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I thought that the “Is It Local?” comedic skit on the television show, Portlandia, took local dining to a new extreme. However, I recently came across an article about consumers who are willing to pay for a DNA test to confirm the source of their meet. This demand has pushed DNA tested, traceable, meat onto restaurant menus.
DNA-traceable meat is not a new technology, as it has been used in Europe and other countries for decades, but has been slow to catch on in America. This is beginning to change according to industry experts. These experts say that DNA-traceable meat can pay off in multiple ways, including boosting consumer confidence, upping the value of a dinner, and cutting the time needed to track recalled meats.
Tracy Tonning, executive chef at Blackstone restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa thinks that “People want to know where their food is coming from and this gives you a perfect avenue for you to go ahead and find out. You can trace it back to where it came from, where it was raised… It’s a security factor for the guest, as well as the chef.” Blackstone resturant is one of more than 11,000 locations being supplied with DNA-traceable beef by Richmond-based food distributor Performance Food Group. Performance Food Group is able to do DNA tracing because it is using smaller suppliers dedicated to producing meat for the company.
Performance Food Group tested their products in some of the steakhouses it supplies, as well as surveying outside other restaurants. These surveys and tests showed consumers were willing to pay $2 or $3 more for the same cut meat if various “pleasers” were added — a higher quality of meat, traceability, as well as how the animals were treated and fed. This value only came if the customer knew about it.
Phil Lempert, a food marketing expert says that DNA-traceable meat is ”really good marketing. The awareness in general is, in my opinion, at the highest level it’s ever been — from a health stand point, from a food safety standpoint. We really need to rebuild confidence in our food and technologies like this help that.”
The process work because workers take DNA samples at processing point as well as other places along the supply chain. The samples are gathered to determine the specific animals each product came from. In addition information kept by farmers and others involved in the raising and processing of the animals can be added to give a more complete history.
In addition to rebuilding confidence in our food chain DNA tracing would also provide a faster way to identify the source of contaminated meat in the event of a recall. This could speed up the process from weeks or months to just hours. For example, it can identify the multiple animals whose parts were used in ground beef. Ground beef can be made up of meat from 1,000 different animals in a 10-pound box. DNA-tracing could point to particular animals and could even reduce the amount of meat affected by recalls, which generally are tremendously costly for producers, suppliers and others.
Clonaid™ a company that claims to be a provider of reproductive human cloning services announced that a baby born on December 26th, 2002 was the first cloned baby. The baby, called Eve, is reported to be a clone of her mother. The company provided no pictures of the baby and no names of the parents were offered, not even a vague location of their whereabouts. By 2004 Clonaid had claimed the successful birth of 13 health cloned babies.
Cloning creates a new individual using only one person’s DNA. The process is technically difficult but conceptually simple. Scientists remove the genetic material from an unfertilized egg, then introduce new DNA from a cell of the animal to be cloned. Under the proper conditions, the egg begins dividing into new cells according to the instructions in the introduced DNA.
Cloning experts have said they need to see DNA evidence done by independent experts before they believe Clonaid’s claims. As of yet this has not happened. In 2003, it appeared that the world might get the evidence of cloning when freelance TV journalist and former ABC-TV science editor Michael Guillen, said he had chosen an expert who will draw DNA samples from the Eve and her mother. Guillen, said he had no links to Clonaid and was not being paid for his work. He had picked, two “world-class, independent DNA testing labs,” where other experts will look for a match between the samples. Unfortunately the samples and the testing never appeared.
At this point human cloning is still an unfounded claim and a hot topic of debate. Clonaid’s announcement created a flood of questions: ethical, medical, political, religious — some which belonged solely to the field of science fiction up to this point it appears. Their announcement also created a flurry of legislation and/or guidelines to ban human cloning have been introduced or passed in dozens of nations, including the United States. While many countries, including Britain, Israel, Japan and Germany, already have banned human cloning.
Tired of Curly Hair? Researchers are supposedly developing a pill, which will allow you more control over your hair type.
The secret to straight or curly hair is in your genes. Scientists have now determined which gene causes your hair to curl and are now working a treatment to allow us more control over our hair from the inside, out. It is hoped that this breakthrough could lead to a pill to make hair straighter or curlier, rendering the must-have beauty accessories redundant.
In addition to controlling our straight or curly hair, discovery of the “curly gene” may have applications in police work. For instance, it may help police with DNA found at the scene of the crime by running genetic analysis and testing for this gene to see if the DNA indicates how straight, curly or wavy a suspect’s natural hair should look.
Scientists at Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Australia have identified the Trichohyalin Gene as being mainly responsible for creating curls. Although it was previously known to play a role in the development of the hair follicle, scientists have announced its role in determining curliness. Professor Nicholas Martin, author of the research, said that a variation in the gene determines the straightness or curliness of hair. He went on to state that: ‘Potentially we can now develop new treatments to make hair curlier or straighter, rather than treating the hair directly. ‘I will be discussing this with a major cosmetic company in Paris in January. ‘The most immediate application is in forensics. ‘We might be able to refine identikit pictures, using DNA to say whether the suspect had straight or curly hair.’
The study appears in the latest edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
As a DNA Relationship specialist, I have a lot of folks tell me that they assume that they are or are not related because of eye color, blood type or general appearance. Many people say things like “but the baby looks just like me” or ” I have a different eye color than everyone else in my family so I must be someone else’s child”. I am here to tell you that appearances are not always a good indication of who the parent is. I would like to offer some answers to these questions or assumptions.
It is not possible to conclusively confirm paternity by using blood typing. The only thing you can establish is that the parents of the child had specific blood groups such as A, B, AB, or O. This does not eliminate any one else within those groups. As you can see below there are many possible combinations based on blood type:
As you can see, blood type does not answer conclusively the question of paternity. And as well, appearance also cannot definitively answer that question. I have often heard, “she/he has brown eyes and both of her parents have blue eyes” so they are not sure who their parents are. Eye color cannot conclusively determine paternity. Eye color follows a polygenic inheritance pattern, and is probably controlled by 6 or more genes. Generally, these genes express themselves as one of 8 different eye colors. “Dark” is dominant at each of the 6 genes. The more dominant alleles present, the darker eye color appears. Therefore, eye color provides an even lower level of certainty than blood typing in determining paternity.
The same thing stands for hair color, let’s say red. It takes 2 carriers (Rr) to have a red-headed child.When a red hair carrier mates with a non-carrier, their children are not red headed, but some of their children will carry the red hair r allele. The frequency of the r alleles in the population in fact remains constant. We cannot easily tell if a person is a red hair carrier (Rr) without examining his/her extended family members’ hair colors or analyzing his/her MC1R gene. However, we can reasonably expect the population of red hair carriers is much greater than that of the redheads. Even though there is no redhead in your immediate family, the chance that you are a carrier (Rr) is still quite high. It is estimated that as many as one in four Caucasians in the US might be a red hair carrier. Therefore, if parents don’t actually have red hair, if they both carry the red hair gene their children can have red hair.
Therefore, as it turns out, there are so many variables when it comes to eye, hair , blood type or looks the most conclusive way to discover the truth is to perform a paternity or maternity test. I hope this provided your with valuable answers and addressed your questions or concerns.
That’s right, April 25th is National DNA Day! In 2003, it was proclaimed as such by both the US Senate and the House of Representatives. DNA Day is a remembrance of the advancements in DNA technology. Among them: a ground breaking article on the structure of DNA which was first published in 1953; and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.While you might not have the day off, you might want to stop and think about just what DNA has done for us.
Whether you are in the industry as a geneticist, scientist, doctor, of just a regular citizen, you probably understand how big of a contribution mapping our human genome has made to our lives. From medicine, cancer and disease research, the more we understand the better equipped we are to provide personalized medicine to each and every person. So this April, honor these advancements by taking some time to think about DNA and some of it’s many uses:
1. In archeology, DNA helps record genetic information of life on earth many centuries ago. This creates a data base that can be used to learn more about our planet’s past.
2. Genetic testing is used to determine the paternity or maternity of a child.
3. DNA testing can be used to help create a family tree or genealogical chart. Through genetic databases one can trace lost relatives or find their ancestral heritage. Using both the Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA people can use DNA testing to establish ancestral lines (both remain unchanged for generations). Now, technology is improving and recent advancements have been made in using non-sex chromosomes for ancestral research.
4. Prenatal genetic tests can help doctors determine whether or not the unborn fetus are predisposed to have certain health problems.
5. DNA tests are also used to help solve murders and other crimes. In recent years, many unsolved mysteries have been solved due to new and better types of analysis, as well as clearing many people found guilty of crimes that they did not commit.
6. DNA testing finds great use in the health field as DNA sometimes is the cause of rare medical conditions or heritable diseases.
7. Genetic testing is used in healths checks. For example it can be used to help determine the presence of viruses or cells that have mutated (causing cancer).
8. DNA tests are often used to reunite lost siblings or families or identify remains of the unknown. The genetics of a person leaves an indelible mark and this is used by police, military and authorities, as well as individuals to confirm relationships.
9. DNA tests on new species, or on material from outer space, help scientists and researchers determine the origins of a species and where they stand with reference to known living forms.
There are even more applications then the 9 mentioned, but this might give you a glimpse into the basic importance of our genetic relationship with ourselves and our surrounding. So, on April 25th, celebrate DNA Day!
By Briana R.
In 2006 and 2007 there was a big push to create genetic passports for, plants, animals, microorganisms and even people this now seems to be a dream of the past. What happened to genetic passports? Why was there so much interest in them? How were they going to be used?
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By Brooke Hayles
How do you define DNA testing? It is specified testing that looks for the absence or presence of DNA sequences? Your genetic information is carried inside every cells nucleus.
Deoxyribonucleic acid is the scientific name for DNA. DNA determines the cells behavior, function, and structure. What is great about DNA is that not only can it tell the identity of a person, and their relationship to others, but it can also give information about four thousand genetic conditions and diseases. Because DNA testing is becoming cheaper, it is becoming a popular form of testing.
There are many uses of DNA testing.
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Autism is a brain development disorder and the behaviors of those who have autism range from: hindered or impaired social interaction and communication; repetitive behavior such as hand-flapping, body rocking or head rolling; compulsive behavior such as arranging objects according to size, shape or color; the dislike of change; ritualistic behavior; all the way though self-injury; most of which starts before a child is three years old.
Up to date, diagnosis has always been based on behavior – the child must exhibit at least six symptoms, such as lack of social or emotional reaction, repetitive use of language, problems with all types of communication and a fixation with objects.
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There are currently only two reliable methods of prenatal, prebirth DNA Paternity or genetic testing – Amniocentesis and Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS). Both are also more typically used to detect birth defects with the fetus. There is generally quite a bit of confusion about both methods of testing. Please allow us to explain:
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For years, pregnant and nursing women have been warned to limit the amount of fish they eat, because many marine species may contain high levels of mercury, which endangers development in newborns and fetuses. Recently, National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, a children’s health group challenged the conventional wisdom, they are advising pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat more fish so as to ensure optimal brain development in their babies.
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