Still GMO-free free

I read today that Chipotle has phased out the last GMO ingredients so that they are now 100% GMO free.  Too bad, I really liked Chipotle and I’m really going to miss eating it.

I see a lot of parallels between anti-vaccine and anti-GMO advocates.  It is quite the luxury to live in a place where food is plentiful and disease is rare.

What makes more people sick with malaria? More people.

I just read a paper that made me stop and think about the impact of population growth and urbanization on malaria vectors. Putting numbers on a problem is sometimes quite shocking.



(Quotes from Fighting malaria in India, V.P. Sharma, 1998, Current Science vol 75, no 11, 1127-1140).

“India’s population stood at 361.1 million (1950) and life expectancy at birth 32.1 years (1950-51). Improved economy, food production and better health delivery gradually increased population to 915.9 million (1995-95) and life expectancy at birth to 60.8 years (1992-93).”

This means India’s population almost tripled in 50 years, and with people expected to live nearly twice as long.

This unprecedented increase in population is resulting in shortages in almost all areas of basic infrastructure. Some of these have direct influence on the breeding of vectors, e.g. settlements in unhealthy and low-lying areas and poor housing enhancing mosquito bites, piped water supply in the rural and urban areas promoting vector breeding inside houses and in the peri-domestic surroundings, water shortages leading to storage practices which become breeding grounds, and enormous breeding potential being created as a result of increasing colonization and poor sanitary standards. Urban malaria has emerged as a major ecotype comprising malaria in the towns (75 million population) and in peri-urban areas (75 million population).

Urban populations are projected to reach 590 million by 2030, an increase of nearly 800% in about 30 years. 

As of 1998 nearly 40% of India’s population was living below the poverty line. Today it’s around 25%, but increasing again especially in cities as urban populations grow. As I’ve pointed out in a previous post, malaria is largely a disease of poverty. We need cheap fixes for vector control, STAT.

“Have a nice day”


When I lived in Boston, there was a remarkable fellow that worked at the TJ’s check-out counter. As he was packing your last grapefruit, he didn’t smile and say “Thanks for coming”, or nod and exclaim “Have a nice day!”. He would fix you with his penetrating eyes, stare deep into your soul and utter “Stay Focused”.

Socially acceptable bragging

I was behind a car the other day that had the bumper sticker “My son is a U.S. Air Force pilot.”  Which got me thinking, why is it socially acceptable to brag about your children?

People at parties who proudly describe the accomplishments of their children are often described as a “proud parents.”  But people who talk about their own accomplishments are often described as  arrogant or conceited jerks.  Why the double standard?  Whether it is nature and nurture, proud parents are really just bragging about the quality of their genes or parenting decisions.  Nevertheless, people who directly state that they have great genes, or that they know the best way to raise children, are once again like considered jerks (although to be fair, I’ve never tested this).

Maybe one could argue that it is the indirectness of the bragging that makes it alright, which would explain why it is socially acceptable for academics to brag about their students and postdocs (hint, hint) — but then why isn’t it socially acceptable to brag about the revenue of a company that you built.