Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Genetic modification in foods

Genetically modified corn

   Recently, genetic modification is an evolved technique that involves production of foods under the means of genetic engineering. It is a method that constitutes a progress for the humanity, but also development and extension of the traditional breeding techniques. Commercial sale of genetically modified food began in 1994 and the majority of food modifications take place in crops such as soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oil. The main reason for food modification is the high efficiency and resistance to pathogens and herbicides. However, issues arise mainly due to food safety, regulation, labelling and environmental impacts. 

   It is useful to examine how genetic modification occurs. The plants that are genetically engineered are generated in a laboratory, where they are subjected in alteration of their genetic makeup and they are examined for desired qualities. The usual modification involves the addition of extra number of genes to a plant's genome. Once plants are produced in the laboratory, the producer requires an approval to field test them. Field testing involves plant cultivation, which if succesfull, then the crop can be grown and marketed. 

   Despite the potential benefits of genetic modifications, there are claims that support that quality can be affected. More specifically, it is believed that these foods can be potentially unsafe for human consumption and harmful for the environment. That's why a number of studies take place in order for any toxicity of genetically modified crops to be defined. A study that took place lately shows that genetic modification is toxic and unfit for animal and human consumption. Some reasons that blame GMO foods as non safe involve:

  • Birth defects in mammals
  • Failure in fruit production
  • Increase glyphosate levels linked to cancer
  • Poor disease resistance 
  • Poor financial returns for farmers


Monday, 16 March 2015

Types of agriculture in modern world

Sustainable Agriculture 

   Agriculture can be described as the cultivation of animals, plants and fungi and other life forms for the purpose of enhancing and sustaining the human life. Nowadays, agriculture depends largely on innovative techniques to expand and maintain lands that are suitable for raising domesticated species and for the development of farming. Therefore, modern farming supports industrial agriculture which involves large scale monoculture. However, this type of agriculture is characterized for the increased use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. The solution is sustainable agriculture, which encourages organic farming.

   To begin with, it is important to examine the features of industrial agriculture and to decide whether it is beneficial as it is assumed for the environment. One major feature of this type of agriculture is that large quantities of food can be potentially produced due to the various farming methods that exist. Production is driven by large machines that are characterised for being considerably powerful and working harder and faster. Despite the high efficiency in everyday operations, there are disadvantages associated with the mode of production. Firstly, the application of fossil fuels on industrial farms is a serious issue. Formation of fossil fuels includes various natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The main concern surrounding fossil fuels is that concentration of carbon dioxide rises in the atmosphere contributing to global warming. Therefore, global greenhouse gas emissions must be controlled. Another feature of industrial agriculture is that there is high application of chemical fertilisers to the soil for the purpose of increasing yield and plant size. On the one hand, pesticides increase yield by killing pests, but on the other hand the natural ecosystems are considerably damaged. Moreover, biodiversity, nitrogen fixation and pollinators are threatened to extinctions.  

 The second method of production that is encouraged is the sustainable mode of production. Sustainability is a process that targets the preservation of the environment without dependance on toxic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and genetically modified seeds. Sustainable agriculture aims the development and maintenance of of healthy ecosystems through techniques that don't alter the balance in the nature such as crop rotation, conservation tillage and pasture based livestock husbandry. In addition to this, animals are raised without dangerous practices such as use of non therapeutic antibiotics and arsenic based growth promoters. 

  To sum up, it is important that the natural sources would be maintained, otherwise quality would be affected seriously along with the local and regional economies. The most crucial in our days is the ability to remain economically viable and to promote health practices. 


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Fructose - Principal Driver of Type 2 Diabetes

    Recent studies have shown that addition of sugars containing fructose can be associated with higher possibility of cancer occurrence, even higher compared to the effect of carbohydrates. Nowadays, it is suggested that 25% of daily calories come from added sugars, however clinical experts try to encourage drastic reduction in the consumption of added sugars as serious health problems may arise such as Type 2 Diabetes.

    Diabetes is a condition in which the body causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. The most common form of diabetes is Type 2. This diabetes is characterised by the improper use of insulin. What actually happens is that pancreas produces higher amount of insulin than what is needed. Over production of insulin doesn t encourage blood glucose levels to be maintained at their normal levels. The consequences are severe and they involve damage of nerves, kidneys and heart which lead to atherosclerosis. Moreover, the buildup of sugar in the blood can cause an increase in the urination. 

  Worldwide, a significant number of adults suffers from Type 2 Diabetes and the number of individuals affected by the disease have doubled since 1980. According to a research that has been carried out, it has shown that added sugar consumption and particularly added fructose consumption is associated with a worsening epidemic of type 2 diabetes. The main health association with excess consumption of added fructose is the derangement of the overall metabolism and insulin resistance. 


How measurement of the brain can predict depression and anxiety

Brain Region: Amygdala

   To begin with, in everyone's life there are various challenges and obstacles, including divorce, death, illness and unemployment. The way that people respond to these situations is critical as those who are not able to cope with these conditions may suffer from anxiety and depression. It is interesting to be aware of the origin of psychological vulnerability of some people. 

     According to a study that was published this week, researchers from Duke University found that a specific region of the brain called amygdala, determines the mode of response to threats and stressful life events with anxiety or depression. When amygdala activity experiences an increased activity, then there is a possibility that these people would suffer from mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. 

  The scientific community can enable future research to take place considering what causes depression and anxiety, following this research. Identification of brain biomarkers can offer everyone the chance of diagnosing later occurrence of psychiatric conditions 


Monday, 26 January 2015

Genetically Modified Foods - Associated with Health Benefits

  According to various researchers, consumers start to appreciate and pay more attention to genetically modified crops, as they may be associated with health benefits that are important. A team of researchers from Ghent University developed genetically modified rice that can be enriched with pro-vitamin A and folate. Particularly, the rice, in which Vitamin A is incorporated, known as ''Golden Rice'' could positively affect people's health, by encouraging good vision, healthy immune system and cell growth. 
    Despite the potential benefits of ''Golden Rice'' and the fact that six major staple crops have been successfully biofortified with vitamins and minerals, the developers of transgenic biofortified crops can not proceed further as genetically modified organisms are not approved for cultivation. Scientific community try to encourage the consumption of such foods as they can offer a complementary and cost effective alternative, while other strategies are less feasible. 


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Arla Foods - New food Innovation

  Arla Foods, a cooperative dairy company, which is owned by 13.500 dairy farmers launched Arla Protein, that is high protein, low fat and ''super thick'' quark product. This product is available in raspberry, strawberry and blueberry variations and it contains 20 grams of protein. The aim of the company is to attract increasingly active and health conscious consumers. 

  A range of Arla Protein products are already marketed in Finland and they decided to enter the UK market recently, as dairy cooperative's aim to become a leading dairy brand in UK. Arla Foods UK is a company that is working on further innovative products and range extensions, in order for consumers to profit in terms of health. 


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Role of Oregano Essential Oil - Protection of Corn Crops from Fungal Infections


  Oregano (Origanum Vulgare) constitutes one of the most powerful and versatile oils. It contains strong immune-enhancing and antioxidant properties. Additionally, oregano can be used to enhance the flavour of the food, but also as an agent in massage applications. More particularly, oregano is the key oil that is involved in the Raindrop Technique, which targets electrical alignment in the body. 

  Fungicides can be controlled with the use of synthetic chemicals, however sometimes a greater amount of chemicals may be needed for efficient control of fungal growth. On the other hand, the main feature of essential oils is that small amount of them can offer a significant effect. Essential oils have a low toxicity to the animals and they don't remain in water or soil for long time. 

   According to the Journal of Food Science, the role of essential oils is crucial for the quality of corn crops. Essential oils such as Oregano oil can inhibit the growth of fungi, but also the formation of mycotoxins. Moreover, as an antifungal oregano oil offers protection to the body from internal and external infections. Therefore, healthy gut flora can be maintained and colon infections can be prevented. The main compound that is responsible for the beneficial action of Oregano is thymol, which is considerably effective towards fungal infections.