British officials lift bird flu restrictions

British officials have lifted some bird flu restrictions implemented after the discovery of a dead swan found in Scotland that tested positive for the H5N1 virus on April 5. Restrictions that have been lifted include limits on the movement of poultry and eggs in eastern Scotland, since no outbreaks have been found since the discovery of the infected swan. The three-kilometer protection zone established has also been lifted; however, a 10-kilometer control zone that prevents the movement of poultry and birds will remain until May 1.

Source: BBC

FDA doubts use of marijuana for medicinal purposes

The Food and Drug Administration is declaring that “no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.” According to the FDA, there are alternative medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana. Marijuana has been used to treat nausea induced by chemotherapy for cancer patients, and has been endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Source: Scientific American

Liquor for lilacs?

Cornell University horticulturists state that giving potted plants diluted amounts of hard liquor can actually be beneficial. Researchers believe that the addition of diluted alcohol stunts the growth of stems on daffodils, but has no negative effect on blossoms. Consequently, daffodils do not fall over due to excessive growth of stems. Extensive studies have been performed testing the effectiveness of vodka, whiskey, white rum, gold tequila, mint schnapps, red and white wine, and pale lager beer on paperwhites. Wine and beer were not effective, most likely due to their high sugar content. Regarding hard liquor, concentrations ranging between four and six percent effectively stunted the growth of stems on paperwhites, while concentrations above 10 percent proved to be toxic.

Source: CNN

Judge rules for California stem cell agency

A state judge quashed two lawsuits challenging a $3 billion stem cell institute in California. The lawsuits challenged the legitimacy of the agency and tried to negate its constitutionality; lawyers tried to prove that the institute violated state law since it was not actually a state agency. This argument fell apart once the judge pointed out that Proposition 71, a voter-approved law that created the agency, was beyond any doubt constitutional. The state ruling becomes official on May 1, which will ensure that $300 million will remain available for stem cell researchers in California. Proposition 71 was supported by 59 percent of voters, which actively countered President Bush’s restrictive policies regarding stem cell research that greatly limits federal funding.

Source: The New York Times