Posts Tagged ‘Tufts University’

The Young Turks on the Devastation Caused by the TPP

January 25, 2016

I’ve posted a number of pieces about the damaging effects on the projected TPP trade agreement now being considered by politicians across the world. Left-wing bloggers and social activists have criticised the agreement on the grounds that it gives private corporations the power to sue national governments for legislation that may harm their trade. In effect, it takes power away from national governments to regulate and control industry, and gives it to big business. There have been a number of petitions launched against it in Britain, most notably because of the threat it poses to the National Health Service. Campaigners are trying to get the NHS omitted from the deal, as they fear that the TPP will lock in the Tories’ steal privatisation of the health service.

The TPP is also controversial and unpopular in America. In this video from The Young Turks, the anchors John Iadarola, Michael Shure and Elliot Hill discuss the findings of researchers from Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Unit. The Tufts researchers found that the claims that the TPP would promote economic growth and jobs were all wrong. Instead, they predict that in America, GDP will be 0.54% lower than it would be without the trade deal. The Japanese would also be worse off by 0.12%.

The also state that there would be minimal or negligible economic gains for the participating countries. There would be less than 1% economic growth for the nations in the Developed World after ten years, and only 3% for nations in the Developing World.

771,000 jobs would be lost due to the deal. The most severe job losses would be felt in America, which would lose 448,000. The countries that did not participate in the trade deal would also suffer massive job losses. In the Developed World, GDP would suffer by 3.77%, and 879,000 jobs would be lost, mostly in Europe. In the Developing World, the economic losses would include 5.24% of the GDP and 4.45 million jobs lost in China and India.

The Turks acknowledge that there are other predictions that the economy will actually grow under the TPP, and state they merely want to start a conversation about this issue. But from this, it seems clear that the TPP will be devastating to nations right across the globe. The only people, who will profit from it are the leaders of big business. Everybody else seems set to lose their jobs and see their nations become even more impoverished.

The Turks also ponder how it can be that whatever the price of oil, it’s bad for the economy. When the price is high, it’s harming the economy. When it’s low, this also harms the economy. John Iadarola suggests, half-jokingly, that it’s time we stopped being dependent on oil. He mentions that he did a piece the other day on how Denmark got 42% of its power from wind. He doesn’t say this would be possible in America, but something should be done to make America less dependent on it.

This programme provides further evidence that the TPP is altogether harmful, and should be firmly resisted by everyone, whether they’re in Britain, America, China, Japan, India or wherever.

Scientists Mutate Flatworms without Altering Genes

November 28, 2015

This is another very interesting piece I found on Tumblr. Biologists at Tufts University have managed to make one species of flatworm grow the brains and heads of other species without altering its genetic makeup. This suggests that the body plan of living creatures may be partly determined by the bioelectric fields and synapses, and develop according to epigenetic processes. These are the biological processes that affect the shape of living being which aren’t caused by that creature’s genes.

Flatworm EvolutionPic

It’s a fascinating addition to modern evolutionary theory, which takes it beyond the simple Neo-Darwinian synthesis formulated at the beginning of the 20th century by Theodososius Dobzhansky and Fisher, amongst others. This stated that evolution worked through the appearance of mutations in living creatures’ genetic codes, which provided the raw material for the operation of Darwin’s natural selection. If the mutations proved beneficial, then the creature thrived and had more offspring, and the genes spread through the rest of that creature’s population. If the mutations were harmful, then the creature died, taking with it the faulty genes. Gradually these mutations, selected by the environment, mounted up until a new species emerged, descended from its predecessor.

This complicates the situation. There’s a theory that Lamarck based his theory that evolution was driven through inherited characteristics partly on misunderstood observations of epigenetic alterations in the animals he studied. Some of the changes can be quite dramatic. For example, some species of animal have been known to develop additions to the digestive system according to changes in diet. John Maynard Smith, one of the leaders and founders of modern Neo-Darwinian biology, also speculated in a small book published on evolution in the 1990s that the forms of living creatures may also be partly determined by the changes in the developing embryo in the very first stages of life. I’ve been told that there’s a heretical view of the development of living organisms held by a few university biologists, which states that these changes are largely responsible for the shape of the organism, with the creature’s genes determining only minor differences.

This experiment adds more information to the debate, and seems to support the indications that epigenetics – non-genetic processes – could play a stronger role in shaping living things than previously considered.