Untangling the mess of issues surrounding GMOs

Recently Canadian MPs voted down Bill C-291 (216 nays 67yeas) for mandatory labelling of foods that are genetically modified. While some might say our government is refusing us the right to know what’s in our food, I argue that applying the words genetically modified to foods will not address specific concerns of Canadians.  With 80% Canadians wanting GMO foods labelled, some form of labelling is called for but it has to come with more education.…

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Untangling the mess of issues surrounding GMOs

Recently Canadian MPs voted down Bill C-291 (216 nays 67yeas) for mandatory labelling of foods that are genetically modified. While some might say our government is refusing us the right to know what’s in our food, I argue that applying the words genetically modified to foods will not address specific concerns of Canadians.  With 80% Canadians wanting GMO foods labelled, some form of labelling is called for but it has to come with more education.…

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My Science Odyssey with Let’s Talk Science McMaster

Learning and play are two sides of the same coin for kids who get a classroom visit from Let’s Talk Science (LTS), a free of charge, national science outreach program. Besides fun, undergraduate and graduate students, who volunteer with LTS, want kids to take away new knowledge and a love for science. LTS volunteers take away their own benefits from the experience too. For example, being routinely bombarded by kid questions teaches them to think…

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My Science Odyssey with Let’s Talk Science McMaster

Learning and play are two sides of the same coin for kids who get a classroom visit from Let’s Talk Science (LTS), a free of charge, national science outreach program. Besides fun, undergraduate and graduate students, who volunteer with LTS, want kids to take away new knowledge and a love for science. LTS volunteers take away their own benefits from the experience too. For example, being routinely bombarded by kid questions teaches them to think…

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Bats can help scientists track invasive insects

Identifying the arrival of invasive species before they become a problem takes some detective work. Environmental biologists are turning to environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor species of interest in a similar way to how forensic investigators use traces of DNA at the scene of a crime. In bodies of water where invasive species like Asian carp and the American bullfrog are suspected, minute traces of DNA in a water sample can alert authorities before they are…

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Bats can help scientists track invasive insects

Identifying the arrival of invasive species before they become a problem takes some detective work. Environmental biologists are turning to environmental DNA (eDNA) to monitor species of interest in a similar way to how forensic investigators use traces of DNA at the scene of a crime. In bodies of water where invasive species like Asian carp and the American bullfrog are suspected, minute traces of DNA in a water sample can alert authorities before they are…

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Mommy why do my feet smell like cheese?

Four-year-olds ask the best questions. When my son asked this I was excited to tell him that similar bacteria live on the human foot as on certain cheeses and that bacteria from human feet, armpits, tears and bellybuttons have in fact been used to make different smelling cheeses for an art-science exhibition by called Selfmade displayed in Dublin a few years ago. He clearly wasn’t so interested…or disgusted as we adults are by this concept.…

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Scoliosis, tiny beating cilia and spinal fluid flow

Why do 3% of kids spontaneously develop curvature of the spine during adolescence? This condition of unknown cause is called idiopathic scoliosis. An unexpected disease mechanism has been revealed recently in the journal Science. Developmental biologists from University of Toronto and Princeton University have modelled scoliosis in fish showing that disruptions in the tiny beating projections from the cells lining the spinal canal that help fluid flow through these narrow passages underlie this disease. Theories…

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The Gene is a lively and insightful tour through history and into the future of human genetics

The Gene: An Intimate History. By Siddhartha Mukherjee. New York. Scribner. Advance Reader’s Edition. Published May 2016. 541 pages. "Our capacity to understand and manipulate human genomes alters our conception of what it means to be “human”"In this timely book, Dr. Mukherjee gives us a window into his insightful mind as he contemplates the past and future societal impacts that go along with what has and what will be discovered about genes and inheritance. Instead…

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Videogames are just what the doctor ordered for some kids in physiotherapy

When we think about children with disabilities we easily imagine doctors, nurses and physiotherapists as part of their team of caregivers, but how about engineers and videogame designers? At Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital it seems engineers are a bit like magical fairies creating possibilities for kids to overcome barriers to do things we take for granted. They design devices that help disabled kids communicate or do cartwheels and they design videogames that make physiotherapy fun.…

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