Five answers to the question ‘why microbes?’

Last month, Amelia gave us five great reasons to love plants. But plants aren’t the only species worked on at the John Innes Centre that lack the respect they deserve.   As a microbiologist I thought it was only fair to come up with my own ‘five answers’ – and show that microorganisms aren’t just here to…Read more Five answers to the question ‘why microbes?’

Photo: Alex Indigo/Flickr

Scientists in live public discussion today about what ‘natural’ really means

We've all seen it. Whether it's on labels in supermarkets or in adverts on our TVs, the word 'natural' is often used to sell products. Foods may be 'naturallly' farmed or contain only 'natural' colours and flavours. Or you may have used a 'natural' remedy to help you recover from an illness. But why do products sold in…Read more Scientists in live public discussion today about what ‘natural’ really means

Photo: Skånska Matupplevelser/Flickr.

EU’s rules on genetically improved crops a ‘threat’ to developments in agriculture, say MPs

A report out today is calling for the equivalent of Nice – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence – for developments in crop technologies. The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee also says the government should encourage more public debate around developments in crop technologies It recommends forming a ‘citizens council’ for…Read more EU’s rules on genetically improved crops a ‘threat’ to developments in agriculture, say MPs

A pinch of Christmas spice

Have you ever wondered where Christmas spices come from or what they are? Or just fancy learning some random Christmas related facts to mention over Christmas lunch? Then read on! Nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and star anise are all evergreen plant-derived spices that we use copiously at Christmas in British cooking. They are now widely available,…Read more A pinch of Christmas spice

7 last minute Christmas gift ideas for scientists

Don't know what to give to the scientist in your life this Christmas? Have a look at these seven ideas. 1 Made-to-order plasmid watercolours (£19.66 from Etsy) Science and art often converge – whether it’s the way we share our data or the use of science as the subject of artwork. Sandra Culliton makes watercolour paintings of…Read more 7 last minute Christmas gift ideas for scientists

A global approach to achieving food security

Last month, 13 developing countries received recognition from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for their progress towards eradicating hunger and improving food security. At the ceremony, the FAO’s director general, José Graziano da Silva, congratulated them for turning political commitment into actions and demonstrating the will to achieve and surpass the millennium development…Read more A global approach to achieving food security

Genetically modified foods: would you eat a purple tomato?

In the past week there has been a lot of press coverage about genetically modified foods. The first of these was a proposal made by Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire to carry out field trials on plants engineered to produce the omega-3 oils that are usually found in fish. The second of these was a farm…Read more Genetically modified foods: would you eat a purple tomato?