Danger: Chemical Agriculture!

Allison Hall

A problem facing modern society remains the use of chemicals in agriculture. While they provide some benefits, the negative aspects far outweigh the positive. Chemically modified agriculture poses a threat to humanity by contaminating livestock, poisoning plant life and contributing to the international phenomenon of global warming.

Modernly, farmers and livestock owners use growth hormones and other chemicals to rapidly grow animals to disperse the meat in bulk and quickly. These methods are used not only to help the animal to grow but also to bump up the speed to which they grow to profit both farmers and corporations. These chemicals pose not only a threat to the animals but also possibly to the people ingesting it. If the thought of humans ingesting excess growth hormone does not terrify you, then the idea that factories use substances such as ammonia to sterilize meats should. The real points are the idea that these animals do not get the proper treatment and care that they deserve and the ingestion of this meat could result in dangers. Most chickens raised for their meat lack the ability to walk or see by the time they are slaughtered for profit. These steroids have the capabilities of working on humans the way that it works on any other mammal. It is impossible to tell whether the hormones in the meats eaten are natural or not. According to Renu Ghandi and Suzanne M. Snedeker, authors of “Consumer Concerns about Hormones in Food”, “… it is not possible to differentiate between the hormones produced naturally by the animal and those used to treat the animal. This makes it “difficult to determine exactly how much of the hormone used for treatment remains in the meat or the milk.” This obviously raises questions, such as whether these added hormones are contributing to ailments such as cancers or obesity.

In relation to the contamination to meats, plants are suffering as well. Genetic engineering, pesticides and weed killers are being used to kill insects and weeds and enhance plant growth; however, it is being done in excess and at times not even hitting the intended target. Instead, it partakes in run-off which adds to the contamination of both water outlets and, yet again, animals. These chemicals travel from the plants to other location via rain and normal hydration methods. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring says, “… chemicals sprayed on crop lands or forests or gardens lie long in soil, entering into living organisms, passing from one to another in a chain of poisoning and death.” Not only does this harm animals, but it harms animals that, once again, humans consume. This is not the only draw back to chemicals in farming. As far as chemically modifying plants, it would have the same effect as modifying animals. These growth hormones and chemicals are present in food consumed by man. The effects may not be drastic immediately, but a slow build up is sure to be a problem.

It is no secret that the earth’s atmosphere has been altered in ways that could be both artificial as well as naturally produced. In fact, Carson wrote “The most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous lethal materials.”  These chemical contaminating, pesticides in particular, contribute to global warming. They increase the carbon levels in the atmosphere which plays a hand in the rising heat levels. Carbon creates this sort of blanket that traps in heat. With no escape the rays from the sun bounce around in the earth’s atmosphere and cause rising heat levels. Yes, other things have become a problem in this regard, but in trying to fix the issue, chemical agriculture should be looked at.

In conclusion, using chemicals in our agriculture lessens the health accountability for both our animals and plants while also playing part in the demotion of atmospheric stability. It may, at this point, not be a possibility to completely outlaw the use of chemicals, but alternatives could be found and in the mean time the use of these chemicals can be lessened.

The Crisis in Flint…Coincidence or Environmental Racism?

Anthony Hamilton

By now we are all aware of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. There are an unacceptable amount of people in the city who are living below the poverty level and also over 60% of them happen to be African Americans. Whole families have been poisoned by drinking water that was never fit to drink, yet they’ve been fed this water for a period of time, and now there are many health problems beginning to show up because of this.

This story is actually not as new as one might think. It was first broken in 2014 that there was potential contamination in Flint’s water system. Al Jazeera America was first to break the story. The story was then largely ignored until recently when Flint became news again with residents showing the news samples of the brown water they are expected to drink, cook and bathe with, and it doesn’t appear to be fit for any type of human consumption.

The homes of Flint residents have been tested and their homes show there are 10 times the amount of lead that is considered the norm. As a result of this, members of the community who would wish to leave will not be able to sell their homes in any move, because it’s illegal to sell a home that has lead issues.

In all of this, it’s amazing that the Governor of Michigan isn’t indeed facing criminal charges over this situation. According to an article in archive.freep.com, Michigan has a 500 plus million dollar surplus, as well as a rainy day fund, yet the governor has said that removing the lead containing pipes is not even a priority to him. There is also strong evidence that he knew about the contamination as early as 2014 when he began shipping cases of bottled water to state employees but not everyday citizens.

When the first attempts to gather clean water for the residents of Flint, an amazing thing happened. Cher revealed, during an interview on CNN that she attempted to gather water for the citizens of Flint, and no American bottled water company was willing to donate any water to the poverty stricken, predominantly black community of Flint. Cher had to go outside of the United States to get water for them.

The Michigan National Guard was called in to distribute the water, but they declined taking it to the so-called worst areas of Flint, saying it would be too dangerous. This from people we would count on to help protect the U.S. during times of war.

The Flint police have also been using this situation to their advantage. According to articles on Bing.com/news and Trofire.com, under the guise of delivering water filters to the residents, they are in fact taking advantage of the opportunity to arrest those residents who have warrants. As an ex-law enforcement person, I do not agree with their actions at all.

According to westsidegazette.com as well as newpittsburgcourier.com, this disaster has indeed been labeled as a man-made disaster caused by the emergency manager that the state installed, in a cost-cutting measure that went horrible wrong, which again leads me to wonder why they are focused strictly on the emergency manager when he is simply a scapegoat meant to do the governor’s bidding.

When the change was made from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in 2014, the residents immediately began to complain about the smell and taste of their tap water, but they were largely ignored according to nytimes.com. Now they can no longer be ignored because they’re too black or too poor to have a voice. The entire world is now aware of what has been done.

Judge Greg Mathis, in an interview with journalist Roland Martin on Newsone Now likened this ordeal to a terrorist attack. “Every day, our homeland security’s biggest fear is terrorists poisoning the water,” Mathis said. “The Secretary of Defense talks nervously about it.” Mathis continues, “In this case, the government has poisoned the water, causing permanent loss of health.”

Mathis also speaks on the possibility of criminal charges in what he calls the poisoning of an American city.

Now there are children experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning, including headaches, anemia, dental problems and their internal organs not functioning properly. Adults are experiencing hair loss, skin disorders, and seizures as well as weakening of teeth and bones along with many potentially fatal cases of Legionnaires’ disease.

This whole situation is remarkably similar to the response to hurricane Katrina where the upscale areas of New Orleans immediately received aid, but those who, like the majority of Flint residents were poor, and less fortunate were left to fend for themselves and die. The same can be said for the residents of Flint.

I read an article on www.mlive.com about the General Motors plant in Flint having ceased using it for fear that it will corrode the metal, yet residents are expected to drink, cook and bathe in that water, and continue to receive water bills for water they can’t use.

I wonder how long this would have been allowed to go on and how quick it would be fixed were Flint an upscale community. Here’s to the hope that they receive justice, and those who perpetrated this tragedy upon the get what they deserve.

Adopt Don’t Shop

Jamie Williamson

Yesterday was National Mutt Day, and everyone should celebrate it by going out and adopting a dog. Adopting a puppy can be a truly rewarding process. The puppy gets a new chance at life and the people adopting get a sense of truly rescuing an innocent creature. If you already have a dog or pet then celebrate them being in your life and helping you live a happy live.

I have personally adopted a puppy hand given him a chance to know love and a good home. My puppy was a dachshund named Bingles we adopted him from Texas Star Rescue when they were outside of Petco one weekend. Bingles now enjoys a laid back home life with a big backyard.

Puppies from a pet shop are often from puppy mills and the puppies are often mistreated. Many shops are not aware of the puppy mills. This is not saying pet shops are wrong and you can not buy a pet from there. Adopting is often cheaper and is run by volunteers. Volunteers are responsible for finding the dogs and puppies foster homes. Adopting animals can help bring joy to both the owners and the pets.

Pesticides in the Hive

Stephen Jones

Chemicals have been used for decades in order to ensure the growth and survival of crops essential to everyday life, but many of these chemicals are possibly affecting organisms outside of their intended targets, including the bee; an insect essential to the reproduction of various flowering plants. The chemicals scientists believe to be harmful to bees are known as neonicotinoids. These chemicals are synthetic derivatives of the widely used, naturally-occurring pesticide, nicotine.

bees

Bee populations are dramatically on the decline, and scientists are looking for what factors could be responsible for said decline. Dr. Chris Connolly and his colleagues conducted a study at Dundee’s School of Medicine consisting of a sample population of bees, and the conclusion suggests the decline in the bee population is partially due to neonicotinoids. In the study, Dr. Connolly found exposure to low levels of neonicotinoids caused a 55 percent reduction of the live bee population. Dr. Connolly states, “Our research demonstrates beyond doubt that the level of neonicotinoids generally accepted as the average level present in the wild causes brain dysfunction and colonies to perform poorly when consumed by bumblebees.” Even though the pesticides did not kill the bees, the effects of the neurotoxins could still be seen through the examination of the bees’ brains and cells. As mentioned before, the bee population was exposed to low levels of neonicotinoids, resulting in the shutdown of mitochondria, the failure to recognize the scent of a flower, and the inability to remember their way back to the nest.

What is important to remember about the study is the scientists are not suggesting that insect neurotoxins are wholly at fault; but when looking at the results of this study, it is hard not to believe the aforementioned pesticides are not partially to blame. Dr. Connolly’s analysis is only one of many experiments looking into the side-effects of pesticides, and with the number of studies steadily growing; various national governments have started to take action concerning the use of pesticides within the environment. This past September, a US court reversed the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, due to data the court called “flawed and limited.” Although the court denied the use of sulfoxaflor, most neonicotinoids are still approved for use within the US; the situation is the polar opposite in the EU. The EU currently prohibits the use of most neonicotinoids and, as of July, allows the use of sulfoxaflor, even though the European Food Standards Authority believed the lack of information on sulfoxaflor does not exclude the possibility of a negative impact on the already deteriorating bee populations.

The unwanted influence of insect neurotoxins on bees is one of many factors we must look at when examining humans’ usage of chemicals in agriculture, but finding out whether or not these pesticides are significantly hurting bee populations is essential in ensuring the survival of many plant species we rely on every day.

Sources:

http://www.phys.org/news/2015-02-neonicotinoid-insecticides-impair-bee-brains.html

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28167-bees-win-as-us-court-rules-against-neonicotinoid-pesticide/

Behind the Bucking Chutes

Laney Davis

The smell of cotton candy and rough stock animals filled the air, sounds of classic rock vibrated the bleachers, and hearts pounded awaiting the start of the rodeo. Four States Fair and Rodeo (FSFR) held their 71st annual rodeo September 16-19.

FSFR hosted four nights of rodeo. The rodeo was sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and Women’s Pro Rodeo Association. Competitors came from all over the United States to win the first place title in their event. The performance was action packed with cowboys and cowgirls competing in rough stock event s and timed events.

This rodeo is different each year. Not only are there different competitors, but there is a new specialty act. This year the FSFR hired Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill as the rodeo clown. Lerwill is a 6-time PRCA Comedy Act of the Year. He keeps the crowd laughing and entertained the while the rodeo is going on. Toward the end of the rodeo, he and another person perform a skit with a dirt bike, and Lerwill jumps a horse trailer and dually truck. Lerwill does not just keep the crowd laughing. He keeps them on their toes as well.

To make the rodeo even more special each year, there are two young ladies crowned with the titles Miss Four States Fair and Rodeo Queen and Miss Teen Four States Fair and Rodeo Queen. At the last performance of the rodeo on Saturday night the young women are presented with their new titles and crowns. They will represent the fair and rodeo locally and nationally as ambassadors for the 2016 year.

Now the Ferris wheel is down and the rodeo dirt is being hauled out of the arena. Another successful Four States Fair and Rodeo is in the history books.

Rodeo on the Road

Laney Davis

Hands waving in the cool, Fall breeze and children’s laughter filled the air Saturday the 12th on the streets of Downtown Texarkana. The 71st annual rodeo came to town and to kick it off they held their famous Four States Fair and Rodeo parade.

Early that morning the parade route was being set by the police and people were putting final touches on their floats. The parade started on Broad Street and intertwined throughout Texas Boulevard, Third Street, ending on State Line Avenue. There were over 100 entries in the parade — drill teams, school bands, cheerleaders, businesses, radio stations, rodeo queens, and even the newly crowned Miss Four States Fair and Rodeo Queen waving to the crowd on the packed side walks.

As with the previous annual parades, you could follow it on local cable TV and even on Facebook though Texarkana Today. Behind the cameras was a table full of judges commentating and judging the parade. Around noon the parade ended and the President of Four States Fair and Rodeo President pronounced it a success.

NSG Lends a Helping Paw

Leslie Arietta

On Saturday September 12th members of the National Sorority Interest Group (NSG) of Texas A&M University-Texarkana (TAMUT) lent a helping paw to the community. NSG members woke up early to serve at the Animal Care and Adoption Center of Texarkana.

Serving at the animal shelter was not typical playing with dogs and cats. The members were split into groups to help clean and organize different areas. Some members volunteered with the cats and the others with the dogs. The cat volunteers organized the cat food and supplies in the pantry. The dog volunteers split up into multiple groups around the area. NSG members got their hands dirty washing dog bowls and organizing the supply rooms, the back of the animal shelter, and the office and bathroom areas in the front.

When all the hard work was done NSG volunteers finally got to interact with the dogs and cats. They got to bathe the dogs that were dirty while others were cleaning out the cat boxes. Just spending a couple of hours with these homeless animals makes a difference in their lives.

The Animal Care and Adoption Center was the first of the many community service hours NSG will be doing and it is open to any volunteers in the community. Not only was it a good opportunity for community service, it was also an opportunity for NSG to bond in their sisterhood and become a part of something bigger than their organization.

Clydesdales Trot into Texarkana


One of the Budweiser Clydesdales in His Regalia at Spring Lake Park.

One of the Budweiser Clydesdales in His Regalia at Spring Lake Park.

Garrett Griffin

The “clankity, clankity, clank” of horseshoes pounding the pavement under the weight of some of the largest horses in the world entertained hundreds on Saturday, August 30th. Earlier that week, the Budweiser Clydesdales came to Spring Lake Park as a part of a celebration of excellence for Eagle Distributing, of Texarkana, Ark. The company was to be awarded the distinction of being a Budweiser “Ambassador of Excellence,” a title only seventeen other distributors in the country have obtained.

The main attraction was the horses that have mesmerized thousands across the United States since their first appearance eight decades ago. On Saturday, the horses and their wagon were at Spring Lake Park in Texarkana, Texas. With hundreds of people on the grassy mall in the center of the park the horses trotted their 16,000 pound combined weight displaying their true power and beauty as children ran alongside at a distance.

One of the Trained Dalmations Lays Down on the Job.

One of the Trained Dalmations Lays Down on the Job.

The eight hefty horses stopped on the southeast corner allowing the onlookers to get a closer glimpse of them and their wagon, with its trained Dalmatian dog and two drivers. Mr. Tim O’Neal, the owner of Eagle Distributing, was along for the ride. After allowing the public to admire the horses, the drivers of the wagon guided it towards the stage where Mr. O’Neal made his way to the platform for the ceremony. It was announced on stage, by a Budweiser representative, that Eagle Distributing is the first dealer to be awarded the “AOE” status in Arkansas.

Mr. O’Neal first received a custom red jacket embroidered with a Budweiser Clydesdale on the chest. Next the “Ambassador of Excellence” award was uncovered. It was a large bronze figure of “Big Jake,” a Clydesdale who is traditionally the largest in the team. Finally, he and his wife were presented with a special Clydesdale horse blanket with their company’s name on it. This blanket is the same as the ones the horses wear on the farms at the famous Busch Gardens in Missouri.

Mr. O'Neal Admires "Big Jake."

Mr. O’Neal Admires “Big Jake.”

After accepting the awards Mr. O’Neal made said the employees were the real reason for the award and they were the ones that made it possible. In addition, $5,000 was donated to the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. After the ceremony, visitors were welcomed to come and have their photo taken with one of the horses.

Puppy Service

Alyssa Howard

How important is community service to you? Have you ever thought of all the organizations within your community that desperately need volunteers to assist in their services? Look around; you will easily find an organization to share your time with.

Community service is one of the National Panhellenic Council’s strong values. We strive to serve our university and our community the best we can. For the past couple of weeks we have held a donation drive for The Texarkana Animal Shelter. The donations we needed were dog and cat food, cleaning supplies, blankets and/or towels, and coins. At the end of the two weeks, we raised 20 dollars in coins, several sacks of 16, 50, and 100 pound dog food, 16 pound sacks of cat food, cans of dog and cat food, cleaning supplies, towels, and blankets. We want to give our appreciation to everyone that contributed to our donation drive.

Last Sunday we delivered all of the donations to the shelter and volunteered for three hours. We showed up on a perfect day, because they needed a big cleaning before the mayor comes in two weeks. There were 13 of us that arrived to work, so we split up into two groups. One group went downstairs, and the rest of us worked upstairs. First, we washed and dried all of the food bowls. Of course we made an assembly line, that way we could get the job done quicker.
image

After we washed dishes, we scrubbed every pen with a detergent/bleach mixture. Warning: if clumps of hair grosses you out, do not scrub the floor of a dog pen with a sponge. It was quite comical hearing some of the girls gagging and squealing. It was also great to see the teamwork happening while cleaning the pens. After we finished a couple of them, there seemed to be a pattern that we caught on to. Everyone had a certain job that they did, and it worked perfectly.
image

Next, we did laundry and organized one of the closets full of blankets, towels, and rugs. After we finished, our curiosity got the best of us, and we decided to travel downstairs to check on the other girls. Upon arriving, we learn that they have been holding some of the most adorable puppies we have ever seen. As soon as we saw small, fluffy balls of playfulness, we were sold. Minutes later, we discover a carrier full of another ten puppies. Our minds became overloaded with happiness. The employees could tell we were puppy lovers, so we got to bathe about 13 puppies. It was very interesting to see the difference in puppy personalities during bath time. Some went completely stiff, others went “panic attack mode” and splashed soap and water all over the place. In other words, bath time was quite comical.
image

image

image

At the end of our volunteer experience, the employees gave us their deepest appreciation. We made their day much easier, while their animals made our hearts warmer. If anyone is looking for community service hours or just wants to volunteer their time to help the community, please consider going to The Texarkana Animal Shelter. They can always use help and donations. Also, if anyone is looking for a new pet, please adopt one from the shelter. There is an abundance of sweet animals that need a loving home. The best pets are rescue animals.
image

How can you deny that face?
image

By:Alyssa Howard

(I copied and pasted the images, but let me know if they showed up or not please. I can send them to you, if not.)

Seeds for Life


Spring is here and there is no better time than now to start your first fruit and vegetable garden. Having a home garden is beneficial for many reasons, the primary reasons are it being cost effective and your harvest is usually more nutrient dense than store bought produce. Growing your own garden can be very rewarding for you and the environment. If this is a task you are willing to tackle, there are several things you should know in order to ensure success of your first gardening attempts.

Having the proper gear is essential to growing a home garden; it makes gardening easier so that it feels more like a hobby rather than a task. Here are the basic but necessary tools every gardener should equip their self with.

Trowel-this small but mighty tool aids in digging holes for seeds and transplants.

Gloves-Blisters are inevitable, however, wearing gloves will help minimize harm to your hands and protect them from bugs and foreign objects found in the soil.

Sun hat/ cap-Protection from the sun is very important; use sunscreen as additional protection.

Water hose & Sprinkler- This will help minimize the hassle of watering plants. Simply turn the sprinkler system on for 15 minutes upon waking up in the morning, this will protect the vegetation from full sun radiation damage.

Hoe-This will assist in controlling weeds in your garden beds.

Wheel Barrow-For transportation of soil and compost.

Rake-For spreading soil and compost as well as mulch, hay and straw.

Shears- Will help maintain and prune plants.

After the necessary tools have been bought it is important to determine where exactly the garden will be and which type of garden will be used. It is recommend that it lie in a area where plants will see full sun, this means at minimum 6-8 hours. The garden should be isolated and free from other plants, trees and invasive species.

Traditional in ground gardens are more difficult to maintain but allow for larger garden beds. Plants should be at least 8 inches deep with varying distances apart.

Raised-bed increase the drainage and prevent your soil from holding too much water.

Container- the easiest and simplest of all garden beds, allow for the gardener to focus on one plant at a time and can be located anywhere within full sun’s reach.

Once the location has been decided, whether its in ground or in a raised bed, it is time to prep the soil. Soil is the most important aspect of a garden, it must be of good quality and free from sand, clay, glass and other contaminants and most importantly well aerated and dry for preparation of seeds and transplants. Clay tends to hold water, so strongly consider adding compost to alleviate standing water, which will attract mold, mosquitoes and other problems. Compost will make the soil more nutrient dense as an added bonus. Make sure to test the PH of the soil; most plants tend to prefer a more acidic environment. This can be achieved by adding sawdust or easily accessible pine needles.

Choose fruits and vegetables that grow well in your geographical zone, here in Texas these plants thrive in our environment.

Leafy greens such as Kale, spinach and lettuce that can even survive mild winters.

Squash/Zucchini-These crops will have a high yield; just a few plants can feed a large family.

Radishes-plant these in late spring or early fall, they are easy to grow and don’t require special soil.

Green Beans-plant right after the last winter freeze.

Peppers-Whether its Bell, Jalapeno, or habanera, they are sure to add spice to your life. Let ripen and watch the color change.

Tomatoes-produce large crops.

Herbs, Herbs, Herbs-even those without a green thumb can grow herbs.

Fertilize with sea minerals or fish fertilizer and ensure your plants get around 1 inch of water a week. If leaves are drooping and brown, they aren’t receiving enough, on the other hand if the stems are light green, or there is standing water by days end, you may be overwatering.

Most importantly, remember to start small, gardening should be an art, don’t overwhelm yourself and get frustrated. 100 sq. ft per person should provide an adequate yield to last through the year. As your plants grow, so will you.

Photo Some rights reserved by The Forum News