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Study Says Wild-Harvested Plants and Animals are Now About 20 Percent Smaller

Policymakers may not intend to keep us trim when they're pondering how to manage fisheries and other wild food resources. But a new study indicates that our current food-harvesting practices are making the stuff we eat smaller—very quickly.

The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that plants and animals being harvested aggressively around the world from the wild (rather than from farms) are changing more than two and a half times faster than would be expected under natural conditions.

"Two and a half times is pretty big," says Stephan Munch, an assistant professor of fisheries ecology at Stony Brook University in Long Island, N.Y.

Scientists have long assumed that humans can—and do—affect the plants and animals that live around us (with pollution and by introducing invasive species). But this new work, which analyzed data from dozens of other studies, found that our intense food-gathering practices have substantially changed the size and breeding schedule of at least 29 species in as few as 20 years.

Full story: http://www.sciam.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=honey-we-shrunk-the-foodreally-real-2009-01-15

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