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Brazil to overtake U.S. as top producer of biotech crops

Brazil is on course to dislodge the United States as the world’s top producer of biotech crops in the coming years, a leading promoter of farm biotechnology said Tuesday. The US currently holds the lead with 69 million hectares (170 million acres) under biocrop cultivation in 2011, ahead of Brazil…

Lead poisoning ‘epidemic’ around Nigerian gold mines sickens thousands

LAGOS — A lead poisoning epidemic in Nigeria’s north that has killed 400 children and affected thousands is the worst in modern history, but cleanup has not even begun in many areas, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. “Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of…

‘App economy’ has created nearly half a million jobs

WASHINGTON — The explosion of software applications for smartphones, tablet computers and Facebook has created nearly 500,000 jobs in the United States since 2007, according to a study published on Tuesday. The study, sponsored by TechNet, a bipartisan organization of top technology executives, found that the “App Economy” employs 466,000…

Gay pageant sparks breakthrough, backlash in Namibia

When Wendelinus Hamutenya told his father that he was gay, the then 18-year-old was packed off to the psychiatric ward of theWindhoek Central Hospital. Seven years later, he’s the country’s most visible gay man, after winning the inaugural “Mr Gay Namibia” pageant — which will make him the first black African to…

In campaign u-turn, Obama embraces super PACS

In a key twist to the 2012 election, US President Barack Obama has reversed course and will encourage rich Democratic donors to back a fund that can raise unlimited millions for his reelection bid. Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina said Obama would allow cabinet members and senior advisors to address big money events, reasoning that Democrats…

Orangutan ‘exterminators’ on trial in Indonesia

Three Indonesians and a Malaysian went on trial Tuesday for killing endangered orangutans and other protected primates as a means of pest control at a palm oil plantation on Borneo island. Prosecutors said the plantation manager, Malaysian national Phuah Chuan Hun, and his employee Widiantoro paid two men between 2009 and 2010…

After diabetes diagnosis, U.S. celebrity chef feels heat

US cooking star Paula Deen, self-proclaimed “Queen of Southern Cuisine” famous for her dishes smothered in butter, has met a storm of outrage after revealing she has diabetes and is hawking a drug to treat the disease. Deen, who famously showed off trademark high-fat, high-calorie meals including such creations as a hamburger…

BP swings into huge profit before U.S. criminal trial

BP returned to profit with a bang last year, posting net earnings of $23.9 billion on Tuesday as the British energy giant prepares for a criminal trial linked to the US Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster. BP announced adjusted profit after tax equivalent to 18.2 billion euros for 2011, as higher oil…

Solid ‘finger food’ may help babies avoid obesity

Infants outgrowing a liquid diet who give themselves finger food rather than being spoon-fed puree are likelier to eat healthily and avoid getting fat during weaning, reports a study released Tuesday. Researchers found that the technique, known as “baby-led weaning,” led to a child expressing a clear preference for pasta,…

Anti-cancer drug for women weakens bone density

A drug tipped for widespread use to prevent breast cancer in post-menopausal women also accelerates loss of bone density, thus potentially boosting the risk of fractures, a study published on Tuesday said. Exemestane — brand name Aromasin — is part of a drug class called aromatase inhibitors, which lower levels…

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