Finding an End To The Aging Problem

Scott Wainer over at recently wrote a post about extending our life expectancy.

Modern medicine has solved so many of our illnesses and diseases, it seems that the last one to conquer is “early” death.

How exactly would this be accomplished? I’m not talking about anti-oxidants and oitments that just make you look younger. But actually improvements that would make you live much longer. Say to 200 or so.

I support this idea, but only because I don’t think it can be done. But as a science student myself, I know there is going to be a demand for jobs over the next few years with kids graduating with medical science degrees, and I see this as a way to put them to work

As well, why would you really want to live to 200? Unless the whole process is slowed down and the last 100 years aren’t spent in an old age home.

Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Research

I came across this article on Popular Science: Another Major Stem Cell Advance

To summarize: In the U.S. in order to do any research on embryonic stem cells, the Bush administration has required that the orignal embryos  suffer no harm. Up until now this has been impossible, but scientists at Advanced Cell Technology announced yesterday that they developed five human embryonic stem cell lines without destroying the original embryos.

Does this really meet the ethical guidelines though? The motive for them is to prevent the death of the embryo (yes, I believe it is actually a living human, and therefore they are killed) ? What happened to these embryos after Advanced Cell Technology created these stem cells? Where they allowed to develop into fetuses? Obviously these are concepts that combine the disciplines of theology, philosophy, science and morality. (Weren’t all those fields already all mixed up anyways?)

I’m excited for research like this because I see all the benefits it will have for us. However, I’m first and foremost pro-life and I value all human life and want to see medical results where no one is harmed.

New Organic Restaurant

This afternoon I went for lunch at a newly opened “fastfood” restaurant in the North End of London: Ozone.

Its billed as a 100% organic restuarant that uses only locally produced organic ingredients. My first reaction to the place: they’re trying to hard to make sure everyone knows they’re organic.

When I first walked in, the owner told me all about how all the packaging was not made of plastics, but rather canola. Ok, thats cool, no harm to the environment right. I ordered my food, and even though I’m eating in, the put it in a cardboard hamburger box. This makes no sense to me, if your trying to be environmentally concious, why bother with the packaging at all. I didn’t really need it, and it just went into the recycling when I was done with it anyways.

So I was annoyed by the “waste” of packaging, as well as the exorbitant cost.  I had a grilled veggie wrap about 6 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, and 250 ml of chocolate milk. The cost? $9.20. The prices will have to change before I decide to eat there again. I’m all for organic food, but I know that it does not have to be that expensive.

There were a bunch more things about that place that I thought were strange.  Perhaps I’ll write a longer review and post that.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Part 2

Sorry this was delayed but my internet service has been down all weekend

Previously I talked about the need for third party monitors on GMO crops. In this post I’m going to look in a little more depth about what that would mean. For the most part I don’t like groups like Greenpeace and other militant environmentalists, but I must agree with their tactics regarding GMOs.

Europeans have the most stringent guidelines for the labelling of GM foods. Any product with any amount of genetic engineering must be labelled as such. When Europeans discovered a batch of soy travelling to Europe had been intentionally mixed with GM soy they became enraged. Civil disobedience against Monsanto, a major biotechnology company involved in many GMO foods, was rampant across the continent and the UK.

Both Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth were involved in blocking shipments and organizing supermarket boycotts. Because of their actions the soy was not used unknowingly in non-GMO labelled foods.

In the end though it was the private citizen who really got things accomplished. By standing up to big companies and letting their voices be heard private citizens can impact change. Ultimately North Americans must realise that neither corporations nor governments are looking out for the consumer, we are nothing more then potential customers and therefore potential profits. Getting informed and making your opinion heard is the only way to ensure what’s good for you is getting done. No one is going to do it for you.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Part 1

The idea of whom the public should look to for protection, I’m not talking about physical but consumer protection, has been on my mind lately. This might have something to do with my studying for philosophy of biology and the readings from “From Naked Ape to Superspecies” by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel on the impact of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). When I talk about products in this post I’m focusing on food.

I don’t want to get into a discussion on the merits or disadvantages of GMOs, mostly because I don’t completely know what to make of them myself. What I do know is that trusting any company that seeks to make a profit to have my best interests at heart will not work. The bottom line motivates all decisions a corporation makes. Despite the implications to my own heath if a product makes money it will be forced on the market. You can call this what you want, even the inherent problems of capitalism.

However the consumer must be made aware of the risk associated with any product and therefore we require, and have the right to a regulatory body to oversee the introduction of new products. The manufacture cannot be trusted to give an honest assessment and often the government is swayed by their own potential profits in these deals.

A third party organization is the only viable third option. They can avoid the profit motivation and focus entirely on fair judgment of a product. This is not to say that they don’t have their own agenda, it just isn’t going to potentially harm me. In my next post I’m going to look at what such an organization might look like and accomplish.

Wrapping Up

So classes are winding down at school and its amazing how fast the second semester seems to go compared to the first. I feel like I just started most of these classes but here they are all ending.

Today I’m handing in a term paper for my philosophy of biology classes. The topic I chose was evolutionary origin theory, basically how life began. I presented the case that theories like that are not science, as per the definitions philosophers of science like Karl Popper and Michael Ruse present. I’m pretty proud of the paper and if anyone wants to read it let me know.

Also having checked my stats on this blog I see that two people subscribe to the RSS feed. I’d be curious to know who they are….

I don’t Feel Like Dancing

Off the top of my head, I think I have at least 6 different blogs. All of which get updated somewhat regularly. So everyone who was wondering where I had disapeared to over at blogspot, I was just hiding in some other corner of the internet.

I’m working on so much stuff right now its crazy. A paper for the philosophy of biology on what is science and is evolutionary explanations for the origins of life a scientific theory. In advanced environmental plant physiology I’m writing on Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden. Debating whether or not he was the first environmentalist and what he would think about the Kyoto accord. Finally I’ve got a logic assignment due next Thursday. So what am I doing? Wasting time on the internet

Oh and exams start in like a week and a half