Sep 24, 2010

NGM Blog Central - Western Medicine Takes a Fresh Look at Ginger - National Geographic Magazine -


Parts of ginger’s knobby rhizome can be removed without harming the plant. They’re the source of ginger products from powders to candies. The stringy danglers are the actual roots. Photo: Mark Thiessen, NGM Staff

“Take some ginger and call me in the morning.” That could become a new medical mantra—though it’s a very old idea. Indian texts from 1000 B.C. prescribe the herb for ailments from asthma to piles. Asian doctors still use it. Now skeptical Western ones are getting the word.

In a fresh study of 644 cancer patients, one group took the liquid equivalent of a half teaspoon of powdered ginger for three days before chemotherapy and three days after. Group members reported a 40 percent drop in feelings of nausea, says study co-author Julie Ryan, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The compound gingerol, a source of the herb’s heat, may block serotonins that send a nausea signal to the gut. Or it might help empty the stomach. Folks on chemo should ask a doctor before trying ginger; it could interfere with certain antinausea meds.

Ginger can also stave off motion sickness and is being tested as a balm for arthritis, notes UCLA oncologist Mary Hardy. A ginger fan, she keeps honey-based ginger candies in her purse—just in case. —Marc Silver

Postcode Lottery Green Challenge

Lottery Green Challenge 2010 winners announced

Amsterdam, 23 September 2010 – Scot Frank has won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2010 for the affordable portable solar concentrator SolSource. His Royal Highness Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, the honorary jury chair, announced the American as the recipient of the €500,000 grand prize.
"This is fantastic," Frank said. "We've been working with target users in China for five years. We'll use this money to set up our Chinese manufacturing, marketing and distribution base."

The SolSource is a light, foldable device that harnesses the sun's energy to cook, generate heat and light, and charge mobile phones. It eliminates indoor air pollution from dung- and wood-burning ovens. SolSource also saves women hours each day by removing the need to collect fuel. The device, to be produced from local materials in its target markets and sold for €10, will be a boon in developing countries.

Runner-up wins €200,000 for charcoal kiln
The jury awarded a €200,000 runner-up prize to Jason Aramburu. The American's compact high-temperature kiln for African farmers, the Re:char, turns agricultural and animal waste into biochar, a kind of charcoal. The substance can be used as fuel for cooking and heating and to fertilise crops. Buried biochar sequesters carbon that would otherwise turn to CO2 or methane. The Re:char kiln also fights deforestation caused by current charcoal production.

Working for a sustainable world
The Dutch Postcode Lottery received entries for the Green Challenge 2010 from all over the world. Five reached the finals. "It's very inspiring to see so many talented young entrepreneurs working toward a sustainable world," said His Royal Highness Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau. "People are increasingly willing to work together to solve the CO2 problem, and I think that’s a wonderful development."

Ideas become reality
All too often, brilliant green inventions fail to make it out of the starting gate. In 2010, for the fourth year, the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge is enabling such ideas to reach a broad public. The global competition encourages people to think creatively to fight climate change.

Read the jury report (pdf)

Sep 21, 2010

The Nation: Docs Reveals Blackwater-Linked Companies Provided Intel & Security to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Chevron

"Blackwater’s Black Ops"—that’s the title of an explosive new article in The Nation magazine that reveals how entities closely linked with the private security firm Blackwater have provided security and intelligence services to a range of powerful corporations over the past several years. The companies include Monsanto, Chevron, Deutsche Bank and others. Blackwater has also provided intelligence and training services to foreign governments, including Jordan, the Canadian military and the Dutch police. We speak with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill.

Percy Schmeiser vs Monsanto: The Story of a Canadian Farmer's Fight to Defend the Rights of Farmers and the Future of Seeds

Gathered here in Bonn this week are some eighty Right Livelihood Award laureates, including the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, who has battled the biotech giant Monsanto for years. When Monsanto seeds blew into Schmeiser’s property, Monsanto accused him of illegally planting their crops and took him to court. Ultimately his case landed in the Canadian Supreme Court. He was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1997 for fighting to defend the rights of farmers and the future of seeds.