The Daily Dose: Your Guide to the World Today – 21 August 09

Japanese researchers have developed a new rice plant which grows "snorkels" to survive when exposed to floods, potentially boosting rice production in Asia and Africa, where up to 40% of crops are subject to flash floods or deep water.

The U.S. “cash for clunkers” trade-in program will stop accepting applications on Aug. 24, bringing to a close an effort that helped revive auto sales and drew the ire of dealers for slow repayments.

France faces an invasion of Chinese hornets that could hasten the decline of the honeybee population. The wasps, known by their scientific name Vespa velutina, could also threaten bee-keepers' livelihoods, researchers say. They have spread rapidly since 2004 with over 1100 nests identified, and could reach other European countries soon.

The US secretary of commerce has approved a plan that would prohibit an expansion of commercial fishing in the Arctic, at least until more is known about the area. The goal is to come up with a sustainable fishing plan that will not harm the overall health of the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

Another step has been taken toward the creation of synthetic organisms with a new "engineered" strain of bacteria. A team successfully transferred the genome of one type of bacteria into a yeast cell, modified it, and then transplanted into another bacterium, an advance which overcomes the obstacle of making a new inserted genome work inside a recipient cell.

Australia and New Zealand have discussed a joint carbon market at talks in Sydney today. Plans for cap and trade schemes are in limbo in both countries as the two governments struggle to negotiate the required parliamentary support from their respective oppositions.

Trucks that drive themselves or robots that perform surgery are fraught with legal and ethical issues, the British Royal Academy of Engineering says, noting that automated freight transport could be on the roads within 10 years. Already driverless vehicles are used in locations such as Heathrow Airport.

British customs officials have arrested seven people suspected of dodging taxes that should have been paid for selling £38 million, or nearly $63 million, of carbon dioxide permits — the main currency in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.

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  • Posted on Aug. 21, 2009. Listed in:

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