• Beans climb to new heights in Rwanda

    Climbing beans suited to rainy high-altitude areas are being distributed in Rwanda after a decade of research. The fifteen varieties, developed by the Rwandan Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR) in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), could benefit smallholder farmers in similar areas across Central and East Africa. Unlike the more commonly-planted 'bush beans', the beans are resistant to legume diseases such as anthracnose, root rot and ascochyta, which are found in damp, higher altitude areas. >> Read the Full Article
  • Biodiversity loss matters, and communication is crucial

    Communicating why biodiversity loss matters for people is essential for reversing it. The failed UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December could hardly have been a less promising prelude to the International Year of Biodiversity, which opened last month (January). As with climate change, the threat of large-scale biodiversity loss — and the need for global political action to stop it — is growing every day. >> Read the Full Article
  • How to Feed the Billions

    A Malthusian catastrophe was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. The catastrophe is that in doing so many people will starve. Sometime around 2050, there are going to be nine billion people roaming this planet two billion more than there are today. It's a safe bet that all those folks will want to eat. Still, not everyone's convinced that feeding nine billion people is a totally impossible task. A Malthusian catastrophe has been predicted before to happen and has not yet done so, A new paper published this week in Science written by Britain's chief scientific adviser John Beddington along with others, outlines a way this could actually be done. >> Read the Full Article
  • Pesticides in California Rivers

    Pyrethroids, which are among the most widely used home pesticides, are winding up in California rivers at levels toxic to some stream dwellers, possibly endangering the food supply of fish and other aquatic animals, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Southern Illinois University. A pyrethroid is a synthetic chemical compound similar to the natural chemical pyrethrins produced by certain flowers(such as Chrysanthemum). Pyrethroids now constitute a major proportion of the synthetic insecticide market and are common in commercial products such as household insecticides. In the concentrations used in such products, they may also have insect repellent properties and are generally harmless to human beings but can harm sensitive individuals. >> Read the Full Article
  • Lancet Renounces Study Linking Autism And Vaccines

    It took 12 years, but the medical journal the Lancet has retracted once and for all a controversial paper that drew a link between vaccines and autism and helped fuel a backlash against immunization of children. A 1998 Lancet paper reported on a dozen kids who developed various behavioral and intestinal problems. Eight of them had been vaccinated with a combination shot against measles, mumps and rubella. >> Read the Full Article
  • Organic Beauty Products Claims Challenged

    A handful of personal care companies are looking to the U.S. government to clarify regulations for organic labeling and advertising claims. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, Intelligent Nutrients, Organic Essence and the Organic Consumers Association filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program on Jan. 14 against 13 personal care companies they alleged have made false organic claims on their products. >> Read the Full Article
  • Will it be possible to feed nine billion people sustainably?

    Sometime around 2050 researchers estimate that the global population will level-out at nine billion people, adding over two billion more people to the planet. Since, one billion of the world's population (more than one in seven) are currently going hungry—the largest number in all of history—scientists are struggling with how, not only to feed those who are hungry today, but also the additional two billion that will soon grace our planet. In a new paper, published in Science, researchers make recommendations on how the world may one day feed nine billion people—sustainably. >> Read the Full Article
  • Humans Over Apes

    The same evolutionary genetic advantages that have helped increase human lifespans also make humans susceptible to diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease and dementia says a study published in a special Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences collection on "Evolution in Health and Medicine". Comparing the life spans of humans with other primates, Caleb Finch, ARCO & William F. Kieschnick Professor in the Neurobiology of Aging in the USC Davis School of Gerontology, explains that slight differences in DNA sequencing in humans have enabled us to better respond to infection and inflammation, the leading cause of mortality in wild chimpanzees and in early human populations with limited access to modern medicine. >> Read the Full Article
  • Shrimp, their environmental impact not shrimpy

    Why America's Favorite Seafood Is a Health and Environmental Nightmare The environmental impact of shrimp can be horrific. But most Americans don't know where their shrimp comes from or what's in it. Americans love their shrimp. It's the most popular seafood in the country, but unfortunately much of the shrimp we eat are a cocktail of chemicals, harvested at the expense of one of the world's productive ecosystems. >> Read the Full Article
  • Fire and Smoke Can Be Good and Bad

    Recent ecological research has shown that forest fire is an integral component to the function and biodiversity of many ecological communities, and that the organisms within those communities have adapted to withstand and even exploit it. A fire may destroy one ecological community but allow greater long term diversity. It is not just the fire but the smoke too. Smoke plays an intriguing role in promoting the germination of seeds of many species following a fire. Even the carbon dioxide from a fire has an impact on the overall ecosystem. >> Read the Full Article