Barrel Bottoms Up

On Earth Day, Greg Laden took the opportunity to thank BP for the “modifications made to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico” by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Surviving specimens of coral “have been provided with hip new color schemes (mainly black and blackish),” while creatures such as shrimp and crabs exhibit physical deformities “which will surely make them easier to catch and, according to BP, does not affect their edibility.” Crude oil is organic, after all, as Kevin Bonham reminds us on We Beasties. He says “it turns out that nearly million barrels of oil naturally seeps out of the sea floor every year,” and microbes are used to eating the stuff. Bonham concludes “after the BP spill, these populations bloomed, and are still busily breaking down all that oil for food – perhaps as much as 40% by the time it’s all said and done.” Meanwhile, Sharon Astyk shares new EIA data on Casaubon’s Book, revealing that crude production has remained flat since 2005. Like it or not, oil is a limited resource—and it could soon be last call.


Here We Go Again!

i-e165a7d08c038743f19d10e3be6f553f-nybuzz.jpgWith the new year hot out of the gates, ScienceBlogs wishes everyone a wonderful 2010. Dr. Isis on On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess shares a study with us waistline watchers, comparing two approaches to calorie reduction. One group of overweight individuals consumed 25% fewer calories while the other group ate only 12.5% less but burned the other 12.5% through exercise. Both groups lost the same amount of weight, but only the exercisers “improved their fitness, saw a decline in diastolic blood pressure and LDL and improved insulin sensitivity.” Getting in shape is well and good, but if you want a more original resolution after all these years, consider giving up seafood on Guilty Planet. Jennifer Jacquet writes “there is increasing awareness that fisheries are in serious trouble,” and “more and more people see the disjointedness between conservationists and their patterns of consumption.” On Terra Sigillata, Abel Pharmboy presents one culinary alternative in the form of collard greens and black-eyed peas, traditional New Year’s fare in the American South with hazy historical origins. While not keen on the greens, Pharmboy writes “black-eyed peas are something I could eat all day.” We could too, as long as they don’t make us fat.

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A Fistful of Seeds

i-358b9447415647c819df917edd076bb1-seedbuzz.jpgOn Casaubon’s Book, Sharon Astyk raises her hackles at the sight of Monsanto, a company which over the last century has churned out artificial sweeteners, sulfuric acid, myriad plastics, herbicides such as DDT, the pernicious defoliant Agent Orange, bovine growth hormone, PCBs, and other chemical wonders. Since their first genetic modification of a plant cell in 1982, Monsanto has shifted increasingly to biotechnology, and now control 90% of the world’s seed genetics. Balking against this growing monopoly on our food crops, Astyk advises “Seeds are powerful. Get some good ones, save them and plant them.” On Tomorrow’s Table, Pamela Ronald reports that China has “approved release of the world’s first genetically engineered rice,” and that by 2015 the number of engineered crops will quadruple as Asian and Latin American countries engender global competition for Monsanto’s seedy interests. Finally, lest we deny them the right of reply, Mathew C. Nisbet presents the company in their own words on Framing Science. To wit, “Monsanto’s advanced seeds not only significantly increase crop yields, they use fewer key sources—like land and fuel—to do it. That’s a win-win for people, and the earth itself.”

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