Loophole allows human-animal cell experiments
A loophole in Britain’s embryo research laws is allowing scientists to create human-animal hybrid cells without the need for a licence. The restrictive wording of the government embryology watchdog’s legal remit means that it has no power to regulate experiments in which human and animal material are fused to create new cells, The Times has learnt.
Sainsbury's cowed into non-GM milk
Sainsbury's is to market a new range of GM-free milk after a surge in demand from shoppers. The company denied last night that it had caved in to Greenpeace, which has waged a high-profile campaign against the store selling milk from cattle fed gentically modified fodder. City experts, however, believe that the company was under pressure from shareholders concerned about a possible impact on profits.
Free play healthier than PE
Children get more physical benefit from kicking a ball around in the park or playground than from PE lessons, a study has found. The effort of unstructured play burns more calories than the average of 70 minutes a week of formal games that pupils get in school. The research by University College London, strengthens the case for encouraging investment in local parks and playgrounds and suggests that the emphasis on tackling obesity should focus as much on the different ways in which calories can be burnt off as on the ways they are consumed, experts said.
Government draws up plans to combat West Nile virus
Health officials will order Britons to cover themselves with mosquito-repellant ointment, spray their homes each evening and erect special anti-mosquito screens if the potentially deadly West Nile virus arrives in this country.
Garden ponds, water butts and other breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects would also have to be emptied under plans to combat the disease, which has spread rapidly across much of the world.
Climate disaster 'upon us'
Humans have done so much damage to the atmosphere that even if they stop burning all fossil fuels immediately, they risk leaving an impoverished Earth for their descendants, a giant of research in the field will say this week. James Lovelock, who detected the build-up of ozone-destroying CFCs and formulated the Gaia theory, will tell a conference in Devon: "We have not yet awakened to the seriousness of global warming."
A square of dark chocolate a day could keep the cardiologist away
Dark chocolate has joined Guinness, sherry and red wine on the list of foods and drinks that are good for the heart, because it boosts blood vessel function. Research found that plain chocolate containing high levels of cocoa is rich in flavonoids, the antioxidant chemicals that reduce the stickiness of the blood and counter the inflammation of the blood vessels.
Is seabird's population rise down to cod's decline?
The remarkable breeding success of Britain's most prolific seabird may be a sinister warning, rather than the sign of a healthy ecosystem, a world expert on the common guillemot believes. Their steadily increasing numbers may be caused by a decline in the marine environment, Professor Tim Birkhead says. Overfishing of British waters could have caused a "regime shift" in fish stocks, and the sprats on which the guillemot lives may have become more plentiful, because the larger fish which preyed on them have themselves been heavily fished.
Why we have the Turks to thank for defeating the Armada
New claims that Elizabeth's protestant throne was saved by a less celebrated ally: the Turkish navy. Jerry Brotton, a lecturer at Royal Holloway College, London, told the Guardian Hay literary festival that a hitherto unnoticed letter from Elizabeth's security chief to her ambassador in Istanbul showed that it was Turkish naval manoeuvres rather than Drake's swashbuckling which delivered the fatal blow to the Spanish invasion plans.
The autistic artistry of Michelangelo
Michelangelo may have been an artistic genius but he was a social cripple — and may have suffered a mild form of autism, two psychiatrists claim today. A loner, self-absorbed and fired by an intense desire to control every feature of his life, Michelangelo met many of the diagnostic criteria of Asperger’s syndrome, a psychiatrist, Dr Muhammad Arshad, says in Journal of Medical Biography.