The Black Death and its aftermath

Surprisingly, post-Black Death populations tended to live longer and enjoy better health and standards of living

The Black Death and its aftermathBubonic plague came to England in the summer of 1348. Popularly known as the Black Death, the disease arrived via a French ship that docked in what is now Weymouth on the south coast. From there, it spread rapidly inland and westwards over the water to Ireland. It was also transmitted across the North Sea…

Gene edited foods could be our next risk communication fiasco

Gene-edited crops can help produce safe and affordable food and energy. But proponents need to make a legitimate case to consumers

Gene edited foods could be our next risk communication fiascoWill Canadian consumers want to eat gene-edited food? There's a lot of excitement in agriculture about the introduction of gene-edited food products into the Canadian food system over the next few years. But there’s also a great deal of apprehension. Gene editing is about tweaking a plant’s genome by turning off certain genetic traits. By…

Technology has proven itself to be a double-edged sword

Just as technology can bring us together, it can also separate us

Technology has proven itself to be a double-edged swordCommunication technology has come a long way in a relatively short time. In my lifetime, we have moved from twice daily mail delivery and phones that required the services of an operator to connect callers, to the instantaneous communication of smart phones and text messaging. At the click of a mouse, we can “join the…

It’s still winter but my trees are getting chubby

In January as the days get longer, the trees start preparing for spring and the buds start to swell

It’s still winter but my trees are getting chubbyEvery year about this time, I get quite excited as my trees start to get chubby! They aren’t really putting on weight, but their profile looks different than it did in November and December, when it was easy to see the sky through the branches since the buds were very small and the twigs weren’t…

Plant health a decidedly human issue

Climate change knows no borders and neither should science. And when it comes to plant science, Canada is a force to be reckoned with

Plant health a decidedly human issueEvery year, the United Nations promotes something that it believes warrants attention and it has declared 2020 the International Year of Plant Health. Celebrating plant health and bringing more awareness to the issue is well worth pursuing. Plants represent about 80 per cent of everything we eat. And animals raised on farms, of course, eat…

USMCA will stunt potentially lifesaving innovation

The new trade agreement represents progress for international trade, but crucially, it weakens protections for the biopharma industry

USMCA will stunt potentially lifesaving innovationIn December, the United States, Mexico and Canada signed a new trade agreement (USMCA) in Mexico City. The agreement represents progress for international trade, but crucially, it weakens protections for the biopharma industry, as the final version of the deal removed provisions that would have extended the exclusivity (essentially, the period of time when brand-name…

Superbugs kill over 700,000 people a year worldwide

And that could rise to 10 million deaths per year within 30 years, at an economic cost of US$100 trillion

Superbugs kill over 700,000 people a year worldwideA deadly threat hangs over us that’s much more immediate than climate change and has already started killing people. It now kills over 700,000 people a year worldwide. The fatalities could rise to 10 million per annum within 30 years. Together, cancer, diabetes and cholera take fewer lives. The economic cost would be US$100 trillion.…

Prolonged journeys in space help inform research into frailty

Astronauts and seniors with frailty have much in common and innovative research may help solve problems for both

Prolonged journeys in space help inform research into frailtyFor decades, researchers have studied the effects of reduced physical activity on astronauts during prolonged journeys to space. But what's surprising is one of the uses of that research. It turns out that understanding the effects of space travel on the body may be important to understanding what happens to us on Earth as we…

Taking a bite out of the dangerous notion that food is medicine

Pseudoscience and quackery love the food-is-medicine philosophy because it helps them sell their nutritional supplements, diet books and therapy sessions

Taking a bite out of the dangerous notion that food is medicineHippocrates supposedly said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I disagree. Food is not medicine. I can hear people saying, “But Dylan, you have type 1 diabetes and a PhD in human nutritional sciences. Surely you of all people know that food has a powerful impact on health?” I do. But…

Three nutrition trends to stay away from

Skip the cleanses, alkaline diets and IV vitamin therapy; there's no evidence they work and plenty of evidence they can be harmful

Three nutrition trends to stay away fromIf you follow health tips in some media, you’d think the nutritional sciences are a mess: Is butter good for you or bad? Should I eat breakfast or skip it? Should I eat like a caveman? Or should I eat more like a bird? Alternative facts are not a new concept in the field of nutritional…
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