GOOD

Researchers Accidentally Turned A Crop Of Hamsters Into Cannibals

A dietary deficiency caused some grisly results

You’re probably not going to get the telltale skin lesions and dementia of pellagra, the illness linked to corn-heavy diets in poor Southern towns because that disease was all but eradicated in the 1940s with vitamin-fortified diets. Processing corn so that the niacin present in it would be unbound was found to be effective in beating pellagra. And you’re probably not going to cannibalize your young either.


But that’s what happened with wild hamsters in a recent study at the University of Strasbourg in eastern France. Biology researcher Mathilde Tissier witnessed the terrifying scene worthy of a horror movie while researching the decline of the hamsters’ Eurasian range. Something was amiss. Tissier recounted watching mother hamsters pile their young into piles of corn that were stored for later consumption in their cages before eating the babies alive.

“I thought I had done something wrong,” she told Science News.

Leonhard Kern, "Menschenfresserin (A Human Animal)," ivory sculpture, c. 1650

It’s not exactly the same thing, but the hamsters may have developed a pellagra-like dementia that caused them to eat their babies. And it may be happening in the wild, too, where cornfields are increasingly common in France. In Europe, France is second in corn production only to the Ukraine.

Corn is more than a staple in the United States. America is first in the world in corn production, growing nearly a third of the entire world’s yield. It is the most subsidized crop. Diets heavy in high fructose corn syrup have been linked to obesity and diabetes, which costs the United States $245 billion a year.

Corn is in everything from yogurt and bread (corn syrup) to toothpaste (sorbitol is regularly derived from corn) to makeup products (zea mays) to milk (fortified with vitamin D from corn) to shampoo to the ethanol in alterative fuel cars.

Much has been written about America’s addiction to subsidy-fueled corn, and award-winning documentaries have been made on the topic. Hopefully, horror movies inspired by real life corn-mad cannibals aren’t on the horizon.

Food
Screenshot via Sweden.se/Twitter (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
Science

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Gage Skidmore

The common stereotypes about liberals and conservatives are that liberals are bleeding hearts and conservatives are cold-hearted.

It makes sense, conservatives want limited government and to cut social programs that help the more vulnerable members of society. Whereas liberals don't mind paying a few more dollars in taxes to help the unfortunate.

A recent study out of Belgium scientifically supports the notion that people who scored lower on emotional ability tests tend to have right-wing and racist views.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics