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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

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Proteins are the stuff of life. They are the eyes, arms and legs of living cells. Even DNA, the most iconic of all molecules in biology, is important first and foremost because it contains the genes that specify the makeup of proteins. And the cells in our body differ from one another--serving as neurons, white blood cells, smell sensors, and so on--largely because they activate different sets of genes and thus produce different mixtures of proteins.

Given these molecules' importance, one would think biologists would have long figured out the basic picture of what they look like and how they work. Yet . . .

Last week, President Obama offered a spirited defense of his party's values -- in effect, of the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. Immediately thereafter, as always happens when Democrats take a stand, the civility police came out in force. The president, we were told, was being too partisan; he needs to treat his opponents with respect; he should have lunch with them, and work out a consensus.

That's a bad idea. Equally important, it's an undemocratic idea.

Everytime there is an article showing anyone associated in any way with vacine safety doing something bad, I get a few emails pointing to an article, like the recent spate of articles about Paul Thorsen and his defrauding of the government. They must believe that calls the science into question but never provide any evidence that it does. Tiresome, stupid, aggravating, is what it is, and so it's nice that someone like Orac takes the time to address the issue in more detail than I have the patience to do.

I'm keeping my photographs at Flickr now, this is a recent photo I took at Antelope Island of a Rock Wren.


 

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Sustainable Agriculture Can Feed the World

A new report released by the UN shows that ecological methods combined with small-scale farming can double food production within 10 years in critical regions. The report, which is an extensive review of recent scientific literature, calls for a fundamental shift towards agroecology to boost food production and improve the livelihoods of the poorest populations.

"Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live - especially in unfavorable environments," says Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. "To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all African projects," he adds.

A pdf copy of this report may be found at:

http://www.srfood.org/images/stories/pdf/officialreports/20110308a-hrc-16-49agroecology_en.pdf

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