Mexico enlists dolphins to help endangered tiny porpoise

5/15/2017 Reuters

dolphinMexico’s government has enlisted the help of three trained dolphins to locate in the wild their less fortunate cousin, the rare vaquita porpoise, in an effort to bring back from the brink of extinction a species with fewer than 40 specimens left.

Populations of the vaquita, a tiny snub-nosed porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California, have dropped sharply in recent years because of gillnet fishing for shrimp and totoaba, a popular delicacy in Asia, causing increased international concern and pressure on Mexico.

The three dolphins “will be released in September in the Gulf and they will help us locate where the vaquitas are,” Mexico’s environment minister, Rafael Pacchiano, said on Monday.

Experts will then help capture the vaquita, which Pacchiano said numbered fewer than 40 in the wild, and transport them to a marine sanctuary that Mexico’s government is planning to establish in the Sea of Cortez. Once inside a penned-off area to ward off natural predators, the experts will help them reproduce.

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Source of Clean Energy? Wind Turbines Are Spilling Oil in Mexico

5/15/2017 Insurance Journal

energy -wind_energyWind turbines were planted along a strip of Mexico’s southern coast to make the country’s power industry cleaner. Now they’re spilling oil.

In the town of Juchitan last month, a clean-up was under way around a generator owned by Electricite de France. Workers wearing goggles and masks were scrubbing off a copper-colored lubricant that dripped down from the turbine. They’d wrapped cloth around its base, to absorb further leakage, and stuffed contaminated soil and stones into plastic trash-bags.

Flor, who owns the land where the turbine is sited and rents it to EDF, said she arrived on the scene after being alerted by a neighbor. “The stench was terrible, like a sort of burned fuel or ammonia,” she said, asking not to be identified by her surname out of concern over reprisals. “The trees were glistening with oil.” Similar problems have been reported all along the Tehuantepec isthmus, one of the western hemisphere’s windiest places.

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Mexico reports H7N3 bird flu outbreak on commercial farm: OIE

5/4/2017 Reuters

poultrychickensMexico has reported an outbreak of the highly contagious H7N3 bird flu virus on a commercial farm in the state of Jalisco, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Thursday, citing a report from Mexico’s agriculture ministry.

The virus, which does not pose a serious danger to people, was detected among laying hens in a flock of 15,000 birds that had been vaccinated and did not show any clinical signs of the disease, the Paris-based OIE said in a notification.

The farm, located in the town of Tepatitlan de Morelos, is under quarantine and the birds have been sent to a slaughterhouse near the site, it said.

Mexico’s agriculture sanitation authority, SENASICA, said the outbreak occurred in the same area where the virus was detected in 2012 and was discovered as part of a supervision program aimed at freeing the country of the disease.

Mexico is a major chicken exporter.

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Trump’s Nafta Threats Push Mexico to Play Catchup on Innovation

5/4/2017 Bloomberg

innovationMexico doesn’t have enough people like Juan Pablo Senosiain, and U.S. President Donald Trump might just be the person to help change that.

Senosiain is an innovator who helped build his family’s laboratory into one of the top five retail prescription drug companies founded in Mexico, with close to 30 patents at home and 50 abroad.

Trump’s threats to quit the North American Free Trade Agreement are giving Mexico an incentive to build more businesses like Senosiain’s that create value through research and design, as it reassesses its dependence on low-wage manufacturing.

Mexico’s leaders are trying to do more to sponsor research to stimulate development of intellectual property that can help businesses develop products the world wants. The government in April said it would match 30 percent of new and expanded research and development investments in Mexico and is seeking 375 technology projects to help fund.

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Mexican Congress approves use of medical marijuana

4/28/2017 Reuters

marijuana leafMexico’s Lower House of Congress passed a bill on Friday to legalize the use of marijuana and cannabis for medical and scientific needs, a step closer to outright legalization in a country long scarred by warring drug cartels.

The bill sailed through the Senate in December and will now be sent to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is expected to sign it.

“The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes,” the Lower House said in a statement on its website.

The measure passed in a general floor vote with 371 in favor, seven against and 11 abstentions, and now classifies the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as “therapeutic.”

Speaking in April 2016 at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Pena Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.

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Only Captivity Will Save the Vaquita, Experts Say

4/27/2017 New York Times

Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures

 

TIJUANA, Mexico — It was not the first time Robert L. Brownell Jr. had seen a dead vaquita, the rare and endangered porpoise that was lying on the stainless-steel necropsy table inside the Tijuana Zoo on Monday. But it might well be one of the last.

Mr. Brownell, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had in effect discovered the porpoise, finding the first full, dead specimen in 1966. The world’s smallest member of the cetacean grouping, which includes whales and dolphins, the vaquita was the most recent cetacean to be recognized by modern science.

Now it may well become the latest to go extinct.

A high-level, bilateral panel of Mexican and American scientists met this week and is expected to announce that it believes efforts to save the animal have, essentially, failed. That announcement would mean that the only hope for the vaquita’s recovery would be to capture the surviving animals, if any can be found. Some of the scientists involved think the surviving vaquitas now number as few as two or three, and the latest two vaquitas found dead could even be the last ones — though it could take years to confirm that.

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Two-thirds of people in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are obese, UN finds

4/25/2017 The Guardian

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Flickr/Ruben Balderas

More than two-thirds of people living in Mexico, Chile and Ecuador are overweight or obese, costing their economies tens of billions of dollars every year, driving rates of disease and straining health services, according to a new UN report.

While the number of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has halved in the past 25 years, the region is now struggling to combat an obesity epidemic.

Changing diets, including more processed food that are high in salt, sugar and fat, along with more sedentary lifestyles have triggered a rising tide of obesity, experts say.

“The implications for the future of countries are frightening … undernutrition is declining, but overnutrition is expected to become the largest social and economic burden in the region,” the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said in a statement.

The report by the WFP and the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said over the next six decades people being overweight and obese would cost Mexico an estimated $13bn a year, Ecuador $3bn and Chile $1bn.

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