Articles in Category: ECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT



Amazonian mushroom eats plastic (Pestalotiopsis microspora)

Amazonian mushroom eats plastic (Pestalotiopsis microspora)


Since the first plastic polymer polyurethane was discovered back in 1937 by I.G. Farben [3], polyurethane, a synthetic polymer derived from the condensation of polyisocyanate and polyol widely used as a base material in various industries [2], became more and more a concern for the amounts of this type of plastic produced by the industry and the pollution generated by its disposal. Image: Morguefile.


What is organic farming?



The origin of the term organic farming dates back to 1939, when Lord Northbourne first used it in his book Look to the Land, published in 1940, where he described a holistic, ecologically balanced approach to farming, contrary to the already emerging artificial farming [1] that relied in non-natural chemicals that would artificially promote plant growth and rapidly increase farmers benefits.

In order to be considered organic, foods need to be free of artificial food additives, chemicals, pesticides and the like. It goes without saying that Genetically Modified Organisms fall out of the scope of organic food description.


Will plants replace petrol as new source for plastics?

University research shows how plants could become the new source for plastics, paints and bio engineered medicines


Only in the US about 1,500 plastic bottles are consumed every second, using 17 million petrol barrels each year to produce plastic bottles! [1].

With these figures in mind it is not a surprise to hear that Dutch scientists from Utrecht University, looking for other more ecological sources to produce plastics, have managed to create the basic chemical blocks from which plastic is made, lower olefins, but this time not from petrol but from plants.

Lower olefins are the basic "Lego" building blocks present in plastics, cosmetics and drugs, and are made of two or four carbons produced by steam cracking of crude oil-derived naphtha, however, oil reserves are not eternal and other sources for lower olefins were since long ago being investigated.

Utrecht University scientists are closely working with Dow Benelux, a chemical company that has already showed interest in the discovery and who'll probably be able to use such an innovative new technology for the production of organically developed bioplastics, bio-paints and bio-medicines Image: See credits under ref. [3] below. 


Will photosynthesis power our vehicles?


While we struggle to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, an increasing demand for fossil fuels to power our vehicles and homes forced scientist and researchers to find other more natural, sustainable and renewable energy sources. It seems a possible solution has been found by the Australian National University, do you want to know how? 

More antioxidants and less pesticides in organic crops


Organic farming aims to preserve soil and ecosystem health by forgoing the heavy use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides [4], so far so good but what does this bring to consumers? Why would consumers pay more for organic food if there was no difference between that one and non-organic food?

Consumers believe that organic food is healthier and more nutritious, presumably due to the absence of pesticides and artificial hormones [4], however, there is not much information regarding these potential health benefits of organically grown food, or, at least, it wasn't much until now.

In a study performed by an international team of experts led by Newcastle University, it has been found that organic crops contain much higher quantities of antioxidants and much lower incidence of pesticide residues [1].