Jun 18, 2011

Special Investigation: The Pesticides and Politics of America's Eco-War | Truthout

Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted:Carl Mueller / Flickr

Keith Starvrum stands on the banks of Willapa Bay, where the low tide has revealed long lines of mudflats speckled with empty oyster shells. The sun is making a rare appearance in southwestern Washington State, but the perfect spring weather fails to cheer up the lumbering Starvrum, whose loud outbursts and biting sarcasm keep his employees' eyes rolling. He served overseas as a special ops soldier in his youth and he has some interesting things to say about the recent uprisings in Arab countries and the CIA's dirty habit of quietly "rearranging" governments amid apparent political turmoil. But he has a lot more to say about oysters.

Starvrum points to a lone oysterman gathering the day's catch from neighboring mudflats and shakes his head. Starvrum used to harvest oysters from the thick mud exposed by the low tide, but he has not brought in a catch in three years. He refuses to participate in the lucrative business, a traditional mainstay of the local economy, because the pesticides sprayed on adjacent mudflats drifted onto his oyster beds.

"That's why we don't sell our oysters, 'cause we know what they're in," Starvrum says. "But when we do, they will be 100 times better." Other oystermen have used pesticides to kill pests for generations, but Starvrum did it differently. He harvested oysters by hand, without using chemicals, and hauled them right from the bay to the kitchen of a small hotel on the same property. The rest were shipped to natural foods restaurants. Starvrum says his oyster farm was "as organic as you can be in Willapa Bay."

The pesticides that finally drove Starvrum to cancel his oyster harvests were not sprayed by his fellow oystermen, however. State agencies sprayed the chemicals to combat a saltwater marsh grass "infestation." Like industrial gardeners weeding a giant brackish plot, government workers came in boats and helicopters, slowly spraying thousands of gallons of herbicides into the bay's shallow waters.

Some call this grass spartina alterniflora and others call it cord grass. Fritzi Cohen just calls it "spartina." Cohen runs the Moby Dick Hotel and Oyster Farm with Starvrum, and she loves spartina. Cohen says she used the grass to make homemade paper and compost for her garden. A wide smile grows on her face as she recalls the days before public officials slated spartina for complete annihilation. "I mean, this was a beautiful grass," Cohen says. "When people took photographers here, that's what they wanted to take pictures of, because it's so beautiful."

Most people living on the peninsula that separates Willapa Bay from the Pacific Ocean do not share Cohen's love for spartina. Some of them even helped fight a war against the grass, an effort known as a species "eradication."

Cohen is a lifelong activist who has challenged the "military industrial complex," as she puts it, since the Vietnam War, and now she says she is fighting the military-industrial complex in her backyard. Cohen and a small group of allies have spent two decades fighting to save spartina grass from those who consider spartina an invasive weed that must be destroyed. Cohen also fights to save Willapa Bay from the herbicidal chemicals used to kill spartina. But the spartina eradicators say they are fighting for the bay, too. They argue that spartina grass is a bigger threat to the bay than the chemicals could ever be.

Cohen and Starvrum's campaign has been unsuccessful, and during the past decade, an herbicide-drenched eradication effort has reduced the number of solid acres of spartina in Willapa Bay from an estimated 8,500 to fewer than 20. Cohen fought the eradication for years, butting heads with other locals who believed spartina would permanently change Willapa Bay, a clear threat to the local oyster industry and to a migratory bird sanctuary.

The fight got ugly. Lawsuits were filed. Politicians pledged to have spartina destroyed. The Monsanto Co. swooped in to save Willapa Bay from spartina with its patented chemicals. Congress provided millions of dollars. At one point it looked like neo-Nazis could get involved.

Spartina is a constant topic of conversation at the Moby Dick Hotel. When two former guests from California show up, Cohen gives them a rapid-fire update on the herbicide sprays in the bay. She later complains that people consider her a spartina fanatic. She sees herself instead as a seasoned activist, but admits that fighting for spartina and against pesticides has taken up much of her time and money. "There's a part of me that says, 'why am I doing this?'" Cohen says. "Why am I basically spending my children's inheritance? When my husband died he left me some insurance; basically I don't travel around the world like my friends do."

Cohen's story has the ring of an oddball, not-in-my-backyard kind of struggle, but her efforts open a new chapter in the politics of pesticides that reveals the gritty details of an emerging debate within the environmental movement over invasive species like spartina. The controversy also raises deep questions about what it means to be an environmentalist in an age when big business teams up with the government to provide high-tech solutions to the inconveniences of the natural world.

The Eradication

Before coming to Willapa Bay to become an oysterman a decade ago, Starvrum ran his own roofing business and did other odd and dirty jobs. He doesn't seem like the type of guy who would care about natural produce, but he keeps an organic garden and is obviously proud of harvesting oysters in a more sustainable way than the big-money operations. He's loud and grumpy and he blames his rude disposition on the drugs he takes to battle lymphoma. Cohen wonders if the chemicals sprayed on spartina are to blame for Starvrum's illness. She feels guilty for sending him out there when she knew that "poisons" were lurking in the mudflats.

Starvrum is a Minnesota native; Cohen and her late husband Edward came to Willapa Bay from Washington, DC, in the late 1980s. Spartina grass is also from the East Coast and can commonly be seen there, bending in the wind on sandy meadows between estuaries winding toward the sea. Spartina is prized on the eastern coastline for acting as a natural erosion buffer, filtering pollution from water and gathering nutrients. But state agencies on the West Coast consider spartina to be a dangerous alien invader that threatens native habitats by dominating tidal mudflats in areas like Willapa Bay. Big oyster harvesting firms don't like spartina either. The grass can slowly transform parts of the mudflats into estuarine rivers and some oystermen fear the grass could get in the way of their dredging efforts to pull the valuable mussel from the muck.

Starvrum walks to the bank of the bay and points to small posts in the tidal mud marking the property line. On either side, patches of tiny spartina sprouts are emerging from the mud. If it were allowed to grow, the grass could reach four to six feet in height by the end of the summer. But spartina is considered a Class A Noxious Weed in Willapa Bay and eradication is a mandatory measure enforced by the local noxious weed board, with herbicide being the weapon of choice. Bayside residents with spartina on their property must allow the herbicide sprays or spend their own time and money removing the grass.

"They sprayed for three years and it's still coming up," Starvrum says, pointing out that bigger patches of the green stubble are coming up on his neighbor's property. Their neighbors chose to allow eradication teams to spray glyphosate and imazapyr herbicides on their mudflats, but Starvrum and Cohen fought back, attending heated local weed board meetings and eventually taking the board to court. After a brief legal battle in 2009, a judge granted Starvrum and Cohen the right to remove the spartina on their mudflats by mowing the grass with a weed whacker.

Mud from Starvrum's flats later tested positive for the herbicides that drifted in the waters and Starvrum quit harvesting in protest and out of fear for his own health and the health of his customers. "If anyone else tested, no one in the bay would be selling," Starvrum scowls. "That's why it all goes to China."

Cohen and Starvrum say the spartina eradication has implications beyond oyster farming. Wiping out an entire species of grass because it decided to grow in your neighborhood just doesn't seem right, and forcing herbicide sprays on property owners seems to infringe on some basic freedoms. To Starvrum and Cohen, the idea of mandatory eradication smells like some kind of ecological fascism. So, last spring, Starvrum announced at a weed board meeting that Cohen would sell her property if the county sprayed more herbicides near her oyster beds, and they had heard that the Aryan Nation was looking for a new place to call home. A man in black sitting next to Starvrum later stood up and suggested they keep spraying so his "group" could move in.

The local media reported on the stunt and rumors erupted across the tiny communities on the Long Beach peninsula. The man in black was said to be Aryan Nation leader Paul Mullet. The real Mullet would soon angrily deny being anywhere near Willapa Bay and pledged to inform the police that he had been illegally impersonated in public.

Starvrum laughs until his face turns red when recalling the stunt. Cohen says the Nazis were angry because someone had suggested they would do business with a Jewish woman. She admits that bringing up white supremacists in the local media may have scared off some tourists, but she doesn't regret it. "I never denied anything," she says with a tiny smirk. "But I just get so angry sometimes."

The stunt was a tasteless publicity grab, but it was also a metaphor for the spartina eradication and the dominant attitude toward invasive species in general. For many environmentalists, eradicating invasive species is good ecological policy for preserving ecosystems, but Cohen and a growing number of researchers consider eradications to be a symptom of species xenophobia.

Invasive species are plants and animals living in areas outside what ecologists consider their native habitats. Invasive species are usually introduced to new habitats by humans and, without the competition from species in their native environments, are said to be a threat to native species and a nuisance to industries like agriculture and forestry. In the case of spartina, oyster fisherman introduced the grass to Willapa Bay more than a century ago. The grass was used as packing for non-native East Coast oysters the fisherman hoped to introduce to Willapa Bay, and spartina has continued to spread until a coalition of conservation groups and state agencies began wiping it out.

A war on invasive species is being waged across the country. Non-native mangrove trees in Hawaii are being poisoned with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Tamarisk trees in the Southwest are being poisoned, mowed down and treated with tree-killing beetles. Purple loosestrife is pulled up and poisoned in wetlands across the Midwest. Most conservationists agree that invasions should be prevented, but once established, these invaders must be decimated in order for the purely native species to flourish.

Science is always changing, and every species and ecosystem is different. Some biologists and conservationists are now questioning the idea that every species deemed "invasive" is actually bad for ecosystems. Others flat out say that the invasion biology "greenwashing" myth was created by the land management industry to sell pesticides and generate an endless stream of government contracts.

Cohen admits that she had never heard of invasive species before moving to Willapa Bay. But in her effort to stop the herbicide sprays and save spartina, Cohen became a crusader for plants and animals so often despised by other environmentalists. "These are living things, even if they are offensive to some people," Cohen says. "But if you have to get rid of them, at least don't use chemicals."

The Chemicals

Willapa Bay made it on the front page of Monsanto's company magazine in 1991 and was featured in an article titled "No Time to Lose: Will Rodeo Save Willapa Bay?" The agribusiness giant was scoping out the bay as a potential market for Rodeo, the aquatic version of the company's popular Roundup herbicide.

The active ingredient in Roundup and Rodeo is glyphosate, the chemical that many of Monsanto's crop seeds are genetically engineered to tolerate, allowing farmers to spray whole fields with the weed killer while sparing their crops. The article suggested that the spartina grass, which had been established in the bay for nearly a century, was now spreading out of control and threatened Willapa Bay with an "ecological disaster." Rodeo was the only aquatic pesticide approved for use in estuaries at the time and Monsanto suggested Rodeo was the only product that could wipe out spartina and save Willapa Bay from being choked out by stands of insidious marsh grass.

Critics like Cohen believe Monsanto demonizes invasive species like spartina in order to develop a new market for its chemicals. "They figured if they could spray [Rodeo] in a pristine bay, then they could spray it anywhere," Cohen says. Spartina grows in many areas across the world where it is considered non-native. If Rodeo proved effective for eradicating spartina from Willapa Bay, Monsanto could establish new markets in coastal areas ranging from New Zealand to Europe.

Monsanto lost its patent on glyphosate and its interest in Willapa Bay before the spartina eradication campaign gained real momentum in 2003, when federal funding secured by Washington senators would pump more than $1 million into the project each year for the next five years. With federal tax dollars in hand, conservation workers could fill their tanks with off-brand glyphosate for a lower price.

Glyphosate alone would not "save" Willapa Bay from spartina, and in 2004, the herbicide imazapyr joined the eradication arsenal. Following a petition from biotech company BASF, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of imazapyr in aquatic environments and the herbicide was immediately put to the test on a massive scale in Willapa Bay. Chad Phillips, who coordinates Washington's statewide spartina eradication program, calls imazapyr the "silver bullet" for killing spartina. Along with glyphosate, imazapyr-based herbicides reduced spartina by thousands of acres in Willapa Bay each year from 2004 to 2008. Phillips and his colleagues say it's the largest aquatic eradication on record and a model for similar projects on the West Coast.

Cohen and Starvrum believe glyphosate and imazapyr make for toxic oysters and a polluted bay, but state officials say both chemicals have undergone rigorous testing and are relatively safe.

When it comes to pesticides, only one thing is ever certain: the companies that produce them and regulators that approve them will say they are safe when used correctly, and critics will point to crucial data gaps and independent research to prove these authorities wrong.

Glyphosate is the poster child for the global pesticide controversy due to its place in the ongoing debate over mega-farming and genetically engineered crops. Industry scientists say it's one of the safest herbicides in the world, while independent scientists have discovered potential links among the widespread use of glyphosate-based herbicides and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, birth defects and even attention deficit disorder. Research also shows that additives like surfactants in glyphosate in herbicides like Roundup are more toxic than glyphosate itself and can increase the toxicity of glyphosate.

Imazapyr lacks the notoriety of glyphosate, and little independent testing has been done on the weed killer, but it deserves a hard look considering thousands of gallons of imazapyr-based solution was sprayed across Willapa Bay during the past decade. Imazapyr is a salt that kills plants by inhibiting amino acid synthesis needed for DNA and cell growth. The EPA assessments show the chemical has low toxicity levels when it comes to animals and humans. A long look at EPA documents, however, reveals that regulators used data from tests on freshwater species to assume that imazapyr would be just as safe in saltwater areas like Willapa Bay. In other words, no testing was done on the long-term effects imazapyr could have on saltwater fish and the tiny organisms that form the based of the marine food chain. Nowhere in the assessments by the EPA is data on the toxicity of imazapyr when mixed with the other chemicals like additives or glyphosate in herbicide formulas used in the field. The EPA, however, told Truthout that the assessment is sound and no data gaps exist.

Washington State's own risk assessment for the spartina project admits that little is known about imazapyr's long-term effects on organisms that make up the foundation of the food chain, such as invertebrates and phytoplankton, and there is no data on how long imazapyr stays active within dead spartina. The report concludes that the toxicity of imazapyr is so low that these data gaps are not of concern.

Cynthia Lopez says there are too many holes in this story. Lopez is a former Washington Health Department official, who chaired an interagency committee on pesticides and public health until the program was slashed in 2009 due to state budget cuts. She reviewed the EPA's assessment of imazapyr and concluded that more testing should have been done before allowing massive sprays in Willapa Bay. "[Imazapyr] is dangerous in that the effects are unknown," Lopez says in an interview. "There really hasn't been any long term investigation into the safety of this product." Lopez points out that, when imazapyr was first registered, it was restricted from use near water and very little new data was used to justify its use in aquatic areas. "We have this ongoing experiment going on ... and is this the way to do it?" Lopez asks.

Kim Patten could be one of the only researchers who has studied imazapyr's effects on marine habitats and, more specifically, Willapa Bay. Patten, a researcher with Washington State University, has worked for two decades to eradicate spartina from the bay. His studies on glyphosate and imazapyr created the scientific basis for the chemical eradication. Patten also helped establish a coalition of public and private groups to support the eradication, including the Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA), US Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy.

Standing on the grassy banks just a few miles down the road from Cohen's property, Patten points out over 400 acres of shallow water and bare mudflats that make up the southern tip of Willapa Bay. Most of the area is part of a national wildlife refuge and, before the eradication, it was covered with spartina. Now, only a few small flags stuck in the mud mark tiny clusters of spartina sprouts that will be killed this summer before they grow big enough to spread their seeds in the wind.

Migratory birds land on the mudflats and dig up little invertebrates to eat. It's like a rest stop and buffet for sand pipers and ducks, heading north or south depending on the season. Patten explains that spartina had changed all that, converting the mudflats to meadows that were of no interest to the birds. Patten says spartina had simply coexisted with native species until the 1990s, when, for unknown reasons, the spartina population reached a "critical mass" and more than quadrupled from 2,200 acres to nearly 10,000. Patten says the infestation was poised to decimate the wildlife refuge and local oyster industry. Looking out over the bare mudflats and tidal streams, it's easy to imagine that watching a vast spartina meadow come and go was simply dramatic.

Cohen and Starvrum affectionately call Patten "Chemical Kim," but he doesn't seem like a chemical industry lackey and gives straight answers about the herbicides and the pros and cons of eradiation. Patten says he and other researchers spent $5 million exploring alternatives to herbicides: drilling the mudflats with expensive machines, covering the spartina with large mats to block the sunlight and even pulling it up by hand. All of these techniques proved too expensive and ecologically intrusive and it was decided that herbicides were the best bet. "It was basically a matter of dollars and cents," Patten says.

"Nothing is benign in the world," Patten admits. "You're using significant amount of chemical over large areas, so you're going to have an effect, not necessarily directly from the chemical itself, but by killing massive amounts of spartina your having a big effect on the whole ecology of the area because you're changing it, you're changing to back what it was before."

Patten admits that spraying herbicides across a wildlife refuge is not ideal, but in the end, conservationists must make a judgment call. "The cure is worse than the poison, in some cases, some of the things they use to control invasive species have been worse than the species themselves," Patten says. "But I think overall, you have to look at the health of the whole ecosystem." If spartina was ignored, Patten says, it would have permanently changed the wildlife refuge and the social demographics of the whole peninsula, where the economy is based on tourism and oysters. "How do you weigh one person's opinion versus these bigger things?" Patten asks in a veiled reference to Cohen. "We spent ten years doing that, it was well vetted, I can't tell you how many public meetings, how many times we went over this issue."

Patten says it's been a "spiritual experience" watching the birds come back to the mudflats, but he has some surprising things to say about the motivations driving others in the anti-spartina coalition. Patten says that, since the 1990s, federal and state legislatures just threw money at the spartina problem and the funding paid for sluggish bureaucracy between state agencies and conservation groups. As the eradication winds down, Patton is finding it difficult to squeeze support out of an inefficient system. "It's a bureaucracy, people don't create it to make money, but they don't want to give it up."

Think Monsanto

At a recent environmental law conference in Eugene, Oregon, conservation biologist and author David Theodoropoulos begins his talk on invasive species with the name of the world's most notorious biotech company looming on the overhead screen. "Every time you hear the term 'invasive species,' think Monsanto," Theodoropoulos says. His audience laughs.

Theodoropoulos says the idea that a wild plant or animal can be invasive is a myth. Species have moved, adapted and changed in different ecosystems for millions of years. "Change and movement are natural," Theodoropoulos says during hispresentation, which was sponsored by Fritzi Cohen's latest activist group, the Fearless Fund. "Forests ebb and flow across the landscape and they continually change in content, from oaks, to conifers to beach to birch and so on."

Theodoropoulos' position is not a popular one. Most ecologists are alarmed when a non-native species is accidentally introduced to a new area and begins to spread rapidly. What attracts many environmentalists to the war on invasive species is the goal of preserving native or endangered ones, never mind that invasive weeds and pests are said to cost big industries billions of dollars every year. According to conservationists like Theodoropoulos, however, misleading science and persistent propaganda has exacerbated this concern for native species.

Theodoropoulos can rattle of names of so-called invasive species that he believes have been wrongly demonized by the herbicide and regulatory industry. The zebra mussel, for example, caused a scare a decade ago when it was introduced to Lake Erie in ballast water from ships. The mussel was deemed invasive and said to be taking over, but over the years, it spread and filtered out pollution in the notoriously dirty Rust Belt lake and game fish populations actually increased in its presence. Giant piles of zebra mussel shells used to wash up on Lake Erie shores, but over the years, the piles disappeared and lake was noticeably cleaner.

Recent research by Dov Sax, an assistant professor at Brown University, has shown that little is actually known about how invasive species change ecosystems because their impact is often coupled with other disruptions caused by human activity, and some so-called "invaders" can be beneficial to ecosystems. The time scale is also critical: invasions have occurred for millions of years as the face of the planet has changed, and the idea that a species can be "native" or "alien" is the result of a short-term and human view of ecosystems.

The rhetoric of the invasive species debate has become strangely social. It's alarming to see a new species arrive in an area, and with headlines screaming about the threat of invaders, a certain psychology seems to have been aroused among environmentalists.

"There seems to be something in our biological nature, related toward our xenophobia towards other humans, that colors our view of alien plants and animals," Sax wrote in a 2004 essay on the invasive species war. "There is a tendency to treat foreigners different than natives: with distrust, dislike, even loathing. Coupled with this is a tendency to view some prior condition as 'pristine' or most natural and therefore the state that should be preserved."

Other critics have compared invasive species to illegal immigrants. Theodoropoulos goes as far as crediting Hitler's Nazis with developing the first invasive species control program to purify the German countryside.

Comparing species "nativists" to Nazis and xenophobes has ruffled a lot of feathers in recent years, and those familiar with the debate say emotions are running high. The debate even carries an element of identity politics: some researchers now refer to invasive species as "non-native" or "exotic" to distance the species from the idea that all foreigners are evil invaders.

Environmentalists can disagree on whether species like the zebra mussel or spartina are benign, beneficial or ecosystem destroying invaders, but one thing is clear: the herbicide and land management industries helped design America's war on invasive species.

"Forty years ago, the threats to nature were pollution, pesticides, poisons, bulldozers and chainsaws," Theodoropoulos tells his audience, which includes those on both sides of the debate. "Now we are told that the greatest threats to nature are wild plants and animals and the cure: poisons, bulldozers and chainsaws. Now ask yourself, who does this serve?"

Endless War

While Monsanto was scoping out Willapa Bay as a potential market for Rodeo in the early 1990s, conservation biologist Jono Neiger was busy fighting invasive plants on wildlife preserves near the Sacramento River in California. Neiger was working for The Nature Conservancy, a wealthy conservation group that partners with big companies like Monsanto. "We used a lot of Roundup," Neiger says in an interview, describing all-terrain vehicles with long booms that sprayed glyphosate-based Roundup during off-road rides through the wilderness.

A flowering shrub called scotch broom was Neiger's target, and he was livid when he later found one of his instructors planting the flowering bush, but his instructor explained that scotch broom could be beneficial to some ecosystems by fixing nutrients in the soil. Neiger soon had what he describes as an "ah-ha moment."

"I realized how my work with The Nature Conservancy got me into this mindset of fighting a war," Neiger says. His attitude toward some invasive species changed as he went on to study and teach permaculture, and he realized that he had succumbed to the rhetorical "hysteria" that had clouded the science around invasive species.

Neiger explained that many so-called invasive plants are "pioneer species" that often take to areas where disturbances caused by people have weakened native ecosystems, acting like a natural scar tissue on the wounds caused by development. As long as people continue moving species from one area to another and disturbing wild areas, there will be money to be made combating these so-called invasions. "We have created this massive disruption and the species are simply responding ... and we are scapegoating," Neiger says.

Controlling invasive - or perhaps non-native - species became a billion-dollar industry under the Bush administration, which pumped more than $6 billion into invasive species programs. In 2007, the Bush administration proposed a total of $1.2 billion for invasive species programs, including $222 million on research and $446 million on invasive species control and eradication, according to the National Invasive Species Council (NISC). Agencies like the Department of Defense and the EPA received a total of $227 million for "innovative control technologies." While the Department of Defense was defending America from ecological invaders, only $131 million went to preventing invasions. But why prevent invasions when there is so much money to be made combating them?

Shortly before leaving office, President Clinton created the NISC, which was quickly inherited by the Bush administration. The original NISC included GOP big wigs like Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, who probably had bigger issues than invasive species to worry about back in those days. So, the Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) was created to write reports, map out a national bureaucracy and write policy toward dealing with invasive species. In his controversial book, "Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience," Theodoropoulos points out that Dr. Nelroy Jackson represented Monsanto on ISAC from 2000 to 2006. A closer look reveals that Jackson co-edited some of the council's founding reports.

Jackson, now retired, says he was first recruited by the Clinton administration two years before the NISC and ISAC were created. Monsanto had employed him for years to research herbicides as invasive species control methods. When he was invited to Washington, Jackson saw the opportunity to foster political support for a nationwide movement.

"I realized that we had to get some kind of movement going ... on the federal, state and local level," Jackson says in an interview.

Jackson is an award-winning scientist, who is well known in the weed control industry. He founded the Invasive Species Awareness Week, an annual event held in Washington, and most recently sponsored by the pro-industry Weed Science Society of America and the herbicide division of Dow Chemical.

As a member of ISAC, Jackson joined a myriad of regulatory officials, academics and industry lobbyists. Taylor Industries, one the largest shellfish and oyster producers in Willapa Bay, had a representative on ISAC from 2002 to 2008 during the height of the spartina eradication. BASF, the company that petitioned to have imazapyr registered for aquatic use, was represented on the council from 2006 to 2008.

"Glyphosate and imazapyr are two of the, I can't say safest, but best tools available," Jackson says.

Since the inception of ISAC, The Nature Conservancy has also had a representative on the advisory council and has played a leading role in establishing large invasive species eradications across the country. The Nature Conservancy is the richest land-owning conservation group on the planet and partners with some of the world's biggest polluters. The Conservancy's International Leadership Council includes Monsanto, BP, Dow Chemical, American Electric Power, Exxon-Mobile, and the list goes on. Before becoming The Conservancy's president and CEO, Mark Tercek worked for Goldman Sachs, where he developed "market-based solutions for environmental challenges," according to The Conservancy web site.

The Conservancy is known for promoting phrases like "alien invaders" and "war on invasive species" in thrilling headlines in the media, and the organization recently congratulated Mexico for starting its own war that mirrors America's efforts.

"I think [The Conservancy] is a well-meaning organization ... but on this issue, there is a lot of people going down the wrong track," Neiger says. "When the thinking is that we need to wage war, then you start thinking that we'll do whatever it takes ... and ethics go out the window."

The Conservancy has also played in integral role in the eradication of spartina in Willapa Bay. The organization has since helped secure state and federal funding to the project, coordinated with eradication groups on the ground and sent out workers to spray glyphosate and imazapyr.

"I think it's a friggin big joke that they have these conservation groups on board to buy and sell their chemicals," Neiger says. "I was there. We bought giant barrels of Roundup. To me, it's the same old story."

For many environmentalists, big biotech companies like BASF and Monsanto are the bad guys, and conservationists like Theodoropoulos hope that revealing their role in developing invasive species policy will change some minds about invasive biology. But corporations are more than faceless monoliths; they are large groups of individuals, many of whom say they are doing the right thing.

"I've personally been called all kinds of names," Dr. Jackson says with a laugh when asked about critics of Monsanto and herbicides. "All of us who are working in industry are also people. If we are human beings, why would any one of us develop something that could hurt our children or grandchildren?"

Cohen and Starvrum believe the Dr. Jacksons and the Chemical Kims of the world are definitively the bad guys, bent on doing whatever it takes to make money and dominate the natural world. Patten and Jackson say they simply made tough decisions when trying to do what's best for society and the environment.

The war on invasive species is a war on a fact of life. Humans have caused or exacerbated these species "invasions" by changing habitats and introducing species to new areas, and now we are trying to turn back the clock in an attempt to prevent nature from taking its new course. As long as people attempt to dominate the land, extract its resources and shape it to their liking, there will be money to be made and dramatic consequences for other livings things. The search for a balance between supporting our collective desire to prosper and a healthy natural world is sure to spark more heated debates for years to come.

Back on the banks of Willapa Bay, Starvrum's expression is grim, but determined, as he looks across the mudflats where he used to harvest oysters. "One day I'll get out there again," he says. Cohen and Starvrum are still fighting against what is left of the spartina eradication. They hope to establish a bigger buffer zone between their oyster farm and any upcoming herbicide sprays, and Cohen is currently suing the state over the loss of their oyster farm.

Spartina itself could be the biggest loser in this eco-war, but the grass deserves some credit. Washington is facing a budget crisis and funding for the eradication is drying up. A short stroll down the beach near the northern tip of the Long Beach peninsula, where Willapa Bay meets the roaring Pacific, bears a testament to spartina's resilience. Shorebirds gather there, on the soft mudflats, to rest their wings and grab a bite to eat. Patten's marker flags are nowhere to be seen. The hungry birds wander between patches of familiar green stubble, little spartina sprouts poking out of the muck to greet the warm spring sun.

This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Beware, when anybody wants  "A war on anything, especially nature, wildlife, ...!!!   I have had about a full "gut full of them in my lifetime... and a gut full of propaganda associated with these so called wars...   Monte

Why Monsanto Always Wins | Truthout

The USDA recently approved Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa. Government regulators openly rely on data and research provided by the biotech industry when approving GE technology. (Photo:tipsycat

The recent approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa is one of most divisive controversies in American agriculture, but in 2003, it was simply the topic at hand in a string of emails between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Monsanto. In the emails, federal regulators and Monsanto officials shared edits to a list of the USDA's questions about Monsanto's original petition to fully legalize the alfalfa. Later emails show a USDA regulator accepted Monsanto's help with drafting the initial environmental assessment (EA) of the alfalfa and planned to "cut and paste" parts of Monsanto's revised petitionright into the government's assessment.

The emails were uncovered during a lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and concerned farmers that challenged the USDA's decision to approve Roundup Ready alfalfa in 2005. The CFS views the emails as prime evidence of "collusion" between the biotech industry and public officials charged with regulating genetically engineered (GE) crops. It's unclear if such internal cooperation continues under the current administration, but regulators still openly rely on data and research provided by the biotech industry when approving GE technology.

? It's unclear if such internal cooperation continues under the current administration, but regulators still openly rely on data and research provided by the biotech industry when approving GE technology.

A federal judge temporarily banned the alfalfa in 2007 as a result of the CFS lawsuit, but last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the USDA could reconsider deregulating the GE alfalfa after completing an environmental impact statement (EIS). The USDA fully deregulated the alfalfa on January 27, 2011.

Like the GE corn and soybeans that now dominate agribusiness, Roundup Ready alfalfa is genetically engineered to tolerate glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup. Farmers can plant Roundup Ready crops and blanket their fields with the herbicide knowing that weeds will be killed and the Roundup Ready crops will be spared.

Back in 2003, USDA officials were concerned about "deficiencies" in Monsanto's original petition to deregulate the GE alfalfa seeds, so they drafted a letter with about 90 questions for Monsanto. In several emails, officials working with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) asked Monsanto officials to comment and "suggest improvements" on at least three drafts of the "deficiency letter." Monsanto was happy to redraft the letter point by point.

Monsanto withdrew its original petition in February 2004 after two undocumented conference calls with APHIS personnel. One month before the final petition was submitted in April, Monsanto regulatory officer Glen Rogan sent two emails to APHIS petition reviewer Virgil Meier indicating that Monsanto was willing to help draft the USDA's EA of Roundup Ready alfalfa. APHIS conducts EA's to assess the potential environmental impacts of proposed agricultural products.

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Rogan asked Meier to consult his boss and colleagues about the possibility of Monsanto assisting in the assessment because it would be "precedent setting." Meier, who was in charge of writing the EA, accepted Monsanto's help and said he would "cut and paste" information right from petition into the EA:

If you are willing to provide assistance with the EA, I would appreciate it. At this time, no one has voiced concern with this so I am assuming that there is no problem. In a related matter, because I am supposed to write the EA, I would appreciate receiving an electronic copy of the petition (Word?) so I can do cut and paste which I think will speed up the completion of the EA.

Bill Freese, a policy analyst with CFS, said this kind of cooperation between federal regulators and the biotech industry is unacceptable. "It should go without saying that an applicant should play no role in APHIS's regulatory review of an applicant's product, beyond supplying requested information," Freese wrote in a 2009 letter to the USDA. The USDA did not respond to Freese's letter, but a spokesperson told Truthout that the USDA works closely with industry petitioners and can include some information from a petition in the EA.

Freese told Truthout that the approval process for controversial GE crops like Roundup Ready alfalfa is basically a "sham" designed to increase consumer confidence in the controversial GE crops. Freese has been fighting the battle against biotech for years, and he can't remember a single case when regulators failed to eventually grant approval of a GE crop.

Sham or not, the final EIS that led to the final approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa is a massive document that dives deep into the scientific debates over GE crops. Opponents argue that Roundup Ready alfalfa will threaten organic crops with herbicide drifts, increase the presence of an already growing list of herbicide-resistant weeds and inevitably contaminate conventional and organic alfalfa with transgenes through cross-pollination. The EIS contains evidence of these risks, but the USDA considers them inherent to modern agriculture and ruled that Roundup Ready alfalfa poses no more "plant pest risks" than conventional or organic alfalfa varieties.

The humble alfalfa crop provides more to Americans than crunchy sprouts for salads and sandwiches. Farmers plant millions of acres of alfalfa to produce forage seed and hay to feed cows and other livestock. The ever-growing organic dairy industry, for example, depends on naturally grown alfalfa products to feed its livestock, and in turn, the millions of Americans who eat organic food. The possibility that Roundup Ready alfalfa could cross-pollinate and infect non-GE organic alfalfa is a key issue for organic farmers. If the Roundup Ready transgene spreads to non-GE alfalfa - which critics like Freese claim is inevitable - then the industry may have to change the standards for determining what can be labeled "organic" and "natural," and the growing organic food industry could face millions of dollars in losses if their alfalfa is contaminated with Monsanto transgenes.

The USDA claims that the probability of gene flow between GE and non-GE alfalfa is very low, but the EIS does document several instances of transgenic contamination. About 200,000 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa in 48 states were planted and harvested in 2005 and 2006 before the CFS lawsuit forced a ban. During this time, two alfalfa seed production firms, Dairyland and Cal/West Seeds, reported transgenic contamination in non-GE alfalfa seeds in California, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Dairyland reported contamination rates hovering around 1 percent, but in 2009, Cal/West reported that 12 percent of more than 200 alfalfa seed lots were contaminated with transgenes, and in 2008, all six of the firm's research lots tested positive for GE contamination. Preliminary data from 2009 showed that 30 percent of seed stock lots were contaminated.

Forage Genetics International, the company that developed Roundup Ready alfalfa for Monsanto, provides the largest data set on cross-contamination in the USDA's final EIS. A report conducted by Forage Genetics on the "best practices" established by the industry for growing Roundup Ready alfalfa found cross-contamination rates between 0 and .18 percent. Critics like Freese say data provided by the industry doesn't belong in the USDA's assessments, but the USDA claims the data shows "acceptable" rates of transgenic contamination.

Freese and the CFS are not the only advocates concerned about the economic impacts of cross-contamination. In June 2010, 55 members of Congress joined Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in sending a letter to the USDA requesting the department decide against deregulating Roundup Ready alfalfa. Citing alfalfa seed markets in countries that have banned GE seeds and data provided by Dairyland and Cal/West Seeds, Leahy and his supporters claim the US could lose $197 million annually in alfalfa seed and forage exports as a result of GE contamination of organic and conventional seeds.

The letter also questions the need for Roundup Ready alfalfa when only 7 percent of alfalfa hay is currently treated with herbicides. Freese said alfalfa is often treated with chemicals sprayed by airplanes, and the CFS is concerned that aerial sprays of Roundup could drift onto conventional and organic alfalfa plots and damage crops that are not resistant to Roundup. According to some estimates, Roundup Ready alfalfa could increase herbicide use by up to 23 million pounds per year.

The increased reliance on glyphosate-based herbicides like Roundup has caused weeds to develop their own tolerance to the chemical. Herbicide-resistant weeds, sometimes called "superweeds," now infest millions of acres of cropland. Farmers now combat the weeds with cocktails of herbicides like 2,4 D - an ingredient in Agent Orange - that are know to be more toxic than glyphosate. In all, farmers have used at least 318 million more pounds of herbicides and pesticides in the past 13 years as a result of planting GE crop seeds like Roundup Ready corn and soy.

The USDA, however, concluded that new glyphosate-resistant weeds would be slow to develop in Roundup Ready alfalfa stands.

Freese said the USDA chose to ignore important data in favor of outdated research and information provided by firms with close connections to the biotech industry. "APHIS cites studies on herbicide use with Roundup Ready crops that were done in the late 1990s," Freese said. "That was before any glyphosate-resistant weeds had evolved, and so before the time when their emergence began driving the big increase in herbicide use we've been seeing since 2001."

Freese said that, like the data provided on cross-contamination provided by Forage Genetics, the USDA relies on data from industry-funded groups like the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy (NCFAP) and PG Economics.

The biotech industry plays hardball in Congress as well. One week before Roundup Ready alfalfa was deregulated, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the House Committee on Agriculture, where Chairmen Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) led a charge to press the USDA to fully deregulate the alfalfa. A political action committee and individuals associated with Monsanto donated $11,000 to Lucas' campaign last year, and Lucas has received $1,247,844 from the agribusiness industry during his political career, according to watchdog sitewww.opensecrets.org. Since 1999, the top 50 companies holding agricultural or food patents have spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts, according to areport released last year.

The USDA does invite the American public to weigh in on controversial issues like GE crops, and the CFS reports that, last spring, 200,000 people submitted letters "highly critical" of the department's draft conclusions on Roundup Ready alfalfa. "Clearly the USDA was not listening to the public or farmers but rather to just a handful of corporations," CFS Director Anthony Kimbrell said after Roundup Ready alfalfa was fully legalized. The public comments may have fallen on deaf ears, or perhaps they were just drowned out by the booming voice of a biotech industry that refuses to take no for an answer.


Jean-Louis Arcand, Enrico Berkes and Ugo Panizza asked a very important question in a piece at Vox yesterday – has finance gone too far? I’ve made my position rather clear over the years. I believe the inaccurate financial theories of the 60′s & 70′s created a world where markets were believed to be self regulating. Within that world we felt that it was right to tear down any and all barriers holding the banks back from increasing profits. This phenomenon was furthered by the actions of the Federal Reserve whose only true role in the economy is to help stabilize and strengthen the banking system. The Fed’s role became increasingly important as these unregulated entities became increasingly less stable and needed increased aid and stabilization. But ultimately, the growth of this industry helped to undermine the growth of the real economy by reaping an undeserved percentage of corporate profits largely at the expense of the American middle class.

This industry, though vital, is not the engine of capitalism. Instead of an engine of real growth, we have a massively financialized economy where everything from a person’s home to retirement accounts to commodities are seen as a tool that can generate profits for these banks. The result is an economy that is largely dependent on an industry that produces little while also hoping their bankrupt clients can continue their much needed consumption. Hyman Minsky called it money manager capitalism. I think “cannibalistic capitalism” is more appropriate.

But I digress. Arcand, Berkes and Panizza found that my inane ramblings above might not be so inane after all: “In a new paper (Arcand et al. 2011), we contribute to the literature on financial development and economic growth in three distinct ways.
First, we build a simple model finding that, even in the presence of credit rationing, the expectation of a bailout may lead to a financial sector that is too large with respect to the social optimum.
Second, we use different datasets (both at the country and industry-level) and empirical approaches (including semi-parametric estimations) to show that there can indeed be “too much” finance.

Our results show that the marginal effect of financial development on output growth becomes negative when credit to the private sector surpasses 110% of GDP. This result is surprisingly consistent across different types of estimators (simple regressions and semi-parametric estimations) and data (country-level and industry-level). The threshold at which we find that financial development starts having a negative effect on growth is similar to the threshold at which Easterly et al. 2000 find that financial development starts increasing volatility. This finding is consistent with the literature on the relationship between volatility and growth (Ramey and Ramey 1995) and that on the persistence of negative output shocks (Cerra and Saxena 2008).
Third, we discuss how our results relate to the current crisis and show that all the advanced economies that are now facing serious problems are located above our “too much” finance threshold.

We also run a battery of tests showing that the size of the financial sector played an important role in amplifying the effects of the global recession that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. While most of the recent discussion on the negative effects of financial development concentrates on the advanced economies, we show that during the recent crisis the amplifying role of the financial sector was also important for developing countries.”

…There are two possible reasons why large financial systems may have a negative effect on economic growth. The first has to do with economic volatility and the increased probability of large economic crashes (Minsky, 1974, and Kindleberger, 1978) and the second relates to the potential misallocation of resources, even in good times (Tobin, 1984).

…We believe that our results have potentially important implications for financial regulation. The financial industry has argued that the Basel III capital requirements will have a negative effect on bank profits and lead to a contraction of lending with large negative consequences on future GDP growth (Institute for International Finance, 2010). While it is far from certain that higher capital ratios will reduce profitability (Admati et al., 2010), our analysis suggests that there are several countries for which tighter credit standards would actually be desirable.”

Unfortunately, we have an army of lobbyists in Washington who have succeeded in making sure that these institutions are not reined in. This crisis was the market screaming at us to contain and control the instability these institutions have caused. Instead, the banks have grown larger, the Fed more powerful and the US economy weaker.

Capitalism has a funny way of imposing its will on the weak. When it is allowed to work it is a system that is harsh, swift, efficient and just. We were unwise to turn a deaf ear to the market during the last downturn. And because of that we can be certain that this imbalance will continue to grow and generate instability within the US economy. Except next time this industry turns a recession into a near depression I hope the politicians will be smart enough to listen to the market and do what’s actually in the best interest of the American people.


I agree with final conclusion (paragraph)... What do you think? ... Monte

Why the Human Brain Can't Multitask

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/conference/ideas_economy_information Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explains why the human brain struggles to process information that is presented "with the intensity and the quantity and the speed we find ourselves surrounded by today." Revising the 1956 psychology paper, "The Magical Number Seven," Carr explains that our working memory - everything comprising the consciousness at a given moment - can only hold between two and four items at a time. The Ideas Economy: Information is a fresh look at knowledge management for the information age. The Economist will bring together theorists, strategists, and innovators who understand how to harness data to create value and advance individual, corporate, and social good. To view the full version of any video featured in this playlist, visit:http://fora.tv/conference/ideas_economy_information A former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, Nicholas Carr writes and speaks on technology, business, and culture. A prolific and nimble thought leader, Mr Carr has written more than a dozen articles and interviews for Harvard Business Review and writes regularly for the Financial Times, Strategy and Business, and The Guardian. Nick's newest book, The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, examines the intellectual and social consequences of the Internet. It has received unprecedented international acclaim and has been reviewed in all major news publications. Mr Carr has served as a commentator on CNBC, CNN, and other networks and has been a featured speaker worldwide at industry, educational, and government forums. In Spring 2008 CIO Insight named Carr's Does IT Matter?, one of the all-time "Top 15 Most Groundbreaking Management Books" and Ziff Davis included him as one of only a handful of IT management thought leaders on their "100 Most Influential People in IT" list.

FOCUS BRAIN...!!! Monte

Jun 17, 2011

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Show Me 100

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series 19th Annual Rockstar Show Me 100 from The Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. Airs on CBS Sports Spectacular on Sunday, June 19th at 5pm est and 2pm pst. Don't miss any of the action!!!

Jun 16, 2011

The Truth About the Economy

Aquaponics Greenhouse Tour

This is a Harbor Freight 10x12 greenhouse that is used for an aquaponics system. It's not as big as my regular garden, but I can start it 2 months earlier! Thanks for viewing!

For more info: http://web4deb.blogspot.com http://www.BigelowBrook.com http://www.Facebook.com/BigelowBrook

Amazing amount of use of a 10x12 greenhouse... Monte

Jun 15, 2011

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Introduces a Framework and Map to Improve the Health of America’s Watersheds | Forest Business Network

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the release of a new map that characterizes the health and condition of National Forest System lands in more than 15,000 watersheds across the country. The U.S. Forest Service’s Watershed Condition Classification Map is the first step in the agency’s Watershed Condition Framework, and is the agency’s first national assessment across all 193 million acres of National Forest lands. Vilsack made the announcement at a USDA event in Washington highlighting the United Nation’s International Year of Forests.

“Clean, healthy forests are vital to our efforts to protect America’s fresh water supply,” said Vilsack. “Our nation’s economic health, and the health of our citizens, depends on abundant, clean and reliable sources of freshwater. The Watershed Condition Framework and map will help provide economic and environmental benefits to residents of rural communities.”

The map establishes a baseline that will be used to establish priorities for watershed restoration and maintenance. The national Watershed Condition Framework establishes a consistent, comparable, and credible process for characterizing, prioritizing, improving, and tracking the health of watersheds on national forests and grasslands. The Framework also builds added accountability and transparency into the Integrated Resource Restoration program which is included in President Obama’s budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

The Framework uses three watershed condition classifications:
Class 1 watersheds are considered healthy.
Class 2 watersheds are relatively healthy, but may require restoration work.
Class 3 watersheds are those that are impaired, degraded or damaged.

Additional benefits to the Framework are the opportunities it provides to current and future partners in watershed restoration and maintenance. It also increases the public’s awareness of their local watershed conditions and the role they can play in improving them. The Forest Service expects that as the map gains more widespread use, it will promote the department’s “all-lands” approach to managing the nation’s forest and landscapes.

“Watershed restoration is not new to the Forest Service, but we now have new capabilities to assess and prioritize where resources are most needed,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “For the first time, we are laying out a process to allow data from local assessments to be collected, analyzed and evaluated to better understand existing conditions and the specific needs for restoration and maintenance at the national level.”

The Forest Service, as custodian of national forests and grasslands—which contain nearly 400,000 miles of streams, 3 million acres of lakes, and many aquifer systems—provides drinking water for more U.S. residents than any other entity. The Forest Service manages habitat for more than 550 rare, threatened, and endangered aquatic species and provides water-related recreation to more than 130 million visitors each year. U.S. lakes and streams provide drinking water for one in five Americans.

The Framework integrates well with both the proposed Land Management Planning Rule and the agency’s Climate Change Scorecard. All three efforts require working with the public and partners to assess, monitor, maintain and restore the health of forests and watersheds. The Framework assists by providing key data that will help to prioritize resources.

The Forest Service expects to have national and regional Watershed Condition Classification maps posted electronically on an agency Web site early next week, with an interactive mapping tool available by the end of the month, according to agency officials.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

Read the Watershed Condition Framework (opens PDF)

Watershed Condition Classification Maps - http://www.fs.fed.us/publications/watershed/

The Watershed Condition Classification Maps characterize the health and condition of National Forest System lands in the more than 15,000 watersheds across the country. These maps are the culmination of the first step in the agency’s Watershed Condition Framework, instituted last year, and is the baseline condition that will be used along with information on ecological, social and economic factors and partnership opportunities to establish watershed restoration priorities.
National Map (6.74mb | PDF)
Region 1 (3.86mb | PDF) - Montana, Northern Idaho, North Dakota, Northwestern South Dakota and Northeast Washington.
Region 2 (3.43mb | PDF) - Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and most of Wyoming and South Dakota.
Region 3 (4.68mb | PDF) - New Mexico and Arizona.
Region 4 (5.81mb | PDF) - Southern Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Western Wyoming.
Region 5 (5.36mb | PDF) - California.
Region 6 (5.86mb | PDF) - Washington and Oregon.
Region 8 (3.20mb | PDF) - Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Puerto Rico.
Region 9 (3.07mb | PDF) - Maine, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Jersey.
Region 10 (3.71mb | PDF) - Alaska.

Important sustainability work being accomplished by government employees...!!! Monte

"This Is The Most GUTLESS Institution!" Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur

My total respect for Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur for calling a spade... a spade...! Monte

Jun 14, 2011

Up and Down in Moxos: New data about Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE).

The Journal of Archaeological Science has just published a new study on ADE. The study, of Birk et al. is entitled: “Faeces deposition on Amazonian Anthrosols as assessed from 5b-stanols”. I have just read it and this is my very first impression:

The new data are extremely interesting. The authors look at the presence of coprostanol (a marker for faeces) in Amazonian Dark Earth (ADE). They have found a clear change in the index used to asses different sources of stanols, when comparing samples from the topmost 10 cm with samples coming from a depth of 30-40 cm. It seems that litter degradation is responsible for this change. Moreover, it also seems that the normal indexes used to assess the human origin of the stanols do not work very well in Amazonia. This paper is going to be a valuable reference to similar studies performed in Amazonia in the future.
However, while Birk et al. correctly notice that one of the most debated topics about ADE is its origin, they do not do very much to assess why the faeces were there and what is their meaning from an archaeological point of view. ADE is found in two different forms, terra preta and terra mulata. Terra preta is darker, contains more organic matter, P and charcoal and also contains lots of fragments of ceramic. Terra mulata is like a light version of terra preta, it contains more nutrients and charcoal compared with “natural” soils from the surroundings, but less compared to terra preta. Moreover, in the terra mulata sites there is no pottery. Terra preta is found in small patches of about 1 hectare and terra mulata if found surrounding the terra preta sites. Terra mulata can cover as much as 200 hectares. An interpretation could be that terra preta resulted from settlements while terra mulata resulted from agriculture. If this thesis was correct, the high fertility of terra preta would be a side effect of human waste disposal and not the intentional result of land fertilization. In the case of terra mulata, if we assume it has been produced by agricultural use, fertilization must have been intentional. In this case, it would have been very important to see if there is any coprostanol in terra mulata! But the study did not look at terra mulata. Many scholars talk about ADE as synonymous of terra preta, without making a distinction with terra mulata, despite the fact that the differences between the two are key to understanding the past of Amazonia (estimating past population density, the region’s carrying capacity, the levels of social complexity achieved, pre-Columbian settlement patterns, the extent of the human impact on pre-Columbian forest etc.)

Birk et al. only compared samples from 4 terra preta sites with samples from natural soils. I think they missed a great occasion. If they had also looked at 4 samples from terra mulata sites they might have been able to shed new light on the matter. Perhaps they did look at terra mulata and just decided to publish the results in a second paper…keeping us waiting GRRRR J

Birk, J. J., Teixeira, W.G., Neves, E.G., & Glaser, B. (2011). Faeces deposition on Amazonian Anthrosols as assessed from 5β-stanols Journal of Archaeological Science, 38 (6), 1209-1220 :doi:10.1016/j.jas.2010.12.015

Joshua Foer: Using Memory to Prolong Your (Perceived) Life

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2011/03/14/Joshua_Foer_Moonwalking_with_Einstein "Monotony collapses time. Novelty unfolds it," reads Joshua Foer from his book, Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, explaining that creating more worthwhile memories can lengthen our perception of time. On average, people squander 40 days a year compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people, but after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories. At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memories obsolete, Foer's call to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering becomes an urgent quest. - Sixth and I Historic Synagogue Joshua Foer, the author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, is the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura and Sukkah City. He has written for National Geographic, Esquire, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Slate.

CARBON NEUTRAL ENERGY: Pellets and Briquettes

Miscanthus x giganteus (miscanthus) is a tall, woody, perennial, rhizomatous grass, originating from Asia, which has a high rate of growth and is well suited to the production of cellulosic ethanol, as well as clean power generation. It has a range of end-uses including cubes and bails for co-firing coal power plants, large-scale electricity power stations and for home heating in pellet stoves.

Planted in the spring, Miscanthus is a viable and productive crop for over fifteen years. In September, October, the leaves shed, returning nutrients to the soil. The canes are harvested during winter. The plant has a low mineral content that results in higher fuel quality. Annual yield is relatively high: 3 to 6 tons per acre, with low moisture content.

Unlike fossil fuels, the combustion of miscanthus has no carbon footprint, as it produces an amount of CO2 equal to what that which it removes from the atmosphere (when it is growing).


1 tonne of Miscanthus could produce 1.8 MW of Electricity, the equivalent of 0.7t of coal and Miscanthus is a carbon neutral, sustainable energy source, one that grows back every year.

The density of Miscanthus Energy Cubes is approximately 450 -500kg/M³.

Fuel briquettes:

Miscanthus can be processed into fuel briquettes which are perfect for wood burners, open fires and chimneys. These conventional wood fuel logs last up to 3 times longer than logs. We recommend the KOTEB 350-50 Briquette Machine.

Miscanthus can be used to produce heat, CHP or electricity power on a range of scales from large power stations (30 MW+) requiring hundreds of thousands of tonnes of biomass annually, to small-scale systems (on-farm or single building) requiring just a few dozen tonnes during winter months. Turning Miscanthus into Pellets or Briquettes is a very good way to turn it into a manageable Fuel,and easy to transport long distances. Advice on grants for capital expenditure on biomass systems is obtainable from a range of sources listed at the back of this booklet.

Grants to assist in the establishment of this crop have been available from Defra under the Energy Crops Scheme (ECS), part of the England Rural Development Programme (ERDP). A second round of Energy Crops Scheme establishment grants for 2007-2013 has been announced and is expected to open in late summer 2007. A second Bioenergy infrastructure Structure Scheme Grant was announced in the 2006 Climate Change Review. The aim of the grant will be to facilitate the development of the supply chain required to harvest, store, process and supply biomass to heat, combined heat and power and electricity end users. Details will be available on the Defra website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/crops/industrial/energy/infrastructure.htm when the scheme becomes live.
Miscanthus Briquette

How to apply sanding sealer (Woodturning Tips and Techniques)

In this woodturning tutorial, learn how to apply sanding sealer to your woodturning projects. We recommend applying a sanding sealer to most woodturnings prior to finishing. A good sanding sealer protects against discoloration caused by finishes, fills the pores of the wood to assure a smooth finish as well as providing a durable base on which to apply the final finish or color.

Jun 12, 2011

Special report: How pass interference, a jawbreaker and tossed apples nearly canned the Iowa-Illinois football rivalry | TheGazette

IOWA CITY — Rocky Ryan was known for his temper.

It was his one distinguishing characteristic that his friends and teammates could all agree upon. So late afternoon Nov. 8, 1952 at then-called Iowa Stadium, it was no surprise that Ryan connected on the punch heard ‘round the Big Ten world.

“He was a guy who had a hair-trigger temper, and it didn’t take much to get him excited,” said 1952 Illinois student manager Charlie Finn said.

Richard Wolfe had impeccable manners and an honest temper when it came to competition as a youth. As a 19-year-old University of Iowa sophomore in 1952, he loved sports and regularly attended Hawkeye football games. But one afternoon, the recklessness that can swallow the best and brightest of America’s college students, sent Wolfe from the stands to the sidelines, face to face with one of Illinois’ meanest football players.

“I guess he said something and got hit,” said Wolfe’s older sister, Lois Schau. “It was one of those things that happened.”

The split-second incident involving Ryan and Wolfe swirled at the epicenter of conflict and commotion that day. It involved questionable officiating, a record-breaking passing performance, unsportsmanlike conduct and a thunderous right-hand punch. The game and the ensuing chaos forever changed a border rivalry between Iowa and Illinois’ football programs. The residue lingers to this very day.

“It was like a riot,” Finn said. “It was very, very ugly. An unseemly incident, one of the worst in the history of Big Ten sports.”


Iowa, which entered the Illinois game 1-5, had struggled for most of the 1952 season under first-year Coach Forest Evashevski. Then, on Oct. 25, the winless Hawkeyes posted their most impressive win since the Nile Kinnick era, shocking Coach Woody Hayes and top-ranked Ohio State 8-0 in Iowa City. It was the first win at Iowa for Evashevski, a future Hall of Fame coach. It also gained some measure of revenge after the Buckeyes whipped Iowa by a combined score of 130-35 the previous two seasons.

Iowa football coach Forest Evashevski is arried off the field after the Hawkeyes beat Ohio State 8-0 in 1952. Ohio State was ranked No. 1 and it was Evashevski's first win as Hawkeye coach. Iowa was 0-4 at the time. (Photo courtesy of Bill Quinby)

The victory enhanced Evashevski’s reputation. Most Big Ten players knew about his prowess as a Michigan athlete 15 years earlier, but his tactics for the Ohio State victory were called into question by Illinois’ players and coaches.

“It was said (Evashevski) sprinkled the field with water to make it a mud hole against Ohio State,” Illinois quarterback Tommy O’Connell said. “So we expected a mud hole.”

Instead, a beautiful mid-fall day awaited the Fighting Illini, who entered the Nov. 8 game 3-3. The afternoon temperature was 56 degrees with a slight northwest wind. The conditions were perfect for Illinois’ specialty, which was throwing the football.

“We knew could throw on them,” O’Connell said. “The year before, I threw three touchdown passes against them at Illinois at our homecoming. I knew I could throw on them; we went up there specifically to throw.”

O’Connell had a stellar season in 1952 and obliterated the Illinois record book. His 133 completions and 1,761 passing yards were Illini records that stood until 1980. He later played pro football for five seasons and quarterbacked the Cleveland Browns to the NFL title game in 1957.

O’Connell had the confidence of then-Illinois Coach Ray Elliot, who let his quarterback call audibles at will.

“Elliot used to let me change the plays at the line of scrimmage, and I changed a lot of them,” O’Connell said. “We had about eight passes that I could call at the line of scrimmage and when they gave me a certain defense, I just called those passes.”

With O’Connell’s skills and a pair of top wideouts, the Fighting Illini took advantage of Iowa’s defense from the start. O’Connell led the Illini to four first-half touchdown drives, including three in the second quarter. By halftime he had completed 14 of 23 passes for 166 yards and 11 passing first downs. Iowa, conversely, failed to complete any of its six first-half passes. Illinois built a 27-0 halftime lead and seemed ready to put the game on cruise control.

The game got worse for Iowa. O’Connell hit offensive end Rex Smith on a 67-yard touchdown strike just 1:24 into the second half, bumping the score to 33-0. Early in the fourth quarter, O’Connell went to the bench compiling Big Ten records for completions (22), attempts (34) and yards (306). Smith’s 190 receiving yards also set a league mark.

“It was quite easy, quite truthfully,” O’Connell said.


But as smooth as the game was for O’Connell, it was rough for everybody else. The teams combined for 17 penalties, costing them 126 yards. Iowa’s Phil Hayman and Illinois’ Paul Luhrsen and Pete Palmer were thrown out for fighting. There were late hits and punches thrown throughout the game.
Former Illinois quarterback Tommy O'Connell set Big Ten records for passing yards (306), completions (22) and attempts (34) in a 33-13 win against Iowa on Nov. 8, 1952, (Photo courtesy of University of Illinois)

By the fourth quarter, Evashevski had enough of the game — and the officials. Iowa was whistled for 10 penalties costing the Hawkeyes 81 yards. With about five minutes left and Iowa trailing 33-13, a bizarre and delayed pass interference call against Iowa wide receiver Binkey Broeder sent Evashevski to the field for an explanation. The officiating crew ignored Evashevski and placed the ball at Iowa’s 6-yard line. Evashevski stayed on the field.

“Evy lost his cool kind of on the sideline,” said Iowa football student manager Bill Quinby, who lives in Cedar Rapids and spent decades officiating Big Ten and NFL games. “He actually went out on the field, oh, probably 10 yards, maybe out to the numbers. He was kind of protesting, and they got him. The officiating crew got him for 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.”

The ball was placed at Iowa’s 1-yard line, and the Hawkeyes punted, thus ending any chance of an Iowa comeback.

The Gazette Sports Editor Gus Schrader questioned both the penalty and Evashevski’s actions in his following day’s column. “We understand that Evy actually intended only to inquire what the officials had ruled on the offensive pass interference play,” Schrader wrote. “He is too cagey and too cool-headed to rush onto a field to protest.

“But Evy also knows what such an action can do to stir up a crowd against the officials.”

Evashevski’s actions incited the crowd of 44,855. Illinois’ personnel could see the game slipping into chaos, both on the field and in the stands in the game’s final minutes.

“The officials began to lose control of the game,” Finn said. “They threw one of the Iowa players and Illinois players out at halftime when we were leaving the field. The fans were throwing bottles and cans at us. So the game got rougher and tougher in the second half. I swear Evashevski must have stood on the field for most of the half complaining at the officials.”

“Something else happened at the end of the game that was worse,” Quinby said.


Illinois won the game 33-13. But the stadium mood had shifted from collegial to wrath. Illinois’ players walked off the field toward their locker room in the stadium’s northeast corner. Iowa’s students, which were located close to the field by the stadium’s design, hurled taunts, then apples at the Illini and game officials. One fan drilled an official in the back with an orange. Concern heightened among the Illini.

“As we left the field, one of the coaches said, ‘Run.’ So we were running,” Finn said. “The fans came out of the stands and attacked the team. There were no security guards around there, like there is today.

“Anything they could throw — apples, oranges, cans, bottles. It was really bad. I’ve never seen anything close like that happening over here.”

Illinois offensive end John "Rocky" Ryan caught seven passes for 87 yards against Iowa in a 33-13 Illinois win on Nov. 8, 1952. (Photo courtesy of University of Illinois)

Illinois left end John “Rocky” Ryan, known as one of the team’s toughest players, also walked toward the locker room. Both O’Connell and Finn recall Ryan as a feisty competitor with a mean streak.

“Rocky was a tough Irishman and had a tough temper,” O’Connell said. “Terrible. But he was a good football player.”

Ryan earned honorable mention All-American honors that year after catching 45 passes for 714 yards. That afternoon he torched Iowa’s secondary with seven catches for 87 yards.

Ryan, who later played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears, carries that volatile reputation nearly 60 years after his last Fighting Illini game. In a phone conversation, Ryan half-jokes with a reporter that he’s still young enough to whip ass despite his nearly 80 years of age.

Wolfe, a Donnellson native, attended the game as a fan. In the postgame frenzy, Wolfe briefly met Ryan near the Illinois locker room.

As Ryan approached the dressing area, Wolfe advanced toward him. Wolfe taunted Ryan and allegedly grabbed Ryan by the shoulders. A split-second later, Ryan’s right hand crashed against Wolfe’s face, breaking his jaw. Ryan left the field, as did Wolfe.

Ryan remains unapologetic.

“Our coaches took us out and asked us to get off the field because players were getting pretty violent,” Ryan said. “This fan came out and grabbed my shoulder pad and turned me around. I thought, ‘Well,’ and I hit him because he was going after me. Of course he was stupid for picking on me.”

Wolfe immediately went to the hospital. His jaw was reset and wired virtually shut. Wolfe’s family was notified of the incident, Schau recalled.

“I remember he had to drink his Thanksgiving dinner into a straw,” said Schau, who still lives in Donnellson.

“He wasn’t a rebel. He always took things seriously. He had a temper. After that (the punch), as he got older, he took his schooling seriously.”

Wolfe, who died Aug. 2, 2007, recovered from his wounds and lack of judgment to live an extraordinary life. He earned Iowa’s Alpha Omega Alpha honors upon his 1958 graduation from Iowa’s College of Medicine. He later became a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force, practiced radiology in San Francisco for 28 years and published a book on knee arthography. He served on the San Rafael Parks and Recreation Commission for 13 years and taught at the University of California-San Francisco. He later suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was buried with full military honors five days after his death.

One of his four children also became a doctor.

“He was a remarkable person,” Schau said.


Illinois coaches refused to welcome Iowa reporters to the locker room until 30 minutes after the game. They said little once the reporters arrived.

“We waited a long time (before leaving),” Finn said. “We were just happy to get out of town. This was a bad deal, and it always starts on line of scrimmage. Somebody throws a punch, then somebody else throws a punch, then it starts. There was a lot of that going on out there through the whole game. That stuff has no place in college sports but unfortunately it does happen.

“Iowa blamed us and said we were a dirty team, and it went back and forth.”

Schrader defended Iowa’s players for the on-field scrums saying they were “rightfully indignant” after a few late hits committed by Illinois players were not called by officials.

Schrader both praised and condemned the crowd with tongue-in-cheek commentary in the following day’s edition of The Gazette.

“Yes, the fans were wrong for throwing apple cores, but as long as the dastardly deed was done, I want to compliment one fan for his remarkable accuracy,” Schrader wrote. “His apple core hit an official squarely on the neck. I always say, if you’re going to do something unsportsmanlike, do it well.”

There are differing perspectives on the postgame situation. Finn described the atmosphere as “like a riot” while Iowa starting center Jerry Hilgenberg struggled to recall most of the day’s events, other than a few apples tossed at the field.

The Gazette Sports Editor Harold "Gus" Schrader covered the "Apple Bowl" game between Iowa and Illinois on Nov. 8, 1952 and then-called Iowa Stadium. (The Gazette)

The following day Iowa Athletic Director Paul Brechler expressed remorse about the incident and said “the fruit barrage was unfortunate.”

“Even though officials make mistakes,” Brechler told Schrader in the Nov. 10, 1952 edition of The Gazette, “I do not condone students throwing anything onto the field.”

Longtime Iowa broadcaster Bob Brooks, who called the game on KCRG radio that day, said the incident didn’t “require the police or anything like that.”

“It was not what I thought, in broadcasting the game, an ugly scene,” Brooks said. “It wasn’t close to a riot or anything like that. I don’t think a lot of people saw the Illinois player hit the Iowa fan because the game was over. They were coming off the field. But it was serious enough that they discontinued the series.”

The Big Ten did not sanction Iowa for the incident. The schools were set to rotate off one another’s Big Ten schedules for the 1953 and 1954 seasons. Both Illinois and Iowa athletics officials then agreed to a “cooling-off” period through at least 1958. That hiatus was extended multiple times until they agreed to meet again in 1967. The 15-year pause tied for the longest break among Big Ten schools since World War II.

Illinois Athletics Director Ron Guenther played football for the Illini in the mid-1960s when his team continued to skip Iowa. He said the 15-year break was “a bit unusual.”

“After the incident that took place in 1952, I think here was an agreement that the series was going to go into hiatus,” Guenther said. “From the records, from what I was able to read, it was a fairly ugly situation. A lot of people felt that it was necessary to separate the series for a while.

“I think there was a great concern on part of the presidents at the time the incident happened and didn’t want that series to go on. They may have waited too long. I don’t know why it lasted 15 years. That’s a long time. A lot of people were gone that didn’t know about that incident.”

Illinois and Iowa resumed their border rivalry Nov. 25, 1967 and chose to end their regular seasons against one another for six straight years. Iowa beat the Illini 37-13 in 1968, ending a 12-game series losing streak dating to 1941.

Iowa running back Nick Bell (43) scores a touchdown against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. on Nov. 3, 1990. (The Gazette)


The Iowa-Illinois football series had its heated moments before and after the “Apple Bowl” incident. Finn points as far back as the 1920s when Iowa native and Illinois football alum Burt Ingwersen coached the Hawkeyes and later was fired. Football was drawn into the vitriol of other sports, especially basketball. In the late 1980s, former Iowa basketball assistant Bruce Pearl turned over secret recordings to the NCAA implicating Illinois assistant Jimmy Collins for offering cash and a vehicle to recruit Deon Thomas. That incident, along with other recruiting battles, drew more negative attention to Iowa-Illinois in recent years than the apple-throwing incident.

“Iowa all the time thinks Illinois operates outside the box as far as NCAA is concerned,” Brooks said. “That would be one of the sticking points I would presume. Illinois thinks that they don’t get enough athletes out of the home state, mainly Chicago. They think everybody is stealing their athletes, which they are.”

The football series has produced few memorable games. Each team exchanged pastings of the other in Rose Bowl seasons — Illinois whipped Iowa 33-0 in 1983, Iowa stomped Illinois 59-0 in 1985.

On Nov. 3, 1990 — perhaps the most high-profile matchup between the schools – No. 13 Iowa rolled to a four-touchdown lead early in the first half and destroyed No. 5 Illinois 52-28 in Champaign. The schools finished the year as co-Big Ten champions along with Michigan and Michigan State, and Iowa went to the Rose Bowl.

“The relationship in competition between Iowa and Illinois has always been a little bit tenuous,” Brooks said. “For what reason, I really couldn’t say. They had some basketball problems, that sort of thing. It just seems for some reason I think Iowa players would probably say, ’They’re chirping at us all the time.’ I’d think if you would ask Illinois players they’d say, ‘They’re chirping at us all the time.’ It’s just kind of been a little rocky that way. That’s just the way it’s been.”

The scrapes continued in the most recent decade. Iowa beat Illinois a series-record five straight times in the 2000s, including a 10-6 win in 2007, which kept the Rose Bowl-bound Illini from a 10-win season. That loss fueled Illinois in 2008, and the Illini knocked off nine-win Iowa 27-24 with a last-second field goal.

Illinois's Arrelious Benn is tackled by Iowa's Tyler Sach (9) and Lance Tillison (18) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill., on Nov. 1, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn, a Washington D.C. native now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, didn’t hold back in the locker room when talking about Iowa following the 2008 game.

“Iowa is a team that thinks it’s so much better than us, and we just came on and beat them,” Benn said. “Our team’s never beat Iowa, and it’s just something about Iowa that I personally don’t like. Through the week they talk a lot of trash through the media and stuff. … I just hate Iowa.”

No quotes were found that indicated Iowa players talked trash the week before the game. Illinois Coach Ron Zook called the game “as tough as any college game I’ve ever coached in, as far as intensity.” After hearing Benn’s comments, it was difficult for Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King, now with the New Orleans Saints, to hold back his disgust for Illinois.

“I’m not going to give any press clippings, but they can bad-mouth any program they want and that’s kind of the type of program they are,” King said.

The recruiting battles are just as fierce. Starting Illinois running back Jason Ford originally picked Iowa, while Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz decommitted from Illinois late in the recruiting process. Both schools fought over current Illinois sophomore quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, son of former Hawkeye cornerback Nate Creer. None of the three will face each other in a regular-season game.


Illinois originally was deemed Iowa’s 2011 homecoming opponent for Oct. 8. The Illini no longer appear on Iowa’s 2011 schedule, nor will they in the near future. After the schools rotated off one another’s schedules in 2009 and 2010, they were placed in opposite divisions with league expansion and realignment. A randomly assembled schedule skipped over the schools for 2011 and 2012, while a more deliberate Big Ten approach for 2013 and 2014 also bypassed the rivals.

All sides, including Big Ten Conference officials, have called the six-year hiatus unintentional, just a schedule flap. But six years is an eternity in college sports. It’s the longest break among Big Ten football competitors since Iowa and Illinois went 15 years without playing one another because of the 1952’s apple bowl.

By the time the schools line up again, likely in 2015, they will have played only 35 times in 61 years.

“I wouldn’t discount the Iowa and Illinois football rivalry,” said Loren Tate, a 1953 Illinois graduate who has covered the Fighting Illini for the Champaign News-Gazette since 1966. “I think that’s a really good football rivalry, much more so than Purdue and Indiana for Illinois. It’s just a fluke of nature that we won’t play for a while.”

Quinby officiated several Iowa and Illinois football games during his college career before moving to the NFL. He never once stood in judgment of an Iowa-Illinois game, but has noticed a general dislike for one another.

Former 1952 Iowa team manager Bill Quinby

Ryan holds no ill will toward Iowa. He said he actively roots for Big Ten teams and said Iowa has one of the best college football coaches in Kirk Ferentz.

The apple-throwing incident has lingering memories for Finn. He quit attending Iowa-Illinois football games in Iowa City more than a decade ago. He said he didn’t feel safe, and he didn’t like the atmosphere compared to other venues like Michigan and Ohio State.

“There is a difference,” he said. “My wife, we’ve been over to Iowa City quite a few times and she said, ‘Let’s not come anymore. It’s not a place where you can walk down the street.’ It’s different than any other place. I’ve been to all Big Ten schools to games and … they’ll all say nice game or something like that. But you never hear that in Iowa City. It’s just like it’s best to get in your car and get out of there. That’s the way I always feel.”

The Big Ten likely will revive the dormant rivalry in 2015. Although history suggests otherwise, it’s a game fans might enjoy. It might even mean something.

Iowa-Illinois did not play from 1953-1966
Iowa-Ohio State did not play from 1935-1943
Minnesota-Illinois did not play from 1925-1940
Minnesota-Ohio State did not play from 1951-1964
Purdue-Northwestern did not play from 1959-1966
Purdue-Michigan did not play from 1953-1960
Wisconsin-Indiana played only twice from 1953 through 1966
Purdue-Minnesota did not meet from 1975-78
Iowa-Illinois won’t play from 2009 through at least 2015

Great story that speaks for itself...  the 1952 Iowa-Illinois game clearly shows who the original "sore losers" were...!!!  
(-:  Monte