06.08.2022
Brexit fury: ‘Recipe for disaster’ warning for farmers over ‘rushed’ India-UK trade deal

Diplomats in UK and India are currently in the process of negotiating a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with New Delhi’s trade minister. It is believed a deal could be signed “within months.” In light of this, campaigners and experts have warned that if the Government rushes through a post-Brexit deal with India, UK consumers could face dramatic increases in ‘Highly Hazardous Pesticides’ (HHPs) in food staples.

As the Government is aiming to double its trade with India, it is likely to face pressure from New Delhi to relax Britain’s pesticide standards, which are far more aggressive than New Delhi’s.

In a new report from Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) and Sustain Alliance, trade expert Dr Emily Lydgate warned that Indian-produced staples with high levels of pesticides, such as rice, wheat and tea, could reach the UK.

Aside from introducing British consumers to toxic fruits and vegetables, the deal could also risk undercutting UK-based farmers, who may be able to compete with cheaper produce from India, it is claimed.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Josie Cohen, head of policy and campaigns at PAN UK, said: “Entering into a rushed trade deal with India would be a recipe for disaster for the UK farming industry, effectively giving Indian agribusiness a competitive advantage at a time when we are asking British farmers to produce more sustainably.

“Our farmers need more support than ever to help them reduce their pesticide use and we must ensure they aren’t short-changed for the sake of a lucrative trade deal.”

The UK Government’s own expert body has previously warned that a double standard between UK farmers and imported produce threatens to hand foreign agribusiness a competitive advantage and undercut Britain’s farming industry.

Given India’s status as one of the world’s largest food exporters, the Government has noted that a trade deal could see a fall of around £10million in domestic agricultural output.

Dr Emily Lydgate, reader in environmental law at the University of Sussex, said: “The Indian government has a long record of lobbying to relax levels of permitted pesticide residues and UK negotiators will inevitably face pressure to weaken domestic regulation.

“Indian produce regularly contains illegally high levels of pesticides, and with an already under-resourced UK border force following Britain’s exit from the EU, an FTA that weakens the rules could weaken pose a risk to public health.”

Vicki Hird, head of sustainable farming at Sustain, said: “This deal could turn significant health risks to the UK public into a competitive advantage for Indian agribusiness over our own farmers.

“A deal with one of the world’s largest agri-producers risks undermining the considerable efforts being made to ensure UK farming is more sustainable.

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  • 1 час, 12 минут назад 15.08.2022Science
    Putin’s plot to choke energy supplies foiled as China announces HUGE discovery of oil

    Sinopec, the world’s largest refiner by volume, has uncovered bumper stocks of natural gas and crude oil at the Shunbei oil and gas field in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The state-owned energy company, also known as China Petrochemical Corp, found what they said is one of the world’s deepest onshore commercial oil and gas fields. While Chinese Premier Xi Jinping may be rubbing his hands with glee, the development of this oil field could scupper Putin’s plan to control global fossil fuel supplies.

    Over the past year, the Russian President has used Europe’s reliance on Russian gas to exert political pressure amidst the invasion of Ukraine.

    But as EU countries have begun phasing out their Russian imports, Putin has been turning towards China to help fund his war.

    Over the past few months, Beijing and Moscow have signed a 30-year deal to pump gas into China, which helps Moscow overcome the gradual loss of its biggest consumer- Europe.

    This oil field could disrupt those plans, as Sinopec described this finding as a major milestone that will further improve the country’s energy supply while guaranteeing energy security, according to China Daily.

    This project, known as Shendi-1, is located in the central and western regions of the Tarim Basin and has an average reservoir burial depth of more than 7,300 metres.

    Luo Zuoxian, head of intelligence and research at the Sinopec Economics and Development Research Institute, noted that the discovery would provide a substantial boost to domestic oil and gas output in the country.

    He said: “The Tarim Basin, a major petroliferous basin in China, as well as one of the most difficult to explore due to its harsh ground environment and complicated underground conditions, has sufficient energy resources that will guarantee a continuous supply for the country’s future development.

    “The discovery has revealed a positive resource prospect in the region.”

    Speaking to Global Times, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University noted that the reserves found can meeting approximately two years of domestic oil demand.

    However, he added that not all of the oil that has been detected can be extracted from the deep layers.

    However, he noted that the Tarim basin is rich in oil and can meet China’s demands over the next decade.

    Sinopec has noted that the Shunbei oil field has confirmed reserves of 1.67 billion metric tons of crude oil and 94.58 billion cubic meters of natural gas so far, with a total output of more than 140 million tons of oil and gas equivalents.

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  • 1 час, 21 минута назад 15.08.2022Science
    Apple Maps could soon have ADVERTS, report claims

    They’re some of the most popular smartphones around the world, but if you own an iPhone, you could soon start seeing more ads.

    A new report by Bloomberg claims that Apple is testing ads in several of its pre-installed apps including Maps, Books, and Podcasts, as well as on Apple TV+.

    These ads would work similarly to those in the App Store, with businesses able to pay to rank at the top of search listings.

    ‘The only question is whether the customers of Apple—a champion of privacy and clean interfaces—are ready to live with a lot more ads,’ Bloomberg’s report said.

    Apple already displays ads in the News and Stocks apps, as well as paid-for ‘recommendations’ in the App Store when they use the search tab in the Suggested panel.

    However, Bloomberg’s report claims that this could be set to change.

    ‘Apple will also soon expand ads to the main Today tab and within third-party app download pages,’ it wrote.

    ‘Search ads in the App Store are a bit different: Developers can pay to have their app featured in results when a user searches terms like “car racing” or “basketball,” for instance.’

    This type of ad could also be coming to Apple’s Maps, Books, and Podcasts apps, as well as TV+, according to Bloomberg.

    ‘I believe that the iPhone maker will eventually expand search ads to Maps,’ its report states.

    ‘It also will likely add them to digital storefronts like Apple Books and Apple Podcasts.

    ‘And TV+ could generate more advertising with multiple tiers (just as Netflix Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. are doing with their streaming services).’

    Within Maps, ads would work similarly to those in the App Store, with businesses able to pay to rank at the top of listings.

    ‘For instance, a Japanese restaurant could pay money to rank at the top of local listings when users searched for “sushi”,’ Bloomberg said.

    Meanwhile, within the Books and Podcasts apps, publishers could pay for their work to appear higher in results, or in ads placed throughout the apps.

    Finally, on TV+, older shows could be offered for a lower price.

    Thankfully, the report suggests that it’s very unlikely Apple will start serving ads inside of third-party apps.

    The timeline for this remains unclear. MailOnline has contacted Apple for comment.

    Apple isn’t the only tech giant looking at adding ads – Netflix also hit the headlines earlier this year after it emerged that it had sped up plans to introduce a lower-priced ad-supported subscription plan.

    Netflix announced in April that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of the year, and expected to lose two million more in the second quarter.

    The share price fell significantly following the news, wiping away roughly $70 billion in the company’s market capitalisation.

    In response, Reed Hastings, Netflix’s co-chief executive, said the company was considering introducing adverts on a cheaper subscription package, and would ‘figure it out over the next year or two.’

    However, a note to employees, obtained by The New York Times, showed the pace of the proposal has drastically accelerated, and the new cheaper offering will be brought in in the final quarter.

    ‘Yes, it’s fast and ambitious and it will require some trade-offs,’ the note said.

    ‘Every major streaming company excluding Apple has or has announced an ad-supported service. For good reason, people want lower-priced options.’

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  • 11 часов, 23 минуты назад 15.08.2022Science
    ‘Game-changing’ breakthrough for organ transplants as scientists alter blood type of donor kidney

    Scientists have altered the blood type of donor kidneys in a ‘game-changing’ discovery that could boost the organ transplant supply.

    Kidneys from patients with an A blood type cannot currently be transplanted to those with a B blood type, nor the other way around. This means many patients are left waiting for a match.

    The problem is especially acute for ethnic minority groups, who are more likely to have B-type blood.

    Donation rates from these populations are low, so there are not enough kidneys to go round.

    But scientists have worked out how to convert kidneys to the universal O blood type, which will allow more transplants to take place.

    Researchers used a normothermic perfusion machine, which normally passes oxygenated blood through a donor kidney to preserve it.

    However, they used the device to flush blood infused with an enzyme through three kidneys to remove the blood-type markers, or antigens, that line the blood vessels.

    As a result, the organs were converted to O-type blood, which can be used for patients of any blood type.

    The breakthrough is the work of Professor Mike Nicholson, professor of transplant surgery at the University of Cambridge, and PhD student Serena MacMillan.

    Miss MacMillan said: ‘Our confidence was really boosted after we applied the enzyme to a piece of human kidney tissue and saw quickly that the antigens were removed. After this, we knew that the process is feasible and we just had to scale up the project to apply the enzyme to full-size human kidneys.

    ‘By taking B-type human kidneys and pumping the enzyme through the organ using our normothermic perfusion machine, we saw in a matter of just a few hours that we had converted a B-type kidney into an O type. It’s very exciting to think about how this could potentially impact so many lives.’

    People from ethnic minority groups often wait a year longer for a transplant than white patients, so this could help them most. Last year, just over 9 per cent of total organ donations came from black and minority ethnic donors – patients from these groups make up 33 per cent of the kidney transplant waiting list.

    Dr Aisling McMahon, of Kidney Research UK, said: ‘The research that Mike and Serena are undertaking is potentially game-changing.’

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  • 13 часов, 12 минут назад 15.08.2022Science
    From chocolate frogs to rainbow fish: Meet the best of this year’s newly described species

    Looking almost as delicious as their fictional counterpart, Synapturanus danta is a chocolate frog from the Peruvian Amazon that has only recently been described by science. The burrowing species has long been known to the local peoples, however, with one local name for it being “rana danta”, or the “tapir frog”, after its resemblance to the large-nosed Amazonian mammal. Conservation ecologist Dr Michelle Thompson of Chicago’s Field Museum said: “These frogs are really hard to find, and that leads to them being understudied.

    “It’s an example of the Amazon’s hidden diversity… it’s important to document it to understand how the ecosystem functions.”

    While they may be hard to see, the chocolate-coloured frogs aren’t hard to hear, the researchers explained.

    Dr Thompson added: “We just kept hearing this ‘beep-beep-beep’ coming from underground, and we suspected it could be a new species of burrowing frog.”

    According to the team, it took the assistance of local guides to capture a specimen, which they unearthed after digging in peatlands.

    S. danta was described in the journal Evolutionary Systematics.

    The Rose-Veiled Fairy Wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa), meanwhile, is a stunning, rainbow-coloured fish found living amid the reefs of the Maldives.

    It was brought to light by the California Academy of Sciences’ “Hope for Reefs” initiative, which aims to improve our understanding of, and help protect, coral reefs around the globe.

    The first species ever to be formally described by a Maldivian researchers, C. finifenmaa was first collected by researchers back in the 1990s — but was confused for the adult version of a different species, C. rubrisquamis, which was known only from a single juvenile.

    Unfortunately, the team said, even though the species has only just been described, it is already being exploited via the hobbyist aquarium trade.

    Paper author and ichthyologist Professor Luiz Rocha said: “Though the species is quite abundant and therefore not currently at high risk of over-exploitation, it’s still unsettling when a fish is already being commercialised before it even has a scientific name.

    “It speaks to how much biodiversity there is still left to be described from coral reef ecosystems.”

    C. finifenmaa was described in the journal ZooKeys.

    Talking of mass commercial appeal, our next species was named in honour of the American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

    Found living in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States, Nannaria swiftae is one of 16 new twisted-claw millipedes described by researchers back in April this year.

    Entomologist Dr Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech explained that he has been a fan of Ms Swift’s work for years.

    He said: “Her music helped me get through the highs and lows of graduate school, so naming a new millipede species after her is my way of saying thanks.”

    Twisted-claw millipedes are difficult to study, as they live on and under the forest floor, where they feast on decaying leaves and other plant matter, helping in the process to release vital nutrients back into the ecosystem.

    N. swiftae was also described in the journal ZooKeys.

    Ms Swift isn’t the only famous individual to be honoured this year.

    In 2018, the Rainforest Trust celebrated its 30th anniversary by auctioning off the naming rights for some new-to-science species.

    The winner, whose identity has not been revealed, elected to name a black-eyed frog from eastern Panama Pristimantis gretathunbergae in honour of the work the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has done in highlighting the need to combat climate change.

    Tragically, P. gretathunbergae lives in a habitat in a cloud forest that is heavily fragmented, threatened by encroaching deforestation and vulnerable to rising temperatures that it could well become extinct in the not-so-distant future.

    P. gretathunbergae was also described in ZooKeys.

    Our final stunning species to make its debut into the scientific literature this year is Phalotris shawnella — a flaming red snake with a distinctive yellow collar from the Cerrado forests of eastern Paraguay.

    P. shawnella, which is non-venomous, was found by zoologist Jean-Paul Brouard of Para La Tierra by chance while digging in Rancho Laguna Blanca back in 2014.

    Unfortunately, the species — which is known from only three individuals — is considered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “endangered”, being in imminent danger of extinction in the absence of measures to protect it.

    The researchers said: “This demonstrates once again the need to protect the natural environment in this region of Paraguay.

    “Laguna Blanca was designated as a nature reserve for a period of five years, but currently has no protection at all.

    “The preservation of this site should be considered a national priority for conservation.”

    P. shawnella was described in the journal Zoosystematics and Evolution.

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  • 19 часов, 12 минут назад 14.08.2022Science
    Meteor sighting: Space rock that caused ‘loud boom’ over Utah caught on camera

    When small space rocks enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, they are known as meteors or “shooting stars”. Residents in northern Utah said that they heard a loud boom early on Saturday. The same sound was also reported in the neighbouring state of Idaho.

    Wendi Melling is a resident of South Salt Lake, in the middle of Utah state.

    She told Sky News that she was just heading out of the door when she heard the strange sound caused by the disintegrating space rock.

    The noise, she said, was a “loud, deep booming sound”.

    The boom, she added, was succeeded by a few seconds of low rumbling.

    Ms Melling said: “It did sound similar to sonic booms I’ve heard before.”

    It was followed, she added, “by a short incident of a sound similar to low rolling thunder.

    “This rumbling noise that followed the boom [lasted] maybe three-four seconds.”

    On Twitter, engineer Matt Blank posted a clip recorded by his doorbell camera in which one can hear the sound of the meteor.

    Mr Blank said: “My money is on [a] high altitude meteor that blew up when it hit the atmosphere.”

    Utah Governor Spencer Cox wrote on Twitter that he also heard the sound of the meteor while out on a run in Salt Lake City.

    He said: “We have confirmed it was not seismic/earthquake [in origin] and not related to our military installations.”

    Mr Blank’s suggestion that the sound was caused by a high-altitude meteor, he added, “is likely the best theory”.

    In confirmation of this hypothesis, a video clip captured by Utah’s Snowbasin Resort shows a light source streaking across the sky above mountainous terrain.

    The resort account tweeted: “Did you hear that loud boom this morning?

    “Our webcams captured this meteor flying over Snowbasin!”

    The Salt Lake City office of the US National Weather Service also reported that the flash of the meteor as it burnt up was picked up by a satellite detection system.

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  • 21 час, 12 минут назад 14.08.2022Science
    Archaeology: Weaponry used in the destruction of Jerusalem’s Second Temple unearthed

    In the scriptures, the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem was seemingly predicted in Luke 21, Mark 13 and Matthew 24.

    In the latter Gospel, for example, Jesus is reported to have told his disciples: “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

    Within decades, this prophecy was apparently fulfilled when the forces of the Roman military commander and later emperor Titus destroyed the temple while crushing a Jewish rebellion in the year 70 AD.

    Now, archaeologists have found proof of the siege — in the form of the stones fired by the Roman army at Jerusalem’s walls to topple them before ransacking the temple.

    Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Kfir Arbiv said: “The Temple was destroyed after a four-month siege.

    “The Romans had a well-trained, massive army equipped with the best military innovations of their day. It was a ruthless war machine.

    “With the help of the computer, I located all the ballista exactly where they were found.

    “I took into account the local topography and the location of the Second Temple-period city fortification walls.

    “And I made ballistic calculations, including the launching angle and the throwing distance of the stones.”

    Mr Arbiv explained that he supported his investigation by reference to a first-person account of the siege penned by the Roman historian and military leader Flavius Josephus.

    The archaeologist has reported the discovery of an “exceptionally large” number of stones — some broken from use as projectiles — close to a defensive wall unearthed in the Russian Compound in the heart of Jerusalem.

    It is here, he explained, that the invading forces are believed to have made their breakthrough assault, having fired hundreds if not thousands of stone projectiles.

    Mr Arbiv added: “This is not surprising, as whoever controls this spot dominates the whole area and the fate of the city.

    “This aligns with Josephus’ account that Titus commanded [his forces] to penetrate the city from the north-western side of the city wall.”

    In addition, he noted, the angle of attack evokes the warning given by God to Jeremiah in the Old Testament that “from the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land”.

    According to the archaeologists, it is most likely that the Roman forces fired their stone missiles from the area of Nahalat HaShiv’a, which today is a neighbourhood of Jerusalem located outside of the walls of the old city.

    The stones the team unearthed were found to have come in a variety of sizes — from large ones launched over 1,300 feet by sophisticated war machines to small slingshots that would have been deployed by trained infantry.

    The former would have been intended to penetrate the city’s walls, while the latter would have been used to deter Jerusalem’s defenders from manning the ramparts during the siege.

    The excavations have also unearthed spears, swords and arrowheads — including those built to penetrate armour — dating back to the time of the conflict.

    Commenting on the findings, Israeli Antiquities Authority director Eli Eskosido emphasised the determination of the city’s defenders in the face of the forces of Rome,

    He said: “The physical evidence of the huge resources employed by the Roman army in Jerusalem reflects the extremely harsh battles that eventually led to the destruction of the Second Temple.

    “Notwithstanding the internal factions, a small group of Hewish defenders held off the Romans for a few months until the tragic destruction of the city.

    “The use of up-to-date research methods reveals more and more of the fascinating history of Jerusalem.”

    The destruction of the Second Temple is regarded as a tragedy by the Jewish community, who mark the occasion of the anniversary each year on the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which this year fell last weekend.

    Today, the site of the former temple is occupied by the Dome of the Rock — an Islamic shrine completed in 692 AD — although many long to build a third Jewish temple there.

    According to Jewish tradition, the presence of such a temple would herald the coming of a Jewish messiah, and its theoretical construction remains a point of tension between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

    Additional reporting by Michael Havis.

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