By the Numbers

Beyond propaganda and rhetoric, numbers tell the real story

bee

Apiculture, or beekeeping, is a $14.6 billion industry, and the nation’s 2 million commercial hives pollinate many fruit- and nut-bearing crops. Beekeepers are accustomed to off-season losses of up to 20 percent, but 36.1 percent of commercial bee colonies were lost last year, according to a study by the Apiary Inspectors of America. This is the second straight year of elevated hive loss. About a third of these hive failures were attributed to colony collapse disorder, a poorly understood phenomenon in which bees seem to abandon their hives and disappear.

For more information, visit:
www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/05/06/
disappearing.bees.ap
.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13,293 cases of tuberculosis — or 4.4 per 100,000 of the nation’s population — were reported last year in the United States. This is a 4.2 percent decrease from 2006 and a record low since the CDC began tracking TB cases in 1953. Among the U.S.-born population, the TB rate has declined more than 68 percent since 1993 to 2.1 cases per 100,000. Though the national (including foreign-born population) TB incidence is still well above the CDC’s interim target of 3.5 cases per 100,000 by 2000, 26 states reached that goal as of 2007. With 242 (2.3 per 100,000) reported cases in 2007, Michigan’s tuberculosis rate is nearly half the national average.

For more information, visit:
www.cdc.gov/mmwR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5711a2.htm
and
www.michigantb.org
.

U.S. corn production has increased from 11.8 billion bushels in 2004-05 to an estimated 13 billion bushels in 2007-08, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. However, this growth of 1.2 billion bushels is accompanied by a 1.9 billion bushel increase in corn used for ethanol. A reduction in the amount of corn available for livestock feed and human consumption could play a role in retail food prices, which rose 4 percent in 2007 and are expected to do the same in 2008.

For more information, visit:
www.siteresources.worldbank.org/NEWS/Resources/Development committee_note_Apr11.doc
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Emerald ash borers, tree-damaging Asian insects, have killed more than 30 million ash trees in Michigan since 2002. A new pesticide called Tree-age (pronounced "triage") may stop the spread of the insects. Tree-age works by killing the insect during its larval stage, when the borer cuts off the flow of nutrients by eating through tissue just under the bark. Trials at Michigan State University demonstrated Tree-age to be 99 percent effective against the emerald ash borer, compared with 80 percent effectiveness for other insecticides. Available for the first time in May, Tree-age has only been approved for administration by certified arborists, and will cost about $200 for application to a single tree.

For more information, visit:
www.mlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2008/04/new_treatment_shows _great_succ.html
and
www.emeraldashborer.info
.

Scientists recently discovered the Milky Way galaxy’s youngest supernova, generated by the explosion of a dying star about 140 years ago. Though the existence of supernova G1.9+0.3 was known as early as 1985, original estimates placed it between 400 and 1,000 years old. Astronomers estimate that two to three stars explode and become supernovas each century, but most known supernovas are closer to 10,000 years old. The discovery of such a young specimen will help astronomers better understand the processes that guide the life cycles of stars.

For more information, visit:
www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-05-14-2857917085_x.htm
NASA image, available as a hi-res TIF at www.chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2008/g19/more.html
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ON THE COVER
Remarkable advances in analytical chemistry make it possible to measure minute levels of both natural and synthetic compounds of the incredibly complex human body.

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