GMO Feedback Galore; Microsoft’s Big Bet

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Never before has an article I’ve authored generated so much response – and much of it comprised of absolute vitriol spewed in half-sentences – as last week’s missive on genetically modified (GM) foods. In it, I strived to explain a little bit of the science behind GM foods: the difference between modern transgenic foods; the long, storied history of radioactive and chemical mutagenic experiments that so often get left out of the debate; and the latest sensationalistic headlines about the newest technology to manipulate plant genetics, RNAi.

I tried my best – the best that can be done in a few thousand words on any subject of such immense complexity – to walk the tightrope between the two sides of a heated debate, and not come down firmly in one court or another. After all, I certainly do not have some definitive answer to the complex question of whether or not there are long-term health effects from consuming GM foods. Thus, I for one am for the idea of labeling in concept – even as I pointed out in the article that it might just be cheaper to label the whole grocery store, since even much of the “organic” food we consume is the result of earlier generations of genetic meddling.

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The premise that one type of food or another is responsible for a public-health problem can be an incredibly vexing one even without layering on the GMO (genetically modified organism) factor. In my article I dismissed the defensive position of most-pro-GMO advocates that hybridization (AKA cross-breeding) is genetic meddling itself. After all, nature won’t let you hybridize a rhesus monkey and a firefly, as we’ve seen done in the lab.

However, take wheat for instance. What you eat today is not your grandparents’ wheat; it’s a dwarf hybrid that was bred for higher yield and ease of harvesting. Yet in so doing, plant scientists created a grain that is chemically different from the grain that sustained Western societies for thousands of years before it, and – because it interacts with the human body in new ways – some physicians are blaming the hybrid wheat for the modern, dramatic rise in celiac disease, diabetes, and obesity. If true – and following the same logic – one could argue that we’d need to label every loaf of bread, frozen pizza, and box of pancake mix. Wheat is frequently held out as a bastion of success without the need for genetic modification by critics of the process, but it has been subject to all sorts of processes other than precisely defin ed transgenics that have resulted in massive genetic change in a short period of time. According to the Wheat Belly blog:

“Modern wheat has been hybridized (crossing different strains to generate new characteristics; 5% of proteins generated in the offspring, for instance, are not present in either parent), backcrossed (repeated crossing to winnow out a specific trait, e.g., short stature), and hybridized with non-wheat plants (to introduce entirely unique genes). There are also chemical-, gamma-, and x-ray mutagenesis, i.e., the use of obnoxious stimuli to induce mutations that can then be propagated in offspring. This is how BASF’s Clearfield wheat was created, for example, by exposing the seeds and embryos to the industrial chemical, sodium azide, that is highly toxic to humans.”

Yet, despite my attempts to add some of this type of background to the debate, the response (not universally, of course, as I received a good number of helpful, informative, polite, and well-considered replies for which I am immensely thankful – I can only dream to be as well-read on the subject as some of you) included many requests for me to be disciplined, fired, or stoned to death. OK, I exaggerate a little on that last one. But among those threats was a vast treasure trove of information on GM foods, predominantly on the potential long-term health effects.

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While I question the science and sensationalism mix in some of the material, I think I would be remiss to not share a fair sampling of what I received. So below, please find some of the best comments, quibbles, and materials, directly from your fellow subscribers’ keyboards.

But first, Doug Hornig takes you on a tour of the “launch heard ’round the block,” Windows 8. Microsoft is betting the farm on a host of new hybrid devices which blend the tablet with the traditional mouse and PC. However, amid the cacophony of the presidential election and a smokescreen of additional noise from worried competitors like Apple and Google – which timed their own launches for the moments before Windows 8′s big debut – it could have easily been missed by many. Still, the arrival of a radical new operating system is likely to determine the fortunes of the behemoth from Redmond for some time to come, and so we take you through what the launch had to offer – and some of the nagging questions it all left hanging open for investors.

With that, I bid you, dear readers, healthy snacking.


Alex Daley
Chief Technology Investment Strategist
Casey Research


Windows 8 Blasts Off

By Doug Hornig, Senior Editor

Recent days have seen a blizzard of Microsoft-related activity, as a host of new products has blanketed the marketplace.

First and foremost: the release of Windows 8, the most radical change in MS’s flagship operating system in 17 years. The Redmond behemoth wants you to switch over, and fast. If you don’t want to swap your old computer for one with the new OS pre-installed, the company has put an attractive $39.99 price out there for an in-place, downloadable upgrade (or $69.99 if you want a disc mailed).

The big news is, of course, that Windows 8 was designed to be compatible across all devices, from laptops and desktops to tablets to phones. It’s touchscreen ready. It fits neatly into the new trend to junk single-platform OSes and to replace them with computing “ecosystems” (Microsoft used officers from its aptly named Planning and PC Ecosystem Team to introduce the company’s new Surface tablet), and is designed to cater to the modern consumer’s desire for an interconnected series of machines that mostly run tightly packaged “apps” in the sandbox style that Apple has made so famous on its iFamily of devices.

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If you’re the experimental type (like Alex, who has been running it for months here at work) and want to upgrade your present desktop or laptop from XP or Win 7, there is some prep work to do beforehand. The folks at CNet have prepared a quick and easy guide to help out. Be aware that Windows 8 will keep most of your settings, personal files, and programs if you upgrade from Windows 7, but Vista and XP upgraders will have to reinstall programs and reconfigure settings from scratch.

Should you choose the download option, the first thing you’ll get will be a small preinstaller program that will run a quick compatibility check on your computer. It’ll tell you which of your programs will and will not work under Win 8, and let you know if you have to uninstall any of them. The preinstaller will walk you through the whole process. After letting you know what details will require your attention, it asks Windows 7 upgraders what they’d like to keep of their settings, apps, and personal files. Some software conflicts can be resolved without the need to uninstall.

After that, you’re ready to do the actual installation, which is a fairly painless process.

Still, most users will never upgrade their own devices. They’ll simply visit the local Costco or Best Buy and pick up a new one – and when they do, they might be in for a bit of a surprise.

Microsoft is making a rather sizeable bet that the number of people who want an OS with cross-platform convenience will vastly outnumber those who have no use for any of the new features that come with it, and who will probably be annoyed that the kind of display they’ve become accustomed to is gone.

Notably, PCs with the new OS installed will boot into the new Windows 8 touch-friendly “tiled” interface, which replaces the familiar Start menu and desktop; the OS offers no built-in way to set it to boot to the traditional Windows desktop.

Win 8 Start page

The screen is not a complete substitute for the old-fashioned desktop, which can still be accessed when running all those older programs still needed to get your work done. But the jarring switch back and forth between the tile-based interface with its new, “modern” design apps and the old desktop and taskbar, which confusingly only shows old-style applications running (there is a second task bar on the left side of the screen if you make the correct magic incantation with your finger or your mouse to show only new apps; but trusty old “Alt-Tab” combines them… sigh) may just be too much for some users to bear.

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Not only has the startup experience changed a lot, there’s much more you’ll need to know in order to get familiar with Win 8 – and that’s way beyond our purpose here. If you’re looking for a pretty readable, in-depth look at the nuances of the new OS, however, PCWorld has prepared a nice primer.

Our point is that the Win 8 launch has in turn launched a whole new product chain. Whichever direction Microsoft moves in, that’s the way that manufacturers which depend on Windows have always gone.

Of course, if you’re Microsoft, you could also bring your own, self-made devices to market. And that’s what the company has done with the simultaneous release of its new tablet, the Surface ($499), which might best be described as a tablet/laptop hybrid, with an attachable keyboard (+$100) to complement its touchscreen.

MS execs showing off the Surface, with and without its keyboard/lid accessory

The Surface will come with a stripped-down version of Win 8, called RT. (An MS tablet with more powerful Intel chips and full Win 8 installed will supposedly come in the future at a higher price, but that’s still in “rumor” territory.) Although such tablets will include the traditional desktop, you will have access to it only on a limited basis, to run preinstalled applications such as Office. You will not be able to install desktop programs; instead, RT tablets will focus on the Windows 8 apps you buy through Microsoft’s Store.

And here is the crux of what MS is up to. Taking a cue from the Apple playbook – that company enjoys a 30% profit margin on all those apps that sell in its marketplace – Microsoft is willing to sell the new OS for cheap when it’s landing in the hands of consumers, in the expectation that it will make much more on selling apps through its store than it loses by lowering the cost of entry. Higher-margin products and services, that’s the name of the game – and right now it’s all about the apps.

Naturally, the price of the OS doesn’t matter to folks who buy a device with Win 8 preinstalled, only to those who upgrade their machines from XP or 7 to 8. And frankly, those people are not going to move the needle much. Businesses and individuals who stick with their desktops and laptops will have scant need for most of what Win 8 offers. But MS sees app-happy mobile users as the future, and that’s whom they are taking dead aim at, dragging their loyal, longtime business customers behind them, kicking and screaming a little in the process. For the desktop and laptop crowd in need of an Excel fix, the company is happy to hand them a copy at full price, as everything is backward compatible, of course.

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Not everyone is convinced by this business model. Many of Microsoft’s OEM partners are already disgruntled about Redmond’s invasion of their space with its Surface and the upcoming Windows smartphone. Acer, for one, has publicly stated that it is holding off on producing any Windows RT products until it sees how well the Surface does in the market. (It does, however, have a higher-end Win 8 tablet – see below.)

But in general, device makers – completely dependent on Redmond to give them a fighting chance against the fruity juggernaut from Cupertino – are jumping into Win 8 with both feet. Lenovo got on board with its new Yoga laptop/tablet hybrid (starting at $999), one of the biggest entrants that attempts to take advantage of Win 8′s dual nature.

Lenovo Yoga

The Yoga is a full-featured laptop with a 13-inch screen that doubles as a tablet, running full Win 8, not the stripped-down RT which can’t run legacy apps. It has a keyboard, a trackpad, and a touchscreen. You can set it up as a laptop, or you can flip the base completely over and use the screen tablet-style. Flipping it turns off the keyboard, so you don’t inadvertently hit some keys while they rest against your legs or tray table. Still, if you hold it in your hands (and it’s a little unwieldy to do that for long, given its weight), you’ll be mashing keys on the other side, which could lead to key damage over time. It seems aimed at those who want a full laptop most of the time and a touchscreen tab to play with part of the time.

Also entering the hybrid sweepstakes is Hewlett-Packard, with its Envy X2 ($849.99).

H-P Envy (photo: CNET)

The Envy differs from the Yoga in that the keyboard doesn’t fold under. Instead, it has a dock that holds a detachable keyboard, so that when the keyboard is removed, you have the straight tablet experience. It’s also smaller, with an 11.6″ screen. But as a laptop, it’s full-featured, with full Win 8 (unlike the limited version on the Surface, which shares the clip-on keyboard format) as well as many of the ports found on a PC – USB, HDMI, SD card slot – and Intel’s latest power-efficient system-on-a-chip, the Z2760. It has Beats Audio, an HD Webcam, and an 8-megapixel camera, as well as near-field communication (NFC) technology. In addition to the touch display, the Envy boasts a large trackpad (what HP calls an Imagepad) that responds to Windows 8 gestures. It’s scheduled to come out next week.

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Acer has unveiled the Iconia W510, which runs full Win 8 and also employs a keyboard dock (starting at $499.99 + $150 for the dock).

Acer Iconia W510

The Iconia is the thinnest of the Win 8 tablets so far, at 0.35″. It weighs in at just 1.27 lbs. and has a 10.1″ screen. The tablet has a pair of cameras – an 8-megapixel one in back and a 2MP front-facing cam; both can record video in full HD. Another feature is that with the tablet docked, the unit’s battery life is doubled, to 18 total hours. It’s due to arrive tomorrow.

Dell’s entrant is the Latitude 10 ($649), a 10.1″ device that’s solely a tablet but with features designed specifically for business users. It runs full Win 8, but lacks a keyboard. There is a USB port and the device has stylus, mouse, and keyboard compatibility. With its dock underneath for plugging in those add-ons, it’s essentially a (tiny-screened) desktop computer that turns into a tablet to go – a slight twist on the old-fashioned laptop dock.

Latitude 10. Photo: Dell

Nor are enhanced tablets and mobile hybrids the only new faces in town. Sony has taken a leap into the iMac’s territory with a twist, introducing the new Vaio Tap 20 ($999.99).

Sony Vaio Tap 20

The Tap 20 is a standard “all-in-one” style PC, with a full 20″ screen and all the usual bells and whistles, plus wireless mouse and keyboard that keep the two USB ports free for other uses. However, that big screen is a touchscreen, and the computer runs on Win 8. You can plug in its power cord, but it also has a battery (with up to three hours’ life) that turns it into a huge tablet and allows you to move it about in your environment. At over 11 pounds, it’s not something you want to hold in your hand. Its stand – large and U-shaped, mounted to the unit via hinges – can rotate parallel to the system, allowing you to lay the machine completely flat on a tabletop or other surface for game-playing or whatever.

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Dell and HP have both been down the touchscreen, all-in-one route in the past, but without the support in Windows, it always felt like a half-baked experience and never caught on. But now, with the introduction of Windows 8, a number of others will follow, including low-priced supplier Vizio, which brings us a whole line-up of touch-enabled all-in-ones and laptops.

These are some of the main entrants in the high-risk Win 8 sweepstakes. There will undoubtedly be many, many more, in a proliferation of configurations. At the moment it would appear that the full Win 8 OS is being embraced. The reception for the RT version has been a bit more muted, although in addition to the Surface, several new tablets are featuring it, including the Asus Vivo, Samsung Ativ, and Dell XPS 10.

If we had a functional crystal ball and could tell you how all of this is going to play out, we’d do it. But we don’t and can’t. Certainly, metal and virtual shelves are going to be stocked this holiday shopping season with a (sometimes bewildering) array of new, Win 8-based tablet and tablet hybrid products. (Not to mention the glut of just-introduced tablet competitors from Apple, Amazon, and Google.) The stakes couldn’t be higher, and there seems to be only one certainty: this is one helluva saturated market that grows more so by the day. There simply isn’t sufficient demand for all of these things to succeed. Some will inevitably flop, and the only question is how hard.

The answer to that question will be of some significance to a number of corporate bottom lines. And with the likes of Apple, Amazon, and Google all now chasing the prize – unlike previous years where Microsoft could just let the OEMs fight it out and win no matter who came out on top, because they all ran Windows – there is now a real threat to Microsoft’s core franchise looming.

Note: Untouched upon here, but certainly a major part of this whole process, is the release of Win Phone 8 products. New smartphones that incorporate Win 8 include the Nokia Lumia and the HTC 8X. Both become available tomorrow.

But that’s a subject for another week.


The GMO Debate Continued

Now, returning to the subject of so much criticism, let me provide you with a number of the more informative and/or entertaining of the comments received in response to my attempt to dip my toe into the GM food waters (completely unedited other than to be anonymized, of course).

First, one reader throws cold water on my brief assertion that genetically modified crops have led to increases in yield and thus improvements in economic development and lifespan:

“It’s difficult to accept your unsupported premise about ‘massive increases in public health’ due to GMO’s. If anything, it has been documented that GMO’s can and do trigger major and irreversible health crises”

This person is right to point out that I provided little in the way of concrete documentation to back up my assertion (though is guilty of the same thing, as this was the message in full). In my own defense, I would point out that I was stating that the original, pre-transgenic crops I described were the subject of that statement, not modern GM crops of the Monsanto variety. However, the trend in agricultural employment, all while outputs have been rising, is partially telling:

(Click on image to enlarge)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Some of that benefit is mechanization, some computerization. But some is also attributable to the genetically modified crop varieties that began surfacing from academic sources in the 1920s. However, separating that data out to any level of precision would be impossible, so I should have prefaced my statement with the caution that it be taken with a grain of salt, as the exact benefits cannot be tabulated.

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Another of our dear readers was much more helpful, however, with links to additional sources to consider in contrast to some of my claims:

“Just finished reading your article on GMO. You seem to be a staunch supporter of GMO foods. Thought you might be interested in some different opinions.

“See http://www.thedailybell.com/28233/Fake-Meme-of-Food-Scarcity-Is-Deadly-Serious and do a search for GMO foods on www.mercola.com and get results such as http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/07/genetically-engineered-foods-hazards.aspx

“People may not be dying suddenly, but they are certainly getting sicker, which helps to support the medical community.”

Mercola is a good starting point for anyone who wants to look further into accusations that modern GM foods are harmful, as well as a number of other health topics. You’ll find a wealth of health news about everything from aspartame to flu vaccines to hospital errors – the first three topics they have posted right now as I type.

Another of our readers calls me out as not supporting a free-markets attitude:

“Dear Sirs,

“This is not something I expect from an organization led by Doug Casey.
The reality is that most of the so called testing before introduction of GMO crops was bought and paid for by the sellers of those crops, Monsanto, etal, and they had a vested interest in finding NO ill effects from those products.

“It was short term and designed to succeed.

“The result was then rubber stamped by the agencies that are “supposed” to monitor their effects. (USDA, FDA etc), all of which are bought and paid for by the very companies that they are supposed to regulate.

“So we now have the largest ongoing experiment in human history with you, I, and our children as the test subjects.

“Mr Daley glosses over the many independent lab experiments which show serious, and sometimes disastrous side effects from consumption of GMO’s in animal studies as well as antidotal evidence of problems in humans as well.

“He also implies that those who would like to know what they are eating are Luddites or flat Earthers and states categorically that GMO’s have improved harvests and crop production. If there is no risk then let the market decide [sic] wether or not these products are viable and desirable in the market place. Label them.

“We are Pro Market are we not?

“Also, there is ample ongoing evidence that GMO crops do not improve production. There are herbicide resistant weeds in over 20 states now and the corn root worm has developed an immunity to BT corn. Perhaps in 50 generations the human species will also develop the same resistance.

“Finally, equating Greggor Mendel’s experiments or those of any other cross breeders since then with with the insertion of a foreign gene into a plant is ludicrous if not something worse. Even equating radiation modified plants with this is far fetched. Mankind has always bred, and the operative word here is “BRED” for desirable traits, but if a trait has to use a virus to enter a genome sequence there is no breeding nor survival check on your end “product” nor can there be any certainty about the effect on humans to something that enters the diet of a species which has had thousands of years to come to terms with the food it has evolved with.

“A sadly disappointed subscriber, not in your opinion, everybody has a right to that, but in your total lack of rigor and your bias,”

While I must agree wholeheartedly with the statement that we are all unwitting participants in a very large science experiment of unknown risk – one of untold proportions larger than the GMO debate cares to address when you include plants like the aforementioned “non-GMO” wheat – I do have to take issue with a few of the comments.

First, I never compared Gregor Mendel’s famous cross-breeding work with genetic modification. I actually explicitly stated I thought those comparisons were outright hogwash. What I did make comparisons with were the experiments with harsh radiation and chemical mutagens, practices still in wide use today (although now under much tighter control by the FDA than the Wild West days of the mid-20th century).

Second, I never intended to imply that anyone who is pro-labeling is a Luddite. I only tried to share the difficult challenge regulators face in even deciding what would require labeling, when so many of the plants we consider natural today were really the results of early genetic meddling at the hands of gamma radiation and X-Rays.

Lastly, I would point out that in a truly free market there would be no labeling law at all. Adding regulations to require labeling of transgenic crops would certainly make for more informed consumers, but it would also disadvantage some methods of production and change economic incentives.

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One of the more thought-provoking responses I received came in the form not of a counterpunch, accusation, nor statement, but as a simple question:

“Your article on genetically modified foods has identified many of the benefits of such implementations. In addressing the potential adverse effects, you have stated that thorough testing will prevent the movement of dangerous foods into the daily diets of consumers. Unfortunately, there is significant concern over the thoroughness of the testing and the willingness of the testers to stand in the way of a ‘moving train.’

“You mention one such instance; that being Roundup-ready grains. How many years of consumption, of grains infused with Roundup, must occur before it begins to affect human DNA? The same is true for pesticides as it is for herbicides (Roundup, being one of many). It may be years before we know, at which time the potential exists for irreversible human DNA damage. Additionally there have been many instances reported of Roundup-resistant weeds, which have rendered entire sections of planting acreage to be abandoned. There need to be truly independent reviewers of such issuers, as opposed to FDA or Dept. of Agriculture examiners, many of whom have been on a revolving career work path between the science lab and the FDA or Dept. of Agriculture.”

You won’t get any argument from me on the quandary of how long to study these things. There is no easy answer there: too little and you risk lives; too much and you threaten innovation entirely or push us back toward innovation occurring in the shadows like the mutagenic breeding days. It’s a tough tightrope to walk.

The regulation career-path problem is another good point. It plagues Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, energy. Solving that problem is a major issue for all of modern technological society. Can a subject matter expert ever truly be independent? If you pay government officials more, then industry will just kowtow to policy instead of vice versa. There is no simple answer to either of these difficult societal questions.

Another response, replete with sources of additional information, came from a subscriber who describes himself as a former Monsanto employee:

“You have missed a few points here. The Monsanto effort is based on the desire to sell Round-up. My first job was at Monsanto long ago [the rest redacted, as a Google search made it too easy to find this person].

“Spraying of herbicides directly onto the soil kills the soil organisms. The soil is alive with organisms. If you want more information on that, look up Elaine Ingham “TheSoilFoodWeb”. Check out “Soils Alive.” I watch RFDTV on weekends and record Ag PhD, Farm Week, and Corn College. Here extension services discuss plans for treating plants that have now become resistant to Round Up. Dow is readying Enlist, which is 2,4-D that will join Round UP as a herbicidal cocktail doing even more damage to the Soil Food Web. Last weekend an extension person said they would add a burn at spring planting. I thought they meant the old fashion field burning that reduced residue and add phosphorus but no, it’s an herbicidal burn then explained later in the program.

“The herbicides and pesticides are dangerous to human health. Check out the work of Dr. Sherry Roger in environmental medicine. Toxins in the body masquerade as disease and conventional medicine doesn’t screen for it. Also doesn’t screen for deficiencies of vitamins or minerals to the extent necessary. Those also create ‘disease.’

“Look at this website: www.responsibletechnology.org No hype here. Check out results of treatment of autistic children by removal of GMO foods. There’s a tremendous amount going on here and your article needs to cover more ground.

Check out Seed Saver Exchange in Decorah, IA. There are an old time preserver of open pollinated seeds (OP) and they are adamant about the big bioag firms suing small farmers out of business that they think could interfere with their GMO production.”

He is right that my article covered only so much ground. I thank him again for writing and providing pointers to more information for all of us to study up on.

Last, I will leave you in the hands of another of our readers, from whom I received multiple follow-ups. If you are interested in learning more about the movement for GMO labeling laws and bans but only have time for one such link, the one highlighted is a good one to visit. While I do not agree that anything in my article was incorrect and bears issuing a correction (and the writer did not respond to several requests for clarification before this went to production), since I took a few thousand words to make my points, I feel it is only fair I let someone else step up to the microphone to give you a different side (though, I must note, not totally opposing, as I am for the record actually pro GMO labeling – as not doing so is false or at least misleading advertising in my book, and tantamount to fraud) in their hour long expose on the subject:

“Alex Daley, Your article on GMO foods was informative, unfortunately you failed to advise your readers of the questionable long term effects that may show up down the road. Please read and become informed on GMO food, this article pretty much puts in perspective the follow up letter I sent to you on your flawed GMO food report. I believe you owe your readers a correction on the accuracy on your GMO article. Like I said in the first letter, you may be making a great money making recommendation and your investors will invest regardless that GMO is a really long term a health crises to come. But you do owe your readers a correction and I would suggest if you are any kind of a caring person you will contact Dr. Mercola for permission to reprint the following article for your subscribers.

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“Story at-a-glance

. “The documentary film ‘David versus Monsanto’ details the groundbreaking victory of a lone farmer against one of the most powerful companies on the planet. The world’s first lifetime feeding study discovered that rats fed a diet containing 11 percent GE corn developed massive breast tumors, kidney and liver damage and other serious health problems in the 13th month of life.

. “To put this into human perspective, if the average lifespan of a person is 80 years, these health problems would start rearing their ugly head somewhere during the 43rd year of life, provided your diet contained just over 10 percent GE foods and you began eating them in early childhood

. “According to a report released by the Environmental Working Group, Americans are eating their weight and more in genetically engineered food every year-an average of 193 pounds of GE foods annually

“[sic: the link to this film and accompanying article is here as I did not have time to get the suggested reprint provisions: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/11/03/david-versus-monsanto.aspx]

I want to thank all of you who wrote in response to my article – even those who called for my head. After all, the root of all technological and scientific achievement begins with the open exchange of ideas and knowledge. So I have tried to share some of what was shared with me back to the community at large to that end. I hope you have found it useful.


Bits & Bytes

Running Europe Off the Sun (Wired)

Could Europe eventually be powered by sunlight? That’s the dream of an Anglo-Tunisian team that plans to turn 100 square kilometers of the Sahara into a 2GW generating plant. Using the desert as a solar collector has been talked about many times before, and there are a lot of challenges still to be resolved. But this one just might make it.

Apple Fights On (Telegraph)

Apple has escalated its patent war with Samsung, telling a judge that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet infringes its patents and attempting to add the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system to an existing lawsuit. This is the first time Google has been dragged into the dispute. But not everything is going Cupertino’s way. VirnetX has been awarded US$368.2 million in its patent lawsuit against Apple over the iPhone and iPad maker’s FaceTime video chat feature.

Office Mobile on the Way (The Verge)

With Windows 8 now released, it was only a matter of time. Long rumored, it appears that Microsoft Office for the iPhone, iPad, and Android is on the way. Office Mobile for iOS will likely arrive by early March 2013, with the Android version due around May.

Surface vs. the iPad (SlashGear)

And while the Surface is now officially at war with the iPad, we may as well have a little fun with the competition. The folks at LaughPong thought so too, and delivered this ad parody. Might Microsoft be tempted to turn it into a real ad?

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avatarMike 'Mish' Shedlock - Casey's Daily Dispatch posted Thursday, November 8th, 2012.

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