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Can DNA Be Used To Bust Owners Of Dog Poop Left Behind?

Munich considers a different kind of police sweep of the city streets.

It just won't doo
It just won't doo
Dominik Hutter

MUNICH — This is DNA testing that reaches where you might not expect.

A city of Munich proposal aims to record the genetic makeup of all Munich dogs in a single database to better find the offending owners who do not clean up after their pets.

Munich city council members of the political party "Civil Middle" are demanding a new system where authorities literally sweep the streets to collect and test samples of the dogs' dumpings in order to find the culprit via DNA analysis.

Since a dog is not a legal entity and therefore cannot be prosecuted, its owner will be forced to pay a hefty fine.

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In Munich — Photo: Rudi Riet

It is, however, still an open question as to whether this procedure would interfere with data protection acts enacted by the city. Seeing as this scenario could only work if all dogs provide a highly intimate sample of their genotype to create a database, it is a grey area regarding privacy.

It is also going to be a costly affair to create an animal police state, though Civil Middle members say that the costs will be paid for by collecting the fines off perpetrators. Some U.S. localities, as well as London and Naples, Italy, are experimenting with new ways to track down dog owners with bad sense of civics (or smell).

But what would happen if animal rights activists were to insist upon introducing the principle of equality before the law on this front? There are of course also cats and horses and other farm animals that leave the business behind — their DNA would have to be tracked accordingly. And, some even wonder, what about those humans who each autumn relieve themselves up and down Oktoberfest?

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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