Water out of fish

Water out of fish
by Joel Preston Smith (Sound Consumer magazine, 2012)

“Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.”
  — Comedian Steven Wright

There’s more than enough fish in the sea.

The oceans are dying.

Don’t worry.


The histrionic debate over whether fish stocks are healthy, or whether they’re on the verge of collapse, has consumers lost at sea. The two most prominent scientists in the controversy stand on opposite shores; Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington argues, in essence, we’re worrying needlessly. For the fishing industry, he’s… Read More »


by Joel Preston Smith

BioSteel® is a product created from an animal-animal transgenic combination. Scientists at Nexia Biotechnologies … isolated the gene for silk protein from a spider capable of spinning silk fibers—one of the strongest yet most resilient substances known—and inserted it in the genome of a goat’s egg prior to fertilization. When the transgenic female goats matured, they produced milk containing the protein from which spider silk is made. The fiber artificially created from this silk protein has several potentially valuable uses, such as making lightweight, strong, yet supple bulletproof vests.

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Biosolids hit the fan

From Sound Consumer magazine
(March 2012)

When Alice Cho Snyder and her husband Mark bought a 13-acre farm near Everett, Wash., last July, they thought they were going to be organic farmers, not the epicenter of a biosolids storm. Shortly after the Snyders closed on the property, Snohomish County officials notified the couple that biosolids were slated to be applied on 250 acres of land bordering their property.

“Biosolids” is a recycling industry term for sewage sludge that has been treated to remove most (or in some cases, nearly all) pathogens. After being somewhat defanged, biosolids are used as fertilizer or soil amendments.

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Off the hook

by Joel Preston Smith

The federal government recently acknowledged that salmon have a hard time swimming through concrete walls. It’s too late for the native sockeye salmon population on the Elwah River—they’re extinct—but the dozers are rolling, and the two tombs that for the past 99 years have buried 70 miles of wild river are finally coming down. Engineers recently resurrected the Elwha after a century-long sleep. On March 16, workers removed a final barrier around the Elwha Dam, allowing the river to flow in its native channel for the first time since 1912, when developers in northwest Washington decided the state needed… Read More »

Nanotech on the Menu

From In Good Tilth magazine: January/February 2009

Interest in nano is also fueled, in an aberrant way, by the visions of a fringe element of futurists who muse on biblical life spans, on unlimited wealth and, conversely, on a holocaust brought about by legions of uncontrollable self-replicating robots only slightly bigger than Einstein’s sugar molecules.
    — Gary Stix, in Understanding Nanotechnology (Warner Books, 2002).


Just when you thought it was safe not to sweat the small stuff, it turns out the truly small stuff may be infinitely worse than the large stuff—if, by truly small, we mean nanoparticles, which have come… Read More »

Code Oranges

From In Good Tilth magazine: July/August 2009

The Department of Homeland Security’s lime green website recommends that each home-preparedness kit include a can opener. The agency, not well known for linking cause and effect, goes on to state that a can opener is used for food. And then, just to be sure you don’t put your eye out with it, or attempt to paddle it past the broken levees, the agency observes that your disaster preparedness kit should include a can opener if your kit contains canned food.

What the agency doesn’t recommend, but that we’re hearing more and more these days, is that your disaster kit should include a… Read More »

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