Genetically modified apple foods GMO iStock
Genetically modified apple foods GMO iStock

How to distinguish modified, conventional and organic food



Modifying the DNA of nature is certainly adding a science fiction twist to one of the oldest psychological debates: nature versus nurture. The product of such modification comes today in the form of genetically engineered crops. Food, it seems, is growing in size.The issue with genetically modified (GM) food is two-fold. First, what exactly are we "nurturing" when we consume GM foods, in terms of their effect on our health? And secondly, seeing as an apple is no longer just an apple and potentially not keeping the doctor away, shouldn't the nature of all food be clearly labelled so we can make a conscious choice between eating natural foods or genetically "nurtured" food products?
Fierce debate rages on both sides of the fence but leaving the agricultural supply, business, moral, ethical, environmental and purist arguments aside, the question remains: to what extent are we what we eat?
It is a deeper understanding of this relationship between food consumed and our biology that is necessary to accurately evaluate the GM effect, if any. Are we merely digesting proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals present in food, or are we digesting at a deeper cellular level, inclusive of the information encoded within DNA and subsequent RNA of food?
A study published in the journal Cell Research (September, 2011), conducted by the Jiangsu Engineering Research Centre for microRNA Biology and Biotechnology at Nanjing University in China provides us with a surprising discovery. Scientists found that not only nutrients but actual "plant microRNAs were present in the sera and tissues" of the animals they were studying, all of which have consumed GM foods.
Crucially, microRNAs, or miRNAs, are responsible for turning on or shutting down certain genes. They have also been identified as key components in several major diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes.
The study demonstrated that miRNAs in crops bind to a subject?s organs, tangibly changing the behaviour of cells in the organ.
It appears we are what we eat, literally, digesting and downloading information from our food. If these findings are accurate, then engineering plant DNA essentially implies that through its consumption, we are also recoding our own DNA and changing our biology, the effects of which have been linked to diabetes and cancer to name but a few less than desirable effects.
Given this research, it seems unthinkable that there are no legal requirements for all GM foods to be labelled as such. The EU does impose more stringent labelling than the rest of the world; however, this does not include meat or dairy that has been fed GM crops. Foods from the US fall even shorter and at present there are no standard legal requirements that a food must state whether it is derived from GM crops.
This leaves consumers here in the UAE particularly vulnerable, given the vast importing of food and food products. Currently, the only way to be absolutely sure that you are not eating food products containing a GM ingredient is to choose certified organic.
However, for fresh produce, a little investigation in the supermarket will uncover vital information as Dr Frank Lipman, an author and internationally recognised expert in integrative and functional medicine, explains. The stickers attached to fruit and vegetables show how it was grown and from this code you can determine whether the fruit was genetically modified, organically grown or produced with chemical fertilisers, fungicides or herbicides.
Here is what you need to know
If there are only four numbers in the code, the item was grown conventionally or traditionally, with the use of pesticides. The last four letters of the code are simply what kind of vegetable or fruit you are holding. An example: all bananas are labelled with the code 4011.
If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with 8, then the item is a genetically modified fruit or vegetable. A genetically engineered banana would be 84011.
If there are five numbers in the PLU code, and the number starts with 9, then the item was grown organically and is not genetically modified. An organic banana would be 94011.
If you want to decipher the origin of processed foods such as cereals and other products, there?s an app for that! They are usually US-focused but as we have so many American brands in our shops here, they prove very informative. For the best of them, visit www.foodrevolution.org/blog/non-gmo-apps
- Laura Holland is a well-being consultant and nutritional therapist. Visit www.beutifulyou.co.uk
artslife@thenational.ae

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

When: April 25, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 1, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

Don't get fined

The UAE FTA requires following to be kept:

  • Records of all supplies and imports of goods and services
  • All tax invoices and tax credit notes
  • Alternative documents related to receiving goods or services
  • All tax invoices and tax credit notes
  • Alternative documents issued
  • Records of goods and services that have been disposed of or used for matters not related to business

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Coal Black Mornings

Brett Anderson

Little Brown Book Group 

The specs: 2018 Nissan Altima


Price, base / as tested: Dh78,000 / Dh97,650

Engine: 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder

Power: 182hp @ 6,000rpm

Torque: 244Nm @ 4,000rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable tranmission

Fuel consumption, combined: 7.6L / 100km

One in four Americans don't plan to retire

Nearly a quarter of Americans say they never plan to retire, according to a poll that suggests a disconnection between individuals' retirement plans and the realities of ageing in the workforce.

Experts say illness, injury, layoffs and caregiving responsibilities often force older workers to leave their jobs sooner than they'd like.

According to the poll from The Associated Press-NORC Centre for Public Affairs Research, 23 per cent of workers, including nearly two in 10 of those over 50, don't expect to stop working. Roughly another quarter of Americans say they will continue working beyond their 65th birthday.

According to government data, about one in five people 65 and older was working or actively looking for a job in June. The study surveyed 1,423 adults in February this year.

For many, money has a lot to do with the decision to keep working.

"The average retirement age that we see in the data has gone up a little bit, but it hasn't gone up that much," says Anqi Chen, assistant director of savings research at the Centre for Retirement Research at Boston College. "So people have to live in retirement much longer, and they may not have enough assets to support themselves in retirement."

When asked how financially comfortable they feel about retirement, 14 per cent of Americans under the age of 50 and 29 per cent over 50 say they feel extremely or very prepared, according to the poll. About another four in 10 older adults say they do feel somewhat prepared, while just about one-third feel unprepared. 

"One of the things about thinking about never retiring is that you didn't save a whole lot of money," says Ronni Bennett, 78, who was pushed out of her job as a New York City-based website editor at 63.

She searched for work in the immediate aftermath of her layoff, a process she describes as akin to "banging my head against a wall." Finding Manhattan too expensive without a steady stream of income, she eventually moved to Portland, Maine. A few years later, she moved again, to Lake Oswego, Oregon. "Sometimes I fantasise that if I win the lottery, I'd go back to New York," says Ms Bennett.

 

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Cultural fiesta

What: The Al Burda Festival
When: November 14 (from 10am)
Where: Warehouse421,  Abu Dhabi
The Al Burda Festival is a celebration of Islamic art and culture, featuring talks, performances and exhibitions. Organised by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, this one-day event opens with a session on the future of Islamic art. With this in mind, it is followed by a number of workshops and “masterclass” sessions in everything from calligraphy and typography to geometry and the origins of Islamic design. There will also be discussions on subjects including ‘Who is the Audience for Islamic Art?’ and ‘New Markets for Islamic Design.’ A live performance from Kuwaiti guitarist Yousif Yaseen should be one of the highlights of the day. 

Key fixtures from January 5-7

Watford v Bristol City

Liverpool v Everton

Brighton v Crystal Palace

Bournemouth v AFC Fylde or Wigan

Coventry v Stoke City

Nottingham Forest v Arsenal

Manchester United v Derby

Forest Green or Exeter v West Brom

Tottenham v AFC Wimbledon

Fleetwood or Hereford v Leicester City

Manchester City v Burnley

Shrewsbury v West Ham United

Wolves v Swansea City

Newcastle United v Luton Town

Fulham v Southampton

Norwich City v Chelsea

Museum of the Future in numbers
  • 78 metres is the height of the museum
  • 30,000 square metres is its total area
  • 17,000 square metres is the length of the stainless steel facade
  • 14 kilometres is the length of LED lights used on the facade
  • 1,024 individual pieces make up the exterior 
  • 7 floors in all, with one for administrative offices
  • 2,400 diagonally intersecting steel members frame the torus shape
  • 100 species of trees and plants dot the gardens
  • Dh145 is the price of a ticket
SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

WWE Super ShowDown results

Seth Rollins beat Baron Corbin to retain his WWE Universal title

Finn Balor defeated Andrade to stay WWE Intercontinental Championship

Shane McMahon defeated Roman Reigns

Lars Sullivan won by disqualification against Lucha House Party

Randy Orton beats Triple H

Braun Strowman beats Bobby Lashley

Kofi Kingston wins against Dolph Zigggler to retain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Mansoor Al Shehail won the 50-man Battle Royal

The Undertaker beat Goldberg

 

TWISTERS

Director: Lee Isaac Chung

Starring: Glenn Powell, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Anthony Ramos

Rating: 2.5/5

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

MATCH INFO

Liverpool v Manchester City, Sunday, 8.30pm UAE

Dengue fever symptoms

High fever (40°C/104°F)
Severe headache
Pain behind the eyes
Muscle and joint pains
Nausea
Vomiting
Swollen glands
Rash

MATCH DETAILS

Chelsea 4 

Jorginho (4 pen, 71 pen), Azpilicueta (63), James (74)

Ajax 4

Abraham (2 og), Promes (20). Kepa (35 og), van de Beek (55) 

Brief scores

Barcelona 2

Pique 36', Alena 87'

Villarreal 0

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Floward
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Abdulaziz Al Loughani and Mohamed Al Arifi
Sector: E-commerce
Total funding: About $200 million
Investors: Aljazira Capital, Rainwater Partners, STV and Impact46
Number of employees: 1,200

if you go

The flights

Direct flights from the UAE to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, are available with Air Arabia, (www.airarabia.com) Fly Dubai (www.flydubai.com) or Etihad (www.etihad.com) from Dh1,200 return including taxes. The trek described here started from Jomson, but there are many other start and end point variations depending on how you tailor your trek. To get to Jomson from Kathmandu you must first fly to the lake-side resort town of Pokhara with either Buddha Air (www.buddhaair.com) or Yeti Airlines (www.yetiairlines.com). Both charge around US$240 (Dh880) return. From Pokhara there are early morning flights to Jomson with Yeti Airlines or Simrik Airlines (www.simrikairlines.com) for around US$220 (Dh800) return. 

The trek

Restricted area permits (US$500 per person) are required for trekking in the Upper Mustang area. The challenging Meso Kanto pass between Tilcho Lake and Jomson should not be attempted by those without a lot of mountain experience and a good support team. An excellent trekking company with good knowledge of Upper Mustang, the Annaurpuna Circuit and Tilcho Lake area and who can help organise a version of the trek described here is the Nepal-UK run Snow Cat Travel (www.snowcattravel.com). Prices vary widely depending on accommodation types and the level of assistance required. 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

Quick pearls of wisdom

Focus on gratitude: And do so deeply, he says. “Think of one to three things a day that you’re grateful for. It needs to be specific, too, don’t just say ‘air.’ Really think about it. If you’re grateful for, say, what your parents have done for you, that will motivate you to do more for the world.”

Know how to fight: Shetty married his wife, Radhi, three years ago (he met her in a meditation class before he went off and became a monk). He says they’ve had to learn to respect each other’s “fighting styles” – he’s a talk it-out-immediately person, while she needs space to think. “When you’re having an argument, remember, it’s not you against each other. It’s both of you against the problem. When you win, they lose. If you’re on a team you have to win together.” 

The Secret Kingdom

Director: Matt Drummond

Stars: Alyla Browne, Alice Parkinson, Sam Everingham

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Ejari
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Yazeed Al Shamsi, Fahad Albedah, Mohammed Alkhelewy and Khalid Almunif
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $1 million
Investors: Sanabil 500 Mena, Hambro Perks' Oryx Fund and angel investors
Number of employees: 8

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Directed: Smeep Kang
Produced: Soham Rockstar Entertainment; SKE Production
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Jimmy Sheirgill, Sunny Singh, Omkar Kapoor, Rajesh Sharma
Rating: Two out of five stars 


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