A new medical study on the impacts of genetically modified foods, shows that toxins from GM crops designed to strike down pests are actually showing up in the bloodstreams of women and unborn babies.
The new study, "Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada" by Aziz Aris and Samuel Leblanc with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, at the University of Sherbrooke Hospital Centre in Quebec, Canada, brings to light many of the fears that GMO food awareness groups and writers like our own April Scott, have been attempting to illuminate to the public.
The results of the study show that 93 per cent of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80 percent of samples taken from umbilical cords, tested positive for traces of the chemicals.
A couple years ago Tim O’Reilly invited a Web 2.0 expo audience to "stop throwing sheep" and start doing something worthwhile. More recently, a post with the title America Lacks Meaningful Innovation went so far as to question the ability and willingness of American companies (particularly web companies) to be innovative.
Nearly three years on and today we’re throwing birds instead of sheep. Damn angry ones for that matter. Nevertheless, the point could be made that we’re still throwing animals instead of doing something supposedly worthwhile (as a typical web startup isn’t exactly revolutionizing health care, the energy industry, the environment, or other highly important areas for the future of civilization).
It could be argued however that entertainment is an important part of life. Granted entertainment doesn’t do anything as necessary and urgent as curing cancer, but it isn’t as though the expectation that every entrepreneur should focus on such a noble and almost unattainable problem is there either. Furthermore, innovation can - and does - happen even in places where you don’t expect it.
Take gender diversity, for one thing. By most counts, the average open source project has 49 male participants for every female participant. Women at conferences - rare enough already! - are assumed to be significant others, designers or visitors from planet marketing, with disastrous consequences for all involved.
This is a problem, for lots of reasons. The worst is that it’s self-perpetuating - women will (wisely!) avoid hostile environments, and through some broken-window-like mechanism, environments without women will quickly become environments that are hostile to women. (The same holds for other visible minorities.)
In discussions about "how to fix this", community leaders often appear to be at a loss, unsure how to progress. Their early efforts are often met by criticism on both sides - techies have a strong libertarian streak that tilts at all sorts of windmills, and the women who do "blaze trails" aren’t always much better than the men. (In fields like physics, chemistry and finance - fields dominated by men for ages - which are, these days, however, beating our numbers by a wide margin - the first generation of women to brave the hostilities and pierce the glass ceiling are often later generations’ harshest critics. "What? You want to have a career and a family? I didn’t have that option. Why should you? You’ll need to learn to drink scotch and smoke cigars like I did, or you’re through.")
If Prince William and Kate Middleton were Linux fans they would have done their ceremony differently… please! Click here to read about it.
What worries me instead are the folks who engage in angry discourse that is often based on mis-information, or worse, an immediate assumption that there is malice or ill-will driving the person they disagree with. When did we become so argumentative and mis-trusting? One of the things that attracted me to Open Source when I got involved was the addictive feeling of being surrounded by a community of people with the best intentions in the world. I would meet people who would open their homes up to strangers for Linux User Group meetings, those who would contribute to projects because they like the idea of their work helping others, and within this ecosystem there was an assumption that the organizations who thrive in it have good intentions too. No-one ever questioned Red Hat’s ambitions, or Caldera’s, or Mandrake’s, no-one batted an eye-lid at VA, the humble Linux Emporium, or Loki games.
Today it seems our community is more suspicious than it was, and while there have always been folks on the fringes who assume mal-intent first and engage in rowdy arguments, it worries me that we are seeing more folks like this. What worries me is that this behavior (a) makes the Open Source community look like a group of petulant teenagers, and (b) more worryingly, discourages others from joining our community to help us bring freedom to others because frankly, they don’t want to wake up to a fight every day online.
David Muchow, the President and CEO of SkyBuilt Power, shared an article of his with me in which he lays out his vision of how the U.S. can foster green innovation.
Entitled "How to Bake the Green Technology Cake: The Missing Key to Technology Innovation," the article analogizes the process of getting an invention from conception to marketplace to that of baking a cake.
For small inventors, in particular, Muchow observes that the necessary ingredients are scattered, the cook takes too long, and oftentimes there’s no oven. So he lays out three steps for baking the "innovation cake."
The Ingredients: According to the article, the necessary ingredients - funding, legal advice, business advice, industry knowledge, customers - have to be collected from many different sources.