Written by: Kanya Shah
Have you heard of GMOs? They are genetically modified organisms whose genes have been artificially changed to modify their characteristics so that a specific crop can be made. The organism’s DNA is extracted from a cell and a chosen gene is manipulated. After this, the DNA is re-inserted into the same crop or another that is in need of better qualities that would increase crop yields.
What are the benefits of GMOs? Crop production for farmers increases because the modified plants are designed to be immune to pesticides. These plants produce more for less ultimately saving land and money. There is less of a need to spray pesticides because some of the plants contain poison within them that is lethal to insects but harmless to humans. An example is the recently modified corn plant which eventually kills the insect after it takes a bite of the plant. Not only are these plants created to be resistant to infestations, they also survive droughts. Additionally, the flavors of foods such as spice and sweetness can be enhanced and better nutrients can be added into the engineered foods.
What are the disadvantages of GMOs? For starters, the environment can be negatively impacted because the resistance to herbicides of the modified plants make it more difficult for unwanted plants such as weeds to be removed from land. For example, crossbreeding of GMO plants resulted in the interaction with non GMO weeds resulting in unintended altered weeds that were harder to control. Although GMO crops are convenient in some aspects, the engineered plants require the maintenance that organic plants need so they do not provide any economic benefits. An even more alarming result of GMO’s is that the probability of allergies among the general population has increased in regions that use GMO’s in some cases. If someone develops an allergy to soy and they eat livestock meat that had previously consumed a GMO plant that contained soy, then that person will be more susceptible to health risks.
Did you know that the US and Canada governments do not require the labeling of foods containing GMOs whereas forty other countries mandate the labeling of these engineered goods due to health reactions to consumption of GMOs? However, the USDA has illegalized the use of GMOs in Organic and Non GMO project based products.
Ultimately, GMOs have not formally been proven “safe.” The field of genetic engineering contains several unknown factors that scientists do not have a sufficient amount of knowledge about but are working on gathering information.
So, do you think that GMOs have a future in our world or are the risks too high to gamble with until we discover more?
Written By: Kanya Shah
Plastic bottles are prominent in daily life whether used for sports, catering, or personal use. The types of plastic used to make water bottles are Bisphenol A (BPA), Bisphenol S (BPS), and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). All three of these plastics have been linked to health defects in immune, endocrine, neurological, and reproductive systems because they are endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors are dangerous chemicals that fool the body’s immune system and surpass the body’s defenses. Most commonly, these endocrine disruptors mimic or interfere with hormones which is unhealthy for developing young children and teens.
How do the chemicals affect us? Studies have been conducted and several had the following conclusion. When water bottles are reused or left out on shelves or in the heat for more than a day, the chemicals can leach into the beverage. Consumers drink the contaminated water and heighten their risk for a variety of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disabilities, etc. Well recognized water bottle producing companies denied that their plastic bottles contained harmful chemicals and microplastics that can enter the water through air propulsion.
To prevent health deterioration, buy reusable bottles made of steel or glass. Avoid bottles that are labeled with #3, #6, and #7--go by the rhyme 5, 4, 1, 2, all the rest are bad for you! Although the experiments have to undergo multiple procedures before the final verdict, ultimately, plastic isn’t as safe as manufacturers claim.
Written by: Kanya Shah
Did you know that makeup contains several ingredients that are harmful to you and the environment? It’s true, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org), a nonprofit organization, makeup contains multiple dangerous chemicals that are known for causing skin allergies, acne, and other health issues. With the average person using 9 products a day with 126 different chemical exposures, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with.
What ingredients should you avoid? Parabens, phthalates, lead, triclosan, formaldehyde, and retinoic acid are some of the most common harmful chemicals found in makeup. Parabens, phthalates, and triclosan are endocrine disrupting chemicals that alter the hormone signals in your body. Parabens are makeup preservatives, phthalates help to make up the “fragrance”--a word which covers 3,100 different chemicals on a label, and triclosan is an antibacterial chemical that is no more effective than regular soap and water. Formaldehyde is another preservative that prevents mold growth in cosmetics but is known as a potent carcinogenic allergen. Retinoic acid is commonly found in nail polish and in lotions that can increase your skin cancer risk. Lead is commonly found in paint and plumbing equipment but recent studies have shown that famous lipstick companies have been using lead in the formula used to produce lipstick.
Tips for using healthier makeup:
Written by: Kanya Shah
Humans have built a commercial empire on the foundation of large scale plastic production. While plastic is a resourceful way of packaging and selling goods, the negative effects on Earth and life have intensified over the decades.
Plastic is a polymer made from toxic chemicals such as sulfur, chlorine, and fluorine which are particularly dangerous to health. Packaged foods/drinks, shipments, and one time use plastic utensils all expose people to these chemicals which are known as endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors mimic or interfere with hormonal systems. They may weaken the immune system and contribute to the development of health complications such as heart disease, mental impairments, altered hormone regulation, and in severe cases, thyroid and breast cancer.
Young children and teens are more susceptible to these exposures because their bodies are going through major changes; their organs systems are still undergoing development. This means that the infiltration of these chemicals into the younger generation is potentially more dangerous because it can affect their health throughout their life course.
With 8 million metric tons of plastic dumped into the oceans each year, the environment is negatively impacted by our plastic use as well. Organisms such as marine life are affected by the pollution of plastic waste because it kills coral reefs, contributes to climate change, and is ingested by marine life which often leads to a lowered survival rate. Sea turtles, for example, mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, a staple in their diet.
Plastic is clearly an issue, but what can we do? Finding a way to fully eliminate plastic is tricky because many of the appliances and products we use contain plastic. However, there are some ways to lower the amount of plastic from your life.
The utilization of plastic benefits manufacturers more than it does consumers so decreasing the amount of plastic you use is the most logical way to remain healthy and keep the environment green. Our self-created plastic paradise isn’t as amazing as it seems, is it?
Written by: Kanya Shah
Are you interested in learning a new language? Here are some tips to get you started!
1. A quick way to learn how to understand a spoken language is by watching Youtube shows and movies in that foreign language. By listening to the audio from the film, you'll learn to associate those words with the images shown. The next time somebody speaks in a foreign language, you'll be able to decipher fragments of the sentences.
2. Have a conversation with a person who can understand the language fluently. As you speak, you practice your ability to retain the vocabulary that you've learned and work on how to translate phrases. During a conversation, you can't reference a dictionary or Google Translate to help you so you're forced to rely on personal knowledge of grammar and vocabulary. Fluent conversations are usually fast paced but if you're brushing up on a language or learning it for the first time, it may be beneficial to have a slower conversation because that would allow you to process what's being said.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice. The more you use the language, the more terminology you'll memorize. One avenue is to use Duolingo.com which offers several practice options in terms of learning a new language. You can choose to translate sentences, speak into a microphone to practice pronunciation, and even listen to sentences being said. This website has several languages available for you to learn, ranging from Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese to much more.
4. Listen to music in the language that you're learning. If you like the song, then you'll feel more inclined to understand the lyrics and process what you're hearing. The vocabulary that you learn from different avenues would be applied to mentally translating the song.
5. To learn how to write characters, you should learn the alphabet and grammatical rules first. Start with categories like colors, clothes, etc and build your writing skills from there. This is helpful when you're learning languages like Mandarin, Japanese, Hindi, etc.
Keep practicing and don't give up. It may seem daunting to learn a new language but once you get the basics, you can keep learning harder parts of the language.
Broadcast Journalism students talk about trending topics.