Bits and Pieces: Featherless Chickens, High School Happy Meals, Timber Tax Breaks

Short news bits on human-powered speed, nitrogen fertilizer and migratory birds.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
May/June 1984

Read how the price of natural gas may affect the cost of corn. 
ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF


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Pre-Plucked Pullets 

Researchers in California attempting to breed the perfect pullet have succeeded in producing a featherless chicken. Their attempts may have fallen a little short of perfection, however: Even though the bare birds eliminate the need for plucking and have fewer parasites, they seem to spend a great deal of energy trying to stay warm. Consequently, the wonder chickens eat more feed and lay fewer eggs. They're also more prone to disease than the unimproved feathered varieties.

Persuasive Argument for Organic Fertilizers 

Rising natural gas prices will triple the retail price of nitrogen fertilizer by 1985, according to a U.S. Department of Commerce report. Farmers won't be the only ones affected: The cost of a bushel of corn could increase by 50%.

Frostline Kits Makes Last-Minute Comeback 

We recently told you that unless a buyer turned up very fast, Frostline Kits, the "old timer" of outdoor gear kit-makers, would be no more. Well, a buyer did show. It's the same outfit, except for new faces and a new address, and it's holding to Fall '83 catalog prices.

Human-Powered Speed 

In 1980 a supine tricycle hit 58.89 MPH on level ground, establishing a record for single-rider human-powered vehicles that some folks believe can't be beat. But the people at Du Pont think otherwise. To encourage would be record breakers, they're willing to pay $15,000 to the first person to build and demonstrate a single-rider human-powered vehicle that reaches 65 MPH on level ground. Contact the Du Pont Prize Committee regarding the prize. 

Migrating Birds Losing Winter Habitat 

An article in a recent issue of National Wildlife brought the effects of tropical deforestation a bit closer to home. Studies indicate that the population decline of some North American migratory birds can be attributed to destruction of their winter habitat in South America. Affected populations include warblers, chats, flycatchers, thrushes, and buntings. Since more than one-third of the birds that breed in this country winter in the tropics, Latin American conservation practices may soon concern all Americans.

Tree Farm Tax Deductions   

Tree farm owners may qualify for capital gains deductions, Homeowner's Advisor newsletter points out, and these tax breaks are especially significant if timber is sold on the property. For information on taxation of timber estates and capital gains, owners should send an outline of their operations to the Forest Industries Committee on Timber Valuation and Taxation.

It's America's Meat and Potatoes, They Say 

McDonalds, in an apparent attempt to educate the public about the nutritional value of its fast-food offerings, will be opening a franchise in a Fort Lauderdale (Florida) High School. The Broward County School Board is legally required to continue the regular school lunch program as well, but this is a small concession when you consider the board expects to collect close to $10,000 during the franchise's first year of operation.

More Bits  

The number of self-employed individuals in the U.S. rose by an unprecedented 367,000 last year, a recent Labor Department survey revealed. 

Visits to the doctor for minor illnesses declined 35% among families who participated in a program encouraging medical self-care, says the Journal of the American Medical Association.

And another health article, featured in The Lancet medical journal, confirmed what many have suspected all along: the mere sight of a doctor can result in abnormally high blood pressure readings. 

Maine has become the first state to enact a returnable pesticide container law, requiring a deposit-and-return system for limited- and restricted-use pesticides.

Gamma radiation, recently given further approval by the Food and Drug Administration, will probably take the place of the banned pesticide EDB in food processing. Already used on grain, irradiation will now be permitted on fresh produce.


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