plant more trees, if only for the glowing geckos!

posted December 7, 2016

gecko

Hey, we mostly all know by now that trees are pretty nifty things. But, did you know that some scientists are using the migration patterns of glowing geckos to prove just how important trees are in the protection of both flora and fauna on your farm?

What better way to show that climate change is adversely affecting the environment than to find a really cute reptiles, dust them with glowing powder and watch them move around at night.

The research found the geckos can identify habitat at 40 metres away, but not 80 metres away, suggesting that the loss of trees would reduce the amount of habitat for many species and reduce connectivity of already fragmented landscapes for some migrating species.

Yep, yep, if you were thinking of dropping a few acorns in the ground, or perhaps planting a hedge next to that old field next spring, know that the geckos (among others) around the country will rejoice.

Check out the article here


a gut feeling

posted January 17, 2016

Complete_GI_tract

Last August we shared a New York Times piece on a new and growing body of research that suggests that the bacteria living in the human digestive track plays an intricate role in the production of hormones and regulation of mood. Research featured in that article found a correlation between certain strains of bacteria and psychological woes such as depression and anxiety. One study fed mice a strand of bacteria that made the mice act as “though they were on prozac.” It was awesome and kind of earth-shaking, and if you haven’t read it yet, you probably should.

That all being said, our sweet farming fermentation fanatics, are you ready for this stuff to get even more bananas? Check out this article out of an October edition of the Scientific American. Research explored here showed that fecal transplants between mice were able to dramatically change a mouse’s character. For instance, a bold mouse, when given a transplant from a shy mouse, become shy. A normal mouse, when given a transplant from an anxious human, becomes more neurotic. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

By all accounts, our micro biome is shaped by many factors– from our mother’s experience during pregnancy to whether or not we were breastfed to what kinds of bacteria we encounter in our every day life. We can imagine that research on bacteria might have the potential to explain all kinds of public health phenomena, from chronic depression to the obesity epidemic.

In the meantime, we’re hedging our bets by increasing our kimchi consumption.


USDA scientists suspended in connection to his research on monarchs

posted November 29, 2015

monarch-butterfly-caterpillar-insect-danaus-plexippus-725x487Sit back, friends. I’ve got a story for you. (Spoiler alert, it involves pesticides, pollinators, USDA protection of Big Ag interests, and the failure of the US government to protect whistleblowers.)

“Politics inside USDA have made entomology a high risk specialty.”

In early 2015, USDA scientist, Dr. Jonathon Lundgren submitted his research on pesticides and pollinators to a peer-reviewed journal. In response, supervisors at the USDA suspended Dr. Lundgren under the pretense that has research had unearthed “sensitive information” that had not yet been approved for publication.

What could be so sensitive you ask? Dr. Lundgren had found that clothianidin, a neonicotinoid seed treatment (pesticide), kills monarch butterfly larvae in the laboratory.

It doesn’t sound that surprising, does it? Either that a crop treatment would adversely affect pollinators or that the USDA would be reluctant to publish the information. But it gets better.

It turns out that Dr. Lundgren is whistleblower, who in September 2014 had lodged a formal complaint against the USDA for serious alleged violations of the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy, including attempts by senior officials to impede or deter Lundgren’s research. He believes– and we are inclined to believe him– that his 14-day suspension is a direct retaliation to that action and to the threat his research poses to big ag.

You can read more, including the full whistleblower narrative and a history of scientist manipulation, on PEER.org


justified paranoia of scientists

posted April 1, 2014

A VALUABLE REPUTATION
After Tyrone Hayes said that a chemical was harmful, its maker pursued him.
By Rachel Aviv for The New Yorker; February 10, 2014140210_r24613_p465

In 2001, seven years after joining the biology faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, Tyrone Hayes stopped talking about his research with people he didn’t trust. He instructed the students in his lab, where he was raising three thousand frogs, to hang up the phone if they heard a click, a signal that a third party might be on the line. Other scientists seemed to remember events differently, he noticed, so he started carrying an audio recorder to meetings. “The secret to a happy, successful life of paranoia,” he liked to say, “is to keep careful track of your persecutors.”

read the full text HERE