Earthlings (2005)

Earthlings is a 2005 American documentary film about humankind’s total dependence on animals for economic purposes.  Presented in five chapters (pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research) the film is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, featuring music by Moby, and was written, produced and directed by Shaun Monson.”


How Not to Die describes the numerous health benefits of eating a plant-based diet. After reading through half the book, I watched Earthlings to see arguments from the animal rights activists for eliminating animal products from the dinner table. Personal health has always been my primary interest for minimizing meat consumption. But the message in this documentary is just as difficult to ignore as it is to watch.

There are some valid counter arguments to abandoning meat, which are listed in this reddit thread. The most compelling was that from an Indian man who argues he will not stop eating meat nor stop providing it for his family because he has genuine concern that his children my not survive due to malnutrition. Perhaps citizens of the more developed nations are the primary audience for this documentary.

I have watched a handful of anti-meat documentaries, and often they appeal to emotions such as shame, guilt, or anger. Earthlings takes a more objective role, showing film of industrial animal manufacturing in the United States. It was refreshing to be treated as a neutral observer, instead of being reprimanded. There are definite appeals to emotion, but the dialogue in the documentary is more calm than any I’ve seen before.

Earthlings has made me reconsider my current relationship with meat and animal products.  I imagine I have grown up with more livestock experience than many of my neighbors. I learned from my family to slaughter fish, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits for food. I attempted a pescatarian diet for several years in my twenties, but only for personal health reasons. This is the most cognizant I have been of my indirect participation in the massive consumption of animals, and what that actually means.


Three Stages of Truth

  1. Ridicule
  2. Violent Opposition
  3. Acceptance

Attributed to German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860)


Sources

Does Pure Nicotine Cause Cancer?

Cigarettes contain many chemicals that increase the risk of cancer. Polycyclic hydrocarbons and tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines are some of the more well-known carcinogens in this class.

But now, e-cigarettes appear to be isolating nicotine, and leaving behind many of the old toxins from cigarettes. This sounds like e-cigarettes may be “better” for the modern smoker. Are smokers of e-cigarettes increasing their chances of cancer later in their lives? If so, what is the risk of cancer from smoking pure nicotine?

For the sake of discussion, let’s ignore the possibility for novel cancer-inducing chemicals introduced from the various oils and heating mechanisms in e-cigarettes. Let’s assume it is possible to have a method of smoking that only exposes the smoker to nicotine and nothing else. Would this method of smoking still cause cancer?

This review of the literature on Nicotine from 2015 suggests the answer is “yes”. Nicotine alone still increases the risk of cancer for the smoker of pure nicotine.

“Several lines of evidence indicate that nicotine may contribute to the development of cancer.

“Evidence from experimental in vitro studies on cell cultures, in vivo studies on rodents as well as studies on humans inclusive of epidemiological studies indicate that nicotine itself, independent of other tobacco constituents, may stimulate a number of effects of importance in cancer development (5, 6).”


Source

NCBI: Nicotine: Carcinogenicity and Effects on Response to Cancer Treatment – A Review

The Expanding Scope of Psychiatric Epidemiology in the 21st Century

“The series of reviews commissioned by SPPE over the past year shed important insights on the current state of psychiatric epidemiology [1-5]. Our reading of this series has led us into discussions of the scope and goals of our discipline, and how, within a historical context, it is expanding in both predicted and unforeseen ways. In this editorial we first reflect on the history of our field, and how the wealth of information in these reviews provides insight into newly emerging directions of inquiry. Then we discuss major advances and remaining challenges in the field not covered in the series. Finally, we consider the overall scope and future directions of psychiatric epidemiologic inquiry in the years to come.”


Source

NCBI: The expanding scope of psychiatric epidemiology in the 21st century

Excerpts: The Profits of Nonprofit

The Profits of Nonprofit

The surprising results when drug development and altruism collide

By Megan Scudellari | January 1, 2011

“In 2002, the company identified a promising off-patent antibiotic once cast aside by a large pharmaceutical company for its lack of profitability. Since the drug had been previously approved and marketed in the late 1950s as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, iOWH was able to skip directly to a phase III clinical trial to test the drug as a treatment for visceral leishmaniasis. The trial commenced in 2003, and just three years later—record time in the drug development world—paromomycin was approved for sale in India…”

“Though the idea of a nonprofit pharmaceutical company is still new, nonprofit foundations and institutes have long been a staple in biomedical research funding in the United States. But they too are breaching the barriers between profit and nonprofit, adopting best practices from the for-profit business world…”

“Victoria Hale has also made a move toward borrowing business strategies, this time not only to enable nonprofits to develop drugs, but to make and market them without Big Pharma’s help. In 2008, she left iOWH to found a “second-generation” nonprofit pharmaceutical company called Medicines360. With a focus on women and children’s health, Medicines360 aims to become self-sustaining over time, using revenue from sales of its products at a premium price in the West to subsidize the same products for those who can’t afford them in developing countries. The company is currently developing an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception…”

“In the United States, L3Cs, low-profit, limited-liability companies, now bridge that gap. Eight states have passed legislation that permits the creation of L3Cs—defined as socially beneficial for-profit ventures. Many companies have adopted the status, including alternative-energy companies, newspapers, and food companies, but no pharmaceutical or biotech company has yet attempted the model, according to L3C experts. That’s not to say they won’t, however.”


Source

The Scientist: The Profits of Nonprofit

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