As the world population continues to grow in size, issues in food growth and distribution arise. Simply focusing on the issue of food growth, all efforts must be made to produce the highest yields as possible in the arable land we currently use. Doing this allows for more efficient farming, and avoids destructive deforestation that decimates biodiversity and the natural carbon capture that our forests and jungles provide. To maximize yields on our current farmland, GMOs must be used responsibly. While GMOs do assist in higher yields, they also come with additional responsibilities to the farmer. Round-Up Ready seed usually requires specific herbicides-chemicals that are currently being investigated as a carcinogen-to be sprayed to eliminate crowding by weeds. The farmer, seed manufacturer, and herbicide manufacturer must all be responsible for the dangers to human health, as well as avoiding resistance among weed populations. GMOs then may seem to be a much more labor intensive option than simple organic farming. However, when used correctly, GMOs are the only way forward to feed our ever growing population.
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Vaccinations have been a major advancement in public health, saving countless lives from diseases that once devastated populations. So how has this marvel of modern medicine become such a controversial topic of today's society? How have vaccines gone from life-saving preventative medicine to autism inducing, heavy metal dumping poison shots? People may claim it started with Jenny McCarthy, who cited fraudulent research compiled by ex-physician Andrew Wakefield. That may be a factor, certainly, but the issues are much deeper. The truth is that people simply do not trust conventional medicine anymore. This could be due to many facets of medicine today, such as large government oversight, consolidation of drug companies, or just hesitation to blindly trust medical professionals. It may be easy to simply brandish these vaccine deniers as uneducated, but that simply isn't the case. The fact is that there is a lot of complex chemistry and biology that one must comprehend fully to truly understand the efficacy of vaccines. I believe that every American should have a better understanding of public health, and that includes vaccines. A college or high school requirement of basic public health would, I believe, ease this distrust of conventional medicine and allow people to see the benefits of vaccines and proper preventative care.
I woke up to the sound of my alarm. I quickly reached below my lofted bed to my desk and turned off the phone alarm, since my roomate was still sleeping. I got out of bed and turned on my coffee maker that I had prepped the night before. While the coffee maker was brewing, I showered and dressed, then sat down at my desk to review some last minute work before heading to class. I looked at the weather before I left, and put on a sweater since it appeared to be a bit cold out. I walked to my first class-history 264 in Herter Hall. After class, I ate breakfast at Worcester and returned to my room, and then worked on a paragraph for biology 312.
- Walk to Herter
- Walk to breakfast
- Return to room
- Schoolwork before history
- Paragraph before 312
As a student at UMass Amherst, the sprawling campus and variety of buildings assigned per class requires a decent amount of travel. Just this morning, my day began walking from my dorm room in the northeast residential area to Herter Hall, about a 15 minute walk across campus. After this class had finished, I walked to Worcester dining commons, located fairly close to my dorm. After this, I walked from the dining common to my room. I remained in my room for several hours until it was time for my next class. From my dorm room I walked to Morrill III, where I am currently located. My life as a UMass Amherst student is full of walking on any given day, and I will be walking much more over the remaining year.
The pharmaceutical industry is often vilified in today's society as greedy, cold, and evil. Of course, simply looking at prices of drugs can reinforce this thought. These are life-saving medications, after all, and clearly people aren't able to afford these outrageous costs. To properly understand this pricing absurdity, it is crucial to also understand the process of drug approval by the FDA. The FDA rightfully mandates that drugs go through stages of development-referred as the pipeline in the industry-to ensure efficacy, safety, and reproducibility. Throughout the journey of identification, R&D, and clinical trials, the cost to bring a drug successfully to market is around $2.6 billion. In addition to this, only ~12% of drugs that are presented to the FDA for clinical development are approved. Just this year, only 26 drugs have been approved. Considering the number of drug companies throughout the United States, this number is extremely low. It is only logical that with such a market that these drug companies are forced into, prices of drugs that are actually approved need to be as high as possible to ensure profitability. Instead of the rhetoric heard around the country today that vilifies big pharma, maybe the conversation should be shifted to the broken healthcare system that encourages this kind of behavior in the first place.
The CRISPR-Cas9 system of gene editing seems to be quite a promising treatment for genetic disorders among humans. There are still many roadblocks in the way of this method becoming an actual treatment method anytime soon. Firstly, the accuracy of affected DNA sequences is not entirely precise. Off target edits utilizing CRISPR-Cas9 have plummeted, certainly, but are still not accurate enough for actual human treatment. Additionally, new research has shown that the human body initiates immune responses towards Cas9. This greatly lowers the efficacy of CRISPR-Cas9 treatment, and may delay this treatment's entry into medical treatment even further. With all the fervor currently about this method of gene editing, it is important to assess the challenges associated with CRISPR-Cas9 and to ensure that these treatments are safe and effective when brought to market.
The pharmaceutcal industry is a very widely hated industry among Americans, as they are seen as greedy, evil, and heartless organizations hell bent on making the biggest prophet they can. And while yes, it is true that these copanies are simply in the business for profitability and their responsibilities to investors and shareholders, there are some justifications for the seemingly outrageous pricing of drugs-in the context of the American healthcare system at least. To bring a single drug to market, through all the trials and tests mandated by the FDA, costs around $2.7 billion. Pharmaceutcial companies are not at liberty to be generous, philanthropic, or kind-hearted in this kind of a cut-throat market that the current system has imposed. If we truly want change in the pharmaceutical space, we need to have a real discussion on what we can change about the current healthcare systems, not pointing fingers at the companies themselves.
"Oh I bet they have the cure for cancer, they just don't want to relesase it because it's much more lucrative to treat it instead." I have heard some variation of this comment from friends, family, and strangers too many times to count. As someone who has had family members affected by cancer, this comment is not only ill-informed, but extremely hurtful. My experience with cancer was one of the factors that led me to persue a career in oncology. Now, in my educational career, I have learned extensively of the true nature of this terrible disease-it's an incredibly individual illness. The approach that seems to be the most promising revolves around identifying particular membrane-bound identifiers of cancer and attacking it via the body's immune system. The cure for cancer is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but requires individulized medicine. The more I research cancer and study its identifiers, the more and more complex a cure for even a single type of cancer becomes. If more people knew how varied cancer truly is and how difficult it is to even isolate a cancer cell from normal body cells, I believe this whole medical conspiracy wouldn't have any legs to stand on.
Artificial intelligence is a topic of discussion throughout the country. Blue collar workers and some white collar workers are equally terrified of this prospect, as many jobs are in line to be completely automated away. These at-risk jobs are varied, from truck driving and warehouse work to low level law and accounting. While it is true that AI could change the landscape of our current work environment, it can also assist us in medicine, genomics, and even crop improvement in agriculture. Neural networks have an extraordinary ability to process and analyze extremely large data sets; such as the human genome. In doing so, AI has the ability to make connections, reccomendations, and even diagonse efficiently. AI will shift the labor market, that is for certain. But with the proper response from policymakers, with plans in place to protect workers most vulnerable of these labor shifts, AI can prove to be a tool that can benefit all of humanity.
In the analysis of the plant sample given, several observations can be made. Firstly, the sample appears to be a compound leaf structure. The compound leaf is composed of two horizontal leaves and one larger vertical leaf, all originating out of a single junction point on the stem. Upon initial observation of the stem itself, it appears to have a reddish hue that changes with intensity throughout the compound leaf structure. From the cut point on the stem, it is faintly red in color. Then, directly after the junction point of the three leaves, it sharply intensifies in this red hue, then quickly fades upon traveling into the leaf itself. Other observations of color can be made as well. In all three leaves, there are spots of brown discoloration, presumably dead cells, that are located more towards the edge of the leaf. In the left horizontal leaf on this particular sample, however, there is a larger pattern of dead cells more towards the center of the leaf. The brown discoloration appears to be a snake-like structure, possible the result of some kind of parasitic larva that uses the plant as a host during its early development. Additionally, there is a semi-waxy coating to the top of the leaf, giving the leaf a dark green appearance and presumably assisting in protection of the leaf and unwanted, rapid water loss. Through this coating, the plant's vascular system is visible, with vein-like structures reaching across the leaf and back into the central stem. There is a certain symmetry in the entire compound leaf structure itself, though not in the leaves individually. The larger vertical leaf is symmetrical, with 5 ridges at the tip of the leaf. Both side leaves, however, are not symmetrical. Each have 3 ridges on the south side of the leaf, but to the north there are no ridges whatsoever.
In the analysis of the plant sample given, several observations can be made. Firstly, the sample appears to be a compound leaf structure. The compound leaf is composed of two horizontal leaves and one larger vertical leaf, all originating out of a single junction point on the stem. Upon initial observation of the stem itself, it appears to have a reddish hue that changes with intensity throughout the compound leaf structure. From the cut point on the stem, it is faintly red in color. Then, directly after the junction point of the three leaves, it sharply intensifies in this red hue, then quickly fades upon traveling into the leaf itself. Other observations of color can be made as well. In all three leaves, there are spots of brown discoloration, presumably dead cells, that are located more towards the edge of the leaf. In the left horizontal leaf on this particular sample, however, there is a larger pattern of dead cells more towards the center of the leaf. The brown discoloration appears to be a snake-like structure, possible the result of some kind of parasitic larva that uses the plant as a host during its early development. Additionally, there is a semi-waxy coating to the top of the leaf, giving the leaf a dark green appearance and presumably assisting in protection of the leaf and unwanted rapid water loss. Through this coating, the plant's vascular system is visible, with vein-like structures reaching across the leaf and back into the central stem.