Anti-GMO Research May Be Based on Manipulated Data

An ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy is looking into allegations that some studies of genetically modified crops included data that was manipulated to make it appear that the consumption of GMOs is harmful to mammals. Frederico Infascelli, the researcher who led these studies, claims that the allegations are false, but evidence has surfaced of widespread image manipulation in his work.

Source: Anti-GMO research may be based on manipulated data

I have no problem with GMO crops… they’re probably necessary if we want to keep food prices reasonable in the face of global population growth. We can increase the number of non-GMO farms, but we’d likely be doing so at the cost of the environment. Sure, we need to be careful about what we feed people, but the amount of attention paid to GMOs needs to be reasonable and proportional to that paid to new pesticides, fertilizers and other potentially toxic farming tools. Turning an issue of food and agriculture into a political debate that brings in the public is recipe for waste and nonsense.

Cooking: Boiling vs Hot Water

The main reasons to cook food is to kill bacteria and increase nutritional value.

But what is “cooking”?  From a biology perspective, it’s the denaturation of proteins and lysis of cells in your food.  There are many ways to denature a protein: heat, acid (IE: Ceviche, cooked by the lime juice), enzymes (IE: papaya contains meat tenderizers)…  All of these methods are indeed ways to “cook” food.

99 Celsius will denature proteins almost identically to 100 Celsius. Bringing the water to a boil might create steam inside of cells, forcing them to lyse. This will have a much weaker effect on what you consider “cooking” than the temperature will, but could make a small difference, particularly in plant cells that are resistant to lysis because of their tough cell walls.

This is exactly why it is more nutritionally beneficial to steam your vegetables than to boil them.  When the cells do lyse, all of the contents get distributed among the boiling water solution, not in the cooked vegetable food you ultimately eat. Steamed veggies, on the other hand, may also have lysed cells, but the surrounding water vapor is much less efficient at leeching the contents out than was the liquid.  There are exceptions to the rule: sweet potatoes are more healthy if boiled if you don’t add something like oil after steaming.

Boiling is simply the hottest water temperature you can achieve under current atmospheric conditions. Typically, when cooking food by submerging it in a non-oil liquid, there is no danger of burning the food, so the highest available temperature is preferred because it will yield the shortest cooking time.  This is why most boiled food products, such as pastas, have high altitude instructions, which are usually as simple as “boil an extra few minutes.” The lower atmospheric pressure experienced at higher altitudes means water boils at lower temperatures, so you need to cook it longer.

There’s some debate about whether the definition of cooking is appropriate for things like pasta, bread, and legumes.

TLDR: temperature matters, not the change of state from a liquid to gas.