Sunday, November 11, 2007

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), what are they?

Christian VĂ©lot is a French researcher in molecular biology, working for the public domain. As a public researcher, he estimates a part of his duty to let people know about the researches all these scientists are working on. One of them is a burning topic: the Generically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
In November 2005, he gives a conference in Toulouse, France, within which he explains scientifically but in very simple ways the complexity of what GMOs are. What is a GMO, what different types of GMOs there are, the different problematics they present, why we should not mix them up and especially why we should be careful when listening to some scientists purposely mixing them up.

Fortunately a video has been made of this conference. Unfortunately for English-speaking folks, he is speaking French. For those who understand it, I really recommend to watch it, for others I will try to explain in English what he is talking about. (update 04/2011: ah, I was optimistic at the time)

For more comfort and a wider screen, watch it directly on Google Video.
(Update 04/2011: sorry, Google Video stops hosting videos – including this one – on April 29, 2011)

English Explanations (to be continued)

1. Definition of a GMO
2. Basics in biology to understand the manipulation of GMOs
3. What are the GMOs used for:
- GMOs in the basic research
- GMOs in medical research
- GMOs in the food industry
4. Health issues due to the spread of GMOs in the environment.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Dream Contract

Here is a hindu tale my teacher in World Religion shared it with us.
The Dream Contract
It was nine o'clock in the morning and Nasruddin was fast asleep. The sun had risen in the sky, the birds were singing in the trees, and Nasruddin's breakfast was getting cold. So his wife woke him up.
He woke up in rage. "Why did you wake me up just now?" he shouted. "The sun has risen in the sky," said his wife, "the birds are singing in the trees, and your breakfast is getting cold."
"Breakfast be damned," he said. "I was about to sign a contract worth a million grams of gold." With that he closed his eyes to recapture his shattered dream and those million grams of gold.
Now Nasruddin was cheating in that contract and his business partner was a tyrant. If, on recapturing his dream, Nasruddin gives up his cheating, he will become a saint. If he works strenuously to free the people from the oppression of the tyrant he will become a freedom fighter.
What kind of saint or freedom fighter are you if you are still asleep? If, in the midst of his dream, he suddenly realizes that he is dreaming, he will become awakened, enlightened.
(Picture under Creative Common licence, see terms of use.)