What I am reading July 16th

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The effect of "Factory" farms on farmers and animals, catching up with John Ioannidis and the controversy over evidence-based care, the intimate connections of mind and body, and a look at gene drives - CRISPR on steroids?

“The breakthrough came when the farmer began telling Booker about “the hell” he and his neighbors found themselves in. They used to sell their cows to five different companies, which meant if a buyer didn’t give them a good price or demanded practices that compromised their cows or land, they could go to another. But the industry had consolidated. Now there was one buyer, and that buyer controlled everything. The farmers had been reduced from entrepreneurs to serfs. Here, finally, was common ground. The farmer hated what his business had become, and so did Booker.”

It is time to speak about factory farms and how big business is the enemy of small business and how consolidation continues to hollow out rural America simultaneously depleting the heartland and overwhelming the cities. From Vox, Farmers and animal rights activists are coming together to fight big factory farms

John Ioannidis has, for many years, been the academic face of evidence-based medicine. At least, that was the case until his response to COVID-19 made him an early victim of the “cancel” culture. Dr. Ioannidis thought that the evidence supporting lockdowns was not as available and certain as it might be and voiced those concerns. 

“His colleagues in epidemiology could barely contain their disgust, which ranged from visceral disappointment – the sort one feels when their gifted child has lost their way in college, to deep anger. He was accused of misunderstanding risk, misunderstanding statistics, and cherry picking data to prove his point.”

From The Health Care Blog, A Conversation with John Ioannidis

Mind/body. Ever since the enlightenment, when we separated the two, they have been trying to reunite. After all, the world we perceive, that becomes the basis from what we think, comes from our senses. Optical illusions have given us insight into how our perception alters reality. But as it turns out, once again, we are more complex than we have anticipated. 

“As the heart, lungs, gut and other organs transmit information to the brain, they affect how we perceive and interact with our environment in surprisingly profound ways. Recent studies of the heart in particular have given scientists new insights into the role that the body’s most basic processes play in defining our experience of the world.”

From Quanta, How Your Heart Influences What You Perceive and Fear

“Some characteristics are randomly passed on from parents to the next generation. However, gene drive forces a different type of inheritance that ensures a specific characteristic is always present in the next generation. Scientists engineer gene drive using various molecular tools.”

What exactly are gene drives? A short explainer from The Conversation, An argument for gene drive technology to genetically control insects like mosquitoes and locusts Their argument has another side, for instance, those fire ants they discuss, other scientists have found that the presence of those ants reduces the incidence of tick-borne, Gal syndrome – where you develop an allergy to meat.