Insight News

Saturday
Nov 01st

Health

Genetically modified foods

Genetically modified foodsDear EarthTalk: As far as I know, genetically modified foods are not required to be labeled so. Why is this? Don’t we have a right to know what our food is made of? -- Rebecca Webster, via e-mail

Unbeknownst to most Americans, a majority of the processed foods available in grocery stores today are derived from genetically modified (GM) sources—whereby genes have been taken from one species and insert into another to obtain specific traits or characteristics. Given how new GM technology is—scientists first began tinkering with it in the 1970s but only recently began utilizing it on a wide scale across the food sector—the jury is still out as to whether such products can cause health or environmental problems.
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Privatizing water resources

Privatizing water resourcesDear EarthTalk: Is it true that some countries have turned over public water supplies to private companies, effectively denying local communities much-needed access? -- J. Johnson, Lancaster, PA

Water is such an important part of life that it has long been regarded as a public good worth entrusting only to public entities. But given the mixed track record of municipal, regional and national governments to properly manage water resources, outsourcing to private companies is becoming more common. But critics of such privatization point out that the end result for consumers is not always so positive.
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The worldwide plant extinction crisis

The worldwide plant extinction crisisDear EarthTalk: When we talk about “endangered species” we usually think of animal species, but someone recently told me that there was a worldwide crisis pertaining to the extinction of plants. Can you enlighten? -- Max Blanchard, East Islip, NY

We may not realize it, but the health of the plant kingdom is crucial to the health of the planet and the animal life (which includes humans) it supports. “Through photosynthesis, plants provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat and are thus the foundation of most life on Earth,” reports the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based nonprofit dedicated to securing the future for endangered plants and animals throughout the world.
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Harnessing volcanic energy

Harnessing volcanic energyDear EarthTalk: Is there any way to harness volcanic energy to meet our electricity and other power needs? -- Antonio Lopez, Chino, CA

The short answer is yes: Heat generated by underground volcanic activity can and has been harnessed for electricity for over 100 years around the world. Utilities can capture the steam from underground water heated by magma and use it to drive the turbines in geothermal power plants to produce significant amounts of electricity. Getting at the sources is not so easy or cheap, though, as it requires drilling into unstable sections of the Earth’s crust and then harnessing the heat energy miles below the surface.
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U of M nets $7 million to create center to combat childhood obesity

Center will work with parents of low-income families to improve nutrition, lifestyle

University of Minnesota School of Public Health and HealthPartners Research Foundation researchers have been awarded a $7 million federally-funded grant to tackle childhood obesity in a unique three pronged approach that focuses on parents of preschool children.

The seven-year grant, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will support the creation of a Childhood Obesity Center within the U of M where parental influence is paramount. Researchers will combine primary care, a child’s home environment and community-based intervention strategies into a program that aims to spark changes in food intake, physical activity and body weight among low-income, ethnically diverse children.
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Gabrielle Union attends 20th Annual Susan G. Komen New York City Race for the Cure

Gabrielle Union attends 20th Annual Susan G. Komen New York City Race for the CureActress Gabrielle Union joined 24,000 participants, including 1,600 breast cancer survivors, at the 20th annual Susan G. Komen New York City Race for the Cure in Central Park.

Union, who advocates for breast cancer awareness in memory of a friend who recently died from the disease, presented the Co-Survivor Award to Bert Paolucci who has supported his wife and mother-in-law during their battles with the disease.
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Summit Academy OIC hosts Community Health Fair Open House for low income community residents

Students from Summit Academy OIC, located at 935 Olson Memorial Highway, in Minneapolis are hosting a Community Health Fair Friday, October 15, 1 – 3 pm to educate low-income community residents and minorities about a variety of health issues including diabetes, heart disease, low birth weight prevention, sexually transmitted diseases and obesity.
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