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A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes. Probably no one ever said the WWW or Science... Read More »

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A genetically modified banana, boosted to have higher levels of alpha and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, has the best backer imaginable - The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation.

It also has a big obstacle: it is really easy to scare people who don't understand the promise of biology, and fear and doubt are the specialties of anti-science groups who have consistently sought to undermine progress in food. But this is needed. The East African cooking banana is a staple with low levels of pro-vitamin A and iron. An improved version means not having to change farmers or culture. Like its vitamin-enriched counterpart, Golden Rice, the banana is a slightly different color. But it's what can't be seen that has the real value. 
You might think that with Iraq collapsing and Russia and China preparing for giant land grabs, our foreign policy would consist of more than 'global warming stinks' and 'you other countries should have nicer LGBT policies'. If so, there is good news, the State Department is now also criticizing mislabeled international seafood.
In the 1830s, jails were an all-purpose solution for a lot of issues. Inmates lived in squalor and people truly did not want to be there so there was a lot less crime. The downside was that nobody really cared about the people who did not belong there, like those with 'retardation' who had been abandoned, or people who were mentally ill but not criminals.
The Advanced Wonder Excitement Surprise Original Mechatronic Excellence lab is usually devoted to robot design but recently they took a break to go old school. 

How old school? The 13th century, that's how old school.
Glen Tickle, a comedian and Senior Editor at Geekosystem, recently received a lovely gift: a note card with a recipe for a chemical-free weedkiller.

A note card recipe! How grandmotherly!

Except there is nothing chemical-free about it. And Dawn dishwashing liquid was nothing my grandmother ever used, when it came out it was so quasi-futuristic and chemical-company new that it might as well have had a platinum blonde in a shiny costume for its advertisements:

 
The Shackled Man Theory says that holding someone back for half of a race and then setting them free later means the shackled racer can never really catch up. 

If so, environmentalists have already poisoned the well to such a large extent in Europe that genetically modified food may never catch on, but at least consumers are not faced with a centralized blanket ban based on nothing but hysteria.

Now they can have centralized blanket bans that at least a politician of their own can be held accountable for.  The EU wants to let individual countries decide whether or not to allow GMOs. That is good news, because now no individual country can weasel out of the issue by saying they have no choice, the EU has made the decision.