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15 April 2008

Organic Livestock Farmers Squeezed by Costs

Facing sky-high crop prices, some in the organic livestock business are beginning to look for organic grain growers willing to sign long-term contracts to supply feed. This kind of vertical integration, which is common in the conventional meat industry, runs counter to the independent spirit of many organic farmers. But tight supplies and the soaring cost of organic corn and soybeans may force changes.

Organic products are one of the fastest-growing segments of the food industry. Sales of organic food totaled almost $17 billion in 2006, and production of the grain and soybeans needed for organic livestock has failed to keep up with the demand for milk and meat.

Soybeans in particular are in extremely short supply. Organic soybeans were selling for more than $25 a bushel on average in the upper Midwest in mid-March, an amount about double the price of a year earlier. Organic corn prices were averaging just less than $10 a bushel, up from about $6.50 a year previous.


* Des Moines Register April 5, 2008

Impaired Insulin Response Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent, according to the results of European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).

The potential benefits of K2 were most pronounced for advanced prostate cancer. Vitamin K1 intake did not offer any prostate benefits.
The findings were based on data from more than 11,000 men taking part in the EPIC Heidelberg cohort. It adds to a small but ever-growing body of science supporting the potential health benefits of vitamin K for bone, blood, skin, and now prostate health.


* April 9, 2008

Exercise During Pregnancy Means a Healthier Heart for Both Mom and Baby

Studies have shown that exercise has a positive effect on mothers-to-be. But a new study has found that not only do women benefit from exercise in pregnancy, their fetuses do as well.

Maternal exercise during pregnancy may have a beneficial effect on fetal cardiac programming by reducing fetal heart rate and increasing heart rate variability. Researchers studied fetal heart rates with magnetocardiography (MCG), a safe, non-invasive used method to record the magnetic field surrounding the electrical currents generated by the fetal heart and nervous system.

There were significantly lower heart rates among fetuses that had been exposed to maternal exercise. The heart rates among non-exposed fetuses were higher, regardless of the fetal activity or the gestational age.


* Science Daily April 10, 2008

Twenty Percent of Scientists Admit Using Brain-Enhancing Drugs

According to the results of an online survey issued by the prominent journal Nature, 20 percent of respondents, largely drawn from the scientific community, admitted to using brain-enhancing drugs such as Ritalin and Provigil.

Sixty-two percent of the scientists who had taken drugs used Ritalin, while 44 percent reported using Provigil. Only 14 percent tried beta blockers like propranolol.

The nearly 1,500 person survey was launched in the wake of a pair of recent articles that touched off a storm of questions about widespread neuroenhancer use by the scientific community.


* Wired April 9, 2008

Diabetics Can Reverse Their Atherosclerosis

Aggressively measures to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels below current targets can help to prevent -- and potentially even reverse -- hardening of the arteries in adults with type 2 diabetes. Hardening of the arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is the number one cause of heart disease.

A three-year study of nearly 500 participants was the first to compare two treatment targets for LDL ("bad") cholesterol and systolic blood pressure levels in people with diabetes.

To assess the impact of treatments on the participants' cardiovascular health, researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness of their carotid (neck) arteries. Ultrasound was also used to measure the size and function of the left ventricle, which is the heart's main pumping chamber. Among participants who were given aggressive treatment, carotid artery thickness measurements were significantly lower.


* Science Daily April 9, 2008

13 April 2008

Message from Dr Lau: Book Update

An outline is drawn…
Right from my college days, I have been mastering the art of testing the completeness of my premises with in-depth research and a clear outline.

One test that I routinely employ is what I call the essence test. In my view, an outline is complete only when I, as a reader of my own work, can understand my concepts as a unified whole.

If a thought is so abstract that it is not clear even in my own mind, how can I expect my reader to comprehend it? That’s when I reject the thought out rightly, no matter how elegant it may appear in the beginning. I instinctively know that it doesn’t belong in my writing.

Nonetheless, problems, or rather ideas that are counterproductive to my ultimate project plan, do arise. I, just make sure that they don’t arise once too often, to derail my train of thought altogether; or that when they do arise, they are immediately detected and weeded out completely from my draft plan. That’s what I did during the writing of this book too.

The second test of validity that I use for my ideas; one which I probably borrowed from the Aristonian philosophy is that of casualty. This principle dictates that my outline establish a logical chain of cause-and-effect before it can lead to some definite conclusion.

I therefore make sure that the outline that I draw follows this core principle and that there is logic and cohesiveness in the plan outline.