Tuesday, July 20, 2004

roundup

tech. [Note that full text links will usually require a subscription. Where available, I have linked to free abstracts]:

Leigh Turner, "Biotechnology as religion," Nature Biotechnology�22 (june),659 - 660

Biotech is not just an assemblage of research programs and techniques. In a scientific and technological era, biotech also offers a surrogate religious framework for many individuals. We might want to explore the dangers associated with turning biotech into a belief system. With little reason to think that the biotechnological rapture of posthuman bodies is imminent, we might want to start paying more attention to how biotech enthusiasts prey upon deep-rooted fears and anxieties and offer familiar messages about how death shall be no more. The religion of biotech needs to be challenged by debunkers and skeptics as 'antiaging' potions and nostrums become increasingly popular and profitable.
Interesting Roundup research: J. I. Vitta, et al., "Widespread use of glyphosate tolerant soybean and weed community richness in Argentina," Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 103, 621-624
The survey indicated that 37 species were considered by crop advisers as increasing, 18 as decreasing in importance (Table 1). Weed richness has increased in the area since glyphosate tolerant cultivars were introduced. Of the weeds listed as increasing in importance, a few are suspected to be tolerant to glyphosate at recommended rates:
And Cesare Accinelli, et al., "Influence of insecticidal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki on the degradation of glyphosate and glufosinate-ammonium in soil samples," ibid., 497-507: Bt toxins roughly double the persistance of glyphosate in soils (e.g., from 11 to 19 day half-life), but had no effect on soil microbial carbon. This is relevant because HT/IR "stacked trait" cultivars mean that both the Bt toxins and glyphosate will be present in large quantities.

De La Campa, et al., "Fumonisin in Tortillas Produced in Small-Scale Facilities and Effect of Traditional Masa Production Methods on This Mycotoxin," J. Agric. Food Chem. 52, 4432-4437 shows that nixtamalization, among its other benefits, reduces fungal contamination.

Hayes et al., "Farmer-owned brands?" Agribusiness 20, 269-85 is a rather amusing discussion of the economics of of what are essentially protected identity agricultural products.

In the news:

75% of "red snapper" is not red snapper [news@nature]; USDA's implementation of its "enhanced" BSE testing leaves rather a lot to be desired [Seattle Times]; Oregon farm dinners [Oregonian; cf. California's Outstanding in the Field].

Finally, There Will Always Be an England: Maccers drinks Sancerre by the pint.

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