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About 6,000 years ago some clever natives of Mexico figured out that corn was pretty good food. Actually, from our perspective, it wasn't really corn and probably didn't taste so good. It was a kind of grass with seeds on stems that were just a very few inches long.

Over hundreds of years, the natives genetically engineered corn. These early scientists were so successful at changing the genetics of corn that its cultivation spread far beyond Mexico, helping to feed the world's expanding population. It took many years, but thanks to the Aztec, Maya and Inca scientists one of humankind's first "frankenfoods" is now the most widely distributed crop in the world, a true victory for bio-technology.

My point is that there is almost no food we eat hasn't been genetically altered, bio-engineered and massaged, for one reason or another. Some foods were changed over many years. Recently scientists have learned to make changes quickly. What once was done slowly, now is done quickly.

Even though we in America have been eating bio-engineered food for many years, the practice has been getting quite a bit of press lately, mostly because of a fuss from Europeans.

I think technology applied to food for the right reasons is safe and a boon to mankind. I would much rather eat soybean products engineered to fight off insects than eat soybean products sprayed with vile pesticides. Same with corn.

Bio-engineered foods that produce more yield can provide more food for the starving. Americans aren't dying or sick because they are eating bio-tech foods. They are sick and dying from eating too much of all foods, creating an epidemic of obesity.

To reject bio-tech foods gives us two choices — eat organically grown nonbio-tech food or low-yield foods sprayed with obnoxious bug-killing or weed-killing chemicals. Both choices will cost us a lot more money than we are paying for food now. But then again, if we had to pay more money for food, maybe we would eat less.

You can check out the issues involved with bio-tech foods at these sites:

- Transgenic Crops: An Introduction and Resource Guide:" The goal of this Colorado State Web site, according to its developers, "is to provide balanced information and links to other resources on the technology and issues surrounding transgenic crops (also known as genetically modified or GM crops)" — www.colo state.edu/programs/lifesciences/TransgenicCrops.

- "Bioengineered Foods:" — This is a Food and Drug Administration site explaining the FDA policy concerning bioengineered food labeling — www.fda.gov/oc/biotech/ default.htm.

- "Council For Biotechnology Information:" This is an advocacy group for biotechnology. The case for bio-tech foods' safety is front and center — www.whybiotech.com/ index.asp?id=2098.

- "Biotechnology's Role in Agriculture:" A for and against presentation of some of the issues involving biotechnology from the University of Georgia — www.uga.edu/caes/biotech/ issues.html.

- "Agricultural Biotechnology and the Poor:" If you really want to spend some time learning about bio-tech food and what it might mean to the world, there is much to read at this site. The report covers a 1999 international conference on biotechnology — www.cgiar.org/biotech/ rep0100/biocover.pdf.

I did not include in this listing of sites produced by the one-sided ranters and ravers, who knee-jerk against the very idea of science and food, even as they have benefited from it throughout their lives. I don't say that all is perfect and that there does need to be an ongoing oversight by the government and public. What I do say is that science applied to food can be and has been of enormous value to mankind.

Those bothersome Outlook issues When I open Outlook Express, it opens in a tiny window. No matter what I do, it occurs. I've tried dragging the corners to fill up the page, hoping the next time I open up, it will revert back to full page, but no luck with that method. I am using Windows 98.

A fairly common problem with both Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. The problem occurs when a window is maximized and then the program is shut down. The operating system somehow gets confused and opens up the next time in a window size you don't want. The fix is to do just as you have been doing, but with one caveat. Open up Outlook Express as you usually do, immediately arrange the window to the size you want it to be by dragging the corners and sides. Here is the caveat — you must immediately close Outlook Express and Windows. When you reopen Windows and Outlook Express, your window should be the size it was when it last closed and presumably the size you want.

I had the same problem using Windows XP with Windows Explorer, where I had read the problem is not supposed to occur. The fix described above didn't work. I had to make a change in the registry, which did work.

As an aside, did you know that the easiest way to maximize or minimize a window is to double click on the title bar rather that the little tiny radio button in the upper right hand corner of the title bar?

Questions or comments are welcome. E-mail messages included in this column are edited for brevity and clarity. You can e-mail Tom Nelson at tnelson@billingsgazette.com. Fax him at (406) 657-1208.

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