Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Don't Just Read the News -- Read It and Think

Excerpt One:
Nicotine as Therapy
November 2004
[...] Although the analgesic effect of drugs that mimic acetylcholine were originally attributed to a different class of receptors, it is now clear that nAChRs play an important role in the control of pain. For instance, epibatidine, a drug that is extracted from the skin of an Ecuadorian frog and that acts at nAChRs, has been shown to be 200 times more potent than morphine at blocking pain in animals. Current animal research is aimed at discovering just where, how, and which classes of nAChRs work against pain, with the aim of developing more selective drugs. [...]
Excerpt Two:
Teen Drug Use Declines 2003-2004 - But Concerns Remain About Inhalants and Painkillers
December 21, 2004

[...] The survey noted some areas that raise concern. For example, while the rates of Vicodin abuse did not change significantly from 2003 to 2004, Vicodin was used by 9.3% of 12th graders, 6.2% of 10th graders and 2.5% of 8th graders in the past year. OxyContin was used in the past year by 5% of 12th graders, 3.5% of 10th graders and 1.7% of 8th graders in 2004. These rates were not significantly different from the rates in 2003; however, when all three grades were combined, there was a significant increase in past year OxyContin use between 2002 and 2004. [...]
Excerpt Three:
Dec 22, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC – The Bush Administration today finalized new forest policy regulations that potentially open millions of acres of national forests to logging and mining projects with little or no attention given to the effect those projects would have on wildlife and the environment. The regulations reverse decades of progress toward responsible forest management and represent another serious blow, along with the Bush Administration’s “Healthy Forests Initiative,” to sound management of the public’s 191 million acre national forest system.

“The President’s forest regulations are an early Christmas gift to the timber industry masquerading as a government streamlining measure,” said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife. “This is all about opening more and more forested lands to unsustainable logging with no regard for environmental impact.”

“The new regulations jeopardize important wildlife habitat and put more species at risk of endangerment and extinction. They toss aside decades of bipartisan consensus on forest protection and fly in the face of the recommendations of hundreds of scientists and expert policy makers,” continued Schlickeisen. [emphasis added] [...]
What kind of bootscraper would call legislation the "Healthy Forest Initiative," when it obviously has nothing to do with healthy anything.  A damn liar -- the same liar we just reelected.  But that is a rant tangent. 

The real point of this post is this: obscure species are extremely valuable resources.  An Ecuadorian frog has provided us with a molecule that may help with the problem of drug abuse, not to mention the problem of chronic pain.  Any policy that erodes the protection of endangered species is foolish and short-sighted.