African Slaves Brought First Rice Riches to U.S.?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 28, 2007   View Article

A rice variety that made many a colonial plantation owner rich was brought to the United States from West Africa, according to preliminary genetic research.

The finding suggests that African slaves are responsible for nearly every facet of one of the first rice varieties grown in the U.S., as well as one of the most lucrative crops in early American history.

Baby Rats Born From Mice

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 30, 2006   View Article

Rat sperm cells grown in mouse testicles have been used to successfully produce healthy baby rats, scientists say.

The research proves a concept first envisioned a decade ago: that functional sperm cells from many types of animals can be produced in small surrogate fathers of a different species.

The finding has implications for species conservation as well as farming and agriculture.

Hurricanes, Politics, Blowing Florida’s Laborers Away?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 15, 2006   View Article

Florida farmers are concerned that millions of pounds of fruit and vegetables may go unpicked next harvest season because U.S. immigration politics are keeping laborers from their fields.

And if hurricanes wallop the Sunshine State like they did the past two years, the problem could become even worse.

Ethanol Not So Green After All?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 11, 2006   View Article

High gas prices, the threat of shrinking oil reserves, and global warming guilt are driving interest in ethanol, biodeisel, and other biofuels—energy sources produced from agricultural plant matter rather than fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

But can biofuels really replace petroleum products? And are they really better for the environment than fossil fuels?

Mail Order Chickens: USPS Ships Live Birds by the Thousands

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 25, 2006   View Article

Some people want fresh eggs or poultry, others just want a quirky pet. Whatever the reason, just about any U.S. resident can get live young chickens in the mail.

“If you have a zip code, we can get them there,” said Murray McMurray, owner of the McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa.

Prehistoric Graves Reveal America’s First Baby Boom

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 9, 2006   View Article

A new study of prehistoric cemeteries in North America is adding weight to the theory that the development of agriculture helped fuel baby booms around the world.

According to the theory, populations swell when societies shift from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one based on the more sedentary routine of farming.

Can Global Warming Cause Caterpillar Outbreaks

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 16, 2005   View Article

Get ready—the killer caterpillars are coming.

As the weather gets wackier in response to rapid global warming, parasitism against caterpillars will decrease, biologists warn in a new study. This will free the caterpillars to devour agricultural fields and strip leafy forests bare.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach