In Chile, dogs help kids with autism on their dentist visits

1 / 2
In this April 28, 2017 photo, 9-year-old Diego Rosales, who has autism, interacts with therapy dog Perry before his dental appointment at the Los Andes University Medical Center on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
2 / 2
In this April 28, 2017 photo, 9-year-old Rayen Antinao gets a dental check-up as therapy dog Zucca helps keep her calm at the Los Andes University Medical Center, on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile.(AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Updated 08 May 2017
0

In Chile, dogs help kids with autism on their dentist visits

SANTIAGO, Chile: Diego Rosales was so terrified during his dental appointments when he was 4 that he kept biting his dentist.
Today, the 9-year-old is far calmer, soothed by the presence of “Zucca,” a black Labrador that helps children like him with autism face one of their worst fears.
A visit to the dentist can be daunting for any child, but it’s especially so for many with autism. They can be upset by the lights in their faces or frightened by the noises of the instruments. Some have to be sedated.
Therapy dogs have been used in many countries to calm autistic children and aid people with numerous other conditions. Raul Varela began the practice in Chile after noticing that his autistic child’s social interactions improved after spending time with the family’s black Labrador.
Varela quit his job and got certified by Spain-based Bocalan as a therapy dog trainer for children with autism.
He started a non-profit organization called Junto a Ti (“Next to You“) that specializes in visits to the dentist for autistic children. It uses six dogs, all female, because the organizers say they are more docile. And the dogs get specialized training.
“Zucca had already been trained to be around children with autism, but taking her to the dentist was different,” Varela said. “She needed to be able to resist the screaming, the noise from the drill and to stay still in the lap of the children, even when they pull their hair or their ears.”
So far, the dogs have aided about 50 children visiting a single university-run dental clinic on the southern edge of Chile’s capital. The clinic pays the equivalent of $67 for a session with a dog, though its charge for a child’s visit varies, depending on the family’s economic level.
On a recent day, Diego sat in the dentist’s chair with Zucca on his lap. There was no biting and no screaming this time. Instead, Diego continued to pet Zucca long after the dentist had plucked out one of his teeth, and he smiled when he got to take the tooth home inside a tiny box for the tooth fairy.


Restaurants could be 1st to get genetically modified salmon

Updated 21 June 2019
0

Restaurants could be 1st to get genetically modified salmon

  • The salmon produced by AquaBounty are the first genetically modified animals approved for human consumption in the US
  • They represent one way companies are pushing to transform the plants and animals we eat, even as consumer advocacy groups call for greater caution

NEW YORK: Inside an Indiana aquafarming complex, thousands of salmon eggs genetically modified to grow faster than normal are hatching into tiny fish. After growing to roughly 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in indoor tanks, they could be served in restaurants by late next year.
The salmon produced by AquaBounty are the first genetically modified animals approved for human consumption in the US. They represent one way companies are pushing to transform the plants and animals we eat, even as consumer advocacy groups call for greater caution.
AquaBounty hasn’t sold any fish in the US yet, but it says its salmon may first turn up in places like restaurants or university cafeterias, which would decide whether to tell diners that the fish are genetically modified.
“It’s their customer, not ours,” said Sylvia Wulf, AquaBounty’s CEO.
To produce its fish, Aquabounty injected Atlantic salmon with DNA from other fish species that make them grow to full size in about 18 months, which could be about twice as fast as regular salmon. The company says that’s more efficient since less feed is required. The eggs were shipped to the US from the company’s Canadian location last month after clearing final regulatory hurdles.
As AquaBounty worked through years of government approvals, several grocers including Kroger and Whole Foods responded to a campaign by consumer groups with a vow to not sell the fish.
Already, most corn and soy in the US is genetically modified to be more resistant to pests and herbicides. But as genetically modified salmon make their way to dinner plates, the pace of change to the food supply could accelerate.
This month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to simplify regulations for genetically engineered plants and animals. The move comes as companies are turning to a newer gene-editing technology that makes it easier to tinker with plant and animal DNA.
That’s blurring the lines around what should be considered a genetically modified organism, and how such foods are perceived. In 2015, an Associated Press-GfK poll found two-thirds of Americans supported labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages. The following year, Congress directed regulators to establish national standards for disclosing the presence of bioengineered foods.
But foods made with the newer gene-editing technique wouldn’t necessarily be subject to the regulation, since companies say the resulting plants and animals could theoretically be produced with conventional breeding. And while AquaBounty’s salmon was produced with an older technique, it may not always be obvious when people are buying the fish either.
The disclosure regulation will start being implemented next year, but mandatory compliance doesn’t start until 2022. And under the rules , companies can provide the disclosures through codes people scan with their phones. The disclosure also would note that products have “bioengineered” ingredients, which advocacy groups say could be confusing.
“Nobody uses that term,” said Amy van Saun of the Center for Food Safety, who noted “genetically engineered” or “genetically modified” are more common.
The center is suing over the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval of AquaBounty’s salmon, and it is among the groups that asked grocers to pledge they wouldn’t sell the fish.
The disclosure rules also do not apply to restaurants and similar food service establishments. Greg Jaffe of the Center for Science in the Public Interest noted that AquaBounty’s fish will represent a tiny fraction of the US salmon supply, and that many people may not care whether they’re eating genetically modified food. Still, he said restaurants could make the information available to customers who ask about it.
“The information should not be hidden,” Jaffe said.
AquaBounty’s Wulf noted its salmon has already been sold in Canada, where disclosure is not required. She said the company believes in transparency but questioned why people would want to know whether the fish are genetically modified.
“It’s identical to Atlantic salmon, with the exception of one gene,” she said.