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Concocted In Russia, New Designer Drug “Krokodil” Has A Deadly Bite

Officials believe the drug, which is a mix that includes codeine and paint thinner, has arrived in Germany. Sold as a heroin substitute, "Krokodil" users only realize much later that they have consumed a substance that results in extreme

Concocted In Russia, New Designer Drug “Krokodil” Has A Deadly Bite

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES

Codeine, benzine, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid and red phosphorus – that's what goes into "Krokodil," a drug that originated in Russia and is believed to have now hit Western Europe. In Germany, workers in drug cafés have reported seeing "disastrous skin conditions and damage to soft tissue" among Krokodil users.

Police in Frankfurt and Bochum have so far been unable to confirm the presence of the drug, but experts say that the physical reactions observed in certain addicts indicate that they are caused by the drug.

Many users don't know what is in the drug, the effects of which make crystal meth look benign by comparison. In Russia, cough medicine and headache medication containing codeine can be bought without a prescription, allowing addicts to mix the drug cocktail themselves.

The name crocodile is believed to be derived from the infections around the injection areas where the skin turns green and dies. The scaly green condition spreads to the rest of the body and the toxic drug also effects bone tissue, eating away at users from the inside. Amputations are sometimes necessary, but users usually don't live for more than two to three years after starting to use this highly addictive drug.

Use of the drug is growing in Russia because it is cheap: one dose costs about 5 euros (as opposed to 50 euros for heroin), but the resulting euphoria is similar to that experienced by heroin users. Many heroin addicts who can no longer afford that drug switch over to "Krokodil," even though the effects last for less than two hours.

Experts believe that since codeine is not available without a prescription in German pharmacies, the drug is made in Russia, transported along the usual drug routes – Warsaw, Berlin, Hanover – to the rest of Germany, and sold as heroin to users.

Since the immediate effects of "Krokodil" are similar to those of heroin, users may have to use it for two or three weeks before becoming aware of the dangerous side-effects and thus realzing that what they were sold was something other than heroin.

Read the full original article in German by Julia Gleixner

Photo - CrashTestAddict

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Feed The Future

COP26 Should Mark A Turning Point In Solving The Climate Crisis

Slow Food calls for an action plan to significantly reduce and improve the production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by 2050.

A new dawn?




If, as the saying goes, we are what we eat, the same also goes for the animals that end up on our plate. How we feed our own food can have knock-on effects, not just for our own health but also for the planet. We are now aware of the meat and dairy industry's significant carbon footprint, responsible for more than a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

Large-scale cattle productions that favor pure profit over more sustainable practices also add to environmental woes through biodiversity loss, deforestation and pesticide use — with some of the world's richest countries contributing disproportionately: The five biggest meat and milk producers emit the same amount of greenhouse gases as the oil giant Exxon.

The good news is that we could meet — if we would — some of these challenges with an array of innovative solutions, as the fields of farming, breeding and nutrition look at ways to shift from centralized intensive agro industry toward a more localized, smaller-scale and more organic approach to production.

Cows fed corn and grain-based diets may grow larger and are ready to be processed at a younger age — but this requires significant energy, as well as land and water resources; in contrast, grass and hay-fed cows support a regenerative farming model in which grazing can contribute to restoring the health of soil through increased microbial diversity. Compared to highly processed GM crops, natural-grass diets with minimal cereals also lead to more nutrient-rich livestock, producing better quality meat, milk and cheese. Farmers have started focusing on breeding native animal species that are best adapted to local environmental contexts.

This new approach to agricultural practices is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, where farming works in tandem with the environment instead of exploiting it. If mowed a few times a year, for instance, natural meadows produce hay that is rich in grasses, legumes and flowers of the sunflower family, like daisies, dandelions, thistles and cornflowers. These biomes become reservoirs of biodiversity for our countryside, hosting countless species of vegetables, insects and birds, many of which are at risk of extinction. Until recently, these were common habitats in meadows that were not plugged or tilled and only required light fertilization. Today, however, they are becoming increasingly threatened: in the plains, where the terrain is used for monocultures like corn; or in hills and mountains, where fields are facing gradual abandonment.

It is worth noting that extensive agriculture, which requires smaller amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of farmed land, can actually help curb climate change effects through carbon dioxide absorption. Researchers at the University of California, Davis determined that in their state, grasslands and rangelands have actually acted as more resilient carbon sinks than forests in recent years. Through a system of carbon uptake, these lands provide a form of natural compensation, going as far as canceling the farms' impact on the planet, rendering them carbon "creditors."

In the meantime, grasslands and pastures allow animals to live in accordance with their natural behavioral needs, spending most of the year outside being raised by bonafide farmers who care about animal welfare. A recent study by Nature found that allowing cows to graze out of doors has both psychological and physical health benefits, as they seem to enjoy the open space and ability to lie on the soft ground.

Some might worry about the economic losses that come with this slower and smaller business model, but there are also opportunities for creativity in diversifying activities, like agro-tourism and direct sales that can actually increase a farm's profit margin. This form of sustainable production goes hand-in-hand with the Slow Meat campaign, which encourages people to reduce their meat consumption while buying better quality, sustainable meat.

Others may assume that the only environmentally-conscious diet is entirely plant-based. That is indeed a valuable and viable option, but there are also thoughtful ways to consume meat in moderation — and more sustainably. It also should be noted that many fruits and vegetables have surprisingly large carbon footprints: The industrial-scale cultivation of avocados, for example, requires massive amounts of water and causes great hardship to farming communities in Latin America.

But forging a broad shift toward more "biodiversity-friendly" pastoralism requires action by both those producing and eating meat, and those with the legislative power to enact industry-wide change. It is urgent that policies be put into place to support a return to long-established agricultural practices that can sustainably feed future generations. Although no country in the world today has a defined strategy to decrease consumption while transforming production, governments are bound to play a key role in the green transition, present and future.

In Europe, Slow Food recommends that the Fit for 55 package include reducing emissions from agriculture activities by 65% (based on 2005 levels) by 2050. Agriculture-related land use emissions should also reach net-zero by 2040 and become a sink of -150 Mt CO2eq by 2050. But these targets can only be met if the EU farming sector adopts agroecological practices at a regional scale, and if consumers shift to more sustainable diets. If we are indeed what we eat, we should also care deeply about how the choices we make impact the planet that feeds us.

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