Articles by Pat Thomas

This archive of investigations, reports and interviews below spands from my 'Ecologist years' to some of my more recent post-Ecologist work (see also my Blogs page) with other publications and from the NYR Natural News website, which I edit and Beyond GM campaing and it's associated websites. In the sidebar below are links to collections from current and previous incarnations.

For those who don't know, the Ecologist magazine, founded in 1970, was the world's oldest and most widely read environment magazine. The Ecologist was a driving force in major environmental campaigns against climate change, toxic chemicals in household products, rainforest destruction, food additives, genetic modification and much more. Its courageous, in-depth journalism provided early-warning signs for all the environmental challenges we face now and was, for decades, hugely influential in setting the environmental and green political agendas in the UK and elsewhere. The New York Review of Magazines called it “A magazine that changes people’s lives”. I was privileged to be its Health Editor and then Editor for several years before it ceased printing in 2009.

NYR Natural News is the only alternative health website based in the UK. It has a growing UK and international audience of people who want good information on health alternatives and who want to understand the connections between environment and health. It is also an increasingly powerful voice in environmentand and GM campaigning, exposing the toxic connections between multinational corporations and political policy and their impact on human well-being.


NYR Natural News
February 12
, 2016

When the words ‘global public health emergency’ pop up on the TV screen or in the headlines of a newspaper, it’s reasonable to hope that there is good information out there to reassure you – or at least inform you.

Not so with the zika virus. The whirlwind of hype and hysteria, half-baked theories and speculation has been both unhelpful and unnerving. For weeks now ‘news’ stories about zika have been anything but.

The story is certainly moving fast, but let’s try to sort out what we know from what we don’t. Read more.


October 1
, 2015

Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

How can we restore our planet to health? From replenishing biodiversity to enforcing legal protection, Salt asks the experts for their opinions on managing the Earth’s health in a critical time. Welcome to the seven-part ‘Stopping the Sixth Extinction’ series.

We need to realise our current food system is broken and move away from GM, writes former Ecologist magazine editor and Beyond GM director Pat Thomas. Read more.




My NYR Natural News newsletter editorials can be found here.
The full Behind the Label series can be found here.
The full Read the Label campaign series can be found here.
The full How to be Healthy series can be found here.
My Ecologist editorials can be found here.
The full iVillage Healthy Pregnancy and Birth series can be found here.
The full What Doctors Don't Tell You archive can be found here
The full Proof! archive can be found here.
Some AIMS Journal articles can be found here.

Natural Parent coming soon...

NYR Natural News
May 14, 2015

Honey bees have disappeared at a staggering rate over the last year, according to a new government report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The numbers are significant and “troubling” and for the first time summer deaths have outnumbered the winter ones.This is the first time the USDA has released information about summer month bee losses, though it has gathered the information since 2010-2011.

The numbers are significant and “troubling” and for the first time summer deaths have outnumbered the winter ones. This is the first time the USDA has released information about summer month bee losses, though it has gathered the information since 2010-2011. Read more.

Beyond GM
February 20, 2015

Genetically modified food has been widely publicised as way to feed the world – but could eating it just make our ‘eating problems’ worse?

Since it has been shown GMOs don’t increase yields or make food more nutritious, and in fact may even contain higher residues of harmful pesticides, the mythology of feeding the world has taken quite a beating. No reputable scientist, or politician, would now use that notion as a justification for GMOs.

But in light of a series of studies in the medical journal the Lancet this week, showing that progress towards tackling obesity around the globe has been “unacceptably slow” and that in less than a generation, rates of child obesity have risen dramatically worldwide maybe it’s time to look at an often ignored adverse effect associated with GMOs. Read more.


Beyond GM
January 29, 2015

GMO media-watchers will know that very recently there has been a biotech PR onslaught, the goal of which is to juxtapose the words ‘GMOs’ and ‘safe’ in such a way they the two concepts become ‘normalised’ as being associated with one another.

Nothing could be further from the truth and we must do all we can to challenge this assumption.

In 2013, nearly 300 independent scientists from around the world issued a public warning that there was no scientific consensus about the safety of eating genetically modified food, and that the risks, as demonstrated in independent research, gave “serious cause for concern.”

The statement which drew a line in the sand and which has grown in importance and prominence since that time, has now been published in a scientific journal.

According to the eminent scientists behind it, the joint statement shows that this claimed ‘consensus’ is “an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated through diverse fora.”

In other words it’s a lie that has been uncritically parroted, and spread far and wide by a disreputable assortment of biotech companies and lobbyists, professional sceptics and rent-a-quote scientists. Read more.


NYR Natural News
May 16, 2014

You will have seen the doomsday headlines about the recent government survey which highlighted the looming health disaster that is the average British diet.

The media furore suggested that fruit juice and cereal were nothing less than health ‘timebombs’.

We’ve certainly reports on the problems of things like the hidden sugars in fruit juice, sugary sodas and the need to get our heads around eating a wide variety of whole grains before. Indeed many natural health campaigners have worked hard to get this message across.

Given the long running battle to get us all to eat more healthily, the headlines don’t seem all that new or interesting. But do the headlines tell the whole story? Read more.


NYR Natural News
MaRCH 12, 2014



We may be eating more, but we are not eating better and the way we eat – which is fast becoming a dietary monoculture – is leading us down the path to global food poverty.

That is the conclusion of two recent reports on global food supplies.

The first is a comprehensive new study, relying on data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), that encompassed more than 50 crops and over 150 countries (accounting for 98% of the world’s population) during the period from 1961-2009.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), it confirms and thoroughly documents for the first time what experts have long suspected: over the last five decades, human diets around the world have grown ever more similar – by a global average of 36% – and the trend shows no signs of slowing, with major consequences for human nutrition and global food security. Read more.



NYR Natural News
December 17, 2013

Are multivitamin and mineral supplements just a waste of time and money? According to a recently published opinion medical journal that answer is yes.

But don’t tip that bottle in the trash just yet.

Writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine doctors from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Warwick and the American College of Physicians summarise what they believe are the relevant points from three studies published in the same edition of that journal. “Enough Is Enough” screams the headline “Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements”.

Making the assumption that these three studies represent the be all and end all of nutritional research, they say that there is no health benefit from taking most vitamin supplements and that doing so doesn’t prevent death or disease. Read more.

NYR Natural News
September 22, 2013

Antibiotic-resistant infections cause two million infections and claim the lives of 23,000 people in the United States every year, according to a new landmark report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013, presents the first snapshot of the burden and threats posed by antibiotic-resistant germs having the most impact on human health. The threats are ranked in categories: urgent, serious, and concerning.

Infections classified as urgent threats include carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), drug-resistant gonorrhea, and Clostridium difficile, a serious diarrhoeal infection usually associated with antibiotic use. C. difficile causes about 250,000 hospitalisations and at least 14,000 deaths every year in the United States.

“Antibiotic resistance is rising for many different pathogens that are threats to health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “If we don’t act now, our medicine cabinet will be empty and we won’t have the antibiotics we need to save lives.” Read more.

Ecologist Online
September 13, 2013

After a week of events throughout the UK aimed at highlighting the health risks of eating genetically modified foods, Pat Thomas highlights a key health message that many of us have missed...

We are continually told that one of the benefits of GMOs is that they reduce pesticide use. This, of course, is a lie.

While GM crops with the Bt trait do reduce pesticide use somewhat, HT crops drastically increase pesticide use through the promotion of superweeds – some of which cannot be killed, except with increasingly large amounts of pesticides and in some cases flamethrowers.

As a result, since 1996, overall pesticide use in the US, where the vast majority of GM food crops are grown,  has increased by around 7%. Read more.

September 13, 2013
Silicon Valley magnates with unlimited cash, very little social conscience and a canny ability to exploit patent laws are set to take control of our food supply - are you ready for fake food to become the new real?

“May you live in interesting times” is an ancient Chinese curse – and if you are a meat eater, or indeed any other kind of eater, these are definitely interesting times.

The path forward is clear, even if you enjoy eating meat. We eat too much of it, it’s doing too much damage to the planet as well as to our health and there is an urgent need for us to cut back – or cut it out altogether.

As the recent furore over a lab grown burger has confirmed, the race to find an acceptable substitute for conventionally reared meat is well and truly on and our appetite for no-meat dishes appears to be growing. Read more.

Ecologist online
July 4, 2013

In the midst of a growing list of bizarre decisions taken by the current UK government - particularly with regard to the environment - the recent commitment to growing more genetically modified crops must surely come out on top, argues Pat Thomas...

As environment secretary Owen Paterson made his speech at Rothamstead, the location of the current GM wheat trials, the twittersphere exploded with outrage but also shame and bewilderment that our government should lend its backing to some of the boldest lies ever uttered on the subject.

Paterson's speech read like something that would have been written at the beginning of our GM learning curve rather than here at the end, when we know so much better. Given the fact that most of the rest of the world is trying to get rid of GMOs this controversial UK commitment to growing more of them seems almost inexplicable. Read more.

Some people might ask why this website, which is mostly concerned with natural health, has taken it upon itself to become more and more outspoken about genetically modified food.

Why not, instead, just post a lot of nice articles about how good organic is, rather than how bad GM is? What does GM have to do with health anyway?

Well you can bet we will be publishing lots of articles about organic – we believe it is one of the most important contributions to our health, to the health of the soil in which our food grows and to the health of the planet.

This is why the recent UK commitment to growing more GMOs is abhorrent to us. Shame on our government for giving its backing to some of the boldest lies we’ve ever heard. Two days after environment secretary Owen Paterson made his speech, and not to anyone’s surprise, a national newspaper revealed the extent to which our government ministers and regulators have crawled into bed with the biotech lobby. Now, at least, we can fully understand their enthusiasm. Read more.

Ecologist online
May 31, 2013

Earlier this month more than 2 million people worldwide joined a March Against Monsanto. Pat Thomas explains why so many people felt outraged enough to join the demonstration...

While Monsanto has become the focus of many people’s justified ire, the real issue extended beyond the company that has brought us such scientific ‘miracles’ as Agent Orange and aspartame to the continued skulduggery of all the biotech companies including Syngenta, BASF, Dow AgroSciences, Bayer CropScience and DuPont Pioneer to name a few.

Everyone who marched or supported the march had their own legitimate gripes about biotech. For me the patenting of seeds, and the patenting of DNA are among the most urgent. Using the law to stealthily take away our ownership of our food and our bodies (and possibly our health) is abhorrent.

As we monitored the progress of the marches a friend of mine asked: If you eat genetically modified food and the DNA survives inside of you, does Monsanto own you? Read more.

There is also a blog version of this post on this site, here.

Ecologist Online
April 8, 2013

Pat Thomas on why me must continue to fight against excessive pesticide use, for the sake of both humans and bees...

Imagine what it must be like to forget your way home. To not be able to communicate effectively with others, especially those you live with. To forget the faces, colours, sounds and smells that have been the landmarks in your ‘map’ of life.

These things are part of the experience of Alzheimer’s, a disease that is becoming increasingly common in our ageing population; but also one whose prevalence is rising faster than the population is ageing.

‘Losing’ your mind is NOT a normal part of ageing; something else is causing it. Two recent studies into the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides in bees only strengthen my belief that the cause is environmental. Read more.

Ecologist Online
April 4, 2013

Pat Thomas takes a look at one of the less discussed aspects of climate change - its impact on the human psyche.

Distressing, urgent news is coming at us so thick and fast at the moment that it is hard to keep up. There’s the EU’s failure to ban bee killing neonics, the UK government’s increasingly pro-GM stance, the ongoing scandals of horsemeat adulteration in our food and shockingly poor care in our hospitals.

And then there’s the weather. We are just coming off of the coldest Easter holiday on record here in the UK and I know many people who have simply given up on ever seeing a blue sky again.

Not so long ago, a day that took us from bright sunshine to a sky so dark that the street lights on my road pinged on at noon, to rain, to snow and then to hail left me so discombobulated that it brought to mind a subject that has been in my files for a a while now. Read more.

NYR Natural News
April 2, 2013

Whether you know it or not, and whether you intended to our not, you’ve probably eaten soya today.

Within a few short decades soya has infiltrated our daily diets to a spectacular degree. Believe the marketing hype and this ‘traditional’ plant-based food, which is sold in a variety of different forms, not only fights cardiovascular disease and even cancer, but helps you live longer. Read more.

NYR Natural News
March 12, 2013

Antimicrobial resistance is a ticking time-bomb not only for the UK but also for the world, warns the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The evidence behind the warning is summed up in the second volume of CMO’s annual report comes as the UK prepares to launch a new Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy and Action Plan, reflecting the need for a clear change in our understanding of and response to antimicrobial resistance by the public, NHS and government. Read more.

NYR Natural News
January 22, 2013

It never rains but it pours and in the last couple of weeks we have found ourselves in the middle of a deluge of news stories about childhood vaccinations.

Perhaps as a result, an extraordinary paper, published by a respected medical researcher, which dishes the dirt on 30 years of secret official transcripts, has resurfaced. For those that missed it the first time it is a real eye opener. Read more

NYR Natural News
November 21, 2012

You probably saw the story today: scientists have told the UK government to stop ‘over-hyping’ and ‘over-promoting’ the flu vaccine. But like good little soldiers most of these same scientists still recommended, according to the story in the Independent newspaper, “getting the jab as it is currently ‘the best we have’“ – the implication being that it may still help prevent some deaths from the flu in vulnerable individuals. Really? Read more.

NYR Natural News
September 21, 2012

The knives came out immediately in the wake of this week’s study showing that rats fed a lifelong diet of GM maize developed more and bigger breast tumours, as well as kidney and liver dysfunction.  But these comments, mostly from rent-a-quote scientists and web trolls, are too little too late.

As we noted in our early analysis of the trial and its context, this was not the first time that researchers have reported such outcomes.

The main complaint of the GM apologists to earlier studies was that laboratory studies using cells prove little and that only feeding studies using animals or humans were worth paying attention to.

Given that most of the medicines we take today, and indeed much of the ‘safety’ of GM, as defined by the biotech companies that produce it, depends on laboratory studies on cell cultures, it was a pretty poor excuse even then.

Indeed, cell culture studies are seen as a first step in any scientific process. Should such studies turn up meaningful data, the next step is to see if the effects can be replicated in lab animals or humans. Read more.

NYR Natural News
September 19, 2012

Rats fed a lifelong diet of one of the best-selling strains of genetically modified maize suffered tumours and multiple organ damage, according to a French study published today.

The report which is well-timed to support the Just Label It campaign in the US and inform the vicious battle over Proposition 37 in California, is set to add fuel to the debate over the safety – or otherwise – of GM crops.

In an unusual move, the research group behind the research did not seek outside comment on their paper before its publication in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.

This is thought to be because of very real fears (see below) that the biotech company whose maize they used, would seek to suppress their findings.

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and colleagues at the University of Caen in France  found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety from crop giant Monsanto made tolerant to repeated spraying of the best-selling weedkiller Roundup – or given water containing Roundup at levels permitted in the United States died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The researchers were looking for chronic effects from the GM feeding regime, but found more than they bargained for.  Animals on the GM diet suffered hormone imbalance and more and bigger breast tumours, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The researchers said 50% of males and 70% of females died prematurely, compared with only 30% and 20% respectively in the control group. Read more.

NYR Natural News
July 2, 2012

People eat it, animals eat it, but just how ‘safe’ is safe when it comes to GM foods?

Globally our exposure to GM organisms via food is unquantifiable. In the UK you can’t buy GM foods in the supermarket, but conventionally reared livestock are largely reared on GM feed. As the recent news story that biotech giant Syngenta hid data that proved its Bt176 maize could be lethal to livestock shows, we can’t trust the GM companies to be honest about the potential damage being done to our health.

Recently a GM pathogen new to science has been found that could well be in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn that may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock.

Does that reassure you – or make you wonder what else we don’t know about the risks of eating (and growing) GM food?

Read more.

NYR Natural News
June 19, 2012

This week the Rio +20 Summit on Sustainable Development , commemorating the 20th anniversary of the first “Earth Summit”  gets under way.

In twenty years we’ve witnessed politicians, bureaucrats, campaigners and NGOs gathering together in  meeting after meeting in glamorous cities and resorts around the world to discuss what to do about the problems of sustainability, ‘green’ economics and climate change.

This month CO2 levels reached the significant 400ppm mark – indicating we are now way beyond the point of no return (at the first Rio conference global CO2 was around 350ppm – so a relevant question would be: what good have all these expensive, wasteful, indulgent conferences really done?).

Read more.

Ecologist Online
March 8, 2012

Tested, assessed and treated as patients rather than mothers-to-be, it's no wonder women are afraid of giving birth, says Pat Thomas

A healthy woman walks into her doctor's office. She says ‘Doctor, I'd like to have major abdominal surgery, please.'

In most medical settings a doctor would balk at the idea and be very clear about the ethics of cutting open a healthy body for no good reason. But this woman is pregnant and so the doctor agrees it's probably for the best.

What both the woman and the doctor have in common is they make their decisions in a culture of fear...

Read more. This article is part of a special edition on birth; the downloadable pdf is here.

NYR Natural News
January 16, 2012

Are we fat because of man-made chemicals?
That is what a new documentary, screened last night on Canadian television, asked.

The programme, which has gained attention across the globe, is part of environmentalist David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things series. It looked at the scientific evidence showing that chemicals in the environment may be programming us to be fat. And this programming begins before we’re even born.

It’s true that, as a society, we eat too much and don’t exercise enough. But scientists around the globe have begun looking beyond the obvious causes, in part because of weight changes in a group that can’t chew, let alone jog: babies...Read more.

NYR Natural News
December 29, 2011

Fabrics treated with antibacterial chemicals are leeching these toxic substances into the environment every time they are washed, according to Swedish scientists.

As reported earlier in the year, the Swedish government has developed
national plan for a toxin free everyday environment and this latest study is part of its commitment to understand how chemicals spread throughout the environment and what their effects on human health are... Read more.

NYR Natural News
October 14, 2011

You could hardly have failed to notice the headlines this week; a new study claims to show that vitamins can kill you.

But before we find ourselves in the grip of widespread multivitamin phobia, it’s worth considering the context in which the story has appeared, as well as considering what the study actually said – versus what a sensationalist media would have you believe it said...Read more.

October 2011

It’s less than six months after a round of winter price hikes, but the UK’s energy companies are at it again. In July Scottish Power raised its gas prices by 19% and electricity prices by 10%. British Gas, now owned by Spanish giant Centrica, followed very shortly with 18% and 16% rises to its gas and electricity prices. The other four are soon expected to follow suit. 

The move places every single household in the UK under pressure and, according to the publicly funded consumer advocacy group Consumer Focus, will add £72 to average annual bills and place and extra 1 million of households into ‘fuel poverty’ – when a household is spending more than 10% of its income on keeping warm. This figure is set to rise as the other energy companies join in the price rises. Read more...

Ecologist Online
October 29, 2010

Spices don't simply add flavour to your food - they also aid digestion, protect against bacteria and prevent a range of illnesses.

Spices generally add a more pungent taste to foods. Wherever possible, it is best to buy the whole spice and grind or crush it yourself. This way the aroma will be stronger and you will benefit from more of the active ingredients. Read more...

August 26, 2010

Controversial proposals for the first UK ‘superdairy’ at Nocton, in Lincolnshire are about to be re-submitted to the planning authorities. In the face of accumulating data that intensive factory-style livestock production is cruel and polluting, the US is beginning to question the wisdom of this type of farming. Pat Thomas asks, why on earth would the UK want to adopt a system that is proven to be damaging to the health of people, animals and the planet?

“Let me put it this way” says Miyun Park, Executive Director of Global Animal Partnership “you can smell them before you see them.”

Park has firsthand experience of the concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO’s, that dominate American livestock production and has real sympathy with the battle currently brewing in the UK over whether or not to bring these intensive animal factories, which house thousands of animals, to the UK.

Three such facilities – an 8000-cow dairy farm at Nocton, Lincolnshire, a 3000-cow unit at South Witham, Lincolnshire and a 2800-sow pig unit at Foston Derbyshire – have been proposed, though due to strong local opposition, none have yet been approved. New plans have also been announced for a 1000-cow dairy farm at Leighton, near Welshpool in Wales where the cows would be kept inside for 250 days of the year.

Their sheer size is mind-boggling. The South Witham farm would be 50% larger than the UK largest existing herd of 2,000. The dairy farm at Nocton would be the largest in Western Europe, four times the size of the UKs’ largest herd and 66 times larger than the average UK herd of 120 animals. Once the litters of the sows are factored in, the pig farm at Foston could contain up to 20,000 animals at any one time, making it the largest in the UK.

According to Park there are numerous problems associated with CAFOS. High on the list are overcrowding, poor animal welfare, overuse of ‘routine’ antibiotics, and the potential to become breeding grounds for diseases such as swine and avian flu as well as E.Coli and Salmonella. There is also the problem of waste. Read more.

Ecologist Online
August 10, 2010

How to make your food your medicine and medicine your food, starting with six common herbs you can use in your recipes and everyday cooking.

The smell of our food is inexorably linked to our enjoyment of it. In fact, taste and smell are the two most directly linked of our senses. Aroma is the essence of food, but as well as making food taste good, it can also enhance our sense of well-being. Read more.

Ecologist Online
April 21, 2010

In the run up to the British general election, Pat Thomas says the various party manifestos are starved of sound policies on food security and sustainability

Food is a four letter word. Or at least that’s the impression given by the election manifestos of the main political parties. Most of the documents devote a demure handful of paragraphs to the issue of food. Reading them you’d think that Britain was populated with some sort of 61-million-strong super race that had evolved beyond the need to eat every day.

Let’s start with the common ground. All the parties promise to reform the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) – an easy promise since CAP is up for reform by 2013 anyway. Whether any of them really get the better deal for UK farmers as promised remains to be seen. Likewise most talk about reforming the EU Common Fisheries Policy – again a process that is already in place... Read

Diplomat magazine
April 2010

Pat Thomas addresses the pressures of dwindling food and water supplies, increasing prices and an expanding population 

Every era has a defining issue: in the twenty-first century, that issue will likely be global food security. A complex intersection of challenges unique to our time is at work – peak oil, climate change, declining water supplies and a burgeoning population. In order to secure our future food supply in the face of these challenges, we must begin by acknowledging their impacts in the here and now... Read more

Ecologist Online
March 16, 2010

Is it healthy? Is it 
organic? Is it fairly traded? How far has it travelled? At times, making informed choices can feel like a full-time job. Here is a pocket guide to buying food from the new book Stuffed

More than anything else, the new interest in ethical shopping indicates a break away from a consumerism based solely on economic value to one based on social values rooted in less tangible, but equally important, concepts such as connection, community and care for others - especially those who live far away.

'Caring at a distance', as ethical shopping is sometimes defined, can help to support people in the developing world. But it can also produce high levels of pollution through air miles and manufacturing emissions, and mountains of waste through the multi-layered packaging required to move goods around the globe and store them on supermarket shelves. It can also leave locally produced goods, services and communities in the UK without investment... Read more.

Ecologist Online
July 2009

A new book by WWF 'Meeting Environmental Challenges: The Role of Human Identity' makes the case for a new kind of campaigning that sees the person behind the behaviour. Pat Thomas is impressed 

In the last few years the Ecologist has published many articles that sought to shed light on the psychological aspects of environmentalism. We've looked at climate change denial as a kind of addiction.  We've looked at decoupling our identity from what we own and what we can buy, encouraging the notion that we are citizens rather than consumers.

For those of us who have been seeking to make sense of the human response to the environmental challenges we face and how it can either help to engage individuals in change, or push them further into inactivity and denial, this new book by WWF, Meeting Environmental Challenges is most welcome... Read more.

June 2009

Sustainability consultant Dr David Strong tells Pat Thomas why the way we think about sustainable building needs to be demolished and rebuilt

In the recent budget, the chancellor committed the UK to the world’s first carbon budgets, which fix binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions over five-year periods, including carbon dioxide reductions of 34 per cent by 2020.

That target may be below the recommendations of Lord Turner’s committee on climate change, but experts point out that it’s still a gargantuan task – especially given that the bulk of the savings must come from our buildings, which single-handedly account for about half of the country’s carbon emissions.

Take housing as an example. A recent report by the Economic and Social Research Council has shown that if the Government is to meet its carbon targets, virtually all of the UK’s 24 million existing homes would need some attention to reduce their carbon emissions by the required amount. To do that job over the next 40 years would mean refurbishing a city the size of Cambridge every month. That’s approximately 23,000 teams of people working on each building for a two-week period, and keeping that rate of refurbishment going non-stop for the next 500 months... Read

April 2009

In the last few years the Ecologist has written extensively on the flu – both the garden variety that strikes us on an annual basis and the wider threat of avian influenza, H5N1.

The latest H1N1 virus is somewhat more worrying than H5N1 because of the greater ease with which swine viruses can be passed from pig to human, and thereafter from human to human. Pigs are very efficient vectors for human disease, as the recent Ecologist Film Unit documentary short, Sick as a Pig, which details the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria amongst pig farmers, details shows so graphically.

Understanding this, however, does not tackle the actual root of the problem.

The Ecologist’s position on the current swine flu outbreak is much as it was when the first reports of avian influenza surfaced in 2006. Until government and public health officials look at the entire picture of the aetiology of the disease they will not be able to contain this outbreak, or prevent similar, future outbreaks.

It is disappointing that, so far, very little of the press coverage has focused on the role of factory farming... Read more.

March 2009

A little bit of natural seasoning won’t kill you, it’s what gets added – or taken away – that matters. Pat Thomas explains why refining and demonising salt is such a crude response

There was a time when salt was worth its weight in gold – literally. And quite right too. Without salt, life would cease. Your muscles would not function, your ability to think would be impaired, your memory would fail and your heart would stop beating. And yet today salt is the demon of the diet world... Read more.

February 2009

In response to Geographical’s special issue on the future of travel, Pat Thomas, editor of the Ecologist, pulls no punches as she offers her assessment of exactly what’s wrong with the global tourism industry...Read 

November 2008

Genetically modified food. It’s a big issue. Increasingly, we are handed the notion that GM food is just like any other food, only better, because of its almost magical power to solve our most immediate crises of poverty, hunger, fossil-fuel depletion and climate change.

In a world where we are daily met with the grief of an imploding financial system and the day-to-day hardships of making ends meet, it’s understandable to want to believe in such easy magic... Read more.

November 2008

The Government and Big Biotech say GM food is safe to eat, but with no trials conducted on humans, what they call ‘safe’ and what we call ‘safe’ may be two very different things. Pat Thomas reports. Not online.

November 2008

Growing anxiety, growing concern, growing doubts, growing uncertainty. If you are one of a growing number of people who want to be heard on the subject of GM, and to find out how you can become involved in keeping the future GM-free, here are some places to start. Read more.

March 2008

Don’t believe everything you hear or read, warns Pat Thomas. There really isn’t an agricultural bright side to rising levels of CO2. Not online.

October 2007

To understand the way climate change is going to affect our health and wellbeing, maybe we need to start looking at the smaller picture, argues Pat Thomas 

Earlier in the year, a team of British scientists announced that they had found the key to halting the spread of malaria, a disease that kills more than a million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. All they had to do was release genetically modified mosquitoes, incapable of passing the plasmodium parasite, into the wild. The GM mossies being a little more fit than the natural ones, would live longer and lay more eggs and eventually become the dominant species in any mosquito-friendly habitat. Problem solved.

The story was important for two reasons, firstly because of its absurd presumptions about the safety of this endeavour, and secondly because as our climate changes, malaria – along with most other vector-borne diseases – is set to become a worldwide problem...

That climate change will redefine what we know about health and disease is a certainty and yet our understanding of how it will change everything remains very limited and focused on the obvious.

Not available online.

The Independent
15 October 2007

The new editor of 'The Ecologist' is here to make changes. But though the articles may be fluffier, her magazine will still be campaigning hard, she tells Andrew Wasley. Read

Interview: Editor of The Ecologist
Suite 101
September 2007

Although organic and Fairtrade produce are more popular than ever, some consumers are starting to question the honesty of organic produce and worthiness of Fairtrade. The editor of leading green journal The Ecologist, shares her knowledge with Suite 101 readers. Read

June 2007

Recent reports of catastrophic declines in bee populations have had scientists buzzing around looking for a plausible explanation. Is it mites? Is it GM crops? Is it mobile phones or habitat loss? It's all of these things, says Pat Thomas, but it's also so much more than that

Forget everything you thought you knew about the sedate and rarefied world of beekeeping. Bees are big business. In 2006, a Cornell University study found that in the USA, bees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seed and crops - mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts. In the UK they are responsible for the pollination of around £200 million worth of food crops.

Bees' role in the natural order of our world is crucial and their importance as pollinators, both for agriculture and for wild plants, can't be underestimated. Nor can it simply be quantified in monetary terms. Bees are what is known as a keystone species, ensuring the continued reproduction and survival not only of plants but other organisms that depend on those plants for survival. Once a keystone species disappears, other species begin to disappear too - thus Albert Einstein's apocalyptic and, these days, oft-quoted view: 'If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.'

This vision may be coming true. Our bees are dying. In record numbers. The recent disappearance of catastrophic numbers of bees... Read

This article also appears in ODE magazine, 

May 2007

What does Douglas Gowan know that everyone else wants to keep hidden? For 40 years the story of Brofiscin Quarry – now the most polluted place in the UK – has been suppressed.For 40 years the story of Brofiscin  Quarry –  now the most polluted place in the UK –   has been   suppressed. Documents have been mysteriously lost, witnesses silenced, scientific data ignored. But like the periodic explosions that issue from the depth of the quarry, the truth has a way of blowing up in our faces. Jon Hughes and Pat Thomas report

Witness protection schemes are normally the preserve of supergrasses or The Sopranos, not people who volunteer evidence in response to a public appeal from a government agency. But that is the position 64-year-old Douglas Gowan finds himself in, having spent the past six months living under police protection.

Since volunteering his evidence to the Environment Agency in early 2006 this retired corporate finance director has been subject to death threats, threatening callers to his door and numerous attempted break- ins. Consequently, at the turn of April his protection officers began to talk of placing him under witness protection.

Palpably Gowan knows something that someone, somewhere, wants suppressed. His misfortune is to be the sole surviving eyewitness who is prepared to speak out about Monsanto’s cavalier... Read more.

Jon Hughes & Pat Thomas
June 2007

The Environment Agency (EA) is within weeks of letting Monsanto escape its liability for dumping thousands of tonnes of cancer-causing chemicals – including all the ingredients of the DDT defoliant Agent Orange – in two quarries in Wales.

Unless a claim and ‘adversary action’ is lodged with the US bankruptcy courts (USBC) within around four weeks, the UK taxpayer faces picking up a bill for hundreds of millions of pounds to safeguard the environment and public health.

Yet for the past few months the Agency has stonewalled the one remaining eyewitness to events as they unfolded in 1967 onwards, and who is prepared to speak out. This man, who now carries a panic button at all times, also has a dedicated police protection officer supervising protective devices installed at his house because of the threats that he has received.

From 1967 to 1974, Douglas Gowan represented farmers in the Taff area of South Wales, primarily as a legal adviser with an expertise in toxicology, having first gone to the area to investigate mysterious cattle and sheep deaths, and the abortions occurring in livestock, as a field officer for the National Farmers Union (NFU). He traced the likely cause of the deaths and abortions back to the Monsanto chemical plant in nearby Newport, where significant amounts of waste were being hauled daily to a nearby limestone landfill site operated by Purle Brothers.

The Monsanto plant, having been exposed for dumping... Read more.

April 2007

Ethical consumerism in the UK is currently worth £29.3 billion, yet 60 per cent of us feel we don't have enough information to make an ethical decision. There is an ever-growing array of eco labels, but what do they tell us? Or fail to tell us? Pat Thomas explains

Click on a logo to uncover some uncomfortable truths... Read more.

March 2007

In his final State of the Union address, George Bush announced his support for the adoption of biofuels on a massive scale. But is the plan such a good idea? By Pat Thomas

There is an old saying: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In the current scramble to face up to the realities of climate change and the current peak oil demand, pundits on both sides of the ecological debate have embraced the concept of biofuels – renewable fuels derived from vegetable matter – as an effective solution to the impending global crisis.

The theory seems simple enough. By burning plant-derived energy we are burning a carbon-neutral fuel, because the CO2 released through combustion of plant fuels is equal to what the plant took out of the atmosphere in the first place.

But the science is far from complete, the energy savings far from convincing and, although many see biofuels as a way to avoid the kind of resource wars currently raging in the Middle East and elsewhere, going down that road may in the end provoke a wider series of resource wars – this time over food, water and habitable land.

The scale of Bush’s and others enthusiasm for biofuels, seems, once one knows the details, to make little sense. Except perhaps as one of the biggest global investment opportunities in decades...Read more.

March 2007

We didn’t want GM on your table, but the crucial question now is, will we allow it in our tanks? Robin Maynard and Pat Thomas report

In recent years, as horror headlines about genetically modified (GM) crops have vanished from the mainstream media, it may have seemed as if those battling to stop them being produced had won.

In reality, the lack of GM fanfare has been little more than a quiet moment before the storm. The ability of biotech companies like Monsanto and Syngenta to improve agricultural production is viewed as a lynchpin in the success or failure of the biofuels revolution. If the biotech industry can cleverly reposition GM crops as a non-food, industrial ‘green’ energy commodity, it might just succeed in persuading an otherwise reluctant public that GM is a good thing.

Biotech companies aim to do this in two ways. The first is the genetic modification of crops such as corn, to increase drought resistance and yield and to reduce the cost or increase the efficiency of ethanol production. The second is the creation of powerful enzymes that will efficiently convert crop waste or plants such as switchgrass, which consists largely of hard-to-break-down cellulose, into ethanol.

It is estimated that it will take 10 to 15 years of research and development work to make the latter... Read

December 2006

It’s easy to feel so overwhelmed by the problems facing our planet that we turn away to whatever will cheer us. Pat Thomas shows us the pattern of climate change denial

We live in a world haunted by the issue of climate change. A world with problems seemingly so severe and out of control that to stop and think about them is to risk intellectual and emotional paralysis. So we take the issue apart in small doses and sugar the pill with familiar, but ultimately destructive, distractions wherever we can.

Witness the papers on the day the Stern report was published. The front pages told us that the problem of climate change was official and real and important – as if it hadn’t been just one day before. But elsewhere in the daily papers there was little comment or analysis of the report’s implications. Instead it was business as usual – with some of the financial pages reporting, for instance, that Quantas had ordered eight new airbus A380 superjets; while others fêted the arrival of the first long-haul airline to offer non-stop flights from Gatwick to Hong Kong for just £75 one way.

The Times encouraged readers to start collecting its air miles, and boasted a free flight to Europe for every reader. The Independent...Read

Older articles here...

NYR Natural News
June 25, 2013