uncategorized
Scientists Just Measured the Drought that May Have Brought Down the Ancient Maya

The ancient Maya were an innovative people. They constructed intricate cities throughout the tropical lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, communicated using one of the world’s first written languages, and created two calendar systems by studying the stars. But despite their achievements, the thriving Mayan civilisation mysteriously collapsed sometime between the eighth and ninth centuries. We still don’t know exactly why. Read More >>

science
Discovery of 14,000-Year-Old Toast Suggests Bread Can Be Added to Paleo Diet

Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of bread-making at a site in northeastern Jordan. Dating back some 14,400 years, the discovery shows that ancient hunter-gatherers were making and eating bread 4,000 years before the Neolithic era and the introduction of agriculture. So much for the “Paleo Diet” actually being a thing. Read More >>

agriculture
Are You a ‘Wizard’ or a ‘Prophet’? The Dueling Visions for How Humanity Will Survive

By 2050, the world’s population will top ten billion people. As industrial capitalism evolves across the globe like no time in human history, will our planet’s ecosystem be able to sustain itself during this rapid transformation? This is just one of many questions that Charles C. Mann’s grapples with in The Wizard and the Prophet. Read More >>

agriculture
Let’s All Be Charmed By This Chinese Man Who Makes a Living Live-Streaming Farming

So much of our extremely online lives now revolves around things like the president of the United States threatening to either nuke North Korea or show them his genitals (not sure which!) or worrying about massive security breaches. But hey, some of it also rules. Read More >>

science
New Study Shows What Would Happen If the Entire USA Went Vegan

If you were to ask all of your friends what an ideal society looks like, I’m sure you’d receive vastly different answers. Maybe someone will suggest a society without war where everyone works together to solve problems. Your friend who just finished an Ayn Rand book will say something stupid. And maybe your vegan friend will pipe up and suggest a society without animal agriculture. Read More >>

science
The US Just Greenlit the Release of Genetically Modified Moths

Diamondback moths may be a mere half-inch in length, but their voracious appetite for Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower make them a major pain for farmers. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a potential solution: moths genetically engineered to contain a special gene that makes them gradually die off. A field trial slated to take place in a small area of upstate New York will become the first wild release of an insect modified using genetic engineering in the US. Read More >>

science
Synthetic Meat Spat Shows That Ethical Meat Doesn’t Mean Peaceful Meat

There are a few of generalisations we can probably make about meat. First, meat production is bad for the animal. Second, meat production is bad for the environment. Third, meat tastes good. Read More >>

science
This Mars-Bound Grain Processor Will Help Earthlings First

Let’s say we do somehow end up growing grains like corn or wheat on Mars. What fun would that be if we can’t puff them into curls and dust them with cheese? Read More >>

environment
Americans Have Somehow Helped the Environment Without Even Trying

Climate change is bad, beef is bad, everything is bad, yadda yadda. But Americans ate less beef between 2005 and 2014, which kept a lot of greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, according to a new study. Maybe cutting back on those hamburgers is actually doing something good for the environment. Read More >>

health
Don’t Freak Out About the New Bird Flu Outbreak (Yet)

Chicken farmers in Tennessee are about to shed a lot of blood. After noticing an unusually high death rate in a flock, some Tyson Foods-suppliers discovered that they were dealing with a new bird flu outbreak. Don’t worry too much, though: The USDA says humans should be safe. Read More >>

news reporting shitshows
You Don’t Need to Freak Out About the Olive Oil Apocalypse

Olive oil is clearly worse than butter, but the media’s got bad news for those who have made the wrong choice about which form of grease to cover their bread with. An especially crappy year of bad weather and bacteria have sent every other news outlet panicking after the prices went up, like, a little bit. Read More >>

science
Resistance to ‘Last Resort’ Antibiotics Being Spread to Humans by Flies

The agricultural industry has long been considered an enemy of humanity when it comes to recklessly pumping antibiotics into animals. In further evidence that this practice is fuelling a public health crisis, a new study has found a disconcerting trend at Chinese farms: flies are spreading the gene that gives bacteria resistance to our strongest antibiotics, and it’s showing up in hospitalised humans. Read More >>

science
Scientists Create the First Gene Edited, Tuberculosis-Resistant Cows

Gene editing research is moving quickly in China — researchers there have already edited human embryos, after all. But a team of scientists now have their sights set on the food supply. Ladies, gentlemen, etc., meet the first crop of tuberculosis resistant, genetically moo-dified cows. Read More >>

science
This Magical Spray Can Modify a Plant’s Genes

If you wanted to, say, turn a red pepper yellow, you have a few options. You could directly tinker with with the plant’s genetic code, tweaking the genes that control its colour. Or, perhaps, you could just mist the plant with a spray that changes its gene expression without altering its genetics. Read More >>

food
That ‘Fake Plastic Rice’ in Nigeria Was Actually Something Much More Depressing

The other week, Nigerian officials seized over 100 bags of what was claimed to be plastic rice. Lab tests have since shown the product isn’t fake, as we and other outlets reported. But it is badly contaminated rice that’s unsafe for human consumption. The incident is casting light on the sorry state of the economy and food production in Nigeria—along with a government that’s anxious to deflect the blame elsewhere. Read More >>