26. November 2013 21:10
Most observers agree that we are facing big obstacles to producing enough food sustainably in coming decades. Issues of distribution and food justice remain paramount, but production must also be adequate, and the huge impact that agriculture has on the environment must be reversed.
It is in this production context that genetic engineering (GE) is often said to be essential. But when we look at the assertions that GMOs will be needed to address these challenges, including from scientists ... [More]
25. November 2013 21:08
The Food and Drug Administration has ordered DNA testing company 23andMe to stop marketing its over-the-counter genetic test, saying it’s being sold illegally to diagnose diseases, and with no proof it actually works.
The heavily marketed test includes a kit for sampling saliva, and the company promises to offer specific health advice. “Based on your DNA, we’ll provide specific health recommendations for you,” the company says on its website. "Get personalized reco... [More]
22. November 2013 23:51
Long-simmering ideological objections to teaching evolution in Texas boiled over at a late-night meeting, as the Board of Education extended preliminary approval of new science textbooks but held up one biology tome because of alleged factual errors.
With midnight looming, some board members on Thursday singled out a textbook by Pearson Education, one of America's largest publishers. They voiced questions about the book's assertions on natural selection, noting that the theory of evolutio... [More]
21. November 2013 21:49
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek offered the first description of the intestinal protozoa or “animalcules” he discovered in 1681: “I have generally seen, in my excrement, many irregular particles of sundry sizes, most of them tending to a round figure, which are very clear and of a yellow colour [sic],” the “Father of Microbiology” told the Royal Society.
More than three centuries later, 53 researchers representing a mix of professors, grad students, postdocs, an... [More]
20. November 2013 23:12
Drivers in North Fort Worth, Texas, are being pulled over at a police roadblock and asked for saliva, blood and breath samples. They are offered $10 for a cheek-swab DNA sample, $50 for a blood sample, and nothing for a breath sample — since passive alcohol sensors gather that information the moment the driver is pulled over.
NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth found that contractors for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are stopping people as part of a $7.9 million volun... [More]
19. November 2013 00:02
Belgium needs a universal DNA database to fight crime with samples to be taken from every newborn baby or foreigner who enters the country, a senior Belgian justice official has said.
Yves Liegeois, Antwerp's Attorney General, has called for the new database to be created as a tool for police and prosecutors investigating crimes.
"I suggest collecting DNA samples from every baby that's being born and from everyone that enters the country. This would be a big step forward in the... [More]
18. November 2013 23:57
CIVIL Liberties Australia is concerned emerging DNA technology that allows police to determine eye and hair colour of potential suspects will impinge on privacy and help create a national DNA database.
But forensic officer for Victoria Police Runa Daniel said information gained from the technology that uses phenotypic markers in DNA to help identify suspects would not be kept.
The Victoria Police Forensic Services Department and the Australian Federal Police are collaborating on the Universi... [More]
15. November 2013 21:46
State lawmakers in Pennsylvania are debating a bill to allow police to take a sample of someone’s DNA after that person has been arrested for a felony. Currently, that’s only allowed once someone has been convicted.
During a hearing on the issue Tuesday, Jayann Sepich shared the story of her 22-year-old daughter, Katie.
Katie was a student at New Mexico State University in 2003 when someone raped, strangled and set her on fire. Her killer left DNA evidence, but investigators ... [More]
15. November 2013 21:39
A little-noticed proposal promises to have a huge impact on how science is done in the ‘big data’ era. In September, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) released draft guidelines on the sharing of genomic data. The guidelines, which have been in the works for five years, are a necessary and valuable update to the agency’s stance on how researchers who receive its funds must share data produced by projects that use array-based and high-throughput technologie... [More]
11. November 2013 21:41
In the 1997 film "Gattaca," wealthy parents regularly use what's called preimplantation genetic diagnosis to pick children with the most desirable characteristics. Using in vitro fertilization, PGD creates several embryos and then uses the most genetically promising one to attempt a pregnancy.
Although genetic discrimination is illegal in the Gattaca world, individuals are nevertheless separated into "valid" and "invalid" categories based on genetically assessed intelligence, susc... [More]