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Atlantic Monthly

Anthrax and English Breakfast

Originally appeared on TheAtlantic.com

In the current issue of Microbiologist, researchers report that tea could be an antidote to anthrax.

Anthrax, scourge of tabloid staffers, has infected exactly one person in the U.S. during the last five years — a New York musician who contracted it from the raw African animal skins he used to make drums. Those of us who procure our hides from reputable sources face no danger. But if anthrax does break out, commonly consumed plants (slightly modified) do seem to be one of our best defenses. A few years ago, researchers rejiggered the genomes of tobacco cells to produce anthrax antigens, a first step toward making a safer vaccine. And now it appears that Earl Grey, in addition to his supposed aphrodisiac effects, could fight off the bacillus, without any modification at all.

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Atlantic Monthly

Elsie’s Revenge

Workers at the Westland-Hallmark beef factory poked very sick cows, prodding them into the abattoirs with with the prongs of forklifts.  What makes a cow non-ambulatory?  Mad cow disease, for one thing.  The dreaded kuru relative attacks the central nervous system and leads to immobility and a terrible demise.