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Mexico and the United States appear to be headed for another commercial dispute, this time over a Mexican ban on imports of genetically modified yellow corn. In a strongly worded message, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote that “time is running short” to resolve the issue. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday that Mexico won't back down on a ban on imports of GM corn for human consumption. López Obrador says Mexico will also study whether to ban it for animal feed. Vilsack wrote that the U.S. will consider “taking formal steps to enforce our legal rights under the USMCA” trade treaty.

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Facial recognition technology is mostly associated with uses such as surveillance and the authentication of human faces, but a group of scientists believe they’ve found a new use for it: saving seals. A research team at Colgate University has developed SealNet, a database of seal faces created by taking pictures of dozens of harbor seals in Maine’s Casco Bay. The team found its accuracy at identifying the marine mammals is close to 100%, which is no small accomplishment in an ecosystem home to thousands of seals. The researchers are working on expanding their database to make it available to other scientists.

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If you're cooking or eating a special dinner this week, you have something in common with our ancient human ancestors. A recent study found the oldest evidence of using fire to cook, dating back to 780,000 years ago. The study comes from a site in Israel, where members of an extinct human species probably cooked fish over a fire. Scientists think learning to cook was a big step for  evolution, because it helped early humans fuel their bigger brains. Later on, using food for special ceremonies helped build community when humans settled down. In the first feast 12,000 years ago, Stone Age humans ate tortoises and cattle to mark the death of a shaman.

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David Quammen was right. That’ll be chiseled someday into his gravestone. For much of 2020, the great contemporary science writer — whose career started in Chicago more than 50 years ago, in a quite different space — watched as his 2012 bestseller, “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic,” went from science-driven prophesy to science reality. With eerily exacting details, he ...

Cities across the world have promised to plant more carbon-absorbing trees to help fight climate change. Research has shown the shade of mature trees also helps reduce unhealthful “heat islands,” especially in poor neighborhoods. But life of a city tree is already challenging and those problems are being compounded by a warming planet. Increasingly, the challenge for city arborists is to keep old and new trees alive, and it's incurring a bigger hit on municipal budgets.

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How do you stop a cow from burping? It might sound like the start of a humorous riddle, but it’s the subject of a huge scientific inquiry in New Zealand. And the answer could have profound effects on the health of the planet. More specifically, the question is how to stop cows, sheep and other farm animals from belching out so much methane. New Zealand scientists are coming up with some surprising solutions that could put a big dent in animal emissions. Among the more promising are selective breeding, genetically modified food, methane inhibitors, and a potential game-changer, a vaccine. Because farming is central to the economy, about half of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from farms, compared to less than 10% in the U.S.

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Scores of turtle species are under threat from poaching. The illegal trade of turtles in the United States is aimed mostly at markets in Asia and Europe, where reptiles, some with brightly colored shells, are coveted in the pet trade. Others are destined for dinner tables in Asia, where they are popular delicacies. The plight of turtles is expected to get plenty of attention at a wildlife trade conference in Panama this month. There are several proposals at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora conference to increase protections for the alligator snapping turtle, the map turtle, the red-crowned roofed turtle and a few others.

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NONFICTION: A Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and physician returns with a sweeping, erudite story of cells, the basic unit of all life. "The Song of the Cell" by Siddhartha Mukherjee; Scribner (473 pages, $32.50) ——— Rhodes Scholar, renowned oncologist, contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Times. Author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Emperor of All Maladies" and bestselling "The ...

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The lone volunteer in a unique study involving a gene-editing technique has died, and those behind the trial are now trying to figure out what killed him. Terry Horgan, a 27-year-old who had Duchenne muscular dystrophy, died last month, according to Cure Rare Disease, a Connecticut-based nonprofit founded by his brother, Rich, to try and save him. Although it’s still unclear what killed him, his death is raising questions about the experiment and the overall prospect of what one ethicist calls designer genetic therapies. The hope for this study was to use a gene-editing tool called CRISPR to treat Horgan's particular form of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

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Hurricane Ian not only ravaged southwest Florida on land but was destructive underwater as well. Researchers say it destroyed reefs and brought along red tide, the harmful algae blooms that kill fish and birds. Marine researchers who returned last week from a six-day cruise organized by the Florida Institute of Oceanography to study marine life in the Gulf of Mexico say the hurricane left in its wake red tide and destroyed artificial reefs from afar as 30 miles off the coast of southwest Florida. Officials say red tide is threatening manatees off Sarasota and Charlotte counties that rely on seagrass for food.

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There’s an old saying that adversity makes you stronger. Real life shows that’s not always true, but the adage highlights an evolving debate among scientists about resilience. After traumatic events or major crises _ child abuse, gun violence, a pandemic _ what explains why some people bounce back and thrive, while others flounder, struggling to cope? Is it nature _ genes and other inherent traits? Or nurture _ life experiences and social interactions? Decades of research suggest both play a role, but that neither seals a person’s fate.  Experts say resilience can be learned, but it's not always easy.

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