Podcast: Cancer-causing baby powder? USDA cuts GMO rules; plant-based meat less healthy than you think

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In an effort to keep up with rapidly evolving technology, the USDA has revamped its biotech crop rules, sparking a new debate over how GMO and gene-edited plants should be regulated. Opioids: What are they, where did they come from and why are they so addictive? Consumers have eagerly embraced plant-based meat, but it appears they overestimate its nutritional benefits. Johnson & Johnson is pulling its talc-based baby powder out of US stores following billion-dollar lawsuits alleging it causes ovarian cancer. Is there any science behind these claims?

Join geneticist Kevin Folta and GLP editor Cameron English on this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies as they break down these latest news stories:

The USDA has streamlined its 30-year-old biotech crop regulations, a move the agency says will foster innovation as tools like CRISPR-Cas9 enable plant breeders to produce new plant varieties with qualities desirable to both consumers and farmers. Critics of the new rules claim biotech seed companies can now commercialize almost any crop they want without oversight from the federal government, while many scientists say the rules are still too strict. So, which is it?

Plant-based burgers are perfectly safe to consume and, depending on whom you ask, may alleviate the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. But none of that makes Impossible and Beyond Burgers more nutritious than meat, which a comparison of their nutrition labels will confirm. Nonetheless, consumers consistently overestimate the healthfulness of meat alternatives, because our brain plays tricks on us. How does this happen, and what can we do to become more critical consumers of food—and information?

Related article:  Health benefits of hot dog water? Profitable prank illustrates problem with food labels

America’s opioid epidemic has killed thousands of people. Everybody knows that these powerful pain killers are addictive, but few people understand the science of how they work, why they can be so deadly and what society can do to prevent unnecessary death and suffering. Here’s a short course to catch you up on what you need to know.

Following a string of expensive lawsuits, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has pulled its talc-based baby powder out of US stores. Together with investigations published by the New York Times and Reuters,  the decision has fueled speculation that the company knew its product could cause ovarian cancer and tried to cover up the evidence, but what does that evidence really show?

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Kevin M. Folta is a professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. Follow Professor Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta

Cameron J. English is the GLP’s senior agricultural genetics and special projects editor. BIO. Follow him on Twitter @camjenglish

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