Tag Archives: Scientific American

Why can’t we test GMOs for health impacts? — The end-user licence agreement prohibits such tests

Jokes abound about software end user licence agreements, which, by and large, nobody reads, although to install the product, you do usually have to click on the box that says you have read it and agree to its terms. Well it seems Monsanto has learned a thing or two from the software industry, and while they’re not requiring you to give up your firstborn child to use their products, they apparently ARE requiring that you not do scientific tests to assess possible health risks to humans. Global Research has the scoop:

“One of the great mysteries surrounding the spread of GMO plants around the world since the first commercial crops were released in the early 1990’s in the USA and Argentina has been the absence of independent scientific studies of possible long-term effects of a diet of GMO plants on humans or even rats. Now it has come to light the real reason. The GMO agribusiness companies like Monsanto, BASF, Pioneer, Syngenta and others prohibit independent research.

“An editorial in the respected American scientific monthly magazine, Scientific American, August 2009 reveals the shocking and alarming reality behind the proliferation of GMO products throughout the food chain of the planet since 1994. There are no independent scientific studies published in any reputed scientific journal in the world for one simple reason. It is impossible to independently verify that GMO crops such as Monsanto Roundup Ready Soybeans or MON8110 GMO maize perform as the company claims, or that, as the company also claims, that they have no harmful side effects because the GMO companies forbid such tests! Continue reading


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Serious crop losses expected in Europe

From Jeremy Lovell and Climate Wire in the Scientific American:

“LONDON — One of the driest spring seasons on record in northern Europe has sucked soils dry and sharply reduced river levels to the point that governments are starting to fear crop losses and France, in particular, is bracing for blackouts as its river-cooled nuclear power plants may be forced to shut down.

French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire warned this week that the warmest and driest spring in half a century could slash wheat yields and might even push up world prices despite the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s predicting a bumper global crop due to greater plantings. Continue reading

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More evidence we are bacteria-sapiens

From Robert Martone, in Scientific American, “The Neuroscience of the gut”:

We human beings may think of ourselves as a highly evolved species of conscious individuals, but we are all far less human than most of us appreciate. Scientists have long recognized that the bacterial cells inhabiting our skin and gut outnumber human cells by ten-to-one.

Indeed, Princeton University scientist Bonnie Bassler compared the approximately 30,000 human genes found in the average human to the more than 3 million bacterial genes inhabiting us, concluding that we are at most one percent human. We are only beginning to understand the sort of impact our bacterial passengers have on our daily lives. Continue reading


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New generation of antibiotic-resistant “super-bug” bacteria on the horizon

From Maggie Koerth-Baker at Boing Boing blog:

Photo via Boing Boing blog

Maryn McKenna—my favorite “Scary Disease Girl” and author of Superbug—will be taking questions during a live chat today at Scientific American’s Facebook page. The chat starts at 2:00 Eastern and lasts for a half-hour.

The chat is connected to a new article that Maryn wrote for Scientific American, which centers around some disturbing new trends in antibiotic resistance. You may have heard about the recently announced discovery of a pneumonia-causing bacteria, called Klebsiella pneumoniae, that had developed a resistance to a class of antibiotics called carbapenems. This is more than just another bacteria resistant to another antibiotic. Continue reading

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Complex science behind food safety

From Scientific American. Thanks to Karen Selick for pointing this out.

The source for this story.

Editor’s note: The following is an edited excerpt from a chapter in Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking(The Cooking Lab, 2011), a six-volume set consisting of 2,348 pages of text and photography.

Scientific research on foodborne pathogens provides the foundation for all food safety rules. Generally speaking, two kinds of research inform us about issues of food safety. The first is laboratory experimentation: for example, testing how much heat will kill a pathogen or render it harmless. Data from these experiments tell us the fundamental facts about pathogens of interest. The second kind of research is investigation of specific outbreaks of foodborne illness. Continue reading


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Food shortages, governmental collapse

“Underneath the Egyptian Revolution” by Billy Wharton, on the Examiner.com:

So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being. – Franz Kafka

Hands grabbing bread in Egypt. Click image to see source.

Hidden beneath the spectacular street battles that aim to force Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak out of office is a trigger that exists in dozens of countries throughout the world – food.  Or, more specifically, the lack of it.  Continue reading

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The Scientific American toes the party line with story about raw milk titled — “Got E-coli?…”

Here’s an excerpt from that article:

UNSAFE OR THE REAL DEAL?: Raw milk has a loyal following, but the unpasteurized product is also linked to illnesses contracted from bacteria that may lurk in milk that comes straight from a cow or goat. IMAGE COURTESY OF CHIOT'S RUN, VIA FLICKR.COM (via Scientific American)

“…..No Germs, Less Taste
It seems like some new technology might have come along by now, an alternative to HTST pasteurization, that would make milk safe without delivering what some people think is an inferior product with less taste and nutrition. Yet, few alternatives have emerged since the days of Pasteur, according to University of Minnesota (U.M.) associate professor of veterinary public health, 
Jeff Bender. Each of the available alternatives has a downside: For example, some believe that low-temperature pasteurization (also known as batch processing) yields a tastier product. This process heats the milk up to a minimum temperature of 62 degrees C where it remains for 30 minutes, thereby taking longer than standard HTST pasteurization. Continue reading

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