The Scout Report for Science & Engineering - May 10, 2000

May 10, 2000

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The target audience of the new Scout Report for Science & Engineering is faculty, students, staff, and librarians in the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. Each biweekly issue offers a selective collection of Internet resources covering topics in the sciences, and related fields such as math and engineering, that have been chosen by librarians and content specialists in the given field of study.

The Scout Report for Science & Engineering is also provided via email once every two weeks. Subscription information is included at the bottom of each issue.

In This Issue


Learning Resources

General Interest

Current Awareness

New Data

In The News


Dr. David Wake, Curator of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California-Berkeley, and several graduate students have launched AmphibiaWeb, an online database of amphibian biology and conservation. The searchable database currently contains 137 species accounts and eventually will provide information "for every species of amphibian in the world." Species accounts include species descriptions, photos, life history information, conservation status information, and literature references. Although the new resource is still under development, more than 100 species are already photo-illustrated, and over 300 species have range maps; the reference list contains in excess of 500 literature references. In addition to the database, the site offers a section on worldwide amphibian declines and information on how to contribute information to the database. [LXP]
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Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)
2000 MSRI Preprints (.ps)
MSRI Streaming Video Archive - long version [RealPlayer]
The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), which has been primarily funded since its inception in 1982 by the National Science Foundation, "exists to further mathematical research." With additional support and collaboration from other government agencies, private foundations, and academic and commercial sponsors, each year more than 1,000 mathematicians visit MSRI for mathematical programs and workshops. Along with detailed information of the many programs offered year-round, and contacts for members around the world, the highlight of the MSRI Website is its substantial MSRI Preprint Series (1995-2000) covering a wide variety of mathematical topics. Additionally, the site offers a huge archive of online video lectures and workshops (1993-2000). The video collection stores lectures on Hopf Algebras, the Future of Mathematical Communication, the Modularity of Elliptical Curves, Random Matrices, Algorithms, Technological and Mathematical Challenges for Understanding the Genome, and much more. Researchers wishing to apply for a visit to MSRI may obtain information at the Homepage. [KR]
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IOPI Database of Plant Databases (DPD)
The International Organization for Plant Information (IOPI), a Commission of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), manages the Database of Plant Databases (DPD). The DPD is a global list of plant databases including Taxonomic databases ("with systematic information on families or genera, or for Flora projects"); Collection catalogs (usually of herbaria); and DELTA datasets (DELTA is "the Description Language for Taxonomy, a data format for character data, used for identification, key construction and the generation of descriptions."). The DPD may be searched using numerous specified fields, or it may be viewed in its entirety -- by Database Name, Host Name, or Host Country. Though bare bones in appearance, this extensive database contains a gold mine of information, with hundreds of hyperlinks to valuable plant databases. [LXP]
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Newly Online Journals
Journal of Inequalities in Pure and Applied Mathematics (JIPAM)
Journal of South American Earth Sciences
Journal of Asian Earth Sciences
Journal of Structural Geology
These four newly online publications are currently being offered for free. From the Research Group in Mathematical Inequalities and Applications (RGMIA) (see the January 5, 2000 Scout Report for Science & Engineering) at the Victoria University of Technology in Australia, the Journal of Inequalities in Pure and Applied Mathematics (JIPAM) is a new "peer-reviewed international journal in the theory of mathematical inequalities and their applications." The journal will be free-of-charge all year. Also, the following three journals from Elsevier Science will be temporarily free for the next few months. The Journal of South American Earth Sciences and the Journal of Asian Earth Sciences are both interdisciplinary efforts devoted to all aspects of research related to the earth sciences in their respective continents. The Journal of South American Earth Sciences accepts work concerning South America as well as adjacent regions of the Caribbean, Central America, and the Antarctic Peninsula. Finally, the Journal of Structural Geology "publishes original research and review articles in structural geology and tectonics." [KR]
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California Department of Water Resources
Created by the California Legislature in 1956, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) was designed "to plan and guide" the development of the State's water resources. The site serves as an information hub covering recent news, state water projects, a listing of water conditions and reports, and monthly activity reports for the very curious. In addition to supplying general information on California's water resources, this site provides access to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program (CALFED), the California Data Exchange Center hydrologic data (CDEC), and the California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES). [LXP]
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DCOMP Research Gallery
American Physical Society's Division of Computational Physics (DCOMP)
The American Physical Society's Division of Computational Physics (DCOMP) hosts this newly compiled research gallery featuring selected links to research activities of DCOMP members. The links offer abstracts of research as well as in depth coverage of each topic. The site contains fourteen topics including Phase Separation in Amphiphilic Fluids, The Geodynamo, Visiometrics for Reduced Modeling of Vortex Dominated Flows, and more. Most of the links have been recently updated, though a few are less timely. In addition, the DCOMP main page provides information on computational physics meetings, funding, newsletters, and jobs. [KR]
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Learning Resources

Herpetology [.pdf]
Several professors in the Section of Integrative Biology (formerly the Zoology Department) at the University of Texas at Austin have put together this course on Herpetology. The course surveys "the biology of amphibians and reptiles, from molecular systematics to community ecology," and is organized into three components: Systematics, Biogeography, and Genetics; Population and Community Ecology; and Behavior and Physiology. Most lecture outlines are available electronically and contain figures, color photographs, and other helpful graphics. Lab Notes (.pdf format) are also provided, and cover "morphology, diversity, and taxonomy with emphasis on the local fauna." A series of related links rounds out the site. [LXP]
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Science Reference Room: Index to Physical, Chemical and Other Property Data
This nice reference guide from Arizona State University's Noble Science and Engineering Library amounts to "an index to selected library and internet resources that contain chemical, physical, thermodynamic, mechanical, toxicological, and safety data." Starting with a list of suggested standard reference sources that may be found in most technical libraries, this reference guide goes on to include a vast reservoir of alphabetically listed library books and Internet sites where a user may locate specific information. From Abrasion Resistance to Yield Strength data, this index is quite comprehensive. [KR]
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Field Biology: Lab Studies in Population and Environmental Biology [.pdf]
This undergraduate level course designed by Dr. John C. Abbott at the University of Texas at Austin consists of laboratory exercises, computer simulation exercises, field projects, and field trips, and is intended to familiarize students with "the principles and applications of ecology and some of the experimental and descriptive methods of ecological investigations." As online viewers cannot participate directly in the field components of the course, the most useful sections at the site are Laboratories (with detailed descriptions and photo illustrations of numerous lab exercises), Scientific Writing (includes several prominent articles), Ecological Review (summarizes the literature review process and posts abstracts by this spring's students), and Useful Links (a careful selection of links related to biology, with special emphasis on the written scientific product). For educators and students alike, this will be a useful learning resource. [LXP]
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Quantitative Environmental Learning Project (QELP)
QELP is a NSF-sponsored program headed up by researchers Greg Langkamp and Joe Hull at Seattle Central Community College and designed "to promote curricular revision by linking mathematics and environmental science." These QELP educators have been developing effective classroom-ready resources (e.g., lab exercises) which draw heavily on real world data, use introductory college-level mathematics (algebra, difference equations and statistics), and promote student investigation and collaboration. Although the project is still in its development phase (it will eventually lead to a published lab manual of exercises), this Website offers several excellent examples of quantitative environmental exercises. The Biota and Linear Regression exercise links linear regression and graphical analysis with biota and biometrics; the Hazardous Waste and Statistical Analysis exercise links statistical analysis of normal distributions with solid and hazardous waste. Each exercise includes Notes to the Instructor, Student Background Information, and a fully elaborated set of instructions. In addition, the site includes the exercises's related data sets (with some graphics). Undergraduates or first-year graduate students will be likely to benefit from these well-conceived exercises. [LXP]
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Principles and Standards for School Mathematics
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has recently released its updated version of Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. The aim of the volume, posted here in its entirety, is "to provide vision and guidance for positive change and focus in mathematics education." Basic goals highlighted include fluency in arithmetic computation, integration of new technology, a foundation in algebra and geometry by eighth grade, and adding a required four years of math in high school. An earlier version of the Principles and Standards was released in October 1998, and after soliciting public reactions, this final, updated version was released in April 2000. [KR]
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General Interest

Four on the Land & Water Conservation Fund
Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) -- AMC
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) -- NPS
The Case for LWC -- ENN
Landmark Wildlife & Conservation Legislation Scheduled For House Floor Vote
In 1965, the US Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) "to preserve open space, develop recreation opportunities, and assure that all Americans have access to quality outdoor recreation." The Land and Water Conservation Fund receives $900 million annually, mainly from ocean oil drilling revenues. However, as much as 85 percent of each year's Fund is diverted for purposes other than conservation and recreation. The first site listed above, maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), provides detailed information on LWCF spending levels by state, county, congressional district (by zip code), national land unit, and project type. The National Park Service provides the second site, which gives technical information on the State and Federal components of the LWCF, with some historical information. The third site is a news release from Environmental News Network, summarizing recent and upcoming political decisions regarding the LWCF. The fourth site, a news clip from Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, announces a vote on The Conservation & Reinvestment Act to take place early this week. For those interested in the future of natural places in this country, these sites will be of great interest. [LXP]
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Gravity Probe B: The Relativity Mission
Physicists and Engineers from Stanford University and NASA have combined efforts to create "a relativity gyroscope test two extraordinary, unverified predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity." The Gravity Probe B Experiment uses four gyroscopes orbiting over the earth's poles. The satellites are largely free from disturbance and thus provide "an almost perfect space-time reference system." They hope to measure the warping effects of earth on space and time, and the drag created by the earth's rotation on space and time. The site offers a general interest section with press clips, educational materials, FAQs, and an image library. Along with weekly highlights, a technical interest section supplies information on technology spinoffs, scientific papers, contacts, an orbit timeline, and a link to the ground station. [KR]
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Animal Diversity Web
The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology provides the searchable Animal Diversity Web database, with species accounts (images and text) of some of the world's mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, sharks, bony fishes, mollusks, arthropods and echinoderms. The database is searchable by common or scientific name. For each species account, information includes scientific and common name, classification (Phylum through Genus), and color photographs (many beauties). Some accounts supply additional information, such as geographic range, physical characteristics, natural history (food habits, reproduction, behavior, conservation, and habitat), other comments, and references. Although the list of species is by no means complete, these simple but effective accounts are interesting to read and will be helpful as supplemental resources in a biological diversity/ ecology course. [LXP]
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Two on Dinoheart
Willo, the Dinosaur with a Heart
Talk of the Nation, Science Friday [RealPlayer]
These two sites refer to the recent discovery of a fossilized dinosaur heart that was reported in the April 21, 2000 issue of the Journal Science. This heart of a small herbivore called a Thescelosaurus reveals a structure "more like that of a bird or a mammal than those of reptiles, adding substantially to evidence suggesting that at least some dinosaurs had high metabolic rates." The first site, from the Center for the Exploration of the Dinosaurian World, a collaboration between North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, offers up-to-date information about and images of the important discovery. The second site provides a radio segment from Ira Fladow's National Public Radio show Talk of the Nation, Science Friday (requires RealPlayer). The dinosaur heart segment of the show (which starts at time 21:28) features an in-depth interview with Dr. Dale Russell, director of the Center for the Exploration of the Dinosaurian World, on the ground-breaking discovery. [KR]
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The World's Water
The World's Water Website, brought to the WWW by the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, posts up-to-date water information and data, with links to "organizations, institutions, and individuals working on a wide range of global freshwater problems and solutions." This site supplements the printed book The World's Water: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, by Peter H. Gleick (Island Press, Washington, D.C.), and includes tables, figures, and maps (see the January 19, 2000 Scout Report for Science & Engineering). Data are posted online as they become available; current data are from the 1998-1999 edition, with 2000-2001 updates due in spring 2000. A mailing list and a comprehensive list of water-related links round out the site. [LXP]
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Current Awareness
(For links to additional current awareness on tables of contents, abstracts, preprints, new books, data, conferences, etc., visit the The Scout Report for Science & Engineering Current Awareness Metapage:

Conservation of Biodiversity in North America
CEC seeks public input on conservation of biodiversity in North America
Securing the Continent's Biological Wealth: Towards Effective Biodiversity Conservation in North America (provisional abbreviated version) [.pdf]
On May 1, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) announced the request for public input on "the identification of priority issues and regions to guide the development of its strategy for the conservation of biodiversity in North America." The first site listed above contains the CEC's announcement. The abbreviated version of this important report (.pdf format) is provided for public comment at the second site. Information on how to provide comments is described at both sites. [LXP]
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The Gazette
The Gazette is the newsletter of the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP). Distributed free of charge, the newsletter (with a circulation of 4,000) includes "updates on CSWP activities and programs, book reviews, statistical reports, and articles on programs designed to increase the participation of women and girls in science." The site contains submission and ordering information along with online access to issues from Spring 1997 to the current Spring 2000 issue. [KR]
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New Publications

"National Framework For The Management And Monitoring Of Australia's Native Vegetation" [.pdf]
The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council has released this report proposing a national framework for managing and monitoring Australia's native vegetation. Over the past 200 years, Australia's native vegetation has been in long-term decline. The report, available as a .pdf document, provides a forum "where the governments of Australia can discuss and develop nationally coordinated policies and strategies relating to conservation and the environment." [LXP]

"Potential for large-scale submarine slope failure and tsunami generation along the US mid-Atalantic coast" [.pdf]
This paper from the journal GEOLOGY, "Potential for large-scale submarine slope failure and tsunami generation along the US mid-Atlantic coast," by Neal W. Driscoll, Jeffrey K. Weissel, and John A. Goff, has made headlines in recent weeks for its claim that the outer continental shelf off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina "might be in the initial stages of large-scale slope failure." Such failure would likely produce a significant Tsunami effect along the eastern coast. [KR]

USA Antarctic Treaty Information Exchange [.pdf]
Provided by The National Science Foundation's Office of Polar Programs, this Website posts information required under articles III and VII (5) of the Antarctic Treaty. Documents at the site (.pdf format) describe planned (or past) US-sponsored visits to Antarctica during the period 1997-2000, including scientific and tourist visits. Internal links and links to other sites provide additional information. [LXP]

Free issue of Nature
This page offers free access to the December 2, 1999, full-text, online edition of Nature. The offer gives users a chance to experience the range of information and available in this prestigious international weekly's online version. [KR]

Environment and Trade: A Handbook
PDF version:
The United Nations Environment Programme and the International Institute for Sustainable Development have joined forces to produce this handbook on environment and trade. Designed to "help us understand how trade can affect the environment, for better and for worse, and how environmental concern can work through the trading system, to foster or frustrate development, in both rich and poor countries," this resource attempts to synthesize the multiple pieces of this complex interaction. The handbook is available either as a .pdf document or as a continuously updated HTML version. [LXP]

"Outlook for Biomass Ethanol Production and Demand" [.pdf]
From the US Energy Information Administration, this paper entitled "Outlook for Biomass Ethanol Production and Demand," by Joseph DiPardo, takes a close look at the possibility that "the cost of producing ethanol could be reduced by as much as 60 cents per gallon by 2015 with cellulosic conversion technology." Additionally, the paper "presents a midterm forecast for biomass ethanol production under three different technology cases for the period 2000 to 2020." [KR]

Salton Sea Restoration Project DEIS/ EIR: Institute Comments
Overview [.pdf]
Comments on the Salton Sea Restoration Project (along with an overview) are provided here by the Pacific Institute in draft form. There is currently controversy over how to manage and restore this complex ecological experiment -- including managing salinity, elevation, and water quality of the Sea. [LXP]

Two on Caterpillars from NPWRC
Caterpillars of Eastern Forests [.zip]
Caterpillars of Pacific Northwest Forests and Woodlands [.zip]
The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center has released two biological resources on caterpillars. The first, "Caterpillars of Eastern Forests," by David L. Wagner and others, is a field guide on the eastern region's most frequently encountered species. The guide includes "species descriptions, life cycle and morphology information, and tips on photographing, rearing, collecting, and preserving specimens." The second resource, by Jeffrey C. Miller, "Caterpillars of Pacific Northwest Forests and Woodlands," is a field guide (with keys) of caterpillars commonly found in "forests and woodlands of the Pacific Northwest." The guide covers natural history, nomenclature, identification keys, and details for the collection and preservation of caterpillar specimens. Both resources may be downloaded as .zip files or read online. [LXP]
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Job Openings in Science and Technology from The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Scientist Classified Section\scripts\classifieds.exe&config=scientistads&request=ads.latestjobs

American Society of Mechanical Engineers Jobs Database
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Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection: Second Edition -- EPA
Funding Sources and Deadlines: Multiple

NSF Computer Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Scholarships (CSEMS)
Letter of Intent Deadline: June 16, 2000 (Optional)
Proposal Deadline: August 3, 2000

Chemistry Research Instrumentation and Facilities -- NSF
Deadlines: Multiple

National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance
Deadlines: May 15, 2000 and December 15, 2000

NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program
Deadline: Various
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Thirteenth European Sove Meeting: Society For Vector Ecology
September 24-29, 2000; Antalya, Turkey
Abstracts Due: May 30, 2000

First Joint Meeting of the American Society for Environmental History and the Forest History Society, "Making Environmental History Relevant in the Twenty-first Century"
March 28-April 1, 2001; Durham, North Carolina
Abstracts Due: August 1, 2000

Seventh International Conference on Urban Transport and the Environment for the 21st Century
May 14-16, 2001; Lemnos, Greece
Abstract Deadline: September 15, 2000

Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy
March 5-8, 2001; New Orleans, Louisiana
Abstract Deadline: August 2000
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New Data

The Weizmann Institute of Science provides GeneCards, a database of "human genes, their products and their involvement in diseases." GeneCards contains concise information on the functions of "all human genes with an approved symbol" (e.g., genes named according to the Human Gene Nomenclature Committee), in addition to "selected others" -- collectively representing over 9,600 genes. The database is searchable, and its most current version (Version 2.14) features a new navigation support system (the "Guidance System") that facilitates information retrieval. Typical information on each Gene Card includes Synonyms, Chromosomal location, Proteins, Sequences, Similar genes in other organisms, Disorders & Mutations, Medical News, Research Articles, and Additional Sources of Information on the WWW. The GeneCards database is of particular use in the context of functional genomics and proteomics. [LXP]
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Lightning Imaging Sensor Data
Lightning and Atmospheric Electricity Research at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center provides these "GIF images showing a graphical representation of the Lightning Imaging Sensor orbit data for each day." The lightning distribution images are available by clicking on highlighted spots on a global map. Data are released one month at a time and currently include December 1997 to the present. [KR]
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New Mexico Species List: Mammals
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish provides these species accounts for mammals that occur in New Mexico and Arizona. The accounts are organized alphabetically by common name (with scientific name in parenthesis), and each hyperlinked name connects the viewer to further details (taxonomy, status, life history, distribution, habitat information, food habits, environmental associations, management practices, and references) via the Biota Information System Of New Mexico (BISON). From armadillo to wolverine, the extent and clarity of information in this database will be a boon to researchers. [LXP]
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"Effect of stream channel size on the delivery of nitrogen to the gulf of Mexico" [.pdf]
This journal article, "Effect of stream channel size on the delivery of nitrogen to the gulf of Mexico," recently published in Nature, provides data and discussion on the means of distribution and significant sources of an increased flux of nitrogen from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico during the latter half of the 20th century. The paper analyzes data taken from 374 US monitoring stations, including 123 along the six largest tributaries to the Mississippi. The article concludes "that the proximity of sources to large streams and rivers is an important determinant of nitrogen delivery to the estuary in the Mississippi basin, and possibly also in other large river basins." [KR]
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In The News

Labels Don't Apply to GM Foods
1) "U.S. to Keep a Closer Watch on Genetically Altered Crops"
2) "Biotech food rules too lax, critics say: Producer labeling called 'hollow step'"
3) Genetically Modified Food
4) FDA/ CFSAN Biotechnology
5) Biotechnology: An Information Resource [RealPlayer]
6) USDA Agricultural Biotechnology
7) Greenpeace International: Genetic Engineering
8) Montsanto
9) Seeds of Opportunity [.pdf]
Last week, the Genetically Modified (GM) foods debate took another turn when the Clinton Administration announced that mandatory labeling of GM foods would not be necessary since there is no proof that the foods pose health risks. "The F.D.A.'s scientific review continues to show that all bioengineered foods sold in the United States today are as safe as their non-bioengineered counterparts," said Dr. Jane E. Henney, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, in a recent New York Times article. At the same time, the White House outlined a plan by which the Food and Drug Administration would start requiring the makers of products with GM ingredients to give regulators at least 120 days notice before the foods hit the market. Currently, such notice is voluntary. Another item discussed for the future includes establishing a system for voluntary labeling of both GM and non-GM foods. Additionally, some measures are being taken to consider the segregation of GM crops from regular crops during and after harvesting. Now, the crops are commonly harvested together, which can "taint" non-GM crops in European tests that determine whether a food has been modified or not. This practice has caused some US foods to be rejected by foreign importers. In the US today, over 50 genetically engineered crops including corn, cotton, squash, and tomatoes are grown on close to 70 million acres of farmland. This week's In The News takes a closer look at the GM Foods debate.

The first source, a news item from The New York Times(1), highlights the steps the administration has taken to bolster its stance on the regulation of GM foods. The second source, from the Sacramento Bee(2), tells the same story with an emphasis on critics of the US policy. The third source, also from The New York Times, amounts to a repository of recent articles covering the GM Foods debate and related events (3). Next, the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition provides this Biotechnology Information Page (4) that offers recent and past articles concerning these biotechnology issues. Likewise, Biotechnology: An Information Resource, from the USDA's National Agricultural Library (5), is an excellent source for FAQs, opinions, links, RealAudio files, reports, and bibliographies, all covering different aspects of the debate. The sixth resource, also from the USDA, features reports of biotechnology research, an explanation of the USDA's role in biotechnology regulation, and regulation and policy information surrounding this heated political and scientific topic (6). The seventh site offers a more extreme environmentalist stand as represented by Greenpeace International's Genetic Engineering Page (7). The site gives users access to background information and press releases. Next, Pharmacia's Montsanto Site (8) provides the industry perspective. Finally, the last site (9) presents (in .pdf format) the government's recent scientific assessment of the "benefits, safety, and oversight of plant genomics and agricultural biotechnology." [KR]
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