Bee Breeding, Car Cost of Ownership, and Other News Items

A USDA bee breeding program and car cost of ownership figures are among the news items covered in this ongoing feature.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
March/April 1979
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A USDA bee breeding program aims to create bees and are more productive, long lived, disease-resistant, and less likely to sting.
ILLUSTRATION: す~ロン/FOTOLIA


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The following news items were drawn from multiple sources.


Bee Breeding

Super bees may be the result of work done by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bee Breeding Center. By crossbreeding selected stock, the researchers hope to develop new types of bees that will live longer, be more resistant to disease, more productive, and less ready to sting. Since the honey business is growing by 20% a year, these insects may help to fill the increased demand for American "ambrosia" in the Middle East and at home. Bees' venom is also being investigated as a possible source of new drugs.

Car Cost of Ownership

It costs $86.15 a week to operate your car (or $4,480 a year) if you drive a full-size luxury vehicle such as a Cadillac Deville or Lincoln Mark V. That figure includes financing, depreciation, insurance, license, taxes, maintenance, gasoline, oil, and tires, and is based on a four-year trade-in cycle with 56,000 miles of operation. A subcompact, four-cylinder auto will run you $46.36 a week (or $2,410 a year).

Robot Educator

2X-L, a patient robot with a "charming personality", is being sold by the Mego Corporation. The talking toy—invented by psychologists to help children learn—can be programmed to give true-and-false tests, teach the metric system, tell jokes, recount legends, praise a correct answer, and follow up an incorrect answer with an easy question. " He never gets angry," said one child, "even when I'm stupid."

Caterpillar Tire

A 100.000-mile tire has been designed by the Caterpillar Tractor Company, which that firm claims can "achieve better fuel economy through lower rolling resistance". Constructed of a continuously wound loop of wire encased in rubber, the new road-grabber can be built completely by machine. So far, however, all major companies have declined Caterpillar's licensing offers ... presumably because these manufacturers are not satisfied with the tire's handling ability.

Cow Beeper

Beep the cows home: A Wisconsin farmer, who got tired of the dally hike to the back forty to round up his milk herd, hung a beeper on the neck of his lead bovine and trained her to respond. Now, he just picks up the phone, dials a certain number, hangs up, and heads for the barn in time to greet Bossy and her crew.

Sodium Nitrite Exemption

Nitrite may be exempt from the law which requires a ban on any food additive that has been shown to cause cancer in humans or animals. The Food and Drug Administration says sodium nitrite (a preservative) might be excused because it was in regular use before the law was enacted in 1958.

Disease-Resistant Apple

A new disease-resistant apple named "Liberty" has been developed by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (Geneva, New York 14456) and may soon be found in local nurseries. A red dessert apple, Liberty is apparently immune to apple scab, fire blight, cedar apple rust, and mildew.

Family Farm Initiative

America has lost more than 130,000 farmers a year since 1945 as a result of economic pressure and political apathy. In an attempt to stop this trend, the National Family Farm Coalition has been established. The new organization intends to show how federal agricultural policy could encourage and maintain a food and farm system based on small and moderate-sized family farmsteads. 

Colombia Environmental Disaster

An environmental disaster in Colombia—caused by aerial crop spraying—has resulted in the death of thousands of animals, widespread sickness in the local population, and the forced migration of many peasant farmers. A study has shown that at least 30% of the people in the banana, cotton, and rice-growing areas of northern Colombia had insecticide-related illnesses (rashes, vomiting, headaches, anemia, respiratory and liver damage, and male sterility). Rain forests and animal habitats, as well as oyster beds, have been destroyed, and insects—already immune to the sprays—are now devouring Colombia's banana and cotton exports.

Missouri Consumer Discount

Missouri consumers who pay cash can flash a card and receive up to five percent discounts from participating merchants, thanks to a program established by that state's savings and loan associations. Since credit fees result in higher prices, the new system will increase merchants' profits while lowering costs!

In Brief...

TODAY'S WEATHER FORECASTS are 85% accurate up to 18 hours in advance, and about 75% correct up to 36 hours in advance .... The Federal General Accounting Office points out that ONE-FIFTH OF ALL THE FOOD WE PURCHASE IS WASTED through poor storage and overbuying. This means that Americans throw out 137 million tons of food—worth $31 billion—annually .... Statistically speaking, if you're 40 years old today, you'll live to be 72.6. If you're 50, you'll likely reach 74.1, and—if you're 60—you'll probably last until you're 76.8. Obviously, you have to LIVE LONG TO LIVE LONGER .... According to the Cousteau Society, TWO BILLION PEOPLE DRINK POLLUTED WATER and, of those, 10 million die every year from unsafe-water diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid .... A study at the University of Colorado concluded that MOST PET OWNERS OVERFEED THEIR ANIMALS , and that a diet high in protein and supplemented with vitamins and minerals is not only costly but may also endanger the pet's health .... NO-IRON, ALL-COTTON SHIRTS are a popular new item on the market, expected to be followed shortly by no-iron, all-cotton sheets .... You can CRASH CHEAPER if you drive a Buick Skylark or Mercury Zephyr. These two cars have the best records for cost of collision damages (50% less than average) of 95 models surveyed .... Should current inflationary trends persist until the year 2050, A LOAF OF BREAD WILL COST $37.50 , a medium-sized car will be $281,000, and a "modest" home will sell for $3.4 million.


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