At the Bio-Based Materials conference in Cologne, organised by nova-Institute, a special material came in second at the election of the bio-based material of the year: Paptic®, half paper half plastic. ‘The next generation of paper bags – lighter and stronger’, as they advertise themselves. Paptic has a very agreeable feel: soft, strong and foamy,
Mankind will have to grow more food on less land, so Hidde Boersma and Joost van Kasteren argue in the recently published volume (in Dutch) Ecomodernism, Rethinking Green and Growth. Genetic modification will play a major role in this process. And in order to feed the world, we need not even say goodbye to meat.
There’s always a time lag between the development of a new technology and a dawning awareness of its social impact. Then follows a debate among scientists, possibly followed by a public debate. This process starts by people asking difficult questions, as we are about to do on the Duchenne muscular dystrophy CRISPR cure. This technology,
In three columns, I have investigated the question of bee colony collapse and neonicotinoids (neonics), the effect of pesticides on pollinating insects and natural pest predators, and finally the services that biodiversity renders to agriculture and the economy. I observed that a simple ‘allow or ban’ decision on neonics may not be adequate. What other
In the first two columns in this series, I pictured the difficulties in establishing the truth on neonicotinoids (or neonics) and their effects on pollinating insects. The stakes are high. Neonics represent one third (in monetary value) of all insecticides sold globally. But NGOs have waged a war on them. Do we have to ban
Neonicotinoids tend to have a detrimental effect on bees and other pollinating species – unsurprisingly so, because these ‘neonics’ (at a much higher concentration) are designed to kill insects. But it appears very difficult to gather solid evidence of adverse effects on pollinators’ health. Actually, a dirty conflict on scientific data and their interpretation has
As the struggle around neonicotinoids in the European Union is nearing a decisive phase, and my mailbox becomes overflown with panicky messages from both sides, I decided to make up my mind as to the truth of bee colony collapse: are neonicotinoids (or simply neonics) the cause of honeybee decline, or not? In a few
In nature, many materials excel in precision. They perform very precise tasks – and as researchers delve into their functions, they discover that complexity is at the bottom of this precision. Almost all natural materials are composites, intricate mixtures of pure compounds in order to arrive at the desired result. Nanocomposites are crude but effective