What's best for creating drought resistant plants? Traditional breeding or GM?
October 5, 2014 08:29 AM - Lawrence Woodward, The Ecologist
Reports show that traditional breeding techniques are years ahead of GM technologies in developing crops to withstand drought and poor soils, writes Lawrence Woodward. Yet GM advocates are sticking rigidly to their script even as the evidence mounds against them. Since its launch in 2010, the Improved Maize for African Soils Project (IMAS) has developed 21 conventionally bred varieties which have increased yield by up to 1 tonne per hectare.
Connecting Productivity of Office Workers and Climate Change
September 29, 2014 09:57 AM - John Alker, The Ecologist
Energy efficiency in office buildings struggles to gain the attention of top management, writes John Alker - because energy is too cheap to really matter. But with 90% of operating costs spent on staff, a new report shows that green building design makes employees happier and more productive. There would seem to be no connection between the productivity of office workers and the great challenge of climate change. But a report published by the World Green Building Council suggests otherwise.
If Hops aid cognitive function in mice, maybe beer will do it in humans
September 22, 2014 03:10 PM - Oregon State University
Xanthohumol, a type of flavonoid found in hops and beer, has been shown in a new study to improve cognitive function in young mice, but not in older animals. The research was just published in Behavioral Brain Research by scientists from the Linus Pauling Institute and College of Veterinary Medicine at Oregon State University. It’s another step toward understanding, and ultimately reducing the degradation of memory that happens with age in many mammalian species, including humans.
Pollinators are important to nutrition, especially in poorer regions
September 17, 2014 07:31 AM - University of Leeds
Declines in populations of pollinators, such as bees and wasps, may be a key threat to nutrition in some of the most poorly fed parts of the globe, according to new research. A major study, published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B and co-authored by a University of Leeds academic, looked at the importance of pollinators to 115 of the most common food crops worldwide and the importance of those crops in delivering vital nutrients to vulnerable populations.
Study shows eating high-fat dairy lowers diabetes risk
September 16, 2014 09:08 AM - Diabetologia via EurekAlert
New research presented at this year's annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Vienna, Austria, shows that people with the highest consumption of high-fat dairy products (8 or more portions per day) have a 23% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest consumption (1 or less per day). The research is by Dr Ulrika Ericson, Lund University Diabetes Center, Malmö, Sweden, and colleagues. Dietary fats could affect glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity and may therefore have a crucial role in the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Studies have indicated that replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats might be favourable in the prevention of T2D. In line with this, plant sources of fat have been suggested to be a better choice compared with animal sources. Indeed, high intakes of red meat and meat products have been shown to increase the risk of T2D. Nevertheless, several epidemiological studies have indicated that a high intake of dairy products may be protective. Subsequently, the importance of dietary fat content and food sources of fat remains to be clarified. In this new study, the authors aimed to examine intakes of main dietary fat sources, classified according to fat content, and their association with risk of developing T2D.
National Chicken Council to Phase Out Some Poultry Antibiotics
September 16, 2014 08:47 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit
Only about 10 percent of the antibiotics used in chicken are actually used in humans, says the National Chicken Council. Its statement comes on the heels of a controversial report by Reuters indicating increasing proof that the prophylactic medications used in chickens are fueling antibiotic resistance not just in fowl, but in humans as well.
Air pollution found harmful to young brains
September 15, 2014 04:19 PM - University of Montana via EurekAlert
Findings by University of Montana Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children living in megacities are at increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled "Air pollution and children: Neural and tight junction antibodies and combustion metals, the role of barrier breakdown and brain immunity in neurodegeneration."
Can outdoor activity be BAD for you?
September 5, 2014 10:13 AM - Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, via EurekAlert
Residential geography, time spent in the sun, and whether or not sunglasses are worn may help explain why some people develop exfoliation syndrome (XFS), an eye condition that is a leading cause of secondary open-angle glaucoma and can lead to an increased risk of cataract and cataract surgery complications, according to a study published on Sept. 4 in JAMA, Ophthalmology. Despite improvements in understanding the cause of this common yet life-altering condition, more work needs to be done. "The discovery that common genetic variants in the lysyl oxidase-like 1 gene (LOXL1) are associated with 99 percent of XFS cases represented a significant advance in our understanding of this condition," said the study's lead author, Louis Pasquale, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and director of the HMS Glaucoma Center of Excellence and Mass. Eye and Ear Glaucoma Service and Telemedicine Service. "However, 80 percent of control individuals also harbor these variants and that ratio of cases to control individuals with trait-related variants is fairly similar in regions where XFS is very prevalent and in regions where the condition is relatively rare; this suggests that other genetic or environmental factors contribute to XFS."
More benefits of green neighborhoods
September 4, 2014 02:32 PM - Oregon State Universtity
Mothers who live in neighborhoods with plenty of grass, trees or other green vegetation are more likely to deliver at full term and their babies are born at higher weights, compared to mothers who live in urban areas that aren’t as green, a new study shows. The findings held up even when results were adjusted for factors such as neighborhood income, exposure to air pollution, noise, and neighborhood walkability, according to researchers at Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia.
Office Plants Increase Productivity by 15%
September 2, 2014 02:26 PM - Editor, ENN
Do you have any plants in your office? What about at home? It may take a green thumb to keep these potted floras alive and well, but studies show that indoor plants have multiple benefits and are worth the care and attention. Some benefits include helping us breathe easier, purifying air and improving health, and even sharpening our focus. According to a new study, plants can even make work environments more productive. Researchers claim that 'green' offices with plants make staff happier and more productive than 'lean' designs stripped of greenery.