From Science Daily. Is this for real? Anybody try the experiment and
report to the NG? (My tomatoes are already so tall, I'm afraid to
chat with them <g>.)
Do women's voices make tomatoes grow faster?
03:59 PM PT, Jun 25 2009
The Telegraph reports this week that a new study by Britain’s Royal
Horticultural Society has found that tomato plants grew up to two
inches taller when women gardeners talked to them regularly. The men
apparently were so bad at communicating with their tomatoes -- hard to
believe -- their plants actually grew less than a plant that was left
In the April experiment, the public was invited to record excerpts
from John Wyndham’s "The Day of the Triffids," William Shakespeare's
"A Midsummer's Night Dream" and Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of
Species." A selection of voices was then played to 10 plants via
headphones connected to the plant pot.
Not surprisingly, the best results came from Sarah Darwin, great-great
granddaughter of the legendary botanist. After reading a passage from
"On the Origin of Species," Darwin saw her plant grow nearly two
inches taller than the best performing male.
Note to self: Time to start reading Michael Pollan to the Better Boys.
An amusing fluff piece of infotainment for the daily "fish-wrap".
It is appropriate, here as well, since we are about plants. It would
have been a bit more informative though, if we could have known if it
was a double blind study, why only 10 plants were talked to, was there
only one plant for control, and has this experiment passed peer review?
I would have thought having Prince Charles talk to a plant, would have
been it's death sentence.
Personally, I prefer stories that explain, rather than just amuse.
CARE Rejects US Food Aid
In August 2007, one of the biggest and best-known American charity
organizations, CARE, announced that it was turning down $45 million a
year in food aid from the United States government. CARE claims that the
way US aid is structured causes rather than reduces hunger in the
countries where it is received. The US budgets $2 billion a year for
food aid, which buys US crops to feed populations facing starvation
amidst crisis or enduring chronic hunger.
The organization¹s announcement prompted argument about the forms and
objectives of the aid given by the US and other big powers to third
world countries and the role that most charity organizations are
playing. The reasoning behind CARE¹s decision is part of a years-long
debate that has influenced everything from US trade and domestic
legislation to the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization talks.
CARE¹s 2006 report, ³White Paper on Food Aid Policy,² points out that
the current food aid program is motivated by profit rather than
altruism. The policy, which dictates that donated money be used to
purchase food in the home country, results in a program driven by ³the
export and surplus disposal objectives of the exporting country² and not
the needs of people in hunger.
The US policy implements the practice of monetization, a food aid policy
in which the US government buys surplus food from American
agribusinesses that have already been heavily subsidized, and ships it
via US shipping lines (generating transport costs that eat up much of
the $2 billion annual food aid provided by the US government) to aid
organizations working around the world. The aid organizations then sell
the US-grown crops to local populations, at a dramatically reduced cost.
The aid organizations use proceeds from these sales to fund their
development and anti-poverty programs. But several groups, with CARE at
the forefront, have pointed out that this policy has the effect of
undermining local farmers and destabilizing the very food production
systems that aid organizations are working to strengthen.
A policy that puts local farmers out of commission and undermines
agriculture in developing countries becomes part of a process by which
those countries lose the means to develop‹and thus grow more dependent
on the stronger and more dominant nations. These countries become more
vulnerable in every sphere, not only economically but politically as
well. The result is likely to be more hunger and less sovereignty as
countries are tied ever more tightly to the world market.
³We are not against emergency food aid for things like drought and
famine,² CARE spokeswoman Alina Labrada said, ³but local farmers are
being hurt instead of helped by this mechanism.²
The European Union has also been critical of the US food aid program.
European countries all but phased out the practice of monetization in
the 1990s. Only 10 percent of their budgeted food aid is reserved for
crops grown in Europe. Suspicions remain that the US uses monitized food
aid programs to avoid limits on its universally contested farm subsidies.
The UN World Food Programme, the largest distributor of food aid in the
world, has rejected the practice of monetization and does not allow its
grain to be sold by NGOs.
The past two US congressional farm bills presented proposals to shift
portions of the food aid budget from grain to cash donations, to be made
available for people in need to buy locally grown crops. Both attempts
were voted down.
There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who
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