Vermont study paints nuanced picture of GMO labeling effects

Some colorful cereal. I had never tasted these until a friend of my son's came for a sleepover and brought these along because they don't have any wheat in them. Anyone venture to guess what kind they are?

Does your favorite cereal include GMO ingredients?

Labeling may actually reduce opposition to GMOs among some demographic groups

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new Vermont study suggests that consumers don’t necessarily see GMO lables on food as a negative warning. In some cases, such labels may actually increase consumer confidence, the researchers said after analyzing five years worth of data.

A new study released just days after the U.S. House passed a bill that would prevent states from requiring labels on genetically modified foods reveals that GMO labeling would not act as warning labels and scare consumers away from buying products with GMO ingredients.

The statewide survey was focused on two key questions: whether Vermonters are opposed to GMO’s in commercially available food products; and if respondents thought products containing GMO’s should be labeled. Continue reading

Climate: CO2 hinders plants’ nitrogen uptake

Wheat field in Upper Austria

Wheat ripens under a summer sun. @bberwyn photo.

Study suggests that greenhouse gas pollution will have a fundamental impact on plant-nutrient cycles and food production

Staff Report

FRISCO — Increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide is hindering some plants from absorbing nitrogen, the nutrient governing crop growth in most terrestrial ecosystems.

Concentrations of nitrogen in plant tissue is lower in air with high levels of carbon dioxide, regardless of whether or not the plants’ growth is stimulated, University of Gothenburg (Sweden) researchers found in a new study, published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The study examined various types of ecosystems, including crops, grasslands and forests, and involves large-scale field experiments conducted in eight countries on four continents. Continue reading

Eco groups push for sustainable diet guidelines

A classic Greek salad in Corfu.

Less meat, more vegetables!

Feds eye update to key food guidelines

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation activists say that a recent round of comments and petitioning by the public show growing support for a more sustainable federal dietary guidelines, with a shift toward more plant-based food.

At issue is a proposal by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to update those guidelines based on the recommendations of a science committee that recommended the changes. Continue reading

Study shows links between prenatal exposure to air pollution and behavioral disorders

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More proof that air pollution is bad for children (and other living things). Photo via the Creative Commons.

Long-term research tracks structural brain changes in young children exposed to PAHs

Staff Report

FRISCO — Prenatal exposure to common pollutants from auto emissions, power plants and other sources may be a big factor in the rising tide of behavioral disorders in children, researchers say.

After tracking 40 children from before birth until 7 to 9 years of age, the researchers say they found a powerful link between exposure to PAHs and disturbances in parts of the brain that support information processing and behavioral control.  Continue reading

Advisory panel eyes shift to more sustainable diet in U.S.

‘Sustainability has to be core to dietary guidelines’

Spicy cashew-nut salad. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Can federal guidelines help Americans choose a healthier diet?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Guided by an advisory panel, federal health experts last week set the stage to nudge American consumers toward a more sustainable diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lighter on animal-based foods.

In the long-term, the changes would improve individual health and result in a smaller environmental footprint, according to panel, which submitted its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new scientific report spelled out the fundamental realities of diet and health. About half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese, patterns that have persisted for more than 20 years. Continue reading

No surprise: Global warming speeds up tick season

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Warmer global temperatures will have a big effect on the spread of insect-carried pathogens.

‘If this persists, we will need to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month from May to April …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Disease-carrying ticks in the northeastern U.S. are moving up in elevation and farther north, raising concerns about the spread of Lyme disease and other pathogens, according to a comprehensive field study on how environmental conditions influence vector-borne disease risk. Continue reading

Global warming speeds spread of infectious diseases

Shifting climate brings new exposure risks

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Climate change will shift the world’s disease zones.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to hasten the spread of infectious diseases to new geographic areas and new host species, scientists warned in a recent study, urging health experts to think ahead as they consider the effects of various pathogens on plants, animals and humans.

“We have to admit we’re not winning the war against emerging diseases,” said Daniel Brooks, a zoologist with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We’re not anticipating them. We’re not paying attention to their basic biology, where they might come from and the potential for new pathogens to be introduced.” Continue reading

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