Honeybees trained to sniff out cancer

Bees are probably one of the most acceptable insects on earth. Without them, who knows what the world would be like. They’re also really cute… It’s a shame we treat them the way we treat ourselves.

Recently there has been an article going around where honeybees are trained to sniff out cancer. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/11/25/honeybees-trained-to-sniff-out-cancer/

Honey bees are known for their great sense of smell. They don’t have noses but their feet, tongues, and antennae are filled with olfactory glands.

The article reads:

Portuguese scientist Susana Soares has invented a two-chambered glass dome that uses bees to snuff out cancer.

“The glass objects have two enclosures: a smaller chamber that serves as the diagnostic space and a bigger chamber where previously trained bees are kept for the short period of time necessary for them to detect general health,” Soares wrote on her website. “People exhale into the smaller chamber, and the bees rush into it if they detect on the breath the odor that they were trained to target.”

The bees are trained by exposing them to odor molecules produced by illnesses and are rewarded with sweats when they identify it. There is still a lot of testing to be done before this device could go public. If it’s proven to be accurate then it could be an inexpensive way to detect early stages of cancer and other illnesses.

How would you feel about putting your mouth on this thing?

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Organic vs. Non-organic

After we talked about the organic and non-organic food in class, I started wondering what were the merits of each. To start off, I wanted to get a better definition on what organic actually meant. The term organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Well okay then, but what does that exactly mean? For crops, this means that they must be grown in sage soil, have no modifications, and must remain separate from conventional products. Farmers can’t use synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (so plants that have had their DNA altered), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers. For livestock, they must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They can’t be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal-by-products. That all sounds great! What are some other benefits of organic? Well organic food is often fresher, the farming is better for the environment, and produce and animals have less toxic materials in them.

            There has to be some good to non-organic food though. After doing some more research, I did find a few perks to buying non-organic products. Non-organic food is often cheaper than organic because farming and growing methods yield more food per acre. There isn’t much loss from insects and the shelf life is longer also. Organic farming might be less harmful to the environment, but it takes up more space. Because non-organic yields more per acre, it reduces the amount of land needed to grow. Overall, there aren’t as many reasons to buy non-organic as there is to buy organic but it is something to think about in the future. Image

Bees!

The bees…. my heart is open wide for these little buzzers now- they can make their hive in my chest and fill me up with honey ’til I die, those little helpless jerks.

 

After seeing so much information about the bees, I have such a larger appreciation for not just the bees, but our entire ecosystem as a whole.

 

(Source: http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/bees.htm )

 

I do have a problem, though. Now that I know exactly what the disappearance of the bees is all about, it made me wonder- was this topic as exposed as people thought it was? I know that in this particular documentary, they made a note to talk about all of the media that has been created to help bring awareness to this issue surrounding the bees. But to be honest, when I saw all of that, I never really was INFORMED. Before now, all of that ‘media enrichment’ just left me with the idea that bees were dying and we had no idea why. But the answer is obvious! The bees shouldn’t be the topic of so much media exposure- it should be about the pesticides. Or at least include them just a little bit more. While bees are furry and cute and wonderful, serving for a great marketing device, I feel like it never went much deeper than that. I feel foolish for never seeking out more information on this subject on my own after countless movies, commercials, and campaigns about the bees. I never really knew anything about it! I never knew that all the food I was eating was just as close to the problem as the bees that were animated so cutely to get my attention to just tell me ‘WE’RE DYING’ and thats all. Now that I’m aware, though, I’m much more concerned with how little this country cares about the issue -or the big business, anyway- the little people aside.

 

France had taken the steps to bring this issue to light, protest, illegalize the EXACT pesticides that we use, and get RESULTS. And after having this evidence, we still won’t even /try/ to use this practice. It’s a horrible shame that this is being pushed under the carpet in favor of the awful practices we have in place. The more that I learn about the way things are being produced in this county, the more it feels like a sin to even go to a major grocery store. While I knew that it was an issue in the past, now I just feel sick knowing how many things really /are/ wrong with what I’m buying and eating. In hope for a better tomorrow, I know that I plan on doing my fair share to feed myself better, and make sure I’m not hurting any bees in the process. Maybe one day I’ll get into beekeeping too… maybe.

A Difference In Taste

In the end, people want to eat food that tastes good. Everyone has a different definition of what “tastes good”, of course, and it might mean putting ketchup in your mashed potatoes or downing sauerkraut at an alarming rate. However, there are a few things that are universal as far as creating the best taste is concerned. The freshness, preparation, and execution of a dish are all vital to an enjoyable eating experience. Even so, every dish starts with the ingredients. Over-seasoning a low-quality product to give it the illusion of taste is equivalent to putting make-up on a pig. In my opinion, the best dishes are the simple ones, where the meats and veggies aren’t overwhelmed by a lot of spices and sauce.

No one knows that better than Jiro Ono, who prepares sushi for world-class guests and starred in his own documentary, “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” In the documentary, he laments that fish quality has gone down drastically in recent years, and has even taken items off of his own menu because good product was impossible to find. Even a world class sushi chef, one that strives for perfection and owns a three Michelin star restaurant, can’t put fish back in the ocean. Because of bottom-trawling and overfishing, more people than ever before are able to find fish everywhere at a low cost–but the price is taste.

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In the documentary, a huge fish market is depicted as the cornerstone of good taste. The sellers that Jiro deals with don’t just pawn off any fish they catch in the ocean. They only select the best and highest-quality product, and if there’s nothing that matches their standards, they don’t sell anything at all. Unfortunately, such product has become rarer and rarer. Soon, even more items will have to be stripped from the menu, and then nobody can enjoy fish in its purest form. All of the economical and ecological impacts of this aside, doesn’t everyone want what they eat to be delicious? And if you don’t, maybe it’s something that you should consider.

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bees!

Since the mid 2000s, honey bees have been mysteriously disappearing all throughout the world, leaving the future of much of the world’s food supply in question. The decline of bees could have an enormous impact on the environment, which is dependent on the insects for pollination. If there is no pollinating insect life, fruits, vegetables, and field crops would be obsolete and there would be extreme economical hardships for the farm and food industry.  We can do our part by planting a bee friendly garden or even start a honey hive bee as they are  responsible for pollinating more than 100 crops, from apples to zucchini, have been dying by the tens of millions.  For example, California harvests more than 80% of the world’s almonds. But you can’t grow the nut without honey bees and it takes 60% of the US’s remaining colonies just to pollinate that one $4 billion cash crop. If this carries on, there will be no more bees to pollinate our crops and we will face a global crisi

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Fish farming on a global scale!

I believe fish farming is the answer to the increasing global demand of fishes but it has to be properly guided, not only it will only help feed an expanding global population, but also play a role in healing marine ecosystems battered by over fishing. Sustainable fish farming will also require a fundamental change in public attitudes,includes a willingness to prioritize fish that are lower on the food chain, such as shellfish and tilapia.The need for more sustainable fish farming is critical  and is on target to exceed half in the next decade, yet there are no widely accepted standards for what constitutes “good” fish farming. This points to a greater role for aquaculture certification and standards in the coming years, Halweil says. Efforts currently under way seek to model the effective labeling systems that exist in other areas of agriculture, such as for wild-caught fish, heritage breeds of livestock, and organic and local foods.

 

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Going Green

Over the last few years “Being Green” has risen in popularity considerably. Whether or not it’s changing your light bulbs to more energy efficient ones or it’s cutting out all of the chemically treated meats from you diet and only buying organic, the consumer market loves the idea of this healthy lifestyle, many for different reasons of course. For some the appeal of organic, healthier eating leading to longer lives and less health problems is worth the sacrifice of high processed snacks and for others it’s just following another fad. Either way you look at it this health food revolution can be such a great thing for consumers around the world.

Everywhere food companies have been creating healthier more natural versions of their popular products to follow this health craze. But unfortunately as you could imagine there are those companies that seek to take advantage of this. They label their food as natural while their products still contain growth hormones and pesticides. And that is where the difference between organic and natural comes from. While food labeled as organic is heavily regulated, anything labeled as natural can contain any number of potentially unhealthy chemicals, but this also means that farmers are able to treat their animals with antibiotics and medicines when they become sick while organic farms cannot.

So as this “going green” phase continues I think it’s very important that consumers are well educated about the choices available so greedy big name companies don’t take advantage of them. There are organic farms everywhere that have been creating good, natural food for decades and they need to be at the forefront of this movement so hopefully these companies will give them the recognition deserve.

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Fish Farming in America

In America, fish farming usually considered neutrally or sometimes negatively responses. Majority of food comes from large farms. It does take so much convincing for Americans to like farming fish.

It is believe that one of the reasons is because there are not too many fish farms in North America. North America only produces about 2% of the world’s aquaculture. Instead, in China or Thailand, fish farming facilities are everywhere. A lot of fish farms in developing countries are small and the fish do not have good living conditions.

America needs more fish farms, many Americans view fish farming facilities as eyesores and a negative change, however it really like all the other agriculture, with proper managements and controls, Americans can produce high quality farm fish.

However, it is after all not a simple question, for example should we consider wild-caught fish to be sustainable, when many fish populations are heavily over exploited? Should we avoid eating farmed shrimps since shrimp farmers use sophisticated techniques to clean the water, reduce farm effluents and control diseases?

Americans must know more about how their food is manufactured and which method is the most sustainable. Most of the time, it is even very hard to determine if the food you eat in the restaurant are from farms or not. After all, Americans need to gain more information about the products they buy in the market, until then, they could decide if farmed fish is really accepted by most Americans.

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Genetically Modified Food

The term Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) can be defined as food that is created for human or animal consumption using the latest molecular biology techniques. The sauce of the food (animals or plants) have been modified in the laboratory to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content.  There is also a term called “Genetic Engineering”, it can create plants with the exact desired trait very rapidly and with great accuracy.

Some advantages of GM food  are pest resistance, herbicide tolerance, disease resistance, cold tolerance and nutritious. Some of the disadvantages are Unintended harm to other organisms, reduced effectiveness of pesticides, gene transfer to non target species and cause human allergenicity . The effects on human is still unknown, but there is a growing concern that introducing foreign genes into food plants may have an unexpected and negative impact on human health.

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Japanese Dolphin Slaughtering

The picturesque Japanese fishing viliage of Taiji has become notorious in recent years for its annual dolphin hunt. Approximately 2,500 dolphins and other small cetaceans are killed in the coastal waters between September and April

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Using a technique called drive fishing, hunters in a line of motorized boats create noises in the water by banging on metal poles lowered into the water; the poles have bell-shaped devices at one end to amplify the sound. The dolphins who rely on sonar to navigate, are immediately disoriented and terrified and swim frantically to shore to escape the noise. There they are corralled into a small cove and trapped overnight by nets; at sunrise the next morning they are herded into an adjacent killing cove, where they are stabbed to death by hunters using harpoons, fish hooks and knives.

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Those injured or exhausted dolphins simply drown. Fishermen drag still-living dolphins onto boats with hooks and harpoons or tie them to boats by the tail, forcing their airholes under water. The dolphins or whales are hauled by truck or dragged over concrete roads by their tails  to a nearby warehouse for butchering; those who are still alive are stabbed again and left to die of their injuries or bleed to death, some even drown in their own blood.

The killing of dolphins is often witnessed by representative of Japanese is often witnessed sometimes even assisted by representatives of Japanese dolphinariums, including trainers and veterianarians. The dolphinarims attend the hunts to buy showable d0lphins for their own use or for sale to amusement parks in other parts of Asia and Europe. The hunters make significant sums of money from these sales; a single dolphin can fetch more than $150,000.

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