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News Briefs
by Bronwen Humphreys - from IVU News 2001

The good

Chinese researchers have developed a silky cashmere-like fibre from soya bean protein. This could be good news for China's goats, which provide 8,000 tons of cashmere a year, about, 80% of the world's total. Environmentalists around the world are calling for restrictions on cashmere production because when goats are kept in large numbers, they have a devastating effect on grassland and may even cause desertification.

Swiss Company Rinspeed has developed a sports car capable of 0 to 60 miles an hour in under 6 seconds, and it's fuelled by vegetable waste! The Advantige R, which has a top speed of about 130 mph, can use biogas as an alternative to petrol. Biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, is produced by the fermentation of waste organic matter. As well as being a renewable resource. biogas produces between 60% and 90% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than petrol, only about the same as the decomposing vegetables.

The bad

A report published by The Soil Association this month warns that the meat and eggs of intensively reared chickens may contain higher levels of potentially damaging drug residues than Govemment figures suggest. Richard Young, one of the authors claims that about 20% of chicken meat and l0% of the eggs tested contained residues of "drugs deemed too dangerous for use in human medicine". MAFF said that all test resuits are reported fully every year and that last year, 99.500 of all samples were residue free. "The residues mentioned in the Soil Association reportwere all found at levels well below World Health Organization safety limits."

The WWF has warned that wild salmon stocks are declining all over the world and could sustain irreparable damage if preventive measures are not taken. The species is already extinct in 300 of the 2,000 rivers it naturally inhabits, including 7 of the 76 in England and Wales. Salmon catches fell by more than 80% between 1970 and the end of the century. Salmon are very "fine-tuned" genetically to their own river system so that introducing "new blood" is a threat rather than a help. It is very hard to restock a riser once its natural popula-tion is extinct.

The arctic is getting greener, probably because of climate change. Thousands of aerial photos of the Arctic were taken in the l940s during explorations for oil. USA cold-climate researchers have flown over the same locations again to compare the extent of the deciduous shrubs that grow there, beyond the northern limit for full-size trees and they discovered that in some places it had doubled.

The puzzling

Too much variety in your diet can make you fat according to a report issued by scientists at Buffalo University, USA. Eating the same foods meal after meal dulls the palate and reduces the appetite. They fed a four course meal to some test human subjects and found that those who had different foods for each course ate 4400 more than those who were of fered the same foods each course. The research suggests that choosing foods with similar sensory qualities (taste, shape and color) may help curb overeating. The British Dietetic Association recommended that people should still ensure they eat a well balanced diet but they could reduce the number of snacks and buffet-style foods (like quiche, crisps, sausage rolls, dips) they ate.

Bronwen Humphreys is the local Network Co-ordinator for the Vegetarian Society, UK.
News Source: VSUK Online newsletter -