Can I live?

Can I liveSweater by my friend with skills on his label B-Side by Wale. For more click here.

Hello Geeks,

Firstly and most importantly I need to say a huge THANK YOU to you for all the lovely messages of support and appreciation I have received thus far. I do not have the words to convey to you how much it means to me to open my in-box after a few weeks and find so many encouraging messages. I know I have been very slack of late with my posts and so I wanted to take a moment to let you all in on what has unintentionally kept me away for so long.

This year has been exceptionally busy and I have learnt lots. I have definitely learnt that running your own consultancy business, writing a bog, teaching, caring for your parents and having a social life all at the same time totally messes with your time management scenario. However, you will be pleased to know that I think I have a handle on it all now and will be religiously aiming to put geeky science associated words to keyboard every Friday at the very least from this day on. Word to my mama (who is visiting from Sudan at the moment :-).

I wanted to give you a quick run down of some of the things I have been doing lately and let you in on what I’m working on next before moving onwards and upwards with the blog. I find it quite difficult to talk about myself in this context but I have been given strict advice by my mentor and good friends to start self promoting myself more, so here it goes. Of-course, I have “scientific” evidence to show for my lack of postings and self promotion in the form of stories and photographs you will be please to know.

I was asked to panel on the Africa Today show with Henry Bonsu to discuss the use of genetically modified foods in Africa. It was my first major TV experience and I was super nervous having only been asked to do it a few days before. I had a lot of fun and I am looking forwards to more experience in that area in the near future (watch this space).

TVA month or so later, I was invited to speak at Oxford University. I shared my experiences in science to date, my PhD research, my blog and what I thought the future of science education and research would be. It was an amazing experience, one that I will not forget and the food at the gala was immense.

Oxford1Oxford2I have also been busy giving lectures, talks and panelling at events in and around greater London, visiting schools, Universities as well as community groups. It has been humbling to meet so many varied people ranging from Essex to Lewisham to Eaton and I have learned so much in the process. The new generation of youngsters coming out of school are incredibly inspiring. I cant wait for the world to meet them.

SchoolThe most recent event I had the pleasure of being invited to panel on was hosted  at the Deutsche Bank head quarters in London for the STEMettes event aimed at presenting Women in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths. I met some amazing women and will be sharing more of that with you soon.

STEMettesI also just came back from an amazing vacation in Brazil, Salvador Bahia. I was starting to burn out and I have always been a firm believer in the concept that if you want to achieve great things you need to give your body the energy and love it needs to keep taking you upwards and onwards. So I listened, and ignored all the millions of reasons for why I should not take a break and listened to my tired body, mind and spirit and spent three weeks relaxing in the sun, sea and sand. It was bliss.

BahiaBeachSunsetI am so thankful for the blessings that I have been given so far and I have returned from Bahia with so much renewed energy. I am very excited about what’s coming next and look forwards to sharing with you. I will be adding a new subsection to my blog and it is going to be called Real Geeks where I will be interviewing some of the many new and interesting people I am meeting who I feel are total geeks who can share with us all some amazing stories about what they do and/or what they are passionate about in the world of science, art, health and more. It is going to be so much fun, I cant wait to share the first interview with you. In the meantime, I am going to share with you some new music that I love. If you do not have the new Omar album titled The Man, please do yourself a favour and buy it now. Click play below for a taster.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading my story and I’m looking forwards to writing and posting my next FIG post. Oh, I am also in the middle of designing a new logo for the blog that I will reveal soon, good times :-).  Have a great weekend all.

E

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Geek Out: Angelina and family take on breast cancer

Angelina

Hello Geeks,

I want to start by saying thank you to all my followers, readers and sharers. It has been a few weeks since my last post, life sometimes throws you a curve ball that takes you off track but I am back on it now. I have received so many lovely messages asking me to write more and your support is invaluable. Thank you so much.

I am in the middle of writing up a few posts simultaneously, one of which is very dear to my heart but before I wrap them up and post them I wanted to share Angelina Jolie’s amazing story in which she shares with us her decision to have a preventative double mastectomy. I have always secretly admired this woman for her strength, leadership and fighting for what she believes in despite what the media or people say about her.

It was the first thing I read this morning and it resonated with me much for two reasons. One, my father suffers from cancer and although it was in remission for a while it came back full throttle early last year and it made me wonder about the chances of me and my siblings developing the same cancer. Two, I remembered writing a post a while back about how important it was for all women to do the monthly breasts check up for lumps, this is one of the simplest ways for us to take some preventative action and control. My favourite quote from Angelina’s story is “Life comes with many challenges. The ones that should not scare us are the ones we can take on and take control of”

Click here for her full story. Read it, share it and then go back to my post about breast cancer checks , in-fact I am going to re-post it right after this post. In the words of Angelina and Janet, take control ladies, only you can. Play Janet in the background and do it now, if you are at work take a toilet break and do it in the toilet, don’t procrastinate with your health.

Ex

Google Glass

GoogleGlass2

Hello Geeks,

I was surprised that when I mentioned Google Glass to my friends and colleagues in-order to find out what they thought about it, not all of them knew what I was talking about. Secretly, I think I also want to be a tech nerd because I get really excited about new technology, inventions and gadgets. I am super-excited about Google Glass, it feels like “The Future” that I imagined as a kid has finally arrived…well, almost.

On the 20th of February, Google finally released Google Glass to the public. However, the people at Google are very clever and have come up with a brilliant marketing strategy. You cannot go and simply buy Glass just yet, no that would be too easy and Apple have upped the game when it comes to creating hype around a product.

google glass

In-order to get your hands on one of these bad boys you have to enter an essay contest of sorts and apply to The Google Glass Explorers Programme (you can Google that if you want to know more or get involved). Once you have been selected as worthy by the Glass team, you also have to pay $1,500 dollars and they are yours to do as you please with; EXCEPT you are legally bound from re-selling it to anyone or Google will de-activate the product (I knew they always had control over our gadgetsl!). Don’t worry, if you do not want to be an explorer or write 50 words or less followed by the #ifihadglass, Google aims to bring Glass to the market early next year for all.

Click on the video below and get hyped.

Oh and please humour me and click on this video, too funny.

E

Q- Dr E, how do I know if I am lactose intolerant or not?

SayCheese_Lactose

Happy Friday Geeks,

It has been a while since my last knock knock post and I’m excited to put this one out. I get asked this question all the time and it is not an easy one to answer scientifically but I am going to give it my best shot. It is science “thick” but I am going to do my best here to touch all bases and hopefully make the science easier for everyone to digest (like my little pun here?)

I hear people say they think they are lactose intolerant quite often and they usually go to the extreme of cutting out all dairy products. I can definitely understand why that would be the first point of action for many, but it has always worried me because dairy products are our main form of calcium intake (as well as good protein and carbohydrate sources). Calcium is a very important part of our diet and it is hard for many to grasp how important it is until they are at an age (50 and over) where they are prone to an increase in bone fractures and other calcium related dis-orders associated with calcium restriction.

Let me start by explaining to you what lactose actually does for us. Lactose is the main source of sugar from milk and milk products from all mammals except the sea lion. After ingestion, lactose passes into the small intestine where it comes into contact with lactase (a natural enzyme within our bodies) at the intestinal brush border where it is hydrolysed/converted into the monosaccharides glucose and galactose (sugars), which are easily absorbed. In-short, lactose is good for us because it can be converted to sugars by lactase which are then used by many bio-chemical processes in our systems. Remember sugars are not bad!, sugars are basically our human fuel or petrol, a car can’t run properly without a good supply of petrol and the same goes for our bodies. Over subscription to sugars is what is bad.

Save_Lactose

Now that is out of the way. What do we mean when we say someone is lactose intolerant? And this is where it can get a little confusing. Time for the hard-core science section.

Non-digested lactose can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea and distending the intestines (bloating, cramps, abdominal discomfort) as well as psychological symptoms, events that are likely to lead to clinical symptoms.

Lactose malabsorption refers to inefficient digestion of lactose due to reduced expression or impaired activity of the enzyme lactase.

Lactose intolerance is when the gastrointestinal symptoms are clinically observed in an individual with lactose malabsorption.

Lactose_Intolerance_Diagram

What causes lactose malabsorption I hear you ask? The most common cause of lactose malabsorption is lactase non-persistence also known as lactase deficiency, a common condition in which lactase expression decreases during infancy. What this means is that we naturally start off needing lactose as it is our earliest form of providing our systems with the sugars/energy it needs to grow and develop to adults. But, as we get older we don’t need it as much. I am about to really go in on this, hope you are ready?

Lactase activity changes during development. In most humans, lactase activity reaches a maximum in late pregnancy but declines after 2–3 years of age and reaches a stable low level at age 5–10 (this is thought to be a process which might help weaning). However, a proportion of the human population, especially Caucasians from Northern Europe or Northern European descent, retain high lactase levels during adulthood. This is known as lactase persistence. Just to be clear, lactase persistence means you and lactose can be good friends, if you want to.

Therefore, lactase persistence and non-persistence are both “normal” human phenotypes. What is very interesting, is where lactase persistence is found and why?  The prevalence of lactase persistence is high  in most regions in Scandinavia, the British Islands, and Germany (80–95%); however, this condition is observed in only 20–40% of Indian adults, 30% of Mexicans, 30% of African Americans.

Lactase persistence is thought to be related to the development of farming during the last 10,000 years. Just in-case you really really wanted to know, the genetic polymorphism responsible for most cases of lactase persistence in Caucasian individuals is the13910C/T variant (it’s all very straight-froward :-), T at position 13910 upstream of the lactase gene within a putative regulatory DNA-region causes persistence; C leads to non-persistence). Basically if you are from any of these regions you are good and if you are mixed, then you are also good because lactose malabsorption is a recessive condition meaning you need a homozygous genotype as a heterozygous/mixed geneotype is considered clinically negative.

African tribes that herd cattle in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania also have high prevalence for lactase persistence. However, lactase persistence is mediated by a different polymorphism (gene/DNA change). Importantly, this tells us that lactase persistence developed several times independently in human evolution in different areas of the world. So again, if you are east African you and lactose can be good friends. Of-course exceptions to the rule do exist, as they do with everything. (for review, see Ingram et al Human Genet 2009; 124: 579–591)

Lactose_Map

Statistical calculations of genetic data estimated that selection for lactase persistence commenced relatively recently, during the last 10,000 years. Lactase persistence was beneficial for our ancestors by providing a clean source of fluid and a source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates  generating a selective advantage of 1.5–19% in each generation. This indicates a strong selection pressure comparable to malaria resistance genes (2–5% for G6PD deficiency, 5–18% for sickle-cell trait) in various parts of the world. That is a big deal by the way, selective advantages are hard to prove.

So those rumours that humans are not supposed to drink milk, especially cows milk are questionable for two reasons, two very different reasons, in my humble opinion. Firstly, no significant bio-chemical difference between lactose in breast milk and cows milk has been observed, they both get digested in the same way via the lactase enzyme, which is common and present a birth. It is very rare that you are born lactose intolerant (known as congenital lactase deficiency). Secondly, cows milk has been reported to be ingested by humans from times dating back to the father of man, The Prophet Abraham according Biblical and Quranic scriptures and that tells me something, whether you are spiritual or not, history should at least strike a cord here? or maybe be not? As a scientist, I personally believe all evidence should be taken into account, including historical, religious, spiritual evidences.

Saying all the above, I do appreciate that many people are experiencing discomfort when ingesting milk and dairy products. So what do you do if you are one of them?

Treatment of lactose intolerance should not be aimed at reducing malabsorption but rather at improving digestive symptoms. Reduction of lactose intake rather than exclusion is recommended because long-term effects of lactose restriction may help improve gastrointestinal complaints but can lead to other damages. For example, the long-term effects of a diet free of dairy products may be a concern as you are significantly decreasing the amount of calcium. Low calcium levels are leading to an increase in fractures and orthopaedic problems. Adolescents require approximately 1300mg and over 50’s approximately 1200mg of calcium, which is roughly equal to 3 cups of milk per day. Furthermore, in blinded studies results indicate that most patients with self-reported lactose intolerance can ingest at least 12g lactose (equivalent to 250ml milk) without experiencing symptoms and taken with other foods, up to 18g lactose can often be tolerated (Suarez FL, Savaiano DA and Levitt MD, N Engl J Med1995; 333: 1–4).

I know I took you all through the paces with this one, but I really wanted to flesh this one out. As with everything all food groups are important and good for you as long as it is taken with moderation, completely cutting out a good source of calcium because you think you may be lactose intolerant is not recommended. But, if you are then you should take all necessary steps to make sure you are providing your body with the healthy amount of nutrients it requires. Many lactose supplements and calcium supplements produced as “drugs” are available that can be taken to supplement your diet, but I hope you go the foodie route, it is much more colourful, fun and tastes all so wonderful.

Lactose_ComicStrip

Hope you enjoyed the read and if the science was too “thick” for you ( ha, not sure why I like that word today, but like I do) click play and relax to this brilliant song by James Blake.

Have a great weekend all.

E

Weapons of choice – guerilla gardening

GG1

Hello Geeks,

I have been meaning to post this video for over two weeks when a good friend of mine put me on it. You may have guessed I am a big fan of TED videos so I make no apologies for posting up yet another amazing story.

Ron Finley had a major problem with the fast food culture in his community and would drive for 45mins out of town to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables to help him maintain a healthy diet and life-style. This video is about how one inspirational man and his vision provided some alternative to fast food in a community where “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

He plants vegetable gardens in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs in South Central LA. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some hope for future generations. Press play and witness how one man’s great vision/seed grew and became a pillar of education, empowerment and hope for his community.

One of my favourite quotes from his talk is “you will be surprised how much of a difference a sunflower makes, they are beautiful just to look at”

Sunflower

So on that note I want to leave you with one of my all time favourite songs. Special shout out to my London people fighting the April snow.

Eyman

p.s We are trying to grow our own avocado plant at home.  The roots have started to shoot but we are not sure if it’s time to pot it or not? anyone got any tips they can send my way? or even better some photos.

How to reverse climate change- The best argument I have seen so far.

New_ClimateChange

Hey Geeks,

This past week in London has been crazy weather wise, we have experienced snow, rain and sunshine all in one day and within moments of each other. This has been the coldest March in over 70 years. Those that know me, know I am not a fan of the cold, I much prefer temperatures close to and above the 30 degrees Celsius mark, I am from what they term sub-saharan Africa after-all.

Naturally, I kept blaming it all on climate change and that got me to researching the topic yet again. The battle against climate change has always been a complicated one leading to heated discussions mainly because the world we live in is controlled by many factors such as politics, economics, health and population dynamics. As you can imagine, these factors do not go well together especially when they are pitched up against science and carbon cutting necessities such as reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. But let us not get too political here. That is not what this post is about, I want to introduce you to a new exciting theory I came across during my research. I love TED for things like this.

Deserts_ClimateChange

Whilst researching I came across Allan Savory’s TED talk titled- How to green the desert and reverse climate change. It blew me away. I learned so much and his theory actually makes more sense than anything else I have ever read on the topic. I don’t want to give too much away but the man made a mistake in his early career and spent the rest of his life figuring out a way to make up for it. The story and science is compelling to say the least and I urge you to press play and hear him out (he is a slow talker but he talks with passion and heart).

He said “We once thought the earth was flat. We were wrong. We are wrong again. I was wrong”. It takes a brave man to admit his mistake and dedicate his life to fixing that mistake.

This is one of my favourite songs as it is one of the few early songs that uses Sudan within the lyrics and I thought it was very fitting for this post.

Press play and enjoy the journey.

Have a great weekend.

Eyman

Fire In The Blood

FireInTheBlood

Hello,

I have been waiting to see this documentary ever since I read about it over 6 months ago. It was finally release here on the 23rd of February to my excitement. Unfortunately, viewing it turned out to be much more difficult than I anticipated. Several frustrating searches revealed that it was only showing at a hand full of cinemas in London and even at these cinemas it was only showing at those “difficult to make” times.

I actually do not know why I expected it to be, maybe because it was given great reviews at Sundance and by most major critics and I some how lost track that it is actually reporting one of the worlds largest humanitarian disgraces; the failure of western pharmaceutical companies to provide affordable drugs to patients in the developing world. So of course it would not be “main-streamed”.

This campaigning documentary basically indicts the pharmaceutical giants that could have saved millions from AIDS in the developing world. This is what the the Guardian said about it:

“As presented, the corporate defence sounds horribly racist: that poorer Africans’ inability to read packaging or tell the time leaves them ill-suited to following any medication program. For some time, director Dylan Mohan Gray is limited to restating the same depressing story, using input from doctors and campaigners to punctuate footage of families grieving around child-sized coffins. But hope emerges in the form of the Indian physicist Yusuf Hamied, whose company Cipla undertook in the noughties to produce cheap, generic drugs in defiance of the Pfizer patent lawyers. As the indignation rises, the outcome of this battle cannot entirely be guessed, although one closing credit appears to address Big Pharma directly: “Help prevent a sequel.”

Please, if it is showing anywhere near you, go and watch this documentary. Conspiracy theory aside, it is important that you know that HIV/AIDs should not be around now (we know all we need to know about it as scientists/researchers) and medically we know how to put a stop to it. Why is it still around and increasing, polio isn’t and neither is small pox!?!?!?!?

Click on the trailer below.

I am going to see it tomorrow at Ritzy, Brixton, London. I hope it gives us all food for thought and further understanding to the type of world we live. Maybe in the future, we can figure out a way to support those who do not follow the “rules” and get rid of medical patents. I hope.

E

Genetically Modified Foods Can Make or Break Africa? The Debate.

GMO1

Hey All,

I did promise more on the Science Theories section so here it is. Roughly, three weeks ago I was invited to debate the topic of this post on the Africa Today show for Press TV by Henry Bonsu. It was a great experience and brought back to light an subject that was very much in the public eye over 10 years ago but has since slipped under the radar.

The reason for this re-interest in the subject was Kenya’s recent decision to ban the import of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s). I want to take a moment to explain the science behind GMO’s before getting into the debate.

The general feeling behind genetically modified foods or organisms in Europe and the UK is an instant flurry of negatives emotions. I know this, because I get to hear the general public express those emotions at a geneticists quite often. This is by far not the public’s fault, however, it is exactly what the media has lead you to feel and think. I am about to tell you why, but first the hardcore science explanation.

I simplify genetically modified organisms as super-speed Mendelian genetics. Gregor Mendel (1822–1884) spent many years cross pollinating different strains of plants, mainly peas, in-order to create the best/strongest/weakest/largest/smallest version of the plant/pea. He noticed that some species had certain traits that he deemed worthy and others he deemed unworthy, for want of another word. Mendel demonstrated that the inheritance of certain traits followed particular patterns, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance. One of the most significant discoveries in Science. Absolutely brilliant stuff for that time.

After completing his work with peas, Mendel turned to experimenting with honeybees to extend his work to animals. He produced a hybrid strain so vicious they were destroyed, but failed to generate a clear picture of their heredity because of the difficulties in controlling mating behaviours of queen bees. He also described novel plant species. What is important to note here is that this process is seen as “natural” by the media as it didn’t happen in a laboratory. However, it is not “natural” as it was forced by a series of events created by a person, in this case Mendel. For it to happen naturally it would mean Mendel had to live three life-times for us to gain the same results.

Now fast-forward to today’s modern day science, following the “genetic revolution” and this same process is no longer “natural” but “un-natural” because it happens much faster in a laboratory and we are more precise about which traits we deem as worthy. Instead of waiting for each new plant to produce a new hybrid, we can now insert the desired DNA or genetic information that produces the hybrid we want, more precisely and dare I say it, more safely. Why? because we have the technology and means to do it, we can read whole DNA sequences now. It is all very simple and very routine and has been in action for approximately many years now. Furthermore, no absolute health issues have been associated with GM foods which have been in our food chain for over 20 years now, whether you knew that or not is another matter.

Here is a simplified scientific diagram of how it works;

GMO-making

I ask you this, why have we not been asked to go back to a slower internet speeds becasue of the probable health risk which has been associated with technological radiation and its increased connectivity in the future? This also has not been absolutely proven. Maybe the media hasn’t told you to do so yet? I wonder why….could it be financial death for Western Industries?..who knows…but I am just saying..it is worth mulling over..

GMO_Int

Now to the debate. Globally, GM research is led by six large multinational companies in industrial countries, the USA being the largest. These corporate and capitalist companies drive to sell the GMO’s they produced and patented to Africa and not Europe.

Although human development, food security & environmental health issues are often the focus of marketing strategies for companies it is unlikely that such altruistic concerns are driving their investment! The developing agricultural state of Africa is a potential market as a consumer especially as Europe is not receptive to GM products (much aided by the media).

In developing countries, Brazil, Argentina, China & India are leading in independently producing GM products.  In Africa the countries which have GM capacity include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, Mali, Egypt & Uganda but very minimally. Others are only recently starting to engage in research & field trials.

As a scientist, I do not have a problem with GM crops, food or research. In-fact I would go as far as supporting it. Economic world analysis predict a major food crisis in the near future. A food crisis that I believe Africa could avoid if it was to invest in it’s own GMO research and development.

The issue is the private sector dominance has meant the focus is on developed country concerns e.g. improved crop quality instead of drought tolerance or yield enhancement, saving labour costs associated to herbicides and insecticides. Insect resistant crops are particularly important for Africa due to infestation losses leading to approximately 15% of losses. In some cases, such as with the African cassava mosaic virus total loss of harvests has been reported. Genetically modified cassava could save African farmers large economic losses. So far the only way to stop it is intensive use of insecticides, which is expensive & also known to lead to biosafety issues later down the line such as those reported by the use of DDT (currently banned insecticide which was commonly used in the 90’s world-wide).

So what is the major problem here and why has Kenya taken such a strong stance? It is not without reason especially when you take a closer look at the industry and the politics or policies that control it.

Much like the pharmaceutical and music industries, the agricultural industry is also under the control of Intellectual Property (IP) patents and policies which are being monopolised by corporate capitalist companies mainly from the US and “west”.

GMO_Patent

Importantly, developing country considerations for balancing incentives to producers are very different from the US context. Multinationals based in the US and elsewhere who are investing large sums in biotechnology and plant breeding would need large markets for their products and strong patent protection on genes as well as on tools and varieties to protect their investments.
In other words,  strong IP recognising plants and gene patents favours corporate investment, and arguably monopolistic tendencies while discouraging small enterprises and diversity of supply which is needed in Africa. Moreover, strong IP leads to higher prices for longer periods of time. China would appear to have no IP protection for its GM and the question being asked is if weak intellectual property protection becomes a constraint to innovation?  This has now become a major challenge that policy makers face in China.
So it seems Africa is stuck between a rock and a hard-place. Do we say no and risk being the reason for Africa’s food crisis in the future? or do we fall prey to the corporate companies using our land for their own prospects. I always try to be optimistic and in my optimistic and perfect world a mid-way solution is possible. Developing countries in Africa have not developed research facilities and as such are years behind in-terms of biotechnology and innovation strategies. We need to catch up, invest and make it one of the most pressing policies for Africa’s development as a continent. Africa should rightly be the leading agricultural super-power of the world, we have been blessed with the most suitable land.
Currently, developing countries can license these transgenic biotechnologies and in some cases collaborate successfully with the west, for example Burkina Faso and the cotton industry. Another example to support my optimistic world exemplifies why research cooperation between developing countries and institutions or companies based in the developed world has been important in promoting transgenic research in Africa. 
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (SFIT) in Zurich plans to collaborate with researchers in Nigeria, the UK and the USA on the African cassava mosaic virus (Sawahel 2005). This virus is transmitted to cassava by white flies when they feed on the plant. In parts of Eastern and Central Africa, epidemics of the disease can lead to total loss of harvests. Researchers at SFIT have used genes from a virus that periodically devastates cassava crops to create cassava plants that can resist the virus. Cassava is an important food crop in many parts of Africa and is strongly affected by genetic erosion, pest infestation and plant disease (Aerni,2005). Genetically modified cassava could save African farmers large economic losses. So far, the only way to curb the virus is by intensive use of insecticide to kill white flies. But this can be prohibitively expensive for subsistence farmers and can threaten their health and that of surrounding plants and animals (Sawahel 2005). This is when you have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of scientific innovations.
But the question still begs, can revenues from patent licenses finance research and development for small markets of developing country research? As we know from the pharmaceutical sector, strong patents can be an incentive to develop high price products for high income consumers, but can do little to encourage investment in high need products for low income consumers (as good example of this are retroviral drugs for the HIV/Aids epidemic). In the pharmaceuticals sector, this has led to large investments in diseases of the wealthy and neglect of diseases of the poor – or ‘orphan diseases’. Naylor et al (2004) have argued that a similar process could be at work with private investments in agriculture. Here is where the danger lies in my opinion.
I would like to conclude by saying no technology or human activity is completely risk free, people accept new technologies or sciences because they can see the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. Public mistrust of governments & private sectors is validated in recent times. Policy makers need to be aware of this and better scientific information needs to be given to farmers and people in general. A key challenge in Africa is dealing with the information Gap. Kenya has 17 biotechnology research facilities and currently only one of them is investing in transgenic technology research for agriculture. I hope that they increase the research in this area and develop solutions for Africa by Africa.
The debate here is not black and white and I have so much more to say, although I could go on for much longer dissecting this issue, I would like to leave you with two very interesting chapters to read if you are interested. Click on this link and this link to really get stuck in.
Let me know what you think? Yay or Nay? Thank you for reading and I look forwards to your opinions and comments on this important topic.
Until next time, stay blessed.
Ex

Utopia

utopia2

Hello All,

This is the first time I am recommending a TV series and when you watch it you will understand why Geeks. This is by far the best Channel 4 Drama series I have had the pleasure of viewing in..I can’t remember how long. The writing is brilliant and the content blew me away. Not only is the writing splendid in my humble opinion but the whole thing was easy on the eye as it is coupled with beautiful photography and filming. I even went to the trouble of taking a few screen shots to share with you.

utopia1utopia4

I am no stranger to the conspiracy theories thrown at scientists, as a geneticist you hear all sorts of theories such as the “fact” that human cloning has already been achieved (this seems to be everyone’s favourite) . This is the first Sci-Fi drama  that has really made me question some of the recent scientific developments and honestly made me question how powerful science can be in the wrong hands. I don’t want to give too much away so below is the summary provided by Channel 4 ;

The Utopia Experiments is a legendary graphic novel shrouded in mystery. But when a small group of previously unconnected people find themselves in possession of an original manuscript, their lives suddenly and brutally implode.

Targeted swiftly and relentlessly by a murderous organisation known as The Network, the terrified group are left with only one option if they want to survive: they have to run.

utopia3I urge you to log onto Channel 4OD and enjoy. You can thank me later.

Eyman

Fly me to the Moon

VG1

Hello Geeks,

It has been a while I know 🙂 How are you all? Let’s pick up where we left off and keep moving onwards and upwards.  I have a lot of posts which I had half-written but never got round to posting in the midst of life’s runaway process. Despite this, I still could not make my mind up about which one to post first, until I picked up the Metro this afternoon and saw the picture of Richard Bransons Virgin Galactic Spaceport and I geeked out. I couldn’t help it. This is actually going to happen. Look at this site. WOW.

VG2

I remember reading about this proposal way back in 2005 when The State of New Mexico and Mr Branson told the world that Virgin Galactic would operate its space flights from Spaceport America in Mexico which would become “the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport”.

I am sure most of us have had that internal dialogue that goes something like this “I want to go into space, how cool would that be! but that’s never going to happen as I’m not an astronaut, oh well  😦 ”

Well don’t you worry, if all goes according to plan by next-year, that’s right, by 2014 you can pay for the privilege to do just that. And by privilege, I literally mean for the privileged few who can afford the starting price for flights at $200,000 (with refundable deposits starting from $20,000).

Ok, so the truth is I’m hating. If I could do it, I would do it. Seriously, I think I would pay that much to go into Space. Not only would the experience be a once in a life-time experience for most, but Virgin Galactic are also providing researchers and their experiments access to space. They are offering two main types of research flights that would allow scientists and researchers to carry out experiments in the correct “environment”. To find out more about the research side of things click on this link.

Let me know what you think? would you or would you not pay for the experience?

I am putting it out into the Universe. I am going to be a passenger on one of these flights. Ok, I said it out loud :-). Now I am going to sit back and listen to this and do the Atmospheric Disco Strutt in my head. Join me please.

I wanted to start again with an nice and easy post, but get ready for the Science Theories section to blow up next.  Thank you for those of you that stayed faithful and sent me messages of encouragement. You support is very much appreciated. If you are new to the blog, welcome to the experiment. Spread the word and share.

Love and Light