The DNA Testing Trend Is Everywhere, But Do You Really Know What You’re Signing Up For?
May22

The DNA Testing Trend Is Everywhere, But Do You Really Know What You’re Signing Up For?

Over the last few years, personal genetic testing platforms have really taken off. The allure of sending off saliva in a tube to gain information on your ancestry has proven to be incredibly powerful. In fact, more people took personal genetic ancestry tests in 2017 than they did in all previous years combined, doubling the number of test-takers from 2016 and exceeding 12 million in total. Evidence suggests that approximately one in every 25 American adults now has access to personal genetic data, cementing that companies providing these services probably aren’t going anywhere for a while. But even if it’s tempting to find out your genetic makeup with just a simple swab, the question is: should you? DNA testing sites like Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and others have made a lot of headlines lately — and not just because more people are taking advantage of their services than ever. Ancestry was recently sued by 23andMe over alleged patent infringement and false advertising. While Ancestry claims to have double the number of DNA testing customers compared to 23andMe, the latter claimed that Ancestry infringed on U.S. patent No. 8,463,554, “Finding relatives in a database,” which outlines a method of analyzing certain genome regions to determine how closely related two individuals are. In 2016, the USPTO issued 303,051 patents. But 23andMe says that Ancestry’s infringement dates back to at least 2013. The particular method in question uses an “identical by descent” tool to compare longer genome sections to determine how closely two people are related, rather than relying on mitochondrial DNA or Y-chromosome DNA. 23andMe claims that their method is a more specific, more accurate technique that is protected by their patent; the fact that Ancestry uses this same method to identify genetic relationships, they’re infringing on that protection. That’s not the only issue 23andMe has with Ancestry. The former has also accused the latter of misleading advertising. AncestryDNA “boldly proclaimed” in an online advertisement that their platform has tested five times more regions than other DNA tests and provides five times more detail than other genetic testing available on the market. In the fine print of the advertising, Ancestry revealed that it has tested two times more regions than 23andMe — but no such disclaimers are provided in other ads. The facts being used are misleading, attests 23andMe, and spreads false information to the general public. 23andMe has demanded an injunction that would force Ancestry to stop infringing on their patent; they’ve also requested that Ancestry release a statement correcting those supposed misrepresentations and technological comparisons. 23andMe also has a problem with Ancestry’s name trademark, as they feel the word “ancestry” is...

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New Regulations Involving EOBRs Impacting Trucking Industry
May14

New Regulations Involving EOBRs Impacting Trucking Industry

For decades, the American trucking industry has employed highly accomplished professional drivers for cross-country delivery services. The American Trucking Association is now seeking new driving captains, as well as younger drivers, as more and more veteran drivers retire and leave the industry. “Trucking continues to see professional drivers as the most important safety factor on the road and, as such, we have the utmost respect for the millions of skilled truck drivers who serve America’s economy with pride,” said Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association. “For the past 32 years, America’s Road Team has elevated the visibility of truck drivers and their important work in communities throughout the country, so we look forward to selecting a new group of passionate trucking advocates and welcoming them as the next generation of Captains.” The trucking industry has faced a lot of criticism in recent years, not only due to the loss of veteran drivers, but for questionable payroll practices. The United States economy loses an estimated $7.4 billion per day (equating to about 50 million hours) due to improperly filled out time sheets. Believe it or not, but the U.S. trucking sector has led the charge in terms of workplace surveillance and electronic time sheet recording. According to The Atlantic, more than three million truckers across the U.S. are facing regulatory upheavals expected to cost the entire industry approximately $2 billion and fundamentally change the way the trucking industry is operated. There are already plenty of regulations within the trucking sector, including mandating any truck exceeding a 10,000-pound weight limit with an 80″ wide to have 2″ wide Department of Transportation (DoT) reflective tape in alternating white and red stripes. But these newer regulations will impact much more than just the vehicles themselves. Over the next few years, by law, all American truck drivers will have to carry a tracking device, an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) inside their vehicle in order to cut down payroll errors. Though these new laws will certainly help with time punch accuracy and provide safety benefits, there are many truckers who strongly oppose the new regulations. “They’re forcing me to put something in that’s not gonna help me any,” added Dick Pingel, who’s been a professional trucker for 30 years without a single shareable accident. “And they keep saying, ‘Well, it saves you time…’ You know, I can do a lot. I can write up a log book in the same amount of time that it takes me to program what I’m doing into the EOBR.” President of the Texas Trucking Association, John Esparza says that truckers’ “concerns are appreciated, but they...

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Farmers Concerned With ‘Quiet Crisis’ Across the United States
May10

Farmers Concerned With ‘Quiet Crisis’ Across the United States

The ‘quiet crisis,’ otherwise known as soil loss, can be extremely damaging to crop yields across the United States. According to CropLife, researchers at The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus have been working on a major study that could affect 4 billion acres of the planet. Ohio State soil scientist Rattan Lal, leader of the study and University Professor of Soil Science in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), found that topsoil erosion, in addition to decreasing crop productivity, is leading to major environmental issues, including the release greenhouse gasses. The researchers did find, however, that topsoil can be rebuilt in order to prevent and even reverse soil loss. “The general statement is that forming one inch of topsoil may take thousands of years,” added Lal. “[Erosion-caused crop yield losses] may not be recognized until crop production is no longer economically viable.” Conservative estimates report between 30% and 50% of crop yields are attributed to natural or synthetic commercial fertilizer. In Minnesota, famers are actually using too much fertilizer in order to combat crop yield issues, but regulators are attempting to put an end to over fertilization. According to The Free Press, farmers in Minnesota are using 10% to 15% more fertilizer than they need to for maximizing crop yields, which has lead to statewide drinking water being increasingly contaminated with nitrogen. Governor Mark Dayton announced that the governments proposed regulations would require farmers to limit fertilizer use without sacrificing their yields. If the majority of the state’s agricultural workers ignore these requests or fail to make any progress, mandatory measures would be implemented several years down the line. “This is a good step,” added Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “It’s a modest step, but it sets up a good...

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Cavity Rates Declining For Young People In The United States
May04

Cavity Rates Declining For Young People In The United States

For years, at least one in five Americans had at least one or more untreated cavities and children were the main contributors to these high cavity rates. But that might not be the case anymore. According to CNN, though young people historically have more dental problems, there are fewer dental cavities found in American youth. A new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the percentage of children with dental cavities in the U.S. has dropped from 50% in 2012 to just over 43% in 2016. The report also found a correlation between childhood dental cavities and family income levels. “The prevalence of total dental (cavities) decreased as family income levels increased, from 51.8% for youth from families living below the federal poverty level to 34.2% for youth families with income levels greater than 300% of the federal poverty level,” the CDC’s study states. WebMD reports that the study’s findings, released by the CDC on April 13, stem from an ongoing study of Americans’ health and nutrition habits conducted through physical exams at mobile health clinics and in-home interviews. “It’s encouraging to see this decline happening,” said Dr. Rosie Roldan, director of pediatric dentistry at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Additionally, the youngest children involved in the study, those between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, had the lowest rates of cavities and untreated cavities. “We’re making progress, but there’s still work to be done,” said lead researcher Dr. Eleanor Fleming, of the CDC’s National Center for Health...

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More Parents in America Remain Unmarried, Impacting One-Third of All U.S. Kids
May02

More Parents in America Remain Unmarried, Impacting One-Third of All U.S. Kids

Over the last several decades, it’s no secret that marriage has changed. For instance, people are waiting until later in life to get married. The median age for marriage in the 1950s was 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it rose to 27 for men and 26 for women. Now, fewer and fewer people are getting married at all. Even though people are unmarried, whether they never got married in the first place or they got divorced, they are still having children. In America, there are 16.6 million unmarried parents. This is a huge jump from just four million unmarried parents in 1968. According to an analysis from the Pew Research Center, 13% of children lived with unmarried parents back in 1968. Now, that number has jumped up to 35% of children that are living with unmarried or cohabitating parents as of 2017. “The share of children who will ever experience life with an unmarried parent is likely considerably higher, given how fluid U.S. families have become. One estimate suggests that by the time they turn 9, more than 20 percent of U.S. children born to a married couple and over 50 percent of those born to a cohabiting couple will have experienced the breakup of their parents, for instance. The declining stability of families is linked both to increases in cohabiting relationships, which tend to be less long-lasting than marriages, as well as long-term increases in divorce,” said Pew’s report. So what? People get divorced often, and parents are perfectly capable of being raised by parents who are not married. That may be true, but research indicates that having unmarried parents can have a negative impact on children. Economic evidence shows that married-parent families are typically better off. Pew found that single moms face a challenging economic climate, and roughly one-in-four solo parents live with their own parent. However, many single or unmarried parents still do just fine with raising their kids. A 2015 survey by Pew found 48% of adults thought the trend of more unmarried couples raising children was “bad for society”. Two-thirds felt the same way about the rise of single mothers. It seems that it is hard to tell whether unmarried parents are actually bad, or if society just thinks they are...

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