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The San and Khoi peoples of southern Africa — along with low-income farming communities — are to share in the profits of the lucrative rooibos tea that is farmed on their traditional lands. The South African government’s decision is the first industry-wide agreement under the Nagoya Protocol of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, an international law that sets the rules for compensating communities if their knowledge of biodiversity is used by businesses or scientists. The government’s decision broke a decade-long deadlock in which the tea industry and Indigenous representatives disagreed over whether the San and Khoi people originated the use of rooibos as a beverage. The industry still isn’t convinced, but has agreed to pay.
Twenty-seven countries have pledged US$9.8 billion to replenish a United Nations’ fund for developing nations to adapt to climate change. The pledges exceed the $9.3 billion promised in 2014 — despite the absence of the United States and Australia this time. The United States committed more money than any other nation in 2014, but has since withdrawn $2 billion of the promised $3 billion, and has declined to contribute further.
As fires raged in the San Francisco Bay area of California, researchers running a trailblazing study of the health effects of smoke sprung into action. The research is one of the first to monitor wildfires’ effects in a diverse group of people over several years. Scientists hope to use the results to create evidence-based guidelines for mitigating risk and work out what interventions — such as air purifiers — can help.
Features & opinion
A series of in-depth articles from specialists in the relevant fields assesses the importance and lasting impact of 10 key papers from Nature’s archive. Among them, the structure of DNA, the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica, our first meeting with Australopithecus and this year’s Nobel-winning work detecting an exoplanet around a Sun-like star.
Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard takes a measured look at the extent of plant communication, cognition and emotions. “When you go and whack off the top of a plant … is that an emotional response?” she asks. “It’s certainly trying to save itself. It upregulates. Its genes respond. It starts producing these chemicals. How is that different than us all of a sudden producing a whole bunch of norepinephrine?”
“As an infectious disease epidemiologist, having my husband dying from a superbug was just a shock,” says Steffanie Strathdee. In 2015, Strathdee’s husband was near death from an infection of antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii. Starting with a simple PubMed search, Strathdee brought together a “global village” of phage experts to save his life.
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