FRANCE has banned imports of some Mercedes cars, claiming they fail to meet European technical standards for emissions of global-warming gases.

Energy technology: Better ways of storing energy are needed if electricity systems are to become cleaner and more efficient. Summer in Texas last year was the hottest on record.

ELLIOT JOSLIN, a pioneering American researcher, argued vociferously until his death in 1962 that controlling the level of glucose in a person's bloodstream was the key to managing type 2 diabetes (the variant of the disease that appears later in life). Since the defining symptom of all types of diabetes is that the body cannot do this properly by itself, that made intuitive sense. It also seemed to make practical sense. His approach, which involved a combination of insulin treatment (insulin is the hormone most involved in regulating blood-sugar levels), exercise and a diet low in carbohydrates, showed promising results in the patients he treated at his clinic in Boston. Several big studies since Joslin's death appeared to vindicate him. One, published in 1993 in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed that carefully managing glucose levels delays the onset of complications. Another, the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study, published in 1998, looked at levels of a substance called glycated haemoglobin A1C (a reliable indicator of blood-glucose levels). Healthy people usually have A1C levels of 4-6%. Any level above 9.5% is considered extremely dangerous. The study found that those whose A1C levels were reduced by treatment to around 7% suffered fewer heart attacks and strokes than those whose levels were held at around 8%. Despite this evidence, the glucose-control hypothesis has always had its sceptics. The core of their doubt is that what is being treated is a symptom

A row about milk quotas only confirms the idiocy of Europe's common agricultural policy AT LAST, say some European Union leaders, it is time for tough talk about the future of farming. Even the subsidy-mad French agree: a mid-term review of the common agricultural policy (CAP) is to begin during their stint in the EU's rotating presidency, later this year. It all sounds encouraging. Except for this: even as governments boast of tackling difficult reforms soon, France, Germany and others are trying to thwart an easy reform now that would let EU dairy farmers take advantage of soaring world prices. The row centres on the EU's milk quotas, which cap production in each country, with swingeing fines for producing too much. It offers a revealing, and depressing, case study. There may never be a less painful time to ease (or scrap) milk quotas. They were designed in 1984, when low market prices and high subsidies were filling EU warehouses with surplus "butter mountains' and mounds of milk powder, at ever greater cost to the EU budget. Liberal-minded types wondered naively if cutting subsidies might be an idea. They were outvoted by the farm lobby, which chose to curb production via quotas so as to boost prices. As an instrument, it was blunt

AFTER winning a new term as president by a landslide a year ago, Hugo Ch