San Francisco meeting generates research buzz

Mar 26, 2010

A meeting this week of the American Chemical Society turned two interesting UC research projects into headline news.

UC Davis nutrition professor Paul Davis reported that walnuts slowed prostate tumors by 30 percent to 40 percent in mice, according to a UPI article. The dose was equivalent to 2.5 ounces for a typical man. Not only was prostate cancer growth reduced, but the mice had lower blood levels of a protein that is strongly associated with prostate cancer.

Completely unrelated research presented at the meeting, also from UC Davis, questioned an often-quoted UN statistic that said animal agriculture produces 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transportation combined.

Air quality specialist Frank Mitloehner says the U.N. reached its conclusions for the livestock sector by adding up emissions from farm to table, including the gases produced by growing animal feed, animals' digestive emissions, and processing meat and milk into foods. However, for transportation it only considered emissions from fossil fuels burned while driving, according to a CNN story.

"This lopsided 'analysis' is a classical apples-and-oranges analogy that truly confused the issue," Mitloehner was quoted in the original UC Davis news release announcing his results.

At least one blogger wasn't fully convinced that the world can go back to eating meat guilt free. The writer of Guardian UK Environment Blog, Leo Hickman, wondered why more media outlets hadn't reported that Mitloehner receives a significant amount of research funding from the meat industry.

"I'm not saying that Mitloehner is a bought-off scientist in the pocket of Big Beef. . .," Hickman wrote. "My beef is that this funding information has not been deemed worthy of inclusion in the reports and blogs that have been so quick to leap on Mitloehner's findings as, in their eyes, further proof that environmentalists are just a bunch of unscientific cranks."

The American Chemical Society's national conference concludes today.

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By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist