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The conflict between subsidized mainstream agriculture and organic farming

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The FDA isn't labeling GMO food a health risk. More than 60 countries representing 40 percent of the world's population require labeling of food and feed when GMOs reach certain thresholds. Screening for and quantifying GMOs is essential to the integrity of this labeling policy, according to news about a study on how researchers can tell whether any food contains GMO ingredients, " PLOS ONE study: Droplet Digital™ PCR works for GMO quantification."

Consumers usually choose locally grown foods over those grown in distant places, according to "Consumers choose locally grown and environmentally friendly apples." But can you believe that what's on the label is actually the same as what's in the food or supplement? A news release, "Restaurant and packaged foods can have more calories than nutrition labeling indicates" discusses food labeling issues.

With obesity rising markedly, reliance on the accuracy of food labeling is an important weight management strategy. Since people who are trying to reduce their weight are encouraged to choose meals labeled as "lower in calories" or "reduced-energy" in restaurants and supermarkets, it is essential that the listed data are accurate. In a study published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from Tufts University found that some commercially prepared foods contained more calories than indicated in nutritional labeling.

Measured energy values of 29 quick-serve and sit-down restaurant foods averaged 18% more calories than the stated values. Likewise, measured energy values of 10 frozen meals purchased from supermarkets averaged 8% more calories than stated on the label.

Is the food industry too 'hot' to handle because it's about following the money?

Industry will fight if income is lost. And people ask whether there is a health risk or not. If a label is required that points most shoppers to question whether there's a health risk involved. Seventy percent of the processed foods you find at most supermarkets and food stores contain at least one ingredient made or derived from GMOs, (genetically-modified organisms), according to the January 22, 2014 AP article by David Klepper, "States weighing labels on genetically altered food - The Big Story."

The figures come from the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. The industry-backed Grocery Manufacturers Association puts the number between 70 and 80 percent of foods containing some ingredient that's coming from GMOs. The big problem is the absence of regulation in many states, although a few states currently are considering regulation.

States adopt their own rules by passing Bills. Several months ago, a coalition of organic food producers, GMO critics and supporters in Congress wrote to President Barack Obama urging the FDA to require labeling. You also may wish to check out the site, "Food industry to fire preemptive GMO strike."

Biotechnology corporations and agricultural groups may oppose the proposals

You can look over the many proposals that keep coming into the forefront for consideration. But who opposes the proposals? It's the biotechnology companies and many agricultural groups.

The industry wants consumers to rally with them when they inform people to think that genetic engineering has yielded more sustainable, affordable and productive farming in every country. Business groups worry that labeling requirements would raise costs for food producers — and ultimately consumers — and raise unnecessary fears, says the article, "States weighing labels on genetically altered food - The Big Story."

The conflict is between mainstream agriculture and organic farming

The majority of crops for the masses are grown GMO. If someone gets sick, it's likely the person won't make any connection between whether the food was GMO or not or even in many cases connect food with health issues unless it's pointed out by experts the health and food connection.

There are voters in California and Washington rejecting ballot proposals in the past two years that would have required GMO labeling. Those who are against labeling bring up the possibility of a legal challenge.

Wait and see is what each state is doing

It looks like each state will wait and see whether any other states are going to pass laws that food producers fear, if the food producers are large and wealthy enough to fear loss of customers if they have to label products as GMO. The outcome points to Washington deciding whether a federal standard will be upheld or even introduced on how to label GMO foods and processed foods containing any ingredient derived from a GMO source.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), genetically engineered foods must meet the same requirements as traditional foods. At this time producers can volunteer to label items as GMO if they so desire.,

How will the manufacturers get around the GMO labeling issue?

In December 2013, the Grocery Manufacturers Association wrote to the FDA asking whether foods "derived from biotechnology" could be allowed to be labeled 'natural,' says the AP article, "States weighing labels on genetically altered food - The Big Story."

The outcome of such a possibility means that the generic and generally vague term now on a lot of labels that says natural flavors or natural coloring could refer to almost anything qualifying to be labeled natural, even if it's genetically modified. It still lives or grows from the earth as a GMO creature or plant. So it's natural in the dictionary definition of the word. A rock, a star, or a fungus also is natural.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association also represents Monsanto Company, McDonald's, Procter & Gamble and hundreds of other huge manufacturers of processed or packaged food products and meals such as commercial cereals not marked organic. Shoppers wonder why GMOs have been on the market for twenty years or more.

Your cereals and other products containing soy, corn, sugar or other items commonly used in a variety of foods are GMO unless marked organic or non-GMO on the label. Customers have been known to question ingredients derived from GMO products put into organic foods or juices. See news articles such as, "Naked Juice GMO class action settlement announced," and "PepsiCo to no longer call Naked juices 'natural' - USA Today."

Back in 2013, Whole Foods announced that it planned to label GMO products in all its U.S. and Canadian stores within five years. And General Mills recently announced it would no longer use GMOs in its original Cheerios recipe. But other Cheerios cereals still have GMOs at this time.

Changes in the past year apply only to original Cheerios. The company at this date is not purging genetic modification from the other flavors of Cheerios cereal such as Honey Nut and Apple Cinnamon. But as time passes, you might keep checking with news if and when those changes are spread across other versions of the cold cereal. Notice that Honey Nut and Apple Cinnamon both have a sweet taste. But original Cheerios don't taste as if those morsels have been sweetened with syrups, sugars, honey, or fruits.

You may wish to check out the article, "Are GMO-Free Cheerios the First Domino? - Forbes." Check out, "Product List GMO Foods." See, "General Mills' Cheerios Will Soon Be GMO-Free - Mercola." Or see, "General Mills: Original Cheerios are GMO free - Jan. 3, 2014." At least in Europe, there are numerous GMO labeling laws in many nations. For information, you may wish to check out the site, "Just Label It." Or see the YouTube video, "Just Label It."

Only 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation alleviates stress, say researchers

New research, "Brief mindfulness meditation training alters psychological and neuroendocrine responses to social evaluative stress," from Carnegie Mellon University is the first to show that brief mindfulness meditation practice – 25 minutes for three consecutive days – alleviates psychological stress. Published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, the study investigates how mindfulness meditation affects people's ability to be resilient under stress. Stress can raise cortisol levels, which in turn, could lead to more belly fat, or insulin resistance, but mindfulness may reduce too high cortisol levels.

Mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly popular way for people to improve their mental and physical health, yet most research supporting its benefits has focused on lengthy, weeks-long training programs. The question for readers interested in holistic health is whether mindfulness can become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity?

"More and more people report using meditation practices for stress reduction, but we know very little about how much you need to do for stress reduction and health benefits," said lead author J. David Creswell, according to the July 2, 2014 news release, "Only 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation alleviates stress." Creswell is an associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

For the study, Creswell and his research team had 66 healthy individuals aged 18-30 years old participate in a three-day experiment. Some participants went through a brief mindfulness meditation training program; for 25 minutes for three consecutive days, the individuals were given breathing exercises to help them monitor their breath and pay attention to their present moment experiences. A second group of participants completed a matched three-day cognitive training program in which they were asked to critically analyze poetry in an effort to enhance problem-solving skills.

Saliva samples were taken to measure levels of cortisol, the stress hormone

Following the final training activity, all participants were asked to complete stressful speech and math tasks in front of stern-faced evaluators. Each individual reported their stress levels in response to stressful speech and math performance stress tasks, and provided saliva samples for measurement of cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone.

The participants who received the brief mindfulness meditation training reported reduced stress perceptions to the speech and math tasks, indicating that the mindfulness meditation fostered psychological stress resilience. More interestingly, on the biological side, the mindfulness mediation participants showed greater cortisol reactivity.

"When you initially learn mindfulness mediation practices, you have to cognitively work at it – especially during a stressful task," said Creswell, according to the news release. "And, these active cognitive efforts may result in the task feeling less stressful, but they may also have physiological costs with higher cortisol production."

Creswell's group is now testing the possibility that mindfulness can become more automatic and easy to use with long-term mindfulness meditation training, which may result in reduced cortisol reactivity.

In addition to Creswell, the research team consisted of Carnegie Mellon's Laura E. Pacilio and Emily K. Lindsay and Virginia Commonwealth University's Kirk Warren Brown. The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Opportunity Fund supported this research.

You also may find noteworthy the abstracts of these other studies, "Is stress affecting our ability to tune into others? Evidence for gender differences in the effects of stress on self-other distinction." Or take a look at, "Cortisol and cognitive function in midlife: The role of childhood cognition and educational attainment." There's also a study of interest to those concerned with abdominal fat issues exacerbated by chronic stress, "Chronic stress increases vulnerability to diet-related abdominal fat, oxidative stress, and metabolic risk."

In that study, researchers found that chronic stress is associated with enhanced vulnerability to diet-related metabolic risk (abdominal adiposity, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress). Stress-induced peripheral NPY may play a mechanistic role. About NPY, also known as perhipheral neuropeptide Y, in preclinical studies, the combination of chronic stress and a high sugar/fat diet is a more potent driver of visceral adiposity than diet alone, a process mediated by peripheral neuropeptide Y (NPY), the study's abstract explains.

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