The Badger Cull

The UK government has caused controversy in the farming, science and public communities by announcing that the proposed cull of badgers in the UK will be postponed until the summer of 2013. Badger numbers are estimated at between 250 – 300,000 and in 2011 alone 34,000 British cattle were killed due to the spread of […]

Poor risk communication is tree-mendously worrying

I was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and although I couldn’t wait to leave the place when I headed off to University, I have since come to love it in its own way. While Ipswich itself is a fairly bland place, my memories of the countryside around the town are pretty idyllic. I spent my 18th […]

Bovine TB Rates Miscounted?

Bovine TB rates are much higher than estimated Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) has become a devastating problem for British farmers, resulting in the slaughter of around 25,000 cattle last year, at a cost of more than £90 million to the taxpayer. But despite the eradication strategy pushed forward by the government, BTB infection rates continue to […]

Land Grabs: Who’s Winning?

There has been much media attention recently over the extent of ‘land grabs’ for agriculture, or the ‘foreignisation of space’ occurring in Africa. Estimates suggest up to 230 million hectares of land have been leased or bought largely to produce food, animal feed or biofuel for export in the aftermath of the food and energy […]

Badger, Badger, Badger …

It’s a debate that’s got everyone talking; animal rights activists, farmers, scientists and politicians. Yes, it’s about the dear old badger, and Government plans to tackle the spread of tuberculosis in cows through culling. Bovine TB has become a serious problem for British livestock and currently costs the taxpayer £100m a year. It is well-known […]

Buzz Off: Are Bees the Answer to the Elephant Wars?

“I studied Zoology.” “Oh right, the study of zoos.” “Not exactly.” Zoology is the study of ANIMALS and it’s one of those science disciplines that rarely gets the reaction that chemistry or physics have come to expect. The response is normally one of confusion – why would anyone want to study something that has no […]

Science Behind the Photo #22

The Insurance Hypothesis Farming monoculture, such as in this corn field, can lead to decreased net ecosystem CO2 intake, meaning land becomes less useful in the fight against climate change. According to the insurance hypothesis: “Biodiversity insures ecosystems against declines in their functioning because many species provide greater guarantees that some will maintain functioning even […]

Science Behind the photo #17

  If you own cows, don’t feed them mouldy beet silage – it could be their last meal. Experts were called to a farm in Belgium recently to investigate why cattle were refusing their food and dying.  They found that mould on the cows’ feed contained a powerful neurotoxin. It’s the first observed link between ingestion […]

A bug’s life is better with company

Parasites are amazing.  By taking advantage of the efforts of another species, parasites have been able to flourish in countless strange ways. For example, there is one parasite that lives only on the lips of lobsters (Symbion americanus). The fungal parasite, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis infects the brains of ants, causing them to climb high into the forest canopy, […]

Batting away pesticide use

Agriculture is a costly business. You need seeds to plant, fertilizer to make it grow and machinery to harvest. Unfortunately, we grow most of this food in big, exposed landscapes providing an delicious buffet for billions of insects. It is no surprise, therefore, that pesticide is one of the biggest expenses for British farmers (£720 […]

From the editor – Winter 2009

by Adrian Giordani Happy New Year and welcome to the first I, Science of the new decade. We have worked tirelessly to bring you the latest news from science topics, both domestic and international. Discover what methane may mean for microorganisms on Mars and the consequences of the Copenhagen Climate Conference for subsistence farmers in […]