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  • CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz. I`m 6-2, I have dark hair and brown eyes.

  • You know why? Genes.

  • They are these little pieces of code that determine the characteristics of living things, and all living things have them.

  • But genes can be changed, they can be modified, and that`s how you end up with a GMO, a genetically modified organism.

  • Some companies modify the genes of animals and plants that are part of our food chain.

  • Over the weekend protests like this one happened at dozens of countries around the world.

  • Two million people protesting against GMOs.

  • And against one specific company that makes them.

  • Jake Tapper digs into the details.

  • JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some opponents of these GMOs want them banned.

  • Others say foods whose DNA has been changed need at least to be labeled.

  • Monsanto is the leading producer of genetically modified seeds and herbicides.

  • In the last quarter alone, Monsanto sold seed, much of it modified, worth more than $4 billion.

  • It`s a business, the company says, that is helping to feed the planet.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a vision that strives to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.

  • TAPPER: But the protesters want to know just how their food is being re- engineered.

  • Some of the outrage was sparked by these shocking photos showing massive tumors that developed on these rats after they ate genetically modified corn over their lifetimes.

  • But that study by researchers at the University of Cannes (ph) in France has been criticized by many in the scientific community and by the European Food Safety Authority,

  • who say it is simply not up to scientific standards.

  • Even so, the disturbing tumor photos did lead many to question their own standards about what exactly we`re all eating.

  • One question, how can you know if you`re eating genetically modified foods and feeding them to your family?

  • Well, you can`t. And that`s the issue.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I received over 2,200 letters on this topic.

  • TAPPER: Last week, senators debated whether states could require food labeling for products with genetically engineered ingredients.

  • SEN. BERNARD SANDERS, I-VERMONT: The concept that we`re talking about today is a fairly common sense and non-radical idea.

  • TAPPER: The legislation, introduced by independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, failed.

  • SANDERS: When you take on very powerful biotech companies like Monsanto and large food corporations,

  • who in many ways would prefer that people not know what is in their food that they produce, they are very powerful.

  • TAPPER: And this comes on the heels of what critics call the Monsanto Protection Act.

  • That`s legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president earlier this year,

  • a bill that allows genetically modified crops approved by the Agriculture Department,

  • to be grown even if there is action in the courts declaring them to be dangerous.

  • On its web site, Monsanto states, quote, "plant biotechnology has been in use for over 15 years without documented evidence of adverse effects on human or animal health, or the environment."

  • Legislators who sided with Monsanto say the company is improving on nature.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be more accurate called a modern science to feed a very troubled and hungry world.

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s first "Shoutout" goes out to Mrs. Hansey`s (ph) history and government classes at Layton (ph) High school in Layton, Utah.

  • Where will you find the city of Timbuktu?

  • Here we go. Is it in Asia, Africa, South America or nowhere? It`s fictional?

  • You`ve got 3 seconds, go.

  • Timbuktu is a real place, and it`s located in the West African nation of Mali.

  • That is your answer and that`s your Shoutout.

  • AZUZ: Timbuktu was the center of Islamic culture, and its famous library was home to hundreds of thousands of important documents and manuscripts.

  • When violence broke out there earlier this year, there was concern that those documents might be destroyed.

  • But most of them had already been smuggled out.

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To get the manuscripts out, we packed them very tightly in footlockers, which are metal boxes, much like what you see in the army.

  • And as people began to understand what they were carrying, they said we want to help.

  • They would offer all kinds of help just because they felt very strongly that this was their heritage as well.

  • AZUZ: So the documents are safe, right?

  • Not necessarily. Now they are facing a new threat.

  • The manuscripts went from Timbuktu, which is on the edge of the Sahara desert, to southern Mali.

  • The climate there more humid.

  • The paper is showing signs of mildew and rot, and southern Mali`s rainy season is just weeks away.

  • Next up today, brains.

  • They send out impulses that control our movements and motor skills.

  • Last week, brain surgeons were installing a device to help a patient control tremors in his hand.

  • To see if it was working, doctors woke him up during surgery and had him do some tests.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My music is really important to me, so I am hoping that this will allow me to do that, to play guitar.

  • I`m a finger picker, I want to get back to that.

  • I had just been putting it off, trying to figure out why this is happening.

  • So hopefully this is going to help that.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we saw was a level of precision and a level of control that he has not experienced in years.

  • And that second stage is when we implant the generator that actually sends the electrical impulses to his brain.

  • AZUZ: Cindy Corcoran (ph) and her mother were both injured during the Boston marathon terrorist bombing last month.

  • They both survived, but they had severe injuries.

  • Cindy is 18, a senior in high school, and while she and her mother were recovering,

  • Cindy had her sights set on some upcoming milestones.

  • Senior prom, her high school graduation. She wanted to get to both.

  • Cindy didn`t just make it to prom; she was crowned prom queen.

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was in the hospital, I didn`t think that this was going to be possible.

  • Oh my gosh, the rehab and I just - because I was up and I was doing (inaudible),

  • more like I could do it, and it was a goal, like this graduation (inaudible).

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, "Shoutout" extra credit goes out to Ms. Carlton`s (ph) students at the Black River public school in Holland (ph), Michigan.

  • Now, which of these is arthropod?

  • You know what to do. Is it a squid, ant, slug or mushroom?

  • Rewind that clock to 3 seconds and go.

  • Arthropods have joint limbs, and the only option with those is an ant.

  • That`s your answer and that is your "Shoutout" extra credit.

  • AZUZ: Crazy ants. Sounds like a children`s toy or your mother`s eccentric sisters.

  • But these things are a lot less fun.

  • Tawny crazy ants are native to South America, they are invasive in North America, and they are quickly making themselves at home.

  • They have turned up in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida.

  • They travel well, unfortunately, so they could have arrived here on ships.

  • Their scientific name is Nylanderia fulva, which is why I`m calling them crazy ants.

  • The other reasons, they can colonize in huge numbers, take over food sources, leaving nothing for other species to eat, and they are omnivores.

  • If another ant crosses them, the crazies will attack and destroy.

  • This could have a significant impact on North American ecosystems. Plus.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These ants will come into your house, they nest in your crawl spaces and in your walls.

  • And they reach very high abundances in your house.

  • AZUZ: And they make terrible pets.

  • They like to nest near electrical equipment, like the switchbox in your house or the wiring in your car.

  • They can short that out, and that`s just one reason why they`re crazy.

  • These things are quick to swarm, their trails are haphazard and wide, and they are hard to get rid of.

  • Can you call an exterminator? Yes.

  • Can they kill crazy ants? Yes.

  • Could the ants come back? That`s the kicker.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You kill the ants in this spot and they just flood in from the surrounding habitats.

  • So the ability to control them is really limited.

  • AZUZ: And don`t think poisoned bait will send them packing to that great anthill in the sky.

  • Tawny crazy ants won`t eat it.

  • People who have been infested say they want their fire ants back.

  • The good news is, crazy ants don`t sting you like fire ants, which is why you can watch this and not hear screaming.

  • The bad news is, well, that`s about the only good news.

  • There is something we can do or not do.

  • Reproductive crazy ants don`t fly.

  • They hitch rides with humans to new areas.

  • So if we can make sure that plants are ant-free before we transport them,

  • that our cargo is free of ants before we travel,

  • we may be able to keep the pests from spreading.

  • Otherwise there is no telling what end there will be to their antics.

  • Before we go today, we want you to see a superlative symbol.

  • This is the flag of Romania.

  • This one might not look like much when you`re up close but take a step back and you start to get some perspective.

  • This isn`t just any flag; it`s the largest flag in the world.

  • 11,045 feet by 744 feet. It took 44 miles of thread to make the thing and 200 people to help roll it out.

  • It`s too heavy to actually flutter in the wind, but when it comes to formidable flags,

  • thanks to its banner achievement, that one has taken over the poll position.

  • It`s time for us to fly, we`ll see you tomorrow on CNN STUDENT NEWS.

  • END

CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz. I`m 6-2, I have dark hair and brown eyes.

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May 30, 2013 - CNN Student News with subtitles

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