Seeing Added Sugar, (Still) Safe GMOs, and CBS Seeing the Light Over Axanar | Vol. 3 / No. 29

Photo: Daniel Novta, CC BY 2.0

Seeing Added Sugar

It’s been eighteen months since John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight did their segment highlighting the problem of added sugar in western foods, but as of this week the FDA has finally spoken on the issue: starting in 2-3 years (depending on the size of the company) the nutrition labels will have to include the amount of “added sugar.” The sugar industry has lobbied long and hard to avoid this result, as they feel it unfairly demonizes their product. That said, the average American eats more than double the recommended daily intake of sugar — 20 teaspoons a day, vs. a max recommendation of 9 for an adult male. That represents 176 calories from sugar above and beyond the recommendations every single day. If those calories are extraneous to your diet — if they’re above and beyond your maintenance level of caloric consumption — that’s more than enough to gain a pound a week. Now maybe they won’t be — maybe you’re really good at taking hidden, flavour-only calories into account, but giving you a tool to better recognize it can’t hurt in the fight against obesity and obesity-related illness. Other changes to the labeling include more reasonable serving sizes (no half granola bars and quarter-cups of yogurt in what are clearly intended to be single-serving packages), a larger font for the calorie number, and the disappearance of vitamins A and C (since those deficiencies are much less common nowadays) and their replacement with iron, potassium, vitamin D, and calcium. You can find out more about the story over at the Washington Post. The new vs. old label designs are below.

Left: old / Right: new | Photo: FDA
Left: old / Right: new | Photo: FDA

GMOs Are (Still) Safe

GMO corn | Photo: Lindsay Eyink, CC BY 2.0
GMO corn test field | Photo: Lindsay Eyink, CC BY 2.0

In news that comes as a surprise to no-one who’s been paying attention to the science, a two-year meta-analysis run by twenty scientists analyzing hundreds of research papers about the risks and benefits of GM crops has concluded that there is yet no evidence (despite what you may have heard) that GMOs pose any significant risks. Sponsored by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, the study took no money from “big ag” or “big GMO” or whatever illuminatus organization folks might choose to believe in, and even included some GM skeptics. The findings, in brief, were as follows: there’s no evidence they’re unsafe to eat, and given how long people and animals have been eating them without any negative effects, there’s actually evidence there’s nothing unsafe about them as food; they do allow the food supply to be grown using fewer and less-toxic pesticides; they don’t always produce yields as high as they promise; and cross-species gene transfers are both very infrequent and never (yet) harmful. But of course the zealots over at anti-GMO groups like Food and Water Watch have come out trying to disqualify the study without even reading it, because who needs facts when you have beliefs? Anyway, you can read more about the study over at NPR and AAAS Science magazine.

CBS and Axanar Mending Fences

Axanar is Star Trek and it isn't | Photo: Axanar Productions
Axanar is Star Trek and it isn’t | Photo: Axanar Productions

You might remember back when I wrote a post about the Star Trek fan film Axanar that was being sued by CBS for copyright infringement. Back then I said what I’ll say again now: suing your fans isn’t what copyright is for. Well, it looks like CBS has seen the light. The story begins this week at a fan event for the upcoming Abramsverse Trek film “Star Trek Beyond” being directed by Justin Lin. Against the backdrop of CBS being challenged by the Language Creation Society in the copyright battle over the Klingon language, Abrams mentioned that the whole “let’s sue the fanbase” thing was so irritating to Lin that he apparently took it to the chain of command in CBS and made them reconsider. As things stand, CBS has confirmed they’re in settlement discussions with Axanar and instead are drafting a series of fan movie rules. My guess is they’ll probably require someone from CBS to be involved (for a fee) in any fan movie with a budget over a certain size, and that if profits are made it’ll have to be subject to some licensing agreement. But all of that, to me, sounds fair. I don’t think anyone’s saying the copyright holders shouldn’t have control over the profits, just that fans should be allowed to make fan work without an undue burden. They are, after all, also the people who’re going to spend their money on the CBS-licensed productions, too. You can read the Axanar folks’ statement (and see the clip of Abrams making the announcement) over at the Axanar productions blog.


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