Post Tagged with: "plants"

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

NPR reports:

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely. [...]

These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you’re not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.

Even university breeders operate under these rules. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies.

Full Story: NPR: Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

As the article notes, seed companies also often sell hybrid seeds, which don’t produce identical offspring — think of it as a biological “DRM” system for seeds. It’s sad that “open source” isn’t the norm in agriculture.

April 17, 2014 Comments are Disabled
The Internet of Plants: How Cyborg Plants Can Monitor Our World

The Internet of Plants: How Cyborg Plants Can Monitor Our World

Latest from me at Wired:

In the not too distant future, we could see cyborg plants that tell us when they need more water, what chemicals they’ve been exposed to, and what parasites are eating their roots. These part-organic, part-electronic creations may even tell us how much pollution is in the air. And yes, they’ll plug into the network.

That’s right: We’re on our way to the Internet of Plants.

That’s the message from Andrea Vitaletti, the head of a blue-sky research group working on this very thing at a lab in Italy. The project is called PLEASED, short for “PLants Employed As SEnsing Devices.” Though the project is still in the early stages, Vitaletti believes plants could serve as ideal sensors, monitoring so many aspects of our environment. Plants are cheap and resilient, he argues, and they could potentially monitor many different things simultaneously.

“Plants have millions of years of evolution. They are robust. They want to survive,” Vitaletti says.

Full Story: Wired: The Internet of Vegetables: How Cyborg Plants Can Monitor Our World

January 30, 2014 0 comments
Traditional Medicine, a Conversation with Renee Davis

Traditional Medicine, a Conversation with Renee Davis

I found this interesting because I normally come down in favor of western medicines and treatments:

In the case of the diabetes epidemic, I really paid attention to the narrative of the disease as dictated by Western biomedicine and, in contrast, indigenous peoples of Western North America. And I learned that they are operating on very different narratives. Western biomedicine says diabetes is caused by Indian genes, poor diet & lifestyle, etc. To many tribal people, this is a very doom and gloom story–if diabetes is caused by bad genes, what can you do about it? It’s disempowering. It also shames and blames Indian identity. Not surprisingly, many medical interventions, like getting diagnosed and treated, are traumatic in their own way. Getting one’s blood drawn and scrutinized for glucose levels, for example, reminds many of having their blood scrutinized for tribal enrollment. It can be felt as another face of social control.

Many tribal people, in contrast, understand the diabetes epidemic as an expression of the generational trauma they’ve experienced. Things like European epidemics, Indian boarding schools, nutritional trauma, environmental degradation, and reservation life were really hard hits to Salish life and culture. And these wounds span generations. And this is cited as the cause of the diabetes epidemic in tribal communities. So in this sense, there is definite spiritual and cultural dimension in diabetes etiology with Salish people.

So you have these 2 ways of looking at diabetes: one focuses on genes & diet, the other addressing cultural wounds. So when you build a diabetes program based in a biomedical understanding and try to implement it in a community that sees generational trauma as the primary cause, the program will fail. However, if you create a tribal diabetes program based in their cultural understandings, then you can get somewhere. So that was the big lesson: know the mental models of who you’re working with, and meet the people where they are. Not where you are.

Full Story: Traditional Medicine, a Conversation with Renee Davis

The whole thing is worth a read.

December 20, 2012 0 comments
93 percent of Ayurveda medicinal plants threatened with extinction

93 percent of Ayurveda medicinal plants threatened with extinction

Dhanvantari

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine could face an uncertain future as 93 percent of the wild plants used in the practice are threatened with extinction due to overexploitation, the Times of India reports. [...]

Of course, other traditional Asian medicines have been attacked for their use of parts from endangered animals, such as tiger bones and rhino horns, but Ayurveda has so far avoided such criticisms.

Scientific American: Ayurveda out of balance: 93 percent of medicinal plants threatened with extinction

Thanks Bill Whitcomb who asks:

Can’t someone start a medical rumor about that would tend to get rid of something we don’t like? Something like, “Annecdotal evidence from many traditional healers points to a terrific increase in male potency achieved by smoking the dried scrotums of Republicans, though this is not supported by any scientific studies to date.”

April 5, 2010 1 comment
Are cadmium-contaminated insects killing endangered meat-eating plants?

Are cadmium-contaminated insects killing endangered meat-eating plants?

Carnivorous plant

Around the world carnivorous plants are on the decline, the victims of habitat loss, illegal poaching and pollution. But now a new factor has come to light: The very insects the plants rely on for food may be poisoning them. [...]

Cadmium is widely used in fertilizers, metal coatings, electronics, batteries and other products. Both metals can accumulate in the environment, and thus in insects, through improper waste disposal.

Scientific American: The fly’s revenge: Are cadmium-contaminated insects killing endangered meat-eating plants?

(Thanks Bill)

April 5, 2010 1 comment
Nearly 100 new species described by California Academy of Sciences in 2009

Nearly 100 new species described by California Academy of Sciences in 2009

In 2009, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added 94 new relatives to our family tree. The new species include 65 arthropods, 14 plants, eight fishes, five sea slugs, one coral, and one fossil mammal. They were described by two dozen Academy scientists along with several dozen international collaborators.

Proving that there are still plenty of places to explore and things to discover on Earth, the scientists made their finds over four continents and two oceans, climbed to the tops of mountains and descended to the bottom of the sea, looked in their owns backyards (Yosemite National Park) and on the other side of the world (Yunnan Province, China). Their results, published in 29 different scientific papers, add to the record of life on Earth and will inform future studies on biodiversity, evolution, and conservation.

PhysOrg: Nearly 100 new species described by California Academy of Sciences in 2009

(via Social Physicist)

December 17, 2009 0 comments
Plants Have a Social Life, Too

Plants Have a Social Life, Too

After decades of seeing plants as passive recipients of fate, scientists have found them capable of behaviors once thought unique to animals. Some plants even appear to be social, favoring family while pushing strangers from the neighborhood.

Research into plant sociality is still young, with many questions unanswered. But it may change how people conceive of the floral world, and provide new ways of raising productivity on Earth’s maxed-out farmlands.

“When I was in school, researchers assumed that some plants were better or worse than others at getting resources, but they were blind to the whole social situation,” said Susan Dudley, a McMaster University biologist. “I went looking for it, and to my shock, found it. And we’ve found more of it since.”

In a paper published in the November American Journal of Botany, Dudley describes how Impatiens pallida, a common flowering plant, devotes less energy than usual to growing roots when surrounded by relatives. In the presence of genetically unrelated Impatiens, individuals grow their roots as fast as they can.

Wired: Plants Have a Social Life, Too

November 25, 2009 1 comment
New carnivorous plant big enough to eat rats

New carnivorous plant big enough to eat rats

rat eating plant

A new species of giant carnivorous plant has been discovered in the highlands of the central Philippines.

The pitcher plant is among the largest of all pitchers and is so big that it can catch rats as well as insects in its leafy trap.

BBC:
Giant ‘meat-eating’ plant found

August 12, 2009 1 comment
Whole Earth Review: The Alien Intelligence of Plants by Terrence McKenna and Howard Rheingold

Whole Earth Review: The Alien Intelligence of Plants by Terrence McKenna and Howard Rheingold

A full issue of the Whole Earth Review from 1989, edited by Terrence McKenna and Howard Rheingold.

The Whole Earth Review: The Alien Intelligence of Plants

(via Chris 23)

December 18, 2008 1 comment