The pesticide producers are one of the most powerful industries on the planet, the influence they possess is enormous. You have probably heard that an Elsevier journal has retracted the Seralini study which showed evidence of harm to rats fed a GMO diet, despite admitting they found no fraud or errors in the study.
This journal had also just recently appointed an ex-Monsanto employee as an editor – one could only guess the value of this strategy for the pesticide industry. Expect Seralini to sue as this story develops, as it appears he has a very strong case.
Alas, the scientific ground on which the genetic engineering of plants is built may now be shakier than ever, thanks to GMO promoting scientists like Dr. Pamela Ronald. A recent article in Independent Science News1 questions whether she’ll be able to salvage her career, as two of her scientific papers (published in 2009 and 2011 respectively) were recently retracted.
With the loss of her credibility, and the domino effect these retractions are likely to cause within the scientific field, the entire chemical technology industry stands to suffer a great blow to its scientific integrity.
“Her media persona… is to take no prisoners,” Jonathan Latham, PhD writes.2 “After New York Times chief food writer Mark Bittman advocated GMO labeling, she called him ‘a scourge on science’ who ‘couches his nutty views in reasonable-sounding verbiage.’ His opinions were “almost fact- and science-free” continued Ronald.
In 2011 she claimed in an interview with the US Ambassador to New Zealand: ‘After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of two billion acres planted, GE crops have not caused a single instance of harm to human health or the environment.’”
She may have to turn down her criticism a notch, considering the fact that not one but two of her own studies were found to contain sizeable scientific errors, rendering her findings null and void. Questions have also been raised about a third study published in 2011, according to the featured article.
Public Face of GMOs Loses Scientific Credibility
Ronald’s research group claimed to have identified a molecule used by rice plants to detect pathogenic rice blight, as well as a quorum sensing molecule (meaning a molecule that can coordinate gene expression according to the density of the local population).
These two studies, both of which are now retracted,3, 4 formed the basis of her research program at the University of California in Davis, which is investigating how rice plants detect certain pathogenic bacteria.
Ronald blamed the erroneous work by long gone lab members from Korea and Thailand, referring to the errors as a “mix-up.” She didn’t name her bungling colleagues, however. And while media coverage applauded Ronald for “doing the right thing” by retracting the studies, the featured article5 questions whether she really deserves such accolades:
“[S]cientific doubts had been raised about Ronald-authored publications at least as far back as August 2012… German researchers had been unable to repeat Ronald’s discoveries… and they suggested as a likely reason that her samples were contaminated.
Furthermore, the German paper also asserted that, for a theoretical reason, her group’s claims were inherently unlikely. In conclusion, the German group wrote: ‘While inadvertent contamination is a possible explanation, we cannot finally explain the obvious discrepancies to the results…’
Pamela Ronald, however, did not concede any of the points raised by the German researchers and did not retract the Danna et al 2011 paper. Instead, she published a rebuttal.
The subsequent retractions, beginning in January 2013, however, confirm that in fact very sizable scientific errors were being made in the Ronald laboratory. But more importantly for the ‘Kudos to Pam’ story, it was not Pamela Ronald who initiated public discussion of the credibility of her research.
… Ronald’s footnotes [in the explanation that accompanied the retraction of her second article6 admit two mislabelings, along with failures to establish and use replicable experimental conditions, and also minimally two failed complementation tests. Each mistake appears to have been compounded by a systemic failure to use basic experimental controls.
Thus, leading up to the retractions were an assortment of practical errors, specific departures from standard scientific best practice, and lapses of judgment in failing to adequately question her labs’ unusual (and therefore newsworthy) results.”
The Snowball Effect of Retracted Studies
According to data from Thomson Reuters,7 the numbers of scientific retractions have climbed more than 15-fold since 2001. What many don’t realize is that even a small number of retracted studies can wreak absolute havoc with the science-based paradigm. Other scientists who have based their research on the results from studies that, for whatever reason, end up being retracted, are now perpetuating flawed science as well. In one example, two retracted medical studies led to the retraction of another 17.
In this case, the first of Dr. Ronald’s retracted studies has been cited eight times.8 The second? 113 times.9 That sounds like an awfully large cleanup job in a field that’s already heavily criticized for its preponderance of “lousy science,” to use the words of award-winning geneticist Dr. David Suzuki.
The Problem with GMO Plant Science
It’s important to realize that genetically engineered plants and animals are created using horizontal gene transfer (also called horizontal inheritance). This is in stark contrast to vertical gene transfer, which is the mechanism in natural reproduction. Vertical gene transfer, or vertical inheritance, is the transmission of genes from the parent generation to offspring via sexual or asexual reproduction, i.e., breeding a male and female from one species.
Horizontal gene transfer, on the other hand, involves injecting a gene from one species into a completely different species, which yields unexpected and often unpredictable results. Proponents of genetically engineered crops assume they can apply the principles of vertical inheritance to horizontal inheritance, but according to Dr. David Suzuki, this assumption is flawed in just about every possible way and is “just lousy science.”
Genes don’t function in a vacuum — they act in the context of the entire genome. Whole sets of genes are turned on and off in order to arrive at a particular organism, and the entire orchestration is an activated genome. It’s a dangerous mistake to assume a gene’s traits are expressed properly, regardless of where they’re inserted. The safety of genetically modified food is based only on a hypothesis, and this hypothesis is already being proven wrong.
The kind of horizontal gene transfer that is currently used to create new crop seeds tends to produce highly inflammatory foreign proteins. As one would expect, were there a connection, inflammation-based chronic diseases have indeed increased right alongside with the proliferation of GMO foods in the US. Clearly, Dr. Ronald never bothered to look at such data, and her declaration that “GE crops have not caused a single instance of harm to human health or the environment”10 is as lacking in scientific support as her retracted research.
Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Posted by Xeno on March 11, 2014
Posted by Xeno on March 8, 2014
Sounds great. Medical grade accuracy? I’d like to do some comparisons. I wish they had an ear clip that would measure blood sugar as well. ECG without placing the electrodes on your chest? Blood pressure without a cuff? How can that work?
Posted by Xeno on March 7, 2014
The small business mandate doesn’t go into effect until 2015, but restaurants across the country are already passing the extra costs associated with having to offer healthcare to their employees on to consumers.
Double D’s Sourdough Pizza in Denver recently started adding a five percent charge to customer’s bills in order “to pay for half of the health care costs of all employees, both full- and part-time,” according to CBS Denver.
Double D’s owner Ted Dorr says he isn’t trying to make a political statement by subjecting patrons to the extra charge. He just wanted to be able to offer health care to his employees.
A restaurant chain in Florida also recently began adding a one percent surcharge to its customer’s bills.
According to CNN:
The Gator Group’s full-time hourly employees won’t actually receive health insurance until December. But the company said it implemented the surcharge now because of the compliance costs it’s facing ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate kicking in in 2015…
Obama care sounds like a great idea, but who is going to pay for it?
“It is already paid for.”
Posted by Xeno on February 28, 2014
Footlong fans breathed a sigh of relief at the beginning of February, when sandwich chain Subway announced that it was removing azodicarbonamide — a chemical used in shoe rubber and yoga mats — from its bread.
Though the World Health Organization has said that the chemical is safe for human consumption, some studies have suggested it could be linked with asthma and skin and respiratory problems. And when the chemical is baked, it forms another chemical that has been linked to cancer in animal studies, CBS News pointed out. A series of popular petitions circulated by blogger Vana Hari, who runs the website FoodBabe.com, have also argued the case that its efficacy as a “bleaching agent” in bread just isn’t worth the potential health hazards.
It’s been well-established at this point that azodicarbonamide is a relatively common ingredient in processed foods. But a newly released study by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit, suggests that azodicarbonamide is far more common than we may have realized. EWG pored through the ingredient lists of more than 80,000 common grocery foods in an attempt to figure out which products contained the chemical. And they found it in nearly 500 items sold under 120 different brand names. …
As a food additive, azodicarbonamide is used as a flour bleaching agent and an improving agent. It reacts with moist flour as an oxidizing agent. The main reaction product is biurea, a derivative of urea, which is stable during baking. Secondary reaction products include semicarbazide and ethyl carbamate. The United States and Canada permit the use of azodicarbonamide at levels up to 45 ppm. In Australia and Europe the use of azodicarbonamide as a food additive is banned.
Posted by Xeno on February 24, 2014
Jiroemon Kimura the man who lived longer than any other man in recorded history attributed his robust health to waking early in the day, watching his food portion sizes (a regular breakfast of rice porridge and miso soup), reading the newspapers and watching parliamentary debates on TV.
There may be something special about those red beans with rice. “For his last birthday, he dined on grilled fish, steamed rice and red beans, a Japanese tradition on special occasions.” – (link)
I think Mr. Kimura was eating Sekihan (Japanese Azuki Beans & Rice). Was he growing his own food? He retired in 1962 at age 65 after 40 years as a postman and was then a farmer until age 90.
Azuki beans are a good source for a variety of minerals. They are rich in soluble fiber which lowers bad LDL cholesterol, low in calories and fat, they have healing properties for kidney, bladder and reproductive functions. The bean has diuretic effect to strengthen kidneys and may act an effective cure for urinary dysfunction and bladder infections. The presence of plant estrogens in these beans has been credited in breast cancer prevention by reducing body estrogen levels. The beans are high in protein (~25%) and easy to digest.
Azuki beans, 1 cup (230g) (cooked, boiled)
Total Fat: 0.23g
4.6 mg of Iron (~25% RDI)
119.6 mg of magnesium (~30% RDI)
1.223 g of potassium (~25 % AI)
4.0 mg of zinc (~25% RDI)
278 µg of folic acid (~70% RDI).
I’m going to try to grow some here in California. I was glad to hear that they are somewhat drought resistant.
Climatic requirements. Seeds do well during frost-free periods, with cool nights. The plant is reported to be somewhat drought resistant. Adzuki beans have similar requirements to soybeans or drybeans.
Propagation and care. Adzuki is a short-day plant that does not grow well in waterlogged soil. Information from the University of Minnesota recommends treating the seeds for fungi, insects and bacteria before planting. Adzuki beans emerge more slowly when the soil is 50 to 55�F. In Minnesota, the best planting time is between May and June. A good plant population is 105,000 plants per acre (25-35 pounds of seed). Plant seeds in rich, loamy soil, to 1 inch deep. Plants should stand 2 to 3 inches apart. Recommended row spacing varies from 12 to 18 inches, or 18 to 30 inches. Neutral to alkaline soil is required for maximum N fixation, and a medium to high soil test level of P and K should ensure adequate fertility levels and the best crop yield. Fertilize seedlings when they are 4 to 5 inches high and again when the flowers start to form pods. Moisture should be ample and at a consistent level. Uneven ripening is characteristic of adzuki beans. Expect mature pods, brownish in color, with slightly yellow and completely green pods on the same plant. Adzuki beans will fix nitrogen but require innoculation with a Rhizobium strain specific to this crop.
White mold, bacterial stem rot, and other bean diseases may affect adzuki beans. A good rotation program, furrow rather than overhead irrigation, use of disease-free seed and a spray program can help prevent these diseases. Most adzuki varieties are susceptible to a number of aphid borne viruses that attack legumes, including curly top virus.
Harvest and postharvest practices. To harvest as green beans, pick the adzuki pods when the beans are faintly outlined in the pod. Picking every 5 to 6 days is usually sufficient. In California Adzuki beans will mature in less thatn 120 days for use as dry beans.
Growers can cut and windrow adzukis in the morning to allow drydown and combine later in the day, or direct combine the beans with a grain header or row crop headers. Pods shatter very easily, especially if the harvest is delayed until late in the season or the day. To decrease losses, use slower speeds, open the concaves, and harvest only during appropriate hours. The entire plant, including dry pods, can be harvested and stacked in a dry, well-ventilated place for drying. Complete drying occurs a week or two after harvesting. After drying, shell the beans and store in refrigerated, air-tight containers.
Pest and weed problems. Adzuki beans compete poorly against weeds. Seed quality is critical to early vigor. Choose a location with light weed pressure and rotary hoe 7 to 10 days after planting. Cultivate the beans when the primary leaves are fully developed, and if necessary, 10 to 20 days later. …
Another important tip seems to be this: eat less!
So what does the world’s oldest man eat? The answer is not much, at least not too much. Walter Breuning, who turned 113 on Monday, eats just two meals a day and has done so for the past 35 years. “I think you should push back from the table when you’re still hungry,” Breuning said. At 5 foot 8, (“I shrunk a little,” he admitted) and 125 pounds, Breuning limits himself to a big breakfast and lunch every day and no supper. “I have weighed the same for about 35 years,” Breuning said. “Well, that’s the way it should be.” “You get in the habit of not eating at night, and you realize how good you feel. If you could just tell people not to eat so darn much.” – link
I love food too much. Would you rather eat all you want and be happy and comfortable … and die 20 years earlier? There is no solid evidence yet in primates that reducing calories will make you live longer, but there are hints. Azuki beans, which are low in calories, make it easier to accomplish calorie restriction with adequate nutrition (CRAN) because they give healthy levels of protein, vitamins and minerals. Do they taste good?
Posted by Xeno on February 23, 2014
Beijing faced some of its worst smog levels ever starting Friday, when the government raised the city’s four-tiered smog alert to “orange,” the second-highest level on the Chinese government’s air pollution urgency system. The alert prompted schools to cancel outside sports and health officials to issue advisories suggesting children and the elderly stay indoors.
The orange level alert was raised on Friday as heavy smog rolled into China’s capital, blanketing the city in a thick, gray haze that is expected to last for the next three days. According to the Associated Press, government officials were reluctant to raise the urgency level to orange because it would be difficult to enforce certain measures – like taking half of the city’s cars off the road – meant to alleviate high levels of pollution, but public outcry on the Internet and in the media pressured the government to issue the warning.
“When the alert is at a low level, the measures are not effective, but those for the high-level alert are not feasible,” Ma Jun, of the non-governmental Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, told the Associated Press. “The government is reluctant to raise the alert level.”
Beijing’s tiered air pollution alert system was introduced last October. Despite periods of heavy and dangerous smog, the plan’s stricter measures have never been implemented.
The orange alert also led to bans on barbeques, fireworks and even halted demolition work in the city. Reuters reports that if the pollution urgency alert is raised to “red” – the highest level – the government would be forced to close schools and yank half the city’s vehicles off the road, based on the last number on their license plates.
According to Reuters, city officials sent inspectors to several factories around the capital and warned them that any emissions violations they found would be met with fines.
If the current level of air pollution in Beijing lasts for more than three days, the government will have to raise the urgency level to red.
In January, Beijing officials recorded dangerous levels of poisonous smog. Density readings that measure the amount of particulate matter in the air exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic meter – about 20 times as high as what the World Health Organization considers safe.
Over the past several decades, as China has rapidly developed, tons of pollutants have been spewed into the air. Health officials estimate that China’s air pollution is killing hundreds of thousands of people every year. Between 2002 and 2011, lung cancer cases in Beijing nearly doubled. …
This situation is disgusting and shameful, a great example of lies and collectively broken priorities. Auto pollution is only 4% of the problem. Everyone there must wake up, understand the most significant contributors and then care enough to change and stop fouling the air. There is no doubt that the air pollution is killing people. Is that what you get in Beijing for murder, a fine?
Emissions from coal plants in China were responsible for a quarter of a million premature deaths in 2011 and are damaging the health of hundreds of thousands of Chinese children, according to a new study.
The study by a US air pollution expert, commissioned by Greenpeace, comes as many areas in northern and eastern China have been experiencing hazardous levels of air pollution in recent weeks.
In some eastern cities including Shanghai, levels were off the index that tracks dangerous pollution, with schools closing and flights being cancelled or diverted. Sales of air purifiers and face masks have soared with many retailers selling out of stock as residents try to protect themselves from the poisonous smog. In Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces visibility was reduced to less than 50 metres earlier this week and in the city of Nanjing a red alert for pollution was maintained for five consecutive days.
The analysis traced the chemicals which are made airborne from burning coal and found a number of health damages were caused as a result. It estimates that coal burning in China was responsible for reducing the lives of 260,000 people in 2011. It also found that in the same year it led to 320,000 children and 61,000 adults suffering from asthma, 36,000 babies being born with low weight and was responsible for 340,000 hospital visits and 141 million days of sick leave.
“This study provides an unprecedentedly detailed picture of the health fallout from China’s coal burning,” said Dr Andrew Gray, a US-based expert on air pollution, who conducted the research. Using computer simulations, Gray said he was able to “draw a clear map tracing the trail of health damages left by the coal fumes released by every power plant in China, untangling the contribution of individual companies, provinces and power stations to the air pollution crisis gripping the country.”
Posted by Xeno on February 20, 2014
Nestlé is recalling certain varieties of Hot Pockets after learning they’ve potentially been stuffed with “diseased and unsound animals.”
The company is voluntarily pulling the product from the shelves as part of a massive USDA recall of 8.7 million pounds of meat processed by Rancho Feeding Corp. The meat in question, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, is “unsound, unwholesome or otherwise are unfit for human food and must be removed from commerce.” According to Nestlé, a “small quantity” of that meat may have made its way into the Hot Pockets produced at its California facility.
The affected products are Hot Pockets brand Philly Steak and Cheese in three different pack sizes, and Hot Pockets brand Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese in the two-pack box (more details on the specific batch numbers here). Other flavors — Ham & Cheese, Meatballs & Mozzarella, Bacon Cheddar Cheese Melt, etc. — are safe. …
Posted by Xeno on February 16, 2014
Blood glucose monitors are used to measure the amount of glucose in blood, especially of patients with symptoms or a history of abnormally high or low blood glucose levels. Most commonly, they enable diabetic patients to administer appropriate insulin doses. The availability of home-use glucometers, as opposed to clinical-use equipment, has greatly improved the quality of life of such individuals. However, such monitors require a blood draw through finger pricks for each test, which causes pain and inconvenience. Each test also requires a new test-strip, contributing to the recurring cost of such a device.
> Optimum insulin dosage, however, requires frequent/continuous monitoring of blood glucose, and currently available glucometers do not address this requirement. Continuous monitors do exist, but they need to be implanted under the skin, causing trauma while being implanted, and they need to be replaced every week. An alternative exists in non-invasive blood glucose monitors. This article introduces an architecture that uses Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to determine blood glucose levels based on transmittance spectroscopy on the ear lobe. Using various body parameters, such as tissue thickness, blood oxygen saturation, and a linear regression-analysis based calibration system, an accurate and real-time architecture is proposed. An example implementation using full analog, digital, and mixed signal capabilities of a programmable system-on-chip, the PSoC-5LP controller from Cypress, is given as well.
I’d really like a non-invasive device to show my blood sugar. What’s the hold up? Is the FDA stalling to protect the US junk food industry?
Posted by Xeno on February 16, 2014
As flu-watchers like to say, you can always count on influenza virus to surprise.
The is that scientists have apparently been wrong about where new flu viruses come from. The dogma is that they always incubate in wild migratory birds, then get into domestic poultry, and then jump into mammals — especially pigs and humans.
If novel flu viruses acquire the ability to transmit readily in humans — boom! — you’ve got a pandemic on your hands. And if a pandemic virus is particularly lethal, like the that has made public health people anxious for the past 10 years, it could be a global catastrophe.
But evolutionary biologist and his colleagues say that wild-bird scenario does not describe the true origin of the flu viruses that have troubled the world over the past 140 years.
Instead, the flu viruses circulating globally since the early 1870s are all closely related to those that infect an animal we don’t associate with influenza these days: the horse.
Worobey, of the University of Arizona, has reanalyzed 80,000 flu virus genomes with a new set of assumptions about how these viruses mutate at widely different rates when they infect different species. His team found there was a “global sweep” in the mid-19th century that replaced six of the flu viruses’ eight genes — the “internal” genes that code for proteins other than the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase markers found on the viruses’ surface.
There’s intriguing evidence that the ancestor of modern flu viruses first appeared in horses — and not that long ago, in evolutionary terms. Its introduction is marked by an that began near Toronto in late 1872 quickly devastated horse populations all over North America.
Horsepower was essential in this pre-internal-combustion-engine era, so there were lots of horses around. And so many horses died of the flu that mail delivery broke down, the price of coal soared (because it couldn’t be delivered), the U.S. cavalry had to fight Apaches on foot, and a fire destroyed half of Boston because teams of young men drafted to pull the pumping trucks couldn’t respond fast enough.
… The new analysis, published online Sunday in Nature, doesn’t determine whether the new flu jumped from horses into poultry or the other way around. Chickens could have picked it up by roosting in barns with sick horses, or vice-versa. But in either case, it’s clear that, once established in domestic birds, it spread to wild birds — ultimately to the world over.
Moreover, that 1870s-vintage virus contributed most of its genes to the H1N1 flu virus that caused the devastating pandemic in 1918-1919, which around the globe.
Posted by Xeno on February 5, 2014
The government on Monday sought approval of a nationwide fisheries federation to dump groundwater at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex into the sea on condition that the water’s contamination level is far below the legal limit.
During talks with the head of the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, industry ministry officials explained that they plan to set “strict” operational procedures for the pump system to allay the concerns of fishermen who think the move could deal a blow to their business.
Groundwater will be pumped out before it gets mixed with highly radioactive water accumulating at the basement of reactor buildings, and will be directed to the adjacent Pacific Ocean.
How about no? Dig down to the magma and pump the contaminated water all down there. We’ve killed the ocean enough already. We need it to survive.