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March 10, 2010

Stem Cell Research and Transplant

I am doing my extended research on stem cell research. I plan to research on the process of making the stem cells and how it can benefit, endanger the patient and the positive and negative effects of using stem cells. Additionally, stem cell research is not supported by everyone because it goes against the religious beliefs of many people, therefore, how can stem cell research satisfy everyone's needs. I also plan on researching the process of making artificial organs and how all that works in a human body to sustain life.

March 09, 2010

Exploring PFFD

The research proposal topic that I have picked is on PFFD (proximal femoral focal deficiency). This topic is to some extreme a very personal one. My 5 year old niece has had PFFD since birth. PFFD is not commonly known, in fact its definition is: a rare congenital anomaly where the proximal femur did not normally progress during the embryological development of the fetus. PFFD is considered to be a rare none hereditary birth defect which affects the pelvis and the thigh (femur) bone. The disorder may affect one side or both, with the hip being deformed and the leg shortened. It is commonly linked with the absence or shortening of a leg bone (fibular hemimelia) and the absence of a kneecap. Other linked birth defects include the dislocation or instability of the joint between the femur and the kneecap, a shortened tibia or fibula, and foot deformities.

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March 08, 2010

Research Proposal: Genetically enhanced babies

The topic to which my liking in the world of science is genetics. We all know that genes and DNA are what make everything unique and complex in it's own way, but what if this all changed? What I would like to find out about genetic studies is what they're experimenting with human genes in babies. Due to the fact that the children are our future the subject of creating them in our own interest such as eye color, weight, and maybe even brain usage can change how we all live. For many years now scientists have been creating children through mechanical techniques compared to the natural reproduction of humans. In-vitro fertilization is one of these methods in which a donor egg and male sperm are both injected into a host mother which then later has the baby. The success rate is pretty high but with mistakes that can be made or just natural birth defects some of these children don't make it to life. This stirs up a lot of controversy just as the subject of abortion. If we are able to do things such as make our own babies now, sooner or later choosing what DNA cells they have would be the next step. My purpose of this research on how babies are genetically affected is to answer the question, What will the future of Human life hold for us if every single new baby being born was made mechanically? Some babies being born now have traits from two different mothers and one father, causing them to have three germlines instead of two. If this process was to repeat itself then there may exist a baby that has more than 20 germlines. Would this baby be considered a super human, or even human at all?

Factors that Influence the Development of Neurological Disorders besides Inherited Genes

Neurological disorders are disorders that affect the nervous system that involve electrical, biochemical, or structural irregularity in the brain or spinal cord. Neurological disorders can be exceptionally difficult to treat and are often debilitating. The symptoms generally start with a mild twitching or numbness in one extremity and then evolve into more serious problems such as slow loss of coordination, balance, or the ability to speak clearly. Neurological disorders are very complex, and the causes are semi-known. However, continuous research is consistently revealing new contributing factors to the causes of neurological disorders. The most commonly known cause of some of these disorders is the inheritance of faulty genes from a parent or both parents. My research paper will focus on the less-known factors that influence the development of neurological disorders. For example, many people do not know that certain diseases can influence the development of these disorders or that a simple injury can greatly influence their development as well.

March 07, 2010

Genetically Modified Medicine

I am emphasizing my extended research on genetically modified (GM) medicine. I intend to research on the process of creating genetically modified medicine and examine the benefits, risks, and uncertain side effects of genetically modified medicine. Furthermore, genetic modification has been a leading controversial issue, especially for medical purposes. Aiding an individual with fast and sufficient genetically altered medicines can be produced to help patients, but they're can be other risks that a patient may go through. Hence, it is quite uncertain whether genetically modified medicine is rather beneficial or harmful. GM techniques are a standard practice in medicine and have been for decades.

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Research Proposal-The Effect of Schizophrenia in Pregnant Women

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder that affects one's relations between reality, emotion, and behavior. This faulty perception eventually leads to dysfunctional social behaviors such as fantasy, delusion, paranoia, and inappropriate actions. This research paper will specifically discuss how this mental disease affects pregnant women. Although schizophrenia might be thought to be the same in men and women, there might be significant differences between them, in terms of how individuals develop the disease, how it affects them, and how they must be treated. It will discuss how the hormone in females, estrogen, reacts to the disease. There are many factors that may possibly affect a woman's pregnancy. For example, one of these factors that can be considered might be how one's diet changes in response to the disease, because poor diet leads to malnutrition and this affects pregnancy tremendously. The paper will discuss whether or not schizophrenic women can get pregnant--and, if they can, it will discuss the possible consequences in a schizophrenic women giving birth, such as intrauterine grow retardation, stillbirth, premature birth, miscarriage and infant death. Lastly, it will discuss certain treatments that can be offered specially schizophrenic pregnant women.

March 06, 2010

End of the World or just another Ice Age and Pangaea?

I was reading an article earlier this week and it was based on the impact of the earthquake in Chile. That earthquake was on a scale of an 8.8 magnitude. Scientists predicted that there are some vulnerable spots located in other parts of the world that has a high risk of having an earthquake soon. An expected spot is located in Oregon and is predicted to have a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. If scientists and other researchers predict natural disasters before occurring why doesn’t one take any precautionary steps? The world has been experiencing a lot of changes and been having more natural disasters. Right here in New York City we have experienced a few high risks snow blizzards and normally we don’t experience more than one each winter. The Haiti earthquake was another earthquake that one that no one expected of. Is the world really ending because of humans contaminating the air causing this change of weather and digging into the grounds for oil, setting up sewage systems and etc. or is the Earth just going through another Ice Age or Pangaea movement? I plan on researching the Earth’s current weather patterns and current movement and look into what scientists theorize about the future of the Earth. I will research on scientists who believe that the world is going to end while researching other scientists who believe that the world is just going through a phase just like Pangaea and the Ice Age.

Watch What You Put In That Sippy Cup, Experts Warn

Recently I have read an article about the impact of excessive juice and soda intake on our health. We all know that it is important to drink at least 6-8 ounces of fluid each day. When it comes to summer time, we tend to drink more juice or soda to stay hydrated. But is anyone aware of the fact that drinking excessive juice and soft drink can lead to harmful health concerns? Juice and soft drinks are high in fructose, a type of naturally occurring sugar that can trigger obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Peter Havel, a research endocrinologist at the University of California, says that, ““If you consume fructose, it’s more like you’re consuming fat.” The article warns parents to limit their child’s intake of fruit juice to about 6 ounces per day. One of the most interesting and informative information the article provides is the effect of fructose. While glucose signals our brain to eat less, fructose does the opposite by encouraging us to eat more than our need. After getting the information, some people may try to find an alternative by drinking 100 percent fruit juice. But, be careful before you take your decision. Though pure juice is more nutritious than any other artificial fruit juice, all types of juice contain fructose. Another harmful impact of fructose in our body is that it increases the level of uric acid resulting in insulin resistance. Johnson, chief of nephrology at the UF College of Medicine, suggests that, “We should not be increasing our (juice and) soft drink ingestion during the summer just because we’re hot and thirsty.” Alternative to fruit juice and soda can be water, low fat milk and other sport drinks. Even though there are many risk factors of different fluids, the article reminds us the importance of staying hydrated but keeping in mind to drink the right type of drink.

From this article, I have come to learn that 100 percent fruit juices are not always the best choice to avoid different risk factors linked with other drinks. I think further research is needed to find a way to reduce the level of fructose in drinks. Children tend to like juice as their drink and researchers should keep our choices in mind as well. For my research, I would like to find answers for many unanswered questions. Is it possible to add glucose in drinks instead of fructose? Is there any healthy way to sweeten the drinks? As the article mentions, glucose signals our brains to stop eating thus helping us to maintain a balanced diet. Can studies find a healthy substitute that can satisfy our crave for drinks? I look forward to find answers to these questions in my research which will help us to have a better alternative.

No More Sick Red Blood Cells: Gene therapies and the promise of a cure for Sickle Cell Disease

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Designer Babies

Genetic engineering is defined as the scientific alteration of the structure of genetic material in a living organism. As one can imagine, it is an extremely controversial topic in society. Some people feel that it is just another technological advance that marks the times we live in. On the contrary, others feel that scientists are playing God and that it is unethical. Despite the controversy surrounding it, genetic engineering has been experimented on quite a few organisms and has advanced in the types of organisms used. Primarily, it seems that it was used on plants and worked its way towards animals for a number of purposes. Genetic engineering has been used in an attempt to try to cure diseases and to improve the efficiency of organisms. Now, it seems genetic engineering has taken a turn to improve superficial things. Human embryos are now being used for genetic engineering. In fact, babies that have been genetically modified are referred to as “designer babies”. These “designer babies” have been genetically modified to have traits that have been artificially selected to be expressed. Traits such as eye color, hair color, and complexion can be genetically selected through PGD. PGD stands for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis. It is the technology that has aided In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to screen for potentially debilitating diseases. Now, it helps scientists screen for genetic traits. Although the advances in science are truly remarkable, I wonder how these “designer babies” will affect humans as a whole. For my research I would like to explore if the genetic alteration of DNA will it interfere with the natural function of DNA. In addition, will it serve as a potential detriment to the child in the future? In addition, I would like to know how genetic selection of traits affects darwinism and natural selection. Genetic engineering can prove to be a detriment or a benefit for human embryos. I plan to explore this through my research.

The Pros and Cons of Hormone Therapy

Hormone Therapy is basically a form of treatment used to replace hormones that the female body no longer makes. It is used as a standard treatment for women who have hot flashes along with other menopausal symptoms. It is found that Hormone Therapy has a few benefits such as preventing the bone loss that occurs after menopause, decreasing the risks of colorectal cancer and it was found that estrogen can decrease the risks of heart disease when taken early in postmenopausal years. The main hormones used in hormone therapy are Estrogen and Progestin. There is little information about whether or not the hormone estrogen is linked to the development of cancer in women. I recently found an article that stated that it is best that women only take HT drugs for moderate to severe menopausal symptoms and they should be taken for a short period. The reason for this is because evidence shows that long-term use of these drugs by women 50 years and older can lead to the development of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and other forms of ailments. The drugs used in this study were oestrogen and progestagen and breast cancer risks were increased when these drugs were used together. What I would like to focus on is what ingredients of the hormone therapy drugs is triggering the development of breast cancer in women? I would also like to know if there are any other alternatives for menopausal symptoms instead of hormonal therapy? Do the benefits of Hormonal Therapy outweigh the risks?

Sex vs. Gender, Nature vs. Nurture

My research thus far has focused on the differences between sex and gender. I have found that the major difference stems from the conflict of nature versus nurture. While biological sex is a product of nature, gender is a product of nurture. More specifically, biological sex is determined at conception by the pairing of chromosomes that can either be XX for females, or XY for males. Gender on the other hand, is a socially influenced term, determined by culture and stereotypes built around one's sex. With this in mind, I wanted to look at how the psychological development of one's sexual identity could be effected by the stereotypes and gender roles created by society and culture. Furthermore, which has more of an effect on an individual's sexual identity, nature or nurture? Are there any aspects of our sexual identity that are inherently male, or inherently female? Can males and females be separated on a psychological level as well as on a physical level, or has society created the divide between sexes with its concept of gender? I hope to find out whether or not nurture is the only thing standing between what might otherwise be very similar natures, or if society's concept of gender has developed in the way it has as a result of inherent differences between sexes.

The Effects of Blood Doping

Blood doping refers to the infusion of red blood cells in people. By increasing red blood cell count, a person is able to increase the rate at which they use oxygen. This provides a very useful aerobic capacity boost if one was a professional athlete, so much so that it is in fact an illegal practice in most sports. The greater appeal of blood doping, as opposed to other forms of performance enhancement, is that blood doping can be of benefit to any sport: you always need oxygen to perform an action, but a cross country runner might have little interest in anabolic steroids. Because of the wide appeal, it is a matter worth the most immediate attention in the world of performance enhancing drugs and techniques. Other than just being an unfair advantage in sports, there are serious medical side effects resulting from blood transfusions. Increasing red blood cell ratios creates unnaturally high blood viscosity, which is an unnatural medium for the heart to pump, and greatly increases risk of blood clotting problems,. Improper storage and the use of another person's blood cells create a much larger list of side effects, including infections, as well as blood and liver diseases. The purpose of my literature review will be to inform the specific processes involved in blood doping, the aerobic advantage when performed correctly, and lastly the detrimental side effects that may arise.

Proposal--Can Osteoprorsis develop other diseases

I wonder if Osteoporosis refers to fracture and bone loss. I have read a lot about Osteoporosis, which can cause by whether age, ethnicity, body weight or gender. However, I was thinking if either of these causes are the main problem to develop Osteoporosis. Which gender is the one that may develop Osteoporosis more than other? Is Osteoporosis is a genetic disorder? What are some of the symptoms of Osteoporosis and the diagnosis that can cure this disease? Well, there are many medicines out in the market, which can cure this disease but not completely. I am also familiar with some medicines that my mother takes because she is also a patient of Osteoporosis. Moreover, I read in science news that Osteoporosis patients need to intake certain daily dietary that can also help them to build their bones strong and denser. Therefore, I will search for the list of dietary which Osteoporosis need to intake every day. I will also search for the other cures that can help Osteoporosis. Calcium is very important for Osteoporosis because it can make one’s bones healthier and strong. I also wonder what are the other mainly diseases that associated with Osteoporosis? What are some tests that can detect Osteoporosis in the early age? I know that if a person is diabetics it can develop other diseases such as high or low cholesterol, heart disease or Osteoporosis. Therefore, I was thinking if osteoporosis could also develop other diseases.

Obesity and Alzheimer’s Disease

My research plans to explore if there is a link between obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. Obesity is a growing epidemic in the US and other parts of the world with high prevalence in adults and young children. Obesity increases the risk of many physical and mental conditions. These co-morbidities are most commonly shown in metabolic syndrome, a combination of medical disorders which includes: diabetes mellitus type 2, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an irreversible, progressive brain disease. In Alzheimer's disease, healthy brain tissue degenerates, causing a steady decline in memory and mental abilities. Alzheimer's disease is not a part of normal aging, but the risk of the disorder increases with age.


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March 05, 2010

Global Warming Proposal

In my group our topic is the e nvironment. As humans we need to know how to keep our environment at its best so humans can live on earth for many years to come. As of 2010 we do have several scientific problems going on; dealing with the earth specifically such as: pollution, glacier shrinking, acid rain, toxic sea water and many more. All of these essentially affect our ability to live. I would like to focus on global warming which in my opinion is the biggest threat to the environment right now. My question of research would be What is everyone doing to help stop global warming? What's being done to save planet earth? What can be done? Global Warming is serious and we are starting to see its effects already. For example during the beginning of winter it is still warm. Summers are getting very unbearable hot. Instead of being able to go to the beach and hang out forecasters are warning people to find a room with air conditioning or fan to stay as cool as possible and not to go outside. Earth is our home. Its up to us to save it.

Overweight Adolescents & Gastric Bypass Surgery

In the recent weeks, I have read articles about concerns of childhood obesity and gastric bypass surgery. Childhood obesity has been on the rise for the past decade and children seem to getting heavier every day. Children are usually encouraged to exercise and eat healthy to lose weight. However, what happens when the child tries all these methods without any success? Gastric bypass surgery is an alternative procedure that helps overweight patients to lose weight by stapling and divide sections of the stomach. After the surgery, the stomach becomes smaller and patients feel full by eating less food. This surgery is typically done on adults but recent studies have shown an increase in adolescents. However, many doctors do not believe there is sufficient research on the affects of gastric bypass surgery for adolescents. There are benefits for overweight children to get gastric bypass surgery such as a lower risk from terrible chronic diseases. Though, the child may lose the weight some may regain the weight back and may have complications later in life that is still unknown.

There is another less invasive procedure to lose weight that is popular for adults and the trend is starting to appeal on adolescents. The Lap Band is a popular alternative to gastric bypass and is hoping for approval from the FDA for pediatric use. The Lap Band is fitted around the uppermost part of the stomach and helps patients to eat less by becoming full faster. The Lap Band is less invasive than gastric bypass surgery and is fully reversible. Cardiologist at Cincinnati Children “has found that the body starts to repair itself as the weight falls. For example, two years after gastric bypass, the left side of the heart has started to return to normal in most adolescents” (NYTimes). Even after this research, other physicians are still skeptical and surgeons do not agree which of the two procedures is more appropriate for children and teens.

For my research, I plan to find out the effects of gastric bypass surgery and the Lap Band on adolescents. I will compare these effects to adults because I want to see if there is any relationship between ages and if there is any age limit for both of these procedures. Both of these procedures have its benefits, however are these children ready for such a dramatic life change and can be able to handle the responsibility of these changes? Is the Lap Band a safer alternative for adolescents since the weight lost isn’t as dramatic from surgery? I want to know about the adolescents that actually went through the gastric bypass surgery and if they are maintaining the weight they lost. Will doctors and surgeon allow such young patients to go through the surgery? What are doctor’s intake for overweight adolescents to have surgery and the Lap Band? Also, when a person loses a significant amount of weight, they tend to have a lot of loose skin from the fat they lost. Are adolescents aware of the loose skin they will have and if so, will their parents allow them to have additional surgery to tighten the skin? I look forward to finding information on my research and hope the answers will be there.


March 04, 2010

A look into malaria

Malaria is a parasitic disease that results from the bite of female mosquitoes. It is most common in tropical areas and if not treated properly could occur to be deadly. From having personal experience as a victim of the disease, I was obviously interested in carrying out research on the disease. Initially I planned to research on the disease's evolution and origin but further thought urged me to find out more on the measures that have been considered in preventing the disease.
From previously reading an interesting article on malaria, I was able to discover that procedures involving genetically altered mosquitoes were in process. The intention behind such experiments was to use gene flow to possibly eradicate the current disease transmitters. The altered mosquitoes would of course be harmless.
Another point I was able to connect to my research proposal was if there were measures being carried out in reference to the vaccination of malaria,especially in those of endemic areas.
Hence, I would absolutely love to satisfy my curiosity by digging deeper into those two aspects which have to do with the prevention of malaria.

March 03, 2010

Down Syndrome

I have taken a genetics course in high school where we briefly touched on genetic disorders. One such disorder which interested me is Down Syndrome. It was initially “detected” in England in 1866 by a physician name John Down who noted the distinct facial features of certain mentally ill children. Down Syndrome is the most common genetic mental disorder among young children. In a normal human, there are 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. However, in a Down Syndrome patient, there are three 21st chromosomes, therefore, scientifically it is also referred to as Trisomy 21. 95% of Down Syndrome is cased by nondisjunction. During meiosis pairs of chromosomes separate to different poles, but in nondisjunction, a pair of chromosome does not split thus resulting in abnormal daughter cells, one with 24 chromosomes and the other one with 22 chromosomes.
And when an abnormal egg or sperm fertilize, the embryo inherits the abnormal number of chromosomes. I wonder what environmental and/or genetic factors cause nondisjunction.

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Are antioxidants the cure?

After reading many articles about the numerous health benefits of consuming all sorts of foods with antioxidants, I’m curious about the effectiveness of antioxidants as a treatment against diseases caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are substances that are believed to play a large role in protecting cells from the damage of free radicals, which can be introduced to the body through environmental factors or formed from the digestion of food. Free radicals cause cell dysfunction, heart disease, diabetes, as well as many types of cancer. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from doing so and are also believed to be crucial in improving immune function and lowering the risk of cancer and infection. They can be found in many foods (including fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, some meats, poultry and fish) in the form of beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E. An example of antioxidants at work is how apple slices will not brown if they are dipped in orange juice, which has vitamin C.

Although it has been firmly established that antioxidants are important for the prevention of diseases and health problems, I’d like to know more about the effectiveness of antioxidants as treatments for the diseases they apparently protect against. I recently read an article about a supplement containing many antioxidants that were extremely effective in helping old rats “maintain youthful levels of activity”. I wonder if the antioxidants helped resolve any health problems the rats might have developed. Are there any side effects from consuming too many antioxidants? I know vitamin A and E are fat soluble vitamins that can have toxic effects in large amounts; are there side effects for other types of antioxidants? Also, since antioxidants can be easily found in most foods, why are there so many health problems afflicting our society (and not just those who eat unhealthily)? If antioxidants are useful for treating diseases, are certain antioxidants only effective in treating certain illnesses? I hope to learn more about the possible use of antioxidants as treatments for illnesses and the mechanisms behind the free-radical fighting abilities of antioxidants.

Proposal-Theres More to Glacier Melting

The rapid melting of the Earth’s glaciers has been contributing to negative changes in our environment. These impacts are diverse, and are changing the ecosystem for life on earth. It goes much further than ice melting and glaciers shrinking. Instead it has been leading to an unnatural shift in the Earth’s delicate balance that is headed towards many different outcomes.
Many animals depend on sea ice and glaciers to survive. Without the sea ice many organisms will be unable to cope without a place to gather food. Also those animals that use the fresh water from glaciers will be left with nothing to survive on in the coming future.
Glacier melting that slips into the ocean leads to sea level rise throughout the hydrosphere. Enough of a rise can flood coastal regions that are below sea level. The rise in sea level isn’t just affecting what is happening on land, but also life under water. Rise in sea level may kill coral reefs, by reducing the sunlight they need to survive, and destroying the homes of many oceanic organisms.
They are other impacts that we fail to realize immediately. Recently, a massive glacier piece from the Mertz Glacier broke off when hit by another glacier. As it enters denser waters scientists expect it to change the local ocean circulation and sea ice in the area. If this is what we can expect from one glacier, what can we expect from countless glaciers entering the oceans due to melting?
They are many outcomes that are brought on by glacier melting. Unfortunately they mostly seem to be headed towards negatively impacting the ecosystem. Coastal regions, animals on land and under water, human life, and more seem to be in jeopardy from rapid glacier melting. In conclusion, glacier melting is leading to dangerous outcomes for life on earth by changing the environment we know today.

-----Eric Persaud

February 18, 2010

Take Over by the Fast Food Method

i totally agree with you that fast food restaurants are devloping all over the world especially in Asia and Europe. Well when I think about fast food two things comes in my mind one how the food was prepared and second is it kosher or halal because I am Muslim. In addition, if we think about fast food two common names come in our mind McDonald and Burger King. I agree that these places are all over the places. I just came back from vocation and I went to my country after long time and one thing I found was pretty interesting that "KFC" which is a fast food place was all over the city. This is one of an international name of fast food. Well there benefit to have these kind of places near you where you can eat if you can't cook but what about your health. I found these food unhealthier because of the way they are cooked. every one have their own experience and choice but I would rather cook home instead of eating at these fast food places.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Necessitate Farming Reform

I also took a genetic class and covered a topic about antibiotic-resistance which to me was pretty interesting. I agree with you that "agricultural sector also plays a part in antibiotic resistant bacteria" and misuse, overuse of this can be a big problem to one's body. Moreover, antibiotics have been critical in the fight against infectious disease caused by bacteria and other microbes. Nevertheless, more usage of the antibiotics created a problem in our environment because according to the researchers "bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used for treatment". It's good that you will find another farming techniques that will leads to healthier animal population but what about humans. Many debates had made about this issue but no such results have been seen.

February 17, 2010

Biofuels: beyond the carbon debate

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics Class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

For my project, I am looking at the global effects of biofuel production – not only on the environment, but also on agricultural markets and the world's poor that depend on them. In the past few years, corn-based ethanol, biodiesel, and other plant-based fuels have been touted as a solution to the problem of climate change. However, they have also been linked to the recent spike in prices for corn, wheat, and other crops that much of the world depends on for sustenance. What are the real global effects of biofuel production? What should we consider when weighing potential costs against potential benefits?

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Take Over by the Fast Food Method

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

As the fast food market expands beyond the American borders, many of the Asian countries have not only utilized the idea of fusing convenience with ethnic food but also backfiring it towards the United States. As a result, the fast food method has developed a universal crusade through the fast food market.

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Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Necessitate Farming Reform

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

I took a Genetics class in high school, and one topic we covered was antibiotic resistance in pathogens. Ever since, I have been especially interested by bacteria that render antimicrobial drugs useless. Now that I understand the science behind the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, I am interested in exploring the greater implications for society as a whole. Although the resistance is usually traced to overuse, misuse, unnecessary use in humans, the agricultural sector also plays a part in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

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Can We Become Addicted to Sugar?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

The topic I have chosen for my research project is the question of whether sugar addiction exists. While everybody knows that sugar is a highly desirable substance that is not necessarily good for our health, many do not understand the psychological effects of sugar. Knowing how sugar can be addictive may be helpful for solving the problem of obesity in America.

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February 16, 2010

Death by Corn

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Recently, in the past few weeks, a scientific study came out linking possible health issues to genetically modified (GM) corn. I noticed the google trends for “corn “ changed from “corn pudding” and “corn chowder recipe” to “gm corn organ failure” and “Monsanto corn organ damage.”

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Water: from Common to Commodity

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric and Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

After examining the claims made in an advertisement by Fiji Water, and researching the environmental considerations of the bottled water industry as a whole, the widespread purchase of bottled water in developed countries greatly concerns me. Reusable water bottles have become increasingly popular, in part because of increased environmental awareness, yet bottled water is still purchased on a massive scale. I am most interested in the ethical aspects of the bottled water industry, and so my research will outline key perspectives from environmental and/or humanitarian authorities.

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The USDA Food Pyramid: Should You Trust the Government?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics Class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Everyone is familiar with the food pyramid, whether that be the more traditional pyramid with stacked blocks for different food groups, or the latest MyPyramid that features colorful vertical strips. I first encountered the pyramid in about 2nd grade, during a nutrition education program in school. Since then, it has popped up many times, often on the packaging of food products. Now, my research question revolves around what the USDA food pyramid is actually telling U.S. citizens, and the quality of the basis of these recommendations. In order to explore this issue, one must look at many different sources and perspectives discussing the origin and presentation of the food guide pyramid.

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Curing Africa’s Hungry: Reconciling Science and Economics to Solve Africa’s Hunger Crisis

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics Class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

The world’s corn industry is in the midst of an international battle. The use of genetically modified (GM) corn to feed the world’s growing population is creating deep and consequential divides among the world’s scientists, politicians, farmers, and human activists. This debate is particularly specific to Africa: GM crops have been banned in most African counties, even while millions of malnourished Africans die as a result of African farmers struggling to produce food at pace with the growing population.

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Global Water Scarcity: A Grave Threat

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics Class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Two interests have remained constant in my life: doomsday scenarios and economics. Accordingly, for this assignment I will delve into the topic of “Peak Water” and its ramifications. Given current trends in water consumption and the natural limitations of freshwater resources, one of the largest issues that we will face in this century is water scarcity. This is particularly important because water use is integral to food production, industry, and society in general. Consequently, a global water shortage would affect all aspects of life.

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Why are kids so fat? The corporate capture of our youth's eating habits.

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more information about the course and assignment, click here.

During the summer of 2007, I had an internship at the University of Maryland Hospital working within a research program called TOPS (tips on parenting study). One section of the program was focused on educating young inner city mothers on proper nutrition and dieting techniques they should employ for their children who were abnormally overweight for their very young age. I was surprised to learn how little fresh fruits and vegetables these children consumer on a daily basis and how much fast food and processes snacks they consumed regularly. This curiosity continued to develop when I chose Food Science and Politics as my PWR course this quarter.

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U.S. Beef: Is it Safe?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics Class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Last year in Korea, there was a huge anti-US beef import demonstration throughout the country. People in Korea were concerned about the safety of US beef, and thought that the import of US beef may trigger the epidemics of mad cow’s disease in Korea.

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The Java Junky's Dilemma: Why We Should Care about Caffeine

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

For better of for worse, we live in a society built up on caffeine highs. It’d be difficult to look at corporate giants like Starbucks and Red Bull and not realize how readily available and widely used caffeine is. But all caffeine users have heard those rumors in the latte line that a cup o’ joe will do all sorts of crazy things to you if you have too much. It’ll give you cancer; it’ll kill you baby if you’re pregnant, etc.


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I Love Bottled Water!

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics Class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

I have an unhealthy obsession with bottled water. Every trip to Safeway or Whole Foods results in another purchase of some new, innovatively sourced bottled water that I have to have. Spring water pumped from the depths of the what’s-its-name spring in Timbuktu? Count me in! But the elation from buying a new bottle is halfhearted. Why spend money on a bottle of water that is thousands of times more expensive than water from the tap? The conspicuous consumer inside of me explains that bottled water is cleaner and healthier…right?

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Food Aid: The Modern Colonialist's Tool?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

There seems no simpler solution to the problem of hunger than more food. Hunger, then, represents little more than a misallocation of resources: if only America would share her surplus of corn, for instance, then Kenya would not starve. However the issue has proven to be more complicated. Indeed economists have yet to reach a consensus on the actual effect of international food aid on its beneficiaries.

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Corn-based Ethanol: Solution to Global Warming or Looming Food Disaster

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Over the past few years, the largest crop in the United States, corn, has been increasingly used for producing ethanol in a bid to use more alternative fuels in day-to-day life, such as transport. While such efforts are certainly admirable in attempting to combat global warming, I will be looking at whether they are worth the price both figuratively and literally?

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Chocolate: The Not So Guilty Pleasure

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Recently, there has been a lot of debate about the health benefits of eating chocolate. Many sources insist that chocolate is healthy, while others disagree. As a chocolate lover, I decided for my research paper to determine whether or not I can actually eat chocolate without feeling guilty, if something so tasty, can really be healthy.

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Grass-Fed Beef

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and assignment, click here.

I have always been a vegetarian and have long been interested in environmental sustainability. These two interests have come together recently as I have been helping to develop a social movement to promote sustainable eating. This connection between food and sustainability has translated into the paper I recently finished. While many people see cars as a major cause of climate change, a greater culprit may actually be cows. Thus the question of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to beef production is of vital importance.

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GM crops: the double-edged sword in the environment?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

As one who is always interested in modern technology and their products, I am fascinated by their multi-faceted impact in scientific, social and environmental realms. The hot debate on GM crops and their potential environmental benefits and risks draws my attention as GM crops are developed by the revolutionary scientific invention of the twentieth century, genetic engineering. By analyzing the environmental impact of GM crops, I can then evaluate the influence of modern technology on society. Thus, in the research project, I aim to compare GM crops and other agriculture alternatives on their impact on the environment and reveal the role that science and technology play in the interaction between GM crops and the environment.

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Nutrition, Our Energizer Bunny

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more information about the assignment and course, please click here.

The research topic that I am interested in addressing is the benefits of nutrition in supplying the human body with energy. I will be discussing how having a balanced diet can effect the efficiency of an individual in the work place and in day-to-day activities.

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The Paleolithic Diet: Just Another Fad Diet?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

With the rise of obesity and other disease in America comes the need for some other way of eating and living. Why should someone living a perfectly healthy lifestyle still be suffering from health maladies? Several doctors and nutritionists have attempted to answer this question, and most offer a diet that they believe will solve weight problems and reduce disease risk.

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The Hidden Implications of the Local Food Movement on the World Economy

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Having grown up in San Diego, much of my childhood memories centered around local art, tourist attractions, and community movements. Every week, I would look forward to the early morning Sunday farmers’ markets held at a nearby elementary school playground. After years of going to these markets to explore the various aisles of rare summer squashes, hybrid tomatoes, and freshly-popped kettle corn, farmers’ markets have become an integral part of my childhood. This, coupled with a growing interest in Economics (in particular, macroeconomics), has led me to wonder about the implications of the popularizing local food movement on the world economy through GDP, cost, and employment. As both the local food movement and economy are becoming more pertinent to the world today, I was fixed on exploring their relationships and linking them through the more narrow topics of output, cost, and employment.

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Farm Policy and the Market for Sugar and Sweeteners

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Largely thanks to government policy corn is not just irreplaceable in the US food supply, but our lives. Corn is used as a sweetener source, as feedstock, as a major US commodity to export, and as a bio-fuel source. A change in one of these markets that affects demand for corn can affect other markets through a change in corn prices. High-fructose corn syrup now accounts for nearly half of all sugars and sweeteners used in the US.

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Solutions to "Food Deserts" in America

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

When I moved to California from Alaska, I was so excited about all the fresh fruits and vegetables that were suddenly available to me. As a vegetarian, I was in heaven. It was so strange to me that all of the fresh food we were served at the dining halls was grown so close to where we live. It has been easy to access fresh, healthy food. When I started going to work in a preschool in East Palo Alto twice a week, it was apparent to me that it is a very different place from where I live, although only isolated from Palo Alto by a highway.

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Addressing Food Insecurity in Africa: The Role of U.S. Food Aid and the Need for Policy Reform

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

Over the past decade, concern over worldwide food security has increased as the world’s population has exploded. Particularly in light of climate change and the search for alternative energy sources, the question of whether we will be able to feed ourselves over the next century is now an extremely urgent global issue.

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Farm Subsidies-How We Became the 'Corn People'

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

“If you are what you eat, and especially if you eat industrial food, as 99 percent of Americans do, what you are is ‘corn.’” –Michael Pollan

I first discovered that each one of us is ‘walking corn’ after I read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma in my senior Environmental Science class. The book was fascinating; before then, I had never thought about the food that I ate in such a way. I was forced to consider my typical meal: soda, fries, and some type of main dish. Everything comes from corn? Ridiculous! I learned, however, that corn is the sweetener that was in my coke, I was eating corn-fed meat, corn syrup and starch resided in my bread and my sauce, and my French fries had been soaked in corn oil. Corn, corn, corn!

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Toxic Salmon: Is Farmed Fish Really Safe?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

My topic is the impact of aquaculture on human health. Generally the discussion of fish farming centers on environmental issues and arguments concerning food safety are marginalized. I want to explore in depth this unconventional idea especially because finding the answers to the questions surrounding fish farming can help me and others become more educated, healthy consumers.

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McDonaldization and Higher Education

This entry was created by a student in Stanford’s Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

I love Happy Meals. Opening the house-shaped box, getting my free toy; it’s one of the best things about being a kid. And who hasn’t begged their parents to stay an extra fifteen minutes to play in the playground or laughed at a commercial with Ronald McDonald and the Hamburgler? McDonald’s is a part of childhood, and it’s a part of life. There are McDonalds’ all over the world and on most street corners all over America. But McDonald’s has an impact beyond just the fast food arena.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup: The Cause for America's Bulging Waistline?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.


As a child, I was extremely overweight. After learning about possible health consequences of obesity, I decided to dramatically change my lifestyle.

Today, 6 years older and 60 lbs lighter, I am still obsessed with food – but instead of shoving food into my mouth, I meticulously scrutinize every nutrition facts label I find. As nearly 2/3 of Americans are overweight, I am extremely curious as to why Americans are becoming so fat so quickly. Since I have heard many news reports about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and its responsibility for America’s bulging waistline, I decided to do my research paper on HFCS and its link to obesity.

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Monsanto the Monopoly - The Ethical Implications of Biotechnology in Africa

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

The issue I have chosen to research is a controversial one: should biotechnology companies, like Monsanto, be given the freedom to monopolise the attempts at agricultural reform in Africa during a second ‘Green Revolution’?

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Is obesity the individual's fault?

This entry was created by a student in Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics class. For more about the class and the assignment, click here.

My project is about the origin of the rapid growth of Obesity in America. Obesity is defined as having a BMI (Body Mass Index), a scale that relates ones height to weight, greater than 30 kg/m^2. In world today, the growth rate of Obesity is increasing rapidly to the point where one in three adults in America are obese. There have been many proposed ideas for the cause of this dramatic growth increase such as ideas ranging from genetics factors, environmental pressures, or even an evolutionary explanation. One of the most recent developments is a direct contrast to the commonplace idea that obesity is caused by individual choice.

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February 08, 2010

Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics

Stanford's Rhetoric of Food Science and Politics students are half-way through the quarter and fully emersed in their research projects! Right now, the students are becoming experts in issues related to their topics as a first step toward writing their own original research-based arguments. Students in the Stanford class will be collaborating with students in City College New York's Science Writing class, sharing research ideas, sources, and argument strategies.

The students are writing about the following topics and issues:

Biofuels: Beyond the Carbon Debate
Take Over by the Fast Food Method
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Necessitate Farming Reform
Can We Become Addicted to Sugar?
Death by Corn
Water: from Common to Commodity
The USDA Food Pyramid: Should You Trust the Government?
Curing Africa’s Hungry: Reconciling Science and Economics to Solve Africa’s Hunger Crisis
Global Water Scarcity: A Grave Threat
The corporate capture of our youth's eating habits
U.S. Beef: Is it safe?
The Java Junky's Dilemma: Why We Should Care about Caffeine
Bottled Water
Food Aid: The Modern Colonialist's Tool?
Corn-based Ethanol: Solution to Global Warming or Looming Food Disaster
Chocolate: The Not So Guilty Pleasure
Grass-Fed Beef
The interaction between genetically Mmdified crops and the environment
Nutrition, Our Energizer Bunny
The Paleolithic Diet: Just Another Fad Diet?
The Implications of the Local Food Movement on the World Economy
Farm Policy and the Market for Sugar and Sweeteners
Solutions to "Food Deserts" in America
Food Insecurity in Africa: The Role of U.S. Food Aid
Farm Subsidies-How We Became the 'Corn People'
Toxic Salmon: Is Farmed Fish Really Safe?
McDonaldization and Higher Education
High Fructose Corn Syrup: The Cause for America's Bulging Waistline?
Monsanto the Monopoly - The Ethical Implications of Biotechnology in Africa
Is obesity the individual's fault?

The students would welcome feedback on their ideas as they continue to refine their topics and arguments, revise their research question, and brainstorm effective ways to pursue their projects.