Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

snebtor | Flickr

Insect scientists say federal regulators need to take action against a growing pest problem in biotech corn.

They say corn rootworm has started to become resistant to Monsanto's Bt corn, which is genetically engineered to resist the damaging and costly pest.

The 22 scientists expressed their concerns in a letter sent to EPA earlier this week. 

University of Illinois insect behaviorist Joseph Spencer was one of them.

(Timothy Mudrovic/BJC HealthCare)

Barnes-Jewish Hospital will open its new outpatient center on Monday.

The 12-story building at the corner of Forest Park Avenue and Euclid will bring together five existing outpatient clinics under one roof. Those include a primary care clinic, along with OB/GYN, psychiatric, surgical, and specialty clinics.

Dr. Melvin Blanchard directs the internal medicine residency program at Barnes.

Speaking at a dedication ceremony for the new center, Blanchard said Barnes' existing clinics provide care to the underinsured and underserved.

(David Cappaert, Michigan State University)

Nearly half of the trees on the grounds of the Gateway Arch will be removed and replaced with a different species.

The National Park Service said Thursday that more than 900 Rosehill ash trees will be taken out over concerns about the threat posed by the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that has killed millions of ash trees in 15 states. Officials at the Arch say the ash trees on the grounds are also showing signs of decline from urban factors like air pollution and less than ideal soil.

OK, so this story is about weeds and weedkillers, neither of which is ever the hero of a story, but stay with me for a second: It's also about plants with superpowers.

Unless you grow cotton, corn or soybeans for a living, it's hard to appreciate just how amazing and wonderful it seemed, 15 years ago, when Roundup-tolerant crops hit the market. I've seen crusty farmers turn giddy just talking about it.

(Image courtesy National Institute on Aging)

A new marker for Alzheimer's disease can be used to predict how quickly a patient will develop memory loss and other symptoms of dementia.

Researchers at Washington University measured levels of a marker called visinin-like protein 1 in in the spinal fluid of 60 patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's then tracked their symptoms for three years.

Neurologist Dr. Rawan Tarawneh, now at the University of Jordan, led the study.

Football is one of the leading causes of concussions in student athletes, but they can happen in almost any sport.
(via Flickr/mel_rowling)

Coaches, athletic directors, and school nurses from across Missouri met at Saint Louis University on Thursday for a forum on sports concussions in student athletes.

The Brain Injury Association of Missouri sponsored the conference, which drew about 200 participants.

A New York federal court today dismissed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers. The farmers hoped the suit would protect them against infringing on the company's crop patents in the future.

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association and several other growers and organizations do not use Monsanto seeds. But they were betting that the judge would agree that Monsanto should not be allowed to sue them if pollen from the company's patented crops happened to drift into their fields.

Cheers! Fruit flies drink to their health, literally

Feb 21, 2012

As humans, we sometimes pay a price for drinking alcohol — in hangovers, or worse. But if you happen to be a young fruit fly, it turns out that alcohol can be just what the doctor ordered.

The pesky little fruit flies often show up when apples or bananas are left sitting around for too long on the kitchen counter. Most folks find them annoying, but Todd Schlenke can't get enough of them.

(USGS website)

The U.S. Geological Survey is reporting that, in addition to the 4.0 magnitude earthquake centered near East Prairie, Mo. early this morning, a second, smaller earthquake originated today near the same location in the New Madrid Seismic Zone

The second earthquake happened around 11:05 a.m.

(via Flickr/breahn)

A Missouri trial judge has struck down a state fund designed to offer state incentives to science or technology companies.

During a special legislative session last fall, lawmakers approved the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, also often referred to as MOSIRA. The measure contained a clause that the law would not take effect without the passage of a separate measure, which was not approved.

Those challenging the science fund included the Missouri Roundtable for Life and Missouri Right to Life.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Environmental Protection Agency will hold another community meeting on Tuesday evening, to talk about the cleanup of the former Carter Carburetor plant in north St. Louis.

This is the third community meeting the EPA has held to discuss the cleanup.

(Photo: Jason Wolff/UNC)

New research shows that differences in the brain development of autistic children are already visible in infants as young as 6 months old.

Researchers at four study sites nationwide used a type of MRI scan to look at brain development in the younger siblings of autistic children, who are known to be at higher risk for autism themselves.

Ninety-two children were scanned at 6, 12, and 24 months of age, while the children were sleeping.

(Environment Missouri)

A new report from Environment Missouri presents data on U.S. federally-declared weather disasters from 2006 to 2011, and says climate change will make extreme weather events like droughts and storms more common – and more severe.

State advocate for Environment Missouri, Ted Mathys, says 2011 was a particularly bad year for extreme weather in Missouri and across the country.

(Image courtesy of NIAID)

There is growing evidence that taking antibiotics does not help cure most sinus infections.

A new study out of Washington University compared sinus patients who were given the antibiotic amoxicillin to others who were given a placebo.

(via Flickr/orangeacid)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given St. Louis-based Mobius Therapeutics LLC the go-ahead to start production of a drug for use in eye surgery.

Mobius plans to have other St. Louis-area companies make and distribute the new drug, called Mitosol, which is FDA-approved for use in surgeries to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.

(USGS)

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is an annual event intended to raise awareness about what to do in the event of a major earthquake.

Steve Besemer of the Missouri Emergency Management Agency says in Missouri and Illinois, more than 900,000 people, most of them students, participated in today's drill.

He says if an earthquake hits, there are three simple steps people should follow.

The U.S. Forest Service has released a final environmental impact statement for its new management plan for the nation's public forests.

The new Forest Planning Rule will guide the management of America's 193-million acres of national forest lands, and provide the framework for local forest managers to develop their own forest-specific management plans.

(via flickr/benclark)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a new tool that allows the public to access information about pollutants that are released into local waterways.

The Discharge Monitoring Report Pollutant Loading Tool brings together millions of records and lets users search for and map water pollution.

(via Flickr/Alternative Heat)

The National Science Foundation has awarded a local researcher $1.3 million to study the genetics of how corn plants take up nutrients.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of fertilizer needed to grow the ubiquitous crop.

Ivan Baxter, a U.S. Department of Agriculture research scientist and assistant member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will lead the research.

Pills prescription drugs pharmaceuticals
ep_jhu | Flickr

Last year's fight between Walgreens and Express Scripts over prescription drug prices overshadowed the much bigger issue of whether health reforms have eased drug costs for many seniors, as well as whether state lawmakers should set up a health insurance exchange.

National Institutes of Health

For years doctors have prescribed acid blockers to children with no symptoms of acid reflux to try to help control their asthma.

But a new study shows the anti-reflux medicine isn't helping.

The research followed more than 300 children between the ages of 6 and 17. In addition to an inhaled steroid, about half the children were given an acid blocker for six months, and half a placebo. None of the children had symptoms of acid reflux.

(Ken Light)

Michael Pollan thinks of himself as a writer, professor…and eater.  But many people would call him a food activist. The author of controversial books like The Ominvore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Pollan is known for his vivid critiques of industrial agriculture and the modern American diet.

Pollan is in St. Louis today for the St. Louis Speakers Series presented by Maryville University. He recently spoke with St. Louis Public Radio’s Véronique LaCapra about his views on food and agriculture – starting with what he sees as a healthy diet.

(via Flickr/lobo235)

Updated 5:42 p.m. with comment from Ameren.

Ameren Missouri is pledging to increase its energy efficiency programs starting in 2013.

The company's filing today with the Public Service Commission would represent a complete change of course for Ameren, which had cut its energy efficiency programs from $33 million in 2011 down to as low as $5 million this year.

(Via Flickr/meddygarnet)

A new report by the American Lung Association puts Missouri near the bottom of the list when it comes to state tobacco control policies.

The report grades states according to their spending on tobacco prevention and control programs, smoke-free air laws, cigarette taxes, and coverage of programs to help smokers quit.

Missouri was one of six states to receive an “F” grade in all four categories.

(EPA.gov)

Power plants are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the U.S., followed by petroleum refineries.

That's according to data released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The data set shows 2010 emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases from more than 6,700 of the largest sources in the U.S., including large industrial facilities and suppliers of certain fossil fuels and industrial gases.

(Joe Angeles/WUSTL)

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was in St. Louis Monday as part of her state-wide energy tour.

The Democratic senator participated in a roundtable discussion at Washington University about the nation's energy future. At the table were some of Missouri's energy industry leaders, along with university administrators and researchers.

McCaskill says their feedback reinforced for her the need to keep all energy options on the table.

(National Cancer Institute)

There's more evidence that most men don’t need an annual prostate cancer screening.

Washington University chief urologist Dr. Gerald Andriole has been leading a clinical trial involving more than 75,000 men over the age of 55.

The study has tracked the men for over a decade, to see whether getting an annual prostate-specific antigen, or PSA test, makes someone less likely to die from prostate cancer.

(via Flickr/mskogly)

Out today is the Environmental Protection Agency's latest Toxics Release Inventory, which allows the public to know what toxic chemicals are released into their communities. Information is released two years in arrears.

You can drill down in the data to your specific area here, but, in general, here are some of the findings for the states in our region, Illinois and Missouri:

Illinois:

(Jon Wingo/DJM Ecological Services)

Researchers are conducting controlled burns this week at Washington University’s Tyson Research Center southwest of St. Louis.

The burns are part of a project to study how to restore Ozark glades – rocky forest clearings with native species that resemble those of the desert southwest.

Washington University ecologist and project lead Tiffany Knight says fire is a natural part of glade ecosystems.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Psychiatric Center
Missouri Department of Mental Health

After overcoming some delays, operators hope to open a short-term facility next year to accommodate people needing help for a mental-health crisis.

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