Wednesday, January 12, 2005

things to do today


The Tuscans must be stopped; awkwardly coupled to Shaw's didactic drinking instructions. Perhaps necessary in LA? As long as we're calling attention to wines that I would love to drink if the rest of you weren't driving the prices up, see Asimov on Aglianico in the Times. Bastards. Maybe the masses are still so distracted by pinot noir that they won't notice. An interesting correction raises questions about what people want to believe about organic food. I have to admit, I couldn't even read the Chron article on teen cooks, despite wanting desperately to make fun of it. And then there's the foodie community on the internets. No comment. And t-muffle takes on "Panchito."


Mere hours after discussing the demise of Veuve Cliquot last week, I drank some more of it, and it was newly delicious. The sullen, sour, going-through-the-motions quality that put me off on New Years had been replaced by the delicate happy tickle that makes one want to drink champagne all the time. It just goes to show you that context is everything. Nothing tastes good when you're contemplating your own senescence. Still, you are going to get more bang for your buck with prosecco and cava.


Canada is now officially fucked, having just discovered their third mad cow, born after the ruminant feed ban. NBT on the NAFTA mexican maize report [quoting one of the authors]: "It's kind of amazing the US is so reliant on its regulatory system [for biotechnology] but shows such disregard for regulatory systems in other countries." The Economist on GM trees. Monsanto fined $1.5 million for bribing the Indonesian government. The Times's Jane Brody is allowed to publish a ridiculous op-ed in the guise of an article on biotech food -- her only "authorities" are everyone's favorite douchebags Miller and Conko, just days after their latest ravings for the Moonie Times about -- of all things -- the Pew Initiative. Anyone who takes these two seriously is by definition a hack, or a credulous fool. Similarly stupid farmer's market screed in the Financial Times. Hexaploid bread wheat with Fusarium head blight resistance from farro. The latest ISB News Report has more research on on FHB, among other things. More wheat: Slade et al., "A reverse genetic, nontransgenic approach to wheat crop improvement by TILLING," Nature Biotechnology 23, 75-81. In case you were wondering:

TILLING is a reverse genetic approach for mutation generation and discovery that does not rely on transgenic technology. With TILLING, a library of DNA samples from thousands of individuals can be screened in a high-throughput manner for induced or naturally occurring single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Typically, DNA is pooled from multiple mutagenized individuals to increase throughput, and PCR is used to amplify a targeted region of the genome. This PCR product is heated and reannealed to allow heteroduplexes to form between mutated and wild-type DNA. Heteroduplexes are identified through cleavage of mismatched sites by the CelI endonuclease. Cleavage products can be visualized by size separation from the full-length PCR product on a polyacrylamide gel. The individuals composing the positive pools are sequenced to determine which individual carries the mutation and to reveal the exact nature of the mutation. Using this technology, large populations can be screened rapidly to obtain an allelic series that contains numerous point mutations in any targeted gene.

Ocean view tragedy of the commons: Martínez-Garmendia and Anderson, "Conservation, markets, and fisheries policy: The North Atlantic bluefin tuna and the Japanese sashimi mark," Agribusiness 21/1, 17-36:

The optimal results indicate moving away from gears such as purse-seines and long-lines in favor of harpoons and rod-and-reels, and concentrating the catch towards the end of the season. The analyses further indicate that it is more profitable to harvest fewer tuna but of greater size and quality than to focus on a great number of fish captures. This allows for a lower mortality and therefore a greater level of conservation of the resource.

"Minor crop" research at the USDA. The problem of invasive non-natives.


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