Report: Research Facility “Loses” Thousands of Tubes Containing Deadly Virus

Mac Slavo
SHTFplan.com
April 17, 2014

A French research institute working on various deadly viruses, including SARS, has apparently misplaced thousands of tubes and no one is quite sure where they went.

Image: Laboratory (Wiki Commons).

A routine inventory check at Paris’ Pasteur Institute revealed that 2,349 tubes containing fragments of the virus responsible for the deaths of 774 people in 2002 were missing, the centre named after French chemist Louis Pasteur said.

It is not clear how the tubes disappeared from one of the institute’s safest laboratories. Management were made aware of the loss in January, Le Monde newspaper reported.

For weeks, staff at the institute tried to find the missing vials, general director Christian Bréchot said.

“We’ve looked for those boxes [containing the tubes] everywhere,” Bréchot explained.

“We went thought the lists of all the people who have worked here in the past year and a half, including trainees. We have scrutinised their profile to check if there was any conflict.”

Bréchot said that foul play was “highly improbable” but had not been ruled out.

Though it’s not clear how, investigators have pretty much ruled out foul play. But keep in mind that we’re talking about a deadly virus that has been removed from what should be a highly secured area.  Moreover, no one seems to know when the virus was actually taken.

According to the Pasteur Institute, however, there is no immediate danger because the virus in the vials won’t spread the disease:

The institute was quick to reassure the public and said that the contents of the missing vials had no infectious potential. They contained only part of the virus and had no ability to spread.

“Independent experts referred by health authorities have qualified such potential as ‘non-existing’ according to the available evidence and literature on the survival of the Sars virus,” the institute said.

When dealing with deadly viruses, it is always a good idea to secure your facility, which makes this particular disappearance alarming.

Although the fragments are not dangerous, they do raise concerns by revealing the lab’s vulnerability, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s actually not in itself so scary but you wonder about the procedures in that laboratory,” said Schaffner, who is also a former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “Could that lab and perhaps others actually misplace vials that have the complete virus so that it might escape?”

For all we know, the vials disappeared months ago, which brings up the possibility that other infectious disease tubes may have also disappeared.

Apparently, security at these high level research facilities is not up to par. Last year a vial of Guanarito bio-terror agent capable of being used in a “contagion attack” disappeared from a Galveston, TX facility. The incident was voluntarily disclosed to the public but the lost tube has yet to be located.

What’s scary is that, even though such events must be reported to the CDC by law, the public really has no way of knowing whether a deadly agent has been compromised, giving ample time for such a virus to spread should it be released as a weapon.

Moreover, we now have government facilities being built in and around population centers such as the Bio Safety Level 4 facility centrally located in Kansas.

In the wrong hands, one of these agents could easily be used to attack an entire population – and given the “security” of these facilities it may not be so hard to acquire one. And once they have it, it’s as simple as releasing it in a major airport, sitting back, and watching the infection spread and kill off thousands, or perhaps millions of people.

Related: Pandemic Preparedness

Fruit and Vegetable Prices Are Rising

Grocery shoppers may soon need more green in their wallets to afford their next salad.

The cost of fresh produce is poised to jump in the coming months as a three-year drought in California shows few signs of abating, according to an Arizona State University study set to be released Wednesday.BN-CJ559_calipr_G_20140415104036

The study found a head of lettuce could increase in price as much as 62 cents to $2.44; avocado prices could rise 35 cents to $1.60 each; and tomatoes could cost 45 cents more at $2.84 per pound. (The run-up in produce prices is in line with other projections showing that overall food cost gains are expected to accelerate this year.)

The latest projections were compiled by Timothy Richards, an agribusiness professor at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. He studied the drought’s effect on farmland and consumer purchasing trends to determine the eight fresh fruits and vegetables likely to see the largest price increases this spring and summer.

And the price increases may already be happening. Grocery prices rose by 0.5% for the second-straight month in March, according to the Labor Department’s consumer-price index, released Tuesday. It was the largest two-month gain in the food-at-home category since 2011. Fruit and vegetable prices rose 0.9% last month, after a 1.1% gain in February. Meat and dairy prices are also increasing. Meanwhile, overall consumer prices rose just 0.2% last month, as broader inflation in the economy remains tepid.

California is the largest domestic producer of each of the products Mr. Richards identified, ranging from grapes to peppers. And in the case of avocados, it’s the only state with a significant crop.

 

READ MORE: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/04/15/attention-shoppers-fruit-and-vegetable-prices-rising/?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsFifth

Ebola Outbreak: At Least 100 Die in West Africa

Passengers with flu like symptoms — fever, diarrhea, or joint pain — aren’t allowed to fly.

“It’s probably one of the more complicated outbreaks because it is occurring in a very densely-populated urban area, unlike previous outbreaks,” he said by phone from Conkary, which has a population of 2 million.

Dr. Jagatic described it as the biggest known Ebola outbreak an urban area.

Health officials do not expect the virus to go global and stress that Ebola is not easy to catch, requiring direct contact with an infected victim’s bodily fluids.

Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/ebola-outbreak-least-100-die-west-africa-n80351

Artificial blood to be tested on humans – and could be used in transfusions by 2035

Jonathan O’Callaghan
Daily Mail
April 15, 2014

Mineman Seaman donates blood during a Red Cross blood drive at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.

Artificially created blood could one day replace donations as the norm for blood transfusions.

That’s according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh who have been using stem cells to create red blood cells.

And in 2016 they are planning to conduct a groundbreaking trial that, for the first time, will test artificial blood made from stem cells in patients.

The £5 million project is being pioneered by the University of Edinburgh and comes after years of research into growing red blood cells.

Read more

RoundUp Tainting our Food: Monsanto Misleads on Glyphosate-Tainted GM Crops

Elizabeth Renter
Infowars.com
April 14, 2014

Photo by Viriditas, Wikimedia Commons

If you believed Monsanto, you would think conventionally-grown crops have higher levels of toxic glyphosate than GM varieties. Not surprisingly, you would be wrong. Despite Monsanto’s assurance that their GM crops are safe, a recent analysis in Food Chemistry revealed that not only do GM crops “take up and accumulate” dangerous pesticides during the growing season, but that Monsanto’s research to the contrary is completely misleading.

According to the researchers on that project, Thomas Bohn and Marek Cuhra, genetically modified foods contain “extreme levels” of pesticide residues, glyphosate and its principal breakdown product Aminomehtylphosponic acid (AMPA).

For the study, the researchers tested three different soybean samples for nutrients and various compounds including pesticides, glyphosate, and AMPA. Those three samples included: organic soybeans, GM soybeans, and conventional (non-GM) soybeans. None of the organic or conventional soybeans showed residues of glyphosate or AMPA. The GM soybeans, however, had residues averaging 9.0 mg/kg, an amount that surpasses many vitamins in the crop.

So how is this possible, considering Monsanto has always said pesticide contamination is worse in conventionally grown crops when compared with their Roundup-ready GM varieties? Not surprisingly, it seems the “truth” simply depends on who’s telling it.

In 1999, Monsanto said glyphosate levels in conventionally grown soybeans measured up to 16-17 mg/kg, which would be an alarmingly-high rate. But, these residues were present because of a pre-harvest pesticide spraying.

Read: Glyphosate-Ban Demanded in Brazil

Monsanto has also said that residue levels up to 5.6 mg/kg found in GM-soy are extreme and “far higher than those typically found”. In other words, they are outside the norm, according to the GM-giant. But seven of 10 of the tested GM samples in the latest study had glyphosate far higher than this “extreme level”.

It’s likely true that glyphosate contamination is actually increasing as time passes. This is because the number of glyphosate-tolerant weeds in GM-fields are increasing and so farmers are having to apply more pesticides than ever, in both higher concentrations and more frequent applications.

The toxicity of RoundUp has in part been underestimated because regulatory agencies are only testing the safety of claimed active ingredients. This despite the listed “inert” ingredients in RoundUp having disastrous consequences when combined and sprayed liberally on foods.

With the prevalence of GM foods and the use of RoundUp at alarming levels, we are only beginning to fully understand the effects. In 2012, a study indicated glyphosate’s presence in the urine of all tested men. Most recently, a study has even found that chronically sick people have even more glyphosate in their urine than healthy people.

The chemical is inside us and there is evidence it is leading to fertility problems, cancer, mental illness, and more.

This article first appeared at NaturalSociety.com.

Fourth Anniversary of Gulf Oil Spill: Wildlife Is Still Suffering from Toxic Cover Up

Washington’s Blog
April 14, 2014

As we noted at the time, and on the first (and here), second and third anniversaries of BP’s Gulf oil spill, BP and the government made the spill much worse by dumping toxic dispersant in the water in an attempt to to sink – and so temporarily hide – the oil.

Image: BP Oil Spill (Wiki Commons).

In addition, adding dispersant makes oil 52 times more toxic than it would normally be.

EPA whistleblowers tried to warn us

Gulf toxicologist Susan Shaw told us last year:

Covering up the [Gulf] oil spill with Corexit was a deadly action … what happened in the Gulf was a political act, an act of cowardice and greed.

(60 Minutes did a fantastic exposé on the whole shenanigan.)

And the cover up went beyond adding toxic dispersant.  BP and the government went so far as hiding dead animals and keeping scientists and reporters away from the spill so they couldn’t document what was really happening.

As the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) notes in a new report, the wildlife is still suffering from this toxic cover up.

NWF reports:

Some 900 bottlenose dolphins of all ages—the vast majority of them dead—have been reported stranded in the northern Gulf between April 2010 and March 2014. In 2013, bottlenose dolphins were found dead or stranded at more than three times average rates before the spill. In 2011, dead infant or stillborn dolphins were found at nearly seven times the historical average and these strandings have remained higher than normal in subsequent years. NOAA has been investigating this ongoing wave of bottlenose dolphin strandings across the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010, before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. This is the longest period of above-average strandings in the past two decades and it includes the greatest number of stranded dolphins ever found in the Gulf of Mexico. In December 2013, NOAA published results of a study looking at the health of dolphins in a heavily-oiled section of the Louisiana coast. This researchers found strong evidence that the ill health of the dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay was related to oil exposure.

***

Dolphins in Barataria Bay showed evidence of adrenal problems, as has been previously reported in mammals exposed to oil.4 Barataria Bay dolphins also were five times more likely than dolphins from unoiled areas to have moderate-to-severe lung disease. Nearly half the dolphins studied were very ill; 17% of the dolphins were not expected to survive. The study concludes that health effects seen in Barataria Bay dolphins are significant and likely will lead to reduced survival and ability to reproduce.

NWF found many other species have also been harmed by the dispersant-oil mixture:

Roughly 500 stranded sea turtles have been found in the area affected by the spill every year from 2011 to 2013. This is a dramatic increase over the numbers found before the disaster. Other teams of scientists have reported negative impacts of oil on a number of species of fish, including tuna red snapper and mahi-mahi. As we have learned from previous spills far smaller than the 2010 event, it has taken years to understand the full effects on the environment. In some cases, recovery is not complete even decades later. Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, clams, mussels, and killer whales are still considered “recovering,” and the Pacific herring population, commercially harvested before the spill, is showing few signs of recovery. [One of the main ingredients in Corexit – 2-butoxyethanol – was also used in the Valdez spill] … the full scope of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the Gulf ecosystem will likely unfold for years or even decades to come.

***

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the largest fish in the Gulf, reaching average lengths of 6.5 feet and weighing about 550 lbs. A single fish can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.… The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded while the April-May breeding season in the northern Gulf was underway. In 2011, NOAA researchers estimated that as many as 20% of larval fish could have been exposed to oil, with a potential reduction in future populations of about 4%.

***

A more recent study shows that a chemical in oil from the spill can cause irregular heartbeats in bluefin and yellowfin tuna that can lead to heart attacks, or even death. The effects are believed to be particularly problematic for fish embryos and larvae, as heartbeat changes could affect development of other organs. The researchers suggest that other vertebrate species in the Gulf of Mexico could have been similarly affected. Scientists found that four additional species of large predatory fish—blackfin tuna, blue marlinmahi-mahi and sailfish—all had fewer larvae in the year of the oil spill than any of the three previous years.

***

The Deepwater Horizon spill occurred during the blue crab spawning season, when female crabs were migrating out of estuaries into deeper waters of the Gulf to release their eggs.

***

[Reports indicate problems with crabs.] Blue crabs provide evidence of oil tainting Gulf food web. 2. Alabama Local News. 2013. Blue crab stock declines are concern for Gulf Coast fishermen. 3. Houma Today. 2013. Locals say blue crab catches plummeting. 4. Louisiana Seafood News. 2013. Lack of Crabs in Pontchartrain Basin Leads to Unanswered Questions. 5. Tampa Bay Times. 2013. Gulf oil spill’s effects still have seafood industry nervous. 6. Presentation at the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference. The Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Blue Crab Megalopal Settlement: A Field Study.

***

Marine life associated with the deep sea corals also showed visible signs of impact from the oil. In a laboratory study, coral larvae that had been exposed to oil, a chemical dispersant, and an oil/ dispersant mixture all had lower survival rates than the control larvae in clean seawater.

***

According to a recently published federal report, oyster eggs, sperm and larvae were exposed to oil and dispersants during the 2010 oil spill. Oil compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be lethal to oyster

***

In the fall of 2010, even after the Macondo well was capped, oyster larvae were rare or absent in many of the water samples collected across the northern Gulf of Mexico.

***

There are nearly 1000 known species of foraminifera in the Gulf of Mexico. These small marine creatures form part of the base of the marine food web, serving as a food source for marine snails, sand dollars and fish. Previous research has shown that these sediment-dwelling microorganisms are sensitive to oil damage. Rapid accumulation of oiled sediment on parts of the Gulf floor between late 2010 and early 2011 contributed to a dramatic die-off of foraminifera. Researchers found a significant difference in community structure and abundance during and after the Deepwater Horizon event at sites located from 100-1200 meters deep in the Desoto Canyon, nearly 100 kilometers south-southwest of Pensacola, Florida. Deep sea foraminifera had not recovered in diversity a year and a half after the spill.

***

Killifish, also known as bull minnows or cockahoe, are prized bait fish and play an important role in the Gulf food web..…This species has been extensively studied in the aftermath of the disaster because of its abundance and its sensitivity to pollution. Oil exposure can alter the killifish’s cellular function in ways that are predictive of developmental abnormalities, decreased hatching success and decreased embryo and larval survival. In 2011, Louisiana State University researchers compared the gill tissue of killifish in an oiled marsh to those in an oil-free marsh. Killifish residing in oiled marshes showed evidence of effects even at low levels of oil exposure which could be significant enough to have an impact at a population level. Additional research has found that four common species of marsh fish, including the Gulf killifish, seem to be avoiding oiled areas. These behaviors, even at small scales, could be significant within marsh communities, leading to changes in food web dynamics.

***

In the aftermath of the spill, a number of fish, including red snapper, caught in Gulf waters between eastern Louisiana and western Florida had unusual lesions or rotting fins. University of South Florida researchers examined red snapper and other fish and determined that their livers contained oil compounds that had a strong “pattern coherence” to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.… An analysis of snapper populations in the Gulf that was done between 2011 and 2013 showed an unusual lack of younger snapper. Further research found a significant decline in snapper and other reef fish after the spill. Small plankton-eating fish, such as damselfishes and cardinalfishes, declined most dramatically but red snapper and other larger reef fish also declined.

***

Seaside sparrows live only in coastal marshes, where they are common year-round residents. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill remains in some marshes, putting seaside sparrows at continued risk from direct oiling, contaminated or reduced food supplies, and continued habitat loss. In 2012 and 2013, seaside sparrows in Louisiana salt marshes were found to have reductions in both overall abundance and likelihood to fledge from the nest. Because these birds are not aquatic, exposure to oil would likely come from incidental contact on the shore or from eating oil or bugs and other creatures that have oil in their systems. Other studies have shown a significant decrease in the insect population in oiled marshes, which could be reducing prey availability for seaside sparrows.

***

Roughly 700 sperm whales live year-round in the Gulf’s deep waters off the continental shelf…. A researcher at the University of Southern Maine has found higher levels of DNA-damaging metals such as chromium and nickel in sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico compared to sperm whales elsewhere in the world. These metals are present in oil from the spill. Whales closest to the well’s blowout showed the highest levels.

Nothing has changed … indeed, the U.S. has let BP back into the Gulf.  And BP is going to drill even deeper … with an even greater potential for disaster.

It’s not just BP … or the Gulf.  Giant banking and energy companies and the government have a habit of covering up disasters – including not only oil spills, but everything from nuclear accidents to  financial problems – instead of actually fixing the problems so that they won’t happen again.

Rescue underway to save sick 1-year-old on boat in Pacific Ocean

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (EarthThreats.com) – The race is on to save a 1-year-old girl on a sailboat who became ill, 900 miles off the Mexican Coast, officials said Saturday.

rebel+hear+boat
129th Rescue Wing Twitter A look at the Rebel Heart sailboat from above

Eric Kaufman and his wife, Charlotte, the parents of the seriously ill girl planned to cross the Pacific, and had left Mexico two weeks ago with their daughters Cora and 1-year-old Lyra.

The U.S. Coast Guard received a distress call from the Rebel Hart on Thursday morning about a girl that was seriously ill and need emergency medical treatment.

An Air National Guard Plane was dispatched from Moffett Federal Airfield to the area where four Air National Guard members from the 129th Rescue Wing parachuted into the ocean, inflated a motorized boat and reached the 36-foot sailboat, said 2nd Lt. Roderick B. Bersamina.

At last check the child was reported in stable condition and members from that 129th Rescue Wing would stay with her and her parents until they reach a Doctor, Bersamina said Saturday.