Germ warfare `could target ethnic groups'

GENETICALLY engineered biological weapons capable of targeting particular ethnic groups could become reality within 10 years, an expert panel warned yesterday.

Letter: Life from space?

Sir: Recent comments on the crossing of the Leonid meteor stream have all overlooked an interesting and potentially important consequence. It is now widely accepted that comets carry complex organic molecules, including amino acids, that might at the very least have been connected with the beginnings of life on this planet. There also serious discussions in progress in scientific circles of the even more radical possibility of cometary panspermia of the type we pioneered in the late 1970s.

Green tea and garlic keep the ulcers away

IT MIGHT taste a bit strange, but think of the benefits: drinking tea and eating garlic should prevent you from getting an ulcer, according to two teams of scientists.

New antibiotics to fight `superbugs'

THE FIRST new class of antibiotics for 20 years is close to being licensed for use against "superbugs" that resist conventional drugs, say medical researchers.

E.coli bacteria found on holiday beaches

SAND ON beaches at two of the United Kingdom's most popular holiday resorts is contaminated with bacteria that causes common food poisoning, according to research published yesterday.

Science: The Truth About... pasteurisation

WE CAN thank Louis Pasteur (pictured) for inventing the idea of heating something in order to eliminate the harmful bacteria it may harbour. If there was a single moment in the career of the great 19th century microbiologist when he became convinced of the importance of heat treatment, it was when he decided to climb a glacier on Mont Blanc leading a mule carrying 20 glass flasks.

Scientist urges food crisis body

AN INDEPENDENT advisory body should be set up to prevent a BSE-type crisis happening again, a leading specialist in microbiology said yesterday.

Law Report: Use of words `farm fluid' in name was passing off

Law Report: Antec International Ltd v South Western Chicks (Warren) Ltd

Letter: No cheese ban

THE GOVERNMENT has not proposed a ban on cheeses made with raw cow's milk ("Britain's finest cheese threatened...", 1 February). We are, however, in the process of consulting on proposals to ban the sale of raw cows' drinking milk only. No legislation has been put forward yet. The move is based on independent scientific advice from the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food. There is clear evidence that raw milk can contain bacteria that are dangerous to human health.

Science: NEW BLOOD? IT'S IN THE BAG

With HIV and CJD undermining faith in blood for transfusions, progress is being made in finding alternatives. Roger Dobson reports on the fakes

Health: Call for urgent screening to halt rise in infertility disease

Urgent measures to halt a rapidly-spreading infectious disease that is responsible for up to one third of cases of infertility are to be considered by the Government's chief medical officer next week. Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, reports.

`It's been a great year for us, so stuff you'

Well, you are a cowardly lot. Or maybe you're just nicer than me. Despite apparently having "touched a nerve" with my broadside on round robins, most of your letters did not actually come up with the goods. Clearly the worry of being crossed off Dick and Shirley's Christmas card list next year won out against the prospect of a year's supply of life- enhancing lessons for your children. So the prize must go to Liz Radcliffe, of Lancaster, for her own family newsletter, which shows an acute understanding of the genre. She starts with the more modest achievements of her husband - "a contender for the Nobel next time round" - and builds up to a crescendo with daughter Judy teaching swimming skills to underprivileged dolphins while son Jacob, after only one term at medical school, is showing "such great potential that he has been offered a chair in microbiotic surgery at Liverpool University. However, he turned it down as it would not give him enough time to train the England squad in rowing, plus study for his FRCS,FRCP, combined with lecturing in Radiology techniques in the 21st century." I particularly like her spin on the traditional closing line of a round robin - "If we have time, or if we are passing on one of our regular trips to your area. we will try to call ... I know your family news cannot live up to ours, but it serves you right for all your pompous letters in the past." Sadly Liz feels unable to accept the prize - her family's extra-curricular activities are already booked through to the millennium.

Scrabble champion finds means to an end

Proud of his pultoon, but aghast not to recognise an agami when he ran into one, Andrew Cook, 26, from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, won the British Scrabble championship yesterday, with a 3-0 win in the final over Jackie McLeod, a secretary from Highgate, north London.

Don't be a sponge. There's nothing to worry about

Anti-bacteria this, anti-bacteria that: there's a hot new sales pitch from the people that want to sell us stuff for the kitchen. A few weeks ago it was the anti-bacteria chopping board. Now comes anti-bacteria washing-up liquid. Much-needed protection? Charles Arthur, science editor, pours cold water on it.

Health: Vital Signs - WHO says

There is no cause for concern about the amount of radiation used in irradiated food, the World Health Organisation says. If the sensory qualities of food are retained and harmful micro-organisms are destroyed, the amount of ionising radiation applied is of secondary importance.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz