30. December 2011 00:54
Michael Morton was exonerated by DNA evidence this month after being wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and serving nearly 25 years in prison in Texas. In seeking to prove Mr. Morton’s innocence, his lawyers found in recently unsealed court records evidence that the prosecutor in the original trial, Ken Anderson, had withheld critical evidence that may have helped Mr. Morton.
The judge reviewing the case allowed Mr. Morton’s lawyers, including those from t... [More]
29. December 2011 19:07
One of the nation’s most widely planted crops — a genetically engineered corn plant that makes its own insecticide — may be losing its effectiveness because a major pest appears to be developing resistance more quickly than scientists expected.
The U.S. food supply is not in any immediate danger because the problem remains isolated. But scientists fear potentially risky farming practices could be blunting the hybrid’s sophisticated weaponry.
When it was introduced... [More]
28. December 2011 21:30
Some Vermont defense attorneys are challenging the expansion of state law that allows DNA samples to be taken from more criminal suspects and the issue is likely to end up before the state Supreme Court.
Defense attorneys across the state are claiming that requiring more people to submit DNA samples, even when they haven't been convicted of crimes, raises privacy issues.
But prosecutors contend that providing DNA samples is no more intrusive than providing fingerprints or having one's pictur... [More]
27. December 2011 18:14
The young scientist, normally calm and measured, seemed edgy when he stopped by his boss’s office.
“You are not going to believe this one,” he told Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. “I think we have an airborne H5N1 virus.”
The news, delivered one afternoon last July, was chilling. It meant that Dr. Fouchier’s research group had taken one of the most dangerous flu viruses ever known and made it even more dangerous &... [More]
26. December 2011 19:59
Monsanto's genetically engineered, drought resistant corn is deregulated, the U.S. Agriculture Department said Thursday, clearing the variety for sale.
USDA approved the variety after reviewing environmental and risk assessments, public comments and research data from Monsanto.
Corn is the most widely grown U.S. crop and farmers grew 91.9 million acres of the feed grain this year, the second-largest area since World War Two.
In its 2009 petition for approval of its GM variety, Monsanto ... [More]
22. December 2011 22:59
There’s a common saying that if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it. Leaders of Boston University’s proposed National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) – known as the BU Biolab – in the densely populated urban environmental justice community of Roxbury/ South End, have asked the state to waive required review of their plans to build a lab involving rare and lethal pathogens even though their prior risk assessments were found inadeq... [More]
21. December 2011 19:05
For the first time ever, a government advisory board is asking scientific journals not to publish details of certain biomedical experiments, for fear that the information could be used by terrorists to create deadly viruses and touch off epidemics.
In the experiments, conducted in the United States and the Netherlands, scientists created a highly transmissible form of a deadly flu virus that does not normally spread from person to person. It was an ominous step, because easy transmission... [More]
20. December 2011 22:06
Circle the calendar.
Federal regulators have scheduled a February 16 hearing in Roxbury for the public to comment on the latest safety report, known as a risk assessment, on Boston University’s controversial high-security research laboratory.
The meeting is slated for Hibernian Hall, on Dudley Street, but no time has yet been announced.
The National Institutes of Health, which is conducting the hearing, said in a posting on its website today that it will provide further details s... [More]
19. December 2011 23:35
In 2009 the San Francisco police arrested Lily Haskell when she allegedly attempted to come to the aid of a companion who had already been taken into custody during a peace demonstration. The authorities released her quickly, without pressing charges. But a little piece of Haskell remained behind in their database.
Haskell is one of hundreds of thousands who have had their DNA extracted as part of an enormous expansion of what were once categorized as criminal data banks. Police in about ... [More]
16. December 2011 23:55
Human ingenuity and compassion have prevailed in an Institute of Medicine declaration that invasive medical experiments on chimpanzees are largely unnecessary.
Though the report’s suggestions are not legally binding, the Institute is widely respected. Its judgments often shape government and academic policy. According to the report, experiments that inflict physical and mental harm to humanity’s closest living relatives are justified only when absolutely indispensable, and whe... [More]