Ancient Barley Could Help Farmers Adapt to Changing Climate

Publication: By John Roach   Date: July 27, 2009   View Article

DNA has been recovered from an ancient form of barley that persisted for more than 3,000 years and the tastes of five civilizations in Egypt’s upper Nile, according to a new study.

The barely was particularly well-adapted to the region’s parched climate, allowing it to trump more bountiful but less hardy varieties, according to genetic analyses of the preserved grains.

The finding could assist efforts to breed modern crops that are able to survive a drying climate, noted plant researcher Robin Allaby, an associate professor at the University of Warwick in the UK.

“If we find genes that have evolved to cope with arid conditions, we can then look to transferring those genes, or replicating those genes in modern varieties,” he explained to me in an e-mail exchange.


High-Rise Farms: The Future of Food?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 30, 2009   View Article

Salads of the future may still be served in bowls, but their ingredients might be grown in skyscrapers.

That’s the hope of scientists and architects who are erecting a unique strategy to feed a swelling population on a planet with finite farmland.

Cow Genome Decoded – Cheaper Beef for Everybody?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2009   View Article

The humble cow has now had its entire genome sequenced, a new study says.

Six years in the making, the feat could lead to healthier, cheaper beef and milk, according to scientists.

Fast Food Made Up Mostly of Corn

Publication: Fast Food Made Up Mostly of Corn   Date: November 11, 2008   View Article

If you are what you eat, most Americans are an ear of corn, new research suggests.

A chemical analysis of popular fast foods reveals that some form of the grain appears as a main ingredient in most items—especially beef.

Travel/Culture Photos Weekly: Culinary Olympics, More

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 20, 2008   View Article

Captions for photos of travel destinations and cultural events around the world. Shots include the Culinary Olympics in Germany, the Feast of Tabernacles in Israel, an eagle hunting competition in Kyrgyzstan, Lord of Miracles procession in Peru, and a tomato fight in China.

Fungus Puts the Heat in Chili Peppers, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 11, 2008   View Article

There’s a fungus among us chili fans—and some of the spicy peppers evolve their kick to repel it, a new study says.

Chili peppers develop piquant chemicals to thwart the harmful microbes long enough to give birds and other animals a chance to disperse the pepper seeds, helping the chilies to procreate, scientists found.

With U.S. Farmland Maxed Out, Growers Tap Into Reserves

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 2, 2008   View Article

Even though soaring commodity prices are bringing new pressures to increase agricultural output, U.S. farmland is maxed out, limiting any response to price hikes and highlighting how agricultural productivity has failed to keep pace with increasing world demand, experts say.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach