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May 01, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 9)

The Gymnosperm Database

  • Well-organized design
  • Some pages are sparse in information

Who knew that the trees were at war? (At least, that’s the first image that came to mind when I read that the Gymnosperm Database is “the web’s premier source of information on conifers and their ‘allies.’” It was an entertaining thought…) In all seriousness, though, the Gymnosperm Database is a wonderful botany website, and it is strongly infused with the candor of its creator, Christopher J. Earle. He is so candid, in fact, that he makes a point to tell readers, in detail, why the Gymnosperm Database is not a “real” database, and he also confesses that some of the species pages are “pretty skimpy.” Besides earning points for honesty, Dr. Earle deserves a lot of credit for creating a beautifully organized site that contains quite a number of pages that are anything but skimpy. There is also a helpful list of links to other plant websites.

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*The opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as reflecting the viewpoints of the publisher, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publishing house, or employees and affiliates thereof.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

Do you agree that ecstasy should be studied for its potential therapeutic benefits?

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