30. November 2010 22:16
Foreign potentates and diplomats beware: the United States wants your DNA.
If that chief of mission seemed a bit too friendly at the last embassy party, it might be because the State Department recently instructed U.S. diplomats to collect biometric identification on their foreign interlocutors. The search for the most personal information of all is contained in WikiLeaks’ latest publication of tens of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables.
A missive from the Secretary of State&... [More]
29. November 2010 22:12
This week, an ethics board convened by U.S. President Barack Obama reached some conclusions about the ethics of this year's landmark experiment in synthetic biology, in which researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, inserted a synthetic genome into a bacterium, raising concerns about the creation of life. () For the last 5 months, the 12-member Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has been examining the safety concerns and ethical implication... [More]
24. November 2010 18:56
Legislation to outlaw the patenting of human genes has been introduced into the federal parliament by NSW Liberal senator Bill Heffernan.
In the past, patents have been granted to biotechnology companies for genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers.
But Senator Heffernan says that's "legal hocus-pocus" because patents should only be available for inventions.
"This principle, however, has been for the past 30 years the subject of a legal trick played by clever patent attorneys," ... [More]
23. November 2010 18:10
THE QUESTION of whether to allow the patenting of human genes now seems destined for the Supreme Court, following a lower-court ruling that struck down a company’s patents on genes used to test for the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. There are reasons to be skeptical of gene patents, and many voices, including these pages, have expressed the belief that they often serve to inhibit, rather than encourage, medical research.
But there is more to the question than whether curren... [More]
17. November 2010 22:48
Sarah Murdoch will have breakfast with federal MPs today as part of a campaign to end the patenting of human genes by biotechnology firms.
"Biotechnology firms should not be granted legal rights over the genes that make up our bodies," the National Breast Cancer Foundation patron said ahead of the Parliament House event.
Parliamentarians from all sides of politics are backing the campaign.
Liberal senator Bill Heffernan has been pushing the issue since 2008.
17. November 2010 22:44
A new report requested by Congress is raising questions about the safety of a high-security laboratory that the federal government plans to build in Kansas to study dangerous animal diseases.
The National Research Council, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, found "several major shortcomings" in a risk assessment conducted by the Department of Homeland Security. The agency is planning to open the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan.
The la... [More]
15. November 2010 20:09
Make Grandma spill the beans: Uncovering all the diseases that lurk in your family tree can trump costly genetic testing in predicting what illnesses you and your children are likely to face.
It may sound old-fashioned, but a Cleveland Clinic study comparing which method best uncovered an increased risk of cancer helps confirm the value of what's called a family health history.
All it costs is a little time questioning your relatives, yet good family health trees are rare. A government s... [More]
12. November 2010 22:43
Experts in the safety of genetically modified (GM) organisms have expressed concern over the release of GM mosquitoes into the wild on the Cayman Islands, which was publicised internationally only last month — a year after their initial release.
The trial of the OX513A strain of the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, developed by UK biotechnology company Oxitec, was carried out on Grand Cayman island by the Cayman Islands' Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) in 2009, fol... [More]
11. November 2010 20:01
Scientists need to change the tenor of the debate to avoid having research swept up in a larger budget cutting exercise by the next Congress.
That's one of many pieces of advice to the U.S. research community from four veteran legislators who have been strong supporters of academic research, training, and science education over the years. The quartet took part in a 4 November bipartisan roundtable discussion hosted by Science on the outlook for science after the resurgence by... [More]
9. November 2010 19:26
The Council for Responsible Genetics, a public interest organization, is hailing the Final Rule implementing the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) released today by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In its Final Rule, the EEOC lays out in detail strong protections against genetic discrimination and employer access to genetic information for every American worker.
“Americans can finally take advantage of the tremen... [More]