Causal Argument Rewrite- Alpacaqueen

I’d like to propose a simple task. Completely redefine the food labeling industry so that it is more adaptive and accepting of today’s genetically and technologically enhanced foods. We, as people, crave options. We crave truthfulness. We crave knowledge. Yet for some reason, supermarkets continue to display food in a very black and white fashion. You can choose organically labeled food, whose description can still be vague,  or non-organically labeled food, which could be anything from fresh produce that just fell short of the “organic” standards or a box of pop-tarts. With the hundreds of breakthroughs in food technology, there is no reason that there aren’t more options between this left or right side standard we’ve come to condone. The adoption of these “new foods” that have been genetically and/or technologically enhanced not only accomplish this task, but positively affect the producer, consumer, and the environment too.

As stated above, one major category that advancements in food biotechnology affect are the producer, or in this case, the farmers and researchers. In many ways, these new inventions and methods for farming are dramatically changing the game, and for the better.

With the adoption of such technologies, farmers’ jobs become less time consuming and more productive. Instead of having to weed through thousands upon thousands of crops, many fruits and vegetables are being genetically modified to build up resistance to soils with toxins or poor fertility, saving farmers time and money.

In a piece by Purdue University, the paper explains how crops are being developed that “utilize nitrogen or water more efficiently, which allows them to produce food and fiber with less applied fertilizer and irrigation – an advance that could not only reduce production costs, but could also improve water quality.” Speaking of saving farmers money, the paper continues with the statement,

Abdalla et al. (2003) predict the full global adoption of biotech crops would result in income gains of $210 billion per year for farmers – and that some of the greatest gains are expected to occur in developing countries.

This is a substantial amount of savings. We aren’t talking a few tens of millions, we’re estimating $210 billion dollars PER YEAR. If more of the world were to adopt these biologically enhanced crops, it would reduce costs dramatically, not only for its producers in our own country, but also developing nations who struggle with coming up with the funds to sustain a sufficient yield.

Endorsement of these biotech crops and technology certainly have a positive effect on the consumers as well. Many companies are utilizing 3-D printing to produce food like never before. One company, Modern Meadow, has already used a type of bioprinting to form leather from taking a small portion of the product in its final state, forming samples of collagen from the animal, and using technology to assist the collagen in growing into a state of hide. CEO of Modern Meadow, Andras Forgacs and his team were able to form “skin models” of fully functioning organs such as livers and kidneys through 3-D biotech printing. Forgacs is working towards using this technology to create produce, which could completely revolutionize the meat industry.

Food printing technology is even being accepted by specialty consumers with great purpose. NASA is utilizing printing technology to produce foods, such as pizza, for astronauts to make during space exploration.

Crop biotechnology is being used to reduce health risks among humans as well. Many plants and vegetables are being engineered to give its consumers greater nutritional value and decreased disease risks. As author Theresa Phillips explains in her article, “5 Ways Food Biotechnology Has Changed the World,”  “…the (once lowly) soybean has been developed to produce more stearic acid, thus improving the heat stability of the oil, to match the properties of trans-hydrogenated fatty acids.” Reduction of these fatty acids prevent less risk in clogging the arteries.

These new foods are fighting to take down more illnesses than one. We’d all prefer tomatoes that can be “bred to produce higher amounts of lycopene”, a compound which could in turn prevent things such as high cholesterol, heart attacks, and even some types of cancer.

In developing nations that struggle with sourcing fresh water, engineers are introducing technologies to test its purity. Philips explains this as well in her article, as it states, “Cryptosporidium parvum (Crypto), is a water-borne pathogen that produces spores, making it difficult to remove by boiling or chemical treatments.” Fortunately, scientists are currently working to introduce certain antibodies that help to detect these impurities.

It doesn’t stop there. Food biotechnology has a great effect on our environment as well. With so much of our planet’s land being used up more and more each day, one farm in London formed a new solution by producing crops from a farm built in abandoned underground tunnels, called a hydroponic farm. These types of farms grow food without soil and instead use a water solution packed with nutrients.

Additionally, Exxon Mobil recently engineered a strain of algae that is able to produce massive amounts of oil. What does this mean for the environment? A new and promising (and sustainable) source of biofuel. As the article from Exxon Mobil explains, “Algae has other advantages over traditional biofuels because it can grow in salt water and thrive in harsh environmental conditions, therefore limiting stress on food and fresh water supplies.” While many jump to assume genetically engineered food and food technologies are set to destroy the planet, it may just be one of the last approaches in saving it.

The world of food biotechnology isn’t here to hurt us. It isn’t here to shove hundreds of toxic chemicals into our produce. It’s here to transform the food industry as we know it for the better, and keep up with the ever-evolving and ever-growing demands of the world, and positively reshape the needs of its producers, consumers, and environment.

 

References

Gilpin, L. (2014, May 13). 10 ways technology is changing our food. Retrieved from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-ways-technology-is-changing-our-food/

Shontell, A. (2016, June 28). A Brooklyn startup that’s armed with $40 million is growing real leather in a lab without hurting a single animal. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/modern-meadow-lab-grown-leather-2016-6

Phillips, T. (2018, August 26). How Has Food Biotechnology Changed What We Eat? Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/food-biotechnology-375627

Chapter 4 Breakthroughs in Agricultural Biotechnology. (n.d.). Perdue University. doi:http://www.ctic.purdue.edu/media/users/lvollmer/pdf/biotech chapter 3.pdf

Breakthrough in algae biofuel research reported. (2017, June 20). Retrieved from https://phys.org/news/2017-06-breakthrough-algae-biofuel.html?xid=PS_smithsonian

Causal- Alpacaqueen

I’d like to request some help professor. My hypothesis is on how elimination of organic foods and adoption of food biotechnology proves as beneficial to the producer, consumer, and environment. I’d like to use the w causes x, y, and z format. I know I’d like to focus on the cause and affect of food technology on the subjects listed above (producer, consumer, environment) and probably even the economy, but I’d like to request assistance on forming the structure of my causal argument. I worry that my causal will be very similar to my definition. I intend to find sources on how food technology helps the producer in a multitude of ways, such as how farmers could cultivate produce in a much quicker fashion without taking much time with the introduction of modified food. I also still need to acquire sources on how these “new foods” help the consumer, because genetically and technologically manufactured food can solve illness or provide convenience. Same going for environmental effects, I intend to find sources that display how these new foods prove beneficial to solving issues such as depleting fossil fuels or saving energy.

Open Strong- Alpacaqueen

1. It’s common knowledge that people often fear what they don’t know. In today’s society, especially, this seems to be a frequent phenomenon. This mindset is often the source of bias towards non-organic food. Any developments in the field of GMOs and food technology, no matter how beneficial they may be, are usually squandered by organizations or companies that refuse to set aside their outdated beliefs. If we are ever to move forward in the ever-evolving food industry, these beliefs are going to have to be set aside.

2. When shopping for produce in the supermarket, we are essentially faced with two options: organic or non-organic. Now although many instantly go for the organic food option, it isn’t necessarily the best choice. What if I told you that soon, there will be no organic food labeling? You may think it’s bizarre, but it is exactly what this industry needs. With all of the new genetic and technological advancements that are positively reshaping food growth and production, this age old industry needs to be broken out of its mold.

 

Definition Essay- Alpacaqueen

In this day in age, it’s shocking how exponentially more concerned people are becoming about the food they consume and what goes into their body. What’s ironically even more shocking is how little they really understand behind the labels. For years we’ve been faced with essentially two options when shopping for produce in the supermarket: organic or non-organic. While some may believe reaching for the organic product may be the best option, it’s not. Although many people swear by their strict organic diet, it seems that the public has been shielded from what else is out there. Currently hundreds of breakthroughs are being made in the field of food technology. While it may not be the precious “organic” label we’re used to, it’s a significantly better option. If “organic” foods are eliminated from supermarkets and more products alternatively produced through food biotechnology are adopted into stores, it will prove to benefit the producer, consumer and the environment.

One common misconception with organic food is that it is significantly healthier for humans. This is not proven to be true. In many instances, although organic food contains less pesticides than non-organic foods, the amount of pesticides have not proven to cause any difference in health among people. As explained by Max Whitmore in his article, “Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic Food”, one study done over a forty five year period concluded, “After reviewing 17 human studies and 223 studies of nutrient and contaminant levels in foods, researchers found little evidence pointing to superior health benefits in organic foods versus conventional foods.” This is just one of the many studies conducted proving in many instances, people are of equal health regardless of whether they eat organic/non-organic. Unfortunately, people have become so quick to judge things such as GMOs or anything that is not dubbed as organic that they completely disregard any other form of produce, no matter how great the benefits may be. In the article, “Organics versus GMO: Why the debate?,” Robert Wager discusses this.

According to the World Health Organization, 250,000 to 500,000 children in the developing world go blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency, half of whom die within a year. 250 million preschool children, mainly in urban slums, suffer from this deficiency. In all, 2-3 million people die from vitamin A deficiency-related diseases every year.

In response to this terrible epidemic, researchers produced a genetically modified crop, “golden rice”. This crop not only promised to prevent blindness and build up the immune system, but was readily available to ship to the children in need. Unfortunately, the environmental organization, Greenpeace, banned the distribution of this rice without looking into any information on the crop and simply stated they did so on account of the fact that it might cause “environmental and health risks.” It is wrongful that one-sided anti-GMO groups turn the other cheek in these situations when millions of people are falling victim to an illness that could easily be alleviated by a safely modified crop. For the same scientific reasoning they hold true behind their beloved organic crops is the same as its non-organic counterparts.

As a result of all this discrimination about food being enhanced through biotechnology, people fail to see the countless other options just waiting to be adopted into the food industry. When I say organic foods should be eliminated from stores across the nation, I don’t suggest we completely annihilate all sense of organic foods, but rather redefine and enhance the label itself and introduce people to the variety of other options out there. Allison Aubrey from her article, “Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier For You,” discusses how scientists are “measuring nutrient levels in all kinds of crops…such as super-nutritious microgreens. They’re trying to breed new varieties of crops that yield not a bigger harvest but a more nutrient-rich harvest.” She suggests that instead of labeling food as simply “organic” or “nonorganic,” perhaps food will be labeled based on the amount of nutrients they contain.

One company named Foodini is revolutionizing the food business after creating a machine that allows you to put in ingredients you choose and create your own food, such as chicken nuggets. In her article, “Six Technologies That Could Shake the Food World,” Annie Gasparro discusses this process.

Parents can let their children pick a shape like dinosaurs or stars, and the Foodini will print—and cook—chicken nuggets in that form. Machines also plans to have inputs for fat and calorie content that will adjust the size of the nuggets or cookies that come out.

This allows people to really customize and take control of their own food to suit their personal needs. Besides touching on human health, food technologies are also being put to use to benefit the environment. When any given food begins to make people sick at a large scale, every ounce of it is tossed away. Now researchers have discovered a new concept: edible barcodes. Later in the article Gasparro explains this in stating, “Applied to food, the bar codes are invisible, tasteless and safe to eat. Created by combining segments of seaweed DNA into a unique signature, the bar codes can be applied to a single food item like an apple or a silo full of wheat used in flour.” Because of this, tainted food can quickly and easily be traced back to the source of the issue, saving massive quantities of food that would otherwise be thrown away. In an article from Crop Life International, “5 Big Biotech Breakthroughs,” another way in which food is being preserved is through producing drought-resistant crops in areas that face long periods without rainfall. As the article explains, scientists “hope to plant the biotech maize in 2017, as a recent study from the International Food Policy Research Institute estimated drought-tolerant maize could raise yields by 17% in East Africa during severe droughts in 2050.” Not only will this safe alternative save the farmers from disposing of wasted dried crops, but also produce an even greater abundance than the years before.

These discoveries have, and continue to, prove as effective alternatives to keep up with the ever growing issues correlated to today’s food industry. As these problems begin to grow and evolve, the ways in which we safely modify our food should too. Hopefully in the future, there will be no clear cut “organic” labels, but rather an abundance of other healthy alternatives all brought to life through genetic and technological means. This process can only be expedited through the support of consumers and companies willing to set aside their old biases and take a look at the breakthroughs being made in the food technology industry.

 

References

Whitmore, M. (2017, October 03). Advantages & Disadvantages of Organic Foods. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/442122-advantages-disadvantages-of-organic-foods/

Wager, R., Popoff, M., & Moore, P. (2018, January 12). Organics versus GMO: Why the debate? Retrieved from https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2013/10/15/organics-versus-gmo-why-the-debate/

Aubrey, A., & Charles, D. (2012, September 04). Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier For You. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2012/09/04/160395259/why-organic-food-may-not-be-healthier-for-you

Gasparro, A., & Newman, J. (2018, October 03). Six Technologies That Could Shake the Food World. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/six-technologies-that-could-shake-the-food-world-1538532480?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=4

5 Big Biotech Breakthroughs. (2015, February 5). Retrieved from https://croplife.org/news/5-big-biotech-breakthroughs/

 

Safer Saws- Alpacaqueen

Source 1: In the article, “The Saw That Won’t Cut Off Your Fingers Has Arrived,” author Roy Berendsohn discusses how the Bosch saw works and how he tested its capabilities. In explaining how long it takes to reset the machine, he states,

I would say that the first time you accidentally trip the blade (say, with a piece of wet lumber or by hitting a metal staple) it’ll take you a couple of minutes to get everything sorted out and get the saw running. Either way it beats sawing into your thumb.

This is an evaluative/proposal claim. Berendsohn evaluates that after personal experience that if the blade is to retract, fixing the saw will take a few minutes to get the saw functioning again. By adding the last sentence, he also introduces a highly persuasive proposal claim, suggesting something that I’m sure many people would agree with: that a few minutes of extra work is better than a lost limb.

Source 2: Sally Greenberg, National Consumers League executive director, is the author of the article “10 Amputations a Day: A Need for a Safer Table Saw.” In her piece, she addresses the dire need for this product to be available to the public. Her final sentence drives this point home in her statement,

10 amputations a day and thousands more injuries every year, is an unacceptable toll when a ready fix is affordable, available, and waiting.

This is a factual claim, it states the number of amputations caused per day as a result of table saw injury. This claim is focused on throughout the entirety of the excerpt, as the author uses facts along with her strong opinion that there is no reason this product should not be on the market already. I agree that the saw should be introduced to consumers, regardless of how many amputations arise per day when the number could instead be zero.

Source 3: In this document, classified as the statement regarding “THE COMMISSION DECISION TO ISSUE AN ADVANCE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING (ANPR) FOR PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS TO ADDRESS TABLE SAW BLADE CONTACT INJURIES”, Chairman Inez Tenenbaum of the CPSC addresses the commission’s rulemaking for reducing table saw injuries. In this document, the chairman claims,

Based on the injury data obtained in the 2007 and 2008 CPSC special study, our staff’s injury cost model projected that consumers suffered approximately 67,300 medically treated blade contact injuries annually in 2007 and 2008—with an associated injury cost of $2.36 billion dollars in each of those two years.

This is a factual numerical claim. It analyzes the very high number of blade injuries over one year along with the $2.36 billion dollar price tag that came with those mishaps. This claim appears highly reliable based on the source, as the chairman continues this claim in emphasizing the need for safer table saws. I agree with the fact that the increased costs in table saw production do not outweigh the costs in current injuries per year.

Source 4: In the article, “Feds might force table-saw makers to adopt radically safer technology,” author Timothy Lee examines the pros and cons to the idea of a self-retracting table saw, along with the implications of putting it on the market. In one claim, he states,

Table-saw related injuries cost society billions every year. The CPSC predicts switching to the safer saw design will save society $1,500 to $4,000 per saw sold by reducing medical bills and lost work.

This is an evaluative numerical claim. The text argues that switching to a safer table saw could prove beneficial because although the saw cost may be much more, we would be saving billions of dollars a year from lack of table saw related injuries. Although this seems quite reliable considering this data was predicted by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, I’m not sure you can claim that “society” as a whole will save billions versus people who frequently work in conjunction with table saws.

Source 5: In this excerpt under “Table Saw Amputation Lawyer” for the Schmidt law firm, it discusses injuries related to table saws lacking this safer technology and encourages victims to contact the firm. The article exemplifies how “SawStop” could prevent these injuries in stating,

Since 2000, a safety device called the “SawStop” has existed that could prevent nearly all table saw amputations, but manufacturers have refused to voluntarily place the safety devices on their products, citing an unreasonable increase in price (about $100 per table saw).

This is a factual/ethical and moral claim, as it directs the focus on the statement that this saw has the ability to prevent table saw amputations but has not been introduced to products because of the higher costs that accompanies them. The claim identifies as an ethical/moral claim because it appears to put the blame on the manufacturers for the victims injuries, seeing as they are the ones refusing to put the new saw technology into action.

 

 

Visual Rewrite- Alpacaqueen

 

0:01 The video begins by showing a middle-aged African-American man. He reaches down to turn up the volume on a fairly large boombox. The boombox is entirely gray and without label, so we can presume the boombox will not be the subject of the video. It appears to be the sort of speaker you would use when throwing a large party, not just for listening by yourself. The image takes place against a textured interior home wall.

0:02 A pair of African-American hands, presumably the hands of the same man, begin dumping ice cubes into a steel bucket, the kind that usually holds ice to place in alcoholic beverages. The man’s hands appear smooth and well kept, and you are able to see that he is wearing a purple button down shirt. The view given shows that this is all occurring on a countertop with tile floors in the background, most likely being a kitchen setting. This seems to be the man’s new home , or perhaps the man and his partner, not kids, because the house seems to lack many furnishes, decorations, or toys. 

0:03-0:04 The man’s face is seen again, and in the background a stove top among a set of white cupboards is seen, confirming this is taking place in a very nice, clean kitchen. The camera pans down to show that the man is pouring pretzels from a red plastic bag into a bowl.

0:05-0:06 The man is now seen at the fridge, which also appears quite nice as it is two-doored and stainless steel. He opens the door and removes four white cans, most likely soda or beer, holding three in one hand while grabbing the last. All of the camera angles appears as quick, close-up shots so as not to reveal too much information regarding the man’s evening intentions. 

0:07-0:08 The camera cuts to the man opening the door. The door is red and wooden, with a few small windows engraved in the center and a metal knocker. The setting appears dark, so it is set sometime at evening or night. The door is framed by brick, and as he opens the door, a delivery man in a red tee shirt and hat from the back is seen, handing the main character a white plastic box and paper bag. The man smiles and nods as he accepts the contents.

0:09-0:10 The man is now seen setting up a small green plastic table, and a foldable plastic chair. In the background, a few pieces of abstract art are seen on the wall separating the room from the kitchen. This leads us to believe that these artsy feminine touches were decided by the man’s wife. Out of focus, in the kitchen a jar of cooking utensils and a coffee pot are seen on the clean granite countertops.  It seems the kitchen is not put to much use and he orders out often. Perhaps his partner who is out is the one who does the cooking and keeps the kitchen pristine. The man is seen setting up the chair on the side next to him, placing it with care.

0:11-0:14 As the man sits down in another collapsible chair, he sets a deck of playing cards on the table and begins to shuffle them with ease, as if this is a weekly routine. He seems to be setting up a game of poker for whom I imagine to be his other male friends. He is then seen dealing the cards out quickly to different sections of the table.

0:15-0:16 The camera cuts to a close up of the man’s face as his hands hold five cards, covering his nose and mouth. The man’s eyes look suspicious as he looks down to his left and right, one eyebrow raised.

0:17-0:20 The frame zooms out to reveal that the man is playing cards with two African-American boys in tee shirts, most likely his sons. As the camera zooms out the man lowers his cards and says something to one of the boys with a stern look. The boys’ eyes widen and appear to defend themselves. The man smiles and looks back at his cards.

0:21 As the frame zooms out completely, one boy is seen with a glass of red juice and plate of snacks and a sandwich. The other boy has a plate filled with similar food and is seen with a juice box next to him instead of a glass, which may indicate that he is the younger brother. The man does not have any food or drink near him. Simultaneously, the text “Titus O’Neil WWE Superstar” is displayed in the right hand corner of the screen.

0:22 The man, presumably Titus O’Neil, smiles and throws down his cards in defeat as the boys celebrate and bounce up and down.

0:22-0:30 A black screen appears with the white text “It only takes a moment to make a moment” slowly dissolves onto the screen, representing how little it takes to make such a lasting memory for your loved ones. This is followed by a new orange and white text that pops up, stating #makeamoment in the center of the screen with a website in orange text, fatherhood.gov, in the left hand corner. The hashtag is to perhaps draw the attention of a younger crowd. 

WhitePaper- Alpacaqueen

Proposal:

In my research essay, I would like to examine how the elimination of organic foods and incorporation of its modified counterparts and technology could provide substantial benefits. These improvements would apply to but are not limited to, the human health, the environment, and the economy. Many people in this generation seem to have a great appeal to the thought of “going organic”, but what are the real benefits behind it? What I’ve come to learn is that ‘organic” is not a black and white definition and not just a relationship between food and consumer. As I continue my research, I want to expand this thesis into investigating how the elimination of organic food and acceptance of crop technology could lead to many underlying benefits that can affect both our habits and the welfare of the nation as a whole. If we are able to see past these certain left and right beliefs behind any source of modified food and the technology behind it being bad, there will be no need for organic labeling.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Organic Food

The Essential Content of the Article:

This article provides a brief overview of the many cons that are associated with organic food. It provides reasoning against going organic in discussing the increased cost of organic foods, the decrease in productivity per acre that comes with farming organically, the increase in time and skill that is required for organic farming with less output of produce, along with other points.

 

What It Proves:

This article acts as a good baseline to demonstrate the many negative aspects of organic food. It provides points that I will be able to further expand upon with more research. Besides stating the cons that affect the environment, the economy, and the consumer today, it also gives insight on what may happen with the growing popularity of organic food. As organic food becomes more and more popular, although prices may decrease, farms will use a much greater deal of fossil fuels and rules will become more and more lenient on what is considered “organic”.

 

Organic vs. GMO- Why the Debate?

The Essential Content of the Article:

This article focuses on the advantages of adopting crop biotechnology and GMOs into the food markets as opposed to organic foods. A large portion of the article is spent questioning why anti-gmo activists are so opposed to such an idea. It provides reasoning that with the introduction of more GM foods and advancements of new genetic farming techniques, benefits will be presented in the realm of human health and the environment.

 

What It Proves

This article provides a lot of backing on the advantages of focusing our energy into producing GMO foods and advancements in crop biotechnology. For example, GMO crops are being engineered that fix their own nitrogen. As a result of this, massive amounts of energy would be conserved by “eliminating the natural gas used in synthesizing ammonium nitrate and the fuel burned in trucks that deliver that fertilizer to farms.” Additionally, these genetically altered crops have the potential to save lives. In 1998, a GMO, golden rice, was made in response to a vitamin A deficiency causing hundreds of thousands of children to go blind in developing countries. Although this rice was made to reverse that, the environmental organization Greenpeace denied its distribution based on the claim it may pose “environmental and health risks”. As the author mentions, there is no way that the risk could be more than the one these thousands of children are facing.

 

Why Organic Food May Not Be Healthier For You

The Essential Content of the Article:

This article discusses how there have been no studies that have proven any real health benefits in eating organic versus non-organic. The article suggests that organic food may be better in other ways, but it all comes down to what the farmers are being paid and how much the consumers are willing to pay.

 

What it proves:

Essentially, it proves that consumers are paying extra for organics just for the name, or the idea that its healthier. The article pointed to many studies in which no real difference in health was found between eating organic versus non-organic foods. Although the author claims that organic foods are better in different aspects, like using compost instead of synthetic fertilizer to grow the crops, it’s been suggested that the compost, containing animal manure, is far more likely to lead to sickness that crops treated with the synthetic fertilizer. Instead of “organic” labeling, it is suggested that produce will be measured and described based on its levels of vitamins or protein.

 

The Truth Behind Organic Produce and Pesticides

The Essential Content of the Article:

This article discusses the differences in pesticide amounts and use in organic and non-organic foods. It goes on to discuss how it may affect our health or that of farmers.

 

What it Proves:

This article made it clear that, although organic foods contain lower levels of pesticides in them than non-organic, the pesticide levels very rarely have any negative effect on a person’s health. The only two extreme terms would be if two toxic residues crossed, which the EPA has yet to test for every combination of chemicals, or if farmers were exposed to these chemicals very heavily over a long period of time, which they aren’t. Residues in these pesticides are found in very low levels when farming.

 

Think organic food is better for you, animals, and the planet? Think again

The Essential Content of the Article:

This article focuses on dispelling popular beliefs among organic food, and how there are many misconceptions behind the idea regarding the welfare of the environment, animals, and its consumers.

 

What it Proves:

This article showed a grand scale of what going organic is really costing humanity as a whole. Because of the strict methods of farming organically, much less is produced per acre of land than that of non-organic food. As the article mentions, “to produce the amount of food America does today, but organically, would require increasing its farmland by the size of almost two United Kingdoms.” Not only this, but the piece goes on to mention how some of the pesticides such as copper sulfate used in organic foods can still be linked to things such as liver disease in consumers and leukemia in farmers who handle such pesticides. The article adds that organic farming comes with a price tag- and a very big one at that. Essentially, it states, “If all of the United States were to go organic, the cost would likely be around $200 billion annually” just from lack of productivity. This does not even take the additional fees into account such as the higher price required to farm organically or the amount of land required.

  1. Gilpin, L. (2014, May 13). 10 ways technology is changing our food. Retrieved from https://www.techrepublic.com/article/10-ways-technology-is-changing-our-food/

Background: This article discusses the many ways in which technology is playing a role in food production and transportation. It focused on developments made in the field of technology to do things such as reduce food waste, track droughts, and digitally print food.

How I used it: This article exposed me to a variety of different ways in which the food industry is being propelled forward as a result of new technology. It provided information on how even social media is playing a role in reducing food waste by forming apps for restaurants to post listings of leftover food at a reduced price. It also discussed a technology that has been around for a while but still proves effective, stating how GPS tracking helps farmers observe soil levels and determine weather patterns to better prepare the crops. Although this wasn’t directly related to my paper concerning technology that produces food, it still provided an abundance of information.

  1. Shontell, A. (2016, June 28). A Brooklyn startup that’s armed with $40 million is growing real leather in a lab without hurting a single animal. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/modern-meadow-lab-grown-leather-2016-6

Background: This article is based off of a company who is growing leather in a lab without harming any animals. It grows leather using skin cells that produce collagen, which over the course of a few weeks turns into leather.

How I used it: This article showed me how 3D food printing could play a massive role in the future if food technology. The company stated how it is looking towards developing a way to print meatless meat, which would not only reduce carbon emissions but open a whole new door for vegetarians and the meat industry. This provided me with a great example of how food technology is working towards aiding the environment and decreased animal slaughter.

  1. Phillips, T. (2018, August 26). How Has Food Biotechnology Changed What We Eat? Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/food-biotechnology-375627

Background: This article gave a lot of insight on the different ways in which biotech foods are solving a variety of issues in the world. It focused on biotech’s roles in aiding the environment, human health, and reducing waste.

How I used it: This article provided me with a few points I was able to address that demonstrate how biotech foods are here to help. It displayed how scientists are modifying crops to have increased nutritional value, such as tomatoes made to have high levels of lycopene, which could help lower cholesterol levels, or how vegetable oils are being modified to contain less fatty acids that clog arteries.

  1. Manager, C. (2017, May 15). GMOs & The Environment. Retrieved from https://gmoanswers.com/gmos-environment

Background: This article discussed an abundance of ways in which GMOs are actually coming to the aid of the environment. It emphasizes how gmo foods require less land than organic foods and produce a greater yield. It provided the astonishing statistic that, “Between 1996 and 2015, crop biotechnology was responsible for an additional 180.3 million tons of soybeans, 357.7 million tons of corn, 25.2 million tons of cotton lint and 10.6 million tons of canola, without having to bring more land into production.”

How I used it: This article came to my benefit when discussing how GMO foods help the environment. Because GMO foods require less land and produce a greater yield, a variety of benefits come along with it such as reduced tractor carbon emissions and conserving water and pesticides.

10. Haspel, T. (2014, October 27). The GMO debate: 5 things to stop arguing. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/the-gmo-debate-5-things-to-stop-arguing/2014/10/27/e82bbc10-5a3e-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html?utm_term=.0685b16218f7

Background: This article debunked a few of the major misconceptions around GMOs. It focuses on areas such as GMOs’ affect on health, their safety, who they affect, and people’s premises for being for/against GMOs.

How I used it: This article gave me a better understanding how unlikely it is that GMOs may pose as a threat to human health. Even after one study looked at the health data of over 100 billion found no difference in the animals’ health after switching from non-GMO to GMO feed. It also discusses the argument that GMOs only benefit big agriculture businesses, which is proven to be very untrue considering GMOs are being made to help the human population in general from providing greater health benefits and environment-friendly techniques.

11. GMO Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.nongmoproject.org/gmo-facts/

Background: This brief piece comes from the Non-Gmo Project’s website. It discusses what a GMO is, its safety, and impact on the environment. It additionally addresses the countries in which GMOs are labeled and some of their major impacts.

How I used it: This source proved to be a good reference of some of the negative effects of GMOs which I could later try to refute in my refutation essay. Some of the major points it discussed is how many GMOs have been modified to resist herbicides, causing an increase in herbicide spraying or how some crops are responsible for creating bugs that can now only be killed by very strong chemicals. It showed a new side to GMOs that I was not originally exposed to.

12. What Are the benefits of GMOs, Both Today and in the Future? (n.d.). Retrieved October 31, 2018, from http://www.fooddialogues.com/article/benefits-gmos-today-future/

Background: In this article, it discusses the benefits of GMOs for both the producers and consumers, which additionally include benefits to the environment and the future of GMOs. Some of these benefits include decreased water use, crop drought and disease resistance, and enhanced nutrients.

How I used it: This article showed me how GMOs can be beneficial in a variety of areas, for both now and the future. It allowed me to better understand its benefits in these areas, such as produce being engineered to resist bruising and browning, which could also reduce a great amount of food waste. It even gave an insight to the future behind GMOs, as it even discussed how scientists are looking to produce a hypoallergenic peanut, which could be the start of a new palette for restricted eaters.

13. ModernAg. (2018, October 18). Searching for the Same Solution. Retrieved from https://modernag.org/innovation/gmo-solutions-benefit-environment/

Background: In this article, it addresses the many ways in which GMOs are helping the environment. These include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, keeping crops immune from disease, and helping those in developing nations

How I used it: This article exposed me to some environmental benefits of GMOs that I had not previously heard of. One major point was how GMOs are helping more than just Americans. In South Africa, GM corn was the source of increased yields, income, and eliminated the need for labor intensive exercises.

14. Fucile, Q. (2015, April 02). Is Genetically Modified Food Safe? Retrieved from http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/5299/20150402/is-genetically-modified-food-safe.htm

Background: This article discusses the safety and benefits behind GM foods. It claims how GMOs are time and time again proven safe for human consumption, and would most likely only have a negative affect on our health if food somehow produced a protein that was toxic to humans.

How I used it: One particular thing I found interesting that this article showed me is GMOs impact on biodiversity. This was discussed in the article after it claimed that some crops are being engineered so that they only kill bugs and insects that try to actively feed on the crop and protecting other species since the crops no longer have to be sprayed with pesticides since its built into their genes.

  1. Gasparro, A., & Newman, J. (2018, October 03). Six Technologies That Could Shake the Food World. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/six-technologies-that-could-shake-the-food-world-1538532480?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=4

Background: In this article, it discusses different biotech foods that are being developed to reduce food waste or machines that allow you 3D print food to your exact taste. This would allow people to take control of their diet like never before and make foods with the exact measurements and ingredients that they crave.

How I used it: This article exposed me to new technologies being created regarded the food industry that I had never heard of before. One subject that really drew in my attention was how an algae grown in the small pools in deserts could be a new source for food growth. This land that has been unused for years can now be put to use to grow this algae, which is rich in nutrients and being incorporated in a variety of foods.

PTSD Claims- AlpacaQueen

A. Brannan Vines has never been to war, but her husband, Caleb, was sent to Iraq twice, where he served in the infantry as a designated marksman. He’s one of 103,200, or 228,875, or 336,000 Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and came back with PTSD, depending on whom you ask, and one of 115,000 to 456,000 with traumatic brain injury.

  1. This is a quantitative numerical claim. There is not enough information provided to prove that credibility of Caleb’s place among some several hundred thousand other PTSD and traumatic brain injury sufferers.
  2. “Served” in Iraq or Afghanistan covers a broad spectrum of people. Not everyone who served fought directly in battle or experienced the same degree of trauma.
  3. Why do these statistics have such a large deviation of error? 1 in 103,200 Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and came back with PTSD is a lot different than 1 in 336,000, along with the numbers for traumatic brain injury. It seems a little unprofessional to throw around numbers with deviations of almost 200,000 when your dealing with an issue this serious.
  4. Who does the author mean when they state, “Depending on whom you ask?” A person on the street could make up the number 336,000 Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan came back with PTSD.

B. Now, he’s rounder, heavier, bearded, and long-haired, obviously tough even if he weren’t prone to wearing a COMBAT INFANTRYMAN cap, but still not the guy you picture when you see his “Disabled Veteran” license plates. Not the old ‘Nam guy with a limp, or maybe the young legless Iraq survivor, that you’d expect.

5. This is an analogy claim. The author compares Caleb to an old Vietnam soldier or a young legless Iraq survivor.

6. This claim can be very controversial. According to the author, Caleb’s round, tough appearance isn’t what most people see when they think of “Disabled Veteran.” By using colloquial terms such as, “Old ‘Nam guy with a limp,” and saying “that you’d expect,” the author assumes that her audience is predisposed to looking at disabled veterans in a certain light.

C. “Somebody at the VA told me, ‘Kids in Congo and Uganda don’t have PTSD,’” Caleb tells me angrily one day.

7. This is an evaluative claim. In this text, the author is evaluating Caleb’s response after he, too, evaluated someone’s extremely vague factual claim. It looks as though the VA is to blame for this interjection to make Caleb’s PTSD appear inexcusable.

8. “Somebody at the VA” makes readers assume the person stating this claim to combat Caleb’s PTSD is directly related to the VA’s administration. In this case, “somebody” could have just been a irritable passerby in the clinic.

9. There is unfortunately no way for readers to tell that Caleb was in fact angry when telling this information. Instead of stating that Caleb “seemed angered” when telling this information, she jumps to the conclusion that Caleb was in fact mad upon hearing this statement.

D. He wasn’t diagnosed for years after he got back, despite Brannan’s frantic phone calls to the VA begging for tests, since her husband, formerly a high-scoring civil-engineering major at Auburn University, was asking her to help him do simple division.

10. This is an moral/ evaluative claim. The blame is placed on the VA in this scenario and their inability to test Caleb.

11. “Years” after Caleb got back could have been two years or eight, as a specific time is not given.

12. “Phone calls to the VA begging for tests” again could have been two phone calls or eighty. These calls could have been made over the course of three years or three days. “Begging” could have been a repeated request or an extremely vocal cry for help.

 

Stone Money- AlpacaQueen

P1. Whether we like it or not, money plays a significant role in our lives. Maybe not that familiar green piece of paper that we’ve all seen, but more-so the construct of currency we’ve established as a society. It lies in that small printed number on the side of your paycheck, in the square metallic chip on your credit card, it’s what allows you to put a roof over your head, a meal in your stomach, and keeps you up at night. And after all this research I’ve realized that the funniest part is that a large majority of the time we don’t even see it.

P2. So why is it that we allow this idea, this intangible value, to dictate our lives? Milton Friedman offered a new perspective on this concept in his piece titled, “The Island of Stone Money”, where he described the native’s monetary system. The island of Yap, located in Micronesia in the early 1900’s, used a form of currency like no other. With no precious metals to be found on the island, the population resorted to limestone, which often required as much labor to acquire as gold would have. What’s interesting about this form of currency is that these stones did not come in small, easily-exchangeable pieces, but instead took the form of massive discs with an opening in the center. When one wanted to exchange the stone for something such as a home, the seller would simply acknowledge that the disc now belonged to them, as did the rest of the civilization. There was no need for a physical exchange of the stone from the hands of one man to another, it was plainly known that the rock now lied in the hands of a new owner. This unorthodox transaction is later demonstrated when a group attempted to retrieve a stone disc from an island miles away. Although on the voyage home the stone accidentally sank to the bottom of the sea a few miles from Yap, the islanders still accepted the value of the stone as if the crew had brought it before their very eyes. Now you might not be able to walk into Target and claim that your $200 dollar balance is waiting for them at the bottom of the ocean, but I think there’s still a lesson to be learned here. The villagers did not need to see the stone to know that it still existed, just as we don’t see every dollar of our earnings when we receive a check.

P3. Broadcast journalists at NPR radio took this story behind the people of Yap and expanded it to a more modern day scenario. Beginning in the 1950’s, Brazil had been dealing with massive amounts of inflation. Presidents had tried everything from price freezing to restricting people from moving money in their bank. In either instance, merchandisers would hide their products from the public until the freeze broke, or locals became furious at the thought of their money being held captive in the bank. Eventually, in 1993 Brazil’s finance minister turned to economist Edman Bacha for an answer. Bacha knew if he was going to be able to fix this economy, he would need to renew the people’s faith in money, he would have to keep them believing in that rock lying at the bottom of the ocean. He and his friends proposed a plan they had been working on for years, a plan that was unheard of by the means of the finance minister: create a virtual currency. Instead of using the constantly changing Brazilian real, there would now be the URV. Slowly but surely Bacha integrated this new currency into the lives of Brazilians. Taxes, prices, and checks were delivered out in URV dollars. Milk that used to vary in price from two to five to ten reals was now shown as just one URV. When locals began correlating the URV prices with the amount of URV’s they were being paid, they became quite comfortable with seeing an ever-constant 1 URV dollar milk. Soon the people of Brazil had no problem in adopting this form of currency into their lives. That sense of financial stability was returned to them, and surely enough, inflation rates decreased dramatically.

P4. So how do these anecdotes apply to the ever-changing definition of money today? What if we took virtual currency to the next level? Well, that’s where companies like BitCoin come in. Jeff Reeves, a columnist on the website Market Watch, gave me some insight on the dangers of taking this loose concept of money and making it a little too abstract. Bitcoin is a marketplace that seems to take pride in its unconventional system, lacking a central bank or any kind of administration that could make its currency a little more credible. Because of this, who knows how many people will still exchange these “bitcoins” as currency before they start to realize how unstable it really is. In addition, although Bitcoin promises no extra costs for transactions, it’s all anonymous. It seems everything is becoming a little too vague at this point. So soon enough, my virtually anonymous currency will be anonymously transferred and possibly hacked by an anonymous user that I can’t trace? It’s no wonder this marketplace has had such a large number of people declining Bitcoin. Although some see Bitcoin as a rough draft of what could be the next step in virtual monetary evolution, if anything becomes more abstract than it is already I might have to resort back to hiding money under my bed. 

P5. So that brings me back to my original question, why do we as a society allow this intangible value called money, or URV’s, or bitcoins, or limestone discs at the bottom of the ocean, dictate our lives? The answer is simply because we believe that it does. People only find value in acquiring payment because they know they can easily get rid of it for something of real value. In a way, currency is almost like Santa Claus. It is only as valuable is its users believe it is. The magic goes away when the consumers stop believing.

 

References

Glass, I., Joffe-Walt, C., Blumberg, A., & Kestenbaum, D. (2011, January 7). The Invention of Money [Audio blog post]. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www.thisamericanlife.org/423/the-invention-of-money

Friedman, M. (n.d.). The Island of Stone Money (Working paper). Stanford University: The Hoover Institution. February 1991. https://counterintuitive2015.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/stonemoneyessay.pdf

Reeves, J. (2015, January 31). Bitcoin has no place in your – or any – portfolio. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/bitcoin-has-no-place-in-any-portfolio-2015-01-28

 

 

 

Summaries- Alpacaqueen

Do Toms Shoes Really Help People?

It seems counterintuitive that a company whose promise lies in helping others could actually be doing the complete opposite. Toms, an American shoe and eyewear company, has been attempting to provide people with shoes in developing countries for over ten years.

Toms take pride in their “buy one, give one” mantra, as do the the people who purchase them. The company is able to put a label to their good-doings and the consumers are able to feel as though they are adequately making a difference in this world. However, this form of aid is actually far from beneficial to the overall well-being of the nations in need.

When it comes to vital necessities that these countries lack, shoes seem to be far down on the list. In fact, most of the children being provided with Toms already own a pair of shoes. Instead of putting donations toward a variety of things such as food and infrastructure, these countries are being bombarded with more of the same item. Not only this, but like many “one for one” companies, Toms is generating an overwhelming surplus of product creating competition with local sellers who simply can’t keep up.

Although Toms seems to revolve around serving developing countries, its lack of detail leaves the buyer without a clear sense of what their purchase is going towards. Ultimately, Toms cut and dry “buy one, give one” policy is about as informative as it is effective.

Examining Humane Food Labels

It seems counterintuitive that produce labels marked as humane can serve as an indication of how poorly those animals are actually being treated. Across America, consumers are being bombarded with an assortment of food labels. And although these may ease the consumers mind to know their chicken is “all-natural”, these trademarks can be far from truthful.

Companies everywhere are manufacturing labels in hopes of convincing their customers that their livestock are treated with respect. The keyword here is “convince”. While these labels may seem entirely legitimate, these industries stipulate their own sets of guidelines and rarely receive an audit from an independent third-party. This allows them to stamp products as “humane” and “cage-free” while their animals remain mistreated in numerous other ways.

However, hope is not entirely lost on the quest to modify these malpractices. A number of inspection companies have been made readily available to farms, some even free of charge. For example, the Animal Welfare Approved agency holds high standards in making sure animals are given enough space and have lower slaughter rates. Nevertheless, practices like these are responsible for less than one-thousandth of a percent of these animals.

In the end, while those “all-natural, cage-free” eggs seem like the best move, you may want to look deeper into what lies behind the label.

A Deadly Shower?

It seems counterintuitive that the daily routines built into our subconscious are more likely to kill than the dangers we’re quick to imagine. Many people believe that actions such as plane crashes or active shooters are the largest threat to our everyday lives. However, you would be surprised to learn that it is the little things that are the real hidden killers.

Things that are beyond our control such as a derailed train ride or unexpected earthquake might make up the average person’s nightmares. In reality, the actions that make up your day to day regimen such as taking a shower have a much greater impact on your life. The level of threat these actions pose may be small, but when multiplied by the number of times they are performed, the likelihood of injury soars.

This does not necessarily mean one should completely reshape their normal habits, but instead simply pay more attention to situations they may have become too comfortable with.  As a result of being exposed to these risk factors so frequently, one becomes immune to them, such as driving on a wet road. We’ve all heard of, and even experienced, minor incidents accompanied by activities such as these, yet our mind remains on auto-pilot.

Sooner or later, after years of everyday practice, that small risk factor adds up until suddenly you become the not-so-tiny statistic. After all, sometimes the things we’ve become most familiarized with can actually lead to our downfall.