Sunday, July 7, 2013

GMOs Good idea or health risk?

Good Morning.

This week, GMOs, and growth hormones! In my opinion they are doing more harm then good and I hope I will be able to increase the knowledge of my loyal readers through this post. Before we launch into this topic a few Canadian definitions:

Genetically Modified:

An organism, such as a plant, animal or bacterium, is considered genetically modified if its genetic material has been altered through any method, including conventional breeding. A "GMO" is a genetically modified organism.
Genetically Engineered:
An organism is considered genetically engineered if it was genetically modified using techniques that permit the direct transfer or removal of genes in that organism. Such techniques are also called recombinant DNA or rDNA techniques.

People are often confused about the two and use the term GMO as a blanket term for all things bad about our food supply chain. GMOs have been around since the dawn of time, I mean after all who wouldn't want a bigger cow or better tasting wheat? So, selective breeding programs and selective cross pollination have been used since the world was created. I have no problem with that, my problem lies with the addition or removal of DNA strands, scientists are messing with the very building blocks of our food.  In spite of the fact that I will use the term GMO I am not talking about wise animal husbandry I am talking about the addition or removal of DNA. 

Growth hormones and Genetically Modified Organisms are the new norm; why? The almighty dollar. Farmers have realised that if they can get a chicken ready for market in six days instead of six weeks they make more money. They have realised that if they can grow cleaner grain crops bigger and faster they will make more money. However, in trying to gain more cash they are putting our lives and the lives of our children at risk. Has anyone seen a definitive study on the effects of animal growth hormones in people? How about a study on the cumulative health effects of GMO produce? 

Prince Charles of England called them the “biggest environmental disaster of all time.” A recent poll in Europe found that 60% of respondents considered “Frankencrops” a threat to public health. In 2007, the United States launched a planned retaliation against European countries for refusing to take GMOs into their food chains. In 2009 Monsanto sued Germany because it banned these products. 

Jose Barroso who is a strong supporter of GMOs and was responsible for the recent illegal approvals of the GMO potato and Intacta soybeans, has been working to undermine current law and regulations on GMOs. If this stuff is good for us why would people like Jose be trying to sneak it into our food stream? 

We as a family are slowly switching to organic foods and naturally grown meat. We have quit buying processed foods, including flour and coffee. My wife has always been a great baker and outstanding cook but, she was buying the same flour as the rest of the population. You know the stuff, comes in a big bag from the local supermarket, bleached white flour. This stuff is not really flour, it is a gluten rich binding agent that a lot of people use to bake with. 

Why are our children maturing faster then ever before? Animal growth hormones. The animals are fed hormones and then slaughtered. The hormones are still in the meat we buy at the stores and feed to our kids! That can not be healthy. 

Please write to your politicians and let them know that you think these genetically modified foods should be labeled so that as consumers we can make informed choices about our health and the health of our kids. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Common Sense?

Good Morning,

I'm going to be getting up on my little soapbox and speaking my mind today. I am going to explore a topic that every one has an opinion on. No, not politics; I can't stand most politicians and not religion; I will save that for another day. Today, I am going to look at our society and why common sense seems to be more scarce then hens teeth. 

I believe there several reasons that the youth of today are so lacking in common sense. I will only look at one reason today. Other wise this won't be a blog it will be a book. I am annoyed at the general lack of common sense and am very passionate about letting people know why the youth of today are generally lacking in it.

The TD Bank released a study that revealed that 39.3 per cent of Canadian children aged 15 don't have the literary skills to function effectively in today's world. One in four Canadian adults are functionally innumerate, while one in five are functionally illiterate. The numbers jump to 48 per cent of the adult population over 16 when tested for the ability to use the information that they read effectively. Fifty-five per cent of Canadians have inadequate skills when it comes to basic math. These results were released in 2007 and I am convinced that it's only getting worse. How can a person with a lack of general knowledge have common sense? 

My opponents will argue that "book smarts" and "street smarts" are two different things. They are but, if a person has little to no working knowledge or is an able to read how can they get "street smarts"? When I am faced with a new challenge and have no idea how to tackle it I will read a book, or find a web page or two and do some research. In doing so I gain an understanding of how other people have solved a similar problem or how that thing works. If I am able to grasp a basic understanding of how something works I may be able to "reverse engineer" the problem and figure it out. 

The school system is failing our future leaders and the teachers and government are arguing over salaries and class size. I think that there is a bigger problem that no one wants to admit or deal with. My lovely wife and I home school our kids, the school systems was failing our son. He was way behind and the school was pushing him ahead rather then trying to fix the problem. Less then a year after we started home schooling him he had, no only caught up with where he should be but, passed his former class mates. I know that class sizes matter and that if teachers don't receive fair compensation they won't care but, why would a school push a kid through when he or she is obviously not ready to move up? We are far to concerned about their self esteem, and as a result we are sending kids into the real world with no real world skills. 

So, until next week when we will be covering another topic that I am very passionate about. Have a great week and in the words of Red Green "Keep your stick on the ice".

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Back Story

Have you ever heard about something and thought "That would be cool"? Or "I wish I knew how to do that"? Well, that happened to me several years ago. I was told by my doctor to get a hobby, I had to much stress and energy. So, I decided to sit down and evaluate my life and see what I would want to do as a stress release.

Now, the back story, when I was several years younger then I am now I was in high school. As part of the curriculum I enrolled in wood shop. Our teacher was a tall, grey haired fellow named, Earnest Voth. I am still not sure what his qualifications were to teach a rowdy group of high school boys how th use power tools but, he did a good job. Our first project was a hand tool only bench hook, mine ended up looking like a bench hook but, wasn't very functional. I think I miss measured and as a result it took more effort to hold it place then to actually cut the wood! I then moved on to the chair. I ended up with a very functional chair, all be it  a little uncomfortable. I was most interested in the final project, a project of our own choosing. To this day my mom still has the shelf I built, I ran out of time to build the doors and the towel rack is a square piece of wood. The years went by, I moved on to different things and moved the information I had learned in wood shop to the back corners of my brain.

Fast forward, I went to see my doctor for reasons I will not get into right now but, he told me I needed a hobby. Something I would find relaxing and a stress release. So in sitting down and pondering my past experiences I pulled out the wood shop classes of my youth. I wasn't sure if it was the  atmosphere or the actual wood working that I found relaxing and fun but, I was determined to figure it out. So, I purchcased a scroll saw, I made a few coasters, some wall hangings, a clock for a pastor and various other stuff. It was fun but not really what I would call relaxing. I was hunched over a saw, trying my best to follow lines drawn on a piece of wood, knowing that after I finished cutting it I would still have to sand it a put on some kind of finish.

Christmas time, the year is 2008, the place is my inlaws living room. We are all sitting around opening presents, I am getting a little sad, after all I have been watching everyone elase open several gifts and I don't have a single one yet. Then, my father-in-law, picks up a gift, obviously heavy and sets in in my lap. There is a twinkle in his eye and every one, except the kids, stops doing what they are doing and looked at me! I peel off the paper and open the gift that really launched my wood working hobby! My very own lathe! No, it's not very big, or powerful. No, I can't turn bowls or even a big goblet, but I can make square pieces of wood round, that's good enough for me. Shortly there after I discovered pen turning. I picked up a few cheap kits from my local Lee Valley and gave it a shot, I was hooked!

There is something about taking a square piece of wood, drilling some holes, cutting it and making it into a useful work of art that I find incredibly relaxing. I have turned well over a hundred pens and have sold or gifted most of them. I have also started making bullet pens, the lowed barrel is actually made from a real, unfired 30-06 shell. There is something a little sereal about going into a hunting store or a gun shop and picking up bullets knowing that they will never be fired or even be put into a gun. They say the pen is mightier then the sword, I wonder if they ever thought that the bullet could be made in to a pen?