Study projects how climate change will affect wheat-eating bugs

A couple of ordinary-looking refrigerator-type chambers at the University of Idaho may soon reveal what farmers might expect as the planet warms and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere go up.

The chambers, which are being monitored this summer by Seth Davis and Nate Foote of the U of I, are used to measure the effect of normal and higher rates of carbon dioxide on the cereal leaf beetle – an insect that can be devastating to wheat crops. The experiment is part of a national project aimed at helping scientists understand what could happen to the ecosystem as global warming continues throughout the 21st century.

“Everyone should be happy that our projections are saying that in this region, in the near term, (effects from global warming) are not significantly damaging,” said U of I entomologist Sanford Eigenbrode. “In the long term the uncertainty is greater but unless there is some reversal of the process it’s going to get very hard to grow wheat here ultimately. The idea is to be ready…”

Eigenbrode’s team participated in the National Assessment of Climate Change released recently by the Obama administration, warning of the potential consequences of continued global warming.

It may seem trivial to study the effects of higher levels of carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures on a bug, but the experiment is a bellwether for some of the challenges farmers would face in a changing environment.

The cereal leaf beetle was introduced into the Palouse in the late 1990s but has since been successfully controlled by a parasite wasp that feeds on the beetle and reduces its effect.

Eigenbrode said there are indications, however, the beetle and the wasp would adapt differently in a warmer climate with higher carbon dioxide levels.

The parasite is likely not to be as effective at controlling the beetle, thus increasing the potential for damage to wheat and other cereal grain crops…

“There are parts of the world that used to produce crops that don’t anymore,” Eigenbrode said. “We really don’t want to be one of those places.”

Agribusiness is one of those rare niches in capitalism where participants tend to peer out into the future – preparing for the good and the bad. Unlike the rest of the investing class who barely contain themselves through monthly portions of quarterly cycles.

And Congress which, as we well know, only plans for the next election.

Thanks, Mike

Putting Charlotte’s Web – and cannabidiol – to the (clinical) test

Zaki Jackson is one of the success stories in reducing seizures in epilepsy patients

There’s a lot to get excited about with Charlotte’s Web, the cannabis oil featured on this week’s “TechKnow” that appears to drastically reduce, or even stop entirely, massive and debilitating seizures in kids with severe epilepsy. But even setting aside the obvious controversy — should parents be treating their children with medical marijuana? — there’s still a lot that’s not yet known.

Even though Jesse Stanley, whose dispensary developed Charlotte’s Web, has a waiting list of thousands of families eager to get access to the drugs, he understands that federal distribution and wider acceptance are still a work in progress…

While Crystal Dilworth [TECHKNOW contributor and molecular neuroscientist] says there’s a clear compassionate-use argument for the Colorado families using Charlotte’s Web — most showed little to no progress with traditional, Western pharmaceuticals — any larger use of this or similar treatments raises some big questions.


Though the Stanley brothers pride themselves on consistent production standards and closely monitor the drug’s impact with families, as well as using blood tests to determine and adjust dosing amounts, Charlotte’s Web has not been a part of any FDA-approved studies.


“We assume that because Charlotte’s Web is so high in cannabidiol, or CBD, that it is what is causing the change in seizures,” Dilworth says, but the process used by the Stanley brothers doesn’t isolate pure CBD or account for the impact of other ingredients used in making the oil, such as the food-grade alcohol or olive oil. “You can’t really make the statements about what’s working if you don’t know for sure.”

The GW Pharmaceuticals trials seen in “TechKnow” are not testing Charlotte’s Web. “It’s not a preparation, it’s a pharmacological compound,” says Cilio. “Pure CBD is only obtainable in the lab. There is always a small percentage of THC in the artisanal preparation, including Charlotte’s Web.”

The Stanley brothers are concerned that if pure CBD trials aren’t successful, it could be confused with poor results for Charlotte’s Web. But, Dilworth says, “If the GW single-compound study doesn’t produce positive results, it is entirely possible that Charlotte’s Web extract is special because it contains a certain ratio of other molecules that are necessary for seizure cessation. It is not uncommon for multiple compounds to act synergistically to exert a unique physiological effect — neuroscientists call this ‘potentiation.’ CBD could still be the important molecule, but it might need help from others to be fully effective…”


While marijuana is considered very safe, there’s plenty about the long-term toxicity of cannabis products — especially when used by children — that’s unknown.

One of the very best things about Al Jazeera America becoming a reality on US television – has been the range of uniquely American features supplementing their regular news programming. TECHKNOW being one of the very best. It’s a high priority in our DVR. Though it may be a day or two before we sit down to view each week’s programming – the two or three topics featured always provoke interest and discussion.

Ain’t too much in knowledge programming on US television likely to have that effect.

Newborns exposed to dirt, dander, germs may have a lower allergy, asthma risk

Infants exposed to rodent and pet dander, roach allergens and a wide variety of household bacteria in the first year of life appear less likely to suffer from allergies, wheezing and asthma, according to results of a study conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and other institutions.

Previous research has shown that children who grow up on farms have lower allergy and asthma rates, a phenomenon attributed to their regular exposure to microorganisms present in farm soil. Other studies, however, have found increased asthma risk among inner-city dwellers exposed to high levels of roach and mouse allergens and pollutants. The new study confirms that children who live in such homes do have higher overall allergy and asthma rates but adds a surprising twist: Those who encounter such substances before their first birthdays seem to benefit rather than suffer from them. Importantly, the protective effects of both allergen and bacterial exposure were not seen if a child’s first encounter with these substances occurred after age 1…

A report on the study, published on June 6 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, reveals that early exposure to bacteria and certain allergens may have a protective effect by shaping children’s immune responses — a finding that researchers say may help inform preventive strategies for allergies and wheezing, both precursors to asthma…

The study was conducted among 467 inner-city newborns from Baltimore, Boston, New York and St. Louis whose health was tracked over three years. The investigators visited homes to measure the levels and types of allergens present in the infants’ surroundings and tested them for allergies and wheezing via periodic blood and skin-prick tests, physical exams and parental surveys. In addition, the researchers collected and analyzed the bacterial content of dust collected from the homes of 104 of the 467 infants in the study…

Asthma is one of the most common pediatric illnesses, affecting some 7 million children in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By the time they turn 3, up to half of all children develop wheezing, which in many cases evolves into full-blown asthma.

Doesn’t everyone have a grandma story about how much dirt you’re supposed to eat before you get to go to school instead of playing outdoors? I certainly did. Both sides of the family.

89-yr-old veteran disappears from nursing home – shows up at D-Day anniversary in Normandy

Bernard Jordan

A World War Two veteran who disappeared from his nursing home to attend the D-Day commemorations in France is on his way back to the UK.

Bernard Jordan, 89, left the home in Hove unannounced at 10:30 BST on Thursday and was reported missing to Sussex Police that evening…

The former Royal Navy officer said he hoped his trip would not land him in trouble.

On Friday evening, it was confirmed Mr Jordan was on an overnight ferry and had been given a cabin, meals and a transfer back to his nursing home.

Prior to embarking, Mr Jordan told ITV News: “I have been here last year and I have been here obviously this time… but if I am still about I shall try next year’s as well.”

Asked if he would be in trouble when he returned home, he added: “I might be, but I hope not.”

RTFA for the whole tale – including some misconceptions corrected. Mr. Jordan had also gone to the 50th and 60th commemorations of the invasion – and likely thought this might be his last trip.