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Biotech Seed Companies and Coca-Cola Fight Back

14 Aug

Both the soft drink industry and the GMO seed producers are laying exposed their vulnerabilities in an attempt to convince the consumer of their product benefits.

Coca-Cola is going to begin advertising their diet colas using the scientific evidence that shows that Aspartame (NutraSweet) is safe while the biotech seed companies launched a website to tout the virtues of genetically modified organisms. In both cases, the move is in response to consumers becoming more informed about the effects of messing with Mother Nature.



The Coca-Cola article just happened to occur one day before Utah researchers came out with a conclusion that what is considered a “safe” level of sugar consumption in humans, when fed to mice, had a dramatic negative affect on their health. Coca-Cola was not preparing in advance of this release, more so, was responding to the decrease in sales of sodas. Likewise, the GMO producers were responding to negative public perception and their total failure to convince the Europeans to continue to use GMO products. The seed and chemical companies are desperate to maintain their position within the US Agriculture Community.

In each case, the industry is laying exposed their greatest vulnerabilities, which are directly tied to consumer awareness. At this point in time, they have no other choice. As for the consumer, the consumer always has an alternate choice. We will see how successful these industry campaigns are in garnering customer loyalty, or not. With what many call the failure of Microsoft’s RT products recently, it is clear it takes more than multi-million-dollar ad campaigns to sell products. The products more and more need to offer real value and stand up to the scrutiny of an ever increasingly informed public.

Genetically Modified Bees to Save the Bees

29 Jul

Worldwide there are concerns about the health of bee populations. The threat to the bees is tied to neonicotinoids among other things. Monsanto in 2012, purchased Beelogic and apparently plans to genetically modify bees in order to save them from the chemicals.

In a related development, the Agriculture Department of Illinois took the bee population from a renowned naturalist who had been developing bees that naturally were resistant to RoundUp/ Glyphosate. Of particular note is that the bees were taken without a warrant or a court hearing. It is suspect that Monsanto had made the request although the State of Illinois claims they were taken due to a routine inspection that uncovered bacteria in the colonies. Terrence Ingram, the naturalist, can be seen on this YouTube video.

Terrence had his day in court, but was convicted and fined $500. The only problem was that he was unable to defend himself, by proving the bees were not infected with foulbrood, as the bees had been confiscated and (apparently) destroyed.

On another note, in Europe, Monsanto has decided to give up their push into genetically modified seeds and limit the sales of seeds in Europe to those that are not GMO. The popularity of GMO seeds was not being met with enough business success, especially with the beekeepers in Poland.

Learning Online

20 Jul

The value of the internet cannot be overstated when it comes to providing an education for those that pursue it. If you are not concerned about an education, and prefer to simply own a degree, knowing that the “learning” part is not important, check out the Forbes article by John Tamny. He makes the case that learning is not important, only the degree and most importantly the “where” that degree comes from.

For those looking for an education online, there are the never ending availability of YouTube videos or the Google search results that provide the education. For others, there are the online lectures available from iTunes U or such Universities as Stanford and not to be left out, edX (recently the focus of The Colbert Report).

Now entering the online education arena with a new boost to their funding is Coursera. This clearly adds some credibility to an online education, as Coursera also provides a Signature Track program that verifies the student’s identity, achievements, and exams.

Living without Food

5 Jul

In an attempt to address the nutritional needs of potentially billions of people, a software engineer, originally trying to further simplify a raman noodle meal, developed a powdered food product.


Just like BioCurious who wants to create a Glow-In-The-Dark plant, Rob Rhinehart resorted to crowdsourcing for funding. Where BioCurious needed $65,000 and raised over $480,000, Rob needed $100,000 and got over $750,000. (See Genetic Modification Gone Haywire)

Rhinehart said it only took a bit of research and elementary chemistry to create the first batch of the mixture, which he has tweaked over time. He has been living exclusively on Soylent for about five months now and said he has never felt better in his life. His bloodwork is excellent, he is maintaining a healthy weight for his height, and he has plenty of energy. He even runs frequently.

A recent report estimates that over 50% of the world’s food goes to waste, so this may offer hope. The current Soylent V.8 ingredient list can be found HERE.


Lyme disease – Not Straightforward Answers

3 Jul

Lyme disease is caused from a spirochete transmitted by a deer tick, usually in the NorthEast US. The treatment and detection is under a great deal of debate between the mainstream healthcare providers and patients who appear to be chronic.

Legislation in Maine is being proposed to require the state to offer up “alternatives” for the treatment of Lyme disease. These “alternatives” are solutions that patients have found successful, yet are not recognized by mainstream professionals, who officially claim that Lyme disease is not a chronic disease. The Mayo Clinic says that treatment can be achieved in no later than 28 days. Patients claim to be dealing with the disease for years.

The cause of Lyme disease, being a spirochete, shares similarities with Syphilis. The spirochete can bore through tissue and has some very insidious behaviors. As with syphilis, this spirochete can make its way into the brain, and is sometimes linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

“Another unique feature to Borrelia burgdorferi are Blebs. This bacteria replicates specific genes, and inserts them into its own cell wall, and then pinches off that part of its cell membrane, and sends the bleb into the host. Why it does this we don’t know.”

Not far away from the patients is the cost of the treatment. As it is officially “easy” to treat, insurance coverage beyond an initial treatment is rare. Patients on long term treatment can spend hundreds of thousands, and now find that the antibiotic, Doxycyclin is in short supply.

Here you have a case of the patients, like Sally Jordan (above) pitted against the American Lyme Disease Foundation, ALDF. Good luck Sally!

Not So OTA – AEREO, A New Model

2 Jul

So if you’d like to cut the cord of your cable company and go Over The Air (OTA), there may soon be another option, beyond putting up rabbit ears.

Aereo is a new company who recently moved into Chicago after facing some legal battles against the national broadcast networks.

They have a very unique technology where they are able to transmit local broadcast signals over the internet. In Chicago (any local markets), they use individual antennas to pick up the OTA channels, and allow customers on the internet to select which antenna (local channel) they want to receive. The local programming is provided live, over the internet with the help of a specially designed antenna at the customer’s end. The only fee paid to watch the local channels is paid to Aereo.

“Aereo and Barry Diller, the billionaire investor who sits on Aereo’s board, say they’re taking the risks and going to all this trouble because they’re betting consumers are tired of paying $150 a month on cable bundles, especially when most people only watch a fraction of the channels.”

There may be some staying power for this technology, even in the event that the national networks stop broadcasting OTA signals. New networks could pick up the local transmitters and start their own broadcast networks, with the help of the Aereo technology.

It is not highly unlikely that you will be able to eliminate commercials from this new internet technology. For this reason, I do not see this technology ever losing in court. The broadcast networks actually have a case for their advertisers that they are reaching an even bigger audience, and an audience (unlike OTA viewers with computers) that cannot avoid the commercials.

Reconstructing DNA 1Ma Possible

30 Jun

In Canada, DNA that was buried 7,000 centuries ago has been unearthed and reconstructed. The horse bone was protected by permafrost and found in the Yukon. The technique increased the previous limit by a factor of 10. It now may be possible to reconstruct the DNA of mammals that lived 700,000 years ago. 1 Ma represents one million years ago.

Before this work, the oldest genome that had been recovered was that of a Denisovan human who lived 70,000 years ago. The new finding, if accepted, would extend by tenfold the reach of paleogenomics, the study of ancient genomes reconstructed from fossil bones.

DNA has a half-life of 521 years. There is no hope for reconstructing dinosaurs as they went extinct 65Ma. There remains the ability to clone some of the earliest anatomically modern humans, which began 100,000-200,000 (1-2ka) years ago or even easier, Neanderthals found 50,000 years ago in Europe. Of course, we may already have a little Neanderthal in us already.