More than a decade after the first commercial plantings of genetically modified crops, the same old disagreement rumbles on. On one side stand agribiotech companies, arguing that crops engineered to produce insecticidal proteins or resist herbicides boost yields in an environmentally friendly way. Opposing them are advocacy groups who charge that these crops, or the farming practices they encourage, threaten biodiversity. (Editorial)

Floods in the mountain kingdom of Nepal? It sounds unlikely, but Nepal has a low-lying region called Terai, and much of it has been submerged in the past week following intense rains during the south Asian monsoon. Even more surprisingly, Nepal is blaming its downstream neighbour, India, for the floods.

Joseph Wright and Helene Muller-Landau suggest that regeneration of tropical forests might lead to far less species loss than is feared by most tropical biologists (12 May, p 42). There is currently very little reason to think so.

DOZENS of Indonesians killed by landslides this spring have paid the price of unchecked development. Many other innocents in developing nations die each year as rampant illegal logging and deforestation denude steep hillsides, loosening soil and allowing heavy rains to create deadly deluges. Such environmental perils are increasingly common across much of the world as native forests are fragmented, waterways polluted, and oceans over-harvested. The onslaught is especially alarming in the tropics, where an area of forest the size of 40 football fields is destroyed every minute.

"JAPAN threatens to quit whaling forum." It's a headline we have got used to reading, but behind the rhetoric this year's meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) saw a shift in power that has put Japan in a bind.

Ii the American Southwest heading for a megadrought? A projection based on climate models suggests this could be the outcome as global warming alters the Pacific weather patterns that normally bring rain to the region. Now tree rings are revealing just how dry things could get.

Seen from the outside, Antarctica is a desert, frozen and all but lifeless. Dig below the surface, however, and you will find deep secrets. Thousands of metres beneath Antarctica's forbidding facade, at the place where ice meets rock, lies a land that is exotic, dynamic and above all, wet.

Melting Himalayan glaciers are threatening to unleash a torrent of floods into mountain valleys, and ultimately dry up rivers across South Asia. A new study, due to be presented in July to the International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI), predicts that most of the glaciers in the region will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming.

To most Indians, turmeric or haldi is a part of growing up, a magic cure-all for the excesses of childhood. A classic "grandmother's remedy", the virulent yellow powder or paste has been applied to the scrapes and cuts of generations of children. But in the US, two scientists were granted a patent to use this plant extract in its powder form for healing wounds. The scientists claimed they were the first to use turmeric (Curcuma longa) for this purpose.

A weed which was carried into India from the United States has spread within a decade across a thousand miles of the country from Bangalore in the south to Kashmir in the north. This prolific plant, Parthenium hysterophorus, has brought with it a near epidemic of contact dermatitis. The outbreak is so serious that the Indian Department of Science and Technology held a meeting to see what can be done to eradicate this unwelcome intruder.