FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika

August 8, 2016 by  
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With confirmation that Zika-carrying mosquitos have finally spread to the US, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a controversial new experiment to confront the attendant risk. Genetically engineered mosquitoes will be released in Key West , Florida in an attempt to control the spread of the virus. The engineered male mosquitoes contain a gene that causes any offspring to die before the bugs can transmit the disease to humans. The altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were created by Oxitec Ltd ., which has already carried out trials in Brazil, the Cayman Islands , and Panama. By any measure, the tests were a runaway success: local mosquito populations were reportedly reduced by 90 percent. While the FDA gave preliminary approval to the test earlier this year, the decision has now been made formal with the agency’s release of an environmental assessment showing the mosquitos would “not have significant impacts on the environment.” However, Oxitec still needs the approval of Key West residents in order to go ahead – polling will take place later this fall. Related: Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time While this is an effective method of controlling mosquitoes and the numerous diseases they carry without resorting to harsh chemical pesticides, the plan comes with controversy . Some opponents to the plan cite concerns about safety, the impact on tourism, and the potential impact the declining mosquito population could have on the nearby ecosystem. At least one entomologist has argued that the ecological concerns are overblown , since only one particular species of mosquito is targeted by the efforts. However, these concerns are exactly why it’s so important to start with small-scale tests rather than simply releasing the modified mosquitos throughout the country. This approval comes after Center for Disease Control officials confirmed that the Zika virus has finally reached the continental US . Though there have been cases reported throughout the US this year, this is the first time public health officials have seen cases that were acquired by patients in the US. Previous cases were generally acquired when the victims had traveled to countries with a known Zika outbreak, although there have been some cases that were believed to be sexually transmitted . Via The Verge Photos via Yael and DodgertonSkillhause

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FDA approves genetically modified mosquitos to fight Zika

The food we eat isn’t what we think it is, new book shows

August 3, 2016 by  
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Inaccurate food labeling is a rampant problem in America. That Kobe steak you ordered? Unless you’re at one of three U.S. restaurants to whom Japan sells the rare beef, it’s probably a cheaper cut. That white tuna sushi you crave? It could actually be escolar, otherwise known as “Ex-Lax fish.” Journalist Larry Olmsted shows just how prolifically the food industry lies in his new book released this month, Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It . To research for Real Food/Fake Food , Olmsted traveled around the world, hitting up Alaska, Italy, and Japan (to name a few countries) in a quest for the truth about what we’re eating. He found items as common as honey, rice, and coffee as well as more exotic items like Kobe beef are often either cut with other ingredients or, in some cases, substituted with cheaper food items pretending to be the real thing. Related: Michael Moss Investigates How Junk Food Is Engineered to Be Addictive Let’s take the example of extra-virgin olive oil . Often other oils like soybean oil or peanut oil are added to olive oil, but they’re not listed under the ingredients. And if the bottle says “pure” on it, it’s probably not a good buy; that misleading label actually means the olive oil is the lowest grade it can be. The mislabeling issue doesn’t end with the food industry. According to Olmsted, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knows about some of the mislabeling. He wrote, “They’re not clueless. They know…They say they don’t have the budget.” We can’t exactly swear off eating food, so Olmsted offered tips of what to look for in his book. In the case of olive oil, there are a few more trustworthy labels. The California Olive Oil Council’s “COOC – Certified Extra Virgin” label can be trusted, as can UNAPROL and EVA labels, said Olmsted. Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), and Alaska Seafood: Wild, Natural, Sustainable logos can help you find quality seafood. Olmsted wrote, “The good news is that there is plenty of healthful and delicious Real Food. You just have to know where to look.” + Real Food Fake Food Via the New York Post Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Pixabay

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The food we eat isn’t what we think it is, new book shows

Peter Thiel thinks the blood of the young could help him fight death

August 3, 2016 by  
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Elon Musk and Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal together, but public perception of the two is wildly different. While Musk is often seen as a real-life Iron Man here to usher in an age of green technology and carbon-free living, Thiel has made headlines for supporting Donald Trump and bankrupting Gawker . Now an interview with Thiel has surfaced, in which the tech billionaire says he’s exploring parabiosis, or blood transfusions from young people to help fight aging and death . Thiel told Inc. reporter Jeff Bercovici, “I’m looking into parabiosis stuff, which I think is really interesting. This is where they did the young blood into older mice and they found that had a massive rejuvenating effect…it’s one of these very odd things where people had done these studies in the 1950’s and then it got dropped altogether. I think there are a lot of these things that have been strangely underexplored.” Related: PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel Invests Big Money in 3D-Printed Steaks Thiel is referring to 1950’s experiments in which scientists connected the circulatory systems of two rats by stitching them together. For decades parabiosis was generally considered fringe science, but now some researchers in the U.S., China, and Korea are taking another look. A U.S. company, Ambrosia, is conducting trials where participants over 35 pay $8,000 to receive blood transfusions from donors younger than 25. Thiel Capital Chief Medical Officer and Thiel’s Personal Health Director Jason Camm reportedly reached out to Ambrosia for more information, but a Thiel Capital spokesperson told Inc. Thiel has yet to begin parabiosis treatments. Thiel has spoken out on his unique perspective on death before. He’s invested in biotech startups and plans to be cyrogenically frozen upon death. Nearly two years ago he told The Telegraph , “You can accept [death], you can deny it, or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.” Back in 2009 he wrote in the journal Cato Unbound , “I stand against confiscatory taxes, totalitarian collectives, and the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual.” Via Vanity Fair Hive and Inc. Images via Steve Jurvetson on Flickr and Fortune Live Media on Flickr Save

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Peter Thiel thinks the blood of the young could help him fight death

Activists call on the EPA to ban glyphosate

April 12, 2016 by  
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As evidence mounts regarding the environmental and health problems associated with widespread use of the pesticide glyphosate —otherwise known as Monsanto ’s Roundup—consumer advocacy groups are mobilizing to work for government action. While glyphosate has already been banned or widely restricted in other countries, its use has not been dramatically scaled back in the United States. Now, activists are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the license for glyphosate in an effort to prevent future problems. Read the rest of Activists call on the EPA to ban glyphosate

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Activists call on the EPA to ban glyphosate

New study shows BPA-free plastics may not be safer

February 4, 2016 by  
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Many plastic products now tout that they are “ BPA-free, ” meaning that they are no longer comprised of the endocrine-disrupting industrial chemical that has been implicated in brain, behavior, and prostate-gland problems in fetuses, infants, and children. Going BPA-free has been a mandate from many consumers for years now, and while it’s good to see alternatives to BPA plastics available , it turns out that the alternatives may be just as bad — or worse — than the BPA itself. Read the rest of New study shows BPA-free plastics may not be safer

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New study shows BPA-free plastics may not be safer

The US government approves drug-producing “GMO” chickens

December 30, 2015 by  
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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a chicken that has been genetically engineered to produce a drug in its eggs. As part of a growing trend known as ‘farmaceuticals,’ these transgenic chicken eggs will contain a recombinant human enzyme that replaces a faulty enzyme in people with a rare, inherited condition that prevents the body from breaking down fatty molecules in cells. The drug, called Kanuma, was treated to a priority review by the FDA, which fast-tracked its approval. Read the rest of The US government approves drug-producing “GMO” chickens

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The US government approves drug-producing “GMO” chickens

12 most jaw-dropping Inhabitat stories of the year

December 23, 2015 by  
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This year proved the age-old maxim: buyer beware. Not only did we discover that herbal supplements may not contain what they claim , we also learned that tampons can be hazardous for your health in more ways than one . It was also a shocking year in environmental news as scientists realized that their worst fears may be coming true , China’s toxic lakes reminded us about the true cost of our smartphones and would-be scientists were banned from taking photos in Yellowstone National Park. Check out all 12 stories and let us know which one surprised you the most. Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll. Read the rest of 12 most jaw-dropping Inhabitat stories of the year

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12 most jaw-dropping Inhabitat stories of the year

BREAKING: Genetically engineered salmon approved for human consumption

November 19, 2015 by  
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Today, environmental activists across the US are cringing at the FDA’s announcement  that they have given a variety of genetically engineered salmon the green light, deeming the fish fit for human consumption. The AquAdvantage salmon has been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as regular salmon, so it reaches market weight sooner. While the announcement is disappointing for many, it doesn’t come as a major surprise — the FDA gave it preliminary approval more than five years ago. Read the rest of BREAKING: Genetically engineered salmon approved for human consumption

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The FDA just officially banned artificial trans fats

June 16, 2015 by  
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It’s official: artificial trans fats are now banned by the FDA. Partially hydrogenated oils, the primary source of artificial trans fats in processed foods  have long been linked to heart disease, and the new law aims to help eliminate them from the American diet. Getting rid of artificial trans fats will, according to the FDA, help “prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.” Read the rest of The FDA just officially banned artificial trans fats Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: artificial trans fats , banning artificial trans fats , banning trans fats , fda , Food and Drug Administration , partially hydrogenated oils , trans fat labels , trans fats

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After scandal, GNC commits to test all herbal supplements for unlabeled and fraudulent ingredients

March 30, 2015 by  
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In the wake of a scandal which found that herbal supplements such as ginseng and valerian root sold at major retailers contain cheap fillers such as wheat and soy , Pennsylvania-based GNC has signed an agreement with the New York Office of the Attorney General to implement rigorous testing of all GNC supplements. It marks the first time that such a deal has been made, and will require the retailer to perform tests that far exceed the standards currently set by the FDA . Read the rest of After scandal, GNC commits to test all herbal supplements for unlabeled and fraudulent ingredients Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: allergens , allergies , attorney general , dna barcoding , fake herbal supplements , fda , fraud , GNC , GNC supplements , herbal supplements , herbal supplements fraud , herbs , ingredients , supplement testine , Target , Target Supplements , testing , walgreens , walmart , Walmart supplements

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