Tuesday, November 30, 2010

IDF Commanders Build a Greener Future

The IDF announced the implementation of its new plan, "IDF Protects the Environment", to the sum of one billion NIS, in which it will mend past damages and prevent future harm to Israel's natural landscapes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do You Know What Desertification Is?

Negev DesertDesertification is the degradation of land in arid and dry sub-humid areas due to various factors including climatic variations and human activities.

Some 97 percent of land in Israel is classified as dry land. The driest area is in the south, the Arava desert, near Eilat.

Israel was one of the first countries to begin addressing desertification crisis.

Despite major conventions on desertification signed at Rio de Janeiro in the 1990s, many Western countries persist in relating to the issue as a low priority. This perception started to change four years ago, when the UN and the World Bank re-emphasized that desertification, a problem that affects more than 200 million people, is a major cause of global poverty and hunger.

Desert TreesIsrael is one of the few countries that has successfully restored marginal lands and is recognized worldwide as a leader in protecting its dry lands from further deterioration. The Negev desert is smaller than it was in 1948, parts of it having been transformed into a fertile breadbasket.

Forests thrive in places where trees never took root before and salt- and drought-resistant plants flourish, innovated by Israeli scientists. Commercial fishponds dot the desert, and algae grow abundantly for use in pharmaceuticals and health foods.

Water management is a crucial part of controlling desertification. About half the water used for agriculture cycles through 240 reservoirs built by Keren Kayemeth L'Yisrael-Jewish National Fund, a key player in desertification efforts and education. Israel reuses about 74 percent of its wastewater; Spain, the second most efficient country in wastewater recycling, reuses only 20 percent.

Source: Israel21c

Friday, October 22, 2010

Israeli Eco-Wear

Israel brought sustainable fashion to this year's New York Fashion Week with two runway shows from the ultra-stylish and ultra-eco-friendly Israeli design label EcoGir, in a prominent midtown Manhattan location last month.

The ECOGIR® collection offers three lines of suits: ECOGIR® Organic, ECOGIR® Recycled and ECOGIR® Washable.

Inspired by sustainability challenge, EcoGIR® Organic blends tradition and craftsmanship with the hottest design trends. Made with renewable sources, the jacket fabric and the body lining of EcoGIR® jackets are made from 100% organic cotton, the inner materials include bamboo and even the buttons are dried seeds of the Tagua palm tree, ecologically harvested from the rainforest.

ECOGIR® Recycled garments are made from 100% recyclable material originally created from discarded PET bottles. Using  Post Consumer Material saves more energy compared to manufacturing of virgin fiber, helps divert waste from landfills, and reduces amounts solid waste. It is estimated that nearly 30 recycled plastic bottles are used to build up an EcoGir® Recycled suit. The development of this suit was to aim at a product that maximizes product quality while reducing carbon footprint. This will impact the environment significantly, as it also reduces the CO2 emissions.

EcoGIR® Washable is an eco-friendly washable collection made from 55% Post Consumer Waste. It aims for accessibility and affordability for sustainable products to consumers who may not have thought about buying "green" in the past. The world's first machine-washable suit helps reduce the use of harmful chemicals common in the dry-cleaning process.

EcoGIR suits are the first in the world to carry a carbon footprint label. It lets consumers know how much greenhouse gas was created during the manufacturing and shipping process.

Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

Israeli solar power company BrightSource Energy is in the news this week after receiving an unexpected endorsement from US President, Barack Obama.

In his weekly radio address, Obama told listeners that this October, BrightSource will break ground on a "revolutionary new type of solar power plant".

"It's going to put about a thousand people to work building a state-of-the-art facility. And when it's complete, it will turn sunlight into the energy that will power up to 140,000 homes - the largest such plant in the world. Not in China. Not in India. But in California," he said.

"With projects like this one, and others across this country, we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy. And we're putting Americans to work producing clean, home-grown American energy that will help lower our reliance on foreign oil and protect our planet for future generations," he continued.

Monday, September 20, 2010

International Coastal Cleanup Day in Israel

Israel is gearing up for International Coastal Cleanup Day , organized by the Ocean Conservancy, and slated to take place on Saturday, September 25, 2010.

In Israel, Cleanup Day will be expanded to Cleanup Week and will take place between September 19 - 25, 2010. Israel's Clean Coast Program aims to bring at least 2,500 volunteers to 25 coastal cleanup sites during this period to mark the event.

This year's worldwide event marks 25 years to the program and is dedicated to the theme "International Coastal Cleanup: A 25-Year Sea of Change." It is the world's largest volunteer effort on behalf of ocean health.

Israel's Ministry of Environmental Protection has called on students, adults, youth groups, teachers and others to join this year's coastal cleanup week, in coordination with the "Coast Watch." This cadre of volunteers was especially set up under the Clean Coast Program to help preserve the cleanliness of Israel's beaches.

Source: Israel Ministry of Environmental Protection

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dear Aussies, Welcome to Your New Home!

Israel may be a desert, going six months of the year without rain, but local bee populations are thriving and honey production rising thanks to a new flowering tree brought over from Australia.

It's not a good time for honeybee populations worldwide. All over the globe bee numbers are dwindling, as hives are hit by Colony Collapse Disorder - an ailment which an Israeli company, Beeologics, claims to have now developed a vaccination for. Last winter alone, more than 36 percent of the US bee colonies collapsed, affecting honey production, and the one-third of all food production that requires pollination - from fruits and nuts to the dairy and beef cows that feed on alfalfa.

Israel has 450 beekeepers in the country, who manufacture 3,600 tons of honey annually for growing local consumption and for export. Like in many desert countries around the world, Israel's beekeepers face difficulties because the majority of native plants and flowers blossom only once a year after the winter rains.

Most of Israel's trees and shrubs flower in the spring. This means that in other seasons, hungry bees have to be fed sugar solutions or transported to parts of the country where flowers are still in bloom - both expensive and messy propositions for apiaries.

David Brand, chief forester and head of the forest department at the Keren Kayemeth Leyisrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), working with Dr. Dan Aizikovich, a professor at Tel Aviv University, and the Israel Honey Board looked for a solution and came up with the idea of bringing eucalyptus trees from Australia, which produce blooms all year round.

The KKL-JNF began introducing a variety of the species to Israel 12 years ago. "We started with the seeds and seedlings, and established trial plots all over Israel to investigate which species were suitable" for Israel's climate, says Brand. "We also tested those trees to see whether or not - although they had wonderful flowers, etc., - the bees would be attracted to them," Brand adds.

After two years of extensive trial and error testing at KKL-JNF nurseries nationwide, Brand and Aizikovich found the right plant and bees began to pollinate the flowers while collecting nectar to be made into honey.

Over 100,000 trees have been distributed annually to beekeepers every year - a total of one million trees over the last 10 years. Distributed as seedlings, these trees are still young, but already beekeepers are noticing the difference, with many now leaving their hives near newly planted groves for much of the year instead of following wild flower blossom.

Beekeepers now have a collection of trees that flower from April to September. In addition, some of these eucalyptus species are very resistant to drought, allowing them to be planted in semi-arid zones. In general, a tree will produce the same quantity of nectar from one year to the next and there is therefore less fluctuation compared to wildflowers.

Among those imported seedlings found to be the most sweetly successful in the effort are a variety of Eucalyptus trees, particularly lemon-flowered mallee, coral gum, hybrid gum and red-capped gum, grown in regional KKL-JNF nurseries.

The trees - which are also a source of high-quality wood - are good shade-providers, which is important since the hives could be left under the trees, whose shade provides the right temperature for optimum honey-production by the bees. This also means that the hives won't have to be moved periodically, which is currently the case.

Local species have also been included in the effort, with a type of carob tree found in the Israel's south that produces many flowers and attracts many bees.

The project is now attracting interest from nearby Jordan, where one beekeeper received 20,000 samples of the new species two years ago. Interest is likely from other countries too as desertification and drought forces more beekeepers around the world to combat similar problems to those of apiarists in Israel.

Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

L'Shanah Tovah

Wishing my Jewish brothers and sisters around the world a very sweet and happy new year! May 5771 bring Israel peace and security!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are Healed

Golden eagle getting an eye examHadassah is well-known for its skill in treating human patients, but its doctors have also come to the aid of Israel's animal population.

The patient could not read the eye chart, but it was clear his cataract surgery had succeeded when he spread his golden-brown wings to their full seven-foot span and started to fly again.

The patient, a golden eagle, is one of a number of nonhumans to be treated at the Hadassah–Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem. "We see this outreach as, well, humanitarian," says Dr. Shmuel Shapira, deputy director-general of the medical center, head of the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine and dean of the recently opened School of Military Medicine.

"Clearly, our two hospitals are for human patients," he says. "We do nothing that abuses, jeopardizes or contaminates the equipment, facilities, time or budget dedicated to them. We do, however, see it as proper to lend our expertise and equipment to veterinary colleagues, as and when we can."

Hadassah, Dr. Shapira notes, has had practical ongoing relationships with Israeli zoos and veterinary schools that go back years. It passes on to them and to animal-support organizations expired pharmaceuticals, retired medical equipment and outdated disposables. "And, occasionally, we actually treat animals—in our laboratories, not in our patient facilities," he says.

The eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), a resident of the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in southern Jerusalem, is one example. "The bird had a history of eye problems," says Dr. Michael Halpert, a senior ophthalmologist at Hadassah. "He had lost one eye through injury when he was a fledgling. When he stopped flying a couple of years back, the zoo's veterinary ophthalmologist diagnosed a cataract in the remaining eye, and they operated to remove it."

The veterinary ophthalmologist cut out the front of the eagle's opaque lens, leaving its back membrane in place. This is classic cataract surgery, in people as well as birds, but in one of every two patients, the back membrane clouds over in what is called a secondary cataract. When it became clear that the eagle was developing a secondary cataract, the zoo turned to Dr. Halpert.

"We already knew Dr. Halpert well," says Nili Avni-Magen, chief veterinarian of the Tisch zoo. "A few years ago, he helped us clear up a case of keratitis in one of our Asian elephants. An inflammation of the cornea, keratitis can be very painful and, if untreated, impairs eyesight. He was also involved in treating our hand-reared Sumatran tiger cub, who developed a juvenile cataract when he was 2 months old. Fortunately, we managed to resolve that problem with medication rather than surgery."

For the eagle, however, there was no nonsurgical option. "Secondary cataracts are treated by making a small opening in the middle of the opaque back membrane," explains Dr. Halpert. "It's a simple 10-minute procedure, but you need a YAG laser to do it."

So, in April the eagle was brought to Hadassah. A vet sedated the three-foot-long bird of prey, and Dr. Halpert began. "The eye was bigger than a human eye and had a deeper anterior chamber, but in principle it was very similar," he says. "There was nothing I could see that showed me the secret of 'eagle-eyed' vision."

Using the YAG's beam, Dr. Halpert cut a small hole in the center of the eagle's clouded lens capsule. Back at the zoo and fully awake, the bird shook his golden-brown plumage, looked around, spread its wings—and took to the air.

In an enclosure not far from the zoo's aviary live a mother and son, Tamar and Gabi. Although a very different species from the one-eyed eagle, they nonetheless share with it a close and very personal encounter with Hadassah. For more than a year, Hadassah played an active role in Tamar the elephant's prenatal care, contributing to the safe arrival of her calf, Gabi.

"Gabi clocked in at a birth weight of 198 pounds," says Ariel Revel, a senior physician in Hadassah's obstetrics and gynecology department and chairman of the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "We're used to thinking of an 11-pound or 12-pound infant as a big baby, so the baby elephant's birth weight was mind-blowing!"

An endangered species of Asian elephant, Tamar was a gift to then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 from the Thai government. Tamar was 20 when Gabi was conceived eight years later by artificial insemination on the fourth attempt, conducted with the help of a team from Germany's Reproduction Management Institute for Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research in Berlin. Because of her age—elephants typically start bearing children at ages 12 to 15—and because this was her first baby, Tamar's pregnancy was considered high risk from the start.

"Our role was analyzing regular blood samples from Tamar to monitor her pregnancy and predict the onset of labor," says Dr. Revel. "We did this for over a year, throughout the second half of the pregnancy. On a Wednesday in early December, we saw that her progesterone levels had plummeted. We predicted she would give birth on Shabbat."

At 8 P.M. on the following Friday evening, Tamar began an arduous 10-hour labor in her enclosure. The birth was difficult and, at one point, zoo staff thought they would lose both mother and child. But at 6 on Shabbat morning, as Hadassah's gynecologists had predicted, a healthy elephant calf dropped to the ground, still wrapped in its sac. It was the 11th birth worldwide of an Asian elephant conceived through artificial insemination. The baby was named for Gabi Eshkar, the zoo's head veterinarian, who had begun the impregnation project and had died the previous year in a road accident.

It is now four years since Gabi's birth, but Hadassah's biochemistry department continues to monitor samples from the zoo's Asian elephant herd. "The idea is to keep track of when they can breed," says Dr. Revel, "and to perform long-term research into hormone levels in their blood."

With only a small number of specialized vets in Israel, Hadassah has proven itself "a true friend of the zoo," says Avni-Magen. "When we have a complex or unusual case, when we need special equipment [such as the YAG], when we want to do research or when we need outside help, we turn to Hadassah."

One highly successful research collaboration between the zoo, Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University brought significant relief to the zoo's monkeys. "They had developed a stubborn fungal infection that was making their hair drop out," says Avni-Magen. "There are many antifungal ointments on the market, but all need regular application. Our animals, however, are wild, so the less we handle them the better it is for them. What we needed to treat the fungus was a slow-release ointment that required only a single application."

Together with Dr. Michael Friedman of the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy, a slow-release single-application antifungal was developed. "It has the consistency of nail polish and it worked beautifully," says Avni-Magen. "We have published the results and are optimistic that this heralds development of many other slow-release drugs across the pharmacological spectrum—for animals and for people."

Source: Hadassah Magazine

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How Israeli Technology Can Help Clean Gulf Oil Spill

It’s taken millions of dollars to cap it, and it could take billions more to clean it up. BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is perhaps the environmental catastrophe of the century. But Tel Aviv University has a solution that may help remedy the remaining oil residue through a natural, biological process.

Prof. Eugene Rosenberg and Prof. Eliora Ron of Tel Aviv University’s (TAU) Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology are using naturally occurring oil-munching bacteria, grown at the TAU lab, to clean the hard-to-reach oil pockets that occur when oil mixes with sand and organic matter on beaches and forms a thin layer on the Gulf’s precious waterways.

“It’s worked to clean up an oil spill on the coast of Haifa, Israel, so we’ve already got good evidence it could work in Florida too,” says Prof. Ron. Details of their decades of research appear in The Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology, published this year by Springer Verlag.

Using nature itself to fight contamination

The researchers identified a naturally occurring variety of sea-borne bacteria that digests oil. By studying the bacteria’s genetic background, developing methods of growing the bacteria, and increasing their capacity to ingest the oil, the scientists have developed a solution that could clean up the residual oil that can’t be removed by mechanical means.

Prof. Ron says that sucking up surface oil pools and containing the oil are important and necessary first-step actions. But her solution addresses the smaller amounts of oil left behind ― that which isn’t easily removed from sand and water. It is this small percentage of oil that sits under rocks and forms a thin film on the water’s surface. Her bacterial solution can remove this oil, which is necessary to protect the sea’s wildlife.

“We see sad pictures of birds covered in oil and people with good intentions cleaning bird wings,” says Prof. Ron. “But by the time the oil is on their wings, it’s too late. Birds die because oil gets into their lungs.”

Going the last mile

“The problem is huge and even with just a little bit in your lungs, oil is bad. Even when cleanup crews reduce the amount of oil at sea, there will probably be enough left behind to kill birds and wildlife.” At this level of oil removal, the researcher says, the only solution is bioremediation ― using nature itself to do the final cleanup.

Source: Israel National News

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friendly Skies for Pets

Got to send a pet by air? Then look no further than Israeli service Terminal4Pets, which helps pet owners worldwide navigate the rules and regulations of airline travel.

With 25 years of experience, Eitan Kreiner, founder of Terminal4Pets, is still pioneering new, caring ways to take your pet on airplane trips. Conveniently located in Maccabim, just 15 minutes from Israel's international airport, the company also offers a door-to-door courier service for VIPs (Very Important Pets). The company coordinates flights for animals not only from Israel, but throughout the world.

Stray dogs adopted by servicemen in Iraq have been flown to new homes in the US via Kreiner's service and he mentions that pets traveling from Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Jordan will all have their flight arrangements coordinated by Israel's Terminal 4 Pets, which functions as a headquarters for pets' flights in the region.


Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hebrew University Professor Researches the "Humble Potato"

Tel Aviv CleanTech 2010 Expo

CleanTech 2010The annual international event for clean technologies opened today in the Tel Aviv Fairs & Conventions Center and will continue until June 30.

Tel-Aviv CleanTech 2010 will focus on environmental quality, infrastructures and green building, renewable energy and water technologies. Participants will discuss energy, water and recycling issues and will be presented with the newest developments in the area in Israel and abroad. Delegations from across the globe, together with ministers and leading public figures in the area of ecology in Israel and worldwide are attending. The expo will also host a special convention on environmental quality and clean technologies, comprising dozens of pavilions.

The expo features hundreds of leading Israeli companies from various CleanTech areas, including government bodies, green organizations, technological greenhouses, venture funds and educational institutions active in this field. In recent years Israel has been concentrating on the interdisciplinary industry aiming at preserving the earth's resources: energy, water, and air. In the last two years, over 300 million dollars have been invested in the CleanTech industry; 320 companies in Israel specialize in the CleanTech field, especially water purification and solar energy. The scope of water technologies exports in Israel this year will stand at 1.2 billion dollars.

The 14th "CleanTech" focuses on four major areas:
- Israel's transition into a state of energetic independence on the basis of developing renewable energies;
- Coping with the global water problem as a result of population growth and the pollution of ground water reservoirs;
- Solutions and innovations in the area of energy conservation and energy efficiency improvement, including green construction and grey water solutions;
- Innovations in the areas of recycling associated with ground water pollution as well as recycling of paper, glass, plastic and nylon products in Israel and worldwide.

Source: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Collagen Manufactured From Transgenic Tobacco Plants Instead Of Animals

Collagen StructureA scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment has succeeded in producing a replica of human collagen from tobacco plants – an achievement with tremendous commercial implications for use in a variety of human medical procedures.

Natural human type I collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is the main protein found in all connective tissue. Commercially produced collagen (pro-collagen) is used in surgical implants and many wound healing devices in regenerative medicine. The current market for collagen-based medical devices in orthopedics and wound healing exceeds US $30 billion annually worldwide.

Currently, commercial collagen is produced from farm animals such as cows and pigs as well as from human cadavers.

Source: EurekAlert

Friday, June 18, 2010

French fries or batteries?

PotatoesIsraelis have developed a way to generate a battery using the energy of boiled potatoes, creating an ecological and economical way of bringing technology to developing nations.

"The ability to provide electrical power with such simple and natural means could benefit millions of people in the developing word, literally bringing light and telecommunication to their life in areas currently lacking electrical infrastructure," Yaacov Michlin, chief executive of Yissum, said in a statement.

Kind of makes you crave latkes, doesn't it? After all, who knows about all the uses for the common spud! Read the whole article here.

Shabbat Shalom, everyone, till next time!

J

Oil Spill Exercises in Israel

Oil Spill Exercise in the Gulf of EilatIn recent weeks, in the shadow of the dire news concerning the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, two major oil spill exercises and training sessions took place in Israel. The drills were held with the framework of a program run by the Marine and Coastal Environment Division of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which simulates the treatment and prevention of marine pollution by oil in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Eilat for training purposes. They are part of a series of exercises carried out within the framework of Israel's "National Contingency Plan for Large Scale Oil Spills."

Marine Pollution Prevention Training in Ashkelon

The first training session, carried out at the end of May 2010, at the Eilat Ashkelon Oil Pipeline site in Ashkelon, covered the following subjects:
- Types of oils and fuels;
- Environmental impacts of marine pollution by oil;
- Treatment methods for oil spills at sea and shore;
- Alternative methods for biological and chemical treatment of oil spills;
- Practical exercise on deploying equipment at sea and the coast.

The training session was targeted at:
- Organizations dealing with the transport, production or maintenance of oils and fuels;
- Position holders in coastal local authorities;
- Israeli Electric Corporation personnel;
- Enforcement bodies in the Ministry of Environmental Protection including the Marine and Coastal Environment Division, the Green Police, the Nature and Parks Authority, volunteers and more.

Oil Spill Exercise in the Gulf of Eilat

On June 7, 2010, teams of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Nature and Parks Authority and Eilat Underwater Observatory Marine Park successfully completed an oil pollution combat exercise in the Almog Beach in Eilat. The aim of the exercise was to test and operate the emergency plan of the Nature and Parks Authority for protecting the coral reserve from oil spills. As part of the exercise, oil containment booms were deployed around the marine reserve in order to prevent oil stains from reaching this sensitive site. In addition, fuel pumping equipment was operated and the system for the transport of the fuels to receiving tankers was activated.

Source: Israel Ministry of the Environment - News

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Israel gears up for eco-tourists!

Cycling in IsraelThe Israeli government is seeking to make Israel a cycling destination hotspot. Already popular in Europe, cycling tours enable travelers to visit a country on a bike. Israelis are seeking to create a bike path spanning the entire country, enabling a whole new level of eco-friendly travel.

It gets hot in the Middle East, especially in the summer but the absence of rainfall keeps away mosquitos so it's possible to sleep outside at night while spending days cycling around the Negev and Galilee.

Read the whole story here.

Sounds tempting to me and I think I may look into booking my cycling tour already.

Till next time,

J

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ten Negev Sites Earmarked for Solar Plants

Mitzpe RamonThe Israel Lands Authority and the Ministry of National Infrastructures are going ahead with land tenders in outlying areas for the construction of solar energy installations. The tenders are for ten sites of 100-200 dunams (25-50 acres) each.

The Ministry of National Infrastructures hopes that the currently unused sites in industrial zones will be exploited by ventures for setting up mid-size photovoltaic installations to be connected to the national power grid, turning them into sources of green energy.

Source: Globes [online], Israel business news

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Israel

I stand with IsraelTonight at sundown Jews around the world will begin celebrating the 62nd birthday of the modern nation of Israel. On the Hebrew calendar, Israel's Independence Day was the 5th day of Iyar (May 14, 1948) which this year falls on April 20th on our calendar.

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of Israel. Never again will our national survival depend on the kindness of strangers.

Am Yisrael chai!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jerusalem to Join Lights Out for Planet Earth Campaign

Planet EarthJerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin are scheduled to take part in a ceremony on April 22 to turn off lights on the walls of the capital's Old City and the Tower of David as part of an annual event on behalf of energy conservation. Fourteen other Israeli cities are taking part.

The lights on the landmarks will be turned off between 8:10 and 9:10 p.m. Residents are being asked to turn off lights in their homes, businesses, offices and public buildings as well.

Source: Israel National News

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Organic Approach To Pest Control

An insect
Israeli researchers are trying an organic approach to pest control by releasing super-sexed but sterile male insects.

The principle is to rear millions of individuals of the species you seek to control, separate the sexes, sterilize the males and release them into the field. If the sterile males copulate with wild females, the females will be unable to lay fertile eggs, thus reducing the pest populations.

Prof. Boaz Yuval of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment is working on upgrading this veteran approach, known as the sterile insect technique. The method is currently employed against several dozen insect species.

Since the process can adversely affect the male insects' sexual competitiveness, Yuval and his fellow researchers are formulating a high-protein, bacteria enhanced "breakfast of champions" for the males which should significantly improve their sexual performance when released in the field. Their work is described in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal.

Yuval believes that this approach can be applied to a variety of plant and animal pests, as well as to organisms that transmit human disease.

The scientists hope to offer an efficient and promising avenue for supplying produce to the market by eliminating pests without negatively impacting human health or the environment.

Source: Israel21c

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eilat to have Israel's largest wind farm

Wind Farm
Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC) is initiating the construction of a wind farm for the generation of electricity in the Eilat Mountains. The wind farm will be the largest of its kind in Israel.

The 50-megawatt wind farm is expected to be built within 2-3 years at the anticipated cost of €50-60 million.

The Israel Civil Aviation Administration is examining the plan because of the proposed site's proximity to air lanes. If it approves the plan, EAPC will build a wind measurement station at the site and open negotiations with equipment vendors at the same time.

EAPC's entry into the wind farm market could face regulatory obstacles since it is a government company supervised by the Ministry of Finance. EAPC executives do not believe that the ministry will frustrate the project, in view of the importance of developing renewable energy projects.

Source: Globes [online]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Uncompromising Crop Protection From Israel

Green agricultureResearchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are developing new environmentally friendly crop protection technologies.

Two Israeli companies, Yissum Research Development Company, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Makhteshim Agan, a world leader in crop protection solutions, have signed an agreement to develop and commercialize environmentally-friendly crop protection technologies that will benefit agriculture and the environment the world over.

The first collaborative effort is for the development and commercialization of a novel methodology for producing a slow and controlled release of herbicides. It incorporates herbicides into micelles or vesicles, which are then absorbed onto negatively charged clay minerals. The special formulation enables a slow and controlled release of the herbicides, reducing leaching to deeper soil layers and contamination of soil and water. In addition, the herbicide is delivered close to its site of uptake, enhancing efficiency and reducing the required doses.

The total worldwide agricultural and non-crop herbicide market is valued at more than $15 billion, of which approximately a quarter is dedicated to soil-applied herbicides and other pesticides.

The second collaboration involves a novel insecticidal preparation combining a proprietary Chitin Synthesis Inhibitor (CSI) and a pathogenic fungus that kills caterpillars of night-flying moths, which are major pests of agriculture worldwide. Unlike common commercial preparations, the CSI, a mild insecticide, has minimal or no effect on non-target organisms and the fungus has no effect on beneficial insects.

It's an approach that emphasizes a commitment to environmental responsibility, without compromising pest control. The insecticide relies on a strong synergism between the chemical and biological components involved, thereby greatly enhancing their effects. The CSI disrupts the production of cuticle (the insects' external shield, which normally envelops and protects the insect body) so that the pathogenic fungus can easily attack the weakened caterpillars.

According to the university this means that very high levels of control can be achieved with much less CSI and fungus, minimizing environmental impact by reducing the insecticide component many-fold.

Founded in 1964, Yissum currently generates $1.2b. in annual sales from products based on Hebrew University technologies. Among Yissum's business partners are Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Teva, Intel, IBM, Phillips, Syngenta, Vilmorin and Monsanto.

Source: Israel21c

Friday, February 5, 2010

Shekels For Clunkers!

Old carRecently, Israel started implementation of its program to get gas guzzlers off the roads.

"The orderly removal of these vehicles from the road will reduce the air pollution in cities, reduce the number of old cars abandoned in cities and at the side of the road, and increase the recycling of raw materials used to build vehicles," Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said.

Get the whole scoop here.

Till next time,

J

Friday, January 22, 2010

SeaNergy

Inspired by children playing with a beach ball at the seaside, Shlomo Gilboa an Israeli politician-turned-inventor has invested millions of his own dollars in SeaNergy, a new company and product that share a name. SeaNergy harvests the energy of ocean waves through an offshore farm of buoys.

The technology now being tested off the coast of Haifa can harness 20 times more power from wave energy than any other similar technology in existence today.

Usually, the wave comes and goes in a second, but SeaNergy harvesting system manipulates it, holding the wave level in a reservoir in the buoy, to capture it.

The buoy literally shoots up when it reaches the crest of the wave With the same impact as a ball put underwater in the swimming pool pops up in a huge burst of energy.

SeaNergy is currently working with the Israel Electric Corporation and has been endorsed by engineers at the University of Haifa.

While generating electric power, the system also produces a significant amount of carbon-free desalinated water. It is estimated that a million cubic meters of desalinated water will be produced by a SeaNergy farm that covers a 300 square meter (about 3,229 square foot) patch of water at sea. While traditional desalination plants can produce orders of magnitudes more water, unlike SeaNergy they require an extensive amount of energy input to the system.

Currently a number of large and small companies around the world are negotiating with the company about a first facility, which will require a $2 million investment for four, four-buoy clusters. According to the most conservative projection, the SeaNergy buoy system, which sits below the surface of the waves and pops up as it collects energy, can pay for itself in feed-in tariffs within three years.

Although the company was officially formed in 2008, the idea has been in development for about 15 years, and millions of dollars of personal financing were invested in the prototype. Based in Haifa, SeaNergy employs a small staff of four, but has worked with more than 100 consultants and specialists to get its prototype to ‘float.'

At the Haifa National Museum of Science SeaNergy is presented as an important and radical new green technology. In the near future, you may see its buoys bouncing around a coast near you.

Source: Israel21c

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Israel's Military And Farmers Save Birds

Common KestrelIsrael's environmentalists and Israel Military Industries (IMI) are working together to help farmers and the environment and to boost the declining population of predatory birds.

The joint project turns old ammunition crates into nesting boxes for owls and kestrels, which then feast on the rodents that plague farmers' crops. Use of predatory birds rather than pesticides is both beneficial to the environment and saves the birds that were often poisoned themselves after devouring toxic prey.

At 700 shekels a piece, wooden nesting boxes were proving prohibitively expensive for the farmers, but IMI offered them all the boxes they wanted, free of charge.

The project is run by Tel Aviv University in conjunction with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Agriculture and Environmental Protection ministries.

It started in 1983 with 12 boxes and now there are 2,000 boxes all over Israel, many of which are made of recycled wood.

One of the project's goals is to encourage farmers to rely on predatory birds to curb the rodent population rather than on rodenticides, which are harmful to humans and the environment.

The project was recently expanded into Israel's Arab sector.

Source: Israel21c

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bill to Restrict Import of Animal-Tested Products

Not tested on animals
The Knesset plenum passed in a preliminary vote a bill to ban the import of cosmetic and cleaning products that were tested on animals. The bill specifies that the proposed law would not restrict products used for purposes relevant to health. The bill was approved by a majority of 43 lawmakers, while 9 opposed.

Source: Israel National News

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Israelis Against Fur

Say NO to furRecent public opinion poll commissioned by the International Anti - Fur Coalition and Let Animals Live has shown that vast majority of Israelis oppose fur industry.

Killing animals for their fur is immoral
Agree - 86%
Disagree - 8%
No opinion - 6%

Fur industry in Israel should be prohibited
Agree - 79%
Disagree - 12%
No opinion - 9%

The survey, conducted by the Maagar Mohot polling company, questioned 542 Israeli adults and had a margin of error of 4.5%.

Among Israel's general Jewish population, 92% believe killing of animals for fur is immoral; 85% of new immigrants are also against the fur industry, as are 64% of Arab-Israelis and 61% of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The ultra-Orthodox Jews want to preserve the round fur hats known as "shtreimels", which are made from rabbit, sable, stone marten, baum marten and American gray fox.

Source: YNetNews