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Food for thought: Russia joins the battle over GM products

On July 1, the city of Moscow will introduce a voluntary system of food labels indicating that a product does not contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

Europe has recently been engaged in a battle with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which, taking its cue from the United States, Canada and Argentina, considers the European Union's moratorium on GM products illegal. Meanwhile, Europeans have been collecting signatures and protesting against GM foods. In the United States, a lawsuit was filed against the Department of Agriculture after it legalized the commercial production of genetically modified alfalfa sprouts. The court found the agency's actions illegal. All these events, which involve environmental, agricultural, social and political issues, unfolded during the month of February, highlighting the high profile taken on by the GM controversy. Nevertheless, it would be naive to expect the world to adopt a unified stance on the issue.


Peanut Butter Recalls Spread to Ice Cream & Desserts

The Food and Drug Administration reports that its inspectors have found salmonella samples at ConAgra's Georgia plant and, as the investigation of salmonella-tainted peanut butter widens, the recall has spread to ice cream manufacturers and a wholesale retailer of a peanut butter dessert topping.


HPV vaccine maker, Merck, gave $50K to GOP and Gov. Perry

Austin - The maker of an anti-cancer vaccine that Gov. Rick Perry mandated for Texas schoolgirls contributed $50,000 to a GOP fundraiser chaired by the governor, but a spokesman for the organization said Tuesday that the donation had nothing to do with Perry's controversial order.

Merck & Co. has contributed $50,000 a year for at least the past six years, said Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.


Man with 'extreme' TB may be jailed until death

A man infected with an especially virulent strain of tuberculosis has spent eight months in a hospital jail ward under a court order and may be held until he dies.

Robert Daniels has not been charged with a crime, but the 27-year-old violated the rules of a voluntary quarantine, exposing others to a potentially deadly illness. Maricopa County public health officials got a court order to keep him locked up.
The TB strain Daniels has is so dangerous that he has never met his appointed lawyer, Robert Blecher, who describes the situation as "extremely unusual."


Food and Your Moods

Are you an emotional basket case who can't get by without comfort food? If you had more strength, could you power through your problems without overeating? Should you feel ashamed of yourself for needing emotional sustenance from foods? No! I hope to help you understand why you are using food as self-medication. It's not because you are weak willed, it's because you're low in certain brain chemicals. You don't have enough of the brain chemicals that should naturally be making you emotionally strong and complete.


Warnings sought on kids' cold medicine

Washington - Government health officials said Friday they are reviewing whether popular medicines like Tylenol Plus Cold & Cough and Infant Triaminic Thin Strips are safe and effective in treating children's colds and coughs.

Disclosure of the ongoing review, which will take months to complete, came as critics charged that many over-the-counter cough and cold remedies can harm toddlers and preschoolers. Those critics, including public health officials and pediatricians, are pushing the government for stricter warnings to prevent life-threatening overdoses.

Magic Wand

Wishful Seeing: The Rich See What They Believe

People see what they believe, not vice versa, when it comes to social injustice.

And this mind-altering trick of perception keeps moral outrage at bay, especially among the rich, a new psychological study suggests.

By reducing outrage, this mental hoodwink also impedes social change because it inhibits people from taking action, allowing injustices to persist, said lead researcher Cheryl Wakslak of New York University.

Research has shown that people become emotionally distressed when confronted with inequality. The privileged minority is particularly affected, and they are likely to have a nagging worry that their cash and prizes are undeserved.

Light Sabers

Predisposition to Addiction Found in Cocaine Study

A new study shows that brain circuitry makes some people more susceptible to becoming addicts. Researchers found that a pocket near the top of the brain stem may be key in determining whether someone is likely to engage in compulsive behavior or become hooked on drugs like cocaine, which is currently abused by an estimated two million Americans. The finding could help prevent addiction by predicting those predisposed to such behavior and could also lead to new ways to treat it.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England report in this week's Science that a lower number of specific types of receptors that bind the neurotransmitter dopamine - a chemical central to the brain's reward system - in the front (or ventral) section of the striatum (a midbrain region implicated in planning and movement as well as executive function) correlates to increased impulsive behavior in rats. In addition, they found that the more impulsive animals, when given the option, consumed more cocaine than the calmer rats did.


10 things your hospital won't tell you

"Oops, wrong kidney."

In recent years, errors in treatment have become a serious problem for hospitals, ranging from operations on wrong body parts to medication mix-ups.

At least 1.5 million patients are harmed every year from being given the wrong drugs, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. That's an average of one person per U.S. hospital per day.

One reason these mistakes persist: Only 10% of hospitals are fully computerized and have a central database to track allergies and diagnoses, says Robert Wachter, the chief of medical service at UC San Francisco Medical Center.


CDC doctor opposes law for HPV vaccine - HPV is not a contagious disease like measles

The chairman of the federal panel that recommended the new cervical-cancer vaccine for pre-teen girls says lawmakers should not make the inoculation mandatory, as the District and more than 20 states, including Virginia, are considering.

No deaths have been confirmed, although a Pennsylvania family filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming a relative died from eating tainted peanut butter.