Daily Archives: September 6, 2011

Seaweed, Barbados and scientific illiteracy

Wuhloss! Seaweed is fouling our beaches. What do we do?

No need for another government study: the knowledge already exists for those who read.

by Dr. Robert D. Lucas

Recently, in the local media, there has been much concern by the authorities about the abundance of seaweed, which has been accumulating on beaches around the Island. This concern is mainly centered on the adverse reaction of tourist to the presence of seaweed on the beaches. Additionally, many suggestions for utilization of the seaweed have been put forward.

Indeed, according to local news reports, one government institution has been empowered to investigate the properties of the seaweed, in an effort to find some type of utilization for it.

Let me reiterate what I have said in the past:

“The majority of Barbadians are scientific illiterates and this illiteracy is compounded by the fact that reading seems not to be a widespread vocation on this Island.”

Seaweeds have been used in the food industry for thousands of years (in China around 600 BCE and in Ireland around 400 CE) and form a group of compounds called hydrocolloids. One particular hydrocolloid which is obtained from various species of red seaweed is called carrageenan. Carrageenan is used in food to affect its texture amongst other things. Continue reading

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