SOS in this case is not a cry for help, but rather a brand of rice. Anyone who has lived here long enough to search for rice at a Spanish supermarket will know that SOS (say "sos" to rhyme with "toast") is a favourite brand of rice "Made in Spain" - especially for use in the infamous "paella". According to the official SOS group of companies' website, most of the rice exported from Spain leaves the country under their auspices. I recently learned that Andalucia produces 60 percent of the rice consumed across Europe. That's according to our regional public news service, Canal Sur. The same source has just revealed that researchers right here in the south of Spain have developed two new varieties of rice, which they've named "Carmen" and "Manuela" (why they've both been given female names, I have no idea). And they say it takes eight years for researchers to develop a new line of rice! The great thing about these new varieties is that they promise abundant, high quality crops that will thrive in the heat of an Andalusian summer. As might be expected, crop research is a big thing here in the south of Spain. This new rice was developed by the Andalucian Agrarian Research Institute (Instituto de Investigación Agraria de Andalucia), but there are also many scientists working for the national government at CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) centres across the region. I had the great pleasure to meet with scientists at one such nationally funded centre in Nerja where researchers are trying to create genetically modified crops that would do well even in the driest regions of Andalucia - tomatoes, for example, that would need little water and could perhaps depend on salt water. Imagine that!