Questions & Answers Wk 08

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Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

Dr. William Toscano: I believe it is better for the environment because in organic farming they do not use synthetic pesticides; or antibiotics in food production.  The problem with the pesticides used in large farming is that it is contaminating our water supplies called aquifers.  It took billions of years to make the aquifers, but only about 60 years to contaminate them with man-made pesticides and fertilizers.  Furthermore the pesticides may do harm to humans - remember they are poisons; so we can be exposed to these chemicals when we consume food that is not organic.  A potential problem also exists with wide use of antibiotics in production of food.  They can survive cooking so humans are exposed to low doses chronically, which could contribute to the high level of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which are more prevalent in society.

Is Organic Food better for the Environment?

submitted by:
Abby 5-C at the Wk 08 Chat

Dr. William Toscano: The globalization of the food supply could actually be giving us less safe food.  There are not enough regulations on pesticide use world-wide, and some of the food from other countries can be contaminated with viruses or bacteria, which could cause problems.

In your global experiences, are we as a global population getting more healthy foods--as a whole?

submitted by:
brown at the Wk 08 Chat

While crossing Nunavut we rely upon the Inuksuits that we see!

Have you seen the wonderful inuksuits made by GoNorth! students in the Culture Zone?

Be sure to check them out   They did a great job!!

Are there specific things you depend on geographically throughout your trip?

submitted by:
Enstad's Geo. Classes

Dr. William Toscano: Unfortunately much of the mercury in the environment is naturally occurring.  However, humans contribute  about 70 % to the mercury contamination. We can be more conscious about re-cycling mercury containing materials - an example is energy-saving light bulbs and fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury.  When mercury is dumped into water that is anaerobic, bacteria modify it to a form called methyl mercury, which accumulates in fish.  This form of mercury is very toxic to humans, as a neuro toxicant.  The Minnesota department of health issues "Fish Advisories" that list the mercury levels in fish in Minnesota water, and the amount of particular fish that can be "safely" consumed by humans.

Do you think the mercury problem is getting to out of hand, and what can we do to stop it?

submitted by:
Mario and ZeeVEe at the Wk 08 Chat

Depending on how warm or cold it is, we may have as many as six or seven layers just on our upper-bodies. We layer numerous pairs of pants and shirts -- I don't know how many -- but each one of us has to fit all of our clothing into one duffel bag!

Because we are not able to wash our clothes out on the trail, we change in to different clothes for sleeping. The layers depend on the person and personal preference and need at night.

What is the average amount of layers you wear everyday? Do you wear your layers at night?

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Dr. William Toscano: This is an excellent question.  I think there should be better testing before the chemicals enter the environment. This is a very expensive process, however, and often we do not know whether a chemical is toxic until it has been in use - then it may be too late. In Europe, they use a principle called the "Precautionary principle", which bans the use of a chemical if there is any hint of its potential to do harm. In the US, a chemical has to be shown to be toxic to humans before it is regulated. So a chemical like atrazine, which is an herbicide that causes feminization in animals, and is made by a European company, is banned in Europe, but allowed in the US.

With new chemical containments coming out with new products, should there be a lag between the development of a new product and when it is released to allow for proper testing?

submitted by:
Mr Dimmer 8th Steffen at the Wk 08 Chat

Dr. William Toscano: Yes. Food is the most important environmental exposure, and it affects everybody. In fact, Minnesota is a leader in these concerns.  The Minnesota department of health has a program called "food net", which tracks problems with the food supply; there is a need for more states to become actively involved in food safety.  The department of health also has a group of people who work on Team Diarrhea - they call it Team D; their motto ids "We are number two". Their job is to track cases of people who have become ill from eating contaminated food.

With the problems with peanut butter and other foods recently, do you think we should we be more concerned with the state of plants, farms and factories where food and drink items are processed or with the initial food item (or animal) itself?

submitted by:
Mr Krueck's Class at the Wk 08 Chat

Dr William Toscano: It is very difficult to enact bans on things that are in the environment; typically there are very strong lobbying groups that actively work against any change in the way things are done.  The economics often drive the policy. To get a change it often takes community action to make a change.  I suggest that people write to their legislature about environmental concerns.  Usually they will respond if they get at least ten letters.

If bottles for bottled water is so bad can't the government just ban it?

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Ms Havey at Wilson Elem at the Wk 08 Chat

Oh it would be impossible to pick a best place!

In the last 5 years alone we have traveled to Nunavut, ANWR, Chukotka and Arctic Fennoscanida. All are beautiful, wonderful, awe inspiring and 'the best' in their own way. :)

What is the best place you have gone with polar huskies?

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Zero! We don't ride the sled, we ski beside the sled. How many times have we fallen while skiing by the sled? Too many to count!

OK, sometimes we do ride the sled, especially going down hill to help slow it down. And a few times... at the bottom of the hill we have Whooooooaaaaaaa... fallen over and off!

The Polar Huskies get a good laugh out on us!

How many times have you fallen off the sled?

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