Cataloguing Life

Today sees the launch of the Catalogue of Life, a taxonomic checklist of 1 million of the world’s organisms. The catalogue contains contributions from 47 databases constructed by more than 3000 taxonomists and species specialists from around the world. Jointly produced by Species 2000 and ITIS, this 7th edition encapsulates data from 1 million species…
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China’s functional food honey-trap

Two brief reports in the most recent edition of Food Manufacture magazine reflect the fascination that the western industrialised world has in the opportunities and dangers of doing business in China. On the one hand, a delegation of food manufacturers and academics brought back information on some 8000 ingredients used in traditional Chinese medicine from…
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World Water Day

March 22nd is World Water Day, which this year is themed: ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’. This year’s theme highlights the increased significance of water scarcity across the globe – From Africa and increased desertification, Australia and the increase in the number of droughts in past years to the UK and the water shortage that hits…
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Cow + Grass = House

Cows plus grass equals dung; 7-9 million tonnes of it each year in the USA alone! What if cows plus grass made flooring?, or shelving? or a table? Michigan State University researchers, working with the US Department of Agriculture, reckon that the "digester solids" leftovers from anaerobic digestion of cattle manure can be processed into…
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Pet Food Safety

The recall of lines of cat and dog food in the USA, Canada and Mexico is causing great concern amongst pet owners and veterinarians as a they try to establish what the scale of the problem is and what the risk is. The problem came to light following the reports of sickness and deaths of…
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Celebrating Linnaeus

2007 marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Linnaeus, father of binomial nomenclature. Nature has marked the occasion by publishing a special issue crammed full of Linnaean-inspired thought. Although trained in medicine and a keen zoologist, Linnaeus is perhaps best known as an excellent botanist – his field trips were said to be so…
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Controlling the screwworm

Cochliomyia hominivorax, the New World screwworm is a serious pest that lays its flesh eating larvae into wounds of humans and any other warm blooded animals causing myiasis. The adult female fly lays batches of 200-400 eggs on the edge of fresh wounds and the larvae hatch and burrow into flesh 12-21 hr later. The…
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Atkins – the right strategy for the wrong reasons?

‘Atkins is best diet around, says Stanford University.’ Apparently, though I am sure that many scientists looking at the study in any sort of detail might wonder how Stanford’s nutritionists have managed to reach this conclusion. A few years ago, when the Atkins craze was at its height, a number of studies commissioned to test…
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The Great Global Warming Swindle – don’t forget the science

If you saw this programme on Channel 4 last Thursday (8 March) you will probably either be shocked and appalled that Channel 4 could possibly dare to air such a programme, or you will be relieved that somebody finally took a look at the science behind the theory and presented an alternative view. The programme…
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My love is like a blue, blue rose

I wonder if Robert Burns would have felt as inspired about blue roses as he was about the romantic red. Personally speaking, I prefer my geraniums red and delphiniums blue although I find the desire for horticultural oddities quite fascinating. For many centuries a true blue flower has been the Holy Grail of plant breeders…
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