Thursday, September 27, 2007

France to Reduce GMOs

Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) are becoming a larger component of the foods we eat everyday. Unless we're eating all organic, it's likely that they're lurking in our daily cereal, sandwich, and dinner salad. It's something that we don't think about since, in the U.S., there is no mention of this on the labels of the products we consume. While those who create and use genetically-modified seeds claim that tinkering with mother nature allows farmers to increase production while decreasing costs, the impact on our health and that of the environment hasn't adequately been addressed. As a result, more countries are starting to second-guess their decision to allow the use of GMOs.

Last week Jean-Louis Borloo, France's minister for ecology, development and sustainable management, committed to reducing the spread of GMOs by preparing a freeze on the commercialization of GM seeds, while expanding the research on the effects of GMOs to include a greater cross-section of the scientific community. Currently, most of the research done is by biotech companies who have an obvious vested interest. France's minister told Le Monde: "Everyone is in agreement on the GM issue: it is not possible to control their spread. So we will not take the risk."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Another Reason to Love Your Friends

It's common knowledge that prolonged isolation can lead to depression and cause other psychological harm. Now scientists say they've found a genetic component that may help explain why persistent loneliness is physically unhealthy. In a study of people on both extremes of the loneliness scale, lonely individuals were found to have overactive genes that promoted inflammation and cell growth when compared with their socially-connected peers. Similarly, the genes of lonely people were deficient in controlling inflammation and the cellular life cycle. It's not that certain individuals are genetically doomed to loneliness. Rather, the study concluded that certain genes may be more or less active in lonely people and have consequential negative effects on their health. According to WebMD these genetic patterns may explain why chronic loneliness has long been linked to poorer health and accelerated aging. Like with so many things in life, researchers highlight that it's the quality and not the quality of relationships one has that seems to matter.