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December 10, 2011

Evidence suggests Monsanto's genetically engineered corn is creating superinsects

Monsanto (Still) Denies Superinsect Problem, Despite Evidence | Mother Jones
Back in August—as I reported here—something strange began to happen in isolated Iowa corn fields: Otherwise healthy corn plants were falling over, their roots devastated by a ravenous insect called the corn rootworm. The weird part wasn't pest outbreaks in vast corn fields; farmers know that when you plant a huge amount of land with a single crop, you're also providing a friendly habitat for insects that like to eat that crop. The odd part was that the fields were planted with seed engineered by Monsanto precisely to kill the corn rootworm. Monsanto's product—known as Bt corn—had failed; rootworms were developing resistance to it. At the time, the EPA—which is responsible for registering pesticide-containing crops like Monsanto's—maintained an icy silence on the matter. But last week, the agency released a report (PDF) that, in calm bureaucratese, rebuked Monsanto for its "inadequate" system for monitoring. It's one of those delectable reports written not by political appointees or higher-ups, but rather by staff scientists reporting what they see. The document offers a fascinating glimpse into the way the agency conducts business with Monsanto. . . .

December 09, 2011

Sugary cereals are bad for kids, contain way more sugar than you might expect

The Problem With Breakfast for Children - NYTimes.com
We all know the importance of real food in the morning: kids who eat high-sugar breakfasts have a harder time in school, and a growing body of research suggests that foods sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup can be as addictive as nicotine or cocaine. It’s clear, too, that for most of us the eating patterns we develop as children hang around forever. Every parent of a child born in the United States since 1950 also knows the difficulty of getting that kid to eat a breakfast of real food. This is not a “natural” inclination — no one is born craving Froot Loops or Count Chocula — but one resulting from a bombardment of marketing. . . . It turns out that from at least the perspective of sugar content, many are worse, as a new document from the Environmental Working Group shows. There are at least 44 cereals that contain more sugar in a cup than three Chips Ahoy cookies. A cup of the most sugary cereal, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks — they were called Sugar Smacks when I was a kid, but “Honey” is so much healthier-sounding, don’t you think? — contains more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie.

December 05, 2011

Guess what? The kids aren't sexting.

It was blown out of proportion by the media. The actual percentage of teens who have sent sexually graphic texts is less than ten percent (depending on how you define graphic and sexual). Sending of Sexual Images by Minors Not as Prevalent as Thought, Study Finds - NYTimes.com
The results of the study, published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, are based on detailed telephone interviews with 1,560 children across the country. It is one of the largest surveys yet to look at the prevalence of sexting among minors, a phenomenon that has drawn concern from schools and law enforcement and that has prompted nationwide legislation trying to curb it. An earlier, often-cited study had estimated that as many as one in five teenagers engaged in sexting, but it included 18- and 19-year-olds, most likely increasing the overall prevalence. In recent years, high-profile cases in which teenagers were arrested for forwarding nude pictures of other minors have attracted nationwide attention. Despite sexting’s reputation as a teenage pastime, surveys now suggest that it is actually more common among young adults than children. “It only takes one or two cases to make people think this is very prevalent behavior,” said Janis Wolak, an author of the new paper and a senior researcher at the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. “This has been reported as if it were something that everyone was doing, not just in the teen population, but in the young adult population. It’s really not the case.”

December 01, 2011

World's biggest insect discovered on New Zealand island

all creatures [great and small]
Adventurer Mark Moffett has found the world’s biggest insect - which is so huge it can eat carrots. The former park ranger discovered the giant weta up a tree and his real life Bugs Bunny has now been declared the largest ever found. He came across the cricket-like creature, which has a wing span of seven inches, after two days of searching on a tiny island. The creepy crawly is only found on Little Barrier Island, in New Zealand. The species was wiped off the mainland by rats accidentally introduced by Europeans.