Connect with us


The use of antibiotics in agriculture to “strengthen the human immune system” | antibiotics



The widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture has led to the emergence of bacteria that are more resistant to the human immune system, scientists warn.

The study suggests that the antimicrobial colistin, which has been used for decades as a growth promoter in pig and poultry farms in China, has led to E coli strains that are more likely to evade our immune system’s first line of defense.

Although colistin is currently banned as a livestock feed supplement in China and many other countries, the findings are alarming about a major new threat posed by overuse of antibiotics.

“This is potentially much more dangerous than antibiotic resistance,” said Professor Craig MacLean, who led the research at the University of Oxford. “This highlights the dangers of indiscriminate use of antimicrobials in agriculture. We accidentally compromised our own immune system in order to get fatter chickens.”

The findings may also be important for the development of new antibiotics in the same class as colistin, known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which scientists believe may pose a particular risk of compromising innate immunity.

AMPs are compounds produced by most living organisms during their innate immune response, which is the first line of defense against infection. Colistin is based on bacterial AMP—microbes use compounds to protect themselves from competitors—but is chemically similar to some of the AMPs produced by the human immune system.

skip previous promotional email

The widespread use of colistin in animal husbandry since the 1980s has led to the emergence and spread of E coli bacteria carrying colistin resistance genes, which eventually led to widespread restrictions on the use of the drug in agriculture. But the latest research suggests that those same genes also make it easier for pathogens to evade AMPs, which form the cornerstone of our own immune response.

In the study E coli carriers of a resistance gene called MCR-1 were exposed to AMPs known to play an important role in innate immunity in chickens, pigs and humans. The bacteria were also tested for their susceptibility to human serum.

Scientists have found that E coli MCR-1 gene carriers were at least twice as resistant to killing by human sera. On average, the gene increased resistance to AMP in humans and animals by 62% compared to bacteria that lacked the gene. Study published in the journal eLife magazinealso showed that stable E coli twice as likely to kill infected moth larvae compared to control E coli voltage.

McLean said it was impossible to assess how this could lead to real consequences, such as risk E coli Infection leading to sepsis and death. And the prevalence of these strains E coli fell sharply after China banned the use of colistin as a growth promoter, suggesting that these genes carry other “fitness deficiencies” for pathogens. However, the results highlight a fundamental risk that has not yet been widely considered.

“The danger is that if bacteria develop resistance to [AMP-based drugs]it could also make the bacteria resistant to one of the pillars of our immune system,” McLean said.

Antimicrobial resistance is a dire global threat — the UN has warned that superbugs could kill up to 10 million people a year by 2050 — and so the need for new antibiotics is urgent. There is growing interest in the potential of AMPs as drugs, and several are under development, including drugs based on human AMPs.

McLean and his colleagues are not calling for a pause in the development of such drugs, but say that a very careful assessment of the risks, the likelihood of resistance and the possible consequences is required. “There are potentially very serious negative consequences for AMP,” he said.

Dr Jessica Blair of the University of Birmingham, who was not involved in the study, said: “Antimicrobial peptides, including colistin, have been heralded as a potential part of the solution to the spread of multidrug-resistant infections. This study, however, suggests that resistance to these antimicrobials may have unintended consequences for the ability of pathogens to cause infection and survive in the host.”

Dr. George Tegos of the Mohawk Valley Health System in New York City said general conclusions about the potential risks of AMP cannot be drawn from a single study, but added that the results “raise valid and logical concerns.”

Coilin Noonan, an advisor to the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, who was not involved in the study, said: “This new study shows that colistin resistance is probably even more dangerous than previously thought… It is also noteworthy that the British government is still opposed to a ban on prophylactic mass treatment of animals raised on intensive farms with antibiotics, despite the fact that the EU banned such use more than a year ago.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


What we know about why SpaceX’s Starship rocket failed



A the beautiful machine came to a gruesome end on April 20 when SpaceX’s sleek, 40-story silver Starship rocket engulfed itself in an orange-and-white fireball just four minutes after launch and 39 km (24 miles) over the Gulf of Mexico. coast of Texas. Judging by the first voyages, it was ugly.

Much virtual ink was shed in the days that followed, both applauding the launch and condemning its failure. “Congratulations @SpaceX on the first comprehensive flight test of Starship!” tweeted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Every great achievement in history has required a certain level of calculated risk, because with great risk comes great reward. Looking forward to everything SpaceX learns through to the next flight test and beyond.”

I also chimed in, calling the explosion “no big deal” in my analysis for TIME, pointing to serial accidents and explosions as an inevitable part of the rocket design business. I argued that this flight-and-fail approach helps identify problems long before a new missile delivers a payload or crew, making the missile more reliable and, more importantly, safer.

The rest of the twitterverse wasn’t as optimistic. “It was not a calculated risk. It was hasty. It was careless.” countered Twitter user @iwriteforme.

“Ridiculously inappropriate ignorant glee”, tweeted @clarecastle in response to media reports in the UK echoing Nelson’s positive opinion.

But was the starship explosion a “lucky mishap” like some dubbed it or a failure, period, the causes of the incident have yet to be ascertained. That question will need to be answered soon if SpaceX hopes to launch another starship anywhere near “a few months” from SpaceX founder and boss Elon Musk. promised on twitter immediately after the aborted flight.

read more: Inside the SpaceX spacecraft, the most massive rocket ever built

Musk’s tweet barely made it to the public before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced he temporarily stopped the entire fleet of starships. “The anomaly occurred during the ascent and prior to the separation of the steps, resulting in the loss of the vehicle,” the statement said. “The return to flight of the Starship/Super Heavy craft is based on the fact that the FAA has determined that any system, process, or procedure involved in the accident does not affect public safety.”

Removing this FAA hurdle would require SpaceX to take a deep dive into the telemetry that came in from the starship during its brief flight. This is clear: out of 33 rocket first-stage engines, flight video shows that at least eight did not fire. IN Test “static fire” February 9.during which the engines were fired with the rocket fixed on the ground, 31 out of 33 worked as planned.

“The team turned off 1 engine just before the start and 1 stopped itself, so a total of 31 engines started working. But there are enough engines to go into orbit!” Musk said via twitter about the static fire test at that time.

This may be true when 31 engines are running, not just 25. If the starship’s engines had been working as planned last week, the first stage would have separated and crashed to the ground at the three-minute moment of flight, leaving nine engines. at the second stage, launch the rest of the spacecraft into space. Instead, it was at that moment that the rocket began an uncontrollable somersault that lasted a full—and excruciating—minute. At the end of that minute, the rocket exploded.

The explosion itself was not an accident. In a message shortly after the end of the flight SpaceX announced that his “flight termination system” (FTS) – essentially a self-destruct mechanism to prevent danger to people or structures on the ground – destroyed both stages of the rocket. The company did not say if the FTS was activated automatically due to an uncontrolled fall or manually from the ground. Starship is far from the only one equipped with FTS. Indeed, the FAA requires all missiles to have such a system before allowing them to fly.

The loss of the rocket itself was not the only evil done that day. The launch pad was badly damaged. pieces of concrete the size of a bowling ball broke off and shattered from the power of the burning engines. ace NY once, Texas Public RadioAnd other In Port Isabel, Texas, a city six miles from SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch site, buildings were reported to shake, at least one window was broken, and a cloud of sandy debris hit residents and their homes.

“It was really awful,” said Port Isabel resident Sharon Almaguer. once. Other SpaceX launches from Boca Chica caused some uproar in the city, but “it was on a whole different level,” Almaguer added.

read more: Is space flight good for the environment? No

SpaceX isn’t pretending that solutions to all of the April 20 issues are coming anytime soon, and action reports and repairs like the one the company faced are usually slow and painstaking chores. “I’m looking forward to the results of the investigation into the SpaceX incident, or at least what changes they will make to the next attempt,” says Scott Pace, a professor at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. “Why is Starship not [second stage] separately, as planned? Why did several engines fail during the acceleration phase? What will be done to reduce damage to the launch pad on future missions?”

All good questions, and there are others. After all, the rocket’s second stage hasn’t even had a chance to fly, so it’s not yet possible to know if it has hidden design flaws that will only be discovered in subsequent tests after the first stage’s problems. stage completed. And if 25 engines can do as much damage as they did Port Isabel, what happens when a full set of 33 successfully ignite in tandem, especially since even with some of the engines burned out, Starship still flew on April 20? the most powerful rocket ever launched?

For now, SpaceX is keeping its head down, trying to fix its problems, make repairs, and meet the demands of the Federal Aviation Administration, which has full control over future Starship flights. Many continue to believe that the company has what it takes and that Starship has a great future.

“It was a test flight,” says astrophysicist Pascal Ehrenfreund, a professor at the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. “During the development of a disruptive launcher, failures are expected. Investigations will show when the next test flight will be possible. There will definitely be another test flight and hopefully Starship becomes a commercial reality.”

More must-read content from TIME

Write Jeffrey Kluger at

Continue Reading


Recent rapid ocean warming worries scientists



sun over the ocean

The recent rapid warming of the oceans has alarmed scientists, fearing it will exacerbate global warming.

The global sea surface reached a new record high temperature this month. He had never heated up so much, so quickly.

Scientists do not fully understand why this happened.

But they are concerned that, combined with other weather events, global temperatures could reach new levels by the end of next year.

Experts believe that the strong El Niño weather event — a weather system that warms the ocean — will also come within the next few months.

Warmer oceans could kill marine life, lead to more extreme weather and raise sea levels. They are also less efficient at absorbing greenhouse gases that warm the planet.

Map of average sea surface temperatures in the period 2011-2020. compared to 1951-1980. Almost the entire surface of the sea in the world has warmed up, especially strong warming in the Arctic in places exceeds two degrees Celsius. There is a local area of ​​cooling southeast of Greenland.

IN important new researchpublished last week with little fanfare highlights a disturbing development.

Over the past 15 years, the heat accumulated by the Earth has increased by 50%, with most of the excess going into the oceans.

This has real-world implications – not only did overall ocean temperatures hit a new record this April, in some regions the difference was huge over the long term.

sea ​​views

Marine species are under threat due to warming waters

In March, sea surface temperatures off the east coast of North America were 13.8°C warmer than the 1981-2011 average.

“It’s not yet fully understood why such rapid changes and such huge changes are taking place,” said Karina von Schuckmann, lead author of the new study and oceanographer at Mercator Ocean International’s research group.

“We’ve doubled the heat in the climate system in the last 15 years, I don’t want to say it’s climate change or natural variability or a combination of both, we don’t know yet. But we see this change. “

Interestingly, one of the factors that can affect the level of heat entering the oceans is the reduction in pollution from shipping.

In 2020, the International Maritime Organization introduced a regulation to reduce the sulfur content of fuels burned by ships.

This had a quick impact, reducing the amount of aerosol particles emitted into the atmosphere.

But aerosols that pollute the air also help reflect heat back into space — removing them could cause more heat to enter the water.

What are the consequences of ocean warming?

The average surface temperature of the world’s seas has increased by about 0.9C compared to pre-industrial levels: only in the last 40 years 0.6°C.

That’s less than the rise in air temperature over land, which has risen more than 1.5 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. This is because it takes much more energy to heat water than it does to heat land, and because the oceans absorb heat much deeper than their surface.

Even this seemingly small average increase has serious implications in the real world.

  • Loss of species: more frequent and intense marine heat waves lead to mass mortality of marine life. This is especially harmful for Coral reefs.

  • More extreme weather: Warmer temperatures on the ocean’s upper surface means hurricanes and cyclones can absorb more energy. This means that they become more intense and longer.

  • Sea level rise: Warmer waters take up more space – known as thermal expansion – and can greatly accelerate the melting of glaciers with Greenland another Antarctica that flows into the oceans. It raises global sea levels, increasing risks coastal flooding.

  • Less capacity to absorb CO2: the oceans currently absorb about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. Warmer waters have less ability to absorb CO2. If the oceans absorb less CO2 in the future, more carbon dioxide will accumulate in the atmosphere, causing the air and oceans to warm even more.

Another major factor that scientists are worried about is the weather phenomenon known as El Niño and the Southern Oscillation.

For the past three years, this natural phenomenon has been in a cooler phase, called La Niña, and has helped control global temperatures.

But now researchers believe that a strong El Niño is forming, which will have serious consequences for the whole world.

Sea surface temperature in March 2023 compared to the 1951–1980 average  Temperatures are higher in the Pacific, especially in the east.

Unusually high sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific are a classic sign of the El Niño phase.

“The Australian bureau model is highly dependent on a strong El Niño. And it has such a trend, and all climate models tend to have a stronger event,” said Hugh McDowell of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Mr. McDowell warned that forecasts for this point in the year are less reliable. Other researchers are more optimistic.

Coastal El Niño has already developed off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador, and experts believe a fully formed event will follow that will affect global temperatures.

“If a new new El Niño event is added to this, we will probably have an additional global warming of 0.2 to 0.25 degrees Celsius,” said Dr. Josef Lüdescher of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research.

“The impact on temperature wanes a few months after the peak of any El Niño, so 2024 is likely to be the warmest year on record.”

“And we can, we will be close to 1.5C days, and we may temporarily exceed.”

El Niño is likely to disrupt weather patterns around the world, weaken the rainy season and threaten bushfires in Australia.

But there are more fundamental concerns: as more heat escapes into the ocean, the waters may be less able to store excess energy.

And there are fears that the heat contained in the oceans will not stay there.

Several scientists contacted for this story were unwilling to record the aftermath.

One spoke of being “extremely anxious and completely tense.”

Some studies have shown that the world heats up in leaps and bounds, when little change occurs for several years, and then there are sudden upward leaps, like rungs on a ladder, closely related to the development of El Niño.

According to Karina von Schuckmann, there is some hope in this scenario. Temperatures may drop again after El Niño subsides.

“We still have time to act and we must use it to reduce the impact,” she told BBC News.

Graphics by Erwan Rivaud.

Continue Reading


The transition to clean energy was supposed to be fair. Instead, it harms indigenous communities.



This story was published as part of the Global Division of Indigenous Affairs, Indigenous Cooperation backfill, high country news, ICT, MongabayAnd Native news online.

When Francisco Cali Tsai, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, speaking at the 22nd United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or UNPFII, last week, he named clean energy projects as one of the biggest threats to their rights.

“I keep receiving information that indigenous peoples are afraid of a new wave of green investment without recognition of their land ownership, governance and knowledge,” said Kali Tsai.

His statements – and those of other delegates – at the world’s largest gathering of indigenous peoples made clear that without the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, these “green” projects can seriously interfere with the rights of indigenous peoples.

Free, Prior and Informed Consent, known as FPIC, has always been a big topic at UNPFII, but this year it has taken on new urgency.

“The strong push is that more and more climate action and sustainability goals are affecting us,” said Joan Carling, chief executive Indigenous Rights Internationalnon-profit organization of indigenous peoples working to protect the rights of indigenous peoples around the world.

Thacker Pass lithium mine protester. Image courtesy of Max Wilbert.

Indigenous peoples around the world are under increasing clean energy pressure mining projects, carbon offsetsnew protected areas and major infrastructure projects on their lands as part of efforts to rebuild the economy after Covid-19, according to the International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs. report for 2023.

As governments around the world seek clean energy transitions to meet their national and international climate goals, demand for minerals like lithium, copper and nickel needed for batteries to power the energy revolution is predicted to skyrocket. Demand could quadruple by 2040 and, by conservative estimates, could shrink. $1.7 trillion in investments in the mining industry.

While Indigenous delegates say they support clean energy projects, one issue is their rights to land: more than half of these mineral projects now take place on or near lands inhabited by Indigenous peoples or farmers live according to analysis published in Nature.

This can lead to their displacement from territories, loss of livelihood or deforestation and degradation of surrounding ecosystems.

“And still […] we are not participating in the discussion,” Carling said. “That’s why I call it green colonialism – [energy] transition without respect for the rights of indigenous peoples is another form of colonialism.”

However, FPIC stands on the cusp of a just transition to clean energy, say indigenous delegates. FPIC is the cornerstone of international human rights standards such as United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, known as UNDRIP. Although adopted by more than 100 countries, UNDPP is not a legally binding standard.

In this regard, delegates call on countries and companies to develop binding policies and guidelines requiring FPIC for all projects affecting indigenous peoples and their lands, as well as financial, territorial and material remedies in case companies and countries fail to do so.

However, there is some pushback. The Free Prior Informed Consent process can lead to a wide range of outcomes, including the right of communities to opt out of a highly profitable project, which is often difficult for countries, companies and investors to comply with, explains Mary Beth Gallagher, Director of Investment Participation at Domini Impact Investments, who spoke at a side event on protecting the interests of shareholders.

Indigenous Sami delegates from Norway highlighted their need for legally enforceable FPIC protection as they continue to protest the Fosen Vind project, an onshore wind farm in Sami territory that Supreme Court ruled that their rights were violated.

“We have learned the hard way that sustainability will not end colonialism,” the Sami delegate said during the main panel on Tuesday.

In the United States, the Reno Sparks Indian Colony, the Red Mountains, and the Fort McDermitt Tribe. filed lawsuits v. the Federal Bureau of Land Management for issuing permits to open pit lithium mines without proper consultation with the tribes. In the Colombian Amazon, the Inga indigenous community filed a successful appeal due to lack of prior consultation with Canadian company that plans to mine copper, molybdenum and other metals in their biodiverse territory.

Concern that governments and multinational companies are moving away from FPIC has long extended to other sectors such as conservation and monoculture plantations for major cash crops. In Peru, the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous peoples resist several large protected areas that overlap with their territory and were established without prior consultation. In Tanzania and Kenya, the Maasai are actively evicted from their lands for trophy hunting and safari reserves. Indigenous delegates of the Ryukyuan condemn the ongoing use of their traditional lands and territories by the governments of Japan and the United States regarding military bases without their free, prior and informed consent.

While delegates focused on the lack of FPIC, they equally focused on FPIC as a key part of the long-term sustainability of energy projects.

“FPIC is more than just a checklist for companies looking to develop projects on indigenous lands,” Carling said. “This is the basis for partnerships, including options for equitable benefit-sharing agreements or memorandums of understanding, cooperation or conservation.”

The focus of this year’s conference was the growing role of FPIC in the private sector. Investors and developers are increasingly considering including FPIC in their human rights due diligence standards. Individual countries such as Canada have fully implemented UNDRIP, although indigenous groups have pointed to irregularities in how it is being implemented. The European Union proposes to include specific mandatory FPIC rights in its due diligence of corporate sustainability regulation. Side events at UNPFII focused on topics such as shifting FPIC priorities to the private sector and using shareholder advocacy to raise awareness of FPIC.

Gallagher of Domini Impact Investments said that companies have a responsibility to uphold human rights, including FPIC: “If they have a human rights obligation, or if they have an obligation in their policy not to take land, we need to hold them accountable for it. “.

In 2021, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock published expectation that companies “obtain (and maintain) the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples for business decisions that affect their rights.” big banks like Credit Agricole incorporated FPIC into their corporate social responsibility policy. But in most cases, even if companies have an FPIC policy, it does not meet the standard set out in UNDRIP and is not legally binding.

“He is not doing the job he should be doing to protect the right to self-determination,” said Kate Finn, director The first people of the world. “It’s becoming a review process that is purely stakeholder consultation and consultation rather than advocacy and self-determination.”

If the communities don’t give their consent, the company needs to respect that, Gallagher said, adding: “Obviously there are points of tension where investors have different plans and priorities, but ultimately it’s about focusing indigenous leadership and working on it.”

Failure to properly comply with FPIC can be costly for companies in countries where it is a legal instrument. This comes with the risk of losing their social activities due to license and financial damage. In accordance with studying First Peoples Worldwide, Energy Transfer and the banks that funded the already completed Dakota Access pipeline lost billions in construction delays, account closures and contract losses after they failed to get approval from the Standing Rock Sioux in the United States.

Ultimately, indigenous peoples must be involved in decision-making from the very beginning of any project, especially clean energy projects on their territory, Carling said. “For us, land is life, and we have the right to decide what happens on our land.”

Continue Reading