Pocketbook issues often decide many elections, and in that regard there was some good news this week ... mostly on the job front.
For starters, *companies added 96,000 jobs to their payrolls in September, a modest pace that fell slightly below expectations. *The nation's unemployment rate held steady last month at 5.4 percent. *And the number of people filing for new jobless claims fell sharply last week to the lowest level in a month.
The job market in agriculture has been steady in recent months. But there was some concern in the beef industry, in the wake of the Mad Cow scare last winter. Some meatpackers made layoffs as overseas markets like Japan were closed.
But breakthroughs appear imminent, both on the trade front and in the lab, where scientists this week announced advances in the mapping of bovine DNA that could limit future outbreaks of deadly cattle diseases.
There was plenty to "moo" about this week as scientists announced they have created a genetic map of a cow. Scientists believe that by identifying and better understanding the function of genes in cattle, researchers will be able to track the genetic makeup of the animals and breed cattle that are more disease resistant and require fewer antibiotics.
The gene tracking also will help cattle breeders discover traits that will allow for better milk and meat products. The hope is better gene breeding can serve as a tool to enhance the nutritional value of beef and dairy products ... and in general, increase the safety of the food supply.
The $53 (m) million dollar international project that began in December 2003, was led by Baylor University's College of Medicine in Houston. It involved genes of the Hereford breed, but gene sequencing of a half dozen other breeds will follow. Future breeds to be studied include Angus, Holstein, Jersey, Limousin, Brahman and Norwegian Red.
The research can be accessed through several public databases on the Internet.