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Fruit and fowl

AERATED pineapples. Bald chickens. What will people think of next? The aerated pineapples were developed not by geneticists but by the US Customs Bureau, using screwdrivers. Agents were suspicious of a shipment of pineapples that arrived in Miami from Colombia, a major drug exporter. They remembered that earlier this month they had discovered 300 pounds of cocaine inside a shipment of plastic yams that looked so real nobody could tell the difference except by punching every one.

Zealously they started stabbing the pineapples. In went the screwdriver, out came pineapple juice. Out of one, out of a dozen. Out of a hundred, maybe a thousand. No drugs turned up.

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When it was over, the agents, somewhat like the Ancient Mariner, wound up looking at pineapple juice, pineapple juice everywhere. ``Just about every pineapple was punctured,'' fumed the importer, who sought $10,000 damages.

The chickens are the idea of poultry geneticists who say that fewer feathers will help them to withstand summer's heat better in areas of the American South where many are raised.

Already poultry experts have developed chickens with featherless necks and 30 percent fewer body feathers. Next idea: a totally featherless bird, a concept applauded by any human being who has ever spent a seeming eternity plucking out pinfeathers.

But whether the featherless idea will please other barnyard chickens is not yet known.

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