Daily Rounds: Malia Generation; Crowd-Sourced Second Opinions; GMO Labeling Fight Continues; The Salt Debate

The Malia Generation (The New Yorker) — “Ann Romney and her husband were correct when they said, by way of dismissing the issue of reproductive rights, that women had other things to worry about, including issues of jobs and taxes. Romney just wasn’t able to persuade women that his economic plans, at this fiscal-cliff moment, were the right ones for them as wage-earners, as securers of health insurance for children and health aides for elderly relatives, as illusion-free members of the forty-seven per cent. These issues are intertwined, and not only because women’s health is also an economic issue. When you are insulted, when you are told that endless conversations about liberty do not include control of your own body, when it becomes clear that a politician views the crisis of a woman who has just been raped as an abstraction, you begin to think about sympathy, and its limits. And you begin to think about trust.”

Getting A Global Second Opinion (Slate) — “Salvatore Iaconesi is an engineer, artist, hacker and 2012 TED fellow who teaches interaction and digital design at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. He hacked his medical records to put them online in a global search for the best treatments. Alison George: You were told you had brain cancer, and your response was to hack open your medical records and publish them online. Why? Salvatore Iaconesi: When I was diagnosed, I was a bit unsatisfied with what took place at the hospital: It was almost as if I had nothing to do with it. The doctor comes up, he tells you that you have a tumor, and it’s like you disappear and only your clinical records remain. I didn’t want to disappear. I’m not just a patient, I am a human being. I stepped out of the hospital with a copy of my digital medical records, but I found they were in a peculiar format which takes a lot of skill to open. So I hacked this format to make that data really accessible.”

After Loss, The Fight To Label Modified Foods Continues (The New York Times) — “Declaring that more than four million Californians are “on record believing we have a right to know what is in our food,” Dave Murphy, co-chairman of the Proposition 37 campaign and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, an advocacy group, said on Wednesday: “We fundamentally believe this is a dynamic moment for the food movement and we’re going forward.” Still, there is no doubt the defeat in California has robbed the movement of some momentum. Until Tuesday’s vote, labeling proponents had been saying that a victory in California, not a defeat, would spur action in other states and at the federal level. The defeat greatly reduces the chances that labels will be required, according to L. Val Giddings, a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington organization supporting policies that favor innovation. “I see little potential that the defeat in California could result in any increase in pressure for labels.” Dr. Giddings, who is a supporter of biotech crops, said it would now be more difficult for labeling proponents to raise money. “What justification can they present to their funders to pour more money down this drain?” he said. The election in California was closely watched because it had national implications. It could have led to a reduction in the use of genetically modified crops, which account for more than 80 percent of the corn, soybeans and sugar beets grown in the United States. That is because food companies, fearing that some consumers would shun products labeled genetically engineered, would instead reformulate their products to avoid such ingredients.”

Why Even Healthy People Should Watch Their Salt Intake (Time Healthland) — “Salt is a ubiquitous part of the American diet, but even healthy people should be cutting back to avoid high blood pressure and life-threatening heart disease and stroke. That’s the message from the American Heart Association (AHA) in its latest advisory. The AHA takes issue with recent studies disproving a link between salt and heart-disease risk that it says have been “widely misinterpreted.” It also re-affirms its 2011 recommendation that all Americans should limit their sodium intake to just 1,500 mg per day — less than the amount found in a single teaspoon of table salt (sodium chloride). The typical American now eats more than twice that amount.”

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