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November 07, 2011

75% of honey sold in America isn't really honey

And it's probably tainted with Chinese antibiotics or Indian toxic waste. Fun! Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey
More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News. The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey." The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies. . . . In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen. Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey - some containing illegal antibiotics - on the U.S. market for years. Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

November 06, 2011

Red lasers and green tea might fight Alzheimer's plaque

Green tea and red laser attack Alzheimer's plaques - health - 05 November 2011 - New Scientist
IT MAY sound like a strange brew, but green tea and red light could provide a novel treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Together, the two can destroy the rogue "plaques" that crowd the brains of people with the disease. The light makes it easier for the green-tea extract to get to work on the plaques. Andrei Sommer at the University of Ulm in Germany, and colleagues, have previously used red light with a wavelength of 670 nanometres to transport cancer drugs into cells. The laser light pushes water out of the cells and when the laser is switched off, the cells "suck in" water and any other molecules, including drugs, from their surroundings. Now, Sommer's team have found that the same technique can be used to destroy the beta-amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's. These plaques consist of abnormally folded peptides, and are thought to disrupt communication between nerve cells, leading to loss of memory and other symptoms. The team bathed brain cells containing beta-amyloid in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) - a green-tea extract known to have beta-amyloid inhibiting properties - at the same time as stimulating the cells with red light. Beta-amyloid in the cells reduced by around 60 per cent. Shining the laser light alone onto cells reduced beta-amyloid by around 20 per cent (Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, DOI: 10.1089/pho.2011.3073). . . .

November 01, 2011

On the evolutionary advantage of cannibalism

Animal Cannibalism May Make Good Evolutionary Sense - NYTimes.com
There are males that demand to be cannibalized by their lovers and males that seek to avoid that fate by stopping midcourtship and hammily feigning rigor mortis. There are mother monkeys that act like hipster zombies, greeting unwanted offspring with a ghoulish demand for brains; and there are infant caecilians — limbless, soil-dwelling amphibians — that grow fat by repeatedly skinning their mother alive. In the past, animal cannibalism was considered accidental or pathological: Walk in on a mother rabbit giving birth, and the shock will prod her to eat her bunnies. Now scientists realize that cannibalism can sometimes make good evolutionary sense, and for each new example they seek to trace the selective forces behind it. Why do cane toad tadpoles cannibalize eggs? Researchers propose three motives. The practice speeds up maturation; it eliminates future rivals who, given a mother toad’s reproductive cycle, are almost certainly unrelated to you; and it means exploiting an abundant resource that others find toxic but to which you are immune. “We’re talking about a tropical animal that was relocated to one of the driest places on earth,” Dr. Shine said. “Cannibalism is one of those clever tricks that makes it such a superb colonizer and a survival machine.” . . .