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  #1   ^
Old Sat, May-15-04, 18:29
PacNW PacNW is offline
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Plan: Atkins
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Default Low Carb Corn/Genetically Modified--Egads

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/serv...SS15/TPScience/

s it possible to grow low-carb corn? Yes . . . but

By STEPHEN STRAUSS

UPDATED AT 8:30 PM EDT Saturday, May. 15, 2004

One of the more curious things about agricultural biotechnology is that it seems to be riddled with yes . . . buts.

A "yes" appeared this week when crop scientists from the University of California at Riverside announced that they have created a genetically engineered corn that has half the usual amount of carbohydrates and double the fat and protein.

The cut in carbohydrates holds out the possibility that a sweet corn might one day appear in supermarkets that devotees of the Atkins diet will be able to roast and savour. If you move the corn out of the developed world, with its continuing obsession with obesity, the high protein and fat content might make the modified corn a perfect candidate to be grown in countries where protein deficiency is a major nutritional issue.

Whether the GM corn has a high enough yield and sufficient milling qualities to compete with traditional corn remains to be seen. But even as the positive news was being announced, a potentially big negative was being uttered by others. Researchers in Arizona reported that pollen from genetically modified corn cross-fertilized non-GM corn as far away as 31 metres. Present regulations that try to limit the spread of genetically modified corn to its non-modified cousins had assumed that you could plant crops four metres apart with minimal cross-fertilization.

This means that if farmers say "yes" to growing a type of GM corn many consumers would probably line up to buy, they have to say in the next breath: "But this may cause havoc with my existing planting operations."

In the news

Microbes are apparently the Frank Lloyd Wrights of the cave world. Researchers in the United States have found that sulphuric acid given off by the tiny creatures dissolves rocks and in so doing produces the majestic grottos and rock formations seen in the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and the Frassasi Caves in Italy.

In more bug news, Russian scientists have been able to modify the E. coli bacterium so that it produces the cobra's poison. This means that they can produce a large supply of the venom, making a detailed study of its effects much easier.

Update

We described last week a contest to find the world's greatest equation. Canadian entries have been flooding in to American philosopher of science Robert Crease at rcrease~notes.cc.sunysb.eduand.

He says they have made an early leader of mathematician Leonhard Euler's notation that e {+(}{+i} {+p}{+i}{+)} + 1 = 0. What the equation means and why it is important is hard to explain in a small amount of space, so we refer you to www.rattlesnake.com/notions/math-metaphor.html for a clearer idea of why your fellow citizens are so up for Euler.

On the Web

As you may be aware, one of nature's more remarkable occurrences is going on this month as the largest group of periodic cicadas make their once-in-17-year appearance in the Eastern United States and Canada.

While a vision of the ground carpeted with noisy insects may be a delight for amateur biologists, others have been putting their minds to the problem of what to do about the bug invasion. Their solution: Do what Australian Aborigines, New Guineans and the Japanese do: Eat them while the eating is good.

At http://www.urhome.umd.edu/newsdesk/scitech/cicadas.cfm, there is a whole host of bug-eating lore, cooking instructions and wondrous recipes. The big health thing to keep in mind is that the insects need to be boiled for five minutes to kill the bacteria in their guts. Once that is done, get ready for cicada dumplings, cicada stir fries, chocolate-covered cicadas or cicada-rhubarb pie.

Who said cooking isn't an exciting, if gut-wrenching, science?
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  #2   ^
Old Sat, May-15-04, 20:15
DebPenny's Avatar
DebPenny DebPenny is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by PacNW
If you move the corn out of the developed world, with its continuing obsession with obesity, the high protein and fat content might make the modified corn a perfect candidate to be grown in countries where protein deficiency is a major nutritional issue.


The problem is that the protein in corn is incomplete. So no matter how much is in there, it won't cure anyone's protein deficiency without proper combining, which is also iffy as to whether it works or not. Soy is the only vegetable-based source of protein that comes anywhere near to a complete protein and even it is not complete.

I have an Excel spreadsheet of my most commonly eaten foods and their nutrition. In the vegetables section, I don't even include the protein counts. They only add calories as far as I'm concerned.
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