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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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Today's study offers a more complex analysis that seeks to address the 2007 criticisms. It examines nine categories of harm that drugs can do to the individual "from death to damage to mental functioning and loss of relationships" and seven types of harm to others. The maximum possible harm score was 100 and the minimum zero.

Overall, alcohol scored 72 - against 55 for heroin and 54 for crack. The most dangerous drugs to their individual users were ranked as heroin, crack and then crystal meth. The most harmful to others were alcohol, heroin and crack in that order.

Researchers have created plants that kill insects by disrupting their gene expression. The crops, which initiate a gene-silencing response called RNA interference, are a step beyond existing genetically modified crops that produce toxic proteins. Because the new crops target particular genes in particular insects, some researchers suggest that they will be safer and less likely to have unintended effects than other genetically modified plants. Others warn that it is too early to make such predictions and that the plants should be carefully tested to ensure that they do not pose environmental problems. But most researchers agree that it's unlikely that eating these plants would have adverse effects on humans.

Scientists working with AATF believe it's important to explore the potential of biotechnology to maintain and increase food production in Africa, given the large number of families dependent on maize, and warnings that maize yields could drop dramatically as climate change increases drought frequency and severity across the continent.

There is preliminary evidence that the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) varieties, which were developed through a public-private partnership, could provide yields 24-35 percent higher than what farmers are now growing.


 

Comments

"...most researchers agree that it's unlikely that eating these plants [the ones that 'disrupt gene expression' in insects] would have adverse effects on humans." Some researchers hint, however, that walking through a field of the growing plants will be like swimming with piranhas.

re: Crops that Shut Down Pests' Genes

We got our first sunshine after a week of rain. Midges rise from the warming soil and hover everywhere. The Spiders (of all things) are on the hunt. They've run lines of spider silk from one blade of grass to another, criss-crossing the whole field at near ground level. That's not enough, they have 1 - 2 foot strands floating out from every shrub and tree. We see webs sparkling everywhere in the afternoon sun. It is too cool.

We don't need another stinkin' pesticide, even if it does come with a GE plant we might eat.

Anyone here watch the Big Bang theory? I know it's big with science geeks, but I just don't find it funny, and I think I do get the jokes. Their science consultant is great, but maybe they should get a comedy consultant?

BTW, I watched Numb3rs on and off... I think they went too "network drama". They should have gone hardcore geek, but they stayed in the middle of it and crowd-pleaser formulaic time waster. Also one recent episode about lottery and probabilities had Charlie making some silly mistakes that even I took notice.

That's my rant for today. Even though I don't do it, I'm pissed that Prop 19 didn't pass.

Even though I don't do it, I'm pissed that Prop 19 didn't pass.

I really don't know why some people think it is OK to throw people in jail for behavior that is about as inocuous as can be - even if it is dumb.

Racism and Jobs

Regarding the story about drought-resistant maize - and I'm not actually advocating this line of thought - but...

Is increasing the food supply really a straightforward good? It seems that large parts of sub-saharan Africa are still stuck in the archaic malthusian cycle of population growth checked only by disease, famine, and war.

Is the net effect of increasing food supply in year 1 that there are more desperately hungry people in year 50?

Or is there some hope that food supply can rise faster than population for a long enough time to increase general prosperity - which in turn would decrease the rate of population growth?

I'm growing slowly more concerned that western philanthropy is making the 'global south's problems worse, though it's hard to argue we should simple stand by and let people die of starvation and easily preventable diseases.

Any good perspectives on this?

Some perspective Notice that in nations where disease, famine and war are rarely experienced on a large scale, population growth is low or even negative.

Only in a british article would they use this phrase.

"Nutt was sacked"

But I do find their findings a bit dubious. Certainly the vast majority of Alcohol users don't see a high level of "harm" in fact, I would wager that the vast majority of users would say that drinking makes their life better.

While I am sure its hard to survey the honest opinion of regular Crack users i would bet that a pretty signifigant portion of them would admit that while they might enjoy the momentary high, They are not better off using the drug.

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