5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

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Courtesy photo
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David Benscoter, who located the trees, stands by a century-old apple tree on an abandoned homestead near Steptoe Butte, in this 2014 file photo. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 06 March 2018
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5 types of apples, once thought extinct, are rediscovered

LEWISTON, Idaho: Five types of apples, once thought to be extinct, have been rediscovered in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.
The Lewiston Tribune newspaper reported Monday that “apple detective” David Benscoter located the trees growing near a butte in the rolling hills of the vast Palouse agricultural area.
Benscoter worked with apple experts at the Temperate Orchard Conservancy in Oregon and Fedco Seeds in Maine to positively identify the apple types. They were compared to written descriptions from old books and antique watercolor paintings.
The newly rediscovered apples include the Shackleford, Saxon Priest, Kittageskee, Ewalt and McAffee varietals. An estimated 17,000 named apple varieties are thought to have originated in North America, but Benscoter says only about 4,000 still exist today.
“I just love the history of these old apples and what they meant to the first homesteaders that arrived here in eastern Washington and northern Idaho,” Benscoter said. “The apple was the most important fruit you could have, and it could be used in so many ways.”
He first became interested in hunting down the almost-gone and nearly forgotten fruit when he helped a neighbor with chores on her property. He found an old apple tree and began to search the Internet to try to figure out what variety it bore.
By checking old county fair records in Whitman County, Washington, he discovered several apple types that were listed as extinct.
Since that time, he has discovered more than 20 varieties of apples that were once considered lost. He’s hoping area residents will let him know if they have old apple trees in neglected orchards or growing in back fields that he can examine.
“Those apples have been forgotten about in the back of someone’s field or an old orchard nobody has taken care of in a hundred years,” Benscoter said. “I’m hopeful, and obviously the search has been somewhat successful, and so I think there are still many apples out there that can be found.”
Apples have as many 50 different identifiers, including stem length, shape, size, color and structure.
Benscoter thinks he’s found an additional seven apples in the region that were also thought to be extinct or extremely rare, but they have yet to be confirmed.
Those include the Autumn Gray, Surprise No. 1, Flushing Spitzenburg, Republican Pippin, Bogdanoff Glass, Flory and Early Colton.
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Information from: Lewiston Tribune, http://www.lmtribune.com


Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

Updated 18 June 2018
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Gaming addiction classified as mental health disorder by WHO

  • Addiction to video games has been recognized by World Health Organization as a mental health disorder
  • The International Classification of Diseases now covers 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death

GENEVA: Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.
In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the UN health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players.
WHO said classifying “gaming disorder” as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.
Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s department for mental health and substance abuse, said the agency accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”
Dr. Joan Harvey, a spokeswoman for the British Psychological Society, warned that the new designation might cause unnecessary concern among parents.
“People need to understand this doesn’t mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help,” she said.
Others welcomed WHO’s new classification, saying it was critical to identify people hooked on video games quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don’t seek help themselves.
“We come across parents who are distraught, not only because they’re seeing their child drop out of school, but because they’re seeing an entire family structure fall apart,” said Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a spokeswoman for behavioral addictions at Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. She was not connected to WHO’s decision.
Bowden-Jones said gaming addictions were usually best treated with psychological therapies but that some medicines might also work.
The American Psychiatric Association has not yet deemed gaming disorder to be a new mental health problem. In a 2013 statement, the association said it’s “a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion” in its own diagnostic manual.
The group noted that much of the scientific literature about compulsive gamers is based on evidence from young men in Asia.
“The studies suggest that when these individuals are engrossed in Internet games, certain pathways in their brains are triggered in the same direct and intense way that a drug addict’s brain is affected by a particular substance,” the association said in that statement. “The gaming prompts a neurological response that influences feelings of pleasure and reward, and the result, in the extreme, is manifested as addictive behavior.”
Dr. Mark Griffiths, who has been researching the concept of video gaming disorder for 30 years, said the new classification would help legitimize the problem and strengthen treatment strategies.
“Video gaming is like a non-financial kind of gambling from a psychological point of view,” said Griffiths, a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “Gamblers use money as a way of keeping score whereas gamers use points.”
He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small — much less than 1 percent — and that many such people would likely have other underlying problems, like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.
WHO’s Saxena, however, estimated that 2 to 3 percent of gamers might be affected.
Griffiths said playing video games, for the vast majority of people, is more about entertainment and novelty, citing the overwhelming popularity of games like “Pokemon Go.”
“You have these short, obsessive bursts and yes, people are playing a lot, but it’s not an addiction,” he said.
Saxena said parents and friends of video game enthusiasts should still be mindful of a potentially harmful problem.
“Be on the lookout,” he said, noting that concerns should be raised if the gaming habit appears to be taking over.
“If (video games) are interfering with the expected functions of the person — whether it is studies, whether it’s socialization, whether it’s work — then you need to be cautious and perhaps seek help,” he said.