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Aug 27, 2007
Focus: Health
Action Request: Various
Location: United States
A new study in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that organic tomatoes are twice as high in flavanoids as conventional tomatoes. Flavanoids protect against heart disease and other chronic ailments. Researchers analyzed and compared organic to conventional tomatoes over a ten year period. The organic tomatoes not only scored better, but their flavanoid levels actually increased over time. Prior similar studies have found organic foods to have higher levels of a variety of vitamins and minerals. Scientists attribute the higher quality of organic foods to the healthier soil on organic farms.
Read full study here:

Another related study, published this month in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that organic dairy and meat products in a mother's diet positively affect the nutritional quality of her breast milk by increasing beneficial fatty acids. "These findings provide scientific support for common sense, by showing that organic foods are healthier," says Dr. Lukas Rist, who is the lead author of the study and the head of research at the Paracelsus Hospital in Switzerland. The study involved 312 breastfeeding women with 1-month old infants from the Netherlands.
Read the full study here:
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Posted: Aug 27, 2007 9:01pm
Jul 31, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Read
Location: United States
  • Sustainability Not Just about 'Saving the Earth' for Consumers According to a New Hartman Group Report
    PR Web, 5/29/2007
    Straight to the Source

According to the report released by The Hartman Group the term "sustainability," while widely used by the media and industry, has little to no meaning to consumers, they ascribe very different personal meanings to this term. The newest report released by The Hartman Group, The Hartman Report on Sustainability: Understanding the Consumer Perspective, examines how public perception of sustainability affects consumer behavior.

According to the report released by The Hartman Group the term "sustainability," while widely used by the media and industry, has little to no meaning to consumers, they ascribe very different personal meanings to this term. The newest report released by The Hartman Group, The Hartman Report on Sustainability: Understanding the Consumer Perspective, examines how public perception of sustainability affects consumer behavior.

The report finds that just over half (54%) of consumers claim any familiarity at all with the term "sustainability" and most of these consumers cannot define it appropriately upon probing. Only 5% indicate they know which companies support sustainability values. Only 12% indicate they know where to buy products from such companies.

Sustainability is not seen by consumers as simply 'saving the Earth.' It is a multi-dimensional topic that encompasses the environment, the family, the community and even the economy of today's world "Sustainability is not seen by consumers as simply 'saving the Earth.' It is a multi-dimensional topic that encompasses the environment, the family, the community and even the economy of today's world," said Laurie Demeritt, President and COO for The Hartman Group. "Many of the consumer values driving the interest in health and wellness stem from a foundation of sustainability. Sustainability, in a sense, is about preserving a certain condition or way of life; the ability to control one's surroundings."

According to The Hartman Report on Sustainability, while most consumers have a limited understanding of the broad concept of sustainability, consumer engagement can be described in varying degrees of "sustainability consciousness." This refers to the way people link everyday life to "big" problems (e.g., food, water and air quality). The report finds that 72% of US consumers believe their purchases have significant impact on society. Additionally, a full 71% say they are "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to pay a 10% premium for sustainable products.

"The dynamics of sustainability in American consumer culture will continue to change and evolve, just as dynamics behind so-called 'green' and 'environmental' markets have evolved. For those involved with speaking to consumers from a platform of sustainability, we feel that it is important to reiterate that we are currently experiencing a significant cultural shift in which consumers will continue to adapt their behavior to align with companies, products, and services which they find to be relevant to their current lifestyle," said Harvey Hartman, Founder, Chairman & CEO.

About the Report: The Hartman Report on Sustainability: Understanding the Consumer Perspective is the first major integrated quantitative and qualitative study to find out how consumers feel about a world struggling to live in balance today for the benefit of future generations. The research for this report was conducted in the winter of 2007 and includes 150 hours of ethnographic research as well as a national quantitative survey with 1,606 respondents.

About The Hartman Group: The Hartman Group, Inc., founded 1989, is a full-service consulting and market research firm offering a wide range of services and products specializing on the health and wellness markets. The company's headquarters are located in Bellevue, Washington.

Additional information about The Hartman Report on Sustainability: Understanding the Consumer Perspective can be found at The Hartman Group website -
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Posted: Jul 31, 2007 5:57am
Jun 5, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Think About
Location: United States

World Population Becomes More Urban than Rural

May 29, 2007 A major milestone occurred last week, when the earth's population became more urban than rural - though only a symbolic date calculated from an estimation, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, represents a major demographic milestone and is sometimes referred to as the "Urban Millennium." The last century has seen the rapid urbanization of the world's population", as the global proportion of urban population rose from 13% (220 million) in 1900, to 29% (732 million) in 1950, to 49% (3.2 billion) in 2005. By 2050 over 6 billion people, two thirds of humanity, will be living in towns and cities.

Working with United Nations estimates that predict the world will be 51.3 percent urban by 2010, the researchers projected the May 23, 2007, transition day based on the average daily rural and urban population increases from 2005 to 2010.

The researchers - Dr. Ron Wimberley, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at NC State; Dr. Libby Morris, director of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia; and Dr. Gregory Fulkerson, a sociologist at NC State - advise avoiding the urge to interpret this demographic transition to mean that the urban population has greater importance than the rural.

Urban and rural populations, they say, rely heavily on each other.

Cities refine and process rural goods for urban and rural consumers. But if either cities or rural areas had to sustain themselves without the other, Wimberley says, few would bet on the cities.

"As long as cities exist, they will need rural resources - including the rural people and communities that help provide urban necessities," he said. "Clean air, water, food, fiber, forest products and minerals all have their sources in rural areas. Cities cannot stand alone; rural natural resources can. Cities must depend on rural resources."

In the United States, the tipping point from a majority rural to a majority urban population came early in the late 1910s, the researchers say. Today, 21 percent of our country is rural although some states - Maine, Mississippi, Vermont, and West Virginia - are still majority rural. In North Carolina, a rural majority held until the late 1980s.

Although rural natural and social resources are necessary for urban people and places, the researchers say rural people do not fare well relative to their urban counterparts. Maps of U.S. quality-of-life conditions show that poverty and low education attainment are concentrated in rural areas - especially the rural South - where the nation's food, water and forest resources exist.

Over much of the globe, rural poverty is much worse than in the United States. Findings by the International Fund for Agricultural Development show that 1.2 billion of the world's people live on less than what a dollar a day can buy. Globally, three-fourths of these poor people live in rural areas.

The researchers add that, in addition to having a highly disproportionate share of the world's poverty, rural areas also get the urban garbage. In exchange for useable natural resources produced by rural people for urban dwellers, rural places receive the waste products - polluted air, contaminated water, and solid and hazardous wastes - discharged by those in cities.

Wimberley says that May 23, 2007, marks a "mayday" call for all concerned citizens of the world.

"So far, cities are getting whatever resource needs that can be had from rural areas," he said. "But given global rural impoverishment, the rural-urban question for the future is not just what rural people and places can do for the world's new urban majority. Rather, what can the urban majority do for poor rural people and the resources upon which cities depend for existence? The sustainable future of the new urban world may well depend upon the answer."
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Posted: Jun 5, 2007 7:15am
Feb 28, 2007
Focus: Corporate Responsibility
Action Request: Various
Location: United States


Feb 23 - Farm groups fighting boycotts by animal rights groups have been given more firepower by the Federal Government.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will now be able to take legal action on behalf of those who have suffered losses or damage.

Wool growers have been targeted by the animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), over the practice of mulesing and the live export trade.

Australian Wool Innovation spokesman Les Targ says the decision will help farmers trying to combat boycott campaigns on their own.

"To the extent that the law will be clarified, to make it very clear that sort of activity is illegal under the Trade Practices Act, we welcome it," he said.

"The second leg is that it'll be the ACCC that has the powers to prosecute rather than the livestock industries themselves."
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Posted: Feb 28, 2007 3:14am
Jan 30, 2007
Focus: Environment
Action Request: Read
Location: United States

Use Co-op America's resources to tell publishers you want them to help stop deforestation.  Our WoodWise Web site gives you sample templates of effective letters to magazine publishers, or write your own letter, reminding publishers that forest loss is a slow death sentence for the many species that depend on them – including humans. 

There's no reason to cut down forests for short-term uses like magazines.  Nearly all of the 12 billion magazines printed in the US are thrown away every year.  Less than 5 percent of the paper they are printed on is recycled.  You can change that – urge the magazines you read to print on recycled paper. 

Tell them you'd like to see their magazine join our eco-paper magazine network, along with titles like the following, who are recent joiners:

  • Nick Magazine, Nickelodeon's magazine for kids, which has been using recycled for more than a year now,
  • Transitions Abroad, which printed its November/December 2006 "Responsible Travel" issue on recycled paper, with help from our WoodWise program director, Frank Locantore.  (They liked it so much they're switching for future publications!), and
  • Verdant Magazine, a new magazine about green living, launching in 2007.
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Posted: Jan 30, 2007 7:56am
Jan 11, 2007
Focus: Politics
Action Request: Various
Location: Sudan
Darfur: Do We Need More Facts?

The UN Human Rights Council has decided to send a fact-finding mission of five "highly qualified persons" plus the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan to make recommendations to the government of Sudan and the Darfur insurgencies. This is an important step to bring to an end a conflict which began in 2003 and is growing more destructive each day.

The UN Human Rights Council, the 47-member replacement of the Commission of Human Rights held a two-day Special Session 12-13 December 2006 devoted to Darfur, Sudan.  The Council heard 30 Council member states, 40 UN member states which can come to the Council as observers with the right to speak but not vote, 5 UN Specialized Agencies such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as well as 19 NGOs.   Some of the NGO speakers had come from working in Darfur or neighboring Chad.

A Special Session is the “highest profile” event which the UN human rights bodies can organize, and in the Commission on Human Rights’ 61 year history there were very few.  The Special Sessions on former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were outstanding events. The transition from the Commission on Human Rights to the Human Rights Council at the start of 2006 required writing new rules of procedure. The holding of Special Sessions was made easier by lowering the number of states needed to sign a request to hold a Special Session. 

The 12 July-14 August 2006 war in Lebanon was the first real test of the way the new Human Rights Council would work.  Two Special Sessions were called closely together to deal with Lebanon and a Third Special Session was called to deal with the continuing violence in Gaza and the West Bank in Palestine.  The Special Sessions were called, largely as a reaction to the failure of the UN Security Council to demand a cease-fire but without thinking out in advance the role of human rights in reaching a compromise solution to the conflicts in the Middle East.  There have been an endless number of resolutions in the Commission on Human Rights concerning Israel and Palestine, mostly critical of Israel.  However, there has been little change on the ground.  Some NGO representatives had hoped that the change from the Commission to the Council would bring about changes in the way of working.  The hope was that there would be careful analysis of the purpose and possible impact of resolutions.  However, in a rush to react to real violence and despair in Lebanon and Palestine, resolutions whose wording differed little from past condemnation of Israeli behaviour were adopted.


In order to give some teeth to the resolutions and to mark a difference from the Commission resolutions, it was decided to send a team of Special Rapporteurs to Lebanon and Israel and to report back.  The Special Rapporteurs were a creation of the Commission on Human Rights, largely in response to growing awareness of a problem.  The Human Rights Council has decided to continue these Special Rapporteurs for one year during which there is a governmental review of their objectives and roles.  NGO representatives fear that the governments want to abolish the Special Rapporteurs as the Special Rapporteurs are named as independent experts and some have been highly critical of government actions.   Nevertheless, for 2006, they have been particularly active and have started working together or making joint statements or appeals.  It may be that this “higher profile” of Special Rapporteurs will prevent governments from abolishing them or limiting their capacity to work.


The following Special Rapporteurs and their UN Secretariat staff went to Israel and Lebanon from 7 to 16 September :

            Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;

            Paul Hunt, Special Rapporteur on physical and mental health;

            Walter Kalin, Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons;

            Miloon Kothari, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing;

            Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the right to food.


The five Special Rapporteurs went to Lebanon and Israel and made a well-documented report.  While there were useful recommendations made to the government of Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah, there were few new avenues of action proposed.  The most telling contribution was the section by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, who stressed the impact of cluster bombs in preventing agriculture in south Lebanon.  His report has helped to highlight the destructive quality of cluster bombs and the need to work for a ban on the use, manufacture and transfer of cluster bombs — an effort now undertaken led by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the government of Norway.


In the light of the dramatic recent worsening of the situation in Darfur, the spreading of the conflict to Chad and the Central African Republic, could the Human Rights Council do less than also send a team to collect facts and make recommendations?  Currently, ever-larger areas of the three Sudanese provinces of Darfur are the scene of fighting. More and more people are displaced within Darfur.  The luckier ones are able to cross the frontier into eastern Chad, but the situation in Chad is increasingly unstable as insurgencies wanting to overthrow the government of Chad mix with those of related tribal backgrounds in Darfur. The fighting in Darfur is also spilling over into the Central African Republic — a poor country with a fragile government.  There is a real danger of regional instability.


Although the insurgency in Darfur began in 2003, it was really only in 2004 that the UN humanitarian agencies and international NGOs started highlighting what was going on.  While there are currently parts of Darfur where UN and NGO aid workers cannot go due to the lack of minimum security, there have been highly detailed reports on the systematic destruction of peoples, the uprooting of communities and the destruction of economic infrastructure.  Louise Arbor, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Special Session that there was “credible evidence” that the Sudanese military was responsible for ground attacks and aerial bombardments.


With so much information on Darfur available, what is the value of a fact-finding mission of five “highly qualified persons” – as yet unnamed by the Council Chairman, Ambassador Luis De Alba of Mexico?


The value of the fact finding report is not for the additional information to the UN and the NGO world which is already well informed from aid agencies working in the area. The value will depend on the way in which factions in the government of Sudan and the insurgencies use the report to justify policies which they have already chosen for other reasons.  A UN report can serve in some ways like the Baker Commission report on Iraq.  It says nothing that people interested did not know already from other sources.  However, the Baker report can serve to legitimize those who see the need to talk to the governments of Syria and Iran and to those who want to start planning a withdrawal of troops.  The “wise men” status of the Baker Commission offers a justification for those in decision-making positions to raise issues that had not had high profile debate before.


In Sudan, both the government and the Darfur insurgencies are “closed societies” with no public debate and repression against those who do not follow the &ldquoarty line”. Thus we can only assume that there are factions who see the “dead end” quality of the current warfare and who are ready to negotiate a real settlement based on sharing power and revenue and starting a development program so that people in Darfur see some rapid improvements in their standard of living.  Such people are probably in a minority and not at the highest level of power either in the government or the insurgencies.  Unless they can say “international opinion holds that a  continuation of violence and counter-violence leads nowhere”, their policy proposals will not be heard.  Thus they need support from outside such as the UN fact-finding team and from calmer civil society voices within Sudan.


It is only a guess that such people exist and will take the chance of coming to the fore. We will have to see who the wise men are and what their recommendations will be.  However those of us concerned must be prepared to highlight the report so that it does not end, as too many UN documents, as just file numbers.




            Rene Wadlow is the editor of the online journal of world politics

   and an NGO representative

            to the United Nations, Geneva.  
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Posted: Jan 11, 2007 9:37pm
Nov 8, 2006
Focus: Media
Action Request: Read
Location: United States
Check it out sometimes, looks good!
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Posted: Nov 8, 2006 7:32am
Jun 3, 2006
Eat more fruits, vegetables to avoid wrinkles
Berlin | April 18, 2006 1:15:09 AM IST

People who eat lots of fruit and vegetables are likely to have fewer wrinkles, says a new study.

People with a normal diet can make their skin look younger by including lots of tomatoes and red paprika in their meals, German magazine The Dermatologist said in its latest issue.

Free radicals - unstable oxygen molecules - are a major factor in premature skin aging and skin cancer. Antioxidants contained in the body stop free-radical damage.

However, the body cannot produce enough antioxidants on its own and has to make up for them with ingredients such as Vitamins A, C, D and E as well as beta-carotene.

Vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, paprika and kale contain plenty of antioxidants, as does green tea.

A study conducted at the Berlin Charite hospital found that people with a high concentration of antioxidants in the skin look younger because they have fewer wrinkles, The Dermatologist said.

The study showed that vegetarians had more antioxidants in their bodies than non-vegetarians.

The magazine warned that an "overdose" of antioxidants through a large intake of food supplements could accelerate free radical damage. However, this was unlikely if supplements were omitted and fruit and vegetables were eaten instead.


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Posted: Jun 3, 2006 10:56am
Apr 30, 2006

Vegetarians have more fun -- in California, anyway
By Nicholas Boer

Erin Bishop decided she wanted to be a vegetarian when she was 10. It wasn't until after enrolling at Tulane University, however, that she discovered how fortunate she had been.

"You can't be a vegetarian in New Orleans," Bishop says. "I had bagels every day. It was horrible."

Things got better after she moved out of the dorm and into her own apartment. Her mom, a from-scratch cook, never indulged Bishop's vegetarianism, so she has been cooking for herself for a long time.

Now that she's back in the Bay Area, Bishop shops at the Danville farmers market every Saturday. "This is the best place to be," she says.

Signature dish: She created the samosa recipe just for this column. The granola recipe is one she's been playing with for years.

Why vegetarianism?: Mostly for health reasons (her family has a history of high cholesterol), but also for moral reasons. Reading PETA's Web site sealed the deal.

Birthday cake: Bishop gave up eggs and dairy for Lent, so, to celebrate her 23rd birthday, she made a batch of vegan cupcakes. To her surprise, the four kids that she baby-sits, most of them picky eaters, happily ate them all up.

Going vegan: While she says it's been easy to go vegan, and that she has more energy than she used to, Bishop is glad that Lent is over. She's even thinking she might celebrate with some sushi.

Shopping: Aside from the farmers market, Bishop gets most of her groceries from Whole Foods in Walnut Creek and Open Sesame in Lafayette.

On grains: "I love lentils," Bishop adds. "I get most of my protein from beans and grains." Quinoa and brown rice are on the A-list.

Favorite veggies: "I'm huge on butternut squash," Bishop says. She also loves kale, arugula and sweet potatoes. What doesn't she like? Raw spinach.

Staying ahead: "It takes 40 minutes to cook brown rice, so I'll do a big batch," she says. One night she'll have brown rice with roasted vegetables another night a burrito or maybe a rice salad.

Breakfast. Homemade granola with soy yogurt or a fruit smoothie with Whole Foods protein powder.

Kids food: The kids she baby-sits survive mainly on hot dogs, pasta, or mac and cheese. They also love McDonald's, but Bishop says they just care about the toys in their Happy Meals.

Food philosophy: "I don't have an agenda, but it's important to be aware of what you're putting in your body and what you're supporting with your dollars that go to food."

Questions? Contact Erin Bishop at


Makes about 11/2 cups

1 mango, preferably the small, sweet ataulfo variety (sometimes called Champagne)

1 large navel orange

1 tablespoon red onion, minced

2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped

Peel and cut the mango into a small dice. Place in a small mixing bowl. Cut off the bottom and top of the orange, lay it flat and remove the peel, including the pith, by making curved cuts with a sharp knife. Use a paring knife to section the orange, leaving behind the membranes. Chop the orange into a small dice. Add the orange, minced red onion and mint to the mango. Lightly mix. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Per 1/4-cup serving: 20 calories, 1 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, 0 sodium, 1 g fiber. Calories from fat: 0 percent.

-- Times analysis


Makes about 20

5 cups unbleached white flour

11/4 cups water

1 cup canola oil, plus more for brushing

2 teaspoons salt

2 cups peeled butternut squash, peeled and cut into small dice

1 small sweet potato, about 2 cups, peeled and cut into small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup minced yellow onion

3/4 cup frozen or canned green peas

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Mango-Orange Chutney (see recipe)

1. Place flour in large bowl. Add the water and oil and stir until mixture becomes crumbly. Place dough on a floured work surface. Knead dough until becomes smooth and elastic. Add more flour if dough is too sticky or a little more water if it is too dry. Let the dough rest in a bowl while you make the samosa filling.

2. In a medium sauce pan, bring the butternut squash to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, and then add the sweet potatoes. Boil the butternut squash and sweet potatoes for an additional 10 minutes.

3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until soft. Add the sweet potatoes and butternut squash, peas, curry powder, and salt and pepper. Remove samosa filling from heat.

4. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a narrow rectangle about 41/2-inches wide. Put the dough through a pasta press until it is Þ-inch thick. If you do not have a pasta press, you can roll the dough out by hand. Cut the dough into 4-inch squares.

5. Place a square of dough so that a corner is pointing toward you. Fill the dough with a heaping tablespoon of the samosa filling. Use a brush or your index finger to moisten the edge of the dough with water. Seal the samosa and use a fork to decorate the edges.

6. Place samosas on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush the tops with canola oil. Bake 20-25 minutes or until samosas are lightly browned. Serve warm with Mango-Orange Chutney.

Per samosa (not including chutney): 230 calories, 4 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 2 g fiber. Calories from fat: 43 percent.

-- Times analysis


Makes about 10 cups

4 cups rolled oats

1 cup whole almonds

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1/4 cup orange zest, optional

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

-1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup agave nectar (or 1/4 cup honey for a non-vegan version)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup dried figs, chopped

3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sunflower seeds, flax seed, orange zest (if using), salt and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Combine the vegetable oil and agave nectar or honey and juice in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from heat and add the orange juice and vanilla extract.

3. Quickly pour the liquid over the dry ingredients and mix just until the oats are coated. Evenly spread the granola on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes. Gently stir the granola two or three times. Add the chopped dried fruit to the cooked granola. Granola can be stored for about two weeks in an airtight container.

Per cup: 490 calories, 11 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat, 0 cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 8 g fiber. Calories from fat: 47 percent.

-- Times analysis

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Posted: Apr 30, 2006 7:25am


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