Dear Aggie

Providing answers to the questions you didn't know you wanted to ask

In contrast to the usually more sober contributors to the Agrichemical and Environmental News, Dear Aggie deals light-heartedly with the peculiarities that cross our paths and helps decipher the enigmatic and clarify the obscure. Questions may be E-mailed to Dear Aggie at Opinions are Aggie's and do not reflect those of WSU.

In the newspapers recently, I've read about how wine and beer may have beneficial health effects, especially in preventing cancer. Are there any other possible benefits?

As a matter of fact, there may be another reason to drown your stress in fermented beverages. Researchers in Japan have been studying grape seed extracts for their anti-ulcer activity. Grape seed extracts contain a group of chemicals called procyanidins, which are included in red wine and grape juice. The extracts can be fed to rats whose stomach linings have been irritated by an acidified ethanol solution to produce an ulcer-like condition. The ulcer injuries were greatly reduced by the grape seed extracts. Good-bye milk, hello Washington State Merlot! (Source: J. Agric. Food Chem., 1998, vol. 46, p. 1460)

DDT is still in the environment and never breaks down. Is that true?

Actually, DDT does break down in soil, plants, and animals into several products. The one of most concern is DDE, which has one less chlorine. Unfortunately, DDE is stored in body fat but is slowly transformed and excreted from the body. In soil and sediments DDE has been believed not to breakdown. However, new research from Michigan State University, indicates that microbes in deep marine sediments can change DDE into DDMU. That's good news because DDMU is not considered a priority hazardous pollutant. Furthermore, if taken up by animals, it can be rapidly broken down and excreted. Even man-made chemicals can't fool Mother Nature. (Source: Science, 1998, v. 280, p. 722)

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