Are GMOs safe? Yes.

I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it’s true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

Second, the central argument of the anti-GMO movement—that prudence and caution are reasons to avoid genetically engineered, or GE, food—is a sham. Activists who tell you to play it safe around GMOs take no such care in evaluating the alternatives. They denounce proteins in GE crops as toxic, even as they defend drugs, pesticides, and non-GMO crops that are loaded with the same proteins. They portray genetic engineering as chaotic and unpredictable, even when studies indicate that other crop improvement methods, including those favored by the same activists, are more disruptive to plant genomes.

Third, there are valid concerns about some aspects of GE agriculture, such as herbicides, monocultures, and patents. But none of these concerns is fundamentally about genetic engineering. Genetic engineering isn’t a thing. It’s a process that can be used in different ways to create different things. To think clearly about GMOs, you have to distinguish among the applications and focus on the substance of each case. If you’re concerned about pesticides and transparency, you need to know about the toxins to which your food has been exposed. A GMO label won’t tell you that. And it can lull you into buying a non-GMO product even when the GE alternative is safer.

If you’re like me, you don’t really want to wade into this issue. It’s too big, technical, and confusing. But come with me, just this once. I want to take you backstage, behind those blanket assurances about the safety of genetic engineering. I want to take you down into the details of four GMO fights, because that’s where you’ll find truth. You’ll come to the last curtain, the one that hides the reality of the anti-GMO movement. And you’ll see what’s behind it.

via Are GMOs safe? Yes. The case against them is full of fraud, lies, and errors..

“Peak Car”

In what year will the number of cars in the world reach its peak and auto sales overall begin to decline? For most, it may be surprising to realize we’re already there in the U.S. Growing data shows many wealthy economies have already hit “peak car,” a point of market saturation characterized by an unprecedented deceleration in the growth of car ownership, total miles driven, and annual sales.

In just a decade or so, owning a car may well be relegated to the hobbyist, luxury market, much like owning airplanes or horses today.

The losers in this emerging world will be insurance and finance companies, and all the dealerships dependent on sales. At the same time, traffic cops and traffic courts will go away along with all the lawyers, judges, parking lots, junk yards, taxi and limo services, and thousands of other tiny businesses supporting our current human-centric driving world.

via The Coming of “Peak Car” | Futurist Thomas Frey.

Canada’s Election

There is a federal election in Canada in 2015. In most countries, investors usually have a clear idea of what they want to see from an election. They want the victory of a competent, “market-friendly” candidate, with a majority government and no significant regional divisions displayed in the country’s voting patterns. This is, in fact, what they got out of the most recent Canadian federal election, in 2011: the right-of-centre Conservative Party won a decent-sized majority government (which was Canada’s first majority government since prior to 2004), winning in Ontario, British Colombia, and the Prairies, while at the same time Quebec abandoned its independence-minded Bloc Quebecois en masse in favour of the NDP, which also became the largest opposition party by a large margin in Ontario, British Colombia, and the country as a whole.

From the perspective of investors, it is unlikely that the 2015 election will be much more favourable than the current situation that exists in Canada. Even if the Conservatives were to win an even larger majority than they have now, which seems unlikely, this would still only be a continuation of the status quo, and would therefore be unlikely to generate any excitement among Canadians or foreign investors. Plus, given that the Conservative leader Stephen Harper has been Prime Minister for just short of ten years now, this status quo may start to become tiring even for investors and Conservatives. It would certainly not induce any sort of “hope and change” optimism that could potentially help stimulate the economy in the short-term.

In contrast, it is not very difficult to imagine that the elections could make Canada less appealing to investors. Here’s one scenario that would be much worse from an investor’s view: the Liberal Party, led by 43-year old Justin Trudeau (the son of a former Canadian Prime Minister) wins a minority government in parliament, while, on a provincial level, the country is regionally divided in its voting patterns, with Ontario going primarily for the Liberals, Quebec voting primarily for the NDP, the Prairie provinces voting primarily for the Conservatives, and British Columbia roughly splitting its vote between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

In such a scenario, Canada would have changed from having a “market-friendly” majority government led by an experienced Prime Minister, and having no regionalist tendencies reflected in its voting patterns, to having a left-wing minority coalition government led by a young inexperienced Prime Minister who was chosen purely because of his family name, and having significant regionalist divisions between eastern Canada and western Canada, as well as between Quebec and the rest of the country, reflected in its voting patterns.

If the NDP defeat the Conservatives instead of the Liberals, meanwhile, which is also possible (the NDP are currently the second largest Canadian party in parliament by far), it would bring to power a party that has never been in power before in its history, which until relatively recently was viewed by many conservatives as being “far left”, and which has a leader who is only in charge because of the tragic death of the former leader of the NDP following the party’s unprecedented success in the Canadian election of 2011. (Though notably, he is far more experienced – and, arguably, far more capable – than the Liberal party leader).

Even worse, a staunchly provincialist party like the Bloc Quebecois, which is currently polling at around 10-20 percent in Quebec, could theoretically end up becoming the kingmaker in a split between the Conservatives and a Liberal-NDP coalition. Investors could turn on Canada to a certain degree if they begin to think that an increasingly fragmented result such as this is likely to occur. Thus, while the defeat of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party or the loss of its majority position in parliament would not necessarily be bad for Canada over the longer term, it arguably represents a short-term challenge for the Canadian economy – and in particular, for Canadian financial markets – during the election year ahead.

via 5 Challenges for Canada’s Economy in 2015 | Future Economics.

T-Mobile ‘Uncarrier’ Move Eliminates North American Borders

can i get a chorus of hallelujahs for T-Mobile CEO John Legere ?!!!!!
 

T-Mobile this morning announced the company’s latest entry into its “uncarrier” PR salvo: ‘Mobile without Borders,’ which provides “free” calling and data while in Canada and Mexico. According to the T-Mobile announcement, all T-Mobile Simple Choice customers will now get free calling to and from Mexico and Canada — as well as 4G LTE data service in both countries — at no additional charge.

Click for full size

The announcement is an extension of T-Mobile’s late 2013 announcement that it would offer free, 128 kbps roaming in up to 100 countries.

Starting on July 15, users who travel to Mexico and Canada will pull data usage allotments from the same pool of data they have while in the United States. “We’ve done this the Un-carrier way,” added the CEO, “reaching across borders, partnering with leading providers offering the best LTE networks, creating a simple solution right now − then not charging a penny more for it.”

How World War III became possible

A nuclear conflict with Russia is likelier than you think
“today’s tensions bear far more similarity to the period before World War I: an unstable power balance, belligerence over peripheral conflicts, entangling military commitments, disputes over the future of the European order, and dangerous uncertainty about what actions will and will not force the other party into conflict.”

How World War III became possible: A nuclear conflict with Russia is likelier than you think – Vox.

‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years

Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).

These “microswimmers” are driven and controlled by external magnetic fields, similar to how nanowires from Purdue University and ETH Zurich/Technion (recently covered on KurzweilAI) work, but based on a different design.

Instead of wires, they’re made from chains of three or more iron oxide beads, rigidly linked together via chemical bonds and magnetic force.

The beads are put in motion by an external magnetic field that causes each of them to rotate. Because they are linked together, their individual rotations cause the chain to twist like a corkscrew and this movement propels the microswimmer.

The chains are small enough­­ — the nanoparticles are 50–100 nanometers in diameter — that they can navigate in the bloodstream like a tiny boat, Fantastic Voyage movie style (but without the microscopic humans) via a catheter to navigate directly to the blocked artery, where a drill would clear it completely.

via ‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years | KurzweilAI.

‘By 2017, We’ll Be Under $1.00 per Watt Fully Installed’

Jim Hughes, CEO of vertically integrated solar developer First Solar, spoke at the recent Edison Electric Institute meeting in New Orleans.

He cited “three big trends” in solar power.

Utility-scale: The CEO of one of the world’s largest utility solar builders said, “There’s lots of talk around distributed generation, and yet the bulk of the photovoltaics added on a global basis is still utility-scale…[and] will continue to be utility-scale.”

“Cost, cost, and cost”: “We recently did a strategic review of our business and asked, ‘What does it take to trigger demand? How do we gain competitive advantage over our competitors?’ The answer is cost.” Hughes said that markets are being driven by “demand elasticity versus price in a rather spectacular fashion.” He gave two examples. “In Texas, 18 months ago, CPS put out an RFP and they had…responses that had a 4 in the front for a price — 4-cent solar.” He described that price as a “wake-up call” and added that the “response has been massive procurement” across the Southeastern U.S.

Expiration of the ITC: Hughes called the expiration of the ITC “irrelevant,” saying, “Within 18 months, we will overcome the cost delta resulting from the drop [of the ITC] from 30 percent to 10 percent. It actually opens up new markets, in our opinion, because you’ll see an increased interest in utility generation once the distortion of the ITC is behind us.”

via First Solar CEO: ‘By 2017, We’ll Be Under $1.00 per Watt Fully Installed’ : Greentech Media.