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The Body Scientific

Does genetically modified corn cause cancer?

Part 1 of 2

 

Although genetically modified organisms may be rejected out of hand, there is a rationale for their existence. The opponents of such crops have recently seized on a scientific paper reporting that GMO corn causes cancer as a vindication of their views. Before examining the paper, it will be useful to review the history of such genetically modified crops.

 

Does genetically modified corn cause cancer?

Part 1 of 2

Although genetically modified organisms may be rejected out of hand, there is a rationale for their existence. The opponents of such crops have recently seized on a scientific paper reporting that GMO corn causes cancer as a vindication of their views. Before examining the paper, it will be useful to review the history of such genetically modified crops.

What is driving whooping cough’s return?

One of the most frightening sights — and sounds — of my training as a pediatrician was a child with pertussis, also called whooping cough. He was comfortable when I first saw him in his mother’s lap — maybe breathing a bit too fast, but nothing that set off the internal alarm bells that I was still struggling to calibrate in the early years of my residency. Just as I started to talk to his mother, it started: an accelerating stream of coughs. The first ones were regular baby coughs, then much faster and louder. His face turned red, then blue — a scary shade that had a trace of gray in it.

Glaciers, scientists and climate change

I have just read Daniel Yergin’s 2011 book “The Quest,” about energy production, including new and old sources of energy and the extent to which worries about climate change have reset the energy agenda. The treatment of climate change is thorough and clear. It is a book that both New England conservationists and Houston oilmen can read profitably. “The Prize,” Dr. Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the founding of the oil industry, is a good prologue for understanding the energy business and much of the modern world. These books will get you through the cold New England winter.

Glaciers, scientists and climate change

I have just read Daniel Yergin’s 2011 book “The Quest,” about energy production, including new and old sources of energy and the extent to which worries about climate change have reset the energy agenda. The treatment of climate change is thorough and clear. It is a book that both New England conservationists and Houston oilmen can read profitably. “The Prize,” Dr. Yergin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the founding of the oil industry, is a good prologue for understanding the energy business and much of the modern world. These books will get you through the cold New England winter.

Parkinson’s disease: a problem with movement, or so we thought

Moving seems effortless. This is as it should be — we would not have survived on the African savannah if we had to consciously plan every movement. But make no mistake, there is a lot of planning. You’re just gracefully oblivious to it. You decide to move, and it happens almost instantaneously. Who is taking care of all the planning? The responsible party is a complex network of neurons that are distributed throughout the brain. One part of this network is called the “substantia nigra” and it has a pivotal role in coordinating movement.

Alzheimer’s III — new approaches

The Aging Brain

In two previous columns about Alzheimer’s disease, we discussed the beta-amyloid hypothesis. In summary, beta-amyloid is a protein that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and an enormous effort has gone into beta-amyloid clearing therapies. The theory is that if we can remove beta-amyloid from the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, then they’ll get better.

The president’s $100 million BRAIN Initiative

President Obama has unveiled a serious program for support of basic science as it applies to the human brain. First, let’s understand that $100 million is a poker player’s ante, a sort of pilot or planning grant to decide on projects to tackle and to do initial research. Over the next 10 years the price will be perhaps $3 billion in addition to the $5 billion or more a year we now spend on neuroscience research. Some of this will come from wealthy foundations, some from taxpayers. BRAIN, by the way, is an inane acronym for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.

The president’s $100 million BRAIN Initiative

President Obama has unveiled a serious program for support of basic science as it applies to the human brain. First, let’s understand that $100 million is a poker player’s ante, a sort of pilot or planning grant to decide on projects to tackle and to do initial research. Over the next 10 years the price will be perhaps $3 billion in addition to the $5 billion or more a year we now spend on neuroscience research. Some of this will come from wealthy foundations, some from taxpayers. BRAIN, by the way, is an inane acronym for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies.