Scientists Found an Edible Mushroom That Eats Plastic, and It Could Clean Our Landfills

By Elias Marat

Whether we like it or not, our society has become completely reliant on plastic. From food preservation to water transportation, computer technology to healthcare and medicine, plastic can be found in nearly every facet of the human experience.

But as we well know, plastic is a double-edged sword, with massive amounts of plastic waste not only piling up in landfills, but floating in the most remote depths of our oceans and water supplies. And despite our knowledge of plastic’s harmful effects on the environment, we’ve become so reliant on plastic that there seems to be no end in sight. In fact, plastic production is growing on a yearly basis–and posing a potentially mortal threat to us all.

However, a newly-discovered type of mushroom could not only play a crucial role in slashing plastic pollution, but could have myriad other uses in addressing the environmental crises the planet faces.

Discovered in 2012 by Yale University students, Pestalotiopsis microspora is a rare species of mushroom from the Amazon rainforest that’s capable of subsisting on a diet of pure plastic, or more accurately, the main ingredient in plastic–polyurethane–before converting the human-made ingredient into purely organic matter.

And not only can Pestalotiopsis microspora live off of our plastic waste, it can also live without oxygen–meaning that the rare breed of mushroom would make an ideal agent for landfill clean-up, literally from the bottom-up.

While the idea sounds fantastic, some scientists have expressed hope that the plastic-consuming fungi can form the basis of the community waste treatment centers of the future–replacing our current practice of dumping our trash into centralized, massive landfills with small, mushroom-centered community composting centers or even home recycling kits, according to Epoch Times.

And as it turns out, Pestalotiopsis microspora isn’t alone in the world of plastic-eating mushrooms–and some of its plastic-consuming kin are event perfectly safe for us humans to consume.

In a study led by Katharina Unger for Utrecht University in the Netherlands, oyster mushrooms and other types of mushrooms were placed in agar cups with plastic waste and held in a climate-controlled dome-shaped environment. After about a month, the roots of the mushroom consumed and transformed the plastic into an edible biomass–or food–that was completely free of any toxicity from the polyurethane.



Not only was the finished product completely free of plastic, but they also had an appealing taste, according to Unger, who described them as “sweet with the smell of anise or licorice.”

Yes, that’s right: for the very first time in history, plastic trash could be a part of our food chain–in a deliberate and surprisingly healthy way. Indeed, such a discovery–if refined–could be a part of a novel solution to food scarcity in a world brimming-over with plastic waste yet scarce on food for hundreds of millions of people.

“Our research partner [Utrecht University] expects that the digestion will go much quicker once processes are fully researched and optimized,” Unger told Dezeen magazine, adding that her team “imagined it as being used with a community or small farm setting.”

The benefits of plastic-eating mushrooms seem limitless. At the State of the World’s Fungi 2018 event in Kew Gardens, London, fungi that process polyurethane were also found to be suitable as “mushroom bricks,” or a durable and sustainable building material that could be suitable for building homes.

The management and elimination of plastic waste is among the greatest challenges we face in saving our environment. But if the natural rate of decomposition can be reduced from 400 years to a mere few months, then these fungi could soon be taking over the world.

This article was sourced from The Mind Unleashed.

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70% of Produce Sold in US is Contaminated With Pesticides, Even After You Wash It

By Elias Marat

If you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States, 70 percent of it will carry pesticide residues on it even after you’ve washed it, according to a new study from a widely-respected health advocacy group.

The Environmental Working Group’s annual analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data offers grim evidence of the over-saturation of pesticides and toxic chemicals in conventional agriculture in the United States, with top crops such as spinach and strawberries counting among the most contaminated produce.

The group hopes the report will inform shoppers of the risks inherent in buying and consuming conventionally-grown produce versus organic fruits and vegetables.

Most surprisingly, kale–that trendy dark green superfood that’s risen to the top of health-conscious grocers’ lists in the past decade–is among the top three contaminated fruits and vegetables, with 92 percent of non-organic kale containing residues from at least two or more pesticides. Some kale sampled carried the residue of no less than 18 different types of pesticides.

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In a statement, EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin said:

“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal … Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items, such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option.”

Both spinach and kale carried between 10 to 80 percent more pesticide residue by sheer weight than any other crop, respectively ranking second and third on the “dirty dozen” list of popular vegetables carrying the most pesticides.

Strawberries lead the pack, containing an average of nearly 8 different pesticides per sample–a shocking figure when considering that the average U.S. resident consumes around eight pounds of fresh strawberries per year.

Strawberry growers in regions across the west coast dump vast amounts of pesticides and poisonous gases on fields to make them safe for strawberry cultivation before further exposing crops to fumigation. The use of toxic pesticides in agricultural communities has seen California cities such as Oxnard, Santa Maria and Watsonville face mounting numbers of respiratory disorders, birth defects and illnesses, particularly by farm workers and neighborhoods near the fields.



And while the European Union has banned many of the pesticides used by U.S. strawberry growers, lobbyists from corporations like Dow Chemical Company have ensured that government turns a blind eye to the overuse of carcinogenic pesticides.

The EWG also noted that over “90 percent of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and kale tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.”

All nutritional experts and scientists agree that people benefit from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as fresh produce–be it organic or conventional, depending on people’s budgetary constraints.

Yet the continued excessive usage of pesticides–largely by big food manufacturers and growers seeking to minimize costs–has made it difficult for health experts and regulatory bodies to accurately gauge the extent of pesticide exposure in our day-to-day lives, let alone to understand how the combinations of chemicals we’re exposed to can affect our bodies.

EWG research analyst Carla Burns noted:

The main route of pesticide exposure for most Americans who do not live or work on or near farms is through their diet … Studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables free of pesticides benefits health, and this is especially important for pregnant women and children

Yet the researcher noted that regardless of the grim findings from the EWG study, “the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”

EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” for 2019 is:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes



This article was sourced from The Mind Unleashed

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Coca-Cola Admits It Produces 3.3 Million Tons of New Plastic Packaging Per Year

By Elias Marat

The world is literally swimming in the filth produced by private industry, with our oceans becoming a vast dumping-ground for waste as plastic manufacturers and petrochemical companies continue to rake in profits with little regard for the long-term cost of a growing plastic garbage crisis.

Thus it comes as a surprise that one of the biggest producers of plastic packaging, the Coca-Cola Company, has admitted that it produces a staggering 3.3 million tons of plastic packaging per year, the rough equivalent of 200,000 bottles every minute.

The company had previously refused to release the mind-boggling figure, but finally disclosed the information to The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a charity that has been campaigning alongside UN Environment to convince governments and the world’s largest plastic producing corporations to commit to reduce and ultimately eliminate unnecessary plastic packaging by 2025.

The charity released a report that also includes data from over 30 other companies – including Mars, The Kellogg Company and conglomerates Unilever and Nestlé – who agreed to disclose their annual plastic packaging volumes, a move hailed by the foundation as “an important step toward greater transparency.”  According to the report, the companies collectively produce eight million tons of plastic packaging on an annual basis.

The exact figures of the plastic usage isn’t broken down in the report, but according to The Guardian, Coca-Cola’s reported volume is equal to 108 polyethylene terephthalate or PET plastic bottles per year – over a fifth of the global PET bottle output, which stands at about 500 billion per year.

About 150 companies have agreed to commit to the foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, but many of the top-tier corporations – including, L’Oreal, Pepsico, H&M, Walmart, and others – continue to refuse to own up to how much plastic packaging they produce.

The foundation’s commitment also calls to innovate to ensure that 100 percent of all plastic packaging can be easily recycled, reused or composted by 2025, and for a circular economy to be created that boosts the volume of plastic that is reused or recycled into new packaging.

Airlines, food chains and hotels have abstained from the commitment, as have most raw material plastic producers – with the exception of two companies: Indorama and Borealis.

The leader of the initiative, Sander Defruyt, has chided industry leaders for not moving with the urgency required to tackle a growing plastic waste crisis, telling The Guardian:

They are still far from truly matching the scale of the problem, particularly when it comes to elimination of unnecessary items and innovation towards reuse models.

Ambition levels must continue to rise to make real strides in addressing global plastic pollution by 2025, and moving from commitment to action is crucial.

The use of plastic is key to the workings of the global economy, and while it causes huge harm to the environment, its usage has also paved the way to spectacular advances in modern society in the fields of medicine, food preservation, water transportation, hygiene, high technology and a range of other applications.

However, in an economy that places the greatest incentive on short-term profit and a culture that revolves around mass consumerism and convenience, plastics have also become a curse – with a “throwaway” mentality displacing durable, reusable, and washable products in favor of single-use disposables.

Plastics and microplastics have inundated the world’s oceans and water supplies, leaching carcinogenic toxins and chemicals into the marine environment, with plastic drink containers trapping and confining – and ultimately killing – small marine organisms and small fish.

According to a report prepared for the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by 2050 it is estimated that the plastic waste in the ocean will outweigh all fish.

And as fracked natural gas supplies increase in the United States and across the world, the cost of producing and exporting plastics has become cheaper, making the plastic market hugely profitable once again for the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries.

This article was sourced from The Mind Unleashed.

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Johnson & Johnson Exposed as “Kingpin” Supplier, Seller, Lobbyist of Opioid Epidemic

By Elias Marat

Transnational corporation Johnson & Johnson has been accused of playing the role of “kingpin” in the nationwide opioid epidemic that continues to claim thousands of lives every year, according to an Axios report.

The pharmaceutical, medical, and consumer goods giant–which holds a range of properties including some of the most recognizable U.S. brands such as Band-Aids, No More Tears baby shampoo, and Neosporin, among others–has been accused by officials in the state of Oklahoma of playing the role of supplier, seller and lobbyist in the global opioid market.

J&J’s work in the painkiller market was done through two subsidiaries, Noramco and Tasmanian Alkaloids, which it sold to a private equity firm in 2016 for $650 million, according to Axios.

The company has long depicted itself as a “family company” operating under the credo:

We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well.

But the new revelations cast, in sharp relief, how the company pulverized entire communities and destroyed families while raking in massive profits from a crisis that has fed waves of crime and a crisis of addiction and deadly overdoses that claim over 100 lives per day.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has requested that the state release a vast tranche of confidential documents numbering in the millions of pages that Johnson & Johnson was forced to submit during the discovery phase of Oklahoma’s legal fight against the key companies who sparked the opioid crisis.

In his request, Hunter noted:

Oklahomans deserve answers … [we] need to know about how one particular company, J&J, inserted itself into our State and sought to influence every opioid-related decision the State made or considered – from scheduling to swallowing … J&J continues to fight to keep those answers concealed. In the dark. Away from the public.

He added:

The public … deserves to know the full extent of J&J’s efforts to influence policymakers at all levels of government in order to increase sales of their (and their co-conspirators’) drugs.

The litigation hints at how the culpability for the opioid epidemic can hardly be restricted to companies such as Purdue Pharma, the producer of OxyContin. Purdue is currently being sued by Massachusetts for its role in deliberately misleading the public over the lethal dangers of its opioid painkillers.

Yet the new report shows how J&J played a key role in producing the plant materials–such as the raw narcotics from Tasmanian poppy fields–which were turned into the active ingredients of popular opioids, including those produced by Purdue Pharma.

In investor slides, the company also openly boasted of the addictive qualities of its products, noting that its opium poppies “enabled the growth of oxycodone,” while the morphine content of its other poppy was among “the highest in the world.”

In the meantime, the company also reportedly provided funding for pro-opioid advocacy groups such as the Pain Care Forum. Brochures for seniors produced by a company subsidiary also made the ludicrous false claim that “opioids are rarely addictive.” Such propaganda and promotional efforts, referred to as a “pro-opioid echo chamber” in the motion, were a part of the company’s concerted effort to target vulnerable demographic groups, including children.

J&J has lambasted the attorney general’s motion as containing “baseless and unsubstantiated” allegations meant to generate “sensationalistic headlines and to poison potential jurors.” The company has also argued that its subsidiaries, which were sold to private equity firms years ago, “met all laws and regulations.”

Yet it remains obvious, based on the once-confidential material that Oklahoma now possesses, that the company had been making billions of dollars hand over fist while trafficking and hustling addictive substances through what it called its “pain management franchise.”

And as increased calls to tackle the opioid crisis grow louder, from the White House to state legislatures and the streets, it remains clear that the big players who caused the crisis should be exposed from top to bottom, along with their nefarious practices and concerted attempts to mislead and deceive the U.S. public.

This article was sourced from The Mind Unleashed.

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