It’s been so long since I’ve written – I don’t know where to start! My lack of attention to this blog has nothing to do with my love for golf. First let me say, I won the es…
Source: I’m Still Here
It’s been so long since I’ve written – I don’t know where to start! My lack of attention to this blog has nothing to do with my love for golf. First let me say, I won the es…
Source: I’m Still Here
Below is a screen grab of a thread on facebook on which I found myself tagged by my sister. I don’t know the OP or any of the commenters except the other person named Shepherd. I kind of feel bad that I invaded it and got a wee bit dogmatic but I really try to find teachable moments and this was one of those.
As people marvel at the advancements in cancer cures that involve genetic engineering, why aren’t they reacting similarly to the advancements in crop breeding technology that involve genetic engineering?
It’s all a matter of public perception.
Read full article posted below here.
Five years ago, the headline below would have scared me. Today it makes me take pause and look for supportive data and additional information. What a fundamental change that is indeed. (Full article associated with this headline here)
One of the first things I ran across when googling ‘splenda leukemia’ was this Op Ed from Forbes. Oh isn’t this interesting? The institute from which the study came is known for sketchy science practices.
(I half expected to find the ever-infamous Seralini’s name mentioned somewhere in the text. Remember him? He designed a study using rats prone to tumors, fed them GMOs and then produced so-called data showing that the GMOs caused the tumors. This study was a joke to the science world – published, retracted, republished – and a lot of people believed it and still do. The pictures of those poor, lumpy rats provided the emotional hook.
Forbes Contributor Trevor Butterworth writes:
Normally, when academics find something that might be of deep concern to public health, they submit their research to peer-reviewed scientific publications, which then fast-track the findings online if, that is, their academic reviewers find the study rigorous enough for publication. Moreover, these publications also send out an embargoed copy of the paper to journalists, along with a press release. In theory, this gives time for journalists to read through the paper, examine the data, and formulate questions for the authors of the research or other outside experts.
But why be transparent when you can be theatrical? In a move that bypasses good but boring scientific practice and goes straight for the klieg lights and the razzle dazzle of the media, Dr Morando Soffritti, Director of the Ramazzini Institute in Bologna, Italy offers only a press release saying that he found mice were at increased risk for cancer after being fed Splenda, the popular non-calorie sweetener.
Later, Butterworth adds (emphasis mine):
He (Soffriti) plans on telling the world more about this alarming finding, which disagrees with everything else we know about Splenda and sucralose, at a conference on childhood cancer in London tomorrow (Wednesday 25th), organized by Children with Cancer UK.
Ok, so this article alone makes me become very skeptical indeed about this study linking leukemia to Splenda, or sucralose, the generic name of the substance. I now wonder, well what does the actual data say? From here I try to find evidence-based articles where I can hopefully find links to actual peer-reviewed research. To find the actual studies with a few simple clicks proves difficult but I make a vow to dig in deeper later. Sticking with the Forbes piece I go on to read:
The problem hanging over the Splenda finding is that which hangs over the Ramazzini Institute in general: Quality control. No matter what substance the Institute tests for cancer, the results always seem to be positive, whereas other laboratories testing the same substances repeatedly fail to come up with the same findings.
Then I go on to read:
Take aspartame, which the Ramazzini Institute declared carcinogenic in a study it conducted in 2005 and multiple studies thereafter. The European Union’s Food Safety Authority commissioned a panel of experts to examine this study as a matter of high priority, given its alarming findings; its conclusions, however, were devastating. It appeared that many of the rats were sick with chronic lung respiratory disease, which just so happens to cause the same kinds of cancer that Ramazzini attributed to aspartame.
That sounds alarmingly like what Seralini did!
Suffice it to say, this study has been extensively and internationally criticized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the UK’s Department of Health Committee on the Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC), the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA/ANSES), and the New Zealand Food Safety Authory (NZFSA) and others. Quite an impressive – and for me, convincing – list.
I smell a rat!
One would assume that a research institute that wanted to be taken seriously would be concerned that so much criticism was coming it’s way. Apparently that is not the case. Butterworth writes:
The pattern was, tell the media about the cancer warning first, inflame public and political opinion, then stonewall the agencies on the data later. None of the studies were ever published in a leading, peer-reviewed cancer journal.
I still haven’t been able to get to the actual peer-reviewed studies initially done on sucralose. But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up. It is on my to-do list. The bottom line of what I’m trying to express is that we as consumers have to perform our due diligence if we want the actual facts. The science may in future show that sucralose is dangerous. But it hasn’t yet. That is what I know so far.
Here are some dos and don’ts that I follow:
Read a former post Spotting Bad Science For Dummies Like Me about how to recognize psuedo-science.
I have been wanting to post about this topic for awhile. It’s a bit of a rant but there is also a rave or two. Read on.
As I watch the perpetually ongoing merry-go-round of health activism with all its blame for obesity and disease going to culprits like GMOs, vaccines, this or that chemical, etc. – I am constantly reminded of this:
There are other countries in which the people are simply not obese, or even overweight. They eat the same GMOs we do – corn and cotton seed oils, canola, etc. Many get the same vaccines we do. They’re not diseased and fat. Or at least they don’t get the same obesity related diseases we do.
Last year I spent several weeks in southeast Asia, namely Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia. What was starkly obvious to me is that the further away from an American-type diet the populations got, the skinnier and more healthful looking the people were. I’m not talking poverty-skinny. I’m talking really gorgeous skinny.
Similarly, very recently I spent time on a Dutch Caribbean Island (Bonaire) and noticed that the supermarkets didn’t have entire aisles loaded with snacky stuff like potato chips and cheetos. Even on this remote island, cheeses and other dairy products were of much higher quality. I remember noticing the exact same thing decades ago when I spent six weeks in Germany. Markets devoted about a section or two of stacked shelving to potato chips and other junk – instead of the whole damn aisle. (On a side note, if you didn’t bring a bag, you didn’t get a bag. No one complained. It can be done. Whole other topic -sorry.)
Getting specific now, in Myanmar for example, no one was even fat let alone obese. The worst I saw was maybe slightly pudgy. The truth is I never saw more stunningly beautiful, slender, smartly dressed people in all my life! What do they eat? For one thing, lots and lots of fresh produce. Want a quick snack from a street vendor? Look any direction and you’ll find beautifully cut watermelon, mango or other sumptuous fruit. I can’t even think of one street vendor in America where I’ve ever seen sliced up watermelon for sale. When you’ve been tromping around doing touristy things under the hot Burmese sun and you see that watermelon all cut up nice on a little plate, it is a most refreshing purchase, and cheap too.
The same thing was true in Cambodia. Beautiful, slender people. Want some fast food? Fast food in Cambodia meant a vendor stir frying fresh vegetables with noodles, egg, meat or fish over a gas-heated wok. You stand there for about a minute, two tops, and you get a steaming plate or bowl of healthy made-to-order whole foods. Again, cheap. And did I mention delicious?
The best street food I had was in Battambang, Cambodia one night when my traveling partner and I arrived in town absolutely exhausted and starving. Here in the states we would have gone through the late-night drive through, right? Or maybe gone into a 7-11 for a bag of chips or cookies and maybe a dry sandwich boasting mystery meat and a leaf of wilted lettuce. Well in Cambodia you go to the late-night food stands. We went up to one such stand, pointed at some things on a poster not really knowing what we’d get and for two dollars, received an overloaded, large clam shell container that we couldn’t even close it was so jam packed. With what you wonder? Steaming broccoli, egg, chicken, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and other similar vegetables – all seasoned to perfection. Welcome to Cambodia.
Thailand was more of a mix of the American diet and local faire, especially in the big cities. In Bangkok I did see a lot of overweight Thais, though not any morbidly obese ones like one sees around every corner here in the States. But there was also plenty of delicious and healthy food to be found everywhere and once you get out of tourist areas, the diet is just as it is in Myanmar and Cambodia. Interestingly enough, what we think of as Thai food is almost exactly the same as what they eat in Cambodia and Myanmar – from my point of view anyway. I’m sure there are variations and a local would balk at what I just said, but that’s the way it seemed to me.
Just today I ran across this article from the LA Times Science & Medicine page about the uber high percentage of ‘ultra-processed’ food we Americans eat and it is no surprise to me. Just look at us. As a people, we’re fat and unhealthy. You really see it when you’ve been traveling in other countries and return.
Honestly, it’s downright shocking.
I was scrolling through facebook a few minutes ago and ran across this article from Upworthy.com posted by none other than one of my heroes, Kevin Folta. I skimmed through the article and then was blown away by the accompanying graphic (see below) that so keenly and colorfully exposes the bad science all around the infamous ‘study’ by Andre Wakefield & colleagues, as well as those who came after, linking vaccines with autism. (I am reposting the graphic under a creative commons license. Due to the limitations of my device, the graphic is reproduced in sections.)
Since then science and the rational movement have been fighting an uphill battle to get the public back on track about the benefit vs. risk of vaccines. Granted, some of the push back against vaccines stems not from the science, but from anti-corporate sentiment. The drug companies are out to fleece us, yes, of course there is that and understandably so, but when push comes to shove, vaccines protect against illness. Period. Do drug companies profit from vaccines? Yes they do but every time you buy a new iphone, so does Apple. We tend to pick on some companies and not others.
Several years back my elderly mother and I made a visit to Ashland, Oregon, one of the anti-vax stalwarts of the movement. Now I admit this account is purely anecdotal, but I’ll be damned if she didn’t return from Ashland with a nasty case of whooping cough that almost killed her. She made three trips via the ambulance to the hospital because her airway was so completely blocked by phlegm tossed about by the violent coughing. And I couldn’t help but wonder if this outbreak could have been avoided.
If you’re on the fence about vaccinating your child, please take a close look at this.
Doc Mercola is at it again – spreading fear and misinformation. Claiming a scientific position when in fact, his extremist posts about GMOs are quite the opposite. I subscribe to his emails – for entertainment mostly. Though I delete the vast majority of the emails, every now and then I open one up, as I did today, and found this link to an article. I am posting the blood syringes poking the tomato as well, the picture accompanying the article – a common anti-GMO meme that is so laughably NOT what GMOs are. The hook in my inbox was quite misleading as well. It said: Beware: These 10 Food Companies Are Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
Admittedly, there are things Mercola posts that are true – the well-documented benefits of high intensity exercise (known as high intensity interval training, or HIIT) for example. Consider this article published on the Science Daily website way back in 2010. Granted, Mercola has published extensively about HIIT. But to find truth on his website you really have to work at it. I doubt most people are willing to put in that kind of time and research.
Generally, Mercola is extremely anti-medical establishment, and I go so far as to say believe anything he says at your own risk – and likely peril. I actually considered stopping my mammograms back in the day when I believed in Mercola’s snake oil. He also claims that over half our diets should be made up of saturated fats.
Really? I almost bought that one too – no supportive citations sought. I believed anything in those days. The new Julee K googles subjects and includes ‘science’ as a search term. It’s amazing what different links show up with just one little added word – like this short Harvard School of Public Health article – clearly advising a moderate consumption of saturated fats based on scientific evidence.
Now I take the time to find peer-reviewed evidence to back up all the anecdotal claims made on the anything-goes new Wild West called the internet.
OK – back to GMOs.
Crop breeding technology, which is the broader category that a ‘food GMO’ falls into, is exciting! It is promising, full of possibilities and has the potential to solve many worldwide food-growing problems like pests and drought. There are many choices, many ways to get it done. We are entering a new age of the ability to manipulate DNA and as an open-minded non-scientist, I find myself intrigued by it – not scared.
Consider all the advancements in genetics when it comes to medicine. Do the GMO haters realize that drugs as commonplace and inexpensive as insulin would be impossible without genetic engineering? We are certainly reluctant to criticize or even be fearful of biological advancements when they cure cancer, right? Read about British baby Layla Richards. Given these life-saving, gene-altering miracles, why does gene-altering crop technology scare us so much?
The bottom line for me is this: good technology of any kind is not to be feared and even if it is feared, it shall not be stopped. Knowledge can’t be unlearned.
Though I haven’t posted in awhile, I am still passionate about spreading the real truth about GMOs and letting my story be known.
My blog tells the story – post by post – about how a person can go from believing that GMOs are dangerous and should be banned to realizing that there is much value and potential in transgenic technology and genetic engineering in general and that it can and will change the world – not just in the realm of food, but medicine and more.
I recently discovered a cooking teacher and food writer who has written an impressive amount on the topic of GMOs – in a short time. Julie Kelly is a bright, refreshing, relatively new voice for science – profoundly aware, never having planned to speak favorably about GMOs and yet couldn’t keep silent about the topic. Best of all, I believe she understands to perfection the potential of genetic engineering.
She summarizes the 2015 happenings in the GMO public debate in her article: Recapping the 2015 GMO debate: Science eclipses ‘Dark’ voices of anti-biotech hysteria.
Having just entered the world of GMOs a year ago, she has been prolific in reporting about it. I am most impressed.
Below is a list of some of her other articles on the topic: I have not read all of these and they may not represent how I feel about a certain topic within the realm of the broader GMO topic, but I’m sure I agree with most of what she says. I do admit that I am a frequent customer of Chipotle – for the sole reason that I love the taste of their food and I feel that it is a healthier fast food alternative than, say, a Big Mac.
WordPress just informed me that today is the third anniversary of my very first post on this blog. I had totally forgotten. How apropos this news is after my last post about the transformation in perception I experienced after communicating via email with Dr. Folta and the angry mob chasing him down.
I went back and reread my very first post. Ugh. I am embarrassed by it now. I was so mislead but my intentions were always in the right place. I wanted to inform. I still do!
So even though I am ashamed of it, below you will see my first ever post. I don’t even know that person anymore. I have changed so much since then…
Never in a million years did I think I could marry the topic of this blog, health and safety, to another of my passions, drum and bugle corps. But the opportunity has arrived!
The daytime show “The Doctors” put out this special report (link is below – please click on it!) on how some parents are taking their kids out of high-impact sports like football and soccer and encouraging participation in lower risk ‘team’ sports – like drum and bugle corps! To the best of my knowledge, no kid has ever suffered a concussion while participating in this activity, even though it also takes place on a big sports field and involves rigorous training.
What the heck is drum and bugle corps? Think high school or college marching band on steroids. There is more precision, more difficult music, more demanding marching drill, more stunning color guard choreography with rifle and flag tossing, etc. It is an all-encompassing, highly entertaining, feast-for-the-senses spectacle. If you ever have a drum corps show come through your town, go see it!
My son marched drum and bugle corps for five years and I was a volunteer mom. I worked the cook trailer where we sweat and toil to feed 200 sweaty, hungry people four meals per day. I helped out at shows and fundraising events and even joined the corps on tour last summer. Drum and bugle corps is not affiliated with any schools, is non-profit, run by a board of directors and takes place during the summer months when kids are out of school.
This activity provides youth ages 14 – 22 a variety of experiences including the chance to tour the country from coast to coast, performance venues in nearly every state, exposure to a first class music education, the responsibility of taking care of oneself (yes, the kids to their own laundry), the development of a strong work ethic.
Participation in drum and bugle corps really does offer all the same kinds of values that team sports provide, but also adds music education and the lack of head injury risk that has become such a hot topic – and rightfully so!
Maybe this is a victory for the band nerds at last!
Link to video:
For more information about drum and bugle corps (often shortened to ‘drum corps’): Drum Corps International