[Image credit: minthu]
Over the last 200 years, the global population has been growing at an exponential rate and according to the UN, is predicted to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. The population increase to date, has been supported by the development of agricultural, industrial and health care resources, which has led to the rise in the production and use of a variety of different chemicals. In recent years, many of the substances, either used in or created by these industries have been named as “emerging contaminants” (EC’s). Until very recently, the main focus of the impacts that chemicals cause in the environment was mainly attributed to heavy metals, active ingredients traditionally used in pesticides and persistent organic pollutants. However, concern has been growing over the environmental and health risks of EC’s. Many EC’s are considered to be water pollutants, yet they remain largely unregulated by current water-quality standards. So what are these chemicals and why are they a problem?
Just three little words, “global health security”, but they represent such depths of meaning. A hundred years of modern scientific enquiry into infectious diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and now zika. The wake up call of SARS and swine flu, where viruses with dramatic results leapt the species barrier. The galvanising effect of West Africa’s Ebola epidemic on the WHO, the international NGO and donor community and on governments. The concern over emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, so many of them zoonotic in origin.
The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in livestock and crops, as well as trade and consumption of GMOs are highly controversial topics.
Proponents of genetic engineering argue that GMOs represent the only viable solution to food shortages in an ever-growing global population. They claim that the use of GMOs in agriculture and their consumption have caused no harm to livestock or humans so far. Heated debate also persists over GMO food labelling, with food manufacturers in the USA arguing that mandatory GMO labelling hinders the development of agricultural biotechnology, and may also “exacerbate the misconception” that GMOs endanger human health. Continue reading
Lancet Countdown has published its first annual report, monitoring how we are doing on action against climate change in relation to health. Its findings show that climate change is affecting health today and affects those in developing countries disproportionately. Twenty-five years of inaction on climate change have damaged our health, says the report, but it also found some promising signs of accelerating action in the last few years including increased research into climate effects on health, more funding directed at health and climate change and moves away from fossil fuels to renewable, cleaner energy boding well for heart and respiratory health.
Addiction is, by its very nature, about loss of control. The more I’ve been in this job and the longer I’ve lived, the more substances seem to be added to the addictive list.
In the past few weeks, my early morning news on the radio has featured addiction to alcohol, to food, to gambling, to smart phones, to illegal psychoactive substances, and, the inspiration for this blog, to opioid prescription painkillers. Sadly yet more deaths and lives destroyed.
We all use our nose much more than we think. Is this fish okay to eat? Can you smell gas? Mmm, they smell nice! From knowing when to change a baby’s nappy to choosing (and using) a particular deodorant, odours affect our behaviour on a daily basis. And yet, we do not consider ourselves a very "smell dependant" species. Indeed, we rely heavily on sight and sounds in our interactions with our surroundings. But the reality is that odours – and our ability to smell them – have a huge influence on our well-being.
Guest blog contributed by Claire Saunders, a student at Oxford Brookes University, currently on placement at CABI.
Many people are not sure how omega oils feature in their diet and in what quantities they should be consuming them. Confounded by acronyms such as PUFA, ALA and DHA, it’s tempting just to eat a piece of fish and hope for the best. Considering that many of are not getting even the minimum levels in our diet that are deemed “critical” to health by the World Health Organization (WHO), maybe we should rethink our 'laissez faire' attitude. A 2016 systematic review revealed that 80% of the world has low or very low blood levels of DPA and EHA. When questioned, a third or consumers in Germany, UK and USA were unsure how much they should be consuming. There follows a practical guide to omega oils.