Proto-humans are ancient history

The small, chinless "Hobbits" of Indonesia, cousins of modern humans also known as Homo floresiensis ("Flores Man"), turn out to be older than scientists had previously thought.`

Lupus Linked to Petroleum Exposure

Scientists in Boston and New Mexico have shown that exposure to petroleum is linked to the deadly auto-immune disease lupus. The illness is already known to have genetic origins -- African- American women are nine times more likely to get it. But reports show the environment plays a role, especially in two black neighborhoods in Boston. Residents of Roxbury and Mattapan live near gasoline stations or sites near petroleum-product dumping groups, and have the highest rate of lupus in the region. Another study of people living in a housing development in Hobbs, New Mexico, built on the site of a former oil-field dump, detected an incidence of Lupus at 30 to 99 times higher than estimates for the general population.

The Disappearing Honeybee

A widespread honeybee die-off, known as "colony collapse disorder," has seen bees disappear from hundreds of thousands of hives around the world this winter. Experts are scrambling to explain why bees are fleeing their hives en masse and dying elsewhere. Honeybees affect one-third of all food eaten in America and the United Kingdom, pollinating orchards, gardens and crops. Twenty-four U.S. states have been affected, as have Scotland, Spain, Italy, Poland, Greece and other parts of Europe. A Pennsylvania beekeeper blames a new insecticide used to treat agricultural crops, while scientists on the West Coast say the culprit is cold weather and mites.

Plastics & Your Health

By Martin Leatherman & staff
New studies of chemicals used in plastics reveal potential health problems, including miscarriages and abnormal fetus development. But regulation remains a tricky prospect. Legislators in California are developing bills targeting chemicals used in consumer products, including plastics, which may cause human health problems.
Cosmetics and chemical manufacturers say that such new legislation is unnecessary because a variety of state and federal laws already regulate the industry, according to the Christian Science Monitor. One chemical of concern, bisphenol-A, or BPA, is used in baby bottles, teething rings, packaging materials and wall and floor coverings. In a study published in the May 2005 edition of Endocrinology, mouse fetuses exposed to one percent of the amount of BPA deemed safe for humans developed significantly more tissue in their mammary glands.

The Glaciers Melt

Martin Leatherman,
The melting of the world's glaciers is bringing new attention to the threat of global climate change. One recent study published in the journal Science found that 87 percent of the 244 marine glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated over the last 50 years. As atmospheric temperatures rose along the peninsula, glaciers moved south toward mainland Antarctica. Now, scientists may have the valuable ocean temperature data -- or "smoking gun" -- they say will help them predict climate change. According to the Associated Press, the study showed that the Earth is absorbing more energy than it is releasing.

Genetically Engineered Food: Safety Research

Read the main article. Although the FDA does not conduct safety testing on genetically engineered foods, research is ongoing throughout the world, and not always free of controversy. The following is a brief overview:
--Food-safety researcher Dr. Arpad Pusztai reported in 1998 that rats fed genetically engineered potatoes at a British lab developed immune system deficiencies and stunted growth. After announcing his findings, Pusztai was suspended by the lab at which he worked. Other independent researchers supported his conclusions.