Earth

Washington, DC – The safety of early applications of synthetic biology may be adequately addressed by the existing regulatory framework for biotechnology, especially in contained laboratories and manufacturing facilities. But further advances in this emerging field are likely to create significant challenges for U.S. government oversight, according to a new report authored by Michael Rodemeyer of the University of Virginia. Synthetic biology promises major advances in areas such as biofuels, specialty chemicals, and agriculture and drug products.

LA JOLLA, CA — A receptor for glutamate, the most prominent neurotransmitter in the brain, plays a key role in the process of "unlearning," report researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Their findings, published in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, could eventually help scientists develop new drug therapies to treat a variety of disorders, including phobias and anxiety disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder.

Researchers from the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be presenting at this year's American Chemical Society 2009 Spring Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah. The following talk will occur on Tuesday afternoon.

Scientists like to pay it forward. According to a new study by Université de Montréal professors Christian Dagenais and Michel Janosz, most academics are quite open to knowledge transfer.

"We debunked the myth that researchers are so consumed by their work that they don't have time for knowledge transfer," says Dagenais, a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology and director of the Centre de liaison sur l'intervention et la prévention psychosociales (CLIPP).

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Using cell phones and playing video games may not be as harmful to children's academic performance as previously believed, according to new research by a team of Michigan State University scholars.

In fact, cell phones had no effect on academic performance among a group of 12-year-olds, the researchers found in a three-year study published by the Conference Proceedings of the International Association for Development of the Information Society, or IADIS, in Barcelona, Spain.

STILLWATER, OK—Ice storms and other severe weather can have devastating impacts on agricultural crops, including perennial tree crops. Major ice storms occur at least once a decade, with truly catastrophic "icing events" recorded once or twice a century within a broad belt extending from eastern Texas through New England. Ice storms can result in overwhelming losses to orchards and expensive cleanup for producers.

Family secrets such as alcoholism, abuse and unwanted pregnancies are quite common and an obstacle to healing when disease strikes, according to Marie-Dominique Beaulieu, a professor at the Université de Montréal's Department of Family Medicine.

"I see it in my practice," says Beaulieu, who also holds the Dr. Sadok Besrour Family Medicine Research Chair. "Family secrets lead to feelings of guilt, anger and helplessness. These feelings have a considerable impact on health, specifically on the capacity to adapt and find a balance in times of disease."

Leading members of the Texas scientific community, in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), have urged the Texas State Board of Education to reject amendments to the state's draft science standards that would undermine sound science teaching.

The board is to take a final vote on the standards on Friday, 27 March.

Oil palm cultivation is a significant driver of tropical forest destruction across Southeast Asia. It could easily become a threat to the Amazon rainforest because of a proposed change in Brazil's legislation, new infrastructure and the influence of foreign agro-industrial firms in the region, according to William F. Laurance, senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.