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The Double Edged Sword Of Bioengineering

AUGUST 2001
ISSN 1533-3361
In This Issue
Water: The Source of Life Food News The Double Edged Sword Of Bioengineering

ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAH
Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
WATER: THE SOURCE OF LIFE
ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, teaches us in the importance and value of water, as HE says:

Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder? WE made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (Al-Anbiya: 30)

It is HE Who sends the winds like heralds of glad tidings, going before HIS Mercy: when they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, WE drive them to a land that is dead, make rain to descend thereon, and produce every kind of harvest therewith: thus shall WE raise up the dead perchance you may remember. (Al-'Araaf: 57)

... You see the earth barren and lifeless, but when WE pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth in pairs. (Al-Haj: 5)

It is HE Who has created man from water: then has HE established relationships of lineage and marriage: for your Lord has power (over all things). (Al-Furqan: 54)

And do they not see that WE do drive rain to parched soil (bare of herbage), and produce therewith crops, providing food for their cattle and themselves? Have they not the vision? (Al-Sajdah: 27)

It is clear from these ayat that without water, there cannot be life, neither human, animal nor plant. All creatures are dependent upon water for survival. Science has determined that the human body is made up of about 70% water. We need to drink water to maintain our bodily functions, including temperature regulation, delivering nutrients and oxygen, protecting tissues and joints and cleaning out toxins and wastes. In addition, making sure to drink enough water can prevent constipation, reduce the wrinkling of skin and even suppresses the appetite, which can help control weight. It's because water is essential to healthy blood flow, trouble-free functioning of the digestive tract and maintaining proper body temperature-which is especially important during exercise, when we're losing water constantly through breathing, sweating and other basic bodily functions. So the more you work out, the more important it is to keep tabs on constant replenishment.

While we may drink tea, coffee or soft drinks, they are not a substitute for water. Actually, caffeinated drinks and tend to increase fluid loss, requiring more water to make up for lost fluids. Alcohol has this same effect. In addition, the sugar in these beverages inhibits the absorption of water by the body.

It is generally agreed that the average adult requires at least 8 full glasses (60-80 ounces) of water a day. Heavy activity or exertion and high temperatures will increase fluid loss requiring even more water consumption. An easy rule of thumb is to drink one ounce of water for every two pounds of weight, so a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water a day, about 8 glasses.

Not drinking enough leads to dehydration, which can result in serious health problems including, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, asthma, headaches, allergies, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, chronic fatigue, depression and abdominal pain. We must get in the habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day, not just when we feel thirsty. In fact, when you feel thirsty, you have already begun to dehydrate, so you are already late in drinking. Other signs of dehydration or not drinking enough water are dark colored urine, dry skin.

Many of us are used to snacking on things during the day. One way to drink enough water is to keep a bottle or glass nearby and take a sip every few minutes, or chug half a glass every half hour or so. It will pay off in better health and more energy.


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FOOD NEWS
Danone International of France has paid $133 million for a 50.1% stake in Saudi Arabia's Al-Safi Foods Est., the owners of the world's largest integrated dairy. (Reported in Arab News, July 7, 2001)
A milk price war in Saudi Arabia has reduced the price of milk and dairy products about 29%. Almarai Company triggered the price war by cutting prices. This is good news for consumers but smaller Saudi dairies are concerned they will be forced out of business. (Reported in Arab News, July 9, 2001)
Consumer groups in the United States are asking for more information on ingredient labels. For example, they don't think waffles that don't contain blueberries should be labeled as blueberry waffles. Food producer organizations feel consumers look for good tasting foods and only need information about health, nutrition and safety on the labels, which is already provided.
H. J. Heinz Company of the US and Kagome Company Limited of Japan have formed a strategic alliance to explore ways of accelerating sales growth and reducing operating costs. Heinz annual sales are $10 billion while Kagome's annual sales are $1 billion. (Reported in www.food ingredientsonline.com on July 26, 2001.)
Sara Lee Corporation will acquire St. Louis based The Earthgrains Company for $2.8 billion. The deal has received US antitrust clearance. Annual sales for the companies are $17 billion and $2.6 billion respectively. (Reported in www.food ingredientsonline.com on July 24, 2001.)
Saudi Arabia has banned the import of olive oil made from pomace (the pulpy residue of olives) following reports that it is tainted with benzopyrene, a carcinogen. Spanish health authorities had issued a safety alert after discovering the carcinogen in some brands of olive oil. Other Gulf countries have joined the ban on Spanish olive oil. (Reported in Arab News, July 9, 2001)
A study by Dutch researchers indicates the fat in margarine and other hydrogenated vegetable oils reduces blood vessel function and drives down HDL levels (the good cholesterol). The American Heart Association recommends consumers use unhydrogentated oils, such as olive and canola oils. (Reported in Arab News)
eDieting is gaining in popularity these days. In the age of fast food and convenience foods, it seems convenience dieting is also a current trend. Costs of joining an eDiet are around $15 a month and dieters find the convenience and anonymity of eDieting attractive. (Reported in Arab News, July 13, 2001)
A Readers Digest report indicates that eating olive oil, fish, peas, beans and low-fat milk products may lead to fewer wrinkles. This is based on a study of the diets of 450 Australians, Swedes and Greeks. It seems foods containing more vitamin C and minerals also protect the skin from wrinkling whereas red meat, full-fat dairy products, sweets and soft drinks, may lead to more wrinkled skin. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com, July 3, 2001)
Using dairy proteins such as whey or casein will allow food producers to include more dietary fiber in processed foods without altering the taste or texture of the food. This means consumers can look forward to snack foods containing more dietary fiber in the future. For Muslims, this may cause a problem if the product is not certified Halal, since the use of whey or casein may render the product haram. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com, July 16, 2001)

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THE DOUBLE EDGED SWORD OF BIOENGINEERING
Scientists are hard at work trying to develop new foods that can increase nutrition, fight off pests, and even prevent disease. Some scientists are even working on 'prescription foods' that can be used in place of injected vaccines.

The effort involves altering the genes of food producing animals and plants so they produce products with desired effects. For example, genes in goats, sheep, pigs, and cows are being altered to produce human proteins in their milk. The protein are then extracted, purified, packaged, and prescribed as drugs. Corn genes have being altered such that the corn contains a protein that kills a common corn-eating pest. In fact, in the US, more than 76 million acres are already planted with genetically altered crops.

Edible vaccines are foods that have been altered with special genes such that eating the food spurs the production of human antibodies with the hope this will ward off specific diseases. In 1998 volunteers consumed a small piece of raw potato that had been genetically engineered to produce part of the toxin secreted by the E-coli bacterium. More than 90% of the volunteers developed an increased immunity to E-coli. Some companies are working on edible vaccines for hepatitis B and even AIDS. Companies feel edible vaccines offer the ability to produce large volumes of proteins at very economical costs. They are also easy to store, easy ability to produce, they don't need refrigeration and they don't require sterile needles for injection. This is especially important in many under underdeveloped nations that don't have the resources or facilities to store and administer injections. Imagine a granola bar containing a vaccine for hepatitis B.

On the other side, critics of bioengineering are concerned that genetic alteration can cause more harm than good. They argue allergens can be introduced into foods that are not normally present is such foods and these allergens can trigger the allergic reactions in the consumer. For example, introducing a nut-derived protein into soybeans can cause people with nut allergies to suffer allergic reactions to soybean products that were previously not a problem. Other concerns are that use of proteins derived from genetically altered animals may cause animal diseases such as mad cow to be transferred to humans.

At present foods containing genetically altered ingredients do not require special labeling. We hope that the risks and rewards are properly weighed and used to guide research and implementation of such programs and products.

(Extracted from the article Old MacDonald Had A Pharm, by Denise Mann in www.msn.com, July 26,2001)

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