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Articles by Tia Ghose

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  • EPA versus the antimicrobial keychain

    The EPA is deciding whether to class an antimicrobial keychain as a pesticide, according to an article in the New York Times.

    The product, called the handler, is basically a small, plastic pirate's claw impregnated with nanoscale silver particles. The particles prevent bacteria from getting a foothold on the hook. Have to go to the ATM and come into contact with filthy keys that other flu-ridden people have pawed? No problem, just pull out your hook.

    Not so fast!

    Apparently, the EPA thinks that, because of those pesky silver particles, the product may be considered a pesticide according to a 1947 law:

  • Scientists suggest transforming atmospheric CO2 into gasoline

    An article published in The New York Times today describes a proposal to use carbon in the atmosphere to make gasoline. The principle itself is quite simple -- similar ideas have been proposed before. According to the article:

    Air would be blown over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate, which would absorb the carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide would then be extracted and subjected to chemical reactions that would turn it into fuel: methanol, gasoline or jet fuel. This process could transform carbon dioxide from an unwanted, climate-changing pollutant into a vast resource for renewable fuels. The closed cycle -- equal amounts of carbon dioxide emitted and removed -- would mean that cars, trucks and airplanes using the synthetic fuels would no longer be contributing to global warming.

    The idea is purely theoretical at this point -- no factories or prototypes have been built. But even as pure speculation there's one major hurdle; the process requires large amounts of input energy. And where would this energy come from?

  • Israel trades irrigation technology for access to India’s ag-gene bank

    Israel is seeking to invest in Indian agriculture, according to this article in the India Times. The two powers signed a bilateral agricultural agreement a couple years ago; in the pact, India agreed to trade information on "genetic resources" from their crops in exchange for Israel's dryland farming expertise. As part of the agreement, Israel would share its expertise on water recycling and irrigation. It would also help India "intensify" its agricultural production, share greenhouse farming techniques and "livestocks feed, dairy equipment, and technology," according to the article. Israel's biggest dairy producer, TNUVA, is also interested in India's dairy industry.

    Will this be a good thing for Indian farmers or the environment? I have my doubts.