IELTS Reading: GMO

After Two Decades of GMOs, Scientists Find They Live up to Their Promise

GMO Corn

There is a great deal of misinformation out there regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). From monikers like “Frankenfoods” to general skepticism, there has been a variety of biased reactions to these organisms, even though we as a species have been genetically modifying our foods in one way or another for approximately 10,000 years. Perhaps some of this distrust will be put to rest with the emergence of a new meta-analysis that shows GM corn increases crop yields and provides significant health benefits.

The analysis, which was not limited to studies conducted in the U.S. and Canada, showed that GMO corn varieties have increased crop yields worldwide 5.6 to 24.5 percent when compared to non-GMO varieties. They also found that GM corn crops had significantly fewer (up to 36.5 percent less, depending on the species) mycotoxins — toxic chemical byproducts of crop colonization.

Some have argued that GMOs in the U.S. and Canada haven’t increased crop yields and could threaten human health; this sweeping analysis proved just the opposite.

For this study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, a group of Italian researchers took over 6,000 peer-reviewed studies from the past 21 years and performed what is known as a “meta-analysis,” a cumulative analysis that draws from hundreds or thousands of credible studies. This type of study allows researchers to draw conclusions that are more expansive and more robust than what could be taken from a single study.

Repairing Misinformation

There have been, for a variety of largely unscientific reasons, serious concern surrounding the effects of GMOs on human health. This analysis confirms that not only do GMOs pose no risk to human health, but also that they actually could have a substantive positive impact on it.

Mycotoxins, chemicals produced by fungi, are both toxic and carcinogenic to humans and animals. A significant percentage of non-GM and organic corn contain small amounts of mycotoxins. These chemicals are often removed by cleaning in developing countries, but the risk still exists.

GM corn has substantially fewer mycotoxins because the plants are modified to experience less crop damage from insects. Insects weaken a plant’s immune system and make it more susceptible to developing the fungi that produce mycotoxins.

In their analysis, the researchers stated that this study allows us “to draw unequivocal conclusions, helping to increase public confidence in food produced with genetically modified plants.”

While there will likely still be questions raised as GMOs are incorporated into agriculture, this analysis puts some severe concerns to rest. Additionally, this information might convince farmers and companies to consider the potential health and financial benefits of using genetically modified corn. Some are already calling this meta-analysis the “final chapter” in the GMO debate.

Source: futurism.com

TOEFL IBT: Writing Task 1

Need to get a high score on your TOEFL test? Confused about the Integrated Writing assignment? In this video you will learn the structure of this writing task. You will then learn how to approach the reading and listening sections, how to take notes, and finally, how to write a summary that will get you a high score. Practice this method as much as you can before writing your TOEFL exam and you WILL succeed.

IELTS Reading: Hidden Hearing Loss

hearing

Researchers from Massachusetts Eye and Ear have, for the first time, linked symptoms of difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments with evidence of cochlear synaptopathy, a condition known as “hidden hearing loss,” in college-age human subjects with normal hearing sensitivity. Continue Reading →

IELTS Reading: Damascus

Damascus

Damascus is one of the largest cities of modern Syria, and is nicknamed as the City of Jasmine. Its current population is 2.6 million people. Historians recognize it as one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world: the first recorded settlement of the city took place around 4,000 years ago. The original name of the city is so old that we do not even know which language it came from. Continue Reading →

IETLS Reading: Brain Reprograms Itself

 It’s an oft-repeated idea that blind people can compensate for their lack of sight with enhanced hearing or other abilities. The musical talents of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, both blinded at an early age, are cited as examples of blindness conferring an advantage in other areas. Then there’s the superhero Daredevil, who is blind but uses his heightened remaining senses to fight crime. It is commonly assumed that the improvement in the remaining senses is a result of learned behavior; in the absence of vision, blind people pay attention to auditory cues and learn how to use them more efficiently. But there is mounting evidence that people missing one sense don’t just learn to use the others better. The brain adapts to the loss by giving itself a makeover. If one sense is lost, the areas of the brain normally devoted to handling that sensory information do not go unused — they get rewired and put to work processing other senses.

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IELTS Reading: Why Does Coercion Work?

In the 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram famously conducted experiments in a Yale University basement showing that people will apparently inflict pain on another person simply because someone in a position of authority told them to. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Feb. 18, 2016 have taken those classic experiments one step further, providing new evidence that might help to explain why people are so easily coerced.

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IELTS Reading: Hummingbird Migration

The migration of hummingbirds is an amazing thing since hummingbirds have many different fly zones or paths in which they travel from one habitat to another. These little birds can fly far and fast. There are a few types or species of hummingbirds that make this journey every spring and fall.

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IELTS Reading: Fantasies about the Future Linked to Depression

A new psychology study suggests that some forms of “positive thinking” have limited value in the fight against depression — and could even be a hindrance. The research, published in the journal Psychological Science, found people who fantasized about an idealized future tended to have fewer depressive symptoms in the present, but faced more depressive symptoms in the future.

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