31. May 2010 05:11
Experts, scientists and advocates from around the world have petitioned the U.S. Senate in a concerted attempt to strip what they term a “stealth corporate giveaway” embedded in a foreign aid bill which is expected to hit the Senate floor soon. The “Global Food Security Act” (S.384), sponsored by Senators Casey (D-PA) and Lugar (R-IN), is intended to reform aid programs to focus on longer-term agricultural development, and restructure aid agencies to better respond ... [More]
30. May 2010 01:46
When the University of California at Berkeley announced a project that asks incoming freshmen for the fall of 2010 to voluntarily submit their DNA for genetic testing, the plan quickly garnered national attention and generated heated debate. The New York Times carried its account in the May 19 issue—and within 24 hours the Center for Genetics and Society (on the West Coast) and the Council for Responsible Genetics (on the East Coast) called for a halt to the project.
One o... [More]
29. May 2010 01:25
Synthetic biology can be used to make nonpolluting fuel, instant vaccines against new diseases and inexpensive medicines, but it will take time, collaboration and a nurturing regulatory environment, scientists said on Thursday.
The researchers, along with an ethicist and members of Congress, agreed the technology does not pose immediate environmental, security or ethical concerns but said everyone needs to keep an eye on developments.
Most of the hearing before the House of R... [More]
28. May 2010 21:10
I'm sorry, what?
It's a nice technical achievement. It involved the (remarkable) successful debugging of a fatal error halfway through. It didn't hurt that he had $40m on his side.
But he (I should say, "they") basically put a synthetic copy of a natural genome into a natural placeholder. No new genome was designed, only a few watermarks inserted into places that probably don't do too much anyway.
This is like showing you have the ability to upload and run a remarkably complex p... [More]
28. May 2010 00:39
Booster Shots recently blogged about an international trade meeting that addressed, among other things, whether genetically modified foods should be labeled as such.
The United States argues that they shouldn't -- because, it says, to do so is to imply that GMO foods are somehow different. The U.S. also doesn't want the rules to let countries set their own standards on this issue -- because, again, it would imply that GM foods are somehow different.
Before the meeting, which took place ... [More]
27. May 2010 21:01
Last night, GeneWatch UK's Director Dr Helen Wallace, resigned from the Steering Group for the Food Standards Agency's GM dialogue . The Steering Group meets today to agree to a GBP450,000 bid and GBP50,000 evaluation for its public dialogue on GM crops and food. Additional money will be spent on paying the civil servants and consultants who will be managing the exercise.
The budget was approved by the former Government and is overseen by the FSA, which is chaired by former Labour agricul... [More]
27. May 2010 00:13
Just weeks after the University of California, Berkeley made national headlines by asking incoming undergraduates to submit genetic samples for an orientation program about the emerging field of personalized medicine, Bay Area rival Stanford University said Monday that it will offer DNA analysis to some of its students this summer.
Unlike at Berkeley, though, the project will be limited to medical and graduate students enrolled in the School of Medicine's summer session elective "Genetics... [More]
26. May 2010 02:01
A Congressional committee opened an investigation of three direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies this week.
The House’s Committee on Energy and Commerce sent requests to the CEOs of 23andme, Navigenics and Pathway Genomics for a wide array of information about the companies’ services.
The letters, co-signed by Henry Waxman (D-California), Joe Barton (R-Texas), Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), ask for all documents dating from January 1, 2007 t... [More]
25. May 2010 18:38
It was with quite some shock that I learned that incoming freshman for the class of 2014 in the College of Letters and Science will be sent a swab with which to send in a DNA sample. A quick visit to the University website found this statement as part of the announcement: "(T)he information Berkeley students will glean from their genetic analysis can only lead to positive outcomes."
This is woefully naive. The information produced by genetic tests, even for ostensibly benign purposes, ha... [More]
25. May 2010 03:56
The Council for Responsible Genetics, a public interest organization, is raising serious concerns over the close commercial biotech connections of the Berkeley professor leading the university’s controversial genetic testing program for incoming students.
Professor Jasper Rine is the founder of several commercial biotech companies (and has served as a consultant for others), including founding a genetic testing company (Vita Path Genetics) less than a year ago. He revealed h... [More]