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Major Threat to Human Fertility and Very Existence of Human Life On Earth

fertilityA long-term feeding study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety confirms genetically modified (GM) corn seriously affects reproductive health in mice.

Non-GMO advocates, who have warned about this infertility link along with other health risks, now seek an immediate ban of all GM foods and GM crops to protect the health of humankind and the fertility of women around the world.

Feeding mice with genetically modified corn developed by the US-based Monsanto Corporation led to lower fertility and body weight, according to the study conducted by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. Lead author of the study Professor Zentek said there was a direct link between the decrease in fertility and the GM diet, and that mice fed with non-GE corn reproduced more efficiently.

Other studies have also found that offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce.

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Is Red Meat’s Bad Name Justified?

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The news for red meat seems to be getting worse and worse.

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In December, a survey of more than 494,000 people by the National Institutes of Health found that men who ate more than 5 ounces of red meat each day and women who ate more than 3 ounces had a 51% greater risk of esophageal cancer, 61% of liver cancer and 24% of colorectal cancer than those who ate less than an ounce of red meat daily

In October 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, two charities that fund research on the effects of diet and activity on cancer risk, declared that the evidence linking red meat consumption and colorectal cancer was “convincing.”

And though previous reports for breast cancer have been contradictory overall, findings published in July from a Harvard study of more than 39,000 young nurses suggested that the risk of getting breast cancer before menopause goes up for every extra daily serving of red meat a woman ate as a teenager, a time period that had not been studied before.

Add the numerous studies linking red meat to other cancers, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease, and it sounds like the hamburger you had for lunch might as well have been laced with rat poison.

In fact, there is a place for red meat in a healthful diet, scientists say, but they recommend choosing smaller portions of lean cuts and cooking them well but not at high temperatures.

The question is which meat components are responsible for the observed health risks. Scientists have several theories, though none seems to tell the whole story.

Red meat can contain a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol, known contributors to cardiovascular disease. “We know that dementia is strongly related to vascular disease, so it’s likely we’ll find a relationship there as well,” says Dr. Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Contributing factors
Meat from commercially raised livestock also contains a high amount of omega-6 fats, which have been associated with poor cardiovascular health, but a low amount of omega-3 fats, which may be protective.

Another potential culprit is the iron in meat. Iron is essential for health, but iron from meat comes in a different form than that from vegetables and legumes, one that is absorbed whether the body needs it or not. “This type of iron can cause oxidative damage to all the components of the cell — the protein, lipid, DNA, RNA,” says Al Tappel, professor emeritus of food science at UC Davis.

Many of the studies that found an association between meat consumption and health risks did not differentiate between unprocessed meat, such as a steak, and processed or cured meats such as salami, bacon, pepperoni, bologna and hot dogs. Chemicals in processed meats may account for some of the cancer risk.

Finally, high-temperature cooking methods, such as grilling over charcoal, can cause the formation of known carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

Mary Young, a registered dietitian from the Centennial, Colo.-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., says that a study it commissioned on the science of red meat reached a very different conclusion (the study has not yet been published). “Red meat does not cause cancer,” she says. “Beef is really one of the most underappreciated nutrient-rich foods out there” — rich in protein and eight other nutrients, including B vitamins and zinc.

Some scientists, too, think that the risk of red meat has been overplayed. “The proof is not as strong as some people would like to think,” says Iowa State University animal science professor Don Beitz. “Cancer is such a multifactorial [problem]. I don’t see how one can just pin it on certain pollutants or nutrients.”

Rock-hard conclusions require carefully controlled, long-term, well-defined studies of many people. Each one of these requirements can be difficult to meet, so scientists rely heavily on epidemiological studies in which the normal habits of large numbers of people are tracked, often pooling the results of multiple studies.

But unlike lab rats, humans don’t live in a perfectly controlled environment, which makes it difficult to determine if it’s meat or something else in the diet or environment that leads to an observed cancer risk. Also, some studies ask people to recall what they ate years ago, and many studies don’t even define red meat the same way.

Even when a correlation between meat consumption and illness is found, the effect can be significant but small. In the December 2007 study, for example, high meat consumption resulted in only a 50% increased risk of developing esophageal cancer — by way of comparison, smoking can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer by 1,000% or more.

But to dismiss all risks because of inconsistencies in the research is unreasonable, Willett says. “That’s exactly the same argument used by cigarette manufacturers to say that smoking is not harmful. . . . The perfect study will never be done. The next best thing will be epidemiology.”

Scientists generally agree that lean red meat has a place in a healthful diet — in moderation. Studies showing increased cancer risks have mostly focused on high meat intake; the greatest risk increases are for those eating far more than the USDA-recommended limit of 18 ounces per week.

“One approach is to treat red and processed meat as a treat and not a regular staple,” said Dr. Michael J. Thun, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society

Moderation, it appears, is not the American way. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2006 the average American consumed 95 pounds of beef and 64 pounds of pork — about 7 ounces of red meat a day.

To sidestep some health concerns without giving up steak, some consumers have turned to grass-fed beef, which studies have shown to contain a heart-healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

Meanwhile, scientists are looking to make beef more healthful via selective breeding.

The amount of specific nutrients in steaks from two animals of the same breed can vary by a factor of two or three, Beitz says. He and others in a group of researchers known as the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium hope to find genetic markers for a host of nutrients, including omega-3 and other beneficial fats, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12. The research, sponsored by Pfizer Animal Science, would help animal breeders look at animals’ genetic profiles to select ones with the best nutritional composition.

“In a way, we’re trying to allow people to indulge themselves to a greater extent than to moderate,” said James Reecy, an Iowa State geneticist also involved in the project.

The same technique could be used to limit the unhealthy components of meat as well, such as specific saturated fats. Cattle breeders have already begun doing this, Reecy says.

Willett isn’t convinced that these efforts will eradicate the health risks that come from consuming red meat. “You may make it healthier in one way, but you’re unlikely to fix all the problems at the same time,” he says.

Click to see:->Red Meat Does and Doesnot

Sources:Los Angles Times

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Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food

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Brenton Johnson, an organic farmer and owner of Johnson’s Backyard Garden, came up with this list of top 10 reasons to buy local food, based on his philosophy to live in harmony with the land.

1. Locally grown food tastes better. Food grown in your own community is usually picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet, and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in is much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles.2. Local produce is better for you. Fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.

3. Local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment. Only a handful of varieties of fruits and vegetables meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors.4. Local food is GMO-free. Although biotechnology companies have been trying to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, they are currently licensing them only to large factory-style farms. Local farmers don’t have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn’t use it even if they could.

5. Local food supports local farm families. With fewer than 1 million Americans now listing farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middle man and get full retail price for their crops.

6. Local food builds a stronger community. When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower.

7. Local food preserves open space. As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. The rural landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable.

8. Local food helps to keep your taxes in check. Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes.

9. Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife. A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming.

10. Local food is about the future. By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, so that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.

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Purple Tomato that Fights Cancer

A purple tomato genetically engineered to contain nutrients more commonly seen in dark berries helped prevent cancer in mice, British researchers said on Sunday.

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The finding, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, bolsters the idea that plants can be genetically modified to make people healthier.

Cancer-prone mice fed the modified fruit lived significantly longer than animals fed a standard diet with and without regular tomatoes, Cathie Martin and colleagues at the government-funded John Innes Centre in Britain reported.

“The effect was much bigger than we had expected,” said Martin, a plant biologist.

The study focused on anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant found in berries such as blackberries and blackcurrants that have been shown to lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.

While an easy health boost, many people do not eat enough of these fruits, the researchers said.

Using genes that help colour the snapdragon flower, the researchers discovered they could get the tomatoes to make anthocyanins — turning the tomato purple in the process.

Mice genetically engineered to develop cancer lived an average of 182 days when they were fed the purple tomatoes, compared to 142 days for animals on the standard diet.

“It is enormously encouraging to believe that by changing diet, or specific components in the diet, you can improve health in animals and possibly humans,” Martin said in a telephone interview.

The researchers cautioned that trials in humans are a long way off and the next step is to investigate how the antioxidants actually affect the tumours to promote better health.

But the findings do bolster research suggesting that people can significantly improve their health by making simple changes to the daily diet, other researchers said.

“It’s exciting to see new techniques that could potentially make healthy foods even better for us,” said Dr. Lara Bennett, science information officer at Cancer Research UK.

“But it’s too early to say whether anthocyanins obtained through diet could help to reduce the risk of cancer.”

Click to see :->Pomegranates: the fruity panacea

Berries ‘help prevent dementia’

Darker fruits could fight cancer

Purple tomato ‘may boost health’

Sources: The Times Of India

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Are Nanofoods the Next Consumer Nightmare?

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Consumers already worried about genetically engineered or cloned food may soon find another worry in their grocery carts: nano-foods.

Nanotechnology involves the design and manipulation of materials on molecular scales. Companies using nanotechnology say it can enhance the flavor or nutritional effectiveness of food. Food produced by using nanotechnology is quietly coming onto the market, and consumer groups want U.S. authorities to force manufacturers to identify them.

U.S. health officials generally do not place warning labels on products unless there are clear, known reasons for caution or concern. But consumer advocates say uncertainty over health consequences alone is sufficient cause to justify identifying nano-foods.

Sources:
Reuters July 30, 2008

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