Monday, August 14, 2006

Organic nonsense: "Consumers across the country are paying higher prices for fruits, vegetables, milk and bread that carry the USDA Organic label. What does the label mean? Apparently, not much. There's almost no testing of organic produce for pesticide residues, though all farmers use pesticides of some sort. The USDA Organic label means only that an independent certifier -- hired by the farmer -- did a once-a-year walk over the farm, looked briefly at the farmer's records, and took his or her word that all of the vague organic rules were being followed. There are only 56 organic certifiers to oversee some 20,000 organic farmers working more than 2 million acres of land, supposedly without synthetic pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers or genetically engineered seeds."

New bee therapy coming? "Queen honey bees may hold the answer to prolonging human life. The common worker bee lives just six weeks, but if the same egg is raised as a queen bee, not a worker, it can live for up to six years. La Trobe University's Professor David Vaux is trying to unlock the mystery. "I'm looking at the bees as a model, looking at how lifespan is determined," he said. A queen bee will lay up to 200 eggs a day in little wax cells in the hive. "The interesting thing is if you take one of those eggs with a pair of tweezers out of the wax cell in which it is laid and put it into a different shaped wax cell, called the queen cell, then the developing larva will emerge as an adult queen," Professor Vaux said. "So the same egg, the same genes, the same everything can turn into a worker bee or it can turn into a queen bee and live for 50 times longer." Professor Vaux said his research raised a number of questions including whether the human lifespan was genetically predetermined or determined by environment."

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