and see for yourself.

Thanks for sticking it through to the end of this impromptu mini-essay! —Alice

References:

Datta, K., Vasquez, A., Tu, J., Torrizo, L., Alam, M. F., Oliva, N., Abrigo, E., Khush, G. S., & Datta, S. K. (1998). Constitutive and tissue-specific differential expression of the cryIA (b) gene in transgenic rice plants conferring resistance to rice insect pest. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 97(1-2), 20-30.

Decourtye, A., & Devillers, J. (2010). Ecotoxicity of neonicotinoid insecticides to bees. In Insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (pp. 85-95). Springer New York.

Duan, J. J., Marvier, M., Huesing, J., Dively, G., & Huang, Z. Y. (2008). A meta-analysis of effects of Bt crops on honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). PLoS One, 3(1), e1415.

Goulson, D. (2013). Neonicotinoids and bees: What’s all the buzz?. Significance, 10(3), 6-11.

Johnson, R. (2011). Honey bee colony collapse disorder. DIANE Publishing.

Nap, J. P., Metz, P. L., Escaler, M., & Conner, A. J. (2003). The release of genetically modified crops into the environment. The Plant Journal, 33(1), 1-18.

Romeis, J., Meissle, M., & Bigler, F. (2006). Transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis toxins and biological control. Nature biotechnology, 24(1), 63-71.

This commentary is SO important. Succinct and with proper sourcing; beautiful.

It infuriates me when people blame GMO for everything without actually examining the evidence.

Fucker, did you just compile and post a summarised university research paper in your leisure time? Fuck you. *flips table in frustration of assignment writing inadequacies* 

GODDAMN THEY EVEN PROVIDED REFERENCES.

Providing references should be mandatory. Go Alice!

*Snifs* This… is the most… BEAUTIFUL… post I have… ever… seen on Tumblr! The references! The beautiful references!

(Source: antinwo)

Posted 18 hours ago

eldiablocabra:

awkwardvagina:

alvxandra:

oh look it’s the leader of the free world breaking the cardinal rule of chipotleimage

image

"Retract your arm immediately, Mr. President" 

Posted 18 hours ago

riverdoge:

Man this series makes no fucking sense

Posted 18 hours ago

videohall:

Baby laughing while getting shots

> Rock star doctor.

Posted 18 hours ago
Posted 18 hours ago
Posted 1 day ago

NPR Science: Sorry, Lucy: The Myth Of The Misused Brain Is 100 Percent False

  1. ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:
  2. If you went to the movie theater this weekend, you might've caught the latest Scarlett Johansson action movie called "Lucy." It's about a woman who develops superpowers by harnessing the full potential of her brain.
  3. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LUCY")
  4. SCARLETT JOHANSSON: I'm able to do things I've never done before. I feel everything and I can control the elements around me.
  5. UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That's amazing.
  6. WESTERVELT: You've probably heard this idea before. Most people only use 10% of their brains. The other 90% of the basically dormant. Well, in the movie "Lucy," Morgan Freeman gives us this what-if scenario?
  7. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LUCY")
  8. MORGAN FREEMAN: What if there was a way of accessing 100% of our brain? What might we be capable of?
  9. DAVID EAGLEMAN: We would be capable of exactly what we're doing now, which is to say, we do use a hundred percent of our brain.
  10. WESTERVELT: That is David Eagleman.
  11. EAGLEMAN: I'm a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine.
  12. WESTERVELT: And he says, basically, all of us are like Lucy. We use all of our brains, all of time.
  13. EAGLEMAN: Even when you're just sitting around doing nothing your brain is screaming with activity all the time, around the clock; even when you're asleep it's screaming with activity.
  14. WESTERVELT: In other words, this is a total myth. Very wrong, but still very popular. Take this clip from an Ellen DeGeneres stand-up special.
  15. (SOUNDBITE OF STAND-UP SPECIAL)
  16. ELLEN DEGENERES: It's true, they say we use ten percent of our brain. Ten percent of our brain. And I think, imagine what we could accomplish if we used the other 60 percent? Do you know what I'm saying?
  17. AUDIENCE: (LAUGHTER).
  18. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TOMMY BOY")
  19. DAVID SPADE: Let's say the average person uses ten percent of their brain.
  20. WESTERVELT: It's even in the movie "Tommy Boy."
  21. (SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TOMMY BOY")
  22. SPADE: How much do you use? One and a half percent. The rest is clogged with malted hops and bong residue.
  23. WESTERVELT: Ariana Anderson is a researcher at UCLA. She looks at brain scans all day long. And she says, if someone were actually using just ten percent of their brain capacity...
  24. ARIANA ANDERSON: Well, they would probably be declared brain-dead.
  25. WESTERVELT: Sorry, "Tommy Boy." No one knows exactly where this myth came from but it's been around since at least the early 1900's. So why is this wrong idea still so popular?
  26. ANDERSON: Probably gives us some sort of hope that if we are doing things we shouldn't do, such as watching too much TV, alcohol abuse, well, it might be damaging our brain but it's probably damaging the 90 percent that we don't use. And that's not true. Whenever you're doing something that damages your brain, it's damaging something that's being used, and it's going to leave some sort of deficit behind.
  27. EAGLEMAN: For a long time I've wondered, why is this such a sticky myth?
  28. WESTERVELT: Again, David Eagleman.
  29. EAGLEMAN: And I think it's because it gives us a sense that there's something there to be unlocked, that we could be so much better than we could. And really, this has the same appeal as any fairytale or superhero story. I mean, it's the neural equivalent to Peter Parker becoming Spiderman.
  30. WESTERVELT: In other words, it's an idea that belongs in Hollywood.
Posted 2 days ago

shaxaphone:

cute things to call your girlfriend:

1. sugar 
2. honey 
3. flour 
4. egg 
5. 1/2lb butter 
6. stir 
7. pour into pan 
8. preheat to 375°

Posted 3 days ago

thatfunnyblog:

the most depressing thing I’ve ever seen

(Source: copyranter.blogspot.com)

Posted 5 days ago

ctenophore:

fangirladdie:

After I saw him in The Cripple of Inishmaan, I anxiously waited to meet Daniel Radcliffe at the stage door so I could get this card signed. Because I was toward the back of the crowd, I didn’t think Daniel would even notice the card, but I was very wrong. As soon as he caught sight of the card, Daniel started laughing. He then took the card and explained how he had wanted to sign one of the cards ever since he had found out about it and signed it with my Sharpie. Then he THANKED me for bringing it and took my phone and took a selfie with me. Needless to say, I was very happy.

But. But now you can’t play that card…