Tuesday, August 22, 2006


They're invading, and not just the agriculture business. Genetically modified crops, banned by the EU and shunned by much of the environmentalist community, are starting to mingle with natural crops in the U.S.

A few weeks ago, agriculture and food safety authorities found genetically modified (GMO) rice in otherwise untainted rice bins in Arkansas and Missouri, Reuters reported. The experimental strain was concocted by Bayer CropScience, which is now testing whether the GMO strain has permeated long-grain rice ready for export.

Japan doesn't want GMO rice, and either does the EU -- two places where the U.S. exports the commodity. If the GMO strain is found in commercial supplies, the U.S. rice industry could be in for a shock. Even though GMOs don't hurt anyone, says Bayer CropScience, apparently not everyone wants to play with their food.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

On the Chiquita Banana Highway

Driving along the bumpy roads of Costa Rica, occasionally you come upon a rickety, one-lane bridge built by Minor Keith from the Chiquita Company at the turn of the century. According to the Lonely Planet Guide for Costa Rica (and the company's website), he built the bridges as part of the railroad that connected Puerto Limon to San Jose, but couldn’t pay the bills. He planted banana trees to feed his workforce and decided to try to sell the fruit in the U.S. Soon after the bananas were sold at markets around the world, raking in huge profits.

The success came at a price to the environment, however, and the company became notorious for environmental degradation. Now, with the help of a do-gooder within its ranks, the company has turned over a new leaf, according to a post in Treehugger. The company partnered with the Rainforest Alliance and now recycles 100 percent of its plastic bags and reduced its pesticide use by over a quarter.

It is nice to see companies changing policies because of one person who makes a difference, especially from a company known for its affect on the land it uses to profit. If only there was a BP employee that wanted to do the same…

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shrinking Stature

President Bush is shrinking, reported his doctors after his physical exam on Tuesday, just like most other aging people.

In an article published on Slate yesterday, Daniel Engber explains that men usually start shrinking around 30. Unfortunately, women are not exempt.

The reason for the loss of stature is because the fluid-filled discs between the vertebrae start to lose their water, compressing over time. Then the bones have less space between them, so they press together and start to deteriorate. These factors take fractions of inches off of a person's height each year, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Even though it may not be a comforting thought to know that you will probably shrink as you get older, at least there is an explanation. It could be worse. Your approval ratings could be shrinking, too.