81% of GM Crops Approved Without Adequate Safety Studies


What’s a recipe for environmental mayhem and the destruction of human health? The approval of genetically modified organisms by governments worldwide without any scientific safety studies. A new study published by the risk-assessment journal Environment International states that of the GM crops approved for planting and marketing globally, 81% were not studied for possible health and environmental safety risks.

Nevertheless, the biotech industry keeps touting GMO ‘benefits’ like a narcissistic madman on steroids. This chest beating continues – despite a complete lack of published, peer-reviewed research supporting the safety of genetically modified organisms.

The researchers of the risk-assessment study looked at GM crops engineered either for tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) or engineered to produce pesticides in their tissues due to the expression of cry1Ab or cry3Bb1 genes. Of all the bioengineering tricks up Monsanto and Syngenta’s sleeves, these are the most commonly used in commercial GM crops.

A whopping 47 GM crop varieties meet these conditions and have been given approval by agencies like the USDA, the FDA, and other regulatory bodies around the world.

When the researchers did a search for peer-reviewed studies on these crops prior to their approval so that they could tell if the agencies were relying on published vs. secret, industry-led studies, their findings were indeed telling.

The approval of these crops was based entirely on industry-biased data.

Only 18 peer-reviewed studies could be found which assessed the safety of any of the 47 GM crops that have been given a rubber stamp, and only 9 of the 47 crop varieties were studied. This means that the remaining 38 GMO varieties were approved with zero credible scientific evidence of their safety.

This is an incontrovertible piece of evidence that Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, Cargill, the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, and others have completely swayed government opinion about GMO safety based on manufactured to appease ‘experts.’ Experts who are supposed to assess the possible toxicity of any food or beverage we consume. This means that GMOs got the green light without safety assessments by independent scientists. No government-appointed shills should be making decisions about our food supply with such little risk assessment conducted.

The new study does suffer from one major limitation, however, since it looked only for published studies involving feeding rats the GM crop in question and then monitoring them for health effects. There are obviously other ways to conduct safety tests, but these were not conducted either.

Furthermore, these companies did indeed test their own crops and hid the results from regulators, even when they knew their toxic GMO products could cause serious health risks. The biotech industry has called these tests a ‘commercial secret’ even when they knowingly promote GMOs while they causes harm.

The pesticides and herbicides marketed to go hand-in-hand with GM crop sales are subject to the same ‘scrutiny’ as GMO crops themselves. A 2014 study in the journal BioScience found that the pesticide-approval process has been very similar.

Risk assessment is compromised when relatively few studies are used to determine impacts, particularly if most of the data used in an assessment are produced by a pesticide’s manufacturer, which constitutes a conflict of interest. Althoughmanufacturers who directly profit from chemical sales should continue to bear the costs of testing, this can be accomplished without [conflicts of interest] by an independent party with no potential for financial gain from the outcome and with no direct ties to the manufacturer.”

Asteroid Impact Threat: Experts Report on Early-Warning Strategies.


A number of scientific agencies and organizations discover and track near-Earth objects. But how best to generate early warnings of a potential impact? Shown is an artist’s view of the super bolide that exploded over Chelyabinsk,
The danger of an asteroid smacking into Earth is a clear and present hazard, underscored by the huge fireball and shattering explosion that occurred over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013.

Artist’s View of the Super Bolide

That event served as a global wake-up call — for both politicians and the public — that Earth is not impervious to “out of the blue” asteroid strikes. But how should researchers pool together the expertise of the world’s many existing scientific agencies to not only discover and track objects but also to generate early warnings of a potential impact?

For its part, a dedicated United Nations Action Team 14 has been deliberating over the years regarding the gathering and analysis of near-Earth object (NEO) data to provide timely warnings to national authorities should a potentially hazardous NEO threaten Earth. That work, in part, has helped produce an International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN).

Workshop on Asteroid ImpactPin It Workshop on communicating about asteroid impact warnings and mitigation planning brought together an international and diverse set of experts.

A workshop hosted by the Secure World Foundation in September brought experts together to discuss the IAWN, which operates independently of the United Nations. The workshop report has just been released as a public document. The results of the workshop, however, have not yet been reviewed by the IAWN Steering Committee, nor endorsed or adopted for implementation.

Main issues

“We made very good progress toward identifying the main issues involved with communicating with the media and public regarding warnings of possible NEO impacts and other related issues,” said workshop participant Sergio Camacho, who chairs the U.N. Action Team on NEOs — a group that was established in 2001.

The recent workshop brought together a diverse group of experts from the near-Earth asteroid science, risk communication, policy and emergency management communities.

Broomfield Hazard Scale

Following lengthy deliberations among workshop participants, the group made the following recommendations to sharpen the utility of IAWN:

Recommendation 1: IAWN should establish a five-year plan with near- and midterm actions for becoming the global trusted and credible NEO information, notification and warning network. This plan should consider the fundamental principles of risk communication.
Recommendation 2: IAWN should employ a full-time communications officer to oversee the development and execution of its five-year plan.
Recommendation 3: IAWN should sponsor briefings and workshops for reporters to improve NEO education within the mass media community.
Recommendation 4: IAWN should develop and employ a new, nonprobabilistic scale for characterizing asteroid impact hazards and impact effects. The Broomfield Hazard Scale is proposed for IAWN’s consideration as an impact-effects scale.
Recommendation 5: IAWN should create a website as soon as possible. An IAWN member organization should register the website immediately.
Recommendation 6: IAWN should employ a full-time webmaster to create and maintain its website.
NEO-speak

Workshop participants agreed that the task ahead of honing NEO-speak communiqués for the public and politicians will not be a simple task.

For example, How will different audiences around the world receive and respond to IAWN messages, given the existing range among them of cultural and political contexts, leadership changes and current events; and of definitions and translation issues as well as religious beliefs and world views? [How much do you know about asteroids? Take our quiz]

“Communicating about any future asteroid threat will not be easy,” said Michael Simpson, SWF’s Executive Director. “People will need messages they can act on,” he told Space.com, “and they will deserve to know the limitations on what modern science can predict.”

Lindley JohnsonPin It Lindley Johnson, program executive for NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program, discusses bolide impacts on Earth’s atmosphere.
Credit: SWF
View full size image
The report captures the complexity of the challenge when it comes to communicating asteroid impact risks, said Laura Delgado López, SWF Project Manager and co-lead of the workshop.

“It is not just about crafting the right message, but also about understanding the different audiences, how they respond to information and how this impacts decision making,” López told Space.com.

Linda Billings, National Institute of Aerospace consultant to NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, was also a workshop co-lead.

How we perceive danger

There is an easily understandable danger associated with an asteroid impact to Earth — a danger that needs no explanation because we all perceive it at the most basic, primal level, said workshop participant José Luis Galache, a staff astronomer and a strategy and innovation planner at the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The MPC operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, under the auspices of the International Astronomical Union. It is the official body that, among its duties, keeps track of NEOs that live in the Earth’s neighborhood and might one day pose a threat to our planet.

Broomfield Hazard Scale
Pin It The “Broomfield Hazard Scale” has been proposed for consideration as a way to characterize and communicate asteroid impact hazards and effects.
Credit: SWFView full size image
Galache told Space.com that one NEO communications issue lies in quantifying and qualifying the effects of an asteroid impact, given how we perceive danger as mostly “all or nothing.”

Light show, sonic boom, shock wave, or … ?

“Earth is hit daily by dust, pebbles, and rocks … mostly leftovers from the formation of the solar system, which are stopped by the protective envelope of our planet’s atmosphere. Occasionally an object (an asteroid) will survive its passage through the atmosphere and impact on land or water, or maybe disintegrate in the air, but with enough explosive force that the shock wave is felt on the ground,” Galache said.

How much damage can such an object cause?

“That depends on its size, composition, structural integrity, speed, angle of entry and point of impact or explosion,” Galache said. “If these quantities can be known ahead of time, if only approximately, the only challenge left is to notify the population who might be affected of what they can expect … a light show, a sonic boom, a shock wave, or maybe something worse,” he said.

Asteroid Basics: A Space Rock QuizAsteroids are fascinating for lots of reasons. They contain a variety of valuable resources and slam into our planet on a regular basis, occasionally snuffing out most of Earth’s lifeforms. How much do you know about space rocks?Start the Quiz
Earth Causes Asteroid-Quakes 0 of 10 questions complete
Effective communication

It is of paramount importance that this communication take place as early as possible and through channels that will reach as many people as possible, Galache said.

“There is no point to discovering an impending danger from an asteroid if it’s not then possible to warn those who will be affected by it,” Galache said. “Effective communication of the NEO hazard or imminent threat by a particular asteroid is paramount and just as important as NEO discovery.”

Study counters case for climate change-violence link


  • There was more conflict when temperatures were particularly high
  • But this link was inconsistent and less crucial than social and political issues
  • And the work fails to explain why certain areas have violence and others do not
 
Climate change is far from being solely to blame for violence in Sub-Saharan Africa, say researchers — other factors matter much more.

Their paper, published on 10 November in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contradicts earlier studies that found that higher temperatures are a major risk factor in conflict.

For instance, last year a different group concluded that a shift towards hotter conditions by a single statistical unit known as a ‘standard deviation’ — equivalent to, for example, warming an African country by 0.4 degrees Celsius for a year — caused a four per cent rise in the likelihood of personal violence and a 14 per cent increase in conflict between groups.

“The effects of climate change on violence are actually quite modest compared to other factors.”

John O’Loughlin, University of Colorado

But now a team led by John O’Loughlin, a geographer at the University of Colorado Boulder in the United States, says that previous research may have overlooked other key triggers such as political instability, poverty and geographical conditions.

O’Loughlin’s team examined these factors alongside exceptionally hot or dry periods in Sub-Saharan Africa to assess the chances of increased violence. Breaking the area down into subregional grids, the researchers pinpointed 78,000 ‘conflict events’ from the past 33 years and matched them with weather conditions and social and geographical factors.

They found that conflicts such as riots, protests or violence against civilians were more common when temperatures were particularly high. But they also discovered an inconsistent relationship between temperature deviations on the one hand and different types of conflict and different subregions on the other.

Tim Forsyth discusses climate change and violence

And, more critically, they found that longer periods of higher temperatures and wet or dry conditions had less impact on conflict than other influences, such as recent nearby violence and a lack of democracy, says O’Loughlin.

“We were surprised to discover that the effects of climate change on violence are actually quite modest compared to other factors,” he says.

However, Tim Forsyth, an expert on the politics of environment and development at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, says the paper also raises some questions.

“The problem with this approach is that there are many parts of the world experiencing climate change where violence doesn’t occur,” he says. “So instead of searching for linkage between climate change and violence, they should try to explain why certain places have conflict and others don’t.”

He believes that the approach taken will inevitably fail to explain the emergence of conflict in its complexity and help policymakers prevent it.

O’Loughlin agrees that other factors, such as conflicts over resources, play a major part in explaining conflict.

“Climate change is seen as a ‘threat multiplier’ that adds to the stresses and tensions over the distribution of resources in poor societies,” he says. “The scientific and public policy opinion is that it will be an indirect effect through this resource competition among groups.”

MRI vs Transrectal Ultrasound for Prostate Biopsy


  • In an article recently published in the Journal of Urology, Quentin and colleagues from Dusseldorf add to a growing body of literature regarding the role of MRI in prostate cancer diagnosis.1 Its ability to differentiate individuals with clinically significant prostate cancer from those without cancer, or at least without clinically significant cancer, is promising.2 Nevertheless, its actual value in current clinical practice remains unclear.

Most institutions utilize this expensive and time-consuming technology only for either further evaluation following initial biopsy that failed to identify suspected cancer or consideration of disease management that would leave some or all of the gland untreated (focal therapy or active surveillance). Fusion of the image with subsequent real-time ultrasound images, either cognitively or technologically, theoretically allows much simpler performance of biopsy compared with the in-bore process demonstrated by the Quentin study. However, it is highly unlikely that such fusion at a different point in time, with the patient in a different position, with an ultrasound probe altering the shape in comparison with images created during MRI, introduces enough misalignment to diminish performance. Thus, the promise of real-time imaging and in-bore biopsy is appealing.

However, the outcomes observed by Quentin et al are not very clinically meaningful, and they primarily demonstrated that both MRI and standard biopsy are suboptimal. Although it is intuitively appealing to reduce the number of cores, multiple studies have disproven the concept that additional cores have any negative impact on pain scores or complications.3,4 Thus, reducing the number of cores may save a few seconds during the standard transrectal biopsy, but these few seconds would pale in comparison to the time required to perform in-bore biopsy as Quentin described.

Regarding clinically meaningful findings, both MRI-guided and standard biopsy failed to identify 8% of cancers that were identified by the other, and we can assume that both missed some other cancers that remain unknown. No significant difference was identified in detection of significant cancer, and the average Gleason score was identical. The one potentially meaningful benefit seems to be that, within positive cores, MRI guidance increases the percentage involvement in individual cores, which has been shown to relate to aggressiveness in other studies.

So, where do we stand with MRI for prostate cancer? For now, I would conclude that a few very highly experienced centers can diagnose prostate cancer by MRI with accuracy that may surpass that of systematic biopsy. However, far more centers cannot. Therefore, studies such as the one by Quentin and colleagues are critical to achieve the goal where MRI might be considered a standard part of the diagnostic armamentarium. This will require defining benefits more meaningful than reduced numbers of cores or percentage of cancer involvement if we are to justify the additional time and expense. Whether this will preclude the requirement for tissue confirmation in a foreseeable future remains unknown, but appears unlikely.

WOSCOPS at 20 Years: Study Shows Lifetime Benefit With 5 Years of Statin Therapy


In the follow-up study, which was presented this week at theAmerican Heart Association (AHA) 2014 Scientific Sessions, Dr Chris Packard (University of Glasgow, Scotland) suggested that just 5 years of treatment with pravastatin might provide a legacy effect over the course of an individual’s lifetime.

“For our primary end point, by the time 20 years had passed, we could see that it’s actually taking an extra 5 years for the statin-treated group to reach the same level of risk as the placebo-treated group,” said Packard. “In other words, there is a 5-year gain in event-free years if you start LDL lowering at the age we started, which is around 50 years old.”

Packard added that the study shows a “remarkable persistence” in terms of cardiovascular risk reduction over such a long period of time, suggesting that statin treatment alters the “natural history of the disease in some way by lowering LDL cholesterol.” For physicians, he recommends they take the long view when prescribing statins to their patients, saying the best way to evaluate therapy is to look beyond the clinical-trial results to the lifetime benefits of treatment.

The WOSCOPS Study

Dr Chris Packard

WOSCOPS, a primary-prevention study with 6595 men aged 45 to 64 years with elevated cholesterol levels, was one of the pioneering statin-therapy trials when it was published in 1995. The study showed that treatment with pravastatin 40 mg for 5 years significantly reduced the risk of nonfatal MI or death from cardiovascular causes 31% compared with placebo.

“In 1996, we launched into a follow-up because we knew this would be very important in terms of safety and efficacy evaluations,” said Packard. Using electronic records from various hospitals and death registries, they ascertained outcomes in more than 90% of patients randomized in WOSCOPS. “This is a very stable population,” added Packard. “They don’t go very far.”

The 20-year follow-up data are based on a 5-year difference in LDL-cholesterol lowering with pravastatin. In the trial, pravastatin lowered LDL-cholesterol levels by 26% and total-cholesterol levels by 20%. For clinical outcomes, the reduction in the primary end point in WOSCOPS was sustained over the 20-year follow-up period, said Packard. At 20 years, coronary heart disease mortality was reduced 27% and all-cause mortality by 13%. Also, the need for coronary revascularization was reduced by 19%, heart failure by 31%; there was no effect on stroke.

“The average age of the men was 55 years during the trial and 20 years on they’re now 75 years old,” said Packard. “This covers the entire period of premature cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We would argue that this is a good picture of the lifetime benefit, which is different from lifetime risk. These are real events happening to real people.”

Importantly, the investigators observed no signal of cancer with statin therapy, a finding that would have been uncovered over such a long follow-up period if one existed. There was a significant reduction in the number of days patients were hospitalized for any cardiovascular event over the two decades, including a reduction in days hospitalized for MI. “There were no safety aspects in terms of serious disease that we could detect in this population over such a long period of time,” said Packard. “So there was benefit and no seeming disadvantage.”

During the session, Dr Harvey White (Green Lane Cardiovascular Service, Auckland, NZ) said long-term follow-up is necessary in order to evaluate the potential development of solid tumors, such as breast or lung cancers. The lack of cancer signal, he stressed, is a “very important” finding. White did say the study raises questions not addressed by the presentation, such as adherence rates, LDL-cholesterol levels, and statin doses over the 20-year period.

Still, the legacy effect of statins appears to be an “ongoing, carryover effect related to a slowing of the progression of the disease and/or the stabilization of existing coronary artery plaque.” Age might be the reason for such a long-term benefit, said White, noting that WOSCOPS patients were treated relatively young.

Statins Associated With Increased HbA1c in Individuals With Diabetes


TAKE-HOME MESSAGE

Risk for Bleeding With Dabigatran vs Warfarin in Atrial Fibrillation


TAKE-HOME MESSAGE

ABSTRACT

Increased mortality linked to genetically low vitamin D


Børge G. Nordestgaard, MD, DMSc, professor at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues evaluated 95,766 white participants from three cohorts in Copenhagen to determine whether genetically low 25-(OH)D concentrations are linked to increased mortality. Plasma 25-(OH)D measurements were available for 35,334 participants.

Borge Nordestgaard

Børge G. Nordestgaard

Participants were evaluated for genetic variants in DHCR7 and CYP2R1. From the study entry until its end in 2013, 10,349 participants died.

All-cause and cause-specific mortality were associated with a 20 nmol/L lower plasma 25-(OH)D concentration; specifically, the adjusted HRs were 1.19 (95% CI, 1.14-1.25) for all-cause mortality, 1.18 (95% CI, 1.09-1.28) for CV mortality, 1.12 (95% CI, 1.03-1.22) for cancer mortality and 1.27 (95% CI, 1.15-1.4) for other mortality.

There was a 1.9-nmol/L decrease in plasma 25-(OH)D concentration associated with each increase inDHCR7/CYP2R1 allele score. For each one DHCR7/CYP2R1 allele score increase, the HRs were 1.02 (95% CI, 1-1.03) for all-cause mortality, 0.98 (95% CI, 0.96-1.01) for CV mortality, and 1.03 (95% CI, 1-1.06) for cancer mortality and other mortality.

For all-cause mortality, the OR was 1.3 (95% CI, 1.05-1.61) for a genetically determined 20 nmol/L lower plasma 25-(OH)D concentration.

“Our data suggest that low vitamin D is a direct cause of increased mortality,” Nordestgarrd told Endocrine Today. “The best advice to patients is to get enough sunshine (up to half an hour on arms, face and neck a couple of times a week) and to get fatty fish. Whether vitamin D supplements are advisable for healthy people await publication of large randomized trials in 2017.”

In an accompanying editorial, Paul Welsh, PhD, and Naveed Sattar, MD, PhD, of the University of Glasgow, wrote that the study findings provide optimism for upcoming results of new trials, “more so if they are rapidly confirmed by additional Mendelian randomization studies with greater power.”

“Mendelian randomization is an important emerging research tool, is here to stay, and is beginning to be recognized by guideline committees,” Welsh and Sattar wrote. “Of course, in research where randomized trials are possible (or indeed ongoing), mendelian randomization studies should not displace them as the gold standard evidence in clinical guidelines or in the minds of health care professionals. In the meantime, there may well be yet more ‘groundhog days’ for vitamin D.” – by Amber Cox

Do You Know What’s in Your Nail Polish?


Toxic Chemicals in Nail Polish

Painting your nails may seem like an innocent part of your beauty routine, but inside those colorful bottles are some not-so-pretty secrets. Toxic chemicals are common in nail polish, and there’s often no way for you to know exactly what’s lurking inside.

Some might argue that occasional application of nail polish is only going to expose you to trace amounts of chemicals in levels too low to raise concern, but nail polish is just one beauty product that many women use on a regular basis.

When you add up the toxic exposures from nail polish, however “small” they may (or may not) be, with those from fragrances, makeup, body lotions, and more, it can no longer be brushed off as insignificant.

Many chemicals, including those known as endocrine disruptors, have shown adverse effects at even very low doses, and even more concerning are the effects of such chemicals on the most vulnerable populations, like pregnant women and young children (who may also have their nails painted on occasion).

So knowing what’s in your nail polish should not be an afterthought. Americans spend upwards of $768 million a year on nail polish, and nail products represent the strongest and fastest-growing segment of the beauty industry.1

You have the power to change the direction this industry is heading by demanding safe, truly non-toxic nail products… and supporting only those brands that follow suit.

Nail Polish Plasticizer Linked to Birth Defects in Animals

In 2000, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study showing that 37 nail polishes from 22 companies contained dibutyl phthalate (DBP). DBP is known to cause lifelong reproductive impairments in male rats, and has been shown to damage the testes, prostate gland, epididymis, penis, and seminal vesicles in animals.

It’s used in nail polish because it increases flexibility and shine, but research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that all 289 people tested had DBP in their bodies.2

Worse still, this chemical, which remember is linked to birth defects in animals, was found at the highest levels in women of childbearing age. According to EWG:3

“Women of childbearing age appeared to receive the highest exposures to DBP. Estimates based on data published by CDC researchers in October 2000 indicate that DBP exposures for 3 million women of childbearing age may be up to 20 times greater than for the average person.

Children born to these women would receive considerable exposure while in the womb, undergoing the most sensitive period of growth and development.”

For instance, in one study, women who had higher concentrations of two types of phthalates (DEHP and DBP) also had boys who appeared more feminized in their personality while playing. EWG’s findings were the impetus for a coalition of environmental and public health organizations, including EWG, to begin a push for companies to get these toxic chemicals out of their products…

The ‘Toxic Trio’ in Nail Polish

DBP is the first of the toxic trio. The other two toxic ingredients commonly found in nail polish include:

  • Toluene, which is made from petroleum or coal tar. Chronic exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect a developing fetus. In nail polish, toluene is used to give the polish a smooth finish.
  • Formaldehyde, a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant, and a known carcinogen (formaldehyde exposure has been associated with leukemia specifically). Formaldehyde is used in nail polish as a hardener and preservative.

The chemicals are not only a concern for women using the polish, but also for workers in nail salons, who are exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis. The good news is that, beginning in 2006, some large cosmetic companies announced they were going “three free.”

They pledged to remove the toxic trio from their nail polish. The bad news is that, in 2012, California’s Department of Toxic Substances revealed that some products claiming to be non-toxic and even “three free” still contained the toxic chemicals.4 For instance:5

  • 10 of 12 nail polishes that claimed to be free of toluene contained the substance
  • 5 of 7 nail polishes that claimed to be free of all three chemicals actually contained one or more at elevated levels

As noted by Rebecca Sutton, Ph.D., senior scientist with Environmental Working Group:6

“Whether cosmetics products are mislabeled or not, the truth is many personal care products are delivering a number of highly suspicious chemicals into our bodies…

The industry is largely unregulated, allowing cosmetics companies to use any mix of chemicals they choose. Professional products found in salons are not required to provide consumers with even the most basic information on their ingredients.”

The Next Generation of Nail Polishes Are ‘5 Free’

Three-free nail polishes are now relatively common, although, as the California study showed, you can’t necessarily take the label at face value. The “next generation” of polish has taken it a step further and (supposedly) removed five harmful toxins. Five-free nail polish should be free from DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde, plus:

  • Formaldehyde resin: Although formaldehyde resin hasn’t been linked to cancer like regular formaldehyde, it’s a skin allergen known to cause dermatitis. It can also off-gas formaldehyde and may contain residual levels of formaldehyde.
  • Camphor: This is a scented substance derived from the wood of the camphor tree. It can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches when inhaled, especially in large doses, making it a concern for nail technicians.

If a nail polish is five-free does that mean it’s safe? Not necessarily. A single nail polish can contain dozens of chemicals, and, as is the case with most cosmetics, it’s a largely unregulated industry.

Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics, and only about 10 percent have been evaluated for safety. And although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) actually has direct authority to regulate harmful ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, it doesn’t exercise it…

What does this mean for a health-conscious person like yourself? When you use nail polish, you’re taking a chance that you’re applying harmful chemicals to your nails, even if it claims to be non-toxic. As pediatrician Dr. Maja Castillo told the Huffington Post:7

“I don’t think there have been any definitive studies that show that nail polish alone is enough to cause any harm… But I think that the risks outweigh any potential ‘benefits.’”

This may be especially true for children, who are likely to chew on their nails and end up ingesting much of the polish. But regardless of its intended recipient, if you’re going to paint your nails your best bet is to choose a reputable eco-friendly brand that is water-based and centered around using natural, non-toxic ingredients. If you visit a nail salon, bring your own natural polish with you, or visit a green salon that offers such products. Alternatively, try the natural option below for making your nails shine…

A Natural Way to Create Beautiful Nails

Simple buffing can create a nice, smooth sheen to your nails, without using any nail polish whatsoever. An added boon is that it may actually help your nails grow stronger and longer due to increased circulation, and you won’t have to worry about chipped nail polish either. The following video demonstrates how to buff your own nails.

video URL:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVz2opB4Eo8

What Philae Did During Its 60 Hours on a Comet.


The simple reason why the lander was sent all the way to a comet was to do chemistry that can explain the origin of life

The drama of Philae’s slow fallbounce and unfortunate slide into hibernation was one of the most thrilling science stories of a generation. But what in its short 60 hours of life on Comet 67P did it achieve?The Conversation

The short answer is analytical chemistry.

Philae’s payload included three instruments that are quite common in chemistry labs, but when deployed on a comet could answer questions about the origins of the solar system and life itself.

Right- or left-handed life
Four billion years ago the solar system was an unsettled place. Earth was undergoing heavy bombardment by asteroids and comets. This continuous shower may have delivered a significant amount of water to our planet. But the comets weren’t just dirty snowballs. A third of their contents was probably complex organic (that is, carbon-based) molecules. These compounds may well have triggered the chemistry that led to life on our planet.

One of Philae’s goals is to provide evidence that the organic chemicals on a comet are sufficiently similar to the building blocks of life to support the comet impact theory for abiogenesis. A key factor is whether Comet 67P (and by extension other comets) contain predominantly right- or left-handed molecules.

Many molecules come in one of two forms, known as stereoisomers, which chemists designate as left- or right-handed. These two forms are identical apart from the fact that they are mirror images of each other.

Your hands are a perfect analogy. Structurally, they are the same except for the fact that you can’t superimpose one on the other. And so it is with stereoisomers.

Strangely, life on Earth is based entirely on left-handed molecules. It is perfectly possible to make the right-handed versions, but life just doesn’t. Where this preference for left-handedness comes from is a mystery. One theory is that the bias came from within the chemistry of comets. In the comets, right-handed molecules may have been preferentially destroyed by a combination of sunlight (to provide energy to trigger chemical reactions) and liquid water (with which the organic compounds could react).

Philae’s COSAC instrument is designed to sniff away at the comet’s organic contents and figure out whether they look like the building blocks of life and, importantly, whether the comet contains the same preference for lefty chemistry as Earth-bound life.

Homegrown detritus or alien debris
Most theories hold that comets were formed from the same nebula that gave birth to rest of the solar system. But this need not be the case. It could be that they are truly ancient bodies that entirely, or in part, pre-date the solar system, or perhaps they have congregated here much more recently? Philae’s Ptolemy instrument aims to answer this question by comparing the ratios of different isotopes within Comet 67P.

A given element is defined by the number of protons in its nucleus. For example carbon always has six protons. However the number of neutrons can vary giving rise to carbon-12 (six protons and six neutrons), carbon-13 (with seven neutrons) and carbon-14 (with eight neutrons). All these different variations are known as isotopes. The ratio of these isotopes in any given body will vary depending on its origins. And since the material in the solar system came from more or less the same place, the isotopic carbon ratios for the Sun, the Earth and asteroids are pretty much the same.

Life on Earth is based on only left-handed molecules, such as the amino acid on the left. 

But comets might be different, in fact remote measurements of comet Hale-Boop suggest that it may be an extra-solar alien. The problem is there were large uncertainties in these readings, so we can’t be sure of their accuracy. By sending the Ptolemy instrument to the surface of a comet this should all be resolved, as its isotopic measurements are meant to be as accurate as those performed on Earth, and the solar or alien origins of Comet 67P can be confirmed.

The snowball factories
If comets came from the same stock as the rest of the solar system where and how were they produced? The Hubble telescope spotted comets in the Kuiper belt just beyond Neptune, meanwhile the Oort Cloud (another 10,000 times further away) is thought to contain icy bodies that may, paradoxically, have condensed nearer to Jupiter and Saturn.

Figuring out where 67P may have originated is the job of APXS, an instrument designed to determine the elemental composition of dusty parts of the comet. By comparing this to material on Earth, the origins of which we are more confident about, we should be able to figure out the birth place of 67P.