- the Times today reported on the recent findings published in Science suggesting a link between the current bee epidemic of Colony Collapse Disorder, and a virus (Israeli acute paralysis virus). Colony Collapse Disorder has proved a disturbing and intractable trend among American honeybees, where entire hives disappear when the work bees die far from home and can't return. given the number of major crops pollinated by small populations of honeybees (who are often carted around from site to site to make up for the paucity of honeybees in many parts of the country), losing hives on such a large scale poses a significant threat to American food production. this latest breakthrough at least offers some hope of figuring out what's ailing them, so further research can hone in on possible solutions.
- on a less cheerful note, the Times also covered a study on the correlation between food additives, like colorings and the preservative sodium benzoate, and hyperactivity (including ADHD) in children, published in The Lancet. while it shouldn't come as a surprise that artificial additives in food aren't healthy, or that such effects might be amplified in children, i found chilling the conformist attitude of a pediatric pharmacologist at Mass General -- Dr. Spencer, in response to the study, was quoted as saying:
“Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”
putting aside the awkward use of "socially impacting," i find it deeply disturbing to suggest that we should continue to allow children to eat foods with artificial colors and preservatives in foods that have been demonstrated to have a negative effect on their health and ability to learn, just because we don't want individual kids to feel singled out! of course, we could prevent ostracizing kids by simply not making such foods available, but i think the risk of being the health-food-kid is outweighed by the negative effects of processed foods. i find the attitude baffling that it would be better to conform to dominant, damaging food norms rather than challenge them and risk standing out because of those choices.