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Comment: Re: Ask about everything (Score 1) 53

by crmarvin42 (#47730541) Attached to: How To Read a Microbiome Study Like a Scientist.

I don't care what you want to put in your body. I expect the same respect from you.

Wow, you have a very carrying soul [/sarcasm]

Unlike you, the FDA has a statutory obligation to make sure that foods and drugs sold in the US are safe for their intended use. The "intended use" part allows for a surprising amount of wiggle room. How is the FDA to know if you bought vitamins to treat some disease (a drug use) or to make sure you meet the normal RDA (not a drug use)? They can't and don't try. The intended use limit is not on the end user, but the seller. VitaminsRUs cannot advertise that their vitamin pills prevent cancer, but if you believe they will there is nothing the FDA can do to stop you, and they won't even try.

You do not have the moral authority to tell another person what they may or may not ingest.

The FDA is not a moral authority, but a scientific one. They are staffed with experts in various fields necessary to decide which products are safe and effective, and which are not. You appear to feel yourself up to the task of sorting the wheat from the chaff, but most Americans are not. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you consider yourself to be of above average intelligence and education (ironically, the vast majority of people do as well). But think about most of the people you see in a day (neighbors, friends, family, strangers). How many of them would you suspect are similarly equipped to handle sophisticated marketing made to give the appearance of scientific validity despite a demonstrable lack there of? That is why the agency was created (see patent medicines, most of which were simply different forms of cocaine). To protect the largely ignorant populace from unsafe and unproven products.

As I stated before: regulation to ensure the product contains only the labeled, unadulterated ingredients is the limit. I can also conceptually support banning "false claims" but that is a very squishy concept in biomedical terms and is typically advocated as an subterfuge to ban things.

All such regulations require oversight. Verification that companies are obeying the laws that are supposed to govern their actions. The dietary supplement market is exempt from much of this oversight because they lied to the US population and convinced them that the FDA was out to take away their vitamins and make they by prescription only. That would never have happened. I know this because I do regulatory work with the division of the FDA involved in regulating the animal equivalent to dietary supplements, namely Feed Additives. No prescription is needed for an approved feed additive, no consultation with a veterinarian is required, but feed additive manufacturers are required to prove that a new additive is safe and effective. Once approved, anyone can sell that feed additive for the approved use without further involvement of the FDA. A feed additive petition takes about 2 years (on average, with a HUGE SD due to a non-normal distribution) from submission to approval, but once the approval is made no more work is required. In most other countries the requirements are similar, except that approvals are vendor specific (Company A and B both have to register their Vitamin C), and have to be renewed periodically (US system only requires approval once).

Comment: Re: Ask about everything (Score 1) 53

by crmarvin42 (#47717513) Attached to: How To Read a Microbiome Study Like a Scientist.
FDA regulations are use based. If you are taking vitamin C as a way to meet your daily requirement for vitamin c, then there is no health claim and your purchasing experience wouldn't change. However, the vitamin c seller would need to convince the FDA as to their supplements efficacy of disease prevention, which is BS anyway. The FDA oversight wouldn't do much to vitamin availability (the strawman the afore mentioned misinformation campaign used to drum up support for thei dietary supplement exclusions), but it would keep the "Magic" (read bullshit) pills Dr Oz keeps pushing off of the market in the first place. It would also cause other known BS like herbal supplements that lack any of the advertised herb, or the homeopathic sugar pills to be pulled due to a demonstrable lack of efficacy.

Comment: Re:Ask about everything (Score 3, Informative) 53

by crmarvin42 (#47714105) Attached to: How To Read a Microbiome Study Like a Scientist.
The really frustrating part is when people who will rant against drug companies and a supposed lack of testing (which could not be further from the truth) will in the same breath rave about the latest dietary supplement (for which no testing is actually required, and over which the FDA has little legal oversight).

The food supplements industry is largely unregulated in the US due to an impressive mis-information campaign back in the 1980's which resulted in a special section of the regulations for dietary supplements. Animal feed is more tightly regulated than feed supplements. Feed additives have to prove, to the satisfaction of the FDA, that they are effective for a specific purpose. No similar requirement exists for dietary supplements.

Comment: ErnieKey obviously has no knowledge of US farming (Score 1) 133

by crmarvin42 (#47707913) Attached to: FarmBot: an Open Source Automated Farming Machine
If ernieKey knew anything about modern agriculture he wouldn't have claimed such a lack of technological progress in agriculture. Crop production uses GPS controlled tractors and combines, animal production uses computer controlled monitoring and automation of environmental controls, electronic feeding systems that allow for group housing AND individualized nutrition plans, feed mills use real time NIR to evaluate feedstuffs so as to enable more accurate feed formulation, slaughter houses are wonders of automation where a carcass can be processed with a minimum of human interaction... I could go on indefinitely. As neat as his techno be, the tech already in widespread use in the industry is similarly impressive (and shipping TODAY).

Comment: Re:The science behind GMOs show they are safe. (Score 1) 272

by crmarvin42 (#47241649) Attached to: EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

Likewise, "companies must submit studies, and the FDA must approve them, before a genetic change may be added to a food" sounds equally reasonable and yet is labeled "zealotry" by folks like the parent poster.

As a matter of fact, the FDA is already one of 3 federal agencies in the US responsible for oversight of GMO:

What gets everyone all hot and bothered (myself included) is the erroneous perception that GMO are not regulated at all, or that they've been confirmed as unsafe for people or the environment despite all of the evidence being in opposition to that position. It is decidedly anti-science zealotry that prevents many from accepting that the scientists involved in developing and certifying GMO's have done their jobs, and done them well.

Comment: Re:I actually read the article... (Score 1) 272

by crmarvin42 (#47241615) Attached to: EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods
There is a specific allergen (short protein sequence) in peanuts that is responsible for the peanut allergy. It is well known which DNA sequence results in the offending protein sequence. Therefore, the DNA inserted into the new GM crop is compared via computer against all known allergens (not just the peanut allergen) based on the DNA and protein sequences. They also look for sequences that are similar to known allergens so that more involved testing can be done (cell culture work, anima models, etc.) to rule out the accidental development of a "New" antigen. So far we have had 20 years of 100 percent success in preventing GM crops from introducing new or already known allergens into the food supply. Can't guarantee we won't slip up eventually, but you have to give credit where credit is due.

Comment: Re:Wrong (Score 1) 272

by crmarvin42 (#47241585) Attached to: EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods

Sure it was stopped before commercialization. But this is hardly something you get when splicing.

You are flat out wrong. This is a case of why GM is so safe, and an example of the system working as designed.

Take a look at Solanine in potatoes. As a member of the nightshade family, there is always the potential that a new variety of potato will contain dangerous levels of solanine or other glycoamyloids just due to random interaction between the parent genomes. Bombarding potatoes with mutagens like ionizing radiation, or carcinogenic chemicals are OK by organic standards, and how new varieties of potatoes were developed before we even understood that DNA was the source of inheritance. This kind of genetic modification is MORE likely to result in accidental changes in Solanine concentration because so many genes are changed simultaniously. Several varieties of potatoes that were not GM have been removed from the market only AFTER they made people sick.

The targeted nature of modern techniques mean we can characterize the new strain to a previously impossible level BEFORE they hit the market. Who cares how many mistakes they make in the lab, as long as they STAY in the lab. The 78 UK made sick by Solanine poisoning in Britain in the 1970's are 78 more adverse events than have ever been reported for ALL GM products combined over the last 20 years precisely BECAUSE we scrutinize all new GM strains so closely before they are allowed on the market.

Comment: Re:Let's get rid of EU (Score 1) 272

by crmarvin42 (#47241403) Attached to: EU May Allow Members Home Rule On GMO Foods
I was in Germany a few weeks ago for work, and my German colleges all seemed to be of the opinion that the EU was never meant to grow past the initial members, at least in the near term. There is a lot of shared culture and history amongst the original EU member states, and it was viewed as the first step toward the type of federalization you mention. However, with the expansion of the EU to include member nations that can only be considered "Europe" if you've had a few fingers of scotch, are standing on your head, and squinting, the pace of such integration gets slower and slower. It's also part of why Greece is in such dire straights.

Used to me that in such a situation Greece could allow their currency to devalue, relative to the rest of Europe, and they'd pull themselves out in a few years as the value of their existing debt is reduced. However, now that their currency is also pegged to the German et al. economies they cannot do that and what would of taken a few years will now take decades.

Comment: Re:Misinformation? (Score 1) 493

by crmarvin42 (#47121115) Attached to: Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration
You have no idea what you are talking about. I'll pit my annecdotal experience against your annecdotal experience.

My sister (1 at the time) got a mild case, but then came down with Shingles while in college. She was in agony for almost a year and considered taking a semester off because she was in so much chronic pain.

My brother got it when he was 3 and had it everywhere. On his genitals, in his mouth, down his throat. He was already a sickly child who did not gain any weight for the 1st 6 months of his life. The sores in his throat exacerbated his respiratory problems and he had to be hospitalzied.

Public health is a numbers game. The cost of the invervention weighed against the cumulative costs on society. A disease does not have to be consistently life threatening to be worth erradicating through vaccination. The cost of treating events like my sisters shingles and my brothers hospitalization have a large effect on the total cost of a disease organism. Much higher than would be expected based on the prevalence of such complications. Take the human suffering component into account and a solid case for vaccination becomes even stronger.

Comment: Re:Well... (Score 4, Interesting) 493

by crmarvin42 (#47120845) Attached to: Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration

What about people with other health conditions who cannot tolerate the vaccine?

They would benefit in the event of an oubreak in there area. They could be notified directly that there was an outbreak in the area so that they could then decide to leave the hot zone before becoming infected. I don't think anyone is claiming vaccines should be administered to those at high risk for adverse events (egg allgies, or previous adverse reactions to similar vaccines). However, unvaccinated people do pose a risk not only to themselves, but to others. Being able to mitigate those risks would help everyone.

To be clear, I approve of something like this for the US (where I live) but only if the list is maintained by health officals only. I see no reason for this to be publicly available information. I have no business knowing if you are vaccinated, but the WHO or CDC does in the event of a legitimate risk in your area.

Beyond a certain critical mass of vaccinations, additional vaccinations are subject to diminishing returns.

Very true, but that critical mass is around 95%. The original article makes it clear that in Canada, the vaccination rates are nowhere near that number. Articles I've read in the US place the rates below that number as well. Especially in regions where non-medical vaccination abstentions are high (religious groups, Wealthy communities suffering from the misconception that vaccines are related to autism, etc.).

Comment: Re:Comon.. Really? Robots to move cows around? (Score 1) 65

by crmarvin42 (#45444305) Attached to: Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy
Your inability to see a reason does not mean one does not exist. Although, I don't disagree regarding the daily contact. However, on the farms I've visited that use robots, their direct human contact is not appreciably lower, it is only the type of interaction that has changed.These cows milk themselves so they are not rushed in the parlor by a hired hand trying to get done with their shift or this particular chore faster, which is interaction the cows are probably better off without. Instead the herdsman has time to walk the pens while he and the cows are more relaxed.

These robots also come with all sorts of sensors and automatic flagging software to notify the producer of potential problems. The sensors in these machines can predict mastitis based changes in the composition of the milk before the cow exhibits any signs that the farmer could detect, they can track milk components on a daily basis per cow, and enable targeted feeding of extra nutrition during milking to supplement the TMR for the highest producing cows. For a modern, data driven dairy, these machines are a treasure trove of information about the cows to supplement the knowledge that comes from working with the cows on a daily basis

Also, keep in mind that robotic milkers don't really scale beyond 500 cow herds. These are a labor saving device for those farms that can least afford to hire another person. Each robot can handle about 60 cows depending on how productive they are. Above 500 cows (8 robots) and it becomes more cost effective to use a traditional parlor with full time employees to do the milking.

This robot, which does look more like a graduate student project than a commercial product, appears to work in an open field. That is a very different application from the moving gates you are referring to. Robots are generally built for a specific purpose, and those automated gates you describe wouldn't do much good for cows spread over several acres, whereas this one might in the future.

Comment: Re:Comon.. Really? Robots to move cows around? (Score 1) 65

by crmarvin42 (#45438381) Attached to: Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy
Very true, but I see this device as more of a proof-of-concept for robots to work beside livestock in general. Pastured dairy cows are usually pretty dosile due to frequent handling, but what about range fed beef cattle? What about a robot to empty a broiler house or load turkey's without spooking them and losing birds due to acities or damaged breast meat? I'm not saying all of this will come to pass, but the possibilities are intriging.

Also, this could potentially be used in conjuction with a robotic milking parlour to automate fetching cows on rotationally grazed pastures to automate the entire process.

Comment: Re:How many humans does the farm require? (Score 1) 65

by crmarvin42 (#45438157) Attached to: Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy
You are assuming that farm jobs are jobs people want. In areas where there are a lot of farm jobs available, there are usually a shortage of qualified individuals willing to do them. Ag work is long hours under an unpredictable range of environmental conditions in general, but animal work adds in the vageries that come with a thinking animal that is frequently stronger, bigger and more numerous than you are. Every farm job I've ever had was open for several months before it was I filled it. Many times I was the only person who had expressed any interest in the job at all. Even in lean economic times you can have a hard time finding anyone to do such work, or at least have a hard time finding someone who can do it well.

If machines like this can help keep a farm from closing down, then I welcome the technology.

Dairies less than 500 to 1,000 cows are already replacing people in the milking parlour to great effect for the cows and their human handlers. Instead of spending 6 hours a day coraling cows into a parlour and milking them you can let them be milked when they feel it is necessary (great for those higher producing cows that need to be milked more than 2x/d). That frees you up to work on other on-farm issues like estrus detection, sire selection, feed manufacture, etc. that normally have to be done in the time between milkings.

Here is a question for you: Do you also lament the switch from horse drawn carriage to automobile? The car put a lot of equine breeders, carriage manufacturers, and buggie whip manufacturers (my home town is nicknamed the "whip city" because of its importance as a center of buggy whip manufacture back in the day) out of business as well, but it appears to have turned out for the best. I think the root problem of such thinking is that jobs are a zero sum game. That for a robot to do a job is to replace a human with that job never to be replaced, but the robot is manufactured, marketed, maintained, re-sold, recycled, etc. and all of those jobs still require humans.

One way to make your old car run better is to look up the price of a new model.

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