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Showing posts from December, 2017

Biotech Fights Peanut Carcinogen

Aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen.  It is produced by a fungus that grows readily on corn and peanuts, known in the Developing World as 'groundnuts' (which makes more sense IMHO).  Billions of people suffer from chronic exposure. Dr. Dilip Shah was part of a team at the Danforth Center that created solutions to solve this problem.  On this week's podcast we talk about those solutions, and how they may lead to better health around the world.

"Expert" Commentary on a Paper They Didn't Read

The story of canola oil causing dementia and memory issues seems like old news.  But I received an email that it has popped up again in the wacky press, another alleged expert weighing in on this obvious relationship that actually is not even remotely supported by the data in the paper.  These cases are especially egregious because these health-oriented websites get huge traffic, and lousy information is consumed rapidly and shared widely. 



The claim emerges again, but this time with a new twist! 

The author, Michelle Schoffro Cook didn't even read the paper, but is happy to lend her opinions that further advance this misinformation, along with a dandy of a tangential spin.  How do I know she didn't read it?  She notes in her analysis that it was published in the journal Nature.  It was not.  Nature wouldn't touch this paper with a 10 impact factor pole. 
It is not a bad paper.  It is not a good paper.   I would not have done the experiments that way, but the authors reported…

Food Activists Stop Technology from Serving the Poor

This is an article that appeared in Real Clear Science, and details the emotional hardship of seeing a problem and a solution separated by a barbed-wire fence.


To the Easily Offended,. Lighten Up.

In the news, the CDC was apparently told to not use seven words/terms in its internal documents. I've seen other examples like this, as in my state where the Governor does not allow the terms "global warming," "climate change," or "sea-level rise" in official documents. 
So on a Saturday morning the creative juices are flowing and I made a funny list of alternatives. Yes, it is funny.  "Humor arrr arrr," as Mork would say.

But it is 2017 (still, please make it stop) and with every harmless, funny intention comes the outrage. 

Turns out that some small gaggle of folks find the term "Mansition" a slam to the transgender community. 




First, I have a lot of empathy for transgender people.  Not only do I recognize the challenges of having an identity that is traditionally forced into one box or the other, I also understand its personal and damaging implications of surviving in an intolerant world.  I stand up for this community as I understa…

TB113 - The Tragic Story of Nikolai Vavilov; Science Moms Documentary

Can politics shape science into disrepair?  Can government decisions harm people and long-term progress?  These questions were answered in the tragic story of Nikolai Vavilov.  The story is told by Dr. Jules Janick, Emeritus Professor from Purdue University.  In the second half the film "Science Moms" is discussed with Natalie Newell.  The complete episode can be found here, or anywhere you consume podcast media!

How the Media Gets It Wrong - Case Study in Canola Oil and Alzheimer's

The manufactured hyperbolic connection between canola oil and Alzheimer's Disease is a perfect example of how a grain of research is extrapolated to wild new proportions. 
Read the story here on Genetic Literacy Project

Explaining the Dicamba Story

The herbicide dicamba has been implicated in substantial off-target movement and crop losses.  But what is the whole story?   I wrote this article for Real Clear Science with Cameron English.

No Evidence that Canola Oil Causes Dimentia and Alzheimer's Disease

I posted this article over on Medium.  It shows how a set of experiments in mice prone to Alzheimer's like brain pathology were wildly misinterpreted to create a sensational headline that the media promoted everywhere. 

Canola Oil is Not Causing Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Misinterpretation of Science Extrapolates a Bogus Claim The headlines are remarkably clear — if you eat canola oil, you’ll soon not remember that you ate canola oil. The media exploded with their interpretation of a peer-reviewed scientific report in the cleverly named journal Scientific Reports. The spate of internet articles from any Google search indicates the link between canola oil and leaky mental gaskets is as clear as canola oil.
The news is pretty damn certain this stuff is brain poison! The scientific paper has a rather different view.
But wait, canola oil has been touted as a healthy oil with a composition similar to olive oil. How can this be true in light of the new findings? The answer is pretty simple. The news media took the liberty of overstepping the data actually presented in the scientific report in Scientific Reports. What did the paper actually say? First, what is canola oil? Like all things Canadian it is a friendly version of something else, in this case vegetab…

What's Up With Dicamba?

Problems caused by off-target migration of dicamba herbicide have created great divides across agriculture. Between companies denying culpability to farmers damaged and academics in between, the situation has horrible optics for agriculture.  Those looking in see unintended consequences, uncertainty, and all of their worst nightmares coming true.  The effect will be slower registration of future (desperately needed) herbicides and other farm inputs, and perhaps increased skepticism of claims about the safety of modern agriculture.

To add clarity to the situation we discussed what is happening with agronomist Karen Corigan.  This week's podcast. \