Scientists sound alarm over DNA editing of human embryos

by jeeg 14. March 2015 00:06
  Amid rumours that precision gene-editing techniques have been used to modify the DNA of human embryos, researchers have called for a moratorium on the use of the technology in reproductive cells. In a Comment published on 12 March in Nature1, Edward Lanphier, chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine in Washington DC, and four co-authors call on scientists to agree not to modify human embryos — even for research. “Such research could be exploited for non... [More]

D.C.’s new crime lab goes under the microscope

by jeeg 13. March 2015 22:56
  WHAT’S THE point of spending millions of dollars on a crime lab if people don’t trust its findings and won’t use it? That is one question D.C. officials should be asking in light of the unsettling revelation that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has stopped sending DNA evidence to the new Consolidated Forensic Laboratory because it claims there have been serious mistakes. Far more than money is at issue: Forensics plays a key role in determining the guilt or innocence... [More]

Privacy Questions Plague the 100,000 Genomes Project

by jeeg 12. March 2015 23:32
  With the UK launch of 23andMe’s home DNA testing kit, the legalisation of mitochondrial DNA transfer, and the 100,000 Genome Project underway, optimism abounds about the science of genetics delivering on its early promise. But there is also cause for greater caution and oversight than some biotechnology enthusiasts would like to admit. These developments are taking place with insufficient regard for their social and ethical implications. We can, however, be sure that the policie... [More]

How DNA Is Turning Us Into a Nation of Suspects

by jeeg 11. March 2015 23:50
  Every dystopian sci-fi film we’ve ever seen is suddenly converging into this present moment in a dangerous trifecta between science, technology and a government that wants to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful. By tapping into your phone lines and cell phone communications, the government knows what you say. By uploading all of your emails, opening your mail, and reading your Facebook posts and text messages, the government knows what you write. By monitoring your movem... [More]

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act: The HR Challenge

by jeeg 9. March 2015 23:18
  One of the often overlooked human resources (HR) challenges concerns the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Needless to say, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) remains ever vigilant as to the enforcement of GINA. Under Title II of GINA, it is illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. Title II of GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, restricts employers and other ent... [More]

Protecting our children’s DNA

by jeeg 5. March 2015 22:11
  Before they are more than a couple of days old, 98 percent of the roughly 4 million babies born in the U.S. each year have a small sample of blood taken and screened for a variety of inherited conditions. Caught early, many of these conditions can be successfully treated, preventing death and disability. Newborn screening is one of the great public health success stories in this country, but what happens to the samples after the screening process is completed raises serious and tro... [More]

Government DNA collection under microscope in California

by jeeg 5. March 2015 22:08
  In 2015, genes have many uses. Soon after every baby in California is born, a hospital worker extracts and logs its genetic information. It will be tested for diseases and then stashed permanently in a warehouse containing a generation of Californians’ DNA. For those charged with a felony – or, potentially, just arrested – a sliver of genetic code will be taken and placed in a state database that has grown rapidly in the last decade. As scientists have mapped the p... [More]

Working Out the Bugs in Genetic Mosquito Plan

by jeeg 4. March 2015 23:48
Five years ago when Key West, FL, had its dengue outbreak, the regional mosquito-control agency stepped up truck and aerial spraying using larvicide and handheld adulticide foggers and ovitraps, even going door-to-door to find mosquito breeding sites. Now, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District hopes a preventive measure can stave off a future outbreak of dengue or another mosquito-borne viral disease, chikungunya. The district wants to deploy mosquitoes genetically m... [More]

What happens to your genetic data when you die?

by jeeg 4. March 2015 23:45
  What happens to our digital selves after we die? Our Airbnb properties might keep hosting strangers. Our Twitter feeds will live on in the Library of Congress as a permanent record of our weirdest musings. And on Facebook, our designated custodians can continue to manage our profiles after we pass, managing the pictures, videos and status updates that serve as our digital epitaphs. But what about our most personal digital information: our genes? Millions of Americans are sharing, o... [More]

Will Monsanto Save the Monarch Butterfly?

by jeeg 3. March 2015 23:29
Monarch butterflies are in trouble. These popular insects, which have captured the public imagination with their several-thousand mile migrations, have been steadily disappearing for the past 20 years. Now, Monsanto says it wants to help turn the tide. Can the seed and pesticide giant seen by many as responsible for the monarchs’ decline make a difference for these pollinators? Or will its next batch of genetically engineered (GE) crops make matters worse?   Here’s the ba... [More]
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