October 24, 2012 |
Though the balance of evidence supports the idea that genetically modified foods are safe to eat and don't harm the environment, a few reports have suggested otherwise. Here are three of them. •French scientists reported in September that rats fed a lifelong diet of Roundup-resistant corn developed more tumors and died earlier than rats fed conventional corn. The widely publicized study, published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, was conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini, the scientific head of an independent institute opposed to genetically modified foods.
May 15, 2012 |
Studying amber obtained from Cretaceous-era deposits, an international team of paleontologists have discovered the oldest known insects engaged in pollination. The 105-million to 110-million-year-old thrips they found are coated in pollen grains that were presumably used to feed the insects' offspring. Thysanopterans, commonly called thrips, are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings -- hence the name, from the Greek thysanos (fringed) and pteron (wing). Thrips are generally considered pests because they eat plant tissues, but some are efficient pollinators for several species of flowering plants.
March 19, 2012 |
It took a few years, but the rare titan arum -- a.k.a. corpse plant -- housed at Cornell University opened into full bloom overnight, sending its famously vile odor wafting through a greenhouse and marking one of the few times that people outside Sumatra have witnessed such an event. Thanks to modern technology, people who could not see the plant in person in the Cornell greenhouse, in Ithaca, N.Y., could view the plant's opening on a live webcam . Early Monday, a steady stream of camera-toting visitors slowly circled the giant plant, which resembles an upside-down maroon-colored flared skirt, with a long, green column -- known as the spadix -- protruding from the center toward the sky. Cornell acquired the plant about 10 years ago, and this marks the first time it has bloomed.
June 19, 2011 |
The Summer of the Bear A Novel Bella Pollen Atlantic Monthly Press: 441 pp., $24 There's magic at the margins of Bella Pollen's wind-swept novel "The Summer of the Bear"; the kind only a child can see, the kind that turns out to be real. When Nicky Fleming, a British diplomat working in East Germany in 1979 dies, he leaves behind his wife, Letty, and children, Georgie, 17, Alba, 14, and Jamie, 8. Jamie has some kind of learning disability and some kind of gift. On the way to the family's summer house in the Outer Hebrides after his father's death, Jamie leaves hand-drawn maps to the house so that his father can find him. He remembers a grizzly bear he and his father saw at the zoo; he knows that bear has something to do with his father's death and something to do with his young life.
April 8, 2011 |
Allergy season is now underway, according to news reports, and as climate change continues, it means that the season of pollen may be lasting longer and longer across different regions of the country. In April so far, many regions of the United States seem to have been spared the respiratory onslaught suffered last year -- perhaps because of a generally wetter spring season delaying certain tree species’ pollen release. Don’t breathe easy just yet, though -- the San Jose Mercury News reports that, at least in its neck of the woods, pollen season is expected to peak in May. In case you’re wondering how bad your area’s allergy sufferers might have it, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America released the 2011 list of 100 “most challenging” cities to live in with allergies. Miserable (and inevitable-seeming)
April 17, 2010 |
Though allergy sufferers in some pockets of the country are having a miserable April, experts dispute the notion that trees across the nation are producing record-high amounts of pollen this year. Pollen counts in some regions are certainly nothing to sneeze at -- in Raleigh, N.C., for instance, the state Division of Air Quality counted 3,524 particles per cubic meter of air on April 7, up to three times the volume that's typically seen in the spring. But it's not that trees are producing record amounts of pollen.