Cycads to be saved by DNA

first_imgCycads growing wild in the forest ofthe Rain Queen Modjadji.(Image: South Africa Tourism) MEDIA CONTACTS • Philip RousseauUJ Dept of Botany and Plant Biotechnology+27 11 559 3477 or +27 73 545 7056• Herman EsterhuizenUJ media relations+27 11 559 6653 or + 27 72 129 0777Janine ErasmusSouth Africa’s rare and sought-after cycads are to be protected by a new DNA barcoding initiative that will help clamp down on illicit trade in the endangered plants.Botany masters student Philip Rousseau, under the guidance of Professor Michelle van der Bank of the Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), initiated the project in January 2010. His aim is to preserve the ancient plants, which are often sold illegally to eager collectors in the US and Far East.The database will focus specifically on plants from the Encephalartos genus, as these are native to Africa, with 39 species occurring in South Africa alone. The country also is home to one species from the genus Stangeria, S. eriopus.The name Encephalartos comes from the Greek words en (within), kephali (head), and artos (bread). This refers to the traditional use of the pith of the stem as a starchy food, a practice reflected in the Afrikaans name broodboom (“bread tree”).“This project forms part of a global initiative, known as TreeBOL, to DNA barcode all the trees of the world within the next five years,” said Van der Bank. “UJ will generate a library of reference barcoding sequences for all cycad species, which will enable researchers and custom officials to identify specimens.”UJ is driving the African section of TreeBOL.According to the regulations South Africans need a permit to own a cycad, with one permit issued for every plant. Although the country’s laws are among the tightest in the world where cycads are concerned, officials have a difficult time with smugglers transporting valuable plants under the name of a less endangered species.In great demandNow modern technology is set to stop thieves in their tracks. The barcode library will deter illegal trade in cycads by preventing unscrupulous dealers and buyers from presenting rare plants as more common species. As visual identification is almost impossible once the leaves have been stripped for transport purposes, DNA will provide conservation officials with a foolproof way of identifying seized cycads.Plants are regularly stolen from protected areas and botanical gardens or simply dug out of their natural areas. In one such case, in January 2008, 103 extremely rare specimens with a value of US$1.3-million (R10-million), were plucked from the Lillie floral reserve in Limpopo province.Ruthless buyers, who are willing to pay $13 500 (R100 000) or more for cycads, ignore the fact that the plants take up to 800 years to grow tall stems, and that they are endangered in their native habitats because of excessive demand.Encephalartos cerinus, for example, was only described in 1989, but subsequent demand and poaching of the plant led to it tottering on the brink of extinction mere months after its discovery. Other species may have been wiped out before they were even discovered.Several cycad species are now extinct in the wild, while the numbers of others have dwindled alarmingly. In South Africa three of the 38 indigenous species are extinct in the wild – they are Encephalartos woodii, E. brevifoliolatus and E. nubimontanus. The cycad specialist group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified 12 more as critically endangered, and a further 13 as threatened.According to Dr John Donaldson of the IUCN cycad specialist group, South Africa has a disproportionately high number of critically endangered cycads. “We certainly are on the cusp of extinctions. We have a lot of rare plants that are down to less than 100 individuals in the wild,” he said.In recent years botanists have implanted microchips, which can only be read with a scanner, into rare cycads. This enables authorities to identify stolen plants and trace their rightful owners. The technology has proved effective on a number of occasions, although some canny thieves try to extract and get rid of the transponders. The DNA technology will overcome this hurdle.Plants of myth and legendThe palm-like cycads are the oldest seed plants on earth, with fossils dating back to the Early Permian period, about 280-million years ago. This puts the leafy specimens on the scene even before the Jurassic period when dinosaurs flourished.Just over 300 species have been described to date, falling into 10–12 genera and two or three families (the number of genera and families varies according to the taxonomic viewpoint).Cycads are found in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, America and Australasia. They have given rise to many myths and intriguing stories, and whole cultures have developed around them.One of the most famous is that of Ga-Modjadji, a rural community of over 150 villages near Tzaneen in Limpopo province, ruled by the Rain Queen Modjadji of the Lobedu people.The Modjadji dynasty is some 400 years old, but since the sixth Rain Queen, Makobo, died in 2005 at the age of 27, no heir has been chosen. The Rain Queen is always succeeded by her eldest daughter and Makobo did give birth to a daughter, now almost four years old, but as her father was a commoner it is said to be unlikely that the Royal Council will accept her as the next queen.The Rain Queen is believed to have special powers, including the ability to control clouds and rain. Farmers in the area are particularly respectful of her abilities. The annual rainmaking ceremony takes place at the royal compound in Khetlhakone village in November each year, at the start of the rainy season.The Modjadji cycad forest is a well-known tourist attraction which has been tended by the Balobedu for centuries. Here the Modjadji cycad, Encephalartos transvenosus, grows in abundance. The then-reigning queen passed stewardship of the 305ha forest to the South African government, who subsequently proclaimed it as a protected area in 1979.last_img read more

WOTUS Repeal Challenged

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Todd NeeleyDTN Staff ReporterOMAHA (DTN) — The agriculture industry celebrated the 2015 waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule repeal that EPA finalized in recent weeks. But an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation and an official with a major agriculture group said farmers and ranchers still face regulation under the Clean Water Act.On Oct. 22, 2019, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized the repeal of the Obama-era rule that agriculture and other industry groups and states had fought in court for years.The repeal reverts regulations to the 1986 version of WOTUS while the EPA continues to rewrite the definition. The 2015 rule was opposed by critics as an example of gross federal overreach, yet the 1986 rule also had its share of concerns.“The 1986 regulations re-imposed by EPA this month are broader than the 2015 regulations the agency just repealed,” said Tony Francois, senior attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.Francois is the lead attorney in a lawsuit filed by the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association on Oct. 22, 2019. The lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico attempts to protect ranchers from what Francois said is a broader WOTUS definition under the 1986 rule.“The 1986 version asserts control over all non-navigable tributaries and all ‘neighboring’ non-navigable wetlands,” he said. “The 2015 version merely asserts control over most of these features.”Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said the next year will be important for agriculture when it comes to supporting EPA’s current efforts to rewrite the rule.“The pre-2015 regs are problematic,” he said. “They are expansive and lack the clarity we are hopeful the new regs will provide. We have two major goals — killing the 2015 rules so they will never come back and a new rule that provides significantly more clarity than the ’86 regs. To ensure we achieve both goals, we understand that we will have to go back to something before EPA finishes the new regs. If the process goes as we expect and hope, both the 2015 and the ’86 regs and guidance will be history soon.”Parrish said the main concern is, if the EPA’s repeal rule doesn’t hold up in court, it has the potential to bring the 2015 rule back from the dead.THE LATEST LAWSUITSA number of environmental and conservation groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on Oct. 23, 2019. That lawsuit is led by the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation and others.What is most problematic for agriculture with this lawsuit, Parrish said, is, if the court rules the agency should have promulgated the 1986 rule again instead of just reverting back to it, the 2015 rule could go back into effect until EPA completes the rewrite of the new rule.The lawsuit claims the federal agencies violated the Administrative Procedure Act in promulgating the repeal rule and merely reverting back to the 1986 rule instead of re-introducing it for public comment.The groups argue the 2015 WOTUS rule fixed a number of issues with the 1986 rule. That includes protecting waters that are not navigable in fact through the so-called “significant nexus” test put forward by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. That suggested the Clean Water Act protects smaller tributaries if they have some connection to larger navigable waters.“The manner in which the repeal has been carried out — in essence, by executive fiat — betrays an extraordinary disregard for federal rulemaking requirements and the views of the American public,” the groups argue.“The final repeal rule also reinstates an illegal regime — the regulations that pre-dated the Clean Water Rule as limited by guidance that runs contrary to Supreme Court precedent, unlawfully leaving certain waters of the United States unprotected due to the guidance’s unduly narrow interpretation of Justice Kennedy’s significant-nexus test.”The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association’s lawsuit seeks protection from the 1986 rule.Francois argues farmers and ranchers in New Mexico are likely to see an expansion in the number of federal permits required while federal agencies conduct the current WOTUS rewrite.“This will require them to seek federal permit approval at significant cost to use their property for its intended purpose,” the lawsuit said. “Or it will require (the) plaintiff’s members to seek a determination from the Army or a private party expert whether the 1986 regulations and related guidance apply to them.“Because of the 1986 regulations’ overbroad and illegal definition of the ‘navigable waters’ under the Clean Water Act, (the) plaintiff’s members will now be required to obtain federal approval of new and ongoing land-use projects at a cost of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars and months, if not years, of delay.”The lawsuit raises a number of jurisdictional concerns about the scope of the 1986 rule. The cattle group said the rule categorically regulates “all tributaries,” broadly includes all wetlands defined to be adjacent to any tributary and regulates all interstate waters “regardless of navigability or connection to navigable-in-fact waters.”The lawsuit said such waters include isolated waters or waters that the “Supreme Court determined would have no connection or effect on navigable-in-fact waters.”The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association argued in lawsuit that the 1986 rule is arbitrary and capricious and “undermines state power” to regulate waters.CONTINUED BATTLESThe Pacific Legal Foundation has represented several landowners in court who have fought the federal government’s implementation of the Clean Water Act.Francois said all of those cases have challenged the implementation of the 1986 rules.“Meanwhile, our clients are exposed to expanded Clean Water Act control under the 1986 regulations, which can be enforced through citizen suits and government enforcement suits years later, even after the regulations change,” he said.“Our clients cannot simply stand by while exposed to this kind of liability, as though they owe some sort of courtesy to the government in the ongoing political debate about the scope of the Clean Water Act.”Francois said the new definition currently being drafted proposes the continued regulation of intermittent drainages and many seasonal ponds on private farms and ranches while doing nothing to reform the interpretation of the farming exemption.Portions of the 1986 version of the law were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in Rapanos v. United States in 2006, Francois said.“So, for however long they are in effect, the newly re-imposed 1986 regulations will illegally assert the United States Army’s regulatory authority over intermittent and ephemeral drainages and seasonal ponds on farms and ranches all over the country,” he said.In particular, Francois said, the 1986 law allows the federal agencies to “narrowly” interpret an exclusion for farming activities that Congress included in the Clean Water Act.“This broadens the category of activities on private farms and ranches that would require dredge and fill permits, including — more often than most farmers realize — plowing and other tillage,” he said.“Dredge and fill permits require, on average, more than two years and more than $250,000 to obtain. The nation that requires its farmers to wait two years for permission from the Army before growing food will not eat well. So there is every reason to legally challenge EPA and the Army whenever they illegally attempt to assert control over farming operations on private property.”Francois said because environmental groups likely will sue to stop the new rule once it’s finalized, it remains uncertain how long farmers and ranchers would fall under the auspices of the 1986 definition or even the 2015 rule.“They (environmentalists) have a decent track record of obtaining injunctions against President Trump’s deregulatory efforts,” he said. “So, nobody really has any idea yet how long the illegal 1986 regulations will be in effect if left unchallenged.”Todd Neeley can be reached at [email protected] him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN(AG/CZ )© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.last_img read more

How To Create Content for Your Sale Force

first_imgSalespeople struggle with social marketing because they are not content creators. Marketing departments don’t want salespeople creating content, even when they have the ideas and the writing chops. Their sales managers surely don’t want their salespeople slaving over a blog post when they should be on the phone.But there is no content marketing without content. There is little nurturing without the tools with which to nurture. That means you need ideas and insights packaged in a way that can be easily disseminated by the sales force.Getting StartedThis problem of creating enough content isn’t as difficult as it might seem. If you need to provide your sales force with content with which to nurture your dream clients, this is one way you can get started.First, start by making 10 lists of 10 items each. You might start with the 10 biggest challenges your dream clients are facing now. Another good list might be 10 mistakes that keep your prospects from getting the results they want. You might also write the 10 biggest lessons you’ve learned serving your clients.Once you have 10 lists of 10 items, you have enough content for 111 blog posts. The first blog post is the list of 10 lists. Each list is itself a blog post. Then, each of the 10 points on each list is a single blog post. Content problem solved.But wait. There’s more.Second, learn to repurpose your work. Every list of 10 might also be an eBook. That might be a very natural way to package those ideas. You might also find many eBooks by identifying some thread that runs through any number of the lists you already created. You might also find three or four white papers.A lot of people in management and leadership worry about sharing ideas like this because they believe their competitors will steal their ideas. That is fearing the wrong danger. The greater danger is not arming your sales force with the value creating ideas that allow them to nurture their dream clients, making deposits over time, and establishing themselves as someone with whom it is worth doing business. You need to create content.last_img read more

Strabismus

first_imgDefinitionStrabismus is a disorder in which the two eyes do not line up in the same direction, and therefore do not look at the same object at the same time. The condition is more commonly known as “crossed eyes.”Alternative NamesCrossed eyes; Esotropia; Exotropia; Hypotropia; Hypertropia; Squint; Walleye; Misalignment of the eyesCauses, incidence, and risk factorsSix different muscles surround each eye and work “as a team” so that both eyes can focus on the same object.In someone with strabismus, these muscles do not work together. As a result, one eye looks at one object, while the other eye turns in a different direction and is focused on another object.When this occurs, two different images are sent to the brain — one from each eye. This confuses the brain. In children, the brain may learn to ignore the image from the weaker eye.If the strabismus is not treated, the eye that the brain ignores will never see well. This loss of vision is called amblyopia. Another name for amblyopia is “lazy eye.” Sometimes amblyopia is present first, and it causes strabismus.In most children with strabismus, the cause is unknown. In more than half of these cases, the problem is present at or shortly after birth. This is called congenital strabismus.Most of the time, the problem has to do with muscle control, and not with muscle strength.Other disorders associated with strabismus in children include:Apert syndromeCerebral palsyCongenital rubellaHemangioma near the eye during infancyIncontinentia pigmenti syndromeNoonan syndromePrader-Willi syndromeRetinopathy of prematurityRetinoblastomaTraumatic brain injuryTrisomy 18Strabismus that develops in adults can be caused by:advertisementBotulismDiabetes (causes a condition known as acquired paralytic strabismus)Guillain-Barre syndromeInjury to the eyeShellfish poisoningStrokeTraumatic brain injuryVision loss from any eye disease or injuryA family history of strabismus is a risk factor. Farsightedness may be a contributing factor, especially in children. Any other disease that causes vision loss may also cause strabismus.SymptomsSymptoms of strabismus may be present all the time, or may come and go. Symptoms can include:Crossed eyesDouble visionEyes that do not align in the same directionUncoordinated eye movements (eyes do not move together)Vision or depth perception lossIt’s important to note that because children can develop amblyopia so quickly, they may never have double vision.Signs and testsA physical examination will include a detailed examination of the eyes. Tests will be done to determine how much the eyes are out of alignment.Eye tests include:Corneal light reflexCover/uncover testRetinal examStandard ophthalmic examVisual acuityA brain and nervous system (neurological) examination will also be performed.TreatmentThe first step in treating strabismus in children is to prescribe glasses, if needed.Amblyopia or lazy eye must be treated first. A patch is placed over the better eye. This forces the weaker eye to work harder.Your child may not like wearing a patch or eyeglasses. A patch forces the child to see through the weaker eye at first. However, it is very important to use the patch or eyeglasses as directed.If the eyes still do not move correctly, eye muscle surgery may be needed. Different muscles in the eye will be made stronger or weaker.Eye muscle repair surgery does not fix the poor vision of a lazy eye. A child may have to wear glasses after surgery. In general, the younger a child is when the surgery is done, the better the result.Adults with mild strabismus that comes and goes may do well with glasses and eye muscle exercises to help keep the eyes straight. More severe forms of adult strabismus will need surgery to straighten the eyes. If strabismus has occurred because of vision loss, the vision loss will need to be corrected before strabismus surgery can be successful.Expectations (prognosis)After surgery, the eyes may look straight but vision problems can remain.The child may still have reading problems in school, and for adults driving may be more difficult. Vision may affect the ability to play sports.With early diagnosis and treatment, the problem can usually be corrected. Delayed treatment may lead to permanent vision loss in one eye. About one-third of children with strabismus will develop amblyopia.Because many children will get strabismus or amblyopia again, they need to be monitored closely.Calling your health care providerStrabismus requires prompt medical evaluation. Call for an appointment with your health care provider or eye doctor if your child:Appears to be cross-eyedComplains of double visionHas difficulty seeingNote: Learning difficulties or problems at school can sometimes be due to a childs inability to see the blackboard or reading material.advertisementReferencesParks MM. Binocular vision. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duanes Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 5.Goldstein HP, Scott AB. Ocular motility. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duanes Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 23.Parks MM. Binocular vision adaptations in strabismus. Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duanes Ophthalmology. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 8.Baloh RW. Neuro-ophthalmology. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 450.Olitsky SE, Hug D, Plummer LS, Stass-Isern M. Disorders of eye movement and alignment. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 615.Review Date:9/17/2012Reviewed By:Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.last_img read more

OCA Says Behaviour Change Critical to Eliminate Corporal Punishment

first_img Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says the OCA views corporal punishment as “inflicting a form of violence against children”, noting that there are alternatives to curbing indiscipline. The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) says a cultural shift, as well as behaviour change, is critical to eliminating corporal punishment in Jamaica. Story Highlightscenter_img The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) says a cultural shift, as well as behaviour change, is critical to eliminating corporal punishment in Jamaica.Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says the OCA views corporal punishment as “inflicting a form of violence against children”, noting that there are alternatives to curbing indiscipline.She was speaking to journalists following the opening of the Second Regional Caribbean Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James, on December 2.“The position of the Office of the Children’s Advocate is that corporal punishment is a form of violence, and I wish to be very clear to say that we aren’t against disciplining children, but we don’t think that corporal punishment is the only form of discipline that exists. It’s about being creative and using methods that actually work with encouraging children to pattern positive behaviour and to deal with issues in a very reasonable and measured way,” she argued.In the meantime, Mrs. Gordon Harrison, who is also National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons for Jamaica, said the regional conference provides a unique opportunity to advance agendas that will, ultimately, redound to the protection of children internationally.The ISPCAN conference, which ends on Wednesday (December 5), is being held in partnership with the OCA, under the theme, ‘Child Protection Realities within a Changing Caribbean and World’.Other countries participating in the event include Switzerland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States (US).ISPCAN is the world’s premier society for professionals working to prevent child abuse and child neglect.last_img read more